Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
New Perspectives on the Haskalah$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Shmuel Feiner, David Sorkin, and Shmuel Feiner

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774617

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774617.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Naphtali Herz Wessely and the Cultural Dislocations of an Eighteenth-Century Maskil

Naphtali Herz Wessely and the Cultural Dislocations of an Eighteenth-Century Maskil

(p.27) Two Naphtali Herz Wessely and the Cultural Dislocations of an Eighteenth-Century Maskil
New Perspectives on the Haskalah

Edward Breuer

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on Naphtali Herz Wessely, who was best known for his book Divrei shalom ve'emet (Words of Peace and Truth). Regarded as the formative text of the Haskalah, this book was a passionate response to Joseph II's Edict of Tolerance; in it, Wessely urged the Jews of the Habsburg Empire to enrol their children in state schools where they would follow a balanced curriculum, studying Jewish religious subjects as well as languages, science, and the humanities in an orderly fashion. The chapter then departs from the usual portrayal of Wessely and depicts him as alienated from both traditional and modernist Jews, as well as from the other maskilim, at least during the later years of his life. It describes Wessely's indecision and frustration, in particular his sense that no one properly understood his vision of cultural renewal, and it shows how Wessely's alienation was compounded by his anxiety about the growing dimensions of religious heresy and by his disaffection from traditional circles. The chapter also analyses Wessely's early writings, revealing that his major interests were twofold: the revival of biblical Hebrew as an essential tool for a more precise understanding of rabbinic literature, and an affirmation of the credibility of the Oral Torah that was being criticized by European scholars.

Keywords:   Naphtali Herz Wessely, Divrei shalom ve'emet, Haskalah, Habsburg empire, Jews, maskilim, religious heresy, biblical Hebrew, rabbinic literature, Oral Torah

Liverpool Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.