In 1816 he published a book in German, Ueber das Wesen der Sekte Chassidim Aus ihren eigenen Schriften gezogen (On the Nature of the Sect of the Hasidim, Drawn from Their Own Writings), in which he attempted to demonstrate the absurdity of the beliefs and practices of hasidic rabbis, including Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of what became the Lubavitcher movement, the largest and most influential brand of hasidism. His work was rejected by the imperial censors, who apparently feared that it would create disharmony among Austria's Jewish subjects.
Perl's satire of the Hasidic movement, Revealer of Secrets (Megalleh Temirim), is said to be the first modern novel in Hebrew. It was published in Vienna in 1819 under the pseudonym "Obadiah ben Pethahiah." Structured as an epistolary novel, it is currently in print only in an English translation, by Dov Taylor, published by Westview Press. It is an unusual book in that it satirizes the language and style of early hasidic rabbis writing in Hebrew, which was not the vernacular of the Jews of its time. To make his work available and accessible to his contemporaries, Perl translated his own work into Yiddish. A subsequent parody of hasidic writings, Words of the Righteous, written with Isaac Baer Levinsohn and published in 1830, is available in Hebrew.
As an educator, he was founder of the Deutsche-Israelitische Hauptschule, a school for Jewish children which taught secular subjects such as history, geography, mathematics, and natural science in German, in addition to Bible and Talmud.