Walter Hilliger
Walter Hilliger

France’s love of letters

The manuscript of R. Moses Raphael de Aguilar, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam, 1655 / 5415

There was a time when, in the eyes of the world, France was distinguished by men of letters. During the century of Louis IV, Voltaire claimed that his greatest achievement was the spectacular promotion of writers. According to Madame de Pompadour, a matriarch of philosophers of the Enlightenment, “it was the great writers who forged the eternal glory of the Sun-king. In his reign, Isaac Orobio became a royal counselor there and Jews in Amsterdam had extensive links with France (Nahon, 1976). 

For this reason, R. Moses Raphael de Aguilar, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam, used France as an example of sustentation (rhetoric) to illustrate the way of concluding suspense : 

“So, an example of what there is to say in praise of France: In you, beloved country; I find what you do not have in common with Spain, nor with Italy, nor with England, nor with any other province, kingdom or empire; it is the fertility of the fields; I will praise in you what you do not have in common with the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Assyrians, it is the study and the love of letters. “

Cit. orig. en Judéo-espagnol : Sobre loque ade dezír, verby gratía alabando la francia se puede dezír de esta manera / hallo enty apatria amada lo que no tienes d común con españa ny con italia ny con ynglaterra, ny con otra alguna província Reyno o imperio; que es fertilidad de los campos, loare enty loque no tienes d común con los athenienses egipcios ny asirios que [es} el estudio y amor de las letras vra.        

– R. Moses Raphael de Aguilar, Treatise on Rhetoric, Figures of thought (1655 / 5415).

About the Author
Walter Hilliger is a French Caribbean writer and translator. He defends a realist interpretation of Divine Providence and translates 17-century providential realism works by classical Jewish authors, such as David Nieto, On Divine Providence or Universal Nature (De La Divina Providencia o Naturaleza Universal); Triumphs of Poverty (Los Triunfos de la Pobreza); Isaac Orobio de Castro, Philosophical Case in defense of Divine and Natural Truth (Certamen Philosophicum, Propugnatae Veritatis Divinae ac Naturalis); Menasseh Ben Israel, On Resurrection of the Dead (De Resurrectione Mortuorum), and others.
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