Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

Basic HTML Version

a rm il l y
— C
en sorsh ip
o f
rabbinic authorities, there is a warning that the author’s copyright
must not be violated.
V. Politics
In the nineteenth century, marking the struggle of the Jews
for emancipation and the beginnings of Zionism, a battle of politi-
cal ideologies ensued. Many rabbis feared that emancipation would
lead to assimilation, de-Judaization, even apostasy. They regarded
the secular aspects of Zionism as a potential peril to Judaism.
by Abir Amieli (Rabbi Joseph Natonek), which was
printed in Buda in 1861, was banned because it asserted: “The
Jewish people does not need emancipation, for its fatherland is not
here [in Hungary] but in Eretz Israel.” Only a single copy of the
book survived, the one that had been preserved in the author’s
In the city of Radzymin, the work
Solu solu ha-Mesilah
by Rabbi
Nathan Friedland (Lesla, 1866) and
Derishot Zion
1866) by Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kalischer were destroyed because of
their pro-Zionist ideology. Because the Hebrew poems in
(Pressburg, 1858) by Rabbi Moshe Sopher might remind
the Jews of their love for Eretz Israel, they were deleted from
the volume.
The Range of Control Over Books
Supervision over publications ranged from a simple warning to
drastic steps by rabbinical authorities. The milder approach is
exemplified by Rabbi Yehuda Hayyat in the sixteenth century. In
the introduction to his commentary
Minhat Yehuda
1558), he suggested that the kabbalistic works of Rabbi Isaac ben
Latif should be avoided, but that other books by the same author
were commendable. A more stringent step was the issuance of a
prohibition against a particular publication, prior to the promul-
gation of an outright ban.
Divre Shalom ve-Emet
(Berlin, 1782) by Rabbi Naphtali Herz
Wesel was under a ban that had been issued by many rabbis,
led by Rabbi Yehezkel Landau in Prague. Wesel had endorsed
certain educational reforms for Jewish children which had been
introduced in Austria by Joseph II for general education. The
rabbis so feared assimilation that they rejected the proposed re-
forms and banned the book. In the nineteenth century, when the
ban became less effective, the book was actually destroyed and
burned. Burning and destruction were used by both sides; for
example, Rabbi Israel Lobel’s
Sepher Vikuah
(Warsaw, 1798)
which fought Hasidism, was burned by the Hasidim with only a
few copies surviving.