Rabbi Yaakov Israel Emden, [Ya'avetz]

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Rabbi Yaakov Israel Emden (Ashkenazi son #7?), [Ya'avetz]

Hebrew: יעקב ישראל עמדן, יעב"ץ
Also Known As: "יעקב עמדן", "Ya'avetz", "יעב"ץ"
Birthplace: Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany
Death: Died in Altona (Hamburg), Germany
Place of Burial: Altona (Hamburg), Germany
Immediate Family:

Son of Chacham Tzvi Hirsh Ashkenazi and Sarah Rivka Ashkenazi (Mirels) [Chacham Zvi 2nd wife]
Husband of Rachel Emden; Sarah Emden/Ashkenazi (Niar) - and Batya Tzivia Emden
Father of ? Asch; R' Meir Emden A.B.D. Constantin; Israel Meshullam Solomon; Chane Heschel Lewenstam, [of Amsterdam]; Esther Mendel and 16 others
Brother of Miriam Lowenstam; R' Nathan Ashkenazi of Brody; Rachel Eisenstadt, (d. #3); R' Ephraim Ashkenazi of Lvov; Nechama Sarah Landau and 10 others
Half brother of Daughter of Chacham Zvi Ashkenazi, (d. #1)

Occupation: Scholar, Talmudist, Printer, Chief Rabbi & ABD, Rabbi, ספרו: מגלת ספר http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37017&st=&pgnum=1&hilite=
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rabbi Yaakov Israel Emden, [Ya'avetz]

Jacob Emden - יעב"ץ, יעקב עמדן also known as Ya'avetz (June 4, 1697, Altona – April 19, 1776, Altona), was a leading German rabbi and talmudist who championed Orthodox Judaism in the face of the growing influence of the Sabbatean movement. He was acclaimed in all circles for his extensive knowledge, thus Moses Mendelssohn, founder of the Jewish Enlightenment movement, wrote to him as "your disciple, who thirsts for your words." Although Emden did not approve of the Hasidic movement which evolved during his lifetime, his books are highly regarded amongst the Hasidim. Thirty-one works were published during his lifetime, ten posthumously while others remain in manuscript.

Emden was the son of the Chacham Tzvi, and a descendant of Elijah Ba'al Shem of Chelm. He lived most his life in Altona (now a part of Hamburg, Germany), where he held no official rabbinic position and earned a living by printing books. His son was Meshullam Solomon, rabbi of the Hamboro' Synagogue in London who claimed authority as Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1765 to 1780.


EMDEN, JACOB ISRAEL BEN TZVI ASHKENAZI. יעב"ץ By : Solomon Schechter M. Seligsohn

German Talmudist and anti-Shabbethaian; born at Altona June 4, 1697; died there April 19, 1776. He was the author of a set of responsa, known as She'eilat Ya'avetz, as well as a commentary on Ketubot, Beit Yaakov.

Until seventeen Emden studied Talmud under his father, known as "ChaCham Tzvi," first at Altona, then (1710-14) at Amsterdam. In 1715 he married the daughter of Mordecai ben Naphtali Kohen, rabbi of Ungarish-Brod, Moravia, and continued his studies in his father-in-law's yeshibah.

Emden became well versed in all branches of Talmudic literature; later he studied philosophy, Cabala, and grammar, and made an effort to acquire the Latin and Dutch languages, in which, however, he was seriously hindered by his belief that a Jew should occupy himself with secular sciences only during the hour of twilight.

He was also opposed to philosophy, and maintained that the "Moreh" could not have been written by Maimonides ("Miṭpaḥat Sefarim").

He spent three years at Ungarish-Brod, where he held the office of private lecturer in Talmud. Then be became a dealer in jewelry and other articles, which occupation compelled him to travel. He generally declined to accept the office of rabbi, though in 1728 he was induced to accept the rabbinate of Emden, from which place he took his name.

In 1733 he returned to Altona, where he obtained the permission of the Jewish community to possess a private synagogue. Emden was at first on friendly terms with Moses Ḥagis, the head of the Portuguese community at Altona, who was afterward turned against Emden by some calumny.

His relations with Ezekiel Katzenellenbogen, the chief rabbi of the German community, were strained from the very beginning. Emden seems to have considered every successor of his father as an intruder. A few years later Emden obtained from the King of Denmark the privilege of establishing at Altona a printing-press. He was soon attacked for his publication of the "Siddur 'Ammude Shamayim," being accused of having dealt arbitrarily with the text. His opponents did not cease denouncing him even after he had obtained for his work the approbation of the chief rabbi of the German communities.

Emden-Eybeschütz Controversy.

Emden is especially known for his controversial activities, his attacks being generally directed against the adherents, or those he supposed to be adherents, of Shabbethai Ẓebi. Of these controversies the most celebrated was that with Jonathan Eybeschütz, who in Emden's eyes was a convicted Shabbethaian. The controversy lasted several years, continuing even after Eybeschütz's death. Emden's assertion of the heresy of his antagonist was chiefly based on the interpretation of some amulets prepared by Eybeschütz, in which Emden professed to see Shabbethaian allusions (see EybeschÜtz, Jonathan). Hostilities began before Eybeschütz left Prague; when Eybeschütz was named chief rabbi of the three communities of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck (1751), the controversy reached the stage of intense and bitter antagonism. Emden maintained that he was at first prevented by threats from publishing anything against Eybeschütz. He solemnly declared in his synagogue the writer of the amulets to be a Shabbethaian heretic and deserving of excommunication.

The majority of the community favoring Eybeschütz, the council condemned Emden as a calumniator. People were ordered, under pain of excommunication, not to attend Emden's synagogue, and he himself was forbidden to issue anything from his press. As Emden still continued his philippics against Eybeschütz, he was ordered by the council of the three communities to leave Altona. This he refused to do, relying on the strength of the king's charter, and he was, as he maintained, relentlessly persecuted. His life seeming to be in actual danger, he left the town and took refuge in Amsterdam (May, 1751), where he had many friends and where he joined the household of his brother-in-law, Aryeh Löb b. Saul, rabbi of the Ashkenazic community. Emden's cause was subsequently taken up by the court of King Frederick of Denmark, and on June 3, 1752, a judgment was given in favor of Emden, severely censuring the council of the three communities and condemning them to a fine of one hundred thalers. Emden then returned to Altona and took possession of his synagogue and printing-establishment, though he was forbidden to continue his agitation against Eybeschütz. The latter's partizans, however, did not desist from their warfare against Emden. They accused him before the authorities of continuing to publish denunciations against his opponent. One Friday evening (July 8, 1755) his house was broken into and his papers seized and turned over to the "Ober-Präsident," Von Kwalen. Six months later Von Kwalen appointed a commission of three scholars, who, after a close examination, found nothing which could inculpate Emden.

Emden was undoubtedly very quick-tempered and of a jealous disposition. The truth or falsity of his denunciations against Eybeschütz can not be proved, but the fact remains that he quarreled with almost all his contemporaries. He considered that every man who was not for him was against him, and attacked him accordingly. Still, he seems to have enjoyed a certain authority, even among the Polish rabbis, the majority of whom sided with Eybeschütz, and had once even excommunicated Emden upon the initiative of Ḥayyim of Lublin (1751). Thus in 1756 the members of the Synod of Constantinov applied to Emden to aid in repressing the Shabbethaian movement. As the Shabbethaians referred much to the Zohar, Emden thought it wise to examine that book, and after a careful study he concluded that a great part of the Zohar was the production of an impostor (see "Miṭpaḥat Sefarim").

Emden's works show him to have been possessed of critical powers rarely found among his contemporaries, who generally took things for granted. He was strictly Orthodox, never deviating the least from tradition, even when the difference in time and circumstance might have fairly been regarded as warranting a deviation from the old custom. In 1772 the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin having issued a decree forbidding burial on the day of death, the Jews in his territories approached Emden with the request that he demonstrate from the Talmud that a longer exposure of a corpse would be against the Law. Emden referred them to Mendelssohn, who had great influence with Christian authorities; but as Mendelssohn agreed with the ducal order, Emden wrote to him and urged the desirability of opposing the duke if only to remove the suspicion of irreligiousness he (Mendelssohn) had aroused by his associations.

Emden was a very prolific writer; his works fall into two classes, polemical and rabbinical. Among the former are:

Torat ha-Ḳena'ot, a biography of Shabbethai Ẓebi, and criticisms of Nehemiah Ḥayyon, Jonathan Eybeschütz, and others. Amsterdam, 1752.


See also:




About יעקב ישראל עמדן, יעב"ץ (עברית)

רבי יעקב ישראל עמדן (1698 - 1776), מגדולי הרבנים במאה ה-18. נודע בקיצור בכינוי - יעב"ץ, כלומר יעקב בן צבי.

רבי יעקב נולד באלטונה שבגרמניה בט"ו בסיון ה'תנ"ח לאביו רבי צבי הירש אשכנזי, הידוע בכינויו "חכם צבי". נישא בשנת ה'תע"ו לנכדתו של רבי נפתלי כ"ץ והתגורר בברסלאו. בשנת ה'תפ"ח הוזמן לשבת על כס הרבנות בעיר אמדן, שממנה קיבל את שם משפחתו "עמדן", או "עמדין". עקב תקיפות אופיו ומתוך שאיפתו להיות בלתי תלוי בדעת האחרים, הוא התפטר כעבור ארבע שנים ממשרת הרבנות, והשתקע בעיר מולדתו אלטונה, פתח בית דפוס עברי, שלח ידו במסחר, וסירב לכהן ברבנות עד סוף ימיו. בספרו הוא מספר (כנראה בהלצה) שנהג לברך כל יום "ברוך שלא עשני אב"ד". עסקי פרנסתו לא מנעוהו מלעסוק בתורה, ואת מיטב עתותיו הקדיש למחקריו ולחיבוריו, שהוציאו לו מוניטין כאחד מגדולי החכמים בדורו.

ההתנגדות לשבתאות ומאבקו ברבי יהונתן אייבשיץ

רבי יעקב עמדן היה ממובילי מסע ההתנגדות לשבתאות, ולחם בתקיפות בכל מה שראה בו סטייה שבתאית. סכסוך קשה על רקע זה פרץ בינו ובין רבי יהונתן אייבשיץ, שעסק בקבלה והיה ידוע כעושה נפלאות וככותב קמעות. כשבא לידו אחד הקמעות של רבי יהונתן אייבשיץ, הוא פיענח את הכתוב בו וטען שיש בו רמזים לאמונה בשבתי צבי. עמדן יצא בהאשמות גלויות נגד רבי יהונתן אייבשיץ, וגרם לפולמוס חריף וממושך בין תומכיו לבין תומכי הרב אייבשיץ. במהלך המאבק נאלץ רבי יעקב לעזוב את אלטונה לאמסטרדם, ורק לאחר התערבותו של המלך פרידריך החמישי חזר לאלטונה. בסופו של פולמוס זה, שעורר ויכוחים קשים בין רבני גרמניה, פולין, צרפת, הולנד וארצות אירופה אחרות, והדיו נשמעים גם היום, מקובל בקרב היהדות האורתודוקסית כי רבי יהונתן אייבשיץ לא היה שבתאי. לעומת זאת, במחקר מקובלות דעות שונות, כי רבי יעקב צדק בחשדותיו.

בנוסף, הצטרף למאבקו של ידידו, רבי משה חגיז, בפולמוסו עם הרמח"ל.


מלבד חוברותיו הרבות בעניין הפולמוס עם אייבשיץ, חיבר רבי יעקב עמדן למעלה מארבעים ספרים בכל מקצועות התורה.

הנודעים שבהם:

   * לחם שמים - פירוש על המשנה.
   * מטפחת ספרים - מחקרים על ספר הזוהר.
   * ציצים ופרחים - בענייני קבלה.
   * שאילת יעב"ץ - שאלות ותשובות בהלכה.
   * מור וקציעה, חלק א' וחלק ב' - פירושים וחידושים על שולחן ערוך אורח חיים.

חיבר גם הגהות לאחדות ממסכתות התלמוד. הדפיס גם סידור לתפילות כל ימות השנה בצירוף כל הדינים והמנהגים הקשורים בהן.

חשיבות היסטורית נודעת לספרו של רבי יעקב עמדן, בשם "מגילת ספר", אשר בו הרצה את תולדות חייו ותיאר את הפולמוס הגדול שהרעיש את עולם היהדות בזמנו. בחיבור אוטוביוגרפי יוצא דופן זה מתאר עמדן גם עניינים אינטימיים, מתשוקות נעורים ועד בעיות כוח גברא. הוא רומז שאת אשתו השנייה לא אהב כראשונה, שממותה לא התאושש.

בספר זה הוא מתאר גם את התעסקותו בלימודי מדעים ותחומי עניין נוספים כמדע המדינה, לימוד שפות והיסטוריה, ויש חוקרים המחשיבים אותו בשל כך כאחד ממבשרי ההשכלה בקרב יהדות גרמניה. יחסו ללימודי החול הללו היה מסויג. הוא התיר לעסוק בהם על מנת להשתוות לרמת ידיעותיהם של המלומדים הלא יהודים, אך עם זאת יצא בחריפות כנגד לימודי הפילוסופיה שהוא ראה ביחסם הביקורתי לעיקרי הדת איום על האמונה המסורתית.

בכתביו באה לידי ביטוי מגמה נוספת האופיינית לתקופתה של תנועת ההשכלה, והיא הקריאה לסובלנות בין בני הדתות השונות: הנצרות, היהדות והאסלאם, והדגשת המקור המשותף שלהן.

רבי יעקב נפטר באלטונה בל' בניסן ה'תקל"ו.

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Rabbi Yaakov Israel Emden, [Ya'avetz]'s Timeline

June 4, 1697
Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany
- 1710
Age 2
Altona (Hamburg), Germany
- 1714
Age 12
Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 1728
Age 17
Ungarish-Brod, Moravia, Czech Republic
Age 19
- 1721
Age 20
Uherský Brod, Moravia, Czechoslovakia
- 1728
Age 23
Moravia, Czechoslovakia
Age 25
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
- 1733
Age 30
Emden, Germany