Sound an Alarm! Joseph Perl's Revealer of Secrets and Testing the Righteous (Hardcover)

Sound an Alarm! Joseph Perl's Revealer of Secrets and Testing the Righteous By Dov Taylor (Translator), Dov Taylor (Introduction by), Dov Taylor (Notes by) Cover Image
By Dov Taylor (Translator), Dov Taylor (Introduction by), Dov Taylor (Notes by)


Revealer of Secrets is a portrayal-both realistic and satirical-of Eastern European Jewish life in the tumultuous early years of the nineteenth century. It reflects the struggle that raged between the Haskalah and Hasidism as the Jewish people stood on the threshold of modernity. In the battle between reason and faith, the Haskalah admired science and rationalism and recommended broad education to its adherents, while Hasidism revered mystical intuition in its charismatic rebbe-saints and encouraged religious fervor in its followers. Published in Vienna in 1819, Joseph Perl's Revealer of Secrets was the most devastating and best-known parody produced by the Haskalah movement. Its milieu is that of Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian Jewry at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Drawing on forms from the eighteenth-century European epistolary novel, the khsidic holy book, khsidic and rabbinic letters, and the Austrian comic tradition, and drawing inspiration from the masterpiece of biblical parody-The Book of Esther-Perl unleashed a broadside that, in the words of one modern critic, "was to become a classic of Hebrew literature, a masterpiece of invective and the first Hebrew novel." Perl's related volume, Bohen Tsaddiq Testing the Righteous], was published in 1838. TR is a sequel to RS, consisting of a discussion of readers' reactions to the earlier work, including criticism of the author's use of khsidic sources. Each of the criticisms is, of course, convincingly rebutted, as the entire work is crafted to lend authenticity to RS. Ovadya reappears as the narrator in TR. Its plot revolves around the search for a completely honest man, in the course of which, representatives of the various elements of Jewish society are reviewed and their defects exposed. The parade of failures includes, not only khsidim, but also rabbis, businessmen, craftsmen, and even maskilim. As the search concludes, the honest man turns out to be neither a khsidic tzadek nor even a maskil, but a pious farmer in a Jewish agricultural utopia in the Crimean Peninsula. Perl's vision of utopia thus rejects not only Hasidism but also the idea of a return to Palestine, envisioning instead a life of productive labor in the Diaspora.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780878207022
ISBN-10: 0878207023
Publisher: Hebrew Union College Press
Publication Date: December 31st, 2022
Language: English