Shatzkes, Moses Aaron

views updated


SHATZKES, MOSES AARON (1825–1899), Hebrew writer. Born in Karlin, Belorussia, he studied in Lithuanian yeshivot, and then joined the *Haskalah movement. He gained a literary reputation through his book Ha-Mafte'aḥ ("The Key," 1869). The book analyzes talmudic legends, starting from the premise that they are merely ethical allegories, not to be taken literally. This theory, acceptable to the moderates of the Haskalah movement, was anathema to Orthodox Jews, who tried to prevent publication of the book, and in some towns even burned copies. Shatzkes wrote articles in the same vein (Ha-Asif, 2 (1885), 241–61; Ha-Sifrut, 3 (1889/90), 103–18; and others). In Yiddish he published anonymously Der Yudisher for Pesakh ("Preparations for Passover," 1881) in which he attacked superstitions associated with the Passover festival. Toward the end of his life, he moved to Kiev, where he became a leading figure in the Haskalah circle, noted for his pungently witty conversation.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 494–500; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1962), 975–6.

[Yehuda Slutsky]