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Full-Text Articles in Intellectual History

The 12 Covenants Of Pinchas Hurwitz: How An 18th-Century Eastern European Kabbalist Jew Produced One Of The First Hebrew Bestsellers, David B. Ruderman Oct 2016

The 12 Covenants Of Pinchas Hurwitz: How An 18th-Century Eastern European Kabbalist Jew Produced One Of The First Hebrew Bestsellers, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

The Book of the Covenant (Sefer ha-Brit) was one of the most popular Hebrew books read by modern Jews, as reflected in 40 editions spanning two centuries, including three Yiddish and six Latino translations. Part scientific encyclopedia, part manual of mystical ascent, and part plea to Jews to embrace a universal ethics, the work was widely influential in an era of radical change and internal debate for Jews as well as for others. The amazing popularity of the author, the Eastern European Jew Pinchas Hurwitz (1765-1821), stemmed from his kabbalistic pedigree. He offered his readers an exciting compendium of scientific ...


Early Modern Jewish History, David B. Ruderman Apr 2015

Early Modern Jewish History, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

The term "early modernity" as the name of a period roughly extending from the end of the 15th to the end of the 18th century has only recently been employed by historians of Jewish culture and society. Despite a plethora of new studies in the last several decades, there have been few attempts to define the period as a whole as a distinct epoch in Jewish history, distinguishable from both the medieval and modern periods. Some historians have remained indifferent to demarcating the period, or have simply designated it as an extension of the Middle Ages, or have labeled it ...


Are Jews The Only True Monotheists? Some Critical Reflections In Jewish Thought From The Renaissance To The Present, David B. Ruderman Jan 2015

Are Jews The Only True Monotheists? Some Critical Reflections In Jewish Thought From The Renaissance To The Present, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Monotheism, by simple definition, implies a belief in one God for all peoples, not for one particular nation. But as the Shemah prayer recalls, God spoke exclusively to Israel in insisting that God is one. This address came to define the essential nature of the Jewish faith, setting it apart from all other faiths both in the pre-modern and modern worlds. This essay explores the positions of a variety of thinkers on the question of the exclusive status of monotheism in Judaism from the Renaissance until the present day. It first discusses the challenge offered to Judaism by the Renaissance ...


The Hague Dialogues, David B. Ruderman Jan 2012

The Hague Dialogues, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Imagine the following scenario: A young scholar from Vilna, having wandered through several cities in Eastern Europe and Germany arrived in the city of the Hague at the close of the 1780s, enjoyed the material support of the richest family of Jewish merchants in the city, the Boaz family, and sought and gained the religious approval of the rabbi of the city, Judah Leib Mezerich. His name was Pinhas Elijah ben Meir Hurwitz (1765-1821) and he was about to complete the first draft of a manuscript of his soon-to-be published book, an encyclopedia of the sciences entitled Sefer ha-Brit (The ...


Buchdruck Und Jüdische Kultur In Der Frühen Neuzeit Europas, David B. Ruderman Jan 2009

Buchdruck Und Jüdische Kultur In Der Frühen Neuzeit Europas, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Ich beginne diesen Vortrag mit der Erinnerung an zwei große Geister des 16. Jahrhunderts, nämlich an den aschkenasischen Rabbiner Moses Isserles (1525/1530-1572), und insbesondere an die Publikation von Karos standardisiertem Kodex des jüdischen Gesetzes.1 Der Kodex wurde 1565 in Venedig erstmals veröffentlicht und dann 1578-80 in Krakau mitsamt den Kommentaren von Moses Isserles neu aufgelegt. Isserles führte diesen Text kühn in seiner Jeschiwa in Krakau ein, wodurch er nicht nur die gesamte aschkenasische Gesetzepraxis auf das Material reduzierte, das in diesem Sammelwerk vorgelegt wurde, sondern, mehr noch, ein neues Gesetzeskompendium schuf, bei dim die traditionellen Grenzen verschwammen, die ...


The Impact Of Early Modern Jewish Thought On The Eighteenth Century: A Challenge To The Notion Of The Sephardi Mystique, David B. Ruderman Jan 2007

The Impact Of Early Modern Jewish Thought On The Eighteenth Century: A Challenge To The Notion Of The Sephardi Mystique, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

In one of the most dramatic introductions to an elementary manual on the natural sciences, Judah Loeb Margolioth (1747-1811) opens his Or 'olam 'al hokhmat ha-teva' (1782) with the provocative words of a woman in black personifying the science of nature. She proclaims:

Who will listen and pay attention to me? Wait. I am the science of nature who in the past was the cornerstone but now I have become like a lost vessel and like a rejected definition, abandoned and forgotten and forsaken. Canals run dry [Isa. 19:6] and there is no one on the earth who cures ...


Three Anglo-Jewish Portraits And Their Legacy For Today: Moses Marcus, The Convert; Abraham Tang, The Radical Maskil; David Levi, The Defender Of Judaism, David B. Ruderman Jan 2007

Three Anglo-Jewish Portraits And Their Legacy For Today: Moses Marcus, The Convert; Abraham Tang, The Radical Maskil; David Levi, The Defender Of Judaism, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

My fascination with Anglo-Jewish history emerged by chance, but has been profound enough for me to write two books on the subject. My appreciation of the richness, diversity and significance of the history of Jewish cultural history on English soil continues to grow and deepen. There is a long tradition of Jewish historical writing, exemplified by the work of the Jewish Historical Society of England. But modern historians have barely begun to take pre-twentieth century Anglo-Jewish history seriously. The drama of modernity seems still to be regarded as a German story, beginning with Mendelssohn and continuing into Eastern Europe. Historians ...


Review Of Adam Sutcliffe, Judaism And Enlightenment, David B. Ruderman Jan 2004

Review Of Adam Sutcliffe, Judaism And Enlightenment, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Adam Sutcliffe's book represents an important new synthesis, offering novel and insightful readings of both familiar and less-known thinkers. Since no one before him has attempted to examine so broadly European intellectual life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the perspective of attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, Sutcliffe's monograph represents a major contribution to Jewish and Enlightenment studies alike. What is especially remarkable is the range of erudition and mastery of sources on the part of a youthful author of a first book. Based on his doctoral dissertation written at University College London, the work shows immense ...


Jewish Medicine And Science, David B. Ruderman Jan 2000

Jewish Medicine And Science, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

It is difficult to speak about Jewish involvement in the medicine and science during the Renaissance and beyond without reference to Jewish traditions of medical and scientific activity in the ancient and medieval periods. Perceiving themselves as proud heirs of such medieval luminaries as the physician Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), the astrologer Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164), and the astronomer Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides; 1288-1344), as well as the biblical Abraham, Solomon, and the ancient rabbis, Jewish thinkers living in early modern Europe continued to believe that the study of nature was a supreme religious ideal and that the roots of magic ...


Philosophy, Kabbalah And Science In The Culture Of The Italian Ghetto: On The Debate Between Samson Morpurgo And Aviad Sar Shalom Basilae, David B. Ruderman Jan 1993

Philosophy, Kabbalah And Science In The Culture Of The Italian Ghetto: On The Debate Between Samson Morpurgo And Aviad Sar Shalom Basilae, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Two common assumptions about Jewish culture in the period of the Italian ghettos have been disavowed by contemporary scholarship. First, that in contrast to the earlier period of the Renaissance, Jewish culture had become and arid intellectual desert, relatively devoid of contact with the outstide world, sterile and uncreative, isolated and absorbed in pietistic and messianic delirium; and second, that the primary agent of this cultural retreat, that throwback to medievalism and obscurantism, was the kabbalah. To the contrary, we have come to learn that despite the patent diminution of social and cultural contacts between Jews and Christians engendered by ...


Tragedy And Transcendence: The Meaning Of 1492 For Jewish History, David B. Ruderman Jan 1992

Tragedy And Transcendence: The Meaning Of 1492 For Jewish History, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

This year we commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of a tragic expulsion. Our history is replete with tragic moments, but this moment is of enormous significance for Jewish as well as for Christian and Moslem history. For Jews, 1492 constituted the abrupt end of an extraordinary cultural experience, a formative and repercussive period in the life of our people affecting every area of its civilization: Halakha, philosophy, kabbalah, poetry, ethical literature, messianism, political thought, and more.2 A world of enormous vitality and effervescence, a world, both in its high and low points, that can teach us a great deal ...


Jewish Preaching And The Language Of Science: The Sermons Of Azariah Figo, David B. Ruderman Jan 1992

Jewish Preaching And The Language Of Science: The Sermons Of Azariah Figo, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

The age in which the preachers of the Italian ghettos delivered their sermons was also the great age of scientific discovery in Europe. Far removed both geographically and culturally from the cramped but ornate synagogues of Venice, Ferrara, or Mantua, Galileo peered through his famous telescope, Vesalius performed his revolutionary anatomical experiments, and Bacon and Descartes reflected deeply on the new methods of fathoming the natural world from their own distinctive perspectives. Beyond the walls ostensibly separating Jews from the social and cultural life of their Christian contemporaries, a revolution was taking place in astronomy, in physics, and in the ...


Jewish Thought In Newtonian England: The Career And Writings Of David Nieto (In Memory Of Jacob J. Petuchowski), David B. Ruderman Jan 1992

Jewish Thought In Newtonian England: The Career And Writings Of David Nieto (In Memory Of Jacob J. Petuchowski), David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

David Nieto (1654-1728), the first rabbi of the new Bevis Marks Synagogue and the hakham of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation of London at the beginning of the eighteenth century, is not an unstudied figure in recent Jewish historiography. From the early portrait of Moses Gaster to the later elaborations of Cecil Roth and Moses Hyamson, and from the exhaustive bibliographical study of Israel Solomons to the pioneering study of Nieto's thought by Jacob Petuchowski, Nieto's public career and theological writings have been examined as well as any other Jewish intellectual figure of early modern Europe.1 Yet ...


Review Of Yosef Kaplan, Henry Méchoulan, And Richard H. Popkin, Menasseh Ben Israel And His World, David B. Ruderman Jan 1991

Review Of Yosef Kaplan, Henry Méchoulan, And Richard H. Popkin, Menasseh Ben Israel And His World, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

This volume is the result of a conference held in Israel in 1982 on the many aspects of the life and career of Menassh ben Israel (1604-57), described by Richard Popkin in his introduction "as a popular Jewish preacher and publisher, as a point of contact for the Jewish and Christian worlds, especially in Holland and England, as an intriguing actor in the messianic and millenarian dramas of the time, and as a thinker in his own right" (p. vii). Because of considerable scholarly interest in Dutch Sephardic Jewry in recent years (ably summarized by Yosef Kaplan in this volume ...


Hope Against Hope: Jewish And Christian Messianic Expectations In The Late Middle Ages, David B. Ruderman Jan 1991

Hope Against Hope: Jewish And Christian Messianic Expectations In The Late Middle Ages, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

In the year 1473, Francesco de Meleto, a young Florentine with delusions of prophetic grandeur, journeyed to the city of Constantinople with a companion of his native city, Benedetto Manetti. There he sought from a number of Jewish legal scholarls opinions regarding the time of the coming of the Messiah and the ultimate conversion of the Jews to Christianity.1 He was especially pleased to gain the acquaintance of one notable Rabbi who secretly confessed to him, so he claimed, that all the Jews would convert to the Christian faith if "the Messiah for whom they had waited will not ...


The Academic Study Of Judaism: A Challenge To The Reform Rabbi, David B. Ruderman Jan 1989

The Academic Study Of Judaism: A Challenge To The Reform Rabbi, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Any discussion of the Reform rabbinate and the academic study of Judaism presupposes some distinct notion of the primary function of a rabbi, as well as a clear definition of what Torah means in the context of our contemporary community and the new settings in which Jewish learning are presently located. Admittedly, both definitions that I offer are subjective and incomplete and arise from my own unique situation of being both an academic scholar and a Reform rabbi, as well as the son of a Reform rabbi.


Some Literary And Iconographic Influences Of The Renaissance And Baroque On Sefer Gei Hizzayon Of Abraham Ben Hananiyah Yagel, David B. Ruderman Jan 1988

Some Literary And Iconographic Influences Of The Renaissance And Baroque On Sefer Gei Hizzayon Of Abraham Ben Hananiyah Yagel, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

על אף חשיבותם הרבה לתולדות חיי הרוח והחברה היהודית של שלהי תקופת הרניסאנס באיטליה, עדיין לוטים בערפל הן אישיותו והן כתביו הרבים של אברהם בן חנניה יגל.1 מי שמעיין בחיבוריו העבריים חש בעליל בלמדנותו המרשימה ובמגוון שטחי התעניינותו והתמחויותיו. בדומה לחיבוריהם של בני־דורו, עזריה מן האדומים ואברהם שער אריה , ספריו של יגל מדגימים בבירור שליטה מירבית במקורות לועזיים בני־הזמן ושימוש מורכב בכתבים עבריים, לאטיניים, איטלקיים, ואפילו יווניים, שהם אפייניים ליצירה הספרותית

Translated:

In spite of their great importance to the history of Jewish spiritual life and society at the end of the Renaissance period in Italy, both ...


Rabbi And Teacher, David B. Ruderman Jan 1986

Rabbi And Teacher, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

The title rabbi (lit., my master) first appeared in ancient Palestine around the first century of the Common Era too designate an individual of exceptional learning and expertise in Jewish law. The term rav (lit., master) emerged several centuries later in Babylonia to distinguish a learned sage consecrated by his mastery of the Torah. The professional rabbinate, however, became visible only in medieval times, although the precise origin and development of this new and distinctive communal institution remain somewhat obscure.


Review Of Judah Messer Leon And Issac Rabinowitz, The Book Of The Honeycomb's Flow (Sepher Nopheth Suphim), David B. Ruderman Jan 1985

Review Of Judah Messer Leon And Issac Rabinowitz, The Book Of The Honeycomb's Flow (Sepher Nopheth Suphim), David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Published as early as 1475-76, Judah Messer Leon's Hebrew rhetorical handbook, The Book of the Honeycomb's Flow, is clearly one of the most notable examples of the interaction between the Italian Renaissance and Jewish culture. Messer Leon, an accomplished physician, Aristotelian scholar, and rabbinic luminary, lived in a number of cities in north-central Italy during the second half of the fifteenth century. Having already composed Hebrew educational treatises on grammar and logic, he now introduced to his students the third part of the medieval trivium, the study of rhetoric, and placed it squarely at the center of his ...


Review Of Paul Lawrence Rose, Bodin And The Great God Of Nature: The Moral And Religious Universe Of A Judaiser, David B. Ruderman Jan 1982

Review Of Paul Lawrence Rose, Bodin And The Great God Of Nature: The Moral And Religious Universe Of A Judaiser, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

Judaism's influence on Jean Bodin has long been appreciated by students of the French thinker's extraordinary career and multifaceted writing but never full understood. Paul Lawrence Rose examines the matter again, elevating it as a critical linchpin in comprehending Bodin's intellectual universe. For Rose, "Bodin's categories [of thought] and religious vision stemmed …from the Jewish tradition represented by the works of Philo and Maimonides." To demonstrate his thesis, Rose chooses to deemphasize the study of Bodin's thought in relation to that of his contemporaries and proposes instead a methodology based on "(1) the completeness or ...


Giovanni Mercurio Da Correggio's Appearance In Italy As Seen Through The Eyes Of An Italian Jew, David B. Ruderman Jan 1975

Giovanni Mercurio Da Correggio's Appearance In Italy As Seen Through The Eyes Of An Italian Jew, David B. Ruderman

Departmental Papers (History)

The literary evidence describing the revelation of the strange Christian prophet Giovanni Mercurio da Correggio in the communities of Italy and France at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century has been treated with considerable interest by a number of scholars. W.B. McDaniel was the first to publish the existing evidence on this unusual figure, together with the text of a hermetic plague tract attributed to him with an English translation. These sources portray a divinely inspired prophet, together with his wife, five children, and his disciples, making his way as a mendicant through ...