By Translated by Michael L. Rodkinson
No. 1. In the history of the "Oral Law," Part I., by I. H. Weiss, the reader will find an account of the deeds of the Samaritans in detail, though only a few instances are dealt with.
No. 2. We may refer the reader to the book, "Maamar Haishuth," by Holdheim, Berlin, who explains the belief of the Sadducees, and their opposition to the Pharisees.
No. 3. We agree with those who say that the tearing of the skin at the performance of circumcision was discovered since the Israelites had begun to undo circumcision; at the time when the theatres were opened by Nero, and the Jews who had to go naked there to wrestle with the beasts, were ashamed to be distinguished by this peculiarity. For this purpose the tearing of the skin was devised. (See Tract Sabbath, p. 307, in the Mishna: "One who was circumcised without having had the skin torn open is considered uncircumcised.") To this there is neither any source in the Scriptures nor any tradition mentioned in the Gemara. Some scholars don't agree with us. (See the letter of A. Bernstein in Tract Roshhoshonah, in the first edition). We, however, base our opinion on the fact that we doubt whether Antiochus Epiphanes would have prohibited a circumcision, customary then among the neighboring nations; and therefore it seems to us that he prohibited only the tearing of the skin which had been ordained by the Pharisees.
No. 4. See our brief introduction in Tract Sabbath. Our opinion is that some written Mishnayoth had been in existence long before. Also Jellinek's Kuntres Haklalim, Note 4, for the opinion of the French and Spanish scholars about it. Also I. H. Weiss and our "Hakol," Vol. VI., p. 11.
The London Athenæum, VI., 808, has cited our statement in the general brief introduction, p. 15: "Most of the Mishnayoth date from a very early period, and originated with the students of the Jewish Academies which existed since the days of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah [2 Chron. xxii., 9]: 'And they thought in Judah, and with them was the book of the law of the Lord, and they moved about through all the cities of Judah and taught the people,'" as ridiculous. This, however, does not terrify us, as notes of commentaries on the text of the Scriptures, the whole or in part, have been found in the hands of students from the time colleges had, been founded; and this opinion of ours has met with approval from many contemporary scholars.
No. 5. See our "Hakol," Vol. VI., in which we state that the Gentiles who desired to embrace Judaism, asking Hillel to convert them, were men of rank, for a common man would not dare to make such a stipulation as to be a high priest in Israel.
No. 6. The belief in the divinity of Jesus became acute at a much, later period, when the heathens accepted this fight according to all modem scholars. 1
No. 7. (See App. No. 4.) We shall also come to this matter in our later notes.
No. 8. In our translation we have added the Tract Ebel Rabbathi, or Sema'Hoth, as the law of mourning was taken from this, tract. We have, therefore, added it to the tract "Minor Festivals," which also treats of mourning on the festival days. What concerns the beginning of "Section of Seeds" with the tract "Benedictions,", see I. H. Weiss for another reason which does not seem probable, to us.
The names of all the treatises of the tracts of each section, and, of their chapters in detail, the reader will find in books written, for this purpose by Strack, Mielziner, and also in the encyclopædias, especially in the Jewish Encyclopædia. 2 We deem it not necessary to name them here as we give at the end of Vol II. the synopsis of each tract, translated and published up to date.
No. 9. Details will be given in the second volume of this book in the introduction to our new edition.
No. 10. In our book mentioned, we also show additions made by the opponents of the Talmud for the purpose of degrading it. For examples, see Vol. II., Part III. 1
No. 11. We shall come to this matter in the second volume of this book, in the chapter devoted to the Ethics of the Talmud.
No. 12. Almost all ritual poets composed after the Talmudic Hagada. Sometimes comments will be found, by a critical eye, there on the Hagada or even Halakha, as the ritual poems relating to Passover, contain almost all the laws of Passover.
No. 13. His decree was only for the German, French and Polish Jews, and extended only until the end of the five thousandth years after creation. However, the above-named Jews accepted his decree as extending indefinitely. In Syria and in Palestine, however, where his decree was not accepted, some of the Portuguese Jews, known there as Franks, marry two wives even at the present time in such cases when the first wife is barren.
No. 14. See "Measseph Nidachim," Vol. X., by A. E. Harkavy, where he proves that in Spain had existed houses of learning from ancient times and that the Gaonim of Babylonia had relations with them; and in many places they tried to follow their customs. (See there).
No. 15. As to what were these places, and who the disputants, whether only Messianists or also Persians and idolaters, the opinions of modern scholars differ. To us it seems that the Messianists possessed only the house of Abidan, and the Persians and Magians that of Nitzraphi. Rabh refused absolutely to dispute with the first, but was forced to do so with the latter, perhaps by his proximity to the government. Of the house of Abiani scholars say it was composed of Messianists.
No. 16. As his interpretation of the text, "it shall be a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thy eyes," that it is a figure of speech, it shall be memored as if written on thy hand, as, "set me as a seal upon thy breast," [Song of Solomon, vii. 6]: "between thy eyes," as an ornament which it is customary to put on the brow, and there is no mention of the use of Phylacteriens in his whole commentary, though the Talmud based the custom of Phylacteriens only on these texts. We have spoken already of this in our work on Phylacteriens.
No. 17. In the excellent work, "Kritische Geschichte der Talmud Übersetzungen," by Dr. Erich Bischof, we read, p. 67: Trotzdem heute der frühr überschätzte Eisenmenger allzusehr unterschätzt wird, weil er noch nicht den historisch--Kritischen Blick unserer Tage besass lässt sich doch gegen seine--Übersetzunger der genanten 1 Stellen nichts Erhebliches mit Fug einwenden sie sind vielmehr fast stets richtig, etc.
We may say that though we respect very much the above-mentioned work as one whose opinions in general are correct, we would like to call the attention of the learned author to the following facts:
(a) Notwithstanding the fact that in a period of eight centuries over a thousand persons of varying opinions were engaged in the compiling of the Talmud, in the edition lying before us there is not to be found any designation as to time, and in many places, even the author of that saying is not mentioned, Eisenmenger gives the sentence, calling it literal translation, as if it were said by one person at a given time. It is self-evident, however, that such literal translation changes the meaning entirely.
(b) An opinion of an individual concerning Gentiles, he quotes it in the name of the Talmud, in spite that this saying is immediately opposed by the Gemara.
(c) He erred even in the literal translation, e.g., "Margela be Pume de Abye," this paragraph is translated by us in third part of Vol. II. of this book. He translates, "A pearl was in the mouth of A."; while the literal translation of the word Margela is, "It was used," i.e., Abye "used" to repeat this saying very often. At another place he asks why should the "Talmud" be called great, while the word "Talmud" in that sentence means "teaching," i.e., the teaching is greater than action; for teaching causes action. And we wonder how Dr. Bischoff can say of such, "it is rather correct."
No. 18. Concerning the pamphlets and books against the Talmud, written by apostate Jews, see Strack, page 95.
No. 19. Rohling declares that the Rabbis had concluded that all the sins of a Jew, be it against heaven or against man, are forgiven him if he only remains a Jew. He also declares that every Rabbi considers himself infallible concerning the laws of non-Jewish blood.
The conclusion o our review of this book seems to us of interest to the reader, and therefore we translate it here: "The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" [Proverbs, xvi. 4]. If we will look with an open eye into the history of Israel, we shall find that at all times, when characterless men arose to accuse and oppress Jews because of jealousy or animosity (except in cases where a man fights for his livelihood, which is natural), their opponents who fought them openly were equal to them in every respect. As the poet says, "Also unto thee, O Lord belongeth mercy for thou renderest to every man according to his deeds" [Ps. lxiv. 131. If these words should be explained according to their literal meaning the question would arise why mercy if to every one is rendered according to his deeds. Therefore it is to be explained thus: "mercy belongeth to thee that thou repayest the wicked man for his evil deeds by one who is equal in deeds to him."
Similarly did it happen in the time of the judges when Sisera oppressed the Jews terribly, providence transferred him to a prostitute, Jael, who rebelled against her husband and also against her lover (Sisera), who thought to be saved, being between her knees, and was slain by her [Judges, v. 27].
Haman, the Agagi whom Harbonah had assisted in creating the gallows to hang Mordecai, was transferred to Harbonah's hands and was hanged by him who was equally devoid of character. Hadrian who decreed that the Jews should not circumcise their children under the penalty of capital punishment, and Simon b. 'Yohaie who was going to Rome to petition the Caesar to abolish this decree, the miracle occurred through Ben Tmalion (a devil). Notwithstanding that Simon wept saying, "To the servant of my grandfather (Hagar), when she was in need, an angel appeared three times [Genesis, xvi. 7-12], and to me who am troubled with the needs of all Israel, an angel did not appear, even one time, but only a devil" [Me-ila, 17, b], it did not help him, for who of the angels would lower himself to appear before such a low person who desires to oppress humanity without any reason but merely on account of their religion.
In reality it is revealed before Him, who said a Word and the World was created, that a man of delicate nature would dislike to come in contact with men of doubtful character, and would not fight with a dirty man; as there is a rule that he who fights bodily with a dirty man must become dirty himself. Therefore the Lord has created the wicked and characterless men for the purposes of such an evil day that he should conquer his opponent, who is equal to him in every respect.
Our sages seem to be aware of this, as we find that when a dispute was needed on subjects concerning Israel, they selected a common man (see Sanhedrin, page 270), and similarly to this, we have seen last year when the measure of the renowned Stoecker's deeds were full, his comrade, Greenberg, who exchanged his needle for a scribe's pen, and when driven out from the Socialists in Berlin, became a comrade of Stoecker, and finally his secretary, and later sold him with all his writings for ten German thalers, so that it became known who the Preacher of the Royal Court was, and a case identical to that of Rohling-Bloch, that he (Rohling) fell into the hands of a equally characterless man, Bloch, 1 whom God had created for this dark day, as said above that from all the great Jewish men of Vienna, not one of them humiliated himself to enter into a fight with Rohling. However, if there is need for a miracle to occur, it matters little from whence it comes, and after all, we have to praise Bloch that he was the cause for the appearance of such a book, just as the prophetess Deborah praised the prostitute Jael [judges, v. .24]: "Blessed shall she be of the women of the tent."
No. 20. The following is a translation of a few pages of the beginning of our pamphlet, "Der Schulchan Aruch und seine Beziehungen zu den Juden und Nichtjuden." "On the 10th of December, 1883, a trial came before the 'Landesgerichte,' at Münster, which created a great commotion in all Germany" . . . viz., "one of the anti-Semites, named Dr. Justus, published a pamphlet in Paderborn under the name 'Judenspiegel' containing 100 law paragraphs of the 'Schulchan Aruch,' concerning the treatment of 'Akum,' abbreviation of three words, 'Obde Kochabim Umazoleth,' literally, 'worshipper of stars and planets.' However, the author, Justus, put the word 'Christians' instead of 'Akum' in every place in the text. The editor of 'The Merkin' in Münster quoted many passages of this pamphlet with a glaring editorial, and the district-attorney, who considered such as an incitation against a race, made him responsible for this. The 'Landesgerichte' appointed two experts, one a Jew, Dr. Treu, a Hebrew teacher in the 'royal gymnasium,' and a Gentile, Dr. Ecker, an instructor in Semitic languages." 1
Dr. Ecker Privatdocent at the royal academy of this place declares, that having devoted the last ten years exclusively to the study of Semitica, he is in a position to express an opinion. He then goes on to say:
"In the first place, I feel it my duty to point out that I can in no way agree with the conclusions arrived at by my esteemed colleague, Treu, and that concerning the essential point I entertain a conviction the very opposite of his. Three questions are here concerned which I am to answer:
(1) Is the 'Schulchan Aruch' vested with legal sanction?
(2) Does the word 'Akum' mean also Christians?
(3) Are the quotations of Dr. Justus in agreement with the original text."
As his answer to the first question treats about the "Schulchan Aruch" only, and also whether the Jews at that time are to be named Schulchan Aruch Jews or Talmud Jews, we omit it as it does not belong to the purpose of our history. We begin therefore with the second point.
"As to the second point, whether the word Akum comprises also Christians, I do not see how this can be denied. It is my firm conviction that Akum is nothing less nor more than non-Jews. And I believe that the Christians too belong to this class. Thus a law book that has appeared in the middle of the sixteenth century in Krakau should contain laws regulating the behavior of Jews (1) towards Jews, (2) toward planet-worshippers who live hundreds of miles away? This is indeed ridiculous. Gentlemen, allow me to draw a comparison. Suppose, here in Munster, a Jew would conceive a notion to sit down and write a new law book in which there are but two classes of laws, how the Jews should behave toward Jews and toward--well, for my part let him call them what be may, it means after all non-Jews; suppose further that the prescribed behavior toward non-Jews is very rude and inhuman, and the author is held responsible for so treating the Christians, the learned Jew says: Ye Christians of Munster are not at all included in the class of non-Jews, which class has reference to the--Hottentots!
"Now, gentlemen, it is just as ridiculous to assert that in the sixteenth century there have appeared laws in Krakau regulating the behavior of Jews toward planet worshippers, and the Christians are nowhere mentioned. And, gentlemen, since this point has received no emphasis on the part of my esteemed colleague, it is important to call attention to it! If Akum does not comprise Christians, then laws against Christians are wholly missing. In the 'Shulchan Aruch' there are mentioned only Jews and Akum; we Christians are surely not Jews, hence we are beyond all doubt confused in the term Akum.
"I repeat once more, Akum is congruent with non-Jews. The Rabbis them. selves prove this. I have in my possession a recent Wilna edition of the 'Shulchan Aruch,' in which not infrequently the word Akum of the older editions is substituted by Eno Ichudi, i.e. non-Jew. The fear for the censor prompted many to an alteration, but in this case it has rather been an unhappy one, since the publishers themselves say that Akum is synonymous with non-Jew."
We are in a position to meet also this issue of the Herr Expert. The term non-Jews is by no means generic for the term Christian. In order to fully perceive the truth of this statement, it remains for the learned doctor to merely cross the channel over to England. This great world dominating nation consists in its overwhelming majority of pious and strict Christians. They sacrifice millions for the propagation of the Christian creed, and the evangelic writings all over the world. However, they call themselves with self-gratification, "The genuine Jews, sons of The New Union." They pretend to be the descendants of the enigmatically vanished ten tribes of Israel, and to still be Jews, body and soul. Very often you find on their worship places and educational institutions inscriptions in both English and Hebrew. Here you read in strikingly large letters: "Chapel of the Jews-Christians," "Jewish-Nazaric School." In the cosmopolis London the most influential princes and the highest state officers call themselves with self-consciousness, "Jew-Christians." What then is the decisive trait that makes the Christian a non-Jew? Furthermore, the theologically educated Expert can hardly be believed to be ignorant of the fact that the first adherents of Christianity in its statu nascendi had preserved the name Jews for a long period, had remained piously obedient to the customs, precepts and tenets of the Jews, and had in their outward apparel distinguished themselves in nothing from their former brethren in creed. Notwithstanding their sincere devotion to the new movement, they still called themselves, "devout sons of Israel"; only few were they who assumed an outspoken antagonistic position with regard to the customary Rabbinic or Pharisaic ordinances, and were on this account stigmatized by the Talmud as "Min," "Apikores." Now, has non-Jews always been identical with Christian? Aside from this the first edition of the "Schulchan Aruch" was printed in Adrianople (Turkey), where the most inhabitants were Mussulmans.
Such falsifications of the text in more recent editions have perplexed me to some extent, when I investigated the laws of Justus. The fourth law reads: 'When a Jew is met by an Akum (Christian) with a cross in his hand, the Jew is strictly prohibited from bowing his head.' However, in my Wilna edition I find instead of Akum the word adam, i.e. man. I then compared a new Stettin edition, and there I even find: 'When an obed kochabim (star worshipper) with abodath kochabim (idol) in hand meet,' whence nothing could, of course, be proved. Only in an older edition I have found the original: 'When an Akum meets you with a sheti vaereb (i.e. woof and warp = cross).' And, gentlemen, this proof is incontrovertible. It is known to everybody that no heathen reveres the cross. Akum here must mean a Christian."
One moment, profound Herr Dr. Ecker, the case appears after all to be very far from being so manifest and ultimately settled. During their existence, extending over thousands of years, the Jews had experienced among the various nations many a thing of which many a sage can not even dream and which seems unknown also to Dr. Ecker, the theologian, who bears even the title Doctor. As there is in general nothing new under the sun, the consecration of the cross in Christianity was not a wholly new creation. In the Brahman religion the cross had enjoyed great esteem some six centuries B.C. The Hindu symbolized therein the space relations of the universe. According to accounts relating to those times, the Fakirs would stand motionless, their hands stretched crosswise, for days or, as some would have it, even for weeks until the nails on their fingers would grow to be inches long. By thus blunting their bodily sensibility they endeavored to give palpable expression to the negation of man's earthly existence. The commentary to Eben Ezra, mekor chaim, gives in the book Margalioth an account of this custom. Accordingly, it is by no means so incredible nor could have been so infrequent that a Jew should have met a heathen with a cross. The assumption is therefore plausible that the Talmud had in view such heathens. However, we admit that this is merely an hypothesis, and that Shulchan Aruch was no more familiar with Indian mythology than Dr. Ecker appears to be. We aim solely at showing that it is possible for one impelled by judophobic purposes to carry on the study of Semitica for ten years, and yet exhibit drastic ignorance here and there--all diluted eloquence and vain presumptions notwithstanding--and that it is altogether ill-becoming to venture upon expressing a competent opinion on Jewish laws that have arisen in ancient times. It is of this that we wanted to remind Herr Dr. Ecker and his anti-Semitic commilitants.
"In conclusion one more proof that will of necessity convince everybody. We all know that the Jews do not eat meat unless it has been slaughtered by a Jew. Meat slaughtered by Christians is not 'kosher,' and yet the 'Shulchan Aruch' says that meat slaughtered by an Akum is not kosher; hence Akum means also the Christian."
Patience, Herr Dr. Ecker. Also this your far-fetched remark deserves an answer, and such that will remove the scales off your eyes. How indeed is it possible that a theologian who has been exploring Jewish literature for ten years should exhibit such salient gaps? The most ignorant Jew could beat you in this point. Who does not know that only a trained slaughterer examined and supplied with a diploma is allowed to slaughter? Any other Jew, and he that the most enlightened and distinguished among the Rabbis themselves, is not entitled to slaughter, and were he to do it the meat of this animal would be unallowable and regarded as though the animal had been torn to pieces by a beast of prey, and is therefore "Terefa," (torn.) And upon this case Dr. Ecker bases his deduction that Akum is absolutely a Christian, for the cattle slaughtered by an Akum is not kosher? How ridiculous! Is it kosher if slaughtered by a Jew not in possession of the right to slaughter?
"Now comes the important third question: Are the laws of Dr. Justus really contained in the 'Shulchan Aruch'? Herr Colleague Treu has made the utterance that many a point of these laws is not contained in the 'Shulchan Aruch.' Particular stress was apparently laid on this remark. The case is not set down with precision I compared all the laws with the original text and reached the following result should simply sign my name under all these 100 laws from A to Z, you require of me. In their main substance they are correctly contained in the 'Shulchan Aruch,' but the foundations of some single laws are borrowed by the author somewhere else; on the whole, however, well grounded. I admit, and this is natural enough, that the laws are poignantly formulated, and in some cases in a manner which I should not approve of. We read, e.g., in law 79: 'The Jew is allowed to eat unclean in case of a dangerous sickness . . . however, he is not allowed even in this case to use for his cure something that belongs (in the opinion of the Jews) to the most-unclean, viz., to a Christian Church.' As already observed, no mention is made of Christians, and also here in the text it reads 'idol worship.' Of course Christian Church too belongs here. Thus, the case is not untrue, yet in its formulation the law sounds sharper and Dr. Justus should have left the text also unaltered and added Christian Church' in parentheses."
Truly, we are at a loss to find the proper expression that might appropriately characterize this expert deposition of a theologically educated priest. Let us in the first place inquire somewhat more closely into the law in question, which in its formulation is in neither the Talmud nor the Shulchan Aruch. In the former we read: "If a man is seized with bulimy he may be fed with unclean food, till his eyes become clear" (Yoma, 125) . Here no mention is made of either Akum or idol worship. In the Shulchan Aruch the same law is worded as follows: It is allowed to give the dangerously sick prohibited food to eat (Orach Chaim, 6 18, 9). Here again the word unclean has been eliminated. Still another passage treating of the same subject reads: "For curing purposes all is allowed to be used but the wood of an Ashera, Astrate, that what was in Phnician an unchaste phallus-idol." We read further in the same place: "With all things it is permitted to cure one's self except by means of idolatry, adultery and shedding of blood." (Pesachim, 36.) The word Tumah = unclean is not met here at all. In the Shulchan Aruch this law is restated as follows: "It is not allowed to seek convalescence in the name of idols" (Yoreh dea, 155.) Neither is here the word Tumah to be found. It thus remains an enigma where Dr. Justus may have borrowed the expression "the most unclean," which is to Dr. Ecker of course synonymous with the Christian Church, since the word is not at all used in the original text in connection with this law! But we must do justice to Dr. Ecker; he possesses a highly cunning method of polemizing; he displays admirable dexterity in securing for his comrade Dr. Justus an open back-door. Yes, indeed, Dr. Ecker is master of his art, he leaves far behind that so-called "Jewish method of polemizing," which has been according to the "Germania" revealed in this action. Herr Dr. Ecker makes notably the statement that Dr. Justus has taken his law from the Shulchan Aruch, their interpretations, however, he has borrowed from somewhere else. This open admission manifests the intention of false conception. Dr. Justus has namely borrowed that marked, or to use the language of Dr. Ecker, "poignant" expression from a place that has absolutely nothing in common with the law in question. Aboda Zara, i.e. idol worship, is termed in the Talmud the father of uncleanness: Abh hatumah, which defiles by touch (Sabbath, Aboda Zara.) Now Dr. Justus resorts to the following stratagem; he renders Abh hathmah with "the most unclean," substitutes Aboda Zara, idol worship, by "Christian Church," then he fabricates a law under the label of the Shulchan Aruch which has never had any thing of the kind, and in the name of this firm sends it out into the wide world. Dr. Ecker, it is true, finds that such method of procedure is "poignant," but on the whole correct and to the point. What may criticism say on such an escapade? If a Jew had the mishap of venturing upon such a shaky ground, the whole stock of degrading names, such as rogue, rascal, impostor, misanthrope, etc., would not suffice to stigmatize so shameless a forger. Indeed it requires very little originality and still less sagacity or witchcraft to pick out phrases from places that stand in no relation to one another, and compile them with a view of criminating whomever it may be. Dr. Justus has done such a work, and a Catholic priest, a custodian of the church who should adhere to truth, right and peace, has the impudence to assert that this work is in substance correct, though poignant because "Christian Church" should have been enclosed in parentheses; as if then the falsehood would turn to truth! Can a theologian bear such false testimony, a priest who declares himself to be well versed in the Hebrew and hence competent to pass judgment on Rabbinical literature?
Let us now examine somewhat more closely the Hebrew concept, "Tumah," In default of a corresponding similarly expressive German word, one is of necessity prompted to render it with "unclean." In reality, however, the Biblical and Rabbinical "Tumah," is toto cælo different from the current notion unclean. The German "unclean" is synonymous with the dirt and filth, which is in no way the case with Tumah. According to the Mosaic law, a human corpse is the very origin, the progenitor of all Tumah, "Abhi aboth hatumah." In Dr. Ecker's German this could be styled "the most unclean." The tent, the room that shelters a corpse, with all the utensils therein, is permeated with the fluid of Tumah, uncleanness. Whoever lingers, sits or sleeps there, whoever touches the corpse, is infected with the Tumah and becomes in turn "Abh hatumah," the father of uncleanness, and he who touches the Abh hatumah is called "Rishon lettimah," the first of uncleanness; he is prohibited for seven days from entering the sanctuary or from approaching the altar. He imparts Tumah to him who may happen to touch him. It is here absolutely immaterial whether the corpse was, when alive, sheltering the divine spirit of Moses, of the crowned bard of the unparalleled psalm songster David, or of one of the lowliest in the Jewish nation. The assertion that the corpse of Moses, David, etc., is the most unclean would be a sure symptom of insanity. Are the two words Tumah and unclean congruent? The religious law of Tumah is laid down in the Torah without foundation at all, and belongs to those laws concerning which we venture to speculate, yet are unable to warrant their validity. Now, the Rabbis, eager to keep the Jews from following idolatry of those times, to prevent all contact therewith, were therefore teaching: "An idol defiles by touch; it is not allowed even for curing purposes." However, it was not the material part of the idol that was prohibited, such as the wood, the stone, the dust (for the use of all this was allowed in case of danger), but the prohibition is to be conceived of in the following sense. If one were to whisper in the ear of a dangerously sick person: "I will in your behalf invoke the help of this or that idol," as such was really the case with Ben Dama, the nephew of
R. Ismael (Aboda Zara, 27), it is such a medicinal use of the idol that one is energetically warned against. Supposing now that the emblems of Christianity too are actually subsumed under the category of idols, which is by no means the case, supposing further that it is prohibited to seek recovery by their help, even then there would be no way of justifying a rationally thinking person in his attempting to refer such a prohibition to the Christian Church, or to go further yet, and assert that the latter is in the mind of the Jews unclean, or, according to Dr. Ecker, altogether the most unclean.
As an illustration of how the Rabbinical school used to term Tumah, we quote an eloquent account of the Mishnah [Iodaim, 4]: "The Sadducees were once deriding their antagonists, the Pharisees, as follows: 'How amazingly absurd is your procedure in establishing laws! the writings of Homer are not defiling while the sacred books of the Bible should be subject of defiling; is it not the height of absurdity?' Hereupon replied R. Johanan b. Zakai: You could adduce against us yet other analogous but more drastic facts; the bones of an ass are not defiling while those of the high-priest Johann Hyrcan do defile! How would you solve this paradox?" Whereupon the Sadducees answered: "This is obvious. The position one holds when alive is in direct ratio with the uncleanness after death; the more revered and beloved one was when alive, the more defiling is his corpse." Now you see, said R. Johanan b. Zakai, this speaks as well as for us, I could turn the very same weapons unto ye! the profane writings of Homer--that are not our favorite--are indifferent to us, they do not defile; the sacred books which we revere and love are subjects of defiling the hands that touch them!
Now, if according to Dr. Ecker's and Justus's literary artifice, the Christian Church too belongs "of course," to the most unclean, is it not possible in the rabbinical sense to construe on the contrary a consecration, a proof of superior esteem for the church? Ye gentlemen Doctors, where is your wisdom?
Artifices of this kind can be brought about only by a Dr. Justus, who, impregnated with malice and Jew-hatred, misuses ink and paper to openly and scornfully defy the truth. And a consecrated priest, an academic teacher, stamps his approval upon his tricky work and in a sacred place where justice is being administered, whither he, credited agreeably to his sect and position, was summoned to conscientiously elucidate the truth, where he might have been made to confirm under oath the veracity of his conviction! Verily, Dr. Ecker has badly sinned, not only against the Jewish people, but also against Christian Germany! Is then in our age the Hebrew literature a book sealed with seven seals? Are not there in Germany also Christian savants who could detect this arbitrary procedure, who could trace to its source such a groundless absurdity? Would that he may perceive the opinion of the Christian professors, Delitzsch, Cassel, etc., expressed with reference to his expert opinion, he would see then whether they regard his depositions as actually impartial, or as of a wholly different nature, he would learn whether they agree with him in that the Christian Church too belongs of course to the most unclean! This is, honorable priest of the church, your impartiality, such is it prima facie!
"I should like yet to touch here upon the point which was thought to be important when Herr Colleague Treu has pointed out that he has nowhere read in the 'Shulchan Aruch' that Christians are worse than dogs. To be sure, it is manifest that a law book is not the place to state that the Christians are worse than dogs; but it is perverse to infer from here that Dr. Justus has falsified the text. This sentence was namely brought forth as a foundation of law 31, where note 3 remarks, however, that it is borrowed from the renowned exegete Rashi."
We do not know the passage attributed to Rashi. However, places of this nature are not rare in the Talmud. Let us quote such a passage. The question was discussed, for whom it is allowed to prepare food on a holiday; in this connection it reads: "What causes you to exclude the Akum. from, and to introduce the dogs into, the law? The dogs depend on you in their food and rearing, therefore I treat of them in the law, but the Akum. I exclude, for no one is obliged to take care of him," (Betza, 21b). Rashi has surely commented on such a place in the Talmud, and Dr. Justus was dexterous enough to forge thereof a poisoned arrow and to direct it as best it suits his instincts. But is here even a particle of insinuating contempt and depreciation of an Akum or a Christian? In the foregoing quotation the question is discussed as to the preparing of food on such holidays that do not coincide with the Sabbath, which preparing is allowed only for such persons and animals that depend on others in their food. We refer yet the reader to our next observation.
"Another point was contended against by Herr Treu, in law 17, which treats of the case that the Jews pray when the plague rages in their midst, but not when the plague is among animals. Here it reads further: 'But they do (pray) when the plague is among swine, as their intestines resembles those of man, likewise when the plague is among Akum (Christians).' I agree with Herr Treu that in lieu of 'likewise' should be 'the more so,' and therewith the law loses its poignancy, but it looks suspicious all the same that in one and the same line the Akum are coupled together with swine."
The Herr Privatdocent of the royal academy displayed masterly skill to excite his audience, and to unbridle the passions of hatred. Verily, also we must make an extraordinary effort to control our agitated mind. The reasons, however, lie by no means in the affected depreciation of the human dignity in general, or of that of the Akum in particular, no matter who is meant thereby as ascertained by the Expert, but in the boundless ignorance of this theological doctor, which is truly astonishing, nay startling. And yet he asserts to have been studying Semitica for ten years! David, the King of Israel, was considered by the older Rabbis, the highest unattainable authority, the ideal of the Jewish people. As far as rank and merits are concerned, they put him above the Patriarchs Moses and Joshua, each of whom, they tell us, had his hands stained in one way or other, wherefore none of them was honored with saying the benediction over the goblet. David, however, was found wholly stainless, the goblet was predestined for him, and only he was allowed to grasp it and praise therewith the Omnipotent! This legend is to be found in Talmud (Pesachim, 119). But the very same so highly revered David is somewhere else coupled together with dogs, and, in defiance of all shame and discretion, treated even worse than a dog--in the sense of Justus and Ecker. It is namely recorded: David died, and his son and successor to the throne, Solomon, had his messenger ask in the college as follows: "The remains of my royal father are exposed to the scorching sun rays, the dogs of my father's household are hungry and menace them, may I in view of all this touch on the day of Sabbath the remains, and have them sheltered?" Hereupon came the answer: "First of all satisfy the hunger of the dogs by having a carcass cut to them; thereafter put upon your father's corpse a loaf of bread or a child, then you may have it removed into the shade." Contemplating this, Solomon made in his later years the utterance: "Truly the living dog is better than the dead lion." Thus reads the legend in the Talmud (Sabbath, 32). And more yet; of their own people the sages say: "Three are insolent, Israel among the nations, the dog among the animals, the cock among the birds" (Betza, 25). Who would assert that in these passages David and Israel are depreciated? This elementary point should not have escaped the consciousness of a theologian trained in the Hebrew and Rabbinical literature, viz., that expressions of this kind were current among the law teachers of those days, without, however, any intention on their part to either elevate or degrade any one! Again, we read in the Talmud (Pesach, 112): "The rabbis taught, there are three who hate one another: the dogs, the cocks, and the sages." Others add yet the rival women, still others also the teachers at the Babylonian academies. Well, Dr. Ecker, what would you say to this point? Could the sages find no better company than the dogs, cocks and rivals? And again, are the Evangelists more moderate in their language? Does not Matthew also call the nations dogs and swine? (Mat., 6, 7). Where then is here room for indignation? The patriarch Jacob on his death-bed blesses his sons who surround him. Their characteristic merits and defects he designates by animal forms which they resemble. Jehudah he calls a young lion, Naftali a bitch, Issachar an ass, Dan a serpent, Benjamin, his youngest favorite, a rending wolf. Moses, too, calls in his farewell blessing the tribe of Joseph, "a first-born ox." Should these two reverend old men have had the malicious intention, at the most serious moment when they were preparing to part with life, to revile and insult? Here is a point for Herr Dr. Ecker to meditate on! 1
No. 21. As we are lacking in time we requested the dean of this faculty to send us a copy of the curriculum with an admission card, so that we might arrive at the exact hour appointed for some lectures on the Talmud and on theology which we saw announced in the programme; to which we received the following letter:
THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY OF AMERICA.
NEW YORK, January 5, 1903.
Dear Sir.--Your letter of the 21st ult. is just before me. I have not yet been able to send you a copy of the curriculum, which I shall be very glad to do when it is printed. Whilst a weekly curriculum has been adopted for the year, some of its provisions are still under advisement, and I have not deemed it wise to put it in print.
I have not at the moment any copy of the hours of the lectures either, nor do I really think it would be profitable for you to attend an occasional lecture, as you suggest. You realize, too, that the classes must necessarily consist of young men, that practically every hour involves a certain amount of recitation, and that the students will feel awkward, or necessarily ill at ease, in the presence of some one older than themselves.
Yours very truly,
President of the Faculty.
Michael L. Rodkinson, Esq.,
No. 22. The Jewish Encyclopædia is undoubtedly a monumental work and most eminent scholars in both continents are taking part in it, and there a great many scientific articles which are instructive to the students and also many laymen are pleased by reading a great deal of articles in every branch. (True, that some articles though scientific would be better if omitted in the encyclopædia. We refer to Dr. P. Mendus' message to the Union Orthodox congregations which took place recently.) However, because it is a monumental work, we cannot restrain ourselves from remarking that the editors should be more careful in their revision of the articles. In Appendix No. 8, we show that the bibliographies are not complete and now we will remark that the editors are not careful in their biographies.
There is a short biographical sketch in Vol. I., p. 16, of Aaron Ha-Levi Ben Moses of Staroselye, who was our mother's father. In the American Hebrew, June 28, 1901, we have already remarked that his family name was Hurwitz, which he received from his ancestor, the famous Ishiah Halevi Hurivitz, known by the name Shelaw, the author of "Snee Luchoth Habrith," and this was omitted.
We have then overlooked that his main and wonderful work, "Sharee Haychud ve Haemuna" (Gates of the Unity (of God) and its Creed) is not mentioned. This great work has surprised not only the Cabbalists and Chasidim, but also the Maskilim like Sneier Zachs and Lazar Zwefel. The former mentioned it in his well-known "Hathchia" thus: "and the wonderful work by Aaron Hurivitz" and so also the latter in his "Solom Al Israel," who speaks of it enthusiastically and at length. Remarkable it is that in the bibliography of the sketch is mentioned Rodkinson's "Toldath Amude Hachabad" and in this book his family name as well as the above-mentioned work with more particulars are to be found. By this we see that the editor of this subject did not care to look up the bibliography at least to make it correct. He should at least have seen Fünns' "Kneset Israel," in which the name and the books are mentioned.
All this concerns the incorrect biography. Should we count the omissions of the names of very great men, even only of Aaron and Abraham of all classes, who ought to be mentioned in the encyclopædia, who played a great rôle in Israel, it would take too much space and time. A glance into our Biographie sämmtlicher Rabbiner der Gouvernments Vollhynien, Podolien, Ukraine, Gross- Klein-Polen und Galizien von Jahre 1695 bis 1876 (Konigsberg 1876), pp. 30-34, will convince the reader of this.
122:1 What concerns Ben Zakkai, according to Heilprin, in his "Seder Hadoroth," and other authorities, Johanan b. Zakkai died 72 years A. C., that is, about forty years after the death of Jesus, at which time the followers of the latter had already begun to dispute with their Jewish colleagues. We also find a disciple of Johanan b. Zakkai whom he very much respected, very friendly to, and pleased with, Jacob of the village Sachnon, who was one of the first disciples of Jesus. Hence our conjecture.
122:2 Speaking of the encyclopædias, we are sorry to say that in spite of the advertising of their completeness, with all additional information in every branch up to the time of publication, one can not rely upon them. It seems to us that they omit the mention of books of great interest. According to our knowledge, books the subject of which is interesting to most students, not to speak of whether they are well done or not, ought to be mentioned and, if necessary, with a remark about the quality of the books. Now take the "Century Encyclopedia-Dictionary and Atlas," which is advertised as the best of its kind and which is published in New York City, and if we look under the subject "Talmud," the fourteen or fifteen volumes of the first English translation of the "Talmud" by Michael L. Rodkinson, published in the, same city, are not to be found, although about 175 daily papers and periodicals, here and abroad, noticed and reviewed the publication. The same is the case with Appleton's new encyclopædia under the same title "Talmud." Here also Rodkinson's translation is not mentioned, though some small tracts which were translated into German are mentioned. Still more remarkable is it, that the reviser of this article p. 123 on the "Talmud" was Dr. Richard Gottheil, who is one of the editors of the Jewish Encyclopædia, and who himself wrote a criticism in "The Bookman" in 1897 upon this translation. What concerns the Jewish Encyclopædia, which is devoted only to matters relating to the Jews, one is still more astonished on examining its bibliographies. On pages 390 and 394 of vol. ii., etc., etc., the contents of Tracts Baba Batra Metzia and Kama are explained. In the bibliography of this article are neither mentioned the excellent translation into French by 1. M. Rabbinowicz nor the translation into English by Michael L. Rodkinson. The same is the case with vol. iv., Page 526, etc., concerning the tracts "Derekh-Erez Rabba" and "Zuta," for in the bibliography there is not mentioned its translation in vol. i. (ix.) into English by the same M. L. Rodkinson, together with Abot de Rabbi Nathan, which is mentioned in the first volume, page 82. Here the bibliography reads: "An English version is given by M. L. Rodkinson in his translation of the Babylonian Talmud, I. (IX.), New York, 1900." We cannot find any excuse for such a sin of the bibliographer unless we ascribe it to the carelessness of the editors, for even if the authors of the articles were ignorant of it, in spite of the fact that this translation is to be found in almost all the libraries of the cities and countries, still the editors ought not to have been so.
123:1 To the critics who will try to find fault with us because of the article by Prof. Schechter in the Westminster Review of January and April, we will say that in spite of the respect which we feel for the article and the author, we do not agree with it on many points. Therefore, without any controversies, we state here what seems reasonable to us, leaving it to the reader to judge.
124:1 He quotes namely, the places of the Talmud which were translated by him.
126:1 In our pamphlet "Barquai," Vienna, 1886, all Bloch's proceedings as well as his character are related.
121:1 The testimonies of Dr. Treu, who was a Jew, we do not deem necessary to translate, especially as they may be understood from the answers of Dr. Ecker. However, the latter's testimony and our replies we translate literally for the purpose of enlightening such passages which are to be found in the Talmud.
136:1 We are convinced that many, yes, very many, offensive passages in the Talmud are traceable to the Jews-Christians among the Rabbis. For a long time theme Jews-Christians remained in close relations with their Jewish brethren, refrained from ostentatiously manifesting their belief in the messianism of Jesus; however, in their innermost selves they entertained and nourished a more and more unfolding rancor against the teachings as well as against the authority of the law teachers, who would by means of all imaginable contrivances interfere with their clandestine plans to carry on propaganda for their idea. Jacob from Kefar Sekania and Jacob Minaah (Megila, 23) are mentioned as such, and there must have been many of this class. It is to these Jews-Christians that we attribute the authorship of some of the above-cited sentences that sound in a measure defamatory to the Rabbis. In like manner the foregoing David legend may have originated in these circles. Indeed, David was far from being stainless; he himself was conscious of it and expressed it in a penitential psalm to which we refer (Psalm 51). But as the pretended ancestor of Jesus the adherents of the latter surrounded him with dazzling though undeserved glory. (We, in our new edition of the Talmud have omitted both legends concerning David, as we are certain they are not to be ascribed to the Rabbis of the Talmud; see also our edition [Betza, 491 footnotes. We have omitted the whole saying but Maelits, for the same reason.) In this, our pamphlet, from page 35 on, we explain all the passages where Akum is mentioned and what it signifies, not by suppositions but by facts, and as it is written in the German language, we may refer the reader, who would like to know this, to them.