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his knee down against her in the rudest manner, as if he had been girding a faggot of sticks. In one case it was observed that the eldest son, who, as being such, was to light his mother's pile, was, just before the melancholy moment, talking most perfectly at his ease with the people about bim. After life is extinct, the relations and other active assistants, are seen with their long poles knocking about the dead bodies, and breaking the limbs or the skulls, to hasten their burning.
We had intended to transcribe one or two of the most remarkable and hideous stories; but we shall content ourselves with recommending the book itself. Some notice is taken, and some instances are related, of the other atrocities; of burying women alive, and of drowning aged persons in the Ganges.
Art. III. Modern Judaism : or, A brief Account of Opinions,
Traditions, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Jews in Modern Times. By John Allen. 8vo. pp. 434. Price 10s. 6d. Hamilton. THE corruption of the best things, is always the worst.'
Of the truth of this maxim the work before us contains a very striking and lamentable demonstration. It describes, with fidelity, the tenets and manners of the Modern Synagogue, taken from the most authentic sources of information; and though it is done with comparative brevity, yet there is a sufficient degree of copiousness, to enable the writer to supply almost every particular that is worthy of notice in the religious opinions and ceremonies of this most singular people, whose ancient history is so well known, and in whose primitive institutions there is so much to command our reverence, but whose present condition is most abject, and whose religious tenets and usages are scarcely any thing better than a mass of absurd opinions and frivolous observances.
The greater number of the statements contained in this volume, are supported by written authorities, to which the Author constantly and particularly refers. He has been careful also to satisfy himself fully of the authenticity of the few accounts which have been communicated orally; while he has himself witnessed some of the nuinerous circumstances which he describes. Tbis work would seem therefore to be justly entitled to credit, and to have a well-founded claim to confidence on the part of . the Public.
The contents are divided into twenty-five chapters, which include the following principal articles : Jewish ScripturesTargums—Talmud-Cabbala-Articles of Jewish Faith-Precepts of the Jewish Religion-Jewish Opinions on the Moral Condition of Human Nature-Rabbinical Traditions concerning God-Traditions concerning Angels-Demons-Paradise--Hell
- Traditions concerning Human Souls-Traditions concerning Persons mentioned in the Old Testament- Traditions concerning Messiah --Jewish Rites and Ordinances--Dresses worn by Jews
Synagogues--Rabbies--Forms of Prayer-Jewish SabbathJewish Months and Years-Tables of Jewish Calendar-Festivals and Fasts-Meats and Drinks—Marriage-- DivorceBurial-Mourning ---Brief Notice of the Caraites. Some of these articles belong to Jewish Antiquities; they are however very properly introduced into the present accounts.
The institutions of the Modern Synagogue bear, in many particulars, a striking resemblance to those of Popery. The Spirit of superstition equally pervades them; and the prominence which, in both of them, is given to the vain traditions of men, makes the commandments of God of no effect in their holiest obligations. The gross corruptions which exist in the Romish Church, may tend to prevent any great degree of surprise at the extravagant follies and wretched delusions which are incorporated with the Jewish ritual. For if an economy that is purely spiritual, which had no appendage of pompous ceremonies, and whose ministers had no other service assigned to them than the reconciliation of the world to God by the preaching of the cross ;- if such an economy, presents so many impure mixtures, and is so heavily burdened with pernicious inventions, We
ought not to be astonished that an economy 'to which belonged a worldly sanctuary, and meats and drinks, and divers washfngs, and carnal ordinances, should assume the debasing form it now wears.' • The corruption of the best things is usually
the worst;' and therefore, as Christianity is superior to Judaism, so is the degradation of Judaism less surprising, and we may say less criininal, than that of the former. 'The Synagogue set the example of consecrating traditionary law, and the Church of Rome has not been slow to follow it; and in both communities, oral obligation takes precedence of written sanctions. It should seem, that the Rabbins have managed this business of tradition much better than the Popish doctors. Indeed, both of them require no 'small portion of credulity in their devotees; but the Rabbins excel in the ingenuity and copious particulars which embellish their pious fraud.'
The following is the aceount which the Rabbins give of the origin and transmission of the Oral Law.
All the precepts of the law given to Moses, were accompanied with an interpretation. God first dictated the text, and then gave him an explication of every thing comprehended in it. The text was commanded to be put into writing; and the 'explication to be committed to memory, and to be communicated to that generation, and afterwards transmitted to posterity, only by word of mouth. Hence 'Che former is called the written law, and the latter, the oral
law. When Moses came down from the mount, he delivered both these laws to the people. As soon as he had returned to his tent, he was attended by Aaron, who sat at his feet, and to whom he recited the text, and taught the interpretation which he had received from God in the mount. Then Aaron rising and seating himself on the right hand of Moses, Eleazar and Ithamar entered, and Moses repeated to them all that he had communicated to their father; after which they arose and seated themselves, one on the left hand of Moses, and the other on the right hand of Aaron. Then went in the seventy elders, and Moses taught them in the same manner as he had taught Aaron and his sons. Afterwards entered the congregation at large, or all of them who were desirous of knowing the divine will ; and to them also Moses recited the text and the interpretation, in the same manner as before. These two laws, as delivered by Moses, had now been heard, by Aaron four times, by his sons three times, by the seventy elders twice, and by the rest of the people once. After this, Moses withdrawing, Aaron repeated the whole he had heard from Moses, and withdrew : then Eleazar and Ithamar did the same; and on their withdrawing, the same was done by the seventy elders: so that each of them having heard both these laws repeated four times, they all had them firmly fixed in their memories.'
There are, it may be noticed, some few rather embarrassing circumstances in this account. Mr. Allen remarks, that Maimonides, the author of it, bas forgotten to specify the dimensions of Moses's tent, which must have been somewhat capacious: bụt this, and some other things relating to the above narrative, meet with easy credence in persons among whom, as in the members of the Church of Rome, Crede quod habes et habes, is a maxim. This oral lun, it is said, was delivered by Moses to Joshua, and by him was transmitted to the next generation. The elders conveyed it to the prophets ; the prophets delivered it to the men of the great Synagogue; the last of whom was Simeon the just. After him followed a regular succession, which terminated in Rabbi Jehuda Hakkodesh, who collected and formed the traditions thus transmitted a methodical code of traditional law, which, under the title Mishna, constitutes one part of the Talmud, the other being the Gemara.
Maimonides assigns the following as the reason that God would not bave this law committed to writing.
• Because God foresaw that the nations of this world would copy out the twenty-four books, which are contained in the Law, the Pro. phets, and the Hagiographa, and would abuse them to heresy and impiety, he delivered to Moses an oral exposition : nor would he allow it to be committed to writing, till the sects of the Edomites and Ishmaelites had arisen, lest this also should be translated by the Gentiles, and perverted to the same evil purposes as the written law. In the world to come, God will inquire who are his children. Then the Gentiles as well as the Israelites shall produce the book of the law, and they shall both affirm themselves to be his children. Therefore God will inquire again, with whom is the oral exposition which he delivered on mount Sinai. At this all will be dumb, and not one, except Israel, will be found to have any knowledge of it.' p. 34.
There is one circumstance of excellence in this account, which we are unwilling to pass by without notice. It is that of referring the inquiry into the religious character of mankind, to the world to come,' the only proper state for so great and solemn a business. This is undoubtedly the dictation of correct feeling. The Rabbids were quite just in thus reserving the judging of men, on a religious account, to the world to come, and in investing God alone with the right of examination. They nevertheless frequently ventured to give decisions in direct opposition to this just rule. It was not always a part of their code of opinions, to refrain from anathematizing and punishing with death persons whose religious profession did not please them. Judaism, like Popery, with which in many respects it symbolizes, sanctions the extirpation of those who refuse submission to its dogmas; happily, its arm of power is not equal to the execution of its will.
The Author seems to have taken more than necessary pains, to prove the oral law to be a fiction. The absurdities with which it abounds, furnish their own refutation. Our readers may com pare the following specimens of the Mishnic laws, with the Mosaic Statutes which relate to compensation for damages.
• If an ass eat a peck of dates, the property of another man, dates not being its usual food, and not being supposed to nourish more than an equal quantity of barley ; the owner of the ass shall pay, not the value of a peck of dates, but only the value of a peck of barley.If a beast belonging to an Israelite trespass and feed in the field of one who is not an Israelite, the Mishna exempts the owner of the beast from all obligation to make restitution. In cases of damage it allows none but Israelites to be witnesses. --If the beast of an Israelite gore the beast of an alien, there need be no compensation; but if an alien's beast gore the beast of an Israelite, nothing less than full restitution is required.' p. 53.
Popery has its miracles : so bas Modern Judaism. We shall treat our readers with an extract from Mr. Allen's chapter on the Cabbala, containing an account of two notáble achievements.
• A famous rabbi, who lived in the thirteenth century, relates two marvellous adventures :-one of a Jew, who, being sentenced to be burnt alive for adultery, contrived by his cabbalistic skill, that the executioners of justice mistook a horse for him, and burnt the horse in his stead ; so that he escaped :--the other of himself, --that at Barcelona, in the presence of the King, he, by a cabbalistical use of the name Jehovah, actually launched a ship, after the shipwrights had done their utmost to launch it, and abandoned the attempt as-impracticable.' p. 71.
The Modern Synagogue has adopted, as the standard of Jewish faith, the summary of essential doctrines composed by Maimonides in the twelfth century; which all Jews are expected to believe, and which are inserted in their prayer-books. Besides these articles of doctrine, the Jewish religion, as taught by modern Rabbies, includes six hundred and thirteen precepts, divided into two classes, afirmative and negative. The affirmative amount to two hundred and forty-eight; corresponding, according to rabbinical analogy, to the number of members in the buman body; the negative, which, according to the same authority, answer to the veins or smaller vessels, are three hundred and sixty five. The negative precepts are accounted obligatory on every Israelite at all times: the observance of the affirmative is so regulated, as to render this part of Jewish obedience very easy. The doctrines of the Jewish faith delivered by Maimonides, and which are to be professed by every Israelite, on pain of excision from the communion of Israel in this world, and condeinnation with the wicked in the next, are comprised in thirteen articles, as follows.
• I. I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) is the Creator and Governor of all creatures, that he alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
• II. I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) is only one, in unity to which there is no resemblance, and that he alone has been, is, and will be our God.
• III. I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) is not corporeal, nor to be comprehended by an understanding capable of comprehending what is corporeal; and that there is nothing like him in the universe
• IV. I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) is the first and the last.
• V I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) is the only object of adoration, and that no other being whatever ought to be worshipped
• Vi. I believe with a perfect faith, that all the words of the prophets are true.
• VII. I believe with a perfect faith, that the prophecies of Moses our master (may he rest in peace) are true; and that he is the father of all the wise men, as well of those who went before him, as of those who have succeeded him.
• VIII. I believe with a perfect faith, that the whole law which we have in our hands at this day, was delivered by Moses our master, (may he rest in peace.)
• ix. I believe with a perfect faith, that this law will never be changed, and that no other law will ever be given by the Creator, (blessed be his name.)
• X. I believe with a perfect faith, that the Creator (blessed be his name) knows all the actions of men, and all their thoughts, as it is said ; " He fashioneth all the hearts of them, and understandeth all their works.”