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Title: The Haskalah Movement in Russia
Author: Jacob S. Raisin
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THE HASKALAH MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA
JACOB S. RAISIN, PH.D., D.D.
Author of _Sect, Creed and Custom in Judaism_, etc.
The Jewish Publication Society of America
_And the "Maskilim" shall shine
As the brightness of the firmament ...
Many shall run to and fro,
And knowledge shall be increased_.
--Dan. xii. 3-4
[Illustration: TOBIAS COHN
FROM THE FRONTISPIECE OF HIS MA'ASEH TOBIAH]
TO AARON S. RAISIN
Your name, dear father, will not be found in the following pages, for,
like "the waters of the Siloam that run softly," you ever preferred to
pursue your useful course in unassuming silence. Yet, as it is your
life, devoted entirely to meditating, learning, and teaching, that
inspired me in my effort, I dedicate this book to you; and I am happy to
know that I thus not only dedicate it to one of the noblest of Maskilim,
but at the same time offer you some slight token of the esteem and
affection felt for you by
JACOB S. RAISIN
CHAPTER I. THE PRE-HASKALAH PERIOD 17
CHAPTER II. THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION 53
CHAPTER III. THE DAWN OF HASKALAH 110
CHAPTER IV. CONFLICTS AND CONQUESTS 162
CHAPTER V. RUSSIFICATION, REFORMATION, AND ASSIMILATION 222
CHAPTER VI. THE AWAKENING 268
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TOBIAS COHN (1652-1759) Frontispiece
ISAAC BÄR LEVINSOHN (1788-1860) facing page 64
MAX LILIENTHAL (1815-1882) " " 120
ALEXANDER ZEDERBAUM (1816-1893) " " 175
PEREZ BEN MOSHEH SMOLENSKIN (1842-1885) " " 220
MOSES LÖB LILIENBLUM (1843-1910) " " 280
To the lover of mankind the history of the Russo-Jewish renaissance is
an encouraging and inspiring phenomenon. Seldom has a people made such
rapid strides forward as the Russian Jews. From the melancholy
regularity that marked their existence a little more than two
generations ago, from the darkness of the Middle Ages in which they were
steeped until the time of Alexander II, they emerged suddenly into the
life and light of the West, and some of the most intrepid devotees of
latter-day culture, both in Europe and in America, have come from among
them. Destitute of everything that makes for enlightenment, and under
the dominion of a Government which sought to extinguish the few
rushlights that scattered the shadows around them, they nevertheless
snatched victory from defeat, sloughed off medieval superstition, and,
disregarding the Dejanira shirt of modern disabilities, compelled their
countrymen to admit more than once that
Tho' I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am!
Similar movements were started in Germany during the latter part of the
eighteenth century, and in Austria, notably Galicia, at the beginning of
the nineteenth, but none stirred the mind of the Jews to the same degree
as the Haskalah movement in Russia during the last fifty years. In the
former, the removal of restrictions soon rendered attempts toward
self-emancipation unnecessary on the part of Jews, and the few Maskilim
among them, satisfied with the present, devoted themselves to
investigating and elucidating the past of their people's history. In
Russia the past was all but forgotten on account of the immediate duties
of the present. The energy and acquisitiveness that made the Jews of
happier and more prosperous lands prominent in every sphere of practical
life, were directed toward the realm of thought, and the merciless
severity with which the Government excluded them from the enjoyment of
things material only increased their ardor for things spiritual and
In its wide sense Haskalah denotes enlightenment. Those who strove to
enlighten their benighted coreligionists or disseminate European culture
among them, were called Maskilim. A careful perusal of this work will
reveal the exact ideals these terms embody. For Haskalah was not only
progressive, it was also aggressive, militant, sometimes destructive.
From the days of Mordecai Günzburg to the time of Asher Ginzberg (Ahad
Ha-'Am), it changed its tendencies and motives more than once.
Levinsohn, "the father of the Maskilim," was satisfied with removing the
ban from secular learning; Gordon wished to see his brethren "Jews at
home and men abroad"; Smolenskin dreamed of the rehabilitation of Jews
in Palestine; and Ahad Ha-'Am hopes for the spiritual regeneration of
his beloved people. Others advocated the levelling of all distinctions
between Jews and Gentiles, or the upliftment of mankind in general and
Russia in particular. To each of them Haskalah implied different ideals,
and through each it promulgated diverse doctrines. To trace these
varying phases from an indistinct glimmering in the eighteenth century
to the glorious effulgence of the beginning of the twentieth, is the
main object of this book.
In pursuance of my end, I have paid particular attention to the causes
that retarded or accelerated Russo-Jewish cultural advance. As these
causes originate in the social, economic, and political status of the
Russian Jew, I frequently portray political events as well as the state
of knowledge, belief, art, and morals of the periods under
consideration. For this reason also I have marked the boundaries of the
Haskalah epochs in correspondence to the dates of the reigns of the
several czars, though the correspondence is not always exact.
Essays have been published, on some of the topics treated in these
pages, by writers in different languages: in Russian, by Bramson,
Klausner, and Morgulis; in Hebrew, by Izgur, Katz, and Klausner; in
German, by Maimon, Lilienthal, Wengeroff, and Weissberg; in English, by
Lilienthal and Wiener; and in French, by Slouschz. The subject as a
whole, however, has not been treated. Should this work stimulate further
research, I shall feel amply rewarded. Without prejudice and without
partiality, by an honest presentation of facts drawn from what I regard
as reliable sources, I have tried to unfold the story of the struggle of
five millions of human beings for right living and rational thinking, in
the hope of throwing light on the ideals and aspirations and the real
character of the largely prejudged and misunderstood Russian Jew.
In conclusion, I wish to express my gratitude and indebtedness to those
who encouraged me to proceed with my work after some specimens of it had
been published in several Jewish periodicals, especially to Doctor
Solomon Schechter, Rabbi Max Heller, and Mr. A.S. Freidus, for their
courtesy and assistance while the work was being written.
JACOB S. RAISIN.
E. Las Vegas, N. Mex.,
Thanksgiving Day, 1909.
THE PRE-HASKALAH PERIOD
"There is but one key to the present," says Max Müller, "and that is the
past." To understand fully the growth and historical development of a
people's mind, one must be familiar with the conditions that have shaped
its present form. It would seem necessary, therefore, to introduce a
description of the Haskalah movement with a rapid survey of the history
of the Russo-Polish Jews from the time of their emergence from obscurity
up to the middle of the seventeenth century.
Among those who laid the foundations for the study of this almost
unexplored department of Jewish history, the settlement of Jews in
Russia and their vicissitudes during the dark ages, the most prominent
are perhaps Isaac Bär Levinsohn, Abraham Harkavy, and Simon Dubnow.
There is much to be said of each of these as writers, scholars, and men.
Here they concern us as Russo-Jewish historians. What Linnaeus, Agassiz,
and Cuvier did in the field of natural philosophy, they accomplished in
their chosen province of Jewish history. Levinsohn was the first to
express the opinion that the Russian Jews hailed, not from Germany, as
is commonly supposed, but from the banks of the Volga. This hypothesis,
corroborated by tradition, Harkavy established as a fact. Originally the
vernacular of the Jews of Volhynia, Podolia, and Kiev was Russian and
Polish, or, rather, the two being closely allied, Palaeo-Slavonic. The
havoc wrought by the Crusades in the Jewish communities of Western
Europe caused a constant stream of German-Jewish immigrants to pour,
since 1090, into the comparatively free countries of the Slavonians.
Russo-Poland became the America of the Old World. The Jewish settlers
from abroad soon outnumbered the native Jews, and they spread a new
language and new customs wherever they established themselves.
Whether the Jews of Russia were originally pagans from the shores of the
Black and Caspian Seas, converted to Judaism under the Khazars during
the eighth century, or Palestinian exiles subjugated by their Slavonian
conquerors and assimilated with them, it is indisputable that they
inhabited what we know to-day as Russia long before the Varangian prince
Rurik came, at the invitation of Scythian and Sarmatian savages, to lay
the foundation of the Muscovite empire. In Feodosia there is a synagogue
at least a thousand years old. The Greek inscription on a marble slab,
dating back to 80-81 B.C.E., preserved in the Imperial Hermitage in St.
Petersburg, makes it certain that they flourished in the Crimea before
the destruction of the Temple. In a communication to the Russian
Geographical Society, M. Pogodin makes the statement, that there still
exist a synagogue and a cemetery in the Crimea that belong to the
pre-Christian era. Some of the tombstones, bearing Jewish names, and
decorated with the seven-branched Menorah, date back to 157 B.C.E.;
while Chufut-Kale, also known as the Rock of the Jews (Sela'
ha-Yehudim), from the fortress supposed to have been built there by the
Jews, would prove Jewish settlements to have been made there during the
Babylonian or Persian captivity.
Though the same antiquity cannot be established for other Jewish
settlements, we know that Kiev, "the mother of Russian cities," had many
Jews long before the eighth century, who thus antedated the Russians as
citizens. According to Joseph Hakohen they came there from Persia in
690, according to Malishevsky in 776. It is certain that their influence
was felt as early as the latter part of the tenth century. The Russian
Chronicles ascribed to Nestor relate that they endeavored, in 986, to
induce Grand Duke Vladimir to accept their religion. They did not
succeed as they had succeeded two centuries before with the khan of the
Khazars. Yet the grand duke, who had the greatest influence in
introducing and spreading Greek Catholicism, and who is now worshipped
as a saint, was always favorably disposed toward them.
There were other places that were inhabited early by Jews. There are
traditions to the effect that Jews lived in Poland as early as the ninth
century, and under the Boreslavs (992-1278) they are said to have
enjoyed considerable privileges, carried on a lively trade, and spread
as far as Kiev. Chernigov in Little Russia (the Ukraine), Baku in South
Russia (Transcaucasia), Kalisz and Warsaw, Brest and Grodno, in West
Russia (Russian Poland), all possess Jewish communities of considerable
antiquity. In the townlet Eishishki, near Vilna, a tombstone set in 1171
was still in existence at the end of the last century, and Khelm,
Government Kovno, has a synagogue to which tradition ascribes an age of
eight hundred years.
The Jewish population in all these communities was prosperous and
respected. Jews were in favor with the Government, enjoyed equal rights
with their Gentile neighbors, and were especially prominent as traders
and farmers of taxes. Their monoxyla, or one-oared canoes, loaded with
silks, furs, and precious metals, issued from the Borysthanes, traversed
the Baltic and the Euxine, the Oder and the Bosphorus, the Danube and
the Black Sea, and carried on the commerce between the Turks and the
Slavonians. They were granted the honorable and lucrative privilege of
directing and controlling the mints, and that of putting Hebrew as well
as Slavonic inscriptions on their coins. In the Lithuanian Magna
Charta, granted by Vitold in 1388, the Jews of Brest were given many
rights, and about a year later those of Grodno were permitted to engage
in all pursuits and occupations, and exempted from paying taxes on
synagogues and cemeteries. They possessed full jurisdiction in their own
affairs. Some were raised to the nobility, notably the Josephovich
brothers, Abraham and Michael. Under King Alexander Jagellon, Abraham
was assessor of Kovno, alderman of Smolensk, and prefect of Minsk; he
was called "sir" (jastrzhembets), was presented with the estates of
Voidung, Grinkov, and Troki (1509), and appointed Secretary of the
Treasury in Lithuania (1510). The other brother, Michael, was made
"fiscal agent to the king." In the eighteenth century, Andrey
Abramovich, of the same family but not of the Jewish faith, was senator
and castellan of Brest-Litovsk. They were not unique exceptions.
Abraham Shmoilovich of Turisk is spoken of as "honorable sir" in leases
of large estates. Affras Rachmailovich and Judah Bogdanovich figure
among the merchant princes of Livonia and Lithuania; and Francisco Molo,
who settled later in Amsterdam, was financial agent of John III of
Poland in 1679. The influence of the last-named was so great with the
Dutch States-General that the Treaty of Ryswick was concluded with Louis
XIV, in 1697, through his mediation.
That Russo-Poland should have elected a Jewish king on two occasions, a
certain Abraham Prochovnik in 842 and the famous Saul Wahl in the
sixteenth century, sounds legendary; but that there was a Jewish queen,
called Esterka, is probable, and that some Jews attained to political
eminence is beyond reasonable doubt. Records have been discovered
concerning two envoys, Saul and Joseph, who served the Slavonic czar
about 960, and an interesting story is told of two Jewish soldiers,
Ephraim Moisievich and Anbal the Jassin, who won the confidence of
Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky of Kiev, and afterwards became leaders in a
conspiracy against him (1174). Henry, Duke of Anjou, the successor
of Sigismud August on the throne of Poland and Lithuania, owed his
election mainly to the efforts of Solomon Ashkenazi. Ivan Vassilyevich,
too, had many and important relations with Jews, and his favorable
attitude towards them is amply proved by the fact that his family
physician was the Jew Leo (1490). Throughout his reign he maintained an
uninterrupted friendship with Chozi Kokos, a Jew of the Crimea, and he
did not hesitate to offer hospitality and protection to Zacharias de
Guizolfi, though the latter was not in a position to reciprocate such
In addition there are less prominent individuals who received honors at
the hands of their non-Jewish countrymen. Meïr Ashkenazi of Kaffa, in
the Crimea, who was slain by pirates on a trip from "Gava to Dakhel,"
was envoy of the khan of the Tatars to the king of Poland in the
sixteenth century. Mention is made of "Jewish Cossacks," who
distinguished themselves on the field of battle, and were elevated to
the rank of major and colonel. While the common opinion regarding
Jews expressed itself in merry England in such ballads as "The Jewish
Dochter," and "Gernutus, the Jew of Venice," many a Little Russian song
had the bravery of a Jewish soldier as its burden. In everything save
religion the Jews were hardly distinguishable from their neighbors.
There are--writes Cardinal Commendoni, an eye-witness--a great
many Jews in these provinces, including Lithuania, who are not,
as in other places, regarded with disrespect. They do not
maintain themselves miserably by base profits; they are landed
proprietors, are engaged in business, and even devote themselves
to the study of literature and, above all, to medicine and
astronomy; they hold almost everywhere the commission of levying
customs duties, are classed among the most honest people, wear
no outward mark to distinguish them from the Christians, and are
permitted to carry swords and walk about with their arms. In a
word they have equal rights with the other citizens.
A similar statement is made by Joseph Delmedigo, who spent many years in
Livonia and Lithuania as physician to Prince Radziwill.
In his inimitable manner Gibbon describes the fierce struggle the Greek
Catholic Church had to wage before she obtained a foothold in Russia,
but he neglects to mention the fact that Judaism no less than paganism
was among her formidable opponents. The contest lasted several
centuries, and in many places it is undecided to this day. The
Khazars, who had become proselytes in the eighth century, were
constantly encroaching upon Russian Christianity. Buoyant as both were
with the vigor of youth, missionary zeal was at its height among the two
contending religions. Each made war upon the other. We read that Photius
of Constantinople sent a message of thanks to Archbishop Anthony of
Kertch (858-859) for his efforts to convert the Jews; that the first
Bishop of the Established Church (1035) was "Lukas, the little Jew"
(Luka Zhidyata), who was appointed to his office by Yaroslav; and that
St. Feodosi Pechersky was fond of conversing with learned Jews on
matters of theology. On the other hand, the efforts of the Jews were
not without success. The baptism of the pious Olga marks an era in
Russian Christianity, the beginning of the "Judaizing heresy," which
centuries of persecution only strengthened. In 1425, Zacharias of Kiev,
who is reputed to have "studied astrology, necromancy, and various other
magic arts," converted the priest Dionis, the Archbishop Aleksey, and,
through the latter, many more clergymen of Novgorod, Moscow, and Pskov.
Aleksey became a devout Jew. He called himself Abraham and his wife
Sarah. Yet, strange to say, he retained the favor of the Grand Duke Ivan
Vassilyevich, even after the latter's daughter-in-law, Princess Helena,
his secretary Theodore Kuritzin, the Archimandrite Sosima, the monk
Zacharias, and other persons of note had entered the fold of Judaism
through his influence.
The "heresy" spread over many parts of the empire, and the number of its
adherents constantly grew. Archbishop Nikk complains that in the very
monastery of Moscow there were presumably converted Jews, "who had again
begun to practice their old Jewish religion and demoralize the young
monks." In Poland, too, proselytism was of frequent occurrence,
especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The religious
tolerance of Casimir IV (1434-1502) and his immediate successors, and
the new doctrines preached by Huss and Luther, which permeated the upper
classes of society, rendered the Poles more liberal on the one hand, and
on the other the Jews more assertive. We hear of a certain nobleman,
George Morschtyn, who married a Jewess, Magdalen, and had his daughter
raised in the religion of her mother. In fact, at a time when Jews in
Spain assumed the mask of Christianity to escape persecution, Russian
and Polish Christians by birth could choose, with little fear of danger,
to lead the Jewish life. It was not till about the eighteenth century
that the Government began to resort to the usual methods of eradicating
heresy. Katharina Weigel, a lady famous for her beauty, who embraced
Judaism, was decapitated in Cracow at the instigation of Bishop Peter
Gamrat. On the deposition of his wife, Captain Vosnitzin of the Polish
navy was put to death by auto-da-fé (July 15, 1738). The eminent "Ger
Zedek," Count Valentine Pototzki, less fortunate than his comrade and
fellow-convert Zaremba, was burnt at the stake in Vilna (May 24, 1749),
and his teacher in the Jewish doctrines, Menahem Mann, was tortured and
executed a few months later, at the age of seventy. But these measures
proved of little avail. According to Martin Bielski, the noted
historian, Jews saved their proselytes from the impending doom by
transporting them to Turkey. Many of them sought refuge in Amsterdam.
For those who remained behind their new coreligionists provided through
collections made for that purpose in Russia and in Germany. To this day
these Russian and Polish proselytes adhere steadfastly to their faith,
and whether they migrate to America or Palestine to escape the
persecution of their countrymen, they seldom, if ever, indulge in the
latitudinarianism into which many of longer Jewish lineage fall so
readily when removed from old moorings.
That the Russian Jews of the day were not altogether unenlightened, that
they not only practiced the Law devoutly, but also studied it
diligently, and cultivated the learning of the time as well, we may
safely infer from researches recently made. Cyril, or Constantine, "the
philosopher," the apostle to the Slavonians, acquired a knowledge of
Hebrew while at Kherson, and was probably aided by Jews in his
translation of the Bible into Slavonic. Manuscripts of Russo-Jewish
commentaries to the Scriptures, written as early as 1094 and 1124, are
still preserved in the Vatican and Bodleian libraries, and copyists were
doing fairly good work at Azov in 1274.
Jewish scholars frequented celebrated seats of learning in foreign
lands. Before the end of the twelfth century traces of them are to be
found in France, Italy, and Spain. That in the eleventh century Judah
Halevi of Toledo and Nathan of Rome should have been familiar with
Russian words cannot but be attributed to their contact with Russian
Jews. However, in the case of these two scholars, it may possibly be
ascribed to their great erudition or extensive travels. But the many
Slavonic expressions occurring in the commentaries of Rashi (1040-1105),
and employed by Joseph Caro (ab. 1140), Benjamin of Tudela (ab. 1160),
and Isaac of Vienna (ab. 1250), lend color to Harkavy's contention, that
Russian was once the vernacular of the Russian Jews, and they also argue
in favor of our contention, that these natives of the "land of
Canaan"--as the country of the Slavs was then called in Hebrew--came
into personal touch with the "lights and leaders" of other Jewish
communities. Indeed, Rabbi Moses of Kiev is mentioned as one of the
pupils of Jacob Tam, the Tosafist of France (d. 1170), and Asheri, or
Rosh, of Spain is reported to have had among his pupils Rabbi Asher and
Master (Bahur) Jonathan from Russia. From these peripatetic scholars
perhaps came the martyrs of 1270, referred to in the _Memorbuch_ of
Mayence. It was Rabbi Moses who, while still in Russia, corresponded
with Samuel ben Ali, head of the Babylonian Academy, and called the
attention of Western scholars to certain Gaonic decisions. Another
rabbi, Isaac, or Itshke, of Chernigov, was probably the first Talmudist
in England, and his decisions were regarded as authoritative on certain
occasions. These and others like them wrote super-commentaries on the
commentaries of Rashi and Ibn Ezra, the most popular and profound
scholars medieval Jewry produced, and made copies of the works of other
Soon the Russo-Polish Jews established at home what they had been
compelled to seek abroad. Hearing of the advantages offered in the great
North-East, German Jews flocked thither in such numbers as to dominate
and absorb the original Russians and Poles. A new element asserted
itself. Names like Ashkenazi, Heilperin, Hurwitz, Landau, Luria,
Margolis, Schapiro, Weil, Zarfati, etc., variously spelled, took the
place, through intermarriage and by adoption, of the ancient Slavonic
nomenclature. The language, manners, modes of thought, and, to a certain
extent, even the physiognomy of the earlier settlers, underwent a more
or less radical change. In some provinces the conflict lasted longer
than in others. To this day not a few Russian Jews would seem to be of
Slavonic rather than Semitic extraction. As late as the sixteenth
century there was still a demand in certain places for a Russian
translation of the Hebrew Book of Common Prayer, and in 1635 Rabbi Meïr
Ashkenazi, who came from Frankfort-on-the-Main to study in Lublin, and
was retained as rabbi in Mohilev-on-the-Dnieper, had cause to exclaim,
"Would to God that our coreligionists all spoke the same
language--German." Even Maimon, in the latter half of the eighteenth
century, mentions one, by no means an exception, who did not "understand
the Jewish language, and made use, therefore, of the Russian." But
by the middle of the seventeenth century the amalgamation was almost
complete. It resulted in a product entirely new. As the invasion of
England by the Normans produced the Anglo-Saxon, so the inundation of
Russia by the Germans produced the Slav-Teuton. This is the clue to the
study of the Haskalah, as will appear from what follows.
Russo-Poland gradually became the cynosure of the Talmudic world, the
"Aksanye shel Torah," the asylum of the Law, whence "enlargement and
deliverance" arose for the traditions which the Jews carried with them,
through fire and water, during the dreary centuries of their dispersion.
It became to Jews what Athens was to ancient Greece, Rome to medieval
Christendom, New England to our early colonies. With the invention and
importation of the printing-press, the publication and acquisition of
the Bible, the Talmud, and most of the important rabbinic works were
facilitated. As a consequence, yeshibot, or colleges, for the study of
Jewish literature, were founded in almost every community. Their fame
reached distant lands. It became a popular saying that "from Kiev shall
go forth the Law, and the word of God from Starodub." Horodno, the
vulgar pronunciation of Grodno, was construed to mean Har Adonaï, "the
Mount of the Lord." A pious rabbi did not hesitate to write to a
colleague, "Be it known to the high honor of your glory that it is
preferable by far to dwell in the land of the Russ and promote the study
of the Torah in Israel than in the land of Israel." Especially the
part of Poland ultimately swallowed up by Russia was the new Palestine
of the Diaspora. Thither flocked all desirous of becoming adepts in the
dialectics of the rabbis, "of learning how to swim in the sea of the
Talmud." It was there that the voluminous works of Hebrew literature
were studied, literally "by day and by night," and the subtleties of the
Talmudists were developed to a degree unprecedented in Jewish history.
Thither was sent, from the distant Netherlands, the youngest son of
Manasseh ben Israel, and he "became mighty in the Talmud and master of
four languages." Thither came, from Prague, the afterwards famous
Cabbalist, author, and rabbi, Isaiah Horowitz (ab. 1555-1630), and there
he chose to remain the rest of his days. Thither also went, from
Frankfort, the above-mentioned Meïr Ashkenazi, who, according to some,
was the first author of note in White Russia.
From everywhere they came "to pour water on the hands and sit at the
feet" of the great ones of the second Palestine.
For Jewish solidarity was more than a word in those days. "Sefardim" had
not yet learned to boast of aristocratic lineage, nor "Ashkenazim" to
look down contemptuously upon their Slavonic coreligionists. It was
before the removal of civil disabilities from one portion of the Jewish
people had sowed the seed of arrogance toward the other less favored
portion. Honor was accorded to whom it was due, regardless of the
locality in which he happened to have been born. Glückel von Hameln
states in her _Memoirs_ that preference was sometimes given to the
decisions of the "great ones of Poland," and mentions with pride that
her brother Shmuel married the daughter of the great Reb Shulem of
Lemberg. With open arms, Amsterdam, Frankfort, Fürth, Konigsberg,
Metz, Prague, and other communities renowned for wealth and learning,
welcomed the acute Talmudists of Brest, Grodno, Kovno, Lublin, Minsk,
and Vilna, whenever they were willing or compelled to consider a call.
The practice of summoning Russo-Polish rabbis to German posts was
carried so far that it aroused the displeasure of the Western scholars,
and they complained of being slighted.
The reverence for Slavonic learning was strikingly illustrated during
the years following the Cossack massacres, when many Russo-Polish rabbis
fled for safety to foreign lands. Frankfort, Fürth, Prague, and Vienna
successively elected the fugitive Shabbataï Horowitz of Ostrog as their
religious guide. David Taz of Vladimir became rabbi of Steinitz in
Moravia; Ephraim Hakohen was called to Trebitsch in Moravia and to Ofen
in Hungary; David of Lyda, to Mayence and Amsterdam, and Naphtali Kohen,
to Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1704, and later to Breslau. No less
personages than Isaac Aboab and Saul Morteira welcomed the
merchant-Talmudist Moses Rivkes of Vilna when he sought refuge in
Amsterdam, and they entrusted to him the task of editing the _Shulhan
'Aruk_, his marginal notes to which, the _Beër ha-Golah_, have ever
since been printed with the text. In addition to rabbis, Lithuania and
other provinces furnished teachers for the young, melammedim, who
exerted considerable influence upon the people among whom they lived.
Their opinions, we are told, were highly valued in the choice of
It must not be supposed that supremacy in the Talmud was secured at the
cost of secular knowledge, or what was then regarded as such. Their
familiarity with other branches of study was not inferior to that of the
Jews in better-known lands. Not a few of the prominent men united piety
with philosophy, and thorough knowledge of the Talmud with mastery of
one or more of the sciences of the time. Data on this phase of the
subject might have been much more abundant, had not the storm of
persecution suddenly swept over the communities, destroying them and
their records. What we still possess indicates what may have been lost.
The Ukraine was famous for its scholars. Among them was Jehiel Michael
of Nemirov, reputed to have been "versed in all the sciences of the
world." Several of them were poets and grammarians. Poems of a
liturgical character are still extant in which they bemoan their plight
or assert their faith hopefully. Such were the poems of Ephraim of
Khelm, Joseph of Kobrin, Solomon of Zamoscz, and Shabbataï Kohen. The
last, eminent as a Talmudist, the author of commentaries on the _Shulhan
'Aruk_ approved by the leading rabbis of his generation, is also known
as a very trustworthy historian. His _Megillah 'Afah_, written in
classic Hebrew, is a valuable source of information on the critical
period in which he lived. He won the esteem of the Polish nobility by
his secular attainments. To judge from his correspondence, he must have
been on intimate terms with Vidrich of Leipsic. Of the grammarians,
Jacob Zaslaver wrote on the Massorah, and Shabbataï Sofer was the author
of annotations and treatises. Our taste in poetry and grammar is no
longer the same, but the polemic and apologetic writings of those days,
called forth by the discussions between Rabbanites and Karaites and by
the constant attacks of Christianity, are still of uncommon interest.
Specimens of the former kind are the polemics of Moses of Shavli, which
caused consternation in the camp of the Karaites. Of the apologetic
writings should be mentioned the reply, in Polish, of Jacob Nahman of
Belzyc to Martin Chekhovic (Lublin, 1581), and the _Hizzuk Emunah_ of
the Karaite Isaac ben Abraham of Troki. In the latter the weakness of
Christianity and the strength of Judaism are pointed out with trenchancy
never before reached. The work stirred up heated discussions among the
various Christian sects, with the tenets of which the author was
intimately acquainted. It was translated into Latin (1681, 1705),
Yiddish (1717), English (1851), and German (1865, 1873). Voltaire says
that all the arguments used by free-thinkers against Christianity were
drawn from it.
In philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, the three main branches of
medieval knowledge, many Slavonian Jews attained eminence. Devout
Karaites as well as diligent Talmudists found secular learning a
diversion and a delight. For the lovers of enlightenment Italy,
especially Padua, was the centre of attraction, as France and Spain had
been before, and Germany, particularly Berlin, became afterwards.
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century we find young Delacrut at
the University of Bologna, the philosopher and Cabbalist, known for his
commentaries to Gikatilla's _Sha'are Orah_ (Cracow, 1600) and Ben
Avigdor's _Mar'eh ha-Ofanim_ (1720), and his translation of Gossuin's
_L'image du monde_ (Amsterdam, 1733). His famous disciple Mordecai Jaffe
(Lebushim) spent ten years in the study of astronomy and mathematics
before he occupied the rabbinate of Grodno (1572) At the request of
Yom-Tob Lipman Heller, Joseph ben Isaac Levi wrote a commentary on
Maimuni's _Moreh Nebukim_, which was published with the former's
annotations, _Gibe'at ha-Moreh_ (Prague, 1611). Deservedly or not,
Eliezer Mann was called "the Hebrew Socrates"; and many a Maskil in his
study of mathematics turned for guidance to Manoah Handel of
Brzeszticzka, Volhynia, author and translator of several scientific
works, who rendered seven Euclidean propositions into Hebrew.
Polyglots they were compelled to be by force of circumstances. When the
exotic Judeo-German finally asserted itself as the vernacular, the
language in which they wrote and prayed was still the ancient Hebrew,
with which every one was familiar, and commercial intercourse with their
Gentile neighbors was hardly feasible without at least a smattering of
the local Slavonic dialect. "Look at our brethren in Poland," exclaims
Wessely many years later in his address to his countrymen. "They
converse with their neighbors in good Polish.... What excuse have we for
our brogue and jargon?" He might have had still better cause for
complaint, had he been aware that the Yiddish of the Russo-Polish Jews,
despite its considerable Slavonic admixture, was purer German than that
of his contemporaries in Germany, even as the English of our New England
colonies was superior to the Grub Street style prevalent in Dr.
Johnson's England, and the Spanish of our Mexican annexations to the
Castilian spoken at the time of Coronado. But we are here concerned with
their knowledge of foreign languages. We shall refer only to the
Hebrew-German-Italian-Latin-French dictionary _Safah Berurah_ (Prague,
1660; Amsterdam, 1701) by the eminent Talmudist Nathan Hannover.
In medicine Jews were pre-eminent in the Slavonic countries, as they
were everywhere else. They were in great demand as court physicians,
though several had to pay with their lives "for having failed to effect
cures." Doctor Leo, who was at the court of Moscow in 1490, was
mentioned above. Jacob Isaac, the "nobleman of Jerusalem" (Yerosalimska
shlyakhta), was attached to the court of Sigismund, where he was held in
high esteem. Prince Radziwill's physician was Itshe Nisanovich, and
among those in attendance on John Sobieski were Jonas Casal and Abraham
Troki, the latter the author of several works on medicine and natural
Medieval Jewish physicians were prone to travel, and those of
Russo-Poland were no exception. We find them in almost every part of the
civilized world, and their number increases with the disappearance of
prejudice. Some were noted Talmudists, such as Solomon Luria and Samuel
ben Mattathias. Abraham Ashkenazi Apotheker was not only a compounder of
herbs but a healer of souls, for the edification of which he wrote his
_Elixir of Life_ (_Sam Hayyim_, Prague, 1590). To the same class belong
Moses Katzenellenbogen and his son Hayyim, who was styled Gaon. In 1657
Hayyim visited Italy. He was welcomed by the prominent Jews of Mantua,
Modena, Venice, and Verona, but he preferred to continue the practice of
his profession in his home town Lublin. Nor may we omit the names of
Stephen von Gaden and Moses Coën, because of their high standing among
their colleagues and the honors conferred upon them for their
statesmanship. Stephen von Gaden, who with Samuel Collins was
physician-in-ordinary to Czar Aleksey Mikhailovich, was instrumental in
removing many disabilities from the Jews of Moscow and in the interior
of Russia. Moses Coën, in consequence of the Cossack uprising, escaped
to Moldavia, and was made court physician by the hospodar Vassile Lupu.
But for Coën, Lupu would have been dethroned by those who conspired
against him. To his loyalty may probably be attributed the kind
treatment Moldavian Jews later enjoyed at the hands of the prince. Coën
also exposed the secret alliance between Russia and Sweden against
Turkey, and his advice was sought by the doge of Venice.
The personage who typifies best the enlightened Slavonic Jew of the
pre-Haskalah period is Tobias Cohn (1652-1729). He was the son and
grandson of physicians, who practiced at Kamenetz-Podolsk and Byelsk,
and after 1648 went to Metz. After their father's death, he and his
older brother returned to Poland, whence Tobias, in turn, emigrated
first to Italy and then to Turkey. In Adrianople he was
physician-in-ordinary to five successive sultans. In the history of
medicine he is remembered as the discoverer of the _plica polonica_, and
as the publisher of a Materia Medica in three languages. To the student
of Haskalah he is interesting, because he marks the close of the old and
the beginning of the new era. Like the Maskilim of a century or two
centuries later, he compiled and edited an encyclopedia in Hebrew, that
"knowledge be increased among his coreligionists." His acquaintance with
learned works in several ancient and modern languages of which he was
master, enabled him to write his magnum opus, _Ma'aseh Tobiah_, with
tolerable ease. This work is divided into eight parts, devoted
respectively to theology, astronomy, pharmacy, hygiene, venereal
diseases, botany, cosmography, and chemistry. It is illustrated with
several plates, among them the picture of an astrolabe and one of the
human body treated as a house. From the numerous editions through which
it passed (Venice, 1707, 1715, 1728, 1769), we may conclude that it met
with marked success.
* * * * *
To understand the _raison d'Être_ of the Haskalah movement, it may not
be superfluous to cast a glance at the inner social and religious life
of the Slavonic Jews during pre-Haskalah times. The labors of the farmer
are crowned with success only when nature lends him a helping hand. His
soil must be fertile, and blessed with frequent showers. Nor would the
Maskilim have accomplished their aim, had the material they found at
hand been different from what it was.
The Jews in the land of the Slavonians were fortunate in being regarded
as aliens in a country which, as we have seen, they inhabited long
before those who claimed to be its possessors by divine right of
conquest. If their position was precarious, their sufferings were those
of a conquered nation. As the whim and fancy of the reigning prince,
knyaz, varied, they were induced one day to settle in the country by the
offer of the most flattering privileges, and the next day they were
expelled, only to be requested to return again. Now their synagogues and
cemeteries were exempt from taxation, now an additional poll-tax or
land-tax was levied on every Jew (serebshizna); one day they were
allowed to live unhampered by restrictions, then they were prohibited to
wear certain garments and ornaments, and commanded to use yellow caps
and kerchiefs to distinguish them from the Gentiles (1566).
But all this was the consequence of political subjugation. Judged by the
standard of the times, they were veritable freemen, freer than the
Huguenots of France and the Puritans of England. They were left
unmolested in the administration of their internal affairs, and were
permitted to appoint their own judges, enforce their own laws, and
support their own institutions. Forming a state within a state, they
developed a civilization contrasting strongly with that round about
them, and comparing favorably with some of the features of ours of
to-day. Slavonic Jewry was divided into four districts, consisting of
the more important communities (kahals), to which a number of smaller
ones (prikahalki) were subservient. These, known as the Jewish
Assemblies (zbori zhidovskiye), met at stated intervals. As in our
federal Government, the administrative, executive, and legislative
departments were kept distinct, and those who presided over them
(roshim) were elected annually by ballot. These roshim, or elders,
served by turns for periods of one month each. The rabbi of each
community was the chief judge, and was assisted by several inferior
judges (dayyanim). For matters of importance there were courts of appeal
established in Ostrog and Lemberg, the former having jurisdiction over
Volhynia and the Ukraine, the latter over the rest of Jewish
Russo-Poland. For inter-kahal litigation, there was a supreme court, the
Wa'ad Arba' ha-Arazot (the Synod of the Four Countries), which held its
sessions during the Lublin fair in winter and the Yaroslav fair in
summer. In cases affecting Jews and Gentiles, a decision was given by
the _judex Judaeorum_, who held his office by official appointment of
the grand duke.
So far their system of self-government appears almost a prototype of our
own. The same is true of their municipal administration. The rabbi, who
had the deciding vote in case of a dead-lock, stood in the same relation
to them as the mayor holds to us, only that his term of office,
nominally limited to three years, was actually for life or during good
behavior. Yet the power vested in him was only delegated power. A number
of selectmen, or aldermen, guarded the rights of the community with the
utmost jealousy, and tolerated no innovation, unless previously
sanctioned by them. There were also several honorary offices, with a
one-year tenure, which none could fill who had not had experience in an
inferior position. The chief duties attached to these offices were to
appraise the amount of taxation, pay the salaries of the rabbi, his
dayyanim, and the teachers of the public schools, provide for the poor,
and, above all, intercede with the Government.
Still more interesting and, for our purpose, more important were their
public and private institutions of learning. Jews have always been noted
for the solicitous care they exercise in the education of the young. The
Slavonic Jews surpassed their brethren of other countries in this
respect. At times they wrenched the tender bond of parental love in
their ardor for knowledge. With a republican form of government they
created an aristocracy, not of wealth or of blood, but of intellect. The
education of girls was, indeed, neglected. To be able to read her
prayers in Hebrew and to write Yiddish was all that was expected of a
mother in Israel. It was otherwise with the boys. Every Jew deemed
himself in duty bound to educate his son. "Learning is the best
merchandise"--_Torah iz die beste sehorah_--was the lesson inculcated
from cradle to manhood, the precept followed from manhood to old age.
All the lullabies transmitted to us from earliest times indicate the
pursuit of knowledge as the highest ambition cherished by mothers for
Patsché, patsché, little tootsies,
We shall buy us little bootsies;
Little bootsies we shall buy,
To run to heder we shall try;
Torah we'll learn and all good ma'alot (qualities),
On our wedding eve we shall solve sha'alot (ritual problems).
To have a scholarly son or son-in-law was the best passport to the
highest circles, a means of rising from the lowliest to the loftiest
station in life.
It is no wonder, then, that schools abounded in every community. At the
early age of four the child was usually sent to the heder (school;
literally, room), where he studied until he was ready for the yeshibah,
the higher "seat" of learning. The melammedim, teachers, were graded
according to their ability, and the school year consisted of two terms,
zemannim, from the first Sabbath after the Holy Days to Passover and
from after Passover to Rosh ha-Shanah. The boy's intellectual capacities
were steadily, if not systematically, cultivated, sometimes at the
expense of his bodily development. It was not unusual for a child of
seven or eight to handle a difficult problem in the Talmud, a precocity
characteristic to this day of the children hailing from Slavonic
countries. Their 'illuyim (prodigies) might furnish ample material for
more than one volume of _les enfants célèbres_.
Nor were the children of the poor left to grow up in ignorance. Learning
was free, to be had for the asking. More than this, stringent measures
were taken that no child be without instruction. Talmud Torahs were
founded even in the smallest kehillot (communities), and the students
were supplied, not only with books, but also with the necessaries of
life. Communal and individual benefactors furnished clothes, and every
member (ba'al ha-bayit) had to provide food and lodging for an indigent
pupil at least one day of each week. The "Freitisch" (free board) was an
inseparable adjunct to every school. Poor young men were not regarded as
"beggar students." They were looked upon as earning their living by
study, even as teachers by instructing. To pray for the dead or the
living in return for their support is a recent innovation, and mostly
among other than Slavonic Jews. It is a custom adopted from medieval
Christianity, and practiced in England by the poor student, who, in the
words of Chaucer,
Busily 'gan for the souls to pray
On them that gave him wherewith to scolay.
For a faithful and vivid description of the yeshibot we cannot do better
than transcribe the account given in the pages of the little pamphlet
_Yeven Mezulah_ in which Nathan Hannover, mentioned above, has left us a
reliable history of the Cossack uprisings and the Kulturgeschichte of
his own time.
I need bring no proof for the statement that nowhere was the
study of the Law so universal as in Russo-Poland. In every
community there was a well-paid dean (rosh yeshibah), who,
exempt from worry about a livelihood, devoted himself
exclusively to teaching and studying by day and by night. In
every kahal, many youths, maintained liberally, studied under
the guidance of the dean. In turn, they instructed the less
advanced, who were also supported by the community. A kahal of
fifty [families] had to provide for at least thirty such. They
boarded and lodged in the homes of their patrons, and frequently
received pocket-money in addition. Thus there was hardly a house
in which the Torah was not studied, either by the master of the
house, a son, a son-in-law, or a student stranger. They always
bore in mind the dictum of Rabba, "He who loves scholars will
have scholarly sons; he who welcomes scholars will have
scholarly sons-in-law; he who admires scholars will become
learned himself." No wonder, then, that every community swarmed
with scholars, that out of every fifty of its members at least
twenty were far advanced, and had the morenu (i.e. bachelor)
The dean was vested with absolute authority. He could punish an
offender, whether rich or poor. Everybody respected him, and he
often received gifts of money or valuables. In all religious
processions he came first. Then followed the students, then the
learned, and the rest of the congregation brought up the rear.
This veneration for the dean prompted many a youth to imitate
his example, and thus our country was rendered full of the
knowledge of the Law.
What became of the students when they were graduated? Let us turn once
more to Hannover's interesting narrative. The "fairs" of those days were
much more than opportunities for barter; they afforded favorable and
attractive occasions for other objects. Zaslav and Yaroslav during the
summer, Lemberg and Lublin in the winter, were "filled with hundreds of
deans and thousands of students," and one who had a marriageable
daughter had but to resort thither to have his worries allayed.
Therefore, "Jews and Jewesses attended these bazaars in magnificent
attire, and [each season] several hundred, sometimes as many as a
thousand, alliances were consummated."
That the rabbi, living in a strange land and recalling a glorious past,
should have indulged in a bit of exaggeration in his sorrowful
retrospect, is not more than natural; and that his picture on the whole
is true is proved by similar schools which existed in Russia till
recently. The descriptions of these institutions by Smolenskin as well
as writers of less repute are graphic and intensely interesting. They
constituted a unique world, in which the Jewish youth lived and moved
until he reached man's estate. In later years, when Russian Jewry became
infected, so to speak, with the Aufklärungs-bacilli, they became the
nurseries of the new learning. But in the earlier time, too, a spirit of
enlightenment pervaded them. The study of the Talmud fostered in them
was regarded both as a religious duty and as a means to an end, the
rabbinate. Even in the Middle Ages Aristotle was a favorite with the
older students, and Solomon Luria complained that in the prayer books of
many of them he had noticed the prayer of Aristotle, for which he blamed
the liberal views of Moses Isserles!
Another typically, though not exclusively, Slavonic Jewish institution
was the study-hall, or bet ha-midrash. As the synagogues gradually
became Schulen (schools), so, by a contrary process, the bet ha-midrash
assumed the function of a house of prayer. Its uniqueness it has
retained to this day. It was at once a library, a reading-room, and a
class-room; yet those who frequented it were bound by the rigorous laws
of none of the three. There were no restrictions as to when, or what, or
how one should study. It was a place in which originality was admired
and research encouraged. As at a Spartan feast, youth and age
commingled, men of all ages and diverse attainments exchanged views, and
all benefited by mutual contact.
Those whose position precluded devotion to study availed themselves at
least of the means for mutual improvement at their disposal. They
organized societies for the study of certain branches of Jewish lore,
and for the meetings of these societies the busiest spared time and the
poorest put aside his work. It was a people composed of scholars and
those who maintained scholars, and the scholars, in dress and
appearance, represented the aristocracy, an aristocracy of the
Such was the pre-Haskalah period. From the meagre data at our disposal
we are justified in concluding, that, left undisturbed, the Slavonic
Jews would have evolved a civilization rivalling, if not surpassing,
that of the golden era of the Spanish Jews. But this was not to be.
Their onward march met a sudden and terrific check. Hetman Chmielnicki
at the head of his savage hordes of Russians and Tatars conquered the
Poles, and Jews and Catholics were subjected to the most inhuman
treatment. The descendants of those who, in 1090, had escaped the
Crusaders fell victims in 1648 to the more cruel Cossacks. About half a
million Jews, it is estimated, lost their lives in Chmielnicki's
horrible massacres. The few communities remaining were utterly
demoralized. The education of the young was neglected, both sacred and
secular branches of study were abandoned. And when the storm calmed
down, they found themselves deprived of the accumulations of centuries,
forced, like Noah after the deluge, but without his means, to start
again from the very beginning. Indeed, as Levinsohn remarks, the wonder
is that, despite the fiendish persecution they endured, these
unfortunates should have preserved a spark of love of knowledge. Yet a
little later it was to burst into flame again and bring light and warmth
to hearts crushed by "man's inhumanity to man."
(Notes, pp. 305-310.)
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION
The storm of persecution that had been brewing in the sixteenth century,
and which burst in all its fury by the middle of the seventeenth
century, was allayed but little by the rivers of blood that streamed
over the length and breadth of the Slavonic land. Half a million Jewish
victims were not sufficient to satisfy the followers of a religion of
love. They only whetted their insatiable appetite. The anarchy among the
Gentiles increased the misery of the Jews. The towns fell into the hands
of the Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, and Tatars successively, and it was
upon the Jews that the hounds of war were let loose at each defeat or
conquest. Determined to exterminate each other, they joined forces in
exterminating the Jews. When Bratzlav, for instance, was destroyed by
the Tatars, in 1479, more than four hundred of its six hundred Jewish
citizens were slain. When the city was attacked by the Cossacks in 1569,
the greater number of the plundered and murdered were Jews. The same
happened when Chmielnicki gained the upper hand in Bratzlav in 1648,
again when the Russians slaughtered all the inhabitants in 1664, and
when the Tatars plotted against their victorious enemy, Peter the
Great. Swedish attacks without and popular uprisings within rendered
the Polish pan (dubbed among Jews poriz, rowdy or ruffian) as reckless
as he was irresponsible. The Jew became for him a sponge to be squeezed
for money, and a clown to contribute to his brutal amusements. The
subtle and baneful influence of the Jesuits succeeded, besides, in
introducing religion into politics and making the Jew the scapegoat for
the evils of both. The _Judaeus infidelis_ was the target of abuse and
persecution. It was only the fear that the Government's exchequer might
suffer that prevented his being turned into a veritable slave. His
condition, indeed, was worse than slavery; his life was worth less than
a beast's. It was frequently taken for the mere fun of it, and with
impunity. An overseer once ordered all Jewish mothers living on the
estate to climb to the tree-tops and leave their little ones below. He
then fired at the children, and when the women fell from the trees at
the horrible sight, he presented each with a piece of money, and thanked
them for the pleasure they had afforded him.
In the cities, though the pan's excesses were bound to be somewhat
bridled there, the lot of the Jews was equally gloomy. They were treated
like outlaws, were forbidden to engage in all but a few branches of
trade or handicraft, or to live with Christians, or employ them as
servants. In 1720 they were prohibited to build new synagogues or even
repair the old ones. Sometimes the synagogues were locked "by order
of ..." until a stipulated amount of money bought permission to reopen
them. We of to-day can hardly imagine what pain a Jew of that time
experienced when he hastened to the house of God on one of the great
Holy Days only to find its doors closed by the police!
Their status was no better in Lithuania and Great Russia. The accession
of Ivan IV, the Terrible (1533-1584), dealt their former comparative
prosperity a blow from which it has not recovered to this day. As if to
remove the impression of liberalism made by his predecessor and
obliterate from memory his amicable relations with Doctor Leo, de
Guizolfi, and Chozi Kolos, this monster czar, with the fiendishness of a
Caligula, but lacking the accomplishments of his heathen prototype,
delighted to invent tortures for inoffensive Jews. He expelled them from
Moscow, and deprived them of the right of travel from place to place.
During his occupancy of Polotsk he ordered all Jews residing there
either to become converts to Greek Catholicism or choose between being
drowned in the Dwina and burnt at the stake.
But even the removal of the terrible czar and the dawn of the century of
reason and humanitarianism failed to effect a change for the better in
the condition of the Slavonic Jews. For a while it appeared as if the
Zeitgeist might penetrate even into Russo-Poland, and the Renaissance
and the Reformation would not pass over the eastern portion of Europe
without beneficent results. In Lithuania Calvinism threatened to oust
Catholicism, science and culture began to be pursued, and Jewish and
Gentile children attended the same schools. The successors of Ivan IV
were men of better breeding, and the praiseworthy attempts of Peter the
Great to introduce Western civilization are known to all. But
Slavonic soil has never been susceptible to the elevating influences
that have transformed the rest of Europe. Every reformatory effort was
nipped in the bud. The lot of the Jews accordingly grew from bad to
worse. In 1727 they were expelled from the Ukraine and other provinces,
and they were recalled, "for the benefit of the citizens," only at the
instance of Apostol, the hetman of the very Cossacks that had massacred
them in 1648. Baruch Leibov was burned alive in St. Petersburg, in 1738,
for having dared "insult the Christian religion by building a synagogue
in the village of Zvyerovichi," an offence that was aggravated by the
suspicion that he had converted the Russian Captain Vosnitzin to
Judaism. The same fate was, in 1783, meted out to Moses, a Jewish
tailor, for refusing to accept Christianity, and in 1790 a Jew was
quartered in Grodno, though the king had declined to sign his death
warrant. In some places Jews had to contribute towards the maintenance
of churches, and in Slutsk the law, enacted there in 1766, remains
unrevoked to this day. Elizabeta Petrovna did not imitate Ivan III. When
she discovered that Sanchez, her physician, was of the Jewish
persuasion, she discharged him without notice, after eighteen years of
faithful service. Similarly, when the Livonian merchants remonstrated,
maintaining that the exclusion of Jews from their fairs was fraught with
disastrous consequences to the commerce of the country, she is reported
to have replied, "From the enemies of Christ I will not receive even a
But worse things were yet to come, the worst since Chmielnicki's
massacres. The bitterness of both Poles and Russians against the Jews
grew especially intense as the days of the rozbior, the Partition of
Poland, drew near (1794). The Poles, forgetting the many examples of
loyalty and self-sacrifice shown by Jews in times of peace and war,
suspected them of being treacherous and unreliable; while the Russians,
though denying the patriotism of their own Jews, persisted in the
accusation that Polish Jews spent money lavishly in fomenting rebellion
and anarchy. The pupils of the Jesuits found great delight in attacks
upon the Jews, which frequently culminated in riot and bloodshed and the
payment of money by Jews to Catholic institutions. "What appalling
spectacles," exclaims a Christian writer, "must we witness in the
capital [Warsaw] on solemn holidays. Students and even adults in noisy
mobs assault the Jews, and sometimes beat them with sticks. We have seen
a gang waylay a Jew, stop his horses, and strike him till he fell from
the wagon. How can we look with indifference on such a survival of
barbarism?" The commonest manifestations of hatred and superstition,
however, were, as in other countries, the charge that Jews were
magicians, using the black art to avenge themselves on their
persecutors, and that they used Christian blood for their observance of
the Passover. The latter crime, the imputing of which was sternly
prohibited by an edict of the liberal Bathory, in 1576, was so
frequently laid at their door, that in the short period of sixty years
(1700-1760) not less than twenty such accusations were brought against
them, ending each time in the massacre of Jews by infuriated mobs. Even
more shocking, if possible, was the frequent extermination of whole
communities by the brigand bands known as Haidamacks. They added the
"Massacre of Uman" (1768) to the Jewish calendar of misfortunes, the
most terrible slaughter, equalled, perhaps, only by that of Nemirov in
That all this should have left a marked impression on the mentality and
intellectuality of the Jews, is little to be wondered at. The marvel is
that they should have maintained their superiority over their
surroundings, and continued to be a law-abiding and God-fearing people.
While among the Russians and Poles the nobles who learned to read or
write formed a rare exception, there was hardly one among the Jews, the
very lowliest of them, who could not read Hebrew, and even translate it
into the vernacular. Maimon tells us that in his early youth he became
the family tutor of "a miserable farmer in a still more miserable
village," who yet was ambitious of giving his children an education of
Fortunately for the Jews of those times--says a writer--their
civilization was by far superior to that of the Christians. The
rabbi, though in no way inferior to the priest mentally, was
immeasurably above him morally. The students of the yeshibot,
despite their exclusive devotion to the study of the Talmud, yet
were better equipped for intellectual work, were of broader
minds and better manners, than the pupils of the Jesuits. And
the Jewish ba'ale battim, with an education as good as that of
the Gentile shlyakhta, had a more ennobling and elevating object
It is remarkable how quickly they recuperated from the blows they
received. In 1648 thousands of people were killed, whole communities
exterminated, Volhynia, Podolia, and a great part of Lithuania utterly
ruined. In 1660, in those very places, we hear again of Jewish
settlements, with synagogues and schools and a system of education of
the kind described in the preceding chapter, and we hear of the Council
of Lithuania struggling to re-establish and cement the shattered
foundation of their self-government. Yet all their efforts improved the
demoralized condition of the country but little. As always in national
crises, the individual was sacrificed to the community, and deprived of
the few rights remaining to him. The kehillot became brutally
oppressive. There were no longer men of the stamp of Abraham Rapoport,
Solomon Luria, Mordecai Jaffe, and Meïr Katz, to put their feet on the
neck of tyranny. Without special permission no one could buy or sell, or
move from one place to another, or learn a trade or practice a
profession. Rabbinism became synonymous with rigorism, the coercion of
untold customs became unbearable, and the spirit of Judaism was lost in
a heap of innumerable rites. The Jew's every act had to be sanctioned by
religion. He knew of the outward world only from the heavy taxes he paid
in order to be allowed to exist, and from the bloody riots with which
his people was frequently visited.
What could result from such a state of affairs but poverty, material and
spiritual, with all the suffering it engenders? Those at the head of the
kehillot, being responsible solely to the Government, often had to
deliver the full tale of bricks like the Jewish overseers in Egypt,
though no straw was given to them. On one occasion Rabbi Mikel of Shkud
was arrested because the kahal could not pay the thousand gulden it
owed. In 1767, the whole kahal of Vilna went to Warsaw to protest
against intolerable taxation. Such protests were usually of little
avail. On the other hand, a few powerful families throve at the expense
of their oppressed coreligionists. This aroused a spirit of animosity
and a clamor for the abolition of the kahal institution. Jewish autonomy
was more and more encroached upon. Rabbinates were bought and sold, and
the aid of the Government was invoked in religious controversies. A
question regarding the preferable form of prayer was submitted to the
decision of Paul I. In 1777, Prince Radziwill decided who should
officiate as rabbi in so important a centre of Judaism as Vilna, and
in 1804 the Government issued a "regulation" depriving the kahal of its
judicial functions altogether.
What was even more disastrous was the spiritual poverty of the masses.
Seldom have the awful warnings of the great lawgiver been fulfilled so
literally as during the eighteenth century:
And upon them that remain of you, I will send a faintness into
their hearts in the land of their enemies; and the sound of a
shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee as fleeing
from a sword; and they shall fall, when none pursueth. And they
shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when
none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your
enemies (Lev. 26: 36-37).
But the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and
failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in
doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and thou
shalt have none assurance of thy life (Deut. 29: 65-66).
Having learned from sad experience that there was no crime their foes
were incapable of perpetrating, they gave credence to every rumor as to
an established fact. A report that boys and girls were to be prohibited
from marrying before a certain age resulted in behalot (panics), during
which children of the tenderest ages were united as husband and wife
(1754, 1764, 1793). Mysticism became rampant. "Messiah" after "Messiah"
"revealed" himself as the one promised to redeem Israel from all his
troubles. Love of God began to be tinged with fear of the devil, and
incantations to take the place of religious belief. The _Zohar_ and
works full of superstition, such as the _Kab ha-Yashar_, _Midrash
Talpiyot_, and _Nishmat Hayyim_, the first studied by men, the others by
both sexes, but mostly by women, prepared their minds for all sorts of
mongrel beliefs. "In no land," says Tobias Cohn, "is the practice of
summoning up devils and spirits by means of the Cabbalistic abracadabra
so prevalent, and the belief in dreams and visions so strong, as in
Poland." All this, though it strengthened religious fervor in some,
undermined it in others. Sects came into being, struggled, and, having
brought added misery upon their followers, disappeared. Jewish criminals
escaped justice by invoking the power of the Catholic priesthood and
promising to become converted to Christianity. And now and then even
Talmudists left the fold, as, for instance, Carl Anton, the Courland
pupil of Eybeschütz, who became professor of Hebrew at Hamsted, and
wrote numerous works on Judaism. Others hoped to win the favor of the
Gentiles by preaching a mixture of Judaism and Catholicism. In many
places, especially in the Ukraine, the seat of learning that had
suffered most from the ravages of the Cossacks, the state of morals sank
very low, owing to the teaching of Jacob Querido, the self-proclaimed
son of the pseudo-Messiah Shabbataï Zebi, "that the sinfulness of the
world can be overcome only by a super-abundance of sin." This paved the
way for the last of the long list of Messiahs, Jacob (Yankev Leibovich)
Frank of Podolia. His experiences, adventures, and hairbreadth escapes,
his entire career, beginning with his return from his travels in Turkey,
through his conversion to Catholicism (1759), to the day of his death as
"Baron von Offenbach," would furnish material for a stirring drama. As
if to counteract this demoralizing tendency, a new sect, known as
Hasidim, originating in Lithuania and headed by Judah Hasid of Dubno and
Hayyim Malak, taught its devotees to hasten the advent of the Messiah by
doing penance for the sins of Israel. They were so firmly convinced of
the efficacy of fasts and prayers that they went to Jerusalem by
hundreds to witness the impending redemption (ab. 1706). But the ascetic
Hasidim and the epicurean Frankists were alike doomed to disappear or to
be swallowed up by a new Hasidism, combining the teachings and
aspirations of both, the sect founded by Israel Baal Shem, or Besht (ab.
1698-1759), and fully developed by Bar of Meseritz and Jacob Joseph of
[Illustration: ISAAC BÄR LEVINSOHN, 1788-1860]
Time was when all writers on the subject, usually Maskilim, thought it
their duty to cast a stone at Hasidism. They described it as a Chinese
wall shutting the Jews in and shutting the world out. It is becoming
more and more plainly recognized and admitted, that it was, in reality,
an attempt at reform rendered imperative by the tyranny of the kahal,
the rigorism of the rabbis, the superciliousness of the learned classes,
and the superstition of the masses. Its aim was to bring about a deep
psychologic improvement, to change not so much the belief as the
believer. It insisted on purity rather than profundity of thought.
Unable to remove the galling yoke, it gave strength to its wearers by
prohibiting sadness and asceticism, and emphasizing joy and fellowship
as important elements in the fabric of its theology.
Hasidism was thus a plant the seeds of which had been sown by the
various sects. Like the former Hasidim, or even the Assideans of nearly
two thousand years before, their latter-day namesakes rigidly adhered to
the laws of Levitical purification, and, to a certain extent, led a
communistic life. In addition they accepted, in a modified form, certain
customs and beliefs of the Catholic church that had been adopted by the
followers of Frank. The prayers to the saints (zaddikim), the conception
of faith as the fountain of salvation, even the belief in a trinity
consisting of the Godhead, the Shekinah, and the Holy Ghost, these and
other exotic doctrines introduced by the Cabbala took root and grew in
the vineyard of Hasidism.
The founder of the sect has an interesting history. In his childhood he
gave no evidence of future greatness. His education was of a low order,
but his feeling heart and sympathetic soul won him the esteem of all
that knew him. The woods possessed the same charm for him as for
Wordsworth or Whitman. With the latter especially he seems to have much
in common. While a child, he absented himself frequently from the narrow
and noisy heder, and spent the day in the quiet of the neighboring
woods. When he grew up, he accepted the menial position of a school
usher. His office was to go from house to house, arouse the sleeping
children, dress them, and bring them to heder. But the time soon came
when humble and obscure Israel "revealed" himself to the world. Owing to
his tact and knowledge of human nature, combined with the conditions of
the times, his teachings spread rapidly. He was speedily crowned with
the glory of a "good name" (Baal Shem Tob), and in the end he was
From such a man we can expect only originality, not profundity. Indeed,
his whole life was a protest against the subtleties of the Talmudists
and the ceremonies, meaningless to him, which they introduced into
Judaism. His object was to remove the petrified rabbinical restrictions
(gezerot) and develop the emotional side of the Jew in their stead. He
was primarily a man of action, and had little love for the rabbis, their
passivity, world-weariness, and pride of intellect. It is said that when
he "overheard the sounds of eager, loud discussions issuing from a
rabbinical college, closing his ears with his hands, [he] declared that
it was such disputants who delayed the redemption of Israel from
captivity." Men like these, who study the Law for the sake of knowing,
not of feeling, cannot claim any merit for it. They deserve to be called
"Jewish devils." Only he is worthy of reward who is virtuous rather than
innocent, who does what he is afraid to do, who, as Jacob Joseph of
Polonnoy puts it, "acquires evil thoughts and converts them into holy
ones." No asceticism for him. All kinds of human feelings deserve our
respect, for it is not the body that feels but the soul, and the soul,
"being a part of God on high, cannot possibly have an absolutely bad
tendency." Men may not be heresy-hunters and fault-finders, for none is
free from heresy and faults himself: the face he brings to the mirror,
he finds reflected in it. Yea, even the followers of Abraham possess
evil propensities, and noble qualities frequently belong to the
disciples of Balaam himself.
These democratic principles put the most ignorant Jew in Russia on an
equality with the erudite Lithuanian. No wonder that they obtained such
strong hold on the people of the Ukraine, the province shorn of all its
glory. Hasidism invaded Podolia and Volhynia, swept over Galicia and
Hungary, and found adherents even in many a large community in Western
Russia and Prussia. It brought cheer and happiness in its wake, and
rendered the unfortunate Jew forgetful of his misery. Gottlober
maintains that the inspiring melodies of the Hasidic hymns were largely
responsible for the spread of the movement, even as Moody attributed the
success of his revivals to the singing of Sankey. For, as Doctor
Schechter has it, "the Besht was a religious revivalist in the best
sense, full of burning faith in his God and his cause; convinced of the
value of his teaching and his truth."
One province there was to which the Besht could not penetrate, at least
not without a long siege and great losses. In Lithuania the inroads of
Hasidism were strenuously opposed, and its advance disputed step by
step. The Lithuanian Jews, to whom the Talmud was as dear as ever, could
not countenance a movement sprung, as they believed, from the seed sown
by Shabbataï Zebi, an opponent of the Talmud, and by Jacob Frank, at
whose instigation the Bishop of Kamenetz ordered the Talmud to be
The opponents (Mitnaggedim) of Hasidism were headed by a leader who was
as typical an exponent of the cause he espoused as the Besht was of his.
Among the students of Jewish literature since the close of the Talmud,
few have surpassed, or even equalled, Elijah of Vilna (1720-1797). Not
inappropriately he was called Gaon and Hasid, for in mental and moral
attainments he was unique in his generation. As the Besht was noted in
his early life for dulness and indifference, so Elijah was remarkable
for diligence and versatility. His life, like the Besht's, became the
nucleus of many wonderful tales, which his biographer narrates with
painstaking exactness. They present the picture of a man diametrically
different from Israel Baal Shem Tob. Every year, we are told, added to
the marvellous development of the young intellectual giant. When he was
six years old, none but Rabbi Moses Margolioth, the renowned Talmudist
and author, was competent enough to teach him. At seven, he worsted the
chief rabbi of his native city in a Talmudic discussion. At nine, there
was nothing in Jewish literature with which he was not familiar, and he
turned to other studies to satisfy his craving for knowledge. And at
thirteen, he was acknowledged by his fellows as the greatest of
Talmudists. He had neither guide nor teacher. All unaided he
discovered the path of truth. He held neither a rabbinical nor any other
public office. He was as retiring as the Besht was aggressive.
Nevertheless his word was law, and his influence immense. The centenary
of his death (1897) was celebrated among all classes with the solemnity
which the memories of "men of God" inspire.
Now, this Gaon of Vilna, or Hagra, was perhaps no less dissatisfied with
prevailing conditions than the Besht, but his remedy for them was as
different as the two personalities were unlike. He did not desire to
abolish the Talmud, but rather to render it more attractive, by making
its acquisition easier and putting its study on a scientific basis. Even
in Lithuania, the citadel of the Talmud, the development of Talmudic
learning had been hampered. In accordance with a Talmudic principle,
mankind is continually degenerating, not only physically, but morally
and mentally as well. It holds that if "the ancients were angels, we are
mere men; if they were but men, we are asses." This high regard for
antiquity produced a belief in the infallibility of the rabbis on the
part of the Mitnaggedim, similar to that in their zaddikim by the
Hasidim. No scholar of a later generation dared disagree with the
statement of a rabbi of a previous generation. But as authorities
sometimes conflict with each other, the Talmudists regarded it their
duty to reconcile them or to prove, in the words of the ancient sages,
that "these as well as those are the words of the living God."
Similarly, the popes declared that, despite their contradictions, the
Biblical translations of Sixtus V and Clement VIII were both correct.
It is true that Lithuanian Talmudists were not always the slaves of
authority which they ultimately became. A study of the works of the
early Slavonian rabbis, before and after Rabbi Polack, shows that they
were free from unhealthy awe of their predecessors, and sometimes were
audaciously independent. Neither Solomon Luria (Maharshal), Samuel Edels
(Maharsha), or Meïr Lublin (Maharam) refrained from criticising and
amending whenever they deemed it necessary. But in the course of time
the casuistic method, originally a mere pastime, became the approved
method of study, and produced what is known as pilpul. Scholars wasted
days and nights in heaping Ossa upon Pelion, in reconciling difficulties
which no logic could harmonize. Here the Gaon found the first and most
urgent need for reform. The Talmudists, he declared, were not
infallible. Every one may interpret the Mishnah in accordance with
reason, even if the interpretation be not in keeping with the
traditional meaning as construed by the Amoraim.
His views on religion were equally liberal. The same process of
reasoning which, spun out to its logical conclusion, led to pilpul in
the schools, produced, when turned into the channel of religion, the
over-piety culminating in the _Shulhan 'Aruk_. This remarkable book,
with the euphonious name _The Ready Table_, prescribed enough
regulations to keep one busy from early morning till late at night. The
Jews found themselves bound hand and foot by ceremonial trammels and
weighted down by a burden of innumerable customs. The spirit of freedom
that had animated Slavonian Judaism during the Middle Ages had fled. The
breadth of view that had marked the decision of many of its rabbis was
gone. Judaism was a mere mummy of its former self. Here, too, the
Gaon came to the rescue. Rightly or wrongly, he "established the
importance of Minhagim [religious ceremonies] according to their
antiquity or primitivism, regarding those which have originated since
the codification of the _Shulhan 'Aruk_ as not binding at all; those
which have been adopted since the Talmudic period to be subject to
change by common consent; while those of the Bible and in the Talmud
were to him fundamental and unalterable."
But the Gaon's influence on the Haskalah movement by far surpassed his
influence on the study of the Talmud or on the ceremonials of the
synagogue. Many, in point of fact, regard him as the originator of the
movement. As he was the first to oppose the authority of the Talmudists,
so he was the first to inveigh against the educational system among the
Jews of his day and country. The mania for distinction in rabbinical
learning plunged the child into the mazes of Talmudic casuistry as soon
as he could read; frequently he had not read the Bible or studied the
rudiments of grammar. The Gaon insisted that every one should first
master the twenty-four books of the Bible, their etymology, prosody, and
syntax, then the six divisions of the Mishnah with the important
commentaries and the suggested emendations, and finally the Talmud in
general, without wasting much time on pilpul, which brings no practical
result. "These few lines," says a writer, "contain a more thorough
course of study than Wessely suggested in his _Words of Peace and
Truth_. Though they did not entirely change the system in vogue--for
great is the power of habit--they produced a wholesome effect, which was
visible in a short time among the people." Furthermore, the Gaon
exhorted the Talmudists to study secular science, since, "if one is
ignorant of the other sciences, one is a hundredfold more ignorant of
the sciences of the Torah, for the two are inseparably connected." He
set the example by writing, not only on the most important Hebrew books,
Biblical, Talmudic, and Cabbalistic, but also on algebra, geometry,
trigonometry, astronomy, and grammar. And his example served as an
impetus and encouragement to the Maskilim in spreading knowledge among
Such was the man who led the crusade against the converts to Hasidism.
But even he could not stem the current. In their despair, the Lithuanian
Jews turned to their coreligionists in Germany, and implored their
assistance in eradicating, or at least suppressing, the threatened
invasion. The great learning and literary ability of the "divine
philosopher, Rabbi Moses ben Menahem" (Mendelssohn, 1729-1786), were
appealed to for help. Not a stone was left unturned to crush the new
sect (kat), so called. Volumes of the _Toledot Ya'akob Yosef_, in which
Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polonnoy set forth the principles of the Besht,
were burnt in the market-place in Vilna. Intermarriage, social
intercourse of any kind, was prohibited between Hasidim and Mitnaggedim.
In Vilna, Grodno, Brest, Slutsk, Minsk, Pinsk, etc., the ban was hurled
against the dissenters by the most prominent rabbis. Israel was divided
into two hostile camps. But soon everything was changed. Hasidim and
Mitnaggedim discovered that while they were fighting each other, a
common enemy was undermining the ground on which they stood. The
Haskalah was steadily drawing recruits from both, and it threatened
ultimately to become more dangerous to both than they were to each
From the South had come the impulse of religious revivalism through the
followers of the Besht, and the North was showing signs of awakening
through the reforms of the Gaon. At the same time a ray of enlightenment
from the West pierced through the night. To make the regeneration of
Slavonic Judaism complete, the element of estheticism had to be added to
emotionalism and reason. From the warm South came Besht, from the
studious North Hagra, and Rambman (Mendelssohn) made his appearance from
the enlightened West. The triumvirate was complete.
Not that Mendelssohn ever visited or resided in Russo-Poland. But the
gentle, cultured little savant of Berlin, with whose lips, Carlyle tells
us, Socrates spoke like Socrates in German as in no other modern
language, "for his own character was Socratic," was at no period of his
life wholly cut off from influencing Slavonic Jews and from being
influenced by them. As a lad Mendelssohn was instructed by Israel Moses
Halevi of Zamoscz (ab. 1700-1772). This teacher of his, who is credited
with several inventions, and of whom Lessing says, in a letter to
Mendelssohn, that he was "one of the first to arouse a love for science
in the hearts of Jews," imbued him with love for philosophy. When
Mendelssohn emerged from obscurity, and, despite ill-health and
ignorance, attained culture and breeding, his associate, who was with
him the most important factor in German Haskalah, was the renowned
Naphtali, or Hartwig, Wessely, whose grandfather Joseph Reis had been
among the fugitives from the Cossack massacres in 1648. And when he
became famous, and took his place among the greatest of his age, he
still sought diversion and instruction among the Slavonian Jews, and
boasted of being a descendant of one of them, Moses Isserles of Cracow.
As formerly with the Talmud, the Haskalah seemed, at the time of
Mendelssohn, to be moving from the East westward, through the agency of
the Slavonic Jews pouring perennially into Germany. Positions, from the
lowly melammed's to the honorable chief rabbi's in prominent
communities, were filled almost exclusively by them. The cause of
Judaism seems to have been entrusted to them. Ezekiel Landau, whose
tactful intercession helped greatly to establish peace between the
Emden-Eybeschütz factions, was rabbi of Prague for almost forty years
(1755-1793); the equally prominent, but at first somewhat less liberal
Phinehas Horowitz was rabbi and dean in Frankfort-on-the-Main for over
thirty years (1771-1805); his brother Shmelke, regarded as a saint, was
chief rabbi of Moravia (1775). Another Horwitz, Aaron Halevi, was rabbi
of Berlin, one of those who favored Mendelssohn's translation of the
Pentateuch; while the cultured and profound Talmudist Raphael Hakohen,
whose grandson, Gabriel Riesser, became the greatest champion of Jewish
emancipation Germany has yet produced, was offered the rabbinate of
Berlin (1771). He declined the post, and finally became chief rabbi
(1776-1803) of the united congregations of Altona, Hamburg, and
Wandsbeck. It is also recorded that Samuel ben Avigdor, the last rabbi
of Vilna, held the rabbinate of Königsberg, and there certainly must
have been many more who, because of their inferior positions, cannot be
so easily traced. Besides, Germany, as we have seen, was the common
fatherland of the greater part of both Slavonic and Teutonic Jews. It
never remained a _terra incognita_ to the former for any length of time.
Its proximity to Russia, the business relations between the Jews of the
two countries, intermarriage, and, with a few insignificant exceptions,
the identity of language, made the Jews of both countries come into
closer contact than was possible with any other Jews. For the studious,
Germany possessed the attraction which the "land of universities" exerts
upon seekers after knowledge the world over. To whom, indeed, could the
profound and abstruse speculations of Leibnitz and Kant make a stronger
appeal than to the Jew who had been initiated into metaphysical
abstractions from his very childhood? It is no wonder, then, that
immigration from Russo-Poland into Germany was constantly on the
increase, until, under Alexander II, the advancement of Russian
civilization put a stop in a measure to these roamings, to be resumed
under Alexander III and Nicholas II.
The Russo-Polish youth, therefore, found himself quite at home in the
country of Mendelssohn, and thither, in case of necessity, he would go.
In the eleventh century Jews had gone from Germany to Poland. In the
eighteenth they retraced their steps from Poland to Germany.
Outnumbering by far those who went there from choice or by invitation,
were those compelled to go in search of a livelihood. "When I reached
the age of twenty, peaceful and comfortable in my father's house, I
began to hope that henceforth I should pursue my studies uninterrupted.
But all at once my father lost his fortune, and I was forced to go
somewhere to provide for myself. So I became a melammed in Berlin." This
piece of autobiography in the preface to a Talmudic treatise by Reuben
of Zamoscz might have been written by many others, too. But there were
also the goodly number led thither by thirst for knowledge, whose
remarkable abilities attracted the admiration of Jew and Gentile alike.
Wessely the poet and Linda the mathematician more than once expressed
surprise at the amount of learning many of the poor immigrants were
found to possess.
Among these immigrants were two who may justly be regarded as the
conducting medium through which the Haskalah currents were transmitted
from Germany to Russo-Poland: Solomon Dubno, the indefatigable laborer
in the province of Jewish science, and Solomon Maimon, the brilliant but
unfortunate philosopher, both of them teachers in the house of
Solomon Dubno (1738-1813) was all his life a bee in search of flowers,
to turn their sweetness into honey. Having exhausted the knowledge of
his Volhynian instructors, he went to Galicia, where he became
proficient in Hebrew grammar and Biblical exegesis. Thence, attracted by
its rich collection of books, he left for Amsterdam, where he spent five
years in study and research. Finally he settled in Berlin, and earned a
livelihood by teaching among others the children of Mendelssohn. The
gentle disposition and profound learning of the Polish emigrant made a
favorable impression on the Berlin sage, who invited him to participate
in his translation of the Bible, which revolutionized the Judaism of the
nineteenth century more than the Septuagint that of the first century.
The result was the _Biur_ (commentary), which he, together with his
countryman, Aaron Yaroslav, also a teacher, wrote on several books of
the Bible. Comparatively few of Dubno's works have been published, but
judging from such as are known we may safely pronounce him a master of
the Massorah and a scholar of unusual attainments. Of his poems
Delitzsch says that they are "in the truest sense Hebrew in expression,
Biblical in imagery and subject-matter, medieval in rhyme and rhythm,
and in general genuinely Jewish in manner of treatment,"--laudation
which this exacting critic bestowed on no other Hebrew poet of his time.
It was mainly through the endeavors of Dubno that Mendelssohn's
Pentateuch, later regarded with suspicion, was everywhere bought and
One better known to the outside world than Dubno, and who has engraved
his name forever on the history of theology and philosophy, was Solomon
Maimon (Nieszvicz, Lithuania, 1754--Niedersiegersdorf, Silesia, 1800).
In his famous autobiography is mirrored the lot of hundreds of his
countrymen who, like him, left their homes and hearths, their nearest
and dearest, and led a wretched and miserable existence, all because
they were anxious to be _ma'amike be-hakmah_ ("delvers in knowledge"),
as he himself might have said, and avail themselves of the opportunities
for acquiring the truth and wisdom unattainable in their own land.
But Maimon was doomed to suffer abroad even more than at home. He was
one of those unfortunates whose sufferings are regarded as
well-deserved. His exceptional ability was never to develop to its
fullest capacity. Great injustice has been done to him, not only by the
rabid orthodox, who denied him a grave in their cemetery, but even by
the enlightened historian Graetz. Fortunately he left behind him his
_Lebensgeschichte_, among the best of its kind in German literature, in
which, with the frankness of a Rousseau, he described the events of his
short and checkered career.
From this admirable work, in which he neither hides his follies nor
flaunts his talents, we learn that Maimon possessed rare virtues. His
sympathy for the poor, his ready helpfulness even at the sacrifice of
himself, rendered him as uncommon in moral action as in philosophic
speculation. To the English reader a striking parallelism suggests
itself between him and his contemporary Oliver Goldsmith. Both were
afflicted with generosity above their fortunes; both had a "knack at
hoping," which led frequently to their undoing; neither could subscribe
easily to the "decent formalities of rigid virtue"; and, as of the
latter we may also say of the former, in the language of a reviewer, "He
had lights and shadows, virtues and foibles--vices you cannot call them,
be you never so unkind."
As Goldsmith came to London, so came Maimon to Berlin, "without friends,
recommendation, money, or impudence." His only luggage was two
manuscripts: a commentary on the works of Maimuni, whose name he had
adopted, and to whom he paid divine reverence; and a treatise in which
he attempted to rationalize the recondite doctrines of the Cabbala, and
which he always kept by him "as a monument of the struggle of the human
mind after perfection in spite of all hindrances which were put in its
way." The little bundle, which, to the zealot Jewish elders of that
community, seemed sufficient indication that Maimon was tainted with
heresy, and that his intentions were to devote himself to the study of
science and philosophy, proved a great impediment to entering Berlin;
and when, after a long, incredible struggle, he was finally admitted, he
found himself incapable of earning a livelihood. In his childlike
naïveté he was betrayed by the very persons upon whom he relied most.
All this could not deaden his love for knowledge and truth. By chance he
obtained Wolff's _Metaphysics_, and this marked a new epoch in his life.
"Not only the sublime science in itself," says he, "but also the order
and mathematical method of the celebrated author, the precision of his
explanations, the exactness of his reasoning, and the scientific
arrangement of his expositions--all this kindled a new light in my
So profound a thinker could not for long be a mere pupil. Wolff's
argument _a posteriori_ for the existence of God, in accordance with his
philosophic hobby, the "principle of sufficient reason," displeased him
wholly. A Hebrew letter to Mendelssohn, in which he shook the foundation
of the _Metaphysics_ by means of his irrefutable ontology, won him the
admiration of the Berlin sage, who invited him to become his daily
Maimon's intellect unfolded from day to day, until, some time
afterwards, he astonished the philosophic world by his great work, _Die
Transcendentale Philosophie_ (Berlin, 1790), in reference to which Kant
wrote to his beloved disciple Marcus Herz: "A mere glance at it enabled
me to recognize its merits, and showed me, that not only had none of my
opponents understood me and the main problem so well, but very few could
claim so much penetration as Herr Maimon in profound inquiries of this
sort." He demolished the prevalent Leibnitzo-Wolffian system in it, and
proved that even the Kantian theory, though irrefutable from a dogmatic
point of view, is exposed to severe attacks from the skeptic's point of
Thenceforth he became a leading figure in philosophic controversy. In
1793 he published _Ueber die Progresse der Philosophie_; in 1794,
_Versuch einer neuen Logik_, and _Die Kategorien des Aristoteles_, and,
three years later, _Kritische Untersuchungen über den menschlichen
Geist_ (Berlin, 1797), wherein he originated a speculative, monistic
idealism, which pervaded not only philosophy, but all sciences during
the first half of the nineteenth century, the system by which Fichte,
Schelling, and Hegel were influenced. According to Bernfeld, he was the
greatest Jewish philosopher since the time of Spinoza, with whose depth
of reasoning he combined an ease and straightforwardness of illustration
characteristic of Benjamin Franklin.
With all this he remained an ardent lover of the Talmud to the last. In
fact, his philosophy is distinctively Jewish. Like Spinoza, he exhibited
the effects of the Cabbala and of rabbinic speculation, with which he
had been familiar from childhood. The honor of the Talmudic sages was
always dear to him, and he never mentioned them without expressing
profound respect. Persecuted though he was by his German coreligionists,
he never bore them a grudge. As a man he loved them as brothers, but as
a philosopher he could not subscribe to their views implicitly. But for
friends and benefactors his affection was unusually strong. With what
love he talks of Mendelssohn in the chapter dedicated to him in his
autobiography, even though "he could not explain the persistency of
Mendelssohn and the Wolffians generally in adhering to their system,
except as a political dodge, and a piece of hypocrisy, by which they
studiously endeavored to descend to the mode of thinking common to the
popular mind!" His devotion to his wife was not diminished even after he
had been compelled to divorce her because of his supposed heretical
proclivities. "When the subject [of his divorce] came up in
conversation, it was easy," says his biographer, "to read in his
face the deep sorrow he felt: his liveliness then faded away sensibly.
By and by he would become perfectly silent, was incapable of further
entertainment, and went home earlier than usual." Of his Russo-Polish
brethren he speaks in the highest terms. He cannot bestow too much
praise on their care for the poor and the sick, and he always hoped once
more to see his native land, to whose king he dedicated his
_Transcendental Philosophy_. "For," says he, "the Polish Jews are,
indeed, for the most part not enlightened by science; their manners and
way of life are still rude, but they are loyal to the religion of their
fathers and to the laws of their country."
It is because I regard him as the greatest Maskil of his time that I
have dwelt on Maimon at such length. Mendelssohn's philosophy, if he had
an original system, has long since passed into oblivion; Maimon's will
be studied as long as Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant are in vogue. His
importance to us does not lie in the circumstance that his
autobiography--"that wonderful bit of Autobiography," as George Eliot
speaks of it, or "that curious and rare book," as Dean Milman calls
it--and the pictures drawn of him by Berthold Auerbach and Israel
Zangwill have made him the hero of some of the world's best
biographies and novels. Over and above this, he is the prototype of his
unfortunate countrymen during the days of transition. He embodied the
aspiration, courage, and disappointments of them all, and if, as Carlyle
said, "the history of the world is the history of its great men,"
Maimon's life should be studied by all interested in the Kulturkampf of
the Russo-Polish and of the German Jews in the eighteenth century.
What could he not have accomplished, he to whom Kant and Goethe,
Schiller and Körner paid tributes of unstinted praise, had he not been
doomed to suffer and to starve. Only at the last moment, before he was
silenced forever, was he able to say, _Ich bin ruhig_ ("I am at peace").
Yet, in spite of the difficulties and impediments besetting him at every
step, his promise of greatness and usefulness was not belied. In the
Introduction to his commentary on Maimuni's _Guide to the Perplexed
(Gibe'at ha-Moreh)_, in which he attempted to reconcile his master's
system with that of modern philosophy--even as the master had tried to
reconcile Judaism with Aristotelianism--he gave a brief sketch of the
development of modern thought. This part of his work was assiduously
studied by his compatriots. Among his unpublished writings was found a
work on mathematical physics, _Ta'alumot Hokmah_, and in his Talmudic
treatise, _Heshek Shelomoh_, he inserted a dissertation, _Ma'aseh
Hosheb_, on arithmetic, like a skilful physician putting a healing,
though to some it may appear a repelling, balm into a delicious,
The story of Maimon, as I have said, is the story of many of the
peripatetic apostles of Haskalah, and his experience was more or less
also theirs. Issachar Falkensohn Behr (or Bär Falkensohn, 1746-1796?),
without funds, friends, or rudimentary knowledge of the subjects
necessary for admission into a public school, left his native city of
Zamosez with the determination to enter the university of "Little
Berlin," as Königsberg was called. Too poor to carry out his plan, he
tramped to Berlin. Through the influence of his relatives and
countrymen, Israel Moses Halevi and Daniel Jaffe, he was introduced to
Mendelssohn, and was enabled to devote himself systematically to the
study of German, the alphabet of which he had learned from Wolff's
treatise on mathematics, and to French, Latin, physics, philosophy, and
medicine. In a very short time he mastered them all, especially German.
His _Gedichte eines polnischen Juden_ (Mitau and Leipsic, 1772) caused
no little stir among the poets. Lessing and Goethe, close observers of
symptoms of enlightenment among the Jews, expressed themselves
differently as to the real merit of the collection; but both concurred
with Boie, who, writing to Knebel, the friend of Goethe, remarked
concerning them, "You are right; the Jewish nation promises much after
it is once awakened."
For one reason or another we find that some Slavonic Jewish youths
preferred other places to Berlin for the pursuit of their studies. Such
were Benjamin Wolf Günzberg and Jacob Liboschüts. The former was
probably the only Jew at the Göttingen University. It was from there
that he inquired of Jacob Emden "whether it was permissible to dissect
on the Sabbath," and his thesis for the doctor's degree was _De medica
ex Talmudicis illustrata_ (Göttingen, 1743). Liboschüts studied at
the University of Halle. After graduation, finding that as a Jew he
could not settle in St. Petersburg, he established himself in Vilna,
where he became celebrated as a diplomat, philanthropist, and, more
especially, expert physician. When Professor Frank was asked who would
take care of the public health in his absence, he is reported to have
said, _Deus et Judaeus_, "God and the Jew" [Liboschüts]!
In their deep-rooted love for learning, they sometimes ventured even
beyond the German boundaries, into countries whose language and customs
had little in common with theirs. Padua continued to be the resort of
Russo-Polish Jews that it had been before 1648. Moses Hayyim Luzzatto
found an ardent admirer and zealous propagandist of his principles in
the young medical student Jekuthiel Gordon (ab. 1729), who wrote
concerning his master to friends in Vienna and Vilna. Judah Halevi
Hurwitz (d. 1797), whose work _'Ammude Bet Yehudah_ (Amsterdam, 1765)
was highly recommended by Mendelssohn and Wessely, was a graduate of the
same famous institution. In addition to his medical and philosophic
attainments, he wrote a number of poems, and he was among the first to
translate fables from German into Hebrew.
The story of Zalkind Hurwitz (1740-1812), "le fameux," as he was called
by a French writer, is interesting. Starting, as usual, by going to
Berlin, and succeeding, as usual, in gaining the friendship of
Mendelssohn, he then visited Nancy, Metz, and Strasburg, and finally
settled in Paris. Like Doctor Behr, he had to resort to peddling as a
means for a livelihood. The rudiments of French he acquired from any
book he chanced to obtain. Nevertheless, he soon became proficient in
the language of his adopted country, and wrote his excellent _Apologie
des juifs_, which, crowned by the Academy of Metz and quoted by
Mirabeau, was largely instrumental in removing the disabilities of the
Jews in France. Clermont-Tonnerre, the advocate of Jewish emancipation,
said of him, _Le juif polonais seul avait parlé en philosophe_. He was
suggested as a member of the Sanhedrin convoked by Napoleon in 1807.
Though for some reason he never enjoyed the honor of membership in it,
he was, nevertheless, the ruling spirit in the august assembly, and
later generations have paid him the homage he deserves.
Where Hurwitz failed, another of his countrymen was to succeed. Judah
Litvack (1776-1836) removed from Berlin to Amsterdam, became prominent
among the Dutch mathematicians, and wrote a Dutch work, _Verhandeling
over de Profgetallen Gen. ii_ (Amsterdam, 1817), which appeared in a
second edition four years after the first. The author was elected a
member of the Mathesis Artium Genetrix Society, and appointed one of the
deputation sent to the Sanhedrin (February 12, 1807), before which he
delivered a discourse in the German language.
The "distant isles of the sea," the British Islands, Russo-Polish Jews
seem to have frequented ever since the Restoration, probably
contemporaneously with the settlement of the Spanish Jews. The famous
mystic Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk, one of the many Baal-Shems who
flourished in Podolia at the beginning of the eighteenth century,
settled in London before 1750, and became the subject of many wonder
stories. Sussman Shesnovzi, apparently a countryman of his, describes
him, in a letter to Jacob Emden, as "standing alone in his generation by
reason of his knowledge of holy mysteries." That this was the opinion of
many and prominent personages may be inferred from the fact that among
his callers were such distinguished visitors as the Marchese de Crona,
Baron de Neuhoff, Prince Czartorisky, and the Duke of Orleans. The
confidence of such as these brought Falk a considerable fortune, a large
part of which he bequeathed to a charity fund, the interest of which the
overseers of the United Synagogue still distribute annually among the
poor. Shortly before "Doctor" Falk's death (1782), there settled in
London Phinehas Phillips of Krotoschin, the founder of the Phillips
family, which has furnished two Lord Mayors to the city of London.
It was not merely because of its business facilities that England
appealed to the Slavonic Jews. Baruch Shklover, or Schick (1740-1812),
went thither to study medicine, and it was from English literature that
he selected the material for his _Keneh ha-Middah_ (Prague, 1784;
Shklov, 1793), on trigonometry. It would appear that the first Hebrew
book, _Toledot Ya'akob_, printed for a Jew in England, was, as the name
of the author, Eisenstadt, suggests, that of a Slavonic Jew. Although a
silversmith by profession, Israel Lyons (d. 1770) was appointed teacher
of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. He acquired repute as a Hebrew
scholar, and published, in 1757, the _Scholar's Instructor_, or _Hebrew
Grammar_ (4th ed., 1823), and in 1768 a treatise printed by the
Cambridge Press, _Observations and Inquiries Relating to Various Parts
of Scripture History_. In the same chosen field labored Hyman Hurwitz
(1770-1844), the friend of Coleridge, who founded the Highgate Academy
(1799), and wrote an _Introduction to Hebrew Grammar_, _Vindica
Hebraica_, and _Hebrew Tales_, which were translated into various
languages. He finally became professor of Hebrew in University College,
A younger contemporary of Abrahamson, the Jewish German medallist, was
Solomon (Yom Tob) Bennett (1780-1841), the engraver of Polotsk, who
spent a number of years at Copenhagen and Berlin in perfecting himself
in his art. Among his works is a highly praised bas-relief of Frederick
II, which was much admired by the professors of the Academy. An ardent
lover of liberty, of which there was little more in Germany at that time
than in Russia, he left for England, where he spent the remaining years
of his life, in Bristol. Besides being an artist and an engraver he was
a profound theologian, anxious to defend the cause of Judaism against
enemies within and without. The enemy within he attacked in his cutting
criticism of Solomon Cohen's _Rudiments of Religion_, and the enemy
outside, in his other work, _The Constancy of Israel_ (_Nezah Yisraël_,
London, 1809). He also wrote expositions on many important Biblical
topics, such as sacrifices (1815) and the Temple (1824). Having pointed
out the defects of the Authorized Version (1834), he was ambitious of
publishing a complete revised translation of the Bible. Specimens
appeared in 1841. Death intervened and frustrated his plans. As Schick
was the first Jew to translate from English into Hebrew, so Bennett was
the first after Manasseh ben Israel to write in English in behalf of his
If the contributions of Slavonic Jews to Latin, German, French, Dutch,
and English literature were not less considerable at that time than
those of the Jews residing in the countries where these languages were
respectively used as media, they excelled them in Hebrew literature. In
the renaissance of the holy tongue, they played the most important part
from the first. The striving for knowledge, not for the purpose of
obtaining a coveted privilege, but for its own sake, became an
irresistible passion, and it was accompanied by an unquenchable desire
to disseminate knowledge among the masses, to make learning and wisdom
common property. The Hebrew language being the best vehicle for the
purpose, it was soon impressed into the service of Haskalah. The pioneer
Maskilim learned to handle it with ease and clearness that would do
credit to a modern writer in a much more developed European language.
From the middle of the fifteenth to the latter part of the eighteenth
century, Hebrew literature consisted, if a few scattered books on
philosophy, mostly translations from the Arabic, are excepted, mainly of
Talmudic disquisitions, written in the rabbinic dialect and in a
euphuistic style. Besides the great Maimuni, there were few able or
willing to write Hebrew "as she should be spoke." The early German
Maskilim, in trying to escape the Scylla of Rabbinism, fell victims to
the Charybdis of Germanism. They possessed originality neither of style
nor of sentiment, neither of rhyme nor of reason. Hebrew poetry was an
adaptation of current German poetry. The very best the period produced,
the _Mosaïde_ of Wessely, was influenced by and largely an imitation of
Klopstock and others. Like English classic poetry, it is pretty in form
but poor in spirit. The element of nationality, or distinctiveness, the
life-giving and soul-uplifting element in all poetry, as Delitzsch
justly maintains it to be, was lacking in the German Maskilim, anxious
for naturalization as they were. It was the Slavonic Maskilim who
mastered Hebrew in its purity, as it had not been mastered since the day
of Judah Halevi. In those days of transition the diligent student can
find, in germ, what was later to develop into the resplendent poetical
flowers produced by the Lebensohns, the Gordons, Dolitzky, Schapiro,
Mane, and Bialik.
The Slavonic contributors to the Meassef, the first Hebrew literary
periodical (1784-1811), were not conspicuous in number, but if quality
can compensate for quantity, they made up for it by the value of their
articles. Dubno and Maimon enriched the early issues, the one with
poetry, the other with philosophy; and when it began to struggle for its
existence, and was on the point of giving up the ghost, Shalom Cohen
(1772-1845) came to the rescue, and, as editor, prolonged its existence
by a few years. Among the best articles in the Meassef are those of
Isaac Halevi Satanov (1733-1805). This "conglomeration of contrasts,"
whom Delitzsch regards as the restorer of Hebrew poetry to its primitive
beauty and purity, was the embodiment of the period in which he lived.
"He was," we are told, "a thorough master of Jewish traditional lore,
and at the same time a most advanced thinker, a profound physicist, and
an inspired poet; a master of the old school and at the same time the
founder of the new school, the national-classical, of Hebrew poetry."
His pure and precise style, his good-natured, Horace-like, delicate, yet
unmistakable, humor, he showed in a series of books bearing the name of
Asaf, which still must be counted among the gems of Hebrew
Satanov was greatly in favor of expanding the Hebrew language, but the
first to borrow expressions from the Talmud literature or coin words of
his own was Mendel Levin, also of Satanov, Podolia (1741-1819), the
friend of Mendelssohn while in Berlin, the inspirer of Perl and Krochmal
while in Brody, the companion of Zeitlin and Schick while in Mohilev.
The Meassefim, the name generally applied to all who participated in the
publication of the Meassef, were shocked by what they regarded a
profanation of the sacred tongue. Their idea was that Hebrew was to be
utilized as a means of introducing Western civilization. Afterwards it
was to be relegated once more to the holy Ark. To Levin Hebrew had a far
higher significance. Not only should Western civilization be introduced
into Jewry through its means, but Hebrew itself should be so perfected
as to take a place by the side of the more modern and cultivated
languages. It should find adequate expressions for the new thoughts and
ideas which the new learning would introduce into it directly or
indirectly. The medieval translations from the Arabic should be
retranslated into the new Hebrew, he held, and he furnished an example
by recasting the first part of Maimuni's _Moreh Nebukim_. His modernized
version, lucid and fluent, printed alongside of Ibn Tibbon's, presents a
striking contrast to the stiffness and obscurity of the Provençal
scholar's. Levin was also the first to write in the Yiddish, or
Judeo-German, dialect, for the instruction of the masses, which made him
the butt of more than one satire. But what was generally regarded as a
degrading task was fraught with the greatest consequences to the
Haskalah. To this day Yiddish has continued an important medium for
disseminating culture among Russian Jews, both in the Old World and in
The century remarkable among other things for encyclopedia
enterprises,--_Chambers' Encyclopedia_ in England, the _Universal
Lexicon_ in Germany, and that wonderful and monumental work, the
_Encyclopédie_ in France--saw, before its close, a similar attempt, in
miniature, in Hebrew and by a Slavonic Maskil. Whether the Hebrew
encyclopedist was influenced by the example of Dr. Tobias Cohn's
_Ma'aseh Tobiah_ mentioned above, or was unconsciously imbued with the
prevailing tendency of the times, it is impossible to tell. In any
event, he resorted to the same means, and presented the Jewish world
with a volume containing a little of every science known, under the
innocent name _The Book of the Covenant_ (_Sefer ha-Berit_, Brünn,
The book appeared anonymously. This, the author assures us, was due not
to humbleness of spirit, but to a vow. His diligence and constant
application had greatly impaired his eyes. He vowed that if God restored
his sight, and enabled him to finish his task, he would publish the book
without disclosing his authorship. God hearkened unto his prayers, and
the work was soon completed. But an unforeseen trouble arose. His book
was ascribed "by some to the sage of Berlin, by others to the Gaon of
Vilna, and by many to the united efforts of a coterie of scholars, for
it could not be believed that so many and diverse sciences could be
mastered by one person." Moreover, the author was censured for being
afraid to come out openly and boldly as a champion of Haskalah. In
spite of obstacles and strictures, the book met with success surpassing
the author's expectations. It found its way not only into Russia,
Poland, and Germany, but even into France, Italy, England, Holland, and
Palestine. An edition of two thousand copies was entirely exhausted,
unusual at a time when books were costly and money was scarce, and
another edition was issued. What Phinehas Elijah (Hurwitz) of Vilna had
sown in tears, he lived to reap in joy.
There was a crying need in Russia for a work of the sort. In Germany the
very Government encouraged organizations and publications aiming at
enlightenment. Accordingly, a Society for the Promotion of the Good and
the Noble was started, and the Meassef was published. In Russo-Poland
not even a Hebrew printing-press was permitted, and certainly no
periodical publications would have been tolerated. Phinehas Elijah,
therefore, grasped the opportunity, and showed himself equal to it. His
aim was, like that of the French encyclopedists, to lead his readers
"through nature to God." He gives an account of the various sciences,
natural and philosophical, as a prolegomenon to the study of theology,
even of the mystic teachings of Vital's _Gates of Holiness_. Withal he
evinces a sound intellect and refined, if rudimentary, taste. He decries
the "ancestor worship" that rendered the Jew of his day a fossil
specimen of an extinct species. The present is superior to the past, "a
dwarf on a giant's shoulder seeth farther than doth the giant himself."
He ridicules the base and degrading habit of dedicating books to
"benefactors, friends, lovers, parents, men, or women." His work was
written for the glory of God, and he dedicates it to eternal,
All these Maskilim, so many hands reaching out into the light, were both
the cause and the consequence of the longing for enlightenment
characteristic at all times of the Slavonic Jew. Graetz and his
followers among the latter-day Maskilim delighted in calling them "they
that walk in darkness." Facts, however, prove that at no time before
Nicholas I was education per se regarded with the least suspicion,
though the Talmud was given the preference. As in the pre-Haskalah
period, the greatest Talmudists deemed it a sacred duty to perfect
themselves in some branch of secular science. When, in 1710, a terrible
plague broke out in his native town, Rabbi Jonathan of Risenci (Grodno)
vowed that, "if he were spared, he would disseminate a knowledge of
astronomy among his countrymen." To fulfil the vow he went to Germany
(1725), where, though blind, he devoted himself assiduously first to the
acquisition of astronomy, then to writing on it. Baruch Yavan of
Volhynia, who more than any one exposed the impostures of Jacob Frank,
"spoke and wrote Hebrew, Polish, German, and probably French," and his
accomplishments and address won him the admiration of Count Brühl, the
virtual ruler of Poland, and the favor of the highest officials at St.
Petersburg. His associate in the righteous fight, Bima Speir of Mohilev,
was also possessed of a thorough command of the language of Russia, and
was well posted in its literature, history, and politics. The Pinczovs,
descendants of Rabbi Polack, connected with the most eminent rabbinical
families, and themselves famous for piety and erudition, produced many
works on mathematics and philosophy. Mendelssohn's translation of the
Pentateuch was at first hailed with joy, and was recommended by the most
zealous rabbis. Doctor Hurwitz of Vilna did not hesitate to dedicate his
_'Ammude Bet Yehudah_ to Wessely, who was more popular in Russo-Poland
than in Germany. The whole edition of his _Yen Lebanon_, which fell flat
in the latter country, though offered gratis, was sold when introduced
into the former. Joseph Pesseles' correspondence concerning Dubno,
with David Friedländer, the disciple of Mendelssohn (1773), proves the
high esteem in which the liberal-minded savants of Berlin were held in
Russia. The rabbis of Brest, Slutsk, and Lublin gave laudatory
recommendations to Judah Löb Margolioth's popular works of natural
science, which form a little encyclopedia by themselves. Margolioth was
the grandson of Mordecai Jaffe, himself rabbi successively at Busnov,
Szebrszyn, Polotsk, Lesla, and Frankfort-on-the-Oder (d. 1811). The
writings of Baruch Schick of Shklov, referred to above, were accorded
the same welcome. His translation of Euclid and his treatises on
trigonometry, astronomy (_'Ammude ha-Shamayim_), and anatomy (_Tiferet
Adam_) won the admiration of rabbis as well as laymen. Epitaphs of the
day contain the statement that the deceased was not only "at home in all
the chambers of the Torah," but also in "philosophy and the seven
sciences." And this, exaggerated though it may be, must be seen to
contain a kernel of the truth, when we recall that among Maimon's
intimate friends was the rabbi of Kletzk, Lithuania; that in the humble
dwelling of his father there were works on historical, astronomical, and
philosophical subjects; that the chief rabbi of a neighboring town,
Rabbi Samson of Slonim, who, according to Fünn, "had in his youth lived
for a while in Germany, learned the German language there, and made
himself acquainted in some measure with the sciences," continued his
study of the sciences, and soon collected a fair library of German
books. Saadia, Bahya, Halevi, Ibn Ezra, Crescas, Bedersi, Levi ben
Gerson (whom Goldenthal calls the Hebrew Kant), Albo, Abarbanel, and
others whose works deserve a high place in the history of Jewish
philosophy, were on the whole fairly represented in the libraries, and
diligently studied in the numerous yeshibot and batte midrashim.
Thus the enlightenment which dawned upon France, Germany, and England
cast a glow even on the Slavonic Jews, despite the Chinese wall of
disabilities that hemmed them in. Unfortunately, this only helped to
render them dissatisfied with their wretched lot, without affording them
the means of ameliorating it. While the Jews in Western Europe profited
and were encouraged by the example of their Christian neighbors; while,
in addition to their innate thirst for learning, they had everywhere
else political and civil preferments to look forward to, in Russo-Poland
not only were such outside stimuli absent, but the Slavonic Jews had to
struggle against obstacles and hindrances at every step. No such heaven
on earth could be dreamed of there. The country was still in a most
barbarous state. Those who wished to perfect themselves in any of the
sciences had to leave home and all and go to a foreign land, and had to
study, as they were bidden to study the Talmud, "lishmah," that is, for
its own sake. This is the distinguishing feature between the German and
Slavonic Maskilim during the eighteenth century. The cry of the former
was, "Become learned, lest the nations say we are not civilized and deny
us the wealth, respect, and especially the equality we covet!" The
latter were humbly seeking after the truth, either because they could
better elucidate the Talmud, or because, as they held, it was _their_
truth, of which the nations had deprived them during their long
exile. They were unlike their German brethren in another respect.
Almost all of them were "self-made men," autodidacts in the truest
sense. Lacking the advantages of secular schools, they culled their
first information from scanty, antiquated Hebrew translations. Maimon
learned the Roman alphabet from the transliteration of the titles on the
fly-leaves of some Talmudic tracts; Doctor Behr, from Wolff's
_Mathematics_. But no sooner was the impetus given than it was followed
by an insatiable craving for more and more of the intellectual manna,
for a wider and wider horizon. "Look," says Wessely, "look at our
Russian and Polish brethren who immigrate hither, men great in Torah,
yet admirers of the sciences, which, without the guiding help of
teachers, they all master to such perfection as to surpass even a
Gentile sage!" Such self-education was, of course, not without
unfavorable results. Never having enjoyed the advantage of a systematic
elementary training, the enthusiasts sometimes lacked the very rudiments
of knowledge, though engaged in the profoundest speculations of
philosophy. "As our mothers in Egypt gave birth to their children before
the mid-wife came," writes Pinsker somewhat later, "even so it is
with the intellectual products of our brethren: before one becomes
acquainted with the grammar of a language, he masters its classic and
Steadily though slowly, brighter, if not better, days were coming.
"Thought once awakened shall not again slumber." As Carlyle says of the
French of that period, it became clear for the first time to the
upturned eyes of the Jews, "that Thought has actually a kind of
existence in other kingdoms [than the Talmud]; that some glimmerings of
civilization had dawned here and there on the human species." They begin
to try all things; they visit Germany, France, Denmark, Holland, even
England; learn their literatures, study in their universities, and
contribute their quota to the apologetic, controversial, scientific, and
philosophic investigations "with a candor and real love of improvement
which give the best omens of a still higher success." Fortune, indeed,
has cast them also into a cavern, and they are groping around darkly.
But this prisoner, too, is a giant, and he will, at length, burst forth
as a giant into the light of day.
(Notes, pp. 310-314.)
THE DAWN OF HASKALAH
A glimmer of light pierced the Russian sky at the accession of Catherine
II (1762-1796). This "Semiramis of the North," the admirer of Buffon,
Montesquieu, Diderot, and, more especially, Voltaire, whose motto, _N'en
croyez rien_, she adopted, endeavored, and for a while not without
success, to introduce into her own country the spirit of tolerance which
pervaded France. Her ukases were intended for all alike, "without
distinction of religion and nationality." Her regard for her Jewish
citizens she showed by allowing them to settle in the interior,
establish printing-presses (January 27, 1783), and become civil and
Government officers (April 2, 1785). In the edict promulgated by
Governor-General Chernyshev it is stated that "religious liberty and
inviolability of property are hereby granted to all subjects of Russia
and certainly to the Jews; for the humanitarian principles of her
Majesty do not permit the exclusion of the Jews alone from the favors
shown to all, so long as they, as faithful subjects, continue to employ
themselves, as hitherto, with commerce and trade, each according to his
vocation." That she remained true to her promise, we see from the
numerous privileges enjoyed by many Jews, who began to frequent Moscow
and St. Petersburg and reside there for business purposes.
Paul (1796-1801), too, was kindly disposed toward the Jews, and
permitted them to live in Courland; and when Alexander I (1801-1825)
became czar, their hopes turned into certainty. Alexander I did, indeed,
appear a most promising ruler at his accession. The theories he had
acquired from Laharpe he fully intended to apply to practical life. Like
Catherine, he wished to rule in equity and promote the welfare of his
subjects irrespective of race or creed. He ordered a commission to
investigate the status of the Russian Jews (December 9, 1802). The
result was the polozheniye (enactment) of December 9, 1804, according to
which Jews were to be eligible to one-third of all municipal offices;
they were to be permitted to establish factories, become agriculturists,
and either attend the schools and colleges of the empire on the same
footing as subjects of the Christian faith, or, if they desired, found
and maintain schools of their own. The approach of the great Usurper and
the crushing defeat the Russians sustained at the battle of Friedland
(June 4, 1808) also favored the advance of the Jews. As the short, but
troublous, reign of Paul and his wars with Turkey, Persia, Prussia,
Poland, and Sweden had impoverished the country and depleted the
treasury, the shrewd Alexander was not averse from appealing to Jews for
help. Of course, as in many more enlightened countries and in more
modern times, most of the privileges were merely paper privileges. Few
of them ever went into effect. The noble intentions of the enlightened
rulers were steadily thwarted by bigoted councillors and jealous
merchants. Every favor shown the Jews aroused a storm of protests, which
resulted in numerous infringements. The Jews were compelled to pay for
the good intentions of Catherine with a double tax (June 25, 1794), and,
during Paul's reign, without the emperor's knowledge, a law was enacted
requiring of Jews double payment of the guild license. In spite of all
efforts, the Jews, instead of being emancipated politically, were
burdened with additional discriminations.
Had not the wheel of progress suddenly stopped revolving, Russian Jews
might have constituted one of the most useful as well as most
intellectual elements in the vast empire. As it was, the kindly
intention of czar or czarina sufficed to arouse them from the asthenia
to which they were reduced for want of freedom. The times were rife with
excitement, and the Jewish atmosphere with expectancy. The mighty
changes which were taking place in Russia and Poland; the dismemberment
of the latter; the annexation of Balta (1791), Lithuania (1794), and
Courland (1797) to the former; the short-lived yet potent German rule in
Byelostok (1793-1807), and the rude but memorable contact with France
(1807-1812), these and many other important happenings in a brief span
of time had a telling effect upon the diverse races under the dominion
of Russia, and among them not the least upon the Jewish race. Everywhere
the desire for "liberty, equality, and fraternity" began to manifest
itself. In Courland, the most German of Russian provinces, Georg
Gottfried Mylich, a Lutheran pastor at Nerft, made a touching appeal
(ab. 1787) in German on behalf of the Jews, insisting that the word Jew
"should not be taken to indicate a class of people different from us,
but only a different religious body; and as regards his nationality, it
should not hinder him from obtaining citizen's rights and liberties
equal to those of the people of Sleswick, the Saxons, Danes, Swedes,
Swiss, French, and Italians, who also live among us." In Poland, Tadeusz
Czacki, the historian, wrote his _Discourse on the Jews_ (_Rosprava o
Zhydakh_, Vilna, 1807), in which he deplores that Jews "experienced
indulgence rarely, oppression often, and contempt nearly always" under
the most Christian governments, and suggests a plan for reforming their
condition. But the main appeal for freedom came, as might have been
expected, from the Jews themselves. Contemporaneous with, if not before,
Michel Beer's _Appel à la justice des nations et des rois_, a Lithuanian
Jew, during his imprisonment in Nieszvicz on a false charge, wrote a
work in Polish on the Jewish problem, while in 1803 Löb, or Leon,
Nebakhovich, an intimate friend of Count Shakovskoy, published _The Cry
of the Daughter of Judah_ (_Fopli Docheri Yudeyskoy_), the first defence
of the Russian Jew in the Russian language. The followers of the
religion of love are implored to love a Jew because he is a Jew, and
they are assured that the Jew who preserves his religion undefiled can
be neither a bad man nor a bad citizen.
But the Jews did not wait for their dreams to be realized. They threw
themselves into the swirl of their country's ambition, as if they had
never received anything other than the tenderness of a devoted mother at
her hands. They were "kindled in a common blaze" of patriotism with the
rest of the population. That in spite of all accusations to the contrary
they remained loyal to Poland, is amply proved by the history of that
unfortunate country. The characteristic kapota of the Polish Jew, his
whole garb, including the yarmulka (under cap), is simply the old Polish
costume, which the Jews retained after the Poles had adopted the German
form of dress. "When, in the year 1794," says Czacki, "despair armed
the [Polish] capital, the Jews were not afraid of death, but, mingling
with the troops and the populace, they proved that danger did not
terrify them, and that the cause of the fatherland was dear to them."
With the permission of Kosciusko, Colonel Joselovich Berek, later killed
at the battle of Kotzk (1809), formed a regiment of light cavalry
consisting entirely of Jews, which distinguished itself especially at
the siege of Warsaw. Most of the members perished in defence of the
suburb of Praga. In the agony of death, Rabbi Hayyim longed for good
tidings, that he might die in peace. And when the fight was over,
Zbitkover expended two barrels of money, one filled with gold ducats and
one with silver rubles, for the live and dead soldiers who were brought
to him. Indeed, Prince Czartorisky was so convinced of their
patriotism, that he always advocated the same rights for the Polish Jews
as were claimed for the Polish Gentiles, entrusted his children to the
care of Mendel Levin of Satanov, and instructed his son, Prince
Ladislaus, always to remain their friend.
But when, in spite of struggle and sacrifice, the doom "finis Poloniae"
was sounded, and a large portion of the once powerful empire was
incorporated into Russia, we find the Jews bearing their sorrow
patiently, and willingly performing their duties as subjects to their
new masters. Their attachment to their czar and country was not shaken
in the least when, in 1812, Napoleon made them flattering promises to
secure their services in his behalf. Rabbi Shneor Zalman, the eminent
leader of the Lithuanian Hasidim, hearing of the invasion of the French
army, spent many days in prayer and fasting for the success of the
Russians, and fled on the Sabbath day, not to be contaminated by contact
with the "godless French." When Napoleon was finally defeated, the event
was celebrated both at home and in the synagogue, and Russian soldiers
were everywhere welcomed by Jews with gifts and good cheer.
Lilienthal relates that the Jews succeeded in intercepting a courier who
carried the plan of operations of the French army, and Alexander
declared in a dispatch that Jews had opened the eyes of the Russians,
and the Government, therefore, felt itself bound to them by eternal
gratitude. It is to this proof of patriotism that some attribute
Alexander's interest in the Jews and his order that three deputies
should reside in St. Petersburg to represent them in Russia, and in
Poland a committee consisting of three Christians and eight Jews should
be appointed to devise ways and means of ameliorating their
The times were promising in other respects. In that critical period, the
Government, reposing but little confidence in Russian merchants, whose
business motto was "No swindle, no sale," allowed several Jews to become
Government contractors (podradchiki). These, while rendering valuable
services, amassed considerable fortunes. Notwithstanding the law
restricting Jewish residence to the Pale of Settlement, Catherine II
speaks of Jews who resided in St. Petersburg for many years, and lodged
in the house of a priest, who had been her confessor. Moreover, Jews
contributed not a little to the liberal policy of Alexander I. Among
them were Eliezer Dillon of Nieszvicz (d. 1838), who was honored by the
emperor with a gold medal "for faithful and conscientious services," and
was given an audience by his Majesty, at which he pleaded the cause of
his coreligionists; Nathan Notkin, who mitigated the possible effect
of Senator Dyerzhavin's baneful opinions concerning Jews, as expressed
in his report (_Mnyenie_, September, 1800), and who suggested the
establishment of schools for children and for adults in Yekaterinoslav
and elsewhere; Abraham Peretz, the personal friend of Speransky,
Dyerzhavin, and Potemkin, and a brilliant financier, whose high standing
enabled him to be a power for good in the councils concerning Jews;
and his father-in-law, Joshua Zeitlin (1724-1822). Zeitlin was a rare
phenomenon, reminding one of the golden days of Jewish Spain. His
knowledge of finance and political economy won him the admiration of
Prince Potemkin, the protection of Czarina Catherine, and the esteem of
Alexander I, who appointed him court councillor (nadvorny sovyetnik).
But his mercantile pursuits did not hinder him from study, and his high
living did not interfere with his high thinking. His palatial home at
Ustye, in Mohilev, became a refuge for all needy Talmudists and
Maskilim, whom he helped with the liberality of a Maecenas; he conducted
an extensive correspondence on rabbinic literature, and for many years
supported Doctor Schick and Mendel Levin. For Doctor Schick he built a
laboratory, and filled his library with rare manuscripts and works on
Jewish and secular subjects.
Even among the conservative Talmudists signs of improvement were not
wanting. The Gaon became the centre of a group of enlightened friends
and disciples, who continued in his footsteps after his death. His son,
Rabbi Abraham, who published and edited many of his works, a task
requiring no small amount of acumen and Talmudic erudition, was also
the author of books on geography, mathematics, and physics. His pupils,
such as Doctor Schick and Rabbi Benjamin and Rabbi Zelmele, influenced
their contemporaries either directly, by bringing them in touch with the
new learning, or indirectly, by reforming the school system and the
method of Talmud study. Of Rabbi Zelmele, who like his master became
the hero of a wonder-biography written by his disciple Ezekiel Feivel of
Plungian, we are told that he regarded grammar as indispensable to a
thorough knowledge of the Bible and the Talmud, pleaded for a return to
the order of study prescribed in the _Pirke Abot_, and complained that,
owing to the neglect of Aramaic, the benefits of comparative philology
were lost and unknown. He declared also that while he believed in all
the Bible contains, the stories in the Talmud are, for the most part,
legends and parables used for the purpose of illustration.
[Illustration: MAX LILIENTHAL, 1815-1882]
Towering above all the disciples of the Gaon, the most outspoken in
behalf of enlightenment is Manasseh of Ilye (1767-1831). At a very early
age he attracted the attention of Talmudists by his originality and
boldness. In his unflinching determination to get at the truth, he did
not shrink from criticising Rashi and the _Shulhan 'Aruk_, and dared to
interpret some parts of the Mishnah differently from the explanation
given in the Gemara. With all his admiration for the Gaon, but for whom,
he claimed, the Torah would have been forgotten, he also had points of
sympathy with the Hasidim, for whose leader, Shneor Zalman of Ladi, he
had the highest respect. Like many of his contemporaries, he determined
to go to Berlin. He started on his way, but was stopped at Königsberg by
some orthodox coreligionists, and compelled to return to Russia. This
did not prevent his perfecting himself in German, Polish, natural
philosophy, mechanics, and even strategics. On the last subject he wrote
a book, which was burnt by his friends, "lest the Government suspect
that Jews are making preparations for war!" But it is not so much his
Talmudic or secular scholarship that makes him interesting to us to-day.
His true greatness is revealed by his attempts, the first made in his
generation perhaps, to reconcile the Hasidim with the Mitnaggedim, and
these in turn with the Maskilim. He spoke a good word for manual labor,
and proved from the Talmud that burdensome laws should be abolished. His
_Pesher Dabar_ (Vilna, 1807) and _Alfe Menasheh_ (ibid., 1827, 1860) are
monuments to the advanced views of the author. In the Hebrew literature
of his time, they are equalled only by the _'Ammude Bet Yehudah_ and the
_Hekal 'Oneg_ of Doctor Hurwitz.
This short period of enlightenment and tolerance, inaugurated by a
semblance of equality, indicates the native optimism of the Slavonic
Jew. For a while a cessation of hostilities was evident in the camp of
Israel. The reforms introduced by the Gaon, and propagated by his
disciples, began to bear fruit. Hasidism itself underwent a radical
change under the leadership of Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Ladi (1747-1813)
and Jacob Joseph of Polonnoy, who, unlike their colleagues of the
Ukraine, were learned in the Talmud and familiar with the sciences.
Protests by Hasidim themselves against the irreverent spirit that
developed after the death of the Besht, had in fact been heard before.
The saintly and retiring Abraham Malak (d. 1780) had denounced, in no
uncertain terms, the gross conception held by the Hasidim of the sublime
teachings of their own sect. He drew a beautiful picture of the ideal
zaddik, who is "so absorbed in meditation on the Divine wisdom that he
cannot descend to the lower steps upon which ordinary people stand."
But the more active Rabbi Shneor, or Zalman Ladier, as he was usually
called, insisted on putting the zaddik on a par with the rabbi, whose
duty it is not to work miracles but to teach righteousness. Assuming for
his followers the name HaBaD, the three letters of which are the
initials of the Hebrew words for Wisdom, Reason, and Knowledge, he
furthered the cause of enlightenment in the only way possible among his
adherents. How well he succeeded may be inferred from the fact,
trivial though it be, that the biography of the Besht, _The Praises of
the Besht_ (_Shibhe ha-Besht_), by Dob Bär, published in Berdichev
(1815), omits many of the legends about the Master included in the
version published the same year in Kopys. The omission can be explained
only on the ground that the editor, Judah Löb, who was the son of the
author, did not wish to give offence, or he had outgrown the credulity
of his father.
The feeling of tolerance manifested itself also in the Jewish attitude
towards the Gentiles. "O that we were identified with the nations of our
time, created by the same God, children of one Father, and did not hate
each other because we are at variance in some views!" This exclamation
of Doctor Hurwitz found an echo in the works of the other Maskilim
that wrote in Hebrew, but more especially of those who used a European
language. They were deeply interested in whatever marked a step forward
in their country's civilization. The opening of a gymnasium in Mitau
(1775) was a joyful occasion, which inspired Hurwitz's Hebrew muse, and
at the centennial celebration of the surrender of Riga to Peter the
Great (July 4, 1810), the craving of the Jewish heart, avowed in a
German poem, was expressed "in the name of the local Hebrew community to
their Christian compatriots." The last stanza runs as follows:
Grant us, who, like you, worship the God above,
Also on earth to enjoy equality with you!
To-day, while your hearts are open to love,
Let us seal our happiness with your love, too!
This desire for naturalization brought with it an attempt at
"Russification." To show the beauty of the Russian language, Baruch
Czatzskes of Volhynia translated some of the poems of Khersakov into
Hebrew, and others published manuals for the study of Russian and
Polish. Among the first books issued from the newly-established
printing-press in Shklov, the centre of Jewish wealth, refinement, and
culture at that time, was the _Zeker Rab_ with a German translation
(1804). In an appendix thereto the Shklov Maskilim announced their
intention to publish a weekly, the first in the Hebrew tongue. Yiddish
was also resorted to as a medium for educating the masses, and as early
as 1813 some Vilna Jews applied to the Government for permission to
publish a paper in that language, though it was not until ten years
later (1823-1824) that a Yiddish periodical, Der Beobachter an der
Weichsel, appeared in Warsaw. Nor do we hear of any opposition to the
Government decrees, issued probably at the request of Dillon, Notkin,
Peretz, or Nebakhovich, that the elders of the kahals in and after 1808,
and the rabbis of the congregations in and after 1812, be conversant
with either Russian, German, or Polish. This sudden Russification of the
Jews amounted sometimes to no more than a superficial imitation of
Russian civilization, which pious rabbis as well as liberal-minded men
like Schick, Margolioth, Ilye, and Hurwitz, felt impelled to call a halt
to. Jews, especially the rich, aped the Polish pans. Their wives dressed
in Parisian gowns of the latest fashion, and their homes were conducted
in a manner so luxurious as to arouse the envy of the noblemen. Israel
waxed fat and kicked. Their greatest care was to become wealthy; they
pampered their bodies at the expense of the impoverishment of their
souls, and some feared that "with the passing away of the elder
generation there would not remain a man capable of filling the position
The privilege of attending public schools and colleges further
stimulated the Russification of the Jews. As soon as these institutions
of learning were thrown open to them, numerous Jewish youths made
headway in all branches taught, especially in medicine. That Alexander's
benign decree of November 10, 1811, issued through the Secretary of
State Speransky, was not always executed by his officials goes without
saying. Simeon Levy Wolf, one of the first Russo-Jewish graduates, was
denied his degree of doctor of jurisprudence in Dorpat unless he
embraced Christianity. When, in 1819, some of the Vilna graduates
applied for the privilege of not paying the double tax, they were told
that they must first renounce their faith, an exception being made only
in favor of Arthur Parlovich. Still the number of Jewish graduate
physicians was on the increase. Osip Yakovlevich Liboschüts, who was the
son of the famous physician of Vilna, took his doctor degree at Dorpat
(1806), became court physician in St. Petersburg, where he founded a
hospital for children, and wrote extensively in French on the flora of
his country. The medical institute of Vilna (1803-1833), afterwards
transferred to Kiev, became the centre of attraction for the Russian
Jewry. Padua, Berlin, Königsberg, Göttingen, Copenhagen, Halle,
Amsterdam, Cambridge, and London were for a third of a century replaced
by the home of the Gaon and of Doctor Liboschüts. The first students
were recruited from the bet ha-midrash, and they frequently joined, as
in former days, knowledge of the Law with the practice of their chosen
profession. Such were Isaac Markusevich, whose annotations to the
_Shulhan 'Aruk_ (ab. 1830) were published fifty years later; Joseph
Rosensohn, the promising Talmudist who became rabbi of Pyosk at the age
of nineteen; and Kusselyevsky of Nieszvicz, a stipendiary of a
Polish nobleman and a great favorite with Professor Frank. Because of
his proficiency, he was exempted from serving as a vratch (interne), and
for his piety and learning he was addressed by Jews and Gentiles as
With what dreams such happenings filled the Jewish heart! "Thank God,"
writes a merchant of the first guild in reply to an inquiry from distant
Bokhara, "thank God, we dwell in peace under the sovereignty of our czar
Alexander, who has shown us his mercy, and has put us in every respect
on an equality with all the inhabitants of the land." But a rude
awakening was soon to make the Jews aware that their visions of better
days were still far from realization. In 1815, Alexander I formed the
acquaintance of Baroness Krüdener, and since then, to the satisfaction
of Prince Galitzin, "with what giant strides the emperor advanced in the
pathway of religion!" His humanitarian deeds gave way to a profound
religious mysticism. He experienced a revulsion of feeling toward
reforms in his vast empire, and, as always, the Jews were the first
victims of an ill-boding change. The kindly monarch who, at Paris, had
said to a Russo-Jewish deputation, _J'enleverai le joug de vos épaules_,
began to make their yoke heavier than he had found it. The enlightened
czar, who, in striking a medal commemorating the emancipation of the
Jews of his empire, had anticipated Napoleon by a year, suddenly became
a bigoted tyrant, whose efforts were devoted to converting the same Jews
to Christianity. He who had claimed that his greatest reward would be to
produce a Mendelssohn, now resorted to various expedients, to render
education unpalatable to the Jews. The Jewish assemblymen, who, in 1816,
soon after the Franco-Russian war, had been convoked to St. Petersburg,
were not allowed to meet; and when, two years later, they did meet,
their every attempt was baffled by the Government. Jews were expelled
systematically from St. Petersburg (1818). They were forbidden to employ
Christians as servants (May 4, 1820), to immigrate into Russia from
abroad (August 10, 1824), and reside in the towns and villages of
Mohilev and Vitebsk (January 13, 1825). Several years after the double
poll and guild tax had been abolished in Courland (November 8, 1807), it
was restored with an additional impost on meat from cattle slaughtered
according to the Jewish rite (korobka). All this impoverished the Jews
to such an extent that they were forced to sell the cravats of their
praying shawls (taletim), in order to defray the expense of a second
deputation to St. Petersburg.
Had Alexander I been satisfied with merely restricting the Jews' rights,
the favorable attitude towards enlightenment we have noticed above would
probably have remained unaltered. Unfortunately, Alexander became a
fanatic conversionist. It was a time when missionary zeal became
endemic, and Baroness Krüdener's influence was strengthened. The
Reverend Lewis Way, having founded (1808) the London Society for
Promoting Christianity among the Jews, made a tour through Europe,
everywhere urging the Gentiles to enfranchise the Jews as an inducement
to them to embrace Christianity, the only means of hastening the advent
of the Apostolic millennium. His _Mémoires sur l'état des israélites_
presented to the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (October 11, 1818) and his
visit to Russia resulted in an imperial ukase (March 25, 1817)
organizing a Committee of Guardians for Israelitish Christians
(Izrailskiye Christyanye). The members of this association were to be
granted land in the northern or southern provinces of Russia and to
enjoy special privileges. The bait proved tempting, and, as a
consequence, some prominent Maskilim, too weak to resist the
allurements, precipitated themselves into the Greek Catholic fold.
Abraham Peretz, financier and champion of Jews' rights, consented to be
converted, as also Löb Nebakhovich, the dramatist, whose plays were
produced in the Imperial theatre of St. Petersburg and performed in the
presence of the emperor. Equally bad, if not worse, for the cause of
Haskalah was the conduct of those who, disdaining, or unable, to profess
the new religion, discarded every vestige of traditional Judaism, and
deemed it their duty to set an example of infidelity and sometimes
immorality to their less enlightened coreligionists. What Leroy-Beaulieu
says of Maimon, "that type of the most cultured Jew to be found before
the French Revolution," might more justly be applied to many a less
prominent Maskil after him: "Despite his learning and philosophy he sank
deeper than the most degraded of his fellow-men, because in repudiating
his ancestral faith he had lost the staff which, through all their
humiliations, served as a prop even to the most debased of ancient
Haskalah thus having become synonymous with apostasy or licentiousness,
we can easily understand why the unsophisticated among the Russian Jews
were so bitterly opposed to it from the time the sad truth dawned upon
them, until, under Alexander II, their suspicions were somewhat
dissipated. Previous to the latter part of the reign of Alexander I the
"struggle groups" in Russian Jewry were at first Frankists and
anti-Frankists, and afterwards Hasidim and Mitnaggedim. It was a
conflict, not between religion and science, but between religion and
what was regarded as superstition. Secular instruction, far from being
opposed, was, as we have seen, sought and disseminated. Long after the
pious element in Germany had been aroused to the dangers that lurked in
the wake of their "Aufklärung," and had begun to endeavor to check its
further progress by excommunication and other methods, the Russian Jews
remained "seekers after light." They might have condemned a Maskil, they
had not yet condemned Haskalah. Mendelssohn's German translation was
welcomed in Russia at its first appearance no less than in Germany, but
when some of the children of Rabbi Moses ben Menahem embraced the
Christian faith, and their father, as was natural, was suspected of
skepticism, the _Biur_ and the Meassefim were pronounced, like libraries
by Sir Anthony Absolute, to be "an evergreen tree of diabolical
knowledge." So also with Wessely's Epistles, which were destroyed in
public, together with Polonnoy's _Toledot Ya'akob Yosef_. Haskalah
itself was not impugned, and as theretofore translations and original
works on science were encouraged, and the wish was entertained that
"many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
But the latest experiences in their own country put Haskalah in a very
different light from that in which they were wont to regard it. Formerly
the opposition to it had been limited to the very land that gave it
birth. Because of their determination to study, Solomon Maimon was
denied admission to Berlin, Manasseh of Ilye was stopped in Königsberg,
and Abba Glusk Leczeka, better known as "the Glusker Maggid," the
subject of a poem by Chamisso, was persecuted everywhere. It was Rabbi
Levin, of Berlin, who prohibited the publication of Wessely's works, and
insisted that the author be expelled from the city. It was Rabbi
Ezekiel Landau of Prague who, though approving of Wessely's _Yen
Lebanon_, opposed the translation of the Pentateuch by Mendelssohn,
while Rabbi Horowitz of Hamburg denounced it in unmeasured terms,
admonishing his hearers to shun the work as unclean, and approving the
action of those persons who had publicly burnt it in Vilna (1782). Moses
Sofer of Pressburg adopted as his motto, "Touch not the works of the
Dessauer" (Mendelssohn), and seldom allowed an opportunity to pass
without denouncing the Maskilim of his country. Now the clarion note of
anti-Haskalah, sounded by these luminaries in Israel, found an echo
among the Jews in Russia. They had discovered, to their great sorrow,
that like Elisha ben Abuya, the apostate in the Talmud, "those who once
entered the paradise [of enlightenment] returned no more." The very name
of the seat of Haskalah was an abomination to the pious. To be called
"Berlinchick" or "Deitschel" was tantamount to being called infidel and
epicurean, anarchist and outlaw. The old instinct of self-preservation,
which turned Jews from lambs into lions, holding their ground to the
last, asserted itself again. As the Talmudic rabbis excluded certain
books from the Canon, as the study of even the Jewish philosophers was
later proscribed by certain French rabbis, so the Russian rabbis laid
the ban upon whatever savored of German "Aufklärerei."
Thus began the bitter fight against Haskalah, in which Hasidim and
Mitnaggedim, forgetting their differences, joined hands, and stood
shoulder to shoulder. For, after all, was not Judaism in both these
phases endangered by the new and aggressive enemy from the West? And did
not the two have enough in common to become one in the hour of great
need? Hasidism, in fact, was Judaism emotionalized, and since, beginning
with Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Ladi, it, too, advocated the study of the
Talmud, the distinction between it and Mitnaggedism was hardly
perceptible. The study of the Zohar and Cabbala was equally cultivated
by both; Isaac Luria and Hayyim Vital were equally venerated by both,
and hero worship was common to both. The _Ascension of Elijah_ (Gaon) is
as full of miracles as _The Praises of the Besht_. It is no wonder,
then, that the animosities, which reached their acme during the last few
years of the Gaon's life, were weakened after his death, and that the
compromise, pleaded for by Doctor Hurwitz and Manasseh Ilye, was somehow
effected. But it was otherwise with the Haskalah. "Verily," says the
zaddik Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk, "verily, grammar is useful; that our
great ones indulged in the study thereof I also know; but what is to be
done since the wicked and sinful have taken possession of it?" In the
same manner does Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin inveigh against the followers
of Mendelssohn, because of the latitudinarian habits of the Maskilim,
who "despise the counsel of their betters, and go after the dictates of
their hearts." Both saw in Haskalah a deadly foe to their dearest
ideals, a blight upon their most cherished hopes, and, like Elizabeta
Petrovna, they would not derive even a benefit from the enemies of their
Still, Alexander I approached his object only tentatively. Haskalah
during his reign was like the Leviathan in the Talmud legend which
resembled an island, so that wayfarers approached it to moor under its
lee and find shelter in its shade, but as soon as they began to walk and
cook on it, it would turn and submerge them in the stormy and bottomless
sea. The Jews were invited or induced to forsake their religion, and
only the less discerning were caught in the snare. It remained for the
"terrible incarnation of autocracy," Nicholas I (1825-1855), or, as his
Jewish subjects called him, Haman II, to fill their cup of woe to
overflowing and employ every available means to convert them to his own
Nicholas's one aim was "to diminish the number of Jews in the empire,"
but not by expulsion, the means employed by Ferdinand and Isabella. He
knew too well their value as citizens to allow them to migrate. He would
diminish their numbers by forced baptism. Baptized Jews were exempted
from the payment of taxes for three years; Jewish criminals could have
their punishment commuted or could obtain a pardon by ceasing to be
Jews. But as these inducements could naturally appeal only to
comparatively few, more stringent measures were resorted to. Hitherto
the Jews had been excused from military service, paying an annual sum of
money for the privilege. On September 7, 1827, an ukase was issued
requiring them not only to pay the same amount as theretofore, but also
to serve in the army; and while Christians had to furnish only seven
recruits per thousand, and only at certain intervals, the Jews had to
contribute ten recruits for each thousand, and that at every
conscription. The only exception was made in the case of the Karaites,
who, according to Nicholas's decision, had emigrated from Palestine
before the Christian era, and could not therefore have participated in
the crucifixion of Jesus. Jews found outside of their native towns
without passports, and those in arrears with their taxes, frequently
even those who, having lagged behind in their payment to the Government,
eventually discharged their obligations, were to be seized and sentenced
to serve in the army, and this meant a lifetime, or at least twenty-five
years, of the most abject slavery imaginable. This grievous measure
caused the utmost misery. No Jewish youth leaving home could be sure of
returning and seeing his dear ones again. The scum of the Jewish
population (poimshchiki, or "catchers") made it their profession to
ensnare helpless young men or poor itinerant students suspected of the
Haskalah heresy, destroy their passports, and deliver them up as
poimaniki (recruits), to spare the rich who paid for the substitutes. To
form an idea of the time we need but read some of the numerous
folk-songs of that day. Here is one of many:
Quietly I walk in the street,
When behind me I hear the rush of feet.
Woes have come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
"Your passport," they ask. Alas, it is lost!
"Then serve the White Czar!" that is the cost.
Woe has come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
There are many rooms, they take me to one,
And strip from my body the poor homespun.
Woe has come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
They take me to another room,
The uniform,--that is my doom.
Woe has come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
Rather than wear the cap of the czar,
To study the Torah were better by far.
Woe has come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
Rather than eat of the czar's black bread,
I'd study the Scriptures head by head.
Woes have come and sought me,
Alas, had I bethought me.
Yet this was not all. Knowing that it is easier to convert the children
than their elders, the Government of Nicholas I, out-Heroding Herod,
inaugurated a system so cruel as to fill with terror and pity the heart
of the most ferocious barbarian. Infants were torn from their mothers,
boys of the age of twelve, sometimes of ten and eight, were herded like
cattle, sent to distant parts of Russia, and there distributed as
chattels among the officers of the army. Many of these Cantonists, as
they were called, either died on the way, or were killed off when they
resisted conversion. Those who survived sometimes returned to Judaism,
and formed the nucleus of Jewish settlements in the interior of Russia.
These "soldiers of Nicholas" (Nikolayevskiye soldati), with their
uncouth demeanor and devoted, though ignorant, adherence to the faith of
their fathers, furnished much material for the folk-songs of the time
and the novelists of the somewhat happier reigns of Nicholas's
One of these Cantonists, the first to give a description of the life of
his fellow-sufferers, was Wolf Nachlass, or Alexander Alekseyev. For
many years he remained faithful to the religion of his forefathers,
though he had been pressed into the service at the age of ten. About
1845 he changed his views, became an ardent Greek Catholic, and
converted five hundred Cantonists, to the great delight of Nicholas I,
who thanked him in person for his zeal. He lost his leg, and during the
long illness that followed Nachlass settled in Novgorod, and wrote
several works on Jewish customs and on missionary topics.
Less horrifying, but equally aiming at disintegration, was Nicholas's
scheme of colonization. What better means was there for "diminishing the
number of Jews" than to scatter them over the wilderness of Russia and
leave them to shift for themselves? This, of course, was necessarily a
slow process and one involving some expense, but it was fraught with
great importance not only for the Russian Church, but for Russian trade
and agriculture as well.
"Back to the soil!" Was not this the cry of the romantic Maskilim in
Germany, in Galicia, and particularly in Russia? And have not country
life and field labor been depicted by them in the most glowing colors?
Here was an opportunity to save the honor of the Jewish name and also
ameliorate the material condition of the Russian Jews. The permission
given to them by Alexander I to establish themselves as farmers in the
frigid yet free Siberian steppes was greeted with enthusiasm by all.
Nicholas's ukase was hailed with joy. Elias Mitauer and Meyer
Mendelssohn, at the head of seventy families from Courland, were the
first to migrate to the new region (1836), and they were followed by
hundreds more. Indeed, the exodus assumed such proportions that the
Christians in the parts of the country abandoned by the colonists
complained of the decline in business and the depreciation of property.
The movement was heartily approved by the rabbis; the populace, its
imagination stimulated, began to dream dreams and see visions of
brighter days, and all gave vent to their hopefulness in songs of
gladness and gratitude, in strains like these:
Who lives so free
As the farmer on his land?
His farm his companion is,
His never-failing friend.
His sleep to him is sweet
After a hearty meal;
Neither grief nor worry
The farmer-man doth feel.
He rises very early
To start betimes his toil,
Healthy and very happy
On his ever-smiling soil.
O blessings on our czar,
Czar Nikolai, then be,
Who granted us this gladness,
And bade the Jews be free.
Alas, this joy was of short duration! Very soon Nicholas became
suspicious of his Siberian colonization scheme, that it was in reality a
philanthropic measure, and in place of saving the Jew's soul it only
promoted his physical well-being. This suspicion grew into a conviction
when he learned that the Jewish community at Tomsk, still faithful to
the heritage of Israel, applied for permission to appoint a spiritual
leader. The autocrat, therefore, signed an ukase checking settlement in
the hitherto free land, depriving honest men of the privilege enjoyed by
the worst of criminals, and enrolling the children of those already
there among the military Cantonists (January 5, 1837).
Then began real misery. Believing at first that the czar's intentions
were sincere, many Jews had sold their hut and land and left for
Siberia. No sooner were they there than they were sent, on foot, to
Kherson. The decree of the "little father" was executed in--no other
phrase can describe it so well--Russian fashion. The innocent Jews who
had come to Siberia by invitation were seized, treated as vagabonds, and
deported to their destination. Want and suffering produced contagious
diseases, and many became a burden to the Jews of Kremenchug and such
Christians as could not witness unmoved the infernal comedy played by
the defender of the Greek Catholic Church. Help could be rendered only
secretly, and those who dared complain were severely punished.
At the same time that this was taking place in the wilderness of
Siberia, a phenomenon of rare occurrence was to be witnessed in the very
heart of the Jewish Pale, in Lithuania. Aroused by the wretched
condition of his coreligionists, Solomon Posner (1780-1848) determined
to erect cloth factories exclusively for Jews. He sent to Germany for
experts to teach them the trade. These Jewish workingmen proved so
industrious and intelligent that before the end of three years they
surpassed their teachers in mechanical skill. But this attempt of Posner
was only prefatory to the greater and more arduous task he set himself.
It was nothing less than the establishment of a colony in which some of
the most Utopian theories would be applied to actual life. Ten years
after Robert Owen founded his communistic settlement at New Harmony,
Indiana, several hundred robust Russian Jews settled on some of the
thousands of acres in Lithuania that were lying fallow for want of
tillers. With these farmers Posner hoped to realize his Utopia. He
provided every family with sufficient land, the necessary agricultural
implements, as well as with horses, cows, etc., free of charge, for a
term of twenty-five years. In return, the members of the community
pledged themselves to use simple homespun for their apparel, black on
holidays, gray on week-days, not to indulge in the luxuries of city
life, and to avoid trading of any sort. As time passed, Posner opened
coeducational technical schools for the children and batte midrashim for
adults, and soon the homesteads presented the appearance of progressive
and flourishing farms. Posner's successful effort attracted the
admiration of Prince Pashkevich, and was both a living protest against
the accusation of Nicholas that Jews were unfit to be farmers and an
eloquent plea for the unfortunate victims of a capricious tyrant in
Siberia and Kherson.
In his efforts to curb the stiff-necked Jews by all manner of fiendish
persecution, Nicholas did not neglect to try the efficacy of some of the
plans advocated by Lewis Way. Undismayed by the failure of the Committee
of Guardians for Israelitish Christians, in which Alexander I had put so
much confidence, a "Jewish Committee," all the members of which were
Christians, was organized by imperial decree (May 22, 1825). This
committee established, in 1829, a school at Warsaw where Christian
divinity students were to be instructed in rabbinical literature and in
Judeo-German, in order to be fully equipped for missionary work among
the Jews. It appointed Abbé Luigi Chiarini to translate, or rather
expose, the Babylonian Talmud, to which undertaking the Government
contributed twelve thousand thalers.
To do his work thoroughly, the abbé deemed it advisable to write a
preliminary dissertation, presenting his aim and views. This he did in
his _Theory of Judaism_ (_Théorie du judaisme_, Paris, 1830). He
endeavored to show how worthless, injurious, and immoral were the
teachings of the Talmud. Only by discarding them would the Jews qualify
themselves to enjoy the right of citizenship. He proved, to his own
satisfaction, that ritual murder was enjoined in the Talmud, and this he
did at a time when many a community was harassed by this fiendish
accusation. When early death cut short the abbé's effort (1832), the
Government, still persisting in its plans, engaged the services of
Ephraim Moses Pinner of Posen, who published specimens of his intended
translation in his _Compendium_ (Berlin, 1831). But the fickle or
restless emperor seems to have tired of the plan, or perhaps he found
Pinner too Jewish for his purposes. Of the twenty-eight volumes planned,
only one, which was dedicated to Nicholas, appeared during the decade
following Chiarini's death, and the work was abandoned entirely.
The crusade against the Talmud, thus headed and backed by the
Government, now broke out in all its fury. Anti-Talmudic works in
English, French, and German were imported into Russia, translated into
Hebrew, and scattered among the people. _The Old Paths_, by Alexander
McCaul, a countryman and colleague of Lewis Way, but surpassing him in
zeal for the conversion of Jews, was translated into Hebrew and German
(Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1839) for the edification of those who knew no
English. Jews themselves, either out of revenge or because they sought
to ingratiate themselves with the high authorities, joined the movement,
and openly came out against the Talmud in works modelled after
Eisenmenger's _Entdecktes Judenthum_. Such were Buchner, author of
_Worthlessness of the Talmud_ (_Der Talmud in seiner Nichtigkeit_, 2
vols., Warsaw, 1848), and Temkin, who wrote _The Straight Road_ (_Derek
Selulah_, St. Petersburg, 1835). The former was instructor in Hebrew and
Holy Writ in the rabbinical seminary in Warsaw; the latter was a zealous
convert to the Greek Catholic faith, who spared no effort to make
Judaism disliked among his former coreligionists.
All these desperate attempts proved of no avail. Judaism was practiced,
and the Talmud was studied during the reign of Nicholas I more ardently
than ever before. Their sacred treasures attacked by the Government
without and by renegades and detractors within, the Russian Jews
nevertheless clung to them with a tenacity unparalleled even in their
own history. Danzig's _Life of Man_ (_Hayye Adam_, Vilna, 1810),
containing all Jewish ritual ceremonies, was followed out to the least
minutiae. Despite the poverty of the Jews and the comparatively
exorbitant price the publisher had to charge for the Talmud, and, aside
from the many sets of former editions in the country and those
continually imported, and in addition to the Responsa, commentaries,
Midrashim, and other works directly and indirectly bearing on it, more
than a dozen editions of the Talmud had appeared in Russia alone since
the ukase of Catherine II (October 30, 1795) permitting Russian Jews to
publish Hebrew works in their own country. This ukase had been intended
originally to exclude seditious literature from Russia, but what was
unfavorable for the rebellious Poles proved, in a measure, very
beneficial to the law-abiding Jews. Under the supervision of a censor,
and with but slight interruptions, the Jews published their own books,
and in 1806 Slavuta, in Volhynia, saw the first complete edition of the
Talmud on Russian soil. Then followed another edition in the same place
(1808-1813), a third in Kopys (1816-1828), and a fourth in Slavuta
(1817-1822), and several others elsewhere.
The story of the Vilna-Grodno edition of the Talmud is interesting as
well as illuminating. It depicts the relation of the Jews among
themselves and to the Government. Begun in 1835, at Ozar, near Grodno,
an imperial ukase directed the removal of the work to Vilna, the
metropolis of Russo-Poland. When the publishers, Simhah Ziml and Menahem
Mann Romm, had completed their work in the new quarters, the copies of
the book were destroyed by incendiaries (1840). After some time, an
effort was made by Joseph Eliasberg and Mattathias Strashun to continue
the publication, but the Warsaw censor prohibited its importation into
Poland, where the bulk of the subscribers lived. To add to the calamity,
a feud broke out between the head of the Slavuta publishing company,
Moses Schapira (1758-1838), and the Vilna publishers. The publication of
the Talmud had always been supervised by the prominent rabbis of the
land, and their authorization was necessary to make an edition legal.
This the rabbi never granted unless the previous edition was entirely
disposed of. The Slavuta publishers claimed that their edition had not
been sold out when the Vilna publishers started theirs. The litigation
continued for some time, and was finally decided in favor of the Vilna
firm. The publishers of Slavuta, however, having the Polish rabbis and
zaddikim on their side, continued to publish the Talmud, regardless of
the protests of Rabbi Akiba Eger and the "great ones" of Lithuania. But
a terrible misfortune befell the Slavuta publishers. On account of some
accusation, the two brothers engaged in the business were deported to
Siberia, and their father, the head of the establishment, died of a
broken heart. This cleared the field for the Romms of Vilna, who
continue to prosper to this day, and have now the greatest Hebrew
publishing house in the world. "It is the finger of God," the pious ones
said, and studied the Talmud with increased devotion.
The numerous Talmud editions indicate the demand for the work, and the
multiplicity of yeshibot explains the cause of the demand. We have seen
how the yeshibot destroyed by Chmielnicki were re-established soon after
the massacres ceased. Their number increased when the Hasidic movement
threatened to render the knowledge of the Talmud unpopular; and when the
Maskilim, too, made them a target for their attacks, there was hardly a
town in which such institutions were not to be found. But surpassing all
the yeshibot of the nineteenth century, if not of all centuries, was the
Yeshibah Tree of Life (Yeshibat 'Ez Hayyim) in the townlet of Volozhin.
There the cherished hopes of the Gaon were finally realized. Within its
walls gathered the elect of the Russo-Jewish youth for almost a century.
The founder of this famous yeshibah was Rabbi Hayyim Volozhin, the
greatest of the Gaon's disciples (1749-1821). A prominent Talmudist at
twenty-five, he, nevertheless, left his business and household at that
age, and went to Vilna to become the humble pupil of the Gaon, whose
method he had followed from the beginning. When he felt himself
proficient enough in his studies, he returned to his native place, and
founded (1803) the Tree of Life College, with an enrollment of ten
students, whom he maintained at his own expense. But soon the fame of
the yeshibah and its founder spread far and wide, and students flocked
to it from all corners of Russia and outside of it. In response to Rabbi
Hayyim's appeal contributions came pouring in, a new and spacious
school-house was erected, and Volozhin became a Talmudic Oxford. To be a
student there was both an indication of superiority and a means to
proficiency. Rabbi Hayyim did away with the "Tag-essen," or "Freitisch"
custom, and introduced a stipendiary system in its stead, thus fostering
the self-respect of the students. But they did not as a rule require
much to satisfy them with their lot. They came to Volozhin "to learn,"
and they well knew the Talmudic statement, that "no one can attain
eminence in the Torah unless he is willing to die for its sake."
Rabbi Hayyim was succeeded by his son Rabbi Isaac, who united knowledge
of secular subjects with profound Talmudic erudition, was active in
worldly affairs, and played a prominent part in the Jewish history of
his day. He was of the leading spirits who, in 1842, attended the
rabbinical conference at St. Petersburg convoked by Nicholas I. The
number of students increased under his leadership, according to
Lilienthal, to three hundred. But Rabbi Isaac became so engrossed in
public affairs that he found he could no longer do justice to his
position. His two sons-in-law, therefore, took his place, and when the
older died, in 1854, Rabbi Naphtali Zebi Judah Berlin (1817-1893)
entered on his useful career, unbroken for forty years, as the dean of
the greatest seat of learning in the Diaspora. Under his administration
the Tree of Life College reached both the height of its prosperity and
the end of its existence (1892).
Thus all the schemes and machinations of the Russian Government
respecting the Jews proved ineffectual. Nicholas I, with the possible
exception of Ivan the Terrible, the greatest autocrat in Russian
history, at whose wish seemingly insuperable obstacles were instantly
removed, the wink of whose eye was sufficient to kill or revive the
millions of his crouching slaves--Nicholas I, with all his herculean
strength, yet found himself helpless in the presence of a handful of
wretched Jews. Furious at his defeat, he expressed the intention to
reduce all Jews to Governmental servitude or to make them, like the
Cossacks, lifelong soldiers. Being advised to postpone the execution of
this plan and to employ less severe measures meanwhile, he issued the
Exportation Law of 1843, ordering the expulsion of Jews from the
fifty-vyerst boundary zone and from the villages within the Pale,
thereby depriving fifty thousand families at once of their homes and
Those from the country--writes a Russo-Jewish eye-witness of the
scenes following the enforcement of this inhuman law--move first
to the neighboring cities, and increase the existing poverty,
rendering the difficulty of finding profitable employment still
greater. God only knows how it will end when the congestion
increases still further.... I must also inform you--he
proceeds--that these past four months several imperial
commissioners have visited the frontier towns on the Lithuanian
border, from which the Jews are to be banished, in order that
the value of the real estate may be estimated. But how is the
valuation calculated? Even one who is acquainted with the
venality and unscrupulousness of Russian officers cannot form a
correct idea of how this business is conducted. If a man has no
connection with those in authority, or cannot obtain powerful
intercession, or is unable to give heavy bribes, his property is
valued at perhaps five per cent, or is set at so low a figure as
to make the appraisal differ little from downright robbery. We,
however, are used to such measures, for when they banished us
some time past from certain districts of the city of
Brest-Litovsk, where for centuries celebrated scholars of our
people dwelt, nothing better was done by the crown to compensate
us for our houses. The same occurred at the expulsion from
St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Nikolayev, Alexandrov, Sebastopol,
etc., but as it did not affect so large a mass, nor injure us to
so great an extent, we bore the injury silently. Alas, this is
not the case at present. We should gladly quit the country,
gladly should we emigrate to America, Texas, and especially to
Palestine under English protection, if, on the one hand, we had
the means and, on the other, the Government would permit us.
This Exportation Law of Nicholas I, the result of a lawsuit between a
Jew and a nobleman living on the eastern frontier, which had been
decided by the supreme court in favor of the former, aroused much
excitement in every civilized country of Europe. It was before
anti-Semitism was in flower, and the people of the time were more
responsive even than during the later Kishinev massacres. Indignation
meetings were held. Both Jews and Gentiles, not only abroad, but even in
Russia, protested. Prayers were offered for the unfortunate. Crémieux in
France and Rabbi Philippson in Germany appealed to the public. All to no
effect. Grief was especially manifest among English Jews, always the
first to feel when their fellow-Jews in other countries suffer, and
Grace Aguilar, like Rachel weeping over her children, lamented over her
Ay, death! for such is exile--fearful doom,
From homes expelled yet still to Poland chain'd;
Till want and famine mind and life consume,
And sorrow's poison'd chalice all is drained.
O God, that this should be! that one frail man
Hath power to crush a nation 'neath his ban.
At this critical period, Moses Montefiore, encouraged by his success in
refuting the blood accusation at Damascus, and stimulated by the many
petitions he had received from Russia, Germany, France, Italy, England,
and America, undertook the philanthropic mission of interceding with the
czar on behalf of his coreligionists. It is natural to suspect that no
trouble is entirely undeserved; it is but human to sympathize with our
friends, and yet regard their suffering as a judgment rather than a
misfortune. But Montefiore's trip to Russia dispelled the last trace of
suspicion against the Russian Jews. In spite of their poverty, he saw
numerous charitable and educational institutions in every city he
visited. He found the Jewish men to be the cream of Russia. "He had the
satisfaction," Doctor Loewe, his secretary, tells us, "of seeing among
them many well-educated wives, sons, and daughters; their dwellings were
scrupulously clean, the furniture plain but suitable for the purpose,
and the appearance of the family healthy." To all his pleadings Count
Uvarov returned but a single answer: "The Russian Jews are different
from other Jews; they are orthodox, and believe in the Talmud"--a
reason for persecution in Holy Russia!
Montefiore's visit to Russia, from which so much had been hoped, did not
improve the situation in the least. For all his strenuous efforts, he
was compelled to leave the Jews as destitute as he had found them. Nay,
they might truthfully have said to the Moses of England what their
ancestors had said to the Moses of Egypt, "Since thou didst come to
Pharaoh, the hardness of our lot has increased." From the first of May
(1844) they were not allowed to continue to earn the pittance necessary
to maintain life, as, for instance, by the slavish labor of breaking
stones on the highways, with which three hundred families had barely
earned dry bread. The great love and respect shown to the uncrowned
king of Israel proved to the czar's officials the existence of some
artful design on the part of the Jews, and convinced them especially of
the disloyalty of Montefiore. The latter, they maintained, was scheming
to set himself up as the Jewish czar. Hence every movement of his was
closely watched, every word he uttered carefully noted, and not a few
Jews were left with memorable tokens for doing homage to the English
baronet. Their disabilities were not removed, their condition was not
improved, the hopes they entertained resolved themselves into pleasant
dreams followed by a sad awakening.
Yet, though his visit did not, as Sir Moses had anticipated, "raise the
Jews in the estimation of the people," it was not without beneficent
effect on the Jews themselves. It cemented the "traditional friendship"
which has always existed between Anglo-Jews and Russo-Jews more than
between any sets of Jews of the dispersion. It disclosed to the latter
that there were happier Jews and better countries than their own; that
there were men who sympathized with them as effectively as could be.
Above all, it convinced them that a Jew may be highly educated and
wealthy, and take his place among the noble ones of the earth, and still
remain a faithful Jew and a loyal son of his persecuted people. "I leave
you," Sir Moses called to them at parting, "but my heart will ever
remain with you. When my brethren suffer, I feel it painfully; when they
have reason to weep, my eyes shed tears." Had Montefiore's visit
resulted merely in arousing his brethren's self-consciousness, he had
earned a place in the history of Haskalah, for self-consciousness is the
most potent factor in the culture of mankind.
Jews from other lands also came to the rescue of their Russian
coreligionists. Jacques Isaac Altaras, the ship-builder of Marseilles,
petitioned the czar to allow forty thousand Jewish families to emigrate
to Algeria. Rabbi Ludwig Philippson, editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung
des Judenthums, appealed to his countrymen to help the Russian Jews to
settle in America, Australia, Africa, anywhere away from Russia. But all
attempts were ineffectual. Though Count Kissilyef assured Montefiore
that the czar "did not wish to keep them [the Jews], five or six hundred
thousand might leave altogether," emigration was next to impossible.
Russia was constantly playing the game of the cat with the mouse. Her
nails were set and her eyes fixed upon her prey, and yet she made it
appear to the outside world that she was anxious about the welfare of
the Jews. For Russian tactics have always been, and still are, the
despair of the diplomat, a labyrinth through which only they who hold
the clue can ever hope to find their way.
The condition of the Jews in Russo-Poland was, if possible, even worse
than in Lithuania and Russia proper. Nothing, in fact, but the
auto-da-fé was needed to give it the stamp of medieval Spain. As before
the division of Poland, the Poles suspected the Jews of disloyalty to
Poland, while the Russians suspected them of disloyalty to Russia.
Hitherto too proud to soil his hand with a manual or mercantile pursuit,
the Polish pan, now that the glory of his country had departed, and he
was deprived of his lordly estates, began to engage in business of all
kinds, and, finding in the Jewish trader a rival with whose skill and
diligence he could seldom compete, he became embittered against the
entire race. This was the cause of the innumerable restrictions, the
extortion, and exploitation in Russo-Poland, which surpassed those of
The Jewish archives--said Doctor Marcus Jastrow, then Rabbi in
Warsaw--were humorously known as "California" or the "Mexican
Gold Mines." Jews had to pay at every step. They had to pay a
Tagzettel [daily tax] for permission to stay in Warsaw, which
permission, however, did not include the luxury of breathing.
The latter had to be purchased with an additional ten kopecks
per capita. The income from these taxations amounted to over a
million and a half, but in spite of all this the Jews were
regarded as parasites, as leeches feasting upon the life-blood
of their Christian compatriots.
Such is the background upon which the picture of Haskalah is to be
drawn--black enough to throw into relief the faintest ray of light. The
Russian Jews, during the reign of Nicholas I, found themselves in a
position possible only in Russia. They were not allowed to emigrate, nor
suffered to stay. In 1823 they were expelled from the farms, and had to
crowd into the cities; in 1838 they were expelled from the cities, and
forced to go back to the country. Then Siberia was opened to them, but
when it was found that even the land of the outcasts was hailed as a
place of refuge by the Jews, they were told to go to Kherson. At last
arrangements were perfected to allow them to colonize Lithuania--all at
once even this was interdicted. They had been conquered with the Poles,
yet were left unprotected against the Poles. Could they help suspecting
the tyrant of what he really intended to do--of seeking to diminish
their numbers by conversion? Is it surprising that when he determined to
open public schools and establish rabbinical seminaries, Jews looked
upon these, too, as the sugared poison with which he intended to
extirpate Judaism? Or can we blame them for being determined to the last
to baffle him? Nicholas did not understand the great lesson taught by
the history of the Jews and inculcated in the old song,
To destroy all these people
You should let them alone.
All that tyranny could inflict, the Russian Jews endured. Yet their
number was not diminished. No coercion could make them leave, in a body,
the old paths they were wont to tread. Nicholas's so-called reforms only
encouraged a reaction, and the more he afflicted the Jews, the more they
multiplied and grew. The behalot of 1754, 1764, and 1793 were repeated
in 1833 and 1843; the missionary propaganda only strengthened the
devotion of the faithful; and the denial of the means of support only
increased the stolidity of the sufferers. And if, like some
stepchildren, they were first beaten till they cried, and then beaten
because they cried, like some stepchildren they rapidly forgot their lot
in the happiness of home and the studies of the bet ha-midrash, and
could sing without bitterness even of the behalah-days, when
Little boys and little girls
Together had been mated,
Tishah be-Ab, the wedding day,--
Not a soul invited.
Only the father and the mother,
And also uncle Elye--
In his lengthy delye (caftan),
With his scanty beard--
Jump and jig with each other
Like a colt afeared.
(Notes, pp. 314-317.)
CONFLICTS AND CONQUESTS
The charges brought against the Jews of Russia by henchmen of the czar
were grave, indeed, only they did not contain a particle of truth. In
Russia itself, not only Jews and non-Russians but even many Christians
testified to the innocence of the Jews, and protested against their
oppressors. Bibikov, the Governor-General of Podolia and Volhynia;
Diakov, the Governor-General of Smolensk; and Surovyetsky, the noted
statesman, all write in terms of such praise of their unfortunate
countrymen of the Jewish faith that their statements would sound
exaggerated, were it not that many other unprejudiced Russians confirm
their views. The fact that Nicholas thought the Jews reliable as
soldiers speaks against the imputation that they were mercenary and
unpatriotic. Neither was the conventional accusation, that they were a
people of petty traders, applicable to the Jews in Russia. Laborers of
all kinds were very common among them. It was they, in fact, who
rendered all manner of service to their Gentile neighbors, from a
cobbler's and blacksmith's to producing the most exquisite _objets
d'art_ and gold and silver engraving. They were equally well represented
among the clerks and bookkeepers, and the bricklayers and stone-cutters.
They took up with the most laborious employments, if only they furnished
them with an honest even though scanty livelihood.
But most unfounded of all was the allegation that Jews were opposed to
education. The _Memoirs_ of Madame Pauline Wengeroff indicate that even
among the very strict Jews of her time children were not denied
instruction in the German, Polish, and Russian literatures. We have seen
how they availed themselves of the permission, granted to them by
Alexander I, to attend the schools and universities of the empire. Nor
did they fail to open schools of their own. No sooner was the
Franco-Russian war over than Joseph Perl of Galicia founded a school in
Tarnopol (1813), then under the Russian Government, and two years later
he drew upon his own resources to build a school-house large enough to
accommodate the great, steadily growing number of students. In 1822 we
hear of a school that had been in existence for some time in Uman (the
Ukraine). It had been established by Meïr Horn, Moses Landau, and Hirsh
Hurwitz, all of whom were indefatigable laborers in the cause of
Haskalah in the Ukraine. Perl's school was the pattern and model for a
multitude of other schools, among them the one founded by Zittenfeld
(1826) in Odessa, in the faculty of which were Simhah Pinsker, Elijah
Finkel, the grandson of Elijah Gaon, and Abraham Abele, the eminent
Talmudist. In 1836 a girls' department was added to it, and when
Lilienthal visited Odessa (ab. 1843) it had an attendance of from four
to five hundred pupils of both sexes, the annual expense being
twenty-eight thousand rubles. A similar school was opened in Kishinev by
Stern, and in the early "forties" there was hardly a Jewish community of
note without one or more of such Jewish public institutions. Several
well-to-do Maskilim not only founded but, like Perl, also maintained
such schools, and gave instruction in some or all of the subjects taught
The "forties" began auspiciously for Haskalah in Russia. On January 15,
1840, the Riga community, amid pomp and rejoicing, opened the first
Jewish school affiliated with a university. The teaching staff consisted
of three Jews and one Christian, with Doctor Max Lilienthal (1815-1882),
the young, highly recommended, and recently chosen local rabbi, as its
principal. In the same year, the indefatigable Basilius Stern succeeded
in forming a committee, of which Hayyim Efrusi and Moses Lichtenstadt
were members, to deliberate on founding rabbinical seminaries in Russia.
In 1841, forty-five delegates, representing the six chief committees of
the Lovers of Enlightenment, assembled in Vilna, and thence issued an
appeal in which they adopted as their platform the elevation of the
moral standards of adults by urging them to follow useful trades and
discouraging the Jewish proclivity to business as much as possible; a
reform of the prevailing system of the education of the young; the
combating, if possible the eradication, of Hasidism, the fountainhead,
as they thought, of ignorance and superstition; the establishment of
rabbinical seminaries, after the model of those in Padua and Amsterdam,
to supply congregations with educated rabbis. It was further agreed that
a Consistory be created, to supervise Jewish affairs and establish
schools and technical institutes wherever necessary. To these main
points were added several others of minor importance. The Maskilim of
Besascz insisted that steps be taken to stop the prevailing custom of
premature marriages. Those of Brest proposed that Government aid be
invoked to compel Jews to dress in the German style, to use authorized
text-books in the hadarim, and interdict the study of the Talmud except
by those preparing themselves for the rabbinate.
Even in Vilna and Minsk, towns which later put themselves on record as
opposed to Government schools, the Jews yielded gladly to the
innovations of such Maskilim as S. Perl, G. Klaczke, I. Bompi, and the
distinguished philanthropist David Luria, who took the initiative in
transforming the educational system of these cities. Under the
superintendence of Luria, the Minsk Talmud Torah became a model
institution; the training conferred there on the poor and orphaned
surpassed that given to the children of the rich in their private
schools. This aroused jealousy in the parents of the latter, and at
their request Luria organized a merchants' school, for the wealthier
class. He then established what he called Midrash Ezrahim, or Citizens'
Institute, in which he met with such success that he attracted the
attention of the authorities, and received a special acknowledgment from
Russian Jewry was astir with new life. In many places secular education
was divorced for the first time from rabbinical speculation. Knowledge
became an end in itself, and learning increased greatly. An
investigation by Nicholas I convinced all who were interested that
though the Talmud remained the chief subject of study, the number of
educated Jews was far greater than commonly supposed. The upliftment of
the masses was the beau-ideal of every Maskil, and Hebrew and even the
much-despised Yiddish were employed to effect it. Ignorance was regarded
as the bane of life, and enlightenment as the panacea for all the ills
to which their downtrodden brethren were heirs. As their pious
coreligionists deemed it the universal duty to be well-versed in the
Talmud, so the Maskilim thought it incumbent upon everybody to be highly
cultured. No obstacle was great enough to discourage them. They were
willing martyrs to the goddess of Wisdom, at whose shrine they
worshipped, and whose cult they spread in the most adverse
Had the Government not interfered with the efforts of the Maskilim, or
had it chosen a commission from among the Russian Jews themselves, among
whom, as soon became evident to Nicholas himself, there were more than
enough to do justice to an educational inquiry, the Haskalah movement
would have continued to spread, notwithstanding the obstacles put in its
way. But Nicholas was determined to reduce the number of Jews also by
"re-educating" them in accordance with his own ideas. Every attempt made
by the Jews to educate themselves was, therefore, checked. Even the
noble efforts of Luria were stopped, his schools were closed, and his
only rewards were "a gold medal from the czar and a short poem by
In Germany, since the time of Mendelssohn, the study of the Talmud had
been on the wane. The great yeshibot formerly existing in Metz,
Frankfort, Hamburg, Prague, Fiirth, Halberstadt, etc., disappeared, and
the reforms introduced in the synagogue and the numerous converts to
Christianity impressed the outside world with the idea that Judaism
among German Jews was writhing in the agony of death. If the same
disintegrating elements were introduced among the Russian Jews, the
Government believed that they would ultimately come over to the Greek
Catholic Church of their own accord. Hence it was anxious to learn the
secret of this power and beamed graciously on several learned Jews of
David Friedländer (1750-1834) was then considered the legitimate
successor of Mendelssohn, whose friend he had been for more than twenty
years. He resembled his master in many respects, though he lacked both
his genius and his sympathy. Mendelssohn translated the Pentateuch and
the Psalms into German, Friedländer translated the Haftarot (selections
from the Prophets) and the prayer book. Mendelssohn encouraged the
publication of the Meassef; he did likewise, and contributed several
articles to the journal. But, unlike his master, or, as he claimed, like
his master in secret, he held exceedingly latitudinarian views on
Judaism. In his later years he advocated abolishing the study of Hebrew
in the schools and discarding it from the prayer book. He even rejoiced
that by attending the services in Protestant churches many Jewish
families were becoming acquainted with the religion he himself would
have accepted on certain conditions.
It was to Friedländer that Bishop Malchevsky, actuated, as he
maintained, by a desire to render the Jews worthy of the enjoyment of
civil rights, applied for suggestions, in 1816, when the missionary zeal
of Alexander I was first aroused. He responded in a pamphlet, _On the
Improvement of the Israelites in the Kingdom of Poland_, in which he
declared that the quickest way of "civilizing" the Jews would be to
deprive their rabbis of power and influence, to force them to dress in
the German fashion, and use the Polish language, to admit them to the
public schools and other educational institutions, and, above all, to
abrogate the laws discriminating between them and their Gentile
Friedländer's advice regarding the removal of civil disabilities was
never executed, but his other suggestions were followed out with more
vigor than was necessary or good. To do away with the rabbis, and
consequently with the Talmud, was just what was desired. It was partly
with this end in view that Alexander I permitted, that is, commanded,
the establishment of the rabbinical seminary in Warsaw. But when it was
found that, although the seminary students were provided with all
necessaries, and notwithstanding the decree that six years from the date
of its opening none but seminary graduates would be eligible to the
rabbinical office, few students availed themselves of the opportunity
afforded, and none obtained positions, the whole plan fell into
disfavor. The Government, nevertheless, remained as stubbornly
determined as ever, and unable to turn all the children into Cantonists,
it decided to have those who remained at home gradually converted by
means of a method worked out by the Minister of Education, Uvarov. They
were forced to attend what became known as Government schools, though
maintained exclusively with Jewish funds. In order to win the confidence
of the Jews for the project, Doctor Lilienthal, whose speech at the
dedication of the Riga School secured him a diamond ring as a token of
the czar's approval, was sent from St. Petersburg on a mission of
investigation, more especially of persuasion.
For more than three years Lilienthal was one of the most popular
personages in Europe. The eyes of all who had the amelioration of the
lot of the Russian Jew at heart, it may be said the eyes of the
civilized world, were fixed upon him as an epoch-maker in the history of
the Jews. Nature had formed him, physically and mentally, to be a leader
among his people, and his training and temperament made it easy for him
to ingratiate himself into the favor of the great. It seemed that he was
just the man to be the successful executor of the czar's plan.
The Maskilim, above all, hailed him as the champion of the cause of
Haskalah. He was their Moses or Ezra, the God-sent redeemer of their
benighted brethren out of the quagmire of fanaticism. From various
cities numerous urgent appeals came to him to hasten the execution of
his great plan. Wherever he went, he was enthusiastically received, a
truly royal welcome was extended to him. The Vilna community
appropriated five thousand rubles for the school fund, and pledged
itself to raise more if it were found necessary; and he was invited also
to Minsk by the kahal of the city.
Unfortunately, Lilienthal's tactics exposed him to suspicion, and the
seed of discord was soon sown between him and his former admirers. He
tried to serve two masters, the czar and the Jews, and he alienated
both. The pious regarded him as a mere tool in the hands of the
Government, for, they maintained, _education without emancipation leads
to conversion_. The enlightened element also lost confidence in one who,
instead of boldly attacking superstition, preferred, while in Minsk, to
identify himself not only with the Mitnaggedim, but even with the
Hasidim. He was also too headstrong and too vain of his achievements.
Benjamin Mandelstamm, who, as he tell us in his letters, considered
Lilienthal "as wise as Solomon and as enterprising as Moses," complains
a little later of his arrogance, and at the last speaks of him with
contempt. His assumed superiority grieved the Maskilim, and their former
enthusiasm was rapidly replaced by hatred and persecution. He found it
necessary to put himself under the protection of the police while in
Minsk, and when he returned to Vilna his reception was far less hearty
than it had been before.
In order to regain the confidence of the Russian Jews, Lilienthal
obtained a permit from the Minister of Education to call an assembly of
prominent Jews at St. Petersburg, to decide for themselves how to better
the condition of the existing schools and to consider the practicability
of establishing rabbinical seminaries. For he, too, like the Maskilim,
considered the rabbis the chief menace to Haskalah. Rabbinical authority
was supreme, and if the rabbis could be won over, all would be gained.
The bell-wethers once secured, the flocks were sure to follow. It took a
long time for Lilienthal, and still longer for the Maskilim, to find out
that what they regarded as the cause was in reality the consequence.
Eight years later Lilienthal himself admitted the sad truth, that the
rabbinical seminaries in Russia could not effect the coveted end. "It
must not be lost sight of," says he in his _Sketches of Jewish Life in
Russia_ "that the Russian Jews live strictly in accordance with our
received laws, and they are sufficiently learned in them to know that
the many cases of conscience which are of constant occurrence cannot be
decided understandingly by any one who has but a superficial knowledge
of the Talmud and of the decisions of the later doctors of the Law, but
that it requires the study of an entire lifetime to become thoroughly
acquainted with those stupendous monuments of learning and deep research
in the great concerns of life."
[Illustration: ALEXANDER ZEDERBAUM, 1816-1893]
After several busy months at St. Petersburg and frequent consultations
with Count Uvarov, Lilienthal returned to Vilna, and two weeks later he
published his circular letter, _Maggid Yeshiiah_ (_The Announcer of Good
Tidings_) The "good tidings" were that an imperial ukase (June 22,
1842) would convene a council of distinguished Jews at St. Petersburg,
to deliberate how to "re-educate" the Jews. Accordingly, in the early
part of April, 1843, the notables, from different places and with
diametrically opposed views, assembled in the Russian capital.
Representing the Jews, there were Rabbi Isaac Volozhin, the dean of the
Tree of Life Yeshibah, perhaps the strongest man present; Rabbi Menahem
Mendel Shneersohn of Lubavich, leader of the Hasidic reform sect; Joseph
Heilprin, the financier and banker of Berdichev, and Bezalel (Basilius)
Stern, principal of the Jewish public schools of Odessa. Representing
the Government were Count Uvarov, Chevalier Dukstaduchinsky, and others,
with de Vrochenko, Minister of State, as chairman and Lilienthal as
secretary. Montefiore of England, Crémieux of France, and Rabbi
Philippson of Germany had been invited, but they failed to come. The
council decided to open Jewish public schools in every city where Jews
reside, and also two rabbinical seminaries, the one in Vilna, the other
in Zhitomir, the former being considered the Jewish metropolis of the
northwestern part, the latter, of the southwestern part, of Russia. They
also proposed to do away with the Judeo-Polish garb, and suggested
certain alterations in the prayer book.
The delegates met, deliberated, and disbanded, but the tidings announced
in Lilienthal's epistle did not prove to be good. In one of the fables
of Kryloff, the Russian Æsop, we are told that once a swan, a pike, and
a crab, decided to make a trip together. No sooner had they started
than, in accordance with their nature, the swan began to fly, the pike
to shuffle along, the crab to crawl backward. It was so with the
delegation of 1843. Rabbi Isaac, the rabid Mitnagged, could find but
little to admire in the proposals of Rabbi Menahem Mendel, the ardent
Hasid, and both were bitterly opposed to the view preached by Doctor
Lilienthal, that the salvation of the Jews and Judaism would be brought
about by a system of education adopted in accordance with an ukase by
Nicholas. Stern, too, had little use for Lilienthal, whom he declared to
be ignorant of the condition of Russian Jews and incapable of working in
their behalf. From such discord nothing good could come. The fact is,
that the few resolutions mentioned had been drawn up beforehand by the
Government officials, and the time and trouble and expense which the
council involved were, _à la Russe_, for appearance sake. Finding his
efforts an utter failure, Lilienthal went to Odessa with letters of
recommendation from Uvarov to Vorontzov, the patron of Stern, and was
elected rabbi of that enlightened and wealthy community. But, for some
inexplicable reason, he suddenly left the city on the plea of visiting
friends in Germany, and went to the United States, where he remained to
the end of his life, and became one of the leading rabbis and communal
workers among his coreligionists whose lines had fallen in pleasanter
places than the fortunes of those he had left behind in Russia.
For Lilienthal's disillusionment came apace, and he finally recognized
the error of his ways. In his book, _My Travels in Russia_, published
both in English and in German, he admits that the opponents of the
schools he advocated were after all in the right. Education without
emancipation was indeed the straightest road to conversion. Witness the
thirty thousand Jewish apostates in St. Petersburg and Moscow alone,
most of whom hailed from the Baltic provinces, where the Jews were more
cultured, but not less oppressed, than their brethren.
Those men--says he--who have acquired from study an idea of the
rights of man, and that the Jew ought to enjoy the same
privileges as every other citizen; those men who tried, by the
knowledge they had obtained, to open for themselves better
prospects in life, and now saw every hope frustrated by laws
inimical to them only as Jews, ran, from mere despair, into the
bosom of the Greek Church. The harassing care for a living, the
terrible difficulties in surmounting them forced them, in an
hour of distress, to deny their faith. I always compared them
with the Anusim [forced converts] of Spain. Among them there is
no religious indifference, as is the case in Western Europe and
Germany; and I have met with many converted Jews there, who,
with tears in their eyes, complained of heart-burnings and pangs
of conscience; and they look upon themselves as eternally lost.
Those tears will show a heavy balance against Czar Nicholas,
when, bereft of his earthly power, he stands before the eternal
The other charge--he says again after refuting several
accusations of the kind stated above--the other charge, that the
Jews are averse to secular studies, rests upon an equally
erroneous foundation. For even in Germany Jewish parents have at
length found out that it is absolute folly to let their sons
devote themselves to the study of science, since they never can
hope for obtaining the least office; and since many a one, after
the best years of his youth are passed, tired of waiting, and
fearful of not having in his old age any means of support, finds
in the baptismal font the last anchor of his shattered hopes.
How much more must this consideration have weight in Russia?
Nicholas, instead of encouraging the Jews to study, ordered, on
the contrary, that all such of them as held offices and insignia
of distinction under Alexander should either resign or become
apostates. I know myself several collegiate councillors and men
attached to the court, who went to the synagogue on the Day of
Atonement with the insignia of the order of St. Anna around
their neck, and prayed there with devotion and fervor, who still
were forced into apostasy. Such instances are not calculated to
encourage Jewish parents to let their children study; and it is
but too true that many whose inclination led them to study were
carried thereby into the bosom of the Christian Church.
After almost half a decade of indefatigable labor, Lilienthal finally
came to understand the Russian State policy, "to assign a plausible
reason for every act done by the Government, in order to stand justified
in the estimation of Europe, whilst they, by throwing dust in the eyes
of the public, conceal their true purpose." The laws which seemed
favorable to the Jews, and apparently aimed at promoting culture among
them, went hand in hand with laws of the most rigorous character. It is
true that the Jews were not the only unfortunates whom the fanatic
autocrat wished to Russify, that is, compel to see the pure light of
Greek Orthodoxy. But they, of course, suffered the most. The slightest
laws were enforced by the chinovniks (officials) with the knout and the
leaden lash. When the Judeo-Polish gaberdine, the long side-curls
(peot), and the wig or turban (knup) fell into disfavor with the
Government, the miserable offender caught by an officer seldom saved
himself with the mere sacrifice of knup, coat, peot, and beard. And when
the time arrived for the execution of the more important laws, such as
the Exportation Act of April 20, 1843, no fiendish ingenuity could
surpass the cruelty of the Cossacks. This ukase more than any other, it
is claimed, embittered Lilienthal against Russia, and caused him to flee
to where he could say as one awakening from a nightmare: "The horrible
hatred against the Jews in Russia is nothing more to me than a hazy
remembrance. My soul is no longer oppressed by frightful pictures of
tyranny and persecution." He was in the land of the free!
The Lilienthal tragedy thus came to a premature close. The hero
disappeared at the beginning of the play. He had the potency, but he
lacked the conditions, for producing great results. His German birth and
training, the very qualities which recommended him to the Government,
operated against him when he came to deal with Russian Jews. Yet he
succeeded in giving a strong impetus to the Haskalah movement, and
builded better than he knew. The statement in his address at the
dedication of the Riga school, "This hour we may call the hour of
the renaissance of the mental education of Israel," which reads like an
oratorical platitude, was not entirely visionary. The real history of
Haskalah in Russia commences with Lilienthal.
Time helped greatly to restore, even to deepen, the affection of the
Maskilim for Lilienthal. A modern critic speaking of "life and
literature" in Hebrew, pictures him in glowing colors, and finishes his
I have presented to you, reader, a man of deep culture, known
and respected in the highest circles, and yet inseparably
connected with his race and religion, and ready to offer his
life for their welfare; a man who worked with might and main for
others at the sacrifice of his own comfort and advancement; an
orator whose exalted phrases shattered the pillars and
foundations of ignorance and superstition; a hero who in time of
peril was proof against the arrows and missiles of the enemy,
and who did not relax his hand from the flag. But what was the
fruit he reaped? Mostly ingratitude and persecution, a heart
lacerated with despair, a soul writhing under the pangs of
frustrated hopes. Such a personality with its fine shades, and
with the poetry of the artist superimposed, would afford
splendid material for the hero of a novel--a hero to captivate
the eye and heart of the reader by his nobility and
For a long time Russian officialdom discussed the question, whether the
establishment of exclusively Jewish schools would prove beneficial, but
nobody doubted the efficacy of rabbinical seminaries. Yet it was these
latter institutions that evoked the strongest protests from the Jews.
The advocates of Haskalah gradually came to recognize the truth, which
Lilienthal admitted afterwards, that for a Russian rabbi a thorough
knowledge of the Talmud was absolutely indispensable. But it was with
the object of discouraging such knowledge that the seminaries had been
suggested by Uvarov, and it was this study that was almost entirely
ignored in them. What congregation, many of whose members were profound
Talmudists, would accept a rabbi to whom unvocalized Hebrew was a snare
and a stumbling-block? Moreover, the whole atmosphere of the seminaries
was Christian, nay, military. Not a few members of their faculties or
boards of governors were discharged police officers or superannuated
soldiers, and at the head of the seminary in Vilna, the metropolis of
Russian Jewry, stood an apostate Jew! They became, as it were,
infirmaries of the bureaucracy, where, at the expense of the Jews, it
could stow away anyone who had proved a failure or was no longer useful.
The Government also undertook to provide the graduates with positions,
patronage which rendered the students insolently independent of their
coreligionists, and encouraged some of them to indulge in a _modus
vivendi_ distasteful to their future flocks. The graduates, therefore,
proved failures as rabbis, and the Government was forced to provide for
them by appointing them as teachers.
If this was the case with the rabbinical seminaries, we can easily
imagine the state of the subordinate schools. The Christian principals
were coarse and uneducated as a rule, and did their best to prejudice
the children against their religion. Scattered all over the Pale were to
be found Jews competent to fill positions not only as teachers in
inferior grades but as professors in the universities. Yet Lilienthal
was advised (1841) to advertise for three hundred teachers in Germany.
Finally the Government decided to employ Jews as teachers of Hebrew
only, the least important subject in the curriculum; for instruction in
the secular branches none but Christians were eligible. No Jews were
allowed to become rectors in their own schools, and their salaries were
so small that they could not support themselves without teaching an
additional class, which was prohibited. A Jew might, indeed, become an
"honorable overseer" (pochotny blyustityel), to mediate between pupils
and parents, but the title was the only pay attached to the office.
Respectable parents, therefore, kept their children at home, or rather
in the heder, and many a child's name was on the roll of attendance who
was not even aware of the existence of the school. "Every year in the
autumn," relates a writer a quarter of a century later, "there was a
kind of compulsory recruiting of Jewish children for the Government
school, accompanied sometimes by struggles between the victims and their
enemies,--scenes without a parallel, in some respects, in the civilized
world. I remember how poor mothers and sisters wept with despair when
some boy of the family was carried off or enlisted by the officers to be
a pupil of a Government school." Like the poimaniki, the poor and the
orphaned were compelled, or induced, to fill the class-rooms shunned by
the rich and respectable, and though the Government not only condemned
the ancient Hebrew institutions, but declared the twenty thousand
teachers who imparted instruction in them to be outlaws and criminals,
the melammedim pursued their vocation as ever, and the hadarim, Talmud
Torahs, yeshibot, and batte midrashim swarmed with students of the
Nicholas was paid measure for measure, and the cunning of his ministers
was made of no avail by the shrewdness of his Jewish subjects. The
report of the Minister of Education, at the end of 1845, shows
incredible progress. It states that since the ukase of November 13,
1844, i.e. in the course of a single year, more than two thousand
schools of different grades were established in various cities of the
Pale, with more than one hundred and eighty thousand pupils, not
including the technical schools in Odessa, Riga, Kishinev, Vilna, and
Uman, with their hundreds of students! The truth was that, instead of
the reported Russification, there had set in a vigorous reaction, which
rendered the position more critical. Both sides had become
desperate. Some Maskilim, emboldened by the interest the Government
evinced in their efforts, had resorted to all manner of means to
accomplish their object, and frequently allied themselves with the
oppressors. The Slavuta publishing house, it is claimed, was closed, and
the Schapiras met with their tragic end, because "as printers they
scrupulously abstained from publishing Haskalah literature." Maskilim
were employed by the authorities as tax collectors, and these, as is
ever the case with rapacious farmers of taxes, besides executing the
harsh laws of the tyrant, looked also to their own aggrandizement, and
harassed their pious coreligionists in all ways conceivable. Many of
them even hindered the colonization movement, because, if allowed to
mature, it would deprive them of their income. In addition to this,
the Jews were now burdened, through the instrumentality of the Maskilim,
with a tax on the candles lighted on Sabbath eve, yielding annually over
one million rubles, the greater part of which went into the coffers of
greedy officials. Another tax, also for the maintenance of the
newly-organized Government schools, was levied--one kopeck and a half
per page!--on text-books, whether imported from abroad or published in
Vilna or Zhitomir, and the text-books were published with unnecessarily
large type and wide margins to increase the number of pages. The
abridgment and translation of Maimuni's _Mishneh Torah_ (St. Petersburg,
1851), superintended by Leon Mandelstamm, cost the Russian Jews tens of
thousands of rubles, notwithstanding the expenditure of two or three
millions on their own educational institutions, and at a time when every
kopeck was needed for the support of the host of victims of fire,
famine, and cholera, which ravaged many a city. Hence the reaction
became more and more formidable. The cry grew louder and louder, _Znaty
nye znayem, shkolles nye zhelayem!_ ("We want no schools!"). The
opposition, which began in the latter years of Alexander I, reached its
culmination in the last decade of the reign of Nicholas I. "Israel,"
laments Mandelstamm, "seems to be even worse than formerly; he is like a
sick person who has convalesced only to relapse, and the physicians are
beginning to despair." It was a struggle not unlike that all over Europe
at the beginning of the Renaissance, a struggle between liberty and
authority, between this world and other-worldliness, between the spirit
of the nineteenth century and that of the millenniums which preceded it.
Here is a description, by Morgulis, of the struggles and conquests of
the new, small, but zealous, group of Maskilim in Russia at about that
Those upon whom the sun of civilization and freedom happened to
cast a ray of light, showing them the path leading to a new
life, were compelled to study the European literatures and
sciences in garrets, in cellars, in any nook where they felt
themselves secure from interference. Neither unaffiliated Jews
nor the outer world knew anything about them. Like rebels they
kept their secrets unto themselves, stealthily assembling from
time to time, to consider how they might realize their ideal,
and disclose to their brethren the fountainhead of the living
waters out of which they drank and drew new youth and life.
Whatever was novel was accepted with delight. They looked with
envy upon the great intellectual progress of their western
brethren. Fain would they have had their Jewish countrymen
recognize the times and their requirements, but they could not
give free utterance to their thoughts. On the contrary, they
found it expedient to assume the mask of religion in order to
escape the suspicion of alert zealots, and gain, if possible,
new recruits. In many places societies were founded under the
name of Lovers of the New Haskalah, the members of which
observed such secrecy that even their kinsmen and those among
whom they dwelt were unaware of their existence. If through the
discovery of some forbidden book any of them happened to be
detected, he never betrayed his friends. Such a one was usually
compelled to marry, so that, being burdened with family cares,
he might desist from his unpopular pursuits.
From which it would appear that though the opposition to Haskalah in
Russia was by no means as violent as had been the opposition to
enlightenment in France, for instance, or even among the Jews of Germany
and Austria, it was a bitter and stubborn conflict between parents
and children in the adjustment of old ideals to a new environment.
Aside from the hindrances which Haskalah encountered because of
Nicholas's conversionist policy, it was greatly hampered by the
geographical distribution of the Jews. Here again the czar defeated his
own end by segregating the three or four million of his Jewish subjects
in certain districts, technically called the Pale, the greatest ghetto
the world has ever known. It was a Judea in itself. The Jews there
seldom came in contact with outside civilization. The languages they
used were Hebrew as the literary tongue, Yiddish among themselves, and
the local Slavonic dialect with their non-Jewish neighbors. Russian was
strange, not only to the great majority of Jews, but to the Russians
themselves. It was merely the State language, and even the Government
officials fell back on their mother tongue whenever they were at liberty
to do so. It was this that made it very difficult for the Jews to be
But even if Russification had been a much easier process, Russian
civilization was hardly worth the having. To become Russified would
have meant not only religious but also intellectual suicide. Whatever
was good in the Russia of that day was an importation. The language was
scarcely beyond the barbarous state. Its literature possessed neither
original nor adopted writings, no profound philosophical systems, no
Rousseau or Goethe, no Franklin or Kant, not even any practical
information with which to reward the student. The best writers were
Kryloff, Pushkin, Zhukovsky, and Dyerzhavin. The prices of books were so
high as to make them unattainable. Karamzin's _History of the Russian
Empire_ sold at fifty-five rubles per copy. The royal library, which had
been founded by the Jewish court physician Sanchez, contained only eight
Russian books during the reign of Alexander I, and not many more were
added by his successor. The dramatic art developed by the Jewish
playwright Nebakhovich remained for a long time in the same state as
when he ceased his work. If Russia was the most powerful, it
continued to be the most fanatical and uncivilized country in Europe.
All who had occasion to visit and study it during the first half of the
nineteenth century testify to its deplorable intellectual status.
According to a very ingenious and observing writer, quoted by Buckle in
his _History of Civilization_, it consisted of but two ranks, the
highest and the lowest, or the nobility and the serfs: _Les marchands,
qui formaient une classe moyenne, sont en si petit nombre qu'il ne
peuvent marquer dans l'état; d'ailleurs presque tous sont étrangers_.
The higher classes were distinguished for "a total absence of all
rational tastes on literary topics."
Here [in Russia]--the same writer continues--it is absolutely
_mauvais genre_ to discuss a rational subject--pure _pédanterie_
to be caught upon any topics beyond dressing, dancing, and a
_jolie tournure_. Military prowess is ranked far above scholarly
attainment, and a man in a uniform, no matter how depraved,
takes precedence of one in plain clothes, whatever his
achievements. All the energies of the nation are turned towards
the army. Commerce, the law, and the civil employments are held
in no esteem; all young men of any consideration betake
themselves to the profession of arms. Nothing astonished them
more than to see the estimation in which the civil professions,
and especially the bar, are held in Great Britain.
How different was the position of the Jews in other countries,
especially in Germany! Culture streamed upon them from all sides. As
their numbers were small, and as they lived, in most cases, in the
larger cities of the empire, their contact with the Christian world was
immediate and continuous. And then the irresistible fascination of
German literature, and the easy, almost imperceptible transition from
the Judeo-German to the Teutonic-German! All this and many minor
allurements were potent enough to draw even the heretofore callous
German Jews out of their isolation, and their Germanization by the
middle of the nineteenth century was an established fact. No wonder,
then, that, unlike Russian Jewry, the German Jews experienced an
unprecedented revolution; that the difference between the Mendelssohnian
generation and the next following was almost as great as that between
the modern American Jew and his brother in the Orient. No wonder, also,
that when Haskalah finally took root in Russia, it was purely German for
fifty years and more; that Nicholas's vigorous attempts, instead of
making the Slavonic Jews better Russians, merely helped to make those he
"re-educated" greater admirers of Germany. The most puissant autocrat of
Russia unwittingly contributed to the downfall of Russian autocracy, and
Gregori Peretz, the Dekabrist, son of the financier who became converted
under Alexander I, was the first of those who were to endeavor, with
book and bomb, to break the backbone of tyranny under Nicholas II.
Till about the "sixties," then, the Russo-Jewish Maskilim were the
recipients, and the German Jews were the donors. The German Jews wrote,
the Russian Jews read. Germany was to the Jewish world, during the early
Haskalah movement, what France, according to Guizot, was to Europe
during the Renaissance: both received an impetus from the outside in the
form of raw ideas, and modified them to suit their environment. Berlin
was still, as it had been during the days of Mendelssohn and Wessely,
the sanctuary of learning, the citadel of culture. In the highly
cultivated German literature they found treasures of wisdom and science.
The poetical gems of Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, and Herder captivated
their fancy; the philosophy of Kant and Fichte, Schelling and Hegel
nourished their intellect. Kant continued to be the favorite guide of
Maimon's countrymen, and in their love for him they interpreted the
initials of his name to mean "For my soul panteth after thee."
But more efficacious than all other agencies was Mendelssohn's German
translation of the Bible, and the _Biur_ commentary published therewith.
Renaissance and Reformation, those mighty, revolutionary forces, have
entered every country by side-doors, so to say. The Jewish Pale was no
exception to the rule. What Wycliffe's translation did for England, and
Luther's for Germany, Mendelssohn's did for Russian Jewry. Like the
Septuagint, it marked a new epoch in the history of Jewish advancement.
It is said that Mendelssohn's aim was chiefly to show the grandeur of
the Hebrew poetry found in the Bible, but by the irony of fate his
translation displayed to the Russian Jew the beauty and elegance of the
German language. To the member of the Lovers of the New Haskalah,
surreptitiously studying the Bible of the "Dessauer," the Hebrew was
rather a translation of, or commentary on, the German, and served him as
a bridge to cross over into the otherwise hardly accessible field of
The cities on the borders of Russia were the first strongholds of
Haskalah, and among them, as noted before, few struggled so intensely
for their intellectual and civil emancipation as those in the provinces
of Courland and Livonia. Though their lot was not better than that of
their coreligionists, yet, having formerly belonged to Germany, and
being surrounded by a people whose culture was superior to that of the
rest of Russia, they were the first to adopt western customs, and were
surpassed only by the Jews in Germany in their desire for reform. Their
strenuous pleadings for equal rights were, indeed, ineffectual, but this
did not lessen their admiration for the beauties of civilization, nor
blind them to its benefits. "Long ago," remarks Lilienthal, "before the
peculiar Jewish dress was prohibited, a great many could be seen here
[in Courland] dressed after the German fashion, speaking pure German,
and having their whole household arranged after the German custom. The
works of Mendelssohn were not _trefah pasul_ [unclean and unfit], the
children visited the public schools, the academies, and the
The beautiful city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, at that time just out of
its infancy and full of the virility and aspiration of youth, was also
in the full glare of the German Haskalah movement. With its wide and
straight streets, its public and private parks, and its magnificent
structures, it presents even to-day a marked contrast to other Russian
cities, and the Russians, not without pride, speak of it as "our little
Paris." In the upbuilding of this southern metropolis Jews played an
exceedingly important part. For, as regards the promotion of trade and
commerce, Russia had outgrown the narrow policy of Elizabeta Petrovna,
and did not begrudge her Jews the privilege of taking the lead. The
"enemies of Christ" were permitted, even invited, to accomplish their
"mission" also in Odessa, and thither they accordingly came, not only
from Volhynia, Podolia, and Lithuania, but also from Germany, Austria,
and especially Galicia. Erter, Letteris, Krochmal, Perl, Rapoport,
Eichenbaum, Pinsker, and Werbel became better known in Russia than in
their own land. As the Russo-Polish Jews had carried their Talmudic
learning back to the countries whence they originally received it, so
the Galician Jews, mostly hailing from the city of Brody, where Israel
Zamoscz, Mendel Levin, Joseph Hakohen, and others had implanted the
germs of Haskalah, now reimported it into Russia. The Jews of Odessa
were, therefore, more cultured than other Russian Jews, not excepting
those of Riga. Prosperous in business, they lavished money on their
schools, and their educational system surpassed all others in the
empire. In 1826 they had the best public school for boys, in 1835 a
similar one for girls, and in 1852 there existed fifty-nine public
schools, eleven boarding schools, and four day schools. The children
attended the Richelieu Lyceum and the "gymnasia" in larger proportion
than children of other denominations, and they were among the first, not
only in Russia, but in the whole Diaspora, to establish a
"choir-synagogue" (1840). "In most of the families," says Lilienthal,
"can be found a degree of refinement which may easily bear comparison
with the best French salon." Even Nicholas I found words of praise for
the Odessa Jews. "Yes," said he, "in Odessa I have also seen Jews, but
they were men"; while the zaddik "Rabbi Yisrolze" declared that he saw
"the flames of Gehennah round Odessa."
Warsaw, too, was a beneficiary of Germany, having been occupied by the
Prussians before it fell to the lot of the Russians. It was there that
practically the first Jewish weekly journals were published in Yiddish
and Polish, Der Beobachter an der Weichsel, and Dostrzegacz Nadvisyansky
(1823). There was opened the first so-called rabbinical seminary, with
Anton Eisenbaum as principal, and Cylkov, Buchner, and Kramsztyk as
teachers. The public schools were largely attended, owing to the efforts
of Mattathias Rosen, and a year after a reformed synagogue had been
organized in Odessa another was founded in Warsaw, where sermons were
preached in German by Abraham Meïr Goldschmidt.
But Riga on the Baltic, Odessa on the Black Sea, and Warsaw on the
Vistula were outdone by some cities in the interior. Haskalah lovers
multiplied rapidly, and were found in the early "forties" in every city
of any size in the Pale. "The further we go from Pinsk to Kletzk and
Nieszvicz," writes a correspondent in the Annalen, "the more we lose
sight of the fanatics, and the greater grows the number of the
enlightened." With the establishment of the rabbinical seminaries in
Zhitomir (1848), this former centre of Hasidism became the nursery of
Haskalah. The movement was especially strong in Vilna, the "Jerusalem of
Lithuania," as Napoleon is said to have called it. From time immemorial,
long before the Gaon's day, it had been famous for its Talmudic
scholars. "Its yeshibot," says Jacob Emden in the middle of the
eighteenth century, "were closed neither by day nor by night; many
scholars came home from the bet ha-midrash but once a week. They
surpassed their brethren in Poland and in Germany in learning and
knowledge, and it was regarded of much consequence to secure a rabbi
from Vilna." Now this "city and mother in Israel" became one of the
pioneers of Haskalah, all the more because, in addition to the public
schools and the rabbinical seminary, the Jews were admitted to its
university on equal terms with the Gentiles. "Within six years,"
exclaims Mandelstamm, "what a change has come over Vilna! Youths and
maidens, anxious for the new Haskalah, are now to be met with
everywhere, nor are any ashamed to learn a trade." The schools exerted a
salutary influence on the younger generation, and the older people, too,
began to view life differently, only that they were still reluctant to
discard their old-fashioned garb. There also, in 1847, the leading
Maskilim started a reform synagogue, which they named Taharat ha-Kodesh,
the Essence of Holiness.
It should not be forgotten that, if Lilienthal met with mighty
opposition, he also had powerful supporters. There were many who, though
remaining in the background, strongly sympathized with his plan. Indeed,
the number of educated Jews, as proved by an investigation ordered by
Nicholas I, was far greater than had been commonly supposed. Not only in
the border towns, but even in the interior of the Pale, the students of
German literature and secular science were not few, and Doctor Loewe
discovered in Hebron an exceptional German scholar in the person of an
immigrant from Vilna. The tendency of the time is well illustrated
by an anecdote told by Slonimsky, to the effect that when he went to ask
the approval of Rabbi Abele of Zaslava on his _Mosde Hokmah_, he found
that those who came to be examined for ordination received their award
without delay, while he was put off from week to week. Ill at ease,
Slonimsky approached the venerable rabbi and demanded an explanation:
"You grant a semikah [rabbinical diploma] so readily, why do you seem so
reluctant when a mere haskamah [recommendation] is the matter at issue?"
To his surprise the reason given was that the rabbi enjoyed his
scientific debates so much that he would not willingly part with the
Stories were told how the deans of the yeshibot were frequently found to
have mastered the very books they confiscated because of the teachings
they inculcated. Before the reign of Nicholas I drew to its end,
Haskalah centres were as numerous as the cities wherein Jews resided. In
Byelostok the Talmudist Jehiel Michael Zabludovsky was lending German
books to young Slonimsky, the future inventor and publicist; in
Vlotslavek Rabbi Joseph Hayyim Caro was writing and preaching in classic
German; in Zhagory, Hayyim Sack helped Leon Mandelstamm (1809-1889), the
first Jewish "candidate," or bachelor, in philology to graduate from the
St. Petersburg University (1844) and the assistant and successor of
Lilienthal, in the expurgation and German translation of Maimuni's
_Mishneh Torah_. When, in 1857, Mandelstamm resigned, he was followed by
Seiberling, for fifteen years the censor of Jewish books in Kiev, upon
whom a German university conferred the doctor's degree. The
poverty-stricken Wolf Adelsohn, known as the Hebrew Diogenes, formed a
group of Seekers after Light in Dubno, while such wealthy merchants as
Abraham Rathaus, Lilienthal's secretary during his campaign in
Berdichev, Issachar Bompi, the bibliophile in Minsk, Leon Rosenthal,
financier and philanthropist in Brest-Litovsk, and Aaron Rabinovich, in
Kobelyaki (Poltava), promoted enlightenment by precept and example. In
Vilna, Joseph Sackheim's young son acted as English interpreter when
Montefiore was entertained by his father, and Jacob Barit, the
incomparable "Yankele Kovner" (1793-1833) another of Montefiore's
hosts, was master of Russian, German, and French, and aroused the
admiration of the Governor-General Nazimov by his learning and his
Yes, the Jews began to pay, if they had ever been in debt, for the good
that had for a while been bestowed upon them by Alexander I. Alexander
Nebakhovich was a well-known theatrical director, his brother Michael
was the editor of the first Russian comic paper Yeralash, and Osip
Rabinovich showed marked ability in serious journalism. In 1842 died
Abraham Jacob Stern, the greatest inventor Russia had till then
produced; and, as if to corroborate the statement of the Talmud, that
when one sun sets another rises, the Demidoff prize of two thousand five
hundred rubles was the same year awarded to his son-in-law, Hayyim Selig
Slonimsky (HaZas, 1810-1904) of Byelostok, for the first of his valuable
inventions. Stern's genius was surpassed, though in a different
direction, only by that of Elijah Vilna. His first invention was a
calculating machine, which led to his election as a member of the Warsaw
Society of the Friends of Science (1817) and to his being received twice
by Alexander I (1816, 1818), who bestowed upon him an annual pension of
three hundred and fifty rubles. This invention was followed by another,
"a topographical wagon for the measurement of level surfaces, an
invention of great benefit to both civil and military engineers." He
also constructed an improved threshing and harvesting machine and a
sickle of immense value to agriculture.
But it is scarcely possible, nor would it be profitable, to enumerate
either the places or the persons who were, so to speak, inoculated with
the Haskalah virus. In Grodno, Kovno, Lodz, Minsk, Mohilev, Pinsk,
Zamoscz, Slutsk, Vitebsk, Zhagory, and other places, they were toiling
zealously and diligently, these anchorites in the desert of knowledge.
Among them were men of all classes and callings, from the cloistered
Talmudist to the worldly merchant. The path of Haskalah was slowly yet
surely cleared. The efforts of the conservative Maskilim were not devoid
of some good results, nor even were those of Nicholas, though aimed at
Christianizing rather than civilizing, entirely wasted. With all their
shortcomings, and though producing but few rabbis acceptable to
Russo-Jewish congregations, the seminaries in Warsaw, Zhitomir, and
Vilna were powers for enlightenment. In them the future prominent
scientists, scholars, and litterateurs were reared, and there the
foundations were laid for the activities of Goldfaden, Gurland, Harkavy,
Kantor, Landau, Levanda, Mandelkern, Paperna, Pumpyansky, Rosenberg,
Steinberg, and others. Their fate was that of Mendelssohn's Bible
translation. The end became a means, the means, an end. But they not
only "brought forth" great men, they rendered no less important a
service in "bringing out" those already great. Had it not been for their
professorships, men like Abramovitsch, Lerner, Plungian, Slonimsky,
Suchastover, and Zweifel, who were not blessed with worldly goods like
Fünn, Katzenellenbogen, Luria, or Strashun, would probably have sought
in private teaching or petty trading a source of subsistence, and
Judaism in general and Russian Jewry in particular would have sustained
a considerable loss. They helped to prepare the soil, even to implant
the germ, and
Once the germ implanted,
Its growth, if slow, is sure.
As the history of this period is incomplete without an acquaintance with
the lives of some of the Maskilim who sowed the seeds that burst into
blossom under the favorable conditions of the "sixties," I shall select,
as specimens out of a multitude, the two who, more than any others,
furthered the cause of Haskalah, Isaac Bär Levinsohn and Mordecai Aaron
Isaac Bär Levinsohn of Kremenetz, Volhynia (RiBaL, 1788-1860), was for
many years a name to conjure with, not only among the Maskilim of all
shades, but also among their opponents. Long before he reached man's
estate, he had entered upon the career to which he was to dedicate his
life. Even in those times of numerous child prodigies, Levinsohn was
distinguished for his intellectual precocity. At the age of three he was
ripe for the heder. At nine he was the author of a work on Cabbala. At
ten he mastered the Talmud, and knew the entire Hebrew Bible by heart.
But what singled him out among his classmates was his passionate love of
secular knowledge. The son of Judah Levin, an erudite merchant who knew
Hebrew and Polish to perfection, the grandson of Jekuthiel Solomon,
famed for wealth and refinement, he evinced unusual ability in selecting
and retaining what was good and true in everything he read. At fourteen
he was familiar with the literatures of several nations, so that during
the Franco-Russian war (1812) he easily secured an appointment as
interpreter and secretary in the local police department. But excessive
study caused ill-health, and at the suggestion of his physicians he went
to Brody in Galicia, a fortunate incident in the otherwise solitary and
gloomy life of the future reformer, for next to Germany Galicia played
an important part in the Haskalah movement in Russia. There he met
Joseph Perl, the noted educator; Doctor Isaac Erter, the immortal
satirist; M.H. Letteris, the distinguished poet; S.L. Rapoport, one of
the first and profoundest of Jewish historians, and Nahman Krochmal, the
saintly philosopher. Into this circle of "shining ones" Levinsohn was
introduced, and each and all left an impression, some greater, some
less, upon his plastic soul. It was there and then, in the congenial
company of friends of about his own age, that Levinsohn determined to
devote himself to improving the educational system of his people and
began to plan his work on _Learning in Israel_ (_Te'udah be-Yisraël_),
which procured for its author the foremost place in the history of the
The book was finished in 1823, but, owing to Levinsohn's pecuniary
circumstances, it remained unpublished till 1828. Meanwhile it
circulated in manuscript among the leading Maskilim of Russia, Austria,
and Germany, and established its author's reputation wherever it was
read. Levinsohn was one of those who understand the persuasive power of
the still small voice of sweet reasonableness. He knew that a few
convincing arguments couched in gentle language will accomplish more for
the furtherance of an ideal than the trumpet call of a hundred clamoring
militants, and Haskalah will make headway only when it can prove itself
to be a help, and not a hindrance, to religion. Accordingly, he aimed to
show that the Tanaim, Amoraim, Saboraim, Geonim, and rabbis of later
generations were versed in the sciences, were familiar with foreign
history, and interested in the affairs of the world. But these he quotes
only as exemplars of broad-mindedness, they must no longer be regarded
as authorities in secular knowledge. "Art and science," he says, "are
steadily progressing.... To perfect ourselves in them we must resort to
non-Jewish sources." This was a bold statement for those times, however
mildly expressed. The _Te'udah_ became a bone of contention. It was torn
and burnt by fanatics, exalted to the skies by friends. The new apostle
of enlightenment was forced to leave the city and reside for a while in
Berdichev, Nemirov, Ostrog, and Tulchin. But wherever he went, his
tribulation was sweetened by the enthusiasm of his admirers and the
consciousness that his toil was not entirely wasted. In Warsaw and in
Vilna his name was great, and Nicholas presented him with a thousand
rubles as a mark of appreciation of the book, the fly-leaf of which
bears the inscription "To science."
In the midst of his more serious studies Levinsohn diverted himself
occasionally with lighter composition, in which many an antiquated
custom served as the butt for his biting satire. In his youth he had a
penchant for poetry, and his poem on the flight, or expulsion, of the
French from Russia was complimented by the Government. His muse dealt
with ephemeral themes, but his _bons mots_ are current among his
countrymen to this day. A novel sort of plagiarism was the fashion of
the time. Authors attributed their work to others, instead of claiming
the product of others as their own. Levinsohn's _Hefker Welt_, in
Yiddish, and _Sayings of the Saints_ and _Valley of the Dead_, in
Hebrew, belong to this category. But the deep student did not persist
long in this species of diversion. Wittgenstein, the field-marshal, and
professors at the Lyceum of his town, supplied him with books, and he,
an omnivorous reader, plunged again into his graver work, the result of
which was the little book since translated into English, Russian, and
German, _Efes Dammim_ (_No Blood!_). As the name indicates, it was
intended as a defence against the blood, or ritual murder, accusation.
It was the right word in the right time and place. In Zaslav, Volhynia,
this monstrous libel had been revived, and popular fury rose to a high
pitch. Several years later the Damascus Affair stirred the Jewish world
to determined action, designed to stamp it out once for all. To wage war
against this superstitious belief seems to have fallen to the lot of
several of Levinsohn's family. In 1757, when it asserted itself in
Yampoly, Volhynia, his great-uncle, by the unanimous consent of the
Council of the Four Countries, was sent to Rome to intercede with the
Pope. After six years of pleading, he returned to his native land with a
signed statement addressed to the Polish king and nobles, which declared
the accusation to be utterly false. Another uncle of his had performed a
similar task in 1749. True scion of a noble family, Levinsohn followed
in their wake, and his effort was declared to be a "sharp sword forged
by a master, to fight for our honor."
Everything was against Levinsohn when he started on his third great
work, _The House of Judah_ (_Bet Yehudah_). He found himself poor, sick,
and alone, and deprived of his fine library. In those days, and for a
long time before and afterwards, Hebrew authors were paid in kind. In
return for their copyright they received a number of copies of their
books, which they were at liberty to dispose of as best they could. Now,
while Levinsohn's copies of his _Bet Yehudah_ were still at the
publisher's, a fire broke out, and most of them were consumed.
The _Te'udah be-Yisraël_ had been prompted by a desire to prove the
compatibility of modern civilization with Judaism. Levinsohn's object in
writing his _Bet Yehudah_ was the reverse. The impetus came from without
the Jewish camp. The book represents the author's views on certain
Jewish problems propounded by his Christian friend, Prince Emanuel
Lieven, just as Mendelssohn's _Jerusalem_ was written at the instigation
of Lavater. Though there is a similarity in the causes that produced the
two books, there is a marked difference in their methods. Mendelssohn
treats his subject as an impartial non-Jewish philosopher might have
done. He is frequently too reserved, for fear of offending. Levinsohn,
in Greek-Catholic Russia, is strictly frank. He is conscious of the
difficulties under which he is laboring. To discuss religion in Russia
is far from agreeable. "It is," he says, "as if a master, pretending to
exhibit his skill in racing, were to enter into competition publicly
with his slave ... and at the same time wink at him to slacken his
speed." Of one thing he is certain: Judaism is a progressive religion.
It had been and might be reformed from time to time, but this can and
must be only along the lines of its own genius. To improve the moral and
material condition of the Jews by weaning them away from the faith of
their fathers (as was tried by Nicholas) will not do. On the contrary,
make them better Jews, and they will be better citizens.
The _Bet Yehudah_ may justly be called the connecting link between the
_Te'udah_, which preceded it, and _Zerubbabel_, which followed it. The
latter, though written in Hebrew, was really intended exclusively for
the Gentile world, as the former had been mainly for the Jewish world.
It is a continuation, but not yet a conclusion, of the self-assigned
task of Levinsohn. The Talmud, we have seen, was at that time the object
of assaults of zealous Christians and disloyal Jews, and hostile works
against Judaism were the order of the day. Most of them, however, like
the fabulous snake, vented their poison and died. It was different with
McCaul's poignant diatribe against the cause of Judaism and the honor of
the Talmud, which had been translated into many languages. Montefiore,
while in Russia, urged Levinsohn to defend his people against their
traducers, and the bed-ridden sage, almost blind and hardly able to hold
a pen, finally consented. What _Zerubbabel_ accomplished, can be judged
from the fact that in the second Hebrew edition of McCaul's _Old Paths_
(1876) are omitted many of the calumnies and aspersions of the first
edition, published in 1839.
Levinsohn's life was a continuous struggle against an insidious disease,
which kept him confined to his bed, and prevented him from accepting any
prominent position. But though, as he said, he had "neither brother,
wife, child, nor even a sound body," he impressed his personality upon
Russian Jewry as no one else, save the Gaon, had before him. His breadth
of view and his sympathetic disposition gradually won him the respect
and love of all who knew him. The zaddikim Abraham of Turisk and Israel
Rasiner were his lifelong friends; the Talmudist Strashun acknowledged
his indebtedness to him, and Rabbi Abele of Vilna remarked jestingly
that the only fault to be found with the _Te'udah_ was that its author
was not the Gaon Elijah. He enjoyed prominence in Government circles,
and Prince Wittgenstein was passionately fond of his company. Above all
he endeared himself to the Maskilim. To him they looked as to their
teacher and guide; him they consulted in every emergency. Lebensohn and
Gottlober, Mandelstamm and Gordon, equally sought his criticism and
advice. For all he had words of comfort and encouragement. The younger
Maskilim he warned not to waste their time in idle versification, not to
become intoxicated with their little learning; and the older ones he
implored to respect the sentiments of their conservative coreligionists.
"Take it not amiss," he would say to the latter, "that the great bulk of
our people hearken not as yet to our new teachings. All beginnings are
difficult. The drop cannot become a deluge instantaneously. Persevere in
your laudable ambition, publish your good and readable books, and the
result, though slow, is sure."
Thus lived and labored the first of the Maskilim, an idealist from
beginning to end. Persecution did not embitter, nor poverty depress him.
And when he passed away quietly (February 12, 1860) in the obscure
little town in which he had been born, and which has become famous
through him, it was felt that Russia had had her Mendelssohn, too.
Strange to say, he little suspected the tremendous influence he exerted
upon the Haskalah movement, but was quite sanguine of the success of his
fight for "truth and justice among the nations." His work he modestly
summed up in the epitaph which was inscribed on his tombstone at his
Out of nothing God called me to life.
Alas, earthly life has passed, and I must
Sleep again on the bosom of Mother Nature.
Witness this stone. I fought with God's
Foes, not with a Sword, but with the Word;
I fought for Truth and Justice among the Nations
And _Zerubbabel_ and _Efes Dammim_ testify thereto.
Contemporaneous with Isaac Bär Levinsohn, and hardly less distinguished
and influential, was Mordecai Aaron Günzburg (ReMAG, Salanti, Kovno,
December 3, 1795--Vilna, November 5, 1846). His family had been
prominent in many walks of life since the fourteenth century, and,
whether in the land of the Saxons or of the Slavs, represented the cream
of the Jewries in which they lived. His father was a Maskil of great
repute, who had written several treatises, in Hebrew, on algebra,
geometry, optics, and kindred subjects. He sought to supplement his son
Mordecai Aaron's heder education with a knowledge of secular sciences.
But at that time and in that place not many were the books, outside the
Talmud, accessible to a lad eager for learning, the only ones available
being such as the _Josippon_, _Zemah David_, and _Sheërit Yisraël_ on
Jewish History, the _Sefer ha-Berit_, and a Hebrew translation of
Mendelssohn's _Phaedon_ on general philosophy. But the precocious and
clear-minded youth did not need much to stimulate his love for history
and his inclination to philosophy, and his intellectual development
continued in spite of the untoward circumstances in which he happened to
Though he was "given" in marriage at a very early age, the proverbial
"millstone" weighed but lightly upon the neck of young Günzburg. He
never discontinued the habit of secluding himself in his study for
hours, sometimes for days, at a time, and there writing down his
thoughts in painstaking penmanship. These productions, with all their
crudity, promised, according to a keen critic, the flowers which would
one day "ripen into delicious fruit, not only pleasant to the sight but
also delicious to the taste." In fact, even his religious views
underwent but slight modification in later and maturer years. Ceremonial
laws, or minhagim, were to him a social compact among the members of a
sect. He who transgresses them is, _eo ipso_, excluded from the sect, as
he who disregards the social code, though not immoral, is ostracized
from society. This led him to the logical conclusion that every Jew must
comply with the customs of his people, though his opinion as to their
moral value may differ from that of the rest. He believed in freedom of
thought, but would not concede freedom of action or even of expression,
and would say with Bolingbroke, "Freedom belongs to a man as a rational
creature, he lies under the restraint as a member of society."
At these conclusions, Günzburg arrived only after a long, severe, though
silent, struggle in the seclusion of his closet. His active mind would
not at first surrender unconditionally to the coercion of custom. But
his conception of ceremonialism served him in good stead on many an
occasion in his eventful life. Being an expedient to preserve harmony,
it may and must vary with change of conditions. Accordingly, Günzburg
always accommodated himself to his environment. In Vilna he subscribed
to the regulations of the _Shulhan 'Aruk_, in Mitau he quickly and
completely became Germanized. Such adaptability rendered him conspicuous
wherever he went, and as early as 1829 his name was included among the
learned of Livonia, Esthland, and Courland in the Biographical
Dictionary then published by Recke and Napyersky.
His claim to fame, however, consists in the influence he exerted upon
Russian Jews. Like Levinsohn, he was a constructive force. In his
younger days, he had inveighed against the benighted rabbis and the
antiquated garb, but moderation came with discretion. He would not sweep
away by force the accumulation of hundreds of years. Judaism needed
reforms of some sort, but these could not be brought about by the
Russo-German-doctor-rabbis, men who could rede the seven riddles of the
world, but whose knowledge of their own people and its spiritual
treasures was close to the zero point. "For a rabbi," writes he, "Torah
must be the integer, science the cipher. Had Aristotle embraced Judaism,
notwithstanding his unparalleled erudition, he would still remain a
sage, never become a rabbi." But he was as little satisfied with the
exclusively Talmudistic rabbis. "O ye modern rabbis," he calls out in
one of his essays, in which he stigmatizes Lilienthal's plans as the
"gourd of Jonah," "you who stand in the place of seer and prophet of
yore, is it not your duty to rise above the people, to intervene between
them and the Government? And how can you expect to accomplish it, if the
language and regulations of our country are entirely unknown to you?"
The impress Günzburg left upon Hebrew literature is of special
importance. Until his time, despite the examples set by Satanov and
Levin, Hebrew was stamped with the hallmark of medievalism. Like the
Spanish entertainment in Dryden's _Mock Astrologer_, at which everything
at the table tasted of nothing but red pepper, so the literature of that
day was dominated by the style and spirit of the Talmud and saturated
with its subtleties. Astronomy, philosophy, mathematics, and poetry
swarmed with puns, alliterations, pedantic allusions; they were
overladen with irrelevant notes and interwoven with quaint and strained
interpretations. Günzburg was the first, with the exception of Erter
perhaps, to try to remedy the evil. "Every writer," he maintained,
"should guard himself against the fastidiousness or stiffness which
results from pedantry, and take great pains not only with the content of
his thoughts, but with the language in which these thoughts are
couched." Simplicity, perspicuity, and conciseness, these he taught by
precept and example, and though he was accused of "Germanizing" the
Hebrew language, he persisted in his labor until he attained the
foremost rank among the neo-Hebraic litterateurs.
In Günzburg we find the artistic temperament developed to a degree rare
among Hebraists of even more recent years. He wrote only in moments of
inspiration. At times he passed weeks and months without penning a line,
but when once aroused he wrote unceasingly until he finished what he had
begun. He was careful in the choice of his words, careful in the choice
of his books, and would recommend nothing but the best. "I may not have
genius enough," he would say, "to distinguish between better and best,
but I do not lack common sense, to differentiate tares from weeds."
Above all, he possessed a sense of honor, the greatest stimulus, as he
maintained, to noble endeavors. "For as marriage is necessary to
perpetuate the race, and food to sustain the individual, so is honor to
the existence of the superior man."
Of the fifty years of his active life more than one-half was spent in
literary labor. His books obtained a wide circulation, and, though they
were rather expensive, became rare soon after their publication. Yet,
strange to say, this eminent Hebraist seldom, if ever, lauds the
beauties of the "daughter of Eber" (Hebrew) like his fellow-Maskilim
since the days of the Meassefim, nor does he even think it incumbent on
a Jew to be conversant with it.
Three periods have passed over me--he writes to a friend--since
I dedicated myself to Hebrew. As a youth I loved it as a Jewish
lad loves his betrothed, not because he is enamored of her
charms, but because his parents have chosen her for him; as I
grew older, I continued to love it as a Jewish man loves his
wife, not because of real affection, but because she is the only
one he knows; now that I am old, I still love her, as an elderly
Jew loves his helpmate: he is aware that she lacks many of the
accomplishments of which more educated women can boast, but, for
all that, remembering her faithfulness in the past, he loves her
also in the present, and loves her till he dies.
Günzburg was different from most of his contemporaries in another
respect. He was a voluminous writer, but only a few of his books and
essays bear on what we now call Jewish science. Zunz, Geiger, and Jost,
seeing that Judaism was gradually losing its hold upon their Jewish
countrymen, resorted to exploring and narrating, in German, the
wonderful story of their race, in the hope of renewing its ebbing
strength. Levinsohn, living amid a different environment, deemed it best
to convince his fellow-Jews that secular knowledge was necessary, and
religion sanctioned their pursuit thereof. Günzburg, the man of letters,
determined to teach through the vehicle of Hebrew the true and the
beautiful wherever he found it. He felt called upon to reveal to his
brethren the grandeur of the world beyond the dingy ghetto, to tell them
the stories not contained in the Midrash, _Josippon_, or the biographies
of rabbis and zaddikim. He translated Campe's _Discovery of the New
World_, compiled a history of ancient civilization, and narrated the
epochal event of the nineteenth century, the conflict between Russia and
France. He taught his fellow-Jews to think correctly and logically, to
clothe their thoughts in beautiful expressions, and revealed his
innermost being to them in his autobiography, _Abi'ezer_. As a writer he
appears neither erudite nor profound. We cannot apply to his works what
we may safely say of Elijah Vilna's and Levinsohn's, that "there is
solid metal enough in them to fit out whole circulating libraries, were
it beaten into the usual filigree." But he was elegant, cultured,
intelligent, honorable; one who joined a feeling heart to a love for
art; a Moses who struck from the rock of the Hebrew tongue refreshing
streams for those thirsting for knowledge; a most amiable personality,
and an altogether unusual character during the century-long struggle
between light and darkness in the Jewry of Russia.
[Illustration: PEREZ BEN MOSHEH SMOLENSKIN, 1842-1885]
(Notes, pp. 318-322.)
RUSSIFICATION, REFORMATION, AND ASSIMILATION
The year 1856 will always be remembered as the _annus mirabilis_ in the
history of Russia. It marked at once the cessation of the Crimean war
and the accession of the most liberal and benevolent monarch Russia ever
had. On January 16, the heir apparent signified his consent to accept
Austrian intervention, which resulted in the Treaty of Paris (March 30),
granting the Powers involved "peace with honor"; and in August, in the
Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow, amidst unprecedented rejoicing,
the czarevich placed the imperial crown upon his head. From that time
reform followed reform. The condition of the soldiers, who had virtually
been slaves under Nicholas I, was greatly improved, and a proclamation
was issued for the emancipation of the peasants, slaves not for a
limited time only, but for life and from generation to generation. It
cost the United States five years of fratricidal agony, a billion of
dollars, and about half a million of lives, to liberate five or six
millions of negroes; Russia, in one memorable day (February 19, 1861),
liberated nearly twenty-two millions of muzhiks (peasants), and gave
them full freedom, by a mere stroke of the pen of the "tsar
osvobodityel," the Liberator Czar, Alexander II (1856-1881).
Other innovations, of less magnitude but nevertheless of far-reaching
importance, were introduced later. Capital punishment, which still
disgraces human justice in more enlightened states, was unconditionally
abolished; the number of offences amenable to corporal punishment was
gradually reduced, until, on April 29, 1863, all the horrors of the
gauntlet, the spur, the lash, the cat, and the brand, were consigned to
eternal oblivion. The barbarous system of the judiciary was replaced by
one that could render justice "speedy, righteous, merciful, and
equitable." Railway communication, postal and telegraph service, police
protection, the improvement of the existing universities, the opening of
many new primary schools, and the introduction of compulsory school
attendance, told speedily on the intellectual development of the people.
In the words of Shumakr, Russia experienced "a complete inward revival."
Old customs seemed to disappear, all things were become new. New life,
new hope, new aspirations throbbed in the hearts of the subjects of the
gigantic empire, and better times were knocking at their doors. _Joli
tout le monde, le diable est mort!_
This era of great reforms and the resuscitation of all that is good and
noble in the Slavonic soul brought about also a moral regeneration. The
colossus who, according to Turgenief, preferred to sleep an endless
sleep, with a jug of vodka in his clutched fingers, proved that he, too,
was human, with a feeling, human heart beating in his bosom. With the
restoration of peace and the abolition of serfhood, there began a
removal of prejudice even against Jews. Hitherto the foremost
litterateurs in Russia, imitating the writers of other lands, had
painted the Jew as a monstrosity. Pushkin's prisoner, Gogol's traitor,
Lermontoff's spy, and Turgenief's Zhid (Jew) were caricatures and
libels, equal in acrimony, and not inferior in art, to Shakespeare's
Shylock and Dickens's Fagin. But now the best and ablest men of letters
signed a protest against such unjust and impossible characters.
Two thousand years of cruel suffering and affliction--said the
historian and humanitarian Professor Granovsky, of the
University of Moscow--have at last erased the bloody boundary
line separating the Jews from humanity. The honor of this
reconciliation, which is becoming firmer from day to day,
belongs to our age. The civic status of the Jews is now
established in most European countries, and even in the places
that are still backward their condition is improved, if not by
law, then by enlightenment.
And law and enlightenment radiated their sunshine also upon the Jews of
rejuvenated Russia. The Cantonist system was abolished for good; the
high schools and universities were opened to Jews without
discrimination; and the Governments lying outside the Pale were made
accessible to Jewish scholars, professional men, manufacturers,
wholesale merchants, and skilled laborers (March 16, 1859; November 27,
1861). Through the efforts of Wolf Kaplan, one of Günzburg's noted
pupils, the persecution of Jews by Germans in Riga was stopped, and the
eminent publicist Katkoff undertook to defend them in the newspaper
Russkiya Vyedomosti. Nazimov, the Governor-General of Vilna, Mukhlinsky,
who inspected the Jewish schools in western Russia, Artzimovich, of
southern Russia, and many other prominent personages arose as champions
of the Jews.
The physician and pedagogue Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov (1810-1881), the
superintendent of the Odessa and Kiev school districts, is especially
deserving of honorable mention in the history of Haskalah. Of all the
Russians of the period who gloried in their liberal convictions, he was
the most liberal. In him the last vestige of prejudice and race
distinction disappeared, and he conscientiously devoted himself to the
study, not only of the present, but also of the past of the Jews, to be
in a better position to lend them his assistance. To the Jews he
appealed to unite and spread enlightenment among the masses by peaceful
means. To the Gentiles, again, he did not hesitate to point out the good
qualities of the Jews, and in an article on the Odessa Talmud Torah he
held up the institution as a model for the public elementary schools. He
admired especially the enthusiasm with which Jewish youths devoted
themselves to the acquisition of knowledge. "Where are religion,
morality, enlightenment, and the modern spirit," asked he, "when these
Jews, who, with courage and self-sacrifice, engage in the struggle
against prejudices centuries old, meet no one here to sympathize with
them and extend a helping hand to them?" His liberality carried him so
far that he established a fund for the support of indigent Jewish
students at the University of Kiev, and he advocated strenuously the
award of prizes and scholarships to deserving Jewish students. Such as
he were rare in any land, but nowhere so rare as in Russia.
Pirogov took the initiative in reorganizing the Jewish schools. It
required little observation to understand that they had proved a
failure. Instead of attracting the Jewish masses to secular education,
they only repelled them. The remedy was not far to seek. "The abolition
of these schools" said Count Kotzebu, "would drive the Jews back to
their fanaticism and isolation. It is necessary to make the Jews useful
citizens, and I see no other means of achieving this than by their
education." Pirogov's first move was to order that Jewish instead of
Christian principals be put at their head, and he set an example by
appointing Rosenzweig to that office. The curriculum was changed, making
the lower schools correspond with our grammar schools, and adapting
their studies to the needs of those who must discontinue schooling at a
comparatively early age. The higher schools were arranged so as to
prepare the pupils for the gymnasium. The salaries of the teachers were
raised, and books and necessaries were provided for pupils too poor to
The Government's attention having been directed by General Zelenoy to
the Jewish agricultural colonies in southern Russia, Marcus Gurovich was
appointed to work out a plan to provide them with graded schools. He
proposed that secular and sacred subjects alike be taught by Jewish
teachers, and these were to be cautioned to be careful not to offend the
religious sensibilities of the parents. The plan appealed to the
colonists, and they looked forward anxiously to its fulfilment. Having
waited in vain till 1868, they offered to defray the expenses of the
schools involved, if the Government would advance the money at the
first. Accordingly, ten schools for boys and two for girls were opened
in that year.
Such disinterested efforts on their behalf would have evoked the
gratitude of Jews at any time and in every country, how much more in
Russia, and following close upon the darkest period in their history!
The struggle for liberty all over Europe in 1848--the spring of
nations--had confirmed Nicholas in his policy of exclusion. The last
five years of his reign had surpassed the preceding in cruelty and
tyranny. The "Don Quixote of Politics," finding that his attempts to
quarantine Russia against European influences had proved futile, that
the nationalities constituting the empire remained as distinct as ever,
and the desired homogeneity was still far from becoming a reality,
finally had lost patience and had determined to execute his
conversionist policy at all hazards. He had increased the conscription
duties, already unbearable (January 8, 1852; August 16, 1852),
restricted the study of Hebrew and Hebrew subjects still further in the
Government schools, and, as if to embitter the lives of the Jew by all
means available, insisted on the use of the Mitnaggedic ritual even in
communities exclusively or largely Hasidic. Even the blood accusation
had been revived, and the statements in the pamphlet entitled
_Information about the Killing of Christians by Jews for the Purpose of
Obtaining Their Blood_, which Skripitzyn, "the manager of Jewish affairs
in Russia," published in 1844, found many believers in Government
circles, and caused the Saratoff affair which, though suppressed, ruined
numerous Jewish families, and made the breach between Jew and Gentile
wider than ever.
Now all this was changed. Christians championed the cause of Jews. The
Government, too, appeared to be sincerely anxious for the welfare of its
Jewish subjects. It not only promised, but frequently also performed.
The Jews were allowed to follow their religious predilections
unhindered. The schools were reorganized with rabbinical graduates as
their teachers and principals. The Rabbinical Assembly, which, though
established by Nicholas (May 26, 1848), had rarely been called together,
was summoned to St. Petersburg, and there spent six months in 1857 and
five in 1861 in deliberating on means of improving the intellectual and
material standing of the Jews. The "learned Jew" (uchony Yevrey) Moses
Berlin was invited to become an adviser in the Department of Public
Worship (1856), to be consulted concerning the Jewish religion whenever
occasion required. Permission was granted to publish Jewish periodicals
in Russian, Polish, Hebrew, and Yiddish (1860), and on April 26, 1862,
the restriction was removed that limited Jewish publishing houses and
printing-presses to Vilna and Zhitomir. The Russia Montefiore saw on his
visit in 1872, how different from the Russia he had left in 1846!
These auspicious signs renewed the hope of the Maskilim and intensified
their zeal. They were convinced of the noble intentions of the Liberator
Czar; they were confident that the emperor who emancipated the muzhiks,
and expunged many a _kromye Yevreyev_ ("except the Jews") which his
father was wont to add to the few privileges he granted his Christian
subjects, would ultimately remove the civil disabilities of the Jews
altogether. In a very popular song, written by Eliakum Zunser (Vilna,
1836-New York, 1913), then a rising and beloved Badhan (bard) writing in
Yiddish and Hebrew, Alexander II was likened to an angel of God who
finds the flower of Judah soiled by dirt and trampled in the dust. He
rescues it, and revives it with living water, and plants it in his
garden, where it flourishes once more. The poets hailed him as the
savior and redeemer of Israel. All that the Jews needed was to make
themselves deserving of his kindness, and worthy of the citizenship they
saw in store for them. In Russian, in Hebrew, and in Yiddish, in prose
and in poetry, the one theme uppermost in the mind of all was
enlightenment, or rather Russification. From all quarters the reveille
was sounded. Abraham Bär Gottlober (1811-1899) exclaimed:
Awake, Israel, and, Judah, arise!
Shake off the dust, open wide thine eyes!
Justice sprouteth, righteousness is here,
Thy sin is forgot, thou hast naught to fear.
More impressively still Judah Löb Gordon (1831-1892) called:
Arise, my people, 'tis time for waking!
Lo, the night is o'er, the day is breaking!
Arise and see where'er thou turn'st thy face,
How changed are both our time and place.
And in Yiddish, too, an anonymous poet echoed the strain:
Arise, my people, awake from thy dreaming,
In foolishness be not immersed!
Clear is the sky, brightly the sun is beaming;
The clouds are now utterly dispersed!
Rapid growth is sometimes the cause of disease, and sudden changes the
cause of disappointment. This was true of the swift progress of Haskalah
during the reign of Alexander II. To comprehend fully the tragedies that
took place frequently at that time, the disillusionments that embittered
the lives of many of the Maskilim, the breaking up of homes and bruising
of hearts, one should read _Youthful Sins_ (_Plattot Neurim_, 1876) by
Moses Löb Lilienblum. The author lays bare a heart ulcerated and mangled
by an obsolete education, a meaningless existence, and a forlorn hope.
The hero of this little work, masterly less by reason of its artistic
finish than the earnestness that pervades it from beginning to end, is
"one of the slain of the Babylonian Talmud, whose spiritual life is
artificially maintained by a literature itself dead." His diary and
letters grant a glimpse into his innermost being; his childhood wasted
in a methodless acquisition of futile learning; his boyhood blighted by
a union with a wife chosen for him by his parents; his manhood mortified
by the realization that in a world thrilling with life and activity he
led the existence of an Egyptian mummy. Impatient to save the few years
allotted to him on earth, and undeterred by the entreaties and the
threats of his wife, he leaves for Odessa, the Mecca of the Maskilim,
and begins to prepare himself for admission into the gymnasium. "While
there is a drop of blood in my veins," he writes to his forsaken wife,
"I shall try to finish my course of studies. Though the physicians
declare that consumption and death must be the inevitable consequence of
such application, I will not desist. I will rather die like a man than
live like a dog." And on and on he plods over his Latin, his French, his
history, geography, and grammar. Two more years and the university will
be opened to him, and he will read law, and defend the honor of his
people. But in the midst of his ceaseless toil the spectre of his simple
wife and his former innocent life appears before him and "will not
down." Is Haskalah worth the sacrifices he and his like are daily
bringing on its altar? Is not the materialism of the emancipated
Maskilim often greater than the medievalism of the fanatical Hasidim? In
his native town, gloomy as it was, there was at least the glow of
sincerity. Haskalah had to be snatched by stealth, but it was sweeter
because thus snatched. In Odessa, where the fruit of the tree of
knowledge could be obtained for the asking, it turned into the apples of
Sodom. The "lishmah" ideal, the love of culture for its own sake,
yielded to the greed which changes everything into a commodity to profit
by. Yet, since life demands it, what a pity that his early training had
incapacitated him from following the beaten path! He concludes his
self-indictment thus, "I have taken an inventory of the business of my
life, and I am heartbroken, because I find that in striking the balance
there remains on the credit side only a cipher!"
But the tide of Haskalah was not to be stemmed. The "blessed heritage of
noble passion," the burning desire for enlightenment and improvement
asserted itself at all hazards. The note of despair was lost in the call
for action. Odessa continued to be in the forefront. There technical
institutes for boys and girls were established in addition to the
previously existing public schools. A society by the name of Trud
(Labor) was organized (October 11, 1864), for the purpose of teaching
useful trades. Its school has ever since been the crown of the
institutions of the sort. It was provided with the most modern
improvements, a workshop for mechanics and an iron foundry, and it
offered a post-graduate course. A similar trade school (remeslenoye
uchilishche) had been in existence since May 1, 1862, in Zhitomir,
where, besides geometry, mechanics, chemistry, physics, etc.,
instruction was given in carpentry, turning, tin, copper, and blacksmith
work. Through the efforts of Rabbi Solomon Zalkind Minor a Sabbath
School and a Night School for artisans were opened in Minsk (1861), and
a reference and circulating library for the general public (1863), and
similar educational institutions were soon called into existence in many
Those were the days of organizing and consolidating among Jews and
Gentiles alike. At the time when Abraham Lincoln was proclaiming his
famous "United we stand, divided we fall," Julius Slovacki in Poland
pleaded the cause of the peasantry of his country, and the Alliance
Israélite Universelle issued a call to the entire house of Israel "to
defend the honor of the Jewish name wherever it is attacked; to
encourage, by all means at our disposal, the pursuit of useful
handicrafts; to combat, where necessary, the ignorance and vice
engendered by oppression; to work, by the power of persuasion and by all
the moral influences at our command, for the emancipation of our
brethren who still suffer under the burden of exceptional legislation;
to hasten and solidify complete enfranchisement by the intellectual and
moral regeneration of our brethren." A powerful movement for the
upliftment of the masses was also taking hold of the educated classes
among the Russians. Professor Kostomarov started a systematic campaign
for the education of the common people. A species of philanthropic
intoxication seized upon the more enlightened Russian youth. A society
of Narodniki, or Common People, so-called, was organized. Young men and
women renounced high rank, and students came out of their seclusion and
joined the people, dressed in their garb, spoke their dialect, led their
life, and, having won their confidence, gradually opened their minds to
value the blessings of education, and their hearts to desire them. These
examples from within and without resulted in a similar attempt among the
Russian Jews. An organization was perfected (December, 1863) which
exercised a great civilizing influence for almost half a century, the
Society for the Promotion of Haskalah among the Jews of Russia.
To the credit of the Jewish financiers be it said that they were always
the banner bearers of enlightenment. It had been so with German
Aufklärung, when Ben-David, Itzig, Friedländer, and Jacobson, laid the
corner-stone of the intellectual rebirth of their people. It was more
especially so in Russia during the "sixties." Odessa was the most
enlightened, because it was the wealthiest, of Jewish communities, as
the benumbing poverty of the Pale was largely to blame for the
unfriendly attitude towards whatever did not bear the stamp of
Jewishness on its surface. The Society for the Promotion of Haskalah,
too, owes its existence to some of the most prominent Russo-Jewish
merchants. Its original officers were Joseph Yosel Günzburg, President;
his son Horace Günzburg, First Vice-president; Rabbi A. Neuman, Second
Vice-president; the Brodskys, and, the most active of them all, its
Secretary, Leon Rosenthal (1817-1887). Busy as he was with his financial
affairs, Rosenthal devoted considerable time to the propagation of
enlightenment among his coreligionists. Many a youthful Maskil was
indebted to him for material as well as moral support, and it was due to
him that Osip Rabinovich finally succeeded in publishing the Razsvyet
(Dawn, 1860), the first journal in Russian devoted to Jewish interests.
The Society for the Promotion of Enlightenment was not unlike the
Alliance Israélite Universelle, only on a smaller scale. Its object was
"to spread the knowledge of the Russian language among the Jews, to
publish and assist others in publishing, in Russian as well as in
Hebrew, useful works and journals, to aid in carrying out the purposes
of the Society, and, further, to assist the young in devoting themselves
to the pursuit of science and knowledge." For several years, owing to
the indifference of the public, it had a hard struggle to live up to its
ideal. But continuously, if slowly, it gained in membership, so that in
1884 it had an affiliation of 545. During the first twenty years of its
existence its income amounted to 338,685 rubles, its expenditures to
309,998 rubles. In 1880 it endowed an agricultural college for Jewish
boys. When, in the same year, medical schools for women were opened, and
Jewish girls in large numbers took up the study of medicine, the Society
set aside the sum of 18,900 rubles for the support of the needy among
them. Many a young man was aided in the pursuit of his chosen career by
the Society. It directed its activities principally to the younger
generation, yet it did not neglect the older. With its assistance
Sabbath Schools and Evening Schools were opened in Berdichev, Zhitomir,
Poltava, and other cities; libraries were founded; interesting Hebrew
books on scientific subjects were published. Thus it had a two-fold
object: in those who were drifting away it aimed to reawaken knowledge
or love of Judaism by translating some of the most important Jewish
books into Russian (the Haggadah, in 1871, the prayer book, Pentateuch,
and Psalms, in 1872) as well as text-books and catechisms; and it
popularized science among those who would not or could not read on such
topics in Russian or other living tongues. In both directions it was a
power for good among the Jews of Russia.
These united efforts of the Government, the Maskilim, and the Jewish
financiers produced an effect the like of which had perhaps been
witnessed only during the Hellenistic craze, in the period of the second
commonwealth of Judea. Russian Jewry began to "progress" as never
before. In almost all the large cities, particularly in Odessa, St.
Petersburg, and Moscow, the Jews were fast becoming Russified.
Heretofore cooped up, choking each other in the Pale as in a Black Hole,
they were now wild with an excessive desire for Russification. What
Maimon said of a few, could now be applied to hundreds and thousands,
they were "like starving persons suddenly treated to a delicious meal."
They flocked to the institutions of learning in numbers far exceeding
their due proportion. They were among the reporters, contributors, and
editorial writers of some of the most influential Russian journals. They
entered the professions, and distinguished themselves in art.
The ambition of the wealthy was no longer to have a son-in-law who was
well-versed in the Torah, but a graduate from a university, the
possessor of a diploma, the wearer of a uniform. The bahur lost his
lustre in the presence of the "gymnasiast." This ambition pervaded more
or less all classes of Russo-Jewish society. A decade or two before,
especially in the "forties," orthodoxy had been as uncompromising as it
was unenlightened. "To carry a handkerchief on the Sabbath," as Zunser
says, "to read a pamphlet of the 'new Haskalah,' or commit some other
transgression of the sort, was sufficient to stamp one an apikoros
(heretic)." Reb Israel Salanter, when he learned that his son had
gone to Berlin to study medicine, removed his shoes, and sat down on the
ground to observe shivah (seven days of mourning). When Mattes der
Sheinker (saloon-keeper) discovered that his boy Motke (later famous as
Mark Antokolsky) had been playing truant from the heder, and had hidden
himself in the garret to carve figures, he beat him unmercifully,
because he had broken the second commandment. This was greatly altered
in the latter part of the "seventies." Jacob Prelooker has a different
story to tell.
A remarkable change--he says--had taken place in the minds
of my parents since I had overcome all difficulties and become a
student of a royal college. Not only were they reconciled to me,
but they were distinctly proud of me. Old Rabbi Abraham now
delighted in conversation and discussion with his grandson, who
seemed to him almost like an inhabitant of another world, of the
_terra incognita_ of modern knowledge and science. In the town
inhabited chiefly by Jews the very appearance of the rabbi's
grandson in the uniform of a royal college created an immense
sensation, and I became naturally the hero of the day. The older
generation lamented that now an end would be put to the very
existence of Israel and the sacred synagogue, while the younger
people envied me and were inspired to follow my example.
Such scenes occurred not only in Pinsk, but, not infrequently, in other
towns of the Pale as well.
The striving for intellectual enlightenment manifested itself in the
refining of religious customs. Though Russian Jewry "has never
experienced any of the ritualistic struggles that Germany has
witnessed," yet reform and Haskalah always went hand in hand. The
attacks on tradition by the Maskilim of the "forties" and the early
"fifties" were mild and guarded compared with the assaults by the
generation that followed. With the appearance of the periodicals the
combat was intensified. Ha-Meliz, and, later, Ha-Shahar in Hebrew, and
Kol Mebasser in Yiddish were the organs of those who were dissatisfied
with the old, and sought to introduce the new. It was in the latter that
_Dos Polische Yingel_ (_The Polish Boy_), by Linetzky, first appeared,
and it proved so popular that the editor published it in book form long
before it was finished in the periodical. In an article on _The Ways of
the Talmud_, by Moses Löb Lilienblum, the prevailing Jewish religious
observances were vehemently attacked. This was followed by another
article from the pen of Gordon, _Wisdom for Those Who Wander in Spirit_,
with suggestions for adapting religion to the needs of the times, and a
still more powerful one, _The Chaotic World_, by Smolenskin. The muse
ceased to content herself with "flame-songs that burn their pathway" to
the heart. She preferred to appeal to the head. She no longer tried
In strains as sweet
As angels use ... to whisper peace.
In cutting criticisms and biting satires she exposed time-honored but
time-worn beliefs and practices. Gordon was a militant reformer in his
younger days, and so were Menahem Mendel Dolitzky and the lesser poets
of the period. Needless to say, the Jewish-Russian press was an enemy of
ultra-orthodoxy. Osip Rabinovich, the leading Russo-Jewish journalist,
made his debut with an article in which he denounced the superstitious
customs of his people in unmeasured terms. The motto chosen for the
Razsvyet (1860) was "Let there be light," and the platform it adopted
was to elevate the masses by teaching them to lead the life of all
nations, participate in their civilization and progress, and preserve,
increase, and improve the national heritage of Israel.
Yet journalists and poets were outdone by scholars and novelists in the
battle for reform. Lebensohn's didactic drama _Emet we-Emunah_ (_Truth
and Faith_, Vilna, 1867, 1870), in which he attempts to reconcile true
religion with the teachings of science, was mild compared with _Dos
Polische Yingel_ or Shatzkes' radical interpretations of the stories of
the rabbis in his _Ha-Mafteah_ (_The Key_, Warsaw, 1866-1869), and both
were surpassed by Raphael Kohn's clever little work _Hut ha-Meshullash_
(_The Triple Cord_, Odessa, 1874), in which many prohibited things are
ingeniously proved permissible according to the Talmud. But the most
outspoken advocate of reform was Abraham Mapu (1808-1867), author of the
first realistic novel, or novel of any kind, in Hebrew literature, the
_'Ayit Zabua'_ (_The Painted Vulture_). His Rabbi Zadok, the
miracle-worker, who exploits superstition for his own aggrandizement;
Rabbi Gaddiel, the honest but mistaken henchman of Rabbi Zadok; Ga'al,
the parvenu, who seeks to obliterate an unsavory past by fawning upon
both; the Shadkan, or marriage-broker, who pretends to be the ambassador
of Heaven, to unite men and women on earth,--in these and similar types
drawn from life and depicted vividly, Mapu held up to the execration of
the world the hypocrites who "do the deeds of Zimri and claim the reward
of Phinehas," whose outward piety is often a cloak for inner impurity,
and whose ceremonialism is their skin-deep religion. These characters
served for many years as weapons in the hands of the combatants enlisted
in the army arrayed for "the struggle between light and darkness."
The waves of the Renaissance and the Reformation sweeping over Russian
Jewry reached even the sacred precincts of the synagogues, the batte
midrashim, and the yeshibot. The Tree of Life College in Volozhin became
a foster-home of Haskalah. The rendezvous of the brightest Russo-Jewish
youths, it was the centre in which grew science and culture, and whence
they were disseminated far and wide over the Pale. Hebrew, German, and
Russian were surreptitiously studied and taught. Buckle and Spencer,
Turgenief and Tolstoi were secretly passed from hand to hand, and read
and studied with avidity. Some students advocated openly the
transformation of the yeshibah into a rabbinical seminary on the order
of the Berlin Hochschule. The new learning found an ardent supporter in
Zebi Hirsh Dainov, "the Slutsker Maggid" (1832-1877), who preached
Russification and Reformation from the pulpits of the synagogues, and
whom the Society for the Promotion of Haskalah employed as its
mouthpiece among the less advanced. In the existing reform
synagogues, in Riga, Odessa, Warsaw, and Vilna, and even in more
conservative communities, sermons began to be preached in Russian.
Solomon Zalkind Minor, who lectured in German, acquired a reputation as
a preacher in Russian since his election to the rabbinate of Minsk
(1860). He was called "the Jellinek of Russia" by the Maskilim.
Aaron Elijah Pumpyansky began to preach in Russian at Ponevezh, in Kovno
(1861). Germanization at last gave way to Russification. Even in Odessa,
where German culture predominated during the reign of Nicholas I, it was
found necessary, for the sake of the younger generation, to elect, as
associate to the German Doctor Schwabacher, Doctor Solomon Mandelkern to
preach in Russian. Similar changes were made in other communities. In
the Polish provinces the Reformation was making even greater strides.
There the Jews, whether reform, like Doctor Marcus Jastrow, or orthodox
like Rabbi Berish Meisels, identified themselves with the Poles, and
participated in their cultural and political aspirations, which were
frequently antagonistic to Russification. A society which called itself
Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion was organized in Warsaw, an organ of
extreme liberalism was founded in the weekly Israelita, and, with the
election of Isaac Kramsztyk to the rabbinate, German was replaced (1852)
by the native Polish as the language of the pulpit.
Some champions of reform did not rest satisfied with mere innovations
and improvements. They went so far as to discard Judaism altogether and
improvise religions of their own. Moses Rosensohn of Vilna was the
first, in his works _Advice and Help_ (_'Ezrah we-Tushiah_, Vilna, 1870)
and _The Peace of Brothers_ (_Shelom Ahim_, ibid.), to suggest a way to
cosmopolitanism and universalism through Judaism. In 1879, Jacob
Gordin founded in Yelisavetgrad a sort of ethical culture society called
Bibleitsy (also Dukhovnoye Bibleyskoye Bratstvo, Spiritual Bible
Brotherhood), which obtained a considerable following among the workmen
of the section. It advocated the abolition of ritual observances, even
prayer, and the hastening of the era of the brotherhood of man. It
preached, in the words of one of its leaders, that "our morality is our
religion. God, the acme of highest reason, of surest truth, and of the
most sublime justice, does not demand useless external forms and
ceremonies." Following the organization of the Bibleitsy, and based
on almost the same principles, branches of a Jewish sect, which called
itself New Israel (Novy Izrail), were started almost simultaneously in
Odessa and Kishinev. In the former city, the organization was headed by
Jacob Prelooker, in the latter, by Joseph Rabinowitz. Prelooker, who
after graduating from the seminary at Zhitomir became a school-master at
Odessa, sought to bring about a consolidation between his own people and
Russian Dissenters (Raskolniki: the Molocans, Stundists, and
Dukhobortzi). The theme of his book, _New Israel_, is a "reformed
synagogue, a mitigation of the cleavage between Jew and Christian, and
recognition of a common brotherhood in religion." Rabinowitz went still
further, and preached on actual conversion to one of the more liberal
forms of Christianity.
These sects, which sprang up in church and synagogue during the latter
part of the "seventies," were the outcome of political and social as
well as religious unrest. Alexander II fulfilled the expectation which
the first years of his reign aroused in Jewish hearts no more than
Catherine II and Alexander I. Those who had hoped for equal rights were
doomed to disappointment. Most of the reforms of the Liberator Czar
proved a failure owing to the antipathy and machinations of his
untrustworthy officials. Russia was split between two diametrically
opposed parties, the extreme radicals and the extreme reactionaries,
waging an internecine war with each other. The former originated with
the young Russians that had served in the European campaigns during the
Napoleonic invasion, and who, in imitation of the secret organizations
which had so greatly contributed to the liberation of Germany, united to
throw off the yoke of autocracy in Russia. These secret orders, the
Southern, the Northern, the United Slavonian, and the Polish, Alexander
I had endeavored in vain to suppress, and the drastic measures taken by
Nicholas I against the Dekabrists (1825) proved of no avail. Nor did the
reforms of Alexander II help to heal the breach. On the contrary, seeing
that the constitution they expected from the Liberator Czar was not
forthcoming, and the democracy they hoped for was far from being
realized, they became desperate, and determined to demand their rights
by force. The peasants, too, sobering up from the intoxication, the
figurative as well as the literal, caused by the vodka drunk in honor of
their newly-acquired volyushka (sweet liberty), discovered that the
emancipation ukase of the czar had been craftily intercepted by the
bureaucrats, and their dream of owning the land they had hitherto
cultivated as serfs would never come true. Russia was rife with
discontent, and disaffection assumed a national range. The cry was
raised for a "new freedom." A certain Anton Petrov impersonated the
czar, and gathered around him ten thousand Russians. Pamphlets entitled
_Land and Liberty_ (_Zemlya i Volya_) were spread broadcast among the
masses, the mind of the populace was inflamed, and attempts on the life
of the czar ensued.
The extreme reactionaries, consisting mostly of nobles who had become
impoverished by the emancipation of the serfs, grasped the opportunity
to point out to the bewildered czar the evil of his liberal policy.
Slavophilism was rampant. Men like Turgenief, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoi,
were condemned as "Westernists," or German sympathizers, the enemies of
Russia. At the recommendation of Princess Helena Petrovna, the czar
engaged as the teacher of his children a comparatively unknown professor
of history, Pobyedonostsev, who later became the soul of Russian
despotism. This man, meek as a dove and cunning as a serpent, easily
ingratiated himself with the czar, and soon there began "a war upon
ideas, a crusade of ignorance." "Karakazov's pistol-shot," as Turgenief
says, "drove back into the shade the phantom of liberty, the appearance
of which all Russia had hailed with acclamations. From that moment to
the end of his life, the emperor devoted himself to the undoing of all
he had accomplished. If he could have cancelled with one stroke the
glorious ukase that had proclaimed the emancipation of the serfs, he
would have been only too glad to disgrace himself."
And again, as it had been during the reign of Alexander I after his
acquaintance with Baroness Krüdener, so it was with the reign of
Alexander II after his acquaintance with Pobyedonostsev. The status of
the Jews constituted the first indication of the ill-boding change. How
little the officials had been in sympathy with the reformatory efforts
of their czar, even when the atmosphere had been filled with peace and
good-will to all including the Jews, is shown by the fact that when, in
1863, through the efforts of Doctor Schwabacher, the Jewish community of
Odessa applied for a charter to build a Home for Aged Hebrews, the
charter, though granted by the higher authorities, was withheld for over
twenty years! The reaction flaunted its power once again, and sat
enthroned in Tsarskoye Syelo. The few rights the Jews had enjoyed were
rescinded one by one. Not satisfied with this, the Slavophils tried,
under every pretext, to stop the progress of the Jewish people. Every
now and then the Society for the Promotion of Haskalah would send some
of the brighter seminary students to complete their education in Breslau
or Berlin, but at the command of the Government this was soon
discontinued. It was the intention of the same organization, from its
very incipiency, to have the Bible translated under its auspices into
Russian, but it took ten long years before this praiseworthy undertaking
could be begun, because of the obstacles the Government placed in the
way of its execution. Fortunately, the indomitable courage of the
Maskilim could not be subdued. Young men went, or were sent, to Germany
to prepare themselves for the rabbinate as before; the Bible and the
Book of Common Prayer, too, were translated secretly by Wohl, Gordon,
Steinberg, and Leon Mandelstamm, and published in Germany, whence they
were smuggled into Russia.
More direct and equally inexplicable, save on the ground of animosity to
whatever was not Slavonic, was the ukase to close the Sabbath Schools
and the Evening Schools, the only means of educating the laboring men
(1870). In 1871, the first of a series of massacres (pogromy) took place
in the centre of Jewish culture, Odessa. In 1872, permission was denied
to the ladies of that city to organize a society for the purpose of
maintaining trade schools, to teach poor Jewish girls handicrafts. The
two rabbinical seminaries, of Vilna and Zhitomir, were closed in 1873,
and replaced by institutes for teachers, which were managed in the
spirit that had prevailed under Nicholas I. And in 1878 the absurd blood
accusation, against which four popes, Innocent IV, Paul III, Gregory X,
and Clement XIV, issued their bulls, declaring it a baseless and wicked
superstition, and which not only the Polish kings Boreslav V, Casimir
III, Casimir IV, and Stephen Bathòry, but also Alexander I (March 18,
1817), branded as a diabolic invention--that dreadful accusation which
even the commission of Nicholas, despite Durnovo's efforts, had
denounced as a disgrace and an abomination, was revived by the newspaper
Grazhdanin. The ghost of medievalism began to stalk abroad once more in
erstwhile enlightened Russia and under the aegis of the Liberator Czar.
As often before in Jewish history, the Jews helped not a little to
aggravate the untoward conditions. At the instigation of a number of
students of the Yeshibah Tree of Life, the doors of that noble
institution were closed (1879), to open again after two years of
untiring efforts on the part of its self-sacrificing dean, the renowned
Naphtali Zebi Judah Berlin. But at the worst this was the result of
mistaken zeal for the cause of Haskalah. What was more detrimental was
the disgrace brought upon the Jewish name by several converts to
Christianity. A certain Jacob Brafmann, having proved a failure in all
he undertook, tried at the last the business of Christianity, and
succeeded therein. He was appointed professor of Hebrew in the seminary
of Minsk, and the Holy Synod charged him with the duty of devising means
to promulgate Christianity among the Jews. Finding the times auspicious,
he devoted himself to writing libellous articles about his former
coreligionists, and wound up with a _Book on the Kahal_ (_Kniga Kahala_,
Vilna, 1869), in which he quoted forged "transactions," to the effect
that Judaism tolerates and even recommends illegality and immorality
among its adherents. In a conference of Jews and Gentiles convoked by
Governor-General Kaufman (1871), Barit proved the falsity and forgery of
Brafmann's documents. But, as usual, the defence was forgotten, the
charges remained. A certain Lutostansky poisoned the public mind by
caricaturing the Jews, and aroused an anti-Semitic agitation among his
countrymen. The consequence was that even the liberals began to be
suspicious, and the prospect of better days was blighted by the hatred
which broke out in fiendish fury, in lightnings and thunders which
astounded the world under Alexander III.
It was but natural that the Jews that had become completely Russified
should enlist in the ranks of the extreme liberals. They found
themselves in every way as progressive and patriotic as the Christian
Russians. The language of Russia became their language, its manners and
aspirations their manners and aspirations. They contributed more than
any other nationality to Russifying Odessa, which, owing to its great
foreign population, was known as the un-Russian city of Russia.
Proportionately to their numbers, they promoted the trade and industry,
the science and literature of their country more than the Russians
themselves. Yet the coveted equality was denied them, and the
emancipation granted to the degraded muzhiks was withheld from them,
because of a religion they hardly professed. They were like Faust when
he found himself tempted but not satisfied by the pleasures of life,
when food hovered before his eager lips while he begged for nourishment
in vain. The liberals, on the other hand, preached and practiced the
doctrine of equal rights to all. Socialism, or nihilism, also appealed
to the Jews from its idealistic side, for never did the Jews cease to be
democrats and dreamers. In the schools and universities, which they were
now permitted to attend, they heard the new teachings and imbibed the
Those, therefore, who disdained conversion allied themselves with the
secret organizations. "The torrent which had been dammed up in one
channel rushed violently into another." A Hebrew monthly, Ha-Emet
(Truth, Vienna, 1877), devoted to the cause of communism, was started by
Aaron Liebermann ("Arthur Freeman"), in which, in the language of the
oldest and greatest socialists, the doctrines of Karl Marx were
inculcated among the Hebrew-reading public. The more completely
Russified element took a leading part in the activities of the Narodnaya
Volya (Rights of the People), propagating socialism among the Russian
masses, either by word of mouth or as editors and coworkers in the
"underground" publications. Not a few went to Berlin, where, though
opulent, they sought employment in factories, the better to disseminate
socialism among the working classes. Others, like Aaronson, Achselrod,
Deutsch, Horowitz, Vilenkin, and Zukerman, fled to Switzerland, whence,
under the assumed names of Marx, Lassalle, Jacoby, etc., or united in a
League for the Emancipation of Labor, they directed the socialistic
movement in Russia. Chernichevsky's _What to Do_, Gogol's _Dead
Souls_, Turgenief's _Virgin Soil_ and _Fathers and Sons_, the doctrines
of Pisarev and Bielinsky, and of the other writers who then had their
greatest vogue, were eagerly read and frequently copied by Jewish young
gymnasiasts and passed on to their Christian schoolmates. The
revolutionary spirit seized on men and women alike. Women left their
husbands, girls their devoted parents, and threw themselves into the
swirl of nihilism with a vigor and self-sacrifice almost incredible.
When a squad of police came to disperse the crowd clamoring for "land
and liberty" in front of the Kazanskaya Church in St. Petersburg, a
Jewish maiden of sixteen, taking the place of the leader, inspired her
comrades with such enthusiasm that the efforts of the police were
ineffectual. By 1878, Russia became honeycombed with secret
societies. It fell into spasms of nihilism. One general after another
was assassinated. Attempts were made to wreck the train on which the
czar was travelling (1879) and blow up the palace in which he resided
(1880). Finally, on March 13, 1881, after many hairbreadth escapes, the
carefully laid plans of the revolutionists succeeded, and the Liberator
Czar was no more.
Thus was the deep-rooted yearning for enlightenment finally let loose,
and the gyves of tradition were at last removed. The Maskilim of the
"forties" and "fifties" were antiquated in the "sixties" and
"seventies." They began to see that the fears of the orthodox and their
denunciations of Haskalah were not altogether unfounded. A young
generation had grown up who had never experienced the strife and
struggles of the fathers, and who lacked the submissive temper that had
characterized their ancestors. Faster and farther they rushed on their
headlong way to destruction, while the parents sat and wept. When, in
1872, in Vilna, the police arrested forty Jewish young men suspected of
nihilistic tendencies, Governor-General Patapov "invited" the
representatives of the community to a conference. As soon as they
arrived, Patapov turned on them in this wise, "In addition to all other
good qualities which you Jews possess, about the only thing you need is
to become nihilists, too!" Amazed and panic-stricken, the trembling Jews
denied the allegation and protested their innocence, to which the
Governor-General replied, "Your children are, at any rate; they have
become so through the bad education you have given them." "Pardon me,
General," was the answer of "Yankele Kovner" (Jacob Barit), who was one
of the representatives, "This is not quite right. As long as _we_
educated our children there were no nihilists among us; but as soon as
you took the education of our children into your hands, behold the
result." The foundations of religion were undermined. Parental authority
was disregarded. Youths and maidens were lured by the enchanting voice
of the siren of assimilation. The naïve words which Turgenief put into
the mouth of Samuel Abraham, the Lithuanian Jew, might have been,
indeed, were, spoken by many others in actual life. "Our children," he
complains, "have no longer our beliefs; they do not say our prayers, nor
have they your beliefs; no more do they say your prayers; they do not
pray at all, and they believe in nothing." The struggle between
Hasidim and Mitnaggedim ended with the conversionist policy of Nicholas
I, which united them against the Maskilim. The struggle between these
anti-Maskilim and the Maskilim had ceased in the golden days of
Alexander II. But the clouds were gathering and overspreading the camp
of Haskalah. The days in which the seekers after light united in one
common aim were gone. Russification, assimilation, universalism, and
nihilism rent asunder the ties that held them together. Judah Löb
Gordon, the same poet who, fifteen years before, had rejoiced with
exceeding joy "when Haskalah broke forth like water," now laments over
the effect thereof in the following strain:
And our children, the coming generation,
From childhood, alas, are strangers to our nation--
Ah, how my heart for them doth bleed!
Farther and faster they are ever drifting,
Who knows how far they will be shifting?
Maybe till whence they can ne'er recede!
Amidst the disaffection, discord, and dejection that mark the latter
part of the reign of Alexander II, one Maskil stands out pre-eminently
in interest and importance,--one whom assimilation did not attract nor
reformation mislead, who under all the mighty changes remained loyal to
the ideals ascribed to the Gaon and advocated by Levinsohn,--Perez ben
Mosheh Smolenskin (Mohilev, February 25, 1842-Meran, Austria, February
Smolenskin was endowed with the ability and courage that characterize
the born leader. He possessed an iron will and unflinching
determination, before which obstacles had to yield, and persecution
found itself powerless. His talent to grasp and appreciate the true and
the beautiful rendered him the oracle of the thousands who, to this day,
are proud to call themselves his disciples. To him Haskalah was not
merely acquaintance with general culture, or even its acquisition. It
was the realization of one's individuality as a Jew and a man. Gordon's
advice, to be a Jew at home and a man abroad, found little favor in his
estimation; for Haskalah meant the evolution of a Jewish man _sui
generis_. He equally abhorred the fanaticism of the benighted orthodox
and the Laodicean lukewarmness of the advanced Maskilim. To fight and,
if possible, eradicate both, he undertook the publication of The Dawn
(Ha-Shahar, Vienna, 1869), a magazine in which he declared "war against
the darkness of the Middle Ages and war against the indifference of
Not like the former days are these days, he says in his foreword
to Ha-Shahar. Thirty or twenty years ago we had to fight the
enemy within. Sanctimonious fanatics with their power of
darkness sought to persecute us, lest their folly or knavery be
exposed to the light of day.... Now that they, who hitherto have
walked in darkness, are beginning to discern the error of their
ways, lo and behold, those who have seen the light are closing
their eyes against it.... Therefore let them know beforehand
that, as I have stretched out my hand against those who, under
the cloak of holiness, endeavor to exclude enlightenment from
the house of Jacob, even so will I lift up my hand against the
other hypocrites who, under the pretext of tolerance, strive to
alienate the children of Israel from the heritage of their
That the salvation of the Jews lies in their distinctiveness, and that
renationalization will prove the only solution of the Jewish problem, is
the central thought of Smolenskin's journalistic efforts. Jews are
disliked, he maintains, not because of their religious persuasion, nor
for their reputed wealth, but because they are weak and defenceless.
What they need is strength and courage, but these they will never regain
save in a land of their own. Twelve years before the tornado of
persecution broke out in Russia he had predicted it, and even welcomed
it as a means of arousing the Jews to their duties as a people and their
place as a nation, and that his conclusion was correct, the awakening
which followed proved unmistakably.
For Smolenskin Jews never ceased to be a nation, and to him the Jew who
sought refuge in assimilation was nothing less than a traitor. He was
thus the forerunner of Pinsker, and of Herzl a decade later. Indeed, in
the resurrection of the national hope he was the first to remove the
shroud. According to him, "the eternal people" have every characteristic
that goes to make a nation. Their common country is still Palestine,
loved by them with all the fervor of patriotism; their common language
had never ceased to be Hebrew; their common religion consists in the
basic principles of Judaism, in which they all agree.
You wish--thus he addresses himself to the assimilationists--you
wish to be like the other people? So do I. Be, I pray you, be
like them. Search and find knowledge, avoid and forsake
superstition, above all be not ashamed of the rock whence you
were hewn. Yes, be like the other peoples, proud of your
literature, jealous of your self-respect, hopeful, even as all
persecuted peoples are hopeful, of the speedy arrival of the day
when we, too, shall reinhabit the land which once was, and still
is, our own.
But as the soil of Palestine, however regarded, is at present
inaccessible to Jews as a national entity, the language once spoken in
Palestine is so much the more to be cherished and cultivated by the
You ask me--he calls out again--what good a dead language can do
us? I will tell you. It confers honor on us, girds us with
strength, unites us into one. All nations seek to perpetuate
their names. All conquered peoples dream of a day when they will
regain their independence.... We have neither monuments nor a
country at present. Only one relic still remains from the ruins
of our ancient glory--the Hebrew language. Those, therefore, who
discard the Hebrew tongue betray the Hebrew nation, and are
traitors both to their race and their religion.
No less trenchant and outspoken was he against the serried array of
self-styled "reformers" of Judaism. He could not forgive the German
rabbis and Russian Maskilim for presuming to "dictate" to their
coreligionists what to select and what to reject in matters religious.
The whole movement he condemned as a mere imitation of Protestant
Christianity. To renovate Judaism! What a stigma on a religion that had
endured through the ages, and is rich in all that makes for holiness and
right living! The old garment needs no new patches. It still fits and
will fit "the eternal people" till time is no more. Since the reform
movement in Germany went back to the time of Mendelssohn, Smolenskin
hurled the missiles of his criticism against the Berlin sage, forgetting
that for more than half a century his example and encouragement had
served to awaken a love of knowledge in the hearts of his countrymen.
But he saw that in the home of Haskalah, the _Biur_, and the Meassefim,
apostasy increased, Hebrew was almost forgotten, and Judaism was
declining, and he blamed the pellucid water at the source of the stream
for the muddy pool at its mouth. Mendelssohn, however, lacked no
defenders among his Russo-Jewish coreligionists, and their sentiments
were voiced by Abraham Bär Gottlober in an opposition periodical, The
Light of Day (Ha-Boker Or, Lublin, 1876). "Why," exclaimed the editor,
"were it not for him and his reforms ... were it not for that grand and
noble personality ... neither you nor I should have been what we are!"
It was only the sad sincerity of Smolenskin that mitigated the errors he
had committed in regard to the history of his people and the theology of
But the militant editor of Ha-Shahan, who wielded his pen like a
halberd, to deal out blows to those of whose views he disapproved,
became as tender as a father when he set out to write about the people.
His love for the masses whom he knew so well was almost boundless.
Underlying their superstitions, crudities, and absurdities is the
"prophetic consciousness," of which they have never been entirely
divested. The heder is indeed far from what a school should be, and the
yeshibah is hardly to be tolerated in a civilized community; yet what
spiritual feasts, what noble endeavors, and what unselfish devotion are
witnessed within their dingy walls! Jewish observances are sometimes
cumbersome and sometimes incompatible with modern life, but what beauty
of holiness, what irresistible influences emanate and radiate from most
of them! Under an uninviting exterior and beneath the accumulated drift
of countless generations he discerned the precious jewel of
self-sacrifice for an ideal. It was this sympathy and broad-mindedness,
expressed in his _Ha-Toëh_, his _Simhat Hanef_, _Keburat Hamor_, _Gemul
Yesharim_, and _Ha-Yerushah_ that will ever endear him to the Hebrew
Such, in brief, was the life of the man who bore the chief part in
framing and moulding the Haskalah of the "eighties," which was devoted
to the development of Hebrew literature and the rejuvenation of the
Hebrew people. Loving the Hebrew tongue with a passion surpassing
everything else, he censured the German Jewish savants for writing their
learned works in the vernacular, and was on the alert to discover and
bring out new talent and win over the indifferent and estranged.
Dreaming of the redemption of his people, he paved the way for the
Zionistic movement, which spread with tremendous rapidity after his
death. And his sincerity and ability were repaid in the only coin the
poor possess--in love and admiration. Pilgrimages were made, sometimes
on foot, to behold the editor of Ha-Shahar and the author of _Ha-Toëh_.
The greatest journalists in St. Petersburg united in honoring him when
he visited the Russian capital in 1881. And when he was snatched away in
the midst of his usefulness, a victim of unremitting devotion to his
people, not only Maskilim, but Mitnaggedim and Hasidim felt that "a
prince and a mighty one had fallen in Israel!"
(Notes, pp. 322-327.)
The reign of Alexander III, like that of Nicholas I, was devoid of even
that faint glamor of liberalism which, in the days of Alexander I and
Alexander II, had aroused deceptive hopes of better times. During the
thirteen years of Alexander III's autocracy (1881-1894) not a ray of
light was permitted to penetrate into Holy Russia. On May 14, 1881, the
manifesto prohibiting the slightest infringement of the absolute power
of the czar was promulgated, to continue unbroken till the
The liberal current which had carried away his predecessors when they
first mounted the throne was checked, the sluices of Slavophilism were
opened, the history of Russian thinkers became again, as Herzen said, "a
long list of martyrs and a register of convicts."
Nicholas Ignatiev, a rabid reactionary, a second Jeffreys, became chief
of the Ministry of the Interior; Katkoff, a repentant liberal and exile,
was appointed the czar's chief adviser, the Richelieu behind the throne;
and Pobyedonostsev, whom Turgenief called the "Russian Torquemada,"
obtained supremacy over Melikoff, and was appointed procurator of the
Holy Synod. With such as these at the head of the Russian bureaucracy,
there may have been some foundations for the rumor that an imperial
ukase decreed the pillage and slaughter of the Jews, and the muzhiks,
obedient to the behests of the "little father," and smarting under the
pain of disappointment, vented their venom on their Jewish compatriots.
Before the new czar had been on his throne three months, Russia was
drenched with Jewish blood. There began saturnalia of rape, plunder, and
murder, the like of which had been witnessed nowhere in Europe. For half
a year the pogroms which began in Yelisavetgrad (April 27, 28) swept
like a tornado over southern Russia, visiting more than one hundred and
sixty communities with fire and sword, resulting in outrages on women,
in the murder of old and young, in the ruin of millions of dollars of
property. The Black Hundreds of the nineteenth century put to shame the
Haidamacks of the eighteenth and the Cossacks of the seventeenth. In the
words of the Bishop of Canterbury to Sir Moses Montefiore, it looked "as
if the enemy of mankind was let loose to destroy the souls of so many
Christians and the bodies of so many Jewish people."
But it would be a vain attempt, and out of keeping with the object of
this work, to describe in detail the "bloody assizes" and the infernal
tragedies that ensued upon the accession of Alexander III; the moral
degeneracy and the economic ruin that spread over the mighty empire; the
shudder that passed over the civilized world, and was expressed in
indignation meetings held everywhere, especially in Great Britain and in
the United States (February, 1882), to protest, "in the name of
civilization, against the spirit of medieval persecution thus revived in
Russia." Suffice it to say that even when the mob, tired of carnage,
ceased its work of extermination, the bloodthirstiness of those in
authority was not assuaged. Such a policy was inaugurated against the
Jews as would, according to Pobyedonostsev, "force one-third of them to
emigrate, another third to embrace Christianity, and the remainder to
die of starvation." With this in view, his Majesty the Emperor,
"prompted by a desire to protect the Jews against the Christians," was
graciously pleased to give his assent to the Resolutions of the
Committee of Ministers, on the third of May, 1882, i.e. to the notorious
"temporary measures," or "May laws," framed by Ignatiev, against the
will of the Council of the Empire.
These "temporary measures" have remained in force to this day. With them
was resuscitated all the inimical legislation of the past, beginning
with the time of Elizabeta Petrovna. What was favorable was suppressed;
the unfavorable was most rigorously enforced. Jews living outside the
Pale were driven back into it on the slightest pretext and in the most
inhuman manner. To increase the already unendurable congestion, the Pale
was made smaller than before. In accordance with the first clause of the
"May laws," Jews were expelled from the villages within the Pale itself.
In 1888 the districts of Rostov and Taganrog, which till then had
belonged to the Pale, and had been developed largely through Jewish
enterprise, were torn away and amalgamated with the Don district, in
which Jews were not permitted to reside. This was followed by expulsions
from St. Petersburg (1890), Moscow, (1891), Novgorod, Riga, and Yalta
(1893), and the abrogation of the time-honored privileges of the Jews of
Bokhara (1896). Even those who, as skilled artisans or discharged
soldiers, had been privileged to reside wherever they chose, were
expelled with their wives and the children born in their adopted city.
Their only salvation lay in conversion. Converts were especially
favored, and were offered liberal inducements. By becoming a convert to
the Orthodox Russian Church, a Jew is immediately freed from all the
degrading restrictions on his freedom of movement and his choice of a
profession. Converts, without distinction of sex, are helped financially
by an immediate payment of sums from thirteen to thirty rubles, and
until recently were granted freedom from taxation for five years. If a
candidate for Greek Christianity is married, his conversion procures him
a divorce, and, unless she likewise is converted, his wife may not marry
again. By conversion, a Jew may escape the consequence of any misdeed
against a fellow-Jew, for, to quote the Russian code, "in actions
concerning Jews who have embraced Christianity Jews may not be admitted
as witnesses, if any objection is raised against them as such." The
penal code provides that Jews shall pay twice and treble the amount of
the fine to which non-Jews are liable under similar circumstances. Jews
were excluded from the professions to which they had turned in the
"sixties" and "seventies," and in which they had been eminently
successful; they were not allowed to hold any civil or municipal office;
they were forbidden even to be nurses in the hospitals or to give
private instruction to children in the homes.
And still persecution did not cease. Not satisfied with starving the
bodies of five millions of Jews, Russian legislators were determined to
crush them intellectually. The Slavophils could not brook seeing
"non-Russians" surpass their own people in the higher walks of life. The
Jews, finally successful in emancipating themselves from the trammels of
rabbinism, had transferred their extraordinary devotion from the Talmud
to secular studies. They filled the schools and the universities of the
empire with zealous and intelligent pupils, who carried off most of the
honors. They contributed forty-eight pupils to the gymnasia out of every
ten thousand, while the Christians contributed only twenty-two. This was
regarded an unpardonable sin. "These Jews have the audacity to excel us
pure Russians," Pobyedonostsev is reported to have exclaimed, and
measures were taken to suppress their dangerous tendency. As early as
1875 a law was passed withholding from Jewish students the stipends they
had hitherto received from a fund set aside for that purpose. In 1882
the number of Jewish students in the Military Academy of Medicine was
limited to five per cent, and later it was reduced to zero. Thereafter
one professional school after another adopted a percentage provision,
and some excluded Jews altogether. Finally, "seeing that many Jewish
young men, eager to benefit by a higher classical, technical, or
professional education," presented themselves every year for admission
to the universities, that they passed their examination and continued
their studies at the various schools of the empire, the Government
deemed it "desirable to put a stop to a state of affairs which is so
unsatisfactory." Consequently the ministry limited the attendance of
Jews residing in places within the Pale to ten per cent in all schools
and universities (December 5, 1886; June 26, 1887), in places without
the Pale to five per cent, and in Moscow and St. Petersburg to three per
cent, of the total number of pupils in each school and university. Of
the four hundred young Jews who had successfully passed their
matriculation examination at the beginning of the scholastic year
1887-1888, and had thus acquired the right of entering the university,
three hundred and twenty-six were refused admission, and in many schools
and universities they were denied even the small per cent the law
When, nevertheless, in spite of the many restrictions, the Jew at last
obtained the coveted degree, the Government rendered it nugatory by
depriving him of the right of enjoying the fruit of his labor and
self-sacrifice. He could not practice as an army physician or jurist,
nor obtain a position as an engineer or a Government or municipal clerk.
In the army, he was not allowed to hold any office, and, though he might
be an expert chemist, he could never fill the post of a dispenser (March
1, 1888). He was excluded from the schools for the training of officers,
and if he passed the examination on the subjects taught there, his
certificate could not contain the usual statement that there "was no
objection to admitting him to the military schools."
These restrictive measures were not relaxed when Alexander III was
succeeded by his son Nicholas II (1894). If anything, they were more
rigorously executed, and the mob was encouraged to multiply its outrages
upon the defenceless Jews. The closing years of the nineteenth century
wiped out the promises of its opening years. Blood accusations followed
by riots became of frequent occurrence. Irkutsk (1896), Shpola, and Kiev
(1897), Kantakuzov (Kherson), Vladimir, and Nikolayev (1899) gave the
Jews a foretaste of what they had to expect when the Black Hundreds,
encouraged by the Government and incited by Kruzhevan and Pronin, would
be let loose to enact the scenes that took place in Kishinev and Homel
before the Russo-Japanese war, and in hundreds of towns after it. The
difficulties in the way of securing an education were increased. Russia
did not believe in an "irreducible minimum" where the rights of her Jews
were concerned. Under Nicholas II the number of Jewish women admitted to
medical schools was put at three per cent of the total number of
students; the newly-established School for Engineers in Moscow was
closed to Jewish young men altogether; and the students of both sexes in
the schools were constantly harassed by the police because of the harsh
laws concerning the rights of residence. Some splendidly equipped
institutions of learning were allowed to remain almost empty rather than
admit Jewish students.
This was the worst punishment of all, the most relentless vengeance
wreaked on a helpless victim. "Of all the laws which swept down upon
them from St. Petersburg and Moscow," says Leroy-Beaulieu with
characteristic insight into the soul of Israel, "those which they [the
Jews] find hardest to bear are the regulations that block their entrance
to the Russian universities." The bloodless weighed heavier than the
bloody pogroms. Consumed with a desire for education, wealthy Russian
Jews made an attempt to establish higher schools of their own, without
even drawing upon the surplus money of the kosher-meat fund, which had
originally been created for such purposes. Baron de Hirsch, too, offered
two million dollars for the higher and technical education of the Jews.
But every attempt proved fruitless. Baron de Hirsch's munificence was
flatly refused. In the school which Mr. Weinstein opened at Vinitza,
Podolia, no more than eight Jews were allowed to attend among eighty
Christians, and in the one at Gorlovka, founded by another Jew
(Polyakov), only five per cent were admitted.
Writers are wont to speak of this as a reactionary period. The
description applies to the Russians; among the Jews it was a period of
reawakening. They were disillusioned. They saw that Russification
without emancipation, as their unsophisticated fathers had told
Lilienthal, meant extermination. The first and worst pogroms were
perpetrated in those places where the Jews were like their Russian
neighbors in every respect, except in the eyes of the law, and with the
approval of some who were devotees of the Narodnaya Volya. The Jewish
consciousness reasserted itself. If Pobyedonostsev accomplished his
fiendish design as regards emigration, more than a million Jews having
left Russia within the last twenty years; if he has almost succeeded in
causing them to die of starvation; yet his hope of forcing a third of
them to conversion was a disappointment and a delusion. The Jews showed
that the traditional description applied to them, "stiff-necked," was
not undeserved. While the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Armenians have
undergone conversion in multitudes, they whose suffering by far exceeded
that of any other "non-Russian" nationality remained, with insignificant
exceptions, loyal to the religion of their fathers.
The Russian Jews--says Zunser--sobered down from the orgies of
assimilation, and its worshippers abandoned their idol. Those
who had almost forgotten that they were of the camp of Israel
began to return to its tents. The Jewish physicians, jurists,
technologists, and the entire so-called Jewish "intelligentia,"
who heretofore had never cared to speak a word of Yiddish to a
Jew, resumed their native tongue; they began to send their
children to the Jewish hadarim, and adopted once more Jewish
ways and customs. Several hundred Jewish university students,
proverbially irreligious, sent to Vilna for tefillin
In many cities fasts were observed and prayers for forgiveness offered,
and the prodigal sons of Israel repaired to the synagogue, participated
in the services, and wept with their more steadfast though equally
unfortunate coreligionists. Many converts, too, began to feel qualms of
conscience, and endeavored to make up for their youthful indiscretions.
Some of them fled to places of safety, and returned to Judaism. The
gifted young poet Simon Yakovlevich Nadsohn died of a broken heart.
Sorkin, the classmate and friend of Levanda, committed suicide, while
Levanda, the great novelist of assimilation, was so affected by the
massacres and their consequences, that he became melancholy, and died in
an asylum for the insane.
If this was the fate of the assimilated and estranged, one may guess the
effect of the reaction on the religious. If the students of the
universities sacrificed their careers, their daily bread, for the
austere satisfaction of discharging their moral obligation to the best
of their knowledge, the students of the Law, always loyal to the
heritage of their people, became more zealous than ever. Lilienblum who,
in 1877, believed that life without a university education was not worth
living, became a repentant sinner. Russian Jewry seethed with religious
enthusiasm. Moses Isaac Darshan, "the Khelmer Maggid," preached for six
hours at a time to crowded synagogues. Asher Israelit, less trenchant,
but equally effective, exhorted crowds to repentance. Zebi Hirsh
Masliansky, a finished orator, went from town to town, and aroused a
love for whatever was connected with the history and religion of the
Jewish people. In Kovno those who were preparing themselves for the
rabbinate formed something like a new sect, the Mussarnikes (Moralists),
which practiced asceticism and self-abnegation to an extraordinary
[Illustration: MOSES LÖB LILIENBLUM, 1843-1910]
Those, however, were most affected who had been misled by dreams of
assimilation. They suffered most, for they lost most. Their hopes were
blighted, their hearts broken. The leading-strings proved to be a
halter. They saw they had little to expect at the hands of those they
had believed to have become fully civilized, and they were embittered
toward civilization, which had showed them flowers, but had given them
no fruit. In a work, _Sinat 'Olam le-'Am 'Olam_ (_Eternal Hatred for the
Eternal People_, Warsaw, 1882), Nahum Sokolov proved, like Smolenskin
before him, that anti-Semitism was ineradicable, that the fight against
the Jews was a fight to the death, that even emancipation helps little
to remove the animosity innate in one people against another, and until
the "end of days" foretold by the prophets of yore there will never
cease the eternal hatred to the eternal people. This became the dominant
opinion. It dawned upon many that the only salvation for the Jews lay in
becoming a nation once more. A yearning for a new fatherland and a new
country seized young and old. The times were auspicious. Cosmopolitanism
was everywhere giving place to nationalism. The little Balkan States had
broken the yoke of Ottoman rule, and become self-governing nations since
1878. In Poland, Hungary, and Ireland, home rule was advocated with
fervor that threatened a revolution. Italy and Germany became united
under their own king or emperor. And the Russian Jews, tired of the
constant conflicts with the surrounding peoples, experienced the desire
which had prompted their ancestors to be like all the other nations.
Sokolov's sentiments were reinforced in an anonymous pamphlet written by
Doctor Leo Pinsker (1821-1891), one of the foremost physicians of
Odessa. His _Auto-Emancipation_ (Berlin, 1882) is now recognized as the
forerunner of Herzl's _Judenstaat_, which appeared fifteen years later.
Pinsker accepts as an axiom what Sokolov had tried to demonstrate as a
proposition. Jew-hatred, he claims, like Lombroso in his work on
anti-Semitism, is a "platonic hatred," a hereditary mental disease,
which two thousand years' duration has so aggravated as to render it
incurable. As the Jewish problem is international, it can be solved only
by nationalism. He admits some of the charges brought against the Jews
by anti-Semites, but Jewish failings result from Christian intolerance.
In a land of their own they will develop into a Muster-nation, a model
The wretches--cries he--they mock the eagle that once soared
sky-high, and saw divinity itself, because he can no longer fly
after his wings are broken! Give us but our independence, allow
us to take care of ourselves, grant us but a little strip of
land like that of the Servians and Rumanians, give us a chance
to lead a national existence, and then prate about our lacking
manly virtues. What we lack is not genius (Genialität) but
self-consciousness (Selbstgefühl) and appreciation of our value
as men (Bewusstsein der Menschenwürde), of which we were
deprived by you!
Of course, it requires many years and a great expenditure of money to
establish a nation on a firm basis. But in Pinsker's dictionary the word
"impossible" does not exist. "Far, very far," says he, "is the haven of
rest towards which our souls are turning. We know not even whether it be
East or West. But be the road never so long, it cannot seem too long to
the wanderers of two thousand years."
Pinsker's impassioned appeal made a deep impression. It was obvious that
colonization would be the shortest road to renationalization. But as to
the place in which the colonies should be established, no agreement
could be reached. Pinsker, like Herzl after him, left the problem
unsolved. Some preferred America or even Spain. In southern Russia a
society, 'Am 'Olam (The Eternal Nation), was organized on communistic
principles. It sent an advance guard to the United States, where, as the
Sons of the Free, they established several settlements, the best-known
of which was New Odessa, in Oregon. The majority, however, preferred
Palestine, the land which, in weal or woe, in pain or pleasure, remains
ever dear to the Jewish heart; the land to which the ancient exiles by
the waters of Babylon had vowed that sooner than forget her would their
right hands forget their cunning and their tongues cleave to the roofs
of their mouths; the possession whereof had been held out as the most
alluring promise, and to be deprived of which the prophets had regarded
as the severest punishment.
Zionism, even Territorialism, among the Russian Jews is by no means
solely the result of modern anti-Semitism. At the same time that
Mordecai Manuel Noah was planning his Jewish state Ararat in western New
York (1825), Gregori Peretz, who, as a child, had been converted, with
his father, to the dominant religion, and had been advanced to the rank
of an officer in his Majesty's army, was dreaming of the
renationalization of his alienated brethren. As a leading figure in the
councils of the Dekabrists, he never ceased his efforts until his
comrades accepted the restoration of Israel to his pristine place among
the nations of the earth as part of their revolutionary programme. But
with the suppression of the Dekabrists by Nicholas I the scheme died
"a-borning," and sank into oblivion. Later, David Gordon revived the
yearnings of Judah Halevi by his articles in the weekly Ha-Maggid
(1863), which he edited in Lyck, Prussia. Smolenskin's writings resound
with a love for Zion from the very beginning of his literary career. And
a rising young Hebraist, Eliezer ben Yehudah, while still a student of
medicine, wrote, in 1878, and again in 1880, stirring letters to the
editor of Ha-Shahar, in which he advocated the return to the Holy Land
and the revival of the holy tongue as a _conditio sine qua non_ for the
realization of the Jewish mission. These views, at first advocated by
the Hebrew-writing and Hebrew-reading Maskilim, gradually filtered into
the various strata of Russo-Jewish society, and when the clouds began to
gather fast in Russia's sky, and the change in the monarch's policy
augured the approach of evil times, Zionism rapidly made enthusiastic
converts even among the most Russified of the Jewish youth. On November
6, 1884, for the first time in history, a Jewish international assembly
was held at Kattowitz, near the Russian frontier, where representatives
from all classes and different countries met and decided to colonize
Palestine with Jewish farmers.
Since then Haskalah in Russia has become nationalistic and Palestinian.
Even those who were at first opposed to it gradually grew friendly, and
finally became "lovers of Zion" (Hobebe Zion). Among the Russo-Jewish
students in Vienna, Smolenskin, the militant Zionist, organized an
academic society, Kadimah, a name which, meaning Eastward and Forward,
contains the philosophy of Zionism in a nutshell. Seeing that the
Alliance Israélite Universelle encouraged emigration to America, both he
and Ben Yehudah published violent attacks on the French society, and
endeavored to thwart its plans as far as possible. The Hebrew weekly
Ha-Meliz, published in St. Petersburg, was a staunch supporter of the
movement, and a little later Ha-Zefirah, published in Warsaw, which was
at first indifferent, if not antagonistic, joined the ranks. In Russian,
too, the Razsvyet and especially the Buduchnost spread Zionism among
their readers, while books, pamphlets, and poems were published in
Yiddish for circulation among the masses. In addition to the Hobebe Zion
societies formed in many cities, secret societies were organized, such
as the famous Bene Mosheh (Sons of Moses), which had for its object the
moral and intellectual improvement of the future citizens of the Jewish
Republic; the Bilu (initials of Bet Ya'akob leku we-nelekah, "O House of
Jacob, come and let us go"), formed by Israel Belkind, who went to
Palestine with his fellow-students of the University of Kharkov, and
founded the colony of Gederah; and the Hillul (Hereb la-Adonaï
u-le-Arzenu, "A sword for God and our land"), the members of which
pledged themselves to remove any obstacle to the cause of nationalism,
even at the cost of their lives. The Bone Zion (Builders of Zion), a
sort of Masonic fraternity, was a very potent secret society, which
undertook to constitute itself a provisional Jewish Government, and
assiduously watched the Zionistic societies and their leaders in every
portion of the globe.
These dreamy youths, however, heartbroken and disgusted with a
civilization which had failed to redeem its promises, proved but poor
material for laying the foundations for a future nation. It was as with
the Darien Company organized by William Paterson when Scotland was
sorely distressed, and the Champ d'Asile, by the remnant of Napoleon's
grand army--a fine idea, but the men and the means were wanting to
execute it. The colonies in Palestine fared no better than those in
America. They were opposed by the Government from without and by many of
the orthodox Jews from within. The former, though claiming to be glad to
see the Jews emigrate, though declaring to the Jewish delegation that
pleaded for mercy, _Zapadnaya graniza dlya vas otkrita_ ("the Western
frontier is open to you"), was still, Pharaoh-like, reluctant to see so
many "undesirable citizens" leave, and prohibited the formation of
organizations to accomplish the end. The orthodox were against the
movement on religious grounds, because it was "forcing the end" of
Israel's trouble before the destined day of God arrived. But with
the "nineties" the movement received a strong impetus. Alexander
Zederbaum, the publisher of Ha-Meliz, succeeded in obtaining a charter
(February 9, 1890) for the Association for the Aid of Colonization in
Palestine and Syria. Such eminent rabbis as Mordecai Eliasberg, his son
Jonathan, Samuel Mohilever, N.Z.Y. Berlin, and Mordecai Joffe espoused
the cause, and set the example for their less prominent colleagues. When
the question arose whether Jewish agriculturists in Palestine are
obliged to observe the Biblical injunction not to till the ground in the
seventh year (shemittah), Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spector of Kovno, the
leading rabbi and Talmudist of his time, decided, in opposition to the
Jerusalem rabbinate, that the law had ceased to be effective with the
destruction of the Temple. Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris also came
to the rescue of the colonists, and, more important still, there began
an immigration of Russo-Jewish farmers into Palestine, of the class,
numbering about ninety-five thousand souls, whom Arnold White described
as "an active, well set-up, sun-burnt, muscular, agricultural people,
marked by all the characteristics of a peasantry of the highest
character." With them the colonies began to flourish, the debts were
paid off, and a better regime set in. "There was no crime or
drunkenness," says Bentwich, "in those settlements, and the only usurer
was a Russian peasant, who charged the Jewish borrowers thirty-six per
cent for loans. If ever I saw practical religion carried into daily
life, it was among those brave and sober Hebrew ploughmen."
Whatever may be one's views on Zionism, there can be no doubt that it
has proved a power for good in Russia. It introduced new ideals and
revived old expectations. It has accomplished, in a measure, the fond
hope of the Maskilim and awakened within the Russian Jew a feeling of
self-respect and a "consciousness of human worth." Different and
contending elements it has coalesced into one. It has, above all,
brought back to the fold the doubting Thomases and careless Gallios,
even the avowed scoffers, among the Jewish youth, and imbued them with
courage and pride, and given them a new shibboleth, _Meine Kunst der
Welt, mein Leben meinem Volke_ ("My art for the world, my life for my
"We have seen our youths return to us," writes Lilienblum, "and our
hearts were filled with joy. In their restoration we found balm for our
wounds, and with rapturous wonderment we asked 'who has borne us
these?'" The poets welcomed them with songs. Gordon, whose sorrow had
silenced his muse, was inspired once more and called:
Behold our sons, of whom we despaired,
Return to us, the great and the small;
God's grace is not ended, our power's unimpaired,
Again we shall live, and rise after the fall!
Frug sang in Russian:
My own Nation,
Thou art not alone; thy sons behold
Coming back in crowds as in days of old!
And Zunser represented Rachel as soliloquizing in Yiddish:
Through the windows what am I seeing,
Like turtle-doves hitherward fleeing?
Are my Joseph and Benjamin knocking at my door?
O Heavens, O mighty wonder!
Those are my children yonder!
Yes, my dearest and my truest coming home once more!
But Zionism is not exclusively either a political or a religious
movement. It is both plus something else; it is eminently educational.
It has produced novelists and poets, whose writings are full of the
virility and beauty of a rejuvenated nation. In Jaffa it established a
high school (Bet ha-Sefer), it inspired Doctor Chazanowicz to establish
a national library, and ways and means are being considered to establish
a national university in Palestine.
Even among the devotees of the arts it has given rise to a new romantic
school, young painters and sculptors who are depicting their
Their cunning hands--says Mr. Leo Mielziner--have mastered the
technique of their art, be it in Moscow or Munich, or Berlin, or
Paris, but the heart which inspires their brush or mallet
pulsates in Palestine. The wandering Jew in them pauses, not to
portray the impression of the foreign lands and stranger
customs, but to depict his own suffering, his own Heimweh, his
Struck, Ashkenasi, Maimon, Hirszenberg, Gottlieb, Epstein, Löbschütz,
and Schatz are the leaders of this new movement. The last-named,
together with Ephraim Moses Lilien of Galicia, perhaps the greatest
Jewish illustrator of our time, has founded a national school, Bezalel,
to propagate Jewish art in Palestine, on the same principles on which
the great national art schools of other countries are based. The
language of instruction is Hebrew.
Meanwhile the Society for the Promotion of Haskalah continued its work
of Russification and general civilization. After 1880 its activity was
greatly enhanced, and its members worked with renewed zeal. It opened
elementary schools, and expended large sums on stipends for students,
and the publication of useful and scholarly books. The branch in Odessa
secured two hundred and thirty-one new members in one year (1900),
making the total in that city alone nine hundred and sixty-eight. It
organized a bureau of information on pedagogic subjects, and through the
liberality of Kalonymos Wissotzky instituted prizes for original works
in Hebrew or Russian. Individual philanthropists did their utmost to
counterbalance the restrictions on education.
Trade schools were opened by the Committee for the Promotion of a
Knowledge of Trade and Agriculture among the Jews of Russia, in Minsk,
Vilna, and Vitebsk, besides fifteen manual training schools for boys and
twenty for girls, in which the indigent pupils are provided with food,
clothes, and books. In 1900 thirteen new schools were opened in Kherson
and Yekaterinoslav, to supply the educational demand of the thirty-eight
colonies existing in those Governments. In the vicinity of Minsk a
Junior Republic was organized, and in many cities art and choral
societies were formed.
The desire for self-help and the tendency towards organization, to which
Zionism gave an impetus, was rapidly reflected in every sphere of
Russo-Jewish activity. In a series of works and articles, Jacob Wolf
Mendlin, who studied under Lassalle, pointed out the importance of the
co-operative system. Accordingly, a union was organized by the Jewish
salesmen in Warsaw. In 1897 a conference of Jewish workingmen was held
in that city and Der allgemeine jüdische Arbeiterbund in Littauen,
Polen, und Russland (Federation of Jewish Labor Unions in Lithuania,
Poland, and Russia) was perfected. It published three papers as its
organs, Die Arbeiterstimme, Der jüdischer Arbeiter, and, in Switzerland,
Letzte Nachrichten. Soon workmen's associations and artisans' clubs
appeared wherever there was a sufficient number of Jewish tailors,
hatters, bookbinders, etc., for the purpose of increasing and improving
the value of their production, and to do away with middlemen and
money-lenders. They organized a tailors', dyers', and shoemakers' union
in Kharkov, and a carpenters' union in Minsk, for mutual support in the
struggle for existence, and for the construction of sanitary
workingmen's houses. The cultural desire of the handicraftsmen,
constituting twelve per cent of the Russo-Jewish population and
occasionally fifty-two per cent (Odessa), seventy-three per cent
(Kovno), and even ninety per cent (Byelostok), is phenomenal. Their
object is not only physical improvement. Their highest aim is that their
members be enabled, by means of efficient night schools and private
instruction, to acquire elementary and higher education; in the words of
the constitution of the carpenters' union of Minsk, "to protect their
material interests, raise their moral and intellectual status, and
foster efforts of self-help."
The Hebrew teachers, a class which, though more respected, underwent as
hard a struggle as the workingmen, banded themselves together in 1899 in
the Society for Aiding Hebrew Teachers of the Province of Vilna. Their
president was Michael Wolper, the inspector of the Hebrew Institute and
successor to Wohl as censor of Hebrew publications. Similar attempts
were made in Bessarabia. Rabbi Shachor, chairman of the Hebrew Teachers'
Association of Yekaterinoslav, was instrumental in opening a normal
school conducted on Chautauqua principles, and so advanced the cause of
With the establishment of the rabbinical seminaries and the ukase (May
3, 1855) that only such may officiate as rabbis as have completed a
prescribed course of study, Russian Jewry was placed in a sore
predicament. It was a very difficult task to find men who united secular
knowledge with that thorough mastery of Talmudic literature which the
Jews of Russia exact from their rabbis. Every community was compelled to
appoint two rabbis: an orthodox rabbi (dukhovny rabbin) and a "crown,"
or Government, rabbi (kazyony rabbin). The people recognized only the
authority of the former, the Government that of the latter. The
consequence was that a man with a mere high-school education would apply
for, and would often receive, the position of crown-rabbi. His duties
consisted in merely keeping a register of marriages, births, and deaths,
administering the oath, and the like. The many lawyers and physicians
who were debarred from practicing their professions sought to become
candidates for the rabbinate. To avoid the unpleasant results which
followed, Rabbi Chernovich of Odessa and Rabbi I.J. Reines of Lyda
established seminaries in Odessa and Lyda, to take the place and to
continue the teaching of the Vilna and the Volozhin yeshibot, which had
been closed, and to furnish proper rabbis for the various
The century-long struggle for enlightenment had a telling effect. What
the early Maskilim had only dreamed of finally came to be. The
metamorphosis was so great and so general as to be hardly credible. It
was shown by Mr. Landman, in a paper read before the Russo-Jewish
Historical Society of Odessa, that while among the Gentiles of that city
the reading public constituted seven per cent of the population, among
Jews it was no less than thirty-three per cent, and twenty-five per cent
of all readers were Jewish women. By 1905 there were two Yiddish and
three Hebrew dailies, besides several weekly, monthly, and quarterly
periodicals and annuals in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian, notwithstanding
the fact that a numerous class depended on the general Russian literary
output for their mental pabulum.
As the number of those who read Hebrew was still considerable, Abraham
Löb Shalkovich (Ben Avigdor) began, with the assistance of a number of
Maskilim, the publication of "penny literature" (Sifre Agorah, Warsaw,
1893). Shortly afterwards the Ahiasaf Society and, a little later, the
Tushiyah Society were founded. The object was to edit and publish "good
and useful books in the Hebrew language for the spread of knowledge and
the teaching of morality and culture among the Hebrew youth, also
scientific books in all departments of learning." Both these
associations have done admirable work. They have published many good
text-books for teaching Hebrew and Jewish history, an illustrated
periodical for children, Olam Katan (The Little World), and numerous
works of interest to the adult. Among their publications were, besides
the original writings of Peretz, Taviov, Frischman, Berdichevsky,
Chernikhovsky, and others, also translations from Bogrov, Byron, Frug,
Hugo, Nordau, Shakespeare, Spencer, Zangwill, Zola, critical biographies
of Aristotle, Copernicus, George Eliot, Heine, Lassalle, Nietzsche,
Rousseau, and a great many equally famous men of letters, which followed
each other in promiscuous but uninterrupted succession, all handsomely
printed and prettily bound, and sold at a moderate price.
One evil, however, remained, in the face of which both the Maskilim and
the financiers found themselves utterly helpless, the evil of the
exclusion of Jews from the universities. They could found elementary and
high schools for the young, night schools and Sabbath Schools for the
adult working-men, but to establish a university was an absolute
impossibility. Jewish youths were again compelled, as in the days of
Tobias Cohn and Solomon Maimon, to seek in foreign lands the education
denied them in their own. Austria, Switzerland, France, and chiefly
Germany, became once more the Meccas whither Russo-Jewish graduates
repaired to finish their studies, and where they formed a sort of Latin
Quarters of their own, and led almost a communal life. Their numbers in
the German universities grew to such proportions, and their material
condition became so wretched, that a society was organized in Berlin for
the express purpose of helping them. On the other hand, the authorities
protested (1906) against expending the funds granted each year for
German educational institutions on the education of non-Germans, and the
Akademischer Club of Berlin passed resolutions demanding a regulation
against their admission. In Leipsic alone, of the six hundred and
sixty-two foreign students who attended the university, three hundred
and forty, or over one-half, are Russian Jews (1906). Of the five
hundred and eighty-six students enrolled in the Commercial University,
three hundred and twenty-two are foreigners, among whom Russians
predominate, and of the eight hundred students who attend the Royal
Conservatory of Music, three hundred are foreigners, also mostly
Russians. Russians constitute two hundred and two of the three hundred
and forty-seven pupils in the Dresden Polytechnicum, and sixty out of
one hundred and thirty-seven in the Dresden Veterinary College, while in
the Freiberg School of Mines and in the Tharand Forestry Academy they
are in a majority, though they pay twice, and in some places three
times, the amount of tuition fee required from the native students. The
proportion is still greater in the Swiss universities of Basle, Berne,
Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich, where they sometimes constitute
three-fourths of the entire student body in the medical schools (Geneva,
And as for the progress made by the Russo-Jewish woman, it is wonderful,
indeed. It is hardly a quarter of a century since attention began to be
given to her mental development, and yet she has seldom lagged behind
her sisters in more enlightened lands, and has lately attained to a
proud height. Vilna, with her "many well-educated wives," attracted the
attention of Montefiore in the early "forties"; Tarnopol speaks in terms
of high praise of the Jewish women of Odessa in the "sixties"; they
"charm by their culture, by the ease and precision with which they speak
several European languages, by the correctness of their judgment, and
the beauty of their conversation." The memoirs of Madame Pauline
Wengeroff throw a sidelight also on the accomplishments of her sisters
in the less enlightened districts of Russian Jewry. But in the last
quarter of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth century,
their advance was prodigious. When decent Jewish women were
prohibited to reside in St. Petersburg, some of the Jewish female
students, at the risk of their reputation, secured the yellow ticket of
the prostitute rather than sacrifice their education. But the majority
went to other countries. The press has lately been interested in what
these seekers for light in foreign lands have accomplished, and reported
the successes of Fanny Berlin, who graduated from the University of
Berne as doctor of law _summa cum laude_, and of Miss Kanyevsky of
Zinkoff (Poltava), who was the first woman to take her degree as
engineer at the Ecole des Pontes et Chaussees, in Paris.
It is a curious fact--remarks a correspondent in the Pall Mall
Gazette--the majority [of lady doctors practicing in Paris] are
Russian Jewesses, just as are the greatest number of young women
medical students. At a rough calculation there are three hundred
ladies pursuing medical studies at the various schools, and
working side by side with the male students. The reason of the
invasion of the Jewess is, of course, the disabilities that
exist in Russia for those of the faith of Israel ...
disabilities that are hardly lessened in Germany. Moreover,
there exists only one university in Russia, and that is in St.
Petersburg. Some of the women who graduate in medicine do
extremely well afterwards in practice, and are greatly in vogue
in the highest society in Paris.... The lady doctor who is also
a Russian subject has likewise found a field for her energies in
China, where Russian influence is so dominant at the present
Another writer, in Harper's Bazaar, speaking of girl-students in Paris,
has this to say:
The Russian students are an interesting class in Paris. There
are some one hundred and thirty of them in all, nearly all
Hebrews, as the Russian universities admit only about four Jews
to every hundred students. Their monthly allowance from their
families is often no more than twenty dollars, and out of that
they must pay board, room-rent, and all outside expenses. These
Russian "new women" are extraordinary students. Mlle. Lepinska,
one of the first to graduate in medicine, presented a thesis six
hundred and sixty pages long to her astonished professors.
With pitying admiration the world looks on the struggle for
enlightenment of these brave sons and daughters of Judah. Their trials
and tribulations, their heart-burnings and disappointments, have
inspired poets and painters, novelists and playwrights. From Chamisso's
_Abba Glusk Leczeka_ to Korolenko's _Skazanye o Florye Rimlyaninye_,
czars have died or have been assassinated, statesmen have risen and
fallen, but the Russian Jew, like the heroes of the poem or novel, did
not wait to conquer by submitting. Thanks to his indomitable spirit he
has made unexampled progress. Within the last twenty-five years he has
not only emancipated himself, but he is now the most potent factor in
the struggle for the emancipation of his countrymen. Within these years
he has become the recognized torch-bearer of liberty and enlightenment
in darkest Russia. Uvarov justified his inhuman treatment of the Jews by
the plea that they are "orthodox and believers in the Talmud." The
latest excuse (1904) of von Plehve was that "if we admitted Jews to our
universities without restriction, they would surpass our Russian
students and dominate our intellectual life." But neither the former
prevails, nor the latter, nor their henchmen who fill the columns of the
Grazhdanin, Kievlyanin, Novoye Vremya, and the like. The words and
writings of such noble and world-famous Russians as Popoff, Demidov,
Strogonoff, Bershadsky, Shchedrin, Tolstoi, and the cream of the Russian
"intelligentia," as well as such foreigners as Mommsen, Gladstone,
Leroy-Beaulieu, and Michael Davitt, will have their salutary effect. The
consciousness of the Russian people will awaken. The attitude lately
manifested both in St. Petersburg and the provinces against the
_Kontrabandisti_, a libellous play written by an apostate Jew, Levin,
will become more and more general. Then the heroic effort and the
unexampled progress of the Russian Jews will be more fully appreciated,
and a patriotic nation will gratefully acknowledge its indebtedness to
that smallest but most energetic and self-sacrificing portion of its
heterogeneous population, the Jews, who have done so much, not only for
Jewish Russians, but for Christian Russians as well, to hasten the time
when "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
(Notes, pp. 327-330.)
ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE NOTES
AZJ = Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, Leipsic, 1837--
FKI = Fünn, Keneset Yisraël, Warsaw, 1860.
FKN = Fünn, Kiryah Ne'emanah, Vilna, 1860.
FSL = Fünn, Safah le-Ne'emanim, Vilna, 1881.
GMC = Ginzberg and Marek, Yevreyskiya Narodniya Pyesni, St. Petersburg,
HUH = Harkavy, Ha-Yehudim u-Sefat ha-Selavim, Vilna, 1867.
JE = Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 vols., New York, 1901-1906.
LBJ = Levinsohn, Bet Yehudah, Warsaw, 1901.
LTI = Levinsohn, Te'udah be-Yisraël, Warsaw, 1901.
WMG = Wengeroff, Memoiren einer Grossrautter, i., Berlin, 1908.
THE PRE-HASKALAH PERIOD
[Footnote 1: Mention might, indeed, be made of Dr. Zunz's pioneer work
in his Aelteste Nachrichten über Juden und jüdische Gelehrte in Polen,
Slavonien, Russland (Gesammelte Schriften, Berlin, 1875, iii. 82-87),
and Firkovich, who, in his Abne Zikkaron (Vilna, 1872), threw much light
on the history of the Crimean Jews. The best contributions to the
subject, however, are those of Harkavy, Russ i Russkiye v Sred. Yevr.
Lit. (Voskhod, 1881), and Malishevsky, Yevreyi v Yuzhnoy Rossii i Kieve,
v. x-xii. Vyekakh, St. Petersburg, 1878.]
[Footnote 2: LTI, p. 33, n. 2; LBJ, ii. 94, n. 2.]
[Footnote 3: See JE, s.v. Azov, and Kertch. See also Fishberg, The Jews:
A Study of Race and Environment, New York, 1911, pp. 150, 192-194.]
[Footnote 4: See Judah Halevi's Kuzari, Introduction.]
[Footnote 5: Minor, Rukovodstvo, Moscow, 1881, iv; Ha-Pardes, St.
Petersburg, 1902, p. 155.]
[Footnote 6: HUH, pp. 31-32, 69-76.]
[Footnote 7: Yevrey Minister, Voskhod, 1885, v. 105 f.]
[Footnote 8: JE, i. 112, 119, 223; viii. 652.]
[Footnote 9: The synagogue in Brest-Litovsk, which Saul Wahl built in
memory of his wife Deborah, was demolished in 1836. WMG, p. 84.]
[Footnote 10: HUH, pp. 77-134.]
[Footnote 11: JE, x. 569.]
[Footnote 12: The story of Zacharias de Guizolfi deserves to be given at
greater length. He was a prince and ruler of the Taman peninsula near
the Black Sea (1419). After he had been unsuccessful in a war against
the Turks, Czar Ivan III sent him a message sealed with the gold seal
(March 14, 1484) as follows:
"By the grace of God, the great ruler of the Russian land, the Grand
Duke Ivan Vassilyevich, czar of all the Russias, to Skariya the Hebrew.
"You have written to us through Gabriel Patrov, our guest, that you
desire to come to us. It is our wish that you do so. When you are with
us, we shall give you evidence of our favorable disposition toward you.
Should you wish to serve us, we will confer honors upon you. But should
you not wish to remain with us, and prefer to return to your country,
you shall be free to go."
For some reason or other, Zacharias never accomplished his contemplated
trip, notwithstanding the many inducements repeatedly offered by the
czar during a period of eighteen years. Perhaps it was because of the
disturbances which rendered transportation dangerous; possibly because
he preferred to serve the khan rather than the czar, for we find him, in
1500, a resident of Circassia. See JE, vi. 107-108; vi. 12.]
[Footnote 13: E.g. Barakha, the hero (1601), Ilyash Karaimovich, the
starosta (1637), and Motve Borokhovich, the colonel (1647). See JE, ii.
128; iv. 283; ix. 40.]
[Footnote 14: See Czacki, Rosprava o Zhydakh, Vilna, 1807, p. 93;
Buchholtz, Geschichte der Juden in Riga, Riga, 1899, p. 3; Mann, Sheerit
Yisraël, Vilna, 1818, ch. 30; Virga, Shebet Yehudah, Hanover, 1856, pp.
147 f., and Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, ix. 480.]
[Footnote 15: The Subbotniki, Dukhobortzi, and the other dissenting, but
non-Jewish, sects are not referred to here, though they may have
received their inspiration from Jews or through Judaism.]
[Footnote 16: Voskhod, 1881, i. 73-75; JE, vii. 487-488; ix. 570;
Bramson, K Istorii Pervonachalnaho Obrazovaniya Russkikh Yevreyev, St.
Petersburg, 1896, pp. 4-6.]
[Footnote 17: Sternberg, Die Proselyten im xvi. und xvii. Jahrhundert,
AZJ, 1863, pp. 67-68 (ibid, in L'univers Israelite, 1863, pp. 272 f.);
Mandelkern, Dibre Yeme Russyah, Warsaw, 1875, pp. 231 f.; Yevreyskaya
Enziklopedya, s.v. Zhidostvuyushchikh; Bedrzhidsky in Zhurnal
Ministerstva Narodnaho Prosvyeshchanya, St. Petersburg, 1912, pp.
106-122; Jewish Ledger, Jan., 1902, p. 3; Emden, Megillat Sefer, ed.
Cohan, p. 207, Warsaw, 1896. On Count Pototzki, see Ger Zedek, in
Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, St. Petersburg, 1892; Gershuni, Sketches of
Jewish Life and History, New York, 1873, pp. 158-224 (also
Introduction), and S.L. Gordon's ballad in Ha-Shiloah (Ger Zedek), i.
431. On Pototzki and Zaremba, see Gere Zedek (Anon.), Johannisberg,
1862. On modern Russian Gerim, see Die Welt, July 5, 1907, pp. 16-17
(Palestine), B'nai B'rith News, May 13, 1913 (United States), and
Leroy-Beaulieu, Israel among the Nations, Engl. transl., New York, 1900,
p. 110, n. 1; Yiddishes Tageblatt, July 16 and 23, 1913, Gerim in
Russland, and Vieder vegen Gerim; JE, i. 336; vii. 369-370, 489.]
[Footnote 18: HUH, pp. 3, 21 f.; Minor, op. cit., p. 4; Yevreyskiya
Nadpisi, St. Petersburg, 1884, p. 217; Sefer ha-Yashar, no. 522; Eben
ha-'Ezer, no. 118. On [Hebrew: Bn'n Hrogi] see Monatsschrift, xxii.
[Footnote 19: Catalogue de Rossi, in. 200; Ha-Maggid, 1860, pp. 299-302;
HUH, pp. 33, 40.]
[Footnote 20: Autobiography, p. 39.]
[Footnote 21: LBJ, ii. 95, n.; Ha-'Ibri, New York, viii., no. 33; Lehem
ha-Panim, Hil. Nedarim, no. 228.]
[Footnote 22: Nishmat Hayyim, Lemberg, 1858, p. 83a; Azulaï, Shem
ha-Gedolim, s.v. Horowitz; FKN, p. 74, and Ha-Maggid, in. 159. Cf.
Sheerit Yisraël, ch. 32, and Edelman, Gedulat Shaül, London, 1854.
Reifman, in Ha-Maggid, claims that to Luria belongs the honor of being
the first-known Jewish author.]
[Footnote 23: See Zikronot, ed. Cohan, pp. 62-66, 90, 313, 336, 380,
passim; Schechter, Studies in Judaism, Philadelphia, 1908, ii. 132.]
[Footnote 24: Margoliuth, Hibbure Likkutim, Venice, 1715, Introduction.]
[Footnote 25: Horowitz, Frankfurter Rabbinen, Frankfort-on-the-Main,
1883, pp. 30-35; FKN, pp. 73-91; Emden, op. cit, p. 125; and
[Footnote 26: LTI, ii. 81, n.; Hannover, Yeven Mezulah, Warsaw, 1872, p.
[Footnote 27: Zunz, Literaturgeschichte, pp. 433-435, 442; Buber, Anshe
Shem, Cracow, 1895, pp. 307-309; Benjacob, Ozar ha-Sefarim, p. 396; JE,
xi. 217; Bikkure ha-'Ittim, 1830, p. 43. Jacob of Gnesen, I suspect,
must have lived in Russia.]
[Footnote 28: Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, pp. 235, 240; Benjacob,
op. cit, p. 396.]
[Footnote 29: JE, xii. 265-266: "Enfin les incrédules les plus
déterminés n'out presque rien allégué qui ne soit dans le Rampart de la
Foi du Rabbin Isaac."]
[Footnote 30: Nusbaum, Historya Zhidóv, i. p. 180; Edelman, op. cit,
attributes the coming of Saul Wahl to this cause.]
[Footnote 31: The Elim (Amsterdam, 1629), if not, as the Karaites
maintain, actually the work of Zerah Troki, was surely the result of the
problems submitted by him to Delmedigo.]
[Footnote 32: JE, iv. 504; vii. 264; xii. 266; Ha-Eshkol, iii. and iv.
(R.M. Jarre); LTI, ii. 80; Benjacob, op. cit, no. 1428.]
[Footnote 33: Zunz, Ritus, Berlin, 1859, p. 73, and Gottesdienstliche
Vorträge, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1892, p. 452, n.a.; Wessely, Dibre
Shalom we-Emet, ii. 7; Benjacob, op. cit., no. 1187.]
[Footnote 34: Voskhod, 1893, i. 79; New Era Illustrated Magazine, v.;
FNI, p. 28 f.; JE, i. 113; ii. 22, 622; xii. 265.]
[Footnote 35: JE, vii. 454.]
[Footnote 36: JE, i. 372; iv. 140; Ha-Yekeb, 1894, p. 68.]
[Footnote 37: Bersohn, Tobiasz Cohn, Warsaw, 1872.]
[Footnote 38: Cf. FKN, pp. 38-42 (Vilna constitution); Hannover, op.
cit., p. 23a; Ha-Modia' la-Hadashim, II. i. II, and JE, s.v. Council,
Kahal, Lithuania, etc.]
[Footnote 39: See GMC, pp. 59 f., and compare with this Lermontoff's
Cossack Cradle-Song, which may be taken as a type:
Sleep, my child, my little darling, sleep, I sing to thee;
Silently the soft white moonbeams fall on thee and me.
I will tell thee fairy stories in my lullaby;
Sleep, my child, my pretty darling, sleep, I sing to thee.
Lo, I see the day approaching when the warriors meet;
Then wilt thou grasp thy rifle and mount thy charger fleet.
I will broider in thy saddle colors fair to see,
Sleep, my child, my little darling, sleep, I sing to thee.
Then my Cossack boy, my hero brave and proud and gay,
Waves one farewell to his mother and rides far away.
Oh, what sorrow, pain and anguish then my soul shall fill,
As I pray by day and night that God will keep thee still!
Thou shalt take a saint's pure image to the battlefield,
Look upon it when thou prayest, may it be thy shield.
And when battles fierce are raging, give one thought to me;
Sleep, my darling, calmly, sweetly, sleep, I sing to thee.
See Güdemann, Quellen zur Geschichte des Unterrichts, Berlin, 1891, pp.
285-286; Ha-Boker Or, i. 315 (on Dubno); Ha-Meliz, 1894, no. 254 (on
Mohilev); Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vorträge, pp. 122g and 470a; cf.
Weiss, Zikronotaï, Warsaw, 1895, pp. 53-83.]
[Footnote 40: Cf. Güdemann, Geschichte des Erziehungswesens, iii. 94,
n., and see Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, Introduction, and Meassef, St.
Petersburg, 1902, p. 205, n.]
DAYS OF TRANSITION
[Footnote 1: JE, s.v. Bratzlav.]
[Footnote 2: In the diary of a Polish squire we find the following item:
"Jan. 5. As the lessee Herszka had not yet paid me the rental of 91
gulden, I went to his house to get my debt. According to the contract, I
can arrest him and his wife for as long as I wish, until he settles the
bill, and so I ordered him locked up in the pig-sty and left his wife
and his sons in the inn. The youngest son, however, I took with me to
the palace to be instructed in the rudiments of our religion. The boy is
unusually bright and shall be baptized. I already wrote to our priest
concerning it, and he promised to come to prepare him. Leisza at first
stubbornly refused to make the sign of the cross and repeat our prayers,
but Strelicki administered a sound whipping, and to-day he even ate ham.
Our venerable priest Bonapari ... is inventing all manner of means to
break his stiff-neckedness." Meassef, St. Petersburg, 1902, pp.
[Footnote 3: See Wolkonsky, Pictures of Russian History and Literature,
Boston, 1897, p. 136.]
[Footnote 4: Orshansky, in Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, ii. 207.]
[Footnote 5: Meassef, St. Petersburg, 1902, p. 195; Beck and Brann,
Yevreyskaya Istoriya, p. 326; JE, iv. 155; xi. 113.]
[Footnote 6: Meassef, p. 200. On Russia at the time of Peter the Great,
see Macaulay, History of England, ch. xxiii., where he describes the
"savage ignorance and the squalid poverty of the barbarous country." In
that country "there was neither literature nor science, neither school
nor college. It was not till more than a hundred years after the
invention of printing that a single printing-press had been introduced
into the Russian empire, and that printing-press speedily perished in a
fire, which was supposed to have been kindled by priests." When Pyoter
Vyeliki (Peter the Great), while in London, saw the archiepiscopal
library, he declared that "he had never imagined that there were so many
printed volumes in the world." See also Carlyle, History of Frederick
the Great, iv. 7.]
[Footnote 7: FKN, pp. 126-132; Voskhod, 1893; on the Hasidim and
Mitnaggedim see below.]
[Footnote 8: Ma'aseh Tobiah, p. 18; Meassef, pp. 206-209; Geiger (Melo
Hofnayim, Berlin, 1840, pp. 1-29) published Delmedigo's corroboration of
[Footnote 9: Rapoport, Etan ha-'Ezrahi, Ostrog, 1776, Introduction.]
[Footnote 10: Cf. Zederbaum, Keter Kehunnah, pp. 72-74, 84, 121, etc.,
and Ha-Shiloah, xxi. 165; Schechter, Studies in Judaism, i.,
Philadelphia, 1896, i. 17 f., and Greenstone, The Messiah Idea in Jewish
History, pp. 237 f. According to some, Judah he-Hasid and his followers
went to Palestine in the expectation, not of the Messiah, but of
Shabbataï Zebi, who was believed to have been in hiding for forty years,
in imitation of the retirement of Moses in Midian for a similar period
of years. "The ruins of Rabbi Judah he-Hasid's synagogue" and Yeshibah
in Jerusalem still keep the memory of the event fresh in the minds of
[Footnote 11: Among the many wonderful episodes in the life of the
master, his biographer mentions also that he could swallow down the
largest gobletful in a single gulp (Shibhe ha-Besht, Berdichev, 1815,
pp. 7-8). The best, though not an impartial work on Hasidism is
Zweifel's Shalom 'al Yisraël, 4 vols., Zhitomir, 1868-1872.]
[Footnote 12: Ha-Boker Or, iv. 103-105: [Hebrew: H'fkormot Mn Nshmot
[Footnote 13: Cf. Emden, op. cit., p. 185, and Shimush, Amsterdam, 1785,
pp. 78-80, with Pardes, ii. 204-214.]
[Footnote 14: See Schechter, op. cit., pp. 73-93; Silber, Elijah Gaon,
1906; Levin, 'Aliyat Eliyahu, Vilna, 1856, and FKN, pp. 133-155.]
[Footnote 15: Levin, op. cit., pp. 28-30.]
[Footnote 16: See Ha-Bikkurim, i. 1-26; ii. 1-20; Ha-Zeman (monthly),
1903, ii. 6; Plungian, Ben Porat, Vilna, 1858, p. 33; Keneset Yisraël,
iii. 152 seq.]
[Footnote 17: Sirkes (Bayit Hadash, Cracow, 1631, p. 40) decides that
Jews may employ in their synagogue melodies used in the church, since
"music is neither Jewish nor Christian, but is governed by universal
laws." See also Hayyim ben Bezalel's Wikkuah Mayim Hayyim, Introduction,
[Footnote 18: See J.S. Raisin, Sect, Creed and Custom in Judaism,
Philadelphia, 1907, p. 9, and ch. viii.; Ha-Meliz, x. 186, 192-194.]
[Footnote 19: See Ha-Zeman (monthly), 1903, ii. 7.; Shklov, Euclidus,
Introduction; Keneset Yisraël, 1887, and Hagra on Orah Hayyim, Shklov,
[Footnote 20: See Graetz, op. cit, xi. 590, 604, 606. The Gaon, who as a
rule was very mild, lost patience with the Hasidim and wielded the
weapons of the kuni (or stocks and exposures) and excommunication
without mercy. The Hasidim were also accused of being not only religious
dissenters but revolutionaries. Zeitlin, quoted in Yiddishes Tageblatt,
from the Moment, March, 1913.]
[Footnote 21: See Karpeles, Time of Mendelssohn, p. 297; Kayserling,
Mendelssohn, p. 12; Ha-Meliz, 1900, nos. 194-196.]
[Footnote 22: Epstein, Geburat ha-Ari, Vilna, 1870, p. 29; Rabinovich,
Zunz, Warsaw, 1896; Wessely, op. cit., ii.; Linda, Reshit Limmudim,
Berlin, 1789, and Ha-Zeman (monthly), ii. 28.]
[Footnote 23: Delitzsch, Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Poesie, Leipsic,
1836, p. 118; Bernfeld, Dor Tahapukot, Warsaw, 1897, pp. 88 f. Dubno
also edited Luzzatto's La-Yesharim Tehillah, which, according to
Slouschz, marks the beginning of the renaissance in Hebrew
[Footnote 24: Published in Berlin in 1793. It was translated into
English by Murray (Solomon Maimon, Boston, 1888) and into Hebrew by
Taviov (Warsaw, 1899).]
[Footnote 25: Bernfeld, op. cit., ii. 66 f. JE, s.v. Maimon; and
Autobiography (Engl. transl.), p. 217. For Maimon's system of philosophy
and also for a complete bibliography of his writings, see Kunz, Die
Philosophic Salomon Maimons, Heidelberg, 1912, pp. xxv, 531.]
[Footnote 26: Wolff, Maimoniana, Berlin, 1813, p. 177.]
[Footnote 27: How touching and suggestive is the word [Hebrew: Shbi]] in
an acrostic at the end of his Introduction to his Gibe'at ha-Moreh, a
commentary on the Moreh Nebukim:
'hobi ykr kor'
'bi vshm shmi hd'
Shbi bmlt bhtboknn]
[Footnote 28: See Murray's Introduction to the Autobiography; Auerbach,
Dichter und Kaufmann; Zangwill, Nathan the Wise and Solomon the Fool.]
[Footnote 29: FKI, p. 196.]
[Footnote 30: Maggid, Toledot Mishpehot Ginzberg, pp. 52-53; Emden,
Sheëlat Ya'abez, Altona, 1739, p. 65 a.]
[Footnote 31: FKN, pp. 109-114, 269; FKI, p. 300.]
[Footnote 32: FKI, p. 394; Delitzsch, op. cit, p. 84.]
[Footnote 33: L'univers Israélite, liii. 831-841: "C'est, vous le voyez,
un juif polonais qui contribua puissamment à l'émancipation des juifs de
France. Et je me demande si le Judaisme du monde entier ne doit pas
rendre hommage à notre coreligionnaire polonais autant peut-être qu' à
Menasse ben Israël." FKI, p. 333; Ha-Meliz, ii. no. 50; Shulammit, iii.
425; Graetz, op. cit. (Engl. transl.), v. 443.]
[Footnote 34: See Berliner, Festschrift, 1903, pp. 1-4.]
[Footnote 35: See Ha-Meliz, viii. nos. 11, 22, 23; FSL, p. 139;
Monatsschrift, xxiv, 348-357.]
[Footnote 36: Delitzsch, op. cit., pp. 115-118; Ha-Zeman (monthly), ii.
[Footnote 37: See Meassef, 1788, p. 32, and Levin's ed. of Moreh
Nebukim, Zolkiev, 1829, Introduction.]
[Footnote 38: Ha-Meassef, 1809, pp. 68-75, 136-171.]
[Footnote 39: See Sefer ha-Berit, Introduction, and Weissberg,
Aufklärungsliteratur, Vienna, 1898, p. 83.]
[Footnote 40: FKI, p. 428.]
[Footnote 41: See Emden, Torat ha-Kenaot, pp. 123-127, and Hitabkut
(Pinczov's letters); Voskhod, 1882, nos. viii-ix; FSL, pp. 136-137;
Friedrichsfeld, Zeker Zaddik, p. 12.]
[Footnote 42: Maimon, Autobiography, pp. 106-107; FSL, p. 135.]
[Footnote 43: See LTI, ii. 96, n. 1, and Yellin and Abrahams,
Maimonides, p. 160, and reference on p. 330, n. 72; Ha-Zeman (monthly),
i. 102-103; Margolioth, Bet Middot, p. 20. Heine's admiration for these
idealists or those who succeeded them is well worth quoting. In his
essay on Poland, he says: "In spite of the barbaric fur cap which covers
his head and the even more barbaric ideas which fill it, I value the
Polish Jew much more than many a German Jew with his Bolivar on his head
and his Jean Paul inside of it.... The Polish Jew in his unclean furred
coat, with his populous beard and his smell of garlic and his Jewish
jargon, is nevertheless dearer to me than many a Westerner in all the
glory of his stocks and bonds."]
[Footnote 44: Op. cit. Letter ii.]
[Footnote 45: Likkute Kadmoniot, Vilna, 1860, Introduction.]
THE DAWN OF HASKALAH
[Footnote 1: See Orshansky, in Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, ii. 240;
Drabkin, in Monatsschrift, xix-xx.]
[Footnote 2: FKN, pp. 27, 303.]
[Footnote 3: JE, iv. 301; Plungian, op. cit, p. 59.]
[Footnote 4: FKN, p. 193.]
[Footnote 5: JE, iv. 407.]
[Footnote 6: FKN, p. 193; Jellinek, Kuntres ha-Rambam, pp. 39f.]
[Footnote 7: Occident, v. 360.]
[Footnote 8: Jost, Culturgeschichte, Berlin, 1847, p. 302.]
[Footnote 9: Steinschneider, 'Ir Vilna, 1900, p. 146.]
[Footnote 10: Voskhod, 1881, ii. 29-30; 1900, p. 55.]
[Footnote 11: FKN, pp. 277-279.]
[Footnote 12: See Rabinovitz, Ma'amar 'al ha-Defosat ha-Talmud, Munich,
1876, p. 112. Cf. Zweifel, op. cit., iv. 7.]
[Footnote 13: FKN, pp. 277-279.]
[Footnote 14: Toledot Adam, pp. 14 b, 16 b, 24 b, 75 b, 84 a.]
[Footnote 15: See Plungian, op cit., pp. 46-47, 91; Voskhod, 1900, ix.
77; Ha-Zeman (monthly), 1903, iii. 22-30; see also Die Zukunft, New
York, July, 1913, pp. 713 f.]
[Footnote 16: Voskhod, Dec., 1890, pp. 142 f.; Ha-Boker Or, Jan., 1881.]
[Footnote 17: Voskhod, 1888, iii. 37 f; Rodkinson, Toledot 'Ammude
[Footnote 18: Cohan, Rabbi Yisraël Ba'al Shem Tob, 1900, p. 67.]
[Footnote 19: 'Ammude Bet Yehudah, xxvii., and see Ha-Zeman (monthly),
[Footnote 20: Buchholtz, op. cit., Beilage 14, pp. 137-138.]
[Footnote 21: See Weissberg, op. cit., p. 53; Talmud Leshon Russiah,
Vilna, 1825; Moda' li-Bene Binah, ibid., 1826; cf. Baër Heteb,
[Footnote 22: Helel ben Shahar, Warsaw, 1804, Introduction, and p. 81.
See Peri ha-Arez Yashan, Letter 2, quoted by Dubnow, Pardes, ii.
[Footnote 23: Keneset Yisraël, i. 138; Morgulis, Voprosi Yevreyskoy
Zhizni, pp. 7-10.]
[Footnote 24: Enziklopedichesky Slovar, St. Petersburg, 1895, xvii.
[Footnote 25: Ha-Shahar, x. 44-52; FKN, p. 33; Ha-Boker Or, i. 145-146.]
[Footnote 26: FSL, p. 164.]
[Footnote 27: See Günzburg, Ha-Debir, Warsaw, 1883, ii. 55;
Israelitische Annalen, 1840, p. 263.]
[Footnote 28: Ha-Zeman (monthly), iii. 10.]
[Footnote 29: Minor, op. cit, p. 46; Lerner, Yevreyi v Novorossiskom
Kraye, Odessa, 1901, p. 234; Monatsschrift, xviii. 234 f., 477 f., 551
[Footnote 30: Voskhod, 1881, i-iii; Ha-Zeman (monthly), iii. 11-14.]
[Footnote 31: Op. cit, pp. 208-209.]
[Footnote 32: Cf. Graetz, xi. 50; Kayserling, op. cit, p. 288; Fünn,
Sofre Yisraël, Vilna, 1891, pp. 138-143; WMG, p. 135.]
[Footnote 33: Graetz, xi. 590, 604, 606; Annalen, xx. 467; Kayserling,
op. cit., p. 307; Landshut, Toledot Anshe Shem, p. 85.]
[Footnote 34: [Hebrew: Yd Tshlhu 'l Rm''d Bsfri]. Weiss, Zikronotaï, p.
58, n.; Ha-Zeman (monthly), i. and iii. 18-19.]
[Footnote 35: Zweifel, op. cit., pp. 35-40, and Ha-Hasidut we-ha-Musar
in Ha-Meliz, 1897; Toledot Mishpehot Shneersohn, in Ha-Asif, v. 35-40,
and Nefesh Hayyim, iii. 3.]
[Footnote 36: Mandelkern, Dibre Yeme Russyah, iii. 98; American
Israelite, nos. 15, 18, etc. (My Travels in Russia); Gordon, Ha-Azamot
ha-Yebashot, Odessa, 1899; AZJ, 1854, p. 22; Zunser, Biography, New
York, 1905, pp. 15-19 (Engl. transl., pp. 14-18); Shenot Ra'inu Ra'ah,
in Ha-Meliz, 1860; Sefer ha-Shanah, iii. 82-101, and GMC, nos. 43-50.
One of these songs runs as follows:
On the streets in tears we're wading,
In our bairns' blood we might be bathing;
What a misfortune, ah, wellaway--
Will never dawn the better day?
Little infants from heder are torn,
And forced to wear the soldier's uniform;
What a misfortune, etc.
Our leaders, rabbis, and honored elders,
E'en help to impress them for the czar's soldiers;
What a misfortune, etc.
Seven sons has Zushe Rakover,
Yet not a one for the army is over;
What a misfortune, etc.
Leah, the widow, has an only son,
And for the kahal's sins he's gone;
What a misfortune, etc.]
[Footnote 37: GMC, no. 42. On similar enthusiasm among the Galician
Maskilim, see Erter, Kol Kore, in Ha-Zofeh le-Bet Yisrael, Warsaw, 1890,
[Footnote 38: Elk, Die jüdischen Kolonien in Russland,
Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1886, pp. 28-53, 60-80, 119-140, 153-160,
205-208; Jastrow, Beleuchtungen, etc., Hamburg, 1859, pp. 109-113.]
[Footnote 39: See Zunz, Gesammelte Schriften, Berlin, 1875, pp, 279-290;
Jost, Freimüthige Beleuchtung, Berlin, 1830; and Culturgeschichte, pp.
[Footnote 40: Rabinovitz, op. cit., pp. 11-18.]
[Footnote 41: On Volozhin, see Ha-Kerem, 1887, pp. 67-77; Bikkurim,
1865, pp. 6-45; Ozar ha-Sifrut, iii.; Ha-Asif, iii.; Ha-Meliz, 1900,
nos. 16-18; Schechter, op. cit., i. 93-98; Horowitz, Derek 'Ez
ha-Hayyim, Cracow, 1895. The yeshibah was reopened under the deanship of
Rabbi Raphael Shapira of Bobruisk, and still exists, though in a rather
[Footnote 42: Read the vivid description in WMG, p. 147.]
[Footnote 43: Occident, ii. 563-564.]
[Footnote 44: Uvarov's opinion of the Talmud was "razvrashchal i
raz-vrashchayet" ("it has been degrading and is degrading"). Nicholas
granted special privileges to the Karaites, and claimed they were the
genuine Israelites, chiefly because they did not follow the precepts of
[Footnote 45: Occident, ii. 562-563.]
[Footnote 46: See Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore,
London, 1890, i. 100, 231, 311-312, passim; Günzburg, Debir, ii. 99-108;
(Dick), Ha-Oreah, Königsberg, 1860.]
[Footnote 47: Günzburg, op. cit., pp. 115-117, 122-125; Leket Amarim
(suppl. to Ha-Meliz), St. Petersburg, 1887, pp. 81-86; AZJ, ix. nos.
46-50; x. nos. 5, 49, etc.; Jastrow, op. cit., p. 12, Lubliner, De la
condition politique .... dans le royaume de Pologne, Brussels, 1860
(especially pp. 44-45).]
[Footnote 48: GMC, no. 255.]
CONFLICTS AND CONQUESTS
[Footnote 1: Diakov states that "when the population degenerated in West
Russia, business and industry declined, and the number of the rich
greatly diminished, while the nobles, embittered against the Government,
did absolutely nothing for their country, the Jews formed an
exception.... There is no doubt that they are doing their utmost for the
regeneration of our land, despite the restrictions heaped upon them
without any cause" (Elk, op. cit., p. 41 seq.). Surovyetsky likewise
maintains that "after the devastation of Poland because of the numerous
wars, the ruining of so many cities, and the almost total extermination
of their inhabitants ... the Jews alone effected the regeneration of our
trade. They alone upheld our tottering industries .... We may safely
affirm that without them, without their characteristic mobility, we
should never have recovered our commerce and wealth" (Jastrow, op. cit.,
[Footnote 2: See AZJ, April 29, 1844, and Orient, 1844, P-224, in which
the correspondent adds: "It is a touching sight to see these laborers
(as longshoremen), for the most part aged, perform their fatiguing
duties in the streets during the hottest seasons, endeavoring to lighten
their heavy burdens by the repetition of Biblical and Talmudic
[Footnote 3: Ozar ha-Sifrut, 1877; Annalen, 1839, pp. 345-346, and 1841,
no. 31. Bikkure ha-'Ittim, 1821, pp. 168-172; FSL, p. 150; Paperna,
Ha-Derammah (Eichenbaum's letter); Ha-Boker Or, 1879, pp. 691-698;
Occident, v. 255; Pirhe Zafon, ii. 216-217; Ha-Maggid, 1863, p. 348;
Orient, 1841, p. 266; Lapin, Keset ha-Sofer, Berlin, 1857, p. 8, and
Morgulis, op. cit., p. 48.]
[Footnote 4: Jost, Culturgeschichte, pp. 308-309; Morgulis, op. cit., p.
27; Atlas, Mah Lefanim u-mah Leaher, Warsaw, 1898, pp. 44 f.]
[Footnote 5: Sbornik of the Minister of Education, iii. 140; Ha-Shahar,
[Footnote 6: See An die Verehrer, Freunde und Schüler, etc., Leipsic,
1823, pp. 122-125.]
[Footnote 7: Ueber die Verbesserung der Israeliten im Königreich Polen,
[Footnote 8: Zunz, Gesammelte Schriften, pp. 296-297; Jost, op. cit, p.
304; Jastrow, op. cit, pp. 41 f.; and Zederbaum, Kohelet, St.
Petersburg, 1881, p. 6.]
[Footnote 9: Occident, v. 493.]
[Footnote 10: Maggid Yeshu'ah, Vilna, September, 1842. It is reproduced,
together with many Haskalah reminiscences, by Gottlober in Ha-Boker Or,
iv. (Ha-Gizrah we-ha-Binyah). According to Gottlober the Hebrew is
Fünn's translation from the original German. Yet Hebrew letters (Leket
Amarim, St. Petersburg, 1888) were published in Lilienthal's name.]
[Footnote 11: See AZJ, 1842, no. 41; Mandelstamm, Hazon la-Moëd, Vienna,
1877, pp. 19, 21, 25-27; Leket Amarim, pp. 86-89; Kohelet, p. 12;
Morgulis, op. cit, p. 55; Ha-Pardes, pp. 186-199; Nathanson, Sefer
ha-Zikronot, Warsaw, 1878, p. 70; Lilienthal, in American Israelite,
1854 (My Travels in Russia), and Jüdisches Volksblatt, 1856 (Meine
Reisen in Russland), and Der Zeitgeist, 1882, p. 149.]
[Footnote 12: Occident, v. 252, 296.]
[Footnote 13: WMG, pp. 185-200; AZJ, 1844, pp. 75, 247; 1845, pp.
304-305; 1846, p. 18; American Israelite, i. 156.]
[Footnote 14: Rede, etc., Riga, 1840, p. 5.]
[Footnote 15: Ha-Pardes, i. 202-203. See Bramson, op. cit., pp. 26-27;
WMG, p. 118.]
[Footnote 16: Ha-Kokabim, 1868, pp. 61-78; Ha-Kerem, 1887, pp. 41-62;
Zweifel, op. cit, pp. 55-56.]
[Footnote 17: Ha-Mizpah, 1882, p. 17; Kohelet, p. 16; Sbornik of the
Minister of Education, 1840, pp. 340, 436-437, and Supplement, pp.
35-38; Prelooker, Under the Czar and Queen Victoria, London, pp. 4-5;
cf. AZJ, 1846, p. 86.]
[Footnote 18: Elk, op. cit, ch. iii.]
[Footnote 19: Occident, v. 493; Nathanson, Sefat Emet, p. 92;
Mandelstamm, op. cit., pp. 31-32, and Morgulis, op. cit, pp. 102-147.
On tax collectors, cf. the English ballad quoted by Macaulay (History of
England, ch. iii.):
Like plundering soldiers they'd enter the door,
And made a distress on the goods of the poor,
While frightened poor children distractedly cried;
This nothing abated their insolent pride.
And the Yiddish folk song (GMC, no. 55):
The excise young fellows,
They are tremendously wild:
They shave their beards,
And ride on horses,
And eat with unwashed hands.
Their lack of confidence in the permanence of the schools is expressed
in the following song (GMC, no. 53):
May we soon be released from the Jewish Goless,
When we shall be expelled from the Gentile Scholess (schools).
On the struggle to retain the so-called Jewish mode of dress, see I.M.
D(ick), Die Yiddishe Kleider Umwechslung, Vilna, 1844.]
[Footnote 20: Op. cit., pp. 12-13; cf. Letteris, in Moreh Nebuke
ha-Zeman, Introduction, pp. xv-xvi; Bramson, op. cit., pp. 34-35, 43-44,
and Levanda, Ocherki Proshlaho, St. Petersburg, 1876.]
[Footnote 21: Cf. Buckle, History of Civilization, New York, 1880, ii.
[Footnote 22: "Fifty years ago," says Mr. Rubinow (Bulletin of the
Bureau of Labor, no. 72, Washington, Sept., 1907, p. 578), "the
educational standard of the [Russian] Jews was higher than that of the
Russian people at large is at present."]
[Footnote 23: Mandelkern, op. cit., iii. 33.]
[Footnote 24: Buckle, op. cit., pp. 140-142, notes 33-37.]
[Footnote 25: The same phenomenon was witnessed to a certain extent also
in Galicia, where for a while Haskalah flourished in great splendor.
There, too, the charm and fecundity of German literature, the similarity
of Yiddish to German, and the privileges the Austrian Government
accorded them, proved too strong a temptation for the Jews, and many of
those who became enlightened were rapidly assimilated with their Gentile
countrymen. While, therefore, in Galicia the Haskalah movement lasted
longer than in Germany, it had ceased long before it reached its fullest
development in Russia. Austrian civilization accelerated the
assimilation of the educated, Polish prejudice retarded the progress of
the masses. So that though Erter, Letteris, Krochmal, Goldenberg,
Mieses, Rapoport, Perl, and Schorr exerted a great influence in Russia,
their own country remained unaffected. Many of them, like A. Peretz,
Eichenbaum, Feder, Pinsker, Werbel, and Rosenfeld emigrated to Russia,
where they found a wider field for their activities, while others, like
Professor Ludwig Gumplowicz, the sociologist, Marmorek, the physician,
and Scheps, the litterateur, became alienated from their former
[Footnote 26: Keneset Yisraël, iii. 84; Gottlober, Za'ar Ba'ale Hayyim,
Zhitomir, 1868: [Hebrew: T'rng Nfshi 'lid Ki] (comp. Ps. xlii, and Shir
ha-Kabod, last verse).]
[Footnote 27: Occident, v. 243. Cf. Buchholtz, op. cit., pp. 82-116.]
[Footnote 28: Occident, v. 255; Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, ii. 207-210.]
[Footnote 29: 1840, no. 9.]
[Footnote 30: Emden, Megillat Sefer, p. 5; Günzburg, Debir, ii. 105-106;
Mandelstamm, op. cit, i. 3-4, 11; Annalen, 1841, no. 31.]
[Footnote 31: FKN, pp. 246-247; Günzburg, op. cit., i. 48. Moses Reines
also points out the fact that the prominent rabbis did not withhold
their approval of the most typical Haskalah works when their authors
were not suspected of heresy, as shown by Abele's haskamah on
Levinsohn's Te'udah be-Yisraël, Tiktin's on Günzburg's Toledot ha-Arez,
and Malbim's on Zweifel's Sanegor (Ozar ha-Sifrut, 1888, p. 61).]
[Footnote 32: Ha-Boker Or, 1879, no. 4; FKI, pp. 537-538, 1132;
Ha-Lebanon, 1872, no. 35; Ha-Zefirah, 1879, no. 9; Jewish Chronicle, May
4, 1877; Keneset Yisraël, 1887, pp. 157-162; Ha-Meliz, ix. (1889), nos.
198-199, 201, 232; Jost, op. cit., p. 305. Da'at Kedoshim, St.
Petersburg, 1897, pp. 19, 22, 27.]
[Footnote 33: These biographical sketches, first published respectively
in the New Era Illustrated Magazine (1905, pp. 387-396) and the American
Israelite (April 25, 1907), are drawn from the following sources;
Houzner, I.B. Levinsohn (Russian), Odessa, 1862; Nathanson, Sefer
ha-Zikronot (Heb.), Warsaw, 1878; Yiddishe Bibliotek (Yid.), Kiev, 1888;
also Annalen, 1839, no. 17; Ha-Maggid, 1863, p. 381; Ha-Zefirah, 1900,
p. 197; Maggid, op. cit., pp. 86-115; Günzburg, Debir, i. and ii.,
Warsaw, 1883; Kiryat Sefer, Vilna, 1835 (esp. Letters 85-93, 101-102);
Abi'ezer, Vilna, 1863; Lebensohn, Kiryat Soferim, Vilna, 1847; Pardes,
i. 192; Recke und Napyersky, Allgemeines Schriftsteller und Gelehrten
Lexicon der Provinzen Livland, Esthland und Kurland, Mitau, 1829, pp.
147-148; and the works referred to in the text.]
RUSSIFICATION, REFORMATION, AND ASSIMILATION
[Footnote 1: San Donato, The Jewish Question, St. Petersburg, 1883, p.
[Footnote 2: Ha-Meliz, 1888, nos. 95, 163; Gordon, Iggerot, Warsaw,
1894, ii., and Russky Vyestnik, 1858, i. 126.]
[Footnote 3: Scholz, Die Juden in Russland, Berlin, 1900, pp. 102-107;
Hessen, Galeriya, p. 23; Voskhod, 1881, v. 1893; viii; Russky Yevrey,
[Footnote 4: Second Complete Russian Code, xxv, nos. 24, 768; xxvii.
nos. 26, 508.]
[Footnote 5: Voskhod, October, 1881; Chwolson, Die Blutanklage,
Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1901, p. 117.]
[Footnote 6: Zunser, Biography, p. 28.]
[Footnote 7: Kol Shire Mahallalel, i. 79-91.]
[Footnote 8: Kol Shire YeLeG, i. 43.]
[Footnote 9: Bramson, op. cit, pp. 52-54; Russky Yevrey, 1879, nos.
[Footnote 10: Rosenthal, Toledot Hebrat Marbe Haskalah, i. 3, 19, 103,
158-159; ii. Introduction.]
[Footnote 11: How happy the Maskilim of that time were to save their
fellows from the darkness of ignorance can be seen from the following
anecdote told by a Maskil in a retrospective mood (Ha-Shiloah, xvii.,
257-258): "Among the first of our young men to enter the gymnasium of my
native town of Mohilev were Ackselrod and the Leventhal brothers. The
former began to give instruction while he was still in the third grade
.... One morning he suddenly disappeared. After several days of anxious
search it was discovered that he had left on foot for Shklov, a distance
of about thirty vyersts, and while there he succeeded in persuading
fifteen boys to leave the yeshibah and come with him to Mohilev, where,
like a puissant warrior returning in triumph, he went with his little
army to the different homes to secure board and lodging for them while
they were being prepared for admission into the gymnasium."]
[Footnote 12: Op. cit., p. 35 (Engl. transl., p. 26).]
[Footnote 13: Op. cit., p. 9.]
[Footnote 14: Max Raisin, The Reform Movement, etc. (reprint from the
Year Book of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, xvi.),
[Footnote 15: Odessky Yevrey, 1847 (Novaya Yevreyskaya Synagoga v
[Footnote 16: Hessen, op. cit., p. 68; Voskhod, 1881, p. 132.]
[Footnote 17: Rosenthal, op. cit., p. 70; Gordon, Iggerot, nos. 60-62;
Ha-Meliz, xx, nos. 8, 11, 13.]
[Footnote 18: Voskhod, 1900, v.; Sefer ha-Shanah, ii. 288-290.]
[Footnote 19: Ha-Meliz, 1899, no. 39.]
[Footnote 20: Ben Sion, Yevrey Reformatory, St. Petersburg, 1882. In his
manifesto (Ha-Meliz, April 21, 1881) Gordon declared: "We have discarded
the dusty Talmud. We cannot rest satisfied, in questions of religion,
with the worm-eaten carcass, with the observances of rabbinical
Judaism." See Ha-Shiloah, ii. 53. See also Kahan, Meahore ha-Pargud
(reprint from Ha-Meliz, 1885), St. Petersburg, 1886.]
[Footnote 21: Prelooker, op. cit., pp. 24 f.; Voskhod, Feb. 3, 1886;
Razsvyet, 1881, no. 25.]
[Footnote 22: Duprey, Great Masters of Russian Literature (Engl. transl.
Dole, New York, 1886), p. 151.]
[Footnote 23: Rosenthal, op. cit, i. 66, 103, 158-159; Ha-Maggid, 1868,
p. 18. Cf. McClintock and Strong, Biblical, Theological and
Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia, New York, 1891, ii. 805. The beautiful
synagogue which the Jews began to erect in Moscow at the cost of half a
million rubles was declared by Pobyednostsev to be "too high and
imposing," and they were compelled to destroy the cupola and deform the
interior. Nevertheless it had to remain a "dead" synagogue, until
Nicholas II was pleased to give permission to open it.]
[Footnote 24: Shereshevsky, O Knigie Kahala, St. Petersburg, 1872;
Seiberling, Gegen Brafmann's Buch des Kahals, Vienna, 1881; Ha-Shahar,
iv. 621; xi. 242.]
[Footnote 25: Prelooker, Heroes and Heroines of Russia, London, p. 120;
Ha-Shiloah, xvii. 257-263.]
[Footnote 26: Zederbaum, 'Ayin Zofiyah, Warsaw, 1877, pp. 7-8;
Prelooker, Under the Czar, etc., pp. 8-21.]
[Footnote 27: It may not be superfluous to quote here the vivid picture
given of the period I am now describing by Eliakum Zunser in his
interesting autobiography; the more, as it is depicted very much in the
style of the Maskilim of to-day:
"It is an accepted law in hygiene that the digestive system must not be
overburdened at any one time by too much food, that eating must not be
done hastily, and, above all, great care must be taken to choose
wholesome and digestible food. These principles are still more important
to one who is hungry, who has abstained from food for any length of
time. He should select the healthy and light foods, and partake of
little at first until the powers of digestion are fully restored. Should
he neglect to observe these simple rules, he will ruin his digestive
system, the food will turn into poison, and he may contract a stubborn
disease which no physician will be able to cure.
"This is exactly what happened to our Russian Jews from 1860 to 1880.
For many long centuries they had endured an intellectual fast. The
Government had debarred them from the world's culture. They were closely
packed together in the narrow and dark ghettos. They knew of their
synagogues, yeshibot, and prayer-houses (Kloisen) on the one hand, and
of their little stores on the other. That there was a great world beyond
and without, a world of culture, education, and civilization, of this
they had only heard. A great many of them strove to break through the
bounds that confined them and step into the world of light and life; but
the Cossack, lead-laden whip in hand, stood there ready to drive them
"The thirst for education and civilization became daily more intense,
and reached the utmost limits of endurance. Five million Russian Jews
raised their hands to the Government and pleaded for mercy: 'Release us
from this ghetto! We, too, are human beings! Give us breathing space!
Give us light! We are faint and starving!' And the Cossack promptly
answered 'Nazad ('Back!') Here you are and here you remain--not a step
"And all at once, lo! there came a light! Alexander II, as soon as he
ascended the throne, opened wide the doors of the ghetto, and the
Russian Jews, young and old, men and women, rushed to the new culture.
All crowded to the dainty dish, and no time was lost in making up for
the intellectual fast.
"But here happened what usually occurs after a long fast. The wiser
partook of food with discretion. They selected the ingredients which
were wholesome, and which their system could digest. All unripe,
objectionable food they rejected; their main object was to select the
food which the Jewish system could assimilate. The governing principle
was to unite Jewish learning with the new culture. They knew that among
the new delicacies there were many that were injurious and unhealthy,
though the defects were disguised by alluring spices; but those who had
not lost the innate, unerring Jewish scent found no difficulty in
distinguishing that which was sound from the injurious, and they remain
strong and faithful Jews to this day.
"Others, and they formed the greater part of the Russian Jews, seized
things as they came. Nay, the more dangerous the delicacy, the more the
relish with which it was devoured. And these delicacies were gorged at
such a rate as to cause constitutional disorder. They who were a little
wiser somehow shook off the objectionable matter, and became 'whole'
again; and a great number 'died,' and a still greater number are
dangerously 'sick' to this very day.
"The sick among our Russian brethren, those who partook in dangerous
quantities of the unwholesome delicacies, believed that they would solve
all difficulties by 'Russification,' that is, by abandoning the old
Jewish culture and adopting Russian mannerisms and customs--by ceasing
to lead Jewish lives and by leading the lives of Russians. A great
number of Jewish literary men of those times believed that if the
Russian Jews would become 'Russified,' and would adopt modern
civilization, they would receive full and equal rights, on the same
terms as the other nationalities. These literary men were dazzled by the
little liberty Alexander II granted the Russian Jews, and they did not
understand that he pursued the same object as his father, Nicholas I. In
the days of Alexander II, many more Jews were converted to Christianity
than in the bitter days of Nicholas I; and many who were not converted
remained but caricatures of real Jews.
"The so-called 'Jewish Aristocracy' in Russia, and especially the
wealthy Jews of North Russia, of St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kharkov,
Russified at top speed. They removed from their homes and their
home-life anything that was in the least degree Jewish. They shattered
all that for thousands of years had been holy and dear to the Jew. Like
apes they imitated the manners and customs of the Christians. The
younger children did not even know that they were descended from Jews,
as was the case in the first 'pogroms,' when the children asked their
parents: 'Why do they beat us? Are we, too, Jews (Razve vy tozhe
[Footnote 28: For a full biography see Brainin, Perez ben Mosheh
Smolenskin, Warsaw, 1896; Keneset Yisraël, i. 249-286; Ha-Shiloah, i.
82-92, and his works, especially Ha-Toëh be-Darke ha-Hayyim, Vienna,
[Footnote 1: Most of this is based on Persecution of the Jews in Russia,
Philadelphia, 1891, pp. 8-18, 22, 35, 51-82, 184-185; Frederick, The New
Exodus, London, 1892, pp. 192-208; Errera, Les juifs russes, Brussels,
1893, pp. 29, 43 f., 89-90, 188-189. Between 1883 and 1885, the Mining
Institute and Engineering Institute for Public Roads adopted the five
per cent limit, the Kharkov Technical Institute a ten per cent limit,
and the Veterinary Institute, of the same city, the only one of the sort
in Russia, excluded Jews altogether.
"My zemlyakes" (countrymen), says a reminiscent writer, "soon after they
had finished their course in engineering, had taken each a different
road. One became a crown-rabbi, one a flour merchant, a third a
bookkeeper, but none of them could, on account of his religion, legally
pursue his chosen vocation" (Yiddishes Tageblatt, New York, May 13,
[Footnote 2: Urussov, Memoirs of a Russian Governor (Engl. transl., New
York, 1908), pp. 70, 90-91. "Out of 266 students admitted to the Kharkov
University in 1901, only 8 were Jews, though at least 12 had 'finished
the gymnasium,' not only with the 'highest possible' marks, but with
gold medals. At the Technological Institute of the same city, 7 were
Jews in a total of 240, though 12 applying for admission had received
the 'highest possible' marks. At the Kiev University, of 580 new
students, 32, all of them medallists, were Jews. How many applied for
admission, the daily and weekly press, from which these figures are
taken, did not report."]
[Footnote 3: Ner ha-Ma'arabi, vii, 27.]
[Footnote 4: "He who claims that a spirit of reaction has affected our
people as a whole," says Moses Reines (Ozar ha-Sifrut, ii. 45), "is
greatly mistaken. That the children of the poor from whom learning
cometh forth still forsake their city and country and acquire knowledge,
... that societies for the spread of Haskalah are formed every day, ...
that strict and pious Jews send their sons and daughters to where they
can obtain enlightenment, that rabbis, dayyanim, and maggidim urge their
children to become proficient in the requirements of the times ... write
for the press ... and deplore the gezerot (restrictions) regarding
admission to schools--all this proves convincingly that they do not see
right who complain that our entire nation is going backward."]
[Footnote 5: See Ha-Maggid, 1899, no. 160. While in 1848 there were 2446
and in 1854, 4439 converts, in 1860-1880 there were from 350 to 450 per
annum, in 1881, 572, in 1882, 610, and in 1883, 461 converts. With the
spread of Zionism conversions continued to diminish, and, while there
were relapses during the renewed pogroms of 1891 and 1901, they
decreased materially, though the Jewish population is constantly on the
[Footnote 6: Autobiography, pp. 42-51. See also Kahan, Meahore
ha-Pargud, pp. 15-17.]
[Footnote 7: Ha-Meliz, 1900, no. 123; Luah Ahiasaf, 5696, p. 312;
Zablotzky and Massel, Ha-Yizhari, Manchester, 1895, Introduction;
Ha-Meliz, xxxvii, no. 36; The Menorah, April, 1904.]
[Footnote 8: Yalkut Ma'arabi, 1904, pp. 46 f.]
[Footnote 9: Ha-Shahar, x. 511, 30; Habazelet, 1882, no. 2.]
[Footnote 10: Ha-Le'om, 1906, nos. 21-22; Belkind, in Ha-Zefirah, no.
46, 1913; Lubarsky and Lewin-Epstein, Derek Hayyim, New York, 1905.]
[Footnote 11: Greenstone, The Messiah Idea in Jewish History, ch. viii.]
[Footnote 12: The Progress of Zionism, pp. 3-4; cf. Voskhod, 1895, iv.]
[Footnote 13: Zamenhof's new universal language was primarily intended
to be the international language of his people, "who are speechless, and
therefore without hope, scattered over the world, and hence unable to
understand one another, obliged to take their culture from strange and
[Footnote 14: Ahiasaf, iv.; Gordon, op. cit., i. xxi; Razsvyet, 1882,
i.; Magil's Kobez (Collection), no. 3, p. 45.]
[Footnote 15: Ha-Meliz, 1899, no. 256; 1901, no. 2; weekly Voskhod,
1893, no. 40; monthly Voskhod, 1894, iv. Some Jewish financiers erected
gymnasia in Vilna and Warsaw, improved the condition of the hadarim, and
turned many Talmud Torahs into technical schools. Of the Lodz Talmud
Torah a writer says that "no Jewish community, even outside of Russia,
possesses such an institution, not excepting the Hirsch schools in
[Footnote 16: London, Unter jüdischen Proletariern, 1898, pp. 81-83;
Bramson, K Istorii, etc., pp. 63-69, 71-74; Ha-Meliz, xli., no. 246
(1901, no, 35); Ha-Zefirah, xxix., no. 285; and the Jewish Gazette, July
16, 1909 (Kunst und Nationalismus). The Ha-Zamir (a choral society),
founded in Lodz by Nissan Schapira, counts its members by the
[Footnote 17: London, op. cit, pp. 64-74; Ha-Meliz, 1900, nos. 192-193;
Rubinow, op. cit., pp. 530-532, 548-553, 561-566.]
[Footnote 18: Ha-Meliz, 1901, nos. 20, 27, 36, 54, 95.]
[Footnote 19: Atlas, Mah Lefanim u-mah Leaher, pp. 53 f.; Ha-Meliz,
1900, no. 47; 1901, no. 27.]
[Footnote 20: Ha-Meliz, 1901, no. 87.]
[Footnote 21: Réflexions sur l'état des israélites russes, Odessa, 1871,
[Footnote 22: Kayserling, Die jüdischen Frauen, Leipsic, 1879, pp.
306-313; Rubinow, op. cit., p. 581. The Russian Jewess has already
produced several writers above the average (Einhorn, Mosessohn, Ben
Yehudah, Sarah and Eva Schapira) in Hebrew, has given Russian literature
at least one novelist of note (Rachel Khin), has furnished leaders in
the movement for the emancipation of women (Maria Saker), and especially
for the liberation of Russia (Finger, Helfman, Levinsohn, Novinsky,
Rabinovich). According to Mr. Rabinow, the Russo-Jewish "women and girls
use every available means" to obtain an education, and at least fifty
per cent of them possess a knowledge of Russian in addition to their
An asterisk (*) marks a book or periodical of especial importance.
Antin, The Promised Land, Boston and New York, 1912.
Atlas, Mah Lefanim u-mah Leaher, Warsaw, 1898.
Baskerville, The Polish Jew, New York, 1906.
Ben Sion, Yevreyi Reformatory, St. Petersburg, 1882.
Bentwich, The Progress of Zionism, New York, 1899.
Bernfeld, Dor Tahapukot, Warsaw, 1897.
Bershadsky, Zhurnal Ministerstva Narodnaho Prosvyeshchaniya, St.
Bersohn, Tobiasz Cohn, Warsaw, 1872.
Blaustein, Memoirs, New York, 1813, pt. I.
*Brafmann, Kniga Kahala, Vilna, 1869.
*Brainin, Perez ben Moses Smolenskin, Warsaw, 1896.
*Bramson, K Istorii Pervonachalnaho Obrazovaniya Russkikh Yevreyev, St.
*Buchholtz, Geschichte der Juden in Riga, Riga, 1899.
Chwolson, Die Blutanklage, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1901.
Cohan, Rabbi Yisraël Ba'al Shem Tob, 1900.
Cohn, Ma'aseh Tobiah, Venice, 1707.
*Czacki, Rosprava o Zhydakh, Vilna, 1807.
Delitzsch, Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Poesie, Leipsic, 1836.
*[Dick], Ha-Oreah, Königsberg, 1860.
*D[ick], Yiddishe Kleider Umwechslung, Vilna, 1844.
*Dob Bär, Shibhe ha-Besht, Berdichev, 1815.
Duprey, Great Masters of Russian Literature (Engl. transl.), New York,
Edelman, Gedulat Shaül, London, 1854.
*Elk, Die jüdischen Kolonien in Russland, Frankfort on-the-Main, 1886.
Emden, Megillat Sefer, ed. Cohan, Warsaw, 1896.
Epstein, Geburat ha-Ari, Vilna, 1870.
*Errera, Les juifs russes, Brussels, 1893.
Erter, Ha-Zofeh le-Bet Yisraël, Warsaw, 1890.
Ezekiel Feivel, Toledot Adam, Warsaw, 1854.
Firkovich, Abne Zikkaron, Vilna, 1872.
Fishberg, The Jews: A Study of Race and Environment, New York, 1911.
*Frederick, The New Exodus, London, 1892.
Friedländer, An die Verehrer, Freunde, und Schüler, etc., Leipsic, 1823.
*Frledländer, Ueber die Verbesserung der Israeliten im Königreich Polen,
Friedrichsfeld, Zeker Zaddik, Amsterdam, 1809.
*Fünn, Keneset Yisraël, Warsaw, 1860.
*Fünn, Kiryah Ne'emanah, Vilna, 1860.
Fünn, Safah le-Ne'emanim, Vilna, 1881.
Fünn, Sofre Yisraël, Vilna, 1891.
Geiger, Melo Hofnayim, Berlin, 1840.
Gershuni, Mein Entrinung vun Katorga, New York, 1907.
Gershuni, Sketches of Jewish Life and History, New York, 1873.
Ger Zedek, Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, St. Petersburg, 1892.
*Ginzberg and Marek, Yevreyskiya Narodniya Pyesni, St. Petersburg, 1901.
*Glückel von Hameln, Zikronot, ed. Cohan, 1896.
Gordon, Ha-Azamot ha-Yebashot, Odessa, 1899.
*Gordon, Iggerot, Warsaw, 1894.
Gordon, Kol Shire YeLeG, Vilna, 1898.
*Gottlober, Ha-Gizrah we-ha-Binyah, in Ha-Boker Or, iv.
Gottlober, Za'ar Ba'ale Hayyim, Zhitomir, 1868.
Gottlober, Zikronot mi-Yeme Ne'uraï, Warsaw, 1800.
Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, Leipsic, 1866-1882, 11 vols. (also in
Hebrew, Dibre Yeme Yisraël, Warsaw, 1905).
Greenstone, The Messiah Idea in Jewish History, Philadelphia, 1906.
*Güdemann, Geschichte des Erziehunghswesens und der Cultur der
abendländischen Juden, Vienna, 1880 and 1884.
Güdemann, Quellen zur Geschichte des Unterrichts, Berlin, 1891.
*Günzburg, Abi'ezer, Vilna, 1863.
*Günzburg, Ha-Debir, Warsaw, 1883.
Günzburg, Ha-Moriah, Warsaw, 1878 ("Kikayon Yonah").
Günzburg, Kiryat Sefer, Vilna, 1835.
Günzburg, Maggid Emet, Leipsic, 1843.
*Halevi, Kuzari, Introduction.
*Hannover, Yeven Mezulah, Warsaw, 1872.
*Harkavy, Ha-Yehudim u-Sefat ha-Selavim, Vilna, 1867.
*Harkavy, Russ i Russkiye v Srednikh Yevropeyskaya Literatura, Voskhod,
Horowitz, Derek 'Ez ha-Hayyim, Cracow, 1895.
*Houzner, I.B. Levinsohn (Russian), Odessa, 1862.
Hurwitz, 'Ammude Bet Yehudah, 1765.
Hurwitz, Hekal 'Oneg, Grodno, 1797.
Hurwitz (Phinehas Elijah), Sefer ha-Berit, Brünn, 1897.
Ilye, Alfe Menasheh, Vilna, 1827.
Ilye, Pesher Dabar, Vilna, 1807.
Izgur, Shalosh Tekufot, Niezhin, 1898.
*Jastrow, Beleuchtungen, etc., Hamburg, 1859.
*Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 vols., New York, 1901-1906.
Jost, Culturgeschichte, Berlin, 1847.
Jost, Freimüthige Beleuchtung, Berlin, 1830.
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Kahan, Meahore ha-Pargud, St. Petersburg, 1886.
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Katz, Toledot Haskalat ha-Yehudim be-Russyah, Ha-Zeman, St. Petersburg,
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*Lerner, Yevreyi v Novorossiskom Kraye, Odessa, 1901.
Levanda, Ocherki Proshlaho, St. Petersburg, 1876.
*Levin, Aliyat Eliyahu, Vilna, 1856.
*Levinsohn, Bet Yehudah, Warsaw, 1901.
*Levinsohn, Te'udah be-Yisraël, Warsaw, 1901.
Lilienblum, Derek La'abor Golim, Warsaw, 1899.
Lilienblum, Derek Teshubah, Warsaw, 1899.
*Lilienblum, Hattot Ne'urim, Vienna, 1876.
*Lilienblum, Kehal Refaïm, Odessa, 1870.
*Lilienblum, 'Olam ha-Tohu, in Ha-Shahar, 1873.
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*Lilienthal, Maggid Yeshu'ah, Vilna, 1842.
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*Lilienthal, My Travels in Russia, American Israelite, 1854.
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*Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, London, 1890.
*London, Unter jüdischen Proletariern, 1898.
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*Lubliner, De la condition politique... dans le royaume de Pologne,
*Maggid, Toledot Mishpehot Ginzberg, St. Petersburg, 1899.
*Maimon, Autobiographic, Berlin, 1793; Engl. transl., Boston, 1888; Heb.
transl., Warsaw, 1899.
*Malishevsky, Yevreyi v Yuzhnoy Rossii i Kieve v. x-xii. Vyekakh, St.
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*Mandelstamm, Hazon la-Moëd, Vienna, 1877.
Mann, Sheërit Yisrael, Vilna, 1818.
*Mapu, 'Ayit Zabua' Warsaw, 1873.
Margolioth, Bet Middot, Prague, 1786.
Minor, Rukovodstvo, Moscow, 1881.
*Morgulis, Voprosi Yevreyskoy Zhizni, St. Petersburg, 1889.
Nathanson, Sefat Emet, Warsaw, 1887.
*Nathanson, Sefer ha-Zikronot, Warsaw, 1878.
Nusbaum, Historiya Zhidóv, Warsaw, 1888-1890, 5 vols.
Orshansky, Yevreyskaya Biblyotyeka, ii.
Paperna, Ha-Derammah, Odessa, 1867.
*Persecution of the Jews in Russia, Philadelphia, 1891.
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Pinsker, Likkute Kadmoniot, Vilna, 1860.
Plungian, Ben Porat, Vilna, 1858.
*Polonnoy, Toledot Ya'akob Yosef, Lemberg, 1856.
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*Prelooker, Under the Czar and Queen Victoria, London.
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*Rubinow, Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor, No. 72, Washington, Sept.,
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*Scholz, Die Juden in Russland, Berlin, 1900.
*Seiberling, Gegen Brafmann's Buch des Kahals, Vienna, 1881.
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*Shereshevsky, O Knigie Kahala, St. Petersburg, 1872.
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*Smolenskin, Ha-Toëh be-Darke ha-Hayyim, Vienna, 1876, 4 vols.
Smolenskin, Keburat Hamor, ibid., 1874.
Sokolov, Sinat 'Olam le-'Am 'Olam, Warsaw, 1882.
*Steinschneider, 'Ir Vilna, Vilna, 1900.
Sternberg, Die Proselyten in Polen im xvi und xvii Jahrhundert, AZJ,
1863, pp. 67-68; L'univers Israélite, 1863, pp. 272-273.
*Tarnopol, Réflexions sur l'état des israélites russes, Odessa, 1871.
Troki, Hizzuk Emunah, Leipsic, 1857.
*Urussov, Memoirs of a Russian Governor, Engl. transl., New York, 1908.
Weiss, Zikronotaï, Warsaw, 1895.
Weissberg, Aufklärungsliteratur, Vienna, 1898.
Weissberg, Le-Toledot ha-Sifrut ha-'Ibrit ha-Hadashah be-Polin
we-Russyah, Mi-Mizrah u-mi-Ma'arab, Berlin, 1895.
*Wengeroff, Memoiren einer Grossmutter, i., Berlin, 1908.
Wessely, Dibre Shalom we-Emet, Berlin, 1782.
Wiener, The History of Yiddish Literature, New York, 1899.
*Wolf, Maimoniana, Berlin, 1813.
Wolkonsky, Pictures of Russian Life and Literature, Boston, 1897.
Yevrey Minister, Voskhod, 1885, v.
Yevreyskaya Enziklopedya, St. Petersburg, 14 vols.
Zablotzky and Massel, Ha-Yizhari, Manchester, 1895.
*Zederbaum, 'Ayin Zofiyah, Warsaw, 1877.
Zederbaum, Keter Kehunnah, Odessa, 1868.
Zederbaum, Kohelet, St. Petersburg, 1881.
*Zunser, Biography, Yiddish (and Engl. transl.), New York, 1905.
*Zunz, Aelteste Nachrichten über Juden und jüdische Gelehrte in Polen,
Slavonien, Russland. Gesammelte Schriften, Berlin, 1875, iii. 82-87.
Zweifel, Sanegor, Warsaw, 1894.
*Zweifel, Shalom 'al Yisraël, Zhitomir, 1868-1872, 4 vols.
Abele, Abraham, Talmudist, 164, 199.
_Abi'ezer_, by Günzburg, 220.
Abraham, son of Elijah Gaon, 119.
Abramovich, Andrey, statesman, 22.
Abramovitsch, Solomon Jacob, novelist, 203.
Adelsohn, Wolf, "the Hebrew Diogenes," 200.
Aguilar, Grace, on Russo-Jewish misery, 154.
Ahiasaf Society, 296-297.
Aleksey (Abraham), proselyte-priest, 25.
Alexander I, during his period of tolerance, 111-113;
during his period of intolerance, 127-138, 140, 144, 163, 170, 192, 201,
249, 251, 253.
Alexander II, referred to, 11, 79, 261;
reign of reforms, 222-226;
favorable attitude towards Jews, 224-225, 229-231;
the Narodniki, 236;
change of policy, 248-255;
plotted against and assassinated, 255-258.
Alexander III, referred to, 80, 255;
"May Laws," 270-273;
Jews excluded from schools by, 273-275.
Alexander Jagellon and the Jews, 21.
Allgemeine jüdische Arbeiterbund, Der, in Littauen, Polen, und Russland,
Alliance Israélite Universelle, programme of, 236;
criticism of, 285-286.
Altaras, Jacques Isaac, philanthropist, 157.
America. See United States, the.
'Am 'Olam Society, 283.
Amsterdam, referred to, 22;
a place of refuge for Russo-Polish proselytes, 27;
elects Russo-Jewish rabbis, 33-34;
place of study, 81, 93, 109, 126, 165.
Antokolsky, Mark, sculptor, 241.
Anton, Carl, author, 64.
Apostol, Cossack hetman, 57.
Apotheker, Abraham Ashkenazi, author, 40.
Arbeiterstimme, Die, 293.
Aristotle, 50, 216, 297.
_Ascension of Elijah_, 134.
Ashkenazi, Meïr, envoy of the Khan of the Tatars, 23.
Ashkenazi, Meïr, rabbinical author, quoted, 31, 33.
Ashkenazi, Solomon, statesman, 23.
Assemblies, Jewish, under Alexander I, 117, 128;
under Nicholas I, 151, 173, 174-176;
in Vilna, 165;
under Alexander II, 230;
at Kattowitz, 285.
Auerbach, Berthold, on Maimon, 88.
Austria, Haskalah in, 12, 188;
influence on Russian Maskilim, 195;
place of study for Russian Jews, 285, 298.
See also Galicia.
_'Ayit Zabua'_, 244-245.
Baku, antiquity of, 20.
Barit, Jacob ("Yankele Kovner"), scholar, 200, 255, 259.
Bathory, Stephen, 59, 253.
Beer, Michel, champion of Jewish rights, 114.
Behalot, 63, 161.
Behr, Issachar Falkensohn, poet, 90-91, 108.
Belkind, Israel, Zionist, 286.
Belzyc, Jacob Nahman, author, 36.
Bene Mosheh Society, 286.
Bennett, Solomon, of Polotzk, engraver, champion of Jewish rights in
Bentwich, on Jewish colonists in Palestine, 289.
Ben Yehudah, Eliezer, Hebraist, 284-285.
Beobachter, Der, an der Weichsel, 124, 196.
Berdichev, 123, 175, 200, 206, 239.
Berek, Joselovich, colonel, 115.
Berlin, 37, 78, 80, 81, 84, 85, 90, 91, 93, 120, 126, 132, 192, 245,
251, 257, 291, 298.
Berlin, Moses, uchony Yevrey, 230.
Berlin, Naphtali Zebi Judah, dean of Yeshibah, 152, 254, 288.
Bernfeld, on Maimon, 86.
Besht, Israel Baal Shem [Tob], referred to, 65, 122, 123;
his life, 66-69;
opposition to rabbinism, 67, 70, 71, 75;
his influence, 76;
his biography, 134.
Bet ha-Midrash, description of the, 50-51.
Bet ha-Sefer, in Jaffa, 290-291.
_Bet Yehudah_, by Levinsohn, 209-210.
Bezalel, school of art, 291.
Bibikov, on Russian Jews, 162.
Bible, the, ancient Russo-Jewish commentaries on, 28;
customs of (according to Elijah Vilna), 74;
the _Biur_ on, 81, 82;
Mendelssohn's translation, 105, 131, 193, 203
translated into Russian, 239, 252.
Bibleitsy (Dukhovnoye Bibleyskoye Bratstvo), 247-248.
Bielski, on Jewish proselytes, 27.
Bilu Society, 286.
_Biur_, commentary, collaborators on, 81;
referred to, 265.
Blood-accusation, 59, 115, 145, 155, 208, 213, 229, 253, 275-276.
Bogdanovich, Judah, merchant, 22.
Bokhara, 127, 271.
Bolingbroke, quoted, 215.
Bompi, Issachar, bibliophile, 166-167, 200.
Bone Zion Society, 286-287.
Book of Common Prayer, old translation of, 30;
suggested changes in, 175;
new Russian translation, 239, 252.
Brafmann, Jacob, delator, 254.
Brest-Litovsk, Jewish community in, 20;
granted privileges, 21;
Talmudists of, 34;
persecution of Hasidim in, 76;
Haskalah in, 105, 166, 200.
Buchner's _Der Talmud in seiner Nichtigkeit_, 146.
Buckle, on Russian civilization, 190;
referred to, 245.
Byelostok, 113, 199, 201, 294.
Calvinism, in Poland, 56.
Cantonists, 138-139, 142, 171, 225.
Carlyle, quoted, 88, 109.
Caro, Joseph Hayyim, rabbi, 200.
Casal, Jonas, physician, 39.
Casimir IV, Jews under, 26, 253.
Catherine II, favors the Jews, 110-111, 112, 147, 249.
Chamisso, on "the Glusker Maggid," 132, 302.
Chaucer on "beggar students," 48.
Chazanowicz, Joseph, Zionist, 291.
Chernichevsky's _What to Do_, 257.
Chernigov, Isaac of, Talmudist, 29.
Chernyshev, Governor-General, proclaims religious liberty, 110.
Chiarini, Abbé Luigi, anti-Talmudist, 145, 146.
Chmielnicki, Cossack hetman, 48, 52, 53, 54, 58, 64, 77, 149.
Chozi Kokos, statesman, 23, 55.
Chufut-Kale (Rock of the Jews), 19.
Clement VIII, pope, 72.
Clement XIV, pope, 253.
Clermont-Tonnerre, on Zalkind Hurwitz, 93.
Coën, Moses, court physician and statesman, 40-41.
Cohen, Shalom, litterateur, 99.
Cohn, Tobias, physician, 41-42;
on Polish Jews, 64;
referred to, 101, 298.
Coins, with Hebrew inscriptions, 21.
Colonists, under Nicholas I, 140-144, 160;
under Alexander II, 228;
in America, 283;
in Palestine, 283, 286-289.
Commendoni, on Lithuanian Jews, 24.
Converts to Christianity, 25, 26, 64, 130, 136, 139, 146, 168, 177-178,
248, 254, 260, 270-273, 278-279, 303.
Cossacks, Jews as, 23-24.
Costume, Jewish, origin of, 115;
opposition of Maskilim to, 166, 175;
Friedländer opposes, 170;
enforced change of, by Government, 179;
in Courland, 194.
Council of the Four Countries, 44, 208.
Courland, Jews admitted into, 111;
annexed to Russia, 113;
taxes in, 129;
colonists from, 140;
stronghold of Haskalah, 193-194.
Cracow, 27, 78.
Crémieux, Adolphe, statesman, 154, 175.
Crimea, the, 19, 23.
Crusades, the, 18, 52.
Cyril, apostle to Slavonians, 28.
Czacki, Tadeusz, Polish historian, defends Jews, 114;
praises them, 115.
Czartorisky, Prince, and the Polish Jews, 94, 116.
Czatzskes, Baruch, translator, 124.
Dainov, Zebi Hirsh, "the Slutsker Maggid," 246.
Damascus Affair, the, 155, 208.
Danzig's _Hayye Adam_, 147.
Darshan, Moses Isaac, "the Khelmer Maggid," 280.
_Dead Souls_, by Gogol, 257.
Delacrut, philosopher, 37.
Delitzsch, on Dubno, 81;
on Hebrew poetry, 98;
on Satanov, 99.
Delmedigo, Joseph, physician, 24.
_Derek Selulah_, by Temkin, 146.
Diakov, on Russian Jews, 162, 318 (n. 1).
Dillon, Eliezer, financier, 118, 125.
Dob Bär, biographer of Besht, 123.
Dolitzky, Menahem Mendel, poet, 98, 243.
_Dos Polische Yingel_, by Linetzky, 242, 244.
Dostrzegacz Nadvisyansky, 196.
Dubno, 65, 200.
Dubno, Solomon, grammarian, 81-82, 98, 105.
Dubnow, Simon, historian, 17.
Dyerzhavin's _Mnyenie_, 118.
Edels, Samuel (Maharsha), Talmudist, 72.
_Efes Dammim_, by Levinsohn, 208, 213.
Efrusi, Hayyim, communal worker, 165.
Eger, Akiba, rabbi, 149.
Eisenmenger's _Entdecktes Judenthum_, 146.
Eishishki, antiquity of, 20.
Eliasberg, Jonathan, rabbi, 288.
Eliasberg, Mordecai, rabbi, 288.
Elijah Gaon, 70-76;
his curriculum of study, 73, 74;
his appreciation of science and influence on Haskalah, 74, 75;
reputed to be the author of _Sefer ha-Berit_, 102;
his disciples, 119-121, 126, 150;
his biography, _Ascension of Elijah_, 134;
referred to, 164, 197, 201, 212, 220.
Eliot, George, on Maimon's Autobiography, 88;
referred to, 297.
Elizabeta Petrovna, 57, 135, 195.
Emden, Jacob, Talmudist, 78, 91, 94, 197.
England, Russian Jews in, 29, 93-96, 109;
sympathy of, 154-157, 270.
_Entdecktes Judenthum_, by Eisenmenger, 146.
Erter, Isaac, satirist, 205, 217.
Esterka, Polish Jewish queen (?), 22.
Euclid, in Hebrew, 105.
Exportation Law of 1843, 152-154, 179.
Eybeschütz, Jonathan, Talmudist, 64, 78.
Falk, Hayyim Samuel Jacob, Baal Shem, 93-94.
_Fathers and Sons_, by Turgenief, 257.
Finkel, Elijah, educator, 164.
Folk Songs, 137-138, 141, 161, 232, 316 (n. 36), 320 (n. 19).
See also Lullabies.
France, Russian Jews in, 29, 92-93, 96, 109, 298, 300-301.
Franco-Russian war, 116-117, 204.
Frank, physician, 91, 127.
Frank, Jacob (Yankev Leibovich), founder of the Frankists, 64-65, 66,
69, 104, 131.
"Freitisch," 47, 151.
Friedländer, David, scholar and philanthropist, referred to, 105, 237;
on the improvement of Jews in Poland, 169-170.
Frug, Simon, poet, 290, 297.
Fünn, Joseph, historian, 106, 203.
Gaden, Stephen von, court physician and statesman, 40.
Galicia, Haskalah in, 12, 321 (n. 25);
Hasidism in, 69;
referred to, 163, 195, 205, 291.
See also Austria.
Germany, Haskalah in, 12;
emigration from, 30;
Russo-Polish rabbis in, 33-34;
Russo-Jewish Maskilim in, 77-91, 104, 106;
Hebrew poetry of, 97-98;
object of Maskilim in, 99-100, 107;
Haskalah encouraged by the Government, 102;
by Jewish financiers, 237;
opposition to Haskalah in, 105-106, 131-133, 188;
state of Judaism in, 168-169;
reason for speedy Germanization of Jews in, 191;
Jewish science in, 219;
influence of, on Russian Maskilim, 192-198;
a place of refuge, 252;
restrictions against refugees in, 298-299, 301.
Gibbon, Edward, referred to, 24.
Ginzberg, Asher (Ahad Ha-'Am), and Haskalah, 13.
Glückel von Hameln's _Memoirs_, 33.
"Glusker Maggid, the," 132, 302.
Goethe on Maimon, 89:
on Behr, 90;
referred to, 189, 192.
Gogol's Jewish traitor, 224;
influence of his _Dead Souls_, 257.
Gordin, Jacob, ethical culturist, 247.
Gordon, David, litterateur, 284.
Gordon, J.L., and Haskalah, referred to, 13, 252, 261;
poetry of, 98;
and Levinsohn, 212;
on the new era, 232;
attacks the Talmud, 243;
laments the effect of Haskalah, 260;
on Zionism, 290.
Gordon, Jekuthiel, scientist, 92.
Gottlober, Abraham Bär, on Hasidism, 69;
on Luria, 168;
and Levinsohn, 212;
on Russification, 231;
defends Mendelssohn, 265.
Graetz, on Maimon, 83;
on Slavonic Jews, 103.
Granovsky, on Jewish emancipation, 228.
Grazhdanin, 253, 302.
Gregory X, pope, 253.
Grodno, Jewish community in, 20;
a Talmudic centre, 32, 34;
scene of martyrdom, 57;
persecution of Hasidim in, 76;
Talmud published in, 148-149;
Guizolfi, Zacharias de, statesman, 23, 55, 306 (n. 12).
Günzberg, Benjamin Wolf, student, 91.
Günzburg, Horace, financier, 237.
Günzburg, Joseph Yosel, financier, 237.
Günzburg, Mordecai Aaron, 13, 204, 225;
his life, 213-221;
on Minhagim, 215;
his impress on Hebrew literature, 217-219;
his _Abi'ezer_, 220.
Gurovich, Marcus, educator, 228.
HaBad, reform sect of Hasidim, 122.
Ha-Boker Or, 265.
Haggadah shel Pesah, Russian translation of, 239.
Haidamacks, 59, 269.
Hakohen, Ephraim, rabbi, 34.
Hakohen, Joseph, rabbi, 19, 195.
Hakohen, Raphael, rabbi, 78.
Ha-Meliz, 242, 286, 288.
Hannover, Nathan, his _Safah Berurah_, 39;
his _Yeven Mezulah_, quotation from, 48-49.
Harkavy, Abraham, Orientalist, 17, 29, 203.
Ha-Shahar, 242, 261-262, 265, 267.
their teachings, 66, 67, 150;
persecuted by the Mitnaggedim, 76, 131;
efforts at reconciliation with Mitnaggedim, 120-121, 260;
united with Mitnaggedim against Haskalah, 134;
fought by Maskilim, 168.
Haskalah, definitions of, 12-13;
writers on, 14;
regarded differently in Germany and Russia, 103-108, 131;
opposition to, 132-150, 185-188;
in the "forties," 164-197;
influence of Germany on, 191-199;
in Galicia, 205;
Levinsohn's advice on, 212;
Günzburg's opinion of, 216;
spreads under Alexander II, 230-248;
disappointments of, 232-234;
and Reform Judaism, 242-248;
romantic and pessimistic, 278-281;
_Ha-Toëh be-Darke ha-Hayyim_, 266, 267.
_Hattot Ne'urim_, 232-234.
_Hayye Adam_, by Danzig, 147.
Hebrew literature: style, 96, 97, 217-218;
Reform Judaism in, 242-248;
necessity of (Smolenskin), 264.
Heder, 46, 184.
Hegel, 86, 192.
Heilprin, Joseph, financier, 175.
Heine, referred to, 297;
on Polish Jews, 314 (n. 43).
Helena, Princess, proselyte, 26.
Heller, Yom-Tob Lipman, rabbi, 37.
Herz, Marcus, disciple of Kant, 85.
Herzl, Theodore, Zionist, 263, 281, 283.
Hillul Society, 286.
Hirsch, Baron de, 277.
_Hizzuk Emunah_, Voltaire's opinion on, 37.
Hobebe Zion, 285, 286.
Horn, Meïr, educator, 164.
Horowitz, Isaiah, Cabbalist, 33.
Horowitz, Phinehas, rabbi, 78.
Horowitz, Shabbataï, rabbi, 34.
Horowitz, Shmelke, rabbi, 78.
Horwitz, Aaron Halevi, rabbi, 78.
Hurwitz, Hirsh, educator, 164.
Hurwitz, Hyman, professor, 95.
Hurwitz, Judah Halevi, translator, 92, 105, 121, 123, 125, 134.
[Hurwitz], Phinehas Elijah, encyclopedist, 101-103, 214.
Hurwitz, Zalkind, champion of Jewish rights in France, 92-93.
Huss, influence of, in Poland, 26.
_Hut ha-Meshullash_, by Kohn, 244.
Ibn Ezra, Abraham, commentaries on his works, 30, 106.
Ignatiev, Nicholas, 268.
Ilye, Manasseh of, Talmudist, 120-121, 125, 132, 134.
_Information about the Killing of Christians_, etc., by Skripitzyii,
Innocent IV, pope, 253.
Israelit, Asher, Maggid, 280.
Israelita, Polish weekly, 247.
Isserles, Moses, rabbi, 50, 78.
Italy, a place of attraction for Russian Jews, 37, 40, 91-92, 126, 165.
Ivan the Terrible, 55-56, 152.
Jacob Isaac, court physician, 39.
Jaffe, Daniel, scholar, 90.
Jaffe, Mordecai (Lebushim), Talmudist, 37, 61, 105.
Jastrow, Marcus, rabbi, 159, 246.
Jekuthiel, Solomon, financier, 204.
_Jerusalem_, by Mendelssohn, 209.
Jerusalem, pilgrimage to, 65.
Jesuits, in Poland, 54, 58.
Joffe, Mordecai, rabbi, 288.
Joseph ben Isaac Levi, philosopher, 38.
Josephovich, Abraham, statesman, 21-22.
Josephovich, Michael, nobleman, 21-22.
Judah Halevi, poet and philosopher, 28, 98, 106, 284.
Judah Hasid, mystic, founder of the original Hasidim, 65.
Judaizing heresy. See Proselytism.
_Judex Judaeorum_, 44.
Jüdischer Arbeiter, Der, 293.
_Kab ha-Yashar_, referred to, 63.
Kadimah Society, 285.
oppression by, 61;
denunciation of, 254.
Kalisz, antiquity of, 20.
Kamenetz-Podolsk, antiquity of, 41.
Kant, favorite with Maskilim, 79, 192;
on Maimon, 85, 88, 89;
referred to, 189.
Kant, the Hebrew, 106.
Kaplan, Wolf, educator, 225.
Karaites, discussions with Rabbanites, 36;
with Christians, 37;
Nicholas I on, 136.
Katkoff, defends Jews under Alexander II, 225;
becomes a reactionary under Alexander III, 269.
Kattowitz, conference of, 285.
Katz, Meir, Talmudist, 61.
Katzenellenbogen, Hayyim, Talmudist, 40.
Katzenellenbogen, Moses, 40.
Kaufman, Governor-General, convokes conference, 255.
Kertch, Archbishop of, tries to convert Jews, 25.
Khazars, 18, 20, 25.
Khelm, antiquity of, 20.
Khelm, Ephraim of, liturgist, 35.
Kherson, 28, 142, 144, 160, 292.
Kiev, early settlement of Jews in, 19-20;
their influence, 23;
proselytism in, 25;
Talmudists of, 29, 31;
University of, 126;
expulsions from, 153;
referred to, 200, 226, 227, 275.
Kishinev, 154, 164, 185, 248, 276.
Kissilyef, on emigration, 158.
Klaczke, G., educator, 166.
_Kniga Kahala_, 254-255.
Kobrin, Joseph of, liturgist, 35.
Kohen, Naphtali, rabbi, 34.
Kohen, Shabbataï, rabbi and historian, 35-36.
Kohn's _Hut ha-Meshullash_, 244.
Kol Mebasser, 242.
Königsberg, 33, 79, 90, 120, 126, 132.
_Kontrabandisti_, by Levin, 303.
Körner, on Maimon, 89.
Korolenko's _Skazanye O Florye Rimlyaninye_, 302.
Kovno, Government of, 20;
city of, 21;
Talmudists of, 34;
Maskilim in, 201, 246;
Mussarnikes in, 280;
referred to, 288, 294.
Kramsztyk, Isaac, rabbi, 247.
Krochmal, Nahman, philosopher, 205.
Krüdener, Baroness, 127, 129, 251.
Kryloff, 175, 189.
Kuritzin, Theodore, proselyte, 26.
Kusselyevsky, physician, 127.
Ladi, Shneor Zalman of, 116, 122-123.
Landau, Ezekiel, rabbi, 78, 133.
Landau, Moses, educator, 164.
Lassalle, 257, 293, 297.
Lebensohn, Abraham Dob Bar, poet, 98, 212, 244.
Leczeka, Abba, "the Glusker Maggid," 132, 302.
Leibnitz, 79, 88.
Leibov, Baruch, martyr, 57.
Lemberg, court of, 44;
fair at, 49.
Leo, the court physician, 23, 39, 55.
Lermontoff's spy, 224.
Leroy-Beaulieu, Anatole, on Maimon, 130;
on university restrictions, 276-277;
referred to, 303.
Lessing, Ephraim, on Israel Zamoscz, 77;
on Behr, 90;
referred to, 192.
Letteris, Meïr Halevi, poet, 205.
Letzte Nachrichten, 293.
Levanda, Lyev, novelist, 203, 279.
Levin, Judah, merchant, 204.
Levin, Mendel, Hebrew and Yiddish author, 99-101, 116, 119, 195, 217.
Levin's _Kontrabandisti_, 303.
Levinsohn, I.B., and Haskalah, 13;
on the settlement of Jews in Russia, 18;
on the effect of Chmielnicki's massacres, 52;
his life, 204-213;
_Te'udah be-Yisraël_, 205-207, 209, 210, 221;
_Efes Dammim_, 208, 213;
_Bet Yehudah_, 209-210;
_Zerubbabel_, 210-211, 213;
referred to, 219-220.
Liboschüts, Jacob, physician and philanthropist, 91.
Liboschüts, Osip Yakovlevich, court physician, 126.
Lichtenstadt, Moses, communal worker, 165.
Lieberman, Aaron ("Arthur Freeman"), socialist, 256.
Lieven, Prince Emanuel, 209.
Lilien, Ephraim Moses, artist, 291.
Lilienblum, Moses Löb, skeptic, 232-234;
attacks the Talmud, 242;
Lilienthal, Max, referred to, 14, 117, 151, 164, 183, 277;
opens school in Riga, 165, 170;
his personality, 171-172;
his _Maggid Yeshu'ah_ and his efforts in behalf of Russian Jews, 174-176;
his disillusionment, 177-180;
his opinion on Russia, 179;
how regarded by Maskilim, 172-173, 180-181;
on the Jews of Courland, 194;
on the Jews of Odessa, 196;
his supporters, 198-199, 200;
Günzburg on, 216.
Linetzky's _Dos Polische Yingel_, 242, 244.
"Lishmah" ideal, 107.
Lithuania, Magna Charta of, 21;
Jewish merchants of, 22;
description by Cardinal Commendoni and by Delmedigo, 24;
Talmudic centre, 31-35;
status of Jews of, under Ivan the Terrible, 55;
after the massacres, 60;
opposition to Hasidism in, 65, 69;
method of study in, 71-72;
inclination to Haskalah in, 105-109;
annexed to Russia, 113;
colonization in, 143-144, 159;
Talmud published in, 148-149;
referred to, 195.
Litvack, Judah, deputy, 93.
Livonia, Jewish merchants of, 22;
Gentiles remonstrate on behalf of Jews of, 57;
stronghold of Haskalah, 193-194.
Loewe, Louis, Orientalist, quoted, 155, 199.
London, 94, 126, 129.
Louis XIV, and the Treaty of Ryswick, 22.
Lover of Enlightenment societies, 165.
Lublin, 31, 34, 40;
fair at, 49;
Haskalah in, 105.
Lublin, Meïr (Maharam), Talmudist, 72.
Lukas, "the little Jew," 25.
Lullabies, Russo-Jewish, quoted, 46, 309 (n. 39).
See also Folk Songs.
Luria, David, philanthropist, 166, 168, 203.
Luria, Solomon, Talmudist, 40;
censures the liberality of Isserles, 50;
opposes the kahal, 61;
his method of study, 72.
Luther's doctrines in Poland, 26.
Luzzatto, Moses Hayyim, poet, 92.
Lyons, Israel, grammarian, 95.
_Ma'aseh Tobiah_, 42.
Macaulay, on Russian civilization, 310 (n. 6).
McCaul's _Old Paths_, 146, 211.
_Maggid Yeshu'ah_, by Lilienthal, 174-176.
Maimon, Solomon, 81-89;
quoted, 31, 60, 106;
Autobiography, 83, 88;
his philosophy, 84-87;
his contributions to the Meassef, 98;
referred to, 108, 130, 132, 192, 298.
Maimuni, commentators on his _Moreh Nebukim_, 38, 84, 89;
retranslated by Levin, 100;
his _Mishneh Torah_, translated, 186, 200;
his Hebrew style, 97.
Malak, Abraham, Hasid, 122.
Malak, Hayyim, Hasid, 65.
Manasseh ben Israel, 32;
his _Nishmat Hayyim_, 63;
his activity, 96.
Mandelkern, Solomon, rabbi, 203, 246.
Mandelstamm, Benjamin, on Lilienthal, 173;
on Vilna, 198;
and Levinsohn, 212.
Mandelstamm, Leon, graduate from University of St. Petersburg, 186, 200,
Mane, Mordecai Zebi, poet, 98.
Mann, Eliezer, "the Hebrew Socrates," 38.
Mann, Menahem, martyr, 27.
Manoah, Handel, mathematician, 38.
Mapu, Abraham, novelist, 244-245.
Margolioth, Judah Löb, rabbi, 105, 125.
Markusevich, Isaac, physician, 127.
Marx, Karl, his teachings promulgated, 256;
his name assumed, 257.
Masliansky, Zebi Hirsh, Maggid, 280.
May laws, 270-275.
Meassef, contributors to, 98-100;
referred to, 265.
_Megillah 'Afah_, 36.
Meisels, Berish, rabbi, 246.
Melammedim, in Germany, 35, 78, 80;
in Russia, 47, 294.
_Memorbuch_ of Mayence, 29.
Mendelssohn, Meyer, communal worker, 140.
Mendelssohn, Moses (Rambman, "Dessauer"), appealed to by Mitnaggedim, 75;
his contact with Russiam Jews, 76-78;
his friends and followers, 81-90, 135;
his philosophy, 88;
referred to, 92;
presumed to be author of _Sefer ha-Berit_, 102;
his translation of the Pentateuch, 78, 81, 105, 132, 133, 203;
post-Mendelssohnian period in Germany, 168;
in Russia, 192, 193;
his _Jerusalem_, 209;
his _Phaedon_, 214;
Alexander I's ideal Jew, 128;
the "Russian Mendelssohn," 213;
Smolenskin and Gottlober on, 265.
Mendlin, Jacob Wolf, socialist, 293.
Meseritz, Bär of, promoter of Hasidism, 65.
_Midrash Talpiyot_, 63.
Mielziner, Leo, on Zionist artists, 291.
Mikhailovich, Czar Aleksey, 40.
Milman, on Maimon's Autobiography, 88.
Minhagim, according to Elijah Vilna, 73-74;
according to M.A. Günzburg, 215.
Minor, Solomon Zalkind, "the Russian Jellinek," 235, 236.
Talmudists of, 34,
persecution of Hasidim in, 76;
schools in, 166-167, 292;
reception of Lilienthal in, 172, 173;
Maskilim of, 200, 201-235, 246;
referred to, 292, 293.
Mirabeau's reference to Hurwitz, 92.
Mitau, 123, 216.
Mitauer, Elias, communal worker, 140.
Mitnaggedim, opposition to Hasidism, 70, 131;
efforts of, at reconciliation with Hasidim, 120-121;
make common cause with Hasidim against Maskilim, 134, 260.
_Mnyenie_, by Dyerzhavin, 118.
Mohilev, 31, 104, 119, 128, 202.
Molo, Francisco, economist, 22.
Montefiore, Sir Moses, visits Russia, 155-157;
invited to Russia, 175;
visit of 1872 to Russia, 230;
on the pogroms, 270;
on Russo-Jewish women, 299.
Morgulis, Manasseh, litterateur, 14, 187-188.
Morschtyn, George, proselyte (?), 26.
_Mosaïde_, by Wessely, 98.
Moscow, proselytism in, 25, 26;
expulsions from, 56, 153, 271;
Jews admitted to, 111;
converts in, 177;
Russification in, 240;
restrictions in the University of, 274, 276;
referred to, 291.
Moses, martyr, 57.
Muzhiks, emancipation of, 222-223;
education of, 236-237;
restlessness of, 249-250;
socialism among, 257.
Mylich, George Gottfried, Lutheran champion of Jewish rights, 113-114.
Nachlass, Wolf, Cantonist, 139.
Napoleon, convokes the Sanhedrin, 93;
his invasion of Russia, 112, 113;
his defeat, 115-117, 128;
on Vilna, 197.
Narodnaya Volya Society, 257, 278.
Nazimov, Governor-General, champion of Jews, 201, 225.
Nebakhovich, Alexander, theatrical director, 201.
Nebakhovich, Leon (Löb), first defender of Russian Jews in Russian, 114,
Nebakhovich, Michael, editor of comic paper, 201.
Nemirov, Jehiel Michael of, scholar, 35.
Nestor's Chronicles, 20.
Nicholas I, referred to, 104, 202, 222, 229, 246, 249, 253, 260, 268, 284;
his policy, 135-160;
his recruiting, 135-139;
his colonization scheme, 140-143;
attempts at conversion of Jews, 144-147, 188;
his Exportation Law, 152-154;
his accusations refuted, 162-164;
investigates number of learned Jews, 167, 168, 198;
on Jews of Odessa, 196.
Nicholas II, referred to, 80, 192;
persecution of Jews under, 275-277.
Nieszvicz, 82, 114, 118, 127, 197.
Nisanovich, Itshe, physician, 39.
_Nishmat Hayyim_, by Manasseh ben Israel, 63.
Noah, Mordecai Manuel, statesman, 284.
Nomenclature, Russo-Jewish, 30.
Notkin, Nathan, diplomat and philanthropist, 118, 125.
Novgorod, 25, 139, 271.
Novy Israil Society, 248.
Odessa, schools in, 164, 185;
Lilienthal in, 176;
Jewish influences in, 194-197;
Talmud Torah of, 226;
Haskalah in, 233-235;
Russification of, 240, 246, 255;
assimilation in, 248;
pogromy in, 253;
referred to, 251, 292, 294, 295, 296;
Jewish women of, 299-300.
'Olam Katan, 297.
_Old Paths_, by McCaul, 146, 211.
Ostrog, 44, 206.
Pale, the Jewish, 188, 199, 271, 274.
Palestine, rehabilitation of, 13;
settlers from, in Russia, 18, 27;
longing for, 153, 283;
Smolenskin on, 263-264.
Parlovich, Arthur, physician, 126.
Patapov, Governor-General, convokes a conference, 259.
Paul I, 62, 111, 112.
Paul III, pope, 253.
Pechersky, St. Feodosi, 25.
Peretz, Abraham, diplomat, 118, 125, 130.
Peretz, Gregori, Dekabrist, 192, 249, 284.
Perl, Joseph, educator, 163, 164, 205.
Perl, S., educator, 166.
Persia, immigrants from, 19.
Peter the Great, conquers the Tatars, 54;
his attempts to civilize Russia, 56;
surrender of Riga to, 123.
_Phaedon_, by Mendelssohn, 214.
Philippson, Ludwig, rabbi, 154, 158, 175.
Phillips, Phinehas, founder of the Anglo-Jewish family, 94.
Pinczows, the, scholars, 104-105.
Pinner, Ephraim Moses, Talmudist, 145.
Pinsk, 76, 197, 202, 242.
Pinsker, Leo, nationalist, 263, 281-283.
Pinsker, Simhah, scholar, 108-109, 164, 195.
Pirogov, Nikolai Ivanovich, liberal school superintendent, 226-228.
Plehve, von, on restrictions, 302.
Plungian, Ezekiel Feiyel, Talmudist, 119, 203.
Pobyedonostsev, influences Alexander II, 250-251;
procurator of the Holy Synod, 269;
his policy regarding Jews, 270;
on Jewish superiority, 273.
Podolia, 60, 64, 69, 162, 195, 277.
Pogodin, on early Russian Jews, 19.
Pogromy, 253, 269-270.
Poimaniki, 136-138, 152, 162, 184.
Polack, Jacob, Talmudist, 72, 104.
Poland, early settlement of Jews in, 20;
political eminence of, 22-23;
proselytism in, 26;
after Chmielnicki's massacres, 53-55;
influence of Calvinism in, 56-57;
during the rozbior, 58;
after the annexation, 113;
Jewish loyalty to, 115-116;
under Nicholas I, 158-159;
use of Polish in, 196;
sympathy with, and adoption of language of, 246-247.
Polonnoy, Jacob Joseph of, follower of Besht, 65;
his _Toledot Ya'akob Yosef_ burnt in Vilna, 76;
mentioned, 122, 132.
Polotsk, 55, 95.
Poltava, 200, 239, 300.
Popes, 72, 253.
Posner, Solomon, philanthropist, 143-144.
Pototzki, Count Valentine, proselyte, 27.
Prayer book. See Book of Common Prayer.
Prelooker, Jacob, 241-242, 248.
Printing-press, permission to establish, 110;
first publications from, 124;
restrictions removed from use of, 230.
Prochovnik, Abraham, Jewish king of Poland (?), 22.
Proselytism, 18, 20, 24-28.
Public schools, admission of Jews to, 111, 118, 125;
exclusion of Jews from, 273-275.
Pumpyansky, Aaron Elijah, rabbi, 203, 246.
Pushkin's prisoner, 224.
Querido, Jacob, mystic, 64.
Rabbinical seminaries, 144-145, 165, 170, 173, 182, 196, 202-203.
Rabbis, position of, in Russo-Poland, 44-45;
required to know Russian, German, or Polish, 125;
opposed by Maskilim, 173;
Lilienthal on, 174, 181;
Günzburg on, 216-217;
dukhovny and kazyony, 295-296.
Rabinovich, Osip, litterateur, 201, 238, 243.
Rabinowitz, Joseph, assimilationist, 248.
Rachmailovich, Affras, merchant, 22.
Radziwill, Prince, 24, 39, 62.
Rapoport, Solomon Löb, rabbi, 205.
Rasiner, Israel, zaddik, 211.
Rathaus, Abraham, merchant, 200.
Razsvyet, 238, 243-244, 286.
Reform Judaism, and the Haskalah, 242-248;
sermons in Russian, 246;
Smolenskin on, 264-265.
Reform synagogues, in Odessa, 196;
in Warsaw, 197;
in Vilna, 198.
Reines, Isaac Jacob, rabbi, 295.
Reis, Joseph, grandfather of Wessely, 77.
Revolutionaries, 192, 248-251, 255-258.
Riesser, Gabriel, champion of Jewish emancipation, 78.
Riga, 123, 164, 170, 180, 185, 195, 197, 225, 246, 271.
Risenci, Jonathan of, rabbi, 104.
Rivkes, Moses, commentator, 34.
Romm, Menahem Mann, publisher, 148-149.
Rosensohn, Joseph, rabbi, 127.
Rosensohn, Moses, reformer, 247.
Rosenthal, Leon, financier, 200, 237-238.
Rothschild, Baron Edmund de, 288.
Rurik, Varangian prince, 19.
Russia, Haskalah in, contrasted with Haskalah in Galicia and Germany, 12;
arrival of German Jews in, 18;
antiquity of Jews in, 19;
privileges of Jews in, 21;
Jewish envoys to, 22;
mentioned by medieval scholars, 28-29;
Sefardim and Ashkenazim resort to, 33-34;
scientists in, 37-39;
physicians in, 39-42;
status of Jews of, before Chmielnicki's uprising, 42-45;
Jewish self-government, school system, and mode of living in, 45-52;
under Ivan the Terrible, 55-56;
under Peter the Great, 56;
under Elizabeta Petrovna, 57;
state of civilization of, 60, 107;
favorable conditions in, under Catherine II, Paul I, and Alexander I,
Jewish patriotism toward, under Alexander I, 117;
Russification of Jews of, 124-125;
opposition to Haskalah in, 133 f.;
Jewish colonization in, 140-144;
crusade against the Talmud in, 145-147;
opinions of prominent Gentiles on Jews of, 162, 224-225;
literature and civilization of, under Nicholas I, 189-190;
under Alexander II, 222-226;
Jewish contribution to civilization of, 201-202, 255;
sermons in, 246;
defenders of Jews in, 302-303;
Macaulay on civilization of, 310 (n. 6).
Sack, Hayyim, financier, 200.
Sackheim, Joseph, merchant, 200.
_Safah Berurah_, by Hannover, 39.
St. Petersburg, Imperial Hermitage in, 19;
scene of martyrdom, 57;
referred to, 91, 104, 267, 276, 286, 300;
Jews permitted in, 111, 117, 126;
expelled from, 128, 153, 271;
deputation to, 129;
rabbinical conferences, 151, 173, 174-176, 230;
converts in, 177;
first graduate of University of, 200;
restriction of students in, 274;
Russification in, 240;
revolutionaries at, 258.
Salanter, Israel, rabbi, 241.
Samuel ben Avigdor, rabbi, 79.
Samuel ben Mattathias, Talmudist, 40.
Sanchez, Antonio Ribeiro, physician, 57.
Sanhedrin, the, and French Russian Jews, 93.
Satanov, Isaac Halevi, litterateur, 99, 217.
Schapira, Moses, publisher, 148.
Schapiro, Constantin, poet, 98.
Schechter, Solomon, on Hasidism, 69.
Schick, Baruch (Shklover), scientist, 94, 96, 105-106, 119, 125.
Schiller, on Maimon, 89;
referred to, 192.
Schools, secular, 163-165, 182-185, 195-196, 227-228, 229, 235, 239,
253, 273-274, 276-277, 290-292, 297.
_Sefer ha-Berit_, 102.
Seiberling, Joseph, censor of Hebrew books, 200.
Shabbataï Zebi, pseudo-Messiah, 64, 69.
Shalkovich, Abraham Lob (Ben Avigdor), 296.
Shatzkes' _Ha-Mafteah_, 244.
Shavli, Moses of, writer of polemics, 36.
_Shibhe ha-Besht_, 123, 134.
Shklov, 105, 124.
Shkud, Mikel of, rabbi, 61.
Shneersohn, Menahem Mendel, zaddik, 175, 176.
Shmoilovich, Abraham, merchant, 22.
_Shulhan 'Aruk_, commentators on, 34, 36;
its effect on Jewish life, 73;
Elijah Vilna on, 74;
criticism of, 123;
annotations to, 127;
referred to, 215.
Siberia, 140-143, 160.
_Sin'at 'Olam le-'Am 'Olam_, 280-281.
Sixtus V, pope, 72.
_Skazanye O Florye Rimlyaninye_, by Korolenko, 302.
Skripitzyn's _Information about the Killing of Christians_, etc., 229.
Slonim, Samson of, rabbi, 106.
Slonimsky, Hayyim Selig, inventor and editor, 199, 200, 201-202, 203.
Slutsk, 76, 105, 202.
"Slutsker Maggid, the," 246.
Smolensk, 21, 162.
Smolenskin, Perez, and Haskalah, 13;
his descriptions of the heder and yeshibah, 50, 266;
his life, 261-267;
his conception of Haskalah, 261;
on nationalism, 262-263, 284;
on reformers, 264-265;
attacks Mendelssohn, 265;
on the prophetic consciousness of the Jewish masses, 266-267;
his popularity, 267;
organizes the Kadimah, 285;
opposes the Alliance Israélite Universelle, 285.
Sobieski, John, 39.
Society for the Promotion of Haskalah among the Russian Jews, 237-239,
246, 252, 291-292.
Sofer, Moses, rabbi, 133.
Sofer, Shabbataï, rabbi, 36.
Sokolov, Nahum, publicist, 280.
Sosima, monkish proselyte, 26.
Spector, Isaac Elhanan, rabbi, 288.
Speir, Bima, of Mohilev, opponent of Frank, 104.
Spinoza and Maimon compared, 86, 88.
Stern, Abraham Jacob, inventor, 201.
Stern, Bezalel (Basilius), pedagogue, 164, 165, 175, 176.
Strashun, Mattathias, Talmudist, 203.
Surovyetsky, on Russian Jews, 162, 318 (n. 1).
Switzerland, 257, 298, 299, 300.
_Talmud, Der, in seiner Nichtigkeit_, by Buchner, 146.
Talmud, the, the study of, 31, 71-72;
burnt in public, 70;
customs of, according to Elijah Gaon, 74;
attacks on, 145-147, 170, 242-248;
published in Russia, 147-149;
neglected in Germany, 168.
Talmud Torah, the, 47, 184.
Talmudists, ancient Russo-Jewish, 28-30;
opposed by Hasidism, 66;
in Vilna, 197-198.
Tarnopol, on Russo-Jewish women, 299-300.
Taz, David, rabbi, 34.
Temkin's _Derek Salulah_, 146.
_Te'udah be-Yisraël_, by Levinsohn, 205-207, 209, 210, 212.
_Toledot Ya'akob Yosef_, by Jacob Joseph Polonnoy, 65.
Tolstoi, 245, 250, 302.
Troki, city, 22.
Troki, Abraham, author and physician, 39.
Troki, Isaac ben Abraham, Karaite scholar, 36.
Turgenief, on Russia, 224;
his Zhid, 224;
referred to, 245, 250;
on Alexander II, 251;
his _Virgin Soil_, and _Fathers and Sons_, 257;
his Lithuanian Jewish character, 259-260.
Tushiyah Society, 296-297.
Ukraine, the, Jewish community in, 20;
famous for scholars, 35-36;
Jewish self-government in, 44;
expulsions from, 56-57;
state of morality in, 64;
Hasidism in, 69, 122;
first school in, 164.
Uman, 59, 164.
United States, the, 158, 220, 270, 283.
Uvarov, on persecution, 155, 302;
on "re-education," 171, 174, 175, 182.
Vassile Lupu, hospodar of Moldavia, 40.
Vassilyevich, Ivan, 23, 26.
Vernacular, the, 18, 29, 30-31, 38, 188, 194, 255.
Vilna, scene of martyrdom, 27;
Talmudists of, 34;
kahal of, 62;
persecution of Hasidim, 76;
the last rabbi of, 79;
notables of, 91, 92, 124, 150;
first graduates from University of, 126-127;
opposition to Haskalah in, 133;
first publication of the Talmud in, 148-149;
first assembly of Maskilim in, 165;
innovations in, 166;
reception of Lilienthal in, 172, 173;
rabbinical seminary at, 175, 186, 202;
yeshibot of, 197;
Haskalah in, 198, 200, 206, 246;
champions of Jews in, 225;
referred to, 230, 292, 295.
_Virgin Soil_, by Turgenief, 257.
Vital, Hayyim, Cabbalist, 103, 134.
Vitebsk, 128, 202, 292.
Vitebsk, Menahem Mendel of, zaddik, on Haskalah, 135.
Vladimir, grand duke, 20.
Volhynia, jurisdiction over, 44;
massacres in, 60;
Hasidism in, 69, 81, 104;
first complete edition of the Talmud published in, 148;
referred to, 162, 195;
blood accusations in, 208.
Volozhin, Hayyim, dean, 135, 150-151, 175, 176.
Volozhin, Isaac of, dean, 151.
Volozhin, yeshibah of, 150-152, 245, 295.
Vosnitzin, Captain, martyr, 27, 57.
Wahl, Saul, Jewish Polish king (?), 22.
Warsaw, Jewish community in, 20;
persecution in, 58;
protest at, 62;
defended by Jewish soldiers, 115;
first Yiddish paper in, 124;
rabbinic college of, 144-145, 170, 202;
censor in, 148;
condition of, 159;
German influence in, 196;
Maskilim of, 202, 206, 246;
referred to, 286.
Way, Lewis, English missionary, 129-130, 144.
Weigel, Katharina, proselyte, 27.
Wengeroff's _Memoirs_, 163;
on Russo-Jewish women, 300.
Wessely, Naphtali Hartwig, quoted, 38;
course of study prescribed by, 75;
his ancestry, 77;
his opinion on Russo-Jewish students, 80, 92, 108;
his _Mosaïde_, 98;
his _Yen Lebanon_, 105;
his Epistles and _Yen Lebanon_ banned, 132, 133, 192.
_What to Do_, by Chernichevsky, 257.
White, on Jewish farmers, 288.
Wissotzky, Kalonymos, philanthropist, 292.
Wohl, censor of Hebrew books, 252, 294.
Wolf, Levy, jurist, 126.
Wolff's _Metaphysics_, 84-86;
_Mathematics_, 90, 108.
Wolper, Michael, educator, 294.
Women's education, 45-46, 253, 258, 259, 276, 296, 299-301.
_Words of Peace and Truth_, by Wessely, 75.
Workingmen, Russo-Jewish, 163, 293-294, 318 (n. 2).
Yankele Kovner. See Barit, Jacob.
Yaroslav, fair of, 49.
Yaroslav, Aaron, friend of Mendelssohn, 81.
Yavan, Baruch, diplomat, 104.
Yelisavetgrad, 247, 269, 292.
_Yen Lebanon_, by Wessely, 105, 132, 133, 192.
Yeshibat 'Ez Hayyim, 150-152, 175, 184, 254.
Yeshibot, 32, 46-49, 168.
_Yeven Mezulah_, by Hannover, 48-49.
Yiddish, as spoken by Russian Jews, 38;
first used for secular instruction, 100-101, 124;
first weekly in, 123, 196;
studied for missionary purposes, 145;
employed by Maskilim, 167, 232;
by Zionists, 286.
Zabludovsky, Jehiel Michael, Talmudist, 199.
Zacharias, monkish proselyte, 26.
Zacharias of Kiev, missionary, 25.
Zaddikim, 66, 122, 220.
Zamoscz, city, 90, 202.
Zamoscz, Israel Moses Halevi, instructor of Mendelssohn, 77, 90, 195.
Zamoscz, Reuben of, quoted, 80.
Zamoscz, Solomon of, liturgical poet, 35.
Zangwill, on Maimon, 88;
referred to, 297.
Zaremba, proselyte, 27.
Zaslav, fair of, 49;
blood accusation in, 208.
Zaslaver, Jacob, Massorite, 36.
Zbitkover, Samuel, financier, 116.
Zederbaum, Alexander, publisher, 288.
Zeitlin, Joshua, financier, 118-119.
_Zeker Rab_, 124.
Zelmele, Talmudist, 119-120.
_Zerubbabel_, by Levinsohn, 210-212, 213.
Zhagory, 200, 202.
Zhitomir, rabbinical seminary at, 175, 186, 197, 202, 248;
printing-press in, 230;
trade school in, 235;
Evening and Sabbath schools in, 239.
Zionism, 267, 284-287:
difficulties of, 287-288;
effect of, 289-291.
_Zohar_, 63, 134.
Zunser, Eliakum, badhan, on Alexander II, 231;
on Orthodoxy, 240-241;
on the "intelligentia," 278;
on Zionism, 290;
on the awakening, 324-327 (n. 27).
The Lord Baltimore Press
Baltimore, Md., U.S.A.
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