March 16, 2012 1:12 am at 1:12 am #602515DerechMember
Considering The Merchant of Venice and Shylock.March 16, 2012 2:35 am at 2:35 am #926939yentingyentaParticipant
better question: did Shakespeare ever meet a Jew? IIRC Jews were banned from England at the time he wrote his playsMarch 16, 2012 2:44 am at 2:44 am #926940
william shakespeare never saw a jew in his life.
the question has been posed and no one knows the answer. on the one hand, merchant of venice is so blatantly anti semitic that one is tempted to label the bard an anti semite; on the other hand, his depiction of a greedy and spiteful jew is so over the top that it can be said he was painting a caricature of that era and its unabashed racism. shakespeare may very well, it has been posited, have been very pro semitic and was using his stories to make others see the foolishness of their prejudices. there were no jews in england from 1290 to the de facto…legalization is the wrong word because it just isnt true…but jews were essentially no longer banned after cromwell decided to allow a small group of jews who had been living secretly in england to remain.March 16, 2012 2:59 am at 2:59 am #926941147Participant
Shakespeare is a Tzadik Gomur:- Proof:- He died on his birthday; He was born on April 23rd, and died 52 years later on April 23rd, on his 52nd birthday.
Hence the question of if his being an anti semite, is totally out of place, considering his common birthday & Johrzeit.March 16, 2012 3:09 am at 3:09 am #926942
Yes and no. The Merchant of Venice was antisemitic but nowhere near as bad as other things from the same time period. My own theory is that since he didn’t know any Jews he had no problem using the standard stereotype to sell a play.March 16, 2012 3:49 am at 3:49 am #926943oomisParticipant
I believe he was an anti-Semite. The characterization of Shylock was over the top davka because he had baseless hatred for Jews and was feeding into the prevailing bigotry. I don’t see any zechus in his works (though admittedly I LOVE his plays), and I think it is naive to paint him as a “tzaddik” who was only trying to show racists up for what they were. English non-Jews were not that noble when it came to Jews.March 16, 2012 4:06 am at 4:06 am #926944hershiMember
Why the need to apologize for his anti-semitism by excusing it with he never met a Jew. That is an even larger condemnation for his blatant anti-semitism. He never met a Jew and he yet hates them.March 16, 2012 4:12 am at 4:12 am #926945
Three reasons why he probably wasn’t:
1) Sort of like ItcheSrulik said, it’s very likely that he was just pandering to the cultural biases of his time to make his works popular without having a confirmed belief in them. Which brings us to:
2) Like soliek said, the views in a work do not always (and very often b’davka don’t) reflect the true views of the author. Very often, they use such negative representations in order to satirize them. Case in point: Steinbeck. Many of his works have been deemed misogynistic. But if you actually read them to understand (or peruse any decent criticism on Steinbeck), you will figure out that the author actually represents women negatively because he is writing in the male perspective and is trying to show how flawed it is. It is very likely that that was what Shakespeare was trying to do with the Jews here. Which brings us to:
3)The Merchant of Venice was actually largely based on another play named The Jew of Malta, an anti-Machiavellian satire of Christian sovereignty cunningly cloaked in anti-Semitic trappings. So it is very likely that Shakespeare was extrapolating on that intent. Bear in mind that satirists of such highly sensitive subjects had to be very careful to disguise their intent so as not to about their own lynching.
Bottom line – before you jump to to unfounded conclusions, go read some literary criticism.March 16, 2012 4:41 am at 4:41 am #926946
hershi: and you conveniently disregarded the rest of my postMarch 16, 2012 4:44 am at 4:44 am #926947longarekelMember
yes he was. like almost all other non-jews.March 16, 2012 5:11 am at 5:11 am #926948
which is entirely possible. however, the opposite is also possible, yet most people never even consider the possibility.March 16, 2012 5:35 am at 5:35 am #926949longarekelMember
we follow the rov(majority) not the miuta dmiuta. we have no reason to assume otherwise.March 16, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am #926950ToiParticipant
Even if he wasnt as bad as others in his time, it doesnt make him a tzaddik; there are bigger and smaller anti-semites. im not saying he was one at all, im just arguing the point. for the record, i really enjoy reading shakespeare.March 16, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am #926951avhabenParticipant
+1 longarekel. You are the only one who gave the correct response and put it as simply as it is.March 16, 2012 1:34 pm at 1:34 pm #926952
right. a goy is a ganav, a goy is a ligner. im not disagreeing that the most likely scenario is that he actually was an anti semite following what was socially accepted, but one shouldnt discredit the possibility that he wasnt.March 16, 2012 1:46 pm at 1:46 pm #926953
Toi and OneOfMany: I wasn’t arguing that he wasn’t an antisemite. I was arguing that he was a “normal” antisemite no better nor worse than most other people in his time. BTW, which plays do you like best? I liked Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Macbeth.March 16, 2012 3:18 pm at 3:18 pm #926954TheGoqParticipant
Longarekel just like most frum jews are anti-gentile.March 16, 2012 3:32 pm at 3:32 pm #926955BTGuyParticipant
There is enough information to add him to the elite list which includes Columbus, Castro, and Elvis, stating Shakespeare was Jewish.March 16, 2012 3:45 pm at 3:45 pm #926956zahavasdadParticipant
The Cromwell Rebellion occured after Shakespeare, So there were no jews in England at Shakespeares time (At least open jews)
Merchant of Venice was not as anti-semetic as say The Jew among thorns by Grimms Fairy Tales (Cinderella, Snow White)
Shylock was not really portrayed as a bad guy at the end , Shakespeare probably never met a jew in his life
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.
Read the Jew Among Thorns by Grimms Fairly TalesMarch 16, 2012 5:05 pm at 5:05 pm #926957
Read the Jew of Malta by Marlow. Similar plot to Merchant of Venice but much more antisemitic.March 16, 2012 5:15 pm at 5:15 pm #926958Sam2Participant
Elvis was Jewish. Columbus, Castro, and Shakespeare were not, much as people like to talk that they were. Gaddafi, on the other hand, is still a question.March 16, 2012 5:23 pm at 5:23 pm #926959DerechMember
How was Elvis a Jew? How is Gaddafi questionable? And how was Columbus certainly not a Jew?March 16, 2012 5:35 pm at 5:35 pm #926960BTGuyParticipant
Regarding Columbus. I read some amazing things from the Z’man about Columbus possibly being Jewish. He even penned letters with x’s in the upper right hand corner of the paper where a bais, samech, daled would be.
I wish I remembered more from the article.
Also, with regards to Castro; his mother had a maiden name that was known only among the marrano community. Also, there are some records of Fidel secretly giving money and appearing at a few Jewish events, counter to his public stance on religion.
If you care to comment, I would be interested in your thoughts/information.
And what are your thoughts on Achmaddogdinajad being from Jews who converted out?March 16, 2012 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #926961yehudayonaParticipant
147, according to Wikipedia (yes, I know), his birthdate is unknown but he was baptized on (Julian date) April 26, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616. But even your premise (which I recognize as tongue in cheek) is suspect. You gotta know the dates on the Hebrew calendar.March 16, 2012 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #926962
ItcheSrulik: Yeah, I know. That was me twisting your point to suit my own purposes. 🙂 Seriously, though, I don’t have a definite opinion as why he wrote what he wrote. I was just trying to show that you can’t have any sort of opinion without doing the research. Because there are a lot of favorable interpretations. I don’t know why people think they have a right to do this when it comes to literature.
I must say that I’m not a Shakespeare acolyte, but I do like Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. 🙂 Richard III is also pretty epic. Macbeth’s my favorite, partly because I think it’s so much better than the other four tragedies.March 16, 2012 7:23 pm at 7:23 pm #926963squeakParticipant
If you discuss Shakespeare, you are at worst debating academic anti-semitism. Considering the lack of context in his works, as well as the limited popularity his works enjoy today, I would think it is a topic best ignored. If you want to focus on blatant rabid anti-semitism found in literature that is pop culture of the day, the vampire legends were and are far more damaging.March 16, 2012 8:02 pm at 8:02 pm #926964
I like Macbeth because it’s the least depressing of the tragedies. I’ve never read Antony and Cleopatra.March 16, 2012 8:25 pm at 8:25 pm #926965
squeak raises a fair point…until “as well as the limited popularity his works enjoy today,”
WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?March 16, 2012 9:51 pm at 9:51 pm #926966Sam2Participant
BTGuy: I’ve heard all of those things about Columbus too. I asked several experts in the field and they said they are all false.
Gaddafi has an aunt who claims to share a maternal grandmother who also claims she’s Jewish.
I guess Castro could be from a Maranno family. That’s not how I heard he was Jewish but that could be. I don’t know the relevant positions of the Poskim about what to do about 20th-century Maranno families though.
I never heard that about the Hilarya so I never looked into it.March 16, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm #926967squeakParticipant
soliek… who really cares about Shakepeare other than academics? Where does he have influence? Most people will be able to quote a few famous phrases to prove that they are literate and that’s about all. Elitist snobs will go to Shakespeare productions to impress themselves on how cultured they are, but don’t exactly develop their world view through going. Other than that… no one cares at all.
I know that you are in school now, so you must be seeing a higher representation of literature than is true generally.
I’d be more interested to hear what you think of what I said about how vampire lore is steeped in anti-semitism.March 18, 2012 1:28 am at 1:28 am #926968writersoulParticipant
How can you be an anti-Semite without meeting a Jew? It’s like not liking butternut squash kugel or something because you’ve never tried it. Or being bad at tennis because you’ve never played it.
Then again, he may well have met Jews, comsidering that many of his plays are conjectured to have been written about his possible travels during his blank decade when he vanished. He apparently knew a lot of street plans and clothing styles of many cities because he visited them then. Perhaps he may have met Jews then.
Then there’s always the possibility that Shakespeare wasn’t written by Shakespeare, which would make it even more possible he was anti-Semitic.
Mishpacha had a really interesting article on the subject a year or two back.
It would be more plausible to say that Dickens was an anti-Semite than Shakespeare, and at least he eliminated the tens of references to Fagin being “the Jew” at some later point. He actually definitely met Jews.March 18, 2012 2:36 am at 2:36 am #926969
im not in school…March 18, 2012 3:00 am at 3:00 am #926970
I (sort of) agree with squeak…the masses just perceive him with a sort of removed reverence, with little interest or appreciation, while academics tend to view him with quite an exaggerated regard. But anyway. Whatever anti-Semitic references are in his works are at worst meaningless, and possibly even misconstrued.January 23, 2013 5:53 am at 5:53 am #926971
Bump in the night.January 23, 2013 2:10 pm at 2:10 pm #926972Torah613TorahParticipant
Very interesting, OneOfMany.
I enjoy reading Shakespeare. That’s my contribution to this thread.January 23, 2013 2:29 pm at 2:29 pm #926973
You do, do you? ehehehehehehJanuary 23, 2013 4:20 pm at 4:20 pm #926974
Short answer to OP – maybe. Yesh ladun, as they say in the yeshivah velt. The inyan, it seems, is tzarich iyun.February 5, 2013 1:51 am at 1:51 am #926975
So apparently they’ve discovered the remains of Richard III. (Random, I know – but I had to post it somewhere. :P)February 5, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am #926976
And guess what? He had no hunchback nor “with’rd arm”. So apparently Shakespeare was totally not any kind of Tudor/Stuart PR guy… :-pFebruary 5, 2013 2:24 pm at 2:24 pm #926977
I thought they said he showed signs of scoliosis…also, maybe the arm was just tissue damage? 😛February 5, 2013 2:30 pm at 2:30 pm #926978oomisParticipant
1) Sort of like ItcheSrulik said, it’s very likely that he was just pandering to the cultural biases of his time to make his works popular without having a confirmed belief in them. Which brings us to:”
He had no need to write anything at ALL about Jews. His plays were already successful. I guess we could debate this ad nauseum.
Some people feel Marlowe WAS Shakespeare. Their styles were similar. Personally, I love S’s works. The stories have withstood the test of time and have often been updated to make modern movies and shows out of their plots. “West Side Story” was a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet.”February 5, 2013 3:09 pm at 3:09 pm #926979
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine and usually just means that one shoulder is slightly higher than the other. Hunchbacks are not involved.February 5, 2013 3:37 pm at 3:37 pm #926980
True, but in Shakespeare’s time, defective posture was probably considered grievous enough to merit some hyperbole. ^_^February 5, 2013 4:33 pm at 4:33 pm #926981
OOM – Sure. And Quasimodo probably just had a wonky nose but it got lost in translation.February 5, 2013 4:57 pm at 4:57 pm #926982HealthParticipant
Sam2 -“BTGuy: I’ve heard all of those things about Columbus too. I asked several experts in the field and they said they are all false.”
I don’t know who your experts are, but many experts disagree. There are even more experts that I’m posting here. There is quite a lot of scholarly debate on Columbus’ origin.
From the Huffington’s Post:
“Over five centuries after the famed explorer’s death, historians are taking a fresh look at what motivated Christopher Columbus to make his voyage across the Atlantic — and how his faith may have played into those motivations.
Some scholars, after analyzing Columbus’ will and other documents, have devised a new theory about the explorer. They believe he was a Marrano, or a Jew who pretended to be a Catholic to avoid religious persecution. These historians also theorize that Columbus’ main goal in life was to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim control, and that he decided to take his historic quest to North America in order to find a new homeland for Jews who had been forced out of Spain.
During the time of Columbus’ voyage, Marranos were a targeted group. Tens of thousands of them were tortured during the Spanish Inquisition, so keeping one’s true religious identity secret was a crucial priority for many.
As CNN reports, Columbus’ will contained five provisions that some scholars believe to be evidence of the explorer’s true faith:
Two of his wishes — tithe one-tenth of his income to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls — are part of Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter.
On those documents, Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. He ordered his heirs to use the signature in perpetuity.
According to British historian Cecil Roth’s “The History of the Marranos,” the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative. Thus, Columbus’s subterfuge allowed his sons to say Kaddish for their crypto-Jewish father when he died. Finally, Columbus left money to support the crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate the Holy Land.
Scholars also point to the real financiers of the voyage as evidence of the trip’s purpose. While most schoolchildren grow up learning that the expedition was financed by Queen Isabella, historians say it was mostly paid for by two prominent Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism, Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez.
While these claims may be difficult to verify, the new portrait of Columbus painted by these scholars adds a complicated layer to the already convoluted sentiment toward the famed explorer. While he is lauded in the United States with a federal holiday and a receives a great deal of credit for discovering North America, his legacy has been tainted by charges of genocide and exploitation. But if Columbus’ true intent was not imperialism, but freedom from religious trial, public perception of the man may shift yet again.”February 5, 2013 5:04 pm at 5:04 pm #926983HealthParticipant
OOmis -“I believe he was an anti-Semite.”
I agree. And why would any Jew defend this guy and say he wasn’t?
Almost every Goy is antisemitic -why should he be any different?
The only thing this guy did and others couldn’t is to make hating the Jew a public opinion that e/o can laugh at.February 5, 2013 6:09 pm at 6:09 pm #926984
just my hapence: …can’t tell whether or not that was sarcastic…February 5, 2013 7:59 pm at 7:59 pm #926985
OOM – It’s up to you really. It kind of was and kind of wasn’t. If you want it to be then it is and if not then not…February 5, 2013 9:00 pm at 9:00 pm #926986Yserbius123Participant
I believe that he was an anti-semite because he had a false image of Jews that was very common at the time.
In the same vein, Mark Twain would be considered a racist (try reading “Huckleberry Finn” and you’ll see what I mean) in our time, but in his time he was very liberal and progressive for suggesting that blacks and whites can be friends and that slavery is wrong.February 5, 2013 9:27 pm at 9:27 pm #926987akupermaParticipant
It is debateable if Shakespeare was an anti-semite. His defense of Jews (Shylock’s famous “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?….” speech) is regarded by some as a deliberate attack on anti-Semitism. It should be noted that at the the typical mode of accomodating religious minorities in England usually involved somewhat gruesome methods of capital punishment. It is unlikely Shakespeare ever met a Jew, and few in his audience had (Jews were banned from England in the period, though a few were there pretending to be from Spain something we know since when arrested for being Catholics they go off by convincing the court they were really Jews and really weren’t loyal to the king of Spain), though there were large Jewish communities in Europe. It’s hard to make a clear conclusion as to his biases – indeed some people question whether he even existed at all.
Mark Twain is well known for having denounced discrimination against Blacks (and Jews), and was a prominent contributor to African American causes.
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