Haskalah

Haskalah

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Haskalah the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 values, pressing for better integration
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, and Jewish history
Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

. Haskalah in this sense marked the beginning of the wider engagement of European Jews with the secular world, ultimately resulting in the first Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

 and the struggle for Jewish emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

. The division of Ashkenazi Jewry
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 into religious movements or denominations
Jewish denominations
Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

, especially in North America and anglophone
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

 countries, began historically as a reaction to Haskalah. Leaders of the Haskalah movement were called Maskilim (משכילים).

In a more restricted sense, haskalah can also denote the study of Biblical Hebrew and of the poetical, scientific, and critical parts of Hebrew literature. The term is sometimes used to describe modern critical study of Jewish religious books, such as the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

and Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, when used to differentiate these modern modes of study from the methods used by Orthodox Jews
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

.

Haskalah differed from Deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 of the European Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 by seeking modernised philosophical
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 and critical
Wissenschaft des Judentums
Wissenschaft des Judentums , refers to a nineteenth-century movement premised on the critical investigation of Jewish literature and culture, including rabbinic literature, using scientific methods to analyze the origins of Jewish traditions.-The Verein für Cultur und Wissenschaft der Juden:The ...

 revision within Jewish belief, and lifestyle acceptable for emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 rights. Rejectionist tendencies within it led to assimilation, motivating establishment of Reform
Reform movement in Judaism
The Reform movement in Judaism, originally named Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, is a historic and on-going religious and social movement that originated simultaneously in the early nineteenth century in the United States...

 and Neo-Orthodox
Torah im Derech Eretz
Torah im Derech Eretz is a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch , which formalizes a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world...

 denominations
Jewish denominations
Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

. Its outreach eastwards opposed resurgent mysticism and traditional scholarship
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

. While early Jewish individuals such as Spinoza and Salomon Maimon
Salomon Maimon
Salomon ben Josua Maimon was a German philosopher born of Jewish parentage in Belarus.-Early years:...

 advocated secular identity, it remained until the late 19th century for secular Jewish ideologies
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

 to replace Judaism. In the 20th century Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem
Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

 reestablished the historical significance of Jewish mysticism, dismissed by Haskalah historiography.

Origins in Germany



As long as the Jews lived in segregated
Religious segregation
Religious segregation is the separation of people according to their religion. The term has been applied to cases of religious-based segregation occurring as a social phenomenon, as well as to segregation arising from laws, whether explicit or implicit....

 communities, and as long as all social intercourse with their Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

 neighbors were limited, the rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 was the most influential member of the Jewish community. In addition to being a religious scholar and "clergy", a rabbi also acted as a civil judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 in all cases in which both parties were Jews. Rabbis sometimes had other important administrative powers, together with the community elders. The rabbinate was the highest aim of many Jewish boys, and the study of the Talmud was the means of obtaining that coveted position, or one of many other important communal distinctions. Haskalah followers advocated "coming out of ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

," not just physically but also mentally and spiritually in order to assimilate amongst Gentile nations.

The example of Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

 (1729–86), a Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n Jew, served to lead this movement, which was also shaped by Aaron Halle-Wolfssohn
Aaron Halle-Wolfssohn
Aaron Halle-Wolfssohn was a German Jew, a translator and commentator of the Tanakh and a leading writer of the Haskalah . He was born in Halle and died in Fürth. He was professor at the Königliche Wilhelmsschule at Breslau from 1792 to 1807...

 (1754–1835) and Joseph Perl
Joseph Perl
Joseph Perl , was an Ashkenazi Jewish educator and writer, a scion of the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment. He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. Born and raised in the Austrian province of Galicia shortly after its annexation in the first partition of Poland, he was a follower of hasidism in...

 (1773–1839). Mendelssohn's extraordinary success as a popular philosopher and man of letters revealed hitherto unsuspected possibilities of integration and acceptance of Jews among non-Jews. Mendelssohn also provided methods for Jews to enter the general society of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. A good knowledge of the German language was necessary to secure entrance into cultured German circles, and an excellent means of acquiring it was provided by Mendelssohn in his German translation of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. This work became a bridge over which ambitious young Jews could pass to the great world of secular knowledge. The Biur, or grammatical commentary, prepared under Mendelssohn's supervision, was designed to counteract the influence of traditional rabbinical methods of exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

. Together with the translation, it became, as it were, the primer of Haskalah.

Language played a key role in the haskalah movement, as Mendelssohn and others called for a revival in Hebrew and a reduction in the use of Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

. The result was an outpouring of new, secular literature, as well as critical studies of religious text
Religious text
Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition...

s. Julius Fürst
Julius Fürst
Julius Fürst , was a Jewish German orientalist.Fürst was a distinguished scholar of Semitic languages and literature...

 along with other German-Jewish scholars compiled Hebrew and Aramaic dictionaries and grammars. Jews also began to study and communicate in the languages of the countries in which they settled, providing another gateway for integration.

Spread of Haskalah in Eastern Europe



Haskalah did not stay restricted to Germany, however, and the movement quickly spread throughout Europe. Eastern Europe was the heartland of Rabbinic Judaism, with its two streams of Misnagdic Talmudism centred in Lithuania
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

 and other regions, and Hasidic mysticism popular in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Russia. In the 19th century Haskalah sought dissemination and transformation of traditional education and inward pious life in Eastern Europe. It adapted its message to these different environments, working with the Russian government of the Pale of Settlement
Pale of Settlement
The Pale of Settlement was the term given to a region of Imperial Russia, in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed, and beyond which Jewish permanent residency was generally prohibited...

 to influence secular educational methods, while its writers satirised Hasidic mysticism, in favour of solely Rationalist interpretation of Judaism. Isaac Baer Levinsohn
Isaac Baer Levinsohn
Isaac Baer Levinsohn , born Kremenetz, October 13, 1788; died there, February 12, 1860, was a notable Russian-Hebrew scholar, satirist, writer and Haskalah leader. He was called "the Russian Mendelssohn"...

 (1788–1860) became known as the "Russian Mendelssohn". Joseph Perl
Joseph Perl
Joseph Perl , was an Ashkenazi Jewish educator and writer, a scion of the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment. He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. Born and raised in the Austrian province of Galicia shortly after its annexation in the first partition of Poland, he was a follower of hasidism in...

's (1773–1839) satire of the Hasidic movement, "Revealer of Secrets" (Megalleh Temirim), is said to be the first modern novel in Hebrew. It was published in Vienna in 1819 under the pseudonym "Obadiah ben Pethahiah". The Haskalah's message of integration into non-Jewish society was subsequently counteracted by alternative secular Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

 advocating Folkish, Socialist or Nationalist secular Jewish identities in Eastern Europe. While Haskalah advocated Hebrew and sought to remove Yiddish, these subsequent developments advocated Yiddish Renaissance
Yiddish Renaissance
The Yiddish Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement which began among Jews in Eastern Europe during the latter part of the 19th Century. Some of the leading founders of this movement were Mendele Moykher-Sforim , I.L...

 among Maskilim. Writers of Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature encompasses all belles lettres written in Yiddish, the language of Ashkenazic Jewry which is related to Middle High German. The history of Yiddish, with its roots in central Europe and locus for centuries in Eastern Europe, is evident in its literature.It is generally described...

 variously satirised or sentimentalised Hasidic mysticism.

Effects


Even as emancipation eased integration into wider society and assimilation prospered, the haskalah also resulted in the creation of secular Jewish culture
Secular Jewish culture
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews...

, with an emphasis on Jewish history
Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

 and Jewish identity, rather than religion. This resulted in the engagement of Jews in a variety of competing ways within the countries where they lived; these included the struggle for Jewish emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

, involvement in new Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

, and later, in the face of continued persecutions in late nineteenth century Europe, the development of a Jewish Nationalism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

. One source describes these effects as, “The emancipation of the Jews brought forth two opposed movements: the cultural assimilation, begun by Moses Mendelssohn, and Zionism, founded by Theodor Herzl in 1896.”

One facet of the Haskalah was a widespread cultural adaptation, as those Jews who participated in the enlightenment began in varying degrees to participate in the cultural practices of the surrounding Gentile population. Connected with this was the birth of the Reform movement
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

, whose founders such as Israel Jacobson
Israel Jacobson
Israel Jacobson was a German philanthropist and, according to Borowitz and Patz in Explaining Reform Judaism , is considered the "father" of the Reform movement in Judaism.-Origins:...

 and Leopold Zunz
Leopold Zunz
Leopold Zunz was a German Reform rabbi and writer, the founder of what has been termed "Jewish Studies" or "Judaic Studies" , the critical investigation of Jewish literature, hymnology and ritual...

 rejected the continuing observance of those aspects of Jewish law which they classified as ritual, as opposed to moral or ethical. Even within orthodoxy the Haskalah was felt through the appearance of the Mussar Movement
Mussar movement
The Musar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term Musar , is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 meaning instruction, discipline, or conduct...

 in Lithuania and Torah im Derech Eretz
Torah im Derech Eretz
Torah im Derech Eretz is a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch , which formalizes a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world...

in Germany. Enlightened Jews sided with Gentile governments in plans to increase secular education amongst the Jewish masses, bringing them into acute conflict with the orthodox who believed this threatened Jewish life.

Another important facet of the Haskalah was its interests to non-Jewish religions. Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

 criticized some aspects of Christianity, but depicted Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as a Torah-observant rabbi, who was loyal to traditional Judaism. Mendelssohn explicitly linked positive Jewish views of Jesus with the issues of Emancipation and Jewish-Christian reconciliation. Similar revisionist views were expressed by Rabbi Isaac Ber Levinsohn and other traditional representatives of the Haskalah movement.

See also

  • Jewish emancipation
    Jewish Emancipation
    Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

  • Napoleon and the Jews
    Napoleon and the Jews
    The ascendancy of Napoleon Bonaparte proved to be an important event in European Jewish emancipation from old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited Jews' rights to property, worship, and careers.- Napoleon's Law and the Jews :...

  • Jewish assimilation
    Jewish assimilation
    Jewish assimilation refers to the cultural assimilation and social integration of Jews in their surrounding culture. Assimilation became legally possible in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment.-Background:Judaism forbids the worship of other gods...

  • Modern antisemitism
  • Schisms among the Jews
    Schisms among the Jews
    Schisms among the Jews are cultural as well as religious. They have happened as a product of historical accident, geography, and theology.-First Temple era:...

  • Reform movement in Judaism
    Reform movement in Judaism
    The Reform movement in Judaism, originally named Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, is a historic and on-going religious and social movement that originated simultaneously in the early nineteenth century in the United States...

  • Modern Jewish denominations
    Jewish denominations
    Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

  • 19th-century "Science of Judaism"
    Wissenschaft des Judentums
    Wissenschaft des Judentums , refers to a nineteenth-century movement premised on the critical investigation of Jewish literature and culture, including rabbinic literature, using scientific methods to analyze the origins of Jewish traditions.-The Verein für Cultur und Wissenschaft der Juden:The ...

  • Modern Jewish philosophies
    Jewish philosophy
    Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

  • History of Orthodox responses
    Haredi Judaism
    Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

  • Modern Orthodox scholarship synthesis
    Torah im Derech Eretz
    Torah im Derech Eretz is a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch , which formalizes a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world...

  • Talmudic opposition
    Moses Sofer
    Moses Schreiber, known to his own community and Jewish posterity as Moshe Sofer, also known by his main work Chasam Sofer, , , was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of European Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century...

  • Hasidic opposition
  • Lithuanian Ethics movement
    Mussar movement
    The Musar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term Musar , is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 meaning instruction, discipline, or conduct...

  • Secular Jewish culture
    Secular Jewish culture
    Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews...

  • Hebrew literature
    Hebrew literature
    Hebrew literature consists of ancient, medieval, and modern writings in the Hebrew language. It is one of the primary forms of Jewish literature, though there have been cases of literature written in Hebrew by non-Jews...

  • Yiddish literature
    Yiddish literature
    Yiddish literature encompasses all belles lettres written in Yiddish, the language of Ashkenazic Jewry which is related to Middle High German. The history of Yiddish, with its roots in central Europe and locus for centuries in Eastern Europe, is evident in its literature.It is generally described...

  • Yiddish Renaissance
    Yiddish Renaissance
    The Yiddish Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement which began among Jews in Eastern Europe during the latter part of the 19th Century. Some of the leading founders of this movement were Mendele Moykher-Sforim , I.L...

  • Later secular Jewish political movements
    Jewish political movements
    Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

  • 20th-century Jewish mysticism academia
    Gershom Scholem
    Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

  • Max Lilienthal
    Max Lilienthal
    Dr. Max Lilienthal was a German-born adviser for the reform of Jewish schools in Russia and later a rabbi and proponent of Reform Judaism in the United States.-Work for Russian Government:...

  • Alexander Zederbaum
  • Moshe Leib Lilienblum
    Moshe Leib Lilienblum
    Moshe Leib Lilienblum was a Jewish scholar and author born at Keidany, Kovno, October 22, 1843. From his father he learned the calculation of the course of the stars in their relation to the Hebrew calendar . At the age of thirteen he organized a society of boys for the study of En Ya'aqob Moshe...


External links


  • Haskalah at The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
    The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
    The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe is a two-volume, English-language reference work on the history and culture of Eastern Europe Jewry in this region, prepared by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and published by Yale University Press in 2008.The Encyclopedia, 2,400 pages in...

  • Map of the spread of Haskalah