By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: History of the Jews, Vol. V (of 6)
Author: Graetz, Heinrich
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Jews, Vol. V (of 6)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




    VOL. V

    IN CENTRAL EUROPE (c. 1870 C. E.)





    Copyright, 1895, by


    _All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
    reproduced in any form without permission in
    writing from the publisher: except by a reviewer
    who may quote brief passages in a review to be
    printed in a magazine or newspaper._





  Condition of the Jews in Poland before the Outbreak of
    Persecution--Influence of the Jesuits--Characteristics of
    Poles and Jews--The Home of the Cossacks--Repression of the
    Cossacks by the Government--Jews appointed as Tax Farmers
    --Jurisdiction of the Synods--The Study of the Talmud in
    Poland--Hebrew Literature in that Country becomes entirely
    Rabbinical--Character of Polish Judaism--Jews and Cossacks
    --Chmielnicki--Sufferings of the Jews in Consequence of
    his Successes--The Tartar Haidamaks--Fearful Massacres
    in Nemirov, Tulczyn, and Homel--Prince Vishnioviecki--
    Massacres at Polonnoie, Lemberg, Narol, and in Other Towns--
    John Casimir--Lipmann Heller and Sabbataï Cohen--Renewal of
    the War between Cossacks and Poles--Russians join Cossacks
    in attacking the Jews--Charles X of Sweden--The Polish
    Fugitives--"Polonization" of Judaism                      _page_ 1

    1648-1656 C. E.



  Obstacles to the Resettlement of Jews in England--Manasseh
    ben Israel--His Character and Attainments--Christian
    Students of Jewish Literature: Scaliger, the Buxtorfs,
    Selden, and Vossius--Women devote themselves to Hebrew--
    The Fifth-Monarchy Men: Expectation of the Millennium--
    Enthusiastic Friends of the Jews--The Puritans--Cromwell
    and Holmes--Nicholas' Protection of the Jews--"The Hope
    of Israel"--Fresh Victims of the Inquisition--Manasseh
    ben Israel's Negotiations with the English Parliament--He
    journeys to London, and is graciously received by Cromwell
    --A Council sits at Whitehall to decide the Question of
    the Re-admission of the Jews--Prynne's anti-Jewish Work--
    Controversial Pamphlets--Manasseh's "Vindication"--The
    Re-admission of the Jews connived at                     _page_ 18

    1655-1657 C. E.



  Condition of Judaism--Complete Triumph of the Kabbala--
    The Disciples of Isaac Lurya--Vital Calabrese, Abraham de
    Herrera, and Isaiah Hurwitz--Immanuel Aboab--Uriel da
    Costa; his Career and Death--Leo Modena; his Character and
    his Writings--Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah Copia Sullam,
    Jewish Authoresses--Leo Modena's Veiled Scepticism--The
    Travels and Influence of Joseph Delmedigo--The Writings of
    Simone Luzzatto                                          _page_ 51

    1620-1660 C. E.



  Spinoza's Youth and Education--His Intellectual Breach with
    Judaism--Fresh Martyrs of the Inquisition--The Rabbis
    and Spinoza--Excommunication--Spinoza's "Tractate" and
    "Ethics"--Spinoza's Writings Concerning Judaism--Spinoza's
    Contemporaries in Amsterdam--De Paz and Penso--The Mystical
    Character of the Years 1648 and 1666--Sabbataï Zevi's Early
    Career--The Jerusalem Community--Sabbataï's Travels--
    Nathan Ghazati--Sabbataï announced in Smyrna as the Messiah
    --Spread of Enthusiastic Belief in the pseudo-Messiah--
    Manoel Texeira--Ritual Changes introduced by the Sabbatians
    --Sabbataï proceeds to Constantinople--Nehemiah Cohen--
    Sabbataï Zevi's Apostasy to Islam and its Consequences--
    Continuation of the Sabbatian Movement--Death of Sabbataï and
    Spinoza--Results of the Sabbatian Imposture              _page_ 86

    1656-1677 C. E.



  Jews under Mahometan Rulers--Expulsion from Vienna--Jews
    admitted by Elector Frederick William into the Mark of
    Brandenburg--Charge of Child-murder in Metz--Milder
    Treatment of Jews throughout Europe--Christian Champions
    of the Jews: Jurieu, Oliger Pauli, and Moses Germanus--
    Predilection of Christians for the Study of Jewish Literature
    --Richard Simon--Interest taken by Charles XI in the
    Karaites--Peringer and Jacob Trigland--German Attacks on
    Judaism by Wülfer, Wagenseil, and Eisenmenger--Circumstances
    of the Publication of _Judaism Unmasked_--The _Alenu_ Prayer
    --Surenhuysius, Basnage, Unger, Wolf, and Toland        _page_ 168

    1669-1700 C. E.



  Low Condition of the Jews at the End of the Seventeenth Century
    --Representatives of Culture: David Nieto, Jehuda Brieli--
    The Kabbala--Jewish Chroniclers--Lopez Laguna translates
    the Psalms into Spanish--De Barrios--The Race after Wealth
    --General Poverty of the Jews--Revival of Sabbatianism--
    Daniel Israel Bonafoux, Cardosa, Mordecai of Eisenstadt, Jacob
    Querido, and Berachya--Sabbatianism in Poland--Abraham
    Cuenqui--Judah Chassid--Chayim Malach--Solomon Ayllon
    --Nehemiah Chayon--David Oppenheim's Famous Library--
    Chacham Zevi--The Controversy on Chayon's Heretical Works in
    Amsterdam                                               _page_ 199

    1700-1725 C. E.



  Poetical Works of Moses Chayim Luzzatto--Luzzatto ensnared
    in the Kabbala--His Contest with Rabbinical Authorities--
    Luzzatto's Last Drama--Jonathan Eibeschütz--Character and
    Education of Eibeschütz--His Relations with the Jesuits in
    Prague--The Austrian War of Succession--Expulsion of the
    Jews from Prague--Eibeschütz becomes Rabbi of Altona--Jacob
    Emden--Eibeschütz charged with Heresy--The Controversy
    between Emden and Eibeschütz--The Amulets--Party Strife--
    Interference by Christians and the Civil Authorities--Revival
    of Sabbatianism--Jacob Frank Lejbowicz and the Frankists--
    The Doctrine of the Trinity--Excesses of the Frankists
                                                            _page_ 232

    1727-1760 C. E.



  Renaissance of the Jewish Race--Moses Mendelssohn--His
    Youth--Improves Hebrew Style--Lessing and Mendelssohn
    --Mendelssohn's Writings--The Bonnet-Lavater Controversy
    --Kölbele--The Burial Question--Reimarus--Anonymous
    Publication of his Work--Lessing's "Nathan the Wise"--
    Mendelssohn in "Nathan"--Mendelssohn's Pentateuch--
    Opposition to it--The "Berlin Religion"--Montesquieu--
    Voltaire--Portuguese Marranos in Bordeaux--Isaac Pinto
    --His Defense of Portuguese Jews--Dohm and Mendelssohn--
    Joseph II of Austria--Michaelis--Mendelssohn's "Jerusalem"
    --Wessely: his Circular Letter--Mendelssohn's Death
                                                            _page_ 291

    1750-1786 C. E.



  The Alliance of Reason with Mysticism--Israel Baalshem, his
    Career and Reputation--Movement against Rabbinism--The
    "Zaddik"--Beer Mizricz, his Arrogance and Deceptions--
    The Devotional Methods of the Chassidim--Their Liturgy--
    Dissolution of the Synods "of the Four Countries"--Cossack
    Massacres in Poland--Elijah Wilna, his Character and
    Method of Research--The Mizricz and Karlin Chassidim--
    Circumstances prove Favorable to the Spread of the New Sect--
    Vigorous Proceedings against them in Wilna--Death of Beer
    Mizricz--Progress of Chassidism despite the Persecution of
    its Opponents                                           _page_ 374

    1750-1786 C. E.



  The Progressionists--The Gatherer (Meassef)--David Mendes
    --Moses Ensheim--Wessely's Mosaid--Marcus Herz--
    Solomon Maimon--Culture of the Berlin Jews--Influence of
    French Literature--First Step for Raising the Jews--The
    Progressive and Orthodox Parties--The Society of Friends--
    Friedländer and Conversion--Depravity of Berlin Jewesses--
    Henrietta Herz--Humboldt--Dorothea Mendelssohn--Schlegel
    --Rachel--Schleiermacher--Chateaubriand                 _page_ 395

    1786-1791 C. E.



  Foreshadowing of the French Revolution--Cerf Berr--Mirabeau
    on the Jewish Question in France--Berr Isaac Berr--The
    Jewish Question and the National Assembly--Equalization of
    Portuguese Jews--Efforts to equalize Paris Jews--Jewish
    Question deferred--Equalization of French Jews--Reign of
    Terror--Equalization of Jews of Holland--Adath Jeshurun
    Congregation--Spread of Emancipation--Bonaparte in
    Palestine--Fichte's Jew-hatred--The Poll-Tax--Grund's
    "Petition of Jews of Germany"--Jacobson--Breidenbach--
    Lefrank--Alexander I of Russia: his Attempts to improve the
    Condition of the Jews of Russia                         _page_ 429

    1791-1805 C. E.



  Jew-hatred in Strasburg--Bonald's Accusations--Plots against
    French Jews--Furtado--David Sinzheim--Assembly of
    Notables--Italian Deputies--The Twelve Questions--Debate
    on Mixed Marriages--The Paris Synhedrion--Its Constitution
    --Napoleon's Enactments--Israel Jacobson--Consistory of
    Westphalia--Emancipation in Germany--In the Hanse-Towns--
    Restrictions in Saxony                                  _page_ 474

    1806-1813 C. E.



  The Jews in the Wars for Freedom--The Congress of Vienna--
    Hardenberg and Metternich--Rühs' Christian Germanism--
    Jew-hatred in Germany and Rome--German Act of Federation--
    Ewald's Defense of Judaism--Jew-hatred in Prussia--Lewis
    Way--Congress at Aix--Hep, hep Persecution--Hartwig Hundt
    --Julius von Voss--Jewish Avengers                      _page_ 510

    1813-1818 C. E.



  Börne and Heine--Börne's Youth--His Attitude to Judaism--
    His Love of Liberty--His Defense of the Jews--Heine: his
    Position with Regard to Judaism--The Rabbi of Bacharach--
    Heine's Thoughts upon Judaism--Influence of Börne and Heine
                                                            _page_ 536

    1819-1830 C. E.



  Segregation of the Jews--Its Results--Secession and Obstinate
    Conservatism--Israel Jacobson--His Reforms--The Hamburg
    Reform Temple Union--Gotthold Salomon--Decay of Rabbinical
    Authority--Eleazar Libermann--Aaron Chorin--Lazarus
    Riesser--Party Strife--Isaac Bernays--His Writings--
    Bernays in Hamburg--Mannheimer--His Congregation in Vienna
    --Berlin Society for Culture--Edward Gans--His Baptism--
    Collapse of the Society for Culture                     _page_ 557

    1818-1830 C. E.



  Dawn of Self-respect--Research into Jewish History--Hannah
    Adams--Solomon Löwisohn--Jost--His History--The
    Revolution of July (1830)--Gabriel Riesser--His Lectures--
    Steinheim--His Works--His "Revelation"--Nachman Krochmal
    --Rapoport--Erter--His Poems--Rapoport's Writings--
    Zunz--Luzzatto--His Exegesis--Geiger--The "Nineteen
    Letters" of Ben Usiel--New School of Reform--Joel Jacoby
                                                            _page_ 589

    1830-1840 C. E.



  Mehmet Ali--Ratti Menton--Damascus--Father Tomaso--His
    Disappearance--Blood Accusation against the Jews of Damascus
    --Imprisonment of Accused--Their Tortures and Martyrdom--
    Blood Accusation in Rhodes--In Prussia--Adolf Crémieux--
    Meeting of English Jews--Moses Montefiore--Nathaniel de
    Rothschild--Merlato, the Austrian Consul--Plots--Thiers
    --Steps taken by the Jews in Paris and London--Bernard van
    Oven--Mansion House Meeting--Montefiore, Crémieux, and
    others sent to Egypt--Solomon Munk                      _page_ 632

    1840 C. E.



  Return of Montefiore and Crémieux from the East--Patriotic
    Suggestions--General Indecision--Gabriel Riesser--Michael
    Creizenach--Reform Party in Frankfort--Rabbinical Assembly
    --Holdheim--Reform Association--Zachariah Frankel--The
    Berlin Reform Temple--Michael Sachs--His Character--His
    Biblical Exegesis--Holdheim and Sachs--The Jewish German
    Church--Progress of Jewish Literature--Ewald and his Works
    --Enfranchisement of English Jews--The Breslau Jewish
    College--Its Founders--The Mortara Case--Pope Pius IX
    --The Alliance Israélite--Astruc, Cohn, Caballo, Masuel,
    Netter--The American Jews--The "Union of American Hebrew
    Congregations"--The Anglo-Jewish Association--Benisch, Löwy
    --The "Israelitische Allianz"--Wertheimer, Goldschmidt,
    Kuranda--Rapid Social Advance of the Jews--Rise of
    Anti-Semitism                                           _page_ 667

    1840-1870 C. E.

  Retrospect                                                _page_ 705





  Condition of the Jews in Poland before the Outbreak of Persecution
    --Influence of the Jesuits--Characteristics of Poles and Jews
    --The Home of the Cossacks--Repression of the Cossacks by
    the Government--Jews appointed as Tax Farmers--Jurisdiction
    of the Synods--The Study of the Talmud in Poland--Hebrew
    Literature in that Country becomes entirely Rabbinical--
    Character of Polish Judaism--Jews and Cossacks--Chmielnicki
    --Sufferings of the Jews in consequence of his Successes--The
    Tartar Haidamaks--Fearful Massacres in Nemirov, Tulczyn, and
    Homel--Prince Vishnioviecki--Massacres at Polonnoie, Lemberg,
    Narol, and in other Towns--John Casimir--Lipmann Heller and
    Sabbataï Cohen--Renewal of the War between Cossacks and Poles
    --Russians join Cossacks in attacking the Jews--Charles X of
    Sweden--The Polish Fugitives--"Polonization" of Judaism.

1648-1656 C. E.

Poland ceased to be a haven for the sons of Judah, when its
short-sighted kings summoned the Jesuits to supervise the training of
the young nobles and the clergy and crush the spirit of the Polish
dissidents. These originators of disunion, to whom the frequent
partition of Poland must be attributed, sought to undermine the
unobtrusive power which the Jews, through their money and prudence,
exercised over the nobles, and they combined with their other foes,
German workmen and trades-people, members of the guilds, to restrict
and oppress them. After that time there were repeated persecutions
of Jews in Poland; sometimes the German guild members, sometimes the
disciples of the Jesuits, raised a hue and cry against them. Still, in
the calamities of the Thirty Years' War, fugitive Jews sought Poland,
because the canonical laws against Jews were not applied there with
strictness. The high nobility continued to be dependent on Jews, who
in a measure counterbalanced the national defects. Polish flightiness,
levity, unsteadiness, extravagance, and recklessness were compensated
for by Jewish prudence, sagacity, economy, and cautiousness. The Jew
was more than a financier to the Polish nobleman; he was his help
in embarrassment, his prudent adviser, his all-in-all. Especially
did the nobility make use of Jews in developing recently established
colonies, for which they had neither the necessary perseverance nor
the ability. Colonies had gradually been formed on the lower Dnieper
and the northern shore of the Black Sea, by runaway Polish serfs,
criminals, adventurers from every province, peasants, and nobles, who
felt themselves cramped and endangered in their homes. These outcasts
formed the root of the Cossack race at the waterfalls of the Dnieper
(Za-Porogi), whence the Cossacks obtained the name of Zaporogians. To
maintain themselves, they took to plundering the neighboring Tartars.
They became inured to war, and with every success their courage and
independent spirit increased.

The kings, who needed the Cossacks in military undertakings and to ward
off the inroads of Tartars and Turks, granted them some independence in
the Ukraine and Little Russia, and appointed a chieftain over them from
their own midst, an Attaman, or Hetman, with special marks of dignity.
But the bigoted temper of King Sigismund III and the Jesuits made the
Cossacks, who might have become an element of strength for Poland,
the source of endless discontent and rebellion. The Zaporogians for
the most part were adherents of the Greek Church, the Greek Catholic
confession being predominant in southern Poland. After the popes by
means of the Jesuits had weakened and oppressed the Polish dissidents,
they labored to unite the Greek Catholics with the Romish Church or to
extirpate them. With the warlike spirit of the Cossacks this change was
not easy; hence a regular system of enslavement was employed against
them. Three noble houses, the Koniecpolski, Vishnioviecki, and Potocki,
had control of colonization in the Ukraine and Little Russia, and
they transferred to their Jewish business agents the farming of the
oppressive imposts falling on the Cossacks. Thus Jewish communities
gradually spread in the Ukraine, Little Russia, and even beyond these
provinces. The Cossacks, for instance, had to pay a tax at the birth
of a child and on every marriage. That there might be no evasion, the
Jewish revenue farmers had the keys of the Greek churches, and when the
clergyman wished to perform a baptism or a marriage, he was obliged to
ask them for the key. In general, the position of the Jews in districts
where none but Poles dwelt was better than in those which besides
Polish inhabitants contained a German population, as was the case in
the large cities, Posen, Cracow, Lublin, and Lemberg.

By reason of their great number, their importance, and their compact
union, the Jews in Poland formed a state within a state. The general
synod, which assembled twice a year at Lublin and Jaroslaw, formed a
legislative and judicial parliament from which there was no appeal. At
first called the Synod of the Three Countries, it became in the first
quarter of the seventeenth century the Synod of the Four Countries
(Vaad Arba Arazoth). An elective president (Parnes di Arba Arazoth)
was at the head, and conducted public affairs. The communities and
rabbis had civil, and, to a certain extent, criminal, jurisdiction,
at least against informers and traitors. Hence no Jew ventured to
bring an accusation against one of his race before the authorities of
the country, fearing to expose himself to disgrace and contempt from
public opinion, which would have embittered his life, or even entailed
death. Almost every community had its college of judges, a rabbi with
two assessors, before whom every complaint was brought, but the final
decision rested with the synod. The synod also concerned itself about
honesty in dealing and conduct, and in weight and measure, wherever
Jews were affected.

The study of the Talmud in Poland, established by Shachna, Solomon
Lurya, and Moses Isserles, reached a pitch attained at no previous
time, nor in any other country. The demand for copies of the Talmud
was so great that in less than twenty years three editions had to be
printed, no doubt in thousands of copies. The study of the Talmud was
a greater necessity in Poland than in the rest of Europe. The rabbis,
as has been already said, had jurisdiction of their own, and decided
according to Talmudical and Rabbinical laws. The great number of
Jews in Poland, and their fondness for litigation, gave occasion to
intricate law cases. The rabbi-judges were obliged to go back to the
source of law, the Talmud, to seek points of support for such cases.
The contending parties being themselves well informed and acute, the
reasoning of the rabbis had to be flawless to escape criticism. Hence
Rabbinical civil law in Poland met with extraordinary cultivation
and extension, to adapt it to all cases and make it available for
the learned litigants. Thus the ever-growing subtlety of the method
of Talmud study depended on current conditions and wants, and on the
circumstance that each Talmudist wished to surpass all others in

It would be tedious to enumerate the Rabbinical authors of Poland
in the first half of the seventeenth century. The cultivation of a
single faculty, that of hair-splitting judgment, at the cost of the
rest, narrowed the imagination, hence not a single literary product
appeared in Poland deserving the name of poetry. All the productions
of the Polish school bore the Talmudical stamp, as the school regarded
everything from the Talmudical point of view. The disciples of this
school looked down almost with contempt on Scripture and its simple
grandeur, or rather it did not exist for them. How, indeed, could they
have found time to occupy themselves with it? And what could they do
with these children's stories, which did not admit the application
of intellectual subtlety? They knew something of the Bible from the
extracts read in the synagogues, and those occasionally quoted in
the Talmud. The faculty for appreciating the sublimity of biblical
doctrines and characters, as well as simplicity and elevation in
general, was denied them. A love of twisting, distorting, ingenious
quibbling, and a foregone antipathy to what did not lie within their
field of vision, constituted the character of the Polish Jews. Pride
in their knowledge of the Talmud and a spirit of dogmatism attached
even to the best rabbis, and undermined their moral sense. The
Polish Jews of course were extraordinarily pious, but even their
piety rested on sophistry and boastfulness. Each wished to surpass
the other in knowledge of what the Code prescribed for one case or
another. Thus religion sank, not merely, as among Jews of other
countries, to a mechanical, unintelligent ceremonial, but to a subtle
art of interpretation. To know better was everything to them; but
to act according to acknowledged principles of religious purity,
and exemplify them in a moral life, occurred to but few. Integrity
and right-mindedness they had lost as completely as simplicity and
the sense of truth. The vulgar acquired the quibbling method of the
schools, and employed it to outwit the less cunning. They found
pleasure and a sort of triumphant delight in deception and cheating.
Against members of their own race cunning could not well be employed,
because they were sharp-witted; but the non-Jewish world with which
they came into contact experienced to its disadvantage the superiority
of the Talmudical spirit of the Polish Jews. The Polish sons of the
Talmud paid little attention to the fact, that the Talmud and the great
teachers of Judaism object even more strongly to taking advantage of
members of a different faith than of those of their own race.

The corruption of the Polish Jews was avenged upon them in a terrible
way, and the result was, that the rest of the Jews in Europe were for
a time infected with it. With fatal blindness Polish Jews offered the
nobility and the Jesuits a helping hand in oppressing the Zaporogian
Cossacks in the Ukraine and Little Russia. The magnates wished to make
profitable serfs of the Cossacks, the Jesuits hoped to convert the
Greek heretics into Roman Catholics, the Jews settled in the district
expected to enrich themselves and play the lord over these pariahs.
They advised the possessors of the Cossack colonies how most completely
to humiliate, oppress, torment, and ill-use them; they usurped the
office of judges over them, and vexed them in their ecclesiastical
affairs. No wonder that the enslaved Cossacks hated the Jews, with whom
their relations were closest, almost more than their noble and clerical
foes. The Jews were not without warning what would be their lot, if
these embittered enemies once got the upper hand. In an insurrection
of the Zaporogians under their Hetman in about 1638, despite its
brief duration, they slew 200 Jews, and destroyed several synagogues.
Nevertheless, Jews lent a hand, when in consequence of the insurrection
the further enslavement of the sufferers was determined upon. In the
year 1648, fixed by that lying book, the Zohar, they expected the
coming of the Messiah and the time of redemption, when they would be
in power, and, therefore, they were more reckless and careless than was
their custom at other times. Bloody retribution was not long delayed,
and struck the innocent with the guilty, perhaps the former more
severely than the latter.

It proceeded from a man who understood how to make use of the
increasing hatred of the Cossacks for his purposes, and who was
regarded by his countrymen as their ideal. Bogdan Chmielnicki (Russian
Chmel), born about 1595, died 1657, before whom all Poland trembled
for several years, gave Russia the first opportunity of interfering
in the Polish republic, and was a frightful scourge for the Jews.
Chmielnicki, brave in war and artful in the execution of his plans,
impenetrable in his schemes, at once cruel and hypocritical, had been
vexed by Jews, when he held the subordinate position of camp secretary
(Pisar) of the Cossacks subject to the house of Koniecpolski. A Jew,
Zachariah Sabilenki, had played him a trick, by which he was robbed
of his wife and property. Another had betrayed him when he had come
to an understanding with the Tartars. Besides injuries which his race
had sustained from Jewish tax farmers in the Ukraine, he, therefore,
had personal wrongs to avenge. His remark to the Cossacks, "The Poles
have delivered us as slaves to the cursed breed of Jews," was enough
to excite them. Vengeance-breathing Zaporogians and booty-loving
Tartars in a short time put the Polish troops to flight by successful
manoeuvres (May 18, 1648). Potocki, the lieutenant-general, and 8,000
Poles, according to agreement, were delivered to the Tartars. After
the victory the wild troops went eastward from the Dnieper, between
Kiev and Pultava, plundering and murdering, especially the Jews who had
not taken flight; the number of the murdered reached several thousand.
Hundreds underwent baptism in the Greek Church, and pretended to be
Christians, in order to save themselves. Fortunate were those who fell
into captivity with the Tartars; they were transported to the Crimea,
and ransomed by Turkish Jews. Four Jewish communities (Porobischa
and others) of about 3,000 souls resolved to escape massacre by
surrendering to the Tartars with all their property. They were well
treated, and sold into Turkey, where they were ransomed in a brotherly
manner by those of their own race. The Constantinople community sent a
deputy to Holland to collect money from the rich communities for the
ransom of captives.

Unfortunately for the Poles and Jews, King Vladislav, for whom
Chmielnicki had shown some respect, was removed by death. During the
inter-regnum of several months, from May to October, 1648, the usual
Polish dissension occurred, which crippled every attempt at resistance.
At first Chmielnicki drew back, apparently inclined to negotiate with
the crown, but he gave his creatures full power to ravage the Polish
provinces. Regular troops of murderers, called Haidamaks (the Tartar
word for partisans), were formed under brutal leaders who cared not a
straw for human life, and who reveled in the death-struggles of their
Polish and Jewish foes. In the name of religion they were urged by the
Greek popes to murder Catholics and Jews. The commander of each troop
had his own method of exercising cruelty. One had thongs slung round
the necks of Catholic and Jewish women, by which they were dragged
along; this he called "presenting them with a red ribbon." A few weeks
after the first victory of the Cossacks, a troop under another of
these chiefs advanced against the stronghold of Nemirov, where 6,000
Jews, inhabitants and fugitives from the neighborhood, had assembled;
they were in possession of the fortress, and closed the gates. But
the Cossacks had an understanding with the Greek Christians in the
town, and put on Polish uniforms in order to be taken for Poles. The
Christian inhabitants urged the Jews to open the gates for their
friends. They did so, and were suddenly attacked by the Cossacks
and the inhabitants of the town, and almost entirely cut down amid
frightful tortures (Siwan 20--June 10, 1648).

Another Haidamak troop under Kryvonoss attacked the town of Tulczyn,
where about 600 Christians and 2,000 Jews had taken refuge in the
fortress. There were brave Jews among them, or necessity had made them
brave, and they would not die without resistance. Nobles and Jews
swore to defend the town and fortress to the last man. As the Cossack
peasants understood nothing of the art of siege, and had repeatedly
suffered severely from the sorties of Jews and Poles, they resorted
to a trick. They assured the nobles that their rage was directed only
against the Jews, their deadly foes; if these were delivered up,
they would withdraw. The infatuated nobles, forgetful of their oath,
proposed that the Jews should deliver up their arms to them. The Jews
at first thought of turning on the Poles for their treachery, as they
exceeded them in numbers. But the rabbi of Tulczyn warned them against
attacking the Poles, who would inflict bloody vengeance, and all Poland
would be excited against the Jews, who would be exterminated. He
implored them to sacrifice themselves for their brethren in the whole
country; perhaps the Cossacks would accept their property as ransom.
The Jews consented, and delivered up their arms, the Poles thereupon
admitting the troops into the town. After the latter had taken
everything from the Jews, they set before them the choice of death or
baptism. Not one of them would purchase life at that price; about 1,500
were tortured and executed before the eyes of the Polish nobles (Tamuz
4--June 24). The Cossacks left ten rabbis alive, in order to extort
large sums from the communities. The Poles were immediately punished
for their treachery. Deprived of the assistance of the Jews, they were
attacked by the Cossacks and slain, proving that violators of their
word cannot reckon on fidelity towards themselves. This sad event had
the good effect that the Poles always sided with the Jews, and were not
opposed to them in the course of the long war.

At the same time another Haidamak troop, under a leader named Hodki,
had penetrated into Little Russia, and caused dreadful slaughter
in the communities of Homel, Starodub, Czernigov, and other places
east and north of Kiev. The Jews of Homel are said to have suffered
martyrdom most firmly, on the same day on which the Tulczyn community
was annihilated. The leader of the troop had all the Jews of Homel,
inhabitants as well as fugitives, stripped outside the town, and
surrounded by Cossacks, and called upon them to be baptized or to
expect a most frightful death. They all, men, women, and children, to
the number of about 1,500, preferred death.

Prince Vishnioviecki, the only heroic figure amongst the Poles at that
time, a man of penetration, intrepid courage, and strategic ability,
defended the cause of the persecuted Jews with devoted zeal. He took
the fugitives under the protecting wings of his small, but brave force,
with which he everywhere pursued the Cossack bands to destruction. But,
because of his limited power, he could accomplish nothing of lasting
import. Through petty jealousy, he was passed over at the election of
the commander-in-chief against the Cossack insurrection, and instead of
him three were chosen, of a character calculated to help on Chmielnicki
to further victories.

Annoyed at the pitiful policy of the regent, the primate of Gnesen,
Vishnioviecki followed his own course, but was compelled to retreat
before the overpowering number of the roving troops and the Greek
Catholic population in sympathy with them, and so destruction was
brought on the Jews, who had reckoned on his heroic courage. In the
fortress of Polonnoie, between Zaslav and Zytomir, 10,000 Jews, partly
inhabitants, partly fugitives from the neighborhood, are said to have
perished at the hand of the besieging Haidamaks and the traitorous
inhabitants (Ab 13--July 22).

The unfortunate issue of the second war between Poles and Cossacks
(September, 1648), when the Polish army, more through dread of the
Tartars under Tugaï Bey and the incapacity of its generals, than
through Chmielnicki's bravery, was scattered in wild flight, and
collected only behind the walls of Lemberg, prepared a bloody fate even
for Jews who thought themselves safe at a distance from the field of
battle. There was no escape from the wild assaults of the Zaporogians,
unless they could reach the Wallachian borders. The blood of
slaughtered and maltreated Jews marked the vast tract from the southern
part of the Ukraine to Lemberg by way of Dubno and Brody; in the town
of Bar alone from two to three thousand perished. It scarcely need be
said that the brutal cruelty of the regular Cossacks, as well as of the
wild Haidamaks, made no distinction between Rabbanites and Karaites.
The important community of Lemberg lost many of its members through
hunger and pestilence, and its property besides, which it had to pay to
the Cossacks as ransom.

In the town of Narol the Zaporogians caused a revolting butchery.
It is said that in the beginning of November 45,000 persons, among
them 12,000 Jews, were slain there with the cruellest tortures. Among
the corpses remained living women and children, who for several days
had to feed on human flesh. Meanwhile the Haidamaks roamed about in
Volhynia, Podolia, and West Russia, and slaked their revenge in the
blood of nobles, Catholics, clergy, and Jews, to thousands and tens of
thousands. In Crzemieniec an inhuman monster slew hundreds of Jewish
children, scornfully examined the corpses as Jews do with cattle, and
threw them to the dogs. In many towns Jews, as well as Catholics, armed
themselves, and drove the bloodthirsty Cossacks away.

The election of a king, which finally was effected--and, though
the Polish state was on the brink of an abyss, it took place amidst
fights and commotions--put an end to bloodshed for the moment.
Although for the most part in a drunken condition, Chmielnicki retained
sobriety enough to dictate, among his conditions of peace, that no
Catholic church should be tolerated, nor any Jew live, in the Cossack
provinces. The commission, unable to accept the conditions, departed
without settling the business (February 16, 1649). The Jews, who had
reckoned upon a settlement, and returned to their home, paid for their
confidence with death, for the Cossacks surrounded the towns with
death-cries. Thus, a second time, many Jews and nobles perished at
Ostrog (March 4, 1649).

The breaking off of the negotiation with Chmielnicki led to a third
encounter. Although the Polish army this time appeared better armed on
the field of battle, it had as little success as before. In the battle
at Sbaráz it would have been completely destroyed by the Zaporogians
and Tartars, if the king had not wisely come to an understanding with
the Tartar chief. Thereupon followed the peace (August, 1649), which
confirmed Chmielnicki's programme, among other points that concerning
the Jews. In the chief seats of the Cossacks (_i. e._, in the Ukraine,
West Russia, in the district of Kiev, and a part of Podolia) they could
neither own or rent landed estates, nor live there.

In consequence of this convention, the Poles and Jews were unmolested
for about a year and a half, although on both sides schemes were
harbored to break the agreement at the first opportunity. As far as
residence was allowed them, the fugitive Jews returned to their homes.
King John Casimir allowed the Jews baptized according to the Greek
confession openly to profess Judaism. In consequence, the baptized Jews
fled from the Catholic districts to Poland to be free from compulsory
Christianity. This permission was especially used by Jewish women whom
the rude Zaporogians had married. The Jews brought back into Judaism
many hundreds of children, who had lost their parents and relatives,
and had been brought up in Christianity, investigated their descent,
and hung the indication of it in a small roll round their necks, that
they might not marry blood relations of forbidden degrees. The general
synod of rabbis and leaders which assembled at Lublin in 1650 occupied
itself entirely with the attempt to heal, at least partially, the
wounds of Judaism. Many hundreds, even thousands, of Jewish women did
not know whether their husbands lay in the grave, or were begging in
the East or West, in Turkey or Germany, whether they were widows or
wives, or they found themselves in other perplexities created by the
Rabbinical law. The synod of Lublin is said to have hit upon excellent
arrangements. Most probably the lenient Lipmann Heller, then rabbi of
Cracow, strove to effect a mild interpretation of the law relating to
supposed death. At the instigation of the young, genial rabbi Sabbataï
Cohen (Shach), the day of the first massacre at Nemirov (Siwan 20)
was appointed as a general fast day for the remnant of the Polish
community. The hoary Lipmann Heller, at Cracow, Sabbataï Hurwitz,
at Posen, and the young Sabbataï Cohen drew up penitential prayers
(Selichoth), mostly selected from older pieces, for this sad memorial

After a pause of a year and a half, the war between Cossacks and
Poles broke out in the early part of the year 1651, the first victims
again being Jews, as Chmielnicki and the wild Zaporogians now fell
upon the Polish territory where Jewish communities had again settled.
The massacre, however, could not be so extensive as before; there no
longer were thousands of Jews to slaughter. Moreover the evil days
had inspired the Jews with courage; they armed a troop of Jewish
soldiers, and enlisted them in the king's service. The fortune of
war turned against the Cossacks, and they were obliged to accept the
peace dictated by the king (November 11, 1651). John Casimir and his
ministers did not forget to guard the rights of the Jews in the treaty.
They were to be permitted to settle anywhere in the Ukraine, and to
hold property on lease.

This treaty also was concluded and ratified only to be broken.
Chmielnicki had accepted it to strengthen himself and restore his
reputation with the Cossacks. As soon as he had gained his first
object, he began hostilities against the Poles, from which Jews always
suffered most severely. In two years after the first insurrection of
the Zaporogians, more than 300 communities were completely destroyed by
death or flight, and the end of their suffering had not yet arrived.
The Polish troops could not withstand the violent attacks or skillful
policy of Chmielnicki. When he could no longer hope for help from the
Tartars, he combined with the Russians, and incited them to a war
against unhappy Poland, divided against itself. In consequence of the
Russian war in the early part of 1654 and 1655, those communities
suffered which had been spared by the Cossack swarms, _i. e._, the
western districts and Lithuania. The community of Wilna, one of the
largest, was completely depopulated (July, 1655) by slaughter on
the part of the Russians and by migration. As if fate were then
determining upon the partition of Poland, a new enemy was added to
the Cossacks and Russians in Charles X of Sweden, who used Poland as
the first available pretext to slake his thirst for war. Through the
Swedish war, the communities of Great and Little Poland, from Posen to
Cracow, were reduced to want and despair. The Jews of Poland had to
drink the cup of poison to the dregs. The Polish general, Czarnicki,
who hated the Jews, ill-used those spared by Cossacks, Russians, and
the wild Swedes of the Thirty Years' War, under the pretense that they
had a traitorous understanding with the Swedes. The Poles also behaved
barbarously to the Jews, destroyed the synagogues, and tore up the holy
scriptures. All Poland was like a bloody field of battle, on which
Cossacks, Russians, Prussians, Swedes, and the troops of Prince Ragoczi
of Transylvania wrestled; the Jews were ill-used or slain by all. Only
the Great Elector of Brandenburg behaved leniently towards them. The
number of Jewish families said to have perished in ten years of this
war (600,000) is certainly exaggerated, but the slaughtered Jews of
Poland may well be rated at a quarter of a million. With the decline of
Poland as a power of the first rank, the importance of Polish Judaism
diminished. The remnant were impoverished, depressed, and could not
recover their former position. Their need was so great, that those who
drifted to the neighborhood of Prussia hired themselves to Christians
as day laborers for field work.

As at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal
every place was filled with fugitive Sephardic Jews, so during the
Cossack-Polish war fugitive Polish Jews, wretched in appearance,
with hollow eyes, who had escaped the sword, the flames, hunger,
and pestilence; or who, dragged by the Tartars into captivity, had
been ransomed by their brethren, were seeking shelter everywhere.
Westwards, by way of Dantzic and through the Vistula district,
Jewish-Polish fugitives wandered to Amsterdam, and were forwarded
thence to Frankfort-on-the-Main and other Rhenish cities. Three
thousand Lithuanian Jews came to Texel in the Netherlands, and were
hospitably received. Southwards many fled to Moravia, Bohemia, Austria,
and Hungary, and wandered from those places to Italy. The prisoners
in the armies of the Tartars came to the Turkish provinces, and some
of them drifted to Barbary. Everywhere they were received by their
brethren with great cordiality and love, cared for, clothed, and
supported. The Italian Jews ransomed and supported them at great
sacrifice. Thus, the community of Leghorn at this time formed a
resolution to collect and spend a quarter of their income for the
liberation and maintenance of the unfortunate Polish Jews. The German
and Austrian communities, also, although they had suffered under the
calamities of the Thirty Years' War, exercised that brotherly feeling
which they rarely professed with their lips, but cherished the more
deeply in their hearts.

The number and misery of those escaped from Poland were so great, that
the German communities and probably others were obliged to devote the
money intended for Jerusalem to the maintenance of Polish Jews. The
Jews of Jerusalem dependent on alms, who were drained by the pasha and
his subordinates, felt the want of their regular support from Europe.
They soon fell into such distress, that of the 700 widows and a smaller
number of men living there nearly 400 are said to have died of hunger.

The Cossack persecution of the Jews, in a sense, remodeled Judaism. It
became Polonized, so to speak. The Polish-Rabbinical method of study
had long dominated the Talmudical schools of Germany and Italy through
the abundant literature by Polish authors. Now, through the fugitives,
most of whom were Talmudical scholars, it became authoritative.
Rabbinical appointments were mostly conferred on Polish Talmudists,
as in Moravia, Amsterdam, Fürth, Frankfort, and Metz. On account of
their superiority in their department, these Polish Talmudists were
as proud as the Spanish and Portuguese fugitives had been, and looked
down with contempt on the rabbis who spoke German, Portuguese, and
Italian. Far from giving up their own method in a foreign country,
they demanded that all the world should be regulated by them, and they
gained their point. People joked about the "Polacks," but nevertheless
became subordinate to them. Whoever wished to acquire thorough Talmudic
and Rabbinical knowledge was obliged to sit at the feet of Polish
rabbis; every father of a family who wished to educate his children
in the Talmud sought a Polish rabbi for them. These Polish rabbis
gradually forced their sophistical piety upon the German, and partly
on the Portuguese, and Italian, communities. Through their influence,
scientific knowledge and the study of the Bible declined still more
than previously. In the century of Descartes and Spinoza, when the
three Christian nations, the French, English, and Dutch, gave the
death-blow to the Middle Ages, Jewish-Polish emigrants, baited by
Chmielnicki's bands, brought a new middle age over European Judaism,
which maintained itself in full vigor for more than a century, to some
extent lasting to our time.



  Obstacles to the Resettlement of Jews in England--Manasseh ben
    Israel--His Character and Attainments--Christian Students of
    Jewish Literature: Scaliger, the Buxtorfs, Selden, and Vossius
    --Women devote themselves to Hebrew--The Fifth-Monarchy
    Men: Expectation of the Millennium--Enthusiastic Friends of
    the Jews--The Puritans--Cromwell and Holmes--Nicholas'
    Protection of the Jews--"The Hope of Israel"--Fresh Victims
    of the Inquisition--Manasseh ben Israel's Negotiations with the
    English Parliament--He journeys to London, and is graciously
    received by Cromwell--A Council sits at Whitehall to decide the
    Question of the Re-admission of the Jews--Prynne's anti-Jewish
    Work--Controversial Pamphlets--Manasseh's "Vindication"--
    The Re-admission of the Jews connived at.

1655-1657 C. E.

At the very time when the Jews of Poland were trodden down,
slaughtered, or driven through Europe like terrified wild beasts, a
land of freedom was opened, from which the Jews had been banished for
more than three centuries and a half. England, which the wise queen
Elizabeth and the brave Cromwell had raised to be the first power
in Europe, a position very different from that of crumbling Poland,
again admitted Jews, not indeed through the great portal, yet through
the back door. But this admission was so bruited abroad, that it was
like a triumph for Judaism. The Jews of Amsterdam and Hamburg looked
with longing to this island, to which they were so near, with whose
merchants, shipowners, and scholars they were in connection, and which
promised wide scope for the exercise of their varied abilities. But
settlement there seemed beset with insuperable obstacles. The English
episcopal church, which exercised sway over the English conscience,
was even more intolerant than the popery which it persecuted. Not
granting freedom to Catholics and Dissenters, would it tolerate the
descendants of those aspersed in the New Testament? The English people,
who for centuries had seen no Jew, shared to the full the antipathy of
the clergy. To them every Jew was a Shylock, who, with hearty goodwill,
would cut a Christian to pieces--a monster in human form, bearing
the mark of Cain. Who would undertake to banish this strong prejudice
in order to render people and rulers favorable to the descendants of

The man who undertook and executed this difficult task did not belong
to the first rank of intellectual men, but possessed the right measure
of insight and narrowness, strength of will and flexibility, knowledge
and imagination, self-denial and vanity, required for so arduous an
undertaking. Manasseh ben Israel, second or third rabbi at Amsterdam,
who at home played only a subordinate part, the poor preacher who, to
support his family, was obliged to resort to printing, but obtained
so little profit from it, that he wished to exchange pulpit oratory
for mercantile speculation, and was near settling in Brazil; he it was
who won England for Judaism, and, if he did not banish, diminished
the prejudice against his race. To him belongs the credit for a
service not to be lightly estimated, for there were but few to help
him. The release of the Jews from their thousand years' contempt and
depreciation in European society, or rather the struggle for civil
equality, begins with Manasseh ben Israel. He was the Riesser of the
seventeenth century. As has been stated, he was not in the true sense
great, and can only be reckoned a man of mediocrity. He belonged to the
happily constituted class of persons, who do not perceive the harsh
contrasts and shrill discords in the world around, hence are confiding
and enterprising. His heart was deeper than his mind. His power rested
in his easy eloquence, his facility in explaining and working out
ideas which lay within his narrow field of vision, and which he had
acquired rather than produced. Manasseh ben Israel had complete grasp
of Jewish literature, and knew the Christian theology of his time, and
what was to be said on each point, _i. e._, what had been said by his
predecessors. On the other hand, he had only a superficial knowledge
of those branches of learning which require keenness of intellect,
such as philosophy and the Talmud. His strength was in one respect his
weakness. His facility in speaking and writing encouraged a verbose
style and excessive productiveness. He left more than 400 sermons in
Portuguese, and a mass of writings that fill a catalogue, but discuss
their subjects only superficially. Manasseh's contemporaries looked
upon his writings with different eyes. The learning amassed therein
from all literatures and languages, and the smoothness of form riveted
their attention, and excited their admiration. Among Jews he was
extraordinarily celebrated; whoever could produce Latin, Portuguese, or
Spanish verse, made known his praise. But even Christian scholars of
his time over-estimated him.

In Holland, which, by the concurrence of many circumstances, and
especially through the powerful impulse of Joseph Scaliger, the
prince of philologists, had become in a sense the school of Europe,
the foundation was laid in the seventeenth century for the wonderful
learning contained in voluminous folios. At no time had there been
so many philologists with early-matured learning, iron memory, and
wonderful devotion to the science of language, as in the first half
of the seventeenth century, which seems to have been specially
appointed to revive what had so long been neglected. All the literary
treasures of antiquity were collected and utilized; statesmen vied with
professional scholars. In this gigantic collection there was little
critical search for truth; the chief consideration was the number of
scientific facts gathered. The ambition of many was spurred on to
understand the three favored languages of antiquity--Greek, Latin,
and Hebrew--and their literatures. Hebrew, the language of religion,
enjoyed special preference, and whoever understood it as well as the
other two tongues was sure of distinction. Joseph Scaliger, the oracle
of Dutch and Protestant theology, had given to Rabbinical literature,
so-called, a place in the republic of letters beside the Hebrew
language, and even the Talmud he treated with a certain amount of
respect. His Dutch, French, and English disciples followed his example,
and devoted themselves with zeal to this branch of knowledge, formerly
regarded with contempt or even aversion.

John Buxtorf, senior (born 1564, died 1639), of Basle, may be said
to have been master of Hebrew and Rabbinical literature, and he
rendered them accessible to Christian circles. He carried on a lively
correspondence in Hebrew with Jewish scholars in Amsterdam, Germany,
and Constantinople. Even ladies devoted themselves to Hebrew language
and literature. That prodigy, Anna Maria Schurmann, of Utrecht, who
knew almost all European languages and their literature, corresponded
in Hebrew with scholars, and also with an English lady, Dorothea Moore,
and quoted Rashi and Ibn-Ezra with a scholar's accuracy. The eccentric
queen Christina of Sweden, the learned daughter of Gustavus Adolphus,
understood Hebrew. Statesmen, such as Hugo Grotius, and the Englishman
John Selden, seriously and deeply engaged in its pursuit for their
theological or historical studies.

But Christian scholars, with all their zeal, had not yet acquired
independence in Rabbinical literature; without a Jewish guide, they
could not move, or felt unsafe. To Christian inquirers, therefore,
Manasseh ben Israel's treatises, which presented many Rabbinical
passages and new points of view, were highly welcome. Much of the
Talmudic literature became accessible through his clear exposition.
Hence, Dutch scholars sought out Manasseh, courted his friendship,
fairly hung upon his lips, and gradually discarded prejudice against
Jews, which even the most liberal-minded men in the most tolerant
country of Europe had not laid aside. Manasseh was joined particularly
by those eager inquirers who were persecuted or declared heretics
by the ruling church. The learned Vossius family, even John Gerard
Vossius, senior, although filled with strong hatred against Jews, was
affable to Manasseh. His son, Dionysius Vossius, a prodigy of learning,
snatched away by death in his eighteenth year, on his death-bed
translated into Latin Manasseh's "Reconciler" (Conciliador) shortly
after its appearance. Isaac Vossius, the youngest son, who filled an
honorable office under the queen of Sweden, recommended Manasseh ben
Israel to her. By this family he was made acquainted with the learned
statesman Hugo Grotius, who also received instruction from him. The
chief of the Arminians, Simon Episcopius, sought intercourse with
Manasseh, as did Caspar Barlæus, who as a Socinian, _i. e._, a denier
of the Trinity, was avoided by orthodox Christians. He attached himself
to Manasseh, and sang his praise in Latin verses, on which account he
was attacked yet more violently, because he had put the Jewish faith on
an equality with the Christian. The learned Jesuit Peter Daniel Huet
also cultivated his friendship. Gradually the Chacham and preacher
of Amsterdam acquired such a reputation among Christians, that every
scholar traveling through that city sought him out as an extraordinary
personage. Foreigners exchanged letters with him, and obtained from
him explanations on difficult points. Manasseh had an interview with
Queen Christina of Sweden, which stimulated her kindness for the Jews,
and her liking for Jewish literature. So highly did many Christians
rate Manasseh ben Israel, that they could not suppress the wish to see
so learned and excellent a rabbi won over to Christianity.

Most of all Christian visionaries, who dreamt of the coming of the
Fifth Monarchy, the reign of the saints (in the language of Daniel),
crowded round Manasseh ben Israel. The Thirty Years' War which had
delivered property and life over to wild soldiers, the tyrannical
oppression of believers struggling for inward freedom and morality--in
England by the bishops and the secular government, in France by the
despotic Richelieu--awakened in visionaries the idea that the Messianic
millennium, announced in the book of Daniel and the Apocalypse, was
near, and that their sufferings were only the forerunners of the time
of grace. These fantastic visionaries showed themselves favorable
to the Jews; they wished this great change to be effected with the
participation of those to whom the announcement had first been made.
They conceded that the Jews must first take possession of the Holy
Land, which could not easily be accomplished, even by a miracle. For,
the lost Ten Tribes must first be found, and gathered together, if the
prophetic words were not to fall to the ground. The tribes assembled to
take possession of the Holy Land must have their Messiah, a shoot out
of the stem of Jesse. But what would become of Jesus, the Christ,
_i. e._, Messiah, in whom Jews could not be made to believe? Some of the
Fifth Monarchy visionaries conceded to Jews a Messiah of their own, in
the expectation that the struggle for precedence between the Jewish and
the Christian saviour would decide itself.

Such apocalyptic dreams struck a responsive chord in Manasseh ben
Israel's heart. He also expected, not the reign of the saints, but,
according to Kabbalistic reckoning, the speedy advent of the Messianic
time. The Zohar, the book revered by him as divine, announced in
unambiguous terms, that Israel's time of grace would begin with the
year 5408 of the world (1648). Manasseh in his innermost being was
a mystic, his classical and literary education being only external
varnish, not diminishing his belief in miracles. Hence he was pleased
with the letter of a Christian visionary of Dantzic, expressing belief
in the restoration of the glory of the Jews. John Mochinger, of the
old Tyrolese nobility, who had fallen into the whirlpool of mysticism,
wrote to Manasseh ben Israel in the midst of an eulogium on his
learning: "Know and be convinced that I duly honor your doctrines,
and together with some of my brethren in the faith, earnestly desire
that Israel may be enlightened with the true light, and enjoy its
ancient renown and happiness." At a later period another German mystic
of Dantzic established relations with the Kabbalistic Chacham of
Amsterdam--viz., Abraham von Frankenberg, a nobleman, and a disciple of
Jacob Böhme. He openly said: "The true light will come from the Jews;
their time is not far off. From day to day news will be heard from
different places of wonderful things come to pass in their favor, and
all the islands shall rejoice with them." In daily intercourse with
Manasseh were two Christian friends, Henry Jesse and Peter Serrarius,
who were enthusiasts in the cause of Israel's restoration. In France,
in the service of the great Condé, there was a peculiar visionary,
Isaac La Peyrère of Bordeaux, a Huguenot, perhaps of Jewish-Marrano
blood. He had the strange notion that there were men before Adam
(pre-Adamites), from whom all men except the Jews were descended.
In a book on the subject, which brought him to the dungeon of the
Inquisition, he attached great importance to the Jews. In another work
on "The Return of the Jews," he maintained that the Jews ought to be
recalled from their dispersion in all parts of the world, to effect a
speedy return to the Holy Land. The king of France, the eldest son of
the Church, has the duty to bring about this return of the eldest son
of God. He, too, entered into communication with Manasseh.

The greatest number of ardent admirers "God's people" found in England,
precisely among those who had powerful influence in the council and the
camp. At the time when the Germans were fighting each other on account
of difference of creed, invoking the interference of foreigners,
and impairing their own freedom and power, England was gaining what
could never be taken away, religious and, at the same time, political
freedom, and this made it a most powerful and prosperous country. In
Germany the religious parties, Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists,
in selfish blindness demanded religious freedom each for itself
alone, reserving oppression and persecution for the others. These
internecine quarrels of the Germans were utilized by the princes to
confirm their own despotic power. In England, the same selfishness
prevailed among the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Catholics, but
a fourth party arose whose motto was religious freedom for all. The
senseless despotism of Charles I and the narrow-mindedness of the
Long Parliament had played into the hands of this intelligent and
powerful party. England, like Germany, resembled a great blood-stained
battle-field, but it had produced men who knew what they wanted, who
staked their lives for it, and effected the rejuvenescence of the
nation. Oliver Cromwell was at once the head which devised, and the
arm which executed sound ideas. By the sword he and his army obtained
religious freedom, not only for themselves, but also for others. He and
his officers were not revengeful freebooters or blood-thirsty soldiers,
but high-minded, inspired warriors of God, who waged war against
wickedness and falseness, and hoped for, and undertook to establish a
moral system of government, the kingdom of God. Like the Maccabees of
old, the Puritan warriors fought "sword in hand, and praise of God in
their mouth." Cromwell and his soldiers read the Bible as often as they
fought. But not out of the New Testament could the Roundheads derive
inspiration and warlike courage. The Christian Bible, with its monkish
figures, its exorcists, its praying brethren, and pietistic saints,
supplied no models for warriors contending with a faithless king, a
false aristocracy, and unholy priests. Only the great heroes of the
Old Testament, with fear of God in their hearts and the sword in their
hands, at once religious and national champions, could serve as models
for the Puritans: the Judges, freeing the oppressed people from the
yoke of foreign domination; Saul, David, and Joab, routing the foes of
their country; and Jehu, making an end of an idolatrous and blasphemous
royal house--these were favorite characters with Puritan warriors.
In every verse of the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, they
saw their own condition reflected; every psalm seemed composed for
them, to teach them that, though surrounded on every side by ungodly
foes, they need not fear while they trusted in God. Oliver Cromwell
compared himself to the judge Gideon, who first obeyed the voice of
God hesitatingly, but afterwards courageously scattered the attacking
heathens; or to Judas Maccabæus, who out of a handful of martyrs formed
a host of victorious warriors.

To bury oneself in the history, prophecy, and poetry of the Old
Testament, to revere them as divine inspiration, to live in them with
every emotion, yet not to consider the people who had originated all
this glory and greatness as preferred and chosen, was impossible. Among
the Puritans, therefore, were many earnest admirers of "God's people,"
and Cromwell was one of them. It seemed a marvel that the people, or
a remnant of the people, whom God had distinguished by great favor
and stern discipline, should still exist. A desire was excited in the
hearts of the Puritans to see this living wonder, the Jewish people,
with their own eyes, to bring Jews to England, and, by making them part
of the theocratic community about to be established, stamp it with the
seal of completion. The sentiments of the Puritans towards the Jews
were expressed in Oliver Cromwell's observation, "Great is my sympathy
with this poor people, whom God chose, and to whom He gave His law;
it rejects Jesus, because it does not recognize him as the Messiah."
Cromwell dreamt of a reconciliation of the Old and the New Testament,
of an intimate connection between the Jewish people of God and the
English Puritan theocracy. But other Puritans were so absorbed in the
Old Testament that the New Testament was of no importance. Especially
the visionaries in Cromwell's army and among the members of Parliament,
who were hoping for the Fifth Monarchy, or the reign of the saints,
assigned to the Jewish people a glorious position in the expected
millennium. A Puritan preacher, Nathaniel Holmes (Holmesius), wished,
according to the letter of many prophetic verses, to become the servant
of Israel, and serve him on bended knees. The more the tension in
England increased through the imprisonment of the king, the dissensions
between the Presbyterian Long Parliament and the Puritan army, the
civil war, the execution of King Charles, and the establishment of
a republic in England, the more public life and religious thought
assumed Jewish coloring. The only thing wanting to make one think
himself in Judæa was for the orators in Parliament to speak Hebrew.
One author proposed the seventh day as the day of rest, and in a work
showed the holiness of this day, and the duty of the English people
to honor it. This was in the beginning of 1649. Parliament, it is
true, condemned this work to be burnt as heretical, scandalous, and
profane, and sentenced the printer and author to punishment. But the
Israelite spirit among the Puritans, especially among the Levelers, or
ultra-republicans, was not suppressed by these means. Many wished the
government to declare the Torah to be the code for England.

These proceedings in the British islands, which promised the exaltation
of Israel at no distant period, were followed by Manasseh with beating
heart. Did these voices not announce the coming of the Messianic
kingdom? He hoped so, and put forth feverish activity to help to bring
about the desired time. He entertained a visionary train of thought.
The Messiah could not appear till the punishment of Israel, to be
scattered from one end of the earth to the other, had been fulfilled.
There were no Jews then living in England. Exertions must be made to
obtain permission for Jews to dwell in England, that this hindrance
to the advent of the Messiah might be removed. Manasseh therefore put
himself into communication with some important persons, who assured him
that "the minds of men were favorable to the Jews, and that they would
be acceptable and welcome to Englishmen." What especially justified
his hopes was the "Apology" by Edward Nicholas, former secretary to
Parliament, "for the honorable nation of the Jews." In this work, which
the author dedicated to the Long Parliament, the Jews were treated,
as the chosen people of God, with a tenderness to which they were not
accustomed. Hence the author felt it necessary to affirm at the end,
that he wrote it, not at the instigation of Jews, but out of love to
God and his country. The opinion of the apologist was, that the great
sufferings brought upon England by the religious and civil war were a
just punishment for English persecution of the saints and favorites
of God, _i. e._, the Jews, and an urgent admonition to atone for this
great sin by admitting them and showing them brotherly treatment. The
author proved the preference and selection of Israel by many biblical
quotations. He referred to a preacher who had said in Parliament in
connection with the verse: "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets
no harm," that the weal or woe of the world depended upon the good or
bad treatment of God's people. God in His secret counsel had sustained
this people to the present day, and a glorious future was reserved for
them. Hence it was the duty of Englishmen to endeavor to comfort them,
if possible give them satisfaction for their innocent blood shed in
this kingdom, and enter into friendly intercourse with them. This work
also defends the Jews against the accusation of having crucified Jesus.
The death of Jesus took place at the instigation of the Synhedrion, not
of the people. In most impressive terms it urges the English to comfort
the afflicted and unhappy Jews. The pope and his adherents, he said,
would be enraged at the kind treatment of the Jews, for they still
inflicted cruelty and humiliation upon the people of God, the popes
compelling the Jews to wear opprobrious badges, and Catholics avoiding
all contact with them, because they abhorred idols and heathen worship.

This work, which, more than friendly, absolutely glorified the Jews,
excited the greatest attention in England and Holland. Manasseh ben
Israel was delighted with it, thinking that he was near his object,
especially as his friend Holmes at once communicated with him on the
subject, saying that he himself was about to prepare a work on the
millennium, in which he would emphasize the importance of the Jews
in the molding of the future. Manasseh ben Israel immediately set
to work to do his share towards the realization of his object. He,
however, as well as the Christian mystics in England, had one anxiety;
what had become of the lost Ten Tribes banished by the Assyrian king
Shalmanassar? A restoration of the Jewish kingdom without these Ten
Tribes seemed impossible, nay, their discovery was the guarantee of
the truth of the prophetic promises. The union of Judah and Israel
which some of the prophets had impressively announced would remain
unfulfilled if the Ten Tribes had ceased to exist. Manasseh, therefore,
laid great stress upon being able to prove their existence somewhere.
Fortunately he was in a position to specify the situation of the
Ten Tribes. Some years before, a Jewish traveler, named Montezinos,
had affirmed on oath that he had seen native Jews of the tribe of
Reuben, in South America, and had held communication with them. The
circumstantiality of his tale excited curiosity, and inclined his
contemporaries to belief. Antonio de Montezinos was a Marrano, whom
business or love of travel had led to America. There he had stumbled
upon a Mestizo (Indian), who had excited in him a suspicion that
members of his race were living in America, persecuted and oppressed
by the Indians, as the Indians had been by the Spaniards, and later
experiences confirmed the suspicion.

Antonio de Montezinos, or Aaron Levi, had brought the surprising news
to Amsterdam, and had related it under oath to a number of persons,
among them Manasseh ben Israel (about 1644). Afterwards he went to
Brazil, and there died. On his deathbed he repeatedly asserted the
truth of the existence of some Israelite tribes in America. Manasseh
ben Israel was firmly convinced by the statement of this man, and made
it the foundation of a work, entitled "Israel's Hope," composed to
pave the way for the Messianic time. The Ten Tribes, according to his
assumption, had been dispersed to Tartary and China, and some might
have gone thence to the American continent. Some indications and
certain manners and customs of the Indians, resembling those of the
Jews, seemed to him to favor this idea. The prophetic announcement of
the perpetuity of the Israelite people had accordingly been confirmed;
moreover there were signs that the tribes were ready to come forth from
their hiding-places and unite with the others. The time of redemption,
which, it was true, could not be foretold, and in the calculation of
which many had erred, appeared at last to be approaching. The prophets'
threats of punishment to the Jews had been fulfilled in a terrible
manner; why should not their hope-awakening promises be verified? What
unspeakable cruelty the monster of the Inquisition had inflicted, and
still continued to inflict, on the poor innocents of the Jewish race,
on adults and children of every age and either sex! For what reason?
Because they would not depart from the Law of Moses, revealed to
them amidst so many miracles. For it numberless victims had perished
wherever the tyrannical rule of the Inquisition was exercised. And
martyrs continued to show incredible firmness, permitting themselves to
be burnt alive to honor the name of God.

Manasseh enumerated all the autos-da-fé of Marranos and other Jewish
martyrs which had taken place in his time.

Great excitement was caused among Dutch Portuguese Jews by the burning
of a young Marrano, twenty-five years old, well read in Latin and Greek
literature. Isaac de Castro-Tartas, born at Tartas, a small town in
Gascony, had come with his parents to Amsterdam. Glowing with zeal
and a desire to bring back to Judaism those Marranos who continued
Christians, he prepared to travel to Brazil. In vain his parents and
friends warned him against this mad step. In Bahia he was arrested by
the Portuguese, recognized as a Jew, sent to Lisbon, and handed over to
the Inquisition. This body had no formal right over Isaac de Castro,
for when arrested he was a Dutch citizen. The tribunal in vain tried
to induce him to abjure Judaism. Young De Castro-Tartas was determined
manfully to endure a martyr's death in honor of his faith. His death
was attended with the _éclat_ he had longed for. In Lisbon the funeral
pile was kindled for him and several others, on December 22d, 1647. He
cried out of the flames, "Hear, O Israel, God is one," in so impressive
a tone that the witnesses of the dreadful spectacle were greatly moved.
For several days nothing else was talked of in the capital but the
dreadful voice of the martyr Isaac de Castro-Tartas and the "Shema,"
uttered with his last breath. People spoke of it shudderingly. The
Inquisition was obliged to forbid the uttering of the word "Shema" with
a threat of heavy punishment. It is said, too, that at that time it was
determined to burn no more Jewish heretics alive in Lisbon.

The Amsterdam community was stunned by the news of successive
executions of youthful sufferers. De Castro-Tartas had parents,
relatives, and friends in Amsterdam, and was beloved on account of
his knowledge and character. The rabbi, Saul Morteira, delivered a
memorial address on his death. Poets deplored and honored him in
Hebrew and Spanish verses, and, horrified by the new atrocities of
the Inquisition against Jews, Manasseh ben Israel wrote "Israel's
Hope." Even the reader of to-day can feel grief trembling in every
word. Indeed, if martyrs could prove the truth and tenability of the
cause for which they bleed, Judaism needs no further proof; for no
people and no religion on earth have produced such numerous and firm
martyrs. Manasseh used this proof to draw the conclusion that, as
promised sufferings had been inflicted, so the promised redemption
and regeneration of God's people would be fulfilled. He sent this
Latin treatise on the existence of the Ten Tribes and their hopes
to a prominent and learned personage in England, to be read before
Parliament, which was under Cromwell's influence, and before the
Council of State. In an accompanying letter Manasseh explained to
Parliament his favorite idea, that the return of the Jews to their
native land--the time for which was so near--must be preceded by
their complete dispersion. The dispersion, according to the words of
Scripture, was to be from one end of the earth to the other, naturally
including the island of England, in the extreme north of the inhabited
world. But for more than 300 years no Jews had lived in England;
therefore, he added the request that the Council and Parliament grant
Jews permission to settle in England, to have the free exercise of
their religion, and to build synagogues there (1650). Manasseh made no
secret of his Messianic hopes, because he could and did reckon upon the
fact that the saints or Puritans themselves wished for the "assembling
of God's people" in their ancestral home, and were inclined to help and
promote it. He also intimated in his letter, that he was resolved to go
to England, to arrange for the settlement of the Jews.

Manasseh ben Israel had not reckoned amiss. His request and dedication
were favorably received by Parliament. Lord Middlesex, probably the
mediator, sent him a letter of thanks with the superscription, "To my
dear brother, the Hebrew philosopher, Manasseh ben Israel." A passport
to England was also sent to him. The English ambassador in Holland,
Lord Oliver St. John, a relative of Cromwell, told him that he wished
to go to the Amsterdam synagogue, and gave him to understand, probably
according to Cromwell's instructions, that England was inclined to
gratify the long-cherished wish of the Jews. Manasseh took care that
he be received in the house of prayer with music and hymns (about
August, 1651). However, the goal to which he seemed so near was removed
by political complications. England and Holland entered into a fierce
war, which broke off the connection between Amsterdam and London.
Manasseh's relations to his elder colleague, Saul Morteira (1652), and
the president, Joseph da Costa--it is not known on what account--became
strained, and in an angry mood he formed the resolution to leave
Amsterdam. The directors of the community succeeded in establishing
a tolerable understanding between the two chachams, but Manasseh had
neither the cheerfulness required nor a favorable opportunity to resume
his adventurous scheme.

But when Oliver Cromwell, by the illegal but necessary dissolution
of the Long Parliament, assumed the chief power in April, 1653, and
showed an inclination to conclude peace with the States General,
Manasseh again took up his project. Cromwell had called together a new
parliament, the so-called Short, or Barebones, Parliament, which was
composed wholly of saints, _i. e._, Puritan preachers, officers with a
biblical bias, and millennium visionaries. The partiality of Cromwell's
officers for the old Jewish system is shown by the serious proposition
that the Council of State should consist of seventy members, after the
number of the Jewish synhedrion. In Parliament sat General Harrison, a
Baptist, who, with his party, wished to see the Mosaic law introduced
into England. When Parliament met (July 5, 1653), Manasseh hastened
to repeat his request, that Jews be granted permission to reside in
England. The question of the Jews was immediately put on the programme
of business. Parliament sent Manasseh a safe conduct to London, that
he might conduct the business in person. As the war between England and
Holland still continued, his relatives and friends urged him not to
expose himself to the danger of a daily change of affairs, and he again
put off his voyage to a more favorable time. The Short Parliament was
soon dissolved (December 12, 1653), and Cromwell obtained kingly power
under the title of Protector of the Realm. When he concluded peace
with Holland (April, 1654), Manasseh thought the time well suited for
effecting his wishes for the redemption of Israel. He was encouraged
by the fact that three admirals of the English fleet had drawn up
a petition in October, 1654, to admit Jews into England. Manasseh
presented his petition for their admission to Cromwell's second, still
shorter Parliament, and, probably at his instigation, David Abrabanel
Dormido, one of the leading men at Amsterdam, at the same time
presented one to the same effect, which Cromwell urgently recommended
to the Council for speedy decision (November 3, 1654).

Manasseh reveled in intoxicating dreams of the approaching glorious
time for Israel. He regarded himself as the instrument of Providence
to bring about its fulfillment. In these dreams he was upheld and
confirmed by Christian mystics, who were eagerly awaiting the
millennium. The Dutchman, Henry Jesse, had shortly before published a
work, "On the Speedy Glory of Judah and Israel," in the Dutch language.
The Bohemian physician, mystic, and alchemist, Paul Felgenhauer,
went beyond the bounds of reason. Disgusted with the formal creed of
the Evangelical Church, and the idolatrous tendency of Catholicism,
he wrote during the Thirty Years' War against the corruption of the
Church and the Protestant clergy, and wished for a spiritual, mystical
religion. By a peculiar calculation, Felgenhauer was led to believe
that the year six thousand and the advent of the Messiah connected
with it were not far off. Persecuted in Germany by Catholics and
Protestants, he sought an asylum in Amsterdam, and there formed the
acquaintance of Manasseh ben Israel. Between these men and a third
visionary, Peter Serrarius, the speedy coming of the Messianic time
was often the subject of conversation. Felgenhauer then composed an
original work (December, 1654) entitled "Good News of the Messiah
for Israel! The redemption of Israel from all his sufferings, his
deliverance from captivity, and the glorious advent of the Messiah are
nigh for the comfort of Israel. Taken from the Holy Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament, by a Christian who is expecting him with the
Jews." Felgenhauer places the Jewish people very high, as the seed of
Abraham, and considers true believers of all nations the spiritual
seed of Abraham. Hence Jews and Christians should love, not despise,
one another. They should unite in God. This union is near at hand.
The bloody wars of nation against nation by sea and land in the whole
world, which had not happened before to anything like the same extent,
are signs thereof. As further signs he accounted the comets which
appeared in 1618, 1648, and 1652, and the furious Polish war kindled
by the Cossacks. Verses from the Bible, especially from Daniel and
the Apocalypse, with daring interpretations, served him as proofs.
Felgenhauer denied an earthly Messiah, nor did he allow the claim of
Jesus to the title.

As this half-insane work was dedicated to Manasseh, he was obliged to
answer it, which he did with great prudence (February 1, 1655), gladly
welcoming the pages favorable to Jews, and passing over the rest in
silence. The good news concerning the near future was the more welcome
to his heart, he said, as he himself, in spite of the afflictions of
many centuries, did not cease ardently to hope for better times.

    "How gladly would I believe you, that the time is near when
    God, who has so long been angry with us, will again comfort His
    people, and deliver it from more than Babylonian captivity, and
    more than Egyptian bondage! Your sign of the commencement of
    the Messianic age, the announcement of the exaltation of Israel
    throughout the whole world, appears to me not only probable,
    but plain and clear. A not inconsiderable number of these
    announcements (on the Christian side) for the consolation of
    Zion have been sent to me from Frankenberg and Mochinger, from
    France and Hungary. And from England alone how many voices!
    They are like that small cloud in the time of the prophet
    Elijah, which suddenly extended so that it covered the whole of
    the heavens."

Manasseh ben Israel had the courage to express without ambiguity
Jewish expectations in opposition to the opinions held by Christian
enthusiasts. They, for the most part, imagined the fifth monarchy,
which they alleged was about to commence, as the millennium, when Jesus
would again appear and hand over the sovereign power to the saints. The
Jews would have a share in it; they would assemble from the ends of the
earth, return to their ancestral home, and again build Jerusalem and
the Temple. But this would be only an intermediate state, the means to
enable the whole Twelve Tribes to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, so that
there be but one flock under one shepherd. Against this Manasseh ben
Israel composed a treatise, ended April 25, 1655, on the fifth kingdom
of the prophecy of Daniel, interpreting it to mean the independence
of Israel. In this work, called "The Glorious Stone, or the Image of
Nebuchadnezzar," and dedicated to Isaac Vossius, then in the service
of the queen of Sweden, he put forth all his learning to show that the
visions of the "four beasts," or great kingdoms, had been verified in
the successive sway of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans,
and therefore the coming of the fifth kingdom also was certain. This
was shown in Daniel plainly enough to be the kingdom of Israel, the
people of God. In this Messianic kingdom all nations of the earth will
have part, and they will be treated with kindness, but the authority
will ever rest with Israel. Manasseh disfigured this simple thought by
Kabbalistic triviality and sophistry. It is singular that not only did
a learned Christian accept the dedication of this essentially Jewish
work, but the celebrated painter Rembrandt supplied four artistic
engravings representing Nebuchadnezzar's, or Manasseh's vision.

Manasseh had received a friendly invitation from the second Parliament
assembled by Cromwell; but as it had meanwhile been dissolved, he
could not begin his journey until invited by the Protector himself.
He seems to have sent on in advance his son, Samuel ben Israel, who
was presented by the University of Oxford, in consideration of his
knowledge and natural gifts, with the degree of doctor of philosophy
and medicine, and according to custom, received the gold ring, the
biretta, and the kiss of peace. It was no insignificant circumstance
that this honor should be conferred upon a Jew by a university strictly
Christian in its conduct. Cromwell's will appears to have been decisive
in the matter. He sent an invitation to Manasseh, but the journey was
delayed till autumn. Not till the end of the Tishri festivals (October
25-31, 1655) did Manasseh undertake the important voyage to London,
in his view, of the utmost consequence to the world. He was received
in a friendly manner by Cromwell, and had a residence granted him.
Among his companions was Jacob Sasportas, a learned man, accustomed to
intercourse with persons of high rank, who had been rabbi in African
cities. Other Jews accompanied him in the hope that the admission
of Jews would meet with no difficulty. Some secret Jews from Spain
and Portugal were already domiciled in London, among them being the
rich and respected Fernandez Carvajal. But the matter did not admit
of such speedy settlement. At an audience, Manasseh delivered to the
Protector a carefully composed petition, or address. He had obtained
the authorization of the Jews of the different countries of Europe to
act as their representative, so that the admission of Jews into England
might be urged not in his own name alone, but in that of the whole
Jewish nation. In his petition he skillfully developed the argument,
by means of passages from the Bible and the Talmud, that power and
authority are conferred by God according to his will; that God rewards
and punishes even the rulers of the earth, and that this had been
verified in Jewish history; that great monarchs who had troubled Israel
had met with an unhappy end, as Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus
Epiphanes, Pompey, and others. On the other hand, benefactors of the
Jewish nation had enjoyed happiness even here below, so that the word
of God to Abraham had been literally fulfilled:--

    "'I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that
    curse thee.' Hence I, one of the least among the Hebrews,
    since by experience I have found, that through God's great
    bounty towards us, many considerable and eminent persons both
    of piety and power are moved with sincere and inward pity
    and compassion towards us, and do comfort us concerning the
    approaching Deliverance of Israel, could not but for myself,
    and in the behalf of my countrymen, make this my humble
    Address to your Highness, and beseech you for God's sake that
    ye would, according to that piety and power wherein you are
    eminent beyond others, vouchsafe to grant that the great and
    glorious name of the Lord our God may be extolled, and solemnly
    worshiped and praised by us through all the bounds of this
    Commonwealth; and to grant us place in your country, that we
    may have our Synagogues, and free exercise of our religion.
    Pagans have of old ... granted free liberty even to apostate
    Jews: ... how much more then may we, that are not Apostate or
    runagate Jews, hope it from your Highness and your Christian
    Council, since you have so great knowledge of, and adore the
    same one only God of Israel, together with us.... For our
    people did ... presage that ... the ancient hatred towards them
    would also be changed into goodwill: that those rigorous laws,
    ... against so innocent a people would happily be repealed."

At the same time Manasseh ben Israel circulated through the press a
"Declaration" which served to explain the reasons for admitting Jews,
and to meet objections and allay prejudices against their admission.
All his reasons can be reduced to two--one mystical and one of
trade policy. The mystical reason has been repeatedly explained. His
opinion coincided with that of many Christians, that the return of the
Israelites to their home was near at hand. According to his view the
general dispersion of the Jews must precede this event:--

    "Now we know how our nation is spread all about, and has its
    seat and dwelling in the most flourishing countries of the
    world, as well in America as in the other three parts thereof,
    except only in this considerable and mighty island. And
    therefore, before the Messiah come ... first we must have our
    seat here likewise."

The other reason was put in this form: that through the Jews the trade
of England would greatly increase in exports and imports from all parts
of the world. He developed this point of the advantage which the Jews
might bestow at great length, showing that on account of their fidelity
and attachment to the countries hospitable and friendly to them they
deserved to be treated with consideration. Besides, they ought to be
esteemed, on account of their ancient nobility and purity of blood,
among a people which attached importance to such distinctions.

Manasseh ben Israel considered the commerce to which Jews were for
the most part devoted from a higher point of view. He had in mind
the wholesale trade of the Portuguese Jews of Holland in the coin of
various nations (exchange business), in diamonds, cochineal, indigo,
wine, and oil. Their money transactions were not based on usury,
on which the Jews of Germany and Poland relied. The Amsterdam Jews
deposited their capital in banks, and satisfied themselves with five
per cent interest. The capital of the Portuguese Jews in Holland
and Italy was very considerable, because Marranos in Spain and
Portugal invested their money with them, to evade the avarice of the
Inquisition. Hence Manasseh laid great weight on the advantages which
England might expect from his enterprising countrymen. He thought that
trading, the chief occupation, and, to a certain extent, the natural
inclination, of the Jews of all countries since their dispersion, was
the work of Providence, a mark of divine favor towards them, that by
accumulated treasures they might find grace in the eyes of rulers and
nations. They were forced to occupy themselves with commerce, because,
owing to the insecurity of their existence, they could not possess
landed estates. Accordingly, they were obliged to pursue trade till
their return to their land, for then "there shall be no more any trader
in the house of the Lord," as a prophet declares.

Manasseh ben Israel then took a survey over all the countries where
Jews, in his time, or shortly before, by means of trade, had attained
to importance, and enumerated the persons who had risen to high
positions by their services to states or rulers. However, much that
he adduced, when closely considered, is not very brilliant, with the
exception of the esteemed and secure position which the Jews occupied
in Holland. Then he quoted examples of the fidelity and devotedness
of Jews in ancient and modern times towards their protectors. He
forcibly refuted the calumny that the Jews had been banished from
Spain and Portugal for treachery and faithlessness. It was easy for
him to show from Christian authors that the expulsion of the Jews, and
their cruel treatment by Portugal, were at once criminal and foolish,
and most emphatically condemned by wise rulers. He took occasion to
defend his brethren against three other charges: usury, child murder,
and proselytism. To wipe off the stain of usury, he made use of the
justification employed by Simone Luzzatto, a contemporary Jewish
Italian author, that usury was objectionable not in itself, but in
its excess. Of great weight was the fact which he adduced, that the
Portuguese Jews, for whom he was pleading, abhorred usury as much as
many Christians, and that their large capital had not been obtained
from it. Manasseh could repudiate with more vehemence the charge of
murdering Christian children. Christians made the accusation, he
thought, pretty much from the motives that influenced the negroes of
Guinea and Brazil, who tormented those just escaped from shipwreck, or
visited by misfortune in general, by assuming that such persons were
accursed of God.

    "We live not amongst the Black-moors and wild-men, but amongst
    the white and civilized people of the world, yet we find this
    an ordinary course, that men are very prone to hate and despise
    him that hath ill fortune; and on the other side, to make much
    of those whom fortune doth favor."

Manasseh reminded the Christians that there had been a time when they,
too, had been charged by heathens with being murderers of children,
sorcerers, and conjurers, and had been punished by heathen emperors
and officials. He was able to refer to a case of his own time, that of
Isaac Jeshurun, of Ragusa, a Jew repeatedly tortured for child murder,
whose innocence had come to light, and filled the judges with remorse.
Manasseh denied the accusation of the conversion of Christians to
Judaism, and referred to the injunction of the Jewish law to dissuade
rather than attract proselytes.

    "Now, because I believe, that with a good conscience I have
    discharged our nation of the Jews of those three slanders.... I
    may from these two qualities, of Profitableness and Fidelity,
    conclude, that such a nation ought to be well entertained,
    and also beloved and protected generally of all. The more,
    considering they are called in the Sacred Scriptures the sons
    of God.... I could add a third (point), viz., of the Nobility
    of the Jews, but because that point is enough known amongst
    all Christians, as lately it has been shown ... by that worthy
    Christian minister, Mr. Henry Jessey ... and by Mr. Edw.
    Nicholas, Gentleman. Therefore I will here forbear and rest on
    the saying of Solomon ... 'Let another man's mouth praise thee,
    and not thine own.'"

Cromwell was decidedly inclined to the admission of the Jews. He may
have had in view the probability that the extensive trade and capital
of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, those professing Judaism openly
as well as secretly, might be brought to England, which at that time
could not yet compete with Holland. He was also animated by the great
idea of the unconditional toleration of all religions, and even thought
of granting religious freedom to the intensely hated, feared, hence
persecuted Catholics. Therefore, he acceded to the wish of the Jews
to open an asylum to them in England. But he was most influenced by
the religious desire to win over the Jews to Christianity by friendly
treatment. He thought that Christianity, as preached in England by the
Independents, without idolatry and superstition, would captivate the
Jews, hitherto deterred from Christianity.

Cromwell and Manasseh ben Israel agreed in an unexpressed, visionary,
Messianic reason for the admission of Jews into England. The
Kabbalistic rabbi thought that in consequence of the settlement of
Jews in the British island, the Messianic redemption would commence,
and the Puritan Protector believed that Jews in great numbers would
accept Christianity, and then would come the time of one shepherd and
one flock. To dispose the people favorably towards the Jews, Cromwell
employed two most zealous Independents, his secretary, the clergyman
Hugh Peters, and Harry Marten, the fiery member of the Council, to
labor at the task.

At last the time came to consider the question of the admission of
Jews seriously. They had been banished in the year 1290 in pursuance
of a decree enacting that they should never return, and it was
questionable whether the decree was not still in force. Therefore,
Cromwell assembled a commission at Whitehall (December 4, 1655), to
discuss every aspect of the matter. The commission was composed of
Lord Chief Justice Glynn, Lord Chief Baron Steel, and seven citizens,
including the Lord Mayor, the two sheriffs of London, an alderman, and
the recorder of the city, and fourteen eminent clergymen of different
towns. Cromwell mentioned two subjects for discussion: whether it was
lawful to admit Jews into England, and, in case it was not opposed
to the law, under what conditions the admission should take place.
Manasseh had formulated his proposal under seven heads: that they
should be admitted and protected against violence; that they should
be granted synagogues, the free exercise of religion, and places
of burial; that they should enjoy freedom of trade; and that their
disputes should be settled by their own rabbis and directors; and that
all former laws hostile to Jews should be repealed for their greater
security. On admission, every Jew should take the oath of fidelity to
the realm.

There was great excitement in London during the discussion on the
admission of the Jews, and popular feeling was much divided. Blind
hatred against the crucifiers of the Son of God, and blind love for
the people of God; fear of the competition of Jews in trade, and hope
of gaining the precedence from the Dutch and Spaniards by their means,
prejudiced ideas that they crucified Christian children, clipped coin,
or wished to make all the English people Jews--these conflicting
feelings disturbed the judgment for and against them. Cromwell's
followers, and the Republicans in general, were for their admission;
Royalists and Papists, secretly or openly his enemies, were opposed to
the proposal. The people crowded to the hall where the Jewish question
was publicly discussed. At the very beginning the legal representatives
declared that no ancient law excluded the Jews from England, for
their banishment had been enacted by the king, without the consent of
Parliament. The city representatives remained silent; the most violent
were the clergy, who could not rid themselves of their hatred against
Jews, derived from the gospels and their theological literature.
Cromwell, who most earnestly wished to see them admitted, therefore
added three clergymen, among them Hugh Peters, from whom he expected a
vote favorable to the Jews. The question was not brought to a decision
in three sittings. Cromwell therefore ordered a final discussion
(December 18, 1655), at which he presided. The majority of the clergy
on this day, too, were against the admission of Jews, even the minority
favoring it only with due precautions. Cromwell, dissatisfied with
the course of the discussion, first had the theological objections
refuted by Manasseh ben Israel, then expressed himself with much
warmth, and reprimanded the clergy. He said that he had hoped to
receive enlightenment for his conscience; instead, they had made the
question more obscure. The main strength of his arguments was: The
pure (Puritan) gospel must be preached to the Jews, to win them to the
church. "But can we preach to them, if we will not tolerate them among
us?" Cromwell thereupon closed the discussion, and resolved to decide
the matter according to his own judgment.

He had not only the opposition of the fanatical clergy to contend
against, but also that of the multitude, who shared their prejudiced
feeling. The enemies of the Jews made every effort to win over the
people against their admission. They spread the report that the
Jews intended to buy the library of the University of Oxford, and,
if possible, turn St. Paul's into a synagogue. They sought to bring
Cromwell's friendship for the Jews under suspicion, and circulated the
report that an embassy had come to England from Asia and Prague to
find out whether Cromwell was not the expected Messiah of the Jews. A
clerical pamphleteer, named William Prynne, stirred up a most fanatical
excitement against the Jews. He composed a venomous work, "A Short
Demurrer," in which he raked up all false accusations against them of
counterfeit coining, and the crucifixion of Christian children, and
briefly summarized the anti-Jewish decrees of the thirteenth century,
so as to make the name of Jew hated. From other quarters, also, various
publications appeared against them. John Hoornbeek, a Dutchman,
composed a book on the conversion of the Jews, in which he pretended
to be their friend, but actually sought to asperse them. John Dury, an
Englishman residing at the time at Cassel, was also resolved to make
his voice heard about the Jews; he weighed arguments for and against
their admission, and at last inclined to the view that it was a serious
matter to permit Jews to enter England. His work was printed and
distributed. Probably at Cromwell's suggestion, Thomas Collier wrote a
refutation of Prynne's charges, dedicating it to the Protector. He even
justified the crucifixion of Jesus by the Jews, and concluded his work
with a passage in the taste of that time:

    "Oh, let us respect them; let us wait for that glorious day
    which will make them the head of the nations. Oh, the time is
    at hand when every one shall think himself happy that can but
    lay hold on the skirt of a Jew. Our salvation came from them!
    Our Jesus was of them! We are gotten into their promises and
    privileges! The natural branches were cut off, that we might
    be grafted on! Oh, let us not be high-minded, but fear. Let
    us not, for God's sake, be unmerciful to them! No! let it be
    enough if we have all their [spiritual] riches."

While the admission of Jews met with so many difficulties in England,
the Dutch Government was by no means pleased with Manasseh ben Israel's
efforts to bring it to pass, fearing, doubtless, that the Amsterdam
Jews would remove to England, with all their capital. Manasseh was
obliged to pacify the Dutch ambassador in an interview, and to assure
him that his exertions concerned not Dutch Jews, but the Marranos,
watched with Argus eyes in Spain and Portugal, for whom he wished to
provide an asylum. Manasseh waited six months in London to obtain from
Cromwell a favorable decision, but without success. The Protector
found no leisure to attend to the Jewish question, his energies were
devoted to obtaining the funds necessary for the government and foreign
wars, refused by one Parliament after another, and to frustrating the
royalist conspiracy against his life. Manasseh's companions, who had
given up all hopes of success, left London; others who, having fled
from the Pyrenean peninsula, were on their way thither, turned back,
and settled in Italy or Geneva.

But the friends of the Jews were unwearied, and hoped to produce a
change of mind in the people. One of "the saints" published a small
work (April, 1656), in which he briefly summarized the proceedings at
the discussion on the admission of Jews, and then added:

    "What shall be the issue of this, the most high God knoweth;
    Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel still remains in London, desiring
    a favorable answer to his proposals; and not receiving it he
    hath desired, that if they may not be granted, he may have a
    favorable dismission, and return home. But other great affairs
    being now in hand, and this being business of very great
    concernment, no absolute answer is yet returned to him."

To elicit a thorough refutation of all the charges advanced by the
enemies of the Jews and the opponents of toleration, a person of
high rank, in close relation with the government, induced Manasseh
ben Israel to publish a brief but comprehensive work, in defense
of the Jews. In the form of a letter he stated all the grounds of
accusation. These included the current slanders: the use of the blood
of Christians at the Passover, curses upon Christians and blasphemy
against the God of the Christians in Jewish prayers, and the idolatrous
reverence alleged to be shown the Torah-scrolls. The defense of the
Jews, which Manasseh ben Israel composed in reply (April 10), and
which was soon afterwards circulated through the press, is perhaps
the best work from his pen. It is written with deep feeling, and is,
therefore, convincing; learned matter is not wanting, but the learning
is subordinate to the main object. In the composition of this defense
Manasseh must have had peculiar feelings. He had come to England the
interpreter or representative of the people of God, expecting speedily
to conquer the sympathy of Christians, and pave the way for the
lordship of Israel over the world, and now his people was placed at
the bar, and he had to defend it. Hence the tone of this work is not
aggressive and triumphant, but plaintive. He affirmed that nothing had
ever produced a deeper impression on his mind than the letter addressed
to him with the list of anti-Jewish charges.

    "It reflects upon the credit of a nation, which amongst so many
    calumnies, so manifest (and therefore shameful), I dare to
    pronounce innocent. And in the first place, I cannot but weep
    bitterly, and with much anguish of soul lament, that strange
    and horrid accusation of some Christians against the dispersed
    and afflicted Jews that dwell among them, when they say (what
    I tremble to write) that the Jews are wont to celebrate the
    Feast of Unleavened Bread, fermenting it with the blood of some
    Christians whom they have for that purpose killed."

To this false charge so often made, among others by Prynne, the
greatest part of his defense is devoted, and it is indeed striking. He
traced the accusation to false witnesses or the confession of accused
persons under torture. The innocence of the accused was often brought
to light, but too late, when they had been executed. Manasseh confirmed
this by an entertaining story. The physician of a Portuguese count had
been charged by the Inquisition as a Judaizing Christian. In vain the
count pledged himself for his orthodoxy, he was nevertheless tortured,
and himself confessed that he was a Judaizing sinner. Subsequently the
count, pretending serious illness, sent for the inquisitor, and in his
house, with doors closed, he commanded him in a threatening tone to
confess in writing that he was a Jew. The inquisitor refused; then a
servant brought in a red-hot helmet to put upon his head. Thereupon the
inquisitor confessed everything demanded by the count, who took this
opportunity to reproach him with his cruelty and inhumanity.

Manasseh ben Israel besides affirmed with a solemn oath the absolute
falsehood of the oft-repeated charges as to the use of Christian blood.

After meeting the other accusations against the Jews, he concludes his
defense with a fine prayer and an address to England:

    "And to the highly honored nation of England I make my most
    humble request, that they would read over my arguments
    impartially, without prejudice and devoid of all passion,
    effectually recommending me to their grace and favor, and
    earnestly beseeching God that He would be pleased to hasten the
    time promised by Zephaniah, wherein we shall all serve him with
    one consent, after the same manner, and shall be all of the
    same judgment; that as his name is one, so his fear may be also
    one, and that we may all see the goodness of the Lord (blessed
    for ever!) and the consolations of Zion."

This last work of Manasseh ben Israel produced in England the favorable
effect desired. Though Cromwell, amidst the increasing difficulties of
his government, could not fully carry out the admission of the Jews,
he made a beginning towards it. He dismissed Manasseh with honorable
distinctions, and granted him a yearly allowance of one hundred pounds
(February 20, 1657) out of the public treasury. The Jews were not
admitted in triumph through the great portal, but they were let in by
Cromwell through a back door, yet they established themselves firmly.
This was in consequence of an indictment brought against an immigrant
Marrano merchant, Antonio Robles, that he, a Portuguese Papist, had
illegally engaged in business pursuits in England, but he was acquitted
by the Protector on the ground that he was not a Catholic, but a Jew.
Thus the residence of such Jews was suffered; they could therefore drop
the mask of Catholicism. Two respected Marranos, Simon de Caceres and
Fernandez (Isaac) Carvajal, in fact received Cromwell's permission to
open a special burial-ground for the Sephardic Jews settled in London
(1657). In consequence of this permission it was no longer necessary
to make a show of attending church or of having their newly-born
children baptized. But they occupied an anomalous position. Being
strangers, and on account of their insignificant numbers, they lived
not exactly on sufferance, but were ignored. Thus Manasseh ben Israel's
endeavors were not entirely vain. He did not draw the pension awarded
him, nor did he live to witness the coming up of the seed scattered by
him, for on the way home he died, at Middelburg, probably broken down
by his exertions and the disappointment of his hopes, even before he
reached his family (November, 1657). His body was afterwards brought
to Amsterdam, and an honorable epitaph was put over his grave. But his
zealous activity, outcome though it was of Messianic delusions, bore
fruit, because it was sincere. Before he had been dead ten years, Jews
were gradually admitted into England by the monarchy which succeeded
the republic. A community was assembled which soon became organized, a
room was fitted up in King street as a synagogue, and Jacob Sasportas,
the wanderer from Africa, Manasseh ben Israel's companion, was
chosen rabbi. The branch community of London took as its model that
of Amsterdam. From this second stronghold, occupied by Portuguese
Jews, afterwards proceeded the agitation for popular freedom and the
liberation of the Jews.



  Condition of Judaism--Complete Triumph of the Kabbala--The
    Disciples of Isaac Lurya--Vital Calabrese, Abraham de Herrera,
    and Isaiah Hurwitz--Immanuel Aboab--Uriel da Costa; his
    Career and Death--Leo Modena; his Character and his Writings--
    Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah Copia Sullam, Jewish Authoresses--
    Leo Modena's veiled Scepticism--The Travels and Influence of
    Joseph Delmedigo--The Writings of Simone Luzzatto.

1620-1660 C. E.

Judaism, then in its three thousandth year, was like a rich kernel,
covered and concealed by crusts deposited one upon another, and by
extraneous matter, so that only very few could recognize its true
character. The Sinaitic and prophetic kernel of thought had long
been covered over with the threefold layer of Sopheric, Mishnic, and
Talmudical explanations and restrictions. Over these, in the course of
centuries, new layers had been formed by the Gaonic, Spanish, French,
German, and Polish schools, and these layers and strata were enclosed
by an unsightly growth of fungus forms, the mouldy coating of the
Kabbala, which, settling in the gaps and chinks, grew and ramified.
All these new forms had already the authority of age in their favor,
and were considered inviolable. People no longer asked what was taught
in the fundamental Sinaitic law, or what was considered of importance
by the prophets; they scarcely regarded what the Talmud decided to be
essential or non-essential; the Rabbinical writers alone, Joseph Karo
and Moses Isserles being the highest authorities, decided what was
Judaism. Besides, there were superadditions from the Polish schools,
and lastly the Kabbalistic dreams of Isaac Lurya. The parasitic
Kabbala choked the whole religious life of the Jews. Almost all rabbis
and leaders of Jewish communities, whether in small Polish towns or
in cultivated Amsterdam, the Chacham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca, as well
as Isaiah Hurwitz, the emigrant to Palestine, were ensnared by the
Kabbala. Gaining influence in the fourteenth century, contemporaneously
with the ban against science, it had made such giant strides since
Isaac Lurya's death, or rather committed such gigantic ravages, that
nothing could keep it in check. Lurya's wild notions of the origin,
transmigration, and union of souls, of redemption, and wonder-working,
after his death attracted more and more adherents into his magic
circle, clouding their minds and narrowing their sympathies.

Lurya's disciples, the lion's whelps, as they boastfully called
themselves, made systematic efforts to effect conversions, circulated
most absurd stories about Lurya's miracles, gave out that their
master's spirit had come upon them, and shrouded themselves in mystery,
in order to attract greater attention. Chayim Vital Calabrese had
been most prominent, and with his juggleries deluded the credulous in
Palestine and the neighboring countries (1572-1620) till his death. He
claimed to be the Ephraimitic Messiah, and therefore assumed a sort of
authority over his fellow-disciples. In Jerusalem, where he resided
for several years, Vital preached, and had visions, but did not meet
with the recognition he expected. Only women said that they had seen
a pillar of fire or the prophet Elijah hovering over Vital while he

In Safet, Vital, imitating his master, visited graves, carried on
exorcism of spirits, and other mystic follies, but not living on good
terms with his colleagues, especially his brother-in-law, Gedaliah
Levi, of whom he was jealous, he settled at Damascus (1594-1620),
continued his mystifications, affected great personal importance, as if
the salvation of the world rested on his shoulders, and preached the
speedy appearance of the Messiah, and his mission to hasten it. Jesus
and Mahomet, repenting their errors, would lay their crowns at his
feet. Ridiculed on account of his wild proceedings, and declared to be
a false prophet, he took vengeance on his detractors by gross slanders.

In old age he continued his mystical nonsense, saying that he had been
forbidden to reveal his visions, but this prohibition having been
withdrawn, he could now announce that certain souls living in human
bodies would be united to him--of course, in a subordinate capacity--to
bring about the redemption, one of the souls destined for this mission
being in a foreign country. This was a bait to attract Kabbala
enthusiasts, and thus secure a following. And enthusiasts hastened
from Italy, Germany, Poland, and other countries to play a Messianic
part. The manuscript notes left by Lurya gave rise to further frauds.
Vital asserted that he alone was in possession of them, and obtained a
decree from the college at Safet, declaring that no one was authorized
to publish information about Lurya's Kabbala elsewhere. Kabbalists
became the more anxious to possess this incomparable treasure. Chayim
Vital's brother, Moses Vital, took advantage of their eagerness to make
a good business of it. During an illness of his brother's, he caused
the writings found at his house to be copied, and sold them at a high
price. After his recovery, Chayim Vital affirmed that the writings
stolen were not the genuine ones; these he would never publish. He
is said in his will to have directed them to be laid in his grave.
Nevertheless, after his death, his son, Samuel Vital, sold Luryan
Kabbalistic revelations, and published his father's dreams and visions
in a separate work. An immigrant Marrano from Portugal, a devotee of
the Kabbala, asserted that he had found the best collection in Vital's

After this time a regular search was made after the Kabbala of Lurya
and Vital. Whoever was in possession of copies, and offered them for
sale or publication, found ready purchasers. Messengers were employed
to give this fraud currency in the Jewish communities. Israel Saruk,
or Sarug, a German, one of Lurya's disciples, introduced the Luryan
Kabbala into Italy, gained many adherents for it, and much money for
himself. His account of his master's miracles offended the taste of
very few. From Italy he betook himself to Holland, and there gained
a disciple who knew how to give the Kabbalistic frenzy a philosophic
complexion. Alonzo, or Abraham, de Herrera (died 1639), a descendant of
the Great Captain, the viceroy of Naples, was introduced by Saruk into
the mysteries of the Luryan Kabbala. Having lived a Christian during
the greatest part of his life, he was more familiar with non-Jewish
philosophy than with Jewish literature; therefore it was easy to
deceive him into taking dross for gold. He felt clearly that Lurya's
Kabbala betrayed resemblances to Neoplatonic philosophy, but this
disturbed De Herrera little, or rather, it confirmed the Kabbalistic
teaching, and he endeavored to explain one by the other. Finding it
impossible to reconcile the two systems, he, too, fell into idle talk
and rambling expressions. Abraham de Herrera, who, as has been stated,
became a Jew at a ripe age, could not learn Hebrew, and hence had his
two Kabbalistic works, the "House of God" and the "Gate of Heaven,"
translated by the Amsterdam preacher Isaac Aboab from Spanish into
Hebrew, and in his will set apart a considerable sum of money for their
publication. The author and translator doubtless thought that they
had rendered an inexpressibly great service to Judaism. But by the
meretricious splendor which these works imparted to the Kabbala, they
blinded the superficial minds of the average Portuguese Jews, who, in
spite of their knowledge of classical literature and European culture,
abandoned themselves to the delusions of the Kabbala. Manasseh ben
Israel and all his older and younger contemporaries in Holland paid
homage to mysticism, and had no doubt of its truth and divinity.

In Germany and Poland two men, half Polish and half German, brought
Lurya's Kabbala into high estimation: Isaiah Hurwitz (Sheloh), called
the Holy, and Naphtali Frankfurter, to whom we may perhaps add the
credulous Solomon, or Shlomel, of Moravia, who glorified the silliest
stories of wonders performed by Isaac Lurya, Vital, and their circle,
in letters sent to Germany and Poland, which were eagerly read and

However, in this thick unsightly crust over-spreading the Kabbala,
some rifts and chinks appeared, which indicated disintegration. Here
and there were found unprejudiced men, who felt and expressed doubts
as to the truth of Judaism in its later Rabbinical and Kabbalistic
form. Many went further, and included Talmudical interpretation.
Others advanced from doubt to certainty, and proceeded more or less
openly against the existing form of Judaism. Such inquirers, of
course, were not to be met with among German and Polish, nor among
Asiatic Jews; these considered every letter in the Talmud and Zohar,
every law in the code (Shulchan Aruch) as the inviolable word of God.
The doubters were only in Italian and Portuguese communities, which
had relations with educated circles. A pious adherent of tradition,
Immanuel Aboab, of Portuguese origin, who had long resided in Italy,
felt called upon to compose a defense of the Judaism of the Talmud and
the rabbis (Nomologia, composed 1616-1625), showing an unbroken chain
of exponents of true tradition down to his own time, a well-meant, but
not very convincing work. The confused Kabbalist Naphtali Frankfurter
complained of his contemporaries who ridiculed the Talmud. Three or
four gifted investigators more or less frankly revealed the scepticism
working beneath the surface. These three men, differing in character,
mode of life, and position, were Uriel Acosta, Judah Leo Modena, and
Joseph Delmedigo; we may perhaps add Simone Luzzatto to the list. They
endeavored to lay bare the disadvantages and weaknesses of existing
Judaism; but not one of them was able to suggest or apply a remedy.

Uriel da Costa (Gabriel Acosta, born about 1590, died April, 1640) was
an original character, whose inward unrest and external course of life
could not but bring him into conflict with Judaism. He was descended
from a Portuguese Marrano family at Oporto, whose members had been
made sincere believers in Christ by the terrors of the Inquisition.
His father, at least, who belonged to the higher classes in Portugal,
had become a strict Catholic. Young Gabriel learnt ecclesiasticism
and the accomplishments of a cavalier from his father, was, like
him, a good rider, and entered upon a course of education, limited,
indeed, but sufficient for that time. He adopted the only career open
to young Portuguese of the upper middle class, by means of which the
gifted could rise to distinction, and to a certain equality with the
nobility. He was prepared for the law, a study which might pave the
way to the second rank, the clerical. In his youth the Jesuits had
already obtained powerful influence over men's minds, and their methods
of exciting the imagination and subduing the intellect by depicting
everlasting damnation and the punishments of hell had proved effectual.
Nothing but punctilious, mechanical worship and continual confession
could overcome the terrors of hell.

Gabriel da Costa, in spite of his punctilious ecclesiasticism, did not
feel quieted in his conscience. Daily mechanical exercises failed
to influence his mind, and continual confession to obtain absolution
from the lips of the priest pleased him less as he became more mature.
Somewhat of the subtle Jewish spirit remained in his nature, and shook
the strongly built Catholic system of belief to its foundations.
The more deeply he plunged into the Catholic Jesuitic teaching, the
more did doubts trouble him, and disturb his conscience. However, he
accepted a semi-ecclesiastical office as chief treasurer to an abbey
about 1615. To end his doubts, he investigated the oldest records of
Holy Scripture. The prophets were to solve the riddles which the Roman
Catholic Church doctrines daily presented to him. The fresh spirit
which breathed from out of the Old Testament, disfigured though it
was in its Latin guise, brought repose to his mind. The doctrines of
Judaism appeared the more certain, as they were recognized by the New
Testament and the Church, while those of Catholicism were rejected
by Judaism; in the one case there was unanimity, in the other,
contradiction. Da Costa formed the resolution to forsake Catholicism
and return to Judaism. Of an impulsive, passionate temperament, he
sought to carry his resolution into effect quickly. With great caution
he communicated his intention to his mother and brothers--his father
was already dead--and they also resolved to expose themselves to
the danger of secret emigration, to leave their hearth and home, give
up a respected position in society, and exchange the certain present
for an uncertain future. In spite of the Argus-eyed espionage of
Marranos by the Inquisition and the secular authorities, the Da Costa
family succeeded in gaining a vessel and escaping to Amsterdam (about
1617-18). Gabriel da Costa and his brothers were admitted to the
covenant of Abraham, and Gabriel changed his name to Uriel.

Of a hot-blooded nature, an enthusiast whose imagination overpowered
his judgment, Uriel da Costa had formed for himself an ideal of Judaism
which he expected to meet with in Amsterdam, but which had never been
realized. He thought to see biblical conditions, supported by pure
Pentateuchal laws, realized in the young Amsterdam community, and to
find an elevation of mind which would at once clear up the puzzles that
the Catholic Church could not solve. What the Catholic confessors could
not offer, he thought that he would be able to obtain from the rabbis
of Amsterdam. Da Costa had built religious and dogmatic castles in the
air, and was annoyed not to meet with them in the world of reality. He
soon found that the religious life of the Amsterdam community and its
established laws did not agree with Mosaic or Pentateuchal precepts,
but were often opposed to them. As he had made great sacrifices for
his convictions, he thought that he had the right to express his
opinion freely, and point to the gap which existed between biblical and
Rabbinical Judaism. He was deeply wounded, embittered, and irritated,
and allowed himself to be completely overpowered by his feelings. He
did not stop at mere words, but regulated his conduct accordingly,
openly disregarded religious usages, and thought that in opposing the
ordinances of the "Pharisees" (as, in the language of the Church,
he called the rabbis), he was recommending himself to the favor of
God. He thereby brought upon himself unpleasantnesses destined to end
tragically. Were the Amsterdam Jews, who had suffered so much for
their religion, quietly to see one of their members openly assail and
ridicule Judaism, become so dear to them? Those born and brought up in
the land of the Inquisition had no idea of toleration and indulgence
for the conviction of others. The rabbis, perhaps Isaac Uziel and
Joseph Pardo, threatened Da Costa with excommunication, _i. e._,
expulsion from the religious community and severance of all relations
with it, if he persisted in transgressing the religious ordinances of
Judaism. This opposition only served to increase Da Costa's passion;
he was ill-content to have purchased new fetters by the sacrifices
he had made. He continued to disregard the laws in force, and was
eventually excommunicated. Uriel's relatives, who had more easily
adapted themselves to the new faith, avoided him, and spoke not a
word to him. Thus Da Costa stood alone in the midst of a great city.
Separated from his race, friends, and relatives, a stranger amongst
the Christian inhabitants of Amsterdam, whose language he had not yet
learnt, and thrown upon himself, he fell more and more into subtle
speculation. Acting under excessive irritation, he resolved to publish
a work hostile to the Judaism of the day, and bring out particularly
the glaring contrast between it and the Bible. As irrefragable proof,
he intended to emphasize that the former recognized only bodily
punishments and rewards, and taught nothing as to the immortality of
the soul. But he discovered that the Bible itself observes silence
about a purely spiritual future life, and does not bring within the
circle of religion the idea of a soul separated from the body. In
short, his investigations led him away not only from Catholicism and
Rabbinical Judaism, but from the Bible itself. It is not known how it
was circulated that the excommunicated Da Costa intended to give public
offense, but he was anticipated. Samuel da Silva, a Jewish physician,
in 1623 published a work in the Portuguese language, entitled "A
Treatise on the Immortality of the Soul, in order to confute the
Ignorance of a certain Opponent, who in Delusion affirms many Errors."
In the course of the work the author plainly named Uriel, and described
him as "blind and incapable." Da Costa thought his opponents,
especially the rabbis, had hired Da Silva's pen to attack him. Hence
he hastened to publish his work, also in Portuguese (1624-1625),
entitled "An Examination of the Pharisaic Traditions, compared with
the written Laws, and Reply to the Slanderer Samuel da Silva." The
fact of his calling his opponent a slanderer shows his confusion, for
he actually asserted what Da Silva had reproached him with, that the
soul is not immortal. As he now had unequivocally declared his breach
with Judaism, he had to take the consequences. Before, he had been
openly scorned by young people in the street as an excommunicant, a
heretic, an Epicurean (in the Talmudical sense); he had been pelted
with stones, disturbed and annoyed in his own house (as he thought, at
the instigation of the rabbis). Now, after the appearance of his work,
the official representatives of the Amsterdam community complained to
the magistrates that by denying the immortality of the soul, he had
attacked not only the teaching of Judaism, but also of Christianity,
and had published errors. Da Costa was arrested, kept for several
days in prison, at last fined 300 gulden, and his work condemned to
the flames. The freest state of that time believed that it had the
right to keep watch over and limit freedom of thought and writing;
its distinction was merely that it kindled no funeral piles for human
beings. Da Costa's brethren in race could not have persecuted him very
severely, for he was able to bear excommunication during the long space
of fifteen years. Only his isolation was a heavy burden; he could not
endure to be avoided by his family as one infected with the plague.
Da Costa was not a strong-minded man, a thinker of the first order,
who could live happily in his world of ideas as in boundless space,
unconcerned about the outer world, and glad of his solitary freedom;
he could not do without the world. He had invested his capital with
one of his brothers, and he thought that it would be endangered if he
continued the war against the community. He thought of taking a wife,
which was impossible so long as he was excommunicated. Hence he at
last yielded to the urgency of his relatives to become reconciled with
the community. He was willing, as he said, "to be an ape among apes."
He confessed Judaism with his lips at the very time when he had in his
heart thoroughly fallen away from it.

Da Costa, in his philosophical inquiries, had come upon a new
discovery. Judaism, even in its pure biblical form, could not have been
of divine origin, because it contradicts nature in many points, and
God, the Creator of nature, can not contradict Himself in revelation.
He cannot command a principle in the Law, if He has implanted in nature
an opposing principle. This was the first step to the deistic tendency
then appearing in France and the Netherlands, which acknowledged God
only in nature, not in the moral law, and in religious and political
development. Da Costa's theory supposed a religion of nature inborn
in man, which produced and built up the moral law, and culminated in
the love of members of a family to one another. The best in Judaism
and other revealed religions is borrowed from the religion of nature.
The latter knows only love and union; the others, on the contrary, arm
parents and children against one another on account of the faith. This
theory was the suggestion of his bitterness, because his relatives
avoided him, and showed him but little consideration. Da Costa appears
to have put forward as the religion of nature what the Talmud calls the
Noachian commandments.

In spite of his complete falling away from Judaism, he resolved, as he
himself states, on the intervention of his nephew, and after passing
fifteen years in excommunication (about 1618-1633), to alter his course
of life and actions, make a confession, or rather put his signature to
such a document, an act of what he himself describes as thoroughgoing
hypocrisy, designed to purchase repose and comfort, at the cost of
conviction. But his passionate nature robbed him of both. He could not
impose renunciation upon himself to conform to the religious usages
of Judaism, but transgressed them immediately after his penitent
confession. He was detected by one of his relatives, and they all,
especially the nephew who had brought about the reconciliation, were
so embittered that they persecuted him even more relentlessly than
those less nearly connected with him. They again renounced intercourse
with him, prevented his marriage, and are said to have injured him in
his property. Through his passionate hatred of Judaism, which he had
confessed with his lips, he committed an act of folly which exposed his
true sentiments. Two Christians, an Italian and a Spaniard, had come
from London to Amsterdam to attach themselves to Judaism. When they
consulted Uriel da Costa on the subject, he gave a frightful picture of
the Jewish form of religion, warned them against laying a heavy yoke on
their necks, and advised them to continue in their own faith. Contrary
to promise, the two Christians betrayed Da Costa's remarks on Judaism
to the leaders of the community. The war between them and him broke out
afresh. The rabbis summoned him a second time before their tribunal,
set before him his religious transgressions, and declared that he could
escape a second severe excommunication only by submitting to a solemn
penance in public. More from a sense of honor than from conviction he
refused this penance, and so was a second time laid under the ban, much
more severe than the first, in which condition he continued for seven
years. During this time he was treated by the members of the community
with contempt, and even spat upon. His brothers and nephews behaved
with the greatest severity towards him, because they thought by that
means to force him to repentance. They reckoned on his helplessness and
weakness, and they did not reckon amiss.

Da Costa meanwhile had reached middle age, had been made submissive
by conflicts and excitement, and longed for repose. By process of
law, which he had instituted against the Amsterdam authorities, he
could obtain nothing, because he could not put his complaints into a
tangible form; he consented, therefore, to everything demanded for
his humiliation. His public penance was to be very severe. There was
no definite prescription on the subject in the religious Code, which,
in fact, is opposed in spirit to public penance; the sinner is not
to confess aloud his transgressions against religion, but in silence
to God. Judaism, from its origin, objected to confession and the
mechanical avowal of sins. For this reason it remained for the college
of rabbis to appoint a form of penance. The Amsterdam rabbis and the
communal council, consisting of Marranos, adopted as a model the gloomy
form of the tribunal of the Inquisition.

As soon as Da Costa had consented to his humiliation, he was led into
one of the synagogues, which was full of men and women. There was to
be a sort of auto-da-fé, and the greatest possible publicity was given
to his penance because the scandal had been public. He had to ascend
a stage and read out his confession of sins: that he had desecrated
the Sabbath, violated the dietary laws, denied articles of faith, and
advised persons not to adopt Judaism. He solemnly declared that he
resolved to be no longer guilty of such offenses, but to live as a
true Jew. On a whisper from the first rabbi, probably Saul Morteira,
he went to a corner of the synagogue, stripped as far as the girdle,
and received thirty-nine stripes with a scourge. Then he was obliged
to sit on the ground, after which the ban was removed. Not yet having
satisfied the authorities, he had to stretch himself out on the
threshold of the synagogue, that those present might step over him.
It was certainly an excessive penance which was imposed upon him,
not from a desire of persecution or vengeance, but from religious
scrupulousness and mimicry of Catholic forms. No wonder that the
disgrace and humiliation deeply wounded Da Costa, who had consented
to the punishment, not from inward repentance, but from exhaustion.
The public disgrace had shaken his whole being, and suggested
thoughts of revenge. Instead of pitying the rabbis as the creatures
of historical conditions, he hated them with a glowing feeling of
revenge as the refuse of mankind, and as if they thought of nothing
but deception, lying, and wickedness. His wounded sense of honor and
heated imagination saw in the Jews of the Amsterdam community, perhaps
in all the Jews on the earth's surface, his personal, venomous foes,
and in Judaism an institution to stir up men to hatred and persecution.
Thinking that he was surrounded by bitter enemies, and feeling too
weak for a fresh conflict, he resolved to die, but at the same time to
take vengeance on his chief persecutor, his brother (or cousin). To
excite the sympathy of his contemporaries and posterity, he wrote his
autobiography and confession, which, however, contain no new thoughts,
only bitterness and furious attacks against the Jews, intermingled with
fresh aspersions of them in the eyes of Christians: that even at this
time they would have crucified Jesus, and that the state ought not to
grant them freedom of religious profession. This document, drawn up
amidst preparations for death, breathed nothing but revenge against his
enemies. After he had finished his impassioned testament, he loaded
two pistols, and fired one at his relative, who was passing his house.
He missed his aim, so he shut the door of his room, and killed himself
with the other weapon (April, 1640).

On opening his residence after the report of the shot, they found on
the table his autobiography, "An Example of Human Life," in which he
brought Jews and Judaism to the bar, and with pathetic sentences
described them as his excited imagination in the last hour suggested.
By this act and legacy Da Costa showed that he suffered himself to
be overpowered by his feelings rather than guided by reason. He was
neither a thinker nor a wise man, nor was his a manly character. As his
system of thought was not well balanced, leading him to oppose what
existed as false and bad, because it was in his way, he left no lasting
impression. His Jewish contemporaries persisted in stubborn silence
about him, as if they wished his memory to fall into oblivion. He acted
like a boy who breaks the windows in an old decaying building, and thus
creates a draught.

The second seditious thinker of this time, Leo (Judah) ben Isaac
Modena (born 1571, died 1649), was of another stamp, and was reared
in different surroundings. Leo Modena was descended from a cultivated
family which migrated to Modena, in Italy, on the expulsion of the Jews
from France, and whose ancestors, from lack of intellectual clearness,
despite their education, fostered every kind of superstition and
fanciful idea.

Leo Modena possessed this family peculiarity in a high degree. He
was a marvelous child. In his third year he could read a portion
from the prophets; in his tenth, he delivered a sort of sermon; in
his thirteenth, he wrote a clever dialogue on the question of the
lawfulness of playing with cards and dice, and composed an elegy on
the death of the teacher of his youth, Moses Basula, in Hebrew and
Italian verses having the same sound--a mere trifle, to be sure,
but which at a riper age pleased him so well that he had it printed.
But the marvelous child did not develop into a marvelous man, into
a personage of prominence or distinction. Modena became, however,
the possessor of astonishingly varied knowledge. As he pursued all
sorts of occupations to support himself, viz., those of preacher,
teacher of Jews and Christians, reader of prayers, interpreter,
writer, proof-reader, book-seller, broker, merchant, rabbi, musician,
match-maker, and manufacturer of amulets, without ever attaining to a
fixed position, so he studied many departments of knowledge without
specially distinguishing himself in any. He grasped the whole of
biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic literature, was well read in Christian
theological works, understood something of philosophy and physics,
was able to write Hebrew and Italian verses--in short, he had read
everything accessible through the medium of three languages, Hebrew,
Latin, and Italian. He remembered what he read, for he possessed an
excellent memory, invented a method of sharpening it still more, and
wrote a book on this subject. But Leo Modena had no delight either
in knowledge or poetry; neither had value for him except so far as
they brought bread. He preached, wrote books and verses, translated
and commented, all to earn money, which he wasted in card-playing,
a passion which he theoretically considered most culpable, but in
practice could not overcome. At the age of sixty he acquired property,
but lost it more quickly than he had acquired it, squandering 100
ducats in scarcely a month, and twice as much in the following year.
Knowledge had not enlightened and elevated him, had had no influence
on his principles. Leo Modena possessed neither genius nor character.
Dissatisfied with himself and his lot, in constant disquiet on account
of his fondness for gaming, and battling with need, he became a prey
to doubt. Religion had no power over his heart; he preached to others,
but not to himself. Unbelief and superstition waged continual war
within him. He envied naïve believers, who, in their simplicity, are
undisturbed by doubt, expect, and, as Leo added, obtain happiness from
scrupulously observing the ceremonies. Inquirers, on the other hand,
are obliged to struggle for their faith and the happiness dependent
upon it, and are tortured incessantly by pangs of doubt. He had no real
earnestness nor true conviction, or rather, according to his humor and
mood, he had a different one every day, without being a hypocrite.
Hence he could say of himself, "I do not belong to the class of painted
people, my outward conduct always corresponds with my feelings."

Leo Modena was sincere at each moment. On one day he broke a lance
for the Talmud and Rabbinical Judaism, on the next, condemned them
utterly. He disapproved of gaming, and grieved that the stars had given
him this unfortunate propensity, for he believed also in astrology;
yet he prepared a Talmudical decision defending it. When the Venetian
college of rabbis pronounced the ban on cards and dice, he pointed out
that gaming was permissible by Rabbinical principles, and that the ban
had no justification. His disciple, Joseph Chamiz, a physician and
mystic, once asked him his opinion on the Kabbalistic transmigration
of souls. Modena replied that as a rule he would profess belief in
the doctrine even though convinced of its folly, in order not to be
pronounced a heretic and a fool, but to him he was willing to express
his sincere and true views. Thereupon Leo Modena prepared a work to
expose the absurdity and inconsistency with Judaism of the belief in
transmigration of souls. But so feebly was this conviction rooted in
his nature that, having had an extraordinary experience, he again, at
least for a time, believed in the transmigration of souls, a favorite
theory of the Kabbala.

The Ghetto of Venice must have been a totally different place from that
of Frankfort, or Prague, or from the Polish-Jewish quarters, since it
was possible for men like Leo Modena, with his peculiar principles,
and Simone Luzzatto, as little of a genuine rabbi, to be members of
the rabbinate. In the largest Italian community next to that of Rome,
consisting of 6,000 souls, there were cultivated Jews interested in
Italian and general European culture, and enjoying not only social,
but also literary intercourse with Christian society. The walls of
the Ghetto formed no partition between the Jewish and the Christian
population. At this time, in the age of Shakespeare, there was no
Shylock, certainly not in Venice, who would have stipulated as payment
for his loan a pound of flesh from his Christian debtor. The people
properly so called, workmen, sailors, and porters, precisely in Venice,
were milder and more friendly towards Jews than in other Christian
cities. Jewish manufacturers employed 4,000 Christian workmen in the
lagoon city, so that their existence depended on their Jewish employers
alone. At the time of a devastating pestilence, when, even in this well
policed city, the reins of government became slacker and looser, and
threatened to fall from the hands of those in power, Jewish capitalists
voluntarily offered their money to the state to prevent embarrassment.
There were not a few among them who vied with the cultivated classes
among the Christians in the elegant use of the Italian language in
speaking and writing, and in making good verses. Besides the two
rabbis, Leo Modena and Simone Luzzatto, two Jewish poetesses, Deborah
Ascarelli and Sarah Copia Sullam, are illustrations thereof. The first,
the wife of Joseph Ascarelli, a respected Venetian, translated Hebrew
hymns into elegant Italian strophes, and also composed original verses.
A Jewish-Italian poet addressed her in verses thus: "Others may sing of
great trophies, thou glorifiest thy people."

The graceful and spiritual Sarah Copia (born about 1600, died 1641)
excited a certain amount of attention in her time. She was an original
poetess and thinker, and her gifts, as well as her grace, brought
her temptations and dangers. The only child of a wealthy father,
Simon Copia (Coppio) in Venice, who loved her tenderly, she yielded
to her inclination for instruction, and devoted herself to science
and literature. To this inclination she remained true even after her
marriage with Jacob Sullam. Sarah Copia Sullam surpassed her sex and
even men of her age in knowledge. She delighted in beauty, and breathed
out her inspirations in rhythmic, elegant verses. Young, attractive,
with a noble heart and a penetrating understanding, striving after high
ideals, and a favorite of the muses, Sarah Sullam fascinated the old as
well as the young. Her musical, well-trained voice excited admiration.
When an elderly Italian priest, Ansaldo Ceba, at Genoa, published an
heroic poem in Italian strophes, of which the scriptural Esther was the
heroine, Sarah was so delighted, that she addressed an enthusiastic
anonymous letter full of praise to the author (1618). It pleased her
to see a Jewish heroine, her ideal, celebrated in verses, and the
attention of the cultivated public directed to Jewish antiquity. She
hoped that thereby the prejudice against the Jews of the day would
vanish. Sarah did not conceal from the poet that she always carried
his poetical creations about with her, and at night put his book under
her pillow. Instead of finding satisfaction in the sincere homage of
a pure woman's soul, Ceba, in his zeal for conversion, thought only
of bringing her over to Christianity. When he heard Sarah's beauty
extolled by the servant whom he sent with presents and verses, love for
her awoke in him. This was increased by her sending him her portrait,
accompanied by enthusiastic verses in the exaggerated style of that
time, in which she said: "I carry my idol in my heart, and I wish
everyone to worship him." But the beautiful Venetian Jewess did not
allow herself to be entrapped. She held firmly to her Jewish beliefs,
and unfolded to her priestly friend the reasons that induced her
to prefer Judaism. In vain did Ceba, by tenderness, reproofs, and
sentimental languishing, with intimations of his speedy end, and his
longing to be united with her in heaven, endeavor to make her waver in
her conviction. When he begged permission to pray for her salvation,
she granted his request on condition that she might pray for his
conversion to Judaism.

Her exceptional position as poetess, and her connection with Christians
of high rank, brought her renown, not unattended by annoyances.
Slanderous fellow-believers spread the report, that she esteemed the
principles of Judaism but lightly, and did not fully believe in their
divinity. An unprincipled Christian priest, Balthasar Bonifaccio,
who later occupied the position of bishop, published a work accusing
the Jewess Sarah Sullam of denying the immortality of the soul.
Such a charge might in Catholic Venice have had other effects than
that against Uriel da Costa in free-thinking, Protestant Amsterdam.
Not merely fine and imprisonment might have been inflicted, but the
Inquisition might have sentenced her to the dungeon, to torture, and
perhaps even the stake. Hardly recovered from illness, she wrote (1621)
a manifesto on the immortality of the soul, full of ripe dialectics,
noble courage, and crushing force, against her slanderous accuser. The
dedication to her deceased father is touching, and still more touching
is her fervent psalm-like prayer in melodious Italian verses. The
consciousness that she, a woman and Jewess, could not rely on her own
strength, but only on help from above, spreads a halo about her memory.
The end of this affair is not known. Ceba's epic "Esther" probably
induced Leo Modena to translate Solomon Usque's tragedy on the same
subject from Spanish into Italian verse; he dedicated it to Sarah
Copia, whose epitaph he composed in melodious Hebrew verses.

Leo Modena also had frequent intercourse with Christians. His peculiar
nature, his communicative disposition, and great learning, as also
his wit and his fondness for gaming, opened the doors of Christian
circles to the volatile rabbi. Christian disciples sat at his feet.
The French bishop Jacob Plantavicius, and the half-crazed Christian
Kabbalist Jacob Gaffarelli, were his pupils. Nobles and learned men
corresponded with him, and permitted him to inscribe his works to them
with flattering dedications. Leo Modena held in Italy nearly the same
position as Manasseh ben Israel in Holland. In the conversation of
serious men and in the merry circle of gamesters, he often heard the
ceremonies of Judaism ridiculed as childish nonsense (Lex Judæorum
lex puerorum). At first he defended his religion, but gradually was
forced to admit one thing and another in Judaism to be defective and
ridiculous; he was ashamed to be so thoroughly a Jew as to justify
all consequences. His necessities led him, on pressure from Christian
friends, to render single portions, and at last the whole, of the
Jewish code accessible to the Christian public in the Italian language.
An English lord paid him for the work, with the intention of giving it
to King James I, who made pretensions to extensive learning. Afterwards
his Christian disciple Gaffarelli had this work, entitled "The Hebrew
Rites," printed in Paris, and dedicated it to the French ambassador
at Venice. In this work, eagerly read by Christians, Leo Modena, like
Ham, uncovered his father's nakedness, exposed the inner sanctuary of
the Jews to prying and mocking eyes. To the uninitiated, that which
within the Jewish circle was a matter for reverence could not but
appear petty, silly, and absurd. Leo Modena explained what ceremonies
and statutes Jews employ in connection with their dwellings, clothing,
household furniture, up-rising and lying down, physical functions, and
in the synagogues and schools. Involuntarily the author associated
himself with the despisers of Judaism, which he as rabbi had practiced
and taught. He showed that he was conscious of this:

    "While writing I in fact forgot that I am a Jew, and considered
    myself a simple, impartial narrator. However, I do not deny
    that I have taken pains to avoid ridicule on account of the
    numerous ceremonies, but I had no intention to defend and
    palliate, because I wished only to communicate, not convince."

However, it would be an error to infer from this that Leo Modena had at
heart completely broken with Rabbinical Judaism. He was, as has been
stated, not a man of firm and lasting convictions. Almost at the same
time when he exposed the rites of Judaism to the Christian public, he
composed a defense of them and oral teaching in general against attacks
from the Jewish side. A Hamburg Jew of Marrano descent had raised
eleven points to show the falsehood of Talmudic tradition. Of these
arguments some are important, others frivolous. The Hamburg sceptic
laid chief stress on the point that Talmudic and Rabbinic ordinances
are additions to Pentateuchal Judaism, and the Pentateuch had expressly
forbidden additions of this sort. At the wish of certain Portuguese
Jews, Leo Modena confuted these objections, raised by a sciolist. His
confutation was a feeble performance, and contains nothing new. With
Leo Modena one never knew whether he was earnest in his belief or his
unbelief. As in youth he had brought forward reasons for and against
games of chance, had finally condemned them, and nevertheless freely
engaged in them, so he behaved with regard to Talmudical Judaism. He
attacked it, defended it, made it appear ridiculous, and yet practiced
it with a certain degree of honesty.

Some years after his vindication of Talmudical Judaism against the
Hamburg sceptic he composed the best work (1624) that issued from his
active pen. On the one side it was a weighty attack on Rabbinical
Judaism, such as had hardly been made even by Christians and Karaites,
on the other side, an impressive defense of it. He did not venture
to put his own name to the heavy charges against Judaism, but used a
fictitious name. The part which contains the attacks he called "The
Fool's Voice" (Kol Sachal), and the defense, "The Roaring of the Lion"
(Shaagath Aryeh). Leo Modena allotted to two characters his own duplex
nature, his varying convictions. He makes the opponent of Judaism
express himself with a boldness such as Uriel da Costa might have
envied. Not only did he undermine the Rabbinical Judaism of the Talmud,
but also biblical Judaism, the Sinaitic revelation, and the Torah. But
the blows which Leo Modena, under the name of Ibn-Raz of Alkala, in an
attack of unbelief, inflicted on oral teaching, or Talmudical Judaism,
were most telling.

He premises that no form of religion maintains itself in its original
state and purity according to the views of its founder. Judaism,
also, although the lawgiver expressly warned his followers against
adding anything, had many additions thrust upon it. Interpretation and
comment had altered many things in it. Ibn-Raz (or Leo Modena in his
unbelieving mood) examines with a critical eye Jacob Asheri's code, and
at each point marks the additions made by the rabbis to the original
code, and where they had weakened and distorted it. He goes so far as
to make proposals how to clear Judaism of excrescences, in order to
restore genuine, ancient, biblical, spiritual Judaism. This was the
first attempt at reform: a simplification of the prayers and synagogue
service, abolition of rites, omission of the second day of the
festivals, relaxation of Sabbath, festival, Passover, and even Day of
Atonement laws. Every one was to fast only according to his bodily and
spiritual powers. He wished to see the ritual for slaughtering animals
and the laws as to food set aside, or simplified. The prohibition to
drink wine with those of other creeds made Jews ridiculous, as also did
the strictness against alleged idolatry. All this, observed Ibn-Raz,
or Leo Modena, at the close, does not exhaust the subject; it is only
a specimen of the evil of Rabbinical Judaism. He knew well that he
would be pronounced a heretic, and persecuted on account of his frank
criticism, but if he could open the eyes of a single reader, he would
consider himself amply rewarded.

Had Leo Modena been in earnest with this bold view, which would have
revolutionized the Judaism of his day, had he uttered it to the world
with deep conviction, he would no doubt have produced great commotion
in Judaism. But criticism of the Talmud was only mental amusement for
him; he did not intend to engage in an actual conflict. He composed a
reply with as little sincerity, and let both attack and defense slumber
among his papers.

Leo Modena was more in earnest with the attack on the Kabbala, which
had become burdensome and repulsive to him. He felt impelled to
discharge destructive arrows against it, and this he did with masterly
skill. He called the anti-Kabbalistic work, which he dedicated to
his disciple Joseph Chamiz, a Luryan enthusiast, "The Roaring Lion"
(Ari Noham). From many sides he threw light on the deceptions, the
absurdity, and the falsehood of the Kabbala and its fundamental
source, the Zohar. Neither this work nor his attacks on Talmudical
Judaism were published by him: the author was not anxious to labor
in either direction. To a late age he continued his irregular life,
without striving after real improvement. Leo Modena died, weary of the
conflict, not with gods (_i. e._, ideas) and men, but with himself, and
of the troubles which he had brought upon himself.

Apparently similar, yet differing fundamentally from him, was the
third burrower of this period: Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (born 1591,
died 1655). Scion of an old and noble family, in whose midst science
and the Talmud were cultivated, and great-grandson on the female side
of the clear thinker Elias del Medigo, he but slightly resembled the
other members of his house. His father, a rabbi in Candia, had not
only initiated him into Talmudic literature, but also made him learn
Greek. Later Delmedigo acquired the literary languages of the time,
Italian and Spanish in addition to Latin. The knowledge of languages,
however, was only a means to an end. At the University of Padua he
obtained his scientific education; he showed decided inclination for
mathematics and astronomy, and could boast of having as his tutor the
great Galileo, the discoverer of the laws of the heavens, the martyr
to natural science. By him he was made acquainted with the Copernican
system of the sun and the planets. Neither Delmedigo nor any believing
Jew labored under the delusion that the stability of the sun and the
motion of the earth were in contradiction to the Bible, and therefore
heretical. Delmedigo also studied medicine, but only as a profession;
his favorite subject continued to be mathematics. He enriched his mind
with all the treasures of knowledge, more varied even than that of Leo
Modena, to whom during his residence in Italy he clung as a disciple
to his master. In the circle of Jewish-Italian semi-freethinkers he
lost the simple faith which he had brought from home, and doubts as
to the truth of tradition stole upon him, but he was not sufficiently
animated by a desire for truth either to overcome these doubts and
become settled in the early belief to which he had been brought up, or
unsparingly to expose the false elements in Jewish tradition. Joseph
Delmedigo was as little formed to be a martyr to his convictions as Leo
Modena, the latter by reason of fickleness, the former, of insincerity.

With doubt in his heart he returned to his home in Candia, and gave
offense by his free mode of thought, especially by his preference for
secular knowledge. He made enemies, who are said to have persecuted
him, and was obliged to leave his native land. Then began a migratory
life, which drove him from city to city, like his model Ibn-Ezra.
Like him, he made friends with the Karaites wherever he met them,
and they thronged to his presence. At Cairo Delmedigo celebrated a
complete triumph with his mathematical knowledge, when an old Mahometan
teacher of mathematics, Ali Ibn-Rahmadan, challenged him, a youth, to
a public combat, in which Ali was beaten. The victorious combatant was
magnanimous enough to show honor to Ali before the world. Instead of
betaking himself to Palestine as he had intended, Delmedigo traveled
to Constantinople; here also he attached himself to the circle of the
Karaites, and at last passed through Wallachia and Moldavia to Poland.
There, mathematics procuring him no bread, he practiced medicine, of
which, however, he had learnt more from books than by the bedside of
patients. In Poland he passed for a great physician, and was taken
into the service of Prince Radziwill, in Wilna (about 1619-1620).
Here, through the excessive attention given to the Talmud, general
culture was forsaken, but youths and men eager for learning, especially
Karaites, thronged to Delmedigo to slake their thirst for knowledge. A
half-crazed Karaite, Serach ben Nathan of Trok, who had an inclination
to Rabbinical Judaism, in order to show his extensive knowledge, with
mock humility laid before him a number of important questions, which
Delmedigo was to answer offhand, and sent him a sable fur for the
Polish winter.

Delmedigo found it to his advantage, in order to give himself the
appearance of a distinguished character in Poland, to shroud himself
in silence and seclusion. He at first answered Serach's questions
not personally, but through one of his companions, an assistant and
follower, Moses Metz. This man described his teacher as a choice
intellect, a demi-god, who carried in his brain all human and divine
knowledge. He sketched his appearance and character, his occupation and
behavior, regulated, as he said, by higher wisdom, gave information
about his descent from a learned and distinguished family on his
father's and his mother's side, and, as his teacher's mouth-piece,
imposed upon the credulous Karaite by saying that he had composed works
on all branches of knowledge, at which the world would be astonished,
if they came to light. Metz also communicated to Serach some of his
teacher's theories in mathematics, religion, and philosophy, and thus
still more confused Serach's mind. In his communications on Judaism,
which Delmedigo either made himself or through Moses Metz, he was
very cautious; here and there, it is true, he allowed a suggestion of
unbelief to glimmer through, but quickly covered it over with a haze of
orthodoxy. Only where he could do so without danger Delmedigo expressed
his real opinion.

When he at last sent the Karaite an answer to a letter with his own
hand (about 1621), he did not conceal his true views, but declared
his preference for Karaism and its ancient teachers, loaded them
undeservedly with praise, exalted science, and ridiculed the delusions
of the Kabbala and its adherents. In the same letter to Serach,
Delmedigo indulged in scoffs against the Talmud, and thought the
Karaites fortunate that they were able to dispense with it. He had
nothing to fear when he unburdened his heart before his Karaite admirer.

Delmedigo does not seem, on the whole, to have been at ease in Poland.
He could not carouse with the nobles whom he attended professionally
for fear of the Jews, and it was not possible to earn money in so
poor a country. So he betook himself by way of Dantzic to Hamburg,
where a Portuguese community had been lately permitted to settle. His
knowledge of medicine seems to have met with little esteem in the
city on the Elbe. What was his skill in comparison with that of the
De Castros, father and son? He was compelled, in order to subsist, to
undertake a certain amount of rabbinical duty, if only as preacher. For
the sake of bread he had to play the hypocrite, and speak in favor of
Rabbinical Judaism. Nay, in order to dissipate the rumor from Poland,
which represented him as a heretic, he was not ashamed to praise the
Kabbala, which he had shortly before condemned, as the highest wisdom,
before which philosophy and all sciences must be dumb. For this
purpose he prepared his defense of the secret doctrine, in refutation
of the crushing arguments against it by one of his ancestors, Elias
Del Medigo. His work was of the kind to throw dust in the eyes of the
ignorant multitude; it displayed a smattering of learning on all sorts
of subjects, but no trace of logic. He was too clever to maintain
the sheepish style of dull, stupid credulity, and could not refrain
from satire. He defended the genuineness of the Zohar as an ancient
work by Simon bar Yochaï, or at least by his school. He argued that
one must not be shocked by its many incongruities and absurdities;
the Talmud also contains not a few, and is yet a sacred book. To save
his reputation with the more intelligent, Delmedigo intimated that he
had defended the Kabbala only from necessity. We must not, he says,
superficially judge the character of an author by his words. He, for
instance, was writing this defense of the Kabbala at the desire of a
patron of high position, who was enamored of it. Should this friend
come to be of another mind, and require an attack upon the Kabbala, he
would not refuse him. In conclusion, he observes that philosophical
students would no doubt ridicule him for having turned his back on
wisdom, and betaken himself to folly; but he would rather be called a
fool all his life than for a single hour transgress against piety.

This work, commenced in Hamburg, Delmedigo could not finish there.
A pestilence broke out, and drove him, physician though he was, to
Glückstadt. In this small community, where, as he said, there was
neither town (Stadt) nor luck (Glück), he could find no means of
subsistence, and he traveled on to Amsterdam about 1629. He could not
attempt to practice medicine in a city where physicians lived of even
higher eminence than at Hamburg, and so was obliged a second time to
apply himself to the functions of rabbi. To show his importance, he
printed his scientific replies to the questions of his Polish admirers,
with the fulsome eulogies, clouds of incense, and foolish homage which
the young Karaite Serach had offered him. It is a work of truly Polish
disorder, in which mathematical theorems and scientific problems are
discussed by the side of philosophical and theological questions, in
a confused way. Delmedigo took care not to print his attacks upon
the Kabbala and the Talmud, and his preference for the Karaites--in
short, all that he had written to please the rich Serach. Instead
of publishing an encyclopædic work which he boastfully said he had
composed in his earliest youth, and which embraced all sciences and
solved all questions, he produced a mere medley.

The Amsterdam community was then full of suspicion against philosophy
and culture owing to the reckless behavior of Da Costa, and therefore
Delmedigo thought it advisable to ward off every suspicion of unbelief,
and get a reputation for strictest orthodoxy. This transparent
hypocrisy did not answer well. He was, it is true, appointed preacher,
and partially rabbi, in or near Amsterdam, but he could remain in
Holland only a few years. Poor and unstable as he was, he went
with his wife to Frankfort-on-the-Main about 1630 to seek means of
subsistence. But here, in a German community, where Rabbinical learning
was diffused, he could not obtain a rabbinical office; but he could
turn his medical knowledge, scanty as it was, to account. As he felt
no vocation for the office of rabbi, nor for medical practice, it was
a matter of indifference if he changed the preacher's gown for the
doctor's mantle. He was engaged, under irksome conditions, as communal
doctor (February 14, 1631). How long he remained at Frankfort is not
known; his position cannot have been favorable, for he removed to
Prague (about 1648-1650), and in this most neglected community he
settled. Later (1652) he was at Worms, probably only temporarily, and
ended his life, which had promised so much, and realized so little, at
Prague. Nor did he publish any part of his great work, which he had
announced with so much pomposity.

In a measure Simone (Simcha) Luzzatto (born about 1590, died 1663)
may be reckoned among the sceptics of this time. He was, at the same
time as Leo Modena, rabbi in Venice. Luzzatto was not an eminent
personage; but he had more solidity than his colleague Modena, or than
Delmedigo. By the latter, who knew him personally, he was praised as
a distinguished mathematician. He was also well read in ancient and
modern literature. His uprightness and love of truth, which he never
belied, distinguished him more than his knowledge and learning. A
parable which Luzzatto wrote in Italian in his youth shows his views,
as also his maturity of thought, and that he had reflected early on
the relation of faith to science. He puts his thoughts into the mouth
of Socrates, the father of Greek wisdom. At Delphi an academy had been
formed to rectify the errors of human knowledge. Reason immediately
presented a petition from the dungeon, where she had been so long
kept by orthodox authority, to be set at liberty. Although the chief
representatives of knowledge, Pythagoras and Aristotle, spoke against
this request, and uttered a warning against her liberation, because,
when free, she would produce and spread abroad most frightful errors,
yet the academy set her at liberty; for by that means alone could
knowledge be promoted. But the newly liberated minds caused great
mischief; and the academicians were at a loss what to do. Then Socrates
rose, and in a long speech explained that reason and authority, if
allowed to reign alone, would produce only errors and mischief; but if
mutually limited, reason by revelation, and revelation by reason, they
mingle in the right proportion, and produce beautiful harmony, whereby
man may attain his goal here below and hereafter. This thought, that
reason and faith must regulate and keep watch over each other, which,
in Maimuni's time had passed into a commonplace, was at this period,
under the rule of Lurya's Kabbala, considered in Jewish circles a bold

Simone Luzzatto did not suffer himself to be ensnared by Kabbalistic
delusions; he did not cast reason behind him; he was a believer, but
withal sober-minded. He did not share the delusion of Manasseh ben
Israel and others that the lost tribes of Israel were existing in
some part of the world enjoying independence as a military power.
With sober Jewish inquirers of former times, he assumed that Daniel's
revelation does not point to a future Messiah, but only reflects
historical events. He composed a work on the manners and beliefs of the
Jews, which he proposed to exhibit "faithfully to truth, without zeal
and passion." It was probably designed to form a counterpart to Leo
Modena's representation, which cast a shadow on Judaism.

Luzzatto's defense of Judaism and the Jews, under the title "A Treatise
on the Position of the Hebrews," is masterly. It speaks eloquently
for his practical, sober sense, for his love of truth, his attachment
to Judaism, and his solid knowledge. He did not wish to dedicate it to
any individual patron out of flattery, but to the friends of truth in
general. He conjured these friends not to esteem the remnant of the
ancient Hebrew nation, even if disfigured by sufferings, and saddened
by long oppression, more lightly than a mutilated work of art by
Phidias or Lysippus, since all men were agreed that this nation was
once animated and led by the greatest of Masters. It is astonishing
what thorough knowledge the rabbi had of the commerce of that time,
and the influence upon it of the political position of European and
neighboring Asiatic states. The object of his defense was primarily to
disarm the ill-will of certain Venetian patricians against the Jews in
that strictly governed state. The common people had little antipathy
to the Jews; they lived to some extent on them. But among those who
had a share in the government there were fanatical religious zealots
and envious opponents, who advocated further restrictions, or even
banishment. It did not suit them that the Venetian Jews, who, shut
up in the Ghetto, possessed neither land nor the right to carry on a
handicraft, competed with them in finance and trade. The commercial
city of Venice, far surpassed by the new naval powers, Holland and
England, which had gradually obtained control of the trade with the
Levant, saw many of its great houses of business in splendid misery,
while new Jewish capitalists stepped into their place, and seized the
Levantine business. With artful turns and delicate hints, Luzzatto gave
the politicians of Venice to understand that exhaustion was hastening
the downfall of the republic. The prosperous cared only to keep what
they had acquired and for enjoyment, and former Venetian commerce
seemed to be falling into the hands of foreigners. Hence the Jews
had become a blessing to the state. It was more advisable to leave
its extensive trade, especially that of the East, to native Jews, and
to protect them, than to see it diverted to neighboring towns, or
to strangers, who formed a state within the state, were not always
obedient to the laws, and gradually carried the ready money out of the
country. Luzzatto calculated from statistics that the Jews contributed
more than 250,000 ducats to the republic every year, that they gave
bread to 4,000 workpeople, supplied home manufactures at a cheap rate,
and obtained goods from distant countries. It was reserved for a rabbi
to bring this political-economical consideration, of vital importance
for the island republic, to the notice of wise councilors. Luzzatto
also called attention to the important advantage which the capital
of the Jews had recently been, when, during the pestilence and the
dissolution of political government, the Jews had spontaneously offered
money to the state to prevent embarrassment.

Luzzatto also defended the Jews against attacks on the religious side,
but on this point his exposition is not original. If he brought out
the bright traits of his Jewish contemporaries, he by no means passed
over their dark ones in silence, and that redounds to his credit.
Luzzatto depicted them in the following manner. However different may
be the manner of Venetian Jews from their brethren in Constantinople,
Damascus, Germany, or Poland, they all have something in common:--

    "It is a nation of timid and unmanly disposition, at present
    incapable of political government, occupied only with its
    separate interests, and caring little about the public welfare.
    The economy of the Jews borders on avarice; they are admirers
    of antiquity, and have no eye for the present course of
    things. Many are uneducated, without taste for learning or the
    knowledge of languages, and, in following the laws of their
    religion, they exaggerate to the most painful degree. But they
    have also noteworthy peculiarities--firmness and endurance in
    their religion, uniformity of doctrinal teaching in the long
    course of more than fifteen centuries since the dispersion;
    wonderful steadfastness, which leads them, if not to go into
    dangers, yet to endure the severest suffering. They possess
    knowledge of Holy Scripture and its exposition, gentleness and
    hospitality to the members of their race--the Persian Jew
    in some degree suffers the wrongs of the Italian--strict
    abstinence from carnal offenses, extraordinary carefulness to
    keep the family unspotted, and skill in managing difficult
    matters. They are submissive and yielding to everyone, only not
    to their brethren in religion. The failings of the Jews have
    rather the character of cowardice and meanness than of cruelty
    and atrocity."

What Luzzatto's position was with regard to the Talmud he did not
distinctly state, but only explained generally that there are three
or four classes of Jews: Talmudists or Rabbanites, who hold the oral
law of equal authority with the Bible; secondly, a philosophical and
cultured class; and, lastly, Kabbalists, and Karaites. Yet he intimated
that he held the Talmudical tradition to be true; whilst he considered
the Kabbala as not of Jewish, but of Platonic, Pythagorean, and Gnostic
origin. One of his disciples relates of him that he ridiculed the
Kabbalists, and thought their theory had no claim to the title of
tradition; it was wanting in the Holy Spirit.

These four thinkers, more or less dissatisfied with the Judaism
of the day, who were furnished with so much intellect, knowledge,
and eloquence, yet exerted very little influence over their Jewish
contemporaries, and thus did not break through the prevailing
obscurity in the smallest degree. Luzzatto wrote for only a limited
class of readers, and did not inflict, or wish to inflict, heavy
blows on Judaism. Uriel da Costa missed his mark on account of his
violent, impatient disposition; Leo Modena was himself too wavering,
driven hither and thither by the wind of conflicting opinions, to
acquire serious convictions and do battle for them. His attacks on
the weak side of Judaism, as has been stated, were made in private.
Joseph Delmedigo did more harm than good through his insincerity and
hypocrisy. Lacking character, he sank so low as to speak in favor
of the confused doctrines of the Kabbala, and by the weight of his
knowledge confirmed and increased the delusion of the multitude. But
from two other quarters, by two quite opposite characters, weighty
blows against Judaism were delivered, threatening completely to shatter
it. Reason incorporated, as it were, in one Jew, and unreason incarnate
in another, joined hands to treat Judaism as abolished and dissolved,
and, so to speak, to dethrone the God of Israel.



  Spinoza's Youth and Education--His Intellectual Breach with
    Judaism--Fresh Martyrs of the Inquisition--The Rabbis
    and Spinoza--Excommunication--Spinoza's "Tractate" and
    "Ethics"--Spinoza's Writings Concerning Judaism--Spinoza's
    Contemporaries in Amsterdam--De Paz and Penso--The Mystical
    Character of the Years 1648 and 1666--Sabbataï Zevi's early
    Career--The Jerusalem Community--Sabbataï's Travels--Nathan
    Ghazati--Sabbataï announced in Smyrna as the Messiah--Spread
    of Enthusiastic Belief in the pseudo-Messiah--Manoel Texeira--
    Ritual Changes introduced by the Sabbatians--Sabbataï proceeds
    to Constantinople--Nehemiah Cohen--Sabbataï Zevi's Apostasy
    to Islam and its Consequences--Continuation of the Sabbatian
    Movement--Death of Sabbataï and Spinoza--Results of the
    Sabbatian Imposture.

1656-1677 C. E.

Whilst Manasseh ben Israel was zealously laboring to complete the
fabric of Judaism by hastening on the Messianic era, one of his
disciples was applying an intellectual lever to destroy this edifice
to its foundation and convert it into a shapeless dust heap. He was
earnest about what was only amusement for Leo Modena. The Jewish race
once more brought a deep thinker into the world, one who was radically
to heal the human mind of its rooted perversities and errors, and to
prescribe a new direction for it, that it might better comprehend the
connection between heaven and earth, between mind and matter. Like his
ancestor Abraham, this Jewish thinker desired to break to pieces all
idols and vain images, before which men had hitherto bowed down through
fear, custom, and indolence, and to reveal to them a new God, not
enthroned in heaven's height beyond their reach, but living and moving
within them, whose temple they themselves should be. His influence
was like that of the storm, deafening and crushing down, but also
purifying and refreshing.

The lightning flashes of this great philosophical genius did greatest
injury to Judaism which was nearest to him. In the degradation of the
religion of his day and its professors, even his searching gaze could
not recognize the fair form concealed beneath a loathsome exterior.

This great thinker, the most famous philosopher of his time, who
brought about a new redemption, was Baruch Spinoza (really Espinosa,
born in Spain 1632, died 1677). He belonged to a family eminent for
neither intellect nor wealth. No sign at his birth portended that he
would reign for more than two centuries a king in the realm of thought.
With many other boys, he attended the Jewish school, consisting
of seven classes, recently established in Amsterdam, whither his
parents had migrated. With his extraordinary talents he surely kept
pace with the requirements of the school, if he did not exceed them.
In his thirteenth or fourteenth year he was probably introduced by
Manasseh ben Israel to the study of the Talmud, and initiated into
Hebrew grammar, rhetoric, and poetry. He received final instruction in
Rabbinical lore from Saul Morteira, the greatest Talmudist of his time
in Amsterdam. Together with Spinoza Morteira taught others who later
had more or less influence on Jewish history, but were of quite another

Moses Zacut (1630-1697), a descendant of the famous family of that
name, was held to be Morteira's first disciple. From his youth upwards,
with his predilection for mysticism and poetry, he formed a direct
contrast to Spinoza. He loved what was inexact and obscure, Spinoza the
clear and definite. Two incidents may serve to portray Moses Zacut.
He was asked when young what he thought of the fabulous narratives of
Rabba Bar-Bar-Chana in the Talmud, which are like those of Münchhausen,
and he replied that he regarded them as historical. When young he
learned Latin like most Portuguese youths in Amsterdam. Later, he so
regretted having learned that language, that he fasted forty days in
order to forget it, because, as he thought, this tongue of the devil
was not compatible with Kabbalistic truth. Another fellow-disciple of
Spinoza was Isaac Naar (Nahar), likewise a mystic, and of a spiteful
and not over-scrupulous nature.

Thirst for knowledge stimulated Spinoza to venture beyond the limited
circle of studies pursued in Morteira's lecture-room. He plunged into
the writings of older Jewish thinkers, three of whom alike attracted
and repelled him: Ibn-Ezra with his free-thinking and his reticence,
Moses Maimuni with his artificial system, aiming at the reconciliation
of faith and science, of Judaism and philosophy, and Chasdaï Crescas
with his hostility to traditional philosophy. Spinoza was also at
home in the Kabbala, the main doctrines of which had been rendered
accessible through Abraham de Herrera and Isaac Aboab. These various
elements heaved and fermented in his mind, which strove for insight,
and excited in his breast tormenting doubts, to which Ibn-Ezra's covert
unbelief mainly contributed. A youth of fifteen, Spinoza is said to
have expressed his doubts in the form of questions to his master
Morteira, which may have not a little perplexed a rabbi accustomed to
beaten tracks. To these elements of scepticism, conveyed to him from
Jewish literature, others were added from without. Spinoza learned
Latin, in itself nothing remarkable, since, as has been remarked,
nearly all the Jewish youths of Amsterdam, as well as Christians of
the educated classes of Holland, regarded that language as a means
of culture. But he was not contented with superficial knowledge;
he desired to drink deep of classical literature. He sought the
instruction of an eminent philologist of his time, Dr. Franz van
den Enden, who lectured in Amsterdam to noble youths, native and
foreign. Here he learned, in contact with educated Christian youths,
to adopt a different point of view from that which obtained in
Morteira's lecture-room and in Jewish circles. Van den Enden also
strongly influenced his mind. Though not an atheist, he was a man
of sceptical and satirical vein, who turned religious customs and
prejudices to ridicule, and exposed their weaknesses. But what with
him was the object of humor and wit, excited Spinoza's susceptible
and analytical mind to deep reflection and meditation. The natural
sciences, mathematics, and physics, which he pursued with devotion,
and the new-born, imposing philosophy of Descartes (Cartesius), for
which his mind had special affinity, extended his circle of vision
and enlightened his judgment. The more he imbibed ideas from various
sources, assimilating them with those innate in him, and the more his
logical understanding developed, the more did he become alienated from
Judaism, in its Rabbinical and Kabbalistic trappings, and love of Van
den Enden's learned daughter was not needed to make him a pervert from
Jewish belief.

Independent, judicial reason, which disregards what is traditional or
hallowed by time, and follows its own laws, was his mistress. To her
he dedicated pure, undivided worship, and she led him to break with
inherited views. All that cannot be justified before the inexorable
tribunal of clear human vision, passed with him for superstition
and clouded thought, if not actual frenzy. His ardent desire for
truth, pure truth and certainty, led him to a complete breach with
the religion endeared to him from childhood; he not only rejected
Talmudical Judaism, but also regarded the Bible as the work of man. The
apparent contradictions in the books of Holy Scripture appear to have
first raised his doubts as to their inspiration. It must have cost him
a hard struggle to give up the customs and opinions endeared to him
through manifold ties, and to become, to a certain extent, a new man.
For Spinoza was quite as much a moral character as a deep thinker.
To hold anything as false in theory, and yet from fear, custom, or
advantage to adopt it in practice was impossible for him. He was
differently constituted to his revered master Descartes, who kept away
from the church the torch of truth which he had kindled, made a gap
between theory and practice to avoid offending that church, and, for
example, vowed a pilgrimage to our Lady of Loretto for the success of
his system and its destructive tendency. According to Spinoza's idea
every action ought to be a true reflection of reason. When he could no
longer find truth in Judaism, he could not bring himself to follow its
ritual precepts. He ceased to attend the synagogue, cared no longer for
the Sabbath and the festivals, and broke the laws concerning diet. He
did not confine himself to the renunciation of Judaism, but imparted
his convictions to young men who sought his instruction.

The representatives of the community of Amsterdam were the more
concerned at the daily increasing report of Spinoza's estrangement
from, and hostility to Judaism, as they had in a measure looked
upon the gifted youth as their exponent, and as a firm support to
the jeopardized religion of their fathers. Now it was to be feared
that he would abandon it, go over to Christianity, and devote his
intellectual gifts to doing battle against his mother-faith. Could the
representatives of that faith, the college of rabbis and the secular
heads of the community, behold with indifference this systematic
neglect of Judaism in their midst? Fugitives were ever coming from
Spain and Portugal, who forfeited their high position, and staked
life and property, to remain true to Judaism. Others with unbending
attachment to the faith of their fathers, let themselves be dragged to
the dark prisons of the Inquisition, or with cheerful courage mounted
the funeral pile. A contemporary writer, an eye-witness, reports:

    "In Spain and Portugal there are monasteries and convents full
    of Jews. Not a few conceal Judaism in their heart and feign
    Christianity on account of worldly goods. Some of these feel
    the stings of conscience and escape, if they are able. In this
    city (Amsterdam) and in several other places, we have monks,
    Augustinians, Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, who have
    rejected idolatry. There are bishops in Spain and grave monks,
    whose parents, brothers, or sisters, dwell here (in Amsterdam)
    and in other cities in order to be able to profess Judaism."

At the very time when Spinoza became estranged from Judaism, the
smoke and flames of the funeral piles of Jewish martyrs rose in
several cities of Spain and Portugal, in Cuenca, Granada, Santiago de
Compostela, Cordova, and Lisbon.

In the last-named city a distinguished Marrano, Manuel Fernando de
Villa-Real, statesman, political writer, and poet, who conducted
the consular affairs of the Portuguese court at Paris, returned to
Lisbon on business, was seized by the Inquisition, gagged, and led to
execution (December 1, 1652). In Cuenca on one day (June 29, 1654)
fifty-seven Christian proselytes to Judaism were dragged to the
auto-da-fé. Most of them only received corporal chastisement with
loss of property, but ten were burned to death. Amongst them was a
distinguished man, the court-saddler Balthasar Lopez, from Valladolid,
who had amassed a fortune of 100,000 ducats. He had migrated to
Bayonne, where a small community of former Marranos was tolerated,
and had returned to Spain only to persuade a nephew to come back to
Judaism. He was seized by the Inquisition, tortured, and condemned
to death by the halter and the stake. On his way to the scaffold,
Balthasar Lopez ridiculed the Inquisition and Christianity. He
exclaimed to the executioner about to bind him, "I do not believe in
your Christ, even if you bind me," and threw the cross which had been
forced upon him to the ground. Five months later twelve Marranos were
burnt in Granada. Again, some months later (March, 1655), a promising
youth of twenty, Marcos da Almeyda Bernal, whose Jewish name was Isaac,
died at the stake; and two months afterwards (May 3d) Abraham Nuñes
Bernal was burnt at Cordova.

Whoever in the community of Amsterdam could compose verses in Spanish,
Portuguese, or Latin, sang or bewailed the martyrdom of the two
Bernals. Was Spinoza's view correct that all these martyrs, and the
thousands of Jewish victims still hounded by the Inquisition, pursued
a delusion? Could the representatives of Judaism allow unreproved, in
their immediate neighborhood, the promulgation of the idea that Judaism
is merely an antiquated error?

The college of rabbis, in which sat the two chief Chachams, Saul
Morteira and Isaac Aboab--Manasseh ben Israel was then living in
London--had ascertained the fact of Spinoza's change of opinion, and
had collected evidence. It was not easy to accuse him of apostasy, as
he did not proclaim his thoughts aloud in the market-place, as Uriel da
Costa had announced his breach with Judaism. Besides, he led a quiet,
self-contained life, and associated little with men. His avoidance of
the synagogue, the first thing probably to attract notice, could not
form the subject of a Rabbinical accusation. It is possible that, as is
related, two of his fellow-students (one, perhaps, the sly Isaac Naar)
thrust themselves upon him, drew him out, and accused him of unbelief,
and contempt for Judaism. Spinoza was summoned, tried, and admonished
to return to his former course of life. The court of rabbis did not
at first proceed with severity against him, for he was a favorite of
his teacher, and beloved in the community on account of his modest
bearing and moral behavior. By virtue of the firmness of his character
Spinoza probably made no sort of concession, but insisted upon freedom
of thought and conduct. Without doubt he was, in consequence, laid
under the lesser excommunication, that is, close intercourse with
him was forbidden for thirty days. This probably caused less pain to
Spinoza, who, self-centred, found sufficient resource in his rich
world of thought, than to the superficial Da Costa. Also, he was not
without Christian friends, and he, therefore, made no alteration in
his manner of life. This firmness was naturally construed as obstinacy
and defiance. But the rabbinate, as well as the secular authorities
of the community did not wish to exert the rigor of the Rabbinical
law against him, in order not to drive him to an extreme measure,
i. e., into the arms of the Church. What harm might not the conversion
to Christianity of so remarkable a youth entail in a newly-founded
community, consisting of Jews with Christian reminiscences! What
impression would it make on the Marranos in Spain and Portugal? Perhaps
the scandal caused by Da Costa's excommunication, still fresh in men's
memories, may have rendered a repetition impracticable. The rabbis,
therefore, privately offered Spinoza, through his friends, a yearly
pension of a thousand gulden on condition that he take no hostile step
against Judaism, and show himself from time to time in the synagogue.
But Spinoza, though young, was of so determined a character, that
money could not entice him to abandon his convictions or to act the
hypocrite. He insisted that he would not give up freedom of inquiry and
thought. He continued to impart to Jewish youths doctrines undermining
Judaism. So the tension between him and the representatives of Judaism
became daily greater; both sides were right, or imagined they were. A
fanatic in Amsterdam thought that he could put an end to this breach
by a dagger-stroke aimed at the dangerous apostate. He waylaid Spinoza
at the exit from the theatre, and struck at the philosopher with his
murderous weapon. But the latter observed the hostile movement in time,
and avoided the blow, so that only his coat was damaged. Spinoza left
Amsterdam to avoid the danger of assassination, and betook himself to
the house of a friend, likewise persecuted by the dominant Calvinistic
Church, an adherent of the sect of the Rhynsburgians, or Collectants,
who dwelt in a village between Amsterdam and Ouderkerk. Reconciliation
between Spinoza and the synagogue was no longer to be thought of. The
rabbis and the secular authorities of the community pronounced the
greater excommunication upon him, proclaiming it in the Portuguese
language on a Thursday, Ab 6th (July 24th), 1656, shortly before the
fast in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem. The sentence was
pronounced solemnly in the synagogue from the pulpit before the open
Ark. The sentence was as follows:

    "The council has long had notice of the evil opinions and
    actions of Baruch d'Espinosa, and these are daily increasing
    in spite of efforts to reclaim him. In particular, he teaches
    and proclaims dreadful heresy, of which credible witnesses are
    present, who have made their depositions in presence of the

All this, they continued, had been proved in the presence of the
elders, and the council had resolved to place him under the ban, and
excommunicate him.

The usual curses were pronounced upon him in presence of scrolls of
the Law, and finally the council forbade any one to have intercourse
with him, verbally or by writing, to do him any service, to abide under
the same roof with him, or to come within the space of four cubits'
distance from him, or to read his writings. Contrary to wont, the ban
against Spinoza was stringently enforced, to keep young people from his

Spinoza was away from Amsterdam, when the ban was hurled against him.
He is said to have received the news with indifference, and to have
remarked that he was now compelled to do what he would otherwise have
done without compulsion. His philosophic nature, which loved solitude,
could easily dispense with intercourse with relatives and former
friends. Yet the matter did not end for him there. The representative
body of the Portuguese community appealed to the municipal authorities
to effect his perpetual banishment from Amsterdam. The magistrates
referred the question, really a theological one, to the clergy, and
the latter are said to have proposed his withdrawal from Amsterdam for
some months. Most probably this procedure prompted him to elaborate
a justificatory pamphlet to show the civil authorities that he was
no violator or transgressor of the laws of the state, but that he
had exercised his just rights, when he reflected on the religion of
his forefathers and religion generally, and thought out new views.
The chain of reasoning suggested to Spinoza in the preparation of
his defense caused him doubtless to give wider extension and bearing
to this question. It gave him the opportunity to treat of freedom
of thought and inquiry generally, and so to lay the foundation of
the first of his suggestive writings, which have conferred upon him
literary immortality. In the village to which he had withdrawn,
1656-60, and later in Rhynsburg, where he also spent several years,
1660-64, Spinoza occupied himself (while polishing lenses, which
handicraft he had learned to secure his moderate subsistence) with the
Cartesian philosophy and the elaboration of the work entitled "The
Theologico-Political Treatise." His prime object was to spread the
conviction that freedom of thought can be permitted without prejudice
to religion and the peace of the state; furthermore, that it must be
permitted, for if it were forbidden, religion and peace could not exist
in the state.

The apology for freedom of thought had been rendered harder rather
than easier for Spinoza, by the subsidiary ideas with which he crossed
the main lines of his system. He could not philosophically find the
source of law, and transferred its origin to might. Neither God, nor
man's conscience, according to Spinoza, is the fountain of the eternal
law which rules and civilizes mankind; it springs from the whole
lower natural world. He made men to a certain extent "like the fishes
of the sea, like creeping things, which have no master." Large fish
have the right, not only to drink water, but also to devour smaller
fish, because they have the power to do so; the sphere of right of the
individual man extends as far as his sphere of might. This natural
right does not recognize the difference between good and evil, virtue
and vice, submission and force. But because such unlimited assertion
on the part of each must lead to a perpetual state of war of all
against all, men have tacitly, from fear, or hope, or reason, given
up their unlimited privileges to a collective body, the state. Out of
two evils--on the one hand, the full possession of their sphere of
right and might, tending to mutual destruction, and its alienation, on
the other--men have chosen the latter as the lesser evil. The state,
whether represented by a supreme authority elected for the purpose,
such as the Dutch States General, or by a despot, is the full possessor
of the rights of all, because of the power of all. Every one is bound
by his own interest to unconditional obedience, even if he should be
commanded to deprive others of life; resistance is not only punishable,
but contrary to reason. This supreme power is not controlled by any
law. Whether exercised by an individual, as in a monarchy, or by
several, as in a republic, it is justified in doing everything, and can
do no wrong. But the state has supreme right not merely over actions of
a civil nature, but also over spiritual and religious views; it could
not exist, if everyone were at liberty to attack it under the pretext
of religion. The government alone has the right to control religious
affairs, and to define belief, unbelief, orthodoxy, and heresy.
What a tyrannical conclusion! As this theory of Spinoza fails to
recognize moral law, so it ignores steadfast fidelity. As soon as the
government grows weak, it no longer has claim to obedience; everyone
may renounce and resist it, to submit himself to the incoming power.
According to this theory of civil and religious despotism, no one may
have an opinion about the laws of the state, otherwise he is a rebel.
Spinoza's theory almost does away with freedom, even of thought and
opinion. Whoever speaks against a state ordinance in a fault-finding
spirit, or to throw odium upon the government, or seeks to repeal a
law against its express wish, should be regarded as a disturber of the
public peace. Only through a sophistical quibble was Spinoza able to
save freedom of thought and free expression of opinion. Every man has
this right by nature, the only one which he has not transferred to
the state, because it is essentially inalienable. It must be conceded
to everyone to think and judge in opposition to the opinion of the
government, even to speak and teach, provided this be done with reason
and reflection, without fraud, anger, or malice, and without the
intention of causing a revolution.

On this weak basis, supported by a few other secondary considerations,
Spinoza justified his conflict with Judaism and his philosophical
attacks upon the sacred writings recognized by the Dutch States.
He thought that he had succeeded in justifying himself before the
magistrates sufficiently by his defense of freedom of thought. In the
formulation of this apology it was apparent that he was not indifferent
to the treatment which he had experienced from the college of rabbis.
Spinoza was so filled with displeasure, if not with hatred, of Jews
and Judaism, that his otherwise clear judgment was biased. He, like
Da Costa, called the rabbis nothing but Pharisees, and imputed
to them ambitious and degraded motives, while they wished only to
secure their treasured beliefs against attacks. Prouder even than his
contemporaries, the French and English philosophers, of freedom of
thought, for centuries repressed by the church, and now soaring aloft
the more powerfully, Spinoza summoned theology, in particular, ancient
Judaism before the throne of reason, examined its dogmas and archives,
and pronounced sentence of condemnation upon his mother-faith. He had
erected a tower of thought in his brain from which, as it were, he
wished to storm heaven. Spinoza's philosophy is like a fine net, laid
before our eyes, mesh by mesh, by which the human understanding is
unexpectedly ensnared, so that half voluntarily, half compulsorily, it
surrenders. Spinoza recognized, as no thinker before, those universal
laws, immutable as iron, which are apparent in the development of the
most insignificant grain of seed no less than in the revolution of the
heavenly bodies, in the precision of mathematical thought as in the
apparent irregularity of human passions. Whilst these laws work with
constant uniformity, and produce the same causes and the same phenomena
in endless succession, the instruments of law are perishable things,
creatures of a day, which rise, and vanish to give place to others:
here eternity, there temporality; on the one side necessity, on the
other chance; here reality, there delusive appearances. These and other
enigmas Spinoza sought to solve with the penetration that betrays
the son of the Talmud, and with logical consecutiveness and masterly
arrangement, for which Aristotle might have envied him.

The whole universe, all individual things, and their active powers are,
according to Spinoza, not merely from God, but of God; they constitute
the infinite succession of forms in which God reveals Himself, through
which He eternally works according to His eternal nature--the soul,
as it were, of thinking bodies, the body of the soul extended in
space. God is the indwelling, not the external efficient cause of all
things; all is in God and moves in God. God as creator and generator
of all things is generative or self-producing nature. The whole of
nature is animate, and ideas, as bodies, move in eternity on lines
running parallel to or intersecting one another. Though the fullness
of things which have proceeded from God and which exist in Him are not
of an eternal, but of a perishable nature, yet they are not limited or
defined by chance, but by the necessity of the divine nature, each in
its own way existing or acting within its smaller or larger sphere. The
eternal and constant nature of God works in them through the eternal
laws communicated to them. Things could, therefore, not be constituted
otherwise than they are; for they are the manifestations, entering into
existence in an eternal stream, of God in the intimate connection of
thought and extension.

What is man's place in this logical system? How is he to act and work?
Even he, with all his greatness and littleness, his strength and
weakness, his heaven-aspiring mind, and his body subject to the need of
sustenance, is nothing more than a form of existence (Modus) of God.
Man after man, generation after generation, springs up and perishes,
flows away like a drop in a perpetual stream, but his nature, the laws
by which he moves bodily and mentally in the peculiar connection of
mind and matter, reflect the Divine Being. Especially the human mind,
or rather the various modes of thought, the feelings and conceptions
of all men, form the eternal reason of God. But man is as little free
as things, as the stone which rolls down from the mountain; he has to
obey the causes which influence him from within and without. Each of
his actions is the product of an infinite series of causes and effects,
which he can scarcely discern, much less control and alter at will.
The good man and the bad, the martyr who sacrifices himself for a noble
object, as well as the execrable villain and the murderer, are all
like clay in the hands of God; they act, the one well, the other ill,
compelled by their inner nature. They all act from rigid necessity. No
man can reproach God for having given him a weak nature or a clouded
intellect, as it would be irrational if a circle should complain that
God has not given it the nature and properties of the sphere. It is not
the lot of every man to be strong-minded, and it lies as little in his
power to have a sound mind as a sound body.

On one side man is, to a certain extent, free, or rather some men
of special mental endowments can free themselves a little from the
pressure exercised upon them. Man is a slave chiefly through his
passions. Love, hate, anger, thirst for glory, avarice, make him the
slave of the external world. These passions spring from the perplexity
of the soul, which thinks it can control things, but wears itself out,
so to speak, against their obstinate resistance, and suffers pain
thereby. The better the soul succeeds in comprehending the succession
of causes and effects and the necessity of phenomena in the plan of
the universe, the better able is it to change pain into a sense of
comfort. Through higher insight, man, if he allows himself to be led by
reason, can acquire strength of soul, and feel increased love to God,
that is, to the eternal whole. On the one hand, this secures nobility
of mind to aid men and to win them by mildness and benevolence; and
creates, on the other, satisfaction, joy, and happiness. He who is
gifted with highest knowledge lives in God, and God in him. Knowledge
is virtue, as ignorance is, to a certain extent, vice. Whilst the
wise man, or strictly speaking, the philosopher, thanks to his higher
insight and his love of God, enjoys tranquillity of soul, the man
of clouded intellect, who abandons himself to the madness of his
passions, must dispense with this joyousness, and often perishes in
consequence. The highest virtue, according to Spinoza's system, is
self-renunciation through knowledge, keeping in a state of passiveness,
coming as little as possible in contact with the crushing machinery of
forces--avoiding them if they come near, or submitting to them if
their wild career overthrows the individual. But as he who is beset
by desires deserves no blame, so no praise is due the wise man who
practices self-renunciation; both follow the law of their nature.
Higher knowledge and wisdom cannot be attained if the conditions are
wanting, namely, a mind susceptible of knowledge and truth, which one
can neither give himself, nor throw off. Man has thus no final aim, any
more than the eternal substance.

Spinoza's moral doctrines--ethics in the narrower sense--are just
as unfruitful as his political theories. In either case, he recognizes
submission as the only rational course.

With this conception of God and moral action, it cannot surprise us
that Judaism found no favor in Spinoza's eyes. Judaism lays down
directly opposite principles--beckons man to a high, self-reliant
task, and proclaims aloud the progress of mankind in simple service
of God, holiness, and victory over violence, the sword, and degrading
war. This progress has been furthered in many ways by Judaism in the
course of ages. Wanting, as Spinoza was, in apprehension of historical
events, more wonderful than the phenomena of nature, and unable as he
therefore was to accord to Judaism special importance, he misconceived
it still further through his bitterness against the Amsterdam college
of rabbis, who pardonably enough, had excommunicated him. Spinoza
transferred his bitterness against the community to the whole Jewish
race and to Judaism. As has been already said, he called the rabbis
Pharisees in his "Theologico-Political Treatise" and in letters to
his friends, and gave the most invidious meaning to this word. To
Christianity, on the contrary, Spinoza conceded great excellencies; he
regarded Judaism with displeasure, therefore, detected deficiencies
and absurdities everywhere, while he cast a benevolent eye upon
Christianity, and overlooked its weaknesses. Spinoza, therefore, with
all the instinct for truth which characterized him, formed a conception
of Judaism which, in some degree just, was, in many points, perverse
and defective. Clear as his mind was in metaphysical inquiries, it was
dark and confused on historical ground. To depreciate Judaism, Spinoza
declared that the books of Holy Scripture contain scribes' errors,
interpolations, and disfigurements, and are not, as a rule, the work
of the authors to whom they are ascribed--not even the Pentateuch,
the original source of Judaism. Ezra, perhaps, first collected and
arranged it after the Babylonian exile. The genuine writings of Moses
are no longer extant, not even the Ten Commandments being in their
original form. Nevertheless, Spinoza accepted every word in the Bible
as a kind of revelation, and designated all persons who figure in it as
prophets. He conceded, on the ground of Scripture, that the revelation
of the prophets was authenticated by visible signs. Nevertheless, he
very much underrated this revelation. Moses, the prophets, and all
the higher personages of the Bible had only a confused notion of God,
nature, and living beings; they were not philosophers, they did not
avail themselves of the natural light of reason. Jesus stood higher;
he taught not only a nation, but the whole of mankind on rational
grounds. The Apostles, too, were to be set higher than the prophets,
since they introduced a natural method of instruction, and worked
not merely through signs, but also through rational conviction. As
though the main effort of the Apostles, to which their whole zeal was
devoted, viz., to reach belief in the miraculous resurrection of Jesus,
were consistent with reason! It was only Spinoza's bitterness against
Jews which caused him to depreciate their spiritual property and
overrate Christianity. His sober intellect, penetrating to the eternal
connection of things and events, could not accept miracles, but those
of the New Testament he judged mildly.

In spite of his condemnatory verdict on Judaism, he was struck by two
phenomena, which he did not fully understand, and which, therefore, he
judged only superficially according to his system. These were the moral
greatness of the prophets, and the superiority of the Israelite state,
which in a measure depend on each other. Without understanding the
political organization, in which natural and moral laws, necessity and
freedom work together, Spinoza explains the origin of the Jewish state,
that is, of Judaism, in the following manner: When the Israelites,
after deliverance from slavery in Egypt, were free from all political
bondage, and restored to their natural rights, they willingly chose
God as their Lord, and transferred their rights to Him alone by formal
contract and alliance. That there be no appearance of fraud on the
divine side, God permitted them to recognize His marvelous power, by
virtue of which He had hitherto preserved, and promised in future to
preserve them, that is, He revealed Himself to them in His glory on
Sinai; thus God became the King of Israel and the state a theocracy.
Religious opinions and truths, therefore, had a legal character in
this state, religion and civic right coincided. Whoever revolted from
religion forfeited his rights as a citizen, and whoever died for
religion was a patriot. Pure democratic equality, the right of all to
entreat God and interpret the laws, prevailed among the Israelites.
But when, in the overpowering bewilderment of the revelation from
Sinai, they voluntarily asked Moses to receive the laws from God and
to interpret them, they renounced their equality, and transferred their
rights to Moses. Moses from that time became God's representative.
Hence, he promulgated laws suited to the condition of the people at
that time, and introduced ceremonies to remind them always of the Law
and keep them from willfulness, so that in accordance with a definite
precept they should plough, sow, eat, clothe themselves, in a word,
do everything according to the precepts of the Law. Above all, he
provided that they might not act from childish or slavish fear, but
from reverence for God. He bound them by benefits, and promised them
earthly prosperity--all through the power and by the command of
God. Moses was vested with spiritual and civil power, and authorized
to transmit both. He preferred to transfer the civil power to his
disciple Joshua in full, but not as a heritage, and the spiritual power
to his brother Aaron as a heritage, but limited by the civil ruler,
and not accompanied by a grant of territory. After the death of Moses
the Jewish state was neither a monarchy, nor an aristocracy, nor a
democracy; it remained a theocracy. The family of the high-priest was
God's interpreter, and the civil power, after Joshua's death, fell to
single tribes or their chiefs.

This constitution offered many advantages. The civil rulers could not
turn the law to their own advantage, nor oppress the people, for the
Law was the province of the sacerdotal order--the sons of Aaron and
the Levites. Besides, the people were made acquainted with the Law
through the prescribed reading at the close of the Sabbatical year, and
would not have passed over with indifference any willful transgression
of the law of the state. The army was composed of native militia, while
foreigners, that is, mercenaries, were excluded. Thus the rulers were
prevented from oppressing the people or waging war arbitrarily. The
tribes were united by religion, and the oppression of one tribe by its
ruler would have been punished by the rest. The princes were not placed
at the head through rank or privilege of blood, but through capacity
and merit. Finally, the institution of prophets proved very wholesome.
Since the constitution was theocratical, every one of blameless life
was able through certain signs to represent himself as a prophet
like Moses, draw the oppressed people to him in the name of God, and
oppose the tyranny of the rulers. This peculiar constitution produced
in the heart of the Israelites an especial patriotism, which was at
the same time a religion, so that no one would betray it, leave God's
kingdom, or swear allegiance to a foreigner. This love, coupled with
hatred against other nations, and fostered by daily worship of God,
became second nature to the Israelites. It strengthened them to endure
everything for their country with steadfastness and courage. This
constitution offered a further advantage, because the land was equally
divided, and no one could be permanently deprived of his portion
through poverty, as restitution had to be made in the year of jubilee.

Hence, there was little poverty, or such only as was endurable, for
the love of one's neighbor had to be exercised with the greatest
conscientiousness to keep the favor of God, the King. Finally, a large
space was accorded to gladness. Thrice a year and on other occasions
the people were to assemble at festivals, not to revel in sensual
enjoyments, but to accustom themselves to follow God gladly; for there
is no more effectual means of guiding the hearts of men than the joy
which arises from love and admiration.

After Spinoza had depicted Israel's theocracy quite as a pattern for
all states, he was apparently startled at having imparted so much
light to the picture, and he looked around for shade. Instead of
answering in a purely historical manner the questions, whence it
came that the Hebrews were so often subdued, and why their state was
entirely destroyed; instead of indicating that these wholesome laws
remained a never realized ideal, Spinoza suggests a sophistic solution.
Because God did not wish to make Israel's dominion lasting, he gave
bad laws and statutes. Spinoza supports this view by a verse which he
misunderstood. These bad laws, rebellion against the sacerdotal state,
coupled with bad morals, produced discontent, revolt, and insurrection.
At last matters went so far, that instead of the Divine King, the
Israelites chose a human one, and instead of the temple, a court.
Monarchy, however, only increased the disorder; it could not endure the
state within the state, the high-priesthood, and lowered the dignity of
the latter by the introduction of strange worship. The prophets could
avail nothing, because they only declaimed against the tyrants, but
could not remove the cause of the evils. All things combined brought
on the destruction of the divine state. With its destruction by the
Babylonian king, the natural rights of the Israelites were transferred
to the conqueror, and they were bound to obey him and his successors,
as they had obeyed God. All the laws of Judaism, nay, the whole of
Judaism, was thereby abolished, and no longer had any significance.
This was the result of Spinoza's inquiry in his "Theologico-Political
Treatise." Judaism had a brilliant past, God concluded an alliance with
the people, showed to them His exalted power, and gave them excellent
laws; but He did not intend Israel's preëminence to be permanent,
therefore He also gave bad laws. Consequently, Judaism reached its end
more than two thousand years ago, and yet it continued its existence!
Wonderful! Spinoza found the history of Israel and the constitution of
the state excellent during the barbarism of the period of the Judges,
while the brilliant epochs of David and Solomon and of King Uzziah
remained inexplicable to him. And, above all, the era of the second
Temple, the Maccabean epoch, when the Jewish nation rose from shameful
degradation to a brilliant height, and brought the heathen world itself
to worship the one God and adopt a moral life, remained to Spinoza
an insoluble riddle. This shows that his whole demonstration and his
analysis (schematism) cannot stand the test of criticism, but rests on
false assumptions.

Spinoza might have brought Judaism into extreme peril; for he not only
furnished its opponents with the weapons of reason to combat Judaism
more effectually, but also conceded to every state and magistrate the
right to suppress it and use force against its followers, to which
they ought meekly to submit. The funeral piles of the Inquisition
for Marranos were, according to Spinoza's system, doubly justified;
citizens have no right on rational grounds to resist the recognized
religion of the state, and it is folly to profess Judaism and to
sacrifice oneself for it. But a peculiar trait of Spinoza's character
stood Judaism in good stead. He loved peace and quiet too well to
become a propagandist for his critical principles. "To be peaceable
and peaceful" was his ideal; avoidance of conflict and opposition
was at once his strength and his weakness. To his life's end he led
an ideally-philosophical life; for food, clothing, and shelter, he
needed only so much as he could earn with his handicraft of polishing
lenses, which his friends disposed of. He struggled against accepting
a pension, customarily bestowed on learned men at that time, even from
his sincere and rich admirers, Simon de Vries and the grand pensionary
De Witt, that he might not fall into dependence, constraint, and
disquiet. By reason of this invincible desire for philosophic calm
and freedom from care, he would not decide in favor of either of
the political parties, then setting the States General in feverish
agitation. Not even the exciting murder of his friend John de Witt
was able to hurry him into partisanship. Spinoza bewailed his high
and noble friend, but did not defend his honor, to clear it of
suspicion. When the most highly cultivated German prince of his time,
Count-Palatine Karl Ludwig, who cherished a certain affection for
Jews, offered him, "the Protestant Jew," as he was still called,
the chair of philosophy in the University of Heidelberg under very
favorable conditions, Spinoza declined the offer. He did not conceal
his reason: he would not surrender his quietude. From this predominant
tendency, or, rather, from fear of disturbance and inconveniences and
from apprehension of calling enemies down upon him, or of coming into
collision with the state, he refused to publish his speculations for
a long time. When at last he resolved, on the pressure of friends, to
send "The Theologico-Political Treatise" to press, he did not put his
name to the work, which made an epoch in literature, and even caused
a false place of publication, viz., Hamburg, to be printed on the
title-page, in order to obliterate every trace of its real authorship.
He almost denied his offspring, to avoid being disturbed.

As might have been foreseen, the appearance of "The
Theologico-Political Treatise" (1670), made an extraordinary stir. No
one had written so distinctly and incisively concerning the relation
of religion to philosophy and the power of the state, and, above all,
had so sharply condemned the clergy. The ministers of all denominations
were extraordinarily excited against this "godless" book, as it was
called, which disparaged revealed religion. Spinoza's influential
friends were not able to protect it; it was condemned by a decree of
the States General, and forbidden to be sold--which only caused it to
be read more eagerly. But Spinoza was the more reluctant to publish
his other writings, especially his philosophical system. With all his
strength of character, he did not belong to those bold spirits, who
undertake to be the pioneers of truth, who usher it into the world with
loud voice, and win it adherents, unconcerned as to whether they may
have to endure bloody or bloodless martyrdom. In the unselfishness of
Spinoza's character and system there lurked an element of selfishness,
namely, the desire to be disturbed as little as possible in the
attainment of knowledge, in the happiness of contemplation, and in
reflection upon the universe and the chain of causes and effects
which prevail in it. A challenge to action, effort, and resistance to
opposition lay neither in Spinoza's temper, nor in his philosophy.

In this apparently harmless feature lay also the reason that his most
powerful and vehemently conducted attacks upon Judaism made no deep
impression, and called forth no great commotion in the Jewish world. At
the time when Spinoza threw down the challenge to Judaism, a degree of
culture and science prevailed in the Jewish-Portuguese circle, unknown
either before or after; there reigned in the community of Amsterdam and
its colonies a literary activity and fecundity, which might be called
classical, if the merit of the literary productions had corresponded
with their compass. The authors were chiefly cultivated Marranos, who
had escaped from the Spanish or Portuguese prisons of the Inquisition
to devote themselves in free Holland to their faith and free inquiry.
There were philosophers, physicians, mathematicians, philologists,
poets, even poetesses. Many of these Marranos who escaped to Amsterdam
had gone through peculiar vicissitudes. A monk of Valencia, Fray
Vincent de Rocamora (1601-1684), had been eminent in Catholic theology.
He had been made confessor to the Infanta Maria, afterwards empress
of Germany and a persecutor of the Jews. One day the confessor fled
from Spain, reached Amsterdam, declared himself as Isaac de Rocamora,
studied medicine at the age of forty, and became the happy father of
a family and president of Jewish benevolent institutions. The quondam
monk, afterwards Parnass (president of the community), was also a good
poet, and wrote admirable Spanish and Latin verses.

Enrique Enriquez de Paz of Segovia (1600-1660), the Jewish Calderon,
had a very different career. Having entered the army while young, he
behaved so gallantly that he won the order of San Miguel, and was made
captain. Besides the sword, he wielded the pen, with which he described
comic figures and situations. Enriquez de Paz, or, as he was styled
in his poetical capacity, Antonio Enriquez de Gomez, composed more
than two and twenty comedies, some of which were put upon the stage at
Madrid, and, being taken for Calderon's productions, were received with
much applause. Neither Mars nor the Muses succeeded in protecting him
against the Inquisition; he could escape its clutches only by rapid
flight. He lived a long time in France. His prolific muse celebrated
Louis XIV, the queen of France, the powerful statesman Richelieu,
and other high personages of the court. He bewailed in elegies his
misfortunes and the loss of his country, which he loved like a son,
step-mother though she had been to him. Although blessed by fortune,
Enriquez de Paz felt himself unhappy in the rude north, far from the
blue mountains and mild air of Spain. He lamented:

    "I have won for myself wealth and traveled over many seas, and
    heaped up ever fresh treasures by thousands; now my hair is
    bleached, my beard as snowy white as my silver bars, the reward
    of my labors."

He lived in France, too, as a Christian, but proclaimed his sympathy
with Judaism by mourning in elegiac verses the martyrdom of Lope de
Vera y Alarcon. Finally he settled down in the asylum of the Marranos,
whilst his effigy was burnt on the funeral pile at Seville. There had
been again a great auto-da-fé (1660) of sixty Marranos, of whom four
were first strangled and then burned, whilst three were burned alive.
Effigies of escaped Marranos were borne along in procession, and thrown
into the flames--amongst them that of the knight of San Miguel, the
writer of comedies. A new-Christian, who was present at this horrible
sight, and soon after escaped to Amsterdam, met Gomez in the street,
and exclaimed excitedly: "Ah! Señor Gomez! I saw your effigy burn on
the funeral pile at Seville!" "Well," he replied, "they are welcome to
it." Along with his numerous secular poems, Enriquez Gomez left one of
Jewish national interest in celebration of the hero-judge Samson. The
laurels which the older Spanish poet Miguel Silveyra, also a Marrano,
whom he admired, had won by his epic, "The Maccabee," haunted him until
he had brought out a companion piece. To the blind hero who avenged
himself on the Philistines by his very death, Gomez assigned verses
which expressed his own heart:

      "I die for Thy holy word, for Thy religion,
      For Thy doctrine, Thy hallowed commandments,
      For the nation adopted by Thy choice,
      For Thy sublime ordinance I die."

Another point of view is presented by two emigrant Marranos of this
period, father and son, the two Pensos, the one rich in possessions and
charity, the other in poetical gifts. They probably sprang from Espejo,
in the province of Cordova, escaped from the fury of the Inquisition,
and at last settled, after many changes of residence, as Jews in
Amsterdam. Isaac Penso (died 1683) the elder, a banker, was a father to
the poor. He spent a tithe of the income from his property on the poor,
and distributed, up to his death, 40,000 gulden. His decease aroused
deep regret in the community of Amsterdam. His son (Felice) Joseph
Penso, also called De la Vega from his mother's family (1650-1703),
was a rich merchant, and turned his attention to poetry. A youth of
seventeen, he awoke the long-slumbering echo of neo-Hebraic poesy, and
caused it to strike its highest note. Joseph Penso boldly undertook a
most difficult task; he composed a Hebrew drama. Since Immanuel Romi
had written his witty tales in verse, the neo-Hebraic muse had been
stricken with sterility, for which the increasing troubles of the
times were not alone to blame. Moses da Rieti and the poetic school of
Salonica composed verses, but did not write poetry. Even the greatest
of Jewish poets, Gebirol and Jehuda Halevi, had produced only lyric
and didactic poetry, and had not thought of the drama. Joseph Penso,
inspired by the poetical air of Spain, the land of his birth, where
Lope de Vega's and Calderon's melodious verses were heard beside the
litany of the monks and the cry of the sacrificial victims, transferred
Spanish art forms to neo-Hebraic poetry. Penso happily imitated the
various kinds of metre and strophe of European poetry in the language
of David and Isaiah.

One may not, indeed, apply a severe standard to Joseph Penso's drama,
but should endeavor to forget that long before him Shakespeare had
created life-like forms and interests. For, measured by these, Penso's
dramatic monologue and dialogue seem puerile. However free from blame
his versification is, the invention is poor, the ideas commonplace. A
king who takes a serious view of his responsibilities as ruler is led
astray, now by his own impulses (Yezer), now by a coquette (Isha), now
by Satan. Three other opposing forces endeavor to lead him in the right
way--his own judgment (Sechel), divine inspiration (Hashgacha), and
an angel. These are the characters in Penso's drama "The Captives of
Hope" (Asiré ha-Tikwah). But if one takes into consideration the object
which Penso had in view, viz., to hold up a mirror to Marrano youths
settled at Amsterdam, who had been used to Spanish licentiousness, and
to picture to them the high value of a virtuous life, the performance
of the youthful poet is not to be despised. Joseph Penso de la Vega
composed a large number of verses in Spanish, occasional poetry, moral
and philosophical reflections, and eulogies on princes. His novels,
entitled "The Dangerous Courses" (los Rumbos peligrosos), were popular.

Marrano poets of mediocre ability were so numerous at this time in
Amsterdam, that one of them, the Spanish resident in the Netherlands,
Manuel Belmonte (Isaac Nuñes), appointed count-palatine, founded an
academy of poetry. Poetical works were to be handed in, and as judges
he appointed the former confessor, De Rocamora, and another Marrano,
who composed Latin verses, Isaac Gomez de Sosa. The latter was so much
enraptured of Penso's Hebrew drama, that he triumphantly proclaimed, in
Latin verse:

    "Now is it at length attained! The Hebrew Muse strides along on
    high-heeled buskin safe and sound. With the measured step of
    poetry she is conducted auspiciously by Joseph--sprung from
    that race which still is mostly in captivity. Lo! a clear beam
    of hope shines afresh, that now even the stage may be opened to
    sacred song. Yet why do I praise him? The poet is celebrated by
    his own poetry, and his own work proclaims the praise of the

Another of the friends of the Jewish dramatist was Nicolas de Oliver
y Fullana (Daniel Jehuda), poet, and colonel in the Spanish service;
he was knighted, entered the service of Holland, and was an accurate
cartographer and cosmographer. There was also Joseph Szemach (Sameh)
Arias, a man of high military rank, who translated into Spanish the
work of the historian Josephus against Apion, which controverted the
old prejudices and falsehoods against Jews. This polemic was not
superfluous even at this time. Of the Jewish Marrano poetesses, it will
suffice to name the fair and gifted Isabel Correa (Rebecca), who twined
a wreath of various poems, and translated the Italian popular drama,
"The True Shepherd" (Pastor Fido, by Guarini) into beautiful Spanish
verse. Isabel was the second wife of the poet-warrior, De Oliver y

Of a far different stamp was the Marrano Thomas de Pinedo (Isaac,
1614-1679) of Portugal, educated in a Jesuit college at Madrid. He was
more at home in classical than in Jewish antiquity, and applied himself
to a branch of study little cultivated in Spain in his time, that of
ancient geography. He, too, was driven out of Spain by the Inquisition,
and deemed himself fortunate to have escaped unhurt. The philologist De
Pinedo dwelt later on in Amsterdam, where he printed his comprehensive
work. He composed his own epitaph in Latin.

We must not leave unmentioned a personage celebrated at that time
perhaps beyond his deserts, Jacob Jehuda Leon (Templo, 1603-1671).
If not a Marrano, he was of Marrano descent, and resided first at
Middelburg, then at Amsterdam, and was more an artist than a man of
science. Leon devoted himself to the reproduction of the first Temple
and its vessels, as they are described in the Bible and the Talmud.
He executed a model of the Temple on a reduced scale (3 yards square,
1-1/2 in height), and added a concise, clear description in Spanish
and Hebrew. Work of so unusual a character attracted extraordinary
notice at a time when every kind of antiquarian learning, especially
biblical, was highly prized. The government of Holland and Zealand
gave the author the copyright privilege. Duke August of Brunswick, and
his wife Elizabeth, wished to possess a German translation of Leon's
description, and commissioned Professor John Saubert, of Helmstädt,
to undertake it. While corresponding with the author so as to ensure
thoroughness, he was anticipated by another man who brought out a
German translation at Hanover. This circumstance caused great annoyance
to Professor Saubert. Templo, as Leon and his posterity were surnamed
from his work in connection with the Temple, engaged in controversies
with Christian ecclesiastics on Judaism and Christianity, and published
a translation of the Psalms in Spanish.

In this cultivated circle of Spinoza's contemporaries were two men who
lived alternately at Hamburg and Amsterdam, David Coen de Lara and
Dionysius Musaphia, both distinguished as philologists, but not for
much besides. With their knowledge of Latin and Greek they explained
the dialect of the Talmud, and corrected errors which had crept into
the earlier Talmudical lexicons. David de Lara (1610-1674) was also a
preacher and writer on morals; but his efforts in that direction are of
small value. He associated too much with the Hamburg preacher, Esdras
Edzardus, who was bent on the conversion of the Jews. The latter spread
the false report that De Lara was almost a Christian before he died.
Dionysius (Benjamin) Musaphia (born about 1616, died at Amsterdam,
1676), a physician and student of natural science, was up to the date
of the monarch's death in the service of the Danish king Christian IV.
He was also a philosopher, and allowed himself to question various
things in the Talmud and the Bible. Nevertheless he held the office of
rabbi at Amsterdam in his old age.

Much more important than the whole of this circle was Balthasar
Orobio de Castro (1620-1687). He also sprang from Marrano parents,
who secretly continued to cling to Judaism, in that they abstained
from food and drink on the Day of Atonement. In this meager conception
of Judaism, Orobio was brought up. Endowed with clear intellect, he
studied the decayed and antiquated philosophy still taught in Spanish
academies, and became professor of metaphysics in the University of
Salamanca. This fossilized philosophy appears neither to have satisfied
him nor to have brought him sufficient means of subsistence, for he
applied himself in riper years to the study of medicine. In this
pursuit Orobio was more successful; he gained a reputation at Seville,
was physician to the duke of Medina-Celi, and to a family in high favor
with the court, and amassed considerable wealth. He was a happy husband
and father, when the Inquisition cast its baleful glance upon him. A
servant, whom he had punished for theft, had informed against him.
Orobio was seized, accused of Judaism, and thrown into a narrow, gloomy
dungeon, where he had not room to move, and where he spent three years
(about 1655-1658).

At first he filled up his time with philosophical subtleties, as
pursued at the Spanish universities. He undertook to defend a thesis,
acting at the same time in imagination as the opponent, who interposes
objections, and as the judge, who sums up and sifts the arguments.
By degrees his mind grew so perplexed that he often asked himself,
"Am I really Don Balthasar Orobio, who went about in the streets of
Seville, and lived in comfort with his family?" His past seemed a
dream, and he believed that he had been born in prison, and must die
there. But the tribunal of the Inquisition brought a change into his
empty dream-life. He was ushered into a dark vault, lighted only by a
dull lamp. He could hardly distinguish the judge, the secretary, and
the executioner, who were about to deal with his case. Having been
again admonished to confess his heresy, and having again denied it, the
hangman undressed him, bound him with cords, which were fastened to
hooks in the wall, brought his body into a swinging movement between
the ceiling and the floor, and drew the cords so tight, that the blood
spurted from his nails. His feet, moreover, were strongly bound to
a small ladder, the steps of which were studded with spikes. Whilst
being tortured, he was frequently admonished to make confession, and
was threatened, in case he persisted in denial, with the infliction of
still more horrible pains, for which, though they caused his death, he
would have to thank his own obstinacy, not the tribunal. However, he
survived the torture, was taken back to prison to allow his wounds to
heal, then condemned to wear the garb of shame (San Benito), and was
finally banished from Spain. He betook himself to Toulouse, where he
became professor of medicine in the university. Although respected in
his new position, Orobio could not long endure the hypocrisy. He went
to Amsterdam, publicly professed the Jewish religion, and assumed the
name of Isaac (about 1666). No wonder that he became a bitter opponent
of Christianity, which he had learnt to know thoroughly. He became an
adherent of Judaism from conviction, proved himself a courageous and
able champion of the religion of his fathers, and dealt such powerful
blows to Christianity as few before him, so that a distinguished
Protestant theologian (Van Limborch) felt compelled to reply to
Orobio's attacks.

All these cultivated youths and men, the soldier-poets Enriquez Gomez,
Nicholas de Oliver y Fullana, and Joseph Arias, and the writers Joseph
Penso, Thomas de Pinedo, Jacob Leon, David de Lara, and Dionysius
Musaphia, knew of Spinoza's attacks upon Judaism, and undoubtedly read
his "Theologico-Political Treatise." Isaac Orobio associated with
Spinoza. Yet the blows by which the latter strove to shake Judaism did
not cause the former to waver in their convictions. This is the more
remarkable, as simultaneously, from another side, Judaism was covered
with shame, or, what comes to the same thing, its followers everywhere
in the East and West, with few exceptions, became slaves to a delusion
which exposed them to the ridicule of the world, and enveloped them for
the first time in the darkness of the Middle Ages.

Without suspecting it, Spinoza possessed in the East an ally,
diametrically his opposite, who labored to disintegrate Judaism, and
succeeded in throwing the whole Jewish race into a turmoil, which long
interfered with its progress. Sabbataï Zevi was at once Spinoza's
opposite and his ally. He possessed many more admirers than the
philosopher of Amsterdam, became for a space the idol of the Jewish
race, and has secret adherents even to the present time. Sabbataï Zevi
(born Ab 9, 1626, died 1676), of Smyrna, in Asia Minor, was of Spanish
descent, and became the originator of a new Messianic frenzy, the
founder of a new sect. He owed the attachment which he inspired even as
a youth, not to his qualities of mind, but to his external appearance
and attractive manner. He was tall, well formed, had fine dark hair, a
fine beard, and a pleasant voice, which won hearts by speech and still
more by song. But his mind was befogged by reason of the predominance
of fancy; he had an enthusiastic temperament and an inclination to what
was strange, especially to solitude. In boyhood Sabbataï Zevi avoided
the company and games of playmates, sought solitary places, and what
usually has charms for the young did not attract him. He was educated
by the current method. In early youth he studied the Talmud in the
school of the veteran Joseph Eskapha, a staunch Talmudist of Smyrna,
but did not attain to great proficiency. The more was he attracted by
the confused jumble of the Kabbala. Once introduced into the labyrinth
of the Zohar, he felt himself at home therein, guided by Lurya's
interpretation. Sabbataï Zevi shared the prevailing opinion that the
Kabbala can be acquired only by means of asceticism. He mortified his
body, and bathed very frequently in the sea, day and night, winter
and summer. Perhaps it was from sea-bathing that his body derived the
peculiar fragrance which his worshipers strongly maintained that it
possessed. In early manhood he presented a contrast to his companions
because he felt no attraction to the female sex. According to custom
Sabbataï Zevi married early, but avoided his young, good-looking wife
so pertinaciously, that she applied for divorce, which he willingly
granted her. The same thing happened with a second wife.

This aversion to marriage, rare in the warm climate of the East,
his assiduous study of the Kabbala, and his ascetic life, attracted
attention. Disciples sought him, and were introduced by him to the
Kabbala. Twenty years old he was the master of a small circle. He
attached disciples to himself partly by his earnest and retiring
manner, which precluded familiarity, partly by his musical voice,
with which he sang in Spanish the Kabbalistic verses composed by
Lurya or himself. Another circumstance must be added. When Sultan
Ibrahim ascended the throne, a violent war broke out between Turkey
and Venice, which made the trade of the Levant unsafe in the capital.
Several European, that is, Dutch and English, mercantile houses
in consequence transferred their offices to Smyrna. This hitherto
insignificant city thereby acquired importance as a mart. The Jews of
Smyrna, who had been poor, profited by this commercial development, and
amassed great riches, first as agents of large houses, afterwards as
independent firms. Mordecai Zevi, Sabbataï's father, from the Morea,
originally poor, became the Smyrna agent of an English house, executed
its commissions with strict honesty, enjoyed the confidence of the
principals, and became a wealthy man. His increasing prosperity was
attributed by the blind father to the merit of his Kabbala-loving son,
to whom he paid such great reverence, that it was communicated to
strangers. Sabbataï was regarded as a young saint. The more discreet,
on account of his folly, declared him to be mad. In the house of his
English principal, Mordecai Zevi often heard the approach of the
millennium discussed, either he himself or some of his people being
enthusiastic believers in the apocalypse of the Fifth Monarchy. The
year 1666 was designated by these enthusiasts as the Messianic year,
which was to bring renewed splendor to the Jews and see their return to
Jerusalem. The expectations heard in the English counting house were
communicated by Mordecai Zevi to the members of his family, none of
whom listened more attentively than Sabbataï, already entangled in the
maze of the Luryan Kabbala, and inclined to mistake enthusiastic hopes
for prosaic fact. What if he himself were called upon to usher in this
time of redemption? Had he not, at an earlier age than any one before,
penetrated to the heart of the Kabbala? And who could be more worthy of
this call than one deeply immersed in its mysteries?

The central point of the later Kabbala was most intense expectation of
the Messiah; Lurya, Vital, and their disciples and followers proclaimed
anew, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." A peculiar redemption was to
precede and accompany it--the redemption of the scattered elements
of the original soul (Nizuzoth) from the fetters of original evil, the
demon nature (Kelifoth), which, taking a hold on men through the fall
of the angels or divine elements, held them in captivity, impeded their
upward flight, and necessitated the perpetual transmigration of souls
from body to body. As soon as the evil spirit was either consumed,
annihilated, rendered powerless, or at least existed by itself without
admixture of the divine, then the Kabbalistic order (Olam ha-Tikkun)
would prevail, streams of mercy would pour forth without let or
hindrance upon the lower world through the channels of the Sefiroth,
and fructify and miraculously quicken it. This work of redemption
can be accomplished by every truly pious man (Zaddik), who having an
enlightened soul, and being initiated into the Kabbala, stands in close
union with the world of spirits, comprehends the connection between the
upper and lower world, and fulfills all religious exercises (Kewanoth)
with concentrated devotion and with due regard to their influence upon
the higher powers. Still more effectually the Messiah, the son of
David, will accomplish the annihilation of demoniacal powers and the
restoration of lost souls, or rather the collection of the scattered
elements of the universal soul of Adam. For to the Messiah, in whom
dwells a pure, immaculate soul, are unfolded the mysterious depths of
the higher worlds, essences, and divine creation, even the Divine Being
Himself. The Messiah of the seed of David would, to a certain extent,
be the original man (Adam Kadmon) incarnate, part of the Godhead.

This Luryan mysticism dazzled the bewildered brain of the Smyrna youth,
and produced such confusion and giddiness, that he thought he could
easily usher in this spiritual redemption, which would be immediately
followed by that of the body. In what manner this haughty wish to play
the part of a Messiah germinates and breaks forth in enthusiastic
minds, is an impenetrable riddle. Sabbataï Zevi was not the first
to believe himself able to reverse the whole order of the world, by
mystical hocus-pocus, and partly to succeed in the endeavor. Certain
it is that the extravagant notions entertained by Jews and Christians
with regard to the near approach of the time of grace worked upon
Sabbataï's weak brain. That book of falsehoods, the Zohar, declared
that in the year of the world 5408 (1648) the era of redemption would
dawn, and precisely in that year Sabbataï revealed himself to his
train of youthful companions as the Messianic redeemer. It happened
in an apparently insignificant manner, but the mode of revelation
was of great import to the initiated. Sabbataï Zevi uttered the full
four-lettered name of God in Hebrew (Jhwh, the Tetra-grammaton) without
hesitation, although this was strictly prohibited in the Talmud and
by the usage of ages. The Kabbalists attached all sorts of mystical
importance to this prohibition. During the dispersion of Israel, the
perfection of God Himself was to a certain extent destroyed, on account
of the sinfulness of men and the degradation of the Jewish people,
since the Deity could not carry out His moral plan. The higher and
lower worlds were divided from each other by a deep gulf; the four
letters of God's name were parted asunder. With the Messianic period
of redemption the moral order of the world, as God had laid it down in
the plan of the universe, and the perfection and unity of God would be
restored. When Sabbataï Zevi permitted himself to pronounce the name
of God in full, he thereby proclaimed that the time of grace had begun
with him.

However, despite his pious, mystical life, he had too little authority
at the age of two and twenty for the rabbis to allow an infraction of
the existing order of things, which might lead to further inroads.
When Zevi's pretensions became known some years later, the college of
rabbis, at their head his teacher Joseph Eskapha, laid him and his
followers under a ban. Many bickerings ensued in the community, the
particulars of which are not known. Finally he and his disciples were
banished from Smyrna (about 1651). The Messianic delusion appeared
to have been extinguished, but it smouldered on, and broke out
again, about fifteen years later, in a bright, consuming flame. This
persecution, far from terrifying Sabbataï Zevi, gave him a sense of
his dignity. The idea of a suffering Messiah had been transplanted from
Christianity to Judaism; it was the accepted view that humiliation was
the precursor of the Messiah's exaltation and glorification. Sabbataï
believed in himself, and his disciples, amongst them Moses Pinheiro,
a man of mature age, highly esteemed for scientific acquirements,
shared the belief with tenacity. If the Messiah had been obliged to beg
his way through the world, his illusion would not have long held its
ground. But Sabbataï was richly provided with means, he could maintain
his independence and his presumed dignity, and win adherents to his
cause. At first, however, he kept himself in concealment, did not say
much about his Messiahship, and thereby escaped ridicule. Whither he
betook himself after his banishment from his native city is not quite
certain; probably to the Turkish capital, where dwelt the largest
Jewish community, in which were so many clean and unclean elements,
that everyone could find companions for plans and adventures. Here he
made the acquaintance of a preacher, Abraham Yachini, who confirmed
him in his delusion. Yachini stood in high repute on account of his
talent as a preacher. He was a needy and artful fellow, and made
neat transcriptions for a Dutch Christian, who dabbled in Oriental
literature. From selfish motives or delight in mystification, and to
confirm Sabbataï Zevi in his delusion, Yachini palmed off upon him an
apocryphal manuscript in archaic characters, which he alleged bore
ancient testimony to Sabbataï's Messiahship.

    "I, Abraham, was shut up for forty years in a cave, and
    wondered that the time of miracles did not make its appearance.
    Then a voice replied to me, 'A son shall be born in the year of
    the world 5386 (1626), and be called Sabbataï. He shall quell
    the great dragon: he is the true Messiah, and shall wage war
    without weapons.'"

This document, which the young fanatic himself appears to have
taken for a genuine revelation, became later on the source of many
mystifications and impostures. However, it appeared inadvisable to
the dupe and the deceiver that he should appear in Constantinople.
Salonica, which had always paid homage to mysticism, seemed a more
suitable field for Kabbalistic extravagances. Here, therefore, Sabbataï
resided for some time, gained adherents, and came forward with greater
boldness. Here he enacted one of his favorite scenes, by which he
afterwards worked upon the imagination of the Kabbalists. He prepared a
solemn festival, invited his friends, sent for the sacred book (Torah),
and intimated to those present, that he was about to celebrate his
mystical marriage with it. In the language of the Kabbala this meant
that the Torah, the daughter of heaven, was to be united indissolubly
with the Messiah, the son of heaven, or En-Sof. This scene displeased
the discreet rabbis of Salonica, and they decreed his banishment.
Thence he betook himself to the Morea, probably to relatives and
friends of his father, and resided for some time at Athens, where
at that time there was a Jewish community. When the Jews of this
region heard of the sentence pronounced upon him, they gave him no
encouragement. This opposition, far from discouraging him, only served
to make him bolder; he probably regarded his sufferings as necessary
for the glorification of the Messiah.

At last, after long wandering, a prospect of realizing his dream
presented itself at Cairo. In the Egyptian capital there was a Jewish
mint-master and tax-farmer, with the title of Saraph-Bashi, similar
to the Alabarchs at Alexandria in earlier ages. At that time (after
1656) the office was held by Raphael Joseph Chelebi, of Aleppo, a
man of great wealth and open-handed benevolence, but of unspeakable
credulity, and ineradicable propensity to mysticism and asceticism.
Fifty learned Talmudists and Kabbalists were supported by him, and
dined at his table. Everyone who sought his compassion found help and
relief in his need. While riding in the royal chariot, and appearing
in splendid robes, he wore sackcloth underneath, fasted and bathed
much, and frequently at night scourged himself. Samuel Vital, a son of
Chayim Calabrese, superintended his constant penances according to the
Kabbalistic precepts of Lurya (Tikkun Lurya). These were intended, as
has been stated, to hasten the coming of the Messiah. To be in Cairo
and not to make Raphael Joseph's acquaintance was an inconceivable
course for a Kabbalist. Sabbataï Zevi thus came into his circle, and
won his confidence the sooner, as, owing to his independent position,
he did not desire anything of him. He appears to have partially
revealed his Messianic plans to Raphael. He had grown older, maturer,
and wiser, and knew how to make men amenable to his wishes. The
Apocalyptic year, 1666, was drawing near, and it was important to use
the auspicious moment.

He betook himself to Jerusalem, perhaps under the delusion that in
the Holy Land a miracle would take place to confirm his greatness.
The community at Jerusalem was at that time in every way poor and
wretched. Besides being ground down by the oppressions and extortions
of Turkish officials, it suffered because the supplies from Europe
were exhausted on account of the constant massacres of the Jews in
Poland. The consequence was that the best men emigrated, leaving the
government of the community to thorough-going Kabbalists, devoted
adherents of Lurya and Vital, or to a licentious set, who followed
the impulses of bare-faced selfishness. There were at that time very
few men of repute and authority in Jerusalem. A Marrano physician
named Jacob Zemach appears to have stood at their head. He had leapt,
so to speak, in one bound from a Portuguese church into the nest of
Kabbalists at Safet, and there, as later at Jerusalem, had become an
unconscious tool for the mystifications practiced by Vital. Abraham
Amigo, a Talmudist of the second or third rank, had similar aims. A man
of some importance, to be sure, was Jacob Chages (1620-1674), who had
migrated from Italy to Jerusalem, and who wrote Spanish well. Chages,
however, had no official position, but lived the life of a recluse in
an academy, which two brothers named Vega, of Leghorn, had founded for
him. The thoughtless credulity of the people of Jerusalem of that time
is instanced by the gross deception practiced upon them by Baruch Gad,
one of their alms-collecting emissaries, which they, the learned and
the unlearned, not only credited, but swore to as true. Baruch Gad had
gone on a begging journey to Persia, where he pretended that he had
experienced many adventures, and had been saved by a Jew of the tribe
of Naphtali, who had given him a Kabbalistic letter from one of the
"Sons of Moses" at the miraculous river Sabbation. It contained much
about the riches, splendor, and daily miracles of the Sons of Moses,
and said that they were momentarily awaiting the commencement of the
Messianic epoch as a signal for coming forth. This story, certified
by a circular, was brought by Baruch Gad to Jerusalem, where it found
unquestioning credence. When the community of Jerusalem had fallen
into great want in consequence of the Cossack massacre, ten so-called
rabbis, Jacob Zemach at their head, sent to Reggio to their envoy
Nathan Spira, of Jerusalem, a copy of this document from the Sons of
Moses, which was kept in careful custody. It was to serve as a bait to
draw more abundant alms.

The miracle which Sabbataï Zevi was expecting for himself in the
Holy City was present in the credulity and mania for miracles on the
part of the people of Jerusalem, who were inclined, like the lowest
savages, to accept any absurd message as a divine revelation, if only
it was brought before them in the right manner. At first the Smyrna
enthusiast kept himself quiet, and gave no offense. He lived according
to the precepts of the Kabbala, imposed the severest mortifications
on himself, and often stayed by the graves of pious men in order to
draw down their spirits. Thereby, aided by his pleasing, attractive,
and reverential behavior and taciturn manner, he gradually gathered
round him a circle of adherents who had blind faith in him. One of his
devoted followers related with credulous simplicity, that Sabbataï
Zevi shed floods of tears in prayer. He sang Psalms the whole night
with his melodious voice, while pacing the room now with short, now
with long strides. His whole conduct was out of the ordinary groove.
He was also wont to sing coarse love songs in Spanish, with a mystical
meaning, about the emperor's fair daughter Melisselda, with her coral
lips and milk-white skin, as she rose out of the bath. Sabbataï used
another means to win hearts. When he showed himself in the streets
he distributed sweet-meats of all sorts to the children, who in
consequence ran after him, and he thus gained the favor of their

An incident brought his eccentric ideas nearer their realization. The
community at Jerusalem was sentenced by one of the pachas or some minor
official to one of those oppressive exactions which frequently carried
torture or death in their train. The impoverished members rested their
hopes solely on Raphael Joseph Chelebi at Cairo, known to have the
means and inclination to succor his afflicted brethren, especially the
saints of Jerusalem. A messenger was to be sent to him, and Sabbataï
Zevi was universally regarded as the most fitting, particularly as he
was a favorite with the Saraph-Bashi. He undertook this task willingly,
because he hoped to get the opportunity to play the part of saviour
of the Holy City. His worshipers date from this journey to Egypt the
beginning of his miraculous power, and assert that he accomplished
many miracles at sea. Sabbataï however traveled not by water, but by
land, by way of Hebron and Gaza, probably joining a caravan through
the desert. He excited so much attention that all the Jews of Hebron,
in order to observe him, refrained from sleep during the night of his
stay. Arrived at Cairo, he immediately received from Chelebi the sum
required for the ransom of the community at Jerusalem, and, besides, an
extraordinarily favorable opportunity presented itself to confirm his
Messianic dreams.

During the massacre of the Jews in Poland by Chmielnicki, a Jewish
orphan girl of about six was found by Christians, and put into a
nunnery. Her parents were dead, a brother had been driven to Amsterdam,
the whole community broken up and put to flight, and no one troubled
himself about the forsaken child, so that the nuns of the convent
regarded the foundling as a soul brought to them and gave her a
Christian conventual education. The impressions received in the house
of her parents were so lively, that Christianity found no entrance into
her heart; she remained faithful to Judaism. Nevertheless, her soul
was nourished by fantastic dreams induced by her surroundings, and her
thoughts took an eccentric direction. She developed into a lovely girl,
and longed to escape from the cloister. One day she was found by Jews,
who had again settled in the place, in the Jewish cemetery. Astonished
at finding a beautiful girl of sixteen lightly clad in such a position,
they questioned her, and received answer that she was of Jewish
extraction, and had been brought up in a convent. The night before, she
said, she had been bodily seized by her father's ghost, and carried out
of bed to the cemetery. In support of her statement, she showed the
women nail-marks on her body, which were said to come from her father's
hands. She appears to have learnt in the convent the art of producing
scars on her body. The Jews thought it dangerous to keep a fugitive
from the convent in their midst, and sent her to Amsterdam. There she
found her brother. Eccentric by nature and excited by the change in her
fortunes, she continually repeated the words, that she was destined to
be the wife of the Messiah, who was soon to appear. After she had lived
some years in Amsterdam under the name of Sarah, she came--it is not
known for what purpose--by way of Frankfort-on-the-Main to Leghorn.
There, as credible witnesses aver, she put her charms to immoral use,
yet continued to maintain that she was dedicated to the Messiah, and
could contract no other marriage. The strange history of this Polish
girl circulated amongst the Jews, and penetrated even to Cairo.
Sabbataï Zevi, who heard of it, gave out that a Polish-Jewish maiden
had been promised to him in a dream as his spiritual wife. He sent a
messenger to Leghorn, and had Sarah brought to Cairo.

By her fantastical, free, self-confident behavior and by her beauty,
Sarah made a peculiar impression upon Sabbataï and his companions. He
himself was firmly convinced of his Messiahship. To Sabbataï and his
friends the immoral life of this Polish adventuress was not unknown.
This also was said to be a Messianic dispensation; he had been
directed, like the prophet Hosea, to marry an unchaste wife. No one was
so happy as Raphael Joseph Chelebi, because at his house the Messiah
met his bride, and was married. He placed his wealth at the disposal
of Sabbataï Zevi, and became his most influential follower. The warm
adhesion of so dignified, respected, and powerful a man brought many
believers to Sabbataï. It was rightly said, that he had come to Egypt
as a messenger, and returned as the Messiah. For, from this second
residence at Cairo dates his public career. Sarah, also, the Messiah's
fair bride, brought him many disciples. Through her a romantic,
licentious element entered into the fantastic career of the Smyrna
Messiah. Her beauty and free manner of life attracted youths and men
who had no sympathy with the mystical movement. With a larger following
than when he started, Sabbataï returned to Palestine, bringing two
talismans of more effective power than Kabbalistic means--Sarah's
influence and Chelebi's money. At Gaza he found a third confederate,
who helped to smooth his path.

At Jerusalem there lived a man named Elisha Levi, who had migrated
thither from Germany. The Jews of the Holy City dispatched him to
all parts of the world with begging letters. Whilst he was roaming
through northern Africa, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Poland, his son
Nathan Benjamin Levi (1644-1680) was left to himself, or the perverse
education of that time. He developed, in the school of Jacob Chages,
into a youth with superficial knowledge of the Talmud, acquired
Kabbalistic scraps, and obtained facility in the high-sounding, but
hollow, nonsensical Rabbinical style of the period, which concealed
poverty of thought beneath verbiage. The pen was his faithful
instrument, and replaced the gift of speech, in which he had little
facility. This youth was suddenly raised from pressing poverty to
opulence. A rich Portuguese, Samuel Lisbona, who had moved from
Damascus to Gaza, asked Jacob Chages to recommend a husband for his
beautiful, but one-eyed daughter, and he suggested his disciple
Nathan Benjamin. Thus he became connected with a rich house, and in
consequence of his change of fortune, lost all stability, if he had
had any. When Sabbataï Zevi, with a large train of followers, came to
Gaza on his way back from Cairo, posing as the Messiah, and accepted
as such by the crowds gathering about him, Nathan Ghazati (_i.e._, of
Gaza) entered into close relationship with him. In what way their
mutual acquaintance and attachment arose is not explained. Sabbataï's
disciples declared that Nathan had dug up a part of the ancient
writing, wherein Zevi's Messiahship was testified. It is probably
nearer the truth, that Sabbataï, to convince Ghazati of his mission,
palmed off on him the spurious document received from Abraham Yachini.
At any rate Nathan became his most zealous adherent, whether from
conviction or from a desire to play a prominent part, can no longer be
discerned in this story, in which simple faith, self-deception, and
willful imposture, border so close on one another.

After Nathan Ghazati and Sabbataï had become acquainted, the former
a youth of twenty, the latter a man of forty, prophetic revelations
followed close upon one another. Ghazati professed to be the risen
Elijah, who was to pave the way for the Messiah. He gave out that
he had received a call on a certain day (probably the eve of the
Pentecost, 1665), that in a year and a few months the Messiah would
show himself in his glory, would take the sultan captive without arms,
only with music, and establish the dominion of Israel over all the
nations of the earth. The Messianic age was to begin in the year 1666.
This revelation was proclaimed everywhere in writing by the pretended
prophet of Gaza, with the addition of wild fantasies and suggestive
details. He wrote to Raphael Joseph acknowledging the receipt of the
moneys sent by him, and begging him not to lose faith in Sabbataï;
the latter would certainly in a year and some months make the sultan
his subject and lead him about as a captive. The dominion would be
entrusted to Nathan, until he should conquer the other nations without
bloodshed, warring only against Germany, the enemy of the Jews. Then
the Messiah would betake himself to the banks of the river Sabbation,
and there espouse the daughter of the great prophet, Moses, who at
the age of thirteen would be exalted as queen, with Sarah as her
slave. Finally, he would lead back the ten tribes to the Holy Land,
riding upon a lion with a seven-headed dragon in its jaws. The more
exaggerated and absurd Nathan's prophetic vaporings were, the more
credence did they find. A veritable fit of intoxication took possession
of nearly all the Jews of Jerusalem and the neighboring communities.
With a prophet, formerly a shy youth, proclaiming so great a message,
and a Messiah, more profoundly versed in the Kabbala than Chayim Vital,
who could venture to doubt the approach of the time of grace? Those who
shook their heads at this rising imposture were laughed to scorn by the

The rabbinical leaders of the Jerusalem community were unfavorably
struck by this Messianic movement, and sought to stifle it at its
birth. It was sufficient to prejudice them against Sabbataï that he
stood in the foreground, and put them in the shade. He is said to have
distributed the money from Egypt according to his own discretion, and
in the division to have unduly favored his own followers. Jacob Chages
and his college threatened him with the heaviest excommunication if
he should persist in his course. Sabbataï Zevi appears to have cared
little for this, especially as a ban could have no effect if the
community was on his side. Even Moses Galante, the son-in-law of Jacob
Chages, esteemed as an authority in the Holy Land, regarded him with
respect, although, as he afterwards declared, he did not believe in him
unconditionally. Sabbataï Zevi saw clearly that Jerusalem was not the
right place for his plans, as the rabbis would place obstacles in his
way. Nathan Ghazati thereupon proclaimed in an ecstasy that Jerusalem
had lost its importance as the sacred city, and that Gaza had taken
its place. At Smyrna, his native city--an important gathering-place
for Europeans and Asiatics--Sabbataï thought he could obtain
greater success. His rich brothers prepared a good reception for him
by the distribution of money amongst the poor and needy, and Nathan's
extravagant prophetic letters had kindled the imagination of the
people. But before he left Jerusalem, Sabbataï took care to dispatch
active missionaries of a fanatical and fraudulent character, to
predict his Messianic appearance, excite men's minds, and fill them
with his name. Sabbataï Raphael, a beggar and impostor from the Morea,
enlarged in mountebank fashion on the Messiah's greatness; and a German
Kabbalist, Matathias Bloch, did the same in blind simplicity.

Thus it came to pass that when Sabbataï Zevi left Jerusalem--of his
own accord, as he pretended, banished, as others said--he was at once
received in triumph in the large Asiatic community of Aleppo. Still
greater was the homage paid him in his native city (autumn 1665). The
ban pronounced against him was not remembered. He was accompanied by a
man of Jerusalem, Samuel Primo, who became his private secretary, and
one of his most zealous recruiting agents. Samuel Primo understood the
art of investing trifles with an air of official seriousness and by a
flowery style to give world-wide importance to the Messianic imposture.
He alone remained sober in the midst of the ever-increasing fanaticism,
and gave aim and direction to the enthusiasts. Primo appears to have
heralded Sabbataï's fame from conviction; he had a secret plan to
be accomplished through the Messiah. He appears to have made use of
Sabbataï more than to have been employed by him. Sabbataï had tact
enough not to announce himself at once at Smyrna as the Messiah; he
commanded the believing multitude not to speak of it until the proper
time. But this reserve, combined with other circumstances--the ranting
letters of Nathan, the arrival of some men of Jerusalem who brought
him the homage of the Holy City (though without being commissioned
to do so), the severe mortifications which the people inflicted on
themselves, to atone for their sins and become worthy of the coming
of the Messiah--all this worked upon the minds of the multitude, and
they could scarcely wait for the day of his revelation. He had the
Kabbalists on his side through his mystical utterances. At length
Sabbataï Zevi declared himself publicly in the synagogue, with blowing
of horns, as the expected Messiah (New Year, September, or October,
1665), and the multitude shouted to him, "Long live our King, our

The proverb that a prophet is least honored in his own country was for
once belied. The madness of the Jews of Smyrna knew no bounds. Every
sign of honor and enthusiastic love was shown him. It was not joy, but
delirium to feel that the long-expected Messiah had at last appeared,
and in their own community. The delirium seized great and small. Women,
girls, and children fell into raptures, and proclaimed Sabbataï Zevi
in the language of the Zohar as the true redeemer. The word of the
prophet, that God at the end of the world will pour forth his spirit
upon the young, appeared fulfilled. All prepared for a speedy exodus,
the return to the Holy Land. Workmen neglected their business, and
thought only of the approaching kingdom of the Messiah. The confusion
in men's brains showed itself in the way in which the Sabbatians of
Smyrna strove to merit a share in the time of grace. On the one hand,
they subjected themselves to incredible penances--fasted several
days in succession, refrained from sleep for nights, in order that,
by Kabbalistic prayers (Tikkunim) at midnight, they might wipe away
their sins, and bathed in extremely cold weather, even with snow on the
ground. Some buried themselves up to the neck in the soil, and remained
in their damp graves until their limbs were stiff with cold. On the
other hand, they abandoned themselves to the most extravagant delight,
and celebrated festival after festival in honor of the Messiah,
whenever Sabbataï Zevi showed himself--always with a large train
of followers--or walked through the streets singing Psalms, "The
right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord bringeth
victory," or preached in a synagogue, and proved his Messiahship by
Kabbalistic interpretations of Scripture. He showed himself only in
procession in public, waved a fan to cool himself, and whoever was
touched with it was sure of the kingdom of heaven. The delirious joy of
his followers knew no bounds. Every word of his was repeated a thousand
times as the word of God, expounded, exaggerated, and intensified.
All that he did was held as miraculous, published, and believed. The
madness went so far that his adherents in Smyrna and elsewhere, as at
Salonica, that Kabbalist hot-bed of old, married their children of
twelve, ten, and even younger, to one another--seven hundred couples
in all--that, according to Kabbalistic ideas, they might cause the
souls not yet born to enter into life, and thereby remove the last
obstacle to the commencement of the time of grace.

The activity of Sabbataï Zevi in electrifying the minds of simple
believers, now by public pomp and pageantry, now by silent retirement,
was supplemented by Sarah, his wife, who by her loose conduct worked on
the passions of the male population. The bonds of chastity, drawn much
tighter among Eastern Jews than in Europe, were broken. The assembling
of persons of both sexes in great multitudes, hitherto unheard of,
was a slight innovation. In Messianic transports of delight men and
women danced with one another as if mad, and in mystical fervor many
excesses are said to have been committed. The voice of censure and
caution was gradually silenced; all were drawn into the vortex, and
the unbelievers were rendered harmless. The rabbi Aaron de la Papa
(died 1674), an aged and respectable man, who at first spoke against
this Messianic madness, and pronounced the ban against its originator,
together with other rabbis, was publicly reviled in a sermon by
Sabbataï, removed from office, and obliged to leave Smyrna.

Most unworthy was the behavior of the rabbi Chayim Benvenisti
(1603-1673), a very considerable authority on the Talmud, and of
astonishing learning, who, because he was a literary opponent of De
la Papa, not only suffered the latter's removal from office, but
allowed himself to be appointed in his place by Sabbataï. Though at
first harshly disposed towards the new Messiah, he became a believer,
and led the multitude by his authority. The latter were instigated
by Sabbataï to bloodthirsty fanaticism. Because a noble, rich, and
respected man in Smyrna, Chayim Penya, who had liberally supported
Chayim Benvenisti, opposed the widespread delusion with obstinate
incredulity, he was suddenly attacked in the synagogue, persecuted,
and nearly torn to pieces by the raging multitude. Sabbataï Zevi, the
pretended incarnation of piety, commanded the synagogue to be broken
open and the vile heretic to be seized. But when Penya's daughters,
likewise attacked by the madness, fell into raptures, and prophesied,
the father had no choice but to put a good face upon the wretched
business. He also assumed the air of a zealous adherent. After Penya's
subjugation Sabbataï Zevi became sole ruler in the community, and could
lead the Jewish population at will for good or for evil. In this humor
which lasted for some months, the Jews of Smyrna feared their tyrants,
the Turkish cadis, very little; if they offered to check the prevailing
tendency, they were induced by rich presents to remain inactive.

These events in the Jews' quarter at Smyrna made a great sensation
in ever-widening circles. The neighboring communities of Asia Minor,
many members of which had betaken themselves to Smyrna, and witnessing
the scenes enacted in that town, brought home exaggerated accounts of
the Messiah's power of attraction and of working miracles, were swept
into the same vortex. Sabbataï's private secretary, Samuel Primo,
took care that reports of the fame and doings of the Messiah should
reach Jews abroad. Nathan Ghazati sent circulars from Palestine,
while the itinerant prophets, Sabbataï Raphael and Matathias Bloch,
filled the ears of their auditors with the most marvelous accounts
of the new redeemer. Christians also helped to spread the story. The
residents, the clerks of English and Dutch mercantile houses, and
the evangelical ministers, reported the extraordinary occurrences in
Smyrna, and though they scoffed at the folly of the Jews, could not
withhold half-credulous sympathy. Did they not see with their own eyes
the ecstasies, and hear with their own ears the predictions, of the
prophets and prophetesses of Sabbataï Zevi, the true redeemer? On the
exchanges in Europe men spoke of him as a remarkable personage, and
eagerly awaited news from Smyrna or Constantinople. At first the Jews
were dazed by the reports that suddenly burst upon them. Was the long
cherished hope, that one day the oppression and shame of Israel would
be removed, and that he would return in glory to his home, at length to
be realized? No wonder that nearly everywhere scenes similar to those
in Smyrna were repeating themselves, that men's minds were filled with
credulity, accepting mere rumors as accredited facts, or that wild
excitement, ascetic living, and almsgiving to the needy, by way of
preparation for the time of the Messiah, were followed here and there
by prophetic ecstasies. Not only the senseless multitude, but nearly
all the rabbis, and even men of culture and philosophical judgment,
fell a prey to this credulity.

At that time not a single man of weight and importance recognized that
the primary source of all these phenomena lay in the Kabbala and the
Zohar. Jacob Sasportas, originally from Africa, had lived in Amsterdam
and London and, at this time, was in Hamburg. He was born about 1620,
and died 1698. A man of courage and keen penetration, whose word had
weight through his Talmudical learning, Sasportas from the first
combated this Messianic rage with passionate warmth. He was unwearied
in sending letter after letter to the various communities and their
guides in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to unmask the gross deceptions
practiced, and to warn against the sad consequences. But even he was
entangled in the snares of the Kabbala, and adopted its principles.
On the ground of this spurious philosophy, thoroughgoing enthusiasts
were more in the right than half-hearted adherents. Spinoza, who might
have scattered this thick mist with his luminous ideas, was not only
estranged from Judaism and his race, but even hostile to them, and
regarded the prevailing perplexities with indifference or malice.

The accounts of Sabbataï Zevi and the Messianic excitement either came
direct, or in a roundabout way by Alexandria, to Venice, Leghorn, and
other Italian cities.

Venice was led by the bigoted Kabbalist Moses Zacut, Spinoza's very
uncongenial fellow-student, who had formed the design of migrating
from Amsterdam through Poland to Palestine, but stopped short in
Venice. Far from opposing the delusion of the multitude, he encouraged
it, as did the rabbinate of Venice. The news from Smyrna had most
striking effect upon the great and the lesser Jerusalem of the North.
The prophet of Gaza, who was not devoid of sober calculation, had
directed his propagandist circulars to the most considerable and the
richest communities--Amsterdam and Hamburg. These entered into close
relationship with the new Messianic movement. The Jews of Amsterdam and
Hamburg received confirmation of the extraordinary events at Smyrna
from trustworthy Christians, many of whom were sincerely rejoiced
thereat. Even Heinrich Oldenburg, a distinguished German savant in
London, wrote to his friend Spinoza (December, 1665):--

    "All the world here is talking of a rumor of the return of the
    Israelites, dispersed for more than two thousand years, to
    their own country. Few believe it, but many wish it.... Should
    the news be confirmed, it may bring about a revolution in all

The number of believers in Amsterdam increased daily among the
Portuguese no less than among the Germans, and numbers of educated
people set the example; the rabbis Isaac Aboab and Raphael Moses
D'Aguilar, Spinoza's fellow-student Isaac Naar, and Abraham Pereira,
one of the capitalists of Amsterdam and a writer on morals in Spanish,
all became believers. Even the semi-Spinozist Dionysius Musaphia
became a zealous adherent of the new Messiah. In Amsterdam devotion
to the new faith expressed itself in contradictory ways--by noisy
music and dancing in the houses of prayer, and by gloomy, monkish
self-mortification. The printing presses could not supply enough copies
of special prayer-books in Hebrew, Portuguese and Spanish, for the
multitude of believers. In these books penances and formulas were given
by which men hoped to become partakers in the kingdom of the Messiah.
Many Sabbatian prayer-books (Tikkunim) printed Sabbataï's likeness
together with that of King David, also the emblems of his dominion, and
select sentences from the Bible. In confident expectation of speedy
return to the Holy Land, the elders of one synagogue introduced the
custom of pronouncing the priestly blessing every Sabbath.

At Hamburg, the Jews went to still greater lengths of folly, because
they wished to make a demonstration against the bigoted Christians,
who in many ways tormented them with vexatious restrictions, and when
possible compelled them to listen to Christian sermons. Whoever entered
the synagogue, and saw the Jewish worshipers hop, jump, and dance
about with the roll of the Law in their arms, serious, respectable men
withal, of Spanish stateliness, had to take them for madmen. In fact,
a mental disease prevailed, which made men childish; even the most
distinguished in the community succumbed to it.

Manoel Texeira, also called Isaac Señor Texeira, was born about 1630,
and died about 1695. Some months before the death of his father,
Diego Texeira, a Marrano nobleman who had emigrated from Portugal
and settled at Hamburg, Manoel became resident minister, banker, and
confidant of Christina, former queen of Sweden. She valued him on
account of his honesty, his noble bearing, and his shrewdness. She
exchanged letters with him on important affairs, conferred with him
on the political interests of Europe, and credited him with deep,
statesmanlike views. During her residence at Hamburg she took up
her abode in Manoel Texeira's house, to the vexation of the local
ecclesiastical authorities--who were hostile to the Jews--and
remained quite unconcerned, although the Protestant preachers censured
her severely from the pulpits. Men of the highest rank resorted to
Texeira's house, and played with him for high stakes. This Jewish
cavalier also belonged to Sabbataï's adherents, and joined in the
absurd dances; as also the skillful and famous physician Bendito
de Castro (Baruch Nehemiah), now advanced in years, for a time the
physician of the queen during her residence in Hamburg. De Castro was
at that time director of the Hamburg community, and by his order the
Messianic follies were practiced in the synagogue. Jacob Sasportas, who
because of the outbreak of the plague in London at that time resided
in Hamburg, used serious arguments and satire against this Messianic
delusion; but he could not make his voice heard, and only just escaped
rough handling by the Sabbatians. The community recently established in
London in the reign of Charles II, which had elected Jacob Sasportas
as chief rabbi, was no less possessed with this craze. It derived
additional encouragement from contact with Christian enthusiasts
who hoped to bring about the millennium. Curious reports flew from
mouth to mouth. It was said, that in the north of Scotland a ship had
appeared, with silken sails and ropes, manned by sailors who spoke
Hebrew. The flag bore the inscription, "The Twelve Tribes or Families
of Israel." Believers living in London in English fashion offered
wagers at the odds of ten to one that Sabbataï would be anointed king
at Jerusalem within two years, and drew formal bills of exchange upon
the issue. Wherever Jews dwelt, news of the Kabbalistic Messiah of
Smyrna penetrated, and everywhere produced wild excitement. The little
community of Avignon, which was not treated in the mildest manner by
the papal officers, prepared to emigrate to the kingdom of Judah in the
spring of the year 1666.

If Sabbataï Zevi had not hitherto firmly believed in himself and his
dignity, this homage from nearly the whole Jewish race must have
awakened conviction. Every day advices, messengers, and deputations
came pouring in, greeting him in most flattering terms as king of the
Jews, placing life and property at his disposal, and overwhelming
him with gifts. Had he been a man of resolute determination and
strength of will, he might have obtained results of importance with
this genuine enthusiasm and willing devotion of his believers. Even
Spinoza entertained the possibility, with this favorable opportunity
and the mutability of human things, that the Jews might re-establish
their kingdom, and again be the chosen of God. But Sabbataï Zevi was
satisfied with the savor of incense. He cherished no great design, or
rather, he lived in the delusion that men's expectations would fulfill
themselves of their own accord by a miracle. Samuel Primo and some of
his confidants appear, however, to have followed a fixed plan, namely,
to modify the Rabbinical system, or even to abolish it. That was in
reality implied in the reign of the Messiah. The fundamental conception
of the Zohar, the Bible of the Kabbalists, is that in the time of
grace, in the world of order (Olam ha-Tikkun), the laws of Judaism, the
regulations concerning lawful and forbidden things, would completely
lose their significance. Now this time, the Sabbatians thought, had
already begun; consequently, the minute ritualistic code of the
Shulchan Aruch ought no longer to be held binding. Whether Sabbataï
himself drew this conclusion, is doubtful. But some of his trusted
adherents gave this theory prominence. A certain bitterness towards the
Talmud and the Talmudic method of teaching prevailed in this circle.
The Sabbatian mystics felt themselves confined by the close meshes of
the Rabbinical network, and sought to disentangle it loop by loop. They
set up a new deity, substituting a man-god for the God of Israel. In
their wanton extravagance the Kabbalists had so entirely changed the
conception of the deity, that it had dwindled away into nothing. On the
other hand, they had so exalted and magnified the Messiah, that he was
close to God. The Sabbatians, or one of them (Samuel Primo?), built
on this foundation. From the Divine bosom (the Ancient of Days), they
said, a new divine personage had sprung, capable of restoring the order
in the world intended in the original plan of Divine Perfection. This
new person was the Holy King (Malka Kadisha), the Messiah, the Primal
Man (Adam Kadmon), who would destroy evil, sin, and corruption, and
cause the dried-up streams of grace to flow again. He, the holy king,
the Messiah, is the true God, the redeemer and saviour of the world,
the God of Israel; to him alone should prayers be addressed. The Holy
King, or Messiah, combines two natures--one male, the other female;
he can do more on account of his higher wisdom than the Creator of the
world. Samuel Primo, who dispatched circulars and ordinances in the
name of the Messianic king, often used the signature, "I, the Lord,
your God, Sabbataï Zevi." Whether the Smyrna fanatic authorized such
blasphemous presumptuousness cannot be decided, any more than whether
in his heart he considered the Jewish law null and void. For, although
some Sabbatians, who uttered these absurdities, pretended to have
heard them from his own lips, other disciples asserted that he was an
adherent of traditional Judaism.

The truth probably is that Sabbataï Zevi, absorbed in idle ruminating,
accepted everything which the more energetic among his followers
taught or suggested. They began the dissolution of Judaism by the
transformation of the fast of the tenth of Tebeth (Asara be-Tebeth)
into a day of rejoicing. Samuel Primo, in the name of his divinity,
directed a circular to the whole of Israel in semi-official form:

    "The first-begotten Son of God, Sabbataï Zevi, Messiah and
    Redeemer of the people of Israel, to all the sons of Israel,
    Peace! Since ye have been deemed worthy to behold the great
    day and the fulfillment of God's word by the prophets, your
    lament and sorrow must be changed into joy, and your fasting
    into merriment, for ye shall weep no more. Rejoice with song
    and melody, and change the day formerly spent in sadness and
    sorrow, into a day of jubilee, because I have appeared."

So firmly rooted in men's minds was faith in Sabbataï Zevi, that the
communities which the letter reached in time discontinued this fast,
although they believed that they could enter into the kingdom of the
Messiah only by strict abstinence. The staunch orthodox party, however,
was shocked at this innovation. They could not conceive the Messiah
as other than a pious rabbi, who, if possible, would invent fresh
burdens. A thousand times had they read in the Zohar, and repeated
to one another, that in the time of the Messiah the days of mourning
would be changed into days of feasting, and the Law in general would
be no longer binding; but when words were changed into deeds, horror
seized them. Those rabbis who before had regarded the movement half
incredulously, or had not interfered with the penances and deeds of
active benevolence to which many of the Sabbatians had felt prompted,
thereby giving silent assent, now raised their voice against the
law-destroying Messiahship. There began to be formed in every large
community a small party of unbelievers (Kofrim), chiefly men learned
in the Talmud, who desired to guard the established religion against
attacks and disruption.

Rabbinical Judaism and the Kabbala, hitherto in close confederation,
began to be at variance with each other; this doubtful ally showing
herself at last in her true form as the enemy of Rabbinism. But this
sobering discovery, that the Kabbala was a serpent nursed into life
by the rabbis themselves, was recognized only by a few. They still
remained true to her, imputing the growing hostility to the Shulchan
Aruch to Sabbataï and his aiders and abettors. It was too late, their
voices were drowned in shouts of joy. Solomon Algazi, and some members
of the Smyrna rabbinate who shared his opinions, tried to oppose the
abolition of the fast, but were nearly stoned to death by the multitude
of believers, and were obliged, like Aaron de la Papa, to leave the
city in haste.

But the Messiah was at last forced to tear himself out of his fool's
paradise and the atmosphere of incense in Smyrna, in order to
accomplish his work in the Turkish capital--either because his
followers compelled him to put his light, not under a bushel, but upon
it, that the world at large might see it, or because the cadi could
no longer endure the mad behavior of the Jews, and did not wish to
bear the sole responsibility. It is said that the cadi gave Sabbataï
Zevi three days to go to Constantinople and appear before the highest
Turkish authorities. In his delusion, Zevi perhaps believed that a
miracle would fulfill the prophecies of Nathan Ghazati and other
prophets, that he would easily be able to take the crown from the
sultan. He prepared for his journey. Before he left Smyrna, he divided
the world among his six-and-twenty faithful ones, and called them kings
and princes. His brothers, Elijah and Joseph Zevi, received the lion's
share; the former was named king of kings, the latter king of the kings
of Judah. To his other faithful followers he disclosed, in Kabbalistic
language, which soul of the former kings of Judah or Israel dwelt in
each of their bodies, that is, had passed into them by transmigration.
Among the better known names were those of the companion of his youth,
Isaac Silveira, and Abraham Yachini at Constantinople, who had imparted
to him the art of mysticism. Raphael Joseph Chelebi could least of all
be passed over; he had been the first firm supporter of the Messiah,
and was called King Joash. A Marrano physician, who had escaped from
Portugal, and was his devoted adherent, received the crown of Portugal.
Even his former opponent Chayim Penya received a kingdom of his own. A
beggar, Abraham Rubio of Smyrna, was likewise raised to a throne, under
the name of Josiah, and was so firmly convinced of his approaching
sovereignty that he refused large sums for his imaginary kingdom.

Sabbataï Zevi appears purposely to have started on his Messianic
journey to Constantinople exactly at the beginning of the mystic year
1666. He was accompanied by some of his followers, his secretary Samuel
Primo being in his train. He had announced the day of his arrival at
Constantinople, but circumstances proved false to him. The ship in
which he sailed had to contend with bad weather, and the voyage was
prolonged by weeks. Since the sea did not devour him, the Sabbatians
composed marvelous stories describing how the storm and the waves had
obeyed the Messiah. At some place on the coast of the Dardanelles the
passengers of the weather-beaten vessel were obliged to land, and there
Sabbataï was arrested by Turkish officers, sent to take him prisoner.
The grand vizir, Ahmed Coprili, had heard of the excitement of the
Jews in Smyrna, and desired to suppress it. The officers had strict
orders to bring the pretended redeemer in fetters to the capital, and
therefore hastened to meet the ship by which he came. According to
orders, they put him in fetters, and brought him to a small town in
the neighborhood of Constantinople, because the eve of the Sabbath was
near. Informed by a messenger of his arrival at Cheknese Kutschuk, his
followers hastened from the capital to see him, but found him in a
pitiable plight and in chains. The money which they brought with them
procured him some alleviation, and on the following Sunday (February,
1666), he was brought by sea to Constantinople--but in how different
a manner to what he and his believers had anticipated! However, his
coming caused excitement. At the landing-place there was such a crowd
of Jews and Turks who desired to see the Messiah, that the police were
obliged to superintend the disembarkation. An under-pasha commissioned
to receive him welcomed the man-god with a vigorous box on the ear.
Sabbataï Zevi is said, however, to have wisely turned the other cheek
to the blow. Since he could not play the part of the triumphant, he
at least wished to play that of the suffering Messiah with good grace.
When brought before the deputy-vizir (Kaimakam), Mustapha Pasha, he did
not stand the first test brilliantly. Asked what his intentions were,
and why he had roused the Jews to such a pitch of excitement, Sabbataï
is said to have answered that he was nothing more than a Jewish
Chacham, come from Jerusalem to the capital to collect alms; he could
not help it if the Jews testified so much devotion to him. Mustapha
thereupon sent him to a prison in which insolvent Jewish debtors were

Far from being disappointed at this treatment, his followers in
Constantinople persisted in their delusion. For some days they kept
quietly at home, because the street boys mocked them by shouting,
"Is he coming? is he coming?" (Gheldi mi, Gheldi mi.) But they soon
began again to assert that he was the true Messiah, and that the
sufferings which he had encountered were necessary, a condition to
his glorification. The prophets continued to proclaim the speedy
redemption of Sabbataï and of all Israel. A Turkish dervish filled the
streets of Constantinople with prophecies of the Messiah, whose enemies
said that Sabbataï's followers had bribed him. Thousands crowded
daily to Sabbataï's place of confinement merely to catch a glimpse
of him. English merchants whose claims were not satisfied by their
Jewish debtors applied to the Messiah. An order in his handwriting,
admonishing defaulters to do justice to their creditors, as otherwise
they would have no share in his joy and glory, had the best effect.
Samuel Primo took care that most fabulous accounts should reach the
Jews of Smyrna and those at a distance, of the reverence paid the
Messiah by the Turkish authorities. At heart, he wrote, they were all
convinced of his dignity. The expectations of the Jews were raised to
a still higher pitch, and the most exaggerated hopes fostered to a
greater degree. It was looked upon as a palpable miracle that summary
Turkish justice allowed him, the rebellious Jew, to live. Did not
this act of mercy prove that he was feared? The Turkish government in
fact seems to have stood in awe of the Jewish Messiah. The Cretan war
was impending, which demanded all the energy of the half-exhausted
Turkish empire. The prudent grand vizir, Ahmed Coprili, did not like
to sentence him to death, thus making a fresh martyr, and causing a
desperate riot among the Jews. Even the Turks, charmed by Sabbataï's
manner, and deceived by extraordinary miraculous manifestations,
especially by the prophecies of women and children, joined the ranks
of his worshipers. It seemed to Coprili equally dangerous to leave
Sabbataï, during his absence at the war, in Constantinople, where
he might easily add fuel to the ever-increasing excitement in the
capital. He therefore commanded, after Sabbataï had been imprisoned
in Constantinople for two months--from the beginning of February
to April 17--that he be taken to the castle of the Dardanelles at
Abydos, where state-prisoners were wont to be kept in custody. It was
a mild confinement; some of his friends, among them Samuel Primo, were
allowed to accompany him thither. The Sabbatians called this fortress
by a mystical name, the Tower of Strength (Migdal Oz).

If Sabbataï Zevi had doubted himself for a moment, his courage rose
through his change of abode, the respectful clemency shown him by
the divan, and the steady and increasing devotion of the Jews. He
felt himself the Messiah again. On his arrival at the castle of the
Dardanelles on April 19, the day of preparation for the Passover,
he slew a Paschal lamb for himself and his followers, and ate it
with the fat, which is forbidden by the laws of the Talmud. He is
said, while doing so, to have used a blessing which implied that the
Mosaic, Talmudic, and Rabbinical law was abrogated--"Blessed be
God, who hath restored again that which was forbidden." At Abydos he
held regular court with the large sums of money which his brothers
and his rich adherents sent him with lavish hand. His wife Sarah, who
was allowed to remain with him, demeaned herself as the Messianic
queen, and bewitched the multitude by her charms. From the Turkish
capital a number of ships conveyed his followers to the castle of the
Dardanelles. The fare on vessels rose in consequence daily. From other
countries and continents, too, crowds of Jews streamed to the place of
his captivity, in the hope to be deemed worthy of beholding him. The
governor of the castle reaped advantage thereby, for he charged the
visitors entrance money, and raised it to fifteen or thirty marks a
head. Even the inhabitants of the place profited, because they could
earn high prices for board and lodging. A veritable shower of gold
poured into Abydos. The impression which these facts, industriously
circulated and exaggerated, made on the Jews in Europe, Asia, and
Africa, and the effect which they produced, are indescribable. With
few exceptions all were convinced of Sabbataï's Messiahship, and of a
speedy redemption, in two years at the latest. They argued that he had
had the courage to go to the Turkish capital, although he had openly
proclaimed the dethronement of the sultan, yet had not forfeited his
life, but had been left in a sort of mock imprisonment. What more was
needed to confirm the predictions of prophets of ancient and modern
times? The Jews accordingly prepared seriously to return to their
original home. In Hungary they began to unroof their houses. In large
commercial cities, where Jews took the lead in wholesale business, such
as Amsterdam, Leghorn, and Hamburg, stagnation of trade ensued. In
almost all synagogues his initials, S and Z, were posted up with more
or less adornment. Almost everywhere a prayer for him was inserted in
the following form: "Bless our Lord and King, the holy and righteous
Sabbataï Zevi, the Messiah of the God of Jacob." In Europe the eyes
of all communities were directed to Amsterdam, the representatives of
which adhered to the movement most enthusiastically. Every post-day
which brought fresh letters was a holiday for them. The Amsterdam Jews
showed their joy openly, and were afraid neither of the Christian
population nor of the magistrates. Isaac Naar, of Amsterdam, and the
rich Abraham Pereira, prepared themselves for a journey to the Messiah,
and the former ironically announced it to the unbelieving Jacob
Sasportas. The Hamburg community always imitated that of Amsterdam,
or went beyond it. The council introduced the custom of praying for
Sabbataï Zevi, not only on Saturday, but also on Monday and Thursday.
The unbelievers were compelled to remain in the synagogue and join in
the prayer with a loud Amen. And all this was done at the suggestion
of the educated physician Bendito de Castro. The believers went so
far as to threaten their opponents if they ventured to utter a word
of censure against Sabbataï. At Venice, on the Sabbath, a quarrel
broke out between the Sabbatians and their opponents, and one of the
latter nearly lost his life. When Sabbataï was asked how the Kofrim
(unbelievers) should be dealt with, he, or Samuel Primo, answered
that they might be put to death without ado, even on the Sabbath;
the executors of such punishment were sure to enjoy eternal bliss. A
learned Talmudist at Buda, Jacob Ashkenazi of Wilna, whose son and
grandson became zealous persecutors of the Sabbatians, was guided by
the decision, and declared a member of the community worthy of death,
because he would not say the blessing for Sabbataï Zevi. In Moravia
(at Nikolsburg) there were such violent dissensions and tumults in
consequence of the craze about the Messiah, that the governor of the
province was obliged to post up notices to calm men's minds. At Salee,
in the north-western part of Africa, the ruling Emir Gailan (Gailand)
ordered a persecution of the Jews, because they too openly displayed
the hope of their coming redemption.

Many Christians shared the delusive faith in the new Messiah, and the
weekly tidings from the East concerning Sabbataï Zevi and his doings
made an overwhelming impression on them. At Hamburg, for example, pious
Protestants betook themselves to the proselytizing preacher Esdras
Edzard, and asked him what was to be done:

    "We have certain accounts, not only from Jews, but also from
    our Christian correspondents at Smyrna, Aleppo, Constantinople,
    and other places in Turkey, that the new Messiah of the Jews
    does many miracles, and the Jews of the whole world flock to
    him. What will become of the Christian doctrine and the belief
    in our Messiah?"

The attention bestowed by educated classes of Christians upon the
extraordinary events, which were published as news of the day, in turn
enhanced the credulity of the Jews. In short, every circumstance tended
to increase the deception. Only Jacob Sasportas raised his warning
voice against the imposture. He sent letters in all directions, here
to point out the absurdity of current rumors, there to collect exact
information. He failed to obtain striking evidence of Sabbataï's, or
Nathan's, roguery. Forged letters and documents were the order of the
day; conscientiousness and uprightness had utterly disappeared. Thus
the mist of false belief grew thicker and thicker, and one was no
longer able to get at the truth.

For three months, from April to July, Sabbataï had been leading the
life of a prince in the castle of the Dardanelles, intent only upon his
own apotheosis. Either from caprice or at Samuel Primo's suggestion, he
declared the fast of the 17th Tammuz to be abolished, because on this
day he had realized his Messianic character. Was this a mere freak,
or was it done with the intention of accustoming his adherents to the
abolition of Rabbinical Judaism? At all events, he appointed the 23d
of Tammuz (July 25th), a Monday, to be kept as a strict Sabbath. More
than four thousand Jews, men and women, who happened to be at Abydos,
celebrated this new Sabbath with great scrupulousness. Sabbataï, or
his secretary, sent circulars to the communities directing them to
celebrate the next fast, the ninth of Ab, his birthday, as a festival
by a special service, with Psalms specially chosen, with eating of
choice meats, and the sound of the harp and singing. He is said to have
contemplated the annulling of all the Jewish festivals, even the Day of
Atonement, and the introduction of others in their stead. But before
this could be done, he was guilty in his pride of an act of folly which
caused the whole fabric to collapse.

Among the many thousand visitors from far and near, two Poles from
Lemberg made a pilgrimage to him, to confirm their faith and feast on
his countenance. One was Isaiah, son of a highly-esteemed Rabbinical
authority, the aged David Levi (Ture Zahab), and grandson of the no
less celebrated Joel Serkes; the other, his half-brother, Leb Herz.
From these two Poles Sabbataï heard that in the distant land from which
they came, another prophet, Nehemiah Cohen, was announcing the approach
of the Messiah's kingdom, but not through Sabbataï. He gave Isaiah
Levi a laconic letter to take to his father, in which he promised
the Jews of Poland revenge for the massacre by the Cossacks, and
peremptorily ordered Nehemiah to come to him with all speed. He laid
so much stress on Nehemiah's coming, that he made his followers eager
for his arrival. The two Poles traveled back delighted to Lemberg,
and everywhere told of the splendor amid which they had seen the
Messiah. Nehemiah was ordered to hasten to Sabbataï, and he was not
deterred by the length of the journey. When he arrived at Abydos at
the beginning of September, he was immediately admitted to an audience
which lasted several days. The Polish prophet and the Smyrna Messiah
did not laugh in one another's faces, like two augurs, but carried
on a grave discussion. The subject of their mystical conversation
remained unknown, as may be imagined. It was said to concern the
forerunner of the Messiah--the Messiah of Ephraim--whether or not
he had appeared and perished, as had been predicted. Nehemiah was not
convinced by the long argument, and did not conceal the fact. On this
account, the fanatical Sabbatians are said to have secretly made signs
to one another to do away with this dangerous Pole. He fortunately
escaped from the castle, betook himself forthwith to Adrianople, to the
Kaimakam Mustapha, became a Mahometan, and betrayed the fantastic and
treasonable designs which Sabbataï Zevi cherished, and which, he said,
had remained unknown to the government, only because the overseer of
the castle of Dardanelles had an interest in the concourse of Jews.

The Kaimakam conveyed the intelligence to the sultan, Mahomet
IV, and the course to be pursued with regard to Sabbataï was
maturely considered, the mufti Vanni being also admitted to aid the
deliberations. To make short work with the rebellious schemer appeared
impracticable to the council, particularly as Mahometans also followed
him. If he should fall as a martyr, a new sect might arise, which would
kindle fresh disturbances. Vanni, a proselytizing priest, proposed that
an attempt be made to bring Sabbataï over to Islam. This advice was
followed, and the sultan's physician (Hakim Bashi), a Jewish renegade,
by name Guidon, was employed as the medium. A messenger suddenly
appeared at Abydos, drove away the Jews, who were besieging the Messiah
with homage, conveyed him to Adrianople, and brought him first to the
Hakim Bashi, who, as a former co-religionist, would be able to convert
him the more easily. The physician represented to him the dreadful
punishment that would inevitably befall him--he would be bound,
and scourged through the streets with burning torches, if he did not
appease the wrath of the sultan by adopting Islamism. It is not known
whether this call to apostatize from Judaism cost the conceited Messiah
great mental conflict. He had not much manly courage, and Judaism, in
its existing form, was perhaps dead for him. So he adopted Guidon's
advice. The following day (Elul 13, September 14, 1666) he was brought
before the sultan. He immediately cast off his Jewish head-dress, in
sign of contempt; a page offered him a white Turkish turban and a green
instead of the black mantle which he wore, and so his conversion to
the Mahometan religion was accomplished. When his dress was changed,
it is said that several pounds of biscuit were found in his loose
trousers. The sultan was highly pleased at this termination of the
movement, gave him the name of Mehmed Effendi, and appointed him his
door-keeper--Capigi Bashi Otorak--with a considerable monthly
salary; he was to remain near the sultan. The Messiah's wife, Sarah,
the Polish rabbi's fair daughter of loose behavior, likewise became a
Mahometan, under the name of Fauma Kadin, and received rich presents
from the sultana. Some of Sabbataï's followers also went over to Islam.
The mufti Vanni instructed them in the Mahometan religion. Sabbataï is
said to have married a Mahometan slave, in addition to his wife Sarah,
at the command of the mufti. Nehemiah Cohen, who had brought about this
sudden change, did not remain in Turkey, but returned to Poland, took
off the turban, and lived quietly without breathing a word of what
had happened. He disappeared as suddenly as he had come forward. The
ex-Messiah impudently wrote, some days after his conversion, to his
brothers at Smyrna: "God has made me an Ishmaelite; He commanded, and
it was done. The ninth day of my regeneration." Nearly at the same time
the rabbis and presidents of schools at Amsterdam assembled, and sent
a letter of homage to Sabbataï Zevi, to testify their belief in and
submission to him. The semi-Spinozist Dionysius (Benjamin) Musaphia,
vexed at not being invited, wrote a separate letter to Sabbataï Zevi,
signed by himself and two members of the school (Elul 24th). A week
later, twenty-four distinguished men of Amsterdam sent another letter
of homage to the apostate Messiah. At their head was Abraham Gideon
Abudiente. Did these letters reach the Mahometan Mehmed Effendi? At
Hamburg, where likewise his conversion was not suspected, the blessing
was five times pronounced over the renegade Sabbataï, on the Day of
Atonement (October 9, 1666).

But when the rumor of his apostasy went the rounds of the
communities, and could no longer be denied, confidence was succeeded
by a bewildering sense of disenchantment and shame. The highest
representative of Judaism had abandoned and betrayed it! Chayim
Benvenisti, the rabbi of Smyrna, who had invested the false Messiah
with authority from motives far from honorable, almost died of shame.
Mahometans and Christians pointed with scorn at the blind, credulous
Jews. The street boys in Turkey openly jeered at Jewish passers-by.
But this ridicule was not all. So widespread a commotion could not
die out and leave no trace. The sultan thought of destroying all the
Jews in his empire, because they had formed rebellious plans, and of
ordering all children under seven to be brought up in Islamism. The
newly converted Mahometan, Mehmed Effendi, in order to revenge himself,
is said to have betrayed his own plans, and the consent of the Jews
thereto. Two councilors and the sultana-mother are reported to have
dissuaded the sultan from his design by the observation that the
Jews ought to be regarded as having been misled. Fifty chief rabbis,
however, because they had neglected their duty in teaching the people,
were to be executed--twelve from Constantinople, twelve from Smyrna,
and the remaining twenty-six from the other communities in Turkey. It
was regarded as a special miracle that this resolution remained a dead
letter, and that the Jews did not even have to pay a fine. The division
in the communities might have had even worse consequences, if the
unbelievers had heaped scorn and mockery upon the late devotees. But
the colleges of rabbis in the East interposed, and sought to appease
and reconcile, and threatened to excommunicate any one who, by word or
deed, offended a former Sabbatian.

Although men's minds were calmed for the moment, it was long before
peace was restored. After the first surprise at Sabbataï's conversion
was over, his zealous followers, especially at Smyrna, began to
recover. They could not persuade themselves that they had really
been running after a shadow. There must be, or have been, some
truth in Sabbataï's Messianic claims, since all signs so entirely
agreed. The Kabbalists easily got over objections. Sabbataï had not
turned Mahometan; a phantom had played that part, while he himself
had retired to heaven or to the Ten Tribes, and would soon appear
again to accomplish the work of redemption. As at the time of the
origin of Christianity mystical believers (Docetæ) interpreted the
crucifixion of Jesus as a phantasm, so now thorough-going mystics
explained Sabbataï's apostasy from Judaism. Others, such as Samuel
Primo, Jacob Faliachi, Jacob Israel Duchan, who had designed, through
him, to bring about the fall of Rabbinical Judaism, and would not
abandon their plan lightly, still clung to him. The prophets, who
had been manifestly proved false through his conversion, were most
interested in remaining true to him. They did not care quietly to
renounce their functions and withdraw into obscurity, or be laughed
at. The prophets residing at Smyrna, Constantinople, Rhodes, and
Chios were silenced; but the itinerant prophets, Nathan Ghazati and
Sabbataï Raphael, did not choose to abdicate. The former had remained
in Palestine during Sabbataï's triumph in order to be paid homage
on his own account. After the deception was unmasked he regarded
himself as no longer safe; he made preparations to go to Smyrna, and
continued to send out his mystical, bombastic letters. From Damascus
he warned the Jews of Aleppo by letter not to allow themselves to be
discouraged by strange circumstances in their belief in the Messiah;
there was a deep mystery shortly to be revealed; but wherein the
mystery consisted could not yet be disclosed. By these circulars the
credulous were confirmed afresh in their delusion. In Smyrna many
synagogues continued to insert the blessing for Sabbataï in their
prayers. Hence the rabbis were obliged to interfere vigorously,
especially the rabbinate of the Turkish capital. They laid under a ban
all who should even pronounce the name of Sabbataï, or converse with
his followers, and threatened to hand them over to the secular arm.
Nathan Ghazati, in particular, was excommunicated, and everyone warned
against harboring him or approaching him (Kislev 12, December 9, 1666).
These sentences of excommunication were so far effectual that Nathan
could not stay anywhere for any length of time, and even in Smyrna he
could remain only a short time in secret at the house of a believer.
But the rabbis were not able entirely to exorcise the imposture. One
of the most zealous Sabbatians, probably Samuel Primo, who was ready
in invention, threw out a more effective suggestion than that of
the mock conversion. All had been ordained as it had come to pass.
Precisely by his going over to Islam had Sabbataï proved himself the
Messiah. It was a Kabbalistic mystery which some writings had announced
beforehand. As the first redeemer Moses was obliged to reside for some
time at Pharaoh's court, not as an Israelite, but to all appearance an
Egyptian, even so must the last redeemer live some time at a heathen
court, apparently a heathen, "outwardly sinful, but inwardly pure."
It was Sabbataï's task to free the lost emanations of the soul, which
pervade even Mahometans, and by identifying them with himself, as it
were, bring them back to the fountain-head. By redeeming souls in all
circles, he was most effectually furthering the kingdom of the Messiah.
This suggestion was a lucky hit; it kindled anew the flame of the
imposture. It became a watchword for all Sabbatians enabling them, with
decency and a show of reason, to profess themselves believers, and hold

Nathan Ghazati also caught up this idea, and was encouraged to resume
his part as prophet. He had fared badly so far; he had been obliged
secretly to leave Smyrna, where he had been in hiding several months
(end of April, 1667). His followers, consisting of more than thirty
men, were dispersed. But by this new imposture he recovered courage,
and approached Adrianople, where Mehmed Effendi presided, attended by
several of his adherents, who as pretended Mahometans lived and made
fantastic plans with him. The representatives of the Jewish community
at Constantinople and Adrianople rightly feared fresh disturbances
from the presence of the false prophet, and desired to get rid of
him. Nathan Ghazati, however, relied on his prophecy, which might
possibly, he said, be fulfilled at the end of the year. He expected
the Holy Spirit to descend upon the renegade Mehmed on the Feast of
Weeks (Pentecost), and then he also would be able to show signs and
wonders. Until then, he defiantly replied to the deputies, he could
entertain no propositions. When the Feast of Weeks was over, the
people of Adrianople again urged him to cease from his juggleries.
After much labor they obtained only a written promise to keep at a
distance of twelve days' journey from the city, not to correspond with
Sabbataï, not to assemble people round him, and if by the end of the
year the Redeemer did not appear, to consider his prophecies false.
In spite of his written promise, this lying prophet continued his
agitation, and admonished the Sabbatians in Adrianople to make known
their continued adhesion by the suspension of the fast on the 17th
of Tammuz. In this city there was a Sabbatian conventicle under the
leadership of a former disciple, who stood in close connection with
Mehmed Effendi. The rabbinate of Adrianople did not know how to check
the mischievous course of this daring sect, and were obliged to have
recourse to falsehood. They announced that the renegade had suddenly
appeared before the Jewish communal council, had repented of his
imposture, and laid the blame on Nathan and Abraham Yachini, who had
made him their dupe. In this way the rabbinate succeeded in deceiving
the Sabbatians. The effect did not last long. Nathan on the one hand,
and Mehmed Effendi's circle on the other, awakened new hope, the number
of believers again increased, and they made a special point of not
fasting on the 9th of Ab, the birthday of their Messiah. The rabbinates
of Constantinople and Smyrna sought to repress this imposture by the
old means--excommunication and threats of punishment (end of July)--but
with little success. The Sabbatians had a sort of hankering after
martyrdom in order to seal their faith. The false prophet renewed his
propagandism. He still had some followers, including two Mahometans.
At Salonica, the home of a swarm of Kabbalists, he fared badly. The
more easily did he find a hearing in the communities of the islands of
Chios and Corfu. His hopes were however directed principally to Italy.

Here also confusion continued to reign. The first news of Sabbataï's
defection had not been confirmed, as in consequence of the war in
Crete the ships of the Christians had been captured by the Turks. Thus
the Sabbatians were left free to maintain their faith and denounce
the report as false, especially as encouraging letters arrived from
Raphael Joseph Chelebi of Cairo and others. The most absurd stories
of Sabbataï's power and dignity at the Porte were published in Italy,
and found credence. Moses Pinheiro, Sabbataï's old companion, Raphael
Sofino at Leghorn, and the Amsterdam fanatics, Isaac Naar and Abraham
Pereira, who had gone to Italy to search for the Messiah, had a special
interest in clinging to straws; they feared ridicule as dupes. The
ignorant mountebank and strolling prophet, Sabbataï Raphael, from the
Morea, then residing in Italy, was bent upon deception and fraud, and
appears to have reaped a good harvest there. When at last there could
be no doubt of Sabbataï's change of religion, Raphael turned his steps
to Germany, where, on account of defective postal arrangements and
the slight intercourse of Jews with the outer world, they had only a
vague idea of the course of events, and took the most foolish stories
for truth. Sabbataï Raphael was there regarded as a prophet; but, as
he expected greater gain from the rich Amsterdam community, he betook
himself thither (September, 1667). Here also the imposture continued.
Ashamed that they, the shrewd and educated Portuguese, should have
been so signally deceived, they at first placed no faith in the news
of Sabbataï's treachery. Even the rabbis Isaac Aboab, Raphael Moses
d'Aguilar, and the philosophical sceptic Musaphia, remained staunch.
Justly Jacob Sasportas laughed them to scorn, especially Musaphia, on
account of his present unshaken faith as contrasted with his former

Meanwhile Nathan Ghazati, the prophet of Gaza was pursuing his
mischievous course in Italy. Coming from Greece, he landed at Venice
(end of March, 1668), but the rabbinate and the council, who had had
warning of him, would not allow him to enter the Ghetto. A Sabbatian
interceded for him with some Christians of rank, and under such
protection he could not be expelled. To cure those who had shared in
the delusion, the rabbinate wrung from him a written confession, that
his prophecies of Sabbataï Zevi's Messiahship rested on a freak of
his imagination, that he recognized them as such, and held them to be
idle. This confession was printed with an introduction by the rabbinate
of Venice, in order at last to open the eyes of the Sabbatians in
Italy. But it was not of much avail. The delusion, resting as it did
on the Kabbala, was too deeply rooted. From Venice Ghazati was sent
to Leghorn, with the suggestion to render him innocuous there, where
Jews enjoyed more freedom; but Nathan Ghazati secretly escaped to Rome,
cut off his beard, disguised himself, and is said to have thrown notes
written in Chaldee into the Tiber, to bring about the destruction
of Rome. The Jews recognized him, and, since they feared danger
for themselves on papal soil from his fraudulent absurdities, they
procured his banishment. Then he went to Leghorn, and found followers
there also. Promising himself more honor and profit in Turkey, or
more opportunity to satisfy his restless mind, Nathan returned to
Adrianople. He did not pay great regard to word and oath. Nathan
Ghazati compiled much Kabbalistic nonsense, but acquired no fame. He is
said to have died at Sophia, and to have been laid in a vault dug by
himself (1680). Other men appeared at the head of the Sabbatians who
far surpassed him, and pursued a definite end.

Sabbataï, or Mehmed Effendi, at this time began his revolutionary
chimeras afresh. Immediately after his apostasy he was obliged, under
the direction of the mufti Vanni, to acquire Mahometan ways, and guard
carefully against any appearance of inclination to Judaism and the
Jews. He therefore figured as a pious Mahometan. Gradually he was
permitted greater freedom, and to give utterance to his Kabbalistic
views about God and the universe. Vanni, to whom much was new, heard
his expositions with curiosity, and the sultan also is said to have
listened to his words attentively. Probably Sabbataï won over some
Mahometans to his Kabbalistic dreams. Weary of quiet, and anxious to
play an active part again, he once more entered into close relations
with Jews, and gave out that he had been filled anew with the Holy
Spirit at Passover (end of March, 1668), and had received revelations.
Sabbataï, or one of his aiders and abettors, published a mystical work
("Five Evidences of the Faith," Sahaduta di Mehemnuta) addressed to
the Jews and couched in extravagant language, in which the following
fantastic views were set forth: Sabbataï had been and remained the
true Redeemer; it would be easy to prove himself such, if he had not
compassion on Israel, who would have to experience the same dreadful
sufferings as the Messiah; and he only persisted in Mahometanism in
order to bring thousands and tens of thousands of non-Jews over to
Israel. To the sultan and the mufti, on the other hand, he said that
his approximation to the Jews was intended to bring them over to
Islam. He received permission to associate with Jews, and to preach
before them at Adrianople, even in synagogues. Thus he played the part
of Jew at one time, of Mussulman at another. If Turkish spies were
present, his Jewish hearers knew how to deceive them. They threw away
their Jewish headdress, and put on the turban. It is probable that
many Jews were seriously converted to Islam, and a Jewish-Turkish sect
thus began to form round Sabbataï Zevi. The Jews who had hitherto
felt such horror of apostatizing, that only the outcasts amongst them
went over to Christianity or Islam, became less severe. They said
without indignation that so and so had adopted the turban. Through
such jugglery Sabbatians at Adrianople, Smyrna, Salonica, and other
cities, even in Palestine, allowed themselves to be confirmed in their
obstinate faith in the Messiah. Even pious men, learned in the Talmud,
continued to adhere to him.

As though this complication were to become more involved, and the
Kabbalistic-Messianic disorder were to be pursued to its utmost limits,
a Sabbatian champion unexpectedly appeared in a man of European
culture, not wanting in gifts, Abraham Michael Cardoso. He was an
original character, a living personification of the transformation of
the Portuguese Jews after their expulsion. Born of Marrano parents in
a small town of Portugal, Celarico, in the province of Beïra, Miguel
Cardoso, like his elder brother Fernando, studied medicine. While the
latter devoted himself earnestly to science, Miguel dawdled away his
days amidst the luxury of Madrid, sang love-songs with the guitar under
the balconies of fair ladies, and paid very little heed to Kabbala or
Judaism. What influenced him to leave Spain is not known. Perhaps his
more serious and thoughtful brother, who, after making a name in Spain
as a medical and scientific author, out of love to Judaism migrated to
Venice, where he plunged deeply into Jewish literature, infected him
with enthusiasm. Both brothers assumed Jewish names after their return
to the religion of their forefathers. The elder, Isaac Cardoso, gave up
his name Fernando; the younger took the name of Abraham in addition
to that of Miguel (Michael). Both composed verses in Spanish. While
the elder brother led a regular life, guided by moral principles and a
rational faith, the younger fell under the sway of extravagant fancy
and an eccentric manner of living. Isaac Cardoso (born 1615, died after
1680) conferred renown on Judaism, while Abraham Michael Cardoso (born
about 1630, died 1706) was a disgrace to it.

The latter lived as a physician at Leghorn, but not flourishing he
accepted the position of physician in ordinary to the Bey of Tripoli.
His warm-blooded, dissolute nature was a hindrance to his advancement.
Contrary to the custom of African Jews, he married two wives, and
instead of employing himself with his difficult science, he revolved
fantastical schemes. Cardoso appears to have been initiated into the
Kabbala and the Sabbatian delusion by Moses Pinheiro, who was living at

He continually had dreams and visions, which increased in frequency
after the public appearance of Sabbataï at Smyrna and Constantinople.
He communicated his delusion to his wives and domestics, who likewise
pretended to have seen all sorts of apparitions. The apostasy of the
false Messiah from Judaism did not cure Cardoso of his delusion; he
remained a zealous partisan, and even justified the treachery of the
Messiah by saying that it was necessary for him to be counted among
sinners, in order that he might atone for Israel's sin of idolatry, and
blot it out. He sent circulars in all directions, in order to support
the Messianic claim of Sabbataï, and figure as a prophet. In vain his
more sober brother, Isaac Cardoso, warned and ridiculed him, asking
him ironically, whether he had received the gift of prophecy from his
former gallantries and from playing the guitar for the fair maidens of
Madrid. Abraham Cardoso's frivolity was in no way lessened, he even
assumed a didactic tone towards his grave elder brother, who despised
the Kabbala as he did alchemy and astrology, and sent him numberless
proofs, from the Zohar and other Kabbalistic writings, that Sabbataï
was the true Messiah, and that he must necessarily be estranged from
Judaism. By his zeal he gained many adherents for the Sabbatian
delusion in Africa; but he also made enemies, and incurred dangers. He
continued to prophesy the speedy commencement of the Messiah's reign,
although often proved false by reality. He put off the event from year
to year, performed Kabbalistic tricks, set up a new God for Israel,
and at last declared himself the Messiah of the house of Ephraim,
until he was rigorously prosecuted by an opponent of these vagaries.
Cardoso was driven back to his former uncomfortable position, forced to
lead an adventurer's life, and win bread for himself and his family,
so to speak, by his delusions, going through all sorts of jugglery,
at Smyrna, at Constantinople, in the Greek islands, and at Cairo, and
promoting the Sabbatian delusions with his abundant knowledge, eloquent
tongue, and ready pen. Thanks to his education in Christian schools, he
was far superior to other Sabbatian apostles, and knew how to give an
air of rationality and wisdom to nonsense, thus completely blinding the
biased, and stultifying even those averse to the Sabbatian movement.

Encouraged by the support of the Jews, continued in spite of his change
of religion, Sabbataï persisted in keeping up his character as Messiah,
and associated more and more with Jews. His weak brain had been turned
by the overwhelming rush of events, and he completely lost balance. At
one time he reviled Judaism and the God of Israel with foul words of
abuse, and is said even to have informed against Jews as blasphemers
of Islam before Turkish magistrates. At other times he held divine
service according to the Jewish ritual with his Jewish followers,
sang psalms, expounded the Zohar, ordered selections from the Torah
to be read on the Sabbath, and frequently chose seven virgins for
that purpose. On account of his constant intercourse with Jews, whom
he was not able to bring over wholesale to Mahometanism, as he may
have boastfully asserted, Mehmed Effendi is said to have fallen into
disfavor, forfeited his allowance and been banished from Adrianople to
Constantinople. He finally married another wife, the daughter of a man
learned in the Talmud, Joseph Philosoph of Salonica. The Turkish patrol
having surprised him in a village (Kuru Gisme) near Constantinople,
while singing psalms in a tent with some Jews, and the Bostanji Bashi
(officer) having reported it, the grand vizir commanded the Kaimakam to
banish him to Dulcigno, a small town in Albania, where no Jews dwelt.
There he died, abandoned and forsaken, it was afterwards said, on the
Day of Atonement, 1676.

Spinoza, who had likewise broken away from Judaism, may well
have looked with great contempt on this Messianic craze of his
contemporaries. If he had cared to dig the grave of Judaism and bury
it, he would have been obliged to recognize Sabbataï Zevi, his private
secretary, Samuel Primo, and his prophets, as allies and abettors. The
irrationality of the Kabbala brought Judaism much more effectually into
discredit than reason and philosophy. It is a remarkable fact that
neither the one nor the other could wean the numerous cultured Jews of
Amsterdam from the religion of their forefathers, so strongly was it
rooted in their hearts. At this time when two forces of Jewish origin
were antagonizing Judaism in the East and the West, the Portuguese
community, increased to the number of four thousand families, undertook
(1671) the building of a splendid synagogue, and after some years
finished the huge work, which had been interrupted by war troubles. The
dedication of the synagogue (Ab 10, August 2, 1675), was celebrated
with great solemnity and pomp. Neither the first Temple of Solomon, nor
the second of Zerubbabel, nor the third of Herod, was so much lauded
with song and eloquent speech as the new one at Amsterdam, called
Talmud Torah. Copper-plate engravings, furnished with inscriptions in
verse, were published. Christians likewise took part in the dedication.
They advanced money to the Jews in the times of need, and a poet,
Romein de Hooghe, composed verses in honor of the synagogue and the
Jewish people in Latin, Dutch, and French.

Spinoza lived to see this rejoicing of the community from which he had
become a pervert. He happened to be at Amsterdam just at the time.
He was engaged in seeing through the press a treatise (Ethics) which
reversed the views hitherto prevailing, and the second, enlarged
edition of his other work, chiefly directed against Judaism. He may
have laughed at the joy of the Amsterdam Jews, as idle; but the
building of this synagogue in a city which a hundred years before
had tolerated no Jews and had supported a Spanish Inquisition, was
loud testimony of the times, and contradicted many of his assertions.
He died not long afterwards, or rather, passed gently away as with
a divine kiss (February 21, 1677), about five months after Sabbataï
Zevi. Against his will he has contributed to the glory of the race
which he so unjustly reviled. His powerful intellect, logical acumen,
and strength of character are more and more recognized as properties
which he owed to the race from which he was descended. Among educated
Jews, Isaac Orobio de Castro alone attempted a serious refutation of
Spinoza's philosophical views. Though his intention was good, he was
too weak to break through the close meshes of Spinoza's system. It was
left to history to refute it with facts.



  Jews under Mahometan Rulers--Expulsion from Vienna--Jews
    admitted by Elector Frederick William into the Mark of
    Brandenburg--Charge of Child-murder in Metz--Milder Treatment
    of Jews throughout Europe--Christian Champions of the Jews:
    Jurieu, Oliger Pauli, and Moses Germanus--Predilection of
    Christians for the Study of Jewish Literature--Richard Simon
    --Interest taken by Charles XI in the Karaites--Peringer and
    Jacob Trigland--German Attacks on Judaism by Wülfer, Wagenseil,
    and Eisenmenger--Circumstances of the Publication of _Judaism
    Unmasked_--The _Alenu_ Prayer--Surenhuysius, Basnage, Unger,
    Wolf, and Toland.

1669-1700 C. E.

The princes and nations of Europe and Asia showed great consideration
in not disturbing the Messianic farce of the Jews, who were quietly
allowed to make themselves ridiculous. A pause had come in the
constantly recurring persecution of the Jews, which did not, however,
last very long. The regular succession of accusations, vexations, and
banishments soon re-commenced. The contrast between the followers of
Mahomet and those of Jesus is very striking. In Turkey the Jews were
free from persecution, in spite of their great excitement, and absurd
dreams of a national Messiah. In Africa, Sid Gailand and later Muley
Arshid, sultan of Tafilet, Fez, and Morocco, oppressed the Jews, partly
on account of their activity, partly from rapacity. But this ceased
with the next sovereign, Muley Ismail. He was a patron of the Jews, and
entrusted several with important posts. He had two Jewish advisers,
Daniel Toledano of Miquenes, a friend of Jacob Sasportas, a Talmudist
and experienced in state affairs, and Joseph Maimaran, likewise from

Within Christendom, on the contrary, Jews were esteemed and treated as
men only in Holland; in other states they were regarded as outcasts,
who had no rights, and no claim to compassion. Spain again led the way
in decreeing banishments. That unfortunate country, becoming more and
more depopulated through despotism, superstition, and the Inquisition,
was then ruled by a foolish, fanatical woman, the dowager-regent Maria
Anna of Austria, who had made her father-confessor, the German Jesuit
Neidhard, inquisitor-general and minister with unlimited powers.
Naturally, no toleration of other religions could be suffered at this
bigoted court. There were still Jews in some parts of the monarchy, in
the north-western corner of Africa, in Oran, Maxarquivir, and other
cities. Many had rendered considerable services to the Spanish crown,
in times of peace and war, against the native Arabs, or Moors, who
endured with inward rage the dominion of the cross. The families of
Cansino and Sasportas, the former royal interpreters, or dragomans, for
the province of Oran, had distinguished themselves especially by their
fidelity and devotion to Spain; and their conduct had been recognized
by Philip IV, the husband of Maria Anna, in a special letter.
Nevertheless, the queen-dowager suddenly ordered the banishment of the
Jews from the district, because she could no longer tolerate people of
this race in her realm. At the urgent request of Jewish grandees the
governor allowed the Jews eight days' grace during the Passover, and
admitted that they were banished, not because of misconduct or treason,
but simply on account of the regent's intolerance (end of April, 1669).
They were obliged to sell their possessions in haste at ridiculous
prices. The exiles settled in the district of Savoy, at Villafranca,
near Nice.

Like mother, like daughter. At about this time the banishment of
Jews from Vienna and the arch-duchy of Austria was decreed at the
instigation of the daughter of the Spanish regent, the empress
Margaret, an ally of the Jesuits. The emperor did not easily allow
himself to be prejudiced against Jews, from whom he derived a certain
revenue. The community of Vienna alone, grown to nearly two thousand
souls, paid a yearly tax of 10,000, and the country community of 4,000,
florins. Including the income from Jews in other places, the emperor
received from them 50,000 florins annually. But an empress need not
trouble herself about finance; she can follow the inclinations of
her heart, and Margaret's heart, filled with Jesuitism, hated Jews
profoundly, and her father-confessor strengthened the feeling. Having
met with an accident at a ball, she wished to testify her gratitude to
heaven which had wonderfully preserved her, and could find no means
more acceptable to God than the misery of Jews. More urgently than
before she entreated her imperial consort to banish from the capital
and the country the Jews, described by her father-confessor as outcasts
of hell, and she received his promise. With trumpet-sound it was made
known in Vienna (February 14, 1670) that by the emperor's command the
Jews were to quit the city within a few months on pain of death. They
left no measure untried to avert the stroke. Often before had similar
resolutions been recalled by Austrian emperors. The Jews cited the
privileges accorded them in writing, and the services which they had
rendered the imperial house. They offered large sums of money (there
were very rich court Jews at Vienna), used the influence of persons
connected with the court, and, after a solemn service in honor of the
recovery of the emperor from sickness, presented him as he left the
church with a large gold cup, and the empress with a handsome silver
basin and jug. The presents were accepted, but the command was not

At Vienna and at the court there was no prospect of a change of
purpose; the Jesuits had the upper hand through the empress and her
confessor. The community of Vienna in despair thought to avert the evil
by another, roundabout course. The Jews of Germany had felt sincere
sympathy for their brethren, and had implored heaven by prayer and
fasting to save them. The Jews of Vienna could count confidently upon
their zeal. Therefore, in a pitiful letter to the most influential
and perhaps the richest Jew of that time, Isaac (Manoel) Texeira,
the esteemed agent of Queen Christina, they begged him to exert
his influence with temporal and church princes, through them to
make Empress Margaret change her mind. Texeira had previously taken
active steps in that direction, and he promised to continue them.
He had written to some Spanish grandees with whom he stood in close
connection to use their influence with the empress's confessor. The
queen of Sweden, who, after her romantic conversion to Catholicism,
enjoyed great esteem in the Catholic world, led Texeira to hope that,
by letters addressed to the papal nuncio, to the empress, and to her
mother, the Spanish regent, she might prevent the banishment of the
Austrian Jews. The Jews of Rome also did their part to save their
threatened brethren. But all these efforts led to nothing. Unhappily
there had just been a papal election at Rome after the death of Clement
IX, so that the head of the church, though Jews were tolerated in his
states, could not be prevailed upon to assume a decided attitude.
Emperor Leopold remained firm, and disposed of the houses of the Jews
before they had left them. He was only humane enough to order, under
pain of severe punishment, that no harm be done to the departing Jews.

So the Jews had to submit to the iron will of necessity, and grasp
their pilgrims' staffs. When 1,400 souls had fallen into distress,
or at least into an anxious plight, and many had succumbed, the
remainder, more than three hundred, again petitioned the emperor,
recounting the services of Jews to the imperial house, and showing
all the accusations against them to be groundless, at all events not
proven. They did not shrink from declaring that to be a Jew could not
be called a crime, and protested that they ought to be treated as
Roman citizens, who ought not to be summarily expelled. They begged
at least for a respite until the next meeting of the Reichstag. Even
this petition, in which they referred to the difficulty of finding a
refuge, if the emperor, the ruler of half of Europe, rejected them,
remained without effect. All had to depart; only one family, that of
the court factor, Marcus Schlesinger Jaffa, was allowed to remain in
Vienna, on account of services rendered. The Jesuits were full of joy,
and proclaimed the praise of God in a gradual. The magistrates bought
the Jews' quarter from the emperor for 100,000 florins, and called it
Leopoldstadt in his honor. The site of the synagogue was used for a
church, of which the emperor laid the corner-stone (August 18, 1670)
in honor of his patron saint. A golden tablet was to perpetuate the
shameful deeds of the Jews:

    "After the Jews were banished, the emperor caused their
    synagogue, which had been as a charnel-house, to be made into a
    house of God."

The tablet, however, only proves the mental weakness of the emperor and
his people. The Talmud school (Beth ha-Midrash) was likewise converted
into a church, and named in honor of the empress and her patron saint.

But this dark picture had also its bright side. A struggling state,
which hitherto had not tolerated the Jews, now became a new, though
not very hospitable, home, where the Jewish race was rejuvenated. The
Austrian exiles dispersed in various directions. Many sought protection
in Moravia, Bohemia, and Poland. Others went to Venice and as far
as the Turkish frontiers, others turned to Fürth, in Bavaria. Fifty
families were received by Elector Frederick William, in the Mark of
Brandenburg. This great prince, who laid the solid foundation for the
future greatness of the Prussian monarchy, was not more tolerant than
other princes of Louis XIV's century; but he was more clear-sighted
than Emperor Leopold, and recognized that a sound state of finances is
essential to the prosperity of a state, and that Jews retained somewhat
of their old renown as financiers. In the Mark of Brandenburg no Jew
had been allowed to dwell for a hundred years, since their expulsion
under Elector John George. Frederick William himself took the step so
difficult for many; he wrote (April, 1670) to his ambassador, Andrew
Neumann, at Vienna, that he was inclined to receive into the electoral
Mark from forty to fifty prosperous Jewish families of the exiles
from Vienna under certain conditions and limitations. The conditions,
made known a year later, proved in many points very harsh, but were
more favorable than in other Protestant countries, as, for instance,
in the bigoted city of Hamburg. The Jews might settle where they
pleased in Brandenburg and in the duchy of Crossen, and might trade
everywhere without hindrance. The burgomasters were directed to place
no impediment in the way of their settlement and not to molest them.
Every family had to pay eight thalers a year as a protective tax, a
gold florin for every marriage, and the same for every funeral; on the
other hand, they were freed from the poll-tax throughout the country.
They might buy and build houses, on condition that after the expiration
of a term they sell them to Christians. They were not permitted to have
synagogues, but could have prayer-rooms, and appoint a school-master
and a butcher (Shochet). This charter of protection was valid for only
twenty years, but a prospect was held out that it would be prolonged
by the elector or his successor. Of these fifty Austrian families, some
seven settled in Berlin, and formed the foundation of the community
afterwards so large and influential. One step led to another. Frederick
William also admitted rich Jews from Hamburg, Glogau, and other cities,
and thus communities sprang up at Landsberg and Frankfort-on-the-Oder.

It is evident that Frederick William admitted the Jews purely from
financial considerations. But he occasionally showed unselfish goodwill
towards some. When he agreed to the quixotic plan of Skytte, a Swedish
royal councilor, to found, at Tangermünde in the Mark, a university for
all sciences and an asylum for persecuted savants, he did not fail,
according to his programme, to admit into this Athens of the Mark,
Jewish men of learning, as well as Arabs and unbelievers of every kind,
but on condition that they should keep their errors to themselves, and
not spread them abroad.

At another spot in Christian Europe a few rays of light pierced the
darkness. About the same time that the Jews were expelled from Vienna,
a false accusation, which might have had far-reaching consequences,
cropped up against the Jews of a city recently brought under French
rule. In Metz, a considerable community had developed in the course
of a century from four Jewish families, and had appointed its own
rabbi since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Jews of Metz
behaved so well that King Louis XIV publicly declared his satisfaction
with them, and renewed their privileges. But as Metz at that time still
had a German population, narrow guilds continued to exist, and these
insisted upon limiting the Jews in their occupations. Thwarted by the
magistrates, some of them roused in the populace a burning hatred of
the Jews. A peasant had lost a child, and the news was quickly spread
that the Jews had killed it to practice sorcery with its flesh.
The accusation was brought specifically against a peddler, Raphael
Levi. Scraps of paper with Hebrew letters, written by him during his
imprisonment, served as proofs of his guilt. A baptized Jew, Paul du
Vallié (Vallier, formerly Isaac), son of a famous physician in that
district, with the aid of another Jewish convert, translated the scraps
to the disadvantage of the accused.

Du Vallié had literally been decoyed into Christianity, and changed
into a bitter enemy of his former co-religionists. He had been a good
son, adored by his parents. He had also been a pious Jew, and had
declared to two tempters who had tried to influence him to apostatize
from Judaism that he would sooner be burned. Nevertheless, the priests
continued their efforts until they induced him to accept Christianity.
The news of his baptism broke the heart of his mother, Antoinette. A
touching letter to her son, in French, is still extant, in which she
entreats him to return to Judaism. Du Vallié however refused, and
proved himself besides to be a bad man and a traitor. He brought false
evidence against the poor accused Jew. Accordingly, Raphael Levi was
stretched on the rack, and, though he maintained his innocence in the
tone of convincing truth, he was condemned by the Metz parliament, and
put to death with torture, which he resolutely bore (January, 1670).
The parliament intended to continue the persecution. The enemies of
the Jews, moreover, caused a document on the subject to be printed
and widely circulated, in order to produce the proper effect. But the
Metz community found a supporter in a zealous fellow-believer, Jonah
Salvador, a tobacco dealer, of Pignerol. He was learned in the Talmud,
and a follower of Sabbataï Zevi. Richard Simon, an eager student,
sought him out in order to study Hebrew under his guidance. Jonah
Salvador managed to interest this Father of the Oratory in the Metz
community, and inspired him to draw up a vindication of the Jews
respecting child-murder. The tobacco merchant of Pignerol delivered
this document to persons at court whose word had weight, and this
turned the scale. The king's council ordered the records of the Metz
parliament to be sent in, and decided (end of 1671) that judicial
murder had been committed in the case of Raphael Levi. Louis XIV
ordered that henceforth criminal charges against Jews be brought before
the king's council.

Inhuman treatment of Jews, banishment, false accusations against
them, and massacres did not actually cease, but their number and
extent diminished. This phenomenon was a consequence of the increasing
civilization of the European capitals, but a growing predilection for
the Jews and their brilliant literature had a share in their improved
treatment. Educated Christians, Catholics as well as Protestants, and
sober, unbiased men, whose judgment had weight, began to be astonished
at the continued existence of this people. How was it that a people,
persecuted for ten centuries and more, trampled under foot, and treated
like a pack of venomous or noisome beasts--a people without a home,
whom all the world treated roughly--how was it that this people still
existed--not only existed, but formed a compact body, separate from
other peoples, even in its subjection too proud to mingle with more
powerful nations? Numerous writers appeared as apologists for the Jews,
urging their milder treatment, and appealing earnestly to Christians
not to destroy or disfigure this living marvel. Many went very far in
their enthusiasm for the Jews. The Huguenot preacher, Pierre Jurieu,
at Rotterdam, wrote a book (1685) on "The Fulfillment of Prophecy," in
which he expounded the future greatness of the Jews as certain--that
God had kept this nation for Himself in order to do great wonders for
it: the true Antichrist was the persecution of Jews. A Dane, Oliger
(Holger) Pauli, displayed over-zealous activity for the return of the
Jewish people to their former country. As a youth, he had had visions
of the coming greatness of Israel, in which he also was to play a part.
Oliger Pauli was so fond of the Jewish race that, although descended
from Christian ancestors of noble rank, he always gave out that he had
sprung from Jewish stock. He had amassed millions as a merchant, and
spent them lavishly on his hobby, the return of the Jews to Palestine.
He sent mystical letters to King William III of England and the dauphin
of France to induce them to undertake the assembling and restoration of
the Jews. To the dauphin the Danish enthusiast plainly declared that by
zeal for the Jews, France might atone for her bloody massacre of St.
Bartholomew and the dragonnades. John Peter Speeth of Augsburg, born of
Catholic parents at Vienna, went still farther in his enthusiasm for
Jews and Judaism. After writing a pamphlet in honor of Catholicism, he
went over to the Socinians and Mennonites, and at last became a Jew at
Amsterdam, and took the name of Moses Germanus (died April 17, 1702).
He confessed that precisely the false accusations against Jews had
inspired him with disgust for Christianity.

    "Even at the present time much of the same sort of thing
    happens in Poland and Germany, where circumstantial tales are
    told and songs sung in the streets, how the Jews have murdered
    a child, and sent the blood to one another in quills for the
    use of their women in childbirth. I have discovered this
    outrageous fraud in time, and abandoned Christianity, which
    can permit such things, in order to have no share in it, nor
    be found with those who trample under foot Israel, the first
    begotten Son of God, and shed his blood like water."

Moses Germanus was Paul reversed. The latter as a Christian, became a
zealous despiser of Judaism; the former, as a Jew, an equally fanatical
opponent of Christianity. He regarded its origin as gross fraud.
One cannot even now write all that Moses Germanus uttered about the
teaching of Jesus. He was not the only Christian who at this time
"from love for Judaism" exposed himself to the painful operation and
still keener shame and reproach of circumcision. In one year three
Christians, in free Amsterdam to be sure, went over to Judaism, amongst
them a student from Prague.

Even more than the anticipated greatness of Israel, Jewish literature
attracted learned Christians, and inspired them with a sort of sympathy
for the people out of whose mine such treasures came. The Hebrew
language was studied by Christians even more than in the beginning
of the seventeenth century. In the middle and towards the close of
that century Hebrew Rabbinical literature was most eagerly searched,
translated into Latin or modern languages, quoted, utilized, and
applied. "Jewish learning" was, not as before a mere ornament, but
an indispensable element, of learning. It was regarded as a disgrace
for Catholic and Protestant theologians to be ignorant of Rabbinical
lore, and the ignorant could defend themselves only by abusing these
Hebraists as semi-rabbis.

The first Catholic critic, Father Richard Simon, of the congregation
of the Oratory at Paris, contributed very much to the high esteem in
which the Jews and their literature were held. This man, who laid
the foundation of a scientific, philological, and exegetical study
of the Old and New Testament, investigated Jewish writings with
great zeal, and utilized them for his purpose. He was gifted with a
keen understanding, which unconsciously led him beyond the limits of
Catholic doctrine. Spinoza's criticism of the Bible induced him to
make original inquiries, and since, as a genuine Frenchman, he was
endowed with sound sense rather than metaphysical imagination, he was
more successful, and his method is thoroughly scientific. Richard
Simon was disgusted with the biblical exegesis of the Protestants,
who were wont to support their wisdom and their stupidity with verses
of Holy Scripture. He undertook, therefore, to prove that the
biblical knowledge and biblical exegesis of the Protestant church,
on which it prided itself before Catholics and Jews, was mere mist
and error, because it mistook the sense of the original text, and had
no conception of the historical background, the coloring of time and
place, of the books of the Bible, and in this ignorance multiplied
absurd dogmas.

    "You Protestants appeal to the pure word of God to do battle
    against the Catholic tradition; I intend to withdraw the ground
    from under you, and to leave you, so to speak, with your legs
    dangling in the air."

Richard Simon was the predecessor of Reimarus and David Strauss. The
Catholics applauded him--even the mild Bishop Bossuet, who at first
had opposed him from conceit--not dreaming that they were nourishing
a serpent in their bosom. In his masterpiece, "The Critical History of
The Old Testament," he set himself to prove that the written word in
no way suffices for faith. Richard Simon appreciated with a master's
eye, as no one before him, the wide extent of a new science--biblical
criticism. Although he criticised freely, he proceeded apologetically,
vindicated the sacred character of the Bible, and repelled Spinoza's
attacks upon its trustworthiness. Richard Simon's writings, which were
composed not in Latin, but in the vernacular, were marked by a certain
elegance of style, and attracted well-deserved attention. They form an
agreeable contrast to the chaos of oppressive learning of the time, and
have an insinuative air about them. Hence they were eagerly read by the
educated classes, even by women. Simon accorded much space to Jewish
literature, and subjoined a list of Jewish writers. By this means
Rabbinical literature became known to the educated more than through
the efforts of Reuchlin, Scaliger, the two Buxtorfs, and the learned
men of Holland who wrote in Latin.

To gain a comprehensive knowledge of this literature, Richard Simon
was obliged, like Reuchlin before him, to seek intercourse with Jews;
in particular he associated with Jonah Salvador, the Italian Sabbatian.
By this means he lost a part of his prejudice against Jews, which
still existed in France in its intensity. He was drawn to Jews in
another direction. Laying stress on Catholic tradition as opposed to
the literal belief of the Protestants, he felt in some degree related
to the Talmudists and Rabbanites. They also upheld their tradition
against the literal belief of the Karaites. Richard Simon, therefore,
exalted Rabbinical Judaism in the introduction and supplements which
he added to his translation of Leo Modena's "Rites." Familiar with the
whole of Jewish literature as few of his time or of a later period,
Richard Simon refrained from making the boastful assertion, grounded
upon ignorance, that Christianity is something peculiar, fundamentally
different to Judaism and far more exalted. He recognized, and had the
courage to declare, the truth that Christianity in its substance and
form was molded after the pattern of Judaism, and would have to become
like it again.

    "Since the Christian religion has its origin in Judaism, I
    doubt not that the perusal of this little book (the 'Rites')
    will contribute to the understanding of the New Testament, on
    account of its similarity to, and close connection with the
    Old. They who composed it were Jews, and it can be explained
    only by means of Judaism. A portion of our ceremonies also
    are derived from the Jews.... The Christian religion has this
    besides in common with the Jewish, that each is based on Holy
    Scripture, on the tradition of the fathers, on traditional
    habits and customs.... One cannot sufficiently admire the
    modesty and devotion of the Jews, as they go to prayer in
    the morning.... The Jews distinguish themselves, not only by
    prayers, but also by deeds of mercy, and one thinks one sees,
    in their sympathy for the poor, the image of the love of the
    first Christians for their brethren. Men obeyed in those times
    what the Jews have retained to this day, while we (Christians)
    have scarcely kept up the remembrance of it."

Richard Simon almost deplored that the Jews, formerly so learned in
France, who looked upon Paris as their Athens, had been driven out
of that country. He defended them against the accusation of their
hatred of Christians, and emphasized the fact that they pray for the
welfare of the state and its princes. His predilection for tradition
went so far, that he maintained that the college of cardinals at
Rome, the supreme court of Christendom, was formed on the pattern
of the Synhedrion at Jerusalem, and that the pope corresponded to
the president, the Nassi. Whilst he compared the Catholics to the
Rabbanites, he called the Protestants Karaites, and jestingly wrote
to his Protestant friends, "My dear Karaites." It has been mentioned
that Richard Simon interested himself zealously in the Jews of Metz,
when they were accused of murdering a Christian child. When other
opportunities offered, he defended the Jews against false accusations
and suspicions. A baptized Jew, Christian Gerson, who had become
a Protestant pastor, at the beginning of the seventeenth century,
in order to vilify the Talmud, had made extracts in the shape of
ridiculous legends, printed and published in many editions. Richard
Simon wrote to a Swiss, about to translate these German extracts into
French, that Gerson was not guiltless of having passed off plays upon
words and purely allegorical expressions in the Talmud as serious
narratives. Gerson imputed to the whole Jewish nation certain errors,
accepted only by the credulous, unable to distinguish fiction from
fact, and he, therefore, abused the Talmud. It must not be forgotten
that it was a distinguished ecclesiastic, moreover, a sober, moderate
man, who spoke thus favorably of Judaism. His books and letters,
written in a lively French style, and much read by the educated world,
gained many friends for Judaism, or at least lessened the number of
its enemies. The official Catholic world, however, appears to have
reprimanded this eulogist of Judaism, and Richard Simon, who loved
peace, was obliged partially to recant his praises.

    "I have said too much good of this wretched nation, and through
    intercourse with some of them I have since learned to know

This cannot have been spoken from his heart, for he was not wont to
judge a whole class of men by a few individuals.

The attention paid to Jews and their literature by Christian scholars
and princes here and there produced droll occurrences. In Sweden, the
most bigoted Protestant country, no Jew and no Catholic were allowed
to dwell. Nevertheless King Charles XI felt extraordinary interest
in the Jews, still more in the Karaites, who pretended to follow the
simple word of God without the accretion of traditions, and were said
to bear great resemblance to the Protestants. Would it not be easy
to bring over to Christianity these people who were not entangled in
the web of the Talmud? Charles XI accordingly sent a professor of
Upsala, learned in Hebrew literature, Gustavus Peringer of Lilienblad
(about 1690), to Poland for the purpose of seeking out the Karaites,
informing himself of their manner of life and their customs, and
especially buying their writings without regard to cost. Provided with
letters of recommendation to the king of Poland, Peringer went first
to Lithuania, where dwelt several Karaite communities. But the Polish
and Lithuanian Karaites were even more degraded than their brethren in
Constantinople, the Crimea, and Egypt. There were very few among them
who knew any details about their origin and the history of their sect;
not one had accurate information. At about this time the Polish king,
John Sobieski, had ordered, through a Karaite judge, Abraham ben Samuel
of Trok, who was in favor with him, that the Karaites, for some unknown
object, scatter from their headquarters of Trok, Luzk, and Halicz, and
settle also in other small towns; they obeyed, and dispersed as far as
the northern province of Samogitia. These Polish Karaites, cut off from
their center, isolated, avoiding intercourse with rabbis, and mixing
only with the Polish rustic population, became more and more boorish,
and sank into profound lethargy.

Whether Peringer even partially fulfilled the wish of his king is not
known; probably he altogether failed in his mission. Some years later
(1696-1697), two learned Swedes, probably also commissioned by Charles
XI, traveled in Lithuania to visit Karaite communities and buy up their
writings. At the same time they invited Karaites to visit Sweden, and
give information respecting their doctrines. Zeal for conversion had
certainly more share in the matter than curiosity about the unknown.
A young Karaite, Samuel ben Aaron, who had settled at Poswol in
Samogitia, and understood some Latin, resolved to make a journey to
Riga, and hold a conference with John Puffendorf, a royal official.
Through want of literary sources and the ignorance of the Karaites
concerning the origin and development of their sect, Samuel ben Aaron
could give only a scanty account in a work, the title of which proves
that fancifulness had penetrated also to Karaite circles.

From another side the Karaites were the object of eager inquiry. A
professor at Leyden, Jacob Trigland, fairly well acquainted with Hebrew
literature, who intended to write a book about the old Jewish sects, no
longer in existence, had his attention directed to the still existing
Karaites. Inspired by the wish to get information concerning the Polish
Karaites and obtain possession of their writings, he sent a letter with
various questions through well-known mercantile houses to Karaites, to
which he solicited an answer. This letter accidentally fell into the
hands of a Karaite, Mordecai ben Nissan, at Luzk, a poor official of
the community, who did not know enough to give the desired information
as to the beginning and cause of the schism between Rabbanites and
Karaites. He regarded it as a point of honor to avail himself of this
opportunity to bring the forgotten Karaites to the remembrance of the
educated world through the instrumentality of a Christian writer,
and to deal blows at their opponents, the Rabbanite Jews. He spared
no sacrifice to procure the few books by which he might be able to
instruct himself and his correspondent Trigland. These materials,
however, were not worth much, and Mordecai's dissertation for Trigland
proved unsatisfactory, but for want of a better work it had the good
fortune to serve during nearly a century and a half as the only source
for the history of Karaism. Some years later, when Charles XII, the
hero of the north, conquered Poland in his victorious career, and like
his father was anxious to have more precise intelligence respecting
Karaites, he also made inquiries concerning them. Mordecai ben Nissan
used this occasion to compose a work in Hebrew for Charles XII, in
which he freely indulged his hatred against Rabbanites, and strained
every nerve to make Talmudical literature ridiculous.

The zealous attention paid by Christian scholars to Jewish literature
could not fail to cause annoyance and inconvenience to Jews. They
felt sorely burdened by German Protestant literati, who, acquiring
cumbersome learning, strove to rival the Dutch writers and Richard
Simon in France, without possessing their mild and gentle toleration
towards Jews, or their elegance of style. Almost at the same time
three German Hebraists, Wülfer, Wagenseil, and Eisenmenger, used their
knowledge of Hebrew literature to bring accusations against the Jews.
All three associated much with Jews, learned from them, and devoted
much study to Jewish literature, mastering it to a certain degree.

John Wülfer of Nuremberg, who was educated for the church, and had
studied with a Jew of Fürth and afterwards in Italy, thoroughly
acquainting himself with biblical and Talmudical literature, sought
after Hebrew manuscripts and old Jewish prayer-books to found an
accusation against the Jews. Christians, instigated by baptized Jews,
took offense at a beautiful prayer (Alenu), which arose in a time and
country in which Christianity was little known. Some Jews were wont to
add a sentence to this prayer: "For they (the heathen) pray unto vanity
and emptiness." In the word "emptiness," enemies of the Jews pretended
to see an allusion to Jesus and to find blasphemy against him. The
sentence was not printed in the prayer-books, but in many copies a
blank space was left for it. This vacant space, or the presence of the
obnoxious word, equally enraged the Protestants, and Wülfer, therefore,
searched libraries to find authority for it, and when he found the word
in manuscripts, he did not fail to publish his discovery. He praised
Prince George of Hesse because he made his Jews swear an oath never
to utter a blasphemous word against Jesus, and threatened to punish
them with death in case of transgression. Wülfer, on the other hand,
was candid enough to confess that the Jews had been long and cruelly
persecuted by Christians, that the accusation against them of using
blood was a mischievous invention, and that the testimony of baptized
Jews deserved little credence.

John Christopher Wagenseil, a lawyer and professor at Altorf, was a
good-hearted man, and kindly disposed towards the Jews. He had traveled
farther than Wülfer, had penetrated through Spain into Africa, and
took the greatest pains to hunt up such Jewish writings as attacked
Christianity from the ground of Holy Scripture or with the weapons of
reason. His discoveries filled his quiver "with the fiery darts of
Satan." Wagenseil looked up that insipid compilation of the magical
miracles of Jesus (Toldoth Jesho), with which a Jew, who had been
persecuted by Christians, tried to revenge himself on the founder of
Christianity, and he spent much money in hunting up this Hebrew parody
of the Gospel. Few Jews possessed copies of it, and the owners kept
them under lock and key for their own security. Because one Jew had
once written these absurdities about Jesus, and some Jews had copies
of the book in their possession, while others had defended themselves
against attacks by Christians, Wagenseil felt assured that the Jews
of his time were vile blasphemers of Jesus. He therefore implored
the princes and civil magistrates to forbid the Jews most strictly
to continue such blasphemy. He directed a pamphlet, "The Christian
Denunciation," to all high potentates, urging them to impose a formal
oath upon Jews, not to utter any word of mockery against Jesus, Mary,
the cross, the mass, and other Christian sacraments. Wagenseil had
two pious wishes besides. One was that the Protestant princes should
take active steps for the conversion of the Jews. He had, it is true,
convinced himself that at Rome, where since the time of Pope Gregory
XIII a Dominican monk was wont on certain Sabbaths to hold forth, in
a sleepy manner, before a number of Jews, they either ignored him
or mocked at him. But he thought that the Protestant princes, more
zealous Christians than the Catholics, ought to devise a better plan.
It also grieved this thorough scholar that the colleges of rabbis
presumed to criticise writings concerning the Jewish religion, and
that they ventured to express their approval or disapproval; this was
an infringement of the rights and the dignity of Christians! Withal
Wagenseil, as has been said, was kindly disposed to the Jews. He
remarked with emphasis that he thought it wrong and unworthy to burn
Jews, to rob them of all their property, or to drive them with their
wives and children out of the country. It was excessively cruel that in
Germany and other countries children of Jews should be baptized against
the will of their parents, and compelled to accept Christianity. The
oppressions and insults to which they were exposed at the hands of the
Christian rabble were by no means to be approved. It was not right that
they were compelled to say "Christ is risen," that they were assailed
with blows, had dirt and stones thrown at them, and were not allowed to
go about in safety. Wagenseil wrote a pamphlet to expose the horrible
falsehood of the charge, that the Jews use the blood of Christians.
For the sake of this pamphlet, which spoke so warmly for the Jews,
his other absurdities should be pardoned. Wagenseil expressed his
indignation at the horrible lie:

    "It might pass if the matter stopped with idle gossip; but
    that on account of this execrable falsehood Jews have been
    tormented, punished, and executed by thousands, should have
    moved even stones to compassion, and made them cry out."

Is it credible that in the face of this judgment, spoken with firm
conviction by Wülfer and Wagenseil, who not only had associated with
Jews for years, but were accurately acquainted with Jewish literature,
and had penetrated into its innermost recesses as none before them,
their contemporaries should seriously revive the horrible falsehood,
and justify it with ostentatious learning? A Protestant, John Andrew
Eisenmenger, professor of Oriental languages, repeated the accusation,
a thousand times branded as false, and furnished posterity with
abundant material for charges against the Jews. Eisenmenger belonged
to the class of insects which sucks poison even out of flowers. In
confidential converse with Jews, pretending that he desired to be
converted to Judaism, and in the profound study of their literature,
which he learned from them, he sought only the dark side of both.

He compiled a venomous book in two volumes, the title of which in
itself was an invitation to Christians to massacre the Jews, and was
synonymous with a repetition of earlier scenes of horror for the Jews.

    "Judaism Unmasked; or a Thorough and True Account of the Way
    in which the Stubborn Jews frightfully blaspheme and dishonor
    the Holy Trinity, revile the Holy Mother of Christ, mockingly
    criticise the New Testament, the Evangelists, the Apostles, and
    the Christian Religion, and despise and curse to the Uttermost
    Extreme the whole of Christianity. Much else besides, either
    not at all or very little known, and Gross Errors of the Jewish
    Religion and Theology, as well as Ridiculous and Amusing
    Stories, herein appear. All proved from their own Books.
    Written for the Honest Information of all Christians."

Eisenmenger intended to hurl Wagenseil's "fiery darts of Satan" with
deadly aim at the Jews. If he had merely quoted detached sentences
from the Talmudical and later Rabbinical literature and anti-Christian
writings, translated them, and drawn conclusions from them hostile
to the Jews, he would only have proved his mental weakness. But
Eisenmenger represented most horrible falsehoods, as Wagenseil had
called them, as indisputable facts. He adduced a whole chapter of
proofs showing that it was not lawful for Jews to save a Christian
from danger to life, that the Rabbinical laws command the slaughter
of Christians, and that no confidence should be placed in Jewish
physicians, nor ought their medicines to be taken. He repeated all
the false stories of murders committed by Jews against Christians, of
the poisoning of wells by Jews at the time of the Black Death, of the
poisoning of the elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II, by his Jewish
mint-master, of Raphael Levi's child-murder at Metz--in short,
all ever invented by saintly simplicity, priestly fraud, or excited
fanaticism, and imputed to Jews. That the martyrdom of little Simon
of Trent was a fabrication had been clearly proved by the doge and
senate of Venice on authentic documents. Not only the Jewish writers
Isaac Viva and Isaac Cardoso, but also Christians, like Wülfer and
Wagenseil, recognized these documents as genuine, and represented the
charge against the Jews of Trent as a crying injustice. Eisenmenger
was not influenced by that, declared the documents to be forged, and
maintained the bloodthirstiness of Jews with fiery zeal and energy.
One would be justified in ascribing his proceedings against Jews
to brutality or avarice. Although very learned in Hebrew, he was
otherwise uncultured. He was willing to be bribed by solid coin into
silence with regard to the Jews. But for the honor of humanity one
would rather impute his course to blindness; he had lived a long time
at Frankfort-on-the-Main, formerly the center of hatred to Jews in
Germany, and he may there have imbibed his bitter animosity, and have
wished, at first from conscientious motives, to blacken the character
of the Jews.

Some Jews had got wind of the printing of Eisenmenger's work at
Frankfort, and were not a little alarmed at the danger threatening
them. The old prejudices of the masses and the ecclesiastics against
Jews, stronger amongst Protestants than Catholics, still existed too
strongly for a firebrand publication to appear in German without doing
mischief wherever it came. The Jews of Frankfort therefore placed
themselves in communication with the court-Jews at Vienna in order to
meet the danger. Emperor Leopold I, who, at the instigation of the
empress and her father-confessor, had expelled the Jews from Vienna,
being in need of money in consequence of the Turkish wars, fifteen
years later allowed some rich Jews to settle in the capital. Samuel
Oppenheim, of Heidelberg, a banker, one of the noblest of Jews, whose
heart and hand were open to all sufferers, had probably brought about
this concession. As before, several Jewish families, alleged to be
his servants, came with him to Vienna. Samuel Oppenheim zealously
endeavored to prevent the circulation of Eisenmenger's book against
the Jews. He had the same year experienced what a Christian rabble
instigated by hatred of Jews could do. A riotous assault was made upon
his house, which was broken into, and everything there, including the
money-chest, was plundered (July 17, 1700). Hence from personal motives
and on public grounds Samuel Oppenheim exerted himself to prevent
the 2,000 copies of Eisenmenger's work from seeing the light of day.
He and other Jews could justly maintain that the publication of this
book in German, unattractive though its style was, would lead to the
massacre of the Jews. An edict was therefore issued by the emperor
forbidding its dissemination. Eisenmenger was doubly disappointed; he
could not wreak his hatred on the Jews, and he had lost the whole of
his property, which he had spent on the printing, and was obliged to
incur debts. All the copies, except a few which he had abstracted, were
in Frankfort under lock and key. He entered into negotiations with
Jews, and proposed to destroy his work for 90,000 marks. As the Jews
offered scarcely half that sum, the confiscation remained in force, and
Eisenmenger, deceived in all his hopes, died of vexation.

But the matter did not terminate there. Frederick I, the newly-crowned
king of Prussia, took a lively interest in the book. The attention of
this prince was keenly directed to the Jews from various causes. At the
beginning of the eighteenth century more than a thousand Jews dwelt
in his domains. The community of Berlin had grown in thirty years,
since their admission, from twelve to some seventy families. Frederick
I, who was fond of show and pomp, had no particular partiality for
Jews, but he valued them for the income derived from them. The court
jeweler, Jost Liebmann, was highly esteemed at court, because he
supplied pearls and trinkets on credit, and thus held an exceptionally
favorable position. It was said that Liebmann's wife had taken the
fancy of the prince; she later obtained the liberty of entering the
king's apartment unannounced. Through her the Jews received permission
to have a cemetery in Königsberg; but Jewish money was more highly
prized by this king than Jewish favorites. Frederick, who while elector
had thought of banishing the Jews, tolerated them for the safety tax
which they had to pay--100 ducats yearly--but they were subjected
to severe restrictions, amongst others they could not own houses and
lands. Yet they were allowed to have synagogues, first a private one
granted as a favor to the court jeweler Jost Liebmann and the family
of David Riess, an immigrant from Austria, and then, owing to frequent
disputes about rights and privileges, a public synagogue as well.

Two maliciously disposed baptized Jews, Christian Kahtz and Francis
Wenzel, sought to prejudice the new king and the population against
the Jews. "Blasphemy against Jesus"--so runs the lying charge. The
prayer "Alenu" and others were cited as proofs that the Jews pronounced
the name of Jesus with contumely, and that they spat in doing so. The
guilds not being well disposed to the Jews utilized this excitement for
fanatical persecution, and such bitter feeling arose in the cities and
villages against the Jews, that (as they expressed themselves, perhaps
knowingly exaggerating) their life was no longer safe. King Frederick
proposed a course which does honor to his good heart. He issued a
command (December, 1700) to all the presidents of departments to call
together the rabbis and, in default of them, the Jewish school-masters
and elders on a certain day, and ask them on oath whether, in uttering
or silently using the blasphemous word "va-rik," they applied it to
Jesus. The Jews everywhere solemnly declared on oath that they did
not refer to Jesus in this prayer at the place where the lacuna was
left in the prayer-books. John Henry Michaelis, the theologian, of
Halle, who was asked respecting the character of the Jews, pronounced
them innocent of the blasphemy of which they were accused. As the
king continued to suspect the Jews of reviling Jesus in thought, he
issued orders characteristic of the time (1703). He said that it was
his heart's wish to bring the people of Israel, whom the Lord had
once loved and chosen as His peculiar possession, into the Christian
communion. He did not, however, presume to exercise control over their
consciences, but would leave the conversion of the Jews to time and
God's wise counsel. Nor would he bind them by oath to refrain from
uttering in prayer the words in question. But he commanded them on pain
of punishment to refrain from those words, to utter the prayer "Alenu"
aloud, and not to spit while so doing. Spies were appointed to visit
the synagogues from time to time, as eleven centuries before in the
Byzantine empire, in order to observe whether this concluding prayer
was pronounced aloud or in a whisper.

Eisenmenger before his death, and his heirs after him, knowing that
the king of Prussia was inclined to listen to accusations against
the Jews, had applied to him to entreat Emperor Leopold to release
the book against the Jews, entitled "Judaism Unmasked," from ban and
prohibition. Frederick I interested himself warmly in the matter,
and sent a kind of petition to Emperor Leopold I (April 25, 1705)
very characteristic of the tone of that time. The king represented
that Eisenmenger had sunk all his money in this book, and had died
of vexation at the imperial prohibition. It would seem a lowering of
Christianity if the Jews were so powerful as to be able to suppress a
book written in defense of Christianity and in refutation of Jewish
errors. There was no reason to apprehend, as the Jews pretended, that
it would incite the people to a violent onslaught against them, since
similar writings had lately appeared which had done them no harm.
Eisenmenger's book aimed chiefly at the promotion of Christianity, so
that Christians might not, as had repeatedly happened some years ago,
be induced to revolt from it and become adherents of Judaism. But
Emperor Leopold would not remove the ban from Eisenmenger's book. King
Frederick repeated his request three years later, at the desire of
Eisenmenger's heirs, to Emperor Joseph I. With him also King Frederick
found no favorable hearing, and the 2,000 copies of "Judaism Unmasked"
remained at Frankfort under ban for forty years. But with Frederick's
approval a second edition was brought out at Königsberg, where the
imperial censorship had no power. For the moment it had no such effect
as the one side had hoped and the other feared; but, later on, when the
rights of Jews as men and citizens were considered, it proved an armory
for malicious or indolent opponents.

King Frederick I was often urged by enemies of the Jews to make his
royal authority a cloak for their villainy. The bright and the dark
side of the general appreciation of Jewish literature appeared clearly.
In Holland, likewise a Protestant country, a Christian scholar of this
period cherished great enthusiasm for the Mishna, the backbone of
Talmudical Judaism. William Surenhuysius, a young man of Amsterdam, in
the course of many years translated the Mishna with two commentaries
upon it into Latin (printed 1698-1703). He displayed more than the
usual amount of Dutch industry and application. Love certainly was
needed to undertake such a study, persevere in it, and finish the work
in a clear and attractive style. No language and literature present so
many difficulties as this dialect, now almost obsolete, the objects
which it describes, and the form in which it is cast. Surenhuysius sat
at the feet of Jewish teachers, of whom there were many at Amsterdam,
and he was extremely grateful for their help. But their assistance
did not enable him to dispense with industry and devotion. He was
influenced by the conviction that the oral Law, the Mishna, in its
main contents is as divine as the written word of the Bible. He
desired that Christian youths in training for theology and the clerical
profession should not yield to the seductions of classical literature,
but by engaging in the study of the Mishna should, as it were, receive
ordination beforehand.

    "He who desires to be a good and worthy disciple of Christ
    must first become a Jew, or he must first learn thoroughly the
    language and culture of the Jews, and become Moses's disciple
    before he joins the Apostles, in order that he may be able
    through Moses and the prophets to convince men that Jesus is
    the Messiah."

In this enthusiastic admiration for the corner-stone of the edifice
of Judaism, which the builders up of culture were wont to despise,
Surenhuysius included the people who owned these laws. He cordially
thanked the senate of Amsterdam because it specially protected the Jews.

    "In the measure in which this people once surpassed all other
    peoples, you give it preference, worthy men! The old renown and
    dignity, which this people and the citizens of Jerusalem once
    possessed, are yours. For the Jews are sincerely devoted to
    you, not overcome by force of arms, but won over by humanity
    and wisdom; they come to you, and are happy to obey your
    republican government."

Surenhuysius was outspoken in his displeasure against those who having
learned what served their interest from the Scriptures of the Jews,
reviled and threw mud at them, "like highwaymen, who, having robbed
an honest man of all his clothes, beat him to death, and send him
away with scorn." He formed a plan to make the whole of Rabbinical
literature accessible to the learned world through the Latin language.
While Surenhuysius of Amsterdam felt such enthusiasm for this, not
the most brilliant, side of Judaism, and saw in it a means to promote
Christianity (in which view he did not stand alone), a vile Polish
Jew, named Aaron Margalita, an apostate to Christianity for the sake
of gain, brought fresh accusations of blasphemy before King Frederick
of Prussia against an utterly harmless part of Jewish literature--
the old Agada. An edition of the Midrash Rabba (1705), published at
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, was accordingly put under a ban by the king's
command, until Christian theologians should pronounce judgment upon it.

The best result of this taste for Jewish literature on the part of
learned Christians, and of the literary works promoted thereby was an
interesting historical work concerning Jews and Judaism, which may be
said to have terminated the old, and foreshadowed a new epoch. Jacob
Basnage (born 1653, died 1723), of noble character, a Protestant
theologian, a solid historian, a pleasant author, and a person held in
high esteem generally, rendered incalculable service to Judaism. He
sifted the results of the laborious researches of scholars, popularized
them, and made them accessible to all educated circles. In his
assiduous historical inquiries, especially as to the development of
the Church, Basnage met Jews at almost every step. He had a suspicion
that the Jewish people had not, as ordinary theologians thought, become
utterly bankrupt through the loss of its political independence and
the spread of Christianity, a doomed victim, the ghost of its former
self. The great sufferings of this people and its rich literature
inspired him with awe. His sense of truth with regard to historical
events would not allow him to dismiss facts or explain them away with
empty phrases. Basnage undertook to compile the history of the Jews or
the Jewish religion, so far as it was known to him, from Jesus down to
his own times. He labored on this work for more than five years. It
was intended to continue the history of the Jewish historian Flavius
Josephus after the dispersion of the Jewish people. Basnage strove, as
far as was possible for a staunch Protestant at that time, to present
and judge events in an impartial manner.

    "Christians may not be surprised that we often acquit the
    Jews of crimes of which they are not guilty, since justice
    so requires. No partiality is implied in accusing those of
    injustice and oppression who have been guilty of them. We
    have no intention to injure the Jews any more than to flatter
    them.... In the decay and dregs of centuries men have adopted
    a spirit of cruelty and barbarism towards the Jews. They were
    accused of being the cause of all the disasters which happened,
    and charged with a multitude of crimes of which they never
    even dreamed. Numberless miracles were invented to convict
    them, or rather the better to satisfy hatred under the shade
    of religion. We have made a collection of laws, which councils
    and princes published against them, by means of which people
    can judge of the malice of the former and the oppression of
    the latter. Men did not, however, confine themselves to the
    edicts, but everywhere military executions, popular riots,
    and massacres took place. Yet, by a miracle of Providence,
    which must excite the astonishment of all Christians, this
    hated nation, persecuted in all places for a great number of
    centuries, still exists everywhere.... Peoples and kings,
    heathens, Christians, and Mahometans, opposed to one another in
    so many points, have agreed in the purpose of destroying this
    nation, and have not succeeded. The bush of Moses, surrounded
    by flames, has ever burned without being consumed. The Jews
    have been driven out of all the cities of the world, and this
    has only served to spread them abroad in all cities. They still
    live in spite of the contempt and hatred which follow them
    everywhere, while the greatest monarchies have fallen, and are
    known to us only by name."

Basnage, who by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes through the
Catholic intolerance of Louis XIV was banished to Holland, could to
some degree appreciate the feelings of the Jews during their long
exile. He had acquired sufficient knowledge of Jewish literature to
consult the authorities in the execution of his work. The historical
works of Abraham ibn Daud, Ibn Yachya, Ibn Verga, David Gans, and
others were not neglected; they served Basnage as building material
wherewith to rear the great fabric of Jewish history of the sixteen
centuries since the origin of Christianity.

But Basnage was not sufficiently an artist to unroll before the eye in
glowing colors, even if in images fleeting as the mist, the sublime
or tragic scenes of Jewish history. Nor had he the talent to mass
together or marshal in groups and detachments facts widely scattered
in consequence of the peculiar course of this people's history.
One can feel in Basnage's presentation that he was oppressed and
overpowered by the superabundance of details. He jumbled together times
and occurrences in motley confusion, divided the history into two
unnatural halves, the East and the West, and described in conjunction
events without connection. Of the deep inner springs of the life and
deeds of the nation he had no comprehension. His Protestant creed
hindered him; he saw Jewish history only through the thick mist of
Church history. Despite his efforts to be impartial and honest, he
could not rid himself of the belief that the "Jews are rejected because
they have rejected Jesus." In short, Basnage's "History of the Religion
of the Jews" has a thousand faults. Hardly a single sentence can be
regarded as perfectly just and in accordance with the truth.

Yet the appearance of this work was of great importance to the Jews.
It circulated in the educated world a mass of historical information,
crude and distorted though it was, because it was written in the
fashionable French language, and this seed shot up everywhere
luxuriantly. A people, which, despite bloody persecutions, without
a home, with no spot on the whole earth where it could lay its head
or place its foot, yet possessed a history not wholly devoid of
splendor--such a people was not like a gipsy horde, but must find
ever-increasing consideration. Without his knowledge or intention, even
whilst casting many an aspersion upon the Jewish race, Basnage paved
the way to raising it from its abject condition. Christian Theophilus
Unger, a pastor in Silesia, and John Christopher Wolf, professor of
Oriental languages in Hamburg, who were busily and earnestly engaged in
the study of Jewish literature and history, became Basnage's disciples,
and without his work could not have effected so much as they did in
this field. Both, especially Wolf, filled many gaps which Basnage had
left, and evinced a certain degree of warmth for the cause.

The admiration, or at least sympathy, felt for the Jews at this time,
induced John Toland (an Irishman, the courageous opponent of fossilized
Christianity) to raise his voice on behalf of their equality with
Christians in England and Ireland. This was the first word spoken
in favor of their emancipation. But the people, in whose favor this
remarkable revulsion of sentiment had taken place in the educated
world, was without knowledge of it, and felt no change in popular



  Low Condition of the Jews at the End of the Seventeenth Century--
    Representatives of Culture: David Nieto, Jehuda Brieli--The
    Kabbala--Jewish Chroniclers--Lopez Laguna translates the
    Psalms into Spanish--De Barrios--The Race after Wealth--
    General Poverty of the Jews--Revival of Sabbatianism--Daniel
    Israel Bonafoux, Cardoso, Mordecai of Eisenstadt, Jacob Querido,
    and Berachya--Sabbatianism in Poland--Abraham Cuenqui--
    Judah Chassid--Chayim Malach--Solomon Ayllon--Nehemiah
    Chayon--David Oppenheim's Famous Library--Chacham Zevi--The
    Controversy on Chayon's Heretical Works in Amsterdam.

1700-1725 C. E.

At the time when the eyes of the civilized world were directed upon the
Jewish race with a certain degree of sympathy and admiration, and when,
at the dawn of enlightenment in the so-called philosophical century,
ecclesiastical prejudices were beginning to disappear, the members of
this race were making a by no means favorable impression upon those
with whom they came into contact. Weighed in the balance, they were
found wanting even by their well-wishers. The Jews were at no time in
so pitiful a plight as at the end of the seventeenth and beginning
of the eighteenth century. Several circumstances had contributed to
render them utterly demoralized and despised. The former teachers of
Europe, through the sad course of centuries, had become childish, or
worse, dotards. Every public or historical act of the Jews bears this
character of imbecility, if not contemptibility. There was not a single
cheering event, hardly a person commanding respect who could worthily
represent Judaism, and bring it into estimation. The strong-minded,
manly Orobio de Castro (died in 1687), the former victim of the
Inquisition, whose fidelity to conviction, whose dignity, and the
acumen with which he contested Christianity commanded the respect of
the leading opponents of Judaism, was indeed still living. But he left
no successor of equal standing within the highly cultured community
of Amsterdam, certainly not outside of it, where the conditions for
an independent Jewish personality possessed of culture were entirely
wanting. The leaders of the community were for the most part led
astray, wandering as in a dream, and stumbling at every step. But few
rabbis occupied themselves with any branch of knowledge beyond the
Talmud, or entered on a new path in this study. The exceptions can
be counted. Rabbi David Nieto, of London (born 1654, died 1728), was
a man of culture. He was a physician, understood mathematics, was
sufficiently able to defend Judaism against calumnies, and, besides
many platitudes, wrote much that was reasonable. The Italian rabbi,
Jehuda Leon Brieli, of Mantua (born about 1643, died 1722), was
also an important personage--a man of sound views, of solid, even
philosophical knowledge, whose style in the vernacular was elegant, and
who knew how to defend Judaism against Christian aggressiveness. Brieli
had the courage to disregard two customs, which was accounted worse
than criminal by his contemporaries: he remained unmarried all his
life, and though a rabbi, did not wear a beard. But Brieli's influence
on his Jewish contemporaries was very slight. He knew the weaknesses
of Christianity, but had not the same sharp vision for the faults of
Judaism and the Jews. Of the mischievous nature of the Zohar and the
Kabbala generally, however, Brieli was thoroughly aware; he wished that
they had not seen the light of day; but his critical knowledge extended
no further.

For the rest, the rabbis of this period were not models, the Poles
and Germans being for the most part pitiable figures, their heads
filled with unprofitable knowledge, otherwise ignorant and helpless
as little children. The Portuguese rabbis presented a dignified,
imposing appearance, but they were shallow. The Italians bore more
resemblance to the Germans, but had not their learning. Thus, with no
guides acquainted with the road, sunk in ignorance, or filled with
conceit, beset with phantoms, the Jews in all parts of the world
without exception were passing from one absurdity to another, and
allowing themselves to be imposed upon by jugglers and visionaries. Any
absurdity, however transparent, provided it was apparently vindicated
with religious earnestness, and interlarded with strained verses of
Scripture, or sayings from the Talmud artificially explained, or
garnished with scraps of the Kabbala, was persistently believed and
propagated. "The minds of men, estranged from life and true knowledge,
exhausted their powers in subtleties and the superstitious errors of
the Kabbala. Teachers spoke seldom or only in the words of the Talmud
to their scholars; no attention was paid to delivery, for there was no
language and no eloquence." The culminating point of the Middle Ages
was reached in Jewish history at a time when it had been passed by
the most of Western Europe. The spread of superstitious usages with a
coating of religion was in no wise checked. To write amulets (Kamea)
for the exorcism of diseases was required of the rabbis, and they
devoted themselves to this work; many wished to be thought conjurors
of spirits. A rabbi, Simon Baki at Casale in Italy, complained to his
master, the foolish Kabbalist Moses Zacut at Venice, that he had used
the prescribed formulas of conjuration for a woman at Turin supposed to
be possessed, without any successful result. Thereupon the latter gave
him more efficacious means, viz., whilst using God's name in prayer,
he was to hold burning sulphur to the nose of the possessed. The more
sensitive she was, and the more she struggled against the remedy, the
more might he be convinced that she was possessed by an evil spirit.
An instructed Jew of the Kabbalist school of Damascus once boasted
seriously before the free-thinking critic Richard Simon, that he could
evoke a genius of a high order, and began to make preparations. The
incredulous Father followed his movements with a satirical smile, and
the conjuror got out of the predicament with the remark that the soil
of France was not suited for apparitions.

To elevate Judaism in the eyes of the nations and to represent it
in a manner worthy of respect was at this time not in the power of
the Jews. They rather degraded and made it contemptible. Thoughtful
Christians stood astonished before this wonderful monument of history,
this people with its learning and its alternately glorious and tragic
destiny; but its own sons were too dull to feel their own greatness, or
sought it only in silly stories and absurd actions. Whilst Christians
industriously and with feelings of amazement investigated the history
of the Jews during three thousand years, the Jews had no such feeling,
not even the cultivated Portuguese Jews. Manasseh ben Israel had
outlined a history of the Jews, and probably suggested Basnage's work,
but he did not accomplish his own design. Three historians, indeed, are
named as belonging to this time--the itinerant rabbi David Conforte,
secondly, Miguel (Daniel) de Barrios, a Marrano, born in Portugal, who
returned to Judaism at Amsterdam, and lastly the Polish rabbi Jechiel
Heilperin, of Minsk. But all three resemble the monkish chroniclers of
the barbarous ages, and their style is more repulsive than attractive.

If literature is the true photograph of the thoughts and aspirations
of an age, then the century between Spinoza and Mendelssohn, judged
by its literary productions, must have had very ugly features. A
good deal, it is true, was written and published; every rabbi by a
fresh contribution to the already stupendous pile of Rabbinical matter
essayed to perpetuate his name, to secure his future bliss, and withal
to earn a pittance. Subtle Rabbinical commentaries, insipid sermons,
and books of devotion, acrimonious controversial writings were the
emanations of the Jewish mind or lack of mind at this time. The flower
of poetry found no soil in this quagmire. This age produced only two
Jewish poets, genuine sons of the Jewish muse, who lived at a great
distance from each other, one in the island of Jamaica, the other in
Italy--Lopez Laguna and Luzzatto--as if the old Jewish trunk,
crownless and leafless, wished to reveal the life at its heart and
prove its capability to renew its youth even under the most unfavorable
circumstances. Lopez Laguna, born a Marrano in France (about 1660,
died after 1720), came when but a youth to Spain, where he made the
acquaintance of the horrible Inquisition. In his night of suffering,
the Psalms, full of tender feeling, brought light and hope to him as to
so many of his companions in sorrow. Released from prison, and having
escaped to Jamaica, Laguna, under the Jewish name of Daniel Israel,
attuned his harp to the holy songs which had revived his soul. To
make the Psalms accessible to others, especially to Marranos ignorant
of Hebrew, he made a faithful translation of them into melodious,
elegant Spanish verse. This psalter, "a mirror of life," Daniel Israel
Lopez Laguna took to London, where his work procured him a triumphant
reception from several minor poets and also from three Jewish
poetesses, Sarah de Fonseca Pinto y Pimentel, Manuela Nuñez da Almeida,
and Bienvenida Coen Belmonte, who addressed him in Latin, English,
Portuguese, and Spanish verses.

Moses Chayim Luzzatto, a victim to the dreary errors of this time,
composed two Hebrew dramas full of beauty and youthful freshness.
With the exception of these poetical flowers this long period shows a
colorless waste. Daniel de Barrios, captain, historian, and beggar,
cannot be reckoned a poet, although he composed an astonishing number
of Spanish, as well as Hebrew rhymes, besides several Spanish dramas,
and he sang before, and without shame begged of, nearly every Jewish
and Christian magnate who possessed a full purse.

Not only the scientific and artistic spirit, but also the moral sense
was lost, or at least blunted in this general demoralization. The
fundamental virtues of the Jewish race continued to exist even at
this time in undiminished strength--idyllic family love, brotherly
sympathy towards one another, and chastity. Gross vices and crimes
occurred even then but seldom in the tents of Jacob. Thoroughly corrupt
outcasts were considerate enough to leave it, and to pollute the church
or the mosque with their immorality. But the feeling of right and honor
amongst Jews was on the whole weakened. There was a lowering in tone
of that tender conscience, which with a sort of maiden shame avoids
even what the precepts of religion and the paragraphs of the civil code
leave unforbidden. To make money was so imperious a necessity that ways
and means became indifferent, and were not exposed to censure. To take
undue advantage, and to overreach, not merely a hostile population,
but even their own co-religionists, was regarded for the most part
not as a disgrace, but rather as a kind of heroic action. From this
sprang worship of Mammon, not merely love, but also respect for gold,
no matter how impure its source. The democratic equality hitherto
maintained amongst Jews, who refused to recognize distinctions of class
and caste, was lost in the furious dance round the golden calf. The
rich man was held worthy of honor--one to whom those less kindly
favored by fortune looked up as to something higher, and in whom they
therefore overlooked many failings. The richest, not the most worthy,
were made the managers of the community, and were granted a charter for
arbitrary conduct and arrogance. A satire of the period scourges very
severely the almighty power of money, to which all bowed down. "The
dollar binds and looses, it raises the ignorant to the chief offices in
the community."

Increasing poverty among Jews was partly the cause of this state of
affairs. Only among the small number of Portuguese Jews at Amsterdam,
Hamburg, Leghorn, Florence, and London, there were men of considerable
wealth. Isaac (Antonio) Suasso, created Baron Alvernes de Gras by
Charles II, of Spain, was able to advance to William III, for his
semi-adventurous expedition to London to obtain the English crown, two
million florins without interest, with the simple words, "If you are
fortunate, you will repay them to me; if not, I am willing to lose
them." The millionaires at Amsterdam were the Pintos, the Belmontes,
David Bueno de Mesquito, Francisco Melo, who rendered many services to
Holland by his wealth. One of the De Pintos bequeathed several millions
for noble objects, making provision for Jewish communities, the state,
Christian orphanages, clergy, clerks, and sextons. At Hamburg there
were the Texeiras, who were related by marriage to Suasso, and Daniel
Abensur, able to make large advances to the poor rulers of Poland.
On the other hand, the Polish, German, and also the Italian and the
Oriental Jews, were extremely impoverished. The changes which commerce
had experienced brought about this alteration. The Jews could no longer
practice usury, they had no capital, or rather Christian capitalists
competed with them. Poorest of all were the Polish Jews,--they who
used to lord it over all the Jews in Europe. They could not recover
from the wounds which the Cossack disturbances had inflicted on them,
and the disruption of the Polish kingdom that followed caused them
fresh troubles. The increasing poverty of the Polish Jews every year
drove swarms of beggars to the west and south of Europe. They resorted
to the large communities to procure shelter and food from their rich
brethren. Polish students of the Talmud, superior to all other Jews in
knowledge of the Talmud, went principally to the important rabbinates,
Prague, Nikolsburg, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, and
even to Italian communities. Every Polish emigrant was, or proclaimed
himself to be, a rabbi or preacher, and was so regarded. Many of
them were a disgrace to the rabbinical office, for which they had no
qualifications, either mental or moral. They fawned on the rich from
need and habit. From them sprang the ever-increasing demoralization
among Jews. To their care, or rather to their neglect, were entrusted
the Jewish youth, who, as soon as they could talk, were introduced to
the Talmud, after the sophistical, artificial method. Through this
perversity the language of the German Jews, like that of the Poles,
degenerated into a repulsive stammer, and their manner of thinking and
love of disputation into crabbed dogmatism that defied all logic. Their
feeling for simplicity and truth was lost, and even the Portuguese
Jews, who kept themselves aloof from the odious jargon, did not remain
uncontaminated by the perverse manner of thinking prevalent at the time.

Added to this was the fact that the mud-streams of Sabbatian fanaticism
burst forth afresh. They besmirched all who came in contact with
them, but, nevertheless, they were regarded as a pure stream from
the fountain-head of the Deity. Their one good effect was that they
stirred up, and set in motion the stagnant swamp; or, to speak without
metaphor, the sluggish routine in which the Jews lived was broken,
and the rabbis, dull with unfruitful learning, were roused to a
certain degree of passion and energy. After Sabbataï's death one of
his followers, Daniel Israel Bonafoux, an ignorant officiating reader
(Chazan) at Smyrna, kept up the faith in the dead Messiah by all sorts
of jugglery. At one time he pretended to have seen a moving fire-ball;
at another, to have heard a voice say that Sabbataï was still alive,
and would reign forever. The community at Smyrna bribed the Kadi to
banish him from the city, but Daniel Israel took up his residence in
the neighborhood of Smyrna, and encouraged the sect to persevere in its
belief. He was aided and abetted by Abraham Michael Cardoso of Tripoli,
who reappeared on this stage, where he found a conventicle of Sabbatian
associates, who flocked round him, because with his scientific
education, his culture, and fluency of speech, he was far superior to
them. Cardoso announced dreams and visions, declared himself Sabbataï
Zevi's successor, the Ephraimite Messiah, practiced extraordinary
impositions, and visited graves to be inspired by departed spirits,
and obtain predictions to suit his theory. This consisted in the
blasphemous assumption that there are two Gods--one the First Cause,
incomprehensible, without will and influence over the universe; the
other the God of Israel, the actual Creator of the world, and Lawgiver
of the Jewish people, who alone should be worshiped. But the rabbis
of Smyrna put a stop to Cardoso's proceedings, threatened him with
death, and compelled him to leave Sabbataï Zevi's birthplace. He betook
himself thence to Constantinople with his Smyrna adherents, later
pursued his mischievous behavior at Adrianople, Rhodosto, in Egypt, the
Archipelago, and Candia; now as Messiah, now as physician, composed
numerous treatises on the advent of the Messianic kingdom, expounded
his theosophical-dualistic theory, incurred debts, drew women into his
Kabbalistic conventicle, and is said to have lived immorally even to
old age. At last Cardoso was stabbed by his nephew, who believed that
he had been cheated by him (1706). His imposture did not cease with his
death; for his writings, a mixture of sense and nonsense, were eagerly
read, and inflamed men's minds. Abraham Michael Cardoso remained at
least faithful to Judaism, did not reverence Sabbataï Zevi as divine,
vehemently contended against this blasphemy, and did not go over to
Mahometanism. His prophet, Daniel Israel Bonafoux, on the other hand,
assumed the turban, probably on account of the persecution suffered at
the hands of the rabbinate of Smyrna.

Far more important was the Kabbalistic fanaticism spread by an
itinerant Sabbatian preacher, and transplanted to Poland, where it
found congenial soil, and maintained its ground tenaciously. Mordecai
of Eisenstadt (Mochiach), even after the death of the renegade,
remained his faithful follower. A disciple of Nathan and partisan of
Cardoso, he returned to his home from the East, was of prepossessing
appearance and awe-inspiring features, lived an ascetic life, fasted
eleven days in succession, preached in Hungary, Moravia, Bohemia, and
Italy with much impressiveness on penitence and contrition--in fact,
played the part of a Jewish Vincent Ferrer. The applause which his
preaching excited awakened his confidence, and he gave himself out as
a prophet. In word and writing the preacher of Eisenstadt maintained
that Sabbataï Zevi was the true Messiah, obliged to become a Mussulman
by high mystical dispensation. The Hungarian, Moravian, and Bohemian
Jews listened to these Sabbatian preachings and prophecies with eager
interest. The Sabbatian frenzy had so blunted their power of thought
that they were not offended at the notion of a new Messiah who had
apostatized from Judaism. Mordecai went further in his folly, gave
himself out as the true Messiah of the house of David, and maintained
that he was Sabbataï Zevi risen from the dead. The latter had not
been able to accomplish the work of redemption, because he was rich.
The Messiah must be poor; therefore he, Mordecai, being poor and
persecuted, was the true redeemer. All this nonsense was accepted with
credulous devotion. Some Italian Jews formally invited the Hungarian
Messiah to come to them, and he obeyed the summons. At Modena and
Reggio he was received with enthusiasm. He talked of his mission--that
he must go to Rome in order to make Messianic preparations in the
sinful city. He cunningly hinted that he might be obliged to assume a
Christian disguise, as Sabbataï Zevi had been obliged to veil himself
in Turkish clothing: that is, in case of need he would apparently
submit to baptism. Some Jews appear to have betrayed his plans to the
Roman Inquisition, and his Italian followers advised him to leave
Italy. He went once more to Bohemia, but could not find a footing
there, and emigrated to Poland. Here, whither only a dim rumor of
Sabbataï and the Sabbatians had penetrated, he found, it appears,
numerous followers; for a sect was formed there which pursued its
baneful career until the beginning of the age of Mendelssohn, and even
beyond that period.

At the same time the old imposture reappeared under new forms in
Turkey. Sabbataï Zevi had left a widow, the daughter of Joseph
Philosoph of Salonica, a learned Talmudist. She is said either from
ambition or, as her enemies declared, from licentious motives, to have
led the Sabbatians into fresh frenzy. Having returned to Salonica, she
is said to have passed off her brother, Jacob (surnamed Querido, the
favorite), as her son by Sabbataï Zevi. This boy, who received the name
of Jacob Zevi, became an object of devout reverence to the Sabbatians.
They believed that in him the united souls of the two Messiahs of
the houses of Joseph and David were born again; he was therefore to
be regarded as the true redeemer, the genuine successor of Sabbataï.
This new fantastic idea found the more adherents because Querido's
own father, Joseph Philosoph, a man deeply versed in the Talmud, and
another learned Talmudist, Solomon Florentin, joined the believers,
and supported the new claimant. The widow of the Messiah and her
brother Querido are said straightway to have recommended and practiced
sexual indulgence as a means of promoting the work of redemption. The
sinfulness of the world, they maintained, could be overcome only by a
superabundance of sin, by the extremest degree of licentiousness. Among
these Salonica Sabbatians, then, shameless profligacy, even incest,
were openly practiced--so their enemies declared. One thing only
is certain, marriage was not regarded as sacred among these people.
According to the perverse teachings of the Luryan school of Kabbalists,
women who were not acceptable to their husbands, being a hindrance
to a harmonious mystical marriage, could be divorced without further
ceremony, and made over to others, who felt themselves attracted to
them. This precept was only too eagerly obeyed in the mystical circle.
It was a peculiar sort of "elective affinity." Several hundreds in
Salonica belonged to this Sabbatian sect, chiefly young people. Amongst
them was a young man named Solomon Ayllon, afterwards rabbi in London
and Amsterdam, who shared in the prevailing loose life. He married a
wife, as the one appointed by heaven, whom another man had forsaken
without formal divorce, and she was carried off from him by a third.
The Sabbatians of Salonica stood in close connection with other members
of the sect in Adrianople and Smyrna.

The rabbis could not regard this disorder with indifference, and
denounced the offenders to the Turkish authorities. The latter
instituted investigations, and sentenced them to severe punishments.
But the Sabbatians had learned from their founder a means of appeasing
the anger of Turkish rulers. They all, to the number of four hundred
it is said, assumed the white turban (about 1687), and displayed
more earnestness than Sabbataï in their newly-adopted faith. The
pseudo-Messiah Jacob Zevi Querido with many of his followers made
a pilgrimage to Mecca, in order to pray at the tomb of the prophet
Mahomet. On the journey back he died at Alexandria. The leadership of
the Turco-Jewish sect at Salonica was afterwards undertaken by his son
Berachya, or Barochya (about 1695-1740). He also was regarded as the
successor of Sabbataï Zevi, as the embodiment of the original soul of
the Messiah, as the incarnate Deity. His followers lived under the
name Dolmäh (properly Donmäh), that is, apostates from Judaism, a sect
distinct alike from Jews and Turks, who married only one another,
and attended the mosques now and then, but more frequently assembled
in secret for their own mystical service, to worship their redeemer
and man-God. There are still in Salonica descendants of the sect
of Sabbataï-Querido-Berachya, who observe a mixture of Kabbalistic
and Turkish usages. Of Judaism they retained only circumcision on
the eighth day and the Song of Solomon, the love dialogues and
monologues of which left them free play for mystical and licentious
interpretations. Recently the sultan granted the Donmäh, now said to
number 4,000 members, the free exercise of their religion.

In spite, perhaps on account of these excesses on the part of the
Sabbatians of Salonica, opposed alike to Judaism and morality, they
continually found fresh supporters, who clung to the delusion with
pertinacity, deceived themselves and others, and gave impostors an
opportunity to profit by this fanatical humor. From the East and
from Poland secret Sabbatians crossed to and fro, from the latter
as itinerant preachers, from the former as pretended messengers from
the Holy Land, and continually incited to fresh errors. The emissary
Abraham Cuenqui, from Hebron, who in Poland and Germany claimed charity
for the poor of that city, at the request of a mystic gave a glowing
description of the life of Sabbataï, whom he had seen and admired in
his youth. This biography, a sort of Sabbatian gospel, is an excellent
example of how in the field of religion history takes the shape of
myth, and myth again transforms itself into history. In Poland,
probably at the instigation of the crazy Mordecai of Eisenstadt, there
arose a Sabbatian sect, which believed that it was hastening the
advent of the kingdom of heaven by penitence. At its head stood two
men, Judah Chassid (the pious) of Dubno, a narrow-minded simpleton,
and Chayim Malach, a cunning Talmudist. Both agitated the people by
exciting sermons, and found an applauding audience, who joined them
in penances and Kabbalistic extravagances. The association was called
Chassidim. In Poland ignorance was so great that the rabbis themselves
did not recognize the power and mischievous tendency of these Sabbatian
enthusiasts. From 1,300 to 1,500 of this sect, under Judah Chassid,
emigrated from Poland at the beginning of the year 1700, intending to
journey to the Holy Land, to await redemption there. Like the Christian
flagellants of old, these so-called devotees distinguished themselves
by fasting many days, and by mortifications of every kind. The leaders
wore on the Sabbath white garments of satin or cloth, whereby they
intended to signify the time of grace. Wherever they went in Germany,
they preached, and exhorted to strict penance. Judah Chassid by his
powerful voice, his gestures, and bitter tears, carried away his
hearers. He wrought especially upon the weak minds of women, to whom,
contrary to custom, he was wont to preach, with a Torah roll under his
arm, in the women's gallery. While the greater number of the Chassidim
were assembling in Moravia and Hungary, Judah Chassid traveled with
about 150 persons through Germany from Altona to Frankfort-on-the-Main
and Vienna, everywhere preaching, wailing, and warning. The sect,
especially in the larger communities, was richly supported. On account
of the concourse of men and women who flocked to these sectarians, the
rabbis did not venture to oppose their proceedings. Samuel Oppenheim,
the rich court Jew at Vienna, supported the Chassidim richly, and
procured passports for them to the East.

The enthusiasm of this sect soon came to an end. On the first day
after their arrival in Jerusalem their principal leader Judah Chassid
died; his followers were helpless, and instead of speedy redemption
found only horrible misery. Some of the Chassidim, therefore,
disappointed and in despair, went over to Islam. The rest dispersed
in all directions. Many were baptized as Christians, amongst them
Judah Chassid's nephew, Wolf Levi of Lublin, who took the name of
Francis Lothair Philippi; another nephew, Isaiah Chassid, afterwards
caused fresh Sabbatian disturbances. Chayim Malach, however, who made
the acquaintance of the aged Samuel Primo, Sabbataï Zevi's private
secretary and counselor, remained for several years in Jerusalem, and
presided over a small Sabbatian sect. He also taught the doctrine
of two Gods or three Gods, and of the Divine incarnation, paid
Sabbataï Zevi divine reverence, and is said to have carried about his
image, carved in wood, in the synagogue, to be worshiped, and his
followers are said to have danced round it. Chayim Malach aimed at
the destruction of Rabbinical Judaism or Judaism in general. It is
incomprehensible how the community of Jerusalem could have witnessed
his proceedings for years without opposing them. Probably the rabbis
there shared the Sabbatian idolatry, or profited by it. However, Chayim
Malach seems at length to have been banished from Jerusalem. He then
betook himself to the Mahometan Sabbatians at Salonica, the Donmäh,
took part in their extravagances, then went about preaching in several
Turkish communities, and openly taught the Sabbatian imposture. At
Constantinople he was excommunicated, and on his second residence in
that community was banished by Chacham Bashi (about 1709). He thereupon
returned through Germany to Poland, scattering the seed of Sabbatian
heresy, destined to undermine Judaism. His death is said to have been
due to excessive drinking.

At the same time that Malach was sowing seed-grains in Poland for
the process of dissolution, the torch of discord was hurled into the
Jewish camp by two disguised Sabbatians, Chayon and Ayllon. The one
through imposture, the other through stubbornness and dogmatism,
promoted a movement which presents very unpleasant features. Solomon
Ayllon (born about 1667, died 1728), of Spanish descent, was born at
Safet, and his mind was filled with the errors of the Kabbala. In his
youth he fell in with the Sabbatians of Salonica, and in part shared
their extravagances. Later he went to Leghorn, and after the death
of the worthy and accomplished rabbi, Jacob Abendana, was invited to
London to fill his place (1696-1707). Ayllon had enemies in London
who, having heard of his not wholly irreproachable youth, implored one
rabbi after another to procure his dismissal from office. From dread
of the public scandal which would arise were it known that a former
adherent of the notorious Sabbataï had officiated as rabbi, all who
were consulted advised that the ugly story be forgotten. Ayllon was not
distinguished in any branch of learning, not even in knowledge of the
Talmud, nor could he have had an over-scrupulous conscience. While
treating for the post of rabbi at Amsterdam, the London community being
unwilling to lose him, he swore a solemn oath that he would not accept
the post offered to him, although he had already given his consent to
the Amsterdam council, and actually accepted the office. He palliated
his conduct in a sophistical and Jesuitical manner. His youthful
predilection for Sabbatian errors, which he does not appear entirely
to have abandoned even as rabbi of Amsterdam, induced Ayllon to give
his aid to an arrant rogue, and thereby to help in producing profound
dissensions in the Jewish world.

This arch-impostor, who in hypocrisy, audacity, and unscrupulousness
had but few equals in the eighteenth century, so rich in impostors,
was Nehemiah Chiya Chayon (born about 1650, died after 1726). He took
especial delight in mystification and extravagances, and from his
youth led an adventurous, easy life of dissimulation. The career of
this Kabbalistic adventurer is characteristic of the demoralization of
the age in various ways. Chayon received his Talmudical instruction
at Hebron, where the Sabbatian intoxication had made many victims. He
possessed considerable logical acuteness, was ready at discovering
contradictions and incongruities; but his giddy brain and cold
heart, bent on the satisfaction of low cravings, induced him to make
corrupt use of his powers. Of the Talmud and Rabbinical literature he
understood enough to be able to appear at home in them, but he had no
real attraction to these studies, nor any religious feeling. He was
observant from hypocrisy; when not watched, he disregarded the demands
of religion and morality. He could assume a serious, awe-inspiring
manner, and held men enthralled by his attractive appearance, his
Kabbalistic scraps, and his mysterious demeanor. He generally enacted
the part of a saint, at the same time singing love-songs and
associating with women. He was, as he himself confessed, in close
relation with the Sabbatians at Salonica, and had taken trouble to
get possession of their writings. He frequently conversed with their
leader, Samuel Primo, about Kabbalistic projects. It is said that
in one of these interviews he proposed a new doctrine of a Trinity.
He composed a work in which he maintained that Judaism, to be sure
Kabbalistic Judaism, inculcated belief in a triune God. With this
manuscript in his otherwise empty coffer he went to Smyrna, in the
spring of the year 1708, intending to seek his fortune either with
the Sabbatians or with their opponents. He did, in fact, succeed in
hoodwinking some rich men of Smyrna. His patrons pledged themselves
mutually and to Chayon to give him powerful support. The arch-rogue was
treated at Smyrna as a holy prophet, and nearly the whole community
escorted him to the ship which was to convey him back to Palestine. His
schemes were for the moment crowned with success. But before Chayon
could settle down, the rabbinate of Jerusalem launched a sentence of
excommunication against him, condemned his work, which they had not
even read, to be burned (June 1708), and refused to give a hearing to
the author. This gross blunder revenged itself afterwards. For the
moment, however, Chayon was defeated. As one formally interdicted by
the chief college in Palestine, he could not settle anywhere. The
enthusiasm of his patrons in Smyrna was extinguished as quickly as it
had blazed up, for the favor of men is changeable.

Thus Chayon after a few days of good fortune was again reduced to
mendicancy. In Italy, whither he had gone after leaving Egypt, and
where he spent some years begging (1709-1711), his schemes met with
little sympathy. At Venice only he met with some consideration from
rabbis and the laity. Here he printed a small pamphlet, an extract
from his larger work, wherein he openly set forth the Trinity as an
article of the Jewish faith, not the Christian Trinity, but three
persons (Parzufim) in the Godhead, the holy Primeval One, or Soul of
all Souls, the Holy King, or incarnation of Deity, and a female Person
(the Shechina). This nonsense, an insult to Judaism and its conception
of God, was repeated by Chayon in doggerel, which he recommended as
edifying prayers for the especially pious. Bold and venturesome, he
interwove with the first verses the words of a low Italian song, "Fair
Margaret." And this blasphemous pamphlet ("Secret of the Trinity,"
"Raza di Yechuda") was accepted and recommended by the rabbinate of
Venice, either because they had not seen it before it was printed, or
because by reason of Kabbalistic stupidity they did not perceive its
drift. Chayon did not stay long at Venice. He betook himself to Prague,
where he found credulous faith, favorable to his work of deception.
The leaders of the community, old and young rabbis and students of the
Talmud, were all filled with it.

David Oppenheim, chief rabbi of Prague, more famous for his rich
collection of books than on account of his deeds and literary work,
was an inveterate Kabbalist. To be sure he had no leisure to concern
himself about the itinerant preacher Chayon, or the affairs of the
community and the interest of Judaism. He needed his time for money
transactions with the funds which, together with a considerable
library, his rich uncle at Vienna, Samuel Oppenheim, had left him.
David Oppenheim, therefore, seldom met Chayon; but his son Joseph, who
was enchanted with his Kabbalistic juggling, took him into his house.
He was well received also by the Kabbalistic rabbi, Naphtali Cohen, who
was then living at Prague, and whose thaumaturgy had cost him dear.
And if the house of Oppenheim, and Naphtali Cohen paid him homage, who
would fail to exert himself for the pretended preacher or emissary
from Palestine, as Chayon professed to be? No wonder that industrious
youthful students of the Talmud, thirsting for knowledge, thronged to
Chayon! Among these was Jonathan Eibeschütz, afterwards so notorious,
who was living at that time in Prague. Chayon preached sermons at
Prague, and entranced his hearers by his sophistical and witty manner,
which made the most inconsistent things appear reconcilable. Now and
then he allowed the erroneous doctrine of the Salonica Sabbatians to
crop out, viz., that sin can be overcome only by a superabundance of
sinfulness, by the satisfaction of all, even the most wicked, desires,
and by the transgression of the Torah. He told his Prague adherents, or
caused it to be circulated by his Venetian companion, that he conversed
with the prophet Elijah, that he could compel the Godhead to reveal
itself to him, and that he was able to call the dead to life and to
create new worlds--all of which found credence. He wrote amulets,
which were eagerly sought after, and at the same time in secret led
a profligate life. The money derived from imposture he wasted in
card-playing. At last he ventured to submit his heretical work, his
Sabbatian confession of faith in the Trinity, to Naphtali Cohen for
his opinion, and showed him forged testimonials from Italian rabbis.
From admiration for Chayon's person Naphtali Cohen, without even having
glanced at the manuscript, expressed not simply his approval, but gave
him a glowing recommendation--a careless habit characteristic of the
rabbis of that time, which on this occasion was destined to revenge
itself bitterly.

Provided with forged and filched recommendations, Chayon deceived many
other communities, those of Vienna, Nikolsburg, Prosnitz, Breslau,
Glogau, and Berlin. He succeeded in passing himself off as a prophet
before the credulous German Jews, and in being maintained by them.
Secretly he entered into close relations with a Sabbatian enthusiast
or impostor, Löbele Prosnitz, who cut out the four Hebrew letters of
the name of God in gold tinsel, stuck it on his breast, and made it
shine before the dazzled eyes of the credulous by means of burning
alcohol and turpentine. Like savages, the Moravian Jews gazed at Löbele
Prosnitz's alcohol miracle. At Berlin, where Chayon spent several
months, he enjoyed the best opportunity to fish in troubled waters.
The community of Berlin, increased to more than a hundred families,
had fallen into disunion, apparently through two mutually hostile
families at court. The widow of the court jeweler, Liebmann, was a
favorite of King Frederick I, and was therefore disliked by the crown
prince, afterwards Frederick William I. The latter had his own Jew in
attendance, Marcus Magnus, the mortal enemy of the house of Liebmann,
not merely from complaisance to the successor to the throne. The feud
between the two Jewish houses in Berlin spread to the whole community,
divided it into two parties, and affected even the synagogue. When
the fire of faction burned most furiously, Chayon came to Berlin,
and turned the quarrel to his own advantage. He joined the Liebmann
party, which, though the weaker of the two, was rich, and therefore
more willing to make sacrifices. The rabbi of Berlin, Aaron Benjamin
Wolf, son-in-law of the court Jewess Liebmann, a simple fellow, treated
Chayon with honorable distinction. Naphtali Cohen, who had come to
Berlin, could have unmasked Chayon, but was afraid, as he said, to
inflame the quarrel still further. Thus Chayon without molestation was
able in Berlin to print his heretical book, with which he had begun his
mischievous proceedings five years before at Smyrna. He gave his work
the artful title, "The Belief of the Universe" ("Mehemenuta de Cola").
The main text, the production of a Sabbatian (some thought of Sabbataï
Zevi himself), proclaims the "holy king," the Messiah, the incarnate
Deity, as the God of Israel, and as the exclusive object of reverence
and worship. Chayon added two sophistical commentaries, wherein he
proved in various ways that the God of Judaism was the Trinity. In
the prayer, "Hear, O Israel, God is one," every Jew must needs think
of this Trinity, otherwise he cannot attain to salvation, even if he
fulfills all religious and moral duties. This belief alone can make
a man certain of bliss. So low had Judaism sunk, that such blasphemy
was printed before the eyes and with the consent of a rabbi--Aaron
Benjamin Wolf, at Berlin--probably at the expense of the Liebmann
party! Chayon had the audacity to order forged testimonials of rabbis
to be prefixed, as though they had read the book and recommended it.
With this work he hastened by way of Hamburg to Amsterdam, to make his
fortune in that Jewish Eldorado, and thus schism was introduced into
the Jewish world.

The community of Amsterdam had been sufficiently warned of the
machinations of the Sabbatians. The Jerusalem rabbi, Abraham Yizchaki,
who had been appointed an emissary to collect alms, behaved like a
papal legate, invested with supremacy over everything religious, and
like a grand inquisitor commissioned to destroy the heresy which had
been gaining ground. At Smyrna the heretical writings of the fanatic
Abraham Michael Cardoso were in the hands of a few secret Sabbatians.
At Yizchaki's suggestion these had to be given up by their owners under
threat of excommunication and severe temporal punishment, and they were
burned. The community of Smyrna thereby felt itself freed from a heavy
burden, and was thankful to its liberator. Yizchaki had also come to
Amsterdam, and had warned the rabbis and the communal council against
Sabbatian emissaries, and drew attention to the hint of the Smyrna
rabbinate, that a secret Sabbatian was on his way to print Cardoso's
writings. In fact a Sabbatian emissary did come to Amsterdam for that
purpose. Chayon at first conducted himself modestly, and affiliated
with the Portuguese. He presented the council with a copy of his work
on the Trinity printed at Berlin, in order to obtain leave to sell it.
He appears to have passed himself off as an emissary from Palestine.
Hereupon bickerings arose, which began with personal feeling and ended
in wide-spread dissension.

The rabbi of the German community, Zevi Ashkenazi, called Chacham
Zevi, was much excited at the news of Chayon's presence in Amsterdam.
This man, whose father had belonged to the most zealous Sabbatians,
while he himself and his son, Jacob Emden, were destined to fight
against them with vehement zeal, was gifted with a clear head, and
combined thoroughness with acuteness in the study of the Talmud. In
his eighteenth year he had been consulted as an expert in the Talmud.
Pampered, sought after, married while young to the daughter of a
rich man at Buda and thereby rendered independent, he became proud,
self-conscious, and vain of his knowledge of the Talmud. On account of
his Talmudical learning he was invited to be chief rabbi of the German
community at Amsterdam (1710); he preferred to be called Chacham. Here
he looked down with great contempt upon his Portuguese colleagues,
especially upon Solomon Ayllon, and would never regard him as his equal
in rank. "Chacham Zevi wishes to rank higher even than the prophet
Moses," was the judgment passed upon him by Ayllon.

As soon as the name of Chayon reached the ears of the German Chacham,
he connected it with a former enemy of his at Bosna-Seraï in Bosnia,
where Zevi had been rabbi for a short time, and he immediately
intimated to the Portuguese authorities that it would be wise to show
no sort of favor to the stranger, as he was a man of evil notoriety.
Nehemiah Chayon explained that the mistake in his identity was caused
by similarity of names, and behaved so very humbly towards Chacham
Zevi, that the latter soon informed the council that he had nothing
to urge against the stranger, whose identity he had mistaken. Chayon
appeared to have removed every obstacle from his path at Amsterdam,
when Moses Chages, of Jerusalem, who was in Holland, sounded the alarm
against him, perhaps because he feared him as a Palestinian rival. The
heretical work printed at Berlin was put before him for examination,
as some members of the council did not trust their Chacham Ayllon.
Scarcely had he looked into it, when he raised the cry of heresy. In
fact, it did not need lengthy search in the book to find an explicit
enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity. The German Chacham,
having had his attention drawn by Moses Chages to Chayon's suspicious
doctrine, again notified, almost ordered, the Portuguese council, to
banish instead of favoring the stranger. The council, not disposed to
accept such abrupt orders, requested Chacham Zevi either to point out
the heretical passages in Chayon's book, or to join with some members
nominated by the council as a committee to examine it. Chacham Zevi,
at the advice of Chages, rejected both proposals flatly, saying that
as rabbi he was not obliged to bring forward proofs, but simply to
pronounce final judgment. Still less did he choose to take council
with Ayllon, as this would have been tantamount to recognizing him as
a Talmudist of equal rank with himself. The haughty behavior of the
Chacham, on the one hand, and Ayllon's sensitiveness, on the other,
kindled a spark into a bright flame.

The Portuguese Chacham had reason to feel himself slighted and to
complain. His own congregation had passed him over in this matter,
shown distrust towards him, and set his opponent over him as a higher
authority. Besides, he appears to have feared the cunning adventurer,
who if persecuted might reveal more than was desirable of Ayllon's past
history and relations to the Salonica heretics. He felt it his interest
to remain on Chayon's side and protect him against the threatened
banishment from Amsterdam. It was not difficult for him to prejudice
a member of the Portuguese council, Aaron de Pinto, a resolute,
unbending, hard man, indifferent to spiritual problems, against the
German Chacham, and persuade him of his duty to guard the independence
of the old, respectable, and superior Portuguese, against the
presumptuousness of the hitherto subordinate German, community. Ayllon
converted the important question of orthodoxy and heresy into one of
precedence between the communities. De Pinto treated the affair in this
light, and the other members of the council conformed to his resolute
will. He straightway rejected the interference of the German Chacham in
an affair of concern only to the Portuguese community, broke off all
negotiations with him, and commissioned Ayllon to appoint a committee
of Portuguese to examine and report on Chayon's work. Ayllon added
to the college of rabbis four men, of whom only one understood the
question. This one hesitated to join the committee, but was compelled
to do so. The others were totally ignorant of theology, and accordingly
dependent on Ayllon's judgment. Ayllon and the council, that is, Pinto,
made the members of the committee swear to let no one see the copies
of Chayon's work handed to them for examination, in fact, to keep
everything secret until the final judgment was pronounced. The petty
question of tolerating or expelling a begging adventurer thus attained
great importance.

Whilst the Portuguese committee was still apparently engaged in the
business of examination, Chacham Zevi, in conjunction with Moses
Chages, hastened to pronounce sentence of excommunication against
Chayon and his heretical book, because "he sought to draw Israel away
from his God and to introduce strange gods (the Trinity)." No one was
to have dealings with the author until he recanted his error. His
writings in any case were to be committed to the flames. This sentence
of condemnation was printed in Hebrew and Portuguese, and circulated
as a pamphlet. A great portion of the objections raised by these two
zealots against Chayon's writings was equally applicable to the Zohar
and other Kabbalistic books. Short-sighted as they were, they saw only
the evil consequences of the Kabbalistic errors, not their original

Great was the excitement of the Jews of Amsterdam over this step.
Chacham Zevi and Moses Chages were affronted and abused in the
streets by Portuguese Jews, and it was asserted that Ayllon employed
disreputable people for this purpose. When Chages appeared the rabble
shouted, "Stone him, slay him." Attempts at reconciliation failed;
partly through the dogmatism of Ayllon, who refused to admit himself
wrong, partly through the firmness of De Pinto, who simply had in view
the dignity of the Portuguese community. Pamphlets increased the bitter

The quarrel of the Amsterdam Jews made a great stir elsewhere, and was
the cause of party strife. Ayllon and De Pinto forbade the members of
their community, under threat of excommunication, to read pamphlets, or
to express themselves either verbally or in writing upon the matter.
They also hastened the delivery of the verdict, which, however, was
drawn up by Ayllon alone. It declared, in direct opposition to the
decision of Chacham Zevi and Chages, that Chayon's work taught nothing
offensive or dangerous to Judaism; it contained only the doctrines
found in other Kabbalistic writings. It was officially made known in
the synagogues (August 14, 1713) that Chayon was acquitted of the
charge of heresy brought against him, and that he had been innocently
persecuted. The day after, the original cause of the strife was carried
in triumph into the Portuguese chief synagogue, and to the vexation
of his opponents, almost worshiped. The false prophet, who had openly
declared, "Come, let us worship false gods," was loaded with homage
by the Portuguese who had staked life and property for the unity of
God. They cheered Chayon in the synagogue, and cried "Down with his
adversaries." In secret Chayon probably laughed at the complications he
had caused, and at the credulity of the multitude. De Pinto took care
that Chacham Zevi should not be supported by his own German community,
but should be left exposed, without protection, to the rough treatment
of his opponents. He found himself entirely isolated, almost like a
person under interdict.

But help came to Chacham Zevi from without. The rabbis whose pretended
letters of recommendation Chayon had prefixed to his work declared
them to be forged. The deepest impression was made by the letters of
the highly respected, aged rabbi of Mantua, Leon Brieli, who, well
acquainted with the past history of the impostor, unmasked him, and
approved of the sentence of condemnation against his heretical book.
Brieli wrote urgently to the Amsterdam council, and to Ayllon, in
Hebrew and Italian, imploring them not to lend their authority to
so bad a cause. But they remained stubborn, answered him politely,
yet evasively. The quarrel rose higher every day in the Amsterdam
community; every one took one side or the other, defending his view
with bitterness, passion, and frequently with vigorous action. Peace
vanished from this pattern community, and dissension was carried into
family life. Matters had gone so far that the leaders could not yield.
Ayllon and De Pinto went to greater lengths in their obstinacy. They
suggested that the Portuguese council summon Chacham Zevi, the rabbi of
the German community (over whom it had no authority whatever), before
its tribunal, with the intention of shaming him or of inducing him to
recant. When he paid no heed, it laid him and Moses Chages under the
ban, most strictly forbidding the members of the community to have
dealings with them, protect them, or intercede for them with the civic

As though the council and the rabbinate had been infected by Chayon's
baseness, they committed one meanness after another. In justification
of their course of action they distorted the actual state of the case,
and made use of notorious falsehoods. They encouraged, or at least
countenanced, Chayon in calumniating his opponents with the vilest and
most revolting aspersions, not only Chacham Zevi and Chages, but even
the wise and venerable rabbi, Leon Brieli, and supported Chayon in all
his audacities. The Portuguese council and the rabbinate, or rather De
Pinto and Ayllon, for their colleagues were mere puppets, persecuted
Chayon's opponents as though they were lost to all feeling of right.
With Moses Chages they had an easy game. He lived on the Portuguese
community; and when they withdrew the means of sustenance, he was
compelled to leave Amsterdam with his helpless family and migrate to
Altona. They also pressed Chacham Zevi hard, annoyed him, accused him
before the civil authorities, and prevented any one's assisting him.
He, too, left Amsterdam, either De Pinto procuring his banishment at
the hands of the magistrates, or Chacham Zevi, in order to anticipate
scandalous expulsion, going into banishment of his own accord. He
repaired to London, in the first instance, then by way of Breslau to
Poland, and was everywhere honorably received and treated.

His opponents, Chayon, Ayllon, and De Pinto, were not able to enjoy
the fruits of their victory. The apparently trivial dispute had
assumed large dimensions. Almost all the German, Italian, Polish, and
even some African communities with their rabbis espoused the cause of
the persecuted Chacham Zevi, and hurled sentences of excommunication
upon the unscrupulous heretic. These anathemas were published, and
unsparingly revealed Chayon's villainy, bringing to light the sentence
passed upon him years before at Jerusalem. The exposure of his
character by witnesses who came from countries where his past history
was well known, contributed to ruin the false prophet of the new

But the Portuguese of Amsterdam, or at least their leaders, would
not drop him, either because they believed his audacious lies or
from a sense of shame and obstinacy. They saw clearly, however, that
Chayon must take steps to calm the storm raised against him. They
therefore favored his journey to the East, providing him with money
and recommendations to influential Jews and Christians, who were to
aid him in loosing the ban passed upon him in the Turkish capital. But
the journey proved full of thorns for Chayon; no Jew admitted him into
his house, or gave him entertainment. Like Cain, curse-laden, he was
obliged to flee from place to place in Europe. At last he had to take
ship in haste to Constantinople. He was followed by fresh accusations
of heresy, not only from Chages and Naphtali Cohen, but also from
the highly esteemed Kabbalist Joseph Ergas, and the London preacher
David Nieto, who calmly exposed, in Hebrew and Spanish, the heresy,
falsehood, and villainy of this hypocritical Sabbatian.

At Constantinople Chayon was avoided by the Jews, and treated as
an outcast; but his Amsterdam letters of recommendation paved the
way for him with a vizir, who ordered his Jewish agents to accord
him support. In spite of his artifices, however, the rabbinate of
Constantinople refused to remove the sentence against him, but referred
him to the college of Jerusalem, the first to proscribe him. Several
years elapsed before three rabbis, probably intimidated by the vizir,
declared themselves ready to free Chayon from the ban, but they added
the condition that he should never again teach, preach, or publish
Kabbalistic doctrines. Chayon bound himself by a solemn oath, given to
be broken at the first opportunity. With a letter, which testified to
his re-admission into the Jewish communion, he hastened to Europe for
fresh adventures and impostures.

Meanwhile the Sabbatian intoxication had spread in Poland, especially
in Podolia and the district of Lemberg. There are revolting evidences
extant of the immorality of the Podolian Sabbatians: how they wallowed
in a pool of shameless profligacy, all the while pretending to redeem
the world. Their violation and contempt of Talmudical Judaism were for
a long time kept secret, but they strove to win adherents, preaching,
and explaining the Zohar to support their immoral theories. As their
sect grew, they raised the mask of piety a little, came out more
boldly, and were solemnly excommunicated by the Lemberg rabbinate
with extinguished tapers in the synagogue. But this sect could not be
suppressed by such means. Its members were inspired with a fanatical
desire to scorn the Talmud, the breath of life of the Polish Jews, and
to set up in its place the Kabbala and its Bible, the Zohar, and this
plan they endeavored to put into execution.

Their leaders secretly sent (1725) an emissary in the person of Moses
Meïr Kamenker into Moravia, Bohemia, and Germany, to establish a
connection with the Sabbatians of these countries, and perhaps also to
beg for money for their undertaking. Kamenker traveled through several
communities without being found out. Who could divine the thoughts
of this begging Polish rabbi, who understood how to dispute in the
manner of the Talmud, and rolled his eyes in a pious, hypocritical
manner? Moses Meïr entered into relations with Jonathan Eibeschütz at
Prague, who though young was regarded as a most thorough and acute
Talmudist, but who was entangled in the snares of the Sabbatian
Kabbala. Moses Meïr pressed on unrecognized to Mannheim, where a
secret Sabbatian of Judah Chassid's following passed himself off among
his companions as the Messiah returned to earth. From Mannheim these
two Polish Sabbatians threw out their nets, and deluded the simple
with sounding phrases from the Zohar. Their main doctrine was that
Jews devoted to the Talmud had not the right faith, which was rooted
only in the Kabbala. At the same time a work, apparently Kabbalistic,
was disseminated from Prague. Its equal can scarcely be found for
absurdity, perversity, and blasphemy; the coarsest notions being
brought into connection with the Godhead in Talmudic and Zoharistic
forms of expression. It also develops the doctrine of persons in the
Godhead--the Primeval One and the God of Israel, and hints that from
a higher standpoint the Torah and the laws have no significance. It was
reported at the time that Jonathan Eibeschütz was the author of this
production, as revolting as it is absurd.

Chance brought these underhand proceedings to light. Moses Meïr was
enticed to Frankfort by promises, and in the house of Rabbi Jacob
Kahana his conduct was exposed. Many heretical writings were found upon
him as well as letters by Sabbatians, amongst them letters from and
to Eibeschütz. An examination of witnesses was held by three rabbis
(July, 1725). Several witnesses denounced Moses Meïr, Isaiah Chassid,
and Löbele Prosnitz as closely allied fanatical Sabbatians, Eibeschütz
also being connected with them. These three, indeed, regarded him as
Sabbataï's successor, as the genuine Messiah. The witnesses averred
that they had received Kabbalistic heretical writings about the Song
of Solomon, and others, from Moses Meïr. They pretended also to have
heard many blasphemies that could not be repeated. Because of the
writings found upon Moses Meïr Kamenker and the testimony of witnesses,
the rabbinate of Frankfort pronounced upon him, his companions, and
all Sabbatians, the severest possible sentence, decreeing that no one
should have dealings with them in any form whatever, and that every
Jew should be bound to inform the rabbis of the secret Sabbatians,
and reveal their misconduct without respect of persons. The rabbis
of the German communities of Altona-Hamburg and Amsterdam joined
in this sentence; they ordered it to be read in the synagogues for
the information of all, and had it printed. The same was done at
Frankfort-on-the-Oder at fair-time in the presence of many Jews from
other towns, and several Polish rabbis did the same. They at last
realized that only by united forces and continuous efforts could an end
be put to the follies of the Sabbatians.

Just at this time Chayon returned to Europe, and increased the
confusion. To protect himself from persecution, he secretly approached
Christians, obtained access to the imperial palace at Vienna, partly
severed his connection with the Jews, reviled them as blind men who
reject the true faith, let it be understood that he, too, taught
the doctrine of the Trinity, and that he could bring over the Jews.
Provided with a letter of protection from the court, he proceeded on
his journey, and again played a double game, living secretly as a
Sabbatian, openly as an orthodox Jew released from the interdict. It
is hardly credible, as contemporaries relate of Chayon, that at the
age of nearly eighty, he took about with him as his wife a notorious
prostitute, whom he had picked up in Hungary. He did not meet with so
good a reception this time; distrust had been excited against secret
Sabbatians, especially against him. At Prague he was not admitted into
the city. At Berlin, Chayon wrote to a former acquaintance that, if
the money he needed were not sent him, he was resolved to be baptized
to the disgrace of the Jews. At Hanover, his papers were taken from
him, which exposed him still more. Thus the rogue dragged himself to
Amsterdam in the hope of again finding enthusiastic friends. But Ayllon
would have nothing more to do with him; he is said to have repented
having favored Chayon. The latter was included in the proscription
of the Sabbatians and excommunicated (1726). Moses Chages, formerly
persecuted by him, now occupied an honored position in Altona. He was
considered the chief of the heresy judges, so to say, and he dealt
Chayon the last blow. The latter could not hold his own in Europe
or in the East, and therefore repaired to northern Africa, where he
died. His son was converted to Christianity, and, whilst at Rome,
through his false, or half-true accusations, he drew the attention of
the Inquisition to ancient Jewish literature, which he declared to be
inimical to Christianity.



    Poetical Works of Moses Chayim Luzzatto--Luzzatto ensnared
    in the Kabbala--His Contest with Rabbinical Authorities--
    Luzzatto's last Drama--Jonathan Eibeschütz--Character and
    Education of Eibeschütz--His Relations with the Jesuits in
    Prague--The Austrian War of Succession--Expulsion of the
    Jews from Prague--Eibeschütz becomes Rabbi of Altona--Jacob
    Emden--Eibeschütz charged with Heresy--The Controversy
    between Emden and Eibeschütz--The Amulets--Party Strife--
    Interference by Christians and the Civil Authorities--Revival
    of Sabbatianism--Jacob Frank Lejbowicz and the Frankists--
    The Doctrine of the Trinity--Excesses of the Frankists.

1727-1760 C. E.

The disgrace and disappointment caused by visionaries and impostors
during almost a whole century, the lamentable effects of the careers
of Sabbataï Zevi and his band of prophets--Cardoso, Mordecai of
Eisenstadt, Querido, Judah Chassid, Chayim Malach, Chayon, and
others--failed to suppress Kabbalistic and Messianic extravagances. As
yet these impostors only invited fresh imitators, who found a credulous
circle ready to believe in them, and thus new disorders were begotten.
The unhealthy humors which, during the lapse of ages, had been
introduced into the organism of Judaism appeared as hideous eruptions
on the surface, but this might be considered the sign of convalescence.
Corruption had seized even the most delicate organs. A gifted youth,
endowed with splendid talents, who in ordinary circumstances would have
become an ornament to Judaism, was tainted by the general degradation,
and under the spell of mysticism misapplied his excellent gifts, and
contributed to error. It is impossible to resist a feeling of sorrow
at finding this amiable man with his ideal character falling into
errors which bring him down to the level of such impure spirits as
Chayon and Löbele Prosnitz--a many-colored sunbeam extinguished in a
swamp. If we denounce the Kabbala, which has begotten such unspeakable
misconceptions of Judaism, and are justly wrathful against its authors
and propagators, we feel specially indignant when we find two noble
young men of high endowments and purity of life, Solomon Molcho and
Luzzatto, following its chimeras, and thereby precipitating themselves
into the abyss. Both literally sacrificed their lives for dreams, the
confused imagery of which was suggested by the dazing medley of the
Kabbala. Although Luzzatto did not meet with a tragic end like the
Portuguese Marrano who shared his convictions, yet he, too, was a
martyr, none the less because his wounds had been inflicted by himself
under the influence of excitement.

Moses Chayim Luzzatto (born 1707, died 1747) was the son of very
wealthy parents, natives of Padua. His father, who carried on an
extensive silk business, spared no expense in educating him. The two
ancient languages, Hebrew and Latin, which in Italy were in a measure
a literary necessity, the one among Jews, the other among Christians,
Luzzatto acquired in early youth; but they had an influence on his
mind altogether different from that which they obtained over his
contemporaries. Both enriched his genius, and promoted its higher
development. Latin opened for him the realm of the beautiful, Hebrew
the gates of the sublime. Luzzatto had a poet's delicately-strung
soul, an Æolian harp, which responded to every breath with harmonious,
tuneful vibrations. His poetic gift displayed at once power and
sweetness, wealth of fancy and richness of imagery, combined with
due sense of proportion. A believer in the transmigration of souls
might have said that the soul of the Hebrew-Castilian singer, Jehuda
Halevi, had been born again in Luzzatto, but had become more perfect,
more matured, more tender, and endowed with a more delicate sense
of harmony, encompassed as he was by the musical atmosphere of his
Italian fatherland. Even in early boyhood every event, joyful or sad,
was to him a complete picture, a little work of art, wherein color and
euphony were revealed together. A youth of seventeen, he discerned with
such remarkable clearness the hidden charm of language, the laws of
harmony, deducible from the higher forms of eloquence as from poetry,
and the grace of rhythm and cadence, that he composed a work on the
subject, and illustrated it by beautiful examples from sacred poetry.
He contemplated introducing a new meter into modern Hebrew poetry, in
order to obtain greater variety in the succession of long and short
syllables, and thus produce a musical cadence. The Hebrew language is
usually classified among the dead tongues. To Luzzatto, however, it
was full of life, vigor, youth, clearness, and euphony. He used Hebrew
as a pliant instrument, and drew from it sweet notes and caressing
melodies; he renewed its youth, invested it with a peculiar charm, in
short, lived in it as though his ear had absorbed the rich tones of
Isaiah's eloquence. Incomparably more gifted than Joseph Penso de la
Vega, Luzzatto, likewise in his seventeenth year, composed a drama
on the biblical theme of Samson and the Philistines. This early work
gives promise of the future master. The versification is faultless, the
thoughts original, and the language free from bombast and redundancy.
His Hebrew prose, too, is an agreeable contrast to the insipid, ornate,
and laboriously witty style of his Jewish contemporaries; it has much
of the simplicity, polish, and vivacity of the biblical narrative.
Before his twentieth year Luzzatto had composed one hundred and fifty
hymns, which are only an imitation of the old psalter, but the language
of which is marked by fervor and purity. It was perhaps during the
same period that he composed his second Hebrew drama, in four acts--
"The High Tower, or The Innocence of the Virtuous"--beautiful in
versification, melodious in language, but poor in thought. The young
poet had not yet seen life in its fullness, nor keenly studied its
contrasts and struggles. He was acquainted only with idyllic family
life and academic peace. Even virtue and vice, love and selfishness,
which he desired to represent in his drama, were known to him but
by hearsay. His muse becomes eloquent only when she sings of God's
sublimity. Isolated verses are faultless, but the work as a whole is
that of a schoolboy. He was too dependent on Italian models--still
walked on stilts.

This facility and versatility in clothing both platitudes and original
thoughts in new as well as borrowed forms, and the over-abundance of
half-matured ideas, which, if he could have perfected them, might have
proved a blessing to Judaism and to himself, were transformed into a
curse. One day (Sivan, 1727) he was seized with the desire to imitate
the mystic language of the Zohar, and he succeeded as well as in the
case of the psalms. His sentences and expressions were deceptively
similar to those of his model, just as high-sounding, apparently full
of meaning, in reality meaningless. This success turned his head, and
led him astray. Instead of perceiving that if the Kabbalistic style
of the Zohar is capable of imitation, that book must be the work of a
clever human author, Luzzatto inferred that his own creative faculty
did not proceed from natural endowments, but, as in the case of the
Zohar, was the product of a higher inspiration. In other words, he
shared the mistaken view of his age with respect to the origin and
value of the Kabbala. Isaiah Bassan, of Padua--who instructed
Luzzatto in his early years--had infused mystical poison into his
healthy blood. However, any other teacher would also have led him into
the errors of the Kabbala, from which there was no escape. The air
of the Ghettos was impregnated with Kabbala. From his youth upwards
Luzzatto heard daily that great adepts in mysticism possessed special
tutelar spirits (Maggid), who every day gave them manifestations from
above. Why should not he, too, be vouchsafed this divine gift of
grace? Some of the mystical writings of Lurya, at that time still a
rarity, fell into his hands. He learnt them by heart, became entirely
absorbed in them, and thus completed his derangement. Luzzatto was
possessed by a peculiar delusion. His naturally clear and methodical
intellect, his fine sense of the simplicity and beauty of the poetry
of the Bible, and his æsthetic conceptions with regard to Italian and
Latin literature urged him to seek clearness and common sense even in
the chaos of the Kabbala, the divine origin of which was accepted by
him as a fact. He in no way resembled the wild visionaries Moses Zacut
and Mordecai of Eisenstadt; he did not content himself with empty
formulas and flourishes, but sought for sound sense. This he found
rather in his own mind than in the Zohar or in the writings of Lurya.
Nevertheless, he lived under the delusion that a divine spirit had
vouchsafed him deep insight into the Kabbala, solved its riddles, and
disentangled its meshes. Self-deception was the cause of his errors,
and religious fervor, instead of protecting, only plunged him in more
deeply. His errors were fostered by the conviction that existing
Judaism with its excrescences would be unintelligible without the
Kabbala, the theories of which could alone explain the phenomena, the
strife, and the contradictions in the world, and the tragical history
of the Jewish people. Israel--God's people--the noblest portion of
creation, stands enfeebled and abased on the lowest rung of the ladder
of nations; its religion misjudged, its struggles fruitless. To account
for this bewildering fact, Luzzatto constructed a system of cobwebs.

It flattered the vanity of this young man of twenty to gain this
insight into the relations of the upper and the lower worlds, to
explain them in the mystical language of the Zohar, and thus become
an important member in the series of created beings. Having firmly
convinced himself of the truth of the fundamental idea of the Kabbala,
he accepted all its excrescences--transmigration of souls, anagrams,
and necromancy. He wrote reams of Kabbalistic chimeras, and composed a
second Zohar (Zohar Tinyana) with appropriate introductions (Tikkunim)
and appendices. The more facility he acquired, the stronger became
his delusion that he, too, was inspired by a great spirit, and was a
second, perhaps more perfect Simon bar Yochaï. Little by little there
crept over him in his solitude the fantastic conviction that he was the
pre-ordained Messiah, called to redeem, by means of the second Zohar,
the souls of Israel and the whole world.

Luzzatto could not long bear to hide his light under a bushel. He began
operations by disclosing to Israel Marini and Israel Treves, two young
men of the same way of thinking as himself, that his guardian spirit
had bidden him grant them knowledge of his new Zohar. His disciples
in the Kabbala were dazzled and delighted, and could not keep the
secret. The result was that Venetian Kabbalists sought out the young
and wealthy prodigy at his home in Padua, and thus confirmed him in
his fanaticism. A vivacious, energetic, impetuous Pole, Yekutiel
(Kussiel) of Wilna, who had come to Padua to study medicine, joined
Luzzatto's circle. To hear of the latter, join him, abandon his former
studies, and devote himself to mysticism was for the Pole a rapid,
easy resolution. It was far harder for him to keep the secret. No
sooner had he been initiated by Luzzatto than he blazoned forth this
new miracle to the world. Kussiel circulated extravagant letters on
the subject, which came into the hands of Moses Chages in Altona. The
latter, who had stoutly opposed and effectually silenced Chayon and the
other Sabbatian visionaries, was, so to speak, the recognized official
zealot, whose utterances were decisive on matters of faith; and the
rabbi of the so-called "three communities" of Altona, Hamburg, and
Wandsbeck, Ezekiel Katzenellenbogen, who had excommunicated Moses Meïr
Kamenker and his confederates, was subservient to him. Chages therefore
requested the Venetian community to suppress the newly-born brood of
heretics before the poison of their doctrine could spread further.

The Venetian community, however, was not disposed to denounce Luzzatto
as a heretic, but treated him with great forbearance, probably out of
consideration for his youth, talents, and the wealth of his family, and
merely ordered him to justify himself. The enthusiastic youth rebelled
against this demand, proudly gave Chages to understand that he did not
recognize his authority, repudiated the suspicion of Sabbatian heresy,
and insisted that he had been vouchsafed revelations from Heaven.
He referred him to his instructor Bassan, who would never refuse to
testify that his orthodoxy was above suspicion. In this Luzzatto was
perfectly right. Bassan was so infatuated with his pupil that he would
have palliated his most scandalous faults, and encouraged rather
than checked his extravagances. In vain Chages and Katzenellenbogen
threatened him and the Paduan community with the severest form of
excommunication, if he did not abandon his pretensions to second sight
and mystical powers. Luzzatto remained unmoved: God had chosen him,
like many before, to reveal to him His mysteries. The other Italian
rabbis showed themselves as lukewarm in the matter as those of Padua
and Venice. Moses Chages called on three rabbis to form a tribunal,
but all three declined to interfere. He exerted himself so zealously,
however, that he persuaded several German rabbis (June, 1730) to
excommunicate all who should compose works in the language of the
Zohar in the name of angels or saints. This threat proved effectual.
Isaiah Bassan was obliged to repair to Padua and obtain a promise from
his favorite disciple to discontinue his mystical writings and his
instruction of young Kabbalists, or emigrate to the Holy Land. At last
the Venetian rabbinate was stirred up to intervene, and sent three
representatives to Padua--Jacob Belillos, Moses Menachem Merari,
and Nehemiah Vital Cohen,--in whose presence Luzzatto was obliged
to repeat his promise under oath. He was compelled to deliver his
Kabbalistic writings to his teacher Bassan, and they were placed under
seal. Thus the storm which had threatened him was averted.

Luzzatto appears to have been sobered by these events. He occupied
himself with his business, wrote more poetry, and resolved to marry.
He was a happy father, lived in concord with his parents and brothers
and sisters, and was highly respected. The evil spirit, however, to
whom he had sold himself would not release him, and led him back to
his youthful follies. A quarrel in the family and business misfortunes
in connection with his father's house, in which he was a partner,
appear to have been the cause of this renewal of his former studies.
Disquieted and troubled in the present he sought to learn the future
by means of Kabbalistic arts. He began once more to write down his
mystical fancies, and ventured to show them to Bassan, from whom he
obtained permission to publish them. It was whispered that Luzzatto
performed incantations by means of magic, and that his teacher
had handed him for publication some of the sealed writings in his
custody. The Venetian council of rabbis, owing to certain reports, was
especially excited and prejudiced against him. Luzzatto had written
a sharp reply to Leon Modena's forcible work against the Kabbala; and
as the latter was a Venetian rabbi, though of doubtful sincerity, the
members of the Venetian council, Samuel Aboab and his five colleagues,
considered any attack upon him an insult to their own honor. Their
_esprit de corps_ roused them to greater activity than had zeal for
their faith, when seemingly in peril. True Venetians, they had in their
service a spy, Salman of Lemberg, who watched and reported Luzzatto's
movements to them. As long as he was prosperous and surrounded by
friends the Venetian rabbis had treated him with remarkable indulgence,
and bestowed on him a title of honor; but after his family fell into
misfortune, when he was on the verge of ruin, and deserted by his
friends and flatterers, their regard for him ceased, and they could
not find enough stones to throw at him. They believed one of their
number who asserted that he had found implements of magic in Luzzatto's
house. Absurdly enough, too, they reproached Luzzatto with having
learnt Latin; to a man who had studied this language of Satan no angel,
they said, could appear! The members of the Venetian council of rabbis
believed, or pretended to believe that Luzzatto had boasted that in
the Messianic age his psalms would take the place of David's psalter.
They now showed themselves as active as they had previously been
negligent in the persecution of the unfortunate author. They sent three
inquisitors to Padua to examine him, search his house for writings, and
make him declare on oath that he would publish nothing without first
submitting it to the censorship of the Venetian council of rabbis. The
poet, deeply mortified, haughtily answered that this council had no
authority whatever over him, a member of the community of Padua. The
Venetian rabbis then excommunicated him, and condemned his writings
to the flames (December, 1734), taking care to give notice of their
proceedings to all the communities in Germany, particularly to the "big
drum," Chages. The Paduan community also abandoned the unfortunate
Luzzatto. To the honor of his teacher Isaiah Bassan be it said, that he
adhered to him as staunchly in misfortune as in prosperity. The rabbi
Katzenellenbogen, or rather his crier Chages, on this occasion made
the sensible suggestion that the study of the Kabbala be altogether
forbidden to young men, to prevent their falling into deplorable
errors, as had hitherto been the case; but the proposition failed to
meet with the approbation of other rabbis. Twenty years later the evils
produced by the Kabbala became so patent, that the synod of Polish Jews
enacted a decree to the above effect without encountering opposition.

The unfortunate, excommunicated dreamer was obliged to leave his
parents, his wife and child, and go forth a wanderer; but what
grieved him even more was separation from his fellow Kabbalists
and his mystic conventicle. He cherished the hope of being able to
print his Kabbalistic writings in Amsterdam. Alas for his want of
experience! Who would help him after fortune had turned her back! At
Frankfort-on-the-Main he was rudely awakened from his pleasant dream.
As soon as the rabbi, Jacob Kahana, heard of his arrival, he insisted
that he should promise on oath to abandon his Kabbalistic illusions,
and to refrain from writing on or instructing any one in the doctrines
of the Zohar (January 12, 1735). One liberty, however, Luzzatto
reserved for himself: to pursue his favorite studies at the age of
forty in the Holy Land. Many rabbis of Germany, Poland, Holland, and
Denmark, who were informed of Luzzatto's concessions, agreed in advance
to his excommunication in case he should break his word. The name of
Chages was of course upon the list.

Deeply humiliated and disappointed, Luzzatto repaired to Amsterdam.
Here a gleam of sunlight smiled on him again. The Portuguese community
received him kindly, as though desirous of atoning for the injustice
he had experienced at the hands of the Germans and Poles. They granted
him a pension; and he found a hospitable home in the house of Moses
de Chaves, a wealthy Portuguese, and became instructor to his son. To
be independent, he applied himself, like Spinoza, to the polishing of
lenses, and this led him to study physics and mathematics. He found
himself so comfortably settled that he induced not only his wife, but
also his parents to come to Amsterdam, and they were well received
by the Portuguese community. This favorable turn in his fortunes
encouraged him to resume his chimerical theories. He repeatedly
exhorted his disciples in Padua to remain true to their Kabbalistic
studies; whereupon the council of rabbis at Venice, which had received
intelligence of his proceedings, pronounced sentence of excommunication
in the synagogues and in the Ghetto against all who possessed
Kabbalistic writings or psalms of Luzzatto, and failed to deliver them
to the council.

In addition to his various occupations, with the Kabbala for his
spiritual wants and the polishing of lenses for his temporal needs,
Luzzatto published a masterpiece second to none in Hebrew poetry;
a drama, perfect in form, language, and thought; a memorial of his
gifts calculated to immortalize him and the language in which it is
composed. Under the unpretentious form of an occasional poem in honor
of the wedding of his disciple, Jacob de Chaves, with the high-born
maiden Rachel de Vega Enriques, he published his drama, "Glory to the
Virtuous" (La-Yesharim Tehilla). It differs materially from his earlier
works. The poet had in the interval enjoyed various opportunities
of gaining pleasant and painful experiences, and of enriching his
mental powers. His muse, grown more mature, had become acquainted with
the intricacies of life. Luzzatto had learnt to know the vulgar herd
well enough to see that it resembles a reed swaying to and fro in the
water, and is kept by the fetters of Deceit in a state of ignorance
and infirmity against which Wisdom herself is powerless. He had been
taught by experience how Folly yoked with Ignorance makes merry over
those born of the Spirit, and mocks at their labors, when they measure
the paths of the stars, observe the life of the vegetable world, behold
God's works, and account them of more value than Mammon. Superficiality
sees in all the events of life and of nature, however powerfully they
may appeal to the heart, only the sport of Chance or the inflexible
laws of heartless Necessity. Luzzatto had proved in his own case that
Craft and Pride closely united can deprive Merit of its crown, and
place it on their own heads. None the less he cherished the conviction
that Merit, though misjudged and calumniated, at last wins the day, and
that its acknowledgment (Fame) will fall to its share like a bride, if
only it allows itself to be led by Reason and her handmaid Patience,
averting its gaze from ignoble strife, and becoming absorbed in the
wonders of Creation. "Could we, with undimmed eyes, for a moment see
the world as it is, divested of pretense, we should see Pride and
Folly, which speak so scornfully of Virtue and Knowledge, deeply
humbled." Through an extraordinary occurrence, a kind of miracle, Truth
is revealed, Deceit unmasked, Pride becomes a laughing-stock, and the
fickle mob is led to recognize true Merit.

Luzzatto in his dramatic parable clothes and vivifies this train of
ideas, and enunciates them in monologues and dialogues through the
mouth of acting, or, more correctly, speaking characters. Luzzatto's
masterpiece is indeed not a drama in the strict sense of the word.
The characters represented are not of flesh and blood, but mere
abstractions: Reason and Folly, Merit and Deceit, are placed on the
stage. The dramatic action is slight. It is in truth a beautiful
wreath of fragrant flowers of poesy, a series of delightful monologues
and dialogues. In it Luzzatto embodies deep thoughts, difficult to
quicken into life or to paint in poetical colors; but he succeeded. The
wonderful evolution of the vegetable world, the extraordinary phenomena
of light, are treated in dramatic verse by Luzzatto with the same
facility as the appropriate subjects for poetry, and this too in the
Hebrew language, not readily lending itself to new forms of thought,
and with the self-imposed fetters of a meter never sinned against. His
style is dignified, and he employed a diction quite his own, replete
with youthful charms, beauty, and harmony. Thereby he supplied a new
impulse for the coming age. When the mists of error passed away, the
general chaos of thought was reduced to some sort of order, and a
happier period opened, young poets derived inspiration from the soft
warm rays diffused by the genius of Luzzatto. A modern Hebrew poet who
helped to accomplish the transition from the old to the new period,
David Franco Mendes, owes his inspiration to Luzzatto.

What might not Luzzatto have accomplished if he could have liberated
his mind from the extravagant follies of the Kabbala! But it held him
captive, and drew him not long after the completion of his drama (about
1744) to Palestine. Here he hoped to be able to follow unmolested the
inspirations of his excited fancy, or play the _rôle_ of a Messiah.
From Safet, too, he continued his communications with his band of
disciples; but before he could commence operations he fell a victim to
the plague, in the fortieth year of his age. His body was buried in
Tiberias. The two greatest modern Hebrew poets, Luzzatto and Jehuda
Halevi, were to rest in Hebrew soil. Even the tongues of the slanderous
Jews of Palestine, to whom Luzzatto, with his peculiarities, must
have seemed an enigma, could only speak well of him after his death.
Nevertheless he sowed bad seed. His Italian followers reintroduced
the Kabbala into Italy. His Polish disciple, Yekutiel of Wilna, whose
buffooneries had first got him into trouble, is said to have led an
adventurer's life in Poland and Holland, playing scandalous tricks
under the mask of mysticism. Another Pole, Elijah Olianow, who belonged
to Luzzatto's following, and proclaimed him as Messiah and himself as
his Elijah, did not enjoy the best of reputations. This man took part
in the disgraceful disorders which broke out in Altona after Luzzatto's
death, and which, again stirring up the Sabbatian mire, divided the
Jews of Europe into two hostile camps.

The foul pool which for centuries, since the prohibition of free
inquiry and the triumph of its enemy the Kabbala, had been in process
of formation in Judaism was, with perverse stupidity, being continually
stirred up, defiling the pure and the impure. The irrational excitement
roused by the vain, false Messiah of Smyrna was not suppressed by the
proscription of Chayon and the Polish Sabbatians, but showed a still
more ill-favored aspect, forcing its way into circles hitherto closed
against it. The rabbis, occupied with the practical and dialectical
interpretation of the Talmud, had hitherto refused admission to the
Kabbala on equal terms, and only here and there had surreptitiously
introduced something from it. They had opposed the Sabbatian heresy,
and pronounced an anathema against it. But one influential rabbi
espoused its cause, invested it with importance, and so precipitated
a conflict which undermined discipline and order, and blunted still
more the sense of dignity and self-respect, of truth and rectitude.
The occasion of the conflict was the petty jealousy of two rabbis.
Its true origin lay deeper, in intellectual perversity and the secret
dislike on the one hand to the excess of ritualistic observances,
and on the other to the extravagances of the Kabbala. The authors
of this far-reaching schism--two Polish rabbis of Altona--each
unconsciously had taken a step across the threshold of orthodoxy.
Diametrically opposed to each other in faculties and temperament, they
were suited by their characters to be pitted against each other. Both
Jonathan Eibeschütz and Jacob Emden had taken part in the foregoing
conflicts, and eventually gave these quarrels a more extended influence.

Jonathan Eibeschütz, or Eibeschützer (born at Cracow 1690, died
1764), was descended from a Polish family of Kabbalists. His father,
Nathan Nata, was for a short time rabbi of the small Moravian town
of Eibenschitz, from which his son derived his surname. Endowed with
a remarkably acute intellect and a retentive memory, the youthful
Jonathan, early left an orphan, received the irregular education, or
rather bewildering instruction of the age, which supplied him with
only two subjects on which to exercise his brains--the far-reaching
sphere of the Talmud, with its labyrinthine mazes, and the ensnaring
Kabbala, with its shallows full of hidden rocks. The one offered
abundant food for his hungry reason, the other for his ill-regulated
fancy. With his hair-splitting ingenuity he might have made an adroit,
pettifogging attorney, qualified to make out a brilliant and successful
justification for the worst case; or, had he had access to the higher
mathematics of Newton and Leibnitz, he might have accomplished much in
this field as a discoverer. Eibeschütz had some taste for branches of
learning beyond the sphere of the Talmud, and also a certain vanity
that made him desire to excel in them; but this he could not satisfy.
The perverted spirit of the Polish and German Jews of the time closed
to every aspiring youth the gates of the sciences based on truth
and keen observation, and drove him into the mazes of Rabbinical and
Talmudic literature. From lack of more wholesome food for his active
intellect, young Eibeschütz filled his brain with pernicious matter,
and want of method forced him into the crooked paths of sophistry. He
imagined indeed, or wished it to be supposed, that he had acquired
every variety of knowledge, but his writings on subjects not connected
with the Talmud, so far as it is possible to judge of them, his
sermons, his Kabbalistic compositions, and a mass of occasional papers,
reveal nothing that can be described as wisdom or solid learning.
Eibeschütz was not even familiar with the Jewish philosophers who wrote
in Hebrew; he was at home only in the Talmud. This he could manipulate
like soft clay, give it any form he desired, and he could unravel the
most intricately entangled skeins. He surpassed all his contemporaries
and predecessors not only in his knowledge of the Talmud, but also in
ready wit.

But Eibeschütz did not derive complete satisfaction from his
scholarship; it only served to sharpen his wits, afford him amusement,
and dazzle others. His restless nature and fiery temperament could
not content themselves with this, but aspired to a higher goal. This
goal, however, was unknown even to himself, or was only dimly shadowed
before his mind. Hence his life and conduct appear enigmatical and
full of contradictions. Had he lived in the age of the struggle for
reform, for the loosening of the bands of authority, he would have been
among the assailants, and would have employed his Talmudical learning
and aggressive wit as levers to upheave the edifice of Rabbinical
Judaism, and oppose the Talmud with the weapons it had supplied. For
he was easy-going, and disliked the gloomy piety of the German and
Polish Jews; and though impressed by it, he lacked fervor to yield to
its influence. He therefore found mysticism as interpreted by the
followers of Sabbataï very comforting: the Law was to be abolished by
the commencement of the Messianic era, or the spirit of the Kabbala
demanded no over-scrupulousness with regard to trifles. Nehemiah Chayon
appears to have made a great impression on young Eibeschütz in Prague
or Hamburg. With the Sabbatian Löbele Prosnitz, he was in constant,
though secret intercourse. He studied thoroughly the works of Abraham
Michael Cardoso, though they had been publicly condemned and branded
as heretical. Eibeschütz had adopted the blasphemous tenets of these
and other Sabbatians--namely, that there is no relation of any kind
between the Most High God, the First Cause, and the Universe, but
that a second person in the Godhead, the God of Israel, the image
and prototype of the former, created the world, gave the Law, chose
Israel, in short governs the Finite. He appears to have embraced also
the conclusions deduced from this heretical theory, that Sabbataï
Zevi was the true Messiah, that the second person of the Godhead was
incorporated in him, and that by his appearance the Torah had ceased to
have any importance.

But Eibeschütz had not sufficient strength of character or
determination to act in conformity with his convictions. It would
have been contrary to his nature to break openly with Rabbinical
Judaism, and by proclaiming himself an anti-Talmudist, as had been
done by several Sabbatians, to wage war against the whole of Judaism.
He was too practical and loved ease too well to expose himself to the
disagreeable consequences of such a rupture. Should he, like Chayon,
wander forth a fugitive through Asia and Europe, and back again?
Besides, he loved the Talmud and Rabbinical literature as food for his
wit, and could not do without them. The contradictions in his career
and the disorders which he originated may be traced to want of harmony
between his intellect and his temperament. Rabbinical Judaism did not
altogether suit him, but the sources from which it was derived were
indispensable to him, and had they not been in existence he would have
created them. Fettered by this contradiction he deceived not only the
world, but also himself; he could not arrive at any clear understanding
with himself, and was a hypocrite without intending it.

At one-and-twenty Eibeschütz directed a school in Prague, and a band
of subtlety-loving Talmud students gathered round him, hung on his
lips, and admired his stimulating method, and playful way of dealing
with difficulties. He captivated and inspired his pupils by his genial,
one might almost say student-like, manners, by his sparkling wit, and
scintillating sallies, not always within the bounds of propriety. His
manner towards his pupils was altogether different from that of rabbis
of the ordinary type. He did not slink along gloomily, like a penitent,
and with bowed head, and he imposed no such restraints on them, but
allowed them great freedom. Social life and lively, interesting
conversation were necessities to him. For these reasons the number of
Eibeschütz's disciples yearly increased, and counted by thousands. At
thirty he was regarded not alone in Prague, but far and wide as an

It has been stated that the council of rabbis of Frankfort-on-the-Main
had clear proofs of Eibeschütz's connection with Löbele Prosnitz and
the Podolian Sabbatians. Only his extensive influence and the great
number of his disciples protected him from being included in the
sentence of excommunication pronounced against the others. He had the
hardihood to meet the suspicions against himself by excommunicating the
Sabbatians (1725). Moses Chages, the man without "respect of persons,"
the "watchman of Zion" of that age, predicted that forbearance would
prove hurtful. In fact, Eibeschütz was at that time deeply committed
to the Sabbatian heresies, confessed the fact to Meïr Eisenstadt, the
teacher of his youth, who knew his erring ways, and, apparently ashamed
and repentant, promised amendment. Thanks to this clemency Eibeschütz
maintained his reputation, increased by his erudition, his ever-growing
body of disciples, and his activity. The suspicion of heresy was by
degrees forgotten, and the community of Prague, in recognition of his
merits, appointed him preacher (1728).

In another matter Eibeschütz left the beaten path, and placed himself
in a somewhat ambiguous light. Either from vanity or calculation, he
entered into intimate relations with the Jesuits in Prague. He carried
on discussions with them, displaying a certain sort of liberality, as
though he did not share the prejudices of the Jews. He associated, for
instance, with that spiritual tyrant, Hasselbauer, the Jesuit bishop
of Prague, who frequently made domiciliary visits among Jews, to
search for and confiscate Hebrew books that had escaped the vigilance
of the censor. Through this intimacy Eibeschütz obtained from the
bishop the privilege to print the Talmud, so often proscribed by the
Church of Rome. Did he act thus from self-interest, with the view of
compelling the Bohemian Jews to use only copies of the Talmud printed
by him, and in this way create a remunerative business, the profits
to be shared with the Jesuits? This was most positively asserted in
many Jewish circles. Eibeschütz obtained permission to print from the
episcopal board of censors, on condition that every expression, every
word in the Talmud which, in howsoever small a degree, appeared to be
antagonistic to Christianity be expunged. He was willing to perpetrate
this process of mutilation (1728-1739). Such obsequious pliability to
the Jesuits excited the displeasure of many Jews. The community of
Frankfort-on-the-Main spent a considerable sum--Moses Chages and
perhaps David Oppenheim being at the bottom of the movement--in
their efforts to obtain from the emperor a prohibition against the
publication of the Prague edition. Eibeschütz, on the other hand, used
his connection with Christian circles to avert perils impending over
the Bohemian Jews.

Eibeschütz's early heretical leanings were not absolutely forgotten.
When the post of rabbi at Metz became vacant, he applied for it. When
the council were occupied with the election, the gray-haired widow of
the late rabbi appeared at the meeting, and warned them not to insult
the memory of her dead husband and the pious rabbis who had preceded
him, by appointing a heretic, perhaps worse (a Mumar), their successor.
This solemn admonition from the venerable matron who was related to
the wife of Eibeschütz so impressed the council that his election
fell through. Jacob Joshua Falk was appointed at Metz. He remained
there only a few years, and, on his removal to Frankfort-on-the-Main,
Eibeschütz was chosen in his place. Before he entered on his duties,
the Austrian War of Succession broke out, a struggle between youthful,
aspiring Prussia, under Frederick the Great, and decrepit Austria,
under Maria Theresa. A French army, in conjunction with Prussia and
the anti-emperor Charles VII, occupied Prague. The systematically
brutalized population of Bohemia and Moravia conceived the false
notion that the Jews were treacherously taking part with the enemy.
It was said that Frederick the Great, the Protestant heretic, was an
especial patron of the Jews. In Moravia, whither the Prussians had
not yet penetrated, occurred passionate outbursts of fury against
the Jews. An Austrian field-marshal in Moravia, under the delusion
of the Jews' treachery, issued a decree that the communities, within
six days, should "pay down in cash 50,000 Rhenish gulden at Brünn,
failing which, they would all be delivered over to pillage and the
sword." Through the devoted exertions of Baron de Aguilar and the
wealthy rabbi, Issachar Berush Eskeles--two members of the Vienna
community--this decree was revoked by the empress, Maria Theresa (March
21). These men had another opportunity to avert a crushing disaster
from their brethren.

Jonathan Eibeschütz, having been appointed rabbi of Metz, either from
self-conceit or in order to secure for himself the post of rabbi in
French Lorraine, imprudently fraternized with the French soldiery
who occupied the town. He obtained from the French commandant a
safe-conduct enabling him to travel unmolested to France, and thereby
aroused in the Bohemian population the suspicion that he had a
treasonable understanding with the enemy. After the departure of the
French (end of 1742), the Austrian authorities held an inquiry into
his conduct; and all his property, which had not been seized by the
Croats, was sequestered. Eventually all the Moravian and Bohemian
Jews were suspected of treason. The most Catholic empress, who was
at once good-natured and hard-hearted, published a decree, December
18, 1744, for Bohemia, January 2, 1745, for Moravia, that all Jews in
these royal provinces should, "for several important reasons," within
a brief period be banished; and that Jews found in these crown lands
after the expiration of this period should be "removed by force of
arms." Terrible severity was shown in enforcing this decree. The Jews
of Prague, more than 20,630 souls, were obliged in the depth of winter
hurriedly to leave the town and suffer in the villages; and the royal
cities were forbidden to harbor them even temporarily. The position of
the Bohemian and Moravian Jews was pitiable. Whither should they turn?
In the eighteenth century Jews were not in request or made welcome on
account of their wealth as they had been before. As though Eibeschütz
felt himself in a measure to blame for their misfortunes, he took
trouble to obtain relief for them. He preached on their behalf in Metz,
addressed letters to the communities in the south of France, Bayonne
and Bordeaux, asking for aid, and wrote to the Roman community begging
them to intercede with the pope on behalf of their unhappy brethren. It
was all of but little avail. More efficacious appears to have been the
intercession of De Aguilar, Berush Eskeles, and other Jews connected
with the court of Vienna. The clergy, too, spoke on their behalf, and
the ambassadors of Holland and England interceded warmly and urgently
for them. The empress revoked her severe decree, and permitted the Jews
in both the royal provinces to remain for an indefinite time (May 15,
1745). In the case of the Prague community alone, which was chiefly
under suspicion, the strictness of the decree was not relaxed. Not till
some years later, in consequence of a declaration by the states of the
empire "that their departure would entail a loss of many millions" was
the residence of all Jews prolonged to ten years, but under degrading
conditions. They were to be diminished rather than be permitted to
increase, their exact number being fixed. Only the eldest son was
permitted to found a family. Some 20,000 "Familianten," as they were
called, were allowed in Bohemia and 5,100 in Moravia, who were obliged
to pay annually to the imperial treasury a sum of about 200,000 gulden.
These restrictions were maintained almost up to the Revolution of 1848.
Jonathan Eibeschütz rightly or wrongly was declared a traitor to his
country, and forbidden ever to set foot on Austrian soil.

If, during the first years passed in Metz, he was so popular that the
community would not allow him to accept the post of rabbi at Fürth,
offered to him, he must have made himself disagreeable later on, as
during his difficulties, he could not find supporters there, nor any
witnesses to his innocence. If he committed only a small portion of the
mean actions with which he was reproached, his life must have presented
a striking contrast to the sermons which he composed. Eibeschütz
did not feel at home in Metz; he missed the bustling, argumentative
band of young admirers, and the wide platform on which to display
his Talmudical erudition. In France there were fewer students of the
Talmud. It was therefore pardonable that he strenuously exerted himself
to obtain the post of rabbi of the "three communities" (Hamburg,
Altona, and Wandsbeck). Thanks to the efforts of his connections and
admirers, and his fame as the most distinguished of Talmudists and
miracle workers, the choice fell on him. As the Jews of the three
towns had their own civil jurisdiction, based on Rabbinical law, they
required an acute rabbi, a lawyer, and they could not, from this point
of view, have made a better selection.

But an evil spirit seems to have entered Altona with his instalment,
which threw into disorder not only the three communities, but also the
whole of German and Polish Judaism. Eibeschütz, though not free from
blame, must not alone be made answerable. The tendency of the age was
culpable, and Jacob Emden, an unattached rabbi, was more especially the
prime mover in the strife. He desired to unmask hypocrisy, and in doing
so laid bare the nakedness of his Jewish contemporaries.

Jacob Emden Ashkenazi (abbreviated to Jabez; born 1698, died 1776)
resembled his father Chacham Zevi, as a branch its parent stem; or
rather he made the father whom he admired extravagantly his model in
everything. The perverted spirit of the age prevented his following his
natural bent and inspirations. A true son of the Talmud, he seriously
believed that a Jew ought to occupy himself with other branches
of knowledge only during "the hour of twilight," and considered it
unlawful to read newspapers on the Sabbath. He, too, was well versed in
the Talmud, and set a high value on the Kabbala and the Zohar, of the
dangerous extravagances of which he at first knew nothing. Philosophy,
although he possessed no knowledge of it, was an abomination to
him. In his perverseness he maintained it to be impossible that the
philosophical work, "The Guide," could have been composed by the
orthodox rabbi, Maimuni. In character he was just, truth-loving, and
staunch, herein forming a sharp contrast to Jonathan Eibeschütz.
Whatever he considered as truth or false, he did not hesitate forthwith
to defend or condemn with incisive acuteness; it was contrary to
his nature to conceal, dissimulate, hide his opinions, or play the
hypocrite. He differed from Eibeschütz in another respect. The latter
was agreeable, pliant, careless, cheerful, and sociable; Emden, on the
contrary, was unsociable, unbending, earnest, melancholy, and a lover
of solitude. Well-to-do, and maintaining himself by his business, Emden
was always disinclined to undertake the office of a rabbi. He was too
well aware of his own craving for independence, his awkwardness, and
impetuosity. Only once was he induced to accept the office of rabbi,
in Emden (from which he derived his surname); but he relinquished
it after a few years on account of his dislike to the work and from
ill-health, and settled in Altona. He obtained from the king of Denmark
the privilege of establishing a printing-press; built a house with a
private synagogue, and, with his family and a few friends, formed a
community within the community. He indeed visited the exchange, but he
lived enwrapped in a dreamworld of his own.

Emden was on the list of candidates for the appointment of rabbi to
the "three communities." His few friends worked for him, and urged
him to exert himself to try and obtain the post. He, however, resisted
all their solicitations, and declared decidedly, that he would not
accept the election even if the choice fell on him, but he was none
the less aggrieved that he obtained only a few votes, and entertained
an unfriendly feeling towards Eibeschütz, because he was preferred.
There was another peculiarity in Emden's character: his antipathy to
heretics. His father Chacham Zevi had undauntedly pursued Nehemiah
Chayon and the other Sabbatians, and had brought himself into painful
positions by so doing. Emden desired nothing more ardently than to
follow his father, and would not have shunned martyrdom in the cause.
Since the return of Moses Chages to Palestine, he considered himself
the watchman on behalf of orthodoxy among his fellow-believers. He was
a Jewish grand inquisitor, and was in readiness to hurl the thunders
of excommunication whenever heresy, particularly the Sabbatian, should
show itself. The opportunity of exercising his unpaid office of
inquisitor, of proving his zeal for orthodoxy, and even of suffering in
its behalf, was granted him by Jonathan Eibeschütz.

At the time when Eibeschütz entered on his duties as rabbi a painful
agitation was prevalent among the Jews of the "three communities."
Within the year several young women had died in childbirth. Every wife
in expectation of becoming a mother awaited the approaching hour with
increasing anxiety. The coming of the new rabbi, who should drive away
the destroying angel by whom young women had been selected as victims,
was awaited with eager longing. At that time a rabbi was regarded as a
protector against every species of evil (Megîn), a sort of magician,
and the wives of Hamburg and Altona expected still greater things from
Jonathan Eibeschütz, who had been heralded by his admirers as the most
gifted of rabbis and a worker of miracles. How would he respond to
these exaggerated expectations? Even if he had been honest, Eibeschütz
would have been forced to resort to some mystification to assert his
authority in his new office. Therefore, immediately after his arrival,
he prepared talismans--writings for exorcising spirits (Cameos,
Kameoth)--for the terrified women, and indulged in other forms of
magic to impose upon the credulous. He had distributed similar amulets
in Metz, Frankfort-on-the-Main, and other places. From Frankfort a
rumor had reached Altona that the talismans of Eibeschütz were of
an altogether different nature to what they usually were, and that
they were heretical in character. Out of curiosity one of the amulets
distributed by the chief rabbi Jonathan Eibeschütz, was opened in
Altona, and was found to contain the following invocation:

    "O God of Israel, Thou who dwellest in the adornment of Thy
    might [a Kabbalistic allusion], send through the merit of Thy
    servant Sabbataï Zevi healing for this woman, whereby Thy name
    and the name of Thy Messiah, Sabbataï Zevi, may be sanctified
    in the world."

It is hard to tell which is more surprising--Eibeschütz's stupid belief
in and attachment to the impostor of Smyrna, who had apostatized from
Judaism, or his imprudence in thus exposing himself. He had indeed
altered the words a little, and put certain letters to represent
others; but he must have known that the key to his riddle was easy to
find. These attempts at deception naturally did not remain a secret.
The amulets came into the hands of Emden, who no longer entertained a
doubt that Eibeschütz still adhered to the Sabbatian heresy. Though
he rejoiced greatly at having found an opportunity to exercise his
office of inquisitor, he in a measure recoiled from the consequences
of doing so. Was it wise to begin a contest with a man who had an
extensive reputation as the most learned Talmudist of his day, as an
orthodox rabbi, whose numerous disciples--over 20,000 it was said--were
rabbis, officials of communities, and holders of influential posts,
who clung to him with admiration, and were ready to form a phalanx
round him and exert all their energies in his defense? On the other
hand, the matter could not be suppressed, it having been discussed
in the Jews' quarter and on exchange. The elders felt obliged to
interrogate Eibeschütz on the matter, and he replied by a pitiful
evasion. The council, whether believing Eibeschütz or not, was bound
to lend him a helping hand in burying the matter. What a disgrace
for the highly respected "three communities," which a quarter of a
century earlier had condemned and branded the Sabbatians as heretics,
that they themselves should have chosen a Sabbatian as their chief
rabbi! Jacob Emden, from whose zeal the worst was to be dreaded, was
partially beguiled by flatteries, partially intimidated by threats,
to refrain from publishing the affair. But these threats against him
necessarily led to publicity. Emden solemnly declared in his synagogue
that he held the writer of the amulets to be a Sabbatian heretic who
deserved to be excommunicated, that he did not charge the chief rabbi
with their composition, but that the latter was in duty bound to clear
himself from suspicion. This declaration caused a deep sensation in
the "three communities," and aroused vehement animosity. The council,
and the greater part of the community, regarded it as a gross piece
of presumption and as an encroachment upon their jurisdiction. The
friends of Eibeschütz, especially his disciples, fanned the flame.
Religious hero-worship was so prevalent that some did not hesitate to
declare that if their rabbi believed in Sabbataï Zevi, they would share
his belief. Without putting Emden on trial the council arbitrarily
decreed that no one, under pain of excommunication, should attend his
synagogue, which was to be closed, and that he should not publish
anything at his printing establishment. And now began a struggle which
at first produced abundant evil, but which in the end had a purifying
effect. Jonathan Eibeschütz published the affair far and wide among
his numerous friends and disciples in Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland,
and painted himself as an innocent man unjustly accused, and Jacob
Emden as an audacious fellow who had the presumption to brand him as
a heretic. He was hurried along from one untruth to another, from
violence to violence; but he nevertheless had many partisans to support
him. Jacob Emden on the contrary stood well-nigh alone, for the few who
adhered to him had not the courage to come forward openly. He however
informed his friends, Eibeschütz's enemies, on the same day of what had
occurred. The foolish affair of the amulets thus acquired a notoriety
which it was impossible to check. Every Jew capable of forming an
opinion on the subject took one side or the other; the majority adhered
to Eibeschütz. Many indeed could not conceive it possible that so
distinguished a Talmudist could be a Sabbatian, and the accusation
against him was accounted base slander on the part of the irascible and
malignant Emden. Great ignorance prevailed with regard to the character
and history of the Sabbatians (or Shäbs, as they were termed), for
a quarter of a century had passed since they had been everywhere
excommunicated. Public opinion was therefore at first in Eibeschütz's

Eibeschütz thoroughly understood how to win over opponents to his
side, and to soothe them with illusions. He convened a meeting in the
synagogue, and took a solemn oath that he did not adhere to a single
article of the Sabbatian creed; if he did, might fire and brimstone
descend on him from heaven! He went on to anathematize this sect with
all kinds of maledictions, and excommunicated his adversaries who had
slandered him, and originated these elements of strife. This solemn
declaration made a deep impression. Who could doubt the innocence of a
rabbi of such high standing when he called God to witness respecting
it? The council of the "three communities" considered itself fully
justified in ordering Emden, as a common slanderer, to leave Altona.
As he refused, and referred to the charter granted him by the king, he
was cut off from all intercourse with others, pursued by intrigues,
and relentlessly persecuted. This treatment only aroused Emden to
more strenuous efforts. Letters had meantime been sent from Metz with
other amulets (1751), which Eibeschütz had distributed there, and the
genuineness of which he had himself admitted, clearly demonstrating
that he revered Sabbataï Zevi as the Messiah and saviour. The Metz
amulets were in the main of the same character:--

    "In the name of the God of Israel ... of the God of his
    anointed Sabbataï Zevi, through whose wounds healing is come
    to us, who with the breath of His mouth slays the Evil One, I
    adjure all spirits and demons not to injure the bearer of this

A judicial examination of these amulets had been made by the council
of rabbis and elders; and all who had any in their possession were
commanded to deliver them up under pain of excommunication. A royal
procurator confirmed their authenticity; that is to say, they were
proved by the evidence of witnesses under oath to be the work of
Eibeschütz; who did not find one person of note in Metz to maintain
his honor. It was some small satisfaction to Jacob Emden to know that
he did not stand alone in his conflict; but concurrence in his views
did not profit him much. The members of the "three communities," with
the exception of a small minority, adhered to Eibeschütz, and made his
cause their own. It was forbidden to speak a slanderous word against
the chief rabbi. Elsewhere his enemies made plans--he received
notice from all quarters as to what was designed against him--but
there was no definite scheme. His disciples, on the other hand, were
extraordinarily zealous in his behalf. One of these, Chayim of Lublin,
had the courage, in glorification of Eibeschütz and in defamation of
his opponents, to excommunicate three of the latter in his synagogue,
Jacob Emden, Nehemiah Reischer, and an elder in Metz, Moses Mayo,
because they had dared slander "that most perfect man, Jonathan,
in whom God glorified Himself." This decree of excommunication was
distributed throughout Poland for observance and imitation. The
remaining Polish rabbis agreed with it, either being supporters of
Eibeschütz, or having been bribed, or being indifferent in the matter.
By way of Königsberg and Breslau, for example, large sums were sent to
Poland to commend the case of Eibeschütz to the rabbis of that country.
Matters did not stop at excommunications and anathemas; in Altona (Iyar
25=May) they culminated in a riot. A hand-to-hand fight took place, and
the police had to be called in. In consequence, Jacob Emden, believing
his life to be endangered through the fury of Eibeschütz's partisans,
fled to Amsterdam on the next day, and was kindly received there.
Emden's wife was ordered by the council not to part with any of his
property, as an action for damages would be brought against him.

Eibeschütz was acute enough to perceive that the residence of Jacob
Emden in Amsterdam might prove dangerous, as he would have full scope,
by means of his trenchant pen, to expose the rabbi's past history
through the press. To counteract this, Eibeschütz issued to his
followers in Germany, Poland, and Italy, an encyclical (Letter of Zeal,
Sivan 3, 1751), in which, under the guise of an exhortation to bear
testimony to his orthodoxy, he besought them to make his cause their
own. He urged them to prosecute his adversary with all their energy
and by every possible means: it would be set to their account as a
special merit by the Almighty. It greatly resembled the command of a
popular general to thousands of his soldiers to attack, and pitilessly
ill-treat defenseless men. To complete the delusion, he induced two
men, devotedly attached to mysticism, but not to truth--Elijah
Olianow and Samuel Essingen--to declare that his amulets contained
nothing dangerous or heretical, but a great deal of deep orthodox
mysticism intelligible only to the few.

Eibeschütz had not yet just grounds for rejoicing. The excess of
insolence of the newly-fledged rabbi of Lublin in excommunicating
gray-haired rabbis aroused the leading men in the communities. A
cry of horror resounded from Lorraine to Podolia at this arrogance,
justly suspected to be due to the instigation of Eibeschütz. Three
rabbis at length combined, Joshua Falk, Leb Heschels, and Heilmann,
and others joined them. Eibeschütz was challenged to exculpate himself
before a meeting of rabbis regarding the amulets ascribed to him,
which undeniably were heretical. As was to be anticipated, Eibeschütz
declined to justify himself in any way, and the confederates took
council as to what further steps to take against him. The scandal
continued to increase. The newspapers reported the quarrel amongst
the Jews regarding the rabbi of Altona. Christians naturally could
not comprehend the nature of the dispute. It was said that a vehement
controversy had arisen amongst the Jews as to whether the Messiah
had or had not already appeared. The Jews were derided, because they
preferred to believe in the impostor Sabbataï Zevi, rather than in
Jesus. This reacted on the Jews, and the two parties imputed to each
other the offense of this scandal, this "profanation of God's name."
An energetic man, Baruch Yavan, of Poland, transferred the schism to
that country. He was a disciple of Falk, agent to the notorious Saxon
minister Brühl, and enjoyed considerable reputation in Poland. Through
his intrigues, a Polish magnate deprived Chayim Lublin of his office
as rabbi, and ordered him and his father to be thrown into prison
(Elul=September, 1751). In Poland the controversy assumed an ugly
character--bribery, information through spies, acts of violence,
and treachery being among its leading features. Seceders from each
party betrayed the secrets of one to the other. Every fair and every
synod were battlefields, where the partisans of Eibeschütz and Falk
contended. The proceedings at the synods were more disorderly than
those in the Polish Reichstag. When the defenders of either side proved
more numerous or more energetic, the weaker party was excommunicated.
The supporters of Eibeschütz were in the main more active. Count Brühl
made them as many empty promises of protection, as he bestowed on their
opponents through Baruch Yavan.

In Germany, naturally, matters were conducted with more moderation.
The triumvirate of rabbis published a decision to the effect that the
writer of the Sabbatian amulets should be cut off from communion with
Israel. Every devout Jew lay under obligation to persecute him to the
utmost of his power. No one might study the Talmud under his guidance.
All who supported his cause were to be excommunicated. No mention
was made of Eibeschütz's name. Many German rabbis concurred in this
moderate decision, as also the Venetian rabbis who had excommunicated
Luzzatto. The resolution was delivered to Eibeschütz and the council
of the "three communities" (February, 1752), and notice was given
to Eibeschütz that within two months he must clear himself before
a rabbinical court of arbitration of the suspicion that he was the
author of heretical amulets, failing which his name would be publicly
stigmatized. This sentence of excommunication was to be printed by
the Venetian council of rabbis, and published throughout the East and
Africa. But Eibeschütz understood how to meet this blow craftily.
The Italian rabbis were, for the most part, reluctant to burn their
fingers in this violent quarrel, and declined to participate in any
way. The council of rabbis at Leghorn, especially Malachi Cohen,
the last of the Italian rabbinical authorities, inclined towards
the side of Eibeschütz. The Portuguese in Amsterdam and London
designedly kept themselves aloof from this domestic squabble among
the Germans and Poles. One broker of Amsterdam, David Pinto, alone
espoused Eibeschütz's cause, and threatened Emden with his anger if
he continued his hostility. The council of rabbis in Constantinople,
dazzled by Eibeschütz's illustrious name, or in some way deceived,
declared decidedly for him, but would not pronounce a direct sentence
of excommunication against his antagonists. What they neglected
was done by a so-called envoy from Jerusalem, Abraham Israel, a
presumptuous mendicant, who as a representative of the Holy Land and
the Jewish nation, imprecated and anathematized all who should utter
a slanderous word against Eibeschütz. Thus almost the whole of Israel
was excommunicated; on the one side those who showed enmity towards the
illustrious chief rabbi of the "three communities," and on the other
those who supported that heretic. Thus the effects of excommunication
were nullified, or rather it became ridiculous, and with it a phase of
rabbinical Judaism disappeared.

A new turn was given this disagreeable controversy when it was
transferred from its home to the law courts of the Christians. The
fanaticism of Eibeschütz's followers was more to blame than the
conduct of their opponents. One of the elders of Altona, who had so
far remained true to the cause of the persecutors, in a letter to his
brother showed himself somewhat doubtful of its justice. This letter
was opened by the followers of Eibeschütz, and the writer was set down
as a traitor, expelled from the council, ill-treated, and threatened
with banishment from Altona. There remained no alternative for him
but to address himself to the government of Holstein, to the king of
Denmark, Frederick V, and unsparingly expose all the illegalities,
meannesses, and violence of which Eibeschütz and his party had been
guilty. The injustice of the council towards Jacob Emden and his wife
was discussed in connection with the affair. An authenticated copy
of the suspected amulets was translated into German. The trial was
conducted with extreme bitterness; both parties spared no expense. The
plaintiff and his faction in their anger did not confine themselves to
necessary statements, but treacherously stigmatized as a crime much
that was of an innocent nature. King Frederick, who loved justice,
and his minister Bernstorff, gave judgment against the followers
of Eibeschütz (June 3, 1752). The council of Altona was severely
censured for its illegal and harsh treatment of Jacob Emden, and
punished with a fine of 100 thalers. Emden was not only permitted
to return to Altona, but the use of his synagogue and his printing
establishment was restored. Eibeschütz was deprived of authority as
rabbi of the Hamburg community, and ordered to clear himself with
regard to the incriminating amulets, and to answer fifteen questions
propounded to him. Events thus took an unfortunate turn for him. Even
the well-intentioned letter of a partisan sent from Poland served
to show how desperate his case was. Ezekiel Landau (born 1720, died
1793) as a young man had aroused hopes that he would become a second
Jonathan Eibeschütz in rabbinical learning and sagacity. His opinion
as rabbi of Jampol (Podolia) carried great weight. Landau wrote with
youthful simplicity and straightforwardness to Eibeschütz that the
amulets which he had seen were without doubt Sabbatian and heretical.
He, therefore, could not believe that the honored and devout rabbi
of Altona had written them. For that reason he was as much in favor
of condemning the amulets, as of upholding Jonathan Eibeschütz and
declaring war against his adversaries. He entreated Eibeschütz to
condemn the amulets as heretical, and when occasion offered clear
himself from the accusation that he was the author of the slanderous
writings, full of unworthy expressions about God, and to condemn them
leaf by leaf. This was a severe blow from the hand of a friend. As
Eibeschütz had acknowledged the amulets to be genuine, and had only
sophistically explained away their heresy, he was now in evil case.
A follower of Emden's in addition published the correspondence and
decisions of Eibeschütz's enemies, which stigmatized his conduct,
together with an account of the amulets and their true interpretation
("The Language of Truth," printed August, 1752). Emden himself
published the history of the false Messiah, Sabbataï Zevi, and the
visionaries and knaves who had succeeded him, down to Chayon and
Luzzatto, vividly describing the errors and disorderly excesses of
the Sabbatians for his own generation, which was careless with regard
to historical events, and had but scanty, confused knowledge on the
subject. Thus it was made clear to many that the Sabbatian heresy aimed
at nothing less than the dethronement of the God of Israel in favor
of a phantom, and the dissolution of Judaism by means of Kabbalistic
chimeras. But the worst that befell Eibeschütz was that Emden
himself returned unmolested to Altona, and had the prospect of being
indemnified for his losses.

The danger in which Eibeschütz found himself of being unmasked as
a heretic in the courts of law, and before the eyes of the world,
determined him to a step which a rabbi of the old stamp of honest
piety, even under peril of death, would not have taken. He associated
himself with an apostate baptized Jew, formerly his pupil, in order to
obtain assistance from him in his difficulties. Moses Gerson Cohen,
of Mitau, who, on his mother's side, was descended from Chayim Vital
Calabrese, had studied the Talmud under Eibeschütz in Prague for seven
years, then traveled in the East, and, after his return to Europe,
had been baptized in Wolfenbüttel under the name Charles Anton. He
was appointed by his patron, the duke of Brunswick, Reader in Hebrew
in Helmstädt. It was afterwards proved that this convert had become a
Christian solely from self-interest.

To him the chief rabbi of the "three communities" secretly repaired in
order to induce him to compose a vindication, or rather a panegyric, of
his conduct. It is evident on the face of it, even at the present day,
that the work was written "to order," and it transpired that Eibeschütz
had dictated it to Charles Anton. He is extolled as the most sagacious
and upright Jew of his time, as a man versed in philosophy, history,
and mathematics, and as a persecuted victim. Jacob Emden, on the other
hand, is represented as an incompetent, envious fellow. Anton dedicated
this work to the king of Denmark, and commended to him the case of the
alleged innocent and persecuted man. This work, with another cunningly
chosen expedient, had favorable results for Eibeschütz. He had screened
himself not only behind a baptized Jew, but behind a princess. King
Frederick V had married, as his second wife, a princess of Brunswick,
Maria Juliana, and a Jewish agent--a partisan of Eibeschütz--did
business at the court of Brunswick. The latter made the most of his
direct and indirect influence with the young Danish princess, and said
a good word to her on behalf of the chief rabbi under accusation
of heresy. With the comment that the majority of rabbis except some
litigious, malevolent individuals sided with Eibeschütz--proof of
the justice of his cause--the court suppressed the amulet case. A
royal decree, forbidding the continuation of this controversy, was read
aloud in the Altona synagogue (February 7, 1753). At the suggestion
of the government the vote of the community with regard to Eibeschütz
was again taken, and resulted in his favor. He then took the oath of
fealty to the king, and his position was more assured than ever. His
sagacity had a second time gained the day, but his success was only
transitory. The number of his enemies had materially increased even in
Altona through the far-reaching dissensions and the better knowledge
of his character gleaned little by little. His adversaries did not
allow themselves to be silenced by the king's arbitrary decision
without making another effort; and the rabbinical triumvirate urged
them to petition for a revision of the heresy proceedings against
Eibeschütz, and try to convince the king that the assertion that the
majority of the rabbis were his partisans was entirely false, that, on
the contrary, he was supported only by his relatives and disciples.
The three rabbis and the rabbi of Hanover laid before the council a
demand to consider Eibeschütz as excommunicated, and forbid him to
exercise any rabbinical function until he repented of his heresy,
and promised amendment. Hostile writings by Emden and others fed the
fire of dissension; they were written in vehement, pitiless language
and were full of petty gossip. To calm the public wrath, the Altona
council with great difficulty induced Eibeschütz to make a binding
declaration that he was prepared of his own free-will to justify
himself before an impartial rabbinical court of arbitration, and submit
to its decision (beginning of 1753). This only inflamed the strife.
Eibeschütz proposed as his judges two rabbis, of Lissa and Glogau,
men but little known, who were to add a third to their number. But the
opposite party insisted that the court be composed of Joshua Falk and
his colleagues. This angered Eibeschütz, who lost the calmness of mind
he had hitherto maintained. At one time he desired to submit his cause
to the rabbis of Constantinople, at another he proposed the Synod of
the Four Polish Countries, to meet in Jaroslav late in the summer of
1753. He appears to have reckoned on obtaining a favorable sentence
from this assemblage of many rabbis and influential persons. Relying on
this, he believed that he could easily free himself from the compact
forced upon him, of submitting to arbitration. He is said to have
managed this by giving information at court that the royal prerogative
had been encroached upon by this proposed appeal from the judgment of
the sovereign to that of the rabbis. Both parties were therefore fined
by the magistrates. This only increased his enemies, and several of his
warmest supporters, former members of the communal council, renounced
him, and proclaimed him, not only a heretic, but an intriguer. These
opponents complained once more to the king with regard to the prevalent
dissensions in the community, of which he was the cause. They could
not, they said, obtain impartial judgment from him in their lawsuits,
because he allowed himself to be guided in his decisions by spite and
passion. The justice-loving king gave these complaints his attention.
He desired to arrive at a definite conclusion with regard to the case,
whether Eibeschütz was an arch-heretic, as his opponents maintained, or
a persecuted innocent, as he described himself.

With this in view the king ordered certain Christian professors and
theologians versed in Hebrew, to give him their opinion with regard to
the amulets. Eibeschütz felt uneasy at the turn affairs had taken; he
feared that the matter might prove disastrous to him. To place himself
in a favorable light he resolved on a course which he had hitherto
hesitated to adopt--to dispose public opinion in his favor through
the press. As things then stood, there was no other course open to
him, and he therefore composed a defense--"The Tables of Testimony,"
completed Tammuz 18, end of June, 1755, the first production of his
pen. As might have been expected from a man of his ability, it is
skillfully worked out; and he places his case in a favorable light. But
Eibeschütz was unable to convince either his impartial contemporaries
or posterity of his innocence. On the contrary, his vindication, and
much of the evidence adduced, clearly betray his guilt. Emden and
his disciple David Gans did not fail to publish refutations, drawing
attention to weak points, and throwing doubt on the testimony in favor
of Eibeschütz.

A publication by a professor and pastor, David Frederick Megerlin,
early in 1756, made a fresh diversion, apparently in Eibeschütz's
favor, with respect to this vexed question. This confused babbler and
proselytizer, induced by the order of the Danish king to pronounce an
opinion upon the matter, imagined that he had discovered the key to
the enigmatical amulets of Eibeschütz, the disputed characters which
his opponents explained as referring to Sabbataï Zevi being nothing
less than a mystic allusion to Jesus Christ! The chief rabbi of Altona
and Hamburg was at heart attached to the Christian faith, Megerlin
maintained, but dared not come out openly through fear of the Jews. He
himself, it is true, and his disciple, Charles Anton, had explained
these amulets in quite another way, not in a Christian sense; but
the latter had not comprehended the deeper meaning, and Eibeschütz
had composed his vindication only for Polish Jews. In his heart of
hearts the chief rabbi was a true believer in Christianity. Megerlin,
therefore, called on the king of Denmark to protect Eibeschütz against
the persecutions of the Jews, especially against the calumnies of
Jacob Emden, who hated and persecuted the Christians, as his father
had persecuted Chayon, also a secret Christian. In his folly Megerlin
exhorted Eibeschütz most earnestly to throw off his mask, resign the
post of rabbi of the "three communities," and allow himself to be
baptized. He also addressed a circular letter to the Jews, urging
them to arrange a general convention of rabbis and openly glorify
Christianity. Had Eibeschütz possessed a spark of honor he would have
repudiated, even at the risk of losing the king's favor, his supposed
adherence to Christianity. But he did not take the smallest step
to answer the charge of hypocrisy; he was content to profit by it.
Megerlin's arguments, foolish as they were, convinced King Frederick.
He revoked the suspension from office with which Eibeschütz was
threatened, and decreed that the Jews of the Altona community should
show him obedience. The Hamburg senate, also, again acknowledged him
as rabbi of the German community. Eibeschütz exulted, and his admirers
prepared a solemn triumph for him (Chanukkah--middle of December,
1756). His disciples, clad as knights, marched through the streets
shouting, till they reached the rabbi's house, where they arranged a
dancing-party. The six years of strife which had aroused every evil
passion among the Jews, from Lorraine to Podolia, and from the Elbe to
the Po, ended apparently in a dance. But at the same time Eibeschütz
in another direction suffered defeat, which branded him in the eyes of
those who had hitherto spoken favorably of him and supported him.

Facts flatly contradicted his assertion, put forward through his
mouthpiece, Charles Anton, that "there were no longer any Sabbatians."
They raised their serpent heads and shot forth their tongues full of
poisonous rage at this very moment. The seed which Chayim Malach had
scattered in Poland was by no means checked in growth by the anathemas
of the rabbis. They had only forced the Sabbatians to disguise
themselves better, and to counterfeit death; but they flourished
secretly, and their following increased. Some towns in Podolia and
Pakotia were full of Talmudists who, in Sabbatian fashion, scoffed
at the Talmud, rejected the law of Judaism, and, under the mask of
ascetic discipline, lived impure lives. The disorders to which the
dispute regarding Eibeschütz had given rise in Poland encouraged the
Polish Sabbatians to venture from their hiding-places and raise their
masks a little. The time seemed favorable for an attempt to cast aside
odious religious rites, and openly to come forward as anti-Talmudists.
They needed a spirited leader to gather the scattered band, give it
cohesion, and mark out a line of action. This leader now presented
himself, and with his appearance began a new movement which threw the
whole Jewish world of Poland into intense agitation and despair. This
leader was the notorious Jacob Frank.

Jankiev Lejbovicz (that is, Jacob son of Leb) of Galicia, was one of
the worst, most subtle, and most deceitful rascals of the eighteenth
century. He could cheat the most sagacious, and veil his frauds so
cleverly that after his death many still believed him an admirable man,
who bore through life, and carried to the grave, most weighty secrets.
He understood the art of deception even in his youth, and boasted how
he had duped his own father. As a young man he traveled in Turkey
in the service of a Jewish gentleman, and in Salonica entered into
relations with the Sabbatians or Jewish Moslems there. If he did not
learn from them how to work deceptive and mystifying miracles, he at
all events learnt indifference towards all forms of religion. He became
a Mahometan, as afterwards a Catholic, for so long as it served his
purpose, and changed his religion as one changes one's clothes. From
his long sojourn in Turkey he acquired the name of Frank, or Frenk.
Ignorant of Talmudical literature, as he himself confessed, he was
acquainted with the Zoharist Kabbala, explained it to suit his purpose,
and took peculiar pleasure in the doctrine of metempsychosis, by virtue
of which the successive Messiahs were not visionaries or impostors, but
the embodiment of one and the same Messianic soul. King David, Elijah,
Jesus, Mahomet, Sabbataï Zevi, and his imitators, down to Berachya,
were one and the same personality, which had assumed different bodily
forms. Why should not he himself be another incarnation of the Messiah?
Although Jacob Frank, or Lejbovicz, loved money dearly, he accounted it
only a lever by which to raise himself; he wished to play a brilliant
part and surround himself with a mysterious halo. Circumstances were
exceptionally favorable to him. He married in Nicopolis (Turkey) a
very beautiful wife, through whom he attracted followers. He collected
by degrees a small number of Turkish and Wallachian Jews, who shared
his loose principles, and held him to be a superior being--the
latest embodiment of the Messiah. He could not, however, carry on his
mischievous schemes in Turkey, where he was persecuted.

Frank appears to have obtained intelligence of the schism in Poland
caused by the Eibeschütz controversy, and thought that he might
utilize the propitious moment to gather round him the Sabbatians of
Podolia, and play a part among them, and by means of them. He came
suddenly amongst them, visiting many towns of Podolia and the Lemberg
district, where secret Sabbatians resided, with whom he may have been
in communication previously. They fell, so to speak, into his arms.
Frank needed followers, and they were seeking a leader. Now they found
one who had come to them with a full purse, of the contents of which
he was not sparing. In a trice he won the Sabbatians of Podolia. Frank
disclosed himself to them as the successor of Sabbataï, or, what was
the same thing, as the new-born soul of the Sabbatian chief Berachya.
What this manifestation signified was known to the initiated. They
understood by it the blasphemous and at the same time absurd theory
of a kind of Trinity, consisting of the Holy and Most Ancient One,
the Holy King, and a female person in the Godhead. Frank, like his
predecessors, attributed the chief importance to the Holy King, at once
the Messiah and God incarnate, and possessed of all power on earth
and in heaven. Frank ordered his followers to address him as the Holy
Lord. In virtue of his participation in the Godhead, the Messiah was
able to do all things, even miracles, and Frank did perform miracles,
as his followers maintained. The adherents whom he brought in his
train, and whom he gathered round him in Poland, believed so strongly
in his divine nature that they addressed to him mystic prayers in
the language of the Zohar, with the same formulas that the Donmäh
of Salonica were wont to address to Jacob Querido and Berachya. In
short, Frank formed a sect from the Sabbatians of Podolia, called by
his name, "Frankists." Their founder taught his disciples to acquire
riches for themselves, even by fraudulent and dishonest means. Deceit
was nothing more than skillful artifice. Their chief task was to
undermine rabbinical Judaism, and to oppose and annihilate the Talmud.
This task they undertook with a passion which perhaps owed its origin
to the constraints imposed upon them through fear of persecution. The
Frankists opposed the Zohar to the Talmud, and Simon bar Yochaï, its
alleged author, to the other authorities of the Talmud, as though in
earlier times the former had combated the latter and accused them of
being the falsifiers of Judaism. The true teaching of Moses was said
to be contained only in the Zohar, which had declared the whole of
rabbinical Judaism to be on a lower level--a fact which blundering
Kabbalists had so long overlooked. The Frankists, more clear-sighted,
had discovered the half-concealed secret of the Zohar. They rightly
called themselves anti-Talmudists as well as Zoharites. With a certain
childish frowardness they did exactly those things which rabbinical
Judaism strongly prohibited, and neglected those which the latter
prescribed, not only in points of ritual, but also with regard to
marriage and the laws of chastity. Among these anti-Talmudic Frankists
were found rabbis and so-called preachers (Darshanim, Maggidim), Jehuda
Leb Krysa, rabbi of Nadvorna, and Rabbi Nachman ben Samuel Levi of
Busk. Of especial reputation among Polish Sabbatians was Elisha Schor
of Rohatyn, an aged man, descended from distinguished Polish rabbis.
He, his sons, his daughter Chaya (who knew the Zohar by heart, and
was considered a prophetess), his grandson, and sons-in-law were from
an early period thoroughgoing Sabbatians, to whom it was a positive
pleasure to deride rabbinical precepts.

During the first months after his return to Poland, Frank held
secret conferences with the anti-Talmudists of Podolia, as a public
demonstration was attended with danger. One day, he with about
twenty of his followers was surprised in Laskorun in a conventicle.
The Frankists declared that they had been singing psalms in the
Zohar language, while their adversaries asserted that they had been
performing an indecent dance around a half-naked woman, and kissing
her. Many gathered about the inn to force their way in; others ran to
the police to give information that a Turk had stolen into Podolia to
pervert the Jews to the Mahometan religion and make them emigrate to
Turkey, and that those who had joined him were leading an Adamite,
that is to say dissolute, life. The police immediately interposed,
broke open the barricaded doors, and expelled the Frankists. Frank was
dismissed next day as a foreigner, and repaired to the neighboring
Turkish territory; and the Podolian Frankists were kept in custody. The
incident made a sensation, and was perhaps intentionally exaggerated.
Like wild-fire the news concerning the Sabbatians spread. It can be
imagined what this defiance of Rabbinical Judaism meant in those days,
especially in Poland, where the most insignificant religious rites were
sedulously observed. It was now discovered that, in the midst of the
excessive piety which characterized the Poles, a number of persons,
brought up in the knowledge of the Talmud, scoffed at the whole system
of Rabbinical Judaism. The rabbis and elders forthwith began to employ
the usual weapons of excommunication and persecution against the
offenders, and the secret heretics were hunted out. Won over by large
sums, the Polish authorities energetically supported the persecutors.
Those in distress showed signs of repentance, and made public
confession of their misdeeds, which, be they accurate or exaggerated,
present a sad picture of the deterioration of the Polish Jews. Before
the council of rabbis in Satanov, in open court, several men and women
stated that they and their friends had not only treated the rites of
Judaism with contempt, but had abandoned themselves to fornication,
adultery, incest, and other iniquities, and had done so in accordance
with Kabbalistic-mystic teachings. The penitents declared that Frank
had taught his followers to scoff at chastity.

In consequence of this evidence a solemn sentence of excommunication,
during the reading of which tapers were extinguished, was pronounced in
Brody against the Frankists: no one might intermarry with them, their
sons and daughters were to be treated as bastards, and none who were
even suspected could be admitted to the post of rabbi, to any religious
office, or to the profession of teacher. Every one was in duty bound
to denounce and unmask the secret Sabbatians. This excommunication was
repeated in several communities, and finally ratified by a great synod
in Konstantinov on the Jewish New Year (September, 1756). The document
was printed, distributed, and ordered to be read aloud every month
in the synagogues for observance. This sentence of excommunication
contained one point of great importance. No one under thirty years
of age was to be permitted to study the Kabbala. Necessity at length
opened the eyes of the rabbis to the recognition of the impure spring,
which since the time of Lurya had poisoned the sap of the tree of
Judaism. More than four centuries had passed since philosophical
inquiry had been forbidden, and the young Kabbala encouraged. In
their blindness, the rabbis had imagined that they were strengthening
Judaism in placing folly on the throne of wisdom. This course produced
that book of lies, the Zohar, which impudently set itself above the
Holy Writings and the Talmud. Finally, the delusions of the Kabbala
declared a life and death war against rabbinical Judaism. Such were
the fruits of blindness. The members of the synod of Konstantinov
turned in their perplexity to Jacob Emden, who, since his controversy
with Eibeschütz, was accounted the representative of sound orthodoxy.
He, too, enjoyed a triumph, though of an altogether different kind
from the one his antagonist was at the same time celebrating in the
midst of his noisy admirers. The Polish Jews at last began to be aware
that secular knowledge and cultivated eloquence are after all not
altogether objectionable, since they can render assistance to Judaism.
They were desirous that a cultured Portuguese should come to Poland,
endowed with knowledge and readiness of speech, who would represent
them before the Polish magistracy and clergy, in order to suppress the
dangerous Frankist sect.

Jacob Emden, deeply affected by the despairing appeal of his Polish
brethren, came to a conclusion of great importance for succeeding ages.
Sabbatians of all shades appealed to the Zohar as a sacred authority,
as the Bible of a new revelation, excusing all their blasphemies and
indecencies by quotations from it. What if the Zohar should prove
not to be genuine, but only a supposititious work? And this was the
conclusion to which Emden came. The repulsive incidents in Poland first
suggested the inquiry to him, and it became clear to him that at least
a portion of the Zohar was the production of an impostor.

To the question whether it would be lawful to persecute the Frankists,
Jacob Emden answered emphatically in the affirmative. He held them,
according to the accounts received from Poland, to be shameless
transgressors of the most sacred laws of decency and chastity, turning
vice into virtue by means of mystical jugglery. No persuasion, however,
was required from him; when persecution became necessary in Poland the
will to inflict it was never wanting. The Frankists were denounced
to the magistracy and clergy as a new sect, and handed over to the
Catholic Inquisition, and the bishop of Kamieniec, Nicolas Dembowski,
in whose diocese they were apprehended, had no objection to erect a
stake. Frank was cunning enough to avert from his followers the blow
aimed at them and to direct it against their enemies. From Chocim,
where after a brief imprisonment he had settled in safety, he counseled
them to emphasize two points in their defense: that they believed in
a Trinity, and that they rejected the Talmud as a compilation full
of error and blasphemy. His counsel meeting with opposition, he
secretly assembled some of his followers in a small town in Poland, and
reiterated his advice, with the addition that twenty or thirty of them
must quickly be baptized to give more emphasis to their assertions that
they acknowledged the Trinity and rejected the Talmud. To Frank change
of religion was a small matter. The Talmud Jews of the district heard
of Frank's secret conference with his confederates, collected a band,
attacked them, and after using them roughly placed them in confinement.
This proceeding provoked the anti-Talmudists to revenge. They would
not, indeed, be baptized, but they declared before the tribunal of
Bishop Dembowski that they were _almost_ Christians, that they believed
in a Divine Trinity, that the rest of the Jews, who repudiated this
doctrine, did not hold the true faith, and persecuted them on account
of their superiority. To make their breach with Judaism unmistakable,
or to revenge themselves in a very sanguinary way, they made false
accusations, namely, that believers in the Talmud make use of the blood
of Christians, and that the Talmud inculcates the murder of Christians
as a sacred duty. There was no difficulty in trumping up evidence in
favor of the accusation. It was only necessary that some Christian
child should be missing. Something of the kind must have occurred in
Jampol in Podolia (April, 1756), and immediately the most respected
Jews of the town were placed in chains, and the other communities
menaced. Bishop Dembowski and his chapter, rejoiced at their good luck,
favored the Frankists in every way in return for their false evidence,
freed them from prison, protected them from persecution, allowed them
to settle in the diocese of Kamieniec, permitted them to live as they
pleased, and were delighted to foster their hatred of the Talmud Jews.
The bishop flattered himself that, through the Frankists, among whom
were several rabbis, he would be able to convert many Polish Jews to
Catholicism. The new sect passed into the state in which the persecuted
becomes the persecutor.

In order to drive their adversaries to desperation, the Frankists
(1757) petitioned Bishop Dembowski to arrange a disputation between
themselves and the Talmudists, and bound themselves to prove both
the doctrine of the Trinity and the harmful nature of the Talmud,
from the Scriptures and the Zohar. To this the bishop willingly
consented. One of the Frankist rabbis--perhaps old Elisha Schor, of
Rohatyn--composed a confession of faith, which, almost unequaled
for audacity and untruthfulness, is so artful in its explanation of
Sabbatian-Kabbalistic doctrines as to have led the bishop to suppose
that they were in consonance with the Catholic faith, and to drive
their adversaries into a corner. The Frankist confession of faith
contains nine articles. The religion revealed by God to man contains
so many deep mysteries, that it must be thoroughly searched out and
examined; without higher inspiration, however, it cannot be understood.
One of these mysteries is that the Godhead consists of three Persons,
equal to one another, at once a Trinity and a Unity. Another mystery
is that the Godhead assumes human form to manifest itself visibly to
all men. Through the mediation of these deities incarnate, mankind is
redeemed and saved--not through the Messiah expected to assemble
the Jews and lead them back to Jerusalem. The latter is a false
belief: Jerusalem and the Temple will never be rebuilt. The Talmud,
indeed, interprets revealed faith otherwise; but its interpretation is
baneful, and has led its adherents into error and unbelief. The Talmud
contains most revolting statements; such as that Jews are permitted,
indeed, obliged, to deceive and slay Christians. The Zohar, which is
diametrically opposed to the Talmud, offers the only true and correct
interpretation of the Holy Writings. All these absurd statements, the
Frankist confession of faith supported by passages from the Bible and
the Zohar; and to vilify the Talmud, passages in it were intentionally
misrepresented. The creed was printed and published in the Hebrew and
the Polish language. The representatives of the Polish community--
the Synod of the Four Countries--were painfully sensible, in their
desperate situation, of the want of education prevalent among them.
They could not produce a single man who could expose the imposture
of the Frankists and the hollowness of their creed in well-turned or
even tolerable language. The proud leaders of the Synod behaved like
children in their anxiety. They helplessly devised extravagant schemes,
wished to appeal to the pope, and to incite the Portuguese in Amsterdam
and Rome to protect them from the machinations of their vindictive

Bishop Dembowski consented to the proposition of the Frankists, and
issued a command that the Talmudists send deputies to a disputation at
Kamieniec, failing which he would punish them and burn the Talmud as a
book hostile to Christianity. In vain the Polish Jews referred to their
ancient privileges, screened themselves behind great nobles, and spent
large sums of money. They were obliged to prepare for the disputation
and render account to the enemies they had so greatly despised. Only
a few rabbis appeared. What could the representatives of the Talmud,
with their profound ignorance and halting speech, effect against the
audacious denunciations of the Frankists, particularly as they also
acknowledged the Zohar as a sacred book, and this, as a matter of
fact, formulates the doctrine of a kind of Trinity! What happened at
the disputation of Kamieniec has never transpired. The Talmudists were
accounted as vanquished and refuted. Bishop Dembowski publicly declared
(October 14, 1757), that, as the anti-Talmudists had set down in
writing and proved the chief points of their confession of faith, they
were permitted everywhere to hold disputations with the Talmudists.
Copies of the Talmud were ordered to be confiscated, brought to
Kamieniec, and there publicly burned by the hangman. Dembowski was
permitted arbitrarily to favor the one party and condemn the other.
The king of Poland and his minister, Count Brühl, troubled themselves
but little about internal affairs, still less about the Jews. Hence
Dembowski, who at about that time was made archbishop of Lemberg, was
allowed with the aid of the clergy, the police, and the Frankists,
to search for copies of the Talmud and other rabbinical writings in
the towns of his bishopric, collect them at Kamieniec, and drag them
through the streets in mockery. Only the Bible and the Zohar were to
be spared, as in the time of the Talmud persecution under Popes Julius
IV and Pius V. Nearly a thousand copies of the Talmud were thrown into
a great pit at Kamieniec and burnt by the hangman. The Talmudists
could do nothing, but groan, weep, and proclaim a rigorous fast-day
on account of "the burning of the Torah." It was the Kabbala that had
kindled the torches for the funeral pile of the Talmud. The clergy, in
conjunction with the anti-Talmudists, daily made domiciliary visits
into Jewish houses to confiscate copies of the Talmud.

To free themselves and all other Jews from the oft repeated, and as
often refuted, accusation of child-murder, which the abject Frankists
had confirmed, the Jewish Talmudists sent Eliakim Selig (Selek) to
Benedictus XIV, to procure an official exposure of the falsehood of the
charge brought against Jews. Eliakim's determination and persistence
succeeded in obtaining this authoritative acquittal in Rome at the end
of 1757.

Suddenly Bishop Dembowski died (November 17, 1757) a violent death,
and this led to a new development in the controversy. Persecution of
the Talmudists immediately ceased, and from that time the Frankists
were persecuted, imprisoned, and declared outlaws. Their beards were
shaved off as a mark of disgrace and to make them easily recognizable.
The majority, no longer able to maintain themselves in Kamieniec,
fled to the neighboring province of Bessarabia. But they were even
more disturbed under Turkish jurisdiction. Their persecutors informed
the Jewish community of the arrival of the anti-Talmudists in their
district and of their injuriousness to Judaism, and the former had
only to notify the Pasha and the Cadi that these supposed Polish Jews
were not under the protection of the Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi) of
Constantinople in order to invite the Turks to fall upon the newcomers
and mercilessly rob and ill-treat them. In despair the Frankists
wandered restlessly about the borderlands of Podolia and Bessarabia.
At length they addressed the king of Poland, and implored him to
confirm the privilege tolerating their worship granted them by Bishop
Dembowski. Augustus III, the weakling and martyr of the seven years'
war, thereupon issued a decree (June 11, 1758) permitting the Frankists
to return unmolested to their homes, and reside in Poland wherever they
pleased. The decree was not enforced with sufficient energy, and the
Frankists continued to be persecuted by their opponents aided by the
nobles. In their trouble some of their body were sent to beg Frank,
who had so long forsaken them, to assist them with his advice. While
affecting to demur, he willingly obeyed their call and repaired again
to Podolia (January, 1759).

With his appearance the old game of intrigue began once more. Frank
was from that time the life and soul of his followers, and without his
commands they undertook nothing. He saw clearly that the hypocrisy of
simply declaring that the anti-Talmudists believed in the Trinity
must not be repeated, but that they must make more of a concession to
Christianity. By his advice six Frankists, the majority foreigners,
repaired to Wratislav Lubienski, Archbishop of Lemberg, with the
declaration (February 20, 1759), "in the name of their whole body,"
that they were all willing, under certain conditions, to be baptized.
In their petition they used phrases savoring of Catholicism, and
breathed vengeance against their former co-religionists. Lubienski had
this petition of the Zoharites printed, in order, on the one hand, to
proclaim the victory of the Church, on the other, to keep the members
of this sect to their word; but he did nothing for them. Although in
their Catholic and Kabbalistic language they declared that they were
languishing for baptism "like the hart for the water-brooks," they
did not in the least contemplate an immediate formal secession to
Christianity. Frank, their leader, whom they blindly followed, did not
consider the time ripe for this extreme measure. He reserved it to
extort favorable terms, which were embodied in an address presented
to the king and Archbishop Lubienski (May 16, 1759) by two deputies.
They insisted especially on a disputation with their opponents,
adducing as a reason, that they wished to show the world that they
were led to embrace Christianity, not from necessity and poverty, but
through conviction. They wished, moreover, to give an opportunity to
their secret confederates to publicly avow themselves believers in
Christianity, which they would infallibly do if their righteous cause
should triumph in public argument. Finally they hoped in this way to
open the blinded eyes of their antagonists. To this cunningly devised
petition breathing malice against their enemies, the king made no
reply, while Lubienski answered evasively that he could only promise
them eternal salvation if they allowed themselves to be baptized; the
rest would follow as a matter of course. He displayed no zeal whatever
for the conversion of these ragged fellows whom he believed to be
dissemblers. The papal nuncio in Warsaw, Nicholas Serra, did not regard
with favor the idea of the conversion of the anti-Talmudists.

The position of affairs changed, however, when Lubienski withdrew
to Gnesen, his arch-episcopal seat, and the administrator of the
archbishopric of Lemberg, the canon De Mikulski, showed more zeal
for conversion. He immediately promised the Frankists to arrange a
religious conference between them and the Talmudists, if they would
exhibit a sincere desire for baptism. On this the deputies, Leb
Krysa and Solomon of Rohatyn, in the name of the whole body, made a
Catholic confession of faith (May 25), which savored of Kabbalism:
"the cross is the symbol of the Holy Trinity and the seal of the
Messiah." It closed with these words: "The Talmud teaches the use of
the blood of Christians, and whosoever believes in it is bound to use
this blood." Thereupon Mikulski, without consulting the papal nuncio
Serra, made arrangements for a second disputation in Lemberg (June,
1759). The rabbis of this diocese were summoned to appear, under pain
of a heavy fine, and the nobility and clergy were requested in case
of necessity to compel them. The nuncio Serra, to whom the Talmudists
complained, was in the highest degree dissatisfied with the idea of
the disputation, but did not care to prevent it because he wished to
learn with certainty whether the Jews used the blood of Christians.
This appeared to him the most important point of all. Just at this
time Pope Clement XIII had given a favorable answer on this question
to the Jewish deputy Selek. Clement XIII proclaimed that the Holy See
had examined the grounds on which rested the belief in the use of human
blood for the feast of the Passover and the murder of Christians by
Jews, and that the Jews must not be condemned as criminals in respect
of this charge, but that in the case of such occurrences legal forms of
proof must be used. Notwithstanding this, the papal envoy at this very
time, deceived by the meanness of the Frankists, partially credited the
false accusation, and notified the Curia of it.

The religious conference which was to lead to the conversion of so many
Jews, at first regarded with indifference, began to awaken interest.
The Polish nobility of both sexes purchased admission cards at a high
price, the proceeds to go to the poor people who were to be baptized.
On the appointed day the Talmudists and Zoharites were brought into the
cathedral of Lemberg; all the clergy, nobility, and burghers crowded
thither to witness the spectacle of Jews, apparently belonging to the
same religion, hurling at each other accusations of the most abominable
crimes. In reality it was the Talmud and the Kabbala, formerly a
closely united pair of sisters, who had fallen out with each other.
The disputation failed miserably. Of the Frankists, who had boastfully
given out that several hundreds of their party would attend, only about
ten appeared, the rest being too poor to undertake the long journey and
attire themselves decently. Of the Talmudists forty were present owing
to their dread of the threatened fine. How Judaism had retrograded
in the century of "enlightenment" when compared with the thirteenth
century! At that time, on a similar occasion, the spokesman of the
Jews, Moses Nachmani, proudly confronted his opponents at the court of
Barcelona, and almost made them quake by his knowledge and firmness.
In Lemberg the representatives of Talmudic Judaism stood awkward and
disconcerted, unable to utter a word. They did not even understand
the language of the country--their opponents, to be sure, were in
like case--and interpreters had to be employed. But the Catholic
clergy in Poland and the learned classes also betrayed their astounding
ignorance. Not a single Pole understood Hebrew or the language of the
rabbis sufficiently to be an impartial witness of the dispute, whilst
in Germany and Holland Christians acquainted with Hebrew could be
counted by hundreds. The Talmudists had a difficult part to play in
this religious conference. The chief thesis of the Frankists was that
the Zohar teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, and that one Person
of the Godhead became incarnate. Could they dare to deny this dogma
absolutely without wounding the feelings of the Christians, their
masters? And that leanings toward this doctrine were to be found in
the Zohar they could not deny. Of course, they might have refuted
completely the false charge of using the blood of Christian children
and of the bloodthirsty nature of the Talmud, or might have cited the
testimony of Christians and even the decisions of popes. They were,
however, ignorant of the history of their own suffering, and their
ignorance avenged itself on them. It is easy to believe that the
Talmudic spokesmen, after the three days' conference, returned home
ashamed and confused. Even the imputation of shedding Christian blood
continued to cling to their religion.

The Zoharites who had obtained their desire were now strongly urged
by the clergy to perform their promise, and allow themselves to be
baptized. But they continued to resist as if it cost them a great
struggle, and only yielded at the express command of their chief,
Frank, and in his presence. The latter appeared with great pomp, in
magnificent Turkish robes, with a team of six horses, and surrounded
by guards in Turkish dress. He wished to impress the Poles. His was
the strong will which led the Frankists, and which they implicitly
obeyed. Some thousand Zoharites were baptized on this occasion. Frank
would not be baptized in Lemberg, but appeared suddenly, with dazzling
magnificence, in Warsaw (October, 1759), aroused the curiosity of the
Polish capital, and requested the favor that the king would stand
godfather to him. The newspapers of the Polish capital were full of
accounts of the daily baptisms of so many Jews, and of the names of
the great nobles and ladies who were their godparents. But the Church
could not rejoice in her victory. Frank was watched with suspicion
by the clergy. They did not trust him, and suspected him to be a
swindler who, under the mask of Christianity, as formerly under that of
Islam, desired to play a part as the leader of a sect. The more Frank
reiterated the demand that a special tract of country be assigned to
him, the more he aroused the suspicion that he was pursuing selfish
aims and that baptism had been but a means to an end. The Talmud Jews
neglected nothing to furnish proofs of his impostures. At length he
was unmasked and betrayed by some of his Polish followers, who were
incensed at being neglected for the foreign Frankists, and showed
that with him belief in Christianity was but a farce, and that he had
commanded his followers to address him as Messiah and God Incarnate
and Holy Lord. He was arrested and examined by the president of the
Polish Inquisition as an impostor and a blasphemer. The depositions
of the witnesses clearly revealed his frauds, and he was conveyed to
the fortress of Czenstochow and confined in a convent (March, 1760).
Only the fact that the king was his godfather saved Frank from being
burnt at the stake as a heretic and apostate. His chief followers
were likewise arrested and thrown into prison. The rank and file were
in part condemned to work on the fortifications of Czenstochow, and
partly outlawed. Many Frankists were obliged to beg for alms at the
church doors, and were treated with contempt by the Polish population.
They continued true, however, to their Messiah or Holy Lord. All
adverse events they accounted for in the Kabbalistic manner: they had
been divinely predestined. The cloister of Czenstochow they named
mystically, "The gate of Rome." Outwardly they adhered to the Catholic
religion, and joined in all the sacraments, but they associated
only with each other, and like their Turkish comrades, the Donmäh,
intermarried only with each other. The families descended from them
in Poland, Wolowski, Dembowski, Dzalski, are still at the present day
known as Frenks or Shäbs. Frank was set at liberty by the Russians,
after thirteen years' imprisonment in the fortress, played the part
of impostor for over twenty years elsewhere, in Vienna, Brünn, and at
last in Offenbach; set up his beautiful daughter Eva as the incarnate
Godhead, and deceived the world until the end of his life, and even
after his death; but with this part of his career Jewish history has
nothing to do.

For all these calamitous events, Jonathan Eibeschütz was in some
measure to blame. The Frankists regarded him, the great Gaon, as one
of themselves, and he did nothing to clear himself from the stigma of
this suspicion. He was implored to aid the Polish Jews, to make his
influence felt in refuting the charge of the use of Christian blood.
He remained silent as if he feared to provoke the Frankists against
himself. Some of his followers who had warmly upheld him began to
distrust him, among them Ezekiel Landau, at that time chief rabbi of
Prague. Jacob Emden had won the day, he could flourish over him the
scourge of his scorn; and he pursued him even beyond the grave as the
most abandoned being who had ever disgraced Judaism. The rabbinate had
placed itself in the pillory, and undermined its own authority. But it
thereby loosened the soil from which a better seed could spring forth.

Whilst Eibeschütz and his opponents were squabbling over amulets
and Sabbatian heresy, and Jacob Frank Lejbowicz was carrying on his
Zoharistic frauds, Mendelssohn and Lessing were cementing a league
of friendship, Portugal was extinguishing its funeral fires for the
Marranos, and in England the question of the emancipation of the Jews
was being seriously discussed in Parliament.



  Renaissance of the Jewish Race--Moses Mendelssohn--His Youth--
    Improves Hebrew Style--Lessing and Mendelssohn--Mendelssohn's
    Writings--The Bonnet-Lavater Controversy--Kölbele--The
    Burial Question--Reimarus--Anonymous Publication of his
    Work--Lessing's "Nathan the Wise"--Mendelssohn in "Nathan"
    --Mendelssohn's Pentateuch--Opposition to it--The "Berlin
    Religion"--Montesquieu--Voltaire--Portuguese Marranos in
    Bordeaux--Isaac Pinto--His Defense of Portuguese Jews--
    Dohm and Mendelssohn--Joseph II of Austria--Michaelis--
    Mendelssohn's "Jerusalem"--Wessely: his Circular Letter--
    Mendelssohn's Death.

1750-1786 C. E.

Can "a nation be born at once"--or can a people be regenerated? If the
laboriously constructed organism of a nation has lost vitality, if
the bonds connecting the individual parts are weakened, and internal
dissolution has set in, even the despotic will which keeps the members
in a mechanical union being wanting; in short, if death comes upon a
commonalty in its corporate state, and it has been entombed, can it
be resuscitated and undergo a revival? This doom has overtaken many
nationalities of ancient and modern times. But if in such a people
a new birth should take place, _i.e._, a resurrection from death
and apparent decomposition, and if this should occur in a race long
past its youthful vigor, whose history has spread over thousands of
years,--then such a miracle deserves the most attentive consideration
from every man who does not stolidly overlook what is marvelous.

The Jewish race has displayed miraculous phenomena, not only in
ancient days, the age of miracles, but also in this matter-of-fact
epoch. A community which was an object of mockery not merely to the
malicious and ignorant, but almost more to benevolent and cultured
men; despicable in its own eyes; admirable only by reason of its
domestic virtues and ancient memories, both, however, disfigured beyond
recognition by trivial observances; scourging itself with bitter irony;
of which a representative member could justly remark, "My nation has
become so estranged from culture, that the possibility of improvement
is doubtful"--this community nevertheless raised itself from the
dust! It revived with marvelous rapidity from its abjection, as if a
prophet had called unto it, "Shake thyself from the dust; arise ...
loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion!"
And who caused this revival? One man, Moses Mendelssohn, who may be
considered the incarnation of his race--stunted in form, awkward,
timid, stuttering, ugly, and repulsive in appearance. But within this
race-deformity breathed a thoughtful spirit, which only when misled
pursued chimeras, and lost its self-esteem only when proscribed. No
sooner did it understand that it was the exponent of the truth, than it
dismissed its visionary fancies, its spirit transfigured the body, and
raised the bent form erect, the hateful characteristics disappeared,
and the scornful nickname of "Jew" was changed almost into a title of

This rejuvenescence or renaissance of the Jewish race, which may be
unhesitatingly ascribed to Mendelssohn, is noteworthy, inasmuch as
the originator of this great work neither intended nor suspected
it; in fact, as already remarked, he almost doubted the capacity
for rejuvenescence in his brethren. He produced this altogether
unpremeditated glorious result not by means of his profession or his
public position. He was not a preacher in the wilderness, who urged
the lost sons of Israel to a change of mind; all his life he shrank
from direct exercise of influence. Even when sought after, he avoided
leadership of every kind with the oft-repeated confession, that he was
in no way fitted for the office. Mendelssohn played an influential part
without either knowing or desiring it: involuntarily, he aroused the
slumbering genius of the Jewish race, which only required an impulse
to free itself from its constrained position and develop. The story of
his life is interesting, because it typifies the history of the Jews in
recent times, when they raised themselves from lowliness and contempt
to greatness and self-consciousness.

Moses Mendelssohn (born at Dessau, August, 1728, died in Berlin,
January 4, 1786) was as insignificant and wretched an object as almost
all poor Jewish children. At this time even infants seemed to possess a
servile appearance. For quick-witted boys there was no period of youth;
they were early made to shiver and shake by the icy breath of rough
life. They were thus prematurely awakened to think, and hardened for
their struggle with unlovely reality. One day Mendelssohn, a weakly,
deformed lad in his fourteenth year, knocked at the door in one of
the gates of Berlin. A Jewish watchman, a sort of police officer, the
terror of immigrant Jews, who was ordered to refuse admission to those
without means of subsistence, harshly addressed the pale, crippled boy
seeking admission. Fortunately, he managed bashfully to stammer out
that he desired to enroll himself among the Talmudical pupils of the
new rabbi of Berlin. This was a kind of recommendation, and enabled him
to dispense with a full purse. Mendelssohn was admitted, and directed
his steps towards the house of the rabbi, David Fränkel, his countryman
and teacher, who had shortly before been called from Dessau to the
rabbinate of Berlin.

He took an interest in the shy youth, allowed him to attend his
rabbinical lectures, provided for his maintenance, and employed him in
copying his Commentary to the Jerusalem Talmud, because Mendelssohn
had inherited a beautiful handwriting as his only legacy from his
father, a writer of scrolls of the Law. Even if Mendelssohn learnt from
Fränkel nothing besides the Talmud, yet the latter exerted a favorable
influence upon the mind of his disciple, because his method, exercising
itself upon virgin soil, the Jerusalem Talmud, was not so distorted,
hair-splitting, and perverse as that of most expounders of the Talmud,
who made the crooked straight, and the straight crooked. Mendelssohn's
innate honesty and yearning for truth were not suppressed or hindered
by his first teacher, and this was of value.

Like the majority of Talmud disciples (Bachurim) Mendelssohn led the
life of poverty which the Talmud in a measure makes a stipulation for

    "Eat bread with salt, drink water by measure, sleep upon the
    hard earth, live a life of privations, and busy thyself with
    the Law."

His ideal at this time was to perfect himself in the knowledge of the
Talmud. Was it chance that implanted in Berlin the seed destined to
produce such luxuriant fruit? Or would the result have been the same,
if he had remained with Fränkel in Dessau, or if the latter had been
called to Halberstadt, or Fürth, or Metz, or Frankfort? It is highly
improbable. Retired though Mendelssohn's life was, yet a fresh breeze
was wafted from the Prussian capital into the narrow chambers of his
Rabbinical studies. With the accession of Frederick the Great, who
besides war cultivated the Muses (though in a French garb), literary
dilettanteism, French customs, and contempt for religion began to
grow into fashion among Berlin Jews. Although their condition under
Frederick was restricted, yet, because several became wealthy, the new
spirit did not pass over them without leaving an impression, however
inadequate and superficial. An impulse towards culture, the spirit
of innovation, and imitation of Christian habits began to manifest

A Pole first introduced Mendelssohn to the philosophical work of
Maimuni, which for him and through him became a "Guide of the
Perplexed." The spirit of the great Jewish thinker, whose ashes had
lain in Palestine for more than five hundred years, came upon young
Mendelssohn, inspired him with fresh thoughts, and made him, as it
were, his Elisha. What signified to Mendelssohn the long interval of
many centuries? He listened to the words of Maimuni as if sitting
at his feet, and imbibed his wise instruction in deep draughts. He
read this book again and again, until he became bent by constant
perusal of its pages. From the Pole, Israel Zamosc, he also learned
mathematics and logic, and from Aaron Solomon Gumpertz a liking for
good literature. Mendelssohn learned to spell and to philosophize at
the same time, and received only desultory assistance in both. He
principally taught and educated himself. He cultivated firmness of
character, tamed his passions, and accustomed himself, even before he
knew what wisdom was, to live according to her rules. In this respect
also Maimuni was his instructor. By nature Mendelssohn was violent and
hot-tempered; but he taught himself such complete self-mastery that, a
second Hillel, he became distinguished for meekness and gentleness.

As if Mendelssohn divined it to be his mission to purify the morals
and elevate the minds of his brethren, he, still a youth, contributed
to a Hebrew newspaper, started by associates in sympathy with him for
the purpose of ennobling the Jews. The firstlings of his intellect are
like succulent grass in the early spring. He abandoned the ossified,
distorted, over-embellished Hebrew style of his contemporaries, which
had debased the Hebrew language into the mere mumbling of a decrepit
tongue. Fresh and clear as a mountain-stream the Hebrew outpourings of
Mendelssohn welled forth. Philosophical-religious views pervaded these
early works, not only where he desired to depict trust in God and the
inefficacy of evil, but also the rejuvenescence of nature in her spring
vesture, and the delight of the pure mind of man at this beautiful
change. The school of suffering through which he had passed for so
many years, instead of dragging him down, had awakened, elevated,
and ennobled his spirit. His struggles for a livelihood ceased when
he obtained the situation as tutor in a rich family (that of Isaac
Bernard), which, though not over-lucrative, sufficed for his frugal
habits. His journeyman days were, however, not yet at an end. The old
and the new, tradition and original views agitated his mind; clearness
and self-consciousness were to flow into it from another source.

To the great minds which Germany produced in the eighteenth century
belongs Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. He was the first free-thinking man
in Germany, probably more so than the royal hero Frederick, who had
indeed liberated himself from bigotry, but still had idols to whom he
sacrificed. With his gigantic mind, Lessing burst through all bounds
and regulations which depraved taste, dry-as-dust science, haughty
orthodoxy, and pedantry of every kind had desired to set up and
perpetuate. The freedom that Lessing brought to the Germans was more
solid and permanent than that which Voltaire aroused in depraved French
society with his biting sarcasm; for, his purpose was to ennoble,
and his wit was only a means to this end. Lessing wished to exalt
the theatre to a pulpit, and art to a religion. Voltaire degraded
philosophy into light gossip for the drawing-room.

It was an important moment for the history of the Jews, when these
two young men, Mendelssohn and Lessing, became acquainted. It is
related that a passionate lover of chess, named Isaac Hess, brought
them together at the chess-board (1754). The royal game united two
monarchs in the kingdom of thought. Lessing, the son of a pastor, was
of a democratic nature: he sought the society of outcasts, and those
despised by public opinion. As shortly before he had mixed with actors
in Leipsic, and as afterwards he associated with soldiers in Breslau,
so now he was not ashamed to converse in Berlin with despised Jews. He
had before this dedicated the first-fruits of his art, which to him
appeared the highest art, to the pariah nation. By his drama, "The
Jews," he desired to show that a Jew can be unselfish and noble, and he
thereby aroused the displeasure of cultivated Christian circles. The
ideal of a noble Jew which Lessing had in mind while composing this
drama, he saw realized in Mendelssohn, and it must have pleased him to
find that he was not mistaken in his portraiture, and that reality did
not disprove his dream.

As soon as Lessing and Mendelssohn became acquainted, they learned
to respect and love each other. The latter admired in his Christian
friend his ability and unconstraint, his courage and perfect culture,
his overflowing spirit, and the vigor which enabled him to bear a new
world upon his broad shoulders; and Lessing admired in Mendelssohn
nobility of thought, a yearning for truth, and firmness of character
based upon a moral nature. They were both so imbued with lofty
nobility of mind that the one prized in the other whatever perfection
he could not attain to equally with his friend. Lessing suspected
in his Jewish friend "a second Spinoza, who would do honor to his
nation." Mendelssohn was completely enchanted by Lessing's friendship.
A friendly look from him, he confessed, had such power over his mind
that it banished all grief. They exerted perceptible influence upon
each other. Lessing, at that time a mere "Schöngeist," as it was
termed, aroused in Mendelssohn an interest for noble forms, æsthetic
culture, poetry, and art; the latter in return stimulated Lessing to
philosophical thought. Thus they reciprocally gave and received, the
true relationship in a worthy friendship. The bond of amity became so
strong, and united the two friends so sincerely, that it lasted beyond
the grave.

The stimulus that Mendelssohn received from his friend was
extraordinarily fruitful both for him and for the Jews. It maybe
said without exaggeration that Lessing's influence was greater in
ennobling the Jewish race than in elevating the German people, due to
the fact that the Jews were more eager for study and more susceptible
to culture. All that Mendelssohn gained by intercourse with his
friend benefited Judaism. Through his friend, who by reason of a
genial, sympathetic nature exerted great attraction upon talented
men, Mendelssohn was introduced into his circle, learned the forms
of society, and threw off the awkwardness which was the stamp of the
Ghetto. He now devoted himself zealously to the acquisition of an
attractive German style--a difficult task, as the German language
was strange to him, and the German vocabulary in use among Jews was
antiquated and misleading. Nor had he any pattern to follow; for,
before Lessing enriched German style with his genius, it was unwieldy,
rugged, and ungraceful. But Mendelssohn overcame all difficulties. He
withdrew, as he expressed it, "a portion of his love from the worthy
matron (philosophy), to bestow it upon a wanton maiden (the so-called
_belles-lettres_.)" Before a year's intimacy with Lessing elapsed, he
was able to compose in excellent form his "Philosophical Conversations"
(the beginning of 1755), in which he, the Jew, blamed the Germans,
because, misapprehending the depth of their own genius, they bore the
yoke of French taste: "Will, then, the Germans never recognize their
own worth? Will they always exchange their gold for the tinsel of
their neighbors?" This rebuke was applicable even to the philosophical
monarch Frederick II, who could not sufficiently scorn native talent,
nor sufficiently admire that of foreign lands. The Jew was more German
than most of the Germans of his time.

His patriotic feelings for Judaism did not suffer diminution thereby;
they were united in his heart with love for German ideals. Although he
could never overcome his dislike to Spinoza's revolutionary system,
yet in his first work he strove to save the latter's birthright in
the new metaphysics. The "Philosophical Conversations" Mendelssohn
handed to his friend, with the jesting remark that he could produce
something like Shaftesbury, the Englishman. Without his knowledge
Lessing had them printed, and thus contributed the first leaves to
his friend's crown of laurel. Through Lessing's zeal to advance him
in every way, Mendelssohn became known in the learned circle in
Berlin. When a "Coffee-house of the Learned," for an association of
about one hundred men of science, was established in the Prussian
capital, hitherto deficient in literary interests, the founders did
not pass over the young Jewish philosopher, but invited him to join
them. Every month some member delivered a discourse upon a scientific
subject. Mendelssohn, however, was prevented from reading in public by
modesty and an imperfection of speech; he presented his contribution
in writing. His essay was called an "Inquiry into Probability," which
must replace certainty in the limited sphere of human knowledge.
While it was being read aloud, he was recognized as the author, and
was applauded by the critical audience. Thus Mendelssohn was made a
citizen in the republic of literature, took an active part in the
literary productions of the day, and contributed to the "Library of the
Fine Arts," which had been founded by his friend Nicolai. His taste
became more refined every day, his style grew nobler, and his thoughts
more lucid. His method of presentation was the more attractive because
he seasoned it with incisive wit.

That which the Jews had lost through the abasement of thousand years of
slavery, Mendelssohn now recovered for them in a short space of time.
Almost all, with the exception of a few Portuguese and Italian Jews,
had lost pure speech, the first medium of intellectual intercourse,
and a childish jargon had been substituted, which, a true companion
of their misfortunes, appeared unwilling to forsake them. Mendelssohn
felt disgust at the utter neglect of language. He saw that the
Jewish corrupt speech contributed not a little to the "immorality of
the average man," and he hoped for good results from the attention
beginning to be paid to pure language. It was one of the consequences
of the debasement of language, that the German and Polish Jews had
lost all sense of form, taste for artistic beauty, and æsthetic
feeling. Oppression from without and their onerous duties, which had
reduced them to veritable slaves, had banished from their midst these,
together with many other, ennobling influences. Mendelssohn recovered
these lost treasures for his brethren. He acquired so remarkable a
sense for the beautiful, that he was afterwards recognized by the
Germans as a judge in questions of taste. The perverse course of study
pursued by the Jews since the fourteenth century had blunted their
minds to simplicity. They had grown so accustomed to all that was
artificial, distorted, super-cunningly wrought, and to subtleties,
that the simple, unadorned truth became worthless, if not childish
and ridiculous, in their eyes. Their train of thought was mostly
perverted, uncultivated, and defiant of logical discipline. He who
in a short time was to restore their youthful strength, so schooled
himself that twisted methods and thoughts became repugnant to him.
With his refined appreciation for the simple, the beautiful, and the
true, he acquired a profound understanding of biblical literature,
whose essence is simplicity and truth. Through the close layers of
musty rubbish, with which commentaries and super-commentaries had
encumbered it, he penetrated to the innermost core, and was able to
cleanse the beautiful picture from dust, and to understand and render
comprehensible the ancient Revelation as if it were a new one. Though
not gifted with the ability of expressing his thoughts poetically or
rhythmically, he had a delicate perception of the poetic beauties
of every literature, especially of those in the holy language. And
what formed the crowning-point of these attainments was, that his
moral views were characterized by extreme delicacy; he was painfully
conscientious and truthful, as if there flowed through his veins
the blood of a long series of noble ancestors, who had chosen for
their life's task all that is honorable and worthy. Almost childlike
modesty adorned him, modesty quite remote however from self-despising
subservience. He combined in himself so many innate and hardly acquired
qualities, that he formed a striking contrast to the caricatures which
German and Polish Jews of the time presented. There was but one feeling
wanting in Mendelssohn--and this deficiency was detrimental to the
near future of Judaism. He lacked an appreciation for history, for
things petty on close view, but great in perspective, for the comic
and tragic course of the human race during the progress of time. "What
do I know of history!" he observed, in half-apologetic, half-scornful
tones; "whatever is called history, political history, history of
philosophers, I cannot understand." He shared this deficiency with his
prototype Maimuni, and infected his surroundings with it.

Some of his brilliant qualities shone out from Mendelssohn's eyes and
features, and won him more hearts than if he had striven to gain them.
Curiosity about "this Jew" began to be aroused even at the court of
Frederick the Great. He was considered the embodiment of wisdom. The
dauntless Lessing infused such courage into him, that he ventured to
criticise in a periodical the poetical works of the Prussian sovereign,
and gently hint at their faults (1760). Frederick the Great, who
regarded verse-making as poetry, and dogmatism as philosophy, worshiped
the Muse in the court language of the day, thoroughly despised the
German tongue, at this time pregnant with real poetry, and mocked at
intellectual treasures sacred to solid thinkers. Mendelssohn, the Jew,
felt hurt at the king's hatred of German, as well as by his superficial
judgments. However, as one dare not tell the truth to monarchs, he
cleverly, through the trumpet of praise, emitted a soft note of blame,
clear enough to the acute reader.

Skillfully as Mendelssohn had concealed his censure of the king, yet
a malicious courtier, the preacher Justi, discovered it, and also
the name of the fault-finder, and denounced him, "a Jew, who had
thrown aside all reverence for the most sacred person of His Majesty
in insolent criticism of his poetry." Suddenly, Mendelssohn received
a harsh command to appear on a Saturday at Sans-Souci; an act in
accordance with the coarseness of the age. Full of dread, Mendelssohn
made his way to Potsdam to the royal castle, was examined, and asked
whether he was the author of the disrespectful criticism. He admitted
his offense, and excused himself with the observation, that "he who
makes verses, plays at nine-pins, and he who plays at nine-pins, be he
monarch or peasant, must be satisfied with the judgment of the boy who
has charge of the bowls as to the merit of his playing." Frederick was
no doubt ashamed to punish the Jewish reviewer for his subtle criticism
in the presence of the French cynics of his court, and thus Mendelssohn
escaped untouched.

Fortune was extraordinarily favorable to this man, unwittingly the
chief herald of the future. It gave him warm friends, who found
true delight in exalting him, though a Jew, in public opinion. It
secured for him a not brilliant, yet fairly independent situation
as book-keeper in the house where he had hitherto held the toilsome
position of resident tutor. It bestowed on him a trusty, tender, and
simple life companion, who surrounded him with tokens of devoted love.
Fortune soon procured a great triumph for him. The Berlin Academy had
offered a prize for an essay upon the subject, "Are philosophical
(metaphysical) truths susceptible of mathematical demonstration?"
Modestly Mendelssohn set to work to solve this problem. He did not
belong to the guild of the learned, had not learnt his alphabet until
grown up, at an age when conventionally educated youths have their
heads crammed with Latin. When he became aware that his friend, the
young, highly-promising scholar Thomas Abt, was also a competitor, he
almost lost courage, and desired to withdraw. Still his work gained
the prize (June, 1763), not alone over Abt, but even over Kant, whose
essay received only honorable mention. Mendelssohn obtained the prize
of fifty ducats and the medal. The Jew, the tradesman, had defeated
his rivals of the learned guild. Kant's disquisition went deeper into
the question, but that of Mendelssohn had the advantage of clearness
and comprehensibility. "He had torn the thorns from the roses of
philosophy." Compelled to acquire each item of his knowledge by great
labor, and having only with difficulty become conversant with the
barbarous dialect of the schools, he did not content himself with dry
formulæ, but exerted himself to render intelligible, both for himself
and others, metaphysical conceptions and truths. This circumstance
gained him the victory over his much profounder opponent. His essay,
which together with that of Kant was translated into French and Latin
at the expense of the Academy, earned for him assured renown in the
learned world, which was enhanced by the fact that the prize-winner was
a Jew.

In the same year (October, 1763), he received a distinction from King
Frederick, characteristic of the low condition of the Jews in Prussia.
This honor was the privilege of being a protected Jew (Schutz-Jude),
_i. e._, the assurance that he would not some fine day be expelled from
Berlin. Hitherto, he had been tolerated in Berlin only as a retainer
of his employer. The philosophical King Frederick sympathized with
the antipathy of his illustrious enemy Maria Theresa to the Jews, and
issued anti-Jewish laws worthy of the Middle Ages rather than of the
eighteenth century, so boastful of its humanity. He wished to see the
Jews of his dominions diminished in number, rather than increased.
Frederick's "general privilege" for the Jews was an insult to the age.
Marquis d'Argent, one of Frederick's French courtiers, who in his
naïveté could not conceive that a wise and learned man like Mendelssohn
might any day become liable to be driven out of Berlin by the brutal
police, urged Mendelssohn to sue for the privilege of protection, and
the king to grant it. However, a long time elapsed before the dry
official document granting it reached him. At last Mendelssohn became a
Prussian "Schutz-Jude."

The philosophical "Schutz-Jude" of Berlin now won great success
with a work, which met with almost rapturous admiration from his
contemporaries in all classes of society. Two decades later this
production was already obsolete, and at the present day has only
literary value. Nevertheless, when it appeared, it justly attained
great importance. Mendelssohn had hit upon the exact moment to bring
it forward, and he became one of the celebrities of the eighteenth
century. For almost sixteen centuries Christianity had educated the
nations of Europe, governed them, and almost surfeited them with belief
in the supernatural. It had employed all available means to effect
its ends, and finally, when the thinkers awakened from their slumber
induced by its lullabies, to inquire into the certainty secured by this
announcement of salvation which promised so much, serious people said
with regret--whilst sceptics chuckled with brutal delight--that it
offered delusive fancies in the place of truth.

In serious compositions, or in satires, the French thinkers of the
eighteenth century--the whole body of Materialists--had revealed
the hollowness of the doctrine, in which the so-called civilized
peoples had found comfort and tranquillity for many centuries. The
world was deprived of a God, the heavens were enshrouded in mist;
all that had hitherto seemed firm and incapable of being displaced
was turned topsy-turvy. The doctrine of Jesus had lost its power
of attraction, and become degraded in the eyes of the earnest and
thoughtful to the level of childish fables. Infidelity had become a
fashion. With the undeifying of Jesus appeared to go hand-in-hand
the dethronement of God, and doubt of the important dogma of the
immortality of the soul, which Christian theology had borrowed from
Greek philosophy and, as always, adorning itself with strange feathers,
had claimed as its original creation. Thereupon depended not merely the
confidence of mankind in a future existence, but also the practical
morals of the present. If the soul is mortal and transient, they
thought in the eighteenth century, then the acts of man are of no
consequence! Whether he be good or evil, virtuous or criminal, on the
other side of the grave there was no retribution. Thus, after the long
dream of many centuries, the civilized portion of mankind again fell
into the despondency prevalent in the Roman society of the empire;
they were without God, without support, without moral freedom, without
stimulus to a virtuous life. Man had been degraded to a complicated

Mendelssohn was also biased by the prejudice that the dignity of man
stands and falls with the question of the immortality of the soul.
He therefore undertook to restore this belief to the cultured world,
to discover again the lost truth, to establish it so firmly and ward
off materialistic attacks upon it so decisively, that the dying man
should calmly look forward to a blissful future and to felicity in the
after-life. He composed a dialogue called "Phædon, or the Immortality
of the Soul." It was to be a popular book, a new doctrine of salvation
for the unbelieving or sceptical world. Therefore he gave to his
dialogue an easily comprehensible, attractive style, after the pattern
of Plato's dialogue of the same name, from which he copied also the
external form. But Plato supplied him with the mere form. Mendelssohn
caused his Socrates to give utterance to the philosophy of the
eighteenth century through the mouth of his pupil, Phædon.

His starting-point, in proving the doctrine of the immortality of the
soul, is the fact of the existence of God, of which he has the highest
possible certainty. The soul is the work of God, just as the body is;
the body does not actually perish after dissolution, but is transformed
into other elements; much less, then, can the soul, a simple essence,
be decomposed, and perish. Further, God has acquainted the soul with
the idea of immortality, has implanted it in the soul. Can He, the
Benevolent and True One, practice deception?

    "If our soul were mortal, then reason would be a dream, which
    Jupiter has sent us that we may forget our misery; and we would
    be created like the beasts, only to seek food and die."

Every thought inborn in man must for that reason be true and real.

In demonstrating the doctrine of immortality, Mendelssohn had another
noble purpose in view. He thought to counteract the malady of talented
youths of the day, the Jerusalem-Werthers, who, without a goal for
their endeavors, excluded from political and elevating public activity,
lost in whimsical sentimentality and self-created pain, sank to
thoughts of suicide, which they carried out, unless courage, too,
was sicklied over. Mendelssohn, therefore, in his "Phædon" sought
to inculcate the conviction, that man, with his immortal soul, is a
possession of God, and has no manner of right to decide arbitrarily
about himself and his life, or about the separation of his soul from
his body--feeble argumentation, but sufficient for that weakly,
effeminate generation.

With his "Phædon," Mendelssohn attained more than he had intended
and expected, viz., "conviction of the heart, warmth of feeling," in
favor of the doctrine of immortality. "Phædon" was the most popular
book of its time, and was perused with heart and soul. In two years it
ran through three editions, and was immediately translated into all
the European languages, also into Hebrew. Theologians, philosophers,
artists, poets, such as Herder, Gleim, and Goethe, then but a youth,
statesmen, and princes--men and women--were edified by it,
reanimated their depressed religious courage, and, with an enthusiasm
which would to-day appear absurd, thanked the Jewish sage who had
restored to them that comfort which Christianity no longer afforded.
The deliverance by Mendelssohn, the Jew, was as joyfully welcomed by
the world grown pagan, as in an earlier epoch that effected by the
Jews, Jesus and Paul of Tarsus, was welcomed by the heathens. His
contemporaries were delighted both with the contents and the form,
with the glowing, fresh, vigorous style, a happy, artistic imitation
of Plato's dialogues. From all sides letters of congratulation poured
in upon the modest author. Everyone of the literary guild who passed
through Berlin eagerly sought out the Jewish Plato, as one of the
greatest celebrities of the Prussian capital, to have a word with
him. The Duke of Brunswick seriously thought of securing the services
of Mendelssohn for his state. The Prince of Lippe-Schaumburg treated
him as a bosom friend. The Berlin Academy of Sciences proposed him as
a member. But King Frederick struck the name of Mendelssohn off the
list, because, as it was said, he desired at the same time to have
the Empress Catherine admitted into the learned body, and she would
be insulted in having a Jew as a companion. Two Benedictine friars--
one from the convent of Peter, near Erfurt, the other from the convent
of La Trappe--addressed Mendelssohn, the Jew, as the adviser of
their conscience, for instruction in moral and philosophical conduct.
The book "Phædon," out of date in twenty years, as remarked above,
raised its author to the height of fame. He was fortunate, because he
introduced it to the world exactly at the right moment.

An incident vexatious in itself served to exalt Mendelssohn to an
extraordinary degree in the eyes of his contemporaries, and to invest
him with the halo of martyrdom. John Caspar Lavater, an evangelical
minister of Zürich, an enthusiast who afterwards joined the Jesuits,
thought that he had found in Mendelssohn's intellectual countenance a
confirmation of his deceptive art, the reading of the character and
talents of a man from his features. Lavater asserted that in every
line of Mendelssohn's face the unprejudiced could at once recognize the
soul of Socrates. He was completely enchanted with Mendelssohn's head,
raved about it, desiring to possess a well-executed model, in order to
bring honor upon his art. Mendelssohn having caused his Phædon to speak
in so Greek a fashion that no one could have recognized the author as a
Jew, Lavater arrived at the fantastic conclusion that Mendelssohn had
become entirely estranged from his religion. Lavater had learned that
certain Berlin Jews were indifferent to Judaism, and forthwith reckoned
Mendelssohn amongst their number. There was the additional fact that,
in a conversation reluctantly entered upon with Lavater, Mendelssohn
had pronounced calm, sober judgment upon Christianity, and had spoken
with a certain respect of Jesus, though with the reservation, "if Jesus
of Nazareth had desired to be considered only a virtuous man." This
expression appeared to Lavater the dawning of grace and belief. What if
this great man, this incarnation of wisdom, who had become indifferent
towards Judaism, could be won over to Christianity! This was the train
of thought which arose in Lavater's mind after reading "Phædon."
Ingenuous or cunning, he spread his net for Mendelssohn, and thus
showed how ignorant he was of his true character. About this time, a
Geneva professor, Caspar Bonnet, had written in French a weak apology,
entitled "Investigation into the Evidences of Christianity against
Unbelievers." This work Lavater translated into German, and sent to
Mendelssohn, with an awkward dedication, which looked like a snare
(September 4, 1769). Lavater solemnly adjured him to refute publicly
Bonnet's proofs of Christianity, or, if he found them correct, to do
"what sagacity, love of truth, and honesty would naturally dictate,
what a Socrates would have done, if he had read this treatise, and
found it unanswerable." If Lavater had been really acquainted with the
secrets of the heart, as he prided himself, he would have understood
that, even if Mendelssohn had severed all connection with Judaism,
Christianity was still more repugnant to him, and that sagacity, that
is to say, regard to profit and the advantages of a pleasant existence,
was altogether lacking in his character. Lavater did not desire to
expose him before the public, but he wished to create a sensation,
without thinking what pain he was causing the shy scholar of Berlin.

Mendelssohn later had reason to thank Lavater for having through
thoughtlessness or pious cunning drawn him out of his diffidence and
seclusion. Mendelssohn had indeed expressed his relations to Judaism
and his co-religionists so vaguely that onlookers might have been
misled. In public life he was a philosopher and an elegant writer, who
represented the principles of humanity and good taste, and apparently
did not trouble about his race. In the darkness of the Ghetto he was a
strictly orthodox Jew, who, apparently unconcerned about the laws of
beauty, joined in the observance of every pious custom. Self-contained
and steadfast though he was in reality, he seemed to be a twofold
personality, revealing the one or the other as he was in Christian
or in Jewish society. He could not stand up in defense of Judaism
without, on the one hand, affronting Christianity by his philosophical
convictions, and, on the other, showing, if ever so lightly, his
dissatisfaction with the chaotic traditions of the synagogue, and so
offending the sensibility of his co-religionists and quarreling with
them. Neither of these courses, owing to his peace-loving character,
entered his mind. He would have been able to pass his life in an
attitude of silence, if Lavater's rude importunity had not dragged
him out of this false position, altogether unworthy of a man with
a mission. Painful as it was to reveal his innermost thoughts
upon Judaism and Christianity, he could not hold his peace at this
challenge, without being considered a coward even by his friends. These
reflections weighed heavily upon him, and caused him to take up the

He skillfully carried on the contest thus forced upon him, and was
ultimately victorious. At the end of 1769, in a public letter addressed
to Christendom and Lavater, its representative, Mendelssohn in the
mildest form wrote most cutting truths, whose utterance in former times
would inevitably have led to bloodshed or the stake. Mendelssohn had
examined his religion since the days of his youth, and found it true.
Philosophy and _belles-lettres_ had with him never been an end, but the
means to prepare him for testing Judaism. He could not possibly expect
advantage from adherence to it; and as for pleasure--

    "O my worthy friend, the position assigned to my
    co-religionists in civil life is so far removed from all free
    exercise of spiritual powers, that one's satisfaction is not
    increased by learning the true rights of man. He who knows
    the state in which we now are, and has a humane heart, will
    understand more than I can express."

If the examination of Judaism had not produced results favorable to it,
what would have chained him to a religion so intensely and universally
despised, what could have prevented him from leaving it? Fear of his
co-religionists, forsooth? Their secular power was too insignificant to
do any harm.

    "I do not deny that I have noticed in my religion certain human
    additions and abuses, such as every religion accepts in course
    of time, which unfortunately dim its splendor. But of the
    essentials of my faith I am so firmly and indisputably assured,
    that I call God to witness that I will adhere to my fundamental
    creed as long as my soul does not assume another nature."

He was as opposed to Christianity as ever, for the reason which he had
communicated to Lavater verbally, and which the latter should not have
concealed, namely, that its founder had declared himself to be God.

    "Yet, for my part, Judaism might have been utterly crushed
    in every polemical text-book, and triumphantly arraigned in
    every school composition, without my ever entering into a
    controversy about it. Without the slightest contradiction from
    me, any scholar or any sciolist in subjects Rabbinic might have
    constructed for himself and his readers the most ridiculous
    view of Judaism out of worthless books which no rational Jew
    reads, or knows of. The contemptible opinion held of Jews
    I would desire to shame by virtue, not by controversy. My
    religion, my philosophy, and my status in civil life are the
    weightiest arguments for avoiding all religious discussion, and
    for treating in public writings of truths equally important to
    all religions."

Judaism was binding only upon the congregation of Jacob. It desired
proselytes so little, that the rabbis had ordained that any person who
offered to unite himself to this religion was to be dissuaded from his

    "The religion of my fathers does not care to be spread abroad;
    we are not to send missions to the two Indies or to Greenland,
    to preach our belief to remote nations. I have the good fortune
    to possess as friends many excellent men not of my creed. We
    love each other dearly, and never have I said in my heart,
    'What a pity for that beautiful soul!' It is possible for me to
    recognize national prejudices and erroneous religious opinions
    among my fellow-citizens, and nevertheless feel constrained to
    remain silent, if these errors do not directly affect natural
    religion or natural law (morality), but are only accidentally
    connected with the advancement of good. It is true that the
    morality of our actions does not deserve the name, if based
    upon error.... But as long as truth is not recognized, as long
    as it does not become national, so as to work as powerful
    an effect upon the great mass of the people as ingrained
    prejudice, the latter must be almost sacred to every friend of
    virtue. These are the reasons that religion and philosophy give
    me to shun religious disputes."

Besides, being a Jew, he had to be content with toleration, because in
other countries even this was denied his race. "Is it not forbidden,
according to the laws of your native city," he ask Lavater, "for your
circumcised friend even to visit you in Zürich?" The French work
of Bonnet he did not find so convincing, he said, as to cause his
convictions to waver; he had read better defenses of Christianity
written by Englishmen and Germans; also it was not original, but
borrowed from German writings. The arguments were so feeble and so
little tending to prove Christianity that any religion could be
equally well or badly defended by them. If Lavater thought that a
Socrates could have been convinced of the truth of Christianity by this
treatise, he only showed what power prejudice exerts over reason.

If the evangelical consistory, before whom Mendelssohn offered to lay
his letter for censorship before printing it, did not regret granting
him permission to print whatever he pleased, "because they knew his
wisdom and modesty to be such that he would write nothing that might
give public offense," still he undoubtedly did give offense to many
pious persons.

Mendelssohn's epistle to Lavater naturally made a great sensation.
Since the appearance of Phædon, he belonged to the select band of
authors whose works every cultivated person felt obliged to read.
Besides it happened that the subject of the controversy was attractive
at the time. The free-thinkers--by no means few at this time--
were glad that at last some one, a Jew at that, had ventured to
utter a candid word about Christianity. Owing to his obtrusiveness
and presumptuous advocacy of Christianity, Lavater had many enemies.
These read Mendelssohn's clever reply to the zealous conversionist
with mischievous delight. The hereditary prince of Brunswick, who,
as said above, was charmed with Mendelssohn, expressed (January 2,
1770) his admiration, that he had spoken "with such great tact and so
high a degree of humanitarianism" upon these nice questions. Bonnet
himself, less objectionable than his servile flatterer, admitted
the justice of Mendelssohn's cause, and complained of Lavater's
injudicious zeal. A letter of his dated January 12, 1770, was almost
a triumph for Mendelssohn. He said that his dissertation, with which
Lavater had desired to convert the Jew, had not been addressed to
the honorable "House of Jacob," for which his heart entertained the
sincerest and warmest wishes; much less had it been his intention
to give the Jewish philosopher a favorable opinion of Christianity.
He was full of admiration for the wisdom, the moderation, and the
abilities of the famous son of Abraham. He indeed desired him to
investigate Christianity, as it could only gain by being subjected
to a close inquiry by the wise son of Mendel. But he did not wish
to fall into Lavater's mistakes, and make it burdensome for him.
However, in spite of his virtuous indignation, Bonnet perpetrated a
bit of knavery against Mendelssohn. Lavater himself was obliged in
a letter to publicly beg Mendelssohn's pardon for having placed him
in so awkward a position, entreating him at the same time to attest
that he had not intentionally been guilty of any indiscretion or
perfidy. Thus Mendelssohn had an opportunity of acting magnanimously
towards his opponent. On the subject proper under dispute, however, he
remained firm; he did not surrender an iota of his Judaism, not even
its Talmudical and Rabbinical peculiarities, and with every step his
courage grew.

Mendelssohn did not wish to let pass this propitious opportunity of
glorifying Judaism, which was so intensely contemned, and make it
clear that it was in no way opposed to reason. Despite the warnings
of timid Jews, to allow the controversy to lapse, so as not to stir
up persecutions, he pointed out with growing boldness the chasm which
Christianity had dug between itself and reason, whereas Judaism in
its essence was in accord with reason. "The nearer I approach this so
highly-esteemed religion," he wrote in his examination of Bonnet's
"Palingénésie," "the more abhorrent is it to my reason." It afforded
him especial delight when strictly orthodox Christians thought that
they were abusing Judaism by declaring it to be equivalent to natural
religion (Deism).

    "Blessed be God, who has given unto us the doctrine of truth.
    We have no dogmas contrary to, or beyond reason. We add
    nothing, except commandments and statutes, to natural religion;
    but the fundamental doctrines of our religion rest upon the
    basis of understanding." "This is our glory and our pride, and
    all the writings of our sages are full of it."

Frankly Mendelssohn spoke to the hereditary prince of Brunswick of the
untenability of Christian, and the reasonableness of Jewish, dogmas. He
thought that he had not yet done enough for Judaism.

    "Would to God, another similar opportunity were granted me; I
    would do the same.... When I consider what we ought to do for
    the recognition of the sanctity of our religion."

Those who had not wholly parted company with reason declared
Mendelssohn to be in the right, and his defense to be just. They beheld
with astonishment that Judaism, so greatly despised, was yet vastly
superior to celebrated, official, orthodox Christianity. Through its
noble son, Judaism celebrated a triumph. The unhappy ardor of Lavater,
and the refined yet daring answer of Mendelssohn for a long time
formed the topic of conversation in cultured circles in Germany, and
even beyond its borders. The journals commented upon it, and noted
every incident. Anecdotes passed backwards and forwards between Zürich
and Berlin. It was said that Lavater had asserted that if he were
able to continue for eleven days in a state of complete holiness and
prayer, he would most positively succeed in converting Mendelssohn to
Christianity. When Mendelssohn heard this saying--whether authentic
or not it is characteristic of Lavater--he smilingly said, "If I am
permitted to sit here in my armchair and smoke a pipe philosophically,
I have no objections!" There was more talk of the contest between
Mendelssohn and Lavater than of war and peace. Every fair brought
pamphlets written in German and French, unimportant productions, which
did not deserve to live long. Only a few were on Mendelssohn's side,
the majority took the part of Christianity and its representatives
against the "insolence of the Jew," who did not consider it an honor to
be offered admission into the Christian community.

The worst of these was by a petty, choleric author, named John
Balthasar Kölbele, of Frankfort-on-the-Main, who, from hatred of the
Jews, or from distemper of body and soul, hurled such coarse insults
against Mendelssohn, the rabbis, the Jews, and Judaism, that his very
violence paralyzed his onslaught. Kölbele had on a previous occasion
attacked Mendelssohn, and jeered at him by means of a lay figure in
one of his forgotten romances. He desired to write, or said that
he had written, an "Anti-Phædon" against Mendelssohn's "Phædon."
His whole gall was vented in a letter to "Mr. Mendelssohn upon the
affair of Lavater and Kölbele" (March, 1770). Against the assertions
of Mendelssohn as to the purity of Judaism, he brought forward the
calumnies and perversions of his brother in feeling, Eisenmenger.
Mendelssohn's pure, unselfish character was known in almost all
cultivated and high circles of Europe. Nevertheless, Kölbele cast
the suspicion upon him of adhering to Judaism from self-interest,
"because a Jewish bookkeeper is in a better position than a Christian
professor, and the former besides derives some profit from attendance
in the antechambers of princes." To Mendelssohn's asseveration that
he would cling to Judaism all his lifetime, the malignant fool or
libeler rejoined, "How little value Christians attach to the oath of a
Jew!" Mendelssohn disposed of him in a few words in the postscript of
a letter addressed to Lavater. Nothing more was required; Kölbele had
condemned himself. Mendelssohn profited by these vilifying attacks,
inasmuch as respectable authors, who in their hearts were not a little
irritated by his independent and bold action, left him in peace,
rather than be associated with Kölbele. Mendelssohn emerged victorious
from this conflict, trifling only at first sight, which had lasted for
nearly two years; he rose in public opinion, because he had manfully
vindicated his own religion.

It had brought upon him also the reproaches of pious Jews. That which
his discernment had feared took place. From love of truth he had
publicly declared, that he had found in Judaism certain human additions
and abuses, which only served to dim its splendor. This expression
offended those who reverenced every custom, however un-Jewish, as
a revelation from Sinai, because it was sanctified by time and the
code. The entire Jewish world, including the Berlin community, with
the exception of the few who belonged to Mendelssohn's circle, would
not admit that rust had accumulated upon the noble metal of Judaism.
He was therefore questioned on this point, probably by Rabbi Hirschel
Lewin, and asked for an exact explanation of the phrase. He was very
well able to give a reply, which probably satisfied the rabbi, who was
no zealot. But his orthodoxy was still suspected by the strictly pious
people whom he termed "the Kölbeles of our co-religionists." He was
obliged to exculpate himself from the imputation of having pronounced
the decisions of Talmudical sages "as worthless trash." Young Poles,
adventurous spirits, thirsting for knowledge, "with good minds, but
confused thoughts," both pure and impure elements, forced themselves
upon Mendelssohn, and brought him into bad repute. The majority had
broken not alone with the Talmud, but also with religion and morality;
they led a dissolute life, and considered it the mark of philosophy
and enlightenment. Out of love to mankind and independent thought,
Mendelssohn entered into relations with them, held discussions with
them, advanced and aided them, which also cast a false light upon
his relations to Judaism. The frivolity and excesses of these young
men were imputed to him, and they were regarded as his protégés and

He soon gave occasion for an increase of this suspicion. The Duke of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, to avoid the dangers of premature interment,
had in a mild, fatherly way (April, 1772) forbidden the Jews of his
land to bury the dead at once, according to Jewish usage. Jewish piety
towards the deceased, which forbids keeping the dead above the earth
long enough for decomposition to set in--a feeling petrified in
the ritual code--was affronted by this edict, as though the duke
had commanded disregard of a religious practice. The representatives
of the congregations of Schwerin supplicated Jacob Emden, of Altona,
the aged champion of orthodoxy, to demonstrate from Talmudic and
Rabbinic laws, that prolonged exposure of a corpse was an important
infringement of Jewish law. Emden, who knew his inability to compose
a memorial in German, referred the people of Schwerin to Mendelssohn,
whose word had great influence with princes. They followed his advice.
How astounded were they to learn, from a letter of Mendelssohn's (May,
1772), that he agreed with the ducal order, that the dead should not
be buried before the third day; because, according to the experience
of competent physicians, cases of apparent death were possible; and
that it was right, in fact, compulsory, to rescue human life in spite
of the most stringent ordinances of the religious code! Mendelssohn
proved besides that in Talmudical times precautions were taken for the
prevention of hasty burial in doubtful cases. His opinion was, with
the exception of one blunder, faultlessly elaborated in the Rabbinical
manner. Nevertheless, true to his peaceful, complaisant nature, he
sent the formula of a petition to the duke to mitigate the decree.
Emden, however, in his orthodox zeal, stamped this disputed question
almost as an article of faith. A custom so universal among Jews, among
Italians and Portuguese as well as Germans and Poles, could not be
lightly set aside. Not much value was to be attached to the sayings
of doctors. Mendelssohn's Talmudical proofs were not conclusive. In
a letter Emden gave him clearly to understand that he was reproving
him for his own benefit, to remove the suspicion of lukewarm belief,
which he had aroused by his evil surroundings. Thus arose petty discord
between Mendelssohn and the rigidly orthodox party, which afterwards

Meanwhile, his friend Lessing, just before his death, had
unintentionally stirred up a storm in Germany which caused the Church
to tremble, and, under the spell of discontent and an artistic
impulse, he had glorified Mendelssohn, together with all Jews, in a
perfect poetic creation. The first cause of this tempest, which shook
Christianity to its core, was Mendelssohn's dispute with Lavater.
Lessing was so indignant at the certainty of victory assumed by
the representative of Church Christianity that he had strenuously
encouraged his Jewish friend to engage in valorous conflict.

    "You alone dare and are able to write and speak thus upon
    this matter, and are therefore infinitely more fortunate than
    all other honest people, who cannot achieve the subversion of
    this detestable structure of unreason otherwise than under the
    pretense of building a new substructure."

He did not suspect that even then he was holding a thunderbolt in
his hands, which he would soon be in a position to hurl against
the false gods who thought that they had conquered heaven. During
his restless life, which corresponded to his constantly agitated
spirit, Lessing came to Hamburg, where he made the acquaintance of
the respected and free-thinking family of Reimarus. Hermann Samuel
Reimarus, a profound inquirer, indignant at the fossilized and
insolent Lutheran Christianity of the Hamburg pastors, had written
a "Defense of the Rational Worshipers of God," in which he rejected
every revealed religion, endeavoring to secure to reason the rights
denied it, and depreciating particularly the founder of Christianity.
Reimarus, however, had not courage to utter boldly what he recognized
as true, and lay bare publicly, in accordance with his convictions,
the weaknesses of the dominant religion. He left this treatise, which
contained dangerous and inflammatory material, to his family and to a
secret order of free-thinkers, as a legacy. Eliza Reimarus, a noble
daughter worthy of her father, handed fragments of this incendiary
manuscript to Lessing, who read them with interest, and thought
of publishing them. However, he had not sufficient confidence in
himself to give a decision upon points of theological discussion,
and, therefore, sent these fragments to his Jewish friend, who was
capable of judging them. Mendelssohn did not, indeed, find this work
very convincing, because the author, embittered by the credulity of
the Church, had fallen into the opposite error of advocating the most
spiritless form of infidelity, and, according to the shortsighted
view of that age, of finding only petty intrigues in great historical
movements. Despite Mendelssohn's judgment, his friend continued to
think that this book would be of service in humiliating the Church. He
seriously thought of hurling the inflammatory writings of Reimarus,
under a false name, at the Church. But the Berlin censorship would
not allow them to be printed. Then Lessing formed another plan. His
position as superintendent of the ducal library of Brunswick in
Wolfenbüttel permitted him to publish the manuscript treasures of this
rich collection. In the interest of truth he perpetrated a falsehood,
asserting that he had discovered in this library these "Fragments of
an Unknown," the work of an author of the last generation. Under this
mask, and protected by his immunity from censorship in publishing
contributions "to history and literature from the treasures of the
library at Wolfenbüttel," he began to issue them. He proceeded step by
step with the publication of these fragments. The first installments
were couched in an entreating tone, asking for support of the religion
of reason against the religion of the catechism and the pulpit. He then
ventured a step further--to prove the impossibility of the miracles
upon which the Church was based, and especially to make apparent the
unhistorical character and incredibility of the resurrection of Jesus,
one of the main pillars of Christianity, with which it stands and
falls. Finally, Lessing produced the most important of the fragments
at the beginning of 1778, "Upon the Aim of Jesus and His Disciples."
Herein it was explained that Jesus had only desired to announce himself
as the Jewish Messiah and King of the Jews. To this end he had made
secret preparations with his disciples, formed conspiracies to kindle
a revolution in Jerusalem, and attacked the authorities in order to
cause the downfall of the High Council (the Synhedrion). But when this
plan of subversion failed, and Jesus had to suffer death, his disciples
invented another system, and declared that the kingdom of Jesus was not
of this world. They proclaimed him the spiritual redeemer of mankind,
and gave prominence to the hope of his speedy reappearance; thus the
Apostles had concealed and disfigured the original system of Jesus.

This treatment of the early history of Christianity, fairly calculated
to overthrow the whole edifice of the Church, descended like a
lightning-flash. It was sober, convincing, scientifically elaborated,
yet comprehensible by everyone. Amazement and stupefaction were the
effect, especially on the publication of the last fragment. Statesmen
and citizens were as much affected as theologians. Public opinion
upon the matter was divided. Earnest youths about to begin a theologic
career hesitated; they did not care to yield their life's activity
to what was perhaps only a dream, and chose another vocation. Some
affirmed that the proofs against Christianity were irrefutable. The
anonymity of the writer heightened the excitement. Conjectures were
made as to who the author might be; Mendelssohn's name was publicly
mentioned. Only a few knew that this blow had been struck by Reimarus,
revered by theologians, too. The anger of the zealots was discharged
upon the publisher, Lessing. He was attacked by all parties, and had
no companion in arms. His Jewish friend would willingly have hastened
to his assistance, but how could he mix himself up in these domestic
squabbles of the Christians? Among the numerous slanders circulated
by the orthodox about Lessing it was said that the wealthy Jewish
community of Amsterdam had paid him one thousand ducats for the
publication of the Wolfenbüttel fragments. Accustomed to single-handed
combat against want of taste and reason, Lessing was man enough to
protect himself. It was a goodly sight to behold this giant in the
fray, dealing crushing strokes with light banter and graceful skill.
He defeated his enemies one after the other, especially one who was
the type of blindly credulous, arrogant, and malicious orthodoxy, the
minister Göze in Hamburg. As his pigmy opponents could not overcome
this Hercules by literary skill, they summoned to their aid the secular
arm. Lessing's productions were forbidden and confiscated, he was
compelled to deliver up the manuscripts of the "Fragments," his freedom
from censorship was withdrawn, and he was expected not to write any
more upon this subject (1778). He struggled against these violent
proceedings, but he was vulnerable in one point. The greatest man whom
Germany had hitherto produced was without means, and his position
as librarian being imperiled, he was obliged to seek for other means
of support. During one of his sleepless nights (August 10, 1778), a
plan struck him which would simultaneously relieve him from pecuniary
embarrassments and inflict a worse blow than ten "Fragments" upon the
Lutheran theologians. They thundered against him from their church
pulpits; he would try to answer them from his theatre pulpit. The
latest, most mature, and most perfect offspring of his Muse, "Nathan
the Wise," should be his avenger. Lessing had carried this idea in his
mind for several years; but he could not have executed it at a more
favorable time.

To the annoyance of the pious Christians who, with all their bigotry,
uncharitableness, and desire for persecution, laid claim to every
virtue on account of their belief in Jesus, and denounced the Jews,
one and all, as outcasts, Lessing represented a Jew as the immaculate
ideal of virtue, wisdom, and conscientiousness. This ideal he had found
embodied in Moses Mendelssohn. He illumined him and the greatness of
his character by the bright light of theatrical effects, and impressed
the stamp of eternity upon him by his immortal verses. The chief hero
of Lessing's drama is a sage and a merchant, like Mendelssohn, "as good
as he is clever, and as clever as he is wise." His nation honors him
as a prince, and though it calls him the wise Nathan, he was above all
things good:

      "The law commandeth mercy, not compliance.
      And thus for mercy's sake he's uncomplying:
      ... How free from prejudice his lofty soul--
      His heart to every virtue how unlocked--
      With every lovely feeling how familiar....
      ... O what a Jew is he! yet wishes
      Only to pass as a Jew."

A son of Judaism, Nathan had elevated himself to the highest level of
humane feeling and charitableness, for such his Law prescribed. In a
fanatical massacre by Crusaders, ferocious Christians had slaughtered
all the Jews in Jerusalem, with their wives and children, and his
beloved wife and seven hopeful sons had been burnt. At first he raged,
and murmured against fate, but anon he spake with the patience of Job:

      "This also was God's decree: So be it!"

In his terrible grief a mounted soldier brought him a young, tender
Christian child, an orphan girl, and Nathan took it, bore it to his
couch, kissed it, flung himself upon his knees, and thanked God that
the lost seven had been replaced by at least one. This Christian maiden
he loved with all the warmth of a fatherly heart, and educated her
in a strictly conscientious manner. Not one religion in preference
to another, still less his own, did he instil into the young soul of
Recha, or Blanche, but only the doctrines of pure fear of God, ideal
virtue, and morality. Such was the representative of Judaism.

How did the representative of Christianity behave? The Patriarch of
Jerusalem, who, with his church, was tolerated in the Mahometan city
by the magnanimous Sultan Saladin, by virtue of a solemnly ratified
treaty, meditates treacherous plans against the sultan, concocts
intrigues against him:

                "But what is villainy in human eyes
      May, in the sight of God, the patriarch thinks,
      Not be villainy."

For Nathan, he desires to kindle a pyre, because he has fostered,
loved, and raised to a lovely, spiritual maiden, a forsaken Christian
child. Without the compassion of the Jew, the child would have perished:

      "That's nothing! The Jew must still be burnt."

Daya, another representative of Church Christianity, who knows Recha's
Christian origin, has misgivings when she sees the Christian child
basking in the warm love of a Jew. She is won over from these scruples
by costly presents, but she still contemplates depriving Nathan of
the most precious object to which his soul clings, even though danger
should thereby befall him.

The Templar, Leon of Filnek, represents yet another phase of
Christianity. A soldier and at the same time a cleric, who, spared by
Saladin although he had broken his word, rescues Recha, the supposed
Jewish maiden; he behaves with Christian insolence towards Nathan,
speaking roughly and harshly to him, whilst the latter is pouring forth
heartfelt gratitude for the rescue of his adopted daughter. Then,
gradually, through the wonderful power of love, the Templar lays aside
the coarse, hateful garb of Christian prejudice. In his veins there
flows Mahometan blood. Only the holy simplicity of the friar Bonafides
combines human kindness with monastic ecclesiasticism; but he knows
only one duty--obedience--and at the command of the fanatically
cruel Patriarch would commit the most horrible crimes.

These lessons Lessing preached from his theatre pulpit to
the obdurate minds of the followers of Christ. The wise Jew,
Nathan--Mendelssohn--has arrived at the highest level of human
sympathy; while the best Christian, the Templar, every cultivated
Christian--the Nicolais, the Abts, the Herders--have yet to free
themselves from their thick-skinned prejudices, to attain to that
height. It is a delusion to claim the possession of the one true
religion and the only means of salvation. Who possesses the real ring?
How can the real one be detected from the false? Only by meekness,
heartfelt tolerance, true benevolence, and most fervent devotion to
God; in short, by all those qualities which the official Christianity
of the time did not display, and which were perfectly realized in

In every way Lessing scourged fossilized, persecuting Christianity, and
glorified Judaism through its chief representative. As if this splendid
drama, the beautiful first-fruits of German poetry, was to belong to
the Jews, although given to the world by a Christian poet, a son of
Israel aided its production. Lessing, besieged by theological foes, and
fighting against dire necessity, would not have been able to complete
it, if, during its composition, he had not been enabled to live without
anxiety. He required a loan, and found no helper among the Christians.
Moses Wessely, in Hamburg, the brother of the neo-Hebraic poet,
Naphtali Wessely, who afterwards made a name for himself in Jewish
history, advanced the desired sum, although he was not a wealthy Jew,
and only wished to have the honor of possessing something in Lessing's

Lessing had not been wrong in thinking that this drama would vex pious
Christians much more than ten controversial pamphlets against Göze.
As soon as it appeared (spring, 1779), intense wrath was felt against
the poet, as if he had degraded Christianity. The "Fragments" and his
polemics against Göze had not made him so many enemies as "Nathan."
Even his friends greeted him coldly, shunned him, excluded him from
the social reunions he loved, and left him to the persecution of his
adversaries. Through this silent excommunication he felt himself
aggrieved, lost more and more of his bright humor and elasticity
of spirit, and became wearied, downcast, and almost stupefied. The
treatment of pious Christians terribly embittered the last year of
his life. He died in vigorous manhood like an aged man, a martyr to
his love of truth. But his soul-conquering voice made itself heard on
behalf of tolerance, and gradually softened the discordant notes of
hatred and prejudice. In spite of the ban placed upon "Nathan," as
well as upon its author, both in Protestant and Catholic countries,
this drama became one of the most popular in German poetry, and as
often as the verses inspired by conviction resound from the stage,
they seize upon the hearts of the audience, loosening the links of the
chain of Jew-hatred in the minds of Germans, who find it most difficult
to throw off its shackles. "Nathan" made an impression on the mind of
the German people, which, despite unfavorable circumstances, has not
been obliterated. Twenty years before, when Lessing produced his first
drama of "The Jews," an arrogant theologian censured it, because it
was altogether too improbable that among a people like the Jews, so
noble a character could ever be formed. At the appearance of "Nathan"
no reader thought that a noble Jew was possible. Even the most stubborn
dared not assert so monstrous an absurdity. The Jewish ideal sage was
a reality, and lived in Berlin, an ornament not alone to the Jews, but
to the German nation. Without Mendelssohn, the drama of "Nathan" would
not have been written, just as without Lessing's friendship Mendelssohn
would not have become what he did to German literature and the Jewish
world. The cordiality of the intimacy between these two friends showed
itself after Lessing's death. His brothers and friends, who only after
his demise realized his greatness, turned, in the anguish of their
loss, to Mendelssohn, as if it were natural that he should be the chief
mourner. And in very sooth he was; none of his associates preserved
Lessing's memory with so sorrowful a remembrance and religious a
reverence. He was beyond all things solicitous to protect his former
friend against misapprehension and slander.

As Mendelssohn, without knowing or desiring it, stimulated Lessing to
create an ideal, and through him helped to dispel the bias against
Jews, so at the same time, without aiming at it, he inaugurated
the spiritual regeneration of his race. The Bible, especially the
Pentateuch--the all in all of the Jews--although very many knew it
by heart, had become as strange to them, as any unintelligible book.
Rabbinical and Kabbalistic expositors had so distorted the simple
biblical sense of the words, that everything was found in it except the
actual contents.

Polish school-masters--there were no others--with rod and angry
gestures, instructed Jewish boys in tender youth to discover the most
absurd perversities in the Holy Book, translating it into their hateful
jargon, and so confusing the text with their own translation, that it
seemed as if Moses had spoken in the barbarous dialect of Polish Jews.

The neglect of all secular knowledge, which increased with every
century, had reached such a pitch that every nonsensical oddity, even
blasphemy, was subtly read into the verses of Scripture. What had
been intended as a comfort to the soul was changed into a poison.
Mendelssohn acutely felt this ignorance and wresting of Bible words,
for he had arrived at the enlightened view that Holy Writ does not
contain "that which Jews and Christians believe they can find therein,"
and that a good, simple translation would be an important step towards
the promotion of culture among Jews. But in his modesty and diffidence
it did not occur to him to employ these means to educate his brethren.
He compiled a translation of the Pentateuch for his children, to give
them a thorough education and to introduce the word of God to them
in an undisfigured form, without troubling (as he observed) "whether
they would continue to be compelled, in Saxe-Gotha, on every journey,
to pay for their Jewish heads at a game of dice, or to tell the story
of the three rings to every petty ruler." It was only at the urgent
request of a man whose word carried weight with Mendelssohn, that he
decided to publish his translation of the Pentateuch into German (in
Jewish-German characters) for Jewish readers. It cost him an effort,
however, to attach his name to it.

He knew his Jewish public too well not to understand that the
translation, however excellently it might be done, would meet with
little approval, unless it were accompanied by a Hebrew exposition.
Of what value to the depraved taste of Jewish readers was a book
without a commentary? From time immemorial, since commentaries and
super-commentaries had come into existence, these had been much more
admired than the most beautiful text. Mendelssohn, therefore, obtained
the assistance of an educated Pole, named Solomon Dubno, who, a
praiseworthy exception to his countrymen, was thoroughly acquainted
with Hebrew grammar, to undertake the composition of a running
commentary. The work was begun by securing the necessary subscribers,
without whom no book could at that time be issued. It became apparent
that Mendelssohn had already many supporters and admirers among his
brethren, within and beyond Germany. His undertaking, which was to
remove from the Jews the reproach of ignorance of their own literature,
and of speaking a corrupt language, was hailed with joy. Most of the
subscribers came from Berlin and Mendelssohn's native town, Dessau,
which was indeed proud of him. From Poland also orders for the
Germanized "Torah" arrived, mostly from Wilna, where Elijah Wilna, to
a certain extent a liberal thinker, and the visionary perversities of
the New-Chassidim had drawn attention to the Holy Scriptures. As a sign
of the times, it may also be noticed that the translation was purchased
by Christians, professors, pastors, court preachers, consistorial
councilors, court councilors, and the nobility. Mendelssohn's Christian
friends were, indeed, extraordinarily active in promoting his work.
Eliza Reimarus, Lessing's noble friend, even collected subscriptions.

Glad as were Mendelssohn's admirers to receive the news of a Pentateuch
translation from his hand, so disturbed were the rigid adherents to
antiquity and obsolete habit. They felt vividly, without being able
to think it out clearly, that the old times, with their ingenuous
credulity--which regarded everything with unquestioned faith as an
emanation from a Divine source--would now sink into the grave.

No sooner was a specimen of the translation published, than the rabbis
of the old school were prejudiced against it, and planned how to keep
the enemy from the house of Jacob. To these opponents of Mendelssohn's
enterprise belonged men who brought honor upon Judaism, not alone by
their Rabbinical scholarship and keen intellects, but also by their
nobility of character. There were especially three men, Poles by birth,
who had as little appreciation of the innovations of the times as of
beauty of form and purity of speech. One of them, Ezekiel Landau (chief
rabbi of Prague, from the year 1752; died in 1793), enjoyed great
respect both within and outside his community. He was a clever man,
and learned in time to swim with the tide. The second, Raphael Cohen,
the grandfather of Riesser (born 1722, died 1803), who had emigrated
from Poland, and had been called from Posen to the rabbinate of the
three communities of Hamburg, Altona, and Wandsbeck, was a firm,
decided character, without guile or duplicity, who as judge meted out
justice without respect to persons, considering justice the support of
God's throne. The third and youngest was Hirsch Janow, a son-in-law of
Raphael Cohen, who, on account of his profound acumen in Talmudical
discussions, was called the "keen scholar" (born 1750, died 1785). His
acute mind was equally versed in the intricate problems of mathematics
as in those of the Talmud. He was thoroughly unselfish, the trifling
income that he received from the impoverished community of Posen he
gave away to the unfortunate; he distributed alms with open-handed
benevolence, and without asking questions whether the recipients were
orthodox or heretics, whilst he himself starved. He contracted debts
to save the needy from misery. Solomon Maimon, a deep thinker, who had
opportunities of knowing men from their worst side, called this rabbi
of Posen and Fürth "a godly man," an epithet not to be considered an
exaggeration from such lips. To these three rabbis a fourth kindred
spirit may be added, Phineas Levi Hurwitz (born 1740; died 1802), rabbi
of Frankfort-on-the-Main, also a Pole, educated in the Chassidean
school. These men, and others who thought like them, and who regarded
the perusal of a German book as a grievous sin, from their point of
view were right in opposing Mendelssohn's innovation. They perceived
that the Jewish youth would learn the German language from the
Mendelssohn translation more than an understanding of the "Torah"; that
the former would strongly tend to become the chief object of study; the
attention to Holy Writ would degenerate into an unimportant secondary
matter, whilst the study of the Talmud would be completely suppressed.
Though Mendelssohn himself enjoyed good repute from a religious point
of view, his adherents and supporters were not invariably free from
reproach. Unworthy men, who had broken with Judaism, and conceitedly
termed themselves Mendelssohnians, were energetic in advancing the sale
of the translation, and thus brought it into suspicion with the rigidly
orthodox party.

Raphael Cohen, of Hamburg, a man of hasty temper, was the most zealous
agitator against the German version of the Bible. But as Mendelssohn
had relatives on his wife's side in this town, and also many admirers,
no action could be taken against him there or in Prague, where there
were freethinkers among the Jews. Fürth, therefore, was looked upon as
the fittest place whence the interdict (about June, 1779) against "the
German Pentateuch of Moses of Dessau" should be launched. All true to
Judaism were forbidden, under penalty of excommunication, to use this

Meanwhile the conflict between the old and the new Judaism was
conducted with calmness, and no violent symptoms showed themselves.
If Jacob Emden had been alive, the contest would have raged more
fiercely, and evoked more disturbance. Mendelssohn was too unselfish,
too gentle and philosophically tranquil to grow excited on hearing of
the ban against his undertaking, or to solicit the aid of his Christian
friends of high rank in silencing his opponents. He was prepared for
opposition. "As soon as I yielded to Dubno to have my translation
printed, I placed my soul in my hands, raised my eyes to the mountains,
and gave my back to the smiters." He regarded the play of human
passions and excessive ardor for religion as natural phenomena, which
demanded quiet observation. He did not wish to disturb this peaceful
observation by external influence, by threats and prohibitions, or by
the interference of the temporal power. "Perhaps a little excitement
serves the best interests of the enterprise nearest to my heart." He
suggested that if his version had been received without opposition, its
superfluity would have been proved. "The more the so-called wise men
of the day object to it, the more necessary it is. At first, I only
intended it for ordinary people, but now I find that it is much more
needful for rabbis." On the part of his opponents, however, no decided
efforts were made to suppress his translation, which appeared to them
so dangerous, or to denounce its author. Only in certain Polish towns,
such as Posen and Lissa, it was forbidden, and it is said to have been
publicly committed to the flames. Violent action was to be feared only
from the indiscreet, resolute Rabbi Raphael Cohen. He seems, however,
to have delayed action until the whole appeared, in order to obtain
proofs of deserved condemnation. Mendelssohn, therefore, sought help
to counteract his zeal. He prevailed upon his friend, Augustus von
Hennigs, Danish state councilor and brother-in-law of his intimate
friend, Eliza Reimarus, to try to induce the king of Denmark and
certain courtiers to become subscribers to the work; this would quench
the ardor of the zealot. Hennigs, a man of hasty action, forthwith
turned to the Danish minister, Von Guldberg, to fulfill the request
of Mendelssohn. To his astonishment and Mendelssohn's, he received
an insulting reply, to the effect that the king and his illustrious
brothers were prepared to subscribe if the minister could assure them
that the translation contained nothing against the inspiration and
truth of the Holy Scriptures, so that the Jews might not afterwards say
"that Moses Mendelssohn was an adherent to the (ill-famed) religion of

This "Berlin religion" was at the time the terror of the orthodox, both
in the Church and the Synagogue, and it cannot be said to have been
an idle fear. To keep at a distance this scoffing tendency against
religion, over-zealous rabbis tried to block every possible avenue of
approach to the houses of the Jews. Events of the immediate future
proved that the rabbis were not pursuing a phantom. Mendelssohn,
in his innocent piety, did not recognize the enemy, although it
passed to and fro through his own house. At length, the interdict
against Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch was promulgated
by Raphael Cohen (July 17th); it was directed against all Jews who
read the new version. The author himself was not excommunicated,
either out of consideration for his prominence, or from weakness and
half-heartedness. However, before the blow fell, Mendelssohn had
warded off its consequences. He persuaded Von Hennigs that he need
have no scruples about obtaining the king's subscription for the
translation, and it was done. At the head of the list of contributors
stood the names of King Christian of Denmark and the Crown Prince. By
this means Raphael Cohen was effectually foiled in his endeavors to
condemn and destroy a work which he regarded as heretical.

His adversaries nevertheless struck Mendelssohn a blow, to hinder
the completion of the translation. They succeeded in alienating
Solomon Dubno, his right-hand man, which caused Mendelssohn serious
perplexity. That his work might not remain unfinished, he had to
undertake the commentary to the Pentateuch himself, but finding the
work beyond his strength he was obliged to seek for assistants. In
Wessely he found a co-operator of similar disposition to his own; but
he did not care to undertake the whole burden, and thus Mendelssohn
was compelled to entrust a portion to Herz Homberg, his son's tutor,
and to another Pole, Aaron Jaroslav. The former was not altogether a
congenial associate. He knew that Homberg in his heart was estranged
from Judaism, and that he would not execute the holy work according to
his method and as a sacred duty, as he himself felt it to be. But he
had no alternative. Owing to Homberg's participation in the work, the
translation, finished in 1783, was discredited by the orthodox; and
they desired to exclude it altogether from Jewish houses.

This severity roused opposition. Forbidden fruit tastes sweet. Youthful
students of the Talmud seized upon the German translation behind
the backs of their masters, who depreciated the new influence, and
in secret learned at once the most elementary and the most sublime
lessons--the German language and the philosophy of religion, Hebrew
grammar and poetry. A new view of the world was opened to them. The
Hebrew commentary served as a guide to a proper understanding of the
translation. As if touched by a magic wand, the Talmud students,
fossils of the musty schoolhouses, were transfigured, and upon the
wings of the intellect they soared above the gloomy present, and
took their flight heavenwards. An insatiable desire for knowledge
took possession of them; no territory, however dark, remained
inaccessible to them. The acumen, quick comprehension, and profound
penetrativeness, which these youths had acquired in their close study
of the Talmud, rendered it easy for them to take their position in
the newly-discovered world. Thousands of Talmud students from the
great schools of Hamburg, Prague, Nikolsburg, Frankfort-on-the-Main,
Fürth, and even from Poland, became little Mendelssohns; many of them
eloquent, profound thinkers. With them Judaism renewed its youth.
All who, towards the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the
nineteenth century, were in various ways public workers, had up to a
certain period in their lives been one-sided Talmudists, and needed the
inspiration of Mendelssohn's example to become exponents and promoters
of culture among Jews. In a very short time a numerous band of Jewish
authors arose, who wrote in a clear Hebrew or German style upon matters
of which shortly before they had had no knowledge. The Mendelssohn
translation speedily resulted in a veritable renaissance of the Jews.
They found their level in European civilization more quickly than the
Germans, and--what should not be overlooked--Talmudic schooling
had sharpened their intelligence. Mendelssohn's translation of the
Pentateuch, together with his paraphrase of the Psalms, has produced
more good than that of Luther, because instead of fossilizing, it
animated the mind. The inner freedom of the Jews, as has been said,
dates from this translation.

The beginning of the outward liberation of the Jews from the cruel
bondage of thousands of years was also connected with Mendelssohn's
name, and like his activity for their internal freedom was unconscious,
without violence or calculation. It seems a miracle, though no
marvelous occurrence accompanied it. It secured to the Jews two
advocates, than whom none more zealous, none warmer could be desired:
these were Lessing and Dohm.

Since the middle of the eighteenth century the attention of the
cultured world had been directed towards the Jews without any action
on their part. Montesquieu, the first to penetrate to the profound
depths of human laws and reveal their spirit, was also the first
to raise his weighty voice against the barbarous treatment of the
Jews. In his widely-read, suggestive work, "Spirit of the Laws,"
he had demonstrated, with convincing arguments, the harm that the
ill-treatment of the Jews had caused to states, and branded the
cruelty of the Inquisition with an ineradicable stigma. The piercing
cry of agony of a tortured Marrano at sight of a stake prepared for
a "Judaizing" maiden of eighteen years of age in Lisbon had aroused
Montesquieu, and the echo of his voice resounded throughout Europe.

    "You Christians complain that the Emperor of China roasts all
    Christians in his dominions over a slow fire. You behave much
    worse towards Jews, because they do not believe as you do. If
    any of our descendants should ever venture to say that the
    nations of Europe were cultured, your example will be adduced
    to prove that they were barbarians. The picture that they will
    draw of you will certainly stain your age, and spread abroad
    hatred of all your contemporaries."

Montesquieu had rediscovered the true idea of justice, which mankind
had lost. But how difficult was it to cause this idea to be fully
recognized with reference to Jews!

Two events had brought the Jews, their concerns, their present, and
their past before public notice: their demand for a legal standing
in England, and Voltaire's attacks upon them. In England, where a
century before they had, as it were, crept in, they formed a separate
community, especially in the capital, without being tolerated or
recognized by law. They were regarded as foreigners--as Spaniards,
Portuguese, Dutchmen, or Germans, and had to pay the alien duty.
However, the authorities, especially the judges, showed regard for
the Jewish belief; for instance, they did not summon Jewish witnesses
on the Sabbath. After the Jews settled in the American colonies of
England had been naturalized, a bill was presented in Parliament by
merchants and manufacturers, Jews and their friends, to be sure,
begging that they be treated as natives of England, without being
compelled to obtain civil rights by taking the sacrament, as the law
prescribed. Pelham, the minister, supported the petition, and pointed
out the advantages that would accrue to the country by the large
capital of the Portuguese Jews and their warm attachment to England.
By their opponents, however, partly self-interest, partly religious
prejudices were brought to bear against them. It was urged that, placed
on an equal footing with English citizens, the Jews would acquire
the whole wealth of the kingdom, would obtain possession of all the
landed property, and disinherit Christians: the latter would be their
slaves, and the Jews would choose their own rulers and kings. Orthodox
literalists argued that according to Christian prophecies they were
to remain without a home until gathered to the land of their fathers.
Surprisingly enough, a bill was passed by the Upper House permitting
Jews who had resided in England or Ireland for three consecutive
years to be naturalized; but they were not to occupy any secular or
clerical office, nor to receive the Parliamentary franchise. The lords
and the bishops, then, were not opposed to the Jews. The majority
of the Lower House also agreed to the bill, and George II ratified
it (March, 1753). Was the decision of the Three Estates really the
expression of the majority of the nation? This at once became doubtful:
imprecations were immediately thundered from pulpits, guilds, and the
taverns against the ministry which had urged the Naturalization Act for
Jews. In our days it seems hardly credible that the London merchants
should have feared the ruin of their trade by the influx of Jewish
capitalists. Deacon Josiah Tucker, who took the part of the Jews,
and defended the Naturalization Act, was attacked by the opposition
in parliament, in the newspapers, and in pamphlets, and his effigy,
together with his defense of the Jews, was burnt at Bristol. To the
vexation of the liberal-minded, the ministry were weak enough to yield
to the clamor of the populace arising from mercantile jealousy and
fanatical intolerance, and to annul their own work (1754) "because it
had provoked displeasure, and the minds of many loyal subjects had
been disquieted thereby." For, even the most violent enemies of the
act could not impute evil to the Jews of England; they created a good
impression upon Englishmen by their riches, accumulated without usury,
and by their noble bearing. Public opinion warmly sided with them and
their claims for civil equality, and if, for the moment, these were
disregarded, yet no unfavorable result ensued.

The second occurrence, although originating in a single person, roused
even more attention than the action of the English Parliament towards
the Jews. This person was Arouet de Voltaire, king in the domain of
literature in the eighteenth century, who with his demoniacal laughter
blew down like a house of cards the stronghold of the Middle Ages.
He, who believed neither in Providence nor in the moral progress of
mankind, was a mighty instrument of history in the advancement of
progress. Voltaire--in his writings an entrancing wizard, a sage, in
his life a fool, the slave of base passions--picked a quarrel with
the Jews, and sneered at them and their past. His hostility arose from
personal ill-humor and irritability. He maintained that during his stay
in London he lost eighty per cent of a loan of 25,000 francs, through
the bankruptcy of a Jewish capitalist named Medina. He cannot, however,
always be believed.

    "Medina told me that he was not to blame for his bankruptcy:
    that he was unfortunate, that he had never been a son of
    Belial. He moved me, I embraced him, we praised God together,
    and I lost my money. I have never hated the Jewish nation; I
    hate nobody."

Yet, a low-minded Harpagon, who clung to his money, Voltaire, on
account of this large or small loss, hated not only this Jew, but
all Jews on earth. A second incident excited him still more against
them. When Voltaire was in Berlin and Potsdam as court poet, literary
mentor, and attendant of King Frederick, who both admired and detested
this diabolical genius, he gave a filthy commission to a Jewish
jeweler, named Hirsch, or Hirschel (1750), which he afterwards, at
the instigation of a rival in the trade, named Ephraim Veitel, wished
to withdraw. Friction arose between Voltaire and Hirschel, until some
arrangement was made, which the former afterwards desired to evade.
In a word, Voltaire practiced a series of mean tricks upon his Jewish
tradesman: cheated him about some diamonds, abused him, lied, forged
documents, and acted as if he were the injured party. At length a
complicated lawsuit sprang from these proceedings. King Frederick, who
had obtained information of all this from the legal documents, and from
a pamphlet, written ostensibly by Hirsch, in reality by Voltaire's
enemies, was highly enraged with the poet and philosopher scamp. He
resolved to banish him from Prussia, and wrote against him a comedy in
French verse, called "Tantalus in the Lawsuit." Voltaire's quarrel with
the Prussian Jew created a sensation, and provided ample material for
the mischievous delight of his opponents.

Next to avarice, revenge was a prominent feature in his character. It
was too trifling for Voltaire to avenge himself upon the individual
Jew who had contributed to his humiliation; he determined to make the
whole Jewish nation feel his hatred. Whenever he had an opportunity of
speaking of Judaism or Jews, he bespattered the Jews of the past and
the present with his obscene satire. This accorded with his method of
warfare. Christianity, which he thoroughly hated and despised, could
not be attacked openly without rendering the aggressor liable to severe
punishment. Judaism, the parent of Christianity, therefore served as
the target, against which he hurled his elegant, lightly brandished,
but venomous darts. In one of his essays particularly he poured forth
his gall against Jews and Judaism.

This partial and superficial estimate of the Jews, this summary
judgment of a whole people, and a history of a thousand years,
irritated many truth-loving men; but no one dared provoke a quarrel
with so dreaded an antagonist as Voltaire. It required a bold
spirit, but it was hazarded by a cultured Jew, named Isaac Pinto,
more from skillfully-calculated motives than from indignation at
Voltaire's baseless defamation. Pinto (born in Bordeaux, 1715; died
in Amsterdam, 1787) belonged to a Portuguese Marrano family, was
rich, cultivated, noble, and disinterested in his own affairs; but
suffered from pardonable egoism, namely, on behalf of the community.
After leaving Bordeaux he settled in Amsterdam, where he not only
served the Portuguese community, but also advanced large sums of
money to the government of Holland, and therefore held an honorable
position. He always took warm interest in the congregation in which
he had been born, and assisted it by word and deed. But his heart
was most devoted to the Portuguese Jews, his brethren by race and
speech; on the other hand, he was indifferent and cold towards the
Jews of the German and Polish tongues; he looked down upon them with
disdainful pride, as Christians of rank upon lowly Jews. Nobility of
mind and pride of race were intimately combined in Pinto. In certain
unpleasant matters in which the Portuguese community of Bordeaux had
become entangled, he displayed, on the one hand, ardent zeal, on the
other, hardness of heart. In this prosperous commercial town, since the
middle of the sixteenth century, there had flourished a congregation of
fugitive Marranos, who had fled from the prisons and the autos-da-fé
of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition. These refugees had brought
considerable capital and an enterprising spirit, and thus secured
right of residence and certain privileges, but only under the name of
new-Christians or Portuguese merchants. For a time they were forced
to undergo the hypocrisy of having their marriages solemnized in
the churches. Their numbers gradually increased; in two centuries
(1550-1750) the congregation of Bordeaux had grown to 200 families,
or 500 souls. The majority of the Portuguese Jews, or new-Christians,
of Bordeaux, kept large banking-houses, engaged in the manufacture of
arms, equipped ships, or undertook trans-marine business with French
colonies. To their importance as merchants and ship-owners they united
staunch uprightness, blameless honesty in business, liberality towards
Jews and non-Jews, and the dignity which they had brought from the
Pyrenean peninsula, their unnatural mother-country. Thus they gained
respect and distinction among the Christian inhabitants of Bordeaux,
and the French court as well as the high officials connived at their
presence, and gradually came to recognize them as Jews. The important
mercantile town also attracted German Jews from Alsace, and French
Jews from Avignon, under papal government, who obtained the right
to settle by paying large sums of money. The Portuguese Jews were
jealous; they feared that they would be placed on a level with these
co-religionists, who were little educated, and engaged in petty trading
or monetary transactions, and that they would lose their honorable
reputation. Induced by these selfish motives they exerted themselves
to have the immigrant German and Avignon Jews expelled from the town,
by appealing to the old edict that Jews might not dwell in France. But
the exiles contrived to gain the protection of influential persons
at court, and thus obtained the privilege of sojourn. Through the
connivance of the authorities, 152 foreign Jews had already flocked
to Bordeaux, several of whom had powerful friends. This was a thorn
in the side of the Portuguese, and to hinder the influx of strangers,
they passed (1760) an illiberal communal law against their foreign
co-religionists. They branded every foreign Jew not of Portuguese
origin as a vagrant and a beggar, and as a burden to the wealthy. They
calumniated the strangers, asserting that they followed dishonorable,
fraudulent occupations, and thereby predisposed the citizens and
authorities against them. According to their proposal, Portuguese Jews,
or their council, should be vested with the right to expel the foreign
Jews, or "vagrants," from the town within three days. This cruel and
heartless statute had to be confirmed by King Louis XV. It was not
difficult to obtain from this monarch, who was ruled by his wives and
his courtiers, the most inhuman petitions. A friend and kinsman of
Isaac Pinto undertook to get the sanction of the court for this statute.

This was Jacob Rodrigues Pereira (born in Spain, 1715; died in Paris,
1780), grandfather of the famous and enterprising Emile and Isaac
Pereira, a man of talent and noble character, and an artist of a
peculiar kind, who had obtained wide renown. He had invented a sign
language for the deaf and dumb, and taught these unfortunate people a
means of expressing their thoughts. As a Marrano, he had taught the
deaf and dumb in Spain. Love for the religion of his ancestors, or
hatred of the bloodthirsty Catholic Church impelled him to leave the
land of the Inquisition (about 1734), and, together with his mother
and sister, to emigrate to Bordeaux. Here, even before Abbé de l'Epée,
he so thoroughly verified his theory for the instruction of those
born dumb, in a specially appointed school, that the king conferred a
reward, and the first men of science--D'Alembert, Buffon, Diderot,
and Rousseau--lavished praises upon him. Pereira afterwards became
royal interpreter and member of the Royal Society in London. The
Portuguese community of Bordeaux appointed him their representative
in Paris, to ventilate their complaints and accomplish their ends.
Moved with sympathy for the unfortunate, he was yet so filled with
communal egoism, that he did not hesitate to inflict injury upon his
German and Avignon co-religionists. The commission to secure from
Louis XV the ratification of the proposed statute, he carried out but
too conscientiously. But in the disorderly government of this king
and his court there was a vast difference between the passing and the
administering of a law. The higher officials were able to circumvent
any law or defer its execution. The expulsion of the Jews of German
and Avignon origin from Bordeaux lay in the hands of the governor, the
Duc de Richelieu. Isaac Pinto, who was on intimate terms with him, was
able to win his support. Richelieu issued an urgent command (November,
1761) that within two weeks all foreign Jews should be banished from
Bordeaux. Exception was made only in favor of two old men and women
whom the hardships of the expulsion would have killed, and of a man
who had been of service to the town (Jacob de Perpignan). All the rest
were plunged into unavoidable distress, as it was forbidden to Jews
to settle anywhere in France, and the districts and towns where Jews
already dwelt admitted no new-comers. What a difference between the
German Jew Moses Mendelssohn and the Portuguese Jews Isaac Pinto and
Rodrigues Pereira, who in their time were ranked side by side! The
former did not cease his efforts, until by his influence he brought
help to his unhappy brethren, or at least offered them comfort.
For the Jews in Switzerland, who were tolerated only in two small
towns, and even there were so enslaved that they must have died out,
Mendelssohn procured some alleviation through his opponent Lavater.
Several hundred Jews were about to be expelled from Dresden, because
they could not pay the poll-tax laid upon them. Through Mendelssohn's
intercession with one of his numerous admirers, Cabinet Councilor
Von Ferber, the unfortunate people obtained permission to remain in
Dresden. To a Jewish Talmudical scholar unjustly suspected of theft
and imprisoned in Leipsic, Mendelssohn cleverly contrived to send a
letter of consolation, whereby he gained his freedom. Isaac Pinto and
Jacob Pereira, on the other hand, were zealous in bringing about the
expulsion of their brethren by race and religion, which Mendelssohn
considered the hardest punishment of the Jews, "equal to annihilation
from the face of God's earth, where armed prejudice repulses them at
every frontier."

The cruel proceedings of the Portuguese Jews against their brethren
in Bordeaux made a great stir. If Jews might not tarry in France, why
should those of Portuguese tongue be tolerated? The latter, therefore,
saw themselves compelled to put themselves in a favorable light,
and requested Isaac Pinto, who had already appeared in public, and
possessed literary culture, to write a sort of vindication for them,
and make clear the wide difference between Jews of Portuguese descent
and those of other lands. Pinto consented, or rather followed his own
inclination, and prepared the "Reflections" upon Voltaire's defamation
of Judaism (1762). He told this reckless calumniator that the crime of
libeling single individuals was increased when the false accusations
affected a whole nation, and reached its highest degree when directed
against a people insulted by all men, and when the responsibility for
the misdeeds of a few is laid upon the whole body, whose members,
moreover, widely scattered, have assumed the character of the
inhabitants of the country in which they live. An English Jew as little
resembles his co-religionist of Constantinople, as the latter does a
Chinese mandarin; the Jew of Bordeaux and he of Metz are two utterly
different beings. Nevertheless, Voltaire had indiscriminately condemned
them, and his sketch of them was as absurd as untrue. Voltaire, who
felt called upon to extirpate prejudices, had in fact lent his pen to
the greatest of them. He does not indeed wish them to be burnt, but a
number of Jews would rather be burnt than so calumniated. "The Jews are
not more ignorant, more barbarous, or superstitious than other nations,
least of all do they merit the accusation of avarice." Voltaire owed
a duty to the Jews, to truth, to his century, and to posterity, which
would justly appeal to his authority when abusing and trying to crush
an exceedingly unhappy people.

However, as already said, it was not so much Pinto's aim to vindicate
the whole of the Jewish world against Voltaire's malicious charges
as to place his kinsmen, the Portuguese or Sephardic Jews, in a more
favorable light. To this end, he pretended that a wide gulf existed
between them and those of other extraction, especially the German
and Polish Jews. He averred, with great exaggeration, that if a
Sephardic Jew in England or Holland wedded a German Jewess, he would
be excluded from the community by his relatives, and would not even
find a resting-place in their cemetery. This arose from the fact that
the Portuguese Jews traced their lineage from the noblest families of
the tribe of Judah, and that their noble descent had always in Spain
and Portugal been an impulse to great virtues and a protection against
vice and crime. Among them no traces of the wickedness or evil deeds
of which Voltaire accused them were to be found. On the contrary, they
had brought wealth to the states which received them, especially to
Holland. The German and Polish Jews, on the other hand, Pinto abandoned
to the attacks of their detractors, except that he excused their not
over honorable trades and despicable actions by the overwhelming
sufferings, the slavery, and humiliation which they had endured, and
were still enduring. He succeeded in obtaining what he had desired.
In reply, Voltaire paid him and the Portuguese Jews compliments, and
admitted that he had done wrong in including them in his charges, but
nevertheless continued to abuse Jewish antiquity.

Pinto's defense attracted great attention. The press, both French and
English, pronounced a favorable judgment, and espoused the cause of
the Jews against Voltaire. But they blamed Pinto for having been too
partial to the Portuguese, and too strongly opposed to the German
and Polish Jews, and, like Voltaire, passing sentence upon all
indiscriminately, because of the behavior of a few individuals. A
Catholic priest under a Jewish disguise took up the cause of Hebrew
antiquity. He addressed "Jewish Letters" to Voltaire, pretending that
they came from Portuguese and German Jews; these were well meant but
badly composed. They were widely read, and helped to turn the current
of public opinion in favor of the Jews against Voltaire's savage
attacks. They did not fail to remind him that owing to loss of money
sustained through one Jew he pursued the whole race with his anger.
This friendly pamphlet on behalf of the Jews being written in French,
then the fashionable language, it was extensively read and discussed,
and found a favorable reception.

Sympathy for the Jews and the movement to elevate them from their
servile position were most materially stimulated by a persecution which
humane thinkers of the time considered surprising and unexpected,
but which has often been repeated in the midst of Christian nations.
This persecution kindled passions on both sides, and awakened men
to activity. In no part of Europe, perhaps, were the oppression and
abasement of Jews greater than in the originally German, but at
that time French province of Alsace, to which Metz may be reckoned.
All causes of inveterate Jew-hatred--clerical intolerance, racial
antipathy, arbitrariness of the nobility, mercantile jealousy, and
brute ignorance--were combined against the Jews of Alsace, to render
their existence in the century of enlightenment a continual hell.
Yet the oppression was so paltry in its nature that it could never
stimulate the Jews to offer heroic resistance. The German populace of
this province, like Germans in general, clung tenaciously to their
hatred of the Jews. Both the nobles and citizens of Alsace turned a
deaf ear to the voice of humanity, which spoke so eloquently in French
literature, and would not abate one jot of their legal rights over
the Jews, who were treated as serfs. In Alsace there lived from three
to four thousand Jewish families (from fifteen to twenty thousand
souls). It was in the power of the nobility to admit new, or expel old
families. In Metz the merchants had had a law passed limiting Jews
to four hundred and eighty families. This condition of affairs had
the same consequences as in Austria and Prussia: younger sons were
condemned to celibacy, or exile from their paternal home, and daughters
to remain unmarried. In fact, it was worse than in Austria and
elsewhere, because German pedantry carefully looked to the execution
of these rigorous Pharaonic laws, and stealthily watched the French
officials, lest any attempt be made to show indulgence towards the
unfortunate people. Naturally the Jews of Alsace and Metz were enclosed
in Ghettos, and could only occasionally pass through the other parts of
the towns. For these privileges they were compelled to pay exorbitant

Louis XIV had presented a portion of his income derived from the
Jews of Metz as a gift to the Duc de Brancas and the Countess de
Fontaine. They had to pay these persons 20,000 livres annually; besides
poll-taxes, trade-taxes, house-taxes, contributions to churches and
hospitals, war-taxes, and exactions of every sort under other names.

In Alsace they were obliged to pay protection-money to the king,
tribute to the bishop of Strasburg, and the duke of Hagenau, besides
residence-taxes to the nobles in whose feudal territory they dwelt, and
war-taxes. The privilege of residence did not descend to the eldest
son, but had to be purchased from the nobleman, as if the son were a
foreign applicant for protection. The Jews had to win the good opinion,
not alone of their lord, but also of his officials, by rich gifts at
New Year, and on other occasions. Whence could they procure all these
moneys, and still support their synagogues and schools?

Almost every handicraft and trade were forbidden them in Alsace:
legally they could engage only in cattle-dealing, and in trading in
gold and silver. In Metz the Jews were allowed to kill only such
animals as they required for private consumption, and the appointed
slaughterers had to keep a list of the animals slain. If they wished
to make a journey outside their narrow province, they had to pay
a poll-tax, and were subjected to the vexations of passports. In
Strasburg, the capital of the province, no Jew could stay over night.
What remained but to obtain the money indispensable for their wretched
existence in an illegal way--through usury? Those who possessed money
made advances to the small tradesmen, farmers, and vinedressers, at
the risk of losing the amounts lent, and demanded high interest, or
employed other artifices. This only caused them to be more hated, and
the growing impoverishment of the people was attributed to them, and
was the source of their unspeakable sufferings. They were in the sad
position of being compelled to make themselves and others unhappy.

This miserable condition of the Alsatian Jews a villainous man sought
to turn to his own advantage, and he almost brought on a sanguinary
persecution. A lawyer, not without brains and literary culture, named
Hell, belonging to a poor family, and ardently wishing for a high
position, being acquainted with the devices of the Jewish usurers,
actually learned the Hebrew language, to be able to levy blackmail on
them without fear of discovery. He sent threatening letters in Hebrew,
saying that they would inevitably be accused of usury and deception,
if they did not supply him with a stated sum of money. This worthless
lawyer afterwards became district judge to several Alsatian noblemen,
and thus the Jews were given wholly into his power. Those who did not
satisfy his continually increasing demands, were accused, ill-treated,
and condemned. Meantime his unjust conduct was partially exposed: he
was suspected, and this excited him against the Jews of Alsace. He
devised a plan to arouse fanaticism against them. He pointed out to
debtors a way to escape the oppressive debts which they owed Jewish
money-lenders, by producing false receipts as for payments already
rendered. Some of his creatures traveled through Alsace, and wrote out
such acquittances. Conscientious debtors had their scruples silenced
by the clergy, who assured them that robbing the Jews was a righteous
act. The timid were pacified by a rogue especially despatched for that
purpose, who distributed orders and crosses, presumably in the name
of the king, to those who accepted and presented the false receipts,
and were ready to accuse the Jews of oppression and duplicity. Thus
a menacing feeling, bordering on actual violence, developed against
the Jews of Alsace. The debtors united with common ruffians and
clergymen to implore the weak-minded king Louis XVI, to put an end to
all disturbances by expelling the Jews from the province. To crown
his work, the villainous district magistrate strove to exasperate
the populace against them. He composed a venomous work against them
(1779), "Observations of an Alsatian upon the Present Quarrels of the
Jews of Alsace," in which he collected all the slanderous accusations
against Jews from ancient times, in order to present a repulsive
picture of them, and expose them to hatred and extermination. He
admitted that receipts had been forged, but this was in consequence of
the decrees of Providence, to whom alone vengeance was becoming. They
hoped by these means to avenge the crucifixion of Jesus, the murder
of God. This district judge aimed at the annihilation, or, at least,
the expulsion of the Jews. But the spirit of toleration had acquired
sufficient strength to prevent the success of such cunning designs.
His base tricks were revealed, and, at the command of the king, Hell
was imprisoned, and afterwards banished from Alsace. A decree of the
sovereign ordered (May, 1780) that lawsuits against usurers should no
longer be decided by the district courts of the nobility, but by the
chief councilor, or state councilor (Conseil Souverain) of Alsace.

One result of these occurrences was that the Alsatian Jews finally
roused themselves, and ventured to state that their position was
intolerable, and to entreat relief from the throne of the gentle king
Louis XVI. Their representatives (Cerf Berr?) drew up a memorial to the
state council upon the inhuman laws under which they groaned, and made
proposals for the amelioration of their lot. They felt, however, that
this memorial should be written so as to influence public opinion, at
this time almost as powerful as the king himself. But in their midst
there was no man of spirit and ability who could compose a fitting
description of their condition.

To whom could they turn except to Mendelssohn, looked upon by European
Jews as their advocate and powerful supporter in distress? To him,
therefore, the Alsatian Jews--or, more correctly, their distinguished
representative Cerf Berr, who knew Mendelssohn--sent the material
with the request, to give the necessary polish and an impressive form
to their petition. Mendelssohn had neither the leisure, nor perhaps
the skill to carry out their request. Fortunately, he had found a new
friend and admirer, who, by knowledge and position, was better able
to formulate such a memorial. Christian William Dohm (b. 1751, d.
1820), owing to his thorough knowledge of history, had shortly before
been appointed by Frederick the Great--with the title of military
councilor--to superintend the archives. Like all ambitious youths and
men who frequented Berlin, Dohm had sought out the Jewish philosopher,
at this time at the summit of his fame; and like all who entered his
circle Dohm felt himself attracted by his intellectuality, gentleness,
and great wisdom. During his stay in Berlin he was a regular visitor
at the house of Mendelssohn, who, on Saturday, his day of leisure,
always assembled his friends around him. Every cultivated Christian
who came in contact with Mendelssohn was pleasantly attracted by him,
overcame his bias against Jews, and experienced mingled admiration and
sympathy for a race that had endured so much suffering, and produced
such a personality. Dohm had already thrown aside his innate or
acquired antipathy against Jews. His interest in mankind rested not
upon the shifting ground of Christian love, but upon the firm soil of
human culture, characteristic of the eighteenth century, and included
also this unhappy people. He had already planned to make the "history
of the Jewish nation since the destruction of their own state" the
subject of his studies.

Dohm evinced his readiness to draw up the memorial for the Alsatian
Jews in a pleasing form, in conjunction with Mendelssohn. Whilst
engaged on this task, the thought struck him to publish a plea, not
alone for protection for the few, but on behalf of all the German
Jews, who suffered under similar oppression. Thus originated his
never-to-be-forgotten work, "Upon the Civil Amelioration of the
Condition of the Jews" (finished August, 1781), the first step towards
removing the heavy yoke from the neck of the Jews. With this pamphlet,
like Lessing with his "Nathan," Dohm partly atoned for the guilt of the
German nation in enslaving and degrading the Jews. Dohm's apology has
no clerical tinge about it, but was addressed to sober, enlightened
statesmen, and laid particular stress upon the political advantages.
The noble philanthropist who first pleaded for the emancipation of the
negroes had fewer difficulties to overcome than Dohm in his efforts
for the freedom of the Jews. The very circumstances that ought to have
spoken in their favor, their intelligence and activity, their mission
to teach Christian nations pure doctrines on God and morality, their
ancient nobility--all tended to their detriment. Their intellectual
and energetic habits were described as cunning and love of gain;
their insistence upon the origin of their dogmas as presumption and
infidelity, and their ancient nobility as pride. It is difficult to
over-estimate the heroism required to speak a word on their behalf,
in face of the numerous prejudices and sentiments against the Jews
prevailing among all classes of Christian society.

In his apology Dohm, as already noted, omitted all reference to the
religious point of view, and dwelt solely upon the political and
economical aspect. He started by asserting that it was a universal
conviction that the welfare of states depended upon increase of
population. To this end many governments spent large sums of money to
attract new citizens from foreign countries. An exception was made
only in the case of Jews. "Almost in all parts of Europe the tendency
of the laws and the whole constitution of the state is to prevent, as
far as possible, the increase of these unfortunate Asiatic refugees.
Residence is either denied them, or granted, at a fixed sum, for a
short time. A large proportion of Jews thus find the gates of every
town closed against them; they are inhumanly driven away from every
border, and nothing is left to them except to starve, or to save
themselves from starvation by crime. Every guild would think itself
dishonored by admitting a Jew as a member; therefore, in almost every
country, the Hebrews are debarred from handicrafts and mechanical
arts. Only men of rare genius, amidst such oppressive circumstances,
retain courage and serenity to devote themselves to the fine arts
and the sciences. Even the rare men who attain to a high degree of
excellence, as well as those who are an honor to mankind through their
irreproachable righteousness, meet with respect only from a few; with
the majority the most distinguished merits of soul and heart can never
atone for the error of 'being a Jew.' What reasons can have induced
the governments of European states to be so unanimous in this attitude
towards the Jewish nation?" asked Dohm. Is it possible that industrious
and good citizens are less useful to the state, because they originally
came from Asia, and are distinguished by a beard, by circumcision,
and their form of worship? If the Jewish religion contained harmful
principles, then the exclusion of its adherents and the contempt felt
for them would be justified; but that is not the case. "The mob, which
considers itself at liberty to deceive a Jew, falsely asserts that, by
his law, he is permitted to cheat the adherents of another creed, and
persecuting priests have spread stories of the prejudices felt by the
Jews, and thus revealed their own. The chief book of the Jews, the Law
of Moses, is regarded with reverence also by Christians."

Dohm reviewed the history of the Jews in Europe--how, in the first
centuries, they had enjoyed full civil rights in the Roman Empire, and
must have been considered worthy of such privileges--how they were
degraded and deprived of their rights, first by the Byzantines, then
by the German barbarians, especially by the Visigoths in Spain. From
the Roman Empire the Jews had brought more culture than the dominant
nations possessed; they were not brutalized by savage feuds, nor
was their progress retarded by monkish philosophy and superstition.
In Spain amongst Jews and Arabs there had existed a more remarkable
culture than in Christian Europe. Dohm then reviewed the false
accusations and persecutions against Jews in the Middle Ages, painting
the Christians as cruel barbarians and the Jews as illustrious martyrs.
After touching upon the condition of the Jews in the various states, he
concluded his delineation with the words:

    "These principles of exclusion, equally opposed to humanity
    and politics, which bear the impress of the dark centuries,
    are unworthy of the enlightenment of our times, and deserve no
    longer to be followed. It is possible that some errors have
    become so deeply rooted that they will disappear only in the
    third or fourth generation. But this is no argument against
    beginning to reform now; because, without such beginning, a
    better generation can never appear."

Dohm suggested a plan whereby the amelioration of the condition of the
Jews might be facilitated, and his proposals formed a programme for the
future. In the first place, they were to receive equal rights with all
other subjects. In particular, liberty of occupation and in procuring a
livelihood should be conceded them, so that, by wise precautions, they
would be drawn away from petty trading and usury, and be attracted to
handicrafts, agriculture, arts, and sciences, all without compulsion.
The moral elevation of the Jews was to be promoted by the foundation
of good schools of their own, or by the admission of their youth
into Christian schools, and by the elevation of adults in the Jewish
Houses of Prayer. But it should also be impressed upon Christians,
through sermons and other effectual means, that they were to regard
and treat the Jews as brothers and fellow-men. As a matter of course,
Dohm desired to see freedom in their private religious affairs granted
them: free exercise of religion, the establishment of synagogues, the
appointment of teachers, maintenance of their poor, if considered wise,
under the supervision of the government. Even the power of excluding
refractory members from the community should be given them. Dohm,
moreover, pleaded for the continuance, under certain restrictions,
of independent jurisdiction in cases between Jews, the power to be
vested in a tribunal of rabbis. He wished to debar them from only
one privilege, from filling public offices, or entering the arena
of politics. The ability to undertake these duties, he thought, was
completely lacking in that generation, and would not manifest itself
very conspicuously in the next. Besides there was a super-abundance
rather than a lack of competent state officers. For this reason, it
would, for the present, be better both for the state and the Jews, if
they worked in warehouses and behind the plough rather than in state
offices. The immediate future disproved his doubts.

Dohm foresaw that his programme for the emancipation of the Jews
would meet with violent and stubborn opposition from the clergy and
the theological school. He therefore submitted it to the "wisdom of
the governments," who at this time were more inclined to progress and
enlightenment than the people. Dohm was filled with the seriousness and
importance of his task; he was positive that his proposals would lay
the basis not only for the welfare of the Jews, but also for that of
the states. It is not to be overlooked that Mendelssohn stood behind
him. Even if he did not dictate the words, yet he breathed into them
his spirit of gentleness and love of mankind, and illumined the points
which were strange and dark to Dohm, the Christian and political
writer. Mendelssohn is, therefore, to be looked upon, if not as the
father, certainly as the godfather, of Dohm's work.

It was inevitable for such a treatise to create great excitement in
Germany. Must not this demand to treat Jews as equals have appeared to
respectable Christians as a monstrous thing; as if the nobility had
been asked to place themselves at the same table with their slaves?
Soon after its appearance, Dohm's work advocating Jewish emancipation
became extraordinarily popular; it was read, discussed, criticised,
and refuted by many, and approved by only a few. The first rumor was
that Dohm had sold his pen to the Jews for a very high price, although
he had specially entreated protection for the poor homeless peddlers.
Fortune began to smile upon the Jews after having turned its back
upon them for so many centuries. Scarcely had the pamphlet appeared,
when Emperor Joseph, the first Austrian ruler to allow himself in
some degree to be guided by moral and humane principles, having
snapt asunder the yoke of the Catholic Church, and having accorded a
Toleration Edict to the Protestants, issued a series of laws relating
to the Jews, which displayed sincere if rather fierce philanthropy.

By this new departure (October 19, 1781), the Jews were permitted to
learn handicrafts, arts, and sciences, and with certain restrictions
to devote themselves to agriculture. The doors of the universities and
academies, hitherto closed to them, were thrown open. The education
of the Jewish youth was a matter of great interest to this emperor,
who promoted "philosophical morality." He accordingly decreed the
establishment of Jewish primary and high schools (normal schools), and
forced adults to learn the language of the country, by decreeing that
in future only documents written in that language would possess legal
force. He considerately removed the risk of all possible attempts at
religious compulsion. In the schools everything that might be offensive
to any creed was to be omitted from the curriculum. An ordinance
enjoined (November 2) that the Jews were to be everywhere considered
"fellow-men," and all excesses against them were to be avoided. The
Leibzoll (body-tax), more humiliating to Christians than to Jews, was
also abolished by Joseph II of glorious memory, in addition to the
special law-taxes, the passport-duty, the night-duty, and all similar
oppressive imposts which had stamped the Jews as outcasts, for they
were now to have equal rights with the Christian inhabitants (December
19). Joseph II did not intend to concede complete citizenship to the
Jews; they were still forbidden to reside in those cities whence
Christian intolerance had hitherto banished them. Even in Vienna Jews
were allowed to dwell only in a few exceptional cases, on payment of
protection-money (toleration-tax), which protection did not extend to
their grown-up sons. They were not suffered to have a single public
synagogue in Vienna. But Joseph II annulled a number of vexatious,
restrictive regulations, such as the compulsory wearing of beards, the
prohibition against going out in the forenoon on Sundays and holidays,
or frequenting public pleasure resorts. The emperor even permitted
Jewish wholesale merchants, notables, and their sons, to wear swords
(January 2, 1782), and especially insisted that Christians should
behave in a friendly manner towards Jews.

A notable beginning was thus made. The ignominy of a thousand years,
which the uncharitableness of the Church, the avarice of princes,
and the brutality of nations, had cast upon the race of Judah, was
now partly removed, at least in one country. Dohm's proposals in
consequence met with earnest consideration; they were not regarded
as ideal dreams, but as political principles worthy of attention.
Scholars, clergymen, statesmen, and princes began to interest
themselves seriously in the Jewish question. Every thoughtful person in
Germany and elsewhere took one side or the other. Various opinions and
ideas were aired; the most curious propositions were made. A preacher,
named Schwager, wrote:

    "I have always been averse to hating an unfortunate nation,
    because it worships God in another way. I have always lamented
    that we have driven the Jews to deceive us by an oppressive
    political yoke. For, what else can they do, in order to live?
    in what other way can they defray their heavy taxes?"

Diez, Dohm's excellent friend, one of the noblest men of that epoch,
afterwards Prussian ambassador to the Turkish court, thought that Dohm
had asked far too little for the Jews.

    "You aver most truly," he remarked, "that the present moral
    depravity of the Jews is a consequence of their bondage. But
    to color the picture, and weaken the reproaches leveled at the
    Jews, a representation of the moral depravity of the Christians
    would have been useful; certainly it is not less than that of
    the Jews, and rather the cause of the latter."

John von Müller, the talented historian of the Swiss, with his wide
attainments in general history, also admired the glorious antiquity of
the Jews, praised Dohm's efforts on behalf of the Jews, and supplied
him from the treasures of his knowledge with new proofs of the unjust
and pitiless persecution of the mediæval Jews, and their demoralization
by intolerable tyranny. He wished the writings of Maimuni, "the Luther
of the Jews," to be translated into one of the European languages.

Naturally, hostile pamphlets were not wanting. Especially noteworthy
was an abusive tract, published in Prague, entitled "Upon the Inutility
of the Jews in the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia," in which the
author indulged in common insults against the Jews, and revived all
the charges of poisoning wells, sedition, and other pretexts for their
expulsion. This scurrilous work was so violent, that Emperor Joseph
forbade its circulation (March 2, 1782). A bitter opponent of the Jews
at this time was Frederick Traugott Hartmann. And why? Because he had
been cheated out of a few pennies by Jewish hawkers. On account of
their venomous tone, however, these writings harmed the Jews less than
those of the German pedants.

To these belonged a famous scholar of authority, John David Michaelis,
the aged professor at Göttingen. His range of vision had been widened
by travels and observation, and he had cut himself adrift from the
narrowness of Lutheran theology. Michaelis was the founder of the
rationalist school of theologians, who resolved the miracles and the
sublimity of the Holy Scriptures into simple natural facts. Through
his "Mosaic Law," and cultivation of Hebrew grammar and exegesis,
he gained high repute. But Michaelis had exactly that proportion
of unbelief and belief which made him hate the Jews as the bearers
of revealed religion and a miraculous history, and despise them as
antagonists of Christianity. A Jewish officer in the French army,
when it was stationed in Göttingen, had given but a grudging salute
in return for the slavish obeisances of the professors, which they
held as due to every Frenchman. This was ground enough for Michaelis
to abominate the Jews one and all, and to affirm that they were of
despicable character. Michaelis had several years before remarked,
on the appearance of Lessing's drama "The Jew," "that a noble Jew
was a poetic impossibility." Experience had disproved this assertion
through Mendelssohn and other persons; but a German professor cannot
be mistaken. Michaelis adhered to his opinion that the Jews were an
incorrigible race. Now he condemned the Jews from a theological point
of view, now from political considerations. It is hard to say whether
it is to be called insensibility, intellectual dullness, or malice,
when Michaelis blurts out with:

    "It seems to me, that here in Germany they (the Jews) already
    have everything that they could possibly desire, and I do
    not know what he (Dohm) wishes to add thereto. Medicine,
    philosophy, physics, mathematics, they are not excluded from,
    --and he himself does not wish them to have offices."

He even defended the taking of protection-money from the Jews.

It cannot be said that the anti-Jewish treatise of Michaelis injured
them at the time, for in no case would the German princes and people
have emancipated them, had not the imperious progress of history
compelled it. But in after years Michaelis was employed as an authority
against the Jews. The agitation excited by Dohm, and the views _pro_
and _con_ had only resulted in forming public opinion upon Judaism,
and this affected not Germany, but France. Miraculous concatenation
of historical events! The venomous Alsatian district judge wished to
have the Jews of Alsace annihilated, and through his malice he actually
facilitated the liberation of the Jews in France.

Mendelssohn prudently kept himself in the background in this movement:
he did not desire to have attention drawn to him as a prejudiced
defender of his brethren in religion and race. He blessed the outbreak
of interest in his unhappy kinsmen.

    "Blessed be Almighty Providence that has allowed me, at the end
    of my days, to see the happy time, when the rights of humanity
    begin to be realized in their true extent."

However, two things induced him to break silence. He found that the
arrows hurled by Dohm had been insufficient to pierce the thick-skinned
monster of Jew-hatred.

    "Reason and humanity have raised their voices in vain, for
    grey-headed prejudice is deaf."

Dohm himself did not appear to him to be free from the general
prejudice, because he admitted that the Jews of the present day were
depraved, useless, even harmful; therefore he suggested means to
improve them. But Mendelssohn, who knew his co-religionists better, did
not find them so greatly infected with moral leprosy--or differing
so widely from Christians of the same class and trade--as arrogant
Christians in their self-glorification were wont to assert. In a very
clever way Mendelssohn made not alone the Göttingen scholars Michaelis
and Hartmann, but also Dohm, understand that they had misconceived the
Jewish question.

    "It is wonderful to note how prejudice assumes the forms of
    every century in order to act despotically towards us, and
    place difficulties in the way of our obtaining civil rights. In
    superstitious ages we were said to insult sacred objects out of
    mere wantonness; to pierce crucifixes and cause them to bleed;
    secretly to circumcise children and stab them in order to
    feast our eyes upon the sight; to draw Christian blood for our
    Passover; to poison wells.

    "Now times have changed, calumny no longer makes the desired
    impression. Now we, in turn, are upbraided with superstition
    and ignorance, lack of moral sentiments, taste, and refined
    manners, incapacity for the arts, sciences, and useful
    pursuits, especially for the service of war and the state,
    invincible inclination to cheating, usury, and lawlessness; all
    these have taken the place of coarse indictments against us, to
    exclude us from the number of useful citizens, and reject us
    from the motherly bosom of the state. They tie our hands, and
    reproach us that we do not use them.... Reason and the spirit
    of research of our century have not yet wiped away all traces
    of barbarism in history. Many a legend of the past has obtained
    credit, because it has not occurred to any one to cast doubts
    upon it. Some are supported by such important authorities that
    few have the boldness to look upon them as legends and libels.
    Even at the present moment there is many a city of Germany
    where no circumcised person, even though he pays duty for his
    creed, is allowed to issue forth in open daylight unwatched,
    lest he kidnap a Christian child or poison the wells; while
    during the night he is not trusted under the strictest
    surveillance, owing to his well-known intercourse with evil

The second point in Dohm's memoir which did not please Mendelssohn was,
that it demanded the recognition of the state for the Jewish religion,
inasmuch as the government was to grant it the right of excluding
unruly members by a sort of excommunication. This did not harmonize
with his conception of a pure religion. In order to counteract the
errors of Dohm's well-meant apology, and the obstinate misapprehension
of the Jews as much as possible, Mendelssohn caused one of his young
friends, the physician Marcus Herz, to translate from the English
original the "Vindiciæ Judæorum" of Manasseh ben Israel against the
numerous slanderous charges brought against them. He himself wrote a
preface full of luminous, glowing thoughts (March, 1782), called "The
Salvation of the Jews," as an appendix to Dohm's work. Manasseh's
Apology was buried in a book little read; Mendelssohn made its
excellent truths known among the cultured classes, and by a correct
elucidation gave them proper emphasis. In this preface he insisted,
that while the church arrogates the right of inflicting punishment upon
its followers, religion, the true faith, based upon reason and love
of humanity, "requires neither an arm nor a finger for its purpose;
it concerns only the spirit and the heart. Moreover it does not drive
sinners and renegades from its doors." Without knowing the whole extent
of the harm caused by it in the course of Jewish history, Mendelssohn
detested the interdicting power. He therefore adjured the rabbis and
elders to give up their right of excommunicating.

    "Alas! my brethren, you have felt the oppressive yoke of
    intolerance only too severely; all the nations of the earth
    seem hitherto to have been deluded by the idea that religion
    can be maintained only by an iron hand. You, perhaps, have
    suffered yourselves to be misled into thinking the same. Oh,
    my brethren, follow the example of love, as you have till now
    followed that of hatred!"

Mendelssohn now held so high a position in public opinion, that every
new publication bearing his name was eagerly read. The fundamental
thought of the preface to Manasseh ben Israel's "Vindication," that
religion has no rights over its followers and must not resort to
compulsory measures, struck its readers with astonishment. This had
never occurred to any Christian believer. Enlightened Christian
clergymen, such as Teller, Spalding, Zollikofer, and others, gradually
fell in with the new idea, and tendered its originator public applause.
Bigoted clerics and obdurate minds, on the other hand, beheld therein
the destruction of religion. "All this is new and difficult; first
principles are denied," said they. In Jewish circles also many
objections were made to Mendelssohn's view. It seemed as if he had
suddenly discarded Judaism, which certainly owns an elaborate system of
penalties for religious crimes and transgressions. From the Christian
camp a pamphlet called "Inquiry into Light and Truth" was launched
against him, which asserted that he had finally dropped his mask; that
he had embraced the religion of love, and turned his back upon his
native faith, which execrates and punishes.

A second time Mendelssohn was compelled to emerge from his retirement,
and give his views upon religion. This he did in a work entitled
"Jerusalem," or "Upon Ecclesiastical Power and Judaism" (spring,
1783), whose purity of contents and form is a memorial of his lofty
genius. The gentleness that breathes through this book, the warmth of
conviction, the frankness of utterance, its childlike ingenuousness,
yet profoundly thoughtful train of ideas, the graceful style which
renders even dry discussion enjoyable--all these qualities earned
contemporary approval for this work, and will always assure it a
place in literature. At the time it excited great surprise. It had
been believed, that, owing to his ideas upon religion and Judaism,
Mendelssohn, if he had not entirely broken away from Judaism, had yet
declared many things therein to be worthless. He now showed that he
was an ardent Jew, and would not yield a tittle of existing Judaism,
either rabbinical or biblical; that he, in fact, claimed the highest
privileges for it. All this was in accord with his peculiar method of

Judaism recognizes the freedom of religious convictions. Original,
pure Judaism, therefore, contains no binding articles of belief,
no symbolical books, by which the faithful were compelled to swear
and affirm their incumbent duty. Judaism prescribes not faith, but
knowledge, and it urges that its doctrines be taken to heart. In this
despised religion everyone may think, opine, and err as he pleases,
without incurring the guilt of heresy. Its right of inflicting
punishment begins only when evil thoughts become acts. Why? Because
Judaism is not revealed religion, but revealed legislation. Its first
precept is not, "thou shalt believe or not believe," but, "thou shalt
do or abstain from doing."

    "In the divinely-ordained constitution, state and religion
    are one. Not unbelief, false teaching, and error, but wicked
    offenses against the principles of the state and the national
    constitution are chastised. With the destruction of the
    Temple, _i. e._, with the downfall of the state, all corporal
    and capital punishment, as well as money fines, ceased. The
    national bonds were dissolved; religious trespasses were no
    longer crimes against the state, and religion, as such, knows
    no punishments."

For those who seriously or jestingly had reported that Mendelssohn
had separated from Judaism, he laid stress upon two points not wholly
germane to his subject, viz., that the so-called ceremonial law of
Judaism is likewise, indeed particularly, of divine origin, and that
its obligatory character must continue "until it pleases the Supreme to
abrogate it as plainly and publicly as it was revealed."

The effect of this detailed apology was greater than Mendelssohn
could have expected. Instead of defending himself he had come forward
as an accuser, and in a manner at once gentle and forcible he had
laid bare the hateful ulcers of the church and state constitution.
Two authoritative representatives of the age pronounced flattering
opinions upon him and the subject which he was discussing. Kant, who
had already testified to his greatness of thought, wrote that he had
read "Jerusalem" with admiration for its keenness of argument, its
refinement, and cleverness of composition.

    "I consider this book the herald of a great reform, which
    will affect not alone your nation, but also others. You have
    succeeded in combining your religion with such a degree of
    freedom of conscience as was never imagined possible, and of
    which no other faith can boast. You have, at the same time, so
    thoroughly and clearly demonstrated the necessity of unlimited
    liberty of conscience in every religion, that ultimately our
    Church will also be led to reflect how to remove from its midst
    everything that disturbs and oppresses conscience, which will
    finally unite all men in their view of the essential points of

Michaelis, the rationalistic anti-Semite, stood baffled, embarrassed,
and ashamed before the bold ideas of the "Jerusalem." Judaism, which he
had scornfully disdained, now fearlessly and victoriously raised its
head. The Jew Mendelssohn, whom he would not have trusted with a penny,
appeared the incarnation of conscientiousness and wisdom. Michaelis
was sorely perplexed in passing judgment upon this remarkable work.
He was obliged to admit many things. Thus, without selfish motives,
impelled only by circumstances, Mendelssohn glorified Judaism, and
shook off disgrace from his people. In the meantime Dohm was aiding
him. He continued to expound Judaism in the most favorable light,
and refute all objections, the honest as well as the malicious ones;
he had come to regard the quarrel as his own. But Dohm effected most
by enlisting through his writings in favor of Jews the sympathies of
Mirabeau, a man with shoulders strong enough to bear a new system of
the world, and he continued the work of Dohm.

At the same time, and in the same way, that is, indirectly, Mendelssohn
again urged the internal rejuvenescence of the Jews, which was to
accompany their emancipation. From modesty or discretion, he would
not come to the front; he had stimulated Dohm to do battle for their
emancipation, and for their regeneration he brought forward another
friend, who appeared born for the task. Owing to Mendelssohn, Wessely
became a historical personage, who worked with all his energy for the
improvement of the Jews, completing the deficiency of Mendelssohn's
retiring character. Hartwig (Hartog, Naphtali-Herz) Wessely (born
in Hamburg, 1725; died in the same town, 1805) was of a peculiar
disposition, combining elements not often associated. His grandfather
had established a manufactory for arms in Holstein, and had been a
commercial councilor and royal resident. His father also conducted an
important business, and had frequent intercourse with so-called great
people. In this way Hartwig Wessely came with his father to Copenhagen,
where a Portuguese congregation, and also a few German Jews had
settled. His early education was the same as that of most boys of that
time; he learnt to read Hebrew mechanically, and to mis-translate the
Bible, to be launched, a boy of nine, into the labyrinth of the Talmud.
But a traveling grammarian, Solomon Hanau, promoted the development
of the germs within him, and inspired him with love for the Hebrew
language. His labor was not in vain. The seed sown by Hanau was to bear
thousand-fold fruit. Wessely's chief interest was the study of the
Holy Writings in the original tongue; it was the aim of his life to
understand them from all points of view. Owing to his father's frequent
contact with non-Jewish circles, in the course of business, Wessely
obtained an insight into actual life, and absorbed other branches of
knowledge, the modern languages, geography, history, descriptions of
travels. These only served as auxiliary sciences to be employed in
his special study of the Scriptures, and by their means to penetrate
deeper into their thought and spirit. Like Mendelssohn, Wessely was
self-taught. Very early he developed taste, a sense for beauty, feeling
for purity of speech and form, and repugnance to the mixed dialects and
the jargon commonly used among German Jews.

Wessely again resembled Mendelssohn in character, distinguished as he
was by strict conscientiousness and elevated feelings of honor. In him,
too, thoughts, sentiments, words, and deeds, showed no discrepancy.
He was of deep, pure piety, an unswerving adherent to Judaism. His
nature, however, did not display the gentle pliancy of Mendelssohn's.
He was stiff and pedantic, more inclined to juggle with words and split
hairs than to think deeply, and he had no correct idea of the action
of world-moving forces. All his life Wessely remained a visionary,
and saw the events of the real world through colored glasses. In one
way Wessely was apparently superior to Mendelssohn; he was a poet. In
reality, however, he only possessed uncommon facility and skill in
making beautiful, well-sounding verses of blameless refinement, of
graceful symmetrical smoothness, and accurate construction.

Wessely was greatly charmed by the laws of Emperor Joseph in favor
of the Jews, especially by the command to erect schools; he beheld
therein the dawn of a golden age for the Jews, whilst Mendelssohn, with
his keen perception, from the first did not expect great results. He
remarks, "It is perhaps only a passing idea, without any substance, or,
as some fear, it has a financial purpose." Wessely, however, composed a
glowing hymn of praise to the noble rule and the magnanimity of Emperor
Joseph. As soon as he was informed that the rigidly orthodox party in
Vienna regretted the order to establish schools as an interference
with their liberty of conscience, he addressed a Hebrew letter
(March, 1782), called "Words of Peace and Truth," to the Austrian
congregations, exhorting them to welcome it as a benefit, to rejoice
in it, and at once execute it. He explained that it was a religious
duty of the Jews, recommended even by the Talmud, to acquire general
culture, that the latter must even precede a knowledge of religion, and
that only by such means could they remove the disgrace which, owing
to their ignorance, had weighed upon them for so long a time. Wessely
emphasized the necessity of banishing the barbarous jargon from the
midst of the Jews, and of cultivating a pure, euphonious language. He
sketched a plan of instruction in his letter, showing how the Jewish
youth should be led, step by step, from elementary subjects to the
study of the Talmud. This letter, written with fervor, impressive
eloquence, and in a beautiful Hebrew style, could not have failed
to produce great effect, had not Wessely, in his fantastic manner,
recommended that all Jewish youths, without distinction of talents and
future profession should be taught, not only history and geography but
also natural sciences, astronomy, and religious philosophy, because
only by this preliminary knowledge could a thorough understanding of
Holy Writ and of Judaism be acquired!

This epistle bore him both sweet and bitter fruit. The community
of Trieste, chiefly comprising Italian and Portuguese Jews, who,
unlike the Germans, did not consider culture as heresy, had applied
to the governor, Count Zinzendorf, declaring their readiness to
establish a normal school, and begging him to advise them how they
might procure text books on religion and ethics. Zinzendorf directed
them to Mendelssohn, whose celebrated name had penetrated to that
distant place. Accordingly, Joseph Chayim Galaïgo, in the name of
the congregation of Trieste, addressed a petition to the Jewish sage
of Berlin for his writings. On this occasion, Mendelssohn called the
attention of the people of Trieste to his friend Wessely and to his
circular letter, recommending the founding of Jewish schools, and
the community forthwith entered into negotiations with him. Thus his
fervent words met with early encouragement.

From the strictly pious people, however, a storm now broke out against
him. They were particularly indignant at his hearty approval of Emperor
Joseph's reforms. The unamiable manner in which princes were wont to
concede freedom, the force brought to bear upon the Jews, a natural
aversion to forsake the past, the legitimate fear that through school
education and partial emancipation young men would be seduced from
Judaism, and that the instruction given at the normal schools would
supersede the study of the Talmud--all these things had induced the
rabbis and the representatives of tradition to oppose the reforming
Jewish ordinances of Emperor Joseph. Besides, men of doubtful piety,
such as Herz Homberg, eagerly pressed forward to obtain appointments at
the newly-founded training schools, and to tempt the youthful students
to innovations. There were, to be sure, intelligent men, especially
in Prague, who greeted the new laws as salutary measures, and hoped
that by these means the Jews would rise out of their wretched,
demoralized condition. But this minority was denounced by the orthodox
as innovators and triflers. Religious simplicity, which at every puff
of wind feared the downfall of the edifice of faith, and the desire
of gain, which fattened upon ignorance, and the perverse method of
instruction in a corrupt dialect, worked hand in hand to predispose
the communities against school reforms. Wessely destroyed the whole
opposition with one blow. He who had hitherto been respected as an
orthodox believer, now supported the new order of things. Further, in
his incautious way, he had quoted the Talmudical sentence, "A Talmudist
who does not possess knowledge (general culture), is uglier than a
carcass." This expression greatly angered the orthodox. The Austrian
rabbis dared not attack him openly, because he had only followed the
emperor in his ideas. They appear therefore to have incited certain
Polish rabbis to condemn his circular letter and excommunicate him.

Although the zealots were without support from Berlin, they continued
in their heretic-hunting, causing the pulpits to re-echo with
imprecations against Wessely; and in Lissa his letter was publicly
burnt. He had the bitter experience of standing alone in this conflict.
None of his adherents publicly sided with him, although he was
contending for a just cause by noble methods and in a most becoming
manner. Mendelssohn did not like such disputes, and at this time was
suffering too much, bodily and mentally, to take part. Thus Wessely had
to conduct his own defense. He published a second letter (April 24),
supposed to be addressed to the Trieste congregation, in which he again
dwelt upon the importance of regular instruction, and of the abolition
of old practices, and disproved the charges against him. Gentle and
forbearing as he was, he avoided retorting severely upon his opponents;
but he permitted words of censure against orthodoxy and the one-sided,
perverse Talmudic tendency to slip from him. It was, indeed, the irony
of history, that the most orthodox among the followers of Mendelssohn,
without wishing it, opened fire on Rabbinism, as the Kabbalist Jacob
Emden had given the first violent blow to the Kabbala. By and by,
several Italian rabbis of Trieste, Ferrara, and Venice, spoke in favor
of Wessely, and recommended culture, although they were unable to
bridge over the chasm between it and Rabbinism. Wessely was victorious;
and the opposing rabbis laid down their arms. Schools for regular
instruction arose here and there, even in Prague. But the strict
Talmudists were right. Their suspicions foreboded the future more truly
than Mendelssohn's and Wessely's confidence. The old rigid form of
Judaism could no more assert itself. Both these men, who had felt so
much at ease in the old structure, and wished only to see it cleansed
here and there from cobwebs and fungus growths, contributed to sap its

Wessely, ever deserted by fortune, lived to see this decay with weeping
eyes. Mendelssohn, more fortunate, was spared this pain. Death called
him away in time, before he perceived that his circle, even his own
daughters, treated with contemptuous scorn and rejected what his heart
held to be most sacred, and what he so earnestly strove to glorify.
Had he lived ten years longer, even his wisdom would perhaps not
have availed him to tide over this anguish. He who without a trace
of romance had led an ideal life, died ideally transfigured, at the
right moment. The friendship and the philosophy which had elevated
his life and brought him fame broke his heart. When Mendelssohn was
about to raise a memorial to his unforgotten friend, to show him
in his true greatness to future generations, he learned from Jacobi
that shortly before his death Lessing had manifested a decided liking
for the philosophy of Spinoza. "Lessing a Spinozist!" This pierced
Mendelssohn's heart as with a spear. Nothing was so distasteful to
him as the pantheistic system of Spinoza, which denied a personal
God, Providence, and Immortality, ideas with which Mendelssohn's soul
was bound up. That Lessing should have entertained such convictions,
and that he, his bosom friend, should know nothing whatsoever about
them! Jealousy that Lessing had communicated to others the secret
so carefully concealed from himself, and deep disappointment that
his friend had not shared his own convictions took possession of
Mendelssohn. He suspected, that his philosophy, if it was true that
Lessing had not been pleased with it, would become obsolete, and be
thrust aside. His whole being rose in resistance against such doubts.
These thoughts robbed the last years of his life of rest, made him
passionate, excited, feverish. While composing his work in refutation
of Jacobi's, "To the Friends of Lessing," excitement so overpowered
him that it brought on his death (January 4, 1786). This ideal death
for friendship and wisdom worthily concluded his life, and showed him
to posterity as he appeared to his numerous friends and admirers, an
upright, honest man, in whom was neither falsehood nor guile. Almost
the entire population of the Prussian capital, and many earnest men
in Germany and beyond its borders mourned the man who, forty years
before, with heavy heart had knocked at one of the gates of Berlin,
in fear that the Christian or the Jewish beadle would drive him away.
The attempt of his Christian friends, Nicolai, Biester, and Engel,
the tutor of the Crown Prince Frederick William III, in conjunction
with Jewish admirers, to erect a statue to Mendelssohn in the Opera
Square next to those of Leibnitz, Lambert, and Sulzer, although it did
not meet with approval, characterizes the progress of the time. The
deformed son of the so-called "Ten Commandments writer" of Dessau had
become an ornament to the city of Berlin.



  The Alliance of Reason with Mysticism--Israel Baalshem, his
    Career and Reputation--Movement against Rabbinism--The
    "Zaddik"--Beer Mizricz, his Arrogance and Deceptions--
    The Devotional Methods of the Chassidim--Their Liturgy--
    Dissolution of the Synods "of the Four Countries"--Cossack
    Massacres in Poland--Elijah Wilna, his Character and Method of
    Research--The Mizricz and Karlin Chassidim--Circumstances
    prove Favorable to the Spread of the New Sect--Vigorous
    Proceedings against them in Wilna--Death of Beer Mizricz--
    Progress of Chassidism despite the Persecution of its Opponents.

1750-1786 C. E.

As soon as an historical work has performed its service, and is to
undergo a change, new phenomena arise from various sides, and assume
a hostile attitude, either to alter or destroy it. It might have
been foreseen that the rejuvenescence of the Jewish race, for which
Mendelssohn had leveled the way, would produce a transformation and
decomposition of religious habits among Jews. The innovators desired
this, and hoped, and strove for it; the old orthodox party suspected
and dreaded it. The process of dissolution was brought about also in
another way, upon another scene, under entirely different conditions,
and by other means, and this could not have been foreseen. There arose
in Poland a new Essenism, with forms similar to those of the ancient
cult, with ablutions and baths, white garments, miraculous cures, and
prophetic visions. Like the old movement, it originated in ultra-piety,
but soon turned against its own parent, and perhaps hides within itself
germs of a peculiar kind, which, being in course of development, cannot
be defined. It seems remarkable that, at the time when Mendelssohn
declared rational thought to be the essence of Judaism, and founded,
as it were, a widely-extended order of enlightened men, another
banner was unfurled, the adherents of which announced the grossest
superstition to be the fundamental principle of Judaism, and formed
an order of wonder-seeking confederates. Both these new bodies took
up a hostile position to traditional Judaism, and created a rupture.
History in its generative power is as manifold and puzzling as nature.
It produces in close proximity healing herbs and poisonous plants,
lovely flowers and hideous parasites. Reason and unreason seemed to
have entered into a covenant to shatter the gigantic structure of
Talmudic Judaism. The attempt once before made by history, to subvert
Judaism by the contemporaneous existence of Spinoza and Sabbataï Zevi,
was now repeated by the simultaneous attacks of representatives of
reason and unreason. Enlightenment and Kabbalistic mysticism joined
hands to commence the work of destruction. Mendelssohn and Israel
Baalshem, what contrasts! Yet both unconsciously undermined the basis
of Talmudic Judaism. The origin of the new Chassidim, who had already
become numerous, and who sprang up very rapidly, is not so clear as
the movement started by Mendelssohn. The new sect, a daughter of
darkness, was born in gloom, and even to-day proceeds stealthily on its
mysterious way. Only a few circumstances which contributed to its rise
and propagation are known.

The founders of the new Chassidism were Israel of Miedziboz (born about
1698; died 1759) and Beer of Mizricz (born about 1700; died 1772).
The former received, alike from his admirers and his antagonists, the
surname of "The Wonderworker by means of Invocations in the Name of
God," Baalshem, or Baal-Shemtob, in the customary abbreviated form,
Besht. As ugly as the name, Besht, was the form of the founder and
the order that he called into existence. The Graces did not sit by his
cradle, but the spirit of belief in wonderworking, and his brain was
so filled with fantastic images that he could not distinguish them
from real, tangible beings. The experiences of Israel's youth are
unknown. So much, however, is certain; he was left an orphan, poor
and neglected, early in life, and passed a great portion of his youth
in the forests and caves of the Carpathian mountains. The spurs of
the Carpathian hills were his teachers. Here he learnt what he would
not have acquired in the dark, narrow, dirty hovels called schools
in Poland--namely, to understand the tongue which nature speaks.
The spirits of the mountains and the fountains whispered secrets
to him. Here he also learned, probably from the peasant women who
gathered herbs on the mountain-tops and on the edges of rivers, the
use of plants as remedies. As they did not trust to the healing power
of nature, but added conjurations and invocations to good and evil
spirits, Israel also accustomed himself to this method of cure. He
became a miracle-doctor. Necessity, too, was his teacher; it taught
him to pray. How often, in his forsaken and orphaned condition, may he
have suffered from want even of dry bread, how often may he have been
surrounded by real or imaginary dangers! In his distress he prayed in
the usual forms of the synagogue; but he spoke his words with fervor
and intense devotion, or cried them aloud in the solitude of the
mountains. His audible prayer awakened the echoes of the mountains,
which appeared as an answer to his supplications. He seems to have been
often in a state of rapture, and to have induced this condition by
frantic movements of the whole body while praying. This agitation drove
the blood to his head, made his eyes glitter, and wrought both body and
soul into such a condition of over-excitement that he felt a deadly
weakness come over him. Was this magnetic tension of the soul caused by
the motions and the shouting, singing, and praying?

Israel Baalshem asserted that, in consequence of these bodily
agitations and this intense devotion, he often caught a glimpse of
infinity. His soul soared upward to the world of light, heard and
saw Divine secrets and revelations, entered into conversation with
sublime spirits, and by their intervention could secure the grace of
God and prosperity, and especially avert impending calamities. Israel
Miedziboz also boasted that he could see into the future, as secrets
were unveiled to him. Was this a deliberate boast, self-deception, or
merely an over-estimation of morbid feelings? There are persons, times,
and places, in which the line of demarcation between trickery and
self-delusion cannot be distinguished. In Poland, in Baalshem's time,
with the terrible mental strain created by the Kabbala in connection
with the Sabbatian fraud, the feverish expectation of imminent
Messianic redemption, everything was possible and everything credible.
In that land the fancy of both Jews and Christians moved among
extraordinary and supernatural phenomena as in its natural element.
Israel steadfastly and firmly believed in the visions seen when he
was under mental and physical excitement; he believed in the power of
his prayers. In his delusion he blasphemously declared that prayer is
a kind of marriage union (Zivug) of man with the Godhead (Shechina),
upon which he must enter whilst in a state of excitement. Equipped with
alleged higher knowledge of secret remedies and the spirit world, to
which he thought he had attained through Divine grace, Israel entered
the society of men to prove his higher gifts. It must be acknowledged
to his credit that he never misused these talents. He did not make a
trade of them, nor seek to earn his livelihood with them. At first he
followed the humble occupation of a wagoner, afterwards he dealt in
horses, and when his means permitted it he kept a tavern.

Occasionally, when specially requested, he employed his miraculous
remedies, and thereby gained so great a reputation that he was
consulted even by Polish nobles. He became conspicuous by his noisy,
delirious praying, which must have so transfigured him that men did not
recognize the wagoner or horse-dealer whom they knew. He was admired
for his revelation of secrets. In Poland not only the unlearned and the
Jews considered such gifts and miracles possible; the Jesuits and the
Kabbalists had stultified the Christians and the Jews of their country,
and plunged them into a state of primitive barbarism.

It would have been a remarkable thing if such a wonder-doctor, who
appeared to have intercourse with the spirit world, had not found
adherents, but he can hardly have designed the formation of a new sect.
He was joined by persons of a similar disposition to his own, who felt
a religious impulse, which could not be satisfied, they thought, by a
rigorous, penitential life, or by mechanical repetition of prescribed
prayers. They joined Israel, in Miedziboz, to pray with devotion,
_i. e._, in a sing-song tune, clapping their hands, bowing, jumping,
gesticulating, and uttering cries. At almost the same time there
arose, in Wales, a Christian sect called "the Jumpers," who resorted
to similar movements during prayer, and induced trances and mesmeric
dreams. At the same time there was established, in North America, the
sect of the Shakers, by an Irish girl, Johanna Lee, who likewise in the
delirium of prayer pursued mystic Messianic phantoms. Israel need not
have been a trickster to obtain followers. Mysticism and madness are
contagious. He particularly attracted men who desired to lead a free
and merry life, at the same time hoping to reach a lofty aim, and to
live assured of the nearness of God in serenity and calmness, and to
advance the Messianic future. They did not need to pore over Talmudical
folios in order to attain to higher piety.

It became the fashion in neo-Chassidean circles to scoff at the
Talmudists. Because the latter mocked at the unlearned chief of the
new order, who had a following without belonging to the guild of
Talmudists, without having been initiated into the Talmud and its
appendages, the Chassidim depreciated the study of the Talmud, avowing
that it was not able to promote a truly godly life. Covert war existed
between the neo-Chassidim and the Rabbanites; the latter could not,
however, harm their opponents so long as Israel's adherents did not
depart from existing Judaism. After the death of the founder, when
barbarism and degeneracy increased, the feud grew into a complete
rupture under Beer of Mizricz.

Dob Beer (or Berish) was no visionary like Israel, but possessed the
faculty of clear insight into the condition of men's minds. He was
thus able to render the mind and will of others subservient to him.
Although he joined the new movement only a short time before Israel's
death, yet, whether at his suggestion or not, Israel's son and
sons-in-law were passed over, and Beer was made Israel's successor in
the leadership of the neo-Chassidean community. Beer, who transferred
the center to Mizricz--a village in Volhynia--was superior to his
master in many points. He was well read in Talmudical and Kabbalistic
writings, was a fluent preacher (Maggid), who, to further his purpose,
could make the most far-fetched biblical verses, as also Agadic and
Zoharic expressions, harmonize, and thus surprise his audience.
He removed from the Chassidim the stigma of ignorance, especially
disgraceful in Poland, and secured an accession of supporters. He had
a commanding appearance, did not mingle with the people, but lived
the whole week secluded in a small room--only accessible to his
confidants--and thus acquired the renown of mysterious intercourse
with the heavenly world. Only on the Sabbath did he show himself to
all who longed to be favored with his sight. On this day he appeared
splendidly attired in satin, his outer garment, his shoes, and even his
snuff-box being white, the color signifying grace in the Kabbalistic
language. On this day, in accordance with the custom introduced by
Israel Besht, he offered up prayers together with his friends, with the
strangers who had made a pilgrimage to him, with the new members, and
those curious to see the Kabbalistic saint and wonderworker. To produce
the joyous state of mind necessary to devout prayer, Beer indulged in
vulgar jokes, whereby the merriment of the bystanders was aroused; for
instance, he would joke with one of the circle, and throw him down. In
the midst of this child's play he would suddenly cry out, "Now serve
the Lord with gladness."

Under Beer's guidance, the constitution of Chassidism remained
apparently in the same form as under his predecessor: fervent,
convulsive praying, inspiration (Hithlahabuth), miraculous cures,
and revelations of the future. But as these actions did not, as with
Israel, flow from a peculiar or abnormal state of mind, they could only
be imitated--artifice or illusion had to supply what nature withheld.
It was an accepted fact that the Chassidean leader, or Zaddik, the
perfectly pious man, had to be enthusiastic in prayer, had to have
ecstatic dreams and visions. How can a clever plotter appear inspired?
Alcohol, so much liked in Poland, now had to take the place of the
inspiring demon. Beer had not the knowledge of remedial herbs, which
his teacher had obtained in the Carpathian mountains. He, therefore,
devoted himself to medicine, and if his remedies did not avail, then
the sick person died of his sinfulness. To predict the future was a
more difficult task, yet it had to be accomplished; his reputation
as a thaumaturgist depended upon it. Beer was equal to the emergency.
Among his intimates were expert spies, worthy of serving in the secret
police. They discovered many secrets, and told them to their leader;
thus he was enabled to assume an appearance of omniscience. Or his
emissaries committed robberies; if the victims came to the "Saint" in
his hermitage to find them out, he was able to indicate the exact spot
where the missing articles were lying. If strangers, attracted by his
fame, came to see him, they were not admitted, as mentioned, until the
following Saturday, to take part in the Chassidean witches' Sabbath.
Meantime his spies, by artful questions and other means, gleaned a
knowledge of the affairs and secret desires of these strangers, and
communicated them to the Zaddik. In the first interview Beer, in a
seemingly casual manner, was able, in a skillfully arranged discourse,
to bring in allusions to these strangers, whereby they would be
convinced that he had looked into their hearts, and knew their past.
By these and similar contrivances, he succeeded in asserting himself
as omniscient, and increasing the number of his followers. Every new
convert testified to his Divine inspiration, and induced others to join.

In order to strengthen respect for him, Beer propounded a theory,
which in its logical application is calculated to promote most harmful
consequences. Supported by the Kabbalistic formula, that "the righteous
or the pious man is the foundation of the world," he magnified the
importance of the Zaddik, or the Chassidean chief, to such an extent
that it became blasphemy. "A Zaddik is not alone the most perfect and
sinless human being, he is not alone Moses, but the representative of
God and His image." All and everything that the Zaddik does and thinks
has a decided influence upon the upper and lower worlds. The Deity
reveals Himself especially in the acts of the Zaddik; even his most
trifling deeds are to be considered important. The way he wears his
clothes, ties his shoes, smokes his pipe, whether he delivers profound
addresses, or indulges in silly jokes--everything bears a close
relation to the Deity, and is of as much moment as the fulfillment of
a religious duty. Even when drawing inspiration from the bottle, he
is swaying the upper and nether worlds. All these absurd fancies owed
their origin to the superstitious doctrines of the Kabbala, which, in
spite of the unspeakable confusion they had wrought through Sabbataï
Zevi and Frank, in spite of the opposition which their chief exponent,
the Zohar, had encountered at about this time at the hands of Jacob
Emden, still clouded the brains of the Polish Jews. According to this
theory, the Zaddik, _i. e._, Berish Mizricz, was the embodiment of
power and splendor upon earth. In his "Stübel," or "Hermitage,"
_i. e._, in his dirty little retired chamber, he considered himself as
great as the papal vicar of God upon earth in his magnificent palace.
The Zaddik was also to bear himself proudly towards men; all this was
"for the glory of God." It was a sort of Catholicism within Judaism.

Beer's idea, however, was not meant to remain idle and unfruitful, but
to bring him honor and revenue. While the Zaddik cared for the conduct
of the world, for the obtaining of heavenly grace, and especially for
Israel's preservation and glorification, his adherents had to cultivate
three kinds of virtues. It was their duty to draw nigh to him, to enjoy
the sight of him, and from time to time to make pilgrimages to him.
Further, they were to confess their sins to him. By these means alone
could they hope for pardon of their iniquities. Finally, they had to
bring him presents, rich gifts, which he knew how to employ to the best
advantage. It was also incumbent upon them to attend to his personal
wants. It seems like a return to the days of the priests of Baal,
so vulgar and disgusting do these perversities appear. The saddest
part of all is that this teaching, worthy of a fetish worshiping
people, met with approbation in Poland, the country distinguished by
cumbersome knowledge of Jewish literature. It was just this excess,
this over-activity of the spiritual digestive apparatus, that produced
such lamentable phenomena. The intellect of the Polish Jews had been so
over-excited, that the coarsest things were more pleasing to them than
what was refined.

Beer despatched abroad as his apostles bombastic preachers who seasoned
his injurious teachings with distorted citations from the Scriptures.
Simple-minded men, rogues, and idlers, of whom there were so many
in Poland, attached themselves to the new Chassidim; the first from
inclination to enthusiasm and belief in miracles; the cunning, in order
to procure money in an easy way, and lead a pleasant existence; and the
idlers, because in the court of the Zaddik they found occupation, and
gratified their curiosity. If such idlers were asked what they were
thinking of, as they strolled about pipe in mouth, they would reply
with seriousness, "We are meditating upon God." The simple people,
however, who hoped to win bliss through the Chassidean discipline,
engaged continually in prayer, until through exhaustion they dropped

Neo-Chassidism was favored by two circumstances, the fraternization
of the members and the dryness and fossilized character of Talmudic
study as carried on in Poland for more than a century. At the outset
the Chassidim formed a kind of brotherhood, not indeed with a common
purse, as among their prototypes, the Essenes and the Judæo-Christians,
but having regard to the wants of needy members. Owing to the closeness
of their union, their spying system, and their energy, it was easy
for them to provide for those who lacked employment or food. On New
Year and the Day of Atonement people, even those who dwelt at long
distances, undertook pilgrimages to the Zaddik, as formerly to the
Temple, and left their wives and children to pass the so-called holy
days in the company of their chief, to be edified by his presence
and actions. Here the Chassidean disciples learned to know one
another, discussed local affairs, and rendered mutual help. Well-to-do
merchants found opportunity at these assemblies, in conversation
with fellow-believers, upon whose fidelity and brotherly attachment
they could rely, to discover fresh sources of income. Fathers of
marriageable daughters sought and easily found husbands for them,
which at that time in Poland was considered a highly important matter.
The common meals on the afternoons of Saturdays and the holidays
strengthened the bonds of loyalty and affection among them. How could
meals for so many guests be provided? The wealthy Chassidim regarded it
as a duty to support the Zaddik liberally. A special source of income
was the superstitious belief prevalent among the Chassidim that the
Zaddik for certain sums (Pidion, Redemption) could ward off threatening
perils and cure deadly diseases. Pressure was brought to bear upon
wealthy but weak-minded persons, and they were terrified into believing
that they could escape impending calamities only by rich gifts. Whoever
desired to enter upon a hazardous transaction consulted the Zaddik as
an oracle, and had to pay for his counsel. The cunning Chassidim knew
everything, were ready with counsel in any emergency, and by their
craftiness were able to afford real assistance. The Zaddik, however
miserly he might be, had to assist the poor and distressed with his
revenues. Thus every member received help here. Full of enthusiasm
they returned home from their journey; the feeling that they belonged
to a brotherhood elevated them, and they ardently looked forward to the
return of the holy time. The poor and forsaken, the fanatical and the
unprincipled, could not do better than join this union, this easy-going
yet religious order.

Earnest men, also, desirous of satisfying their spiritual wants, felt
themselves attracted to the Chassidim. Rabbinical Judaism, as known
in Poland, offered no sort of religious comfort. Its representatives
placed the highest value upon the dialectic, artificial exposition of
the Talmud and its commentaries. Actual necessity had besides caused
that portion of the Talmud which treated of civil law to be closely
studied, as the rabbis exercised civil jurisdiction over their flocks.
Fine-spun decisions of new, complicated legal points occupied the
doctors of the Talmud day and night. Moreover, this hair-splitting was
considered sublimest piety, and superseded everything else. If any
one solved an intricate Talmudic question, or discovered something
new, called Torah, he felt self-satisfied, and assured of his felicity
hereafter. All other objects, the impulse to devotion, prayer, and
emotion, or interest in the moral condition of the community, were
secondary matters, to which scarcely any attention was paid. The
mental exercise of making logical deductions from the Talmud, or
more correctly from the laws of Mine and Thine, choked all other
intellectual pursuits in Poland. Religious ceremonies had degenerated,
both amongst Talmudists and the unlearned, into meaningless usages,
and prayer into mere lip-service. To men of feeling this aridity of
Talmudic study, together with the love of debate, and the dogmatism and
pride of the rabbis arising from it, were repellent, and they flung
themselves into the arms of the new order, which allowed so much play
for the fancy and the emotions. Especially preachers, semi-Talmudists
who were looked upon and treated by erudite rabbi-Talmudists as
inferior and contemptible, who eked out a wretched living, or almost
starved, leagued themselves with the neo-Chassidim, because among
them their talents of preaching were appreciated, and they could
obtain an honorable position, and be secured against need. By the
accession of such elements the circle of neo-Chassidim became daily
augmented. Almost in every town lived followers of the new school, who
occasionally had intercourse with their brother-members and their chief.

With advancing strength the antipathy of the neo-Chassidim to the
rabbis and Talmudists increased. Without being aware of it they formed
a new sect, which scorned intercourse with the Talmud Jews. With Beer
at their head, they felt themselves strong enough to introduce an
innovation, which would naturally bring down the anger of the rabbis
upon them. Since prayer and the rites of Divine service were the chief
consideration for them, they did not trouble themselves about the
prescriptions of the ritual law as to how many prayers should be said,
nor at what time the different services should commence and terminate,
but were entirely guided by the feeling of the moment. Through their
daily ablutions, baths, and other preparations for public worship they
were seldom ready for prayer at the prescribed time, but began later,
prolonged it by the movements of their bodies and their intoning,
and suddenly came to an end after omitting several portions. They
were especially averse to the harsh interpolations in the Sabbath and
festival prayers (the Piyutim). These insertions interrupt the most
important and suggestive portions of the service. To abolish these at
a blow, Beer Mizricz introduced the prayer-book of the arch-Kabbalist,
Isaac Lurya, which for the greater part conforms to the Portuguese
ritual, and does not contain poetical (poetanic) additions. In the
eyes of the ultra-orthodox this innovation was an enormous, or rather
a double crime, permitting, as it did, the omission of interpolations
hallowed by custom, and the exchange of the German ritual for the

This innovation would probably have been severely visited upon the
neo-Chassidim, but that at this time, when the political power of
Poland lay crushed, the firm political connection of the Polish Jews
had also been dissolved. Poland was distracted by civil war. "In
this country," as the Primate of Gnesen complained at the opening of
the Reichstag, March, 1764, "freedom is oppressed, the laws are not
obeyed, justice cannot be obtained, trade is utterly ruined, districts
and villages are devastated, the treasury is empty, and the coin of
the realm has no value." It had been enfeebled by the Jesuits, and
was already regarded by Russia as a sure prey. Its king--Stanislaus
Augustus Poniatowski--was a weakling, the plaything of internal
factions and external foes (September, 1764). In the first year of his
reign, Poniatowski among other laws issued a regulation which destroyed
the communal union of the Polish Jews. The synod of the Four Countries,
composed of delegates, rabbis and laymen (Parnassim), with authority
to pronounce interdicts and levy fines, was not permitted to assemble,
pass resolutions, or execute them.

The dissolution of the synod was very fortunate for the neo-Chassidim.
They could not be excommunicated by the representatives of the Polish
Jewish world, but each individual congregation had to proceed against
them and forbid their meetings. Even this step was not taken at once,
as the terrible death-struggle in which Poland engaged before its first
partition was severely felt by the wealthy Jews, who trembled for their
lives. The Confederation War broke out, which made many districts
a desert; Poland was punished by eternal Justice in the same way as
it had sinned. In the name of the pope and the Jesuits it had always
persecuted dissenters, and excluded them from public offices, and, in
the name of the dissenters, Catherine plunged the land into fratricidal
war. The Russians, for the second time, let loose against Poland the
Zaporogian Cossacks--the savage Haidamaks--who inflicted death, by
every known method, upon the Polish nobles, the clergy, and the Jews.
The Haidamaks hung up together a nobleman, a Jew, a monk, and a dog,
with the mocking inscription, "All are equal." Most inhuman cruelties
were inflicted upon captives and the defenseless. In addition came the
Turks, who, in the guise of saviours of Poland, murdered and plundered
on every side. The Ukraine, Podolia, in general the southern provinces
of Poland, were turned into deserts.

These misfortunes were more advantageous than injurious to the
neo-Chassidim. They spread in the north, and whilst hitherto they had
been able to carry on their cult only in small, comparatively young
communities, from this time they gained ground in the large and old
congregations. Their numbers had already grown to such an extent that
they formed two branches--the Mizriczians and the Karlinians--the
former called after their original home, the latter after the village
of Karlin, near Pinsk. The Karlinians spread as far as Wilna and Brody.
At first they proceeded cautiously. As soon as at least ten persons had
assembled, they looked for a room (Stübel) in which to conduct their
services; there they practiced the rites of their creed, and sought to
gain new adherents; but all this was skillfully done, so that nothing
came to light before they had secured a firm foothold. In Lithuania
their system was not yet known, and thus at first they aroused no

The first violent attack upon them was made by a man whose influence
was blessed during his lifetime, and even after death, and who, in a
more favorable environment, might, like Mendelssohn, have effected
much for the moral advancement of his co-religionists. Elijah Wilna
(born 1720; died 1797), whose name, with the title of "Gaon," is
still mentioned by the Lithuanian Jews with reverence and love, was
a rare exception among the mass of the Polish Jews. He was of the
purest character, and possessed high talents, which he did not put
to perverted uses. It suffices to say of his character that in spite
of his comprehensive and profound Talmudical erudition, he refused
a post as rabbi, in contrast to most scholars in Poland, who were
office-seekers, and obtained rabbinates by artifice. In spite of the
marvelous fertility of his pen in many domains of Jewish literature,
he allowed nothing to be published during his lifetime, again in
contradistinction to contemporary students, who, in order to make a
name and to see their ideas in print, scarcely waited till the ink of
their compositions was dry. In his disinterestedness, Elijah Wilna
realized the ideal of the Talmud, that a teacher of Judaism "should
use the Law neither as a crown to adorn himself therewith, nor as a
spade to dig therewith." In spite of the superiority of his knowledge
and the full and general recognition accorded him, he modestly and
conscientiously avoided asserting himself. The gratification that
results from research, from the seeking of knowledge, completely
satisfied him. His intellectual method corresponded in its unaffected
simplicity with his character and life. As a matter of course, the
Talmud and all the branches connected with or dependent on it filled
his mind. But he disliked the corrupt method of his countrymen, who
indulged in hair-splitting, casuistry, and subtleties. His sole aim
was to penetrate to the simple sense of the text; he even made an
attempt at the critical examination and emendation of texts, and by his
undistorted explanations he blew down the houses of cards which the
subtle Talmudists had erected upon quicksand.

It required extraordinary mental force to swim against the high tide
of custom and rise above the aberrations into which all the sons of
the Talmud in Poland had fallen. In point of fact Elijah Wilna stood
isolated in his time. It seemed as though from his youth he had been
afraid of following the errors of his compatriots, for he attached
himself to no special school, but, strange to say, was his own teacher
in the Talmud. Talmudical studies did not exclusively occupy his mind.
Elijah Wilna devoted great attention to the Bible--a rarity in his
circle--and, what was still more unusual, he acquainted himself with
the grammar of the Hebrew language. Unlike his compatriots, he by no
means despised a knowledge of extra-Talmudic subjects, but studied
mathematics, and wrote a book upon geometry, algebra, and mathematical
astronomy. He exhorted his disciples and friends to interest themselves
in profane sciences, and openly expressed his conviction that Judaism
would be the gainer from such studies. Only his scrupulous piety, his
immaculate conduct, his unselfishness, and his renunciation of every
office and position of honor, saved him from the charge of heresy on
account of his pursuing extra-Talmudical branches of knowledge.

Elijah Wilna, above all, implanted a good spirit in the Lithuanian
Jews. He taught his sons and disciples to seek simplicity and avoid
the casuistry of the Polish method. In Elijah Wilna the beautiful
Talmudical saying was exemplified, "He who flees from honors is sought
out by them." At an early age he was recognized, even outside of
Poland, as an authority and a man of truth. Yet even Elijah was subject
to the delusion that the hateful Kabbala was a true daughter of
Judaism, and contained true elements. He deeply lamented the moral ruin
wrought by the Kabbala among Podolian and Galician Jews, through the
rascally Frank, who had driven them into the arms of the Church, and
made them enemies to the Synagogue; yet he could not free himself from
it. Even when the danger of these false doctrines was brought home to
him by the rise of the Chassidim, and he was compelled openly to oppose
them, he could not relinquish his blind fondness for the Kabbala.

The neo-Chassidim, or Karlinians, had crept into Wilna, and had
established a secret "Stübel" for their noisy conventicles. A trusty
friend of their leader, and an emissary sent by him, had stealthily
introduced their cult into the town, and won over several members of
the Wilna community. Their meetings, their proceedings, and their
derision of the Talmudists, were betrayed. The whole congregation
were greatly excited at this. They were indignant that the Karlinians
impudently asserted of the respected Elijah Wilna, that, like his
occupation and his belief, his life was a lie. The elders and rabbis
forthwith took counsel. The Chassidic conventicles were straightway
attacked, investigations set on foot, and trials instituted. Writings
were found among the Chassidim, which contained the principle that
all sadness was to be avoided, even in the repentance for sins. But
greatest uneasiness was aroused by the alterations in the liturgy
and the disrespectful utterances against the rabbis. Elijah Wilna,
who, although he filled no official position, was always invited to
the council meetings, and had an important voice in its decisions,
took a very serious view of the matter. He beheld in the Chassidic
aberration a continuation of Frank's excesses and corrupting influence.
The otherwise gentle and meek man became a veritable fanatic. The
rabbis and the chiefs of the community, together with Elijah Wilna,
addressed a letter to all the large communities, directing them
to keep a sharp eye upon the Chassidim, and to excommunicate them
until they abandoned their erroneous views. Several congregations
immediately obeyed this injunction. In Brody, during the fair, in the
presence of many strangers, the ban was published against all those
who prayed noisily, deviated from the German synagogue ritual, wore
white robes on Sabbath and the festivals, and were guilty of other
strange customs and innovations. Elijah Wilna's circle launched a
vigorous denunciatory pamphlet against the offenders. This was the
first blow that the Chassidim experienced. In addition, their leader,
Beer Mizricz, died in the same year (1772)--the rabbis imagined in
consequence of the excommunication--and thus they felt themselves
utterly deserted. Owing to the weakness of the king, and the greed
of the neighboring nations, the kingdom of Poland was dismembered.
Through this disorganization the union of the Chassidim was broken, and
the separated members became dependent upon the legislature, or the
arbitrary treatment, of various governments.

However, this storm did not crush them; they remained firm, and did
not display the slightest sign of submitting to their opponents
(Mithnagdim). On the contrary, the struggle made them more active and
energetic. They were not deeply moved by the ban under which they had
been placed; this weapon, blunted since the contest for and against
Jonathan Eibeschütz, could no longer inflict wounds. The Chassidim,
grown to the number of fifty or sixty thousand, formed themselves
into small groups, each with a leader, called Rebbe. Their itinerant
preachers encouraged the individual communities to persevere in their
tenets, and to accept persecution as a salutary trial. The connection
of the groups with one another was maintained in this way; a chief
from the family of Beer Mizricz was placed at the head as the supreme
Zaddik, to whom the various Rebbe were subordinate, and for whose use
they were to set aside a portion of their income. The possible apostasy
of members through the onslaughts from Wilna was met by the order that
the Chassidim might read no work that had not received the approval of
the Chassidic authorities. Obedience towards their leaders had taken so
deep a root in the minds of the Chassidim that they never transgressed
this prohibition. Their chiefs distributed among them the sermons
or collections of sayings supposed to have been written by Israel
Baalshem, or Beer Mizricz, which emphasized the high importance of the
Zaddik, of the Chassidic life, and of scorn for the Talmudists--vile
writings, which were nevertheless read with admiration by the members,
who were kept in a constant state of intoxication. What had hitherto
been optional and individual was raised by these writings to the rank
of statutes and stringent laws.

After Beer's death, two men chiefly contributed to the exaltation of
Chassidism, one through his unbounded enthusiasm, the other by his
scholarship. These men, neither of whom is open to suspicion, were
Israel of Kozieniza (north of Radom) and Salman of Liadi, both Beer's

So strong did the Chassidim again become, that a second interdict
had to be fulminated against them. This time also the persecution
originated in Wilna, and was instigated by Elijah Wilna. The Chassidim
were declared to be heretics, with whom no pious Jew might intermarry
(summer of 1781). Two messengers were sent from Wilna to the Lithuanian
congregations to induce them to support the ban. In consequence of
this, the collections of Chassidic sermons and other writings, although
they contained sentences from Holy Writ, were publicly burnt in Brody
and Cracow. In Selvia, near Slonim, during the fair, in the presence
of large numbers of Jews, the ban was publicly promulgated against the
Chassidim and their writings (August 21, 1781); but these obsolete
methods were of little use. In the Austrian Polish provinces (Galicia)
other means were employed by the disciples of the Mendelssohn school
against the stultifying system of the Chassidim. The decree of Joseph
II, that schools for instruction in German and elementary subjects be
established in all Jewish communities, encountered vigorous resistance
from all Jews, but especially from Chassidim. In the belief that
culture would improve the demoralized and barbarous state of the
people, a small body of men, Mendelssohn's admirers, strove zealously
to oppose them. Among the most ardent workers for the enlightenment
of the Galician Jews was Alexander Kaller. Kaller and his associates
probably obtained a decree from the court at Vienna, commanding that
no Chassidic or Kabbalistic writings be admitted into Galicia (1785).
After the second partition of Poland, denunciations were also leveled
against the Chassidim in Russian Poland as dangerous to the state.
Salman of Liadi was dragged in chains to St. Petersburg. Elijah Wilna
is said to have been the instigator of this charge, too; indeed, he
persecuted the sect as long as he lived. After his death the Chassidim
took vengeance upon him by dancing upon his grave, and celebrating
the day of his decease as a holiday, with shouting and drunkenness.
All efforts made to suppress the Chassidim were in vain, because
in a measure they represented a just principle, that of opposing
the excesses of Talmudism. Before the end of the eighteenth century
they had increased to 100,000 souls. At the present day they rule
in congregations where they were formerly persecuted, and they are
spreading on all sides.



  The Progressionists--The Gatherer (Meassef)--David Mendes--
    Moses Ensheim--Wessely's Mosaid--Marcus Herz--Solomon
    Maimon--Culture of the Berlin Jews--Influence of French
    Literature--First Step for Raising the Jews--The Progressive
    and Orthodox Parties--The Society of Friends--Friedländer
    and Conversion--Depravity of Berlin Jewesses--Henrietta Herz
    --Humboldt--Dorothea Mendelssohn--Schlegel--Rachel--

1786-1791 C. E.

The state of the German Jews, among whom the battle against unreason
began, was more satisfactory than that of the Polish Jews. In Germany
youthful activity and energy asserted themselves, an impulse to
action that promised to repair in a short space of time the neglect
of centuries. Great enthusiasm suddenly sprang up, which produced
wonderful, or at least surprising, results, and overcame the benumbing
effects of apathy. Young men tore the scepter from the grasp of the
aged, and desired to preach new wisdom, or rather to rejuvenate the
old organism of Judaism with new sap. The synagogue might well have
exclaimed, "Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children,
and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath
brought up these?" A new spirit had come upon these youths, which,
in one night, put an end to their isolation, and transformed them
into organs for historical reconstruction. As if by agreement they
suddenly closed the ponderous folios of the Talmud, turned away from
it, and devoted themselves to the Bible, the eternal fount of youth.
Mendelssohn's Pentateuch translation poured out a new spirit over them,
furnished them with a new language, and infused new poetry into them.
Whence this body of spirited young men? What had hitherto been their
course of education? Why were they so powerfully influenced? Suddenly
they made their appearance, prophesied a new future, without knowing
exactly what they prophesied, and, scarce fledged, soared aloft. From
Poland to Alsace, from Italy to Amsterdam, London, and Copenhagen, new
voices were heard, singing in harmonious union. Their significance
lay wholly in their harmony; singly, the voices appear thin, piping,
and untrained; only when united do they give forth a pleasant and
impressive tone. Those who had but recently learnt to appreciate the
beauties of Hebrew, came forward as teachers, to re-establish in its
purity a language, so greatly disfigured, so generally used, and so
continually abused. Inspired by ideals which the sage of Berlin had
conjured up, they desired to pave the way to a thorough understanding
of Holy Writ, to acquire a taste for poetry, and awaken zeal for
science. Carried away by ardor, they ignored the difficulties in the
way of a people, internally and externally enslaved, which seeks to
raise itself to the heights of poetry and philosophy, and therefore
they succeeded in accomplishing the revival. On the whole they achieved
more than Mendelssohn, their admired prototype, because the latter was
too cautious to take a step that might have an untoward result. But
these youths pressed boldly forward, for they had no reputation to
lose, and represented no interests that could be compromised.

This result was produced by a material and an ideal circumstance.
Frederick's eagerness for money, his desire to enrich the land, almost
compelled the Jews, especially those of Berlin, to accumulate capital.
Owing to their manufactories, speculations, and enormous enterprises
on the one hand, and their moderate manner of living on the other,
the first Jewish millionaires arose in Berlin, and by their side many
houses in affluent circumstances. But what could be done with these
riches? To the nobility and the court, Jews were not admitted; the
Philistine burghers closed their doors against these Jewish upstarts,
whom they regarded with envy. There thus remained for wealthy Jews only
literary intercourse, for which they have always had a preference. All
or the majority had in their youth made the acquaintance of the Talmud,
and were intimate with the world of books. This circumstance gave their
efforts an ideal character: they did not worship Mammon alone; reading
in their leisure hours was a necessity to them. As soon as German
literature had been naturalized in their midst through Mendelssohn,
they included it in their circle of studies, either with the serious
object of cultivating themselves or to be in accord with fashion. In
this matter they excelled the Christian citizens, who as a rule did not
care for books. Jewish merchants, manufacturers, and bankers interested
themselves in literary productions, as if they belonged to a guild
of learned men, using for them the time that Christian citizens and
workmen passed in drinking.

The first movement was made in Königsberg, a kind of colony to Berlin.
In this town certain men had acquired wealth by their industry and
circumspection, and shared in the culture dawning in Germany under
the influence of French literature. Three brothers named Friedländer
(Bärmann, Meyer, and Wolf) were the leaders. To this family belonged
David Friedländer (born 1750, died 1834), a servile imitator of
Mendelssohn, who by means of his connection by marriage with the
banking-house of Daniel Itzig, obtained influence in Berlin (since
1771), and brought about close intercourse between Berlin and
Königsberg. He also took part in the promotion of the revival among
Jews. It was an event in the history of the Königsberg Jews, when
Mendelssohn stayed there for several days while on a business journey.
He was visited by distinguished persons, professors and authors, and
was treated with extraordinary attention. Immanuel Kant, the profound
thinker, publicly embraced him. This trifling occurrence gave to the
cultured Jews of Königsberg a sort of consciousness that the Jew can by
self-respect command the regard of the ruling classes. Moreover, the
Königsberg University, at the instigation of certain liberal-minded
teachers, especially Kant, admitted Jewish youths thirsting for
knowledge as students and academical citizens. Among these young men,
trained partly on Talmudical, partly on academical lines, there were
two who awakened a new spirit, or rather, continued the quiet activity
of Mendelssohn with greater effect. These were Isaac Abraham Euchel and
Mendel Bresselau, both tutors employed by the wealthy, culture-loving
Friedländers. Isaac Euchel, through Mendelssohn and Wessely, had
acquired a dignified, correct Hebrew style contrasting most favorably
with the corrupt language hitherto employed. His younger companion,
Mendel Bresselau, who afterwards took part in the great contest against
the old school, was of more importance. He was truly an artist in
the Hebrew tongue, and without elaboration or ambiguity he applied
biblical phraseology to modern conditions and circumstances. He took
as his model the poet Moses Chayim Luzzatto, and like him composed
a moral drama, entitled "Youth." Supported by two young members of
the wealthy Friedländer family, Euchel and Bresselau, during the
lifetime of Mendelssohn, and at the time of Wessely's conflict with
the ultra-orthodox (spring, 1783), issued a summons to the whole
Jewish world to establish a society for the promotion of the Hebrew
language (Chebrath Dorshe Leshon Eber), and to found a journal to be
called "The Gatherer" (Meassef). They had reckoned upon the support of
Wessely, already recognized as an authority upon style, and had asked
contributions from him, who, as they expressed themselves, "had taken
down the harps from the willows of Babylon, and had drawn forth new
songs from them." The aged poet gladly joined the young men, but, as if
he had had a foreboding of the ultimate result, he warned them against
turning their darts against Judaism, and in general against employing
satire. Their summons found widespread response. They had chosen the
right means to advance culture, and they satisfied a real want. The
Hebrew language in its purity and chastity could alone accomplish the
union between Judaism and the culture of the day.

"The Gatherer" found most encouragement in Berlin, the capital of
Jewish culture. Here numerous literary contributions and material
support were forthcoming. In this city lived a number of youths
moved by the same aspirations as Euchel and Bresselau, who fostered
enthusiasm for the Hebrew language, and renewed its youth. Not
too proud to enter into rivalry with beginners, Mendelssohn also
contributed a few Hebrew poems anonymously. It is characteristic of
the newly-aroused spirit, that the fine introductory Hebrew verses
in the periodical are represented as being written by a young child
who modestly begs admittance, as if henceforth, not the grey-headed
Eliphaz, but the youthful Elihu was to be spokesman, and lay down
the law. Fresh names appeared in the newly-established organ, and
their owners, under the collective name of Measfim, contributors to
"The Gatherer" (Meassef, first published in the autumn of 1783),
mark a definite tendency, a _Sturm und Drang_ period of neo-Hebraic
literature. Another pair of friends of Euchel and Bresselau afterwards
undertook the editorship; these were Joel Löwe and Aaron Halle, or
Wolfssohn--the one an earnest inquirer, the other a bold iconoclast,
who first verified Wessely's fears, and, in a dialogue between Moses
Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn, subjected unprogressive Judaism to
scathing criticism.

Two Poles residing in Berlin, Isaac Satanow and Ben-Zeeb, most
accomplished masters of Hebrew style, also belonged to the Measfim,
but their studies in German culture had an injurious effect upon their
moral character. Besides, the small number of contributors to the
"Gatherer" was swelled by Wolf Heidenheim, a strange man, who equally
abhorred the crudeness and folly of the old system, and the frivolity
and sophistry of the new, and banished his ill-humor by pedantically
exact grammatical and Masoretic studies on the lines of the old
masters. By his carefully arranged editions of old writings, if he did
not destroy, he at least curbed, the old habits of slovenliness and

The cultivators of Hebrew stretched out friendly hands to each other
across widely-sundered districts, and formed a kind of brotherhood
which spread to Holland, France, and Italy. David Friedrichsfeld was
also an enthusiast for the Hebrew language and biblical literature. He
possessed such delicate appreciation of the beauties of the language,
that an ill-chosen Hebrew word caused him pain. He constantly insisted
upon pure forms and expressions, and was a cultivated and severe judge.
In his youth, Friedrichsfeld had chosen the better fate, by turning
his back upon Prussia, so cruel to the Jews, and emigrating to the
free city of Amsterdam. He heartily welcomed, with youthful ardor,
the plan for the study of Hebrew, and lived to enjoy the good fortune
of celebrating in Hebrew verse the complete emancipation of the Jews
in Holland. At his proposition, the Jewish poets in Holland joined
the ranks of the Measfim. The most renowned was David Franco Mendes
in Amsterdam (born 1713; died 1792). He was descended from a Marrano
family, was a disciple of the poet Luzzatto when the latter lived in
Amsterdam, and took him as a pattern. A series of occasional poems, in
the form of the Judæo-Spanish poetry of the seventeenth century, had
gained him a name which was increased by his Hebrew historical drama,
"The Punishment of Athalia" (Gemul Athalia). It distressed Franco
Mendes to see how the Jews turned away from Hebrew to the fashionable
French literature, because the latter produced beautiful, artistic
works, whilst the Hebrew language seemed smitten with sterility.
This disgrace Mendes desired to blot out, and, following in the wake
of Racine and Metastasio, he undertook to dramatize the interesting
history of the royal boy Joash who, to be protected from murderous
hands, was brought up secretly in the Temple, and of the downfall of
the bloodthirsty queen Athalia.

In France the Hebrew literature of the Measfim was represented by
Moses Ensheim (Einsheim), or Moses Metz, who for several years was
private tutor to Mendelssohn's children. He was a mathematician of
great repute, whose work has been praised by qualified authorities of
the first rank. Thus he wrote a work upon Integral and Differential
Calculus, which won the applause of Lagrange and Laplace. But he never
published any of his writings. He only gave voice to triumphal songs
in Hebrew upon the victory of freedom over slavery in France, and some
of these were sung in the synagogues. Ensheim influenced an advocate
(Grégoire) of the liberation of his co-religionists in France, and
provided him with material wherewith to defend them. Ensheim formed
a contrast to an older teacher in Mendelssohn's house, Herz Homberg,
a great favorite with Mendelssohn. The latter was deceived in him,
and trusted in him too far when he invited his co-operation in the
Pentateuch translation. Homberg was of a prosaic nature, actuated
wholly by selfish motives, and was somewhat of a place-hunter. Through
Homberg, during his stay in Görz, and Elijah Morpurgo, who corresponded
with Mendelssohn and Wessely, the educational influence of the Measfim
penetrated to Italy; and the younger generation, which afterwards
united with the French Jews, drew inspiration from that source.

In this manner, the Hebrew language and neo-Hebraic poetry became a
bond of union for the Jews of Western Europe, to some extent embracing
also the Jews of Poland, and led the way to an astonishingly swift and
enduring revival. The Hebrew tongue was known to almost all Jews, with
the exception of a few ignorant villagers, and afforded an excellent
medium for propagating European culture. Thousands of youths who
studied the Talmud in various colleges, gradually, for the greater part
secretly, took an active share in the movement, and drank deep draughts
from the stream of innovation. Thus, with the expected deliverance
from political oppression, which had already been realized in various
places, there arose a peculiar excitement and confusion. The old
and the new mingled, forming a kind of a spiritual hotch-potch. The
question was raised whether or not, beside the Talmud, it was allowed
to engage in biblical studies and profane literature, to cultivate
philosophy, and in general to study the sciences (Chochmoth). The
great rabbis, Ezekiel Landau, Raphael Cohen, and others, condemned
such studies, whilst Mendelssohn and Wessely, blamelessly pious men,
not only permitted, but even recommended them for the elevation of
Judaism. Of the old and respected authorities, some permitted them and
even occupied themselves therewith, whilst others prohibited and held
aloof from them, as from some seductive sin. These important questions
presented themselves to thinking Jewish young men, and gave rise to
much disquietude. For the greater number the charm of novelty, the
attractive language of the representatives of the new tendency, or the
inclination to cast off burdensome ritual fetters decided the question.
The number of those interested in the periodical, "The Gatherer,"
increased from year to year. The death of Mendelssohn also exerted a
decided influence. His pupils--as such, all the Measfim regarded
themselves--deified him, glorified him in bright colors, idealized
him and his eventful history in prose and verse, pointed him out as
an ideal worthy of imitation, and turned his renown to advantage in
their cause. They went a step further, or widened the extent of their
activity, aiming not merely at ennobling the Hebrew language, but at
refinement in general. They called themselves "The Society for the Good
and the Noble" (from 1787), without being able to define their purpose.
The all-powerful stream of innovation could not be stemmed by the
adherents of the old school. Unskillfully they attempted to vindicate
the old system, exaggerating the dangers, and thereby losing all

Thus in almost every large community, there arose a party of the
"Enlightened" or "the Left," which had not yet broken with the old
school, but whose action bordered upon secession. By the ultra-orthodox
they were denounced as heretics, on account of their preference for
pure language and form, both in Hebrew and European literature. This
abusive name hurt them but little, and rather afforded them a certain
amount of satisfaction. The outcome of the work of the Measfim was that
they stirred men's minds, extending their range of observation, and
leading them to ennobling thoughts and acts; but these writers did not
leave any permanent results. Not a single production of the circle
has enduring value. Their best performance was Wessely's swan-song,
which possesses literary, if not artistic worth. Roused perhaps by the
astonishment of Herder, the admirer of ancient Hebrew poetry, that no
poet had celebrated the miracles of the departure from Egypt--whose
center was the sublime prophet Moses--Wessely determined to compose a
neo-Hebraic epic. Animated by the spirit of the prophets, there poured
from his pen smooth, well-rounded, euphonious verses, which unroll
before the eye the grand events that occurred from the cruel bondage in
Egypt till the miraculous passage of the Red Sea and the wanderings in
the wilderness. "Songs of Glory" Wessely called his Hebrew heroic poem,
his Mosaid. In fact his verses and strophes are beautifully arranged
and perfect in form. It is the best work that the school of the Measfim
produced. Wessely's epic was so much admired that two Christian poets,
Hufnagel and Spalding, rendered the first two cantos into German. The
Mosaid is, however, by no means a masterpiece; it lacks the breath of
true poetry, fancy and loftiness of conception. It is merely a history
of the origin of the Israelites transcribed into verse, or, more
correctly, a versified commentary on the Pentateuch. This criticism
holds of the school as a whole; its disciples were good neo-Hebraic
stylists, but as poets their ability was not even mediocre.

The appearance of the "Gatherer" aroused attention in Christian
circles. The old assailant of the Jews, Michaelis, could not remain
silent. Others greeted it as the dawn promising a fair day; it was
in fact daybreak for the Jewish race. What is the distinction of a
cultured people? Next to gentle manners, it consists in taste for
harmonious forms and in the power to produce artistic creations.
This taste and power, lost through external oppression and internal
disorganization, were re-awakened among the Jews by the organ of
the Measfim. To elevate the Jewish race to the rank of the cultured
nations, nothing new was required; it was merely necessary that a
comprehension of the beauties and sublimities of their own literature
be inculcated.

In this period, the Jews owned profound philosophical thinkers, if
not of the first, certainly of the second rank, who in acuteness of
intellect almost surpassed Mendelssohn. Three are especially to be
mentioned, who, though trained in the Mendelssohnian system, soon
recognized its weaknesses, and directed their minds to new paths: these
were Marcus Herz, Solomon Maimon, and Ben-David. The events of their
lives picture on a small scale how the Jewish race as a whole worked
its way from degradation and ignorance to freedom and enlightenment.
Marcus (Mordecai) Herz (born in Berlin, 1747, where he died 1803) was
the son of poor parents, and his father, like Mendelssohn's, supported
himself and his family by copying Hebrew manuscripts. He received his
Talmudical education in the school founded by Ephraim Veitel. Owing to
poverty he was unable in spite of his talents to continue his studies,
but at fifteen years of age was compelled to go to Königsberg as an
apprentice. The desire for knowledge soon withdrew him from business
and led him to the University, as the Albertina at that time admitted
Jewish youths to the medical department. Philosophy, however, exerted
greater attraction upon him. Herz was regarded as being gifted with the
"keen mind peculiar to the Jewish nation." Kant, then at work upon his
monumental system, saw Herz in his audience as often as the medical
professors saw him in theirs. He distinguished him, drew him into the
circle of his intimates, and treated him as his favorite disciple. When
entering upon his professorship, according to an absurd and antiquated
custom Kant had to argue in public upon a philosophical subject, and
found no one better fitted than Herz to act as his assistant. Several
University representatives objected that a Jewish student, however
talented and superior to his Christian companions, should be allowed
equal privileges with them. Kant, however, insisted upon his demand.
Pressed by pecuniary difficulties, and because a Jew could not receive
the degree at the Königsberg University, Herz returned to his native
town and joined Mendelssohn's circle. He was, however, an advocate
of the Kantian philosophy. He became at the same time a skilled
physician, and practiced his art with conscientiousness and zeal. By
his marriage with Henrietta de Lemos, he secured a large practice
and numerous acquaintances as assistant-physician to his Portuguese
father-in-law; and through his incisive wit and versatile knowledge he
became a noted personage in the Prussian capital. When he delivered
philosophical lectures upon the Kantian philosophy, still new and but
little understood, many distinguished men were among his auditors. Had
not progress been great, if notabilities sat at the feet of a Jew to
hear his instruction upon the highest truths, whilst men like Michaelis
roundly denied all possibility of culture in the Jews? Herz afterwards
delivered discourses upon physics, and illustrated the marvellous laws
of nature by experimental demonstration. These lectures were still
more crowded; even the Crown Prince (afterwards King Frederick William
III) and other princes did not disdain to enter the house of a Jew and
be taught by him. His philosophical lucidity, acquired from Kant and
Mendelssohn, contributed towards rendering his lectures upon medicine,
as well as upon other subjects, enjoyable and appreciated. Herz was
not, however, an independent thinker, able to illumine the dark ways
of human knowledge by brilliant ideas; but he succeeded in explaining
the profound thoughts of others and in making them intelligible to the
average mind. Through his personality and his social position, Herz
deeply influenced not alone the culture of Berlin Jews, but also of
Christian circles.

Of the remarkable capacity of Jews for culture, Solomon Maimon was a
still more striking example. This Pole, whose real name was Solomon
of Lithuania, or of Nieszwiez (born about 1753, died 1800), rose
from the thickest cloud of Polish ignorance to pure philosophical
knowledge, attaining this height by his unaided efforts, but owing to
his scepticism, he fell a prey to shocking errors. The story of his
life is full of travel and restlessness, and is a good example of the
versatility of Jews.

As in the case of Mendelssohn, Maimuni's philosophical religious
work, "The Guide of the Perplexed" (More Nebuchim), was the cause of
Solomon's intellectual awakening. He read the book until it became part
of him, consequently assumed the name of Maimon, swore by the name of
the Jewish sage whenever evil desire prompted him to sin, and conquered
by its aid. But whereas Mendelssohn reached the right way through
Maimuni, Solomon Maimon was led into error, doubt, and unbelief, and to
the end of his life lived an aimless existence. In despair he snatched
at the Kabbala, wishing to become a Jewish Faust, to conjure up spirits
who would obtain deep wisdom for him; he also made a pilgrimage to the
leader of the Chassidim, Beer of Mizricz. But the deception practiced
disgusted him, and he quickly turned away from him. But what was
he, with his spirit of scepticism, to do in a narrow world of rigid
orthodoxy? Continually play the hypocrite? Rumor had carried a report
to Poland, that in certain towns of Germany a freer religious system
prevailed, and that more scope for philosophical inquiry was given. At
this period a Pole felt no scruples in forsaking wife, children, and
home, and wandering abroad. It cost Maimon the less effort, seeing that
his wife had been thrust upon him when he was a child, and it was to
his vexation that children were born to him. To appease his conscience
he deceived himself by the pretext that he would study medicine in
Germany, and be enabled to maintain himself and his family.

Thus Maimon left Lithuania (spring, 1777), at the age of twenty-five,
"with a heavy, dirty beard, in torn, filthy clothes, his language a
jargon composed of fragments of Hebrew, Judæo-German, and Polish,
together with grammatical errors," as he himself says, and in this
guise he introduced himself to some educated Jews in Königsberg, saying
that he desired to devote himself to science. In this ragged Pole was
a brain full of profound thoughts, which, as he grew older, developed
into maturity. His journey from Königsberg to Berlin by way of Stettin
was a succession of pitiful troubles. In Berlin the authorities refused
to grant him residence. Those Poles who had severed themselves from the
Talmud, and devoted themselves to science, lived in the odor of the
worst heresy, and often gave occasion to suspicion. Maimon was sincere
enough to admit the justice of this opinion. A moral life, activity
of any kind, participation in the work of mankind, utilization of
talent in the conquest of nature, man's liberation from the shackles
of self-interest, the awakening of his moral impulse to act for the
welfare of his brethren, the realization of the heavenly kingdom of
justice and beneficent love--of all these ideals Maimon had no
appreciation. These were indifferent matters, with which a thinker
need not trouble himself. In this unsound state of mind he shunned
all active work; to meditate idly and draw up formulas were his chief
occupations. He attained no fixed goal in life, but staggered from
folly to folly, from misery to misery.

To the general public he was first known through his "Autobiography,"
wherein he revealed the weak points of the Polish Jews, to him the
only representatives of Judaism, as well as his own, with unsparing,
cynical severity, as some years previously Rousseau had done in
his "Confessions." He thereby performed an evil service for his
co-religionists. His opinions concerning his brethren, originating
in ill-humor, were accepted to their detriment as universal
characteristics; and what he depicted as hateful in the Polish Jews was
attributed to all Jews.

This kind of confession was considered extraordinary, and aroused
great attention, in stiff, pedantic Germany. The "Autobiography" found
its way into numerous circles, and gained many readers. The two great
German poets, Schiller and Goethe, were absurdly fond of the cynical
philosopher; and Goethe expressed the wish to have him live near him.
His fame made Maimon neither better nor happier, and he did honor
to the Jewish race only with his mental powers; in his actions he
altogether dishonored it.

The third Jewish thinker of this time, Lazarus Ben-David (born in
Berlin 1762; died there 1832), had neither the tragic nor the comic
history of Maimon. He was a prosaic, pedantic personality, who in any
German university could have filled the chair of logic and mathematics,
and year after year given the same instruction unabridged and
unincreased. For the philosophy of Kant, however, Ben-David possessed
ardor and enthusiastic devotion, because he recognized it as the truth,
and faithfully conformed to its moral principles. This philosophy was
well suited to Jews, because it demanded high power of thought and
moral action. For this reason Kant, like Aristotle in former days, had
many Jewish admirers and disciples. Ben-David was also learned in the
Talmud, and a good mathematician. It was perhaps a mistake on his part
to go to Vienna to lecture upon the Kantian philosophy. At first the
University permitted his discourses in its halls,--a Jew lecturing on
a philosophy which denied the right of Catholicism to exist! He soon
however had to discontinue them; but Count Harrach offered him his
palace as a lecture-room. Meeting with obstacles here, too, he left the
imperial city, continued his discourses in Berlin, and for some time
acted as editor of a journal. Ben-David produced but little impression
upon the course of Jewish history.

The German Jews, however, under Mendelssohn's inspiration, not only
elevated themselves with great rapidity to the height of culture, but
unmistakably promoted the spread of culture in Christian circles.
Intellectual Jews and Jewesses created in Berlin that cultured public
tone which has become the distinction of this capital, and has
influenced the whole of Germany. Jews and Jewesses were the first to
found a salon for intellectual intercourse, in which the elements of
elevated thought, taste, poetry, and criticism mingled together in a
graceful, light way, and were discussed, and made accessible to men
of different vocations. The Christian populace of Berlin at the time
of Frederick the Great and his successor greatly resembled that of a
petty town. The nobility and high dignitaries were too aristocratic
and uneducated to trouble themselves about intellectual and social
affairs and the outside world. For them the court and the petty events
of everyday life were the world. The learned formed an exclusive
guild, and there was no high or wealthy class of burghers. The middle
classes followed the narrow path of their old-fashioned German fathers;
met, if at all, over the beer-jug, and were continually engaged in
repeating stories of "old Fritz's victories." Particularly, the women
lived modestly within their four walls, or occupied themselves wholly
with the concerns of their family circles. With the Jews of Berlin
it was entirely different. All, or most of them, had been more or
less engaged with the Talmud in their youth; their mental powers were
acute, and susceptible to fresh influences. These new elements of
culture Mendelssohn gave them through his Bible translation, and his
philosophical and æsthetic writings. In Jewish circles, knowledge
procured more distinction than riches; the ignorant man, however
wealthy, was held up as a butt for contempt. Every Jew, whatever his
means, prided himself on possessing a collection of old and new books,
and, when possible, sought to know their contents, so that he might
not be wanting in conversation. Every well-informed Jew lived in two
worlds, that of business, and that of books. In consequence of the
impulse given by Mendelssohn, the younger generation occupied itself
with _belles-lettres_, language, and philosophy. The subjects of
study had changed, but the yearning for knowledge remained, or became
still stronger. Amongst the Jews of Berlin, shortly after the death
of Mendelssohn, were more than a hundred young men burning with zeal
for knowledge and culture, from whose midst the contributors to the
periodical "Ha-Meassef" were supplied.

To this honest inclination for study, there was added a fashionable
folly. Through Frederick the Great, French literature became
acclimatized in Prussia, and Jews were especially attracted by the
sparkling intellectuality of French wit. Voltaire had more admirers
in the tents of Jacob than in German houses. Jewish youths ravenously
flung themselves upon French literature, and acquired its forms;
French frivolity naturally made its entry at the same time. The
clever daughters of Israel also ardently devoted themselves to this
fashionable folly; they learned French, at first, to be sure, for the
purpose of conversing in the fashionable language with the youthful
cavaliers who borrowed money from their fathers. It was one more
ornament with which to deck themselves. Through the influence of
Mendelssohn and Lessing, such trifling gave way to earnest endeavors
for the acquisition of solid knowledge, in order that they might occupy
an equally exalted footing with the men. Mendelssohn's daughters, who
were continually in the society of cultivated men, led the way, and
stirred up emulation. In no town of Germany were there so many cultured
Jewish women as in Berlin, for they learned easily, were industrious,
and altogether superior to their Christian sisters in knowledge of

Mendelssohn's house became the center for scientific and literary
intercourse, and was the more frequented as his friends might expect
to meet distinguished strangers there who were attracted by his
wide-spread renown, and from whom something new might be learned. His
daughters were admitted to this witty and charming society, to which
they also introduced their young companions. After Mendelssohn's death
David Friedländer and Marcus Herz took his place. Friedländer was,
however, too stiff and plain to exercise attraction. Thus Herz's house
became headquarters for Mendelssohn's friends, who became the nucleus
of a large circle. Herz was a popular physician, and had numerous
acquaintances among distinguished Jewish and Christian families.
His lectures attracted people of every rank to his house, and those
eager for knowledge were admitted into the intimacy of the family
circle. Herz was gifted with caustic wit, with which he seasoned the
conversation. But more powerful than his science and his genius was the
influence of his wife. Hers was a magic circle, into which every native
or foreign personage of importance in Berlin was magnetically drawn.
Intercourse with the beautiful and gifted Jewess Henrietta Herz was,
next to the court circle, the most sought after in Berlin. Had she not
been misled by seductive influences, she might have been a source of
rich blessings to Judaism.

This beautiful woman, then, made her house the gathering-place of
the select society of Berlin, and illustrious strangers pressed for
the honor of an introduction to her. Here the Christian friends of
Mendelssohn, already accustomed to intercourse with Jews, mingled
freely with cultured Jews, but also new men, who filled high positions,
and diplomatists were to be met there. Mirabeau, in whose mind the
storm-charged clouds of the Revolution were already forming, and to
whom the Jews owed so much, during his secret diplomatic embassy (1786)
to Berlin was more in the society of Henrietta Herz than in that of her
husband. Gradually ladies of high degree and education also entered
into relations with Madame Herz and her friends, attracted by the charm
of refined, social communion. But her salon exercised most powerful
attraction upon cultured Christian youths, by reason of its beautiful
Jewish damsels and ladies, the satellites of the fair hostess. These
Jewish beauties, however, did not merely form the ornament of the
salon, but took an active part in the intellectual entertainment, and
distinguished themselves by their originality. Gentz called them "the
clever women of Jewry." Among them were two who shone by superior
intellectual qualities, and combined modern culture with Jewish
keenness of mind and wit: Mendelssohn's eldest daughter Dorothea, and
Rachel Levin, afterwards the wife of Varnhagen von Ense. Both possessed
eminent talents, in addition to which Rachel Levin had an inflexible
love for truth, united with gentleness and amiability.

Almost at the same time a brilliant salon, where authors, artists,
nobles, and diplomatists, native and foreign, came together, was opened
in Vienna, by a Berlin Jewess, Fanny Itzig, daughter of the banker
Daniel Itzig. She was witty, amiable and noble, and was married to
Nathan Adam von Arnstein, who had been made a baron. Like her friends
in Berlin she brought about the social intermingling of Jews with
Christians in Vienna. These Jewish coteries most triumphantly refuted
the foolish remark of the insolent scholar of Göttingen, "that gypsies
would sooner undergo the transformation into a people than Jews." The
prejudice of a thousand years was blown away with one breath more
effectually than by a hundred learned or eloquent disquisitions.

The social equalization of the Jews in cultivated circles of Prussia
caused them to hope, if not for complete civil rights, at least for a
lightening of the oppressive taxes and the humiliations imposed upon
them. Between the social position of cultured Jews and their legal
standing there was a deep chasm. In the burgher classes, the Jews of
Berlin were the first millionaires--no indifferent matter considering
the important place held by money at that time--yet, according to
the law, they were treated like peddlers. Humane treatment could not
be expected from the philosophical king. Dohm's apology for the Jews
did not exist for him. Hope was aroused among the Berlin Jews on the
accession of Frederick William II, who was of a weak but kindly nature.
Urged on by David Friedländer, who, the successor of Mendelssohn, was
at the same time considered the representative of Jewish interests, the
chiefs and elders of the Berlin community presented a petition for the
abolition of the Jewish poll-tax, the repeal of barbarous laws against
the Jews, and the concession of freedom of movement. They received
a favorable reply, directing them to "choose honest men from their
midst," with whom the government might negotiate. Their proposal to
select delegates from amongst the Jews in the provinces was assented
to, and a commission was established to investigate the complaints
of the Prussian Jews and make suggestions for improvement. As general
deputies of the Jews there were selected Friedländer and his rich
father-in-law, Daniel Itzig, who, with great independence and courage,
laid bare the barbarous and venal legislation of Frederick the Great in
reference to the Jews.

The deputies drew up a list of the imposts extorted from the Jews,
bearing ridiculous titles; for instance, the exportation of porcelain,
which bound them to purchase articles of the worst quality for an
exorbitant price (called in mockery "Jews' porcelain") from the royal
manufactory and to sell them abroad; and taxes for the support of
manufactories for caps, stockings, pocket-handkerchiefs, and veils.
They pointed out burdensome restrictions, how in courts of justice
they were not treated as the equals of Christian suitors, and they
especially complained of the responsibility laid upon all for each,
and boldly demanded complete equalization, not mere permission to
engage in agriculture and trades, but also to fill public offices
and university chairs (May, 1787). The expectations of the Jews of
Berlin and Prussia were however baffled. Only the law to deal in
bad porcelain was annulled for a sum of four thousand thalers. The
degrading body-tax was also repealed for native Jews journeying from
province to province, and for strangers when frequenting the fair at
Frankfort-on-the-Oder (December, 1787; July, 1788.) This release from
slavery had been effected by Joseph II and by Louis XVI of France
several years previously. The high officials therefore advised the
abolition of the Jewish poll-tax from shame. But the gain was not
great, for, as Prussian Jews had to prove themselves such at every
public gate, the stigma was not removed. The ultimate result of the
petition of the Jewish deputies was lamentable. What was given with
one hand, was taken away with the other. It redounds to the honor
of the deputies that they frankly rejected the paltry, narrow-minded
concessions, remarking, "The intended favors are below our expectation,
and hardly accord with the joyful hopes entertained at the accession
of the king." They declared that they were not empowered to accept the
reforms offered, "which contain few advantages and many restrictions,"
especially as regarded the enlistment of common soldiers. Only certain
individual Jews received exceptional equalization of rights. Orders
were given that in official acts they should not be treated as Jews.
Otherwise everything continued as of old, only slight relief being
given to the Jews in Silesia.

Thus a nucleus for the elevation of the Jewish race was formed in the
Berlin community, and their efforts were encouraged, if not by the
state, at least by public opinion. In two ways their action influenced
a wider circle--through the Free School (Chinuch Nearim), and the
printing establishment connected with it. The Free School, conducted
by David Friedländer and his brother-in-law, Itzig Daniel Itzig, was
not managed according to Wessely's ideal plan. The curriculum was
composed mainly of the subjects of a general education, and gradually
everything Jewish (Hebrew, the Bible, the Talmud) was crowded out.
In ten years (1781-1791) over five hundred well-taught pupils were
graduated from the school--apostles of the Berlin spirit, who spread
its influence in all directions. It became a model school for German
and other communities. With similar ends in view the printing-press
sent into the Ghettos a large number of instructive works in Hebrew and
German. The spirit engendered thereby was at first one of scepticism,
of superficial enlightenment. Its aim was to eradicate from Jewish
life and manners everything that offended cultured taste or made the
Jews objects of derision, but it included in its attack whatever
did not at once recommend itself to the sober-minded, and so tended
to obliterate everything that recalled the great events of the past,
and that caused the Jews to appear as a separate race in the eyes of
Christians. The dearest ambition of the advocates of this movement was
to resemble Christians in every respect. "Enlightenment, Culture" were
their passwords, the idols of their worship, to which they sacrificed
everything. Mendelssohn had left no disciple of any importance able
to recognize the great truths of Judaism, and bring them into accord
with culture. Men like Euchel, Löwe, Friedländer, Herz, and almost
all the Measfim, possessed mediocre minds and limited views; they
were unable to scatter abroad fruit-bearing germs of thought. Despite
their enthusiasm for Mendelssohn, they did not appreciate the essence
of his nature, and thought that he was still in their midst, when
they had long forsaken him. Even his own children, not excepting his
accomplished daughters, misunderstood him; and this misconception
resulted in great confusion.

With every step forward taken by the Berlin school of enlightenment,
it became more opposed to the main body of Judaism, vexing its
susceptibilities, and thereby frustrating its own efficacy.
Misunderstandings, bitter feelings, friction, and strife were the
direct consequences.

The ultra-orthodox party, however, numbered still fewer men of
importance than the advanced school. The most eminent leader among
them, or the one regarded as such, Ezekiel Landau, in Prague, had not
the slightest sympathy with the new tendency, but thoughtlessly clung
to every usage however unjustifiable, and thereby injured the cause he
represented. He had only condemnation and denunciation as heretics for
those who withdrew from the well-trodden path.

Owing to the friction between the progressive and the orthodox
parties, both of whom exceeded all proper bounds, an exciting quarrel
sprang up in the Berlin community. Young men--private tutors,
merchants' apprentices, the sons of the rich, and fashionable
youths--boasted a frivolous philosophy, and proudly despised their
hoary religion, considering everything that interfered with their
pleasures as superstition, prejudice, and Rabbinical folly. The
adherents of the old views therefore grew the more tenacious, and held
to everything that bore a religious stamp. As the orthodox communal
leaders still had the upper hand in the benevolent institutions,
they refused support to the partisans of enlightenment, especially
to strangers, would not admit their sick into the Jewish hospital,
and denied the dead honorable burial. In short all the phenomena that
usually accompany religious party conflicts appeared. Those without
families, among whom were two prominent Measfim, Euchel and Wolfssohn,
determined to unite together so as not to stand isolated against the
orthodox party. They desired to form a union for the protection of
its members. Mendelssohn's eldest son, Joseph, was very zealous in
promoting such a union, and on the strength of his name it met with
abundant encouragement. Thus the "Society of Friends" was formed
(1792), a community of _illuminati_ within the community, comprising
solely unmarried men, whose chief aim was to regard each other as
brothers, and to support each other in distress and illness; but their
collateral intention was to spread culture and promote enlightenment.
The "Friends" took a saying of Mendelssohn as their motto, "To seek for
truth, to love the beautiful, to desire the good, to do the best." A
bundle of staves was their symbol. In the first year of its existence,
the union numbered more than a hundred members in the capital. Young
men in Königsberg, Breslau, and Vienna, joined the ranks. A bond of
cordial brotherhood held the members together, and to the present
day, a fraternal feeling of delicate benevolence has survived in the
Society. But it was a morbid symptom. The Society floated in the air
without a firm basis; it had roots neither in its own midst, nor in
Judaism, nor did it attach itself to any great political ideal. It
aimed at bodily welfare and quietude, as if civilized men could live by
bread only: the catchwords and phrases of culture and enlightenment did
not avail much. The struggle against the old régime was but weak; all
that they succeeded in doing was to keep their deceased friends longer
above ground. In short, the "Society of Friends" lacked the leaven of
inspiration, the only quality which ultimately bears fruit.

If the members of this Society took up no firm attitude, those who
never knew an ideal, nor even a dreamy striving, the commonplace men
who were mere slaves, and sought their whole happiness in mixing with
Christians, acted yet more culpably. The old system had no charms for
them, and the new one no tangible form to attract them. The example
of the court and high circles of society exercised an evil influence
also upon the Jews of the large towns of Prussia. "Under Frederick
William II," as Mirabeau remarks from his own observation, "Prussia had
fallen into a condition of rottenness, before having attained the stage
of maturity." Jewish youths of wealthy houses followed the general
inclination to sensual pleasures. Not secretly, but openly in the light
of day, they over-leapt all bounds, and with contempt of Judaism united
contempt for chastity and morality. They aped other apes. Earnest men,
such as David Friedländer, Lazarus Ben-David, and Saul Asher, deplored
the decay of morality among the Jews, without noticing that their own
shallow desire for enlightenment had contributed to it.

    "Vices have spread in our midst, which our fathers knew not,
    and which at any price have been bought too dearly. Irreligion,
    voluptuousness, and effeminacy, weeds that spring from the
    misuse of enlightenment and culture, have alas! taken root
    amongst us, and especially in the principal towns we are
    exposed to the danger that the stream of luxury along with our
    boorishness is sweeping away our severe and simple morals."

Having broken loose from the bond of a national religion existing for
thousands of years, superficial reasoners and profligates passed over
to Christianity in a body. "They were like moths, fluttering around
the flame, till they were consumed." Of what use was it to be galled
by the fetters of the "general privilege," of what use to continue to
bear the disgrace of being "protected" Jews, if by the repetition of
an empty formula they could become equal to the Christians! So they
washed away the mark of the yoke and its shame with the waters of
baptism. The congregations of Berlin, Breslau, and Königsberg beheld
daily the apostasy of their members, of the richest and outwardly the
most cultured people. It appeared as if the words of the prophet would
be verified, "I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor
people." It must be considered a miracle that the entire Jewish party
of enlightenment in Germany did not abjure Judaism. Three invisible
powers kept them from following _en masse_ the example of treachery
and apostasy: deep aversion to the dogma of Divine Incarnation,
indestructible attachment to their families and to their great past of
thousands of years, and love for the Hebrew language and literature.
Without suspecting it, they felt themselves united as a nation, a link
in the long chain of the history of the Jewish race, and they could
not persuade themselves to separate from it. The revival of Hebrew
through the Measfim had had beneficial influence in this direction.
Whoever could comprehend the beauties and elevated thoughts of biblical
literature, and could imitate the language, remained a Jew in spite of
secret doubts, degradation, and disgrace. Thus Mendelssohn provided the
new generation both with a poison and its antidote.

David Friedländer alone proved an exception to this rule. Neither
Jewish antiquity, nor Hebrew poetry, nor family ties, had power to keep
him loyal to his banner, even with half-hearted devotion. The tearing
asunder of all family connections, the casting aside of the duties of
the religious brotherhood, did indeed oppress him. Nevertheless, he
proceeded to sever himself from the Jewish community and to desert to
the hostile camp. He had striven to obtain for himself and his whole
family an exceptional naturalization with all its rights and duties,
but had not succeeded. This pained him, and instead of hiding his
annoyance in the pride of ancestry and martyrdom, instead of working on
behalf of his co-religionists so as to surpass the haughty Christians,
he coveted the honor of joining them. Friedländer, however, did not
desire to effect this desertion alone or absolutely. He therefore,
together with other fathers of families similarly disposed, in a
cowardly manner directed a letter, without mentioning either himself
or others by name, to the chief consistorial councilor Teller, who
was on friendly terms with Jews. This letter expressed their desire
for conversion and baptism, under the condition that they might be
excused from believing in Jesus, and from participating in the rites
of the church, or that at least they might be allowed to explain
Christian dogmas in their own manner--a suggestion equally silly
and dishonorable. Friedländer could not deny that, among the Jews,
"virtue was general, benevolence inherent, parental and filial love,
and the sanctity of marriage deeply rooted, self-sacrifice for the
sake of others frequent; and that, on the other hand, gross crimes--
murder, robbery, and outrage--were rare." But this bright side of
their servile state seemed to him only a secondary matter. Therefore,
in this foolish letter, he libeled his people and its past, called the
Talmud (that mental tonic) mysticism, spoke in illogical confusion now
of the harmful character, now of the utility of the ritual laws of
Judaism, and sketched the development of Jewish history in a way not to
be excelled for perversity.

Teller disposed of the Jewish fathers who craved a Christianity
without Jesus politely, but decisively, as they deserved. They might
remain what they were, for Christianity had no desire for such infidel
believers. Friedländer had met with an ignominious experience; he
remained a Jew, but his children pressed forward to be baptized without
conditions or qualifications. His letter however aroused more attention
than it deserved.

If the German Jews, especially those of Berlin, through their
intercourse with Christian society, and their interest in literature,
gained in external conduct, in forms of politeness, and social
manners--advantages not to be underrated--they lost something
for which there was no compensation. The chastity of Jewish women
and maidens during their isolation had been of inviolable sanctity;
the happiness of family life rested upon this precious basis. Jewish
women were seldom married for love--the Ghetto was not the place for
the dallyings of love--but after marriage duty induced love. This
sanctuary, the pride of Israel, which filled earnest Christians with
admiration, and led them highly to esteem the Jews, became dishonored
by their association with Christians of the corrupt higher ranks.

If the enemies of the Jews had designed to break the power of Israel,
they could have discovered no more effectual means than infecting
Jewish women with moral depravity, a plan more efficacious than that
employed by the Midianites, who weakened the men by immorality. The
salon of the beautiful Henrietta Herz became a sort of Midianite tent.
Here a number of young Jewish women assembled, whose husbands were kept
away by their business. The most prominent male member of this circle
was Frederick von Gentz, the embodiment of selfishness, licentiousness,
vice, and depravity, whose chief occupation was the betrayal of women.
Henrietta Herz was the first to be confused and led astray by homage
to her beauty. It was the time when German romanticism, the product
of Goethe's muse, began to act upon the minds of men, urging them
to translate lyrical emotions into reality, and transfigure life
poetically. This romantic tendency resulted in fostering sentimentality
and in infamous marriages which were contracted and dissolved at
pleasure. A so-called Band of Virtue (Tugend-Bund) was formed, of which
Henrietta Herz, two daughters of Mendelssohn, and other Jewesses,
together with Christian profligates, were members. The Jewish women
felt themselves exalted and honored by their close intimacy with
Christians of rank; they did not see the fanged serpent beneath the
flowers. With William von Humboldt, an ardent youth, afterwards
a Prussian minister, Henrietta secretly maintained an amatory
correspondence behind her husband's back.

When William von Humboldt married, and forgot Henrietta, who had been
misled by her vanity, she entered into an ambiguous relation with
Schleiermacher, the modern apostle of the new Christianity. Their
conspicuous intimacy was mocked at by acquaintances, even more than by
strangers. Both parties denied somewhat too anxiously the criminality
of their intimate intercourse. Whether true or not, it was disgrace
enough that evil tongues should even suspect the honor of a Jewish
matron of good family.

Schleiermacher's companion was Frederick Schlegel, who stormed heaven
with childish strength,--a chameleon in sentiments and views,
enthusiastic now for the republic, now for monarchical despotism,
who conjured up the specters and evil spirits of the Middle Ages.
Introduced into the salon of Herz, he became the bosom friend of
Schleiermacher, and at once resolved to seduce Dorothea Mendelssohn.
Her father had died with the knowledge that she was joined in happy
wedlock to the banker Simon Veit Witzenhausen. Her husband surrounded
her with marks of attention and love. Two children were the issue
of this marriage. Nevertheless, she allowed herself to be led into
faithlessness by the treacherous voice of the romantic Schlegel. It
was the fashion in this society to complain about being misunderstood
and the discord of souls. The immoral teachings of Goethe's elective
affinities had already taken root in Jewish families. The thought
of parting from her husband and children did not restrain Dorothea
from going astray, and Henrietta Herz acted as go-between. Dorothea
therefore left her husband, and lived with Schlegel, at first in
unlawful union. All the world was astounded at this immorality, which
dragged Mendelssohn's honorable name in the mud. Doctor Herz forbade
his wife to hold intercourse with this depraved woman. But she herself
was at heart an adulteress, and informed her husband that she would not
forsake her friend. Schleiermacher, the preacher, also took but little
offense at this dissolute conduct. Dorothea followed her romantic
betrayer from one folly to another, was baptized as a Protestant, and
finally, together with him, became converted to Catholicism. It was
a lamentable sight when Mendelssohn's daughter kissed the toe of the
pope. The younger sister, Henrietta Mendelssohn, was not handsome
enough to enthrall the libertines of the salon. It suffices to indicate
her bent of mind to say that she also went over to Catholicism. The
consequence of this internal corruption was to render the participators
out of sorts with life.

Rachel Levin, another high-spirited woman, was too clever to take
part in the frivolity of the Band of Virtue. She desired to pursue
her own way. But her wisdom and clear mind did not secure her against
the contamination of immorality. In one respect she was superior to
her sinful Jewish sisters; she was truthful, and wore no mask. When
Rachel first made the acquaintance of the heroic but dissolute Prince
Louis Ferdinand, she undertook to teach him "garret-truths"; but she
rather learned from him the follies of the palace. Herself unmarried,
she consented to become the intermediary between him and the abandoned
Pauline Wiesel. Rachel Levin, or, as she was also called, Rachel
Robert, in whose veins flowed Talmudic blood, which endowed her with
a bright and active mind, and enabled her to penetrate to the very
foundation of things, and pursue the soul and its varying instincts in
their subtlest manifestations, ignored her own origin. She desired to
distinguish the breath of God in the mutations of history, yet had no
appreciation of the greatness of her race. She despised it, considering
it the greatest shame and her worst misfortune to have been born a
Jewess. Only in the hour of death did a faint suspicion of the great
importance of Judaism and the Jews cross her mind.

    "With exalted delight I meditate upon my origin and the web of
    history, through which the oldest reminiscences of the human
    race are united with present affairs, despite distance of
    time and space. I, a fugitive from Egypt, am here, and find
    assistance. What all my life I considered my greatest disgrace,
    I now would not give up for any price."

But even in that hour her mind did not see clearly, her thoughts were
disordered, and she exhausted herself in fantastic dreams.

These talented but sinful Jewish women did Judaism a service by
becoming Christians. Mendelssohn's daughters and Rachel were converted
publicly, while Henrietta Herz, who had more regard for appearances,
received baptism in a small town to avoid hurting her Jewish friends,
and took this step only after her mother's death.

Schleiermacher again inoculated the cultivated classes in Germany
with a peculiar, scarcely definable, antipathy to Judaism. He was in
no way a Jew-baiter, in the usual sense of the term, and indignantly
protested against being called so; but his mind was agitated with a
vague, disagreeable feeling towards the Jews, from which he could not
escape. When Friedländer's foolish letter on the admission of certain
families into Christianity divested of the dogma of the Trinity, was
published, Schleiermacher expressed himself adverse to their admission.
The state might concede to the Jews the rights of citizenship, but
should tolerate them only as a special sect, inasmuch as they would
not surrender their hope in the Messiah. It was quite in accordance
with his romantic neo-Christianity, that from ignorance and confusion
he depicted Judaism as a mummy "around which its sons sit moaning and
weeping." He would not even acknowledge Judaism as the forerunner
of Christianity. "I detest this sort of historical relationship in
religion." Hitherto, Christendom had been conscious of a certain
connection with Judaism, and the Old Testament, the Bible, had been the
common ground upon which the insolent daughter and the enslaved mother
met, and for the moment forgot their hatred. To this connection, or its
recognition, the Jews owed their salvation in the sad days of excess
of Christian faith, or they would have been altogether annihilated in
Europe. The papacy protected them, "because the Saviour had come from
their midst." This bond Schleiermacher destroyed at a breath. To have
anything in common with the Jews enraged him. But were not Jesus, the
Apostles, and the early Fathers of the Church, Jews? Schleiermacher
would willingly have denied this fact, if he could possibly have done
it; but as this was impracticable, he enshrouded it in mystery.

    "What? we are to believe that Jesus was only a Jewish Rabbi,
    with philanthropic sentiments, and some Socratic morality;
    with certain miracles, or at least what some consider as such,
    and with the talent of composing neat riddles and parables--
    some follies will even then have to be forgiven him, according
    to the first three Evangelists; and such a man could have
    established a new religion and a Church--a man who cannot be
    compared with Moses and Mahomet?"

This fact Schleiermacher could not tolerate; for in such case, not only
Moses the prophet, but also Moses Mendelssohn, the sage of Berlin,
would have been greater. Therefore Schleiermacher removed his Jesus far
away from Judaism; he had only had the accident of birth in common with
the Jews, but he was superhuman, and still a man, "whose consciousness
of God may properly be called existence of God within him," as it is
expressed in this mystic, extravagant, romantic teaching, which thus
took its own chief under its protection. Schleiermacher's sermons were
filled with this kind of word-juggling, to which the Berlin Jews,
especially the women, listened as devoutly as their ancestors to the
lying tricks of the false prophets. The school of Schleiermacher, which
became the leading influence in Germany, made this intense contempt of
Judaism its password and the basis of its orthodoxy.

At the same time, another romanticist, Chateaubriand, invented new,
flimsy supports for Christianity, which was in ruins and almost
forgotten in France. Even though he traced the origin of the arts,
music, painting, architecture, eloquence, and poetry, to Christianity,
he, at least, did not deny a share in these merits to Judaism, though
only with the intention of claiming for Christianity the noblest
features in Hebrew literature and history. "There are only two bright
names and memories in history, those of the Israelites and the
Pelasgians (Greeks)." When Chateaubriand desired to prove his assertion
that the poetry of nature is the invention of Christianity, he cited
as examples the beautiful descriptions in Job, in the Prophets, and
the Psalms, to whose poetry the works of Pindar and Horace were much
inferior. Chateaubriand gathered the flowers of Hebrew poetry to
weave a beautiful garland for his crucified god. But he did not, like
Schleiermacher, crush Judaism into the dust by denying the paternity of
the child grown to be so powerful.

A new Judæophobia sprang from the neo-Christian school, which, as its
originators obtained political influence, grew much stronger than
that of old orthodox Christianity. It is remarkable that the twofold
reaction, that of the Church, brought about by Schleiermacher, and
that of the political world, which is connected with Gentz, had its
rise in the Judæo-Christian salon in Berlin. But in the same year when
the effeminate Schleiermacher, in his romantic delineation of himself,
calumniated Judaism by describing it as a mummy, there arose a man,
a hero, a giant in comparison with these wretched dwarfs, who issued
a summons for the Jews to gather round his standard. He wished to
conquer the Holy Land of their fathers for them, and, a second Cyrus,
to rebuild their Temple. The freedom which the Berlin Jews desired to
attain by the surrender of their peculiarities, and by humiliation
before the Church, they now obtained through France, without paying
this price and without disgraceful bargaining.



  Foreshadowing of the French Revolution--Cerf Berr--Mirabeau on
    the Jewish Question in France--Berr Isaac Berr--The Jewish
    Question and the National Assembly--Equalization of Portuguese
    Jews--Efforts to equalize Paris Jews--Jewish Question
    deferred--Equalization of French Jews--Reign of Terror--
    Equalization of Jews of Holland--Adath Jeshurun Congregation
    --Spread of Emancipation--Bonaparte in Palestine--Fichte's
    Jew-hatred--The Poll-Tax--Grund's "Petition of Jews of
    Germany"--Jacobson--Breidenbach--Lefrank--Alexander I
    of Russia: his Attempts to improve the Condition of the Jews of

1791-1805 C. E.

He who believes that Providence manifests itself in history, that sins,
crimes, and follies on the whole serve to elevate mankind, finds in
the French Revolution complete confirmation of this faith. Could this
eventful reaction, which the whole of the civilized world gradually
experienced, have happened without the long chain of revolting crimes
and abominations which the nobility, the monarchy, and the Church
committed? The unnatural servitude inflicted by the temporal and
spiritual powers produced liberty, but nourished it with poison, so
that liberty bit into its own flesh, and wounded itself. The Revolution
was a judgment which in one day atoned for the sins of a thousand
years, and which hurled into the dust all who, at the expense of
justice and religion, had created new grades of society. A new day of
the Lord had come "to humiliate all the proud and high, and to raise up
the lowly." For the Jews, too, the most abject and despised people in
European society, the day of redemption and liberty was to dawn after
their long slavery among the nations of Europe. It is noteworthy that
England and France, the two European countries which first expelled the
Jews, were the first to reinstate them in the rights of humanity. What
Mendelssohn had thought possible at some distant time, and what had
been the devout wish of Dohm and Diez, those defenders of the Jews, was
realized in France with almost magical rapidity.

However, the freedom of the French Jews did not fall into their laps
like ripe fruit, in the maturing of which they had taken no trouble.
They made vigorous exertions to remove the oppressive yoke from
their shoulders; but in France the result of their activity was more
favorable and speedy than in Germany. The most zealous energy in
behalf of the liberation of the French Jews was displayed by a man,
whose forgotten memory deserves to be transmitted to posterity. Herz
Medelsheim or Cerf Berr (born about 1730, died 1793) was the first
to exert himself by word and deed to remove the prejudices against
his co-religionists, under which he himself suffered severely. He was
acquainted with the Talmud, in good circumstances, warm-hearted enough
to avoid the selfishness bred by prosperity, and sufficiently liberal
to understand and spread the new spirit emanating from Mendelssohn.
He was intimately acquainted with the Berlin sage, and undertook
to disseminate the Pentateuch translation in Alsace. Owing to his
position, Cerf Berr was enabled to work for the emancipation of his
brethren. He furnished the French army with the necessaries of war, and
therefore had to be in Strasburg, where no Jew was allowed to live. At
first he was allowed in Strasburg only one winter, but having performed
great services to the state, during the war and a famine under Louis
XV, the permission to stay was repeatedly prolonged by the minister,
and he utilized this favor to take up his permanent residence there.
Cerf Berr drew other Jews to Strasburg. Secretly he purchased houses
for himself and his family, and owing to his services to the state, he
obtained from Louis XVI all the rights and liberties of royal subjects,
especially the exceptional privilege of possessing landed property and
goods. He also established factories in Strasburg, and tried to have
the work done by Jews, so as to withdraw them from petty trading and
deprive their accusers of all excuse for their prejudices.

Although Cerf Berr was a useful member of society, and brought profit
to the town, the Germans in Strasburg viewed the settlement of Jews
within their walls askance, and made every conceivable effort to expel
Berr and his friends. This Philistine narrow-mindedness on the one
hand, and Dohm's advocacy of the Jews on the other, as well as the
partial relief afforded by Emperor Joseph, impelled Berr seriously to
consider the emancipation of the Jews, or at least their admission
to most of the French towns, and to endeavor to carry the measure at
court. To win public opinion, he energetically spread Dohm's Apology in
France. The proposals of Cerf Berr were favorably received at court.
From other quarters, also, the French government was petitioned to
lighten the oppressive measures, which weighed especially on the Jews
of Alsace and Lorraine. The good-natured Louis XVI was inclined to
remove any abuse as soon as it was placed before him in its true light.
The noble Malesherbes, enthusiastic for the well-being of mankind,
probably at the instigation of the king, summoned a commission of Jews,
which was to make suggestions for the amelioration of the condition of
their brethren in France. As a matter of course, Cerf Berr was invited.
As representative of the Jews of Lorraine, his ally, Berr Isaac Berr
of Nancy, was summoned, who afterwards developed the greatest zeal
for the emancipation of his co-religionists. Portuguese Jews from
Bordeaux and Bayonne, the two towns where they resided, were also
included in the commission. Furtado, who subsequently played a part in
the history of the Revolution, Gradis, Isaac Rodrigues of Bordeaux, and
Lopes-Dubec, were members of this commission instituted by Malesherbes.
These eminent men, all of them animated with zealous sympathy for
their languishing brethren, undoubtedly insisted upon the repeal of
exceptional laws, but their proposals are not known. Probably in
consequence of their efforts, Louis XVI abrogated the poll-tax, which
had been particularly degrading to the Jews in the German-speaking
provinces of France.

More effectually than Cerf Berr and the Jewish commission, two men
worked for the liberation of the Jews who in a measure had been
inspired by Mendelssohn and his friends, and were the incarnation of
the Revolution. They were Mirabeau and the Abbé Grégoire, no less
zealous for liberty than the former. Count Mirabeau (born 1749;
died 1791), who was always on the side of the oppressed against the
oppressors, was first induced, by his intimacy with Mendelssohn's
circle, to raise his voice of thunder on behalf of the Jews.

Filled with admiration for the grand personality of Mendelssohn, and
inspired by the thought of accomplishing the deliverance of an enslaved
race, Mirabeau wrote his important work "Upon Mendelssohn and the
Political Reform of the Jews" (1787). Of the former he drew a brilliant
picture. The Jewish sage could not have wished for a warmer, more
inspired, more clear-sighted interpreter. The liking he entertained for
Mendelssohn Mirabeau transferred to the Jews in general.

    "May it not be said that his example, especially the outcome
    of his exertions for the elevation of his brethren, silences
    those who, with ignoble bitterness, insist that the Jews are so
    contemptible that they cannot be transformed into a respectable

This observation was the introduction to Mirabeau's vindication of the
Jews, in which he gave a correct exposition of what Dohm had adduced
and what he himself had experienced. He surveyed the long, tragic
history of the Jews, discovering traits very different from those found
by Voltaire. Mirabeau saw the glorious martyrdom of the Jews and the
disgrace of their oppressors. Their virtues he extolled freely, and
attributed their failings to the ill-treatment they had received.

    "If you wish the Jews to become better men and useful citizens,
    then banish every humiliating distinction, open to them every
    avenue of gaining a livelihood; instead of forbidding them
    agriculture, handicrafts, and the mechanical arts, encourage
    them to devote themselves to these occupations."

With telling wit, Mirabeau refuted the arguments of the German
anti-Semites, Michaelis and the Göttingen guild of scholars, against
the naturalization of the Jews. It was only necessary to place the
different objections side by side to demonstrate their absurdity. On
the one hand, it was maintained that, in their rivalry with Christians,
the Jews would gain the upper hand, and from another point of view it
was demonstrated that they would always remain inferior. "Let their
opponents first agree among themselves," he remarked, "at present
they refute each other." Mirabeau foresaw, with prophetic clearness,
that in a free and happy condition the Jews would soon forget their
Messianic king, and that therefore the justification of their permanent
exclusion, derived from their belief in the Messiah, was futile.

    "There is only one thing to be lamented, that so highly gifted
    a nation should so long have been kept in a state wherein it
    was impossible for its powers to develop, and every far-sighted
    man must rejoice in the acquisition of useful fellow-citizens
    from among the Jews."

On all occasions Mirabeau seized the opportunity of speaking warmly
on behalf of the Jews. He was devoted to them and their biblical
literature, and scattered the clouds of prejudice with which Voltaire
had enveloped them. When Mirabeau undertook the defense of any matter,
the victory was already half won. His suggestions for reform came at
the right moment.

Among the thousand matters that occupied public opinion on the eve
of the Revolution was also the Jewish question. The Jews, especially
in Alsace, complained of their unendurable misery, and the Christian
populace, of their intolerable impoverishment through the Jews. In
Metz an anti-Jewish pamphlet had appeared, entitled "The Citizen's
Cry against the Jews," which inflamed the worst passions of the
people against them. The pamphlet was indeed prohibited; but what
slanderous assertion, however incredible, has ever been without
result? Appearances, in point of fact, were against the Jews. A young
Jewish author, the first Alsatian Jew who wrote in French, published a
stinging reply (1787), which justified the expectation that the Jews
would no longer, as in Voltaire's time, permit such insults to pass
unnoticed, but would emerge from their attitude of silent suffering.
Isaiah Berr Bing (born 1759; died 1805), well-educated and eloquent,
better acquainted with the history of his people than his Jewish
contemporaries, including even the Berlin leaders, rebutted every
charge with convincing emphasis.

Through these writings for and against the Jews, the Jewish question
became prominent in France. The Royal Society of Science and Arts in
Metz offered a prize for the best essay in answer to the question, "Are
there means to make the Jews happier and more useful in France?" Three
replies, all in favor of the Jews, were sent in--by two Christian
inquirers, and one Jewish, the Abbé Grégoire, Thiery, the member of
Parliament for Nancy, and Salkind Hurwitz the Pole, of Kovno (on the
Niemen), who had emigrated to Paris. That of Grégoire, however, had
the greatest effect. Grégoire was a simple nature, and in the midst of
universal corruption had preserved a pure, childlike mind.

When these apologetic pamphlets appeared, the storm-charged clouds
of the Revolution, which were to bring about destruction and
reorganization in the world, had already gathered. The fetters of a
double slavery, beneath which European nations groaned, that of the
State and the Church, were at length, in one country at least, to be
broken. As if touched by a magic wand, France turned into a glowing
furnace, where all the instruments of serfdom were consumed, and out
of the ashes arose the French nation, rejuvenated, destined for great
things, the first apostle of the religion of freedom, which it loved
with passionate devotion. Was it not natural to expect the hour to
strike for the redemption of the most abased people, the Jews? Two of
their most ardent defenders sat in that part of the National Assembly
which, truly representative of the nation, restored inalienable
rights to those so long disinherited by Church and State. These
representatives were Mirabeau, one of the fathers of the Revolution,
and the Abbé Grégoire, who owed his election to his essay in defense of
the Jews.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, there lived in France scarcely
50,000 Jews--almost half of whom (20,000) dwelt in Alsace--
under the most oppressive yoke. In Metz, the largest, "the pattern
community," only 420 Jewish families were tolerated, and in the whole
of Lorraine only 180, and these were not allowed to increase. In
Paris, in spite of stringent prohibitions, a congregation of about 500
persons had gathered (since 1740); about as many lived in Bordeaux,
the majority of them of new-Christian or Portuguese descent. There
were also some communities in the papal districts of Avignon and
Carpentras. In Carpentras there dwelt about 700 families (over 2,000
souls) with their own rabbinate. Those in the best condition were the
Jews of Bordeaux and the daughter community of Bayonne. Among the Jews
of the various provinces there was as little connection as among those
in other European countries. Misfortune had separated them. Thus it
happened that no concerted action was taken to obtain naturalization
from the National Assembly at once, although Grégoire, the Catholic
priest, true love for mankind in his heart, exhorted them to seize this
favorable opportunity. They indeed boasted men of energy, filled with
love for their race, and ready for self-sacrifice, men of tact, such
as Cerf Berr, Furtado, Isaac Berr, and David Gradis, but at first no
measures were taken. An appeal for united action may possibly have been
made, but the pride of the Portuguese probably made it ineffectual.
Therefore, in the first stormy months of the Revolution, nothing was
undertaken for the emancipation of the Jews. The deputies in the
States General or the National Assembly were sufficiently occupied
without thinking of the Jews. Besides, they adhered rather closely to
the programme enumerating the wishes of their electors, on which the
emancipation of the Jews was not mentioned. The deputies of Alsace and
Lorraine, in fact, had received instructions to attack the Jews. The
assaults made upon the Jews in the German provinces, as a result of the
disorders of the Revolution, first moved the victims to bring their
complaints before the National Assembly. It was, perhaps, an advantage
that the ripe fruit of liberty did not fall into their laps, but that
they had to exert themselves energetically to obtain it; for thus
liberty became the more precious to them.

The storming of the Bastille had finally torn the scepter from the
deluded king, and handed it over to the people. The Revolution had
tasted blood, and began to inflict punishment upon the tyrants. In
many parts of the land, as if by agreement, castles were burnt down,
monasteries destroyed, and the nobility maltreated or slain. The
people, brought up in ignorance by the Church, and now released from
the chains of slavery, knew not how to distinguish friend from foe,
and rushed recklessly upon what lay nearest their stupid gaze. In
Alsace the lower classes of the people at the same time made a fierce
attack upon the Jews (beginning of August, 1789)--perhaps incited
by secret Jew-haters--destroying their houses, plundering their
property, and forcing them to flee half-naked. They, who hitherto
had been humiliated and enslaved by the nobles and the clergy, were
now fellow-sufferers with their tyrants. The Alsatian Jews mostly
escaped to Basle, and although no Jew was allowed to live there, the
fugitives were sheltered and sympathetically treated. Complaints were
made to the National Assembly of the excesses after the first draught
of liberty; from that Assembly all expected help, no longer from the
monarchy, which had already become a mere shadow. Every deputy received
detailed reports of disquieting, sometimes sanguinary, events. The
ill-treated Jews of Alsace had turned to Grégoire, and he sketched
(August 3) a gloomy picture of the outrages upon the Jews, and added
that he, a servant of a religion which regards all men as brothers,
requested the interference of the powerful arm of the Assembly on
behalf of this despised and unhappy people. He also published a
pamphlet, called "Proposals in Favor of the Jews," to influence public
opinion. Then followed the memorable night of the Fourth of August,
which covered the French nation with eternal fame, when the nobles
sacrificed their privileges on the altar of freedom, and acknowledged
the equality of all citizens--the birth-hour of a new order of
things. In consequence of this agitation, and dreading that they might
fall victims to anarchy, the Jews of the various provinces resolved
to present petitions for admission into the fraternity of the French
people; but again they acted singly, and to some extent preferred
contradictory requests. The Jews of Bordeaux had already joined the
National Guard, and one was even appointed captain. They had only one
desire, that their equalization be sealed by law, and this wish their
four deputies, David Gradis, Furtado, Lopes-Dubec, and Rodrigues,
publicly expressed. About a hundred Parisian Jews were also enrolled
in the National Guard, and rivaled the other citizens in patriotism
and revolutionary spirit. They sent eleven deputies to the National
Assembly, who prayed for the removal of the ignominy which covered them
as Jews, and for equalization by law, saying that the example of the
French people would induce all the nations of the earth to acknowledge
the Jews as brothers. The community of Metz desired besides that their
oppressive taxes be removed, and the debts which they had contracted
in consequence of the taxes be made void. The communities of Lorraine
sent a delegate to the National Assembly, Berr Isaac Berr (born 1744;
died 1828), who, a man of many virtues and merits, and an admirer of
Mendelssohn and Wessely, had great influence. He drew up a petition
containing the special request that the authority and autonomy of the
rabbis in internal affairs be established and recognized by law. The
deputies for Lüneville and an adjacent community protested against
this. It was a long time, however, before the Jewish question became
the distinct order of the day. The National Assembly seemed to shrink
from discussing the point, for fear of stirring up public opinion
still more passionately in the German provinces with their obstinate
prejudices and hatred of Jews.

Religious intolerance manifested itself even in the Assembly. On the
23d of August an exciting sitting was held. The subject of debate
was whether the inviolable rights of man, to be placed at the head
of the constitution, were to include religious freedom of conscience
and freedom of worship. A deputy, De Castellane, had formulated this
point plainly: "No man shall be molested on account of his religious
opinions, nor disturbed in the practice of his belief." Against this
motion a storm arose on the part of the Catholic Clergy and other
representatives of Catholicism. They continually spoke of a dominant
religion or confession, which, as hitherto, should be supported by the
State, whilst other creeds might be tolerated. In vain Mirabeau raised
a bold protest against such presumptuousness.

    "The unrestricted freedom of belief is so sacred in my eyes,
    that even the word tolerance sounds despotic to me, because the
    very existence of an authority empowered to tolerate, injures
    freedom, in that it tolerates, because it might do the reverse."

But his powerful voice was drowned by the opposing clamor. The clever
speech of another deputy, Rabaud Saint Etienne, however, gained the
victory for freedom of conscience. He spoke also on behalf of the Jews.

    "I demand liberty for the nation of the Jews, always contemned,
    homeless, wandering over the face of the whole globe, and
    doomed to humiliation. Banish forever the aristocracy of
    thought, the feudal system of opinion, which desires to rule
    others and impose compulsion upon them."

Amidst strong opposition the law was passed, which has since become the
basis of the European constitution:

    "No one shall be molested on account of his religious opinions,
    in so far as their outward expression does not disturb public
    order as established by law."

Therewith one point in the petition of the French Jews was disposed
of. But when the Jewish question afterwards came on for treatment
(September 3), it was postponed, and handed over to a committee.
Three weeks later the Assembly was again obliged to deal with the
Jewish question. Persecutions which the Jews underwent in certain
places forced it upon them. Those in Nancy were threatened with
pillage, because they were reproached with having bought up provisions
and raised the prices. The Jewish question became so pressing, that
the order of the day (on September 28) was interrupted by it. It
was again Grégoire who defended the persecuted. He was supported by
Count Clermont-Tonnerre, a sincere friend of liberty. With glowing
eloquence he pointed out that Christian society was guilty of the
degradation of the Jews, and that it must offer them some atonement.
The Assembly thereupon resolved that the president address a circular
letter to the various towns, stating that the declaration of the
rights of man, which the Assembly had accepted, comprehended all
men upon earth, therefore also the Jews, who were no longer to be
harassed. The king, with his enfeebled authority, was asked to protect
the Jews from further persecutions. This action, however, produced
no results for the sufferers. The Jews of Alsace remained exposed to
attack, as before. The Jewish representatives of the three bishoprics
of Alsace and Lorraine lost patience, seeing that their equalization
was being constantly deferred. They therefore strove to obtain a
hearing for themselves. Introduced by the deputies of Lorraine to the
National Assembly (October 14), Berr, the indefatigable advocate of
his co-religionists, delivered a speech, in which he portrayed the
sufferings of a thousand years, and implored humane treatment for
them. He worthily fulfilled his task. He was obliged to be brief; the
Assembly, which had to establish a new edifice upon the ruins of the
old kingdom, could not spare time for long speeches. President Preteau
replied that the Assembly would feel itself happy to be able to afford
rest and happiness to the Jews of France. The meeting applauded his
words, permitted the Jewish deputies to be present as guests at the
proceedings, and promised to take the equalization of the Jews into
consideration at the next sitting. From this time the French Jews
confidently hoped that their emancipation would be realized.

Meanwhile, the Revolution had again made a gigantic stride forward:
the people had brought the proud French sovereign like a prisoner from
Versailles to Paris. The deputies also moved to Paris, and the capital
became more and more infected with revolutionary fever. The youthful
Parisian Jews, as well as the immigrants, took great interest in all
occurrences. Even the middle classes aided the cause of the fatherland
by supplying funds. At length the Jewish question was to be settled. A
deputy was appointed to report upon it, and a special sitting called.
But it was brought into connection with another question, namely,
the franchise of executioners, actors, and Protestants, to whom the
Catholic population in some towns did not wish to grant permission to

The report was sent in by Clermont-Tonnerre, and spoke most logically
in favor of all four classes. All sincere friends of liberty,
Robespierre, Duport, Barnave, and, of course, Mirabeau, expressed
themselves in favor of the Jews and their fellow-sufferers. The
followers of the old school opposed them with determination, chief
among them Abbé Maury, Bishop La Fare of Nancy, and the bishop of
Clermont. Only one ultra-revolutionist, Reubell, from Alsace, spoke
against the Jews, maintaining that it was dangerous forthwith to grant
complete rights of citizenship to those resident in Alsace, against
whom there was deeply-rooted hatred. Abbé Maury produced utterly false,
or partially true statements, as arguments for unfriendly behavior
towards the Jews. He even quoted Voltaire's anti-Jewish writings in
order to prejudice the Assembly. The Assembly hesitated; it feared
to attack the gross prejudice entertained by the populace of the
eastern provinces against the Jews. At the representation of one of
the deputies, the equalization of the Jews was separated from that
of the Protestants, and the resolution ran in this equivocal manner:
that the Assembly reserved to itself the right of deciding about the
Jews, without determining upon anything new concerning them. This
reservation was repeated at the discussion of the laws for the election
of municipal officers (January 8, 1790), from which Jews were excluded.

This evasive decision grossly offended the Portuguese Jews of Bordeaux.
Hitherto they had tacitly enjoyed all the rights of citizens, and in
their turn fulfilled all their duties with self-sacrificing readiness.
Now they were to be kept in uncertainty about their civil status, in
company with the German Jews, against whom they bore an antipathy
not less than that of hostile Christians. They therefore hastily
despatched a deputation to Paris to cause this injurious resolution
to be rescinded. As the population were on better terms with the
Portuguese, their request was easily obtained. The deputy for Bordeaux,
De Sèze, spoke warmly on their behalf. Talleyrand, then bishop of
Autun, was appointed to report upon the matter, and concisely suggested
(February 28), that those Jews who had hitherto enjoyed civil rights
as naturalized Frenchmen should continue to enjoy that privilege. The
enemies of the Jews, of course, opposed this motion, fearing that it
would apply also to German Jews.

Nevertheless, the majority decided that those Jews in France who were
called Portuguese, Spaniards, or Avignonese (of Bordeaux and Bayonne)
should enjoy full privileges as active citizens, and the king at once
approved of this law. It was the first legal recognition of the Jews
as citizens, and, though only a partial recognition, it at least would
serve as a precedent.

The deputies of the Jews from German districts did not so easily attain
success; they had to struggle hard for equality. At the same time
they lighted upon a means whereby to bring pressure to bear upon the
National Assembly, and induce them to concede them full citizenship.
There were five men who worked most perseveringly to remove all
obstacles. They won over to their side the fiery, eloquent advocate
Godard, to plead their cause with pen and tongue. They knew that power
was no longer in the hands of the National Assembly, but had been
seized by the parties of the capital, who, with their revolutionary
ardor, held complete sway over Paris, the deliberating Assembly,
the king, almost the whole country. The Jewish representatives from
Paris, Alsace, and Lorraine therefore turned to them for help. They
had Godard draw up a petition to the National Assembly, stating
that the emancipation of the Jews was not only demanded by the
principles of the Constituent Assembly and by justice, but that it
was cruelty to withhold it. For, so long as their equality was not
legally established, the people would believe that they were indeed
the outcasts their enemies had described them to be. But even more
efficacious than this petition was a scene which the Parisian Jews
arranged with their advocate, before the General Assembly of the
Paris Commune; it decided the question. Fifty Jewish members of the
National Guards, adorned with cockades, among them Salkind Hurwitz,
the Pole, appeared as deputies before the Assembly of the Commune,
and petitioned that the city of Paris itself should energetically set
about obtaining equality for the Jews. Godard delivered a fiery speech
in their support. The president of the General Assembly, Abbé Mulot,
replied to this vigorous address with the fervid eloquence peculiar
to the orators of the Revolution: "The chasm between their religious
conceptions and the truth which we as Christians profess, cannot hinder
us as men from approaching each other, and even if we reproach each
other with our errors and complain of each other, at least we can
love each other." In the name of the meeting he promised to support
the petition of the Paris Jews for equalization. Next day (January
29, 1790), the Jews of Paris obtained a certificate, couched in most
flattering terms, and testifying to their excellent reputation, from
the inhabitants of the district of the Carmelites, where most Jews
dwelt at this time.

The six deputies appointed for the district of the Carmelites then
went to the City Hall, to support the resolution in favor of the Jews.
One of them, Cahier de Gerville, afterwards a minister, delivered
an impressive address. "Do not be surprised," said he, "that this
district hastens to be the first to make public recognition of the
patriotism, the courage, and the nobility of the Jews who dwell in
it. No citizen has proved himself more zealous for the gaining of
liberty than the Jew, ... none has displayed more sense of order and
justice, none shown more benevolence towards the poor, and readiness
in voluntarily contributing towards the expenses of the district. Let
us attack all prejudices, and attack them with determination. Let not
one of the monstrosities of despotism and ignorance survive the new
birth of liberty and the consecration of the rights of man.... Take
into consideration the just and pressing demands in favor of our new
brethren, and join your wishes to their petition, so that thus united
they may come before the National Assembly. Do not doubt but that you
will obtain, without trouble, for the Jews of Paris that which was not
denied the Jews of Portugal, Spain, and Avignon. What reason is there
for showing a preference for this class? Do not all Jews hold the
same doctrines? Are not our political conditions alike for the one as
for the other? If the ancestors of those Jews on whose behalf we plead
experienced more bitter suffering and persecution than the Portuguese
Jews, then this long, cruel oppression which they have sustained should
give them a new claim to national justice. For the rest, look to the
origin of these strange and unjust distinctions, and see whether any
one to-day dares set up a distinction of rights between two classes of
the same people, two branches of the same stem, basing his action upon
apocryphal tradition, or rather upon chimeras and fables."

To this speech the President Abbé Mulot replied, bringing into
prominence the fact that the report from the district of the Carmelites
was to be considered of great weight in favor of the Jews.

The next speech, that of Abbé Bertolio, at length induced the meeting
to add its favorable testimony to the Jews of Paris, and to express the
wish to the National Assembly that these Jews, most of them of German
birth, be put on an equal footing with the Portuguese. Mayor Bailly
and his committee on the same day passed the resolution, that as soon
as the other districts announced their approval, the whole weight of
the influence of the municipality of Paris be exerted on behalf of the
equalization of the Jews. In the course of the following month all
the city districts, with the exception of that of the Halles, sent in
their approval of the decision of the Carmelite district. Accordingly,
a deputation of the Commune, together with its president, Abbé Mulot,
officially commissioned by the capital (February 25), presented itself
at the meeting of the National Assembly, to request, or rather by moral
suasion to compel, that body to extend to Jews resident in Paris the
decree declaring the Portuguese Jews full citizens.

After some delay, certain deputies demanded (April 15) that the Jewish
question be placed on the order of the day. Abbé Maury again opposed
the motion, and promised to present a memorial which the Jews should be
called upon to answer. In order, however, to protect the Jews of Alsace
from the attacks of mobs, the Assembly again decreed that they were
under protection of the laws, and that the magistrates and the National
Guard were to take precautions for their security. In this way they
appeased their consciences. The king forthwith sanctioned (April 18)
the law of protection for the Alsatian Jews, after which the question
was not broached for three months.

Fortunately the Jewish question did not stand isolated, but was
connected with other questions. The Jews of Alsace, especially those of
Metz, had to pay high protection-taxes. When the subject of finances
came on for discussion, the Assembly had to determine whether this tax
should continue or cease. They came to a liberal decision, although
the deputies were sorely troubled about the deficit thus created. The
secretary of the committee of the crown land, Vismes, first showed
how unjust it was that the community of Metz, which Louis XIV, once
when in good humor, had given to the Duke of Brancas and the Countess
De Fontaine, should pay annually to the house of Brancas 20,000
francs. He therefore proposed that the Jew taxes should be remitted
without any indemnification, and that every tribute, under whatever
name--protection-money, residence-tax, or tolerance-money--should
cease. This proposal was passed into law (July 20) almost without
opposition. Louis XVI, who by this act saw another remnant of the
Middle Ages vanish, at first showed himself tardy in confirming the
law (August 7). Ten years previously the Jews of Alsace had in vain
presented a memorial to the state council detailing the misery of their
condition; it received no notice. Owing to the sudden revolution of
affairs, they now achieved in less than an hour more than they had ever
dared hope for.

But the National Assembly would not proceed to deal with the chief
demand of the Jews of the Lower Rhine--as these districts were then
called--to grant them civil rights. Several had expressed themselves
favorably, when the Duc de Broglie intervened with a violent speech.
He asserted that the proposed resolution would engender new causes of
excitement in Lorraine and Alsace, already in a state of ferment owing
to the action of the clergy who refused to take the oath. Strasburg
was likewise greatly excited on account of the Jews, who desired to
settle there, where hitherto no Jew had been permitted. De Broglie
further remarked that the general body of Jews in Alsace was utterly
indifferent to citizenship; that the petition presented in their name
was an intrigue carried on by four or five Jews; especially one, who
had amassed a great fortune at the expense of the state (Cerf Berr),
was scattering large sums of money most liberally in Paris, to gain
adherents for the scheme of equalization. His motion to adjourn this
question till the Constitution was finished was carried.

But the Constitution was definitely fixed and ratified by the king
(September, 1791), and the German-speaking Jews of France did not
obtain the equality so often promised. Only the paragraph in the
"Rights of Man," which said that no one might be molested on account
of his religious opinions, benefited them. At last, a few days before
the dissolution of the National Assembly, the Jews were remembered
by one of the friends of liberty, Duport, a member of the Jacobin
Club, formerly a parliamentary councilor. In a speech of a few words
he procured the equality they so much desired. He drew the natural
conclusion from the above-quoted rights of religious freedom, and said,
"I believe that freedom of thought does not permit any distinction
in political rights on account of a man's creed. The recognition
of this equality is always being postponed. Meanwhile the Turks,
Moslems, and men of all sects, are permitted to enjoy political rights
in France. I demand that the motion for adjournment be withdrawn,
and a decree passed that the Jews in France enjoy the privileges of
citizenship (citoyens actifs)." This proposition was accepted amid
loud applause. In vain did Reubell strive to oppose the motion, he
was interrupted. Another member suggested that every one who spoke
against this motion be called to order, because he would be opposing
the Constitution itself. Thus the National Assembly adopted (September
27, 1791) Duport's proposal, and next day formulated the law that
all exceptional regulations against Jews be abrogated, and that the
German Jews be admitted to the oath of citizenship. Two days later
the National Assembly was dissolved, to make way for a still more
violent revolutionary assembly. A few days later Louis XVI confirmed
this full equalization of the French Jews (November 13, 1791). They
were not required to swerve one iota from their religion as the price
of emancipation; all demanded of them being that they forego certain
ancient privileges.

Berr Isaac Berr was justified in rejoicing at this success, in which he
had had a large share. He at once despatched a letter of congratulation
to his co-religionists, to rouse enthusiasm for their newly-attained
freedom, and at the same time incline them to appropriate improvements.

    "At length the day has arrived on which the veil is torn
    asunder which covered us with humiliation! We have at last
    again obtained the rights of which we have been deprived
    for eighteen centuries. How deeply at this moment should we
    recognize the wonderful grace of the God of our forefathers! On
    the 27th September we were the only inhabitants of this great
    realm who seemed doomed to eternal humiliation and slavery, and
    on the very next day, a memorable day which we shall always
    commemorate, didst Thou inspire these immortal legislators of
    France to utter one word which caused 60,000 unhappy beings,
    who had hitherto lamented their hard lot, to be suddenly
    plunged into the intoxicating joys of the purest delight."

    "God chose the noble French nation to reinstate us in our due
    privileges, and bring us to a new birth, just as in former days
    He selected Antiochus and Pompey to degrade and oppress us....
    This nation asks no thanks, except that we show ourselves
    worthy citizens."

Berr added certain important, timely remarks, in which he gently
pointed out to his French co-religionists faults growing out of their
former wretched plight, and admonished them to remove these faults.

He also supplied the French Jews with means to enable them to become
thorough Frenchmen and at the same time remain members of the House
of Jacob. The Bible was to be rendered into French on the basis of
Mendelssohn's German translation, and put into the hands of the young,
so that the corrupt German language which they used might be completely
banished from their midst. Berr thus attacked a foolish prejudice which
regarded the German or Jewish-German dialect as akin in sanctity to
the Hebrew, therefore a more worthy organ for Divine Service than the
language of Voltaire.

Berr was thoroughly imbued with the conviction that Judaism was in
every way compatible with liberty, civilization, and patriotism for the
country which had restored to his co-religionists their rights as men.
Berr was a better disciple of Mendelssohn than David Friedländer and
the Berlin Jews.

With great assiduity and self-sacrifice, most of the French Jews
interested themselves in the welfare of the state which had given them
a fatherland, liberty, and equality. They destroyed at one blow all
the calumniations of their opponents, who had asserted that as Jews
they would not be able to fulfill the duties of citizens. They came to
the front whenever the state stood in need of help. A large number of
Jews in this feverish time calling forth courageous action, threw aside
with wonderful rapidity the shy, grovelling manner which had debarred
them from intercourse with the world, and had subjected them to general
ridicule. When the French legions, inspired by freedom, had put to
rout the mercenary troops of Germany, Moses Ensheim, the Hebrew poet
of the Mendelssohn school, composed a fiery triumphal hymn, similar to
the song of Deborah, which was solemnly chanted in the synagogue. The
Jews, however, took no part whatever in the bloody atrocities of the

In the frenzy of the Reign of Terror, which like a scourge of God
fell upon the innocent and the guilty, some Jews also suffered. The
familiarity of the Jews with persecutions, their acuteness, and the
dexterity with which they effaced themselves, their obedience to the
precept, "Bend thy head a moment, till the storm is passed," protected
them against wide-spread massacre. In general, they were not stirred by
the ambition to thrust themselves forward, or a desire to take part in
affairs; nor did they give offense to the rulers of the hour. Thus the
storm of the Revolution rushed over them without serious results.

The attack upon a belief in God, when the two blaspheming deputies,
Chaumette and Hebert, succeeded in inducing the convention (November,
1793-May, 1794) to set up the religion of Reason, had likewise
no effect upon the Jews. The intense hostility and anger felt to
religion and the Divinity were directed only against Catholicism, or
Christianity, by whose servants mankind had ever been degraded, who
themselves had sacrificed myriads of victims, and during the Revolution
had fomented a civil war. The Reign of Terror, the Massacre of
September, and the Guillotine, had been conjured up by them almost as
a sad, stern necessity, because, together with the feudal aristocracy,
they were bitter enemies of freedom. The decree of the Convention ran
thus: "The Catholic faith is annulled, and replaced by the worship of
Reason." This represented not alone the mood of the most advanced, the
Jacobins; it was the inclination of the French people to oppose the
Church and its followers fiercely, because of a feeling that they are
naturally hostile to liberty. Twenty days after the resolution of the
Convention had been passed, more than 2,300 churches were transformed
into Temples of Reason. The law included no provisions against Jews
and Protestants. Only the magistrates or fanatically inclined members
of clubs in the provinces, principally, it appears, in the old German
districts, extended the order for the suppression of religion to the
Jews also. In Nancy an official demanded of the Jews of the town, in
the name of the city council, that they attend on an appointed day
at the National Temple, and together with the clergy of other creeds
renounce "their superstition," and further surrender all the silver
and golden vessels of the synagogue. Brutal and riotous men forced
their way into the synagogues, tore the Holy Writings from the Arks and
burnt them, or searched the houses for books written in Hebrew in order
to destroy them. Prayers in the synagogues of certain congregations
were forbidden just as in the churches. By reason of the spy system
which the revolutionary clubs supported, to enable them to oppose
the imminent counter-revolution, even private meetings for religious
purposes were attended with great danger. When the order of the
Convention was issued, decreeing that every tenth day be observed as
a day of rest, and making Sunday a working day, the Mayors of certain
cities, as of Strasburg and Troyes, extended this decree also to the
Sabbath. They commanded that Jewish merchants display their wares for
sale on the Sabbath. In agricultural districts Jews were compelled, on
the Sabbath and on Jewish Holidays, to mow and gather in the crops, and
rabbis as well as bishops were molested. David Sinzheim, who lived
in Strasburg, and afterwards became president of the great French
Synhedrion, was forced to flee from town to town to escape imprisonment
or death. In Metz the Jews dared not openly bake their Passover cakes,
until a clever Jewish matron had the courage to explain to the officers
of the Revolution that this bread had always been a symbol of freedom
with the Jews. In Paris Jewish schoolmasters were compelled to conduct
their pupils to the Temple of Reason into which the church of Notre
Dame had been transformed on the Décadi. However, this persecution
passed away without any serious effects. With the victory of the
Thermidorians (9 Thermidor--July 27, 1794) over Robespierre, the
Reign of Terror began to die out. The populace was anxious to resort
to milder means. The equalization of the French Jews, once definitely
settled, remained untouched through all changes of government. The new
Constitution of the year Three of the Republic, or the Constitution of
the Directory (autumn of 1795), recognized the adherents of Judaism,
without further difficulty, as on an equal footing with all around
them; moreover, it wiped away the last trace of inequality, inasmuch
as the Catholic Church was no more than the synagogue acknowledged to
be the state church. The law laid down the fundamental proposition,
that no one can be compelled to contribute to the expenses of a church
establishment, as the Republic subsidized none. Only the community of
Metz had to suffer under some baneful effects of the Middle Ages.

Together with the victorious French troops of the Republic, the
deliverance of the Jews, of the most oppressed race of the ancient
world, advanced from one place to another. It took firm root in
Holland, which had been changed into a Batavian Republic (beginning
of 1795). Here several energetic Jews, among them Asser (Moses and
Carolus), De Lemon, and Bromet, had joined a club, called Felix
Libertate, which had taken the motto of the French Republic--Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity.

These state maxims were on the whole adopted by the assembled States
General (March 4, 1795). Although the 50,000 Jews of Holland, who
formed the thirty-ninth part of the whole population of the country,
and were divided into the Portuguese and German communities, might
justly have regarded this land as their Paradise, they had hitherto
been laboring under many disadvantages as compared with Christians.
They were suffered to exist only as corporate bodies, little
commonwealths, as it were, in the midst of larger ones. That they
were excluded from public offices did not trouble them. But they
were also debarred from several trade-guilds, and this was a matter
of great importance to them. They had to contribute to the ruling
church establishment and to its schools without deriving any benefit
therefrom. Also, there was no lack of vexatious grievances. In
Amsterdam, for instance, when a Jewish couple went to register their
wedding, they were compelled to wait till Christians had been attended
to, and, besides, to pay double fees. On this account the demand for
equalization became pressing, more on the part of the German than on
that of the Portuguese Jews, the latter, wealthy and of noble birth,
being generally treated with distinction by the patricians, whilst the
Germans were despised as wretched Poles. In the first excitement of the
agitation several disabilities of the Jews of Holland or Batavia were
removed, and voices were raised in favor of their admission to full
civil rights. But later on, as in France, writings hostile to the Jews
roused public opinion against them. Amongst these Van Swieden's work,
entitled "Advice to the Representatives of the People," especially
produced a great impression.

He asserted that owing to their origin, their character, their history,
and their belief in the Messiah, the Jews remained strangers, and could
not be absorbed by the state. This statement was in a measure accepted
by the official representatives of Judaism as correct. For strangely
enough the rabbis and administrators of Jewish affairs, especially the
powerful Parnassim in Amsterdam, alike in the Portuguese and German
communities, were averse to equalization. They feared that Judaism
would suffer from the great freedom of the Jews and from their new
duties, such as military service.

In a circular letter they declared that the Jews renounced citizenship,
seeing that it was opposed to the commands of Holy Writ. Within
a short time this declaration was covered with more than one
thousand signatures. Although Jews were invited, but few took part
in the election of the first Batavian National Assembly (Nationale
Vergadering). Thus it happened that Amsterdam, which contained more
than 20,000 Jews, did not return a single Jewish deputy. The Jewish
friends of liberty in Holland were in a sorry plight, having to combat
enemies within and without. They were driven to exert all their
energy to overcome this double difficulty. David Friedrichsfeld, a
member of the school of the Measfim, who had settled in Amsterdam,
composed an excellent work (about 1795) against the assailants of
the Jews, called "Investigation of Van Swieden's Work in Reference
to the Civil Rights of the Jews." Beside him, six distinguished and
intelligent Jews--most of them of German descent--developed the
greatest zeal to accomplish the emancipation of the Jews of Holland.
They were: Herz Bromet, who had long lived in Surinam, where he was
recognized as a free citizen, and whence he had brought a knowledge of
politics and a fortune; Moses Asser, who had been appointed knight of
the Belgian Order of the Lion; another Asser, Carolus, and Isaac de
Jonghe, all distinguished members of the German community. Only two
of the Portuguese community participated in the endeavor to obtain
equalization of rights: the highly respected physician Herz de Lemon,
and Jacob Sasportas. They presented a petition to the Batavian National
Assembly (March 29, 1796), which held its sittings at the Hague,
demanding the emancipation of the Batavian Jews as a right; inasmuch as
they were citizens of the Batavian Republic, possessing the franchise,
and had already exercised civil rights, they prayed the Assembly to
declare that they might enjoy this privilege in its entirety. The
National Assembly considered the petition, and appointed a commission
to advise and decide upon it. When the Jewish question came on for
discussion (August, 1796), excitement ran high, and the tension between
the parties was great.

Although the emancipation of the Jews in the Batavian Republic had been
recognized in principle, and practically acknowledged by the permission
to vote at the election, there were still many opponents to contend
against, almost more than in France. The conservative Dutch deputies
in their hearts believed firmly in the Bible, and they considered as
the word of God the writings of the New Testament, in which it was said
that the Jews were outcasts, and should remain so. The relatively large
number of Jews, their wealth, respectability, and intelligence, gave
cause for grave fears that they would make their way into the highest
offices of the state, and expel the Christians. Sixty or a hundred
thousand Jews, in the great territory of France, were lost like a grain
of sand in an immense plain, but fifty thousand among two millions,
especially twenty thousand Jews in Amsterdam among two hundred thousand
Christians, might make themselves felt, and effect their purpose. One
of the deputies, Lublink de Jonghe, dwelt upon this state of affairs
with great emphasis. If the friends of the Jews pointed to America,
where, as in France, they had recently attained to full civil rights,
then he brought into prominence the unequal proportion of numbers; in
Holland their great number would soon invest the populace with Jewish
characteristics. The noble Portuguese might be admitted to full rights;
but as to the German Jews, the majority of whom were outcasts, Lublink
de Jonghe quoted Pinto's work against Voltaire, in which he, a Jew
himself, had plainly shown the vast difference between the Portuguese
and the German Jews. Thus the artificial caste feeling, within the fold
of Judaism, brought about its own revenge. The fear was still greater
that the number of the Jews in Holland might be considerably increased
by immigrants from Germany and Poland, whose goal, for a long time
past, had been Amsterdam. Opponents to the scheme of equalization could
further adduce the argument that the majority of Jews did not desire
emancipation, and that the six petitioners had acted without authority.
Noel, the French ambassador, in somewhat imperious fashion, took the
first step in favor of the equalization of the Jews. After a long
debate, the complete equality of the Batavian Jews was finally decreed
(September 2, 1796), with the addition, for those who wished to make
use of it. Thereupon all earlier provincial and municipal laws which
referred to their disabilities were abolished.

The Jews in Holland did not receive the announcement of this decision
with joy, as those in France, when the rights of equality had been
granted them. They had not felt the deprivation of liberty enough to go
into ecstasies about their new freedom. They had no ambition to obtain
state offices, and saw in citizenship only a burden and a danger to
religion. They therefore were embittered against those who had procured
their equalization, and so had broken asunder the bonds which held
the two congregations together as corporate bodies. Thus there arose
causes for dispute and internal dissension in Amsterdam.

The liberal-minded, most of whom belonged to the German community,
demanded that the regulations which endowed the rabbis, and to a
greater extent the Parnassim, or wardens, with powerful authority
over the members, should be altered in accordance with the spirit
of the age. The leaders of the community not only refused this
demand, but even threatened the petitioners with fines. Upon this
the advanced left the existing synagogue, established their own
congregation, and declared that they constituted the real community
(Adath Jeshurun, formed at the end of 1796). The conservative members
of the old community thereupon passed a kind of interdict upon the
separatists, forbade their own congregants to have any intercourse,
or to intermarry with them. The political divergence of opinion at
the same time became a religious one; for the supporters of the new
congregation, Adath Jeshurun, initiated a sort of reform. They struck
out of their ritual the formula of imprecation (v'la-Malshinim), which
had originally been directed against the apostate Jewish Christians,
but by misinterpretation was afterwards applied to all Christians.
They abolished the practice of hastily burying the dead, and erected
a new, clean communal bath,--innocent reforms, which, however, were
regarded by the strictly orthodox as grave offenses against Judaism.
The new congregation succeeded in having the fanatical leaders of the
German community, who were more inconsiderate than the Portuguese in
their opposition to those who had withdrawn from their midst, removed
from their posts, probably through the action of the French ambassador
Noel. Among the new council officers, members of the new congregation
were elected. Gradually many of the old party became reconciled to
the new order of things and to the aspirations of the liberal-minded
section. The orthodox were also greatly flattered when two Jews, Bromet
and De Lemon, were elected as deputies for Amsterdam. Several attended
at the Hague at the opening of the second National Assembly (September
1, 1797), to participate in the honor of the Jewish deputies. They
were still more pleased with the idea of equalization when the Jewish
deputy, Isaac da Costa Atias, was successively elected a member of the
city council, of the National Assembly, and finally to the position of
President of the same (1798). The head of the Batavian Republic, the
Grand Pensioner Schimmelpenink, was in earnest about the emancipation
of the Jews, and without hesitation appointed able Jews to public
offices. The first appointment to public posts in Europe was made in

It was natural that a sense of self-importance and honorable pride
should be awakened in the breasts of the liberal members of the new
congregation, among whom state offices were distributed. Indignation
seized them when they saw that the Jews under the German princes
were still treated as outcasts or wild beasts. They therefore laid a
proposal before the National Assembly, entreating that the Batavian
ambassador to the French Republic be instructed to move at the Peace
Congress held at Rastadt, that the Dutch Jews in Germany should no
longer be compelled to pay poll-tax, and to threaten that, unless this
was granted, all Germans journeying through Holland would be subjected
to the same dishonorable treatment. The National Assembly agreed to
this proposition.

Righteous judgment soon overtook the German princes and people, who,
stubborn as Pharaoh and the Egyptians, refused to loosen the chain of
slavery from the Jews. They themselves were soon forced to become the
_servi cameræ_ of the French Republic, and to pay a poll-tax. Wherever
in Germany and Italy the courageous French obtained firm footing, the
Jews were made free. The walls of the Ghetto were burst open, and bent
figures stood erect.

The name of the invincible French, who had achieved wonderful victories
in Italy, quickly spread abroad, even beyond Europe, and aroused
terror and surprise in the most remote countries. A new Alexander,
the Corsican Bonaparte, a god of war when scarcely thirty years old,
set out with a comparatively small army to subdue Egypt, and hoped to
penetrate to India. In less than six months (July-November, 1798) Egypt
lay crushed at his feet. But a Turkish army was on its way to meet
him, against which Bonaparte advanced into Palestine. Thus, through a
marvelous series of historical events, the Holy Land became the scene
of a bloody war between the representatives of the old and the new
spirit in Europe.

El Arish and Gaza in the south-west of Palestine fell into the hands
of the French army, which scarcely numbered 12,000 men (17th and 25th
February, 1799). The Jewish community of Gaza had fled. In Jerusalem
the news of French victories and cruelty created a panic. It was
rumored that Napoleon was about to enter the Holy City. At the command
of the sub-pasha, or Motusallim, the inhabitants began to throw up
ramparts, the Jews taking part in the work. One of their rabbis,
Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas, encouraged and even assisted them in their
operations. The Turks had circulated the report that the French treated
Jews particularly in a cruel manner. Bonaparte had issued a summons to
the Asiatic and African Jews to march under his banners, promising to
give them the Holy Land, and restore ancient Jerusalem to its pristine
splendor. But the Jews in Jerusalem appear either not to have trusted
in these flattering words, or to have been utterly ignorant of the
proclamation. Probably it was only a trick on the part of Bonaparte,
intended to win over to his side the Jewish minister of the pasha of
Acco, Chayim Maalem Farchi (assassinated in 1820), the soul of the
defense of the important sea-fortress of Acco. Had Bonaparte succeeded
in conquering Syria and carrying the war into the heart of Turkey, he
would perhaps have assigned a share in his government to members of
the Jewish nation upon whom the French could rely. But the appearance
of Bonaparte in Palestine was like that of a terrible meteor, which
disappears after causing much devastation. His dream to become Emperor
of the East, and restore Jerusalem to the Jews, quickly faded away.

The glowing enthusiasm for France, where his enthralled co-religionists
had been freed, had created a Jewish poet in Elia Halevi, while a
Jewish youth was aroused to become a spirited orator, whose eloquence
was always tinged with poetry. Michael Berr (born 1780, died 1843),
a worthy son of Isaac Berr, who had so zealously striven for the
emancipation of the Jews of France, in his youth aroused great hopes,
by reason of his handsome, noble form, and his manifold talents. In
him for the first time Jewish and French spirit met in harmonious
combination. He was the first Jewish attorney in France. Animated
by the ambition of courageous youth and in the glow of his fiery
spirit, this young man conceived a bold idea, at the beginning of the
new century, when peace was concluded. A Congress of the princes of
Europe was expected to take place. To them and their people Michael
Berr addressed a "Summons" in the name of "all the inhabitants of
Europe professing the Jewish religion," praying them to free his
co-religionists from oppression, and to guarantee to them the justice
so long withheld. This youth voiced the hopes of rejuvenated Israel.
Berr's summons was especially directed to the Germans, both to princes
and nations, who still treated the Jews living in their midst as
branded _servi cameræ_.

Berr, who was inspired with love for his co-religionists, preached
to deaf ears, his burning words and convincing arguments finding no
response in the hearts of the Eastern European people. In Austria,
Prussia, and the numerous smaller German states, the Jews remained in
their former abasement. In Berlin itself, the seat of enlightenment,
Jewish physicians, however honorable their reputation, were not
included in the list of their Christian fellow-practitioners, but were
enumerated by themselves, relegated, as it were, to a medical Ghetto.
Two men of the first rank, the greatest poet and the greatest thinker
of the time, Göthe and Fichte, shared in the prejudices of the Germans
against the Jews, and made no secret of it. Göthe, the representative
of the aristocratic world, and Fichte, the defender of democratic
opinion in Germany, both desired to see the Jews removed like plague
patients beyond the pale of Christian society. Both were on bad terms
with the Church, both looked upon Christianity with its belief in
miracles as a folly, and both were considered atheists. Nevertheless
they abhorred the Jews in the name of Jesus. Göthe's intolerance
against the Jews cannot be taken as the expression of his personal
prejudice; he only showed how the current of opinion flowed in cultured
German circles.

Fichte, the one-sided complement of Kant, was still more savage and
embittered against the Jews. Like most German metaphysicians, his
philosophy was of a visionary nature before the outbreak of the French

Apparently Fichte bestowed great honor upon the Jews when he put them
on a level with the nobility and the clergy. But he did not wish in any
way to honor them, but rather to accuse them before the bar of public
opinion. Fichte, the philosophical thinker, cherished the same ill-will
against the Jews and Judaism as Göthe, the aristocratic poet, and
Schleiermacher, the Gnostic preacher.

Should civil rights be granted to Jews? Fichte opposed it in a most
decided fashion; not even in the Christian state, in his view a petty
state, contrary to right and reason, should they be emancipated. "The
only way I see by which civil rights can be conceded to them (the Jews)
is to cut off all their heads in one night, and to set new ones on
their shoulders, which should contain not a single Jewish idea. The
only means of protecting ourselves against them is to conquer their
promised land and send them thither." History judged otherwise: new
heads have not been set on the Jews, but on the Germans themselves.
His view was that Jews should not be persecuted, that, in fact, the
rights of men should be granted them, "because they are men," but that
they should be banished altogether. Even the clerical opponents of
emancipation in France, Abbé Maury and Bishop La Fare, had not spoken
of the Jews in so perverse and hateful a manner. Fichte may be regarded
as the father and apostle of national German hatred of the Jews, of
a kind unknown before, or rather never before so clearly manifested.
Even Herder, although filled with admiration for Israel's antiquity and
the people in its biblical splendor,--the first to examine sacred
literature from a poetical point of view--felt an aversion to the
Jews, which became apparent in his relations with Mendelssohn, whom it
cost him an effort to treat in a friendly manner. Herder, it is true,
prophesied a better time, when Christian and Jew would work together in
concord on the structure of human civilization. But like Balaam of old,
he pronounced his blessings upon Israel in a half-hearted way. This
growing hostility to the Jews among the Germans was not noticed by
educated Jews who dwelt in their midst, at least they did not combat it
vigorously. Only one pamphlet from the pen of a Jewish author appeared
at this time. Saul Asher wrote his "Eisenmenger the Second, an open
letter to Fichte," but hardly any notice was taken of it.

If the Jews met with no favor in the eyes of those who formed public
opinion in Germany, who had raised it from antiquated customs to
a brilliant height of culture, both in the democratic and in the
aristocratic camps, but experienced at their hands only repulse and
scorn, how much worse was their relation to the great mass of the
populace, still engulfed in the depths of darkest ignorance and
crudeness! Two noble-minded Christians addressed to the Congress
of Rastadt the soundest arguments that the German Jews should be
raised from their ignominious condition. One of them, an unknown
philanthropist, hurled the shaft of ridicule at the stupidity and
bombastic haughtiness of the German Jew-haters, and the other,
Christian Grund, demonstrated with pitiless logic the injustice with
which the Jews were treated. Both desired to support the demand of
the Dutch Jews to the diplomatic representatives, that the princes
of Germany be compelled to respect the Jews, and that influence be
brought to bear upon public opinion to that effect. Grund acted as a
clever advocate for the Jews; he complimented the Germans in order to
win favor with them. "The German Jews," said he, "venture to approach
the German nation, capable of great deeds, the creator of its own
destinies, not merely an imitator of the actions of other peoples,
uniting their voice with that of their brethren, to petition the
representatives of the nation at Rastadt most respectfully for the
abolition of those distinctions under which they live, and for the
acquisition of greater rights." The answer of the German princes and
rulers was not very encouraging.

The most disgraceful degradation and humiliation of the Jews consisted
in the poll-tax, an impost unknown outside of Germany. Of what
advantage was it that Emperor Joseph of Austria and Frederick William
II had remitted it? It still existed in all its hideousness in Central
and Western Germany, in the districts of the Main and the Rhine, where
diminutive states bordered close on other diminutive states of the
extent of a square mile, and where turnpike after turnpike at short
intervals presented itself. If a Jew took a day's journey, he passed
through different territories, and at the borders of each had to
pay a poll-tax. A Jewish beggar, accompanied by his young son, once
exhibited his poll-tax bills, which amounted to a florin and a half for
six days, paid in various places. The way in which the tax was levied
was more degrading than the duty of paying it. Very often the tax
amounted to a few kreuzers, which only the poor, who were not exempt
from it, felt as a burden. But the brutal procedure of the officers,
and the ignominious treatment at each frontier-line offended also the
rich. As long as the French armies were encamped in German territory,
the Jews escaped paying the poll-tax. But no sooner was the peace of
Lüneville concluded, and the French troops withdrawn, than the petty
German princes re-imposed the tax, not in order to raise the small
income derivable from this source, but to humiliate the Jews. They
inflicted the insult also upon French Jews who crossed the Rhine for
business purposes, defending their action by a literal construction
of one of the articles of the peace of Campo Formio, which stated:
"All business and intercourse shall for the present continue under the
same conditions as before the war." The French Jews, proud of their
citizenship, would not submit, severed their business connections with
Germany, and complained of the injustice to the French government,
by whom the question was not lightly passed over. The government
commissioner Jollivet despatched a circular letter (1801) to the agents
of the French Republic resident at German courts, instructing them not
to permit French citizens of the Israelite faith to be degraded to
animals. They were to make earnest representations to the governments
concerned, and menace them with retaliation. Several small princes,
like those of Solms, gave heed, and forthwith removed the poll-tax;
from fear of the French the French Jews were freed from it, but it
still weighed heavily upon German travelers. Every step towards the
removal of oppressive restrictions in Germany was the result of great

In consequence of the peace of Lüneville, the Holy Roman Empire
was now for the first time dismembered. The representatives of the
Empire, assembled in Ratisbon, were driven to seek means of bringing
their disunited members into some sort of order, or to decide upon
the indemnity for the damage suffered. To this conference of the
ambassadors of eight princes, occupied with traffic in territory,
and regarded by the short-sighted as representing the German nation,
the German Jews presented a petition asking for passive citizenship
(November 15, 1802). This entreaty was drawn up "in the name of
the Jews of Germany," by state attorney Christopher Grund. Which
congregation, or what individuals zealous for emancipation had
commissioned him to do this is not exactly known. It appears that the
petition originated in Frankfort. It prayed that the representatives
of the Empire remove from the German Jews the burdensome distinctions
under which they labored; that the narrow confines in which they were
forced to reside be thrown open, so that for the sake of health and
free enjoyment of life, they might select their own dwelling-place
in the cities. Further, that the bonds by which their population,
their trade, and their industry were restricted to a fatal degree
be loosened, and that, in short, the Jewish community be considered
worthy, by the grant of civil rights, to constitute one united people
with the German nation. The Jews, or their attorney Grund, cited the
fact that they were "classed with dishonorable persons, outlaws, and
serfs." The miserable condition of the Frankfort community, which,
after the orders promulgated for the regulation of the town in 1616,
had been deprived of natural freedom, and crowded together into the
narrowest limits, served as a conclusive proof. The example of France
and the Batavian Republic in emancipating the Jews was adduced; but
the Jews could hardly have deceived themselves with the fond hope that
the representatives of the Empire would concede so much to them. They
hoped at least to have one restriction removed, viz., that of the
poll-tax, and this point was insisted upon with great vigor. "The most
degrading of all these disabilities," they said, "is the poll-tax,
which removes the name of Jew from the category of rational beings, to
place it among wild beasts, and forces him to pay his way when he sets
foot upon one soil or another." Contrary to expectation, this petition
to the representatives of the Empire was handed in and supported by
the most distinguished member among them, the ambassador from the
Electorate of Bohemia or Austria. He proposed the motion "that the Jews
of Germany be allowed civil rights" (at the end of 1802). Meantime the
Indemnification Congress had other affairs to engross its attention,
and its members were unable to occupy themselves with the Jewish
question. The petition was buried under a pile of state papers.

Nothing was to be expected from the German people, as those who watched
the course of affairs readily perceived. The Jews therefore directed
their zeal towards inducing the various governments to remit the
poll-tax. Two men made their names famous in the struggle to remove
this odious impost, viz., Israel Jacobson and Wolff Breidenbach. The
former, court agent and finance counselor to the Prince of Brunswick,
succeeded in procuring the abolition of the poll-tax in the territories
of Brunswick-Lüneburg (April 23, 1803). During a number of years Wolff
Breidenbach strove in the same cause, and effected more far-reaching
results. Breidenbach was born in a village of that name near Cassel,
1751, and died at Offenbach 1829. He was a man of high culture, noble
ideals, and so modest that his name has almost been forgotten in spite
of all the sacrifices he made on behalf of the German Jews. He did not,
like Jacobson, make provisions to have his name spread far and wide.

Deeply moved by the annoyances, and the contemptuous treatment
inflicted on Jewish travelers in places where the tax was imposed,
which came daily under the notice of Breidenbach in his business
journeys, he determined at least to have the poll-tax remitted, and
applied himself with all his energy to this task. Quietly he strove to
have the chain loosened, where it weighed most heavily. He perceived
that large sums of money would be required to provide presents for the
police magistrates and the city clergy under the pretense of giving
alms to the poor, and also "to erect beautiful monuments in honor
of magnanimous princes" who would allow themselves to be influenced
to leave the Jews untaxed and unoppressed. He was not able to meet
this enormous expense out of his own means. He therefore issued a
summons to German and foreign Jews (September, 1803), asking them to
subscribe to a fund, from which the cost of abolishing the poll-tax
might be defrayed. It was well known at the time who circulated this
appeal, but out of modesty, Breidenbach did not append his name. By
these means, and through negotiations with the minor German princes
at the Diet in Ratisbon, carried on with the friendly help of the
imperial chancellor, Dalberg, and finally by the recommendations of the
princes themselves, who learned to esteem him, Breidenbach succeeded
in obtaining the right of free passage for the Jews throughout the
Rhineland and Bavaria. Even the narrow-minded, Jew-hating, most noble
council of Frankfort was moved by Breidenbach's petition to abolish the
poll-tax exacted at the gates and bridges.

The petition of the Jews to the representatives of the Empire for
civil privileges, however restricted, the feeling displayed by
several princes in favor of removing their bonds, and other signs,
made the Jew-haters of Germany suspect that the old condition of
imperial serfdom would soon vanish. They were terror-struck; they
could not conceive the idea that the down-trodden Jews should be
raised from their abasement in Germany. This painful idea induced a
host of authors, most of them jurists, as if by mutual agreement, to
employ all their efforts in various parts of Germany in opposing the
deliverance of the Jews from slavery. Among these men were Paalzow,
Grattenauer, Buchholz, and many anonymous writers, who persisted in
their hostility for several years (1803-1805). They displayed hatred
to the Jews, so malignant that it savored of the days of the Black
Death, of Capistrano, Pfefferkorn, and the Dominicans. They produced
an artificial fog, to prevent the spread of rays of enlightenment. In
former days it had been the servants of the church who had branded
the Jews with dishonor. Now the priests of justice assumed this part,
and by perversion of justice sought to keep the Jews in servitude,
for which course Fichte had prepared the way. As soon as the petition
of the Jews reached the representatives of the Empire in Ratisbon, a
jurist of South Germany opposed it, urging that a thousand reasons
existed why Jews were unworthy of becoming citizens of the Empire
and the provinces. The greater number and the most obstinate of
the representatives of this Jew-baiting movement had their seat in
Berlin, the city of enlightenment and of the Christianity taught by
Schleiermacher. The character, teachings, and history of the Jews, even
their prophets and patriarchs, in fact, everything Jewish, was attacked
by these cowardly writers, most of whom wrote anonymously, and was made
the subject of foulest abuse and vituperation.

The leaders of Berlin Judaism were at a loss how to oppose these
systematic onslaughts. David Friedländer remained silent. Ben-David
resolved to write an answer, but wisely abstained. The parts were now
changed. In the days of Mendelssohn, and for some time afterwards,
the German Jews had acted as guardians to the French Jews whenever
the latter had any grievances to redress. Now freedom had made the
French Jews so powerful and confident that they repulsed every attack
upon themselves and their belief with courage and skill. The Berlin
Jews, who had always been ready enough to boast of their courage, at
the first hostile attack found themselves helpless as babes. In their
perplexity they solicited the aid of the police, who issued an order
that no pamphlet either for or against the Jews should be published.
This step was regarded by their antagonists as a sign of cowardice or
a confession of powerlessness. A new abusive tract, entitled "Can the
Jews remain in their present condition without harm to the state?" gave
additional weight to the accusations against them.

    "What were a number of the most wealthy Jews or their fathers
    twenty or thirty years ago? Hawkers, who crawled about the
    streets in ragged clothes, annoying the passers-by with
    their importunity to buy some yards of Potsdam hair riband;
    or rustics, who, under the pretext of trading, stole into
    Christian dwellings, and often did damage to their owners."

This writer proposed to render the Jews harmless by means more
revolting than those employed in the Middle Ages.

    "Not only must the Jews again be enclosed in a Ghetto, and be
    placed under continual police supervision; not only should
    they be compelled to wear a patch of noticeable color upon
    their coat sleeves, but in order to prevent their increase, the
    second male child of each Jew should be castrated."

Protestant theology and German philosophy proposed regulations against
the Jews unrivaled by the canonical decrees of Popes Innocent III and
Paul IV.

In Breslau appeared similar libels which inflamed the hatred of the
populace against the Jews. Even the well-meaning writings composed in
their defense by Christians, such as Kosmann and Ramson--"A Word to
the Impartial"--admitted the low character of the Jews, and seemed
to imply that in every way it would be better for Christians if there
were no Jews among them; but seeing that the evil existed, it must be
endured. The honor of the Germans was partly redeemed by a man who
belonged to the olden time, Freiherr von Diebitsch, once a major in the
Russian service, to whom love of mankind was no empty phrase. He warmly
defended the Jews against the venomous attacks of Grattenauer and his
malicious allies (1803 and 1804), and thereby laid himself open to the
charge of having been bribed. In view of the general prejudice against
the Jewish race, he was prepared to see himself "caricatured, and
represented as riding upon a sow or an ass." His kindly but pedantic
pamphlets in defense of the Jews were not sufficient to close the
mouths of their opponents.

Equally inadequate and fruitless were the attempts at vindication made
by Jewish writers outside of Berlin, who found it necessary to lift
their voice in opposition to the general outcry against their people.

Two Jews, one from Königsberg, the other from Hamburg, hit upon an
excellent plan. Both recognized that the Jew hatred of the Germans
could not be refuted by solid and weighty arguments, but might
be silenced by ridicule. They were the forerunners of Börne and
Heine, one being an unknown physician, the other writing anonymously
(Lefrank). The former, in a satirical pamphlet written under the name
of Dominicus Haman Epiphanes, expressed the opinion that unless all
Jews were speedily massacred, and all Jewesses sold as slaves, the
world, Christianity, and all states, must necessarily perish. Mankind
would benefit enormously by the sale of the Jews: all immorality
would thereby at once diminish, and the immortal Grattenauer, who had
originated the glorious idea and had disseminated his noble abhorrence
of the Jews, would everywhere be acknowledged a benefactor of mankind,
and be deservedly commemorated by temples and monuments.

The other satirist, Lefrank, called his work "Bellerophon," (or the
defeated Grattenauer). He wished to kill the chimerical monster "Jew
hatred" in Grattenauer by mounting Pegasus. He addressed the Jew-baiter
with the scornful "thou."

    "Thou who hast grafted with so much success jurisprudence upon
    theology, thou who didst lick salt in Halle--not indeed Attic
    salt--thou who hast studied ignorance and stupidity under the
    great Semler, if thou art so proud of thy Christianity, that
    with contempt thou dost look down upon Jews, then pray let me
    ask thee why thy prisons are crammed with criminals condemned
    upon charges of high treason, murder, poisoning, robbery,
    and adultery? First remove from thy midst the scaffold, the
    gallows, the rack, the scourge, and all the ghastly instruments
    of torture and death, not one of which was invented by Jews.
    Divest thyself of the demon, and then wilt thou pity a people
    condemned to engage in traffic against its will, and accused
    because it does traffic. Deceit is said to be a widespread vice
    among Jews. Thy Christian tailor robs thee, thy bootmaker gives
    thee bad leather, thy grocer false measure and weight, thy
    baker despite prosperous harvests undersized loaves. Thy wine
    is adulterated, thy man-servant and thy maid-servant combine
    to cheat thee. Thou thyself--in the innocence of thy heart
    --offerest for sale wretched lies and spiteful malice written
    upon blotting-paper, for six farthings, which are not worth
    six pins, and thou darest assert that fraud is peculiar to
    Jews. See whether among all the bankruptcies now occurring in
    London and Paris there is a single Jewish failure." "Thou dost
    foolishly repeat the silly prattle of the great Fichte, when
    thou dost remark that the Jews constitute a state within the
    state. Thou canst not forgive the Jews the crime of speaking
    correct German, of dressing more respectably, and often judging
    more justly than thou. They no longer wear beards, which
    thou canst pull; they no longer speak gibberish, which thou
    mightest mimic.... The Jew for over twenty years has striven
    to approach the Christian, but how has he been received? How
    many alterations has he made in his canonical laws to be able
    to join you; but from pure humanity ye turn your backs upon
    him.... Yet thy pamphlet appears to me to be a good omen. The
    average man believes that winter can be parted from summer only
    by terrible thunder and hail-storms. Thus is it with thee.
    Persecution, fanaticism, and superstition are at their last
    gasp, and by mighty raging make their final effort through
    thee, before their spirit becomes entirely quenched."

The self-confidence manifested by Lefrank was the surest sign of the
ultimate victory of the Jews.

Under existing conditions, in view of the fact that the Jews were apt
to underrate and despise their own power, the hope of emancipation was
deceptive. In Protestant as well as in Catholic countries, in Prussia
as well as in Austria, the people were even more blindly opposed to
them than their princes. That an Austrian voice might not be wanting
in the chorus of Jew-baiters, a German-Austrian official, named Joseph
Rohrer (1804), wrote against the "Jew people." He drew a dreadful
picture, especially of the Jews of Galicia, without hinting that the
Galician peasants were in a still lower state, and that the nobility
was more degenerate than either class. Paalzow, Grattenauer, Buchholz,
Rohrer, and their allies succeeded in their design. The idea of the
emancipation of the Jews in Germany could not yet be entertained.
With all his zeal, Breidenbach could not effect the abolition of
the capitation-tax in all places. It still remained in force, a sad
reminder and disgrace, in certain German provinces. Cannon had to be
brought into the field to destroy these putrefying, deeply implanted

A ray of light from the sun of freedom shining on the Jews of France
penetrated even to Russia. The heart of Emperor Alexander I was filled
with mercy towards the numberless Jews dwelling in his kingdom. He
appointed a commission to consider a proposal for improving their
condition. But a Russian commission takes time over its work, and
after two years' careful consideration of the interests of Christians,
and of the most effectual way of benefiting the Israelites, an ukase
was at length published in 1804. By this law, farmers, manufacturers,
artisans, those who had acquired a university education, or who
had visited the upper or lower schools, were exempt from the
exceptional laws against Jews. To wean them from using the jargon,
special privileges were granted to those who would learn one of
three languages--Russian, Polish, or German. The culture of the Jews
within his kingdom was desired by Alexander, who hoped that another
Mendelssohn would spring from their midst. Attendance at schools was
not enforced; it therefore depended on the Jewish community to support
boys' schools (Chedarim) as best they could. Nor could it be otherwise
amongst the millions of serfs in Russia, not one of whom was permitted
to visit a school.

A limitation was, however, introduced at that time which nullified all
privileges in favor of the Jews. Those who dwelt in the country were
ordered to depart within a short space of time and crowd together in
the cities. Cruel subtlety dictated this order. The Polish landowners,
who from indolence had given over the care of their breweries and the
sale of produce to industrious and trustworthy Jewish managers and
farmers, were ruined by the removal of the Jews from the villages,
and thus rendered incapable of revolt. This law could not be carried
out for the time being, but remained in existence as a dead letter,
until later days. The worst result was that the Jews were treated
as strangers, although they had been more than half a century in
the Polish provinces. Naturally they did not advance in culture,
being hindered and persecuted by Rabbinism, and even more so by



  Jew-Hatred in Strasburg--Bonald's Accusations--Plots against
    French Jews--Furtado--David Sinzheim--Assembly of Notables
    --Italian Deputies--The Twelve Questions--Debate on
    Mixed Marriages--The Paris Synhedrion--Its Constitution
    --Napoleon's Enactments--Israel Jacobson--Consistory of
    Westphalia--Emancipation in Germany--In the Hanse-Towns--
    Restrictions in Saxony.

1806-1813 C. E.

Since the days of the Romans, the world had not witnessed such sudden
changes and catastrophes as in the beginning of this century, when a
new Empire was founded with the intention of establishing a universal
monarchy. All the powers bent even lower before Napoleon, Emperor of
the French, than before the First Consul Bonaparte. The pope, who
in his heart cursed him and the whole new order, did not hesitate
to anoint him successor to Charlemagne. The German princes were the
first to recognize cringingly this innovation, the elevation of an
upstart over themselves. As if Napoleon by contact with the Germans
during his wars against Austria and Prussia had become infected with
their Jew-hatred, his feelings with reference to them from that time
underwent a change. Although he had before shown admiration for the
venerable antiquity and gigantic struggles of the Jewish race, he now
displayed a positive dislike to them. His unfavorable attitude towards
the Jews was used by the Germans in Alsace to induce him to deprive the
French Jews of their privileges and reduce them to their former state
of abasement.

The storms of the Revolution had put an end to the old accusations
against the Jews of Alsace. Jewish creditors, usurers, Christian
debtors were alike impoverished by the Reign of Terror; the olden times
were swept away. When quiet was restored, many Jews, who through their
energy had acquired some property again, went back to their former
trades. What else could they do? To commence to learn handicrafts
and agriculture could not be expected of men advanced in years. Even
young men found it difficult, as bigoted Christian employers in the
German-speaking provinces did not care to take Jewish apprentices. A
numerous class of the populace of Alsace offered well-to-do Jews a
source of income. The peasants and day-laborers, before the Revolution
serfs, had been liberated through it, but possessed no means wherewith
to purchase land and commence work. Their cattle and even their
implements of agriculture were lost during the stormy years; and many
of them had fled to escape military service. These peasants, on the
return of peace, had addressed themselves to Jews for advances of
money, to obtain small parcels of the national land for cultivation.

The Jewish men of substance had responded, and probably demanded high
rates of interest. The peasants, however, were not the losers, for,
although originally destitute of means, they had greatly improved
their condition. In a few years their possessions in landed property
amounted to 60 million francs, the sixth part of which they owed to
Jews. It was, indeed, hard for the peasants of Alsace to obtain ready
money to discharge debts to their Jewish creditors, especially as the
wars of Bonaparte called them away from the plough to bear arms, and
many lawsuits ensued against the debtors. The Strasburg Trade Court of
Justice alone, during the years 1802-4, had to decide upon summonses
for debt between Jewish creditors and Christian debtors amounting to
800,000 francs. The defaulting peasants were sentenced to hand over
their fields and vineyards to the Jewish creditors, some of whom may
have acted harshly in these matters.

These circumstances were made use of by the Jew-haters. They
generalized the misdeeds of the Jews, exaggerated the sufferings of
the Christian debtors forced to pay, and stamped the Jews as usurers
and bloodsuckers, so as to deprive the French Jews living in their
provinces of their recently-acquired equalization, or if possible to
prepare some worse fate for them. As at all times, the citizens of the
German town of Strasburg took the most prominent part in this movement
against the Jews. They had made a vain attempt to keep the Jews out
of their city and to persecute them during the Reign of Terror. With
fierce rage they beheld the number of Jewish immigrants increase. There
were no Jewish usurers in their midst; on the contrary, there were
wealthy, highly respected, and educated Jews, such as the families
of Cerf Berr, Ratisbonne, and Picard, most of whom lived from their
estates. Nevertheless the people of Strasburg raised the loudest
clamors against the Jews, as if the latter were the cause of their
impoverishment. The prefect of Strasburg, a German, aided and abetted
the merchants. When Napoleon stayed in Strasburg (January, 1806), after
the campaign of a hundred days against Austria, he was besieged by
the prefect and a deputation of the people of Alsace with complaints
showing how harmful to the state were the Jews; how like a crowd of
ravens they ruined the Christian populace, so that whole villages
passed into the possession of Jewish usurers, how half the estates
of Alsace were mortgaged to Jewish creditors, and other malicious
charges. Napoleon thereupon called to mind that during his campaign
some Jews near Ulm had bought stolen articles from the soldiers, which
had greatly displeased him. The Jew-haters suggested that these may
have been Strasburg Jews, who followed in the track of the army in
order to enrich themselves by means of the booty; and that all Jews
were usurers, hawkers, and ragmen. To incite the emperor still more to
acts of hostility, the following grave statement was added--that,
in the whole of Alsace, indeed, in all the (German) Departments of
the Upper and Lower Rhine, the people were so embittered against the
Jews that a general massacre, scenes such as were witnessed in the
Middle Ages, might ensue. In taprooms the question of slaughtering the
Jews was often discussed. His mind filled with such evil impressions,
Napoleon left Strasburg, promising redress of these grievances. That
this impression might not fade away, the enemies of the Jews besieged
the minister of justice with loud complaints about the baseness
and hurtfulness of the Jews. Judges, prefects, all German-speaking
officials vied with each other in attempts to deprive the Jews of their
civil rights. The minister of justice, carried away by the complaints,
was actually on the point of putting an exceptional law into force
against the Jews of France, forbidding them for a time to do any
business in mortgages.

Mingled with this Jew-hatred, which arose from the petty jealousy of
guild members, and from fear of excessive competition, were the bigoted
and gloomy views of the reactionary party, who commenced to spin their
network of schemes in order to suppress mental freedom, the mother,
so to speak, of political liberty. One of the chief representatives
of this party, hostile to liberty, and skilled in intrigues, was
Louis Gabriel Ambroise Bonald, a man of kindred spirit to Gentz, Adam
Müller, and others of like caliber, who, together with the romanticist
Chateaubriand, and Fontanes, a past-master of flattery, brought about
the most terrible religious and political reaction. Bonald, who, after
short-lived enthusiasm for liberty, unfurled the flag of the Bourbon
Legitimists, and glorified it with mystical-Catholic inanities,
beheld in the liberation of the Jews a diminution of the power of the
Church, and employed means to undermine their equalization in France.
He wished to lower them to the level of such despicable beings as the
Church required for its purposes. In a paper which he issued conjointly
with Chateaubriand for the purpose of maintaining the Ultramontane
power, he attacked the Jews with sophistical eloquence. He envied the
Germans because, more reasonable and prudent than the French, they had
remitted only the capitation-tax, and had otherwise kept the Jews
in subjection. He blamed the National Assembly for having conceded all
rights without considering that when the French Jews were released from
the yoke, they might easily act in concert with their co-religionists
in other countries to secure all influence and all wealth to themselves
and enslave the Christians. Bonald again gave utterance to that
venomous slander which a venal, unscrupulous Alsatian had circulated in
a pamphlet before the Revolution. His recurring statements were that
the Jews were ever in conflict with morality, that they formed a state
within a state, and that most of them were vampires and petty traders,
among whom the high-minded disappeared. Bonald concluded his list of
charges with an opinion which stigmatized the French nation as much
as the Jews. "If the latter are ever permitted to enjoy independence
and frame laws, then a Jewish Synhedrion would not establish more
nonsensical or unworthy laws than the Constituent Assembly of
philosophers has established."

It was a fortunate circumstance for the future of the Jews that the
enemies of freedom as well as orthodox Christians included Jew-hatred
in their programme, because this impelled friends of liberty to defend
the cause of the Jews in part as their own. But for the moment,
Bonald's Jew-hating attempts greatly harmed them. They were approved
by those who strove to retard the advancing spirit of the age, and
in a roundabout way were dinned into the ear of Napoleon. The French
Jews had no idea of the extent of this agitation, they imagined that it
concerned only the Jewish usurers in Alsace, and that it did not affect
the honor, position, and existence of all, and therefore they did not
sufficiently oppose it.

Matters now assumed a serious complexion. Napoleon laid the Jewish
question for discussion before his council, which entrusted it to
a young member, a Count Molé, known in later French history as the
prototype of ambiguity. To the surprise of all the elder and more
influential members of the council, Molé, whose great-grandmother was
a Jewess, presented a report decidedly hostile to the Jews, suggesting
that all French Jews be placed under exceptional laws, which meant that
their legally acknowledged and practically realized equality was to be
taken from them. His report was received with deserved derision by the
oldest members of the council, who were so imbued with the principle
of absolute equality sanctified by the Revolution, that they could not
conceive that a creditor suing for payment from his debtor could have
a right to inquire into his religious belief. They suspected that Molé
was in league with the reactionary politicians Fontanes and Bonald,
who were anxious to offer up the Jews as the first sacrifice to their
retrograde policy. Molé, however, appears to have sought to curry favor
with the emperor, who, as he knew, was not kindly disposed towards the
Jews. Although all the councilors were in favor of their unabridged
civil rights, the Jewish question was to be brought up at the regular
session of the state council under the presidency of Napoleon (April
30, 1806), who attached great importance to the matter.

It was a fateful moment when these questions, settled long ago, again
came up for discussion. The weal and woe not alone of the French and
Italian Jews, but of those in all Europe, depended upon the issue of
this consultation. For if the equalization of the Jews of the former
countries was in any way threatened, those of other countries would be
doomed to remain in a state of degradation and oppression for a long
time to come. The sitting was stormy. It happened unfortunately that a
recently elected state councilor named Beugnot, who in the absence of
the emperor had spoken with great spirit and address in favor of the
Jews, wished to display his eloquence before the emperor. He therefore
made use of the following unlucky phrase: "To deprive the Jews of their
full civil rights were like a battle lost on the field of justice."
Napoleon was annoyed. Both the tone and matter of Beugnot's speech
sorely displeased him. It vexed him that his prejudices against the
Jews should be regarded as unfounded. Beugnot aroused his passion, he
spoke against theorists and propounders of principles, and allowed his
anger to outrun his discretion. He spoke of the Jews as Fichte had
done, saying that they constituted a state within a state, being the
feudal nobles of the time; that they could not be placed in the same
category with Catholics and Protestants, because, besides not being
citizens of the country, they were a dangerous element. The keys of
France, Alsace and Strasburg, should not be allowed to fall into the
hands of a nation of spies. It would be prudent to suffer only 50,000
Jews in the districts of the Upper and Lower Rhine, to scatter the
remainder throughout France, and prohibit them from engaging in trade,
because they corrupted it by usury. He made other accusations which he
had learnt from the Jew-haters. In spite of this speech, two councilors
of importance, Regnault and Ségur, ventured to speak on behalf of the
Jews, or of justice. They pointed out that the Jews in Bordeaux,
Marseilles, and the Italian cities belonging to France, like those in
Holland, were held in the highest esteem, and that the offenses charged
against the Jews of Alsace should not be imputed to Judaism, but rather
to their unhappy condition. They succeeded in mollifying Napoleon's
wrath for the moment, and a second session decided the matter.

Meantime some influential persons succeeded in impressing Napoleon with
a better opinion of the Jews. They called to his attention how quickly
they had become proficient in the arts and sciences, in agriculture and
handicrafts. Persons were pointed out to him who had been decorated
with the Order of the Legion of Honor, or who had received pensions for
courage in war, and that, therefore, it was slander to call all Jews
usurers and hawkers. At the second sitting of the state council (May
7, 1806) Napoleon spoke in a milder tone of the Jews. He rejected the
proposal made to him to expel Jewish peddlers, and endow the tribunals
of justice with unlimited authority over usurers. He desired to do
nothing that might be disapproved by posterity, or darken his fame.
Nevertheless, he could not free himself from the prejudice that the
Jewish people, from the most ancient times, even from the days of
Moses, had been usurers and extortioners. He was, however, determined
not to permit any persecution or neglect of the Jews. He then conceived
the happy thought--or it may have been suggested to him--to bring
together a number of Jews from various provinces, who were to tell
him whether Judaism demanded of its adherents hatred and oppression
of Christians. The Jews themselves, through the medium of their
representatives, were to decide their fate.

The decree which announced this resolution (May 30, 1806) was couched
in harsh terms. Napoleon himself, it appears, gave it the last touches
whilst in an angry mood. The first part of the decree ran as follows:
"The claims of Jewish creditors in certain provinces may not be
collected within the space of a year." The second part ordered the
assembly of Jewish notables. The reason for their meeting was such as
to satisfy the Bonalds. Certain Jews in the northern districts having
by usury brought misery upon many peasants, the emperor had deprived
them of civil equality. But he had also considered it necessary to
awaken in all who professed the Jewish religion in France a feeling
of civic morality, which, owing to their debasement, had become
almost extinct amongst them. For this purpose Jewish notables were
to express their wishes and suggest means whereby skilled work and
useful occupations would become general among Jews. Thus, for a time at
least, a portion of the Jews of France were deprived of their rights of
equality. But balm might be expected from the Assembly of Notables for
the wounds inflicted by Napoleon. The prefects were required to select
prominent persons from among the rabbis and the laity, who, on a fixed
day, should present themselves "in the good city of Paris." Not only
the congregations of the old French provinces, but also those in the
new ones, in the district on the left bank of the Rhine, were to be
represented by deputies. The Italian Jews, who applied for permission
to take part in this meeting, were likewise admitted.

Although the notables were somewhat arbitrarily chosen by the
magistrates, on the whole their selections were fortunate. Among the
hundred and more notables of French, German, and Italian speech, the
majority were fully aware of the magnitude and importance of their
task. They had to defend Judaism before the eyes of all Europe--a
difficult but grateful task. Among them were men who had already gained
fame, such as Berr Isaac Berr, his promising son, Michael Berr (who
had issued the summons to princes and nations, to release the Jews
from bondage), and Abraham Furtado, the partisan of the Girondists,
who had suffered for his political opinions, and was a man of noble
mind and great foresight. His descent is interesting. His parents were
Marranos in Portugal, but in spite of the family's outward adherence
to the Church during two hundred years, his mother had not forgotten
her origin and her attachment to Judaism. When the terrible earthquake
made Lisbon a heap of ruins, Furtado's parents were overwhelmed by
their falling house--his father killed, but his mother, who was
with child, entombed in a living grave. She vowed that if God would
save her from this danger, she would, in spite of all difficulties,
openly embrace Judaism. A fresh shock opened her tomb. She succeeded
in escaping from this place of horror, made her way to London, and
there publicly returned to Judaism. Here her son Abraham was born,
whom she brought up as a Jew. Abraham Furtado was well acquainted with
Jewish literature; he collected materials for a Jewish history, and
paid particular attention to the Book of Job; but his Jewish knowledge
was mere dilettanteism, without thoroughness. His favorite study
was natural science. During the Revolution, Furtado belonged to the
commission appointed to make proposals for ameliorating the condition
of the French Jews. During the Reign of Terror, and as a supporter of
the Girondists, his life was endangered and his property confiscated.
By assiduous industry he had enabled himself to purchase an estate
in Bordeaux. Next to the elder and younger Berrs, Furtado was the
brightest ornament of the assembly; he was an eloquent speaker, and
possessed great tact in public affairs.

A happy choice was that of Rabbi Joseph David Sinzheim, of Strasburg
(born 1745, died 1812). He was a man of almost patriarchal character,
of the deepest moral earnestness, and of a most lovable, gentle nature.
Well furnished with means, and the brother-in-law of the wealthy
Cerf Berr, Sinzheim devoted himself to the study of the Talmud, not
from any mercenary purpose, but from inclination. His acquaintance
with Talmudical and Rabbinical literature was astounding, but he was
lacking in depth. His education prevented his being interested in other
branches of science, but at least he had no antipathy to them. During
the Reign of Terror, which caused the Jews in Jew-hating Strasburg to
suffer severely, he was compelled to flee for safety, and could not
return until peace was restored. The number of the Jews in Strasburg
increased under the Directory and Napoleon. They formed themselves
into a congregation, appointing Sinzheim as their first rabbi. Thence
he was summoned to Paris to attend the Assembly of Notables. He was
considered the most eminent French Talmudist, and became the leader of
the orthodox party. Besides Sinzheim, only one rabbi was prominent, the
Portuguese Rabbi Abraham Andrade, from Saint-Esprit; the majority of
the members were laymen.

With trembling hearts about a hundred Jewish Notables from the
French and German departments assembled. They had no plan, as they
did not know precisely what were the emperor's intentions. A summons
from the minister, addressed to each member singly (July 23, 1806),
enlightened them but little. They learnt that in three days' time,
on a Sabbath, they were to hold a meeting in a hall of the Hôtel de
Ville set apart for them. There the assembly was to organize, and
they were to answer the questions which imperial commissioners would
lay before them. The purpose was to make useful citizens of the
Jews, bring their religious belief into agreement with their duties
as Frenchmen, refute the charges made against them, and remedy the
evils which they had occasioned. The selection of Molé as imperial
commissioner, together with Portalis and Pasquier, who were to treat
officially with the Assembly, was not calculated to quiet their
fears. Molé had been the first to serve as a medium for the spread
of the anti-Jewish slanders of Bonald and others. On the day before
the opening of the Assembly (July 25), there appeared in the official
journal, the "Moniteur," an account of the history of the Jews from
the return from Babylon till that time. The French nation was thus to
be acquainted with the importance of the questions now to be submitted
to the Jews themselves. In rapid sequence the following circumstances
were depicted:--The independence and the dependence of the Jewish
people, their victories and defeats; their persecution during the
Middle Ages and the protection they found; their scattered condition
and their massacres; the accusations directed against them; their
abasement and oppression in different countries inflicted by monarch
after monarch, and by fluctuating opinions and policies. Jewish history
thus received, so to speak, an official seal. That there were many
errors and false statements in this account was not to be wondered
at. At the command of the emperor, the Jewish religion, or Judaism,
was officially expounded, with even greater display of ignorance. Two
points were particularly emphasized, viz., that the religious and moral
separation of the Jews from the rest of the world, and the pursuit of
usury to the injury of members of other creeds, if not prescribed, was
at any rate tolerated by the Jewish law. "How otherwise is the fact
to be explained," it was remarked at the conclusion of the official
document, "that those Jews who at the present time extort high rates
of interest, are most religious and follow the laws of the Talmud most
faithfully?" The inference was to the last degree false. "Do we not see
that the Portuguese Jews, who do not sully themselves with usury, are
less strict in their adherence to the Talmud? Had the distinguished
Jews in Germany, such as their famous Mendelssohn, great reverence for
the rabbis? Finally, are those men among us who devote themselves to
the sciences orthodox Jews?" Thus Talmudical Judaism was once again
represented as a stumbling-block in the way of the progress of the
Jews, not, indeed, in that spirit of hatred which prevailed in Germany;
but it was laid open to attack, and that, too, before a public, so to
say a European, tribunal.

On the same day that the Jews formed the topic of conversation in
Paris, the deputies assembled to decide upon a question of conscience.
The first official meeting was to be held on Saturday, and the first
business was the election of a president and of secretaries by means
of written votes. It was the first time that representatives of the
French, German, and Italian Jews came together, and the contrasts
and variations developed during the last half century by the changes
in the times, became apparent,--all shades were represented, from
the politician Furtado, to the rabbis who had spent all their lives
in schools. They were expected to harmonize. At first they could
not understand each other, but had to employ German and Italian
interpreters. Was the public activity of the Jewish deputies to
commence with the desecration of the Sabbath? Or should they strictly
adhere to the religious prohibition, and thus give a handle to enemies
of the Jews, who asserted that Judaism was incompatible with the
exercise of civil functions? These serious questions occupied the minds
of the members. The rabbis and the party of Berr Isaac Berr were of
opinion that the first sitting should be postponed to another day, or
at least that no election should take place. The less critical party,
the politicians, urged that they prove to the emperor that Judaism can
subordinate itself to the law of the land; and the debate grew very

Thus the first Jewish Parliament in Paris assembled on a Sabbath, in
a room of the Hôtel de Ville, decorated with appropriate emblems.
The deputies attended in full force, none were absent; some of them
intentionally came in carriages. Some of the stricter members again
tried to have the first meeting postponed, but in vain. The dread of
Napoleon's authority terrified those who as a rule paid scrupulous
regard to religious ordinances. Under the chairmanship of Rabbi
Solomon Lipmann, the oldest member, the election now proceeded. The
orthodox had provided themselves with ballot tickets, but most of the
others wrote them out unabashed before the very eyes of the rabbis,
whilst a few had theirs written for them. Only two men were qualified
for the presidency, Berr Isaac Berr and Furtado. The former was
supported by the orthodox party, the latter by the politicians. Furtado
obtained the majority of votes. With parliamentary tact he presided
over the meeting. The deputies became fully conscious of the grave
responsibility resting upon them, and proved themselves equal to their
task. All were animated by a strong desire for unanimity.

Even the German rabbis, who hitherto had been buried in the seclusion
of the academies amidst the Talmud volumes, quickly adapted themselves
to the new circumstances and to parliamentary forms. Certain deputies
contributed to impress all present with a feeling of concord. The
speech of the deputy Lipmann Cerf Berr had a remarkable effect,
especially the following words:--

    "Let us forget our origin! Let us no longer speak of Jews of
    Alsace, of Portugal, or of Germany. Though scattered over the
    face of the globe, we are still one people worshiping the same
    God, and as our law commands us, we are to obey the laws of the
    country where we live."

When the officer of the guard of honor furnished for the meeting
approached the newly-elected president to receive his orders, and when
at the departure of the deputies, the guard greeted them with military
honors and beat of drums, they felt themselves exalted, and their fear
was turned to hope.

This joyful expectation revived their courage, and enabled them to
oppose the attacks of Jew-hating writers. Meantime the whole body of
deputies from the kingdom of Italy arrived, and created a favorable
impression by their bearing. Amongst them the spirit of the age
manifested itself in difference of religious views and opinions,
although not so sharply marked as among the French and German Jews.

The most distinguished among the Jewish-Italian deputies was Abraham
Vita di Cologna (born 1755, died in Trieste, 1832). He was well
versed both in Rabbinical and scientific learning, of prepossessing
appearance, and an elegant speaker. While rabbi of Mantua, he was
elected a member of the Parliament of the Italian kingdom. His
Talmudical and secular knowledge, however, was neither comprehensive
nor deep. Cologna was in favor of the new tendency, which removed
Judaism from its isolated position to imbue it with European ideas; but
both the means and end were not clearly defined in his mind, and he
took no steps to carry out his wishes. An elder member of the Italian
notables, Joshua Benzion Segre (born about 1720, died 1809), at once
owner of an estate, rabbi, and municipal councilor of Vercelli, was
also in favor of scientific studies, and belonged to the advanced
party. The follies of the Kabbala still found many supporters among
educated Italian Jews, although its first opponents had come from
Italy. Benzion Segre was averse to the study, while the Italian deputy
Graziadio (Chanannel) Nepi, rabbi and physician in Cinto (born 1760,
died 1836), was a firm believer in it. He was exceedingly well read in
Jewish literature, and compiled an alphabetical register of the names
of Jewish authors of ancient and modern times.

At the second sitting (July 29), the three imperial commissioners
solemnly propounded twelve questions, which the Assembly were to
answer conscientiously. The chief points were, whether the French Jews
regarded France as their country, and Frenchmen as their brothers;
whether they considered the laws of the state as binding upon them,
and, by way of deduction from these two points, the incisive third
question, "Can Jews legally intermarry with Christians," and, lastly,
whether usury in the case of non-Jews is permitted or forbidden. The
remaining points referred to polygamy, divorce, and the authority of
the rabbis, and were of a subordinate nature. Most of the members
could not listen to these queries without feeling pain that their
love of country and their attachment to France should be called into
question, notwithstanding that Jews had attested their patriotism by
shedding their blood upon battlefields. From many sides rose a cry
at these questions, "Aye, unto death." The address delivered by Molé
on submitting these twelve questions was cold and to some extent
offensive. Its contents were nearly as follows:--The charges against
various Jews had been proved. The emperor was, however, not satisfied
to check the evil himself, but desired the assistance of the deputies.
They were to state the whole truth in replying to the questions laid
before them. The emperor permitted full liberty of discussion, but
wished them to bear in mind that they were Frenchmen, and would be
relinquishing that honor unless they showed themselves worthy of it.
The assembly now knew what was expected. They were brought face to face
with the alternative of renouncing their equality or damaging Judaism.

Furtado, in his reply to the speech of the commissioner, very cleverly
turned the mistrust of the emperor into a semblance of trust. He said
that the Jews welcomed the opportunity of answering these questions,
to lay bare all errors and put an end to the prejudices entertained
against them. The speech which Berr Isaac Berr delivered at this
meeting was more sincere, more manly, and altogether more fervent.
Furtado represented the Jews, but not Judaism; he caused it to be
understood that the Assembly should consider it a duty and an honor to
obey every hint of the emperor. Berr gave dignified expression to the
claims of Judaism. The duty of replying to the questions was assigned
to a commission, which included, besides the president, the secretary,
and the auditors, the four most eminent rabbis, Sinzheim, Andrade, di
Cologna, and Segre, and two learned laymen.

This commission handed over the chief part of their work to Rabbi David
Sinzheim, the most scholarly and esteemed member of the assembly,
who in a very short time completed his task to the satisfaction of
his colleagues, of the imperial commissioners, and eventually of the
emperor (July 30 till August 3). His report was submitted to the
commissioners, who reported it to the emperor before it was brought up
for public discussion. Napoleon was so pleased with the behavior of
the Assembly that he announced his intention to grant an audience to
all the members. In fact, their parliamentary tact, as displayed in
the proceedings, filled him with such high regard towards them that
he partially overcame his prejudices against the Jews. He had always
pictured them as ragmen and usurers, with cringing, bent forms, or
as sly, cunning flatterers lying in ambush for their prey; and to
his astonishment he beheld among the members men of fine character,
intelligence, and imposing appearance. He thus acquired a better
opinion of the Jews. It must be admitted that the incense offered him
by the Assembly, as to a deity, did not leave him unmoved. On the other
hand, the serious task placed before the Jewish deputies made them
greater, exalted them above the common level, idealized them. Their
harmonious work aroused their enthusiasm, the orations intoxicated
them, and even the sober German members became infected.

At the third sitting (August 4), at the debate upon the replies to the
various questions, the deputies were filled with self-confidence and
the certainty of victory. No difficulty was offered by the first two
questions--whether polygamy was allowed among Jews, and whether the
validity of a divorce granted by the French law was acknowledged by
their religious and moral code. These were decided according to the
desire of the emperor without any injury to Judaism. But the third
question aroused painful excitement, and revealed the opposition which
had divided the Jews since the time of Mendelssohn--"May a Jewess
marry a Christian, or a Christian woman a Jew?" This question had given
rise to heated debates in the commission, how much more in public
assembly. Even the orthodox party felt that to reply unconditionally
in the negative would be extremely perilous. The commission, however,
had already supplied a clever answer, and if it is owing to Sinzheim's
efforts, it redounds to his intellect and tact. At the outset it was
skillfully explained that, according to the Bible, only marriages with
Canaanite nations were forbidden. Even by the Talmud intermarriages
were allowed, because the nations of Europe were not considered
idolaters. The rabbis, to be sure, were opposed to such unions, seeing
that the usual ceremonies could not be performed. They would refuse to
bless such an union, as the Catholic priests refused their assistance
on such occasions. This refusal, however, was of little consequence, as
civil marriages were recognized by the state. At all events, the rabbis
considered a Jew or Jewess who had contracted a union of this kind as a
full co-religionist.

The remaining questions were settled without any excitement in two
sittings (August 7th and 12th). The questions whether the Jews
regarded Frenchmen as their brothers, and France as their country, were
answered by the Assembly with a loud, enthusiastic affirmative. They
were able to refer to the doctrines of Judaism, which in its three
phases--Biblical, Talmudical, and Rabbinical--had always emphasized
humanity and the brotherhood of man. Only one point in the report
of the commission gave rise to a certain amount of friction, viz.,
that which seemed to ascribe a kind of superiority to the Portuguese
Jews, as if through their conduct they were held in higher esteem by
Christians than the German Jews. This clause was therefore struck out.

In answering the two questions relative to usury, the Assembly was able
to demolish a deeply-rooted prejudice and place Judaism in a favorable

The commissioner Molé, the first to yield to Jew-hatred and propose to
exclude Jews from state offices, had now to declare publicly (September
18) that the emperor was satisfied with the intentions and zeal of the
assembly. His speech on this occasion struck quite a different note to
former ones. "Who, indeed," he exclaimed, "would not be astonished at
the sight of this assembly of enlightened men, selected from among the
descendants of the most ancient of nations? If an individual of past
centuries could come to life, and if this scene met his gaze, would he
not think himself transplanted within the walls of the Holy City? or
might he not imagine that a thorough revolution in the affairs of man
had taken place?" "His Majesty," continued Molé, "guarantees to you the
free practice of your religion and the full enjoyment of your political
rights; but in exchange for these valuable privileges, he demands
a religious surety that you will completely realize the principles
expressed in your answers."

What could the surety be? Napoleon then announced a surprising
message, which filled the assembly with joyful astonishment and
electrified them. "The emperor proposes to call together the great
Synhedrion!" This part of their national government, which had
perished together with the Temple, and which alone had been endowed
with authority in Israel, was now to be revived for the purpose of
transforming the answers of the Assembly into decisions, which should
command the highest respect, equally with those of the Talmud, with
Jews of all countries and throughout all centuries. Further, the
Assembly was to make known the meeting of the great Synhedrion to
all the synagogues in Europe, so that they send to Paris deputies
capable of advising the government with intelligence, and worthy of
belonging to this assembly. That the revived Synhedrion might possess
the honorable and imposing character of its model, it was to be
constituted on the pattern of the former one; it was to consist of
seventy-one members, and have a president (Nasi), a vice-president
(Ab-Beth-Din), and a second vice-president (Chacham). This announcement
made the deputies feel as if the ancient glory of Israel had suddenly
risen from the tomb and once more assumed a solid shape. Three months
previously they had been summoned to rescue their civil rights which
were endangered, and now a new vista opened before them; they seemed to
behold their glorious past revived in the present, and assisted in the
accomplishment of the dream; and they were filled with amazement.

Naturally, on receipt of this announcement, the Assembly passed
enthusiastic motions and votes of thanks. They expressed their approval
of everything which the commissioners had proposed or intimated. The
Synhedrion was to be composed of two-thirds rabbis and one-third
laymen, and was to include all the rabbis in the Assembly of Notables,
together with others to be afterwards elected. The true importance
of the Assembly now came to an end; its duties now were merely
perfunctory. The proclamation issued to the whole Jewish world (Tishri
24--October 6) was its only momentous action thereafter. It aimed
at rousing the Jews to take an interest in the Synhedrion and to send
deputies. This proclamation was written in four languages, Hebrew,
French, German, and Italian, and expressed the feelings which animated
members of the Assembly, and the hopes entertained for the great

    "A great event is about to take place, one which through a long
    series of centuries our fathers, and even we in our own times,
    did not expect to see, and which has now appeared before the
    eyes of the astonished world. The 20th of October has been
    fixed as the date for the opening of a Great Synhedrion in the
    capital of one of the most powerful Christian nations, and
    under the protection of the immortal Prince who rules over it.
    Paris will show the world a remarkable scene, and this ever
    memorable event will open to the dispersed remnants of the
    descendants of Abraham a period of deliverance and prosperity."

The Jewish Parliament, and the re-establishment of a Synhedrion created
much interest in Europe. The world was accustomed to Napoleon's feats
of war and brilliant victories; the power of his arms had ceased
to astonish men. But that this admired and terrible hero should
descend to the most ancient people, to raise and restore them to
some of their lost splendor, caused, perhaps, more general surprise
among Christians than among Jews. It was looked upon as a miraculous
event, as marking a new era in the history of the world, in which a
different state of things would prevail. Some Christian writers in
Bamberg, at their head a Catholic priest (Gley), expected such abundant
and important results from the Jewish assembly in Paris that they
established a special newspaper, a kind of journal for the Jews. Only
the Berlin _illuminati_--David Friedländer's circle--experienced an
uncomfortable sensation at the news, because they feared that, through
the Synhedrion in France, ancient Judaism might be revived in a new
garb. They therefore declared the Synhedrion a juggler's performance,
provided by Napoleon for his Parisians. Patriotism was also involved
in this sense of uneasiness, for the Prussian Jews participated in the
deep grief into which the people of Prussia and the royal family had
been plunged by the defeats at Jena and Auerstädt (October 14, 1806).

Four days after the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables (Adar
9--February 9, 1807), the Great Synhedrion, very different in
character, assembled. It consisted, as mentioned above, for the
greater part of rabbis, most of whom had been members of the Assembly
of Notables. Twenty-five laymen from the same Assembly were added,
and the ratification of the answers to the twelve questions according
to the wishes of Napoleon was secured. To all appearances the great
Synhedrion was to assemble and transact business according to its
own pleasure. The commissioners were not to have any communications
with it. The minister of the interior had chosen only the first three
officials: Sinzheim as President (Nasi), the grey-headed Segre as
first Vice-President (Ab-Beth-Din), and Abraham di Cologna as second
Vice-President (Chacham).

After attending the synagogue, the Assembly made its way to the Hôtel
de Ville, and there the seventy members, in a hall specially decorated
for them, took their seats according to seniority, by ancient custom in
a semi-circle around the president. The sittings were public, and many
spectators were present at them. The members of the Synhedrion were
suitably attired in black garments, with silk capes and three-cornered
hats. The meeting was opened by a prayer specially composed by
Sinzheim. The speeches of Sinzheim and Furtado, with which the first
meeting commenced, were entirely appropriate to the situation.

The second sitting (February 12) was occupied with the reading of
the motions which the Synhedrion was to sanction, together with the
presentation of addresses from different congregations in France,
Italy, and the Rhineland, and especially in Dresden and Neuwied,
expressing their agreement with the assembly, and the reception of
messengers to the Synhedrion from Amsterdam.

The Synhedrion felt itself at a loss for subjects to discuss. The new
matters which they had proposed to settle were left untouched. The
Franco-Prussian war had caused the emperor to be forgetful of the
Synhedrion and the Jews in general. There only remained for the members
of the Synhedrion to convert the replies of the previous assembly
into definite, inviolable laws. The question as to the power of the
new Synhedrion to impose binding laws, or whether it could be placed
on the same basis as the ancient one, was not debated. The rabbis
overcame this scruple by arguing that each generation was permitted by
the Talmud to institute suitable ordinances and make new decisions,
and therefore, without further discussion, they declared themselves
as constituted. Without demur, the Synhedrion adopted Furtado's
disintegrating view, that Judaism consisted of two wholly distinct
elements--the purely religious and the political-legislative laws.
The first mentioned are unalterable; the latter, on the other hand,
which have lost their significance since the downfall of the Jewish
state, can be set aside. The inferences from this difference, however,
could not be drawn by any individual, but only by an authorized
assembly, a great Synhedrion, which owing to unfavorable circumstances
had never been able to assemble. The Synhedrion was, therefore, no
innovation. The following highly important paragraph with reference to
marriage was also passed without opposition: That not only must the
civil marriage precede the religious ceremony, but that intermarriages
between Jews and Christians were to be considered binding, and
although they were not attended by any religious forms, yet no
religious interdict could be passed upon them. In this evasive manner
the Synhedrion satisfied its own conscience and the suspicions of the
imperial officers.

As the Synhedrion had no actual business to transact, the time of
the sittings was filled up with speeches delivered by Furtado,
Hildesheimer, the deputy from Frankfort, Asser, the deputy from
Amsterdam, and finally by Sinzheim, who made the closing speech.
The new decisions of the Synhedrion, drawn up in French and Hebrew,
enacted the following: That it is prohibited for any Jew to marry more
than one wife; that divorce by the Jewish law was effective only when
preceded by that of the civil authorities; and that a marriage likewise
must be considered a civil contract first; that every Israelite was
religiously bound to consider his non-Jewish neighbors, who also
recognize and worship God as the Creator, as brothers; that he should
love his country, defend it, and undertake military service, if called
upon to do so; that Judaism did not forbid any kind of handicraft and
occupation, and that, therefore, it was commendable for Israelites
to engage in agriculture, handicrafts, and the arts, and to forsake
trading; and finally, that it was forbidden to Israelites to exact
usury either from Jew or Christian.

These new laws of the Synhedrion were of very limited scope. The
Synhedrion had in view only the present, and did not look into the
distant future. The Jews in general were not satisfied with its action
and results. An English Jew, in a letter addressed to the members,
boldly reproached them for having disowned, not alone Judaism, but all
revealed religion.

    "Has any one of our brethren in Constantinople, Aleppo, Bagdad,
    Corfu, or one of our (English) communities been sent as a
    deputy to you, or have they recorded their approval of your

The French Government, however, had obtained the surety stipulated
before the rights of citizenship would be legally recognized anew. At
the proposition of the commissioners the Synhedrion dissolved, and
their resolutions were submitted to Napoleon, whose attention had been
fixed on the Prusso-Russian war, until owing to the decisive battle
of Prussian Friedland the delusive peace of Tilsit was concluded.
During Napoleon's absence, plans were secretly laid with the purpose
of restricting the rights of the French Jews. The Jewish deputies,
however, discovered this, and the indefatigable Furtado, together
with Maurice Levy of Nancy, hastened from the Seine to the Niemen
to acquaint the emperor with the agitation against the Jews; and he
remained prepossessed in favor of Judaism.

After the dissolution of the Synhedrion the Assembly of Notables again
convened to present their formal report to the authorities (March
25-April 6, 1807).

After an interval of a year, Napoleon announced to the Jews his
intentions with reference to legislation on their behalf. He expressed
(March 17, 1808) his approval of the wretched consistorial organization
which degraded the officials of the synagogue to the level of
policemen, and regulated the civil position of the Jews, or rather
made encroachments on their hitherto favorable condition, although
he repeatedly assured them that their equalization would suffer no
restrictions. He had deceived all the world, and everywhere trodden
freedom under foot; how could he be expected to keep his word with
the Jews and to leave their freedom unmolested? The law suggests
that the Jew-hating Molé framed it. It contained no word about the
equalization of the Jews. No French Jew henceforth was to engage in
any species of trade without having obtained the permission of the
prefect, and his consent was to be granted only on the testimony of
the civil magistrates and the consistory as to the good character
of the applicant. Contracts of Jews who could not show a patent were
null and void. The taking of pledges as security for a loan was also
surrounded by limitations which savored of the Middle Ages. Further, no
foreign Jew was to settle in the German departments, nor any from those
departments in another district. Finally, the Jewish people were not
allowed to procure substitutes for military service; each Jew who was
chosen as a soldier had to enter the ranks. These restrictive laws were
to remain in force for ten years, "in the hope that by the end of that
period, and by the enforcement of various regulations, no difference
whatever would exist between the Jews and the other citizens."

Thus the Jews of France, the anchor of hope of their brethren in other
countries, were once again humiliated and placed under exceptional
legislation. The law enacted, indeed, that the Jews of Bordeaux and
certain other departments who had given no cause for complaint should
not be included under these new restrictions. Shortly afterwards, owing
to their loud complaints, exceptions were made in favor of the Jews of
Paris, Livorno, the department of the Lower Pyrenees, and of fifteen
other districts in France and Italy, so that only the scapegoats, the
German-speaking Jews in France, were deprived of their civil rights.
But the odious stain which had been again fastened to the Jews adhered
to the emancipated as well. Their opponents, who zealously strove to
check the elevation of the Jews, could now point to France, and urge
that the race was indeed incapable of amendment, seeing that even where
its members had been emancipated long since, they had to be deprived of
their rights of equality.

Napoleon's arm, powerful though it was, could not stem the flood
once set in motion, by the liberation of oppressed nationalities and
classes. By his own genius and impetuosity he increased the tumult
of forces. After the subjection of Prussia, Napoleon called into
existence, chiefly at the expense of this state, two new political
creations, the duchy of Warsaw (avoiding the dangerous and magical
title of kingdom of Poland), under the rule of the Electoral Prince
of Saxony, and the kingdom of Westphalia under his brother Jerome

In the latter kingdom, formed from the territories of many lords,
the Jews obtained freedom and equalization. Napoleon framed the
constitution of the new kingdom with the assistance of the statesmen
Beugnot, Johannes von Müller, and partially also of Dohm, who, being
friends of the Jews, had made their emancipation a feature. Jerome,
juster and more honest than his brother, issued an edict (January
12, 1808) declaring all Jews of his state without exception to be
full citizens, abolishing Jew-taxes of every description, allowing
foreign Jews to reside in the country under the same protection as
that afforded to Christian immigrants, and threatening with punishment
the malicious who should derisively call a Jewish citizen of his state
"protection Jew" (Schutz-Jude). Michael Berr, the brave and pious
defender of Judaism, was summoned from France to accept office in the
kingdom of Westphalia. Jews and Christians alike were filled with
hope at this just treatment of German Jews, and the Jew-hating German
University of Göttingen elected Berr a member.

An important part was played at the new court in Cassel by Israel
Jacobson (born at Halberstadt, 1769; died at Berlin, 1828), who had
been court agent, or councilor of finance, at the court of Brunswick.
Although he cuts a figure in modern Jewish history, and was pleased
to consider himself a German Furtado, yet he bore only external
resemblance to this earnest Jewish patriot. The similarity lay in the
fact that Jacobson possessed extraordinary flow of language and great
vigor in carrying out his projects, which talents, it must be admitted,
he employed for ameliorating the condition of his co-religionists. His
wealth provided him with the means of realizing, or attempting, all the
schemes which his active brain invented. Noble-minded, good-natured,
ready for any sacrifice, and energetic, he kept one aim before him, the
removal of the hateful, repulsive exterior of the Jews and Judaism, and
the endeavor to render them externally attractive and brilliant.

To commemorate the day of the emancipation of the Jews, Jacobson
caused a gold medal to be struck with the emblem of the union of
hitherto antagonistic beliefs, and the Latin inscription: "To God
and the fatherly king, united in the kingdom of Westphalia." At the
instigation of Jacobson, the Jews of the kingdom of Westphalia were
to be organized somewhat like their brethren in France. Twenty-two
notables were summoned to Cassel, among whom the originator of the
movement was naturally included. Jerome received them kindly, and
spoke the memorable words on the occasion: that he was pleased to find
that the constitution of his kingdom, which had been forced upon him,
confirmed the equality of all creeds, and in this respect entirely
corresponded with his own ideas. In the commission appointed to draw up
the plan for a Jewish consistory in the kingdom of Westphalia, Jacobson
was naturally elected to the presidency. Michael Berr was also a
member. The constitution of the consistory, on the model of the French,
was published at about the same time as the latter (March 3, 1808).
In France a rabbi occupied the chief position, whilst in the German
assembly Jacobson was to be president. He desired to be considered a
rabbi, and even represented himself as one. The chief meeting-place of
the Westphalian consistory was Cassel. Its authority was acknowledged
on many subjects, and Jacobson was all-powerful, being ordered to
consult the magistrates only upon important occasions. The consistory
was also to be employed as a means of rousing patriotic feelings in
the hearts of old and young on behalf of the House of Bonaparte. It
especially busied itself with the debts of the various congregations,
which were to be divided among the several communities, and thus paid
off easily.

Strange to say, one of the members of the consistory was a Christian,
state councilor Merkel, who, acting as secretary, kept a watch upon the
highest Jewish judicial authorities like a detective. In the French
central consistory thoughtful, trusty men, who had given proofs of
their abilities, were elected, such as David Sinzheim, the president,
Abraham di Cologna, and Menahem Deutz, whose son afterwards obtained
sad celebrity, men who knew how to bridge over the gap between the old
times and the new; while Jacobson delighted in foolhardy leaps, and
dragged his colleagues along with him. In transforming the condition
of the congregations and the synagogues under his jurisdiction, he
consulted with David Friedländer, standing almost within the pale
of Christianity, and his colleagues among the Measfim. The desire
of Jacobson was for reforms, or rather for the introduction of such
practices into the Jewish Divine service as were observed in the
Christian Church, especially such as appealed to the senses.

The first German prince who voluntarily conceded to the Jews at least
a restricted amount of freedom was Duke Charles of Baden, one of the
dependents of the family of Napoleon. Baden being on the borders of
France became accustomed to the recognition of the Jews of the latter
country as citizens; and public opinion was more favorable to them
there than in other parts of Germany. To be sure, the German Prince of
Baden was not so free from prejudice as the member of the Napoleon
family who occupied a German throne. He declared the Jews citizens of
the state, but did not give them the freedom of the cities, so that
they could not dwell in such towns as had hitherto been closed to Jews;
and even where they had always been tolerated, they were only to be
regarded as "protected citizens." The duke, however, reserved the right
to confer the freedom of the cities upon those who should give up petty
trading. Their religious peculiarities were to be respected, "only in
so far as they agreed with the Mosaic Law, but not with the Talmudical
interpretations of the same."

Even the city of Frankfort for a moment succumbed to the equality
intoxication, although petty, pedantic hatred of Jews was incorporated
in every patrician. This hatred had greatly increased in intensity
since the spread of revolutionary principles. The subjection of the
Jews was to compensate for loss of independence. Not a single badge
or ceremony which perpetuated Jewish degradation was removed from
the Jews, who numbered about five hundred families. The laws of
"Stättigkeit," defining their dependent status, which had existed for
two hundred years, were still annually read in the synagogue. Every
newly admitted Jew was compelled to take the oath of allegiance to
the Senate. Restrictions continued to be imposed on Jewish marriages.
Jew-taxes had to be paid, as if the Holy Roman Empire still held sway,
instead of the all-powerful will of the Corsican, crushing emperors and
kings. The Jews were obliged to dwell in the narrow, dirty, unhealthy
Jewish quarter, and every Christian, however degraded, had the right of
calling to the most refined Jew, "Mach Mores, Jud'!" of treating him as
a despicable object, and even banishing him from the better parts of
the city and from the parks.

The French general Jourdan had indeed freed the Frankfort Jews from
the Ghetto for a few years, when he bombarded the city and destroyed
that portion of it. Under the eyes of the French victors, the
patricians, sorely against their will, permitted Jews to rent houses
in other districts; under no condition could they purchase or erect
houses. When the Holy Roman Empire melted away like a snowflake before
the breath of Napoleon, when Frankfort fell under the sovereignty of
the Arch-Chancellor or Prince Primate of the Rhenish Confederation,
and the powerful aldermen themselves became subject, the serfdom
of the Jews came to an end, though the change was not expressed in
legal enactments. Karl von Dalberg, a liberal-minded man, and most
favorably disposed towards the Jews, would gladly have removed their
yoke, indeed he wrote to Grégoire, the advocate of emancipation, upon
this subject. However, he was too well aware of the stubborn hatred
of the Frankfort patricians towards the Jews, to venture upon their
complete emancipation. He had only promised in a general way at the
so-called coronation that the members of the Jewish nation should be
protected against injury and insulting treatment. The urgent necessity
of regulating the status of the Jews by law, was apparent to this
Prince Primate, who discharged his duty only by half measures, such as
were characteristic of the Germans. By the publication of a new order
for the government and protection of the Jews, he conceded, in the
spirit of the new era, that "previous laws, being opposed to the modern
constitution of the Jewish nation," should be abrogated. At the same
time he figured as the adherent of the anti-Jewish party by stating
"that complete equality could not be granted so long as the Jews did
not show themselves worthy of it, by forsaking their peculiarities and
adopting the customs of the country." By these new ordinances they were
treated as strangers on sufferance, who might enjoy the benefits of
the law of nations and of humanity, but not the rights of citizens.
The only relief measure was that the various protection-taxes were
consolidated into an annual impost of 22,000 florins. Even the Ghetto
was again held out to them as their residence; they were cautioned not
to renew their leases in town with Christian landlords, because the
day would soon dawn when they would have to return to their prison.
Naturally, the Jews of Frankfort used their utmost endeavors to have
these exceptional laws annulled, the more as their co-religionists in
the neighboring kingdom of Westphalia were enjoying equality. When
the Rhenish Confederation was dissolved and the Duchy of Frankfort
created with a constitution of its own, recognizing the equality of all
inhabitants, of whatever belief, Amschel, Gumprecht, and Rothschild
(the first court-agent who made princes subject to himself), as
representatives of the Jews, did not rest until they had induced the
Archduke Dalberg and his council to establish their equalization by
a special law in spite of all opposition. The new archduke being in
want of funds, besides desiring the freedom and equality of the Jews,
consented to grant these privileges for the sum of 440,000 florins
(being twenty times the amount of the annual tax of 22,000 florins),
150,000 to be paid at once, then 50,000, and the remainder in annual
payments of 10,000 florins. The law (published December 28, 1811)
decreed, "that all Jews living in Frankfort under protection, together
with their children and descendants, should enjoy civil rights and
privileges equally with other citizens." The Jews took the oath of
citizenship, entered upon their privileges and duties, and Louis Baruch
(Börne), a Jew, was employed in the ducal police. The Jew-street, or
what remained of it, lost its mournful privileges, and was swept out of
existence or joined to adjacent quarters. The proud patricians gnashed
their teeth at such unheard-of innovations. They had suffered a double
loss by the abolition of serfdom and of the old laws regarding the
Jewish inhabitants; but for the time they had to acquiesce.

The northern Hanse Towns, where German guild-narrowness joined to
ossified Lutheranism scarcely allowed the Jews to breathe, were
compelled by order of the French garrison to grant them equality.
Hamburg agreed to place all its inhabitants, including Jews, upon
an equal level (1811), and also admitted them to seats in the civic
council. The following testimony was afterwards adduced in their favor--

    "With all the privileges of equality received, or guaranteed,
    their much-feared presumption did not obtrude itself, nor
    had any disadvantages accrued to the Christian citizens;
    on the contrary, the Jews displayed a quiet, modest, and
    friendly demeanor in spite of additional prerogatives, and
    showed eagerness to work for the public weal. Several gained
    distinction by their great benevolence and patriotism."

The small town of Lübeck showed more opposition to the settlement and
emancipation of a few Jews under French protection. Hitherto only
about ten families were tolerated in the town as "protection Jews,"
who were forbidden to engage in trade, join the guilds, or obtain
possession of houses. These privileges were regarded as exclusively
Christian; no Jews dared claim them. Only three Jews were allowed to
come daily into Lübeck from the neighboring town of Moisling (under
the dominion of Denmark or Holstein), and these were compelled to pay
a sort of poll-tax at the gate. Any deputy of the merchants' guild
could lay hands upon them, and take them before the police, if they
sold goods, and everything found in the possession of such suspects was
confiscated. With the advent of the French (1811-1814), about forty-two
Jews from Moisling and fourteen foreigners with their families moved to
Lübeck, thus bringing the number of families in Lübeck up to sixty-six.
These sixty-six Jews aroused the fierce rage of the Lübeck patricians
even more than Napoleon's sovereignty. The embargo laid by Napoleon
upon the Continent to annoy England had attracted several Jewish
families to North Germany, hitherto unfriendly to Jews.

In the Hanse Town of Bremen, which until then had known only traveling
Jews, who paid toll on entering the town, Jews took up residence under
French protection, not indeed in great numbers, but too many for the
bigotry of the patricians. Here, too, they were allowed equal rights
with other citizens. Even the Duke of Mecklenburg, Frederick Franz,
granted the equalization of the Jews (February 22, 1812), and allowed
marriages between Jews and Christians, a greater concession than those
made by any other code. Prussia also could no longer resist the tide
in favor of the Jews. In Prussia they had displayed much greater love
for their native land, and brought more sacrifices during the times
of trouble than many of the corrupt nobility, who had ingratiated
themselves with their victorious enemies. But a long time elapsed
before King Frederick William III could overcome his aristocratic
and religious repugnance to them. He only abolished the insulting
cognomen of "protection Jews," declaring them not only admissible to
the citizenship of towns, but under compulsion to perform its duties.
They were forced to take the oath as citizens of towns and to share in
the burdens of the cities in which they lived. But they were not to be
recognized as state citizens, their position being the reverse of that
of the Jews in Baden. The prospect of equalization as state citizens
was continually held out to them, but the promise remained unfulfilled
for several years. When Hardenberg again assumed control of the
disturbed affairs of the state, and insisted upon the repeal of decayed
laws and the removal of rotten conditions, he favored the removal
of the civil disabilities of the Jews, so that by their help new
strength should be infused into the mutilated, bleeding, impoverished
territory,--help which it could ill spare in its wretched state of deep
depression. David Friedländer and his friends, Berlin capitalists,
used their utmost efforts to bring about the state equalization so
long promised. The king again and again delayed the ratification of
the law submitted to him by the chancellor. At length--moved, it is
said, by the interest taken by the Berlin Jews in commemorating the
death of the much-suffering, lamented Queen Louise,--Frederick William
gave his assent (March 11, 1812) to the equalization of all Jews at
that time settled in Prussia. They were to be admitted to posts in
schools and colleges; but the king withheld the privilege of admission
to state offices. With the privileges, they were to assume the duties,
especially as soldiers. Their religious affairs were to be regulated
afterwards: "When the plan for their religious organization is drawn
up, such Jews as enjoy public confidence both on account of their
knowledge and probity will be consulted."

Three German princes alone withstood the spirit of the age: those of
Bavaria, Austria, and Saxony. The first, Maximilian Joseph, appointed
king of Bavaria by Napoleon, promulgated an edict (June 10, 1813),
which appeared to concede equality to Jews, at least to those who
possessed the right of settlement. But it was equality with many
limitations. In cities to which no Jew had hitherto been admitted,
their settlement was to depend upon the royal pleasure, and even in
those places where they had dwelt for a long time their numbers were
not to be increased, but rather diminished. In Austria, Leopold II
and Francis I, the successors of Emperor Joseph, who had somewhat
loosened the chains of the Jews, left the favorable intentions of their
predecessor unexecuted, and imposed new humiliations. In addition to
the unendurable burden of taxes in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and
Galicia,--taxes upon candles, upon wine, and meat--a collection-tax
was imposed in Vienna, which was a toll upon every Jew who entered
the capital. Spies closely watched the Jew who stayed in Vienna
for a short time unprovided with a passport, and treated him like a
criminal. Marriages among Jews were still restricted, and could be
contracted only by the eldest son of the family, or by one able to pay
heavy bribes. Although Austria was so often overrun by the soldiers
of liberty, yet, impenetrable as the wall of China, it resisted every
innovation. In the newly-created kingdom of Saxony all the restrictions
imposed in the time of the Electoral princes and the Lutheran Church
were maintained in their fullest rigor. Saxony was rightly called the
Protestant Spain of the Jews. Indeed they were not suffered to dwell
in the country at all; only a few privileged Jews were admitted to the
two towns of Dresden and Leipsic, but under the express condition that
they could be expelled at any time. They were not allowed to have a
synagogue, but only to meet for prayer in small rooms, on condition
that they made no noise. In Leipsic and Dresden every privileged Jew
was compelled to pay annually seventy thalers for himself, besides
other sums for his wife, children, and servants. The Jews were
rigidly constrained in their choice of trades and occupations, and
were placed under strict supervision while traveling. When all other
German districts had abolished the poll-tax, Saxony still retained
it. The example of the two neighboring countries--Westphalia and
Prussia--had no influence upon this district, which at that time was
rendered doubly selfish by trade jealousy and religious prejudice. The
reactionary movement found plenty of fuel in Germany.



  The Jews in the Wars for Freedom--The Congress of Vienna--
    Hardenberg and Metternich--Rühs' Christian Germanism--
    Jew-hatred in Germany and Rome--German Act of Federation--
    Ewald's Defense of Judaism--Jew-hatred in Prussia--Lewis Way
    --Congress at Aix--Hep, hep Persecution--Hartwig Hundt--
    Julius von Voss--Jewish Avengers.

1813-1818 C. E.

Like the Persian monarch Xerxes, Napoleon, hitherto invincible, and
grown haughty and brutal through his successes, summoned the nations
and princes to a universal war, and they followed him as submissively
as slaves follow their master. Proudly he led forth Europe, subdued by
him, against Asiatic Russia. Within the memory of man such an immense
expedition had not been known. But, if ever, the words of the text
were fulfilled in this gigantic contest: "An horse is a vain thing for
safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength"; if ever,
Divine justice manifested itself in him who had trampled upon right
and liberty. Napoleon was defeated, not by the power of his enemy,
but by a Higher Hand which struck him with blindness--a blindness
which permitted the glow of the flames at Moscow and the ice of a
Russian winter to work his ruin. When God and fortune had forsaken
him, the princes who had promised him service and allegiance fell away
from him, and turned the points of their swords against him, and the
people, which, relying upon his own warlike talents, he had so greatly
despised, rose up against him. But the nations likewise were stricken
with blindness; whilst breaking asunder one sort of bonds, they forged
new ones for themselves. The two years (May, 1812-April, 1814) form
an instructive chapter in history, from the moment when Napoleon led
an army of more than half a million men against Russia, until the day
when, abandoned by all, he was compelled to flee, in order to escape
the threats and insults of the embittered French people. It was a
sanguinary, horrifying drama.

No one could have suspected that the greater would drag down the
less in its ruin, that by the downfall of Napoleon, the Jews whom he
had liberated, though reluctantly, would be hurled into their former
slavery. Jewish youths belonging to wealthy families had emulated
their Christian friends in courage, and rushed to battle to help in
slaying the giant. Large numbers of Jews, especially in Prussia,
animated by burning love of country, had joined the volunteers, had
rejoiced to be accepted in the ranks, and wipe away with their blood
on the battlefield the stain of cowardice, so often imputed to them
by the opponents to their emancipation. Jewish young men paid for the
freedom accorded them on paper with their lives. Jewish physicians and
surgeons sacrificed themselves in the camps and hospitals in their
devoted attendance on the wounded and the plague-stricken. Jewish women
and girls spared no efforts to bring help and comfort to the wounded.
Again, as in the days of national independence, sons of the same race
and religion were opposed to each other--German Jews engaged in
deadly combat with French, Italian, and Dutch Jews, and recognized each
other only in the last hour, in time to embrace as brothers. Those
unfit to bear arms had shown their attachment to Germany and their
worthiness of emancipation by sacrifices in other ways. Nevertheless,
the seemingly forgotten Jew-hatred was rekindled in the hearts of the
Germans, extended ever further, and robbed the Jews of the reward
which the hard-won victories had promised to bring even to them.

With the fall of the hero began the rule of petty, intriguing, reckless
speculators, who bartered both men and lands. They misled the princes
who earnestly desired to restore long banished freedom, and ensnared
them with lying artifices. In France these intriguers, the Talleyrands,
reinstated the throne of the Bourbons. In Germany Metternich and
Gentz turned the struggles for freedom into mockery. Only the more
far-sighted knew that Europe, owing to the closer connection between
the rulers, would be reduced to a more degrading state of slavery,
because sloth and pettiness were the order of the day.

The Jews felt the first effects of the reaction now commencing in
Germany. It arose in Frankfort, the seat of unmitigated, mediæval
anti-Semitism. As soon as the artillery of the retreating enemy had
ceased within the precincts of this city, loud voices were heard
encouraging each other to demand that boundaries be set at once to
the unheard-of presumption of the Jews. In Lübeck and Bremen, the
citizens did not content themselves with depriving the Jews of their
recently-acquired rights, but energetically strove to banish them
altogether. The proposal was seriously made to drive all adherents of
the Mosaic religion from the town. In Hanover, Hildesheim, Brunswick,
and Hesse, they were at one blow divested of their rights of equality.
These events naturally gave great anxiety to the Jews throughout
Germany. If the privileges granted them by law, as in Frankfort, could
be abolished, what security had they for the continuance of their
equality? What a contrast this reaction presented to that in France!
Here, although the nobility, who hated freedom and were thirsting for
revenge, and the Catholic clergy were in power at the court of Louis
XVIII, and looked upon the terrible events since 1789 as if they had
not happened, yet the rights of the Jews were not abridged.

The Jews, concerned about their freedom, honor, nay, their very
existence, especially in the so-called free towns, looked hopefully
forward to the Congress of Vienna, which was to readjust dismembered
Europe. The monarchical and diplomatic members of the Congress,
however, did not hasten to act the part of Providence assigned to them.
They opened the meetings in November instead of in August, and from
the bosom of this Congress, intended to establish eternal peace, a
desolating war arose. The community of Frankfort had sent two deputies
to Vienna, one of them Jacob Baruch, the father of Börne, chosen
because he had patrons at the Viennese court. Baruch fulfilled his task
in a disinterested manner worthy of his great son. Together with his
less known colleague, he presented a memorial (October, 1814) to the
Congress, wherein the arguments in favor of the claim of the Frankfort
Jews were clearly set forth. They made the formal claim, that their
equalization had been duly purchased for a large sum, and the patriotic
claim, that they had taken part in the liberation of Germany. Their
chief aim was to remove the suzerainty of the Senate over them.

The Jews of the three Hanse Towns sent a Christian lawyer as deputy,
to guard their interests in Vienna, who of his own accord had drawn
up an appeal for the equalization of the Jews. In combination with
the deputies, certain influential personages worked quietly and
unobtrusively. The banking-house of Rothschild by its circumspection
and fortunate enterprises had made itself a power in the money world;
and not even prying suspicion could find a trace of dishonesty in
the accumulation of its riches, which might be used as a pretext
by anti-Jewish opponents. The founder of the house, Mayer Amschel
Rothschild, was held in the highest esteem in Frankfort, and in
consequence of the equalization had a seat in the Electoral College.
Happily he died before the beginning of the reaction (September, 1812),
but his five sons increased the wealth left by their father. Although
they appear to have adhered to the principle, not to throw the power
of their riches into the scale on behalf of their co-religionists and
their faith, yet they could not be indifferent to the attempt made in
Frankfort, their home, to reduce the Jews again to a state of serfdom.
One of the brothers probably addressed words of remonstrance to the
most influential German members of the Congress against diminishing the
rights of his co-religionists.

The statesmen who controlled German affairs in the Congress showed
themselves favorable to the Jews. Hardenberg and Metternich in a letter
on the subject expressed their disapproval of the oppressions to which
the Jews in the Hanse Towns were subjected (January, 1815), and advised
the Senate--advice which amounted to a command--to treat them in
a humane, just spirit. Hardenberg pointed out to the Hanse Towns the
example of Prussia and the edict of March 11, 1812, and remarked, with
some sarcasm, that they would succeed in depriving the Jewish houses of
the prosperity to which they had attained, and that constant oppression
would compel them to withdraw their capital. In the sketch of the
constitution for Germany drawn up by the Prussian plenipotentiary,
William von Humboldt, which was submitted to Metternich, and accepted
as a basis for discussion, the Jews were promised equality, even
though they were mentioned separately. "The three Christian religious
sects enjoy equal rights in all German states, and the adherents
of the Jewish faith, so long as they undertake all the duties of
citizenship, are to enjoy corresponding rights." But the goodwill of
the two chancellors, even though their sentiments had been shared by
the monarchs whom they represented, did not suffice at that time. A
new enemy rose up against the Jews, tougher and more dangerous than
envy and bourgeois pride. This terrible enemy who now turned his arms
against the Jews was the German visionary. The yoke so long imposed on
the Germans by the French, the compulsion under which they had been
to obliterate their most characteristic peculiarities, had rendered
hateful to them, not alone everything French, but all that was foreign,
that did not bear the stamp of pure German origin. Allowances should
certainly be made for a nation which, arriving at a consciousness of
its strength and solidarity, breaks its fetters, if it conceives an
exaggerated notion of its importance. But it was unpardonable and
childish that grown men should dream in broad daylight, representing
their dreams as truth and trying to foist them upon others. Extravagant
Teutomania was a dream of this kind, and resulted in the ruin of the
Germans. For the first time the German nation had acted as a unit;
hitherto it had been the tool of princes in Italian expeditions,
Turkish wars, or civil strife. The Germans sought analogous cases
in their own history by which to regulate their conduct, and found
them only in the Middle Ages, in the time of the Empire and the
omnipotence of the papacy, or in early Teutonic times when uncouth
barbarism and childish simplicity prevailed. The romantic school,
the Schlegels, Arnims, and Brentanos, had shown them this grewsome
specter of the Middle Ages in so wonderful a light, that the Germans
in their delusion considered it an ideal, the realization of which
was a holy task. To the Middle Ages belonged Christianity, credulity,
unthinking clericalism, which became the dearest possessions of the
Germans, because they were diametrically opposed to the unbelief of the
French and the revolutionary epoch. From that time the hollow phrase,
Christian-German (or Teutsch), arose, and speedily became a catchword.

But only the devoted followers of Catholicism, with the papacy as
supreme authority, could be pious in the sense of the Middle Ages.
Honest romanticists, such as Görres, Frederick Schlegel, Adam
Müller, etc., logically went over to the Roman Church, and helped to
re-establish the empire of the Jesuits and the Inquisition. As for
the German Protestants, "God had poured out upon them the spirit of
confusion and they tottered like drunken men." Instead of directing
their attention to Vienna, where the Congress, amidst dancing and
revelry, was running its quarry, the German people, to earth, the
romanticists built castles in the air, and at once announced that
certain people would be denied admission.

Christian Teutomania was the armed specter which for many decades
robbed the German Jews of rest, honor, and joy in life. Because this
race, strongly marked by descent and tradition, was distinguished from
the Germans by external marks, by features, carriage, and vivacity,
although akin in language, feeling, and temperament, they were repelled
as foreigners, as a force breeding disturbance and discomfort, and
had the spirit of the times permitted they would have been expelled
from German territory. But to find a reason for this blind hate, the
enemies of the Jews had recourse to old contemptible publications,
and extracted rubbish from sources where others had found the rich
intellectual treasures of the Jews, and drew such a portrait of them as
to arouse terror both in themselves and others.

The first to clothe vague prejudice in words and heap abuse upon the
Jews was not a knavish writer, but an academical professor named
Friedrich Rühs, whom the newly-founded Berlin University had appointed
to the chair of history. He wished to investigate the decline of
Germany, and hit upon the Jews, as though they had been the authors
of Germany's disgrace during its occupation by foreign powers. Rühs
discussed the "Claims of the Jews to German Citizenship," developed
the unwholesome theory of a Christian state, and thence derived his
justification, if not actually to expel the Jews from Germany, yet to
humble them and thwart their growth. He drew up a complete programme
for their treatment, which was afterwards conscientiously carried out.

Above all things he wanted the Jews to live merely on sufferance, and
on no account to claim equal rights of citizenship. They were once more
to pay protection-money, a Jew-tax, and limits were to be set to their
increase. The cities which had hitherto not tolerated them were to be
supported in this course, and naturally Jews were not to be admitted to
any office, nor even permitted to defend their country. Rühs, moreover,
insisted that the Jews should again wear a badge, not a repulsive
yellow patch, but a "national cockade"; at any rate some mark of
distinction, "that the German who could not recognize his Hebrew enemy
by face, gait, or speech, might do so by the doubtful badge of honor."
Above all things, Rühs exhorted the German states and the German people
to promote the conversion of the Jews to Christianity; that was most
important. It was generally asserted, even in Christian quarters, that
only bad and abandoned men exchanged Judaism for Christianity; but that
was prejudice.

Rühs' pamphlet excited great interest. Worthy and learned men declared
their agreement with him. The learned German world at the time of
Lessing, Abt, Kant, and Herder, the apostolic messenger of universal
humanity, now talked the language of the Church Fathers, and stirred
up hate and persecution. Schleiermacher and Fichte brought the
representatives of German intellect so low that they actually competed
with the ultra-Catholics in hatred of the Jews. Pius VII, who in
consequence of the Restoration once more reigned in the Papal States,
and reintroduced the Inquisition, in order to drive out godlessness
by means of the auto-da-fé, ordained that the Jews should forfeit the
freedom enjoyed under French rule. The Jews of Rome had to forsake
their beautiful houses in all parts of the city and return to the
dirty, unhealthy Ghetto; the Middle Ages had returned to the Papal
States. The Jews, as in the seventeenth century, had to attend sermons
for their own conversion on pain of punishment. Meantime history had
enacted one of those surprising interludes, which was to prove the
instability of the reactionary Restoration. Napoleon had contrived to
land on French ground despite English sea-guardianship. The props of
the Bourbon throne--the nobility, the clergy, and intriguers, who
had ostentatiously displayed their power,--collapsed before a single
shot had been fired, and Napoleon entered Paris in triumph. The empire
of the hundred days was established. The whole of Europe armed itself
against one man, and the fortune of war decided in favor of the allies
on the Dutch battlefields at Waterloo. In the Prussian army, which
next to the English had been most instrumental in turning the tide of
victory, there were many Jewish soldiers, among them several militia

What reward did the German Jews receive for their sincere devotion
to their country? When the Congress, alarmed by Napoleon's sudden
reappearance, ceased to dally and began to hold regular sittings, the
Act of Federation for the German states, which despite their union were
to be autonomous, was brought up for consideration, and a paragraph
in it devoted to the Jews. Citizenship was to be assured them, and
in countries where obstacles to this reform existed, they were to be
removed as far as possible. But this paragraph was accepted only by
Prussia and Austria; all the other members of the league, especially
those from the free towns, voted against it. To arrive at an agreement,
a colorless compromise was proposed: "The Congress of the allies will
consider how the civil improvement of those professing the Jewish faith
in Germany is to be effected in the most harmonious manner, and how in
particular the enjoyment of civil rights and participation in civil
duties may be secured to them. The rights already conceded them in the
several federated states will be continued."

The first portion was harmless, and could be accepted by all, since it
remained open to every state to prevent its favorable interpretation.
The latter portion, however, was apt to put the Free Towns into a
delicate position. There the Jews through French influence were
actually in possession of civil equality. Accordingly, the deputy
for Frankfort (the syndic Danz) emphatically protested, and was
supported by the Saxon deputies. To shame German narrow-mindedness,
the Danish government, as if it had anticipated that the hatred of
Jews in Germany would spread, ordered Bernstorff, its representative
for Holstein, to declare that the adherents of the Jewish faith,
if they fulfilled the duties of citizenship, might there expect a
constitutional provision ensuring them against persecution, oppression,
arbitrariness or uncertainty of legislation in respect of the rights
conceded to them. The deputy for Bremen, Senator Schmidt, was cleverer;
he did not protest, but defeated the suspicious resolution by a
master-stroke. Remarking that the privileges of the Jews conferred
by the French in North Germany (the 32d military division) could not
be binding on the Germans, he stated that they need only change the
word _in_ into _by_, and everything would be right. Nobody at first
took notice of this apparently insignificant change. Metternich and
Hardenberg, who hitherto either from inclination or in pursuance of
promises had appeared to favor the Jews, passed over this point in an
incomprehensible manner. Thus the paragraph referring to the Jewish
question in its final form read: "The rights already conceded the
professors of the Jewish faith _by_ the several federated states will
be continued." Of the federated states, however, only Prussia and
Mecklenburg, and perhaps also Baden, had conceded citizenship to the
Jews. The enactment of the French authorities was thus made null and
void, and Germany was saved. What did it matter to the delighted nation
that this verbal change would cost so many tears?

The humiliation of the Jews soon showed itself in practical life.
Lübeck, protected by the unfair interpretation of a paragraph, ordered
more than forty Jewish families to leave the town (September, 1815).
Bremen did the same with its Jews. Frankfort could not eject its Jewish
inhabitants, but their lives were embittered; they were shut out from
civil assemblies, Jewish functionaries were deposed, they were excluded
from many trades and industries, marriage permits asked by Jewish
couples were refused with the heartlessness of the Middle Ages, they
were forbidden to live in certain parts of the town, and were treated
as though they were still _servi cameræ_. But as the Senate knew that
Prussia and Austria regarded it as a point of honor to preserve intact
the civil rights of the Jews of Frankfort, and that the Federal Diet,
at the instance of both great powers, might easily determine the
controversy in favor of the Jews, it applied to three German juridical
faculties, those of Berlin, Marburg, and Giessen, to have the question
decided as one of law.

This struggle between the Frankfort Senate and the Jews, protracted
during nine years (1815-24), and occasioning many vexations, will ever
remain a stain on the time, a monument of German narrow-mindedness.
The Jews, relying on the assurance of the two German powers, believed
that their civil rights were guarded as by a triple wall.

But just this manifest truth, the Teutomaniacs and sophists, suddenly
developed into bigots, sought to obscure and cry down. From all parts
of Germany there resounded simultaneously outcries against the Jews,
urging the nation, or the German federation, to enslave the Jews or
destroy them. Journals and pamphlets raged against them, as if Germany
or Christendom could be saved only by the destruction of the Jews.

The most violent attack was that of a physician and professor of
natural science at Heidelberg, J. F. Fries, "Danger to the Welfare and
Character of the Germans through the Jews" (summer, 1816), in which he
asserted that the Jews ought to be expelled the country, that the tribe
must be exterminated root and branch, as among all secret and political
societies they were most dangerous to the state. "Ask man after man,
and see, whether every peasant and every burgher do not hate and curse
the Jews as national pests and bread robbers." The Jews, he said, had
contrived to get more than half the entire capital of Frankfort into
their hands. "Let them go on for forty years, and the sons of the
first Christian houses will seek service among the Jews in the meanest
capacities." It is remarkable that in the face of such passionate
incitement, wild outbreaks against the Jews did not occur at that time,
especially as Fries' pamphlet was read in all taverns and public-houses.

Was no Christian voice raised against this injustice? For the honor
of the Germans it must be mentioned that some men had the courage to
contend against crass prejudice and blind hatred. A highly respected
and learned councilor in Ratisbon, August Krämer, wrote a defense, "The
Jews and their Just Claims on the Christian States; a Contribution
to the Mitigation of the Cruel Prejudices against the Jewish Nation."
Councilor Schmidt, in Hildburghausen, on the one hand, pictured the
abominable scenes which Christian fanaticism had in the past enacted
against Jews, and, on the other hand, showed the superiority of culture
possessed by the latter over the Christians in Spain. But their most
thorough-going advocate was Johann Ludwig Ewald, a reformed clergyman
of Carlsruhe, of high position, and seventy years old. Rühs' and
Fries' malignant statements about the Jews incensed him so deeply,
that he denied himself a season's recreation in Baden, and employed
the time in giving the lie to their impudent assertions in a pamphlet
(1816). Ewald vindicated the downtrodden sons of Israel in the name of
Christianity, whose representative he was. Every groundless complaint
against them he dissolved into nothing. From England and France, too,
admonitions reached the Germans not to expose their own pettiness by
their insane hatred of the Jews. An English paper thought that the town
of Lübeck, as well as all the free towns, ought to be deprived of their
independence (of which they had made so infamous a use) by the German
federation, on account of the ignorant intolerance displayed against
the Jews. A French writer, M. Bail, vindicated the unhappy people in
glowing language, and covered their German enemies with shame.

    "The Jewish nation to a higher degree than any other possesses
    the ancient, sanctified character which excites astonishment. I
    never meet a rabbi adorned with a white beard without thinking
    of the venerable patriarchs. Nothing is more elevating about
    the Israelites than their solemn life, which makes them the
    most devoted and honorable people on earth. In their midst is
    to be found the illustration of all domestic virtues, of loving
    care for the needy, and profound reverence for parents. Happy,
    a thousand times happy, are the nations among whom the basis of
    morality has been preserved."

But if truth and justice had spoken with angels' tongues, the Germans
of those days would have remained deaf to their voices. They were so
deeply imbued with hatred of the Jews that they were irrational.

An organ of the Austrian government directed a sort of threat against
the encroachments of the people of Lübeck upon the rights of the Jews.

    "How can the future Federal Diet discuss the improvement of the
    condition of the Jews, if individual states anticipate it by
    the most cruel and arbitrary resolutions? This conduct exhibits
    want of respect as much towards the ensuing Federal Diet as
    towards the foremost courts of Germany, whose principles
    in regard to this matter have been often and loudly enough

What was done by Austria itself, which displayed such righteous
indignation against Lübeck on behalf of the Jews? Francis I and his
ruler Metternich completely forgot the benevolent intentions of Joseph
II, and kept in mind only the hateful laws of Maria Theresa against the
Jews. They did not indeed expel the Jews, as in Lübeck and Bremen, but
they were relegated to Ghettos within Austria, beyond which they were
not allowed to pass. Tyrol, the secluded mountain province, was closed
to them as to Protestants. In Bohemia the mountain cities and villages
were forbidden them, and in Moravia, in the great cities of Brünn
and Olmütz, they were allowed to stay only over-night or for a short
time. Everywhere there were Jew-streets; the restrictions imposed on
the Jews of Austria had become proverbial, whilst in Galicia they met
with greater oppression than in the Middle Ages. Even the benevolent
regulations of Joseph II, in regard to compulsory school attendance and
practical religious instruction, were carried out not so much to spread
culture among the Jews as to torment and injure them. Emperor Francis
ennobled a few Jews, but the others were humiliated; they were obliged
to render military service, but the bravest were rarely admitted even
to the lowest rungs of the military ladder.

Austria, to be sure, had made the Jews no promises, and had awakened
no hope of freedom. But Prussia, where they had already enjoyed full
citizenship, conjured up a hobgoblin worthy of the Middle Ages, and
wounded their honor the more deeply. Frederick William III, who had
confirmed the equality of the Prussian Jews by law, annulled it, or
rather left it unexecuted, a dead letter. Unconsciously he succumbed
to the theory of the Christian state set up by the Teutomaniacs
and sophists, who insisted that no place of honor be conceded the
Jews. The promised equalization of the Jews in the newly-acquired or
reconquered provinces was continually delayed. In the latter they
remained subject to the restrictions of a former time, and Prussia's
legislation regarding the Jews was a curious petrifaction. There were
twenty-one fundamental laws for their treatment, and they were divided
into French, old Prussian, Saxon, and Polish Jews, naturally to their

The specific aim of Prussia was to make Jews despicable in society.
Whereas formerly the government had been at pains to avoid in
official correspondence the words Jew, Jewish, as having an offensive
connotation, they were now insisted upon.

The Judæophobist spirit in Prussia showed itself in a case which
challenges comparison with France. The unjust Napoleonic law which
had suspended the equality of the Jews of the German departments for
ten years in respect of free migration and commerce was to fall into
abeyance after the end of the respite (March 17, 1818), unless it
was prolonged. The government of Louis XVIII, although besieged by
clerical and political reactionaries, did not for a moment make an
attempt to preserve the limitation. In the Chamber, which occupied
itself with this point (February and March, 1818), only one hostile
voice (Lathier) was raised against the Jews in Alsace. This opponent
of the Jews alleged that the whole country would soon be in the hands
of the Jews, if a check was not put to their greed. Not even the Right,
which was clerically disposed, uttered a word against the Jews in
general and for the restriction of their liberties. The phantom of a
Christian state was quite unknown to the French. The Chamber rejected
Lathier's proposal, and thus the Jews of Alsace were restored to their
former equality. A similar law had been passed against the Jews of the
district on the left bank of the Rhine, which was added to Prussia,
or the Rhine province and Westphalia. The Prussian government, on
taking this former French territory, had permitted the continuance of
restrictive legislation, and a cabinet order of March 3d, 1818, renewed
it for an indefinite period.

About this time a distinguished Englishman, with the Old and New
Testaments in his hand, advocated the equality and freedom of the Jews
throughout Europe with extraordinary zeal. Lewis Way, a disciple of the
Fifth Monarchy enthusiasts of the English War of Independence, accepted
the prophecies of the Old Testament and the Apocalypse, and was
convinced that the Jewish nation would be resurrected, and be restored
in glory to the land of their fathers. Only when they had recovered
their independence would they be converted to the doctrines of Jesus.
It was therefore a matter of conscience with him to promote the welfare
of the Jews. He made a journey to Poland to ascertain the number and
condition of the Jews in that country. Way now elaborated a remarkable
memorial in which he dwelt on the high significance of the Jews in the
past, and also in the future. With this memorial he betook himself to
Aix, where the king of Prussia and the emperors of Russia and Austria
with their ministers and diplomatists were met in Congress (end of
September, 1818). He sought to make a favorable impression on Emperor
Alexander, whose mystical temperament was known to him. As soon as the
Czar showed himself in favor of the equalization of the Jews, it could
not be doubted that Frederick William III and Emperor Francis would
also be well disposed towards it.

Way started with the supposition that the Jews were a royal nation,
and had not ceased to be so even in exile, in the misfortunes of their
tragical career. This people possessed the key to the history of the
whole globe. The same divine grace which had guided them in former
times rested on them in banishment and exile. The promises which the
prophets had foretold for the Israelite race would not fail to be
accomplished; they would once more be gathered together in the land
of their fathers. All the nations of the earth which have received
salvation through them, were bound by gratitude to show the Jews the
greatest honors and boundless beneficence, so as to wipe out the guilt
incurred against this divinely-gifted race by the cruel persecutions
inflicted on them. The present moment was highly favorable to their
complete liberation. In some countries fanatical, narrow-minded
clamorers had raised their voices against the emancipation of the Jews,
but they no more represented public opinion than the furious outcries
of a few American planters against the suppression of slavery. If Way
was an enthusiast, when he tried to prove the necessity of emancipation
in a mystical manner from prophetic and apocalyptic verses, he was
still true enough to the practical instincts of the English race to be
able to prove to their majesties what profit the emancipated Jews would
bring the state. He conceded that much about the Jews must be altered,
but their national peculiarity was holy property, which must not be
touched. It was the invisible tie which bound the past of the Jews with
their future, the past of mankind with its future; the fulfillment of
prophecy depended on Israel.

This mystical, yet sensible memorial was handed by Way to the Emperor
of Russia, on whom it must have made an impression, for he delivered
it to his plenipotentiaries, Nesselrode and Capo D'Istrias, charging
them to bring it and the emancipation of the Jews under the notice of
the Congress. Out of respect for Alexander, who at that time pulled
the strings of European politics, the plenipotentiaries were obliged
to give attention to the matter, if only in appearance. The protocol
said (November 21, 1818) that, though they could not in every respect
accept the point of view of the writer of the memorial, they must
render justice to the tendency and laudable aim of his conclusions.
The plenipotentiaries of Austria and Prussia (Metternich, Hardenberg,
and Bernstorff) declared themselves ready to give any information with
regard to the question in both monarchies, which might aid in solving
a problem important to the statesman and the philanthropist; but this
was no more than a courtly phrase. Another voice addressed enthusiastic
words in favor of the German and Polish Jews to the Congress at
Aix-la-Chapelle. Michael Berr, like his father, untiringly active in
the elevation of his co-religionists, poured forth the stream of his
oratory in their cause.

    "In Charlemagne's favorite city the monarchs will finally
    decide concerning the political existence of my co-religionists
    in Germany. The honor of Germany, the honor of the age and
    that of monarchs, loudly demand the reinstatement of the Jews
    in their civil and political rights. With justice are they
    exercised about laws, which still exist here and there to the
    disadvantage of the Jews."

The Italian Jews also combined to send a petition to the Congress of
Aix-la-Chapelle concerning the abolition of their grievances and the
cessation of persecution. They lost nothing by failure to carry out
their design. The time had passed when princes and statesmen, sages and
citizens, interested themselves in "the improvement of the condition of
the Israelites," as the phrase ran.

The ill-feeling against the Jews in Germany continued to grow without
ground or provocation. Jewish preachers celebrated the battle of
Leipsic (October 18, 1818) in the synagogue with great enthusiasm, but
to the Teutomaniacs this was no proof of their patriotic love. The
hatred against Jews assumed so violent a character that a writer, one
not badly disposed, saw reason to foretell the outbreak of popular
attacks on life and property.