Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chassidei Ashkenaz named Adolph?

This is a flyleaf from a book published in 1747:

Ed Ve-aluf (Witness and Leader) [punning on "Adolf"]

An essay entitled Ed Ve-aluf, written by the godly sage Father
A fellow of the German Pietist Yeshiva in Moravia.
Printed in the year 5507

The Latin name of this book is Testis et Doctor (which means that to the author at least Aluf here meant Teacher). The author was Adolph Groll (1681-1743), who was rector of the Piaristenkollegiums in Vienna. The book was originally printed in 1711, but this is from the 1747 edition.

The חסידים אשכנזי, or German Pietists were a 17th and 18th century Christian revival movement which found a parallel of sorts you-know-where. Am I allowed to quote Wikipedia?
"The Pietists wanted a deeper emotional experience rather than a preset adherence to form (no matter how genuine). They stressed a personal experience of salvation and a continuous openness to new spiritual illumination.They also taught that personal holiness (piety), spiritual maturity, Bible study, prayer, and fasting were essential towards "feeling the effects" of grace."
This book, עד ואלוף, is a pretty run of the mill Christian Pietist text, except that it is in Hebrew and makes extensive use of Jewish sources to try to prove the truth of Christianity, which is why it was printed by missionary Johann Heinrich Callenberg, who also printed a Yiddish dictionary, and other missionary texts.

For example, the first chapter is called "How in the Future Hakadosh Baruch Hu will sit in Gan Eden and expound a new Torah, which is destined to be revealed through the Messiah," citing Midrash Yeshayahu 26. This is a real Midrash (link).

Modest, too.


  1. My very rough reading is "Sefer Ed vaAluf is perfect and was completed by the youngest of the hhasidei [I assume "hhasidim" is a mistake] Adolf." My knowledge of Hebrew is minimal and very non-nuanced. Is the immodesty in the use of "tam"? It sounds to me like pious advertising lingo, but I don't know.

  2. It means that it's finished. "Tam" here is a synonym for completed ("nishlam" and "tam" both signify "whole"). "Tam ve-nishlam" is a stock phrase. "Ha-tzair be-chassidim, Adolph" means "the least of the Chassidim (Pietists), Adolph." This too is sort of stock.

    I didn't say immodest. Personally I find such things to be basically meaningless (many a person who did not consider themselve a "kattan" signed their name "Ha-kattan, X").

    Actually I couldn't think of a way to end the post, so I just showed the end of the book and since it's a pious declaration of modesty, I wrote that line. Actually it has no significance. It's like signing a letter "sincerely."

  3. See? I *told* you my knowledge of Hebrew was non-nuanced. At least I got *something* right. And my knowledge of English is also non-nuanced; I thought you were saying something like "Boy, isn't **he** modest, yuk yuk yuk." So I guess I can truly say my knowledge of Hebrew is as good as my knowledge of English.

  4. You did fine. :-)

    Anyway, I just find such language - which is not biblical Hebrew, but rabbinic convention - to be amusing, if not a little jarring, in Christian books.



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