1720 HARVARD COLLEGE (North American Colonies)
Confered on Judah Monis a degree of Masters of the Arts for his book on Hebrew grammar, making him the first Jew in America to receive a degree from any college. Two years later he converted to Christianity after being offered the position of Instructor of Hebrew at the college.
1720 - 1797 (19 Tishrei 5558 3rd day Chol Hamoed Succot) ELIJAH BEN SOLOMON ZALMAN (the Vilna Gaon)
The greatest talmudic mind of his time. He had mastered the Bible and started on the Talmud at the age of six. Though he preferred to live in seclusion, his reputation grew until he was known as the unofficial spiritual head of Eastern European Jewry. Feeling that the Hasidim leaned toward Sabbetianism and that they were dangerously anti-intellectual, he issued a ban and excommunicated its followers. The group which opposed the Hasidim became known as the Mitnagdim (Misnagdim) or the opponents. As a scholar, he pointed the way to a systematic study of the Torah in its entirety, not just those sections relevant to practical life. He wrote over 70 commentaries on all aspects of Jewish life.
1720 - 1790 LEAH HOROWITZ (Poland)
Born into a family of scholars she soon showed acumen for studying Talmud. She was a composer of T'hkines, Yiddish for the hebrew Techinot or supplications. These were prayers in Yiddish for women who did not understand Hebrew. Horowitz is known for her of Tkhinne Imohes (Supplication of the Matriarchs). In her Hebrew introduction she described the importance of women's prayer, and encourages women to participate in daily prayers. She also deafened women's participating in Halachic and Talmudic studies.
1720 - 1777 (10 Shvat 5537) SHALOM SHARABI (Ha-Reshash or Ha-Shemesh) (Yemen-Eretz Israel)
Jerusalem Rabbi and Kabbalist. Sharabi became head of the famous Bet El Kabbalist Yeshiva ( see 1737), succeeding Gedaliah Hayon (its founder) in 1751. His prayer book, Nehar Shalom, includes the mystical meditations on prayers and on mitzvoth (commandments). He also wrote Rehovot ha-Nahar, a commentary on Lurian Kabbalah and Emet ve-Shalom, on Hayyim Vital's Etz Hayim.
C. 1720 - C. 1805 YAHYA SALIH (Yemen)
Scholar, Rabbi and Halachic authority. Salih refused to take a salary and earned his living as a scribe (he was also a famous scribe). He is considerd the greatest Yeminate scholar, authoring numberous books on Jewish law. Among them are Meil Katan on the Shnai Luchot Habrit (ShLaH) of Horowitz (1565), Zevach Todah on the Shulchan Aruch and Peullat Tzadik, his most famous, which contains 762 responsa.
1720 - 1786 (19 Iyar 5546) ZERAH BEN MEIR EIDLITZ (Prague)
Rabbi, preacher, and mathematician. Eidlitz, a student of Jonathan Eybeshutz, was renowned for his sermons, some of which were preserved in his Or la-Yesharim. He wrote a textbook on math in both English and Hebrew called Melekhet Mahashev. Wealthy at first, he used his funds to support others. Eventually he lost all his resources but refused to accept any charity for himself.
1720 April 7, MADRID (Spain)
In one of the last major Auto da Fe's in Spain, twenty families were accused of meeting in a private synagogue. Five Conversos were burned alive. Over the next seven years, there were 868 cases throughout Spain. Of those cases, 75 people accused of Judaizing were taken to the Auto da Fe. (see 1752)
1721 May 18, MADRID (Spain)
The oldest known victim of the Inquisition was burned alive. She was Maria Barbara Carillo and was 96 years old.
1722 MOSES FRANKFURTER ( Amsterdam)
Published Nefesh Yehudah a Yiddish translation and commentary on Isaac Aboab's Menorat ha-Ma'or( see 1400). Frankfurter (1672-1762) a dayan, printer, and scholar in his own right was criticized for writing in Yiddish rather than only in Hebrew. He defended himself by using the Talmud and the Zohar as examples of spreading Jewish knowledge in the " language of the common man". Frankfurter also edited a new edition of the Mikrot Gedolot on the Pentateuch with several new commentaries including his own, Keheliat Moshe ( the Congregation of Moses). He also wrote a commentary on the Mikhilta ,Ze Yenachameinu ( This Will Be Our Consolation),and other works.rn
1723 - 1799 MARCUS ELIEZER BLOCH (Germany)
Physician and zoologist. He was the first modern fish naturalist (ichthyologist). He classified 1500 species in his 12 volume work Allegemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische. His aquarium later became part of the Berlin Zoological Museum.
1723 FIRST SYNAGOGUE IS BUILT ( Gibraltar )
Shaar Hashamayim (Gate of Heaven) was built by Isaac Netto a merchant and Rabbi, on land granted by the governor.
1724 - 1806 (11 Adar 5566) HAYIM JOSEPH DAVID AZULAI (the Chidah)
Halachist, kabbalist, emissary, and bibliographer. Azulai traveled as an emissary of the Jewish community in Eretz Israel, especially Hebron. He visited Italy, Germany, Holland, France and England. While on his travels, he visited numerous libraries, noting their contents. His is renowned for his halachic commentary on the Shulchan Aruch (Berkei Yosef) and Machzik Beracha. In addition, he kept notes on all his travels, including ideas that came to him as well as people he met. In a controversial decision, he advocated women studying the Mishnah - if they were self motivated (Tuv Ayin, no. 4) . Azulai also collected Jewish folk stories which he published in his Zichron Maasiyyot V'Nissim.
1724 JEWISH CENSUS BOHEMIA / Moravia (Czech lands)
30,000 Jews lived in Bohemia and 20,000 in Moravia. Prague had a Jewish population of between 11-13,000 people (almost 30% of the city) making it the largest Ashkenazi city in Europe. The largest Sephardic population was in Thessalonica which had approximately 18,000 Jews.
1724 January 18, BULL EX INJUNCTO NOBIS ( It enjoined us ")
Was published by Pope Innocent XIII. It Forbade Jews from selling new objects. This was similar to the bull published by Clement VIII in 1592, and was meant to put Jewish merchants at a disadvantage.
1725 - 1805 NAPHTALI HERZ WESSELY (Germany)
Poet, contributor to the HaMeassef and leader of the Haskalah (Enlightenment - Reformers) Movement.
1725 PETITION TO KING LOUIS XV ( France)
The former Jewish residents of Cayenne (French Guyana) petitioned the king to be allowed to return to their homes. King Louis (1710-1774) replied, " His majesty does not see it convenient…" It was only in 1994 after over 300 years that Jews were officially invited to resettle on the island.rn
1726 FAMILIANTS LAWS (Austrian Empire)
Are introduced by Charles VI of Habsburg (1685-1740) and remained in force until 1848. Although for the most part the Habsburgs protected the Jews in their realm they decided to limit their numbers. Accordingly, no Jew could marry unless he possessed one of the "family numbers" (Familiennummern). This led to many Jews marrying "under the table", which made the children illegitimate. Many families were forced to wander from town to town because they were not allowed to permanently settle anywhere. There were strict regulations as to how the numbers were passed on in each family. These laws led to both immigration and assimilation.
1726 - 1791 JACOB FRANK (Podolia, Ukraine)
Last of the Messianic imposters, he considered himself the second person in the Trinity (son). Though he was soon excommunicated, he was still able to live in regal splendor, since the Rabbinate was too weak to crush him. Frank then converted to Christianity while still professing to be the Messiah. His daughter, Eve, carried on the family tradition of proclaiming her father the Messiah until her death in 1811.
1727 NEW YORK (North American Colonies)
General Assembly took out the phrase "upon the true faith of a Christian" from the oath of allegiance for naturalization.
1727 - 1792 (4 Iyar 5552) JOSEPH TEOMIM (Galicia-Germany)
Rabbi, halachic authority, and teacher. Teomim composed the Pri Migadim (Sweet Fruits), one of the most comprehensive commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch. Originally intended as a super-commentary on the Shach and Taz (on the Shulchan Aruch), he actually solved problems raised by himself. His work, accepted by all Orthodox Jews (Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Hasidic), is based on a systematic analysis of previous commentators (Rishonim) upon whom the commentators based themselves. At the same time he emphasized that his decisions are not to be taken as definitive halacha. He was an authority on grammar as well as the Talmud, and understood rudimentary logic. He also authored a commentary on the Torah entitled Rav Peninim (Many Pearls). In addition he wrote Porat Yosef and Rosh Yosef novellae to various talmudic tractates.
1728 May 13, HAYYIM AND JOSHUA REIZES (Lvov, Lithuania)
The head of the Rabbinical court and head of the yeshiva were arrested when a Jesuit priest, Zoltowskiki, discovered that Jan Filipowicz, a convert, had reconverted to Judaism and accused them of complicity. Jan Filipowicz was soon tortured and killed. Joshua was condemned to death, but committed suicide by cutting his own throat. For three days his brother Hayyim refused to convert to Christianity. His tongue was then torn out, his body quartered and he was finally burned. Their property was then confiscated.
1728 December 17, NEW YORK (North American Colonies)
Land is purchased for the first synagogue to be built in the United States, Shearit Israel. The oldest synagogue still standing is Touro in Newport Rhode Island (see 1763).
1729 January 22, - 1781 GOTTHOLD LESSING (Germany)
Poet, philosopher and playwright. Although a strong believing Christian, he advocated religious tolerance. His plays portrayed the Jews as decent, admirable people (Die Juden, 1749). His last play was Nathan the Wise (see 1804).
1729 September 26, - 1786 MOSES MENDELSSOHN (Dessau, Germany)
Born into an orthodox Jewish family, he was influenced by Rabbi David Hershel Frankel, whose knowledge of philosophy and Talmud was vast. At fourteen, he left on foot for Berlin, together with Frankel. There he met Gotthold Lessing, who introduced him to German literature and helped him publish his philosophical Dialogues. In 1783, Mendelssohn and his pupil, Naphtali Wessely, translated the Pentateuch into German. He served as the subject of Lessing's play Nathan the Wise and was the founder of Ha Me'assef, a Hebrew magazine. Believing in Jewish-Christian friendship, he tried to awaken secular interests in his fellow Jews and make them less alien to the Christian world. This backfired, as many of his own grandchildren converted to Christianity.