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Bidding Information
Lot #    29293
Auction End Date    1/25/2011 1:04:30 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Ma’amar Hakor Din
Title (Hebrew)    חקור דין
Author    Naphtali Herz Wessely
City    Koenigsberg
Publisher    Gruber
Publication Date    1858
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   [1], 22 pp. octavo 170:110 mm, light age staining. A very good copy bound in contemporary boards, rubbed.
   Ethical work on reward and punishment according to the early sages by Naphtali Herz Wessely. The author, Naphtali Herz Wessely (Hartwig; 1725–1805) was a noted Haskalah poet, linguist, and exegete. Wessely's ancestors had fled Poland during the Chmielnicki pogroms and settled in Wesel on the Rhine, from where the family took its name. Born in Hamburg, Wessely spent his childhood in Copenhagen, where his father was a purveyor to the king of Denmark. He received his religious education at the yeshivah of R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz , who influenced him greatly, and read literature and scientific works in a number of European languages, Associated with the Feitel Bank, Wessely's business affairs took him to Amsterdam and Berlin. In Berlin he met Moses Mendelssohn and contributed a commentary on Leviticus (Berlin, 1782) to the Biur. Wessely began his literary career with the Hebrew translation of the apocryphal work Wisdom of Solomon (from Luther's German translation), to which he appended a brief commentary, later elaborated into a full-length exegesis, Ru'aḥ Ḥen (Berlin, 1780; Warsaw, 1885). He pioneered in the revival of biblical Hebrew, and his translation, written in the vivid and lofty style of the Scriptures, prompted later Haskalah writers to translate apocryphal works into biblical Hebrew. The linguistic problems he encountered led to a number of philological works such as Gan Na'ul (or Levanon; 2 vols., Amsterdam, 1765–66; Lemberg, 1806), a work on Hebrew synonyms and roots, and Yein Levanon, a commentary on the mishnaic tractate Avot (Berlin, 1775; Warsaw, 1884), which also concentrates on linguistic aspects. While Wessely's focus is often linguistic, his exegesis shows also wide knowledge and learning, and his commentaries were well received by orthodox scholarship. He is, however, mainly known as a poet – Shirei Tiferet (1789–1802) is the major literary work of the German Haskalah – and as a pioneer in education and an advocate of the Enlightenment through his Divrei Shalom ve-Emet (1782), all in support of the Edict of Tolerance (Toleranzpatent , 1782) of Joseph II of Austria. Wessely, in addition to his poetry, also wrote commentaries. Imrei Shefer, a commentary on Genesis, is the fruit of lectures given by Wessely to young audiences in Berlin. Portions of the work were published by Mekiẓe Nirdamim (Lyck, 1868–71). Mendelssohn also asked him to write a commentary to Leviticus (Berlin, 1782) for the Biur. Writing in a light and flowing style, Wessely explains every Hebrew word and refers to earlier commentators. He attempted to reconcile the plain meaning of the Scriptures with the commentaries in the Talmud and the Midrashim by means of a detailed analysis of every word, a method which often led to lengthy and sophistic distortions of the simple meaning of the text. Mendelssohn edited the work; he shortened it, interpreted difficult passages that Wessely had failed to explain, and added comments to passages in which the opinions of the two scholars differed. The Gaon of Vilna, R. Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, praised the work, but the maskilim considered it too scholarly. Wessely's epistle Divrei Shalom ve-Emet (Berlin, 1782), is a call to the Jewish community of Austria to comply willingly with the order of the Edict of Tolerance of the Austrian emperor Joseph II to open schools for Jewish children in which German would be taught. The work is the first methodical composition in Hebrew on Jewish education written in the spirit of the Haskalah. Wessely distinguishes between two types of studies: what he called Torat ha-Adam ("human knowledge"), and instruction in the Law of God. The acquisition of human knowledge demands instruction in subjects which are necessary to man's relationship with man, namely, a training in general subjects and ethics, i.e., secular studies common to the human race. The divine teachings are the heritage of the people of Israel alone and are identical with the Torah of Moses. Jewish education should be founded on both studies, with a schooling in human knowledge preceding divine subjects, since these should serve as a basis for the study of Torah. Without general education it is impossible to understand divine teachings. Wessely came to the conclusion that he who studies the Torah without acquiring common human knowledge, will, when he grows up, become a burden upon society. His opinions were strongly opposed by the Orthodox, especially by R. Ezekiel b. Judah *Landau of Prague, R. David Tevele b. Nathan of Lissa , and the Gaon Elijah of Vilna. A bitter controversy ensued. Wessely responded to the rabbis in his epistles Rav Tov le-Veit Yisrael (Berlin, 1782); Reḥovot (Berlin, 1785); and Mishpat (Berlin, 1784), all of which were later collected under the title Divrei Shalom ve-Emet; sections were translated into French, German, Dutch, and Italian. Wessely also wrote a number of other works, the most important of which is Sefer ha-Middot or Musar Haskel (Berlin, 1784), a collection of essays on the essence of the soul and its faculties. The work reflects contemporary philosophical and ethical German thought. Sefer ha-Middot became popular among learned Jews in Eastern Europe. Some of Wessely's works are still in manuscript.
Paragraph 2    ... בענין העונש המגיע לאדם אחרי מותו ... מאת הרב רבי נפתלי הירץ וויזל ז"ל ...

בפרט יש לחשב את שם הויהבמלואו. דף כ, א: אמר המדפיס. עד כאן כבר נדפס בקונטרס המאסף תקמ"ח [חוב' טבת-אדר-א], ולפי שאינו ביד כל, חזרתי לההפיסו ... וכאשר נשאר לי נייר חלק, שאלתי עוד דברים מאת ... המחבר נר"ו, ויתן לי את זאת. דף כא, ב: שלא להוציא הנייר חלק ... העתקתי מעט מזעיר מספר שער הגמול להרמב"ן. הסכמה: ר' יעקב צבי ב"ר גמליאל מעקלענבורג, קעניגסבערג, ניסן תרי"ח.

   BE het 1117; EJ; CD-EPI 0130619
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Germany:    Checked
Other:    Haskalah
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica