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Circles Of Influence: Polish Jewish Thought In The Age Of The Late Renaissance

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Chapter Summary

Polish Jewry succeeded in developing its own cultural identity and outlook in a world that the Renaissance had created. The words ?Renaissance? and ?humanism? are flawed vessels, and cannot bear the weight of analysis of the phenomena of 16th-century North-European Jewish culture, which have a character all their own. The checkered fortune of the Prague Jewish community in this period reflects the wave of counter-Reformation, for the Protestants were also perceived as Judaizers. Ephraim Luntshitz, who was a disciple of the anti-philosophical Solomon Luria, was innocent of philosophical knowledge in his early writings, but this chapter shows how from the 1580s onward he alludes to his successive encounters with Ashkenazi, Isserles, Jaffe, and Horowitz. He alluded in the preface of his second book Gleanings of Ephraim to the debate between Eliezer and Maharal. The philosophical fashion of Ashkenazic Jewry from 1550 to 1620 proved a harbinger of modern Jewish thought.

Keywords: Abraham Horowitz; Ashkenazic Jewry; Christian humanist; counter-reformation; Ephraim Luntshitz; Maharal; Mordecai Jaffe; Moses Isserles; Polish-Jewish renaissance; Prague Jewish community



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