The First Two Jews Who Attended a German Medical School—in Exchange for Teaching Hebrew

In an upcoming episode of the Mosaic podcast, Yehudah Halper will discuss the medical works of Moses Maimonides, which continued to be studied by Jewish scholars in the centuries after his death. Later generations of Jews added their own contributions to the Jewish medical corpus, of which the most influential was likely a book titled Ma’aseh Tuviah by Tuviah Cohen, also known as Tuviah the Healer (1652–1729). Edward Reichman recently uncovered some documents related to Tuviah and his close friend and fellow physician Gabriel Felix. In his mind, the documents cast a very interesting light on the beginning of these two Polish Jews’ medical educations:

Tuviah and Gabriel were the very first Jewish students allowed to attend a medical school in Germany, the University of Frankfurt an der Oder. This was only possible through the intercession of Friedrich Wilhelm, the “great elector” of Brandenburg and duke of Prussia, who ruled from 1640 to 1688. Part of the arrangement in exchange for Tuviah and Gabriel’s matriculation, as explicitly stated by the duke, was for them to provide instruction in Hebrew language and grammar to the German university students. Tuviah and Gabriel happened to be particularly proficient in this area. Another transparent intent was for these young impressionable Jews to become “enlightened” and ultimately convert to Christianity.

Tuviah’s medical application took the form of a poem he wrote for the duke. . . . The choice of Hebrew as the language of the sonnet betrays the duke’s linguistic interests in Tuviah’s matriculation.

Unfortunately, the social experiment was a resounding failure. Not only did the young Jewish students soon transfer to the University of Padua; it would also be some years till another Jewish medical student set foot on campus.

Read more at Seforim

More about: Christian Hebraists, Jewish history, Medicine

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security