By Translated by Michael L. Rodkinson
THE PERSECUTIONS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, THE HEAD OF WHOM WAS JOHANN ANDREAS EISENMENGER.
The victory of Reuchlin, and the establishment of the Reformation by Luther, in the sixteenth century, did not stop the persecution of the Talmud. It was ever renewed by men of rank in the different countries. The most dangerous of them was Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, who spent almost all his lifetime in the destruction of the Talmud and its standard-bearers; and it seems miraculous that he did not succeed.
Eisenmenger was born in 1654, at Manheim. In 1666 he came to Heidelberg where he found grace in the eyes of Prince Carl Ludwig, who was pleased with Eisenmenger's determination to learn the Hebrew language. Prince Carl Ludwig sent him, at his own expense, to travel in different countries to become accomplished in the study of Oriental languages. But when Eisenmenger was about to visit Palestine, the prince died (1680), and he established himself in the City of Amsterdam, where he lived for some time in friendly relations with the Hebrew scholars and with Rabbi David Lida of that city.
At the end of the same year it happened that three Gentiles circumcised themselves and embraced the Jewish faith. This, according to Eisenmenger's own confession, angered him almost to death. And this occurrence made him determine to write a voluminous book on the "wickedness" of the Talmud, in order (he said) to save Christianity from danger.
He worked hard and successfully for nineteen years; translated into German from 193 different Hebrew books, and a considerable number of pages from various Tracts of the Talmud itself.
This book, which he named "Endecktes Judenthum" (Unveiled Judaism), containing two volumes of more than a thousand pages each, he gave in the year 1700 to the printers of Frankfort-on-the-Main.
The Jews of that city got wind of it, and being afraid that this book would cause a renewal of massacres of Jews, such as took place in the cities of Franken and Bamberg in 1699, where houses and other Jewish property were destroyed by the mob, appealed to Sampson Wertheimer, who was then the banker of Emperor Leopold, that he should point out to the emperor the dangers which such a book would lead to.
Remembering that after the destruction of Jewish property, the mob, in the above-mentioned places, turned to the palaces of the noblemen, the Emperor commanded the Governor of Frankfort to stop the printing of the book, and to conceal all that was printed of the same, until a careful examination of the book by Gentile and Jewish Hebrew scholars would be made.
In spite of the assistance of many prominent men in the German Empire, who petitioned the emperor to release the books, he retained his decision and paid no attention even to the special personal letter from the King of Prussia in behalf of Eisenmenger. When Eisenmenger died in 1704, his books had not yet been redeemed from their captivity; and only in 1711 did Frederick I, King of Prussia, republish the book at his own expense, from a copy which was in the hands of Eisenmenger's heirs, donating all the copies to them. It would take too much space to relate the proceedings of Eisenmenger himself, and those of his heirs against the Jews of Frankfort, and the various decisions of the courts from the time of Leopold to that of the Empress Maria Theresa. We do not deem it necessary to recount them, since they are in no way related to the subject of the persecution of the Talmud. 1
We have only to say that in the eleven years since the book was given to the press in Frankfort, until the circulation was permitted in Königsberg, its influence was weakened, so that it did not cause very much harm at that time.
Thereafter, however, many anti-Semites made use of the material gathered in this book, quoting it as being directly from the Talmud without mentioning Eisenmenger; probably because of his notoriety as an enemy of the Jews.
Concerning the book itself, we would refer the reader to Professor Franz Delizeh's book, "Rohling's Talmudjude," sixth edition, 1881, and many other criticisms of Eisenmenger's work by Gentile Hebrew scholars, such as Professor Strack of Berlin and others.
We have refrained from stating our own criticism of the misinterpretation of the quotations from the Talmud, chiefly because we do not deem it necessary to study Eisenmenger's book for criticism. As for the explanation of the Talmud, we do not need to use him as our guide; and also in order to avoid apparent partiality; since we are ourselves the bearers of the Talmud's banner. (See App., No. 16.)
105:1 The details are given in Graetz's ("History of the Jews"), Hamelitz, 1888, by David Kahan.