Monday, May 17, 2010

A legendary account of the ultimate fate of the apostate son of Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz.

From Wolff's missionary journal of his mission in Bokhara (1843-45):


  1. The Jewish version of the legend can be found in דרך הנשר; it's footnote 174. The text to which it relates appears on the previous page.

  2. I may be ignorant re this era, but 2 questions:

    1) What implies that the link in "Bar Uryan's" comment is contradictory to the post? - Perhaps the link speaks of a later year than does the post (hence, he indeed did do said "teshuva").

    2) In the wikipedia link for R. Yonason, it doesn't mention Wolf as an apostate - only as claiming to be "a Shabbatean prophet, and was close to several Frankists, with the result that the yeshivah was closed".

    Also according to wikipedia -- R. Yonason's grandson, Baron Thomas von Schoenfeld (possibly Wolf's son?) was an apostate, and later founded "Asiatische Bruder" which was assoc. with both Sabbateanism and Christianity.

    Can anyone clarify as to Wolf's status (sources please) ?

  3. Anonymous,

    Re #1, I never intended to imply that the two stories were at odds with each other. Au contraire, it was anticipating the assumption that this tale is known solely from gentile sources.

    Re #2, my guess is that since this area of history is dominated by "Sabbetean" scholars, their findings are always skewed towards said angle. Presumably he was a wealthy 'infidel' (no one claimed he was an apostate) first, and any kooky stuff came in a distant second.

    For a lengthy treatment of his life, see גדולת יהונתן. In it we learn that his name was Adlersthal, not Adlerfeld, how he left the fold and how he returned (with the latter bearing great resemblance to the versions already provided), and what became of his children.

  4. Isn't that story about the pregnant mother told about Rashi as well?

  5. Since the Shul in question was built towards the end of R. Yehuda HaChasid's life, the story starring his pregnant mother seems quite dubious (never mind Rashi, who's never mentioned in the various printed versions of the legend); שלשלת הקבלה (for whatever it's worth) records the event as having occurred with R. Yehuda himself.

  6. Shimon S,


    Sorry for having overlooked your comment.

    R. Yechezkel Landau was rabbi of Yampol before Prague.

    As far whether or not anyone claimed that Wolf was an apostate, I think R. Yaakov Emden himself claimed it, sort of. I haven't located it inside, but I'm told that in the section Sechok Ha-kesil of the 1877 edition of Sefas Emes (hbooks # 35761) he claims that Wolf told Empress Maria Theresa that he had converted to Christianity. Take that for what it's worth.

    In this book (published in 1870) J. Cohn writes (p. 60) that a century after the events, there still live many in Altona and Hamburg many with oral traditions in their family concerning the Emden-Eybeschutz affair, and that he interviewed them. Naturally they retain viewpoints depending upon which side their ancestor's stood. Something like the idea that Wolf converted is no doubt one such thing, which the author of this piece, Wolff who was himself a convert, said he had heard in his own home. Of course it may not have been true.

  7. An additional story is quoted by R' Ovadyaשו"ת יביע אומר חלק ז - אורח חיים סימן יט from the shut Machane Chayim:
    ובשו"ת מחנה חיים שם סיפר אגב גררא, שפעם אחת היה הס"ת מונח על התיבה, ואף אחד מהקהל לא רצה לעלות לפרשת התוכחה, והוחילו עד בוש, ואז קם הברון אייבשיץ בנו של הגאון רבי יהונתן אייבשיץ, אשר היה בעל תשובה, ואמר בקול רם, חטאתי כי השארתי הס"ת מונח כך על התיבה, כי למי ראוי שיקראו לפניו התוכחה אם לא לפני שחטאתי הרבה נגד השי"ת, ובירך בקול גדול על התוכחה. והחת"ס בשומעו דבר זה התפלא על כך שהברון הנ"ל אשר זרע קודש מצבתו, זכה לחזור בתשובה שלימה, ואמר שזכות אבותיו עמדה לו לשוב לה' בכל לבבו. ע"כ).



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