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Bidding Information
Lot #    9035
Auction End Date    1/11/2005 1:56:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Bakashot ha-Limudim
Title (Hebrew)    בקשת הלמדין
Author    [First Ed. - Reform] Moses Mendelssohn
City    Altona
Publisher    Samuel and Judah Bon Segal
Publication Date    1829
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition. 16 pp., 175:115 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining. A good copy bound in later half cloth boards.
   Prayers in which each and every word contains the letter lamed ascribed to Moses Mendelssohn. The title page states that, I saw this document by an individual among my acquaintances, who transcribed it and gave it to me in order that it be published. However, the publisher does not make this individual’s name known. It was brought to press by Meir Hess. The text has the heading Tefillot Jekutiel and is set in vocalized Hebrew letters. Bakashot ha-Limudim was reprinted in Penei Tevel (pp. 102-05) in Amsterdam, 1872, which contains a number of Moses Mendelssohn’s works. That edition has numerous variations from this printing.

Moses ben Menahem Mendelssohn (Moses of Dessau, 1729–1786), philosopher of the German Enlightenment in the pre-Kantian period and spiritual leader of German Jewry. He is credited as being the first Jew to bring secular culture to those living an Orthodox Jewish life. He valued reason and felt that anyone could arrive logically at religious truths. He argued that what makes Judaism unique is its divine revelation of a code of law. He wrote many philosophical treatises and is considered the father of the Jewish Enlightenment. As a child, Mendelssohn suffered from a disease that left him with a curvature of the spine. The son of a Torah scribe whose family was poor but learned, Mendelssohn received a traditional Jewish education under R. David Fraenkel, the rabbi of Dessau. When R. Fraenkel became rabbi of Berlin, the 14-year-old Mendelssohn followed him and studied in Fraenkel’s yeshiva in Berlin. He soon became a promising scholar of Talmud and rabbinics. Mendelssohn was a relative of R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, the founder of modern Orthodoxy and a stalwart opponent of Reform. He received free meals from neighborhood families and took on odd tutoring jobs. In addition to learning German and Hebrew in Berlin, Mendelssohn also studied some French, Italian, English, Latin and Greek. He took up other secular subjects, in which he excelled, including mathematics, logic and philosophy. In the mid-1750s, he developed friendships with the philosopher Immanuel Kant and also with Gotthold Lessing, a dramatist, literary critic and advocate of enlightened toleration in Germany. With Lessing’s encouragement, Mendelssohn began to publish philosophical essays in German.

In 1750, Mendelssohn began to serve as a teacher in the house of Isaac Bernhard, the owner of a silk factory. That same year, Frederick the Great gave him the status of "Jew under extraordinary protection." In 1763, the Prussian Academy of Sciences awarded him a prize for his treatise on "evidence in the metaphysical sciences." Four years later, he became the bookkeeper of Bernhard’s firm and eventually a partner. Throughout his life, he worked as a merchant while continuing to write. In 1779, Lessing wrote the play Nathan the Wise in which a Jewish hero, modeled after Mendelssohn, appears as a spokesman for brotherhood and love of humanity. At the height of his career, in 1769, Mendelssohn was publicly challenged by a Christian apologist, a Zurich pastor named John Lavater, to defend the superiority of Judaism over Christianity. From then on, he was involved in defending Judaism in print. In 1783, he published Jerusalem, or On Religious Power and Judaism. This study posited that no religious institution should use coercion and emphasized that Judaism does not coerce the mind through dogma. He argued that through reason all people could discover religious philosophical truths, but what made Judaism unique was its divinely revealed code of legal, ritual and moral law. He said that Jews must live in civil society but only in a way that their right to observe religious laws is granted. He recognized the necessity of multiple religions and respected each one.

Mendelssohn wanted to take the Jews out of a ghetto lifestyle and into secular society. He translated the Bible into German, although it was written in Hebrew letters, with a Hebrew commentary called the Biur. He campaigned for emancipation and instructed Jews to form bonds with the gentile governments. He tried to improve the relationship between Jews and Christians as he argued for tolerance and humanity. He became the symbol of the Jewish Enlightenment, the Haskalah.

Paragraph 2    [מאת משה מענדעלזאהן]. המכתב הזה ראיתי ביד מליץ אחד ממיודעי, ויעתר לי לתתו בידי להוציאו לאור, אפס בל אשא את שמו על שפתי. הובא לדפוס מאתי מאיר העססע, האמבורג.

שיר בשם "תפילת יקותיאל".. בכל תיבה נמצאת האות ל. פותח: תפלה לא-ל הללו א-ל. מנוקד. חזר ונדפס בספרו של מנדלזון "פני תבל", אמסטרדם תרל"ב, עמ' עמ' 105-102, ובראשה הערה: "וכבר נדפסה באלטונא בשנת תקפ"ט, אבל בשינויים רבים".

   EJ; JE; Vin Altona 231; http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Mendelssohn.html; CD-EPI 0302721
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Germany:    Checked
Liturgy:    Checked
Reform:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica