The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of the Jews, Vol. 5 (of 6)

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Title: History of the Jews, Vol. 5 (of 6)

Author: Heinrich Graetz

Release date: March 9, 2014 [eBook #45085]

Language: English

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From the Chmielnicki Persecution of the Jews in
Poland (1648 C. E.) to the Period of Emancipation
in Central Europe (c. 1870 C. E.)

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The Jewish Publication Society of America

Copyright, 1895,
By the Jewish Publication Society of America

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 ivreceived 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 vadmitted 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.
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.vii
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.viii
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 ixof 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 of2 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 predominant3 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 bring4 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 ingenuity.

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 of5 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 and6 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 of7 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 manœuvres (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 baptism8 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 Cossacks9 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). The10 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 the11 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 slaked12 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 and13 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 day.

14 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 and15 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 seeking16 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 Germany17 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 over19 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 Israel?

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 in20 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 literary21 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;22 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 letters23 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.

24 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 book25 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 obtained26 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 every27 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 think28 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 the29 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,30 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 foundation31 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 continued32 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. Manasseh33 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,34 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,35 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 it36 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. Manasseh38 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 of39 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 mystical40 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,41 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 been42 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 Judaism43 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 clergymen44 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 see45 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 briefly46 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 leisure47 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 to48 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 the49 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 consequence50 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 Isaac52 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 preached.

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 salvation53 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 grave.

54 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 spite55 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 circulated.

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 Kabbalist56 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.57 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 whose58 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, if59 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), entitled60 "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 at61 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 passionate62 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.

63 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 excessive64 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 brought65 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 sorts66 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.67 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 genuine68 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,69 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 friend70 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.

71 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 and72 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 active73 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 ritual74 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 fundamentally75 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.

76 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 and77 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 money78 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 doubt79 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. Poor80 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 the81 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 innovation.

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 the82 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 the83 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 endure84 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.85 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,87 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 stamp.

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 he88 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 den89 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 hard90 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 themselves91 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 the92 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,93 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 with94 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 accused."

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 heresies.

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 he95 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 main96 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, and97 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,98 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 according99 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, which100 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,101 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 rabbis102 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,103 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,104 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 oppressing105 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 the106 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 state107 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 would108 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 more109 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 persecutor110 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 y111 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. His112 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 an113 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 master."

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 falsehoods114 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 Fullana.

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, 1½ 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 translation115 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 was116 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 swinging117 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, from118 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 the119 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 prosperity120 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 Kabbalistic121 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)122 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 terrifying123 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,124 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 his125 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,126 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 a127 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 mothers.

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 journey128 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 appears129 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,130 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 relationship131 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 daughter132 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 Sabbatians.

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 and133 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 some134 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 Messiah!"

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 were135 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,136 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 Smyrna137 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 of138 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 his139 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 things."

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.

140 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 the141 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. Even142 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 new143 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, although144 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 atmosphere145 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 exactly146 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,147 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 confined.

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 to148 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 Rabbinical149 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.150 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 of151 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 his152 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 not153 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 to154 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-Messiah155 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, and156 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, still157 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 suggestion158 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 together.

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 of159 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.160 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 the161 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 incredulity.

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, and162 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 spies163 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;164 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 Leghorn.

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 way165 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,166 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 10,167 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 Miquenes.

169 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-170duchy 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 recalled.

At Vienna and at the court there was no prospect171 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,172 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,173 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 held174 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 sorcery175 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, and176 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, Oliger177 (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 this178 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. He179 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,180 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 that181 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 them."

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, avoiding183 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 a184 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 after185 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 spent186 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.187 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,189 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 everything190 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; but191 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 suspect192 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 to193 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 the194 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 of195 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 who196 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 motley197 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)198 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 sentiment.



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 victim200 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 most201 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 nose202 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 literary203 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 dreary204 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 less205 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.206 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,207 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, drew208 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 true209 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 souls210 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 the211 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 Poland212 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, contrary213 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 years214 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, nor215 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-216songs 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 extract217 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 would218 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 entered219 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,220 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 fact221 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. Nehemiah222 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 him223 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,224 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 cause.

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 feeling.

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 (August225 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 to226 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 authorities.

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, were227 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 Trinity.

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, the228 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 thoughts229 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, regarded230 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,231 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 into233 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, but234 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 was235 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 teacher236 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 this237 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 miracle238 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,239 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 prejudiced240 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 flames241 (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.

242 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 gaining243 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 in244 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,245 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 the246 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 to247 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.248 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 disorders249 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 authority.

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," the250 "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 many251 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, should252 "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 century253 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,254 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 that255 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."256 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 by257 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 learned258 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,259 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 favor.

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 excommunicated260 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 amulet."

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 enemies261 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 them262 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. He263 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 sentence264 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 brother265 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 Eibeschütz266 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 to267 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 accusation268 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 judges269 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 to270 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, called271 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 of272 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,273 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 the274 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 Moses275 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 were276 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 be277 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 with278 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 counsel279 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 convert280 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 Holy281 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 enemies.

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 writing282 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 development283 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-284Talmudists 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;285 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 the286 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 the287 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,288 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 their289 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 squabbling290 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 merely292 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 honor.

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 avoided293 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 his294 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 study:—

"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,295 however inadequate and superficial. An impulse towards culture, the spirit of innovation, and imitation of Christian habits began to manifest themselves.

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,296 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 of297 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 all298 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, misapprehending299 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 citizen300 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 thought301 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 shared302 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 the303 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 the304 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 contemporaries305 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.306 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 machine.

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, has307 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. The308 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.309 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."310 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 innermost311 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 glove.

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 design.

"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 so313 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,"314 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 were316 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,317 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.318 The frivolity and excesses of these young men were imputed to him, and they were regarded as his protégés and disciples.

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 question319 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 increased.

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 the320 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 protected321 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.322 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 hitherto323 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 fanatical324 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 basking325 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 Mendelssohn.

326 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 handwriting.

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 became327 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,328 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 German329 (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.

330 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 Posen331 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,332 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 translation.

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 action333 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 Berlin."

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,334 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 the335 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.

336 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, and337 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 ratified338 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 his339 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 Jew340 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 and341 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 also342 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, a343 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 the344 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 Isaac345 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 them346 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. They347 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 and348 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 taxes.

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,349 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 a350 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 longer351 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 Berlin352 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, their353 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 only354 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 conspicuously356 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 turned357 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 intolerance358 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 cultivation360 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, but361 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 children362 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 spirits."

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 true363 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.

364 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 thought.

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.365 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 religion."

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 the366 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 most367 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 uncommon368 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 geography369 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,370 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 abolition371 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 foundations.

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, to372 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 Mendelssohn373 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 Mendelssohn375 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 the376 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 felt377 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 followed378 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,379 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 whole380 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 more381 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 the382 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.383 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 unconscious.

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,384 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 enthusiasm385 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 for386 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 the387 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 Sephardic.

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 Confederation388 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 suspicion.

389 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;390 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 hateful391 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,392 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 maintained393 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 disciples.

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, near394 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—Schleiermacher—Chateaubriand.

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, furnished396 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 the397 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 an398 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 be399 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 the400 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 carelessness.

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 joined401 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. The402 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 aloof403 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 influence.

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 any404 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-awakened405 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 philosophical406 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 profound407 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 forsaking408 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.

409 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 his410 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.411 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 borrowed412 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 literature.

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, the413 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 the414 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 was415 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,416 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 Jews417 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 progressive418 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 cordial419 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, remained421 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 to422 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.423 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, enthusiastic424 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.

425 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 regard426 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 this427 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 that428 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 Russia.

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 slavery430 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 Berr431 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. Portuguese432 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 people?"

433 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 was434 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 Kovno435 (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 also436 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 over437 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. In438 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 in439 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),440 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 would441 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 vote.

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.442 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 was443 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 this444 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 for445 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.

446 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;447 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 freedom448 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 60,000449 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 had450 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 Revolution.

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 is451 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 as452 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 energetic453 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.

454 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, and455 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 affairs456 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 congregations457 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 the458 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 Holland.

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 French459 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 flattering460 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 was461 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 Revolution.

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 before462 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 by463 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.

464 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 not465 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 exertions.

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, and466 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 their467 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,468 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.469 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 forerunners471 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 canst472 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 prejudices.

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 a473 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 Neo-Chassidism.



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.475 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 and476 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 the477 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-478Catholic 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 by479 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,480 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.481 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 in482 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 had483 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,484 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 the485 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 sully486 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 violent.

487 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 president488 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.

489 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 answering490 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, idealized491 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 and492 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 light.

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 then493 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. The494 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 Synhedrion:

"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 feared495 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.

496 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 between497 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 decisions?"

498 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 the499 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. By500 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 (Hieronymus).

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 flow501 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 acknowledged502 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 from503 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 the504 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