Cannon fire over Sarajevo and sin in Ansbach: A passage from rabbi Jacob Emden’s 18th century memoir
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The autobiography of the matriarch and businesswoman Gluckel of Hameln (1646- . 1724) has long been available in English. So has the autobiography of Solomon Maimon (1753-1800), the philosopher and notorious heretic. But the other major Jewish autobiography of the eighteenth century, that of the sage and heresy-hunter Jacob Emden (1698?-1776), has up to now been published only in the Hebrew in two faulty editions (Warsaw, 1896 and Jerusalem, 1979), and, interestingly enough, in French (1992). Emden wrote in the flowery Hebrew, replete with biblical and rabbinic allusions, that was characteristic of his time. He was also strikingly candid, almost modern, in his descriptions of himself and others. ¶ This excerpt from Emden's fascinating tale comes from a section of the book dealing with the life of his father, Chakham Zevi Ashkenazi (1660?-1718), a man after whom Emden patterned himself in many ways. It has been translated for us by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, who has written extensively on Emden's life and work. Professor Schacter is currently preparing a critical edition of the Hebrew text from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, from which this excerpt is taken.
Emden, J., & Schacter, J. J. (Trans.) (2010, Spring). Cannon fire over Sarajevo and sin in Ansbach: A passage from Rabbi Jacob Emden’s 18th Century memoir. The Jewish Review of Books. (1), 50
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