Rosenthal, Naphtali

views updated


ROSENTHAL, NAPHTALI (1727–1798), Hungarian talmudist, founder of the Jewish community of Mor. While studying in Berlin at the yeshivah of David Fraenkel, he made the acquaintance of Moses *Mendelssohn; they became friends and maintained the friendship by correspondence after Rosenthal had left Berlin. After staying in Prague, he later settled in Mor, where his house became a center of learning, hospitality and traditional Judaism. An atmosphere of religious study permeated his household: even his wife was acquainted with biblical and talmudic passages in the original. His son-in-law, F. Gomperz, assisted him in the management of the yeshivah of Mor. Rosenthal's public activities were not confined to his own community: he was also the spokesman of the whole of Hungarian Jewry at the court of Vienna under Joseph *ii and the two subsequent monarchs.

His son elijah (1758–1833) was a businessman and bibliophile. Between the ages of 13 and 18 he studied at the yeshivah of Pressburg (Bratislava) and became an accomplished talmudic scholar. From 1785 he lived in Komarom (Komarno), Hungary, where he kept an inn. His fellow-citizens wanted to give him the freedom of the town in recognition of his charitable acts and public service, but the authorities would not confirm this. Moving to Pest, he opened a shop for Hebrew books and stationery in 1804. He himself was a book collector and his library was praised by Leopold *Zunz. Following the French Revolution (1789), he became active in the struggle for Jewish civil rights, remembering his own humiliating experience in Komarom. He wrote various memoranda and petitions in pursuit of this aim.


P. Buechler, A móri Chevra Kadisa története (1791–1891) (1891), 5, 8; M. Kayserling, Die juedischen Frauen (1879), 180; I. Reich, Beth-El, Ehrentempel verdienter ungarischer Israeliten, 2 (1868), 334–54; J.J.(L.) Greenwald (Grunwald), Toledot Mishpaḥat Rosenthal (1921).

[Jeno Zsoldos]