Leading Through Upheaval: 19th Century Rabbis
The rabbis of 19th century Europe were community and spiritual leaders in a world of upheaval. Join Rabbi David Sedley as he profiles several notable rabbinic personalities of the time exploring the issues Jews were dealing with across the continent and how it affected the religious establishment.
Leading Through Upheaval: 19th Century Rabbis: Chatam Sofer
In this class we begin with the upheaval at the end of the 18th century — particularly Jacob Frank and his version of Sabbateanism. Then I speak about Rabbi Natan Adler, the Chatam Sofer’s main teacher. Rabbi Adler was a kabbalist and pietist who was excommunicated twice by the community of Frankfurt.
Then I speak about Rabbi Moses Schreiber (also known as the Chatam Sofer), who eventually moved to Pressburg (Bratislava) and set up the largest yeshiva in the world.
He was known for his opposition to those who wished to reform Judaism, especially the Neolog movement of Hungary.
Leading Through Upheaval: 19th Century Rabbis: Shlomo Ganzfried (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch)
Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried and his most famous book, Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, had a long-lasting impact on the Orthodox Jewish world. The Kitzur is one of the most popular Jewish books of all time, and until the middle of the 20th century one of the most influential.
Rav Ganzfried lived in Hungary at a time of upheaval – the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 followed by (even more significantly for the Hungarian Jewish world) the Congress of 1869. He strongly opposed the nascent Neolog movement, and wrote strongly against teaching secular knowledge in yeshivot.
Leading Through Upheaval: 19th Century Rabbis: The printing of the Talmud and blood libel
In the late 19th century, the Widow and Brothers Romm published the edition of the Talmud which has become the standard used today around the world. In this class we will look at the origins of the Talmud, earlier printings, and the political events that made the Romm edition the gold standard. We will also look at the blood libel of Tiszaeszlár — which in 1882-3 was reported on around the world — and show that the Romm family made a minor edit to the Talmud as a result. Echoes of that blood libel are still heard today in Hungary and elsewhere, and the case had an impact on forensic science and policework.
Rabbi David Sedley lives in Jerusalem with his wife and six children. He was born and raised in New Zealand before making Aliya in 1992. He left Israel temporarily (for eight years) to serve as a communal Rabbi in Scotland and England and returned to Israel in 2004. He has translated Rabbeinu Yonah's commentary on Pirkei Avos and is the co-author of Sefiros: Spiritual Refinement Through Counting the Omer (both Judaica Press). Over the years Rabbi Sedley has worked as a journalist, a translator, a video director and in online reputation management. He also writes a weekly Torah blog on the Times of Israel.