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Title: Jewish Literature and Other Essays
Author: Karpeles, Gustav, 1848-1909
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Copyright 1895, by

Press of
The Friedenwald Co.


The following essays were delivered during the last ten years, in the
form of addresses, before the largest associations in the great cities
of Germany. Each one is a dear and precious possession to me. As I once
more pass them in review, reminiscences fill my mind of solemn occasions
and impressive scenes, of excellent men and charming women. I feel as
though I were sending the best beloved children of my fancy out into the
world, and sadness seizes me when I realize that they no longer belong
to me alone--that they have become the property of strangers. The living
word falling upon the ear of the listener is one thing; quite another
the word staring from the cold, printed page. Will my thoughts be
accorded the same friendly welcome that greeted them when first they
were uttered?

I venture to hope that they may be kindly received; for these addresses
were born of devoted love to Judaism. The consciousness that Israel is
charged with a great historical mission, not yet accomplished, ushered
them into existence. Truth and sincerity stood sponsor to every word. Is
it presumptuous, then, to hope that they may find favor in the New
World? Brethren of my faith live there as here; our ancient watchword,
"Sh'ma Yisrael," resounds in their synagogues as in ours; the old
blood-stained flag, with its sublime inscription, "The Lord is my
banner!" floats over them; and Jewish hearts in America are loyal like
ours, and sustained by steadfast faith in the Messianic time when our
hopes and ideals, our aims and dreams, will be realized. There is but
one Judaism the world over, by the Jordan and the Tagus as by the
Vistula and the Mississippi. God bless and protect it, and lead it to
the goal of its glorious future!

To all Jewish hearts beyond the ocean, in free America, fraternal


BERLIN, Pesach 5652/1892.

















In a well-known passage of the _Romanzero_, rebuking Jewish women for
their ignorance of the magnificent golden age of their nation's poetry,
Heine used unmeasured terms of condemnation. He was too severe, for the
sources from which he drew his own information were of a purely
scientific character, necessarily unintelligible to the ordinary reader.
The first truly popular presentation of the whole of Jewish literature
was made only a few years ago, and could not have existed in Heine's
time, as the most valuable treasures of that literature, a veritable
Hebrew Pompeii, have been unearthed from the mould and rubbish of the
libraries within this century. Investigations of the history of Jewish
literature have been possible, then, only during the last fifty years.

But in the course of this half-century, conscientious research has so
actively been prosecuted that we can now gain at least a bird's-eye view
of the whole course of our literature. Some stretches still lie in
shadow, and it is not astonishing that eminent scholars continue to
maintain that "there is no such thing as an organic history, a logical
development, of the gigantic neo-Hebraic literature"; while such as are
acquainted with the results of late research at best concede that
Hebrew literature has been permitted to garner a "tender aftermath."
Both verdicts are untrue and unfair. Jewish literature has developed
organically, and in the course of its evolution it has had its
spring-tide as well as its season of decay, this again followed by
vigorous rejuvenescence.

Such opinions are part and parcel of the vicissitudes of our literature,
in themselves sufficient matter for an interesting book. Strange it
certainly is that a people without a home, without a land, living under
repression and persecution, could produce so great a literature;
stranger still, that it should at first have been preserved and
disseminated, then forgotten, or treated with the disdain of prejudice,
and finally roused from torpid slumber into robust life by the breath of
the modern era. In the neighborhood of twenty-two thousand works are
known to us now. Fifty years ago bibliographers were ignorant of the
existence of half of these, and in the libraries of Italy, England, and
Germany an untold number awaits resurrection.

In fact, our literature has not yet been given a name that recommends
itself to universal acceptance. Some have called it "Rabbinical
Literature," because during the middle ages every Jew of learning bore
the title Rabbi; others, "Neo-Hebraic"; and a third party considers it
purely theological. These names are all inadequate. Perhaps the only one
sufficiently comprehensive is "Jewish Literature." That embraces, as it
should, the aggregate of writings produced by Jews from the earliest
days of their history up to the present time, regardless of form, of
language, and, in the middle ages at least, of subject-matter.

With this definition in mind, we are able to sketch the whole course of
our literature, though in the frame of an essay only in outline. We
shall learn, as Leopold Zunz, the Humboldt of Jewish science, well says,
that it is "intimately bound up with the culture of the ancient world,
with the origin and development of Christianity, and with the scientific
endeavors of the middle ages. Inasmuch as it shares the intellectual
aspirations of the past and the present, their conflicts and their
reverses, it is supplementary to general literature. Its peculiar
features, themselves falling under universal laws, are in turn helpful
in the interpretation of general characteristics. If the aggregate
results of mankind's intellectual activity can be likened unto a sea,
Jewish literature is one of the tributaries that feed it. Like other
literatures and like literature in general, it reveals to the student
what noble ideals the soul of man has cherished, and striven to realize,
and discloses the varied achievements of man's intellectual powers. If
we of to-day are the witnesses and the offspring of an eternal, creative
principle, then, in turn, the present is but the beginning of a future,
that is, the translation of knowledge into life. Spiritual ideals
consciously held by any portion of mankind lend freedom to thought,
grace to feeling, and by sailing up this one stream we may reach the
fountain-head whence have emanated all spiritual forces, and about
which, as a fixed pole, all spiritual currents eddy."[1]

The cornerstone of this Jewish literature is the Bible, or what we call
Old Testament literature--the oldest and at the same time the most
important of Jewish writings. It extends over the period ending with the
second century before the common era; is written, for the most part, in
Hebrew, and is the clearest and the most faithful reflection of the
original characteristics of the Jewish people. This biblical literature
has engaged the closest attention of all nations and every age. Until
the seventeenth century, biblical science was purely dogmatic, and only
since Herder pointed the way have its æsthetic elements been dwelt upon
along with, often in defiance of, dogmatic considerations. Up to this
time, Ernest Meier and Theodor Nöldeke have been the only ones to treat
of the Old Testament with reference to its place in the history of

Despite the dogmatic air clinging to the critical introductions to the
study of the Old Testament, their authors have not shrunk from treating
the book sacred to two religions with childish arbitrariness. Since the
days of Spinoza's essay at rationalistic explanation, Bible criticism
has been the wrestling-ground of the most extravagant exegesis, of bold
hypotheses, and hazardous conjectures. No Latin or Greek classic has
been so ruthlessly attacked and dissected; no mediæval poetry so
arbitrarily interpreted. As a natural consequence, the æsthetic
elements were more and more pushed into the background. Only recently
have we begun to ridicule this craze for hypotheses, and returned to
more sober methods of inquiry. Bible criticism reached the climax of
absurdity, and the scorn was just which greeted one of the most
important works of the critical school, Hitzig's "Explanation of the
Psalms." A reviewer said: "We may entertain the fond hope that, in a
second edition of this clever writer's commentary, he will be in the
enviable position to tell us the day and the hour when each psalm was

The reaction began a few years ago with the recognition of the
inadequacy of Astruc's document hypothesis, until then the creed of all
Bible critics. Astruc, a celebrated French physician, in 1753 advanced
the theory that the Pentateuch--the five books of Moses--consists of two
parallel documents, called respectively Yahvistic and Elohistic, from
the name applied to God in each. On this basis, German science after him
raised a superstructure. No date was deemed too late to be assigned to
the composition of the Pentateuch. If the historian Flavius Josephus had
not existed, and if Jesus had not spoken of "the Law" and "the
prophets," and of the things "which were written in the Law of Moses,
and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms," critics would have been
disposed to transfer the redaction of the Bible to some period of the
Christian era. So wide is the divergence of opinions on the subject
that two learned critics, Ewald and Hitzig, differ in the date assigned
to a certain biblical passage by no less than a thousand years!

Bible archæology, Bible exegesis, and discussions of grammatical
niceties, were confounded with the history of biblical literature, and
naturally it was the latter that suffered by the lack of
differentiation. Orthodoxy assumed a purely divine origin for the Bible,
while sceptics treated the holy book with greater levity than they would
dare display in criticising a modern novel. The one party raised a hue
and cry when Moses was spoken of as the first author; the other
discovered "obscene, rude, even cannibalistic traits"[2] in the sublime
narratives of the Bible. It should be the task of coming generations,
successors by one remove of credulous Bible lovers, and immediate heirs
of thorough-going rationalists, to reconcile and fuse in a higher
conception of the Bible the two divergent theories of its purely divine
and its purely human origin. Unfortunately, it must be admitted that
Ernest Meier is right, when he says, in his "History of the National
Poetry of the Hebrews," that this task wholly belongs to the future; at
present it is an unsolved problem.

The æsthetic is the only proper point of view for a full recognition of
the value of biblical literature. It certainly does not rob the sacred
Scriptures, the perennial source of spiritual comfort, of their exalted
character and divine worth to assume that legend, myth, and history
have combined to produce the perfect harmony which is their imperishable
distinction. The peasant dwelling on inaccessible mountain-heights, next
to the record of Abraham's shepherd life, inscribes the main events of
his own career, the anniversary dates sacred to his family. The young
count among their first impressions that of "the brown folio," and more
vividly than all else remember

    "The maidens fair and true,
      The sages and the heroes bold,
    Whose tale by seers inspired
      In our Book of books is told.

    The simple life and faith
      Of patriarchs of ancient day
    Like angels hover near,
      And guard, and lead them on the way."[3]

Above all, a whole nation has for centuries been living with, and only
by virtue of, this book. Surely this is abundant testimony to the
undying value of the great work, in which the simplest shepherd tales
and the naïvest legends, profound moral saws and magnificent images, the
ideals of a Messianic future and the purest, the most humane conception
of life, alternate with sublime descriptions of nature and the sweet
strains of love-poems, with national songs breathing hope, or trembling
with anguish, and with the dull tones of despairing pessimism and the
divinely inspired hymns of an exalted theodicy--all blending to form
what the reverential love of men has named the Book of books.

It was natural that a book of this kind should become the basis of a
great literature. Whatever was produced in later times had to submit to
be judged by its exalted standard. It became the rule of conduct, the
prophetic mirror reflecting the future work of a nation whose fate was
inextricably bound up with its own. It is not known how and when the
biblical scriptures were welded into one book, a holy canon, but it is
probably correct to assume that it was done by the _Soferim_, the
Scribes, between 200 and 150 B.C.E. At all events, it is certain that
the three divisions of the Bible--the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the
miscellaneous writings--were contained in the Greek version, the
Septuagint, so called from the seventy or seventy-two Alexandrians
supposed to have done the work of translation under Ptolemy

The Greek translation of the Bible marks the beginning of the second
period of Jewish literature, the Judæo-Hellenic. Hebrew ceased to be the
language of the people; it was thenceforth used only by scholars and in
divine worship. Jewish for the first time met Greek intellect. Shem and
Japheth embraced fraternally. "But even while the teachings of Hellas
were pushing their way into subjugated Palestine, seducing Jewish
philosophy to apostasy, and seeking, by main force, to introduce
paganism, the Greek philosophers themselves stood awed by the majesty
and power of the Jewish prophets. Swords and words entered the lists as
champions of Judaism. The vernacular Aramæan, having suffered the Greek
to put its impress upon many of its substantives, refused to yield to
the influence of the Greek verb, and, in the end, Hebrew truth, in the
guise of the teachings of Jesus, undermined the proud structure of the
heathen." This is a most excellent characterization of that literary
period, which lasted about three centuries, ending between 100 and 150
C. E. Its influence upon Jewish literature can scarcely be said to have
been enduring. To it belong all the apocryphal writings which,
originally composed in the Greek language, were for that reason not
incorporated into the Holy Canon. The centre of intellectual life was no
longer in Palestine, but at Alexandria in Egypt, where three hundred
thousand Jews were then living, and thus this literature came to be
called Judæo-Alexandrian. It includes among its writers the last of the
Neoplatonists, particularly Philo, the originator of the allegorical
interpretation of the Bible and of a Jewish philosophy of religion;
Aristeas, and pseudo-Phokylides. There were also Jewish _littérateurs_:
the dramatist Ezekielos; Jason; Philo the Elder; Aristobulus, the
popularizer of the Aristotelian philosophy; Eupolemos, the historian;
and probably the Jewish Sybil, who had to have recourse to the oracular
manner of the pagans to proclaim the truths of Judaism, and to Greek
figures of speech for her apocalyptic visions, which foretold, in
biblical phrase and with prophetic ardor, the future of Israel and of
the nations in contact with it.

Meanwhile the word of the Bible was steadily gaining importance in
Palestine. To search into and expound the sacred text had become the
inheritance of the congregation of Jacob, of those that had not lent ear
to the siren notes of Hellenism. Midrash, as the investigations of the
commentators were called, by and by divided into two streams--Halacha,
which establishes and systematizes the statutes of the Law, and Haggada,
which uses the sacred texts for homiletic, historical, ethical, and
pedagogic discussions. The latter is the poetic, the former, the
legislative, element in the Talmudic writings, whose composition,
extending over a thousand years, constitutes the third, the most
momentous, period of Jewish literature. Of course, none of these periods
can be so sharply defined as a rapid survey might lead one to suppose.
For instance, on the threshold of this third epoch stands the figure of
Flavius Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, who, at once an
enthusiastic Jew and a friend of the Romans, writes the story of his
nation in the Greek language--a character as peculiar as his age, which,
listening to the mocking laughter of a Lucian, saw Olympus overthrown
and its gods dethroned, the Temple at Jerusalem pass away in flame and
smoke, and the new doctrine of the son of the carpenter at Nazareth
begin its victorious course.

By the side of this Janus-faced historian, the heroes of the Talmud
stand enveloped in glory. We meet with men like Hillel and Shammaï,
Jochanan ben Zakkaï, Gamaliel, Joshua ben Chananya, the famous Akiba,
and later on Yehuda the Prince, friend of the imperial philosopher
Marcus Aurelius, and compiler of the Mishna, the authoritative code of
laws superseding all other collections. Then there are the fabulist
Meïr; Simon ben Yochaï, falsely accused of the authorship of the
mystical Kabbala; Chiya; Rab; Samuel, equally famous as a physician and
a rabbi; Jochanan, the supposed compiler of the Jerusalem Talmud; and
Ashi and Abina, the former probably the arranger of the Babylonian
Talmud. This latter Talmud, the one invested with authority among Jews,
by reason of its varying fortunes, is the most marvellous literary
monument extant. Never has book been so hated and so persecuted, so
misjudged and so despised, on the other hand, so prized and so honored,
and, above all, so imperfectly understood, as this very Talmud.

For the Jews and their literature it has had untold significance. That
the Talmud has been the conservator of Judaism is an irrefutable
statement. It is true that the study of the Talmud unduly absorbed the
great intellectual force of its adherents, and brought about a somewhat
one-sided mental development in the Jews; but it also is true, as a
writer says,[4] that "whenever in troublous times scientific inquiry was
laid low; whenever, for any reason, the Jew was excluded from
participation in public life, the study of the Talmud maintained the
elasticity and the vigor of the Jewish mind, and rescued the Jew from
sterile mysticism and spiritual apathy. The Talmud, as a rule, has been
inimical to mysticism, and the most brilliant Talmudists, in propitious
days, have achieved distinguished success in secular science. The Jew
survived ages of bitterness, all the while clinging loyally to his faith
in the midst of hostility, and the first ray of light that penetrated
the walls of the Ghetto found him ready to take part in the intellectual
work of his time. This admirable elasticity of mind he owes, first and
foremost, to the study of the Talmud."

From this much abused Talmud, as from its contemporary the Midrash in
the restricted sense, sprouted forth the blossoms of the Haggada--that

    "Where the beauteous, ancient sagas,
    Angel legends fraught with meaning,
    Martyrs' silent sacrifices,
    Festal songs and wisdom's sayings,

    Trope and allegoric fancies--
    All, howe'er by faith's triumphant
    Glow pervaded--where they gleaming,
    Glist'ning, well in strength exhaustless.

    And the boyish heart responsive
    Drinks the wild, fantastic sweetness,
    Greets the woful, wondrous anguish,
    Yields to grewsome charm of myst'ry,

    Hid in blessed worlds of fable.
    Overawed it hearkens solemn
    To that sacred revelation
    Mortal man hath poetry called."[5]

A story from the Midrash charmingly characterizes the relation between
Halacha and Haggada. Two rabbis, Chiya bar Abba, a Halachist, and
Abbahu, a Haggadist, happened to be lecturing in the same town. Abbahu,
the Haggadist, was always listened to by great crowds, while Chiya, with
his Halacha, stood practically deserted. The Haggadist comforted the
disappointed teacher with a parable. "Let us suppose two merchants," he
said, "to come to town, and offer wares for sale. The one has pearls and
precious gems to display, the other, cheap finery, gilt chains, rings,
and gaudy ribbons. About whose booth, think you, does the crowd
press?--Formerly, when the struggle for existence was not fierce and
inevitable, men had leisure and desire for the profound teachings of the
Law; now they need the cheering words of consolation and hope."

For more than a thousand years this nameless spirit of national poesy
was abroad, and produced manifold works, which, in the course of time,
were gathered together into comprehensive collections, variously named
Midrash Rabba, Pesikta, Tanchuma, etc. Their compilation was begun in
about 700 C. E., that is, soon after the close of the Talmud, in the
transition period from the third epoch of Jewish literature to the
fourth, the golden age, which lasted from the ninth to the fifteenth
century, and, according to the law of human products, shows a season of
growth, blossom, and decay.

The scene of action during this period was western Asia, northern
Africa, sometimes Italy and France, but chiefly Spain, where Arabic
culture, destined to influence Jewish thought to an incalculable degree,
was at that time at its zenith. "A second time the Jews were drawn into
the vortex of a foreign civilization, and two hundred years after
Mohammed, Jews in Kairwan and Bagdad were speaking the same language,
Arabic. A language once again became the mediatrix between Jewish and
general literature, and the best minds of the two races, by means of the
language, reciprocally influenced each other. Jews, as they once had
written Greek for their brethren, now wrote Arabic; and, as in
Hellenistic times, the civilization of the dominant race, both in its
original features and in its adaptations from foreign sources, was
reflected in that of the Jews." It would be interesting to analyze this
important process of assimilation, but we can concern ourselves only
with the works of the Jewish intellect. Again we meet, at the threshold
of the period, a characteristic figure, the thinker Sa'adia, ranking
high as author and religious philosopher, known also as a grammarian and
a poet. He is followed by Sherira, to whom we owe the beginnings of a
history of Talmudic literature, and his son Haï Gaon, a strictly
orthodox teacher of the Law. In their wake come troops of physicians,
theologians, lexicographers, Talmudists, and grammarians. Great is the
circle of our national literature: it embraces theology, philosophy,
exegesis, grammar, poetry, and jurisprudence, yea, even astronomy and
chronology, mathematics and medicine. But these widely varying subjects
constitute only one class, inasmuch as they all are infused with the
spirit of Judaism, and subordinate themselves to its demands. A mention
of the prominent actors would turn this whole essay into a dry list of
names. Therefore it is better for us merely to sketch the period in
outline, dwelling only on its greatest poets and philosophers, the
moulders of its character.

The opinion is current that the Semitic race lacks the philosophic
faculty. Yet it cannot be denied that Jews were the first to carry Greek
philosophy to Europe, teaching and developing it there before its
dissemination by celebrated Arabs. In their zeal to harmonize philosophy
with their religion, and in the lesser endeavor to defend traditional
Judaism against the polemic attacks of a new sect, the Karaites, they
invested the Aristotelian system with peculiar features, making it, as
it were, their national philosophy. At all events, it must be
universally accepted that the Jews share with the Arabs the merit "of
having cherished the study of philosophy during centuries of barbarism,
and of having for a long time exerted a civilizing influence upon

The meagre achievements of the Jews in the departments of history and
history of literature do not justify the conclusion that they are
wanting in historic perception. The lack of writings on these subjects
is traceable to the sufferings and persecutions that have marked their
pathway. Before their chroniclers had time to record past afflictions,
new sorrows and troubles broke in upon them. In the middle ages, the
history of Jewish literature is the entire history of the Jewish people,
its course outlined by blood and watered by rivers of tears, at whose
source the genius of Jewish poetry sits lamenting. "The Orient dwells an
exile in the Occident," Franz Delitzsch, the first alien to give loving
study to this literature, poetically says, "and its tears of longing for
home are the fountain-head of Jewish poetry."[6]

That poetry reached its perfection in the works of the celebrated trio,
Solomon Gabirol, Yehuda Halevi, and Moses ben Ezra. Their dazzling
triumphs had been heralded by the more modest achievements of Abitur,
writing Hebrew, and Adia and the poetess Xemona (Kasmune) using Arabic,
to sing the praise of God and lament the woes of Israel.

The predominant, but not exclusive, characteristic of Jewish poetry is
its religious strain. Great thinkers, men equipped with philosophic
training, and at the same time endowed with poetic gifts, have
contributed to the huge volume of synagogue poetry, whose subjects are
praise of the Lord and regret for Zion. The sorrow for our lost
fatherland has never taken on more glowing colors, never been expressed
in fuller tones than in this poetry. As ancient Hebrew poetry flowed in
the two streams of prophecy and psalmody, so the Jewish poetry of the
middle ages was divided into _Piut_ and _Selicha_. Songs of hope and
despair, cries of revenge, exhortations to peace among men, elegies on
every single persecution, and laments for Zion, follow each other in
kaleidoscopic succession. Unfortunately, there never was lack of
historic matter for this poetry to elaborate. To furnish that was the
well-accomplished task of rulers and priests in the middle ages, alike
"in the realm of the Islamic king of kings and in that of the apostolic
servant of servants." So fate made this poetry classical and eminently
national. Those characteristics which, in general literature, earn for a
work the description "Homeric," in Jewish literature make a liturgical
poem "Kaliric," so called from the poet Eliezer Kalir, the subject of
many mythical tales, and the first of a long line of poets, Spanish,
French, and German, extending to the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
The literary history of this epoch has been written by Leopold Zunz with
warmth of feeling and stupendous learning. He closes his work with the
hope that mankind, at some future day, will adopt Israel's religious
poetry as its own, transforming the elegiac _Selicha_ into a joyous
psalm of universal peace and good-will.

Side by side with religious flourishes secular poetry, clothing itself
in rhyme and metre, adopting every current form of poesy, and treating
of every appropriate subject. Its first votary was Solomon Gabirol, that

    "Human nightingale that warbled
    Forth her songs of tender love,
    In the darkness of the sombre,
    Gothic mediæval night.

    She, that nightingale, sang only,
    Sobbing forth her adoration,
    To her Lord, her God, in heaven,
    Whom her songs of praise extolled."[7]

Solomon Gabirol may be said to have been the first poet thrilled by
_Weltschmerz_. "He produced hymns and songs, penitential prayers,
psalms, and threnodies, filled with hope and longing for a blessed
future. They are marked throughout by austere earnestness, brushing
away, in its rigor, the color and bloom of life; but side by side with
it, surging forth from the deepest recesses of a human soul, is humble
adoration of God."

Gabirol was a distinguished philosopher besides. In 1150, his chief
work, "The Fount of Life," was translated into Latin by Archdeacon
Dominicus Gundisalvi, with the help of Johannes Avendeath, an apostate
Jew, the author's name being corrupted into Avencebrol, later becoming
Avicebron. The work was made a text-book of scholastic philosophy, but
neither Scotists nor Thomists, neither adherents nor detractors,
suspected that a heretical Jew was slumbering under the name Avicebron.
It remained for an inquirer of our own day, Solomon Munk, to reveal the
face of Gabirol under the mask of a garbled name. Amazed, we behold that
the pessimistic philosopher of to-day can as little as the schoolmen of
the middle ages shake himself free from the despised Jew. Schopenhauer
may object as he will, it is certain that Gabirol was his predecessor by
more than eight hundred years!

Charisi, whom we shall presently meet, has expressed the verdict on his
poetry which still holds good: "Solomon Gabirol pleases to call himself
the small--yet before him all the great must dwindle and fall.--Who can
like him with mighty speech appall?--Compared with him the poets of his
time are without power--he, the small, alone is a tower.--The highest
round of poetry's ladder has he won.--Wisdom fondled him, eloquence hath
called him son--and clothing him with purple, said: 'Lo!--my first-born
son, go forth, to conquest go!'--His predecessors' songs are naught with
his compared--nor have his many followers better fared.--The later
singers by him were taught--the heirs they are of his poetic
thought.--But still he's king, to him all praise belongs--for Solomon's
is the Song of Songs."

By Gabirol's side stands Yehuda Halevi, probably the only Jewish poet
known to the reader of general literature, to whom his name, life, and
fate have become familiar through Heinrich Heine's _Romanzero_. His
magnificent descriptions of nature "reflect southern skies, verdant
meadows, deep blue rivers, and the stormy sea," and his erotic lyrics
are chaste and tender. He sounds the praise of wine, youth, and
happiness, and extols the charms of his lady-love, but above and beyond
all he devotes his song to Zion and his people. The pearl of his poems

    "Is the famous lamentation
    Sung in all the tents of Jacob,
    Scattered wide upon the earth ...

    Yea, it is the song of Zion,
    Which Yehuda ben Halevy,
    Dying on the holy ruins,
    Sang of loved Jerusalem."[8]

"In the whole compass of religious poetry, Milton's and Klopstock's not
excepted, nothing can be found to surpass the elegy of Zion," says a
modern writer, a non-Jew.[9] This soul-stirring "Lay of Zion," better
than any number of critical dissertations, will give the reader a clear
insight into the character and spirit of Jewish poetry in general:

    O Zion! of thine exiles' peace take thought,
    The remnant of thy flock, who thine have sought!
    From west, from east, from north and south resounds,
    Afar and now anear, from all thy bounds,
              And no surcease,
              "With thee be peace!"

    In longing's fetters chained I greet thee, too,
    My tears fast welling forth like Hermon's dew--
    O bliss could they but drop on holy hills!
    A croaking bird I turn, when through me thrills
    Thy desolate state; but when I dream anon,
    The Lord brings back thy ev'ry captive son--
              A harp straightway
              To sing thy lay.

    In heart I dwell where once thy purest son
    At Bethel and Peniel, triumphs won;
    God's awesome presence there was close to thee,
    Whose doors thy Maker, by divine decree,
          Opposed as mates
          To heaven's gates.

    Nor sun, nor moon, nor stars had need to be;
    God's countenance alone illumined thee
    On whose elect He poured his spirit out.
    In thee would I my soul pour forth devout!
    Thou wert the kingdom's seat, of God the throne,
    And now there dwells a slave race, not thine own,
          In royal state,
          Where reigned thy great.

    O would that I could roam o'er ev'ry place
    Where God to missioned prophets showed His grace!
    And who will give me wings? An off'ring meet,
    I'd haste to lay upon thy shattered seat,
          Thy counterpart--
          My bruisèd heart.

    Upon thy precious ground I'd fall prostrate,
    Thy stones caress, the dust within thy gate,
    And happiness it were in awe to stand
    At Hebron's graves, the treasures of thy land,
    And greet thy woods, thy vine-clad slopes, thy vales,
    Greet Abarim and Hor, whose light ne'er pales,
          A radiant crown,
          Thy priests' renown.

    Thy air is balm for souls; like myrrh thy sand;
    With honey run the rivers of thy land.
    Though bare my feet, my heart's delight I'd count
    To thread my way all o'er thy desert mount,
          Where once rose tall
          Thy holy hall,

    Where stood thy treasure-ark, in recess dim,
    Close-curtained, guarded o'er by cherubim.
    My Naz'rite's crown would I pluck off, and cast
    It gladly forth. With curses would I blast
    The impious time thy people, diadem-crowned,
    Thy Nazirites, did pass, by en'mies bound
          With hatred's bands,
          In unclean lands.

    By dogs thy lusty lions are brutal torn
    And dragged; thy strong, young eaglets, heav'nward
    By foul-mouthed ravens snatched, and all undone.
    Can food still tempt my taste? Can light of sun
          Seem fair to shine
          To eyes like mine?

    Soft, soft! Leave off a while, O cup of pain!
    My loins are weighted down, my heart and brain,
    With bitterness from thee. Whene'er I think
    Of Oholah,[10] proud northern queen, I drink
    Thy wrath, and when my Oholivah forlorn
    Comes back to mind--'tis then I quaff thy scorn,
          Then, draught of pain,
          Thy lees I drain.

    O Zion! Crown of grace! Thy comeliness
    Hath ever favor won and fond caress.
    Thy faithful lovers' lives are bound in thine;
    They joy in thy security, but pine
          And weep in gloom
          O'er thy sad doom.

    From out the prisoner's cell they sigh for thee,
    And each in prayer, wherever he may be,
    Towards thy demolished portals turns. Exiled,
    Dispersed from mount to hill, thy flock defiled
    Hath not forgot thy sheltering fold. They grasp
    Thy garment's hem, and trustful, eager, clasp,
              With outstretched arms,
              Thy branching palms.

    Shinar, Pathros--can they in majesty
    With thee compare? Or their idolatry
    With thy Urim and thy Thummim august?
    Who can surpass thy priests, thy saintly just,
              Thy prophets bold,
              And bards of old?

    The heathen kingdoms change and wholly cease--
    Thy might alone stands firm without decrease,
    Thy Nazirites from age to age abide,
    Thy God in thee desireth to reside.
    Then happy he who maketh choice of thee
    To dwell within thy courts, and waits to see,
              And toils to make,
              Thy light awake.

    On him shall as the morning break thy light,
    The bliss of thy elect shall glad his sight,
    In thy felicities shall he rejoice,
    In triumph sweet exult, with jubilant voice,
              O'er thee, adored,
              To youth restored.

We have loitered long with Yehuda Halevi, and still not long enough, for
we have not yet spoken of his claims to the title philosopher, won for
him by his book _Al-Chazari_. But now we must hurry on to Moses ben
Ezra, the last and most worldly of the three great poets. He devotes his
genius to his patrons, to wine, his faithless mistress, and to
"bacchanalian feasts under leafy canopies, with merry minstrelsy of
birds." He laments over separation from friends and kin, weeps over the
shortness of life and the rapid approach of hoary age--all in polished
language, sometimes, however, lacking euphony. Even when he strikes his
lyre in praise and honor of his people Israel, he fails to rise to the
lofty heights attained by his mates in song.

With Yehuda Charisi, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the
period of the epigones sets in for Spanish-Jewish literature. In
Charisi's _Tachkemoni_, an imitation of the poetry of the Arab Hariri,
jest and serious criticism, joy and grief, the sublime and the trivial,
follow each other like tints in a parti-colored skein. His distinction
is the ease with which he plays upon the Hebrew language, not the most
pliable of instruments. In general, Jewish poets and philosophers have
manipulated that language with surprising dexterity. Songs, hymns,
elegies, penitential prayers, exhortations, and religious meditations,
generation after generation, were couched in the idiom of the psalmist,
yet the structure of the language underwent no change. "The development
of the neo-Hebraic idiom from the ancient Hebrew," a distinguished
modern ethnographer justly says, "confirms, by linguistic evidence, the
plasticity, the logical acumen, the comprehensive and at the same time
versatile intellectuality of the Jewish race. By the ingenious
compounding of words, by investing old expressions with new meanings,
and adapting the material offered by alien or related languages to its
own purposes, it has increased and enriched a comparatively meagre
treasury of words."[11]

Side by side with this cosmopolitanism, illustrated in the Haggada,
whose pages prove that nothing human is strange to the Jewish race, it
reveals, in its literary development, as notably in the Halacha, a
sharply defined subjectivity. Jellinek says: "Not losing itself in the
contemplation of the phenomena of life, not devoting itself to any
subject unless it be with an ulterior purpose, but seeing all things in
their relation to itself, and subordinating them to its own boldly
asserted _ego_, the Jewish race is not inclined to apply its powers to
the solution of intricate philosophic problems, or to abstruse
metaphysical speculations. It is, therefore, not a philosophic race, and
its participation in the philosophic work of the world dates only from
its contact with the Greeks." The same author, on the other hand,
emphasizes the liberality, the broad sympathies, of the Jewish race, in
his statement that the Jewish mind, at its first meeting with Arabic
philosophy, absorbed it as a leaven into its intellectual life. The
product of the assimilation was--as early as the twelfth century, mark
you--a philosophic conception of life, whose broad liberality culminates
in the sentiment expressed by two most eminent thinkers: Christianity
and Islam are the precursors of a world-religion, the preliminary
conditions for the great religious system satisfying all men. Yehuda
Halevi and Moses Maimonides were the philosophers bold enough to utter
this thought of far-reaching significance.

The second efflorescence of Jewish poetry brings forth exotic romances,
satires, verbose hymns, and humorous narrative poems. Such productions
certainly do not justify the application of the epithet "theological" to
Jewish literature. Solomon ben Sakbel composes a satiric romance in the
Makamat[12] form, describing the varied adventures of Asher ben Yehuda,
another Don Quixote; Berachya Hanakdan puts into Hebrew the fables of
Æsop and Lokman, furnishing La Fontaine with some of his material;
Abraham ibn Sahl receives from the Arabs, certainly not noted for
liberality, ten goldpieces for each of his love-songs; Santob de Carrion
is a beloved Spanish bard, bold enough to tell unpleasant truths unto a
king; Joseph ibn Sabara writes a humorous romance; Yehuda Sabbataï, epic
satires, "The War of Wealth and Wisdom," and "A Gift from a Misogynist,"
and unnamed authors, "Truth's Campaign," and "Praise of Women."

A satirist of more than ordinary gifts was the Italian Kalonymos, whose
"Touchstone," like Ibn Chasdaï's Makamat, "The Prince and the Dervish,"
has been translated into German. Contemporaneous with them was Süsskind
von Trimberg, the Suabian minnesinger, and Samson Pnie, of Strasburg,
who helped the German poets continue _Parzival_, while later on, in
Italy, Moses Rieti composed "The Paradise" in Hebrew _terza-rima_.

In the decadence of Jewish literature, the most prominent figure is
Immanuel ben Solomon, or Manoello, as the Italians call him. Critics
think him the precursor of Boccaccio, and history knows him as the
friend of Dante, whose _Divina Commedia_ he travestied in Hebrew. The
author of the first Hebrew sonnet and of the first Hebrew novel, he was
a talented writer, but as frivolous as talented.

This is the development of Jewish poetry during its great period. In
other departments of literature, in philosophy, in theology, in ethics,
in Bible exegesis, the race is equally prolific in minds of the first
order. Glancing back for a moment, our eye is arrested by Moses
Maimonides, the great systematizer of the Jewish Law, and the connecting
link between scholasticism and the Greek-Arabic development of the
Aristotelian system. Before his time Bechaï ibn Pakuda and Joseph ibn
Zadik had entered upon theosophic speculations with the object of
harmonizing Arabic and Greek philosophy, and in the age immediately
preceding that of Maimonides, Abraham ibn Daud, a writer of surprisingly
liberal views, had undertaken, in "The Highest Faith," the task of
reconciling faith with philosophy. At the same time rationalistic Bible
exegesis was begun by Abraham ibn Ezra, an acute but reckless
controversialist. Orthodox interpretations of the Bible had, before him,
been taught in France by Rashi (Solomon Yitschaki) and Samuel ben Meïr,
and continued by German rabbis, who, at the same time, were preachers of
morality--a noteworthy phenomenon in a persecuted tribe. "How pure and
strong its ethical principles were is shown by its religious poetry as
well as by its practical Law. What pervades the poetry as a high ideal,
in the application of the Law becomes demonstrable reality. The wrapt
enthusiasm in the hymns of Samuel the Pious and other poets is embodied,
lives, in the rulings of Yehuda Hakohen, Solomon Yitschaki, and Jacob
ben Meïr; in the legal opinions of Isaac ben Abraham, Eliezer ha-Levi,
Isaac ben Moses, Meïr ben Baruch, and their successors, and in the
codices of Eliezer of Metz and Moses de Coucy. A German professor[13] of
a hundred years ago, after glancing through some few Jewish writings,
exclaimed, in a tone of condescending approval: 'Christians of that time
could scarcely have been expected to enjoin such high moral principles
as this Jew wrote down and bequeathed to his brethren in faith!'"

Jewish literature in this and the next period consists largely of
theological discussions and of commentaries on the Talmud produced by
the hundred. It would be idle to name even the most prominent authors;
their works belong to the history of theologic science, and rarely had a
determining influence upon the development of genuine literature.

We must also pass over in silence the numerous Jewish physicians and
medical writers; but it must be remembered that they, too, belong to
Jewish literature. The most marvellous characteristic of this literature
is that in it the Jewish race has registered each step of its
development. "All things learned, gathered, obtained, on its journeyings
hither and thither--Greek philosophy and Arabic, as well as Latin
scholasticism--all deposited themselves in layers about the Bible, so
stamping later Jewish literature with an individuality that gave it an
unique place among the literatures of the world."

The travellers, however, must be mentioned by name. Their itineraries
were wholly dedicated to the interests of their co-religionists. The
first of the line is Eldad, the narrator of a sort of Hebrew Odyssey.
Benjamin of Tudela and Petachya of Ratisbon are deserving of more
confidence as veracious chroniclers, and their descriptions, together
with Charisi's, complete the Jewish library of travels of those early
days, unless, with Steinschneider, we consider, as we truly may, the
majority of Jewish authors under this head. For Jewish writers a hard,
necessitous lot has ever been a storm wind, tossing them hither and
thither, and blowing the seeds of knowledge over all lands. Withal
learning proved an enveloping, protecting cloak to these mendicant and
pilgrim authors. The dispersion of the Jews, their international
commerce, and the desire to maintain their academies, stimulated a love
for travel, made frequent journeyings a necessity, indeed. In this way
only can we account for the extraordinarily rapid spread of Jewish
literature in the middle ages. The student of those times often chances
across a rabbi, who this day teaches, lectures, writes in Candia,
to-morrow in Rome, next year in Prague or Cracow, and so Jewish
literature is the "wandering Jew" among the world's literatures.

The fourth period, the Augustan age of our literature, closes with a
jarring discord--the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, their second
home, in which they had seen ministers, princes, professors, and poets
rise from their ranks. The scene of literary activity changes: France,
Italy, but chiefly the Slavonic East, are pushed into the foreground. It
is not a salutary change; it ushers in three centuries of decay and
stagnation in literary endeavor. The sum of the efforts is indicated by
the name of the period, the Rabbinical, for its chief work was the
development and fixation of Rabbinism.

Decadence did not set in immediately. Certain beneficent forces, either
continuing in action from the former period, or arising out of the new
concatenation of circumstances, were in operation: Jewish exiles from
Spain carried their culture to the asylums hospitably offered them in
the Orient and a few of the European countries, notably Holland; the art
of printing was spreading, the first presses in Italy bringing out
Jewish works; and the sun of humanism and of the Reformation was rising
and shedding solitary rays of its effulgence on the Jewish minds then at

Among the noteworthy authors standing between the two periods and
belonging to both, the most prominent is Nachmanides, a pious and
learned Bible scholar. With logical force and critical candor he entered
into the great conflict between science and faith, then dividing the
Jewish world into two camps, with Maimonides' works as their shibboleth.
The Aristotelian philosophy was no longer satisfying. Minds and hearts
were yearning for a new revelation, and in default thereof steeping
themselves in mystical speculations. A voluminous theosophic literature
sprang up. The _Zohar_, the Bible of mysticism, was circulated, its
authorship being fastened upon a rabbi of olden days. It is altogether
probable that the real author was living at the time; many think that it
was Moses de Leon. The liberal party counted in its ranks the two
distinguished families of Tibbon and Kimchi, the former famed as
successful translators, the latter as grammarians. Their best known
representatives were Judah ibn Tibbon and David Kimchi. Curiously
enough, the will of the former contains, in unmistakable terms, the
opinion that "Property is theft," anticipating Proudhon, who, had he
known it, would have seen in its early enunciation additional testimony
to its truth. The liberal faction was also supported by Jacob ben
Abba-Mari, the friend of Frederick II. and Michael Scotus. Abba-Mari
lived at the German emperor's court at Naples, and quoted him in his
commentary upon the Bible as an exegete. Besides there were among the
Maimunists, or rationalists, Levi ben Abraham, an extraordinarily
liberal man; Shemtob Palquera, one of the most learned Jews of his
century, and Yedaya Penini, a philosopher and pessimistic poet, whose
"Contemplation of the World" was translated by Mendelssohn, and praised
by Lessing and Goethe. Despite this array of talent, the opponents were
stronger, the most representative partisan being the Talmudist Solomon
ben Aderet.

At the same time disputations about the Talmud, ending with its public
burning at Paris, were carried on with the Christian clergy. The other
literary current of the age is designated by the word Kabbala, which
held many of the finest and noblest minds captive to its witchery. The
Kabbala is unquestionably a continuation of earlier theosophic
inquiries. Its chief doctrines have been stated by a thorough student of
our literature: All that exists originates in God, the source of light
eternal. He Himself can be known only through His manifestations. He is
without beginning, and veiled in mystery, or, He is nothing, because the
whole of creation has developed from nothing. This nothing is one,
indivisible, and limitless--_En-Sof_. God fills space, He is space
itself. In order to manifest Himself, in order to create, that is,
disclose Himself by means of emanations, He contracts, thus producing
vacant space. The _En-Sof_ first manifested itself in the prototype of
the whole of creation, in the macrocosm called the "son of God," the
first man, as he appears upon the chariot of Ezekiel. From this
primitive man the whole created world emanates in four stages: _Azila_,
_Beria_, _Yezira_, _Asiya_. The _Azila_ emanation represents the active
qualities of primitive man. They are forces or intelligences flowing
from him, at once his essential qualities and the faculties by which he
acts. There are ten of these forces, forming the ten sacred _Sefiroth_,
a word which first meaning number came to stand for sphere. The first
three _Sefiroth_ are intelligences, the seven others, attributes. They
are supposed to follow each other in this order: 1. _Kether_ (crown); 2.
_Chochma_ (wisdom); 3. _Beena_ (understanding); 4. _Chesed_ (grace), or
_Ghedulla_ (greatness); 5. _Ghevoora_ (dignity); 6. _Tifereth_
(splendor); 7. _Nezach_ (victory); 8. _Hod_ (majesty); 9. _Yesod_
(principle); 10. _Malchuth_ (kingdom). From this first world of the
_Azila_ emanate the three other worlds, _Asiya_ being the lowest stage.
Man has part in these three worlds; a microcosm, he realizes in his
actual being what is foreshadowed by the ideal, primitive man. He holds
to the _Asiya_ by his vital part (_Nefesh_), to the _Yezira_ by his
intellect (_Ruach_), to the _Beria_ by his soul (_Neshama_). The last is
his immortal part, a spark of divinity.

Speculations like these, followed to their logical issue, are bound to
lead the investigator out of Judaism into Trinitarianism or Pantheism.
Kabbalists, of course only in rare cases, realized the danger. The sad
conditions prevailing in the era after the expulsion from Spain, a third
exile, were in all respects calculated to promote the development of
mysticism, and it did flourish luxuriantly.

Some few philosophers, the last of a long line, still await mention:
Levi ben Gerson, Joseph Kaspi, Moses of Narbonne in southern France,
long a seat of Jewish learning; then, Isaac ben Sheshet, Chasdaï
Crescas, whose "Light of God" exercised deep influence upon Spinoza and
his philosophy; the Duran family, particularly Profiat Duran, successful
defender of Judaism against the attacks of apostates and Christians; and
Joseph Albo, who in his principal philosophic work, _Ikkarim_, shows
Judaism to be based upon three fundamental doctrines: the belief in the
existence of God, Revelation, and the belief in future reward and
punishment. These writers are the last to reflect the glories of the
golden age.

At the entrance to the next period we again meet a man of extraordinary
ability, Isaac Abrabanel, one of the most eminent and esteemed of Bible
commentators, in early life minister to a Catholic king, later on a
pilgrim scholar wandering about exiled with his sons, one of whom,
Yehuda, has fame as the author of the _Dialoghi di Amore_. In the train
of exiles passing from Portugal to the Orient are Abraham Zacuto, an
eminent historian of Jewish literature and sometime professor of
astronomy at the university of Salamanca; Joseph ibn Verga, the
historian of his nation; Amatus Lusitanus, who came close upon the
discovery of the circulation of the blood; Israel Nagara, the most
gifted poet of the century, whose hymns brought him popular favor;
later, Joseph Karo, "the most influential personage of the sixteenth
century," his claims upon recognition resting on the _Shulchan Aruch_,
an exhaustive codex of Jewish customs and laws; and many others. In
Salonica, the exiles soon formed a prosperous community, where
flourished Jacob ibn Chabib, the first compiler of the Haggadistic tales
of the Talmud, and afterwards David Conforte, a reputable historian. In
Jerusalem, Obadiah Bertinoro was engaged on his celebrated Mishna
commentary, in the midst of a large circle of Kabbalists, of whom
Solomon Alkabez is the best known on account of his famous Sabbath song,
_Lecho Dodi_. Once again Jerusalem was the objective point of many
pilgrims, lured thither by the prevalent Kabbalistic and Messianic
vagaries. True literature gained little from such extremists. The only
work produced by them that can be admitted to have literary qualities is
Isaiah Hurwitz's "The Two Tables of the Testimony," even at this day
enjoying celebrity. It is a sort of cyclopædia of Jewish learning,
compiled and expounded from a mystic's point of view.

The condition of the Jews in Italy was favorable, and their literary
products derive grace from their good fortune. The Renaissance had a
benign effect upon them, and the revival of classical studies influenced
their intellectual work. Greek thought met Jewish a third time. Learning
was enjoying its resurrection, and whenever their wretched political
and social condition was not a hindrance, the Jews joined in the
general delight. Their misery, however, was an undiminishing burden,
yea, even in the days in which, according to Erasmus, it was joy to
live. In fact, it was growing heavier. All the more noteworthy is it
that Hebrew studies engaged the research of scholars, albeit they showed
care for the word of God, and not for His people. Pico della Mirandola
studies the Kabbala; the Jewish grammarian Elias Levita is the teacher
of Cardinal Egidio de Viterbo, and later of Paul Fagius and Sebastian
Münster, the latter translating his teacher's works into Latin; popes
and sultans prefer Jews as their physicians in ordinary, who, as a rule,
are men of literary distinction; the Jews translate philosophic writings
from Hebrew and Arabic into Latin; Elias del Medigo is summoned as
arbiter in the scholastic conflict at the University of Padua;--all
boots nothing, ruin is not averted. Reuchlin may protest as he will, the
Jew is exiled, the Talmud burnt.

In such dreary days the Portuguese Samuel Usque writes his work,
_Consolaçam as Tribulações de Ysrael_, and Joseph Cohen, his chronicle,
"The Vale of Weeping," the most important history produced since the day
of Flavius Josephus,--additional proofs that the race possesses native
buoyancy, and undaunted heroism in enduring suffering. Women, too, in
increasing number, participate in the spiritual work of their nation;
among them, Deborah Ascarelli and Sara Copia Sullam, the most
distinguished of a long array of names.

The keen critic and scholar, Azariah de Rossi, is one of the literary
giants of his period. His researches in the history of Jewish literature
are the basis upon which subsequent work in this department rests, and
many of his conclusions still stand unassailable. About him are grouped
Abraham de Portaleone, an excellent archæologist, who established that
Jews had been the first to observe the medicinal uses of gold; David de
Pomis, the author of a famous defense of Jewish physicians; and Leo de
Modena, the rabbi of Venice, "unstable as water," wavering between faith
and unbelief, and, Kabbalist and rabbi though he was, writing works
against the Kabbala on the one hand, and against rabbinical tradition on
the other. Similar to him in character is Joseph del Medigo, an
itinerant author, who sometimes reviles, sometimes extols, the Kabbala.

There are men of higher calibre, as, for instance, Isaac Aboab, whose
_Nomologia_ undertakes to defend Jewish tradition against every sort of
assailant; Samuel Aboab, a great Bible scholar; Azariah Figo, a famous
preacher; and, above all, Moses Chayyim Luzzatto, the first Jewish
dramatist, the dramas preceding his having interest only as attempts.
He, too, is caught in the meshes of the Kabbala, and falls a victim to
its powers of darkness. His dramas testify to poetic gifts and to
extraordinary mastery of the Hebrew language, the faithful companion of
the Jewish nation in all its journeyings. To complete this sketch of the
Italian Jews of that period, it should be added that while in intellect
and attainments they stand above their brethren in faith of other
countries, in character and purity of morals they are their inferiors.

Thereafter literary interest centres in Poland, where rabbinical
literature found its most zealous and most learned exponents. Throughout
the land schools were established, in which the Talmud was taught by the
_Pilpul_, an ingenious, quibbling method of Talmudic reasoning and
discussion, said to have originated with Jacob Pollak. Again we have a
long succession of distinguished names. There are Solomon Luria, Moses
Isserles, Joel Sirkes, David ben Levi, Sabbataï Kohen, and Elias Wilna.
Sabbataï Kohen, from whom, were pride of ancestry permissible in the
republic of letters, the present writer would boast descent, was not
only a Talmudic writer; he also left historical and poetical works.
Elias Wilna, the last in the list, had a subtle, delicately poised mind,
and deserves special mention for his determined opposition to the
Kabbala and its offspring Chassidism, hostile and ruinous to Judaism and
Jewish learning.

A gleam of true pleasure can be obtained from the history of the Dutch
Jews. In Holland the Jews united secular culture with religious
devotion, and the professors of other faiths met them with tolerance and
friendliness. Sunshine falls upon the Jewish schools, and right into the
heart of a youth, who straightway abandons the Talmud folios, and goes
out into the world to proclaim to wondering mankind the evangel of a
new philosophy. The youth is Baruch Spinoza!

There are many left to expound Judaism: Manasseh ben Israel, writing
both Hebrew and Latin books to plead the cause of the emancipation of
his people and of its literary pre-eminence; David Neto, a student of
philosophy; Benjamin Mussafia, Orobio de Castro, David Abenator Melo,
the Spanish translator of the Psalms, and Daniel de Barrios, poet and
critic--all using their rapidly acquired fluency in the Dutch language
to champion the cause of their people.

In Germany, a mixture of German and Hebrew had come into use among the
Jews as the medium of daily intercourse. In this peculiar patois, called
_Judendeutsch_, a large literature had developed. Before Luther's time,
it possessed two fine translations of the Bible, besides numerous
writings of an ethical, poetical, and historical character, among which
particular mention should be made of those on the German legend-cycles
of the middle ages. At the same time, the Talmud receives its due of
time, effort, and talent. New life comes only with the era of
emancipation and enlightenment.

Only a few names shall be mentioned, the rest would be bound soon to
escape the memory of the casual reader: there is an historian, David
Gans; a bibliographer, Sabbataï Bassista, and the Talmudists Abigedor
Kara, Jacob Joshua, Jacob Emden, Jonathan Eibeschütz, and Ezekiel
Landau. It is delight to be able once again to chronicle the interest
taken in long neglected Jewish literature by such Christian scholars as
the two Buxtorfs, Bartolocci, Wolff, Surrenhuys, and De Rossi.
Unfortunately, the interest dies out with them, and it is significant
that to this day most eminent theologians, decidedly to their own
disadvantage, "content themselves with unreliable secondary sources,"
instead of drinking from the fountain itself.

We have arrived at the sixth and last period, our own, not yet
completed, whose fruits will be judged by a future generation. It is the
period of the rejuvenescence of Jewish literature. Changes in character,
tenor, form, and language take place. Germany for the first time is in
the van, and Mendelssohn, its most attractive figure, stands at the
beginning of the period, surrounded by his disciples Wessely, Homberg,
Euchel, Friedländer, and others, in conjunction with whom he gives Jews
a new, pure German Bible translation. Poetry and philology are zealously
pursued, and soon Jewish science, through its votaries Leopold Zunz and
S. J. Rappaport, celebrates a brilliant renascence, such as the poet
describes: "In the distant East the dawn is breaking,--The olden times
are growing young again."

_Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden_, by Zunz, published in 1832,
was the pioneer work of the new Jewish science, whose present
development, despite its wide range, has not yet exhausted the
suggestions made, by the author. Other equally important works from the
same pen followed, and then came the researches of Rappaport, Z.
Frankel, I. M. Jost, M. Sachs, S. D. Luzzatto, S. Munk, A. Geiger, L.
Herzfeld, H. Graetz, J. Fürst, L. Dukes, M. Steinschneider, D. Cassel,
S. Holdheim, and a host of minor investigators and teachers. Their
loving devotion roused Jewish science and literature from their secular
sleep to vigorous, intellectual life, reacting beneficently on the
spiritual development of Judaism itself. The moulders of the new
literature are such men as the celebrated preachers Adolf Jellinek,
Salomon, Kley, Mannheimer; the able thinkers Steinheim, Hirsch,
Krochmal; the illustrious scholars M. Lazarus, H. Steinthal; and the
versatile journalists G. Riesser and L. Philipson.

Poetry has not been neglected in the general revival. The first Jewish
poet to write in German was M. E. Kuh, whose tragic fate has been
pathetically told by Berthold Auerbach in his _Dichter und Kaufmann_.
The burden of this modern Jewish poetry is, of course, the glorification
of the loyalty and fortitude that preserved the race during a calamitous
past. Such poets as Steinheim, Wihl, L. A. Frankl, M. Beer, K. Beck, Th.
Creizenach, M. Hartmann, S. H. Mosenthal, Henriette Ottenheimer, Moritz
Rappaport, and L. Stein, sing the songs of Zion in the tongue of the
German. And can Heine be forgotten, he who in his _Romanzero_ has so
melodiously, yet so touchingly given word to the hoary sorrow of the

In an essay of this scope no more can be done than give the barest
outline of the modern movement. A detailed description of the work of
German-Jewish lyrists belongs to the history of German literature, and,
in fact, on its pages can be found a due appreciation of their worth by
unprejudiced critics, who give particularly high praise to the new
species of tales, the Jewish village, or Ghetto, tales, with which
Jewish and German literatures have latterly been enriched. Their object
is to depict the religious customs in vogue among Jews of past
generations, their home-life, and the conflicts that arose when the old
Judaism came into contact with modern views of life. The master in the
art of telling these Ghetto tales is Leopold Kompert. Of his
disciples--for all coming after him may be considered such--A. Bernstein
described the Jews of Posen; K. E. Franzos and L. Herzberg-Fränkel,
those of Poland; E. Kulke, the Moravian Jews; M. Goldschmied, the Dutch;
S. H. Mosenthal, the Hessian, and M. Lehmann, the South German. To
Berthold Auerbach's pioneer work this whole class of literature owes its
existence; and Heinrich Heine's fragment, _Rabbi von Bacharach_, a model
of its kind, puts him into this category of writers, too.

And so Judaism and Jewish literature are stepping into a new arena, on
which potent forces that may radically affect both are struggling with
each other. Is Jewish poetry on the point of dying out, or is it
destined to enjoy a resurrection? Who would be rash enough to prophesy
aught of a race whose entire past is a riddle, whose literature is a
question-mark? Of a race which for more than a thousand years has, like
its progenitor, been wrestling victoriously with gods and men?

To recapitulate: We have followed out the course of a literary
development, beginning in grey antiquity with biblical narratives,
assimilating Persian doctrines, Greek wisdom, and Roman law; later,
Arabic poetry and philosophy, and, finally, the whole of European
science in all its ramifications. The literature we have described has
contributed its share to every spiritual result achieved by humanity,
and is a still unexplored treasury of poetry and philosophy, of
experience and knowledge.

"All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is never full," saith the
Preacher; so all spiritual currents flow together into the vast ocean of
a world-literature, never full, never complete, rejoicing in every
accession, reaching the climax of its might and majesty on that day
when, according to the prophet, "the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."


In the whole range of the world's literatures there are few books with
so checkered a career, so curious a fate, as the Talmud has had. The
name is simple enough, it glides glibly from the tongue, yet how
difficult to explain its import to the uninitiated! From the Dominican
Henricus Seynensis, who took "Talmud" to be the name of a rabbi--he
introduces a quotation with _Ut narrat rabbinus Talmud_, "As Rabbi
Talmud relates"--down to the church historians and university professors
of our day, the oddest misconceptions on the nature of the Talmud have
prevailed even among learned men. It is not astonishing, then, that the
general reader has no notion of what it is.

Only within recent years the Talmud has been made the subject of
scientific study, and now it is consulted by philologists, cited by
jurists, drawn upon by historians, the general public is beginning to be
interested in it, and of late the old Talmud has repeatedly been
summoned to appear in courts of law to give evidence. Under these
circumstances it is natural to ask, What is the Talmud? Futile to seek
an answer by comparing this gigantic monument of the human intellect
with any other book; it is _sui generis_. In the form in which it issued
from the Jewish academies of Babylonia and Palestine, it is a great
national work, a scientific document of first importance, the archives
of ten centuries, in which are preserved the thoughts and opinions, the
views and verdicts, the errors, transgressions, hopes, disappointments,
customs, ideals, convictions, and sorrows of Israel--a work produced by
the zeal and patience of thirty generations, laboring with a self-denial
unparalleled in the history of literature. A work of this character
assuredly deserves to be known. Unfortunately, the path to its
understanding is blocked by peculiar linguistic and historical
difficulties. Above all, explanations by comparison must be avoided. It
has been likened to a legal code, to a journal, to the transactions of
learned bodies; but these comparisons are both inadequate and
misleading. To make it approximately clear a lengthy explanation must be
entered upon, for, in truth, the Talmud, like the Bible, is a world in
miniature, embracing every possible phase of life.

The origin of the Talmud was simultaneous with Israel's return from the
Babylonian exile, during which a wonderful change had taken place in the
captive people. An idolatrous, rebellious nation had turned into a pious
congregation of the Lord, possessed with zeal for the study of the Law.
By degrees there grew up out of this study a science of wide scope,
whose beginnings are hidden in the last book of the Bible, in the word
_Midrash_, translated by "story" in the Authorized Version. Its true
meaning is indicated by that of its root, _darash_, to study, to
expound. Four different methods of explaining the sacred Scriptures were
current: the first aimed to reach the simple understanding of words as
they stood; the second availed itself of suggestions offered by
apparently superfluous letters and signs in the text to arrive at its
meaning; the third was "a homiletic application of that which had been
to that which was and would be, of prophetical and historical dicta to
the actual condition of things"; and the fourth devoted itself to
theosophic mysteries--but all led to a common goal.

In the course of the centuries the development of the Midrash, or study
of the Law, lay along the two strongly marked lines of Halacha, the
explanation and formulating of laws, and Haggada, their poetical
illustration and ethical application. These are the two spheres within
which the intellectual life of Judaism revolved, and these the two
elements, the legal and the æsthetic, making up the Talmud.

The two Midrashic systems emphasize respectively the rule of law and the
sway of liberty: Halacha is law incarnate; Haggada, liberty regulated by
law and bearing the impress of morality. Halacha stands for the rigid
authority of the Law, for the absolute importance of theory--the law and
theory which the Haggada illustrates by public opinion and the dicta of
common-sense morality. The Halacha embraces the statutes enjoined by
oral tradition, which was the unwritten commentary of the ages on the
written Law, along with the discussions of the academies of Palestine
and Babylonia, resulting in the final formulating of the Halachic
ordinances. The Haggada, while also starting from the word of the Bible,
only plays with it, explaining it by sagas and legends, by tales and
poems, allegories, ethical reflections, and historical reminiscences.
For it, the Bible was not only the supreme law, from whose behests there
was no appeal, but also "a golden nail upon which" the Haggada "hung its
gorgeous tapestries," so that the Bible word was the introduction,
refrain, text, and subject of the poetical glosses of the Talmud. It was
the province of the Halacha to build, upon the foundation of biblical
law, a legal superstructure capable of resisting the ravages of time,
and, unmindful of contemporaneous distress and hardship, to trace out,
for future generations, the extreme logical consequences of the Law in
its application. To the Haggada belonged the high, ethical mission of
consoling, edifying, exhorting, and teaching a nation suffering the
pangs, and threatened with the spiritual stagnation, of exile; of
proclaiming that the glories of the past prefigured a future of equal
brilliancy, and that the very wretchedness of the present was part of
the divine plan outlined in the Bible. If the simile is accurate that
likens the Halacha to the ramparts about Israel's sanctuary, which every
Jew was ready to defend with his last drop of blood, then the Haggada
must seem "flowery mazes, of exotic colors and bewildering fragrance,"
within the shelter of the Temple walls.

The complete work of expounding, developing, and finally establishing
the Law represents the labor of many generations, the method of
procedure varying from time to time. In the long interval between the
close of the Holy Canon and the completion of the Talmud can be
distinguished three historical strata deposited by three different
classes of teachers. The first set, the Scribes--_Soferim_--flourished
in the period beginning with the return from Babylonian captivity and
ending with the Syrian persecutions (220 B.C.E.), and their work was the
preservation of the text of the Holy Writings and the simple expounding
of biblical ordinances. They were followed by the
"Learners"--_Tanaïm_--whose activity extended until 220 C.E. Great
historical events occurred in that period: the campaigns of the
Maccabean heroes, the birth of Jesus, the destruction of the Temple by
the Romans, the rebellion under Bar-Kochba, and the final complete
dispersion of the Jews. Amid all these storms the _Tanaïm_ did not for a
moment relinquish their diligent research in the Law. The Talmud tells
the story of a celebrated rabbi, than which nothing can better
characterize the age and its scholars: Night was falling. A funeral
cortege was moving through the streets of old Jerusalem. It was said
that disciples were bearing a well-beloved teacher to the grave.
Reverentially the way was cleared, not even the Roman guard at the gate
hindered the procession. Beyond the city walls it halted, the bier was
set down, the lid of the coffin opened, and out of it arose the
venerable form of Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkaï, who, to reach the Roman
camp unmolested, had feigned death. He went before Vespasian, and,
impressed by the noble figure of the hoary rabbi, the general promised
him the fulfilment of any wish he might express. What was his petition?
Not for his nation, not for the preservation of the Holy City, not even
for the Temple. His request was simple: "Permit me to open a school at
Jabneh." The proud Roman smilingly gave consent. He had no conception of
the significance of this prayer and of the prophetic wisdom of the
petitioner, who, standing on the ruins of his nation's independence,
thought only of rescuing the Law. Rome, the empire of the "iron legs,"
was doomed to be crushed, nation after nation to be swallowed in the
vortex of time, but Israel lives by the Law, the very law snatched from
the smouldering ruins of Jerusalem, the beloved alike of crazy zealots
and despairing peace advocates, and carried to the tiny seaport of
Jabneh. There Jochanan ben Zakkaï opened his academy, the gathering
place of the dispersed of his disciples and his people, and thence,
gifted with a prophet's keen vision, he proclaimed Israel's mission to
be, not the offering of sacrifices, but the accomplishment of works of

The _Tanaïm_ may be considered the most original expounders of the
science of Judaism, which they fostered at their academies. In the
course of centuries their intellectual labor amassed an abundant store
of scientific material, together with so vast a number of injunctions,
prohibitions, and laws that it became almost impossible to master the
subject. The task of scholars now was to arrange the accumulation of
material and reduce it to a system. Rabbi after rabbi undertook the
task, but only the fourth attempt at codification, that made by Yehuda
the Prince, was successful. His compilation, classifying the
subject-matter under six heads, subdivided into sixty-three tractates,
containing five hundred and twenty-four chapters, was called Mishna, and
came to be the authority appealed to on points of law.

Having assumed fixity as a code, the Mishna in turn became what the
Bible had been for centuries--a text, the basis of all legal development
and scientific discussion. So it was used by the epigones, the
_Amoraïm_, or Speakers, the expounders of the third period. For
generations commenting on the Mishna was the sum-total of literary
endeavor. Traditions unheeded before sprang to light. New methods
asserted themselves. To the older generation of Halachists succeeded a
set of men headed by Akiba ben Joseph, who, ignoring practical issues,
evolved laws from the Bible text or from traditions held to be divine. A
spiritual, truly religious conception of Judaism was supplanted by legal
quibbling and subtle methods of interpretation. Like the sophists of
Rome and Alexandria at that time, the most celebrated teachers in the
academies of Babylonia and Palestine for centuries gave themselves up to
casuistry. This is the history of the development of the Talmud, or more
correctly of the two Talmuds, the one, finished in 390 C. E., being the
expression of what was taught at the Palestinian academies; the other,
more important one, completed in 500 C. E., of what was taught in

The Babylonian, the one regarded as authoritative, is about four times
as large as the Jerusalem Talmud. Its thirty-six treatises
(_Massichtoth_), in our present edition, cover upwards of three thousand
folio pages, bound in twelve huge volumes. To speak of a completed
Talmud is as incorrect as to speak of a biblical canon. No religious
body, no solemn resolution of a synod, ever declared either the Talmud
or the Bible a completed whole. Canonizing of any kind is distinctly
opposed to the spirit of Judaism. The fact is that the tide of
traditional lore has never ceased to flow.

We now have before us a faint outline sketch of the growth of the
Talmud. To portray the busy world fitting into this frame is another and
more difficult matter. A catalogue of its contents may be made. It may
be said that it is a book containing laws and discussions, philosophic,
theologic, and juridic dicta, historical notes and national
reminiscences, injunctions and prohibitions controlling all the
positions and relations of life, curious, quaint tales, ideal maxims and
proverbs, uplifting legends, charming lyrical outbursts, and attractive
enigmas side by side with misanthropic utterances, bewildering medical
prescriptions, superstitious practices, expressions of deep agony,
peculiar astrological charms, and rambling digressions on law,
zoology, and botany, and when all this has been said, not half its
contents have been told. It is a luxuriant jungle, which must be
explored by him who would gain an adequate idea of its features and

The Ghemara, that is, the whole body of discussions recorded in the two
Talmuds, primarily forms a running commentary on the text of the Mishna.
At the same time, it is the arena for the debating and investigating of
subjects growing out of the Mishna, or suggested by a literature
developed along with the Talmudic literature. These discussions,
debates, and investigations are the opinions and arguments of the
different schools, holding opposite views, developed with rare acumen
and scholastic subtlety, and finally harmonized in the solution reached.
The one firm and impregnable rock supporting the gigantic structure of
the Talmud is the word of the Bible, held sacred and inviolable.

The best translations--single treatises have been put into modern
languages--fail to convey an adequate idea of the discussions and method
that evolved the Halacha. It is easier to give an approximately true
presentation of the rabbinical system of practical morality as gleaned
from the Haggada. It must, of course, be borne in mind that Halacha and
Haggada are not separate works; they are two fibres of the same thread.
"The whole of the Haggadistic literature--the hitherto unappreciated
archives of language, history, archæology, religion, poetry, and
science--with but slight reservations may be called a national
literature, containing as it does the aggregate of the views and
opinions of thousands of thinkers belonging to widely separated
generations. Largely, of course, these views and opinions are peculiar
to the individuals holding them or to their time"; still, every
Haggadistic expression, in a general way, illustrates some fundamental,
national law, based upon the national religion and the national
history.[15] Through the Haggada we are vouchsafed a glance into a
mysterious world, which mayhap has hitherto repelled us as strange and
grewsome. Its poesy reveals vistas of gleaming beauty and light,
luxuriant growth and exuberant life, while familiar melodies caress our

The Haggada conveys its poetic message in the garb of allegory song, and
chiefly epigrammatic saying. Form is disregarded; the spirit is
all-important, and suffices to cover up every fault of form. The Talmud,
of course, does not yield a complete system of ethics, but its practical
philosophy consists of doctrines that underlie a moral life. The
injustice of the abuse heaped upon it would become apparent to its
harshest critics from a few of its maxims and rules of conduct, such as
the following: Be of them that are persecuted, not of the
persecutors.--Be the cursed, not he that curses.--They that are
persecuted, and do not persecute, that are vilified and do not retort,
that act in love, and are cheerful even in suffering, they are the
lovers of God.--Bless God for the good as well as the evil. When thou
hearest of a death, say, "Blessed be the righteous Judge."--Life is like
unto a fleeting shadow. Is it the shadow of a tower or of a bird? It is
the shadow of a bird in its flight. Away flies the bird, and neither
bird nor shadow remains behind.--Repentance and good works are the aim
of all earthly wisdom.--Even the just will not have so high a place in
heaven as the truly repentant.--He whose learning surpasses his good
works is like a tree with many branches and few roots, which a
wind-storm uproots and casts to the ground. But he whose good works
surpass his learning is like a tree with few branches and many roots;
all the winds of heaven cannot move it from its place.--There are three
crowns: the crown of the Law, the crown of the priesthood, the crown of
kingship. But greater than all is the crown of a good name.--Four there
are that cannot enter Paradise: the scoffer, the liar, the hypocrite,
and the backbiter.--Beat the gods, and the priests will
tremble.--Contrition is better than many flagellations.--When the
pitcher falls upon the stone, woe unto the pitcher; when the stone falls
upon the pitcher, woe unto the pitcher; whatever betides, woe unto the
pitcher.--The place does not honor the man, the man honors the
place.--He who humbles himself will be exalted; he who exalts himself
will be humbled,--Whosoever pursues greatness, from him will greatness
flee; whosoever flees from greatness, him will greatness
pursue.--Charity is as important as all other virtues combined.--Be
tender and yielding like a reed, not hard and proud like a cedar.--The
hypocrite will not see God.--It is not sufficient to be innocent before
God; we must show our innocence to the world.--The works encouraged by a
good man are better than those he executes.--Woe unto him that practices
usury, he shall not live; whithersoever he goes, he carries injustice
and death.

The same Talmud that fills chapter after chapter with minute legal
details and hairsplitting debates outlines with a few strokes the most
ideal conception of life, worth more than theories and systems of
religious philosophy. A Haggada passage says: Six hundred and thirteen
injunctions were given by Moses to the people of Israel. David reduced
them to eleven; the prophet Isaiah classified these under six heads;
Micah enumerated only three: "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to
do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." Another
prophet limited them to two: "Keep ye judgment, and do righteousness."
Amos put all the commandments under one: "Seek ye me, and ye shall
live"; and Habakkuk said: "The just shall live by his faith."--This is
the ethics of the Talmud.

Another characteristic manifestation of the idealism of the Talmud is
its delicate feeling for women and children. Almost extravagant
affection is displayed for the little ones. All the verses of Scripture
that speak of flowers and gardens are applied in the Talmud to children
and schools. Their breath sustains the moral order of the universe: "Out
of the mouth of babes and sucklings has God founded His might." They are
called flowers, stars, the anointed of God. When God was about to give
the Law, He demanded of the Israelites pledges to assure Him that they
would keep His commandments holy. They offered the patriarchs, but each
one of them had committed some sin. They named Moses as their surety;
not even he was guiltless. Then they said: "Let our children be our
hostages." The Lord accepted them.

Similarly, there are many expressions to show that woman was held in
high esteem by the rabbis of the Talmud: Love thy wife as thyself; honor
her more than thyself.--In choosing a wife, descend a step.--If thy wife
is small, bend and whisper into her ear.--God's altar weeps for him that
forsakes the love of his youth.--He who sees his wife die before him
has, as it were, been present at the destruction of the sanctuary
itself; around him the world grows dark.--It is woman alone through whom
God's blessings are vouchsafed to a house.--The children of him that
marries for money shall be a curse unto him,--a warning singularly
applicable to the circumstances of our own times.

The peculiar charm of the Haggada is best revealed in its legends and
tales, its fables and myths, its apologues and allegories, its riddles
and songs. The starting-point of the Haggada usually is some memory of
the great past. It entwines and enmeshes in a magic network the lives of
the patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs, and clothes with fresh, luxuriant
green the old ideals and figures, giving them new life for a remote
generation. The teachers of the Haggada allow no opportunity, sad or
merry, to pass without utilizing it in the guise of an apologue or
parable. Alike for wedding-feasts and funerals, for banquets and days of
fasting, the garden of the Haggada is rifled of its fragrant blossoms
and luscious fruits. Simplicity, grace, and childlike merriment pervade
its fables, yet they are profound, even sublime, in their truth. "Their
chief and enduring charm is their fathomless depth, their unassuming
loveliness." Poems constructed with great artistic skill do not occur.
Here and there a modest bud of lyric poesy shyly raises its head, like
the following couplet, describing a celebrated but ill-favored rabbi:

    "Without charm of form and face.
    But a mind of rarest grace."

Over the grave of the same teacher the Talmud wails:

    "The Holy Land did beautify what womb of Shinar gave;
    And now Tiberias' tear-filled eye weeps o'er her treasure's grave."

On seeing the dead body of the Patriarch Yehuda, a rabbi laments:

    "Angels strove to win the testimony's ark.
    Men they overcame; lo! vanished is the ark!"

Another threnody over some prince in the realm of the intellect:

    "The cedar hath by flames been seized;
    Can hyssop then be saved?
    Leviathan with hook was caught;
    Alas! ye little fish!
    The deep and mighty stream ran dry,
    Ah woe! ye shallow brooks!"

Nor is humor lacking. "Ah, hamper great, with books well-filled, thou'rt
gone!" is a bookworm's eulogy.

Poets naturally have not been slow to avail themselves of the material
stored in the Haggada. Many of its treasures, tricked out in modern
verse, have been given to the world. The following are samples:[16]


    "His hands fast clenched, his fingers firmly clasped,
    So man this life begins.
    He claims earth's wealth, and constitutes himself
    The heir of all her gifts.
    He thinks his hand may snatch and hold
    Whatever life doth yield.

    But when at last the end has come,
    His hands are open wide,
    No longer closed. He knoweth now full well,
    That vain were all his hopes.
    He humbly says, 'I go, and nothing take
    Of all my hands have wrought.'"

The next, "Interest and Usury," may serve to give the pertinacious
opponent of the Talmud a better opinion of its position on financial

    "Behold! created things of every kind
      Lend each to each. The day from night doth take,
      And night from day; nor do they quarrel make
    Like men, who doubting one another's mind,
    E'en while they utter friendly words, think ill.
      The moon delighted helps the starry host,
      And each returns her gift without a boast.
    'Tis only when the Lord supreme doth will
    That earth in gloom shall be enwrapped,
      He tells the moon: 'Refrain, keep back thy light!'
      And quenches, too, the myriad lamps of night.
    From wisdom's fount hath knowledge ofttimes lapped,
    While wisdom humbly doth from knowledge learn.
      The skies drop blessings on the grateful earth,
      And she--of precious store there is no dearth--
    Exhales and sends aloft a fair return.
    Stern law with mercy tempers its decree,
      And mercy acts with strength by justice lent.
      Good deeds are based on creed from heaven sent,
    In which, in turn, the sap of deeds must be.
      Each creature borrows, lends, and gives with love,
      Nor e'er disputes, to honor God above.

    When man, howe'er, his fellowman hath fed,
      Then 'spite the law forbidding interest,
      He thinketh naught but cursèd gain to wrest.
    Who taketh usury methinks hath said:
    'O Lord, in beauty has Thy earth been wrought!
      But why should men for naught enjoy its plains?
      Ask usance, since 'tis Thou that sendest rains.
    Have they the trees, their fruits, and blossoms bought?
    For all they here enjoy, Thy int'rest claim:
      For heaven's orbs that shine by day and night,
      Th' immortal soul enkindled by Thy light,
    And for the wondrous structure of their frame.'
    But God replies: 'Now come, and see! I give
      With open, bounteous hand, yet nothing take;
      The earth yields wealth, nor must return ye make.
    But know, O men, that only while ye live,
    You may enjoy these gifts of my award.
      The capital's mine, and surely I'll demand
      The spirit in you planted by my hand,
    And also earth will claim her due reward.'
      Man's dust to dust is gathered in the grave,
      His soul returns to God who gracious gave."

R. Yehuda ben Zakkaï answers his pupils who ask:

    "Why doth the Law with them more harshly deal
      That filch a lamb from fold away,
    Than with the highwaymen who shameless steal
      Thy purse by force in open day?"

    "Because in like esteem the brigands hold
      The master and his serving man.
    Their wickedness is open, frank, and bold,
      They fear not God, nor human ban.

    The thief feels more respect for earthly law
      Than for his heav'nly Master's eye,
    Man's presence flees in fear and awe,
      Forgets he's seen by God on high."

That is a glimpse of the world of the Haggada--a wonderful, fantastic
world, a kaleidoscopic panorama of enchanting views. "Well can we
understand the distress of mind in a mediæval divine, or even in a
modern _savant_, who, bent upon following the most subtle windings of
some scientific debate in the Talmudical pages--geometrical, botanical,
financial, or otherwise--as it revolves round the Sabbath journey, the
raising of seeds, the computation of tithes and taxes--feels, as it
were, the ground suddenly give way. The loud voices grow thin, the doors
and walls of the school-room vanish before his eyes, and in their place
uprises Rome the Great, the _Urbs et Orbis_ and her million-voiced life.
Or the blooming vineyards round that other City of Hills, Jerusalem the
Golden herself, are seen, and white-clad virgins move dreamily among
them. Snatches of their songs are heard, the rhythm of their choric
dances rises and falls: it is the most dread Day of Atonement itself,
which, in poetical contrast, was chosen by the 'Rose of Sharon' as a day
of rejoicing to walk among those waving lily-fields and vine-clad
slopes. Or the clarion of rebellion rings high and shrill through the
complicated debate, and Belshazzar, the story of whose ghastly banquet
is told with all the additions of maddening horror, is doing service for
Nero the bloody; or Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian tyrant, and all his
hosts, are cursed with a yelling curse--_à propos_ of some utterly
inappropriate legal point, while to the initiated he stands for Titus
the--at last exploded--'Delight of Humanity.' ... Often--far too often
for the interests of study and the glory of the human race--does the
steady tramp of the Roman cohort, the password of the revolution, the
shriek and clangor of the bloody field, interrupt these debates, and
the arguing masters and disciples don their arms, and, with the cry,
'Jerusalem and Liberty,' rush to the fray."[17] Such is the world of the


In the childhood of civilization, the digging of wells was regarded as
beneficent work. Guide-posts, visible from afar, marked their position,
and hymns were composed, and solemn feasts celebrated, in honor of the
event. One of the choicest bits of early Hebrew poetry is a song of the
well. The soul, in grateful joy, jubilantly calls to her mates: "Arise!
sing a song unto the well! Well, which the princes have dug, which the
nobles of the people have hollowed out."[19] This house, too, is a
guide-post to a newly-found well of humanity and culture, a monument to
our faithfulness and zeal in the recognition and the diffusion of truth.
A scene like this brings to my mind the psalmist's beautiful words:[20]
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together
in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down
upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his
garment; as the dew of Hermon, running down upon the mountains of Zion;
for there hath the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for

Wondrous thoughts veiled with wondrous imagery! The underlying meaning
will lead us to our feast of the well, our celebration in honor of
newly-discovered waters. Our order is based upon the conviction that all
men should be banded together for purposes of humanity. But what is
humanity? Not philanthropy, not benevolence, not charity: it is "human
culture risen to the stage on which man is conscious of universal
brotherhood, and strives for the realization of the general good." In
early times, leaders of men were anointed with oil, symbol of wisdom and
divine inspiration. Above all it was meet that it be used in the
consecration of priests, the exponents of the divine spirit and the Law.
The psalmist's idea is, that as the precious ointment in its abundance
runs down Aaron's beard to the hem of his garment, even so shall wisdom
and the divine spirit overflow the lips of priests, the guides, friends,
and teachers of the people, the promoters of the law of peace and love.

"As the dew of Hermon, running down upon the mountains of Zion!" High
above all mountains towers Hermon, its crest enveloped by clouds and
covered with eternal snow. From that supernal peak grateful dew trickles
down, fructifying the land once "flowing with milk and honey." From its
clefts gushes forth Jordan, mightiest stream of the land, watering a
broad plain in its course. In this guise the Lord has granted His
blessing to the land, the blessing of civilization and material
prosperity, from which spring as corollaries the duties of charity and
universal humanity.

A picture of the olden time this, a lodge-address of the days of the
psalm singers. Days flee, time abides; men pass away, mankind endures.
Filled with time-honored thoughts, inspired by the hopes of by-gone
generations, striving for the goal of noble men in all ages, like the
psalm singers in the days of early culture, we celebrate a feast of the
well by reviewing the past and looking forward down the avenues of time.

Less than fifty years ago a band of energetic, loyal Jews, on the other
side of the Atlantic, founded our beloved Order. Now it has established
itself in every part of the world, from the extreme western coast of
America to the blessed meadows of the Jordan; yea, even the Holy Land,
unfurling everywhere the banner of charity, brotherly love, and unity,
and seeking to spread education and culture, the forerunners of
humanity. Judaism, mark you, is the religion of humanity. By far too
late for our good and that of mankind, we began to proclaim this truth
with becoming energy and emphasis, and to demonstrate it with the
joyousness of conviction. The question is, are we permeated with this
conviction? Our knowledge of Judaism is slight; we have barely a
suspicion of what in the course of centuries, nay, of thousands of
years, it has done for the progress of civilization. In my estimation,
our house-warming cannot more fittingly be celebrated than by taking a
bird's-eye view of Jewish culture.

The Bible is the text-book of general literature. Out of the Bible, more
particularly from the Ten Commandments, flashed from Sinai, mankind
learned its first ethical lesson in a system which still satisfies its
needs. To convey even a faint idea of what the Bible has done for
civilization, morality, and the literature of every people--of the
innumerable texts it has furnished to poets, and subjects to
painters--would in itself require a literature.

The conflicts with surrounding nations to which they were exposed made
the Jews concentrate their forces, and so enabled them to wage
successful war with nations mightier than themselves. Their heroism
under the Maccabees and under Bar-Kochba, in the middle ages and in
modern days, permits them to take rank among the most valiant in
history. A historian of literature, a non-Jew, enumerates three factors
constituting Jews important agents in the preservation and revival of
learning:[21] First, their ability as traders. The Phoenicians are
regarded as the oldest commercial nation, but the Jews contested the
palm with them. Zebulon and Asher in very early times were seafaring
tribes. Under Solomon, Israelitish vessels sailed as far as Ophir to
bring Afric's gold to Jerusalem. Before the destruction of the Holy
City, Jewish communities established themselves on the westernmost coast
of Europe. "The whole of the known world was covered with their
settlements, in constant communication with one another through
itinerant merchants, who effected an exchange of learning as well as of
wares; while the other nations grew more and more isolated, and shut
themselves off from even the sparse opportunities of mental culture then

The second factor conducing to mental advancement was the schools which
have flourished in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and the
third was the linguistic attainments of the Jews, which they owed to
natural ability in this direction. Scarcely had Greek allied itself with
Hebrew thought, when Jews in Alexandria wrote Greek comparable with
Plato's, and not more than two hundred years after the settlement of
Jews in Arabia we meet with a large number of Jewish poets among
Mohammed's disciples, while in the middle ages they taught and wrote
Arabic, Spanish, French, and German--versatility naturally favorable to
intellectual progress.

Jewish influence may be said to have begun to exercise itself upon
general culture when Judaism and Hellenism met for the first time. The
result of the meeting was the new product, Judæo-Hellenic literature.
Greek civilization was attractive to Jews. The new ideas were
popularized for all strata of the people to imbibe. Shortly before the
old pagan world crumbled, Hellenism enjoyed a beautiful, unexpected
revival in Alexandria. There, strange to say, Judaism, in its home
antagonistic to Hellenism, had filled and allied itself with the Greek
spirit. Its literature gradually adopted Greek traditions, and the ripe
fruit of the union was the Jewish-Alexandrian religious philosophy, the
mediation between two sharply contradictory systems, for the first time
brought into close juxtaposition, and requiring some such new element to
harmonize them. When ancient civilization in Judæa and in Hellas fell
into decay, human endeavor was charged with the task of reconciling
these two great historical forces diametrically opposed to each other,
and the first attempt looking to this end was inspired by a Jewish
genius, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Jews of Alexandria were engaged in widespread trade and shipping,
and they counted among them artists, poets, civil officers, and
mechanics. They naturally acquired Greek customs, and along with them
Hellenic vices. The bacchanalia of Athens were enthusiastically imitated
in Jerusalem, and, as a matter of course, in Alexandria. This point
reached, Roman civilization asserted itself, and the people sought to
affiliate with their Roman victors, while the rabbis devoted themselves
to the Law, not, however, to the exclusion of scientific work. In the
ranks of physicians and astronomers we find Jewish masters and Jewish
disciples. Medicine has always been held in high esteem by Jews, and
Samuel could justly boast before his contemporaries that the intricate
courses of the stars were as well known to him as the streets of
Nehardea in Babylonia.[22]

The treasures of information on pedagogics, medicine, jurisprudence,
astronomy, geography, zoology, botany, and last, though not least, on
general history, buried in the Talmud, have hitherto not been valued at
their true worth. The rabbis of the Talmud stood in the front ranks of
culture. They compiled a calendar, in complete accord with the Metonic
cycle, which modern science must declare faultless. Their classification
of the bones of the human body varies but little from present results of
the science of anatomy, and the Talmud demonstrates that certain Mishna
ordinances are based upon geometrical propositions, which could have
been known to but few mathematicians of that time. Rabbi Gamaliel, said
to have made use of a telescope, was celebrated as a mathematician and
astronomer, and in 289 C. E., Rabbi Joshua is reported to have
calculated the orbit of Halley's comet.

The Roman conquest of Palestine effected a change in the condition of
the Jews. Never before had Judah undergone such torture and suffering as
under the sceptre of Rome. The misery became unendurable, and internal
disorders being added to foreign oppression, the luckless insurrection
broke out which gave the deathblow to Jewish nationality, and drove
Judah into exile. On his thorny martyr's path he took naught with him
but a book--his code, his law. Yet how prodigal his contributions to
mankind's fund of culture!

About five hundred years later Judah saw springing up on his own soil a
new religion which appropriated the best and the most beautiful of his
spiritual possessions. Swiftly rose the vast political and intellectual
structure of Mohammedan power, and as before with Greek, so Jewish
thought now allied itself with Arabic endeavor, bringing forth in Spain
the golden age of neo-Hebraic literature in the spheres of poetry,
metaphysical speculation, and every department of scientific research.
It is not an exaggerated estimate to say that the middle ages sustained
themselves with the fruit of this intellectual labor, which, moreover,
has come down as a legacy to our modern era. Two hundred years after
Mohammed, the same language, Arabic, was spoken by the Jews of Kairwan
and those of Bagdad. Thus equipped, they performed in a remarkable way
the task allotted them by their talents and their circumstances, to
which they had been devoting themselves with singular zeal for two
centuries. The Jews are missioned mediators between the Orient and the
Occident, and their activity as such, illustrated by their additions to
general culture and science, is of peculiar interest. In the period
under consideration, their linguistic accomplishments fitted them to
assist the Syrians in making Greek literature accessible to the Arabic
mind. In Arabic literature itself, they attained to a prominent place.
Modern research has not yet succeeded in shedding light upon the
development and spread of science among the Arabs under the tutelage of
Syrian Christians. But out of the obscurity of Greek-Arabic culture
beginnings gleam Jewish names, whose possessors were the teachers of
eager Arabic disciples. Barely fifty years after the hosts of the
Prophet had conquered the Holy Land, a Jew of Bassora translated from
Syriac into Arabic the pandects by the presbyter Aaron, a famous medical
work of the middle ages. In the annals of the next century, among the
early contributors to Arabic literature, we meet with the names of Jews
as translators of medical, mathematical, and astronomical works, and as
grammarians, astronomers, scientists, and physicians. A Jew translated
Ptolemy's "Almagest"; another assisted in the first translation of the
Indian fox fables (_Kalila we-Dimna_); the first furnishing the middle
ages with the basis of their astronomical science, the second supplying
European poets with literary material. Through the instrumentality of
Jews, Arabs became acquainted as early as the eighth century, some time
before the learning of the Greeks was brought within their reach, with
Indian medicine, astronomy, and poetry. Greek science itself they owed
to Jewish mediation. Not only among Jews, but also among Greeks,
Syrians, and Arabs, Jewish versatility gave currency to the belief that
"all wisdom is of the Jews," a view often repeated by Hellenists, by the
"Righteous Brethren" among the Arabs, and later by the Christian monks
of Europe.

The academies of the Jews have always been pervaded by a scientific
spirit. As they influenced others, so they permitted the science and
culture of their neighbors to act upon their life and work. There is no
doubt, for instance, that, despite the marked difference between the
subjects treated by Arabs and Jews, the peculiar qualities of the old
Arabic lyrics shaped neo-Hebraic poetry. Again, as the Hebrew acrostic
psalms demonstrably served as models to the older Syrian Church poets,
so, in turn, Syriac psalmody probably became the pattern synagogue
poetry followed. Thus Hebrew poetry completed a circuit, which, to be
sure, cannot accurately be followed up through its historical stages,
but which critical investigations and the comparative study of
literatures have established almost as a certainty.

In the ninth century a bold, venturesome traveller, Eldad ha-Dani,[23] a
sort of Jewish Ulysses, appeared among Jews, and at the same time
Judaism produced Sa'adia, its first great religious philosopher and
Bible translator. The Church Fathers had always looked up to the rabbis
as authorities; henceforth Jews were accepted by all scholars as the
teachers of Bible exegesis. Sa'adia was the first of the rabbis to
translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Arabic. Justly his work is said to
"recognize the current of thought dominant in his time, and to express
the newly-awakened desire for the reconciliation of religious practice,
as developed in the course of generations, with the source of religious
inspiration." Besides, he was the first to elaborate a system of
religious philosophy according to a rigid plan, and in a strictly
scientific spirit.[24] Knowing Greek speculations, he controverts them
as vigorously as the _Kalâm_ of Islam philosophy. His teachings form a
system of practical ethics, luminous reflections, and sound maxims.
Among his contemporaries was Isaac Israeli, a physician at Kairwan,
whose works, in their Latin translation by the monk Constantine,
attained great reputation, and were later plagiarized by medical
writers. His treatise on fever was esteemed of high worth, a translation
of it being studied as a text-book for centuries, and his dietetic
writings remained authoritative for five hundred years. In general, the
medical science of the Arabs is under great obligations to him.
Reverence for Jewish medical ability was so exaggerated in those days
that Galen was identified with the Jewish sage Gamaliel. The error was
fostered in the _Sefer Asaf_, a curious medical fragment of uncertain
authorship and origin, by its rehearsal of an old Midrash, which traces
the origin of medicine to Shem, son of Noah, who received it from
angels, and transmitted it to the ancient Chaldeans, they in turn
passing it on to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Arabs.

Though the birth of medicine is not likely to have taken place among
Jews, it is indisputable that physicians of the Jewish race are largely
to be credited with the development of medical science at every period.
At the time we speak of, Jews in Egypt, northern Africa, Italy, Spain,
France, and Germany were physicians in ordinary to caliphs, emperors,
and popes, and everywhere they are represented among medical writers.
The position occupied in the Arabian world by Israeli, in the Occident
was occupied by Sabattaï Donnolo, one of the Salerno school in its early
obscure days, the author of a work on _Materia medica_, possibly the
oldest original production on medicine in the Hebrew language.

The period of Jewish prosperity in Spain has been called a fairy vision
of history. The culture developed under its genial influences pervaded
the middle ages, and projected suggestions even into our modern era. One
of the most renowned _savants_ at the beginning of the period was the
statesman Chasdaï ben Shaprut, whose translation of Dioscorides's "Plant
Lore" served as the botanical textbook of mediæval Europe. The first
poet was Solomon ibn Gabirol, the author of "The Source of Life," a
systematic exposition of Neoplatonic philosophy, a book of most curious
fortunes. Through the Latin translation, made with the help of an
apostate Jew, and bearing the author's name in the mutilated form of
Avencebrol, later changed into Avicebron, scholasticism became saturated
with its philosophic ideas. The pious fathers of Christian philosophy,
Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, took pains to refute them, while
Duns Scotus and Giordano Bruno frequently consulted the work as an
authority. In the struggle between the Scotists and the Thomists it had
a prominent place as late as the fourteenth century, the contestants
taking it to be the work of some great Christian philosopher standing on
the threshold of the Occident and at the portals of philosophy. So it
happened that the author came down through the centuries, recognized by
none, forgotten by his own, until, in our time, behind the
Moorish-Christian mask of Avencebrol, Solomon Munk discovered the Jewish
thinker and poet Solomon ibn Gabirol.

The work _De Causis_, attributed to David, a forgotten Jewish
philosopher, must be classed with Gabirol's "Source of Life," on account
of its Neoplatonism and its paramount influence upon scholasticism. In
fact, only by means of a searching analysis of these two works can
insight be gained into the development and aberrations of the dogmatic
system of mediæval philosophy.

Other sciences, too, especially mathematics, flourished among them. One
century after he wrote them, the works of Abraham ibn Ezra, renowned as
an astronomer and mathematician, were translated into Latin by Italians,
among whom his prestige was so great that, as may still be seen, he was
painted among the expounders of mathematical science in an Italian
church fresco representing the seven liberal arts. Under the name
Abraham Judæus, later corrupted into Avenare, he is met with throughout
the middle ages. Abraham ben Chiya, another distinguished scientist,
known by the name Savasorda, compiled the first systematic outline of
astronomy, and in his geographical treatise, he explained the sphericity
of the earth, while the Latin translation of his geometry, based on
Arabic sources, proves him to have made considerable additions to the
stock of knowledge in this branch. Moses Maimuni's intellectual vigor,
and his influence upon the schoolmen through his medical, and more
particularly his religio-philosophical works, are too well known to need
more than passing mention.

Even in southern France and in Germany, whither the light of culture did
not spread so rapidly as in Spain, Jews participated in the development
of the sciences. Solomon ben Isaac, called Rashi, the great exegete, was
looked up to as an authority by others beside his brethren in faith.
Nicolas de Lyra, one of the most distinguished Christian Bible exegetes,
confesses that his simple explanations of Scriptural passages are
derived pre-eminently from Rashi's Bible commentary, and among
scientific men it is acknowledged that precisely in the matter of
exegesis this French monk exercised decisive influence upon Martin
Luther. So it happens that in places Luther's Bible translation reveals
Rashi seen through Nicolas de Lyra's spectacles.

In the quickened intellectual life of Provence Jews also took active
part. David Kimchi has come to be regarded as the teacher _par
excellence_ of Hebrew grammar and lexicography, and Judah ibn Tibbon,
one of the most notable of translators, in his testament addressed to
his son made a complete presentation of contemporary science, a
cyclopædia of the Arabic and the Hebrew language and literature,
grammar, poetry, botany, zoology, natural history, and particularly
religious philosophy, the studies of the Bible and the Talmud.

The golden age of letters was followed by a less creative period, a
significant turning-point in the history of Judaism as of spiritual
progress in general. The contest between tradition and philosophy
affected every mind. Literature was widely cultivated; each of its
departments found devotees. The European languages were studied, and
connections established between the literatures of the nations. Hardly a
spiritual current runs through the middle ages without, in some way,
affecting Jewish culture. It is the irony of history that puts among the
forty proscribers of the Talmud assembled at Paris in the thirteenth
century the Dominican Albertus Magnus, who, in his successful efforts to
divert scholastic philosophy into new channels, depended entirely upon
the writings and translations of the very Jews he was helping to
persecute. Schoolmen were too little conversant with Greek to read
Aristotle in the original, and so had to content themselves with
accepting the Judæo-Arabic construction put upon the Greek sage's

Besides acting as intermediaries, Jews made original contributions to
scholastic philosophy. For instance, Maimonides, the first to reconcile
Aristotle's teachings with biblical theology, was the originator of the
method adopted by schoolmen in the case of Aristotelian principles at
variance with their dogmas. Frederick II., the liberal emperor, employed
Jewish scholars and translators at his court; among them Jacob ben
Abba-Mari ben Anatoli, to whom an annuity was paid for translating
Aristotelian works. Michael Scotus, the imperial astrologer, was his
intimate friend. His contemporaries were chiefly popular philosophers or
mystics, excepting only the prominent Provençal Jacob ben Machir, or
Profatius Judæus, as he was called, a member of the Tibbon family of
translators. His observations on the inclination of the earth's axis
were used later by Copernicus as the basis of further investigations. He
was a famous teacher at the Montpellier academy, which reminds me to
mention that Jews were prominently identified with the founding and the
success of the medical schools at Montpellier and Salerno, they, indeed,
being almost the only physicians in all parts of the known world.
Salerno, in turn, suggests Italy, where at that period translations were
made from Latin into Hebrew. Hillel ben Samuel, for instance, the same
who carried on a lively philosophic correspondence with another
distinguished Jew, Maestro Isaac Gayo, the pope's physician, translated
some of Thomas Aquinas's writings, Bruno di Lungoburgo's book on
surgery, and various other works, from Latin into Hebrew.

These successors of the great intellects of the golden age of
neo-Hebraic literature, thoroughly conversant with Arabic literature,
busied themselves with rendering accessible to literary Europe the
treasury of Indian and Greek fables. Their translations and compilations
have peculiar value in the history of literary development. During the
middle ages, when the memory of ancient literature had perished, they
were the means of preserving the romances, fairy tales, and fables that
have descended, by way of Spain and Arabia, from classical antiquity
and the many-hued Oriental world to our modern literatures. Between the
eleventh and the thirteenth century, the foundations were laid for our
narrative literature, demonstrating the importance of delight in fable
lore, stories of travel, and all sorts of narratives, for to it we owe
the creation of new and the transformation of old, literary forms.

In Germany at that time, a Jewish minnesinger and strolling minstrel,
Süsskind von Trimberg, went up and down the land, from castle to castle,
with the poets' guild; while Santob di Carrion, a Jewish troubadour,
ventured to impart counsel and moral lessons to the Castilian king Don
Pedro before his assembled people. A century later, another Jew, Samson
Pnie, of Strasburg, lent his assistance to the two German poets at work
upon the continuation of _Parzival_. The historians of German literature
have not laid sufficient stress upon the share of the Jews, heavily
oppressed and persecuted though they were, in the creation of national
epics and romances of chivalry from the thirteenth to the fifteenth
century. German Jews, being more than is generally recognized diligent
readers of the poets, were well acquainted with the drift of mediæval
poetry, and to this familiarity a new department of Jewish literature
owed its rise and development. It is said that a Hebrew version of the
Arthurian cycle was made as early as the thirteenth century, and at the
end of the period we run across epic poems on Bible characters, composed
in the _Nibelungen_ metre, in imitation of old German legend lore and
national poetry.

If German Jews found heart for literary interests, it may be assumed as
a matter of course that Spanish and Provençal Jews participated in the
advancement of their respective national literatures and in Troubadour
poetry. In these countries, too, the new taste for popular literature,
especially in the form of fables, was made to serve moral ends. A Jew,
Berachya ben Natronaï, was the precursor of Marie de France, the famous
French fabulist, and La Fontaine and Lessing are indebted to him for
some of their material. As in the case of Aristotelian philosophy and of
Greek and Arabic medical science, Jews assumed the rôle of mediators in
the transmission of fables. Indian fables reached their Arabic guise
either directly or by way of Persian and Greek; thence they passed into
Hebrew and Latin translations, and through these last forms became the
property of the European languages. For instance, the Hebrew translation
of the old Sanskrit fox fables was the one of greatest service in
literary evolution. The translator of the fox fables is credited also
with the translation of the romance of "The Seven Wise Masters," under
the title _Mishlé Sandabar_. These two works gave the impetus to a great
series in Occidental literature, and it seems altogether probable that
Europe's first acquaintance with them dates from their Hebrew

In Arabic poetry, too, many a Jew deservedly attained to celebrity.
Abraham ibn Sahl won such renown that the Arabs, notorious for
parsimony, gave ten gold pieces for one of his songs. Other poets have
come down to us by name, and Joseph Ezobi, whom Reuchlin calls _Judæorum
poeta dulcissimus_, went so far as to extol Arabic beyond Hebrew poetry.
He was the first to pronounce the dictum famous in Buffon's repetition:
"The style is the man himself." Provence, the land of song, produced
Kalonymos ben Kalonymos (Maestro Calo), known to his brethren in faith
not only as a poet, but also as a scholar, whose Hebrew translations
from the Arabic are of most important works on philosophy, medicine, and
mathematics. As Anatoli had worked under Emperor Frederick II., so
Kalonymos was attached to Robert of Naples, patron of Jewish scholars.
At the same time with the Spanish and the German minstrel, there
flourished in Rome Immanuel ben Solomon, the friend of Dante, upon whose
death he wrote an Italian sonnet, and whose _Divina Commedia_ inspired a
part of his poetical works also describing a visit to paradise and hell.

With the assiduous cultivation of romantic poetry, which was gradually
usurping the place of moral romances and novels, grew the importance of
Oriental legends and traditions, so pregnant with literary suggestions.
This is attested by the use made of the Hebrew translation of Indian
fables mentioned before, and of the famous collection of tales, the
_Disciplina clericalis_ by the baptized Jew Petrus Alphonsus. The Jews
naturally introduced many of their own peculiar traditions, and thus can
be explained the presence of tales from the Talmud and the Midrash in
our modern fairy tale books.

It is necessary to note again that the Jews in turn submitted to the
influence of foreign literatures. Immanuel Romi, for example, at his
best, is an exponent of Provençal versification and scholastic
philosophy, while his lapses testify to the self-complacency and levity
characteristic of the times. Yehuda Romano, one of his contemporaries,
is said to have been teacher to the king of Naples. He was the first Jew
to attain to a critical appreciation of the vagaries of scholasticism,
but his claim to mention rests upon his translations from the Latin.

As Jews assisted at the birth of Arabic, French, and German, so they
have a share in the beginnings of Spanish, literature. Jews must be
credited with the first "Chronicle of the Cid," with the romance, _Comte
Lyonnais, Palanus_, with the first collection of tales, the first chess
poems, and the first troubadour songs. Again, the oldest collection of
the last into a _cancionera_ was made by the Jew Juan Alfonso de Bæna.

Even distant Persia has proofs to show of Jewish ability and energy in
those days. One Jew composed an epic on a biblical subject in the
Persian language, another translated the Psalms into the vernacular.

The most prominent Jewish exponent of philosophy in this age of
strenuous interest in metaphysical speculations and contests was Levi
ben Gerson (Leon di Bannolas), theologian, scientist, physician, and
astronomer. One of his ancestors, Gerson ben Solomon, had written a work
typical of the state of the natural sciences in his day. Levi ben
Gerson's chief work became famous not among Jews alone. It was referred
to in words of praise by Pico della Mirandola, Reuchlin, Kepler, and
other Christian thinkers. He was the inventor of an astronomical
instrument, a description of which was translated into Latin at the
express command of Pope Clement VI., and carefully studied by Kepler.
Besides, Levi ben Gerson was the author of an arithmetical work. In
those days, in fact up to the seventeenth century, there was but a faint
dividing line between astronomy and mathematics, as between medicine and
natural history. John of Seville was a notable mathematician, the
compiler of a practical arithmetic, the first to make mention of decimal
fractions, which possibly may have been his invention, and in the Zohar,
the text-book of mediæval Jewish mysticism, which appeared centuries
before Copernicus's time, the cause of the succession of day and night
is stated to be the earth's revolution on its axis.

In this great translation period scarcely a single branch of human
science escaped the mental avidity of Jews. They found worthy of
translation such essays as "Rules for the Shoeing and Care of Horses in
Royal Stables" and "The Art of Carving and Serving at Princely Boards."
Translations of works on scholasticism now took rank beside those from
Greek and Arabic philosophers, and to translations from the Arabic into
Hebrew were added translations from and into Latin, or even into the
vernacular idiom wherever literary forms had developed. The bold
assertion can be made good that not a single prominent work of ancient
science was left untranslated. On the other hand it is hard to speculate
what would have been the fate of these treasures of antiquity without
Jewish intermediation. Doubtless an important factor in the work was the
encouragement given Jewish scholars by enlightened rulers, such as
Emperor Frederick II., Charles and Robert of Anjou, Jayme I. of Aragon,
and Alfonso X. of Castile, and by popes, and private patrons of
learning. Mention has been made of Jewish contributions to the work of
the medical schools of Montpellier and Salerno. Under Jayme I. Christian
and Jewish savants of Barcelona worked together harmoniously to promote
the cause of civilization and culture in their native land. The first to
use the Catalan dialect for literary purposes was the Jew Yehuda ben
Astruc, and under Alfonso (X.) the Wise, Jews again attained to
prominence in the king's favorite science of astronomy. The Alfonsine
Tables were chiefly the work of Isaac ibn Sid, a Toledo _chazan_
(precentor). In general, the results reached by Jewish scholarship at
Alfonso's court were of the utmost importance, having been largely
instrumental in establishing in the age of Tycho de Brahe and Kepler the
fundamental principles of astronomy and a correct view of the orbits of
the heavenly bodies. Equal suggestiveness characterizes Jewish research
in mathematics, a science to which, rising above the level of
intermediaries and translators, Jews made original contributions of
importance, the first being Isaac Israeli's "The Foundation of the
Universe." Basing his observations on Maimuni's and Abraham ben Chiya's
statement of the sphericity of the earth, Israeli showed that the
heavenly bodies do not seem to occupy the place in which they would
appear to an observer at the centre of the earth, and that the two
positions differ by a certain angle, since known as parallax in the
terminology of science. To Judah Hakohen, a scholar in correspondence
with Alfonso the Wise, is ascribed the arrangement of the stars in
forty-eight constellations, and to another Jew, Esthori Hafarchi, we owe
the first topographical description of Palestine, whither he emigrated
when the Jews were expelled from France by Philip the Fair.

Meanwhile the condition of the Jews, viewed from without and from
within, had become most pitiable. The Kabbala lured into her charmed
circle the strongest Jewish minds. Scientific aspirations seemed
completely extinguished. Even the study of the Talmud was abandoning
simple, undistorted methods of interpretation, and espousing the
hairsplitting dialectics of the northern French school. Synagogue poetry
was languishing, and general culture found no votaries among Jews.
Occasionally only the religious disputations between Jews and Christians
induced some few to court acquaintance with secular branches of
learning. In the fourteenth century Chasdaï Crecas was the only
philosopher with an original system, which in its arguments on free
will and the nature of God anticipated the views of one greater than
himself, who, however, had a different purpose in view. That later and
greater philosopher, to whom the world is indebted for the evangel of
modern life, was likewise a Jew, a descendant of Spanish-Jewish
fugitives. His name is Baruch Spinoza.

However sad their fortunes, the literature of the Jews never entirely
eschewed the consideration of subjects of general interest. This
receives curious confirmation from the re-introduction of Solomon
Gabirol's peculiar views into Jewish religious philosophy, by way of
Christian scholasticism, as formulated especially by Thomas Aquinas, the
_Doctor angelicus_.

The Renaissance and the humanistic movement also reveal Jewish
influences at work. The spirit of liberty abroad in the earth passed
through the halls of Israel, clearing the path thenceforth to be trodden
by men. Again the learned were compelled to engage the good offices of
the Jews, the custodians of biblical antiquity. The invention of the
printing press acted as a wonderful stimulus to the development of
Jewish literature. The first products of the new machine were Hebrew
works issued in Italy and Spain. Among the promoters of the Renaissance,
and one of the most thorough students of religio-philosophical systems,
was Elias del Medigo, the friend of Pico della Mirandola, and the umpire
chosen by the quarrelling factions in the University of Padua. John
Reuchlin, chief of the humanists, was taught Hebrew by Obadiah Sforno,
a _savant_ of profound scholarship, who dedicated his "Commentary on
Ecclesiastes" to Henry II. of France. Abraham de Balmes was a teacher at
the universities of Padua and Salerno, and physician in ordinary to
Cardinal Dominico Grimani. The Kabbala was made accessible to the heroes
of the Renaissance by Jochanan Alemanno, of Mantua, and there is pathos
in the urgency with which Reuchlin entreats Jacob Margoles, rabbi of
Nuremberg, to send him Kabbalistic writings in addition to those in his
possession. Reuchlin's good offices to the Jews--his defense of them
against the attacks of obscurantists--are a matter of general knowledge.
Among the teachers of the humanists who revealed to them the treasures
of biblical literature the most prominent was Elias Levita, the
introducer, through his disciples Sebastian Münster and Paul Fagius, of
Hebrew studies into Germany. He may be accounted a true humanist, a
genuine exponent of the Renaissance. His Jewish coadjutors were Judah
Abrabanel (Leo Hebræus), whose chief work was _Dialoghi di Amore_, an
exposition of the Neoplatonism then current in Italy; Jacob Mantino,
physician to Pope Paul III.; Bonet di Lattes, known as a writer on
astronomical subjects, and the inventor of an astronomical instrument;
and a number of others.

While in Italy the Spanish-Jewish exiles fell into line in the
Renaissance movement, the large numbers of them that sought refuge in
Portugal turned their attention chiefly to astronomical research and to
voyages of discovery and adventure, the national enterprises of their
protectors. João II. employed Jews in investigations tending to make
reasonably safe the voyages, on trackless seas, under unknown skies, for
the discovery of long and ardently sought passages to distant lands. In
his commission charged with the construction of an instrument to
indicate accurately the course of a vessel, the German knight Martin
Behaim was assisted by Jews--astronomers, metaphysicians, and
physicians--chief among them Joseph Vecinho, distinguished for his part
in the designing of the artificial globe, and Pedro di Carvallho,
navigator, whose claim to praise rests upon his improvement of Leib's
_Astrologium_, and to censure, upon his abetment of the king when he
refused the request of the bold Genoese Columbus to fit out a squadron
for the discovery of wholly unknown lands. But when Columbus's plans
found long deferred realization in Spain, a Jewish youth, Luis de
Torres, embarked among the ninety adventurers who accompanied him. Vasco
da Gama likewise was aided in his search for a waterway to the Indies by
a Jew, the pilot Gaspar, the same who later set down in writing the
scientific results of the voyage, and two Jews were despatched to
explore the coasts of the Red Sea and the island of Ormus in the Persian
Gulf. Again, Vasco da Gama's plans were in part made with the valuable
assistance of a Jew, a profound scholar, Abraham Zacuto, sometime
professor of astronomy at the University of Salamanca, and after the
banishment of Jews from Spain, astronomer and chronographer to Manuel
the Great, of Portugal. It was he that advised the king to send out Da
Gama's expedition, and from the first the explorer was supported by his
counsel and scientific knowledge.

Meritorious achievements, all of them, but they did not shield the Jews
against impending banishment. The exiles found asylums in Italy and
Holland, and in each country they at once projected themselves into the
predominant intellectual movement. A physician, Abraham Portaleone,
distinguished himself on the field of antiquarian research; another,
David d'Ascoli, wrote a defense of Jews; and a third, David de Pomis, a
defense of Jewish physicians. The most famous was Amatus Lusitanus, one
of whose important discoveries is said to have brought him close up to
that of the circulation of the blood. Before the banishment of Jews from
Spain took effect, Antonio di Moro, a Jewish peddler of Cordova,
flourished as the last of Spanish troubadours, and Rodrigo da Cota, a
neo-Christian of Seville, as the first of Spanish dramatists, the
supposed author of _Celestina_, one of the most celebrated of old
Spanish dramatic compositions.

The proscribed, in the guise of Marranos, and under the hospitable
shelter of their new homes, could not be banished from literary Spain,
even in its newest departures. Indeed, for a long time Spanish and
Italian literatures were brought into contact with each other only
through the instrumentality of Jews. Not quite half a century after the
expulsion of Jews from Portugal and their settlement in Italy, a Jew,
Solomon Usque, made a Spanish translation of Petrarch (1567), dedicated
to Alessandro Farnese, duke of Parma, and wrote Italian odes, dedicated
to Cardinal Borromeo.

At the zenith of the Renaissance, Jews won renown as Italian poets, and
did valiant work as translators from Latin into Hebrew and Italian. In
the later days of the movement, in the Reformation period, illustrious
Christian scholars studied Hebrew under Jewish tutorship, and gave it a
place on the curriculum of the universities. Luther himself submitted to
rabbinical guidance in his biblical studies.

In great numbers the Spanish exiles turned to Turkey, where numerous new
communities rapidly arose. There, too, in Constantinople and elsewhere,
Jews, like Elias Mizrachi and Elias Kapsali, were the first to pursue
scientific research.

We have now reached the days of deepest misery for Judaism. Yet, in the
face of unrelenting oppression, Jews win places of esteem as diplomats,
custodians and advocates of important interests at royal courts. From
the earliest period of their history, Jews manifested special talent for
the arts of diplomacy. In the Arabic-Spanish period they exercised great
political influence upon Mohammedan caliphs. The Fatimide and Omayyad
dynasties employed Jewish representatives and ministers, Samuel ibn
Nagdela, for instance, being grand vizir of the caliph of Granada.
Christian sovereigns also valued their services: as is well known,
Charlemagne sent a Jewish ambassador to Haroun al Rashid; Pope
Alexander III. appointed Yechiel ben Abraham as minister of finance; and
so late as in the fifteenth century the wise statesman Isaac Abrabanel
was minister to Alfonso V., of Portugal, and, wonderful to relate, for
eight years to Ferdinand and Isabella, of Spain. At this time Jewish
literature was blessed with a patron in the person of Joseph Nasi, duke
of Naxos, whom, it is said, Sultan Selim II. wished to crown king of
Cyprus. His rival was Solomon Ashkenazi, Turkish ambassador to the
Venetian republic, who exercised decisive influence upon the election of
a Polish king. And this is not the end of the roll of Jewish diplomats
and ministers.

Unfortunately, the Kabbala, whose spell was cast about even the most
vigorous of Jewish minds, was the leading intellectual current of those
sad days, the prevailing misery but serving to render her allurements
more fascinating. But in the hands of such men as Abraham Herrera, who
influenced Benedict Spinoza, even Kabbalistic studies were informed with
a scientific spirit, and brought into connection with Neoplatonic

Mention of Spinoza suggests Holland where Jews were kindly received, and
shortly after their arrival they interested themselves in the
philosophical pursuits in vogue. The best index to their position in
Holland is furnished by Manasseh ben Israel's prominent rôle in the
politics and the literary ventures of Amsterdam, and by his negotiations
with Oliver Cromwell. We may pardon the pride which made him say, "I
have enjoyed the friendship of the wisest and the best of Europe." Uriel
Acosta and Baruch Spinoza, though children of the Amsterdam
_Judengasse_, were ardent patriots.

The last great Spanish poet was Antonio Enrique de Gomez, the Jewish
Calderon, burnt in effigy at Seville; while the last Portuguese poet of
note was Antonio Jose de Silva, who perished at the stake for his faith,
leaving his dramas as a precious possession to Portuguese literature.

Even in the dreariest days of decadence, when the study of the Talmud
seemed to engross their attention, Jews prosecuted scientific inquiries,
as witness Moses Isserles's translation of _Theorica_, an astronomical
treatise by Peurbach, the Vienna humanist.

With the migration of Jews eastward, _Judendeutsch_, a Jewish-German
dialect, with its literature, was introduced into Slavic countries. It
is a fact not generally known that this jargon is the depository of
certain Middle High German expressions and elements no longer used in
the modern German, and that philologists are forced to resort to the
study of the Polish-Jewish patois to reconstruct the old idiom. In 1523,
the year of Luther's Pentateuch translation, a Jewish-German Bible
dictionary was published at Cracow, and in 1540 appeared the first
Jewish-German translation of the Pentateuch. The Germans strongly
influenced the popular literature of the Jews. The two nationalities
seized the same subjects, often imitating the same models, or using the
same translations. The German "Till Eulenspiegel" was printed in 1500,
the Jewish-German in 1600. Besides incorporating German folklore,
Jewish-German writings borrowed from German romances, assimilated
foreign literatures, did not neglect the traditions of the Jews
themselves, and embraced even folk-songs, some of which have perpetuated
themselves until the modern era.

Mention of the well-known fact that the Hebrew studies prosecuted by
Christians in the eighteenth century were carried on under Jewish
influence brings us to the threshold of the modern era, the period of
the Jewish Renaissance. Here we are on well-worn ground. Since Jews have
been permitted to enter at will upon the multifarious pursuits growing
out of modern culture, their importance as factors of civilization is
universally acknowledged, and it would be wearisome, and would far
transgress the limits of a lecture, to enumerate their achievements.

In trying to show what share the Jew has had in the world's
civilization, I have naturally concerned myself chiefly with literature,
for literature is the mirror of culture. It would be a mistake, however,
to suppose that the Jew has been inactive in other spheres. His
contributions, for instance, to the modern development of international
commerce, cannot be overlooked. Commerce in its modern extension was the
creation of the mercantile republics of mediæval Italy-Venice, Florence,
Genoa, and Pisa--and in them Jews determined and regulated its course.
When Ravenna contemplated a union with Venice, and formulated the
conditions for the alliance, one of them was the demand that rich Jews
be sent thither to open a bank for the relief of distress. Jews were the
first to obtain the privilege of establishing banks in the Italian
cities, and the first to discover the advantages of a system of checks
and bills of exchange, of unique value in the development of modern

Even in art, a sphere from which their rigorous laws might seem to have
the effect of banishing them, they were not wholly inactive. They always
numbered among themselves handicraftsmen. In Venice, in the sixteenth
century, we find celebrated Jewish wood engravers. Jacob Weil's rules
for slaughtering were published with vignettes by Hans Holbein, and one
of Manasseh ben Israel's works was adorned with a frontispiece by
Rembrandt. In our own generation Jews have won fame as painters and
sculptors, while music has been their staunch companion, deserting them
not even in the darkest days of the Ghetto.

These certainly are abundant proofs that the Jew has a share in all the
phases and stages of culture, from its first germs unto its latest
complex development--a consoling, elevating reflection. A learned
historian of literature, a Christian, in discussing this subject, was
prompted to say: "Our first knowledge of philosophy, botany, astronomy,
and cosmography, as well as the grammar of the holy language and the
results of biblical study, we owe primarily to Jews." Another historian,
also a Christian, closes a review of Jewish national traits with the
words: "Looking back over the course of history, we find that in the
gloom, bareness, and intellectual sloth of the middle ages, Jews
maintained a rational system of agriculture, and built up international
commerce, upon which rests the well-being of the nations."

Truly, there are reasons for pride on our part, but no less do great
obligations devolve upon us. I cannot refrain from exhortation. In
justice we should confess that Jews drew their love of learning and
ability to advance the work of civilization from Jewish writings.
Furthermore, it is a fact that these Jewish writings no longer excite
the interest, or claim the devotion of Jews. I maintain that it is the
duty of the members of our Order to take this neglected, lightly
esteemed literature under their protection, and secure for it the
appreciation and encouragement that are the offspring of knowledge.

Modern Judaism presents a curious spectacle. The tiniest of national
groups in Eastern Europe, conceiving the idea of establishing its
independence, proceeds forthwith to create a literature, if need be,
inventing and forging. Judaism possesses countless treasures of
inestimable worth, amassed by research and experience in the course of
thousands of years, and her latter-day children brush them aside with
indifference, even with scorn, leaving it to the sons of the stranger,
yea, their adversaries, to gather and cherish them.

When Goethe in his old age conceived and outlined a scheme of universal
literature, the first place was assigned to Jewish literature. In his
pantheon of the world's poetry, the first tone uttered was to be that
of "David's royal song and harp." But, in general, Jewish literature is
still looked upon as the Cinderella of the world's literatures. Surely,
the day will come when justice will be done, Cinderella's claim be
acknowledged equal to that of her royal sisters, and together they will
enter the spacious halls of the magnificent palace of literature.

Among the prayers prescribed for the Day of Atonement is one of
subordinate importance which affects me most solemnly. When the shadows
of evening lengthen, and the light of the sun wanes, the Jew reads the
_Neïlah_ service with fervor, as though he would "burst open the portals
of heaven with his tears," and the inmost depths of my nature are
stirred with melancholy pride by the prayer of the pious Jew. He
supplicates not for his house and his family, not for Zion dismantled,
not for the restoration of the Temple, not for the advent of the
Messiah, not for respite from suffering. All his sighs and hopes, all
his yearning and aspiration, are concentrated in the one thought: "Our
splendor and our glory have departed, our treasures have been snatched
from us; there remains nothing to us but this Law alone." If this is
true; if naught else is left of our former state; if this Law, this
science, this literature, are our sole treasure and best inheritance,
then let us cherish and cultivate them so as to have a legacy to
bequeath to our children to stand them in good stead against the coming
of the _Neïlah_ of humanity, the day when brethren will "dwell together
in unity."

Perhaps that day is not far distant. Methinks I hear the rustling of a
new spring-tide of humanity; methinks I discern the morning flush of new
world-stirring ideas, and before my mind's eye rises a bridge, over
which pass all the nations of the earth, Israel in their midst, holding
aloft his ensign with the inscription, "The Lord is my banner!"--the one
which he bore on every battlefield of thought, and which was never
suffered to fall into the enemy's hand. It is a mighty procession moving
onward and upward to a glorious goal: "Humanity, Liberty, Love!"


Among the songs of the Bible there are two, belonging to the oldest
monuments of poetry, which have preserved the power to inspire and
elevate as when they were first uttered: the hymn of praise and
thanksgiving sung by Moses and his sister Miriam, and the impassioned
song of Deborah, the heroine in Israel.

Miriam and Deborah are the first Israelitish women whose melody thrilled
and even now thrills us--Miriam, the inspired prophetess, pouring forth
her people's joy and sorrow, and Deborah, _Esheth Lapidoth_, the Bible
calls her, "the woman of the flaming heart," an old writer ingeniously
interprets the Scriptural name. They are the chosen exemplars of all
women who, stepping across the narrow confines of home, have lifted up a
voice, or wielded a pen, for Israel. The time is not yet when woman in
literature can be discussed without an introductory justification. The
prejudice is still deep-rooted which insists that domestic activity is
woman's only legitimate career, that to enter the literary arena is
unwomanly, that inspired songs may drop only from male lips. Woman's
heart should, indeed, be the abode of the angels of gentleness, modesty,
kindness, and patience. But no contradiction is involved in the belief
that her mind is endowed with force and ability on occasion to grasp the
spokes of fortune's wheel, or produce works which need not shrink from
public criticism. Deborah herself felt that it would have better become
a man to fulfil the mission with which she was charged--that a cozy home
had been a more seemly place for her than the camp upon Mount Tabor. She
says: "Desolate were the open towns in Israel, they were desolate....
Was there a shield seen or a spear among forty thousand in Israel?...
I--unto the Lord will I sing." Not until the fields of Israel were
desert, forsaken of able-bodied men, did the woman Deborah arise for the
glory of God. She refused to pose as a heroine, rejected the crown of
victory, nor coveted the poet's laurel, meet recognition of her
triumphal song. Modestly she chose the simplest yet most beautiful of
names. She summoned the warriors to battle; the word of God was
proclaimed by her lips; she pronounced judgment, and right prevailed;
her courage sustained her on the battlefield, and victory followed in
her footsteps--yet neither judge, nor poetess, nor singer, nor
prophetess will she call herself, but only _Em beyisrael_, "a mother in

This heroine, this "mother in Israel," in all the wanderings and
vicissitudes of the Jewish people, was the exemplar of its women and
maidens, the especial model of Israelitish poetesses and writers.

The student of Jewish literature is like an astronomer. While the casual
observer faintly discerns single stars dotted in the expanse of blue
overhead, he takes in the whole sweep of the heavens, readily following
the movements of the stars of every magnitude. The history of the Jewish
race, its mere preservation during the long drawn out period of
suffering--sad days of national dissolution and sombre middle age
centuries--is a perplexing puzzle, unless regarded with the eye of
faith. But that this race, cuffed, crushed, pursued, hounded from spot
to spot, should have given birth to men, yea, even women ranking high in
the realm of letters, is wholly inexplicable, unless the explanation of
the unique phenomenon is sought in the wondrous gift of inspiration
operative in Israel even after the last seer ceased to speak.

Judaism has preserved the Jews! Judaism, that is, the Law with its
development and ramifications of a great religious thought, was the
sustaining power of the Jewish people under its burden of misery,
suffering, torture, and oppression, enabling it to survive its
tormentors. The Jews were the nation of hope. Like hope this people is
eternal. The storms of fanaticism and race hatred may rage and roar, the
race cannot be destroyed. Precisely in the days of its abject
degradation, when its suffering was dire, how marvellous the conduct of
this people! The conquered were greater than their conquerors. From
their spiritual height they looked down compassionately on their
victorious but ignorant adversaries, who, feeling the condescension of
the victims, drove their irons deeper. The little nation grew only the
stronger, and its religion, the flower of hope and trust, developed the
more sturdily for its icy covering. Jews were mowed down by fire and
sword, but Judaism continued to live. From the ashes of every pyre
sprang the Jewish Law in unfading youth--that indestructible,
ineradicable mentality and hope, which opponents are wont to call
unconquerable Jewish defiance.

The men of this great little race were preserved by the Law, the spirit,
and the influences and effects of this same Law transformed weak women
into God-inspired martyrs, dowered the daughters of Israel with courage
to sacrifice life for the glory of the God-idea confessed by their
ancestors during thousands of years. Purity of morals, confiding
domesticity, were the safeguards against storm and stress. The outside
world presented a hostile front to the Jew of the middle ages. Every
step beyond Ghetto precincts was beset with peril. So his home became
his world, his sanctuary, in whose intimate seclusion the blossom of
pure family love unfolded. While spiritual darkness brooded over the
nations, the great Messianic God-idea took refuge from the icy chill of
the middle ages in his humble rooms, where it was cherished against the
coming of a glorious future.

"Every Jew has the making of a Messiah in him," says a clever modern
author,[25] "and every Jewess of a _mater dolorosa_," of which the first
part is only an epigram, the second, a truth, an historic fact.
Mediæval Judaism knew many "sorrowful mothers," whose heroism passes
our latter-day conception. Greece and Rome tell tales upon tales of
womanly bravery under suffering and pain--Jewish history buries in
silence the names of its thousands of woman and maiden martyrs, joyously
giving up life in the vindication of their faith. Perhaps, had one woman
been too weak to resist, too cowardly to court and embrace death, her
name might have been preserved. Such, too, fail to appear in the Jewish
annals, which contain but few women's names of any kind. Inspired
devotion of strength and life to Judaism was as natural with a Jewess as
quiet, unostentatious activity in her home. No need, therefore, to make
mention of act or name.

Jewish woman, then, has neither found, nor sought, and does not need, a
Frauenlob, historian or poet, to proclaim her praise in the gates, to
touch the strings of his lyre in her honor. Her life, in its simplicity
and gentleness, its patience and exalted devotion, is itself a Song of
Songs, more beautiful than poet ever composed, a hymn more joyous than
any ever sung, on the prophetess's sublime and touching text, _Em
beyisrael_, "a mother in Israel."

As Miriam and Deborah are representative of womanhood during Israel's
national life, so later times, the Talmudic periods, produced women with
great and admirable qualities. Prominent among them was Beruriah, the
gentle wife of Rabbi Meïr, the Beruriah whose heart is laid bare in the
following touching story from the Talmud:[26]

One Sabbath her husband had been in the academy all day teaching the
crowds that eagerly flocked to his lectures. During his absence from
home, his two sons, distinguished for beauty and learning, died suddenly
of a malignant disease. Beruriah bore the dear bodies into her sleeping
chamber, and spread a white cloth over them. When the rabbi returned in
the evening, and asked for his boys that, according to wont, he might
bless them, his wife said, "They have gone to the house of God."

She brought the wine-cup, and he recited the concluding prayer of the
Sabbath, drinking from the cup, and, in obedience to a hallowed custom,
passing it to his wife. Again he asked, "Why are my sons not here to
drink from the blessed cup?" "They cannot be far off," answered the
patient sufferer, and suspecting naught, Rabbi Meïr was happy and
cheerful. When he had finished his meal, Beruriah said: "Rabbi, allow me
to ask you a question." With his permission, she continued: "Some time
ago a treasure was entrusted to me, and now the owner demands it. Shall
I give it up?" "Surely, my wife should not find it necessary to ask this
question," said the rabbi. "Can you hesitate about returning property to
its rightful owner?" "True," she replied, "but I thought best not to
return it until I had advised you thereof." And she led him into the
chamber to the bed, and withdrew the cloth from the bodies. "O, my sons,
my sons," lamented the father with a loud voice, "light of my eyes, lamp
of my soul. I was your father, but you taught me the Law." Her eyes
suffused with tears, Beruriah seized her grief-stricken husband's hand,
and spoke: "Rabbi, did you not teach me to return without reluctance
that which has been entrusted to our safekeeping? See, 'the Lord gave,
and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'"
"'Blessed be the name of the Lord,'" repeated the rabbi, accepting her
consolation, "and blessed, too, be His name for your sake; for, it is
written: 'Who can find a virtuous woman? for far above pearls is her
value.... She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is
upon her tongue.'"

Surrounded by the halo of motherhood, richly dowered with intellectual
gifts, distinguished for learning, gentleness, and refinement, Beruriah
is a truly poetic figure. Incensed at the evil-doing of the unrighteous,
her husband prayed for their destruction. "How can you ask that, Rabbi?"
Beruriah interrupted him; "do not the Scriptures say: 'May _sins_ cease
from off the earth, and the wicked will be no more'? When _sin_ ceases,
there will be no more _sinners_. Pray rather, my rabbi, that they
repent, and amend their ways."[27]

That a woman could attain to Beruriah's mental poise, and make her voice
heard and heeded in the councils of the teachers of the Law, and that
the rabbis considered her sayings and doings worthy of record, would of
itself, without the evidence of numerous other learned women of Talmud
fame, prove, were proof necessary, the honorable position occupied by
Jewish women in those days. Long before Schiller, the Talmud said:[28]
"Honor women, because they bring blessing." Of Abraham it is said: "It
was well with him, because of his wife Sarah." Again: "More glorious is
the promise made to women, than that to men: In Isaiah (xxxii. 9) we
read: 'Ye women that are at ease, hear my voice!' for, with women it
lies to inspire their husbands and sons with zeal for the study of the
Law, the most meritorious of deeds." Everywhere the Talmud sounds the
praise of the virtuous woman of Proverbs and of the blessings of a happy
family life.

A single Talmudic sentence, namely, "He who teaches his daughter the
Law, teaches her what is unworthy," torn from its context, and falsely
interpreted, has given rise to most absurd theories with regard to the
views of Talmudic times on the matter of woman's education. It should be
taken into consideration that its author, who is responsible also for
the sentiment that "woman's place is at the distaff," was the husband of
Ima Shalom, a clever, highly cultured, but irascible woman, who was on
intimate terms with Jewish Christians, and was wont to interfere in the
disputations carried on by men--in short, a representative Talmudic
blue-stocking, with all the attributes with which fancy would be prone
to invest such a one.[29]

Elsewhere the Talmud tells about Rabbi Nachman's wife Yaltha, the proud
and learned daughter of a princely line. Her guest, the poor itinerant
preacher Rabbi Ulla, expressed the opinion that according to the Law it
was not necessary to pass the wine-cup over which the blessing has been
said to women. The opinion, surely not the withheld wine, so angered his
hostess, that she shivered four hundred wine-pitchers, letting their
contents flow over the ground.[30] If the rabbis had such incidents in
mind, crabbed utterances were not unjustifiable. Perhaps every
rabbinical antagonist to woman's higher education was himself the victim
of a learned wife, who regaled him, after his toilsome research at the
academy, with unpalatable soup, or, worse still, with Talmudic
discussions. Instances are abundant of erudite rabbis tormented by their
wives. One, we are told, refused to cook for her husband, and another,
day after day, prepared a certain dish, knowing that he would not touch

But this is pleasantry. It would betray total ignorance of the Talmud
and the rabbis to impute to them the scorn of woman prevalent at that
time. The Talmud and its sages never weary of singing the praise of
women, and at every occasion inculcate respect for them, and devotion to
their service. The compiler of the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Jochanan,
whose life is crowned with the aureole of romance, pays a delicate
tribute to woman by the question: "Who directed the first prayer of
thanksgiving to God? A woman, Leah, when she cried out in the fulness of
her joy: 'Now again will I praise the Lord.'"

Under the influence of such ideal views, and in obedience to such
standards, Jewish woman led a modest, retired life of domestic activity,
the help-meet and solace of her husband, the joy of his age, the
treasure of his liberty, his comforter in sorrow. For, when the
portentous catastrophe overwhelmed the Jewish nation, when Jerusalem and
the Temple lay in ruins, when the noblest of the people were slain, and
the remnant of Israel was made to wander forth out of his land into a
hostile world, to fulfil his mission as a witness to the truth of
monotheism, then Jewish woman, too, was found ready to assume the
burdens imposed by distressful days.

Israel, broken up into unresisting fragments, began his two thousand
years' journey through the desert of time, despoiled of all possessions
except his Law and his family. Of these treasures Titus and his legions
could not rob him. From the ruins of the Jewish state blossomed forth
the spirit of Jewish life and law in vigorous renewal. Judaism rose
rejuvenated on the crumbling temples of Jupiter, immaculate in doctrine,
incorruptible in practice. Israel's spiritual guides realized that
adherence to the Law is the only safeguard against annihilation and
oblivion. From that time forth, the men became the guardians of the
_Law_, the women the guardians of the purity of _life_, both working
harmoniously for the preservation of Judaism.

The muse of history recorded no names of Jewish women from the
destruction of the Temple to the eleventh century. Yet the student
cannot fail to assign the remarkable preservation of the race to
woman's gentle, quiet, though paramount influence by the side of the
earnest tenacity of men. Among Jews leisure, among non-Jews knowledge,
was lacking to preserve names for the instruction of posterity. Before
Jews could record their suffering, the oppressor's hand again fell, its
grasp more relentless than ever. For many centuries blood and tears
constitute the chronicle of Jewish life, and at the sources of these
streams of blood and rivers of tears, the genius of Jewish history sits

Whenever the sun of tolerance broke through the clouds of oppression,
and for even a brief period shone upon the martyr race, its marvellous
development under persecution and in despite of unspeakable suffering at
once stood revealed. During these occasional breaks in the darkness,
women appeared whose erudition was so profound as to earn special
mention. As was said above, the first names of women distinguished for
beauty and intellect come down to us from the eleventh century, and even
then only Italy, Provence, Andalusia, and the Orient, were favored, Jews
in these countries living unmolested and in comparative freedom, and
zealously devoting their leisure to the study of the Talmud and secular
branches of learning. In praise of Italy it was said: "Out of Bari goes
forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Otranto." It is, therefore,
not surprising to read in Jewish sources of the maiden Paula, of the
family Deï Mansi (Anawim), the daughter of Abraham, and later the wife
of Yechiel deï Mansi, who, in 1288, copied her father's abstruse
Talmudic commentary, adding ingenious explanations, the result of
independent research. But one grows somewhat sceptical over the account,
by a Jewish tourist, Rabbi Petachya of Ratisbon, of Bath Halevi,
daughter of Rabbi Samuel ben Ali in Bagdad, equally well-read in the
Bible and the Talmud, and famous for her beauty. She lectured on the
Talmud to a large number of students, and, to prevent their falling in
love with her, she sat behind lattice-work or in a glass cabinet, that
she might be heard but not seen. The dry tourist-chronicler fails to
report whether her disciples approved of the preventive measure, and
whether in the end it turned out to have been effectual. At all events,
the example of the learned maiden found an imitator. Almost a century
later we meet with Miriam Shapiro, of Constance, a beautiful Jewish
girl, who likewise delivered public lectures on the Talmud sitting
behind a curtain, that the attention of her inquisitive pupils might not
be distracted by sight of her from their studies.

Of the learned El Muallima we are told that she transplanted Karaite
doctrines from the Orient to Castile, where she propagated them. The
daughter of the prince of poets, Yehuda Halevi, is accredited with a
soulful religious poem hitherto attributed to her father, and Rabbi
Joseph ibn Nagdela's wife was esteemed the most learned and
representative woman in Granada. Even in the choir of Arabic-Andalusian
poets we hear the voice of a Jewish songstress, Kasmune, the daughter
of the poet Ishmael. Only a few blossoms of her delicate poetry have
been preserved.[31] Catching sight of her young face in the mirror, she
called out:

    "A vine I see, and though 'tis time to glean,
      No hand is yet stretched forth to cull the fruit.
    Alas! my youth doth pass in sorrow keen,
      A nameless 'him' my eyes in vain salute."

Her pet gazelle, raised by herself, she addresses thus:

    "In only thee, my timid, fleet gazelle,
      Dark-eyed like thee, I see my counterpart;
    We both live lone, without companion dwell,
      Accepting fate's decree with patient heart."

Of other women we are told whose learning and piety inspired respect,
not only in Talmudic authorities, but, more than that, in their sisters
in faith. Especially in the family of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac),
immortal through his commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud, a number
of women distinguished themselves. His daughter Rachel (Bellejeune), on
one occasion when her father was sick, wrote out for Rabbi Abraham Cohen
of Mayence an opinion on religious questions in dispute. Rashi's two
granddaughters, Anna and Miriam, were equally famous. In questions
relating to the dietary laws, they were cited as authorities, and their
decisions accepted as final.

Zunz calls the wife of Rabbi Joseph ben Jochanan of Paris "almost a
rabbi"; and Dolce, wife of the learned Rabbi Eleazar of Worms, supported
her family with the work of her hands, was a thorough student of the
dietary laws, taught women on Jewish subjects, and on Sabbath delivered
public lectures. She wore the twofold crown of learning and martyrdom.
On December 6, 1213, fanatic crusaders rushed into the rabbi's house,
and most cruelly killed her and her two daughters, Bella and Anna.

Israel having again fallen on evil times, the rarity of women writers
during the next two centuries needs no explanation. In the sixteenth
century their names reappear on the records, not only as Talmudic
scholars, but also as writers of history in the German language. Litte
of Ratisbon composed a history of King David in the celebrated "Book of
Samuel," a poem in the _Nibelungen_ stanza, and we are told that Rachel
Ackermann of Vienna was banished for having written a piquant novel,
"Court Secrets."

These tentative efforts led the way to busy and widespread activity by
Jewish women in various branches of literature at a somewhat later
period, when the so-called _Judendeutsch_, also known as
_Altweiberdeutsch_ (old women's German), came into general use. Rebekah
Tiktiner, daughter of Rabbi Meïr Tiktiner, attained to a reputation
considerable enough to suggest her scholarly work to J. G. Zeltner, a
Rostock professor, as the subject of an essay published in 1719. Her
book, _Meneketh Ribka_, deals with the duties of woman. Edel Mendels of
Cracow epitomized "Yosippon" (History of the Jews after Josephus); Bella
Chasan, who died a martyr's death, composed two instructive works on
Jewish history, in their time widely read; Glikel Hamel of Hamburg wrote
her memoirs, describing her contemporaries and the remarkable events of
her life; Hannah Ashkenasi was the author of addresses on moral
subjects; and Ella Götz translated the Hebrew prayers into

Litte of Ratisbon found imitators. Rosa Fischels of Cracow was the first
to put the psalms into Jewish-German rhymes (1586). She turned the whole
psalter "into simple German very prettily, modestly, and withal
pleasantly for women and maidens to read." The authoress acknowledges
that it was her aim to imitate the rhyme and melody of the "Book of
Samuel" by her famed predecessor. Occasionally her paraphrase rises to
the height of true poetry, as in the first and last verses of Psalm

"Sing to God a new song, sing to God all the land, sing to God, praise
His name, show forth His ready help from day to day.... The field and
all thereon shall show great joy; they will sing with all their leaves,
the trees of the wood and the grove, before the Lord God who will come
to judge the earth far and near. He judgeth the earth with righteousness
and the nations with truth."

Rosa Fischels was followed by a succession of women writers: Taube Pan
in Prague, a poetess; Bella Hurwitz, who wrote a history of the House
of David, and, in association with Rachel Rausnitz, an account of the
settlement of Jews in Prague; and a number of scholarly women famous
among their co-religionists for knowledge of the Talmud, piety, and
broad, secular culture.

In a rapid review like this of woman's achievements on the field of
Jewish scholarship, the results recorded must appear meagre, owing
partly to the paucity of available data, partly to the nature of the
inquiry. Abstruse learning, pure science, original research, are by no
means woman's portion. Such occupations demand complete surrender on the
part of the student, uninterrupted attention to the subject pursued, and
delicately organized woman is not capable of such absorption. Woman's
perceptions are subtle, and she rests satisfied with her intuitions;
while man strives to transmute his feelings, deeper than hers, into
action. The external appeals to woman who comprehends easily and
quickly, and, therefore, does not penetrate beneath the surface. Man, on
the other hand, strives to pierce to the essence of things, apprehends
more slowly, but thinks more profoundly, and tests carefully before he
accepts. Hence we so rarely meet woman in the field of science, while
her work in the domain of poetry and the humanities is abundant and
attractive. Jewish women form no exception to the rule: a survey of
Jewish poetry will show woman's share in its productions to have been
considerable and of high quality. While there was little or no
possibility to prosecute historic or scientific inquiry during the
harrowing days of persecution, the well-spring of Jewish poetry never
ran dry. Poetry followed the race into exile, and clave to it through
all vicissitudes, its solacement in suffering, the holy mediatrix
between its past and future. "The Orient dwells an exile in the
Occident, and its tears of longing for home are the fountain-head of
Jewish poetry," says a Christian scholar. And at the altar of this
poetry, whose sweetness and purity sanctified home life, and spread a
sense of morality in a time when brutality and corruptness were general,
the women singers of Israel offered the gifts of their muse. While the
culture of that time culminated in the service of love (_Minnedienst_),
in woman worship, so offensive to modern taste, Jewish poetry was
pervaded by a pure, ideal conception of love and womanhood, testifying
to the high ethical principles of its devotees.

Judaism and Jewish poetry know naught of the sensual love so assiduously
fostered by the cult of the Virgin. "Love," says a celebrated historian
of literature, "was glorified in all shapes and guises, and represented
as the highest aim of life. Woman's virtues, yea, even her vices, were
invested with exaggerated importance. Woman became accustomed to think
that she could be neither faithful nor faithless without turning the
world topsy-turvy. She shared the fate of all objects of excessive
adulation: flattery corrupted her. Thus it came about that love of woman
overshadowed every other social force and every form of family
affection, and so spent its power. The Jews were the only ones sane
enough to subordinate sexual love to reverence for motherhood. Alexander
Weill makes a Jewish mother say: 'Is it proper for a good Jewish mother
to concern herself about love? Love is revolting idolatry. A Jewess may
love only God, her husband, and her children.' Granny (_Alt-Babele_) in
one of Kompert's tales says: 'God could not be everywhere, so he created
mothers.' In Jewish novels, maternal love is made the basis of family
life, its passion and its mystery. A Jewish mother! What an image the
words conjure up! Her face is calm, though pale; a melancholy smile
rests upon her lips, and her soulful eyes seem to hide in their depths
the vision of a remote future."

This is a correct view. Jewish poetry is interpenetrated with the breath
of intellectual love, that is, love growing out of the recognition of
duty, no less ideal than sensual love. In the heart of the Jew love is
an infinite force. Too mighty to be confined to the narrow limits of
personal passion, it extends so as to include future generations.

Thus it happened that while in Christian poetry woman was the subject of
song and sonnet, in Jewish poetry she herself sang and composed, and her
productions are worthy of ranking beside the best poetic creations of
each generation.

The earliest blossoms of Jewish poetry by women unfolded in the
spring-like atmosphere of the Renaissance under the blue sky of Italy,
the home of the immortal trio, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. The
first Jewish women writers of Italian verse were Deborah Ascarelli and
Sara Copia Sullam, who, arrayed in the full panoply of the culture of
their day, and as thoroughly equipped with Jewish knowledge, devoted
their talents and their zeal to the service of their nation.

Deborah Ascarelli of Rome, the pride of her sex, was the wife of the
respected rabbi Giuseppe Ascarelli, and lived at Venice in the beginning
of the seventeenth century. She made a graceful Italian translation of
Moses Rieti's _Sefer ha-Hechal_, a Hebrew poem written in imitation of
the _Divina Commedia_, and enjoying much favor at Rome. As early as
1609, David della Rocca published a second edition of her translation,
dedicating it to the charming authoress. To put the highly wrought,
artificial poetry of the Hebrew Dante into mellifluous Italian verse was
by no means easy. While Rieti's poetry is not distinguished by the vigor
and fulness of the older classical productions of neo-Hebraic poetry,
his rhythm is smooth, pleasant, and polished. Yet her rendition is
admirable. Besides, she won fame as a writer of hymns in praise of the
God of her people, who so wondrously rescued it from all manner of

    "Let other poets of victory's trophies tell,
    Thy song will e'er thy people's praises swell,"

says a Jewish Italian poet enchanted by her talent.

A still more gifted poetess was Sara Copia Sullam, a particular star in
Judah's galaxy.[32] The only child of a wealthy Venetian at the end of
the sixteenth century, she was indulged in her love of study, and
afforded every opportunity to advance in the arts and sciences. "She
revelled in the realm of beauty, and crystallized her enthusiasm in
graceful, sweet, maidenly verses. Young, lovely, of generous impulses
and keen intellectual powers, her ambition set upon lofty attainments, a
favorite of the muses, Sara Copia charmed youth and age."

These graces of mind became her misfortune. An old Italian priest,
Ansaldo Çeba, in Genoa, published an Italian epic with the Esther of the
Bible as the heroine. Sara was delighted with the choice of the subject.
It was natural that a high-minded, sensitive girl with lofty ideals,
stung to the quick by the injustice and contumely suffered by her
people, should rejoice extravagantly in the praise lavished upon a
heroine of her nation. Carried away by enthusiasm she wrote the poet, a
stranger to her, a letter overflowing with gratitude for the pure
delight his poem had yielded her. Her passionate warmth, betraying at
once the accomplished poetess and the gifted thinker, did not fail to
fascinate the old priest, who immediately resolved to capture this
beautiful soul for the church. His desire brought about a lively
correspondence, our chief source of information about Sara Copia. Her
conversion became a passion with the highstrung priest, taking complete
possession of him during the last years of his life. He brought to bear
upon her case every trick of dialectics and flattery at his command. All
in vain. The greatest successes of which he could boast were her promise
to read the New Testament, and her consent to his praying for her
conversion. Sara's arguments in favor of Judaism arouse the reader's
admiration for the sharpness of intellect displayed, her poetic genius,
and her intimate acquaintance with Jewish sources as well as philosophic

Ansaldo never abandoned the hope of gaining her over to Christianity.
Unable to convince her reason, he attacked her heart. Though evincing
singular love and veneration for her old admirer, Sara could not be
moved from steadfast adherence to her faith. She sent him her picture
with the words: "This is the picture of one who carries yours deeply
graven on her heart, and, with finger pointing to her bosom, tells the
world: 'Here dwells my idol, bow before him.'"

With old age creeping upon him with its palsy touch, he continued to
think of nothing but Sara's conversion, and assailed her in prose and
verse. One of his imploring letters closes thus:

    "Life's fair, bright morn bathes thee in light,
      Thy cheeks are softly flushed with youthful zest.
    For me the night sets in; my limbs
      Are cold, but ardent love glows in my breast."

Sara having compared his poems with those of Amphion and Orpheus, he
answered her:

    "To Amphion the stones lent ear
      When soft he touched his lute;
    And beasts came trooping nigh to hear
      When Orpheus played his flute.

    How long, O Sara, wilt thou liken me
      To those great singers of the olden days?
    My God and faith I sought to give to thee,
      In vain I proved the error of thy ways.
    Their song had charms more potent than my own,
    Or art thou harder than a beast or stone?"

The query long remained unanswered, for just then the poetess was
harassed by many trials. Serious illness prostrated her, then her
beloved father died, and finally she was unjustly charged by the envious
among her co-religionists with neglect of Jewish observances, and denial
of the divine origin of the Law. She found no difficulty in refuting the
malicious accusation, but she was stung to the quick by the calumnious
attack, the pain it inflicted vanishing only in the presence of a grave
danger. Balthasar Bonifacio, an obscure author, in a brochure published
for that purpose, accused her of rejecting the doctrine of the
immortality of the soul, a most serious charge, which, if sustained,
would have thrown her into the clutches of the Inquisition. In two days
she wrote a brilliant defense completely exonerating herself and
exposing the spitefulness of the attack, a masterful production by
reason of its vigorous dialectics, incisive satire, and noble enthusiasm
for the cause of religion. Together with some few of her sonnets, this
is all that has come down to us of her writings. She opened her
vindication with the following sonnet:

    "O Lord, Thou know'st my inmost hope and thought,
      Thou know'st whene'er before Thy judgment throne
      I shed salt tears, and uttered many a moan,
    'Twas not for vanities that I besought.
    O turn on me Thy look with mercy fraught,
      And see how envious malice makes me groan!
      The pall upon my heart by error thrown
    Remove; illume me with Thy radiant thought.
      At truth let not the wicked scorner mock,
      O Thou, that breath'dst in me a spark divine.
      The lying tongue's deceit with silence blight,
      Protect me from its venom, Thou, my Rock,
      And show the spiteful sland'rer by this sign
      That Thou dost shield me with Thy endless might."

Sara's vindication was complete. Her friend Çeba was kept faithfully
informed of all that befell her, but he was absorbed in thoughts of her
conversion and his approaching end. He wrote to her that he did not care
to receive any more letters from her unless they announced her
acceptance of the true faith.

After Ansaldo's death, we hear nothing more about the poetess. She died
at the beginning of 1641, and the celebrated rabbi, Leon de Modena,
composed her epitaph, a poetic tribute to one whose life redounded to
the glory of Judaism.

Our subject now carries us from the luxuriant south to the dunes of the
North Sea. Holland was the first to open the doors of its cities
hospitably to the three hundred thousand Jews exiled from Spain, and its
busy capital Amsterdam became the centre whither tended the intelligent
of the Marranos, fleeing before the Holy Inquisition. Physicians,
mathematicians, philologists, military men, and diplomats, poets and
poetesses, took refuge there. Among the poetesses,[33] the most
prominent was Isabella Correa, distinguished for wit as well as poetic
endowment, the wife of the Jewish captain and author, Nicolas de Oliver
y Fullano, of Majorca. One of her contemporaries, Daniel de Barrios,
says that "she was an accomplished linguist, wrote delightful letters,
composed exquisite verses, played the lute like a _maestro_, and sang
like an angel. Her sparkling black eyes sent piercing darts into every
beholder's heart, and she was famed for beauty as well as intellect."
She made a noble Spanish translation of _Pastor Fido_, the most popular
Italian drama of the day, and published a volume of poems, also in
Spanish. Antonio dos Reys sings her praises:

  "_Pastor Fido!_ no longer art thou read in thy own tongue, since Correa,
  Faithfully rendering thy song, created thee anew in Spanish forms.
  A laurel wreath surmounts her brow,
  Because her right hand had cunning to strike tones from the tragic lyre.
  On the mount of singers, a seat is reserved for her,
  Albeit many a Batavian voice refused consent.
  For, Correa's faith invited scorn from aliens,
  And her own despised her cheerful serenity.
  Now, with greater justice, all bend a reverent knee to Correa, the Jewess,
  Correa, who, it seems, is wholly like Lysia."

Donna Isabella Enriquez, a Spanish poetess of great versatility, was her
contemporary. She lived first in Madrid, afterwards in Amsterdam, and
even in advanced age was surrounded by admirers. At the age of
sixty-two, she presented the men of her acquaintance with amulets
against love, notwithstanding that she had spoken and written against
the use of charms. For instance, when an egg with a crown on the end was
found in the house of Isaac Aboab, the celebrated rabbi at Amsterdam,
she wrote him the following:

    "See, the terror! Lo! the wonder!
    Basilisk, the fabled viper!
    Superstition names it so.
    Look at it, I pray, with calmness,
    'Twas thy mind that was at fault.
    God's great goodness is displayed here;
    He, I trow, rewards thy eloquence
    In the monster which thou seest:
    All this rounded whole's thy virtue,
    Wisdom's symbol is the crown!"

Besides Isabella Correa and Isabella Enriquez, we have the names, though
not the productions, of Sara de Fonseca Pina y Pimentel, Bienvenida
Cohen Belmonte, and Manuela Nunes de Almeida. They have left but faint
traces of their work, and fancy can fill in the sketch only with

After these Marrano poetesses, silence fell upon the women of Israel for
a whole century--a century of oppression and political slavery, of
isolation in noisome Ghettos, of Christian scorn and mockery. The Jews
of Germany and Poland, completely crushed beneath the load of sorrow,
hibernated until the gentle breath of a new time, levelling Ghetto walls
and heralding a dawn when human rights would be recognized, awoke them
to activity and achievement.

Mighty is the spirit of the times! It clears a way for itself, boldly
pushing aside every stumbling-block in the shape of outworn prejudices
and decaying customs. A century dawned, the promise of liberty and
tolerance flaming on its horizon, to none so sweet as to the Jew. Who
has the heart to cast the first stone upon a much-tried race, tortured
throughout the centuries, for surrendering itself to the unwonted joy of
living, for drinking deep, intoxicating draughts from the newly
discovered fount of liberty, and, alas! for throwing aside, under the
burning sun of the new era, the perennial protection of its religion?
And may we utterly condemn the daughters of Israel, the "roses of
Sharon," and "lilies of the valleys," "unkissed by the dew, lost
wanderers cheered by no greeting," who, now that all was sunshine,
forgot their people, and disregarded the sanctity of family bonds, their
shield and their refuge in the sorrow and peril of the dark ages?

With emotion, with pain, not with resentment, Jewish history tells of
those women, who spurned Judaism, knowing only its external appearance,
its husk, not its essence, high ethical principles and philosophical
truths--of Rahel Varnhagen, Henriette Herz, Regina Fröhlich, Dorothea
Mendelssohn, Sarah and Marianne Meyer, Esther Gad, and many others,
first products of German culture in alliance with Jewish wit and

Rahel Levin was the foster-mother of "Young Germany," and leader in the
woman's emancipation movement, so fruitful later on of deplorable
excesses. Rahel herself never overstepped the limits of "_das
Ewig-Weibliche_." No act of hers ran counter to the most exalted
requirements of morality. Her being was pervaded by high seriousness,
noble dignity, serene cheerfulness. "She dwelt always in the Holy of
holies of thought, and even her most daring wishes for herself and
mankind leapt shyly heavenwards like pure sacrificial flames." Nothing
more touching can be found in the history of the human heart than her
confession before death: "With sublime rapture I dwell upon my origin
and the marvellous web woven by fate, binding together the oldest
recollections of the human race and its most recent aspirations,
connecting scenes separated by the greatest possible intervals of time
and space. My Jewish birth which I long considered a stigma, a sore
disgrace, has now become a precious inheritance, of which nothing on
earth can deprive me."[34]

The fact is that Rahel Levin was a great woman, great even in her
aberrations, while her satellites, shining by reflected light, and
pretending to perpetuate her spirit, transgressed the bounds of
womanliness, and opened wide a door to riotous sensuality. Certain
opponents of the woman's emancipation movement take malicious
satisfaction in rehearsing that it was a Jewess who inaugurated it,
prudently neglecting to mention that in the list of Rahel's followers,
not one Jewish name appears.

The spirit of Judaism and with it the spirit of morality can never be
extinguished. They may flag, or vanish for a time, but their restoration
in increased vigor and radiance is certain; for, they bear within
themselves the guarantee of a future. Henriette Herz, the apostate
daughter of Judaism chewing the cud of Schleiermacher's sentimentality
and Schlegel's romanticism, had not yet passed away when England
produced Jewish women whose deeds were quickened by the spirit of olden
heroism, who walked in the paths of wisdom and faith, and, recoiling
from the cowardice that counsels apostasy, would have fought, if need
be, suffered, and bled, for their faith. What answer but the blush of
shame mantling her cheek could the proud beauty have found, had she been
asked by, let us say, Lady Judith Montefiore, to tell what it was that
chained her to the ruins of the Jewish race?

Lady Montefiore truly was a heroine, worthy to be named with those who
have made our past illustrious, and her peer in intellect and strength
of character was Charlotte Montefiore, whose early death was a serious
loss to Judaism as well as to her family. Her work, "A Few Words to the
Jews by one of themselves," containing that charming tale, "The Jewel
Island," displays intellectual and poetic gifts.

The most prominent of women writers in our era unquestionably is Grace
Aguilar, in whom we must admire the rare union of broad culture and
profound piety. She was born at Hackney in June of 1816, and early
showed extraordinary talent and insatiable thirst for knowledge. In her
twelfth year she wrote "Gustavus Vasa," an historical drama evincing
such unusual gifts that her parents were induced to devote themselves
exclusively to her education. It is a charming picture this, of a young,
gifted girl, under the loving care of cultured parents actuated by the
sole desire to imbue their daughter with their own taste for natural and
artistic beauty and their steadfast love for Judaism, and content to
lead a modest existence, away from the bustle and the opportunities of
the city, in order to be able to give themselves up wholly to the
education and companionship of their beloved, only daughter. Under the
influence of a wise friend, Grace Aguilar herself tells us, she
supplicated God to enable her to do something by which her people might
gain higher esteem with their Christian fellow-citizens.

God hearkened unto her prayer, for her efforts were crowned with
success. Her first work was the translation of a book from the Hebrew,
"Israel Defended." Next came "The Magic Wreath," a collection of poems,
and then her well-known works, "Home Influence," "The Spirit of
Judaism," her best production, "The Women of Israel," "The Jewish
Faith," and "History of the Jews in England"--a rich harvest for one
whose span of life was short. Her pen was dipped into the blood of her
veins and the sap of her nerves; the sacred fire of the prophets burnt
in her soul, and she was inspired by olden Jewish enthusiasm and
devotion to a trust.

So ardent a spirit could not long be imprisoned within so frail a body.
In the very prime of life, just thirty-one years old, Grace Aguilar
passed away, as though her beautiful soul were hastening to shake off
the mortal coil. She rests in German earth, in the Frankfort Jewish
cemetery. Her grave is marked with a simple stone, bearing an equally
simple epitaph:

    "Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    And let her own works praise her in the gates."

Her death was deeply lamented far and wide. She was a golden link in the
chain of humanity--a bold, courageous, withal thoroughly womanly woman,
a God-inspired daughter of her race and faith. "We are persuaded," says
a non-Jewish friend of hers, "that had this young woman lived in the
times of frightful persecution, she would willingly have mounted the
stake for her faith, praying for her murderers with her last breath."
That the nobility of a solitary woman, leaping like a flame from heart
to heart, may inspire high-minded thoughts, and that Grace Aguilar's
life became a blessing for her people and for humanity, is illustrated
by the following testimonial signed by several hundred Jewish women,
presented to her when she was about to leave England:

"Dearest Sister--Our admiration of your talents, our veneration for your
character, our gratitude for the eminent services your writings render
our sex, our people, our faith, in which the sacred cause of true
religion is embodied: all these motives combine to induce us to intrude
on your presence, in order to give utterance to sentiments which we are
happy to feel and delighted to express. Until you arose, it has, in
modern times, never been the case that a Woman in Israel should stand
forth the public advocate of the faith of Israel; that with the depth
and purity of feelings which is the treasure of woman, and with the
strength of mind and extensive knowledge that form the pride of man, she
should call on her own to cherish, on others to respect, the truth as it
is in Israel.

"You, dearest Sister, have done this, and more. You have taught us to
know and appreciate our dignity; to feel and to prove that no female
character can be ... more pure than that of the Jewish maiden, none more
pious than that of the woman in Israel. You have vindicated our social
and spiritual equality with our brethren in the faith: you have, by your
own excellent example, triumphantly refuted the aspersion, that the
Jewish religion leaves unmoved the heart of the Jewish woman. Your
writings place within our reach those higher motives, those holier
consolations, which flow from the spirituality of our religion, which
urge the soul to commune with its Maker and direct it to His grace and
His mercy as the best guide and protector here and hereafter...."

Her example fell like seed upon fertile soil, for Abigail Lindo, Marian
Hartog, Annette Salomon, and especially Anna Maria Goldsmid, a writer of
merit, daughter of the well-known Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, may be
considered her disciples, the fruit of her sowing.

The Italian poetess, Rachel Morpurgo, a worthy successor of Deborah
Ascarelli and Sara Copia Sullam, was contemporaneous with Grace Aguilar,
though her senior by twenty-six years. Our interest in her is heightened
by her use of the Hebrew language, which she handled with such
consummate skill that her writings easily take rank with the best of
neo-Hebraic literature. A niece of the famous scholar S. D. Luzzatto,
she was born at Triest, April 8, 1790. Until the age of twelve she
studied the Bible, then she read Bechaï's "Duties of the Heart" and
Rashi's commentary, and from her fourteenth to her sixteenth year she
devoted herself to the Talmud and the Zohar--a remarkable course of
study, pursued, too, in despite of adverse circumstances. At the same
time she was taught the turner's art by Luzzatto's father, and later she
learned tailoring. One of her poems having been published without her
knowledge, she gives vent to her regret in a sonnet:

    "My soul surcharged with grief now loud complains,
      And fears upon my spirit heavily weigh.
      'Thy poem we have heard,' the people say,
    'Who like to thee can sing melodious strains?'
    'They're naught but sparks,' outspeaks my soul in chains,
      'Struck from my life by torture every day.
      But now all perfume's fled--no more my lay
    Shall rise; for, fear of shame my song restrains.'
      A woman's fancies lightly roam, and weave
      Themselves into a fairy web. Should I
      Refrain? Ah! soon enough this pleasure, too,
      Will flee! Verily I cannot conceive
      Why I'm extolled. For woman 'tis to ply
      The spinning wheel--then to herself she's true."

This painful self-consciousness, coupled with the oppression of material
cares, forms the sad refrain of Rachel Morpurgo's writings. She is a
true poetess: the woes of humanity are reflected in her own sorrows, to
which she gave utterance in soulful tones. She, too, became an exemplar
for a number of young women. A Pole, Yenta Wohllerner, like Rachel
Morpurgo, had to propitiate churlish circumstances before she could
publish the gifts of her muse, and Miriam Mosessohn, Bertha Rabbinowicz,
and others, emulated her masterly handling of the Hebrew language.

The opening of the new era was marked by the appearance of a triad of
Jewesses--Grace Aguilar in England, Rachel Morpurgo in Italy, and
Henriette Ottenheimer in Germany. A native of the blessed land of
Suabia, Henriette Ottenheimer was consecrated to poetry by intercourse
with two masters of song--Uhland and Rückert. Her poems, fragrant
blossoms plucked on Suabian fields, for the most part are no more than
sweet womanly lyrics, growing strong with the force of enthusiasm only
when she dwells upon her people's sacred mission and the heroes of Bible

Women like these renew the olden fame of the Jewess, and add
achievements to her brilliant record. As for their successors and
imitators, our contemporaries, whose literary productions are before us,
on them we may not yet pass judgment; their work is still on probation.

One striking circumstance in connection with their activity should be
pointed out, because it goes to prove the soundness of judgment, the
penetration, and expansiveness characteristic of Jews. While the
movement for woman's complete emancipation has counted not a single
Jewess among its promoters, its more legitimate successor, the movement
to establish woman's right and ability to earn a livelihood in any
branch of human endeavor--a right and ability denied only by prejudice,
or stupidity--was headed and zealously supported by Jewesses, an
assertion which can readily be proved by such names as Lina Morgenstern,
known to the public also as an advocate of moderate religious reforms,
Jenny Hirsch, Henriette Goldschmidt, and a number of writers on subjects
of general and Jewish interest, such as Rachel Meyer, Elise Levi
(Henle), Ulla Frank-Wolff, Johanna Goldschmidt, Caroline Deutsch, in
Germany; Rebekah Eugenie Foa, Julianna and Pauline Bloch, in France;
Estelle and Maria Hertzveld, in Holland, and Emma Lazarus, in America.

One other name should be recorded. Fanny Neuda, the writer of "Hours of
Devotion," and a number of juvenile stories, has a double claim upon our
recognition, inasmuch as she is an authoress of the Jewish race who has
addressed her writings exclusively to Jewish women.

We have followed Jewish women from the days of their first flight into
the realm of song through a period of two thousand years up to modern
times, when our record would seem to come to a natural conclusion. But I
deem it proper to bring to your attention a set of circumstances which
would be called phenomenal, were it not, as we all know, that the
greatest of all wonders is that true wonders are so common.

It is a well-known fact, spread by literary journals, that the
Rothschild family, conspicuous for financial ability, has produced a
goodly number of authoresses. But it is less well known, and much more
noteworthy, that many of the excellent women of this family have devoted
their literary gifts and attainments to the service of Judaism. The
palaces of the Rothschilds, the richest family in the world, harbor many
a warm heart, whose pulsations are quickened by the thought of Israel's
history and poetic heritage. Wealth has not abated a jot of their
enthusiasm and loyal love for the faith. The first of the house of
Rothschild to make a name for herself as an authoress was Lady
Charlotte Rothschild, in London, one of the noblest women of our time,
who, standing in the glare of prosperity, did not disdain to take up the
cudgels in defense of her people, to go Sabbath after Sabbath to her
poor, unfortunate sisters in faith, and expound to them, in the school
established by her generosity, the nature and duties of a moral,
religious life, in lectures pervaded by the spirit of truth and faith.
Two volumes of these addresses have been published in German and English
(1864 and 1869), and every page gives evidence of rare piety,
considerable scholarship, thorough knowledge of the Bible, and a high
degree of culture. Equal enthusiasm for Judaism pervades the two volumes
of "Thoughts Suggested by Bible Texts" (1859), by Baroness Louise,
another of the English Rothschilds.

Three young women of this house, in which wealth is not hostile to
idealism, have distinguished themselves as writers, foremost among them
Clementine Rothschild, a gentle, sweet maiden, claimed by death before
life with its storms could rob her of the pure ideals of youth. She died
in her twentieth year, and her legacy to her family and her faith is
contained in "Letters to a Christian Friend on the Fundamental Truths of
Judaism," abundantly worthy of the perusal of all women, regardless of
creed. This young woman displayed more courage, more enthusiasm, more
wit, to be sure also more precise knowledge of Judaism, than thousands
of men of our time, young and old, who fancy grandiloquent periods
sufficient to solve the great religious problems perplexing mankind.

Finally, mention must be made of Constance and Anna de Rothschild, whose
two volume "History and Literature of the Israelites" (1872) created a
veritable sensation, and awakened the literary world to the fact that
the Rothschild family is distinguished not only for wealth, but also for
the talent and religious zeal of its authoresses.

I have ventured to group these women of the Rothschild family together
as a conclusion to the history of Jewish women in literature, because I
take their work to be an earnest of future accomplishment. Such examples
cannot fail to kindle the spark of enthusiasm slumbering in the hearts
of Jewish women, and the sacred flame of religious zeal, tended once
more by women, will leap from rank to rank in the Jewish army. As it is,
a half-century has brought about a remarkable change in feeling towards
Judaism. Fifty years ago the following lines by Caroline Deutsch, one of
the above-mentioned modern German writers, could not have awakened the
same responsive chord as now:

    "Little cruet in the Temple
      That didst feed the sacrificial flame,
    What a true expressive symbol
      Art thou of my race, of Israel's fame!
    Thou for days the oil didst furnish
      To illume the Temple won from foe--
    So for centuries in my people
      Spirit of resistance ne'er burnt low.
    It was cast from home and country,
      Gloom and sorrow were its daily lot;
    Yet the torch of faith gleamed steady,
      Courage, like thy oil, forsook it not.
    Mocks and jeers were all its portion,
      Death assailed it in ten thousand forms--
    Yet this people never faltered,
      Hope, its beacon, led it through all storms.
    Poorer than dumb, driven cattle,
      It went forth enslaved from its estate,
    All its footsore wand'rings lighted
      By its consciousness of worth innate.
    Luckless fortunes could not bend it;
      Unjust laws increased its wondrous faith;
    From its heart exhaustless streaming,
      Freedom's light shone on its thorny path.
    Oil that burnt in olden Temple,
      Eight days only didst thou give forth light!
    Oil of faith sustained this people
      Through the centuries of darkest night!"

We can afford to look forward to the future of Judaism serenely. The
signs of the times seem propitious to him whose eye is clear to read
them, whose heart not too embittered to understand their message aright.

Our rough and tumble time, delighting in negation and destruction,
crushing underfoot the tender blossoms of poetry and faith, living up to
its quasi motto, "What will not die of itself, must be put to death,"
will suddenly come to a stop in its mad career of annihilation. That
will mark the dawn of a new era, the first stirrings of a new
spring-tide for storm-driven Israel. On the ruins will rise the Jewish
home, based on Israel's world-saving conception of family life, which,
having enlightened the nations of the earth, will return to the source
whence it first issued. Built on this foundation, and resting on the
pillars of modern culture, Jewish spirit, and true morality, the Jewish
home will once more invite the nations to exclaim: "How beautiful are
thy tents, O Jacob, thy dwellings, O Israel!"

May the soft starlight of woman's high ideals continue to gleam on the
thorny path of the thinker Israel; may they never depart from Israel,
those God-kissed women that draw inspiration at the sacred fount of
poesy, and are consecrated by its limpid waters to give praise and
thanksgiving to Him that reigns on high; may the poet's words ever
remain applicable to the matrons and maidens of Israel:[35]

    "Pure woman stands in life's turmoil
      A rose in leafy bower;
    Her aspirations and her toil
      Are tinted like a flower.

    Her thoughts are pious, kind, and true,
      In evil have no part;
    A glimpse of empyrean blue
      Is seen within her heart."


"Who is Maimonides? For my part, I confess that I have merely heard the
name." This naïve admission was not long since made by a well-known
French writer in discussing the subject of a prize-essay, "Upon the
Philosophy of Maimonides," announced by the _académie universitaire_ of
Paris. What short memories the French have for the names of foreign
scholars! When the proposed subject was submitted to the French minister
of instruction, he probably asked himself the same question; but he was
not at a loss for an answer; he simply substituted Spinoza for
Maimonides. To be sure, Spinoza's philosophy is somewhat better known
than that of Maimonides. But why should a minister of instruction take
that into consideration? The minister and the author--both presumably
over twenty-five years of age--might have heard this very question
propounded and answered some years before. They might have known that
their colleague Victor Cousin, to save Descartes from the disgrace of
having stood sponsor to Spinozism, had established a far-fetched
connection between the Dutch philosopher and the Spanish, pronouncing
Spinoza the devoted disciple of Maimonides. Perhaps they might have been
expected to know, too, that Solomon Munk, through his French
translation of Maimonides' last work, had made it possible for modern
thinkers to approach the Jewish philosopher, and that soon after this
translation was published, E. Saisset had written an article upon Jewish
philosophy in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, in which he gave a popular
and detailed exposition of Maimonides' religious views. All this they
did not know, and, had they known it, they surely would not have been so
candid as the German thinker, Heinrich Ritter, who, in his "History of
Christian Philosophy," frankly admits: "My impression was that mediæval
philosophy was not indebted to Jewish metaphysicians for any original
line of thought, but M. Munk's discovery convinced me of my

Who was Maimonides? The question is certainly more justifiable upon
German than upon French soil. In France, attention has been invited to
his works, while in Germany, save in the circle of the learned, he is
almost unknown. Even among Jews, who call him "Rambam," he is celebrated
rather than known. It seems, then, that it may not be unprofitable to
present an outline of the life and works of this philosopher of the
middle ages, whom scholars have sought to connect with Spinoza, with
Leibnitz, and even with Kant.[37]

While readers in general possess but little information about Maimonides
himself, the period in which he lived, and which derives much of its
brilliancy and importance from him, is well known, and has come to be a
favorite subject with modern writers. That period was a very dreamland
of culture. Under enlightened caliphs, the Arabs in Spain developed a
civilization which, during the whole of the middle ages up to the
Renaissance, exercised pregnant influence upon every department of human
knowledge. A dreamland, in truth, it appears to be, when we reflect that
the descendants of a highly cultured people, the teachers of Europe in
many sciences, are now wandering in African wilds, nomads, who know of
the glories of their past only through a confused legend, holding out to
them the extravagant hope that the banner of the Prophet may again wave
from the cathedral of Granada. Yet this Spanish-Arabic period bequeathed
to us such magnificent tokens of architectural skill, of scientific
research, and of philosophic thought, that far from regarding it as
fancy's dream, we know it to be one of the corner-stones of

Prominent among the great men of this period was the Jew Moses ben
Maimon, or as he was called in Arabic, Abu Amran Musa ibn Maimûn Obaid
Allah (1135-1204). It may be said that he represented the full measure
of the scientific attainments of the age at the close of which he
stood--an age whose culture comprised the whole circle of sciences then
known, and whose conscious goal was the reconciliation of religion and
philosophy. The sturdier the growth of the spirit of inquiry, the more
ardent became the longing to reach this goal, the keener became the
perception of the problems of life and faith. Arabic and Jewish thinkers
zealously sought the path leading to serenity. Though they never entered
upon it, their tentative efforts naturally prepared the way for a great
comprehensive intellect. Only a genius, master of all the sciences,
combining soundness of judgment and clearness of insight with great
mental vigor and depth, can succeed in reconciling the divergent
principles of theology and speculation, if such reconciliation be within
the range of the possible. At Cordova, in 1135, when the sun of Arabic
culture reached its zenith, was born Maimonides, the man gifted with
this all-embracing mind.

Many incidents in his life, not less interesting than his philosophic
development, have come down to us. His father was his first teacher. To
escape the persecutions of the Almohades, Maimonides, then thirteen
years old, removed to Fez with his family. There religious persecution
forced Jews to abjure their faith, and the family of Maimon, like many
others, had to comply, outwardly at least, with the requirements of
Islam. At Fez Maimonides was on intimate terms with physicians and
philosophers. At the same time, both in personal intercourse with them
and in his writings, he exhorted his pseudo-Mohammedan brethren to
remain true to Judaism. This would have cost him his life, had he not
been rescued by the kindly offices of Mohammedan theologians. The
feeling of insecurity induced his family to leave Fez and join the
Jewish community in Palestine. "They embarked at dead of night. On the
sixth day of their voyage on the Mediterranean, a frightful storm arose;
mountainous waves tossed the frail ship about like a ball; shipwreck
seemed imminent. The pious family besought God's protection. Maimonides
vowed that if he were rescued from threatening death, he would, as a
thank-offering for himself and his family, spend two days in fasting and
distributing alms, and devote another day to solitary communion with
God. The storm abated, and after a month's voyage, the vessel ran into
the harbor of Accho."[38] The travellers met with a warm welcome, but
they tarried only a brief while, and finally settled permanently in
Egypt. There, too, disasters befell Maimonides, who found solace only in
his implicit reliance on God and his enthusiastic devotion to learning.
It was then that Maimonides became the religious guide of his brethren.
At the same time he attained to eminence in his medical practice, and
devoted himself zealously to the study of philosophy and the natural
sciences. Yet he did not escape calumny, and until 1185 fortune refused
to smile upon him. In that year a son, afterwards the joy and pride of
his heart, was born to him. Then he was appointed physician at the court
of Saladin, and so great was his reputation that Richard Coeur de Lion
wished to make him his physician in ordinary, but Maimonides refused the
offer. Despite the fact that his works raised many enemies against him,
his influence grew in the congregations of his town and province. From
all sides questions were addressed to him, and when religious points
were under debate, his opinion usually decided the issue. At his death
at the age of seventy great mourning prevailed in Israel. His mortal
remains were moved to Tiberias, and a legend reports that Bedouins
attacked the funeral train. Finding it impossible to move the coffin
from the spot, they joined the Jews, and followed the great man to his
last resting-place. The deep reverence accorded him both by the moral
sense and the exuberant fancy of his race is best expressed in the brief
eulogy of the saying, now become almost a proverb: "From Moses, the
Prophet, to Moses ben Maimon, there appeared none like unto Moses."

In three different spheres Maimonides' work produced important results.
First in order stand his services to his fellow-believers. For them he
compiled the great Codex, the first systematic arrangement, upon the
basis of Talmudic tradition, of all the ordinances and tenets of
Judaism. He gave them a system of ethics which even now should be
prized, because it inculcates the highest possible ethical views and the
most ideal conception of man's duties in life. He explained to them,
almost seven hundred years ago, Islam's service to mankind, and the
mission Christianity was appointed by Providence to accomplish.

His early writings reveal the fundamental principles of his subsequent
literary work. An astronomical treatise on the Jewish calendar, written
in his early youth, illustrates his love of system, but his peculiar
method of thinking and working is best shown in the two works that
followed. The first is a commentary on parts of the Talmud, probably
meant to present such conclusions of the Babylonian and the Jerusalem
Talmud as affect the practices of Judaism. The second is his Arabic
commentary on the Mishna. He explains the Mishna simply and clearly from
a strictly rabbinical point of view--a point of view which he never
relinquished, permitting a deviation only in questions not affecting
conduct. Master of the abundant material of Jewish literature, he felt
it to be one of the most important tasks of the age to simplify, by
methodical treatment, the study of the mass of written and traditional
religious laws, accumulated in the course of centuries. It is this work
that contains the attempt, praised by some, condemned by others, to
establish articles of the Jewish faith, the Bible being used in
authentication. Thirteen articles of faith were thus established. The
first five naturally define the God-idea: Article 1 declares the
existence of God, 2, His unity, 3, His immateriality, 4, His eternity,
5, that unto Him alone, to whom all created life owes its being, human
adoration is due; the next four treat of revelation: 6, of revelations
made through prophets in general, 7, of the revelation made through
Moses, 8, of the divine origin of the Law, 9, of the perfection of the
Law, and its eternally binding force; and the rest dwell upon the
divine government of the world: 10, Divine Providence, 11, reward and
punishment, here and hereafter, 12, Messianic promises and hopes, and
13, resurrection.

Maimonides' high reputation among his own people is attested by his
letters and responses, containing detailed answers to vexed religious
questions. An especially valuable letter is the one upon "Enforced
Apostasy," _Iggereth ha-Sh'mad_. He advises an inquirer what to do when
menaced by religious persecutions. Is one to save life by accepting, or
to court death by refusing to embrace, the Mohammedan faith? Maimonides'
opinion is summed up in the words: "The solution which I always
recommend to my friends and those consulting me is, to leave such
regions, and to turn to a place in which religion can be practiced
without fear of persecution. No considerations of danger, of property,
or of family should prevent one from carrying out this purpose. The
divine Law stands in higher esteem with the wise than the haphazard
gifts of fortune. These pass away, the former remains." His responses as
well as his most important works bear the impress of a sane,
well-ordered mind, of a lofty intellect, dwelling only upon what is
truly great.

Also his second famous work, the above-mentioned Hebrew Codex, _Mishneh
Torah_, "Recapitulation of the Law," was written in the interest of his
brethren in faith. Its fourteen divisions treat of knowledge, love, the
festivals, marriage laws, sanctifications, vows, seeds, Temple-service,
sacrifices, purifications, damages, purchase and sale, courts, and
judges. "My work is such," says Maimonides, "that my book in connection
with the Bible will enable a student to dispense with the Talmud." From
whatever point of view this work may be regarded, it must be admitted
that Maimonides carried out his plan with signal success, and that it is
the only one by which method could have been introduced into the
manifold departments of Jewish religious lore. But it is obvious that
the thinker had not yet reached the goal of his desires. In consonance
with his fundamental principle, a scientific systemization of religious
laws had to be followed up by an explanation of revealed religion and
Greek-Arabic philosophy, and by the attempt to bring about a
reconciliation between them.

Before we enter upon this his greatest book, it is well to dispose of
the second phase of his work, his activity as a medical writer.
Maimonides treated medicine as a science, a view not usual in those
days. The body of facts relating to medicine he classified, as he had
systematized the religious laws of the Talmud. In his methodical way, he
also edited the writings of Galen, the medical oracle of the middle
ages, and his own medical aphorisms and treatises are marked by the same
love of system. It seems that he had the intention to prepare a medical
codex to serve a purpose similar to that of his religious code. How
great a reputation he enjoyed among Mohammedan physicians is shown by
the extravagantly enthusiastic verses of an Arabic poet:

    "Of body's ills doth Galen's art relieve,
    Maimonides cures mind and body both,--
    His wisdom heals disease and ignorance.
    And should the moon invoke his skill and art,
    Her spots, when full her orb, would disappear;
    He'd fill her breach, when time doth inroads make,
    And cure her, too, of pallor caused by earth."

Maimonides' real greatness, however, must be sought in his philosophic
work. Despite the wide gap between our intellectual attitude and the
philosophic views to which Maimonides gave fullest expression, we can
properly appreciate his achievements and his intellectual grasp by
judging him with reference to his own time. When we realize that he
absorbed all the thought-currents of his time, that he was their
faithful expounder, and that, at the same time, he was gifted with an
accurate, historic instinct, making him wholly objective, we shall
recognize in him "the genius of his peculiar epoch become incarnate."
The work containing Maimonides' deepest thought and the sum of his
knowledge and erudition was written in Arabic under the name _Dalalat
al-Haïrin_. In Hebrew it is known as _Moreh Nebuchim_, in Latin, as
_Doctor Perplexorum_, and in English as the "Guide of the Perplexed." To
this book we shall now devote our attention. The original Arabic text
was supposed, along with many other literary treasures of the middle
ages, to be lost, until Solomon Munk, the blind _savant_ with clear
vision, discovered it in the library at Paris, and published it. But in
its Hebrew translation the book created a stir, which subsided only with
its public burning at Montpellier early in the thirteenth century. The
Latin translation we owe to Buxtorf; the German is, I believe,
incomplete, and can hardly be said to give evidence of ripe

The question that naturally suggests itself is: What does the book
contain? Does it establish a new system of philosophy? Is it a
cyclopædia of the sciences, such as the Arab schools of that day were
wont to produce? Neither the one nor the other. The "Guide of the
Perplexed" is a system of rational theology upon a philosophic basis, a
book not intended for novices, but for thinkers, for such minds as know
how to penetrate the profound meaning of tradition, as the author says
in a prefatory letter addressed to Joseph ibn Aknin, his favorite
disciple. He believes that even those to whom the book appeals are often
puzzled and confused by the apparent inconsistencies between the literal
interpretation of the Bible and the evidence of reason, that they do not
know whether to take Scriptural expressions as symbolic or allegoric, or
to accept them in their literal meaning, and that they fall a prey to
doubt, and long for a guide. Maimonides is prepared to lead them to an
eminence on which religion and philosophy meet in perfect harmony.

Educated in the school of Arabic philosophers, notably under the
influence of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Maimonides paid hero-worship to
Aristotle, the autocrat of the middle ages in the realm of speculation.
There is no question that the dominion wielded by the Greek philosopher
throughout mediæval times, and the influence which he exercises even
now, are chiefly attributable to the Arabs, and beside them,
pre-eminently to Maimonides. For him, Aristotle was second in authority
only to the Bible. A rational interpretation of the Bible, in his
opinion, meant its interpretation from an Aristotelian point of view.
Still, he does not consider Aristotle other than a thinker like himself,
not by any means the infallible "organ of reason." The moment he
discovers that a peripatetic principle is in direct and irreconcilable
conflict with his religious convictions, he parts company with it, let
the effort cost what it may. For, above all, Maimonides was a faithful
Jew, striving to reach a spiritual conception of his religion, and to
assign to theology the place in his estimation belonging to it in the
realm of science. He stands forth as the most eminent intermediary
between Greek-Arabic thought and Christian scholasticism. A century
later, the most prominent of the schoolmen endeavored, in the same way
as Maimonides, to reconcile divine with human wisdom as manifested by
Aristotle. It has been demonstrated that Maimonides was followed by both
Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, and that the new aims of philosophy,
conceived at the beginning of the thirteenth century, are, in part, to
be traced to the influence of "Rabbi Moses of Egypt," as Maimonides was
called by the first of these two celebrated doctors of the Church.

What a marvellous picture is presented by the unfolding of the
Aristotelian idea in its passage through the ages! And one of the most
attractive figures on the canvas is Maimonides. Let us see how he
undertakes to guide the perplexed. His path is marked out for him by the
Bible. Its first few verses suffice to puzzle the believing thinker. It
says: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." What! Is this
expression to be taken literally? Impossible! To conceive of God as such
that a being can be made in His image, is to conceive of Him as a
corporeal substance. But God is an invisible, immaterial Intelligence.
Reason teaches this, and the sacred Book itself prohibits image-worship.
On this point Aristotle and the Bible are in accord. The inference is
that in the Holy Scriptures there are many metaphors and words with a
double or allegoric sense. Such is the case with the word "image." It
has two meanings, the one usual and obvious, the other figurative. Here
the word must be taken in its figurative sense. God is conceived as the
highest Reason, and as reason is the specific attribute which
characterizes the human mind, it follows that man, by virtue of his
possession of reason, resembles God, and the more fully he realizes the
ideal of Reason, the closer does he approach the form and likeness of
God. Such is Maimonides' method of reasoning. He does not build up a new
system of philosophy, he adopts an existing system. Beginning with Bible
exegesis, he leads us, step by step, up to the lofty goal at which
philosophy and faith are linked in perfect harmony.

The arguments for the existence, unity, and incorporeity of God divide
the Arabic philosophers into two schools. Maimonides naturally espoused
the view permitting the most exalted conception of God, that is, the
conception of God free from human attributes. He recognizes none but
negative attributes; in other words, he defines God by means of
negations only. For instance, asserting that the Supreme Being is
omniscient or omnipotent, is not investing Him with a positive
attribute, it is simply denying imperfection. The student knows that in
the history of the doctrine of attributes, the recognition of negative
attributes marks a great advance in philosophic reasoning. Maimonides
holds that the conception of the Deity as a pure abstraction is the only
one truly philosophic. His evidences for the existence, the
immateriality, and the unity of God, are conceived in the same spirit.
In offering them he follows Aristotle's reasoning closely, adding only
one other proof, the cosmological, which he took from his teacher, the
Arab Avicenna. He logically reaches this proof by more explicitly
defining the God-idea, and, at the same time, taking into consideration
the nature of the world of things and their relation to one another.
Acquainted with Ptolemy's "Almagest" and with the investigations of the
Arabs, he naturally surpasses his Greek master in astronomical
knowledge. In physical science, however, he gives undivided allegiance
to the Aristotelian theory of a sublunary and a celestial world of
spheres, the former composed of the sublunary elements in constantly
shifting, perishable combinations, and the latter, of the stable,
unchanging fifth substance (quintessence). But the question, how God
moves these spheres, separates Maimonides from his master. His own
answer has a Neoplatonic ring. He holds, with Aristotle, that there are
as many separate Intelligences as spheres. Each sphere is supposed to
aspire to the Intelligence which is the principle of its motion. The
Arabic thinkers assumed ten such independent Intelligences, one
animating each of the nine permanent spheres, and the tenth, called the
"Active Intellect," influencing the sublunary world of matter. The
existence of this tenth Intelligence is proved by the transition of our
own intellect from possible existence to actuality, and by the varying
forms of all transient things, whose matter at one time existed only in
a potential state. Whenever the transition from potentiality to
actuality occurs, there must be a cause. Inasmuch as the tenth
Intelligence (_Sechel Hapoel_, Active Intellect) induces form, it must
itself be form, inasmuch as it is the source of intellect, it is itself
intellect. This is, of course, obscure to us, but we must remember that
Maimonides would not have so charming and individual a personality,
were he not part and parcel of his time and the representative of its
belief. Maimonides, having for once deviated from the peripatetic
system, ventures to take another bold step away from it. He offers an
explanation, different from Aristotle's, of the creation of the world.
The latter repudiated the _creatio ex nihilo_ (creation out of nothing).
Like modern philosophers, he pre-supposed the existence of an eternal
"First substance" (_materia prima_). His Bible does not permit our rabbi
to avail himself of this theory. It was reserved for the modern
investigator to demonstrate how the Scriptural word, with some little
manipulation, can be so twisted as to be made to harmonize with the
theories of natural science. But to such trickery the pure-minded guide
will not stoop. Besides, the acceptance of Aristotle's theory would rule
out the intervention of miracles in the conduct of the world, and that
Maimonides does not care to renounce. Right here his monotheistic
convictions force him into direct opposition to the Greek as well as to
the Arabic philosophers. Upon this subject, he brooked neither trifling
nor compromise with reason. It is precisely his honesty that so exalted
his teachings, that they have survived the lapse of centuries, and
maintain a place in the pure atmosphere of modern philosophic thought.

According to Maimonides, man has absolute free-will, and God is
absolutely just. Whatever good befalls man is reward, all his evil
fortune, punishment. What Aristotle attributes to chance, and the
Mohammedan philosophers to Divine Will or Divine Wisdom, our rabbi
traces to the _merits of man_ as its cause. He does not admit any
suffering to be unmerited, or that God ordains trials merely to
indemnify the sufferer in this or the future world. Man's susceptibility
to divine influence is measured by his intellectual endowment. Through
his "intellect," he is directly connected with the "Active Intellect,"
and thus secures the grace of God, who embraces the infinite. Such views
naturally lead to a conception of life in consonance with the purest
ideals of morality, and they are the goal to which the "Guide" leads the
perplexed. He teaches that the acquiring of high intellectual power, and
the "possession of such notions as lead to true metaphysical opinions"
about God, are "man's final object," and they constitute true human
perfection. This it is that "gives him immortality," and confers upon
him the dignity of manhood.

The highest degree of perfection, according to Maimonides, is reached by
him who devotes all his thoughts and actions to perfecting himself in
divine matters, and this highest degree he calls prophecy. He is
probably the first philosopher to offer so rationalistic an explanation,
and, on that account, it merits our attention. What had previously been
regarded as supernatural inspiration, the "Guide" reduces to a
psychological theory. "Prophecy," he says, "is, in truth and reality, an
emanation sent forth by the Divine Being through the medium of the
Active Intellect, in the first instance to man's rational faculty, and
then to his imaginative faculty; it is the highest degree ... of
perfection man can attain; it consists in the most perfect development
of the imaginative faculty." Maimonides distinguishes eleven degrees of
inspiration, and three essential conditions of prophecy: 1. Perfection
of the natural constitution of the imaginative faculty, 2. mental
perfection, which may partially be acquired by training, and 3. moral
perfection. Moses arrived at the highest degree of prophecy, because he
understood the knowledge communicated to him without the medium of the
imaginative faculty. This spiritual height having been scaled, the
"Guide" needs but to take a step to reach revelation, in his estimation
also an intellectual process: man's intellect rises to the Supreme

In the third part of his work, Maimonides endeavors to reconcile the
conclusions of philosophy with biblical laws and Talmudical traditions.
His method is both original and valuable; indeed, this deserves to be
considered the most important part of his work. Detailed exposition of
his reasoning may prove irksome; we shall, therefore, consider it as
briefly as possible.

Maimonides laid down one rule of interpretation which, almost without
exception, proves applicable: The words of Holy Writ express different
sets of ideas, bearing a certain relation to each other, the one set
having reference to physical, the other to spiritual, qualities. By
applying this rule, he thinks that nearly all discrepancies between the
literal interpretation of the Bible and his own philosophic theories
disappear. Having passed over the domain of metaphysical speculation, he
finally reaches the consideration of the practical side of the Bible,
that is to say, the Mosaic legislation. These last investigations of his
are attractive, not only by reason of the satisfactory method pursued,
but chiefly from the fact that Maimonides, divesting himself of the
conservatism of his contemporaries, ventures to inquire into the reasons
of biblical laws. For many of them, he assigns local and historical
reasons; many, he thinks, owe their origin to the desire to oppose the
superstitious practices of early times and of the Sabeans, a mythical,
primitive race; but all, he contends, are binding, and with this solemn
asseveration, he puts the seal upon his completed work.

When Maimonides characterized the "Guide of the Perplexed" as "the true
science of the Bible," he formed a just estimate of his own work. It has
come to be the substructure of a rational theology based upon
speculation. Maimonides cannot be said to have been very much ahead of
his own age; but it is altogether certain that he attained the acme of
the possibilities of the middle ages. In many respects there is a
striking likeness between his life and work and those of the Arabic
freethinker Averroës, whom we now know so well through Ernest Renan.
While the Jewish theologian was composing his great work, the Arabic
philosopher was writing his "Commentaries on Aristotle." The two had
similar ends in view--the one to enthrone "the Stagirite" as the
autocrat of philosophy in the Mosque, the other, in the Synagogue. We
have noted the fact that, some centuries later, the Church also entered
the federation subject to Aristotelian rule. Albertus Magnus uses
Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas joins him, and upon them depend the other
schoolmen. Recent inquirers follow in their train. Philosophy's noblest
votary, Benedict Spinoza himself, is influenced by Maimonides. He quotes
frequently and at great length the finest passages of the "Guide."
Again, Moses Mendelssohn built his system on the foundations offered by
Maimonides, and an acute critic assures us that, in certain passages,
Kant's religious philosophy breathes the spirit of Maimonides.[40]

The "Guide of the Perplexed" did not, however, meet with so gracious a
reception in the Synagogue. There, Maimonides' philosophic system
conjured up violent storms. The whole of an epoch, that following
Maimonides' death, was absorbed in the conflict between philosophy and
tradition. Controversial pamphlets without number have come down to us
from those days. Enthusiasts eulogized, zealots decried. Maimonides'
ambiguous expressions about bodily resurrection, seeming to indicate
that he did not subscribe to the article of the creed on that subject,
caused particularly acrimonious polemics. Meïr ben Todros ha-Levi, a
Talmudist and poet of Toledo, denounced the equivocation in the
following lines:

    "If those that rise from death again must die,
    For lot like theirs I ne'er should long and sigh.
    If graves their bones shall once again confine,
    I hope to stay where first they bury mine."

Naturally, Maimonides' followers were quick to retort:

    "His name, forsooth, is Meïr 'Shining.'
      How false! since _light_ he holds in small esteem.
    Our language always contrast loveth,--
      Twi_light_'s the name of ev'ning's doubtful gleam."

Another of Maimonides' opponents was the physician Judah Alfachar, who
bore the hereditary title _Prince_. The following pasquinade is
attributed to him:

    "Forgive, O Amram's son, nor deem it crime,
      That he, deception's master, bears thy name.
    _Nabi_ we call the prophet of truths sublime,
      Like him of Ba'al, who doth the truth defame."

Maimonides, in his supposed reply to the Prince, played upon the word
_Chamor_, the Hebrew word for _ass_, the name of a Hivite prince
mentioned in the Bible:

    "High rank, I wot, we proudly claim
      When sprung from noble ancestor;
    Henceforth my mule a _prince_ I'll name
      Since once a prince was called _Chamor_."

It seems altogether certain that this polemic rhyming is the fabrication
of a later day, for we know that the controversies about Maimonides'
opinions in Spain and Provence broke out only after his death, when his
chief work had spread far and wide in its Hebrew translation. The
following stanza passed from mouth to mouth in northern France:

    "Be silent, 'Guide,' from further speech refrain!
      Thus truth to us was never brought.
    Accursed who says that Holy Writ's a trope,
      And idle dreams what prophets taught."

Whereupon the Provençals returned:

    "Thou fool, I pray thou wilt forbear,
      Nor enter on this consecrated ground.
    Or trope, or truth--or vision fair,
      Or only dream--for thee 'tis too profound."

The homage paid to Maimonides' memory in many instances produced most
extravagant poetry. The following high-flown lines, outraging the canons
of good taste recognized in Hebrew poetry, are supposed to be his

    "Here lies a man, yet not a man,
    And if a man, conceived by angels,
      By human mother only born to light;
    Perhaps himself a spirit pure--
    Not child by man and woman fostered--
      From God above an emanation bright."

Such hyperbole naturally challenged opposition, and Maimonides'
opponents did not hesitate to give voice to their deep indignation, as
in the following:

    "Alas! that man should dare
    To say, with reckless air,
      That Holy Scripture's but a dream of night;
    That all we read therein
    Has truly never been,
      Is naught but sign of meaning recondite.
    And when God's wondrous deeds
    The haughty scorner reads,
      Contemptuous he cries, 'I trust my sight.'"

A cessation of hostilities came only in the fourteenth century. The
"Guide" was then given its due meed of appreciation by the Jews. Later,
Maimonides' memory was held in unbounded reverence, and to-day his
"Guide of the Perplexed" is a manual of religious philosophy treasured
by Judaism.

If we wish once more before parting from this earnest, noble thinker to
review his work and attitude, we can best do it by applying to them the
standard furnished by his own reply to all adverse critics of his
writings: "In brief, such is my disposition. When a thought fills my
mind, though I be able to express it so that only a single man among ten
thousand, a thinker, is satisfied and elevated by it, while the common
crowd condemns it as absurd, I boldly and frankly speak the word that
enlightens the wise, never fearing the censure of the ignorant herd."

This was Maimonides--he of pure thought, of noble purpose; imbued with
enthusiasm for his faith, with love for science; ruled by the loftiest
moral principles; full of disinterested love and the milk of human
kindness in his intercourse with those of other faiths and other views;
an eagle-eyed thinker, in whom were focused and harmoniously blended the
last rays of the declining sun of Arabic-Jewish-Spanish culture.


A great tournament at the court of Pedro I.! Deafening fanfares invite
courtiers and cavaliers to participate in the festivities. In the
brilliant sunshine gleam the lances of the knights, glitter the spears
of the hidalgos. Gallant paladins escort black-eyed beauties to the
elevated balcony, on which, upon a high-raised throne, under a gilded
canopy, surrounded by courtiers, sit Blanche de Bourbon and her
illustrious lord Dom Pedro, with Doña Maria de Padilla, the lady of his
choice, at his left. Three times the trumpets have sounded, announcing
the approach of the troubadours gathered from all parts of Castile to
compete with one another in song. Behold! a venerable old man, with
silvery white beard flowing down upon his breast, seeks to extricate
himself from the crowd. With admiring gaze the people respectfully make
way, and enthusiastically greet him: "Rabbi Don Santo! Rabbi Don Santo!"

The troubadour makes a low obeisance before the throne. Dom Pedro nods
encouragement, Maria de Padilla smiles graciously, only Doña Blanca's
pallid face remains immobile. The hoary bard begins his song:[41]

    "My noble king and mighty lord,
      A discourse hear most true;
    'Tis Santob brings your Grace the word,
      Of Carrion's town the Jew.

    In plainest verse my thought I tell,
      With gloss and moral free,
    Drawn from Philosophy's pure well,
      As onward you may see."[42]

A murmur of approval runs through the crowd; grandees and hidalgos press
closer to listen. In well-turned verse, fraught with worldly-wise
lessons, and indifferent whether his hortations meet with praise or with
censure, the poet continues to pour out words of counsel and moral
teachings, alike for king, nobles, and people.

Who is this Rabbi Don Santob? We know very little about him, yet, with
the help of "bright-eyed fancy," enough to paint his picture. The real
name of this Jew from Carrion de los Condes, a city of northern Spain,
who lived under Alfonso XI and Peter the Cruel, was, of course, not
Santob, but Shem-Tob. Under Alfonso the intellectual life of Spain
developed to a considerable degree, and in Spain, as almost everywhere,
we find Jews in sympathy with the first intellectual strivings of the
nation. They have a share in the development of all Romance languages
and literatures. Ibn Alfange, a Moorish Jew, after his conversion a high
official, wrote the first "Chronicle of the Cid," the oldest source of
the oft-repeated biography, thus furnishing material to subsequent
Spanish poets and historians. Valentin Barruchius (Baruch), of Toledo,
composed, probably in the twelfth century, in pure, choice Latin, the
romance _Comte Lyonnais, Palanus_, which spread all over Europe,
affording modern poets subject-matter for great tragedies, and forming
the groundwork for one of the classics of Spanish literature. A little
later, Petrus Alphonsus (Moses Sephardi) wrote his _Disciplina
Clericalis_, the first collection of tales in the Oriental manner, the
model of all future collections of the kind.

Three of the most important works of Spanish literature, then, are
products of Jewish authorship. This fact prepares the student to find a
Jew among the Castilian troubadours of the fourteenth century, the
period of greatest literary activity. The Jewish spirit was by no means
antagonistic to the poetry of the Provençal troubadours. In his didactic
poem, _Chotham Tochnith_ ("The Seal of Perfection," together with "The
Flaming Sword"), Abraham Bedersi, that is, of Béziers (1305), challenges
his co-religionists to a poetic combat. He details the rules of the
tournament, and it is evident that he is well acquainted with all the
minutiæ of the _jeu parti_ and the _tenso_ (song of dispute) of the
Provençal singers, and would willingly imitate their _sirventes_ (moral
and political song). His plaint over the decadence of poetry among the
Jews is characteristic: "Where now are the marvels of Hebrew poetry?
Mayhap thou'lt find them in the Provençal or Romance. Aye, in Folquet's
verses is manna, and from the lips of Cardinal is wafted the perfume of
crocus and nard"--Folquet de Lunel and Peire Cardinal being the last
great representatives of Provençal troubadour poetry. Later on,
neo-Hebraic poets again show acquaintance with the regulations governing
song-combats and courts of love. Pious Bible exegetes, like Samuel ben
Meïr, do not disdain to speak of the _partimens_ of the troubadours, "in
which lovers talk to each other, and by turns take up the discourse."
One of his school, a _Tossafist_, goes so far as to press into service
the day's fashion in explaining the meaning of a verse in the "Song of
Songs": "To this day lovers treasure their mistress' locks as
love-tokens." It seems, too, that Provençal romances were heard, and
their great poets welcomed, in the houses of Jews, who did not scruple
occasionally to use their melodies in the synagogue service.

National customs, then, took root in Israel; but that Jewish elements
should have become incorporated into Spanish literature is more
remarkable, may, indeed, be called marvellous. Yet, from one point of
view, it is not astonishing. The whole of mediæval Spanish literature is
nothing more than the handmaiden of Christianity. Spanish poetry is
completely dominated by Catholicism; it is in reality only an expression
of reverence for Christian institutions. An extreme naturally induces a
counter-current; so here, by the side of rigid orthodoxy, we meet with
latitudinarianism and secular delight in the good things of life. For
instance, that jolly rogue, the archpriest of Hita, by way of relaxation
from the tenseness of church discipline, takes to composing _dansas_ and
_baladas_ for the rich Jewish bankers of his town. He and his
contemporaries have much to say about Jewish generosity--unfortunately,
much, too, about Jewish wealth and pomp. Jewish women, a Jewish
chronicler relates, are tricked out with finery, as "sumptuously as the
pope's mules." It goes without saying that, along with these accounts,
we have frequent wailing about defection from the faith and neglect of
the Law. Old Akiba is right: "History repeats itself!" ("_Es ist alles
schon einmal da gewesen!_").

Such were the times of Santob de Carrion. Our first information about
him comes from the Marquis de Santillana, one of the early patrons and
leaders of Spanish literature. He says, "In my grandfather's time there
was a Jew, Rabbi Santob, who wrote many excellent things, among them
_Proverbios Morales_ (Moral Proverbs), truly commendable in spirit. A
great troubadour, he ranks among the most celebrated poets of Spain."
Despite this high praise, the marquis feels constrained to apologize for
having quoted a passage from Santob's work. His praise is endorsed by
the critics. It is commonly conceded that his _Consejos y Documentos al
Rey Dom Pedro_ ("Counsel and Instruction to King Dom Pedro"), consisting
of six hundred and twenty-eight romances, deserves a place among the
best creations of Castilian poetry, which, in form and substance, owes
not a little to Rabbi Santob. A valuable manuscript at the Escurial in
Madrid contains his _Consejos_ and two other works, _La Doctrina
Christiana_ and _Dansa General_. A careless copyist called the whole
collection "Rabbi Santob's Book," so giving rise to the mistake of
Spanish critics, who believe that Rabbi Santob, indisputably the author
of _Consejos_, became a convert to Christianity, and wrote, after his
conversion, the didactic poem on doctrinal Christianity, and perhaps
also the first "Dance of Death."[43] It was reserved for the acuteness
of German criticism to expose the error of this hypothesis. Of the three
works, only _Consejos_ belongs to Rabbi Santob, the others were
accidentally bound with it. In passing, the interesting circumstance may
be noted that in the first "Dance of Death" a bearded rabbi (_Rabbi
barbudo_) dances toward the universal goal between a priest and an
usurer. Santob de Carrion remained a Jew. His _consejos_, written when
he was advanced in age, are pervaded by loyalty to his king, but no less
to his faith, which he openly professed at the royal court, and whose
spiritual treasures he adroitly turned to poetic uses.

Santob, it is interesting to observe, was not a writer of erotic poetry.
He composed poems on moral subjects only, social satires and
denunciations of vice. Such are the _consejos_. It is in his capacity as
a preacher of morality that Santob is to be classed among troubadours.
First he addressed himself, with becoming deference, to the king,
leading him to consider God's omnipotence:

    "As great, 'twixt heav'n and earth the space--
      That ether pure and blue--
    So great is God's forgiving grace
      Your sins to lift from you.

    And with His vast and wondrous might
      He does His deeds of power;
    But yours are puny in His sight,
      For strength is not man's dower."

At that time it required more than ordinary courage to address a king in
this fashion; but Santob was old and poor, and having nothing to lose,
could risk losing everything. A democratic strain runs through his
verses; he delights in aiming his satires at the rich, the high-born,
and the powerful, and takes pride in his poverty and his fame as a poet:

    "I will not have you think me less
      Than others of my faith,
    Who live on a generous king's largess,
      Forsworn at every breath.

    And if you deem my teachings true,
      Reject them not with hate,
    Because a minstrel sings to you
      Who's not of knight's estate.

    The fragrant, waving reed grows tall
      From feeble root and thin,
    And uncouth worms that lowly crawl
      Most lustrous silk do spin.

    Because beside a thorn it grows
      The rose is not less fair;
    Though wine from gnarlèd branches flows,
      'Tis sweet beyond compare.

    The goshawk, know, can soar on high,
      Yet low he nests his brood.
    A Jew true precepts doth apply,
      Are they therefore less good?

    Some Jews there are with slavish mind
      Who fear, are mute, and meek.
    My soul to truth is so inclined
      That all I feel I speak.

    There often comes a meaning home
      Through simple verse and plain,
    While in the heavy, bulky tome
      We find of truth no grain.

    Full oft a man with furrowed front,
      Whom grief hath rendered grave,
    Whose views of life are honest, blunt,
      Both fool is called and knave."

It is surely not unwarranted to assume that from these confessions the
data of Santob's biography may be gathered.

Now as to Santob's relation to Judaism. Doubtless he was a faithful Jew,
for the views of life and the world laid down in his poems rest on the
Bible, the Talmud, and the Midrash. With the fearlessness of conviction
he meets the king and the people, denouncing the follies of both. Some
of his romances sound precisely like stories from the Haggada, so
skilfully does he clothe his counsel in the gnomic style of the Bible
and the Talmud. This characteristic is particularly well shown in his
verses on friendship, into which he has woven the phraseology of the

    "What treasure greater than a friend
      Who close to us hath grown?
    Blind fate no bitt'rer lot can send
      Than bid us walk alone.

    For solitude doth cause a dearth
      Of fruitful, blessed thought.
    The wise would pray to leave this earth,
      If none their friendship sought.

    Yet sad though loneliness may be,
      That friendship surely shun
    That feigns to love, and inwardly
      Betrays affections won."

The poem closes with a prayer for the king, who certainly could not have
taken offense at Santob's frankness:

    "May God preserve our lord and king
      With grace omnipotent,
    Remove from us each evil thing,
      And blessed peace augment.

    The nations loyally allied
      Our empire to exalt,
    May God, in whom we all confide,
      From plague keep and assault.

    If God will answer my request,
      Then will be paid his due--
    Your noble father's last behest--
      To Santob, Carrion's Jew."

Our troubadour's poetry shows that he was devotedly attached to his
prince, enthusiastically loved his country, and was unfalteringly loyal
to his faith; that he told the king honest, wholesome truths disguised
in verse; that he took no pains to conceal his scorn of those who, with
base servility, bowed to the ruling faith, and permitted its yoke to be
put upon their necks; that he felt himself the peer of the high in rank,
and the wealthy in the goods of this world; that he censured, with
incisive criticism, the vices of his Spanish and his Jewish
contemporaries--all of which is calculated to inspire us with admiration
for the Jewish troubadour, whose manliness enabled him to meet his
detractors boldly, as in the verses quoted above:

    "Because beside a thorn it grows,
      The rose is not less fair;
    Though wine from gnarlèd branches flows,
      'Tis sweet beyond compare.

    A Jew true precepts doth apply,
      Are they therefore less good?"

History does not tell us whether Pedro rewarded the Jewish troubadour as
the latter, if we may judge by the end of his poem, had expected. Our
accounts of his life are meagre; even his fellow-believers do not make
mention of him. We do know, however, that the poor poet's prayers for
his sovereign, his petitions for the weal and the glory of his country
were not granted. Pedro lost his life by violence, quarrels about the
succession and civil wars convulsed the land, and weakened the royal
power. Its decline marked the end of the peace and happiness of the Jew
on Castilian soil.

As times grew worse, and persecutions of the Jews in Christian Spain
became frequent, many forsook the faith of their fathers, to bask in the
sunshine of the Church, who treated proselytes with distinguished favor.
The example of the first Jewish troubadour did not find imitators. Among
the converts were many poets, notably Juan Alfonso de Bæna, who, in the
fifteenth century, collected the oldest troubadour poetry, including his
own poems and satires, and the writings of the Jewish physician Don
Moses Zarzal, into a _cancionera general_. Like many apostates, he
sought to prove his devotion to the new faith by mocking at and reviling
his former brethren. The attacked were not slow to answer in kind, and
the Christian world of poets and bards joined the latter in deriding the
neophytes. Spanish literature was not the loser by these combats, whose
description belongs to general literary criticism. Lyric poetry, until
then dry, serious, and solemn, was infused by the satirist with flashing
wit and whimsical spirit, and throwing off its connection with the
drama, developed into an independent species of poetry.

The last like the first of Spanish troubadours was a Jew,[44] Antonio di
Montoro (Moro), _el ropero_ (the tailor), of Cordova, of whom a
contemporary says,

    "A man of repute and lofty fame;
    As poet, he puts many to shame;
    Anton di Montoro is his name."

The tailor-poet was exposed to attacks, too. A high and mighty Spanish
_caballero_ addresses him as

    "You Cohn, you cur,
    You miserable Jew,
    You wicked usurer."

It must be admitted that he parries these thrusts with weak, apologetic
appeals, preserved in his _Respuestas_ (Rhymed Answers). He claims his
high-born foe's sympathy by telling him that he has sons, grandchildren,
a poor, old father, and a marriageable daughter. In extenuation of his
cowardice it should be remembered that Antonio di Montoro lived during a
reign of terror, under Ferdinand and Isabella, when his race and his
faith were exposed to most frightful persecution. All the more
noteworthy is it that he had the courage to address the queen in behalf
of his faith. He laments plaintively that despite his sixty years he has
not been able to eradicate all traces of his descent (_reato de su
origen_), and turns his irony against himself:

    "Ropero, so sad and so forlorn,
    Now thou feelest pain and scorn.
    Until sixty years had flown,
    Thou couldst say to every one,
    'Nothing wicked have I known.'

    Christian convert hast thou turned,
    _Credo_ thou to say hast learned;
    Willing art now bold to view
    Plates of ham--no more askew.
    Mass thou hearest,
    Church reverest,
    Genuflexions makest,
    Other alien customs takest.
    Now thou, too, mayst persecute
    Those poor wretches, like a brute."

"Those poor wretches" were his brethren in faith in the fair Spanish
land. With a jarring discord ends the history of the Jews in Spain. On
the ninth of Ab, 1492, three hundred thousand Jews left the land to
which they had given its first and its last troubadour. The irony of
fate directed that at the selfsame time Christopher Columbus should
embark for unknown lands, and eventually reach America, a new world, the
refuge of all who suffer, wherein thought was destined to grow strong
enough "to vanquish arrogance and injustice without recourse to
arrogance and injustice"--a new illustration of the old verse: "Behold,
he slumbereth not, and he sleepeth not--the keeper of Israel."

* * *

A great tournament at the court of the lords of Trimberg, the Franconian
town on the Saale! From high battlements stream the pennons of the noble
race, announcing rare festivities to all the country round. The
mountain-side is astir with knights equipped with helmet, shield, and
lance, and attended by pages and armor-bearers, minnesingers and
minstrels. Yonder is Walther von der Vogelweide, engaged in earnest
conversation with Wolfram von Eschenbach, Otto von Botenlaube, Hildebold
von Schwanegau, and Reinmar von Brennenberg. In that group of notables,
curiously enough, we discern a Jew, whose beautiful features reflect
harmonious soul life.

"Süsskind von Trimberg," they call him, and when the pleasure of the
feast in the lordly hall of the castle is to be heightened by song and
music, he too steps forth, with fearlessness and dignity, to sing of
freedom of thought, to the prevalence of which in this company the
despised Jew owed his admission to a circle of knights and poets:[45]

    "O thought! free gift to humankind!
      By thee both fools and wise are led,
    But who thy paths hath all defined,
      A man he is in heart and head.
      With thee, his weakness being fled,
    He can both stone and steel command,
    Thy pinions bear him o'er the land.

    O thought that swifter art than light,
      That mightier art than tempest's roar!
    Didst thou not raise me in thy flight,
      What were my song, my minstrel lore,
      And what the gold from _Minne's_ store?
    Beyond the heights an eagle vaunts,
    O bear me to the spirit's haunts!"

His song meets with the approval of the knights, who give generous
encouragement to the minstrel. Raising his eyes to the proud, beautiful
mistress of the castle, he again strikes his lyre and sings:

    "Pure woman is to man a crown,
    For her he strives to win renown.
    Did she not grace and animate,
    How mean and low the castle great!
    By true companionship, the wife
    Makes blithe and free a man's whole life;
    Her light turns bright the darkest day.
    Her praise and worth I'll sing alway."

The lady inclines her fair head in token of thanks, and the lord of
castle Trimberg fills the golden goblet, and hands it, the mark of
honor, to the poet, who drains it, and then modestly steps back into the
circle of his compeers. Now we have leisure to examine the rare man.--

Rüdiger Manesse, a town councillor of Zürich in the fourteenth century,
raised a beautiful monument to bardic art in a manuscript work, executed
at his order, containing the songs of one hundred and forty poets,
living between the twelfth and the fourteenth century. Among the authors
are kings, princes, noblemen of high rank and low, burgher-poets, and
the Jew Süsskind von Trimberg. Each poet's productions are accompanied
by illustrations, not authentic portraits, but a series of vivid
representations of scenes of knight-errantry. There are scenes of war
and peace, of combats, the chase, and tourneys with games, songs, and
dance. We see the storming of a castle of Love (_Minneburg_)--lovers
fleeing, lovers separated, love triumphant. Heinrich von Veldeke
reclines upon a bank of roses; Friedrich von Hausen is on board a boat;
Walther von der Vogelweide sits musing on a wayside stone; Wolfram von
Eschenbach stands armed, with visor closed, next to his caparisoned
horse, as though about to mount. Among the portraits of the knights and
bards is Süsskind von Trimberg's. How does Rüdiger Manesse represent
him? As a long-bearded Jew, on his head a yellow, funnel-shaped hat, the
badge of distinction decreed by Pope Innocent III. to be worn by Jews.
That is all! and save what we may infer from his six poems preserved by
the history of literature, pretty much all, too, known of Süsskind von

Was it the heedlessness of the compiler that associated the Jew with
this merry company, in which he was as much out of place as a Gothic
spire on a synagogue? Süsskind came by the privilege fairly. Throughout
the middle ages the Jews of Germany were permeated with the culture of
their native land, and were keenly concerned in the development of its
poetry. A still more important circumstance is the spirit of tolerance
and humanity that pervades Middle High German poetry. Wolfram von
Eschenbach based his _Parzival_, the herald of "Nathan the Wise," on the
idea of the brotherhood of man; Walther von der Vogelweide ranged
Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans together as children of the one God;
and Freidank, reflecting that God lets His sun shine on the confessors
of all creeds, went so far as to repudiate the doctrine of the eternal
damnation of Jews. This trend of thought, characterizing both Jews and
Christians, suffices to explain how, in Germany, and at the very time in
which the teachers of the Church were reviling "the mad Jews, who ought
to be hewn down like dogs," it was possible for a Jew to be a
minnesinger, a minstrel among minstrels, and abundantly accounts for
Süsskind von Trimberg's association with knights and ladies. Süsskind,
then, doubtless journeyed with his brother-poets from castle to castle;
yet our imagination would be leading us astray, were we to accept
literally the words of the enthusiastic historian Graetz, and with him
believe that "on vine-clad hills, seated in the circle of noble knights
and fair dames, a beaker of wine at his side, his lyre in his hand, he
sang his polished verses of love's joys and trials, love's hopes and
fears, and then awaited the largesses that bought his daily bread."[46]

Süsskind's poems are not at all like the joyous, rollicking songs his
mates carolled forth; they are sad and serious, tender and chaste. Of
love there is not a word. A minnesinger and a Jew--irreconcilable
opposites! A minnesinger must be a knight wooing his lady-love, whose
colors he wears at the tournaments, and for whose sake he undertakes a
pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Jew's minstrelsy is a lament for Zion.

In fact what is _Minne_--this service of love? Is it not at bottom the
cult of the Virgin Mary? Is it not, in a subtle, mysterious way, a phase
of Christianity itself? How could it have appealed to the Jew Süsskind?
True, the Jews, too, have an ideal of love in the "Song of Songs": "Lo,
thou art beautiful, my beloved!" it says, but our old sages took the
beloved to be the Synagogue. Of this love Princess Sabbath is the ideal,
and the passion of the "Song of Songs" is separated from German _Minne_
by the great gap between the soul life of the Semite and that of the
Christian German. Unbridled sensuousness surges through the songs rising
to the chambers of noble ladies. Kabbalistic passion glows in the
mysterious love of the Jew. The German minstrel sings of love's
sweetness and pain, of summer and its delights, of winter and its woes,
now of joy and happiness, again of ill-starred fortunes. And what is the
burden of the exiled Hebrew's song? Mysterious allusions, hidden in a
tangle of highly polished, artificial, slow-moving rhymes, glorify, not
a sweet womanly presence, but a fleeting vision, a shadow, whose elusive
charms infatuated the poet in his dreams. Bright, joyous, blithe,
unmeasured is the one; serious, gloomy, chaste, gentle, the other.

Yet, Süsskind von Trimberg was at once a Jew and a minnesinger. Who can
fathom a poet's soul? Who can follow his thoughts as they fly hither and
thither, like the thread in a weaver's shuttle, fashioning themselves
into a golden web? The minnesingers enlisted in love's cause, yet none
the less in war and the defense of truth, and for the last Süsskind von
Trimberg did valiant service. The poems of his earliest period, the
blithesome days of youth, have not survived. Those that we have bear the
stamp of sorrow and trouble, the gifts of advanced years. With
self-contemptuous bitterness, he bewails his sad lot:

    "I seek and nothing find,--
    That makes me sigh and sigh.
    Lord Lackfood presses me,
    Of hunger sure I'll die;
    My wife, my child go supperless,
    My butler is Sir Meagreness."

Süsskind von Trimberg's poems also breathe the spirit of Hebrew
literature, and have drawn material from the legend world of the
Haggada. For the praise of his faithful wife he borrows the words of
Solomon, and the psalm-like rhythm of his best songs recalls the
familiar strains of our evening-prayer:

    "Almighty God! That shinest with the sun,
    That slumb'rest not when day grows into night!
    Thou Source of all, of tranquil peace and joy!
    Thou King of glory and majestic light!
    Thou allgood Father! Golden rays of day
    And starry hosts thy praise to sing unite,
    Creator of heav'n and earth, Eternal One,
    That watchest ev'ry creature from Thy height!"

Like Santob, Süsskind was poor; like him, he denounced the rich, was
proud and generous. With intrepid candor, he taught knights the meaning
of true nobility--of the nobility of soul transcending nobility of
birth--and of freedom of thought--freedom fettered by neither stone, nor
steel, nor iron; and in the midst of their rioting and feasting, he
ventured to put before them the solemn thought of death. His last
production as a minnesinger was a prescription for a "virtue-electuary."
Then he went to dwell among his brethren, whom, indeed, he had not
deserted in the pride of his youth:

    "Why should I wander sadly,
      My harp within my hand,
    O'er mountain, hill, and valley?
      What praise do I command?

    Full well they know the singer
      Belongs to race accursed;
    Sweet _Minne_ doth no longer
      Reward me as at first.

    Be silent, then, my lyre,
      We sing 'fore lords in vain.
    I'll leave the minstrels' choir,
      And roam a Jew again.

    My staff and hat I'll grasp, then,
      And on my breast full low,
    By Jewish custom olden
      My grizzled beard shall grow.

    My days I'll pass in quiet,--
      Those left to me on earth--
    Nor sing for those who not yet
      Have learned a poet's worth."

Thus spake the Jewish poet, and dropped his lyre into the stream--in
song and in life, a worthy son of his time, the disciple of Walther von
der Vogelweide, the friend of Wolfram von Eschenbach--disciple and
friend of the first to give utterance, in German song, to the idea of
the brotherhood of man. Centuries ago, he found the longed-for quiet in
Franconia, but no wreath lies on his grave, no stone marks the
wanderer's resting-place. His poems have found an abiding home in the
memory of posterity, and in the circle of the German minnesingers the
Jew Süsskind forms a distinct link.

In a time when the idea of universal human brotherhood seems to be
fading from the hearts of men, when they manifest a proneness to forget
the share which, despite hatred and persecution, the Jew of every
generation has had in German literature, in its romances of chivalry and
its national epics, and in all the spiritual achievements of German
genius, we may with just pride revive Süsskind's memory.--

On the wings of fancy let us return to our castle on the Saale. After
the lapse of many years, the procession of poets again wends its way in
the sunshine up the slope to the proud mansion of the Trimbergs. The
venerable Walther von der Vogelweide again opens the festival of song.
Wolfram von Eschenbach, followed by a band of young disciples, musingly
ascends the mountain-side. The ranks grow less serried, and in solitude
and sadness, advances a man of noble form, his silvery beard flowing
down upon his breast, a long cloak over his shoulder, and the peaked
hat, the badge of the mediæval Jew, on his head. In his eye gleams a ray
of the poet's grace, and his meditative glance looks into a distant
future. Süsskind von Trimberg, to thee our greeting!


One of the most remarkable discoveries of the last ten years is that
made in Paris by M. Ernest Renan. He maintains as the result of
scientific research that the Semitic races, consequently also the Jews,
are lacking in humor, in the capacity for laughter. The justice of the
reproach might be denied outright, but a statement enunciated with so
much scientific assurance involuntarily prompts questioning and

In such cases the Jews invariably resort to their first text-book, the
Bible, whose pages seem to sustain M. Renan. In the Bible laughing is
mentioned only twice, when the angel promises a son to Sarah, and again
in the history of Samson, judge in Israel, who used foxes' tails as
weapons against the Philistines. These are the only passages in which
the Bible departs from its serious tone.

But classical antiquity was equally ignorant of humor as a distinct
branch of art, as a peculiar attitude of the mind towards the problems
of life. Aristophanes lived and could have written only in the days when
Athenian institutions began to decay. It is personal discomfort and the
trials and harassments of life that drive men to the ever serene, pure
regions of humor for balm and healing. Fun and comedy men have at all
times understood--the history of Samson contains the germs of a
mock-heroic poem--while it was impossible for humor, genuine humor, to
find appreciation in the youth of mankind.

In those days of healthy reliance upon the senses, poetic spirits could
obtain satisfaction only in love and in the praise of the good world and
its Maker. The sombre line of division had not yet been introduced
between the physical and the spiritual world, debasing this earth to a
vale of tears, and consoling sinful man by the promise of a better land,
whose manifold delights were described, but about which there was no
precise knowledge, no traveller, as the Talmud aptly puts it, having
ever returned to give us information about it. Those were the days of
perfect harmony, when man crept close to nature to be taught untroubled
joy in living. In such days, despite the storms assailing the young
Israelitish nation, a poet, his heart filled with the sunshine of joy,
his mind receptive, his eyes open wide to see the flowers unfold, the
buds of the fig tree swell, the vine put forth leaves, and the
pomegranate blossom unfurl its glowing petals, could carol forth the
"Song of Songs," the most perfect, the most beautiful, the purest
creation of Hebrew literature and the erotic poetry of all
literatures--the song of songs of stormy passion, bidding defiance to
ecclesiastical fetters, at once an epic and a drama, full of childlike
tenderness and grace of feeling. Neither Greece, nor the rest of the
Orient has produced anything to compare with its marvellous union of
voluptuous sensuousness and immaculate chastity. Morality, indeed, is
its very pulse-beat. It could be sung only in an age when love reigned
supreme, and could presume to treat humor as a pretender. So lofty a
song was bound to awaken echoes and stimulate imitation, and its music
has flowed down through the centuries, weaving a thread of melody about
the heart of many a poet.

The centuries of Israelitish history close upon its composition,
however, were favorable to neither the poetry of love nor that of humor.
But the poetry of love must have continued to exercise puissant magic
over hearts and minds, if its supreme poem not only was made part of the
holy canon, but was considered by a teacher of the Talmud the most
sacred treasure of the compilation.

The blood of the Maccabean heroes victorious over Antiochus Epiphanes
again fructified the old soil of Hebrew poetry, and charmed forth
fragrant blossoms, the psalms designated as Maccabean by modern
criticism. Written in troublous times, they contain a reference to the
humor of the future: "When the Lord bringeth back again the captivity of
Zion, then shall we be like dreamers, then shall our mouth be filled
with laughter, and our tongue with singing."

Many sad days were destined to pass over Israel before that future with
its solacement of humor dawned. No poetic work could obtain recognition
next to the Bible. The language of the prophets ceased to be the
language of the people, and every mind was occupied with interpreting
their words and applying them to the religious needs of the hour. The
opposition between Jewish and Hellenic-Syrian views became more and more
marked. Hellas and Judæa, the two great theories of life supporting the
fabric of civilization, for the first time confronted each other. An
ancient expounder of the Bible says that to Hellas God gave beauty in
the beginning, to Judæa truth, as a sacred heritage. But beauty and
truth have ever been inveterate foes; even now they are not reconciled.

In Judæa and Greece, ancient civilization found equally perfect, yet
totally different, expression. The Greek worships nature as she is; the
Jew dwells upon the origin and development of created things, hence
worships their Creator. The former in his speculations proceeds from the
multiplicity of phenomena; the latter discerns the unity of the plan. To
the former the universe was changeless actuality; to the latter it meant
unending development. The world, complete and perfect, was mirrored in
the Greek mind; its evolution, in the Jewish. Therefore the Jewish
conception of life is harmonious, while among the Greeks grew up the
spirit of doubt and speculation, the product of civilization, and the
soil upon which humor disports.

Israel's religion so completely satisfied every spiritual craving that
no room was left for the growth of the poetic instinct. Intellectual
life began to divide into two great streams. The Halacha continued the
instruction of the prophets, as the Haggada fostered the spirit of the
psalmists. The province of the former was to formulate the Law, of the
latter to plant a garden about the bulwark of the Law. While the one
addressed itself to reason, the other made an appeal to the heart and
the feelings. In the Haggada, a thesaurus of the national poetry by the
nameless poets of many centuries, we find epic poems and lyric
outbursts, fables, enigmas, and dramatic essays, and here and there in
this garden we chance across a little bud of humorous composition.

Of what sort was this humor? In point of fact, what is humor? We must be
able to answer the latter question before we may venture to classify the
folklore of the Haggada.

To reach the ideal, to bring harmony out of discord, is the recognized
task of all art. This is the primary principle to be borne in mind in
æsthetic criticism. Tragedy idealizes the world by annihilation,
harmonizes all contradictions by dashing them in pieces against each
other, and points the way of escape from chaos, across the bridge of
death, to the realm beyond, irradiated by the perpetual morning-dawn of
freedom and intellect.

Comedy, on the other hand, believes that the incongruities and
imperfections of life can be justified, and have their uses. Firmly
convinced of the might of truth, it holds that the folly and aberrations
of men, their shortcomings and failings, cannot impede its eventual
victory. Even in them it sees traces of an eternal, divine principle.
While tragedy precipitates the conflict of hostile forces, comedy,
rising serene above folly and all indications of transitoriness,
reconciles inconsistencies, and lovingly coaxes them into harmony with
the true and the absolute.

When man's spirit is thus made to re-enter upon the enjoyment of eternal
truth, its heritage, there is, as some one has well said, triumph akin
to the joy of the father over the home-coming of a lost son, and the
divine, refreshing laughter by which it is greeted is like the meal
prepared for the returning favorite. Is Israel to have no seat at the
table? Israel, the first to recognize that the eternal truths of life
are innate in man, the first to teach, as his chief message, how to
reconcile man with himself and the world, whenever these truths suffer
temporary obscuration? So viewed, humor is the offspring of love, and
also mankind's redeemer, inasmuch as it paralyzes the influence of anger
and hatred, emanations from the powers of change and finality, by laying
bare the eternal principles and "sweet reasonableness" hidden even in
them, and finally stripping them of every adjunct incompatible with the
serenity of absolute truth. In whatever mind humor, that is, love and
cheerfulness, reigns supreme, the inconsistencies and imperfections of
life, all that bears the impress of mutability, will gently and
gradually be fused into the harmonious perfection of absolute, eternal
truth. Mists sometimes gather about the sun, but unable to extinguish
his light, they are forced to serve as his mirror, on which he throws
the witching charms of the Fata Morgana. So, when the eternal truths of
life are veiled, opportunity is made for humor to play upon and
irradiate them. In precise language, humor is a state of perfect
self-certainty, in which the mind serenely rises superior to every petty

This placidity shed its soft light into the modest academies of the
rabbis. Wherever a ray fell, a blossom of Haggadic folklore sprang up.
Every occurrence in life recommends itself to their loving scrutiny:
pleasures and follies of men, curse turned into blessing, the ordinary
course of human events, curiosities of Israel's history and mankind's.
As instances of their method, take what Midrashic folklore has to say
concerning the creation of the two things of perennial interest to
poets: wife and wine.

When the Lord God created woman, he formed her not from the head of man,
lest she be too proud; not from his eye, lest she be too coquettish; not
from his ear, lest she be too curious; not from his mouth, lest she be
too talkative; not from his heart, lest she be too sentimental; not from
his hands, lest she be too officious; nor from his feet, lest she be an
idle gadabout; but from a subordinate part of man's anatomy, to teach
her: "Woman, be thou modest!"

With regard to the vine, the Haggada tells us that when Father Noah was
about to plant the first one, Satan stepped up to him, leading a lamb, a
lion, a pig, and an ape, to teach him that so long as man does not drink
wine, he is innocent as a lamb; if he drinks temperately, he is as
strong as a lion; if he indulges too freely, he sinks to the level of
swine; and as for the ape, his place in the poetry of wine is as well
known to us as to the rabbis of old.

With the approach of the great catastrophe destined to annihilate
Israel's national existence, humor and spontaneity vanish, to be
superseded by seriousness, melancholy, and bitter plaints, and the
centuries of despondency and brooding that followed it were not better
calculated to encourage the expression of love and humor. The pall was
not lifted until the Haggada performed its mission as a comforter. Under
its gentle ministrations, and urged into vitality by the religious needs
of the synagogue, the poetic instinct awoke. _Piut_ and _Selicha_
replaced prophecy and psalmody as religious agents, and thenceforth the
springs of consolation were never permitted to run dry. Driven from the
shores of the Jordan and the Euphrates, Hebrew poetry found a new home
on the Tagus and the Manzanares, where the Jews were blessed with a
second golden age. In the interval from the eleventh to the thirteenth
century, under genial Arabic influences, Andalusian masters of song
built up an ideal world of poetry, wherein love and humor were granted
untrammelled liberty.

To the Spanish-Jewish writers poetry was an end in itself. Along with
religious songs, perfect in rhythm and form, they produced lyrics on
secular subjects, whose grace, beauty, harmony, and wealth of thought
rank them with the finest creations of the age. The spirit of the
prophets and psalmists revived in these Spanish poets. At their head
stands Solomon ibn Gabirol, the Faust of Saragossa, whose poems are the
first tinged with _Weltschmerz_, that peculiar ferment characteristic of
a modern school of poets.[47] Our accounts of Gabirol's life are meagre,
but they leave the clear impression that he was not a favorite of
fortune, and passed a bleak childhood and youth. His poems are pervaded
by vain longing for the ideal, by lamentations over deceived hopes and
unfulfilled aspirations, by painful realization of the imperfection and
perishability of all earthly things, and the insignificance and
transitoriness of life, in a word, by _Weltschmerz_, in its purest,
ideal form, not merely self-deception and irony turned against one's own
soul life, but a profoundly solemn emotion, springing from sublime pity
for the misery of the world read by the light of personal trials and
sorrows. He sang not of a mistress' blue eyes, nor sighed forth
melancholy love-notes--the object of his heart's desire was Zion, his
muse the fair "rose of Sharon," and his anguish was for the suffering of
his scattered people. Strong, wild words fitly express his tempestuous
feelings. He is a proud, solitary thinker. Often his _Weltschmerz_
wrests scornful criticism of his surroundings from him. On the other
hand, he does not lack mild, conciliatory humor, of which his famous
drinking-song is a good illustration. His miserly host had put a single
bottle of wine upon a table surrounded by many guests, who had to have
recourse to water to quench their thirst. Wine he calls a
septuagenarian, the letters of the Hebrew word for wine (_yayin_)
representing seventy, and water a nonagenarian, because _mayim_ (water)
represents ninety:


Chorus:--Of wine, alas! there's not a drop,
         Our host has filled our goblets to the top
                 With water.

         When monarch wine lies prone,
         By water overthrown,
         How can a merry song be sung?
         For naught there is to wet our tongue
                 But water.
           CHORUS:--Of wine, alas! etc.

         No sweetmeats can delight
         My dainty appetite,
         For I, alas! must learn to drink,
         However I may writhe and shrink,
                 Pure water.
           CHORUS:--Of wine, alas! etc.

         Give Moses praise, for he
         Made waterless a sea--
         Mine host to quench my thirst--the churl!--
         Makes streams of clearest water purl,
                 Of water.
           CHORUS:--Of wine, alas! etc.

         To toads I feel allied,
         To frogs by kinship tied;
         For water drinking is no joke,
         Ere long you all will hear me croak
                 Quack water!
           CHORUS:--Of wine, alas! etc.

         May God our host requite;
         May he turn Nazirite,
         Ne'er know intoxication's thrill,
         Nor e'er succeed his thirst to still
                 With water!
           CHORUS:--Of wine, alas! etc."

Gabirol was a bold thinker, a great poet wrestling with the deepest
problems of human thought, and towering far above his contemporaries and
immediate successors. In his time synagogue poetry reached the zenith of
perfection, and even in the solemn admonitions of ritualistic
literature, humor now and again asserted itself. One of Gabirol's
contemporaries or successors, Isaac ben Yehuda ibn Ghayyat, for
instance, often made his whole poem turn upon a witticism.

Among the writers of that age, a peculiar style called "mosaic"
gradually grew up, and eventually became characteristic of neo-Hebraic
poetry and humor. For their subjects and the presentation of their
thoughts, they habitually made use of biblical phraseology, either as
direct quotations or with an application not intended by the original
context. In the latter case, well-known sentences were invested with new
meanings, and this poetic-biblical phraseology afforded countless
opportunities for the exercise of humor, of which neo-Hebraic poetry
availed itself freely. The "mosaics" were collected not only from the
Bible; the Targum, the Mishna, and the Talmud were rifled of sententious
expressions, woven together, and with the license of art placed in
unexpected juxtaposition. An example will make clear the method. In
Genesis xviii. 29, God answers Abraham's petition in behalf of Sodom
with the words: "I will not do it for the sake of forty," meaning, as
everybody knows, that forty men would suffice to save the city from
destruction. This passage Isaac ben Yehuda ibn Ghayyat audaciously
connects with Deuteronomy xxv. 3, where forty is also mentioned, the
forty stripes for misdemeanors of various kinds:

    "If you see men the path of right forsake,
    To bring them back you must an effort make.
    Perhaps, if they but hear of stripes, they'll quake,
    And say, 'I'll do it not for forty's sake.'"

This "mosaic" style, suggesting startling contrasts and surprising
applications of Bible thoughts and words, became a fruitful source of
Jewish humor. If a theory of literary descent could be established, an
illustration might be found in Heine's rapid transitions from tender
sentiment to corroding wit, a modern development of the flashing humor
of the "mosaic" style.

The "Song of Songs" naturally became a treasure-house of "mosaic"
suggestions for the purposes of neo-Hebraic love poetry, which was
dominated, however, by Arab influences. The first poet to introduce the
sorrow of unhappy love into neo-Hebraic poetry was Moses ibn Ezra. He
was in love with his niece, who probably became the wife of one of his
brothers, and died early on giving birth to a son. His affection at
first was requited, but his brothers opposed the union, and the poet
left Spain, embittered and out of sorts with fate, to find peace and
consolation in distant lands. Many of his poems are deeply tinged with
gloom and pessimism, and the natural inference is that those in which he
praises nature, and wine, and "bacchanalian feasts under leafy canopies
with merry minstrelsy of birds" belong to the period of his life
preceding its unfortunate turning-point, when love still smiled upon
him, and hope was strong.

Some of his poems may serve as typical specimens of the love-poetry of
those days:

    "With hopeless love my heart is sick,
      Confession bursts my lips' restraint
    That thou, my love, dost cast me off,
      Hath touched me with a death-like taint.

    I view the land both near and far,
      To me it seems a prison vast.
    Throughout its breadth, where'er I look,
      My eyes are met by doors locked fast.

    And though the world stood open wide,
      Though angel hosts filled ev'ry space,
    To me 'twere destitute of charm
      Didst thou withdraw thy face."

Here is another:

    "Perchance in days to come,
      When men and all things change,
    They'll marvel at my love,
      And call it passing strange.

    Without I seem most calm,
      But fires rage within--
    'Gainst me, as none before,
      Thou didst a grievous sin.

    What! tell the world my woe!
      That were exceeding vain.
    With mocking smile they'd say,
      'You know, he is not sane!'"

When his lady-love died, he composed the following elegy:

    "In pain she bore the son who her embrace
      Would never know. Relentless death spread straight
      His nets for her, and she, scarce animate,
    Unto her husband signed: I ask this grace,
    My friend, let not harsh death our love efface;
      To our babes, its pledges, dedicate
      Thy faithful care; for vainly they await
    A mother's smile each childish fear to chase.
    And to my uncle, prithee, write. Deep pain
      I brought his heart. Consumed by love's regret
    He roved, a stranger in his home. I fain
      Would have him shed a tear, nor love forget.
    He seeketh consolation's cup, but first
    His soul with bitterness must quench its thirst."

Moses ibn Ezra's cup of consolation on not a few occasions seems to have
been filled to overflowing with wine. In no other way can the joyousness
of his drinking-songs be accounted for. The following are

    "Wine cooleth man in summer's heat,
    And warmeth him in winter's sleet.
    My buckler 'tis 'gainst chilling frost,
    My shield when rays of sun exhaust."

    "If men will probe their inmost heart,
    They must condemn their crafty art:
    For silver pieces they make bold
    To ask a drink of liquid gold."

To his mistress, naturally, many a stanza of witty praise and coaxing
imagery was devoted:

    "My love is like a myrtle tree,
      When at the dance her hair falls down.
    Her eyes deal death most pitiless,
      Yet who would dare on her to frown?"

    "Said I to sweetheart: 'Why dost thou resent
      The homage to thy grace by old men paid?'
    She answered me with question pertinent:
      'Dost thou prefer a widow to a maid?'"

To his love-poems and drinking-songs must be added his poems of
friendship, on true friends, life's crowning gift, and false friends,
basest of creatures. He has justly been described as the most subjective
of neo-Hebraic poets. His blithe delight in love, exhaling from his
poems, transfigured his ready humor, which instinctively pierced to the
ludicrous element in every object and occurrence: age dyeing its hair,
traitorous friendship, the pride of wealth, or separation of lovers.

Yet in the history of synagogue literature this poet goes by the name
_Ha-Sallach_, "penitential poet," on account of his many religious
songs, bewailing in elegiac measure the hollowness of life, and the
vanity of earthly possessions, and in ardent words advocating humility,
repentance, and a contrite heart. The peculiarity of Jewish humor is
that it returns to its tragic source.

No mediæval poet so markedly illustrates this characteristic as the
prince of neo-Hebraic poetry, Yehuda Halevi, in whose poems the
principle of Jewish national poesy attained its completest expression.
They are the idealized reflex of the soul of the Jewish people, its
poetic emotions, its "making for righteousness," its patriotic love of
race, its capacity for martyrdom. Whatever true and beautiful element
had developed in Jewish soul life, since the day when Judah's song first
rang out in Zion's accents on Spanish soil, greets us in its noblest
garb in his poetry. A modern poet[48] says of him:

    "Ay, he was a master singer,
    Brilliant pole star of his age,
    Light and beacon to his people!
    Wondrous mighty was his singing--

    Verily a fiery pillar
    Moving on 'fore Israel's legions,
    Restless caravan of sorrow,
    Through the exile's desert plain."

In his early youth the muse of poetry had imprinted a kiss upon Halevi's
brow, and the gracious echo of that kiss trembles through all the poet's
numbers. Love, too, seems early to have taken up an abode in his
susceptible heart, but, as expressed in the poems of his youth, it is
not sensuous, earthly love, nor Gabirol's despondency and unselfish
grief, nor even the sentiment of Moses ibn Ezra's artistically
conceived and technically perfect love-plaint. It is tender, yet
passionate, frankly extolling the happiness of requited love, and as
naively miserable over separation from his mistress, whom he calls Ophra
(fawn). One of his sweetest songs he puts upon her lips:

    "Into my eyes he loving looked,
      My arms about his neck were twined,
    And in the mirror of my eyes,
      What but his image did he find?

    Upon my dark-hued eyes he pressed
      His lips with breath of passion rare.
    The rogue! 'Twas not my eyes he kissed;
      He kissed his picture mirrored there."

Ophra's "Song of Joy" reminds one of the passion of the "Song of Songs":

    "He cometh, O bliss!
    Fly swiftly, ye winds,
    Ye odorous breezes,
    And tell him how long
    I've waited for this!

    O happy that night,
    When sunk on thy breast,
    Thy kisses fast falling,
    And drunken with love,
    My troth I did plight.

    Again my sweet friend
    Embraceth me close.
    Yes, heaven doth bless us,
    And now thou hast won
    My love without end."

His mistress' charms he describes with attractive grace:

    "My sweetheart's dainty lips are red,
    With ruby's crimson overspread;
    Her teeth are like a string of pearls;
    Adown her neck her clust'ring curls
    In ebon hue vie with the night;
    And o'er her features dances light.

    The twinkling stars enthroned above
    Are sisters to my dearest love.
    We men should count it joy complete
    To lay our service at her feet.
    But ah! what rapture in her kiss!
    A forecast 'tis of heav'nly bliss!"

When the hour of parting from Ophra came, the young poet sang:

    "And so we twain must part! Oh linger yet,
      Let me still feed my glance upon thine eyes.
    Forget not, love, the days of our delight,
      And I our nights of bliss shall ever prize.
    In dreams thy shadowy image I shall see,
      Oh even in my dream be kind to me!"[49]

Yehuda Halevi sang not only of love, but also, in true Oriental fashion,
and under the influence of his Arabic models, of wine and friendship. On
the other hand, he is entirely original in his epithalamiums, charming
descriptions of the felicity of young conjugal life and the sweet
blessings of pure love. They are pervaded by the intensity of joy, and
full of roguish allusions to the young wife's shamefacedness, arousing
the jest and merriment of her guests, and her delicate shrinking in the
presence of longed-for happiness. Characteristically enough his
admonitions to feed the fire of love are always followed by a sigh for
his people's woes:

    "You twain will soon be one,
      And all your longing filled.
    Ah me! will Israel's hope
      For freedom e'er be stilled?"

It is altogether probable that these blithesome songs belong to the
poet's early life. To a friend who remonstrates with him for his love of
wine he replies:

    "My years scarce number twenty-one--
    Wouldst have me now the wine-cup shun?"

which would seem to indicate that love and wine were the pursuits of his
youth. One of his prettiest drinking songs is the following:

    "My bowl yields exultation--
      I soar aloft on song-tipped wing,
    Each draught is inspiration,
      My lips sip wine, my mouth must sing.

    Dear friends are full of horror,
      Predict a toper's end for me.
    They ask: 'How long, O sorrow,
      Wilt thou remain wine's devotee?'

    Why should I not sing praise of drinking?
      The joys of Eden it makes mine.
    If age will bring no cowardly shrinking,
      Full many a year will I drink wine."

But little is known of the events of the poet's career. History's
niggardliness, however, has been compensated for by the prodigality of
legend, which has woven many a fanciful tale about his life. Of one fact
we are certain: when he had passed his fiftieth year, Yehuda Halevi left
his native town, his home, his family, his friends, and disciples, to
make a pilgrimage to Palestine, the land wherein his heart had always
dwelt. His itinerary can be traced in his songs. They lead us to Egypt,
to Zoan, to Damascus. In Tyre silence suddenly falls upon the singer.
Did he attain the goal he had set out to reach? Did his eye behold the
land of his fathers? Or did death overtake the pilgrim singer before his
journey's end? Legend which has beautified his life has transfigured his
death. It is said, that struck by a Saracen's horse Yehuda Halevi sank
down before the very gates of Jerusalem. With its towers and battlements
in sight, and his inspired "Lay of Zion" on his lips, his pure soul
winged its flight heavenward.

With the death of Yehuda Halevi, the golden age of neo-Hebraic poetry in
Spain came to an end, and the period of the epigones was inaugurated. A
note of hesitancy is discernible in their productions, and they
acknowledge the superiority of their predecessors in the epithet
"fathers of song" applied to them. The most noted of the later writers
was Yehuda ben Solomon Charisi. Fortune marked him out to be the critic
of the great poetic creations of the brilliant epoch just closed, and
his fame rests upon the skill with which he acquitted himself of his
difficult task. As for his poetry, it lacks the depth, the glow, the
virility, and inspiration of the works of the classical period. He was a
restless wanderer, a poet tramp, roving in the Orient, in Africa, and in
Europe. His most important work is his divan _Tachkemoni_, testifying to
his powers as a humorist, and especially to his mastery of the Hebrew
language, which he uses with dexterity never excelled. The divan touches
upon every possible subject: God and nature, human life and suffering,
the relations between men, his personal experiences, and his adventures
in foreign parts. The first Makamat[50] writer among Jews, he furnished
the model for all poems of the kind that followed; their first genuine
humorist, he flashes forth his wit like a stream of light suddenly
turned on in the dark. That he measured the worth of his productions by
the generous meed of praise given by his contemporaries is a venial
offense in the time of the troubadours and minnesingers. Charisi was
particularly happy in his use of the "mosaic" style, and his short poems
and epigrams are most charming. Deep melancholy is a foil to his humor,
but as often his writings are disfigured by levity. The following may
serve as samples of his versatile muse. The first is addressed to his
grey hair:

    "Those ravens black that rested
      Erstwhile upon my head,
    Within my heart have nested,
      Since from my hair they fled."

The second is inscribed to love's tears:

    "Within my heart I held concealed
      My love so tender and so true;
    But overflowing tears revealed
      What I would fain have hid from view.
    My heart could evermore repress
    The woe that tell-tale tears confess."

Charisi is at his best when he gives the rein to his humor. Sparks fly;
he stops at no caustic witticism, recoils from no satire; he is malice
itself, and puts no restraint upon his levity. The "Flea Song" is a
typical illustration of his impish mood:

    "You ruthless flea, who desecrate my couch,
      And draw my blood to sate your appetite,
    You know not rest, on Sabbath day or feast--
      Your feast it is when you can pinch and bite.

    My friends expound the law: to kill a flea
      Upon the Sabbath day a sin they call;
    But I prefer that other law which says,
      Be sure a murd'rer's malice to forestall."

That Charisi was a boon companion is evident from the following drinking

    "Here under leafy bowers,
      Where coolest shades descend,
    Crowned with a wreath of flowers,
      Here will we drink, my friend.

    Who drinks of wine, he learns
      That noble spirits' strength
    But steady increase earns,
      As years stretch out in length.

    A thousand earthly years
      Are hours in God's sight,
    A year in heav'n appears
      A minute in its flight.

    I would this lot were mine:
      To live by heav'nly count,
    And drink and drink old wine
      At youth's eternal fount."

Charisi and his Arabic models found many imitators among Spanish Jews.
Solomon ibn Sakbel wrote Hebrew Makamat which may be regarded as an
attempt at a satire in the form of a romance. The hero, Asher ben
Yehuda, a veritable Don Juan, passes through most remarkable
adventures.[51] The introductory Makama, describing life with his
mistress in the solitude of a forest, is delicious. Tired of his
monotonous life, he joins a company of convivial fellows, who pass their
time in carousal. While with them, he receives an enigmatic love letter
signed by an unknown woman, and he sets out to find her. On his
wanderings, oppressed by love's doubts, he chances into a harem, and is
threatened with death by its master. It turns out that the pasha is a
beautiful woman, the slave of his mysterious lady-love, and she promises
him speedy fulfilment of his wishes. Finally, close to the attainment of
his end, he discovers that his beauty is a myth, the whole a practical
joke perpetrated by his merry companions. So Asher ben Yehuda in quest
of his mistress is led from adventure to adventure.

Internal evidence testifies against the genuineness of this romance, but
at the same time with it appeared two other mock-heroic poems, "The Book
of Diversions" (_Sefer Sha'ashuim_) by Joseph ibn Sabara, and "The Gift
of Judah the Misogynist" (_Minchatk Yehuda Soneh ha-Nashim_) by Judah
ibn Sabbataï, a Cordova physician, whose poems Charisi praised as the
"fount of poesy." The plot of his "Gift," a satire on women, is as
follows:[52] His dying father exacts from Serach, the hero of the
romance, a promise never to marry, women in his sight being the cause of
all the evil in the world. Curious as the behest is, it is still more
curious that Serach uncomplainingly complies, and most curious of all,
that he finds three companions willing to retire with him to a distant
island, whence their propaganda for celibacy is to proceed. Scarcely has
the news of their arrival spread, when a mass meeting of women is
called, and a coalition formed against the misogynists. Korbi, an old
hag, engages to make Serach faithless to his principles. He soon has a
falling out with his fellow-celibates, and succumbs to the fascinations
of a fair young temptress. After the wedding he discovers that his
enemies, the women, have substituted for his beautiful bride, a hideous
old woman, Blackcoal, the daughter of Owl. She at once assumes the reins
of government most energetically, and answers her husband's groan of
despair by the following curtain lecture:

    "Up! up! the time for sleep is past!
    And no resistance will I brook!
    Away with thee, and look to it
    That thou bringst me what I ask:
    Gowns of costly stuff,
    Earrings, chains, and veils;
    A house with many windows;
    Mortars, lounges, sieves,
    Baskets, kettles, pots,
    Glasses, settles, brooms,
    Beakers, closets, flasks,
    Shovels, basins, bowls,
    Spindle, distaff, blankets,
    Buckets, ewers, barrels,
    Skillets, forks, and knives;
    Vinaigrettes and mirrors;
    Kerchiefs, turbans, reticules,
    Crescents, amulets,
    Rings and jewelled clasps;
    Girdles, buckles, bodices,
    Kirtles, caps, and waists;
    Garments finely spun,
    Rare byssus from the East.
    This and more shalt thou procure,
    No matter at what cost and sacrifice.
    Thou art affrighted? Thou weepest?
    My dear, spare all this agitation;
    Thou'lt suffer more than this.
    The first year shall pass in strife,
    The second will see thee a beggar.
    A prince erstwhile, thou shalt become a slave;
    Instead of a crown, thou shalt wear a wreath of straw."

Serach in abject despair turns for comfort to his three friends, and it
is decided to bring suit for divorce in a general assembly. The women
appear at the meeting, and demand that the despiser of their sex be
forced to keep his ugly wife. One of the trio of friends proposes that
the matter be brought before the king. The poet appends no moral to his
tale; he leaves it to his readers to say: "And such must be the fate of
all woman-haters!"

Judah Sabbataï was evidently far from being a woman-hater himself, but
some of his contemporaries failed to understand the point of his
witticisms and ridiculous situations. Yedaya Penini, another poet,
looked upon it as a serious production, and in his allegory, "Woman's
Friend," destitute of poetic inspiration, but brilliant in dialectics,
undertook the defense of the fair sex against the misanthropic
aspersions of the woman-hater.

Such works are evidence that we have reached the age of the troubadours
and minnesingers, the epoch of the Renaissance, when, under the blue sky
of Italy, and the fostering care of the trio of master-poets, Dante,
Petrarch, and Boccaccio, the first germs of popular poetry were
unfolding. The Italian Jews were carried along by the all-pervading
spirit of the times, and had a share in the vigorous mental activity
about them. Suggestions derived from the work of the Renaissance leaders
fell like electric sparks into Jewish literature and science, lighting
them up, and bringing them into rapport with the products of the
humanistic movement. Provence, the land of song, gave birth to Kalonymos
ben Kalonymos, later a resident of Italy, whose work, "Touchstone"
(_Eben Bochan_) is the first true satire in neo-Hebraic poetry. It is a
mirror of morals held up before his people, for high and low, rabbis and
leaders, poets and scholars, rich and poor, to see their foibles and
follies. The satire expresses a humorous, but lofty conception of life,
based upon profound morality and sincere faith. It fulfils every
requirement of a satire, steering clear of the pitfall caricature, and
not obtruding the didactic element. The lesson to be conveyed is
involved in, not stated apart from the satire, an emanation from the
poet's disposition. His aim is not to ridicule, but to improve,
instruct, influence. One of the most amusing chapters is that on woman's
superior advantages, which make him bewail his having been born a

    "Truly, God's hand lies heavy on him
    Who has been created a man:
    Full many a trial he must patiently bear,
    And scorn and contumely of every kind.
    His life is like a field laid waste--
    Fortunate he is if it lasts not too long!
    Were I, for instance, a woman,
    How smooth and pleasant were my course.
    A circle of intimate friends
    Would call me gentle, graceful, modest.
    Comfortably I'd sit with them and sew,
    With one or two mayhap at the spinning wheel.
    On moonlight nights
    Gathered for cozy confidences,
    About the hearthfire, or in the dark,
    We'd tell each other what the people say,
    The gossip of the town, the scandals,
    Discuss the fashions and the last election.
    I surely would rise above the average--
    I would be an artist needlewoman,
    Broidering on silk and velvet
    The flowers of the field,
    And other patterns, copied from models,
    So rich in color as to make them seem nature--
    Petals, trees, blossoms, plants, and pots,
    And castles, pillars, temples, angel heads,
    And whatever else can be imitated with needle by her
    Who guides it with art and skill.
    Sometimes, too, though 'tis not so attractive,
    I should consent to play the cook--
    No less important task of woman 'tis
    To watch the kitchen most carefully.
    I should not be ruffled
    By dust and ashes on the hearth, by soot on stoves and pots;
    Nor would I hesitate to swing the axe
    And chop the firewood,
    And not to feed and rake the fire up,
    Despite the ashy dust that fills the nostrils.
    My particular delight it would be
    To taste of all the dishes served.
    And if some merry, joyous festival approached,
    Then would I display my taste.
    I would choose most brilliant gems for ear and hand,
    For neck and breast, for hair and gown,
    Most precious stuffs of silk and velvet,
    Whatever in clothes and jewels would increase my charms.
    And on the festal day, I would loud rejoice,
    Sing, and sway myself, and dance with vim.
    When I reached a maiden's prime,
    With all my charms at their height,
    What happiness, were heaven to favor me,
    Permit me to draw a prize in life's lottery,
    A youth of handsome mien, brave and true,
    With heart filled with love for me.
    If he declared his passion,
    I would return his love with all my might.
    Then as his wife, I would live a princess,
    Reclining on the softest pillows,
    My beauty heightened by velvet, silk, and tulle,
    By pearls and golden ornaments,
    Which he with lavish love would bring to me,
    To add to his delight and mine."

After enumerating additional advantages enjoyed by the gentler sex, the
poet comes to the conclusion that protesting against fate is vain, and
closes his chapter thus:

    "Well, then, I'll resign myself to fate,
    And seek consolation in the thought that life comes to an end.
    Our sages tell us everywhere
    That for all things we must praise God,
    With loud rejoicing for all good,
    In submission for evil fortune.
    So I will force my lips,
    However they may resist, to say the olden blessing:
    My Lord and God accept my thanks
    That thou has made of me a man."

One of Kalonymos's friends was Immanuel ben Solomon of Rome, called the
"Heine of the middle ages," and sometimes the "Jewish Voltaire." Neither
comparison is apt. On the one hand, they give him too high a place as a
writer, on the other, they do not adequately indicate his characteristic
qualities. His most important work, the _Mechabberoth_, is a collection
of disjointed pieces, full of bold witticisms, poetic thoughts, and
linguistic charms. It is composed of poems, Makamat, parodies, novels,
epigrams, distichs, and sonnets--all essentially humorous. The poet
presents things as they are, leaving it to reality to create ridiculous
situations. He is witty rather than humorous. Rarely only a spark of
kindliness or the glow of poetry transfigures his wit. He is uniformly
objective, scintillating, cold, often frivolous, and not always chaste.
To produce a comic effect, to make his readers laugh is his sole desire.
Friend and admirer of Dante, he attained to a high degree of skill in
the sonnet. In neo-Hebraic poetry, his works mark the beginning of a new
epoch. Indelicate witticisms and levity, until then sporadic in Jewish
literature, were by him introduced as a regular feature. The poetry of
the earlier writers had dwelt upon the power of love, their muse was
modest and chaste, a "rose of Sharon," a "lily of the valleys."
Immanuel's was of coarser fibre; his witty sallies remind one of Italian
rather than Hebrew models. A recent critic of Hebrew poetry speaks of
his Makamat as a pendant to "Tristan and Isolde,"--in both sensuality
triumphs over spirituality. He is at his best in his sonnets, and of
these the finest are in poetic prose. Female beauty is an unfailing
source of inspiration to him, but of trust in womankind he has none:

    "No woman ever faithful hold,
    Unless she ugly be and old."

The full measure of mockery he poured out upon a deceived husband, and
the most cutting sarcasm at his command against an enemy is a
comparison to crabbed, ugly women:

    "I loathe him with the hot and honest hate
    That fills a rake 'gainst maids he can not bait,
    With which an ugly hag her glass reviles,
    And prostitutes the youths who 'scape their wiles."

His devotion to woman's beauty is altogether in the spirit of his
Italian contemporaries. One of his most pleasing sonnets is dedicated to
his lady-love's eyes:[54]

    "My sweet gazelle! From thy bewitching eyes
      A glance thrills all my soul with wild delight.
      Unfathomed depths beam forth a world so bright--
    With rays of sun its sparkling splendor vies--
    One look within a mortal deifies.
      Thy lips, the gates wherethrough dawn wings its flight,
      Adorn a face suffused with rosy light,
    Whose radiance puts to shame the vaulted skies.
    Two brilliant stars are they from heaven sent--
      Their charm I cannot otherwise explain--
    By God but for a little instant lent,
      Who gracious doth their lustrous glory deign,
    To teach those on pursuit of beauty bent,
      Beside those eyes all other beauty's vain."

Immanuel's most congenial work, however, is as a satirist. One of his
best known poems is a chain of distichs, drawing a comparison between
two maidens, Tamar the beautiful, and Beria the homely:

  "Tamar raises her eyelids, and stars appear in the sky;
  Her glance drops to earth, and flowers clothe the knoll whereon she stands.
  Beria looks up, and basilisks die of terror;
  Be not amazed; 'tis a sight that would Satan affright.
  Tamar's divine form human language cannot describe;
  The gods themselves believe her heaven's offspring.
  Beria's presence is desirable only in the time of vintage,
  When the Evil One can be banished by naught but grimaces.
  Tamar! Had Moses seen thee he had never made the serpent of copper,
  With thy image he had healed mankind.
  Beria! Pain seizes me, physic soothes,
  I catch sight of thee, and it returns with full force.
  Tamar, with ringlets adorned, greets early the sun,
  Who quickly hides, ashamed of his bald pate.
  Beria! were I to meet thee on New Year's Day in the morning,
  An omen 'twere of an inauspicious year.
  Tamar smiles, and heals the heart's bleeding wounds;
  She raises her head, the stars slink out of sight.
  Beria it were well to transport to heaven,
  Then surely heaven would take refuge on earth.
  Tamar resembles the moon in all respects but one--
  Her resplendent beauty never suffers obscuration.
  Beria partakes of the nature of the gods; 'tis said,
  None beholds the gods without most awful repentance.
  Tamar, were the Virgin like thee, never would the sun
  Pass out of Virgo to shine in Libra.
  Beria, dost know why the Messiah tarries to bring deliverance to men?
  Redemption time has long arrived, but he hides from thee."

With amazement we see the Hebrew muse, so serious aforetimes,
participate in truly bacchanalian dances under Immanuel's guidance. It
is curious that while, on the one hand, he shrinks from no frivolous
utterance or indecent allusion, on the other, he is dominated by deep
earnestness and genuine warmth of feeling, when he undertakes to defend
or expound the fundamentals of faith. It is characteristic of the trend
of his thought that he epitomizes the "Song of Songs" in the sentence:
"Love is the pivot of the _Torah_." By a bold hypothesis it is assumed
that in Daniel, his guide in Paradise (in the twenty-eighth canto of his
poem), he impersonated and glorified his great friend Dante. If true,
this would be an interesting indication of the intimate relations
existing between a Jew and a circle devoted to the development of the
national genius in literature and language, and the stimulating of the
sense of nature and truth in opposition to the fantastic visions and
grotesque ideals of the past.

Everywhere, not only in Italy, the Renaissance and the humanistic
movement attract Jews. Among early Castilian troubadours there is a Jew,
and the last troubadour of Spain again is a Jew. Naturally Italian Jews
are more profoundly than others affected by the renascence of science
and art. David ben Yehuda, Messer Leon, is the author of an epic,
_Shebach Nashim_ ("Praise of Women"), in which occurs an interesting
reference to Petrarch's Laura, whom, in opposition to the consensus of
opinion among his contemporaries, he considers, not a figment of the
imagination, but a woman of flesh and blood. Praise and criticism of
women are favorite themes in the poetic polemics of the sixteenth
century. For instance, Jacob ben Elias, of Fano, in his "Shields of
Heroes," a small collection of songs in stanzas of three verses,
ventures to attack the weaker sex, for which Judah Tommo of Porta Leone
at once takes up the cudgels in his "Women's Shield." At the same time a
genuine song combat broke out between Abraham of Sarteano and Elias of
Genzano. The latter is the champion of the purity of womanhood, impugned
by the former, who in fifty tercets exposes the wickedness of woman in
the most infamous of her sex, from Lilith to Jezebel, from Semiramis to
Medea. An anonymous combatant lends force to his strictures by an
arraignment of the lax morals of the women of their own time, while a
fourth knight of song, evidently intending to conciliate the parties,
begins his "New Song," only a fragment of which has reached us, with
praise, and ends it with blame, of woman. Such productions, too, are a
result of the Renaissance, of its romantic current, which, as it
affected Catholicism, did not fail to leave its mark upon the Jews,
among whom romanticists must have had many a battle to fight with
adherents of traditional views.

Meantime, neo-Hebraic poetry had "fallen into the sear, the yellow
leaf." Poetry drooped under the icy breath of rationalism, and vanished
into the abyss of the Kabbala. At most we occasionally hear of a polemic
poem, a keen-edged epigram. For the rest, there was only a monotonous
succession of religious poems, repeating the old formulas, dry bones of
habit and tradition, no longer informed with true poetic, religious
spirit. Yet the source of love and humor in Jewish poetry had not run
dry. It must be admitted that the sentimentalism of the minneservice,
peculiar to the middle ages, never took root in Jewish soil. Pale
resignation, morbid despair, longing for death, unmanly indulgence in
regret, all the paraphernalia of chivalrous love, extolled in every key
in the poetry of the middle ages, were foreign to the sane Jewish mind.
Women, the object of unreasoning adulation, shared the fate of all
sovereign powers: homage worked their ruin. They became accustomed to
think that the weal and woe of the world depended upon their constancy
or disloyalty. Jews alone were healthy enough to subordinate sexual love
to reverence for maternity. Holding an exalted idea of love, they
realized that its power extends far beyond the lives of two persons, and
affects the well-being of generations unborn. Such love, intellectual
love, which Benedict Spinoza was the first to define from a scientific
and philosophic point of view, looks far down the vistas of the future,
and gives providential thought to the race.

While humor and romanticism everywhere in the middle ages appeared as
irreconcilable contrasts, by Jews they were brought into harmonious
relationship. When humor was banished from poetry, it took refuge in
Jewish-German literature, that spiritual undercurrent produced by the
claims of fancy as opposed to the aggressive, all absorbing demands of
reason. Not to the high and mighty, but to the lowly in spirit, the
little ones of the earth, to women and children, it made its appeal, and
from them its influence spread throughout the nation, bringing
refreshment and sustenance to weary, starved minds, hope to the
oppressed, and consolation to the afflicted. Consolation, indeed, was
sorely needed by the Jews on their peregrinations during the middle
ages. Sad, inexpressibly sad, was their condition. With fatal
exclusiveness they devoted themselves to the study of the Talmud.
Secular learning was deprecated; antagonism to science and vagaries
characterized their intellectual life; philosophy was formally
interdicted; the Hebrew language neglected; all their wealth and force
of intellect lavished upon the study of the Law, and even here every
faculty--reason, ingenuity, speculation--busied itself only with highly
artificial solutions of equally artificial problems, far-fetched
complications, and vexatious contradictions invented to be harmonized.
Under such grievous circumstances, oppression growing with malice,
Jewish minds and hearts were robbed of humor, and the exercise of love
was made a difficult task. Is it astonishing that in such days a rabbi
in the remote Slavonic East should have issued an injunction restraining
his sisters in faith from reading romances on the Sabbath--romances
composed by some other rabbi in Provence or Italy five hundred years

Sorrow and suffering are not endless. A new day broke for the Jews. The
walls of the Ghetto fell, dry bones joined each other for new life, and
a fresh spirit passed over the House of Israel. Enervation and decadence
were succeeded by regeneration, quickened by the spirit of the times, by
the ideas of freedom and equality universally advocated. The forces
which culminated in their revival had existed as germs in the preceding
century. Silently they had grown, operating through every spiritual
medium, poetry, oratory, philosophy, political agitation. In the
sunshine of the eighteenth century they finally matured, and at its
close the rejuvenation of the Jewish race was an accomplished fact in
every European country. Eagerly its sons entered into the new
intellectual and literary movements of the nations permitted to enjoy
another period of efflorescence, and Jewish humor has conquered a place
for itself in modern literature.

Our brief journey through the realm of love and humor must certainly
convince us that in sunny days humor rarely, love never, forsook Israel.
Our old itinerant preachers (_Maggidim_), strolling from town to town,
were in the habit of closing their sermons with a parable (_Mashai_),
which opened the way to exhortation. The manner of our fathers
recommends itself to me, and following in their footsteps, I venture to
close my pilgrimage through the ages with a _Mashal_. It transports us
to the sunny Orient, to the little seaport town of Jabneh, about six
miles from Jerusalem, in the time immediately succeeding the destruction
of the Temple. Thither with a remnant of his disciples, Jochanan ben
Zakkaï, one of the wisest of our rabbis, fled to escape the misery
incident to the downfall of Jerusalem. He knew that the Temple would
never again rise from its ashes. He knew as well that the essence of
Judaism has no organic connection with the Temple or the Holy City. He
foresaw that its mission is to spread abroad among the nations of the
earth, and of this future he spoke to the disciples gathered about him
in the academy at Jabneh. We can imagine him asking them to define the
fundamental principle of Judaism, and receiving a multiplicity of
answers, varying with the character and temper of the young
missionaries. To one, possibly, Judaism seemed to rest upon faith in
God, to another upon the Sabbath, to a third upon the _Torah_, to a
fourth upon the Decalogue. Such views could not have satisfied the
spiritual cravings of the aged teacher. When Jochanan ben Zakkaï rises
to give utterance to his opinion, we feel as though the narrow walls of
the academy at Jabneh were miraculously widening out to enclose the
world, while the figure of the venerable rabbi grows to the noble
proportions of a divine seer, whose piercing eye rends the veil of
futurity, and reads the remote verdict of history: "My disciples, my
friends, the fundamental principle of Judaism is love!"


Perhaps no people has held so peculiar a position with regard to the
drama as the Jews. Little more than two centuries have passed since a
Jewish poet ventured to write a drama, and now, if division by race be
admissible in literary matters, Jews indisputably rank among the first
of those interested in the drama, both in its composition and

Originally, the Hebrew mind felt no attraction towards the drama. Hebrew
poetry attained to neither dramatic nor epic creations, because the
all-pervading monotheistic principle of the nation paralyzed the free
and easy marshalling of gods and heroes of the Greek drama.
Nevertheless, traces of dramatic poetry appear in the oldest literature.
The "Song of Songs" by many is regarded as a dramatic idyl in seven
scenes, with Shulammith as the heroine, and the king, the ostensible
author, as the hero. But this and similar efforts are only faint
approaches to dramatic composition, inducing no imitations.

Greek and Roman theatrical representations, the first they knew, must
have awakened lively interest in the Jews. It was only after Alexander
the Great's triumphal march through the East, and the establishment of
Roman supremacy over Judæa, that a foothold was gained in Palestine by
the institutions called theatre by the ancients; that is, _stadia_;
circuses for wrestling, fencing, and combats between men and animals;
and the stage for tragedies and other plays. To the horror of pious
zealots, the Jewish Hellenists, in other words, Jews imbued with the
secular culture of the day, built a gymnasium for the wrestling and
fencing contests of the Jewish youth of Jerusalem, soon to be further
defiled by the circus and the _stadium_. According to Flavius Josephus,
Herod erected a theatre at Jerusalem twenty-eight years before the
present era, and in the vicinity of the city, an amphitheatre where
Greek players acted, and sang to the accompaniment of the lyre or flute.

The first, and at his time probably the only, Jewish dramatist was the
Greek poet Ezekielos (Ezekiel), who flourished in about 150 before the
common era. In his play, "The Exodus from Egypt," modelled after
Euripides, Moses, as we know him in the Bible, is the hero. Otherwise
the play is thoroughly Hellenic, showing the Greek tendency to become
didactic and reflective and use the heroes of sacred legend as human
types. Besides, two fragments of Jewish-Hellenic dramas, in trimeter
verse, have come down to us, the one treating of the unity of God, the
other of the serpent in Paradise.

To the mass of the Jewish people, particularly to the expounders and
scholars of the Law, theatrical performances seemed a desecration, a
sin. A violent struggle ensued between the _Beth ha-Midrash_ and the
stage, between the teachers of the Law and lovers of art, between
Rabbinism and Hellenism. Mindful of Bible laws inculcating humanity to
beasts and men, the rabbis could not fail to deprecate gladiatorial
contests, and in their simple-mindedness they must have revolted from
the themes of the Greek playwright, dishonesty, violence triumphant, and
conjugal infidelity being then as now favorite subjects of dramatic
representations. The immorality of the stage was, if possible, more
conspicuous in those days than in ours.

This was the point of view assumed by the rabbis in their exhortations
to the people, and a conspiracy against King Herod was the result. The
plotters one evening appeared at the theatre, but their designs were
frustrated by the absence of the king and his suite. The plot betrayed
itself, and one of the members of the conspiracy was seized and torn
into pieces by the mob. The most uncompromising rabbis pronounced a
curse over frequenters of the theatre, and raised abstinence from its
pleasures to the dignity of a meritorious action, inasmuch as it was the
scene of idolatrous practices, and its _habitués_ violated the
admonition contained in the first verse of the psalms. "Cursed be they
who visit the theatre and the circus, and despise our laws," one of them
exclaims.[55] Another interprets the words of the prophet: "I sat not in
the assembly of the mirthful, and was rejoiced," by the prayer: "Lord of
the universe, never have I visited a theatre or a circus to enjoy
myself in the company of scorners."

Despite rampant antagonism, the stage worked its way into the affection
and consideration of the Jewish public, and we hear of Jewish youths
devoting themselves to the drama and becoming actors. Only one has come
down to us by name: the celebrated Alityros in Rome, the favorite of
Emperor Nero and his wife Poppæa. Josephus speaks of him as "a player,
and a Jew, well favored by Nero." When the Jewish historian landed at
Puteoli, a captive, Alityros presented him to the empress, who secured
his liberation. Beyond a doubt, the Jewish _beaux esprits_ of Rome
warmly supported the theatre; indeed, Roman satirists levelled their
shafts against the zeal displayed in the service of art by Jewish

A reaction followed. Theatrical representations were pursued by Talmudic
Judaism with the same bitter animosity as by Christianity. Not a matter
of surprise, if account is taken of the licentiousness of the stage, so
depraved as to evoke sharp reproof even from a Cicero, and the hostility
of playwrights to Jews and Christians, whom they held up as a butt for
the ridicule of the Roman populace. Talmudic literature has preserved
several examples of the buffooneries launched against Judaism. Rabbi
Abbayu tells the following:[56] A camel covered with a mourning blanket
is brought upon the stage, and gives rise to a conversation. "Why is
the camel trapped in mourning?" "Because the Jews, who are observing the
sabbatical year, abstain from vegetables, and refuse to eat even herbs.
They eat only thistles, and the camel is mourning because he is deprived
of his favorite food."

Another time a buffoon appears on the stage with head shaved close. "Why
is the clown mourning?" "Because oil is so dear." "Why is oil dear?" "On
account of the Jews. On the Sabbath day they consume everything they
earn during the week. Not a stick of wood is left to make fire whereby
to cook their meals. They are forced to burn their beds for fuel, and
sleep on the floor at night. To get rid of the dirt, they use an immense
quantity of oil. Therefore, oil is dear, and the clown cannot grease his
hair with pomade." Certainly no one will deny that the patrons of the
Roman theatre were less critical than a modern audience.

Teachers of the Law had but one answer to make to such attacks--a
rigorous injunction against theatre-going. On this subject rabbis and
Church Fathers were of one mind. The rabbi's declaration, that he who
enters a circus commits murder, is offspring of the same holy zeal that
dictates Tertullian's solemn indignation: "In no respect, neither by
speaking, nor by seeing, nor by hearing, have we part in the mad antics
of the circus, the obscenity of the theatre, or the abominations of the
arena." Such expressions prepare one for the passion of another
remonstrant who, on a Sabbath, explained to his audience that
earthquakes are the signs of God's fierce wrath when He looks down upon
earth, and sees theatres and circuses flourish, while His sanctuary lies
in ruins.[57]

Anathemas against the stage were vain. One teacher of the Law, in the
middle of the second century, went so far as to permit attendance at the
circus and the _stadium_ for the very curious reason that the spectator
may haply render assistance to the charioteers in the event of an
accident on the race track, or may testify to their death at court, and
thus enable their widows to marry again. Another pious rabbi expresses
the hope that theatres and circuses at Rome at some future time may "be
converted into academies of virtue and morality."

Such liberal views were naturally of extremely rare occurrence. Many
centuries passed before Jews in general were able to overcome antipathy
to the stage and all connected with it. Pagan Rome with its artistic
creations was to sink, and the new Christian drama, springing from the
ruins of the old theatre, but making the religious its central idea, was
to develop and invite imitation before the first germ of interest in
dramatic subjects ventured to show itself in Jewish circles. The first
Jewish contribution to the drama dates from the ninth century. The story
of Haman, arch-enemy of the Jews, was dramatized in celebration of
_Purim_, the Jewish carnival. The central figure was Haman's effigy
which was burnt, amid song, music, and general merrymaking, on a small
pyre, over which the participants jumped a number of times in gleeful
rejoicing over the downfall of their worst enemy--extravagance
pardonable in a people which, on every other day of the year, tottered
under a load of distress and oppression.

This dramatic effort was only a sporadic phenomenon. Real, uninterrupted
participation in dramatic art by Jews cannot be recorded until fully six
hundred years later. Meantime the Spanish drama, the first to adapt
Bible subjects to the uses of the stage, had reached its highest
development. By reason of its choice of subjects it proved so attractive
to Jews that scarcely fifty years after the appearance of the first
Spanish-Jewish playwright, a Spanish satirist deplores, in cutting
verse, the Judaizing of dramatic poetry. In fact, the first original
drama in Spanish literature, the celebrated _Celestina_, is attributed
to a Jew, the Marrano Rodrigo da Cota. "Esther," the first distinctly
Jewish play in Spanish, was written in 1567 by Solomon Usque in Ferrara
in collaboration with Lazaro Graziano. The subject treated centuries
before in a roughshod manner naturally suggested itself to a genuine
dramatist, who chose it in order to invest it with the dignity conferred
by poetic art. This first essay in the domain of the Jewish drama was
followed by a succession of dramatic creations by Jews, who, exiled from
Spain, cherished the memory of their beloved country, and, carrying to
their new homes in Italy and Holland, love for its language and
literature, wrote all their works, dramas included, in Spanish after
Spanish models. So fruitful was their activity that shortly after the
exile we hear of a "Jewish Calderon," the author of more than twenty-two
plays, some long held to be the work of Calderon himself, and therefore
received with acclamation in Madrid. The real author, whose place in
Spanish literature is assured, was Antonio Enriquez di Gomez, a Marrano,
burnt in effigy at Seville after his escape from the clutches of the
Inquisition. His dramas in part deal with biblical subjects. Samson is
obviously the mouthpiece of his own sentiments:

    "O God, my God, the time draws quickly nigh!
      Now let a ray of thy great strength descend!
    Make firm my hand to execute the deed
      That alien rule upon our soil shall end!"

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Portuguese language
usurped the place of Spanish among Jews, and straightway we hear of a
Jewish dramatist, Antonio Jose de Silva (1705-1739), one of the most
illustrious of Portuguese poets, whose dramas still hold their own on
the repertory of the Portuguese stage. He was burnt at the stake, a
martyr to his faith, which he solemnly confessed in the hour of his
execution: "I am a follower of a faith God-given according to your own
teachings. God once loved this religion. I believe He still loves it,
but because you maintain that He no longer turns upon it the light of
His countenance, you condemn to death those convinced that God has not
withdrawn His grace from what He once favored." It is by no means an
improbable combination of circumstances that on the evening of the day
whereon Antonio Jose de Silva expired at the stake, an operetta written
by the victim himself was played at the great theatre of Lisbon in
celebration of the auto-da-fé.

Jewish literature as such derived little increase from this poetic
activity among Jews. In the period under discussion a single Hebrew
drama was produced which can lay claim to somewhat more praise than is
the due of mediocrity. _Asireh ha-Tikwah_, "The Prisoners of Hope,"
printed in 1673, deserves notice because it was the first drama
published in Hebrew, and its author, Joseph Pensa de la Vega, was the
last of Spanish, as Antonio de Silva was the last of Portuguese, Jewish
poets. The three act play is an allegory, treating of the victory of
free-will, represented by a king, over evil inclinations, personified by
the handsome lad Cupid. Though imbued with the solemnity of his
responsibilities as a ruler, the king is lured from the path of right by
various persons and circumstances, chief among them Cupid, his
coquettish queen, and his sinful propensities. The opposing good forces
are represented by the figures of harmony, Providence, and truth, and
they eventually lead the erring wanderer back to the road of salvation.
The _dramatis personæ_ of this first Hebrew drama are abstractions,
devoid of dramatic life, mere allegorical personifications, but the
underlying idea is poetic, and the Hebrew style pure, euphonious, and
rhythmical. Yet it is impossible to echo the enthusiasm which greeted
the work of the seventeen year old author in the Jewish academies of
Holland. Twenty-one poets sang its praises in Latin, Hebrew, and Spanish
verse. The following couplet may serve as a specimen of their eulogies:

    "At length Israel's muse assumes the tragic cothurn,
    And happily wends her way through the metre's mazes."

Pensa, though the first to publish, was not the first Hebrew dramatist
to write. The distinction of priority belongs to Moses Zacuto, who wrote
his Hebrew play, _Yesod Olam_[58] ("The Foundation of the World") a
quarter of a century earlier. His subject is the persecution inflicted
by idolaters upon Abraham on account of his faith, and the groundwork is
the Haggadistic narrative about Abraham's bold opposition to idolatrous
practices, and his courage even unto death in the service of the true
God. According to Talmudic interpretation a righteous character of this
description is one of the corner-stones of the universe. It must be
admitted that Zacuto's work is a drama with a purpose. The poet wished
to fortify his exiled, harassed people with the inspiration and hope
that flow from the contemplation of a strong, bold personality. But the
admission does not detract from the genuine merits of the poem. On the
other hand, this first dramatic effort naturally is crude, lacking in
the poetic forms supplied by highly developed art. Dialogues, prayers,
and choruses follow each other without regularity, and in varying
metres, not destitute, however, of poetic sentiment and lyric beauties.
Often the rhythm rises to a high degree of excellence, even elevation.
Like Pensa, Zacuto was the disciple of great masters, and a comparison
of either with Lope de Vega and Calderon will reveal the same southern
warmth, stilted pathos, exuberance of fancy, wealth of imagery,
excessive playing upon words, peculiar turns and phrases, erratic style,
and other qualities characteristic of Spanish dramatic poetry in that

Another century elapsed before the muse of the Hebrew drama escaped from
leading strings. Moses Chayyim Luzzatto (1707-1747) of Padua was a poet
of true dramatic gifts, and had he lived at another time he might have
attained to absolute greatness of performance. Unluckily, the
sentimental, impressionable youth became hopelessly enmeshed in the
snares of mysticism. In his seventeenth year he composed a biblical
drama, "Samson and the Philistines," the preserved fragments of which
are faultless in metre. His next effort was an allegorical drama,
_Migdal Oz_ ("Tower of Victory"), the style and moral of which show
unmistakable signs of Italian inspiration, derived particularly from
Guarini and his _Pastor Fido_, models not wholly commendable at a time
when Maffei's _Merope_ was exerting wholesome influence upon the Italian
drama in the direction of simplicity and dignity. Nothing, however,
could wean Luzzatto from adherence to Spanish-Italian romanticism. His
happiest creation is the dramatic parable, _Layesharim Tehillah_
("Praise unto the Righteous!"). The poetry of the Bible here celebrates
its resurrection. The rhythm and exuberance of the Psalms are reproduced
in the tone and color of its language. "All the fragrant flowers of
biblical poetry are massed in a single bed. Yet the language is more
than a mosaic of biblical phrases. It is an enamel of the most superb
and the rarest of elegant expressions in the Bible. The peculiarities of
the historical writings are carefully avoided, while all modifications
of style peculiar to poetry are gathered together to constitute what may
fairly be called a vocabulary of poetic diction."[59]

The allegory _Layesharim Tehillah_ is full of charming traits, but lacks
warmth, naturalness, and human interest, the indispensable elements of
dramatic action. The first act treats of the iniquity of men who prize
deceit beyond virtue, and closes with the retirement of the pious sage
to solitude. The second act describes the hopes of the righteous man and
his fate, and the third sounds the praise of truth and justice. The
thread of the story is slight, and the characters are pale phantoms,
instead of warm-blooded men. Yet the work must be pronounced a gem of
neo-Hebraic poetry, an earnest of the great creations its author might
have produced, if in early youth he had not been caught in the swirling
waters, and dragged down into the abysmal depths of Kabbalistic
mysticism. Despite his vagaries his poems were full of suggestiveness
and stimulation to many of his race, who were inspired to work along the
lines laid down by him. He may be considered to have inaugurated another
epoch of classical Hebrew literature, interpenetrated with the modern
spirit, which the Jewish dramas of his day are vigorously successful in
clothing in a Hebrew garb.

In the popular literature in Jewish-German growing up almost unnoticed
beside classical Hebrew literature, we find popular plays, comedies,
chiefly farces for the _Purim_ carnival. The first of them, "The Sale of
Joseph" (_Mekirath Yoseph_, 1710), treats the biblical narrative in the
form and spirit of the German farcical clown dialogues, Pickelhering
(Merry-Andrew), borrowed from the latter, being Potiphar's servant and
counsellor. No dramatic or poetic value of any kind attaches to the
play. It is as trivial as any of its models, the German clown comedies,
and possesses interest only as an index to the taste of the public,
which surely received it with delight. Strangely enough the principal
scene between Joseph and Selicha, Potiphar's wife, is highly discreet.
In a monologue, she gives passionate utterance to her love. Then Joseph
appears, and she addresses him thus:

    "Be welcome, Joseph, dearest one,
    My slave who all my heart has won!
    I beg of thee grant my request!
    So oft have I to thee confessed,
    My love for thee is passing great.
    In vain for answering love I wait.
    Have not so tyrannous a mind,
    Be not so churlish, so unkind--
    I bear thee such affection, see,
    Why wilt thou not give love to me?"

Joseph answers:

    "I owe my lady what she asks,
    Yet this is not among my tasks.
    I pray, my mistress, change thy mind;
    Thou canst so many like me find.
    How could I dare transgress my state,
    And my great trust so violate?
    My lord hath charged me with his house,
    Excepting only his dear spouse;
    Yet she, it seems, needs watching too.
    Now, mistress, fare thee well, adieu!"

Selicha then says:

    "O heaven now what shall I do?
    He'll list not to my vows so true.
    Come, Pickelhering, tell me quick,
    What I shall do his love to prick?
    I'll die if I no means can find
    To bend his humor to my mind.
    I'll give thee gold, thou mayst depend,
    If thou'lt but help me to my end."

Pickelhering appears, and says:

    "My lady, here I am, thy slave,
    My wisest counsel thou shalt have.
    Thou must lay violent hand on him,
    And say: 'Unless thou'lt grant my whim,
    I'll drive thee hence from out my court,
    And with thy woes I'll have my sport,
    Nor will I stay thy punishment,
    Till drop by drop thy blood is spent.'
    Perhaps he will amend his way,
    If thou such cruel words wilt say."

Selicha follows his advice, but being thwarted, again appeals to
Pickelhering, who says:

    "My lady fair, pray hark to me,
    My counsel now shall fruitful be.
    A garbled story shalt thou tell
    The king, and say: 'Hear what befell:
    Thy servant Joseph did presume
    To enter in my private room,
    When no one was about the house
    Who could protect thy helpless spouse.
    See here his mantle left behind.
    Seize him, my lord, the miscreant find.'"

Potiphar appears, Selicha tells her tale, and Pickelhering is sent in
quest of Joseph, who steps upon the scene to be greeted by his master's
far from gentle reproaches:

    "Thou gallowsbird, thou good-for-naught!
    Thou whom so true and good I thought!
    'Twere just to take thy life from thee.
    But no! still harsher this decree:
    In dungeon chained shalt thou repine,
    Where neither sun nor moon can shine.
    Forever there bewail thy lot unheard;
    Now leave my sight, begone, thou gallowsbird.'"

This ends the scene. Of course, at the last, Joseph escapes his doom,
and, to the great joy of the sympathetic public, is raised to high
dignities and honors.

This farce was presented at Frankfort-on-the-Main by Jewish students of
the city, aided by some from Hamburg and Prague, with extravagant
display of scenery. Tradition ascribes the authorship to a certain

"Ahasverus" is of similar coarse character, so coarse, indeed, that the
directors of the Frankfort Jewish community, exercising their rights as
literary censors, forbade its performance, and had the printed copies
burnt. A somewhat more refined comedy is _Acta Esther et Achashverosh_,
published at Prague in 1720, and enacted there by the pupils of the
celebrated rabbi David Oppenheim, "on a regular stage with drums and
other instruments." "The Deeds of King David and Goliath," and a
travesty, "Haman's Will and Death" also belong to the category of Purim

By an abrupt transition we pass from their consideration to the Hebrew
classical drama modelled after the pattern of Moses Chayyim Luzzatto's.
Greatest attention was bestowed upon historical dramas, notably those on
the trials and fortunes of Marranos, the favorite subjects treated by
David Franco Mendez, Samuel Romanelli, and others. Although their
language is an almost pure classical Hebrew, the plot is conceived
wholly in the spirit of modern times. At the end of the eighteenth
century, a large number of writers turned to Bible heroes and heroines
for dramatic uses, and since then Jewish interest in the drama has never
flagged. The luxuriant fruitfulness of these late Jewish playwrights,
standing in the sunlight of modern days, fully compensates for the
sterility of the Jewish dramatic muse during the centuries of darkness.

The first Jewish dramatist to use German was Benedict David Arnstein, of
Vienna, author of a large number of plays, comedies and melodramas, some
of which have been put upon the boards of the Vienna imperial theatre
(_Burgtheater_). He was succeeded by L. M. Büschenthal, whose drama,
"King Solomon's Seal," was performed at the royal theatre of Berlin.
Since his time poets of Jewish race have enriched dramatic literature in
all its departments. Their works belong to general literature, and need
not be individualized in this essay.

In the province of dramatic music, too, Jews have made a prominent
position for themselves. It suffices to mention Meyerbeer and Offenbach,
representatives of two widely divergent departments of the art. Again,
to assert the prominence of Jews as actors is uttering a truism. Adolf
Jellinek, one of the closest students of the racial characteristics of
Jews, thinks that they are singularly well equipped for the theatrical
profession by reason of their marked subjectivity, which always induces
objective, disinterested devotion to a purpose, and their
cosmopolitanism, which enables them to transport themselves with ease
into a new world of thought.[60] "It is natural that a race whose
religious, literary, and linguistic development in hundreds of instances
proves unique talent to adapt itself with marvellous facility to the
intellectual life of various countries and nations, should bring forth
individuals gifted with power to project themselves into a character
created by art, and impersonate it with admirable accuracy in the
smallest detail. What the race as a whole has for centuries been doing
spontaneously and by virtue of innate characteristics, can surely be
done with greater perfection by some of its members under the
consciously accepted guidance of the laws of art." Many Jewish race
peculiarities--quick perception, vivacity, declamatory pathos, perfervid
imagination--are prime qualifications for the actor's career, and such
names as Bogumil Davison, Adolf Sonnenthal, Rachel Felix, and Sarah
Bernhardt abundantly illustrate the general proposition.

Strenuous efforts to ascertain the name of the first Jewish actor in
Germany have been unavailing. Possibly it was the unnamed artist for
whom, at his brother's instance, Lessing interceded at the Mannheim
national theatre.

Legion is the name of the Jewish artists of this century who have
attained to prominence in every department of the dramatic art, in every
country, even the remotest, on the globe. Travellers in Russia tell of
the crowds that evening after evening flock to the Jewish-German
theatres at Odessa, Kiev, and Warsaw. The plays performed are
adaptations of the best dramatic works of all modern nations. We
outside of Russia have been made acquainted with the character of these
performances by the melodrama "Shulammith," enacted at various theatres
by a Jewish-German _opera bouffe_ company from Warsaw, and the writer
once--can he ever forget it?--saw "Hamlet" played by jargon actors. When
Hamlet offers advice to Ophelia in the words: "Get thee to a nunnery!"
she promptly retorts: _Mit Eizes bin ich versehen, mein Prinz!_ (With
good advice I am well supplied, my lord!).

The actor recalled by the recent centennial celebration of the first
performance of "The Magic Flute" must have been among the first Jews to
adopt the stage as a profession. The first presentation, at once
establishing the success of the opera, took place at Prague. According
to the _Prager Neue Zeitung_ an incident connected with that original
performance was of greater interest than the opera itself: "On the tenth
of last month, the new piece, 'The Magic Flute,' was produced. I
hastened to the theatre, and found that the part of Sarastro was taken
by a well-formed young man with a caressing voice who, as I was told to
my great surprise, was a Jew--yes, a Jew. He was visibly embarrassed
when he first appeared, proving that he was a human being subject to the
ordinary laws of nature and to the average mortal's weaknesses. Noticing
his stage-fright, the audience tried to encourage him by applause. It
succeeded, for he sang and spoke his lines with grace and dignity. At
the end he was called out and applauded vigorously. In short, I found
the Prague public very different from its reputation with us. It knows
how to appreciate merit even when possessed by an Israelite, and I am
inclined to think that it criticises harshly only when there is just
reason for complaint. Hartung, the Jewish actor, will soon appear in
other rôles, and doubtless will justify the applause of the public."

To return, in conclusion, to the classical drama in Hebrew. Though
patterned after the best classical models, and enriched by the noble
creations of S. L. Romanelli, M. E. Letteris, the translator of _Faust_,
A. Gottloeber, and others, Hebrew dramas belong to the large class of
plays for the closet, unsuited for the stage. This dramatic literature
contains not only original creations; the masterpieces of all
literatures--the works of Shakespere, Racine, Molière, Goethe, Schiller,
and Lessing--have been put into the language of the prophets and the
psalmists, and, infected by the vigor of their thought, the ancient
tongue has been re-animated with the vitality of undying youth.


Citizens of ancient Greece conversing during the _entr'actes_ of a first
performance at the national theatre of Olympia were almost sure to ask
each other, after the new play had been discussed: "What news from
Africa?" Through Aristotle the proverb has come down to us: "Africa
always brings us something new." Hence the question: _Quid novi ex

If ever two old rabbis in the _Beth ha-Midrash_ at Cyrene stole a chat
in the intervals of their lectures, the same question probably passed
between them. For, Africa has always claimed the interest of the
cultured. Jewish-German legend books place the scenes of their most
mysterious myths in the "Dark Continent," and I remember distinctly how
we youngsters on Sabbath afternoons used to crowd round our dear old
grandmother, who, great bowed spectacles on her nose, would read to us
from "Yosippon." On many such occasions an unruly listener, with a view
to hurrying the distribution of the "Sabbathfruit," would endanger the
stability of the dish by vigorous tugging at the table-cloth, and elicit
the reproof suggested by our reading: "You are a veritable
Sambation!"--Aristotle, Pliny, Olympia, Cyrene, "Yosippon," and
grandam--all unite to whet our appetite for African novelties.

Never has interest in the subject been more active than in our
generation, and the question, "What is the quest of the Jews in Africa?"
might be applied literally to the achievements of individual Jewish
travellers. But our inquiry shall not be into the fortunes of African
explorers of Jewish extraction; not into Emin Pasha's journey to Wadelai
and Magungo; not into the advisability of colonizing Russian Jews in
Africa; nor even into the rôle played by a part of northern Africa in
the development of Jewish literature and culture: briefly, "The Jew's
quest in Africa" is for the remnants of the ten lost tribes.

For more than eight hundred years, Israel, entrenched on his own soil,
bade defiance to every enemy. After the death of Solomon (978 B. C. E.),
the kingdom was divided, its power declining in consequence. The
world-monarchy Assyria became an adversary to be feared after Ahaz, king
of Judah, invited it to assist him against Pekah. Tiglath-Pileser
conquered a part of the kingdom of Israel, and, in about the middle of
the eighth century, carried off its subjects captive into Assyria. In
the reign of Hosea, Shalmaneser finished what his predecessor had begun
(722), utterly destroying the kingdom of the north in the two hundred
and fifty-eighth year of its independence. Before the catastrophe, a
part of its inhabitants had emigrated to Arabia, so that there were
properly speaking only nine tribes, called by their prophets, chief
among them Hosea and Amos, Ephraim from the most powerful member of the
confederacy. Another part went to Adiabene, a district on the boundary
between Assyria and Media, and thence scattered in all directions
through the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.

The prophets of the exile still hope for their return. Isaiah says:[62]
"The Lord will put forth His hand again the second time to acquire the
remnant of his people, which shall remain, from Asshur, and from Egypt,
and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and
from Chamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he will lift up an
ensign unto the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel; and
the dispersed of Judah will he collect together from the four corners of
the earth.... Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not assail
Ephraim.... And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian
sea.... And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people,
which shall remain from Asshur, like as it was to Israel on the day that
they came up out of the land of Egypt." In Jeremiah[63] we read: "Behold
I will bring them from the north country, and I will gather them from
the farthest ends of the earth ... for I am become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my first-born." Referring to this passage, the Talmud
maintains that the prophet Jeremiah led the lost tribes back to

The second Isaiah[64] says "to the prisoners, Go forth; to those that
are in darkness, Show yourselves." "Ye shall be gathered up one by
one.... And it shall come to pass on that day that the great cornet
shall be blown, and then shall come those that are lost in the land of
Asshur, and those who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and they shall
prostrate themselves before the Lord on the holy mount at Jerusalem."

And Ezekiel:[65] "Thou son of man, take unto thyself one stick of wood,
and write upon it, 'For Judah, and for the children of Israel his
companions'; then take another stick, and write upon it, 'For Joseph,
the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions':
and join them one to the other unto thee as one stick; and they shall
become one in thy hand."

These prophetical passages show that at the time of the establishment of
the second commonwealth the new homes of the ten tribes were accurately
known. After that, for more than five hundred years, history is silent
on the subject. From frequent allusions in the prophetical writings, we
may gather that efforts were made to re-unite Judah and the tribes of
Israel, and it seems highly probable that they were successful, such of
the ten tribes as had not adopted the idolatrous practices of the
heathen returning with the exiles of Judah. In the Samaritan book of
Joshua, it is put down that many out of the tribes of Israel migrated to
the north of Palestine at the time when Zerubbabel and Ezra brought the
train of Babylonian exiles to Jerusalem.

In Talmudic literature we occasionally run across a slight reference to
the ten tribes, as, for instance, Mar Sutra's statement that they
journeyed to Iberia, at that time synonymous with Spain, though the
rabbi probably had northern Africa in mind. Another passage relates that
the Babylonian scholars decided that no one could tell whether he was
descended from Reuben or from Simon, the presumption in their mind
evidently being that the ten tribes had become amalgamated with Judah
and Benjamin. If they are right, if from the time of Jeremiah to the
Syrian domination, a slow process of assimilation was incorporating the
scattered of the ten tribes into the returned remnant of Judah and
Benjamin, then the ten lost tribes have no existence, and we are dealing
with a myth. But the question is still mooted. The prophets and the
rabbis continually dwell upon the hope of reunion. The Pesikta is the
first authority to locate the exile home of the ten tribes on the
Sambation. A peculiarly interesting conversation on the future of the
ten tribes between two learned doctors of the Law, Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi
Eliezer, has been preserved. Rabbi Eliezer maintains: "The Eternal has
removed the ten tribes from their soil, and cast them forth into another
land, as irrevocably as this day goes never to return." Rabbi Akiba, the
enthusiastic nationalist, thinks very differently: "No, day sinks, and
passes into night only to rise again in renewed brilliance. So the ten
tribes, lost in darkness, will reappear in refulgent light."

It is not unlikely that Akiba's journeys, extending into Africa, and
undertaken to bring about the restoration of the independence of Judæa,
had as their subsidiary, unavowed purpose, the discovery of the ten lost
tribes. The "Dark Continent" played no unimportant rôle in Talmudic
writings, special interest attaching to their narratives of the African
adventures of Alexander the Great.[66] On one occasion, it is said, the
wise men of Africa appeared in a body before the king, and offered him
gifts of gold. He refused them, being desirous only of becoming
acquainted with the customs, statutes, and law, of the land. They,
therefore, gave him an account of a lawsuit which was exciting much
attention at the time: A man had bought a field from his friend and
neighbor, and while digging it up, had found a treasure which he refused
to keep, as he considered it the property of the original owner of the
field. The latter maintained that he had sold the land and all on and
within it, and, therefore, had no claim upon the treasure. The doctors
of the law put an end to the dispute by the decision that the son of the
one contestant was to take to wife the daughter of the other, the
treasure to be their marriage portion. Alexander marvelled greatly at
this decision. "With us," he said, "the government would have had the
litigants killed, and would have confiscated the treasure." Hereupon
one of the wise men exclaimed: "Does the sun shine in your land? Have
you dumb beasts where you live? If so, surely it is for them that God
sends down the rain, and lets the sun shine!"

In biblical literature, too, frequent mention is made of Africa. The
first explorer of the "Dark Continent" was the patriarch Abraham, who
journeyed from Ur of the Chaldees through Mesopotamia, across the
deserts and mountains of Asia, to Zoan, the metropolis of ancient Egypt.
When Moses fled from before Pharaoh, he found refuge, according to a
Talmudic legend, in the Soudan, where he became ruler of the land for
forty years, and later on, Egypt was the asylum for the greater number
of Jewish rebels and fugitives. As early as the reign of King Solomon,
ships freighted with silver sailed to Africa, and Jewish sailors in part
manned the Phoenician vessels despatched to the coasts of the Red Sea
to be loaded with the gold dust of Africa, whose usual name in Hebrew
was _Ophir_, meaning gold dust. In the Talmud Africa is generally spoken
of as "the South," owing to its lying south of Palestine. One of its
proverbs runs thus: "He who would be wise, must go to the South." The
story of Alexander the Great and the African lawyers is probably a
sample of the wisdom lauded. Nor were the doctors of the Talmud ignorant
of the physical features of the country. A scoffer asked, "Why have
Africans such broad feet." "Because they live on marshy soil, and must
go barefoot," was the ready answer given by Hillel the Great.

In the course of a discussion about the appearance of the cherubim,
Akiba pointed out that in Africa a little child is called "cherub."
Thence he inferred that the faces of cherubim resembled those of little
children. On his travels in Africa, the same rabbi was appealed to by a
mighty negro king: "See, I am black, and my wife is black. How is it
that my children are white?" Akiba asked him whether there were pictures
in his palace. "Yes," answered the monarch, "my sleeping chamber is
adorned with pictures of white men." "That solves the puzzle," said
Akiba. Evidently civilization had taken root in Africa more than
eighteen hundred years ago.

To return to the lost tribes: No land on the globe has been considered
too small, none too distant, for their asylum. The first country to
suggest itself was the one closest to Palestine, Arabia, the bridge
between Asia and Africa. In the first centuries of this era, two great
kingdoms, Yathrib and Chaibar, flourished there, and it is altogether
probable that Jews were constantly emigrating thither. As early as the
time of Alexander the Great, thousands were transported to Arabia,
particularly to Yemen, where entire tribes accepted the Jewish faith.
Recent research has made us familiar with the kingdom of Tabba (500) and
the Himyarites. Their inscriptions and the royal monuments of the old
African-Jewish population prove that Jewish immigrants must have been
numerous here, as in southern Arabia. When Mohammed unfurled the banner
of the Prophet, and began his march through the desert, his followers
counted not a few Jews. In similar numbers they spread to northern
Africa, where, towards the end of the first thousand years of the
Christian era, they boasted large communities, and played a prominent
rôle in Jewish literature, as is attested by the important contributions
to Jewish law, grammar, poetry, and medicine, by such men as Isaac
Israeli, Chananel, Jacob ben Nissim, Dunash ben Labrat, Yehuda Chayyug,
and later, Isaac Alfassi. When this north-African Jewish literature was
at its zenith, interest in the whereabouts of the ten tribes revived,
first mention of them being made in the last quarter of the ninth
century. One day there appeared in the academy at Kairwan an adventurer
calling himself Eldad, and representing himself to be a member of the
tribe of Dan. Marvellous tales he told the wondering rabbis of his own
adventures, which read like a Jewish Odyssey, and of the independent
government established by Jews in Africa, of which he claimed to be a
subject. Upon its borders, he reported, live the Levitical singers, the
descendants of Moses, who, in the days of Babylonish captivity, hung
their harps upon the willows, refusing to sing the songs of Zion upon
the soil of the stranger, and willing to sacrifice limb and life rather
than yield to the importunities of their oppressors. A cloud had
enveloped and raised them aloft, bearing them to the land of Chavila
(Ethiopia). To protect them from their enemies, their refuge in a trice
was girdled by the famous Sambation, a stream, not of waters, but of
rapidly whirling stones and sand, tumultuously flowing during six days,
and resting on the Sabbath, when the country was secured against foreign
invasion by a dense cloud of dust. With their neighbors, the sons of
Moses have intercourse only from the banks of the stream, which it is
impossible to pass.[67]

This clever fellow, who had travelled far and wide, and knew men and
customs, gave an account also of a shipwreck which he had survived, and
of his miraculous escape from cannibals, who devoured his companions,
but, finding him too lean for their taste, threw him into a dungeon.
Homer's Odyssey involuntarily suggests itself to the reader. In Spain we
lose trace of the singular adventurer, who must have produced no little
excitement in the Jewish world of his day.

Search for the ten tribes had now re-established itself as a subject of
perennial interest. In the hope of the fulfilment of the biblical
promise: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from
between his feet, until he comes to Shiloh," even the most famous Jewish
traveller of the middle ages, Benjamin of Tudela, did not disdain to
follow up the "traces of salvation." Nor has interest waned in our
generation. Whenever we hear of a Jewish community whose settlement in
its home is tinged with mystery, we straightway seek to establish its
connection with the ten lost tribes. They have been placed in Armenia,
Syria, and Mesopotamia, where the Nestorian Christians, calling
themselves sons of Israel, live to the number of two hundred thousand,
observing the dietary laws and the Sabbath, and offering up sacrifices.
They have been sought in Afghanistan, India, and Western Asia, the land
of the "Beni Israel," with Jewish features, Jewish names, such as
Solomon, David, and Benjamin, and Jewish laws, such as that of the
Levirate marriage. One chain of hills in their country bears the name
"Solomon's Mountains," another "Amram Chain," and the most warlike tribe
is called Ephraim, while the chief tenet of their law is "eye for eye,
tooth for tooth." Search for the lost has been carried still further, to
the coast of China, to the settlements of Cochin and Malabar, where
white and black Jews write their law upon scrolls of red goatskin.

Westward the quest has reached America: Manasseh ben Israel and Mordecai
Noah, the latter of whom hoped to establish a Jewish commonwealth at
Ararat near Buffalo, in the beginning of this century, believed that
they had discovered traces of the lost tribes among the Indians. The
Spaniards in Mexico identified them with the red men of Anahuac and
Yucatan, a theory suggested probably by the resemblance between the
Jewish and the Indian aquiline nose. These would-be ethnologists
obviously did not take into account the Mongolian descent of the Indian
tribes and their pre-historic migration from Asia to America across
Behring Strait.

Europe has not escaped the imputation of being the refuge of the lost
tribes. When Alfonso XI. expelled the Saracens from Toledo, the Jews of
the city asked permission to remain on the plea that they were not
descendants of the murderers of Jesus, but of those ten tribes whom
Nebuchadnezzar had sent to Tarshish as colonists. The petition was
granted, and their explanation filed among the royal archives at Toledo.

The English have taken absorbing interest in the fate of the lost
tribes, maintaining by most elaborate arguments their identity with the
inhabitants of Scandinavia and England. The English people have always
had a strong biblical bias. To this day they live in the Bible, and are
flattered by the hypothesis that the Anglo-Saxons and kindred tribes,
who crossed over to Britain under Hengist and Horsa in the fifth
century, were direct descendants of Abraham, their very name
_Sakkasuna_, that is, sons of Isaac, vouching for the truth of the
theory. The radical falseness of the etymology is patent. The gist of
their argument is that the tribe of Dan settled near the source of the
Jordan, becoming the maritime member of the Israelitish confederacy, and
calling forth from Deborah the rebuke that the sons of Dan tarried in
ships when the land stood in need of defenders. And now comes the most
extravagant of the vagaries of the etymological reasoner: he suggests a
connection between Dan, Danube, Danaï, and Danes, and so establishes the
English nation's descent from the tribes of Israel.

In the third decade of this century, when Shalmaneser's obelisk was
found with the inscription "Tribute of Jehu, son of Omri," English
investigators, seeking to connect it with the Cimbric Chersonese in
Jutland, at once took it for "Yehu ibn Umry." An Irish legend has it
that Princess Tephi came to Ireland from the East, and married King
Heremon, or Fergus, of Scotland. In her suite was the prophet Ollam
Folla, and his scribe Bereg. The princess was the daughter of Zedekiah,
the prophet none other than Jeremiah, and the scribe, as a matter of
course, Baruch. The usefulness of this fine-spun analogy becomes
apparent when we recall that Queen Victoria boasts descent from Fergus
of Scotland, and so is furnished with a line of descent which would
justify pride if it rested on fact instead of fancy. On the other hand,
imagine the dismay of Heinrich von Treitschke, Saxon _par excellence_,
were it proved that he is a son of the ten lost tribes!

"Salvation is of the Jews!" is the motto of a considerable movement
connected with the lost tribes in England and America. More than thirty
weekly and monthly journals are discharging a volley of eloquence in the
propaganda of the new doctrine, and lecturers and societies keep
interest in it alive. An apostolic believer in the Israelitish descent
of the British has recently turned up in the person of a bishop, and the
identity of the ancient and the modern people has been raised to the
dignity of a dogma of the Christian Church by a sect which, according to
a recent utterance of an Indianapolis preacher, holds the close advent
of Judgment Day. Yet the ten lost tribes may be a myth!

One thing seems certain: If scattered remnants do exist here and there,
they must be sought in Africa, in that part, moreover, most accessible
to travellers, that is to say, Abyssinia, situated in the central
portion of the great, high tableland of eastern Africa between the basin
of the Nile and the shores of the Red and the Arabian Sea--a tremendous,
rocky, fortress-like plateau, intersected closely with a network of
river-beds, the Switzerland of Africa, as many please to call it.
Alexander the Great colonized many thousands of Jews in Egypt on the
southern and northern coasts of the Mediterranean, and in south-eastern
Africa. Thence they penetrated into the interior of Abyssinia, where
they founded a mighty kingdom extending to the river Sobat. Abyssinian
legends have another version of the history of this realm. It is said
that the Queen of Sheba bore King Solomon a son, named Menelek, whom he
sent to Abyssinia with a numerous retinue to found an independent
kingdom. In point of fact, Judaism seems to have been the dominant
religion in Abyssinia until 340 of the Christian era, and the _Golah_ of
Cush (the exiles in Abyssinia) is frequently referred to in mediæval
Hebrew literature.

The Jewish kingdom flourished until a great revolution broke out in the
ninth century under Queen Judith (Sague), who conquered Axum, and
reigned over Abyssinia for forty years. The Jewish ascendancy lasted
three hundred and fifty years. Rüppell,[68] a noted African explorer,
gives the names of Jewish dynasties from the ninth to the thirteenth
century. In the wars of the latter and the following century, the Jews
lost their kingdom, keeping only the province of Semen, guarded by
inaccessible mountains. Benjamin of Tudela describes it as "a land full
of mountains, upon whose rocky summits they have perched their towns and
castles, holding independent sway to the mortal terror of their
neighbors." Combats, persecutions, and banishments lasted until the end
of the eighteenth century. Anarchy reigned, overwhelming Gideon and
Judith, the last of the Jewish dynasty, and proving equally fatal to the
Christian empire, whose Negus Theodore likewise traced his descent from
Solomon. So, after a thousand years of mutual hostility, the two ancient
native dynasties, claiming descent from David and Solomon, perished
together, but the memory of the Jewish princes has not died out in the

The Abyssinian Jews are called Falashas, the exiled.[69] They live
secluded in the province west of Takazzeh, and their number is estimated
by some travellers to be two hundred and fifty thousand, while my friend
Dr. Edward Glaser judges them to be only twenty-five thousand strong.
Into the dreary wastes inhabited by these people, German and English
missionaries have found their way to spread among them the blessings of
Christianity. The purity of these blessings may be inferred from the
names of the missionaries: Flad, Schiller, Brandeis, Stern, and

Information about the misery of the Falashas penetrated to Europe, and
induced the _Alliance Israélite Universelle_ to despatch a Jewish
messenger to Abyssinia. Choice fell upon Joseph Halévy, professor of
Oriental languages at Paris, one of the most thorough of Jewish
scholars, than whom none could be better qualified for the mission. It
was a memorable moment when Halévy, returned from his great journey to
Abyssinia, addressed the meeting of the _Alliance_ on July 30, 1868, as
follows:[70] "The ancient land of Ethiopia has at last disclosed the
secret concerning the people of whom we hitherto knew naught but the
name. In the midst of the most varied fortunes they clung to the Law
proclaimed on Sinai, and constant misery has not drained them of the
vitality which enables nations to fulfil the best requirements of modern

Adverse circumstances robbed Halévy of a great part of the material
gathered on his trip. What he rescued and published is enough to give us
a more detailed and accurate account of the Falashas than we have
hitherto possessed. He reports that they address their prayers to one
God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that they feel pride in
belonging to the old, yet ever young tribe which has exercised dominant
influence upon the fate of men; that love for the Holy Land fills their
hearts; and that the memory of Israel's glorious past is their
spiritual stay. One of the articles of their faith is the restoration of
Jewish nationality.

The Falashas speak two languages, that of the land, the Amharic, a
branch of the ancient Geez, and the Agau, a not yet classified dialect.
Their names are chiefly biblical. While in dress they are like their
neighbors, the widest difference prevails between their manners and
customs and those of the other inhabitants of the land. In the midst of
a slothful, debauched people, they are distinguished for simplicity,
diligence, and ambition. Their houses for the most part are situated
near running water; hence, their cleanly habits. At the head of each
village is a synagogue called _Mesgid_, whose Holy of holies may be
entered only by the priest on the Day of Atonement, while the people
pray in the court without. Next to the synagogue live the monks
(_Nesirim_). The priests offer up sacrifices, as in ancient times, daily
except on the Day of Atonement, the most important being that for the
repose of the dead. On the space surrounding the synagogue stand the
houses of the priests, who, in addition to their religious functions,
fill the office of teachers of the young. The Falashas are well
acquainted with the Bible, but wholly ignorant of the Hebrew language.
Their ritual has been published by Joseph Halévy, who has added a Hebrew
translation, showing its almost perfect identity with the traditional
form of Jewish prayer. About their devotional exercises Halévy says:
"From the holy precincts the prayers of the faithful rise aloft to
heaven. From midnight on, we hear the clear, rhythmical, melancholy
intonation of the precentor, the congregation responding in a monotonous
recitative. Praise of the Eternal, salvation of Israel, love of Zion,
hope of a happy future for all mankind--these form the burden of their
prayers, calling forth sighs and tears, exclamations of hope and joy.
Break of day still finds the worshippers assembled, and every evening
without fail, as the sun sinks to rest, their loud prayer (beginning
with _Abba! Abba!_ Lord! Lord!) twice wakes the echoes."[71]

Their well kept houses are presided over by their women, diligent and
modest. Polygamy is unknown. There are agriculturists and artisans,
representatives of every handicraft: smiths, tailors, potters, weavers,
and builders. Commerce is not esteemed, trading with slaves being held
in special abhorrence. Their laws permit the keeping of a slave for only
six years. If at the expiration of that period he embraces their
religion, he is free. They are brave warriors, thousands of them having
fought in the army of Negus Theodore.

It must be confessed that intellectually they are undeveloped. They have
a sort of Midrash, which apparently has been handed down from generation
to generation by word of mouth. The misfortunes they have endured have
predisposed them to mysticism, and magicians and soothsayers are
numerous and active among them. But they are eager for information.

King Theodore protected them, until missionaries poisoned his mind
against the Falashas. In 1868 he summoned a deputation of their elders,
and commanded them to accept Christianity. Upon their refusal the king
ordered his soldiers to fire on the rebels. Hundreds of heads were
raised, and the men, baring their breasts, cried out: "Strike, O our
King, but ask us not to perjure ourselves." Moved to admiration by their
intrepidity, the king loaded the deputies with presents, and dismissed
them in peace.

The missionaries--Europe does not yet know how often the path of these
pious men is marked by tears and blood--must be held guilty of many of
the bitter trials of the Falashas. In the sixties they succeeded in
exciting Messianic expectations. Suddenly, from district to district,
leapt the news that the Messiah was approaching to lead Israel back to
Palestine. A touching letter addressed by the elders of the Falashas to
the representatives of the Jewish community at Jerusalem, whom it never
reached, was found by a traveller, and deserves to be quoted:

"Has the time not yet come when we must return to the Holy Land and Holy
City? For, we are poor and miserable. We have neither judges nor
prophets. If the time has arrived, we pray you send us the glad tidings.
Great fear has fallen upon us that we may miss the opportunity to
return. Many say that the time is here for us to be reunited with you in
the Holy City, to bring sacrifices in the Temple of our Holy Land. For
the sake of the love we bear you, send us a message. Peace with you and
all dwelling in the land given by the Lord to Moses on Sinai!"

Filled with the hope of redemption, large numbers of the Falashas, at
their head venerable old men holding aloft banners and singing pious
songs, at that time left their homes. Ignorant of the road to be taken,
they set their faces eastward, hoping to reach the shores of the Red
Sea. The distance was greater than they could travel. At Axum they came
to a stop disabled, and after three years the last man had succumbed to
misery and privation.

The distress of the Falashas is extreme, but they count it sweet
alleviation if their sight is not troubled by missionaries. At a time
when the attention of the civilized world is directed to Africa,
European Jews should not be found wanting in care for their unfortunate
brethren in faith in the "Dark Continent." Abundant reasons recommend
them to our loving-kindness. They are Jews--they would suffer a thousand
deaths rather than renounce the covenant sealed on Sinai. They are
unfortunate; since the civil war, they have suffered severely under all
manner of persecution. Mysticism and ignorance prevail among them--the
whole community possesses a single copy of the Pentateuch. Finally, they
show eager desire for spiritual regeneration. When Halévy took leave of
them, a handsome youth threw himself at his feet, and said: "My lord,
take me with you to the land of the Franks. Gladly will I undergo the
hardships of the journey. I want neither silver nor gold--all I crave
is knowledge!" Halévy brought the young Falasha to Paris, and he proved
an indefatigable student, who acquired a wealth of knowledge before his
early death.

Despite the incubus of African barbarism, this little Jewish tribe on
the banks of the legend-famed Sabbath stream has survived with Jewish
vitality unbroken and purity uncontaminated. With longing the Falashas
are awaiting a future when they will be permitted to join the councils
of their Israelitish brethren in all quarters of the globe, and confess,
in unison with them and all redeemed, enlightened men, that "the Lord is
one, and His name one."

The steadfastness of their faith imposes upon us the obligation to bring
them redemption. We must unbar for them not only Jerusalem, but the
whole world, that they may recognize, as we do, the eternal truth
preached by prophet and extolled by psalmist, that on the glad day when
the unity of God is acknowledged, all the nations of the earth will form
a single confederacy, banded together for love and peace.

The open-eyed student of Jewish history, in which the Falashas form a
very small chapter, cannot fail to note with reverence the power and
sacredness of its genius. The race, the faith, the confession, all is
unparalleled. Everything about it is wonderful--from Abraham at Ur of
the Chaldees shattering his father's idols and proclaiming the unity of
God, down to Moses teaching awed mankind the highest ethical lessons
from the midst of the thunders and flames of Sinai; to the heroes and
seers, whose radiant visions are mankind's solace; to the sweet singers
of Israel extolling the virtues of men in hymns and songs; to the
Maccabean heroes struggling to throw off the Syrian yoke; to venerable
rabbis proof against the siren notes of Hellenism; to the gracious bards
and profound thinkers of Andalusia. The genius of Jewish history is
never at rest. From the edge of the wilderness it sweeps on to the lands
of civilization, where thousands of martyrs seal the confession of God's
unity with death on ruddy pyres; on through tears and blood, over
nations, across thrones, until the sun of culture, risen to its zenith,
sends its rays even into the dark Ghetto, where a drama enacts itself,
melancholy, curious, whose last act is being played under our very eyes.
Branch after branch is dropping from the timeworn, weatherbeaten trunk.
The ground is thickly strewn with dry leaves. Vitality that resisted
rain and storm seems to be blasted by sunshine. Yet we need not despair.
The genius of Jewish history has the balsam of consolation to offer. It
bids us read in the old documents of Israel's spiritual struggles, and
calls to our attention particularly a parable in the Midrash, written
when the need for its telling was as sore as to-day: A wagon loaded with
glistening axes was driven through the woods. Plaintive cries arose from
the trees: "Woe, woe, there is no escape for us, we are doomed to swift
destruction." A solitary oak towering high above the other trees stood
calm, motionless. Many a spring had decked its twigs with tender,
succulent green. At last it speaks; all are silent, and listen
respectfully: "Possess yourselves in peace. All the axes in the world
cannot harm you, if you do not provide them with handles."

So every weapon shaped to the injury of the ancient tree of Judaism will
recoil ineffectual, unless her sons and adherents themselves furnish the
haft. There is consolation in the thought. Even in sad days it feeds the
hope that the time will come, whereof the prophet spoke, when "all thy
children shall be disciples of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of
thy children."


There is a legend that a Jewish king once reigned in Poland. It never
occurs to my mind without at the same time conjuring before me two
figures. The one is that charming creation of Ghetto fancy, old Malkoh
"with the stout heart," in Aaron Bernstein's _Mendel Gibbor_, who
introduces herself with the proud boast: _Wir sennen von königlichein
Geblüt_ ("We are of royal descent"). The other is a less ideal, less
attractive Jew, whom I overheard in the Casimir, the Jewish quarter at
Cracow, in altercation with another Jew. The matter seemed of vital
interest to the disputants. The one affirmed, the other denied as
vigorously, and finally silenced his opponent with the contemptuous
argument: "Well, and if it comes about, it will last just as long as
Saul Wahl's _Malchus_ (reign)."

Legend has always been the companion of history. For each age it creates
a typical figure, in which are fixed, for the information of future
times, the fleeting, subtle emotions as well as the permanent effects
produced by historical events, and this constitutes the value of
legendary lore in tracing the development and characteristics of a
people. At the same time its magic charms connect the links in the chain
of generations.

The legend about Saul Wahl to be known and appreciated must first be
told as it exists, then traced through its successive stages, its
historical kernel disentangled from the accretions of legend-makers,
Saul, the man of flesh and blood discovered, and the ethical lessons it
has to teach derived.

In 1734, more than a century after Saul's supposed reign, his
great-grandson, Rabbi Pinchas, resident successively in Leitnik,
Boskowitz, Wallerstein, Schwarzburg, Marktbreit, and Anspach, related
the story of his ancestor: "Rabbi Samuel Judah's son was the great Saul
Wahl of blessed memory. All learned in such matters well know that his
surname _Wahl_ (choice) was given him, because he was chosen king in
Poland by the unanimous vote of the noble electors of the land. I was
told by my father and teacher, of blessed memory, that the choice fell
upon him in this wise: Saul Wahl was a favorite with Polish noblemen,
and highly esteemed for his shrewdness and ability. The king of Poland
had died. Now it was customary for the great nobles of Poland to
assemble for the election of a new king on a given day, on which it was
imperative that a valid decision be reached. When the day came, many
opinions were found to prevail among the electors, which could not be
reconciled. Evening fell, and they realized the impossibility of
electing a king on the legally appointed day. Loth to transgress their
own rule, the nobles agreed to make Saul Wahl king for the rest of that
day and the following night, and thus conform with the letter of the
law. And so it was. Forthwith all paid him homage, crying out in their
own language: 'Long live our lord and king!' Saul, loaded with royal
honors, reigned that night. I heard from my father that they gave into
his keeping all the documents in the royal archives, to which every king
may add what commands he lists, and Wahl inscribed many laws and decrees
of import favorable to Jews. My father knew some of them; one was that
the murderer of a Jew, like the murderer of a nobleman, was to suffer
the death penalty. Life was to be taken for life, and no ransom
allowed--a law which, in Poland, had applied only to the case of
Christians of the nobility. The next day the electors came to an
agreement, and chose a ruler for Poland.--That this matter may be
remembered, I will not fail to set forth the reasons why Saul Wahl
enjoyed such respect with the noblemen of Poland, which is the more
remarkable as his father, Rabbi Samuel Judah, was rabbi first at Padua
and then at Venice, and so lived in Italy. My father told me how it came
about. In his youth, during his father's lifetime, Saul Wahl conceived a
desire to travel in foreign parts. He left his paternal home in Padua,
and journeying from town to town, from land to land, he at last reached
Brzesc in Lithuania. There he married the daughter of David Drucker, and
his pittance being small, he led but a wretched life.

It happened at this time that the famous, wealthy prince, Radziwill, the
favorite of the king, undertook a great journey to see divers lands, as
is the custom of noblemen. They travel far and wide to become
acquainted with different fashions and governments. So this prince
journeyed in great state from land to land, until his purse was empty.
He knew not what to do, for he would not discover his plight to the
nobles of the land in which he happened to be; indeed, he did not care
to let them know who he was. Now, he chanced to be in Padua, and he
resolved to unbosom himself to the rabbi, tell him that he was a great
noble of the Polish land, and borrow somewhat to relieve his pressing
need. Such is the manner of Polish noblemen. They permit shrewd and
sensible Jews to become intimate with them that they may borrow from
them, rabbis being held in particularly high esteem and favor by the
princes and lords of Poland. So it came about that the aforesaid Prince
Radziwill sought out Rabbi Samuel Judah, and revealed his identity, at
the same time discovering to him his urgent need of money. The rabbi
lent him the sum asked for, and the prince said, 'How can I recompense
you, returning good for good?' The rabbi answered, 'First I beg that you
deal kindly with the Jews under your power, and then that you do the
good you would show me to my son Saul, who lives in Brzesc.' The prince
took down the name and place of abode of the rabbi's son, and having
arrived at his home, sent for him. He appeared before the prince, who
found him so wise and clever that he in every possible way attached the
Jew to his own person, gave him many proofs of his favor, sounded his
praises in the ears of all the nobles, and raised him to a high
position. He was so great a favorite with all the lords that on the day
when a king was to be elected, and the peers could not agree, rather
than have the day pass without the appointment of a ruler, they
unanimously resolved to invest Saul with royal power, calling him Saul
Wahl to indicate that he had been _chosen_ king.--All this my father
told me, and such new matter as I gathered from another source, I will
not fail to set down in another chapter."--

"This furthermore I heard from my pious father, when, in 1734, he lay
sick in Fürth, where there are many physicians. I went from Marktbreit
to Fürth, and stayed with him for three weeks. When I was alone with
him, he dictated his will to me, and then said in a low voice: 'This I
will tell you that you may know what happened to our ancestor Saul Wahl:
After the nobles had elected a king for Poland, and our ancestor had
become great in the eyes of the Jews, he unfortunately grew haughty. He
had a beautiful daughter, Händele, famed throughout Poland for her wit
as well as her beauty. Many sought her in marriage, and among her
suitors was a young Talmudist, the son of one of the most celebrated
rabbis. (My father did not mention the name, either because he did not
know, or because he did not wish to say it, or mayhap he had forgotten
it.) The great rabbi himself came to Brzesc with his learned son to urge
the suit. They both lodged with the chief elder of the congregation.
But the pride of our ancestor was overweening. In his heart he
considered himself the greatest, and his daughter the best, in the land,
and he said that his daughter must marry one more exalted than this
suitor. Thus he showed his scorn for a sage revered in Israel and for
his son, and these two were sore offended at the discourtesy. The Jewish
community had long been murmuring against our ancestor Saul Wahl, and it
was resolved to make amends for his unkindness. One of the most
respected men in the town gave his daughter to the young Talmudist for
wife, and from that day our ancestor had enemies among his people, who
constantly sought to do him harm. It happened at that time that the wife
of the king whom the nobles had chosen died, and several Jews of Brzesc,
in favor with the powerful of the land, in order to administer
punishment to Saul Wahl, went about among the nobles praising his
daughter for her exceeding beauty and cleverness, and calling her the
worthiest to wear the queenly crown. One of the princes being kindly
disposed to Saul Wahl betrayed their evil plot, and it was

Rabbi Pinchas' ingenuous narrative, charming in its simple directness,
closes wistfully: "He who has not seen that whole generation, Saul Wahl
amid his sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons, has failed to see the union
of the Law with mundane glory, of wealth with honor and princely
rectitude. May the Lord God bless us by permitting us to rejoice thus in
our children and children's children!"

Other rabbis of that time have left us versions of the Saul Wahl legend.
They report that he founded a _Beth ha-Midrash_ (college for Jewish
studies) and a little synagogue, leaving them, together with numerous
bequests, to the community in which he had lived, with the condition
that the presidency of the college be made hereditary in his family.
Some add that they had seen in Brzesc a gold chain belonging to him, his
coat of arms emblazoned with the lion of Judah, and a stone tablet on
which an account of his meritorious deeds was graven. Chain, escutcheon,
and stone have disappeared, and been forgotten, the legend alone

* * *

Now, what has history to say?

Unquestionably, an historical kernel lies hidden in the legend. Neither
the Polish chronicles of those days nor Jewish works mention a Jewish
king of Poland; but from certain occurrences, hints can be gleaned
sufficient to enable us to establish the underlying truth. When Stephen
Báthori died, Poland was hard pressed. On all sides arose pretenders to
the throne. The most powerful aspirant was Archduke Maximilian of
Austria, who depended on his gold and Poland's well-known sympathy for
Austria to gain him the throne. Next came the Duke of Ferrara backed by
a great army and the favor of the Czar, and then, headed by the
crown-prince of Sweden, a crowd of less powerful claimants, so motley
that a Polish nobleman justly exclaimed: "If you think any one will do
to wear Poland's crown upon his pate, I'll set up my coachman as king!"
Great Poland espoused the cause of Sweden, Little Poland supported
Austria, and the Lithuanians furthered the wishes of the Czar. In
reality, however, the election of the king was the occasion for bringing
to a crisis the conflict between the two dominant families of Zamoiski
and Zborowski.

The election was to take place on August 18, 1587. The electors, armed
to the teeth, appeared on the place designated for the election, a
fortified camp on the Vistula, on the other side of which stood the
deputies of the claimants. Night was approaching, and the possibility of
reconciling the parties seemed as remote as ever. Christopher Radziwill,
the "castellan" of the realm, endeavoring to make peace between the
factions, stealthily crept from camp to camp, but evening deepened into
night, and still the famous election cry, "_Zgoda!_" (Agreed!), was not

According to the legend, this is the night of Saul Wahl's brief royalty.
It is said that he was an agent employed by Prince Radziwill, and when
the electors could not be induced to come to an agreement, it occurred
to the prince to propose Saul as a compromise-king. With shouts of "Long
live King Saul!" the proposal was greeted by both factions, and this is
the nucleus of the legend, which with remarkable tenacity has
perpetuated itself down to our generation. For the historical truth of
the episode we have three witnesses. The chief is Prince Nicholas
Christopher of Radziwill, duke of Olyka and Nieswiesz, the son of the
founder of this still flourishing line of princes. His father had left
the Catholic church, and joined the Protestants, but he himself returned
to Catholicism, and won fame by his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, described
in both Polish and Latin in the work _Peregrinatio Hierosolymitana_.
Besides, he offered 5000 ducats for the purchase of extant copies of the
Protestant "Radziwill Bible," published by his father, intending to have
them destroyed. On his return journey from the Holy Land he was attacked
at Pescara by robbers, and at Ancona on a Palm Sunday, according to his
own account, he found himself destitute of means. He applied to the
papal governor, but his story met with incredulity. Then he appealed to
a Jewish merchant, offering him, as a pawn, a gold box made of a piece
of the holy cross obtained in Palestine, encircled with diamonds, and
bearing on its top the _Agnus dei_. The Jew advanced one hundred crowns,
which sufficed exactly to pay his lodging and attendants. Needy as
before, he again turned to the Jew, who gave him another hundred crowns,
this time without exacting a pledge, a glance at his papal passport
having convinced him of the prince's identity.[73]

This is Radziwill's account in his itinerary. As far as it goes, it
bears striking similarity to the narrative of Rabbi Pinchas of Anspach,
and leads to the certain conclusion that the legend rests upon an
historical substratum. A critic has justly remarked that the most vivid
fancy could not, one hundred and thirty-one years after their
occurrence, invent, in Anspach, the tale of a Polish magnate's
adventures in Italy. Again, it is highly improbable that Saul Wahl's
great-grandson read Prince Radziwill's Latin book, detailing his
experiences to his contemporaries.

There are other witnesses to plead for the essential truth of our
legend. The rabbis mentioned before have given accounts of Saul's
position, of his power, and the splendor of his life. Negative signs, it
is true, exist, arguing against the historical value of the legend.
Polish history has not a word to say about the ephemeral king. In fact,
there was no day fixed for the session of the electoral diet. Moreover,
critics might adduce against the probability of its correctness the
humble station of the Jews, and the low esteem in which the Radziwills
were then held by the Polish nobility. But it is questionable whether
these arguments are sufficiently convincing to strip the Saul Wahl
legend of all semblance of truth. Polish historians are hardly fair in
ignoring the story. Though it turn out to have been a wild prank, it has
some historical justification. Such practical jokes are not unusual in
Polish history. Readers of that history will recall the _Respublika
Babinska_, that society of practical jokers which drew up royal
charters, and issued patents of nobility. A Polish nobleman had founded
the society in the sixteenth century, its membership being open only to
those distinguished as wits. It perpetrated the oddest political jokes,
appointing spendthrifts as overseers of estates, and the most
quarrelsome as justices of the peace. With such proclivities, Polish
factions, at loggerheads with each other, can easily be imagined uniting
to crown a Jew, the most harmless available substitute for a real king.

Our last and strongest witness--one compelling the respectful attention
of the severest court and the most incisive attorney general--is the
Russian professor Berschadzky, the author of an invaluable work on the
history of the Jews in Lithuania. He vouches, not indeed for the
authenticity of the events related by Rabbi Pinchas, but for the reality
of Saul Wahl himself. From out of the Russian archives he has been
resurrected by Professor Berschadzky, the first to establish that Saul
was a man of flesh and blood.[74] He reproduces documents of
incontestable authority, which report that Stephen Báthori, in the year
1578, the third of his reign, awarded the salt monopoly for the whole of
Poland to Saul Juditsch, that is, Saul the Jew. Later, upon the payment
of a high security, the same Saul the Jew became farmer of the imposts.
In 1580, his name, together with the names of the heads of the Jewish
community of Brzesc, figures in a lawsuit instituted to establish the
claim of the Jews upon the fourth part of all municipal revenues. He
rests the claim on a statute of Grandduke Withold, and the verdict was
favorable to his side. This was the time of the election of Báthori's
successor, Sigismund III., and after his accession to the throne, Saul
Juditsch again appears on the scene. On February 11, 1588, the king
issued the following notice: "Some of our councillors have recommended
to our attention the punctilious business management of Saul Juditsch,
of the town of Brzesc, who, on many occasions during the reigns of our
predecessors, served the crown by his wide experience in matters
pertaining to duties, taxes, and divers revenues, and advanced the
financial prosperity of the realm by his conscientious efforts." Saul
was now entrusted, for a period of ten years, with the collection of
taxes on bridges, flour, and brandies, paying 150,000 gold florins for
the privilege. A year later he was honored with the title _sluga
królewski_, "royal official," a high rank in the Poland of the day, as
can be learned from the royal decree conferring it: "We, King of Poland,
having convinced ourself of the rare zeal and distinguished ability of
Saul Juditsch, do herewith grant him a place among our royal officials,
and that he may be assured of our favor for him we exempt him and his
lands for the rest of his life from subordination to the jurisdiction of
any 'castellan,' or any municipal court, or of any court in our land, of
whatever kind or rank it may be; so that if he be summoned before the
court of any judge or district, in any matter whatsoever, be it great or
small, criminal or civil, he is not obliged to appear and defend
himself. His goods may not be distrained, his estates not used as
security, and he himself can neither be arrested, nor kept a prisoner.
His refusal to appear before a judge or to give bail shall in no wise be
punishable; he is amenable to no law covering such cases. If a charge be
brought against him, his accusers, be they our subjects or aliens, of
any rank or calling whatsoever, must appeal to ourself, the king, and
Saul Juditsch shall be in honor bound to appear before us and defend

This royal patent was communicated to all the princes, lords,
_voivodes_, marshals, "castellans," starosts, and lower officials, in
town and country, and to the governors and courts of Poland. Saul
Juditsch's name continues to appear in the state documents. In 1593, he
pleads for the Jews of Brzesc, who desire to have their own
jurisdiction. In consequence of his intercession, Sigismund III. forbids
the _voivodes_ (mayors) and their proxies to interfere in the quarrels
of the Jews, of whatever kind they may be. The last mention of Saul
Juditsch's name occurs in the records of 1596, when, in conjunction with
his Christian townsmen, he pleads for the renewal of an old franchise,
granted by Grandduke Withold, exempting imported goods from duty.

Saul Wahl probably lived to the age of eighty, dying in the year 1622.
The research of the historian has established his existence beyond a
peradventure. He has proved that there was an individual by the name of
Saul Wahl, and that is a noteworthy fact in the history of Poland and in
that of the Jews in the middle ages.

* * *

After history, criticism has a word to say. A legend, as a rule, rests
on analogy, on remarkable deeds, on notable events, on extraordinary
historical phenomena. In the case of the legend under consideration, all
these originating causes are combined. Since the time of Sigismund I.,
the position of the Jews in Lithuania and Poland had been favorable. It
is regarded as their golden period in Poland. In general, Polish Jews
had always been more favorably situated than their brethren in faith in
other countries. At the very beginning of Polish history, a legend,
similar to that attached to Saul Wahl's name, sprang up. After the death
of Popiel, an assembly met at Kruszwica to fill the vacant throne. No
agreement could be reached, and the resolution was adopted to hail as
king the first person to enter the town the next morning. The guard
stationed at the gate accordingly brought before the assembly the poor
Jew Abraham, with the surname Powdermaker (_Prochownik_), which he had
received from his business, the importing of powder. He was welcomed
with loud rejoicing, and appointed king. But he refused the crown, and
pressed to accept it, finally asked for a night's delay to consider the
proposal. Two days and two nights passed, still the Jew did not come
forth from his room. The Poles were very much excited, and a peasant,
Piast by name, raising his voice, cried out: "No, no, this will not do!
The land cannot be without a head, and as Abraham does not come out, I
will bring him out." Swinging his axe, he rushed into the house, and
led the trembling Jew before the crowd. With ready wit, Abraham said,
"Poles, here you see the peasant Piast, he is the one to be your king.
He is sensible, for he recognized that a land may not be without a king.
Besides, he is courageous; he disregarded my command not to enter my
house. Crown him, and you will have reason to be grateful to God and His
servant Abraham!" So Piast was proclaimed king, and he became the
ancestor of a great dynasty.

It is difficult to discover how much of truth is contained in this
legend of the tenth century. That it in some remote way rests upon
historical facts is attested by the existence of Polish coins bearing
the inscriptions: "Abraham _Dux_" and "_Zevach_ Abraham" ("Abraham the
Prince" and "Abraham's Sacrifice"). Casimir the Great, whose _liaison_
with the Jewess Esterka has been shown by modern historians to be a pure
fabrication, confirmed the charter of liberties (_privilegium
libertatis_) held by the Jews of Poland from early times, and under
Sigismund I. they prospered, materially and intellectually, as never
before. Learning flourished among them, especially the study of the
Talmud being promoted by three great men, Solomon Shachna, Solomon
Luria, and Moses Isserles.

Henry of Anjou, the first king elected by the Diet (1573), owed his
election to Solomon Ashkenazi, a Jewish physician and diplomat, who
ventured to remind the king of his services: "To me more than to any one
else does your Majesty owe your election. Whatever was done here at the
Porte, I did, although, I believe, M. d'Acqs takes all credit unto
himself." This same diplomat, together with the Jewish prince Joseph
Nasi of Naxos, was chiefly instrumental in bringing about the election
of Stephen Báthori. Simon Günsburg, the head of the Jewish community of
Posen, had a voice in the king's council, and Bona Sforza, the Italian
princess on the Polish throne, was in the habit of consulting with
clever Jews. The papal legate Commendoni speaks in a vexed tone, yet
admiringly, of the brilliant position of Polish Jews, of their extensive
cattle-breeding and agricultural interests, of their superiority to
Christians as artisans, of their commercial enterprise, leading them as
far as Dantzic in the north and Constantinople in the south, and of
their possession of that sovereign means which overcomes ruler, starost,
and legate alike.[75]

These are the circumstances to be borne in mind in examining the
authenticity of the legend about the king of a night. As early as the
beginning of his century, recent historians inform us, three Jews,
Abraham, Michael, and Isaac Josefowicz, rose to high positions in
Lithuania. Abraham was made chief rabbi of Lithuania, his residence
being fixed at Ostrog; Isaac became starost of the cities of Smolensk
and Minsk (1506), and four years later, he was invested with the
governorship of Lithuania. He always kept up his connection with his
brothers, protected his co-religionists, and appointed Michael chief
elder of the Lithuanian Jews. On taking the oath of allegiance to Albert
of Prussia, he was raised to the rank of a nobleman. A Jew of the
sixteenth century a nobleman! Surely, this fact is sufficiently
startling to serve as the background of a legend. We have every
circumstance necessary: An analogous legend in the early history of
Poland, the favored condition of the Jews, the well-attested reality of
Saul Juditsch, and an extraordinary event, the ennobling of a Jew. Saul
Wahl probably did not reign--not even for a single night--but he
certainly was attached to the person of the king, and later, ignorant of
grades of officials, the Jews were prone to magnify his position.
Indeed, the abject misery of their condition in the seventeenth century
seems better calculated to explain the legend than their prosperity in
the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. Bogdan Chmielnicki's campaign
against the rebellious Cossacks wrought havoc among the Jews. From the
southern part of the Ukraine to Lemberg, the road was strewn with the
corpses of a hundred thousand Jews. The sad memory of a happy past is
the fertile soil in which legends thrive. It is altogether likely that
at this time of degradation the memory of Saul Wahl, redeemer and hero,
was first celebrated, and the report of his coat of arms emblazoned with
a lion clutching a scroll of the Law, and crowning an eagle, of his
golden chain, of his privileges, and all his memorials, spread from
house to house.

Parallel cases of legend-construction readily suggest themselves. In
our own time, in the glare of nineteenth century civilization, legends
originate in the same way. Here is a case in point: In 1875, the
Anthropological Society of Western Prussia instituted a series of
investigations, in the course of which the complexion and the color of
the hair and eyes of the children at the public schools were to be
noted, in order to determine the prevalence of certain racial traits.
The most extravagant rumors circulated in the districts of Dantzic,
Thorn, Kulm, all the way to Posen. Parents, seized by unreasoning
terror, sent their children, in great numbers, to Russia. One rumor said
that the king of Prussia had lost one thousand blonde children to the
sultan over a game of cards; another, that the Russian government had
sold sixty thousand pretty girls to an Arab prince, and to save them
from the sad fate conjectured to be in store for them, all the pretty
girls at Dubna were straightway married off.--Similarly, primitive man,
to satisfy his intellectual cravings, explained the phenomena of the
heavens, the earth, and the waters by legends and myths, the germs of
polytheistic nature religions. In our case, the tissue of facts is
different, the process the same.

But legends express the idealism of the masses; they are the highest
manifestations of spiritual life. The thinker's flights beyond the
confines of reality, the inventor's gift to join old materials in new
combinations, the artist's creative impulse, the poet's inspiration, the
seer's prophetic vision--every emanation from man's ideal nature clothes
itself with sinews, flesh, and skin, and lives in a people's legends,
the repositories of its art, poetry, science, and ethics.

Legends moreover are characteristic of a people's culture. As a child
delights in iridescent soap-bubbles, so a nation revels in
reminiscences. Though poetry lend words, painting her tints,
architecture a rule, sculpture a chisel, music her tones, the legend
itself is dead, and only a thorough understanding of national traits
enables one to recognize its ethical bearings. From this point of view,
the legend of the Polish king of a night is an important historical
argument, testifying to the satisfactory condition of the Jews of Poland
in the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. The simile that compares
nations, on the eve of a great revolution, to a seething crater, is true
despite its triteness, and if to any nation, is applicable to the Poland
of before and after that momentous session of the Diet. Egotism, greed,
ambition, vindictiveness, and envy added fuel to fire, and hastened
destruction. Jealousy had planted discord between two families, dividing
the state into hostile, embittered factions. Morality was undermined,
law trodden under foot, duty neglected, justice violated, the promptings
of good sense disregarded. So it came about that the land was flooded by
ruin as by a mighty stream, which, a tiny spring at first, gathers
strength and volume from its tributaries, and overflowing its bounds,
rushes over blooming meadows, fields, and pastures, drawing into its
destructive depths the peasant's every joy and hope. That is the soil
from which a legend like ours sprouts and grows.

This legend distinctly conveys an ethical lesson. The persecutions of
the Jews, their ceaseless wanderings from town to town, from country to
country, from continent to continent, have lasted two thousand years,
and how many dropped by the wayside! Yet they never parted with the
triple crown placed upon their heads by an ancient sage: the crown of
royalty, the crown of the Law, and the crown of a good name. Learning
and fair fame were indisputably theirs: therefore, the first, the royal
crown, never seemed more resplendent than when worn in exile. The glory
of a Jewish king of the exile seemed to herald the realization of the
Messianic ideal. So it happens that many a family in Poland, England,
and Germany, still cherishes the memory of Rabbi Saul the king, and that
"Malkohs" everywhere still boast of royal ancestry. Rabbis, learned in
the Law, were his descendants, and men of secular fame, Gabriel Riesser
among them, proudly mention their connection, however distant, with Saul
Wahl. The memory of his deeds perpetuates itself in respectable Jewish
homes, where grandams, on quiet Sabbath afternoons, tell of them, as
they show in confirmation the seal on coins to an awe-struck progeny.

Three crowns Israel bore upon his head. If the crown of royalty is
legendary, then the more emphatically have the other two an historical
and ethical value. The crown of royalty has slipped from us, but the
crown of a good name and especially the crown of the Law are ours to
keep and bequeath to our children and our children's children unto the
latest generation.


On an October day in 1743, in the third year of the reign of Frederick
the Great, a delicate lad of about fourteen begged admittance at the
Rosenthal gate of Berlin, the only gate by which non-resident Jews were
allowed to enter the capital. To the clerk's question about his business
in the city, he briefly replied: "Study" (_Lernen_). The boy was Moses
Mendelssohn, and he entered the city poor and friendless, knowing in all
Berlin but one person, his former teacher Rabbi David Fränkel. About
twenty years later, the Royal Academy of Sciences awarded him the first
prize for his essay on the question: "Are metaphysical truths
susceptible of mathematical demonstration?" After another period of
twenty years, Mendelssohn was dead, and his memory was celebrated as
that of a "sage like Socrates, the greatest philosophers of the day
exclaiming, 'There is but one Mendelssohn!'"--

The Jewish Renaissance of a little more than a century ago presents the
whole historic course of Judaism. Never had the condition of the Jews
been more abject than at the time of Mendelssohn's appearance on the
scene. It must be remembered that for Jews the middle ages lasted three
hundred years after all other nations had begun to enjoy the blessings
of the modern era. Veritable slaves, degenerate in language and habits,
purchasing the right to live by a tax (_Leibzoll_), in many cities still
wearing a yellow badge, timid, embittered, pale, eloquently silent, the
Jews herded in their Ghetto with its single Jew-gate--they, the
descendants of the Maccabees, the brethren in faith of proud Spanish
grandees, of Andalusian poets and philosophers. The congregations were
poor; immigrant Poles filled the offices of rabbis and teachers, and
occupied themselves solely with the discussion of recondite problems.
The evil nonsense of the Kabbalists was actively propagated by the
Sabbatians, and on the other hand the mystical _Chassidim_ were
beginning to perform their witches' dance. The language commonly used
was the _Judendeutsch_ (the Jewish German jargon) which, stripped of its
former literary dignity, was not much better than thieves' slang. Of
such pitiful elements the life of the Jews was made up during the first
half of the eighteenth century.

Suddenly there burst upon them the great, overwhelming Renaissance! It
seemed as though Ezekiel's vision were about to be fulfilled:[76] "The
hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the
Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones...
there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very
dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I
answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon
these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the
Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause
breath to enter into you, and ye shall live ... and ye shall know that I
am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied,
there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together,
bone to his bone ... the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the
skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he
unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the
wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and
breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he
commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood
up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son
of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel."

Is this not a description of Israel's history in modern days? Old
Judaism, seeing the marvels of the Renaissance, might well exclaim: "Who
hath begotten me these?" and many a pious mind must have reverted to the
ancient words of consolation: "I remember unto thee the kindness of thy
youth, the love of thy espousals, thy going after me in the wilderness,
through a land that is not sown."

In the face of so radical a transformation, Herder, poet and thinker,
reached the natural conclusion that "such occurrences, such a history
with all its concomitant and dependent circumstances, in brief, such a
nation cannot be a lying invention. Its development is the greatest poem
of all times, and still unfinished, will probably continue until every
possibility hidden in the soul life of humanity shall have obtained

An unparalleled revival had begun; and in Germany, in which it made
itself felt as an effect of the French Revolution, it is coupled first
and foremost with the name of Moses Mendelssohn.

Society as conceived in these modern days is based upon men's relations
to their families, their disciples, and their friends. They are the
three elements that determine a man's usefulness as a social factor. Our
first interest, then, is to know Mendelssohn in his family.[78] Many
years were destined to elapse, after his coming to Berlin, before he was
to win a position of dignity. When, a single ducat in his pocket, he
first reached Berlin, the reader remembers, he was a pale-faced, fragile
boy. A contemporary of his relates: "In 1746 I came to Berlin, a
penniless little chap of fourteen, and in the Jewish school I met Moses
Mendelssohn. He grew fond of me, taught me reading and writing, and
often shared his scanty meals with me. I tried to show my gratitude by
doing him any small service in my power. Once he told me to fetch him a
German book from some place or other. Returning with the book in hand, I
was met by one of the trustees of the Jewish poor fund. He accosted me,
not very gently, with, 'What have you there? I venture to say a German
book!' Snatching it from me, and dragging me to the magistrate's, he
gave orders to expel me from the city. Mendelssohn, learning my fate,
did everything possible to bring about my return; but his efforts were
of no avail." It is interesting to know that it was the grandfather of
Herr von Bleichröder who had to submit to so relentless a fate.

German language and German writing Mendelssohn acquired by his unaided
efforts. With the desultory assistance of a Dr. Kisch, a Jewish
physician, he learnt Latin from a book picked up at a second-hand book
stall. General culture was at that time an unknown quantity in the
possibilities of Berlin Jewish life. The schoolmasters, who were not
permitted to stay in the city more than three years, were for the most
part Poles. One Pole, Israel Moses, a fine thinker and mathematician,
banished from his native town, Samosz, on account of his devotion to
secular studies, lived with Aaron Gumpertz, the only one of the famous
family of court-Jews who had elected a better lot. From the latter,
Mendelssohn imbibed a taste for the sciences, and to him he owed some
direction in his studies; while in mathematics he was instructed by
Israel Samosz, at the time when the latter, busily engaged with his
great commentary on Yehuda Halevi's _Al-Chazari_, was living at the
house of the Itzig family, on the _Burgstrasse_, on the very spot where
the talented architect Hitzig, the grandson of Mendelssohn's
contemporary, built the magnificent Exchange. To enable himself to buy
books, Mendelssohn had to deny himself food. As soon as he had hoarded a
few _groschen_, he stealthily slunk to a dealer in second-hand books. In
this way he managed to possess himself of a Latin grammar and a wretched
lexicon. Difficulties did not exist for him; they vanished before his
industry and perseverance. In a short time he knew far more than
Gumpertz himself, who has become famous through his entreaty to Magister
Gottsched at Leipsic, whilom absolute monarch in German literature: "I
would most respectfully supplicate that it may please your worshipful
Highness to permit me to repair to Leipsic to pasture on the meadows of
learning under your Excellency's protecting wing."

After seven years of struggle and privation, Moses Mendelssohn became
tutor at the house of Isaac Bernhard, a silk manufacturer, and now began
better times. In spite of faithful performance of duties, he found
leisure to acquire a considerable stock of learning. He began to
frequent social gatherings, his friend Dr. Gumpertz introducing him to
people of culture, among others to some philosophers, members of the
Berlin Academy. What smoothed the way for him more than his sterling
character and his fine intellect was his good chess-playing. The Jews
have always been celebrated as chess-players, and since the twelfth
century a literature in Hebrew prose and verse has grown up about the
game. Mendelssohn in this respect, too, was the heir of the peculiar
gifts of his race.

In a little room two flights up in a house next to the Nicolai
churchyard lived one of the acquaintances made by Mendelssohn through
Dr. Gumpertz, a young newspaper writer--Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.
Lessing was at once strongly attracted by the young man's keen,
untrammelled mind. He foresaw that Mendelssohn would "become an honor to
his nation, provided his fellow-believers permit him to reach his
intellectual maturity. His honesty and his philosophic bent make me see
in him a second Spinoza, equal to the first in all but his errors."[79]
Through Lessing, Mendelssohn formed the acquaintance of Nicolai, and as
they were close neighbors, their friendship developed into intimacy.
Nicolai induced him to take up the study of Greek, and old Rector Damm
taught him.

At this time (1755), the first coffee-house for the use of an
association of about one hundred members, chiefly philosophers,
mathematicians, physicians, and booksellers, was opened in Berlin.
Mendelssohn, too, was admitted, making his true entrance into society,
and forming many attachments. One evening it was proposed at the club
that each of the members describe his own defects in verse; whereupon
Mendelssohn, who stuttered and was slightly hunchbacked, wrote:

    "Great you call Demosthenes,
    Stutt'ring orator of Greece;
    Hunchbacked Æsop you deem wise;--
    In your circle, I surmise,
    I am doubly wise and great.
    What in each was separate
    You in me united find,--
    Hump and heavy tongue combined."

Meanwhile his worldly affairs prospered; he had become bookkeeper in
Bernhard's business. His biographer Kayserling tells us that at this
period he was in a fair way to develop into "a true _bel esprit_"; he
took lessons on the piano, went to the theatre and to concerts, and
wrote poems. During the winter he was at his desk at the office from
eight in the morning until nine in the evening. In the summer of 1756,
his work was lightened; after two in the afternoon he was his own
master. The following year finds him comfortably established in a house
of his own with a garden, in which he could be found every evening at
six o'clock, Lessing and Nicolai often joining him. Besides, he had laid
by a little sum, which enabled him to help his friends, especially
Lessing, out of financial embarrassments. Business cares did, indeed,
bear heavily upon him, and his complaints are truly touching: "Like a
beast of burden laden down, I crawl through life, self-love
unfortunately whispering into my ear that nature had perhaps mapped out
a poet's career for me. But what can we do, my friends? Let us pity one
another, and be content. So long as love for science is not stifled
within us, we may hope on." Surely, his love for learning never
diminished. On the contrary, his zeal for philosophic studies grew, and
with it his reputation in the learned world of Berlin. The Jewish
thinker finally attracted the notice of Frederick the Great, whose poems
he had had the temerity to criticise adversely in the "Letters on
Literature" (_Litteraturbriefe_). He says in that famous criticism:[80]
"What a loss it has been for our mother-tongue that this prince has
given more time and effort to the French language. We should otherwise
possess a treasure which would arouse the envy of our neighbors." A
certain Herr von Justi, who had also incurred the unfavorable notice of
the _Litteraturbriefe_, used this review to revenge himself on
Mendelssohn. He wrote to the Prussian state-councillor: "A miserable
publication appears in Berlin, letters on recent literature, in which a
Jew, criticising court-preacher Cramer, uses irreverent language in
reference to Christianity, and in a bold review of _Poésies diverses_,
fails to pay the proper respect to his Majesty's sacred person." Soon an
interdict was issued against the _Litteraturbriefe_, and Mendelssohn was
summoned to appear before the attorney general Von Uhden. Nicolai has
given us an account of the interview between the high and mighty officer
of the state and the poor Jewish philosopher:

Attorney General: "Look here! How can you venture to write against

Mendelssohn: "When I bowl with Christians, I throw down all the pins
whenever I can."

Attorney General: "Do you dare mock at me? Do you know to whom you are

Mendelssohn: "Oh yes. I am in the presence of privy councillor and
attorney general Von Uhden, a just man."

Attorney General: "I ask again: What right have you to write against a
Christian, a court-preacher at that?"

Mendelssohn: "And I must repeat, truly without mockery, that when I play
at nine-pins with a Christian, even though he be a court-preacher, I
throw down all the pins, if I can. Bowling is a recreation for my body,
writing for my mind. Writers do as well as they can."

In this strain the conversation continued for some time. Another version
of the affair is that Mendelssohn was ordered to appear before the king
at Sanssouci on a certain Saturday. When he presented himself at the
gate of the palace, the officer in charge asked him how he happened to
have been honored with an invitation to come to court. Mendelssohn said:
"Oh, I am a juggler!" In point of fact, Frederick read the objectionable
review some time later, Venino translating it into French for him. It
was probably in consequence of this vexatious occurrence that
Mendelssohn made application for the privilege to be considered a
_Schutzjude_, that is, a Jew with rights of residence. The Marquis
d'Argens who lived with the king at Potsdam in the capacity of his
Majesty's philosopher-companion, earnestly supported his petition: "_Un
philosophe mauvais catholique supplie un philosophe mauvais protestant
de donner le privilège à un philosophe mauvais juif. Il y a trop de
philosophie dans tout ceci que la raison ne soit pas du côté de la
demande._" The privilege was accorded to Mendelssohn on November 26,

Being a _Schutzjude_, he could entertain the idea of marriage. Everybody
is familiar with the pretty anecdote charmingly told by Berthold
Auerbach. Mendelssohn's was a love-match. In April 1760, he undertook a
trip to Hamburg, and there became affianced to a "blue-eyed maiden,"
Fromet Gugenheim. The story goes that the girl shrank back startled at
Mendelssohn's proposal of marriage. She asked him: "Do you believe that
matches are made in heaven?" "Most assuredly," answered Mendelssohn;
"indeed, a singular thing happened in my own case. You know that,
according to a Talmud legend, at the birth of a child, the announcement
is made in heaven: So and so shall marry so and so. When I was born, my
future wife's name was called out, and I was told that she would
unfortunately be terribly humpbacked. 'Dear Lord,' said I, 'a deformed
girl easily gets embittered and hardened. A girl ought to be beautiful.
Dear Lord! Give me the hump, and let the girl be pretty, graceful,
pleasing to the eye.'"

His engagement lasted a whole year. He was naturally desirous to improve
his worldly position; but never did it occur to him to do so at the
expense of his immaculate character. Veitel Ephraim and his associates,
employed by Frederick the Great to debase the coin of Prussia, made him
brilliant offers in the hope of gaining him as their partner. He could
not be tempted, and entered into a binding engagement with Bernhard. His
married life was happy, he was sincerely in love with his wife, and she
became his faithful, devoted companion.

Six children were the offspring of their union: Abraham, Joseph, Nathan,
Dorothea, Henriette, and Recha. In Moses Mendelssohn's house, the one in
which these children grew up, the barriers between the learned world and
Berlin general society first fell. It was the rallying place of all
seeking enlightenment, of all doing battle in the cause of
enlightenment. The rearing of his children was a source of great anxiety
to Mendelssohn, whose means were limited. One day, shortly before his
death, Mendelssohn, walking up and down before his house in Spandauer
street, absorbed in meditation, was met by an acquaintance, who asked
him: "My dear Mr. Mendelssohn, what is the matter with you? You look so
troubled." "And so I am," he replied; "I am thinking what my children's
fate will be, when I am gone."

Moses Mendelssohn was wholly a son of his age, which perhaps explains
the charm of his personality. His faults as well as his fine traits
must be accounted for by the peculiarities of his generation. From this
point of view, we can understand his desire to have his daughters make a
wealthy match. On the other hand, he could not have known, and if he had
known, he could not have understood, that his daughters, touched by the
breath of a later time, had advanced far beyond his position. The Jews
of that day, particularly Jewish women, were seized by a mighty longing
for knowledge and culture. They studied French, read Voltaire, and drew
inspiration from the works of the English freethinkers. One of those
women says: "We all would have been pleased to be heroines of romance;
there was not one of us who did not rave over some hero or heroine of
fiction." At the head of this band of enthusiasts stood Dorothea
Mendelssohn, brilliant, captivating, and gifted with a vivid
imagination. She was the leader, the animating spirit of her companions.
To the reading-club organized by her efforts all the restless minds
belonged. In the private theatricals at the houses of rich Jews, she
filled the principal rôles; and the mornings after her social triumphs
found her a most attentive listener to her father, who was in the habit
of holding lectures for her and her brother Joseph, afterward published
under the name _Morgenstunden_. And this was the girl whom her father
wished to see married at sixteen. When a rich Vienna banker was proposed
as a suitable match, he said, "Ah! a man like Eskeles would greatly
please my pride!" Dorothea did marry Simon Veit, a banker, a worthy
man, who in no way could satisfy the demands of her impetuous nature.
Yet her father believed her to be a happy wife. In her thirtieth year
she made the acquaintance, at the house of her friend Henriette Herz, of
a young man, five years her junior, who was destined to change the
course of her whole life. This was Friedrich von Schlegel, the chief of
the romantic movement. Dorothea Veit, not beautiful, fascinated him by
her brilliant wit. Under Schleiermacher's encouragement, the relation
between the two quickly assumed a serious aspect. But it was not until
long after her father's death that Dorothea abandoned her husband and
children, and became Schlegel's life-companion, first his mistress,
later his wife. As Gutzkow justly says, his novel "Lucinde" describes
the relation in which Schlegel "permitted himself to be discovered. Love
for Schlegel it was that consumed her, and led her to share with him a
thousand follies--Catholicism, Brahmin theosophy, absolutism, and the
Christian asceticism of which she was a devotee at the time of her
death." Neither distress, nor misery, nor care, nor sorrow could
alienate her affections. Finally, she became a bigoted Catholic, and in
Vienna, their last residence, the daughter of Moses Mendelssohn was
seen, a lighted taper in her hand, one of a Catholic procession wending
its way to St. Stephen's Cathedral.

The other daughter had a similar career. Henriette Mendelssohn filled a
position as governess first in Vienna, then in Paris. In the latter
city, her home was the meeting-place of the most brilliant men and
women. She, too, denied her father and her faith. Recha, the youngest
daughter, was the unhappy wife of a merchant of Strelitz. Later on she
supported herself by keeping a boarding-school at Altona. Nathan, the
youngest son, was a mechanician; Abraham, the second, the father of the
famous composer, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, established with the
oldest, Joseph, a still flourishing banking-business. Abraham's children
and grandchildren all became converts to Christianity, but Moses and
Fromet died before their defection from the old faith. Fromet lived to
see the development of the passion for music which became hereditary in
the family. It is said that when, at the time of the popularity of
Schulz's "Athalia," one of the choruses, with the refrain _tout
l'univers_, was much sung by her children, the old lady cried out
irritably, "_Wie mies ist mir vor tout l'univers_" ("How sick I am of
'all the world!'").[81]

To say apologetically that the circumstances of the times produced such
feeling and action may be a partial defense of these women, but it is
not the truth. Henriette Mendelssohn's will is a characteristic
document. The introduction runs thus: "In these the last words I address
to my dear relatives, I express my gratitude for all their help and
affection, and also that they in no wise hindered me in the practice of
my religion. I have only myself to blame if the Lord God did not deem me
worthy to be the instrument for the conversion of all my brothers and
sisters to the Catholic Church, the only one endowed with saving grace.
May the Lord Jesus Christ grant my prayer, and bless them all with the
light of His countenance. Amen!" Such were the sentiments of Moses
Mendelssohn's daughters!

The sons inclined towards Protestantism. Abraham is reported to have
said that at first he was known as the son of his father, and later as
the father of his son. His wife was Leah Salomon, the sister of Salomon
Bartholdy, afterwards councillor of legation. His surname was really
only Salomon; Bartholdy he had assumed from the former owner of a garden
in Köpenikerstrasse on the Spree which he had bought. To him chiefly the
formal acceptance of Christianity by Abraham's family was due. When
Abraham hesitated about having his children baptized, Bartholdy wrote:
"You say that you owe it to your father's memory (not to abandon
Judaism). Do you think that you are committing a wrong in giving your
children a religion which you and they consider the better? In fact, you
would be paying a tribute to your father's efforts in behalf of true
enlightenment, and he would have acted for your children as you have
acted for them, perhaps for himself as I am acting for myself." This
certainly is the climax of frivolity! So it happened that one of
Mendelssohn's grandsons, Philip Veit, became a renowned Catholic church
painter, and another, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, one of the most
celebrated of Protestant composers.

After his family, we are interested in the philosopher's disciples. They
are men of a type not better, but different. What in his children sprang
from impulsiveness and conviction, was due to levity and imitativeness
in his followers. Mendelssohn's co-workers and successors formed the
school of _Biurists_, that is, expounders. In his commentary on the
Pentateuch he was helped by Solomon Dubno, Herz Homberg, and Hartwig
Wessely. Solomon Dubno, the tutor of Mendelssohn's children, was a
learned Pole, devoted heart and soul to the work on the Pentateuch. His
literary vanity having been wounded, he secretly left Mendelssohn's
house, and could not be induced to renew his interest in the
undertaking. Herz Homberg, an Austrian, took his place as tutor. When
the children were grown, he went to Vienna, and there was made imperial
councillor, charged with the superintendence of the Jewish schools of
Galicia. It is a mistake to suppose that he used efforts to further the
study of the Talmud among Jews. From letters recently published, written
by and about him, it becomes evident that he was a common informer.
Mendelssohn, of course, was not aware of his true character. The noblest
of all was Naphtali Hartwig Wessely, a poet, a pure man, a sincere lover
of mankind.

The other prominent members of Mendelssohn's circle were: Isaac Euchel,
the "restorer of Hebrew prose," as he has been called, whose chief
purpose was the reform of the Jewish order of service and Jewish
pedagogic methods; Solomon Maimon, a wild fellow, who in his
autobiography tells his own misdeeds, by many of which Mendelssohn was
caused annoyance; Lazarus ben David, a modern Diogenes, the apostle of
Kantism; and, above all, David Friedländer, an enthusiastic herald of
the new era, a zealous champion of modern culture, a pure, serious
character with high ethical ideals, whose aims, inspired though they
were by most exalted intentions, far overstepped the bounds set to him
as a Jew and the disciple of Mendelssohn. Kant's philosophy found many
ardent adherents among the Jews at that time. Beside the old there was
growing up a new generation which, having no obstructions placed in its
path after Mendelssohn's death, aggressively asserted its principles.

The first Jew after Mendelssohn to occupy a position of prominence in
the social world of Berlin was his pupil Marcus Herz, with the title
professor and aulic councillor, "praised as a physician, esteemed as a
philosopher, and extolled as a prodigy in the natural sciences. His
lectures on physics, delivered in his own house, were attended by
members of the highest aristocracy, even by royal personages."

In circles like his, the equalization of the Jews with the other
citizens was animatedly discussed, by partisans and opponents. In the
theatre-going public, a respectable minority, having once seen "Nathan
the Wise" enacted, protested against the appearance upon the stage of
the trade-Jew, speaking the sing-song, drawling German vulgarly supposed
to be peculiar to all Jews (_Mauscheln_). As early as 1771, Marcus Herz
had entered a vigorous protest against _mauscheln_, and at the first
performance of "The Merchant of Venice" on August 16, 1788, the famous
actor Fleck declaimed a prologue, composed by Ramler, in which he
disavowed any intention to "sow hatred against the Jews, the brethren in
faith of wise Mendelssohn," and asserted the sole purpose of the drama
to be the combating of folly and vice wherever they appear.

Marcus Herz's wife was Henriette Herz, and in 1790, when Alexander and
Wilhelm Humboldt first came to her house, the real history of the Berlin
_salon_ begins. The Humboldts' acquaintance with the Herz family dates
from the visit of state councillor Kunth, the tutor of the Humboldt
brothers, to Marcus Herz to advise with him about setting up a
lightning-rod, an extraordinary novelty at the time, on the castle at
Tegel. Shortly afterward, Kunth introduced his two pupils to Herz and
his wife. So the Berlin _salon_ owed its origin to a lightning-rod;
indeed, it may itself be called an electrical conductor for all the
spiritual forces, recently brought into play, and still struggling to
manifest their undeveloped strength. Up to that time there had been
nothing like society in the city of intelligence. Of course there was no
dearth of scholars and clever, brilliant people, but insuperable
obstacles seemed to prevent their social contact with one another.
Outside of Moses Mendelssohn's house, until the end of the eighties the
only _rendezvous_ of wits, scholars, and literary men, the preference
was for magnificent banquets and noisy carousals, each rank entertaining
its own members. In the middle class, the burghers, the social instinct
had not awakened at all. Alexander Humboldt significantly dated his
first letter to Henriette Herz from _Schloss Langeweile_. In the course
of time the desire for spiritual sympathy led to the formation of
reading clubs and _conversazioni_. These were the elements that finally
produced Berlin society.

The prototype of the German _salon_ naturally was the _salon_ of the
rococo period. Strangely enough, Berlin Jews, disciples, friends, and
descendants of Moses Mendelssohn, were the transplanters of the foreign
product to German soil. Untrammelled as they were in this respect by
traditions, they hearkened eagerly to the new dispensation issuing from
Weimar, and they were in no way hampered in the choice of their
hero-guides to Olympus. Berlin irony, French sparkle, and Jewish wit
moulded the social forms which thereafter were to be characteristic of
society at the capital, and called forth pretty much all that was
charming in the society and pleasing in the light literature of the
Berlin of the day.

To judge Henriette Herz justly we must beware alike of the extravagance
of her biographer and the malice of her friend Varnhagen von Ense; the
former extols her cleverness to the skies, the other degrades her to the
level of the commonplace. The two seem equally unreliable. She was
neither extremely witty nor extremely cultured. She had a singularly
clear mind, and possessed the rare faculty of spreading about her an
atmosphere of ease and cheer--good substitutes for wit and
intellectuality. Upon her beauty and amiability rested the popularity of
her _salon_, which succeeded in uniting all the social factors of that

The nucleus of her social gatherings consisted of the representatives of
the old literary traditions, Nicolai, Ramler, Engel, and Moritz, and
they curiously enough attracted the theologians Spalding, Teller,
Zöllner, and later Schleiermacher, whose intimacy with his hostess is a
matter of history. Music was represented by Reichardt and Wesseli; art,
by Schadow; and the nobility by Bernstorff, Dotina, Brinkmann, Friedrich
von Gentz, and the Humboldts. Her drawing-room was the hearth of the
romantic movement, and as may be imagined, her example was followed for
better and for worse by her friends and sisters in faith, so that by the
end of the century, Berlin could boast a number of _salons_,
meeting-places of the nobility, literary men, and cultured Jews, for the
friendly exchange of spiritual and intellectual experiences. Henriette
Herz's _salon_ became important not only for society in Berlin, but also
for German literature, three great literary movements being sheltered in
it: the classical, the romantic, and, through Ludwig Börne, that of
"Young Germany." Judaism alone was left unrepresented. In fact, she and
all her cultured Jewish friends hastened to free themselves of their
troublesome Jewish affiliations, or, at least, concealed them as best
they could. Years afterwards, Börne spent his ridicule upon the
Jewesses of the Berlin _salons_, with their enormous racial noses and
their great gold crosses at their throats, pressing into Trinity church
to hear Schleiermacher preach. But justice compels us to say that these
women did not know Judaism, or knew it only in its slave's garb. Had
they had a conception of its high ethical standard, of the wealth of its
poetic and philosophic thoughts, being women of rare mental gifts and
broad liberality, they certainly would not have abandoned Judaism. But
the Judaism of their Berlin, as represented by its religious teachers
and the leaders of the Jewish community, most of them, according to
Mendelssohn's own account, immigrant Poles, could not appeal to women of
keen, intellectual sympathies, and tastes conforming to the ideals of
the new era.

As for Mendelssohn's friends who flocked to his hospitable home--their
names are household words in the history of German literature. Nicolai
and Lessing must be mentioned before all others, but no one came to
Berlin without seeking Moses Mendelssohn--Goethe, Herder, Wieland,
Hennings, Abt, Campe, Moritz, Jerusalem. Joachim Campe has left an
account of his visit at Mendelssohn's house, which is probably a just
picture of its attractions.[82] He says: "On a Friday afternoon, my wife
and myself, together with some of the distinguished representatives of
Berlin scholarship, visited Mendelssohn. We were chatting over our
coffee, when Mendelssohn, about an hour before sundown, rose from his
seat with the words: 'Ladies and gentlemen, I must leave you to receive
the Sabbath. I shall be with you again presently; meantime my wife will
enjoy your company doubly.' All eyes followed our amiable
philosopher-host with reverent admiration as he withdrew to an adjoining
room to recite the customary prayers. At the end of half an hour he
returned, his face radiant, and seating himself, he said to his wife:
'Now I am again at my post, and shall try for once to do the honors in
your place. Our friends will certainly excuse you, while you fulfil your
religious duties.' Mendelssohn's wife excused herself, joined her
family, consecrated the Sabbath by lighting the Sabbath lamp, and
returned to us. We stayed on for some hours." Is it possible to conceive
of a more touching picture?

When Duchess Dorothea of Kurland, and her sister Elise von der Recke
were living at Friedrichsfelde near Berlin in 1785, they invited
Mendelssohn, whom they were eager to know, to visit them. When dinner
was announced, Mendelssohn was not to be found. The companion of the two
ladies writes in her journal:[83] "He had quietly slipped away to the
inn at which he had ordered a frugal meal. From a motive entirely worthy
I am sure, this philosopher never permits himself to be invited to a
meal at a Christian's house. Not to be deprived of Mendelssohn's society
too long, the duchess rose from the table as soon as possible."
Mendelssohn returned, stayed a long time, and, on bidding adieu to the
duchess, he said: "To-day, I have had a chat with mind."

This was Berlin society at Mendelssohn's time, and its toleration and
humanity are the more to be valued as the majority of Jews by no means
emulated Mendelssohn's enlightened example. All their energies were
absorbed in the effort of compliance with the charter of Frederick the
Great, which imposed many vexatious restrictions. On marrying, they were
still compelled to buy the inferior porcelain made by the royal
manufactory. The whole of the Jewish community continued to be held
responsible for a theft committed by one of its members. Jews were not
yet permitted to become manufacturers. Bankrupt Jews, without
investigation of each case, were considered cheats. Their use of land
and waterways was hampered by many petty obstructions. In every field an
insurmountable barrier rose between them and their Christian
fellow-citizens. Mendelssohn's great task was the moral and spiritual
regeneration of his brethren in faith. In all disputes his word was
final. He hoped to bring about reforms by influencing his people's inner
life. Schools were founded, and every means used to further culture and
education, but he met with much determined opposition among his
fellow-believers. Of Ephraim, the debaser of the coin, we have spoken;
also of the king's manner towards Jews. Here is another instance of his
brusqueness: Abraham Posner begged for permission to shave his beard.
Frederick wrote on the margin of his petition: "_Der Jude Posner soll
mich und seinen Bart ungeschoren lassen._"

Lawsuits of Jews against French and German traders made a great stir in
those days. It was only after much annoyance that a naturalization
patent was obtained by the family of Daniel Itzig, the father-in-law of
David Friedländer, founder of the Jews' Free School in Berlin. In other
cases, no amount of effort could secure the patent, the king saying:
"Whatever concerns your trade is well and good. But I cannot permit you
to settle tribes of Jews in Berlin, and turn it into a young

This is a picture of Jewish society in Berlin one hundred years ago. It
united the most diverse currents and tendencies, emanating from
romanticism, classicism, reform, orthodoxy, love of trade, and efforts
for spiritual regeneration. In all this queer tangle, Moses Mendelssohn
alone stands untainted, his form enveloped in pure, white light.


We are assembled for the solemn duty of paying a tribute to the memory
of him whose name graces our lodge. A twofold interest attaches us to
Leopold Zunz, appealing, as he does, to our local pride, and, beyond and
above that, to our Jewish feelings. Leopold Zunz was part of the Berlin
of the past, every trace of which is vanishing with startling rapidity.
Men, houses, streets are disappearing, and soon naught but a memory will
remain of old Berlin, not, to be sure, a City Beautiful, yet filled for
him that knew it with charming associations. A precious remnant of this
dear old Berlin was buried forever, when, on one misty day of the spring
of 1886, we consigned to their last resting place the mortal remains of
Leopold Zunz. Memorial addresses are apt to abound in such expressions
as "immortal," "imperishable," and in flowery tributes. This one shall
not indulge in them, although to no one could they more fittingly be
applied than to Leopold Zunz, a pioneer in the labyrinth of science, and
the architect of many a stately palace adorning the path but lately
discovered by himself. Surely, such an one deserves the cordial
recognition and enduring gratitude of posterity.

Despite the fact that Zunz was born at Detmold (August 10, 1794), he was
an integral part of old Berlin--a Berlin citizen, not by birth, but by
vocation, so to speak. His being was intertwined with its life by a
thousand tendrils of intellectual sympathy. The city, in turn, or, to be
topographically precise, the district between _Mauerstrasse_ and
_Rosenstrasse_ knew and loved him as one of its public characters. Time
was when his witticisms leapt from mouth to mouth in the circuit between
the Varnhagen _salon_ and the synagogue in the _Heidereutergasse_,
everywhere finding appreciative listeners. An observer stationed _Unter
den Linden_ daily for more than thirty years might have seen a peculiar
couple stride briskly towards the _Thiergarten_ in the early afternoon.
The loungers at Spargnapani's _café_ regularly interrupted their endless
newspaper reading to crane their necks and say to one another, "There go
Dr. Zunz and his wife."

In his obituary notice of the poet Mosenthal, Franz Dingelstedt
roguishly says: "He was of poor, albeit Jewish parentage." The same
applies to Zunz, only the saying would be truer, if not so witty, in
this form: "He was of Jewish, hence of poor, parentage." Among German
Jews throughout the middle ages and up to the first half of this
century, poverty was the rule, a comfortable competency a rare
exception, wealth an unheard of condition. But Jewish poverty was
relieved of sordidness by a precious gift of the old rabbis, who said:
"Have a tender care of the children of the poor; from them goeth forth
the Law"; an admonition and a prediction destined to be illustrated in
the case of Zunz. Very early he lost his mother, and the year 1805 finds
him bereft of both parents, under the shelter and in the loving care of
an institution founded by a pious Jew in Wolfenbüttel. Here he was
taught the best within the reach of German Jews of the day, the _alpha_
and _omega_ of whose knowledge and teaching were comprised in the
Talmud. The Wolfenbüttel school may be called progressive, inasmuch as a
teacher, watchmaker by trade and novel-writer by vocation, was engaged
to give instruction four times a week in the three R's. We may be sure
that those four lessons were not given with unvarying regularity.

In his scholastic home, Leopold Zunz met Isaac Marcus Jost, a waif like
himself, later the first Jewish historian, to whom we owe interesting
details of Zunz's early life. In his memoirs[85] he tells the following:
"Zunz had been entered as a pupil before I arrived. Even in those early
days there were evidences of the acumen of the future critic. He was
dominated by the spirit of contradiction. On the sly we studied grammar,
his cleverness helping me over many a stumbling-block. He was very
witty, and wrote a lengthy Hebrew satire on our tyrants, from which we
derived not a little amusement as each part was finished. Unfortunately,
the misdemeanor was detected, and the _corpus delicti_ consigned to the
flames, but the sobriquet _chotsuf_ (impudent fellow) clung to the

It is only just to admit that in this _Beth ha-Midrash_ Zunz laid the
foundation of the profound, comprehensive scholarship on Talmudic
subjects, the groundwork of his future achievements as a critic. The
circumstance that both these embryo historians had to draw their first
information about history from the Jewish German paraphrase of
"Yosippon," an historical compilation, is counterbalanced by careful
instruction in Rabbinical literature, whose labyrinthine ways soon
became paths of light to them.

A new day broke, and in its sunlight the condition of affairs changed.
In 1808 the _Beth ha-Midrash_ was suddenly transformed into the
"Samsonschool," still in useful operation. It became a primary school,
conducted on approved pedagogic principles, and Zunz and Jost were among
the first registered under the new, as they had been under the old,
administration. Though the one was thirteen, and the other fourteen
years old, they had to begin with the very rudiments of reading and
writing. Campe's juvenile books were the first they read. A year later
finds them engaged in secretly studying Greek, Latin, and mathematics
during the long winter evenings, by the light of bits of candles made by
themselves of drippings from the great wax tapers in the synagogue.
After another six months, Zunz was admitted to the first class of the
Wolfenbüttel, and Jost to that of the Brunswick, _gymnasium_. It
characterizes the men to say that Zunz was the first, and Jost the
third, Jew in Germany to enter a _gymnasium_. Now progress was rapid.
The classes of the _gymnasium_ were passed through with astounding ease,
and in 1811, with a minimum of luggage, but a very considerable mental
equipment, Zunz arrived in Berlin, never to leave it except for short
periods. He entered upon a course in philology at the newly founded
university, and after three years of study, he was in the unenviable
position to be able to tell himself that he had attained to--nothing.

For, to what could a cultured Jew attain in those days, unless he became
a lawyer or a physician? The Hardenberg edict had opened academical
careers to Jews, but when Zunz finished his studies, that provision was
completely forgotten. So he became a preacher. A rich Jew, Jacob Herz
Beer, the father of two highly gifted sons, Giacomo and Michael Beer,
had established a private synagogue in his house, and here officiated
Edward Kley, C. Günsburg, J. L. Auerbach, and, from 1820 to 1822,
Leopold Zunz. It is not known why he resigned his position, but to infer
that he had been forced to embrace the vocation of a preacher by the
stress of circumstances is unjust. At that juncture he probably would
have chosen it, if he had been offered the rectorship of the Berlin
university; for, he was animated by somewhat of the spirit that urged
the prophets of old to proclaim and fulfil their mission in the midst of
storms and in despite of threatening dangers.

Zunz's sermons delivered from 1820 to 1822 in the first German reform
temple are truly instinct with the prophetic spirit. The breath of a
mighty enthusiasm rises from the yellowed pages. Every word testifies
that they were indited by a writer of puissant individuality, disengaged
from the shackles of conventional homiletics, and boldly striking out on
untrodden paths. In the Jewish Berlin of the day, a rationalistic,
half-cultured generation, swaying irresolutely between Mendelssohn and
Schleiermacher, these new notes awoke sympathetic echoes. But scarcely
had the music of his voice become familiar, when it was hushed. In 1823,
a royal cabinet order prohibited the holding of the Jewish service in
German, as well as every other innovation in the ritual, and so German
sermons ceased in the synagogue. Zunz, who had spoken like Moses, now
held his peace like Aaron, in modesty and humility, yielding to the
inevitable without rancor or repining, always loyal to the exalted ideal
which inspired him under the most depressing circumstances. He dedicated
his sermons, delivered at a time of religious enthusiasm, to "youth at
the crossroads," whom he had in mind throughout, in the hope that they
might "be found worthy to lead back to the Lord hearts, which, through
deception or by reason of stubbornness, have fallen away from Him."

The rescue of the young was his ideal. At the very beginning of his
career he recognized that the old were beyond redemption, and that, if
response and confidence were to be won from the young, the expounding of
the new Judaism was work, not for the pulpit, but for the professor's
chair. "Devotional exercises and balmy lotions for the soul" could not
heal their wounds. It was imperative to bring their latent strength into
play. Knowing this to be his pedagogic principle, we shall not go far
wrong, if we suppose that in the organization of the "Society for Jewish
Culture and Science" the initial step was taken by Leopold Zunz. In 1819
when the mobs of Würzburg, Hamburg, and Frankfort-on-the-Main revived
the "Hep, hep!" cry, three young men, Edward Gans, Moses Moser, and
Leopold Zunz conceived the idea of a society with the purpose of
bringing Jews into harmony with their age and environment, not by
forcing upon them views of alien growth, but by a rational training of
their inherited faculties. Whatever might serve to promote intelligence
and culture was to be nurtured: schools, seminaries, academies, were to
be erected, literary aspirations fostered, and all public-spirited
enterprises aided; on the other hand, the rising generation was to be
induced to devote itself to arts, trades, agriculture, and the applied
sciences; finally, the strong inclination to commerce on the part of
Jews was to be curbed, and the tone and conditions of Jewish society
radically changed--lofty goals for the attainment of which most limited
means were at the disposal of the projectors. The first fruits of the
society were the "Scientific Institute," and the "Journal for the
Science of Judaism," published in the spring of 1822, under the
editorship of Zunz. Only three numbers appeared, and they met with so
small a sale that the cost of printing was not realized. Means were
inadequate, the plans magnificent, the times above all not ripe for such
ideals. The "Scientific Institute" crumbled away, too, and in 1823, the
society was breathing its last. Zunz poured out the bitterness of his
disappointment in a letter written in the summer of 1824 to his Hamburg
friend Immanuel Wohlwill:

"I am so disheartened that I can nevermore believe in Jewish reform. A
stone must be thrown at this phantasm to make it vanish. Good Jews are
either Asiatics, or Christians (unconscious thereof), besides a small
minority consisting of myself and a few others, the possibility of
mentioning whom saves me from the imputation of conceit, though, truth
to say, the bitterness of irony cares precious little for the forms of
good society. Jews, and the Judaism which we wish to reconstruct, are a
prey to disunion, and the booty of vandals, fools, money-changers,
idiots, and _parnassim_.[86] Many a change of season will pass over this
generation, and leave it unchanged: internally ruptured; rushing into
the arms of Christianity, the religion of expediency; without stamina
and without principle; one section thrust aside by Europe, and
vegetating in filth with longing eyes directed towards the Messiah's ass
or other member of the long-eared fraternity; the other occupied with
fingering state securities and the pages of a cyclopædia, and constantly
oscillating between wealth and bankruptcy, oppression and tolerance.
Their own science is dead among Jews, and the intellectual concerns of
European nations do not appeal to them, because, faithless to
themselves, they are strangers to abstract truth and slaves of
self-interest. This abject wretchedness is stamped upon their
penny-a-liners, their preachers, councillors, constitutions,
_parnassim_, titles, meetings, institutions, subscriptions, their
literature, their book-trade, their representatives, their happiness,
and their misfortune. No heart, no feeling! All a medley of prayers,
banknotes, and _rachmones_,[87] with a few strains of enlightenment and

Now, my friend, after so revolting a sketch of Judaism, you will hardly
ask why the society and the journal have vanished into thin air, and are
missed as little as the temple, the school, and the rights of
citizenship. The society might have survived despite its splitting up
into sections. That was merely a mistake in management. The truth is
that it never had existence. Five or six enthusiasts met together, and
like Moses ventured to believe that their spirit would communicate
itself to others. That was self-deception. _The only imperishable
possession rescued from this deluge is the science of Judaism. It lives
even though not a finger has been raised in its service since hundreds
of years. I confess that, barring submission to the judgment of God, I
find solace only in the cultivation of the science of Judaism._

As for myself, those rough experiences of mine shall assuredly not
persuade me into a course of action inconsistent with my highest
aspirations. I did what I held my duty. I ceased to preach, not in order
to fall away from my own words, but because I realized that I was
preaching in the wilderness. _Sapienti sat_.... After all that I have
said, you will readily understand that I cannot favor an unduly
ostentatious mode of dissolution. Such a course would be prompted by the
vanity of the puffed-out frog in the fable, and affect the Jews ... as
little as all that has gone before. There is nothing for the members to
do but to remain unshaken, and radiate their influence in their limited
circles, leaving all else to God."

The man who wrote these words, it is hard to realize, had not yet passed
his thirtieth year, but his aim in life was perfectly defined. He knew
the path leading to his goal, and--most important circumstance--never
deviated from it until he attained it. His activity throughout life
shows no inconsistency with his plans. It is his strength of character,
rarest of attributes in a time of universal defection from the Jewish
standard, that calls for admiration, accorded by none so readily as by
his companions in arms. Casting up his own spiritual accounts, Heinrich
Heine in the latter part of his life wrote of his friend Zunz:[89] "In
the instability of a transition period he was characterized by
incorruptible constancy, remaining true, despite his acumen, his
scepticism, and his scholarship, to self-imposed promises, to the
exalted hobby of his soul. A man of thought and action, he created and
worked when others hesitated, and sank discouraged," or, what Heine
prudently omitted to say, deserted the flag, and stealthily slunk out of
the life of the oppressed.

In Zunz, strength of character was associated with a mature, richly
stored mind. He was a man of talent, of character, and of science, and
this rare union of traits is his distinction. At a time when the
majority of his co-religionists could not grasp the plain, elementary
meaning of the phrase, "the science of Judaism," he made it the loadstar
of his life.

Sad though it be, I fear that it is true that there are those of this
generation who, after the lapse of years, are prompted to repeat the
question put by Zunz's contemporaries, "What is the science of Judaism?"
Zunz gave a comprehensive answer in a short essay, "On Rabbinical
Literature," published by Mauer in 1818:[90] "When the shadows of
barbarism were gradually lifting from the mist-shrouded earth, and light
universally diffused could not fail to strike the Jews scattered
everywhere, a remnant of old Hebrew learning attached itself to new,
foreign elements of culture, and in the course of centuries enlightened
minds elaborated the heterogeneous ingredients into the literature
called rabbinical." To this rabbinical, or, to use the more fitting name
proposed by himself, this neo-Hebraic, Jewish literature and science,
Zunz devoted his love, his work, his life. Since centuries this field
of knowledge had been a trackless, uncultivated waste. He who would
pass across, had need to be a pathfinder, robust and energetic, able to
concentrate his mind upon a single aim, undisturbed by distracting
influences. Such was Leopold Zunz, who sketched in bold, but admirably
precise outlines the extent of Jewish science, marking the boundaries of
its several departments, estimating its resources, and laying out the
work and aims of the future. The words of the prophet must have appealed
to him with peculiar force: "I remember unto thee the kindness of thy
youth, the love of thy espousals, thy going after me in the wilderness,
through a land that is not sown."

Again, when there was question of cultivating the desert soil, and
seeking for life under the rubbish, Zunz was the first to present
himself as a laborer. The only fruit of the Society for Jewish Culture
and Science, during the three years of its existence, was the "Journal
for the Science of Judaism," and its publication was due exclusively to
Zunz's perseverance. Though only three numbers appeared, a positive
addition to our literature was made through them in Zunz's biographical
essay on Rashi, the old master expounder of the Bible and the Talmud. By
its arrangement of material, by its criticism and grouping of facts, and
not a little by its brilliant style, this essay became the model for all
future work on kindred subjects. When the society dissolved, and Zunz
was left to enjoy undesired leisure, he continued to work on the lines
laid down therein. Besides, Zunz was a political journalist, for many
years political editor of "Spener's Journal," and a contributor to the
_Gesellschafter_, the _Iris_, _Die Freimütigen_, and other publications
of a literary character. From 1825 to 1829, he was a director of the
newly founded Jewish congregational school; for one year he occupied the
position of preacher at Prague; and from 1839 to 1849, the year of its
final closing, he acted as trustee of the Jewish teachers' seminary in
Berlin. Thereafter he had no official position.

As a politician he was a pronounced democrat. Reading his political
addresses to-day, after a lapse of half a century, we find in them the
clearness and sagacity that distinguish the scientific productions of
the investigator. Here is an extract from his words of consolation
addressed to the families of the heroes of the March revolution of

"They who walked our streets unnoticed, who meditated in their quiet
studies, toiled in their workshops, cast up accounts in offices, sold
wares in the shops, were suddenly transformed into valiant fighters, and
we discovered them at the moment when like meteors they vanished. When
they grew lustrous, they disappeared from our sight, and when they
became our deliverers, we lost the opportunity of thanking them. Death
has made them great and precious to us. Departing they poured unmeasured
wealth upon us all, who were so poor. Our heads, parched like a summer
sky, produced no fruitful rain of magnanimous thoughts. The hearts in
our bosoms, turned into stone, were bereft of human sympathies. Vanity
and illusions were our idols; lies and deception poisoned our lives;
lust and avarice dictated our actions; a hell of immorality and misery,
corroding every institution, heated the atmosphere to suffocation, until
black clouds gathered, a storm of the nations raged about us, and
purifying streaks of lightning darted down upon the barricades and into
the streets. Through the storm-wind, I saw chariots of fire and horses
of fire bearing to heaven the men of God who fell fighting for right and
liberty. I hear the voice of God, O ye that weep, knighting your dear
ones. The freedom of the press is their patent of nobility, our hearts,
their monuments. Every one of us, every German, is a mourner, and you,
survivors, are no longer abandoned."

In an election address of February 1849,[92] Zunz says: "The first step
towards liberty is to miss liberty, the second, to seek it, the third,
to find it. Of course, many years may pass between the seeking and the
finding." And further on: "As an elector, I should give my vote for
representatives only to men of principle and immaculate reputation, who
neither hesitate nor yield; who cannot be made to say cold is warm, and
warm is cold; who disdain legal subtleties, diplomatic intrigues, lies
of whatever kind, even when they redound to the advantage of the party.
Such are worthy of the confidence of the people, because conscience is
their monitor. They may err, for to err is human, but they will never

Twelve years later, on a similar occasion, he uttered the following
prophetic words:[93] "A genuinely free form of government makes a people
free and upright, and its representatives are bound to be champions of
liberty and progress. If Prussia, unfurling the banner of liberty and
progress, will undertake to provide us with such a constitution, our
self-confidence, energy, and trustfulness will return. Progress will be
the fundamental principle of our lives, and out of our united efforts to
advance it will grow a firm, indissoluble union. Now, then, Germans! Be
resolved, all of you, to attain the same goal, and your will shall be a
storm-wind scattering like chaff whatever is old and rotten. In your
struggle for a free country, you will have as allies the army of mighty
minds that have suffered for right and liberty in the past. Now you are
split up into tribes and clans, held together only by the bond of
language and a classic literature. You will grow into a great nation, if
but all brother-tribes will join us. Then Germany, strongly secure in
the heart of Europe, will be able to put an end to the quailing before
attacks from the East or the West, and cry a halt to war. The empire,
some one has said, means peace. Verily, with Prussia at its head, the
German empire means peace."

Such utterances are characteristic of Zunz, the politician. His best
energies and efforts, however, were devoted to his researches. Science,
he believed, would bring about amelioration of political conditions;
science, he hoped, would preserve Judaism from the storms and calamities
of his generation, for the fulfilment of its historical mission.
Possessed by this idea, he wrote _Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der
Juden_ ("Jewish Homiletics," 1832), the basis of the future science of
Judaism, the first clearing in the primeval forest of rabbinical
writings, through which the pioneer led his followers with steady step
and hand, as though walking on well trodden ground. Heinrich Heine, who
appreciated Zunz at his full worth, justly reckoned this book "among the
noteworthy productions of the higher criticism," and another reviewer
with equal justice ranks it on a level with the great works of Böckh,
Diez, Grimm, and others of that period, the golden age of philological
research in Germany.

Like almost all that Zunz wrote, _Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der
Juden_ was the result of a polemic need. By nature Zunz was a
controversialist. Like a sentinel upon the battlements, he kept a sharp
lookout upon the land. Let the Jews be threatened with injustice by
ruler, statesman, or scholar, and straightway he attacked the enemy with
the weapons of satire and science. One can fancy that the cabinet order
prohibiting German sermons in the synagogue, and so stifling the
ambition of his youth, awakened the resolve to trace the development of
the sermon among Jews, and show that thousands of years ago the
well-spring of religious instruction bubbled up in Judah's halls of
prayer, and has never since failed, its wealth of waters overflowing
into the popular Midrash, the repository of little known, unappreciated
treasures of knowledge and experience, accumulated in the course of many

In the preface to this book, Zunz, the democrat, says that for his
brethren in faith he demands of the European powers, "not rights and
liberties, but right and liberty. Deep shame should mantle the cheek of
him who, by means of a patent of nobility conferred by favoritism, is
willing to rise above his _co-religionists_, while the law of the land
brands him by assigning him a place among the lowest of his
_co-citizens_. Only in the rights common to all citizens can we find
satisfaction; only in unquestioned equality, the end of our pain.
Liberty unshackling the hand to fetter the tongue; tolerance delighting
not in our progress, but in our decay; citizenship promising protection
without honor, imposing burdens without holding out prospects of
advancement; they all, in my opinion, are lacking in love and justice,
and such baneful elements in the body politic must needs engender
pestiferous diseases, affecting the whole and its every part."

Zunz sees a connection between the civil disabilities of the Jews and
their neglect of Jewish science and literature. Untrammelled,
instructive speech he accounts the surest weapon. Hence the homilies of
the Jews appear to him to be worthy, and to stand in need, of
historical investigation, and the results of his research into their
origin, development, and uses, from the time of Ezra to the present day,
are laid down in this epoch-making work.

The law forbidding the bearing of German names by Jews provoked Zunz's
famous and influential little book, "The Names of the Jews," like most
of his later writings polemic in origin, in which respect they remind
one of Lessing's works.

In the ardor of youth Zunz had borne the banner of reform; in middle age
he became convinced that the young generation of iconoclasts had rushed
far beyond the ideal goal of the reform movement cherished in his
visions. As he had upheld the age and sacred uses of the German sermon
against the assaults of the orthodox; so for the benefit and instruction
of radical reformers, he expounded the value and importance of the
Hebrew liturgy in profound works, which appeared during a period of ten
years, crystallizing the results of a half-century's severe application.
They rounded off the symmetry of his spiritual activity. For, when
Midrashic inspiration ceased to flow, the _piut_--synagogue
poetry--established itself, and the transformation from the one into the
other was the active principle of neo-Hebraic literature for more than a
thousand years. Zunz's vivifying sympathies knit the old and the new
into a wondrously firm historical thread. Nowhere have the harmony and
continuity of Jewish literary development found such adequate expression
as in his _Synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters_ ("Synagogue Poetry of
the Middle Ages," 1855), _Ritus des synagogalen Gottesdienstes_ ("The
Ritual of the Synagogue," 1859), and _Litteraturgeschichte der
synagogalen Poesie_ ("History of Synagogue Poetry," 1864), the capstone
of his literary endeavors.

In his opinion, the only safeguard against error lies in the pursuit of
science, not, indeed, dryasdust science, but science in close touch with
the exuberance of life regulated by high-minded principles, and
transfigured by ideal hopes. Sermons and prayers in harmonious relation,
he believed,[94] will "enable some future generation to enjoy the fruits
of a progressive, rational policy, and it is meet that science and
poetry should be permeated with ideas serving the furtherance of such
policy. Education is charged with the task of moulding enlightened minds
to think the thoughts that prepare for right-doing, and warm,
enthusiastic hearts to execute commendable deeds. For, after all is said
and done, the well-being of the community can only grow out of the
intelligence and the moral life of each member. Every individual that
strives to apprehend the harmony of human and divine elements attains to
membership in the divine covenant. The divine is the aim of all our
thoughts, actions, sentiments, and hopes. It invests our lives with
dignity, and supplies a moral basis for our relations to one another.
Well, then, let us hope for redemption--for the universal recognition of
a form of government under which the rights of man are respected. Then
free citizens will welcome Jews as brethren, and Israel's prayers will
be offered up by mankind."

These are samples of the thoughts underlying Zunz's great works, as well
as his numerous smaller, though not less important, productions:
biographical and critical essays, legal opinions, sketches in the
history of literature, reviews, scientific inquiries, polemical and
literary fragments, collected in his work _Zur Geschichte und
Litteratur_ ("Contributions to History and Literature," 1873), and in
three volumes of collected writings. Since the publication of his
"History of Synagogue Poetry," Zunz wrote only on rare occasions. His
last work but one was _Deutsche Briefe_ (1872) on German language and
German intellect, and his last, an incisive and liberal contribution to
Bible criticism (_Studie zur Bibelkritik_, 1874), published in the
_Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft_ in Leipsic.
From that time on, when the death of his beloved wife, Adelheid Zunz, a
most faithful helpmate, friend, counsellor, and support, occurred, he
was silent.

Zunz had passed his seventieth year when his "History of Synagogue
Poetry" appeared. He could permit himself to indulge in well-earned
rest, and from the vantage-ground of age inspect the bustling activity
of a new generation of friends and disciples on the once neglected field
of Jewish science.

Often as the cause of religion and civil liberty received a check at
one place or another, during those long years when he stood aside from
the turmoil of life, a mere looker-on, he did not despair; he continued
to hope undaunted. Under his picture he wrote sententiously: "Thought is
strong enough to vanquish arrogance and injustice without recourse to
arrogance and injustice."

Zunz's life and work are of incalculable importance to the present age
and to future generations. With eagle vision he surveyed the whole
domain of Jewish learning, and traced the lines of its development.
Constructive as well as critical, he raised widely scattered fragments
to the rank of a literature which may well claim a place beside the
literatures of the nations. Endowed with rare strength of character, he
remained unflinchingly loyal to his ancestral faith, "the exalted hobby
of his soul"--a model for three generations. Jewish literature owes to
him a scientific style. He wrote epigrammatic, incisive, perspicuous
German, stimulating and suggestive, such as Lessing used. The reform
movement he supported as a legitimate development of Judaism on
historical lines. On the other hand, he fostered loyalty to Judaism by
lucidly presenting to young Israel the value of his faith, his
intellectual heritage, and his treasures of poetry. Zunz, then, is the
originator of a momentous phase in our development, producing among its
adherents as among outsiders a complete revolution in the appreciation
of Judaism, its religious and intellectual aspects. Together with
self-knowledge he taught his brethren self-respect. He was, in short, a
clear thinker and acute critic; a German, deeply attached to his beloved
country, and fully convinced of the supremacy of German mind; at the
same time, an ardent believer in Judaism, imbued with some of the spirit
of the prophets, somewhat of the strength of Jewish heroes and martyrs,
who sacrificed life for their conviction, and with dying lips made the
ancient confession: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is

His name is an abiding possession for our nation; it will not perish
from our memory. "Good night, my prince! O that angel choirs might lull
thy slumbers!"



No modern poet has aroused so much discussion as Heinrich Heine. His
works are known everywhere, and quotations from them--gorgeous
butterflies, stinging gnats, buzzing bees--whizz and whirr through the
air of our century. They are the _vade mecum_ of modern life in all its
moods and variations.

This high regard is a recent development. Within the last thirty years a
complete change has taken place in public opinion. Soon after the poet's
death, he was entirely neglected. The _Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung_,
whose columns had for decades been enriched with his contributions, took
three months to get up a little obituary notice. Then followed a period
of acrimonious detraction; at last, cordial appreciation has come.

The conviction has been growing that in Heine the German nation must
revere its greatest lyric poet since Goethe, and as time removes him
from us, the baser elements of his character recede into the background,
his personality is lost sight of, and his poetry becomes the paramount

What is the attitude of Judaism? Does it acknowledge Heine as its son?
Is it disposed to accept _cum beneficio inventarii_ the inheritance he
has bequeathed to it? To answer these questions we must review Heine's
life, his relations to Judaism, his opinions on Jewish subjects, and the
qualities which prove him heir to the peculiarities of the Jewish race.

Heine's family was Jewish. On the paternal side it can be traced to
Meyer Samson Popert and Fromet Heckscher of Altona; on the maternal side
further back, to Isaac van Geldern, who emigrated in about 1700 from
Holland to the duchy of Jülich-Berg. He and his son Lazarus van Geldern
were people of importance at Düsseldorf, and his other sons, Simon and
Gottschalk, were known and respected beyond the confines of their city.
Simon van Geldern was the author of "The Israelites on Mount Horeb," a
didactic poem in English, and on his trip to the East he kept a Hebrew
journal, which can still be seen. His younger brother Gottschalk was a
distinguished physician, and occupied a position of high dignity in the
Jewish congregations in the duchies of Jülich and Berg. It is said that
he provided for the welfare of his brethren in faith "as a father
provides for his children." His only daughter Betty (Peierche) van
Geldern, urged by her family and in obedience to the promptings of her
own heart, married Samson Heine, and became the mother of the poet.
Heine himself has written much about his family,[95] particularly about
his mother's brother. Of his paternal grandfather, he knew only what
his father had told him, that he was "a little Jew with a great beard."
On the whole, his education was strictly religious, but it was tainted
with the deplorable inconsistency so frequently found in Jewish homes.
Themselves heedless of religious ceremonies, parents exact from their
children punctilious observance of minute regulations. Samson Heine was
one of the Jews often met with in the beginning of this century who,
lacking true culture, caught up some of the encyclopædist phrases with
which the atmosphere of the period was heavy. Heine describes his
father's extraordinary buoyancy: "Always azure serenity and fanfares of
good humor." The reproach is characteristic which he addressed to his
son, when the latter was charged with atheism: "Dear son! Your mother is
having you instructed in philosophy by Rector Schallmeier--that is her
affair. As for me, I have no love for philosophy; it is nothing but
superstition. I am a merchant, and need all my faculties for my
business. You may philosophize as much as you please, only, I beg of
you, don't tell any one what you think. It would harm my business, were
people to discover that my son does not believe in God. Particularly the
Jews would stop buying velvets from me, and they are honest folk, and
pay promptly. And they are right in clinging to religion. Being your
father, therefore older than you, I am more experienced, and you may
take my word for it, atheism is a great sin."

Two instances related by Joseph Neunzig, one of his playmates, show how
rigorously Harry was compelled to observe religious forms in his
paternal home. On a Saturday the children were out walking, when
suddenly a fire broke out. The fire extinguishers came clattering up to
the burning house, but as the flames were spreading rapidly, all
bystanders were ordered to range themselves in line with the firemen.
Harry refused point-blank to help: "I may not do it, and I will not,
because it is _Shabbes_ to-day." But another time, when it jumped with
his wishes, the eight year old boy managed to circumvent the Law. He was
playing with some of his schoolmates in front of a neighbor's house. Two
luscious bunches of grapes hung over the arbor almost down to the
ground. The children noticed them, and with longing in their eyes passed
on. Only Harry stood still before the grapes. Suddenly springing on the
arbor, he bit one grape after another from the bunch. "Red-head Harry!"
the children exclaimed horrified, "what are you doing?" "Nothing wrong,"
said the little rogue. "We are forbidden to pluck them with our hands,
but the law does not say anything about biting and eating." His
education was not equable and not methodical. Extremely indulgent
towards themselves, the parents were extremely severe in their treatment
of their children. So arose the contradictions in the poet's character.
He is one of those to whom childhood's religion is a bitter-sweet
remembrance unto the end of days. Jewish sympathies were his
inalienable heritage, and from this point of view his life must be

The poet's mother was of a different stamp from his father. Like most of
the Jews in the Rhenish provinces, his father hailed Napoleon, the first
legislator to establish equality between Jews and Christians, as a
savior. His mother, on the other hand, was a good German patriot and a
woman of culture, who exercised no inconsiderable influence upon the
heart and mind of her son. Heine calls her a disciple of Rousseau, and
his brother Maximilian tells us that Goethe was her favorite among

The boy was first taught by Rintelsohn at a Jewish school, but his
knowledge of Hebrew seems to have been very limited. It is an
interesting fact that his first poem, "Belshazzar," which he tells us he
wrote at the age of sixteen, was inspired by his childhood's faith and
is based upon Jewish history. Towards the end of his life he said to a
friend:[96] "Do you know what inspired me? A few words in the Hebrew
hymn, _Wayhee bechatsi halaïla_, sung, as you know, on the first two
evenings of the Passover. This hymn commemorates all momentous events in
the history of the Jews that occurred at midnight; among them the death
of the Babylonian tyrant, snatched away at night for desecrating the
holy Temple vessels. The quoted words are the refrain of the hymn, which
forms part of the Haggada, the curious medley of legends and songs,
recited by pious Jews at the _Seder_." Ay, the Passover celebration,
the _Seder_, remained in the poet's memory till the day of his death. He
describes it still later in one of his finest works:[97] "Sweetly sad,
joyous, earnest, sportive, and elfishly mysterious is that evening
service, and the traditional chant with which the Haggada is recited by
the head of the family, the listeners sometimes joining in as a chorus,
is thrillingly tender, soothing as a mother's lullaby, yet impetuous and
inspiring, so that Jews who long have drifted from the faith of their
fathers, and have been pursuing the joys and dignities of the stranger,
even they are stirred in their inmost parts when the old, familiar
Passover sounds chance to fall upon their ears."

My esteemed friend Rabbi Dr. Frank of Cologne has in his possession a
Haggada, admirably illustrated, an heirloom at one time of the Van
Geldern family, and it is not improbable that it was out of this
artistic book that Heinrich Heine asked the _Mah nishtannah_, the
traditional question of the _Seder_.

Heine left home very young, and everybody knows that he was apprenticed
to a merchant at Frankfort, and that his uncle Solomon's kindness
enabled him to devote himself to jurisprudence. But this, of important
bearing on our subject, is not a matter of common knowledge: _Always and
everywhere, especially when he had least intercourse with Jews, Jewish
elements appear most prominently in Heine's life._

A merry, light-hearted student, he arrived in Berlin in 1821. A curious
spectacle is presented by the Jewish Berlin of the day, dominated by the
_salons_, and the women whose tact and scintillating wit made them the
very centre of general society. The traditions of Rahel Levin, Henriette
Herz, and other clever women, still held sway. But the state frustrated
every attempt to introduce reforms into Judaism. Two great parties
opposed each other more implacably than ever, the one clutching the old,
the other yearning for the new. Out of the breach, salvation was in time
to sprout. In the first quarter of our century, more than three-fourths
of the Jewish population of Berlin embraced the ruling faith. This was
the new, seditious element with which young Heine was thrown. His
interesting personality attracted general notice. All circles welcomed
him. The _salons_ did their utmost to make him one of their votaries.
Romantic student clubs at Lutter's and Wegener's wine-rooms left nothing
untried to lure him to their nocturnal carousals. Even Hegel, the
philosopher, evinced marked interest in him. To whose allurements does
he yield? Like his great ancestor, he goes to "his brethren languishing
in captivity." Some of his young friends, Edward Gans, Leopold Zunz, and
Moses Moser, had formed a "Society for Jewish Culture and Science," with
Berlin as its centre, and Heinrich Heine became one of its most active
members. He taught poor Jewish boys from Posen several hours a week in
the school established by the society, and all questions that came up
interested him. Joseph Lehmann took pleasure in repeatedly telling how
seriously Heine applied himself to a review which he had undertaken to
write on the compilation of a German prayer-book for Jewish women.

To the Berlin period belongs his _Almansor_, a dramatic poem which has
suffered the most contradictory criticism. In my opinion, it has usually
been misunderstood. _Almansor_ is intelligible only if regarded from a
Jewish point of view, and then it is seen to be the hymn of vengeance
sung by Judaism oppressed. Substitute the names of a converted Berlin
banker and his wife for "Aly" and "Suleima," Berlin under Frederick
William III. for "Saragossa," the Berlin Thiergarten for the "Forest,"
and the satire stands revealed. The following passage is characteristic
of the whole poem:[98]

    "Go not to Aly's castle! Flee
    That noxious house where new faith breeds.
    With honeyed accents there thy heart
    Is wrenched from out thy bosom's depths,
    A snake bestowed on thee instead.
    Hot drops of lead on thy poor head
    Are poured, and nevermore thy brain
    From madding pain shall rid itself.
    Another name thou must assume,
    That if thy angel warning calls,
    And calls thee by thy olden name,
    He call in vain."

Such were Heine's views at that time, and with them he went to
Göttingen. There, though Jewish society was entirely lacking, and
correspondence with his Berlin friends desultory, his Jewish interests
grew stronger than ever. There, inspired by the genius of Jewish
history, he composed his _Rabbi von Bacharach_, the work which, by his
own confession, he nursed with unspeakable love, and which, he fondly
hoped, would "become an immortal book, a perpetual lamp in the dome of
God." Again Jewish conversions, a burning question of the day, were made
prominent. Heine's solution is beyond a cavil enlightened. The words are
truly remarkable with which Sarah, the beautiful Jewess, declines the
services of the gallant knight:[99] "Noble sir! Would you be my knight,
then you must meet nations in a combat in which small praise and less
honor are to be won. And would you be rash enough to wear my colors,
then you must sew yellow wheels upon your mantle, or bind a blue-striped
scarf about your breast. For these are my colors, the colors of my
house, named Israel, the unhappy house mocked at on the highways and the
byways by the children of fortune."

Another illustration of Heine's views at that time of his life, and with
those views he one day went to the neighboring town of Heiligenstadt--to
be baptized.

Who can sound the depths of a poet's soul? Who can divine what Heine's
thoughts, what his hopes were, when he took this step? His letters and
confessions of that period must be read to gain an idea of his inner
world. On one occasion he wrote to Moser, to whom he laid bare his most
intimate thoughts:[100] "Mentioning Japan reminds me to recommend to you
Golovnin's 'Journey to Japan.' Perhaps I may send you a poem to-day from
the _Rabbi_, in the writing of which I unfortunately have been
interrupted again. I beg that you speak to nobody about this poem, or
about what I tell you of my private affairs. A young Spaniard, at heart
a Jew, is beguiled to baptism by the arrogance bred of luxury. He sends
the translation of an Arabic poem to young Yehuda Abarbanel, with whom
he is corresponding. Perhaps he shrinks from directly confessing to his
friend an action hardly to be called admirable.... Pray do not think
about this."

And the poem? It is this:


    "Each with each has borne, in patience
      Longer than a thousand year--
    _Thou_ dost tolerate my breathing,
      _I_ thy ravings calmly hear.

    Sometimes only, in the darkness,
      Thou didst have sensations odd,
    And thy paws, caressing, gentle,
      Crimson turned with my rich blood.

    Now our friendship firmer groweth,
      Daily keeps on growing straight.
    I myself incline to madness,
      Soon, in faith, I'll be thy mate."

A few weeks later he writes to Moser in a still more bitter strain: "I
know not what to say. Cohen assures me that Gans is preaching
Christianity, and trying to convert the children of Israel. If this is
conviction, he is a fool; if hypocrisy, a knave. I shall not give up
loving him, but I confess that I should have been better pleased to hear
that Gans had been stealing silver spoons. That you, dear Moser, share
Gans's opinions, I cannot believe, though Cohen assures me of it, and
says that you told him so yourself. I should be sorry, if my own baptism
were to strike you more favorably. I give you my word of honor--if our
laws allowed stealing silver spoons, I should not have been baptized."
Again he writes mournfully: "As, according to Solon, no man may be
called happy, so none should be called honest, before his death. I am
glad that David Friedländer and Bendavid are old, and will soon die.
Then we shall be certain of them, and the reproach of having had not a
single immaculate representative cannot be attached to our time. Pardon
my ill humor. It is directed mainly against myself."

"Upon how true a basis the myth of the wandering Jew rests!" he says in
another letter. "In the lonely wooded valley, the mother tells her
children the grewsome tale. Terror-stricken the little ones cower close
to the hearth. It is night ... the postilion blows his horn ... Jew
traders are journeying to the fair at Leipsic. We, the heroes of the
legend, are not aware of our part in it. The white beard, whose tips
time has rejuvenated, no barber can remove." In those days he wrote the
following poem, published posthumously:[101]


    "Out upon youth's holy flame!
      Oh! how quickly it burns low!
    Now, thy heated blood grown tame,
      Thou agreest to love thy foe!

    And thou meekly grovell'st low
      At the cross which thou didst spurn;
    Which not many weeks ago,
      Thou didst wish to crush and burn.

    Fie! that comes from books untold--
      There are Schlegel, Haller, Burke--
    Yesterday a hero bold,
      Thou to-day dost scoundrel's work."

The usual explanation of Heine's formal adoption of Christianity is that
he wished to obtain a government position in Prussia, and make himself
independent of his rich uncle. As no other offers itself, we are forced
to accept it as correct. He was fated to recognize speedily that he had
gained nothing by baptism. A few weeks after settling in Hamburg he
wrote: "I repent me of having been baptized. I cannot see that I have
bettered my position. On the contrary, I have had nothing but
disappointment and bad luck." Despite his baptism, his enemies called
him "the Jew," and at heart he never did become a Christian.

At Hamburg, in those days, Heine was repeatedly drawn into the conflict
between reform and orthodoxy, between the Temple and the synagogue. His
uncle Solomon Heine was a warm supporter of the Temple, but Heine, with
characteristic inconsistency, admired the old rigorous rabbinical system
more than the modern reform movement, which often called forth his
ridicule. Yet, at bottom, his interest in the latter was strong, as it
continued to be also in the Berlin educational society, and its "Journal
for the Science of Judaism," of which, however, only three numbers were
issued. He once wrote from Hamburg to his friend Moser: "Last Saturday I
was at the Temple, and had the pleasure with my own ears to hear Dr.
Salomon rail against baptized Jews, and insinuate that they are tempted
to become faithless to the religion of their fathers only by the hope of
preferment. I assure you, the sermon was good, and some day I intend to
call upon the man. Cohen is doing the generous thing by me. I take my
_Shabbes_ dinner with him; he heaps fiery _Kugel_ upon my head, and
contritely I eat the sacred national dish, which has done more for the
preservation of Judaism than all three numbers of the Journal. To be
sure, it has had a better sale. If I had time, I would write a pretty
little Jewish letter to Mrs. Zunz. I am getting to be a thoroughbred
Christian; I am sponging on the rich Jews."

They who find nothing but jest in this letter, do not understand Heine.
A bitter strain of disgust, of unsparing self-denunciation, runs through
it--the feelings that dictate the jests and accusations of his
_Reisebilder_. This was the period of Heine's best creations: for as
such his "Book of Songs," _Buch der Lieder_, and his _Reisebilder_ must
be considered. With a sudden bound he leapt into greatness and

The reader may ask me to point out in these works the features to be
taken as the expression of the genius of the Jewish race. To understand
our poet, we must keep in mind that _Heinrich Heine was a Jew born in
the days of romanticism in a town on the Rhine_. His intellect and his
sensuousness, of Jewish origin, were wedded with Rhenish fancy and
blitheness, and over these qualities the pale moonshine of romanticism
shed its glamour.

The most noteworthy characteristic of his writings, prose and verse, is
his extraordinary subjectivity, pushing the poet's _ego_ into the
foreground. With light, graceful touch, he demonstrates the possibility
of unrestrained self-expression in an artistic guise. The boldness and
energy with which "he gave voice to his hidden self" were so novel, so
surprising, that his melodies at once awoke an echo. This subjectivity
is his Jewish birthright. It is Israel's ingrained combativeness, for
more than a thousand years the genius of its literature, which
throughout reveals a predilection for abrupt contrasts, and is studded
with unmistakable expressions of strong individuality. By virtue of his
subjectivity, which never permits him to surrender himself
unconditionally, the Jew establishes a connection between his _ego_ and
whatever subject he treats of. "He does not sink his own identity, and
lose himself in the depths of the cosmos, nor roam hither and thither in
the limitless space of the world of thought. He dives down to search for
pearls at the bottom of the sea, or rises aloft to gain a bird's-eye
view of the whole. The world encloses him as the works of a clock are
held in a case. His _ego_ is the hammer, and there is no sound unless,
swinging rhythmically, itself touches the sides, now softly, now
boldly." Not content to yield to an authority which would suppress his
freedom of action, he traverses the world, and compels it to promote the
development of his energetic nature. To these peculiarities of his race
Heine fell heir--to the generous traits growing out of marked
individuality, its grooves deepened by a thousand years of martyrdom, as
well as to the petty faults following in the wake of excessive
self-consciousness; which have furnished adversaries of the Jews with
texts and weapons.

This subjectivity, traceable in his language and in his ancient
literature, it is that unfits the Jew for objective, philosophic
investigation. It is, moreover, responsible for that energetic
self-assertiveness for which the Aramæan language has coined the word
_chutspa_, only partially rendered by arrogance. Possibly it is the root
of another quality which Heine owes to his Jewish extraction--his wit
Heine's scintillations are composed of a number of elements--of English
humor, French sparkle, German irony, and Jewish wit, all of which,
saving the last, have been analyzed by the critics. Proneness to
censure, to criticism, and discussion, is the concomitant of keen
intellect given to scrutiny and analysis. From the buoyancy of the
Jewish disposition, and out of the force of Jewish subjectivity, arose
Jewish wit, whose first manifestations can be traced in the Talmud and
the Midrash. Its appeals are directed to both fancy and heart. It
delights in antithesis, and, as was said above, is intimately connected
with Jewish subjectivity. Its distinguishing characteristic is the
desire to have its superiority acknowledged without wounding the
feelings of the sensitive, and an explanation of its peculiarity can be
found in the sad fate of the Jews. The heroes of Shakespere's tragedies
are full of irony. Frenzy at its maddest pitch breaks out into merry
witticisms and scornful laughter. So it was with the Jews. The waves of
oppression, forever dashing over them, strung their nerves to the point
of reaction. The world was closed to them in hostility. There was
nothing for them to do but laugh--laugh with forced merriment from
behind prison bars, and out of the depths of their heartrending
resignation. Complaints it was possible to suppress, but no one could
forbid their laughter, ghastly though it was. M. G. Saphir, one of the
best exponents of Jewish wit, justly said: "The Jews seized the weapon
of wit, since they were interdicted the use of every other sort of
weapon." Whatever humdrum life during the middle ages offered them, had
to submit to the scalpel of their wit.

As a rule, Jewish wit springs from a lively appreciation of what is
ingenious. A serious beginning suddenly and unexpectedly takes a merry,
jocose turn, producing in Heine's elegiac passages the discordant
endings so shocking to sensitive natures. But it is an injustice to the
poet to attribute these rapid transitions to an artist's vain fancy. His
satire is directed against the ideals of his generation, not against the
ideal. Harsh, discordant notes do not express the poet's real
disposition. They are exaggerated, romantic feeling, for which he
himself, led by an instinctively pure conception of the good and the
beautiful, which is opposed alike to sickly sentimentality and jarring
dissonance, sought the outlet of irony.

Heine's humor, as I intimated above, springs from his recognition of the
tragedy of life. It is an expression of the irreconcilable difference
between the real and the ideal, of the perception that the world,
despite its grandeur and its beauty, is a world of folly and
contradictions; that whatever exists and is formed, bears within itself
the germ of death and corruption; that the Lord of all creation himself
is but the shuttlecock of irresistible, absolute force, compelling the
unconditional surrender of subject and object.

Humor, then, grows out of the contemplation of the tragedy of life. But
it does not stop there. If the world is so pitiful, so fragile, it is
not worth a tear, not worth hatred, or contempt. The only sensible
course is to accept it as it is, as a nothing, an absolute
contradiction, calling forth ridicule. At this point, a sense of tragedy
is transformed into demoniac glee. No more is this a permanent state.
The humorist is too impulsive to accept it as final. Moreover, he feels
that with the world he has annihilated himself. In the phantom realm
into which he has turned the world, his laughter reverberates with
ghostlike hollowness. Recognizing that the world meant more to him than
he was willing to admit, and that apart from it he has no being, he
again yields to it, and embraces it with increased passion and ardor.
But scarcely has the return been effected, scarcely has he begun to
realize the beauties and perfections of the world, when sadness,
suffering, pain, and torture, obtrude themselves, and the old
overwhelming sense of life's tragedy takes possession of him. This train
of thought, plainly discernible in Heine's poems, he also owes to his
descent. A mind given to such speculations naturally seeks poetic solace
in _Weltschmerz_, which, as everybody knows, is still another heirloom
of his race.

These are the most important characteristics, some admirable, some
reprehensible, which Heine has derived from his race, and they are the
very ones that raised opponents against him, one of the most interesting
and prominent among them being the German philosopher Arthur
Schopenhauer. His two opinions on Heine, expressed at almost the same
time, are typical of the antagonism aroused by the poet. In his book,
"The World as Will and Idea,"[102] he writes: "Heine is a true humorist
in his _Romanzero_. Back of all his quips and gibes lies deep
seriousness, _ashamed_ to speak out frankly." At the same time he says
in his journal, published posthumously: "Although a buffoon, Heine has
genius, and the distinguishing mark of genius, ingenuousness. On close
examination, however, his ingenuousness turns out to have its root in
Jewish shamelessness; for he, too, belongs to the nation of which Riemer
says that it knows neither shame nor grief."

The contradiction between the two judgments is too obvious to need
explanation; it is an interesting illustration of the common experience
that critics go astray when dealing with Heine.


When, as Heine puts it, "a great hand solicitously beckoned," he left
his German fatherland in his prime, and went to Paris. In its sociable
atmosphere, he felt more comfortable, more free, than in his own home,
where the Jew, the author, the liberal, had encountered only prejudices.
The removal to Paris was an inauspicious change for the poet, and that
he remained there until his end was still less calculated to redound to
his good fortune. He gave much to France, and Paris did little during
his life to pay off the debt. The charm exercised upon every stranger by
Babylon on the Seine, wrought havoc in his character and his work, and
gives us the sole criterion for the rest of his days. Yet, despite his
devotion to Paris, home-sickness, yearning for Germany, was henceforth
the dominant note of his works. At that time Heine considered Judaism "a
long lost cause." Of the God of Judaism, the philosophical
demonstrations of Hegel and his disciples had robbed him; his knowledge
of doctrinal Judaism was a minimum; and his keen race-feeling, his
historical instinct, was forced into the background by other sympathies
and antipathies. He was at that time harping upon the long cherished
idea that men can be divided into _Hellenists_ and _Nazarenes_. Himself,
for instance, he looked upon as a well-fed Hellenist, while Börne was a
Nazarene, an ascetic. It is interesting, and bears upon our subject,
that most of the verdicts, views, and witticisms which Heine fathers
upon Börne in the famous imaginary conversation in the Frankfort
_Judengasse_, might have been uttered by Heine himself. In fact, many of
them are repeated, partly in the same or in similar words, in the
jottings found after his death.

This conversation is represented as having taken place during the Feast
of _Chanukka_. Heine who, as said above, took pleasure at that time in
impersonating a Hellenist, gets Börne to explain to him that this feast
was instituted to commemorate the victory of the valiant Maccabees over
the king of Syria. After expatiating on the heroism of the Maccabees,
and the cowardice of modern Jews, Börne says:[103]

"Baptism is the order of the day among the wealthy Jews. The evangel
vainly announced to the poor of Judæa now flourishes among the rich. Its
acceptance is self-deception, if not a lie, and as hypocritical
Christianity contrasts sharply with the old Adam, who will crop out,
these people lay themselves open to unsparing ridicule.--In the streets
of Berlin I saw former daughters of Israel wear crosses about their
necks longer than their noses, reaching to their very waists. They
carried evangelical prayer books, and were discussing the magnificent
sermon just heard at Trinity church. One asked the other where she had
gone to communion, and all the while their breath smelt. Still more
disgusting was the sight of dirty, bearded, malodorous Polish Jews,
hailing from Polish sewers, saved for heaven by the Berlin Society for
the Conversion of Jews, and in turn preaching Christianity in their
slovenly jargon. Such Polish vermin should certainly be baptized with
cologne instead of ordinary water."

This is to be taken as an expression of Heine's own feelings, which come
out plainly, when, "persistently loyal to Jewish customs," he eats,
"with good appetite, yes, with enthusiasm, with devotion, with
conviction," _Shalet_, the famous Jewish dish, about which he says:
"This dish is delicious, and it is a subject for painful regret that
the Church, indebted to Judaism for so much that is good, has failed to
introduce _Shalet_. This should be her object in the future. If ever she
falls on evil times, if ever her most sacred symbols lose their virtue,
then the Church will resort to _Shalet_, and the faithless peoples will
crowd into her arms with renewed appetite. At all events the Jews will
then join the Church from conviction, for it is clear that it is only
_Shalet_ that keeps them in the old covenant. Börne assures me that
renegades who have accepted the new dispensation feel a sort of
home-sickness for the synagogue when they but smell _Shalet_, so that
_Shalet_ may be called the Jewish _ranz des vaches_."

Heine forgot that in another place he had uttered this witticism in his
own name. He long continued to take peculiar pleasure in his dogmatic
division of humanity into two classes, the lean and the fat, or rather,
the class that continually gets thinner, and the class which, beginning
with modest dimensions, gradually attains to corpulency. Only too soon
the poet was made to understand the radical falseness of his definition.
A cold February morning of 1848 brought him a realizing sense of his
fatal mistake. Sick and weary, the poet was taking his last walk on the
boulevards, while the mob of the revolution surged in the streets of
Paris. Half blind, half paralyzed, leaning heavily on his cane, he
sought to extricate himself from the clamorous crowd, and finally found
refuge in the Louvre, almost empty during the days of excitement. With
difficulty he dragged himself to the hall of the gods and goddesses of
antiquity, and suddenly came face to face with the ideal of beauty, the
smiling, witching Venus of Milo, whose charms have defied time and
mutilation. Surprised, moved, almost terrified, he reeled to a chair,
tears, hot and bitter, coursing down his cheeks. A smile was hovering on
the beautiful lips of the goddess, parted as if by living breath, and at
her feet a luckless victim was writhing. A single moment revealed a
world of misery. Driven by a consciousness of his fate, Heine wrote in
his "Confessions": "In May of last year I was forced to take to my bed,
and since then I have not risen. I confess frankly that meanwhile a
great change has taken place in me. I no longer am a fat Hellenist, the
freest man since Goethe, a jolly, somewhat corpulent Hellenist, with a
contemptuous smile for lean Jews--I am only a poor Jew, sick unto death,
a picture of gaunt misery, an unhappy being."

This startling change was coincident with the first symptoms of his
disease, and kept pace with it. The pent-up forces of faith pressed to
his bedside; religious conversations, readings from the Bible,
reminiscences of his youth, of his Jewish friends, filled his time
almost entirely. Alfred Meissner has culled many interesting data from
his conversations with the poet. For instance, on one occasion Heine
breaks out with:[104]

"Queer people this! Downtrodden for thousands of years, weeping always,
suffering always, abandoned always by its God, yet clinging to Him
tenaciously, loyally, as no other under the sun. Oh, if martyrdom,
patience, and faith in despite of trial, can confer a patent of
nobility, then this people is noble beyond many another.--It would have
been absurd and petty, if, as people accuse me, I had been ashamed of
being a Jew. Yet it were equally ludicrous for me to call myself a
Jew.--As I instinctively hold up to unending scorn whatever is evil,
timeworn, absurd, false, and ludicrous, so my nature leads me to
appreciate the sublime, to admire what is great, and to extol every
living force." Heine had spoken so much with deep earnestness. Jestingly
he added: "Dear friend, if little Weill should visit us, you shall have
another evidence of my reverence for hoary Mosaism. Weill formerly was
precentor at the synagogue. He has a ringing tenor, and chants Judah's
desert songs according to the old traditions, ranging from the simple
monotone to the exuberance of Old Testament cadences. My wife, who has
not the slightest suspicion that I am a Jew, is not a little astonished
by this peculiar musical wail, this trilling and cadencing. When Weill
sang for the first time, Minka, the poodle, crawled into hiding under
the sofa, and Cocotte, the polly, made an attempt to throttle himself
between the bars of his cage. 'M. Weill, M. Weill!' Mathilde cried
terror-stricken, 'pray do not carry the joke too far.' But Weill
continued, and the dear girl turned to me, and asked imploringly:
'Henri, pray tell me what sort of songs these are.' 'They are our
German folk songs,' said I, and I have obstinately stuck to that

Meissner reports an amusing conversation with Madame Mathilde about the
friends of the family, whom the former by their peculiarities recognized
as Jews. "What!" cried Mathilde, "Jews? They are Jews?" "Of course,
Alexander Weill is a Jew, he told me so himself;--why he was going to be
a rabbi." "But the rest, all the rest? For instance, there is Abeles,
the name sounds so thoroughly German." "Rather say it sounds Greek,"
answered Meissner. "Yet I venture to insist that our friend Abeles has
as little German as Greek blood in his veins." "Very well! But
Jeiteles--Kalisch--Bamberg--Are they, too.... O no, you are mistaken,
not one is a Jew," cried Mathilde. "You will never make me believe that.
Presently you will make out Cohn to be a Jew. But Cohn is related to
Heine, and Heine is a Protestant." So Meissner found out that Heine had
never told his wife anything about his descent. He gravely answered:
"You are right. With regard to Cohn I was of course mistaken. Cohn is
certainly not a Jew."

These are mere jests. In point of fact, his friends' reports on the
religious attitude of the Heine of that period are of the utmost
interest. He once said to Ludwig Kalisch, who had told him that the
world was all agog over his conversion:[105] "I do not make a secret of
my Jewish allegiance, to which I have not returned, because I never
abjured it. I was not baptized from aversion to Judaism, and my
professions of atheism were never serious. My former friends, the
Hegelians, have turned out scamps. Human misery is too great for men to
do without faith."

The completest picture of the transformation, truer than any given in
letters, reports, or reminiscences, is in his last two productions, the
_Romanzero_ and the "Confessions." There can be no more explicit
description of the poet's conversion than is contained in these
"confessions." During his sickness he sought a palliative for his
pains--in the Bible. With a melancholy smile his mind reverted to the
memories of his youth, to the heroism which is the underlying principle
of Judaism. The Psalmist's consolations, the elevating principles laid
down in the Pentateuch, exerted a powerful attraction upon him, and
filled his soul with exalted thoughts, shaped into words in the
"Confessions":[106] "Formerly I felt little affection for Moses,
probably because the Hellenic spirit was dominant within me, and I could
not pardon the Jewish lawgiver for his intolerance of images, and every
sort of plastic representation. I failed to see that despite his hostile
attitude to art, Moses was himself a great artist, gifted with the true
artist's spirit. Only in him, as in his Egyptian neighbors, the artistic
instinct was exercised solely upon the colossal and the indestructible.
But unlike the Egyptians he did not shape his works of art out of brick
or granite. His pyramids were built of men, his obelisks hewn out of
human material. A feeble race of shepherds he transformed into a people
bidding defiance to the centuries--a great, eternal, holy people, God's
people, an exemplar to all other peoples, the prototype of mankind: he
created Israel. With greater justice than the Roman poet could this
artist, the son of Amram and Jochebed the midwife, boast of having
erected a monument more enduring than brass.

As for the artist, so I lacked reverence for his work, the Jews,
doubtless on account of my Greek predilections, antagonistic to Judaic
asceticism. My love for Hellas has since declined. Now I understand that
the Greeks were only beautiful youths, while the Jews have always been
men, powerful, inflexible men, not only in early times, to-day, too, in
spite of eighteen hundred years of persecution and misery. I have learnt
to appreciate them, and were pride of birth not absurd in a champion of
the revolution and its democratic principles, the writer of these
leaflets would boast that his ancestors belonged to the noble house of
Israel, that he is a descendant of those martyrs to whom the world owes
God and morality, and who have fought and bled on every battlefield of

In view of such avowals, Heine's return to Judaism is an indubitable
fact, and when one of his friends anxiously inquired about his relation
to God, he could well answer with a smile: _Dieu me pardonnera; c'est
son metier._ In those days Heine made his will, his true, genuine will,
to have been the first to publish which the present writer will always
consider the distinction of his life. The introduction reads: "I die in
the belief in one God, Creator of heaven and earth, whose mercy I
supplicate in behalf of my immortal soul. I regret that in my writings I
sometimes spoke of sacred things with levity, due not so much to my own
inclination, as to the spirit of my age. If unwittingly I have offended
against good usage and morality, which constitute the true essence of
all monotheistic religions, may God and men forgive me."

With this confession on his lips Heine passed away, dying in the thick
of the fight, his very bier haunted by the spirits of antagonism and

    "Greek joy in life, belief in God of Jew,
    And twining in and out like arabesques,
    Ivy tendrils gently clasp the two."

In Heine's character, certainly, there were sharp contrasts. Now we
behold him a Jew, now a Christian, now a Hellenist, now a romanticist;
to-day laughing, to-morrow weeping, to-day the prophet of the modern
era, to-morrow the champion of tradition. Who knows the man? Yet who
that steps within the charmed circle of his life can resist the
temptation to grapple with the enigma?

One of the best known of his poems is the plaint:

    "Mass for me will not be chanted,
      _Kadosh_ not be said,
    Naught be sung, and naught recited,
      Round my dying bed."

The poet's prophecy has not come true. As this tribute has in spirit
been laid upon his grave, so always thousands will devote kindly thought
to him, recalling in gentleness how he struggled and suffered, wrestled
and aspired; how, at the dawn of the new day, enthusiastically
proclaimed by him, his spirit fled aloft to regions where doubts are set
at rest, hopes fulfilled, and visions made reality.


Ladies and Gentlemen:--Let the emotions aroused by the notes of the
great masters, now dying away upon the air, continue to reverberate in
your souls. More forcibly and more eloquently than my weak words, they
express the thoughts and the feelings appropriate to this solemn

A festival like ours has rarely been celebrated in Israel. For nearly
two thousand years the muse of Jewish melody was silent; during the
whole of that period, a new chord was but seldom won from the unused
lyre. The Talmud[108] has a quaint tale on the subject: Higros the
Levite living at the time of the decadence of Israel's nationality, was
the last skilled musician, and he refused to teach his art. When he sang
his exquisite melodies, touching his mouth with his thumb, and striking
the strings with his fingers, it is said that his priestly mates,
transported by the magic power of his art, fell prostrate, and wept.
Under the Oriental trappings of this tale is concealed regretful anguish
over the decay of old Hebrew song. The altar at Jerusalem was
demolished, and the songs of Zion, erst sung by the Levitical choirs
under the leadership of the Korachides, were heard no longer. The
silence was unbroken, until, in our day, a band of gifted men disengaged
the old harps from the willows, and once more lured the ancient melodies
from their quavering strings.

Towering head and shoulders above most of the group of restorers is he
in whose honor we are assembled, to whom we bring greeting and
congratulation. To you, then, Herr Lewandowski, I address myself to
offer you the deep-felt gratitude and the cordial wishes of your
friends, of the Berlin community, and, I may add, of the whole of
Israel. You were appointed for large tasks--large tasks have you
successfully performed. At a time when Judaism was at a low ebb, only
scarcely discernible indications promising a brighter future, Providence
sent you to occupy a guide's position in the most important, the
largest, and the most intelligent Jewish community of Germany. For fifty
years your zeal, your diligence, your faithfulness, your devotion, your
affectionate reverence for our past, and your exalted gifts, have graced
the office. Were testimony unto your gifts and character needed, it
would be given by this day's celebration, proving, as it does, that your
brethren have understood the underlying thought of your activities, have
grasped their bearing upon Jewish development, and have appreciated
their influence.

You have remodelled the divine service of the Jewish synagogue,
superadding elements of devotion and sacredness. Under your touch old
lays have clothed themselves with a modern garb--a new rhythm vibrates
through our historic melodies, keener strength in the familiar words,
heightened dignity in the cherished songs. Two generations and all parts
of the world have hearkened to your harmonies, responding to them with
tears of joy or sorrow, with feelings stirred from the recesses of the
heart. To your music have listened entranced the boy and the girl on the
day of declaring their allegiance to the covenant of the fathers; the
youth and the maiden in life's most solemn hour; men and women in all
the sacred moments of the year, on days of mourning and of festivity.

A quarter of a century ago, when you celebrated the end of twenty-five
years of useful work, a better man stood here, and spoke to you. Leopold
Zunz on that occasion said to you: "Old thoughts have been transformed
by you into modern emotions, and long stored words seasoned with your
melodies have made delicious food."

This is your share in the revival of Jewish poesy, and what you have
resuscitated, and remodelled, and re-created, will endure, echoing and
re-echoing through all the lands. In you Higros the Levite has been
restored to us. But your melodies will never sink into oblivious
silence. They have been carried by an honorable body of disciples to
distant lands, beyond the ocean, to communities in the remote countries
of civilization. Thus they have become the perpetual inheritance of the
congregation of Jacob, the people that has ever loved and wooed music,
only direst distress succeeding in flinging the pall of silence over
song and melody.

Holy Writ places the origin of music in the primitive days of man,
tersely pointing out, at the same time, music's conciliatory charms: it
is the descendant of Cain, the fratricide, a son of Lemech, the slayer
of a man to his own wounding, who is said to be the "father of all such
as play on the harp and guitar" (_Kinnor_ and _Ugab_). Another of
Lemech's sons was the first artificer in every article of copper and
iron, the inventor of weapons of war, as the former was the inventor of
stringed instruments. Both used brass, the one to sing, the other to
fight. So music sprang from sorrow and combat. Song and roundelay,
timbrels and harp, accompanied our forefathers on their wanderings, and
preceded the armed men into battle. So, too, the returning victor was
greeted, and in the Temple on Moriah's crest, joyful songs of gratitude
extolled the grace of the Lord. From the harp issued the psalm dedicated
to the glory of God--love of art gave rise to the psalter, a song-book
for the nations, and its author David may be called the founder of the
national and Temple music of the ancient Hebrews. With his song, he
banished the evil spirit from Saul's soul; with his skill on the
psaltery, he defeated his enemies, and he led the jubilant chorus in the
Holy City singing to the honor and glory of the Most High.

Compare the Hebrew and the Hellenic music of ancient times: Orpheus with
his music charms wild beasts; David's subdues demons. By means of
Amphion's lyre, living walls raise themselves; Israel's cornets make
level the ramparts of Jericho. Arion's melodies lure dolphins from the
sea; Hebrew music infuses into the prophet's disciples the spirit of the
Lord. These are the wondrous effects of music in Israel and in Hellas,
the foremost representatives of ancient civilization. Had the one united
with the other, what celestial harmonies might have resulted! But later,
in the time of Macedonian imperialism, when Alexandria and Jerusalem
met, the one stood for enervated paganism, the other for a Judaism of
compromise, and a union of such tones produces no harmonious chords.

But little is known of the ancient Hebrew music of the Temple, of the
singers, the songs, the melodies, and the instruments. The Hebrews had
songs and instrumental music on all festive, solemn occasions,
particularly during the divine service. At their national celebrations,
in their homes, at their diversions, even on their journeys and their
pilgrimages to the sanctuary, their hymns were at once religious,
patriotic, and social.[109] They had the viol and the cithara, flutes,
cymbals, and castanets, and, if our authorities interpret correctly, an
organ (_magrepha_), whose volume of sound surpassed description. When,
on the Day of Atonement, its strains pealed through the chambers of the
Temple, they were heard in the whole of Jerusalem, and all the people
bowed in humble adoration before the Lord of hosts. The old music ceased
with the overthrow of the Jewish state. The Levites hung their harps on
the willows of Babylon's streams, and every entreaty for the "words of
song" was met by the reproachful inquiry: "How should we sing the song
of the Lord on the soil of the stranger?" Higros the Levite was the last
of Israelitish tone-artists.

Israel set out on his fateful wanderings, his unparalleled pilgrimage,
through the lands and the centuries, along an endless, thorny path,
drenched with blood, watered with tears, across nations and thrones,
lonely, terrible, sublime with the stern sublimity of tragic scenes.
They are not the sights and experiences to inspire joyous songs--melody
is muffled by terror. Only lamentation finds voice, an endless,
oppressive, anxious wail, sounding adown, through two thousand years,
like a long-drawn sigh, reverberating in far-reaching echoes: "How long,
O Lord, how long!" and "When shall a redeemer arise for this people?"
These elegiac refrains Israel never wearies of repeating on all his
journeyings. Occasionally a fitful gleam of sunlight glides into the
crowded Jewish quarters, and at once a more joyous note is heard, rising
triumphant above the doleful plaint, a note which asserts itself
exultingly on the celebration in memory of the Maccabean heroes, on the
days of _Purim_, at wedding banquets, at the love-feasts of the pious
brotherhood. This fusion of melancholy and of rejoicing is the keynote
of mediæval Jewish music growing out of the grotesque contrasts of
Jewish history. Yet, despite its romantic woe, it is informed with the
spirit of a remote past, making it the legitimate offspring of ancient
Hebrew music, whose characteristics, to be sure, we arrive at only by
guesswork. Of that mediæval music of ours, the poet's words are true:
"It rejoices so pathetically, it laments so joyfully."

Whoever has heard, will never forget Israel's melodies, breaking forth
into rejoicing, then cast down with sadness: flinging out their notes to
the skies, then sinking into an abyss of grief: now elated, now
oppressed; now holding out hope, now moaning forth sorrow and pain. They
convey the whole of Judah's history--his glorious past, his mournful
present, his exalted future promised by God. As their tones flood our
soul, a succession of visions passes before our mental view: the Temple
in all its unexampled splendor, the exultant chorus of Levites, the
priests discharging their holy office, the venerable forms of the
patriarchs, the lawgiver-guide of the people, prophets with uplifted
finger of warning, worthy rabbis, pale-faced martyrs of the middle ages;
but the melodies conjuring before our minds all these shadowy figures
have but one burden: "How should we sing the song of the Lord on the
soil of the stranger?"

That is the ever-recurring _motif_ of the Jewish music of the middle
ages. But the blending of widely different emotions is not favorable in
the creation of melody. Secular occurrences set their seal upon
religious music, of which some have so high a conception as to call it
one of the seven liberal arts, or even to extol it beyond poetry. Jacob
Levi of Mayence (Maharil), living at the beginning of the fifteenth
century, is considered the founder of German synagogue music, but his
productions remained barren of poetic and devotional results. He drew
his best subjects from alien sources. At the time of the Italian
Renaissance, music had so firmly established itself in the appreciation
of the people that a preacher, Judah Muscato, devoted the first of his
celebrated sermons to music, assigning to it a high mission among the
arts. He interpreted the legend of David's Æolian harp as a beautiful
allegory. Basing his explanation on a verse in the Psalms, he showed
that it symbolizes a spiritual experience of the royal bard. Another
writer, Abraham ben David Portaleone, found the times still riper; he
could venture to write a theory of music, as taught him by his teachers,
Samuel Arkevolti and Menahem Lonsano, both of whom had strongly opposed
the use of certain secular melodies then current in Italy, Germany,
France, and Turkey for religious songs. Among Jewish musicians in the
latter centuries of the middle ages, the most prominent was Solomon
Rossi. He, too, failed to exercise influence on the shaping of Jewish
music, which more and more delighted in grotesqueness and aberrations
from good taste. The origin of synagogue melodies was attributed to
remoter and remoter periods; the most soulful hymns were adapted to
frivolous airs. Later still, at a time when German music had risen to
its zenith, when Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven flourished,
the Jewish strolling musician _Klesmer_, a mendicant in the world of
song as in the world of finance, was wandering through the provinces
with his two mates.

Suddenly a new era dawned for Israel, too. The sun of humanity sent a
few of its rays into the squalid Ghetto. Its walls fell before the
trumpet blast of deliverance. On all sides sounded the cry for liberty.
The brotherhood of man, embracing all, did not exclude storm-baptized
Israel. The old synagogue had to keep pace with modern demands, and was
arrayed in a new garb. Among those who designed and fashioned the new
garment, he is prominent in whose honor we have met to-day.

From our short journey through the centuries of music, we have returned
to him who has succeeded in the great work of restoring to its honorable
place the music of the synagogue, sorely missed, ardently longed for,
and bringing back to us old songs in a new guise. An old song and a new
melody! The old song of abiding love, loyalty, and resignation to the
will of God! His motto was the beautiful verse: "My strength and my song
is the Lord"; and his unchanging refrain, the jubilant exclamation:
"Blessed be thou, fair Musica!" A wise man once said: "Hold in high
honor our Lady of Music!" The wise man was Martin Luther--another
instance this of the conciliatory power of music, standing high above
the barriers raised by religious differences. It is worthy of mention,
on this occasion, that at the four hundredth anniversary celebration in
honor of Martin Luther, in the Sebaldus church at Nuremberg, the most
Protestant of the cities of Germany, called by Luther himself "the eye
of God," a psalm of David was sung to music composed by our guest of the

"Hold in high honor our Lady of Music!" We will be admonished by the
behest, and give honor to the artist by whose fostering care the music
of the synagogue enjoys a new lease of life; who, with pious zeal, has
collected our dear old melodies, and has sung them to us with all the
ardor and power with which God in His kindness endowed him.

    "The sculptor must simulate life, of the poet I demand intelligence;
    The soul can be expressed only by Polyhymnia!"

An orphan, song wandered hither and thither through the world, met,
after many days, by the musician, who compassionately adopted it, and
clothed it with his melodies. On the pinions of music, it now soars
whithersoever it listeth, bringing joy and blessing wherever it alights.
"The old song, the new melody!" Hark! through the silence of the night
in this solemn moment, one of those old songs, clad by our _maestro_ in
a new melody, falls upon our ears: "I remember unto thee the kindness of
thy youth, the love of thy espousals, thy going after me in the
wilderness, through a land that is not sown!"

Hearken! Can we not distinguish in its notes, as they fill our ears, the
presage of a music of the future, of love and good-will? We seem to hear
the rustle of the young leaves of a new spring, the resurrection
foretold thousands of years agone by our poets and prophets. We see
slowly dawning that great day on which mankind, awakened from the fitful
sleep of error and delusion, will unite in the profession of the creed
of brotherly love, and Israel's song will be mankind's song, myriads of
voices in unison sending aloft to the skies the psalm of praise:
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!


Aaron, medical writer, 79

Abbahu, Haggadist, 21

Abbayu, rabbi, quoted, 232-233

Abina, rabbi, 19

Abitur, poet, 24

Aboab, Isaac, writer, 45, 130

Aboab, Samuel, Bible scholar, 45

Abrabanel, Isaac, scholar and statesman, 42, 99

Abrabanel, Judah, 42, 95

Abraham in Africa, 255

Abraham Bedersi, poet, 171

Abraham ben Chiya, scientist, 83, 93

Abraham ben David Portaleone, musician, 376

Abraham de Balmes, physician, 95

Abraham deï Mansi, Talmudist, 116

Abraham ibn Daud, philosopher, 35

Abraham ibn Ezra, exegete, 36
  mathematician, 83

Abraham ibn Sahl, poet, 34, 88

Abraham Judæus. See Abraham ibn Ezra

Abraham of Sarteano, poet, 224

Abraham Portaleone, archæolegist, 45, 97

Abraham Powdermaker, legend of, 285-286

Abt and Mendelssohn, 314

Abyssinia, the Ten Tribes in, 262-263

Ackermann, Rachel, novelist, 119

Acosta, Uriel, alluded to, 100

_Acta Esther et Achashverosh_, drama, 244

Actors, Jewish, 232, 246, 247-248

Adia, poet, 24

Adiabene, Jews settle in, 251

Æsop's fables translated into Hebrew, 34

"A few words to the Jews by one of themselves," by Charlotte
    Montefiore, 133

Afghanistan, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Africa, interest in, 249-250
  in the Old Testament, 255
  the Talmud on, 254
  the Ten Tribes in, 262

Agau spoken by the Falashas, 265

Aguilar, Grace, author, 134-137
  testimonial to, 136-137

"Ahasverus," farce, 244

Ahaz, king, alluded to, 250

Akiba ben Joseph, rabbi, 19, 58
  quoted, 253, 256

Albert of Prussia, alluded to, 288

Albertus Magnus and Maimonides, 156, 164
  philosopher, 82
  proscribes the Talmud, 85

Albo, Joseph, philosopher, 42

Al-Chazari, by Yehuda Halevi, 31
  commentary on, 298

Alemanno, Jochanan, Kabbalist, 95

Alessandro Farnese, alluded to, 98

Alexander III, pope, and Jewish diplomats, 99

Alexander the Great, 229, 254

Alexandria, centre of Jewish life, 17
  philosophy in, 75

Alfonsine Tables compiled, 92

Alfonso V of Portugal and Isaac Abrabanel, 99

Alfonso X, of Castile, patron of Jewish scholars, 92, 93

Alfonso XI, of Castile, 170, 260

Alityros, actor, 232

Alkabez, Solomon, poet, 43

_Alliance Israélite Universelle_, and the Falashas, 264

"Almagest" by Ptolemy translated, 79
  read by Maimonides, 159

_Almansor_ by Heine, 347

Almohades and Maimonides, 148

_Altweiberdeutsch._ See _Judendeutsch_

Amatus Lusitanus, physician, 42, 97

Amharic spoken by the Falashas, 265

Amoraïm, Speakers, 58

Amos, prophet, alluded to, 251

Amsterdam, Marrano centre, 128-129

Anahuac and the Ten Tribes, 259

Anatoli. See Jacob ben Abba-Mari ben Anatoli

Anatomy in the Talmud, 77

Anna, Rashi's granddaughter, 118

Anti-Maimunists, 39-40

Antiochus Epiphanes, alluded to, 193

Antonio di Montoro, troubadour, 97, 180-181

Antonio dos Reys, on Isabella Correa, 129

Antonio Enriquez di Gomez. See Enriquez, Antonio.

Antonio Jose de Silva, dramatist, 100, 236-237

Aquinas, Thomas, philosopher, 82
  and Maimonides, 156, 164
  under Gabirol's influence, 94
  works of, translated, 86

Arabia, Jews settle in, 250-251
  the Ten Tribes in, 256-257

Arabs influence Jews, 80
  relation of, to Jews, 22

Argens, d', and Mendelssohn, 303

Aristeas, Neoplatonist, 17

Aristobulus, Aristotelian, 17

Aristotle, alluded to, 250
  and Maimonides, 156
  interpreted by Jews, 85
  quoted, 249

Arkevolti, Samuel, grammarian, 376

Armenia, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Arnstein, Benedict David, dramatist, 245

Art among Jews, 102

"Art of Carving and Serving at Princely Boards, The" translated, 91

Arthurian legends in Hebrew, 87

Ascarelli, Deborah, poetess, 44, 124

Asher ben Yehuda, hero of a romance, 34, 213

Ashi, compiler of the Babylonian Talmud, 19

Ashkenasi, Hannah, authoress, 120

_Asireh ha-Tikwah_, by Joseph Pensa, 237-238

_Asiya_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Astruc, Bible critic, 13

Auerbach, Berthold, novelist, 49, 50
  quoted, 303

Auerbach, J. L., preacher, 322

_Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung_ and Heine, 340

Avenare. See Abraham ibn Ezra

Avencebrol. See Gabirol, Solomon

Avendeath, Johannes, translator of "The Fount of Life," 26

Averröes and Maimonides, 163-164

Avicebron. See Gabirol, Solomon

Avicenna and Maimonides, 156, 158

Azariah de Rossi, scholar, 45

_Azila_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Barrios, de, Daniel, critic, 47, 129

Barruchius, Valentin, romance writer, 171

Bartholdy, Salomon, quoted, 308

Bartolocci, Hebrew scholar, 48

Bassista, Sabbataï, bibliographer, 47

Bath Halevi, Talmudist, 117

Bechaï ibn Pakuda, philosopher, 35, 137

Beck. K., poet, 49

_Beena_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Beer, Jacob Herz, establishes a synagogue, 322

Beer, M., poet, 49

Behaim, Martin, scientist, 96

Belmonte, Bienvenida Cohen, poetess, 130

"Belshazzar" by Heine, 344

Bendavid. See Lazarus ben David

"Beni Israel" and the Ten Tribes, 259

Benjamin of Tudela, traveller, 37, 258
  quoted, 263

Berachya ben Natronaï (Hanakdan), fabulist, 34, 88

Beria, a character in Immanuel Romi's poem, 221-222

_Beria_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Bernhard, employer of Mendelssohn, 298, 300, 304

Bernhardt, Sarah, actress, 246

Bernstein, Aaron, Ghetto novelist, 50
  quoted, 272

Bernstorff, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Berschadzky on Saul Wahl, 282

Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meïr, 110-112

Bible. See Old Testament, The

Bible critics, 12, 13, 14

Bible dictionary, Jewish German, 100

"Birth and Death" from the Haggada, 66

_Biurists_, the Mendelssohn school, 309

Blackcoal, a character in "The Gift of Judah," 214

Blanche de Bourbon, wife of Pedro I, 169

Bleichroeder quoted, 296-297

Bloch, Pauline, writer, 140

Boccaccio, alluded to, 35

Böckh, alluded to, 333

Bonet di Lattes, astronomer, 95

Bonifacio, Balthasar, accuser of Sara Sullam, 127

"Book of Diversions, The" by Joseph ibn Sabara, 214

"Book of Samuel," by Litte of Ratisbon, 119, 120

"Book of Songs" by Heine, 353

Börne, Ludwig, quoted, 313-314, 359-361

Borromeo, cardinal, alluded to, 98

Brinkmann, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Bruno di Lungoborgo, work of, translated, 86

Bruno, Giordano, philosopher, 82

_Buch der Lieder_ by Heine, 353

Buffon quoted, 89

Büschenthal, L. M., dramatist, 245

Buxtorf, father and son, scholars, 48
  translates "The Guide of the Perplexed," 155

Calderon, alluded to, 239

Calderon, the Jewish, 100

Calendar compiled by the rabbis, 77

Caliphs and Jewish diplomats, 98

Campe, Joachim, on Mendelssohn, 314-315

Cardinal, Peire, troubadour, 171-172

Casimir the Great, Jews under, 286

Cassel, D., scholar, 49
    quoted, 19-20

Castro de, Orobio, author, 47

Çeba, Ansaldo, and Sara Sullam, 125-128

_Celestina_, by Rodrigo da Cota, 97, 235

Chananel, alluded to, 257

Chanukka, story of, 359-360

Charlemagne and Jewish diplomats, 98

Charles of Anjou, patron of Hebrew learning, 92

Chasan, Bella, historian, 120

Chasdaï ben Shaprut, statesman, 82

Chasdaï Crescas, philosopher, 42, 93-94

Chassidism, a form of Kabbalistic Judaism, 46

_Chesed_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Children in the Talmud, 63-64

Chiya, rabbi, 19

Chiya bar Abba, Halachist, 21

Chmielnicki, Bogdan, and the Jews, 288

_Chochma_, Kabbalistic term, 41

_Chotham Tochnith_ by Abraham Bedersi, 171

"Chronicle of the Cid," the first, by a Jew, 90, 170

Cicero and the drama, 232

Clement VI, pope, and Levi ben Gerson, 91

Cochin, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Cohen, friend of Heine, 350

Cohen, Abraham, Talmudist, 118

Cohen, Joseph, historian, 44

Coins, Polish, 286

Columbus, alluded to, 181
  and Jews, 96

Comedy, nature of, 195-196

Commendoni, legate, on the Polish Jews, 287

"Commentaries on Aristotle" by Averroës, 163

"Commentary on Ecclesiastes" by Obadiah Sforno, 95

Commerce developed by Jews, 101-102

_Comte Lyonnais, Palanus_, romance, 90, 171

"Confessions" by Heine, quoted, 365-366

Conforte, David, historian, 43

_Consejos y Documentos al Rey Dom Pedro_ by Santob de Carrion, 173-174

_Consolaçam as Tribulações de Ysrael_ by Samuel Usque, 44

Constantine, translator, 81

"Contemplation of the World" by Yedaya Penini, 40

"Contributions to History and Literature" by Zunz, 337

Copernicus and Jewish astronomers, 86

Correa, Isabella, poetess, 129

Cota, da, Rodrigo, dramatist, 97, 235

"Counsel and Instruction to King Dom Pedro" by Santob de Carrion, 173-174

"Court Secrets" by Rachel Ackermann, 119

Cousin, Victor, on Spinoza, 145

Creation, Maimonides' theory of, 160

Creed, the Jewish, by Maimonides, 151-152

Creizenach, Th., poet, 49

Cromwell, Oliver, and Manasseh ben Israel, 99

_Dalalat al-Haïrin_, "Guide of the Perplexed," 154

Damm, teacher of Mendelssohn, 299

"Dance of Death," attributed to Santob, 174

Daniel, Immanuel Romi's guide in Paradise, 223

_Dansa General_, attributed to Santob, 174

Dante and Immanuel Romi, 35, 89, 220, 223

Dante, the Hebrew, 124

"Dark Continent, The." See Africa

David, philosopher, 83

David ben Levi, Talmudist, 46

David ben Yehuda, poet, 223

David d'Ascoli, physician, 97

David della Rocca, alluded to, 124

David de Pomis, physician, 45, 97

Davison, Bogumil, actor, 246

Deborah, as poetess, 106-107

_De Causis_, by David, 83

Decimal fractions first mentioned, 91

"Deeds of King David and Goliath, The," drama, 244

Delitzsch, Franz, quoted, 24

Del Medigo, Elias. See Elias del Medigo and Joseph del Medigo

De Rossi, Hebrew scholar, 48

Deutsch, Caroline, poetess, 139, 142-143

Deutsch, Emanuel, on the Talmud, 68-70

_Deutsche Briefe_ by Zunz, 337

_Dialoghi di Amore_ by Judah Abrabanel, 42, 95

_Dichter und Kaufmann_ by Berthold Auerbach, 49

_Die Freimütigen_, Zunz contributor to, 330

_Die gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden_ by Zunz, 48, 333-335

Diez, alluded to, 333

Dingelstedt, Franz, quoted, 319

Dioscorides, botanist, 82

_Disciplina clericalis_, a collection of tales, 89, 171

_Divina Commedia_, travestied, 35
  imitated, 89, 124

_Doctor angelicus_, Thomas Aquinas, 94

_Doctor Perplexorum_, "Guide of the Perplexed," 154, 155

Document hypothesis of the Old Testament, 13

Dolce, scholar and martyr, 119

Donnolo, Sabattaï, physician, 82

Dorothea of Kurland and Mendelssohn, 315

Dotina, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Drama, the, among the ancient Hebrews, 229
    classical Hebrew, 244-245, 248
    first Hebrew, published, 239
    first Jewish, 234
    Jewish German, 246-247

Drama, the German, Jews in, 245
    the Portuguese, Jews in, 236-237, 238
    the Spanish, Jews in, 235-236

Dramatists, Jewish, 230, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 244, 245, 248

Drinking songs, 200-201, 204, 205, 209, 212-213

Dubno, Solomon, commentator, 309

Dukes, L., scholar, 49

Dunash ben Labrat, alluded to, 257

"Duties of the Heart" by Bechaï, 137

_Eben Bochan_, by Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, 216-219

Egidio de Viterbo, cardinal, 44

Eibeschütz, Jonathan, Talmudist, 47

Eldad ha-Dani, traveller, 37, 80, 257-258

Elias del Medigo, scholar, 44, 94

Elias Kapsali, scholar, 98

Elias Levita, grammarian, 44, 95

Elias Mizrachi, scholar, 98

Elias of Genzano, poet, 224

Elias Wilna, Talmudist, 46

Eliezer, rabbi, quoted, 253

Eliezer ha-Levi, Talmudist, 36

Eliezer of Metz, Talmudist, 36

El Muallima, Karaite, 117

_Em beyisrael_, Deborah, 107

Emden, Jacob, Talmudist, 47

Emin Pasha, alluded to, 250

"Enforced Apostasy," by Maimonides, 152

Engel, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Enriquez, Antonio, di Gomez, dramatist, 100, 236

Enriquez, Isabella, poetess, 130

_En-Sof_, Kabbalistic term, 40, 41

Ephraim, the Israelitish kingdom, 251

Ephraim, Veitel, financier, 304, 316

Erasmus, quoted, 44

_Esheth Lapidoth_, Deborah, 106

Eskeles, banker, alluded to, 305

Esterka, supposed mistress of Casimir the Great, 286

"Esther," by Solomon Usque, 235

Esthori Hafarchi, topographer, 93

Ethiopia. See Abyssinia

Euchel, Isaac, Hebrew writer, 48, 309

Eupolemos, historian, 17

Euripides, alluded to, 230

Ewald, Bible critic, 14

"Exodus from Egypt, The" by Ezekielos, 230

Ezekiel, prophet, quoted, 252, 294-295

Ezekielos, dramatist, 17, 230

Ezra, alluded to, 253

Fables translated by Jews, 79, 86-87, 88

Fagius, Paul, Hebrew scholar, 44, 95

Falashas, the, and the missionaries, 263, 267
  and the Negus Theodore, 267
  customs of, 266
  described by Halévy, 264
  history of, 263
  intellectual eagerness of, 266, 268
  Messianic expectations of, 267-268
  religious customs of, 265-266

Faust of Saragossa, Gabirol, 199

_Faust_ translated into Hebrew, 248

Felix, Rachel, actress, 246

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and Isaac Abrabanel, 99

Ferrara, duke of, candidate in Poland, 278

Figo, Azariah, rabbi, 45

Fischels, Rosa, translator of the Psalms, 120

"Flaming Sword, The," by Abraham Bedersi, 171

"Flea Song" by Yehuda Charisi, 212

Fleck, actor, 311

Foa, Rebekah Eugenie, writer, 139

Folquet de Lunel, troubadour, 171-172

Fonseca Pina y Pimentel, de, Sara, poetess, 130

"Foundation of the Universe, The," by Isaac Israeli, 93

"Foundation of the World, The," by Moses Zacuto, 238-239

"Fount of Life, The," by Gabirol, 26

Fox fables translated, 79

Frank, Rabbi Dr., alluded to, 345

Fränkel, David, teacher of Mendelssohn, 293

Frankel, Z, scholar, 49

Frankl, L. A., poet, 49

Frank-Wolff, Ulla, writer, 139

Franzos, K. E., Ghetto novelist, 50

Frederick II, emperor, patron of Hebrew learning, 40, 85, 89, 92

Frederick the Great and Mendelssohn, 301-303
  and the Jews, 316-317

Freidank, German author, 185

Friedländer, David, disciple of Mendelssohn, 48, 317, 350

Fröhlich, Regina, writer, 131

Fürst, J., scholar, 49

Gabirol, Solomon, philosopher, 26-27, 82-83, 94
  poet, 24, 25-26, 27, 199

Gad, Esther, alluded to, 132

Galen and Gamaliel, 81
  works of, edited by Maimonides, 153

Gama, da, Vasco, and Jews, 96-97

Gamaliel, rabbi, 18, 77, 81

Gans, David, historian, 47

Gans, Edward, friend of Heine, 324, 346, 350

Gaspar, Jewish pilot, 96

Gayo, Isaac, physician, 86

Geiger, Abraham, scholar, 49

Geldern, van, Betty, mother of Heine, 341, 344

Geldern, van, Gottschalk, Heine's uncle, 341

Geldern, van, Isaac, Heine's grandfather, 341

Geldern, van, Lazarus, Heine's uncle, 341

Geldern, van, Simon, author, 341

Gentz, von, Friedrich, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Geometry in the Talmud, 77

German literature cultivated by Jews, 87

Gerson ben Solomon, scientist, 90

_Gesellschafter_, Zunz contributor to the, 330

_Ghedulla_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Ghemara, commentary on the Mishna, 60

Ghetto tales, 50

_Ghevoora_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Gideon, Jewish king in Abyssinia, 263

"Gift from a Misogynist, A," satire, by Yehuda ibn Sabbataï, 34, 214-216

Glaser, Dr. Edward, on the Falashas, 263

Goethe, alluded to, 314
  and Jewish literature, 103-104
  on Yedaya Penini, 40

Goldschmidt, Henriette, writer, 139

Goldschmidt, Johanna, writer, 139

Goldschmied, M., Ghetto novelist, 50

Goldsmid, Anna Maria, writer, 137

Goldsmid, Isaac Lyon, alluded to, 137

Gottloeber, A., dramatist, 248

Götz, Ella, translator, 120

Graetz, Heinrich, historian, 49
  quoted, 185

Graziano, Lazaro, dramatist, 235

Greece and Judæa contrasted, 194

Grimani, Dominico, cardinal, alluded to, 95

Grimm, alluded to, 333

Guarini, dramatist, 239

Gugenheim, Fromet, wife of Mendelssohn, 303
  quoted, 307

"Guide of the Perplexed, The," contents of, 157-163
  controversy over, 164-166
  English translation of, 155 (note)
  purpose of, 155

Gumpertz, Aaron, and Mendelssohn, 297, 299
  quoted, 298

Gundisalvi, Dominicus, translator of "The Fount of Life," 26

Günsburg, C., preacher, 322

Günsburg, Simon, confidant of Stephen Báthori, 287

"Gustavus Vasa" by Grace Aguilar, 134

Gutzkow, quoted, 306

Haggada and Halacha contrasted, 21, 60, 194-195

Haggada, the, characterized, 18, 54-55, 60-61, 64-70
  cosmopolitan, 33
  described by Heine, 20
  ethical sayings from, 61-63
  poetic quotations from, 65-68

Haggada, the, at the Passover service, 344-345

Haï, Gaon, 22

Halacha and Haggada contrasted, 21, 60, 194-195

Halacha, the, characterized, 18, 54-55
  subjective, 33

Halévy, Joseph, and the Falashas, 264
  quoted, 265-266

Halley's comet and Rabbi Joshua, 77

"Haman's Will and Death," drama, 244

Hamel, Glikel, historian, 120

Händele, daughter of Saul Wahl, 276

Hariri, Arabic poet, 32, 34 (note)

Haroun al Rashid, embassy to, 99

Hartmann, M., poet, 49

Hartog, Marian, writer, 137

Hartung, actor, 248

_Ha-Sallach_, Moses ibn Ezra, 205

Hebrew drama, first, published, 237

Hebrew language, plasticity of, 32-33

Hebrew studies among Christians, 44, 47-48, 95, 98

Heckscher, Fromet, ancestress of Heine, 341

Hegel and Heine, 346

Heine, Heinrich, poet, 49
  and Venus of Milo, 362
  appreciation of, 340
  characterized by Schopenhauer, 357-358
  character of, 367
  conversion of, 348-351
  family of, 341-342, 344
  Ghetto novelist, 50
  in Berlin, 346-347
  in Göttingen, 347-348
  in Paris, 358-359
  Jewish traits of, 345-348, 353-357
  on Gabirol, 25-26
  on the Jews, 362-363, 365-366
  on Yehuda Halevi, 27
  on Zunz, 327-328, 333
  quoted, 9, 20, 28, 206
  religious education of, 343
  return of, to Judaism, 366
  wife of, 363-364
  will of, 366-367

Heine, Mathilde, wife of Heinrich Heine, 363-364

Heine, Maximilian, quoted, 344

"Heine of the middle ages," Immanuel Romi, 219

Heine, Samson, father of Heinrich Heine, 341, 342

Heine, Solomon, uncle of Heinrich Heine, 345, 352

Hellenism and Judaism, 75-76

Hellenists, Heine on, 359, 362

Hennings, alluded to, 314

Henry of Anjou, election of, in Poland, 286-287

Herder, poet, and Mendelssohn, 314
  quoted, 296

Hermeneutics by Maimonides, 162-163

Herod and the stage, 230-231

Herrera, Abraham, Kabbalist, 99

Hertzveld, Estelle and Maria, writers, 140

Herz, Henriette, alluded to, 131, 133-346
  and Dorothea Mendelssohn, 306
  character of, 312-313
  _salon_ of, 311-314

Herz, Marcus, physicist, 310, 311

Herzberg-Fränkel, L., Ghetto novelist, 50

Herzfeld, L., scholar, 49

Hess, M., quoted, 109

"Highest Faith, The" by Abraham ibn Daud, 36

Higros the Levite, musician, 369, 374

Hildebold von Schwanegau, minnesinger, 182

Hillel, rabbi, 18
  quoted, 255

Hillel ben Samuel, translator 86

Himyarites and Jews, 256

Hirsch, scholar, 49

Hirsch, Jenny, writer, 139

"History and Literature of the Israelites"
 by Constance and Anna Rothschild, 142

"History of Synagogue Poetry" by Zunz, 336

"History of the Jews in England" by Grace Aguilar, 135

"History of the National Poetry of the Hebrews" by Ernest Meier, 14

Hitzig, architect, alluded to, 298

Hitzig, Bible critic, 13, 14

_Hod_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Holbein, Hans, illustrates a Jewish book, 102

Holdheim, S., scholar, 49

Holland, exiles in, 128-129

Homberg, Herz disciple of Mendelssohn, 48, 309

"Home Influence" by Grace Aguilar, 134

Hosea, king, alluded to, 250

Hosea, prophet, alluded to, 251
  "Hours of Devotion" by
  Fanny Neuda, 140

Humanism and the Jews, 94-95

Humboldts, the, and Hennriette Herz, 311, 312, 313

Humor in antiquity, 191-192
  in Jewish German literature, 225-226
  nature of, 195-195, 356-357

Hurwitz, Bella, historian, 120

Hurwitz, Isaiah, Kabbalist, 43

Ibn Alfange, writer, 170

Ibn Chasdaï, Makamat writer, 35

Ibn Sina and Maimonides, 156

_Iggereth ha-Sh'mad_ by Maimonides, 152

_Ikkarim_ by Joseph Albo, 42

Ima Shalom, Talmudist, 113

Immanuel ben Solomon, poet, 35, 89, 90, 219-221, 222-223
  and Dante, 35, 89, 220, 223
  quoted, 220, 221, 222

Immanuel Romi. See Immanuel ben Solomon

India, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Indians and the Ten Tribes, 259

Innocent III, pope, alluded to, 184

Intelligences, Maimonides' doctrine of the, 159

"Interest and Usury" from the Haggada, 67-68

_Iris_, Zunz contributor to the, 330

Isaac Alfassi, alluded to, 257

Isaac ben Abraham, Talmudist, 36

Isaac ben Moses, Talmudist, 36

Isaac ben Sheshet, philosopher, 42

Isaac ben Yehuda ibn Ghayyat, poet, 201, 202

Isaac ibn Sid, astronomer, 92

Isaac Israeli, mathematician, 93

Isaac Israeli, physician, 81, 82, 257

Isaiah, prophet, quoted, 251, 252

Ishmael, poet, alluded to, 118

Israel, kingdom of, 250-251

"Israel Defended" translated by Grace Aguilar, 134

"Israelites on Mount Horeb, The," by Simon van Geldern, 341

Isserles, Moses, Talmudist, 46, 100, 286

Italy, Jews of 45-46, 116

Itzig, Daniel, naturalization of, 317

Jabneh, academy at, 57, 227-228

Jacob ben Abba-Mari ben Anatoli, scholar, 39-40, 85

Jacob ben Elias, poet, 224

Jacob ben Machir, astronomer, 86

Jacob ben Meïr, Talmudist, 36

Jacob ben Nissim, alluded to, 257

Jacob ibn Chabib, Talmudist 43

Jason, writer, 17

Jayme, J, of Aragon, patron of Hebrew learning, 92

Jellinek, Adolf, preacher, 49
  quoted, 33, 245-246

Jeremiah, prophet, quoted, 251

Jerusalem, friend of Moses Mendelssohn, 314

Jerusalem, Kabbalists in, 43

Jesus, mediator between Judaism and Hellenism, 76
  quotes the Old Testament, 13

"Jewish Calderon, The," Antonio Enriquez di Gomez, 236

Jewish drama, the first, 234

"Jewish Faith, The," by Grace Aguilar, 135

Jewish German drama, the, 246-247

Jewish historical writings, lack of, 23-24

Jewish history, spirit of, 269-271

"Jewish Homiletics" by Zunz, 333-335

Jewish literature and Goethe, 103-104
  characterized, 11-12
  comprehensiveness of, 37
  definition of, 328
  extent of, 9-10, 22
  Hellenic period of, 16-17
  in Persia, 90
  love in, 122-123
  name of, 10
  rabbinical period of, 38

Jewish philosophers, 17, 22, 23, 35, 40, 42

Jewish poetry, and Syrian, 80
  future of, 50
  subjects of, 24-25

Jewish poets, 49

Jewish race, the, liberality of, 33-34
  morality of, 36
  preservation of, 108-109
  subjectivity of, 33, 353-354
  versatility of, 79

Jewish scholars, 49

Jewish Sybil, the, 17-18

"Jewish Voltaire, The," Immanuel Romi, 219

Jewish wit, 354-356

Jews, academies of, 75, 79
  and Columbus, 96
  and commerce, 101-102
  and Frederick the Great, 316-317
  and the invention of printing, 38
  and the national poetry of Germany, 87
  and the Renaissance, 43-44, 74-75, 94-95, 223, 224
  and troubadour poetry, 171-173
  and Vasco da Gama, 96-97
  as diplomats, 98-99
  as economists, 103
  as interpreters of Aristotle, 85
  as linguists, 75
  as literary mediators, 97-98
  as physicians, 19, 37, 44, 45, 81-82, 86, 95, 97
  as scientific mediators, 78
  as teachers of Christians, 95, 98
  as traders, 74-75
  as translators, 44, 79, 86-87, 88, 89, 90, 91-92
  as travellers, 37-38
  as wood engravers, 102
  characterized by Heine, 362-363, 365-366
  defended by Reuchlin, 95
  in Arabia, 256-257
  in Holland, 46
  in Italy, 45-46, 116
  in Poland, 46, 286-288
  in the modern drama, 235-237, 245
  in the sciences, 102
  of Germany, in the middle ages, 186
  of Germany, poverty of, 319
  of the eighteenth century, 294
  relation of, to Arabs, 22
  under Arabic influences, 78, 80
  under Hellenic influences, 76
  under Roman influences, 76, 77

João II, of Portugal, employs Jewish scholars, 96

Jochanan, compiler of the Jerusalem Talmud, 19, 114

Jochanan ben Zakkaï, rabbi, 18, 56-57, 228

John of Seville, mathematician, 91

Josefowicz brothers in Lithuania, 287-288

Joseph ben Jochanan, wife of, 119

Joseph del Medigo, scholar, 45

Joseph Ezobi, poet, 89

Joseph ibn Aknin, disciple of Maimonides, 155

Joseph ibn Nagdela, wife of, 117

Joseph ibn Sabara, satirist, 34, 214

Joseph ibn Verga, historian, 42

Joseph ibn Zaddik, philosopher, 35

Josephus, Flavius, historian, 13, 18, 44
  at Rome, 232
  quoted, 230

Joshua, astronomer, 77

Joshua, Samaritan book of, on the Ten Tribes, 252

Joshua ben Chananya, rabbi, 18

Joshua, Jacob, Talmudist, 47

Jost, Isaac Marcus, historian, 49, 321
  on Zunz, 320

"Journal for the Science of Judaism," 324-325, 329, 352

Juan Alfonso de Bæna, poet, 90, 179

Judæa and Greece contrasted, 194

Judæo-Alexandrian period, 16-17

Judah Alfachar and Maimonides, 165

Judah Hakohen, astronomer, 93

Judah ibn Sabbataï, satirist, 34, 214

Judah ibn Tibbon, translator, 39, 84

Judah Tommo, poet, 224

Judaism and Hellenism, 75-76
  served by women, 115-116

_Judendeutsch_, patois, 47, 294
  literature in, 47, 100-101
  philological value of, 100
  used by women, 119

Judges, quoted, 107

Judith, queen of the Jewish kingdom in Abyssinia, 262, 263

Kabbala, the, attacked and defended, 45, 46
  influence of, 93, 99
  studied by Christians, 44
  supposed author of, 19
  system of, outlined, 40-41

Kabbalists, 43, 95, 99

_Kalâm_, Islam theology, 81

_Kalila we-Dimna_, fox fables, translated, 79

Kalir, Eliezer, poet, 25

"Kaliric," classical in Jewish literature, 25

Kalisch, Ludwig, quoted, 364-365

Kalonymos ben Kalonymos as a satirist, 35, 216-219
  as a scholar, 89

Kant and Maimonides, 146, 164
  's philosophy among Jews, 310

Kara, Abigedor, Talmudist, 47

Karaite doctrines in Castile, 117

Karo, Joseph, compiler of the _Shulchan Aruch_, 43

Kasmune (Xemona), poetess, 24, 118

Kaspi, Joseph, philosopher, 42

Kayserling, M., quoted, 300

Kepler and Jewish astronomers, 91, 92

_Kether_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Kimchi, David, grammarian, 39, 84

"King Solomon's Seal" by Büschenthal, 245

Kisch, teacher of Moses Mendelssohn, 297

_Klesmer_, musician, 377

Kley, Edward, preacher, 49, 322

Kohen, Sabbataï, Talmudist, 46

Kompert, Leopold, Ghetto novelist, 50

Korbi, character in "The Gift of Judah," 214

Krochmal, scholar, 49

Kuh, M. E., poet, 49

Kulke, Ghetto novelist, 50

Kunth, tutor of the Humboldts, 311

_La Doctrina Christiana_, attributed to Santob, 174

La Fontaine, and Hebrew fable translations, 34, 88

Landau, Ezekiel, Talmudist, 47

Laura (Petrarch's) in "Praise of Women," 223

_Layesharim Tehillah_ by Luzzatto, 240-241

"Lay of Zion" by Yehuda Halevi, 28-31, 210

Lazarus ben David, philosopher, 310, 350

Lazarus, Emma, poetess, 140

Lazarus, M., scholar, 49

_Lecho Dodi_, Sabbath song, 43

Legend-making, 288-289

Legends, value of, 289-292

Lehmann, M., Ghetto novelist, 50

Leibnitz and Maimonides, 146

_Leibzoll_, tax, 294

Lemech, sons of, inventions of, 372

Leo de Modena, rabbi, 45, 128

Leo Hebræus. See Judah Abrabanel

Leon di Bannolas. See Levi ben Gerson

Lessing, alluded to, 246
  and Mendelssohn, 299, 300, 314
  as fabulist, 88
  on Yedaya Penini, 40

Letteris, M. E., dramatist, 248

"Letters to a Christian Friend on the Fundamental Truths of Judaism,"
  by Clementine Rothschild, 141

Levi ben Abraham, philosopher, 40

Levi ben Gerson, philosopher, 42, 90-91

Levi (Henle), Elise, writer, 139

Levi of Mayence, founder of German synagogue music, 376

Levin (Varnhagen), Rahel, alluded to, 131, 346
  and Judaism, 132
  and the emancipation movement, 132-133

Levita, Elias. See Elias Levita

Lewandowski, musician, work of, 370-371, 377-378

"Light of God" by Chasdaï Crescas, 42

Lindo, Abigail, writer, 137

Lithuania, Jews in, 282, 285

Litte of Ratisbon, historian, 119

_Litteraturbriefe_ by Mendelssohn, 301

_Litteraturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie_ by Zunz, 336

Lokman's fables translated into Hebrew, 34

Lonsano, Menahem, writer on music, 376

Lope de Vega, alluded to, 239

Love in Hebrew poetry, 122-123, 225

Love in Jewish and German poetry, 186

Lucian, alluded to, 18

"Lucinde" by Friedrich von Schlegel, 306

Luis de Torres accompanies Columbus, 96

Luria, Solomon, Talmudist, 46, 286

Luther, Martin, and Rashi, 84
  quoted, 377
  under Jewish influences, 98

Luzzatto, Moses Chayyim, dramatist, 45, 239-241

Luzzatto, S. D., scholar, 49, 137

Maffei, dramatist, 240

_Maggidim_, itinerant preachers, 227

"Magic Flute, The," first performance of, 247-248

"Magic Wreath, The," by Grace Aguilar, 134

Maharil, founder of German synagogue music, 376

Maimon, Solomon, and Mendelssohn, 310

Maimonides, Moses, philosopher, 34, 35, 84
  and Aristotle, 156
  and Averroës, 163-164
  and Ibn Sina, 156
  and modern philosophy, 164
  and scholasticism, 85, 156, 164
  as astronomer, 93
  career of, 147-150
  in France, 145-146
  medical works of, 153-154
  on man's attributes, 160-161
  on prophecy, 161-162
  on resurrection, 164-165
  on revelation, 162
  on the attributes of God, 157-158
  on the Mosaic legislation, 163
  philosophic work of, 154 ff.
  quoted, 152, 167
  religious works of, 150-153

Maimunists, 39-40

Makamat, a form of Arabic poetry, 34 (note)

Malabar, the Ten Tribes in, 259

_Malchuth_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Manasseh ben Israel, author, 47, 99-100
  and Rembrandt, 102
  on the Ten Tribes, 259

Manesse, Rüdiger, compiler, 183-184

Mannheimer, N., preacher, 49

Manoello. See Immanuel ben Solomon

Mantino, Jacob, physician, 95

Manuel, of Portugal, alluded to, 97

Margoles, Jacob, Kabbalist, 95

Maria de Padilla, mistress of Pedro I, 169

Marie de France, fabulist, 88

Mar Sutra on the Ten Tribes, 253

_Mashal_, parable, 227

_Massichtoth_, Talmudic treatises, 59

_Mauscheln_, Jewish slang, 310-311

Maximilian, of Austria, candidate for the Polish crown, 278

_Mechabberoth_ by Immanuel Romi, 219-220

Medicine, origin of, 81

Meier, Ernest, Bible critic, 12
  quoted, 14

Meïr, rabbi, fabulist, 19, 111-112

Meïr ben Baruch, Talmudist, 36

Meïr ben Todros ha-Levi, quoted, 164-165

Meissner, Alfred, recollections of, of Heine, 362-364

_Mekirath Yoseph_ by Beermann, 241-244

Melo, David Abenator, translator, 47

_Mendel Gibbor_, quoted, 272

Mendels, Edel, historian, 120

Mendelssohn, Abraham, son of Moses Mendelssohn, 307, 308

Mendelssohn, Dorothea, daughter of Moses Mendelssohn, 131, 305-306

Mendelssohn, Henriette, daughter of Moses Mendelssohn, 306-308

Mendelssohn, Joseph, son of Moses Mendelssohn, 305, 307

Mendelssohn, Moses, philosopher, 48
  and Lessing, 299, 300, 314
  and Maimonides, 164
  as critic, 301-302
  as reformer, 316
  as translator, 40
  children of, 304
  disciples of, 309
  friends of, 299, 314-315
  in Berlin, 293, 296 ff
  marriage of, 303-304
  quoted, 300, 301

Mendelssohn, Nathan, son of Moses Mendelssohn, 307

Mendelssohn, Recha, daughter of Moses Mendelssohn, 307

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, 307, 308

Mendez, David Franco, dramatist, 244

_Meneketh Ribka_, by Rebekah Tiktiner, 119

Menelek, son of the Queen of Sheba, 262

_Merope_ by Maffei, 240

_Mesgid_, Falasha synagogue, 265

Mesopotamia, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Messer Leon, poet, 223

Meyer, Marianne, alluded to, 132

Meyer, Rachel, writer, 139

Meyer, Sarah, alluded to, 132

Meyerbeer, alluded to, 245

Midrash, commentary, 20, 53-54

Midrash Rabba, a Talmudic work, 21

_Migdal Oz_ by Luzzatto, 239

_Minchath Yehuda Soneh ha-Nashim_, by Judah ibn Sabbataï, 214-216

_Minnedienst_ absent from Jewish poetry, 122

Minnesingers, 182

Miriam, as poetess, 106

Miriam, Rashi's granddaughter, 118

_Mishlé Sandabar_, romance, 88

Mishna, the, commentary on, 60
  compilation of, 58
  in poetry, 201

_Mishneh Torah_ by Maimonides, 152-153

Missionaries in Abyssinia, 263-267

Mohammedanism, rise of, 77-78

Montefiore, Charlotte, writer, 133

Montefiore, Judith, philanthropist, 133

Montpellier, "Guide of the Perplexed"
  burnt at, 155 Jews at academy of, 86, 92

_Moreh Nebuchim_ by Maimonides, 146, 154, 161-162

Morgenstern, Lina, writer, 139

_Morgenstunden_ by Mendelssohn, 305

Moritz, friend of Henriette Herz, 313, 314

Morpurgo, Rachel, poetess, 137-138

Mosaic legislation, the, Maimonides on, 163

"Mosaic" style in Hebrew poetry, 201-202

Mosenthal, S. H., Ghetto novelist, 49, 50
  Dingelstedt on, 319

Moser, Moses, friend of Heine, 324, 346
  letters to, 350, 352

Moses, prophet, characterized by Heine, 365-366
  in Africa, 255

Moses de Coucy, Talmudist, 36

Moses ibn Ezra, poet, 24, 32, 202-206, 207

Moses, Israel, teacher of Mendelssohn, 297-298

Moses of Narbonne, philosopher, 42

Moses Rieti, the Hebrew Dante, 35, 124

Moses Sephardi. See Petrus Alphonsus

Mosessohn, Miriam, writer, 138

Munk, Solomon, scholar, 49
  and Gabirol, 26, 83
  translates _Moreh Nebuchim_, 146, 155

Münster, Sebastian, Hebrew scholar, 44, 95

Muscato, Judah, preacher, 376

Music among Jews, 372-376

Mussafia, Benjamin, author, 47

Nachmanides, exegete, 39

Nagara, Israel, poet, 43

"Names of the Jews, The," by Zunz, 335

Nasi, Joseph, statesman, 99
  and the Polish election, 287

"Nathan the Wise" and tolerance, 185, 310-311

Nazarenes, defined by Heine, 359

_Nefesh_, Kabbalistic term, 41

_Neïlah_ prayer, A, 104

Neo-Hebraic literature. See Jewish literature

Nero, alluded to, 232

_Neshama_, Kabbalistic term, 41

_Nesirim_, Falasha monks, 265

Nestorians and the Ten Tribes, 259

Neto, David, philosopher, 47

Neuda, Fanny, writer, 140

Neunzig, Joseph, on Heine, 343

"New Song," anonymous poem, 224

_Nezach_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Nicolai, friend of Mendelssohn, 299, 300, 313, 314

Nicolas de Lyra, exegete, 84

Noah, Mordecai, and the Ten Tribes, 259

Nöldeke, Theodor, Bible critic, 12

_Nomologia_, by Isaac Aboab, 45

Numbers, book of, quoted, 71

Nunes, Manuela, de Almeida, poetess, 130

Obadiah Bertinoro, Talmudist, 43

Obadiah Sforno, teacher of Reuchlin, 95

Offenbach, J., alluded to, 245

Old Testament, the, Africa in, 255
  document hypothesis of, 13
  humor in, 191, 193
  in poetry, 201
  interpretation of, 54
  literary value of, 14-16, 73-74
  quoted by Jesus, 13
  study of, 12-13, 18
  time of compilation of, 16
  time of composition of, 13-14
  translations of, 16, 47, 48, 80

Oliver y Fullano, de, Nicolas, author, 129

"On Rabbinical Literature" by Zunz, 328

_Ophir_, Hebrew name for Africa, 255

Ophra in Yehuda Halevi's poems, 207

Oppenheim, David, rabbi at Prague, 244

Ormus, island, explored by Jews, 96

Ottenheimer, Henriette, poetess, 49, 138-139

Otto von Botenlaube, minnesinger, 182

Owl, character in "The Gift of Judah," 214

Padua, University of, and Elias del Medigo, 94

Palestine described, 93

Palquera, Shemtob, philosopher, 40

Pan, Taube, poetess, 120

"Paradise, The" by Moses Rieti, 35

Parallax computed by Isaac Israeli, 93

_Parzival_, by Wolfram von Eschenbach, 185
  Jewish contributions to, 35, 87

_Pastor Fido_ by Guarini, 129, 240

Paul III, pope, alluded to, 95

Paula deï Mansi, Talmudist, 116-117

Pedro I, of Castile, and Santob de Carrion, 87, 169, 170

Pedro di Carvallho, navigator, 96

Pekah, king, alluded to, 250

Pensa, Joseph, de la Vega, dramatist, 237-238

Pentateuch, the Jewish German translation of, 100
  Mendelssohn's commentary on, 309

_Peregrinatio Hierosolymitana_ by Radziwill, 280

Persia, Jewish literature in, 90

Pesikta, a Talmudic work, 21

Petachya of Ratisbon, traveller, 37, 117

Petrarch, translated into Spanish, 98

Petrus Alphonsus, writer, 89, 171

Peurbach, humanist, 100

Philipson, L., journalist, 49

Philo, philosopher, 17

Philo the Elder, writer, 17

Phokylides (pseudo-), Neoplatonist, 17

Physicians, Jewish, 81, 95, 97, 179

Pickelhering, a character in _Mekirath Yoseph_, 241

Pico della Mirandola alluded to, 94
  and Levi ben Gerson, 91
  and the Kabbala, 44

_Pilpul_, Talmudic method, 46

Pinchas, rabbi, chronicler of the Saul Wahl story, 273, 277, 280

_Piut_, a form of liturgic Hebrew poetry, 24, 198

"Plant Lore" by Dioscorides, 82

Pliny, alluded to, 250

Pnie, Samson, contributes to _Parzival_, 35, 87

_Poésies diverses_ by Frederick the Great, 301

Poland, election of king in, 278-279
  Jews in, 286-288

Pollak, Jacob, Talmudist, 46

Popert, Meyer Samson, ancestor of Heine, 341

Popiel, of Poland, alluded to, 285

Poppæa, empress, alluded to, 232

"Praise of Women," anonymous work, 34

"Praise of Women," by David ben Yehuda, 223

"Praise unto the Righteous," by Luzzatto, 240-241

"Prince and the Dervish, The," by Ibn Chasdaï, 35

Printing, influence of, on Jewish literature, 94

"Prisoners of Hope, The," by Joseph Pensa, 237-238

Prophecy defined by Maimonides, 161-162

Proudhon anticipated by Judah ibn Tibbon, 39

Psalm cxxxiii., 71-72

Psalms, the, translated into Jewish German, 120
  into Persian, 90

Ptolemy Philadelphus and the Septuagint, 16

Ptolemy's "Almagest" translated, 79

Rab, rabbi, 19

Rabbinical literature. See Jewish literature

Rabbinowicz, Bertha, 138

_Rabbi von Bacharach_ by Heine, 50, 348, 349

Rachel (Bellejeune), Talmudist, 118

Radziwill, Nicholas Christopher, and Saul Wahl, 274-276, 279-280

"Radziwill Bible, The," 280

Rambam, Jewish name for Maimonides, 146

Ramler and Jews, 311, 313

Rappaport, Moritz, poet, 49

Rappaport, S., scholar, 49

Rashi. See Solomon ben Isaac

Rausnitz, Rachel, historian, 121

Ravenna and Jewish financiers, 101-102

"Recapitulation of the Law" by Maimonides, 152-153

Recke, von der, Elise, and Mendelssohn, 215

Red Sea, coasts of, explored by Jews, 96

Reichardt, musician, 313

Reinmar von Brennenberg, minnesinger, 182

_Reisebilder_ by Heine, 353

Rembrandt illustrates a Jewish book, 102

Renaissance, the, and the Jews, 43-44, 74-75, 94-95, 223, 224

Renaissance, the Jewish, 101, 227, 293-295

Renan, Ernest, alluded to, 163, 191

_Respublika Babinska_, a Polish society, 281-282

_Respuestas_ by Antonio di Montoro, 180

Resurrection, Maimonides on, 164-165

Reuchlin, John, and Jewish scholars, 91, 94-95
  and the Talmud, 44
  quoted, 89

Revelation defined by Maimonides, 162

Richard I, of England, and Maimonides, 149

Riemer quoted, 358

Riesser, Gabriel, journalist, 49, 291

"Righteous Brethren, The" an Arabic order, 79

Rintelsohn, teacher of Heine, 344

Ritter, Heinrich, on Maimonides, 146

"Ritual of the Synagogue, The," by Zunz, 336

_Ritus des synagogalen Gottesdienstes_ by Zunz, 336

Robert of Anjou, patron of Hebrew learning, 92

Robert of Naples, patron of Hebrew learning, 89

Rodenberg, Julius, quoted, 144

Romanelli, Samuel L., dramatist, 244, 248

_Romanzero_ by Heine, 9, 27, 365

Rossi, Solomon, musician, 376

Rothschild, Anna, historian, 142
  Charlotte, philanthropist, 141
  Clementine, writer, 141-142
  Constance, historian, 142

Rothschild family, women of the, 140-142

_Ruach_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Rückert, poet, alluded to, 139

"Rules for the Shoeing and Care of Horses in Royal Stables," translated, 91

Rüppell, explorer, quoted, 263

Sa'adia, philosopher, 22, 80-81

Sachs, M., scholar, 49

Saisset, E., on Maimonides, 146

"Sale of Joseph, The" by Beermann, 241-244

Salerno, Jews at academy of, 86, 92

Salomon, Annette, writer, 137

Salomon, G., preacher, 49

Salomon, Leah, wife of Abraham Mendelssohn, 308

_Salon_, the German, established by Jews, 312

Salonica, Spanish exiles in, 43

Sambation, fabled stream, 249, 258

Samson, history of, dramatized, 236
  humor in the, 191, 192

"Samson and the Philistines" by Luzzatto, 239

"Samsonschool" at Wolfenbüttel, 321

Samuel, astronomer, 76

Samuel, physician, 19

Samuel ben Ali, Talmudist, 117

Samuel ben Meïr, exegete, 36, 172

Samuel ibn Nagdela, grand vizir, 98

Samuel Judah, father of Saul Wahl, 273, 274

Samuel the Pious, hymnologist, 36

Santillana, de, on Santob de Carrion, 173

Santo. See Santob de Carrion

Santob de Carrion, troubadour, 34, 87, 169-170, 174-175, 188
  characterized, 173
  character of, 178
  quoted, 169, 175-176, 177-178
  relation of, to Judaism, 176-177

Saphir, M. G., quoted, 355

Sarah, a character in _Rabbi von Bacharach_, 348

Sarastro, played by a Jew, 247

Satirists, 213-223

Saul Juditsch. See Saul Wahl

Saul Wahl, in the Russian archives, 282-284
  relics of, 278
  story of, 273-277
  why so named, 276

Savasorda. See Abraham ben Chiya

Schadow, sculptor, 313

Schallmeier, teacher of Heine, 342

Schlegel, von, Friedrich, husband of Dorothea Mendelssohn, 306

Schleiden, M. J., quoted, 28, 74-75

Schleiermacher and the Jews, 313, 314, 323

Schopenhauer, Arthur, anticipated by Gabirol, 27
  on Heine, 357-358

_Schutzjude_, a privileged Jew, 302-403

Scotists and Gabirol, 26

Scotus, Duns, philosopher, 82

Scotus, Michael, scholar, 40, 85

Scribes, the compilers of the Old Testament, 16

"Seal of Perfection, The," by Abraham Bedersi, 171

_Sechel Hapoel_, Active Intellect, 159

_Seder_ described by Heine, 345

_Sefer Asaf_, medical fragment, 81

_Sefer ha-Hechal_ by Moses Rieti, 124

_Sefer Sha'ashuim_ by Joseph ibn Sabara, 214

_Sefiroth_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Selicha, a character in "The Sale of Joseph," 241

_Selicha_, a form of Hebrew liturgical poetry, 24, 25, 198

Septuagint, contents of the, 16

Serach, hero of "The Gift of Judah," 214-216

"Seven Wise Masters, The," romance, 88

Seynensis, Henricus, quoted, 52

Shachna, Solomon, Talmudist, alluded to, 286

_Shalet_, a Jewish dish, 360-361

Shalmaneser, conquers Israel, 250
  obelisk of, 261

Shammaï, rabbi, 18

Shapiro, Miriam, Talmudist, 117

_Shebach Nashim_ by David ben Yehuda, 223

Shem-Tob. See Santob de Carrion

Sherira, Talmudist, 22

"Shields of Heroes," by Jacob ben Elias, 224

"Shulammith," Jewish German drama, 247

_Shulchan Aruch_, code, 43

Sigismund I, Jews under, 285, 286

Sigismund III, and Saul Wahl, 283-284

Simon ben Yochaï, supposed author of the Kabbala, 19

Sirkes, Joel, Talmudist, 46

"Society for Jewish Culture and Science," in Berlin, 324, 346

_Soferim_, Scribes, 56

Solomon, king, alluded to, 250
  and Africa, 255

Solomon Ashkenazi, diplomat, 96, 286-287

Solomon ben Aderet, Talmudist, 40

Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi), exegete, 36, 84, 137
  essay on, by Zunz, 329
  family of, 118

Solomon ben Sakbel, satirist, 34, 213

Solomon Yitschaki. See Solomon ben Isaac

"Song of Joy" by Yehuda Halevi, 207

"Song of Songs," a dramatic idyl, 229
  alluded to, 207
  characterized, 192-193
  epitomized, 223
  explained, 172
  in later poetry, 202
  quoted, 186

Sonnenthal, Adolf, actor, 246

Soudan, the, Moses in, 255

"Source of Life, The" by Gabirol, 82-83

"South, the," Talmud name for Africa, 255

Spalding, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

"Spener's Journal," Zunz editor of, 330

Spinoza, Benedict (Baruch), philosopher, 47, 100
  and Maimonides, 145, 146, 164
  influenced by Chasdaï Crescas, 94
  under Kabbalistic influence, 99

"Spirit of Judaism, The," by Grace Aguilar, 134

Stein, L., poet, 49

Steinheim, scholar, 49

Steinschneider, M., scholar, 37, 49

Steinthal, H., scholar, 49

Stephen Báthori, of Poland, 278, 282, 287

_Studie zur Bibelkritik_ by Zunz, 337

Sullam, Sara Copia, poetess, 44, 124-128

Surrenhuys, scholar, 48

Süsskind von Trimberg, minnesinger, 35, 87, 182, 184
  and Judaism, 187
  character of, 188
  poetry of, 185-186
  quoted, 182-183, 187-188, 188-189

_Synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters_, by Zunz, 335

"Synagogue Poetry of the Middle Ages" by Zunz, 336

Syria, the Ten Tribes in, 259

Syrian and Jewish poetry, 80

Syrian Christians as scientific mediators, 78

_Tachkemoni_ by Yehuda Charisi, 211

Talmud, the, burnt, 40, 44
  character of, 52-53
  compilers of, 56, 57-58
  composition of, 16
  contents of, 59-60, 68-70, 76-77
  in poetry, 201
  on Africa, 254
  on the Ten Tribes, 253
  origin of, 53-54
  study of, 17-18
  translations of, 60
  woman in, 110-114
  women and children in, 63-64

Talmud, the Babylonian, 54
  compiler of, 17

Talmud, the Jerusalem, compiler of, 17

Talmudists, 22, 36, 40, 43, 46, 47, 117, 286

Talmudists (women), 116, 117, 118

Tamar, a character in Immanuel Romi's poem, 221-222

_Tanaïm_, Learners, 56, 57

Tanchuma, a Talmudic work, 19

Targum, the, in poetry, 201

Telescope, the, used by Gamaliel, 77

Teller, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Ten Tribes, the, English views of, 260-262
  Irish legend of, 261
  the prophets on, 251-252
  the Samaritan Hexateuch on, 252
  the supposed homes of, 256-262
  the Talmud on, 253

Tertullian quoted, 233

Theatre, the, and the rabbis, 230-234

Theodore, Negus of Abyssinia, 263, 267

_Theorica_ by Peurbach, 100

Thomists and Gabirol, 24

"Thoughts suggested by Bible Texts" by Louise Rothschild, 141

_Tifereth_, Kabbalistic term, 41

Tiglath-Pileser conquers Israel, 250

Tiktiner, Rebekah, scholar, 119

"Till Eulenspiegel," the Jewish German, 101

Tolerance in Germany, 185, 189

"Touchstone" by Kalonymos ben Kalonymos, 33, 216-219

"Tower of Victory" by Luzzatto, 239

Tragedy, nature of, 195

Travellers, Jewish, 80

"Tristan and Isolde" compared with the _Mechabberoth_, 220

Troubadour poetry and the Jews, 171-173

Troubadours, 223

"Truth's Campaign," anonymous work, 32

Turkey, Jews in, 98

"Two Tables of the Testimony, The," by Isaiah Hurwitz, 43

Tycho de Brahe and Jewish astronomers, 92

Uhden, von, and Mendelssohn, 302

Uhland, poet, alluded to, 139

Ulla, itinerant preacher, 114

"Upon the Philosophy of Maimonides," prize essay, 145

Usque, Samuel, poet, 44

Usque, Solomon, poet, 98, 235

"Vale of Weeping, The," by Joseph Cohen, 44

Varnhagen, Rahel. See Levin, Rahel

Varnhagen von Ense, German _littérateur_, 312

Vecinho, Joseph, astronomer, 96

Veit, Philip, painter, 308

Veit, Simon, husband of Dorothea Mendelssohn, 306

Venino, alluded to, 302

Venus of Milo and Heine, 362

Vespasian and Jochanan ben Zakkaï, 57

Walther von der Vogelweide, minnesinger, 182, 189

Wandering Jew, the, myth of, 350

"War of Wealth and Wisdom, The," satire, 34

"Water Song" by Gabirol, 200-201

Weil, Jacob, Talmudist, 102

Weill, Alexander, and Heine, 363-364

_Weltschmerz_ in Gabirol's poetry, 199
  in Heine's poetry, 357

Wesseli, musician, 313

Wessely, Naphtali Hartwig, commentator, 48, 309

Wieland, poet, alluded to, 314

Wihl, poet, 49

Wine, creation of, 197-198

Withold, grandduke, and the Lithuanian Jews, 282, 284

Wohllerner, Yenta, poetess, 138

Wohlwill, Immanuel, friend of Zunz, letter to, 325

Wolfenbüttel, Jews' free school at, 320-321

Wolff, Hebrew scholar, 48

Wolfram von Eschenbach, minnesinger, 182, 185, 189

Woman, creation of, 197
  in Jewish annals, 110
  in literature, 106-107
  in the Talmud, 64, 110-114
  mental characteristics of, 121-122
  satirized and defended, 223-224
  services of, to Judaism, 115-116

"Woman's Friend" by Yedaya Penini, 216

Women, Jewish, in the emancipation movement, 133, 139

"Women of Israel, The" by Grace Aguilar, 134

"Women's Shield," by Judah Tommo, 224

"World as Will and Idea, The," by Schopenhauer, 357

Xemona. See Kasmune

Yaltha, wife of Rabbi Nachman, 113-114

Yechiel ben Abraham, financier, 99

Yechiel deï Mansi, alluded to, 116

Yedaya Penini, poet, 40, 216

Yehuda ben Astruc, scientist, 92

Yehuda ben Zakkaï quoted, 68

Yehuda Charisi, poet, 32, 34 (note), 210-213
  on Gabirol, 27
  quoted, 214
  traveller, 37

Yehuda Chayyug, alluded to, 257

Yehuda Hakohen, Talmudist, 36

Yehuda Halevi, as philosopher, 31, 34
  as poet, 24, 27-28, 206-210
  daughter of, 117

Yehuda Romano, translator, 90

Yehuda Sabbataï, satirist, 34, 214

Yehuda the Prince, Mishna compiler, 19, 58
  lament over, 65-66

Yemen, Judaism in, 256

_Yesod_, Kabbalistic term, 41

_Yesod Olam_ by Moses Zacuto, 238-239

_Yezira_, Kabbalistic term, 41

"Yosippon," an historical compilation, 120, 249, 250, 321

Yucatan and the Ten Tribes, 259

Zacuto, Abraham, astronomer, 42, 96-97

Zacuto, Moses, dramatist, 238-239

Zarzal, Moses, physician, 179

_Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft_,
  Zunz contributor to, 337

Zeltner, J. G., on Rebekah Tiktiner, 119

Zerubbabel, alluded to, 253

Zohar, the, astronomy in, 91
  authorship of, 39

Zöllner, friend of Henriette Herz, 313

Zunz, Adelheid, wife of Leopold Zunz, 337, 352

Zunz, Leopold, scholar, 25, 48
  and religious reform, 335
  as journalist, 330
  as pedagogue, 324
  as politician, 330-332
  as preacher, 322-323
  characterized by Heine, 327-328
  described by Jost, 320
  education of, 320-322
  friend of Heine, 346
  importance of, for Judaism, 338
  in Berlin, 318-319
  quoted, 11-12, 119, 323, 325-327, 330, 331, 332, 334, 336, 371
  style of, 338

"Zur Geschichte und Litteratur" by Zunz, 337

       *       *       *       *       *


OUTLINES OF JEWISH HISTORY. From the Return from Babylon to the Present
Time. By Lady Magnus. (Revised by M. Friedländer.)

THINK AND THANK. By Samuel W. Cooper.

RABBI AND PRIEST. By Milton Goldsmith.





SOME JEWISH WOMEN. By Henry Zirndorf.

HISTORY OF THE JEWS. By Prof. H. Graetz.

Vol. I.   From the Earliest Period to the Death of Simon
  the Maccabee (135 B.C.E.).

Vol. II. From the Reign of Hyrcanus to the Completion of
  the Babylonian Talmud (500 C.E.).

Vol. III. From the Completion of the Babylonian Talmud to
  the Expulsion of the Jews from England (1290 C.E.).

Vol. IV. From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.)
  to the Permanent Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.).

Vol. V.   In preparation.

SABBATH HOURS. Thoughts. By Liebman Adler.


OLD EUROPEAN JEWRIES. By David Philipson, D.D.

Dues, $3.00 per Annum



Office, 1015 Arch St.
P. O. Box 1164


From the Return from Babylon to the Present Time, 1890.

With Three Maps, a Frontispiece and Chronological Tables,




The entire work is one of great interest; it is written with moderation,
and yet with a fine enthusiasm for the great race which is set before
the reader's mind.--_Atlantic Monthly._

We doubt whether there is in the English language a better sketch of
Jewish history. The Jewish Publication Society is to be congratulated on
the successful opening of its career. Such a movement, so auspiciously
begun, deserves the hearty support of the public.--_Nation_ (New York).

Of universal historical interest.--_Philadelphia Ledger._

Compresses much in simple language.--_Baltimore Sun._

Though full of sympathy for her own people, it is not without a singular
value for readers whose religious belief differs from that of the
author.--_New York Times._

One of the clearest and most compact works of its class produced in
modern times.--_New York Sun._

The Jewish Publication Society of America has not only conferred a favor
upon all young Hebrews, but also upon all Gentiles who desire to see the
Jew as he appears to himself.--_Boston Herald._

We know of no single-volume history which gives a better idea of the
remarkable part played by the Jews in ancient and modern history.--_San
Francisco Chronicle._

A succinct, well-written history of a wonderful race.--_Buffalo

The best hand-book of Jewish history that readers of any class can
find.--_New York Herald._

A convenient and attractive hand-book of Jewish history.--_Cleveland
Plain Dealer._

The work is an admirable one, and as a manual of Jewish history, it may
be commended to persons of every race and creed.--_Philadelphia Times._

Altogether it would be difficult to find another book on this subject
containing so much information.--_American_ (Philadelphia).

Lady Magnus' book is a valuable addition to the store-house of
literature that we already have about the Jews.--_Charleston (S. C.)

We should like to see this volume in the library of every school in the
State.--_Albany Argus._

A succinct, helpful portrayal of Jewish history.--_Boston Post._

Bound in Cloth. Price, postpaid, $1.00, Library Edition.

75 cents. School Edition.


A Tale for the Young, Narrating in Romantic Form the Boyhood of Sir
Moses Montefiore.




A graphic and interesting story, full of incident and adventure, with an
admirable spirit attending it consonant with the kindly and sweet,
though courageous and energetic temper of the distinguished
philanthropist.--_American_ (Philadelphia).

THINK AND THANK is a most useful corrective to race prejudice. It is
also deeply interesting as a biographical sketch of a distinguished
Englishman.--_Philadelphia Ledger._

A fine book for boys of any class to read.--_Public Opinion_

It will have especial interest for the boys of his race, but all
school-boys can well afford to read it and profit by it.--_Albany
Evening Journal._

Told simply and well.--_New York Sun._

An excellent story for children.--_Indianapolis Journal._

The old as well as the young may learn a lesson from it.--_Jewish

It is a thrilling story exceedingly well told.--_American Israelite._

The book is written in a plain, simple style, and is well adapted for
Sunday School libraries.--_Jewish Spectator._

It is one of the very few books in the English language which can be
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Intended for the young, but may well be read by their elders.--_Detroit
Free Press._

Bright and attractive reading.--_Philadelphia Press._

THINK AND THANK will please boys, and it will be found popular in Sunday
School libraries.--_New York Herald._

The story is a beautiful one, and gives a clear insight into the
circumstances, the training and the motives that gave impulse and energy
to the life-work of the great philanthropist.--_Kansas City Times._

We should be glad to know that this little book has a large circulation
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religious bigotry about it, and its perusal cannot but serve to make
Christian and Jew better known to each other.--_Philadelphia Telegraph._

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, 50c.





The author has attempted to depict faithfully the customs and practices
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We read and suffer with the sufferers.--_Public Opinion_ (Washington).

Although addressed to Jews, with an appeal to them to seek freedom and
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one of the real pleasures of the story.--_Philadelphia Bulletin._

The book has the merit of being well written, is highly entertaining,
and it cannot fail to prove of interest to all who may want to acquaint
themselves in the matter of the condition of affairs that has recently
been attracting universal attention.--_San Francisco Call._

RABBI AND PRIEST has genuine worth, and is entitled to a rank among the
foremost of its class.--_Minneapolis Tribune._

The writer tells his story from the Jewish standpoint, and tells it
well.--_St. Louis Republic._

The descriptions of life in Russia are vivid and add greatly to the
charm of the book.--_Buffalo Courier._

A very thrilling story.--_Charleston (S.C.) News._

Very like the horrid tales that come from unhappy Russia.--_New Orleans

The situations are dramatic; the dialogue is spirited.--_Jewish

A history of passing events in an interesting form.--_Jewish Tidings._

RABBI AND PRIEST will appeal to the sympathy of every reader in its
touching simplicity and truthfulness.--_Jewish Spectator._

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, $1.


The Persecution of the Jews in Russia.


Also, an Appendix, giving an Abridged Summary of Laws,

Special and Restrictive, relating to the Jews in

Russia, brought down to the year 1890.


The pamphlet is full of facts, and will inform people very fully in
regard to the basis of the complaints made by Jews against Russia. We
hope it will be very widely circulated.--_Public Opinion_ (Washington).

The laws and regulations governing Jews in Russia, subjecting them to
severe oppression, grievous restrictions and systematic persecution, are
stated in condensed form with precise references, bespeaking exactness
in compilation and in presenting the case of these unfortunate
people.--_Galveston News._

This pamphlet supplies information that is much in demand, and which
ought to be generally known in enlightened countries.--_Cincinnati
Commercial Gazette._

Considering the present agitation upon the subject it is a very timely
publication.--_New Orleans Picayune._

It is undoubtedly the most compact and thorough presentation of the
Russo-Jewish question.--_American Israelite._

Better adapted to the purpose of affording an adequate knowledge of the
issues involved in, and the consequences of, the present great crisis in
the affairs of the Jews of Russia than reams of rhetoric.--_Hebrew

Price, postpaid, 25c.


Voegele's Marriage and Other Tales.



A series of nine well-written short stories based upon love and
religion, which make quite interesting reading.--_Burlington Hawkeye._

A pamphlet containing several sketches full of high moral principle, and
of quite interesting developments of simple human emergencies.--_Public
Opinion_ (Washington, D. C.)

Interesting alike to Hebrew and Gentile.--_Minneapolis Tribune._

In addition to being interesting, is written with a purpose, and carries
with it a wholesome lesson.--_San Francisco Call._

This is a collection of brief stories of Jewish life, some of which are
of great interest, while all are well written.--_Charleston (S. C.) News
and Courier._

The little volume as a whole is curious and interesting, aside from its
claims to artistic merit.--_American Bookseller_ (New York).

Short tales of Jewish life under the oppressive laws of Eastern Europe,
full of minute detail.--_Book News_ (Philadelphia).

Written in delightful style, somewhat in the manner of Kompert and
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These stories are permeated with the Jewish spirit which is
characteristic of all Mr. Schnabel's works.--_American Hebrew._

Price, postpaid, 25c.





The art of a Hogarth or a Cruikshank could not have made types of
character stand out with greater force or in bolder relief than has the
pen of this author.--_Philadelphia Record._

It is one of the best pictures of Jewish life and thought that we have
seen since the publication of "Daniel Deronda."--London _Pall Mall

This book is not a mere mechanical photographic reproduction of the
people it describes, but a glowing, vivid portrayal of them, with all
the pulsating sympathy of one who understands them, their thoughts and
feelings, with all the picturesque fidelity of the artist who
appreciates the spiritual significance of that which he seeks to
delineate.--_Hebrew Journal._

Its sketches of character have the highest value.... Not often do we
note a book so fresh, true and in every way helpful.--_Philadelphia
Evening Telegraph._

A strong and remarkable book. It is not easy to find a parallel to it.
We do not know of any other novel which deals so fully and so
authoritatively with Judæa in modern London.--_Speaker, London._

Among the notable productions of the time.... All that is here portrayed
is unquestionable truth.--_Jewish Exponent._

Many of the pictures will be recognized at once by those who have
visited London or are at all familiar with the life of that
city.--_Detroit Free Press._

It is a succession of sharply-penned realistic portrayals.--_Baltimore


Bound in Cloth.         Price, postpaid, $2.50.





Moral purity, nobility of soul, self-sacrifice, deep affection and
devotion, sorrow and happiness all enter into these biographies, and the
interest felt in their perusal is added to by the warmth and sympathy
which the author displays and by his cultured and vigorous style of
writing.--_Philadelphia Record._

His methods are at once a simplification and expansion of Josephus and
the Talmud, stories simply told, faithful presentation of the virtues,
and not infrequently the vices, of characters sometimes legendary,
generally real.--_New York World._

The lives here given are interesting in all cases, and are thrilling in
some cases.--_Public Opinion_ (Washington, D.C.).

The volume is one of universal historic interest, and is a portrayal of
the early trials of Jewish women.--_Boston Herald._

Though the chapters are brief, they are clearly the result of deep and
thorough research that gives the modest volume an historical and
critical value.--_Philadelphia Times._

It is an altogether creditable undertaking that the present author has
brought to so gratifying a close--the silhouette drawing of Biblical
female character against the background of those ancient historic
times.--_Minneapolis Tribune._

Henry Zirndorf ranks high as a student, thinker and writer, and this
little book will go far to encourage the study of Hebrew
literature.--_Denver Republican._

The book is gracefully written, and has many strong touches of
characterizations.--_Toledo Blade._

The sketches are based upon available history and are written in clear
narrative style.--_Galveston News._

Henry Zirndorf has done a piece of work of much literary excellence in
"SOME JEWISH WOMEN."--S_t. Louis Post-Dispatch._

It is an attractive book in appearance and full of curious biographical
research.--_Baltimore Sun._

The writer shows careful research and conscientiousness in making his
narratives historically correct and in giving to each heroine her just
due.--_American Israelite_ (Cincinnati).

Bound in Cloth, Ornamental, Gilt Top. Price, postpaid, $1.25.




Vol. I. From the Earliest Period to the Death of Simon the Maccabee (135

Vol. II. From the Reign of Hyrcanus to the Completion of the Babylonian
Talmud (500 C.E.).

Vol. III. From the Completion of the Babylonian Talmud to the Banishment
of the Jews from England (1290 C.E.).

Vol. IV. From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the Permanent
Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.).

Vol. V. In preparation.


Professor Graetz's History is universally accepted as a conscientious
and reliable contribution to religious literature.--_Philadelphia

Aside from his value as a historian, he makes his pages charming by all
the little side-lights and illustrations which only come at the beck of
genius.--_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

The writer, who is considered by far the greatest of Jewish historians,
is the pioneer in his field of work--history without theology or
polemics.... His monumental work promises to be the standard by which
all other Jewish histories are to be measured by Jews for many years to
come.--_Baltimore American._

Whenever the subject constrains the author to discuss the Christian
religion, he is animated by a spirit not unworthy of the philosophic and
high-minded hero of Lessing's "Nathan the Wise."--_New York Sun._

It is an exhaustive and scholarly work, for which the student of history
has reason to be devoutly thankful.... It will be welcomed also for the
writer's excellent style and for the almost gossipy way in which he
turns aside from the serious narrative to illumine his pages with
illustrative descriptions of life and scenery.--_Detroit Free Press._

One of the striking features of the compilation is its succinctness and
rapidity of narrative, while at the same time necessary detail is not
sacrificed.--_Minneapolis Tribune._

Whatever controversies the work may awaken, of its noble scholarship
there can be no question.--_Richmond Dispatch._

If one desires to study the history of the Jewish people under the
direction of a scholar and pleasant writer who is in sympathy with his
subject because he is himself a Jew, he should resort to the volumes of
Graetz.--_Review of Reviews_ (New York).

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, $3 per Volume





Rabbi Adler was a man of strong and fertile mind, and his sermons are
eminently readable.--_Sunday School Times._

As one turns from sermon to sermon, he gathers a wealth of precept
which, if he would practice, he would make both himself and others
happier. We might quote from every page some noble utterance or sweet
thought well worthy of the cherishing by either Jew or
Christian.--_Richmond Dispatch._

The topics discussed are in the most instances practical in their
nature. All are instructive, and passages of rare eloquence are of
frequent occurrence.--_San Francisco Call._

The sermons are simple and careful studies, sometimes of doctrine, but
more often of teaching and precept.--_Chicago Times._

He combined scholarly attainment with practical experience, and these
sermons cover a wide range of subject. Some of them are singularly
modern in tone.--_Indianapolis News._

They are modern sermons, dealing with the problems of the day, and
convey the interpretation which these problems should receive in the
light of the Old Testament history.--_Boston Herald._

While this book is not without interest in those communities where there
is no scarcity of religious teaching and influence, it cannot fail to be
particularly so in those communities where there is but little Jewish
teaching.--_Baltimore American._

The sermons are thoughtful and earnest in tone and draw many forcible
and pertinent lessons from the Old Testament records.--_Syracuse

They are saturated with Bible lore, but every incident taken from the
Old Testament is made to illustrate some truth in modern life.--_San
Francisco Chronicle._

They are calm and conservative, ... applicable in their essential
meaning to the modern religious needs of Gentile as well as Jew. In
style they are eminently clear and direct.-_-Review of Reviews_ (New

Able, forcible, helpful thoughts upon themes most essential to the
prosperity of the family, society and the state.--_Public Opinion_
(Washington, D.C.).

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, $1.25



Jewish Women's Congress

Held at Chicago, September, 1893


This meeting was held during the first week of September, and was marked
by the presentation of some particularly interesting addresses and
plans. This volume is a complete report of the sessions.--_Chicago

The collection in book form of the papers read at the Jewish Women's
Congress ... makes an interesting and valuable book, of the history and
affairs of the Jewish women of America.--_St. Louis Post-Dispatch._

A handsome and valuable souvenir of an event of great significance to
the people of the Jewish faith, and of much interest and value to
intelligent and well informed people of all faiths.--_Kansas City

The Congress was a branch of the Parliament of Religions and was a great
success, arousing the interest of Jews and Christians alike, and
bringing together from all parts of the country women interested in
their religion, following similar lines of work and sympathetic in ways
of thought.... The papers in the volume are all of interest.--_Detroit
Free Press._

The Jewish Publication Society of America has done a good work in
gathering up and issuing in a well-printed volume the "Papers of the
Jewish Women's Congress."--_Cleveland Plain-Dealer._

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, $1




A good purpose is served in this unpretending little book, ... which
contains an amount and kind of information that it would be difficult to
find elsewhere without great labor. The author's subject is the Ghetto,
or Jewish quarter in European cities.--_Literary World_ (Boston).

It is interesting ... to see the foundation of ... so much fiction that
is familiar to us--to go, as the author here has gone in one of his
trips abroad, into the remains of the old Jewries.--_Baltimore Sun._

His book is a careful study limited to the official Ghetto.--_Cincinnati

Out-of-the-way information, grateful to the delver in antiquities, forms
the staple of a work on the historic Ghettos of Europe--_Milwaukee

He tells the story of the Ghettos calmly, sympathetically and
conscientiously, and his deductions are in harmony with those of all
other intelligent and fair-minded men.--_Richmond Dispatch._

A striking study of the results of a system that has left its mark upon
the Jews of all countries.--_San Francisco Chronicle._

He has carefully gone over all published accounts and made
discriminating use of the publications, both recent and older, on his
subject, in German, French and English.--_Reform Advocate_ (Chicago).

Bound in Cloth.
Price, postpaid, $1.25

       *       *       *       *       *


[1] Zunz, _Gesammelte Schriften_, I., 42.

[2] G. Scherr, _Allgemeine Geschichte der Litteratur_, I., p. 62.

[3] F. Freiligrath, _Die Bilderbibel_.

[4] D. Cassel, _Lehrbuch der jüdischen Geschichte und Literatur_, p.

[5] Heine, _Romanzero, Jehuda ben Halevy_.

[6] F. Delitzsch, _Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Poesie_, p. 165.

[7] Heine, _l. c._

[8] Heine, _l. c._

[9] M. J. Schleiden, _Die Bedeutung der Juden für die Erhaltung der
Wissenschaften im Mittelalter_, p. 37.

[10] Ezek. xxiii. 4. [Tr.]

[11] Ad. Jellinek, _Der jüdische Stamm_, p. 195.

[12] "Makama (plural, Makamat), the Arabic word for a place where people
congregate to discuss public affairs, came to be used as the name of a
form of poetry midway between the epic and the drama." (Karpeles,
_Geschichte der jüdischen Literatur_, vol. II., p. 693.) The most famous
Arabic poet of Makamat was Hariri of Bassora, and the most famous
Jewish, Yehuda Charisi. See above, p. 32, and p. 211 [Tr.]

[13] Hirt, _Bibliothek_, V., p. 43.

[14] _Midrash Echah_, I., 5; Mishna, _Rosh Hashana_, chap. II.

[15] Cmp. Wünsche, Die Haggada des jerusalemischen Talmud, and the same
author's great work, Die Haggada des babylonischen Talmud, IL; also W.
Bacher, Die Agada der Tannaiten, Die Agada der babylonischen Amoräer,
and Die Agada der palästinensischen Amoräer, Vol. I.

[16] M. Sachs, _Stimmen vom Jordan und Euphrat_.

[17] Emanuel Deutsch, "Literary Remains," p. 45.

[18] Address at the dedication of the new meeting-house of the
Independent Order B'nai B'rith, at Berlin.

[19] Numbers, xxi. 17, 18.

[20] Psalm cxxxiii.

[21] M. J. Schleiden: _Die Bedeutung der Juden für die Erhaltung der
Wissenschaften im Mittelalter_, p. 7.

[22] _Moed Katan_, 26_a_.

[23] Cmp. "Israel's Quest in Africa," pp. 257-258

[24] Cmp. Gutmann, _Die Religiousphilosophie des Saâdja_.

[25] M. Hess, _Rom und Jerusalem_, p. 2.

[26] Midrash _Yalkut_ on Proverbs.

[27] _Berachoth_, 10_a_.

[28] _Baba Metsiah_, 59_a_.

[29] _Sota_, 20_a_.

[30] _Berachoth_, 51_b_.

[31] Cmp. W. Bacher in _Frankel-Graetz Monatsschrift_, Vol. XX., p. 186.

[32] Cmp. E. David, _Sara Copia Sullam, une héroïne juive au XVII^e

[33] For the following, compare Kayserling, _Sephardim_, p. 250 _ff._

[34] Cmp. _Rahel, ein Buch des Andenkens für ihre Freunde_, Vol. I., p.

[35] By Julius Rodenberg.

[36] Ritter, _Geschichte der christlichen Philosophie_, Vol. I., p. 610

[37] Joel, _Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie_, Vol. II., p. 9.

[38] Graetz, _Geschichte der Juden_, Vol. VI., p. 298 _f._

[39] "The Guide of the Perplexed," the English translation, consulted in
this work, was made by M. Friedländer, Ph. D., (London, Trübner & Co.,
1885). [Tr.]

[40] Joel, _l. c._

[41] Cmp. Kayserling, _Sephardim_, p. 23 _ff._

[42] Translation by Ticknor. [Tr.]

[43] Cmp. F. Wolf, _Studien zur Geschichte der spanischen
Nationalliteratur_, p. 236 _ff._

[44] Cmp. Kayserling, _l. c._ p. 85 _ff._

[45] Livius Fürst in _Illustrirte Monatshefte für die gesammten
Interessen des Judenthums_, Vol. I., p. 14 ff. Cmp. also, Hagen,
_Minnesänger_, Vol. II., p. 258, Vol. IV., p. 536 ff., and W. Goldbaum,
_Entlegene Culturen_, p. 275 _ff._

[46] Graetz, _Geschichte der Juden_, Vol. VI., p. 257.

[47] For Gabirol, cmp. A. Geiger, _Salomon Gabirol_, and M. Sachs, _Die
religiöse Poesie der Juden in Spanien_.

[48] H. Heine, _Romanzero_.

[49] Translation by Emma Lazarus. [Tr.]

[50] See note, p. 34. [Tr.]

[51] J. Schor in _He-Chaluz_, Vol. IV., p. 154 _ff._

[52] S. Stein in _Freitagabend_, p. 645 _ff._

[53] H. A. Meisel, _Der Prüfstein des Kalonymos_.

[54] Livius Fürst in _Illustrirte Monatshefte_, Vol. I., p. 105 _ff._

[55] _Aboda Sara_ 18_b_.

[56] Midrash on Lamentations, ch. 3, v. 13 _ff._

[57] Jerusalem Talmud, _Berachoth_, 9.

[58] Cmp. Berliner, _Yesod Olam, das älteste bekannte dramatische
Gedicht in hebräischer Sprache_.

[59] Delitzsch, _Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Poesie_, p. 88.

[60] Jellinek, _Der jüdische Stamm_, p. 64.

[61] Aristotle, _Hist. Anim._, 8, 28. Nicephorus Gregoras, _Hist.
Byzant._, p. 805.

[62] Isaiah xi. 11-16.

[63] Jeremiah xxxi. 8-9.

[64] Isaiah xlix. 9 and xxvii. 13.

[65] Ezekiel xxxvii. 16-17.

[66] Cmp. Spiegel, _Die Alexandersagen bei den Orientalen_.

[67] Cmp. A. Epstein, _Eldad ha-Dani_, p. x.

[68] Rüppell, _Reisen in Nubien_, p. 416.

[69] Cmp. Epstein, _l. c._, p. 141.

[70] _Alliance_ Report for 1868.

[71] Halévy, _Les prières des Falashas_, Introduction.

[72] Cmp. Edelmann, _Gedulath Shaul_, Introduction.

[73] Cmp. H. Goldbaum, _Entlegene Culturen_, p. 299 _ff._

[74] _Woschod_, 1889, No. 10 _ff._

[75] Graetz, _Geschichte der Juden_, IX., p. 480.

[76] Ezekiel xxxvii. 1-11.

[77] J. G. Herder.

[78] M. Kayserling: _Moses Mendelssohn_, and L. Geiger, _Geschichte der
Juden in Berlin_, II.

[79] Lessing, _Gesammelte Schriften_, Vol. XII., p. 247.

[80] Mendelssohn, _Gesammelte Schriften_, Vol. IV^2, 68 _ff._

[81] Hensel, _Die Familie Mendelssohn_, Vol. I., p. 86.

[82] Cmp. I. Heinemann, _Moses Mendelssohn_, p. 21.

[83] Cmp. Buker and Caro, _Vor hundert Jahren_, p. 123.

[84] Address delivered at the installation of the Leopold Zunz Lodge at

[85] In _Sippurim_, I., 165 _ff._

[86] Administrators of the secular affairs of Jewish congregations.

[87] Compassion, charity. [Tr.]

[88] Talmudical dialectics. [Tr.]

[89] Cmp. Strodtmann: _H. Heine_, Vol. I., p. 316.

[90] Zunz, _Gesammelte Schriften_, Vol. I., p. 3 _ff._

[91] _Ibid._, p. 301.

[92] _Ibid._, p. 310.

[93] _Ibid._, p. 316.

[94] _Ibid._, p. 133.

[95] Cmp. _Memoiren_ in his Collected Works, Vol. VI., p. 375 _ff._

[96] Ludwig Kalisch, _Pariser Skizzen_, p. 331.

[97] Collected Works, Vol. IV., p. 227.

[98] _Ibid._, Vol. III., p. 13.

[99] _Ibid._, Vol. IV., p. 257 _ff._

[100] _Ibid._, Vol. VIII., p. 390 _ff._

[101] _Ibid._, Vol. I., p. 196.

[102] Vol. II., p. 110. Cmp. Frauenstädt, _A. Schopenhauer_, p. 467

[103] Collected Works, Vol. VII., p. 255 _ff._

[104] Alfred Meissner, _Heinrich Heine_, p. 138 _ff._

[105] Ludwig Kalisch, _Pariser Skizzen_, p. 334.

[106] Collected Works, Vol. VII., 473 _ff._

[107] Address at the celebration of Herr Lewandowski's fiftieth
anniversary as director of music.

[108] _Yoma_, 38_a_.

[109] Cmp. Fétis, _Histoire générale de la Musique_, Vol. I., p. 563

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