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The Jewish Enlightenment by Shmuel Feiner

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By Shmuel Feiner

At the start of the eighteenth century so much ecu Jews lived in limited settlements and concrete ghettos, remoted from the encompassing dominant Christian cultures not just by means of legislation but additionally by means of language, customized, and get dressed. through the top of the century city, upwardly cellular Jews had shaved their beards and deserted Yiddish in want of the languages of the nations during which they lived. They started to perform secular tradition they usually embraced rationalism and non-Jewish schooling as supplementations to standard Talmudic stories. the whole participation of Jews in glossy Europe and the United States will be unthinkable with no the highbrow and social revolution that was once the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment.

Unparalleled in scale and comprehensiveness, The Jewish Enlightenment reconstructs the highbrow and social revolution of the Haskalah because it steadily accrued momentum through the eighteenth century. hoping on a massive diversity of formerly unexplored resources, Shmuel Feiner absolutely perspectives the Haskalah because the Jewish model of the ecu Enlightenment and, as such, a move that can not be remoted from broader eighteenth-century eu traditions. seriously, he perspectives the Haskalah as a really ecu phenomenon and never one easily situated in Germany. He additionally exhibits how the republic of letters in eu Jewry supplied an street of secularization for Jewish society and tradition, sowing the seeds of Jewish liberalism and glossy ideology and sparking the Orthodox counterreaction that culminated in a conflict of cultures in the Jewish group. The Haskalah's confrontations with its competitors inside of Jewry represent essentially the most attention-grabbing chapters within the historical past of the dramatic and anxious come across among the Jews and modernity.

The Haskalah is likely one of the principal themes in smooth Jewish historiography. With its scope, erudition, and new research, The Jewish Enlightenment now offers the main complete remedy of this significant cultural movement.

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24 Chapter 1 Wetzlar saw himself as an outsider, not part of the traditional religious elite, and the role he undertook was that of an observer, an eyewitness with a sense of responsibility, traveling between communities, seeking the truth and reporting on the flaws he sees. He tried to convey his messages in his book Libes briv, written in spoken Yiddish, which was also the language of the popular literature. His aim was to reach all groups in Jewish society, and bypassing the men, he also sought paths to the hearts of the women—a rather rare phenomenon at the time.

As a philosopher, Wolff preached a religion that is tenable—natural theology. He demanded of the theologians that they adopt rationalistic philosophical thought, which he maintained had supreme intellectual authority, 34 Chapter 1 and he endowed the Enlightenment philosopher with autonomy. 33 The gap between the early European Enlightenment and the early Haskalah resulted from several causes: it was impossible to create an academic Jewish intellectual elite because the gates of academia were closed to Jewish teachers; there were very few Jewish philosophers, and it was necessary to legitimate the acquisition of general knowledge, which seemed to contradict the ideal of total dedication to Torah study.

And I grew very zealous, anxious to remove the taint of shame from our faces. 14 This suggests that Raphael Levi had written lengthy manuscripts on a wide variety of subjects, although only those on astronomy were published. After Mendelssohn’s book Pha¨don was published, Levi, then eighty years of age, kept up a correspondence with him, one that reflected a dialogue between two Jewish philosophers, both faithful to Leibniz’s teachings.

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