Although many of the remarkable developments in 18th-century Jewish life were set within the boundaries of Europe and Ashkenazi Jewry, so much was happening beyond this region.
In this fascinating podcast episode, David explores some of the most remarkable events, personalities, and contributions of Jews in the Sephardic communities of the 1700s, centred in the:
Land of Israel.
In doing so, he discusses:
R. Emmanuel Chai Rikki
R. Chayim Abulafia
R. Chayim ibn Attar, the Or Hachayim
R. Shalom Shar’abi, the Rashash.
He also relays stories of some of the most notable emissaries from the Land of Israel to the diaspora, including:
R. Haim Yosef David Azulai ben Yitzhak Zerachia, the Hida
R. Moshe Malchi
R. Raphael Carigal.
The lecture also considers developments in the “new world”, including:
In the Americas –
and in the colony of New South Wales, which was to become part of Australia –
David concludes the lecture by returning to Europe in the final years of the 18th century to look at the enormous changes happening across the continent and their implications for Jewish life in the coming century.
In this podcast episode, David examines a phase in 18th century Jewish history that he calls the ‘zenith of rabbinics’ for its extraordinary collection of learned rabbis. Among this ensemble of remarkable figures, one man towered over the rest – Elijah, the Vilna Gaon.
The Gra, as the Gaon of Vilna was also known, was an unparalleled prodigy in Jewish textual study and methodology, with an almost incomprehensible knowledge of Torah. David explores the life and contribution of the Gra and why he is one of the most revered Torah scholars of the past millennium. He also discusses the life and work of the Gra’s greatest student, Rabbi Chayim of Volozhim.
The 18th century also saw the rise of a new phenomenon in Jewish history, known as the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. Two enormously important figures to launch this seismic shift in Jewish life were the philosophers:
Moses Mendelssohn, often called the father of the Haskalah, and
Other intellectuals of note in the early days of the Haskalah that David mentions were:
Naphtali Herz Wessely.
Through the story of these impressive intellectual figures, David paints a picture of the historical circumstances, rights, challenges, and emerging opportunities for 18th century European Jews.
Providing background to this discussion, he also explores the legal and political reforms of:
Frederick the Great
David concludes with a discussion of another important figure from the 18th century, Meyer Amschel Rothschild, founder of an unprecedented banking dynasty. As a result of its tremendous business success, the Rothschild family pioneered a new type of Jewish participation and influence in broader society, stretching to the highest echelons of the European establishment.
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