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Lecture 10

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McGill University
HIST 219
Dan Heller

Lecture 10: 7 October 2013 Salomon Rappoport, 1888 • Had some forbidden books • Younger brother snuck book in to the Yeshiva – Lillian Blue o Caught, student tells rabbi, who tells father o Book burning bonfire • Today, do not consider books dangerous; Reading back then was courageous • Haskalah movement – “intellect” – Encouraged its followers to acquire knowledge of languages, secular knowledge, and then use these skills to read Jewish texts in a new light o Served as gateway movement that would bring modern Jews to nationalism o Maskil – advocate of Haskalah; only few in town, alienated, lonely, and hiding books/sending secret letters  Serious consequences; Salomon had to flee • Question of whether or not Jews should be emancipated and integrated Haskalah • Did not seek to transform Jewish tradition • Continued to accept the notion that the Torah was divinely revealed, followed commandments • Elijah Ben Solomon – encouraged Jews to study science; felt that if Jews did not have scientific knowledge, they would have even less religious knowledge • Maskil – comes from Seykhel or “intellect”; means the cultivation of intellect • Major differences: 1. When early Rabbinic scholars integrated scientific ideas into their work, they did not have in mind a broad sweeping moral reform 2. The maskilim did not just advocate for a reform in education, but pushed Jews to use this knowledge to become active contributors to their society 3. These reforms that the Maskilim had extended beyond just ideas; they insisted that Jews needed to change how they dress, speak, and behave • Takes off in 1770s, Berlin • Moses Mendelssohn – pivotal figure in the story of the Haskalah o People gather in his house and form the first advocates of the Haskalah o Writing spoke directly to Jews, and proposed changes to how Jewish communities should function  Major change: religious affiliation ought to be based on free will, not on coercion, and that the Jewish community had to relinquish its power to punish and control Jews  Felt that he could combine this with his religious belief  Commitment to broader European culture – Circle of Friends; “Paths of Peace” 1778 – Argues that Jewish youth cannot read Hebrew and understand what it means, so German translation will bring them back to tradition and anchor their Judaism to have clear meaning of Jewish text; Jews are relying on translation written by Christian scholars, who may be changing to meaning of the texts  Dislikes Yiddish; What you speak in Enlightenment philosophy reflects core; one language is bad (Yiddish), and then there are pure languages (German, Hebrew); says the state should only use German or Hebrew • Returning to Hebrew and German can regenerate morality • “Bildung” – education and character formation – the study of secular subjects such as astronomy, math, literature, as well as other forms of “refinement” can be used for a sacred end o Person would be refined o Study can be used for a sacred end • Study: “Bi’ur” – “explanation” – new commentary on the Bible; and shows that the Bible encourages people to read other scientific texts • Emerges at the same time as enlightenment thin
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