Dobruschka, Moses

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DOBRUSCHKA, MOSES (1753–1794), Frankist and French revolutionary. Dobruschka was born in Bruenn into a family that belonged to the small circle of rich tax-farmers who largely controlled the tobacco administration during the regime of Maria Theresa. His mother, Schoendel, was the first cousin of Jacob *Frank, and her house served as a meeting place for the secret adherents of the sect. It was apparently this connection which caused Frank to settle in Bruenn (1773–86) after his release from prison in Czestochowa. Dobruschka received a talmudic education and was also initiated into the kabbalistic teachings of Shabbateanism. He began to study German literature and foreign languages as an adolescent. In 1773 he married the adopted daughter of Ḥayyim (Joachim) Popper, one of the richest Jews of Prague, and about the same time began writing in Hebrew and German in the spirit of the early *Haskalah, producing, among other books, Sefer ha-Sha'ashu'a (1775), a commentary on the Beḥinat Olam of Abraham *Bedersi. Dobruschka later engaged in business and amassed a considerable fortune as one of the chief army suppliers in the preparation of the war against the Turks. In 1778 he was ennobled by Emperor Joseph ii, with whom he enjoyed some favor and to whom he dedicated enthusiastic poetic eulogies, taking the title of Franz Thomas Edler von Schoenfeld. He became active in the mystic circles of freemasonry, into which he introduced elements of Kabbalah, particularly of a Shabbatean nature, but retired from active participation in 1784. In the late 1780s he lived as a wealthy man with wide connections in the upper circles of Vienna and established contact with the famous writers of Germany, continuing to enjoy the favor of Leopold ii, the successor of Joseph ii. On the death of Jacob Frank in 1791, Dobruschka's name was mentioned as his possible successor as head of the Frankist sect.

Dobruschka (or Schoenfeld) became an ardent admirer of the ideals of the French Revolution, and his career is henceforth closely connected with it. Arriving in Strasbourg in March 1792, he changed his name to Gottlob Junius Frey, joined the Jacobin club, and immediately involved himself in French politics. He moved to Paris in June, joined the Jacobin club there, took part in the storming of the Tuileries, and wrote a philosophical and constitutional book Philosophie sociale, dediée au peuple français (1793), which was a spirited defense of Jacobinism and included a strong attack on Moses and Mosaic legislation. In January 1793 he made the acquaintance of François Chabot, a Jacobin demagogue who married his sister Leopoldine in October of that year. Shortly after he was denounced by Austrian and German émigrés as an Austrian agent and this, combined with a financial fraud in which he was involved, brought about his arrest, together with that of Chabot. He was charged with corruption and espionage, found guilty, and executed on April 5, 1794. A few months after his death some of his Austrian friends spread a rumor that he had been engaged on a secret mission to liberate the former queen, Marie-Antoinette, from prison.


G. Scholem, in: Zion, 35 (1971), v–vii, 127–81.

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Dobruschka, Moses

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