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J EWISH IDENTITY IN EARLY MODERN GERMANY

For Juli
My best friend, my inspiration, and the love of my life
In memory of my beloved grandparents
Herman and Eva Solomon of blessed memory
J ewish Identity in
Early Modern Germany
Memory, Power and Community
DEAN PHILLIP BELL
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, USA
Dean Phillip Bell 2007
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording
or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.
Dean Phillip Bell has asserted his moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act,
1988, to be identied as the author of this work.
Published by
Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company
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Ashgate website: http://www.ashgate.com
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Bell, Dean Phillip, 1967
J ewish identity in early modern Germany: memory, power and community
1. J ews Germany Identity 2. J ews Germany History 10961800 3. J ews
Historiography 4. J ews Germany Social conditions 16th century 5. J ews
Germany Social conditions 17th century 6. Collective memory Germany History
7. Germany Ethnic relations History
I. Title
943.00492409031
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bell, Dean Phillip, 1967
J ewish identity in early modern Germany: memory, power and community / by Dean
Phillip Bell. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references.
1. J ews Germany History 10961800. 2. J ews Germany Historiography. 3. J udaism
Historiography. 4. History Religious aspects J udaism. 5. Memory Religious aspects
J udaism. 6. Reformation Germany History. 7. Germany Ethnic relations. I. Title.
DS135.G31B447 2007
943.004924dc22
2006033074
ISBN 978-0-7546-5897-9
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Contents
Acknowledgements vii
Introduction ix
1 Memory, History, and J ewish Identity 1
2 Reconsidering Early Modern German J ewish Memory and History 19
3 Community, Memory, and Governance 35
4 J ewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 67
5 Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing J ewish Identity 99
6 From Law to Legend: Narrating J ewish and Christian Encounters 131
Conclusion 153
Bibliography 157
Index 179
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Acknowledgements
This work has evolved over many years and has beneted from the comments and
insights of many people in diverse settings. In the last several years I have presented
my ndings at a number of conferences and to seminars at the University of Chicago,
University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign,
University of Illinois at Chicago, Western Michigan University, and Spertus College.
I am grateful for and have beneted tremendously from the comments from all of
my colleagues in these settings and in my courses at Spertus. I am also indebted to
my colleagues at Spertus Institutes Asher Library and the Newberry Library, who
have supplied me with what must have been an endless request of rare, obscure,
or voluminous resources. This work would never have come to be without their
assistance.
I express here my appreciation for the very helpful comments by the anonymous
evaluators at Ashgate, who obviously invested a great deal of time in reading the
manuscript and who supplied me with remarkably nurturing and constructive
suggestions. Thomas Gray, Commissioning Editor at Ashgate, deserves special
thanks for all his encouragement and for his assistance with this project.
I thank particularly my friends and colleagues, Stephen Burnett, Constantin
Fasolt, Hal Lewis, Lynda Crawford, and Miriam Ben-Yoseph, who have toiled over
various drafts of this book. Their patience and encouragement have been remarkable.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dave and Rheta Harrison for all their support,
and particular indebtedness to my father and mother, Edward and Myrna Bell, for
all their love, patience, and encouragement for me and for my various and sundry
historical musings over many years. Finally, and most importantly, I thank my wife
J uli and my children Malkaya, Chanan, and Ronia. They have afforded me a great
deal of time and exibility to think about and write this book, and though they may
never realize it, they inspire me in all that I do.
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Introduction
In this book I present a variety of examples of how J ews in early modern Germany
remembered and narrated the past. Although it has been argued that J ews possessed
little in the way of formal historiographical traditions in this period, what follows
demonstrates that J ews nevertheless, or precisely because, co-opted the past both
consciously and unconsciously for many reasons, and in various and surprising
ways. Responding to the particular conditions in which they found themselves
in early modern German and J ewish culture, J ews fashioned the past for both
internal and external purposescreating communal identity in contemporary
situations, while seeking connections to a broader J ewish past. While J ews related
past events to present circumstances in paradigmatic ways that have been seen as
traditionally religious, this study reveals that J ews also shaped the past to address
both contemporary internal concerns and external relations.
This book engages, but then redirects, important discussions by recent historians
regarding the nature of time and the construction and role of memory and history in
pre-modern Europe and pre-modern J ewish civilization. I argue that even when they
did not write formal histories, J ews maintained a signicant and lively engagement
with the past that operated at various levels and divided the past into generally
coherent, if long and at times changeable, units. Some of these units were based
on the experiences and perspectives of individual J ews, individual communities, or
clusters of communities. Some had basis in actual experiences with the past, while
others were related to the lore of particular communities, or the broader religious
currents and traditions of J udaism. In the end, however, all of these memories helped
to dene and shape early modern German J ewry.
The sources examined in this book are diverse. Any form of German J ewish
expression in the early modern period that contains reference to the past or past
events is open to investigation. This includes, for example, chronicles, liturgical
works, books of customs, memorybooks, biblical commentaries, rabbinic responsa
literature, and community ledgers. Throughout, a broad comparative basis is offered,
particularly through the juxtaposition of early modern Christian engagement with
the past.
The period covered here is roughly 15001700. These dates were chosen in large
part because of the scope of the sources available. There were, however, additional
reasons for selecting these parameters. These dates bound important German
developments, such as the Reformation, forcing us to consider how more general
conditions in Germany impacted the way that J ews engaged the past. But this period
also had real meaning for internal J ewish developments, demarcating the boundaries
of signicant demographic and social shifts within the J ewish communities
themselves. Throughout this book the beginning and end dates of investigation are
taken rather uidly, so that late fteenth- and very early eighteenth-century materials
are also examined as they help to clarify developments or trends.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany x
A critical issue has been the selection of the geographical span of this work. One
cannot speak of early modern Germany without immediately running into the complex
question of just what Germany was. Was it dened by linguistic patterns, political
territories, cultural inclinations, religious beliefs, or something still different? Even
within Germany, political borders might cross traditional ecclesiastical divisions,
so that the duchy of Bavaria and the Rhine Palatinate, for example, each lay in
seven different dioceses, while the two Saxonies were in eleven.
1
Throughout this
research, I have opted to include the broader German Empire, described by J ohannes
Cochlaeus (14791552), the anti-Reformation humanist, in his Brevis Germaniae
descriptio of 1512: I believe that no region in Europe extends further than Germany
It is enclosed in the south by Italy and Dalmatia [Yugoslavia]; in the east by
Hungary and Poland; in the north by the Baltic and the North Sea; and in the west by
France and the English channel.
2
While one could devise many different denitions
for early modern Germany, it is this broad geographical denition that I have selected
to bound the investigation that follows.
I should note that even for early modern J ews, the question of what was German
could be complicated. On the one hand, many historians have found increasing
evidence to suggest that Ashkenaz had very distinct boundaries and meanings in
the world-view of early modern J ews.
3
Important synods, for example, stipulated
the political borders within German J ewry as well as the central location of primary
German J ewish courts and tax-collection centers. Restrictions were placed on J ews
seeking to take litigation from a particular region, especially crossing over into Italy
or Poland. On the other hand, it has become equally clear that while J ews absorbed
non-J ewish culture they also absorbed non-German J ewish customs, practices, and
outlooks as well. There is a growing body of literature demonstrating the connection
between German and Polish J ewish study and customs and between Italian and
German J ewish legal decision-making processes. At the same time, J ews traveled
broadly and maintained important business and familial connections throughout a
very disperse geographical reach. For this reason, the J ewish community of Prague
has been included in this study. While Prague is not really part of the German
1 Thomas A. Brady, J r. The Holy Roman Empires Bishops on the Eve of the
Reformation, in Robert J . Blast and Andrew C. Gow (eds), Continuity and Change: The
Harvest of Late Medieval and Reformation History: Essays Presented to Heiko A. Oberman
on his 70th Birthday (Leiden, 2000), pp. 2047, here at p. 31, n. 44.
2 J rn Sieglerschmidt, Social and Economic Landscapes, in Sheilagh Ogilvie (ed.),
Germany: A New Social and Economic History, volume II: 16391800 (London, 1996), pp.
138, here at p. 2.
3 See J oseph Davis, The Reception of the Shulhan Arukh and the Formation of
Ashkenazic J ewish Identity, AJS Review 26:2 (2002): 25176. Davis writes that, A variety
of answers, some complimentary, some contradictory, were offered to these questions by
sixteenth- and seventeenth-century J ews during the conict over the reception of the Shulhan
Arukh. It was suggested that the Ashkenazim were the descendants of a group of common
ancestors; that they were the J ews who lived in Germany, Ashkenaz; that they were those
who lived throughout Central and Eastern Europe; that they were Yiddish-speaking J ews; or
even, for the purposes of J ewish law, that they were exactly those J ews whose communities
accepted the authority of Isserles code (p. 253).
Introduction xi
experience documented in most of the sources, it is clear that there were extremely
signicant connections between the J ews in Germany and Prague and, what is more,
within the context of political developments in early modern Germany, Prague played
a very crucial role. In addition, the very large and important J ewish community in
Prague was responsible for a good deal of intellectual and cultural productivity, and
the sources produced by J ews living there in this period expand the scope of material
available for consideration.
What follows is divided into six chapters and a brief conclusion. Chapter 1 reviews
the nature of memory and history as discussed in general and J ewish scholarship,
with particular emphasis on the diversity of ways in which narration of the past
could be used for various political, social, and religious purposes. Chapter 2 turns
more specically to early modern German J ewish notions of memory and history as
expressed in theological constructs as well as complex understandings of temporality.
Here I argue that while early modern J ews frequently employed traditional paradigms
in order to make sense of the past, they also narrated the past in order to forge
communal identity and to mediate relations with the non-J ewish world.
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss various J ewish uses of the past that had signicant
internal communal value. In Chapter 3, I consider the role of memory in communal
governance. After a review of general and J ewish demography in early modern
Germany and the structure of J ewish communities, I examine J ewish engagement
with the past in community ledgers (pinkasim) and local and regional customs
(minhagim). I conclude that the past narrated by J ews had great communal
signicanceat certain times conrming traditions and at other times challenging
regnant norms and initiating serious communal change. Chapter 4 expands this
discussion by considering the social organization of the J ewish communities and
highlighting the role of wealth, prestige, and honor in J ewish communal politics.
Here I investigate several memorybooks and autobiographical writings for what they
reveal about social order and communal power. Throughout, I provide comparisons
with the use of memory and history in early modern German Christian writings.
Chapters 5 and 6 chart J ewish engagement with the past as a tool for confronting
and, at times, contesting external authority. In Chapter 5, the role of history and
memory as devices of political contestation are placed particularly within the context
of the Reformation and the growth of general historical production in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries. On the one hand, J ews narrated the past in order to
recalibrate historical reckoning to include their history and to re-inscribe themselves
as the Chosen People of God. On the other hand, such narrations also provided a
moral yardstick with which to upbraid the J ews themselves. In Chapter 6, I consider
the role of the past in the process of legal decision-making, the engagement with
mythic time and magical stories, and the solidication of origin stories, all of which
helped to re-situate J ews in early modern German society.
In the end, this book is about the narration of the past by J ews living throughout
the early modern or old German Empire. But, it is a book, it is hoped, that will
have comparative value for both J ewish and Christian history as well. It reveals the
complexities of early modern German J ewish communal life as well as the multi-
faceted relations that J ews had with German Christians. Fundamentally, this book
challenges the assumption that J ews did not think about the past in any more than
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany xii
typological ways and it asserts that J ews, despite frequent and often bitter anti-
J udaism and anti-J ewish activity, maintained important autonomy in the governance
of their own communities and signicant power in their relations with the outside
world. In crafting their memories, early modern J ews were remarkably sophisticated
and resilient. They remembered for many purposes and with much subtlety. Their
narration of these memories allows a marvelous window into their world and
perceptions.
Chapter 1
Memory, History, and J ewish Identity
Before I turn to the early modern sources themselves, it is instructive to review
the recent literature on memory and history for what such theoretical discussions
may suggest generally about the understanding and function of the past. First we
summarize the important work of Maurice Halbwachs and Pierre Nora on memory
and history. The work of these scholars and others serves as context for a discussion
of recent approaches to J ewish memory and history, especially the work of Yosef
Hayim Yerushalmi. After a consideration of some of the responses to Halbwachs
and Yerushalmi in particular I examine broadly the nature and use of history in the
Middle Ages.
This quick overview indicates that despite their apparent theoretical differences,
memory and history exist on a continuum of engagement with the past, which functions
in several ways. The narration of this pastwhether as memory or historyhelps
to dictate moral standards, it mediates politics and is itself a form of power, and it
reinforces tradition while simultaneously offering the tools to bring about sweeping
changes. The vast and growing scholarly literature on memory and history also argues
for an important connection between discussions of the past and communal identity
and suggests that many signicant changes associated with the early modern period
can be understood by examining early modern narratives of the past.
Memory and History
In a now classic study, rst published in 1950 but discussed increasingly more
recently, Maurice Halbwachs argued that memory and history have very different
characteristics and are in a sense in opposition to each other.
1
In that work, Halbwachs
set much of the current agenda for discussions about the relation of memory and
history as well as the nature of collective memory.
2
His pioneering concepts have
raised signicant questions for historians and, as we will see below, the ire of some
scholars who prefer less rigid oppositions.
1 See Mircea Eliade, who in the late 1940s raised the question of the ahistorical nature of
popular memory: The anhistorical character of popular memory, the instability of collective
memory to retain historical events and individuals except insofar as it transforms them into
archetypesthat is, insofar as it annuls all their historical and personal peculiaritiespose
a series of new problems, which we are obliged to set aside for the moment (Cosmos and
History: The Myth of the Eternal Return, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York, 1959 (orig.,
1949)), p. 46).
2 See the evaluation of Amos Funkenstein, in his Perceptions of Jewish History
(Berkeley, 1993), pp. 4, 89.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 2
According to Halbwachs there is an important distinction between memory and
history. General history, he argued, starts only when tradition ends and the social
memory is fading or breaking up. So long as a remembrance continues to exist, it
is useless to set it down in writing or otherwise x it in memory. Likewise the need
to write the history of a period, a society, or even a person is only aroused when
the subject is already too distant in the past to allow for the testimony of those who
preserve some remembrance of it.
3
History, in this interpretation, is written at points of social disintegration. It is a
distant, written reection of un-experienced events. Whereas memory is continuous
and ongoing, history assumes, even demands, that everything is transformed from
one period to the next. While memory is a depository and safeguard of tradition,
history is merely a record of events. Memory is living, history a detached record of
things no longer alive. Memory is particular in focus, but history has the capacity to
treat the universal.
4
According to Halbwachs, our memory of the past is composed of two kinds of
elements: those from a common domain (a social or external memory) and those
remembrances that are ours alone (personal and internal memory). This dichotomy
is not so simple, for while individuals remember within a broader social context their
memories may also vary based on their own experiences and orientations. According
to Halbwachs:
While the collective memory endures and draws strength from its base in a coherent body
of people, it is individuals as group members who remember. While these remembrances
are mutually supportive of each other and common to all, individual members still vary
in the intensity with which they experience them. I would readily acknowledge that each
memory is a viewpoint on the collective memory, that this viewpoint changes as my
relationships to other milleus change. Therefore, it is not surprising that everyone does
not draw on the same part of this common instrument. In accounting for that diversity,
however, it is always necessary to revert to a combination of inuences that are social in
nature.
5
In this assessment, there is a common memory base that is tapped into, processed,
and experienced differently by different individuals within unique and varying
contexts. Individual and communal memory, therefore, exist in a complex and
multidirectional relationship, in which individual memory simultaneously is affected
by and contributes to collective memory.
6
3 Maurice Halbwachs, The Collective Memory, trans. Francis J . Ditter, J r. and Vida
Yazdi Ditter (New York, 1980 (orig., 1950)), pp. 789. Halbwachs notes as well that, by the
term history we must understand, then, not a chronological sequence of events and dates, but
whatever distinguishes one period from all others, something of which books and narratives
generally give us only a very schematic and incomplete picture (p. 57).
4 Ibid., pp. 8082.
5 Ibid., p. 48.
6 Pierre Nora writes that, Memory wells up from groups that it welds together, which
is to say, as Maurice Halbwachs observed, that there are as many memories as there are
groups, that memory is by nature multiple yet specic; collective and plural yet individual. By
contrast, history belongs to everyone and to no one and therefore has a universal vocation.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 3
The inuential French historian Pierre Nora, in a seminal work examining
French national history, has presented a similar tension between what he understands
as memory and history.
7
Nora argues for a differentiation between memory, which
is concrete and so rooted in space and structure, and history, which is rooted in
temporality and so is relative. History is about change and memory about continuity,
albeit at times shifting continuity.
Nora posits a distinction between memory and history that revolves around a
divide between the sacred and non-religious. Memory situates remembrance in a
sacred context. History is critical, analytical, and so nonreligious. It is not simply that
being critical and analytical are at odds with religion or that history is related to, or
a part of a process of, secularization. More signicantly, for Nora, is the observation
that history has to do with an external reection as opposed to a true core. Nora writes
that We no longer celebrate the nation, but we study the nations celebrations.
8
The less we are able to experience from within, the more we need external props
and tangible reminders of that which no longer exists except qua memory.
9
The
trace, Nora writes, negates the sacred but retains its aura,
10
so as history is more
critical, it is simultaneously also more detached. Memory, while steeped in hazy
impressions, symbolic details, emotion, and magic, holds the key to the core, the true
or real society that history only knows by separation and reection.
But Nora reads modern memory as more akin to history than traditional memory.
He sounds a note of concern, consequently, when he writes that the acceleration
of history thus brings us face to face with the enormous distance that separates real
memory from history and an integrated memory from our form of memory,
which is nothing but history, a matter of sifting and sorting.
11
Indeed, for Nora,
the modern transformation of memory marks a decisive shift from the historical to
the psychological, from the social to the individual, from the concrete message to
its subjective representation, from repetition to remembrance.
12
Modernity, in this
See Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, under the direction of Pierre Nora, 3
vols, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York, 199698 (orig., 198492)), p. 3.
7 Nora writes: Memory is life, always embodied in living societies and as such in
permanent evolution, subject to the dialectic of remembering and forgetting, unconscious
of the distortions to which it is subject, vulnerable in various ways to appropriation and
manipulation, and capable of lying dormant for long periods only to be suddenly reawakened.
History, on the other hand, is the reconstruction, always problematic and incomplete, of what
is no longer. Memory is always a phenomenon of the present; history is a representation of the
past. Memory, being a phenomenon of emotion and magic, accommodates only those facts
that suit it. It thrives on vague, telescoping reminiscences, on hazy general impressions or
specic symbolic details. It is vulnerable to transferences, screen memories, censorings, and
projections of all kinds. History, being an intellectual, nonreligious activity, calls for analysis
and critical discourse. Memory situates remembrance in a sacred context. History ferrets it
out; it turns whatever it touches into prose. Ibid.
8 Ibid., p. 7.
9 Ibid., p. 8.
10 Ibid., p. 9.
11 Ibid., p. 2.
12 Ibid., p. 11.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 4
representation, becomes shorn of collectivity, the past, and in a certain sense, reality
itself. This interpretation rings of a tone of modern alienation. Similarly, Noras
concepts of history, modernity, and the nineteenth-century nation state fundamentally
shape his argument, and lead us to ask how his assessment might or might not work
for societies or communities that were not formed in the same national context.
It is important to note, however, that for Nora there is some similarity between
memory and history. Both are subject to manipulation. Memory can be appropriated
and refashioned and is selective. History can be problematic and incomplete
reconstruction; different motives and perspectives affect the nature and scope of the
representation we call history.
Approaches to Jewish Memory and History
How have memory and history been assessed in J ewish historiography? Traditionally,
the role of memory throughout J ewish history has been seen as important; formal
history, however, has been cast as unimportant and often non-existent. Bernard Lewis,
the renowned historian of J ews under Islam, for example, some thirty years ago noted
that J ewish historiographic literature in the Middle Ages was sparse and poor.
13
The
purpose of historical writingin the form of martyrologies, heroic narratives,
14
commemorations,
15
surviving custom and law,
16
the history of scholarship and the
succession of rabbis and pupils and teacherswas to give medieval J ews the ability to
stiffen the endurance of the survivors and to legitimize the authority of the rabbis.
17
Lewis contended that with no country, state, or dynastic focus, J ews lacked any real
need to write history: the vital history was already xed in Scripture, literature, and
the calendar, and so the poverty of J ewish historiography was due not to neglect
but to positive rejection.
18
According to this line of thinking, critical history would
develop only with the disaffection with the past and the desire to control the future.
19
Medieval J ewish historiography was, for Lewis, poor, reactionary and intended as a
means by which to continue religious traditions.
The very topic of J ewish memory and history has received a great deal of
attention since the Shoah. In the last quarter century in particular the oodgates
opened for the production of a variety of scholarly investigations into the broader
ways and purposes for which J ews remember the past. With some of the same
assumptions as those forwarded by Lewis, and steeped in the theoretical orientation
of Halbwachs and the emerging discussions surrounding Nora and his school, the
prominent and ground-breaking historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, in a slender
volume of published lectures from the early 1980s, set the stage for much of the
subsequent discussion of J ewish memory and history. Yerushalmi concretized some
13 Bernard Lewis, History: Remembered, Recovered, Invented (Princeton, 1975), p. 21.
14 Ibid., p. 44.
15 Ibid., pp. 45ff.
16 Ibid., pp. 52ff.
17 Ibid., p. 22.
18 Ibid., p. 23.
19 Ibid., p. 56.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 5
general observations about J ewish historiography and the relationship between
memory and history, while forwarding an outline of the production and role of
history and historiographical writing in J ewish tradition. In the pages that follow, I
will restate Yerushalmis position, review some of the criticism and implications of
his arguments, and then set a broader contexta context in which Yerushalmi was
both participant and productfor the consideration of early modern German J ewish
memory and history.
For Yerushalmi, it was ancient Israel that rst assigned a decisive signicance
to history and thus forged a new world-view .
20
The new perception was based in
Israelite faith, by which the crucial encounter between man and the divine shifted
away from the realm of nature and the cosmos to the plane of history, conceived
now in terms of divine challenge and human response.
21
Ancient Israel knew God
for what He did in history; memory, therefore, became a central occupation.
22
But
even this remembering was not purely historical. The entire past was not the goal.
Rather the idea of recollecting J ewish selection and uniqueness was central. Memory
owed in ancient Israel in two channels according to Yerushalmi, ritual and recital.
23
Yerushalmi concludes that there is a paradox in J udaism in that although memory
of the past has always been a central aspect of J ewish experience, and indeed, J ews
have been divinely commanded to remember, it has not been the historian who has
recorded that past, at least not before modern secular times.
24
In the rabbinic period, the rabbis did not seek to write a new history of the
biblical period, they simply sought meaning in the history they received. Nor did
they demonstrate much interest in recording contemporary events.
25
In the interval
between the destruction of the Temple and the future redemption, the primary J ewish
task was taken to be responding to the biblical challenge of becoming a holy people.
While the biblical past was known and the messianic future assured, the time in
between was obscure and needed to be understood according to a previously revealed
pattern. The rabbis, therefore, were comfortable in making time elastic. They did not
see anachronism as a aw, nor did they see historical reckoning as of great value.
This trend, according to Yerushalmi, continued through the Middle Ages. J ews
devoted a great deal of time to the position of the J ewish people in history, of ideas
of J ewish history, of often profound and sometimes daring reections on exile and
redemption, but, with the exception of the chain of tradition literature, expressed
comparatively little interest in recording the ongoing historical experience of the
J ews.
26
As for Lewis, this lack of historiographical interest was not for Yerushalmi a
aw, but perhaps reected a degree of self-sufciency within J ewish culture itself.
20 Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seattle,
1982), p. 8.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid., p. 9. See also Eliade, Cosmos and History, p. 106.
23 Ibid., pp. 11, 15.
24 Ibid., p. xiv.
25 Ibid., p. 18.
26 Ibid., p. 31.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 6
J ews did, however, create some historical narratives in the Middle Ages. But these
typically focused on the distant past until the destruction of the Second Temple or on
the most recent of events.
27
New events, however, were generally assimilated within
tried and familiar archetypes.
28
There are sufcient clues, Yerushalmi argues, to
indicate that what was suddenly drawn up from the past was not a series of facts to be
contemplated at a distance, but a series of situations into which one could somehow
be existentially drawn.
29
For medieval and rabbinic J ews, the past provided a
blueprint against which recent and contemporary life might be understood.
Yerushalmi emphasizes the ritual and liturgical nature of J ewish history in the
Middle Ages, noting that J ewish history was neither exclusively cyclical nor linear.
30
He divides medieval J ewish histories into four categories: selihot, or penitential
prayersthe religious and literary response to historical catastrophe inserted into
the liturgy of the synagogue;
31
memorial books, particularly kept by Ashkenazic
J ews, that preserved the names of those for whose souls communal prayers were
to be offered in the house of worship;
32
second Purims, instituted in J ewish
communities to commemorate a deliverance from some danger or persecution;
33
and the institution of specic fast days, which recalled those more bitter occasions
when there was no deliverance.
34
The typologies isolated by Yerushalmi as reective of medieval J ewish historical
thinking share a number of elements: they were largely in response to persecution;
they were liturgical, ritual, and cyclicalnot historicalremembrances of past
events retold primarily within the synagogue at set times of the year (that is, they
were religious and so, by many scholars denition, not historiographical); and,
although they could reect broader conditions, they were frequently related to local
or regional events. According to Yerushalmi, although these remembrances could
contain historical information they more often simply preserved essential memory of
an event without necessarily preserving its historical details.
35
As such, the methods
and forms of memory produced in the J ewish Middle Ages were essentially reactive,
religious, and local, at the same time that they were paradigmatic and not specic.
36
For Yerushalmi, the situation seems to have changed subtly but signicantly in
the sixteenth century.
37
The move to a more genuinely historiographical orientation
at that time Yerushalmi attributes to the tragic event of the Spanish expulsion at the
27 Ibid., p. 34.
28 Ibid., p. 36.
29 Ibid., p. 44.
30 Ibid., p. 41.
31 Ibid., p. 45.
32 Ibid., p. 46.
33 Ibid., pp. 46ff.
34 Ibid., pp. 48ff.
35 Ibid., p. 51.
36 For a discussion on the paradigmatic nature of pre-modern religious and historical
thinking in general, see Eliade, Cosmos and History, pp. 34ff. In discussing the regeneration
of time, Eliade notes an element of regeneration through repetition of an archetypal act,
usually of the cosmogonic act and the abolition of concrete time (p. 85).
37 Ibid., p. 57.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 7
end of the fteenth century.
38
In this period the history of post-biblical J ews and
the history of the nations, particularly contemporary ones, were assigned positions
of prominence.
39
The shift to critical, historiographical thinking was, according to
Yerushalmi, however, not completed until the modern, secular, period. During the
sixteenth century instead of history, other outlets, such as Lurianic kabbalah eventually
served to provide a psychological solution to the trauma of the expulsion.
In modernity, the knowledge of history became more desirable, and with the
Wissenschaft des J udentums, there were for the rst time, according to Yerushalmi,
no apologies for history. J udaism, in a sense, was forced to prove its validity to
the world and reveal and justify itself historically. Such an effort to reconstruct the
J ewish past, however, began only with a sharp break in the continuity of J ewish
life, marked by assimilation without and collapse from within, in which J ewish
historiography was divorced from J ewish collective memory. Similar to the position
taken by Nora, history in the modern period, for Yerushalmi, became the faith of the
fallen, particularly as the uniqueness of the J ews and divine providence in history
were being challenged by J ews themselves.
Reassessing Memory and History
In response to Yerushalmis work, a lively debate ensued, with many embracing
Yerushalmis synthesis, and a number of scholars challenging various aspects of
Yerushalmis approach, assumptions, and conclusions. One reviewer, for example,
writing with an eye toward Zionism and modern Israel, criticized Yerushalmi for
suggesting that historical writing was a weak replacement for the fading memory that
had more traditionally bound society together. Arguing that modern historiographical
research was a positive and constructive force, this reviewer contended that new and
deeper knowledge of history led to richer identity and that, in any event, the distant
past known to modernity has little to distinguish it from the distant past known
previously. The same reviewer made the more general criticism, that Yerushalmi
considered only canonical historical writing, thereby ignoring a vast corpus of
formal and informal historical works.
40
(Despite such criticism, most subsequent
studies have continued to focus on more traditional historiographical works.
41
)
The eminent historian of Italian J ewry Robert Bonl has also taken exception to
Yerushalmis work, challenging the very assumption that the J ewish historiographical
production of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was rich at all. Bonl asserts
that the early modern period witnessed a sharpening of opposing dichotomies
(J ewish and Christian) and an increase in the sense of the lachrymose in J ewish
writings. The subject matter of history as conceived in the early modern period was
largely political and military; however, the J ewish experience of the time could
38 Ibid., pp. 589.
39 Ibid., pp. 623.
40 See the review of Zakhor by Yaakov Shavit in Studies in Zionism 6 (1985): 14347.
41 See, for example, Reuven Michael, Jewish Historiography from the Renaissance to
the Modern Time (J erusalem, 1993) [Hebrew].
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 8
supply no such history.
42
According to Bonl, therefore, radical change in J ewish
historiography could only be achieved by recourse to two methods. Either J ews could
be transformed into actors in political and military history, or the very conception of
history could be changed. But, Bonl concludes, the former was not possible under
current conditions and the latters time had not yet come.
43
Other scholars also responded to and challenged Yerushalmis assumptions and
conclusions. Amos Funkenstein argued that although one might indeed claim that
pre-modern J ews had no true historiography, it would be a mistake to claim that they
had no historical consciousness.
44
The implication was that although pre-modern
J ews did not write formal histories, they might nevertheless have still thought
historically. Similarly, in the late 1980s Ivan Marcus also made a very signicant
contribution to this discussion. Marcus distinguished between historiography more
specically and narratives about the past more broadly.
According to Marcus, narratives of the past written by Sephardic J ews were
mainly concerned with the rabbinic elites. Ashkenazic texts, on the other hand,
generally described a broader social spectrum.
45
In the Sephardic world, there was an
importance attached to uninterrupted tradition. Continuity with an earlier classical
past served as the basis for Sephardic legitimacy.
46
Ashkenazic narratives, however,
were focused on discontinuity in the community brought about by migration
and trauma. Marcus writes that the Ashkenazic texts seem to emerge especially
at times when communal status is in decline, in comparison with an earlier time.
The occasion for writing down a narrative about the past is not idle curiosity or
42 Robert (Reuven) Bonl, How Golden was the Age of the Renaissance in J ewish
Historiography? History and Theory 27 (1988): 78102, here at pp. 93, 95.
43 Ibid., p. 101.
44 See David N. Myers, Remembering Zakhor: A Super-Commentary, History and
Memory 2 (1992): 12946. Myers contests Funkensteins position, and asks whether halakhic
[legal] innovation requires in and of itself historical consciousness, beyond a highly
selective, perhaps hagiographic, recitation of ones favorite scholarly antecedents (p. 132).
Myers maintains that Funkenstein provides no cogent explanation of a conceptual category
for historical consciousness, which is intended to mediate collective memory and critical
historical study (p. 133).
45 Ivan Marcus, History, Story and Collective Memory: Narrativity in Early Ashkenazic
Culture, Prooftexts 10 (1990): 36588, here at p. 379. This distinction is related to the
important, if over-extended, theory of Gershon Cohen, regarding the differences between
Sephardic and Ashkenazic culture. Cohen argues for the notion that Ashkenazic writing
reveals submissiveness and acceptance of divine decrees, until God intervenes in history
and restores His people. See Gershon Cohen, Messianic Postures of Ashkenazim and
Sephardim, [reprinted] in Marc Saperstein (ed.), Essential Papers on Messianic Movements
and Personalities in Jewish History (New York, 1992), pp. 20233, here at p. 220. On the
other hand, Cohen argues that Sephardic writing reveals political success and condence in
its own powers (p. 222).
46 Marcus, History, Story, and Collective Memory, p. 381. In this context, it might be
interesting to consider the attitude toward Sephardic sources; see Eric Zimmer, Fiery Embers
of the Scholars: The Trials and Tribulations of German Rabbis in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth
Centuries (J erusalem, 1999) [Hebrew], regarding the debate over the use of Sephardic sources
in early modern Germany.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 9
even family pride or community self-respect but a perceived change or loss. In a
sophisticated application of this observation, he argues that, the emphasis in the
Ashkenazic narratives on the story of the changing holy community makes the
remembered changes in the life of the community comparable to a dense, partially
obscure, sacred text that requires interpretation.
47
Marcus assumes and then elaborates upon perceived distinctions between
Ashkenazic and Sephardic culture and literary production. Working from this
bifurcated model, Marcus asserts that Ashkenazic narratives were produced in
response to crisis and decline. However, it is worth asking to what extent we can, or
should, distinguish between Ashkenazic, and more specically German, narratives
and Sephardic narratives. Recent scholarship has indicated that differences may
not have been as great as once perceived. In addition, the early modern period
in Germany, just like the medieval, is clearly one that is much too complex to be
denoted simply as one of crisis and decline. In fact, in some areas such as Hamburg,
Prague, and Frankfurt am Main, one might more appropriately label the period one
of rebirth and reintegration.
Furthering the perceived differences in Ashkenazic and Sephardic experiences,
Marcuss position assumes that it is the Sephardim, because of their political
audacity, and to some important extent political success, who used history for
political purposesto secure, legitimize, and challenge. But did Ashkenazic,
specically German J ewish, histories and memories simply retreat into a world
of insulated religious segregation and passive waiting for divine intervention and
salvation? Might we be able to detect instances when German J ews confronted, and
co-opted, the past for other purposes than simply to lick their wounds and strengthen
themselves through the hope, and expectation, of better days? Here, I take Marcus
quite seriously when he suggests that Ashkenazic memory may tell us a good deal
about broader social orientations and concerns; it is simply that I begin without the
presupposition that early modern Ashkenazic J ews were necessarily apolitical or un-
engaged from the social, intellectual, and cultural streams in which they circulated
and lived. In the chapters that follow, I will consider the extent to which narratives
of the past can tell us about the nature of J ewish community and identity in early
modern Germany, as well as how the actual condition of that J ewish community
(those J ewish communities?) and the more general conditions of early modern
Germany helped to shape such memories.
The broader scholarly tradition from which Yerushalmi simultaneously drew and
contributed has also generated signicant response in recent years. The concepts
forwarded by Halbwachs have been highly inuential and much adapted, as in the
work of Nora and some of his colleagues. Some recent scholarship has conrmed
elements of Halbwachss argument, while other scholarship has rened, criticized, or
even dismissed aspects of it. Amos Funkenstein, for example, had reservations about
Halbwachss notion of collective memory, even while conceding that collective
memory is not a mistaken or misleading term.
48
Funkenstein concluded that
while memory can constitute self-consciousness, because self-identity presumes
47 Marcus, History, Story, and Collective Memory, p. 381.
48 Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History, p. 4.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 10
memory, it also cannot be removed from its social context.
49
Indeed, collective
memory provides the systems of signs, symbols, and practices which instantiate
individual memory.
50
A good deal of recent scholarship has rened our understanding of memory and
at the same time conrmed some of Halbwachss conclusions. Memory, it has been
noted, consists of various components. It is changeable and subject to differing
interpretations. Memories can take on different meanings in different contexts.
51
Personal memories are culled from our perceptions. But these perceptions enter
the consciousness, where they combine with other memories that then affect and
transform them.
52
Perceptions are affected by a variety of physical, psychological,
and social factors. Memories, therefore, are constructs that take the raw data of
these perceptions and reconstruct them into a broader context of knowledge and
experience. Indeed, modern studies on memory have noted that the process of
recollection is not an exact one of information retrieval but rather one in which
memories are put together from fragmented sources, often in a simplied form,
according to pre-existing patterns. Remembering is a creative activity in which the
past is constantly updated according to the requirements of the present.
53
Individual
memories contribute to and are inuenced by collective memories; the development
of shared identity requires that individuals identify and agree on certain memories.
54
There are of course also collective memories, some of which the individual him- or
herself may never have experienced. Such collective memories at times seem to
dictate beliefs and the rules of proper behavior.
55
The apparent opposition of memory and history has received particular attention
in recent scholarship. In his recent work on history and memory after Auschwitz,
for example, Dominick LaCapra has criticized the underlying distinction between
memory and history posited by Halbwachs and Nora. According to LaCapra,
memory and history are clearly not the same, but they are equally clearly not the
opposite either. Memory, LaCapra writes, is a crucial source for history and has
49 Ibid.
50 Ibid., p. 6.
51 James Olney, Memory and Narrative: The Weave of Life-Writing (Chicago, 1998), p. 64.
52 Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture
(Cambridge, 1990), p. 339.
53 Catherine Cubitt, Memory and Narrative in the Cult of Early Anglo-Saxon Saints,
in Yitzhak Hen and Matthew Innes (eds), The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages
(Cambridge, 2000), pp. 2966, here at p. 31.
54 Ibid. See also Yerushalmi, Zakhor, p. xv, citing the work of Halbwachs.
55 Walter Pohl, Memory, Identity and Power in Lombard Italy, in Hen and Innes
(eds), The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, pp. 928, here at p. 10. Regarding
the imitation of saints lives, for example, see Cubit, Memory and Narrative, pp. 335.
Although testaments of those who were not clergy or noblemen are harder to nd north of the
Alps before the fteenth century, such models did serve important roles for the lay and lower
orders. See Samuel K. Cohn, J r., The Place of the Dead in Flanders and Tuscany: Towards
a Comparative History of the Black Death, in Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall (eds), The
Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
(Cambridge, 2000), pp. 1743, here at p. 24.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 11
complicated relations to documentary sources. Even in its falsications, repressions,
displacements, and denials, memory may nonetheless be informativenot in terms
of an accurate empirical representation of its object but in terms of that objects often
anxiety-ridden reception and assimilation by both participants in events and those
born later.
56
Critically informed memory assists in determining what in history
should be preserved in living tradition and history serves to test memory critically.
LaCapra concludes that In the foregoing respects one might contend that history
and memory have a supplementary relation that is a basis for mutually questioning
interaction or open dialectical exchange that never attains totalization or full closure.
Memory is both more and less than history, and vice-versa .
57
Keith Baker has similarly contested several aspects of Halbwachss conception
of memory and history. First, he notes that Halbwachs suggests that history is written
whereas memory is not, so that the past moves from memory into history only when
it leaves the living consciousness of social actors.
58
But, does writing down the past
necessarily change or distance it?
59
Second, Baker believes that Halbwachs assumes
that history is a specialized discipline external to and above groups. Baker, however,
contends that such a view ignores the close relationship between the historian and
the social and political milieu in which he writes, especially in periods before the
creation of an organized historical profession.
60
In Bakers early modernityhe
focuses on the period of and leading up to the French Revolutionthe historian as
recorder of events is not detached from, indeed is often centrally located in relation
to the events around him. The historian is affected by events while also affecting
them at the same time.
Finally, Baker also dismisses the idea that memory and history exist in a
relationship that is purely oppositional. Noting that the past is not always peaceably
shed and that numerous collective memories interact with each other, Baker asserts
that the relationship between memory and history does not have to be irreversible.
History can again become memory, as the past is redened. The opposition between
memory and history, Baker concludes, appears to be less a simple dichotomy than
a constantly shifting, dialectical relationship. History is memory contested; memory
is history controlled and xed.
61
56 Dominick LaCapra, History and Memory After Auschwitz (Ithaca, 1998), p. 19.
57 Ibid., p. 20.
58 Keith Baker, Inventing the French Revolution: Essays on French Political Culture in
the Eighteenth Century (New York, 1990), p. 55.
59 Ibid.; see also Patrick H. Hutton, History as an Art of Memory (Hanover, NH,
1993).
60 Baker, Inventing the French Revolution, p. 55.
61 Ibid., p. 56. On the interconnectedness of history and memory, see Hutton, History
as an Art of Memory, p. 77. See also David N. Myers, Between Diaspora and Zion: History,
Memory, and the J erusalem Scholars in David N. Myers and David B. Ruderman (eds), The
Jewish Past Revisited: Reections on Modern Jewish Historians (New Haven, 1998), pp. 88
103, here at p. 89: Rather, I would like to suggest that the categories of history and memory,
often cast as irreparably detached from one another, may indeed be closer to one another than
we often tend to think, that they may inhabit a continuum of attitudes toward the past .
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 12
At the heart of Bakers analysis is the assertion that the representation of the past
plays an important role in the power struggles of the present. Baker contends that
accepted understandings of the events and of the implications of the past constantly
become subject to contestation, as social actors draw upon the powerful resources that
these understandings offer in the service of competing claims. He writes that History,
then, becomes the domain, not of discarded memory, but of disputed memory. It does
not succeed to memory by an automatic social process; on the contrary, it challenges and
subverts memory, bringing into contestation what was previously regarded as xed.
In a criticism that is particularly meaningful for this study, Baker concludes that
the different analytical categories ascribed by Halbwachs to memory and history
appear more clearly as opposing discursive strategies within a continuing competition
to control the symbolic meaning of the past than as expressions of entirely different
forms of social consciousness.
62
This emphasis on the competition to control the
symbolic meaning of the past, with the power to craft new identity and to transform
and reinforce collective identity and social order, underpins both memory and history,
and in a sense makes the distinction between the two somewhat irrelevant.
63
A similar conclusionif arrived at through very different means and with somewhat
different assumptionsis posited by some postmodern historians, who have also been
concerned with the relationship between memory, political power, and propaganda.
64
Value of the past, in this scheme, is related to its utility for control of power in the
present.
65
According to this approach, there is an important connection between the
repetition and use of specic memories and the construction and maintenance of power
within society.
66
In surveying the postmodern literature, Patrick Hutton notes that, the
most powerful group takes possession of the past by crowding out the traditions of its
competitors or by reshaping them to conform to its own conceptions.
67
62 Baker, Inventing the French Revolution, p. 57.
63 Pierre Nora also considers the confrontations between groups in ux that lead to the
sacralization of memory. But his approach xes these changes within the realm of memory,
avoiding the continuum stressed by Baker. Nora contends that, the social uses of memory are
as diverse and varied as the rationales of identity. But the mechanisms involved as well as the
reasons for the sacralization of memory are always the same: confrontations between groups
subject to constant change and consolidated through constant revival of the memories on which
their identities are based (Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, p. 636). See Patrick
J. Gearys Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium
(Princeton, 1994), pp. 1011, where Geary argues that Halbwachs failed to see the political
parameters of collective memory formation, and assumed that collective memory was a natural,
nonpurposeful creation of a group while history was an intentional, political and manipulative
process. He thus postulated a fundamental opposition between the two. Geary cautions that
It would be a serious mistake to think that this collection of memories is simply the sum total
of what he had experienced, heard and read. Rather memory is an active and creative faculty,
constantly selecting, interpreting, and transforming experience (p. 160).
64 Hutton, History as an Art of Memory, p. xv.
65 Ibid., p. 6. Regarding Foucault, he writes that Rather than culling the past for residual
memories, each age reconstructs the past with images that suit its present needs The reality
of the past, he maintained, resides in the artifacts of its representation.
66 Ibid, p. 7.
67 Ibid., p. 128.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 13
The memory related to tradition, therefore, has been seen as an important vehicle
both to preserve as well as to modify the social frameworks of memory over
time, and the defenders of tradition are likely to buttress its places of memory
through acts of commemoration.
68
The work of Eric Hobsbawm has been especially
meaningful in this regard.
69
Hobsbawm distinguishes between customwhat judges
doand traditionthe formal paraphernalia and ritualized practices surrounding
their substantial action.
70
The invention of traditions, Hobsbawm argues, is much
more frequent when a rapid transformation of society weakens or destroys the
social patterns for which the old traditions had been designed, producing new ones
to which they were not applicable, or when such old traditions and their institutional
carriers and promulgators no longer prove sufciently adaptable and exible, or are
otherwise eliminated .
71
In the period since the industrial revolution, Hobsbawm
asserts that invented traditions belong to three overlapping types, those that seek to
establish or symbolize social cohesion or the membership of groups (real or articial
communities); establish or legitimize institutions, status, or relations of authority;
and socialize, or inculcate beliefs, value systems, or behavior.
72
So, the nature as well
as the mode of commemoration is important in power relations and identication.
This study asks whether such uses of tradition were employed in the early modern
period, and if so, with what implications?
In sum, the theoretical discussions reveal that constructing, maintaining, and
contesting the past may often go hand in hand and can have signicant implications
for internal communal structures and identity as well as the place of the community
within a broader external environment. Indeed, as the historian Constantin Fasolt
has argued recently, history is a form of self-assertion.
73
Memory has great power in
crafting group or social identity as well as in challenging the established orderit
can be a means of separation or continuity.
74
The continuum of memory and history
reects a powerful tool that can be utilized in both the conscious and unconscious
narration of the past. It can be a formative inuence or a descriptive one, revealing
to us a great deal about the community or society in question. While memory can
be shaped by cultural values and experiences, it can simultaneously create culture and
social value and extend them into the future.
The past, it seems, never exists in isolation. It is linked in a complex and dynamic
relationship with the present, and through the present to the future as well. Identity
may be formed through the active engagement with and continuation of the past, or
68 Ibid., p. 79.
69 See Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge,
1983).
70 Ibid., pp. 23.
71 Ibid., pp. 45.
72 Ibid., p. 9.
73 Constantin Fasolt, The Limits of History (Chicago, 2004), p. 230.
74 The narratives forged through memory, can, in fact, come to shape the identity of
an entire society (see the Matthew Innes, Introduction: Using the Past, Investigating the
Present, Inuencing the Future, in Hen and Innes (eds), The Uses of the Past in the Early
Middle Ages, pp. 18, here at p. 5).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 14
through a more radical reinterpretation and separation from the past.
75
According to
one recent historian,
human life is never simply lived in the present alone but rather in three worlds: one that
is, one that was, and one that will be. In theory we know these three worlds as separate
concepts but we experience them as inextricably linked and as inuencing each other in
many ways. Every important new discovery about the past changes how we think about the
present and what we expect of the future; on the other hand every change in the conditions of
the present and in the expectations for the future revise our perception of the past
76
History, in this interpretation, engages the past while simultaneously trying to separate
the present society from that past.
77
Memory and History in the Middle Ages
Do these theoretical conclusions resonate in what we know about the Middle Ages? In
the Middle Ages the past was narrated and gained meaning through both memory and
history. But what did memory and history mean in the Middle Ages?
Already in the early Middle Ages, Augustine had noted that the past is the
remembered present, just as the future is the anticipated present: memory is always
derived from the present and from the contents of the soul at present.
78
Memory in
the Middle Ages as today was multivalent and its meaning closely connected with the
form of its expression.
79
When Augustine used the verb contexto, to weave together, he
referred simultaneously to memory and narrative.
80
And what of the concept of history in the Middle Ages? Since Antiquity history
in the West was not a formal discipline in and of itself. It was originally a part of
rhetoric, the art of persuasion in writing and speech.
81
It also served at times as a form
75 According to one critical theorist, In this way it [modern western history] is unlike
tradition (religious tradition), though it never succeeds in being entirely dissociated from this
archaeology, maintaining with it a relation of indebtedness and rejection (Michel de Certeau, The
Writing of History, trans. Tom Conley (New York, 1988; orig., 1975), pp. 23; see also p. 37).
76 Ernst Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern (2nd edition,
Chicago, 1994 (orig., 1983)), p. 2.
77 De Certeau, The Writing of History, p. 37.
78 Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History, p. 7.
79 J rn Rsen notes that the border between chronology and historiography is uid; he
argues that chronology is a proto-history. See J rn Rsen, Die vier Typen des historischen
Erzhlens, in Reinhart Kosseleck, Heinrich Lutz, and J rn Rsen (eds), Formen der
Geschichtsschreibung (Munich, 1982), pp. 514605, here at p. 544. Rsen isolates four
different types of narratives: traditional narratives (inherited from fathers) (p. 545); exemplary
narratives (p. 547); critical narratives (opposed to tradition; weapons used in the battle against
the memory of a symbol) (p. 551); and, genetic narratives (structural changes of a system)
(p. 555). Indeed, the act of narration is signicant, whether or not that narration is formal or
modern historiography or not.
80 Olney, Memory and Narrative, p. 20.
81 Beryl Smalley, Historians in the Middle Ages (New York, 1974), p. 15.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 15
of ethics, as it did for Sallust,
82
or it might be akin to biography,
83
often beginning with
a recounting of the authors own personal experiences.
84
It was only in biblical exegesis
that historia had a special meaning, there as a literal understanding of Scripture.
85
Medieval historians were thus not historians in the professional sense that we
imagine them today,
86
rather they were chroniclers and registers, who believed that
the past was valuable as a means of instruction.
87
According to the German historian
Johannes Aventinus (14771534), for example: For in the old histories as in a mirror,
one views the life of the other and therefore takes from the other an image, to be
reminded what he should do or allow, what is in evil or good.
88
The connection
between the value of the past and behavior and knowledge of the present was frequently
maintained.
Although some historians have been careful to stress the continuity of historical
inquiry, even through the Renaissance,
89
others have noted the important developments
of the later Middle Ages, and even the work of the medieval scholastics in the creation
of greater systematization and the production of new historical-moral works.
90
In the
later Middle Ages, it has been argued, history increasingly functioned as a guarantee,
a centrum securitatis, of the continued life of the individual and the community.
91
In
discussing the motives for the work of the late medieval German town chronicles,
F.R.H. Du Boulay articulates various purposes that could exist alone or in any
combination, motives that revolve around issues of politics, personal need, and
professional employment. Late medieval town chronicles might furnish memorials of
a leading family; record the ceremonial reception of kings; keep reports on feuds and
wars, which the town engaged against external enemies; chronicle internal rebellions;
and allow for the authors own gratication, reward, or commission.
92
82 Ibid., p. 19.
83 Ibid., p. 21.
84 Ibid., p. 24.
85 Herbert Grundmann, Geschichtsschreibung im Mittelaler: GattungenEpochen
Eigenart (Gttingen, 1965), p. 5.
86 Frantiek Graus, Funktionen der sptmittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreibung, in
Hans Patze (ed.), Geschichtschreibung und Geschichtsbewusstsein im spten Mittelalter
(Sigmaringen, 1987), pp. 1155, here at p. 13.
87 Ibid., p. 18.
88 Ibid., p. 19.
89 Frantiek Graus, II. Zusammenfassung der Tagung Oktober 1981, in Patze (ed.),
Geschichtschreibung und Geschichtsbewusstsein im spten Mittelalter, pp. 83845, here at
p. 840, where he argues that there was no radical break between chronicling and historical
writing in the old sense and the so-called humanistic historiography.
90 Hans Patze, Zusammenfassungen: I. Zusammenfassung der Tagungen Oktober 1980
und Oktober 1982, in Patze (ed.), Geschichtschreibung und Geschichtsbewusstsein im spten
Mittelalter, pp. 82138, here at pp. 824, 835.
91 Graus, Funktionen der sptmittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreibung, p. 55.
92 F.R.H. Du Boulay, The German Town Chroniclers, in R.H.C. Davis and J .M.
Wallace-Hadrill (eds), The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Richard
William Southern (Oxford, 1981), pp. 44569, here pp. 4489.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 16
History was very uid in the Middle Ages, and could be expressed in a variety
of literary genres.
93
As with memory, the very narration of the past could be an
active tool in political propaganda,
94
and in many lands in the later Middle Ages
one can nd a noticeable increase in the social and political uses of historiography.
95
In the midst of revolts or other crises, for example, an ideal and lost past might
be promoted or castigated
96
and the past itself might be suborned as a witness
to the truth.
97
Throughout the Middle Ages history could serve as a means of
legitimization, interchanging good and old law,
98
noting the good old time
and so constructing social order,
99
or illustrating the authority of God.
100
History, as the recalling of both memory and tradition, could serve as a means
to legitimate or defend authority.
101
The process of writing history might argue for
legitimate knowledge, and such knowledge could form a self-dening center.
102
Histories, therefore, were (and continue to be) powerful tools that mediate
relationships and dene identities.
103
Historiansas creators and re-tellers of the
narrativethemselves could become brokers of power,
104
a particularly intriguing
concept with the dramatic changes in Western Europe in the early modern period
93 Graus, Funktionen der sptmittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreibung, pp. 256.
94 Ibid., pp. 289.
95 Ibid., p. 33.
96 Ibid., p. 34; others have also seen the birth of historiography in the fteenth century.
See, for example, Anna-Dorothee von den Brincken, Die Rezeption mittelalterliche
Historiographie durch den Inkunabeldruck, in Patze (ed.), Geschichtsschreibung und
Geschichtsbewusstsein im spten Mittelalter, pp. 21536, where it is argued that historiography
rst appeared in the last third of the fteenth century.
97 Graus, Funktionen der sptmittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreibung, p. 54.
98 Ibid., p. 23.
99 Ibid., p. 31.
100 Ibid., p. 24.
101 Leah Shopkow, History and Community: Norman Historical Writing in the Eleventh
and Twelfth Centuries (Washington, 1997), p. 253.
102 De Certeau, The Writing of History, p. 127. For Michel de Certeau, narration is
the art of speaking as an art of operating and of thinking; as such, it includes both practice
and theory. That is to say, that ways of operating designate activities but also organize
construction. Narration therefore is different than mere description. The act of narration
has more meaning than the actual object or end point that the narration completes. For de
Certeau, there also exists a contextual network of messages and operations; knowledge is
a memory, with many different moments and heterogeneous elements. The very duration of
that knowledge and the retelling of that knowledge intercede and change those moments and
elements. See also his The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley, 1984).
Some historians have, nevertheless, maintained that it is in fact possible to discern true from
false narrative, and, consequently that history both represents facts and participates in making
them. Nevertheless, historians themselves make history by deciding what to record and what
to ignore (Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History, pp. 30ff).
103 Histories reected political relationships of various kinds, including relationships
between institutions, between institutions and their communities, and between rulers and their
subjects (Shopkow, History and Community, p. 258).
104 See de Certeau, The Writing of History, p. 7.
Memory, History, and Jewish Identity 17
territorialization, the creation of the centralized state, the scientic development of
disciplines of knowledge,
105
and the crisis of authority, for example.
In order to speak of a real historical tradition, Frantiek Graus stipulates three
requirements: the narrative in the past is projected and is somehow relevant for the
presentcuriosities do not found a tradition; the narrative must be differentiated
from folklore; and the narrative must be passed over a certain period from
generation to generation orally or in written form. Graus has asserted, however, that
a simple consciousness of the past, which appears in different forms, is older than all
chronological historical writing. This consciousness may be clothed in mythic forms
and report on the beginning of time. It serves fundamentally to bind the members of
a society (Gemeinschaft), through a common past.
106
The process of narrating memory and history could lead to moralizing, since the
narratives require a system within which to be understood.
107
But narratives of the
past could also be moral in a different, broader sense as well. They involve the ethics
of selecting and re-presenting the past. In describing Norman historical writing
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Leah Shopkow notes that in the process of
writing a history, the historian decided not only what ought to be remembered but
also structured how the material was to be remembered, offering as a substitute
for personal, social, and self-referential memories external and abstract written
accounts. Therefore, as the medievalist Brian Stock notes, historical writing does
not treat reality; it treats the interpreters relation to it.
108
The historian is involved
in the process of creating as much as the facts and texts are,
109
and as such, the
producthistorical writingis thus an apologetic whose moral is coherence.
110
Memory itself becomes moral, and so has the power to dene proper behavior and
to focus on the (ideal) qualities that identify a group.
111
Conclusion
As we have seen, in theoretical discussions as well as actual application in the
Middle Ages, narration of the past could take different forms and serve a wide range
of purposes. Whether couched as memory or more formal history, engagement with
the past could be a powerful tool for locating authority (to challenge or uphold it),
mediating relationships, and dictating proper behavior. As such, the remembering
and use of the past played a central role in the formation, identity, and even
transformation of communities. What is more, the narrators of the past themselves
105 Ibid., p. 60.
106 Frantiek Graus, Lebendige Vergangenheit: berlieferung im Mittelaletr und in den
Vorstellungen vom Mittelalter (Cologne, 1975), p. 1.
107 Consider Hayden White, for example, as discussed in Cubit, Memory and Narrative,
p. 48.
108 Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of
Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, 1983), p. 80.
109 Ibid., p. 83.
110 Ibid., p. 84.
111 See Shopkow, History and Community, p. 257.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 18
served an important function in both recording and structuring community as well as
internal and external communal relations. While early modern J ewish communities
are generally seen as somehow traditional and religious and often simplistic in
their understanding and use of the past, we now ask whether early modern German
J ews narrated the past, through memory or history, for more sophisticated purposes
than simply religious ritual.
Chapter 2
Reconsidering Early Modern German
J ewish Memory and History
1
Paradigms in Jewish Memory
Traditionally, scholars have found pre-modern J ewish memory to be paradigmatic
rather than historical. J acob Neusner, for example, has asserted that time telling
in classical J udaism made no distinction between past and present, utilizing
paradigmatic modes of thought rather than historical ones.
2
He concluded that J ews
were indifferent to the specics of context
3
and that the J udaism of the dual Torah
transforms ancient Israels history into the categorical structure of eternal Israels
society, so that past, present, and future meet in the here and now.
4
Similar conclusions have been drawn for medieval J ewish literary production.
Regarding Abraham Ibn Dauds (c.11101180) tale of four rabbis taken captive by a
Muslim sea raider, for example, Gerson Cohen argued that the tale is not a historical
account, but rather a homily, a romance with a moral. It was meant to be consolation
for J ews, and it relied heavily on a symmetry in which historical reckoning is
imprecise and history conforms to a set pattern.
5
Likewise, in examining Hebrew narratives of the 1096 crusade riots, Ivan Marcus
contended that, The events actually reported qualify for inclusion only when they t
the narrators preconceived religious-literary schema. Medieval chronicles are, in this
sense, ctions: imaginative re-orderings of experience within a cultural framework
1 For a very concise and good treatment of Jewish approaches to history in general, see
Jay R. Berkovitz, Does Jewish History Repeat Itself? Paradigm, Myth and Tradition, in Dean
Phillip Bell (ed.), The Solomon Goldman Lectures, vol. VII (Chicago, 1999), pp. 13153.
2 J acob Neusner, History, Time, and Paradigm in Classical J udaism, in Approaches
to Ancient Judaism, Volume XVI, pp. 189211, here at pp. 18990.
3 Ibid., p. 190.
4 Ibid., p. 192.
5 Gerson Cohen, The Story of the Four Captives, Proceedings of the American
Academy for Jewish Research 29 (196061): 70123, here at p. 95. Cohen writes that, It is
a remarkable fact that virtually no modern scholar has taken seriously Ibn Dauds repeated
contention that history is not a mere record of past events, but essentially a source of
consolation for the J ew. Cohen notes the importance of symmetry in Ibn Dauds account
(overriding biblical passages or historical information) (p. 101); that rough correspondence is
sufcient (p. 102); that history is always shown to conform to a pattern (p. 105); and that the
reckoning of time is rather vague and imprecise, as when the text notes that 4750 a bit more
or less (p. 108) or when years serve as allusions (p. 111).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 20
and system of symbols.
6
The accounts were preoccupied with eschatology,
7
were
as liturgical as they were chronological,
8
and utilized central paradigms placed
into new situations: Mainz became J erusalem, for example, as Speyer became
Yavneh.
9
Indeed, in their approach to pre-modern J ewish memory, most scholars
assume that pre-modern J udaism and J ews were a religious and homogenous
group.
10
Traditional and religious sensibilityoften catchwords for subjective and
non-criticalis therefore seen as fundamental to any J ewish engagement with the
past. The consequences are that pre-modern J udaism is often seen to be unable or
unwilling to differentiate modes of temporality, especially past and present, and to
be able to understand the past merely in religious ways, primarily through paradigms
created in biblical or talmudic texts or the paradigm of causality expressed through
the motif of sin and repentance. It is worth reconsidering these assumptions. Given
the function of narrations of the past in the Middle Ages and more generally that we
saw in the rst chapter, what can we say about J ewish memory and history in early
modern Germany?
Early Modern Paradigms: Sin and Penance as Causal Explanations
For J ews, as for their medieval and early modern Christian counterparts, historical
events were often seen to follow a particular pattern. The present was understandable
within the context of tried and true typologies, or else seen to comport to some
divine plan hatched at the time of creation and discernible through various means of
biblical interpretation. The paradigm of four world empires that would rise and fall
in succession before an expected messianic culmination, for example, was frequently
espoused and described. Such a model made the unfolding of history and the ongoing
suffering of the J ews understandable, and at times reassuring. The paradigm of the
four world empires was not limited to J ewish writers and thinkers and it was still a
marvelously powerful tool of interpretation and historical organization even when
criticized by early modern Germans. Such an approach seemed to make history
disposable and the past understandable only by recourse to theological models and
considerations.
There were other standard theological ways in which J ews attempted to
understand the defeats and victories of the past and present. Early modern J ews,
like their Christian contemporaries, traded in an economy of sin, in which various
misfortunes were attributed to sin and eventual salvation to sincere repentance.
11
6 Ivan Marcus, From Politics to Martyrdom: Shifting Paradigms in the Hebrew
Narratives of the 1096 Crusade Riots, Prooftexts 2 (1982): 4052, here at p. 42.
7 Ibid., p. 45.
8 Ibid., p. 42.
9 Ibid., pp. 49, 51.
10 Jewish feminists have offered a critique of this assumption. See, for example, Judith
Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (San Francisco, 1991).
11 See the general literature in the recent work on natural disaster in the early modern
period. In particular, the concept of an economy of sin, is discussed in Wolfgang Behringer,
Kleine Eiszeit und Frhe Neuzeit, in Wolfgang Behringer, Hartmut Lehmann, and
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 21
Such an economy took on added signicance within the context of various
discussions about the power of God and the unique position of Gods chosen people,
the J ews. The important early modern legal authority, Yair Hayyim Bacharach, for
example, utilized fairly traditional language when, in his introduction to Mekor
Hayyim, he noted that Because of our sins our city of Worms was destroyed in 5449,
13 of Sivan [1 J une, 1689, by the French army].
12
Of the same event, he wrote in his
Havot Yair, that In the course of time there came upon us a year of curses. In 5449, 13
of Sivan our city was destroyed and because of our great sins our Beit-ha-Mikdash, our
small synagogue, was desolate. The residents of our holy congregation [of Worms]
left in terror and became wanderers and roamers. The description of the destruction
mirrored in microcosm the more general and grander history of the destruction of
the Temple and the dispersion of the J ews, while linking the event with J ewish sins.
In confronting the hostilities of the Fettmilch uprising in early seventeenth-century
Frankfurt, the author of the Megillat Vintz, a recounting cast into a rather traditional
Purim tale, similarly drew a direct line of causality between sin and suffering. How
great must have been our sins, he reected, even if we did not want to admit it.
13
He
pointed out that many overwhelming disasters had befallen our community up until
that time. For eight or nine years we had not slept peacefully. But the underlying
explanation was sin: The cause of all this was our great sins, revealed or hidden.
God, Blessed be He, has directed us that we should act with care. And this is the duty
of each one of us Therefore, we shall turn away from our evil ways. The miracles
and wonders shall not be forgotten.
14
In stressing the relation between perceived sin and tragedy, an early seventeenth-
century anonymous Prague chronicle ran through a litany of cause and effect
statements, positing specic community events, such as expulsions and res in the
J ewish street, as the result of community sins. 1559 Due to our iniquities, there
was a re in the J udenstrasse here in Prague, in which seventy-two houses were
consumed by the ames, as well as the Hochschul [college, referring to a yeshiva?].
This occurred on the 17th of Tammuz [a traditional day of fasting and mourning; in
that year on 22 J une]. A woman named Friedel Niches perished in the re as well,
due to our iniquities.
15
In part, the purpose of such recounting was to serve as a
memory for the future. The Prague chronicler simply explained that I shall recount
the events occurring in the Exile subsequent to the fth millennium: the expulsions,
miracles, and news of other occurrences befalling [the J ews] in Prague and the other
lands of our long exile because of our iniquities, to serve as a token of remembrance
Christian Pster (eds), Kulturelle Konsequenzen der Kleinen Eiszeit (Gttingen, 2005),
pp. 415508, here at pp. 4667.
12 Shlomo Eidelberg, Medieval Ashkenazic History: Studies on German Jewry in the
Middle Ages, Volume I English Essays (New York, 1999), p. 168.
13 Rivka Ulmer, Turmoil, Trauma and Triumph: The Fettmilch Uprising in Frankfurt
am Main (16121616) According to Megillas Vintz (Frankfurt am Main, 2001), p. 127.
14 Ibid., p. 197.
15 Abraham David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, c. 1615, trans. Leon J .
Weinberger with Dena Ordan (Tuscaloosa, 1993), pp. 467.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 22
for us and our descendants forever.
16
The re-telling of specics, however, might
also serve as something of a communal record akin to a ledger.
Conversely, salvation in many early modern J ewish narratives was generally
attributed to J ewish penance and prayer. According to the Megillat Vintz, for example,
we trusted in Him, Blessed be He. He turned them away because we trusted in His
holy and eternal name. We repented and aficted ourselves with fasting and prayer.
We thought we could avert the harsh, Divine decree and our great troubles.
17
The
causal relationship between J ewish spiritual action and political deliverance was
seen as direct. It was God who saved the J ews from their troubles, but only after
J ewish prayer and repentance. Moralizing was, therefore, intimately connected with
the narratives of the past that sought to explain both tragedy and redemption.
18
Beyond the Use of Paradigms
Throughout the early modern narratives, the language of our sins was common
and rather formulaic.
19
But should the frequent invocation of causality between sin
and tragedy and repentance and deliverance be taken purely literally? Did J ews
ascribe salvation only to divine intervention? Was there room for other explanations
of past events? Was the causal relationship different in different J ewish narratives
or in different contexts? The seventeenth-century Prague rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman
Heller, for example, in describing the 1648 Chmielnicki massacres did not see the
massacres only as punishment for perceived J ewish sins, but rather attributed them
largely to contemporary political conditions. Indeed, as his writings make clear,
Heller did not maintain an ahistorical concept of J ewish suffering.
20
Was this a view
shared by other early modern J ews?
Even when paradigms were the primary explanatory discourse, it is not enough
to say that the use of paradigms or traditional narration of the past implied that
early modern J ews were only religious or simply static. In what follows we will see
that paradigms could be used both to initiate and suppress change. Paradigms could
have varying levels of meaning and applicationlocal, regional, national, and even
16 Ibid., p. 21.
17 Ulmer, Turmoil, Trauma and Triumph, p. 113.
18 In a sense, the events of the past had the capacity to reect and renew the eternal and
ongoing covenant between God and His people. The power of God could at times, however, be
activated for the assistance of the J ews, even without J ewish action. The anonymous Prague
chronicle reported that the King allowed the expelled J ews to return, with the help of God, and
did not mention J ewish penance: 5301 [1541] King Ferdinand, may he be exalted, expelled
[the J ews] from all the cities of Bohemia, and here in Prague only ten [J ewish] householders
remained. Subsequently, he allowed them to return, with the help of God. (David (ed.), A
Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, pp. 445) The actions of the J ews mattered little in this case,
since the King was apparently divinely inspired to allow the J ews back into his realm.
19 See, for example, the note by Abraham David regarding the language in the anonymous
Prague Chronicle, which he argues is not intended to be literal (ibid., p. 21).
20 See J oseph Davis, Yom-Tov Lipman Heller: Portrait of a Seventeenth-Century Rabbi
(Oxford, 2004), pp. 11, 13. See also pp. 14651 for examples from Hellers Megilat eivah.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 23
universal. Paradigms could be employed for a variety of purposes and in numerous
contexts that belie simple or unwavering engagement with the past.
When the community ledgers of the Prague community stressed that our sins
have led to recent misfortunes, such emphasis did not have to be read only as a
paradigmatic understanding of the past, with suffering as the divine punishment for
sin. The mention of sins, in this case, provided a current means for moral upbraiding
and the reinforcement of old, or the introduction of new, laws. According to one part
of the ledger:
And here, in the month of Tishri 372, by the shorter calculation [1611], we have gathered
together to review what is happening within our holy community. For several days now
we have observed a great number of misfortunes around us, as well as terrible dread, the
most recent being lives cut sort. For a considerable number of people and children, boys
and girls, have died, and they say that surely our sins have brought this upon us. Perhaps
there are hidden sins, and we have decided in Gods name, and so that He may relent and
take pity on those of us who remain and heal our dear ones it has thus been decided
with the consent of our holy community, to issue a law that must be respected by all those
within the gates of our town who must observe it down to its precise details, which will
be claried below.
21
While the document clearly posited the relationship between misfortune and
sin, it also afforded the opportunity to initiate signicant changes in communal
legislation.
At times, it was, in fact, the present and current social and political conditions
that themselves gave meaning to the past! Throughout many of the narratives
examined here, the past was utilized as a means to legitimate current practices or
lobby for changes. The Frankfurt community minutes provide an excellent example.
There it was recorded: In the year (5)302 [1542], the heads of the people together
with the scholars and the leaders of Germany assembled at Worms to correct the
state of affairs of Germany. They renewed and re-issued this matter because the
ordinance of the ancients was worthy in their eyes. The following scholars were
mentioned specically and signed the document What motivated them to engage
in this burden was (the fact) that they saw the later generations, including their
scholars and their leaders, lose heart and faith. Perhaps, some rabbis intentionally
and brutally lorded over a holy people for their own welfare, benet and self-
aggrandizement.
22
Engagement with the past, of course, was not necessarily the same as acceptance
of the past. As the Rules of the hevra kadisha (burial society) of Prague (16921702)
demonstrate, past decisions and practices could be a means for measuring current
21 Sylvie Anne Goldberg, Crossing the Jabbok: Illness and Death in Ashkenazi Judaism
in Sixteenth- through Nineteenth-Century Prague, trans. Carol Cosman (Berkeley, 1996) p.
227, Rulings and Practices of the Sages of our Community of Prague, issued in the month of
Tishri 5372 [1611].
22 See also the following excerpt: Now, therefore, we, the young of the ock have humbly
proceeded [to re-endorse] the ordinance of the ancients which we view favorably. We listened
intently to all their words and have reissued it as a new ordinance. Eric Zimmer, Jewish Synods
in Germany during the Late Middle Ages (12861603) (New York, 1978), p. 143.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 24
practices, deciding proper behavior, and giving a very real sense of authority to
both old and new decisions. While the past did possess, in these contexts, a sanctity
of its own, it is worth noting that the past could be selected and ltered. It had real
meaning only in reference to the present, which could choose to continue, endorse,
or, by inference, discard past practices. Often current legislation issued from old
rules, or it indicated that an old article may be preserved. Old rules, however,
might also be judged inappropriate or not reissued.
23
Even when placing events within a traditional paradigm, such as those refracted
into the Purim story, early modern narratives often stressed the unique features and
meanings of the events being presented. The introduction to the Megillat Vintz, for
example, noted its compilation at the hands of local and distinguished scholars. It
detailed the enormous hardships that befell the Frankfurt community, specically to
inform and edify the present and future generations, by making public a very special
miracle manifest in the eventual salvation of the J ewish community.
24
The song
recorded that: We (the J ews) all gathered in a hurry in front of the Bockenheimer
Pfort [Bockenheim Gate] with all of the members of our households. We had come
from everywhere, as had the other householders who had lived under other lords.
They, like we, were running to Frankfurt to be able to see what was going to happen
in order that they could tell future generations.
25
While presenting the local events of the Fettmilch uprising and maintaining the
local emphasis on Frankfurt and its J ewish community, the song also universalized
the meaning of the events for all J ews. Like many early modern chronicles, local,
regional, and universal issues and identities could be intimately connected. The
anonymous seventeenth-century chronicle from Prague also reported on a broad
array of events throughout Bohemia, while offering a special emphasis on the
resonance of those events on the J ewish community in Prague. At times the balance
between local and regional could be utilized to emphasize the effects of regional
developments on or to demonstrate the unique standing of the Prague community.
The chronicle was, therefore, local but subsumed within a larger regional context.
The chronicle noted, for example, that Due to our iniquities, there was another
decree expelling [the J ews] from all the cities of Bohemia, and here, in Prague, only
twelve [J ewish] householders remained.
26
When paradigms were employed, it is worth considering why certain paradigms
were selected, for what purposes, with what meanings, and in what contexts. The
emphasis on the Purim story and the gure of Esther in particular was, for example,
an important motif for Portuguese J ews returning to J udaism in late sixteenth- and
23 For example: which practices to uphold, both old and new; from a document
written on an ancient tablet; this is a rule from former times ; there is an old law that
dates back many years (p. 219); and this issues also from the old rules; it was decided
to extend an old article (p. 220); for this day was chosen a long time ago; a general
endorsement of an old article of ours; this, too, is contained in the old articles (p. 221);
issues from the old rules; This is also an old article that we shall preserve; An old rule
forbids (p. 222). All in Goldberg, Crossing the Jabbok.
24 Ulmer, Turmoil, Trauma and Triumph, p. 90.
25 Ibid., p. 179.
26 David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, pp. 445.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 25
early seventeenth-century Amsterdam and Hamburg.
27
These J ews could identify
with Esther as the hidden J ew as well as the threats to expulsion and pogrom that
were eventually overcome.
28
The past was highly engaged and could be highly charged, especially in the
numerous comparative statements or equations that appear throughout early modern
German J ewish literature. The use of comparison could serve as a means to explain
recent events within the spectrum of broader communal or J ewish historygiving
that event greater and more relevant meaningor to demonstrate the uniqueness of a
particular event. Often such comparison was rather general, and intended to convey
the sense that current events were important or central. The anonymous Prague
chronicler wrote that and the multitude was so great that it erased the memory of
former armies. The Megillat Vintz similarly expressed that, We had a time of great
distress as had never before been the case in our time
29
and in another place that It
was in the year 372, at that time in the great (honorable) city of Frankfurt, a great
ght broke out, like none other ever seen before on the face of the earth.
30
In more dramatic fashion some comparison could be quite stirring, directing
readers back to central events in J ewish history. Often such comparison presupposed
audience familiarity with a range of texts, personalities, and stories. The Megillat
Vintz drew signicant parallels with the Purim story, writing that This is what
Vintz Hans himself spoke against us. I am your present Haman; I am not afraid of
(another) Mordechai, there are no such pious people among you.
31
Not only was
the paradigm of the Purim story replicated, but the central evil character himself
27 See Berkovitz, Does J ewish History Repeat Itself?, p. 145. See also Miriam Bodian,
Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam
(Bloomington, 1997), pp. 10, 172 (note 24 for references).
28 Analogies in historical writing transcend their historical specicity, and connect
past and present. And yet, different durations and periods of time possess different social
value (note the concept of overtime). See Eviatar Zerubavel, Time Maps: Collective Memory
and the Social Shape of the Past (Chicago, 2003), pp. 26, 45, 50. In this regard, Zerubavel
argues that History thus takes the form of a relief map, on the mnemonic hills and dales of
which memorable and forgettable events from the past are respectively featured. Its general
shape is thus formed by a handful of historically eventful mountains interspersed among
wide, seemingly empty valleys in which nothing of any historical signicance seems to have
happened (p. 27). Regarding national memory, he adds that: As far as national memory
is concerned the social shape of the past is essentially bimodal, with most of the events
commemorated on national holidays having occurred either in the very distant past or within
the last two hundred years. Events that are calendrically commemorated by nations thus
typically form two chronologically dense clusters representing their respective spiritual and
political origins and separated from each other by long stretches of commemoratively empty
time (p. 31). That certain events or comparisons were more frequently cited, then, is not
surprising. That early modern German J ews presented patterns of historical memory in a
similar fashion implies that such presentations need not be dismissed as ahistorical or simply
paradigmatic.
29 Zimmer, Synods, p. 103.
30 Ulmer, Turmoil, Trauma and Triumph, p. 97.
31 Ibid., p. 135.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 26
proclaimed his afnity with Haman. In other sections the song elicited comparisons
with David and Goliath,
32
and, quite incredibly, even the Exodus from Egypt.
33
At other times, recourse to the past served to moralize by contrasting perceived
low contemporary standards with the exceptional people or behaviors of the past.
According to the now famous late seventeenth and early eighteenth century J ewish
memoir writer Glckel of Hameln, who had an impressive present-mindedness about
her, To tell the truth, she didnt have to burden herself with many wares, because
formerly people were satised with a small turnover.
34
A private Prague letter from
1619, likewise distinguished between nowadays and previous times: What shall
I tell you about this? I think you are clever enough to imagine what could happen
in such a time. Now we have been saved from this peril, we have certainly proted
by the merits of our ancestors. And I particularly have suffered terribly. I have not
saved a penny for my own needs, if, God forbid, my life were to be endangered.
Nowadays nobody is ready to lend anything to other people, from one hand into
another. When I needed something for living, I was obliged to offer double pledges
and to pay high interest.
35
In a similar vein, even more formal community accounts,
such as the minutes from the Frankfurt J ewish community, utilized comparison with
the past to brandish before community members a moral yardstick. It observed that,
If such was the case with previous generations most certainly beyond any doubt [it
is with] the contemporary generation of their students students which are orphaned
and which decline from day to day!
36
While the Temple was much discussed by J ews and Christians in the late sixteenth
and early seventeenth centuries, it is revealing that a simple letter from 1619 found
the Temple as an appropriate comparative image: I had much to write you about
horrible things, but I cannot write, about the afiction we had to endure here when
riots almost occurred in our streets. It was like at the destruction of the Temple.
37
One of course would be hard pressed to believe that the author wanted to make such
a direct comparison. But as a tool to activate the sense of great loss and turmoil, the
32 Ibid., p. 137.
33 This can be compared to the powerful Exodus from Egypt where we had been
slaves. All that has occurred has been the work of God to prevent (our) pride and wrongdoing
or any other transgression. God, Blessed be He, cannot be deceived (ibid., p. 197). See also
the anonymous Prague chronicle, which recounted: I shall recount another miracle as great
as the Exodus from Egypt and the Splitting of the Red Sea (David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle
from Prague, p. 66).
34 Glckel of Hameln, The Memoirs of Glckel of Hameln, trans. Marvin Lowenthal
(New York, 1977; orig., 1932), p. 14 (Glikl Hamil, Memoirs (Buenos Aires, 1967) [Yiddish],
p. 50). She also writes that, no such arrogance reigned in the old days as now, and people
were not wont to eat such costly meals (p. 267; see the Yiddish version, pp. 34041).
35 Sarel, daughter of Moses, to her husband Loeb Sarel Gutmans, November, 1619, in
Franz Kobler (ed.), A Treasury of Jewish Letters: Letters from the Famous and the Humble
(London, 1952), vol. II, pp. 4667. For early modern letters, compare Steven Ozment, Flesh
and Spirit: Private Life in Early Modern Germany (New York, 1999).
36 Zimmer, Synods, p. 145.
37 Sarel, daughter of Moses, to her husband Loeb Sarel Gutmans, November, 1619, in
Kobler (ed.), A Treasury of Jewish Letters, pp. 4667.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 27
destruction of the Temple was perceived as an appropriately stirring image. This
does not imply that early modern J ews diminished the importance of the past by
recalling it in such casual terms; nor does it indicate that J ews could not understand
the past or present outside of paradigms. In fact, such comparisons might indicate
that early modern J ews were more creative and thoughtful about their use of the past,
a use that encompassed all aspects of J ewish life, not simply religious traditions and
dogmatism. Resort to the past of paradigms should not, therefore, be seen as simply
bowing to the past. Such discourse allowed J ews to reshape, recalibrate, or even
explain change.
Temporality: The Relation of Past and Present
Beginning with the Renaissance, some have argued, a clearer separation of past and
present developed. According to one recent study,
Renaissance historical writings are characterized, more or less noticeably, by awareness
of historical distance. In its purest forms, this sophistication found expression in the
principle of anachronism, which began to be current among the learned and remained
with them. The popular chronicles, even those of Italian provenance, did not always share
the full clarity of the new perspective. Nonetheless, even they reected, however dimly or
brightly, the ages preoccupation with the past as past.
38
In traditional J ewish historiography, however, it has been generally assumed that
until the end of the eighteenth century J ews essentially inhabited a temporal world
of their own, with J ews living in a predominantly eschatological time frame.
39
According to this line of thinking, it was only with nineteenth-century modern
historical thinking that pre-modern temporal continuity gave way to a model of
succession that privileged the present over the past.
40
In this world, the distance
between experience and expectation widened, as the breakdown of tradition and the
crisis of time made both the past and the future seem more distant.
41
Although many scholars have argued that there was a transformation of J ewish
historiography in the sixteenth century, they have found the precursors to modern
critical historical scholarship that seem to have been forged during the Renaissance
in only a few isolated gures, particularly the erudite Azariah de Rossi. Sixteenth-
century J ewish historiography has been seen as at once a revival of J ewish historical
thinking and a continuation of notions of the past imprinted with traditional religious
sensibilities.
42
Corresponding to long-standing models of periodization, the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, then, represent a continuum that is still medieval but that
38 Frank L. Borchardt, German Antiquity in Renaissance Myth (Baltimore, 1971), p. 312.
39 Nils Roemer, Between Hope and Despair: Conceptions of Time and the German-Jewish
Experience in the Nineteenth Century, Jewish History 14 (2000): 34563, here at p. 346.
40 Ibid., p. 345.
41 Ibid., p. 355.
42 See as well Mordechai Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism in Sixteenth-Century
J ewish Historiography: A Study of David Gans Tzemah David, in Bernard Dov Cooperman
(ed.), Jewish Thought in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1983), pp. 4988.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 28
is moving closer to the modernity of the nineteenth century. One might ask, however,
whether J ews experienced broader changes in temporal perspective outside of formal
historical writing.
Amos Funkenstein has suggested that the period between the sixteenth and
eighteenth centuries witnessed the creation of a new kind of contextual understanding
of history and the shift, particularly in the seventeenth century, from an idea of history
within the religious to one within the secular domain.
43
According to Funkenstein:
Somewhere between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century, a revolution occurred that was
no less radical than the concurrent scientic revolution. It brought about a new contextual
understanding of history, in which historical fact became understood or meaningful
only through the context in which it was embedded. This applies to both historical texts
and other monuments of the past. The historian must reconstruct the context, and the
reconstruction is always linked to his or her point of view in the present.
44
It is not too far of a stretch to place early modern J ews within this Renaissance
context. J ewish narratives were not, of necessity, internal or hermetically sealed.
They often shared similar approaches, sources, and foci with the productions of non-
J ewish historical writers. Like the chronicle of David Gans, much early modern
German J ewish literature engaged the developments and concerns of the non-J ewish
world. The anonymous seventeenth-century Prague chronicle, for examplewhich
does not seem to have borrowed directly from Gans
45
was written in a simple,
unembellished Hebrew, but was inuenced by the vernacular. It clearly incorporated
both oral and written materials, including information from the community pinkas
[community ledger], as well as non-J ewish documentary evidence.
46
The chronicle
reported on rainbows,
47
eclipses,
48
weather,
49
earthquakes,
50
and stars,
51
while also
recording recent J ewish and general history (within the preceding 50 years), such
as the attack of the Turks on Vienna
52
and the coronation of the king.
53
Given that
43 Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History, p. 15.
44 Ibid., pp. 1415.
45 David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, pp. 58.
46 Ibid., p. 9.
47 Ibid., pp. 38, 40.
48 Ibid., pp. 38, 51.
49 Ibid., p. 40.
50 Ibid., p. 70.
51 Ibid., p. 52. For 1577, the chronicle recorded the following regarding a star: May
God regard it for good and a blessing, Amen. Its like had not been seen for over forty-ve
years. See also Zemah David. Zinberg, in vol. 6 of his far-reaching A History of Jewish
Literature, notes Ganss recording of epidemics, troubles, afictions, oods, earthquakes,
signs as harbingers of coming oppressions and trials (p. 49). Even the minhag [custom] book
of the community of Worms refers to a two-hour lunar eclipse, adding the hope that it may be
a good omen for all Israel. See Eidelberg, Medieval Ashkenazic History, in his excerpts from
the Minhagim of the Worms Community, p. 139 (16 Av 5423 (August 19, 1663)).
52 David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, p. 39.
53 Ibid., p. 40. See also p. 58 for previous royal delegations and p. 61 regarding the 1609
Reichstag.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 29
early modern German J ewry was complex and J ews were involved with internal
concerns as well as a myriad of more general developments, it is time we turn to a
few illustrative examples of how early modern J ews approached time and how they
focused narratives of the past.
Early Modern German Jewish Temporality
Even if it is true that there were relatively few purely historical works to be found
among medieval and early modern Ashkenazic J ews, J ews did construct narratives
of the past and have a sense of time and historical consciousness. Many genres of
J ewish writing contain important narratives of the past: from rabbinic responsa to
wonder stories, customs books, necrologies, communal records, and literature. These
narratives may be brief or intricate and detailed; they may be discrete renderings or
part of a broader concern; they may be based on documents, traditions, or imagination;
they may examine various periods in the past. The role of such J ewish narratives of
the past could, in fact, be rather complicatedsimilar in important ways to more
general historical narrative and yet inherently different in other ways, revealing
unique local concerns. Before we explore these narratives and these issues, we must
rst ask how early modern J ews conceived of time and what role temporality played
in early modern J ewish culture.
Late medieval and early modern J ewish art often reected complex and
overlapping temporal patterns. In the Yahuda Haggadah of mid-fteenth-century
south Germany, a large angel, replete with wings, conversed with a biblical J oshua
dressed in contemporary garb.
54
In the Prague Haggadah of 1526, ancient cities
such as Pitom and Ramses were depicted as medieval fortied cities and towers
respectively. The fteenth-century Ashkenazi Haggadah similarly provided a scene
depicting J ews enslaved in Egypt hard at work with medieval style buildings,
European countryside, and modern ladders and pulleys. As in many haggadot,
the rasha, or evil son, was depicted as a military gure in full armor; the son who
does not know how to ask was a court jester or fool. In these examples we nd
a transposition of biblical and contemporary time, merging the two together in a
message that reinforced the biblical story through the use of contemporary imagery.
55
Does this temporal conation imply the inability to distinguish temporal modes or,
perhaps, something different? To answer this question, let us turn to several central
early modern German J ewish texts.
It seems fair to say that J ewish writers in early modern Germany were rarely
precise in their use of memory, historical reckoning, or their understanding of time.
54 Karl Katz, P.P. Kahane, and Magen Broshi (eds), From the Beginning: Archaeology
and Art in the Israel Museum (London, 1968), illus. 130.
55 Similarly, Lassner writes that: Recent events were, therefore, reinterpreted by Muslim
historians to make them consonant with the ideals and circumstances of the Prophet and his
age. As a result, current times were inevitably recorded as if they were the mirror images of
the historic past. See J acob Lassner, Time, Historiography, and Historical Consciousness:
The Dialectic of J ewish-Muslim Relations, in Benjamin H. Hary, J ohn L. Hayes, and Fred
Astren (eds), Judaism and Islam: Boundaries, Communication and Interaction, Essays in
Honor of William M. Brinner (Leiden, 2000), pp. 126, here at p. 17.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 30
Mekor Hayyim, by Yair Hayyim Bacharach, one of the great early modern German
J ewish legal experts, for example, was replete with references to memory. A
quick inventory of the meanings of such references, however, reveals a complex
and at times overlapping set of concepts. Zakhor, or memory, had a number of
meanings throughout the text. Typically the term referred to scriptural passages or
arguments,
56
a traditional explanation or ruling in the Talmud
57
or in the writings
or codes of previous J ewish scholars.
58
Often the term was used negatively, noting
that the author did not remember the specic ruling in a passage.
59
The term could be
self-referential, pointing the reader to previous discussions within the volume itself
60
or within previous sections of works cited. Remembrance extended to memories of
miracles of redemption as well.
61
The term might also, particularly in its innitive
form, refer to recognition or acceptance.
62
The concept of time, particularly the distinction between previous times and our
time (in our time)
63
or this time,
64
was also marked throughout Mekor Hayyim
and Bacharachs other writings, suggesting that we need to reevaluate traditional
assumptions that pre-modern J ews lacked historical consciousness, or that halakhic
[legal] literature is necessarily atemporal. Although a variety of temporal modes
were therefore combined, it hardly seems correct to argue that Bacharach did not or
was not capable of distinguishing between past and present.
In his Zemah David, the important Prague astronomer and historian David
Ganss sense of time was frequently blurred. Gans compared the great expulsion
from France with the exodus from Egypt,
65
many events were located by reference
to the destruction of the Temple,
66
and he frequently utilized very general dating such
as around this time
67
or before this time.
68
Nevertheless, Gans also demonstrated
the ability to differentiate time and chronological periods at the same time that he
extended his analysis to contemporary times. He wrote of the period of tannaim and
the days of Rabbi Akiva,
69
at the same time that he discussed historical events that
he heard about from great scholars and teachers of his own time.
70
Indeed, for Gans,
56 Bacharachs commentary is in J oseph ben Ephraim Karo, Shulkhan Arukh Orakh
Hayyim im Perush Mekor Hayyim, 2 vols (J erusalem, 1982), here at vol. 1, p. 39.
57 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 4, 5, 136, 217, 375; vol. 2, pp. 385, 394.
58 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 8 (the tradition received from the geonim), 73 (Rokeah and
Maharil), and 136 (Rambam).
59 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 5, 16, 51 (regarding the Tosasts).
60 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 52, 60, 220, 333.
61 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 50, 302 (the exodus from Egypt).
62 Regarding a get [bill of divorce], for example, see ibid., vol. 1, p. 162.
63 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 13.
64 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 150, 230 (customary in this time), 245, 336; vol. 2, p. 390; and
compare in the time of the hahamim [sages] (vol. 2, p. 401).
65 David Gans, Zemah David, ed. Mordechai Breuer (J erusalem, 1983), p. 129.
66 Ibid., p. 80.
67 Ibid., p. 33.
68 Ibid., p. 66.
69 Ibid., pp. 88, 89.
70 Ibid., see pp. 129, 40.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 31
the force of past events was at times related precisely to their currency. He noted,
for example, that until this day the land was called Germany, in the language of the
Romans alemania; similarly, to this day the kings of Rome are called Kaiser; and
the land of France is called Franken Land.
71
While chronology could thus be vague
and often not even sequential, Gans clearly did differentiate past and present to a
signicant degree.
The general concept of our time(s)
72
or our generation,
73
as expressed in the
work of J uspa Hahn of Nrdlingen, a leading rabbinic gure in early seventeenth-
century Frankfurt am Main, offers yet another important example of early modern
German J ewish conceptions of time, memory, and history, which were anything
but systematic. Throughout the Sefer Yosef Ometz, J uspas denition of this time
shifted in various places. He asserted vaguely that we were accustomed from
previous times until now,
74
and that the number of printing presses had increased
in our time and that they print in many places in Ashkenaz.
75
This time could
include a passage from Emek Bracha in the name of the Maharshal (c.15101574);
76
a ruling in the sixteenth-century Shulhan Arukh;
77
and the writings of the Rosh
(c.12501327).
78
The use of the concept of our time could also be made to serve a
moralizing principle, for example, when he wrote that and because in our generation
we have practically no kavanna [intention] thus I will not write only that we need
more
79
And yet there was a broad differentiation of time throughout his work. J uspa
explicated a number of types of individuals, which could be divided as follows:
self, father, teacher, pious person, and sages. In this regard, the text might be said to
include reference to the present (himself and contemporaneous gures), the recent
past (father, teachers, other scholars of note)which at times extended several
hundred years!and the more distant past (referring mostly to the talmudic sages).
There was a diverse array of words that J uspa utilized throughout the text, as well
as a variety of sources of authority. He focused on practices and customs, and his
relationship to sources of authority was central for much of his recounting of local
customs.
Throughout the text J uspa employed the terms discovered, seen, and heard.
Corresponding to varying temporal modalities, J uspa utilized these terms to provide
authority and knowledge, and to establish tradition. Such terms, which nd echoes
in the broader ethnographic literature of the early modern period suggest that J ews
were in fact capable of distinguishing and giving meaning to periods of time, specic
events, and modes of reception.
71 Ibid., pp. 174, 204, 205.
72 J uspa Hahn Nrdlingen, Sefer Yosef Ometz (J erusalem, 1965), pp. 30, 286, 292.
73 Ibid., pp. 44, 56, 291.
74 Ibid., p. 49; see also p. 117.
75 Ibid., p. 8.
76 Ibid., p. 57.
77 Ibid., p. 161.
78 Ibid., p. 352.
79 Ibid., p. 56.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 32
It would seem that J ews were capable of and willing to distinguish types of
temporality. The emphasis on religious practice and the search for authority, which
were shared in broader German society, may have fostered the dual attempt to
recognize recent events and to place them within a broader historical context. J ewish
engagement with the past, however, was not simply theological or paradigmatic;
rather it could be social and political as well as dynamic and changeable.
Conclusions
Even when we accept the centrality of the paradigmatic argument, we do not
necessarily have to presuppose that the paradigms did not allow J ews to understand
the nuances of the past or see recent historical developments as more than typologies.
After all, paradigms were part and parcel of early modern German J ewish narratives,
and so were, in a sense, part of communal record keeping, identity, and history,
often serving to explain past and current events and to provide continuity with the
future. One might agree that early modern German J ewish life, as visible in the
literary productions that we possess, was imbued with an intimate relationship with
the sacred. We do not need to assume, however, that J ewish writing, particularly
narratives of the past, reected only deep and all-consuming religious sensibility
and observance. In fact, the growing literature on early modern halakhic exibility,
tolerated dissent, and intellectual confusiondepending on how one wants to
approach the period and subject more generallysuggests that early modern J ewish
life was more complex than is often assumed.
Paradigms were important in pre-modern J ewish thinking, but that does not mean
that J ews could not think beyond paradigms. Already for the medieval period, for
example, Robert Chazan has argued persuasivelyand in some respects similarly
to Funkensteinthat there were at least two important genres that allowed J ews to
reconsider the notion of an unbroken continuum of J ewish experience. The rst was
J ewish law, in which a careful context of contemporary events was often required.
The second was the First Crusade chronicles, which often provided detailed and
diversied depictions of actual J ewish actions.
80
As we have seen, early modern
German J ewish engagement with the past at times employed paradigms, but with
different creative meaning, and at other times went beyond the use of paradigms to
engage and refract the past for various present purposes.
Given the complex and changeable nature of early modern Germany, and the
often-precarious position of the J ews, we may ask how narration of the pastat
times forwarded through both tradition and innovationserved to orient J ewish
society internally and externally. There are a number of common issues that will
reappear in the analysis that follows. Throughout the narratives investigated,
time and the past can be complicated and changeable concepts. Nevertheless, the
sources reviewed reveal that there were two primary categories into which early
modern German J ewish narratives of the past fell. First, such narratives provided
80 Robert Chazan, Representation of Events in the Middle Ages, in Ada Rapoport-
Albert (ed.), Essays in Jewish Historiography: In Memoriam Arnaldo Dante Momigliano,
19081987 (Middletown, CT, 1988), pp. 4055, here at pp. 47, 50, 55.
Reconsidering Early Modern German Jewish Memory and History 33
the opportunity for collective group identity. The group was dened internally
by relation to an ideal past. In this sense, history and knowledge were used to
legitimate the present and provided authority for particular ruling groups within
the community. In addition, narratives of the past provided the means for dening
the collectivity through moral parameters and discussion of proper behavior. But
narratives of the past also afforded the opportunity to dene the collectivity vis--vis
external groups, while simultaneously mediating and contesting relationships with
external authorities. Along the way it should be clear that early modern German
J ewry was multidimensional and complex; it was hardly monolithic, static, or purely
religious. It is time now that we turn more fully to the texts themselves.
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Chapter 3
Community, Memory, and Governance
A Context: Population, Settlement, and the Jews
Early Modern German Population and Settlement
The early modern period throughout Europe, and especially in Germany, was a time
of tremendous change and upheaval. While a simple categorization of the period as
one of crisis is insufcient, it is clear that dramatic social, political, and religious
changes had signicant impact on the lives of J ews and Christians alike. General
demographic patterns offer one example of the simultaneous volatility and growth
of the period. The population of the German Empire, which had peaked to around
11 to 14 million inhabitants in 1340, declined to 7 to 10 million by around 1470,
1
but then rebounded to 16.2 million by 1600making the German population the
second largest in Europe, behind the nearly 18.5 million people residing in France
in 1600. With the impact of bad harvests throughout the sixteenth century,
2
the
heavy snow, deep cold, and late frosts between 1584 and 1622, the large number of
epidemics throughout the 1630s,
3
as well as decades of war, the German population
dipped again, however, to 14.1 million by 1700. Such wild population swings caused
massive changes in social, economic, and political order.
By the late sixteenth century regional settlement density could vary widely. There
were ten houses per square kilometer in the western Black Forest, for example, eight
in Wrttemberg and two in Mecklenburg. The most thickly settled area before 1634,
the Duchy of Wrttemberg, possessed 50 residents per square kilometer.
4
In Swabia
and Bavaria, chronicles of the sixteenth century report a population bursting at the
seams, and we know that by 1560 the land available for settlement in these areas had
run out.
5
The process of growth throughout Germany, however, was geographically
uneven, and the effects of settlement patterns and changing demographics could be
profound, as we will see below.
1 Werner Rsener, The Agrarian Economy, 13001600, in Bob Scribner (ed.),
Germany: A New Social and Economic History, volume I, 14501630 (London, 1996), pp. 63
83, here at p. 639 million in 1500, according to Christian Pster, Bevlkerungsgeschichte
und historische Demographie 15001800 (Munich, 1994), pp. 1011.
2 Robert J tte, Poverty and Poor Relief, in Ogilvie (ed.), Germany: A New Social and
Economic History, pp. 377404, here at p. 380.
3 Pster, Bevlkerungsgeschichte, pp. 1213.
4 Ibid., p. 13.
5 Christian Pster, The Population of Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany, in
Scribner (ed.), Germany: A New Social and Economic History, pp. 3362, here at p. 41.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 36
Around 1500, only 16 per cent of the German population lived in areas with
more than 5,000 inhabitants4 per cent in large cities of more than 10,000. By 1600
that percentage had decreased to 12.
6
As in the later Middle Ages, the majority of
German towns had populations of less than 2,000,
7
and there were some 2,0003,000
towns (including Swiss and Austrian towns) in early modern Germany. In the early
modern period there were few new towns founded, perhaps only 200 between 1500
and 1800, and so the German urban pattern was essentially complete by the end of
Middle Ages.
8
When all of these cities and towns are included, approximately one
quarter of the total population of the Holy Roman Empire lived in urban areas;
9
in
Hesse-Kassel and Saxony at the beginning of the seventeenth century, for example,
30 per cent of the population was urban (in Thuringia the percentage was 28 and in
Wrttemberg 26).
10
Cities continued to be centers of trade and industry, of education, art, and literature.
As such, cities were never isolated entities. Indeed, burghers lived within a rich mix
of social orders and had the opportunity to associate with a variety of city inhabitants
and visitors, such as foreign travelers and businessmen. In addition to longer-term
residents, cities could be home to large numbers of foreign migrants. Some 5,000
7,000 Netherlanders, for example, migrated to Germany in 1567, as did large numbers
of Huguenots in the late seventeenth century.
11
Migration could, of course, be more
regional as well. Wrttemberg, for example, took in migrants from Switzerland,
Vorarlberg, Bavaria, and Tirol,
12
and cities generally drew signicant proportions
of their immigrants from the surrounding countryside. While the percentage of the
population from the surrounding land in Cologne and Hamburg was only 5, in early
modern Frankfurt and Aachen it was 20 (in some border towns with exceptional
religious conditions, such as Emden and Wesel, the percentage could be as high as 40
and 50
13
). In early modern Colmar, of 922 individuals, whose geographical origins can
be ascertained, 385 (41.8 per cent) were born in Colmar, 207 (22.5 per cent) migrated
from villages in Alsace, and 330 (35.4 per cent) came to Colmar from other regions.
14
This migration to citiesas well as other social, economic, and political developments,
such as wealth distributioncould, in many cities, correspond to a variety of factors,
including confessional afliation.
15
The city afforded, in a sense almost dictated,
interaction between many social and cultural groups.
6 Pster, Bevlkerungsgeschichte, p. 14.
7 Tom Scott and Bob Scribner, Urban Networks, in Scribner (ed.), Germany: A New
Social and Economic History, pp. 11343, here at p. 114.
8 Ibid., p. 115.
9 Bernd Roeck, Lebenswelt und Kultur des Brgertums in der frhen Neuzeit (Munich,
1991), p. 1.
10 Heinz Schilling, Die Stadt in der frhen Neuzeit (Munich, 1993), p. 9.
11 Pster, The Population of Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany, pp. 49, 51.
12 Ibid., p. 50.
13 Schilling, Die Stadt in der frhen Neuzeit, p. 10.
14 Peter G. Wallace, Communities and Conict in Early Modern Colmar, 15751730
(Boston, 1995), p. 60.
15 See ibid., pp. 6283, for example.
Community, Memory, and Governance 37
German urban life also continued to be linked closely to agriculture and petty
craft production, and 40 per cent of German towns were engaged primarily in
production.
16
Most smaller towns fell within the sphere of inuence of larger towns,
which often controlled the economy, politics, and society of smaller surrounding
towns and villages. In 1446, Nrdlingen, for example, controlled an economic
exclusion zone of 30 km. In 1512, Ulm drew its boundaries at a distance of 20 to 40
km. In 1513, Augsburg extended its radius of market monopoly to some 60 km, and
later added a lower Bavarian enclave.
17
Complicating these general trends and the development of early modern German
settlement was the instability and war during the rst half of the seventeenth century.
In many places the Thirty Years War had remarkable demographic, economic, and
political effects. In the Duchy of Wrttemberg, by 1640, the population had declined
to one quarter of the pre-war level.
18
Augsburg in 1600 had 45,000 inhabitants; by
1635, however, the city was inhabited by only 16,000 people. Between 1632 and
1635, Mainz lost 8,000 people (half of its inhabitants). Such proportional population
losses could be experienced in any size town. The small town of Bietigheim on the
Neckar, near Stuttgart, had 1,800 inhabitants in 1634; in 1635 there was a loss of
600 people;
19
in 1636 and 1637 the loss of another 200 each year, so that by 1638
there were only around 240 people remaining in the town. Although the population
losses could be quite signicant and in some places long lasting, as a rule, urban
populations tended to recover quickly.
The war could have other serious consequences besides population loss,
however. Between 1625 and 1647, the prosperous and densely populated area around
Magdeburg and Halberstadt lost an average of 64 per cent of its dwellings through
direct combat, dilapidation, plundering, and arson.
20
The indebtedness of Nuremberg
rose from 1.8 million Gulden in 1618 to 7.4 million in 1648.
21
Some cities and regions
were, however, more prosperous even in the midst of the chaos of the war. The north
German Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lbeck thrived, partly through
neutrality, diplomacy, trade, and nance. Hamburg grew from between 45,000 and
54,000 inhabitants in 1620 to 75,000 in 1660. Annual revenues in the city grew from
250,000 marks at the end of the sixteenth century to 1.4 million in the middle of the
seventeenth century. Although overall the war did not fundamentally alter social and
economic structures in most places, it did frequently allow for increased loosening
of social bonds and economic and social mobility.
22
16 Scott and Scribner, Urban Networks, p. 116.
17 Rolf Kiessling, Markets and Marketing, Town and Country, in Scribner (ed.),
Germany: A New Social and Economic History, pp. 14579, here at p. 159.
18 Bernhard Stier and Wolfgang von Hippel, War, Economy, and Society, in Ogilvie
(ed.), Germany: A New Social and Economic History, pp. 23362, here at p. 235.
19 Ibid., p. 236.
20 Ibid., p. 240.
21 Ibid., p. 241.
22 Ibid., p. 252.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 38
Jewish Settlement
It has been estimated that at the beginning of the seventeenth century there were
approximately 35,00040,000 J ews spread throughout the German Empire, totaling
roughly 0.2 per cent of the population.
23
About a third of this population resided in
the southeast and another third in the middle west. In addition, about 10 per cent
of the J ewish population was concentrated in the southwest and some signicant
pockets of J ewish settlement were developing in the north and northwest.
As in broader German society, J ewish demographic patterns were similarly
complex and highly changeable. While there were more than a thousand areas
in which J ews settled in the later Middle Ages, from full-blown communities to
outposts of individuals or a hand full of J ews,
24
very few of these settlements would
survive into the modern period.
25
Many J ewish settlements, in fact, disappeared
between the end of the fourteenth and rst half of the sixteenth centuries. Some were
impacted by anti-J ewish legislation or expulsion, others by shifting demographics
within the J ewish or general societies.
26
Still, some J ewish communities managed
to survive or, in some cases, were even reconstituted at various times during the
early modern period.
27
Given the general context we have outlined above, combined
with the often frail existence of the J ewish communities in late medieval and early
modern Germany, however, it should come as no surprise that J ewish settlement and
community development could vary wildly according to region and over time.
28
As they had earlier, throughout the early modern period J ews resided in both
urban and rural areas. Some cities boasted rather large and at times inuential J ewish
communities. Around 1660, for example, some 6,000 J ews resided in Prague. This
number swelled to more than 11,500 by the beginning of the eighteenth century, when
J ews constituted more than a quarter of the total city population. While dramatic,
such population increases were not to be taken for granted or easily accomplished.
Throughout the sixteenth century there were numerous attempts at expelling the
J ews from the city, and several interludes of multi-year banishments from the city.
23 J . Friedrich Battenberg estimates a total population of 1820 million; here and
following, see his Die Juden in Deutschland vom 16. bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts
(Munich, 2001), p. 10.
24 See my Sacred Communities: Jewish and Christian Identities in Fifteenth-Century
Germany (Boston, 2001), pp. 12648, as well as the important work of Michael Toch cited
below.
25 Michael Toch, Siedlungsstruktur der J uden Mitteleuropas im Wandel vom Mittelalter
zur Neuzeit, in Alfred Haverkamp and Franz-J osef Ziwes (eds), Juden in der christlichen
Umwelt whrend des spten Mittelalters (Berlin, 1992), pp. 2939, here at p. 37.
26 Ibid., p. 38 (diagram 7).
27 Michael Toch, Aspects of Stratication of Early Modern German J ewry: Population
History and Village J ews, in R. Po-chia Hsia and Hartmut Lehmann (eds), In and Out of the
Ghetto: Jewish-Gentile Relations in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Cambridge,
1995), pp. 7789, here at p. 79 (gure 5.2).
28 For more specic detail, see my essay J ewish Settlement, Politics, and the
Reformation, in Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the
Reformation in Sixteenth Century Germany (Leiden, 2006), pp. 42150.
Community, Memory, and Governance 39
Not as large, though in some ways equally dramatic, was the Jewish population
growth in the important cities of Frankfurt am Main and Worms. By the beginning of
the seventeenth century there were at least 2,200 Jews in Frankfurt, congregated in a
ghetto that included nearly 200 houses. Worms was home to 300 Jews in the middle
of the sixteenth century and 650 by the early seventeenth century. In both Worms and
Frankfurt am Main Jews constituted more than 10 per cent of the total population. As
in Prague, Jewish settlement could be very tenuous. In both cities menacing social
revolts in the second decade of the seventeenth century had signicant and negative, if
temporary, consequences for the Jews living there. Fulda also maintained a relatively
signicant Jewish presence, with 75 families, or approximately 450 Jews, in 1633.
That number represented nearly a quarter of the total city population.
Some scholars have found a pattern of openness to Jewish settlement in areas that
had never allowed Jews or that had been closed to Jewish settlement for a long time.
In some places, such as Vienna, where the Jews had been expelled already in the early
fteenth century, they were again permitted settlement in the seventeenth century. At
the turn of the seventeenth century there were only 12 Jewish families in Vienna. Within
a little over a decade, however, there were 44 Jewish families. Jews began to develop
communal structures and many became involved in important work as merchants and
court purveyors, leading to certain privileges and exemptions and occasional conict
with non-Jewish neighbors.
A number of towns scattered throughout the Empire possessed between one and
two hundred Jews. Frth, outside Nuremberg, which was really only rst settled by
Jews in the sixteenth century had, by 1582, about 200 Jews. By the last quarter of the
sixteenth century there were nearly a hundred Jews in Berlin, though the fortunes of
that Jewish settlement and others like it hinged on the ebb and ow of various regional
fairs and the development of markets. A new, but rather complicated settlement of
Jews developed in and around Hamburg at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Several communities, some Ashkenazic and some Sephardic developed in Hamburg
and in the neighboring towns, really suburbs that were under different political (even
national jurisdiction) in Wandsbek and Altona. The 116 Portuguese Jews of early
seventeenth-century Hamburg grew to some 600 just after the middle of the century.
Most Jewish settlements remained small and dispersed throughout the early modern
period. This was particularly true in the south and southwest. In mid-sixteenth-century
Palatinate a small number of Jews were spread thinly across nearly 90 different areas,
including only one sizeable city (Heidelberg).
29
The situation was extreme in the
southwest where Jews settled in a wide range of villages, which at times developed
into signicant local and regional Jewish communities by the beginning of the
nineteenth century.
30
Often the dispersed Jewish communities organized themselves
or were organized by regional princely authoritiesinto associations or groupings
(Landjudenschaften). Such associations could be tools for territorial governance and
taxation. As we will see, they also clearly had important impact on internal Jewish
governance and identity.
29 Toch, Aspects of Stratication, p. 82.
30 See Rolf Kiessling, Between Expulsion and Emancipation: J ewish Villages in East
Swabia During the Early Modern Period, Shofar 15:4 (Summer, 1997): 5987.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 40
The Structure and Governance of Early Modern German Jewish Communities
Communities can be variously dened entities that reect many different kinds of
relationships.
31
Early modern German J ewish communities were simultaneously
dened from within and without. They might be formed by adherence to particular
customs, by geographical location, by economic or political expediency, or even by
the dictates of external authorities (local, territorial, or imperial). While the nature
and even function of early modern German J ewish communities could vary widely,
many communities shared similar needs, organizing principles, and governance.
J ewish communities might borrow from the Christian communal organization
surrounding themand in rather provocative, if extremely unusual cases even
share administrative structures with Christian neighbors
32
even as uniquely J ewish
elements were present and specic J ewish needs were addressed. A brief review of
the organization and structure helps to contextualize the role of memory in communal
organization and structure.
J ewish communities in early modern Germany could be organized in various
ways. Often a community was equivalent to a settlement of J ews residing in a
particular city. Increasingly, however, as J ews were dispersed throughout Germany
33
and as rural communities further developed, a community might be dened as a
group of proximate settlements that shared geographical, economic, or even political
afliations.
34
Various Landjudenschaften of differing sizes and administrative
structures evolved, often under the guidance or encouragement of territorial
authorities. These rural J ewish communities had lay and rabbinic leaders, J ewish
courts, and provided social services as well as a network of bureaucracy that dealt
with internal and external affairs.
How one became a member of a community could vary tremendously. In some
places, communal membership began when someone settled in an area, purchased a
31 See my Sacred Communities, pp. 148ff. See more generally J acob Katzs pioneering
Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages, trans. Bernard Dov
Cooperman (New York, 1993 (orig., 1958)), pp. 65ff and Michael A. Meyer (ed.), German-
Jewish History in Modern Times, Volume 1: Tradition and Enlightenment: 16001780 (New
York, 1996), pp. 16580, 194208. For a broad discussion of J ewish community, see the
introductory chapter by Alfred Haverkamp, J dische Gemeinden und ihr christlicher Kontext:
Konzeptionen und Aspekte, in Christoph Cluse, Alfred Haverkamp, and Israel J . Yuval
(eds), Jdische Gemeinden und ihr christlicher Kontext in kulturrumlich vergleichender
Betrachtung von der Sptantike bis zum 18. Jahrhundert (Hannover, 2003), pp. 132.
32 See Rolf Kiessling and Sabine Ullmann, Christlich-jdische Doppelgemeinden
in den Drfern der Markgrafschaft Burgau whrend des 17./18. J ahrhunderts, in Cluse,
Haverkamp, and Yuval (eds), Jdische Gemeinden und ihr christlicher Kontext, pp. 51334.
33 And even detached from the J ewish communitysee Stefan Rohrbacher, Die
jdischen Gemeinden in den Medinot Aschkenas zwischen Sptmittelalter und Dreiig
jhrigem Krieg, in Cluse, Haverkamp, and Yuval (eds), Jdische Gemeinden und ihr
christlicher Kontext, pp. 45163, here at p. 457, citing a comment by Hayyim ben Bezalel.
34 See Katz, Tradition and Crisis, pp. 95112; see also Rohrbacher, Die jdischen
Gemeinden in den Medinot Aschkenas, pp. 45455 and on similar and differing structures
see also pp. 46061.
Community, Memory, and Governance 41
house, or conducted a certain level of business. Communal membership meant tax
obligations and at times communal service duties as well. At times, decisions on
who could be admitted to a community were made by the members of the J ewish
community themselves;
35
at other times, such decisions were dictated by the policies
of the non-J ewish authorities that governed the J ews.
36
The J ewish community was generally viewed by Christians as a corporate or
legal entity. Among J ews the community was also fashioned in legal terms, almost as
a court. But in this regard it functioned as a religious association that also provided
ritual services (including burial and care of the sick) and provisions and familial
networks. J ewish communities in our period desperately sought to maintain autonomy
within a situation in which non-J ewish territorial lords took an ever growing interest
in the affairs of their subjects, and when the legal ruling and customs from other
German lands, or even from across national boundaries (especially from Poland),
were infringing on perceived German customs and rights.
J ewish communities served various religious and social needs. As such they were
governed by specic principles based on traditional halakhic (legal) literature as
well as local customs and ordinances. The actualization of these principles occurred
through the work of individuals in various communal positions and through a host of
communal institutions. Among the employeessome paid and others voluntary
were the rabbi, parnasim, various gabbaim, community scribe, beadle (shammash)
whose duties included summoning people to prayer services
37
and the honorary
position of shtadlan. In theory the J ewish community was something of a democracy
with strict stipulations for voting and ofce holding. Each community indeed had
rules about membership, behavior, and ofce holding. Even among the powerful lay
leaders, individuals often rotated into the main position, the parnas of the month, on
a monthly basis. In some communities a new parnas was chosen by other parnasim.
At times this election required the participation or at least the approval of the
local bishop or city council.
38
Often a festive celebration or mealand frequently
additional payments to the non-J ewish overlordsaccompanied the appointment.
39
Individual communities stipulated the number of parnasim that would serve on the
community council. Each parnas was required to take an oath as to his impartiality.
It is clear that the position of parnas, like that of the shtadlan, evoked status and
recognition but also a good deal of, often nancial, responsibility.
40
35 See Stefan Litt, Protokollbuch und Statuten der Jdischen Gemeinde Friedberg (16.
18. Jahrhundert) (Friedberg, 2003), p. 230 (Hebrew, p. 45) regarding the position of foreign
J ews.
36 See my Sacred Communities, pp. 1746.
37 See Shlomo Eidelberg, R. Juspa, Shammash of Warmaisa (Worms): Jewish Life in
Seventeenth Century Worms (J erusalem, 1991), p. 18.
38 Ibid., p. 20; on elections in Friedberg more generally, see Litt, Protokollbuch,
pp. 3845 (Hebrew, p. 154).
39 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, pp. 2021; Litt, Protokollbuch, p. 424.
40 See the account in the memoirs of Glckel of Hameln.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 42
Many medieval J ewish scholars had expressed the opinion that community rule
was established by majority opinion.
41
Of course there were limitations on such a rule,
especially when halakhic issues or strong local customs were involved. In practice,
many communities were run by a few wealthy or prominent individuals, who formed
something of an early modern J ewish oligarchy.
42
Generally, communal positions
were intended to be held by an individual for only a delimited period, though in
many cases positions evolved into lifelong monopolies of the most inuential.
The rabbi was simultaneously a teacher, instructing yeshivah students in Talmud
and commentaries, as J uspa noted in the minhagim of the community of Worms.
But he was also meant to be the guidestar for religious and legal concerns. He was
expected to deliver various sermons and moral instruction, holding the power to
ne and excommunicate those falling short. In Worms the rabbi was provided with
housing, given certain honors, and exempted from general and property taxes. In
other communities, the rabbi signed a multi-year contract and was paid an annual
salary, generally from community coffers or the purses of wealthy lay leaders. As
J uspa noted, the rabbis jurisdiction extends to the J ewish inhabitants of neighboring
hamlets and The rabbi is obligated to visit periodically all the aforementioned
communities under his jurisdiction.
43
In the early modern period, the position of
the rabbi increasingly weakened in many places. The rabbi was often a subordinate
communal ofcial.
44
As various rabbinic contracts indicate, the rabbi was becoming
more subject to the lay leadership in some ways, though of course individual rabbis
might hold a great deal of power and carry much inuence. As with communal
governance more generally, external rulers often attempted to inuence if not to
outright appoint rabbinic leaders, with an eye toward serving their own purposes.
Throughout our period, there was a palpable and growing tension between lay and
rabbinic leaders in many communities. One important communal area that seemed
to reect this tension was the writ of excommunication (herem)
45
intended to punish
individuals who deviated from communal norms or legislation. While the rabbis
generally had to issue the excommunicationso reserving important powermany
communal constitutions indicated that the rabbi could do so only with the approval,
or even instigation, of the lay community council.
46
Community council members were generally from the wealthy strata of society
and the positions were not salaried. These parnasim initiated communal legislation
and regulated communal governance. Different positions, those of gabbaim, were
41 See the opinion of Yair Hayyim Bacharach, as cited by Katz in Tradition and Crisis,
p. 296, n. 20.
42 See Rohrbacher, Die jdischen Gemeinden in den Medinot Aschkenas, p. 459.
43 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 19; for stipulations related to a rabbinic appointment in
Friedberg in 1572, see Litt, Protokollbuch, pp. 274ff (Hebrew, pp. 74ff).
44 The professionalization theorysee my Sacred Communities, pp. 157, 16970.
45 Inappropriate or deviant behavior might be punished in any number of ways, especially
through banning of synagogue or ritual participation or nessee my forthcoming article
Confessionalization in Early Modern Germany: A J ewish Perspective, in Christopher Ocker
et al. (eds), Festschrift for Thomas A. Brady, Jr. (Leiden, 2007), as well as Litt, Protokollbuch,
pp. 3678 (Hebrew, pp. 1434).
46 See ibid.
Community, Memory, and Governance 43
lled for specic purposes, such as the collection of charity for use among the poor
of the community and for the poor in the Land of Israel. While in many communities
these positions were lled for specic, and limited periods,
47
in some cases they
became lifelong appointments, as J uspa describes in Worms, where he writes New
Gabbaim are not chosen every year; rather the chosen Gabbaim retain their jobs for
life, for they act faithfully.
48
Other communal positions related to the assessment
and collection of taxes, most of which were paid to the non-J ewish authorities.
49
As in the later Middle Ages, ofcials were charged to assess communal members
wealth for tax purposes. In many communities individuals attested to their wealth
by means of an oath. Assessors, however, who doubted the veracity of such claims
could, in many cases, levy an assessment based on what they believed to be the
holdings and value of the individual in question.
50
J ewish communities also appointed individuals with ritual responsibilities, such
as cantors, shohetim (ritual slaughterers), and educators (these might be communal
servants, teaching poorer children, as opposed to the tutors of the wealthier families).
Communities, especially larger ones, at times also employed individuals in other
professions, such as communal physicians. Frankfurt authorities granted the J ewish
community in 1631 the privilege of retaining a communal physician.
51
The J ews of
Posen were similarly permitted to appoint a communal physician (Isaac Bacharach)
in 1631 with a set annual salary of 150 . and a contract for three years with
exemption from all taxes.
52
Serving the J ewish community were various societies or
brotherhoods that often appeared to resemble Christian fraternities or civic guilds.
Most important in many communities was the burial society, the hevra kadisha,
which gained new heights and organization during the course of the sixteenth
century.
53
One of the oldest such brotherhoods developed in Prague in the 1560s.
54
Other associations or welfare societies also developed more fully in the early
modern period. In Frankfurt, Rabbi Akiva Frankfurt established a welfare society
and fund in 1597. In the seventeenth century we nd evidence of these organizations
providing care for the sick,
55
though by the end of the seventeenth or beginning of
the eighteenth century almost every important town in central Europe had a hospital
for the sick and poor.
56
47 See Katz, Tradition and Crisis, pp. 88ff.
48 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 22.
49 See Litt, Protokollbuch, pp. 426ff; on taxes more generally, see Katz, Tradition and
Crisis, pp. 77ff.
50 See Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 23.
51 See J acob Marcus, Communal Sick-care in the German Ghetto (Cincinnati, 1947),
pp. 27ff.
52 Ibid., p. 34.
53 Ibid., p. 63.
54 Ibid., p. 68.
55 Ibid., p. 70.
56 Ibid., p. 86.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 44
In addition to communal positions, various communal institutions were signicant
in this period.
57
Perhaps no edice characterized the J ewish community more than
the synagogue.
58
The construction, or even repair, of the synagogue often required
non-J ewish approval, and was frequently the subject of intense debate in the various
city councils and pulpits. In the early modern period, as before, the synagogue was
simultaneously a place of religious prayer, communal administration, and even
conict. The synagogue and the proper order and behavior within it was often the
subject of various communal edicts and legislation.
59
J ewish communities also had
ritual bathhouses (mikvaot), community ovens, cemeteries, as well as study halls
and dance houses (the latter of which might be located within the connes of the
synagogue itself).
Another form of communal institution, though not in the form of buildings, were
the various records and assemblies (local or regional, occasionally even national)
of the J ewish communities. The J ewish community legislated through various
ordinances, or takkanot, (sometimes in the form of sumptuary laws that dictated
proper dress and behavior) and recorded these laws as well as various transactions
and events in community ledgers (pinkasim). Memorybooks, which recorded
the deaths of community members, often the wealthiest or most inuential, also
recorded various bits of communal lore and legend as well. Customs books similarly
recorded local and regional practices, while codifying various communal practices.
J ewish communities, then, could be dened in many ways, and possessed important
governing structures, ofces, and tools.
Communal Governance and Written Memory
Early modern German J ewish engagement with the past was evident throughout
various types of community discourse. Such discourse included community ledgers
and minutes, which engaged the past to enforce order, empower authority, or record
the traditions of the community. Much the same was true of writing about early
modern customs. The continuation or contestation of particular customs, like the
community ledgers and minutes, helped to create community structure and project
that structure into the future. What is more, the very act of narration, particularly
when it described conict between competing centers of authority, could point to
signicant changes within the community.
57 See also Bell, Confessionalization in Early Modern Germany: A J ewish Perspective.
See more generally Arye Maimon, Mordechai Breuer, and Yacov Guggenheim (eds), Germania
Judaica. Volume III: 13501519, Part 3 (Tbingen, 2003), pp. 2081ff.
58 See Sabine Ullmann, Nachbarschaft und Konkurrenz: Juden und Christen in Drfern
der Markgrafschaft Burgau (Gttingen, 1999), p. 154 for Binswagen.
59 See Litt, Protokollbuch, p. 272 for Friedberg (Hebrew, pp. 734), as well as pp. 394ff
(Hebrew, pp. 161ff).
Community, Memory, and Governance 45
Community Ledgers and Community Memory
Community record books became more standardized and more common in the
early modern period, just as the memorybooks we will examine in Chapter 4 did.
A number of J ewish communities kept ledgers, or pinkasim, in the early modern
period. In the seventeenth century, for example, we possess pinkasim from Posen
(1621), Schnaittach (1665), Metz (1690), Bamberg (1698), and Dsseldorf (1698),
among others.
60
Pinkasim were generally in Hebrew, though frequently sprinkled
with J udeo-Germanic vernacular as well.
61
These documents recorded property
acquisitions and legislated order within the community. According to one recent
scholar, the early modern pinkas created a permanent written account of business
transactions intended both for the contemporary businessmen as well as for later
generations.
62
The documents within the pinkas could refer to individuals and
transactions within the community or throughout a broader region. In the documents
from Worms, which was a regional center of commerce, records of business
transactions were included for the surrounding villages as well as those carried
on with J ews in larger, but distant communities, such as Amsterdam, Prague, and
Vienna.
63
In addition to general business transactions, the pinkas of Worms recorded
the sale of synagogue seats and inventoried possessions and debts. It is perhaps
no coincidence that such documents proliferated in this period, a period that was
marked by increasing bureaucratic organization in the non-J ewish government and
growing regional associations and recordkeeping within the J ewish communities as
well.
In most cases, it was the rabbis or the scribe of the community who wrote the
communal ordinances and pinkasim.
64
The entries within the pinkas could be recorded
for a variety of reasons. According to one entry in the Worms pinkas, for example,
the parnasim took upon themselves to publicly appease all who protested against
or objected to the sale, until the house would be rmly established in the possession
of Leser [a J ew by the name of Leser Walch].
65
The pinkas was, therefore, not only
a record, but a tool of government and an arbiter of power and social and economic
relations. Pinkasim could also contain communal ordinances (takkanot), community
records, minutes, and tax-lists.
66
Forty-ve per cent of the Posen pinkas dealt with
direct legislation concerning elections; 26 per cent economics; 19 per cent support
for Torah education; and 10 per cent trials and laws.
67
60 A. Kober, Documents Selected from the Pinkas of Friedberg, Proceedings of the
American Academy for Jewish Research 17 (194748): 1960, here at p. 20.
61 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 97; Meir Hildesheimer (ed.), Acta Communitatis Judaeorum
Schnaittach. Introductione Natisque Instruxit (J erusalem, 1992), p. 94.
62 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 97.
63 Ibid.
64 Kober, Documents, p. 29.
65 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 102.
66 Kober, Documents, p. 20.
67 Dov Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum Communitatis Judaeorum Posnaniensium (1621
1835) (J erusalem, 1966) [Hebrew], p. xii.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 46
Typical of the language of the pinkasim was that the ordinances were received
and established upon ourselves and upon the generations to come,
68
or that it was
for the memory of generations after us in order that they know .
69
The book
of protocols for the community of Friedberg at the end of the sixteenth century
noted that they were to serve as a memory for the generations after us, so that they
thereby know how to respond in case anyone should place himself above us in order
to ruin our livelihood. As a result we have written in this book of protection, how
the matters of the city arose in general, and specically before the council, may its
splendor be raised, to refer to the old ordinances and decisions, according to which
the J ews should not carry on illegal business with incorrectly measured wares and
should also not sell any spices, salted sh, or other things.
70
At times, the edicts in the pinkas were to be known and stand from this day and
forever,
71
or as in the Bamberg pinkas, for a statute from today on.
72
As the scribe of
one entry in the Friedberg pinkas noted, I wrote this in order to record in this pinkas.
73
As the Posen pinkas related, the document established order,
74
and served as a tool to
recall the writing and seal of those in authority.
75
The language of the Schnaittach
pinkas similarly stressed establishing and guarding laws,
76
the transgression of which
was threatened with a stringent herem (excommunication). The Bamberg pinkas also
stipulated a ne on anyone who transgresses our words .
77
The language of the pinkasim revealed both democratic tendencies and social
tensions within the J ewish communities. The pinkas of Friedberg frequently recounted
that its sections were written according to the will of the kahal.
78
It was heard
before the gabbaim and other ofcials, and enacted with the consent of the majority
of the kahal.
79
The authority of the ruling men of the community was signicant; but
throughout the Friedberg pinkas, the consent and representation of the community
was central, as reected in the phrase elum, parnasim, with individuals from the
kahal and everyone together as one .
80
The Posen pinkas stressed the approval of
the entire kahal or the majority of the kahal,
81
and noted that it was for the honor
of the kahal and for the honor of the kehilla.
82
68 Kober, Documents, p. 37.
69 Ibid., p. 34.
70 Litt, Protokollbuch, from the Hebrew, p. 88 (the German translation of which, p. 292,
is not clear).
71 Ibid., p. 36.
72 David Kaufmann (ed.), Pinkas Kahal Kadosh Bamberg (Berlin, 1895), p. 9.
73 Kober, Documents, p. 52.
74 Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum, p. 2.
75 Ibid., p. 6.
76 Hildesheimer (ed.), Acta Communitatis Judaeorum Schnaittach, p. 158.
77 Kaufmann (ed.), Pinkas Kahal Kadosh Bamberg, p. 2; Kober, Documents, p. 37.
78 Kober, Documents, p. 34.
79 Ibid.
80 Ibid., p. 40.
81 Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum, p. 3.
82 Ibid., p. 20.
Community, Memory, and Governance 47
Two examples from the protocol book of the Portuguese J ewish community of
Hamburg from the middle of the seventeenth century throw into relief the growing
role of communal recordkeeping. According to one passage, communal archives
served to validate the position and privileges of the J ewish communities within
their non-J ewish context: Samuel de Caeseres sent to this community copies of
the privileges, which his majesty of Denmark had issued to Glckstadt. Through
his recommendation the same was reproduced and extended for a further 25 years.
He suggested, therefore, that one would want to send a copy of these privileges to
Holland for perusal. The remaining, including two in gilded book-cover (case), should
remain in the community archive.
83
But such engagement with past privileges and
decisions could be turned inward as well, as when the protocol book noted that:
The board considered it reasonable, in this community book, for the attention of the
ofcers to come next, to present the ordinances [Ascamot] of the community both for
those who should observe them as well as for those who have to keep watch over their
maintenance, often times with great difculties. It recommended that a revision of the
ordinances be made, or be allowed to be made, by experienced people. Therefore, one
must examine which ordinances are necessary for the governance of the community and
service of God and therefore should be strongly maintained, and which proved to be
superuous or whose observance involved difculty, in order to abolish these latter. One
must direct his attention only to such laws that remain in force, which are also actually
respected and are not daily violated by disregard of the board.
84
And yet, while the past seems to have had the last word, it was the summoning up
of that pastand as we saw earlier, its acceptance or rejectionthat gave the past
value and meaning.
Although the various entries in most pinkasim did not necessarily follow in any
chronological order, they did reference previous ordinances, and often enactments
within other parts of the pinkas itself. Throughout, the pinkas noted that everything
was explained in the pinkas of the takkanot of the kahal, and often stated that
something was explained in the previous takkanah [ordinance].
85
The Posen
pinkas related that [we] established all our writings according to the explanation
in the pinkas kahal, fashioning the pinkas as a legal record of the community.
86
In
the Bamberg pinkas, frequent reference was made to other parts of the pinkas and to
sections of the old pinkas.
87
Throughout the Posen pinkas, distinction was made
between this pinkas and the old pinkas.
88
But in the Posen pinkas there was an
83 Isaac Cassuto, Aus den ltesten Protokollbuch der Portugiesisch-J dischen
Gemeinde in Hamburg: bersetzung und Anmerkungen, in Jahrbuch der Jdisch-
Literarischen Gesellschaft 6 (1908): 154; 7 (1909): 159210; 8 (1910): 22790; 9 (1911):
31866; 10 (1912): 22595; 11 (1916): 176; 12 (1920): 55118, here at vol. 10, p. 274 (18th
of Tammuz).
84 Ibid., vol. 11, p. 73.
85 Kober, Documents, p. 41.
86 Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum, p. 11.
87 Kaufmann (ed.), Pinkas Kahal Kadosh Bamberg, p. 8.
88 Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum: this pinkas (pp. 23, 24, 53, 54); old pinkas (p. 31);
new pinkas (p. 64); and old takkanot (p. 65).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 48
important historical differentiation. The language employed by the Posen scribe
was one that distinguished between ordinances accustomed until this day
89
and
ordinances that are ordained from new.
90
At the same time, legislation from the
distant past was also distinguished.
91
The actual date of the enactment or record at
times contributed to its authority. The current time was seen, in the Posen pinkas, as
one of galut, exile, and the decrees were to last for our kehilla and our sons after us
until the end of all the generations.
Explicit reference was at times made to current or recent eventsas in the
Thirty Years War mentioned in the Posen pinkas.
92
Special takkanot were issued
particularly at difcult times, in the hour of trouble.
93
The Posen pinkas noted that
now we make new the takkanah for the sake of the time and for what is therefore
the need of the hour .
94
Similarly, in excerpts from the minutes of Frankfurt am
Main referencing the synod of 1542, the following statement was quite telling:
That which has been, is that which shall be! See, is this new? It has been already of old
times! Behold, all the wise of former generations were induced to perceive [the matter].
They resolved, declared and decreed that no rabbi or [talmudic] instructor, collectively or
individually, shall oblige anyone to appear before an alien tribunal other than their own
[under the threat] of a ban of excommunication.
95
Appealing to previous legislation, the members of the synod attempted to deal with
an apparently increasing early modern trend of J ews taking their legal cases outside
of their region, perhaps hoping for more favorable conditions or outcomes. Regional
J ewish communal authorities as well as non-J ewish territorial rulers and courts,
however, attempted to reinforce local authority and better control the governance of
the various communities.
Customs Books and Community Memory: Juspa Hahns Sefer Yosef Ometz
A great deal can be gleaned about internal hierarchies and struggles for authority
in another type of communal writing, customs books. The early modern period
witnessed the collection and publication of a number of important customs books.
In Sefer Yosef Ometz, J oseph J uspa Hahn of Nrdlingen (15701637), a leading
member of the J ewish community in Frankfurt am Main, who served as head of
the bet din and yeshivah and as communal rabbi during a key, and particularly
tumultuous time,
96
provided an important collection of laws and customs related
to a variety of J ewish practices and holidays. J uspa completed Yosef Ometz around
89 Ibid., p. 55.
90 Ibid., p. 31.
91 Ibid., p. 15.
92 Ibid., p. 38.
93 Kober, Documents, p. 38.
94 Avron (ed.), Acta Electorum, p. 42.
95 Zimmer, Jewish Synods, p. 141.
96 See Markus Horovitz, Frankfurter Rabbinen (J erusalem, 1969).
Community, Memory, and Governance 49
1630,
97
with many handwritten versions circulating in the family; but the text was
not ofcially published until 1723 (in Frankfurt).
98
Sefer Yosef Ometz, it could be argued, had relatively little new to say. It was
largely a collection of laws and customs sifted from a variety of well-known and
circulating sources. But to the group of frequently cited materials, J uspa added a
number of lesser-known works, the customs of his own city of Frankfurt, and the
actions of his father, teachers, and personalities of his age, particularly the leading
scholars of Frankfurt. In addition to the legal portion, the emphasis on proper pious
behavior, drawn from a variety of texts in the kabbalistic and musar traditions, gave
the work an important quality that placed it squarely within its seventeenth-century
milieu.
Drawing from a broad range of sources, J uspa included scattered references
throughout the work to the specic customs of his own Frankfurt community and
the historical conditions in which he and his co-religionists lived. In his introduction,
J uspa offered a number of reasons for compiling his work, including the memory of
his father, Rabbi Pinchas Seligman of Nrdlingen, who was a leader in synagogue
prayers and a hasid in Frankfurt, and for whom every action was for the sake of
Heaven, and whose teaching and observance of commandments was very exacting.
99
J uspa also wrote of his early years and the inuence of active men in convincing
him to write.
100
J uspa presented as well, a number of deeper meanings that explained
the title of his work, Yosef Ometz. He wrote that the numerical value (gematria) of
Yosef Ometz was equivalent to that of Pinchas, his father, at 297. Of course, Yosef
hinted at his own name, and Ometz stood for the abbreviation aleph mem tsadi, or
avi mori tsadik, my father my teacher, the righteous.
101
The title also bore directly
on the content and primary goal of the work as wellto increase encouragement
and strength.
102
Yosef Ometz was divided into three parts.
103
The rst, and most extensive, part
examined laws, obligations, and customs regarding the daily and annual cycle and
was termed the Gate of the Exalted.
104
Section two focused on education, raising
children, trust, charity and kindness to the poor, the funeral and laws of the mourner,
and welcoming the bride. Juspa denoted this section as the Earthly Gate.
105
According
to J uspa, part three had two components that did not follow any particular order.
One examined positive and negative commandments, the other good characteristics
97 Hava Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, J dische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main
im 16. und 17. J ahrhundert: Yuzpa Hahn und sein Yosif omez, in Karl E. Grzinger (ed.),
Jdische Kultur in Frankfurt am Main von den Anfngen bis zur Gegenwart (Wiesbaden,
1997), pp. 10121, here at p. 106.
98 Ibid., p. 107.
99 J oseph J uspa Hahn of Nrdlingen, Yosef Ometz (J erusalem, 1965), p. ix.
100 Ibid., p. x.
101 Ibid., p. xv.
102 See ibid., pp. 205 and 78, in addition to his Introduction.
103 Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, Jdische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main, p. 107.
104 See Hahn, Yosef Ometz, p. xiii.
105 Ibid.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 50
(middot).
106
Part three was rounded out with a review of the mitzvot generally, sexual
relations, idol worship, the submersion of vessels, orlah, pidyon ha-ben, precedence
to the elderly and to fathers and mothers, laws of magic, vows, washing, suspension
of speech, middot, and the reading of Shema for small children.
The most frequently cited sources and authorities were the Shulhan Arukh and
commentaries of and introductions to it; the Tur; the writings of Maharil; the works
of Isaac Luria, frequently his Sefer ha-Kavannot, and those of his school;
107
Reishis
Hokhma; Sefer Hasidim and Sefer Haredim; Moses Mats
108
Matteh Moshe; Seder
ha-Yom; Zohar; the work of Solomon Luria (Maharshal, c.151074); and Emek
Bracha.
109
Less frequent, but important, references were also made to a number of
kabbalists and kabbalistic works and central German rabbinic authorities of the later
Middle Ages.
110
Frequently, J uspa attested to the binding authority of the Shulhan Arukh, though
at times he chose to follow the German rabbis. For example, when he contrasted
the opinions of J acob Weil and the Shulhan Arukh, he wrote that one conducts in
their lands differently, but we follow according to the renowned fteenth-century
scholar Rabbi J acob Weil, who was a German .
111
J uspa, like his Ashkenazic co-
religionists, held closely to the binding power of minhag, noting that one must hold
to old customs, even when the basis for them was no longer known.
112
Yet, although
he cited Ashkenazic customs frequently, he did not automatically follow the father
of Ashkenazic minhag, the Maharil.
113
Although J uspa referred frequently to the sages, he did not frequently
reference Talmudic sources directly. He was more likely to reference contemporary
sources as well as his father, his teacher Hirtz Treves of Frankfurt, and a host of
other personalities of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: Avraham Shaftel;
Hayyim Katz of Prague; Levi Micha; Meir ha-Levy; Yakov Lieberman; Rabbi Segal;
106 Ibid.
107 Including Rabbi Yona of Safed, a student of Arisee Fraenkel-Goldschmidt,
J dische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main, p. 109.
108 Moses Mat (c.1551c.1606) was born in Przemysl. His work, a compendium of
J ewish ritual law, was completed in 1584 and printed in Cracow around 1590. In addition to
other things he also wrote Taryag Mitzvot (Cracow, 1581) and Minhagei Maharshal, which
describes the customs and conduct of his teacher, Luria. See Encyclopedia Judaica.
109 Regarding Emek Bracha, written by Rabbi Abraham b. Shabbetai Sheftel haLevy
Hurwitz (Cracow, 1597?)see Bernhard Friedberg, Bet eked sefarim (Antwerp, 192831),
p. 486, no. 473. For details regarding Hurwitz, see Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature,
vol. 6, pp. 5057. Zinberg traces Hurwitzs life from his early free-thinking at Prague,
when he was an ardent supporter of Maimonidean rationalism, to his later moral and penitent
mystical asceticism, when he consciously refuted his earlier views. It is to this later period that
we can trace his work Emek Bracha and his Yesh Nohalim (p. 56).
110 For example, Maharam, Maharik, J acob Weil, Moses Mintz, the Mordechai, Terumas
ha-Deshen; Cordovero, Derekh Hayyim, Shaarei Teshuva. Passing references were made to
a great many more authors and sources.
111 Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, J dische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main,
pp. 10910.
112 Ibid., p. 111.
113 Ibid., p. 110.
Community, Memory, and Governance 51
Daniel Landshut; J acob Schweinfurt; Slumiel of Prossnitz, Moses Menachem, and
so on.
114
According to most interpretations, although he cited kabbalistic works frequently,
J uspa was no kabbalist. In fact, it is generally argued that he was ambivalent about
kabbalah and he had nothing to do with many kabbalistic customs and practices.
115
J uspa, however, was certainly taken with the works produced by Isaac Luria and
the Lurianic school, as well as the more ethically-informed work of the Hasidei
Ashkenaz, though in each case for the pietistic elements in these works.
Throughout Sefer Yosef Ometz, J uspa distinguished time in the past
116
and his
own time.
117
Often he offered specic dates, especially for community ordinances
and events. He noted a custom established in 1589;
118
an ordinance drawn up in
1600
119
and a prohibition in 1619;
120
a brit milah in 1626 that afforded a halakhic
discussion about the celebratory meal;
121
the expulsion of 1614;
122
the pestilence of
1627;
123
the date of the death of a great scholar who died in Frankfurt in 1505.
124
In
fact, the lives of scholars were sometimes taken as measures of the past, as when
he noted that and at the time that gaon our teacher and our rabbi Rabbi Hayyim
of Prague was the av bet din [head of the rabbinic court] here.
125
J uspa referred
more generally to the time of the expulsion when he mentioned customs in place
at the time,
126
and, referring perhaps to the salvation after the expulsion, he noted
manifest miracles that occurred in our times.
127
Within the same section, J uspa
capitalized on a moralizing opportunity, writing that trust was the great root of our
faith, especially in the midst of great suffering of man, which I saw around the time
of the expulsion from our city .
128
114 See also ibid., pp. 113ff for other small works.
115 Ibid., pp. 1078.
116 See Hahn, Yosef Ometz, pp. 2, 136, 49, 134, 164. See Volker Press, Kaiser
Rudolf II. und der Zusammenschlu der deutschen J udenheit: Die sogenannte Frankfurter
Rabbinerverschwrung von 1603 und ihre Folgen, in Alfred Haverkamp (ed.), Zur Geschichte
der Juden im Deutschland des Spten Mittelalters und der Frhen Neuzeit (Stuttgart, 1981),
pp. 24393.
117 Ibid., pp. 37, 24.
118 Ibid., p. 223.
119 Ibid., pp. 3467.
120 Ibid., p. 163.
121 Ibid., p. 212.
122 Ibid., pp. 21112.
123 Ibid., p. 106.
124 Ibid., p. 215.
125 Ibid., p. 161.
126 Ibid., pp. 149, 238, 298.
127 Ibid., p. 292.
128 Ibid., p. 298.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 52
Throughout the text, J uspa referred to previous and future sections. The expressions
recalled above
129
and mentioned before,
130
ring throughout the text, marking the
creation of the work as self-referential and as something of an unfolding process.
131
At times, J uspa remarked simply that I wrote rather generally.
132
Curiously, the
mentioned above notes occurred at times only a few sections awayin section
1104, for example he noted that he had already written this above in sections 1099
and 1100!
133
In other cases, as in a discussion of Purim, he noted that he would
address the same issue some 80 pages later.
134
At times, he wrote that the same issue
was or would be taken up in a different part of the work.
135
Frequently, J uspa wrote that he had discovered something different or additional
after I wrote. There were different modes of discovery that J uspa outlined in
this context. The most common was that of nding, for example, after I wrote
I found a discussion or ruling in a particular book. In a few other instances, the
language is followed by the statement that I remembered the actions or words
of a particular scholar
136
or that I saw a particular custom or action.
137
Indeed,
when citing his sources, J uspa utilized a diverse vocabulary of action words, which
included read,
138
received,
139
and remembered,
140
but which focused on the
actions of nding,
141
hearing,
142
and seeing.
143
In a sense, each of these terms
was related to the others, and all, therefore, formed key elements in J uspas scholarly
method. Yet, each represented a rather different form of knowledge. A consideration
of the differences allows us to peek into the mental structure of J uspa and so into his
use of memory in the creation of authority and identity.
The verb for nding as used by J uspa referred generally to written texts,
whether published and common works or manuscripts.
144
The action here, as posited
129 See, for example, ibid., pp. 25, 26, 41, 47, 51, 61, 62, 84, 89, 122, 123, 142, 153, 156,
164, 169, 170, 171, 176, 181, 182, 188, 200, 207, 208, 211, 213, 214, 220, 239, 240, 241, 267,
284, 327, 330, 332, etc.
130 For example, ibid., pp. 40, 41.
131 He referred to the writing of his book in a few places. See, for example, the
introduction, ibid., pp. 78 (371), 205 (section 924). On p. 40 he wrote to his dear students
regarding everything that I have written in this, my book.
132 See ibid., pp. 34, 67, 81, 86, 94, 219, 233, 271, 280, 353, 356 .
133 Similarly, in section 1086, he detailed what he wrote in section 1081 (ibid., p. 238).
134 See ibid., p. 156.
135 Ibid., pp. 288, 117.
136 Ibid., p. 274.
137 Ibid., p. 40.
138 Ibid., p. 267.
139 Ibid., pp. 216, 288.
140 Ibid., pp. 110, 140, 146.
141 For example, ibid., pp. 14, 44, 114, 144, 152, 156, 160, 176, 183, 184, 192, 202,
261, 261.
142 Ibid., pp. 28, 30, 68, 73, 99, 112, 117, 151, 191, 261.
143 Ibid., pp. 28, 52, 64, 108, 122, 140, 141, 149, 176, 184, 185, 191, 193, 196, 207, 214,
218, 228, 241, 260, 264, 269, 270, 272, 273, 290.
144 Ibid., p. 192.
Community, Memory, and Governance 53
directly in one instance, was that of reading.
145
The body of knowledge gleaned
from nding had the feel of general applicability and acceptability. The language
for hearing, was as one might expect, less determinative. Its value was in part
based on its source, and it appears to have had a general role in a larger process of
determining proper behavior.
146
There were generally two sources invoked here: the
distant, such as reports of customs in Poland,
147
in the name of a distant scholar
148
or simply from others
149
or from before;
150
on the other hand, were the reports
J uspa heard directly from his teacher
151
or the elders.
152
It was, again, the direct
transmission of proper behavior, passed down through custom that seemed most
central and binding.
Finally, the language of seeing focused on J uspas own experiences
generally;
153
actions that he saw and remembered later
154
or actions that he saw his
father and other men of action
155
or his teacher
156
perform. The term also referred
to general practices he had observed or heard
157
or to the written text as well.
158
Although this form of experience seems to have had greater validity even than the
second, that is, hearing, J uspa felt concerned to note the truth of his observations
in some cases beyond his own words or recollections.
159
We saw earlier that J uspas use of a number of individual types had meaning for
his engagement with the past and can be divided as follows: self, father, teacher, pious
person, sages. Throughout, the text was very much centered on J uspa, both in terms
of what he had discovered, seen, or heard but also as regards his individual actions.
A very common concern was the actions to which J uspa was himself accustomed
160
or the observance of which he was particularly stringent.
161
The relation between
action and writing took on an important dimension when J uspa noted that, I am
accustomed to do everything I write.
162
In addition to mentioning the Sefer Hasidim and the Sefer Haredim throughout
the work, J uspa also focused on the actions and teachings of the individual hasid
163
145 See ibid., p. 267.
146 Ibid., p. 191.
147 Ibid., pp. 112, 151.
148 Ibid., p. 261.
149 Ibid., p. 68.
150 Ibid., p. 73.
151 Ibid., pp. 99, 191.
152 Ibid., p. 117.
153 Ibid., pp. 196, 241, 260.
154 Ibid., pp. 108, 140, 193.
155 Ibid., pp. 122, 176, 184, 185, 207, 269, 290.
156 Ibid., pp. 28, 52, 270.
157 Ibid., pp. 228, 264.
158 Ibid., pp. 214, 272.
159 See, for example, ibid., p. 101.
160 Ibid., pp. 28, 97, 113, 127, 150, 158, 159, 168.
161 Ibid., p.19.
162 Ibid., p. 68.
163 Ibid., pp. 9, 69, 86, 100, 295.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 54
or on pious individuals
164
more generally. This type had similarities with those he
labeled men of action.
165
The term kabbalists also had much the same valence
in the text
166
focusing, however, primarily on the words and teachings of the
kabbalists, rather than their actions. Here as elsewhere, J uspa folded the language of
action and that of writing and teaching. At times, he distinguished between the hasid
of his own day and the early hasidim.
167
The sages also represented a typology for J uspa. He referred to them frequently,
though typically in groups. By and large the sages were reective of the rabbis of
the Talmud, and various verbal language described their actions: said, interpreted,
explained, wrote, debated, ordained, opposed. The rulings of the sages generally
took on a past time, even when their rulings had contemporaneous applicability. In
a few cases, J uspa used the term sage or wise one of our city,
168
marking the term
with a distinctively local or contemporary meaning.
J uspa made frequent reference to his teacher, Rabbi Hirtz Treves of Frankfurt,
169
and the local and contemporary scholar Rabbi Yishaya Segal
170
mara datra [master
of the place] in Frankfurt who traveled to J erusalem,
171
and who served as the head of
the bet din in Frankfurt.
172
From the text, we know that Hirtz Treves was a kabbalist.
173
J uspa referred to his teacher frequently and rather formulaically, noting the customs
and rulings he received from him.
174
We learn about different aspects of Hirtz in
many of the passages. However, what is clear is that J uspa saw him as his primary
teacher, aside from his father, and that it was important for J uspa to anchor him in an
identiable position as head of the bet din here in Frankfurt. Rabbi Yishaya Segal
was referenced in much the same way; focusing on his connection to Frankfurt as
head of the bet din, on the ordinances he established in and for Frankfurt, and on his
rulings and customs that J uspa himself followed.
175
A particularly special place was made for J uspas father, who appeared frequently
in the text,
176
even though J uspa mentioned his fathers namePinhas Seligmanin
164 Hasidim ibid., pp. 32, 67, 89, 120, 137; or haredim [God-fearing]pp. 41,
61, 142.
165 Ibid., pp. 28, 44, 137, 198.
166 Ibid., pp. 64, 67, 137, 197, 209, 340.
167 Ibid., p. 32.
168 Ibid., pp. 176, 191.
169 Ibid., pp. 9, 28, 29, 37, 52, 61, 99, 111, 123, 155, 191, 216, 270, 353. See Eric Zimmer,
The Fiery Embers of the Scholars: The Trials and Tribulations of German Rabbis in the
Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Beer Sheva, 1999) [Hebrew], and Marcus Horovitz,
Die Frankfurter Rabbinerversammlung von Jahre 1603 (Frankfurt am Main, 1897).
170 Hahn, Yosef Ometz, p. 9.
171 Ibid., p. 100.
172 Ibid., pp. 187, 162. Yishaipp. 31, 41, 66, 97, 100, 187, 162, 204.
173 Ibid., pp. 9, 123.
174 Ibid., pp. 29, 37, 99, 111.
175 Ibid., pp. 31, 66, 97.
176 Ibid., pp. 35, 40, 52, 53, 54, 64, 94, 122, 147, 163, 171, 176, 179, 181, 207, 215, 221,
233, 236, 269.
Community, Memory, and Governance 55
only a few places.
177
J uspa referred to his father as the hasid
178
and his teacher.
179
It is clear that his father wroteJ uspa noted that his father wrote regarding the
minhag that was established with a brit milah on Yom Kippur in Frankfurt in 5349
(1589)
180
and that J uspa held him to be part of a chain of scholarly tradition.
181
The
customs and observances of J uspas father were central for J uspa himself.
182
The
study patterns of his father were at times revealed in passing. J uspa, for example,
noted that he saw his father learn the commentary of Isaac ben J acob Alfasi (Rif,
10131103) with his students.
183
Often his fathers authority was simply accepted,
and in other, less frequent cases, his observance was justied via comparison with
the action of other important types,
184
or central works, such as the Shulhan Arukh,
185
thus completing the important relationship between action, teaching, and printed
word so common in the book.
A common phrase that expressed J uspas use of the texts he culled, was
according to its [the texts] language
186
or in summary.
187
When he did cite a text
directly, J uspa seemed generally to be very close to the actual language of the text;
but he frequently added after the quotation from related sources or the same text in
different, but corresponding passages.
For J uspa the transmission of religious observance and authority was passed
on through memory. But various levels of signicance could be attributed to local,
regional, and German customs. The text referred to Ashkenaz,
188
described as
our land
189
or our region
190
and contrasted it with Poland.
191
J uspa mentioned
customs of Ashkenaz;
192
sages of Ashkenaz;
193
and the language of Ashkenaz(im).
194
There were scattered references to important communities such as Prague
195
177 Ibid., pp. 153, 216, referring to Isaac Norlingen?
178 Ibid., pp. 135, 153, 163, for example.
179 Ibid., pp. 147, 153, 163.
180 Ibid., p. 223.
181 Ibid., p. 215, for example, when his father cited previous Frankfurt sages from the
early sixteenth century, or when he was included in a long list of scholars (p. 221).
182 Ibid., pp. 54, 64, 94, 135, 147, 179, or by negation, p. 140.
183 Ibid., p. 269.
184 and I saw that my father, my teacher, the hasid [pious one] of blessed memory and
other men of action were accustomed [to act thus], and I myself am accustomed so (ibid., p.
28); according to the minhag of my father, my teacher, the hasid of blessed memory and
many poskim and also the kabbalist our teacher and our rabbi of blessed memory (p. 52).
185 Ibid., p. 52; or according to the Tur, p. 213.
186 Ibid., pp. 26, 58, 63, 70, 78, 85, 103, 136, 144, 152, 154, 196, 271, 274, 276, 296,
304, 309.
187 Ibid., pp. 110, 202, 261, 265, 266.
188 Ibid., pp. 8, 12, 15.
189 Ibid., p. 187.
190 Ibid., p. 25.
191 Ibid., p. 12; for Poland, see also p. 51.
192 Ibid., p. 136.
193 Ibid., pp. 3467.
194 Ibid., pp. 12, 61, 68, 73, 116, 160, 168.
195 Ibid., p. 40.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 56
and Amsterdam
196
and more substantial references to the two largest German
communities
197
of Worms
198
and Frankfurt.
199
References to Worms emphasized
key rabbinic personalities of the city
200
and customs.
201
While similar emphases on
personalities and customs permeated references to Frankfurt, that city had a very
different spatial identity, referred to as here
202
or our city.
203
When J uspa discussed customs, he included a diverse group: prior customs;
204
general customs;
205
customs of particular communities,
206
especially those of
Frankfurt.
207
J uspa also mentioned customs of individual scholars,
208
especially his
father.
209
As discussed earlier, many of the customs and personal observances of J uspa
himself were stressed.
210
The past as related in the customs of particular scholars
or communities could be a very powerful force. The acceptance, consideration, or
rejection of particular customs or authority could indicate changes in communal
authority, external pressures or different means of identifying community. We will
now look at some specic examples to see how engaging the past in this regard could
be important for early modern German J ews.
Narrating Customs and Politics
Before we examine a few examples of the intersection of customs, narratives of
the past, and internal social structure, it is necessary to provide some context for
the history of the J ews in Frankfurt. Throughout the sixteenth century numerous
ordinances restricted the business in which J ews could be involved. Early in the
sixteenth century, foreign J ews were prohibited from conducting business in
Frankfurt (though in some important ways such restrictions had to be remodeled in
light of the growth of the Frankfurt fairs). In 1611, for example, J ews were prohibited
from involvement with business in new clothes
211
and the Schnrmacherordnung of
1591 and 1614 strengthened prohibitions against guild members teaching J ews their
196 Ibid., p. 14.
197 In Ashkenaz and especially in the community of Frankfurt and the community of
Worms it was established and received [as] good and beautiful (ibid., p. 2).
198 Ibid., pp. 2, 13, 48, 58, 126, 213.
199 Ibid., pp. 2, 15, 97, 101, 121.
200 Ibid., p. 48.
201 Spinholtz, in ibid., p. 126; customs for mourners, p. 331.
202 Ibid., pp. 46, 66, 98, 183.
203 Ibid., p. 220; sages of our city, pp. 176, 191.
204 Ibid., p. 2.
205 Ibid., p. 136.
206 Ibid., p. 2; regarding Regensburg, p. 12.
207 See, for example, ibid., pp. 146, 155, 186, 187, 189, 212, 238.
208 Ibid., pp. 10, 28, 53, 97, for example.
209 Ibid., 94, 135, 142.
210 See, for example, ibid., pp. 105, 150, 159, 168, 212.
211 Isidor Kracauer, Geschichte der Juden in Frankfurt am Main (11501824), 2 vols
(Frankfurt am Main, 192527), p. 315.
Community, Memory, and Governance 57
handiwork on pain of expulsion.
212
Numerous attempts at expulsion and accusations
of J ewish criminal activity could be found in the early modern period, and at times,
as in counterfeiting, the accusations were not entirely unfounded.
213
In 1606, an
imperial commission did, indeed nd a number of J ewish transgressions.
214
In Sefer
Yosef Ometz, J uspa discussed the commission and noted that:
The hands were exhausted, and all hearts melted, the loins broken. It was in truth a
great emergency that suddenly, like water, broke over J acob. [There was] no possibility
that some relief and salvation would come, for the Commission that the Emperor had
established pressured us regarding the conduct of the boaster, and especially the one of
them that stood completely under the inuence of this man, he had an ear to the ruler and
closed the doors from us.
215
In many signicant and instructive ways, the history of the J ews in Frankfurt
mirrored the general developments of that city. From humble origins in the later
Middle Ages, the community of Frankfurt would blossom into one of the largest
and most important in the German Empire. The economic development of the
city expanded dramatically between the middle of the fteenth and middle of the
seventeenth centuries. In the early fourteenth century, the city was the focus of a
regional economy centered on the lower Rhine, with two annual fairs. These fairs
eventually gained European prominence, but had no impact on the general European
economy until the late sixteenth century, when the economy was further invigorated
by the immigration of Protestant refugees from the Spanish Netherlands. Like many
other cities, a depression of a sort ensued during the Thirty Years War; but, as in
many other cities, the full effects of this depression hit in the late 1620s and early
1630s, giving way in subsequent decades to a revitalization. This is well reected in
the general population, which increased by 28 per cent between 1440 and 1550 and
76 per cent between 1550 and 1620, reaching 20,200. Again, the faltering of the late
1620s and early 1630s was reected in a 16 per cent decline by 1655 (17,000).
216
Reports and legends about J ews residing in Frankfurt date back to the eleventh
century. Episodic violence and expulsion characterized the medieval Frankfurt
J ewish community. Riots in 1241, for example, resulted in the destruction of J ewish
property and the massacre of more than three-quarters of the 200 J ewish inhabitants.
Intervening advances of the community were nullied by the pogroms associated
with the Black Death in 1349, even if by 1360 J ews were allowed to return to the
city. In 1434/35, the J ewish community of Frankfurt paid an imperial tax of 600
Gulden, marking it as only the tenth highest contributing community, behind the
212 Ibid., p. 322.
213 Ibid., pp. 3245.
214 Ibid., pp. 332, 340ff.
215 Hahn, Yosef Ometz, p. 170; cited in Kracauer, Geschichte der Juden in Frankfurt am
Main (11501824), p. 344, n. 1.
216 Gerald Lyman Soliday, A Community in Conict: Frankfurt Society in the Seventeenth
and Early Eighteenth Centuries (Hanover, NH, 1974), pp. 1f.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 58
large communities of Nuremberg, Mainz, Regensburg, and Augsburg; but also behind
such middling communities as Oppenheim, Halle, Zurich, and Schweinfurt.
217
In 1462, a street constructed for the special purpose of holding the J ews of
the city within conned quarters (Judengasse) was completed. Despite the closed
quarters, J ewish life seems to have thrived. There were 110 registered inhabitants
of the ghetto in 1463, 250 in 1520, 900 in 1569, 1,200 in 1580, 2,200 in 1600,
and about 3,000 in 1610. In 1462, J ews constituted roughly 1 per cent of the total
population. By 1610, the nearly 3,000 J ews accounted for 11 per cent of the citys
burgeoning populationa total number unlike any other in Germany at the time
(outside Prague). In 1462, with the founding of the J ewish ghetto, there were six
J ewish houses; by 1610 there were 195.
218
The J ewish population increases are also evident when one traces the number
of J ewish taxpaying households: 22 in 1473; 43 in 1543; and 453 in 1613.
219
As
Frankfurt became a growing center of trade, German J ews forged strong connections
to the city. By the end of the seventeenth century, there were four synagogues, a
cemetery, bathhouse, rabbis house, dance and wedding hall.
220
By the end of the
sixteenth century the community was at its apex and its rabbis and courts were
recognized throughout Germany, with rabbinical synods held there in 1562, 1582,
and, most importantly, in 1603.
Frankfurt developed as a central, if not the most important J ewish community in
Germany. The synod of 1603 was described as the last attempt of a powerful rabbinate
to express, if ultimately not to enforce,
221
its views. Among the issues taken up at the
synod were the separation of J ews from Gentiles, the establishment of central courts,
the collection of taxes and the territorial organization of the General Community
or General Organization, and the ordination and authority of rabbis.
222
At the same time that the fair and trade, particularly in textiles,
223
became central
in the development of Frankfurt J ewry, the J ews established important familial
networks and increasing supra-regional business and credit relations with the land
surrounding the city.
224
The nancial work and contributions of the J ews allowed them
to maintain important privileges and continuity of settlement during the sixteenth
century. The community, though expelled for a time, was even able to rebound after
the storming, plundering and rioting of the followers of Vincent Fettmilch in 1614.
The J ews returned triumphantly in 1616 even as Fettmilch and his key henchmen
were being executed.
217 Toch, Siedlungsstruktur der J uden Mitteleuropas im Wandel vom Mittelalter zur
Neuzeit, p. 30.
218 Ibid., p. 39.
219 Ibid., p. 25; see also p. 40.
220 Soliday, A Community in Conict, pp. 34.
221 Louis Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages (New York, 1924),
pp. 8081.
222 See ibid., pp. 7881; 25764. See also Zimmer, The Fiery Embers of the Scholars and
Horovitz, Die Frankfurter Rabbinerversammlung von Jahre 1603.
223 Toch, Siedlungsstruktur der J uden Mitteleuropas im Wandel vom Mittelalter zur
Neuzeit, p. 37.
224 Ibid., pp. 356.
Community, Memory, and Governance 59
Yosef Ometz is replete with references to the expulsion of the J ews from Frankfurt
in 1614, during the Fettmilch uprising, as well as other difculties that J ews living
in the city faced. In one place, J uspa noted that if a J ew walks through the gentile
streets, they cry after him dog or other insulting epithets and throw dirt and stones
at him.
225
Other repressive measures affected J ewish life and ritual as well. During
one year, the gate leading to the river was closed to the J ews and guarded by soldiers,
forcing the J ews to perform tashlikh (casting away sins at Rosh ha-Shannah) at the
rampart of the city where through a narrow ditch the waste water owed. J uspa
expressed hope that the ancient custom would be restored.
226
Regarding the events of 1614 J uspa wrote:
27 in Elul we established here a fast on the community [tsibur] with all its particulars
because here on that day in the year 1614 we were expelled from our community by the
people of the city who conspired against us, who were rebels and stood to destroy us,
God forbid, or expel us; and they decided to expel us. We were expelled from our city
and also our money, which remained after the stolen goods that were stolen from us at
night, and we were not able to hide it from outside the wall of the street And the rebels,
mentioned before, burned our streets and however many holy writings they found in our
houses and in the synagogue, they also mishandled these sifrei Torah on account of our
sins Regarding all these matters, the day mentioned above was established a fast, and
prayers and selihoton that day many troubles overtook and if the day mentioned
above falls on the eve of Shabbat, the fast is not completed; and if it falls on Shabbat the
fast is made earlier, on the eve of Shabbat.
227
The passage described the expulsion, particularly the fomentation against the Jews and
the robbery and destruction perpetrated. It also placed the events squarely in communal
memory by establishing a memorial through the fast on the community. This is a very
good example of the ritualized memorial Yerushalmi and others have noted when
examining the historical thinking of pre-modern Jews (see above, Chapter 1).
The Fettmilch uprising wreaked tremendous havoc on the Jewish community of
Frankfurt. According to Juspa, they burned in our streets countless holy writings,
which they found in our houses [and] in the synagogue .
228
During the uprising,
262 Jews were killed and Jewish possessions valued at 175,919 Gulden were lost to
plundering. The challenges, however, were more than external. The community had,
for some time, been torn by internal divisions and increasing enmity. According to the
historian Isidore Kracauer, internal ferment in the Jewish quarter, the desire for a new
community constitution, and the political awakening of the ghetto inhabitants were a
direct consequence of the Fettmilch uprising.
229
The heavily oligarchic Jewish government was already the target of constitutional
upheaval at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when a weak rebellion erupted
225 Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature, trans. Bernard Martin, 12 vols
(Cleveland and Cincinnati, 197278). Here at vol. 6, p. 71 (Hahn, Yosef Ometz, p. 109).
226 Ibid., paraphrasing Yosef Ometz, p. 121.
227 Hahn, Yosef Ometz, pp. 21112.
228 Ibid., section 153, in Kracauer, Geschichte der Juden in Frankfurt am Main (1150
1824), p. 388.
229 Kracauer, Geschichte der Juden in Frankfurt am Main (11501824), p. 399.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 60
against the highly ensconced board members, the Zehner, with calls to add an
additional ten directors.
230
Two feuding groups eventually emerged, and submitted
their case to arbitration by a third party of judges, rabbis from Fulda, Hildesheim, and
Metz. The new Zehner were forced to resign, but the old ones were not to remain in
power aloneseven new colleagues had to be introduced. The old Zehner refused
to accept the decision, prompting one opponent to argue that the Zehner wanted to
bring the entire Frankfurt Jewry into Egyptian servitude, so to speak. An external
imperial commission examined 212 members of the community and found that only a
minority of Jews was satised with the current communal government. The majority
demanded three policies: father and son should not sit on the council at the same
time; the service of the Zehner should not be lifelong but limited to two years; and,
the current Zehner should abdicate and be replaced by non-partisan men, not closely
related to one another.
231
The economic divisions within the Jewish community were, however, obvious
to non-Jews alike. While the Frankfurt citizens committee pressed to have all but
the wealthiest 20 Jewish families expelled in 1612, the city council compromised,
agreeing in principle to expel only the poorest 60.
232
In the same way that the uprising
challenged the citys patrician leaders it was simultaneously anti-patrician and anti-
Jewish.
233
In May of 1614, Fettmilchs supporters occupied city hall, holding the
councilmen and forcing them to resign and leave the city.
234
The complicated history of the community, combining dramatic growth, increasing
internal tensions, and broader external problems, could leave the community itself
remarkably volatile. It is in this context that Juspas emphasis on authority and
practice, and his concern for true customs took on great signicance. Juspa was often
concerned with new customs and the re-establishment of old customs practiced before
the expulsion, once the Jews had been resettled or found themselves in more favorable
circumstances.
235
After all, as we saw above, Juspa maintained that, all customs
of our fathers are law and a land cannot change its interpretation.
236
In a rather
complicated and revealing passage, Juspa discussed the controversy surrounding the
custom of eating the third meal on the Sabbath.
230 Ibid., p. 400.
231 Ibid., pp. 400405. For information on the diverse wealth of J ews in the early modern
period, see for example the literature on rural J ewry, the court J ews, and the Sephardic J ews
in Hamburg.
232 Friedrichs, Politics or Pogrom? The Fettmilch Uprising in German and J ewish
History, p. 192.
233 Ibid., pp. 188, 190ff, 202.
234 Ibid., p. 192.
235 Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, J dische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main im 16.
und 17. J ahrhundert, p. 111, n. 33 (Hahn, Yosef Ometz, section 671). See for example, Yosef
Ometz, p. 238: and before we were exiled from our city in the year of the expulsion the
simple custom was to give the gabbai two cakes .
236 Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, J dische Religion und Kultur in Frankfurt am Main im 16.
und 17. J ahrhundert p. 112; Hahn, Yosef Ometz, pp. 5912; Zinberg, A History of Jewish
Literatureevery custom of our fathers is Torah (vol. 6, p. 69).
Community, Memory, and Governance 61
Regarding the time of the third meal, there are various customs here and also in these holy
communities in the land of Ashkenaz; there was the custom for a long time to eat the meal
before the afternoon prayers, and in these places in the land of Ashkenaz and almost in
most, [it was] the custom to eat the meal between the afternoon and evening prayers. Both
customs were expressed in the writings of the Mordechai and the Rosh, there [Shabbat]
and [in] other passages.
After explaining the various customs and the rabbinic support for them, J uspa goes
on to explain their signicance for the Frankfurt communal identity within the
context of the turmoil caused by the Fettmilch uprising. He notes that:
And at the time of the expulsion, when we were scattered and dispersed between settlements,
the villages and small cities that surround us, that were themselves accustomed to eat
between the afternoon and evening prayers, and because we were almost alike imprisoned
under their hands to eat at the time of their meal. And after we were returned to our
city by He who performs miracles, the people of our city did not want to abstain from the
custom that they were accustomed to when they were outside our city.
While dispersed outside Frankfurt, many Jews began to practice a different custom
than that traditionally regnant in Frankfurt. They ate their third Sabbath meal between
the afternoon and evening prayers, providing more time for various leisure activities.
But, the rabbinic leadership was here confronted with a signicant legal question.
Although both customs had rabbinic support, there was a widespread practice to treat
local custom as law. What is more, local custom could not simply be changed, even
despite changed circumstances. Juspa records the decision of the rabbinic leadership:
And behold, I put my head between the pillars in this matter and I did what the av bet din
and the judge in our city, that was here in these days, [said]. The people of the yeshivah,
the sages of our city, the great ones, who were at that time here, and myself, the small, I
also did so and was connected to them; our agreement, that was in the vaad [council] to
legislate a response for the usage, what the words of Heaven [dictated] that a person could
not alter from the previous custom that was established from olden times and also the
words of the Maharil thus proved that it was the custom in the land of Ashkenaz, and they
announced then so according to their words in the synagogue with other ordinances that
they then legislated.
Citing the authority of Ashkenazic minhag, Maharil, the rabbis concluded that the
previous custom of the community in Frankfurt could not be altered. The decision
was proclaimed throughout the community. Foreseeing that opposition to the
declaration might be expected, the rabbis also explained how people would be called
to the synagogue for prayers on the Sabbath and explicated the punishment for those
disregarding the ruling.
The av bet din also decreed to the shammash that he was not to call people to the synagogue
for afternoon prayers in the summer until after seven oclock for the time to eat and
take pleasure and for the hour of the time to call the eating before the afternoon prayers,
that is ve oclock until seven. And so the gaon, sage of our city, our teacher, our rabbi
Moshe Mendels, of blessed memory, resolved very much in this matter and he decreed the
herem on the shammash [should he not follow this order].
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 62
But, J uspa concludes, there were some lay leaders who preferred the new custom
for personal reasons and inuenced the shammash to subvert the old custom over
time by calling people to the synagogue in such a way as to force observance of
the newer custom. The battle over the custom, here as memory and practice of past
tradition, had signicant resonance in a community wracked by internal divisions
and increasing tensions between rabbinic and lay leadership.
And because there were then parnasim, who because of pleasure, wanted to continue the
meal between the afternoon and evening prayers, because if they ate before the afternoon
prayers, what would they do between the afternoon and evening prayers, they attered the
shammash with their words, until he did not listen to our teacher, and he called [people]
to the synagogue at six oclock so that the people could not eat and enjoy the Shabbat
meal before the call to the synagogue came. And little by little, people got used to eating
the meal after the afternoon prayers. There were also those individuals who fortied
themselves in the matter to eat before the afternoon prayers, and they got used to making
hamotzei before the afternoon prayers; in any case, the shammash became little by little
accustomed to make the call to the synagogue earlier, every year a little bit earlier, until
the previous custom of eating before the afternoon prayers was nullied, in any event.
J uspa went on to complete the section by noting what a terrible development this
was, a true stumbling block, since there was a widespread custom for those with
deceased parents not to drink water after the afternoon prayers. With the new custom
of reciting the afternoon prayers earlier in the day being observed, the time in which
people could not drink was extended.
The expulsion from the city, the settlement in surrounding communities, and
the return to the city served as a powerful backdrop to discussions about communal
behavior and identity. This example takes on more powerful meaning when seen
within the context of external pressuressuch as professional restrictions and
attempts at expulsionand internal crisessuch as increasing population and social
tensions, declining rabbinic authority, and increasing territorialization.
237
The past
was engaged here for very important discussions and with very tangible results.
Yair Hayyim Bacharachs commentary to J uspa of Worms customs for the
community of Worms also offered historical information about some of the key
events in the history of the J ewish community in Worms, both in internal social and
political developments and in external events. While mentioning the specic rulings
of his father, he also detailed the circumcisions, weddings, and deaths of prominent
members of the community.
238
Particularly important in Bacharachs work were details of the invasion of Worms
by the French and the expulsion of the J ews. In commenting on the holy community
of Worms, Bacharach argued that, whoever did not see Worms in its splendour and
order, had never truly viewed a noble community.
239
In being forced to ee, like
237 Friedrichs, Anti-J ewish Politics, p. 200.
238 See Shulkhan Arukh Orakh Hayyim im Perush Mekor Hayyim (Hereafter MH), 2 vols
(J erusalem, 1982) p. 179, for example, which mentions the death in 1670/71 of Beila and also
his father; p. 249 regarding memorial; particularly members of the Oppenheim family and the
parnasim and their families; see vol. 2, pp. 104, 105.
239 Fritz Reuter, Warmaisa: 1000 Jahre Juden in Worms (Worms, 1984), p. 124.
Community, Memory, and Governance 63
other citizens, and witnessing the destruction, the J ews experienced terrible anxiety,
for the majority of houses in the J ewish quarter were constructed on the city wall
The cities of Worms, Speyer, and Oppenheim were almost simultaneously burned.
We had to leave our houses and our courtyard and allow our holy synagogue to be
ruined. We had to pack all our belongings and ee. God would be compassionate to
us.
240
The continuity of the community and its practices was emphasized by Bacharach,
who noted that even pious customs practiced, though perhaps not formally and
publicly adopted, by the citizens of a community were incumbent upon succeeding
generations.
241
Responding to inquiries about whether members of the Worms
community were bound to continue to observe special fasts and customs of the
community after its destruction, Bacharach contended that:
Even if some few individuals had given up hope, they must follow the feeling of the
entire congregation (who must be assumed not to have despaired) The summary is
that this destruction was only like an expulsion, or a ight before an earthquake, or before
an oppressor. Even if all of the people left, nevertheless we hoped every day for the
salvation of the Lord in a natural way. Hence, it was certainly their intention to return and
therefore it was incumbent upon them to maintain all the strict observances of the earlier
community.
242
Bacharach noted, in commenting on the customs of Worms, that the community
imposed upon itself a fast on the eve of Rosh Hodesh Shevat, to recall the expulsion
from Worms, and that the scholar, our teacher and our rabbi, Vital, who was head
of the bet din after the expulsion took upon himself the fast.
243
The fast was
imposed upon the community as a form of communal memory and identication.
244
The discussion of particular customs in Worms not only revealed internal
struggles and attempts to recollect or reconstruct, or even create, tradition, but also
displayed the effects that non-J ewish reactions might have on J ewish practice. To
give but one example:
240 Ibid., p. 124.
241 Solomon Freehof, A Treasury of Responsa (Philadelphia, 1963) p. 173; see Kaufmann,
R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 77ff.
242 Freehof, A Treasury of Responsa, pp. 1745 (Bacharach, Havot Yair, vol. 1, responsum
126, pp. 3479, here at p. 349).
243 Bacharach, Jair Chajim (ed.), Wormser Minhagbuch des R. Jousep (Juspa) Schammes,
prepared by Erich Zimmer, 2 vols (J erusalem, 1988) [Hebrew], here at vol. 1, p. 248.
244 One question directed to Bacharach revolved around questions of desecration of the
Sabbath. The inquirer asked if it was appropriate to declare a fast on the community (tsibur)
because of the sins of the community (kahal), noting that many authorities, such as Asheri, and
the author of Terumas haDeshen probited such fasts [on the Sabbath] in general (ibid., vol. 2,
responsum 236, p. 663). He also asked whether it was a desecration of the Sabbath to save the
community by means of money [which would not be allowed to be handled on the Sabbath],
if there was not a general threat to life. Bacharach responded that it was appropriate for an
individual in danger to desecrate the Sabbath to lament and to impose upon himself a fast.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 64
I also witnessed the following: In 5429 [1669] a battle was fought between the Duke of
Pfalz and the Prince of Lothringen. On Hoshana Rabba they confronted each othercamp
against camp, troop against troop. They fought near the mountain known as Wingertsberg.
Both sides lost many men, and the Duke himself participated in the battle. He retreated
through our city, Worms, with the remnants of his troops. A great fear arose in the Dukes
state, and no bonre was kindled for many reasons. Nevertheless, the men appointed to
complete and reinitiate the annual cycle of Torah reading assembled in the Braut Haus
together with the other men who customarily entered with them. They rejoiced in the
customary manner as in previous years with wine and fruits. Only the res were not
kindled so as not to appear overly joyful during the Dukes defeat.
245
Conclusions
J ewish communities in early modern Germany could be highly variegated and
complex. Communal organization differed between communities and regions and
was becoming, in some important ways, more formalized and bureaucratic. The
intensication of communal recordkeeping in the form of communal ledgers reected
broader social and cultural developments. A close look at these documents reveals
that J ews distinguished time and narrated past events in sophisticated ways and for
many different purposes. The past was a useful tool in establishing and carrying on
tradition or instituting new laws.
In the same way, there were reasons for J ewish customs, and J ewish memory
could serve to record, explain and, when necessary, justify the past and the practices
of the past. The continuation or limiting of past practices was affected not only by
internal communal and religious disposition, but by the pressures of non-J ewish
society as well. Treading the ne line of negotiating with the past and past practices
was a delicate exercise for a minority population; however, such delicacy did not of
necessity imply powerlessness, as J ews might adapt past practices to honor custom
while responding to present realities and constraints. We need not assume, therefore,
that early modern German J ews lived tenuously with no ability to engage their past
or shape their future.
It is clear from the limited examples reviewed here that continuity with the past
was central within the Ashkenazic communities. One can argue reasonably, that the
emphasis on tradition was a counter to the throes of discontinuity and trauma as
245 Shlomo Eidelberg, Medieval Ashkenazic History: Studies on German Jewry in the
Middle Ages, I English Essays, excerpts from Minhagim of the Worms Community, pp.
13031. Or consider, In the year 5424, a great war raged between the Kaiser and the Turks.
During the war the Turks captured the city of Neustadt from the Kaiser as well as a portion of
the Hungarian territory. Certain J ew-hating gentiles slandered the J ews by claiming that we
rejoiced in the victory of the Turks unmentionable ways. They frightened us dreadfully, so
that the congregation did not permit the shammash to kindle the customary re (for Simhat
Torah). However, they permitted the kindling of the re in the courtyard of the yeshiva
because they did not wish the custom to be ignored in the future. They kindled the re in
the Yeshiva courtyard only during the reading of the Torah until the congregation left the
synagogue. (Eidelberg, Medieval Ashkenazic History, excerpts from Minhagim of the
Worms Community, p. 147).
Community, Memory, and Governance 65
experienced in expulsion and internal social struggles. Yet, the battle over tradition
and the power of recalling the past revealed the deep tensions penetrating even
the largest and most important early modern German J ewish communities. With
social divisions, contention over rabbinic and lay authority, and changing economic,
political, and cultural conditions, J ewish community was undergoing serious changes
and experiencing signicant challenges. Narrating and recalling the past was one
way to combat changesat least changes seen from particular vantage pointsbut,
as we have seen earlier, could also be a means for change as well.
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Chapter 4
J ewish Social Organization:
The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor
Social Order and Change in Early Modern Germany
Beyond basic demographic patterns, the social organization of early modern Germany
was simultaneously traditional and volatile. While the writer Hans Sachs had noted
114 social and occupational categories already in the early sixteenth century,
1
early
modern Germany nonetheless remained a society of orders,
2
and most scholars have
found in the period from 13001600 a social structure that remained largely intact.
An early seventeenth-century Frankfurt am Main ordinance referenced ve broad
social categories into which the city population could be divided: patricians; other
council members and distinguished merchants; distinguished retailers and members
of the legal establishment; craftsmen and ordinary retailers; and unskilled workers.
3
The social and economic disparities of the later Middle Ages, however, continued
or intensied in the early modern period. In Nrdlingen, for example, 6 per cent of
the population owned more than 40 per cent of the property recorded in the tax
lists in the second half of the seventeenth century.
4
In Schwbisch Hall, in 1625,
the poorest 60 per cent of the population paid only 9 per cent of the total wealth
tax receipts (Beet); the wealthiest 4 per cent paid 3642 per cent; the top quintile
alone paid 25 per cent. At least one-third of the towns wealth belonged to a mere
40 households.
5
In Augsburg, in the early seventeenth century, the wealthiest 10
per cent of the population possessed 92 per cent of the wealth and the wealthiest 2
per cent owned 61 per cent.
6
Similar power and wealth structures could be found in
German villages in the early modern period. When combined with complex political
and economic ties to cities, territorial rulers, or even the emperor, such village social
structure could be quite charged.
7
1 Christopher R. Friedrichs, German Social Structure, 13001600, in Scribner (ed.),
Germany: A New Social and Economic History, pp. 23358, here at p. 234.
2 Ibid., p. 233.
3 Ibid., p. 245.
4 Robert von Friedburg and Wolfgang Mager, Learned Men and Merchants: The
Growth of the Brgertum, in Ogilvie (ed.), Germany: A New Social and Economic History,
pp. 16495, here at p. 183.
5 Terrence McIntosh, Urban Decline in Early Modern Germany: Schwbisch Hall and
Its Region, 16501750 (Chapel Hill, 1997), p. 50.
6 Ibid., p. 51.
7 See, for example, David Sabean, Power in the Blood: Popular Culture and Village
Discourse in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1988 (orig., 1984)).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 68
It should also be noted that a citys population included many more groups of
people than citizens. In Colmar, for example, the 1610 tax registers indicate that
58.7 per cent of the householders (620 out of 1,057) were inscribed in the citizen
registers. An additional 18.4 per cent (194) claimed to be citizens in the parish
registers.
8
But that left a substantial portion of the citys residentsalmost 23 per
centwith no formal citizens rights. Given such divisions and various political
crises, urban unrest and confessional confrontations continued to be part of the
pattern of urban life with, for example, visible protests and revolts in Aachen (1580),
Augsburg (1584), Emden (1595), Lbeck (1598), and Worms and Frankfurt am
Main (1612).
9
The situation could be very similar, and often even more pronounced, in the
rural areas. In mid-sixteenth-century Mark Brandenburg, for example, 14 of the 300
knightly families possessed nearly a third of the groups total landholdings.
10
Given
this environment of demographic change, social tension, political complexity, and
religious ferment, antiquity and authenticity of familial lineage were seen to be as
important as economic wealth and very signicant tools for the legitimization of
power.
11
In addition, with the increasing role of Roman Law, and its purveyors
the doctors of jurisprudencethemselves claiming nobility,
12
it became ever more
important for families to trace and assert their ancestry and lineage. This is a topic
that will be treated in more detail later in this chapter. Social tensions were rife in
early modern Germany. Great discrepancies in wealth and social status combined
with complex and changing social structures. Early modern Germans navigated this
world through the use of honor and recourse to the past.
The contexts in which J ews found themselves could have signicant resonance in
internal J ewish development. Even in larger cities, where J ews were segregated in a
ghetto or J ewish quarter, J ewish culture was not a culture of the ghetto. Rather, J ews
often took part in the ruling cultural norms but could give external ideas a J ewish
meaning.
13
Indeed, the repeated appearance of sumptuary laws and ordinances
(takkanot) attempting to deal with the problem of the attraction of new cultural
behavior seems to imply that J ews were much more involved in the world around
them than was once believed.
J ews were still required to dress in ways that distinguished them from their
Christian neighbors and there is evidence of at times heated conict over religious
practices, particularly those that were visible in or affected the larger public space,
such as the establishment of an eruv (an extension of the private domain into the
public domain, typically by using a wire, to allow carrying on the Sabbath that is
8 Wallace, Communities and Conict in Early Modern Colmar: 15751730, p. 13.
9 R. Po-chia Hsia, The Structure of Belief: Confessionalism and Society, 15001600,
in Scribner (ed.), Germany: A New Social and Economic History, pp. 35577, here at p. 371.
10 Friedrichs, German Social Structure, 13001600, p. 235.
11 Ibid., p. 236.
12 Ibid., p. 237.
13 J ews could appropriate chivalric romances, for example, substituting J ewish for
Christian ghters and eliminating those elements which were too Christian. See Christoph
Daxelmller, Organizational Forms of J ewish Popular Culture since the Middle Ages, in
Hsia and Lehmann (eds), In and Out of the Ghetto, pp. 2948.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 69
otherwise forbidden) or the employment of Christians on the Sabbath. Nevertheless,
social separation did not have to result in political exclusion.
14
Particularly in south
Germany, J ews seem to have been integrated in their village societies, without
being assimilated, and J ews and Christians at times even shared formal government
administration.
15
There is evidence throughout the early modern period of close
J ewish and Christian interaction, in political administration and even in more
religious events such as weddings and synagogue openings.
Given such a permeable environment, it should not be too surprising to nd
that important and growing social disequilibrium and contestation of power was
developing within the J ewish communities themselves. According to one recent
assessment, there were four different classes in early modern J ewish society. The
conict in early modern J ewish communities involved the interaction of these
groups, and not only along distinctions between rich and poor.
16
Like early modern
German society more generally, internal J ewish social and political structures were
frequently oligarchic and contested. In Frankfurt, for example, there was growing
polarization between the wealthy and the rest of the community, with power being
increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few wealthy members, and growing
discontent among those J ewish householders who were excluded from political
participation.
17
Christopher Friedrichs writes that these struggles within the
Frankfurt community are strikingly reminiscent of the conicts that took place among
the Christian citizens of Frankfurt and countless other German cities during the same
epoch.
18
Serious internal constitutional overhaul was called for, both from within
and outside the J ewish community. Such struggles within the J ewish community
were never conned to the community itself. Non-J ewish authoritieslocal,
regional, and even imperialwere also frequently involved in what were ostensibly
internal J ewish disputes.
Of course conicts were not necessarily conned to a specic J ewish community.
Stefan Rohrbacher argues that Swabian J ewry came to be dened during the course
of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries not only by a physical territory but
by an organizational structure with particular customs, autonomy, and self-identity.
The importance of territorialization of internal J ewish governmental structures, as in
the establishment of central courts, as well as the external political ramications of
growing territorial state authority have already been considered. Indeed, the nature of
legal expertise and the dependence of small J ewish communities on larger halakhic
centers were frequently discussed. Recourse to territorial authority could resolve as
well as fan tensions.
19
What is more, the conicts within a particular region could
14 Friedrichs, German Social Structure, 13001600, passim.
15 See Rolf Kiessling and Sabine Ullmann, Christlich-jdische Doppelgemeinden
in den Drfern der Markgrafschaft Burgau whrend des 17./18. J ahrhunderts, in Cluse,
Haverkamp, and Yuval (eds), Jdische Gemeinden und ihr christlicher Kontext, pp. 51334.
16 See the argument of Elhanan Reiner, as summarized by J oseph Davis in Yom-Tov
Lipman Heller: Portrait of a Seventeenth-Century Rabbi, p. 8.
17 See Christopher Friedrichs, J ews in the Imperial Cities: A Political Perspective, in
Hsia and Lehmann (eds), In and Out of the Ghetto, pp. 27588, here at p. 283.
18 Ibid., p. 284.
19 See Zimmer, Fiery Embers.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 70
develop into much larger confrontations between rabbis across and beyond the
borders of Germany.
At times, community factions and politics could lead to the intrusion of non-
J ewish authorities into communal governance. In some cases, as in Prague in the
1630s, this could lead to the imprisonment of lay or rabbinic leaders. Such was
the case of the important rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller.
20
The phenomenon of
the wealthy court J ews, with tremendous nancial and political resources, and,
as many scholars have recently asserted, important connections to various J ewish
communities, also reects well the more general changes we have seen thus far in
early modern Germany.
The development of the absolutist state in the early modern period and the
concomitant centralization of many European economies broke the previous
concentrations of power in the noble landed estates and churches and created an
important need for nancial development, a need lled by J ews, among others. As
early as 1695 the prohibition on usury was rescinded in parts of Europe. Moneylending
became a less specically J ewish trade, as mercantilism and the accumulation of
state revenues were seen as a means to strong government.
State ofcials did not hesitate to mobilize J ews to help stimulate trade and growth
in cities, much as they had done with the original charters in the eleventh century
in Germany. The court J ews (Hofjuden) became something of a new phenomenon,
though of course J ewish court agents had existed earlier in the Middle Ages,
particularly in Spain but also in Germany, for example in the fourteenth and fteenth
centuries in Saxony, to the bishops of Wrzburg and for the Cologne nobility.
Large banks and commercial enterprises were overturned, cities impoverished,
coinage devalued, and credit systems ruined, as the Thirty Years War drained large
sums of money for troops, equipment, and reconstruction. The need for nancial
services and resources naturally rose sharply, as the nancial strength of territories
was weakened by the great war. By the end of the seventeenth century the princely
expenditures, court display and construction required serious nancial resources and
reorganization.
Within this context, the court factor became a permanent institution in the
territorial states. The J ewish factors numbered in the thousands, and served large
and small rulers alike. Some court factors simultaneously served several princes.
Among the most important J ewish court factors was the Frankfurt banker Moses
Lb Isaac Kann (court factor in Mainz, Wrzburg, Bamberg, and Vienna). Many
J ewish families evolved as dynastic nancial powers. Three generations of the
Gomperz family, for example, served the prince-bishop of Mnster; six served
Prussian princes in unbroken sequence; and the Behrend family created a dynasty in
Hannover, while the Lehmann family did the same in Saxony, and the Oppenheimers
and Wertheimers did so in Vienna. In true dynastic fashion, many court J ews created
extensive networks of family and close personal friends. Through carefully planned
strategies, many also married among other important court J ew families: Samson
Wertheimer, successor to Samuel Oppenheimer, for example, was the latters
nephew and Leffmann Behrends mother was the aunt of the Berlin court J ew J ost
20 Davis, Yom-Tov Lipman Heller, pp. 138, 1445.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 71
Liebmann.
21
This trend may, in part, help to explain the emphasis on marriages and
honor in Glckel of Hamelns memoirs, which we will examine below.
22
Early modern German court Jews played important political and nancial roles
both within and beyond their communities. Court Jews were active in a variety of
economic capacities: procurement, provisioning, industrial enterprises, the leasing
of state monopolies, and some had manufacturing monopolies (for example, cloth,
tobacco). The function of court Jews might differ by regionin the north we nd more
urban norms of enterprise, such as manufacturing; in the south we nd a culture more
akin to noble society.
23
Court Jews were often granted special freedom of movement
and certain exemptions. Although the position was rife with ambiguity, the court
Jew could attain rank, honor, and respect; he was, however, always the servant to his
sovereign. Court Jews still did not possess the rights of Christian citizens, and they
were not typically viewed as socially acceptable. They were, further, often easy targets
for their enemies and their broad sphere of activity and inuence often fostered the
hatred of an ever-impoverished population.
Samuel Oppenheimer (16301703), the Viennese court Jew, for example, was
previously the imperial army provisioner during the 167379 war against Louis XIV
of France. He had spent his youth in Heidelberg and was the rst Jew to settle in Vienna
after the expulsion in 1670/71. Oppenheimer procured enormous sums that helped push
back the Turks in 1682, and he played a central role in saving Vienna in 1683, Budapest
in 1686, and Belgrade in 1688. Oppenheimer even paid for several of the large peace
conferences afterward. Another example of a prominent court Jew was Leffmann
Behrends (16341714), who began as a small merchant supplying luxury goods to
court. He established himself as a moneylender, diplomatic mediator and minter, and
further strengthened his position when he helped duke Ernest Augustus (167998)
procure the title of elector. He was connected by marriage to the Oppenheimer and
Wertheimer families in Vienna.
But court Jews were not simply inuential at court. Many court Jews remained
extremely involved in their Jewish communities. The typical court Jew was often the
benefactor and champion of his community and its interests and was usually given the
title of shtadlan (intercessor) in the Jewish sources. In fact, a large number of court Jews
began their careers by being appointed by their sovereign as the leader of all Jews in
their particular territory. Most court Jews seem to have been successful at maintaining
Jewish tradition within Baroque court lifestyle. Behrends, for example, was an ardent
21 On the court J ews generally, see the overview in J onathan I. Israel, European Jewry in
the Age of Mercantilism, 15501750 (3rd edn, London, 1998), pp. 10118, from which much
of this summary is drawn.
22 For a discussion of court J ews and upper J ewish classes in general in relation to
Glckel of Hamelns autobiographical writing, see Rotraud Ries, Status und Lebensstil
J dische Familien der sozialen Oberschicht zur Zeit Glikls, in Monika Richarz (ed.), Die
Hamburger Kauffrau Glikl: Jdische Existenz in der Frhen Neuzeit (Hamburg, 2001), pp.
280306, especially pp. 28798.
23 See Rotraud Ries, HofjudenFunktionstrger des absolutistischen Territorialstaates
und Teil der jdischen Gesellschaft: Eine einfhrende Positionsbestimmung, in Rotraud Ries
and J . Friedrich Battenberg (eds), Hofjudenkonomie und Interkulturalitt: Die jdische
Wirtschaftselite im 18. Jahrhundert (Hamburg, 2002), pp. 1139.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 72
talmudist, he supported talmudic study, and for many years he headed the community
of Hannover-Neustadt. In 1673 he acquired the right to open a cemetery. In 1687 at his
request the duke agreed to permit the Jews of Hannover to appoint a Landesrabbiner.
In 1700 he secured support of the elector in suppressing the anti-Jewish writings
of Johann Eisenmenger. And in 1703 he built a synagogue and presented it to the
community. Behrendss sons and grandsons were also court Jews, although the family
went bankrupt in 1721. Recent research has revealed that court Jews were in reality a
force of continuity and tradition, as opposed to one of transformation.
24
Memorialization of the Dead
The social hierarchy within early modern Judaism could be constructed and navigated
by narrating the past. Memorialization of the dead, for example, served to craft a
communal identity that was both regional and often oligarchic. Honor, which was of
increasing importance in early modern Germany, was addressed by Jews in a variety of
memorials and in the burgeoning production of autobiographical writing. In the same
way that it could be used to contest external marginalization and re-inscribe the Jews
into world history (see chapter 5), memory of the past also allowed for the organization
and disbursement of power and authority within the Jewish community itself.
The boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead were very uid in late
medieval and early modern society.
25
A delicate balance existed between the two
worlds; the dead continued, in many important ways, to remain a part, indeed an
integral component, of the living community. The relationship between the living
and dead was multi-faceted: emotive and cultural, but also economic, involving the
disposition of property and the dedication of resources to the demands of intercession
and commemoration.
26
Discourses about the dead, thereforehow they should be
treated as well as their place in living societytell us a great deal about the religious,
social, and cultural developments and conicts within the living communities.
27
In the Middle Ages, the chief means of memorializing the dead was within a
liturgical context (memoria). Such memorialization recognized the individual nature
of the deceased, while allowing for the creation of communal and group cohesiveness
and identity.
28
Memory of the dead was perpetuated by being included in communal
liturgy. The commemoration of the dead thus became a corporate obligation that
extended beyond kin groups to involve the broader community, as, for example, in
confraternities.
29
Despite important differences in theories of salvation, death rituals,
and views of the afterlife, Catholic and Protestant responses to the dead in the early
24 See Ries and Battenberg (eds), Hofjudenkonomie und Interkulturalitt: Die
jdische Wirtschaftselite im 18. Jahrhundert.
25 Gordon and Marshall (eds), The Place of the Dead, p. 7.
26 Ibid., p. 8.
27 Ibid., p. 3.
28 Ibid., p. 4.
29 Ibid., p. 5.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 73
modern period could be remarkably similar.
30
The extent to which we can compare the
memorialization of Jewish dead during this period will be one question treated here.
Memory of the dead holds a special place in J udaism.
31
In fact, the memorialization
of the dead is something of an institution consecrated by ceremony and controlled by
the community itself, for which the memorybooks are the surviving testimonies.
32
The idea of a memorybook certainly had biblical precedence, and took important
shape during the Crusades.
33
Lists of J ewish victims of the Crusades exist for the communities of Speyer,
Cologne, Mainz, and Worms; and the chronicles of the Crusades often added details
to the bare lists of those murdered.
34
Similar martyr lists could also be found at times
of other grave attacks on the J ews, such as the Rindeisch pogrom of 1298,
35
or the
Black Death attacks of 1348, with many entries including entire families.
36
The core
of the memorybook of Nuremberg, also an early example listing the J ews martyred
in that city in 5109 (1349), was similarly simply a list of 105 entries. The genre of
the memorybook, similar in format but more broadly focused than the simple listing
of martyred J ews, has typically been seen as originating at the end of the thirteenth
century, with the Mainz memorybook of Isaac ben Samuel of Meiningen.
37
The memorybook genre became more frequent from the middle of the seventeenth
century on, however.
38
Since the turn of the twentieth century around 150 J ewish
memorybooks have been found in Germany. Many of these date from the early
modern period, including many from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such
as those from Binswagen, Koblenz, Cologne-Deutz, and Mainz, all written or begun
in the sixteenth century; and those from Hanau, Minden, Frankfurt am Main, Pfersee,
Kreuznach, Fulda, Trier, Baiersdorf, and Worms, all from the seventeenth.
39
Memorybooks typically included four components: a brief descriptive statement
including the name of the community utilizing it, the name of the scribe and the
30 Ibid., p. 12.
31 Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Isralite, p. i.
32 Ibid.
33 See Siegmund Salfeld (ed.), Das Martyrologium des Nrnberger Memorbuches: im
Auftrage der Historischen Commission fr Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland (Berlin, 1898).
34 Magnus Weinberg, Das Memorbuch, in Bernhard Purin, Buch der Erinnerung,
pp. 926, here at p. 9; idem, Die Memorbcher; p. 1, Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Isralite, p. iii.
35 Weinberg, Das Memorbuch, p. 11.
36 See W.H. Lowe (ed.), The Memorbook of Nrnberg (London, 1881), pp. 1617.
37 Weinberg, Die Memorbcher, p. 3; Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Israelite, p. ii.
38 Das Memorbuch zu Bonn, website (last visited J uly 2006) http://www.steinheim-
institut.de/projekte/memorbuch/index.xml.
39 Felicitas Heimann-J elinek, Memorbcher: Milieux de mmoire, in Purin,
Buch der Erinnerung, pp. 2738, here at p. 28; and the memorybooks in Salfeld and Stern.
Binswagen (sixteenth century); Koblenz (begun 1580); Cologne-Deutz (1581); Mainz (begun
1583); Hanau (1601); Minden (beginning of the seventeenth century); Frankfurt am Main
(begun 1629); Pfersee (1631?); Kreuznach (1638); Ehrenbreitstein (begun 1647); Rheinbach
(1650); Fulda (seventeenth century); Trier (1664); Mannheim (1673); Baiersdorf (1689);
Bergheim/Erft (1677); Worms (1679); Wallerstein (1684); and Frth (1708ff).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 74
date of copying;
40
a liturgical part, including universal (typically for those fasting on
Mondays and Thursdays) and individual mi sheberah prayers;
41
Psalms for individual
communities, making the memorybooks simultaneously books of customs of the
originating community;
42
and the actual necrology that included the names of the
deceased and their good deeds and accomplishments.
The general part of the necrological list included famous scholars or personalities,
generally individuals beyond the region. In rather formulaic ways, for example,
Gershom ben J udah Meor ha-Golah (Rabbenu Gershom, c.9601028), J acob
ben Meir Tam (Rabbenu Tam, c.110071), and Meir ben Baruch of Rothenbrug
(Maharam, c.121593) were listed.
43
In a local part, individuals and their relations
with roots in or connections to the community were listed, typically in roughly
chronological fashion.
44
All entries began with the phrase may God remember the
soul of a particular person; different formularies were then introduced for men and
women.
45
In most cases, the earliest deceased listed predated the actual compilation
of the book by more than a century.
46
The necrology was a basic component of all
of the German memorybooks, and it included pro forma prayers for individual J ews
and J ewish communities in other regions.
47
According to Simon Schwarzfuchs, the memorybooks offered information on
three principal groups of people: those martyred, those engaged in sacred study, and
those engaged in charitable deeds.
48
For the memorybook of Metz in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, for example, the giving of charity, for a variety of purposes
such as for the poor of the Holy Land
49
or the construction of synagogueswas a
frequent appellation and could represent the donation of a large amount of money.
50
Other categories included the frequent participation in synagogue prayers
51
and
intercessions on behalf of the community.
52
Memorybooks were often ahistorical
and non-chronological. Many entries of the Pfersee memorybook, for example, did
not follow a strictly chronological order; or rather, some entries from the eighteenth
century seem to have been inserted into the text of seventeenth century entries.
Memorybooks focused on particular scholarly or wealthy families, but might offer
invaluable information for the general history of the J ews in a given community and
region, as well as for the history of particular families.
53
40 Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Isralite, p. ii.
41 Weinberg, Die Memorbcher, p. 7.
42 Ibid., p. 8.
43 Ibid., pp. 89.
44 Ibid., p. 9.
45 Ibid., p. 10.
46 Ibid.
47 Ibid., pp. 1112.
48 Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Isralite, pp. ixx, 14.
49 Ibid., p. 4 (no. 67), p. 12 (no. 168).
50 Ibid., p. 1 (no. 4), for example.
51 Ibid., p. 2 (no. 33), p. 3 (no. 57).
52 Ibid., p. 2 (no. 31), p. 5 (no. 80).
53 Ibid., p. 17.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 75
In addition to lists of names and titles, the memorybooks do provide insights into
historical events as well. The Baiersdorf memorybook, for example, discussed the
decision by the Margrave of Bayreuth to expel the Jews in 5440 (1680), noting the
salvation of the Jews by Gods hand through the sending of the angel in the person of
the protector of the Jews, Samuel Oppenheim of Frankfurt.
54
The eighteenth-century
memorybook of Marktbreit revealed that part of the community had ed into Marktbreit
after the 1671 expulsion from Fulda. The memorybook of Binswagen in the sixteenth
century offered a general plea that God should remember the soul of all of the
dead in the kehilot and yishuvim [settlements]
55
and annul the decrees and forced
apostasy and annul the customs duties and remove the sifrei Torah from the hands of
the nations and remove the forced apostates from the hands of the nations .
56
Some individuals were praised for their erudition, as in Metz, where we read
of the humble, pious and knowledgeable syndic, the rabbi Solomon Israel, son of
haver [a level of ordination] Gerson, because of his devotion in consolidating the
community of Metz. He was a faithful citizen and led the community of Metz with
gentleness and integrity for more than fty years [and] for numerous interventions
and numerous charities and [the fact that] he frequented the synagogue morning and
night .
57
At times, the memorybooks tell us about scholarly accomplishments and
publications. In Neuburg, for example, Rabbi Meir bar Isaac of Oettingen was listed
on account of his multiplication of Torah in Israel in his novellae and his book
on the Five Books of the Torah .
58
Many memorybooks focused on the regional associations of the J ewish
communities. The Oettingen memorybook acknowledged one individuals exertions
for the people of the medinah [region] and the faith. The Heidingsfeld memorybook,
written no earlier than 1705, included 50 rabbis within and outside our medinah. In
seventeenth-century Aub, the memorybook included a list of martyrs, kehillot, and
regions.
59
Often the names of people who did not die in Aub were nevertheless listed
if they were otherwise connected to the region through familial ties or had served in
the community for a time.
60
The Offenbach memorybook was particularly interesting
in this regard. The book began with a list of communities (Remember Speyer,
Worms, Mainz, Oppenheim, Koblenz, Cologne (?)
61
) and a list of famous people to
remember, such as Rabbenu Gershom, Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac of Troyes (Rashi,
10401105), Rabbenu Tam, Maharam, and J acob Molin (Maharil, 13651427).
62
But many individuals listed seem only tangentially connected to Offenbach; many
54 Weinberg, Das Memorbuch.
55 Similar at this point to p. 32 of the Oettingen memorybook.
56 C. Duschinsky, Gedenkbcher (Memorbcher) von Offenbach a. Main u. anderen
deutschen Gemeinden (Frankfurt am Main, 1924), p. 130.
57 Schwarzfuchs, Un obituaire Isralite, p. 4 (no. 59).
58 Moshe Stern, Memorybooks Written during the 16th to the 19th Century in Swabian
Jewish Communities (J erusalem, 1941) [Hebrew], p. 26, from the Neuburg memorybook of
the early eighteenth century.
59 Duschinsky, Gedenkbcher, pp. 289.
60 Ibid., p. 31.
61 Ibid., p. 8.
62 Ibid., p. 11.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 76
lived, died, or were buried in the nearby community of Frankfurt
63
or in Speyer.
64
In
fact, at times, the here referenced in the text referred to Mainz, and at other times
to Frankfurt or Offenbach.
65
By combining more universal J ewish gures, such as Maimonides, Rashi,
Maharam, Maharil, and Isaac ben Solomon Luria (Ari, 153472) (see the
memorybook of Veitschheim, 1741, for example)
66
with local and regional rabbis,
67
memorybooks created a community that was placed in time and multi-dimensional.
The connection between great sages and important local gures solidied the image
of the J ewish community as both holy and established. The historical blurring of
personalities allowed the community to be dened through actions and not delimited
by chronological or strictly geographical boundaries; community became in this
way more than local or regional. The community created through the historical
reckoning and liturgical recounting of the memorybooks was universal, and
connected to disparate communities and individuals scattered both geographically
and chronologically, a particularly valuable attribute at a time of increasing territorial
dispersion and regional identication. A few observations regarding early modern
J ewry will set the appropriate context for a clearer examination of the memorybook,
particularly that of the J ewish community of Pfersee, near Augsburg.
An Early Modern German Jewish Context
The development of rural J ewry, particularly in south and west Germany began
in the later Middle Ages, but became signicant rst in the early modern period,
particularly after the middle of the sixteenth century.
68
By the nineteenth century,
some small towns and rural villages boasted more J ews than Christians in their
populations.
69
But the rural J ewries were more than local communities; they were
63 Ibid., pp. 15, 21 (no. 118).
64 Ibid., p. 16 (no. 90).
65 Ibid., p. 19 (no. 101) died here in Offenbach; p. 20 (no. 110), here is equivalent to
Frankfurt; p. 17 (no. 86), buried here 1661.
66 Ibid., p. 75. It lists Karo, Maimonides, Mordechai J affe, Isaac Luria, Hayyim Vital,
and local rabbis; see also Duschinsky, Gedenkbcher, p. 11.
67 Ibid., p. 74.
68 Stefan Rohrbacher, Ungleiche Partnerschaft: Simon Gnzburg und die erste Ansiedlung
von Juden den Toren Augsburgs in der Frhen Neuzeit, pp. 193ff; See J. Friedrich Battenberg,
Aus der Stadt auf das Land? Zur Vertreibung und Neuansiedlung der Juden im Heiligen
Rmischen Reich, in Monika Richarz and Reinhard Rrup (eds), Jdisches Leben auf dem
Lande (Tbingen, 1997), pp. 935. See also Wolfram Baer, Zwischen Vertreibung und
Wiederansiedlung: Die Reichstadt Augsburg und die Juden vom 15. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert (pp.
11027, especially p. 117) and Wolfgang Wst, Die Judenpolitik der geistlichen Terriotorien
Schwabens whrend der Frhen Neuzeit (pp. 12853, especially p. 131), both in Rolf Kiessling
(ed.), Judengemeinden in Schwaben im Kontext des Alten Reiches (Berlin, 1995).
69 See Rolf Kiessling and Sabine Ullmann (eds), Landjudentum im deutschen Sdwesten
whrend der Frhen Neuzeit (Berlin, 1999).
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 77
regional associations bound together for a variety of purposes, and subsumed under
shifting and at times unstable regional temporal governments.
70
The history of the J ews in early modern Germany uctuated between one of
security and privilege on one hand, and expulsion and restriction on the other. A
variety of privileges, particularly at the individual level, combined with severe
restrictions on J ewish business. In Swabia, for example, this was particularly true in
the legislation of 1541, focusing on Memmingen and its surrounding villages; that
of 1561 in Ulm, aimed at a variety of small and middling J ewish communities; and
that of 1582 in Wettenhausen.
71
For the early modern period, the legal position of the J ews was complex and
often volatile. The J ews, who at times enjoyed privileges and protection granted
by the emperor, were consequently subject to imperial feudal service, the imperial
courts, and the whims and needs of the emperor himself. On the other hand, J ews
were also caught in a dangerous triangle that put them within the reach of civic
authority and the increasingly powerful grasp of regional and territorial lords.
72
The
bundling of protective relationships at the hands of a great territorial lord led to a
certain collectivization of the J ews in a given land or region,
73
that had both external
as well as internal consequences. J ewish courts, for example, tended to become
regional in the sixteenth century, with ve central courts emerging.
74
As we will see,
however, despite such regional boundaries, J ews frequently traveled beyond them,
and related to J ews in other regions.
Despite the formal expulsion of the J ews from Augsburg in the early fteenth
century and from many cities throughout Bavaria and Swabia in the later Middle
Ages, signicant communities developed outside of some major cities by the middle
of the sixteenth century, such as in Pfersee, Kriegshaber, and Steppach outside
Augsburg and Frth outside Nuremberg. Of the 82 J ewish lenders noted between
1596 and 1603 lending to Christians in Augsburg, for example, 45 were listed with
origination names in Pfersee, 13 in Gnzburg, eight in Burgau, three in Steppach,
two in Kriegshaber, two in Fischach, and one in Binswagen.
75
The differing policies
70 Rolf Kiessling, Between Expulsion and Emancipation: J ewish Villages in East
Swabia During the Early Modern Period, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish
Studies, pp. 71ff.
71 Ibid., p. 70.
72 J . Friedrich Battenberg, Rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen jdischer Existenz in
der Frhneuzeit zwischen Reich und Territorium, in Kiessling (ed.), Judengemeinden in
Schwaben im Kontext des Alten Reiches, pp. 5379, here at pp. 57, 66ff.
73 Ibid., p. 72.
74 Friedrich Battenberg, Das Europische Zeitalter der Juden, 1: Von den Anfngen bis
1650 (2nd edn, Darmstadt, 2000), p. 238.
75 Sabine Ullmann, Leihen umb fahrend Hab und Gut: Der christlich-jsiche
Pfandhandel in der Reichsstadt Augsburg, in Kiessling and Ullmann (eds), Landjudentum
im deutschen Sdwesten whrend der Frhen Neuzeit, here at pp. 31011. Among the key
lenders were Isaac from Gnzburg (140 ., in late 1590s), Sesslin from Burgau (218 ., in
1599/1600), Seligman of Burgau (248 ., 1599/1600), Itzig of Pfersee (700 ., 1600/01),
Samuel of Gnzburg (600 ., 1601), Abraham of Gnzburg (360 ., 1601/02), and Solomon
of Wassertrdingen (195., 1601). See pp. 32535.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 78
toward Jews, combined with changing demographic and social conditions, led further
to the appearance of a rather large group of poor Jews, especially after the beginning
of the seventeenth century.
76
In Hamburg, the minutes of the Portuguese Jewish
community recorded that large amounts of money were set aside for both poor local
Jews and Jews dispersed throughout Europe and the Holy Land.
Indeed, the Jewish communities themselves were far from homogeneous.
Mordechai Breuer has posited a distinction between elite and folk religion in the
early modern period. The former, according to Breuer, focused on the Talmud,
philosophy, and the sciences and arts; the latter on the study of the Pentateuch, Rashis
commentary, and the narrative-moralizing parts of the Talmud.
77
Daily folk religion
of Jews, particularly in the rural areas, where Jews increasingly took up residence,
was centered on daily customsparticularly local or regional onesand was largely
oral.
78
The memorybooks are in many ways reections of the melding of a variety
of customs and concerns, and they offer an important portal to the world of regional
Jewish communities and the place of prominent Jewish families of high social and
economic standing.
The Jews in Pfersee and other suburban and rural areas had extensive regional
connections as well as signicant business contacts within the major cities. The history
of the Jewish community of Pfersee just outside Augsburg in Bavarian Swabia, and the
history and communal structure related in its memorybook, is complex.
The Pfersee Memorybook
The memorybook of the community of Pfersee began with instructions for the proper
time for reading it and the injunction to remember Rabbi Gershom for his ordinances
and the dissemination of knowledge among the Jews, Rabbi Solomon and his spouse
for the acquisition of the cemetery in Mainz and the pains taken for the community,
Rabbi Isaac and his wife in Koblenz, Rabbi Shimon bar Isaac and his companion for his
efforts on behalf of the community and his poetry and panegyrics to the Omnipresent.
The text proceeded to mention Rashi, Rabbenu Tam and the baalei Tosafot [the
Tosasts], our rabbi Meir son of ha-Rav Maharam, and a number of other sages
noted for their wisdom and perpetuation of Jewish learning.
At this point the text took on a more local quality, beginning with a lengthy entry for
Rabbi Shimon son of Eliezer, of blessed memory, of Ulma from Gnzburg because of
his exertions for the sake of the community for more than 40 years and the stopping of
the taxes, and purchasing of land for the cemetery in Burgau and enclosing himself
for the honor of God, May He be blessed, and for the honor of the deceased pious ones
in his frequent intercession to remove prohibitions at the hands of the gentiles and
76 Ibid., p. 235. See also Rudolf Glanz, Geschichte des niederen jdischen Volkes in
Deutschland: eine Studie ber historisches Gaunertum, Bettelwesen und Vagantentum (New
York, 1968).
77 Mordechai Breuer, J dische Religion und Kultur in den lndlichen Gemeinden
16001800, in Richarz and Rrup (eds), Jdisches Leben auf dem Lande, pp. 6978, here at
p. 72.
78 Ibid., p. 73.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 79
support the poor of the provinces of Swabia many years, as if feeding small children.
79
Rabbi Shimon Gnzburg was buried in Burgau, the passage concluded, on the ninth
of Shevat 5345 (1585).
Shimon Gnzburg was from the most important family of Jewish Swabia, the
Ulma-Gnzburg family.
80
The founding father of the family was likely Eliezer, or
Lazarus, Gnzburg, who belonged to the Jews expelled from Ulm, and who settled in
the small but increasingly important community of Gnzburg, later to be the central
community of landed Swabia in the sixteenth century. Lazarus was at the imperial
court in Innsbruch in 1534, and he secured in 1542 a Schutzbrief [letter of protection]
from the Bavarian Duke.
In many ways, Rabbi Shimon was the true progenitor of the memorybook. Many of
the subsequent entries were devoted to his familial relations and those of a handful of
other central personalities. To this extent, the memorybook was more a representation
of a rather oligarchic regional community. The central families were from Gnzburg
and Ulm, with important connections in Burgau, Worms, Frankfurt, and Prague. Of
the roughly 72 entries before the beginning of the eighteenth century, more than 60 per
cent were obviously from the Gnzburg line; the 20 references after the seventeenth
century seem to have been almost exclusively from the Ulma family.
In the memorybook, Rabbi Shimons wife (d. 1593 in Burgau) was noted for her
vows for charity. Mention was also made of the majority of his eight sons and eight
daughters, as well as a variety of other relatives. The dispersion of his children and
the relations developed and maintained with famous Jewish families in a very diverse
geographical radius tells us quite a bit about the conscious forging of elite Jewish
circlesin terms of both wealth and Torah learningand the high mobility of Jews,
the wealthy in particular. Such wide-ranging dispersion is evident in what we know
about some of Shimons sons, who included Rabbi Moses Abraham (d. 1591); Rabbi
Abraham, noted for both his community service and his redeeming of captives and
maintenance of the poor; Rabbi Asher Aron who served as Landesrabbiner of Swabia
around 1600; Rabbi Isaac, who traveled in his old age to Jerusalem where he was
buried; Rabbi Samuel Zanvil, who died in Worms (1630); Rabbi Jacob, noted for his
charity in Burgau; Rabbi Solomon, who died and was buried in Neuburg; and Rabbi
Eliezer who was matched with the daughter of Moses Isserles, and who died and was
buried in Safed.
81
Among Rabbi Shimons daughters, we nd Elah (d. 1594), who was married to
the renowned Gaon Rabbi Akiva Frankfurter;
82
Hanah (d. 1598/99 in Rankburg);
Saralah (d. 1604 in Frankfurt); Brunlin (d. 1617 in Worms); Biglin (d. in Frankfurt);
Frumet (d. in Worms); Adel (d. in Worms), who was the wife of the head of the Worms
79 p. 6 of the Pfersee memory booksee J . Perles, Das Memorbuch der Gemeinde
Pfersee, Monatsschrift fr Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 22 (1873): 50815.
80 Stefan Rohrbacher, Medinat Schwaben: jdisches Leben in einer sddeutschen
Landschaft in der Frhneuzeit, in Kiessling (ed.), Judengemeinden in Schwaben im Kontext
des Alten Reiches, pp. 80109, here at pp. 84ff.
81 Ibid.
82 Ibid., p. 87.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 80
community, Naftali Hirtz; and, Bonlin, who married the Gaon Rabbi Eliahu ttingen
in Frankfurt.
83
The text ended with a blessing for those who fulll the mitzvot (especially those
related to synagogue service), the Roman Emperor, a general blessing for the holiday
of Simhat Torah, a list of names found in the community of Mainz, general formularies
for the Sabbath before Shavuot and Tisha bAv [the ninth day of the month of Avwhen
many sorrowful events occurred in Jewish history, including the destruction of the
Temple], and a prayer for the sick. Included as well were blessings for the community
of Augsburg and a number of other south and west German communities, and regions,
including Swabia and Austria.
Like the Pfersee memorybook, most necrologies focused on the wealthy or
scholarly members of a community, or as we have indicated, the martyrs, though such
individuals were frequently sequestered in a special place of the text. At times they also
allow us to extract important, and otherwise un-discussed, information regarding both
internal and external events, such as social hierarchies, marriage alliances, scholarly
publications, travel, construction of synagogues, edicts against or in favor of Jews,
expulsions and pogroms, and so on.
A Comparison of Jewish and Christian Memorials
Among medieval Christians, the earliest written memorials of the dead, largely of
a liturgical nature, date form the Carolingian period.
84
The early Christian memorial
book, librum vitae, included the name and position of the deceased at times, though
infrequently the origin name and hardly ever the year of death.
85
Like the later Jewish
martyrological lists of the crusade period, the necrologies of Cluny, for example, were
nothing more than extensive lists of names.
86
Particularly in the later Middle Ages and
early modern period, the nature of the memorials seems to have shifted in some places,
adding more detail about the individual and the deeds for which he or she should be
remembered.
87
A quick comparison with an early modern German Christian memorial from an
autobiography highlights the signicant commonalities and some increasing trends
in the later Middle Ages and early modern period. In the autobiography of Georg von
Ehingen (14281508), for example, we nd the following account:
Item, this Rudolff von Ehingen was completely Christian, honest, and highly sensible. He
was also as a person completely well proportioned. He also helped build many churches,
the foundations and good deeds of the elders, which they wanted to dispatch, open, and
83 Ibid.
84 Das Mariasteiner Anniversar Totenbuch-lebensbuch: Verzeichnis der Gedchtnistage
im ehemaligen Augustinerinnen Kloster Mariasteiner bei Eichsttt/Bay, prepared by Ortrun
Fina (Regensburg, 1987), p. 8.
85 Ibid., p. 7.
86 See J oachim Wollasch (ed.), Synopse der Cluniacensischen Necrologien, 2 vols
(Munich, 1982).
87 See Das Mariasteiner Anniversar Totenbuch-lebensbuch, pp. 29ff, particularly during
the sixteenth century.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 81
renew. He did much work, which the commune, prelates, counts, or noble people contracted.
He was also completely amicable: when he understood a matter, he therefore brought it
generally honorably to peace
88
The characteristics highlighted here were very similar to those in the Jewish
memorybooks. They stressed church and community service, as well as positive
personal qualities. The language of Jewish and Christian memorials bore a good
deal of eulogizing similarity, emphasizing the qualities considered by the community
leaders as ideal and central. It is of course not merely chance that some qualities were
recorded and others not. The purpose of most memorybooks was certainly to shape
and reinforce desired cultural values and religious observances, while publicizing the
role of central families.
The memorybooks in a sense recreated history through their particularized
remembering and emphasis. Community was created utilizing the names and deeds of
the dead within a liturgical cycle of remembrance; community was therefore extended in
both time and space. Along the way, the memorybooks offered some information on how
some members of the communities conceptualized the correct ordering of society.
Between Tradition and Integration
In a similar way, the memory of the dead on gravestones held great power for those
still alive.
89
Gravestones continued the medieval bi-directional communication
between living and dead. In Prague, according to Rachel Greenblatt, gravestone
inscriptions reveal two approaches to describing the deceased: mourning and, more
commonly, commemoration.
90
One gravestone, dated J uly 1628, for Hendl, daughter
of Evril Gronim, wife of J acob Bassevi von Treuenberg, declared:
Where is the pious one, where is she who typied humility:
In piety, in modesty; in holiness, and in purity:
Her exit [from this world] did not differ from her entry:
She ran to [perform] a lesser commandment as to a weighty one:
And she became the foundation stone:
To the afternoon service as to the morning she hastened:
And her heart was [directed] faithfully to God:
In fear, in awe, in clear language:
Following the order and the law according to Rabbi Hamnuna:
To the candle of commandment (mitzvah) and the Torah of light:
She stretched out her arm and held tightly with her right [hand]:
91
88 Horst Wenzel, Die Autobiographie des spten Mittelalters und der frhen Neuzeit, I:
Die Selbstdeutung des Adels (Munich, 1980), p. 29.
89 Rachel L. Greenblatt, The Shapes of Memory: Evidence in Stone from the Old Jewish
Cemetery in Prague, Yearbook of the Leo Baeck Institute 47 (2002): 4367, here at p. 50.
90 Ibid., p. 51.
91 Ibid., p. 52.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 82
Qualities such as respectability, propriety, and modesty were referenced. Men were
similarly often characterized as pious, honest, and faithful.
92
In assessing the gravestone of a wealthy individual, Greenblatt notes that the
stone was commemorative history, detailing unique actions while also equating the
actions with traditional typologies and gures (in this case Mordecai and Esther). At
the same time, the stone did not provide sufcient details for those unfamiliar with
the details to understand them; it served instead as a short-hand reminder of longer
narratives, written or not, with which the person reading the inscription is assumed
to be familiar.
93
Such changes represent the early murmurings of a shift in the
processes of memory, Greenblatt insists.
94
Such early modern memories assumed
that readers, listeners, or viewers would understand the events and accomplishments
presented within a traditional J ewish context. At the same time, they presupposed a
vision of community that was still bound geographically and chronologically. The
early modern narrative of the past was here caught between traditional engagement
with the past and more modern estrangement from the past. In between, however,
a very particular notion of community and identity were assumed.
Memorial and Autobiography: The Memoirs of Glckel of Hameln
The late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century account of Glckel of Hameln
further illustrates this change. Not a memorybook itself, Glckels memoir nonetheless
offers an interesting point of comparison in the remembrance of the deaths of her
rst and second husbands. Glckels description of her husbands may, in this light,
reveal a great deal about her sense of family and self. While it is clear that Glckel
understood and represented her two husbands quite differently, the comparison
allows us to peer into the broader methods of and meanings associated with memory
of the dead in early modern Germany. In writing about her rst husband Hayyim,
Glckel notes that her beloved was torn from her and left eight forlorn children.
She attributed his death to her own sins. Ironically, it was Glckel who was often
sick, and she expected to end her life rst. But, she continues,
No doubt, because of his piety God took him rst, so that he died in riches and honour and
did not live to see evil days. He had attained great wealth, he had married off his children
to his satisfaction, and as for himself, he was a true soul and of noble repute. One can say
of him, he was a happy man for, as Solon said, he died happy.
Now you know, children of my heart, the story of Reb Chayim Hameln, your dear departed
father. How good and beautiful it would have been had God left us together, so that side by
side we could have led all our children beneath the wedding canopy! But my sins found
me out, and I was not worthy of it.
Glckel writes that her husbands death left her desolate and encouraged her to write
these memoirs.
92 Ibid., p. 53.
93 Ibid., p. 56.
94 Ibid., p. 66.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 83
He left me in desolation, and my woes came new every morning. I shall tell thereof in
my fth book, alas, a book of bitter lament, like the lamentation for Zion.
The money and goods my husband bequeathed me, though plentiful enough, are as naught
against this uncountable loss.
Now I will close my fourth bookmay God bring us joy again, as He has brought me
sorrow, and Thou one and only God, have mercy on my orphaned children.
95
Glckels representation stressed Gods wrath, her own sins, and the great loss she
and her children suffered. Glckel emphasized Hayyims pietythat is why God
took him rstas well as the great wealth he amassed and the successes he had
marrying off his children. He died with riches and honor, of noble repute. In line with
her emphasis on honor throughout her memoirs, her memory of her rst husband
stressed what she found so central in her expanding world. But in a moralizing twist,
she noted that all of the money and goods were nothing compared with the loss of
her husband, who himself was the embodiment of nobility and honor, combining
both social standing and traditional J ewish values. Compare this description with
Glckels account of the death of her second husband, Hirsch:
My husband fell ill at the tidings, and he took them so to heart that he succumbed beneath
the worry and anguish of it. For he was an ever sickly man and had suffered woefully from
the gout, and now this added blow struck him to the ground.
His son Rabbi Samuel saw that he lacked for nothing, sending him whatever he needed,
and ordered his agent in Metz to provide him with whatever he asked for, but all his care
proved of no avail. Rabbi Samuel sent him a highly reputed physician to apply various
cures. The physician remained at his side a number of days and tried his remedies; but as
soon as he had laid eyes on him, he said, the man is doomedas the event proved.
The Almighty God took him back to Himself forever, and of a surety he dwells in the
world to come.
He was parnas of the community for long years, and he had in truth risked his life in its
defenceof which much could be written. But I do not nd it necessary.
96
Unlike the noble Hayyim, Hirsch was not taken by God because of his piety, rather
he fell ill because he succumbed to worry, one might say to worldly issues. In his
very nature he was sickly and often suffering. Despite the fact that he lacked for
nothing and had the best medical carethe trappings of nobilityhe could not be
saved; indeed his fate was evident to the physician himself. Although he was parnas
for many years and did much on behalf of his community, Glckel saw little need
to describe his actions or accomplishments, which though clearly signicant enough
to mention were not part of an intrinsic nobility she was more prepared to describe
95 The Memoirs of Glckel of Hameln, pp. 1445 (Yiddish (Glikl Hamil, Zichroines
(Buenos Aires, 1967)), pp. 21516).
96 Ibid., p. 263 (Yiddish, p. 338).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 84
for Hayyim. Whatever her particular relationship with her husbands, Glckels
narrative depicts the powerful relationship between the world of the living and the
dead. Indeed, the very process of narrating the past brought the dead to life, if only
metaphorically and morally. As de Certeau has argued regarding the very nature of
writing history, Historiography tends to prove that the site of its production can
encompass the past; it is an odd procedure that posits death, a breakage everywhere
reiterated in discourse, and that yet denies loss by appropriating to the present the
privilege of recapitulating the past as a form of knowledge. A labor of death and a
labor against death.
97
Glckels constant intertwining of narratives of the past and honor is important
in understanding the relationship of memory and social power. As one scholar has
asserted recently, Glckels autobiographical writing should be understood as social
practice.
98
For Glckel, the purpose of recounting past events seems to have been
largely directed at the honor of her familyperhaps a reection of the growing
and important court J ews, but also reective of broader interests in concepts of
honor in early modern German society.
99
Many passages related to honor. A few
examples sufce: fourteen days before the marriage we set forth with timbrels
and with dances, twenty strong, for Cleves, where we were welcomed with all
honours;
100
the rich J udah Berlin, together with his wife and all the friends of his
house, honoured us with his presence at the ceremony, to the great astonishment of
everyone, for he had hitherto never deigned attend a wedding among the Vienna
J ews;
101
I was accorded every honour in Frankfort that a woman could receive, and
as indeed I had enjoyed throughout my journey, more in truth than I deserved. Above
all I recall the honours paid me in Frth.
102
97 Michel De Certeau, The Writing of History, p. 5.
98 See Gabriele Jancke, Glikls Autobiographie im Kontext frneuzeitlicher
autobiographische Schriften, in Richarz (ed.), Die Hamburger Kauffrau Glikl: Jdische
Existenz in der Frhen Neuzeit, pp. 91122, here at p. 108.
99 Regarding marriages and social status in Glckels writing, see Rotraud Ries, Status
und Lebensstil, pp. 2837.
100 The Memoirs of Glckel of Hameln, p. 97 (Yiddish, p. 168).
101 Ibid., p. 176 (Yiddish, p. 251).
102 Ibid., p. 236 (Yiddish, p. 314). Other examples include the following: He provided
for her the rest of her lifeseventeen years she remained in his houseand honoured her as
though she were his own mother (p. 19; Yiddish, p. 57); Sunday, the 24th of Tebet, 5449,
he was buried with all honour (p. 152; Yiddish, p. 223); and [we] remained there [in south
Germany] overnight. I cannot begin to tell you of the honours heaped upon us (p. 205;
Yiddish, p. 277); My son Samuel and his father-in-law, the rich Moses Bamberg, proposed to
do us the honour of accompanying us for several miles (p. 206; Yiddish, p. 278); Meanwhile
a dinner was served like a banquet in the days of King Solomon. I cannot tell you what a good
and wise man is Moses Bamberg and the honours he does to men (p. 206; Yiddish, p. 278);
What, then, availed her all her wealth and honours? (p. 216; Yiddish, p. 287); Shall I write
you of how they treated me? There would be too much to tell. May the Father of goodness
reward them! They paid me all the honours in the world. The best of everything was placed
on my plate, more than I wanted or deserved, and I fear lest God count these bounties against
my merits, which, alas, are few enough (p. 265; Yiddish, pp. 33940).
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 85
Honor, in the sense of some of these passages included an emphasis on the
formalities of greeting, ceremony, kindness, hospitality, wealth, and proper
recognition. As such, honor was usually bestowed upon not inherent in. Honor
was a part of the self, but in so far as that self was viewed within the public and
was active. Honor, as recounted by Glckel, gave the past meaning. It was her
recollection of these acts that served to string Glckels narrative together and to
give it real value. Given the centrality of trade and economics, the evolving court
J ewry, and the solidication of an emerging J ewish middle class by the end of the
sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, the concept of honor may
have become much more central than before. The importance of honor in Christian,
particularly urban, mercantile, and ruling circles needs also to be stressed. Neither
honor nor dishonor always had clear meanings and usage, and they did not need to
be necessarily associated with wealth, however, the concepts of honor and dishonor
were being utilized and discussed more widely at the end of the seventeenth century
than at the beginning.
103
Memorial: Comparative Perspectives
To what extent were the memories recalled and the past reconstructed in the J ewish
sources reective of broader social and cultural developments? The memorybooks,
both with the type of issues raised and the family-orientation, resonate with early
modern noble chronicles that became widespread in the sixteenth century. According
to Erica Bastress-Dukehart, the writing of a chronicle could bring new energy to
a dying lineage.
104
In the same way that the Habsburgs sought to legitimize their
lineage as an essential component of a national and regional identity,
105
noble
chronicles could cast the history of a particular family as a microcosm of the larger
regional society in which the nobles lived.
106
Bastress-Dukehart maintains that by
memoralizing relationships within their community, they drew attention to the
increasingly important issue of how their lineages had been historically constituted,
and that inherited land and ancestral memory manifested the nobilitys social image
and demonstrated its political power.
107
Emphasizing moral training and moral
obligations, humanists themselves legitimized the ctionalization of historical
materials for didactic purposes.
108
Fostering an attachment to a sentimental past,
and establishing the truth of the nobilitys perceived hierarchy,
109
nobles sought
to apply the insights they found in the ancient texts to their current conditions. And
they learned how to enhance historical details, how to bring their ancestors honor
and reputation forward to heal the wounds of their dispute with the emperor, as
103 See Kathy Stuart, Deled Trades and Social Outcasts: Honor and Ritual Pollution in
Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 2, 11, 16, 11516.
104 Erica Bastress-Dukehart, The Zimmern Chronicle: Nobility, Memory and Self-
Representation in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Aldershot, 2002), p. 2.
105 Ibid., p. 20.
106 Ibid., p. 3.
107 Ibid., p. 8.
108 Ibid., p. 11.
109 Ibid., pp. 245.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 86
they simultaneously cast their own accomplishments backward to draw attention
toand occasionally to rewritethe history of their forebears.
110
As the Zimmern
Chronicles themselves note the lineage and the status of the Zimmern family was
attested to by ancient legend as well as by many knowledgeable people.
111
J ewish memory in the later Middle Ages and early modern period was developed for
both historical and communal and individual purposes; it could be socially-stratied,
liturgical, ritual, and historical. J ewish memory as presented in the memorybooks
could create the community, whether local, regional, or universal, as a holy entity,
stressing the ideal behavior of its members and its internal interdependence. The
J ewish community could be placed within a geographical and historical context that
connected it with communities more broadly dened by both J ews themselves and
their Christian and secular lords.
But the memorybooks did not merely reveal a social insularity that the great
social historian J acob Katz found in pre-modern J ewry; nor did they reveal a J ewry
devoid of real historical thought as Yerushalmi posited. The increasing usage of
memorybooks in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century belied a belief in the
central function of the past as a means to self-understanding and representation.
To a certain extent all of history was used for much more than objective historical
understanding; the memorybooks were certainly no exception. They did, however,
reect a basic historical consciousness that stressed the importance of J ewish
connections to a broader pastnot just the immediate or distant past that many
historians have been willing to concede. In the end, memorybooks are but one piece
in a larger mosaic that allows us to consider how J ewish memory created, and was
used in the service of the creation of, J ewish community in early modern Germany.
Autobiography and the Role of the Past
With increasing frequency in the early modern period (more than 200 autobiographical
texts extant), reckoning of the past took the form of autobiography and memoir writing.
Some have attributed this growth to supposed increased self-awareness in Protestant
theology,
112
others an alleged growth of individualism as apparent in broader early
modern societal developments such as social mobility, confessional conict, and
growing political administration and disciplining.
113
The subject of autobiographies
in early modern Germany has received a great deal of attention in the past several
decades. Indeed, scholars have expanded their work on a variety of sources with
autobiographical information beyond the simple category of autobiographies to
110 Ibid., pp. 89.
111 See Zimmerische Chronik, ed. Karl August Barack, 4 vols (Freiburg im Breisgau,
188182), here at vol. 1, pp. 245.
112 See, for example, Gabriele J ancke, Autobiographische Texte Handlungen in
einem Beziehungsnetz: berlegungen zu Gattungsfragen und Machtaspekten im deutschen
Sprachraum von 1400 bis 1620, in Winfried Schulze (ed.), Ego-Dokumente: Annherung an
den Menschen in der Geschichte (Berlin, 1996), pp. 73106, here at pp. 734.
113 See Winfried Schulze, Ego-Dokumente: Annherung an den Menschen in der
Geschichte? Vorberlegungen fr die Tagung Ego-Dokumente, in idem, Ego-Dokumente,
pp. 1130.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 87
include diaries, memoirs, travel books, and even court records. This broader genre of
material has been referred to in German literature as ego-documents (also referred
to as personal documents, human documents, moral documents, or documents
of life).
114
As has been noted for the case of Spain, autobiographical writing could have
various geographical, political, religious, and literary contexts and stimuli.
115
Autobiographies could also be central in the formation and manipulation of networks
of relationships, including those between the authors and readers or recipients of the
works. Autobiographies might also be communications strategies intended to exert
some form of inuence or to engage various religious or political power relations or
conditions in society.
116
Often times, autobiographical writing was composed for the authors children
or relatives. It was frequently attributed to some personal crisis or to combat later
forgetfulness or even as a means of remembering previous life events.
117
There
was clearly a great diversity of reasons for writing, but like memorials, Jewish and
Christian memoirs of the period often developed memories of the past for very specic
social and cultural functions.
118
The memoirs of the Jew Asher Levy (15981635) of
Reichshofen in Alsace, for example, were replete with discussions about and uses of
memory.
119
Levys account was a mix of chronicle narrative and personal reection that
bordered on a confessional. Levy, the son of Eliezer ha-Levy and relative of Cerf Levy
in Metz (the second husband of Glckel of Hameln), compiled part of the memoirs in
Reichshofen after 1620, and part in Oberbronn in 1633;
120
the document was concluded
during the winter of 163435.
121
Levy described his work in the following terms:
This is the door to eternity, into which the righteous come Book of the remembrances
Rich is his nourishment (Gen 49:20), in order to lead hearts in memory of the events and
happenings of the time, which have happened and for all the members of my family from
114 See the Vorbemerkung (p. 9) and the Schulbemerkung (p. 344), both by Winfried
Schulze, ibid.
115 See J ames S. Amelang, Spanish Autobiography in the Early Modern Era, in Schulze
(ed.), Ego-Dokumente, pp. 5971, here at 669.
116 J ancke, Autobiographische Texte, pp. 1036. J ancke examined the autobiographical
writings of J osel of Rosheim, Katharina Zell, and J akob Andreae.
117 Rudolf Dekker, Ego-Dokumente in den Niederlanden vom 16. bis zum 17.
J ahrhundert, in Schulze (ed.), Ego-Dokumente, pp. 3357, here at pp. 4852.
118 Wenzel, Die Autobiographie des spten Mittelalters und der frhen Neuzeit, for
Wilwolt von Schaumburg (14461510), p. 91. Regarding the role of politics in writings of
J osel of Rosheim, who we meet more fully in Chapter 5, see J ancke, Autobiographische
Texte, pp. 7884.
119 Levy apparently had an interest in more traditional historical writing as well and
he made a copy of one of the Crusade chronicles that was eventually bound together with
other J ewish historical manuscripts. See Eva Haverkamp, Hebrische Berichte ber die
Judenverfolgungen whrend des Ersten Kreuzzugs (Hannover, 2005). Thanks to Stephen
Burnett for this citation.
120 Die Memoiren des Ascher Levy aus Reischshofen im Elsass (15981635), trans. M.
Ginsburger (Berlin, 1913), p. 60.
121 Ibid., p 6.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 88
today on, since the eternal has led me out from the light to the darkness, in the darkness of
time and its currents in this low world. And I would like therefore the day of death to be as
the day of birth, without sin and free of guilt. Therefore, I decided to register with honorable
pen for the preservation of the good and the evil I have still added to it, at the conclusion
of the book to record everything that has happened to my children And further, I have still
registered there, that which has happened to the Jewish people in my time, beginning with
the day of my birth, Friday, the 3
rd
of Ellul 358 (1598).
122
The memoirs cobbled together a variety of events and observations. They included
central reference to the importance of study and revealed a great number of Jewish
geographical destinations. The time computation of the memoirs was often exacting,
for when Levy made central personal references, such as his marriage or the birth of
children, he noted very specically the year and number of days of his life: at that
time I was 19 years and 18 days old
123
or, in 1622, at that time I was 24 years and
3 months and 3 days old.
124
At times, Levy provided very precise measurements of
time, as when he noted that his daughter was, with luck, born on Sunday between the
third and fourth hours of the day,
125
or while traveling that we were not a half an hour
distant from there.
126
Like most chronicles of the period, Levy discussed a variety of environmental
conditions, such as oods and droughts.
127
And while the memoirs certainly captured
some of the broader imperial historical events, particularly as being played out in
the Thirty Years War,
128
such reections were generally linked to the experiences of
Jews or his own family. Indeed, owing through the memoirs were recollections of
family
129
and great Jewish sages.
130
And perhaps even more striking was the moral and
confessional tone of much of the writing. Like other writers we have seen in the early
modern period, Levy was quick to point out the effects of our many sinsas in large
numbers of deaths or more general suffering.
131
At times, however, the sins of which
he wrote were very much of a more personal nature. He noted, for example, that And
now, on the day of the emergency, I remembered the sins of my youth.
132
But mention
of such sins was not an empty gesture; the sins served as catalysts for the discussion
of repentance, as when he wrote that and from today on and further I would change
things for the good.
133
122 Ibid., p 9.
123 Ibid., p. 16.
124 Ibid., p. 22.
125 Ibid., p. 28.
126 Ibid., p. 53.
127 Ibid., p. 23: in spring and summer of 385 (1625) it did not rain at the correct time.
See also p. 24.
128 Ibid., p. 17.
129 Ibid., p. 18, for example.
130 See ibid., pp. 20ff.
131 Ibid., pp. 25, 26.
132 Ibid., p. 26.
133 Ibid., p. 27.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 89
Throughout the memoirs, it was consciously the power of God that was stressed.
God could punish.
134
However, Levy, and the Jews more generally, were able to tap
into this power and Gods mercy through prayer. In fact, the memoirs at times read
like a series of interconnected confessions and prayers. Levy wrote that: God, may
you fulll for me all my wishes and give me favor and grace and joy, prosperity and
luck, life and peace from now until eternity. Amen.
135
God did save Levy, and Levy
responded by recording the events for his successors:
And God rescues us in his mercifulness and because of the merit of our fathers. Look in the
second part, where I described all this thoroughly. Therefore I have taken upon myself and
my descendants for the remembrance of the miracle, praised be God, to give thanks and
praise, to fast in every year, as God wants, on the 17th of Adar, falling next to Nisan, and
to be merry and happy on the following 18th of Adar every year, and to tell the miracle of
God, except, if a matter of religious duty, for example a brit milah [circumcision] and the
like, should occur for me Thus says Asher Levi, who accepts this upon himself and upon
his descendants after him.
136
In many ways, Levys more renowned relative, Glckel of Hameln wrote very similarly
oriented memoirs. Her work has received a great deal of attention both because of its
own merit and because it represents one of the few examples of Jewish womens writings
in the medieval and early modern periods. Glckel was referred to as Glikl in Yiddish;
and the von Hameln referred to the hometown of her rst husband Hayyim. Glckel
herself was born in Hamburg in 1646 or 1647 as one of six children of Judah Joseph
Leib, a trader and notable of the German-Jewish community, and the businesswoman
Beila, daughter of Nathan Melrich of Altona. When Glckel turned 12 years old she was
betrothed to Hayyim, the son of the trader Joseph ben Baruch Daniel Samuel ha-Levi
(Segal), and known as Joseph Goldschmidt or Joseph Hamel, who was a few years older
than her. (Some of her daughters used the name Hamel and some Goldschmidt.)
When Glckel wrote her memoirs her children ranged in age from 2 to 28, and she
was clearly writing for herselfas she notedas much as for them.
137
Glckel wrote
the rst four books and the opening sections of book 5 in 1689; the rest of book 5 was
composed in the 1690s, book 6 in 1702, book 7 in 1715, and the nal paragraph in
1719.
138
Her work helps to illustrate several important developments reected in early
modern autobiographical writing.
As Natalie Davis notes, the memoirs are in a very real sense a book of moral tales
and religious injunctions, shaped by major life cycle events.
139
But they were also much
more. Glckel was a gifted storyteller, with the capacity to shape her narrative very
consciously and with great poignancy. As Davis argues, the storyteller can move into
the way others remember the past and change it merely by introducing an unexpected
134 Ibid., p. 60.
135 Ibid., p. 43.
136 Ibid., p. 51.
137 See Natalie Davis, Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives
(Cambridge, MA, 1995), p. 6; for a more formal background see pp. 8ff.
138 Ibid., p. 30.
139 Ibid., p. 31.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 90
detail into a familiar account. Everything depends on the skill of the teller, on how she
or he takes the stories from the collective treasury of legends or everyday conversation
and puts them into play.
140
Davis notes that Glckel details her reasons for writing at the very beginning of
the memoirs:
In my great grief and for my hearts ease I began this book the year of Creation 5451 [1690
91]God soon rejoice us and send us His redeemer! I began writing it, dear children, upon
the death of your good father, in the hope of distracting my soul from the burdens laid upon it,
and the bitter thought that we have lost our faithful shepherd. In this way I have managed to live
through many wakeful nights, and springing from my bed shortened the sleepless hours.
141
But Glckel crafted a palpable tension throughout the volume: at the same time that
she very deliberately selected events and developed the narrative, she reiterated that
the past was of no consequence
142
and was unchangeable.
143
The conclusion to be
drawn, then, was that it was precisely the morals that one could learn from the past and
from all of lifes encounters that was really signicant and that one should look to God
for assistance and direction. The past was, as it were, a broad canvas, upon which one
could paint a more truthful life. Of course, the mix of secular and temporal events with
moral lessons created a tension that infused the account. Radical social and economic
changes, which we noted at the beginning of this chapter, were here placed within a
more traditional Jewish framework.
Much of Glckels memoirs were based on her own experiences and what she
had heard from family. She wrote, for example, that, Before I was three years old,
the German Jews, I am told, were all driven out of Hamburg. Thereupon they settled
in Altona, which belonged to the King of Denmark, who readily gave them letters of
protection. This city of Altona lies barely a quarter of an hour from Hamburg.
144
As
such, Glckels narrative gave in to internal political tensions and familial events. In
recalling her fathers communal leadership, she noted that,
The community prospered during the presidency of my father, so it could be said that they
sat every man under his vine and under his g tree. In its own name, it owed not a penny of
debt. I do recall, however, while I was yet a child, certain scoundrels arose against my father
and his fellow ofcials, and sought to injure the community. Two of them managed to elicit
letters from the government conveying them the right to be parnasim by royal authority.
Now that they are dead and stand in judgment before the Most High, I will not name them,
but everyone in our community well knows who they were.
145
140 Ibid., p. 7.
141 Ibid., p. 1.
142 Glckel of Hameln, Memoirs, The whole matter, like everything else in my book,
is of no consequence and I have written it down merely to drive away the idle melancholy
thoughts that torment me (pp. 7980 (Yiddish, p. 142)).
143 Ibid., But these things are all over and done, and we cannot change the past. All that
remains for me is to pray to God I hear and see nothing but good of my children (pp. 2278
(Yiddish, p. 299)).
144 Davis, Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives, p. 6.
145 Ibid., pp. 212.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 91
Mixed throughout this passage was the authority of the narrator, when recalling
events from her childhood, as well as traceable community evidencenot owing
debt and the fact that everyone in our community knows who they are. Notice that
those who opposed her father, and therefore simultaneously injured the community,
were clearly scoundrels and were being judged by God Himself. As we noted above
in Chapter 3 and earlier in this chapter, the social context within which Glckel
navigated was of great importance to her work. The concept of honor, for example,
that was so central in early modern German culture more generally, had tremendous
resonance throughout the memoirs, and, as we will see, through other non-J ewish
memoirs of the period as well.
In addition to what we may see as more factual, or at least more rst-hand
impressions, there was a large and varied group of morality tales, both J ewish and
non-J ewish, that Glckel had likely heard and read, and then reassembled into her
narrative. These tales transcended any specic context or historical event. However,
when combined with stories of her own past, such as a group of rabbis swindling a
householder, they took on dramatic and very relevant qualities. Glckels accounting
even of more recent events was backward looking and meant to serve the larger
narrative. Her recounting of the Shabbetai Sevi debacle,
146
for example, while
retelling past and important events, ended up demonstrating something more of a
moral lesson for her own time.
It is worth developing the context for Glckel in more detailfor what that
context can tell us about the complexities of early modern German J ewish life, as well
as what that context can provide in the process of assessing the memoirs and some
of the observations made above. At the middle of the seventeenth century Hamburg
was a free and Hanseatic city, a thriving cosmopolitan port of more than 60,000
people. It was a commercial center and nancial market that offered connections
to Spain, Russia, London, and the New World. In Hamburg, two different J ewish
communities developedone Sephardic, the other Ashkenazic. The Sephardic, or
more appropriately Portuguese, J ews were generally better off economically, part
of the Hamburg aristocracy, and more fully acculturated with the Christian society
and culture that surrounded them. Hamburgs Sephardim tended to speak and
write in Portuguese, unlike their poorer, less acculturated German brethren, who
communicated largely in high German or western Yiddish.
The rst J ews to settle in Hamburg were wealthy Marranos from Spain and
Portugal at the end of the sixteenth century. They initially concealed their religious
views, and when their J udaizing was uncovered some non-J ewish residents
demanded that they be expelled. The city council opposed an expulsion, perhaps in
large part for economic reasons. The J ews were very inuential in local and regional
nance, and in fact some J ewish nanciers helped to found the Bank of Hamburg
in 1619. J ews contributed to the economy in other ways as well. In 1612, the J ews
of Hamburg paid 1,000 marks in annual tax, a gure that was doubled by 1617.
J ews also functioned in a variety of important professions, such as shipbuilding,
importing, weaving, goldsmithing, and diplomacy.
146 See The Memoirs of Glckel of Hameln, p. 46 (Yiddish, p. 104).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 92
As early as 1611, there were three Sephardic synagogues in Hamburg, with a
joint cemetery in Altona. These three combined under the name Beth Israel in 1652.
Among the prominent people who lived for a time in Hamburg was Uriel da Costa
(15851640) (between 1616 and 1617). There was also a pronounced Shabbatean
wave in 1666, to which Glckel referred in her memoirs.
The history of the Ashkenazic community in Hamburg developed differently. As
early as 1583, the pearl dealer Isaak aus Salzufeln was in Altona doing business and
since 1600, German J ews were admitted to Wandsbek. In 1611 some Ashkenazic
J ews settled in Altona, under Danish rule. Only in 1627 did Ashkenazim actually
begin to settle in Hamburg, but festival services continued to be held in Altona and
disputes were submitted to the rabbi in Altona. With the large number of refugees
from Poland in 1648, the clergy in Hamburg began instigating against Ashkenazic
J ews, leading to their formal expulsion from the city in 1649. A large number of J ews
went on to Amsterdam, though most moved to Altona and some to Wandsbek; a few
remained in Hamburg in the homes of Sephardic J ews. Within a few years, many
of the Ashkenazim returned to Hamburg. In 1671 the three communitiesAltona,
Hamburg, Wandsbekunited to form the AHW congregation, with a rabbinic
seat in Altona. In 1674 and 1697 renewed attempts to expel the German J ews were
thwarted by the city council. In 1710 these J ews were allowed to have their own
community, or Gemeinde, in Hamburg.
As this brief overview makes clear, internal J ewish social order was complex, at
times extremely unbalanced, and reliant in important ways upon the broader social
and political developments throughout Germany. In competing for legitimacy and
privilegeindeed, for the permission to remain in their areas of residencethe
economic role of the J ews as well as their broader social and political connections
were central. Questions of lineage and descent and of courtly intrigue were much
discussed and had signicant impact for these external purposes as well as for
internal order as well.
Many of the same reections on social issuessuch as lineage, honor, and
nobilitywere much discussed in early modern German literature and played out
in various circles of German society. Some of these discussions sought to legitimate
religious orientations or reinforce developing social trends and increasing disparity.
Other literature offered scathing criticisms of contemporary culture and the prevalence
of social posturing through recourse to past generations. A brief comparison with two
pieces of literature in the autobiographical vein helps to illuminate this argument.
The rst is something of an autobiographical chronicle of Friedrich Breckling; the
second, Hans J akob Christoffel von Grimmelshausens classic The Adventurous
Simplicissimus.
147
Friedrich Breckling, born in 1629 in Handweitt bei Flensburg (and died 1711)
was a dissenter, enthusiast, theosophist, chiliast, mystic, and social critic who was
opposed by some Lutherans of his age. He was the son of a parish priest, who
147 For a comparison of Glckels autobiographical writing with that of other early
modern writers, see Gabriele J ancke, Glikls Autobiographie im Kontext frneuzeitlicher
autobiographische Schriften, in Richarz (ed.), Die Hamburger Kauffrau Glikl, pp. 91122,
here at pp. 10812.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 93
sympathized with the spirituality and piety of J ohann Arndt. A student at a number
of renowned universities, he also studied with some of the luminary scholars of early
modern Germany, including Georg Calixt and Hermann Conring, as well as leading
Lutheran authorities in Knigsberg, Wittenberg, Leipzig, J ena, and Giessen.
148
Intrigued by the works of the late medieval mystic J ohann Tauler, Breckling began a
career of spiritualism that took him to Strasbourg and eventually to the Netherlands,
in Zwolle, Amsterdam, and at the end of his life in The Hague.
Like other autobiographies of the time, Brecklings is clearly intended to establish
his pedigree, with regard to his lineage and the clerical position of his predecessors.
He records the births, baptisms, and deaths of relatives,
149
as well his intellectual
development and accomplishments, especially as demonstrated in his travels,
readings, and publications,
150
and also his personal struggles and disputes.
151
Breckling begins his autobiography by briey recounting his family history:
Genealogia. Our lineage is from Brecklum, since the Reformation the Brecklingers
were preachers, pious in life and correct in teaching.
152
Breckling goes on to mention
his uncle, respected by King Christian IV of Denmark, and his father, a preacher in
Flensburg for more than 40 years. Breckling next breaks into a discussion of his
siblings and other family members, with particular details about those who were or
were related to preachers or pastors. His grandfather on his mothers side, for example,
preached for over 40 years in Flensburg.
153
The entire opening of the autobiography,
therefore, in a sense established Brecklings bona des and orthodoxy.
Brecklings autobiography is a chronological tour of his life and family, focusing
on signicant scholarly publications, political events, and like many of the chronicles
of his day the weather patterns and catastrophes of the time that seemed to portend
the End Times.
154
He briey mentions, for example, the Turkish siege of Vienna,
155
signicant earthquakes,
156
plagues,
157
comets,
158
as well as various oods and severe
winters.
159
The severe ooding of 1671, for example, is seen as a sign and predecessor
of the French war. A comet, large light star, and a red cross in the moon are portents
for a plague that he writes killed half a million people in and around Constantinople
in 1673.
160
Brecklings brief autobiographical writing includes a wide range of
chronological accounting that presents very particular events to legitimate his
148 Friedrich Breckling, Autobiographie: Ein frhneuzeitliches Ego-Dokument im
Spannungsfeld von Spiritualismus, radikalen Pietismus und Theosophie, ed. J ohann Anselm
Steoger (Tbingen, 2005). See his account on p. 15, for example.
149 Ibid., p. 35, for example.
150 Ibid., p. 23, for example.
151 See ibid., p. 34, for example.
152 Ibid., p. 1.
153 Ibid., p. 5.
154 Ibid., pp. 1326.
155 Ibid., p. 55.
156 Ibid., pp. 71, 97.
157 Ibid., pp. 40, 48, 50.
158 Ibid., pp. 39, 45, 51, 52.
159 Ibid., p. 38, for example.
160 Ibid., p. 40.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 94
lineage and theology and that serves to record monumental events of recent history
in something of an apocalyptic vein. The writing is certainly a constructed narrative
and one that reveals his particular world-views and concerns.
Another, albeit ctional autobiographical writing (destined to become one of the
classics of early modern German literature) that sheds light on the social and cultural
uses of the past and that provided sharp social criticism was authored by Hans
J akob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. The biography of Grimmelshausen though
of great interest has itself been somewhat shrouded in mystery. Apparently born
around 1621 Grimmelshausen was greatly affected by the events and plundering of
the Thirty Years War. Eventually he became an ofcial in service to the bishop of
Strasbourg, in which role he carved out time to write entertaining, if brutal, works.
His most famous production, The Adventurous Simplicissimus, which was fashioned
in many ways as a memoir, seems to have reected some of his own life experiences
and it offers a useful comparative perspective as we consider early modern social
developments within the context of memory.
Throughout the work, Grimmelshausen
161
took his readers on a wild ride that
bridged fact and fancy, events and morals. In a certain real sense, the work can
be seen as a history, or at the very least an important and sustained collection of
(imagined?) memories, fashioned into a biting satire.
162
Why did Grimmelshausen
write Simplicissimus? According to the narrative, the course of my history demands
that I should leave to kind posterity an account of what manner of cruelties were
now and again practiced in this our Germany: yea, and moreover testify by my
own example that such evils must often have been sent to us by the goodness of
Almighty God for our prot.
163
The importance of the message for posterity was
stressed, but the morality to be deduced from the stories was of central concern.
As Grimmelshausen noted later on, Gentle reader, I tell this story not that thou
mayest laugh thereat, but that my History may be complete, and my readers may
take to heart what honourable fruits are to be expected from this dancing. For this I
hold for certain, that in these dances many a bargain is struck up, whereof the whole
company hath cause thereafter to be shamed.
164
But here, the act of writing the past
events was related to honor and to the defense of an individuals honor in particular.
This was especially important to the central gure, Simplicissimus, who noted that
human memory was very eeting.
165
Scattered through the text are various uses and
161 See The Adventurous Simplicissimus, pp. 387ff regarding Grimmelshausens life.
162 For a discussion of time in Simplicissimus, see R. P. T. Aylett, The Nature of Realism
in Grimmelshausens Simplicissimus Cycle of Novels (Bern, 1982), pp. 14153.
163H. J . C. von Grimmelshausen, The Adventurous Simplicissimus, trans. A. T. S. Goodrick
(Lincoln, NE, 1962), p. 8 (for the German version, see H. J . C. von Grimmelshausen, Der
Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus, according to the rst printing of Simplicissimus Teutsch
and the Continuatio from 1669, ed. Alfred Kelletat (Munich, 1956). p. 15).
164 Ibid., p. 74 (German, p. 100).
165 And all this I tell thee, said he further, that thou mayest not hold it for an impossible
thing that a mans memory should be excellently strengthened and maintained, even as it is may,
on the other hand, be in many ways weakened and even altogether destroyed. For man has no
faculty so eeting as that of memory: for by reason of sickness, terror, fear, or trouble and grief,
it either vanisheth away or loseth a great part of its virtue (ibid., p. 91 (German, p. 120)).
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 95
understandings of both memory and history. History had the sense of an event,
166
or at
times the course of ones life.
167
Simplicissimus compared history with good stories
and contrasted that with books of love and romances of chivalry.
168
Throughout,
Grimmelshausen reminded the reader of the role and impact of remembering. It
seemed particularly related to establishing, maintaining, and regaining status,
169
on
the one hand, and to moral upbraiding on the other.
170
In many instances, time in
Simplicissimus was long and conated. Simplicissimus discussed the sins in the
churches over time, but notably within the context of something of a confession:
The churches themselves if they could speak would confess that what I do in them is
naught in comparison with the sins that have aforetime been committed in them .
171
Time, in many cases was not really about the ticking of the clock: expressions of
time served to make moral points or narrate the sequence of events.
172
Among the most central and frequently discussed issues was lineage (as well as
the accompanying question of honor). Simplicissimuss critique of contemporaries
passing themselves off as noble was an early and oft-sounded refrain:
166 and so to this day can be seen the fragments of the raft on the shore of the lake,
with the arms of Wrtemberg and other maters carved upon the wood for a memorial to this
history (ibid., p. 331 (German, p. 423)).
167 But I, on the other part, told my story even as it had happened to me, yet was not
believed, nor could the judge be sure whether he has a fool or a hard-bitten knave before
him, so pat did question and answer fall and so strange was the whole history (ibid., p.
142 (German, p. 182In most cases cited here history in the English translation refers to
Historia or Historien in the German text; here, however, the German word is Handel, so that
the English translation of history really demarcates matter)). And there he told me the
whole history; but especially how the water-spirits had brought back those stones that I had
cast into the lake (ibid., p. 336 (German, p. 430allen Verlauf for whole history). From
that they came to all manner of strange histories that happened there, and what wondrous
appearances of earth- and water-spirits had there been seen and how they had talked with
mankind (ibid., p. 330 (German, pp. 4223)).
168 The incomparable Arcadia, from which I sought to learn eloquence, was the rst
book that led me aside from good stories to books of love and from true history to romances
of chivalry (ibid., p. 215 (German, p. 274)).
169 For example: yet this pleased not the ofcers, who bade me remember I was their
prisoner (ibid., p. 206 (German, p. 263)).
170 For example: So now I rst began to reect, and to lament the noble opportunities
which had aforetime been granted to me for the furthering of my fortunes, which yet I had so
wantonly let go by (ibid., p. 250 (German, p. 324)). But in this respect my conscience gave
me but cold comfort, bidding me remember that I had so wantonly rejected such gracious help
a year or two before (ibid., p. 258 (German, p. 334)). because I little by little forgot the
terror that the Evil One had struck into me (ibid., p. 308 (German, p. 395)). And even while
I reected how much good money I in my lifetime had possessed and squandered away, and
began to lament therefore (ibid., p. 332 (German, p. 425)). This caused me to reect upon
the past and demand of myself an account of the life I had led, for I had naught else to do
(ibid., p. 355 (German, p. 475)).
171 Ibid., p. 278 (German, p. 357).
172 Ibid., p. 39 (German, p. 53).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 96
there appeareth in these days of ours (of which many do believe that they be the last days)
among the common folk, a certain disease which causeth those who do suffer from it
(so soon as they have either scraped and higgled together so much that they can, besides
a few pence in their pocket, wear a fools coat of the new fashion with a thousand bits
of silk ribbon upon it, or by some trick of fortune have become known as men of parts)
forthwith give themselves out gentlemen and nobles of ancient descent. Whereas it doth
often happen that their ancestors were day-labourers, carters, and porters, their cousins
donkey-drivers, their brothers turnkeys and catch-polls, their sisters harlots, their mothers
bawdsyea, witches even: in a word, their whole pedigree of thirty-two quarterings as
full of dirt and stain as ever the sugar-bakers guild of Prague. Yea, these new sprigs of
nobility be often themselves as black as if they had been born and bred in Guinea.
173
Indeed, much of the story was about Simplicissmus trying to nd himself and ascertain
and then prove his own nobilityin spite of himself. He wrote, late in the narrative,
for example, that So I nd myself restored to mine ancient freedom
174
The past
dictated present social and cultural status, and was sought after to conrm ones
standing. The past, in this sense gave meaning to the present and to life more generally.
Simplicissimuss accounting of this process was extremely revealing. He wrote that:
Not long after this I did take my godfather with me, and ride into the Spessart to get
certain news and certicate of my descent and noble birth; which I gat without difculty
from the book of baptisms and my godfathers witness: and presently thereafter visited
the priest that had dwelt at Hanau and had taken care of me: which gave me writing to
declare where my late father had died, and that I had abode with him to his death and
thereafter for a long time with Master Ramsay, the commandant at Hanau, under the name
of Simplicissimus: yea, I had an instrument containing my whole history drawn up by a
notary out of the mouth of witnesses; for I thought, Who knoweth when thou wilt have
need of it?
175
As Simplicissimus made clear, one could certify status and descent through ofcial
records and testimonial. And, continuation of this status depended upon evidence,
here written evidence, which recounted and demonstrated that pedigree.
Narratives of the past engaging lineage and descent were certainly not limited
to formally written form. In the case of visual representation on maps, for example,
powerful messages could be indelibly printed on the readers and viewers minds.
Geographical patterns could be developed around themes related to actual borders, as
well as symbolic coats of arms. Leo Belgicus, by J an van Doetecum, rst printed
in Amsterdam in 1598, and then reissued in 1650, was a map in the form of an
animal. As Tony Campbell notes, It was the happy discovery of an Austrian baron,
Michael von Eitzing, that the Low Countries could readily be made to t the shape
of a lion rampant. The symbolism was apt, too, as most of the seventeen provinces
that made up what is now Belgium and The Netherlands featured a lion prominently
in their coat of arms.
176
Taking one step further, medallions depicting the Belgian
173 Ibid., p. 1 (German, p. 7).
174 Ibid., p. 329 (German, p. 421).
175 Ibid., p. 327 (German, p. 419).
176 Tony Campbell, Early Maps (New York, 1981), p. 95, plate 43.
Jewish Social Organization: The Role of Memory, Power, and Honor 97
governors surround the map, adding a sense of authority, while establishing the
legitimate rule of these men. In a similar vein, J oan (J ohn) and Cornelis Blaeus
map of Frankfurt and its environs, published in Amsterdam around 1638,
177
was a
topographical map of the city and its surrounding area for some 10 miles. While the
map was likely intended for the mayors and councilmen, whose coats of arms were
represented, the map may have had broader political goals as well, being headed by
the terms Ivstitia, Consilivm, Concordia, and Pax. Campbell argues that the map
was primarily intended to atter this powerful ruling group. A rebellion twenty-ve
years earlier had been specically directed at the magistracy, but the duplication here
of family names (discernible in the repeated coats of arms) shows how dismally it
had failed to alter the oligarchic structure of the society.
178
Conclusions
The concern with memory as a means of social and political legitimacy was not new to
the seventeenth century. A well-known account by the knight Gtz von Berlichingen
in the sixteenth century, for example, also made many of the same points regarding
the nature of honor and the rationale for writingthough the emphasis on nobility
and lineage was less central than in the accounts of the late seventeenth century. Gtz
noted rather polemically in his charged political day that, I cannot remember that I
undertook my whole life anything against the Emperor or the House of Austria.
179
According to Gtz:
All these histories I have so copiously narrated, because for several years now many good-
hearted, honest and upright people (who granted and still grant to me honor and kindness,
and who in part perhaps have also known or heard how I passed the days of my life and have
passed many adventures and dangers because of my enemies) have appealed and entreated
me to write down all my deeds. I have not been able to refuse these requests; they hoped
thereby that it would pass to me, to my heirs and to my descendants more to good than to
harm, and everyone of high and low position would, therefore, take delight in it, especially
those who are impartial; I did not ask after my begrudgers, who direct themselves against
me in dishonest ways, secretly or publicly, without any basis, out of envy and hate, and again
strive to slander honest people, which I have not deserved. All these histories, with which I
want to close, and cite as my last, that is the pure truth, that there is no detail and no word
written down here, about which I could not say that it is not correct, thorough truth. I will
herewith plead my case to God, that my testimony should be here in this lamentation and on
the Day of Judgment, that I, in my youthas well as in my adult yearskept faithfully to
every honest manfriend or enemymy promise, whether large or small; that I from letter
and seal, may refer it to my captivity or something other, I have not in the least deviated; that
I have maintained myself as a pious, honest man born of nobility
180
177 Ibid., Plate 47.
178 Ibid., p. 103.
179 Gtz von Berllichingen, Lebensbeschreibung des Ritters Gtz von Berlichingen
(Stuttgart, 1962), p. 50.
180 Ibid., pp. 989.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 98
For Gtz, as for the autobiographers whom we have already met, recounting past life
events served to describe and conrm his own good name, while clearly delineating
his political afliation, and demonstrating his social pedigree.
Throughout the seventeenth century, in the context of courtly culture, and rapid
political, social, and economic change, the documentation of social status, often
through narration of the past, took on greater signicance. Jews were very much a part
of this process and Jewish memory was used both traditionally and transformatively,
to support old and establish new social structures. In early modern Germany more
generally, we nd increased concerns with family lineage, as evident in the growing
body of noble and burgher family chronicles and the heated legal discussion regarding
the nature of inheritance.
181
As the signicance of honor was increasing in early modern
Germany, narratives of the past became central exercises in isolating and dening
social status and authority. Questions of lineage and descent, however, were about
more than simply connecting past and present. They had real meaning for continuity
with the future. And so, memories, whether of the living or dead, were a useful way to
exercise control and bequeath to descendants power and authority for the future.
The preponderance of memorials and autobiographical writing in early modern
Germany, cutting across both Jewish and Christian society, reected important
developments in social order and cultural development. On the eve of a developing
Jewish middle class, the growth of a signicant Jewish underclass of poor and displaced
people, and the dramatic growth of court Jewry, and with a much broader social order
than was once assumed, early modern Jewish society in Germany was increasingly
concerned with honor and status. In the same way that lineage and descent were
important refrains in the battle with Christians assuming the identity of the ancient
Israelites, discussions about social prestigeparticularly as Jewish communities were
coming to be dened across regions and through increasing contact with the external
worldwere becoming more important as well.
The threads binding together the regional and chronological communities of
the memorybooks with the social pedigree of the ruling families is well reected
in the writing of one recent scholar, who maintains that consanguinity (blood)
is the functional equivalent of geographical proximity (place) in the way we
mentally construct natural connectedness,
182
and that As a sacred thread linking
past and present, genealogy is thus a particularly common system of organizing
legitimacy.
183
Now that we have examined internal communal and social order, it is time to turn to
Jewish use of narratives of the past to confront and mediate external conditions. Early
modern Germany was complex, and the Jews, caught between different sources of
authority and different levels of interaction with Christians, used the past as a means to
locate themselves in that society and, to the extent possible, strengthen their position.
181 See for example, J udith J . Hurwich, Bastards in the German Nobility in the Fifteenth
and Early Sixteenth Centuries: Evidence from the Zimmerische Chronik, Sixteenth Century
Journal 34:3 (Fall 2003): 70127. Hurwich notes an increasing disapproval of illegitimate
sons by the middle of the sixteenth century; see p. 727.
182 Zerubavel, Time Maps, p. 56.
183 Ibid., p. 62.
Chapter 5
Politics, Polemics, and History:
Assessing J ewish Identity
J ews engaged the past for a variety of purposes. Such engagement could serve as
a particularly powerful tool in efforts to contest the marginalization threatened by
broader developments within German and Christian society, as the Reformation
threw into relief serious questions about authority and tradition, and as Protestants
and Catholics competed for access to and control over Scripture and identication
as the new Israel. Religiously, J ews, or the old Israel, were in danger of being
replaced by the new Israel. Practically, they were subject to expulsions and social
and economic marginalization in the early sixteenth century.
As the career and work of J osel of Rosheim will make clear, contesting such
marginalization was important and quite possible. In the same way that J ews sought
to restate their biblical lineage and identity, they might also play a signicant role in
the more general history of the world. Engaging non-J ewish history and sources, the
eclectic chronicler and scientist David Gans, for example, maintained the centrality
of J ewish history, elevating the presence and importance of J ews in universal
history. This was a particularly important move at a time when universal histories
and cosmographies were becoming more common and popular. Ganss work staked
important ground for J ewish claims to biblical antiquity, in the same way that Italian
Renaissance J ews sought to place contemporary developments in music, theater, and
even politics into a traditional J ewish chronology, making J ews the progenitors of
the most signicant historical and cultural developments.
1
In what follows, I will discuss the use of memory and history in the Reformation,
providing several examples of the relationship between memory, theology, and
politics. Having raised the question of the interplay between Reformation theology
and politics, the position of the J ews will be treated. In considering early modern
J ewish efforts to contest marginalization, I introduce early modern J ewish attempts
to reclaim the biblical and historical identity as Gods Chosen People. In particular,
I consider the important chronicle of David Gans, which needs to be read in light of
the growing body of universal chronicles of the late fteenth and sixteenth centuries.
1 See Robert Bonl, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy, trans. Anthony Oldcorn (Berkeley,
1994), pp. 164ff; Don Harran, J ewish Musical Culture: Leon Modena, in Robert C. Davis
and Benjamin Ravid (eds), The Jews of Early Modern Venice (Baltimore, 2001), pp. 21130,
here at p. 212; David B. Ruderman, The Impact of Science on J ewish Culture and Society in
Venice (With Special Reference to J ewish Graduates of Paduas Medical School), reprinted
in David B. Ruderman (ed.), Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque
Italy (New York, 1992), pp. 51953, here at p. 534.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 100
After a review of two of the most important of these chronicles, I turn to an assessment
of the impact of Ganss chronicle in re-inserting J ews into world history.
Territorialization and the Jews
The general context for J ewish confrontation with external authority needs to be
seen within the development of territorial authority and regional identity. Indeed,
one of the hallmarks of early modern Germany more generally was the development
of the territorial state. The solidifying territorial divisions reected well the struggle
for political authority in the Empire and led to a variety of social and governing
complexities that affected J ews and Christians well into modernity. At the same
time, territorialization created a certain degree of order and, at times, made available
opportunities that would not have existed in more monolithic nation states, as were
developing in England, France, and Spain.
The imperial governing organs operated jointly by the Emperor and the Estates
such as the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) and the Reichskammergericht (Imperial Chamber
Court)provided a much-needed stabilizing force.
2
Indeed, the Reichskreise
(Imperial Circles) were signicant for the supra-territorial cohesion they provided,
binding geographically diverse subdivisions of the Empire, while maintaining the
regional identity and inuence of state functions.
3
The early modern period also
witnessed important improvements in formal governing structures, as reected
in the dramatic increase in the number of trained legal professionals. Territorial
particularism, therefore, combined with continued linkage with a broader system of
the Empire.
4
Despite differences in detail, territories often possessed fundamentally
similar administrative structures and bureaucratic organizations.
5
And yet, while
imperial legislation attempted to cast effective nets over behavior and legal rights,
territorial ordinances could compete with, and often be more effective, than imperial
ordinances. The fatherland, therefore, often referred to the territory or city, and
not the Empire.
Although even after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the territories did not gain
full sovereignty, they did achieve a far-reaching supremacy over their subjects.
6
The
use of both the theory and practice of Policey could strengthen territorial lordship
and simultaneously suppress traditional intermediate powers.
7
According to Olaf
Mrke, the period witnessed the transition from an age of the urban burgher to that
of a territorial burgher,
8
who gave up identication with the town and its corporate
structure and instead became part of a regional organization. Growing territorialization
2 Paul Mnch, The Growth of the Modern State, in Scribner (ed.), Germany: A New
Social and Economic History, pp. 196232, here at pp. 2012.
3 Ibid., p. 202.
4 Ibid., p 203.
5 Ibid., pp. 206, 208.
6 Ibid., p. 200.
7 Ibid., p. 209.
8 Olaf Mrke, Social Structure, in Ogilvie (ed.), Germany: A New Social and
Economic History, pp. 13463, here at p. 148.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 101
and absolutism, therefore, combined with emerging mercantilist policies related to
population disbursementin the seventeenth century, particularly in response to the
abandonment of settlements and the loss of population, state initiatives were taken
to assist and rebuild the areas hardest hit by the ravages of war in Wrttemburg,
Franconia, the Palatinate, Thuringia, Saxony, Mecklenburg, and Pomerania
9
and
had signicant implications, especially for the J ews in early modern Germany.
Town and village administration reected clearly the complex relationships
between local, territorial, and imperial control, particularly when the Landgraves
Herrschaft was administered locally through territorial or imperial agents such as
the Amtmann and Rentmeister and enhanced by a generally recognized policy of
non-interference in local administrative practices.
10
Indeed, the ability to appeal
to the Landgrave was an essential component of protection (Schutz und Schirm),
which itself served as part of the legitimization of the Langraves rule.
11
And yet, this
existence of multiple strands of authority (Herrschaft) allowed villages to adopt
different strategies to circumvent the coercive force of the landgraves agents.
12
As
J ohn Theibault notes, the internal process of dening the village could be different
from, but not always in conict with, the process of external denition promoted by
the administration itself.
13
The responsa of Yair Hayyim Bacharach, which we will examine in Chapter 6,
discuss Christians in various contexts, often related to legislation, depositions,
14
tithing,
15
testimony, sales,
16
acquisitions,
17
and agency. The role of Gentiles within
business transactions involving two J ewish partners is also treated on occasion,
18
as are the status of religious or ritual objects created by non-J ewstsitsit [ritual
fringes] made by Gentiles,
19
or holy books printed by a Christian.
20
Bacharach relied
heavily, if not exclusively, on decisions rendered in the Talmud, codes, and responsa,
with some adjustment for local conditions, and along the way he provides insights
into the nature of J ewish and Christian relations and the political landscape of his
own day.
21
9 Mnch, The Growth of the Modern State, p. 214.
10 J ohn C. Theibault, German Villages in Crisis: Rural Life in Hesse-Kassel and the
Thirty Years War, 15801720 (Boston, 1995), pp. 212.
11 Ibid., p. 27.
12 Ibid., p. 29.
13 Ibid., p. 45.
14 Yair Hayyim Bacharach, Havot Yair, 2 vols (J erusalem, 1997), here at vol. 1,
responsum 16, pp. 73ff.
15 Ibid., vol. 2, responsum 224, p. 632.
16 For example, ibid., responsum 148.
17 Ibid., responsum 150, p. 407.
18 See, for example, ibid., responsum 171, p. 475.
19 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 73.
20 Ibid., vol. 2, responsum 184, pp. 51415.
21 Havot Yair also contained numerous responsa by other individuals. One such
responsum, by Rabbi Meir Stern, made reference to Gentiles. In discussing birthing, he wrote
that under certain circumstances when a J ewish midwife was not available a Gentile midwife
could be used (vol. 1, responsum 66, p. 200). Citing the Tosasts, Stern also mentioned the
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 102
Bacharachs responsa also reect the increasing ruralization and regionalization
of early modern German J ewry. Many of Bacharachs responsa that deal with non-
J ews are related to orlah;
22
redemption and sale of rst born animals
23
and fruits; and
the general sale of animals.
24
If one were to offer a very general, impressionistic,
observation, the issues involving non-J ews in Bacharachs responsa were of a rather
different nature than those of the later Middle Ages. The latter more frequently dealt
with questions of Gentile testimony and business relations, particularly lending
of money at interest and with collateral. In Bacharachs responsa, by contrast, the
majority of cases deal with what seem to have been more rural issues on the one
hand, particularly related to the sale of animals, and interactions with ruling princes
and armies, on the other. The clear suggestion is that early modern J ewry confronted
a broader rural and regional identityone forged by close relations with Christians
on the land, and affected dramatically by the territorialization of the Empire, as well
as the dynastic successions of the seventeenth century.
As in legal matters, the fate of J ewish communities and individuals was frequently
held in a precarious balance. Often sovereignty over J ews was shared between two
or more authorities, and in many areas J ews lived under the constant threat of local
or regional expulsion.
25
In some cities, J ews were expelled or re-expelled in the
seventeenth century, for example in Augsburg, Lbeck, Heilbronn, Schweinfurt, and
Hamburg.
26
Signicant regional expulsions by the Margrave of Baden-Durlach and
the Duke of Neuberg in the 1650s and 1660s intensied anti-J udaism throughout
the Austrian lands, culminating in the 1670 Viennese expulsion.
27
Numerous other
regional expulsions peppered the early modern period, including those of the J ews
throughout Brandenburg in 1510, the duchy of Burgau in 1617, and the Stift of Fulda
in 1671,
28
for example.
permissibility of selling cattle to Gentiles and lending to them with interest (ibid.). He wrote
that there was a leniency to sell horses in this day (ibid.). He also noted going out with a
Gentile coachman to protect minors (ibid.).
22 According to the Encyclopedia Judaica entry, Orlah (uncircumcised) is the tenth
tractate in the order Zeraim in the Mishnah, Tosefta [collection of rabbinic statements],
and J erusalem Talmud. It deals with the law prohibiting the fruit of trees during the rst
three years after their planting (Lev. 19:2325). The subject matter of orlah being scanty, the
tractate includes in its discussions the laws concerning the admixture of many other forbidden
products (Encyclopedia Judaica, Orlah). See Bacharach, Havot Yair, vol. 2, responsum
150, p. 405.
23 Bacharach, Havot Yair, vol. 2, responsum 148, p. 402.
24 For example, a milk cow that a J ew bought from a Gentile, and asked if it was
pregnant (ibid., vol. 1, responsa 367, 39, 40, pp. 116ff); responsa 46 and 48 in this case in
which hametz [agent of fermentation] was possessed during Passover, and the horse sold to a
Gentile after the holiday.
25 See also Israel, European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 15501750, pp. 823.
26 Ibid., p. 120.
27 Ibid.
28 See Paul Horn and Naftali Herbert Sonn, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Fulda: Ein
Gedenkbuch (Tel Aviv, 1969), who note that 2,000 J ews were expelled from the entire Stift
(p. 41).
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 103
Of course, expulsion could lead to settlement in new regions, including heavy
movement in the fteenth and sixteenth centuries to Poland-Lithuania and to some
extent to Italy, and could be accompanied by drastic upheaval within the J ewish and
host Christian communities. At times, when J ews were expelled, the expulsion
might be reversed soon afterwards, or even several years later, further complicating
J ews relations with their neighbors and upsetting J ewish communal institutions and
social, political, economic, and religious structures. In the end, many threatened
expulsions were in fact never carried through, due to challenges from other sources
of authority or changing conditions in the region. The 1595 expulsion of the J ews
from Hildesheim, for example, was reversed nally in 1601 after a complaint to
the imperial court. And, in between periods of crisis, rising hostility and threatened
expulsion, J ewish communities continued to exist and function. Although the
important J ewish community of Fulda, for example, was plundered in 1591, the
J ews maintained residence and were not ofcially expelled until 1671.
As in most other facets of J ewish existence in Germany in the early modern period,
however, J ewish fate seems to have been dictated largely by territorial complexity
and the personal attitude of the individual territorial ruler or city council. There was
generally no uniform J ewry policy, and J ews could face restrictive measures as well
as positive opportunities. Complicating territorial J ewry policies was the position,
and frequently protection, of the J ews in imperial legislation. Even numerous links
between J ews and the Protestant armies during the Thirty Years War do not seem to
have fundamentally altered the relation of the J ews to the emperor, who was, anyway,
eager to utilize the J ews in his rebuilding program.
29
We do nd a transition from
individual to general letters of protection at the end of seventeenth century, suggesting
broader, though still limited, communal opportunities for J ews; nevertheless
the situation could remain frequently changeable even amidst comprehensive
repopulation policies. In that light, the treatment of the J ews varied greatly and must
be viewed within the context of specic social and legal developments. Increasingly,
during the second half of the seventeenth century, absolutist territorial princes sought
to control more closely internal J ewish matters, and forbade J ewish litigants from
appealing to rabbinic courts outside their municipalities.
30
Uneasiness in Bohemia had been brewing for a long time, in an area where
national aspirations and religious tensions tended to grow and to drive a signicant
wedge between the imperial governance and the local noble estates. The Thirty Years
War reected a tumultuous, deeply divisive, and tremendously signicant epoch
for European Christians and J ews. It revealed deep religious, cultural, and political
divisions throughout Europe. While religious in nature in some ways, the war also
demonstrated growing international politics and the struggle for the development
of national states and sovereignty. The end of the Thirty Years War substantially
reshaped European boundaries, alliances, and sensibilities.
With real gaps in and challenges to authority, the effects of the war on J ews
and J ewish communities were often negative and at times quite dramatic. During
the Thirty Years War, for example, in 1621 the synagogue in the important J ewish
29 Israel, European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 15501750, p. 84.
30 Ibid., p. 157.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 104
community in Frth was looted by soldiers. In 1634, much of the local community
was destroyed and the homes of many J ews, as in Halberstadt, were plundered. The
ravages of the Thirty Years War were particularly ruinous in certain areas, especially
Bohemia and Moravia. A large number of J ews were displaced and sought refuge in
the larger cities, such as Vienna and Prague. Of course, J ews suffered from the general
tribulations of war that confronted their Christian neighbors, such as epidemics of
infectious disease. But J ews also suffered because of their differences. There were
attempts to expel J ews from numerous cities and regions, as in Hesse-Darmstadt
in 1628. In many places the war was used as a pretext for traditional anti-J ewish
sentiment, caricature, and policy.
But the position of the J ews in some localities remained more favorable than
for members of the general population. In some places, J ews suffered only minimal
population decrease, compared to the at times very large (up to two-thirds according
to some estimates) destruction of life in particular areas. In addition, J ews often
functioned and thrived in the capacity of suppliers and middlemen. J ewish credit
agents were frequently protected by imperial orders. Already, since the middle of
the sixteenth century, some J ews were clearly playing important and renewed roles
in the economy. In 1598, for example, J ewish traders were permitted at the Leipzig
fair and in 1611 Emperor Matthias (161119) enumerated for the J ews of Prague
and all Bohemia the goods in which they could deal as peddlers. J ews were not only
peddlers and purveyors of small loans. They could also, even before the period of
the court J ews, loan at rather large scales. As with demographic patterns, J ewish
economic positions simultaneously faced challenges and opportunities.
31
The Reformation, Confessionalization, and Social Discipline
It was not only the political landscape that affected early modern German J ews. The
remarkable religious changes of the Reformation and period of confessionalization
also impacted the position of the J ews. Often in tandem with this transformation
was the close interaction of religion and politics, so that a broad review of the
Reformation is necessary in order to adequately contextualize the situation of the
J ews in early modern Germany.
One conclusion that seems inescapable and that has become very clear in recent
historiography is that there was no Reformation in the sense of a conscious and
one-directional movement. In noting the uncertainty whether Martin Luther ever
posted the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, for example, Bob Scribner
has argued that, this myth is typical of a number of myths about the Reformation. It
involves a teleological view of history, an arrangement from hindsight of the course
of events into an inevitable pattern, in which no other outcome is envisaged than
the Reformation as later ages understood it.
32
Like other scholars, Scribner has
called for a more contextual understanding of the Reformation, one that displaces
Martin Luther from the center and that focuses instead upon the myriad of reformers,
31 Ibid., passim.
32 Bob Scribner, The German Reformation (Atlantic Highlands, NJ , 1986), p. 1.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 105
regional variations and social and political nuances of the reformations. This
historiographical trend, with its strong emphasis on the communal signicance of
the Reformation and the reassessment of the relationships between theology, politics,
and common mentality affects in important ways how we see the Reformation and
the J ews. What is more, the vast regional divisions, territorial governance, and
growing religious distinctions combined in dramatic and far-reaching ways in
what many historians have come to call confessionalization.
33
Confessionalization
speaks not only to religious diversication, but also includes a variety of governing
approaches and tools for social order, such as social discipline, that many historians
have discussed at length.
34
In the end, the position of individual reformers and
more traditional theologians could vary drastically when it came to the J ews and
J udaism. Individual rulers could, aside from any strictly religious or confessional
leanings, also hold varying and rather changeable policies regarding the settlement
and activities of J ews in their lands.
35
Whatever we may think about using the historiographical construct of early
modern, the sixteenth century did in fact usher in important changes of perspective
and consideration. The Protestant Reformation, or the reformations (with a lower-
case r) as scholars now prefer, and the fractionalization of politics and religion,
forced greater tolerance in some ways upon Europeans, though not always for J ews
and not always in ways that were positive for J ews. The historian J onathan Israel has
argued that the Reformation impacted J ewish life by theologically demystifying the
J ews and increasing emphasis on Hebrew language and interest in J ewish rituals.
At the same time, the Reformation could lead to a wide range of marginalization,
from restrictions to expulsion attempts. This same scholar nds a late medieval
and early modern transformation of German J ewry in two distinct phases: the rst,
one of progressive decline, contraction, and marginalization stretching from the
Black Death to the 1570s; a second phase after 1570 was characterized by revival,
expansion, and broadening J ewish activity.
36
One could, of course, argue that the fractionalzation and inghting within
Christianity made things difcult for the J ews. And yet, it is not even entirely clear
to what extent the Reformation affected the position of the J ews within Christian
33 Heinz Schilling, Religion, Political Culture and the Emergence of Early Modern
Society: Essays in German and Dutch History (Leiden, 1992), pp. 192, 209, 289. See Michael
Driedger, The Intensication of Religious Commitment: J ews, Anabaptists, Radical Reform,
and Confessionalization, in Bell and Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp.
26999, here at pp. 27578.
34 For a summary, see my Confessionalization and Social Discipline in Early Modern
Germany: A J ewish Perspective, in Peter Wallace, Peter Starenko, Michael Printy, and
Christopher Ocker (eds), Politics and Reformations: Studies in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr.
(Leiden, 2007).
35 Friedrichs, German Social Structure, 13001600, p. 230, and Kaspar Von Greyerz,
Confession as a Social and Economic Factor, in Ogilvie (ed.), Germany: A New Social and
Economic History, pp. 30949, here at p. 312.
36 See Israel, European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism. See also his essay Germany
and Its J ews: A Changing Relationship (13001800), in Hsia and Lehmann (eds), In and Out
of the Ghetto, pp. 295304.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 106
theology. As Achim Detmers has shown, teaching regarding the J ews and J udaism
could vary within the life and work of individual reformers, be different between
important reformers, and be largely in response to internal Christian debate rather
than to any real interaction with J ews. In the Upper German and Swiss area, for
example, the concept of continuity between the covenants of the Old and New
Testaments was stressed and might make J udaism relevant for some reformers,
without thereby necessarily making J ews any more tolerated or welcome.
37
Given Luthers position regarding history, and, as we will see below, his
thoughts about the J ews, it is hardly surprising that the Reformation continued a
medieval tradition that saw the J ews as a category or stock image, not necessarily
as a people developing in time. Some scholars have, therefore, contended
that throughout the Middle Ages and into the Reformation period, J ews were
increasingly detemporalized.
38
R. Po-chia Hsia, for example, argues that German
Lutherans increasingly differentiated between the J ews of the Old Testament and
contemporary J ews, essentially de-peopling the Old Testament and appropriating for
themselves the idea of a New Israel.
39
Yet, in many important respects the position
of the J ews was not all that different in the early modern period than in the medieval
period. Numerous restrictions, both economic and social, combined with periods
of toleration and normalcy. German Christians throughout the Middle Ages had
commented upon the Old Testament, and the re-identication of true Christians
as the successors of Gods Chosen People, the true Israelites, removed contemporary
J ews from the development of history. But, such identication certainly took on new
meaning with the Protestant Reformation. The Hebrew Bible was mined by scholars
and polemicists, and the very identity of the Israelites was frequently grafted onto
Christians. The competition for the title of J erusalem or Zion of the North by the
residents of various cities such as Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Strasbourg
40
is well
known, as is Thomas Mnzers appropriation of the title of new J erusalem for
his revolutionary Mnster. While Luther seemed content to stress the J ews descent
37 See Achim Detmers, Reformation und Judentum: Israel-Lehren und Einstellungen
zum Judentum von Luther bis zum frhen Calvin (Stuttgart, 2001).
38 As Kathleen Biddick asserts, To rephrase Fabian, there is a persistent and systematic
tendency to place J ews in a time other than the present of Christendom. See Kathleen Biddick,
The ABC of Ptolemy: Mapping the World with the Alphabet, in Sylvia Tomasch and Sealy
Gilles (eds), Text and Territory: Geographical Imagination in the European Middle Ages
(Philadelphia, 1998), pp. 26893, here at p. 269. Biddick also writes that, Fabian claims that
early modern ethnography came to deny what he calls the coevalness, or contemporaneity,
of its encounter with the other. According to Fabian, such denial occurs when there is a
persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other
than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse (p. 31) and that, I argue here
that it is medieval Christians who denied coevalness to J ews just as social scientists rendered
primitive their anthropological referents (p. 270).
39 R. Po-chia Hsia, The Usurious J ew: Economic Structure and Religious Representations
in an Anti-Semitic Discourse, in Hsia and Lehmann (eds), In and Out of the Ghetto, pp.
16176, here at p. 171.
40 See, for example, Detmers, Reformation und Judentum, p. 83, n. 124, who notes that
Melchior Hoffman wrote that dan Straburg wurt zu dier zeit Jerusalem im geyst seyn .
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 107
from the ancient Israelites in his early, more missionary work, the later Luther was
equally content to reject the J ews noble lineage, which he argued they shared with
the descendants of Esau.
41
Indeed, much of Luthers discussion about J udaism and
the J ews was informed by underlying concerns related to claims of lineage and
descent.
It is traditionally assumed that Luther held a favorable position toward the J ews
in his early writings and then changed radically after he realized that the J ews would
not convert. More recently it has been argued that Luther was much more consistent
in his attitude toward the J ews.
42
Yet even among Luthers followers the position of
the J ews was never entirely systematic or consistent. Among Protestant reformers
Luthers vigorous and hostile anti-J ewish rhetoric of his later years was often
rebuffed and ignored. Andreas Osiander, the Lutheran minister from Nuremberg,
apparently sent a written apology for Luthers tirades to the Venetian J ewish scholar
Elijah Levita. Osiander himself was famous for his arguments against the blood
libel accusations. He counted twenty reasons why J ews could not be guilty of such
a crime. Among his arguments, he noted that Mosaic Law forbids the shedding of
innocent blood; the J ewish dietary laws forbid drinking blood or eating unclean
esh; J ews believe in eternal life and would shy away from infanticide as a means
to gain salvation; and spilling human blood is against human nature.
43
Luthers
close colleague Philip Melanchthon
44
also sought to downplay Luthers rhetoric
(even if he did not reject it), and even the translator of Luthers anti-J ewish works,
J ustas J onas (14931555) had a profoundly different view of the J ews. J onas saw
the possibility of the fusion of J ews and Christians into one body in a way that
Luther found unacceptable. The Lutheran reformer Urbanus Rhegius (14891541)
argued strongly for J ewish toleration, with hopes of eventual conversion, during the
1539/40 attempts by the Lutheran clergy of Braunschweig to expel the J ews from
that city.
45
The Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger complained to another reformer,
Martin Bucer, of Luthers lewd and houndish eloquence and his scurrility which
is appropriate for no one and still less for an old theologian. Bucer himself noted that
Luthers Schem Hamphoras was piggish and mirky and could not be defended
even if written by a swineherd.
46
Whatever effects the Reformation had regarding religious views and toleration
of J ews, it did, however, reorient European politics and economy, at times allowing
41 Thanks to Stephen Burnett for pointing out to me the different approaches.
42 For an extensive review of the literature, see Thomas Kaufmann, Luther and the
J ews, in Bell and Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp. 69104.
43 Now, see J oy Kammerling, Andreas Osiander, the J ews, and J udaism, in Bell and
Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp. 21947.
44 On Melanchthon, see Timothy Wengert, Philip Melanchthon and the J ews: A
Reappraisal, in Bell and Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp. 10535.
45 See Scott H. Hendrix, Toleration of the J ews in the German Reformation: Urbanus
Rhegius and Braunschweig (15351540), Archiv fr Reformationsgeschichte 81 (1990):
189215.
46 See my article Martin Luther and the J ews: The Reformation, Nazi Germany, and
Today, in Dean Phillip Bell (ed.), The Solomon Goldman Lectures, vol. VII (Chicago, 1999),
pp. 15587.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 108
J ews to play more signicant nancial roles within the individual German states and
principalities as court J ews. Within both the political and religious context of the
Reformation, the concept of the J ews and J udaism and the historical representation
of each were extremely important.
For most Christians of the later Middle Ages and early modern period, the concept
of the J ews and J udaism was about a great deal more than contemporary J ewish
people or practices. For the great humanistic scholar Erasmus, for example, J onathan
Israel argues that, J udaism meant something wider and more far-reaching than
actual J ews and J udaism. For Erasmus, J ewish inuence and J udaism meant the
prevalence of ceremony, ritual, and legalism, a subverting of true piety, and diversion
from Christ, through outward show and adherence to form. Erasmuss passionate
polemic against J udaism was not anti-Semitic in any conventional sense.
47
Martin
Luthers vision of the J ews was similarly and largely theological and rhetorical in
nature. J ews formed part of a devilish group subverting the true church, or true
J udaism, which also helped indicate the end of days. For Luther, J ews of ancient
Israel were markedly different from contemporary J ews, who Luther argued were
not really J ews in the sense that he conceived of them anyway. What is more, the
concept of J ew was largely a foil for Luthers attacks on his own society. Even in his
later attacks against contemporary J ews, Luther used the J ews to strike out against
those whom he believed misused their authority. His later and violent polemics were
for sure not restricted to J ews;
48
at the same time, his view of the J ews and the
primary issues associated with the concept of the J ews remained remarkably salient
and consistent throughout his career. For many of the Protestant reformers battling
the traditions of the medieval Church and seeking a return to authentic religious
traditions, the issue of lineage and descent was signicant. In such an environment
the J ews as well as the nature and meaning of the past were extremely important and
much discussed.
The Reformation, the Past, and the Jews
History was not developed into a formal academic discipline until the end of the
seventeenth century, but it nonetheless played an important role in the debates and
discussions of early modern Germany. History could be meaningful and strategic,
and as the German historian Susanne Rau maintains, the selection and presentation
of particular events or personalities might reect the early modern chroniclers
perspectives and even broader civic identity.
49
Here we explore the role of history
and narratives of the past in the Reformation, before turning our ndings to bear on
early modern German J ewish uses of the past.
47 J onathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 14771806
(Oxford, 1995), pp. 456.
48 See Mark U. Edwards, Luthers Last Battles: Politics and Polemics, 15311546
(Ithaca, 1983).
49 See Susanne Rau, Geschichte und Konfession: Stdtische Geschichtsschreibung
und Erinnerungskultur im Zeitalter von Reformation und Konfessionalisierung in Bremen,
Breslau, Hamburg und Kln (Hamburg, 2002).
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 109
Regardless of scholarly or confessional orientation it is clear that the Reformation,
and the unfolding of the various reformations, was of central importance in early
modern Germany. The Reformation affected not only religion and politics, but also
the complete gamut of the human experience. What was the impact of the Reformation
on the study of history and the understanding and engagement of the past? Despite
the frequent confessional use and appropriation of history, it has generally been
recognized that the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, did little to forward
the study of history per se. Even Luthers important successor, Philip Melanchthon,
though clearly more disposed to historical study, is not generally seen as a historian
in the modern sense of the term. Nevertheless, a quick look at Luthers conception
of history allows us to understand more thoroughly Luthers notion of Reformation
and the nature and use of history in early modern Germany.
In his rst lecture at Wittenberg, on the Psalms, Luther espoused the traditional
four senses of biblical interpretation. In his Preface to the Glosses, Luther argued
that the three traditional spiritual senses (allegory, tropology, and anagogy) are
elevated and hence better than the historical (literal). Yet at the same time, Luther
wrote that, in the Scriptures, therefore, no allegory, tropology, or anagogy is valid
unless the same truth is expressly stated historically elsewhere. Otherwise Scripture
would become mockery.
50
Yet, what Luther meant by literal was not simply historical. Like his late
medieval counterparts, Luther never abandoned allegory. What is more, not only
did allegory pervade much of his biblical commentary, but his literal sense was
highly allegorical. Luthers concern with tropology remained central even when he
emphasized the sensus historicus. Luther therefore gave new depth and meaning
to temporal events and persons precisely because he saw them as bearers of Gods
activity.
51
The ultimate purpose of recorded history was, for Luther, to bring man to
knowledge of God through His works. For Luther the past was not a dead past, but
an exemplarium to support a particular religious sensibility.
52
Luther often approached his texts from a pastoral point of view and he was
frequently inuenced by historical and contemporary events.
53
The problem of the
Turks, who were besieging Vienna from 1528 to 1529, for example, greatly affected
Luthers exegesis. Luther believed that the Turks were a punishment against a
sinning people, much the same as his Antichrist Pope was. Luther urged that the
only true solution to the suffering was faith and prayer. The dispersal of the Turks
in the summer of 1529 surely gladdened Luther and conrmed his conviction.
54
Around this period Luther also began, with or without an eye to an eschatological
view, to work on a larger history. By 1540 he had completed his Supputaro Annorum
50 Martin Luther, Luthers Works, ed. J aroslav Pelikan (St. Louis, 195586), 55 vols,
here at vol. 10, p. 4.
51 J ohn M. Headley, Luthers View of Church History (New Haven, 1963), p. 269.
52 Ibid., pp. 42, 44, 47.
53 See David Steinmetz, Luther in Context (Bloomington, 1986).
54 See Harvey Buchanan, Luther and the Turks, 15191529, Archiv fr
Reformationsgeschichte 47 (1956): 14560.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 110
Mundi.
55
While he saw secular history as consisting of four monarchies, the fourth
being the Holy Roman Empire, he continued to think in terms of Melanchthons
three-period, 2,000-year division of biblical history. What all of this demonstrates is
that Luthers views regarding eschatology and real-life political concerns joined with
a strong leaning toward moral instruction in his highly tropological interpretation,
particularly evident in his interpretation of the Song of Songs.
J ust as Luthers interpretation of history was complex and related to a broader
theology, the Reformation itself clearly offered the opportunity both to re-engage
and to contest the past, particularly through the challenge to authority and the
weighty conversation regarding the relation of the sacred and the secular. Indeed,
throughout early modern Germany, particularly in the wake of the Reformation and
confessionalization, the past could be appropriatedfrequently from the J ews
for religious reasons. But, the past could also be an important point of contention
between tradition and radical change in politics and the social order.
The challenge of authority and the call for a return to tradition that was inherent in
much Reformation writing was swept up in, and at times even co-opted for, political
and social reform. Inspired by what appeared to be a dismissal of priestly mediation
between man and God and a return to tradition, in a more narrowly political
environment, both peasants and lords might co-opt the past, as many documents
related to the Peasants War of the mid-1520s make clear.
56
Throughout the peasant
uprisings of the Reformation period there was a delicate balance between assertions
of morality and political contestation. Given how pervasive these issues were and
how intertwined they were with narration of the past, we now turn to examine the
resonance of such developments in the early modern German J ewry steeped in the
Reformation.
The Reformation and the Jews: Political and Religious Implications
There could be an intimate connection between Reformation theology and politics.
At times, the tensions between or wedding of religious reform and politics affected
perceptions and treatment of the J ews. Despite a long history of anti-J ewish instigation,
the Reformation, and Luthers later writings in particular, could provide additional
fodder or excuses for the marginalization or expulsion of J ews, as happened, for
example, in Hesse in the late 1530s and 1540s and in Braunschweig in the 1540s.
57
55 Karl H. Dannenfeldt, Some Observations of Luther on Ancient Pre-Greek History,
Archiv fr Reformationsgeschichte 42 (1951): 4963, here at pp. 513.
56 See, for example, the documents in Tom Scott and Bob Scribner (eds and trans), The
German Peasants War: A History in Documents (Atlantic Highlands, NJ , 1991), pp. 67, 68,
73, 75, 77, 86, 2623.
57 See Rotraud Ries, Zum Zusammenhang von Reformation und J udenvertreibung:
Das Beispiel Braunschweig, in Helmut Hger, Franz Peri, and Heinz Quirin (eds), Civtatium
Communitas: Studien zum europischen Stdtwesen: Festschrift Heinz Stoob zum 65.
Geburtstag, part 2 (Cologne, 1984), pp. 63054. See also my article, J ewish Settlement,
Politics, and the Reformation.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 111
Rather instructive is the case of Hesse, where in the 1530s the Landgrave, Philip,
sought to clarify the position of the Jews living in his territory. Eminently practical in
his economics and often his politics as well, Philip granted the Jews limited protection
while turning to reforming theologians, especially Martin Bucer, for advice on what
position to adopt on the Jewish question. Bucer stressed the important role that secular
government played in establishing and maintaining proper religious, and so social,
structures and behavior. As such, he advocated a position that did not tolerate the Jews
and would thereby serve as a good example to deter the people from godlessness
.
58
Bucer drew a distinction in principle between the biblical Israel of the elect,
the Israel according to the spirit to which the eschatological promises of salvation
applied, and empirical Judaism, that is, corporeal Israel, the enemy of Christ and as
such the sign of Gods punishment and of his own downfall.
59
Bucer also asserted that
Natural Law dictated that offensive and false religions, among which he included
rabbinic Judaism, should not be tolerated.
60
He concluded by noting that there were
many important historical examples of rulers expelling the Jews.
61
If the J ews were to be allowed to remain in Hesse, he advocated a series of rather
strict limitations and requirements. J ews must swear not to blaspheme Christianity;
but they must also not follow the Talmud, build new synagogues, or dispute with
common Christians. J ews should be forced to attend conversionary sermons and
they should be limited in their business.
62
Landgrave Philip was apparently not prepared to accept the full extent of Bucers
advice. He asserted that J ews were a noble race, from which even Christ, our savior,
was born in the esh; so are the apostles come from such a race, which race also is
condent that God has saved it. He also noted that Christians ought themselves to
be humble and that the J ews might again reestablish their covenant with God. Even
in the midst of this rhetorical response, Philip fashioned Christians as the ancient
Israelites and contemporary J ews as the biblical strangers, who should be loved.
Philip concluded that the J ews should be tolerated for one or two more years. At
that point, their behavior should be evaluated and a nal decision about their fate
should be made. As part of this toleration, Philip issued an 11-article ordinance,
incorporating some clerical advicewhile rejecting other advice as too narrow and
punitiveand an earlier ordinance.
63
The legislation strengthened restrictions against
the J ews, while maintaining their ability to participate in the nancial wellbeing of
the territory. The J ews were placed within an administrative infrastructure that was
to approve their business dealings as well as enforce the ordinance itself.
58 Martin Bucer, Martin Bucers Deutsche Schriften, ed. Robert Stupperich, vol. VII
(Gtersloh, 1964), p. 360.
59 Willem Nijenhuis, Ecclesia Reformata: Studies on the Reformation (Leiden, 1972), p.
47. And now, see R. Gerald Hobbs, Bucer, the J ews, and J udaism, in Bell and Burnett (eds),
Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp. 13769.
60 Bucer, Deutsche Schriften, p. 345.
61 Ibid., pp. 3456, and here at p. 350.
62 Ibid., pp. 3513.
63 The ordinance is reprinted in Bucer, Deutsche Schriften, pp. 3835. See also Quellen
zur Geschichte der Juden im Hessischen Staatsarchiv Darmstadt: 10801650, prepared by
Friedrich Battenberg (Wiesbaden, 1995), no. 1258 (1539), p. 337.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 112
How did J ews respond to such developments? On the one hand, J ews sought to
contest external marginalization. The important shtadlan J osel (J oseph ben Gershon)
(c.14781554) of Rosheim was involved in numerous debates and political lobbying
at the imperial courts in an effort to mediate anti-J ewish writing and legislation.
In addition to his political activities, J osel also responded to the writings of Bucer
by means of a letter of consolation to his correligionists in Hesse.
64
J osel noted
the burden and misery caused by Bucers writings, agreeing that Bucer sought
to bring you to unfavorable status with your overlord [Oberkeit], with such bitter
words also against our belief and conscience as if you [have] a doubt in your
conscience regarding our belief of old, that we have had since the time of Abraham
and have today .
65
What is particularly striking here is that J osel sought to reclaim
the connection between biblical Israel and contemporary J ewry. For J osel, J ews were
the true Chosen People of God, no matter what the Christians might assert.
In the midst of his consolation, however, J osel offered a number of other
observations. Regarding attending Christian sermons, he stated that no J ew should
be compelled to attend if such attendance might place a doubt in his belief; on the
other hand, however, a pious J ew might want to hear such sermons. J osel mentioned
that he himself had gone to hear the learned doctor Wolfgang Capito several times in
Strasbourg and when he preached the belief that I did not accept I cut off.
66
J osel
also argued that J ews may charge interest on money loaned to Gentiles, provided
that it is with the Gentiles approval and good knowledge. He asserted that:
we have approval from God, because we are oppressed so harshly under the people with
tolls, safe-conduct [money] and yearly tributes as well as appraisals more than any other
people living on the earth.
67
However, Josel noted that there were many unlearned and misunderstanding people
who were not satised with small measure and now have more business than our law
itself permits, therefore bringing against us all such disputation and writing .
68
J osel
commented that some J ews maintained arrogance and worldliness and did not even
maintain peace among themselves.
69
Indeed, in many of the texts with narratives of the past produced in early modern
Germany there is a very interesting connection between internal admonition and
the engagement of external relations. As the historian J acob Lassner has asserted,
in a different context, the central focus of historical explanation among J ews was
64 See the Trotschrift in J oseph of Rosheim, Historical Writings, ed. Hava Fraenkel-
Goldschmidt (J erusalem, 1996), pp. 32849; Selma Stern, Josel of Rosheim: Commander
of Jewry in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, trans. Gertrude Hirschler
(Philadelphia, 1965 (orig., 1959)), here at pp. 176ff; and Ludwig Feilchenfeld, Rabbi Josel
von Rosheim: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland im Reformationszeitalter
(Strasbourg, 1898).
65 J oseph of Rosheim, Historical Writings, Trotschrift, p. 329 [German].
66 Ibid., p. 335.
67 Ibid., p. 339.
68 Ibid.
69 Ibid., p. 342 [from the Hebrew].
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 113
inevitably linked to the moral behavior of individuals and by extension the collective
behavior of groups.
70
According to Lassner, There is something extraordinary in
this J ewish capacity for self-criticism. In any case, there is no parallel to it among
Israels neighbors in the ancient Near East, nor among Muslims with whom J ews
shared physical and sacred space in the Middle Ages.
71
But it was not simply criticism leveled at the sins of the J ews that J osel expressed.
While J osels writings are replete with exhortations to his co-religionists, the historical
narratives in his chronicle and Sefer ha-Miknah also helped to dene community
through both exclusion and projection. Although some of the material J osel included
in his chronicle could have been based on some of his own experiences, the
discussions of late medieval expulsions were based on handed-down oral traditions
and histories. J osel wrote, for example, that, surely the event was written in the
sefer yashon, and also the elders that were in the region of Alsace heard it from their
fathers, and they remembered what they [their fathers] told them, and we did not
receive a lie from our fathers .
72
In many cases of his historical accounting of past expulsions J osel described
the machinations of apostates and informers, who together constituted for him a
negative force against which the J ews had to ght. According to J osels most
famous biographer, Selma Stern, J osel knew that stories of expulsions brought about
by informers in some cities were not true. But, as Stern argues, Whether J osel
realized that his political statements and his views as expressed in the Sefer Ha-
Mikneh were contradictory is open to debate. But it is certain that his moral sense
was at variance with his sense of history, and that the former generally won out.
73
As Stern notes, J osels sense of history was one strongly colored by theological
and metaphysical concepts.
74
The past for J osel served a variety of purposes. It
was reconstructed through personal observation, written sources, and testimony. It
sought more than afrmation of past events, however; it also attempted to bring the
lessons of the past into immediate and relevant connection with the external and
internal challenges facing early modern German J ewry. Although directly involved
in many of the political situations recounted, J osel sought out patterns of history.
J osel read the past as a moral guidebook and he saw the persecution of his people
as divine punishment for their sins. God could and frequently did save the J ews, but
such salvation required concerted and pious effort. In searching out cause and effect,
The past and the present merged before his eyes, and the indissoluble tie between
70 Lassner, Time, Historiography, and Historical Consciousness: The Dialectic of
J ewish-Muslim Relations, p. 7.
71 Ibid., p. 9.
72 J oseph of Rosheim, Sefer ha-Miknah, ed. Hava Fraenkel-Goldschmidt (J erusalem,
1970), p. 7. He wrote elsewhere that: There were other great and wonderful things which
were recorded by earlier generations, each in the manner in which they had been handed down
to him. But I did not deem these worthy of being written down. It was only in the case of
true and accurate documents that I did not hesitate: I copied them to preserve them for future
generations. Cited in Stern, Josel of Rosheim, pp. 30910, n. 1.
73 Stern, Josel of Rosheim, p. 227.
74 Ibid., p. 222.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 114
consecutive generations, which now seemed bound together forever by a common
link of tragic fate, came to him as a new revelation.
75
A similar representation of the harm brought to the J ewish community by apostates
can be found in the anonymous Prague chronicle from the early seventeenth century.
The chronicle details the events of J ewish informants, who conspired against, and
whose actions led to the arrest of several community leaders:
During that year [1602], due to our iniquities, slanderous talebearers from among our
people, one Shimmel, a servant, and Moses Trantik, of accursed memory, informed the
authorities that the heads of the community were responsible for the death of Eli[jah]
Pollak, and [as a result] R. Israel Henlig [Henlisch], the head of the kehillah, and Primaz,
and Abraham Schikler were arrested and bound, and brought to Brglitz castle, each
one separately. Subsequently, on the Sabbath, the 9th of Av [27 J uly], they arrested the
renowned luminary, the learned rabbinical authority, our teacher Rabbi Loew, may God
protect and preserve him, and Manisch Schck, head of the kehillah, and R. Hayyim Wahl,
head of the kehillah, putting them under arrest in the Rathaus.
The chronicle next describes how the events narrated affected the J ewish community,
and subsequent communal attemptsboth spiritual and materialto remove the
restrictions and release the leaders.
On Monday, the 11th of Av [29 J uly], all the synagogues here in Prague were closed and
sealed, and [the J ews] were unable to pray in any synagogue for more than four weeks.
And others were arrested in order to testify regarding the aforementioned matter. [Days]
of repentance and fasting were decreed in all the communities of Israel, and two days of
Yom Kippur were observed here, until God, Blessed be He, had mercy on us. At greater
expense, and after much intercession, the [prisoners] were released on bail for a large sum.
Then these two informers of accursed memory told the authorities that R. Israel Henlisch
had requested that they poison a non-J ew named Nikolas Preiss, and they arrested R.
I[srael] on Shemini Azeret [7 October].
76
The fairly traditional coincidence of the communitys problems and Tisha bAv is
obvious, as is the tension between the location of community suffering, external
authority, and moralizing.
The fate of the informants revealed the truth and salvation of the community
and its leaders. The text concluded: 5363 [1602] Three days later During this
time, Shimon Leib, of accursed memory, died in prison and was buried where dead
dogs and other carcasses are thrown by the hangman. And Moses Trantik secured his
75 Ibid., p. 219.
76 David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, c. 1615, pp. 54ff. The text begins:
The year 5362 [1602] was a time of trial and tribulation for the J ews here in Prague, for
[they] were threatened with expulsion. The townspeople, who were the main [instigators],
proposed to present the emperor, may he be exalted, with a yearly sum of several thousands
[collected] from the merchants and the rest of the population. Several times [the Emperor]
ordered that the writs of privilege be deposited in his chamber, and we were very fearful that
perhaps, Heaven forbid, they would be rescinded. The emperor, may he be exalted, nearly
acceded to [our enemies]; we repented greatly, for God, Blessed be He, had mercy on us, and
turned from His wrath, and we were left unharmed.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 115
release from jail by bribery and intercession, but he had to swear that he would never
enter Prague, but stay seven parsangs from there, as recorded in the minutes book of
the Prague [J ewish] community.
While the text stressed the sins of the J ews and their great repentanceto the
extent of observing Yom Kippur for two days!the subversive role of the slanderous
talebearers and informants, a commonly represented group in J osels text as well,
was central. Clearly the scope of what informing meant could be quite wide. As the
synod of 1603 decreed, informing was equivalent to violating ordinances meant to
secure the stability of J ewish life in Germany and should be punished by ostracism.
According to the text produced by the synod: It is well-known that many persons
have by the power of their wealth sought to break down the organization of J ewish
life in Germany, and have all but destroyed it completely. It is hoped that at some
future time they will be brought to justice. However, anyone who will henceforth act
in violation of the above ordinance shall be considered an informer and be ostracized
as described above.
77
As with J osels narrative, however, it is important to notice that a communitys
actions might be justied, their position strengthened, or their very existence assured,
by displacing blame onto wayward J ews and then overcoming such opponents.
In a very real sense, whether the culprits existed or not, or were as problematic
as presented, they allowed the community to contest external authority over and
treatment of the J ewish community in a remarkably powerful, but not particularly
overt, manner. Elisheva Carlebach has noted, regarding J osel of Rosheims depiction
of the expulsion of the J ews from Regensburg (in 1519), that by his elevation
of apostates to the status of primary hostile Other, J osel deected the ultimate
responsibility for oppression of J ews from the highest power in the land, where
responsibility manifestly resided, to an internal malefactor.
78
Combined with the
other forms of more direct political lobbying or religious debate, J ews could carve
out and better control their own internal identity as well as their place in the broader
society and the minds of their non-J ewish neighbors.
In other narratives of the past, accounts of J ewish triumph over their non-J ewish
enemies could have much the same effect. Especially when the enemies were
criminals or rebels, the defeat of such opponents, could underscore the historical
protection afforded the J ews and their ability to withstand political adversity. The
return of the J ews to Frankfurt, and the miracles associated with the J ews survival
at difcult times, as during the Thirty Years War, for example, were detailed in Sefer
77 Finkelstein, Jewish Self Government in the Middle Ages, p. 258.
78 Elisheva Carlebach, Between History and Myth: The Regensburg Expulsion in
J osel of Rosheims Sefer Ha-Miknah, in Elisheva Carlebach, J ohn M. Efron, and David N.
Myers (eds), Jewish History and Jewish Memory: Essays in Honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi
(Hanover, NH, 1998), pp. 4053, here at p. 46. This is Yosef Hayim Yerushalmis notion of
the profound internalization and concomitant glorication of the myth of the royal alliance
amongst J ews noted by David Myers; see David N. Myers, Of Marranos and Memory: Yosef
Hayim Yerushalmi and the Writing of J ewish History, in Jewish History and Jewish Memory,
pp. 121, here at p. 6.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 116
Yosef Ometz and in other accounts.
79
With its return to the city after the Fettmilch
uprising, the J ewish community commemorated the expulsion with a fast on 27
Elulparalleling the fast of Estherand a celebration of its return on 20 Adar.
80
The
ensuing Vinz-Purim celebrations included the Vintz-Hanss Lied as a centerpiece.
The text of the song was written by Elchanan bar Abraham Helen; the music came
from Die Schlacht von Pavia, a popular German melody of the sixteenth century.
81
Indeed, appropriating J ewish historical types and reapplying them, the Vintz-
Hanss character declared that he was your Haman in these times/and I am not
afraid of a Mordechai,/For none of you are pious enough for that,
82
denigrating the
infamous Vincent Fettmilch, while simultaneously brandishing a moral yardstick
against which the community had to measure itself. According to J uspa Hahn:
20 Adar I was established then a feast and joy, and tahanun is not said at the morning
prayers, only lamantzayach, and it is called among J ews Purim Vinzenz according to
the name of the miraculous matters that occurred on the eve of the day; therefore it was
appropriate, because our great fear, mentioned above, passed by, because, thank God,
we laid down with condence and no one to make us fear, and our sleep was pleasant.
Therefore, we established the day after it for a feast and joy similar to the Purim days that
were established after a day of war and (the) miracle. And the miracles that happened
surely desired that the commissioner of the bishop of Mainz and the landgrave of
Darmstadt, his exalted excellency, return us to our streets with great honor, in the presence
of many people going with ags and signs with military arrangements, and with drums
and with dancing; and at that exact hour we saw revenge for the suffering of the J ews.
Vincenz, mentioned earlier, and his partners among the rebels, were embarrassed by the
honor that was given to us, then they went to their reward they were hung outside the
city, and this was done to them with great hooks
83
[emphasis added]
J uspa ended the account with a reference to the quiet of the J ews enemies, paralleling
the quiet of the dogs when the J ews left Egypt, and to the last Temple. The historical
recounting that J uspa presented is indeed very much of the Purim genre, celebrating
the salvation of the J ews, noting the simultaneous honoring of the J ews and the
demise of the J ews enemies, but importantly adding contemporary context and
meaning as well.
Re-formulation and Convergence
Throughout the early modern period a variety of more general cultural developments
reveal the increasing concern over the past. There was an increase in the number
of books published detailing the lives of ancient emperors and other famous
79 See Yosef Ometz, pp. 1667 for miracles experienced during the Thirty Years War;
see also manifest miracles above (ibid., p. 292).
80 Friedrichs, Anti-J ewish Politics, p. 198.
81 Ibid, p. 198, n. 22.
82 Ibid., p. 199.
83 See Hahn, Yosef Ometz, section 1109, pp. 2423.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 117
individuals
84
and the portraiture of kings to conrm the antiquity and continuity of
ruling families.
85
We also nd growing political appropriation of historical exempla
(particularly in Italy, but also to some extent in Germany as well), and new interest in
preserving antiquities, evidenced by the Antiquarium at Duke Albrecht Vs Munich
residence.
86
While chronicles and polemics could provide important means for
admonishing co-religionists and contesting or mediating external authority, there
were other forms of early modern German J ewish expression that could accomplish
much the same.
While J ews could challenge detemporalization and external authority through
polemic, they could also re-inscribe themselves in other ways as well. Historical
chronicles were becoming more common and widely distributed in early modern
Germany. Let us examine this general phenomenon, noting particularly the examples
of two of the most important early modern universal chroniclers, those of Hartmann
Schedel and Sebastian Mnster, and in particular the latters portrayal of J ews and
J udaism, before turning to J ewish attempts to utilize chronicles to re-inscribe both
contemporary J ews and J ewish history within a broader historical tradition.
History was becoming more signicant in late medieval and early modern
Germany. A variety of chronicleslocal, regional, and even universal in scope
began to appear and exercise real impact in German culture. One of the most
important of these chronicles was the 1493 Chronicle of the World by Hartmann
Schedel.
87
Schedels chronicle was not simply a reference tool, but a deeply
penetrating discussion of late fteenth-century urban culture.
88
According to the
Commendatio, the booksellers advertisement for the chronicle bound into Schedels
own printed copy:
The great good fortune of the Ages has dawned upon us, dear reader, whether we think of
the universal peace of the world or the education of humankind. For nothing has hitherto
appeared that can guarantee scholars and all men of learning greater and deeper pleasure
than the New Book of Chronicles with its pictures of famous men and cities, which has
just been printed at the expense of rich citizens of Nuremberg.
The advertisement stressed that the chronicle would be entertaining, allowing the
reader to see the events of the past as they unfolded and must have appeared to
contemporaries.
Indeed, I venture to promise you, reader, so great a delight in reading it that you will think
that you are not reading a series of stories, but looking at them with your own eyes. For
you will see not only portraits of emperors, popes, philosophers, poets and other famous
men, each shown in the proper dress of his time, but also views of the most famous cities
84 Francis Haskell, History and Its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (New
Haven, 1993), p. 14.
85 Ibid., p. 53.
86 Ibid., p. 38.
87 Hartmann Schedel, Hartmann Schedel Chronicle of the World 1493: The Complete
and Annotated Nuremberg Chronicle, German Facsimile edition, Introduction and Appendix
by Stephan Fssel (Cologne, 2001).
88 Ibid., p. 8.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 118
and places throughout Europe, as each one rose, prospered and continued. When you look
upon all these histories, deeds, and wise sayings, you will think them all alive. Farewell,
and do not let this book slip through your hands.
89
[emphasis added]
Schedel had studied in Leipzig, earning a masters and doctorate in medicine and
had kept company with humanists and studied their works. After practicing as a
doctor in Nrdlingen in 1470, he eventually made his way back to Nuremberg by
1484, where he was elected a member of the Great Council and maintained close
relationships with various members of the city elite.
90
Schedel was interested in both
cosmography and geography, and he drew from a wide range of sources in compiling
his chronicle. The chronicle involved numerous individuals from Nuremberg, so
that some scholars have seen the chronicle as something of a community project.
91
The total number of copies printed in Latin may have been around 1,400; in German
around 700.
92
The volume was reprinted in Augsburg in 1496.
93
Throughout its pages, contemporary history was included in the chronicle, such
as the story of the Piper of Niklashausen for 1476.
94
The chronicle made passing
references to J ews, as in the alleged gruesome murder of a Christian child in Trent.
95
Host desecration accusations were also recounted in such places as Breslau, Passau,
and Regensburg.
96
In many of these passages, a stock image of the burning of the
J ews was used to accompany the text.
97
The chronicle expanded from the Holy WritingsAt the beginning of this work
we have stated that the Holy Scriptures also instruct us that the world has an end
98

and related that God was both the beginning and the end.
99
Temporal death and
life were contrasted to eternal life.
100
The chronicle concluded with a discussion of
the end of days: after which we have given a description of the histories and events
that are in the sixth age of the world until the fourth year of the imperial reign of
Friedrich III and in the seventh year of the Roman Empire, of his shining son King
Maximilian; with assistance and power of godly grace I have brought this book to
laudable perfect conclusion to report a little from the seventh and last age and end
of this world.
101
89 Ibid., p. 9.
90 Ibid., p. 10.
91 Ibid., pp. 1418.
92 Ibid., p. 32.
93 Ibid., p. 34.
94 Ibid., fol. cclv v.
95 Ibid., fol. ccliii v. The story is to be found in abridged form over 20 times in the
Chronicle.
96 For host desecration episodes, see ibid., fol. cclvii v (Breslau, Passau, Regensburg,
and so on).
97 Ibid., p. 27; woodcuts of the burning of J ews: fols cviii, cxvi, cxviii, cxxviii, cxxxiii,
cxxxvi, clxxx, cxci, ccv, ccxvi, ccxxviii, cclvii, all in v.
98 Ibid., fol. cclix.
99 Ibid., fol. cclx.
100 Ibid., fol. cclxir.
101 Ibid., fol. cclix.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 119
The genre of world histories and cosmographies attracted increasing attention
throughout the sixteenth century, both from Christians and J ews. For Christians,
such histories forced reckoning with time and memory from the Hebrew Bible; for
J ews, such histories seemed to demand engagement with a variety of non-J ewish
sources.
An important example of the engagement with J ews and J udaism, within the
context of history, is the renowned and cosmopolitan Cosmographia of Sebastian
Mnster (14881552), which was rst published in 1544 and then went through eight
editions during the authors lifetime and 35 more by 1628. Mnster was eminently
familiar with both J ewish exegesis and J ewish history, frequently borrowing from the
works of Rashi, Abraham Ibn Ezra (10891164), Moses ben Nahman (Nahmandies,
11941270), Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides, Ralbag, 12881344), David Kimhi
(Radak, c.1160c.1235), and Abraham ben David ha-Levi Ibn Daud (c.111080). In
fact, J ohannes Eck disparagingly referred to Mnster as Rabbi Mnster.
102
Given
his great familiarity with J ewish thought and its use in his grammatical, theological,
and geographical-historical works, it is worth considering Mnsters assessment of
J ews and J udaism in his broader universal history.
103
Sebastian Mnster was one of the most important early gures in the study of
the Hebrew language. Mnster appears to have had personal academic relations
with individual J ews, to whom he turned for Hebrew manuscripts and translations.
His extensive correspondence with some J ews, most notably Elijah Levita, is
well known and reveals a heavy inuence of J udaism on his work.
104
Mnsters
relationship to J udaism, however, revolved around not only his scientic inquiry into
linguistics and rabbinics; it seems to have had a rather more personal relationship as
well. According to the scholar Heinz Burmeister, Mnster had attended synagogue
services frequently,
105
was familiar with the practices of German J ews,
106
and studied
J ewish gravestone inscriptions in both Heidelberg and Basel.
107
A reconstruction
of Mnsters library reveals that he was acquainted with a signicant amount of
rabbinic literature.
108
Yet Mnsters position toward J udaism was rather complex. His stance on
conversion of the J ews, a central theme of many Christian Hebraists and ofcial
Church policies, was rather ambivalent. Mnster frequently met attempts at expulsion
of J ews with one side of the Augustinian argument that Christ had himself wanted
the J ews to remain unbelievers until the end of the world as an example for true
102 See Erwin I. J . Rosenthal, Sebastian Muensters Knowledge and Use of J ewish
Exegesis, in I. Epstein, E. Levine, and C. Roth (eds), Essays in Honor of the Very Rev. Dr. J.
H. Hertz (London, 1943), pp. 35169.
103 For a general overview of Mnsters relationship to J udaism and his use of specic
sources, see Karl Heinz Burmeister, Sebastian Mnster: Versuch eines biographischen
Gesamtbildes (Basel, 1969), pp. 7286.
104 Burmeister, Sebastian Mnster, pp. 756.
105 Ibid., pp. 73ff.
106 Ibid., p. 74.
107 Ibid.
108 Ibid., p. 76; for a list of his extensive sources from antiquity, the Middle Ages, and
contemporary writers, see pp. 152ff.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 120
(Christian) believers.
109
Even in his remarks regarding the polemical Sefer Nizzahon,
Mnsters comments were more polemical and apologetic than missionary.
110
This
reverence for Hebraica and certain aspects of rabbinic literature, as well as his
personal relations with individual J ews and J ewish communities, intertwined with
more contemporary and frequently less friendly views of J ews and J udaism.
The Cosmographia, on which he worked between 1524 and its rst printing
in 1544, was perhaps Mnsters most magnicent work. It was a historical work,
but not as one might traditionally conceive of history and not one that was strictly
chronological. The work was rather encyclopedic, covering a variety of aspects of
geography, history, botany, zoology, archaeology, and ethnography. It has often been
viewed as more a geographical treatise than a historical work, or at least a geography
historically oriented.
111
The work in fact belied a notion of history that was grounded
in geography and a belief that without geography an orderly history could not be
written.
112
In fact, Mnster saw the relationship between geography and history as
inseparable. In his preface to the Cosmographia he noted that his task in this book
is to describe the entire world, which requires a diffuse and healthy disposition
so that one might distinguish the true from the false, the certain from the uncertain.
For Mnster, histories were nothing other than examples of what one secures,
how this or that matter developed, how human wit and providence is oftentimes
uncertain, indeed blind, and [evidence] that everything depends upon the hand of
God, who effects everything in everything. All of our advice is hindering where
there is no measure of the design of God.
113
Everything, according to Mnster,
happens because of the order that God establishes in both the heavens and on earth,
not ex fortuna vel causa.
114
Given this emphasis, Mnsters presentation of the lands
and customs of different peoples took on something of an ecumenical tone.
Mnster marshaled a host of biblical,
115
ancient, medieval, and contemporary
sources throughout the six books of the Cosmographia.
116
He incorporated extensive
genealogies of ruling (secular and ecclesiastical) European families.
117
He also
recounted major historical and political events, including the Christianization of
109 Ibid., p. 81.
110 Ibid., pp. 834. For Mnsters use of Sefer Nizahhon, see Stephen G. Burnett,
Dialogue of the Deaf: Hebrew Pedagogy and Anti-J ewish Polemic in Sebastian Mnsters
Messiahs of the Christians and the Jews (1529/39), Archive for Reformation History 91
(2000): 16890.
111 Burmeister, Sebastian Mnster, p. 163.
112 Sebastian Mnster, Cosmographia (Basel, 1583), fol. iii v.
113 Ibid., fol. ii r.
114 Ibid., fol. ii v.
115 See, for example, his discussion of J erusalem, fols mccxcviiimccxcix.
116 The rst book is a discourse about more formal elements of geography. The subsequent
books treat geographical regions at the local, territorial, and national levels, beginning with
known Europe (Ireland, England, Spain, France, and Italy) in book two, Germany in book
three (which is the longest and most involved in the work), the remainder of Europe (including
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Greece, and Turkey) in book four, Asia in book
ve, and Africa in book six.
117 Mnster, Cosmographia, fol. ccccxiiii.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 121
Germany,
118
and a litany of German urban histories throughout book three. These
included customs and dialects of the various German people,
119
as well as the host of
maps and woodcuts of cities and personalities for which the work is famous.
While much of Mnsters presentation seems rather objective (as for example his
discussion of J ohn Hus)
120
and even somewhat critical (utilizing diverse sources),
he frequently repeated the historical tales of other sources, and at times interwove
them with handed-down fantasies and his own theological perspectives. Mnster,
for example, was not slow to take up rather fantastic descriptionsverbal and
pictorialin describing the marvels of Africa.
121
Early on in the Cosmographia, Mnster articulated his general understanding
of the J ews as a people who rejected J esus and who were consequently scattered
and persecuted. He wrote that the J ews and after them the pagans wanted to excise
Christ and his holy teaching against the advice of God, but what has happened to
them? The J ews have been run into the ground and the pagans took on their [own]
error and false religion. Mnster concluded that, In times of old the Holy Land
owed with milk and honey, but now it is a fuming, bitter, and uncouth ground.
122
Mnster also criticized what he saw as the fantastic lie of the J ews regarding the
location of Paradise in an earthy garden. Instead he countered with an interpretation
that the empire of Christ, or Paradise, was not in this world.
123
Like other Christian
Hebraists of the sixteenth century, he clearly offered a theological stance that was
willing to incorporate Hebraica while criticizing J udaism.
At times Mnster presented a rather even hand in his descriptions of persecutions
of J ews; in these incidents he noted that cries arose against the J ews, but he did not
give details or offer any credence to the accusations. This seems particularly true for
the more recent cases he cited, for example in his discussion of the J ews in Lisbon
in 1506,
124
and to a somewhat lesser extent, in his representation of the ritual murder
accusation of Simon of Trent.
125
On the other hand, Mnster frequently re-circulated
traditional anti-J ewish accusations, as for example in the alleged secret murder of
a Christian child by the J ews leading to their expulsion from France in 1182 at the
hands of Philip,
126
or in the accusations of well-poisoning in 1322 that were rst
directed against the lepers and then the J ews.
127
Overall, then, Mnsters Cosmographia is an impressive work that combined
incredible detail and ourishes of innovative methodology in selection and
organization of material with very traditional historical accounts. The nature of
118 Ibid., fol. cccclxx.
119 Ibid., fol. cccclxxviii.
120 Ibid., fols mcxxmcxxi.
121 Ibid., fol. mccccxiii
122 Ibid., fol. ii r.
123 Ibid., fol. xxxvii.
124 Ibid., fols lxxvilxxvii.
125 Ibid., fol. cccxlii. For a comparison of how Schedel and Mnster, among other
fteenth- and sixteenth-century chroniclers portrayed Simon of Trent, see Wolfgang Treue,
Die Trienter Judenprozess (Hannover, 1996), pp. 30840, especially pp. 3316.
126 Ibid., fol. cxci.
127 Ibid., fol. cxcii.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 122
the organization and the relation of customs and geography to historical incidence
marked an important contribution to historical thinking in the sixteenth century.
The Cosmographia appeared to be a more scientic study, and its emphasis on
common development underlying regional variation and divergence represented an
important sixteenth-century change. The emphasis on geography forced a somewhat
universal and comparative perspective that downplayed religious difference, even if
Mnster set the parameters for fundamental difference in his preface.
Mnster, however, did not seem to have shared the rather more radical stance of
Sebastian Franck (c.14991542), who, in his Weltbuch of 1534, criticized external
ceremonies and customs, maintaining instead that true belief was internal.
128
Indeed,
Mnster stressed the order of God as manifest both in heaven and in the world. The
customs that Franck described to dismiss out of hand, Mnster offered as central
content in his work. Mnster did have something like a fundamental historical
philosophy that was basically theological: lands, even the Holy Land, and civilizations
change over time, but God alone is unchangeable.
129
This was a somewhat different
orientation from that of Franck; the universalization for Mnster was in Gods
ordering not in mans internal belief. Mnsters work did receive a good deal of
criticism; yet it became a very popular work, as noted above, and seems eventually
to have been appealing to a broader burgher audience almost as a Hausbuch.
An interesting comparison of ways in which early modern J ews engaged non-
J ewish society and historical reckoning is possible with the chronicle of David Gans
(15411613). Gans was simultaneously a chronicler, astronomer, and mathematician,
who studied Talmud at Bonn and Frankfurt. A student of many of the leading rabbis
of the age, familiar with a variety of both German and Czech chronicles, Gans
was also in contact with leading non-J ewish intellectuals and the eclectic court of
Rudolph II in Prague.
Gans addressed the external world in a universal chronicle format, in some ways
similar to that of Schedel and Mnster. He combined J ewish and non-J ewish history
and historical sources, though he was aware of the tensions in combining them, and
he offered two parts to his book, one treating J ewish historical developments and
the other profane history.
130
His method was one of chronological and annalistic
compilation, rather than critical historical interpretation, that served an apologetic
attempt to establish the traditional J ewish position on the dating of the world since
creation.
131
128 See my Sacred Communities, pp. 2357.
129 Burmeister, Sebastian Mnster, p. 161.
130 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, pp. 778; B.Z. Dageni, The Structure of
World History, Zion 45:3 (1980): 173200 [Hebrew], here at p. 173. See also Salo Baron,
History and Jewish Historians: Essays and Addresses (Philadelphia, 1964), p. 192 for de
Rossis argument regarding the use of sources of Gentile origin; and see Meor Einayim I, 75
(c. 89). For de Rossis rationalizations, and their inherent aws, see Lester A. Segal, Historical
Consciousness and Religious Tradition in Azariah de Rossis Meor Einayim (Philadelphia,
1989), pp. 55ff.
131 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 60.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 123
Ganss work was more a universal or world chronicle than many of the works of
his German colleagues, who tended to write much narrower territorial histories.
132
Historical events for Gans provided examples of human behavior to be emulated or
avoided. This was true even if Ganss moralism seems to have possessed a markedly
more secular
133
than theological tone when compared with other Christian or J ewish
writers of the time.
134
His description of the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius
in 82,
135
for example, detailed the destruction of cities and the death of people and
animals, without thereby attributing the causality to divine punishment for sins.
136
Ganss chronicle Zemah David was intended for a lay audience and the items that
it reported may have reected popular tastes of the period. He recorded natural
disasters and portents, wars, rebellions and violence, technology, and the geography
of distant lands, especially those newly discovered.
137
Circulating in imperial courtly circles, Gans grafted a very mediated relationship
between J ews and Christians, one that used historical events to chart common
history, placing J ewish development rmly within more general developments. Like
Sebastian Mnster and his J ewish contemporary Azariah de Rossi, Gans displayed a
deep-rooted interest in geography and science.
138
Like Mnster, he balanced traditional
sources and outlooks with new ways of organizing and conceiving history and the
world around him.
139
Given his own nature and interests in astronomyas well as his
contacts with great non-J ewish thinkers of the time such as Tycho Brahe
140
and the
environment of Prague, with its rich J ewish intellectual tradition and personalities
132 Ibid., pp. 612.
133 See ibid., pp. 68ff for an assessment of Ganss practical and secular attitude and his
critique of the typical Ashkenazic rabbi of his time and the institution of ordination.
134 Ibid., pp. 657.
135 Gans, Zemah David, p. 218.
136 The import of celestial and earthly phenomena and their reection of divine providence
appear frequently throughout the work. For other natural disasters, see ibid., pp. 225, 226,
305, 308, 405ff.
137 It is after his brief description of the discovery of the new world (1533, Amerigo)
that he mentions Mnster and his Cosmographia (ibid., p. 391). Breuer, Modernism and
Traditionalism, p. 65; Breuer, Introduction, in Gans, Zemah David, p. xiv.
138 See Baron, History and Jewish Historians, p. 181.
139 Indeed, the tensions in Ganss project and his outlook in general have been well
stated with regard to his relation to science. According to Andre Neher: Three ways, then,
opened up for David Gans: that of submission to the authority of the Gentiles and acceptance
of the Ptolemaic system, whose chief J ewish representative was the great Moses Maimonides;
that of the Maharal, who also recognized the scientic supremacy of Gentile astronomy, but
placed above it a purely J ewish astronomy which, however, is not scientic and is the only one
to possess the absolute truth. And, lastly, there was that of the Rema, with his very vague and
generalized approach of a simultaneous respect for J ewish tradition and the Ptolemaic system,
ended in a state of painful anxiety. See Andre Neher, Jewish Thought and the Scientic
Revolution of the Sixteenth Century: David Gans (15411613) and his Times, trans. David
Maisel (Oxford, 1986), p. 214; on his conciliatory role between de Rossi and Maharal, see
Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 58, and Breuer, Introduction, p. vii.
140 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 57.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 124
and the resplendent and eclectic court of Rudolph II, Gans combined J ewish interest
with European stimuli.
141
Although well read in both Hebrew sources and German and Czech chronicles,
Gans apparently knew little Latin.
142
Still, the sources utilized by Gans were diverse,
if not as broad as those used by de Rossi (who culled the ancient philosophers, a
variety of early Church Fathers (such as Augustine, J ustin Martyr and Origen) as
well as medieval Christian authorities).
143
Gans cited J ewish historians, and talmudic,
biblical, as well as non-J ewish sources.
144
Often, Gans noted his sources directly. At
times he seemed to have weighed them with some rigor, while at other times he
accepted the information they relayed as a matter of course.
145
J ewish suffering and internal schism were retold in Zemah David. The description
of the rst crusade of 4856 (1096) was presented with details of the massacres of
the J ews, and the decrees against the J ews were attributed to the sins of the J ews
themselves,
146
though there is little overt enmity toward Christians expressed directly
in the passage:
In the year 4856, Christians from Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and England, more than
600,000 warriors, assembled and agreed to descend upon J erusalem, and they placed red
cross[es] on their clothes as a sign, as we will explain in part two. And there was for the
J ews much grief and trouble because the Christians rose up against them to avenge their
savior, that is to say, they went [to] wipe out from the nations and no longer remember
the name of Israel. And there were then in that year, because of our sins, decrees and
persecution in all scattered communities in Germany, France, Spain, England, Italy,
Bohemia, Hungary, decrees which were not heard the like of for evil. And they were
slaughtered and murdered especially through kiddush Hashem. How many?: thousands
and multitudes, and many killed themselves, men their brothers and neighbors, sons and
daughters .
147
An even briefer and more detached presentation is given for 4946 (1186) for the
expulsion of the J ews from France and for the great expulsion from Spain in 5152
(1492).
148
On the other hand, persecutions are mentioned throughout the end of the
rst book, in the period of the later Middle Agesincluding reference to another
expulsion from France in 5066 (1306)
149
and even the martyrdom of individual
141 Ibid., pp. 5053.
142 Ibid., p. 56.
143 Baron, History and Jewish Historians, pp. 178, 22630. More recently, see J oanna
Weinbergs introduction in her translated and annotated edition of Azariah de Rossi, The
Light of the Eyes (New Haven, 2001).
144 See, for example, Zemah David, p. 200.
145 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 62; Breuer, Introduction, pp. xxiiixv,
for Hebrew sources; and pp. xvxxvi, for German sources.
146 The moral argument, therefore, was not absent in Gans. Among the sources that he cited
for this section were various selihot. See Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 65.
147 Zemah David, pp. 11718.
148 Ibid., p. 136.
149 Ibid., p. 129.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 125
J ewssuch as Mordechai bar Hillel, the student of Moshe baal haSemag in
Nuremberg.
150
Gans, rather unconventionally for a pre-modern J ew, gave attention to the history
of Christian martyrology and internal schism among Christian sects. He discussed
the murder of Christians at the hands of Nero in 64,
151
and the murder of members of
all the Christian sects by Trajan in 111.
152
Ganss discussion of kings and emperors
frequently began by mentioning their skill, glory, wisdom, or power. According to
Gans, Emperor J ulius, for example, was a powerful soldier and warrior, like none
other since the day that God created Edom on the earth. And from the womb of his
mother he grew to study every wisdom, all that God made prosperous in his hand,
and he walked and grew from day to day until he became the ruler of Rome and he
conquered all of France in great and terrible wars .
153
Ganss emphasis on Christian martyrdom and imperial rulers was in part due to
his strong messianism,
154
which focused on the motif of the Four Empires, each of
which would pass in succession before the messianic era.
155
A number of possible
sources for his messianism have been suggested, including the messianism of
contemporary German chronicles and Protestant historiography;
156
the increasingly
favorable position of the J ews in at least some Christian landsas indicated in
the economic usefulness of the J ews to the burgeoning State; and the renewed
appreciation of Christians for J ewish culture as evidenced in the work of a growing
body of Christian Hebraists.
157
Throughout, Gans offered a portrait of Christianity that was seemingly
scientic and detached. Regarding the birth of J esus, Gans simply noted that
Yeshua the Nazarite was born in Beth Lehem in the year 3761 of the creation,
that is the forty-second year of the emperor Augustus, therefore this reckoning was
according to their knowledge in the days of Rabbi Shimon ben Hillel and in the days
of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai, and from that time is the beginning of the sects of the
Christians.
158
Gans followed this general statement with citations of other historical
150 Ibid.
151 Ibid., p. 215.
152 Ibid., p. 219. See also pp. 222ff (Antoninus), 233, 237, and 287 (the attacks of the
Norsemen).
153 Ibid., p. 206. Other rulers were presented in the same rather formulaic way: Tiberius
Nero, p. 209; Augustus, p. 211; Charlemagne, p. 282; Otto, p. 300; Maximilian, p. 385; see
also, pp. 231, 236, 238. Of course, he also presented negative qualities as well, as in Tiberius,
of whom it was noted, they wrote that this emperor was a master of evil midot (p. 211) and
Wenzel, c.1400, was described as evil (p. 363).
154 See the discussion of Molkho and Reuveni, ibid., pp. 1389; for a discussion of
Solomon Luria, see p. 142.
155 See ibid., p. 163 (book 2).
156 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 74; See Dageni, The Structure of World
History, particularly pp. 179ff.
157 Breuer, Modernism and Traditionalism, p. 78. See also Allison P. Coudert, The
Impact of the Kabbalah in the Seventeenth Century: The Life and Thought of Francis Mercury
van Helmont (16141698) (Leiden, 1999).
158 Zemah David, p. 210.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 126
works, and he placed the events within a broader J ewish historical framework. A
similarly detached presentation was given for the conversion of Constantine to
Christianity.
159
While Gans identied Emperor Henry IV as a wise man, who feared
God and who was a warrior, he presented the conict between Henry and the Pope
very succinctly, with no attacks against either.
160
J ohn Hus was described as a great
scholar among the Christians, but his conict with the Church was described quickly
and impartially.
161
Gans characterized Bohemia, however, as a land full of violence in this period,
with every faction seeking to consume its enemies.
162
Gans described the anti-J ewish
preaching of J ohn of Capistrano, who was sent to Silesia by Pope Nicholas V. But he
noted that despite J ohns diatribes, the inhabitants of Breslau did not want to listen to
the voice of the preacher and they protected the soul of the J ews and sent them from
the land [instead].
163
Luther was similarly mentioned quickly and uneventfully,
164
and the Anabaptist experiment in Mnster, which was called the new faith, was
briey recounted, focusing on its destruction.
165
Of course J ewish history was also wrapped up in the presentations of book two as
well, as for example in the construction of the bet ha-kaneset (synagogue) in Prague
in 997,
166
or, in the mention of Emperor Henry V who allowed J ews forcibly converted
to Christianity to return to J udaism in 1090.
167
The First Crusade description focused
on the Christian rulers in Israel, and quickly referred to the attacks on the J ews,
sending the reader back to the description in book one.
168
The 1541 expulsion of the
J ews from the kingdom of Bohemia was also recounted.
169
Zemah David was somewhat different from the other major German J ewish
chronicle of the sixteenth century, that of J osel of Rosheim. Gans presented events
within a broad political context that examined the connections between various events.
J osel, on the other hand, focused on the persecutions of J ews, presenting historical
context that found the central and undermining role of converts and informers in
the attacks on J ews and J ewish communities. For J osel, the moral state of the J ews,
their own sins, and the problems within the communities were directly linked to their
persecution. While the moral state of the J ews did appear in Zemah David, it played
a more modest role in Ganss understanding of historical development.
The introduction to Zemah David noted that the work chronicled the time from
Adam until contemporary times, until the time of our lord Rudolph
170
or from
159 Ibid., p. 239.
160 Ibid., p. 319.
161 Ibid., pp. 3645.
162 Ibid., p. 366.
163 Ibid., p. 371.
164 Ibid., p. 390.
165 Ibid., p. 392.
166 Ibid., p. 303.
167 Ibid., p. 317.
168 Ibid., p. 318.
169 Ibid., p. 394.
170 Ibid., p. 1.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 127
the beginning of the creation until our time.
171
Gans was clearly writing with
contemporary events and situations in mind, and a phrase that turned up time and
again throughout the text was up until this day. Gans intended to cover all of the
periods of the four monarchies, viz., Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome, and all of
the kings who ruled them from the time of Nimrod ben Kush until the time of our
lord, Emperor Rudolph (may his glory be exalted) and the many things that happened
in their days .
172
But Gans continued that, however, I have set aside for them a
section from this book in order to distinguish between the holy and the profane and
not mix matters of the living God in matters of dried hay .
173
Throughout, Gans
was careful to note that any statements he made were not against our holy Torah
and not against the sayings of the sages.
174
Ganss historiographical orientation was perhaps best revealed in the introduction
to part two of Zemah David. He noted that the words of this second part from the
writings of the books of the Greeks and from other books of foreigners were not
meant to be equivalent to, or worse, uproot J ewish law and tradition.
175
Gans saw
clearly that he would be attacked for his use of non-J ewish sources: I see in advance
that many will speak out against me, condemn me, and consider me sinful because
I have taken material from non-J ewish writers.
176
Gans, however, noted that other
J ewish writers had utilized non-J ewish sources, and he asserted that Scripture itself
has allowed us to search in non-J ewish books for accounts of events which can
be of some use to us.
177
In fact, Gans found many benets to be derived from the
accounts of this section,
178
including evidence of Divine Providence; the admonition
to be humble; warning that a person should be on his guard against a minor as well
as a powerful enemy; advice not to oppose powerful rulers; knowledge that Gods
justice punishes the wicked even in this world; introduction of moral maxims of
the emperors, which leave a great impression on the masses;
179
evidence for dates
and sayings of our Sages; understanding the import of celestial signs; the ability to
respond to those nations among whom we travel; and encouragement to pray to God
to restore our judges as of old and to bring about the messianic redemption, when
we see that we have neither king nor ruler while in exile.
Frequently Gans presented both Hebrew and Christian dates, and he discussed the
position in antiquity of the geographical areas that most interested him, particularly
Bohemia and Germany. He gave details of Alexander of Macedon
180
as well as of the
Goths.
181
Ganss mixing of sources and his treatment of J ewish and Christian events
strikes one as rather objective and historical. It is worth remembering that Gans
171 Ibid., p. 6.
172 Ibid.
173 Ibid.
174 Ibid., p. 15.
175 Ibid., p. 163.
176 Meyer, Ideas of Jewish History, p. 128 (Zemah David, p. 164).
177 Ibid., pp. 1289 (Zemah David, p. 165).
178 Ibid., pp. 12931 (Zemah David, pp. 1657).
179 Zemah David, p. 212.
180 Ibid., pp. 194ff, in his discussion of the Four Monarchies.
181 Ibid., pp. 192ff.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 128
was still rather traditional in fundamental ways. For our purposes, I would like
to return to one point made earlier. Among the important reasons for studying the
past, Gans noted recognition of God, moral lessons, and the ability to respond to
contemporary situations. For Gans, history allowed J ews both to be a part of broader
society and to maintain their own place within that society. As such, Gans offered yet
another means to contend with detemporalization and the threat of marginalization.
One nal example will clarify this point. In his discussion of voyages to the New
World, Gans like Azariah de Rossi before him encouraged his J ewish readers to be
familiar with important contemporary events and developments. It was not simply
that Gans was exuberant about the scientic discoveries of his day, though he was
that. Gans wanted his co-religionists to have knowledge of the discoveries, but he
also wanted them to know that ancient J ews had known about and contributed a
great deal to human knowledge. Like de Rossi, Gans maintained that the New World
was to be equated with the biblical Ophir and was consequently rst discovered by
the J ews themselves.
182
J ews, then, could take part in contemporary society while
continuing to insist on their unique place in and contributions to history.
General European concerns with dating had very real impact on the position of
J ews within European, and for that matter, world history. In the late sixteenth century
no less than 50 schemes for dating the history of the world were advanced, based
primarily upon interpretations of and calculations from the Old Testament.
183
By
the middle of the following century, Protestants and Catholics alike could agree on
a BC dating system that framed history within a Christian perspective.
184
In either
case, when universal dating schemes were competing or when a markedly Christian
scheme received near universal acceptance, J ews had to be concerned not only to
maintain internal dating and controls, but also to ensure that they did not lose their
place in the narration of a more universal past.
Conclusions
In the engagement of the non-J ewish world through chronicles, which consciously
drew from and described the non-J ewish world, J ews could again become a part of
world history. Indeed, they might even become its dening center! But there were
a variety of other ways of engaging, and contesting the external. In part, this could
be effected through religious debate and polemic, as we saw in the case of Hesse,
where J osel of Rosheim re-inscribed J ews as the true Israelites, the true Chosen
People of God. But as the case of J osel demonstrates, through chronicles apparently
intended for internal J ewish audiences J ews could also confront external authority
and come out on top. Straw men, such as apostates and informers, who were seen to
represent external authority or external and evil threats to the internal harmony and
182 See Noah J . Efron, Knowledge of Newly Discovered Lands among J ewish
Communities of Europe (From 1492 to the Thirty Years War), in Paolo Bernardini and
Norman Fiering (eds), The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West 14501800 (New
York, 2001), pp. 4772, here at pp. 61, 645.
183 Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, p. 177.
184 Ibid., p. 178.
Politics, Polemics, and History: Assessing Jewish Identity 129
security of J ewish communities, could be set up and toppled. Their machinations
against the J ews could offer an opportunity for moral upbraiding at the same time
that they provided an excuse for the evil that befell the J ews. Yet, in many cases, such
informers could be overcome and J ewish communities could be saved or returned
to their former status or settlement. In all of these cases, narratives of past events
whether actual or perceivedallowed J ews to engage with the world outside and,
at times, to defeat it, or at the very least to put it back in its place. There were other
narratives of the past that allowed J ews to do much the same. These included legal
decision-making and the narratives involving various myths and legends. It is to
these sources that we now turn.
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Chapter 6
From Law to Legend: Narrating J ewish
and Christian Encounters
In addition to polemical exchangeat times direct as in the political activity of
J osel of Rosheim and at times less explicit as in the chronicling of David Gans
J ews had at their disposal various other means to re-inscribe themselves in the past,
and consequently, in the power relations of the present. As masters of their own
legal tradition, for example, they dictated the historical status of non-J ews in their
own legal deliberations, while simultaneously demonstrating the long and involved
interaction between J ews and Christians. Through various folkloric tales, J ews
presented themselves and their communities as of ancient provenance, integral to
the development of particular cities, regions, or nations. The writing down of origin
stories in particular J ewish communitieswhether they stressed the origins of the
J ews in the city or merely made J ews familiar with the more general history of the
cityserved further to reinforce early modern J ewish identity. While J ews were thus
inserted into the general lore of the city, they also etched out their own stockpile of
events, which at times allowed them to contest external authority in indirect ways.
The recounting of wonder stories and the power of J ewish mystics similarly afforded
J ews the opportunity to defend themselves, even when such defenses may have been
more imagined than real.
In what follows I examine in more detail these various methods of re-inscription.
Along the way, the complexity of J ewish and Christian relations in early modern
Germany will become apparent. I begin with a look at the presentation of Christianity
and memory in the legal writings of Yair Hayyim Bacharach, before turning to the
role of memory in the wonder stories collected by J uspa, shammash of Worms, and
narratives describing the origins of J ewish communities.
Law and the Past: Yair Hayyim Bacharach and Jewish and Christian Relations
In legal decisions and discussions of community customs, representations of the past
could have important implications for both describing and contesting Christian and
J ewish relations. A few examples can be found in the responsa and commentaries
of Rabbi Yair Hayyim ben Moses Samson Bacharach, a descendant of the Maharal
of Prague (J udah Loew) through his mother.
1
Before we examine these cases it is
helpful to provide a brief context for Bacharch.
1 David Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach (16381702) (Trier, 1894), p. 3; See
also Shulkhan Arukh Orakh Hayyim im Perush Mekor Hayyim (hereafter MH), vol. 1, p. 7.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 132
Bacharach was one of the profound intellectual giants of early modern Germany.
He possessed a deep background in J ewish legal and kabbalistic sources, as well
as broad knowledge in a variety of secular elds.
2
Intimately connected with the
scholarship of his predecessors and conversant with many of the scholars of his age
throughout Germany,
3
in addition to his own works Bacharach also published the
responsa of his grandfather and father in 1679.
4
Bacharach was born in Leipnik, Moravia in 1638.
5
His father was head of the
rabbinic court in Worms and author of Shemen ha-Meor.
6
His grandfather, Rabbi
Abraham Samuel Bacharach, himself a noted scholar, also served as head of the
rabbinic court in Worms.
7
Bacharach spent time with his father in Prague (1643)
8
and
Worms (1650?),
9
before studying in Fulda for six years (1654), steeped in Talmud
and Codes,
10
and then at the yeshivah of Rabbi Mendel Bass in Frankfurt,
11
where
he was ordained.
12
In Fulda he married Sarlanthe daughter of Rabbi Sussman
Brilin, in whose house he studied and who was related to the Maharal and to the
important Oppenheimer family.
13
He then served briey as rabbi and head of the bet
din, or rabbinic court, of Koblenz from 1666 until 1669 (and then briey in Mainz),
14
leaving perhaps due to partisan intrigue within the community.
15
In 1669 Bacharach resettled in Worms, where he succeeded his father as community
rabbi briey upon the latters death.
16
But, in what came as a terrible blow, Bacharach
was passed over as permanent communal rabbi in favor of Rabbi Aaron Teomim from
2 Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 12; J acob Haberman, Bacharach, J air
Hayyim ben Moses Samson, in Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 4, cc. 468.
3 See Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 69ff.
4 MH, p. 8.
5 Additional general information can be found in J uspa Shammash of Worms, Minhagim,
pp. 556.
6 See ibid., pp. 524.
7 MH, p. 7.
8 Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, p. 27.
9 Ibid., pp. 4, 278.
10 Ibid., p. 38.
11 MH, p. 7.
12 Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, p. 42; Haberman, Bacharach, J air Hayyim,
c. 47.
13 Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, p. 39; for information on his children, see
pp. 44ff; for information on some of the Brilin family in Worms, see Yair Hayyim Bacharach
(ed.), Wormser Minhagbuch des R. Jousep (Juspa) Schammes, prepared by Erich Zimmer, 2
vols (J erusalem, 1988) (Hebrew), here at vol. 1, pp. 512.
14 MH, pp. 7, 15; Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 5051. See responsum 115,
regarding the city and its relationship to a nearby community, and responsum 135, regarding
moving about at night in various communities, some of which were restricted behind a wall
and locked at night as in Frankfurt, as opposed to Trier, Koblenz, Manheim, and Heidelberg,
where J ews were accustomed to move around the entire city (Havot Yair, vol. 2, p. 367
Bacharach discussed whether the prohibition of movement referred to the entire city or only
J ews, and what kind of movement between houses would be permissible).
15 Haberman, Bacharach, J air Hayyim, c. 47.
16 Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 534.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 133
Prague.
17
When Worms was occupied by the French and much of the Jewish quarter
destroyed in 1689,
18
Bacharach like many other members of the community ed to
Metz,
19
spending time soon after in Frankfurt, where he attempted to collect some
debts, and then Heidelberg.
20
With the reconstitution of the Worms community in
1699, Bacharach was nally appointed communal rabbi, but he lived only three more
years, dying in 1702.
Bacharach was a prolic writer, and his extensive responsa, known as Havot
Yair, have been published several times since 1699.
21
The conditions under which he
published these responsa, namely the wandering forced upon him and other Jews after
the expulsion from Worms, are discussed briey in his introduction to the responsa.
22
Bacharach may have written in excess of 40 volumes of material and notes,
most of which remain unpublished or lost. The contents of some of these volumes
23
have been discussed by David Kaufmann in the central, if now dated, study of
Bacharach.
24
These writings reect a variety of interests ranging from halakhic
compendia, customs (for example of Metz
25
), commentaries on a variety of works,
including those of Isaiah Horowitz (c.15651630)
26
and the works of members of his
own family,
27
brief chronicles
28
and historical extracts (including those describing
messianic movements,
29
particularly the Sabbatian movement,
30
and the history of
the community in Worms
31
), as well as mathematics and natural science.
Bacharach, therefore, was an important early modern gure who was broadly
learned, embroiled in various communal matters, and familiar with the non-J ewish
world around him. His narration of past events refracted his own experiences as well
as familial and communal experiences and lore to lead the J ewish community and to
navigate the non-J ewish environment in which that community was steeped.
17 Ibid., pp. 546.
18 Ibid., pp. 71ff.
19 Ibid., pp. 735.
20 Ibid., p. 78; Haberman, Bacharach, J air Hayyim, c. 48.
21 Frankfurt; see Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 10811; Bacharach himself
outlines the history and order of some of his publications, including Havot Yair, Hut Shayni,
and Mekor Hayyimsee his introduction in Havot Yair, vol. 1, p. 11.
22 See ibid., pp. 11ff.
23 Vols 19, 11, 14, 1720, 224, 35, 37, 46.
24 See Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 1214, for the foreword to the
catalog.
25 Vol. 17.
26 Vol. 20.
27 Vols 22, 23, 46.
28 Vol. 17.
29 Vol. 7.
30 Vol. 35. Bacharach collected writings associated with the messianic pretensions
of Shabbetai Zevi and recognized him for many years as a pseudo messiah (Haberman,
Bacharach, J air Hayyim, c. 47; see also Kaufmann, R. Jar Chajjim Bacharach, pp. 4950).
In one place, for example, Bacharach wrote and still today nobody knows until when [he will
come] and there was there the messiah, the aforementioned, our rabbi Shabbetai Zevi, in the
community of Ismir (Bacharach (ed.), Wormser Minhagbuch, p. 56).
31 Vol. 24 (see also vol. 46).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 134
Bacharachs commentary to J oseph J uspa Shammash of Worms customs for the
community of Worms offered a good deal of historical information about some of
the key events in the history of the J ewish community in Worms, both in internal
social and political developments and in external events (a broad outline of these
developments is presented below). While he mentioned the specic rulings of
his father, the circumcisions, weddings, and deaths of prominent members of the
community were also detailed.
32
Distant events, such as the murder of J ews during the Black Death (5109, 1349)
were also recorded because they became fast days for the Worms community.
33
But
contemporary history was of particular importance, as Bacharach assembled the
customs and laws of the J ews. He noted, for example, a fast day imposed on the
community on the eve of Rosh Hodesh Shevat (beginning of the Hebrew month of
Shevat) in remembrance of the expulsion of the J ews from Worms in the year 1615,
34
explaining that the next day could not be a fast day since it was Rosh Hodesh itself.
35
Communally dened moments dictated much of the historical, and indeed liturgical,
memory of Bacharach and the other J ews of Worms. In commenting on the particular
liturgical order of a service, for example, Bacharach wrote that it was not followed
in Worms. He went on to note that he heard that [they said the blessings] before
the expulsion that was in the year 5375 (1615) in Worms, but at that time there were
many uncircumcised in the synagogue owing to our sins. This situation continued
until the year 5380 (1620), and people were unable to gather for prayers and were
forced to pray alone or in small groups.
36
Bacharach was quick to understand contemporary events and their impact upon
the J ewish community. For the year 1664 (5424), for example, he noted the war
between the Turks and the Habsburgs and the attacks on many towns in Hungary.
He concluded that and those uncircumcised enemies of Israel pronounced lies
against the Children of Israel stating that we rejoiced in the success of the Turks
and other things that we do not want to write .
37
As noted at the end of Chapter
3, this resulted in a prohibition being placed on the community, the parnasim and
the household heads [baal habatim] not to light a bonre on Simhat Torah as was
customary each year, so that there would not be an impression that the J ews were
32 See Bacharach (ed.), Worms Minhagbuch, p. 179, for example, which mentions the
death in 1670/71 of Beila and also his father; p. 249 regarding memorial; for members of the
Oppenheim family and the parnasim and their families, see vol. 2, pp. 104, 105.
33 See ibid., vol. 1, p. 253. The minhag book also elucidated J ewish and Christian
relations in sections dealing with wine in Worms (vol. 2, pp. 127ff) and fruits and animals of
Gentiles (vol. 2, pp. 130ff).
34 Ibid., pp. 278; See also Havot Yair, vol. 1, responsum 126.
35 The Worms minhag book itself discusses the two guests that saved the community;
see Bacharach (ed.), Worms Minhagbuch, vol. 1, pp. 945 and vol. 2, pp. 2478, that I
have discussed elsewhere. See my Worms and the J ews: J ews, Magic, and Community
in Seventeenth-Century Worms, in Kathryn A. Edwards (ed.), Werewolves, Witches, and
Wandering Spirits: Folklore and Traditional Belief in Early Modern Europe (Kirksville,
2002), pp. 93118.
36 Bacharach (ed.), Wormser Minhagbuch, vol. 1, p. 48.
37 Ibid., vol. 2, p. 231.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 135
celebrating the defeats of the Christians in battle.
38
Similarly, when a war broke out
between the Duke of the Palatinate and the ruler of Thuringia in 1669 (5429), the
J ews in Worms also did not allow bonres, though general celebratory actions, such
as drinking wine and eating fruits, were permitted as customary.
39
Early modern German politics were quite complex. In another responsum,
40
Bacharach discussed Duke Karl Ludwig of blessed memory(!) and his shrewd
political maneuvers. In this context, he mentioned a certain Rabbi Isaac who was av
bet din and head of the J ews in the region (medinah) of the Palatinate. Previously
Rabbi Isaac also headed the community in Hamelburg, when the J ews were expelled
from there in the year 5431 (1671). Again, the responsum, which pointed out the
territorial divisions and the political complexities of the period, suggested something
of the signicance of political division and the interconnection between disperse
regional J ewish communities.
While there was little in the way of discussion of Gentiles in his commentary
Mekor Hayyim, Bacharachs commentary to parts of J oseph Karos Shulhan Arukh,
Bacharach did note one discussion (he referenced the Talmudic tractate Hullin 13b)
regarding whether Gentiles in this time were considered idol worshippers. He
also took up this issue in a number of places in his responsa, most extensively in
responsum 1,
41
where he concluded that worshippers of the stars and fortunes (as
well as trees
42
) were not equivalent to Gentiles in this day, who are not drawn
toward the service of idolatry.
43
The distinction he relied upon was culled from the
book of Isaiah, Sefer Yossipon, and the commentaries of Rashi, and was basically
one between the Greeks and modern Gentiles.
44
In commenting on the custom of making a wine-vat kosher that belonged to
Gentiles,
45
Bacharach cited a passage from the Tosasts (Avodah Zara 73a) to the
effect that at that time there were no Gentiles who were expert in the nature of
idol worship and there are no prohibitions other than drinking [with them] and
if thus [the wine] is kosher [it is] permitted .
46
This issue of whether Christians
were idolaters, or indeed whether idolatry still existed in contemporary times, has
been much discussed in the context of Christianity in both polemical and pragmatic
discussions since the time of the famous medieval exegete Rashi and has been
treated at length by the late historian J acob Katz.
47
The legal texts we have been
examining are not in the least historical accounts. They do, however, reveal the
rather obvious conclusion that legal reasoning could not be separated from previous
precedent or past events and they further demonstrate that J ews in the early modern
38 Ibid., p. 232.
39 Ibid.
40 Bacharach, Havot Yair, vol. 1, responsum 136, pp. 369ff.
41 See also ibid., vol. 2, responsum 185, pp. 51617.
42 Ibid., vol. 1, responsum 1, p. 16.
43 Ibid., p. 14.
44 Ibid., p. 16.
45 Ibid., responsum 116.
46 Ibid., p. 321.
47 See J acob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish and Gentile Relations
in Medieval and Modern Times (New J ersey, 1983 (orig., 1961)).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 136
period were involved in a complex relationship with Christians; a relationship that
forced J ews to consider their historical and religious understanding of Christians
and themselves. The power of traditional ruling and authority combined with
sensitivity to contemporary issues to inform Bacharachs view of community and
the relationship of that community with the Christian world in which it existed. As
we have seen, halakhic literature allowed, even at times dictated, engagement with
various temporal modalities, and in Bacharachs writing the relationship between
past and present is extremely signicant for internal legal decision-making as well as
for understanding the position of J ews and the J ewish community within the broader
society.
Mythic Time and Identity
Other narratives, while detailing internal history and customs, also afforded the
opportunity to engage external authority. In a rather different genre, historical
narratives were wed with communal traditions and lore to create a rich memory of
past events. The compiler of many such stories for the J ewish community of Worms
was J oseph J uspa ben Nafthali Hirz Ha-Levi (16041678), or simply J uspa, who
studied in Fulda and then Worms, where he married into a prominent family and
became shammash, a position he held for 40 years. J uspa served as community scribe
(he wrote divorce documents, transcribed cases before the rabbi, recorded important
events in the community ledger, and signed documents as a witness to their legality),
mohel, shohet, and principally, sexton (custodian of the synagogue property, rabbis
secretary, and administrative assistant of the charity overseer). J uspa authored in
1670 the Maaseh Nissim, a volume that included a variety of stories culled from
general Worms lore and internal J ewish traditions and history.
48
Such stories narrated
the past to explain contemporary practices and, along the way, gave J ews hope of
divine assistance and eventual salvation.
In story number three, which also appeared in the popular Worms custom book
of Liwa Kirchheim, we nd an elucidation for the reason why two candles were
kindled in the synagogue in memory of two strangers who gave their lives to save the
J ews of Worms. According to the story, shortly before Passover a J ew, unaware that
a Christian procession was passing through the J ewish quarter, cast toilet water from
his window and it landed upon the cross.
49
They [the Christians] immediately said
that the J ews did this and provoked [them], and the J ews stood in great danger.
50
The Christian authorities demanded that the culprit confess or all of the local J ews
would be killed. If the confession came before the seventh day of Passover the J ews
would not be harmed. On the morning of the seventh day of Passover the Gentiles
48 See my Worms and the J ews.
49 Compare the apparently intentional, if not illegal, dripping of liquid manure by early
modern Catholics, who distracted Kempen Protestant prayer services on Good Friday. See
Thomas A. Brady, J r., Limits of Religious Violence in Early Modern Europe, in Kaspar von
Greyerz and Kim Siebenhner et al. (eds), Religion und Gewalt: Konikte, Rituale, Deutunge
(15001800) (Gttingen, 2006), pp. 12551, here at p. 140.
50 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 61 in the Hebrew.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 137
assembled with arms to exact revenge on the J ews. On the morning of the seventh
day of Passover, the Shammash called everyone to prayer. When opening the gate
of the J ewish section, two visitors were standing before him.
51
The shammash
inquired who these visitors were and why they had come to Worms on the holiday.
He informed them that because of our sins, a decree has been issued against the
community: [a decree] to murder all of us at the conclusion of the Festival.
52
The
two visitors replied that they surely knew all this, and that they had come to nullify
the evil decree by declaring in the town square that the J ews were guiltlessno man
from the street of the J ews emptied or poured toilet water upon the cross;
53
rather,
both of them were present and it was they who committed the act. The burghers
put these two visitors to death under extreme torture, the evil decree was annulled,
and the J ews were not harmed. The story concluded: From that time on, memorial
prayers were established on the seventh day of Passover for the souls of the two
visitors, but until this day it is not known who these two visitors were. Perhaps God
sent two angels in the form of two humans to annul the evil decree.
54
It is worth noting that the timing of the events, that is, the seventh day of
Passover, was of great signicance for the J ews of Worms, as we will see below. It
is also intriguing that the Christians did not act immediately against the J ews and
that although the J ews were saved, they were never really vindicated in the end. That
salvation had to come from outside the community went against the mold of more
traditional Ashkenazic tales. Throughout the tale there were very clear categories
of Christians described; while the authorities, for example, were presented in rather
positive terms, the mob was portrayed differently.
In the end, the memorialization of a particular and local event by a religious
means created a sacralized center within the community, which absorbed the holy
act of the visitors. It is of course common for J ewish communities to establish fast
days in commemoration of suffering,
55
or feast days in commemoration of salvation.
As Moshe Idel has recently suggested, J ewish historical sources frequently
combine a variety of visions and uses of time and history. In this case, the linear
depiction of the events as they unfolded combined with a circular and ritual approach
to memorialization, using the recurrent remembering of an event, or at least its
51 Ibid., p. 62.
52 Ibid.
53 Ibid.
54 Ibid. Compare a passage in the anonymous Prague chronicle: Afterwards, they
intended to harm the J ews as wellto massacre and exterminate [Esther 3:13] all the J ews, to
rob and plunder all their money, Heaven forbid!if it had not been for the mercy of the Lord
of Hosts, who sent an angel into the midst of the crowd, and they heard a voice [proclaiming],
Do not raise your hands against the J ews, by order of our sovereign the emperor, may he be
exalted. The lords, the leaders of the people, came to the aid of the J ews, for [the masses] had
no right to harm the J ews (David (ed.), A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, p. 67).
55 In an interesting responsum, Yair Bacharach noted that it is permissible to desecrate the
Sabbath by decreeing a fast on the congregation (tsibur) because of the sins of the community
(kahal). See Yair Hayyim Bacharach, Sheeilot uteshuvot (Jerusalem, 1967), responsum no. 236.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 138
representation, in time to inform J ewish religion, culture, and in this case as well,
community.
56
In another tale, apparently based on one version of the event retold in Liwa
Kirchheims Book of Customs, J uspa began historically by noting that in 5374
(1614) the burghers of Frankfurt expelled the J ews living in the city. The burghers in
Worms, the tale continued, had plotted the same in 1614 after the Frankfurt example,
and hordes of Gentiles assembled on the night of Tisha bAv (5374) to plan the
expulsion. However, the Gentiles who lived in the vicinity of the street of the J ews
cried out against the Gentiles assembled, and they said that the street of the J ews
was full of armed men. And there was fear that the J ews would become the masters!
A great fear then fell upon them, and they [the mob] dispersed.
57
But, the story
continued, on that night there had not been a single man in the J ewish street; it was,
rather the Baalei Shemot [literally, masters of the divine names], and they said that
the Baalei Shemot appeared to them [as armed warriors],
58
and the leader of these
mystics was Rabbi Gedalia, a leading kabbalist of the generation. Still, the Christians
continued to plot against the J ews, and nally expelled them on the morning of
the seventh day of Passover 5375 (1615), while they prayed in the synagogue. The
J ews were forced to leave their possessions and to cross over the Rhine, where they
were abandoned. The story next went on to describe the fate of the J ews who found
themselves in the Palatinate, imperial involvement, and the Fettmilch uprising in
Frankfurt (discussed above in Chapter 3).
Like the tale above, this one unfolded on the seventh day of Passover and ended
with fasting and feasting. Like other tales, this one also utilized the magical skills
of the mystical Baalei Shemot, and in particular the powers of a leading kabbalist,
Rabbi Gedalia. The invocation of divine names was a common theme in J ewish tales
both earlier and later, particularly amongst the Ashkenazic hasidim.
59
56 See Moshe Idel, Some Concepts of Time and History in Kabbalah, in Carlebach,
Efron, and Myers (eds), Jewish History and Jewish Memory, pp. 15388. Idel notes that In
contradiction to Eliades assumption, I propose that in J udaism the ritual elements are not just
traces that survive from ancient doctrine but an integral component of this religion, which,
far from representing an attempt to escape the terror of history, was conceived as shaping the
direction of the linear by means of the circular approach to time. (p. 155).
57 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 72.
58 Ibid., p. 72. See also Karl Grzinger, Legenden aus dem Frankfurt des 18. J ahrhunderts:
Umbrche und Unruhen, in Karl E. Grzinger (ed.), Jdische Kultur in Frankfurt am Main
von den Anfngen bis zur Gegenwart: ein internationales Symposium der Johann Wolfgang
Goethe-Universitt Frankfurt am Main und des Franz Rosenzweig Research Center for
German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History Jerusalem (Wiesbaden, 1997), pp. 179205,
who discusses the function of the baal shem, whom he terms a spontaneous and charismatic
helper with a professionalized function, which appears to have developed with nothing to do
with the function of the rabbis or the rabbinic educated intellectuals (p. 189).
59 Indeed, according to J oshua Trachtenberg the primary principle of medieval J ewish
magic was an implicit reliance upon the Powers of Good, which were invoked by calling upon
their names, the holy Names of God and His Angels. See J oshua Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic
and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion (Philadelphia, 1939), pp. 1517.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 139
This tale related a series of somewhat interconnected events and associated
the Fettmilch uprising against the J ews and the city council in Frankfurt with the
eventual actions taken against the J ews in Worms. The historical presentation
dealing with the plotting and nal execution of the plan to expel the J ews, the
conscation of J ewish property, the assistance of the nobility and emperor, and the
nal vindication of the J ews and the rebuilding of their synagoguealso provided
important distinctions between various Christian groups (particularly commoners
and councilmen) within the city, and the J ews relations with them.
The magical tales reviewed here also reected well the position of and relation
to the Other in early modern German culture. The shifting position of the J ews in the
early modern city, and in particular the seemingly favorable view of the city ruling
classes and at times religious authorities was strikingly contrasted with the common
multitudes and in particular the guilds that represented groups seeking to undermine
traditional structures of authority and relations of power. Through magic, J ews could
engage Christianshistorical, and so also perhaps contemporarywithout having
to take a position of open confrontation.
Both the Fettmilch uprising and the revolt in Worms have been seen within a
broad political context, in which a variety of concerns and relations were played out.
Both riots seem to have been more political and economic than religious in nature and
both had a complex background. In Worms, the rioters, under the leadership of Dr.
Chemnitz, argued for the reduction of the amount of interest that J ews could charge
on money they loaned to 5 per cent. The council indeed discussed this proposal but
then noted that the J ews should be allowed to charge a higher interest rate since they
could not support themselves in other traditional ways.
60
Chemnitz then demanded
that the J ews be expelled, since the council held the political authority to do so
through an earlier imperial grant. Indeed, Chemnitz was later granted permission
to inspect the book of charters and discovered that Emperor Rudolph had, in 1582,
conrmed the citys control over the J ews.
In the meantime, the J ews, who were accused of numerous crimes and of
libeling the city (in 133 ways, according to the documents), appealed directly to the
emperor. Combined with the emperors protective stance regarding the J ews, the
failure of Fettmilch in Frankfurt forced the Worms council to distance itself from
any overt mistreatment of the J ews. The event in Worms is rather complicated; and it
demonstrated the intersection of numerous sources of authority and the conagration
of a myriad of issues. Local, regional, and imperial discussions about the J ews,
their status, and their privileges, evolved throughout the sixteenth century and the
early part of the seventeenth. The dispute also continued after the events played
out in Frankfurt and Worms, when, for example, the prince in Cologne demanded
compensation from the J ews in 1619 and proceeded to enter into legal battles at the
60 Christopher R. Friedrichs, Anti-J ewish Politics in Early Modern Germany, Central
European History 23:23 (1990): 91152, here at pp. 110ff.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 140
imperial courts.
61
The general contours of the event seem to have followed much like
the J ewish accounts.
62
It should be pointed out that the magic depicted by J uspa was of a protective
nature, and what is perhaps more intriguing, it was not always successful, in the
long run anyway. As in most uses of magic, we nd combined the holy and the
mundane; the combination of the divine names to create real or illusionary effects
in this world. Often times the magic, in its use or limitations, seemed to hint at the
concern with particular religious values (for example, the Hasidei Ashkenaz and their
pious behavior) or particular moral meanings (for example, how to treat strangers).
Magic, therefore, related to and explained communal customs at the same time
that it t into a life cycle of J ewish religion, the J ewish community, and individual
J ewish experiences. The magic of the Baalei Shemot revealed the dependence of
the community upon particularly learned men at the same time that it effectively
delineated the relationship between J ews and non-J ews in the city. Magic and
subsequent salvation, as evident in the assistance of angels and visitors, also revealed
the reliance on external forces and the interdependency of J ewish communities, in
a period when regional associations were taking on more signicant roles in J ewish
communal and constitutional history.
Other similar tales of mythic proportions also circulated widely and could
accomplish much of the same identity building. Tales of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, or
German Pietists, were very popular and circulated widely throughout early modern
Germany. The Hasidei Ashkenaz, were primary agents in the Maaseh Bukh
63
published in Basel in 1602. An edition of the Sefer Hasidim was also published in
1581, as part of a growing body of ethical literature and exempla printed in Yiddish
in the sixteenth century in Verona, Basel, and Prague (the Brandspiegel and the
Zuchtspiegel, ascribed to Moses Henoch, for example, were printed in Prague in
1572).
64
One manuscript, dating from the sixteenth century, contained 99 stories, 40
of which focused on Hasidei Ashkenaz gures, 22 on J udah the Pious, and seven on
his father Samuel the Pious. A Frankfurt manuscript from the same period contained
ten tales about Samuel, though none about J udah.
65
The stories, it has been argued,
functioned to strengthen religious values; they offered a means of confronting
opposition; and they allowed the persecuted and suffering minority to bask in the
61 See Volker Press, Kaiser Rudolf II. und der Zusammenschlu der deutschen
J udenheit: Die sogenannte Frankfurter Rabbinerverschwrung von 1603 und ihre Folgen, in
Alfred Haverkamp (ed.), Zur Geschichte der Juden im Deutschland des Spten Mittelalters
und der Frhen Neuzeit (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 24393. See pp. 279ff especially.
62 See Friedrichs, Anti-J ewish Politics, pp. 132ff.
63 Maaseh Book: Book of Jewish Tales and Legends, trans. Moses Gaster, 2 vols
(Philadelphia, 1934). More recently, see Un beau livre dhistoires/Eyn shn Mayse bukh,
Traduction du Yiddish, introduction et notes, 2 vols, ed. and trans. Astrid Starck (Basel, 2004).
64 Maaseh Book, pp. xxiv, xxvi and xxxiv.
65 Sara Zfatman, The Mayse-Bukh: An Old Yiddish Literary Genre, Hasifrut 28,
VIII/2 (April, 1979): 12652 (Hebrew; English summary, p. iv), here at p. 124.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 141
glory of their indomitable representative.
66
These tales served to bolster the groups
ethnic and national-religious identity.
67
The Hasidei Ashkenaz enjoyed something of a renaissance of interest in the
sixteenth and seventeenth century. Although there are scattered references to the
Hasidei Ashkenaz in a number of late medieval rabbinic responsasuch as those of
the Maharilit was with the Maaseh Bukh literature of the sixteenth century and
the Sefer Yosef Ometz that we nd signicant accounts of the Hasidei Ashkenaz.
According to now standard interpretations, J ewish scholars of the early modern
period were not satised with the traditional occupation with the Talmud, but
endeavored for wider and deeper spiritual spheres of J ewish belief and J ewish law.
According to J acob Katz, J ewish polemic against Christianity also nearly ceased
in the sixteenth century.
68
Katz asserted that Ashkenazic J ewry became a closed
system with few or no comprehensive thinkers, or philosophers,
69
but a plethora of
moralizing and admonishing preachers.
70
Indeed, many of the works examined here
reected something of a seventeenth-century renaissance of the Hasidei Ashkenaz,
focused on moral qualities and the power of custom.
71
The Hasidei Ashkenaz had appeared at the end of the twelfth and beginning
of the thirteenth centuries in the Rhenish communities and in Regensburg, and
thereafter spread throughout Germany and France.
72
The most prominent early
members of the hasidim were Samuel ben Kalonymos he-Hasid (. second half of
the twelfth century), Samuels son J udah he-Hasid (d. 1217), and J udahs relative
and pupil Eleazer ben J udah Kalonymos of Worms (d. c.1230). The primary work
of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, Sefer Hasidim, was a prime example of J ewish ethical
literature that explores proper behavior and interpersonal relationships. The pietists
often gathered around a leading gure, a pietist sage, and at times were pitted against
the traditional leadership of the communities in which they lived. On the one
hand, the Hasidei Ashkenaz sought positions of leadership and service within the
J ewish communities; on the other hand, they at times secluded themselves from the
community.
Stories about the Hasidei Ashkenaz circulated orally in Yiddish throughout the
period in which they operated. During the fteenth century, these stories were xed
into a hagiographic cycle, translated into Hebrew and handed down in written form.
But in the sixteenth century, they were again translated, this time back into a more
66 Ibid., p. 127.
67 Ibid., p. 136.
68 See Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance.
69 Fraenkel-Goldschmidt cites Twersky to this effect. See her J dische Religion und
Kultur in Frankfurt am Main im 16. und 17. J ahrhundert, p. 101.
70 Ibid., p. 136.
71 Along these lines, one must note the general interest in the Sefer Hasidim among
scholars of the seventeenth century. Fraenkel-Goldschmidt refers to a renaissance of penance
literature (ibid., p. 115). According to Fraenkel-Goldschmidt J uspa was a Hasid Ashkenaz of
the sixteenth to seventeenth century (ibid., p. 113).
72 See the important study of Ivan Marcus on the Hasidei Ashkenaz, Piety and Society:
The Jewish Pietists of Medieval Germany (Leiden, 1981).
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 142
popular and accessible Yiddish version, and eventually collected and subsumed with
other stories into the Maaseh Bukh.
73
How did these tales present the past and account for time? The stories of the
Maaseh Bukh certainly noted that the events recounted happened in a previous time,
that of the Hasidei Ashkenaz.
74
These stories had real meaning for contemporary
times as well, however, and the compilers of the tales sought to apply the stories
to their own times, noting the effects of past and mythic events on contemporary
situations and inviting their readers to engage with the stories and the effects of the
events narrated. In tale number 158 it was noted May the Lord, blessed be He, grant
that we benet by their merits through all ages.
75
In tale number 183, the death of
Rabbi J udah Hasid and the falling tower of Regensburg were equated: If you do
not believe this story go to Regensburg and you will see for yourself, and will hear
why the gate cannot be rebuilt. It has been rebuilt many times, but no sooner was it
erected than it fell down again and would not stand [emphasis added]. While some
tales may have borrowed from German folktales, even these tales could be given a
very J ewish twist.
76
Throughout, questions of temporality were ignored. In tale number 169, for
example, Elijah, Moses, Abraham, and the rest of the forefathers, as well as the
prophet J eremiah, were all present together in a room engaged in prayer. In the
same story, the protagonist learned 70 languages in an hour and was carried very
far to Regensburg on a cloud in a short time.
77
The Hasidei Ashkenaz masters were
clearly not bound by time, or even death. In tale number 171, J udah saved the J ews
of Regensburg from the accusation of murdering a Christian (who had been stealing
from them with another culprit who killed him so as not to share the treasure), by
making a dead man rise and point out his murderer. In tale number 172 the mighty
duke in Regensburg, who was a friend to the J ews, entrusted the keys to his treasure
to a J ew. While he was away, the treasure was stolen; however, the J ew used mystical
names to see far out into the country and nd the thieveshere we nd a collapsing
of time and space. The tale concluded, the thieves were sentenced to be hanged on
the gallows and the sentence was carried out. But the J ew was saved from death.
78
Their miraculous crossing of temporal boundaries indicated that J ews did not see
time as a one-dimensional eld, otherwise these events would not have been so
remarkable.
Time, in the Maaseh Bukh often had moralistic purposes. In tale number 177, a
young man was detained from an impulse to be baptized. The tale concluded, They
kept me back this time, and now the evil hour has passed.
79
The narration of the
73 Zfatman, The Mayse-Bukh.
74 I will now begin to write down the stories of Rabbi Samuel the Pious and of his son
R. J udah the Pious of Regensburg and what happened in their times (Maaseh Book, vol. 2,
p. 317).
75 Ibid., p. 319.
76 Ibid., no. 169.
77 Ibid., pp. 350, 351.
78 Ibid., p. 362.
79 Ibid., p. 380.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 143
Hasidei Ashkenaz ability to protect, and to transgress the boundaries of temporality
allowed J ews to imagine signicant power over and against external foes.
Two stories in Maaseh Nissim also discussed Rabbi Eleazer (Elazar), also known
as the Rokeah because he authored Sefer ha-Rokeah. In story number 6
80
a brief note
was given about Rabbi Eleazer, noting in particular that he lived in Worms, and that
he was a great man, learned in Torah, equaled by few others throughout the world.
Rabbi Eleazers oeuvre was discussed briey, again positing that, he composed
much of the liturgical poetry recited exclusively in Worms on Festivals. The story
noted the location of Eleazers house, the time when his disciples would come to
study, and then related a tragic event. According to the story:
Once a band of murderous gentile students armed with bows and arrows jumped from
the wall, broke into Rabbi Elazars house, and killed his wife and children. Hearing the
screams, the Rabbi and his disciples hurried to investigate. However, when Rabbi Elazar
and the young men with him attempted to mount the steps, one of the murderers armed
with a bow and arrow blocked their path and attacked the Rabbi. Although the attempted
murder failed, the Gentile succeeded in wounding Rabbi Elazars shoulder. The disciples
managed to run outside and cry for help. Before reinforcements arrived, however, the
gentile students escaped by way of the city wall. The men who came to the rescue found
only the murdered wife and children of Rabbi Elazar, May God avenge their blood.
81
Why was this story included in the collection of miracle stories? Rabbi Eleazar
did escape, but not his wife and children, and the story made no mention of the
students being brought to justice. Perhaps, the story pointed to the resilience of the
J ewish community in the face of attack. Despite many and emotional losses, the
J ews maintained their cohesion and were not in the end completely defeated. While
not everyone was saved, clearly there was a sense that the mystical leadership had a
power that protected it and that, ultimately, would save the J ews.
Story number 7,
82
played more overtly with the unique and unequalled knowledge
of Rabbi Eleazar. In this case, while sleeping, the God-fearing man ascended to
heaven and mingled with the angels. The story next introduced the famous scholar
Ramban (Moses ben Nahman or Nahmanides, 11941270), living in thirteenth-
century Spain, who was trying to resolve certain difculties in his studies, but who
was not versed in kabbalah. A proclamation in Heaven asked who was willing to
teach the Ramban kabbalah and at the same time kill the wicked governor of the
Rambans province who was making the J ews suffer a great deal. The Rokeah agreed
to undertake the task, provided he could use the Shemot, the holy names.
After baking his matzot on the eve of Passover, he pronounced the holy name,
causing a cloud to appear. That cloud transported the rabbi from Worms to Spain
that very day. Invited to the Rambans home for the festival, Rokeah remained silent,
appearing to be simple and an ignoramus. Rokeah did not participate in the seder
with the other guests, however, because they were not versed in kabbalahthe
narrator is quick to add that all he did was for the sake of Heaven. The Ramban
80 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, pp. 645.
81 Ibid.
82 Ibid., pp. 65ff.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 144
warned the Rokeah about walking alone the next morning to the synagogue. In the
meantime, the Rokeah requested that he be given the opportunity to deliver a sermon
in the synagogue. In the morning, Rokeah rose and went to the street forbidden to
the J ews. He was arrested and sentenced to death, the evil governor thrilled at the
prospect that he might burn the J ew in a place that would be visible to other J ews on
their way to the synagogue. The J ews feared greatly and prayed. Rokeah, for his part
pronounced the name of the holy angel and changed the wicked governors facial
features so that he resembled the Rokeah. The guards grabbed the governor and cast
him into the re, where he was consumed by the ames. Thus, the Rokeah fullled
his heavenly mission to kill the governor by using holy names.
83
After this episode, the Rokeah was allowed to deliver a sermon, in which he
solved the Rambans difculties. The Rokeah continued his sermon, expounding
profound interpretations and commenting upon important matters that had never
been heard before All these deeds were performed through Kabbalah.
84
The story concluded, in a rather moralistic vein: My dear readers, see how
scholars and righteous men experienced miracles in days of yore. Because of our
sins, our generation is undeserving [of such wonders]. In the merit [of our ancestors],
may God consider us worthy of this. Amen.
85
Again, the Ashkenazic mystic was
seen as extremely powerfulso powerful, in fact that he defeated the non-J ewish
enemy looking to uproot the Spanish J ews. It is also interesting to note that the
Ashkenazic self-esteem was here stroked, as the Ashkenazic rabbi taught a thing or
two to the Sephardim, especially the great sage of the time. Time here was collapsed,
and narratives of the past had real meaning for contemporary society.
Origin Stories and Memory
National as well as urban origins were much discussed throughout early modern
Europe. This was particularly true in Germany, where one recent historian has noted
that:
As the political cohesion of Germany began visibly to weaken and as her neighbours,
particularly France, began to overtake her, a psychology of decline set in. Some Germans
sought to compensate by adopting a grossly romanticized view of their own past, with
great emphasis on the innate superiority of the Germans. The idea arose that the Germans
were the Urvolk, the original people of Europe who had retained their pure blood and
who spoke the original language of humanity, the Ursprache, as spoken by Adam and Eve.
Much was made of the superior virtues of the Germans, their loyalty and honesty, which
made them such an easy prey for foxy and devious Latins like the French. Such ideas
fueled anti-foreign sentiment, always a strong element in German national feeling. In the
absence of a real all-German monarch on whom to focus their emotions, the Germans
tended to focus their hatred against someone outside. In the fteenth and sixteenth
centuries the Italians and the Spaniards became the targets for such feelings.
86
83 Ibid., p. 69.
84 Ibid., p. 70.
85 Ibid.
86 Michael Hughes, Early Modern Germany, 14771806 (Philadelphia, 1992), p. 20.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 145
In addition to the universal and national histories we have already seen, histories
about individual cities were also being written with great vigor in the sixteenth
century. Adam Tratzigers sixteenth-century Chronica der Stadt Hamburg, for
example, engaged a great variety of classical sources as well as more recent historical
literature, to craft a broad history of the city that rmly situated Hamburg within its
regional context. Tratziger claimed to be discerning in his selection of accounts and
his use of historical materials.
87
He offered a history that extended beyond the ninth-
century Carolingian founding that served most previous chronicles of the city
88
and
that worked far beyond the connes of the city, engaging the histories involving
Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians, as well as other Hanseatic towns.
89
At the same
time, the chronicle was very much a history of the city, and frequently recorded the
results of council elections
90
or the local effects of oods or pestilence.
91
Politics were
certainly at play in the chroniclewitness the particular reforming events that were
narrated, as well as the general quality of treatment that certain gures received. The
king of Denmark, for example, was presented as a pious, good, and peace-loving
prince and king; whereas Tratzigers description of Emperor Maximilian was much
briefer and direct.
92
The Schmalkaldic League was presented as being crushed by
its enemies not with human might but through miraculous means, likened to the
downfall of the biblical Gideon.
93
In a similar vein, the great historian of Renaissance Germany, J ohannes Aventinus
(14771534), patriotically traced the history of the Bavarian kings back to the
biblical period, along the way demonstrating not only genealogy but also political
sensitivity, which was careful to show that Bavaria was a Kingdom in former times
and that her borders used to extend much further than they do now.
94
J ews were also concerned with origins in the early modern period. J ewish interest
in origin legends could have many motivations and take many forms. Some legends
were meant to strengthen arguments for J ewish settlement and political rights.
Others were directed at an internal audience for purposes of establishing traditions
and customs, tracing individual family genealogy, as a means of moral upbraiding,
or in response to certain difcult periods or events. Still other legends were directed
at non-J ewish audiences, with some of the same foci, but often sharing joint stock
images and stories. The concurrent and symbiotic relations between J ews and non-
J ews could, in fact, be demonstrated and forwarded by such stories.
95
In some cases,
87 Tratzigers Chronica der Stadt Hamburg, ed. J. M. Lappenberg (Hamburg, 1865), p. 11.
88 Ibid., pp. 12.
89 See, for example, ibid., pp. 249, 250, 256.
90 Ibid., p. 251, for example.
91 Ibid., pp. 2567, 259, for example.
92 See ibid., p. 270.
93 Ibid., p. 290.
94 Cited in Gerald Strauss, Historian in an Age of Crisis: The Life and Works of Johannes
Aventinus 15771534 (Cambridge, MA, 1963), p. 102.
95 Already during the Roman period, there was a popular story, repeated both in the
J erusalem Talmud in Avoda Zara 1.2.39c and Song of Songs Rabbah 1.6, that the site of
Rome was established by none other than the angel Michael, who stuck a stick in the sea,
which grew into a large thicket of reeds and became the site of Rome (Louis Feldman, Jew
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 146
in fact, J ews wrote legends that had ostensibly little or nothing to do with J ews. J ews
were often interested in non-J ewish history, though we typically think that it was not
until modernity that they actually began a serious study of non-J ewish affairs. (Of
course, non-J ews also co-opted Hebrew accounts to buttress their own positions and
origins. This became particularly signicant in the seventeenth century, as a means
of identity building, and as a way to rationalize the discovery of peoples around the
globe.)
Writing or speaking about the past could create control over access to the past.
96
Transmission, suppression, and re-creation, according to medievalist Patrick Geary,
could unite the past and present and identify new continuity in periods of rupture.
97
This was clearly the case for J ewish legends that focused on the origin of a particular
community or settlement. Legends could consolidate group identity at the same time
that they could justify political standing and glorify the community. According to
Bernard Weinryb there were ve central, at times interwoven, themes typical of these
legends. One theme was related to proving the antiquity of J ewish settlement in a
particular region or city. A second similarly stressed the invitation extended to the
J ews to settle in the region, as well as the subsequent benet that the J ews brought to
the area. The third noted the positive inuence and impact that the J ews had on the
general welfare of the city or region. Fourth, in the distant past the J ews were given
equal rights, which in many cases deteriorated only recently. Such narratives could
document and attempt to redress the decline of J ewish rights. Finally, internal J ewish
continuity and cohesion were stressed by noting that the earliest settlers brought
established, and ongoing, traditions with them.
98
The development and use of German J ewish origin stories may be protably
compared to others in the early modern period. At the end of his commentary to the
Book of Kings, Isaac Abarbanel, for example, detailed the ancient and noble position
of the J ews in Spain, in face of the recent Spanish expulsion and in an attempt to
demonstrate the ancient settlement of the J ews in Spain. In the same way, even the
etymology of Poland was given a twist to prove the antiquity of J ewish settlement.
In the Elegy on the Massacres in Polonia by the seventeenth-century writer J acob
ben Moses Halevy, rst printed in Venice in 167071, it was noted that, The glory
of the earth has now become/the shame of all towns, a disgrace among cities./A
place of Torah learninghere God lodges [Hebrew: po lan Yah] ....
99
According to
Haya Bar-Itzhak:
and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian
(Princeton, 1993), p. 104).
96 Patrick Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the
First Millennium (Princeton, 1994).
97 Ibid., here quoting J ohn Pocock, p. 8.
98 See Bernard D. Weinryb, The Beginnings of East-European J ewry in Legend and
Historiography, in Meir Ben-Horin, Bernard D. Weinryb, and Solomon Zeitlin (eds), Studies
and Essays in Honor of Abraham, A. Neuman (Philadelphia, 1962), pp. 445502, here at
pp. 449, 453ff, 458; and as cited in Haya Bar-Itzhak, Jewish Poland: Legends of Origin
Ethnopoetics and Legendary Chronicles (Detroit, 2001), p. 27.
99 Bar Itzhak, Jewish Poland, p. 31.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 147
In this respect legends of origin are similar to myth. The age of initial settlement occupies
a central place in the mind of the community as a time that stands out from the normal
course of the centuries and is perceived not quantitatively but qualitatively. It is a period
that, as in myth, determines the nature of the days that follow. It is the age when the very
identity of the society is molded and dened. The importance of legends of origin in
every generation throughout the life of the community then follows. The primeval era
is reshaped in order to mold the present and future while deriving legitimacy from the
distant and hallowed past. A society is always molding its rst days in a way that can be
used to justify how it lives in the presentor alternately, if it wishes to change this life,
that can justify change or even revolution. Tracing the legends of origin of Polish J ewry,
as they crystallized and were told in various periods, allows us to expose the narrative of
the J ewish community of Poland and the changing cultural awareness of the narrating
society.
100
Legends consolidated group identity, explained religious rites or social usages,
101
or
created or sanctioned their status.
102
Such legends placed community origins within
a much broader J ewish historical context, tracing them, in some cases for example,
to just after the destruction of the First Temple.
103
According to Weinryb, the wide-
ranging use of such legends across geographical locations indicates that the general
trend to give origins the status of antiquity is motivated by minority situations faced
by J ews in all these countries.
104
In some Christian locations, in fact, J ews pushed
back the record of their settlement to pre-Christian times to counter assertions that
J ews killed J esus.
105
J ews, who settled in Amsterdam also developed and circulated community-
founding stories, organized around the theme of restoration, and employing the
imagery of rebirth. According to Daniel Levi de Barrios, a former New Christian
who joined the community in 1662, J ewish observance and worship was rst
established in Amsterdam by an Ashkenazic rabbi from Emden, Uri Halevi, in
1580, and kept private until 1595. In that year, during the Yom Kippur Neeilah
service, the Amsterdam police barged in, suspecting the group to be idolatrous
papists. The police, however, realized that the assembled men were J ews, when they
found no crucixes or Eucharists, but only Hebrew texts. Upon this discovery, the
sheriff asked the J ews to pray to the God of Israel on behalf of the government of
Amsterdam. The J ews consented and were later granted permission to practice their
religion openly. Another version offered a slightly different account. In 1603, Rabbi
Uri Halevi and his sons were arrested and charged not with conducting Catholic
rites, but with receiving stolen goods and circumcising adults. Halevi and his sons
were released and allowed to continue their activity. Government sanction of the
formal practice of J udaism, however, was not allowed until 1614. One nal varying
account reported that the sons of Uri Halevi responded when brought before the
burgomasters:
100 Ibid., p. 16.
101 Weinryb, The Beginnings of East-European J ewry, p. 448.
102 Ibid., p. 449.
103 Ibid., pp. 44950.
104 Ibid., p. 451.
105 Ibid., p. 452.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 148
It is true that we did what you said we did [circumcise people and practice J udaism], but
it was done for the prot and benet of this city Amsterdam so as to let it share in a large
trade; we could very well have gone to another city, which wanted to give us complete
freedom, but we did it here so that it might share in large maritime trade activities, for
these Spaniards carried large sums of money and riches with them
106
Although not cast into antiquity, current reality and self-esteem were here grafted onto
the early years of the communitys birth, and allowed the opportunity to serve as a means
to mediate relations with the outside, while conrming internal pride and identity.
In his Zemah David, Gans discusses Prague frequently. He characterizes it as a
great city lled with many people. The land in which it is situated, Gans notes for its
many blessings, including vast and valuable natural resources.
107
Although wracked
by many wars and tumult in his own day, Gans writes that, Prague is a great city and
the capital of the metropolis of the entire region of Bohemia. Even according to our
tradition, this city was a great city to God in the days long before the destruction of
the Second Temple.
108
Gans introduces the Jews into the history of Prague during his
recounting of events that led to the construction of a synagogue at the very end of the
tenth centuryalong the way the extremely valuable civic service and patriotism of
the Jews is revealed. Gans details poor relations in the area between Christians and
non-Christian Bohemian natives, who arose against the Christians who were in the
land and who were attempting to convert them. He writes that, And the Jews who
were here in Prague at the time were clever in their tricks against the brigands and gave
advice and assistance to the Christians, until they struck them a great blow, and their
[the brigands] ofcers and their respected people ed. And the Jews pursued after
them and caught them in the cities and in the clefts of the rocks and they were killed.
And because of this and for the glory of all the inhabitants of the land, at that time
permission and help were given to the Jews to build a synagogue in the city .
109
Among the many tales recounted in the Maaseh Nissim were some detailing events
of the early history of the city. One such account (number 15) discussed the reason
why the coat of arms for the city of Worms featured a key. The legend presented by
Juspa had no discernible Jewish content; interestingly, it was culled from Worms lore
and became a treasured account even within general Wormseian legend. Juspa began
the account by describing the devastation of city by a ery serpent: A likeness of this
[serpent] was designed on the Mint in the Worms marketplace.
110
In olden times, the following incident occurred in the great city of Worms: A ery serpent
[lint wurm] ew from the desert and nested at the entrance of the wall of the city, causing
great damage. It destroyed many houses, swallowed up men and animals, and ruined
everything it touched. The lint wurm was frightfully huge and had two legs from the rear.
It resembled a snake-like worm. It was fat and large, its eyes were ery and in its mouth
were large teeth [so] that fear would envelope all who saw.
106 Daniel M. Swetschinski, Reluctant Cosmopolitans: The Portuguese Jews of
Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam (London, 2000), p. 168.
107 See Gans, Zemah David, p. 176.
108 Ibid., p. 270.
109 Ibid., pp. 3034.
110 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 83.
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 149
Juspa continued by noting that arrows were ineffective and gunpowder had not yet
been discovered; he added that, the religion [in Worms] was still idolatry. At the
time, there was no king in Worms, only a widowed queen ruling over the entire land.
To pacify the Lint Wurm, burghers would, by lottery, be cast over the wall. The
burghers were reticent to continue the process until the queen offered to include her
name and the names of her ofcials in the lottery. Three brothers, who were locksmiths
and knife forgers, and who were mighty as giants lived in the city. When the lottery
eventually fell on the queen, one of the brothers took pity on her and agreed to take
her place, if she would agree to marry him upon his successful return. The giant was
cast over the wall and swallowed, but cut his way free, destroying the Lint Wurm. The
locksmith was married to the queen and proclaimed king. Juspa concluded:
To commemorate the event, the king requested that the city be named Worms. Previously,
the citys name had been Germisa. The phrase scholars of Germisa appears in ancient
books. Hence the city is called Worms to this day. To preserve the fact that the king had
been a locksmith, a key was imprinted on the citys coat of arms. Until this very day, a
picture of the three brothers standing beside the lint wurm appears on the City Hall, also
called the Mint, in the marketplace. The queen, wearing a crown, is shown standing next
to them. This picture remains as a permanent memorial.
111
The legend had little direct impact on the settlement of the J ews or, seemingly on
J ewish status. Why, then, was this tale included in the collection? What purpose
did it serve? Of what interest was it to J uspas J ewish audience? The position of the
J ewish community within Worms might offer some clues as to the meaning of this
storys inclusion.
Throughout the sixteenth century the J ews were affected by the political and
religious instability of the times, and numerous iterations of J ewish ordinances
dictated the position of the J ews within the civic community. Though the J ewish
ordinances did not differ from one another greatly, they did evince a marked trend
toward increased restrictions against foreign J ews, particularly in 1584 and then
again in 1594.
112
Nonetheless, imperial legislation from 1544, extended a privilege
to the J ews of the Empire to lend at interest and at higher rates than Christians,
recognizing that J ews were forbidden from owning land and practicing most trades
and that they often paid higher taxes.
113
By mid-century attempts were again made to
expel the J ewish community,
114
which at that point numbered about 300 members. In
the seventeenth century, the J ews lived on one street in the northern part of the city,
separated from the rest of the city by two gates.
115
By 1610 there were 103 house
111 Ibid., p. 84.
112 Leon Yagod, Worms J ewry in the Seventeenth Century (Yeshiva University, DHL
diss., 1967), p. 36.
113 Friedrichs, Anti-J ewish Politics, p. 103.
114 In 1558 the city obtained from Ferdinand I a privilege to expel the J ews; the attempt
was again thwarted, however, this time by the bishop and his powerful vassals, the Dalbergs
see ibid., p. 101.
115 Ibid., p. 96.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 150
lots110 by 1620, with 90 houses of varying quality.
116
J ews numbered around
650,
117
constituting something like 10 per cent of the total city population. In Worms,
then, could be found one of the four largest J ewish communities in the Empire, and
one of the ve central J ewish courts established by the synod of 1603 (the others
being Frankfurt, Fulda, Friedberg, and Gnzburg).
118
Plagues in the early 1630s and
late 1660s affected the J ews, as they did the other inhabitants of Worms; so too did
the ravages of the Thirty Years War and the entrance of French troops toward the end
of the seventeenth century. It is in this complex historical context, of at times volatile
and at other times normal J ewish and Christian relations, that the tales related in the
work of J uspa need to be considered.
It may be that the value of the Lint Wurm story was to reect the feeling of
belonging in Worms that was echoed in many of the narratives examined here,
particularly in a turbulent age in which there were frequent attempts to marginalize
the J ews. It may also demonstrate a conscious attempt to familiarize J ews with the
local urban culture and legend, in part to educate them about important local events
and mythsas David Gans noted in his Zemah David, non-J ewish history was
important for J ews for many reasons, including that they not seem uneducatedand
in part to make the broader and, in this case especially, the distant past of the city
part and parcel of the J ewish experience itself. In a sense, the inclusion of the tale
counterbalanced any assertion that J ews were ignorant of, and perhaps by association
not involved in, the central events of the founding and development of the pre-
Christian city of Worms.
J uspas tales about the early origins of the J ewish community in Worms were
also quite telling.
119
In one tale J uspa cited Rabbi J oshua Falk, who asserted that
116 Compare the dramatic growth in the number of J ewish houses in Frankfurt in the
sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (in Kracauer, Geschichte der Juden in Frankfurt am
Main (11501824), vol. 1, pp. 31112).
117 Fritz Reuter, Warmaisa, p. 96; Friedrichs claims 700, with houses including multiple
generations, and inhabited by an average of seven people per household (see also Friedrichs,
Anti-J ewish Politics, pp. 967).
118 Yagod, Worms J ewry, p. 37.
119 See also the account of David Oppenheim, who wrote, for example that: During
midday, they [the French] burned the greatly exalted city lled with erudite scholars, the
crowned glory of all communities, Worms, and they also burned the main synagogue with
all its treasures. They also destroyed the synagogue which was named after Rashi, may his
memory be blessed. The re was unquenchable. In a short time the entire city, including the
Jewish community, which predated the destruction of the First Temple, was consumed. My
father and master, Abraham Oppenheim, was the leader of the J ewish community. He lost
many of his possessions in the res, including six houses in the J ewish quarter and other
houses within the city of Worms. In addition, he lost gardens and wine orchards The enemy,
the Frenchmen, may their names and memory be obliterated, wantonly desecrated this great
homestead. The entire house of Israel will bemoan the conagration. In the J ewish street there
were 110 great and distinguished homes, lled with gardens, and now the street is transformed
into a wilderness. I am mourning and my eyes weep for the destruction of the land of my birth
and my fathers house. My sister Rechlins three beautiful houses were also burnt My
uncle Moshe was a parnas [in Heidelberg]. He possessed four houses. Due to our great sins,
our family and exalted community have fallen from heaven to earth. God has cast them into
From Law to Legend: Narrating Jewish and Christian Encounters 151
the J ews came to Worms at the time of the destruction of the rst Temple. With
the return of the J ews to the Holy Land some 70 years later, the J ews of Worms
continued to reside in Worms. This tale was very similar to other European J ewish
assertions of communal longevity. Falk continued, however, that the J ews in this new
diaspora were harshly punished because they did not return to J erusalem, fashioning
their new abode as a lesser J erusalem and becoming important in the eyes of their
Gentile neighbors.
120
A second tale presented the long-standing relationship between
the J ews of Worms and the important Worms family Dalbourg. According to J uspa,
based on information he heard from Rabbi Elijah Baal Shem, a great kindness was
shown by a J ew to a member of the Dalbourg house who was traveling to J erusalem
to learn languages. The young Dalbourg related to his father the great kindnesses
extended to him by the J ew, noting that he would have died of starvation and the
illnesses he had contracted without the J ews generosity. The tale continued:
When the father died, his son succeeded him in his distinguished position. He recorded the
events that had befallen him in the chronicles of the House of Dalbourg so that descendants
would know the story. The nobleman also wrote that his descendants should treat the J ews
well, for the J erusalem J ew saved his life. This story remains in the archives of the House
of Dalbourg until this very day.
121
The tale revealed the ancient settlement of the J ews in Worms, but it also accomplished
a great deal more. It presented familiar and friendly relations between leading nobles
and the J ewsa friendship that the tale noted continued until the presentwhile
simultaneously strengthening the connection between the J ews (and their actions)
in J erusalem and Worms. The origin story here gave expression to a J ewish sense of
belonging, tradition, and at the same time offered evidence for such a sensibility.
Conclusions
As Michel de Certeau notes, The return to origins always states the contrary of
what it believes, at least in the sense that it presupposes a distancing in respect to a
past (that space which precisely denes history: through it is effected the mutation
of lived tradition by which one makes a past, the ob-ject of study), and a will to
recover what, in one fashion or another, seems lost in a received language. In this
way the return to origins is always a modernism as well.
122
Indeed, narratives
of the pastreal and imaginedcould provide J ews very effective means for
challenging contemporary external authority and reasserting J ewish settlement and
rights in the present. Legal discussions that demonstrated knowledge of, and ability
to mediate relations with, Christians not only served as an important framework for
religious belief and practice; they also allowed J ews to think about their external
another land where they do not know the language (Eidelberg, Medieval Ashkenazic History,
pp. 16970) [emphasis added].
120 Eidelberg, R. Juspa, p. 53.
121 Ibid., pp. 545.
122 Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, p. 136.
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 152
relations in broader religious and historical terms. In the same way, narratives of
the past that discussed J ewish magic and mystical gures demonstrated J ewish
acumen and ability to survive in adverse situations. Other stories, whether about
J ews specically or not, could situate J ews within the ancient history of a city or
region. They could bear witness to the historic, and therefore valid and ongoing,
position of the J ews.
Conclusion
The remarkably changeable, and at times unstable political, social, and religious
environment in early modern Germany could be navigated by casting self and
community in a civic, noble, or biblical past. In the case of the latter, J ews were
particularly signicant and they could serve as precursors to be replaced or whipping
posts, against which Christian identity could be developed. But J ews did not
necessarily quietly acquiesce to such replacement or marginalization. They could
stand their own ground, as witnesses to history, reasserting their identity as true
Israelites, and simultaneously employing lineage, descent, and notions of authentic
tradition to establish both internal social and political structure, while carving out or
maintaining their identity in opposition to their Christian neighbors. If lineage and
tradition were highly symbolic and frequently contested in early modern Germany,
J ews were an important point of discussion, and, at times, seem to have been willing
participants in the strategies to nd and maintain identity.
As we have seen, J ewish concepts of time and narrations of past events could
be typological and religious, at the same time that they could be more consciously
directed toward social and political concerns. Although early modern German J ews
did not often leave for us formal historiographical works, they did not simply succumb
to their fate, passively accepting what they were handed. Early modern German
J ews thought about and distinguished the past in more complex ways than historians
have been willing to believe. They chose from remnants of the past, deciding which
customs, rules, and community structures were relevant or obsolete. They engaged
the past in their efforts to explain the present and to improve themselves.
On the one hand, community discourse, as in community ledgers and minutes,
engaged the past to enforce order, empower authority, or record the traditions of the
community. In so doing, the narration of the past created community structure and
projected that structure into the future. At the same time, the very act of narration,
particularly when it described conict between competing centers of authority,
could point to signicant changes within the community. Engaging the past might
offer an invaluable means for J ews to educate and offer moral instruction to the
J ewish community itself. Narrating the past, as in the memorialization of the dead,
served to craft communal identity that was often regional, while less directly
reinforcing communal hierarchy and values. Honora concept of increasing
importance throughout early modern Germanywas recognized by J ews to be of
great importance; and honor was accorded to individuals and families based on their
efforts for the J ewish community, their accomplishments, and their connections with
the past.
On the other hand, J ews engaged the past as a means to contest the marginalization
threatened by broader developments within Christianity, as the Reformation threw
into relief serious questions about authority and tradition, and as Protestants and
Catholics competed for access to and control over Scripture and identication as
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 154
the new Israel and as J ews continued to suffer from anti-J ewish mentality and
politics. As the career and work of J osel of Rosheim makes clear, contesting such
marginalization was important and quite possible. In the same way that J ews sought
to restate their biblical presence, they might also play a signicant role in the more
general history of the world. Engaging non-J ewish history and sources, David Gans,
for example, maintained the centrality of J ewish history, elevating the presence and
importance of J ews in universal history. This was a particularly important move at
a time when universal histories and cosmographies were becoming more common
and popular.
J ews attempted to re-inscribe themselves in the past in a variety of ways. As
masters of their own legal tradition, they dictated the historical status of non-J ews
in their own legal deliberations, while simultaneously demonstrating the long and
involved interaction between J ews and Christians. Through various folkloric tales,
J ews presented themselves and their communities as of ancient provenance, integral
to the development of particular cities, regions, or nations. The writing down of
origin stories in particular J ewish communitieswhether they stressed the origins
of the J ews in the city or merely made J ews familiar with the more general history of
the cityserved further to reinforce early modern J ewish identity. While J ews were
thus inserted into the general lore of the city, they also etched out their own stockpile
of events, which at times allowed them to contest external authority in indirect ways.
The power of J ewish mystics, for example, afforded J ews the opportunity to defend
themselves, even when such defenses may have been more imagined than real.
In the end, this book asserts that early modern German J ewish engagement with the
past was neither as simple, traditional, nor lachrymose as scholars have maintained.
Although paradigms were frequently utilized in narratives of the past, and although
such narratives were generally not presented in strictly historiographical garb, it
cannot be maintained that J ews in this period did not think historically or, more
signicantly, did not engage the past in a variety of ways and for many different
purposes. Although early modern Germany was, for both J ews and Christians, at times
highly charged and often changeable, it cannot be concluded that the period was one
of continual crisis, in which only response to tragedy found its way into narratives
of the past. The reality was much more complex, and J ews therefore grappled with
and grafted the past onto different situations, both internal and external, to contest
and mediate authority.
1
As the early modern period more generally becomes studied
and approached with more nuance, we can no longer be content to see early modern
J ewry as simply stagnant and helpless, marching on through the Middle Ages and
awaiting, in almost breathless anticipation, the birth pangs of modernity. It is no
longer possible to see early modern German J ewry as bound only by the paradigms of
the past, particularly in a society and under conditions that belie static complacency
and unreective engagement with the world. As the Italian historian Giovanni Levi
has argued, in his interpretation of an exorcists activities as part of an attempt to
1 J ews might also assert their identity in an effort to keep from being subsumed by
burgeoning Polish-J ewish culture. See J ay Berkovitz, J ewish Law and Ritual in Early
Modern Germany, in Bell and Burnett (eds), Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation, pp. 481-
502, especially pp. 486, 502.
Conclusion 155
secure political authority, Normative systems, both long established and in process
of formation, left gaps, interstices in which both groups and individuals brought into
play consequential strategies of their own. Such strategies marked political reality
with a lasting imprint. They could not prevent forms of domination, but they did
condition and modify them.
2
2 Giovanni Levi, Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane
(Chicago, 1988), p. xv.
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Index
Aachen, 36, 68
Aaron Teomim, Rabbi, 132
Abraham, 112, 142
Abraham Ibn Daud, 19
Abraham Ibn Ezra, 119
Abraham Samuel Bacharach, 132
absolutist state, 70, 103
Adam, 126; Adam and Eve, 144
Africa, 121
agriculture, 37
Akiva Frankfurt(er), Rabbi, 43, 79
Akiva, Rabbi, 30
Albrecht V, Duke, 117
allegory (see also biblical interpretation),
109
Alsace, 36, 87, 113
Altona, 39, 89, 90, 92
Amsterdam, 25, 45, 56, 92, 93, 96, 97, 106,
147-8
Amtmann, 101
Anabaptists, 126
anagogy (see also biblical interpretation),
109
angels, 137
animals, sale of, 102
anti-J udaism, 104, 107, 108, 110, 112, 118,
121, 140, 154
Antiquarium, 117
Antiquity, 14
apocalypse (see also eschatology), 94
apostates, (see also converts), 75, 113-15,
128
Arndt, J ohann, 93
art, 29
Asher Aron, Rabbi, 79
Asher Levy of Reichshofen, 87, 89
Ashkenaz, x, 31, 55
assessors, 43
assimilation, 7
astronomy, 123
Aub, 75
Augsburg, 37, 58, 67, 68, 76, 77, 78, 80,
102, 118
Augustine, 14, 124; Augustinian notion of
witness, 119
Augustus, Duke Ernest, 71
Augustus, Emperor, 125
Auschwitz, 10
Austria, 80, 102
authority, 16, 31, 101, 153; crisis of, 17;
locating, 17; of God, 16; political,
155; rabbinic, 62; regional, 48
autobiography, xi, 80, 82-5, 86ff, 93, 98
av bet din (head of the rabbinic court), 51,
61, 135
Aventinus, J ohannes, 15, 145
Avraham Shaftel, 50
Azariah de Rossi, 27, 123, 124, 128
Baalei Shemot, 138, 140
Baalei Tosafot (Tosasts), 78
Babylonia, 127
Baiersdorf, 73, 75
Baker, Keith, 11, 12
Bamberg, 45, 46, 47, 70
Bar-Itzhak, Haya, 146
Basel, 119, 140
Bastress-Dukehart, Erica, 85
bathhouse, 58
Bavaria, x, 35, 36, 77, 145
behavior, proper, 17
Behrend(s) family, 70
Beila, daughter of Nathan Melrich of
Altona, 89
Belgium, 96
Belgrade, 71
Berlichingen, Gtz von, 97, 98
Berlin, 39, 70
bet din (house of judgment, J ewish court
of law), 48, 54, 63, 132
biblical interpretation, 20, 109-10
Bietigheim on the Neckar, 37
Binswagen, 73, 75, 77
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 180
Black Death, 105; pogroms, 57, 73, 134
Black Forest, 35
Blaeu, Cornelis, 97
Blaeu, J oan (J ohn), 97
blasphemy, 111
blood libel, 107
Bohemia (see also expulsion(s), Bohemia),
22n, 24, 103-04, 124, 126, 127, 148
Bonl, Robert, 7-8
bonre(s), 64, 134-5
Bonn, 122
books, 101
Brahe, Tycho, 123
Brandenburg, 68, 102
Braunschweig, 110
Breckling, Friedrich, 92-3
Bremen, 37
Breslau, 118
Breuer, Mordechai, 78
brit milah (see circumcision), 51, 59, 89
Bucer, Martin, 107, 111-12
Budapest, 71
Bullinger, Heinrich, 107
Burgau, 77, 77n, 78, 79, 102
Burmeister, Heinz, 119
Calixt, Georg, 93
Campbell, Tony, 96, 97
cantors, 43
Capistrano, J ohn of, 126
Capito, Wolfgang, 112
Carlebach, Elisheva, 115
cattle, 102n
cemetery(ies), 44, 58, 72, 78, 92
ceremony(ies), 73, 85, 108, 122
Cerf Levy (see Hirsch Levy), 87
chain of tradition literature, 5
charity, 43, 49, 79
charter(s), 70, 139
Chayim Hameln (see Hayyim son of Joseph
ben Baruch Daniel Samuel ha-
Levi ), 82
Chazan, Robert, 32
Chemnitz, Dr., 139
Chmielnicki massacres, 22
Chosen People, xi, 21, 99, 106, 112, 128
Christian Hebraists, 119, 121, 125
Christian IV, King of Denmark, 93
Christian sects, 125
chronicle(s), ix, 15, 19, 85-6, 93,98, 99-100,
108, 117, 122, 123, 124, 128, 133,
145; late medieval town, 15
chronology, 14n, 31, 99, 127, 128; of the
world, 122
Church Fathers, 124
Church, true, 108
circumcision (see brit milah), 62, 134, 148
cities, 36
citizenship, 68
Cleves, 84
Cluny, 80
coat of arms, 96-7, 148-9
Cochlaeus, J ohannes, x
codes, legal (see also law), 30, 101, 132
Cohen, Gerson, 19
Colmar, 36, 68
Cologne, 36, 70, 73, 75, 139; Cologne-
Deutz, 73
comets, 93
confessionalization, 104-05, 110
confraternities, 72
Conring, Hermann, 93
Constantines conversion, 126
converts (see also apostates), 126
cosmography(ies), 99, 118, 119
counterfeiting, 57
court, 41
court culture, 98; court life, 71
Court J ews (Hofjuden), 70-72, 85, 98; court
factors/purveyors, 39
court(s), imperial, 77, 79, 140
courts, central J ewish, 58, 69, 77, 150
courts, foreign, 48
court(s), J ewish (see bet din), 103
covenant, 106
craft production, 37
creation, 127
Crusade(s), 73, 124; Crusade chronicles, 19,
32; First, 126
customs (see minhag(im)), ix, x, xi, 31, 40,
41, 42, 44, 48-9, 50, 51, 53, 55-6,
60-64, 69, 78, 120-22, 131, 133,
134, 136, 140, 145, 153; customs
book(s), 29, 44, 48ff, 136; customs,
Poland, 53
Dalbourg family, 151
dance hall, 58; dance houses, 44
Index 181
Daniel Landshut, 51
Daniel Levi de Barrios, 147
Darmstadt, Landgrave of, 116
David and Goliath, 26
David Gans, 28, 28n, 30-31, 99, 100, 122-8,
131, 148, 150, 154
David Kimhi (Radak), 119
Davis, Natalie, 89-90
Day of J udgment, 97
De Certeau Michel, 16n, 84, 151
demography (see also settlement), xi, 35
Denmark, 47, 120n; Denmark, King of, 90,
145
Detmers, Achim, 106
diaries, 87
divine providence, 7, 120, 123n, 127
Du Boulay, F.R.H., 15
Dsseldorf, 45
earthquakes, 28, 28n, 63, 93
Eck, J ohannes, 119
eclipses, 28
Edom (see also Esau), 125
education, Torah, 45; educators, 43
ego-documents (see also autobiography), 87
Egypt (see also Exodus from Egypt), 29
Ehingen, Georg von, 80
Ehingen, Rudolff von, 80
Eisenmenger, J ohannes, 72
Eitzing, Michael von, 96
Elchanan bar Abraham Helen, 116
Eleazer ben J udah Kalonymos (Rokeah),
141, 143
elections, 45, 140
Eliade, Mircea, 1n
Eliahu ttingen, Rabbi, 80
Eliezer (Lazarus) Gnzburg, 79
Eliezer ha-Levy, 87
Elijah, 142
Elijah Baal Shem, 151
Elijah Levita, 107, 119
Elijah Pollak, 114
Emden, 36, 68, 147
emperor(s), 57, 67, 77, 80, 85, 97, 100, 103,
114n, 127, 137n, 139; Roman, 80
empires, four world (see also four monar-
chies), 20
end of the world, 118; end of times, 93
England, 100, 120n, 124
environmental conditions, 88
epidemics, 28n, 35, 104
Erasmus of Rotterdam, 108
eruv, 68
Esau (see also Edom), 107
eschatology (see also apocalypse), 20, 109,
110, 111
estates, 70, 100, 103
Esther, 24-5, 82
ethnography, 120
Eucharist, 147
excommunication (see herem), 42, 46, 61
exemplarium, 109
exile, 5, 21, 48, 127
Exodus from Egypt, 26, 26n, 30, 116
expulsion(s), 21, 25, 30, 38, 57, 59, 60, 62,
63, 65, 75, 77, 79, 80, 91-2, 99, 102-
03, 104, 105, 110, 111, 113, 115,
116, 119, 124, 126, 133, 134, 135,
138, 149; Bohemia, 126; France, 30,
121, 124; Frankfurt, 51, 61, 62, 116;
Prague, 114n; Spain, 6-7, 124, 146;
Vienna, 71, 102; Worms, 62, 63,
133-4, 138
fairs, Frankfurt, 39, 56, 57
Fasolt, Constantin, 13
fast days, 6, 59, 63, 63n, 89, 116, 134, 137;
Fast of Esther, 116; fasting, 21-2,
74, 114, 138
feast days, 116, 137; feasting, 138
feminists, 20n
Fettmilch uprising, 21, 24, 59-61, 116, 138,
139; Fettmilch, Vincent, 58, 116
Fischach, 77
Flensburg, 93
folklore, 17, 131, 154
four monarchies (see also empires, four
world), 110, 127
France (see also expulsion(s), France), 10,
31, 35, 100, 120n, 124, 125, 141,
144
Franck, Sebastian, 122
Franconia, 101
Frankfurt am Main (see also expulsion(s),
Frankfurt), 9, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31,
36, 39, 43, 48, 49, 51, 54, 56, 57-61,
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 182
67, 68, 69, 73, 75, 76, 79, 80, 84, 98,
115, 122, 132, 132n, 133, 138, 139,
140, 150
fraternities, brotherhoods, 43
French Revolution, 11
Friedberg, 46, 150
Friedrich III, King, 118
Friedrichs, Christopher, 69
Fulda, 39, 60, 73, 73n, 75, 102, 103, 132,
136, 150
Funkenstein, Amos, 8, 9, 28, 32
Frth, 39, 73n, 77, 84, 104
gabbaim, 41, 42-3, 46, 60n
galut (exile), 48
Geary, Patrick, 146
Gemeinschaft (community), 17
genealogy(ies), 93, 98, 120, 145
Gentiles, 58, 64n, 78, 101, 101n-02n, 112,
123n, 134n, 135-6, 138, 151
geography, 118, 120, 122, 123
Gershom ben J udah Meor ha-Golah (see
Rabbenu Gershom), 74
ghetto (see also quarter, J ewish), 39, 58, 59,
68, 132n
Giessen, 93
Glckel of Hameln, 26, 71, 82-5, 87, 89-92
Glckstadt, 47
Graus, Frantiek, 17
gravestone(s), 81, 82; gravestone inscrip-
tions, 119
Greece, 127; Greeks, 127
Greenblatt, Rachel, 81-2
Grimmelshausen, Hans J akob Christoffel
von, 92, 94-5
guilds, 43, 139
Gnzburg, 77, 77n, 78, 79, 150
Habsburgs, 85, 134
Haggadah, 29
Hagiography, 141
halakhic exibility, 32
halakhic literature (see also rabbinic litera-
ture), 136
Halberstadt, 37, 104
Halbwachs, Maurice, 1-2, 4, 9-12
Halle, 58
Haman, 25-6, 116
Hamburg, 9, 25, 36, 37, 39, 47, 78, 89, 90,
91-2, 102, 106, 145; Bank of, 91
Hamelburg, 135
Hameln, 89
Hanau, 73, 73n, 96
Handweitt bei Flensburg, 92
Hannover, 70, 72; Hannover-Neustadt, 72
Hanseatic cities, 37, 91, 145
harvests, bad, 35
hasid, 49, 53-5n, 141n
Hasidei Ashkenaz (German Pietists), 51,
140-43
Hayyim Katz of Prague, 50, 51
Hayyim son of J oseph ben Baruch Daniel
Samuel ha-Levi (Segal) (see Chayim
Hameln), 89
Hayyim Wahl, 114
Hebrew, 19, 28, 45, 105, 119, 124, 141, 147;
Hebrew Bible, 106, 119
Heidelberg, 39, 71, 119, 132n, 133, 150n
Heidingsfeld, 75
Heilbronn, 102
Hendl, daughter of Evril Gronim, 81
Henry IV, Emperor, 126
Henry V, Emperor, 126
herem (excommunication), 42, 46, 61
Herrschaft (see also authority), 101
Hesse, 110-12, 128; Hesse-Darmstadt, 104;
Hesse-Kassel, 36
hevra kadisha (burial society), 23, 43
Hildesheim, 60, 103
Hirsch Levy (see Cerf Levy), 83
Hirtz Treves of Frankfurt, Rabbi, 50, 54
historians, medieval, 16
histories, territorial, 123; histories, univer-
sal, 99, 154; histories, world, 119,
128, 154
historiography, J ewish, 4, 5, 7, 8, 27; Prot-
estant, 125
history, acceleration of, 3
Hobsbawm, Eric, 13
Holy Land, 74, 78, 121, 122, 151
Holy Roman Empire, 36, 110
honor, xi, 46, 68, 71, 72, 78, 84-5, 91, 92,
95, 97, 98, 153
Hoshana Rabba, 64
host desecration accusations, 118
Hsia, R. Po-chia, 106
Huguenots, 36
Index 183
humanists, 85, 118
Hungary, x, 124, 134
Hus, J ohn, 121, 126
Hutton, Patrick, 12
Idel, Moshe, 137
idolatry, 135, 149
imperial commission, 57, 60
imperial feudal service, 77
informers, 113-14, 126, 128-9
Innsbruch, 79
Isaac Abarbanel, 146
Isaac ben J acob Alfasi (Rif), 55
Isaac ben Samuel of Meiningen, 73
Isaac ben Solomon Luria (Ari), 50, 51, 76
Isaak aus Salzufeln, 92
Isaiah Horowitz, 133
Israel (see also Holy Land), 43, 124, 126;
ancient, 5, 19, 108; biblical (elect),
111, 112; corporeal, 111; eternal, 19;
modern, 7; new, 99, 106, 154
Israel Henlig (Henlisch), 114
Israel, J onathan, 105, 108
Israelites, ancient, 98, 106, 107, 111; true,
128, 153
Italy, x, 103, 124; Italians, 144
J acob Bassevi von Treuenberg, 81
J acob ben Meir Tam (see Rabbenu Tam), 74
J acob ben Moses Halevy, 146
J acob Molin (see Maharil)
J acob Schweinfurt, 51
J acob Weil, 50
J ena, 93
J eremiah, 142
J erusalem, 20, 54, 79, 120n, 124, 151; J eru-
salem of the North (see also Zion of
the North), 106
J esus Christ, 108, 111, 119, 121, 125, 147
J ewry policies, 77-8, 103, 104, 105, 111
J ewry, contemporary, 112
J onas, J ustas, 107
J osel of Rosheim (J oseph ben Gershon), 99,
112-13, 115, 126, 128, 131, 154
J oseph Karo, 135
J oshua Falk, Rabbi, 150-51
J ost Liebmann, 70-71
J udah Berlin, 84
J udah he-Hasid (J udah the Pious), 140, 141,
142
J udah J oseph Leib, 89
J udaizing, 91
J ulius, Emperor, 125
J uspa Hahn (J oseph J uspa Hahn of Nrdlin-
gen), 31, 42, 43, 48-57, 59-62, 116,
131, 134, 136, 138, 140, 148-51
J ustin Martyr, 124
kabbalah, 51, 143, 144; Lurianic kabbalah,
7; kabbalistic sources, 132; kab-
balists, 54, 138
kahal (community), 46-7, 63n, 137n
Katz, J acob, 86, 135, 141
Kaufmann, David, 133
kehilla (pl. kehillot; community), 46, 48,
75, 114
kiddush Hashem (see martyrdom), 124
Kings, Book of, 146
knowledge, 16
Koblenz, 73, 73n, 75, 78, 132, 132n
Knigsberg, 93
Kracauer, Isidore, 59
Kriegshaber, 77
Kreuznach, 73, 73n
LaCapra, Dominick, 10-11
lachrymose conception of J ewish history,
7, 154
Landesrabbiner, 72, 79
Landjudenschaften, 39, 40
Lassner, J acob, 112-13
last days (see also end of the world), 96
Latin, 124
law, 16, 24n, 32, 45-50, 60-61, 64, 112; law
codes, 132; law, J ewish, 127; legal
compendia (halakhic), 133; legisla-
tion, communal, 23; dietary, 107;
Mosaic, 107; Roman, 68
ledger(s), community (see pinkas(im)), ix,
xi, 22, 23, 28, 44-8, 64, 136, 153
Leffmann Behrends, 70, 71, 72
legal decision-making, x, xi, 129, 136; legal
deliberations, 131; legal discussions,
151; legal tradition, 154
Lehmann family, 70
Leipnik, 132
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 184
Leipzig, 93, 104, 118, 121
letters of protection (see Schutzbriefe), 90,
103
Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides, Ralbag),
119
Levi Micha, 50
Levi, Giovanni, 154
Lewis, Bernard, 4
library, 119
life cycle events, 89
Lisbon, 121
literal sense of Scripture, historical (see also
biblical interpretation), 109
liturgy, 6, 20, 72, 134, 143
Liwa Kirchheim, 136, 138
London, 91
Louis XIV, 71
Lbeck, 37, 68, 102
Ludwig, Karl Duke, 135
Luther, Martin, 104, 106-10, 126
Lutherans, 92-3, 106
Maaseh Bukh, 140-42
Magdeburg, 37
magic, xi, 3, 50, 138-40, 152
Maharal (J udah Loew), 114, 123n, 131
Maharam (see Meir ben Barukh of Rothens-
burg), 74, 75, 76, 78
Maharil (J acob Molin), 50, 61, 75, 76, 141
Maharshal (Solomon Luria), 31, 50
Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon), 76, 123n
Mainz, 20, 37, 58, 70, 73, 75, 76, 78, 80,
132; bishop of, 116
Manheim, 132n
map(s), 96-7, 121
mara datra (master of the place), 54
Marcus, Ivan, 8-9, 19
Marranos, 91
martyrdom (see also kiddush Hashem),
124; martyrology, 4; martyrology,
Christian, 125
martyrs, 75, 80
Matthias, Emperor, 104
matzot, 143
Maximilian, Emperor, 145; Maximilian,
King, 118
Mecklenburg, 35, 101
medinah (region), 75, 135
Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg (see Maha-
ram), 74
Meir ben Isaac Oettingen, Rabbi, 75
Meir ha-Levy, 50
Meir son of ha-Rav Maharam, 78
Meir Stern, Rabbi, 101n
Melanchthon, Philip, 107, 109, 110
membership, communal, 40
Memmingen, 77
memoirs, 82-3, 87-92
memorialization of the dead, 72-3, 153;
memorials, 98
memory, 10, 11, 16, 30; memory and histo-
ry, xi, 1-4, 12; memory and history,
J ewish, 4ff; memory and history,
Middle Ages, 14; memory, collec-
tive, 1, 2, 9, 10; memory, J ewish,
19; memory, J ewish collective, 7
memorybook(s), ix, xi, 6, 44, 45, 73, 75-6,
78-85, 86, 98
Mendes Bass, Rabbi, 132
mercantilist policies, 101
messianism, 5, 20, 125
Metz, 45, 60, 74, 75, 87, 133
Middle Ages, 6, 14
middle class, J ewish, 85, 98
middot (characteristics), 49-50
midwife, 101n
migration, 36
mikvaot (ritual bathhouses), 44
minhag(im) (see also custom(s)), xi, 42, 50,
55; Ashkenazic, 50, 61
minutes book (see also pinkas(im)), 115
missionizing, 120
mitzvot, 50, 80
modernity, 3, 4, 7, 11, 28, 100, 146, 154;
modern historical thinking, 27
mohel, 136
moneylending, 70, 104; usury, 26, 70, 102,
102n, 112, 139, 149
moralism, 123; moralizing, 17, 22, 26, 114;
morality tales, 91; moral instruc-
tion, 153; moral maxims, 127; moral
upbraiding, 145
Moravia, 104, 132
Mordechai, 25, 82, 116
Mordechai bar Hillel, 125
Mrke, Olaf, 100
Moses, 142
Index 185
Moses Abraham, Rabbi, 79
Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides), 119
Moses Isserles, 79
Moses Lb Isaac Kann, 70
Moses Menachem, 51
Moshe baal haSemag, 125
Moshe Mendels, 61
Munich, 117
Mnster, Sebastian, 70, 106, 117, 119-23,
126
Mnzer, Thomas, 106
musar, 49
Muslims, 113
mystics, J ewish, 131, 138, 154
Naftali Hirtz, 80
names, holy (see also shemot and Baalei
Shemot), 144; mystical, 142
natural disasters, 123, 145
Natural Law, 111
Nero, 125
Netherlands, 93, 96
Neuburg, 75, 79; Duke of, 102
Neusner, J acob, 19
New World, 91, 128
Nicholas V, Pope, 126
Nimrod, 127
Nora, Pierre, 1, 3-4, 7, 9, 10
Nrdlingen, 37, 48, 49, 67, 118
Nuremberg, 37, 39, 58, 73, 77, 107, 117,
118, 125
Oberbronn, 87
Oettingen, 75
Offenbach, 75, 76
oligarchy, 42, 72
Ophir, 128
Oppenheim, 58, 63, 75
Oppenheimer family, 62n, 70, 71, 132
ordinances (see also takkanot), 41, 44-8, 51,
54, 61, 68, 78, 115, 149; (ascamot),
47; J ewry ordinances, 56, 100; com-
munity, 51
Origen, 124
origin legends, stories, xi, 131, 144-7, 151,
154
orlah, 50, 102, 102n
Osiander, Andreas, 107
oven, community, 44
pagans, 121
Palatinate, x, 39, 101, 135, 138; Duke of,
135
paradigms, typology, xi, 6, 19-24, 27, 32,
153, 154
Paradise, 121
Parnas(im), 41, 42, 45, 46, 62, 83, 90, 134
Passau, 118
Passover, 136-8, 143
Peace of Westphalia (1648), 100
Peasants War (1525), 110
peddlers, 104
penance, 20, 22
Pentateuch (see Torah), 78
Persecution (see also anti-J udaism), 6, 113,
121, 124, 126
Persia, 127
pestilence, 51, 145
Pfersee, 73-80
Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, 111
philosophy, 78
physicians, communal, 43
Pinchas Seligman of Nrdlingen, Rabbi,
49, 54
pinkas(im) (see also community ledger(s)
and minutes books), xi, 23, 28, 44-8
Piper of Niklashausen, 118
Pitom and Ramses, 29
plagues, 93, 150
pogroms (see also persecutions and anti-
J udaism), 57, 80
Poland, x, 41, 55, 92, 120n, 146, 147; Po-
land-Lithuania, 103
Polemic, 108, 117, 120, 128, 131, 141
Policey, policies, 60, 100
Pomerania, 101
poor J ews, 43, 74, 78, 98
portents, 93, 123
Portugal, 91
Portuguese J ews, 24, 39, 47, 91
Posen, 43, 45-8
postmodern history, 12
Prague (see also expulsion(s), Prague), x-xi,
9, 21-2n, 23, 24, 38, 39, 43, 45, 55,
70, 79, 81, 96, 104, 114-15, 122,
123, 126, 132, 133, 140, 148
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 186
prayer(s), 6, 22, 41, 44, 49, 59, 61-2, 74, 80,
89, 109, 116, 134, 136n, 137, 142
preachers, 93, 112, 126, 141; preaching,
anti-J ewish, 126
privileges, 39, 47, 58, 77, 139
procession, Christian, 136
Psalms, 74, 109
Purim, 21, 52, 116; Purim story, 24, 25;
second Purims, 6
quarter, J ewish (see also ghetto), 58, 59, 63,
68, 133, 136, 150n
Rabbenu Gershom (see Gershom ben J udah
Meor ha-Golah), 75
Rabbenu Tam (see J acob ben Meir Tam),
75, 78
Rabbi, 4, 5, 19, 23, 40, 41, 42, 45, 48, 50,
54, 56, 58, 60, 61-2, 70, 75, 76, 91,
92, 103, 122, 136; communal, 132-
3; rabbis house, 58
rabbinic literature, 119, 120
rabbinic period, 5-6
Ramban (see Moses ben Nahman), 143-4
Rankburg, 79
Rashi (see Solomon ben Isaac of Troyes),
76, 78, 119, 135, 150n; Rashi com-
mentary, 78
redemption of captives, 79
reform, social, 110
Reformation, ix, xi, 93, 99, 104-10, 153
Regensburg, 58, 115, 118, 141, 142
Reichshofen, 87
Reichskammergericht (Imperial Chamber
Court), 100
Reichskreise (Imperial Circles), 100
Reichstag (Imperial Diet), 100
religion, folk and elite, 78
Renaissance, 15, 27, 28, 99
Rentmeister, 101
repentance, 20, 22, 88, 114-15
response, ix, 29, 101-02, 131-3, 135, 141
revolts, 39, 68
Rhegius, Urbanus, 107
Rhine, 57, 138
Rindeisch pogrom (1298), 73
rites, Catholic, 147; rites, religious, 147
ritual, 5, 16, 18, 41, 43, 59, 72, 86, 101, 105,
108, 137, 138n
Rohrbacher, Stefan, 69
Rokeah (see Eleazar ben J udah Kalonymos),
30n, 143-4
Rome, 31, 125, 127, 145n
Rosh (Asher ben Yehiel), 31
Rosh ha-Shannah, 59
Rudolph II, Emperor, 122, 124, 126, 127,
129
rural J ewish communities, J ewry, 40, 76,
78, 102
Russia, 91, 120n
Sabbath (see Shabbat), 63n, 68-9, 80; Sab-
bath meal, 60, 61
Sachs, Hans, 67
Safed, 79
Sallust, 15
Samson Wertheimer, 70
Samuel ben Kalonymos he-Hasid (Samuel
the Pious), 141
Samuel Oppenheim(er), 70, 71, 75
Samuel the Pious (see Samuel he-Hasid),
140
Saxony, x, 36, 70, 101
Schedel, Hartmann, 117-18, 122
Schmalkaldic League, 145
Schnaittach, 45, 46
scholastics, 15
Schutz und Schirm (protection), 101
Schutzbrief (see letters of protection), 79
Schwbisch Hall, 67
Schwarzfuchs, Simon, 74
Schweinfurt, 58, 102
science, 17, 123, 123n, 133; scientic revo-
lution, 28
scribe, 45, 48, 73, 136; community, 41
Scribner, Bob, 104
Scripture(s), 4, 15, 99, 109, 118, 127, 153
Sefer Haredim, 50, 53
Sefer Hasidim, 50, 53, 140, 141
self-criticism, 113
selihot, 6, 59
sensus historicus (see also biblical interpre-
tation), 109
Sephardic and Ashkenazic distinctions, rela-
tions, 8, 8n, 9, 39, 91-2, 144
sermon, 42, 144; sermons, forced or conver-
sionary, 111, 112
Index 187
settlement (see also demography), 35-7,
101; settlement(s), J ewish, 38-40,
58, 61, 62, 75, 103, 105, 129, 145,
146-7, 149, 151
Seventeenth of Tammuz, 21
sexton, 136
Shabbat (see Sabbath), 59, 62
Shabbetai Sevi, 91, 92, 133
shammash (beadle), 41, 61-2, 64n, 137
Shavuot, 80
Shemini Azeret, 114
shemot (see also names, holy and Baalei
Shemot), 143
Shimon ben Hillel, Rabbi, 125
Shimon Gnzburg, 79
Shimon son of Eliezer, Rabbi, 78
Shoah, 4
shohet(im) (ritual slaughterer), 43, 136
Shopkow, Leah, 17
shtadlan, 41, 71, 112
Shulhan Arukh, xn, 31, 50, 55, 135
sick, care for and burial of, 41, 43, 80
Silesia, 126
Simhat Torah, 64n, 80, 134
Simon of Trent, 118, 121
sin(s), 20-22, 23, 59, 63n, 82-3, 88, 95, 113,
115, 123, 124, 126, 134, 137, 137n,
144, 150n; economy of, 20-21;
divine punishment for, 113
Slumiel of Prossnitz, 51
social discipline, 104-05
social orders, 36; society of orders, 67
social polarization, 69
Solomon ben Isaac of Troyes, Rabbi (see
Rashi), 75
Solomon Israel, Rabbi, 75
Solomon Luria (see Maharshal)
Spain (see also expulsion(s), Spain), 70,
87, 91, 100, 120n, 124, 143, 146;
Spaniards, 144
Spessart, 96
Speyer, 20, 63, 73, 75, 76
stars (see also portents), 28, 135
state, centralized, 17
status, social, 68, 86, 95, 96, 98
Steppach, 77
Stern, Selma, 113
Stock, Brian, 17
Strasbourg, 93, 106, 112; bishop of, 94
study halls, 44
Stuttgart, 37
sumptuary laws, 44, 68
Sussman Brilin, Rabbi, 132
Swabia, 35, 77, 78, 79, 80; Swabian J ewry,
69
Switzerland, 36
synagogue(s), 6, 21, 42n, 44, 49, 58, 59, 61,
62, 63, 64n, 69, 72, 74, 75, 80, 103,
111, 114, 119, 126, 134, 136, 138,
139, 144, 148, 150n; synagogue
seats, 45; Sephardic, 92
synod of German J ews, x; (1542) 23, 48;
(1603) 115, 150; synods, rabbinic,
58
takkanot (see ordinances), 44, 45, 47, 48, 68
Talmud, 30, 42, 54, 78, 101, 102n, 111, 122,
132, 135, 141
tashlikh, 59
Tauler, J ohann, 93
tax(es), x, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45, 57, 58, 67-8,
78, 91, 149; tax lists 45; tax receipts
67
Temple, 26, 116; destruction of, 5, 6, 21, 27,
30, 80, 147, 148, 150n, 151
temporality, xi, 3, 20, 27-32, 95, 142-3
territorialization, 17, 62, 69, 100, 102, 135
testimony, 101; testimony, Gentile, 102
The Hague, 93
Thirty Years War, 37, 48, 57, 70, 88, 94,
103-04, 115, 150
Thuringia, 36, 101, 135
Tirol, 36
Tisha bAv, 80, 114, 138
tithing, 101
toleration, 111
Torah (see Pentateuch), 64, 64n, 75, 127,
143; Torah learning, 79, 146
Tosasts (see Baalei Tosafot), 78, 101n,
135
towns, 36-7, 39, 79
trade, 36, 37, 58, 70, 85, 148
tradition(s), 1, 2, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14n, 16,
17, 27, 31, 32, 44, 49, 62-5, 71-2,
99, 108, 110, 113, 131, 136, 146,
151, 153-4
Trajan, 125
Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany 188
Tratziger, Adam, 145
Trier, 73, 73n, 132n
Tropology (see also biblical interpretation),
109, 110
tsitsit, 101
Tur, 50
Turks, 28, 64n, 71, 93, 109, 134
Ulm, 37, 77, 79
Ulma-Gnzburg family, 79
Uri Halevy, 147
Uriel da Costa, 92
usury (see moneylending; usury)
vaad (council), 61
Veitschheim, 76
Venice, 146
Verona, 140
Vesuvius, Mount, 123
Vienna (see also expulsion(s), Vienna), 28,
39, 45, 70, 71, 84, 93, 104, 109
villages, 67, 69, 76, 77, 101
Vorarlberg, 36
Wandsbek, 39, 92
weather, 28, 93; severe, 35
wedding hall, 58
Weinryb, Bernard, 146-7
well-poisoning accusations, 121
Wertheimer family, 70, 71
Wesel, 36
Wettenhausen, 77
wine, 135
Wissenschaft des J udentums, 7
Wittenberg, 93, 104, 109
wonder stories, 29, 131
woodcuts, 121
Worms (see also expulsion(s), Worms), 21,
23, 39, 42, 43, 45, 56, 62-4, 68, 73,
73n, 75, 79, 131-9, 141, 143, 148-51
Wrttemberg, 35, 36, 37
Wrzburg, 70
Yair Hayyim Bacharach, 21, 30, 62-3, 101-
02, 131-6
Yakov Lieberman, 50
Yavneh, 20
Yerushalmi, Yosef Hayim, 1, 4-9, 59, 86
yeshivah, 42, 48, 61, 64n, 132
Yiddish, xn, 91, 140-42
Yishaya Segal, Rabbi, 54
Yohanan ben Zakai, Rabbi, 125
Yom Kippur, 55, 114-15, 147
Yom-Tov Lipman Heller, 22, 70
Zehner (Frankfurt J ewish board members),
60
Zimmern family, 86
Zion of the North (see also J erusalem of the
North), 106
Zionism, 7
Zohar, 50
Zurich, 58
Zwolle, 93