An evil star has risen in Germany: Moses [Mendelsohn] of Desau, may his name be obliterated. A man of Torah filled with bitter, rotten grapes. He mixed a batter combining apostasy and Torah, spoiled and rotten. He made a honey-cake (Tzelil Devash, the name of his book) and he fed it to his friends and students. As on the wings of the wind, his students fanned out across the land, making a tumult for the approach “Be a Jew at home, and a citizen in the street.” In a short time, Germany was poisoned, ruined by Mendelsohn and his colleagues. Like a pillar of fire eats through straw, the Rabbis of Germany were devoured right and left. Mendelsohn created a crater in Germany; he ran off with Jewish skulls. He stole the children of Jacob, and he broke the leaders of Jewry; he placed them all in the burning fireplace of the sciences.This passage appears on a Lubavitch website, I think written by the previous Lubavitcher rebbe, who is known for partisan distortions of history to advance a Chabad agenda.
A tendentious distortion of history. Mendelssohn a"h did not, h"v, say, or maintain in his personal life, that one should be a Jew in the home and a man in the street. That was YL Gordon, a hundred years later. The ones who encouraged the sciences were the Gra and his disciple Boruch Shick of Shklov - the Gra being another person whom Lubavitch writers distort. He was not "under the influence of maskilim" when he critiqued Chassidus, nor did he believe in "tzimtzum kipeshuto", he held his positions out of true knowledge and belief, and believed in the same tzimtzum in the ohr as Chassidim.
Furthermore, all of this was the ORTHODOX haskalah of the first few generations. Reform was something else, a formalization of the wholesale abandonment of Judaism. Many gedolim of the 19th century honored Mendelssohn's commentary, the Biur, and used it themselves. R' Aryeh Kaplan used it for his commentary in the 20th century. The Netziv used it for the Ha'amek Davar. And while the Chasam Sofer banned it, his own children and grandchildren held the Biur in high esteem. This is the historical truth, not distortions meant to keep chasidim uneducated in the ways of the world away from non-chasidic ideas.
Mendelssohn was not the Hitlerish caricature that the writer of this passage uses. Mendelssohn was closest to, I think, the Rav YB Soloveitchik, except that the world was not ready for him. His own children, some stayed Jewish some did not. Why? Because there was no support structure yet for Jews who lived with one foot in the yeshiva, one foot in the secular academy, and one foot in the courts of the mighty. And his children did not have his strength of character, so trying to live his way failed. Because Reform took advantage of the open German society, to become non-religious, is no reason to blame Mendelssohn. Better to blame Napoleon, Voltaire, Rousseau, etc. who preached the open society.
I couldn't really say that over there for fear my userid would be suspended.