Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I recently acquired a copy of the book Mitzvat Hamelech printed in Livorno in 1879. It is a commentary on the Azharot authored by Rabbi Chaim Hakohen (died in 1905), a dayan and rabbi in the city of Triploli, Libya.

This copy has a beautiful intriguing inscription by the author to Leo Herzberg-Fränkel, a famous Austrian/Galician writer and journalist of the period. The inscription reads: “A gift offering sent to the honorable great gaon etc. etc., Rabbi Aryeh Leib, known as Leon Hertzberg-Frankel, Brody, from me, the author, who respects and cherishes him and eagerly awaits the hearing of good tidings from him: Rabbin Haim Cohen, Tripoli de Barberie.”

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Leo Herzberg-Fränkel was an Austrian writer, originally from Brody, Galicia. Early in his career, he authored several books as well as articles for Joseph Wertheimer’s yearbook, “Jahrbuch für Israeliten.” After the Vienna revolution in 1848, Herzberg-Fränkel went to the Austrian capital and was employed at the Der Humorist (a magazine) and then at the Oesterreichischer Lloyd (a shipping company). He later he became one of the editors of the Reichszeitung.

From 1852 to 1896, he was the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brody. In recognition of his long services as member of the city council, inspector of schools, and president of the musical society, he received from the Emperor of Austria a gold medal of merit. He died in 1915.

I found no connection between these two people living on different continents and of a very different nature. What brought the author to inscribe the book to Frankel and bestow such lavish phrases on him?

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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and JudaicaUsed.com. He can be reached at JudaicaUsed@gmail.com.