Thursday, July 28, 2011

A strange Hebrew Benjamin Franklin story.

The following is from A.M. Habermann's Masekhet Sofrim ve-Sifrut (Jerusalem 1976) pg. 269, in a section on the love of books:

"The letters themselves contain secret magical properties. Gazing at them, even without understanding penetrate the heart and soul. Benjamin Franklin related: 'One time I was sitting and reading books, and a Jew named Peretz was also bent over a book. I knew that this Peretz was illiterate. Being curious by nature I asked him about it. He responded that it is due to God's benevolence that man can be involved with books, even if he does not know how to read!'"
Does anyone have any idea what the source for this Benjamin Franklin story is? I'd never heard of it. It even has the Jew's name?! Most strange.

The only thing I can think of is that it actually refers to Benjamin Franklin Peixotto (1834-1890), U.S. consul to Romania during a period of terrible persecution of the Jews. In Bucharest he did much for the rights of the local Jews.


  1. The fact the in the account, he mentions "and a Jew named..." implies that the author was not a Jew, which would dispel your theory.

  2. ben franklin of philadelphia was known as an anti semite, though he did donate to a new (still nominally orthodox) shul in downtown philadelphia.

  3. So is this the end of onthemainline? Has the well dried up?

  4. It's been a week and a half, not that you owe society anything, it's just that life was nicer when there were posts.

  5. Anonymous, dude, life is supposed to be deprived during the Three Weeks.

  6. "ben franklin of philadelphia was known as an anti semite . . ."

    He most certainly was not.

  7. Well aware of it, mon ami. Very clearly debunked, too.



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