R. Naftali Herz Wessely – Intellectual Profile

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R. Naftali Herz Wessely
R. Naftali Herz Wessely, Hartwig Wessely
נפתלי הרץ וייזל
LocationAmsterdam, Berlin
WorksCommentaries on Bereshit, Vayikra, Levanon, Shirei Tiferet, Yein Levanon
Exegetical Characteristics
Influenced byR. Shelomo Zalman Henau, R. Yehonatan Eybeschutz
Impacted on



  • Name –  Hartwig Wessely
    • Hebrew name –  Naftali Herz ben Yissachar Baer Veizel
  • Dates –  1725-1805
  • Location –  Wessely was born in Hamburg, lived in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and then moved to Berlin in 1774, where he lived for 30 years. In the last year of his life he moved back to Hamburg to live with his daughter, and died there.
  • Occupation –  Wessely worked as a broker / agent for a number of wealthy European families
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  • Teachers – Wessely spoke of two notable teachers: R. Solomon Hanau, the outstanding Hebrew grammarian of the eighteenth century; and at some point in his teens or early adulthood, R. Yonatan Eibeschutz, one of the leading rabbis of his generation.
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  • Biblical commentaries – Wessely contributed the commentary to Vayikra for Mendelssohn's Sefer Netivot ha-Shalom; Imre Shefer, a commentary to Bereshit which was never completed
  • Hebrew language and poetry – Gan Naul, a two volume work on Hebrew synonyms; Shire Tiferet, a poetic-epic retelling of the Exodus from Egypt and the life of Moses; many other occasional poems, some of which were published in Ha-Me'asef, the maskilic journal that began publication in 1784.
  • Rabbinic Literature – Yein Levanon, a commentary to Pirke Avot
  • Other writingsSefer ha-Midot, a book on Jewish ethics; Hiqqur ha-Din, on the final judgment.

Torah Commentary


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Textual Issues

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Significant Influences

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Occasional Usage

Possible Relationship


Later exegetes