Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Yiddish pamphlet against circumcision from 1737

Given some of the current talk about circumcision, it is interesting to contemplate a tactic that those who oppose circumcision don't seem to be thinking much about today: persuading people not to do it, in Yiddish, and using rabbinic texts. Yet this is exactly what a convert named Fromann did in this 1737 publication by Callenberg's Halle institute for converting Jews.








19 comments:

  1. Where do you find these things?
    Also, do you happen to just be browsing through these most obscure things, or did you search for them? Do you work in some type of library? To me you are one big riddle.

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  2. Ephrayim, it all depends. Not all, but most things I post are digitized and online. I do visit libraries on occasion, in search of things I am looking for, which have not been digitized.

    In this case, I was not looking for this book. However, I do have a standing interest in the publications of the Halle institute, having previously posted about some of them, and I recently came across a few more - this one included. It was digitized by the University of Halle, and that is where I found it - in their digital collection.

    As for the riddle, what is the riddle? There are people who are interested in everything. Some other version of me has a great blog about tomatoes, and someone else is going "You are a riddle, Tomato blogger!"

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    Replies
    1. i am a big fan of this blog, and i try to read every post, but i do not remember you writing about the publications of the Halle institute. since i can't find the search option on top of the blog, can you link to them?


      i think it is very important that you enlighten us all, how and where you find all this interesting stuff.

      also, can you please explain more about this digital collection, i tried to search, and found only that you need a password.

      thanks

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the kinds words.

      Here are three posts I did about Calleberg publications:

      http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2009/08/rabbinic-commentary-on-luke.html

      http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/12/first-dictionary-of-yeshivish-from-1736.html

      http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/12/callenberg-lexicon-has-emunah-for.html

      In terms of how I exploit the internet for research, although I really should do a new post, in the past I have done two posts on the topic:

      http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-do-i-do-it.html

      http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/02/some-useful-digital-resources.html

      Re searching for Callenberg/ Halle pamphlets specifically, try going to http://www.europeana.eu/ and searching for Callenberg.

      Delete
    3. thanks!

      two things i found looking at the old posts:

      1. "Subscription resources will be for another post."
      2."I plan another post about wayberdeutsch". since it came up in the comments maybe the has come.
      see: "Apostasy, Fraud, and the Beginnings of Hebrew Printing in Cracow", AJS Review, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Apr., 2006), pp. 31-66.

      Delete
    4. You're right. When I say I plan another post it's usually because I plan it, but it's also as a sort of place marker for people to remind me later if I didn't get around to it.

      Thanks for the AJS article recommendation.

      Delete
  3. Can u Please link the tomatoe blog???

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can u Please link the tomatoe blog???

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please post the link for the posted publication from the University of Halle. Thanks.

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  6. Here you go, Yitz: link

    Abe: I give you Lindy's Tomato Blog:

    http://tomatoeblog.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Despite the sprinkling of Hebrew words in this text, I'm not so sure that the language is Yiddish. Looks more like standard German to me. Apparently Callenberg gave some thought as to whether it would be more effective for his conversionist purposes to use standard German in Hebrew letters or a more Yiddishized version; there is an article about this in the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook of 2008 ("Yiddish--Language of Conversion? Linguistic Adaptation and Its Limits in Early Modern Judenmission"), but annoyingly, Google gives only a snippet view, so it's hard to tell just what is being said.

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    Replies
    1. It looks like Yiddish with very bad punctuation to me (based on the sentence syntax). And there's certainly more than a sprinkling of Hebrew. The author also distinguished between Hebrew and Yiddish/German by using vaybertaytch letters for the latter. I'd be interested to hear the bottom of it.

      Delete
    2. "Apparently Callenberg gave some thought".

      it was written by "Heinrich Christian Immanuel Frommann", since Callenberg did not know Hebrew so well. at least so says wikipedia:
      Frommann's records named him only as typist, but Callenberg was not proficient in Hebrew at all.

      Delete
  8. Didn't read the whole thing, only the first few lines. Anyway, it vaguely reminds me of this (http://www.intactnews.org/node/105/1311886372/jewish-voices-current-judaic-movement-end-circumcision-part-1):

    "According to modern scholars, circumcision is not even mentioned in either the earliest, "J", version of Bereshth ("Genesis") nor the next three rewrites by other authors. Most importantly, the story of Abram is there in its entirety, except the part about the Covenant being "sealed" with circumcision. The parallel Covenant story of "a smoking kiln and its blazing torch" passing between the halves of animals and birds sacrificed by Abram is in J. Many biblical scholars agree on this point, and it is in accord with the mitzvot against desecrating the body.... It has even been suggested that early Judaism forbad circumcision!"

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    Replies
    1. Theoretically, since that Egyptians were big on circumcision, it would make sense that the Hebrews would have been initially anti-circumcision.

      Delete
  9. From the same site:

    This author grew up in France in a traditional Jewish family. Not a single male of her generation or her children’s generation within her large family (or in her circle of Jewish friends) was ever circumcised.”

    A "traditional Jewish family [in which] not a single male of her generation [...] was ever circumcised"?!!!

    Musta been so traditional that it kept the super-ancient traditions of Judaism, which "forbad circumcision". They're so traditional, they hold by J.

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    Replies
    1. "They're so traditional, they hold by J."

      LOL!

      Delete
  10. The Tomato blog is not riddle because it only has a few dozen posts, not well past 1,000 posts. The real riddle is how this blog sustains its content.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The content is there. Many, many, many times more than I already posted. We have an interesting and rich heritage.

    ReplyDelete

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