The Origins of Jewish Political Economy, 1648–1848

Derek J. Penslar

in Shylock's Children

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225909
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925847 | DOI:
The Origins of Jewish Political Economy, 1648–1848

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses premodern Jewish thinking, religion, and economics, which are inextricably linked. During the heyday of rabbinic Judaism, the economic life of the Jewish community was no less subject to halakhic authority than any other aspect of Jewish life. From the mid-seventeenth century, economic life in western Europe began to remove itself from the sphere of Jewish religious authority. This separation of the religious and economic spheres was an important harbinger of Jewish modernity, because it marked the diminution of communal authority and a secularization of Jewish consciousness. The period from the radical German Haskalah of the late 1700s to the Revolution of 1848 witnessed the forging among certain influential Jewish intellectuals of an identity that fused the religious and economic spheres. This fusion no longer took place, as in previous centuries, within the framework of the autonomous community, which regulated all aspects of its member's lives.

Keywords: rabbinic Judaism; Jewish community; halakhic authority; Europe; German Haskalah

Chapter.  16558 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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