Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov 19: David Sclar on Moses Hayim Luzzatto at Center for Jewish History

Monday November 19th, 4 PM Kovno Room A Seat in the Esnoga: Moses Hayim Luzzatto in Amsterdam Presentation by David Sclar Moses Hayyim Luzzatto (1707-1746; Padua, Amsterdam, Acre) produced celebrated literary works of mysticism, ethics, Talmud, rhetoric, grammar, poetry, and drama. His writings were printed more often and disseminated more widely than almost any other Jewish thinker in the last two centuries. Historians have variously described him as having influenced the Haskalah, Hasidism, and the Musar movement. Yet, during his life, Luzzatto was the center of a scandal that condemned him as a heretical and deviant threat. A ban was promulgated against him, and his mystical writings were confiscated and destroyed. This paper will present original research on Luzzatto’s eight years in Amsterdam (1735-1743) and show it to be a period crucial in Luzzatto’s transformation from a heretical to celebrated figure. While in Amsterdam, Luzzatto published the ethical treatise Mesilat yesharim (1740) and the drama La-yesharim tehilah (1743), each of which was praised by a major movement in the 19th century and reprinted dozens of times. Using unpublished archival documents, this paper will demonstrate Luzzatto’s acceptance by the Portuguese Jewish community, and discuss the printing of his books in the context of Amsterdam Jewry’s print and study culture. David Sclar, a doctoral candidate in the department of history at the CUNY Graduate Center and a 2011-2012 Lillian Goldman Graduate Fellow, will deliver the seminar. A formal response to David’s seminar will be offered by Professor Francesca Bregoli of Queens College, CUNY. Intended for an academic audience; space is limited. RSVP to or 212-294-8303

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