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Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and Hasidism: Is There Room for a Jewish Vernacular in the Modern World? Moses Mendelssohn, often considered progenitor.

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Presentation on theme: "Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and Hasidism: Is There Room for a Jewish Vernacular in the Modern World? Moses Mendelssohn, often considered progenitor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and Hasidism: Is There Room for a Jewish Vernacular in the Modern World? Moses Mendelssohn, often considered progenitor of Haskalah, hated Yiddish. Zhargon and say it as doomed to fade away as Jews became citizens (political emancipation) and as they became more “European.” Hasidism emerges around the same time and elevates the status of Yiddish.

2 HEVRUTA: Shmuel Niger, one of the foremost scholars of Yiddish Studies in the 20 th century.Shmuel Niger “Yiddish literature is unique in this one respect, that the needs of a community played the main role in its formation until recent times; Yiddish literature emerged because of external needs, not from the innermost impulse and burning of individuals thirsty for expression.” Questions: Is Yiddish literature unique in this way? Think about other literatures that may function similarly. Why is this the case? Is this a question of language/literature or of the ideology of writing? Why this quote for a discussion on Haskalah?

3 Key Terms in Understanding 17 th and 18 th Century European Jewish History and Yiddish Culture Where are Yiddish-speaking Jews? Hapsburg Empire Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth (mid 16 th c until 1792) Alsace, Hamburg, Amsterdam Why did Jews move to Poland? Aristocracy invites Jews to help with economic infrastructure. (15 th -18 th c.) Jewish jobs: tax collectors, moneylenders, trading class (mostly in Hapsburg empire), international trade, tavern keepers. Chmelnitsky Uprising/Massacres: Ukrainian national hero, Jewish mass murderer. Development of moneyed class, middlemen between Polish aristocracy and Ukrainian peasantry Yiddish-speaking Jews have a lot of autonomy: Jews have autonomy and power over: Education Religion Law: who sits on a Jewish court (bet din)? Rabbis… halacha. Community structures (local politics) Media (books, the town gossip)/Art and culture Jews and non-Jews interact: In the market Real estate transactions In the management of the estates (interacting down on the social spectrum) In the negotiations for privileges to hold arms, live in a town, pay taxes. The Jew negotiator (lobbyist): shtadtlan (always a man) Jewish women interact with non Jews in the marketplace. (piece work)

4 HEVRUTA: What is Haskalah? What is emancipation? 2 Definitions By the term "enlightenment" we denote secularization of knowledge, ending the monopoly of religion and its representatives on sources of authority and on the media of knowledge dissemination; the development of a new value system that added new moral and knowledge obligations to those required by Jewish tradition; and the creation of a "literary republic" composed of people and institutions who would research, establish, and spread knowledge on the basis of reason and secular principles. The fundamental objective of the Haskalah was to modernize Jewishness by creating a secular, but still distinctly Jewish, culture that could undergird a modern, secular Jewish identity. The opponents to this were both religious and secular. Where is the Haskalah? How does it looks different in various “national” contexts? When is it? How is it transmitted?

5 Haskalah and Yiddish Culture “ The literature of the Haskalah was both catalyst and by-product of the social, ideological, and cultural changes in contemporary Jewish society. Its role in disseminating the values of the Enlightenment, modernization, and Europeanization is inextricably bound up with its development and the expansion of its reading public.” –Iris Parush Yiddish maskilic literature: Why would someone write Maskilic literature in Yiddish? Who is the audience? To what end? I.J. Linetsky, I.M. Dik, Shomer. Note that this is the EXCEPTION not the rule among Maskilic writers. Most of them look down on these writers. Writing in Yiddish, they could ‘take cover’ under women. “To my female readers” Maintaining the gendered order of culture while simultaneously subverting it. Q: So why don’t the Maskilim advocate for the abandonment of both Jewish languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, and call for Jews to be like their fellow countrymen? Secular Hebrew literature emerges: Haskalah (enlightenment) to Tekhiyah (revival) But 19 th c. Hebrew reading circle is small: 100,000 out of 4 million readers. HISTORIOGRAPHIC DEBATE: Seidman: Enlightenment only heightened the existing gendered hierarchy between Yiddish and Hebrew and therefore between Jewish women and men. Yiddish is still lower status; Hebrew higher status. Parush: NO, there was a radical shift…women gaining power. “And whether this reading took them through the classics of European novels or the popular works in Yiddish, these women acted unknowingly or not as agents of modernization.” –Iris Parush

6 HEVRUTA Stories, it was once believed, offer a temporary reprieve from death…But stories have never enjoyed autonomy within the Jewish tradition. (Roskies, pp ) What does this mean? Why have stories never enjoyed autonomy in Jewish tradition? Storytelling connected to Jewish law Halacha (Jewish law) and aggadah (Jewish lore/storytelling)

7 Key Terms for Hasidic Yiddish Culture Hasidism: piety, “fundamentalism”—back to fundamentals of the religion; trying to interpret the original “intention” as revealed in original texts and live by them. Aesthetics comes back—music, joy, Mitnagdism: opponent to Hasidism (traditional rabbinic Judaism) Shabbetai Tsvi: false messiah; claims to be the messiah…but alas, is not. (1666-7) Kabbalah: structure of Jewish mysticism (key text Zohar) Pogroms: (From the Russian) anti-Jewish popular violence. Chmelnitsky: the king of anti-Jewish popular violence OR Ukrainian national hero. (1648-9) Baal Shem: Teacher; occult; Jewish shaman; healers; inspirers; prophets; explain the unexplainable; storytelling; mysticism; like a lama. Spiritual leader/teacher. Rabbi/Yeshivas led by a Rabbi (teacher, legal scholar, community leader…rabbi school (yeshiva)…learnedness. (Rabbi): Jewish law, halacha, this is how you should act. This is what the law says. Training grants someone rabbinic status Tsadik/Hasidic Courts led by a Tsadik (leader of Hasidic community) (rebbe), not necessarily yeshiva valedictorian; not necessarily a legal scholar; righteous conduct (not necessarily generated by law); dynastic!!!; sage/wise person; (implies followers); charismatic leadership

8 More Key Terms for Hasidism Tikkun: “to repair” key concept in Hasidism; the world is broken; creation as destruction. Need to repair. Tikkun olam (repairing the world): environmentalism, charity, volunteerism, being nice. Cosmic: fixing the mystical world. Jews have a special responsibility to fix the world. Eschatology=messianism. Kavanah (Hasidic theological concept): intentionality, purpose vs. ritualism/halacha/law. Why do 18 th c. Jews pray? Devekut: cleaving, clinging, or binding. Trying to get closer to the divine. PaRDeS (Pshat, Remez, Drash, Sod): (Simple, Looks for clues (interpretation), allegory/analogy, secret/hidden reading) Sefirot (Ten Emanations of God), p. 33 Roskies) (show web chart) Immanence (omnipresent, here and now, always here, mundane) vs. Transcendence (out there, away from here, heavenly) vs. panentheism vs. pantheism Hasid means "pious" and is employed in classical Jewish sources to designate one whose spiritual devotion extends beyond the technical requirements of Jewish religious law. The term came to denote an adherent of the popular East European Jewish religious movement whose history and doctrines are outlined below.

9 The Baal Shem Tov Okopy to Miedzhebizh

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14 Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav Miedzhebidzh to Bratslav (Breslov) to Uman

15 The Lost Princess Start with looking at the original text in Hebrew/Yiddish. What can we learn from it? What is ParDES Who is the princess? Do we understand how it fits into Kabbalah? Do we agree with Roskies? How is this significant for Yiddish culture.


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