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💬 De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger | דברי הברית החקים והמשפטים אשר בין אדם לאדם | The Rights of Man and of the Citizen, after the Declaration of the Batavian Republic and the Emancipation of Dutch Jewry (1795/1798)

This is De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger (“The Rights of Man and of the Citizen” 1795) and its Hebrew translation, דברי הברית החקים והמשפטים אשר בין אדם לאדם (1798), upon the establishment of the Batavian Republic and the ensuing emancipation of Dutch Jewry in the Netherlands. The text of the Declaration, with nineteen articles, follows after the French Republic’s much expanded Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du citoyen de 1793 written by Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles. (The French Declaration, ratified by popular vote in July 1793, was a revision[1] The 1793 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was revised by Jacobins after they had expelled the Girondists of the initial Declaration from 1789 written by the commission that included Hérault de Séchelles and Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just during the period of the French Revolution.) Declarations such as this enshrined the liberal values of the Enlightenment which changed the situation and status of Jews under their aegis. For additional historical context on what might have given rise to the Hebrew translation, find “De rechten van Nederlandse joden in 1615 en 1796” by Marc de Wilde and Emma Rengers in De Boekenwereld (32:1, 2016). Translated from Dutch, here is the history as summarized by Rengers and de Wilde:

In 1795, shortly after the Batavian revolution, the ‘Felix Libertate’ [Happiness through Freedom] society was founded in Amsterdam. The aim of the society was to realize the legal equality of Jews within the new Batavian Republic. Most members were educated High German Jews, but Portuguese Jews and even non-Jews were also members. The Jews among them had an affinity with the ‘haskalah’, a movement that wanted to apply the ideas of the Enlightenment to Judaism. All members of Felix Libertate were convinced supporters of the patriot movement, the political vanguard of the Batavian Revolution. Leading figures were the physician Hartog de Hartog Lémon and the merchant and lawyer Mozes Salomon Asser.

Shortly after this political milestone, a battle of directions broke out within the Jewish community between the progressive supporters of Felix Libertate and the conservative ‘parnassim’ (administrators) of the High German Jewish community in Amsterdam. The modernists demanded more influence within the synagogue, while the parnassim feared that their modernist ideas would undermine orthodoxy. Probably a factor was that the members of Felix Libertate were patriots, while more traditionally oriented Jews were usually pro-prince-minded. The battle for power in the synagogue ended in a small schism, because more than twenty newcomers founded their own congregation with a shul on Valkenburgerstraat.

The old and the new community – the ‘Alte’ and the ‘Neie Kille’ – bombarded each other with pamphlets entitled Diskursen (discourses). Between July 1797 and March 1798, the Neie Kille published twenty-four Discourses, the Alte defended itself with eleven. All in all, the controversy produced six hundred densely printed pages, written in Amsterdam Yiddish and printed in Hebrew letters. The pattern of these remarkable Jewish pamphlets corresponded to that of the Dutch pamphlets of the same time: the writers put forward their point in dialogues that took place in barges, stagecoaches or coffee houses. The controversy had subsided by 1798, but the schism continued for another ten years. In 1808, King Lodewijk Napoleon – meanwhile the Batavian Republic had been succeeded by the Kingdom of Holland – decided that the Neie Kille had to reunite with the Alte. And thus it happened. The reconciliation posed no difficulties, for the ‘equal state’ had meanwhile become a fait accompli. Felix Libertate’s Jewish patriots had history on their side.

Ultimately, these values were largely enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by member states of the nascent United Nations in 1945.The editor imagines this work recited every day after Shaḥarit, on civic days for civil calendars celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations, or for Dutch Jewry and their descendants: in celebration of Dutch independence and the emancipation of its Jewry. –Aharon Varady


Source (Dutch)Translation (Hebrew)Translation (English)
De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger:
אלה דברי הברית החקים והמשפטים אשר בין אדם לאדם (והם שרשי ועקרי היסוד הגדול, אשר עליהם נבנה הנהגת המדיני וקיום הקבוץ האנושי) אשר קימו וקבלו הפרוויסיינעלי רעפרעזענטנטן מהעם בטאווי׳ יר״ה עליהם כל העם.
The Rights of Man and of the Citizen (and they are the great founding roots and principles upon which the rule of government and existence of society is established) that the provincial representatives undertook and obligated themselves (cf. Esther 9:27) from the highly exalted Batavian nation on behalf of all the people.
1795 Het Eerste Jaar Der Bataafsche Vrijheid.
בבוא בשלום בארץ הזאת (וכבודם לפניהם ותופע עליהם נהרה) אחרי שובם מהכות את אויביהם׃ ואחרי אשר כבשו ארצותם, ואיש לא עמד בפניהם, וגם לא היתה קריה אשר שגבה מהם׃ העם הגדול והמפואר פראנסי׳א יר״ה עם צבאותם, אנשי החיל ואנשי השם אשר יצאו שמעם בכל הארץ׃ והיו דברי הברית, נקראים באזני העם בקול גדול בחצוצרת ובצלצלי תרועה בהאג הבירה׃ ביום 31 יאנוויר׳ בשנת הׄתׄקׄנׄהׄ׃
Coming in peace to this land (and may their honor shine before and upon them) after their return from the defeat of their enemies, and after they conquered their lands, and no man could stand against them, indeed, none have come near to their height, the great and renowned nation of France (may they be highly exalted), with their armies, the warriors and men of renown went out and were heard throughout the land. And such is the Declaration proclaimed in the ears of the people with a loud voice with the trumpet and the cymbals of rejoicing in the capital city. 31 January 1795 (5555), the First Year of Batavian Freedom.
1. Alle menschen worden met gelijke Rechten gebouren en deze Natuurlijke Rechten kunnen hun niet ontnomen worden.
כָּל־בְּנֵי אָדָם, גַם בְּנֵי אִישׁ יַחַד, מִיּוֹם הִוָּלְדָם, מִשְׁפָּט אֶחָד, וְחֻקָּה אַחַת לָהֶם, מִשְׁפָּט נוֹסָד עַל הַשֶּׂכֶל הַבִּלְתִּי מִשְׁתַּנֶּה, לֹא יִמּוֹט בְּהָמִיר אֶרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב־יַמִּים׃
All people are born with equal rights, and these natural rights cannot be taken away from them.
2. Deze Rechten bestaan in Geliijkheid, Vrijheid, Veiligheid, Eigendom en Tegenstand aan Onderdrukking.
וּמִשְׁפְּטֵי הָאָדָם הֵן הֵמָה, הַהִשְׁוִיּיָה, הַחֵירוּת הִתְעַרְבוֹת הַקִּנְיָן וְהָרְכֻשׁ וְהַבְטְחוֹתָם, וְלִשְׁמוֹר כָּל־הָעֵדָה מִגֶּזֶל וּמֵעשֶׁק׃
These Rights consist in Equality, Liberty, Security, Property, and Opposition to Oppression.
3. De Vrijheid is de magt welke aan ieder Mensch toekomt om te mogen doen al het gene anderen in hunne Rechten niet stoort; de Natuurlijke bepaaling der Vrijheid bestaat derhalven in deze stelling; DOE NIET AAN EENEN ANDEREN HETGENE GIJ NIET WILT DAT AAN U GESCHIEDE.
הַחֵירוּת הוּא הָֽרְשׁוּת לְכָל־אִישׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר יַחְפֹּץ, מִלְּבַד שֶׁלֹא יַשְׂטִין וְיַעֲצוֹר לַאֲחֵרִים, מַעֲשׂוֹת גַּם הֵמָה כְּמִשְׁפְּטֵיהֵם, וְעִנְיַן הַחֵירוּת הַמוּסָרִי הוּא, הַשָּׂנוּא לָךְ לַאֲחֵרִים לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, (דסני לך לחברך לא תעביד)׃
Freedom is the right of every person to do whatever does not interfere with the rights of others; the natural determination of freedom is therefore this: DO NOT DO TO ANY OTHER WHAT YOU DO NOT WANT DONE TO YOU. (Cf. Shabbat.31a.6)
4. Het is dus ieder geoorloofd zijne gedagten en gevoelens aan anderen, het zij door middel van de Drukpers, of opeenige andere wijze, te open baaren.
לָכֵן, יוּכַל כָּל־אִישׁ לְגַלּוֹת דַעְתּוֹ וּמַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ בָּרַבִּים, הֵן בִּכְתָב הֵן בַּעַל פֶּה׃
It is therefore the right of everyone to reveal his thoughts and feelings to others, whether by means of the printing press or in any other way.
5. Ieder Mensch heeft het Recht om God zodanig te dienen als hij wil; zonder daarin, opeenigerleiwijze, gedwongen te kunnen worden.
לְפִי מִשְׁפַּט הַחֵירוּת, יוּכַל כָּל־אִישׁ לַעֲבֹד עֲבֹדַת אֱלֹהָיו וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתָיו, כְּטוֹב וּכְיָשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו, בְּהַשְׁקֵט וּבְבֶטַח, מִבְּלִי שֶׁיוּכְלוּ אֲחֵרִים, אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם דֵעָה וֶאֱמוּנָה אַחֶרֶת לְאָנְסוֹ לַעֲבוֹדָתָם, וּלְהַפִּיל מִשַּׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשׁוֹ אָרְצָה׃
Every person has the Right to serve God as they please; without being forced to do so in any way.
6. De Veiligheid bestaat in de zeekerheid van door anderen niet gestoord te zullen worden in het uitoeffenen van zijne Rechten, noch in het vreed zaam be zit van wettig verkre egene eigendommen.
הַהַשְׁקֵט וְהַבִּטְחָה הִיא הַהַבְטָחָה, אֲשֶׁר כָּל־אָדָם יֵדַע בְּבֵרוּר, שֶׁאִישׁ לֹא יוּכַל לְמָנְעוֹ, מֵעֲשׂוֹת כְּכָל־אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ, כְּפִי מִשְׁפָּטָיו (וְהִיא תּוֹרַת הָאָדָם בַּכְלָלוֹ) וְהַהַבְטָחָה תִּהְיֶה גַם עַל זֹאת שֶׁיֵשֶׁב וְיָקוּם בֶּטַח בְּנַחֲלָתוֹ׃
Security consists in the certainty of not being disturbed by others in the exercise of one’s rights, nor in the peaceful occupation of lawfully acquired property.
7. Ieder moet stem hebben in de Wetgeevende Vergadering der geheele Maatschappij; het zij persoonlijk, het zij door eene, bij hem mede ge kozene, Verte gen woorddiging.
שֶׁיֵשׁ לְכָל־אִישׁ וְאִישׁ רְשׁוּת לָבֹא וּלְקָרֵב אֶל אֲסִיפַת קְרוּאֵי הָעֵדָה שׁוֹמְרֵי הַדָּת, מִכֹּל־מֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַקִּבּוּץ, לְהַגִּיד אֶת־דַעְתּוֹ, וְכַאֲשֶׁר עִם לְבָבוֹ, הֵן עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ אוֹ בִּשְׁלִיחוֹ הַבָּא בַעֲדוֹ׃
Everyone must have a voice in the Legislative Assembly of the entire Society; either personally, or through an elected representative with him.
8. Het oogmerk van alle Burgerlijke Maatschappijën moet zijn, om aan de Menschen het vreedzaam genot van hunne Natuurlijke Rechten te ver zeekeren.
כַּוָּנַת מֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַקִּבּוּץ תִּהְיֶה לְהַחֲזִיק וּלְקַיֵּם אֶת־הַהַשְׁקָטָה וְכָל־מַגָּמָתָם יִהְיֶה לִבְטוֹחַ לִבְנֵי הָאָדָם לָשֶׁבֶת בָּאֶרֶץ בְּהַשְׁקֵט וּבִמְנוּחָה, בְּמִשְׁפַּט הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת׃
The aim of all Civil Societies must be to secure to Mankind the peaceful enjoyment of their Natural Rights.
9. De Natuurlijke Vrijheid van alles te mogen doen wat anderen in hunne Rechten niet stoort, kan nimmer verhinderd worden, dan wanneer het oogmerk der Burgerlijke Maatschappij zulks volstrektelijk vordert.
לָכֵן, נוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת לְפִי מִשְׁפַּט הַחֵירוּת, כָּל־חֶפְצֵנוּ, מִלְּבַד שֶׁלֹּא נַחְשׂוֹךְ וְלֹא נַעֲצוֹר לַאֲחֵרִים, מֵעֲשׂוֹת גַּם הֵמָה כְמִשְׁפְּטֵיהֶם, וְזֹאת הַמִשְׁפָּט הוּא חֹק וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר, בִּלְתִּי אִם הָעֵת וְהַשָׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְשַׁנּוֹת, לְטוֹבַת הַכְּלָל׃
The natural freedom to do anything that does not interfere with the rights of others can never be prevented, except when the purpose of civil society absolutely demands it.
10. Diergelijke bepaalingen der Natuurlijke Vrijheid mogen niet gemaakt worden, dan door het Volk, of deszelfs Verte gen woordigers.
עַל דְבַר זֶה, כָּל־שִׁנּוּי וְגֶדֶר שֶׁיֵעָשׂוּ בְּמִשְׁפַּט הַחֵירוּת הָאֲמִתִּי, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה, כִּי־אִם עַל פִּי כָּל־הָעָם, אוֹ נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה קְרוּאֵי מוֹעֵד מִכֹּל הַקִּבּוּץ׃
Such determinations of Natural Liberty may not be made except by the People, or their Representatives.
11. Niemand kan der halven verpligt worden, iets van zijne bij zondere eigendommen aanhet algemeen te moeten afstaan, ofopofferen; zonder dat zulks door den wildes Volks, of van des zelfs Representanten, uitdrukkelijk bepaald zij, en naa eene voorafgegaane schaêvergoeding.
עַל־כֵּן, לֹא יוּכְלוּ לְהָרִים מֵאֵת הָעָם מִכַּסְפָּם וּמִנַּחֲלָתָם בִּפְרָטִי, בְּלִי מִצְוֺת וּרְצוֹן כָּל־הָעָם וּקְרוּאָיו, וּמִבְּלִי שֶׁיִבְטְחוּ אוֹתוֹ שֶׁיְשַׁלְּמוּ לוֹ מֵיטַב נִזְקוֹ׃
No one can be obliged to give up or sacrifice anything of their special property to the general public without this being explicitly determined by the will of the people or even the representatives, and after a prior compensation.
12. De Wet is de vrijë en plegtige uitdrukking van den algemeenen wil; zij is voor allen gelijk, het zijom te straffen, het zij om te beloonen.
הַדָּת, הִיא הַפֶּה הַמְדַבֵּר בְּעַד כָּל־הָעָם, שֶׁקִיְמוּ וְקִבְּלוּ בִּרְצוֹן הַטּוֹב דִבְרֵי הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר דָּת אַחַת תִּהְיֶה, הֵן לַעֲנוּשׁ אוֹ לְשַׁלֵּם שָׂכָר טוֹב, כְּאִישׁ בְּאָחִיו׃
The Law is the free and solemn expression of the common will; it is the same for all, whether to punish, whether to reward.
13. Niemand mag gerechtelijk beschuldigd, gearresteerd en gevangen gezet worden, dan in zodanige gevallen en volgende zodanige form aliteiten als welke, doorde Wet zelve, te vooren bepaald zijn.
רַק, עַל פִּי הַדָּת, אוֹ הוֹרָאַת אֲשֶׁר גָֽבְלוּ מְחֹקְקֵי הַדָּת, יוּכְלוּ שׁוֹפְטֵי הָעָם לְהַאֲשִׁים, אֹו לִתְפּוֹשׂ אֶחָד מֵהָעָם׃
No one may be charged, arrested and imprisoned, except in such cases and following such formalities as are determined by the law itself.
14. Ingevalle het noodzaakelijk geoordeeld wordt iemand gevangen te neemen, mageen iedereniet strenger behandeld worden, dan volstrekt noodig is om zig van zijn’perfoon te ver zeekeren.
וְכַאֲשֶׁר יִרְאוּ הַשּׁוֹפְטִים לָשׂוּם אֶת־הַנֶאֱשַׁם בְּמִשְׁמָר, לֹא יוֹסִיפוּ לַעֲנוֹתוֹ, יוֹתֵר מִדֵּי הַחֲזֵק אוֹתוֹ, בַּל יָנוּס׃
If it is considered necessary to arrest any person, no one shall be treated more severely than is absolutely necessary to keep them from their person.
15. Daar alle Menschen gelijk zijn, zijn zijook alle verkiesbaar tot alle Ampten en Bedieningen, zonfer eenige andere redenen van voorkeur dan die van deugen en bekwaamheeden.
וְיַעַן שֶׁכָּל־בְּנֵי הָאָדָם יַחַד שָׁוִּים, לָכֵן כֻּלָּם שָׁוִים לִבְחוֹר אֹתָם לְכָל־פְּקֻדַּת וְשֵׁרוּת, וְאֵין יִתְרוֹן לָזֶה מִזֶּה, בִּלְתִּי מַעֲלוֹתָיו וּמִדּוֹתָיו, הֵמָה לְבַד יָשִׁיבוּ אֹתָם בְּרֹאשׁ׃
Since all People are equal, they are also all eligible for all offices and ministries, without any other reasons of preference than those of virtue and ability.
16. Een iegelijk heeft het Recht om van ieder Amptenaar van het publiek bestuur, rekening en verand woording van deszelfs bewind te helpen afvorderen.
כָּל־אִישׁ וְאִישׁ יוּכַל לִשְׁאוֹל דִין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, מִכָל אֲשֶׁר דִבְּרוּ וְעָשׂוּ פְּקוּדֵי הָעֵדָה׃
Each person has the right to demand an account of his administration from any official of the public administration.
17. Inhet Recht van ieder Burger om zijne belangen in te brengen bij hun, aan welke de publieke magt toevertrouwd is, kan nooit de geringste bepaaling gemaakt worden.
לֹא יַאֲטִימוּ פְּקוּדֵי הָעֵדָה (הַנֶהֱדָרִים בְתֹקֶף וְעוֹז הָעָם) אָזְנָם, כִּי יָבֹא הָעָם לִדְרֹשׁ אֲלֵהֶם וְלָשִׁית בַּקָשֹׁתֵיהֶם נֶגֶד עֵינֵיהֶם׃
The right of every Citizen to submit his interests to those to whom the public power is entrusted can never be the slightest abridged.
18. De Souvereiniteit berust bij het geheele Volk en geen gedeelte deszelfs kan zich dezelve aanmaatigen
מֶמְשֶׁלֶת הָעָם לֹא תִמָּצֵא בִּלְתִּי בְּחֵיק כֻּלָּם וְלֹא בְּחֵיק חֵלֶק מֵהָעָם׃
Sovereignty belongs to the whole People and no portion can appropriate it.
19. Het volkheeft, ten allen tijde, het recht om zijne Regeerings-vorm te veranderen te verbeteren of eenen geheel anderen te verkiezen
הָעָם יוּכַל בְּכָל־עֵת וּבְכָל־דוֹר לְשַׁנּוֹת סֵדֶר הַנְהָגַת מֶמְשַלְתָּם הֵן לְתַקֵּן, הֵן לְהַאֲמִירָהּ בְּאַחֶרֶת׃
The people have, at all times, the right to change and improve their form of government or to elect[2] Cf. לְהַאֲמִירָהּ as לְהַמִירָהּ, to exchange.  a completely different one.
כי ממזרח שמש ועד מבואו
גד֗ול ש֗מי בגוים
וׄבׄכׄלׄ מׄקׄוׄםׄ מקטר מגש לשמיׄ לפ״ק
In the year
“From the sun’s rise to its setting
My name is great among the nations,
and offerings are made to me everywhere,” [5]558 (1797-8 CE).
[3] 4 + 300 + 6 + 2 + 20 + 30 + 40 + 100 + 6 + 40 + 10 = [5]558 (1797-8 CE) in gematria based on Malachi 1:11, taken to represent Judaism’s universalistic and progressive outlook — Nir Krakauer. 

This is a transcription of the Dutch from De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger (“The Rights of Man and of the Citizen” 1795) and of its Hebrew translation, דברי הברית החקים והמשפטים אשר בין אדם לאדם (1798), and set side-by-side with an English translation. We do not know the names of those responsible for the Dutch adaptation or the Hebrew translation of the Declaration. We are indebted to Nir Krakauer for his correction, comments, and notation. The kerning of letters in Lambert Antoine Claessens’s lithograph of De Rechten made it difficult sometimes to distinguish the spacing between words. If you compare the wording with the source image and find the need for a correction, or simply find something else that needs correcting, please leave a comment or contact us. The English translation of the Dutch here is mine, which is to say I have made liberal use of DeepL and Google Translate, the output of which I have proofread for clarity. I have taken the liberty of translating “Menschen” using the familiar Yiddish understanding of מנטשן in its gender-inclusive sense of “people/persons.” –Aharon Varady


De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger (Batavian Republic, 31 January 1795, Den Hague) by Lambert Antoine Claessens, 15 April 1795



1The 1793 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was revised by Jacobins after they had expelled the Girondists.
2Cf. לְהַאֲמִירָהּ as לְהַמִירָהּ, to exchange.
34 + 300 + 6 + 2 + 20 + 30 + 40 + 100 + 6 + 40 + 10 = [5]558 (1797-8 CE) in gematria based on Malachi 1:11, taken to represent Judaism’s universalistic and progressive outlook — Nir Krakauer.



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