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APOTHEKER, ABRAHAM ASHKENAZI:

An apothecary ("aptheker," according to the customary Polish-Jewish syncopated pronunciation) and writer, whose name betokens both his nationality and his profession. He lived at Vladimir in Volhynia in the second half of the sixteenth century. He was the author of ("The Elixir of Life"), a work, written in Hebrew and in Judæo-German, on the duties of Jews of both sexes and of all conditions, or as the author expresses it: "'Elixir of Life' is this book's name, to preserve every one against sin and shame." Through the efforts of his compatriot Moses ben Shabbethai, a native of Lokaczy (not far from Vladimir), it was printed in Prague (1590), under the direction of the son of Mordecai ben Gerson Cohen. Like most books printed in Prague for the edification of women, it has become rare. Jehiel Heilprin possessed a copy of it, as it is included in the list of works which he used in compiling his "'Erke ha-Kinnuyim," and also in his "Seder haDorot," written about 1725. Another copy was owned by Rabbi David Oppenheim, a contemporary of Heilprin. This copy is at present in Oxford. A third copy, now in the British Museum, came from the Michael Library; a fourth is at Wilna, in Strashun's Library. It is not known whether a rare little work in Judæo-German, containing penitential prayers ("teḦinnot"), and printed at Prague at the same press as the "Elixir," is to be attributed to this author ("Cat. Bodl." col. 508).

Bibliography:
  • Zunz, Z. G., p. 277;
  • Steinschneider, Serapeum, 1849, p. 26;
  • idem, Cat. Bodl. col. 666. Cat. Strashun, Liḳḳuṭe Shoshanim.
G. D. G.
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