The Significance Of The Enlightenment And Modern Judaism

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Qns 2. Explain and critically evaluate the significance of the Enlightenment to the development of modern Judaism.

The Enlightenment and Modern Judaism

Sapere aude! The Rise of the Enlightened man.

The Enlightenment also known as the Haskalah movement began in the 18th century. In his 1784 essay entitled: “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, Immanuel Kant (1959) described the Enlightenment as ‘‘man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred in this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own
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According to Robert Darnton, the men of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment were ‘‘the secular apostles of civilization, in opposition to the champions of tradition religious orthodoxy.’’ They were not afraid to challenge authority and launched a Kulturkampf that criticises institutions, prejudices, and superstitions. Amongst other things the Kulturkampf called for freedom and religious tolerance and even did their utmost to alter the Jewish educational system.

Before the start of Enlightenment period, Jews were restricted to a strict standard of living that was set by Judaism traditional commandments. Jews had to follow a demanding religious regime. For instance, they were only allowed to wear traditional Jewish garments, had a strict dietary restriction, women was not allowed to hold any positions of power and boys were only allowed to focus on Jewish education which is studying the Talmud.

These strict religious regime cause boys to receive only a minimum Jewish education with the girls having received none at all. According to Michael Meyers, concerns on the lack of a systematic religious instruction were brought forth as early as 1785. He added that one concerned Jew asked, "Why have we Jews been unable to match the other nations in the education of our children, to impress their hearts with the fundamentals of faith and imbue them with love and awe of God, so that they might know whom they bless as well as the foundations and principles of worshiping
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