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Chapter Two From Haskalah to Positivism

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Chapter Summary

The judgment that the Haskalah was a dead end and that future Jewish generations would write in Russian, was implied by several of the more sensitive maskilim. Simon Dubnow certainly read several of these writers in the bound volumes of Hebrew periodicals that he borrowed while still living in Mstislavl, but in this period of his personal development, the most influential figure was Moshe Leib Lilienblum. The author characterized both religion and the Haskalah as "drunken fantasy", and it seemed to Dubnow at the time that he clearly pointed the way to a new generation of Jews totally indifferent to Judaism. The Russian intelligentsia had been called "one of the most thorough and far-reaching rejections of past tradition in the history of modern Europe". At that point a limited number of young Russian Jews were drawn to the incipient populist and revolutionary movements by the nihilist writers.

Keywords: Haskalah; Hebrew; Jewish religious law; Judaism; Mstislavl; Russian intelligentsia; Russian nihilists; Simon Dubnow



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