This book begins with a look into the early life of Spinoza. Born Bento Despinosa on November 24, 1632 in Amsterdam, his Hebrew name Baruch means “blessed.” Spinoza received a typical Jewish education at the Talmud Torah school. The Jewish community in which he grew up consisted largely of Marranos, that is, Sephardic Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent who had been forcibly converted by the Inquisition and who later fled to France and the Netherlands to avoid further persecution. From an early age, Spinoza's intellectual gifts were noted, and he was considered a polymath. In addition to Portuguese, the lingua franca of his community, Spanish, its literary language, and Dutch, the language of trade and commerce, he also learned Hebrew.
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