I thought this might help in understanding the cultural background of
Spinoza, which had to influence ETHICS. I found this because I really
wanted to understand the difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardic with
respect to Judaism. It's strange to me because now I'm seeing that
Sephardic Judaism really reigns supreme since RaMBaM/Maimonides (12th
century) was also a Sephardic Jew and, in effect, Spinoza's ETHICS reflects
a break with the reigning Sephardic Jew, RaMBaM. Also, Rabbi Hasdai
Crescas's OR ADONAI (14th-15th century), which influenced Spinoza and is
not published in Israel, was the product of a Sephardic Jew.
RaMBaM still reigns supreme globally. Because of Antisemitism, Cordoba
Spanish RaMBaM escaped to Fez, Morocco and then moved around North Africa
depending on his scholarship.
Probably, Spinoza understood all this about himself. But did he understand
about Ashkenzi (German/Northern France Jewry). So much selective history
which determines who we are and how we think (which I think ETHICS deals
with beautifully). Too bad Spinoza was excommunicated. He would have lived
longer. Maybe all Jewry will come to this conclusion some day, as did
Ben-Gurion, one of Times 100 historical giants, and also Rabin who was
murdered by a fundamentalist Jewish legal student. Ironic isn't it all?
P.S. I still haven't researched anything about the unfinished Hebrew
Grammar Spinoza was engaged in. Does anyone know? Would love to see that
published too, if it exists.
======================= Encyc Jud
> A century later the formation of another branch of Sephardi Jewry beganthe Marrano Diaspora. Many Crypto-Jews had moved to Portugal, where the danger of detection was less. From there they slipped away in increasing numbers to lands where they could cast off their Christian mask and reassume Judaism. The freedom which Holland achieved from Spain at about this time made Amsterdam the great center of the Marrano Diaspora. Portuguese Jews moved there in great numbers, especially during the 17th century, often totally ignorant of Jewish practice and the Hebrew language, but anxious to learn. A magnificent synagogue was built, and educational institutions were founded whose students are thus described in 1680 by the much traveled Shabbetai Bass:
> In my eyes they were as giants on account of their expertise in the Bible text and Hebrew grammar. Moreover they can compose songs and poems, and speak Hebrew fluently... the teachers are paid from community funds according to their merits and do not need to flatter anyone...
[Alan D. Corre]
Be-ahavah oo-ve-shalom oo-ve-emet, Ethel Jean Saltz
Mac(hiavelli)-Niet(zsche)-Spin(oza)-Gal(ileo), 392 A.G. (after Galileo)