Why do Jewish sources often refer to the Enlightenment movement negatively, if membership in the movement is a Biblical obligation as in Psalms (41:2) אַשְׁרֵי מַשְׂכִּיל "Praiseworthy is the Maskil"?

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We are commanded (Ex. 20:11) thusly:

כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ--לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ

Make your father and mother heavier in order to lengthen your life.

The more food we prepare for our parents, the more we are likely ourselves to eat (whether we have their leftovers or taste the food while we prepare it). The Torah wants us to eat; furthermore, Jewish mothers are always trying to get their children to eat. If we feed our parents, they will in turn feed us, and we will live a long time (or at least it will feel like a long time, the longer our parents stay at the meal).

Many ill health effects also can arise from malnutrition, and overemphasis on enlightenment can even lead to eating disorders.

  • 1
    Beautiful. I had no idea where you were going with this until the last line. – Y     e     z Feb 23 '15 at 18:36
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    I still have no idea where you went with this. :P – Scimonster Feb 23 '15 at 18:57
  • @Cnsersmoit, I didn't go very far; we just took a little stroll. – Seth J Feb 24 '15 at 14:32

It is based on the practice of King Shaul (Shmuel 1 18:14):

וירא שאול אשר הוא משכיל מאוד ויגר מפניו

And Shaul saw someone who was a major Maskil, and he yelled at him.

We follow this practice and shun Maskilim, taking every opportunity to stick it to them.


This is why Jewish sources since the times of the Enlightenment discourage the use of Dikduk, because it leads to such misinterpretations of the verse. The correct interpretation of the full verse is:


I am happy

משכיל אל דל ביום

The Maskil will go poor today

רעה ימלטהו יהוה

The shepherd will be saved by Hashem.

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