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SOME ASPECTS OF 
RABBINIC THEOLOGY 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

STUDIES IN JUDAISM 

SECOND SERIES 

Laror Crown 8vo, Cloth, Prick 7s. 6d. nrt 

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SOME ASPECTS OE 

RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

BY 

S. SCHECHTER, M.A., Litt.D. (Cantab.) 


LONDON 

ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK 
1909 



Kotisootf iprtsfl 

J. S. Cushing Co. — Berwick k. Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass,, U.8.A. 



LOUIS MARSHALL, ESQUIRE 
JEW AND AMERICAN 




PREFACE 


The contents of this book have grown out of a 
course of lectures delivered at various learned centres, 
and a series of essays published in the Jewish Quar^ 
terly Review, These essays began to appear in the 
year 1894. They attracted some notice, and were 
utilised by several writers on theological subjects, 
both with and without due acknowledgment. They 
are now presented to the public in an expanded form, 
revised and corrected, and increased by new chapters 
and other additional matter, amounting to about half 
of the bulk of this volume. 

The first chapter, which is introductory, offers the 
reader a fair notion of the nature of our subject as 
conceived by the author, the point of view from which 
he approaches it, the inherent difficulties in its treat- 
ment, and the manner in which he has tried to accom- 
plish his task. Yet a few supplementary remarks 
seem to be necessary. 

This volume represents no philosophic exposition 
of the body of doctrine of the Synagogue, nor does 
it offer a description of its system of ethics. Both 
the philosophy of the Synagogue and its ethics have 
been treated in various works by competent scholars 
belonging to different schools of thought. The main 
aim of such works is, however, as it would seem, 

vii 



viii 


PREFACE 


interpretation, more often re-interpretation. The 
object of the following pages is a different one. The 
task I set myself was to give a presentation of Rab- 
binic opinion on a number of theological topics as 
offered by the Rabbinic literature, and forming an 
integral part of the religious consciousness of the 
bulk of the nation or “Catholic Israel.” 

Keeping this end in view, I considered it advisable 
not to intrude too much interpretation or paraphrase 
upon the Rabbis. I let them have their own say in 
their own words, and even their own phraseology, so 
far as the English idiom allowed. My work con- 
sisted in gathering the materials distributed all over 
the wide domain of Rabbinic literature, classifying, 
sifting, and arranging them, and also in ascertaining 
clearly and stating in simple, direct terms th« doc- 
trines and theological concepts that they involved, 
in such a manner as to convey to the student a clear 
notion of the Rabbinic opinion of the doctrine under 
discussion. In cases where opinion differed, the 
varying views were produced, and so were inconsist- 
encies pointed out, stating, however, when there was 
sufficient authority for doing so, what the prevailing 
opinion in the Synagogue was. Where such author- 
ity was lacking, it was assumed that the Synagogue 
allowed both opinions to stand, neither opinion con- 
taining the whole truth, and being in need of qualifi- 
cations by the opposite opinion. 

On the other hand, I made little use of such matter 
as may be described as mere legend and fancy, fall- 



PREFACE 


ix 


ing within the province of folk-lore and apocalypse 
rather than belonging to the domain of theology. 
These represent the chaff, an inevitable growth in 
the field of religion. Now and then a grain of truth 
may be detected in it, but as a rule the chaff serves 
more often to hide the grain of truth from sight. To 
the practised eye of the student, such passages appear 
as “ theological curiosities,” either heedlessly repeated 
or surreptitiously inserted in the text. The works in 
which this chaff grew most exuberantly have a strong 
family likeness with certain Pseudepigrapha, which 
were a product, not of the Synagogue, but of the vari- 
ous sects hovering on the borderland of Judaism, on 
which they may have left some mark by a few stray 
passages finding their way even into the older Rab- 
binic literature. The Hebrew works, however, which 
are especially conspicuous for the affinity of their 
contents or the larger part of their contents with 
those Pseudepigrapha, are of a later date. They 
make their appearance under disguise, betraying suffi- 
ciently their origin by their bewildering contents as 
well as by their anachronisms. They were admitted 
into the Synagogue only under protest, so to speak. 
The authorities seem to have been baffled, some dis- 
owning them, whilst others are overawed by their 
very strangeness and apologise for their existence, — 
or, reinterpret them. The writings are thus of little 
help to the student of Rabbinic opinion, though they 
may be of service to the worker on the field of the 
Pseudepigrapha. 



X 


PREFACE 


As really representative of such opinion, we can 
only take into account the Talmudic and the recog- 
nised Midrashic literature, or the “ great Midrashim.” 
But even in these authoritative works we have first to 
separate all that is stray and peculiar of the nature 
just indicated, and to eliminate a great deal of polemi- 
cal matter only uttered under provocation in the heat 
of controversy, and to subject the whole of it to the 
test of the religious consciousness of Israel. 

This literature covers, as stated elsewhere, many 
centuries, and was produced in widely differing climes 
amid varying surroundings and ever-changing con- 
ditions, and was interrupted several times by great 
national catastrophes and by the rise of all sorts of 
sects and schisms. 

This last circumstance — besides being productive 
of bitter polemics, as just hinted at — could not fail 
to create new “theological values,” as the modern 
phrase is, leading, for instance, to the emphasis upon 
the significance of the Law and even the Oral Law 
and other doctrinal points, which, though questioned 
by none, were never before stated with such distinct- 
ness and in such a challenging manner. 

The influence of the historic events may perhaps 
be best illustrated by the literature bearing upon the 
belief in the advent of the Messiah. Whatever doubt 
there may be as to the high antiquity of this doc- 
trine or as to the varying phases it passed through 
in the early stages of its history, no such uncertainty 
prevails as to the opinion held by the Rabbis with 



PREFACE 


xi 


regard to it. This opinion can easily be ascertained 
from Rabbinic literature, which permits of no doubt 
that the belief in the advent of the Messiah in its 
general and main features was a firmly established 
doctrine of Rabbinic Judaism. The main outlines 
are given by Scripture and tradition, but it is history 
which furnishes the details. These appear sometimes 
in the form of apocalypses, reflecting the events of 
their age, whilst the prolonged suffering of Israel, 
and the brooding of the nation over the wrongs in- 
flicted upon the people of God, have the unfortunate 
result that fancy and imagination busy themselves 
more with the anti-Messiah and the punishment 
awaiting him than with the Messiah and the bliss 
coming in his wake. To such an extent does this 
proceed that in some of these apocalypses the uni- 
versalistic features of the Kingdom are almost ob- 
scured, although, in truth, Israel never abandoned 
them even amidst the worst distress. 

Notwithstanding, however, all these excrescences 
which historic events contributed towards certain be- 
liefs and the necessary mutations and changes of 
aspects involved in them, it should be noted that 
Rabbinic literature is, as far as doctrine and dogma 
are concerned, more distinguished by the consensus 
of opinion than by its dissensions. On the whole, 
it may safely be maintained that there is little in the 
dogmatic teachings of the Palestinian authorities of 
the first and second centuries to which, for instance, 
R. Ashi of the fifth and even R. Sherira of the tenth 



xii 


PREFACE 


century, both leaders of Rabbinic opinion in Babylon, 
would have refused their consent, though the em- 
phasis put on the one or the other doctrine may have 
differed widely as a result of changed conditions and 
surroundings. On the other hand, a careful study 
of the Agadic sayings, for instance, of R. Akiba and 
R. Meir of the second century, will sufficiently prove 
that there is little or nothing in the dicta of these 
great teachers which would have prevented them from 
subscribing to the same general theological beliefs 
that inspired the homilies contained in the Seder 
Elijah and the Agadath Bereshith compiled in the 
seventh or in the eighth century, if not much later. 
Indeed, many statements in these books appearing 
at the first glance as new can often be traced as mere 
amplifications of teachings occurring in some older 
collection of the second and third century in a less 
diffuse form. 

It was in view of this fact that I did not consider 
it necessary to provide the quotations given from the 
Talmud and the Midrash with the date of their 
authors, assuming that as long as there is no evi- 
dence that they are in contradiction to some older or 
even contemporary opinion they may be regarded as 
expressive of the general opinion of the Synagogue. 
Such a treatment of the subject was, I thought, the 
more justified as it did not lie within the scope of this 
work to furnish the student with a history of Rabbinic 
theology, but rather, as already indicated, to give 
some comprehensive view of a group of theological 



PREFACE 


xiii 


subjects as thought out and taught by the Synagogue. 
It should be remembered that the field lay entirely 
barren until a comparatively recent date. Indeed, 
when I began to write on the subject there did not 
exist a single book or even essay from which I could 
derive any instruction or which could serve me as a 
model in the conception and construction of the work. 
Conditions have since considerably improved, and 
I have had occasion in the course of this book to 
gratefully refer to those who have rendered substan- 
tial contributions to this subject. With the great 
lack of preliminary studies and the absence of mono- 
graphs on subjects of Rabbinic theology, a history 
of its development would thus be premature. Not 
only will the whole of the Agadic literature as well 
as the Targumin have to be carefully studied, but the 
Halachah also will have to be consulted, for this was 
very sensitive to all shades and changes in theological 
opinion, and in many cases reverberates with it. But 
what is mainly needed are good treatises on individual 
doctrines and theological terms based on primary 
sources and giving the necessary attention to detail. 

The legitimate successors of the Talmud and the 
Midrash are the legal codices and the works of edifi- 
cation known as Books of Discipline {Sifre Mussar) 
of the Middle Ages, constituting the Halachah and 
the Agadah of post-Talmudic Judaism. Not only 
do they restore to us occasionally passages from 
ancient Rabbinic collections now lost to us, but they 
afford us some insight into the workings of Rabbinic 



xiv 


PREFACE 


opinion after Israel had, through the medium of the 
Arabic vernacular, been brought into contact with 
Greek thought, or what professed to be Greek thought, 
of different schools and had, for the first time per- 
haps, become really conscious of the obstacles on the 
path of belief. A few extracts from this literature are 
sometimes given in the text by way of illustration. 

As a treasure-house of “ theological sentiment,” we 
may regard the Piyutim, or the hymnological litera- 
ture of the mediaeval Synagogue, aptly described 
sometimes as a continuation or development of the 
Psalms and the ancient liturgy of the Synagogue, 
Nowhere, perhaps, are the teachings of the Syna- 
gogue in reference to the close relations between God 
and Israel and the permanency of the Covenant with 
the Fathers expressed with greater conviction and 
more depth than in the hymns recited in the Sabbaths 
between the Passover and the Feast of Weeks, 
Again, the doctrines as to the meaning of sin in its 
aspect of rebellion and its terrible consequences, the 
efficacy of repentance, and the helplessness of man 
to obtain pardon and reconciliation without assistance 
from heaven — all these doctrines receive nowhere 
a more emphatic expression both in strains of the 
most exalted joy and of the deepest humiliation than 
in the mediaeval Synagogue compositions for the 
Penitential Days, especially for the Day of Atone- 
ment, This will be found to be the case with other 
doctrines, such as the inspiration of the Scriptures, 
the significance of the Commandments as a saving 



PREFACE 


XV 


factor, which forms the theme of the Synagogue 
poetry for the Feast of Weeks, or the doctrine of the 
advent of the Messiah, and the restoration of Israel 
to the Holy Land, which constitutes the subject 
of elegies for the Ninth of Ab and the Consolation 
Sabbaths succeeding it. 

It is true that these poetical compositions cannot 
be considered as representative of universal Rabbinic 
opinion, in the same measure as the Talmud and the 
Midrash. To a certain extent they enjoyed only 
local authority, each country having in addition to the 
common Prayer Book a liturgical collection of its 
own. The ritual of the Spanish Jews, for instance, 
contains but few compositions emanating from the 
Franco-German School, or even from their earlier 
models written in Palestine and Babylon. It is dis- 
tinguished by the simplicity of its diction and its 
symmetrical form. It is, further, less cumulative of 
its epithets of the Deity, and is sparing in allusions 
to the Talmud and Midrash, whilst there is in it but 
a minimum of Angelology, which forms such a 
prominent feature in the sacred poetry of other 
schools, reflecting unmistakably the influence of the 
Chapters of the Chambers and similar mystical pro- 
ductions. 

Such differences, however, vital as they may appear 
to the metaphysician, affect but slightly the main 
features of such doctrines as are above referred to 
and are discussed in the course of these pages. In 
these the consensus of opinion was maintained 



xvi 


PREFACE 


even after Aristotle became the sage of Jewish litera- 
ture and the wisdom of the Greeks was discovered 
to be “bordering on the path of the faith.” Nor 
could it be otherwise. Starting from the same 
premises, such as the inspiration of the Scriptures, 
their binding authority upon every Jew, and fully 
admitting the claim of the Rabbis to be the only 
legitimate interpreters of these Scriptures, — much 
as the various schools differed in their definition of 
inspiration and in their method of eliminating isolated 
Rabbinic opinion, — and sharing in the same hope of 
the nation as it found expression in the. doctrine of 
the advent of the Messiah, — much as they differed 
in the description of his person and the miraculous 
details accompanying his appearance, — they could 
not but arrive at the same general conclusions. Prac- 
tically, they only differed to agree in the end. It was 
only in this way that it came to pass that Maimonides’ 
resumd of the Creed became soon the object of 
numberless hymns accepted by the Synagogue at 
large, and even mystics wrote commentaries to it; 
whilst there were very few — perhaps none — of the 
rationalising school who would have had any scruples 
to read their prayers from the common Prayer Book 
used in Germany or France. If it was not exactly 
uniformity, the unity of Israel was well maintained 
— “ union of doctrines, of precepts, of promises.” 

It is one of the most interesting of religious phe- 
nomena to observe the essential unity that the Syna- 
gogue maintained, despite all antagonistic influences. 



PREFACE 


xvii 


Dispersed among the nations, without a national 
centre, without a synod to formulate its principles, 
or any secular power to enforce its decrees, the Syna- 
gogue found its home and harmony in the heart of 
a loyal and consecrated Israel. 

There was no school of thought to which it was 
not exposed, no great philosophic or spiritual influ- 
ence which did not reach into its life and is not re- 
flected in its development. These foreign-born ideas 
were all thoroughly assimilated by the Synagogue, 
and mingled even with its devotion and contemplation. 
The hymn, “ Royal Crown,” by R. Solomon b. Gabi- 
rol, in the Spanish ritual, and the “Song of Unity,” 
in the German ritual, both recited on the Day of 
Atonement, are sufficient evidence of this fact, apart 
from some customs and usages of non-Jewish origin, 
which were thoroughly converted to Judaism by the 
Synagogue in the process of time. Having gained 
an entrance by a process of natural selection and 
unconscious absorption, the power of Judaism was 
manifested in its obliteration of all that was strange 
and objectionable in such accretions, so strong were 
its digestive powers. But equally, the vitality of the 
Synagogue was manifested in what it eliminated and 
rejected as inconsistent with its existence. Whenever 
any influence, no matter by whom advanced or by 
whatever power maintained, developed a tendency that 
was contrary to a strict monotheism, or denied the 
binding character of the Torah, or aimed to destroy 
the unity and character and calling of Israel, although 



XVlll 


PREFACE 


it may have gained currency for a time, the Syna- 
gogue finally succeeded in eliminating it as noxious 
to its very existence. 

It is this body of Israel in which the unity of the 
Synagogue was and is still incorporate that I called 
occasionally as witness in some cases of religious 
sentiment wholly unknown to the outsider. I may 
as well state here that it was my knowledge of this 
Israel which gave the first impulse to these essays. 
Having been brought up among Jews who did live 
under the strict discipline of the Law and were almost 
exclusively nurtured on the spiritual food of the 
Talmud and Midrashim, and having had occasion 
thus to observe them for many years, both in their 
religious joys and in their religious sorrows, I felt 
quite bewildered at the theological picture drawn of 
Rabbinic Judaism by so many writers. I could not 
but doubt their statements and question their con- 
clusions. These doubts were expressed to friends, 
who were at once affected more or less by my seep 
tical attitude and urged me to write down my thoughts 
on the subject, which in the course of time took shape 
in essays and lectures. The reader will, therefore, 
pardon if, in addition to the written evidence, I 
appeal also in a few cases to living testimony. 

The foregoing remarks will suffice to prepare the 
reader for what he has to expect from this book and 
in what he will be disappointed. I have also pre- 
pared him for my point of view, which is further 
developed in the body of the book. I have only to 



PREFACE 


xix 


warn the reader that this volume is by no means 
exhaustive of Rabbinic opinion on all theological 
subjects dealt with in Rabbinic literature. This book 
represents only some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology. 
Some doctrines, such as, for instance, Immortality, 
Resurrection, were only slightly touched upon ; whilst 
others, as the Eschatology of the Rabbis with regard 
to the Day of Judgement, Eternal Punishment, and 
similar topics, hardly found any place in this volume. 
The guiding motive in the choice of subjects was in 
general a selection of those large and important prin- 
ciples in which Rabbinic thought and Israel's faith 
were most clearly represented and which I found 
were most in need of elucidation, because so often 
misunderstood and misinterpreted. If God gives me 
life and strength, I may perhaps one day write more 
aspects of Rabbinic theology. 

As to the nature of the literature with which I had 
to deal, the reader will find the necessary information 
about it in the Introductory Chapter. I desire only 
to add that I did not wish to multiply references in 
my Notes when the additional references brought 
no further information with them. Both the Talmud 
and the Midrashim are now provided on the mar- 
gin or the foot of the page with ample references to 
parallel passages, and the student who is anxious 
to farther pursue the subject can easily turn to the 
original sources with the aid of the references given 
in the Notes. I have also purposely avoided in my 
transliteration of Hebrew words or names all bewil- 



XX 


PREFACE 


dering devices for representing the actual sound of 
the word, contenting myself with the ordinary Roman 
alphabet, in spite of its shortcomings. 

In conclusion, I wish to thank Dr. Alexander Marx, 
Professor of History in the Jewish Theological Semi- 
nary of America, who prepared the list of Abbrevia- 
tions for me. I am also indebted to Mr. Joseph B. 
Abrahams, Clerk of the Seminary office, who was 
always at my call during the progress of this work. 
I can further hardly express sufficiently my obliga- 
tions to my friend Rabbi Charles Isaiah Hoffman, 
of Newark, N.J., for his painstaking reading of the 
proofs and for ever so many helpful suggestions, by 
which this volume has profited. And last, but not 
least, I have to record my special obligations to my 
friend. Miss Henrietta Szold, who likewise read the 
proof, and made many a valuable suggestion. I am 
particularly grateful to her for the excellent Index 
she has prepared to this work, which will, I am con- 
vinced, be appreciated by every reader of this volume. 


s. s. 



CONTENTS 


CHAPTER PAGE 

1 . Introductory i 

II. God and the World 21 

III. God and Israel 46 

IV. Election of Israel 57 

V. The Kingdom of God (Invisible) ... 65 

VI. The Visible Kingdom (Universal) . . 80 

VII. The Kingdom of God (National) . . 97 

VIII. The ^^Law’’ 116 

IX. The Law as personified in the Literature 127 

X. The Torah in its Aspect of Law (Miz- 

woth) 138 

XI. The Joy of the Law 148 

XIL The Zachuth of the Fathers. Imputed 

Righteousness and Imputed Sin . .170 

XIIL The Law of Holiness and the Law of 

Goodness 199 

XIV. Sin as Rebellion 219 

XV. The Evil Yezer: the Source of Rebellion 242 

XVI. Man’s Victory by the Grace of God, over 

THE Evil Yezer created by God . . 264 

XVI I . Forgiveness and Reconciliation with God 293 


XXI 



xxii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XVIII. Repentance: Means of Reconciliation . 313 

Additions and Corrections 345 

List of Abbreviations and Books not quoted with 


Full Title 349 

Index 353 



SOME ASPECTS OF 
RABBINIC THEOLOGY 




SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC 
THEOLOGY 


I 

INTRODUCTORY 

My object in choosing the title “Some Aspects of 
Rabbinic Theology’^ is to indicate that from the follow- 
ing chapters there must not be expected either finality 
or completeness. Nor will there be made any attempt 
in the following pages at that precise and system- 
atic treatment which we are rightly accustomed to 
claim in other fields of scientific inquiry. I have often 
marvelled at the certainty and confidence with which 
Jewish legalism, Jewish transcendentalism, Jewish 
self-righteousness, arc delineated in our theological 
manuals and histories of religion; but I have never 
been able to emulate either quality. I have rather 
found, when approaching the subject a little closer, 
that the peculiar mode of old Jewish thought, as well 
as the unsatisfactory state of the documents in which 
this thought is preserved, “are against the certain,’’ 
and urge upon the student caution and sobriety. In 
these introductory paragraphs I shall try to give some 
notion of the difficulties that lie before us. 

To begin with the difficulties attaching to the un- 


B 


I 



2 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


satisfactory state of Rabbinic documents. A promi- 
nent theologian has, when referring to the Rabbis, 
declared that one has only to study the Mishnah to 
see that it was not moral or spiritual subjects which 
engrossed their attention, but the characteristic hair- 
splitting about ceremonial trifles. There is an appear- 
ance of truth in this statement. The Mishnah, which 
was compiled about the beginning of the third century 
of the C.E., consists of sixty-one (or sixty-three) trac- 
tates, of which only one, known by the title of “The 
Chapters of the Fathers,” deals with moral and spirit- 
ual matters in the narrower sense of these terms. Still 
this is not the whole truth, for there are also other 
tractates, occupying about one-third of the whole 
Mishnah, which deal with the civil law, the procedure 
of the criminal courts, the regulation of inheritance, 
laws regarding property, the administration of oaths, 
marriage, and divorce. All these topics, and many sim- 
ilar ones relating to public justice and the welfare of 
the community as the Rabbis understood it, are certainly 
not to be branded as ceremonial trifles; and if the 
kingdom of God on earth means something more than 
the mystical languor of the individual, it is difficult to 
see on what ground they can be excluded from the 
sphere of religion. But, apart from this consideration 
— for it seems that theologians are not yet agreed in 
their answer to the question whether it is this world, 
with all its wants and complications, which should be 
the subject for redemption, or the individual soul, with 



INTRODUCTORY 


3 


its real and imaginary longings — there runs, parallel 
with this Mishnah, a vast literature, known under the 
name of Agadah, scattered over a multitude of Tal- 
mudical and Midrashic works, the earliest of which 
were compiled even before or about the time of the 
Mishnah, and the latest of which, while going down 
as far as the tenth or even the eleventh century, still 
include many ancient elements of Rabbinic thought. 
In these compilations it will be found that the minds 
of the so-called triflers were engrossed also with such 
subjects as God, and man’s relation to God ; as right- 
eousness and sin, and the origin of evil; as suffering 
and repentance and immortality; as the election of 
Israel, Messianic aspirations, and with many other cog- 
nate subjects lying well within the moral and spiritual 
sphere, and no less interesting to the theologian than to 
the philosopher. 

It is these Talmudic and Midrashic works, to which 
I should like to add at once the older Jewish liturgy, 
which will be one of the main sources of the material 
for the following chapters. Now I do not want to 
enter here into bibliographical details, which may be 
found in any good history of Jewish literature. But 
it may have been noticed that I spoke of “compila- 
tions”; and here a difficulty comes in. For a com- 
pilation presupposes the existence of other works, 
of which the compiler makes use. Thus there must 
have been some Rabbinic work or works composed 
long before our Mishnah, and perhaps as early as 



4 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

30 c.E.^ This work, or collection, would clearly have 
provided a better means for a true understanding of 
the period when Rabbinism was still in an earlier stage 
of its formation, than our present Mishnah of 200 c.E. 
Is it not just possible that many a theological feature, 
characteristic of the earlier Rabbis, found no place 
in the Mishnah, either because of its special design or 
through the carelessness or fancy of its compiler, or 
through some dogmatic consideration unknown to us? 
Is it not likely that the teaching of the Apostle Paul, the 
antinomian consequences of which became so manifest 
during the second century, brought about a growing 
prejudice against all allegoric explanations of the 
Scriptures,^ or that the authorities refused to give them 
a prominent place in the Mishnah, which was intended 
by its compiler to become the great depository of the 
Oral Law? But whatever the cause, the effect is that 
we are almost entirely deprived of any real contempo- 
rary evidence from the most important period in the 
history of Rabbinic theology. The Psalms of Solomon 
may, for want of a better title, be characterized as the 
Psalms of the Pharisees; but to derive from them a 
Rabbinic theology is simply absurd. They have not 

^ See D. Hoffmann, Magazin fur die Wissenschaft des fudenthums 
(Berlin), 8, p. 170. 

2 See the of R. Eleazar b. Jose of Galilee, where we read 

that the Mashal (allegoric interpretation) was only used in the Prophets 
and in the Hagiographa, “ but the words of the Torah and command- 
ments thou must not interpret them as MashalP Cf. Bacher, Termi- 
nologies I 122, 



INTRODUCTORY 


s 


left the least trace in Jewish literature, and it is most 
probable that none of the great authorities we are ac- 
quainted with in the Talmud had ever read a single line 
of them, or even had heard their name. The same is 
the case with other Apocryphal and Apocalyptic works, 
for which Rabbinism is often made responsible. How- 
ever strange it may seem, the fact remains that whilst 
these writings left a lasting impress on Christianity, 
they contributed — with the exception, perhaps, of the 
Book of Ecclesiasticus — little or nothing towards the 
formation of Rabbinic thought. The Rabbis were 
either wholly ignorant of their very existence, or stig- 
matised them as fabulous, or “external” (a milder ex- 
pression in some cases for heretical), and thus allowed 
them to exert no permanent influence upon Judaism. 

Passing from the Mishnah to the Talmud proper 
(the Gemara) and to the Midrash, the same fact meets 
us again. They, too, are only compilations, and from 
the defects of this, their fundamental quality, we fre- 
quently suffer. 

There is, for instance, the interesting subject of 
miracles, which plays such an important part in the 
history of every religion. Despite the various attempts 
made by semi-rationalists to minimise their significance, 
the frequent occurrence of miracles will always remain, 
both for believers and sceptics, one of the most important 
tests of the religion in question; to the former as a 
sign of its superhuman nature, to the latter as a proof 
of its doubtful origin. The student is accordingly 



6 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


anxious to see whether the miraculous formed an essen- 
tial element of Rabbinic Judaism. Nor are we quite 
disappointed when we turn over the pages of the 
Talmud with this purpose in view. There is hardly 
any miracle recorded in the Bible for which a parallel 
might not be found in the Rabbinic literature. The 
greatest part of the third chapter of the Tractate 
Taanith, called also the “ Chapter of the Saints,” 
is devoted to specimens of supernatural acts per- 
formed by various Rabbis. But miracles can only 
be explained by more miracles, by regular epidemics 
of miracles. The whole period which saw them must 
become the psychological phenomenon to be explained, 
rather than the miracle-workers themselves. But of 
the Rabbinical miracles we could judge with far greater 
accuracy if, instead of the few specimens still preserved 
to us, we were in possession of all those stories and 
legends which once circulated about the saints of Israel 
in their respective periods.* 

Another problem which a fuller knowledge of these 
ancient times might have helped us to solve is this: 
With what purpose were these miracles worked, and 
what were they meant to prove? We are told in i 
Corinthians (i 22), that “the Jews ask for signs as the 
Greeks seek for wisdom.” As a fact, however, in the 
whole of Rabbinic literature, there is not one single 
instance on record that a Rabbi was ever asked by his 

1 About the probability that there may have existed other collections 
of such stories, see Rapoport, Bikkure J/aitHm, 12 78 79. 



INTRODUCTORY 


7 


colleagues to demonstrate the soundness of his doc- 
trine, or the truth of a disputed Halachic case, by 
performing a miracle. Only once do we hear of a 
Rabbi who had recourse to miracles for the purpose of 
showing that his conception of a certain Halachah was 
the right one. And in this solitary instance the majority 
declined to accept the miraculous intervention as a 
demonstration of truth, and decided against the Rabbi 
who appealed to it.‘ Nor, indeed, were such supernat- 
ural gifts claimed for all Rabbis. Whilst many learned 
Rabbis are said to have “been accustomed to wonders,” 
not a single miracle is reported for instance of the 
great Hillel, or his colleague, Shammai, both of whom 
exercised such an important influence on Rabbinic 
Judaism. On the other hand, we find that such men, 
as, for instance, Choni Hammaagel,* whose prayers 
were much sought after in times of drought, or R. Cha- 
ninah b. Dosa, whose prayers were often solicited in 
cases of illness,^ left almost no mark on Jewish thought, 
the former being known only by the wondrous legends 
circulating about him, the latter being represented in 
the whole Talmud only by one or two moral sayings.^ 
“Signs,” then, must have been as little required from 
the Jewish Rabbi as from the Greek sophist. But if 
this was the case, we are actually left in darkness about 

^ See Bada Mezia, 59 d, 

2 Taanith^ 24 b ; /er, Taanith^ 64 64 b, 

® See Berachoth^ 33 a, and Jer, Berachoth^ lO b, 

* Aboth^ 3 9. See Bacher, Ag, Tan, i 283, p. 2. 



8 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the importance of miracles and their meaning as a 
religious factor in those early times. Our chances of 
clearing up such obscure but important points would 
naturally be much greater if some fresh documents 
could be discovered. 

As another instance of the damage wrought by the 
loss of those older documents, I will allude only here 
to the well-known controversy between the school of 
Shammai and the school of Hillel regarding the ques- 
tion whether it had not been better for man not to have 
been created. The controversy is said to have lasted 
for two years and a half. Its final issue or verdict was 
that, as we have been created, the best thing for us to 
do is to be watchful over our conduct.* This is all that 
tradition (or the compiler) chose to give us about this 
lengthy dispute; but we do not hear a single word 
as to the causes which led to it, or the reasons ad- 
vanced by the litigant parties for their various opinions. 
Were they metaphysical, or empirical, or simply based, 
as is so often the case, on different conceptions of the 
passages in the Scripture germane to the dispute ? * 
We feel the more cause for regret when we recollect 
that the members of these schools were the contempo- 
raries of the Apostles; when Jerusalem, as it seems, 
was boiling over with theology, and its market-places 

1 Erubin, 13 < 5 . 

2 For other controversies of a theological nature between the same 
schools, see Gen* R.^xz 14, Rosh IJashanah^ 16 Chagigah, 12 a\ 
P. Hl, 61 b. Cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan*^ 1 14. 



INTRODUCTORY 


9 


and synagogues were preparing metaphysics and the- 
osophies to employ the mind of posterity for thou- 
sands of years. What did the Rabbis think of all these 
aspirations and inspirations, or did they remain quite 
untouched by the influences of their surroundings? 
Is it not possible that a complete account of such a 
controversy as I have just mentioned, which probably 
formed neither an isolated nor an unprecedented event, 
would have furnished us with just the information of 
which now we are so sorely in need ? 

In the Jewish liturgy we meet with similar difficul- 
ties. It is a source which has till now been compara- 
tively neglected. Still, its contents are of the greatest 
importance for the study of Jewish theology; not only 
on account of the material it furnishes us, but also for 
the aid it gives us in our control over the Talmud. 
For the latter is a work which can never be used with- 
out proper discretion. Like many another great book 
of an encyclopedic character, the Talmud has been 
aptly described as a work “full of the seeds of all 
things.” But not all things are religion, nor is all re- 
ligion Judaism. Certain ideas of foreign religions have 
found their way into this fenceless work, but they have 
never become an integral part of Jewish thought. 
Others again represent only the isolated opinions of 
this or that individual, in flagrant contradiction to the 
religious consciousness of Catholic Israel ; whilst others 
again, especially those relating to proselytes or the Gen- 
tiles, were in many cases only of a transitory character, 



lO SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


suggested by the necessities or even the passions of 
the moment, but were never intended to be taught as 
doctrine. In like manner the exaltation, by sectarians, 
of one special doctrine at the cost of essential princi- 
ples of the faith led at times by way of reaction to an 
apparent repudiation of the implied heresy ; whilst the 
synagogue, through its interpreters, recognised the 
true nature of this apparent repudiation and con- 
tinued to give the objectionable doctrine its proper 
place and proportion among the accepted teachings of 
Judaism.* Some test or tests as to the real theological 
value of a Talmudic saying will, therefore, always be 
necessary in making use of the old Rabbinic literature 
as a source of theology. The Jewish liturgy, which 
was from earliest times jealously guarded against 

1 See Weiss i 287 and JoePs Blicke^ 2 no, seq. As an illustration 
we refer here to the well-known objection to the explanation of certain 
laws (Lev. 22 28 and Deut. 22 6 and 7) on the mere principle of mercy, 
“ for he (who does so) declares the attributes (or the laws dictated by 
such attributes) of the Holy One, blessed be he, mercy, whilst they 
are only commands” nn'u xbx p'Ki D'am nspn ntTiuir 'jca. 
See Mishnah Berachoth^ 5 8 ; Megillah, 4 9 ; Jer, Berachoth, 9 c and 
B. T. Berachoth, 33 < 5 , text and commentaries. Cf. also Bacher, Ag. 
Am,, 3 728 . All these authorities, however, were set aside by the 
synagogue which continued the tradition of Pseudo-Jonathan to Lev. 
22 28 (see Berliner, Targum, 2 85 ) and never hesitated to explain such 
laws on the principle of mercy. See Gen, B,, 75 is ; Deut. R., 61; 
Tan, B,f 3 48 a, Cf. also Gen, B,, 33 s, where with reference to Ps. 
145 9 the words occur KIJl As to mediaeval au- 

thorities for the paitan Kalir, see Buber’s note to P, K., 98 b, Cf. also 
Nachmanides Commentary to Deut., 22 6 and 7 , and the reference 
there to Maimonides. See also pHSt'’ by Isaac Zaler, Warsaw, 

1895, 3 ^ b and 5 46 ^ and 46 



INTRODUCTORY 


II 


heresy/ and which in its essentials always was under 
the control of the synagogue at large, may fairly be 
regarded as such a test. Now there is no reason to 
doubt that in its broad outlines this liturgy — as far 
as the Prayer Book is concerned — has its origin in the 
earliest Tannaitic times, whilst certain portions date 
from the pre-Christian era, but it is at present so over- 
grown with additions and interpolations, that the orig- 
inal contents are hardly discernible from the constant 
accretions of succeeding ages. The Talmud, and even 
the Mishnah, occasionally quote some ancient liturgical 
passages, and these might prove useful in helping us 
to fix their date.^ But, unfortunately, it was not thought 
necessary to give these quotations in full. They are 
only cited by the word with which they begin, so that 
we are left in uncertainty as to the exact contents of 
the whole prayer, and have only guesses to rely on. 

Even more embarrassing than these textual diffi- 
culties are those defects which arc inherent in the 
peculiar nature of old Rabbinic thought. A great 
English writer has remarked “that the true health of 
a man is to have a soul without being aware of it; to 
be disposed of by impulses which he does not criticise.” 

^ See I. Elbogen, Geschichte des Achizehngebets^ Breslau, 1903, 34, 
note 4. 

2 See Misknak Tamid, 5 1. Pesackim, 118 a. Cf. Landshut Tib ri'jn 
to the riDItStr, and Elbogen, as quoted above. See also Schech- 

ter’s notes to The Wisdom of Ben Sira (edited by S. Schechter and 
C. Taylor), to XXXVI 17 ^ (p. 60) and LI uc (p. 66), and /. Q. R. 
IO«, p. 654. 



12 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


In a similar way the old Rabbis seem to have thought 
that the true health of a religion is to have a theology 
without being aware of it; and thus they hardly evei 
made — nor could they make — any attempt towards 
working their theology into a formal system, or giving 
us a full exposition of it. With God as a reality, 
Revelation as a fact, the Torah as a rule of life, 
and the hope of Redemption as a most vivid expec- 
tation, they felt no need for formulating their dogmas 
into a creed, which, as was once remarked by a great 
theologian, is repeated not because we believe, but 
that we may believe. What they had of theology, 
they enunciated spasmodically or “by impulses.” 
Sometimes it found its expression in prayer “when 
their heart cried unto God”; at others in sermons 
or exhortations, when they wanted to emphasise an 
endangered principle, or to protest against an in- 
truding heresy. The sick-bed of a friend, or public 
distress, also offered an opportunity for some theo- 
logical remark on the question of suffering or pen- 
ance. But impulses are uncertain, incoherent, and 
even contradictory, and thus not always trustworthy. 
The preacher, for instance, would dwell more on the 
mercy of God, or on the special claims of Israel, when 
his people were oppressed, persecuted, and in want of 
consolation; whilst in times of ease and comfort he 
would accentuate the wrath of God awaiting the sinner, 
and his severity at the day of judgement. He would 
magnify faith when men’s actions were lacking in in- 



INTRODUCTORY 


13 


ward motive, but he would urge the claim of works 
when the Law had been declared to be the strength 
of sin. When the Law was in danger he would appeal 
to Lev. 27 43, “Those are the commandments which 
the Lord commanded Moses,” and infer that these 
laws, and no others, were to be observed forever, and 
that no subsequent prophet might add to them.‘ At 
another time he would have no objection to introduce 
new festivals, e.g. the Lighting of the Chanukah 
Candles, and even declare them to be distinct commands 
of God,^ so long as they were, as it seemed to him, within 
the spirit of the Law. He would not scruple to give 
the ideal man his due, to speak of him as forming the 
throne of God,'’ or to invest him with pre-mundane 
existence ; * but he would watch jealously that he did 
not become, as it were, a second god, or arrogate to 
himself a divine worship. I shall have frequent occa- 
sion to point out such apparent or actual contradictions. 

The Rabbis, moreover, show a carelessness and slug- 
gishness in the application of theological principles 
which must be most astonishing to certain minds 

1 See T. K. 11$ d. 

* Shabbath, 23 d. See also Jer. Sukkah, 53 d. 

® See Gen. R. 47 6. 

* See Gen. R.\i about the pre-mundane existence of the name of the 
Messiah. Cf. ibid. 2 4, about the soul of the Messiah. Ibid. 8 4 mention 
is made of the souls of the righteous with whom God took counsel 
when he was going to create the world. See also PRE. 3, text and 
commentary. Cf. also Joel, Blicke, 2 isi and S. E. 160, text and notes, 
and below, p. 70. See also Dr. L. Ginzberg, “ Die Haggada bei den 
Kirchenvaiern,” p. 4, note l. 



14 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

which seem to mistake merciless logic for God-given 
truths. For example, it is said: “He who believes in 
the faithful shepherd is as if he believes in the word 
of him whose will has called the world into existence.” 
. . . “Great was the merit of the faith which Israel 
put in God; for it was by the merit of this faith that 
the Holy Spirit came over them, and they said Shirah 
to God, as it is said, ‘And they believed in the Lord 
and his servant Moses. Then sang Moses and the 
children of Israel this song unto the Lord.’”* . . . 
Again, “Our father, Abraham, came into the possession 
of this world and the world hereafter only by the merit 
of his faith.” ^ Of R. Jose it is recorded that he said : 
“If thou art desirous to know the reward awaiting the 
righteous, thou mayest infer it from Adam the First, 
for whose single transgression he and all his posterity 
were punished with death; all the more then shall the 
good action of a man confer bliss upon him, and justify 
him and his posterity to the end of all generations.” ® 
Another Rabbi tells us that by the close contact of the 
serpent with Eve, he left in her a taint which infected 
all her seed, but from which the Israelites were freed 
when they stood before Mount Sinai, for there they 
came into immediate contact with the divine presence.* 

1 Mechilta (ed. Friedmann), 33 a. By Shirah is meant the 

Song of Moses (Elxod. 15). 

2 Mechilta^ ibid, 

^ T, K, 27 a. Cf. Delitzsch, Hebrew Translation of the Romans 
(Leipzig, 1870), p. 82. 

^ Jelnwioth^ 103 



INTRODUCTORY 


IS 

To the professional theologian, it is certainly distress- 
ing to find that such sayings, which would have made 
the fortune of any ancient Alexandrian theosophist 
or modern Hegelian of the right wing, were never 
properly utilised by the Rabbis, and “theologically 
fructified,” nor ever allowed to be carried to what 
appears to the scholastic mind as their legitimate 
consequences. The faithful shepherd and the bliss- 
conferring righteous were never admitted into the 
Rabbinic pantheon ; the concession made to the patri- 
arch was never extended to his posterity, faith only 
modifying and vivifying works, but not superseding 
them, and even the direct contact with the Deity, 
which the fact of being present at the Revelation of 
Sinai offered to every Israelite, were conceived of only 
as the beginning of a new life, with new duties and 
obligations. 

This indifference to logic and insensibility to theologi- 
cal consistency seems to be a vice from which not even 
the later successors of the Rabbis — the commentators 
of the Talmud — emancipated themselves entirely. I 
give one example : We read, in the name of R. Akiba, 
“Everything is foreseen; freedom of choice is given. 
And the world is judged by grace, and yet all is accord- 
ing to the amount of work." This is the usual reading. 
But some of the best Mss. have the words, “And not 
according to the amount of work.” ‘ The difference 

^ See Dr. Taylor’s Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, Appendix 152. 
I add here Ms. Oxford Heb., c. 17. Farina, 802, 975. See Machzor 



l6 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

between the two readings being so enormous, we should 
naturally expect from the commentators some long dis- 
sertation about the doctrines of justification by grace 
or works. But nothing of the sort happens. They 
fail to realise the import of the difference, and pass it 
over with a few slight remarks of verbal explanation. 
Perhaps they were conscious that neither reading ought 
to be accepted as decisive, each of them being in need 
of some qualification implied in the other. 

It will, therefore, suggest itself that any attempt at 
an orderly and complete system of Rabbinic theology 
is an impossible task; for not only are our materials 
scanty and insufficient for such a purpose, but, when 
handling those fragments which have come down to 
us, we must always be careful not to labour them too 
much, or to “fill them with meaning” which their 
author could never have intended them to bear, 
against which all his other teachings and his whole 
life form one long, emphatic protest, or to spin 
from the harmless repetition by a Rabbi of a gnostic 
saying or some Alexandrinic theorem the impor- 
tance of which he never understood, a regular 
system of Rabbinic theology. All that these frag- 
ments can offer us are some aspects of the theology 
of the Rabbis, which may again be modified by 
other aspects, giving us another side of the same sub- 

Vitri, pp. 514, 515. Compare also Die Responsen des R. Meschullam 
ben Kalonymos, by Dr. Joel Muller (Berlin, 1893), p. ll, note 19. 
See below p. 306. 



INTRODUCTORY 


17 


ject. What we can obtain resembles rather a com- 
plicated arrangement of theological checks and bal- 
ances than anything which the modern divine would 
deign to call a consistent “scheme of salvation.” Still, 
I am inclined to think that a religion which has been 
in “working order” for so many centuries — which con- 
tains so little of what we call theology, and the little 
theology of which possesses so few fixities (whilst even 
these partake more of the nature of experienced reali- 
ties than of logically demonstrated dogmas) — that this 
religion forms so unique and interesting a phenomenon 
as to deserve a more thorough treatment than it has 
hitherto received. It is not to be dismissed with a few 
general phrases, only tending to prove its inferiority. 

This brings me to one other introductory point which 
I wish to suggest by the word Aspects. Aspects, as we 
know, vary with the attitude we take. My attitude is 
a Jewish one. This does not, I hope, imply either an 
apology for the Rabbis, or a polemic tendency against 
their antagonists. Judaism does not give as its raison 
d'Ure the shortcomings of any of the other great creeds 
of the civilised world. Judaism, even Rabbinic Judaism, 
was there before either Christianity or Mohammedan- 
ism was called into existence. It need not, therefore, 
attack them, though it has occasionally been com- 
pelled to take protective measures when they have 
threatened it with destruction. But what I want to 
indicate and even to emphasise is, that my attitude 
towards Rabbinic theology is necessarily different from 
c 



i8 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


that taken by most commentators on the Pauline 
Epistles. I speak advisedly of the commentators on 
Paul; for the Apostle himself I do not profess to un- 
derstand. Harnack makes somewhere the remark that 
in the first two centuries of Christianity no man under- 
stood Paul except that heathen-Christian Marcion, and 
he misunderstood him. Layman as I am, it would 
be presumptuous on my part to say how far succeeding 
centuries advanced beyond Marcion. But one thing is 
quite clear even to every student, and this is that a 
curious alternative is always haunting our exegesis of 
the Epistles. Either the theology of the Rabbis must 
be wrong, its conception of God debasing, its leading 
motives materialistic and coarse, and its teachers lack- 
ing in enthusiasm and spirituality, or the Apostle to 
the Gentiles is quite unintelligible. I need not face 
this alternative, and may thus be able to arrive at 
results utterly at variance with those to be found in our 
theological manuals and introductions to the New 
Testament. 

The question as to how far the theology of the Rabbis 
could be brought into harmony with the theology of our 
age is a matter of apologetics, and does not exactly fall 
within the province of these essays. With a little 
of the skill so often displayed by the writers of the 
life and times of ancient heroes, particularly New 
Testament heroes, it would certainly not be an impos- 
sible task to draw such an ideal and noble picture of 
any of the great Rabbis, such as Hillel, R. Jochanan 



INTRODUCTORY 


19 


ben Sakkai, or R. Akiba, as would make us recognise 
a nineteenth-century altruist in them. Nor would it 
require much ingenuity to parade, for instance, R. 
Abuhah as an accomplished geologist, inasmuch as he 
maintained that before the creation of our world God 
was ever constructing and destroying worlds ; ‘ or again, 
to introduce as a perfect Hegelian that anonymous 
Rabbi who boldly declared that it was Israel’s con- 
sciousness of God which was “ the making of God ” ; * 
or finally, to arrogate for R. Benaha the merit of hav- 
ing been the forerunner of Astruc, because he declared 
that the Pentateuch was delivered not as a complete 
work, but in a series of successive scrolls.® Indeed, 
the Rabbinic literature has already been described as 
a “wonderful mine of religious ideas from which it 
would be just as easy to draw up a manual for the 
most orthodox as to extract a vade-mecum for the most 
sceptical.” But I have not the least desire to array the 
ancient Rabbis in the paraphernalia of modern fashion, 
and to put before the reader a mere theological masquer- 
ade, or to present the Talmud as a rationalistic pro- 
duction which only by some miracle escaped the 
vigilant eye of the authorities, who failed to recognise 
it as a heretical work and exclude it from the Syna- 
gogue. The “liberty of interpretation,” in which so 
many theologians indulge, and which they even exalt 
as “Christian freedom,” seems to me only another 

^ See Gen. R,, 92. * See below, p. 24, note 2. 

^ See GMn, i 6 a. 



20 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

word for the privilege to blimder, and to deceive oneself 
and others. 

To show, however, that Rabbinic theology is, with 
the least modicum of interpretation or re-interpreta- 
tion, equal to the highest aspirations of the religious 
man of various modes of thought, occasional illustra- 
tions have been given from the works of philosophers 
and mystics, thus proving the latent possibilities of 
its application by various schools in different ages. 
As to “ modernity,” it entirely depends whether there 
is still room in its programme for such conceptions as 
God, Revelation, Election, Sin, Retribution, Holiness, 
and similar theological ideas ; or is it at present merely 
juggling with words to drop them at the first oppor- 
tunity ? If this latter be the case, it will certainly find 
no ally in Rabbinic theology, or for that matter, in 
any other theology. 



n 

GOD AND THE WORLD 

Among the many strange statements by which the 
Jewish student is struck, when reading modern divin- 
ity works, there is none more puzzling to his mind than 
the assertion of the transcendentalism of the Rabbinic 
God, and his remoteness from man. A world of in- 
genuity is spent to prove that the absence of the media- 
torial idea in Rabbinic Theology is a sign not of its 
acceptance of man’s close communion with God, but 
of its failure to establish the missing link between 
heaven and earth. Sayings of a fantastic nature, as, 
for instance, when a Rabbi speaks of God’s abode 
in heaven, with its various partitions ; ‘ epithets for 
God, such as Heaven or Supreme, which antique piety 
accepted for the purpose of avoiding the name of 
God “being uttered in idleness”; terms expressive of 
his providence and his sublime holiness, as the Holy 
One, blessed be he, the King, the Lord of the World, 

^ See Weber, System der A Itsynagogalen Patastinenischen Theologie 
(Leipzig, 1880), pp. 158, 159. See B, Jacob, “ Im Nafnen GottesP p. 1 7 1. 
It is interesting that in the very passage in Chagigahy 5 b, where this 
sharp division between the inner and outer departments is given, it is 
also stated that in the latter God is mourning over the misfortunes of 
Israel. 


21 



22 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

or the Master of all Creation; Hellenistic phrases, 
which crept into Jewish literature, but which never 
received, in the mouth of a Rabbi, the significance 
which they had with an Alexandrine philosopher, or 
a Father of the Church, — are all brought forward to 
give evidence of the great distance which the Rabbinic 
Jew must have felt, and must feel, between himself and 
his God. 

How strange all this to the Jewish student ! Does the 
Jewish Prayer Book contain such passages as — “ O oiu: 
Father, merciful Father, ever compassionate, have mercy 
upon us. . . , Thou hast chosen us from all peoples 
and tongues, and hast brought us near unto thy great 
name forever in faithfulness, to thank thee and pro- 
claim thy Unity in love ; blessed art thou, O God, who 
hast chosen thy people Israel, in love”:* or are they 
Christian interpolations from some unknown hand? 
Is the Jew taught to confess his sins daily in the follow- 
ing words: “Forgive us, our Father, for we have 
sinned ; pardon us, our King, for we have transgressed 
. . . blessed art thou, our God, who art gracious and 
dost abundantly forgive” or is this formula borrowed 
from a non- Jewish liturgy ? Has the Jew ever heard his 
mother at the bedside of a sick relative, directing 
prayers to God, and appealing to him as “ the beloved 
name, the gracious helper, the merciful Father, and 

1 See Daily Prayer Booky edited and translated by the late Rev. S. 
Singer (1890), p. 40; Baer, Rodelheim, 1868, p. 80. 

^ See Singer, p. 46; Baer, p. 90. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


23 


the deax God” : or was it some Christian neighbour to 
whom he was listening? Are the millions of worship- 
pers in the synagogue addressing themselves directly 
to God, the king and creator of the universe, the Father 
in Heaven ; or do they, in their thoughts, substitute for 
all these terms the Memra or the Logos, or some other 
abstraction, of which the writer of those prayers was 
unaware? For, according to what we are told by many 
theologians, God is too far off, the King of the Uni- 
verse too cosmopolitan, and the Father in heaven too 
high for the mind of the Jew, and is thus an impossible 
object for worship. These are questions which readily 
suggest themselves when one, for instance, reads 
Weber’s book. System der AUsynagogalen Palastinen- 
sischen Theologie, which has within the last decades 
become the chief source of information for the great 
majority of the writers on this subject. The thesis 
which Weber sets himself to prove through all his work 
is evidently that of the predominance of the legalistic 
element in Jewish theology, which was so overwhelming 
that it crushed even God under its oppressive burden, 
or, what is the same thing, removed him out of the 
world. Hence the strange arrangements of subjects in 
Weber’s work, treating first of nomism (or legalism), 
then of the character of the oral law, the authority of 
the Rabbis, etc., and last of all, of the Jewish notion 
of God. The general impression conveyed by such a 
representation is that this Jewish God is not the God 
from whom the Torah has emanated, and on whom 



24 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


its authority rests, but that he is himself a feeble reflex 
of the law, improved occasionally by some prophetic 
notions, but jealously watched by the Rabbis lest he 
should come into too close contact with humanity. 

This is very different from the impression which 
the Jewish student receives from a direct study of the 
sources. Quite the reverse ! The student is over- 
whelmed by the conviction that the manifestation of 
God in Israel’s history was still as vivid to the mind of 
the Rabbis and still as present as it was to the writer 
of Deuteronomy or the author of Psalm 78. “All 
souls,” say the Rabbis, “even those which had still to 
be created, were present at the Revelation on Mount 
Sinai.” ‘ The freshness with which the Biblical stories 
are retold in the Agadic literature, the vivid way in 
which they are applied to the oppressed condition of 
Israel, the future hopes which are based on them, 
create the impression that to the Rabbis and their 
followers the Revelation at Sinai and all that it implies 
was to them not a mere reminiscence or tradition, but 
that, through their intense faith, they re-witnessed 
it in their own souls, so that it became to them 
a personal experience. Indeed, it is this witnessing, 
or rather re-witnessing, to revelation by which God is 
God; without it he could not be God.* People who 


^ Exod, E.f 28 6. 

2 See F, K.y 102 by and Sifrey 144 a, with allusion to Is. 43 12. Cf. 
also Hoffmann’s Midrasch Tannainiy i 72, for more striking instances. 
The expression (as if it were possible to say so) is used in Sifre, 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


25 


would doubt his existence and say, “ There is no judge- 
ment and no judge,” belong rather to the generation 
of the deluge, before God had entered so openly into 
relations with mankind.^ To those who have experi- 
enced him through so many stages in their history, such 
doubt was simply impossible. 

A God, however, who is mainly reached, not by meta- 
physical deductions, but, as was the case with the 
Rabbis, through the personal experience of his revela- 
tion and his continuous operations in the world, can- 
not possibly be removed from it, or be otherwise con- 
fined to any particular region. Such a locally limited 
conception of the deity could, according to the Rabbis, 
only be entertained by a newly fledged proselyte, who 
had not as yet emancipated himself from his poly- 
theistic notions. To the Jew, God was at one and the 
same time above, beyond, and within the world, its soul 
and its life. “Jethro,” say the Rabbis, “still believing 
that there was some substance in other gods, said, ‘I 
know that the Lord is greater than all the gods’ (Exod. 
1511). Naaman came nearer the truth (though still 
confining God to one part of the universe), for he said. 


Cf. Bacher, Terminologie, i 78 , for the etymology and a more precise 
explanation of this term. It may be remarked that in most cases 
this term is used by the Rabbis, when the anthropomorphism 

which they imply is carried further than that implied by the Bible. 
The instance which I have just cited from the Pesikta is a case in 
point. Cf. also the numerous instances given by Kohut in his Aruch 
Completuniy s.v. ^ 3 '’ 

^ See Gen, R.y 26 6 and Pseudo- Jonathan y Gen, 4 8. 



26 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


‘ Now I know that there is no other God in all the earth, 
but in Israel’ (2 Kings 5 is). Rahab (made even further 
progress, and) placed God both in heaven and earth, 
saying, ‘For the Lord your God, he is God in heaven 
above and in earth beneath’ (Josh. 2 11); but Moses 
made him fill all the space of the world (or universe), 
as it is said, ‘The Lord he is God in the heaven 
above, and upon the earth beneath ’ : there is none 
else (Deut. 4 39), which means that even the empty 
space is full of God.” ‘ 

He is indeed to the Rabbis, as may be gathered from 
the various appellatives for God scattered over the 
Rabbinic literature, not only the Creator of the world, 
or “he who spake and the world existed,”* but also 
the Father of the world,® the goodness (or the good 
one) of the world,^ the light of the world ® the life 
of the world,® the stay of the world * the eye of the 
world,® the only one of the world,* the ancient one 
of the world,’® the righteous one of the world,” the 
master or the lord of the world,” and the space {makom) 

^ Deut* R*y 2 27 . cf. Mechilta, 59 a* Cf. Tan* B*y a \ M, T*, 
19 8 , 22 2, 62 8 ; cf. Bacher, Ag. Am., i I82. 

^ Jer. Pesachim, \%b, Cf. Low, Gessammelte Schriften, 1 186 , note 3. 

* Midrash Prov.j ch. 10. ^ P. K., \ 6 i a. 

6 Tan* B.y^^b* » Tan*y •’ 3 , 24. 

^ Tan* B*y 50 b* ® Gen. R. , 42 2, 

® Gen* R.f 21 6 * 

Yalkutio Chronicles, section 1074, but the reading is rather doubt- 
ful. Cf. Ruth R.y 2 ly and commentaries. 

Yomay 37 a* Cf. Yalkut to Prov* § 346. 

12 Berachothy 4 a* 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


27 


of the world.' In another place God is compared by 
a Rabbi to the soul “filling the whole world, as the soul 
fills the body,”^ a comparison which may probably 
have suggested to later Jewish writers semi-pantheistic 
notions; as, for instance, when the author of the Song 
of the Unity says : “ There is nothing but thy exist- 
ence. Thou art alive, omnipotent, and none is be- 

1 Gen, R,, 689 and P. R. 104 a, and notes. Cf. E. Landail’s essay 

Die dem Raunie entnommenen Synonyma fur Gott in der Netihebrdi- 
schen Liter atur (Zurich, 1888), pp. 30 where the whole literature 
on the subject is put together: to which Bachcr, Ag. Tan,, I 207, 
and Jacob, hn Namen Gottes, 119 may be added. According to the 
passage from the Mechilta, 52 given there by Bacher, [KOtt, 

mpa "lip Kinw bnan it is the divine court of judgement which is 
called DpD. Cf. Mechilta of R. Simon, ed. Hoffmann, 81. See also 
Lewy, Ein Wort uber die Mechilta des R , Simon, p. 9, note 4. See 
also Midrash Temur ah, § 2. I believe, however, that in spite of all 
these authorities, that the older commentators of the Mechilta, ex- 
plaining the passage to refer to the court or the Sanhedrin, were in 
the right, the reading of M'O in the AIIIG probably resting on some 
clerical error. The term is mainly indicative of God’s ubiquity in the 
world and can best be translated by “Omnipresent.” Cf. Taylor’s 
Sayings of the fezvish Fathers, p. 53, note 42, though it is difficult 
to say with any certainty whether it is Jewish or Helenlstic in its 
origin. On Landau’s note i, p. 40, it may be remarked that the text of 
Gemara in the Mishnah Berachoth, 5 i, has instead 

of aipla. Cf. Mishnah, Kosh Ilashana, 4 8, On'axb D2‘7 nx 

where Mr. Lowe’s ed., p. 62 a, reads instead of 

Bishop Lightfoot’s quotation (in his Commentary to the 
Colossians, p. 213) from on the Pentateuch (to Exod. 34 20), 
according to which God is also called mDD, the “ first-born 

of the world,” is not to be found in the older Rabbinic literature, and 
seems to be only a later cabalistic term. 

2 See Lev , 4 8, 



28 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

sides thee. And before the All thou wast the All, 
and when the All became thou filledst the All.” ‘ 

It is true that there are also other appellatives for 
God, placing him “above the world,” as the heaven,* 
the height of the world,* and the high one.^ Nor is it 
to be denied that there is a whole circle of legends 
mostly concentrated round the visions of Ezekiel, which 
give mystical descriptions of God’s heavenly habita- 
tions. Here is an instance of the economy of the 
seventh heaven which is Araboth. It is with reference 
to Ps. 68 4 : “ ‘ Sing unto God, sing praises to his 
name: extol him that rideth upon the Araboth (the 
heavens).’ Araboth is the heaven, in which are right- 
eousness and grace, the treasures of life, the treasures 
of peace and the treasures of bliss, and the souls of 
the righteous, and the souls and the spirits which are 
about to be created, and the dew with which the holy 
one, blessed be he, is to revive the dead . . . and there 
are the Ophanim, the Seraphim, and the holy Chayoth 
and the ministering angels and the throne of glory, 
and the king, the living God, high and exalted, rests 
above them, as it is said: ‘Extol ye him that rideth 
upon the Araboth.’ ” ® This passage, and a few others 

1 Ttrrn ITP, 3d day. 

2 See Rab. Dictionaries, sub. See also SchUrer 2 : 539. 

8 Tan., *’ 3 , 27. 

^ See Baba Baihra, 134 a, and Rab. Dictionaries sub. nnX Cf. also 
Landau and Low, about all these expressions. 

8 See Chagigah, 1 2 1 3 ; and P. R., 95 b seq. Cf. Ginzberg, Die 

Haggada bei den Kirchenvatern, p. il. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


29 


of a similar character, dating perhaps from the first 
century, are developed later in the eighth and ninth 
centuries into an extensive mystical literature known 
under the name of Chapters of the Chambers, ‘ which 
enlarge upon the topography of the heavens with 
great minuteness, besides giving very detailed descrip- 
tions of the various divisions of the ministering angels 
who dwell there, and their various functions, and pro- 
ducing even some of the hymns which are sung in 
heaven on particular occasions. 

But first we must note that the fact of God’s abiding 
in a heaven ever so high does not prevent him from 
being at the same time also on earth. “Thou art the 
Lord our God,” runs the text of a prayer, which is still 
recited every day, “in heaven and on earth, and in the 
highest heavens of heavens ” ; ^ whilst the fact of God’s 
appearing to Moses in the bush is taken as a proof that 
there is no spot on earth be it ever so lowly which 
is devoid of the divine presence.® When a Rabbi was 
asked as to the seeming contradiction between Exod. 
40 34, according to which the glory of God filled the 
tabernacle, and i Kings 8 27, in which it is said ; “ Be- 
hold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain 
thee,” he answered, that the matter is to be compared 
to a cave by the shore of the sea ; once the sea became 
stormy and inundated the land, when the cave filled 

1 mba’n -piB existing in various versions, strongly reminding of 
the Book of Enoch and similar other Pseudoepigrapha. 

2 See S, uS"., p. 1 1 8, and Introduction, p. 8 o. ® P. 2 b. 



30 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

with water, whilst the sea lost nothing of its contents ; so 
the tabernacle became full of the glory of the divine 
presence, whilst neither heaven nor earth became 
empty of it.‘ 

Secondly, and this is a point which cannot be suffi- 
ciently emphasised, that whatever mythologies and 
theosophies may be derived from the notion of heaven 
or height, on the one hand, or whatever pantheistic 
theories may be developed from the conception of the 
God-fulness of the universe, on the other hand, neither 
of these opposing tendencies were allowed to influence 
the theology of the Rabbis in any considerable degree. 

Theirs was a personal God, and a personal God 
will always be accommodated by fancy and imagina- 
tion with some sort of local habitation. The “Not- 
Ourselves” will always have to be placed somewhere 
else. Loftiness and height have always and will al- 
ways suggest sublimity and exaltation, and thus they 
could not choose a more suitable habitation for the 
deity than the heavens, or the heaven of heavens. 
But theology proper, or religion, is not entirely made 
up of these elements. It does not suppress them, 
but with happy inconsistency, it does not choose to 
abide by their logical consequences. 

Thus the very R. Simon b. Lakish, to whom we owe 
the Rabbinic version of the myth of the seven heavens, 
in the highest of which, as we have seen, the throne of 
glory is placed, declared the patriarchs (as models of 

^ P. K, 2b \ Z’. 19 a, Cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan., 2 27. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


31 


righteousness) to be the throne (or the chariot) of God ; 
whilst his colleague and older contemporary, R. Jo- 
chanan, laid down the axiom, that every place where 
“thou findest the greatness of God mentioned, there 
thou findest also his humility”; and he further added 
illustrations from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and 
the Hagiographa. The illustration from the latter is 
the very verse which partly suggested the legend of the 
seven heavens, namely the verse, “Extol ye him who 
rideth upon the Araboth” ; being followed by the words, 
“ A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, 
is God in his holy habitation” (Psalm 78 5 ), Thus 
we may maintain safely that with the Rabbis distance 
does not imply aloofness or any interruption of God’s 
communion with man. Notwithstanding all distance, 
“ God is near in every kind of nearness.” ‘ For though 
the distance between heaven and earth is so infinitely 
great, yet “when a man comes to the synagogue and 
prays, God listens to him, for the petitioner is like a 
man who talks into the ear of his friend.” * The same 
is the case with repentance, “ the power of which is very 
great.” Directly a man has a thought of repentance, 
it instantly reaches the throne of God.® 

Something similar may be remarked of the concep- 
tion of God’s Kingship, forming, as we shall see in 
the sequence, an important feature of the theology of 
the Rabbis which undoubtedly contributed in some 

1 /er. Berachothy 13 a. Berachoth^ ibid, 

8 P, R.y 185 a. See also below, p. 335. 



32 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

measure towards confining God to a locale, the eleva- 
tion of which would not only suggest exaltation, but 
also convey to our mind a sense of security against 
all intrusion, so as to keep those below at a respectful 
distance. Yet this distance does not cause either remote- 
ness and separation. These are only brought about 
by the evil actions of man. This we gather from such 
a passage as the following: It is with allusion to 
Ps. i8 12, “ He made darkness his hiding-place, his 
pavilion round him.” “ This verse,” it is explained, 
“ David only said in the praise of the Holy One, 
blessed be he, he who is n', ruling in the height . . . 
and he dwells in three hundred and ninety heavens 
. . . and in each of them there are ministering 
angels and Seraphim and Ophanim and Cherubim 
and Galgalim and a Throne of Glory. But thou 
must not wonder at this thing; for behold, the King 
of flesh and blood has many habitations, both for 
the warm and the cold (seasons), much more so 
the King who lives for eternity, to whom all be- 
longs.” But the author of this mystical passage 
winds up with the words, “ When Israel performs the 
will of the Omnipresent, he dwells in the Araboth (the 
seventh heaven) and removeth not from his (world) 
in any way, but in the time of wrath he ascends on 
high and sits in the upper heavens.^ 

1 See D, E» ch, 2. Cf. Friedmann lo, note 2, for parallels 

and the history of this passage. The word in brackets is given after an 
emendation of R. Elijah of Wilna. A good collection of comparisons 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


33 


The fact is, that the nearness of God is determined 
by the conduct of man, and by his realisation of this 
nearness, that is, by his knowledge of God. “Thus 
taught the sages. Thy deeds will bring thee near (to 
God), and thy deeds will remove thee (from God). How 
so ? If a man does ugly things his actions remove him 
from the divine presence, as it is said, ‘ Your sins have 
separated between you and your God ’ (Isa. 69 2). But 
if a man has done good deeds, they bring him near to 
the divine presence. . . . And it is upon man to 
know that a contrite and humble spirit is better than 
all the sacrifices (prescribed) in the Torah.” ‘ It is 
in conformity with this conception of the nearness of God 
that we read, “ Before Abraham made God known to 
his creatures, he was only the God of the heaven; 
but afterwards he became (through Abraham’s prosely- 
tising activity) also the God of the earth.” ^ Hence 
the patriarchs are, as just quoted, the very throne of 
God,® whilst those, for instance, who speak untruth, are 
banished from his holy presence.* Indeed, “his main 
dwelling is among those below,” and it is only sin and 
crime which cause God’s removal to the upper regions. 

between God and the King of flesh and blood, entering into such 
details as his throne, his palace, his legions, his court, his administer- 
ing justice, etc., is to be found in Die Konigsgleichnisse des Midrasch, 
by Dr. I. Ziegler (Breslau, 1903). See especially the Hebrew sec- 
tion of this book, 

1 S, p. 104. Cf. also the reading in the old editions of 
ch. 18. 

2 Gen. E., 59 8. 8 Gen, R,^ 47 6. See below, p. 84. 

* Sanhedriuy 102 b, P. K, i a, Cf. below, p. 223. 

D 



34 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


That such appellatives as space, or master of the 
world, are not meant to imply severance or remote- 
ness, may be seen from the following instances: “Be- 
loved are Israel, for they are called children of Space” 
(makom), as it is said: “Ye are children unto the 
Lord your God.” ‘ “He who helps Israel, is as if 
he would help space” (God).* “Israel (on the waters 
of Marah) was supplicating and praying to their Father 
in Heaven, as a son who implores his father, and a 
disciple who beseeches his master, saying unto him; 
Master of the world, we have sinned against thee, 
when we murmured on the sea.” * Even the term 
strength, by which God is sometimes called,^ occurs in 
such connections as: “When Israel does the will of 
God, power is added to strength.”® In the Baby- 
lonian Talmud one of the most frequent appellations 
of God is “the merciful one,” and it is worth noticing, 
that this term is mostly used in Halachic or casuistic 
discussions, which proves, by the way, how little in the 
mind of the Rabbis the Law was connected with hard- 
ness and chastisement. To them it was an effluence 
of God’s mercy and goodness.® 

1 A both, 3 18. 2 ggg Sifre, 22 

® Mechilta, 45 b. See Aruch, s.v. See below, p. 336. 

^ Mechilta, 48 b. Shabbath, 87 b, 

^ See P, K., 166 a and b, Cf. Kohut’s Aruch, s.v. See below, 

P‘ 239 - 

® See references of Kohut^s Aruch, DH^. In Tractate Pesachim 
alone it occurs about forty-one times, but always in Halachic contro- 
versies. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


35 


Eager, however, as the Rabbis were to establish this 
communion between God and the world, they were 
always on their guard not to permit him to be lost in 
the world, or to be confused with man. Hence the 
marked tendency, both in the Targumim and in the 
Agadah, to explain away or to mitigate certain ex- 
pressions in the Bible, investing the deity with corporeal 
qualities. The terms Shechinah and Memra in the 
former arc well known, and have been treated of by 
various scholars.^ As to the Agadah, we find the gen- 
eral rule applied to the Bible, that the Scriptures only 
intended “to make the ear listen to what it can hear”; 
or as it is elsewhere expressed, “ to soothe the ear (so 
as to make it listen to) what it can hear,” which might 
be taken as implying a tendency towards mitigating 
corporeal terms.^ This tendency may also be detected 
in the interpretation of the Rabbis given in God’s 
answer to Moses’ question, “ What is His name ” 
(Exod. 3 13). “ The Holy One, blessed be he, said 

to Moses, Thou wantest to know my name? I am 
called according to my deeds. When I judge the 
creatures I am named Elohim, when I wage war 
against the wicked I am named Zebaoth, when I sus- 
pend (the punishment of) the man’s sins, I am named 

1 See Schiirer, i 147 , note 38, about the literature on this point. 
The term is very frequent in the Talmud and Midrashim ; see 

Kohut’s Aruch, s.v. Less frequent is 11^1. Cf. Landau (as 

above), pp. 47 seq. and p. 53 ; Bacher, Terminologie 2 36 . 

^ A. R. JV., If c. 2, rrntJ yh, § 14. See Reifmann, p. 31 j 

Bacher, Terminologie ^ i 8. 



36 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

El Shadai, and when I have mercy with my world, I 
am named by the tetragrammaton.” ^ The words, 
“The Lord is a man of war” (Exod. 15 3), are con- 
trasted with (Hos. II 9) “For I am God, and not 
man,” and explained to mean that it is only for the 
love of Israel that God appears in such a capacity.* In 
another passage we read that the divine presence never 
came down, and Moses never went up to heaven, as 
it is said, “The heavens are the Lord’s, and the earth 
hath he given to the children of men.”* 

This last passage is not only in contradiction with 
some of the quotations given in the foregoing pages, 
but is also directly opposed to another Agadic inter- 
pretation of this very verse from the Psalms, according 
to which the line drawn between heaven and earth was 
removed by the Revelation, when God came down 
on Mount Sinai (Exod. 19 la), and Moses was com- 
manded to come up unto the Lord (ibid. 24 i).‘ This 
objection of the Rabbis — though only feebly expressed 
— to take the scriptural language in its literal sense must 
be attributed to a polemic tendency against rising secta- 
rianism, which, laying too much stress on the corporeal 
terms in the Bible, did not rest satisfied with humanis- 
ing the Deity, but even insisted on deifying man. To 
the former, that is, the humanising of the Deity and 

1 See Exod, R. 3 6. 

2 Meckilta, 38 b. See also below, p. 44, note I. 

^ Sukkahy 5 a. See Bacher, Ag, Tan.y I 186 , 

* Exod, R., 12 8. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


37 


endowing him with all the qualities and attributes which 
tend towards making God accessible to man, the Rab- 
bis could not possibly object. A great number of 
scriptural passages, when considered in the light of 
Rabbinic interpretation, represent nothing else but a 
record of a sort of Imitatio hominis on the part of God. 
He acts as best man at the wedding of Adam and 
Eve;‘ he mourns over the world like a father over 
the death of his son when the sins of ten generations 
make its destruction by the deluge imminent ; ^ he visits 
Abraham on his sick-bed ; * he condoles with Isaac after 
the death of Abraham;* he “himself in his glory” is 
occupied in doing the last honours to Moses, who 
would otherwise have remained unburied, as no man 
knew his grave ; ® he teaches Torah to Israel, and to 
this very day he keeps school in heaven for those who 
died in their infancy;® he prays himself, and teaches 
Israel how to pray ; ‘ he argues with Abraham the 
case of Sodom and Gomorrah not only on equal 
terms, but tells him, If thou thinkest I acted unworth- 
ily, teach me and I will do so.® Like man he also feels, 
so to speak, embarrassed in the presence of the conceited 
and overbearing, and says, I and the proud cannot 
dwell in the same place.® Nay, it would seem that the 

^ Gen. R.y 8 s 13. Cf. Commentaries and ibid, 181. 

2 See Gen, R.^ 27 4. ^ Gen. R,y 8 13. ^ Gen, R,, ibid, 

^ See Gen, R,, ibid., and Sota, 9 b. 

® Exod. R,, 28 6, and Abodah Zarah, 3 b. 

^ See Berachoth, 7 a, and Rosh Ilashanah, l*] b, 

® See Tan, B,y i in a, ® Sotah, 5 b. 



38 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Rabbis felt an actual delight in heaping human qual- 
ities upon God whenever opportunity is offered by 
Scripture. Thus, with reference to (Exod. 15 1) “I 
will sing unto the Lord,” the Rabbis say, “I will 
praise him,” that he is terrible, as it is said, “A great 
God, a mighty and a terrible” (Deut. 10 17). “I will 
praise him,” that he is wealthy, as it is said, “The 
earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (Ps. 24 
1). “I will praise him,” that he is wise, as it is said, 
“For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth 
cometh knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2 o). 
“I will praise him,” that he is merciful, as it is said, 
“The Lord, the Lord God, is merciful and gracious” 
(Exod. 34 6). “I will praise him,” that he is a 
judge, as it is said, “For the judgment is God’s” 
(Deut. I 17). “I will praise him,” that he is faithful, 
as it is said, “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, 
he is God, the faithful God” {ibid. 7 9).‘ 

What the Rabbis strongly objected to was the deifi- 
cation of man. Thus with reference to Exod. 6 and 
7 1, God is represented by the Rabbis as having said 
to Moses, “Though I made thee a god to Pharaoh, 
thou must not become overbearing (and think thyself 
God) ; I am the Lord.” * To Hiram, the Prince of 
Tyre, who said, “I am God; I sit in the seat of 

1 Mechiltay 35 a, Cf. MHG,, 677 about the seventy names of 
God, and note 12 to col. 681. Cf. also Saalfeld, Das Hohelied Salomons^ 

o. 137. 

^ Tan, 2, 13 a. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


39 


God” (Ezek. 28 2), God is supposed by the Rabbis to 
have answered, “Did Elijah, notwithstanding his 
reviving the dead, bringing rain, and making the fire 
to come down from heaven, ever make the claim to be 
a God?” ‘ Both Pharaoh and the Prince of Tyre are, 
of course, only prototypes of persons deified in the 
times of the Rabbis, be it Roman emperors or Jewish 
Messiahs. And it was, as we may imagine, under the 
pressure of this controversy that the Rabbis availed 
themselves of any appellatives for God, as well as of 
any allegorical interpretation, that served as a check 
against this deification tendency. 

It would, however, be a mistake to think that the 
Rabbis attached to appellatives for God, such as 
Shechinah, or Word, the same meaning which they 
have received in Hellenistic schools, or in the theology 
of the Fathers of the Church. Hallam somewhere 
quotes the shrewd remark of Montaigne, to the effect 
that we should try a man who says a wise thing, for 
we may often find that he does not understand it. 

I am not quite certain as to the wisdom of the alle- 
gorical method and the various appellatives for God, 
some of which may perhaps have been of Hellenistic 
origin. But I am convinced that the Rabbis hardly 
understood the real significance and the inevitable con- 
sequences of their use. 

Indeed, it soon must have become clear to the 

1 Tan., 7. Cf. Jellinek, Beth Hamrnidrash, 5, p. in and 

Introduction. 



40 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Rabbis that the allegorising method could be turned 
into a very dangerous weapon against the very principle 
which it was meant to defend. Not only was it largely 
used by the adversaries of the synagogue, as a means 
for justifying the abolition of the Law, but the terms 
which were accepted in order to weaken or nullify 
anthropomorphic expressions were afterwards hyposta- 
tised and invested with a semi-independent existence, 
or personified as the creatures of God. This will explain 
the fact that, along with the allegorising tendency, there 
is also a marked tendency in the opposite direction, 
insisting on the literal sense of the word of the Bible, 
and even exaggerating the corporeal terms.' 

1 See Weiss, i in. Weber (pp. 153 and 179) makes a differ- 

ence between the Targumim and the later Rabbinism. This theory 
is based chiefly on the assumption of the great antiquity of the 
former, which is still doubtful. A good essay on the various heresies 
which the Rabbis had to face, and which would, as I believe, throw 
much light on the inconsistencies of the Targumim and of the Rabbis 
concerning the question of anthropomorphism, is still a desideratum. 
That too much Targum only served to increase the danger, may be seen 
from the following extract from the MHG, (Ms.), to Exod. 24 10, 

imixa piD’B DJinDH ‘td "nc’Ss n 'ns * ‘pxnw' 'nbx n« iki'i 
ix-i’i Djnntp pa Pi"um ejinn m nn a ei'mnn ‘ 'Xta -it nrt 
nKi"i na"p,iir * 'Kia nt ""in khSk n" itm bxnw" nx 

Binna ni "in bxnw’n xn'rx no'ntr np’ n" nm nan • nx-n irxi 
“^xi nrawi np" ntr*?© jxa nunc xmir fiuni. ■< r. EUezer said : 

He who translates a verse (from the Bible) literally is a liar. He who 
adds to it commits blasphemy. For instance, if he translated (the 
above-quoted verse), And they saw the God of Israel^ he spoke an 
untruth ; for the Holy One, blessed be he, sees, but is not seen. But 
if he translated. And they saw the glory of the Shechina of the God of 
Israel^ he commits blasphemy, for he makes three (a Trinity), namely, 



COD AND THE WORLD 


41 


We have unfortunately no sufficient data enabling 
us to form a real picture of this great theological struggle. 
What we perceive is rather confusion and perplexity. 

The following fragment from a controversy between 
a Jew and a certain heretic will perhaps give us some 
idea of this confusion. We read in Exod. 24 1, “ And 
unto Moses he said, Come up to the Lord.” Said 
the heretic to the Rabbi, “If it was God who called 
Moses, it ought to be : And unto Moses he said, Come 
up to me.” The Rabbi answers that by the word 
he is meant the angel Metatron who commanded Moses 
to ascend to God, the Rabbi identifying this angel, 
“ whose name is like that of his master,” with the 
angel spoken of in chapter 23 20, 21. What follows now 
is not quite clear, but we see the heretic claiming quite 
logically worship for Metatron (and perhaps also the 
power of forgiving sin), whilst the Rabbi retorts, 
“ Faith in thy hands ! We have not accepted him 
even as a messenger, as it is written, ‘ If thy presence 


Glory, Shechina, and God.” See Das Fragf?tentettiargum by M. Gins- 
burger, p. 43, where this rendering of Exod. 24 is to be found. See 
also Kiddushiuj 49 and Tosephta Megillahj p. 228, and commentaries, 
and cf. Berliner Targum, 2, pp. 87 and 1 73. Our version proves that the 
objections were of a dogmatic nature. The fact that K'H is introducing 
it makes me believe that the passage may have been in the X'm '’P'lQ 
(perhaps c. 45). In the older Jewish literature, the Christians are 
never introduced as Trinitarians. Instructive is also the fact that soma 
Genizah fragments of the Passover Hagada have after the words 
•’T bi; the addition •’T bi: nnpn 

Cf. the phrase '’B hX 3 D 13 K. Cf. the Jewish Quarterly Review, 

vol. X (1897-8), p. 51. 



42 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

go not (with us), carry us not up hence’” (Exod. 
33 16), The heretic thus urges logical consistency and 
is ready to develop a whole theology from a doubtful 
interpretation ; the Rabbi is less logical, but merely 
insists upon the fact that Israel refused to give angels 
divine honours or divine prerogatives.^ 

The fact is that the Rabbis were a simple, naive 
people, filled with a childlike scriptural faith, neither 
wanting nor bearing much analysis and interpretation. 
“Common sense,” is somewhere aptly remarked, “ tells 
us what is meant by the words ‘ My Lord and my 
God’; and a religious man upon his knees requires 
no commentator.” More emphatically the same 
thought is expressed in the quaint answer of a med- 
iaeval Rabbi, who, when asked as to the meaning 
(philosophic or mystic) he was wont to give to his prayers, 
replied, “I pray with the meaning of this child.”* 
Such simple people, however, were unequal to the 
task of meeting on the battlefield of speculation the 
champions of the Alexandrine schools. The apergu 
stigmatising the Rabbis as the “virtuosi” of religion 
is well known and has in it some appearance of truth. 
A single letter, or a mere suffix or prefix, or a particle, 
would suffice for the Rabbis to derive therefrom, if not 
exactly a new custom or law, at least to give the latter 

1 See Sanhedrin, 38 b, and commentaries (also Edeles). The text 
is somewhat corrupt. Cf. Rabbinowicz, Varix Lectiones a. /. and the 
commentary of R. Chananel a, L Cf. Joel, Blicke, i 127 ; Bacher, Ag. 
Am., 3 708 , and Jacob, Im Namen Gottes, p. 41, n. 1. 

2 See Responsa of R. Isaac b. Shesheth, § 157. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


43 


some foundation in the Scriptures. But the apergu 
would have more point and be more complete, if 
we would add that the antagonists of the Rabbis were 
just as expert “virtuosi” in dogmas and theosophies. 
What to the Rabbis was a simple adjective, a rever- 
ential expression, or a poetical metaphor, turned in 
the hands of the Hellenists into a new deity, an aeon, or 
a distinct emanation. The Rabbis felt perplexed, and 
in their consternation and horror went, as we have 
seen, from one extreme to the other. ‘ 

The consternation felt by the Rabbis, at the thought 
of possible consequences, may perhaps be realised 
by the following passage with allusion to Exod. 19 2: 
“The Holy One, blessed be he, appeared to them on 
the (Red) Sea as a mighty warrior (Exod. 15 3 ) and 
revealed himself on Mount Sinai as a scribe teaching 
Torah, and was also visible to them in the days of 
Daniel, and as Elder teaching Torah (Dan. 7 9 ) he 
(therefore) said to them, ‘ Think not on account of these 
manifold appearances, there are many deities. I am 
the Lord thy God. The God of the Sea is the God of 
the Sinai.’ The warning comes from God himself and 
shows the danger of the situation; indeed, it had be- 
come so threatening that even such innocent rhetorical 
exclamations as ‘My God, my God, why hast thou 
forsaken me?’ (Ps. 22 2) were apparently subject 

^ The difference between the Rabbi and the Hellenist in this respect 
may perhaps be reduced to this ; The Rabbi may speak of the Dibbur 
or the Memra^ but means God ; the Hellenist may speak of God, but 
means the Dibbur or the Memra, 



44 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


to misinterpretation, so that it was necessary to em- 
phasise on this occasion, too, the God of the Red Sea 
is the God of the Revelation.” ‘ 

Even more striking is the following Rabbinic homily 
on Exod. 3 7, “ And the Lord said I have surely seen 
the affliction of my people”: “God said to Moses, 
‘ Thou seest only one sight, but I see two sights. Thou 
seest them coming to Mt. Sinai and receiving there my 
Torah ; but I see also their making the golden calf. 
When I shall come to Sinai to give them the Torah, I 
will come down with my chariot of four chayoth 
(Ezek. I 5-10), from which they will abstract one (of 
the four — the ox or the calf), by which they will pro- 
voke me.’ ” ^ 

Amidst all these embarrassments, contradictions, 
confusions, and aberrations, however, the great prin- 
ciple of the Synagogue, that worship is due only to 
God, remained untouched. Into the liturgy none of 
the stranger appellations of God were admitted. 
“When man is in distress,” says R. Judah, “he does 
not first call upon his patron, but seeks admittance to 
him through the medium of his servant or his agent ; 

1 See P. K., 109 b ; M. T., 22 10. "S'Da *^10 D'a Cf. P. P. 

100 b and loi a, and note 31 to the last page. See also Tan, B,, 2 40 b, 
Cf. Ktizariy ed. Cassel, 313, note i. 

2 See Exod, A\, 32; 42 6, text and references given there in the 
commentaries. Cf. Ezek. i 9 and 10 ; Ps. 106 19 and 20. See also 
Nachmanides to Exod. 18 1, who gives fuller and better readings of the 
passage in the Midrash. Cf. Bacher, Ag, Pal,^ i 48 . About the 
notion that God came down from Mt. Sinai with the chariot, see 
P,K,, 107 h. 



GOD AND THE WORLD 


45 


but it is different with God. Let no man in misfortune 
cry either unto Michael or Gabriel, but pray unto me 
(God), and I will answer him at once, as it is said: 
‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall 
be delivered’’’ {]oe\ 3 5)} “Come and see,” says 
another Rabbi, “that in the portions of the Scriptures 
treating of sacrifices, no other name of God is ever 
used than the Tetragrammaton. This is done so as 
not to give room for heretical interpretations,” ^ which 
might claim divine worship for some other being. 
When the Rabbis fixed the rule, that no form of bene- 
diction is permissible in which the name of God does 
not occur,^ they were probably guided by the same 
principle. At a certain period in history, when the 
heresy of the new sects was threatening to affect larger 
classes, the Rabbis even enforced the utterance of the 
Tetragrammaton in every benediction, lest there should 
be some misunderstanding to whom prayer is directed.^ 

^ /^r. Berachoih^ ^3 

2 See Si/rgj 54 a, Cf. T. JC.y 3 c. See Bacher, Ag. Tan, i 422. 

^ Berachothj 40 b. 

^ See Tosephta Berachoth, 9, ed. Schwartz, and notes (Graetz, Ge- 
schickte, 3468). See also Jacob, Im Namen Goties, p. 174 , 



Ill 


GOD AND ISRAEL 

We saw in the preceding chapter that neither the 
terms of space nor heaven as applied to God, nor the 
imaginary descriptions placing his particular abode on 
high, meant for the Rabbis remoteness from the world. 
Whatever the faults of the Rabbis were, consistency 
was not one of them. Neither speculation nor folklore 
was ever allowed to be converted into rigid dogma. 
As it was pointed out, when the Rabbis were taught 
by experience that certain terms meant for superficial 
proselytes only a reflex of their former deities, they not 
only abandoned them for a time, but substituted for 
them even the Tetragrammaton itself ; a strong measure, 
taken in contradiction to ancient custom and tradition, 
and thus proving how anxious the Rabbis were that 
nothing should intervene between man and God. 

We shall now proceed to show how still more intimate 
and close was the relation maintained and felt between 
God and Israel. He is their God, their father, their 
strength, their shepherd, their hope, their salvation, 
their safety; they are his people, his children, his 
first-born son, his treasure, dedicated to his name, 
which it is sacrilege to profane. In brief, there is 
not a single endearing epithet in the language, such as 

46 



GOD AND ISRAEL 


47 


brother, sister, bride, mother, lamb, or eye, which is 
not, according to the Rabbis, applied by the Scriptures 
to express this intimate relation between God and his 
peopled God is even represented by the Rabbis as 
saying to Moses, “As much as thou canst exalt this 
nation (Israel) exalt it, for it is as if thou wert exalting 
me. Praise it as much as thou canst, glorify it as much 
as thou canst, for in them I will be glorified, as it is 
said, ‘Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will 
be glorified’” (Isa. 49 3 )d “What is his (God’s) 
name? El Shaddai, Zebaoth. What is the name of 
his son? Israel!”® Nay, more, though a king of 
flesh and blood would resent to hear one of his subjects 
arrogating his title (as Ca;sar Augustus), the Holy 
One, blessed be he, himself confers on Israel the names 
by which he is himself distinguished, as wise, holy, 
the chosen ones, and does not even deny them the title 
of gods, as it is written, “I have said. Ye are gods” 
(Ps. 826).“ 

This intimacy of relationship is reciprocal. “He 
(God) needs us even as we need him” was a fa- 

1 This feature is so strongly represented in the Rabbinic literature 
that I must satisfy myself with a few general references. See T. 

44 c ; Mechilta, 28 a, 29 b, 41 by 43 by 44 a, 57 a:, 62 <5 ; P. K,y \ Uyl by 
^ a. At by 47 ay 47 by 50 ay 104 ay 157 a ; Gen, R.y 81 ; Exod. P., 15, 20, 
27, 33, 52; Lev, R.y 2. See also Sifrcy 68 a, npt 7 n pnT DnnSK 
nan ‘?a‘i * ♦ • D'nx iKipjtp. The various Midrashim as well as 
the Targum to the Song of Songs is permeated by the same tendency. 
Cf. Elbogen, Religionsanchauungen der Pharisdery p. 60 seq. 

2 Lev, R.y 2 6. 3 See P, R.y 15 a, Cf. P. K,y 4 b. 

^ See M, T.y 21 2; Exod. R.y 8 1. 



48 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


vourite axiom with certain mystics. In the language 
of the Rabbis we should express the same sentiment 
thus, “ One God through Israel, and one Israel through 
God. They are his selected people, and he is their 
selected portion.” ^ “ God is the help and the support of 
all mankind, but still more of Israel.” “They recog- 
nised in him the King, and he recognised in them the 
masters of the world. . . . Israel declares (his unity) 
in the words, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, 
the Lord is one' (Deut. 64); and the holy spirit 
(or word of God) proclaims their election (in the 
words), ‘And who is like thy people Israel, a nation 
that is one (or alone) in the earth’” (i Chron. 17 21).* 
“He glorified them when he said, ‘Israel is my son, 
even my first-born,’ whilst they sang a song unto him 
in Egypt.” ® Israel brought him down by their praise 
(from all the seven heavens to earth, as it is said, “ And 
let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among 
them”) (Exod. 25 a), and he lifted them by his praise 
above [to the heaven], as it is said, “That the Lord 
thy God will set thee on high above” (Deut. 28 1).^ 
“ Blessed be his (God’s) name for ever,” exclaims a 
Rabbi, enthusiastically, “who left those above and 
chose those below to dwell in the Tabernacle because 
of his love of Israel.”® Indeed, the Holy One, blessed 

1 Sifre, 134 b. 

* See Mechilta, 36 b ; Chagigah, 3 a, 3 i 5 , and parallels. Cf. Bacher, 
Ag. Tan., i 236 , and Levy, Talmud. Worterbuch, s. HTOS, 2, and 
rO'tSPt. 8 Mechilta, 35 b. 

^ See Cant., R., 5 w. * Tan. B., 3 s a, Cf. Tan. B., 2ii a and b. 



GOD AND ISRAEL 


49 


be he, says to Israel, you are my flock and I am the 
shepherd, make a hut for the shepherd that he come 
and provide for you ; you are the vineyard and I am 
the watcher, make a tent for the watcher that he guards 
you ; you are the children and I am the father, — it is 
a glory for the father when he is with his children and 
a glory for the children when they are with their father ; 
make therefore a house for the father that he comes 
and dwells with his children/ 

Israel bears in common with the angels such names 
as gods, holy ones, children (of God). But God loves 
Israel more than the angels. Israel’s prayer being 
more acceptable to him than the song of the angels, 
whilst the righteous in Israel are in closer contact with 
the Deity than the angels, and are consulted by them as 
to “what God hath wrought.” * 


1 Exod. R., 33 8 . 

2 See Chullin b. Yalkut i § 890 (quotation from the Yelamdenu), 

Yalkut to Prov., § 951, and Shabbath 8 d. Cf. also Friedmann, D''nBD 3 , 
p. 47, to which more passages of a similar nature can be added. It 
should, however, be remarked that the rationalistic school rather 
objected to this teaching of the inferiority of angels. Cf. Schmiedel’s 
Studien uber . . . Religionsphilosophie, p. 70 seq.^ and p. 78 seq. 
Cf. also R. Meir ibn Gabbai’s miDl?, the ten first chapters of 

the section In general, the belief in angels was fairly maintained 

by Rabbinism throughout all its history, although it was only David 
Bilia (fourteenth century) who raised it to the importance of a dogma. 
Cf. Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p. 203. For opposing tendencies in 
comparatively early times, see Exod, R,, 17 5, 'n 

n'Opn '"l? onicia. See also V'n.'-ia to this 

passage. Naturally, it was subject in the course of history to all sorts 
of interpretations, qualifications, and modifications. Cf. Professor 
E 



50 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Again, “He who rises up against Israel rises up against 
God; hence the cause of Israel is the cause of God; 
their ally is also his.” ‘ For God suffers with them in 
their suffering and is with them in their distress.* 
Their subjection implies his subjection,® and his pres- 
ence accompanies them through their various captivities 
among the Gentiles.'* Therefore their redemption is 
his redemption,® their joy is his joy,“ their salvation his 
salvation,* and their light his light.® 

Their cause is indeed so closely identified with God’s 
cause that on the occasion of the great historical crisis 
at the Red Sea, God is supposed rather to resent the 
lengthy prayer of Moses, and says unto him, “Where- 
fore cricst thou to me? (Exod. 14 is). I need no 
asking for my children, as it is said, ‘Wilt thou ask 
me concerning my children?’” (Isa. 45 11).® The 
recognition of this fatherhood is all that God wants 
from Israel. “All the wonders and mighty deeds 


Blanks article Angelology, Occasionally, the authorities would have to 
enter their protest against such excesses as invocations addressed to 
the angels soliciting their intercession. See Kerem Chemedy 9 141 seq,y 
and Zunz, Synagogale Poesie, p. 148 seq, 

1 MechillUy 39 a, 39 b ; Sifre, 29 b and parallels. 

2 P, K.y 47 a. By Israel is also meant the individual. See MechiltUy 
IT a, 119 b, pits TH' ma na’it m:: xbK 'b pK, etc., s. e., p. 89. 
Cf. Sabbathy 12 b. 

® Mechiltay i6 

4 Sifrcy 62 b; P, K,y 113 Cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan.y i 288 , note 2. 

® Mechiltay i6 a. ^ Lev. R.y 9 8. 

® Ibid.y 56 a. 8 See P. K.y 144 3 . 

^ See Mechiltay 30 a, Cf. Num. P.y 21. 



GOD AND ISRAEL 


SI 

which I have done for you,” says God unto Israel, 
“were not performed with the purpose of being re- 
warded (by you), but that you honour me like children 
and call me your father.” ‘ The filial relationship suffers 
no interference, whether for good or evil, of a third 
person between Israel and God. Israel loves him and 
loves his house, no man indeed knowing the love which 
is between Israel and their Maker. And so does the 
Holy One, blessed be he, love them. He wants to hear 
Israel’s voice (as expressed in prayer), and is anxious 
for them to listen unto his voice.* According to another 
explanation (of Exod. 1415), Moses was given to under- 
stand that there was no need for his prayers, the Holy 
One by his intimate relation to Israel being almost 
himself in distress.* 

This paternal relation, according to the great major- 
ity of the Rabbis, is unconditional. Israel will be 

1 Exod, i?., 32 5. M, T,j 1 16 1, 

® Mechilta^ 29 by in the name of R. '’D'’ 3 bn p riyin. Some parallel 
to this strong confidence in the identity of Israel’s cause and God’s may 
be found in various utterances of Luther, as, ‘‘ Know that God so takes 
thee to himself, that thy enemies are his enemies ” ; or, “ He who 
despises me despises God ; or, God suffers and is despised and 
persecuted in us.” And when anxiously waiting for news from the 
Diet at Augsburg, I know,” he was overheard saying, or rather 
praying, “ that thou art our father and our God ; I am certain, there- 
fore, that thou art about to destroy the persecutors of thy children. If 
thou doest this not, then our danger is thine too. This business is 
wholly thine. We come to it under compulsion. Thou, therefore, 
defend.” See the preface of the Bishop of Durham (p. xi) to the 
volume, Lo 7 tibard Street in Lent, See also Mr. Beard in his Hibbert 
Lectures^ p. 87. 



52 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

chastised for its sins, even more severely than other 
nations for theirs; but this is only another proof of 
God’s fatherly love. For it was only through suffering 
that Israel obtained the greatest gifts from heaven,^ 
and what is still more important to note is, that it was 
affliction which “reconciled and attached the son to 
the father (Israel to God).” ^ “The Israelites are 
God’s children even when full of blemishes,” and the 
words, “A seed of evildoers, children that are corrupt” 
(Isa. I 4), are cited as a proof that even corruption can- 
not entirely destroy the natural relation between father 
and child.^ Indeed, when Isaiah received the call, 
“the Holy One, blessed be he, said unto him, ‘Isaiah! 
my children are troublesome and rebellious. If thou 
dost take upon thyself to be insulted and beaten by 
my children thou wilt be sent as my messenger, not 
otherwise!’ Isaiah answered, ‘Yes, on this condition. 
As it is said, “I gave my back to smiters and my checks 
to them that plucked off the hair (Isa. 50 0),” I am 
not even worthy to carry messages to thy children.’ ” * 
But Elijah, the Rabbis say, who in his zeal denounced 
Israel, saying, “I have been very jealous for the Lord 
God of hosts; because the children of Israel have 
forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and 
slain thy prophets with the sword” (i Kings 19 14), 

^ See Berachothy 5 and Exod, R,y I 1. 

* Sifre, 73 b. Cf. M. T., 96. 3 sifre, 133 a, 133 b. 

* Lev, R.y 10 ‘2 and references. Cf. also Exod. R., 7 8, regarding the 
call of Moses and Aaron. 



GOD AND ISRAEL 


53 


was dismissed with the answer, “ I have no desire in thy 
prophecy”; and his prophetic office was transferred to 
the milder Elisha, the son of Shaphat, who was anointed 
in Elijah’s place (19 le). Likewise is the Prophet 
Hosea rebuked for his refraining from praying for 
Israel, God saying unto him. They are my beloved 
ones, the sons of my beloved ones, the sons of Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob. For this is indeed the glory 
of both patriarchs and prophets, that they are pre- 
pared to give themselves (as an atoning sacrifice) for 
Israel; as, for instance, Moses, who said in case 
God would not forgive the sin of Israel, “Blot me, I 
pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” 
(Exod. 23 32 ). Jeremiah, however, who proved him- 
self just as jealous for the glory of the son (Israel) 
as for the glory of the father (God), saying as he did, 
“We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast 
not pardoned” (Lam. 3 42) (thus though confessing 
Israel’s guilt, still reproaching God, so to speak, for 
his declining to forgive), was rewarded by the con- 
tinuation of his gift of prophecy, as it is said, “And 
he adds besides unto them many like words” (Jer. 
36 32 ). ‘ And, it is on the strength of this view of 
childship that some of the prophets pleaded with God 
on behalf of Israel. “Behold,” they said to the Holy 
One, blessed be he, “thou sayest (because of their 
transgressions) they are not any longer thy children, 

^ See Mechilta, 2 a. See also Pesachim^ 87 a and 5 . E. Z., p. 187, 
text and notes. 



54 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

but they are recognisable by their countenances as it 
is said, ‘All that see them shall acknowledge them 
that they are the seed, which the Lord has blessed’ 
(Is. 6i 9). As it is the way of the Father to be merci- 
ful with his children though they sin, so thou wilt 
have mercy with them (notwithstanding their relapses). 
This is (the meaning of the verse) : ‘ But now, O Lord, 
thou art our father. ... Be not wroth very sore, 
O Lord, neither remember iniquity forever’” (Isa. 64 
8, 9 ).‘ Indeed, God says, after you (Israel) stood on 
the mount of Sinai and received the Torah and I 
wrote of you that I love you ; and since I loved you, 
how could I hate you (considering that I loved you as 
children) ? * 

The only opponent to the view of the majority re- 
garding the paternal relation is R. Judah, who limits 
it to the time when Israel acts as children should act.® 
When R. Akiba, in a time of great distress, opened the 
public service with the formula, “Our father, our 
king, we have sinned against thee ; our father, our king, 
forgive us,” he only expressed the view of the great 
majority, that Israel may claim their filial privileges 
even if they have sinned.^ The formula of the daily 
confession, “Forgive us, O our Father, for we have 
sinned,” points in the same direction. In fact, the 

1 Exod A\, 46 4. 

2 See Exod. R.y 32 2. Cf. Commentaries a, /. 

8 Sifrcy 133 ^ and b. Cf. also 94 a and Kiddushitiy 36 a, 

* Taaniihy 26 b. See Rabbinowitz, Variae LectioneSy a. /., and Baer, 
p, 1 19, text and commentary. Cf. Low, Gesammelte Schrifien, i isi. 



GOD AND ISRAEL 


ss 


term “Father,” or “Our Father, who is in heaven,” 
or “My Father, who is in heaven,” is one of the most 
frequent in the Jewish Prayer Book and the subsequent 
liturgy. The latter seems to have been a favourite 
expression with the Tanna of the school of Elijah, 
who very often introduces his comments on the Bible 
(a mixture of homiletics and prayer) with the words, 
“My Father in heaven, may thy great name be blessed 
for all eternity, and mayest thou have delight in thy 
people Israel.” ‘ Another consequence of this fatherly 
relation is that Israel feels a certain ease and delight in 
the fulfilment of the Law which to slaves is burdensome 
and perplexing. For “the son who serves his father 
serves him with joy, saying, ‘Even if I do not entirely 
succeed (in carrying out his commandments), yet, as a 
loving father, he will not be angry with me’; whilst 
the Gentile slave is always afraid lest he may commit 
some fault, and therefore serves God in a condition 
of anxiety and confusion.” ^ Indeed, when Israel 
feels uneasy because of their having to stand in judge- 

1 See S. E., pp. 51, 53, 83, 89, 100, no, 115, 121. The formula 
D'tsirnu? 'ax occurs on p. 112 eight times. Cf. Friedmann’s Intro- 
duction, p. 80. 

^ Tan. no, 19. Israel’s relation to God seems only then to assume 
the aspect of slavery, when the whole nation is determined to aposta- 
tise. Then God enforces his mastership over them by the right of pos- 
session. This seems to me the meaning of the rather obscure passage 
in Exod. K., 24, l, “[ip Hlab q'SK DX X"-t. Cf. Hid. 3, § 6, where 
a distinction is made between the individual and the greater number 
of Israel, to the former free action being left ; this contains undoubt- 
edly a deep historical truth. See also Si/rej 112 d. 



56 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

ment before God, the angels say unto them, “ Fear 
ye not the judgement. . . . Know ye not him? He 
is your next of kin, he is your brother, but what is 
more, he is your father.” ‘ 

^M. T., 1 1810 . 



IV 


ELECTION OF ISRAEL 

The quotations in the preceding chapter will suffice 
to show the confidence with the Rabbis felt in the 
especially intimate relations existing between God and 
Israel. This renders it necessary to make here some 
reference to the doctrine of Israel’s election by God, 
which in fact is only another term for this special 
relation between the two. To love means in fact, 
to choose or to elect.” The doctrine has found no 
place in Maimonidcs’ Thirteen Articles of the Creed, 
but still even a cursory perusal of Bible and Talmud 
leaves no doubt that the notion of the election always 
maintained in Jewish consciousness the character of at 
least an unformulated dogma. ^ 

The Rabbinic belief in the election of Israel finds, 
perhaps, its clearest expression in a prayer which 
begins as follows: ‘‘Thou hast chosen us from all 
peoples; thou hast loved us and taken pleasure in us, 
and hast exalted us above all tongues ; thou hast 
sanctified us by thy commandments and brought us 
near unto thy service; O our King, thou hast called 
us by thy great and holy name.” These words, which 

^ See Weiss, 3 soi. Cf. Kaufmann, J. Q. R.^ 2 442. 

57 



58 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Still breathe a certain scriptural air, are based, as may 
be easily seen, on the Biblical passages of Deut. lo is, 
142; Ps. 149 2; and Jer. 14 27 .‘ There was thus 
hardly any necessity for the Rabbis to give any reasons 
for their belief in this doctrine, resting as it does on 
ample Biblical authority; though, as it would seem, 
they were not quite unconscious of the difficulties which 
such a doctrine involves. Thus Moses is represented 
by them as asking God; “Why out of all the seventy 
nations of the world dost thou give me instructions 
only about Israel?” the commandments of the Torah 
being mostly addressed to the “children of Israel” 
{e.g. Exod. 3 15 , 31 .‘SO, 33 6, Lev. 24 2);* whilst in 
another place we read, with reference to Deut. 7 7 , 
that God says to Israel, “Not because you are 
greater than other nations did I choose you, nor be- 
cause you obey my injunctions more than the nations; 
for they (the nations) follow my commandments, 
even though they were not bidden to do it, and also 
magnify my name more than you, as it is said, ‘From 
the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the 
same, my name is great among the Gentiles’” (Mai. 
I 11).® The answers given to these and similar ques- 

^ See Singer, p. 227, and Baer, p. 247. This is the introductory prayer 
to the original liturgy for the festivals. In olden times the morning 
prayer for Sabbaths began with the same prayer. See Zunz, Die 
Ritus^ p. 13. The benediction over the sanctification cup on festivals 
opens with a similar formula. 

2 See P. K.y 16 a seq. and Lev. R., 2 4. 

* Tan., SpU, 2. See also Tan. B., 59 a. 



ELECTION OF ISRAEL 


59 


tions are various. According to some Rabbis, Israel’s 
election was, as it would seem, predestined before the 
creation of the world (just as was the name of the 
Messiah), and sanctified unto the name of God 
even before the universe was called into existence.’ 
Israel was there before the world was created and is 
still existing now and will continue to exist in the fu- 
ture (by reason of its attachment to God).^ “The 
matter is to be compared to a king who was desiring 
to build; but when he was digging for the purpose of 
laying the foundations, he found only swamps and 
mire. At last he hit on a rock, when he said, ‘Here 
I will build.’ So, too, when God was about to create 
the world, he foresaw the sinful generation of Enosh 
(when man began to profane the name of the Lord), 
and the wicked generations of the deluge (which said 
unto God, ‘Depart from us’), and he said, ‘How shall 
I create the world whilst these generations are certain 
to provoke me (by their crimes and sins) ? ’ But when 
he perceived that Abraham would one day arise, he 
said, ‘ Behold, I have found the pelra on which to build 
and base the world.’ ” The patriarch Abraham is called 
the rock (Isa. 51 1.2); and so Israel are called the 
rocks (Num. 33 9 ).^ They are an obstinate race 
and their faith in God is not a shifting one, and, 
as a later author expresses it, if you leave them no 

^ See Gen. i 4 and S. E., p. i6o. ^ See Tan.^ I2, 

® Yelamdenu quoted by the Yalkut, Nuf?t.^ § 766. Cf. Exod, 

15 17. See also below, p. 173. 



6o SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

alternative but apostasy or crucifixion, they are cer- 
tain to prefer the latter/ “Hence the thought of 
Israel’s creation preceded the creation of the world.” 
According to other Rabbis, Israel’s claim to the elec- 
tion is because they declared God as king on the Red 
Sea, and they said, “The Lord shall reign for ever 
and ever” (Exod. 15 is). According to others again, 
it was on account of their having accepted the yoke 
of his kingdom on Mount Sinai.^ Why did the Holy 
One, blessed be he, choose Israel? Because all the 
other nations declared the Torah unfit and refused to 
accept it, whilst Israel agreed and chose God and his 
Torah.^ Another opinion maintains that it was be- 
cause of Israel’s humbleness and meekness that they 
were found worthy of becoming the chosen people.^ 
This may perhaps be connected with the view expressed 
that God’s reason for the election of Israel was the 
fact that they are the persecuted ones, all the great 
Biblical characters such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 
Moses, David, having been oppressed and especially 
chosen by God.® From another place it would seem 
that it is the holiness of Israel which made them 
worthy of the election.® It is worth noting, however, 
that the passage in which the reason of Israel’s meek- 
ness is advanced concludes with the reminder that God 

1 See Exod. R.^ 42 9. Cf. Nachmanides to Deut. 7 7, and see also 
Friedmann, ]V 2 Cn, p. 12. 

2 See P. K.y 16 and 17 ^7 and parallels. 

® Num. R.f 14 10. ^ 7 dn. B.y 5 9 ^ See Lev. R., 27 6. 

® See Si/re, 94 a (§ 97), but the meaning is not quite clear. 



ELECTION OF ISRAEL 


6i 


says, “ My soul volunteered to love them, though they 
are not worthy of it,” quoting as a proof from the 
Scriptures the verse, “I will love them freely” (Hos. 
145).* This suggests that even those Rabbis who tried 
to establish Israel’s special claim on their exceptional 
merits were not altogether unconscious of the insuffi- 
ciency of the reason of works in this respect, and there- 
fore had also recourse to the love of God, which is not 
given as a reward, but is offered freely. When an old 
Roman matron challenged R. Jose (b. Chalafta) with the 
words, “ Whomsoever your God likes he brings near unto 
him (elects),” the Rabbi answered her that God indeed 
knows whom to select : in him whom he secs good 
deeds he chooses him and brings him near unto him.* 
But the great majority of the Rabbis are silent about 
merits, and attribute the election to a mere act of 
grace (or love) on the part of God. And he is repre- 
sented as having answered Moses’ question cited 
above, “I give these instructions about Israel (and 
not about the nations) because they are beloved unto 
me more than all other nations ; for they are my peculiar 
treasure, and upon them I did set my love, and them 
I have chosen.”* “Praised be the Omnipresent ” 
(makom), exclaims the Tanna of the school of Elijah, 
“blessed be he, who chose Israel from among all the 

^ Tan. B.f 5 0 ar. 

2 See Midrask Shemuel B., 8 2, and N'um. 7 ?., 3 2, text and commen- 
taries. 

8 Tan., Ktrn “’D, 8. 



62 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


nations, and made them verily his own, and called them 
children and servants unto his name . . . and all this 
because of the love with which he loved them, and the 
joy with which he rejoiced in them.” * 

It must, however, be noted that this doctrine of 
election — and it is difficult to see how any revealed 
religion can dispense with it — was not quite of so 
exclusive a nature as is commonly imagined. For it 
is only the privilege of the first-born which the Rabbis 
claim for Israel, that they are the first in God’s kingdom, 
not the exclusion of other nations. A God “who had 
faith in the world when he created it,” ^ who mourned 
over its moral decay, which compelled him to punish 
it with the deluge, as a father mourns over the death 
of his son,® and who, but for their sins, longed to make 
his abode among its inhabitants,^ is not to be sup- 
posed to have entirely given up all relations with the 
great majority of mankind, or to have ceased to take 
any concern in their well-being. “Though his good- 
ness, loving-kindness, and mercy are with Israel, his 
right hand is always stretched forward to receive all 
those who come into the world, ... as it is said, 
‘Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall 
swear’” (Isa. 45 2.3). For this confession from the 
Gentiles the Holy One is waiting.® In fact, it did not 

1 See . 9 . E.f p. 129 and p. 127. Cf. Tan. E., 4 9 a. 

2 Sifre^ 1 32 b. 

^ Gen. R., 27 4. Cf. Sanhedrin^ 108 a. See also above, p. 37. 

^ P. R.^ 27 b and parallels. 

^ See Mechilta^ 38 b. Cf. M. T., 100 1. 



ELECTION OF ISRAEL 


63 


escape the composers of the Liturgy that the same 
prophet by whom they established their claim to elec- 
tion called God “the King of the Gentiles” (Jer. 107), 
and on this the Rabbis remark that God said to the 
prophet, “Thou callest me the King of the Gentiles. 
Am I not also the King of Israel?”* The seeming 
difference again between “I am the Lord, the God of 
all flesh” (Jer. 32 27), and “the Lord of hosts, the 
God of Israel” (ver. 15), or between the verse “Three 
times in the year all thy males shall appear before the 
Lord God” (Exod. 23 17) and another passage en- 
joining the same law, but where God is called “the 
Lord God, the God of Israel” (34 2.3), is explained by 
the Rabbis to indicate the double relation of God to 
the world in general, and to Israel in particular. He 
is the Lord of all nations, while his name is especially 
attached to Israel.* Of more importance is the inter- 
pretation given to Deut. 6 4 , “Hear, O Israel,” etc. 

7 ’., 931 . 

2 See Mechilta, 102 a, and Sifre, 73 a. The text is in a rather cor- 
rupt state, I have partly followed here the text of the MHG.y which 
on Exod. 34 24 reads : blS’ * ch^V 'K 3 bo bv '':K jTlK plKH ’JB riK 

nx b"n nabn n'bu bi3' b"n ps Ksva nriK 

I'*?!? Dbiu 'kb bs bv "jk mbx nra xn • 'n jnxn •'ob. 

Friedmann’s suggestion (in Mechilta^ ibid,^ note 156) that the original 
explanation was in ‘’D (not D'’lOBtrD) is thus confirmed, though, 

of course, the Mechilta of the compiler of the MHG. is not the 
same as ours. In Deut. 6 4, the same Ms. has 'H 13 KSCVS 

"rtra bD ’nbx 'n ':x n:n naxj ibb xbm 7-ia ix na bx"ia>'' 'nbx 

both verses taken from Jeremiah. Cf. Introduction to Ruth R,^ i i. 
Cf. Mechilta^ of R. Simon, p. 164. 



64 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


(the Shema), which runs as follows: “He is our God 
by making his name particularly attached to us; but 
he is also the one God of all mankind. He is our God 
in this world, he will be the only God in the world to 
come, as it is said. And the Lord shall be King over 
all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, 
and his name one” (Zech. 14 9 ).‘ For, “in this world, 
the creatures, through the insinuations of the evil 
inclination, have divided themselves into various 
tongues, but in the world to come they will agree with 
one consent to call only on his name, as it is said, 
‘For then I will restore to the people a pure language, 
that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to 
serve him with one consent’” (Zeph. 3 o).^ Thus 
the Shema not only contains a metaphysical state- 
ment (about the unity of God), but expresses a hope and 
belief — for everything connected with this verse has 
a certain dogmatic value — in the ultimate universal 
kingdom of God.’* 

* See Mechilta and Sifre, ibid. T follow the reading of the 3113 Pip*? 
to Deut. 6 4, which seems to me to be the best one, and is also sup- 
ported by quotations in Mss. Cf. the commentaries of Rashi, Ibn 
Ezra, Nachmanides, and Bachye on this verse. See also Mechiliay 44 a, 
text and note 20. 

^ Tan,f Hi, 19, and Tan, B.y I 28 b, the source of which is the 
Sifre, See Rashi’s commentary, just referred to, where also the verse 
in Zephaniah is cited. 

^ See Rosh Hashanah^ 32 and Tosefta, ibid. 213, that the Shema 
is taken by the consent of the majority as implying Cf. also 

below, p. 96, note 2, and p. 133, note 2. 



V 


THE KINGDOM OF GOD (INVISIBLE) 

The concluding words of the last chapter, “The 
kingdom of God,” derived from the Shema, have 
brought us to a theological doctrine described by some 
Rabbis as the very “Truth (or essence) of the Torah,” ^ 
or as another Rabbi called it, “The ^weighty’ law.” 
The typical expressions in the Bible, “I am the Lord 
your God,” or “I am the Lord,” are also thought by 
the Rabbis to suggest the idea of the kingship.'^ It is 
at once the centre and the circumference of Rabbinic 
divinity. God is king and hence claiming authority; 
the king is God, and therefore the manifestation and 
assertion of this authority are the subject of Israel’s 
prayers and solicitations. The conception has, of 
course, its origin in the Bible, in which God appears 
so often as a king with his various attributes, but it is 
the Rabbinic literature where we first meet with the 
term “ kingdom of heaven,” a term, as it seems, less 
expressive of an accomplished fact than of an undefined 

^ See Megillah^ i 6 d, and the commentary of R. Chananel to that 
passage as reproduced by the Tosafoth, in Gittin, 6 and Menachoth, 
32 by which is accepted in the text here. Cf. Kohut, Aruchy^,v, DtoK. 

2 See Mechilta of R, Simony p. 30, and Sifrey ig b. 

F 65 



66 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


and indefinable ideal, and hence capable of a wider in- 
terpretation and of varying aspects. 

For our present purpose it will be best to view it 
from its two larger aspects, the invisible kingdom and 
the visible kingdom. 

The invisible kingdom is mainly spiritual, expressive 
of a certain attitude of mind, and possessing a more 
individual character. “He who is desirous to receive 
upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven let 
him first prepare his body,‘ wash his hands, lay his 
Tephilin (phylacteries), read the Shema, and say his 
prayers.” Should he happen to be on a journey, then, 
for the purpose of receiving the yoke of the kingdom, 
he must “stop still and direct his heart to heaven in 
awe, trembling, and devotion, and (in the thought) of 
unifying the Name, and so read the Shema” ; after 
which he may say the rest of the prayers on his way.* 
The worshipper is even bidden to dwell so long in his 
devotional attitude of mind when uttering the words 
“only one” (in>^) as to declare God king in all the 
four corners of the world.® Communion with God by 
means of prayer through the removal of all intruding 
elements between man and his Maker, and through the 
implicit acceptance of God’s unity as well as an un- 

1 Berachoih, 14 b, 15 a. The cleansing here has nothing to do with 
priestly ablutions ; it means simply to prepare oneself in such a way 
as to be able to concentrate all one’s mind during the prayer without 
any disturbance. Cf. Jer, Berachoth, 4 r, 

2 Tan, I. Cf. Tan. B.j i •29 a, text and notes. 

* Berachoth^ 13 3 . 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {INVISIBLE) 67 

conditional surrender of mind and heart to his holy 
will, which the love of God expressed in the Shema 
implies, this is what is understood by the receiving of 
the kingdom of God. “What is the section of the 
Law where there is to be found the acceptance of the 
kingdom of heaven” to the exclusion of the worship 
of idols ? ask the Rabbis. The answer given is, 
“This is the Shema” ‘ But under the word idols 
are included all other beings besides God. “Some 
nations confess their allegiance to Michael, others to 
Gabriel; but Israel chose only the Lord; as it is 
said, ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul’ (Lam. 

3 24). This is the meaning of ‘Hear, O Israel,”’ etc.^ 
The Shema also implies the exclusion of any human 
mediator, Israel desiring, whether on earth or in 
heaven, none but God.^ It is in this sense that the 
scriptural words, “ there is none else beside thee ” (Deut. 

4 35), and “ The Lord, he is God, in heaven above 
and the earth beneath, there is none else ” (Deut. 4 39), 
are declared to imply kingship.^ 

What love of God means we learn from the inter- 
pretation given to the words, “And thou shalt love 
the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with 
all thy might” (Deut. 6 5). “Love God with all 
thy desires, even the evil Yezer (that is to say, 

1 Sifre, 34 b V'T 3 na oyoi bu'p. OLBerachoth, 13 a, and Deut. 
R., 2 31 , nnx 'n u’nbs 'n o'atp maba inrxr See also Sifre^ 8o <?, 
that this division of the Shema addresses itself to the individual, 

2 Deut, 2 84 . * Deut, D,, ibid,, § 33. Cf. Ag. Ber,, ch. 27. 

* Rosh Hashanah, 32 b. 



68 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


make thy earthly passions and fleshly desires instru- 
mental in the service of God), so that there may be no 
corner in thy heart divided against God.” Again, 
“ Love him with thy heart’s last drop of blood, and be 
prepared to give up thy soul for God, if he requires it. 
Love him under all conditions, both in times of bliss 
and happiness, and in times of distress and misfortune.* 
For every measure he metes out to thee, praise and 
thank him exceedingly.” ^ In a similar way the words, 
“To love the Lord your God” (Deut. ii is), are 
explained to mean, “Say not, I will study the Torah 
with the purpose of being called Sage or Rabbi, or to 
acquire fortune, or to be rewarded for it in the world 
to come; but do it for the sake of thy love to God, 
though the glory will come in the end.” ^ It is especially 
the love of self that is incompatible with the love of 
God or with the real belief in the unity. On this 
point the mediaeval philosophers and mystics dwell 
with special emphasis, of which the following may 
serve as specimens: R. Bachyc Ibn Bakudah, in his 
“Duties of the Heart”: “The things detrimental to 
the (belief) in the Unity are manifold. . . . Among 
them is the disguised polytheism (or providing God 
with a companion), as, for instance, the religious hy- 
pocrisy of various kinds (being in reality worship of 

1 Sifre, 73 a. Cf. Berachoth^ 6i b and parallels. 

^ Mishnah Berachotky 9 6. 

® Sifrey 79 by to be supplemented and corrected by the parallel, 84 b, 
Cf. Ncdariffiy 62 a. See also Nachmanides’ Commentary to the Pen- 
tateuch to Deut. 6 6. See also below, p. 162. 



THE KINGDOM OP GOD (INVISIBLE) 69 


man instead of worship of God) or when man combines 
with the worship of God the devotion to his own gain, as 
it is said, ‘There shall be no strange God in thee’ (Ps. 
81 10), on which our teachers remarked that it meant 
the strange god in the very body of man. . . ‘ R. 

Meir Ibn Gabbai (born 1420), in commenting on 
Deut. II 13 , rightly remarks, “It is clear from these 
words that he who serves God with any personal object 
in view loves none but himself, the Most High having 
no share in his service; whilst the original design was 
that man should perform his religious duties only for 
God’s sake, which alone means the establishing of the 
Unity of the Great Name both in action and in thought. 
. . . It is the man with such a purpose (aiming 
towards bringing about the perfect unity to the exclusion 
of all thought of self) who is called the lover of God.” ^ 
Furthermore, R. Moses Chayim Luzzatto, a mystic of 
the seventeenth century, when speaking of the function 
of love in religion, says: “The meaning of this love is 
that man should be longing and yearning after the 
nearness of him (God), blessed be he, and striving to 
reach his holiness (in the same manner) as he would 
pursue any object for which he feels a strong passion. 
He should feel that bliss and delight in mentioning his 
name, in uttering his praises and in occupying himself 
with the words of the Torah which a lover feels towards 
the wife of his youth, or the father towards his only 

1 See '"s iurn nianbn nmn. 

2 U?npn rni2», section TH’ ch. 28. 



70 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

son, finding delight in merely holding converse about 
them. . . . The man who loves his Maker with a 
real love requires no persuasion and inducement for 
his service. On the contrary, his heart will (on its 
own account) attract him to it. . . . This is indeed 
the degree (in the service of God) to be desired, to 
which our earlier saints, the saints of the Most High, 
attained to, as King David said, ‘As the heart panteth 
after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 
O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,’ 
and as the prophet said, ‘The desire of our soul is to 
thy name and to the remembrance of thee’ (Is. 26 s). 
This love must not be a love ‘depending on some- 
thing,’ that is, that man should not love God as his 
benefactor, making him rich and prosperous, but it 
must be like the love of a son to his father, a real 
natural love ... as it is said, ‘Is he not thy father 
who has bought thee?”’ ‘ 

“Her yoke is a golden ornament,” said Jesus, the 
son of Sirach, of Wisdom He considered it as a 
thing “glorious,” and invited mankind to put their 
necks under her yoke. The Rabbis likewise looked 
upon the yoke of the kingdom of God and the yoke of 
the Torah as the badge of real freedom. “And if thou 
hast brought thy neck under the yoke of the Torah she 
will watch over thee,” in both worlds.^ The yoke of 
this kingdom was not felt as a burden. If the Rabbis 

1 See Luzzatto, Warsaw, 1884, p. 27 b. 

2 See Ecclus. 6 so, 51 17, and 26 b (Hebrew), and cf. Kinyan Torah 
2; Erubifty 54 a:; and M, T,, 2 11. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (INVISIBLE) 


71 


had any dread, it was lest it might be removed from 
them. “I shall not hearken unto you,” said one of 
them to his disciples, who on a certain joyous occasion 
wanted him to avail himself of his legal privilege, and 
omit the saying of the SJtema; “I will not remove from 
myself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven even for a 
single moment.” ‘ Even to be under the wrath of this 
yoke is a bliss. When one Rabbi quoted the verse from 
Ezekiel, “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with 
a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with 
fury poured out, will I be king over you” (20 33), 
his colleague answered to the effect, Let the merciful 
continue his wrath with us, and redeem (and reign 
over us against our will).^ What the typical Rabbi 
longed for was that sublime moment when the daily 
professions of a long life might be confirmed by act. 
When R. Akiba, who died the death of a martyr, was 
in the hands of his torturers, he joyfully “received 
upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven (by 
reciting the Shema). When asked why he did so, he 
answered, ‘All my life I have recited this verse (‘And 
thou shalt love,’ etc.), and have longed for the hour 
when I could fulfil it. I loved him with all my heart, 
I loved him with all my fortunes. Now I have the 
opportunity to love him with all my soul. Therefore 
I repeat this verse in joyfulness.’ And thus he died.” ® 

^ Mishnahy Berachoih, 2 5. Cf. Rabbinowicz, Varia Lectiones a. I, 

2 Sanhedrin^ 105 a. Cf. Rashi, a. L 

^ See /er, Berachothy 14 b. means probably tortured, and 

has to be supplied by the parallel from Babli, Berachoth, 6 1 b. 



72 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


There is no indication of despair in Akiba’s death, but 
also no thought of a crown of martyrdom awaiting him 
for this glorious act.* He simply fulfils a command- 
ment of love, and he rejoices in fulfilling it. It is 
“ a love unto death,” ** suffering no separation. 
“Though God,” says Israel, “brings me into distress 
and embitters me, he shall lie betwixt my breasts,” ® 
and to be always in contact with the object of his love 
is Israel’s constant prayer. “Unite our hearts,” 
runs an old Rabbinic prayer, “to fear thy name; 
remove us from all thou hatest, and bring us near to 
all thou lovest, and be merciful unto us for thy name’s 
sake.” * Even fear is only another expression with 
them for love. “I feared in my joy, I rejoiced in my 
fear, and my love prevailed over all.” ^ 

Still more distinctly, though not more emphatically, 
is this thought of the constant union with God and the 
constant love of God expressed in the later Jewish 
authors, with whom it takes a certain mystical turn. 
“What is the essence of love to God?” says R. Bachye 

^ The words in Aboth,, 4 7, “ Make not (of the Torah) a crown,” are 
explained by R. Samuel de Ozedo, to mean the crown of the saints in 
the after-life ; any thought of reward, whether material or spiritual, 
whether in this world or in the next, being unworthy of the real 
worshipper of God. It may, of course, be questioned whether this 
was the real meaning of the Tanna’s saying ; but it is highly charac- 
teristic of the feelings of the Talmudical Jew in this respect. 

2 Mechilia, 37 

® See Shahbath, 88 on the interpretation of Song of Songs i 18. 
Cf. Cant, R, to this verse. 

^ Jer, Berachothy d. ^ See S, p. 3 . 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {INVISIBLE) 


73 


Ibn Bakudah mentioned above. “ It is the longing of 
the soul for an immediate union with him, to be 
absorbed in his superior light. For the soul, being a 
simple spiritual substance, is naturally attracted towards 
spiritual beings. And when she becomes aware of any 
being that could give her added strength and light, she 
devises means how to reach it, and clings to it in her 
thought . . . longing and desiring after it. This is the 
aim of her love. . . . And when the soul has realised 
God’s omnipotence and his greatness, she prostrates 
herself in dread before his greatness and glory, and re- 
mains in this state till she receives his assurance, when 
her fear and anxiety cease. Then she drinks of the cup 
of love to God. She has no other occupation than his 
service, no other thought than of him, no other intent 
than the accomplishment of his will, and no other 
utterance than his praise. If he deal kindly with her 
she will thank him, if he bring affliction on her she will 
submit willingly, and her trust in God and her love of 
God will always increase. So it was told of one of the 
saints that he used to rise up in the night and say: 
My God, thou hast brought upon me starvation and 
penury. Into the depth of darkness thou hast driven 
me, and thy might and strength hast thou taught me. 
But even if they burn me in fire, only the more will I 
love thee and rejoice in thee. For so said the prophet, 
‘And thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart.’” ‘ 

1 K"B 'n nanx nur maabn main, of one of the exiles from 

Spain — who was exposed by the captain of the vessel, in which he 



74 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


R. Eliezer of Worms writes to the effect : The meaning 
of this love is that the soul is full of the love of God 
and attached by the bonds of love in joyfulness and 
gladness of the heart. He is not one who serves his 
Master under compulsion. His love is burning in his 
heart urging him to serve God, and he rejoices so much 
to accomplish the will of the Creator even if they 
would seek to prevent him from it. . . . He does not 
serve him for his own profit or for his own glory. He 
says to himself, “ How, was I chosen and created to be 
a servant to the King of Glory, I, who am despised 
and rejected of men, I, who am to-day here and to- 
morrow in the grave ? ” When the soul sinks in the 
depths of awe, the spark of the love of the heart breaks 
out in flames and the inward joy increases . . . the 
men of divine wisdom think with joy of the heart of 
accomplishing the will of their Creator, of doing all his 
commandments with all their hearts. Such lovers think 
not of the pleasures of the world, nor are they con- 
cerned in the idle pastimes of their wives and families. 
They desire only to accomplish the will of God and to 
lead others to righteousness, to sanctify his name and 
to deliver up his soul for the sake of his love as Abraham 

had fled with his family, on a deserted island — something similar is 
reported. When his wife died from exhaustion, and his two children 
perished by famine, and he himself was in a fainting state, he ex- 
claimed: “O Lord of the world, great are the afflictions thou hast 
brought upon me, tempting me to leave the faith. But thou knowest 
that I shall not solve thy covenant (with us) until death,” 
j"3B nnxtp. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {INVISIBLE) 


75 


did. . . . They exalt not themselves, they speak no idle 
word, they see not the face of woman, they hear their 
reproach and answer not. All their thoughts are with 
their God. They sing sweet songs to him, and their 
whole frame of mind is glowing in the fire of their love 
to him.‘ An anonymous author (probably about the 
same period) says, “Those who believe that works are 
the main thing are mistaken. The most important 
matter is the heart. Work and words are only intended 
as preparatory actions to the devotion of the heart. 
The essence of all the commandments is to love God 
with all the heart. The glorious ones {i.e. the angels) 
fulfil none of the 613 commandments. They have 
neither mouth nor tongue, and yet they are absorbed 
in the glory of God by means of thought.” * R. Meir 
Ibn Gabbai (quoted above) expresses the same thought 
in words to the effect: The love of the Only Name 
forms the highest attainment (in the scale) of the service 
of the Sanctuary. For the perfect adoration worship 
demanded of the true worshipper is the service of the 
Unity, that is, the unification of the glorious and the 
Only Name. But the essence of Love is the true 
Unity, and the true Unity is what is termed Love. . . . 
And behold, the soul comes into the body from the abode 

1 See R. Eliezer of Worms, naiKn nW PIpll and D'l'Dn.n "IBD, 
Parma, § 300. The book Hpll is a casuistic book on questions of the 
Law. See also Dr. Giidemann, Culturgeschichte^ i lOO. 

2 Communicated by Dr. Giidemann, Culturgeschichte^ I I60, from a 

Munich Ms., D’’''nn emanating, as it seems, from the Franco- 

German school. 



76 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

of Love and Unity, therefore she is longing for their 
realisation and by loving the Beloved One (God), she 
maintains the heavenly relations as if they had never 
been interrupted through this earthly existence^ 

These instances, which could be multiplied by nu- 
merous other extracts from the later devotional litera- 
ture and hymnology, suffice to show that there are 
enough individualistic elements in Judaism to satisfy 
all the longings of the religionist whose bent lies to- 
wards mysticism. And just as every Israelite “ could 
always pour out his private griefs and joys before 
him who fashioneth the hearts,” so was he able to 
satisfy his longing for perfect communion with his God 
(who is ‘ nigh to all them who call upon him ’) by 
means of simple love, without the aid of any forcible 
means. 

It must, however, be remarked that this satisfying 
the needs of anybody and everybody is not the highest 
aim which Judaism set before itself. Altogether, one 
might venture to express the opinion that the now 
fashionable lest of determining the worth of a religion 
by its capability to supply the various demands of the 
great market of the believers has something low and 
mercenary about it. Nothing less than a good old 
honest heathen pantheon would satisfy the crazes and 
cravings of our present pampered humanity, with its 
pagan reminiscences, its metaphysical confusion of 

1 tr-npn Section niH' ch. 28. 'n'asn nin'n nanxm 

nanx xnpjn Kin 'n'laKn mmm. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (INVISIBLE) 


77 


languages and theological idiosyncrasies. True religion 
is above these demands. It is not a Jack-of-all-trades, 
meaning monotheism to the philosopher, pluralism to 
the crowd, some mysterious Nothing to the agnostic, 
Pantheism to the poet, service of man to the hero- 
worshipper. Its mission is just as much to teach the 
world that there are false gods as to bring it nearer to 
the true one. Abraham, the friend of God, who was 
destined to become the first winner of souls, began his 
career, according to the legend, with breaking idols, 
and it is his particular glory to have been in oppo- 
sition to the whole world. ‘ Judaism means to convert 
the world, not to convert itself. It will not die in 
order not to live. It disdains a victory by defeating 
itself in giving up its essential doctrines and its most 
vital teaching. It has confidence in the world; it 
hopes, it prays, and waits patiently for the great day 
when the world will be ripe for its acceptance. 

Nor is the individual — the pet of modern theology — 
with his heartburnings and mystical longings, of such 
importance that Judaism can spend its whole strength 
on him. De Wette was certainly guilty of a gross 
exaggeration when he maintained “ that all mysticism 
tends to a more refined lust, to a feasting upon the 
feelings” — something like our conceited culture dandy, 
who is eaten up with the admiration of his vague de- 
nials and half-hearted affirmations. For undoubtedly 

1 See Gittt. R., 38 la, and 42 a (the explanations of R. Judah to '“lam) ; 
cf. Beer, Leben Abrahams^ p. 8 seq. 



78 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

every religion can boast of saintly mystics who did 
much good service to their own creed and to the world 
at large. Indeed, no creed worthy of the name could 
or would ever dispense with that sprinkling of mystics 
representing the deeper elements of saintliness and re- 
ligious dcUcacy. But they were of little use either to 
themselves or to the world when they emancipated 
themselves from the control of the law. For it cannot 
be denied that the mystic has not always shown himself 
very trustworthy in his mission. Instead of being ab- 
sorbed by God, he has absorbed God in himself. His 
tendency towards antinomianism, and to regard law and 
works as beneath him, is also a sad historic fact. But 
the worst feature about him is his egoism, the king- 
dom of God within him never passing beyond the 
limits of his insignificant self, who is the exclusive 
object of his own devotions. The Rabbis often speak 
of the reward awaiting the righteous after their death 
as consisting, not in material pleasures, but in feeding 
on, or revelling in, the divine glory.* But such a vision 
“of the blissfulness of the spirit” is wisely confined to 
the next world, when the Great Sabbath will break 
upon us, when all things will be at rest. In this world, 
“the world of activity,” the righteous have no such 
peace; they have to labour and to suffer with their 
fellow-creatures; and even such a sublime quietism as 
revelling in God may, without strong control, too easily 
degenerate into a sort of religious epicureanism. It 


^ See Berachothy 17a and parallels. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {INVISIBLE) 


79 


would seem as though it were with an eye to such 
‘‘idle spirituality,’’ that with reference to Deut. 6 6, 
“ And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart,” the Rabbis make the remark, “ I know not in 
which way they should love the Holy One, blessed be 
he,” therefore the Scripture continues, “And these 
words which I command thee this day, shall be in 
thine heart ” (Deut. 6 6), which means, “ Place these 
words upon thy heart, for through them thou wilt learn 
to know the Holy One, blessed be he, and cleave unto 
his ways.” ^ And “ these ways,” as we shall see, con- 
cern this world. The best control is thus to work to- 
wards establishing the visible kingdom of God in the 
present world. This, the highest goal religion can 
strive to reach, Judaism never lost sight of. It always 
remained the cherished burden of its most ardent 
prayers and the object of its dearest hopes. 

1 See Sifre^ 74 a. 



VI 


THE VISIBLE KINGDOM (UNIVERSAL) 

The visible kingdom may be viewed from two aspects, 
national and universal. An attempt will be made to 
give the outlines of these Aspects as they are to be 
traced in Rabbinic literature. 

‘‘Before God created the world,” we read in the 
Chapters of R. Eliezcr, “there was none but God and 
his great name.” The great name is the tetragram- 
maton, the name expressive of his being, the “I am.” 
All other names, or rather attributes, such as Lord, 
Almighty, Judge, Merciful, indicative of his relation 
to the world and its government, had naturally no 
meaning before the world was created. The act of 
creation again is a manifestation of God’s holy will 
and goodness; but it requires a responsive goodness 
on the part of those whom he intends to create. For 
“ whatever the Holy One, blessed be he, created in 
his world, he created but for his glory, for it is said, 
Every one that is called by my name : for I have created 
him for my glory. I have formed him; yea, I have 
made him (Is. 437), and again it is said. The Lord 
shall reign for ever and ever (Exod. 15 is).” “The 
Lord has made everything for himself” (Prov. 164), 

80 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM {UNIVERSAL) 8l 

and heaven and earth, angels and planets, waters and 
herbs and trees and birds and beasts, all join in the 
great chorus of praise to God. But the attribute of 
kingship apparently does not come into full operation 
before the creation of man. Hence, “when the Holy 
One, blessed be he, consulted the Torah as to the 
creation of the world, she answered, ‘Master of the 
world (to be created), if there be no host, over whom 
will the king reign, and if there be no peoples praising 
him, where is the glory of the king ? ’ The Lord of the 
world heard the answer, and it pleased him.” ‘ 

To effect this object, the angels already in existence 
did not suffice. “When God had created the world,” 
one of the later Midrashim records, “he produced on 
the second day the angels with their natural inclination 
to do good, and an absolute inability to commit sin. 
On the following days he created the beasts with their 
exclusively animal desires. But he was pleased with 
neither of these extremes. ‘If the angels follow my 
will,’ said God, ‘it is only on account of their in- 
ability to act in the opposite direction. I shall, there- 
fore, create man, who will be a combination of both 
angel and beast, so that he will be able to follow either 
the good or the evil inclination.’” ^ His evil deeds will 

^ See P. P. E.f ch. 3. The thought of the world, and especially man, 
having been created for God’s glory, is very common in Jewish literature. 
Cf. A. R. 67 by text and notes at the end; Tan. i; Exod. 

R. 17 : 1 and M. T., 148 6. 

2 Quoted in the p"aD, § 53. Cf. Tan. B.y Introduction, 76 b. Cf. 
below, p. 261, note i. 



82 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


place him below the level of the brutes, whilst his noble 
aspirations will raise him above the angels. 

In short, it is not slaves, heaven-born though they 
may be, that can make the kingdom glorious. God 
wants to reign over free agents, and it is their obedience 
which he desires to obtain. Man becomes thus the 
centre of creation, for he is the only object in which the 
kingship could come into full expression. Hence it is, 
as it would seem, that on the sixth day, after God had 
finished all his work, including man, that God became 
king over the world. ‘ 

Adam the First invites the whole creation over which 
he is master “to clothe God with majesty and strength,” 
and to declare him King, and he and all the other beings 
join in the song, “The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with 
majesty,” which forms now the substance of the 93d 
Psalm. ^ God can now rejoice in his world. This is 
the world inhabited by man, and when he viewed it, 
as it appeared before him in all its innocence and 
beauty, he exclaimed, “ My world, O that thou wouldst 
always look as graceful as thou lookest now.” “ Beau- 
tiful is the world,” a Rabbi exclaims, “ blessed be the 
Omnipresent who shaped it and created it by his 
word. Blessed art thou (world) in which the Holy 
One, blessed be he, is king.” •’ 

^ See Ilashanahy 31 assuming, of course, that the words 

rT'bu on the second day came into the text by a clerical error. 

Cf. Rabbinowicz, Variae^ Leciiones, aL A. R, iV., Appendix 76 and 
the Mishna, ed. Lowe, 191 a, 2 j 

* Gen. jR.^ 9 4. See also Exod, R., 15 22. Cf. also JVum. R., 101, 
that God longed to create the world. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM {UNIVERSAL) 83 

This state of gracefulness did not last long. The 
free agent abused his liberty, and sin came into the 
world, disfiguring both man and the scene of his 
activity. Rebellion against God was characteristic of 
the generations that followed. Their besetting sin, espe- 
cially that of the generation of the Deluge, which had 
to be wiped out from the face of the earth, was that 
they said, “There is no judge in the world,” it being 
“ an automaton.” ‘ They were the reverse of the faith- 
ful of later generations, that proclaimed God’s govern- 
ment and kingship in the world every day.^ They 
maintained that the world was forsaken by God, and 
said unto God, “ Depart from us, for we desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21 14 ).® The name of 
God was profaned by its transfer to abominations 
(or idols), and violence and vice became the order of 
the day.^ By these sins God was removed from the 
world in which he longed to fix his abode, and the 
reign of righteousness and justice ceased. The world 
was thus thrown into a chaotic state of darkness for 
twenty generations, from Adam to Abraham, all of them 
continuing to provoke God.® With Abraham the light 
returned,® for he was the first to call God master 
a name which declares God to be the Ruler of the 

^ A, 7?. iV., 47 and parallels. M. 7 \, i 21. 

2 See M. T, ibid. 

« See Sanhedrin, 108 a. Cf. also P. R. E., ch. 24, with special ref- 
erence to the generation of Nimrod, who threw off the yoke of heaven. 

^ See Mechilta, 67 b. See also Pseudo-Jonathan, Gen. 4 26 . 

® See A both, 5 1, and commentaries. ® See Gen, R,, 3 8. 



84 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


world, and concerned in the actions of mend Abraham 
was also the first great missionary in the world, the 
friend of God, who makes him beloved by his creatures, 
and wins souls for him, bidding them, even as he bade 
his children, to keep the way of the Lord, to do 
righteousness and judgement^ It was by this activity 
that Abraham brought God again nearer to the world; ® 
or, as the Rabbis express it in another passage, which we 
already had occasion to quote : Before Abraham made 
God known to his creatures he had been only the God 
(or the king of the heavens), but since Abraham came 
(and commenced his proselytising activity) he has be- 
come also the God and the King of the earth; ^ Jacob 
also is supposed by the Rabbis to have taught his 
children before his death the ways of God, whereupon 
they received the yoke of the kingdom of heaven.® 
Hence the patriarchs (as models and propagators of 
righteousness) became, as mentioned above, the very 
throne of God, his kingdom being based upon man- 
kind’s knowledge of him, and their realisation of his 
nearness.® 

But the throne of God is not secure as long as the 
recognition of the kingship is only the possession of a 
few individuals. At the very time when the patriarch 

^ Berachothy 7 b. See Edcles’ Commentary to the passage. 

2 See Sifre, 73 a and parallels. 

^ P. K.y I by and P. R.y iZK 

^ Sifrgy 134 by where the word occurs. 

® See Num. A\y 2 8. See also Gen. P.y 93 8 and parallels. 

® See above, p. 33. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM {UNIVERSAL) 85 

was teaching righteousness, there were the entire com- 
munities of Sodom and Gomorrah committed to idolatry 
and the basest vices,' whilst in the age of Moses, Pha- 
raoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his 
voice ? ” ^ The kingship is therefore uncertain until 
there was called into existence a whole people “ which 
knows God,” is sanctified unto his name, and devoted 
to the proclamation of his unity.® “If my people,” 
God says to the angels, “decline to proclaim me as 
King upon earth, my kingdom ceases also in heaven.” 
Hence Israel says unto God, “Though thou wast from 
eternity the same ere the world was created, and the 
same since the world has been created, yet thy throne 
was not established and thou wast not known ; but in 
the hour when we stood by the Red Sea, and recited a 
song before thee, thy kingdom became firmly established 
and thy throne was firmly set.” ' The establishment of 
the Idngdom is indicated in the eighteenth verse of the 
Song (Shirah), where it is said, “The Lord shall be 
king for ever and ever.” But even more vital proofs 
of their readiness to enter into the kingdom, Israel gave 
on the day of “the glorious meeting” on Mount Sinai, 
when they answered in one voice, “All that the Lord 
hath said we will do, and be obedient” (Exod. 24. 7 ).® 
This unconditional surrender to the will of God in- 

^ Sanhedrin, ro8 a and parallels. 

2 See Maimnnides' Mishneh Torah, T"n niD*:’.'!, which 

seems to be a paraphrase of some Midrash. Cf. Num. R., 2 6. 

® See Agadatk Shir Hashirirn, pp. ii, 53. 

^ See Exod, R,, 23 1. & See R, K,, ly a. 



86 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


vested Israel, according to the Rabbis, with a special 
beauty and grace.* And by the manifestation of the 
knowledge of God through the act of the revelation 
the world resumes its native gracefulness, which makes 
it again heaven-like, whilst God finds more delight in 
men than in angels.* 

There is a remarkable passage in the Mechilta, in 
which Israel is strongly censured because in the song at 
the Red Sea, instead of using the present tense, 

“ God is King,” they said “[to 'H, “God shall he 
King,” thus deferring the establishment of the king- 
dom to an indefinite future.* Israel had accordingly 
some sort of foreboding of the evil times to come, a 
foreboding which was amply justified by the course of 
history. Israel soon rebelled against the kingdom. 
There was the rebellious act of the Golden Calf, which 
took place on the very spot where the kingdom was 
proclaimed, and which was followed by other acts of 

* See Midrash Agadah, ed. B. 171 a. Cf. the Targum to Song of 
Songs, 7 7. 

* See Exod. R., 51 8, and parallels. 

® See Mechilta, 44 a, in the name of R. Jose of Galilee. The text 
in the editions is corrupt. In the M. //. G. it runs : EsbiU*? "[iblS’ 'H 

nobtr Kb -IV) obiu nba 'n bKi®' naa ibK 'aiK •'ov n ‘nui 
’jca ’Kiab Tnrb abiub iiba’ 'n KbK mabai naiK ora 
riK Drrbi? air’i ‘bbaa nine niaba nv-is did ks "d na 
amsK •'33 inbnDi “[n'ria iKsn ^a» bsK arTbo *D'n 'a 
D’lstaa nromr jb 3 • "[“naa apu- nnsipa itt pnr vit laniK 
D'n ^ina nira'a labn bKiw '331 ’“i3'a'' nra3K> n3a\ cf. Tar- 

gum Onkelos to this verse, whose paraphrase may have been intended 
to avoid the difficulty felt by R. Jose. Cf., however, Nachmanides* 
commentary to this verse and his reference to Onkelos. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM (UNIVERSAL) 87 

rebellion against God.’ “In the days of Joshua b. 
Nun, Israel received upon themselves the kingdom of 
heaven in love . . . and their reward was that God 
regarded them as pupils in the house of their teacher 
and children gathered round the table of their father, 
and he apportioned to them a blessing.” * Then came 
again continual relapses, and the sons of Eli were 
called h'S'h:^ ■' 33 , the sons of Belial, — men who threw 
off the yoke of God * and denied the kingdom of 
heaven,’ but “in the times of the prophet Samuel, Israel 
(again) received upon themselves the kingdom of heaven 
in fear . . . and their reward was that God came down 
from the upper heavens, the place of his glory . . . 
and abode with them during the battle (with the 
Philistines), and apportioned to them a blessing.” ‘ 
After David came the decay, and Solomon is described 
as one who threw off the yoke of God.* The division 
of the ten tribes under Jeroboam was also regarded as 
a rebellion against the kingdom of God. The Rabbis 
interpreted 2 Samuel 20. 1, as if the original reading 
had been tT’K, “ Every man io his gods, 

O Israel” (instead of to his tents).’’ Even the princes 

1 See Num, 7 ?., 72. S. E,, p. 86. ® See Sifre, 93 b, 

^ See Yalkutto Shemuel, § 86, and Midrash Sheniuel^ B. p. 31 by from 
which the passage in question was taken. The marginal reference to 
T* K, (39 d) refers only to the first lines of the passage, which 
Schottgen (1149) confused. See Ecc/es. E,, 1 18. 

^ 5 . E.f p. 86. ® Ai'um. E,, 4 10. 

The rebellion of the Belial Sheba, the son of Bichri, is only a prel- 
ude to that effected by Jeroboam. See Midrash Shemuely B. ch. 42 b^ 
§ 4, and notes, and Mcchilta, 39 a, ID etc. 



88 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


of Judah at a later time “broke the yoke of the Holy 
One, blessed be he, and took upon themselves the yoke 
of the King of Flesh and Blood.” The phrase, 
“broke” or “removed” the yoke, is not uncommon 
in Rabbinic literature, and has a theological meaning. 
The passage just cited refers probably to some deifica- 
tion of Roman emperors by Jewish apostates, and not 
exactly to a political revolt.^ 

Yet, notwithstanding all these relapses, one great end 
was achieved, and this was, that there existed a whole 
people who did once select God as their king. Over 
the people as a whole, as already hinted, God asserts 
his right to maintain his kingdom. Thus the Rabbis 
interpret Ezekiel 20 33, “Without your consent and 
against your will I (God) shall be King over you;” and 
when the elders of Israel remonstrate, “We are now 
among the Gentiles, and have therefore no reason for 
not throwing off the yoke of his kingdom,” the Holy One 
answers, “This shall not come to pass, for I will send 
my prophets, who will lead you back under my wings.” * 
The right of possession is thus enforced by an inner 
process, the prophets being a part of the people; and 
so there will always be among them a remnant which 
will remain true to their mission of preaching the king- 
dom. The remnant is naturally small in number, but 

1 See A, R, N,, 36 b. See, however, Bacher, Ag. Tan,, i 68, 
note I, and the reference there to Weiss Cf. Beth Talmud, 

2, 888-334. 

See T, K,, 112 b, Cf. Sanhedrin, 105 a and parallels. Cf. also 
Exod, .^.,32, and above, p. 55, note 2. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM {UNIVERSAL) 89 


is sufficient to keep the idea of the kingdom alive. 
“God saw,” say the Rabbis, “that the righteous were 
sparse; he therefore planted them in (or distributed 
them over) all generations, as it is said (2 Samuel i 8), 
‘ For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he has 
set the world upon them.’” The pillars, according to 
the Rabbinical explanation, are the righteous, who, by 
the fact of their being devoted to the Lord, form the 
foundation of the spiritual world. ‘ 

We will now try to sum up in some clearer way the 
results to which the preceding statements mostly con- 
sisting of Rabbinical quotations, may lead us. We 
learn first that the kingdom of God is in this world. 
In the next world, if we understand by it the heavens, 
or any other sphere where angels and ethereal souls 
dwell, there is no object in the kingdom. The term 
“kingdom of heaven” must therefore be taken in the 
sense in which heaven is equivalent to God, not locally, 
as if the kingdom were located in the celestial spheres. 
The term ’HT 1113*7X2 in the Prayer Book,^ the kingdom 
of the Almighty, may be safely regarded as a synonym 
of D''X2tr ms'ia. 

This kingdom again is established on earth by man’s 
consciousness that God is near to him; whilst nearness 
^ YomUy 38 l>, 

2 Beginning JllpS p hv, see below, p. 94. Cf. A, 7 ?. iV., 36 where 
he speaks of H'Opn StT instead of which certain Mss. have all 
bit?. The mystical literature, it should be noted, speaks of 
angels ‘‘ taking upon themselves the yoke of the kingdom of heaven.” 
See Singer, p. 38 and Baer, p. 132. 



go SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


of God to man means the knowledge of God’s ways to 
do righteousness and judgement. In other words, it is 
the sense of duty and responsibility to the heavenly king 
who is concerned in and superintends our actions. 
“Behold thou art fair, my love,” says God to Israel, 
“you are fair through the giving of alms and perform- 
ing acts of loving-kindness ; you (Israel) are my lovers 
and friends when you walk in my ways. As the 
Omnipresent is merciful and gracious, long-suffering 
and abundant in goodness, so be ye . . . feeding the 
hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, 
ransoming the captives, and marrying the orphans. 
. . . They will behold the Right One, which is the Holy 
One, blessed be he, as it is said, ‘ A God of truth and 
without iniquity, just and Right is he’” (Deut. 32 4).' 
“The hill of the Lord,” and “the tabernacle of God” 
in the Psalms, in which only the workers of righteous- 
ness and the pure-hearted shall abide, are kingdoms 
of God in miniature. 

The idea of the kingdom may thus be conceived as 
ethical (not exactly eschatological) and it was in this 
sense perhaps that the Rabbis considered the patriarchs 
and the prophets as the preachers of the kingdom. 
It is not even exactly identical with the law or the Torah. 
Why do we read, ask the Rabbis, first the Shema {i.e. 
Deut. 6. 4-9), and afterwards the section Deut. ii 13 , 
commencing with the words, “And it shall come to 
pass if ye will hearken diligently unto my command- 

^ See Agadath Shir Hashiriniy p. i8, and p. 6i. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM (UNIVERSAL) 


91 


ments ” ? This is done, say the Rabbis, to the end that 
we may receive upon ourselves first the yoke of the 
kingdom and afterwards the yoke of the command- 
ments.* The law is thus only a necessary consequence 
of the kingdom, but not identical with it.* 

Indeed, the Torah itself indicates its relation to the 
Kingdom; for the Rabbis say in allusion to Deut. 32 
29, “ Had Israel looked properly into the words of the 
Torah that were revealed to them, no nation would 
have ever gained dominion over them. And what did 
she (the Torah) say unto them? Receive upon your- 
selves the yoke of the kingdom of my name ; outweigh 
each other in the fear of heaven, and let your conduct 

^ Berachothy 13^. 

2 In this connection reference may be had to the following Mid- 
rashic passage alluding to Zech. 99 : ‘‘ Rejoice greatly, O daughter 
of Zion, , . . behold thy King is coming unto thee. . . God says 
to Israel : ** Ye righteous of the world, the words of the Torah are im- 
portant for me ; ye were attached to the Torah, but did not hope for 
my kingdom. I take an oath that with regard to those who hope for 
my kingdom I shall myself bear witness for their good. . . . These 
are the mourners over Zion who are humble in spirit, who hear their 
offence and answer not, and never claim merit for themselves.” Lec- 
tor Friedmann, in his commentary on the Pesikta, perceives in this very 
obscure passage the emphatic expression of the importance of the king- 
dom, which is more universal than the words of the Torah ; the latter 
having only the aim of preparing mankind for the kingdom. See P, 
R.y 159 ay text and notes (especially note 23). To me it seems that 
the passage has probably to be taken in the sense of the text communi- 
cated from Friedmann’s D'’nBD 3 , below, p. 292. There are, also, very 
grave doubts as to the age and character of all these Messianic 
Pesiktoth, See Friedmann’s interesting note, ibid,y p. 164 a^ 164 
though he defends their genuineness. 



92 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


be mutual loving-kindness.” ’ Among the features of 
the kingdom, the fear of God and the love of one’s 
neighbor are thus found to be prominent. 

Nor, again, is the kingdom of God political. The 
patriarchs in the mind of the Rabbis did not figure 
prominently as worldly princes, but as teachers of 
the kingdom.^ The idea of theocracy as opposed to 
any other form of government was quite foreign to 
the Rabbis. There is not the slightest hint in the whole 
Rabbinic literature that the Rabbis gave any preference 
to a hierarchy with an ecclesiastical head who pretends 
to be the vice-regent of God, over a secular prince who 
derives his authority from the divine right of his dynasty.* 
Every authority, according to the creed of the Rabbis, 
was appointed by heaven ; * but they had also the sad 
experience that each in its turn rebelled against heaven. 
The high priests, Menelaus and Alcimus, were just as 
wicked and as ready to betray their nation and their 

1 Si/re, 138^. Perhaps we ought to read instead of 

Cf. also S. E.f p. 143 : ** And thus said the Holy One, blessed be he, My 
beloved children, do I miss anything (which you could give me) ? I 
want nothing but that you love each other, respect each other, and that 
no sin or ugly thing be found among you.” 

2 There are some legends in which Abraham appears in the capacity 

of a prince, cf. 42 r>, but, it is not as a ruler, but as a teacher, 

that he figures mostly in Rabbinic literature. 

® See Renan, Hibhert Lectures^ p. 107, who has some apt remarks 
on this point, but which are at the same time greatly disfigured by his 
mania of generalising on Semitic religions. 

^ See Berachoth^ 58 a. With regard to Rome in particular, see 
Abodah Zarah, 17 a, D’Dwn [o ma’ban II naiKui. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM {UNIVERSAL) 


93 


God as the laymen, Herod and Archelaus, who owed 
their throne to Roman machinations. 

If, then, the kingdom of God was thus originally 
intended to be in the midst of men and for men at large 
(as represented by Adam), if its first preachers were, 
like Abraham, ex-heathens, who addressed themselves 
to heathens, if, again, the essence of their preaching 
was righteousness and justice, and if, lastly, the king- 
dom does not mean a hierarchy, but any form of gov- 
ernment conducted on the principles of righteousness, 
holiness, justice, and charitableness, then we may safely 
maintain that the kingdom of God, as taught by 
Judaism in one of its aspects, is universal in its aims. 

Hence the universal tone generally prevalent in all 
the kingship prayers The foremost among 

these arc the concluding lines of the kingship bene- 
diction recited on the New Year, running thus; “Our 
God and God of our fathers, reign thou in thy glory 
over the whole universe, and be exalted above all the 
earth in thine honour, and shine forth in the splendour 
and excellence of thy might, upon all the inhabitants 
of thy world, that whatsoever hath been made may 
know that thou hast made it, and whatsoever hath been 
created may understand that thou hast created it, and 
whatsoever hath breath in its nostrils, may say, the 
Lord God of Israel is King, and his dominion ruleth 
over all. ... O purify our hearts to serve thee in 
truth, for thou art God in truth, and thy word is truth, 
and endureth forever. Blessed art thou, O Lord, 



94 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

King over all the earth, who sanctifiest Israel and the 
Day of Memorial.” ‘ A later variation of this benedic- 
tion, forming now a part both of the kingship prayers 
and of the daily prayer, is the passage referred to 
above, expressing the hope of Israel for the future, in 
the following exalted language: “We therefore hope 
in thee, O Lord our God, that we may speedily behold 
the glory of thy might, when thou wilt remove the 
abominations from the earth, and the idols will be 
utterly cut off, when the world will be perfected under 
the kingdom of the Almighty, and all the children 
of flesh will call upon thy name, when thou wilt turn 
unto thyself all the wicked of the earth. Let all 
the inhabitants of the world perceive and know that 
unto thee every knee must bow, every tongue must 
swear. Before thee, O Lord our God, let them bow 
and fall; and unto thy glorious name let them give 
honour ; let them all accept the yoke of thy kingdom, 
and do thou reign over them speedily, and for ever and 
ever. For the kingdom is thine, and to all eternity 
thou wilt reign in glory ; as it is written in thy Torah, 
the Lord shall reign for ever and ever.” ^ One of the 
evening benedictions in the German ritual, which 
probably formed once the whole of the evening prayer, 
concludes with the following passages: “ Our God 
who art in heaven, assert the unity of thy name, and 

' See Singer, p. 249, and Baer, p. 399. 

2 Singer, pp. 76 and 247, and Baer, ibid,, pp. 132 and 398. See 
above, p. 89. 



THE VISIBLE KINGDOM (UNIVERSAL) 


95 


establish thy kingdom continually, and reign over us 
for ever and ever. May our eyes behold, our hearts 
rejoice, and our souls be glad in thy true salvation, 
when it shall be said unto Zion, Thy God reigneth. 
The Lord reigneth : the Lord hath reigned ; the Lord 
shall reign for ever and ever : for the kingdom is thine, 
and to everlasting thou wilt reign in glory ; for we have 
no king but thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the 
King, who constantly in his glory will reign over us 
and over all his works for ever and ever.” ‘ The 
Kaddish (the “Sanctification”), again, which is recited 
several times a day, in every synagogue, commences 
with the words: “Magnified and sanctified be his 
great Name in the world which he hath created accord- 
ing to his will. And may he establish his kingdom 
during your life and during your days,” ^ etc. A 
variation of it is the prayer sung before the reading of 
the law on the Sabbath, after the declaration of the 
unity by the Shema and other verses, “ Magnified and 
hallowed ... be the name of the King of Kings of 
Kings, the Holy One, blessed be he, in the worlds 
which he hath created, — this world and the world to 
come.” * The magnifying of God’s name, as a con- 
sequence, both of his Unity and of his Kingship, finds 
also expression in the first line of an ancient prayer 

1 Cf. Singer, p. loi ; Baer, p. 169. 

2 Baer, p. 129. See Singer, p. 75. 

® See Baer, p. 224. Cf. Mueller, Masechet Soferim^ ch. 25, and p. 196. 
See also Singer, p. 146. 



96 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


known to the Geonim: “Our King, our God, assert 
the unity of thy name in thy world, assert the unity of 
thy kingdom in thy world.” ‘ In this connection it is 
worth noting that citations from the Scriptures em- 
bodied in the Kingship Benediction conclude with the 
verse from Deut. 6 4 , “Hear, O Israel,” etc., which 
proves again the close relation between the doctrine 
of the Unity and that of God’s universal Kingdom,^ 
which belief is among others well illustrated by the 
words of R. Bachye Ibn Chalwah, who says: “And it 
is well known that the real Unity (will only be realised 
in the days of the Messiah, for in the times of subjec- 
tion of Israel) the signs of the Unity are not discernible 
(the worship of mankind being distributed among many 
unworthy objects), so that the denying of the truth is 
constantly in the increase. But with the advent of the 
Messiah all the nations will turn to one creed, and the 
world will be perfected under the Kingdom of the Al- 
mighty, all of them agreeing to worship the name and 
to call upon the name of God. Then only will the 
unity of God become common in the mouth of all 
the nations. This is the promise the prophet made 
for the future; “And the Lord shall be King over all 
the earth : in that day shall the Lord be One and his 
name One.” ^ 

^ See Seder Rab Amraniy p. 9 a, 

2 Baer, ibid., p. 399, and cf. above, p. 64, note 3. 

® H^Spn “ 13 , end of the chapter 



VII 


THE KINGDOM OF GOD (NATIONAL) 

The Kingship Prayer, just cited, is introduced by 
another group of prayers relating also to the kingdom 
of heaven, but containing at the same time emphatic 
references to Israel’s connection with it. These prayers 
have for their burden the speedy advent of the day in 
which all creatures will form one single band to do 
God’s will with a perfect heart, when righteousness 
will triumph, and the pious and the saints will rejoice ; 
but also when God will give glory to his people, joys 
to his land, gladness to his city, and a clear shining 
light unto his Messiah, the son of Jesse. They con- 
clude with the words, ‘‘ And thou, O Lord, shalt reign, 
thou alone over all thy works on Mount Zion, the dwell- 
ing place of thy glory, and in Jerusalem, thy holy city, 
as it is written in thy Holy words, ^ The Lord shall 
reign for ever, thy God of Zion, unto all generations. 
Praise ye the Lord ’ ” (Ps. 146 10). The prayer of the 
Geonim also continues with the words, Build thy 
house, establish thy Temple, bring near thy Messiah, 
and rejoice thy congregation.” Indeed, the credit 
is given to Israel that they suppress the Evil Yezer, 
declare his (God’s) unity, and proclaim him as king 
H 97 



98 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


every day, and wait for his kingdom, and hope to 
see the building of his Temple, and say every day, 
“The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth 
together the outcasts of Israel ” (Ps. 147 2).' The 
idea of the kingdom is accordingly often so closely con- 
nected with the redemption of Israel from the exile, the 
advent of the Messiah, and the restoration of the Tem- 
ple, as to be inseparable from it. This is its national 
aspect. “ Israel are the people for whose sake (or 
Zachuih) the world was created ; and it is on them that 
the world was based.” Israel, again, as we have seen, 
are the people, who, by their glorious acts at the Red 
Sea, and especially by their readiness at Mount Sinai 
to receive the yoke of the kingdom, became the very 
pillars of the throne. To add here another passage 
of the same nature, the saying of R. Simon may be 
given, who expresses the idea in very bold language. 
Speaking of the supports of the world, and Israel’s 
part in them, he says: “As long as Israel is united into 
one league (that is, making bold front against any 
heresy denying the unity or the supremacy of God), the 
kingdom in heaven is maintained by them; whilst 
Israel’s falling off from God shakes the throne to its 
very foundation in heaven.” * The banishment of 
Israel from the holy land has the same consequence. 


* See Singer, p. 239 seg. ; Baer, p. 395 seg. ; Seder R. Amram, 
9fl; Friedmann, D‘'nDD 3 , p. 56. 

2 See Exod. R. 38 4. See also Midrash Shefnuely B. 5, ii and refer- 
ences. Cf. Bacher, Ag. Tan, 2 140 , note i. See also above, p. 85. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {NATIONAL) 


99 


Thus said the congregation of Israel before the Holy 
One, blessed be he, “ Is there a king without a throne ; 
is there a king without a crown; is there a king 
without a palace ? ‘ How long wilt thou forget me, O 

Lord ? ”’ (Ps. 13 2)d Jerusalem, which the Prophet (Jer. 
3 17) called the throne of the Lord, becomes identified 
with it; and Amalek, who destroyed the holy city, is 
guilty of rebellion against God and his kingdom.* 
Therefore neither the throne of God nor his holy name 
is perfect (that is to say, fully revealed) as long as 
the children of the Amalekites exist in the world.® And 
just as Israel are the bearers of the name of God, so the 
Amalekites are the representatives of idolatry and every 
base thing antagonistic to God, so that R. Eleazar of 
Modyim thinks that the existence of the one necessarily 
involves the destruction of the other. “When will the 
name of the Amalekites be wiped out?” he exclaims. 
“ Not before both the idols and their worshippers cease 
to exist, when God will be alone in the world and his 
kingdom established for ever and ever.” ^ These 
passages, to which many more of a similar nature might 
be added, are the more calculated to give to the king- 
dom of heaven a national aspect, when we remember 
that Amalek is only another name for his ancestor 
Esau, who is the father of Edom, who is but a prototype 
for Rome. With this kingdom, represented in Jewish 

131. •^P.K.,2Za. 

^ P. K.f 2 g P, P., a and parallels. 

^ Mechilta^ 56 a, 56 b, Cf. M. T. 97 ; i and 99 : i. 



100 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

literature by the fourth beast of the vision of Daniel,* 
Israel according to the Rabbis is at deadly feud, a feud 
which began before its ancestors even perceived that the 
light of the world is perpetually carried on by their 
descendants, and will only be brought to an end with 
history itself.* The contest over the birthright is in- 
dicative of the struggle for supremacy between Israel 
and Rome. It would seem even as if Israel despairs 
of asserting the claims of his acquired birthright, and 
concedes this world to Esau. “Two worlds there are,” 
Jacob says unto Esau, “this world and the world to 
come. In this world there is eating and drinking, but 
in the next world there are the righteous, who with 
crowns on their heads revel in the glory of the divine 
presence. Choose as first-born the world which pleases 
thee. Esau chose this world.” * Jacob’s promise to 
join his brother at Seir meant that meeting in the dis- 
tant future, when the Messiah of Israel will appear 
and the Holy One will make his kingdom shine 
forth over Israel, as it is said (Obadiah 21): “And 
saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the 
mount of Esau ; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” * 

* See Lev, R., 130 and parallels. Valuable information on this 
point is to be found in Senior Sachs’s edition of the Carmina Sancta 
Solomonis Ibn Gabirol, pp. 70-100. Cf. also Zunz, Synagogale Poesie, 
P- 437 See also A. Epstein, Beitrage %ur jiidischen AUerthums- 
kunde, p. 35. 

* Gen. A’., 61, §§ 6, 7, 9. 

* See Friedmann, D'nSDJ, 26 b and P. K., 59 b, 

* Gen. R., jS and parallels. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (NATIONAL) 


lOI 


Thus the kingdom of heaven stands in opposition to the 
kingdom of Rome, and becomes connected with the 
kingdom of Israel, and it is in conformity with this 
sentiment that a Rabbi, picturing the glorious spring, 
in which the budding of Israel’s redemption will first 
be perceived, exclaims: “The time has arrived when 
the reign of the wdcked will break down and Israel will 
be redeemed ; the time has come for the extermination 
of the kingdom of wickedness ; the time has come for 
the revelation of the kingdom of heaven, and the voice 
of the Messiah is heard in our land.” ^ 

This is only a specimen of dozens of interpretations 
of the same nature, round which a whole world of 
myths and legend grew up, in which the chiliastic ele- 
ment, with all its excesses, was strongly emphasised. 
They fluctuate and change with the great historical 
events and the varying influences by which they were 
suggested.^ But there are also fixed elements in them 

1 See F. A". , 50 and P. A., 75 a, text and notes. 

2 Dr. Joseph Klausner’s Die messianischen Vorstellungen im Zeitalter 

der Tamiaiten is very instructive, though not all his results seem to me 
acceptable. See also Dr. Julius H. Greenstone’s The Messiah Idea in 
Jewish History^ which gives also references to the latest literature on 
the subject, including the Rev. Dr. R. H. Charles’ Eschatology, On 
the whole I think that R. Isaac Abarbanel’s noble con- 

tains still the best presentation of the Rabbinic belief in the Messiah, 
as entertained by the great majority of Rabbinic Jews. (See es- 
pecially in his fourteen articles, D'’“)p'’D.) The statement by some 
moderns, to the effect that Rabbinism did not hold the belief in a 
personal Messiah essential, is unscientific and needs no refutation for 
those who are acquainted with the literature. 



102 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


which axe to be found in the Rabbinic literatvure of 
almost every age and date. These are : — 

I, The faith that the Messiah, a descendant of the 
house of David, will restore the kingdom of Israel, 
which under his sceptre will extend over the whole 
world. 2. The notion that a last terrible battle will 
take place with the enemies of God (or of Israel), who 
will strive against the establishment of the kingdom, 
and who will finally be destroyed. “When will the 
Lord be King for ever and ever? When the heathen 
— that is, the Romans — will have perished out of the 
land.” ‘ 3. The belief that the establishment of this 

new kingdom will be followed by the spiritual hege- 
mony of Israel, when all the nations will accept the 
belief in the unity of God, acknowledge his kingdom, 
and seek instruction from his law. 4. The conviction 
that it will be an age of material happiness as well 
as spiritual bliss for all those who are included in the 
kingdom,^ when further death will disappear and the 
dead will revive. 

1 See M. T., 10 7 . 

^ It should however be noticed that the authorities are not quite in 
agreement as to the date of resurrection, not all of them making 
it a condition of the Messianic times. Rabbi Hillel’s (fl. 3^ century) 
statement, “Israel has no hope for a Messiah” (^Sanhedrin 
entirely isolated. It should further be noticed that in some sources 
the kingdom of the Messiah is to a certain extent a preparation for the 
time when God himself will reign. Indeed, all the versions of the well- 
known Midrash of the 'fen Kings after the Messiah, the kingdom 
comes back to his first master, that is God, who was the first King after 
the creation of the world. The only place where the kingdom of Mes- 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (NATIONAL) 


The two ideas of the kingdom of heaven, over which 
God reigns, and the kingdom of Israel, in which the 
Messiah holds the sceptre, became thus almost identical. 

This identification has both narrowed, and to some 
extent even materialised, the notion of the kingdom. 
On the other hand, it also enriched it with certain fea- 
tures investing it with that amount of substance and 
reality which are most necessary, if an idea is not to 
become meaningless and lifeless. It is just this danger 
to which ideas are exposed in the process of their spirit- 
ualisation. That “the letter killeth, but the spirit 
giveth life,” is a truth of which Judaism, which did de- 
part very often from the letter, was as conscious as any 
other religion. Zcrachya ben Shealtiel, in his Commen- 
tary to Job ‘ 2 14, goes even so far as to say: “ Should 
I explain this chapter according to its letter, I should be 
a heretic, because I would have to make such conces- 
sions to Satan’s powers as are inconsistent with the 
belief in the Unity. I shall therefore interpret it 
according to the spirit of philosophy.” But, unfor- 
tunately, there is also an evil spirit which sometimes 
possesses itself of an idea and reduces it to a mere 

siah is identified with that of God is Pugio Fidei, by Raymundus, p. 397; 
but there is good reason to suppose that the text of Raymundus was 
tampered with for controversial purposes. See the literature on this 
point in the Expository vol. 7, 3d series, p. 108. Neubauer’s remarks 
there are far from convincing. See also Cassel in his Commentary 
to Esther, p. 263, where he gives a reference to the New Testament, 
I Corinthians 1528-28. 

1 Published in the nipH, a collection of commentaries to Job, 

by Schwartz. 



104 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

phantasm. The history of theology is greatly haunted 
by these unclean spirits. The best guard against them 
is to provide the idea with some definiteness and reality 
in which we can perceive the evidence of the spirit. 

This was the service rendered by the connection of 
the kingdom of Israel with the kingdom of God. It 
fixed the kingdom in this world. It had, of course, to 
be deferred to some indefinite period, but still its locale 
remained in our globe, not unknown regions in another 
world. It was extended from the individual to a 
whole nation, placing a whole people into its service 
and training it for this end, thus making the idea of 
the kingdom visible and tangible. A whole common- 
wealth, with all its institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, 
becomes part and parcel of the kingdom of God. 
The Lord has made all things for himself, for the 
glory of his kingdom, which includes all creation. 
But Israel understood their duty to the extent of giving 
in time of persecution their very lives rather than 
transgress the slightest law, as such a transgression at 
such a time involved the sin of profaning the Holy 
Name, and may be taken as a sign of apostasy or be- 
trayal of the kingdom. For they are indeed the very 
legions of the kingdom.' 

By this fact, it is true, the kingdom of God be- 
comes greatly nationalised. But even in this case it 
loses nothing of its spiritual features. For even in its 

^ See Tosephta Shabbaih^ p. 134; Agadaih Shir Hashiritn^ p. 34. 
See also above, p. 81, note i. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {NATIONAL) 


105 

identification with the nation, Israel is only the depos- 
itory of the kingdom, not the exclusive possessor of it. 
The idea of the kingdom is the palladium of the nation. 
According to some, it is the secret which has come 
down to them from the patriarchs ; ‘ according to 
others, the holy mystery of the angels overheard by 
Moses, which Israel continually proclaims.^ It has to 
be emphasised in every prayer and benediction,® 
whilst the main distinction of the most solemn prayers 
of the year on the New Year’s Day consists, as we 
have seen, in a detailed proclamation of the kingdom 
of God in all stages of history, past, present, and future. 
“Before we appeal to his mercy,” teach the Rabbis, 
“and before we pray for redemption, we must first 
make him King over us.” * We must also remember 
that Israel is not a nation in the common sense of the 
word. To the Rabbis, at least, it is not a nation by vir- 
tue of race or of certain peculiar political combinations. 
As R. Saadya expressed it, '5 QX HDIK HJrx 
(TnmriD (“ Because our nation is only a nation by rea- 
son of its Torah”).® The brutal Torah-less national- 
ism promulgated in certain quarters, would have been 
to the Rabbis just as hateful as the suicidal Torah-less 
universalism preached in other quarters. And if we 
could imagine for a moment Israel giving up its allegiance 

1 See Sifre^ 72 h, and the very instructive notes by the editor. 

2 Deut. R.f 2. ^ See Berachothy 12 a. 

^ See Sifrcy 19 and Rosh Ilashanahy 16 a. See also whole extract 
from the liturgy at the end of ch. 5. 

mym 3 : 7. 



lo6 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

to God, its Torah and its divine institutions, the Rabbis 
would be the first to sign its death-warrant as a nation. 
The prophecy (Isa.44rj), “Another shall subscribe with 
his hands unto the Lord,” means, according to the Rab- 
bis, the sinners who return unto him from their evil 
ways, whilst the words, “And surname himself by the 
name of Israel,” are explained to be proselytes who leave 
the heathen world to join Israel.* It is then by these 
means of repentance and proselytism that the kingdom of 
heaven, even in its connection with Israel, expands into 
the universal kingdom to which sinners and Gentiles 
are invited. It becomes a sort of spiritual imperialism 
with the necessary accompaniment of the doctrine of 
the “ Open Door” through which the whole of humanity 
might pass into the kingdom. “Open ye gates that 
the righteous people {Goi) which kcepeth the truth 
may enter in” (Isa. 26 2). It is not said that the 
Priests or the Levites or the Israelites may enter, but 
Goi (Gentile). “Behold even one of other nations who 
fulfils (the laws of) the Torah is (as good) as the very 
high priest.” ^ 

The antagonism between the kingdom of God and 
the kingdom of Rome, which is brought about by the 
connection of the former with that of Israel, suggests 
also a most important truth: Bad government is in- 
compatible with the kingdom of God. As already pointed 

^ Mediilta^ 95 b and parallels. 

2 T. K.y 86 h, taking the word in the sense of heathen, non-Jew, 
and stranger. See also below, p. 133. 



THE KINGDOM OF COD {NATIONAL) 


107 

out above, it is not the form of the Roman Government 
to which objection is taken, but its methods of ad- 
ministration and its oppressive rule. It is true that 
they tried “to render unto Caesar the things that were 
Caesar’s, and unto God the things that were God’s.” 
Thus they interpreted the words in Ecclesiastes 8 2: 
“I coimsel thee, keep the king’s commandments and 
that in regard of the oath of God,” in the following 
way; “I take an oath from you, not to rebel against 
the (Roman) Government, even if its decrees against 
you should be most oppressive; for you have to keep 
the king’s commands. But if you are bidden to deny 
God and give up the Torah, then obey no more.” And 
they proceed to illustrate it by the example of Han- 
aniah, Mishael, and Azariah, who are made to say to 
Nebuchadnezzar, “Thou art our king in matters con- 
cerning duties and taxes, but in things divine thy au- 
thority ceases, and therefore ‘we will not serve thy 
gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast 
put up.’” ‘ But compromises forced upon them by 
the political circumstances of the time must not be 
regarded as desirable ideals or real doctrine. Apart 
from the question as to the exact definition of things 
falling within the respective provinces of Cfesar and of 
God — • a c;[uestion which, after eighteen hundred years’ 
discussion, is still unsettled — there can be little doubt 
that the Rabbis looked with dismay upon a government 
which derived its authority from the deification of 

^ See Tan.f n3, lo, and Lev. 33 6. Cf. Num, 14 6. 



lo8 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

might, whereof the emperor was the incarnate princi- 
ple. Edom recognises no superior authority, saying, 
“Whom have I in heaven?”^ It represents iron 
(we would say blood and iron), a metal which was 
excluded from the tabernacle, the abode of the divine 
peace, ^ whilst its king of flesh and blood, whom Edom 
flatters in its ovations as being mighty, wise, powerful, 
merciful, just, and faithful, has not a single one of all 
these virtues, and is even the very reverse of what they 
express.'* 

But besides these differences the Rabbis held the 
Roman Government to be thoroughly corrupt in its 
administration; Esau preaches justice and practises 
violence. Their judges commit the very crimes for 
which they condemn others. They pretend to pun- 
ish crime, but are reconciled to it by bribery. Their 
motives are selfish, never drawing men near to them, 
except in their own interest and for their own ad- 
vantage. As soon as they see a man in a state of 
prosperity, they devise means how to possess themselves 
of his goods. In a word, Esau is rapacious and violent, 
especially the procurators sent out to the provinces, 
where they rob and murder, and when they return to 
Rome pretend to feed the poor with the money they 
have collected.^ Such a government was, according 

1 Lev. ^.,136. 2 gee Exod. 35 7. ® Mechilta^ 35 a, 

^ See Lev. R.^ ibid.; Ahoth, 2 3; Exod. 31 11; P. K. 95 b. 
Interesting is a passage in Mommsen^s History of Rome, 4, which shows 
that the Rabbis did not greatly exaggerate the cruelty of the Roman 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (NATIONAL) 


to the Rabbis, incompatible with the kingdom of heaven, 
and therefore the mission of Israel was to destroy it.* 

Another essential addition made to the kingdom of 
God by its connection with the kingdom of Israel is, as 
already indicated, the feature of material happiness. Pop- 
ular fancy pictured it in gorgeous colours : The rivers will 
flow with wine and honey, the trees will grow bread and 
delicacies, whilst in certain districts springs will break 
forth which will prove cures for all sorts of diseases. 
Altogether, disease and suffering will cease, and those 
who come into the kingdom with bodily defects, such 
as blindness, deafness, and other blemishes, will be 
healed. Men will multiply in a way not at all agree- 
able to the laws of political economy, and will enjoy 
a very long life, if they will die at all. War will, of 
course, disappear, and warriors will look upon their 
weapons as a reproach and an offence. Even the 
rapacious beasts will lose their powers of doing injury, 
and will become peaceful and harmless.^ Such are the 
details in which the Rabbis indulge in their descriptions 

Government, “ Any one who desire.s,” says our greatest historian of 
Rome, “ to fathom the depths to which men can sink in the criminal 
infliction, and in the no less criminal endurance of an inconceivable 
injustice, may gather together from the criminal records of this period 
the wrongs which Roman grandees could perpetuate, and Greeks, 
Syrians, and Phoenicians could suffer.” Cf. Joel’s Blickcj i. loo. How 
far matters improved under the emperors, at least with regard to the 
Jews, is still a question. 

^ Berachoth^ a. See Rabbinowicz, Variae Leciiones, a.l. 

2 See, for instance, Kethuboihy ill a ; Shabbathy 63 a ; Gen, R.y 12 6; 
M.//.G.^ 126 se^, ; see also Klausner (as above, p. loi), p. 108 se^. 



no SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

of the blissful times to come. We need not dwell upon 
them. There is much in them which is distasteful and 
childish. Still, when wc look at the underlying idea, 
we shall find that it is not without its spiritual truth. 
The kingdom of God is inconsistent with a state of 
social misery, engendered through poverty and want. 
Not that Judaism looked upon poverty, as some author 
has suggested, as a moral vice. Nothing can be a 
greater mistake. The Rabbis were themselves mostly 
recruited from the artisan and labouring classes, and 
of some we know that they lived in the greatest want. 
Certain Rabbis have even maintained that there is no 
quality becoming Israel more than poverty, for it is a 
means of spiritual purification.* Still, they did not 
hide from themselves the terrible fact that abject 
poverty has its great demoralising dangers. It is one 
of the three things which make man transgress the law 
of his Maker.^ 

But even if poverty would not have this effect, it 
would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven, as 
involving pain and suffering. The poor man, they 
hold, is dead as an influence, and his whole life, de- 
pending upon his fellows, is a perpetual passing through 
the tortures of hell.® But it is a graceful world which 
God has created, and it must not be disfigured by misery 
and suffering. It must return to its perfect state 
when the visible kingdom is established. As we shall 

^ Chagigahy g b, ^ Erubitty b. 

® Nedarifftf 7 and Berachoih, 6 b. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD (NATIONAL) 


111 


see in the sequence/ Judaism was certainly not wanting 
in theories, idealising suffering and trying to reconcile 
man with its existence. But, on the other hand, it 
did not recognise a chasm between flesh and spirit, the 
material and the spiritual world, so as to abandon 
entirely the one for the sake of the other. They are 
both the creatures of God, the body as well as the 
soul, and hence both the objects of his salvation. 

To a certain Jewish mystic of the last century, 
R. Moses Loeb, of Sasow, the question was put by one 
of his disciples to the effect, “Why did God, in whom 
everything originates, create the quality of scepticism?” 
The master’s answer was, “That thou mayest not let 
the poor starve, putting them off with the joys of the 
next world, or simply telling them to trust in God, who 
will help them, instead of supplying them with food.” * 

We venture to maintain with the mystic that a good 
dose of materialism is necessary for religion that we 
may not starve the world. It was by this that Judaism 
was preserved from the mistake of crying inward peace, 
when actually there was no peace; of speaking of in- 
ward liberty, when in truth this spiritual but spurious 
liberty only served as a means for persuading man to 
renounce his liberty altogether, confining the kingdom 
of God to a particular institution and handing over 
the world to the devil. 

1 See below, p. 309. 

2 See ntTDD, Lemberg, 1897, P* 39» which differs somewhat 

from the version I have heard often told, and which is given in the 
text. 



1 12 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


This is not the place to enter into the charity system 
of the Rabbis, nor to enlarge upon the measures taken 
by them so as to make charity superfluous. But having 
touched upon the subject of poverty, a few general 
remarks will not be out of place. In that brilliant essay 
known under the title of Ecce Homo, we meet the 
following statement; “The ideal of the economist, 
the ideal of the Old Testament writers, does not appear 
to be Christ’s. He feeds the poor, but it is not his great 
object to bring about a state of things in which the 
poorest shall be sure of a meal.” But it was just this 
which was included in the ideal of the Rabbis. They 
were not satisfied with feeding the poor. Not only 
did they make the authorities of every community 
responsible for the poor, and would even stigmatise 
them as murderers if their negligence should lead to 
starvation and death ; ‘ but their great ideal was not to 
allow man to be poor, not to allow him to come down 
into the depths of poverty. They say, “Try to prevent 
it by teaching him a trade, or by occupying him in 
your house as a servant, or make him work with you as 
your partner.” ^ Try all methods before you permit 
him to become an object of charity, which must de- 
grade him, tender as our dealings with him may be. 

Hence their violent protests against any sort of 
money speculation which must result in increasing 

^ See B. Sotahy 38 by and Jer, Sotahy 23 d. 

2 See T. K.y 109 by and Maimonides* Mishneh Torahy msntt niDSn 
T"' 'm 7"n '’"fi See also the older commentaries on Abothy i 6. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {NATIONAL) 


”3 


poverty : Thou lendest him money on the security 
of his estate with the object of joining his field to thine, 
his house to thine, and thou flatterest thyself to become 
the heir of the land; be sure of a truth that many 
houses will be desolate.* Those again who increase 
the price of food by artificial means, who give false 
measure, who lend on usury, and keep back the corn 
from the market, are classed by the Rabbis with the 
blasphemers and hypocrites, and God will never forget 
their works.^ 

To the employers of workmen again they say: 
“ This poor man ascends the highest scaffoldings, climbs 
the highest trees. For what does he expose himself 
to such dangers, if not for the purpose of earning his 
living ? Be careful, therefore, not to oppress him 
in his wages, for it means his very life.” ® On the 
other hand, they relieved the workman from reciting 
certain prayers when they interfered with his duty to 
his master.* 

From this consideration for the employer and the 
employed a whole set of laws emanate which try to 
regulate their mutual relations and duties. How far 
they would satisfy the modern economist I am unable 
to say. In general I should think that, excellent as 
they may have been for their own times, they would not 

1 See Introduction to Midrash to Lament, 22, on Isa. 5 8. 

2 See A, R, iV., 43 b ; Baba Bathra^ 90 a, 

® See Sifrey 123 by and B. Meziay and Berachothy 16 

* Berachothy a. 



II4 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

quite answer to our altered conditions and ever varying 
problems. But this need not prevent us from perceiv- 
ing, in any efforts to diminish poverty, a divine work to 
which they also contributed their share. For if the 
disappearance of poverty and suffering is a condition 
of the kingdom of the Messiah, or, in other words, of 
the kingdom of God, all wise social legislation in this 
respect must help towards its speedy advent. 

It is this kingdom, as depicted in the preceding re- 
marks in its larger features, with both its material and 
spiritual manifestations, that Israel is to express and 
establish. With this, it enters upon the stage of his- 
tory. With its varying fortunes its own destiny is 
inseparably connected ; and with Israel’s final triumph, 
the kingdom will become fully effective. Or, as the 
Rabbis expressed it, it is only “with the redemption of 
Israel that the kingdom of heaven will be complete.” 
Israel is the microcosm in which all the conditions of 
the kingdom are to find concrete expression. In the 
establishment of its institutions, in the reign of its law, 
in the peace and happiness of its people, the world 
would find the prototype and manifestation of these 
ideals in which universal holiness would be expressed. 
Not until these conditions were realised in Israel could 
like conditions obtain universally. The Rabbis have 
given expression to this correspondence of universalistic 
and national elements in the following statement: A 
solemn declaration has the Holy One, blessed be he, 
registered: I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD {NATIONAL) 115 

until Israel shall come to the earthly Jerusalem. Thus 
Rabbinic Judaism does find a perfect consonance be- 
tween Israel's establishment of the divine institutions 
in their full integrity in God’s own land, and the 
triumph in all its glory of the kingdom of Heaven.^ 

1 See M, 7*., 99 1 . See also Taanithy 5 b. The references speak of 
the oath. 



VIII 


THE ‘‘LAW’’ 

The Law derives its authority from the kingdom. 
For this, according to the Rabbis, is the meaning of 
the scriptural words, “I am the Lord thy God,” or 
“The Lord your God,” with which certain groups of 
laws are introduced (e,g, Exod. 222 and Lev. 182); 
that is, God makes his people conscious of the fact 
of his claims on them because of their having received 
his kingdom, saying unto them, “You have received 
my kingdom in love.” “Aye” and “Aye” answers 
Israel, wherefore God says, “If you have received my 
kingdom, you receive now my decrees.” ^ 

Now the current notions about the Law or Torah 
are still so misleading that before entering upon the 
meaning and theological significance of the “decrees,” 
a brief analysis of the term Torah seems most ad- 
visable. Even the hypothesis advanced by higher 
criticism, according to which it was just under the 
predominance of the Law that the Wisdom Literature 
was composed and most of the Psalms were written, 
had no effect on the general prejudice of theologians 
against the Torah. With a few exceptions our theo- 

^ T. d % Mechilta^ 67 < 2 , 67 b, 

1 16 



THE “LAW" 


117 

logians still enlarge upon the “ Night of Legalism,” 
from the darkness of which religion only emerges by 
a miracle supposed to have taken place about the year 
30 of our era/ 

An examination of the meaning of Torah and Miz- 
voth to the Jew will show that Legalism was neither 
the evil thing commonly imagined nor did it lead to the 
evil consequences assumed by our theologians. Nor 
has it ever constituted the whole religion of the Jew, as 
declared by most modern critics. 

It must first be stated that the term Law or 
Nomos is not a correct rendering of the Hebrew 
word Torah. The legalistic element, which might 
rightly be called the Law, represents only one side of 
the Torah. To the Jew the word Torah means a 
teaching or an instruction of any kind. It may be 
either a general principle or a specific injunction, 
whether it be found in the Pentateuch or in other 
parts of the Scriptures, or even outside of the canon. 
The juxtaposition in which Torah and Mizwoth, 
Teaching and Commandments, are to be found in 
the Rabbinic literature, implies already that the former 
means something more than merely the Law.* Torah 
and Mitzvoth are a complement to each other, or, as 
a Rabbi expressed it, “they borrow from each other, 
as wisdom and understanding — charity and loving- 

1 See Mr. Israel Jewish Quarterly Review^ ii : 626-642. 

See also Schechter, Studies in Judaism^ p. 219 seq. 

2 See, for instance, Berachoth, 31 ^ ; Makkoth^ 23 a ; Abothy 3 11. 



Ii8 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

kindness — the moon and the stars,” but they are 
not identical. ‘ To use the modern phraseology, to the 
Rabbinic Jew, Torah was both an institution and a 
faith. We shall treat them separately: first Torah, 
and then the Mitzvoth. 

It is true that in Rabbinic literature the term T orah 
is often applied to the Pentateuch to the exclusion of 
the Prophets and the Hagiographa.* But this is chiefly 
for the purpose of classification. It is also true that 
to a certain extent the Pentateuch is put on a higher 
level than the Prophets — the prophetic vision of Moses 
having been, as the Rabbis avow, much clearer than 
that of his successors.® But we must not forget that 
for the superiority of the Torah, they had the scriptural 
authority of the Torah itself (Num. 12 c-s, Deut. 
34 10), whilst on the other hand they could not 
find in the Prophets anything deprecatory of Moses’ 
superior authority. They may, occasionally, have 
felt some contradictions between the Prophets and the 
Torah, but only in matters of detail, not in matters of 
principle.^ 

1 See Exod, E., 31 16. 

2 See, for instance, Megillahf 31 a ; Baba Bathra^ 13 and 
elsewhere. 

® See /ebamoihf 49 b ; Lev, R,, I. 

^ See the well-known passages about Ezekiel in Shabbath^ I'^b, and 
Menachothy 45 a. The contradictions are there reconciled to the sat- 
isfaction of the Rabbis at least. See also below, p. 187. A contradic- 
tion which they did not try to reconcile was that between Isa. 6 1, 
“ I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne,” and Moses in Exod. 33 20, 
“For there shall no man see me, and live” (^/ebamoik, 49 b). See 



THE “LAW" 


119 

Of any real antagonism between Mosaism and 
“Leviticalism” and Prophetism, which modern criti- 
cism asserts to have brought to light, the Rabbis were 
absolutely unconscious. With the Rabbis, the Proph- 
ets formed only a complement or even a commen- 
tary to the Torah (a species of Agadah), which, 
indeed, needed explanation, as we shall see. Hence 
the naivete, as we may almost call it, with which the 
Rabbis chose, for reading on the Day of Atonement, 
the 58th chapter of Isaiah — one of the most prophetic 
pieces of prophetism — as the accompanying lesson for 
the portion from the Pentateuch, Leviticus 16 — the 
most Levitical piece in Leviticalism. 

But even the Pentateuch is no mere legal code, 
without edifying elements in it. The Book of Genesis, 
the greater part of Exodus, and even a part of Numbers 
are simple history, recording the past of humanity 
on its way to the kingdom, culminating in Israel’s 
entering it on Mount Sinai, and thei^ subsequent 
relapses. The Book of Deuteronomy, as the “Book 
containing the words of exhortation” (Tochachoth),‘ 
forms Israel’s Imilatio Dei, consisting chiefly in good- 
ness,^ and supplying to Israel its confession of faith 
(in the Shema ) ; whilst the Book of Leviticus — marvel 

Jolowicz’s Himmelfahrt^ etc., des Propheten Jesaiah, p. 7, Leipzig, 1854. 
But it is significant that it is the wicked Manasseh who saw this con- 
tradiction. 

1 Sifre, 64 a, 

2 See Sifre, 74 a, a ; Mechilta, yj a and parallels. See also 
below, p. 200. 



120 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


upon marvel — first proclaims that principle of loving 
one’s neighbour as one’s self (Lev. 19 is) which 
believers call Christianity, unbelievers, Humanity. 

The language of the Midrash would seem to imply 
that at a certain period there were people who held the 
narratives of the Bible in slight estimation, looking 
upon them as fictions (Piyutim) and useless stories. 
The Rabbis, however, reject such a thought with 
indignation. To them the whole of the Torah repre- 
sented the word of God, dictated by the Holy Spirit, 
suggesting edifying lessons everywhere, and embodying 
even while it speaks of the past, a history of humanity 
written in advance.^ “The Book of Generations of 
Adam,” that is, the history of the Genesis, in which 
the dignity of man is indicated by the fact of his having 
been created in the image of God, teaches, according 
to Ben Azai, even a greater principle than that of 
Lev. 19, in which the law of loving one’s neighbour as 
oneself is contained.^ Another Rabbi deduces from 
the repetitions in Gen. 24 the theory that the con- 
versation of the servants of the patriarchs is more 
beautiful than the laws even of later generations.* 
Another Rabbi remarks that the Torah as a legal code 
would only have commenced with Exod. 12, where 
the first (larger) group of laws is set forth, but God’s 
object was to show his people the power of his work, 

^ See Gen, R,, 85 2; Sifre, 33 a ; Sanhedrin, 99 b\ M, T,, 3 2. 

^ T, K,y 89 b, and parallels. Cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan,, i 720. 

® Gen, R,, 60 8. 



THE “LAW” 


I2I 

“that he may give them the inheritance of the heathen” 
(Ps. Ill 6), and thus, in the end, justify the later 
history of their conquests.* 

The Book of Genesis, which contains the history 
of this manifestation of God’s powers, as revealed in 
the act of creation as well as in the history of the patri- 
archs, and leads up to the story of the Exodus from 
Egypt, is, according to some Rabbis, the book of the 
covenant which Moses read to the people (Exod. 24 7 ) 
even before the act of revelation. To come into the 
possession of this book (the Book of Genesis), which 
unlocked before them one of the inner chambers 
of the king (or revealed to them the holy mysteries 
of God’s working in the world), was considered by the 
Rabbis one of the greatest privileges of Israel, given 
to them as a reward for their submission to God’s 
will.^ 

Thus Torah, even as represented by the Pentateuch, 
is not mere Law, the Rabbis having discerned and 
appreciated in it other than merely legal elements. 
Moreover, the term Torah is not always confined to 
the Pentateuch. It also extends, as already indicated, 
to the whole of the Scriptures on which the Rabbis 
“laboured” with the same spirit and devotion as on 
the Pentateuch. For indeed “the Torah is a triad, 
composed of Pentateuch, Prophets, and Hagiographa.” 
“Have I not written to thee the three things in counsels 

1 See Tan, B.y i 4 a:. Cf. Rashi to Gen. i i. 

« See Mechilta, 63 b. Cf. Cant. R., i 4 , on Vnn qbttn 



122 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

and in knowledge?”* That lessons from the Prophets 
almost always accompanied those taken from the 
Pentateuch is a well-known fact/ as likewise that the 
Talmid Chacham, or the student, had to beautify 
himself with the knowledge of the twenty-four books 
of which the Bible consists, even as a bride adorns 
herself with twenty-four different kinds of orna- 
ments/ That this injunction was strictly fulfilled 
by the student is clear from the facility and fre- 
quency with which the Rabbis quoted the Prophets 
and the Hagiographa. A striking instance may be 
seen in the Mechilta, a small work of not more than 
about seventy octavo pages when stripped from its 
commentaries ; it has about one thousand citations 
from the Prophets and the Hagiographa. 

“The sinners in Israel” (probably referring to the 
Samaritans), the Rabbis complain, “contend that 
the Prophets and the Hagiographa are not Torah, 
but are they not already refuted by Daniel (9 10), 
who said, ‘Neither have we obeyed the voice of the 
Lord our God, to walk in his Toroth which he set before 
us by his servants the prophets.’” Hence, the Rabbis 
proceed to say, Asaph’s exclamation in Ps. 78, 
“ Give ear, O my people, to my Toroth.” * Note, in 

^ See Tan.y B. 2 2,1 a (§8), and Midrash Prov,y 22 19 , text and 
notes, urging the 

2 See Zunz, Goitesdienstliche Vortrdge, p. 3 (2d ed.), and Schiirer’s 
Geschichtcy 2 880f. ^ See Exod. R,y 41 6. 

^ See M* T,y 78 1, and Tan*y i, Cf. Bacher, Terminolo~ 

giCy 2 81 . 



THE ‘'LAW" 


123 


passing, that this Psalm, which claims to be Torah, is 
nothing but a risumi of Israel’s history. With the 
Rabbinic Jews, the Hagiographa formed an integral 
part of their holy Scriptures. “The prophets of truth 
and righteousness” were, as can be seen from the bene- 
diction preceding the weekly lesson from the Prophets, 
God’s chosen ones, in the same way as the Torah, 
as his servant Moses, and his people Israel — the 
depository of revelation.' In olden times they had even 
a special benediction before they began to read either 
the Prophets or the Hagiographa, running thus, 
“ Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who hast com- 
manded us to read the holy writings.” ^ This was quite 
in accordance with their principle regarding prophecy 
as “the word of God,”® and the continuation of his 
voice heard on Mount Sinai,' a voice which will cease 
only with the Messianic times, — perhaps for the 
reason that the earth will be full of the knowledge of 
God and all the people of the Lord will be prophets.® 

1 See Baer, p. 226. In Masecheth Soferim, ch. XIII, the words 
■10I7 bsntr'SI are omitted. 

2 See Masecheth Soferim^ ch. XIV, and Notes, p. i88. 

^ Shabbath, 138 b, 

^ See Sifre, 92 a, and parallels given in the Notes. MHG., iblpDI 

vx'33 bipa irntpn. cf. wd. ii4«, bv mini min nan bv -nio 
D'K'ajn nan. See also Si/re, 135 6 , Dn« fn nana naa t?ip"an 
** Lord of the world, thou hast written, If a man put away his wife,” etc,, 
which is a verse in Jer. 3 1. CY. Blau, Zur Einleitung in die Heilige 
Schrift, p. 14. See also Bacher, Terminologie, i 197; 2 229. 

® See Jer, Megillah, 70 d, and the commentaries. Cf. also Maimoni- 

Mishneh 7’flra/i, naum nbua mabn, 2 is, and the na"Knn nmn. 



124 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Says R. Isaac, “All that the Prophets will reveal in 
(succeeding) generations had been received by them 
on Mount Sinai.” “And so he says, ‘The burden of 
the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of 
Malachi.’ It is not said the days of Malachi,’ 
for the prophecy was already in his hands (since the 
revelation) on Mount Sinai.” And so Isaiah, “From 
the time that it (the Torah) was (revealed) I was 
there,” and received this prophecy, “but it is now 
that the Lord God and his spirit has sent me.” ‘ 

It is in harmony with this spirit — the Prophets and 
the Hagiographa being a part of Israel’s Torah — that 
the former are cited in Rabbinic literature with the 
terms “for it is said” or “it is written” in the same 
ways as the Pentateuch. Again, in the well-known 
controversy about the scriptural authority for the 
belief in resurrection, both the Prophets and the 

The special emphasis of the Jerushalmi of the Pentateuch’s retaining 
its importance even after the Messiah has come, is, as is well known, 
the result of the opposition to sectarian teaching, demanding the abo- 
lition of the Law. The answer of the Rabbis was therefore that even 
the authority of the Messiah himself will not prevail against that of 
Moses. In this sense also — as opposition to this teaching — must 
be understood the passage in /er, Berachothy 3 b and parallels, where 
the prophet, so to say, is reciuired to bring his imprimatur from the 
Torah, Dflin pIDSDDI ''W, the prophet without such a legiti- 
mation being very probably an antinomianist. Hence also the effort 
made by the Rabbis to prove that the Pentateuch already indicated 
the teachings of the Kethubim, See Taanith, 9 a, 

^ See Lev, B,, 28 6 and commentaries. Cf. Oppenheim in Geiger’s 
Judische Zeitschrift^ ii, p, 82 seq. See also Frankl in Ersch und 
Gruber, 2 sec., Bd. 33, pp. 15-34. 



THE “LAW" 


125 


Hagiographa are quoted under the name of Torah; 
and the evidence brought forward by them seems to 
be of as much weight as that derived from the Penta- 
teuch.' In the New Testament they also occasionally 
appear under the title of Nomos or Law. To the Jew, 
as already pointed out, the term Torah implied a 
teaching or instruction, and was therefore wide enough 
to embrace the whole of the Scriptures.^ 

In a certain manner it is extended even beyond the 
limits of the Scriptures. When certain Jewish Bos- 

1 Sanhedrifiy 91 b \ see also Mechiltay 34 b, 40 b» Cf. Blau, as 

above, pp. 16, 17, For more instances, see niiri by R. Hirsch 

Chajas, pp. 2 a and 5 ^2, 9 10 b. This book contains the best expo- 

sition of the Rabbinical conception of the importance of the Prophets 
both from a Halachic and Hagadic point of view, and their relation to 
the Pentateuch. The student will find that a good deal that was 
written on the subject by other writers is mere talk due to the ignorance 
of Rabbinic literature. 

2 See Schiirer’s Geschickte^ 2 253, note 17, for the references from the 

New Testament. Following Weber (p. 79), Schiirer seizes the oppor- 
tunity of making the remark that there is perhaps nothing more char- 
acteristic of the full appreciation of their importance on the part of 
the Jews than that they too (the Prophets and the Hagiographa) were 
not first of all to the Jewish conviction didactic or consolatory works, 
not books of edification or history, but were considered chiefly as Law, 
the substance of God’s claim upon his people. So far Schiirer, which 
of course only proves again to what misconception the rendering of 
Torah by Law must lead. Besides, we find that the Rabbis had such 
specification for the various books in the Bible as for 

the Exodus (see Blau, as above), riinBiri for Deuteronomy (see 
above). The Psalms again are called the Book of Praises or Hymn 
Book, whilst the whole of the Kethubim are the Books of Wisdom (/^ 

158 / 5 ), and Isaiah was chiefly characterised as the “work of con- 
solation” (Baba Bathray 14a). 



126 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

wells apologised for observing the private life of their 
masters too closely, they said, “It is a Torah, which 
we are desirous of learning.” ‘ In this sense it is used 
by another Rabbi, who maintained that even the every- 
day talk of the people in the Holy Land is a Torah 
(that is, it conveys an object lesson). For the poor 
man in Palestine, when applying to his neighbour for 
relief, was wont to say, “Acquire for thyself merit, or 
strengthen and purify thyself” (by helping me);^ 
thus implying the adage — that the man in want is 
just as much performing an act of charity in receiv- 
ing as his benefactor in giving. In the east of Europe 
we can, even to-day, hear a member of the congregation 
addressing his minister, “Pray, tell me some Torah.” 
The Rabbi would never answer him by reciting verses 
from the Bible, but would feel it incumbent on him to 
give him some spiritual or allegorical explanation of 
a verse from the Scriptures, or would treat him to some 
general remarks bearing upon morals and conduct. 

^ Berachoth^ 62 a. See also Chajas, as above, 2 b, 

2 Lev, jR,, 34 7. 



IX 


THE LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN THE 
LITERATURE 

To return to Torah proper. It is the Torah as the 
sum total of the contents of revelation, without special 
regard to any particular element in it, the Torah as a 
faith, that is so dear to the Rabbi. It is the Torah in 
this abstract sense, as a revelation and a promise, the 
expression of the will of God, which is identified with 
the wisdom of Prov. 8, thus gaining, in the course of 
history, a pre-mundane existence, which, so to speak, 
formed the design according to which God mapped out 
the world. Said Rabbi Hoshayah, “It is written of 
Wisdom, ‘Then (before the world was created) I was 
with him amon, and was daily his delight, rejoicing 
always before him.’ The word amon is to be read 
uman, meaning architect. For as a king employs an 
architect when he proposes to build a palace, and looks 
into his plans and designs to know where the various 
recesses and chambers shall be placed, so did God look 
into the Torah when he was about to create the world.” ‘ 

^ See Gen, R., i and parallels. Cf. Bacher, Ag. Am.^ i io 7 , and his 
references to Freudenthal and the Jewish Quarterly Review, 3 
867 - 860 . See also Vrofessor Chcyne, Jol^ anti Solomon, pp. 160-162. See 
also above, p. 13, note 4. 


127 



128 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

How far the idea is originally Jewish is not here the 
place to discuss. Nor is its meaning quite clear when 
subject to an analysis. One of the later commen- 
tators of the Midrash tries to connect it with the 
theory, that is, the limitation-mystery of the 
later cabalists, according to which the act of creation 
was an effluence of God’s ineffable goodness and mercy 
— when he withdrew himself into himself, and thus 
revealed from himself the universe. But it is not quite 
clear what part the Torah plays in this mystical sys- 
tem.* As far as any definite meaning may be attached 
to such hazy and nebulous ideas, it may perhaps be 
reduced to this; that the Torah having been long 
destined to become a main factor in God’s government 
of the world, its creation must have been predesigned 
by God before he called the world into existence. In 
this sense the Torah is classed with other creations of 
God which are endowed with pre-mundane existence, 
as Israel, the throne of God (kingdom?), the name 
of the Messiah, hell and paradise (or reward and 
punishment), and repentance.* With regard to re- 
pentance, the Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer teach. When 
God designed the world he found no firm basis for 
it until he created the quality of repentance.* The 
same thought of the impossibility of a world with- 
out a revelation may perhaps also have been present 

1 See WnnD ttriTB to Gen. R., l. 

^ See Gen. jR,, i 4, and all the parallels given there, which are very 
varying. ^ 5ee /> ggg below, p. 314. 



LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN LITERATURE 129 

to the mind of the Jew when he spoke of the pre- 
mundane existence of the Torah. 

Plausible, however, as this explanation may be, it 
is a little too rationalistic and would hardly account for 
that exaltation of the Torah which is such a prominent 
feature in Jewish literature. As soon as the Torah 
was identified with the Wisdom of Proverbs, the mind 
did not rest satisfied with looking upon it as a mere 
condition for the existence of the world. Every 
connotation of the term Wisdom in the famous 
eighth chapter of Proverbs was invested with life 
and individuality. The Torah, by this same process, 
was personified and endowed with a mystical life of its 
own, which emanates from God, yet is partly detached 
from him. Thus we find the Torah pleading for or 
against Israel, as on the occasion of the destruction of 
the Temple, when the Torah was called to give evidence 
against Israel, but desisted from it at the instance of 
Abraham, who said unto her, “ My daughter, were not 
my children the only ones who received thee, when thou 
wast rejected by other nations?” ' Nay, even single 
letters of the alphabet are endowed with a separate 
life, enabling them to act the same part almost as the 
Torah.^ The whole later mystical theory which de- 
generates into the combinations of letters to which the 
most important meaning is attached, takes its origin 
from these personifications. 

1 See Lament, R.y Introduction, I. See also Lev, R,^ 19 and parallels. 

2 See Gen. R,y i. Cf. P, R., 109 a. 

K 



130 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

This notion of the personification of the Torah never 
hardened into an article of faith. Its influence is less 
felt in dogma than in literature, particularly in the 
legends and scriptural interpretations bearing on the 
subject of the revelation on Mount Sinai. We must, 
at least, consider them in their main features. 

First, the day of revelation is considered as the day 
on which earth was wedded to heaven. The barrier 
between them was removed by the fact that the Torah, 
the heavenly bride, the daughter of the Holy One, was 
wedded to Israel on that day.* The simile is carried 
further, and even the feature of the capture of the 
bride is not missing, — the verse in Ps. 68 10, “Thou 
hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive,” 
being interpreted as referring to Moses, who ascended 
to heaven and captured the Torah, in spite of the 
resistance of the angels, who were most reluctant to 
allow the Torah, the desirable treasure, to be taken 
away from among them.^ Our planet is in constant 
fear lest Israel should imitate the example of their 
heathen neighbours, which would signify its doom 
to destruction. Hence the attention of the whole uni- 
verse is directed to this glorious act. When God gave 
the Torah we read that the creatures of the firmament 
paused in their flight, those of the earth ventured 
not to lift up their voices, the waves of the boisterous 

1 See P, K.y 104 by and Rxod. R,y 30 6, 33 7 . 

2 See Shabbathy 89 b\ P, R,, 98 a, and b ; and Exod, R,f 28 1 and 
parallels. 



LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN LITERATURE 131 


seas ceased to roll, and the angels interrupted their 
eternal song of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” ‘ — heaven and 
earth listening to the good message. 

This listening of the universe suggests the uni- 
versalistic feature of the Sinaitic revelation. Though 
magnifying Israel for their readiness to receive the 
Torah, and strongly blaming the gentiles who refused 
to subject themselves to the word of God, so that a 
certain animosity comes down from Mount Sinai against 
the worshipper of idols,^ these legends still betray a 
universalistic tendency as to the real and original 
purpose of the revelation. Thus with reference to 
Isa. 45 19, God is supposed to have said: “I have 
not spoken (the word of the revelation) in secret. I 
did not reveal it in hidden places and in dark comers 
of the earth.” Nor did God postpone the giving of 
the Torah till Israel should enter into the Holy Land, 
lest Israel might claim it for themselves and say that 
the nations of the world have no share in it (in other 
words, it was not God’s intention to make it a national 
religion). He gave it in open places, in the free desert, 
so that every man feeling the desire might receive it. 
Nor did he say first to the children of Jacob, “Seek ye 
me. ” ® For, as we read in other places, the Holy 

1 Exod, R,y 29 9. 2 Shabbath, 89 a, 

^ See Mechilta^ 62 66 b, the whole passage beginning ISrT’l. 

The text is not quite correct, but the drift of the thought is as we have 
it here. See Notes to the passage, and cf. Bacher, Ag. Tan,, 2 164 , note 
I ; and Aruch, ed. Kohut, s.v. See also Yalkut Machiri 

on Isa., p, 156, read DIDIB instead of D:iDB. The MHG. reads 

mjD mstp |no Tra k‘?k 'p'mBn rrn'tn? k"? wpa inn. 



132 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

one, blessed be he, came first to the sons of Esau and 
offered to them the Torah. These asked, “What is 
written in it?” God answered, “Thou shalt not kill.” 
“We cannot accept it,” they rejoined, “killing being 
our profession.” Other nations objected to it on 
account of the seventh and eighth commandments, 
immorality and the appropriation of other men’s pos- 
sessions being the purposes of their lives, and the 
motive-springs of their actions, and so they said, “For 
the knowledge of thy ways, we have no desire — give 
thy Torah to thy people.” ‘ 

It is rather characteristic of these legends, which 
probably reflect the attitude of the Rabbis towards the 
missionary enterprises of their time, that it is chiefly 
the moral part of the decalogue to which the nations 
objected. Esau is broad enough for general prin- 
ciples and will admit the Jewish God into his pantheon, 
if he submit to the process of accommodation and 
evolution so that he can share his honours with other 
gods. Esau objected to the “Do nots.” These were 
too definite to allow of a wide interpretation in which 
the wisdom of Edom excelled, and might thus interfere 
with Esau’s calling, his gladiators, his legions, and the 
policy of his procurators. 

Thus Mount Sinai becomes the place in which God 
reveals himself to the world, and Israel undertakes the 
terrible responsibility of bearing witness to this fact. 

1 See Mechiltay ibid. ; Sifre^ 142 Lament R.j 31; P, R» E,, ch. 
41 ; P. R»f 99 b and parallels. 



LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN LITERATURE 133 

“ If you will not make known my divinity (divine nature) 
to the nations of the world, even at the cost of your lives, 
you shall suffer for this iniquity,” said Godd Though, 
indeed, the whole of creation has the duty to join in 
his praise and to bear witness to his divinity (divine 
power), Israel is especially commanded to invite all 
mankind to serve God and to believe in him, even as 
Abraham did, who made God beloved by all the crea- 
tures. And so intensely should we love him that we 
should also make others love him. For those who 
make God beloved by mankind are much greater than 
the mere lovers.^ By this acceptance of the Torah, 
Israel made peace between God and his world,* the 
ultimate end being that its influence will reach the 
heathen too, and all the gentiles will one day be con- 
verted to the worship of God ; ‘ for the Torah “ is not 
the Torah of the Priests, nor the Torah of the Levites, 
nor the Torah of the Israelites, but the Torah of Man 
(Torath ha- Adam), whose gates are open to receive 
the righteous nation which keepeth the truth and those 
who are good and upright in their hearts.” ® 

Another important feature in these legends and 
interpretations is the fact that the revelation was an 
act of grace and the effluence of God’s goodness. 
When the princes of the world heard the thunders 


^ See Lev, 65, and commentaries. Cf. also M. 7 "., 19 1. 

2 See Maimonides, D'n'D. Cf. M, 7 *., 191, and Midrash 

Tannaim, ed. Hoffmann, p. 40. See also M, T,, 18 7. 

® Gen, R,f 66 2. ^ See Berachoth^ 54 b, ^ T, K.^ 86 b. 



134 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

and lightnings which accompanied the revelation, they 
were frightened, thinking the world was to pass through 
another judgement as it did in the days of the deluge, 
whereupon they consulted their prophet Balaam. He 
calmed their fears, saying: “Fear not, ye kings, he 
who dwells in heaven has revealed himself to his chil- 
dren in his glory and his mercy. He has appeared, to 
give to his beloved people Torah, wisdom, and instruc- 
tion,' and to bless them with strength and peace.” In 
another passage it is stated that God appeared on this 
occasion in the aspect of an instructing Elder, full of 
mercy.® Like rain and light, the Torah was a gift 
from heaven of which the world is hardly worthy, 
but which is indispensable to its maintenance.' 

The gift was a complete one, without any reserve 
whatever. Nothing of the Torah, God assures Israel, 
was kept back in heaven.® All that follows is only a 
matter of interpretation. The principle held by the 
Rabbis was that the words of the Torah “are fruitful 
and multiply.” ® Thus the conviction could ripen that 
everything wise and good, be it ethical or ceremonial 
in its character, the effect of which would be to 
strengthen the cause of religion, was at least poten- 
tially contained in the Torah. Hence the famous 
adage, that everything which any student will teach at 
any future time, was already communicated to Moses 
on Mount Sinai, as also the injunction that any accept- 

^ See P. P.j 95 a. ^ gge St/r^, 142 ^ See Mechiltay 66 b. 

* Gen* P.f 64. ^ Peu^. P., 8 6. ® See Chagigahy 3 b* 



LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN LITERATURE 


13s 

able truth, though discovered by an insignificant man 
in Israel, should be considered of as high authority as 
if it had emanated from a great sage or prophet or even 
from Moses himself.' It requires but an earnest 
religious mind to discover all truth there. For the 
Torah came down from heaven with all the necessary 
instruments; humility, righteousness, and upright- 
ness — and even her reward was in her.^ And man 
has only to apply these tools to find in the Torah 
peace, strength, life, light, bliss, happiness, joy, and 
freedom.® 

The Torah was, in short, all things to all men. To 
the Thcosophist, who had already come under the sway 
of Hellenistic influences, it was the very expression 
of God’s wisdom, which he would, as far as it is con- 
sistent with Biblical notions, elevate into an emana- 
tion of God’s essence, and endow with a pre-mundane 
existence, reaching almost to infinity. To the mystical 
poet, with his love for the picturesque, it was the 
heavenly bride adorned with all the virtues which only 
heaven could bestow on her, at whose presentation to 
Israel the whole universe rejoiced, for her touch with 
mankind meant the wedding of heaven to earth. 
What, then, could the poor mortal do better than to 
learn to know her and to fall in love with her? 

To the great majority of the Rabbis who retained 

^ See Sifre, 79 b, 2 ibid. 

® See P, K.y 105 < 5 ; MechiltUy 36 by 47 ; Sifre a, 82 83 ^ ; Exod, 

R.y 36 8 . 



136 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

0 ' 

their sober sense, and cared more about what God 
requires us to be than about knowing what he is, the 
Torah was simply the manifestation of God’s will, 
revealed to us for our good; the pedagogue, as the 
Rabbis expressed it,^ who educates God’s creatures. 
The occupation with the Torah was, according to the 
Rabbis, less calculated to produce schoolmen and 
jurists than saints and devout spirits. “Whosoever 
labours in the Torah for its own sake, merits many 
things ... he is called friend, beloved, a lover of 
God, a lover of mankind; it clothes him in meekness 
and fear (of God), and fits him to become righteous, 
pious, and upright; it keeps him far from sin, brings 
him towards the side of virtue, and gives him sover- 
eignty and dominion and discerning judgement. To 
hing the secrets of the Torah are revealed ; he becomes 
a never failing fountain, he grows modest and long- 
suffering, forgives insults, and is exalted above all 
things.” ^ On the other hand, his individualism 
does not make him exclusive, his freedom does not 
involve the subjection of others, the world rejoices in 
him, for he enriches it with sound knowledge, under- 
standing, and strength.® His life is one even like that 
of Moses, a continuous mourning for the glory of God 
and the glory of Israel (at present obscured) and a con- 

1 See Gen. R., i. Cf. 'KhVTi'T “Iiabn BC nttX, etc., by R. n'''n n 3 
/o Kinyan Torah, 3 4 the passage given there from the 

Mechilta of Ishmael, but not to be found there. 

^ See Kinyan Torah and Friedmann, C’nSDDS, p. 15 seq, 

* Kinyan Torah, ibid. 



LAW AS PERSONIFIED IN LITERATURE 137 

stant longing for their salvation/ whilst his activity (a 
continuation of the revelation) is making peace between 
heaven and earth.^ In sooth, Israel has recognised the 
strength (or the secret) of the Torah ; therefore, they 
said, We forsake not God and his Torah, as it is said : 
'I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and 
his fruit was sweet to my taste’” (Song of Songs 23). ^ 
In fine, to the Jew the Torah was anything but a 
curse. He understood how to find out the sweetness 
and the light of it and of the Law which formed a 
part of it. 

1 See S, E.y pp. 17 and 63. See Sanhedrin^ 99 b, 

® See Exod. A’., 1 7 a. 



X 


THE TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW 
(MIZWOTH) 

R. SiMLAi, a well-known Agadic teacher and con- 
troversialist of the third century, said as follows : 
“ Six hundred and thirteen commandments were 
delivered unto Moses on Mount Sinai; three hundred 
and sixty-five of which are prohibitive laws, corre- 
sponding to the number of days of the solar year, 
whilst the remaining two hundred and forty-eight are 
affirmative injunctions, being as numerous as the 
limbs constituting the human body.’’ ^ This is one of 
the earlier comments on the number of the six hundred 
and thirteen laws, which are brought forward in many 
of our theological works, with the purpose of proving 
under what burden the scrupulous Jew must have la- 
boured, who considered himself under the duty of 
performing all these enactments. The number is, by 
its very strangeness, bewildering; and the Pharisee, 
unable to rise to the heights above the Law, lay under 

1 Makkothy 23 b and parallels, in the nS*’ (where n"dB 
ought to be corrected into K"d). Cf. Bacher, Ag. Am.y i 558 , and 
notes. The earliest known source for this number is probably Mechilta 
67 a. Cf. also Sifre, 90 b. See also Bloch, Revue des Atudes /uives, 
1 197 se^,, and 209 seg. 

138 



TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW (MIZWOTH) 139 


the curse of its mere quantity. A few words as to the 
real value of these statistics are therefore necessary, 
before we pass to other questions connected with our 
subject. 

The words with which the saying of R. Simlai is intro- 
duced are, ‘“He preached,” or “he interpreted,” and 
they somewhat suggest that these numbers were in some 
way a subject for edification, deriving from them some 
moral lesson. The lesson these numbers were intended 
to convey was, first, that each day brings its new tempta- 
tion only to be resisted by a firm Do not ; and, on the 
other hand, that the whole man stands in the service of 
God, each limb or member of his body being entrusted 
with the execution of its respective functions.^ This was 
probably the sentiment which the preacher wished to 
impress upon his congregation, without troubling 
himself much about the accuracy of his numbers. 
How little, indeed, we are justified in urging these 
numbers too seriously is clear from the sequel of 
R. Simlai’s homily. It runs thus : “ David came (after 
Moses) and reduced ^ them (the six hundred and 


1 "Kbaw n in most of the parallels. 

^ Cf. P, K,^ lOI <2, and Rashi to Makkothy ibid, Cf. also Tan,^ 
2. There are, however, grave doulits whether the subdivision in 
365 and 248 (the words in the Talmud from n"Dti^ to DIK) is not a 
later addition. Cf. Bacher, ibid, 

^ The word in the Talmud and in Tan.y end is 

which may mean ‘‘ compressed ” or “ reduced.” See Bacher, ibid, 
I take here the version of the Talmud, omitting the additional dis- 
cussions. Cf. also M, T,t 15, end. 



140 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


thirteen commandments) to eleven, as it is said : Lord, 
who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell 
in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, etcd 
Then Isaiah came and reduced them to six, as it is 
said: He that walketh righteously, etc.* Then Micah 
came and reduced them to three: He hath shewed 
thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord 
require of thee, but to do justly, etc.® Then Isaiah 
came again, and reduced them to two, as it is said: 
Thus saith the Lord, Keep my judgements, and do 
justice.* Then Amos came and reduced them to one, 
as it is said : Seek the Lord and live.® Whilst Habak- 
kuk (also) reduced them to one, as it is said : But the 
just shall live by his faith.®” The drift of this whole 
passage shows that the homily was not so much intended 
to urge the necessity of carrying out all the command- 
ments with their numerous details, as to emphasise 
the importance of the moral laws, which themselves, 
nevertheless, may be compressed into the principle of 
seeking God, or of faith in God. 

Granted, however, that R. Simlai took it seriously 
with his number of six hundred and thirteen: granted, 

^ Ps. 15 2-5, which verses contain eleven moral injunctions, Cf. 
Kimehi’s commentary to this chapter. 

2 Isa. 33 16, which verse contains six moral injunctions. 

s Micah 6 8, where three moral injunctions are contained. 

4 Isa. 56 1. 

® Amos 5 6. This was probably the original version of R. Simlai^s 
words, notwithstanding the objections made there. 

6 Hab. 2 4. 



TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW (MIZWOTH) 141 

again, that his enumeration rested on some old authority 
which may be regarded as a guarantee for its exactness,* 
this would prove nothing for the “ burden theory.” 
The only possible explanations of our Rabbi’s saying are 
the lists of R. Simon Kiara and of Maimonides.* But 
even a superficial analysis will discover that in the times 
of the Rabbis many of these commandments were already 
obsolete, as, for instance, those relating to the arrange- 
ments of the tabernacle, and to the conquest of Pales- 
tine; whilst others concerned only certain classes, as, 
for instance, the priests, the judges, the soldiers and their 
commanders, the Nazirites, the representatives of the 
community, or even one or two individuals in the whole 
population, as, for example, the king and the high priest. 
Others, again, provided for contingencies which could 
occur only to a few, as, for instance, the laws concern- 
ing divorce or levirate-marriages. The laws, again, 
relating to idolatry, incest, and the sacrifices of chil- 
dren to Moloch, could hardly be considered as coming 
within the province of the practical life even of the 
pre-Christian Jew; just as little as we can speak of 
Englishmen being under the burden of the law when 
prohibited from burning their widows or marrying 
their grandmothers, though these acts would cer- 
tainly be considered as crimes. A careful examination 
of the six hundred and thirteen laws will prove 

1 This seems to be the opinion of Maimonides. 

2 The former in the nibnj nisbn, the latter in the mmi IBD 
and the Introduction to the ITTin 



142 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

that barely a hundred laws are to be found which 
concerned the everyday life of the bulk of the people.* 
Thus the law in its totality, which by the number of its 
precepts is so terrifying, is in its greater part nothing 
else than a collection of statutes relating to different 
sections of the community and to its multifarious insti- 
tutions, ecclesiastical as well as civil, which constituted, 
as I have already said, the kingdom of God. 

And here lay the strength of Judaism. The modern 
man is an eclectic being. He takes his religion from 
the Bible, his laws from the Romans, his culture from 
the classics, and his politics from his party. He is cer- 
tainly broader in his sympathies than the Jew of old ; but 
as a composite being, he must necessarily be lacking in 
harmony and unity. His sympathies are divided be- 
tween the different sources of his inspiration, — sources 
which do not, as we know, always go well together. In 
order to avoid collision, he has at last to draw the line 
between the ecclesiastical and the civil, leaving the 
former, which in fact was forced upon him by a 
foreign religious conqueror, to a separate body of men 
whose business it is to look after the welfare of his 
invisible soul, whilst reserving the charge of the body 
and the world to himself. 

The Rabbinic notion seems to have been that “if 
religion is anything, it is everything.” The Rabbi 
gloried in the thought of being, as the Agadic expression 
runs, “a member of a city (or community) which in- 

^ See Schechter, Studies in Judaisniy p. 301. 



TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW (MIZWOTH) 143 

eluded the priest as well as the prophet, the king as 
well as the scribe and the teacher,” all appointed and 
established by God.' To consider the administration 
of justice with all its details as something lying without 
the sphere of Torah would have been a terrible thought 
to the ancient Jew. Some Rabbis are anxious to 
show that the appointment of judges was commanded 
to Moses, even before Jethro gave him the well-known 
advice.* The Torah, they point out, is a combination 
of mercy and justice.* That the ways of the Torah 
“are ways of sweetness, and all her paths are peace” 
(Prov. 3 17 . 18 ), was a generally accepted axiom,' 
and went without saying; what had to be particularly 
urged was that even such laws and institutions as appear 
to be a consequence of uncompromising right and of rigid 
truth, rather than of sweetness and peace, were also 
part and parcel of the Torah, with her God-like uni- 
versality of attributes. Hence the assertion of the 
Rabbis that God threatens Israel with taking back his 
treasure from them should they be slow in carrying 
out the principle of justice (dinim).^ “To the nations 
of the earth he gave some few laws; but his love to 
Israel was particularly manifested by the fulness and 

1 Si/re, 134 a. Cf. Chullitiy 56 b. The passage in the text follows 
more the reading in the MHG., mS ‘ .TS kSiST 10"13 'ttlK »"-) 

viBiD iDinti man laina VK'm laina vaba laina nb laino 
laino lairai laina, etc. 2 see sifre, 20 a. 

8 Deui, R.f 5 7 . 

^ See, for instance, Sukkah^ 32 a ; Jehamoth^ 87 and elsewhere. 

^ Exod. R.f 30 28. 



144 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

completeness of the Torah, which is wholly theirs.” ‘ 
And in it they find everything. “If thou wantest 
advice,” the Rabbis say (even in matters secular, or 
in questions regarding behaviour and good manners), 
“take it from the Torah, even as David said, From thy 
precepts I get understanding” (Ps. 119 104).* 

As a fact, the old Rabbis hardly recognised such a 
chasm between the material and the spiritual as to jus- 
tify the domain of religion being confined to the latter. 
The old Rabbinic literature is even devoid of the words 
spiritual and material. The corresponding terms, 
and were coined by later translators from the 

Greek and Arabic philosophers, with whom the divi- 
sion between body and soul is so prominent. It is true 
that the Rabbis occasionally used such expressions as 
“things of the heaven” and “things of the world,” or 
matters concerning “the eternal life” and matters con- 
cerning “the temporal life.” ® But apart from the 
fact that they were little meant to indicate a theologi- 
cal division between two antagonistic principles, the 
“things of the heaven” covered a much wider area of 
human life than is commonly imagined. Thus we 
hear of a Rabbi who remonstrated with his son for not 
attending the lecture of his friend R. Chisda. The son 

^ Exod, R.f ibid., 9 and parallels. 2 gge P. K., 105 a, 

« XObCT "b'D — S'OWn ’b'a. See e.g. Berachoth, ^ b, v. Shabbath, 
33 b. Interesting is the arrangement in the complete edition of the 
-ISO in which all the laws concerning conduct and morality are 
grouped under the heading of the duties towards God and man, whilst 
the ceremonial come under the heading of duties towards God alone. 



TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW {MIZWOTH) 145 

apologised, and answered that he had once gone to the 
school of R. Chisda, but what he heard were “things 
of the world,” the lecture having consisted in the expo- 
sition of a set of sanitary rules to be observed on cer- 
tain occasions. Whereupon the father rejoined indig- 
nantly: “He (R. Chisda) is occupied with the life of 
God’s creatures, and dost thou venture to call such 
matters ‘things of the world’?” ‘ Elsewhere we find 
the Rabbis deciding that to teach a child a trade or a 
handicraft is to be considered as one of the “delights 
of heaven,” for which arrangements may be made even 
on the Sabbath.* 

As a rule, the Rabbis spoke of sin and righteousness, 
a good action or a bad action, mStO or HT'DV, for 
each of which body and soul are alike held responsible. 
But no act is in itself the worse or the better for being 
a function of the body or a manifestation of the soul. 
When Hillel the Great, who, as it would seem, was the 
author, or at least the inspirer, of the saying, “Let all 
thy deeds be for the sake of Heaven,” was about to 
take a bath, he said, “I am going to perform a religious 
act by beautifying my person, that was created in the 
image of God.” * 

R. Judah Hallevi, with the instinct of a poet, hit the 

1 Shabbath, 82 a. * 'XBn. Shabbath, 150 a. 

® See A, R. N,, 33 d ; Lev, /?., 34 3; and P, R., 1 15 b. ** The fourth 
degree of love,’^ says St. Bernard somewhere, “is to love self only for 
God’s sake.” See also the passage from the Yelafiidenu reproduced in 
Jellinek’s Beth Hammidrasky 6: 85 where it is the '’13 (or superior 
beauty) in which the finds expression. 



146 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

right strain when he said, in his famous Dialogue 
Kusari, “Know that our Torah is constituted of the 
three psychological states: Fear, love, and joy” (that 
is to say, all the principal emotions of man are enlisted 
in the service of God). “ By each of these thou mayest 
be brought into communion with thy God. Thy con- 
triteness in the days of fasting does not bring thee nearer 
to God than thy joy on the Sabbath days and on festi- 
vals, provided thy joy emanates from a devotional and 
perfect heart. And just as prayer requires devotion 
and thought, so does joy, namely, that thou wilt rejoice 
in his commandments for their own sake, (the only 
reasons for this rejoicing being) the love of him who 
commanded it, and the desire of recognising God’s 
goodness towards thee. Consider these feasts as if thou 
wert the guest of God invited to his table and his bounty, 
and thank him for it inwardly and outwardly. And if 
thy joy in God excites thee even to the degree of singing 
and dancing, it is a service to God, keeping thee attached 
to him. But the Torah did not leave these things to 
our arbitrary will, but put them all under control. For 
man lacks the power to make use of the functions of 
body and soul in their proper proportions.” ‘ 

The law thus conceived as submitting all the faculties 
and passions of man to the control of the divine, whilst 
suppressing none, was a source of joy and blessing to 
the Rabbis. Whatever meaning the words of the Apostle 
may have, when he speaks of the curse of the Law, it is 

1 Kuzari (ed. Sluzki, p. 45). 



TORAH IN ITS ASPECT OF LAW (MIZWOTH) 147 

certain that those who lived and died for it considered 
it as a blessing. To them it was an effluence of God’s 
mercy and love. In the daily prayer of the Jews the 
same sentiment is expressed in most glowing words: 
“With everlasting love thou hast loved the house of 
Israel, thy people; Torah, commandments, statutes, 
and judgements hast thou taught us. . . . Yea, we 
will rejoice in the words of thy Torah and thy com- 
mandments forever. . . . And mayest thou never take 
away thy love from us. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who 
lovest thy people Israel.” ‘ Beloved are Israel, whom 
the Holy One, blessed be he, surrounded with com- 
mandments, (bidding them) to have phylacteries on 
their heads and arms, a mezuzah on their door-posts, 
fringes on the four corners of their garments. . . . 
“ Be distinguished,” said the Holy One, blessed be 
he, to Israel, “ by the commandments in order that 
ye may be pleasing unto me. Thou (Israel) art beau- 
tiful when thou art pleasing.”^ Indeed, there is not 
a single thing which is not connected with a command- 
ment, be it the farm, or the home, or the garments of 
the man, or his flocks.® And it is on account of this 
fact that Israel considered themselves blessed in the 
city and in the field.^ It is the very light sown for the 
righteous, God not having loved anything in the world 
which is not connected with a law.® 

1 See Singer, p. 69 ; Baer, p. 164. Cf. also Berachoth, 33 d ; Singer, 
p. 227; and Baer, p. 347. 2 St/ref 75 b and parallels. 

® T. 42 a, ^ Tan, 4, ® Num, T., 176; cf. Lev, R.^ 6 8, 



XI 

THE JOY OF THE LAW 

Law and commandments, or as the Rabbinic expres- 
sion is, Torah and Mizwoth, have a harsh sound and 
are suggestive to the outsider of something external, 
forced upon men by authority from the outside, sinister 
and burdensome. The citations just given show that 
Israel did not consider them in that light. They were 
their very love and their very life. This will become 
clearer when we consider both the sentiment accom- 
panying the performance of the Law and the motives 
urging them. 

The miCtt the joy experienced by the 

Rabbinic Jew in being commanded to fulfil the Law, 
and the enthusiasm which he felt at accomplishing that 
which he considered to be the will of God, is a point 
hardly touched upon by most theological writers, and 
if touched upon at all, is hardly ever understood. 
Yet this ‘‘joy of the Law” is so essential an element 
in the understanding of the Law, that it “forms that 
originality of sentiment more or less delicate” which 
can never be conceived by those who have experienced 
it neither from life nor from literature. 

148 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


149 


How anxious a Jew was to carry out a law, and what 
joy he felt in fulfilling it, may be seen from the following 
story, which perhaps dates from the very time when the 
Law was denounced as slavery and as the strength of 
sin. According to Deut. 24 19 , a sheaf forgotten in 
the harvest field belonged to the poor; the proprietor 
being forbidden to go again and to fetch it. This 
prohibitive law was called “the com- 

mandment with regard to forgetfulness.” It was im- 
possible to fulfil it as long as one thought of it. In 
connection with this we read in the Tosephta: “It 
happened to a Chasid (saint) that he forgot a sheaf in his 
field, and was thus enabled to fulfil the commandment 
with regard to forgetfulness. Whereupon he bade his 
son go to the temple, and offer for him a burnt-offering 
and a peace-offering, whilst he also gave a great banquet 
to his friends in honour of the event. Thereupon his 
son said to him: Father, why dost thou rejoice in this 
commandment more than in any other law prescribed 
in the Torah? He answered, that it was the occurrence 
of the rare opportunity of accomplishing the will of 
God, even as the result of some oversight, which caused 
him so much delight.” ' 

This joy of the Mizwah constituted the essence of the 
action. Israel, we are told, receives especial praise for 
the fact that when they stood on Mount Sinai to receive 
the Torah, they all combined with one heart to accept 

^ Tosephta Peak, 22. Cf. Mictrash Ztita (ed. Buber, 51 Of 
course, we must read there HDISS for HDiyD, 



ISO SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

the kingdom of heaven in joy. The sons of Aaron, 
again, were glad and rejoicing when they heard words 
(of commandment) from the mouth of Moses. Again, 
“ let man fulfil the commandments of the Torah with 
joy,” exclaimed a Rabbi, “and then they will be 
counted to him as righteousness.” ‘ The words, 
“ Moses did as the Lord commanded him ” (Num. 
27 22), are explained to mean that he fulfilled the Law 
with joy.“ In a similar manner the words, “ I have 
done according to all that thou hast commanded me” 
(Deut. 26 14), are interpreted to signify, I have re- 
joiced and caused others to rejoice.* Naturally, it is 
the religionist of high standard, or as the Rabbis ex- 
press it, “the man who deserves it,” who realises this 
joy in the discharge of all religious functions, whilst 
to him “who deserves it not” it may become a trial 
of purification.* But the ideal is to obtain this quality 
of joy, or “to deserve it.” The truly righteous rejoice 
almost unconsciously, joy being a gift from heaven to 
them, as it is said, “Thou (God) hast put gladness in 
my heart.” ® 

This principle of joy in connection with the Mizwah 
is maintained both in the Talmud and in the devo- 
tional literature of the Middle Ages. The general rule 
is: Tremble with joy when thou art about to fulfil a 

1 See Mechilta^ 66 3 ; 7 ’. K,y 42 b. See also S, E., p. 29. Cf. also 
ma., p. 95. 

2 St/re f 52 ® Ibid,, 1 29 a. 

* Yoma, 72 b, .131 wnartt nat. * s. £., p. 97. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 151 

commandment.* God, his Salvation, and his Law, 
are the three things in which Israel rejoices.* Indeed, 
as R. Bachye Ibn. Bakudah declares, to mention one 
of the later moralists, it is this joy experienced by the 
sweetness of the service of God which forms a part 
of the reward of the religionist, even as the prophet 
said, “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them ; and 
thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine 
heart” (Jer. 15 le).* R. Bachye Ibn Chalwah, again, 
declares that the joy accompanying the carrying out of 
a religious performance is even more acceptable to God 
than the Mizwah itself. The righteous, he points out, 
feel this ineffable delight in performing God’s will in the 
same way as the spheres and planets (whose various 
revolutions are a perpetual song to God) rejoice in their 
going forth and are glad in their returning;* whilst 
R. Joseph Askari of Safed (sixteenth century) makes 
joy one of the necessary conditions without which 
a law cannot be perfectly carried out.® And I may 
perhaps remark that this joy of the Mizwah was a 
living reality even in modern times. I myself had 
once the good fortune to observe one of those old 
type Jews, who, as the first morning of the Feast of 
Tabernacles drew near, used to wake and rise soon 
after the middle of the night. There he sat, with 
1 D. E. Z., 2. P. K., 147 a, 194 a. 

«y'B D’nbitn rnn» maab.n main- 
« n»pn *13, ch. nniatp. 

® See Warsaw, 1879, p. 9. Cf. also Albo, Ikkarim, 3 88; also 

Luzzato, D’-Htr' 28 a. 



IS2 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


trembling joy, awaiting impatiently the break of dawn, 
when he would be able to fulfil the law of the palm 
branches and the willows ! 

To give one or two further instances how many more 
things there are in the Synagogue and in the Lawitthan 
are dreamt of by our divines, I shall allude to the 
Sabbath and to prayer. 

The institution of the Sabbath is one of those laws 
the strict observance of which was already the object 
of attack on the part of the compilers of the Synoptic 
Gospels. Nevertheless, the doctrine proclaimed in one 
of the Gospels that the Son of man is the Lord of the 
Sabbath, was also current among the Rabbis. They 
too teach that the Sabbath is delivered into the hand 
of man (to break it when necessary), and not man into 
the power of the Sabbath. ‘ And the Rabbis even laid 
down the axiom that a scholar living in a town, where 
there could be among the Jewish population the least 
doubt as to the question whether the Sabbath might 
be broken for the benefit of a person dangerously sick, 
was to be despised as a man neglecting his duty ; every 
delay in such a case being fraught with grave conse- 
quences to the patient ; for, as Maimonides points out, 
the laws of the Torah are not meant as an infliction upon 
mankind, “but as mercy, loving-kindness, and peace.” * 

The attacks upon the Sabbath have not abated. 
“The day is still described by almost every modem 

^ Meckilta, 104 a, 

* Jer. Yotna, 45 b. Cf. Maimonides, J".*! flSW msbn. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


153 


writer in the most gloomy colours, and long lists are 
given of the minute observances connected with it, 
easily to be transgressed, which would necessarily make 
the Sabbath, instead of a day of rest, a day of sorrow 
and anxiety, almost worse than the Scotch Sunday, 
as depicted by continental writers.” Even Haus- 
rath ‘ — who is something more than a theologian, 
for he also wrote history — is unable to see in 
the Rabbinic Sabbath more than a day which is to 
be distinguished by a mere non-performance of the 
thirty-nine various sorts of work forbidden by the 
Rabbis on Sabbaths, such as sowing, ploughing, reap- 
ing, winnowing, kneading, spinning, weaving, skinning, 
tanning, writing, etc., etc., — a whole bundle of par- 
ticiples, in the expounding of which the Pharisee took 
an especial delight.^ Contrast this view with the 
prayer of R. Zadok, a younger contemporary of the 
Apostles, which runs thus: “Through the love with 
which thou, O Lord our God, lovest thy people Israel, 
and the mercy which thou hast shown to the children 
of thy covenant, thou hast given unto us in love this 
great and holy seventh day.” ^ This Rabbi, clearly, 
regarded the Sabbath as a gift from heaven, an ex- 
pression of the infinite love and mercy of God, which 
he manifested toward his beloved children. Thus the 
Sabbath is celebrated by the very people who observe 

^ See Schechter, Studies in Judaism^ p, 297 seq» 

2 History of the Nerv Testament Times^ I loi. 

® Tosephta Berachothy 3 7. 



154 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

it, in hundreds of hymns, which would fill volumes, 
as a day of rest and joy, of pleasure and delight, 
a day in which man enjoys some presentiment of the 
pure bliss and happiness which are stored up for the 
righteous in the world to come, and to which such ten- 
der names were applied as the “ Queen Sabbath,” the 
“ Bride Sabbath,” and the “ holy, dearly beloved Sab- 
bath.” Every founder of a religion declares the yoke 
which he is about to put on his followers to be easy, 
and the burden to be light ; but, after all, the evidence 
of those who did bear the Sabbath yoke for thousands 
of years ought to pass for something. The assertion 
of some writers that the Rabbis, the framers of these 
laws, as students leading a retired life, suffered in no 
way under them, and therefore were unable to realise 
their oppressive effect upon the great majority of the 
people, is hardly worth refuting. The Rabbis belonged 
to the majority, being mostly recruited, as already 
pointed out in another place, from the artisan, trading, 
and labouring classes.* This very R. Zadok, whom I 
have just mentioned, says; “Make not the Torah a 
crown wherewith to aggrandise thyself, nor a spade 
wherewith to dig;” whilst Hillel considers it as a mortal 
sin to derive any material profit from the words of the 
Torah.^ 

The prayers of the synagogue are another case in 
point. That Jews could pray, that they had, besides 
the Temple, a synagogue service, independent of sacri- 

1 See above, p. i lo, * Aboth, 4 7 . 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


155 


fices and priests, does not, as every student must have 
felt, fit in well with the view generally entertained of 
the deadly and deadening effects of the Law. The in- 
convenient Psalms of the later periods were easily 
neutralised by divesting them of all individualistic 
tendency, whilst the synagogue was placed under the 
superintendence of the Rabbis, “ whose mechanical 
tendencies are well known.” In their hands, we are 
told, prayers turn into rubrics, and it is with an especial 
delight that theologians dwell on the Rabbinical laws re- 
lating to prayer, as, for instance, how many times a day 
a man ought to pray, the fixed hours for prayer, in what 
parts of the prayer an interruption is allowed, which 
parts of the prayer require more devotion than others, 
and similar petty little questions of religious casuistry 
in which the Rabbi, as an expert, if I may call him 
so, greatly delighted. But these writers seem to over- 
look the fact that the very framers of these petty laws 
were the main composers of the liturgy. And who can 
say what the Rabbi’s feelings were when he wrote, for 
instance, “ Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned” ? 
The word “Father” alone suggests a world of such 
ideas as love, veneration, devotion, and childlike 
dependence upon God. It is easy enough to copy 
rubrics. They float on the surface of the so-called 
“Sea of the Talmud,” and it requires only a certain 
indelicacy of mind, or what Renan would have called 
“the vulgarity of criticism,” to skim them off, and pass 
them on to the world as samples of Jewish synagogue 



156 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

life. If Life and Times writers would only dip a little 
deeper into this sea, they would notice how easily the 
Rabbis could disregard all these rubrics. The subject 
of prayer is too wide to be dealt with here even in a 
perfunctory manner, but a few passages at least may 
be cited which will illustrate the sentiment of the 
Rabbis with regard to this topic. Thus we read, 
with reference to Jer. 148: “God is the Mikweh of 
Israel, which word the Rabbis take to mean “the source 
of purity” (Israel’s purification being established by 
attachment to God). “ God says to Israel, I bade 
thee read thy prayers unto me in thy synagogues ; 
but if thou canst not, pray in thy house; and if thou 
art unable to do this, pray when thou art in thy field ; 
and if this be inconvenient to thee, pray on thy bed ; 
and if thou canst not do even this, think of me in thy 
heart.” ' Prayer is, indeed, as the Rabbis call it, 
“the service of the heart ”; though man should praise 
the Holy One, blessed be he, with every limb in his 
body, even as David did who praised him with his head, 
with his eyes, with his mouth, with his ears, with his 
throat, with his tongue, with his lips, with his heart, 
with his reins, with his hands, with his feet, as it is 
said, “ All my bones shall say. Lord who is like unto 
thee?” (Ps. 35 10); nay, with his soul and his breath.* 

^ P. 157/5, 158 a:, referring to the meaning “well” or “cistern” 
rather than “ hope.” 

2 Taanitk^ 2 a. Cf. Sifre^ So a \ M, Z*., 5 1, about the prayers of 
Tn*’ (individual). See Mechilta of R, Simon^ P* 151* Cf. also above, 
p. 50, note 2. 



THE JOY OP THE LAW 


IS7 

Prayer, and the recitation of the Shema, are among 
the things which keep the heart of Israel in exile 
awake,' and God requires of Israel that, at least in 
the time of prayer, they should give him all their 
hearts ; * that is to say, that the whole of man should 
be absorbed in his prayer. “ Prayer without devotion is 
like a body without a soul,” is a common Jewish 
proverb. Indeed, he who prays should direct his heart 
to heaven, nay, he must consider himself as if the 
very Divine Presence is facing him.® God himself 
teaches Israel how to pray before him ; * for nothing is 
more beautiful than prayer; it is more beautiful even 
than good works, and of more value than sacrifices.® 
It is the expression of Israel’s love to God ; God longs 
for it.* Prayer is Israel’s chiefest joy.'' 'When thou 
risest to pray, let thy heart rejoice within thee, since 
thou servest a God, the like unto whom there is none 
(Ps. loo 3). Hence the benediction in which Israel 
thank God that they are permitted to pray to 
him.® 

And here I must again be allowed an allusion to per- 
sonal reminiscences. The following passages in the 

1 See Can^. Rabbay 5:2. 2 Tan.y KDn i, end. 

® See Berachothy 31 and Sanhedritiy 22 a. 

* See Rosh Hashanahy ly b. Cf. above, 37. 

® See Sifrey yi by and Tan.y KSfl i. 

« See M. T.y 116 1. 

^ See Yalkut to Ps. 100. Cf. M, T. to this chapter. 

® See Jer. Berachothy 3 d (the first lines on the top). Cf. Baer’s 
remarks to the p. 100. 



158 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Song of the Unity are recited in some congregations on 

the Eve of the Day of Atonement : — 

We are thy people and thy sheep, who delight to obey 
thy will. 

But how shall we serve, since our hand hath no power, 
and our sanctuary is burnt with fire ? 

How shall we serve without sacrifice and meat offer- 
ing? for we are not yet come unto our rest. 

Neither is there water to wash away defilement ; lo ! 
we are upon unpurified ground. 

But I rejoice at thy word, and I am come according 
to thy bidding. 

For it is written, I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, 
or thy burnt-offerings. 

Concerning your sacrifices and your burnt-offerings I 
commanded not your fathers. 

What have I asked, and what have I sought of thee but 
^ to fear me ? 

To serve with joy and a good heart ? 

Behold, to hearken is better than sacrifice, 

And a broken heart than pure offering. 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. 

In sacrifice and meat-offering thou delightest not ; sin- 
offering and burnt -offering thou hast not asked. 

I will build an altar of the broken fragments of my 
heart, and will break my spirit within me. 

The haughty heart I will humble ; yea, the haughtiness 
of mine eyes, and I will rend my heart for the 
sake of the Lord. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


1 59 

My broken spirit, that is thy sacrifice. Let it be 
acceptable upon thine altar ! ' 

But only one who has seen the deep despair reflected 
on the faces of the worshippers, as they repeat the first 
stanzas bewailing the loss of sacrifices as a means of 
atonement, and the sudden transition to the highest 
degree of joy and cheerfulness at the thought expressed 
in the last stanzas, that it is neither burnt -offering nor 
meat-offering which God requires, but that the heart 
is the real altar and the service of the heart the real 
sacrifice — only one who has witnessed such a prayer- 
meeting will be able to conceive how little the capacity 
of the Rabbi to pray, and to rejoice in prayer, was 
affected by the rubrics, and how superficial is the com- 
mon conception of onlookers on this subject. 

In the preceding remarks we had a reference to a say- 
ing of R. Zadok, prohibiting the making of the Torah 
a means of aggrandising one’s self, and another 
saying of Hillel to the same effect.^ The saying 
in question closes with the words, “ Lo, whosoever 
makes profit from the words of the Torah removes his 
life from the world.” ® This brings us to the subject 
of nttiyS (Lishmah), playing a very prominent part in 
Rabbinic literature. By Lishmah is understood the 
performance of the Law for its own sake, or rather 

1 TinM 'T’tr, first day. See Service of the Synagogue^ Davis and 
Adler, London, 1906, vol. I, p. 41. 

2 See above, p. 145. 


® Abothy 4 7. 



l6o SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

for the sake of him who wrought (commanded) it, ex- 
cluding all worldly intentions. Thus, with regard to 
sacrifices, the words of Lev. i 9 (' nS mn'3 nn) are 
explained to mean that the sacrifice must be brought 
with no other intention but that of pleasing him who 
created the world.‘ The service of God should be as 
single-minded as he is single in the world, to whom 
this service is directed.^ “ It is pleasing unto me that 
I commanded and my will was done.” ® With refer- 
ence to other laws, the injunction is, “ Do the things 
(of the Torah) for the sake of him who wrought them, 
and speak in them for their own sake.” ‘ Indeed, 
the Torah is only then pure when man cleanses him- 
self from all sin, and from every thought of profiting 
by it, so that he must not expect of mankind to serve 
him or maintain him, because he is a scholar.® 
Nay, it is only the occupation with the Torah for its 
own sake which is life, “ but if thou hast not per- 
formed the words of the Torah in this manner, they 
kill thee.”* It is just this purity of motive which 
forms the main difference “ between the righteous 
and the wicked, between him that serveth God and 

1 7*. K.^ 7 c and 8 c, Cf. Zehachim^ 37 h. See also below, pp. 297 
and 298. 

2 7*. A"., 43 d. See below, p. 258. ® Sifre, 39 a and 54 a, 

^ See Nedarim, 62 reading d'puib. See, however, Sifre, 
84 b, D. E. Z. (ed. Tawrogi) has both readings. Cf. Bacher, Ag, 
Tan,y I 63. Duran in his commentary to MIDK, 5 4, has the reading 

D'DttJ nna nani ibro D»b. 

^ Mechilta of R. Simon^ 98. 

® Sifre^ 131 b ; Taanithy a ; cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan,y 2 640. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW i6i 

him that serveth him not ” (Malachi 3 i8).‘ The 
same thing applies also to other laws. Two men 
feasted upon their Passover lamb. The one ate it for 
the sake of the Mizwah, the other devoured it in the 
manner of a glutton! To the former they apply the 
Scriptural words, “ The righteous shall walk in them; ” 
to the latter, “ The transgressor shall fall therein ” 
(Hosea 14 10).^ This is of course the highest ideal 
of the religionist, though not everybody could attain 
to this high degree, and some concessions were made 
in this respect. Hence such statements as “ Let 
a man be occupied in the study of the Torah and 
the fulfilling of commandments even in the case 
when they are not performed for their own sake ; ” 
but the statement closes with the words, “ for 
this occupation will lead in the end to the desired 
ideal of the purer intention.” This is in harmony 
with the sentiment expressed by another Rabbi, who 
was wont to pray, “ May it be thy will that you 
bring peace . . . among those students who are oc- 
cupied in the study of the Torah, both who do it for 
its own sake, and those who do not do it for its own 
sake. And that these latter may come to ultimately 
occupy themselves with it for its own sake.” ® In any 
case, this selfish occupation was considered as a Torah 
wanting in grace.^ 

1 See M. T., 31 ». 

2 See Nazir ^ 23 a. See also Albo, Ikkariniy 3 6 and 28. 

® See Berachoth^ i*] a, * ODH). See Sukkahy 49 b. 


M 



i 62 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

And let it be noticed that the notion of Lishmah 
excluded even the intention of fulfilling a law with the 
hope of getting such rewards as are promised by the 
Scriptures. Though the Rabbis never tired of urging 
the belief in reward and punishment, and strove to 
make of it a living conviction, they yet displayed a 
constant tendency to disregard it as a motive for action. 
The saying of Antigonos of Socho, “Be not like servants 
that serve their master with the view to receive re- 
ward,” is well known.' All the commentators on the 
sayings of the Fathers explain this sentence as mean- 
ing that love pure and simple is the only worthy 
motive of the worshipper. But we must not look 
upon this saying of Antigonos as on one of those 
theological paradoxes in which divines of all creeds 
occasionally indulge. It is a sentiment running 
through the Rabbinic literature of almost every age. 
Thus the words in Deut. ii is, “To love the Lord 
your God,” are explained to mean: “Say not, I will 
study the Torah with the purpose of being called 
sage or Rabbi, or to acquire fortune, or to be rewarded 
for it in the world to come ; but do it for the sake of thy 
love to God, though the glory will come in the end.” ^ 
The words in Ps. 112 1, “Blessed is the man who 
delighteth greatly in his commandments,” are inter- 
preted to mean, that he is blessed who delighteth 
in God’s commandments, but not in the reward 
promised for his commandments.® This proves, by 

1 A both f 1:3. ^ Si/re, 84 a. Cf. above, p. 68. 

® Abodah Zarahy 19 a, ? 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


163 


the way, that the Rabbis could depart from the letter 
of the Scripture for the sake of the spirit, the succeeding 
verses in this very Psalm being nothing else than a 
description of the reward awaiting the pious man who 
fulfils God’s commandments. In another place, those 
who, in view of Prov. 3 16, look out for the good things 
which are on the left side of wisdom, namely, riches and 
honours, are branded as wicked and base.* And when 
David said, “I hate them that are of a double mind, 
but thy law do I love,” he indicated by it, according to 
the Rabbis, his contempt for mixed motives in the ser- 
vice of God, as the Law should not be fulfilled either 
under compulsion or through fear, but only from the 
motive of love. Indeed, God bears evidence to the 
unselfishness of Israel and their full confidence in him, 
saying, “ I gave them affirmative commands and they 
received them; I’ gave them negative commands and 
they received them, and though I did not explain their 
reward, they said nothing” (making no objection).* In 
the devotional literature of the Middle Ages there is 
hardly a single work in which man is not warned 
against serving God with any intention of receiving 
reward, though, of course, the religionist is strongly 
urged to believe that God does reward goodness and 
does punish wickedness.® 


1 See Num. R,, 22 9. 2 jff_ ug 45^ ibid., 119 1. 

* See D’TOn 1ED, Parma, p. 254. Cf. also Azulai, niDnp "QUa, 
S.V., nairb. See also above, pp. 67 seq. and 68 s^q. Cf. also Schechter, 
Studies in Judaism^ 2d series, the essay on Saints and Saintliness, 



i 64 some aspects of rabbinic theology 


Nor does salvation exactly depend on the number 
of the commandments man accomplishes. It is true 
that every law gives Israel an opportunity of ac- 
quiring merit (Zachuth), and inheriting thereby the 
world to come ; for which reason the Holy One, blessed 
be he, multiplied to them Torah and commandments.' 
But this multiplication only aims at an increase 
of opportunities enabling man to accomplish at least 
one law in a perfect manner, which alone possesses 
the virtue of saving. “Even he who has done 
one of those things (enumerated in the 15th Ps.) is 
valued as much as if he had done all those things 
and shall never be moved,* and only he shall not escape 
the mouth of Sheol who has not accomplished a single 
law.” ® But the accomplishment of this single law must 
be, as already indicated, in the most perfect way. As 
R. Saadya Gaon states on Talmudic authority, 
the worshipper (Obed) is to be considered the man 
who at least set one law apart for himself which he 
should never transgress, or fall short of in any way.^ 

^ See Makkoth^ 23 b, Mishnah. Cf. Tan, B., 4 si a, and Num, B., 
172, and Friedmann, D''nBDD, p. 23. 

2 See Makkoth, 24 a\ M, T., 167. Cf. also Sanhedrin, Si a. It 
should be remarked that the paraphrase of the Rabbis of this Ps, and 
of Ez., 18 6 seg., implies even a higher standard than suggested by the 
literal sense of the Biblical text. 

^ See the statement of R. Jochanan in Makkoth, ibid, Cf, Rab- 
binowicz in Variae Lectiones, a, I, 

^ niDIDK, 5 : 8. His authority is Jer, Kiddushin, 6i d. As an 

instance of such a law, the commandment of honouring father and 
mother is given there. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


l6S 

In conformity with this is the view of Maimonides, who 
declares that it is an essential belief of the Torah that 
if a man fulfils even (only) one of the six hundred and 
thirteen laws in a perfect manner, so that it is not 
accompanied by any worldly consideration but done 
for the sake of the love of God, he becomes thereby 
worthy of the life of the world to come/ Maimonides 
illustrates his point by the story of a Rabbi (of the 
Tannaitic age), who was about to die the death of a 
martyr, but shortly before he suffered, he discussed 
with his friend his prospects of sharing in the life of 
the world to come. The answer he received was to 
the effect that if ever there came “an action into his 
hands,” he may hope for it ; that is, if he ever met with 
a case requiring a special effort to carry the law into 
effect. The Rabbi then remembered that in his ca- 
pacity as treasurer of the charities in his city such a case 
did occur, and that he performed his duty to the full. 
It is thus neither the martyrdom which he was to un- 
dergo nor the routine life in accordance with the law 
which may readily be expected of any Rabbi, but the 
accomplishment of one commandment in a perfect 
way that secures salvation.^ Somewhat similar is the 

^ vSee Maimonides, Commentary to Misknah Makkotk^ 3 I6. It is 
not impossible that both R. Saadya and Maimonides were also thinking 
of Mechilia 33 where we read in the name of R. Nehemiah, “ He 
who receives upon himself (even) a single law, in faith, is worthy that 
the Holy Spirit should rest upon him.” 

2 See Maimonides, ibid. See also Abodah Zarah^ 18 a, Cf. Albo, 
Ikkarintj 5 29. 



1 66 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

following story : A certain Rabbi who held communion 
with Elijah asked the prophet one day when standing 
in the market whether he could discover among the 
crowd there any person destined for the life of the 
world to come. “No,” answered the prophet. 
Subsequently Elijah perceived a certain person, then 
he said to the Rabbi, “ This is the man of the world 
to come.” Upon inquiry by the Rabbi, it was found 
that he was a jailer, and that he possessed the merit 
of watching over the chastity of the daughters of Israel, 
whom misfortune brought under his authority. A little 
later, the prophet again pointed out two more individ- 
uals as men of the^world to come. When the Rabbi 
asked after their profession they answered, “We are 
cheerful persons and cheer up the depressed ones. 
Again, when we see two persons quarrelling, we en- 
deavour to make peace between them.”* 

It must further be noted that even mere negative 
virtues are not without a certain saving power. “He 
who refrains from committing a sin, they reward him 
as if he accomplished a commandment.” ^ It should 
however be stated that this view is greatly modified by 
some other opinions that only admit the merit of this 
negative disposition when the temptation to sin was very 
great, or when the man out of conscientious scruples 
abstained from an action, the sinful feature of which 

' See Taanithy 22 a and Jer, Taanith^ 64 b, Cf. also Albo, ibid, 

^ See Alishnah Makkoth, 3 I6. Cf. Si/r^f 125 a, Kiddushin^ 39 b^ 
and Jer, Kiddushitiy 61 d. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


167 


was not fully established.* It is further modified 
by the following statement: “A man might think,” 
the Rabbis teach, “considering that he avoids every 
opportunity of sin and is on his guard against evil 
(with his tongue) and falsehood, he can now indulge 
in sleep (idleness), neither committing sin nor doing 
good ; therefore it is said ‘ Depart from evil and do 
good,’” (Ps. 34 14 ). And by “good” is meant the 
occupation with the Torah.* 

The real motive of this enthusiasm for the Law must 
be sought in other sources than the hope of reward. 
Those who keep the commandments of God are his 
lovers. And when the lover is asked. Why art thou 
carried away to be burned, stoned, or crucified? he an- 
swers, Because I have studied the Torah, or, Because I 
have circumcised my son, or, Because I have kept the 
Sabbath ; but he considers the suffering as wounds in- 
flicted upon him for the sake of his beloved one, and 
his love is returned by the love of God.® The Law is 
thus a means of strengthening the mutual relations of 
love between God and his people.* The fulfilment of 
the Law was, in the eyes of the Rabbis, a witnessing 
on the part of the Jews to God’s relationship to the 
world. “Why does this man,” they say, “refrain from 
work on the Sabbath ? why does he close his business 
on the seventh day? He does so in order to bear 

^ See Kiddushin, 31 b, and Jer. Kiddushiny 6i d, Cf. also M.T.y i 7 . 

2 See Abodah Zarahy b and 19 a, and AI. T.y i o. 

* Meckiltay 68 b, ^ See Mechiltay 98 a. 



l68 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


witness to the fact of God’s creation of the world, 
and to his providence over it.” ‘ The Law, accord- 
ing to the Rabbis, was a source of holiness. Each 
new commandment with which God blesses Israel 
adds holiness to his people; but it is holiness which 
makes Israel to be God’s own.* They deduce this 
doctrine from Exod. 20 30, which verse they explain 
to mean that it is the fact of Israel being holy men 
which gives them the privilege of belong- 
ing to God. Hence the formula in many benedictions: 
“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, . . . who hast 
sanctified us by thy commandments, and found delight 
in us.” * Another version of the same sort is, “ Be- 
loved are the commandments by which the Holy One, 
blessed be he, exalted the seed of his friend Abraham 
and gave them unto Israel with the purpose of beauti- 
fying and glorifying them; whilst Israel, his holy 
people, and his inheritance, glorify his name for the 
commandments and statutes he gave them. And it is 
because of these commandments that Israel arc called 
lioly.^ These reasons, namely, the motive of love, the 
privilege of bearing witness to God’s relationship to the 
world, the attainment of holiness in which the Law 
educated Israel, as well as the other spiritual motives 
which I have already pointed out, such as the joy felt 

1 See Mechiltay 104 a. - Ibid,, 98 a, 3 Baer, p. 198. 

^ See “IBD, ed. Mantua, 126 b. The diction of the passage 

shows that it has been taken from some ancient Midrash. See also 
above, p. 147. and below, p. 209. 



THE JOY OF THE LAW 


169 


by the Rabbis in the performance of the Law and the 
harmony which the Rabbis perceived in the life lived 
according to the Torah, were the true sources of Israel’s 
enthusiasm for the Law. At least they were powerful 
enough with the more refined and nobler minds in Israel 
to enable them to dispense utterly with the motives of 
reward and punishment; though, as in every other 
religion, these lower motives may have served as con- 
current incentives to a majority of believers. 



XII 


THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 
Imputed Righteousness and Imputed Sin 

The last chapter having treated of the righteousness 
achieved through the means of the Law and the sin 
involved by breaking it, it will be convenient to 
deal here with the doctrine of the mSt (the 

Merits of the Fathers), the merits of whose righteous- 
ness are charged to the account of Israel. This doc- 
trine plays an important part in Jewish theology, and 
has its counterpart in the belief that under certain 
conditions one person has also to suffer for the sins of 
another person. We have thus in Judaism bothjthe 
notion of imputed righteousness and imputed sin. 
They have, however, never attained such significance 
either in Jewish theology or in Jewish conscience as it 
is generally assumed. By a happy inconsistency, in 
the theory of salvation, so characteristic of Rabbinic 
theology, the importance of these doctrines is reduced 
to very small proportions, so that their effect was in 
the end beneficial and formed a healthy stimulus to 
conscience. 

The term mSl (Zachuth) is not to be found in the 

170 



THE ZACHVTH OF THE FATHERS 


171 

Bible, though the verb occurs in the sense of being pure 
or of being cleansed.* In the Rabbinic literature, the 
verb niDT is sometimes used as a legal term meaning to 
be acquitted, to be in the right, to have a valid claim; 
whilst the noun Zachuth means acquittal.^ Occa- 
sionally it also means to be worthy of a thing, or to be 
privileged.* In the pi' el it means to argue, to plead for 
acquittal.* Further, in a theological sense, to lead 
to righteousness,* to cause one or to give one the 
opportunity to acquire a merit, while the noun Zachuth 
is used in the sense of merit, virtue, which under 
certain conditions have a protective or an atoning 
influence.® 

For the sake of obtaining a clearer view of the 
subject, which is rather complicated, wc shall treat it 
under the following headings: (i) The Zachuth of 
a Pious Ancestry; (2) The Zachuth of a Pious Con- 
temporary; (3) The Zachuth of the Pious Posterity. 

(i) The Zachuth of the pious ancestry may generally 
be described as the niDX TilSt (the Zachuth of the 
Fathers), but the term Fathers is largely limited in Rab- 
binic literature to the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob, God’s covenant with whom is so often ap- 

1 See Micah 6 ii; Ps. 1 19 9 ; Job 25 4 . 

2 See Baba Meziah, 107 Mishnahy ibid., i 4; Mishnah Sanhedrin, 
4 1. See Jastrow’s Dictionary, s.v. See also Bacher, Terminologie, 

I 60 . 

3 See Sota, l"j a) Chagigah, 5 b, 

^ See, for instance, Mishnah Sanhedrin, 3 6. 

® See Aboth, 5 is. ® See Jer. Kiddushin, 61 d, and P. R., 38 b. 



172 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


pealed to already in the Bible. The Rabbinic rule is, 
“They call not Fathers but the three (patriarchs), and 
they call not Mothers but four” (Sarah, Rebeccah, 
Rachel, and Leah).' The last statement with regard to 
the Mothers suggests also that there is such a thing as 
the mnSSS mSt (the Zachuth of the Mothers). This is 
in conformity with the Rabbinic statement in reference 
to Lev. 26 42 regarding God’s remembering his covenant 
with the patriarchs, that there is also such a thing as 
the covenant with the Mothers.* In another place 
they speak even distinctly of the Zachuth of the 
Mothers, “If thou seest the Zachuth of the Fathers 
and the Zachuth of the Mothers, that they are on the 
decline, then hope for the grace of God.” * And it 
would even seem that they would invoke the Zachuth 
of the Mothers together with the Zachuth of the Fathers 
in their prayers on public fasts prescribed on the occa- 
sion of general distress.' In connection with the same 
verse (Lev. 26 42 ), the Rabbis speak also of the cove- 
nant with the Tribes (“the servants of the Lord”), 
to whom God has also sworn as he did to the patriarchs, 

^ Berachothy i 6 b. See, however, D, E. Z.y ch. i, where they speak of 
seven Fathers who entered into a covenant with God. In Sirach 
(heading to c. 44), the expression Fathers is even more extensive. 

2 T. K.y 112 

* See Jer, Sanhedritty 27 dy and Lev, R,y 36 6. Cf. commentaries, 
and see also Cant, R,y 2 9. 

* See Pseudo-Jonathan to Exod. 18 9 and Mechiltay 54 a. In our 
liturgy, the invocation to the Zachuth of the Mothers is very rare. A 
Piyut (hymn) by R. Gershom b. Judah, recited on the eve of the 
New Year, has a reference to the covenant of the Mothers. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 173 

and whose Zachuth Moses is also supposed to have 
invoked, as he did that of the Fathers.' 

It is, however, the Zachuth of the Fathers which 
figures most prominently in Rabbinic literature. The 
thought of the creation of the Fathers preceded the 
creation of the world.^ They are the rocks and the 
hills,® but also the foundations of the world, for it is 
on their Zachuth that the world is based.' Abraham 
is the very petra on which the Holy One, blessed be 
he, established the world,® as it is said, “For the 
foundations of the earth are the Lord’s” (i Sam. 2 8), 
whilst the Zachuth of the Fathers is also occasionally 
called “rock.” ® 

It is true that the Fathers are not considered abso- 
lutely perfect. They could not, according to some 
authorities, stand the rebuke (or judgement) of God.'' 
And though their position is so exalted that their 
abode would have been translated into the regions 
above had they wished it, nevertheless, they did not 
receive the epithet “Holy” until they died.® Yet, in 
general, they are considered as the greatest and 

1 T. H., 112 c; Exod. R., 44 d and 10. Cf. Isa. 63 n. See also 
P. R., 191 a. 

2 P. R. E., 3. Cf. Gen. R., l 4 . 

^ See Mechilta, 54 a, and Sifre^ 140 a. Cf. also Exod, 7 ?., 28 l. 

^ Exod, R.y 15 6. 

^ See Yalkui io Pent,^% 766, reproduced from the Yelamdenu. Cf. 
above, p. 59. 

® See Yalkut to Penti § 763, reproduced from the Yelamdenu, 

^ See Arachiny 16 a. ® Jf. T,y 162. See also commentary. 



174 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the most weighty among Israel/ except the King 
Messiah, according to certain Rabbis also except 
Moses.^ It is because of the Zachuth of the Fathers, 
or the Covenant with the Fathers, that Israel was 
redeemed from Egypt.^ That Moses was permitted 
to ascend Mount Sinai and to mingle there with the 
celestials and receive the Torah, was also for the sake 
of the Zachuth of the Fathers.^ When Israel sinned 
in the desert (by the worshipping of the golden calf), 
Moses uttered ever so many prayers and supplications 
and he was not answered. Indeed, his pleading for 
Israel lasted not less than forty days and forty nights, 
but all in vain. Yet when he said, “Remember Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob thy servants” (Exod. 32 13), 
his prayer was heard at once.® One Rabbi gets so 
exalted at the thought of the Zachuth of the Fathers 
that he exclaims to the effect : Blessed are the children 
whose fathers have a Zachuth, because they profit by 
their Zachuth; blessed are Israel who can rely upon 
the Zachuth of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, it is 
their Zachuth which saved them. It saved them on 
the occasion of the exodus from Egypt, when they 
worshipped the golden calf, and in the times of Elijah, 

1 See Sifre, 94 a, 

2 See Tan. B., i 70, text and commentary, and Sifre, 27 

® See Exod. R., I no. See also Mechilta, 48 t?, where the patriarchs 
are described as sinless. The opinions seem to have been divided. 
Cf. “’’ISD, ed. Buber, 25 a. See also Nachmanides’ commentary 

to Exod. 12 10. 

* Gen. R.y 28 1 and 2. ® Shabbath^ 42 a. Cf. Exod. R.^ 44 l. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


175 


and so in every generation.* Indeed, Israel is com- 
pared to a vine, because as the vine is itself alive, but 
is supported by dead wood, so Israel is living and last- 
ing, but is leaning upon the deceased Fathers.^ It is by 
reason of this support, that the righteous deeds of the 
Fathers are remembered before God. “Who was so 
active before thee (God) as Abraham, the lover of God ? 
Who was so active before thee as Isaac, who allowed 
himself to be bound upon the altar? Who was so 
active before thee as Jacob, who was so thankful to 
God?”® Therefore, whenever Israel comes into dis- 
tress they call into remembrance the deeds of the 
Fathers.* 

Besides the Zachuth of the Fathers, /ear 
limited to the patriarchs, there is also apparently the 
Zachuth of every man’s ancestry. The father, we 
are taught, transfers to his son the benefits of 

beauty, strength, wealth and wisdom and (old) age.® 

1 Ag, Ber., ch. lo. 2 £xod, R,, 44 1. Cf. Lev. R., 36 2. 

® See Can^. R.f 1 4. The special activities here are supplied from 
Si/re, p. 73 L 

* Aggadath Shir Hashirim^ p. 14. With regard to the sacrifice of 
Isaac, playing such an important part in the liturgy, see Midrashim to 
Gen., ch. 22; P. A'., 154 a and text and notes, and P. A., lyi < 5 , and 
reference given there. Cf. also MUG., 314 seq., and Beer, Leben 
Abrahams, pp. 57 seq., 175 seq. 

^ Mishnah Eduyoth, 2 9. Cf. Tosephta, ibid., p. 456, and Tosephta 
Sanhedrin, 4 32, and Jer. Kiddushin, 61 a. See also 63 c, and refer- 
ences, and Tan. B., i 64 b. Cf. also Kinyan Torah ; A. R. N., 
55 note 1 1, and 60 b, note 24, and Friedmann, D’^nSOD, pp, 19 and 20, 
text and notes. 



176 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Though these benefits are all personal and merely 
hereditary, it would seem that they were not quite 
dissociated in the mind of the Rabbis from the notion 
connected generally with Zachuth and its theological 
possibilities. This is the impression, at least, we 
receive from the remark of one of the ancient Rabbis, 
who declares that these benefits cease with the moment 
man has attained his majority, when he becomes 
responsible for his conduct, and that it depends upon 
his own actions whether these benefits should continue 
or not.‘ In the well-known controversy between the 
patriarch Rabban Gamaliel the Second and his oppo- 
nents, the general opinion was that preference should 
be given to R. Eliezer b. Azariah, above other nomi- 
nees, because he was a man who enjoyed the Zachuth 
of his fathers, having been a descendant of Ezra.* 
“The son of fathers” (that is, a man of noble descent) 
was generally respected, though some would place 
him below the scholar or “the son of the Torah.” * 
Indeed, he who had Zachuth of his fathers was 
thought that he could with less risk expose himself 
to danger than any other man.‘ They were also 
considered fit to act as the representatives of com- 
munities. “Let all men,” said a Rabbi, “who are 

1 See Tosephta Eduyoih, ibid., and compare Maimonides’ commen- 
tary to the Mishnah, ibid. From the references given in A. R. N., ibid., 
and Friedmann, D'’nDD3, ibid., it is also evident that the transferring of 
benefits are a special privilege of the righteous. Cf. also the Responsa 
of the Geonim, ed. Harkavy, p. 176. 

2 Berachoth, 27 a. ^ See Menachoth, 53 a. ^ See Shabbath, 129 b. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


177 


labouring with a Congregation (that is, leaders of 
communities occupied in social duties), act with them 
in the name of heaven, for the Zachuih of the fathers 
sustains them.” And the larger the number of these 
righteous fathers, the more effective is the Zachuth by 
which their children profit.* 

All these statements, however, with their exaggerating 
importance of the Zachuth of a righteous ancestry, 
are greatly qualified by another series of Rabbinic 
statements, reducing the Zachuth to small proportions. 
With regard to the Zachuth of the Fathers (or patri- 
archs), we have the astonishing assertion by the Rabbis 
that this Zachuth was discontinued long ago. The 
passage in question begins with the words, “When did 
the Zachuth of the Fathers cease?” In a parallel 
passage, it runs, “How long did the Zachuth of the 
Fathers last?” Various dates are fixed by various 
Rabbis, but none of them is later than the age of 
the King Hezekiah. The Scriptural proofs adduced 
by these Rabbis are not very cogent. The way, how- 
ever, in which the question is put impresses one 
with the conviction that this cessation of the Zachuth 
of the Fathers was a generally accepted fact and that the 
only point in doubt was the exact date when this cessa- 
tion took place. ^ But when this date was reached, 
the Holy One, blessed be he, exclaimed, “Until now 
you possessed the Zachuth of the Fathers, but for the 

1 Abotky 2 12, See also M. T.y 59 1. 

2 See Shabbathy ^ f Sanhedritiy 27 d ; and Lev. R.y 39 6. 

N 



178 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


future, every one will depend on his own actions. I 
shall not deal with you as I dealt with Noah (who, 
according to certain Rabbis, protected with his Zachuth 
his unworthy sons). Fathers will no longer save their 
children.” ^ Of course, Israel need not despair, for 
when every Zachuth of the ancestral piety disappears, 
Israel can always fall back on the grace of God, never 
to be removed.* Thus on the day when the Holy One, 
blessed be he, will judge Israel, the latter will look at 
the Fathers that they should plead for them, but there 
is no father who can save his son, and no man can 
save his brother in this distress. Then they will lift 
up their eyes to their Father in Heaven. In another 
place, the same thought is expressed to the following 
effect : Those generations (who passed through dis- 
tress) will say unto him, “ Master of the World, those 
of yore had the Fathers, whose Zachuth stood by them, 
but we are orphans, having no father, but thou hast 
written, ‘ For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy ’ ” 
(Hosea 144).* There is however one Rabbi who ob- 
jects to all the dates given, maintaining that the Zachuth 

1 Ag. Ber,j ch. lo. The authority of Ag, Ber, seems to be an old 
Baraitha. Cf. Midrash Tannainiy p. 62, § 9, where it even seems 
that the Zachuth of Noah continued much longer than the Zachuth of 
the Fathers, Israel only living on the Zachuth of the commandments. 
See also Ta^t, § 13, with reference to Gen. 31 42, where the remark is 
made that the Zachuth of (honest) handicraft is greater than the 
Zachuth of the Fathers. Cf. Berachothy 8 a, 

2 Lev. R.y ibid. See above, p. 1 72, note 3, with regard to the Zachuth 
of the Mothers. 

® See M. T.y\ 2 \ \\ Ag. Ber.y ch. 83. 



THE ZACHVTH OP THE FATHERS 


179 


of the Fathers lasts forever, and that Israel can always 
appeal to it, as it is said, “For the Lord, thy God, 
is a merciful God; he will not forsake thee, neither 
destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers 
which he sware unto them” (Deut. 4 3 i).‘ This, 
however, is more of an appeal to the covenant with the 
Fathers than to the Zachuth, the covenant being un- 
conditional and everlasting, independent of Israel’s 
actions.^ “And the truth of God endureth forever” 
(Ps. 1 17 2), is the covenant which God has established 
with the Fathers.^ This is in accordance with the 
remark of one of the mediiBval commentators of the 
Talmud, who says, “Though the Zachuth of the 
Fathers has ceased, the covenant of the Fathers never 
ended.” He points to the liturgy where we bring into 
remembrance the covenant, not the Zachuth, of the 
Fathers.^ Another commentator, again, explains that 
it is only the very wicked who may not rely any longer 

^ Jer, Sanhedrin^ 27 d, Cf. Lev. 39 6. 

2 Remarkable is the expression in the Mechilta of R. Simon^ p. 94, 

msn nns 

3 M. T.y II7 2 . 

^ See Tosafoth Shabbath^ 55 a. The appeal to the Zachtith of the 
Fathers is hardly represented in the original prayers, except if we take 
as such the words, “who rememberest the pious deeds of the patri- 
archs,” in the first benediction of the Eighteen Benedictions. These 
words, however, are omitted in the most ancient versions of the 
Eighteen Benedictions. To the covenant with the Fathers, however, 
we have a very emphatic appeal in the Musaf (Additional) Prayer of 
the New Year. It is in the later liturgy where the Zachuth of the 
Fathers plays such an important part. See Zunz, Synagogale Poesie, 
p. 455. Cf. Rev. S. Levy’s Original Virtue^ p. 7. 



l8o SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

on the Zachuth of the Fathers, whilst the righteous 
still profit by it. He further suggests that together 
with prayer the Zachuth of the Fathers may prove 
efficacious even now. This opinion receives some 
support from a statement of an ancient Rabbi, who 
declares that the Zachuth of the Fathers, which was so 
potent a factor on the occasion of the exodus from 
Egypt, would have been of little use but for the fact 
that Israel did repentance in time, since there was 
against their account also the consideration that they 
were soon to commit the sin of the golden calf.‘ 
Generally, it may be stated that the Zachuth of the 
Fathers still retained its hold on Jewish consciousness, 
at least in its aspect of the covenant, if not directly, 
as a fountain of grace on which the nation can rely 
at all times. In fact, the two aspects are sometimes 
closely combined. Thus we are told that God removes 
the sin of Israel on account of the Zachuth of the 
conditions (or covenant) which he made with Abraham, 
their father (between the Pieces).^ Again, “When 
Moses the Prophet began to say those words (the Curses 
of Deut. 28 15-68) . . . the Fathers of the World 

1 See the commentaries to Lev. R.y 36 6, and Exod. R., i 36 . Cf. 
Beer, Lehen Abrahams^ p. 202 seq. 

2 See Cant. R., 1 14. Cf. Gen. 15 10. Cf. also Deut. R.y 2 23, where 
the verse to prove the effect of the Zachuth of the Fathers upon the 
redemption is Deut. 4 ni, “For the Lord . . . will not . . . forget the 
covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” See also Detd. 
R.y 6 4, where they speak of the Zachuth of the Fathers, the covenant 
and the oaths, which are afterwards reduced to the Zachuth of the 
Fathers alone. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS i8i 

(the patriarchs) lifted their voices from their graves 
. . . and said, ‘Woe to our children when they are 
guilty, and all these curses come upon them. How 
will they bear them ? Will he make an end of 
them, as our Zachuth will not protect them, and there 
will be no man who will pray for them?’ Then there 
came a daughter voice from the high heavens, and thus 
she said, ‘Fear not, ye Fathers of the World. Even 
if the Zachuth of the generations should cease, your 
Zachuth will never end, nor will the covenant I made 
with you be dissolved and (these) will protect them.’” ‘ 

It was different with the Zachuth of the fathers, or 
ancestral piety in general, where no such covenant 
exists. Various passages have also been reproduced 
in proof of the Rabbinic belief in this Zachuth.'^ It is 
hardly necessary to remind one of the Biblical au- 
thority for this belief, the very Decalogue containing 
the words, “ For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, 
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto 
the third and fourth generations of them that hate me ; 
and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love 
me, and keep my commandments” (Exod. 20 . 6 and 6). 
Some Rabbis, urging the plural “unto thousands,” 
(meaning at least two thousand), infer from this that 
the period of grace is to last five hundred times as 
long as that of punishment,® the visiting of iniquity 
extending only to the third and fourth generations. 

^ Pseudo- Jonathan ^ Deut. 28 I6. 2 gge above, p. 175 seq, 

^ See Tosefta Sotak, 298; Sotah, ii a, Cf. Voma, 76 a. 



i 82 some aspects of rabbinic theology 


Other Rabbis explain these words to stand for 
generations of indefinite number and without end,* 
or, as it is expressed in another place, by the accom- 
plishment of a religious act man acquires merit for 
himself and for his posterity, “until the end of all 
generations.” * But this Zachuth experiences many 
limitations. Thus, with reference to Deut. 7 9, in 
which the extension of this Zachuth is confined to a 
thousand generations, and which the Rabbis took as 
contradicting the verse just quoted from Exodus 
(extending it to two thousand generations), the ex- 
planation is given that this former verse refers to cases 
in which those who transfer the merit serve God only 
through motives of fear ; hence, their merit is not so 
enduring and is subject to limitations in time.® The 
Zachuth, thus to have a more lasting effect, has to be ac- 
quired by the highest degree of perfection in the service 
of God, which is that accomplished through the motive 
of love. But even of more importance are the limita- 
tions made on the part of those who are to profit by 
these merits. We are referring to the emphatic state- 
ment of Hillel, who said, “If I am not for myself, 
who is for me, and being for myself, what am I ?” which 
is explained to mean, “ I must work out my own sal- 

* Mechilta, 68 b. Cf. also Hits Plpb to Deut. 7 

^ T. K.y 27 a. Cf. also YomUf 87 a, where it is stated that both 
Zachuth and guilt have their efl'ect until the end of all generations. 

^ See Sotahy 31 <7. See Rashi’s commentary as to the meaning of fear 
and love. 



THE ZACHVTH OF THE FATHERS 183 

vation, yet how weak are my unaided efforts !” ‘ This 
interpretation is supported by a paraphrase given of 
it in an older source, “If I have not acquired merit for 
myself, who will acquire merit for me, making me 
worthy of the life of the world to come? I have no 
father, I have no mother, I have no brother” (upon 
whose merits I can rely).^ A similar opinion of the Rab- 
bis is expressed with reference to Deut. 32 39 , “ Fathers 
save not their children: Abraham saved not Ishmael, 
Jacob saved not Esau; brothers save not brothers, . . . 
Isaac saved not Ishmael, Jacob savc4 not Esau. All 
the money in the world established no ransom, as it is 
said, ‘Surely a brother redeemeth not a man, nor 
giveth to God a ransom for him” (Ps. 49 8).® Again, 
“Let not a man say, my father was a pious man, 
I shall be saved for his sake. Abraham could not 
save Ishmael, nor could Jacob save Esau.” Indeed, 
it would seem as if this were a generally accepted 
axiom, expressed in the words, “A father cannot save 
the son.” In the face of such statements, some of 
which became almost proverbial, there can be no 
doubt that the Zachulh of the fathers in no way served 
to silence the conscience of the individual, relieving him 
from responsibility for his actions. What this Zachuth 

1 Abothf I 15 . Cf. Taylor on this saying. See also A, R, 27 
note 58. 

2 A. R, iV., 27 b. 

® See St/re, 139 b, Cf. Targum to Ps. 49 8 and lo, authorised version. 
See also A, R» N,, ibid,y and Sanhedrin^ 104 a, 

^ M. l\y 46 2, ^ Sanhedrin, ibid. 



i84 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

served mostly to establish was the consciousness of 
the historic continuity, and to increase the reverence 
for the past which has thus become both foundation 
and inspiration. But this very idea brought Israel 
new duties. “We are thy people,” runs an old prayer, 
“ the children of thy covenant, the children of Abraham, 
thy friend ... the seed of Isaac ... the congregation 
of Jacob, thy first-born son. . . . Therefore it is 
our duty to thank, praise, and glorify thee, to bless, to 
sanctify, and to offer praise and thanksgiving unto 
thy name.” ‘ And it is in the end the grace of God 
himself to which the congregation of Israel appeals. 
The congregation of Israel says to the holy one, 
blessed be he; We have no salvation but in thee, we 
hope only in thee.* Again, when Israel comes into 
distress, they say unto the Holy One, blessed be he: 
Redeem us ! but God says unto them : Are there 
among you righteous and God-fearing men (by whose 
Zachuth they could profit)? They answer: In the 
former times of our ancestors, the days of Moses, 
Joshua, David, Samuel, and Solomon, we had (such 
righteous men), but now, the longer the exile lasts, 
the darker it becomes. Then God says, “Trust in my 
Name, and my Name will save you.” * Again, the 
congregation of Israel said before the Holy One, 
blessed be he, “ It is not for the sake of our righteous- 
ness and the good deeds we possess, that thou wilt 

1 See Singer, p. 8; Baer, p. 45. * See M. T,, 88 1. 

® See 7 "., 31 1 and references. 



THE ZACHVTH OF THE FATHERS 18 $ 


save us, but whether to-day or to-morrow, deliver us 
for the sake of thy righteousness.” * And indeed, it 
was for his Name’s sake that he redeemed them from 
Egypt; that he brought them to the Holy Land was 
also for his Name’s sake, not for the sake of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob; and so will the future redemption 
from Edom be effected for his Name’s sake.* 

Corresponding to the ancestral piety is the ances- 
tral sin, which is charged, as indicated above, to the 
account of posterity that it may be made to suffer 
for it. As in the case of imputed righteousness, so 
they had also for the belief in imputed sin Biblical 
authority in the words of the Decalogue, “Visiting the 
iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third 
and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exod. 
20 6). But it did not escape the Rabbis that this is 
in contradiction with the verse, “The fathers shall 
not be put to death for the children, neither shall the 
children be put to death for the fathers; every man 
shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24 16). 

1 M. T.f 71 2. 

2 See A/. T; 107 1. This is in contradiction to the statement made 
above, p. 174, that it was the Zachuth of the Fathers which was effec- 
tive at the redemption from Egypt. According to other Rabbis at 
every redemption both in the past and in the future, various factors 
come into consideration, among them the Zachuth of the Fathers and 
repentance. See also M, T., 1145, and references given there, with 
regard to the Zachuth which was effective on the occasion of that 
redemption. Cf. Jer. Taanith, 62, d \ AI. 7"., 1069; Deut. A., 2 28; 
P, R.i 184 b. The last adds, “ It is repentance which causes the mercy 
of God and the Zachuth of the Fathers (to be effective).’^ 



l86 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


They tried to meet this difficulty by explaining that 
children are made to suffer for the sins of their fathers 
only when they perpetuate the wicked deeds of their 
parents, in which case they are considered as identical 
with their parents, for whose sins they are thus punished 
in addition to their own.‘ Rather interesting is the 
way in which one of the Rabbis puts this contradiction : 
“ When the Holy One, blessed be he, said unto Moses, 
that he was visiting the sins of the fathers upon the chil- 
dren, Moses answered, ‘ Master of the world, how many 
wicked people have begot righteous children ? Shall they 
share in the sins of their parents? Terah worshipped 
images, and Abraham his son was righteous; Hezekiah 
was righteous, whilst his father Ahaz was wicked. . . . 
Is it proper that these righteous sons should be pun- 
ished for the sins of their fathers?’ Thereupon, the 
Holy One, blessed be he, said unto him, ‘ Thou hast in- 
structed me well. By thy life, I shall remove my words 
and will establish thy words,’ as it is said, ‘Fathers 
shall not be put to death for their children,’ etc. (Deut. 
24 16 ). ‘By thy life, I will ascribe (these words) to 

^ See Onkelos and Pseudo-Jonathan to the verse in Exodus. San- 
hedrin^ 27^. Cf. also Mechilta^ 78 and ii^a, and P. 167^, as 
well as T, K.y 112 b, with reference to Lev. 26 89 . Nachmanides in his 
commentary to this passage in Exodus explains this contradiction that 
the visiting of the sins of the fathers takes place only in the case of 
idolatry, whilst in other sins the suffering or the punishment is confined 
to the individual who committed the crime. However, he gives no 
Rabbinical authority for this opinion. Perhaps he was thinking of 
Mechilta 68 a^ which explains that it is only in the case of idolatry that 
he is an Kip whilst in the case of other sins he is pHI Din“1. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 187 

thy name,’ as it is said, ‘ But the children of the murder- 
ers he slew not: according unto that which is written 
in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord 
commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to 
death for the children,’”” etc. (2 Kings 14 6).‘ The 
same contradiction the Rabbis also saw between Exodus 
20 6 and Ezekiel 18 20, “The soul that sinneth, it 
shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the 
father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the 
son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon 
him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon 
him,” and tried to reconcile it in the following way : That 
in the case of a man who is righteous, his wicked pos- 
terity is not liable to suffer for their own sins so quickly, 
the punishment being suspended for a time by the 
merits of their fathers; but in the case that a man is 
wicked, the visiting of his sins upon his wicked posterity 
will hasten the judgement of God, so that his children 
will at once be punished for their own evil deeds. In 
no case, however, will they suffer for the sins of their 
fathers.* Other Rabbis, however, saw in this contradic- 
tion a direct prophetic improvement upon the words of 
the Torah. “ Moses said, ‘ God visits the sins of the 
fathers upon the children,’ but there came Ezekiel and re- 
moved it and said, ‘ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ ” ® 

^ See Num. R,, 19 88. 2 Mechilta of R. Simon^ p. 106. 

^ Makkoth^ 24 a, Cf. also Ag. Ber.^ ch. 10, where it would seem 
that there was a certain point in history when neither ancestral right- 
eousness nor ancestral wickedness were of any consequence to the 
children. 



l88 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


The prophetic view is the one generally accepted by 
the Rabbis.‘ As an exception we may perhaps con- 
sider the sin of Adam, causing death and decay to 
mankind of all generations.^ When the Holy One, 
blessed be he, created Adam, the first, he took him 
around all the trees of the Paradise and he said to 
him: “ See my works, how beautiful and excellent they 
are. All that I have created I have created for thy 
sake. Take heed that thou sinnest not and destroy my 
world. For if thou hast sinned, there is none who can 
repair it. And not only this, but thou wilt also cause 
death to that righteous man (Moses). . . .” It is to 
be compared to a woman with child who was in prison. 
There she gave birth to a son, whom she brought up 
within the prison walls before she died. Once the King 
passed before the door, and the son began crying: 
“ My master, the King ! Here was I born, here was 

1 See d'’TDn HBD, Parma, pp. 32 and 39, for some interesting 
remarks and fine distinctions on this point. See also Schechter, 
Studies in Judaism^ p. 266 seq» 

2 See Eccles. JR,, 7 is, but see also Gen, R,, 14 6. Cf. T, K,, 27 a, 
Cf, Num, R,, 9 49. Cf. Pugio Fidei, p. 675 (865), who seems, however, 
to have tampered with the text. There can be little doubt that the 
belief in the disastrous effects of the sin of Adam on posterity was 
not entirely absent in Judaism, though this belief did not hold such 
a prominent place in the Synagogue as in the Christian Church. It is 
also thought that in the overwhelming majority of mankind there is 
enough sin in each individual case to bring about death without the sin 
of Adam. See Tan, B,, i iici:, and Shabbath 52^ and The doctrine 
was resumed and developed with great consistency by the Cabalists of 
the sixteenth century. Cf. also Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchen- 
vdtern, p. 46. 



THE ZACHVTH OF THE PATH EES 189 


I brought up; for which crime am I placed here?” 
The King answered, “For the crime of your mother.” 
Likewise there are certain national sins, as, for instance, 
the sin of the golden calf, in the expiation of which 
each generation contributes its small share, at least in 
the coin of suffering. ‘ 

( 2 ) The Zachuth of a Pious Contemporary (and 
Contemporary Sin). The most important passage to 
be considered in this connection is that relating to the 
scale of merit and the scale of guilt. Believing fully in 
the justice of God, the Rabbis could not but assume 
that the actions of man form an important factor in 
the scheme of his salvation, whether for good or for 
evil. Hence the statement that man is judged in ac- 
cordance with the majority of his deeds, and the world 
in general, in accordance with the number of the right- 
eous or wicked men it contains.* In accordance with 
this is the notion of the scale of merit (or Zachuth) 
and the scale of guilt. Assuming a man to be neither 
particularly righteous nor particularly wicked, and the 
world in general to consist of an equal number of right- 
ous and wicked men, the fate of the world may be 
determined by a single action added to the scale which 
outbalances the other, and so may the fate of the whole 
world depend on it. “He performed one command- 
ment, and bliss is unto him, for he may by this have 
inclined the scales ('37''"l3n) both with regard to himself 

1 See /er, Taanith, 68 c, and Sanhedrin^ 102 a, 

2 See Tosephta Kiddushitty 336. Kiddushitiy 40 by and Eccles. R,, 10 1. 



igo SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


and with regard to the whole world to the side of Zachuth. 
He committed one sin, woe is unto him, for he may by 
this have inclined the scales both with regard to himself 
and with regard to the whole world to the side of guilt.” ‘ 

The protective power of the Zachuth of the pious 
contemporary not only turns the scales to the side 
of Zachuth but “ even maintains the world that was 
created by Ten Sayings.” * The authority for such a 
belief is given in the well-known dialogue between God 
and Abraham regarding the absence of the righteous 
men in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 1824 seq.). And 
it is with reference to this dialogue that we are told 
that Abraham received the good message that the world 
will never be lacking in a certain number of righteous 
men even like himself, for whose sake the world will 
endure.® This number is differently given in the vari- 
ous sources, ranking between fifty and one. “ Even for 
the sake of one righteous man the world is maintained, 
as it is said, ‘ the righteous is the foundation of the 
world ’ ” (Prov. 10 25). Indeed, every day a daughter- 
voice comes from Mount Horeb, that says, “ The whole 
world is fed for the sake of my son Chaninah, but he 
himself lives the whole week on a Kab of carobs.” * 

^ See Kiddushin, 40 and references. 2 Ahoth, 5 1. 

^ See Gen. R., 49 8. The number given there is thirty. Chullin^ 
92 <2, speaks of forty-five. P. R. E.y ch. 25, has fifty. Cf. P. K.y 88 a, and 
ATHG.y 278. The statement given in the text is from Yomuy 38 b. 

^ Berachothy \*] b. See also Tan. B.y 5 26 a. For the contemporary 
Zachuth on a more limited scale, see among others, Taanithy 20 b and 
21 b ; Baba Meziay 85 a ; Sanhedrin, 114^; and ChulUuy 86 a. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


IQI 


As to the effect of contemporary sin it is hardly 
necessary to point out that a difference is to be made 
between the punishment to be decreed by the worldly 
court and that inflicted by heaven. The court in 
Rabbinic notion is strictly confined in its dealings 
to the sinner himself. In the case of Achan, it is 
even declared against the literal sense of the Scrip- 
tures, that his children did not really suffer. Accord- 
ing to the Rabbis, they were only made to be present 
at the execution of their father, in order to come under 
the deterring effect of the whole procedure.’ The judge- 
ment of heaven, however, makes the community respon- 
sible for the sins of the individual. They indeed fall 
heavily into the scale, but not on the ground of imputa- 
tion, but by reason of solidarity, which was very strongly 
felt in the ancient Jewish community. “ Israel,” an an- 
cient Rabbi expressed himself, “is like one body and one 
soul. ... If one of them sinned, they are all of them 
punished.” ^ The great principle was, all Israel are 
surety one for another.® “ You are all surety for each 
other. If there is one righteous man among you, you will 
all be sustained by his merit, and not only you alone, but 
also the whole world ; and when one sins, the whole gen- 
eration will be punished.” * This responsibility affects 

1 See Joshua 7 24 and 26. Cf. Targum and commentaries to these 
verses, and Sanhedrin^ 44 a. Against this is to be noticed P, R. E.y 38, 
text and commentaries. 

2 See Mechilta of R. Simony p. 95. Cf. Lev. R.y 4 6. See also Lewy, 
Ein Wort uber die Mechilta des R. Simony p. 25. 

® See Sanhedriny 27 b and references. 

^ Tan. B.y 5 26 a and references. 



192 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the community differently with different sins. In the 
case of a false oath, not only the transgressor suffers, 
but also his family as well as the rest of the world 
are visited by the divine judgement. In lighter sins, 
the community is only made responsible in the case 
when they could have protested against the crime to be 
committed, but failed to do so.‘ The family of the 
criminal suffers, of course, in a higher degree than 
strangers.* It would seem, further, that, as far at 
least as the judgement of heaven was concerned, there 
was a tendency to consider the relatives of a criminal 
as a sort of accessories to the crime. Thus the ques- 
tion is put with reference to Lev. 20 6, “ If he sinned, 
what crime did his family commit ? ” The answer given 
is, “There is no family counting among its members 
a publican in which they are not all publicans. There 
is no family counting among its members a highwayman 
in which they are not all highwaymen.” ® Little 
children seem to form almost a part of their fathers’ 
selves and suffer on that account for the sins of their 
parents. They are not included in the classes of chil- 
dren exempt by the law of Lev. 24 I6.* The elders 

1 See Shebuoth^ 39 a, ^ See Shebuoth^ 39 b. See, however, next note. 

® See T. K.f 91 Pseudo- Jonathan to the verse in Leviticus, and 
Shebuothj ibid. The comment of the Getnara seems to labour under 
the difficulty of reconciling various Rabbinic sayings. More probable 
it is that this heavy responsibility of the family refers on the whole to 
the sins of a very serious nature, such as a false oath, the worshipping 
of Moloch, etc. 

^ See Sifrcy 124 and cf. below, p. 175, where the reason is given 
that they stand surety for their parents. From a Midrash quoted in 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


193 


and lea(^ers, again, of the community are burdened 
with a special responsibility, as it is assumed that their 
protest may, by reason of their authority, prevent crimed 

The Scriptural words, “Cursed be he that con- 
fir meth not all the words of this law to do them ” 
(Dcut. 27 26), are interpreted to refer to the worldly 
tribunal which fails in its duty to enforce the law and 
to protest against crimed Again, with reference to 
Prov. 6 1, the Rabbis remarked: This verse refers 
to the student. As long as one is a mere student, he 
is not concerned in the community and will not be 
punished for the sin of the latter. But when he is 
appointed at its head and has put on the gown (a special 
dress which the Rabbi used to wear in his judicial 
capacity) . . . the whole burden of the public is upon 
him. If he sees a man using violence against his 
neighbour or committing an immoral action and does 
not protest, he will surely be punished.® Indeed, he who 
has the power of protesting and does not protest, he 
who has the power to bring Israel back to the good and 
does not bring them back, is responsible for all the 
bloodshed in Israel, as though he would have com- 

6, MS., it would still seem that the loss of children is only 
another kind of punishment of the father. D'’ 3 tflpn nbscn blSkt 

ina iD'raip ■'jea laba anpn irraK*? nb^ta. See also Mid- 

rash Zuta^ 47, that this death or suffering of children for the sin of 
their fathers is only up to the age of 13. After this age it is for the 
child’s own sin. Cf. also Low’s Lebensalter, p. 41 1. 

1 See Shabbaihy 55 Cf. Tan, B,y 3 21 r? and references there. 

2 See /er, Sotahy 21 d, 2 Exod. R,, 27 9. 



194 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


mitted the murder himself. For, as already stated, 
all Israel are surety one for another. They are to be 
compared to a company sailing in a ship, of whom one 
took a drill and began to bore a hole under his seat. 
When his friends protested, he said, “What does this 
concern you? Is not this the place assigned to me?” 
They answered him, “ But will not the water come up 
through this hole and flood the whole vessel?” Like- 
wise the sin of one endangers the whole community.^ 

The community, however, according to the majority 
of the Rabbis, is not responsible for the sins committed 
in secret. “When Israel stood on Mount Sinai they 
all made up one heart to receive the kingdom of heaven 
in joy, and not only this, they pledged themselves one 
for the other. When the Holy One, blessed be he, 
revealed himself to make a covenant with them which 
should also include the secret things, they said, ‘We 
will make a covenant with thee for the things seen, but 
not for the things secret, lest one among us commit a 
sin in secret and the whole community be made re- 
sponsible.’” ^ This condition of Israel was accepted 
by God. “Things hidden are revealed to the Lord, 
our God, and he will punish for them, but things seen 
are given over to us and to our children forever, to do 

1 See S. E,, p. 56, Cf. also Lev. R., 4 e. 

2 Mechilta, 66 b. The reading there is not quite certain. Cf. com- 
mentary. In the text the reading of the Yalkut was partly followed. 
For opposite views, see Friedmann, Introduction to S. E.y p. 73, and 
references given there to Sanhedrin^ 43 b. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


19s 

judgement concerning them.” ' Quite isolated seems to 
be the opinion according to which this exemption from 
mutual responsibility extended after the Revelation 
on Mount Sinai also to things seen. It is expressed 
in the following way; From the moment that God 
gave the Torah, it is only he who sins that will be 
punished, though before that the whole generation was 
responsible for the sin of the individual. Thus there 
were many righteous men swept away with the deluge 
in the times of Noah.^ On the other hand, we have 
also the view that this responsibility extended also 
to things secret with the moment all Israel passed 
the Jordan (and established there a proper common- 
wealth).® It was only after the destruction of the 
Second Temple, when the Sanhedrin gathered in Jab- 
neh, that they were relieved from this responsibility, a 
voice from heaven proclaiming, “You need not busy 
yourselves with things hidden that is to say, that 
with the loss of Israel’s political independence, and 
proper jurisdiction of the community over all its mem- 
bers connected with it, the solidarity was also, partially 
at least, relaxed. 

(3) The Zachuth of a Pious Posterity, or the sin of 
a wicked posterity which has a retroactive influence 
upon their progenitors. With regard to sin there is 

1 See Pseudo-Jonathan to Deut. 29 6. ^ Tan.y 3. 

^ See SanhedriHy 43 b. The reading is uncertain. See commentaries. 
Cf. also Sifrey 18 ^ ; A. R, N»y 50 a and by and references. 

^ Jer, Sotaky 22 a. 



196 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

only a faint trace of such a belief left in the earlier 
Rabbinic literature. It is with reference to Deut. 
21 8, where the statement is made that even the 
dead are in need of an atonement, but the context 
shows that such an atonement is only needed in case 
of murder, which is supposed to have a damaging 
effect upon the ancestors of the murderer. It is not 
impossible that this notion was suggested by Ezekiel 
18 10, “ And if he begat a son that is a robber or a 
shedder of blood.” The murderer is thus born already 
with the taint of his subsequent sin. But, if the ances- 
tor can be affected by a sin not committed by himself, 
it is only reasonable that he should secure pardon 
by an atoning action accomplished by posterity.* 
More ample are the references to the Zachuth of a 
pious posterity. Thus the Holy One, blessed be he, 
acts kindly with the first (fathers) for the sake of 
the Zachuth of the latter ones (descendants), as was 
the case with Noah, who was saved for the sake of 
his children.* Abraham, again, became worthy of 
taking possession of the land for the sake of the 
Zachuth attaching to the commandment of bringing 
the first sheaf of their harvest, which Israel will ac- 
complish.* There was even a saying that a son can 
make his father acquire a merit “for so they said, 

1 See Sifre^ I12 b (§ no), text and commentary, especially note 6. 
The text is not quite certain. The Halachic point of view of this 
question is fully treated by Azulai, ‘iriT, p. 54 seq, 

^ Gen. R.f 29 6. ^ See P. 71 « ; Lev, 28 6. 

^ See Sanhedrin^ 104 a. 



THE ZACHUTH OF THE FATHERS 


197 


Children save their parents from the judgement of 
Gehenna.” And so Solomon said, “Correct thy son 
and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight 
unto thy soul” (Prov. 29 17 ); that is, he will deliver 
thee from the judgement in the Gehenna, and will 
delight thy soul in Paradise with the righteous.* 

This relief coming from the children is, according to 
the source of the statement just given, only for four 
generations, God suspending the judgement of the 
ancestors till their great-grandchildren are grown 
up, by whose righteousness they might be relieved. 
“ And so Samuel said to Israel, ‘ But if ye will not 
obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the 
commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of 
the Lord be against you and against your fathers’ 
(i Samuel 12 15). Be therefore careful that you do 
not provoke the wrath of God and receive punishment, 
so that even your fathers, whose sins were in suspense, 
who were hoping for your redeeming merits will now 
be judged according to their deeds.” ^ The relief by 

1 MHG., Num. Ms., 8l a. 

2 MHG,y ibid. He derives this doctrine from Exod. 20 r>, taking the 
word “IpB in the sense of depositing or entrusting. See Mechilta of 
R. Simon j p. io6, text and notes, and cf. P.K.y 167 a. This interpre- 
tation is preceded by a long argument ascribed to Tannaitic authorities 
in favour of this doctrine. Cf. Reskith Chochniah^ Section 

ed. Cracow, pp. 332 b, 334 b, and 375 a and where the contents 
of these extracts from MHG. are to be found, but in a rather corrupt 
text. Some reminiscence of it is to be found in Eccles. 7 ?., 4 1. See 
also D’‘7CB 31 , by R. Abraham of Wilna, p. 34 b, anJ D’aipbn IBD by 
Griinhut, 3 a, seg. Cf. also D'’TDn "ISD, Parma, pp. 76 and 261. See 
also Rashi and Kimchi to Samuel I2 I6. 



198 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

the posterity is extended from children to the general 
public, and a principle is laid down that the living re- 
deem the dead,* and indeed we find cases in Rabbinical 
literature where prayers were offered for the benefit of 
the dead.* It does not seem, however, that the doctrine 
took root in Jewish conscience. The whole of the 
original liturgy has not a single reference to the dead, 
nor is there during the first ten centuries of our era to 
be found a single fixed prayer for the benefit of those 
departed. The first time we meet with the practical 
question of the use of offering alms or prayers for the 
dead is in the Responsa of a certain Gaon in the 
eleventh century, who was asked whether the offerings 
made for the dead can be of any advantage to them. 
He seems to have been quite astonished by this ques- 
tion, and confesses his ignorance of such a custom.® 

^ See Tanchuma, I; Tan. B., Introduction, 90 a, 

2 See Gen. 98 2, and reference given there; Chagigahy 15 
Soiah, 10 b\ Makkoth^ il b. Cf. also Friedmann’s p. 23 seq.-y 

2 Maccabees, 1 3 43 seq. 

^ See T by of the Mekize Nirdamim, Berlin, 1886, pp. 16 and 
17, and cf. Hechaluzy 13 93. Cf. also }VJn by R. Abraham b. 

Chiya, p. 58 seq,y and 32 a. 



XIII 


THE LAW OF HOLINESS AND THE 
LAW OF GOODNESS 

Holiness is the highest achievement of the Law 
and the deepest experience as well as realisation of 
righteousness. It is a composite of various aspects not 
easily definable, and at times even seemingly contra- 
dictory. But diverging as the ideals of holiness may 
be in their application to practical life, they all originate 
in the conception of the kingdom, the central idea of 
Rabbinic theology, and in Israel’s consciousness of 
its close relation to his God, the King.* In its broad 
features holiness is but another word for Imilatio Dei, 
a duty intimately associated with Israel’s close contact 
with God. The most frequent name for God in the 
Rabbinic literature is “ the Holy One,” occasionally also 
“Holiness,”^ and so Israel is called holy.® ]^t 
the holiness of Israel is dependent on their acting in 
such a way as to become God-like.'' “Ye shall be 

^ See above, p. 65 seq, 

2 See Blau, Zur Einleiiung, p. 13; Bacher, Terminologies i 169 . 
See also Friedmann. Introduction to D'^nDDD, p. 20. 

® See Tan. B., 3 37 6; P.K. ill a\ S.E, 133. Cf. also Shabbathf 
86 ay and references given there. 

4 See Num. 9 4 and 176. 


199 



200 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

holy, for I the Lord am holy” (Lev. 192). These 
words are explained by the ancient Rabbinic sage 
Abba Saul to mean “Israel is the familia (suite or 
bodyguard) of the King (God), whence it is incumbent 
upon them to imitate the King.” * The same thought 
is expressed in different words by another Rabbi, who 
thus paraphrases the verse from Leviticus which has 
just been cited. “Ye shall be holy, and why? because 
I am holy, for I have attached you unto me, as it is 
said, ‘For as the girdle cleaves to the loins of a man, 
so I have caused to cleave unto me the whole house of 
Israel’” (Jer. 13 11).^ Another Rabbi remarked, “God 
said to Israel, Even before I created the world you 
were sanctified unto me; be ye therefore holy as I am 
holy;” and he proceeds to say, “The matter is to be 
compared to a king who sanctified (by wedlock) a 
woman unto him, and said to her: Since thou art my 
wife, what is my glory is thy glory, be therefore holy 
even as I am holy.” ® In other words, Israel having 
the same relation to God as the familia to the king, 
or as the wife to the husband, or as children to the 
father,^ it follows that they should take him as their 
model, imitating him in holiness. 

Before proceeding to some analysis of this Imitatio 
Dei, or holiness, as suggested by the Rabbinic literature, 

^ T.K,, 86 c, Cf. Bacher, Ag, Tan,y 2 867 , and Lewy, Ueber einige 
Fragtnente aus der Afisckna des Abba Saul, p. 23. 

^ Tan. B., 3 37 Cf. also 16 a. 

® Tan, B.y ^ si a. ^ See Lev. R,, 24 4. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 201 


it must be remarked that the Hebrew term Kedushah 
does not quite cover our term holiness, the mystical 
and higher aspect of it being better represented by the 
Hebrew term Chasiduih (saintliness), for which Ke- 
dushah is only one of the preparatory virtues ; ‘ though 
the two ideas are so naturally allied that they are not 
always separated in Rabbinical texts. I shall, never- 
theless, in the following pages classify my remarks 
under the two headings of Kedushah and Chasiduih. 
The former moves more within the limits of the Law, 
though occasionally exceeding it, whilst the latter, aspir- 
ing to a superior kind of holiness, not only supplements 
the Law, but also proves a certain corrective to it. 

As we have seen, holiness, according to Abba Saul, 
is identical with Imitation of God. The nature of this 
imitation is defined by him thus: “/ and he, that is 
like unto him (God). As he is merciful and gracious, 
so be thou (man) merciful and gracious.” ^ The 
Scriptural phrases “walking in the ways of God” 
(Deut. II 22), and “being called by the name of God” 
(Joel 35), arc again explained to mean, “As God is 
called merciful and gracious, so be thou merciful and 

^ See T. B. Abodah Zarah, 20 by and Rabbinowicz, Variae Lec^ 
tiones to the passages. All the parables, however (given by Bacher 
in his Ag. Tan. 2, p. 496, note 5, to which Midrash Prov.y 15, is also 
to be added), have HlTDri close to p"mn 

2 MechiltUy 37 ay and Shabbath 133 and parallels. The inter- 
pretation of Abba Saul is based on the word in Exod. 15 2, 

which he divides into IHI '’ 3 K, meaning, “ I (man) and he (God).^* 
See also above, pp. 90 and 119. 



202 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

gracious; as God is called righteous, so be thou right- 
eous; as God is called holy, so be thou holy.” ^ Again, 
as the way of heaven is that he is ever merciful 
against the wicked and accept their repentance, so be ye 
merciful against each other. As he bestows gifts on 
those who know him and those who know him not and 
deserve not his gifts, so bestow ye gifts upon each other.* 
“The profession of the Holy One, blessed be he, is 
charity and loving-kindness, and Abraham, who will 
command his children and his household after him 
‘that they shall keep the way of the Lord’ (Gen. i8 19 ), 
is told by God: ‘Thou hast chosen my profession; 
wherefore thou shaft also become like unto me, an an- 
cient of days.’”® The imitation receives practical 
shape in the following passage: “The members of the 
house of Israel are in duty bound to deal with one 
another mercifully, to do charity (Mizwah), and to 
practise kindness. For the Holy One, blessed be He, 
has only created this world with loving-kindness and 
mercy, and it rests with us to learn from the ways of 
God.” Thus said Rabbi Chama b. Chaninah, “. . . 
Walk in the attributes of God (or rather make his 
attributes the rule for thy conduct). As he clothes 
the naked (Gen. 321), so do thou clothe the naked; 
as he nurses the sick (Gen. 18 1), so do thou nurse the 
sick; as he comforts the mourners (Gen. 2511), so 
do thou comfort the mourners; as he buries the dead 

' Si/rey 85 a. It seems that the Rabbis read in Joel 

* S»E., p. 135. Cf. Mechiltay 59 ® See Gen, R.y 58, 9. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND ^AW OF GOODNESS 203 


(Deut. 34 6), SO do thou bury the dead.” ‘ Again, 
when R. Judah b. Ilai interrupted his lectures in order 
to join the bridal procession, he would address his 
disciples with the words, “My children ! rise and show 
your respect to the bride (by joining the procession), 
for so we find that the Holy One, blessed be he, acted 
as best man to Eve.” ^ Indeed, it is maintained that 
God himself observes the commandments, acting in 
this respect as an example to his children.® The im- 
itation is further extended to mere good manners, in 
which God is also taken as a model. Thus, for 
instance, we are told by the Rabbis : Let man learn 
proper behaviour from the Omnipresent, who, though 
knowing the absence of righteous men from Sodom 
and Gomorrah, did not interrupt Abraham in his in- 
tercession for these cities, but waited until he finished his 
pleading and even took leave before parting with him.* 

It is to be remarked that this God-likeness is con- 

1 Sotahy 14 a. The beginning of the passage is taken from 

the n'rxna 'd According to the Agadic explanations 

Abraham was in an invalid state when God appeared to him in the 
plains of Mamre. The blessing, again, spoken of in Gen. 25 11, which 
took place after the death of Abraham, was meant as a message of 
condolence. 

2 See A, jR. N.j 10 a. The words, “ And he brought unto the man ” 
(Gen. 2 28), are understood by the Rabbis that God took particular care 
to present Eve to Adam in the adorned state of a bride. See Gen, R,, 
* 3 1. 

® See /er. Bikkurim^ 66 r, and Lev, R., 35 8. 

^ See D. E,, ch. 5. I supplemented the passage with the parallel 

in A, R, N,y 56 a, Cf. also Gen. R., 8 8 ; Tan, B., i 28 6 ; and Sukkah^ 

30 a. 



204 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


fined to his manifestations of mercy and righteousness, 
the Rabbis rarely desiring the Jew to take God as a 
model in his attributes of severity and rigid justice, 
though the Bible could have furnished them with 
many instances of this latter kind. Interesting in this 
connection is the way in which the commandment of 
the Imitation was codified by some of the later authori- 
ties: “The Holy One, blessed be He, ordained that 
man should cleave to his ways, as it is written, ‘Thou 
shalt fear the Lord thy God, him shalt thou serve, and 
to him shalt thou cleave’ (Deut. lo i9). But how can 
man cleave to the Shechinah ? Is it not written, 
‘For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, a jealous 
God’? (Deut. 424). But cleave to his ways: as God 
nurses the sick, so do thou nurse the sick, and so 
forth.” ‘ The feature of jealousy is thus quite ignored, 
whilst the attributes of mercy and graciousness become 
man’s law. Indeed, it is distinctly taught that man 
should not imitate God in the following four things, 
which He alone can use as instruments. They are, 
jealousy (Deut. be), revenge (Ps. 94 1), exaltation 
(Exod. 1521, Ps. 931), and acting in devious ways.* 
The prophet Elijah, who said, “I have been very 
jealous for the Lord God of Hosts” (i Kings 19 10), 
and even repeated the denunciation of Israel (ibid. 


^ R. Eliezer of Metz, § 3. See also Maimonides, tt'll'D, 

'n 

2 MHC., p. 549; cf. trnpn ira-in Kpns, ed. Schonblum, § 34 in 
the Five Groups. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 20$ 


V. 14), was, according to the Rabbis, rebuked by God, 
who answered him, “Thou art always jealous,” and 
was removed from his prophetic office, Elisha being 
appointed prophet in his stead.' 

The second or negative aspect of holiness is implied 
in the Hebrew word Kedushah, the original meaning 
of which seems to be “separation” and “withdrawal.” ^ 
So the Rabbis paraphrase the verse, “Sanctify your- 
selves, therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 
II 44), with the words, “As I am separated, so be ye 
separated.” ® By the separateness of God is not 
meant any metaphysical remoteness, but merely aloof- 
ness and withdrawal from things impure and defiling, 
as incompatible with God’s holiness, whence Israel 
should also be removed from everything impure and 
defiling. 

Foremost among the things impure, which range 
very widely, are: idolatry, adultery, and shedding of 
blood. To these three cardinal sins the term Tumah 
(defilement) is especially applied.' The defiling nature 
of the second (including all sexual immorality) is par- 
ticularly dwelt upon in Rabbinic literature. Thus 

1 See S. E. Z., p. 187; and Yalkut\.o Kings^ § 217. Cf. also Cant, 
R.y I 6 ; Agadath Shir Hashirim, p. 45. See also above, p. 52. 

2 See Robertson Smith’s Religion of the Semites ^ p. 140, about the 
uncertainty of the original meaning of the word. 

8 T, K,, SI b. Cf. ibid., 86 r. 

^ See Moreh Nebuchim, 3 47. Maimonides’ explanation was un- 
doubtedly suggested to him by T. K., 81 a (to Lev. 16 le). Cf. below, 
p. 122 seq. See also Sifre, 113 where it is said of the daughters of 
Israel that they are nmnDI 



2o6 some aspects of rabbinic theology 


the Rabbis interpret the verse, “And ye shall be unto 
me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod. 
19 1), with the words, “ Be unto me a kingdom of 
priests, separated from the nations of the world and 
their abominations.” ‘ This passage must be taken 
in connection with another, in which, with allusion to 
the scriptural words, “And ye shall be holy unto me 
. . . and I have severed you from other people that 
you should be mine” (Lev. 2026), the Rabbis point 
to the sexual immorality which divides the heathen 
from Israel.^ In fact, all incontinence was called 
Tumah (impurity), indulgence in which disqualifies 
(or cuts man off from God); God says, “What joy 
can I have in him?” ^ but he who surrounds himself 
with a fence against anything unchaste is called holy,^ 
and he “who shutteth his eyes from seeing evil (in the 
sense of immorality) is worthy of receiving the very 
presence of the Shechinah.” ® 

The notion of impurity is further extended to all 
things stigmatised in the Levitical legislation as un- 
clean, particularly to the forbidden foods “which 


1 Mechilta^ 63 a, A few lines before these is given another explana- 
tion to the words tTllp which was taken by the great master of 
the Agada, Lector Friedmann, to contain a protest against proselytis- 
ing. The text, however, seems to be corrupt, and reads in the MHG., 

D'’:bt33 D'3,13 "x b"n nanbia 'bra D'aba bia' 

♦ttnnp 'w b"n rn oana an 'jai w jaua. cf. MeMita of r- 
Simofiy p. 95. 

2 T, K.y 93 A Cf. Num, R,, 97. * Lev, 26 6. 

® T. A"., 86 d, ® See Lev, R,^ 23, end. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 207 


make the soul abominable,” the command being, 
“ Be holy in your body.” The observance of these 
laws the Rabbis seem to consider as a special privilege 
of Israel, marking the great distinction between them 
and tlic “descendants of Noah,”' whilst in the trans- 
gressioa of them they saw the open door leading to 
idolatry; in a word, to a deeper degree of impurity.* 
The soul is also made abominable — and hence 
impure — according to the Rabbis, by doing anything 
which is calculated to provoke disgust, as, for instance, 
by eating from unclean plates or taking one’s food with 
filthy hands.® In fact, to do anything which might 
have 1 sickening effect upon others is ranked among 
the hidden sins which “ God shall bring into judge- 
ment’ but he who is careful to refrain from things 
filthy ind repulsive brings upon himself a particular 
holiness purifying his soul for the sake of the holy one; 
as it is said, “Ye shall sanctify yourselves.” ® 

1 See Jv,, 30 9, and 319. Cf. Tan. B.y 3 14 6, and see 

also Pseulo-Jonathan to Lev. 207. 

2 This leems to me to be the meaning of the words in D, E, Z.., ch. 

3, ms mitaits nbnn. See t. k., 57 ana dhk n'Kaa dki 

Da KDD'*' DDD1D and cf. the a"aK1. The other explanation given 
there suggests our passage to be a parallel to that quoted in the 
preceding note from the D. E. Z. Perhaps we should read in T. K., 

t"ua sarb ddsid. 

3 See T B. Makkoth, i6 b, and Maimonides, nmOX mbaKD Miabn, 
§ 17, the ast five mabn. 

4 See r. B. Chagigahy 5 the explanation of Rab. to Eccles., 12 14. 
^ Mainonides, ibid. Cf. T, B. Berachothy 53 the last line of the 

page. 



2o8 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Lastly, we have to record here that view which ex- 
tends the notion of impurity to every transgression of 
Biblical law. Every transgression has the effect of 
stupefying the heart,* whilst the observance of the 
laws in the Torah is productive of an additional holi- 
ness.’* According to this view, all the commandments, 
negative and affirmative, have to be considered as so 
many lessons in discipline, which if only as an educa- 
tion in obedience, result in establishing that conraunion 
between man and God which is the crowning reward of 
holiness. Thus the Rabbis say, with allusion to the 
verse, “That ye may remember and do all my com- 
mandments and be holy unto your God” (Num. 
15 40 ), “Heart and eyes are the two middlemen of 
sin in the body, leading him astray. The master is 
to be compared to a man drowning in water, to 
whom the shipmaster threw out a cord, sayinj unto 
him. Hold fast to this cord, for if thou perrmt it to 
escape thee, there is no life for thee. Lkewise, 
the Holy One, blessed be he, said to Israel, ‘As 
long as you cling to my laws, you cleave uito the 
Lord your God (which means life). ... Be holy, 
for as long as you fulfil my commandmerts you 

1 See T. B. Yoma, 39 a, nTsu bKwattr "1 "aT 'jn, etc. 3 y m'a» 
in this passage is meant the transgression of any law. 

2 See Mechilta, 98 a, and T. K., 35 a, and 91 d, mXan Wnp. 
The MHG, also seems to read in T, K, (to Lev. ii 44), 1 ) DniT'lprm 
nitD ntmp; a reading which is confirmed by Maimonides when he 
says (^Moreh Nebuchim, 3 88. 47), * * * DrrtPipmi nbcn" nSX Q:m 
mitD nrnp ttnoo prb. Cf. also his a'n'D, § 4. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 209 


are sanctified, but if you neglect them, you will be- 
come profaned.’”* 

Thus far holiness still moves within the limits of the 
law, the obedience to which sanctifies man, and the 
rebellion against which defiles. There is, however, 
another superior kind of holiness which rises above the 
Law, and which, as already indicated in the opening 
remarks of this chapter, should be more correctly termed 
Chasiduth (saintliness). The characteristic of the 
Chasid, as it is somewhere pointed out, is that he does 
not wait for a distinct commandment. He endeavours 
to be pleasant to his Maker, and like a good son studies 
his father’s will, inferring from the explicit wishes of 
the father the direction in which he is likely to give 
him joy.* Hence the tendency of the Chasid to devote 
himself with more zeal and self-sacrifice to one law or 
group of laws than to others; just according to the 
particular bent of his mind, and the individual con- 
ception of the will of his father. Thus Rab Judah 
perceives the “ things of Chasiduth" in paying particular 
attention to the tractate Nezikin (Damages), including 
the laws regarding the returning of lost goods, pro- 
hibition of usury, etc., and in avoiding anything which 
might result in injury to a fellow-man. Rabba again 
defines Chasiduth as carrying out the prescriptions 
in the tractate of Aboth; a tractate, be it observed, in 
which the ritual element is quite absent, as it is limited 

^ Num. R., 176. See also above, p. i 68 . 

2 See Luzzatto, DnW nb'DIS, ed. Warsaw, p. 24 b. 



210 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


to the moral sayings and spiritual counsels given by 
the ancient Jewish authorities. Another (anonymous) 
author thinks that Chasiduth consists in closely observ- 
ing the laws prescribed in the (liturgical) tractate 
Berachoth (Benedictions), prayer and thanksgiving hav- 
ing been probably the particular passion of this Rabbi.^ 

The principle of Chasiduth is perhaps best summa- 
rised by the Talmudic formula, “Sanctify thyself even 
in that which is permitted to thee.” ^ R. Eliezer, of 
Worms, who takes this saying as the motto to one of his 
chapters on the Regulations of Chasiduth, comments 
upon it to the effect; “Sanctify thyself and thy 
thoughts, reflect upon the unity (of God, and think 
of) whom thou art serving, who (it is that) observes 
thee, who (it is that) knows thy deeds, and who (it 
is) to whom thou wilt return. . . . Hence be (in 
ritual questions) stringent with thyself and lenient 
towards others. . . . The Torah in certain cases made 
concessions to the weakness of the flesh (hence the 
law cannot always be taken as the supreme standard 
of conduct). Take no oath even for the truth. . . . 
Keep thee from every wicked thing (Deut. 23 11), which 
means, among others, not to think even of the things 
impure,” etc.® Impure thinking was, in the Rabbinic 

^ See Baba Kama^ 30 a,, text and commentaries, especially the 
to their corresponding place in the For the ten things of 

the Chasiduth which Rah is said to have observed (mixture of the 
ceremonial and moral) see Sefer Ila-Orah^ ed. Buber, pp. 3 and 4. 

2 See Sifre, 95 a ; T. B, Jebamoth^ 20 a. 

^ See R. Eliezer of Worms, Introduction to the 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 211 


view, the antecedent to impure doing, and the ideal 
saint was as pure of heart as of hand, acting no im- 
purity and thinking none. 

Very expressive is Nachmanides, whose comments 
on the Rabbinic paraphrase of Lev. ii 44, “As I am 
separated so be ye separated,” are to the following 
effect : — 

According to my opinion, by the Talmudic term 
separateness, is not meant the abstaining 
from Arayoth (sexual intercourse forbidden in the 
Bible), but something which gives to those who practise 
it the name of Perushim. The matter (is thus) : The 
Torah has forbidden Arayoth as well as certain kinds 
of food, but allowed intercourse between man and his 
wife as well as the eating of meat and the drinking of 
wine. But even within these limits can the man of 
(degenerate) appetites be drenched in lusts, become a 
drunkard and a glutton, as well as use impure lan- 
guage, since there is no (distinct) prohibition against 
these things in the Torah. A man could thus be the 
worst libertine with the very license of the Torah. 
Therefore the Scriptures, after giving the things for- 
bidden absolutely (in detail), concluded with a general 
law (of holiness), to show that we must also abstain 
from things superfluous. As for instance, that even 
permitted sexual intercourse should be submitted to 
restrictions (of holiness), preserving it against degener- 
ating into mere animal lust ; that the drinking of wine 
should be reduced to a minimum, the Nazir being called 



212 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


holy because he abstains from drink; and that one 
should guard one’s mouth and tongue against being 
defiled by gluttony and vile language. Man should 
indeed endeavour to reach a similar degree of holi- 
ness to R. Chiya, who never uttered an idle word in 
his life. The Scriptures warn us to be clean, pure, and 
separated from the crowd of men who taint themselves 
with luxuries and ugliness.* 

It will be observed that this corrective of the Law 
is not considered by Nachmanides as a new revelation ; 
according to him it is implied in the general scriptural 
rule of holiness, which, of course, considering the 
indefinable nature of holiness, can be extended to any 
length. Nor were the Rabbis conscious of any innova- 
tion in or addition to the Torah when they promul- 
gated the principle of sanctifying oneself by refraining 
from things permitted; a principle which can be and 
was applied both to matters ritual as well as to morals 
and conduct.* As it would seem, they simply looked 
upon it as a mere “ Fence” (Geder) preventing man from 
breaking through the limits drawn by the Torah itself. 
Very instructive in this respect is the conversation which 
the Talmud puts in the mouth of King David and his 
friend Hushai, the Archite. When David was fleeing 
before his rebellious son Absalom, he is reported to have 
been asked by Hushai, “Why hast thou married a cap- 

1 Commentary to the Pentateuch, Lev. 192. 

2 See idid,, where he deducts from it certain stringent 

rules, regarding the dietary laws as well as others bearing on conduct. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 213 

tured woman?” For, according to Rabbinic legend, 
Absalom’s mother Maacah (2 Sam. 3 3 ) was a woman 
taken captive in war. Hushai thus accounted for the 
misfortune which had befallen David by this unhappy 
marriage. But David answered him, “Has not the 
Merciful allowed such a marriage?” (Deut. 21 10-13), 
whereupon Hushai rejoins, “ Why didst thou not study 
the order of the Scriptures in that place?” In other 
words, the fact that the regulations regarding the woman 
taken captive in war are closely followed by the law 
concerning the stubborn and rebellious son (Deut. 21 
18-21), indicates that the Torah, though not absolutely 
forbidding it, did not wholly approve of such a marriage, 
but foretold that its offspring was likely to prove a 
source of misery to his parents. ‘ The corrective of 
the Law, for the neglect of which corrective David is so 
terribly punished, is thus effected, not by something 
antagonistic to or outside of it, but by its own proper 
interpretation and expansion. As another instance of 
this kind I quote the following, which, rendered in the old 
Rabbinic style, would run thus : “ We have heard that 
it is written, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Exod. 20 13 ). We 
should then think that the prohibition is confined to ac- 
tual murder. But there are also other kinds of shedding 
blood, as, for instance, to put a man to shame in public, 
which causes his blood to leave his face. Hence to 
cause this feeling is as bad as murder, whence he who is 
guilty of it loses his share in the world to come.^ Again, 

^ See T. B. Sanhedririy 107 a, 2 gee T, Z, Baha Mezia^ 59 a. 



214 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

we have heard that it is written, ‘ Thou shalt not commit 
adultery’ (Exod. 20 14). But the phrase in Job (24 is), 
‘The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for twilight,’ 
teaches us that an unchaste look is also to be con- 
sidered as adultery; and the verse, ‘And that ye seek 
not after your own heart and your own eyes, after 
which ye used to go a whoring’ (Num. 15 39), teaches 
us that an unchaste look or even an unchaste thought 
are also to be regarded as adultery.” * 

The law of goodness, closely connected with the law 
of holiness, is another corrective of the Law. It 
developed from such general commandments as the one 
in Deuteronomy, “ And thou shalt do that which is right 
and good in the sight of the Lord ” (6 is), which, as 
Nachmanides aptly remarked, means that the Torah 
bids man to direct his mind to do what is good and up- 
right in the sight of God, seeing that God loves goodness 
and uprightness. He proceeds to say, “ This is an 
important point, for it is impossible to refer in the Torah 
to all the relations between man and his neighbours, 
and his friends, his business affairs, and to all the im- 
provements bearing upon one’s community and one’s 

^ See Lev, 23 11. Cf. P. R,, 124/^, text and notes. See also Me- 
chilta of R. Simon, 1 1 1, SbS Wbl ri 73 x“?V ‘ * fflKr Xbw PlSWn x"? K'H 

DD'ru nnxi ddsd*? 'ipix mnn xbi a'nai pia abni I'mcr j'jar 

Cf. also New Testament, Matt. 5 21 and 27. I suspect that the ex- 
pression in the N. T., Ye have heard,’’ had originally something to 
do with the Talmudic formula b"n * ’ • or * * * UCiaiT xb 

b"n * ’ ♦ xbx, or b"n ‘ ’ * uawna (see MechUta, 81 b, 82 b, and 84 a). 
Cf. also below, 224 seq. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 215 


country.” But after the Torah had mentioned many 
such laws in another place (Lev, 19), it repeats in 
a general way that man has to do what is good and 
upright, which includes such things as arbitration (in 
the case of money litigations) and the not insisting 
upon the strict law. It further includes certain laws 
relating to neighbourly considerations as well as to 
kindly behaviour towards one’s fellow-men.* Jerusalem 
indeed was destroyed only because of the sin that they 
insisted upon the law of the Torah, ^ thereby trans- 
gressing the law of goodness. According to others, 
this precept of not insisting upon the law of the Torah, 
and acting in a merciful way, is to be derived from 
Exod. 18 20, where Moses is asked to make Israel 
acquainted both with the Law and with the (merciful) 
actions going beyond the Law.® As a practical illus- 
tration of this law of goodness, we quote here the fol- 
lowing case: Rabba Bar bar Ghana had a litigation 
with carriers who broke (during their work) a cask of 
wine. He then took away their clothes ; whereupon 
they brought to Rab a complaint against him. Rab 

1 See Nachmanides’ commentary to Deut, 6 18 . Cf. Deut. 12 28 and 

14 19. See also Si/re, gi a and 94 a, on these verses. Cf. also Maimon- 
ides, 148, text and commentaries. 

2 Baba Meziah^ 13^* 

^See Mechilta^ 59 b\ Baba Meziahy 30 b\ cf. also Pseudo- Jonathan 
to this verse in Exod., where it is emphasised that this merciful treat- 
ment beyond the law should extend also to the wicked, pi and 
pin nntra correspond often with pH DIJD and 0^^211.1 DID, the 
quality of law or justice and the quality of mercy. See Jer, Baba 
Kamay 6 c. Note the use of these terms of men. 



2 i 6 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

said to him, “ Give them back their clothes.” Rabba 
then asked, “Is this the law?” He said, “Yes (as 
it is said, ‘ Thou mayest walk in the way of the good ’ 
[Prov. 2 20]).” He gave them back their clothes. The 
carriers then said, “ We are poor men and laboured the 
whole day, and now we are hungry and have nothing 
to eat.” Rab then said, “ Pay them their wages.” 
Whereupon Rabba again asked, “Is this the law?” 
He said, “ Yes (as it is said), ‘ And keep the path of 
the righteous’ [Prov. A not less striking 

case is the following: The Roman army once be- 
sieged the town of Lydda, and insisted upon the de- 
livering up of a certain Ula bar Koseheb, threatening 
the defenders with the destruction of the place and 
the massacre of its inhabitants in case of further 
refusal. R. Joshua ben Levi then exerted his in- 
fluence with Ula, that he would voluntarily deliver 
himself to the Romans so that the place might be 
saved. Thereupon, the prophet Elijah, who often 
had communion with R. Joshua ben Levi, stopped his 
visits. After a great deal of penance, which the 
Rabbi imposed upon himself, Elijah came back and 
said, “Am I expected to reveal myself to informers ? ” 
Whereupon the Rabbi asked, “ Have I not acted in 
accordance with the strict letter of the law? ” “ But,” 
retorted Elijah, “ this is not the law of the saints.” * 

^ Baba Meziahy 83 a. See also Rabbinowicz, Variae LectioneSy aJ, 

2 See Jer, Terumothy 46 b, Cf. Schechter, Studies in Judaisniy 
Second Series, pp. 116 seq, and 166 seq. 



LAW OF HOLINESS AND LAW OF GOODNESS 217 

The crowning reward of Kedushah, or rather Chasi- 
duth, is, as already indicated, communion with the 
Holy Spirit, “Chasiduth leading to the Holy Spirit,” 
or, as it is expressed in another place, “Holiness means 
nothing else than prophecy.” ‘ This superior holiness, 
which implies absolute purity both in action and 
thought, and utter withdrawal from things earthly, 
begins, as a later mystic rightly points out, with a 
human effort on the part of man to reach it, and finishes 
with a gift from heaven bestowed upon man by an act 
of grace.^ The Talmud expresses the same thought 
when we read, “If man sanctifies himself a little, they 
(in heaven) sanctify him much ; if man sanctifies him- 
self below (on earth), they bestow upon him (more) 
holiness from above.” ^ “ Everything is in need of 

help (from heaven).” Even the Torah, which is 
called pure and holy, has only this sanctifying effect, 
when man has divested himself from every thought 
of pride, when he has purified himself from any con- 
sideration of gold and silver, when he is indeed quite 
pure from sin.” ® Only Torah with holiness can bring 
about communion with God. Thus runs a prayer, or 
rather prophecy, by an ancient Rabbi: “Learn with 

1 riD irnp rx ■'axJW sbx mrnp j'k anpm mpn nxi, 

Midrash in Ms. Cf. also Monatsschrift, vol. 50, beginning of p. 410, 
given from the Sifre Zuta, 

2 nnip' nb'oa, 36 a, n:nts ibidi mbinirn inbnn * * * ntrnpn p». 

® T, B. Yoma, 39 a. 

^ Midrash to Ps. 20. Cf. Tan. 9. 

® See Mechilta of R, Simotiy 98. Cf. above, p. 160. 



2i8 some aspects of rabbinic theology 

all thy heart and all thy soul to know my ways, and to 
watch the gates of my Torah. Preserve my Torah in 
thy heart, and may ray fear be present before thy eyes. 
Guard thy mouth against all sin, and make thyself 
holy against all sin and injustice, and I will be with 
thee.” ‘ Hence the prayer which so often occurs in 
the Jewish liturgy, “Sanctify us by thy command- 
ments,” for any thought of pride or any worldly con- 
sideration is liable to undo the sanctifying effect of 
the performance of any divine law. 

1 7\ B, Berachothy 17 See also Rabbinowicz, Variae Lectiones, to 

the passage. 



XIV 


SIN AS REBELLION 

The teaching of the Rabbis with regard to the 
doctrines of sin, repentance, and forgiveness is in har- 
mony with their conception of man’s duty towards the 
Law. This duty, as we have seen, is a result of the 
doctrine of God’s Kingship.‘ As a consequence, sin 
and disobedience are conceived as defiance and rebel- 
lion. The root 512^3, used in the confession of the 
High Priest on the Day of Atonement, denoting, accord- 
ing to the Rabbis, the highest degree of sin, is ex- 
plained by them to mean rebellion, illustrating it by 
parallel passages in 2 Kings i 1, 3 4 and i? The gen- 
eration of Enosh, the generation of the deluge, and the 
generation which built the Tower of Babylon are 
described as rebels who transferred the worship of God 
to idols or to man and thus profaned the Holy Name.® 
The same remark is also made of Nimrod, who made 
man rebel against God, and of the people of Sodom 
and Gomorrah. These latter, and the generation of 
Enosh and the generation of the deluge, as well as 
the people of Egypt, are further described as those 

1 See above, p. 1 16. Cf. also Pseudo- Jonathan^ Exod. 34 7 , Lev. 16 21, 
and Num. 14 is. 

2 T, K . , 80 d, Cf. Lev. 1 6 I6 and 21. 

® See T. A'., ill Gen, A., 237 and 264. 

219 



220 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


who caused pains to the Holy One, blessed be he, and 
spited him by their wicked deeds.' As men spiting 
God, reference is also made to certain kings of Judah, 
as Ahaz, Amon, and Jehoiakim.^ In the Halachic 
literature we meet also with the spite apostate, or the 
apostate out of spite, *1X21X5, who commits 

sin, not for the sake of satisfying his appetite, but with 
the purpose of showing his rebellious spirit.® 

Closely connected with rebellion is the porek ol 
(Sis p-11S), that is, he who throws off the yoke of the 
Omnipresent, or of heaven.' The term porek ol is 
differently explained by various Rabbis, meaning 
according to some, the worshipper of idols,® according 
to others, the man who treats the Torah as antiquated 
matter and declares its laws as abrogated.® The 
throwing off of the yoke is classed together with the 
removing of the Covenant made by God with Israel 
on Mount Sinai, ^ and the uncovering of faces,® that is, 

1 Gen, R., 272. Cf. also Sifre, 136 a; Mechilia^ 35 b and 36^7; 
and Num. R,, 9 24. 2 Sanhedriny 103 b, 

® See Horayothy ii a. See also Rabb. Dictionaries. 

^ See Sifrcy 93 <2, and Sanhedriny \\ \ b, 

® See Sifriy 31 by with references to Num. 15 22. 

® See Jer. Peaky 16^, and Jer, Sanhedriuy 27 c. Cf. Friedmann’s 
essay in the Beth Talmudy i 88I-334. 

^ See Jer, Peak and Sanhedfdn as above ; Sifrey 31 b and 33 a. 
According to others, by this Covenant is meant the Covenant of Abra- 
ham ; see Sifrey 31 § m (to Num. 15 22), and the commentary of 

R. Hillel, quoted by Friedmann in his Notes (Note 3). Cf. also in 
Friedmann, Beth Talmudy i, p. 334. 

® See Sifrey ibid, (to Num. 15 si). Cf. Mishnah Abothy 3 I8, and 
A, R. N,y I 41 by text and Note 16 for other parallels. The best Mss. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


221 


the treatment of the words of the Torah irreverently or 
ridiculing them, as Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, did, 
when he preached “ scandalous homilies, asking ‘ Could 
not Moses have written other things than, “And Reuben 
went in the days of the wheat-harvest,” etc. (Gen. 30 14), 
or “And Lotan’s sister was Tirana” (Gen. 36 22)’?”.‘ 
To both these classes, according to some Rabbis, the 
words of the Scriptures refer : “ But the soul that does 
aught presumptuously . . .” or “who hath despised 
the word of the Lord and has broken His Com- 
mandments” (Num. 15 30 and 3 i).* 

have not the words nabna Cf. Bacher, ..4^. 7a«., i i97j Termi- 

nologUi 1 149. See also his Die Bibelexegese Moses Maimonides^ p. 1 6, 
note 4. Cf. also P, R, ch. 44, where this explanation of uncovering 
the faces is used of men in the sense of putting them to shame. 

1 This is the explanation of the Si/ref 33 a (to Num. 15 so) ; cf. /er. 
Peak and Sanhedrin, ibid. Certain Rabbis of a later date think that 
the uncoverer of faces is he who denies revelation (cf. Sanhedrin, 99 d) 
or “ he who transgresses the word of the Torah in public, as the king 
Jehoiakim the king of Judah and his associates,” while in the Bab, 
Sanhedrin, 99 b, the phrase is explained to mean he who despises the 
scholars. Cf. Friedmann, ibid,^ pp. 334 and 335. 

2 Sifre, ibid, Cf. Sanhedrin, 99 b. See also Guttmann, Monats- 
schrift, 42, p. 337 seq. He tries to justify the reading JIDShD 
explaining it to mean the allegoric interpretation of Scriptures, in 
opposition to its literal meaning (especially the legal portions), with 
the intention of abolishing the law. Dr. Guttmann’s explanation re- 
ceives support from the fact that the interpretations of the Rabbis in 
the Sifre in the quoted places are undoubtedly strongly polemical, as 
may be seen from the following passage, forming a comment on Num. 
1522 and 28: “Where is it to be inferred from that he who believes 
in the worship of idols is as much as if he denied the Ten Words (the 
Decalogue) ? , . . Where is it further to be inferred from that it is as 
much as if he would deny all that was commanded to Moses, . . . that 



222 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Another expression suggesting rebellion is “stretch- 
ing the hand into the root.” By this is chiefly meant 
blasphemy and other sins punishable by stoning.' 
Blasphemers are sometimes classified together with 
those who commit sins in secrecy, and act insolently in 
public, and those who are men of strife. They will 
end as Korah and his congregation.^ 

The transgressions of which the most prominent of the 
rebels (especially the generations of the deluge, and 
the people of Sodom and Gomorrah) were guilty are 
the three cardinal sins ® causing contamination and defile- 
ment ' which the Jew is bound to undergo martyrdom 
for rather than commit.® These three things are: — 

Idolatry. — “He who worships idols is called 
‘desolation, abomination, hateful, unclean, and iniqui- 

was commanded to the Prophets, . . . that was commanded to the 
Patriarchs? . . . Thus, the Scripture teaches that he who believes in 
the worship of idols is as much as if he would deny the Ten Words, 
the commandments that Moses was commanded, the commandments 
that the Prophets were commanded, the commandments that the Patri- 
archs were commanded ; and he who denies the worship of idols is as 
much as if he would confess the whole of the Torah.’* 

1 See /er. Sanhedrin, 23 c, 

2 See A, jR. N,, 2 86; /?. E,, ch. 2, and S, E., p. 77. It will be 
seen from these parallel passages that the reading is doubtful. 
Interesting is it that in the S. E. and D, E, E., the various groups of 
heavy sinners include both the heretic, the sectarian, and the apos- 
tate, as well as those who corner wheat, who lend on usury, and 
who gamble. Cf. above, p. 113. 

^ See Gen. A’., 28 8 and 9; 31 e; 32 4 i; 41 27 . Cf. A. E. N. 36 b seq.y 
and Sanhedrin, 107^ and 109^7. 

^ See T. K., Si e, and Num. E., 7, § 10. 

® See Sanhedrin, 74 a. Cf. Graetz’s Geschichie d, Juden, 3, pp. 
156 and 431, 



SIN REBELLION 


223 


tous, and causes five things : the contamination of the 
land, the profanation of the name of God, the removal 
of the Shechinah, the delivering of Israel to the sword, 
and the banishment of them from their land.’” ‘ But 
the three cardinal sins have their appurtenances, of 
which a few will be given here. Thus, pride is another 
form of idolatry, and has the same grave results. 
“ Moses was considered worthy to draw near the thick 
darkness (Exod. 20 21), because of his humility, as it is 
said, ‘The man Moses was very humble’ (Num. 12 3 ). 
The Scriptures teach that he who is humble will as a 
result make the Shechinah dwell with man on earth, 
as it is said, ‘For thus said the high and lofty One 
that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, “ I dwell 
in the high and holy place with him also that is of a 
contrite heart and humble spirit”’”^ (Isa. 5716)* “But 
he who has a proud heart will bring defilement to the 
land and cause to remove the Shechinah, to remove as 
it is said, ‘He who has a proud heart and high looks, 
with him I cannot be together’ (Ps. loi 6).® Again, he 
who is proud of heart is called abomination (Prov. 16 6) 
as the idol is called abomination (Deut. 7 26 ), but as 
idolatry causes the defilement of the land and the re- 
moval of the Shechinah, so does he who is proud of 
heart ” cause the same things.* It is only by forget- 

1 See Si/re, 104 a, text and Note 7. nj'SW pl' 7 'D = n' 3 B “inon. 
Cf. OnkeloSi Deut, 31 : i8. 

2 In the text are given also citations from Isa. 611; 66 2 ; Ps. 51 10. 

^ The Rabbis interpreted it as if they read “ with him,” instead 

of IHK. See Arachin, 1$ b, ^ MechiltUy 72^. 



224 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


ting God that man’s heart can be lifted up by conceit 
(Deut. 8 14 ) d There is no room for the Divine beside 
him, the Holy One saying, “He and I cannot dwell in 
the same place.” ^ Something similar is said of the 
man who is wroth. The very Shechinah is not re- 
spected by a man in a violent temper.® Indeed, he 
sets up the strange god which is in himself which he 
worships.'* 

Adultery. — “All forbidden sexual relations are called 
contamination . . . (Tumah). If you pollute yourself 
by them (God says) you are hewn off (or cut off) from 
me; what joy have I in you? you have incurred 
the penalty of extermination.® As the idolater, the 
adulterer (or even the one who does any action 
which may lead to adultery) is also called desolation, 
abomination, hateful, unclean, and iniquitous.® Again, 
before they sinned, the Shechinah was dwelling with 
every one of Israel, as it is said, “The Lord, thy God 
walketh in the midst of thy camp” (Deut. 23 is), but 
after they sinned (abandoning themselves to immorality), 
the Shechinah was removed, as it is said, “that he see 
no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from this ” 
(Deut. ibid.).’’ The sin of adultery further involves the 
sin of heresy, or that of denying God’s knowledge of the 
secret actions of man. Thus, with reference to Job 24 is, 

1 See Soiahy 4 ^ Shabbathy 105 b, 

2 Sotahy 5 a, Cf. also Berachothy 43 a, ^ T» K.y 86 d. 

® Nedariniy 22 b, ® Sifrcy ll^ b. 

^ See Sotahy 3 ; cf. SifrOy 120 b and 121 a; A, R. N,y i, 58 a. 



SIN /IS REBELLION 


225 


the Rabbis paraphrase it in the following way; “The 
eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, say- 
ing, No Eye (that is, the Eye of the Above) shall see 
me.” ‘ For so the adulterer says, no creature knows 
it. But the eyes of the Holy One, blessed be he, run 
to and fro through the world. . . . Grave is (the case 
of) the adulterer, and that of the thief, both causing 
the removal of the Shechinah. ... Is not the Holy 
One, blessed be he, everywhere? Can any one hide 
himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith 
the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the 
Lord (Jer. 23 24). But the adulterer acts in such a 
way (as if) he said to God, “Remove thyself for a short 
while, and make room for me.” ^ But adultery in- 
cludes every unchaste action or unchaste thought, 
the Biblical prohibitions extending to all kinds of 
unchastity, whether in action or in thought.* 
Heresy is also considered an unclean thought and 
comes also under the heading of the commandment, 
“Then keep thee from every wicked thing” (Deut. 
23 10).^ The Olah (burnt -offering), though belong- 
ing to the voluntary offerings, is declared to have 

1 See Num, R,, 9, i. 

2 Tan. B.y 4 14 by 16 a. Cf. Zach. 4 10 . Cf. also Tan. B.y ibid.y 
I'^b and 14 ay and Nuni. R.y 912 ; where it is maintained that adultery 
means a breach of all the Ten Commandments. The breach with the 
first commandment is proved from Jeremiah 5 12 . 

8 For references, see above, p. 214, note I, to which are to be added 
Sifrey 35 a ; Berachothy 12 b. Cf. Maimonides, t'tt D'^TID. 

^ See Sifrey 120 by and Abodah Zarahy 20 b. 

Q 



226 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the function of atoning for the (sinful) meditations 
of the heart, as it is even said of Job: “And (Job) 
offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of 
them all : for Job said. It may be that my sons have 
sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did 
Job continually” (Job i 5).‘ The uttering of obscene 
words brings distress and death into the world.^ In 
fact, he who uses foul language is included among these 
wicked, of whom it is said, “Behold the day cometh, 
that shall burn as an oven, and . . . shall burn them 
up ” (Mai. 3 19 ), whilst he who indulges in impure 
thought is not admitted into the presence of God.® 

Shedding of Blood also has the effect of contaminat- 
ing the land and removing the Shechinah, besides that 
of leading to the destruction of Israel’s sanctuary.^ 
He who commits murder acts like one who overturns 
the statue of the king, destroys his image, and muti- 
lates his impress (on the coins). “For in the image of 
God made he man” (Gen. ge).® “But he who trans- 
gresses a light commandment will end in violating the 
more heavy one. If he neglected (the injunction of) 
‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Lev. 19 is), 
he will soon transgress the commandment of ‘Thou 

1 See Tan. B.y 3 9 <2. See below, p. 300, note 2. 

^ See Shabbathy 33 

® See Niddahy 13 Cf. English version, Mai. 4 1. Cf. above, pp. 
207 and 214. 

^ T. K,y a \ cf. Shabhathy 33 a. 

^ See MechiltUy 70 b. Cf. Mishnah Sanhedriuy 4 6, and Exod. E,, 
30 16. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


227 


shall not hate thy brother in thine heart’ {ibid., v. n), 
and that of ‘Thou shalt not avenge or bear grudge 
against the children of thy people’ {ibid., v. is), which, 
terminating in acting against ‘And thy brother shall 
live with thee’ {ibid., 2536), will lead to the shedding 
of blood.” ^ In fact, “wanton hatred” is as great a 
sin as idolatry, adultery, and shedding of blood, all 
combined.^ Likewise the sin of slander and back- 
biting is even worse than the three cardinal sins,® for 
man would never make these utterances unless he 
“denied the root ” ^ (the existence of God), and they 
have the effect of removing the Shechinah from the 
world.® 

Again, he who robs his neighbour, even if the goods 
robbed do not amount to more than the value of a 
Perutah, is as much as if he murdered him.® Some 
Rabbis maintain the sin of the generation of the 
deluge to have consisted in robbery (^W), that is, 
the appropriation of wealth by violence and other 
unlawful means. “ Behold,” says Rabbi Jochanan, 
“how terrible are the effects of robbery, for, though 
the generation of the deluge transgressed everything, 
their verdict (of extermination) was not sealed till they 
stretched forth their hands to acquire wealth by un- 

1 See T, K.y io8 b ; cf. D. E,, ch. ii. 2 Yomay 9 
^ M. T.f 52 2. Cf. also ibid.^ 39 1, and Arachin, b, 

Jer. Peah^ 1 6 a. Cf. Af. 7 ’., 522, 

Peak, ibid., and P. K., b, and M. T., 7 7 , 

® Baba Kama, 119 a. Cf. Lev, R,, 22 le. 



228 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


lawful means.” ‘ Again, the prophet Ezekiel in his ex- 
hortation (c. 22 3-12) enumerated twenty-four sins, but 
wound up with the words, “And thou hast greedily 
gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast for- 
gotten me, said the Lord God.” * Nay, God calls 
him “ wicked ” even after he made restitution.® 
Sacrifices brought by the man who is not quite free 
from the sin of robbery are rejected. “If thou dost 
wish to bring an offering, rob no man first, for I, 
the Lord, love judgement, ‘I hate robbery for burnt- 
offering’ (Isa. 6i 8). I shall only accept it when thou 
wilt have cleansed thy hands from plunder.” * Some- 
thing similar is said of charity : Here is a man who 
committed an immoral action, on which he spent his 
money, but he hardly left the place when a poor man 
met him and addressed him for alms. This man 
thinks that God put this poor man in his way with 
the purpose of making him find pardon through the 
alms he gave, but the Holy One, blessed be he, says : 
Wicked man, think not so. The hand which gives 
alms will not cleanse the other from the evil which it 
did by paying the wages of sin.® Indeed, the prayers 
of the man whose hands are tainted by robbery are 
not answered, for his supplication is turbid, being 
under transgression. Therefore man is bound to 


1 Sanhedrin^ io8 a, Cf. Tanhuma Noah, 4. 

^ See Lev, R., 33 s; MUG., p. 143. 

® Yalkut to Ezekiel, § 782, reproduced from Yelamdenu, 
* Tan, B., 37^. ^ See Midrash Prov,, ch, ii. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


229 


cleanse his heart (from every covetousness) before he 
prays, as it is said, “ No robbery in mine hands, and 
my prayer is clean” (pure) (Job 16 17). ‘ 

The wrong administration of justice may also be 
classified under this heading: The Holy One, blessed 
be he, does not cause his divine presence to rest upon 
Israel, until the false judges and bad officers shall 
have disappeared from their midst.^ “When three 
establish a court, the Shechinah is with them,” ® and 
God says to the judges, “Think not that you are alone, 
I am sitting with you,’”* but when they are about to 
corrupt judgement, that is, to give a false verdict, God 
removes his Shechinah from among them, as it is 
said, “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing 
of the needy (caused by injustice), now I will rise 
(to leave the Court), saith the Lord.” ® The same 
thought is expressed elsewhere as follows: “When the 
judge sitteth and delivereth just judgement, the Holy 
One, blessed be he, leaves — if it were possible to say 
so — the heaven of heavens and makes his Shechinah 
dwell on his side, as it is said, ‘ And when the Lord was 
with the judge’ (Judg. 2 is), but when he sees that the 
judge is a respecter of persons, he removes his Shechi- 
nah, and returns to heaven. And the angels say unto 
him, ‘Master of the world, what hast thou done?’ 
(what is the reason for this removal), and he answers, 
‘I have found that the judge is a respecter of persons, 

1 See Gen» 22 8. 2 Shabbath, 139^. 

® See Berachothy 6 a, ^ M, T,, 82 1. ^ M, T.y 12 2. 



230 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


and I rose from there.’ ” ‘ For, the respecters of 
persons are men “who have thrown off the yoke of 
heaven and loaded themselves with the yoke of men.” * 
But it is written, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in 
judgement, in meteyard,” etc. (Lev. 19 35), which 
teaches “that he who is occupied in measuring, weigh- 
ing, performs the function of judge, but if he gave false 
measure, he is called iniquitous, etc., . . . and causes 
the Shechinah to be removed from the earth.” * Israel, 
indeed, was brought out of the land of Egypt, on the 
condition that they accept the fulfilment of the com- 
mandment relating to just measure, and he who denies 
this commandment “denies also the exodus from 
Egypt” (that is, God’s special relation to Israel in 
history).^ 

Something similar is remarked of usury. The 
Rabbinic interpretation is in reference to the com- 
mandment; “Thou shalt not give him thy money 
upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I 
am the Lord your God which brought you out of the 
land of Egypt ” (Lev. 25 37 - 38 ). Whereupon, the Rabbis 
from the proximity of the two verses infer, “That he 
who receives upon himself the yoke of the command- 
ment of usury receives upon himself the yoke of heaven, 
and he who removes the yoke of the commandment of 
usury removes from himself the yoke of heaven.” And 
they then proceed to comment on the latter verse: 


1 See Exod. E., 30 24. 
* Sotah, 47 b. 


» T. K., 91 a. 
* T. K., ibid. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


231 


“Upon that condition I brought you forth out of the 
land of Egypt ‘ that you will receive upon yourselves the 
commandment regarding usury.’ Because he who con- 
fesses this commandment acknowledges the fact of the 
exodus from Egypt, and he who denies it denies also 
the fact of the exodus from Egypt.” ’ It is evident 
from this interpretation of the Scriptures that the 
Rabbis thought that each Mizwah, that is, the fulfil- 
ment of a commandment, had also a certain doctrinal 
value, bearing evidence to God’s relation to man in 
general and his historic relation to Israel in par- 
ticular. 

The act of lending upon usury, which is also said 
to weigh as heavily as murder,^ was, as it seems, con- 
sidered as containing also an ironic implication directed 
by the man of affairs against the man of religion. He 
thereby declares Moses untrue and his Law false, 
saying, “If Moses would have known that there was 
so much profit in it, he would never have written it.” * 
Hence to witness a bill in which interest of money is 
promised, is as much as to give evidence that the lender 
has denied the God of Israel.* It is probably for the 
same reason that the Rabbis say in another place, 
“ Be careful not to be unmerciful, because he who keeps 
back his compassion from his neighbour is to be com- 
pared to the idolater and to the one who throws off the 

^ T, K,y 109 c. Cf. Exod., 20 2. 

2 See Baba Mezia, 60 b. ® See Baba Mezia^ 75 b, 

^ Baba Mezia^ a. See also Rashi to that passage. 



232 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

yoke of heaven from himself,” ‘ since he could not 
act cruelly without considering the laws commending 
charity and charitableness impracticable, and devoid 
of all divine authority. Indeed, the notion is that 
no man betrays the confidence put in him by his 
neighbour until he has first denied the root (God) ; 
that no man engages in sin until he has first denied 
him who forbade it.^ 

The three cardinal sins, as well as blasphemy and 
slander, are called the evil things.® An impure thought 
is also described as evil.^ All of these cause separation 
between man and God (as it is said), “Neither shall 
the evil dwell with thee” (Ps. 56). The scoffers, the 
liars, the hypocrites, are also excluded from the Divine 
Presence.® Every deed, again, implying a certain dis- 
respect for those who deserve to be honoured on the 
ground of their being the teachers of Israel, as well as 
the showing impatience with the performance of re- 
ligious actions, have the effect of the divine presence 
being removed from Israel.® This punishment of 
separation, as it would seem, is extended to sin in 
general. “ Blessed be the man,” says a Jewish teacher, 
“ who is free from transgression, and possesses no sin 
or fault, but is devoted to good actions, to the study 
of the Torah, is low of knee (meek) and humble. 

1 Sifre, 98 b. ^ See Tosephta Shebuoth, 4 go. Cf. T. K.y 2*] d, 

* Sifrey 120 b. ^ See Niddahy 13 

® Sanhedrirtf 103 a. See also above, p. 33 seq, 

® Berachothy i’] b and 5 b. 



SIN .45 REBELLION 


233 


The Holy One, blessed be he, says this is the man who 
dwells in heaven with him” (Isa. 57 15 ). The wise 
man said, “Thy deeds will bring thee near, and thy 
deeds will remove thee.” How is this ? If a man per- 
formed ugly deeds and unworthy actions, his deeds 
removed him from the Shechinah, as it is said, “But 
your iniquities have separated between you and your 
God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he 
will not hear” (Isa. 592).* 

From the preceding remarks it is clear that sin is 
conceived as an act of rebellion, denying the root, 
that is the existence of God, or his providence, or his 
authority, indeed, excluding him from the world. This 
extends also, as we have seen, to a sinful thought, in 
fact from the moment that a man thinks of sin it is as 
much as if he would commit treason against God.* It 
is also described as contamination and contaminating. 
The favourite expression for sin of the Seder Elijah is 
“ ugly things and ugly ways.” ® This term is occasionally 
used also by older Rabbis. “ Remove thyself,” said “ the 
wise men,” in speaking of sin, “from ugliness and 
from that which is like ugliness.” ^ Another similar 
expression is “dirt.” Thus, Abraham is commanded 
to leave the land of his birth which is “dirtied” by 
idolatry.® The man, again, whose hands are “dirtied” 

1 S. p. 104, See above, p. 33. 

2 Sifre Ztita, as communicated by Num. E. 8 6. Cf. also Yalkut 

to Pent § 701. 8 See P'riedmann’s Introduction, ch. 10 (p. 105). 

^ Chulliity 44 A. R, JV.y ^ a\, text and note 22. 

^ MHG.f p. 201, See also Aruch ' Completum^ s.v. 



234 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

by robbery is bidden not to pray, or is warned that his 
prayers will be of no avail/ In another passage, the 
Rabbis speak of the effect of the Day of Atonement, 
which is to purify Israel who are “dirty” by sin, through- 
out the whole year/ The verse in Proverbs, “As a 
jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman 
which is without discretion” (ii 22) is illustrated by the 
Rabbis, “ If thou puttest a vessel of gold into the nose of 
a swine, he will ‘dirty’ it with mire and refuse;” so 
is the student of the Torah if he abandon himself to 
immorality, he makes his Torah “dirty.”* More 
frequent, we have the term of putrefaction and offensive 
smell, in connection with sin. The sin of the golden 
calf is described as a putrefaction. Song of Songs 1 12, 
is paraphrased in the Targum as follows: “And whilst 
their master Moses was still in heaven to receive the 
two tablets of stone, and the Torah, and the Command- 
ments, there arose the wicked men of that generation 
and made a calf of gold. . . . And their deeds became 
putrefied, and their evil fame spread in the world.” * 
The expression seems especially connected with rebellion 
and disobedience. Thus, the parable of a later Rabbi 
who began a sermon with the words, “And it came to 
pass, when the flock gave an offensive smell and obeyed 
not the words of its master, they hated the shep- 

1 Exod, 22 8. 

2 See M, T,, 156. The right reading is from Yalkut Machiriy 42 b. 
See also Tan. nblP 3 , 28. 

® Yalkut to Prov.y § 1 4. 


4 Targutriy Song of Songs, i 12. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


235 


herds and the good leaders, and went away far from 
them.” ‘ 

Sin is thus a symptom of corruption and decay in the 
spiritual condition of man. He who committed a 
transgression is as one who was defiled by touching the 
corpse of a dead man.* The thoroughly wicked man 
is therefore even in life considered as dead.® Nay, the 
sin becomes also a part of himself and clings to him 
and appears with him together on the Day of Judge- 
ment.'* The presence of the man of sin has, so to speak, 
a sickening and offensive effect upon everything pure 
and holy, so that he has to be removed from its neigh- 
bourhood. With reference to the scriptural words, 
“Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my 
judgements, and do them : that the land, whither I bring 
you to dwell therein, spew you not out” (Lev. 20 22), 
the Rabbis remark, “The land of Israel (by reason of 
its holiness) is not as the rest of the world. It cannot 
tolerate men of transgression. It is to be compared 
to the son of a King, whom they made to eat food 
that was coarse (that is, indigestible), which he is com- 
pelled (by reason of his delicate constitution) to vomit 
out.” ® The voice of God, which gave Adam delight and 
enjoyment, became a terror to him,® whilst he lost also 
his power over the lower creation which before his 

^ P, 12S b, Cf. also A ruck Completimi^ s.v. )T1D, 

2 M. 7 "., 5 1 2. 4 Sotah, 3 b. 

^ Berachothf i8 ^ and b, ^ T. K.y 93 a. 

® K.y 44 b^ and P, 68 ^ ; see notes for parallels. 



236 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

sin stood in awe and fear of him. His very stature 
was diminished, and instead of longing after, he 
feared the nearness of the Divine Presence. ‘ His face, 
originally bearing the image of God, became disfigured 
and hateful.* Before Israel sinned (by worshipping the 
golden calf) their eyes saw the glory of God which was 
surrounded by (seven) walls of fire, and they feared 
not, as it is said, “And the sight of the glory of the 
Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the Mount 
in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Exod. 2417); 
but after they sinned they could not even bear to look 
at the face of the middleman (Moses), as it is said, 
“And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw 
Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they 
were afraid to come nigh him” (Exod. 34 so).® 

As in the Bible, sin is described in Rabbinic litera- 
ture also as folly. The Rabbinic expression tTSlO, fool, 
like the Biblical term has the original meaning of 

being fleshy and fat. They who know not God are 
“fools.” * By the act of sinning, man becomes 
a fool,^ whilst the neglect of the Torah was the cause of 
Israel’s becoming stupid and fools.® But more frequent 
is the expression of fools, or mifity, folly. Thus, 

we read, “he whose heart is arrogant in decision is a 
fool (niDlir), a wicked man and puffed up in spirit.” * 

1 F. K, and P, R,, ibid. See also Eccles. R., 8 l, 

2 P, K.y 37 ; P. R., 62 a ; and R., 1 1 2. 

® P. K. and P. R., ibid. * See Agadath Shir Hashirinty p. 90. 

® See Targum to i Kings 8 47. 

® Sifrcy 132 b. ^ Abothy 4 11, 



SIN AS REBELLION 


237 


Again, a discussion as to God’s suffering the sin of 
idolatry, considering that he could easily destroy the 
objects of the heathen’s worship, the Rabbis answered, 
“Shall God cause his world to perish because of the 
fools (D'DItT), who worship also the sun and the 
moon?” ‘ The sin of idolatry is also described as folly. 
The word D'tOlZ? in Num. 25 1 is held to indicate that Israel 
abandoned themselves there to folly But it 

must be remarked that the word ntOUT, or miOtr, im- 
plies also madness. “No man,” the Rabbis say, “would 
ever commit a sin but for the fact that there came unto 
him a spirit of miflir,” ® whilst in another place we 
read that no man abandons himself to immorality if 
he were in his right sense.'* Similarly, it is said of the 
suspected woman, that her fall could only be explained 
as the effect of madness.® 

The effects of sin extend even further. It has, 
apparently, a blighting influence upon the world, under 
which even the righteous suffer. The light which the 
Holy One, blessed be he, created on the first day was 
such that a man could see from one end of the world 
to the other, but it was concealed because of the sin 
of Adam; according to others, because of the future 
corrupt actions of the men of the deluge and of the men 
of the Tower of Babel.* Moses, who before Israel 

1 Aboaak Zarah, 54 b, ® Sotah, 3 

2 Bechorothy 5 b ; Num. R.y 20 22. ^ Num. R.y 9 e. 

® Num. R.f ibid., reading in Num. 5 12 instead of “she 

went mad.” ® Gen, R,, 1 1 2, and R. R., 107 a. 



238 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

sinned could not be approached even by the archangels 
Michael and Gabriel, is after that in fear of the angels 
of destruction, Anger and Wrathd Hillel and Samuel 
Hakaton were both worthy that the divine presence 
should rest upon them, but they were deprived of this 
gift because of the unworthincss of the generations in 
which they lived.^ In another passage we read that it 
is sin which made Israel deaf so that they could not 
hear the words of the Torah, and blind so that they 
could not see the glory of the Shechinah.® The exodus 
from Babel (in the time of Ezra) was of such importance 
that such miracles could have been performed for it as 
at the exodus from Egypt, but sin made such a mani- 
festation of the divine power impossible.'* 

More emphatically this doctrine is taught in the 
following words: “He who committed one sin, woe 
is unto him, for he inclined the balance both with re- 
gard to himself and with regard to the whole world 
toward the side of guilt,” as it is said, “But one 
sinner destroys much good” (Eccles. 9 is). Thus 
by a single sin which man committed he deprived 
himself and the world from much good.® But the 
most bitter result of sin is that they (the sinners) are, 
as the Rabbis express it, “weakening the Power of 
the Above”; that is, that they prevent the channels of 

1 P. K., 45 a and 45 ^ ; P. R., 69 a. * Ag. Ber., ch. 69. 

* Sotah, 48 b. * Berachoth, 4 a. 

® Tosephta Kiddushin, I ; Cf. also Eccles, R., 10 1. See also above, 

p. 191. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


239 


grace to flow so freely and fully as intended by the 
Merciful Father. “As often,” says God, “I desired 
to do good unto you, you weaken the power from 
above by your sins. . . . You stood at Mount Sinai 
and said, ‘ all that the Lord hath said we will do and be 
obedient ’ (Exod. 24 7), and I desired to do you good, but 
you altered your conduct and said to the golden calf, 
‘ These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee 
out of the land of Egypt’ (Exod. 32 8), and thus weak- 
ened the Power.” ‘ In another place, the same thought 
is expressed in somewhat different language. When 
Israel accomplishes the will of God, they add Power to 
Might (ITTlSJ), as it is said, “And now let the power 
of the Lord increase” (Num. 14 17). According to 
another Rabbi, this is to be inferred from Ps. 60 14 , 
which he translates, “In God we shall make our 
power.” * If they act against the will of God (one 
might almost apply to them), “And they are gone 
without Power” (Lam. i e). 

It is in harmony with this conception that the Rabbis 
exclaim. Woe unto the wicked who turn the attribute 
of mercy into that of strict judgement ! for everywhere 
the Tetragrammaton is used it implies the attribute of 
mercy (as we can learn from Exod. 34 6, “ The Lord, 
the Lord God, merciful and gracious”); but Ihe same 
name of God is used in connection with the destruction 
of the men of the generation of the deluge, where we 

1 Sifre^ 136 3 and 137 a, 

2 P, 166 b. See also above, p. 34. 



240 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

read, “ And God saw the wickedness of man was great 
in the earth” (Gen. 6 6).‘ In another place we read, 
“This is what Isaiah said, ‘A sinful nation . . . they 
have forsaken the Lord’ (Isa. i 4), they have made me 
forsake myself; I am called the ‘merciful and gra- 
cious,’ but through your sins I have been made cruel 
and I have converted my attribute (of mercy) into 
that of strict judgement ; as it is said, ‘ The Lord was an 
enemy’ (Lam. 2 6); and so he says also in another 
place, ‘But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit; 
therefore he was turned to be their enemy’” (Is. 63 10).* 

It is further to be remarked that this abhorrence of 
sin is not entirely confined to sins committed wilfully. 
It extends also to sins committed unintentionally, as it 
is said, “Also that the soul be without knowledge is not 
good, and he who is hasty with his feet sinneth” 
(Prov. 19 2). Again, with reference to Eccles. 12 14 , 
“ For God shall bring every work into judgement, with 
every secret thing, whether it be good or it be evil,” 
a Rabbi exclaimed in tears, “ What hope is there for 
a slave whose master reckons unto him the uninten- 
tional sins as the intentional? 

They took it as a sign of carelessness, which might have 
more serious consequences. “Men,” they say, “need 
not feel distressed on account of an unintentional sin, 

1 Gm. A*., 33 8. 

2 Tan. B.y 3 66 a. Cf. Yalkut Machiri to Isaiah, p. 7. 

® Tan. B., 38^. Cf. Chagigah 5 a. The Rabbis interpret the 
word in Eccles. 12 14 , that the sin was concealed even from the 
man who committed it. 



SIN AS REBELLION 


241 


except for the reason that a door to sin is thus opened 
to them, leading both to more unintentional and even 
intentional sins.” ' They even expressed their Avonder 
that a soul coming from a place of righteousness, free 
from sin and transgression, shall sin through ignorance. 
“The soul,” they say, “is the child coming from the 
palace above,” knowing all the etiquette of the court, 
therefore sin should be impossible to it, and if it 
does sin even through ignorance, it is also considered 
a transgression.^ The same thought takes a deeper 
aspect with the mystics. Thus Nachmanides, in allud- 
ing to Lev. 42, “If a soul shall sin through igno- 
rance,” remarks, “ Since thought concerns only the soul, 
and it is the soul which is ignorant, the Scripture men- 
tioned Soul here (in contradistinction to Lev. i 2, 
where it speaks of Man), and the reason for bringing 
a sacrifice for the ignorant soul is because all sin leaves 
a taint in her, causing her to have a blemish, and she 
will not be worthy to face the Presence of the Maker, 
but when she is free from all sin.” ® The later mystics 
dwell on this thought at great length: the soul, they 
say, is an actual part of the divine, as it is said, “ For 
the Lord’s portion, is his people” (which they interpret 
to mean that his people are a portion of the Lord). 
Every sin, therefore, taints the divine in man, breaking 
all communion with heaven.'* 

1 Tan, ibid, 2 Xan, B,^ 3 4 and b, 

^ Nachmanides, Commentary to the Pentateuch, 

* See Reshith Chochniah^ Section UK"!*’, 9 and 10. 

R 



XV 


THE EVIL YEZER: THE SOURCE OF 
REBELLION 

Sin being generally conceived as rebellion against 
the majesty of God, we have now to inquire after the 
source or instigator of this rebellion. In Rabbinic 
literature this influence is termed the 5“in “Ilf {Yezer 
Hara). This is usually translated “evil imagination,” 
but the term is so obscure and so variously used as 
almost to defy any real definition.^ 

The term “Ilf was probably suggested by Gen. 
6 6 and ibid. 8 21, where the noun "Ilf is followed by 
the predicate 51 , evil. Deut. 31 21 is also another case 
in point. After predicting that Israel will turn to strange 
gods and worship them, and provoke God to break 
his covenant, the Scriptures proceed to* say : “ For I 
know his Yezer 0 ‘^llk'’),” etc. It is thus the Yezer gen- 
erally which is represented as something unreliable, 
and made responsible for Israel’s apostasy. And it is 
in accordance with this notion that Pseudo- Jonathan 
renders it “their Evil Yezer j' though the Hebrew 
original has not the word V'l in this place. A par- 
allel to this we have in Ps. 103 14 , “For he knows our 

1 See on this subject Dr. F. C. Porter’s article, The Ye^er Hara^ in 
Yale Biblical and Semitic Studies, 1901, pp. 91-156. 

242 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


243 


Yezer,” which the Targum renders, “the Evil Yezer 
that causes to sin.” ‘ i Chron. 28 9 and 29 is, in which 
the expression “iJt’’ occurs, are generally under- 

stood to mean simply imagination, or desire, whatever 
the nature of this desire may be, good or evil. But it is 
to be remarked that the word nonb in 28 9 is explained 
by some Rabbis to mean two hearts and two Yezers: 
the bad heart with the Evil Yezer, the good heart with 
the Good Yezer? 

The more conspicuous figure of the two Yezers is that 
of the Evil Yezer, the Indeed, it is not im- 

possible that the expression Good Yezer, as the antithesis 
of the Evil Yezer, is a creation of a later date.® 

The names applied to the Evil Yezer are various and 
indicative both of his nature and his function. R. 
Avira, according to others R. Joshua b. Levi, said: 
“The Evil Yezer has seven names. The Holy 
One, blessed be he, called him Evil (Gen. 8 21); 
Moses called him uncircumcised (Deut. 10 le) ; David 
called him unclean (Ps. 51 12); Solomon called him 
fiend (or enemy) (Prov. 1531); Isaiah called him 
stumbling-block (Isa. 57 w) ; Ezekiel called him stone 


^ See, however, English versions to this verse and Baethgen in his 
commentary to the Ps., idid, 

2 See Af, T.f 141. Cf. notes for another reading : ** These are 
two hearts : the Good Yezer and the Evil Yezerl' See also below, 
255, note 2, and 257, note 2. 

^ See, however, Aiishnah Berachotky 95; Sifre, 73 <2; A. B. N., 
47 a ; Berachothy 6l b ; where it is clear that the Tannaim were already 
acquainted with this expression. 



244 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

(Ezek. 3626); Joel called him the hiddenrone CilSlt) in 
the heart of man (Joel 2 20).‘ 

Other names applied to this Yeser are: the foolish 
old king who accompanies man from his earliest youth 
to his old age, and to whom all the organs of man 
show obedience ; ^ the spoiler who spares none, bring- 
ing man to fall even at the advanced age of seventy or 
eighty ; ® and the malady.* He is also called the strange 
god, to obey whom is as much as to worship idols, and 
against whom Scripture warns, “There shall be no 
strange god in thee” (Ps. 81 10), whilst the words, 
“Neither shalt thou prostrate thyself before a strange 
god” (Ps., ibid.), are taken to mean “appoint not the 
strange god to rule over thee.” ® 

The activity of the Evil Yezer is summed up by 
R. Simon b. Lakish, who said, “Satan and Yezer and 
the Angel of Death are one,” ® which view is confirmed 

1 Sukkahf 52^. Cf. also the nSIH by Honvitz, p. 55, where 

Ezekiel is cited before Isaiah, thus agreeing with the ancient order of 
the Prophets given in Baba Bathra, 14 It has also the additional 
words to “Zephoni” : VJB flK IKnabs pBS KiniT Unn -\T rit (“The 
Evil Yezer who is hidden when disguising his face’’). With reference 
to the name sione^ see Gen, R,y 89 1, where it would seem the Evil Yezer 
is (with allusion to Job 28 a) identified with “ the stone of darkness 
and the shadow of death.” 

2 See Eccles. A’., 4 is, and M, T,, 9 6 and ref. 

8 See P, K,y 80 b ; Gen, P,, 54 1 ; M. 7 *., 34 2. 

4 See Lev. A., 167. 

® See Jer. Nedarinty 41 by and Shabbathy 105 a, 

® Baba Bathray 16 a. See Targum to Zechariahy ch. 3, where 
Satan is rendered with 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


by the statement of an earlier anonymous Tannaitic 
authority: “He cometh down and leadeth astray; he 
goeth up and worketh up wrath (accuses) ; he cometh 
down and taketh away the soul.” ‘ His r61e as accuser 
is described in another place with the words, “The Evil 
Yezer persuades man (to sin) in this world, and bears 
witness against him in the future world;” ^ whilst his 
function as Angel of Death is expressed in the words, 
“He accustoms (or entices) man to sin and kills him.” ® 
Some modification of this thought we may perceive in 
another statement of R. Simon b. Lakish, who says, 
“The Yezer of man assaults him every day, endeavour- 
ing to kill him, and if God would not support him, 
man could not resist him; as it is said, ‘The wicked 
watcheth the righteous and seeketh to slay him’ 
(Ps. 37 32).” ^ 

The identification of the Evil Yezer with the Angel 
of Death is sometimes modified in the sense of the 
former being the cause of death consequent upon sin 
rather than of his performing the office of the execu- 
tioner. This is the impression, at least, one receives 
from such a passage in the Mishnah as the following: 
“The evil eye (envy), the Evil Yezer, and the hatred 
of one’s fellow-creatures put man out of the world.” ® 
According to an ancient paraphrase of this passage, the 
r61e of the Evil Yezer who accosts man from the very 
moment of his birth, is of a passive nature, neglecting 

1 Baba Bathra^ ibid, 2 Sukkakj ^2 b, ® Exod, R,<, 30 18 . 

* Sukkahf 52 3 . Cf. also Kiddnshin, 30 b, ® Aboik, 2 16 . 



246 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

to warn him against the dangers following upon the 
committing of such sins as profaning the Sabbath, 
the shedding of blood, and the abandoning of oneself 
to immorality.^ A close parallel to the passage quoted 
above, likewise found in the Mishnah, is the following 
saying, in which the same expression is used with 
regard to the consequence of sin. It reads: “Envy, 
lust, and conceit put man out of this world.” * 
“Lust” here apparently corresponds to Evil Yezer, 
and as the context shows, can only mean that it is the 
cause of death. In another place, these three evil im- 
pulses are said to have incited the serpent to his in- 
vidious conversation with Eve, resulting in her trans- 
gressing the first commandment given to man and 
finally in death.* The identification in the Zohar of 
Samael with the Evil Yezer is probably in some way 
connected with the given Rabbinic passages,^ since in 
another place the tempting serpent is said to have been 
Samael in disguise, originally a holy angel, but who 
through his jealousy of man, determined to bring 
about the latter’s fall.® 

The Evil Yezer is also credited with inflicting other 
kinds of punishment upon man besides death, as, for 
instance, in the story of the Men of the Great Assembly 
in their effort to destroy the Yezer. When, perceiving 

^ A, R. JV,, 31 ^ A both, 4 28 . Cf. Aboth, 3 u. 

8 See P. R. E., ch. 13. 

^ See Zohar ^ Gen. 41 a. On page 248, ibid..^ the Evil is identi- 
fied with the Angel of Destruction 

8 See P, R, E,y ibid,, and Pseudo-Jon., Gen. 3 6. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


247 


the Evil Yezer, they exclaimed: “Here is the one who 
has destroyed the sanctuary, burned the Temple, mur- 
dered our saints, and driven Israel from their country.” * 

But it must be noted that in other places it is sin 
itself that causes death. “See, my children,” said the 
saint R. Chaninah b. Dosa to his disciples, “it is not 
the ferocious ass that kills, it is sin that kills.” * Again, 
with allusion to Prov. 5 22, the Rabbis teach, “As man 
throws out a net whereby he catches the fish of the sea, 
so the sins of man become the means of entangling 
and catching the sinner.” * It must be further noticed 
that both the function of the accuser and witness are 
sometimes ascribed to God himself: “He is God, he 
is the Maker, he is the Discerner, he is the Judge, 
he is the Witness, he is the Complainant.” * Again, 
with allusion to Mai. 3 6, an ancient Rabbi re- 
marked, “What chances are there for a slave whose 
master brings him to judgement and is eager to bear 
witness against him?” ® In another passage, the func- 
tion of bearing witness is ascribed to the two angels 
accompanying man through life, whilst others think 
that it is the soul of man or his limbs that give evi- 
dence. Nay, the very stones of man’s abode and the 
beams in it cry out against man and accuse him, as it 
is said, “For the stones shall cry out of the wall and 
the beam out of the timber shall answer it” (Hab. 2 11).* 

1 Yoma, 69 d. ^ Aboiky 4 29. 

2 Berachoth^ 33 a. * Chagigah^ 5 Cf. P, 164 b, 

® Midraskj Prov., ch. 5. ® Chagigah, 16 'a. 



248 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Neither the function of bearing witness against man 
and accusing him, nor that of executing the judgement, 
can thus be exclusively ascribed to the Evil Yezer, 
His main activity consists in seducing and tempting. 
His ways are of the insinuating kind, appearing first 
to the man as a modest traveller then as a wel- 

come guest (miK), and ending in exacting obedience 
as the master of the house He shows himself 

also more as an effeminate being with no capacity for 
doing harm, but afterwards overwhelms with masculine 
strength.^ The snares in which the Evil Yezer en- 
tangles man are at first sight as insignificant and 
vain as the thin thread of the cobweb, but take soon 
the dimensions of the rope, making it impossible for 
man to free himself from it.® In another place this 
treachery of the Evil Yezer is compared with that 
of the dogs in the city of Rome: they lie down be- 
fore a baker’s shop and simulate sleep; but when the 
baker in his security allows himself to take a nap, they 
quickly jump up, snatch away a loaf, and carry it 
away. The Evil Yezer deals with man in the same 
way, feigning weakness and helplessness, but as soon 
as man is off his guard, he jumps on him and makes 
him sin.^ 

The man who is most exposed to the allurements of 

^ Sukkah, $2 a. Cf. Gen, R., 22 6. 2 ibid, 

® See Sukkahf ibid.; Sanhedrin, 99 b, Cf. Gen, R., ibid, and Rabb. 
Dictionaries, s.v. Si/re, 33 a, this simile is made of sin itself. 

* See Gen. R,, 22 6. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


249 


the Evil Yezer is the vain one. “ Yezer" the Rabbis 
say, “does not walk in retired places. He resorts to 
the middle of the highroads. When he sees a man 
dyeing his eyebrows, dressing his hair, lifting his heels, 
he says, ‘That is my man!’”* Again, when Simon 
the Just asked a Nazarite of stately appearance, 
beautiful eyes, and curly hair, “My son, why didst 
thou choose to have thy beautiful hair destroyed?” 
(the Nazarite having, according to Num. 6 I8, to have 
his hair shaved when the days of his separation are 
fulfilled), he answered, “I acted as father’s shepherd 
in my town. Once, I went to fill the casket from the 
well; but when I saw the image reflected in the water, 
my Yezer grew upon me and sought to turn me out 
from the world. Then I said to him, ‘Thou wicked 
one! why dost thou pride thyself with a world which 
is not thine; thou, whose destiny is to become worm 
and maggots? I take an oath that I will have thee 
shaved in the service of heaven!”’^ It is interesting 
to notice in passing that this instantaneous resistance 
to the Evil Yezer is also recommended in another place. 
“He that spoils his Yezer by tender and considerate 
treatment (that is, allows him slowly to gain dominion 
over himself without rebuking him) will end in becom- 
ing his slave.” ® 

1 Gen. R., 22 o. Cf. MHG., p. 119, reading DDODtt for WtSUraO. 
Cf. also ZohaTy i 190 (Gen. 39 12), where the vanity of fine clothes is 
added. 

2 Sifre, 9 b ; Nedarim, 9 b ; Num, R,, 10 7 and references. Cf. 

also YomUy 35 b. ® Gen, R,, ibid, Cf. Rashi to Prov. 29 21. 



250 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

The two great passions which the Yezer plays most 
upon are the passions of idolatry and adultery. The 
latter is called the n'T’SST the passion of sin ; just 
as mstii in many places means charity, so does 
in a large number of passages refer to immorality.' The 
passion of idolatry, though once more general and 
more deeply rooted in the nature of man than any other 
passion, is stated, however, to have already disappeared 
from the world through the work of the Men of the 
Great Assembly who prayed for its extinction.* 

Of the two passions, it is pointed out that the passion 
of idolatry was (once) even stronger than that of 
adultery; the former having such a power over man 
as to induce him to have his sons and daughters sacri- 
ficed to idols. It knows no shame, performing its 
office both in public and in private, and sparing no 
class of society, enlisting in its service both small and 
great, old and young, men and women.* It is worth 
noting that the desire for acquiring wealth is not 
counted by the Rabbis among the grand passions, 
though it is stated in another place that it is the sin of 
dishonesty in money transactions under which the 
great majority of mankind is labouring. It is there 
further remarked that the sin of immorality involves 
only the minority, whilst none escape the sin of slander- 

^See Levy’s Rabb. Dictionary, s,v, 

2 See Yornay 69 b. See also Midrash Cant,, 7 8. Cf. also Jer, Abo- 
dah Zarahy 40 c, 

® MHG,y p. 1 20. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


251 


ing, or at least of invidious talk against their neighbours.* 
Scepticism is another means by which the Evil Yezer 
reaches man. Sometimes he questions the nature of 
the Deity, ascribing to God corporeal qualities, such 
as to be in need of food ; ^ at others, his attacks are 
directed against the Biblical precepts relating to the 
dietary laws, and certain ritual observances known 
under the name of (statutes), the reason for 

which is unknown.® The Yezer is especially anxious 
to show him that the ceremonies and the cult of other 
religions are more beautiful than those of the Jew.* 
Sometimes he even deigns to bring evidence from 
Scripture, as in the case of Abraham. When Abra- 
ham was on his way to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his 
son Isaac, Satan met him and said, “Old man, where 
art thou going?” He answered, “I am going to fulfil 
the will of my Father in Heaven.” Then Satan said 
unto him, “What did he tell thee?” Abraham an- 
swered, “To bring my son to him as a burnt -offering.” 
Thereupon Satan said, “That an old man like thee 
should make such a mistake ! His attention was only 
to lead thee astray and to tire thee ! Behold, it is 
written, ‘Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man his blood 
shall be shed’ (Gen. 96). Thou art the man who 
bringest mankind under the wings of the Shechinah. 

^ Baba Bathra^ 165 a, 

2 See Tan. B.^ 4 48 h. See also below, p. 298. 

^ See 7 \ K.^ 86 a. See also P. R., 64 text and notes. 

* T. K,, ibid.y D‘'KD DnbtS?, apparently relating to matters of 

cult. 



252 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

If thou wilt sacrifice thy son, they will all leave thee 
and call thee murderer.” ‘ The name Satan here is 
identical with the Evil Yezer, who, as in the case of 
Job, performs the office of the informer against Abra- 
ham. Yezer, indeed, shows special anxiety for man’s 
duty to his family. Thus when man “ loves in his 
heart ” to do a mSCtt (give charity), the Evil Yezer in 
him says, “ Why should you do a and diminish 
thy property? Rather than to give to strangers, give 
to thy children.” ^ Sometimes he appeals to his vanity, 
telling man, for instance, not to pay a visit of condo- 
lence, because he is too great a man.® When all fails, 
he will appeal to the mercy of God, saying to man, 
“Sin and the Holy One, blessed be he, will forgive 
thee.” ^ 

The beginning of the association of the Evil Yezer 
with man is a controverted point among the Rabbis. Ac- 
cording to some, the Evil Yezer arises with the act of 
cohabitation. Thus R. Reuben b. Astrobolis expresses 
himself to the effect: How can man keep aloof from 
the Evil Yezer considering that the very act of gen- 
eration came through the strength of the Evil Yezer, 
constantly gaining in strength till the time of his birth 
arrives? The Evil Yezer dwells at the opening of his 
heart.® This is in accordance with the view of R. 

1 MUG,, pp. 304 and 305. Cf. notes 3 and 4. 

^ Exod. 36 8. ® P, P.f 1^0 a, * Chagigah, 16 a, 

® R. N.^ 32 according to the text given in the Note 22. Cf. 
MHG»f p, 106. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


253 


Acha, who, with reference to Ps. 51 7 , expressed him- 
self to the effect that in sexual intercourse even the 
saint of saints cannot well escape a certain taint 
of sin, the act of cohabitation being performed more 
with the purpose of satisfying one’s animal appe- 
tite than with the intention of perpetuating the human 
species.' Very near to this notion, though not quite 
identical, is that which teaches that the Evil Yezer 
enters into man when he is still in the embryonic state; 
but this seems to have been an isolated opinion, having 
been abandoned by the very authorities who taught it 
first. This can be seen from the following passage, which 
is to the effect that Antoninus put the question to R. 
Judah the Saint, “When does the Evil Yezer begin his 
rule over man : from the moment of his formation into 
bones, muscles, and flesh, or from that of his birth?” 
R. Judah was inclined to the former view, to which 
Antoninus objected on the ground that we have no 
proof of any malign tendency on the part of the embryo. 
Thereupon R. Judah declared himself in favour of the 
latter view, and in a public lecture made the statement, 
“This fact Antoninus taught me, and Scripture is in 
his support ; as it is said, ‘ At the door (of man’s enter- 
ing the world) the sin licth.’”* Likewise isolated is 
another opinion, which is to the effect : that the child 

1 Lev. R., 14 5. The sense of the passage is not very clear. See 
also Yalkut Machiri. Ps. to this verse and cf. Bacher, Ag. Am., 3 144. 

2 See Sanhedrin^ <)i b, Cf. Gen. R.y 34 6, and Jer. Berachoth^ 6 d. 
Cf. Low’s Lebensalier^ p. 64 seq. 



254 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


of six, seven, eight, and nine years sins not ; only from 
the age of ten he begins to grow (or perhaps to magnify, 
or to cultivate) the Evil Yezer} The general notion 
seems to be the one accepted by R. Judah, which is 
that the Evil Yezcr accompanies man from his earliest 
childhood to his old age, by reason of which he enjoys 
a priority of not less than thirteen years over the Good 
Yezer, who only makes his appearance at the age of 
puberty. 

It is on account of this seniority that he establishes 
a certain government over man and is thus called “ the 
old foolish king.” ^ It is true that children enjoy a 
certain immunity from sin, on account of their unde- 
veloped physical condition, so that the Rabbis speak 
of the breath of the school children, in which there is 
no (taint of) sin. Indeed, the death of children is 
mostly explained as an atonement for the sins of 
their parents or their grown-up contemporaries.® 
Yet, they are, as already indicated, not quite free 
from the Evil Yezer, who, as wc have seen, accosts 
man from his earliest childhood. “Even in his state 
as minor, man’s thoughts are evil.” * As it would seem, 

1 See Tan. 7. 

2 See A, jR. N., 32 b ; Eccles, R., 4 is and 9 I6 ; Nedarim, 32 b ; 
M., T. 9 6, and Tan. B., i, 102 a and b. From Tan. i 63 it would 
seem that it is at the age of fifteen that the effects of the Evil Yezer 
become visible. The reading is, however, not certain. See Note 5, 
ibid.^ on the various parallel passages and the different readings. 

® See Shabbathy iig b and 33^. Cf. Gen, R., 58 2 and commenta- 
ries. See also above, p. 193, below, p. 31 1. 

^ Jer, Berachothy 6 b. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


it is in the aspect of “fool” (stupid and wanting in cau- 
tion and foresight) that the influence of the Evil Yezer 
makes itself felt in the child. “ From the moment man 
is born, the Evil Yezer cleaves to him.” And this is 
illustrated by the following fact; If a man should 
attempt to bring up an animal to the top of the roof, 
it will shrink back; but the child has no hesitation in 
running up, with the result of tumbling down and 
injuring himself. If he sees a conflagration, he will 
run to it; if he is near burning coals, he will stretch 
out his hands to gather them (and be burnt). Why 
(this audacity and want of caution), if not because of 
the Evil Yezer that was put in him?* 

The seat both of the Evil and the Good Yezer is in 
the heart, the organ to which all the manifestations of 
reason and emotion are ascribed in Jewish literature.* 

1 See A. R, N.y 32 a, 32 b, text and notes. 

2 The importance of this organ in Rabbinic literature will be more 
clearly seen by the reader through reproducing here the following 
passage in Eccles* R.y i le, omitting such clauses as seem to be mere 
repetition, as well as the Scriptural verses cited there in corroboration 
of each clause. Cf. P. K,y 124a and by text and notes: “The heart 
sees, the heart hears, the heart speaks, the heart walks, the heart falls, 
the heart stops, the heart rejoices, the heart weeps, the heart is com- 
forted, the heart grieves, the heart is hardened, the heart faints, the 
heart mourns, the heart is frightened, the heart breaks, the heart is 
tried, the heart rebels, the heart invents, the heart su.spects (or criti- 
cises), the heart whispers, the heart thinks, the heart desires, the 
heart commits adultery, the heart is refreshed, the heart is stolen, the 
heart is humbled, the heart is persuaded, the heart goes astray, the 
heart is troubled, the heart is awake, the heart loves, the heart 
hates, the heart is jealous, the heart is searched, the heart is torn, 



256 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


It is in this heart, with its manifold functions, that 
the Evil Yezer sets up his throne. The Evil Yezer re- 
sembles a “fly” (according to others, a “wheat” grain), 
established between the two openings (valves) of the 
heart. ‘ More minute are the mystics, who describe 
the heart as having two cavities, the one full of blood, 
which is the seat of the Evil Yezer ; the other empty, 
where the Good Yezer dwells.^ Somewhat different is 
the statement, “ Two reins are in man : the one counsels 
him for good, the other for evil,” and they proceed to 
say it is evident the former is on the right side, the latter 
on the left side; as it is said, “The heart of the wise 
man is on his right, the heart of the fool is on his left” 
(Eccles. 10 2).® The reins in this case seem to have an 
auxiliary function. “The reins counsel and the heart 
understands (to decide for action).” It should, how- 
ever, be noted that in another place, this very verse is 

the heart meditates, the heart is like fire, the heart is like stone, the 
heart repents, the heart is warned, the heart dies, the heart melts, the 
heart accepts words (of comfort), the heart accepts the fear (of God), 
the heart gives thanks, the heart covets, the heart is obstinate, the heart 
is deceitful, the heart is bribed, the heart writes, the heart schemes, 
the heart receives commandments, the heart does wilfully, the heart 
makes reparation, the heart is arrogant.*^ 

^ Berachoihy 61 a. The first view, which is that of Rab, is derived 
from Eccles. 10 1, ** Dead flies cause the precious oil of the apothecary 
to become stinking and foaming ; so doth a little folly, him that is 
valued for wisdom and honour.^’ The second, ascribed to Samuel, is 
a play on the word HKIOn (Gen. 47)= HOn. This latter interpreta- 
tion is probably connected with the legend maintaining that the Tree 
of Knowledge grew wheat {Berachoihy 40^7). 

2 Zohary Exod., 107 a, ® See Berachoihy ibid. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


257 


interpreted to mean that the wise man’s heart on the 
right is the Good Yezer, which is placed on the right 
of man; and the fool’s heart to his left is the Evil 
Yezer, which is placed to his leftd We are thus brought 
to the notion identifying the two Yezer s with the two 
hearts, of which the Rabbis speak occasionally. What 
is the meaning, they say, of the verse, “For the Lord 
searcheth all the hearts”? (i Chron. 28 9). These are 
the two hearts and the two Yezer s: the bad heart with 
the Evil Yezer, and the good heart with the Good 
Yezer? Indeed, the angels, who have only one heart, 
are free from the Evil Yezer, a blessing to which Israel 
will attain only in the Messianic times.® Therefore, 
man is bidden not to have two hearts when he prays, 
one directed to the Holy One, blessed be he, and the 
other occupied with worldly thoughts ; just as the priests 
are bidden not to have two hearts, one directed to the 
Holy One, blessed be he, and the other directed to 
something else, when they are performing their sacri- 
ficial rites.^ Indeed, the pious generation of the 
prophetess Deborah had only one heart, directed 
towards their Father in Heaven.® The same thought 
is expressed in different words in another place : Moses 

^ Num , R .^ 22 9. 

2 See above, p. 243, note 2 and reference there to a differing read- 
ing. To this should be added Midrash Prov.y 12, where, with reference 
to Ps. 7 10, it is distinctly remarked, “ Has a man two hearts? But by 
these are meant, the Good Yezer and the Evil Yezer P 

* Gen. R.y 48 11. 

* Tan.y KSn, I and 2. Cf. Tan. B.y 5 28 b, 

S 


® Megillahy l\a. 



258 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

said to Israel, “ Remove the Evil Yezer from your hearts, 
so that ye may be all in one fear of God and in one 
counsel to serve before the Omnipresent. As he is 
alone in this world, so shall your worship of him be 
only to him (single-hearted),” as it is said, “Circum- 
cise therefore the foreskin of thy heart.” * 

The loose manner in which heart and Evil Yezer are 
interchangeably used in the foregoing passage, suggest 
the close affinity between the two, as indeed, heart 
sometimes stands for Yezer? “The eyes and the heart 
are the agents of sin,” but as it is pointed out by an 
ancient Rabbi, the first impulse comes from the heart, 
the eyes following the heart.* There is a clean heart for 
which the Psalmist prays (51 12), and there is the con- 
taminated heart to which the Evil Yezer owes the name 
of “unclean.” * Again, it is the heart that brings the 
righteous to Paradise, it is the heart that hurls down 
the wicked to Hell, as it is said, “ Behold, my servants 
shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow 
of heart” (Is. 6514).* We must, however, not press 
this point too much so as to identify the heart with the 
Evil Yezer, for not only have the Rabbis, as we have 

^ T, K,y 33 d. See above, i6o. 

2 See Sukkahy ^2 a (heart of stone), and cf. above, 243. In Pseudo- 
Jonathan the is in most cases rendered with Cf. Exod. 4 

21; 78; 13 and 14; 8 16.28; 9 7 . 84 ; 101.20. 27; ii 10. Deut. 5 26; 
U 16; 29 26; 30 6. 

^ See Jer, Berachoth^ 3 c\ Sifre, 35 a, and Num, B., 17 6. 

* See above, p. 243, and reference given there to Sukkah, 52 a, 

® M. r., U9 6 (146 b'). 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 


259 


seen, assigned to it the seat of the Good Yezer, but they 
have even declared it as the abode of wisdom.' The 
good heart, again, is the most desired possession.^ 
In the later literature, the heart is described as out- 
weighing all the other organs of man, hatred and love 
having their seat in the heart; as it is said, “Thou 
shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart” (Lev. 19 17), 
whilst it is also said, “And thou shalt love the Lord, 
thy God, with all thy heart” (Deut. 6 6 ).^ It is also 
maintained that the heart is purer than anything else, 
and that everything good proceeds from it.'* All that 
the heart is accused of is inconsistency. God says, 
“Two hundred and forty-eight organs have I created 
in man; all of these keep in the same manner as I 
have created them, except the heart;” (and) so said 
Jeremiah, “The heart changeth from moment to 
moment. It alters itself and perverts itself.” ® These 
changes apparently depend upon the nature of the 
tenant who gets possession of the heart. “As often as 
the words of the Torah appear and find the chambers 
of the heart free, they enter and dwell therein. The 
Evil Yezer has no dominion over these, and no man 
can remove them.” ® 

The heart is thus not in itself corrupt; at least, not 
more corrupt than any other organ. Indeed, when 

1 Midrash Prov., ch. I. ® "b mx ij'm ni'niK. 

2 See Aboth^ ii 9. ^ Zohar, Num., 225 a. 

^ See Ag. Ber,^ ch. 2. Cf. Jeremiah, 17 19 . 

® A, R, N,y 15^; Midrash Prov,, ch. 24. 



26 o some aspects of rabbinic theology 

man is under the incitement of sin, all his members 
are obedient to the Evil Yezer, who is king over man’s 
two hundred and forty-eight members; whilst when he 
makes an effort to perform good work, they all show 
laziness and reluctance.^ Again, when the Evil Yezer 
lays siege to man, it is all the members, not the heart in 
particular, that act as auxiliaries.^ It is only because of 
the heart’s various functions, as pointed out above, 
that it is more often liable to be enlisted in the service 
of the Evil Yezer than any other organ, and therefore 
more blamed than any other part of the human body, 
but not on account of a special depravity attaching to 
it. As a matter of fact, the heart in this respect is only 
synonymous with soul in the Bible, where it is the 
which commits sin, and even the Rabbis occasionally 
speak of the “soul of man,” with its greed after wealth 
(even when acquired by dishonest means) and its 
tendency towards lust.® Indeed, according to the 
Rabbis, Scripture is astonished that the soul coming 
from a place where there is no sin should sin, but 
nevertheless, the fact is accepted that it shares in sin 
as much as the body, though the body comes from 
a village and the soul comes from the court and is 
well acquainted with the etiquette of the court. But 
it is this very fact which makes this sin of the soul 
less excusable ; and the Holy One, blessed be he, says 

1 A. R. N., 32 a ; MHG., p. 109. 

^ Nedarinii 32 b. 

® MUhnah Makkoth^ end. See also Sifre, 125 a» 



EVIL YEZER; SOURCE OF REBELLION 261 


to the soul, “ All that I have produced in the first six 
days of creation I have produced for thy sake, but thou 
didst rob, sin and commit violence. . . “ But it 

is impossible for the body to be without the soul, and 
if there is no soul there is no body, and if there is 
no body there is no soul ; they sin together ; (hence) 
‘ the soul that sinneth, it shall die ’ (Ezekiel 
18 20).” 1 

The passages indicating a tendency to identify the 
heart (or the soul) with the Evil Yezer have further to 
be qualified by other Rabbinic statements looking for 
the source of sin to some force outside of man. For 

1 See Tan, B., ^ i a and 6, and Eccles, R.y 6 6. The simile of the 
villager and the courtier will be better understood by the following 
Rabbinic passages, on which it was probably based : Mechilta 36 b and 
Mechilta of R, SimoUf p. 59, where Antoninus asks Rabbi, ** Considering 
that the man is dead and the body in a state of decay, whom does God 
bring to judgement? ” Whereupon Rabbi answered him, “ Before thou 
asketh me about the body ivhich is inipurey ask 7 ne about the soul which 
is pureT This is followed by the well-known parable of the blind and 
the lame, who robbed the garden of the king, etc. “ Pure ” and 
“ impure " apparently stand here for lasting and decaying. It should 
be remarked that the words in italics are missing in the parables of 
Sanhedrin^ 91 a ; Lev, A\, 4 6 ; Tan. B,y 3 4 &, and Tan, 6. In 

Sifre, 132 a, man is defined as the only creature whose soul is from 
heaven and his body from the earth. If he obeyed the Torah and per- 
formed the will of his father in heaven, he is like one of the creatures 
above ; if he did not obey the Torah and the will of his father in heaven, 
he is like one of the creatures below. Closely corresponding with it 
is the passage in Gen. A., 8 11, where also man is described as a com- 
bination of those above (angels) and those below (animals). See 
also Gen. R., 14 2 and 27 4 ; Chagigahy 16 a ; and A, R. N., $5 l^xt 
and notes. See also Tan, B., i idb. Cf. also above, 81 and 241, and 
below, 285. 



262 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


apart from what we may call the mythological view, 
identifying the Evil Yezer with the serpent, or Samael, 
and of which some other names of the Evil Yezer in 
Rabbinic literature are to be considered as reminiscent 
at least, ‘ the comparison of the YezeYs visitations to 
man with the passing traveller and other similar 
passages ^ point also to the fact that the Rabbis did 
not entirely view man in the light of a corrupt being. 
We have further to note that the Evil Yezer is, 
as indicated above, more conspicuous in the Jewish 
literature than the Good Yezer, whilst by Yezer, with- 
out any further specification, is often meant the 
Evil Yezer. ^ This would suggest that there is in fact 
only one Yezer, the Evil Yezer, and we may further 
conclude that it is man himself, by his natural tendency, 
that represents the Good Yezer. Accordingly, when he 
commits evil, he acts under certain impulses not ex- 
actly identical with his own natural self. The Rabbis 
further speak of the leaven in the dough, preventing man 
from doing his (God’s) will.'* This metaphor is taken 
by some as indicating some inner physical defect in hu- 
man nature, but in another place forming a parallel 
passage to the one just quoted, the leaven in the 
dough appears together with the subjection to for- 
eign governments that make compliance with God’s 

1 See above, p. 243. ^ See above, p. 248. 

^ See e.g. Sukkak, 52 ^ ; Gen, jR,y 59 6 ; Aboth, i 4 ; Sifre^ 74 Tar- 
gum to Ps. 4 6, 

* Jer, Berachothy 7 d. See below, p. 265, where the passage is given. 



EVIL YEZER: SOURCE OF REBELLION 263 

will hard, if not impossible^ It is thus a certain 
quasi-external agency which is made responsible for 
sin, whilst man himself, by his spontaneous nature, 
is only too anxious to live in accordance with God’s 
commandments. 

^ Berachothy \*j a. 



XVI 


MAN’S VICTORY BY THE GRACE OF GOD, 
OVER THE EVIL YEZER CREATED BY GOD 

The opinions recorded in the preceding chapter, 
some of which suggest the placing of the Evil Yezer 
outside of man, and the further fact that he is de- 
scribed as the source of rebellion, must, however, not 
be pressed to such an extent as to give the Evil Yezer 
an independent existence, representing a power at 
warfare with God. As is so often the case in Jewish 
theology, the Rabbis, consciously or unconsciously, 
managed to steer between the dangerous courses, never 
allowing the one aspect of a doctrine to assume such 
proportions as to obscure all other aspects. First, it 
must be noted that the Evil Yezer, whatever its nature, 
is, as is everything else in the universe, a creature of 
God. Thus with reference to Gen. 2 7, a Rabbi inter- 
prets the fact of the word being written with 

two Yods to indicate that God created man with two 
Yezers: the Good Yezer and the Evil Yezer} For 
“ God hath also set the one against the other ” (Eccles. 

^ Gen. R.y 147; Berachothy 61 a and references. Cf. also Pseudo- 
Jonathany Gen. 2 14 , Cf. also below, p. 313, the quotation given there 
from M. T.y 32 4. 


264 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


265 


7 : 14), which verse Rabbi Akiba explains to mean that 
God created the righteous and God created the wicked.* 
In a later semi-mystical Midrash, the same thought is 
repeated, “ God created the world in pairs, the one in 
contrast to the other,” as life and death, peace and 
strife, riches and poverty, wisdom and folly, the right- 
eous and the wicked.* This thought was so familiar 
to the people that the Rabbis tell a story of one of their 
colleagues who overheard a young girl praying thus; 
“Lord of the universe! Thou hast created paradise, 
thou hast created hell, thou hast created the righteous, 
thou hast created the wicked. May it be thy will that 
the sons of men should not be ensnared by me ! ” that is, 
that she might not prove the opportunity for the wicked.* 

We have already referred to the metaphor of the 
leaven in the dough as applied to the Evil Yezer. 
The metaphor occurs in a Rabbinic prayer running 
thus: “ May it be thy will, O my God, and the God of 
my fathers, that thou breakest the yoke of the Evil 
Yezer and removest him from our hearts; for, thou hast 
created us to do thy will, and we are in duty bound to 
do thy will. Thou art desirous and we are desirous. 
But who prevents it ? The leaven in the dough. It 
is revealed and it is known before thee that we have 
not the strength to resist him; but may it be thy will, 

1 Chagigahy a. 2 gge Midrash Temurah, 

^ See Sotahy 22 a, Cf. Edeles. The parallel, however, in Baba 
Bathruy 16 a (cf. below, p. 273), shows that by creation of the wicked 
is meant creation of Evil Yezer, 



266 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

O Lord my God, and the God of my fathers, that thou 
wilt remove him from us, subject him, so that we may 
do thy will as our will, with a perfect heart.” But this 
leaven is a creation of God, which fact called forth the 
remark (with reference to Gen. 821), “How wretched 
must the leaven be, that he who has created it bears 
witness” (that it is bad) ! ‘ More emphatically the 
same thought is expressed in another place with ref- 
erence to Gen. 6 6. The Holy One, blessed be he, 
said, “It is I who put the leaven in the dough; but for 
the Evil Yezer which I have created in him, he (man) 
would have committed no wrong.” * 

But the leaven, evil as it is, has, according to the 
Rabbis, its good purpose and its proper place in the 
universe, as anything created by God, indeed, cannot be 
entirely evil. Thus, the Scriptural words, “And God 
saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very 
good ” (Gen. 1 3i), arc explained among other things to 
refer to the Evil Y ezer ; whereupon the question is put, 
“Indeed, can the Evil Yezer be considered as very 
good?” The answer given is that but for the Evil 
Yezer a man would neither build a house, nor marry 

^ See Jer. Berachoth, 7 d\ Gen. R., 34 10. Cf. b'TI, note 12. Cf. 
above, p. 145, note 6. It should be noticed that Gen. R., 34 10, has 
also one opinion to the effect : ‘‘ Mow poor must the dough be, that the 
baker bears witness against it.” This would, acccording to some com- 
mentators, include the whole of man and the condemnation of his all 
being bad, but this opinion seems to be isolated, and is not reproduced 
in the parallel passages, such as the MHG.y p. 132, and Tan, B,, i 6, 
which has also 

2 See MHG,f p. 132. Cf. Gen, B,, 27 4, and T, B,y i I6 b. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


267 


a wife, nor beget children, nor engage in commerce. 
As further proof of this is given the verse, “Again I 
considered all travail, and every right work, that for 
this a man is envied of his neighbour” (Eccles. 44).* 
Envy itself, which is one of the ugliest qualities, can 
thus be made serviceable for a good purpose. This 
corresponds with another statement, according to which 
the three things upon which the world is based are: 
envy, lust, and mercy. In another version the same 
statement is paraphrased in the following way : “ Three 
good qualities, the Holy One, blessed be he, created 
in this world, namely, the Evil Yezer, Envy, and 
Mercy." ^ The Evil Yezer has thus little in 
common with the evil principle of theology, but is 
reduced to certain passions without which neither the 
propagation of species nor the building up of the 
proper civilisation would be thinkable. They only 
become evil by the improper use man makes of 
them. It is probably in this sense that the Evil Yezer 
is called once the servant of man. “The Holy One, 
blessed be he, said: ‘See what this wicked people do. 
When I created them I gave to each of them two 
servants, the one good and the other evil. But they 
forsook the good servant and associated with the evil 
one.’”^ But even the Evil Yezer in his aspect of 

1 Gen. R.y 9 7 , Cf. also Eccles. R., 3 11. 

2 A. R. N.y 9 a, text and note 9. 

8 Ag. Ber.y i 4. Cf. Tan. B.y i is a. The latter reads, “ Two crea- 
tions I made in man : the Good Yezer and the Evil Yezer T But a 
comparison of the two texts shows that in this case the Ag. Ber. pre- 



268 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

adversary and enemy of man, as his identification with 
Satan suggests, is not supposed to be entirely evil. 
Thus Satan is said to have had godly intentions in 
his denunciation of Job. His purpose was that the 
merit of Abraham should not be entirely obscured by 
that of Job. Satan proved himself so grateful for 
this appreciation of his nature, that he is reported to 
have kissed the Rabbi on his knees, who thus inter- 
preted his intentions in this generous way.' One 
Rabbi went even so far as to make man responsible for 
the wickedness of Yezer. This opinion is expressed in 
connection with the verse, “ Lo, this only have I found, 
that God hath made man upright” (Eccles. 729), on 
which the Rabbi remarked: The Holy One, blessed 
be he, who is called righteous and upright and created 
man in his image, did this only with the intention that 
man should be as righteous and upright as he himself. 
If man will argue, why did he then create the Evil 
Yezer of whom it is written that he is evil from the very 
youth of man? If God described him as evil, who 
then could make him good? God’s answer is, “Thou 
(man) hast made him bad.” As a proof is given that 

served the better reading. Cf. also S, E, Z., p. 176, about the two angels 
or three, and IKiri HD’' to Gen, R,, 34 10. Cf. also R. Simon Durands 
commentary to Job (ed. Venice), 29 b and 47 b. It is 

interesting to see there how the rationalistic school, taking its clew from 
non-Jewish philosophy, insists upon making the body (or the flesh) re- 
sponsible for the Evil Yezer, maintaining the dualism of flesh and 
spirit in the most positive manner ; whilst the mystical school ob- 
jects to it and endeavours to ascribe all evil to powers outside of man, 

1 Baba Baihra, 16 a. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 269 

little children commit no sin, and as it is man who 
breeds the Evil Yezer it is thus with the growth of man 
that sin comes. God further reproaches man, saying, 
that there are many things harder and bitterer than 
the Evil Yezer, but man finds the means to sweeten 
them. If man succeeds in making things palatable 
that are created bitter, how much more could he succeed 
in tempering the Evil Yezer who is delivered into the 
hands of man ? ‘ 

By making him “bad” is meant, the abuse of those 
passions which are in themselves a necessity. The 
same question as to why God has created the Evil 
Yezer is answered in another place to the following 
effect: The matter is to be compared to a king who 
had slaves separated from him by an iron wall. The 
king proclaimed, “He who loves me shall climb 
this wall and come up to me. He will prove by this 
effort that he fears the king, and loves the king.”* 
The text is not quite clear, but the general drift is that 
the Yezer who forms such an obstacle on the path of 
righteousness was created with the purpose that man 
should make a strong effort to overcome him, thereby 
testifying his loyalty and devotion to the King God, 
and increasing his reward when all the obstacles have 
been overcome. 

Though these two opinions differ as to the nature 
and purpose of the Evil Yezer, they both agree that he 

1 Tan., n'^Nia, 7. 

* S. E. Z., p. 193. 



2^0 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

is in the hands of man, who is able to overcome him 
with a strong effort. Man is warned not to be intimi- 
dated by the fact that the Evil Yezer is a creation of 
God, and say that he has no authority over him, for 
it is written in the Torah, “And unto thee shall be his 
desire, but thou shalt rule over him” (Gen. 47).* 
This verse is paraphrased, “If thou wilt mend thy 
actions in this world, everything shall be forgiven and 
pardoned in the world to come. But if thou wilt not 
mend thy deeds in this world, thy sin will be preserved 
for the great Day of Judgement. And at the door of 
thy heart he lies, but in thy hand I have given the Evil 
Yezer, and thou shalt rule over him both for good and 
for evil.” ^ Man has the power in his own hands,® 
and it is only by man’s own neglect and weakness that 
the Evil Yezer, who appears first quite effeminate and 
powerless, gains masculine strength, enabling him to 
dictate to man. If man does well, he finds forgive- 
ness; but if he does not well, he is delivered into the 
hands of the Evil Yezer who lies at the door.^ 

The difference between the wicked and the righteous 
is that the wicked are in the power of their hearts, while 
the righteous have the heart in their power.® Indeed, 
it would seem as if everything depended upon man. 
Either Satan enters into his body and gains dominion 

1 Gen, R., 22 6. Cf. the commentary of V'T"iri^ 3 . 

2 Pseudo'jonathan, Gen. 47. ^ See MHG,f p. 109, 

^ See MFIG., p. 107. See above, p. 249. 

^ See Gen. R., 34 10. By “ heart ” is of course meant here the Yezer, 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


271 


over man and sin becomes his master, or man gains mas- 
tery over Satan and he suppresses him.* Nay, man has 
in his power not only to resist the Evil Yezer, but to turn 
his services to good purpose. At least the wicked are re- 
proached for their failing to make the Evil Y ezer good.^ 
It is simply a question of choice, the wicked preferring 
the Evil Yezer, while the righteous decide for the Good 
YezerJ' Again, the men of the deluge are described 
as those who themselves made the Evil Yezer rule over 
them, by following his devices.* On the other hand, 
Abraham is said to have had dominion over the Evil 
YezerJ whilst all the patriarchs are recorded to have 
enjoyed the blessing that the Evil Yezer had no domin- 
ion over them.® Joseph, again, is called the ruler over 
\\isEvil YezerJ When the Evil Yezer is about to over- 
power man, the righteous will resist him with an oath, 
as we find in the case of Abraham, Boaz, David, and 
Elijah, who all conjured their Yezer to desist from his 
evil intentions, while the wicked will conjure their 
Yezer, urging him to commit the evil deed, as in the 
case of Gehazi.® Counsel is given to man that he 
should prove himself higher and above his sin, not 
allowing himself to become its slave and be buried under 

1 See Wertheimer, d’CrilS Dpb, p. 4 b. 

2 See Ag. Ber., ch. I. " MHG., p. 131. 

3 Recks. 6 MHG., p. 354. 

^ See Baba Bathra^ l*] a. 

7 Nu?n, jR.y 14 (3. Cf. Deui, 2: 33. 

8 See Sifre^ 74 a\ Ggn, R., 87 6 ; Lev, R.y 23 11 ; and references 

given there. Cf. also p. 585, text and note 31. 



272 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


its heavy burden.* If man has to make a goad to direct 
the animal, which he uses for the purpose of ploughing, 
etc., how much more should he be careful to use the 
goad for the purposes of directing his Yezer, who can 
by his seduction remove him from this world and 
the world to come ? ^ 

Man is further advised to stir up (to war) the Good 
Yezer against the Evil Yezer. ^ In this war, man is 
not supposed to be neutral. It is his duty not only 
to assist the Good Yezer and save him from his enemy, 
the Evil Yezer, but he should also make an effort to 
establish the kingdom of the Good Yezer over the Evil 
Yezer.* As an instance of such a victory of the Good 
Yezer over the Evil Yezer the following story may be 
given : The Saint, Abba Tachna, returned to his village 
on the eve of the Sabbath, when darkness was about to 
set in. He had his pack on his shoulders, but there he 
found at the crossroad a leper, lying, who said unto him, 
“ Rabbi, do with me a righteousness (or act of mercy), 
and carry me to the town. ” Abba Tachna said, “If I 
leave here my pack (which contained all his earnings) 
how shall I and my family maintain ourselves ? But if 
I leave here this leper, I forfeit my soul. ” But he de- 
clared the Good Yezer king over the Evil Yezer, and car- 
ried the leper to the town, and then came back and took 


^ See Gen. R., 22 e. It is with allusion to Ps. 32 1. 

2 See Lev. R., 29 iv ; Eccles. R,y 2 11. 

^ Ber.y^ a. CLP. K., 158 a. 

^ Lev. R.y 34 1 ; See also M. T*., 41 2, text and notes. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


273 


his pack and arrived at the town again just about sun- 
set. They all wondered and said, “Is this the Saint 
Abba Tachna?” He himself had some regrets in his 
heart about it, fearing that he had profaned the Sab- 
bath, but just at this time the Holy One, blessed be he, 
caused the sun to shine.‘ 

The weapons used in this war against the Evil 
Yezer are mainly: occupation with the study of the 
Torah and works of loving-kindness. “Blessed are 
Israel,” the Rabbis say; “as long as they are devoted 
to the study of the Torah, and works of loving-kindness, 
the Evil Yezer is delivered into their hands.” * 

It is especially the Torah which is considered the best 
remedy against the Evil Yezer. When Job remon- 
strated with God, “Thou hast created Paradise, thou 
hast created Hell, thou hast created the righteous, and 
thou hast created the wicked. Who prevented thee (from 
making me righteous?),” he sought by this argument 
to release the whole world from judgement, seeing that 
they sin under compulsion. — But his friend answered 
him, “If God has created the E/vil Yezer, he also 
created the Torah as a spice (remedy) against him.” * 
To the same effect is another passage, “ My son, if this 
ugly one (the Evil Yezer) meets you, drag him into the 
schoolhouse (Beth-Hammidrash). If he is a stone, he 
will be ground (into powder) ; if he is iron, he will be 
broken into pieces; as it is said, ‘Is not my word like 

1 See Eccles, -^.,97. 2 Abodah Zarah^ 5 b, 

® Baba Bathra^ 16 a, 

T 



274 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

unto a fire? saith the Lord, and like a hammer that 
breaketh the rocks in pieces?’” (Jer. 23 29 ).‘ 

The words in the Psalms, “Order my steps in thy 
word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over 
me” (Ps. 119 133), are paraphrased in the following 
way: “David said, ‘Allow not my feet to go where 
they wish, but let them go all the time to thy Torah 
in the Beth-Hammidrash, for the Evil Yezer does not 
enter the Beth-Hammidrash. He may pursue man all 
the way, but as soon as they reach the Beth-Hammidrash, 
Satan must abandon the race.’ ” * Again, he whose heart 
is absorbed in the words of the Torah removes thereby 
from himself all idle thoughts as well as the thoughts 
insinuated by the Evil Yezer? The name stone given 
to the Evil Fezcr suggested also the following alle- 
gorical explanation of Gen. 292: “Awd Jacob looked, 
and behold there were three flocks of sheep. By these 
are meant the three masters of the Synagogue; For 
out of this well they watered the flocks ; by this is meant 
the Torah; but the stone is great; this is the Evil 
Yezer, who can only be removed by the efforts of the 
whole congregation; who rolled the stone from the well’s 
mouth, by means of their listening to the Torah. But 
as soon as they left the Synagogue, the Evil Yezer reas- 
serted himself.” * The fact, however, that a part of the 
Torah, or rather the Decalogue, was written on stone or 

1 Kiddushiriy 30 b, ^ M. 7 "., 1 19 62. ^ A. F, iV., 35 b, 

^ Gen. F.f 70 8. The word is doubtful, and still requires a 

proper explanation. See above, p. 244, note i. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


275 


on “ tablets of stone” (Exod. 24 22), suggested the follow- 
ing explanation: “Since the Evil Yezer is also called 
stone, as it is said, ‘And I will take away the stony 
heart’” (Ezek. 3620), “it is only proper that stone 
should watch over stone.” ‘ The effects of the Torah 
in this battle with the Yezer seem to be differently 
understood by the different authorities, for while one 
Rabbi gives as advice, “If the Yezer come to make you 
merry (or frivolous), then kill him (or throw him down) 
by the word of the Torah,” the other Rabbi counsels us 
‘ ‘ to rejoice the Fezer with the words of the Tor ah ”; that 
is, to use the inclination of man towards joy and cheer- 
fulness for the joy and the happiness which man should 
find in accomplishing the will of God.* The killing of 
the Evil Yezer is further recommended in the follow- 
ing words, “To him who kills his Yezer and confesses 
upon it, it is reckoned as if he would have honoured 
the Holy One, blessed be he, in two worlds, this world 
and the world to come.” * But it would seem that this 
is not considered as the highest attainment of man; 
for it is said of Abraham, that he made the Evil Yezer 
good. Indeed, the Evil Yezer compromised with him, 
entering into a covenant that he would not make 
Abraham sin, whilst David, who could not resist the 
Evil Yezer, had to slay him in his heart.'* 

^ Lev, R., 35 6; cf. also Nuin, R.y 14 4, and Cant. R., 6 11. 

2 See Gen. R., 22 e, text and commentaries. Cf. MHG., p. no, for 
varying readings. Cf. Theodor’s ed. of Gen. R.y p. 212. 

8 Sanhedriny 43 b. Cf. Lev. R., 9 1. See also below, p. 335 seg, 

^ Jer. Berachothy 14 b. See also above, p. 67. 



276 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Another means of defeating the machinations of 
Yezer is the contemplation of death.‘ This can be 
best illustrated by the following passage of Akabiah b. 
Mahalaleel, “ Consider three things, and thou wilt not 
come into the hands of sin. Know whence thou com- 
est, and whither thou art going, and before whom thou 
art to give account and reckoning.” * Another version 
of the same saying is, “He who thinks of the following 
four things will never sin again: that is, from whence 
he comes, where he is destined to go, what will become 
of him, and who is his Judge.” * Sin or the Evil Yezer 
in this case is chiefly representative of the passion of 
vanity. These passages could be multiplied to any 
extent, but they are all to the effect that man, medi- 
tating upon his lowly origin and his sad end, will 
not be slow to give up all pretensions that come from 
pride and conceit. Sometimes, the remembrance of 
death serves also as a damper to man’s tendency 
towards excess. An instance of this we have in the 
following: “At the wedding of the son of Rabina, the 
students there present said unto Rab Hamnuna Zuta, 
‘Let the master sing a song unto us,’ whereupon he 
began to sing, ‘ Woe unto us that we shall die ! Woe 
unto us that we shall die!’ When they asked for the 
refrain, he gave the words, ‘Where is the Torah, and 
where are the good works that will protect us?’” ‘ 

1 Berachothf 5 a. 2 Aboth^ 3 1. 

® D, E,y p. 3. Cf. A, R, N,t 35 Uy text and notes. 

^ Berachothy a. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


277 


There may further be brought together under this cat- 
egory other remedies against the Evil Yezer which are of 
an ascetic nature. The story of the Nazarite who had 
his hair cut off with the purpose of subduing his Yezer 
has already been referred to.‘ A certain Rabbi, again, is 
recorded to have prayed for the death of his nearest 
kin, when he was under the impression that she would 
become the cause of sin.^ The later Jewish moralists 
prescribed a whole set of regulations, which are more 
or less of an ascetic nature, and calculated to make a 
fence against transgression. But the underlying idea 
of all of them is that all opulence, wealth, gluttony, 
and other opportunities of satisfying one’s appetite 
are so many auxiliaries to the Evil Yezer. Thus the 
Scriptural verses in Dcut. ii 15-16 are paraphrased, 
“Moses said unto Israel, ‘Be careful that you rebel 
not against the Holy One, blessed be he, because man 
does not enter upon this rebellion, but when he is full,’” 
that is, revelling in food and other luxuries.® The 
proverb was, “A lion does not roar from the midst of 
a heap of straw, but from the midst of a heap of meat.” 
Another proverb was, “Filled stomachs are a bad sort 
(or plenty is tempting).” * Hence the homily of the 
Rabbi with reference to the verse, “Behold, I have 
refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee 
in the furnace of poverty” (Isa. 48 10), that it teaches 
that the Holy One, blessed be he, searched all good 

1 See above, p. 249. ® Sifre, 80 b. Cf. ibid,^ 136 a. 

2 Taanithf 24 a, ^ Berachoth^ 31 



278 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

things but found nothing better for Israel than pov- 
erty.* 

It should, however, be remarked that even the Torah 
is not an all-powerful remedy in itself without the aid 
of heaven, which gives the Torah its real efficiency. 
Thus with reference to the verse, “Let my heart be 
sound (D’ttri) in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed” 
(Ps. 1 19, 80 ), the Rabbis remark, “David said, ‘Mas- 
ter of the world, when I am occupied in Thy Law, 
allow not the Evil Yezer to divide me . . . that the 
Evil Yezer may not lead me astray . . . but make 
my heart one, so that I be occupied in the Torah with 
soundness (perfection or fulness).’”^ Again, with 
reference to another verse, “Make me understand the 
way of thy precepts” (Ps. 11927), it is remarked that 
David said, “ My Master, say not unto me, behold they 
(the words of the Torah) are before thee, meditate 
upon them by thyself. For if thou wilt not make me 
understand them, I shall know nothing.” ® The Torah 
by itself is thus not sufficient to defeat the Evil Yezer. 
The conquest comes in the end from God. We are 
thus brought to the necessity of grace forming a promi- 
nent factor in the defeat of the Yezer. Hence, the va- 
rious prayers for the removal or the subjugation of the 
Evil Yezer. Specimens of such prayers have already 
been given.* Here we might further refer to the 

1 See Chagigah, 9 b, 

2 Exod, R., 19 2. The reading is not quite clear. I have adopted 

the reading suggested by note 8. 

8 M, 1 19 iG. See also ibid, to verse 33. * See above, p. 265, 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


279 


individual prayer of R. Judah the Saint, in which he 
supplicates that God may save him from the Evil 
Yezer.^ A similar prayer we have from another 
Rabbi of a later date.^ Other Rabbis, again, put 
their prayers in a more positive form, as, for instance, 
those who prayed that God would endow them with a 
Good Yezer.^ Sometimes neither the Evil Yezer nor 
the Good Yezer is mentioned, the prayer being more 
directed against sin, as for instance, the one running, 
“ May it be thy will that we shall not sin, and then we 
shall not be put to shame.” *• The heart plays a special 
part in these prayers, as for instance the one which 
is to the effect, “May our heart become single in the 
fear of thy name. Remove us from all thou hatest. 
Bring us near to all thou lovest, and do with us a 
righteousness for thy Name’s sake.” Another similar 
prayer is, “May it be thy will, Lord God, and the 
God of our fathers, that thou put into our hearts 
to do perfect repentance.” ® As typical in this respect 
we may perhaps mention the lines in the daily prayer- 
book, “Make us cleave to the Good Yezer and to good 
deeds ; subjugate our Evil Yezer so that it may submit 
itself unto thee.” ® A prayer fairly combining all these 
features is the one repeated several times on the Day of 
Atonement, running thus: “Our God and God of our 

^ Berachothy 16 ^ Berachoth, 17 a. 

8 See Berachothy by and Jer» Berachothy 4 c. 

^ Berachothy i*j b, ^ Jer, Berachothy 7 d» 

® See Berachothy 60 by the text of which differs in some minor 
points from that in our prayer-books. Cf. Singer, p. 7, Baer, p. 43. 



28 o some aspects of rabbinic theology 

fathers, forgive and pardon our iniquities on this Day 
of Atonement. . . . Subdue our heart to serve thee, 
and bend our Yezer to turn unto thee; renew our reins 
to observe thy precepts, and circumcise our hearts to 
love and revere thy Name, as it is written in thy Law : 
And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart and 
the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with 
all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest 
live.” ‘ The underlying idea of these passages, which 
can be multiplied by any number of parallel passages, 
is man’s consciousness of his helplessness against the 
powers of temptation, which can only be overcome by 
the grace of God. The oldest prayer of this kind, of 
course, is the one in the Eighteen Benedictions, praying 
for God’s help to bring man back unto him or his 
Torah and to his service, as well as the one for re- 
pentance.'® 

A special feature about the Rabbinic passages em- 
phasising the necessity of grace in the struggle with 
the Evil Yezer, is the implication of God’s responsi- 
bility for the existence of the Evil Yezer. The pleading 
of Job and his insistence upon God’s power to prevent 
sin has already been quoted, but there Job is censured 
for it.® Indeed, he was considered as an heretic for 
making this plea. A similar case we have with Cain. 
When reproached for murdering his brother, he is 
described as saying, “Master of the world, if I have 

1 See Festival Prayers, Day of Atonement, Part II, pp. 14, 185, 234. 

2 See below, p. 341. ® See above, p. 273, note 3. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


281 


killed him, it is thou who hast created in me the 
Evil Yezer. Thou watchest me and the whole world. 
Why didst thou permit me to kill him? It is thou 
who hast killed him ... for if thou hadst received 
my sacrifice, as thou didst receive his (Abel’s) sacri- 
fice, I would not have become jealous of him.” ‘ But 
of course Cain represents the bad type of humanity. 
Yet it is not to be denied that the Rabbis themselves 
sometimes employed similar arguments. Thus, with 
reference to the verse, “ O Lord, why hast thou made 
us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from 
thy fear?” (Isa. 6317), the Rabbis plead in favour 
of the brothers of Joseph, “When thou (God) didst 
choose, thou didst make them love; when thou didst 
choose, thou didst make them hate.” * Something 
similar is hinted about the affair of Cain and Abel. 
R. Simon b. Jochai said, “ It is a thing hard to say, 
and it is impossible for the mouth to utter it. It is to 
be compared to two athletes who were wrestling in the 
presence of the king. If the king wills, he can have 
them separated ; but the king wills not ; (in the end) one 
overwhelmed the other and killed him. And (the dy- 
ing) man shouted : ‘ Who can now demand justice for 
me (seeing that the king was present and could have 
prevented it) ? ’ ” ® In another place we read with refer- 
ence to the verses in Micah 4 6, Jer. 186, and Ezek. 36 26 , 
that but for such statements as these, implying the pos- 

1 See MUG,, p. 112, and note 36. 

2 Ggn, R.y 18 20. ® Gen, R., 22 9 . 



282 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


sibility of God’s power to exterminate the Evil Yezer, 
there would be no hope for Israel, such a possibility 
serving in extenuation of their guiltd Again, with ref- 
erence to the verse, “ For he knoweth our frame 03 "ir) ; 
he remembereth that we are dust,” we are told that 
this fact will save Israel from seeing Hell. So Israel 
will plead before the Holy One, blessed be he, “ Master 
of the world, thou knowest the Evil Yezer who se- 
duces us.” ^ It is with reference to the same verse, 
that we read as stated in another place, “Wretched, 
indeed, must be the leaven, if he who has created it 
declares it as evil.”* The “whisper from above” 
(heaven) makes the serpent (or the Evil Yezer whose 
creation God regrets) bite or commit violence on earth ; 
because of which fact “a door of mercy is opened to 
the sinners in Israel that they may be received as 
penitents; as they will plead before him. Master of 
the world: it is revealed and known unto thee that it 
is the Evil Yezer that incites us. In thy great mercy 
receive us in perfect repentance.” ^ 

More emphatic, even, is another remark on the verse 
of Jer. 186, “Israel said, ‘Master of the world . . . 
even when we sin and make thee angry, be not re- 
moved from us, for we are the clay, and thou art the 
potter ! . . .’ Israel said, ‘ Thou hast created in us the 

^ Berachothf 32 a, and Sukkah, 52 b, 

^ A, R, Ab.f 32 a and b. Cf. Sanhedritiy 105 <2, homily on Isa. 
28 : 26. 

® Gen. R.t 34 10. Cf. M. T., 103 u, text and Note 55. See above, 266. 

^ See S, E.y p. 63 text and notes. Cf. Eccles. R., 10 1. 



VICTORY OVER eViL YEZER 283 

Evil Yezer from our very youth. It is he who causes us 
to sin before thee, but thou dost not remove from us 
the sin. We pray thee, cause him to disappear from 
us, so that we may do thy will.’ Whereupon God 
says, ‘So I will do in the world to come.’” ‘ Nay, 
there are recorded cases of men belonging to the best 
type of humanity, who make the same plea as Job and 
Cain, though in somewhat more modest terms. Thus, 
Moses is said to have “knocked words against the 
height” (reproached God), arguing it was the gold and 
silver which he gave to Israel that was the cause of 
their making the golden calf.^ Again, Elijah “knocked 
words against the height,” saying to God, “Thou 
hast turned their heart back again” (i Kings 1837). 
And the Rabbis proceed to say that God confessed that 
Elijah’s contention was right.® 

For, indeed, God sometimes does make sin impos- 
sible, as in the case of Abimclech, to whom God said, 
“For I also withheld thee from sinning against me: 
therefore suffered I thee not to touch her” (Gen. 206 ). 
The Rabbis illustrate this in the following way: “It 
is to be compared to a strong man riding on a horse. 
But there was a child lying on the road which was thus 
in danger of being run over. But the man drove the 
horse so that it avoided the child. The praise in this 
case is certainly due to the rider, not to the horse. In 
a similar way Abimelech claimed a special merit for 
not having sinned. But God said unto him, ‘The 

1 Exod. R,y 46 4 . 2 Berachoth^ 32 a. ^ BeracJioth^ ibid. 



284 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


Yezer who causes you to sin is in my power, and it was 
I who drew thee away from sin.’ ” ‘ 

This direct interference, however, with the Evil 
Yezer seems exceptional. What was prominent in the 
mind of the Jew was first, that God, “ who is a law unto 
himself,” does not choose to make use of this preroga- 
tive of his, though the Evil Yezer evidently belongs to 
this class of creation which the Holy One, blessed be 
he, regrets to have called into existence, if one can 
say so.* “There is astonishment before me” (God 
says), “that I have created in man the Evil Yezer, 
for if I would not have created in man the Evil Yezer, 
he would not have rebelled against me.” * This regret 
of God is expressed by another Rabbi in the following 
way : “ After the Holy One, blessed be he, created this 
world he regretted the creation of the Evil Yezer, as 
it is said, ‘ O that there were such an heart in them 
that they would fear me and keep my commandments 
always ’ (Deut. 5 29). This teaches that God longs 
that Israel should labour in the Torah. From this 
thou inferrest that the authority (choice) of man is given 
unto him ; therefore if he does what he is commanded, 
he merits to receive reward, as it is said, ‘ That it might 
be well with them and their children for ever’ (Deut. 
5 26).” ^ Apparently, the world is so constituted that 
man should be a hybrid of angel and beast with the 

* Gen. R., 52 7 . Cf. Exod. R., 21, and P. K., p. 176 b. 

2 Sukkah^ 52 Cf. S, E,y p. 63. 

® Gen. 27 4. * MHG.^ Deut., p. 46 Ms. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 285 

possibility of sin, which spells death, and that of con- 
quering sin, which means lifed Angels have no Evil 
Yezer and are thus spared from jealousy, covetousness, 
lust, and other passions, but those who dwell below are 
under the temptation of the Evil Yezer, and therefore 
require a double guard of holiness to resist him.^ This 
double guard they have in the Torah, as indicated 
above ; otherwise man is a free agent. To secure this 
freedom, it would seem that God has even foregone 
his prerogative in respect of preventing sin, so that 
the bold statement of the Rabbi that everything is in the 
power of God except (the forcing upon man of) the 
fear of God, has become a general maxim, though, as is 
well known, this maxim is not without its difficulties.® 
All that God does is only in the way of warning, and 
reminding man that there is an Eye watching him, and 
that he will be responsible for his choice. “ Everything 
is seen, and freedom of choice is given . . . the shop is 
open ; and the dealer gives credit ; and the ledger lies 
open; and the hand writes; and whosoever wishes to 
borrow may come and borrow.” ^ In another place, 

^ See Ggn, i?., 14 8. See above, p. 261, note i, and below, 292. 

2 See Shabbath, 89 a ; Gen. R,, 48 11 ; Lev. R.y 24 8 and 26 6. 

^ See Berachothy 33 b ; Megillah, 25 a ; Niddah, 16 b'y Tan, 
'’TlpB, 3. Cf. Tosafoth to the passages in the Talmud. 

^ See Aboiky 3 15. Cf. Taylor, 3 24, and Bacher, Ag. Tan.y I 282. See 
also A.R.N.y 58 b. According to the version given there of this saying 
of R. Akiba, it is altogether very doubtful whether the Rabbi really 
meant to emphasise the antithesis of predestination and free will. Cf. 
Commentaries to Aboth. See also A.R.N.y 75 a and 81 by suggesting 
that the refers to man. 



286 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

the responsibility for his choice is expressed in the 
following words: “As it was said, ‘I have set before 
you life and death, blessing and cursing’ (Deut. 30 19 ), 
Israel might perhaps say, ‘Considering that the Holy 
One, blessed be he, placed before us two ways, the 
way of life and the way of death, we might go in any 
of these which we like,’ therefore it is further said, 
‘Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live’ 
(Deut., ibid.).”'- Life is identical with the good way. 
Deut. 30 16 is paraphrased, “ Behold, I have set before 
you this day the way of life, which is the good way, 
and the way of death, which is the bad way.” * The 
sin of Adam, indeed, consisted in the fact that he 
made choice of the evil. The Omnipresent placed 
before him two ways, the one of death and the one of 
life, and he (Adam) chose the way of death.® The 
same complaint is made of other transgressors in his- 
tory, of whom it is said, “He setteth himself in a way 
that is not good” (Ps. 366). They walk in iniquity 
and meditate iniquity: they have two ways, the one 
for good and the one for evil. And so Solomon said, 
“Who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the 
ways of darkness.” For indeed the heart was created 
to speak truth, but your heart works wickedness; the 
hands were created to accomplish goodness and right- 
eousness, and you do violence and robbery, and so the 

1 See Sifre, 86 a. Cf. Tan., HKI, § 3. 

2 See Pseudo-Jonathan to this verse. 

® Mechiltay 33 a, Cf, Gen, P,, 20 6 and references. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 287 

blind walk in the evil way and the open-eyed ones 
walk in the way of goodd 

The verse, again, “Surely he scorneth the scorners; 
but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (Prov. 3 34 ), is 
interpreted, he who desires to contaminate himself 
they open unto him, he who desires to purify himself 
they aid him (from heaven). “For indeed things de- 
filing do not come upon man unless he turned his 
mind to them and became defiled by them,” whilst 
God increases the strength of the righteous that they 
may do his will, but he that guards himself against sin 
for three times, has the promise that henceforth God 
will guard him ^ In different words, the same thought 
is expressed in another place, “In the way in which 
a man chooses to walk, they guide him (or allow him 
to walk). This is to be derived from the Torah, where 
it is written (with regard to Balaam), first, ‘Thou 
shalt not go with them’ (Num. 25 12), and then, ‘Rise 
up and go with them’ {ibid. 20); from the Prophets, 
where it is said, ‘I am the Lord, thy God, which 
teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way 
that thou shouldst go’ (Isa. 48 17 ); and from the 
Hagiographa, where it is said, ‘Surely, he scorneth 
the scorners; but he giveth grace unto the lowly’ 
(Prov. 3 35). ” * 

A peculiar paraphrase of the verses quoted above from 

1 A/. T., 36 8 and 58 2; Exod. R., 30 20. 

2 Shabbaih, 104 a. See also T, K,y a\ P. K.y i6i a\ and jer^ 

Kiddushin, 61 d. ^ Makkothy 10 b. 



288 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Deuteronomy (30 is), we have in the following passage 
taken from a later Midrash: “Rabbi Eliezer said, ‘I 
heard with my ears the Lord of Hosts speaking. And 
what did he say? “Behold, I have set before you this 
day the life and the good, death and the evil.” 
The Holy One, blessed be he, said, “Behold, these 
two ways I have given to Israel, the one for good and 
the one for evil: that of good is of life, that of evil 
is of death.” That of good branches off in two ways: 
of righteousness and of loving-kindness: Elijah is 
placed in the middle. And when a man is about to 
enter upon them, he exclaims and says, “ Open ye the 
gates, that the righteous nation . . . may enter in” 
(Isa. 26 2). . . . But that of the evil has four doors: 
upon each door seven guardians are seated : four 
within and three without. Those outside are merciful 
angels. . . . And when he is about to enter in the 
first door, the merciful angels meet him first and say 
unto him, “Why dost thou want to enter into this 
fire, among the wicked and the coals? Listen unto 
us and do repentance. . . .” When he comes to the 
second door, they say unto him, “Behold, thou hast 
already passed in through the first door, do not enter 
into the second ! Why dost thou want to be removed 
from the Torah of God, that they call thee ‘unclean,’ 
and flee from thee?” . . . When he comes to the third 
door, they tell him, “Thou hast already passed the 
second door ! Why come into the third ? Why wilt 
thou be wiped out from the book of life? . . . 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


289 


Listen unto us and return!” When he reaches the 
fourth door, they say unto him, “Thou hast passed 
already the third door ! do not come into the fourth 
door 1 . . . Thou hast not listened and stayed thy 
steps hitherto . . . the Holy One, blessed be he, for- 
gives the sins and pardons, and says every day, ‘ Return, 
ye backsliding children!’” If he listens unto them, 
well ; if not, woe unto him and to his star.’ ” ‘ 

The quoted passage, with the constant reminder 
coming from the angels of mercy, brings us back to 
the idea of grace, or the thought of man standing in 
need of the aid of heaven in his struggle with Yezer. 
Besides the passages given above, we may add here the 
following statement, “Every day the Yezer of man 
assaults him and endeavours to kill him, and but 
for the Holy One, blessed be he, who helps man, he 
could not resist him.” * It may be that it was this 
feeling of man’s comparative helplessness in such a 
condition which wrung the cry from the Rabbi, “Woe 
unto me of my {Evil) Yezer and woe unto me of my 
Yozer (Creator).”* But man has to show himself 
worthy of this grace, inasmuch as it is expected that 
the first effort against the Evil Yezer should be made on 
his part, whereupon the promise comes that Yezer will be 
finally removed by God. Thus with reference to the 

^ P. R. E., ch. 15. Cf. the commentary of bm. Cf. Mr. C. G. 
Montefiore, Rabbinic Conception of Repentance^ Jewish Quarterly 
Review^ v. 16, pp. 209-257. 

2 Sukkahy 52 ® See Berachothy 61 a, 

u 



290 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Scriptural verse, “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy 
God; for thou hast stumbled by tliine iniquity” (Hos. 
14 1), the Rabbis remark that it is to be compared to a 
huge rock that was placed on the crossways, on which 
men used to stumble; whereupon the king said unto 
them, “Chip it off little by little until the hour 
comes when I will remove it altogether.” ‘ Another 
version of the same saying is, “Israel said before the 
Holy One, blessed be he, ‘Master of the world, thou 
knowest the power of the Evil Yezer, which is very 
hard.’ Whereupon the Holy One, blessed be he, said 
unto them, ‘Move the stone a little in this world, 
and I will remove it from you in the next world, as it 
is said, “Cast up, cast up the highway; gather out 
the stones” (Isa. 62 10), whilst in another place it is 
said, “Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take 
up the stumbling-block of ray people”’ (Is. 57 14).” * 

The struggle with the Evil Yezer will cease with 
the advent of the Messiah, “when the Holy One, blessed 
be he, will bring the Evil Yezer and kill him in the 
presence both of the righteous and of the wicked.” 
To the righteous he will appear in the shape of a big 
mountain, and they will cry and will say, “How were 
we able to subdue such an obstacle?” In the eyes of 
the wicked, he will resemble a thin hair, and they will 
cry and say, “O that we were not strong enough to 
defeat such an insignificant impediment !” ® In another 

^ P. A'., 165 a. ® Num. R., 15 lo. Cf. Tan. B., 4 ae a. 

Sukkahy 52 a. Cf. also 48 11 and 89 1 ; Rxod, JR.y 41 7 

and 46 4, and Num. 176; Deut. R,y 2 so and 6 14 ; P, R.y 29 a. 



VICTORY OVER EVIL YEZER 


291 


place, the removal of the Yezer from the world is 
described as follows: “If your scattered ones will be 
in the end of the heaven, from there the word of the 
Lord your God will gather you through Elijah the 
High Priest, and from there he will bring you near 
through the hands of the King Messiah. And the 
word of the Lord your God will bring you to 
the land which your fathers inherited, and you shall 
inherit it; and he will do you good, and multiply you 
above your fathers. And the Lord your God will 
remove the folly of the hearts of your children, for he 
will make the Evil Yezer cease from the world, and 
will create the Good Yezer, who will counsel you to 
love the Lord your God with all your hearts, and all 
your souls, that your lives may last forever. ” ‘ 

Only once in history Israel had a presentiment of 
these Messianic times. When Israel (on the occasion 
of the Revelation on Mount Sinai) heard the command- 
ment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” 
(Exod. 20 3), the Evil Yezer was uprooted from their 
hearts; but when they came to Moses and said unto 
him, “Our master Moses, become thou the messenger 
between us (Israel and God), as it is said, ‘ Speak thou 
with us . . . but let not God speak with us lest we 
die’ (Exod. 2019), the Evil Yezer came back at once 
in his place.” They came again to Moses and said, 
“Our master Moses, we wish that he (God) should 
reveal himself again unto us.” He answered them, 

1 Pseudo-Jonathan^ Deut., 30 4 , 



292 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


“This is impossible now (but it will take place in the 
future to come).” ‘ Every separation from God, though 
not with the intention of sin, but with the purpose of 
establishing an intermediary, is, as we see, considered 
as the setting up of another God, who is the cause of 
sin; whilst on the other hand, it is suggested that it is 
by the conquering of the Evil Yezer that man enters into 
close communion with God. Thus Lev. 9 6 is para- 
phrased, “Remove the Evil Yezer from your heart and 
the Divine Presence will at once be revealed to you.” ^ 
But it is this struggle on the part of man which places 
him above the angels. “The angels said in the pres- 
ence of the Holy One, blessed be he, ‘Master of the 
world, why are we not allowed to intone our song here 
in heaven (in the praise of God) before Israel sing their 
song below on earth?’ And the Holy One, blessed be 
he, answered to them, ‘How shall you say it (the song) 
before Israel? Israel have their habitation on earth; 
they are born of women, and the Evil Yezer has domin- 
ion among them, and nevertheless they oppose the 
Yezer and declare my unity every day, and proclaim 
me as King every day, and long for my Kingdom and 
for the rebuilding of my Temple.’” ® 

1 Cani. jR.f 12. ^ Pseudo-Jonathan^ Lev. 9 6. 

® See Friedmann, p. 56. See above, p. 91, note 2. 



XVII 

FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 
WITH GOD 

The various aspects of the doctrine of atonement 
and forgiveness as conceived by the Rabbis may be 
best grouped round the following Rabbinic passage: 

They asked Wisdom (Hagiographa), ^ What is the pun- 
ishment of the sinner ? ’ Wisdom answered, ‘ Evil pur- 
sues sinners’ (Prov. 1321). They asked Prophecy, 
‘What is the punishment of the sinner?’ Prophecy 
answered, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezek. 
184). They asked the Torah, ‘What is the punish- 
ment of the sinner?’ Torah answered, ‘Let him bring 
a guilt-offering and it shall be forgiven unto him, as 
it is said, “And it shall be accepted for him to make 
atonement for him”’ (Lev. i 4 ). They asked the 
Holy One, blessed be he, ‘What is the punishment of 
the sinner?’ The Holy One, blessed be he, answered, 
‘Let him do repentance and it shall be forgiven unto 
him, as it is said, “Good and upright is the Lord: 
therefore will he teach sinners in the way”’ (Ps. 258) — ■ 
that isj that he points the sinners the way that they 

293 



294 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC TSEOLOGY 

should do repentance.” ‘ It need hardly be remarked 
that to the Rabbi the whole of the Bible was the word 
of God, and he could not thus fairly have seen a con- 
tradiction between the dictum of the Holy One, blessed 
be he, and the dicta of the Torah and those of the 
“Prophets of truth and righteousness.” Besides, it 
could not have escaped the Rabbi that both the Torah 
and the Prophets have passages enough insisting upon 
the importance of repentance. Again, sacrifices, as we 
shall see presently, according to the Rabbis are always 
accompanied by repentance, whilst the chief function 
of repentance is limited to such cases as those 
in which sacrifices are of no avail. What the Rabbi 
really meant is, that forgiveness is achieved in 
various ways, through suffering and death, through 
atonement of sacrifices, but more prominently through 
repentance, which latter is the most divine aspect of 
the three. It should be premised that the prerogative 
of granting pardon is entirely in the hands of God, 
every mediator being excluded from this prerogative; 
“ for he will not pardon your transgressions,” being a 
mere messenger to accomplish what he is bidden to 
do. And so David said, “Master of the world, wilt 
thou deliver me into the hand of an angel who wilt 
not lift up his countenance? Forgiveness is with 

^ See /er, Makkoth, 31 and P. A", 158 b. The texts are in both 
places defective, but they supplement each other. Cf. Yalkut Machiri 
to Ps. 25 8, reproducing the passage from Jer, Makkoth in the order of 
Torah, Prophecy, Hagiographa, and God, adding also between Prophets 
and Hagiographa David, with a reference to Ps. 104 as. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 295 


thee (God), as it is said, ‘But there is forgiveness 
with thee’ (Ps. 1304).”* David also prayed, “Let 
my sentence come from thy Presence (Ps. 171); do 
thou judge me, and deliver me not into the hands of 
an angel, or a seraph, or a cherub, or an ofan, for 
they are all cruel,” as indeed they do object to the 
acceptance of the penitents altogether.* Indeed, God 
is desirous of acquitting his creatures and not of declar- 
ing them guilty. When the Holy One, blessed be he, 
said unto Moses, “What is my profession (mJXilK) ?” he 
answered, “Thou art merciful and gracious and long- 
suffering and abundant of goodness.” * When they 
sin and provoke his anger, the Holy One, blessed be 
he, seeks for one to plead on their behalf and paves 
the way for him.^ 

As sacrifice as a means of atonement is a promi- 
nent feature both in the Torah and in Rabbinic litera- 
ture, it will perhaps be best here to treat first of this 
aspect. It should be remarked that sacrifices are, 
as just hinted at, very limited in their efficacy as a 
means of atonement and reconciliation. Thus with 
reference to Lev. 4 1, “ If a soul shall sin through igno- 

^ See Tan. B.y 2 44 by text and notes. Cf. Sanhedriny 38 by the 
references there to Exod. 23 21. Cf. above, p. 41, text and notes. 

2 See Ag, Ber.y ch. 9. See also below, pp. 319 and 321. Cf. 5 . E.y 
p. 109. See also Hoffmann’s remark. Das Buck LeviticuSy 1186, that 
whilst it is the priest who atones, JnDn the pardon comes from 

God, nboji. 

8 See Yalkut to Num. 148 and Job, § 907, reproduced from the 
Yelamdenu. 

4 Tan,y 8. Cf. P, R.y ibid. 



296 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


ranee,” the general rule is laid down, “ One brings a 
sin-offering for sins committed in ignorance, but brings 
no sin-offering for sins committed wilfully,” which rule 
is also applied to sin-offerings/ In another place, with 
reference to Prov. 21 2, it is pointed out that the superi- 
ority of practising the works of charity and justice 
over sacrifices consists in this, that whilst the atoning 
effect of the former extends also to the sins committed 
wilfully, that of the latter is confined only to sins com- 
mitted unintentionally/ It is further to be noticed that 
the great majority of sacrifices are largely confined 
to matters ritual and ceremonial, and certain other 
transgressions relating to Levitical impurity ; whilst all 
those sins which concern a person and which fall 
mostly under the heading of moral laws could not be 
atoned without proper restitution.® Lastly, it is to be 
remarked, that sin- and guilt-offerings, according 
to the opinion of the majority of the Rabbis, are 
accompanied by repentance and by a confession 
of sins on the part of the man who brings the sacri- 
fices.'* The injunction is, “ Be not like the fools who 
bring a sacrifice for their offences, but turn not from 

^ See Kerithoth^ g a; T, K., Sifre, 32 

2 Deut. R.y 5 3. See commentaries. 

^ See Maimonides, ch. i and 9, regarding the cases in 

which a sin- or guilt-ofifering is brought. 

^ See Shebuothy 13 ^ ; Kerithothy 7 a ; Tosephta Yomay p. 190 (§ 9). 
Cf. also Si/re, 2 a, with regard to Confession. See also Maimonides, 
nSItrn, I., and Hoffmann, Das Buck Leviticus, I., p. 202. Cf. also 
below, p. 337, note i. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 297 


the evil deeds which they have in their hands, and are 
not accepted in grace.” ‘ 

A main condition in the sacrificial service aptly de- 
scribed sometimes in contradistinction to prayer as the 
“service of deeds” is the purity of intention and the 
singleness of purpose with which the sacrifice is brought. 
It has to be brought with the intention “of giving 
calmness of spirit for the sake of him who created the 
world.” Quantity is of no consideration, considering 
that both the burnt -offering of an animal and the burnt- 
offering of a mere bird form a sweet savour unto 
the Lord (Lev. i 9 and 17 ). “This is to teach,” as the 
Rabbis proceed to say, “that both he who increases (his 
offering) and he who diminishes his offering are 
alike pleasing unto the Lord, provided each directs his 
mind toward heaven.” ^ From another place, it would 
almost seem as if it were the less costly sacrifice that is 
the more acceptable. It is with reference to the circum- 
stance that the term used of the sacrifice con- 

sisting in a ram (Lev. i i3) is omitted at the sacrifice 
consisting of a bullock (Lev. ibid., 9 ). On this the 
Rabbis remark, “Let no man think, ‘I will do things 
ugly and things unworthy, but will afterwards bring 
a bullock which has much flesh and cause it to be 
brought upon the altar.’ How ! will God respect per- 

^ Targum, Eccles. 4 17 ; cf. Berachoih., 23 a. 

2 See T, K.f 8 b and 9 b. See also Zebachim^ 46 b, Cf. Hoffmann 
as above, p. 92. The words calmness of spirit are a sort of para- 
phrase of the Hebrew equivalent, PlIT’D usually rendered into Eng- 
lish by “ sweet savour.” Cf, above, p. 160. 



298 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


sons? ‘But let man do good deeds and devote him- 
self to the study of the Torah and bring the lean ram 
. . . and I shall have mercy with him and accept his 
repentance.’” ^ If the sacrifice is not brought with the 
intention of pleasing God, it is reckoned unto them as 
if they have brought it only for their own purposes.^ 
Indeed, it would seem that according to the Rabbis the 
only raison d'etre for sacrifices is man’s compliance 
with God’s will, who prescribed this order of service. 
Thus, with reference to Num. 28 2, it is remarked, “ It 
is a calmness of spirit for me, I, who commanded it 
and my will was done.” The Rabbi proceeds then to 
prove that the sacrifices have not the purpose of pro- 
viding the Holy One, blessed be he, with food, and 
quotes the well-known verses of the 50th Psalm, and 
concludes to the effect: “But why did God say sacri- 
fice unto him, in order to accomplish his will?”® 

1 See S. E.f pp. 36 and 38, and Lev. R., 2 12. The term (to 

bring near) is interpreted to mean the closer communion with God 
which is to be established by the sacrifice in question. See the com- 
mentary, IKID to this passage in I^ev. R. 

See T. K.f 12 c. Cf., however, the commentary of R. Abraham b. 
David to this passage. 

2 See Sifre, 54 a. Cf. P. A'., 56 seq., and P. R,, pp. 80, 194 a seq., 
md references, given there in the commentaries. See also Yalkut 
Machiri to Ps. 50 4 - 14 . It ought to be remarked that the reading in 

the concluding sentence of our passage in the Sifre is not certain. Ac- 
cording to the A/achiriy this sentence reads to the effect that, “ Indeed, 
God is in no need of sacrifices, but only told man to sacrifice unto 
him in order to do his (man’s) will,” which reading received some 
support from P. A’., 195 where it reads that “the sacrifices were 
only instituted for thy (man’s) atonement and honour,” Neverthe- 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


299 


The atoning effect of sacrifices differs with the vari- 
ous sacrifices. The sin-offering brings complete recon- 
ciliation, whilst others have only the power of partial 
atonement or of suspending the judgement of God.* 
Interesting is the following controversy between the 
School of Shammai and the School of Hillel with refer- 
ence to the “continual burnt -offering ” consisting of 
two lambs (Num. 28 3 , seq.). According to the School 
of Shammai, “they only subdue the sins of Israel,” 
as it is said, “He will subdue our iniquities; and thou 
wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” 
(Micah 7 19 ), but the School of Hillel teaches that, 
“Everything which is subdued (or sunk) may, in the 
end, come to the surface,” but the name of this sacri- 
fice means that the two lambs have the effect to wash 
away the sins of Israel.^ It is in this way, it is 

less I am not inclined to think that the Rabbis entertained any such 
rationalistic views as those with regard to sacrifices. Excepting the 
well-known passage in Lev. R.y 22 8, the meaning of which is, however, 
very doubtful, there is nothing to prove that they in any way depre- 
cated it. Cf. Hotfmann, Das Buck LeviticuSy pp. 79-92. On the other 
hand, the facility with which the Rabbis adapted themselves after the 
destruction of the Holy Temple to the new conditions must impress one 
with the conviction that the sacrificial service was not considered abso- 
lutely indispensable. 

1 Cf. Hoffmann, ibid.y pp. 79-92. About sacrifices atoning only 
partially or having only suspending power, n*?iri, see Yomay 85 by text 
and commentaries. 

2 P. K.y 61 ^ ; P, R.y a and commentaries. The Beth Shammai 

take the word as if it were written with a t2^, thus meaning 

“ suppressing or “ subduing,” and corresponding to 12 ^ 133 '’ of Micah. 
The Beth ILillel take the word as if it would have a D instead 

of a ybf which would thus mean “ washing” and refer to Jeremiah, 4 14 . 



300 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

pointed out, that the man living in Jerusalem could 
be considered as righteous, considering that the con- 
tinual offering of the morning atoned for the trans- 
gressions of the night, and the continual offering of the 
afternoon atoned for the transgressions of the day/ 

The continual offering was a communal offering, 
nor is there in the Bible ascribed to it any atoning 
power; but there is a marked tendency in Rabbinic 
literature to bestow on all sacrifices, even such as the 
burnt-offering and the peace-offering, some sort of 
atoning power for certain classes of sins, both of com- 
mission and omission, for which the Bible ascribes no 
sacrifice at all/ We find, further, that they ascribed 
an atoning power to the vestments of the high priests. 
All such passages have to be taken cum grano salis ; 
they are in no way meant to relieve the indi- 
vidual from his duty to perform or to refrain from 
certain actions, nor from any punishment or fine con- 
nected with the transgression in question, be it of a 
prohibitive or affirmative nature. Such atonements, 
especially those connected with the vestments of the 
high priests or with communal offerings, extend 
chiefly to the community, which, in accordance with 
the Rabbinic high conception of the close solidarity 

1 See Pseudo-Jonathan to Num. 28 4 ; P, K,^ 55 ^ > and P. R. 78 b, 

2 See above, p. 226, with regard to the function of the burnt-offering, 
which atones for the evil meditations of the heart. According to 
others, it atones for failing to accomplish the affirmative laws of the 
Bible, See Arachin^ 16 a, with regard to incense. See also Tan, 
mam, 15. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


of Israel, was greatly responsible for the sins of the 
individual, but practically helpless to prevent them. 
Following, as it seems, the precedent of the expiatory 
ceremony of the heifer beheaded in the valley in the 
case of unknown murder (Deut. 21 1-9), they also came 
to perceive in almost every object connected with the 
sanctuary or the high priest as many symbolic atone- 
ments protecting the community against the conse- 
quences of sins beyond its ken and its power to interfere.* 

The Day of Atonement, with its various atoning 
functions, is also, as is well known, largely the means of 
protection for the community, and is chiefly concerned 
with sins connected with Levitical impurity. Accord- 
ing to the Rabbis, the atoning effect of the scapegoat 
(Lev. 16 21) extends also to the individual, and expiates 
also for other “ transgressions of the Law, the light and 
the heavy ones, committed intentionally or uninten- 
tionally, knowingly or unknowingly, of an affirmative 
or prohibitive nature, punished by excision from the 
community or even by capital punishment.” ^ It is 

1 See J, T, Yoma, 44 d ; Arackin, 1$ a ; Zebachim, 88 b, text and 
commentaries ; Lev, 10 6 , and Cant. R.y 4 4. Some sort of a prece- 
dent is given in the diadem on the forehead of the high priest, to 
which an atoning efficacy is ascribed in the Scriptures. See Exod. 
28 88. Cf. also Epstein’s commentary, nD'’bn n^in, to Exod. 29 1. 
The explanation given in the text here is that suggested by certain 
commentators of the Talmud, which is undoubtedly the only true one, 
though the Agadic expressions are very vague and not always 
consistent. 

2 See Shebuothy 2 by Mishnah and Gemaray 2 b and 6 <5 to 14 
Cf. Yomay 85 by Mishnah; T» K,y 82^. The distribution of the vari- 



302 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


further to be noticed that, according to the Rabbis, 
it is the Day of Atonement that atones “even when 
there is no sacrifice and no goat,” it being the day 
itself which has this efficacy, independent of the sacri- 
ficial worship/ But, on the other hand, this efficacy 
is subject to the following two important conditions: 
first, that it has to be accompanied by repentance on 
the part of those who are meant to profit by it ; ^ and, 
further, that in matters between man and man the 

ous atonements over the various sacrifices brought on the Day of Atone- 
ment and other festivals and the particular function of each sacrifice is 
one of the most complicated subjects in Rabbinic literature, and is dis- 
cussed at great length by different schools both in the Talmud of 
Babylon, and the Talmud of Jerusalem of the Tractates just named. 
Briefly stated, it comes to this, that all the sacrifices brought by the 
congregation CniiSSC) on new moons and the various festivals which 
the Scriptures describe as a sin-offering or as intended to make atone- 
ment (cf. Lev. 23 19 ; and Num. 28 15. 22. 29 ; 29 4. 9. 16. 19. 22. 26. 28. 81. 
84. 38) are limited in their efficacy to Levitical impurity. This is also 
the case with the various sin-offerings brought on the Day of Atone- 
ment, as detailed in Lev., ch. 16. An exception is made with reference 
to the scapegoat, whose atonement extends to all possible cases. See 
especially 'J'osephta Shebuoth^ p. 445, where the importance of Levitical 
purity is proved by the fact that any breach against it was atoned for 
by not less than thirty-two sacrifices every year. Cf. also Maimonides, 
mjJtr, 3 9 and 1 1 9. See also Maimonides, i 2. For the state- 

ment of Maimonides, that the scapegoat atones in lighter transgressions 
even without repentance, see pK ‘’ntS by R. Eleazar Rokeach (in 
Mishneh Torahy ed. Warsaw, 1900), that it refers only to cases when 
the person remained ignorant of his sin, I?nn 

1 See T, K,y 83 a. Cf. also Jer. Yomay 45 c. 

2 This is the general opinion of the Rabbis. See T, K,y 102 a ; /er» 

Yomay 45 b ; and B, T.y ibid,y 85 A Cf. Maimonides, ch. 3. 

The contrary opinion of R. Judah, the Patriarch, forms the only excep- 
tion and stands entirely isolated. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


303 


Day of Atonement loses its atoning power until proper 
restitution is made to the wronged person. “Matters 
between thee and the Omnipresent they forgive thee; 
matters between thee and thy fellow-man they forgive 
not until thou hast appeased thy neighbour.” ‘ In such 
matters touching one’s fellow-man God neither respects 
persons nor will he by any means clear the guilty.^ But 
apparently, in wronging one’s fellow-man, there is also 
an offence against the majesty of God. Whence the for- 
mula in the case of asking forgiveness for the injury done 
to a man who died before satisfaction could be given 
him is, “ I have sinned against the Lord, the God of 
Israel, and against the man I have injured.” ^ Man is 
thus also in need of the pardon of heaven, besides the 
achieved reconciliation from his fellow-man or through 
the worldly tribunal. Through these conditions, the 
Day of Atonement becomes practically the great Day of 
Repentance, the culmination of the Ten Days of Re- 
pentance. It brings with itself purification, the Father 
in Heaven maldng white the sin committed by the son, 
by his forgiveness and pardon.'* “ It is the Day of the 
Lord, great and very terrible,” inasmuch as it becomes 
a day of judgement,® but also the Day of Salvation.® 

^ T, K,y 83 a\ Yoma, 85 a, 

2 See Sifre Zuta as reproduced by Yalkut to Pent.^ § 71 1, and 
Num. P.f 1 1 6. Cf. Pos/i llashanahy 1 7 b. The Rabbinic interpretation 
deals there with the seeming contradiction between Num. 6 26 and 
Deut. 10 17 . 

® See YomUy 87 a. See also Mishnak, Baba Kamay 8 7 . 

< M. T., 9 4. 6 See Tan., nbtT’l, 2. 6 175 



304 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


"Israel is steeped in sin through the Evil Yezer in their 
body, but they do repentance and the Lord forgives 
their sins every year, and renews their heart to fear 
him.” ‘ “ On the Day of Atonement I will create you 

a new creation.” * It is thus a penitential day in the 
full and in the best sense of the word. 

Death and suffering may be viewed either as a 
punishment satisfying the claims of justice or as an 
atonement, bringing pardon and forgiveness and recon- 
ciling man with God. The first aspect finds its most 
emphatic and most solemn expression in the following 
Tannaitic statement: The born are to die; and the 
dead to revive; and the living to be judged; for to 
know, and to notify, and that it may be known, that he 
is the framer, and he the creator, and he the discemer, 
and he the judge, and he the witness, and he the com- 
plainant, and he is about to judge, with whom there is 
no iniquity, nor forgetfulness, nor respect of persons, 
nor taking of bribe, for all is his, and know that all is 
according to reckoning. Let not thine Yezer assure 
thee that the grave is a place of refuge for thee ; for 
perforce thou wast framed, and perforce thou wast 
bom, and perforce thou livest, and perforce thou diest, 
and perforce thou art about to give account and reck- 
oning before the King of the king of kings, the Holy 
One, blessed be he.® But “ the judgement (to proceed 
with another Tannaitic statement of R. Akiba) is a 

1 Exod. 16 . P, 169 a, 

® Abothy 4 22. Cf. Taylor y 4 8I-32 ; Bacher, Ag, Tan.y 2 602. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


judgement of truth.” ^ And when Pappos, on the au- 
thority of Job 23 13 , expressed views implying a certain 
arbitrariness on the part of God because of his being 
One (alone), he was severely rebuked by R. Akiba, the 
latter Rabbi interpreting the meaning of the verse men- 
tioned, “ There is nothing to answer to the words of 
him by whose word the world was called into existence, 
for he judges all in truth and everything in judgement 
(justice).” * The same thought is somewhat differently 
expressed by another Rabbi, in allusion to Deut. 32 4 : 
“ ' He is the Rock, his work is perfect : for all his ways 
are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, 
just and right is he.’ His work is perfect towards all 
who come into the world (mankind), and none must al- 
lege that there is the slightest injustice. Nobody must 
brood upon and ask, why was the generation of the 
deluge swept away by water; why was the generation 
of the Tower of Babel scattered over all the world ; 
why were the generations of Sodom and Gomorrah con- 
sumed by fire and brimstone ; why was Aaron found 
worthy to be endowed with the priesthood ; why was 
David worthy to be presented with the kingdom; and 
why were Korah and his congregation swallowed up by 
the earth? . . . He sits in judgement against every 

1 Abotkf 3 16. 

2 See Mechiltay 33 a ; Cant R., l ft. The parallel in Tan. B., 2 4 6, 
to the effect that God occupies only the position of the president of the 
heavenly court composed of angels, seems to be a younger paraphrase 
of the statement of R. Akiba. See Exod, R.y 6 l. Cf. Bacher, 
Tan.,, 3 26. 


X 



3 o 6 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


one and gives every one what is due to him.” ^ It is 
with reference to the same verse (Deut. 32 4) that a 
later Rabbi makes the remark to the effect : He who 
says the Holy One, blessed be he (or the Merciful 
One), is loose (or lax) in his dealing out justice, let 
his life become loose. He is long-suffering but collects 
his (debt) in the cnd.^ In another place the same 
thought is expressed in the words : God says, “ I am 
the merciful one, but also a judge to punish.” ® 

It should, however, be remarked that the same 
R. Akiba, who insists on the strict (true) judgement of 
God, teaches also that the world is judged by grace.^ 

^ See Si/re, 133 a. Cf. also D'1P"1“10 ed. Werthheimer, p. 6 S, 
with reference to Job 1 1 7. 

2 See Baba Kama^ a ; Jer, ShekalUriy 48 c/; M, T,y 10 8, text 
and notes. 

^ Gen. B.y 166. 

^ Aboth, 3 15 . Cf. Taylor, 3 24. It should be remarked that this 
sentence is followed in the editions by the words 

(“everything is according to the majority of the actions^’). This 
reading receives some support from Kiddushiny 40 and Eccles. 7?., 
10 1, that both the world and the individual are judged according to 
the majority of good actions. Cf. Bacher, Ag. Tan.y i 282. But there 
are also other readings, as “ But not everything is according to the 
majority of deeds ; ” or merely, “ But not according to the deed.’’ Cf. 
Taylor, ibid.y and his Appendix, p. 153. From Jer. Kiddushiny 61 dy 
it would seem that this insistence upon a majority of good actions 
applies only to the judgement in the next world, but in this world even 
one good action can save a man. If we should assume that this repre- 
sents also the opinion of R. Akiba, there would be no real contradic- 
tion. Cf. A. R. N.y 81 by and the commentary to Aboth in Machsor 
VUriy p. 514, where Aboth 3 15 is explained in the way just indicated. 
Cf. above, p. 15, note i. 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


But it would seem that this grace is only confined to 
this world. In the next world there is only strict 
justice prevailing. Even Israel, apparently, enjoying 
otherwise so many privileges, is not exempt from the 
punishment awaiting the sinners in the next world. 
When Moses ascended from hell, he prayed, “ May 
it be thy will . . . that thou savest thy people Israel 
from this place.” But the Holy One, blessed be he, 
said unto him, “ Moses, there is not with me respect 
of persons, nor taking of bribe. He who will do good 
will be in the Paradise, he who will do evil will be 
in hell, as it is said, ‘ I the Lord search the heart, I 
try the reins, even to give every man according to his 
ways, and according to the fruit of his doings ’ (Jer. 
17 10).” ‘ But even in this world, “ when man secs 
that suffering comes upon him, he has to examine his 
actions,” to see whether it has not come as a punish- 
ment for his sins. Likewise is death considered, in 
the majority of cases at least, as a punishment for 
the sin of the individual. For God is not suspected 
to execute judgement without justice.^ 

But besides satisfying the claims of a just God or of 
justice, death and suffering also atone and reconcile 

1 See '’D^, ed. Werthheimer, 4 29 a. Against this view are 

Cant. A*,, 8 8 ; Exod. E., 30 le. Cf. also AI. Z*., 15 24, text and notes, 
but the view given in the text appears to be the older one. Cf. Sifrey 
12 by text and notes 5 and 6, and Num. R.y ii 7. 

2 See Berachothy 5 a and b. For the difficulties in the way of this 
theory and the manner in which the Rabbis tried to solve it, see 
Schechter, Studies in /udaisniy Essay on Retribution, p. 259 seq. 



3 o 8 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

man with God. They form, according to the Rabbis, 
two of the four (or the three) kinds of atonement taught 
by the Scriptures.' Self-inflicted suffering, such as fast- 
ing, assumes naturally the aspect of sacrifices. Hence 
the prayer of a Rabbi after a fast that the fat and blood 
which he lost through the fast should be accounted to 
him as a sacrifice on the altar, and have the same effect 
as the sacrifice in the days of yore when the Holy Tem- 
ple was in existence.^ This was considered as a kind 
of self-sacrifice, or rather sacrifice of his soul,* but this 
notion was not entirely limited to voluntary suffering. 
Every loss of property sustained by man, as well as 
every kind of physical suffering which he happens to 
undergo, are considered an atonement. “A man 
stumbled in a transgression, and became guilty of death 
by heaven (in contradistinction of the worldly tri- 
bunal). By what means shall he atone ? His ox died, 
his chickens went astray, or he stumbled on his finger 
so that blood came out — by these losses and suffer- 
ing, his debts (to the account of heaven against him) 
are considered paid.” ■* Indeed, the loss of blood 

^ See Mechiltay 68^ and 69 a. A, R, N*, 44 text and notes for 
other references. The other kinds of atonement are the Day of Atone- 
ment and Repentance, but since they are all accompanied by repent- 
ance, there are practically only three kinds. The Scriptural references 
are Lev. i6 so, for the Day of Atonement, Isa. 22 14, for death, Jer. 3 22, 
for repentance, and Ps. 89 ss, for suffering. 

2 See Berackoth, 1 7 a, Cf. Af. T’., 25 8. 

® See Lev. /?., 3 4 and commentaries, 

* Seey<?r. Sotah, a\ Eccles. R,, 7 27 ; Pesachim, 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


309 


through any accident atones as the blood of a 
sacrifice. ‘ 

It is further maintained that the appearance of 
leprosy on the body of a man is the very altar of atone- 
ment.^ Hence the dictum, “Beloved is suffering, for 
as sacrifices are atoning, so is suffering atoning.” 
Nay, suffering has even a greater atoning effect than 
sacrifice, inasmuch as sacrifice affects only man’s 
property, whilst suffering touches his very self.® “Who 
caused the son to be reconciled to his father (in 
heaven), if not suffering?” * “Therefore, let man re- 
joice in suffering more than in prosperity,” for it is 
suffering through which he receives pardon and for- 
giveness.® “If thou seekest for life, hope for suffer- 
ing,” as it is said, “And reproof of chastisement (is) 
the way of life” (Prov. 6 3 ).® Indeed, the good son 
does not even pray that the suffering should cease, but 
says, “Father, continue thy chastisement.” ^ This suf- 
fering has to be a sacrifice accompanied by repentance. 
The sufferer has to accept the suffering prayerfully and 
in a spirit of submission, and has to recognise that the 
visitation of God was merited by him. Man knows well 
in his heart when weighing his deeds with the suffering 
which came upoii him that he was dealt with merci- 
fully.® Indeed, the great difference between Israel and 

^ See Chullin, 7 * Si/re, ibid. 

* See Berachoth, ^ b. ® Sifre, 73 b. 

* See Sifre, 73 b and reference given there. ^ M. T., 16. 

’’ See Minor Tractate, Semachoth, 8. ® Sifre, ibid. 



310 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the gentiles, is that the gentiles rebel when suffering 
comes upon them, and curse their gods; but Israel 
becomes humble and prays, as it is said, “I found 
trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of 
the Lord,” etc. (Ps. 11634).^ 

The atonement of suffering and death is not limited 
to the suffering person. The atoning effect extends to 
all the generation. This is especially the case with 
such sufferers as cannot either by reason of their 
righteous life or by their youth possibly have merited 
the afflictions which have come upon them. The 
death of the righteous atones just as well as certain sac- 
rifices.^ “ They are caught (suffer) for the sins of their 
generation. If there are no righteous, the children of 
the schools (that is, the innocent young children) are 
caught for the sins of their generation.” ® There are 
also applied to Moses the Scriptural words, “And he 
bore the sins of many” (Isa. 53 12), because of his offer- 
ing himself as an atonement for Israel’s sin with the 
golden calf, being ready to sacrifice his very soul for 
Israel, when he said, “ And if not, blot me, I pray thee, 
out of thy book (that is, from the Book of the Living), 
which thou hast written” (Exod. 32 32).^ This readi- 
ness to sacrifice oneself for Israel is characteristic of all 
the great men of Israel, the patriarchs and the Prophets 

1 See Mechilta^ 72 b and reference given there. Cf. T, 5 24 

2 See Moed Katon^ 28 a. 

® See Shabbathy 32 b, 

^ Sotahy 14 a, and Berachoth, 32 a» 



FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION 


3 ” 


acting in the same way, whilst also some Rabbis would, 
on certain occasions, exclaim, “ Behold, I am the atone- 
ment of Israel.” ‘ This sacrifice is, of course, volun- 
tary. But this is also the case with the sacrifice on 
the part of the children who in some mystical way are 
made to take upon themselves this surety. When 
God was about to give the Torah to Israel, Rab- 
binic legend relates that he asked for some guarantee 
that Israel will on its part fulfil the obligations which 
the Revelation will devolve upon them. Then Israel 
offered as such the patriarchs and the Prophets, but 
they were not found sufficiently free from debt (fault- 
less) to be worthy of this confidence. At last they 
offered their children, and the Holy One, blessed be 
he, accepted them willingly. But he first asked them, 
“Will you serve as surety for your parents, that they 
fulfil the Torah which I am about to give them, and 
that you will suffer in case they do not fulfil it?” 
They said, “Yes.” Then the Act of Revelation began, 
which also the children witnessed, even those who were 
still in the embryonic state, when they gave their con- 
sent to each commandment revealed. This is what 
is said, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings 
hast thou ordained strength” (Ps. 82).^ 

1 See Mechiltay 2 a ; Mishnah Negaim^ 2 1. Cf. Introduction to 
S. E,f 127. By patriarchs is understood in that place, David. Cf. 2 
Samuel 24 17. Cf. above, p. 52 seq. 

2 See M. T.f 8 ; Midrash Caiit.y I 8 and references given there. 
Cf. also above, pp. 193 and 254, 



312 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

Atoning power is also ascribed to Torah and charity. 
The descendants of Eli could find no atonement by 
sacrifice and meat-offering, but they might receive par- 
don through the occupation with the study of the 
Torah and acts of loving-kindness.^ Indeed, the Holy 
One, blessed be he, foresaw that the Holy Temple 
would be destroyed and promised Israel that the words 
of the Torah, which is likened unto sacrifices, will, 
after the destruction of the Temple, be accepted as a 
substitute for sacrifices.^ Something similar is main- 
tained with regard to acts of loving-kindness, which 
take the place of sacrifice, atoning for the sins of Israel 
after the destruction of the Temple; nay, it is even 
maintained that acts of loving-kindness or charity are 
more important than sacrifices.® Reference may be 
made here also to the atoning effect ascribed to the 
dining-table in the household of a man, which is con- 
sidered, by reason of the hospitality offered on it to the 
poor, as the altar in the Temple, on which the sacrifices 
were brought.'* The chaste woman is also likened to 
the altar; as the altar atones (for the sins of Israel), 
so she atones for her house.® 

^ Fosk Hashanah^ iS a, 

2 Tan,y '’"inK, lo. Cf. Tan. B.y 3 86 

® See A, R. N., 11 a and d, text and notes, and Sukkah, 49 b. See 
above, p. 308. 

^ Berachothy a. See, however, A. Epstein, p. 117, 

note 126. 

® Tan., nbvr\ 6. 



XVIII 


REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 

The prayer of the Psalmist, Be merciful unto me, 
O God” (Ps. 56 2), is paraphrased by the Rabbis in the 
following way, Be merciful unto me that I shall not be 
brought to fall by sin, but when I have sinned (God fore- 
fend) be merciful unto me that I may return in repent- 
ance.” In another place the same thought is expressed 
in the following way: The Holy One, blessed be he, 
says (unto man), “ I made the Evil Yezer, Be care- 
ful that he should not make thee sin ; but if he did 
make thee sin, be eager to do repentance, then I will 
forgive thy sins.” And as we have seen, repentance 
is the remedy offered by the Holy One, blessed be he, 
himself.* As it must further be clear from the preced- 
ing remarks, it is practically considered a necessary ac- 
companiment of all other modes of atonement. Indeed, 
it would seem as if repentance is the only means 
of cleaning the guilty, though God is long-suffering, 
and forgiving iniquity and transgressions.^ Its im- 

M, T., 57 1. See also ibid,, 32 : 4, See Montefiore (as above, 
p. 289, note i) on the subject. 

2 See Sifre Zuta as communicated in the name of Ben Azai in 
Num. R., 1 1 7 . Cf. Yoma, 86 a, and Midrash Prov,, 10. The interpre- 
tation is based on Exod. 34 7, where the Rabbis, in a homiletical way, 
separated the infinitive of from the verb Hpr H*!?. 

313 



314 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


portance is so great that it forms one of the things 
which preceded creation,* as a preliminary condition 
to the existence of the world. “When he drew the 
plan of the world he found that it could not stand 
(endure) until he had created repentance,” since, as 
the early commentators explained it, the nature of man 
is so constituted that he cannot well escape sin. His 
existence would therefore have proved impossible with- 
out the remedy of repentance.* In agreement with this 
explanation is another passage from a semi-mystical 
book, running thus : “ Rabbi Ishmael said, ‘ The world 
could never have existed but for the fact that repentance 
was created (first), and the Holy One, blessed be he, 
stretches out his right hand to receive penitence every 
day.’ The sages said, ‘After God thought to create 
the Evil Yezer he began to regret it, but prepared the 
cure before the aiiiiction, and created repentance. ’ ” ® 

God not only created repentance, but he continues 
to instruct mankind in repentance. “Good and up- 
right is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the 
way” (Ps. 25 8). This way is, as the Rabbis explained, 
the way of repentance which God points out to the 

^ See Gen, i 4, and Pesachim^ 54 £7, and references, especially 
M, T,y 9 11, text and note 69. 

2 See P. R, ii; cf. MHG., p. 8, and the commentary on the 
Sejer Yezirah^ of R. Jehudah Barzillai of Barcelona, pp. 88 and 96. 
Cf. also above, p. 128. 

^ Quoted by a commentary to Aboth in Ms. (in the Library of the 
Jewish Theological Seminary) forming a kind of Yalkut to this Trac* 
tate (22 a). The use of the word in the text would point to 

the Yelamdenu as the original source. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 315 

sinner/ In other places, the Rabbis speak of the 
“doors of repentance,” or “the gates of repentance,” 
which are likewise opened by God himself/ Such a 
“door” God opened to Adam after his fall, saying unto 
him, “ Do repentance,” but of this offer he did not 
avail himself; whereupon he was expelled from Para- 
dise.® Adam only learned the force of repentance from 
his son Cain, whom God established as a “mark” 
(or standard, example) for penitence.'* He then sub- 
mitted to a course of repentance and prayed, “Lord 
of the world, remove my sin from me and accept my 
repentance, so that all generations should learn that 
there is repentance and that thou hast accepted the 
repentance of those who return unto thee.” ® It is 
further recorded that God gave warning (by certain 
phenomena in nature) and opportunity for repentance 
to the generation of the deluge,® the generation of the 
Tower of Babel, ^ as well as to the men of Sodom ® in 


1 See /er. Makkoth, 31 P. K.^ 158 3 ; M. T’., 25 10 ; and YalkiU 
Machiri to this verse. Cf. Sanhedrin^ 105 a, on Isa. 28 : 26, 

2 See P, K,y 157 Detit. P., 2 12 and references. See also M. 
Griinbaum, Gesammelie Aufsatze, etc., pp. 505 seq, and 510 seq, 

^ See Gen, A\, 21 6 ; P. P,, 26 k, text and notes. 

^ See Gen. P.j 22 12 and 13 . 

^ See P, P. E.f ch. 20 ; cf. Erubin, i 2 > b and Tan,f § 9. This 

is in contradiction with another Agadic statement which describes 
Reuben, the first-born of Jacob, as the first man to do repentance. 
Cf. Gen, P., 82 11 and 84 19 . 

^ See A, P, N.y i 82 and reference given there. 

See Gen. P,, 38 9. 

® See Gen, P,, 49 6 ; cf. also Tan. HS, 18, and 1 5. 



3i6 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

spite of their open rebellion against God. A similar 
opportunity was given to Korah, Moses deferring the 
action of offering the incense which brought about the 
catastrophe until “to-morrow,” for the purpose of 
giving him and his adherents time to reconsider their 
evil behaviour and to repent. ‘ With regard to Israel, 
it is stated that the Divine Presence tarried, before 
the destruction of the Temple, on the Mount of Olives 
for not less than thirteen and a half years (after 
it removed from the Temple), proclaiming three times 
a day, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will 
heal your backslidings” (Jer. 3 22).* When the Temple 
was destroyed, God prays, “May it be my will that I 
exterminate the Evil Yezer that brings my children 
to sin, so that they do repentance and I hasten the 
rebuilding of my house and my sanctuary.” ® But this 
mercy of God is not confined to Israel, the Holy One, 
blessed be he, hoping for the nations of the world 
that they might do repentance that he should bring 
them near under his wings (by becoming proselytes).^ 
The example set by God (in praying for the regen- 
eration of the sinner) is imitated both by Moses and 
by Aaron, who prayed for the sinners in Israel that 
they might become penitents.® It is also narrated that 

^ See Num. R., 18 1 ; cf. Deut. 16 6 seq. 

* See P. K., 1 15 a, text and notes ; and Lament. R., ed. Buber, 15 
text and notes. 

* Af. T., 76 8. See text and notes. 

* See Num. R., lo l ; Cant. R., 6l l (§ 5). 

® See Sotah, 14 a, and T. K., 46 a. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 317 

the Saint Abba Hilkia had certain outlaws in his 
neighbourhood for whose death he prayed, but 
his wife prayed that they might return to repentance, 
and that her actions were approved by signs from 
heaven. ‘ 

It is further assumed that great moral catastrophes 
were almost providentially brought about with the 
purpose of setting the good example to sinners that no 
sin is so great as to make repentance impossible. As 
such examples, are cited : David, who committed the 
sin of adultery; and the whole congregation of Israel, 
the contemporaries of Moses, who worshipped the 
golden calf. Neither David nor Israel, considering 
their high moral standing, were, the Rabbis declare, 
capable of such crimes, but it was brought about against 
their own will, as just stated, to give a claim for repent- 
ance in the future both in the case of the individual, 
as David, and in the case of the whole community, 
as that of the golden calf, in which the whole of 
Israel was involved, and thus showing that there is no 
room for despair of reconciliation with God, be the 
sin never so great and all-embracing.’* Indeed, David 
became a “witness to the people,” bearing evidence to 
the power of repentance, for “ he who is desirous to do 
repentance has only to look at David.” Hence, he 

^ See Taaniih^ 23 h, Cf. Berachoth^ 10 a, the story of R. Meir and 
Berurya. 

2 See Ahodah Zarahy 4 b and 5 text and commentaries ; cf. 
Shabbathy 65 a. 



3i8 some aspects OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

is called the man that established the sublimity of 
repentance/ 

The encouragement of mankind to repentance is 
carried so far on the part of heaven that the “door” 
is opened even when this repentance is not entirely 
the expression of real remorse and regret, having been 
brought about only by pressure, and furthermore meant 
to atone for crimes of a most revolting kind. Such a 
case is particularly that of Manasseh, the son of Heze- 
kiah, the wicked King of Judah, whose reign was, 
according to the testimony of the Scriptures, one long 
series of the most atrocious crimes” (2 Kings 212 seq, 
and 2 Chron. 33 2 seq.). “When he found himself dur- 
ing his captivity in Babel, in real distress, there was 
no idol he failed to invoke. . . . But when he saw 
that they were of no help to him, he said, ‘ I remember 
that my father made me read, “When thou art in 
tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, 
even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord, thy 
God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; For the 
Lord thy God is a merciful God; he will not forsake 
thee, neither destroy thee” (Deut. 430. 31). I will now 
invoke him. If he will answer me, well ; if not, I will 
declare that all Powers are alike.’ The angels there- 
upon shut the openings of heaven and said before 
the Holy One, blessed be he, 'Shall repentance avail 

1 See M, T.y 40 2 and 51 8. Cf. Isa. 55 4. See also Moed Katon^ 
and Rashi’s commentary as given in the SpU*' pU to this passage. 
Cf, also Num, R, 18 21, text and reference given there. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 319 

for a man who placed an image in the very Hechal 
(sanctuary) ? ’ (2 Kings 217 and 2 Chron. 33 7). Then 
the Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘If I accept not 
his repentance, I thereby shut the door against 
all other penitents.’ He then dug for Manasseh’s 
repentance a special passage from below the Throne 
of Glory (over which the angels have no control) and 
through this was heard Manasseh’s supplication.” ’ 
“ Thus, if a man would tell thee that God receives not 
the penitents, behold Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, 
he will bear evidence that no creature in the world 
ever committed before me so many wicked deeds as 
he did, yet in the moment of repentance I received 
him.” ^ Some Rabbis even resented the apparently 
ancient tradition excluding Manasseh from the bliss 
of the world to come, inasmuch as it may have the 
effect to “weaken the hand of penitence,” that is, to 
make sinners despair of the efficacy of repentance.* 

Of Jeroboam it is said that the Holy One, blessed be 
he, laid hold of him and said, “ Return (in repentance), 
and I and the son of Jesse and thou shall walk together 
in Paradise.” The conceit of Jeroboam, however, 

^ See P. 162 a and 3 ; cf. Jer, Sanhedrin, 78 and B. T, 
Sanhedrin, 103^7; Lev. R., 30 3 ; Deut. R., 2 20; Ruth R., 5 14 ; 
P. R. E., ch. 43; and Targum to Chron., a. L See also Ag. Ber., ch. 9, 
and Sifre, 144 < 5 . Cf. also M. 7 ’, 4 : 5, where the statement is more 
general, but is based on the Manasseh legend. 

^ See Nu?n. R., 14 1 and references. Cf. also Gen. R,, ed. Wilna, 
Appendix on the Blessing of Jacob, p. 376, col. 2, the story there 
about Cain, ^ Sanhedrin, 103 



320 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

made him refuse God’s offer, as he was not willing to 
be second to the son of Jesse.* Naturally such a 
Teshubah as that of Manasseh, undertaken amidst suf- 
fering and through fear of punishment, is not con- 
sidered the highest degree of repentance, leaving man 
in a state of slavery, whilst the repentance undertaken 
through the motive of love reestablishes man’s child-like 
relations to his Father in Heaven.* 

This consideration, that nothing should be said or 
done which might lead to the discouragement of the 
penitent, had also an influence on certain ordinances 
of the Rabbis which were introduced for the special 
benefit of those who “returned.” Thus, in certain 
cases, the restitution of the article appropriated in a 
dishonest way was not insisted upon, the robber being 
allowed to repay its value in money. It seems that 
even for the cattle-drivers and the tax-gatherers and 
the publicans, whose repentance meets with difficulties 
(because of their plundering the community at large, 
so that they are not in a condition to make restitution 
to the wronged person), certain provisions were made 
to make their repentance possible.* The rule was 
also that they would accept sacrifice from sinners in 
Israel in order that they might return as penitents.* 

1 See Sanhedrifty 102 b, 

2 See Yomay 86 a. See also Rabbinowicz, Variae LectioneSy ad 

8 riDpn. See Eduyothy 7 9. See Baba Kamay 94 b and 95 a, 

Cf. also Maimonides, maKI nbw rr, i is. 

^ See Chullitty 5 ay and Maimonides, niDlSIpn nWD, 3 4, about the 
various modifications of this law. Cf. also B* B.y 192 a. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 321 


We find even that friendly relations were entertained 
with sinners in the hope that intercourse with saintly 
men would engender in them a thought of shame and 
repentance. Thus it is said of Aaron the High Priest, 
who “did turn many away from iniquity” (Mai. 2 6), 
when he met a wicked man he would offer him his 
greetings. When the wicked man was about to com- 
mit a sin, he would say to himself, “Woe unto me, how 
can I lift my eyes and see Aaron? I ought to be 
ashamed before him who gave me greetings.” And 
he would then desist from sin.* It was also forbidden 
to say to the penitent, “ Remember thy actions of former 
days,” such a reference to the former depraved life of 
the penitent being considered an oppression and coming 
under the Scriptural prohibition of, “Ye shall therefore 
not oppress one another : but thou shalt fear thy God : 
for I am the Lord, your God” (Lev. 25 17).^ 

The objection of the angels to the admittance of 
repentance is not confined to such extraordinary cases 
as the one of Manasseh. As it would seem, they op- 
pose repentance in general. “ When a man commits a 
transgression, the angels come and denounce him, and 
say, ‘Master of the Universe, bow down thy heavens, 
O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains and 
they shall smoke,’ etc. (that is, they demand immediate 

1 A. R. N., 24 b, Cf. Sanhedrin, 37 a, the story of R. Zera, who 
entertained certain relations with the outlaws in his neighbourhood 
for the same purpose. 

2 See Baba Mezia, 58 



322 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

satisfaction). But the Holy One, blessed be he, says, 
‘ Man may be hard for the time, but if he will do re- 
pentance, I will receive him.’” ‘ But it should be 
remarked that in other places this opposition to the 
admittance of repentance is ascribed to the Divine 
attribute of strict justice, which is overruled by the 
Divine attribute of mercy.* Nay, repentance is so be- 
loved by the Holy One, blessed be he, that he is ready 
to overrule his own Law for its sake. It is written in 
the Torah, “ When a man hath taken a wife and 
married her, and he has found some uncleanness in 
her, then let him write a bill of divorcement. . . . 
And if the later husband hate her, and write her a 
bill of divorcement, . . . her former husband which 
sent her away cannot take her again to be his wife, 
after she is defiled” (Deut. 24 1, 3, and 4). But this is 
not so with the Holy One, blessed be he, for though 
they have forsaken him and worshipped another, he 
said unto them, “ Do repentance and come back unto 
me and I will receive you.” ® It is the right hand of 
God which is stretched out to receive penitence, against 
the pleading of angels, and as we may add also against 

1 See M, T,y 94 4; see also Yalkut Machiri Ps,y a, who gives 
a better reading, which is reproduced here. 

2 See Sanhedrin, 103 a, and Pesachim, a. See also Pseudo-Jona- 
than S, E. Z,, p. 37. This is an interesting case of hypostatised attri- 
butes, to which others might be added. The subject is still in need of 
a good monograph. 

^ P, R,, 184^. Cf. Yoma, 86 b. This homily forms a paraphrase 
of Jer. 3 1. 



REPENTANCE; MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 323 


the view of the Prophets demanding punishment by 
death, and the decision of the Torah, demanding at 
least a sacrifice. The “ right hand ” represents the attri- 
bute of mercy, which is also called “the strong hand,” 
inasmuch as it has to repress the attribute of strict 
justice.^ This suggests that the admittance of repent- 
ance is an act of grace on the part of God, as forgiveness 
in general is. “There is no creature which is not in 
debt (or rather guilty) to God, but he is merciful and 
gracious and forgives the sins of the past,” when suc- 
ceeded by repentance.^ When the Holy One, blessed 
be he, said to the Torah, “Let us make man in our 
image after our likeness,” the Torah answered, “ Mas- 
ter of all worlds, the world is thine, but the men thou 
desirest to create are ‘of few days and full of trouble’ 
and will fall into the power of sin, and if thou wilt not 
defer thy anger, it is better for him (man) that he should 
not come to the world.” Then the Holy One, blessed 
be he, said to her, “Is it for naught that I am called 
long-suffering and abundant in goodness?” * “I am,” 
says God, “the same (in my attribute of mercy) before 
man sins and (the same in my attribute of mercy) after 
man has sinned, if he will do repentance.” * Indeed, 

^ See Sifre, 50 b. ^ See Exod, R,y 311. 

® See P. R. E.t ch. 12, text and notes of Loria, especially his reference 
to ch. 3, ibid. The connection of the attribute of long-suffering with 
repentance is also given in P,K.^ 161 b, with allusion to Joel 2 18 . Cf. 
Gen. I 26; Exod. 34 7; Job 8 1. 

* See Rosh Hashanak^ 17 cf. P,R.i 145. The text forms an inter- 
pretation to Exod. 34 6, referring to the two mentions of the Tetra- 



324 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


repentance is described as the good portion which God 
assigned to his world, which proved effective even in 
the case of an Ahab,‘ and the call to repentance em- 
bodied in the words of Amos, “ Seek ye me and ye shall 
live” (5 4 ), is considered as the sweet message.* The 
sinner even receives the promise that after a sincere 
repentance entered upon through the motive of love 
(of God) his very intentional sins during his unre- 
generated life will be charged unto him as so many 
merits.® 

The verse from Amos just quoted is paraphrased, 
“My children, what do I ask of you but seek me and 
you shall live.” ^ It is, as we have just seen, the sweet 
message ; but it assumes an endeavour on the part of 
man to break with his sinful past.® For, though repent- 
ance is, as just pointed out, an act of grace, there is, as 
in other such cases, a certain initiative and co-opera- 
tion expected on the part of man.® Every encourage- 
ment is given to the penitent. No false shame should 
stand in the way of the repentant in seeking reconcilia- 
tion with God, “ Said the Holy One, blessed be he, 


grammaton in that verse, which Divine Name represents, in Rab- 
binic literature, the attribute of mercy. 

1 See /er. Sanhedrin^ 78 b, I am inclined to think that the word 

should be amended to The sense then would be that repentance 

is one of God’s good gifts to the world. 

2 See CanU i?., 6 i. 

^ See Voma, 86 b. Cf. Cani» R., 6, ibid» 

^ See P, R,, 158 ^ ; cf. also ibid.^ 157 

® See Cant R,, ibid, ® See above, 289. 



REPENTANCE; MEANS OP RECONCILIATION 325 

to Jeremiah, ‘ Go and bid Israel to do repentance.’ He 
went and delivered his message. Thereupon they said 
to him, ‘With what face can we enter before his pres- 
ence? Have we not made him angry; have we not 
provoked his wrath? Are not those mountains and 
hills on which we worshipped the idols, still existing ? 
We lie down in our shame and our confusion covers 
us.’ He came back to the Holy One, blessed be he, 
and said so (repeating their answer). Then God said 
to him, ‘ Go back and tell them, “ If you return to me, 
is it not to your Father in Heaven to whom you come? 
For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first- 
born.” ’ ” ‘ Nor must man despair because of the quan- 
tity of his sins. When David, and after him Ezra, said, 
“ Our iniquities are increased over our heads and our 
trespass is grown up to the heavens,” the Holy One, 
blessed be he, answered, “Fear not because of this 
thing, even if they (the sins) reached the very heaven, 
and if you do repentance, I will forgive; and not only 
the first heaven . . . but even if they reached the very 
Throne of Glory, and if you will do repentance, I will 
receive you at once (as it is said) : ‘ O Israel, return unto 
the Lord thy God’ (Hos. 14 1). ” * In another place, the 
words “unto thy God” are interpreted to refer to the 
quality of sins, be they even of such a nature that they 
touched the very Deity itself, as, for instance, when man 

1 See P, K,y 165 a\ cf. also Jer. 3 26, 31 9, and Hosea 4 is. See 
also Tan. B., Introduction, 68 b and 69 a, 

2 See R., 155 a ; cf. Ps. 38 6; Ezra 9 6. 



326 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

denied the very root (the existence of God) or com- 
mitted blasphemy. It is customary, the Rabbis say, 
when a man insults his neighbour in public and after 
a time he seeks for reconciliation with him that the 
latter insist that he should ask for his pardon in pub- 
lic. “ But with the Holy One, blessed be he, it is not 
so. Man rises and blasphemes in the market-place. 
But the Holy One, blessed be he, says unto him, ‘Do 
repentance between thee and me and I will receive 
thee.’” ‘ And when Israel, under the heavy burden of 
sin, says, “Master of the world, wilt thou receive us 
if we shall do repentance?” God answers them, “I 
have received the repentance of Cain . . . the repent- 
ance of Ahab . . . the repentance of the men of Ana- 
thoth . . . the repentance of the men of Nineveh 
. . . the repentance of Manasseh . . . the repentance of 
Jehoiachin, against all of whom there were ordained 
heavy decrees, shall I not receive your repentance?” * 
indeed, even as David said, “ Master of the world, 
thou art a great God and my sins are also great. It 
is only becoming for the great God that he should 
forgive the great sins.” ^ 

Thus neither the quantity of sins, nor the quality of 
sins, need make man hesitate to follow the Divine call 
to repentance. He has only to approach, so to speak, 
the “door” with the determination of repentance, and 

1 See P, K., 163 ; see also 5 . p. 189. 

2 See P. K., 160 a to 163 h. 

® See Lev. R,j 5 8, text and commentaries. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 327 


it will be widely opened for his admittance. Thus said 
the Holy One, blessed be he, to Israel, “ Open unto 
me the door of repentance, be it even as narrow as the 
sharp point of a needle, and I will open it so wide that 
whole wagons and chariots can pass through it.” ‘ 
Indeed, it would seem that this Divine call of repentance 
implies also a certain mutual repentance, so to speak, 
or returning on the part of God, who meets Israel half- 
way. “It is to be compared to the son of a king 
who was removed from his father for the distance of a 
hundred days’ journey. His friends said to him, 
‘ Return unto your father,’ whereupon he rejoined, ‘ I 
cannot.’ Then his father sent a message to him, 
‘Travel as much as it is in thy power, and I will come 
unto you for the rest of the way.’ And so the Holy 
One, blessed be he, said, ‘Return unto me and I will 
return unto you’ (Mai. 37).”^ In another place, 
with reference to a Korahite’s Psalm (55 7 ), we read, 
“The sons of Korah said, ‘How long will you say, 
“Turn, O backsliding children”?’ (Jer. 3 h) whilst 
Israel said, ‘ Return, O Lord, how long?’ (Ps. 90 is), 
. . . But neither thou (God) wilt return by thyself, nor 
will we return by ourselves, but we will return both to- 
gether as it is said, ‘Turn us, O God of our salvation. 

1 See Cant, R.y 5 2 and 6, and P. K., 163 text and notes. See 
also Targnm a, I, 

2 See P. R,y 184 b and 185 a ; see also ibid.y 144 the comparison 
with the sick prince, where it would seem that God takes the initiative 
of returning to Israel on his part. 



328 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

. . . Wilt thou not come back and revive us?’ (Ps. 
85 4.6 and 6). As Ezekiel said, ‘ Behold, O my people, 
I will open your grave . . . and shall put my spirit in 
you, and ye shall live’ (Ezek. 37 12-14),” * 

The statement that neither the quantity nor the 
quality of sins can prevent repentance is subject to 
certain modifications in Rabbinic literature. The most 
important, though somewhat obscure, passage is the 
following; “Five are exempt from forgiveness: He 
who repeatedly docs repentance and repeatedly sins; 
he who sins in a righteous generation; he who sins 
with the intention to repeat; and he who has in his 
hands (on his conscience) the sin of the profanation of 
the Name of God.” ^ The passage is, as just stated, 
obscure and undoubtedly corrupt, but as with all these 
groups of numbers, it probably forms only a r&um6 of 
Tannaitic statements, scattered over the Rabbinic litera- 
ture, bearing on the subject of the eflficacy of repentance. 
As such, the following may be cited, in illustration and 
elucidation of the text just given: He who says, “I 
will sin and repent, I will sin and repent,” they do not 
make it possible for him to repent.® As a reason is 
given in the Talmud the psychological fact that when 
a man has committed the same sin twice it becomes to 
him a thing permitted (that is, he ceases to consider it 
a sin), and he is therefore unable any more to repent and 

1 See M, T.y 85 8 ; cf. Lament, R,, 5 21. 

2 See A. R. N., 58 b. 

® See Mishnah Yomuy 85 b. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 329 


to leave off doing it.‘ The same sentiment is expressed 
elsewhere in the following words, “Let not a man say, 
‘I shall commit ugly deeds and things unworthy and 
will then bring a bull that has much flesh which I will 
sacrifice upon the altar and then God will have mercy 
upon me and accept me as a penitent.’ ” * In another 
place, we read, “He who causes the multitudes to sin, 
they do not make it possible for him to do repentance.” ® 
As to the profanation of the Name of God, we have the 
statement that “for him who has committed this sin, 
there is no power in repentance to suspend (the punish- 
ment), nor in the Day of Atonement to atone, nor in 
suffering to purify,” full forgiveness only being obtained 
when the sinner dies.'* For the whole of the Torah 
was only given with the purpose to sanctify his 
Great Name.® From these illustrating passages it will 
be readily seen that the statement that certain trans- 
gressions are excluded from forgiveness means in most 
cases that these transgressions are of such a nature that 
man is not likely to enter upon a course of real repent- 
ance such as would be followed by forgiveness. Some- 

^ See Voma, 87 a, 

2 See Lev. A’., 2 12. See also commentaries. See also S.E.^ p. 36. 

^ See Abothy 5 is. See also A. R. N., Goby Yotnay 87 a ; and Tosephta 
Yomay 4. See also Sotahy 47 a. This may perhaps be the meaning of 
the clause in A. R. N., “ He who sins in a righteous generation,” that 
is, the generation by itself is righteous, but is caused to sin by his crim- 
inal example. 

^ See Mechiltay 69 a ; Yomay 86 a. 

® See S. E,y p. 74. 



330 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


times the two expressions occur together. Thus we 
read, “He who is confirmed (D*?mD) in transgres- 
sions (that is, a confirmed or inveterate sinner) cannot 
repent, and there is never forgiveness for him.” ‘ In- 
deed, there is a class of sinners who, at the very door 
of Gehenna, continue their rebellion and never repent.* 

This is even more distinctly seen from another group 
of numbers commencing with the words, “ Twenty-four 
things prevent repentance,” which include also some 
of those just mentioned. They are; “He who is 
accustomed to slander; he who indulges in anger; he 
who entertains evil thoughts; he who associates with 
the wicked; he who looks at women; he who shares 
with thieves; he who says I will sin and repent, I will 
sin and repent; he who exalts himself at the disgrace 
(expense) of his neighbour; he who separates himself 
from the community; he who slights his masters;® 
he who curses the many ; * he who prevents the many 
from doing charity; he who causes his neighbour to 
leave the good way for the evil way; he who makes 
use of the pledge of the poor ; ® he who receives bribery 
with the purpose of making others act unjustly; he 
who finds lost goods and does not return it to its owner; 

^ See M, 71 , i 22 ; cf. Yoma, 86 b. See also A. R, JV., 62 a» 

* See Eruhifiy 19 a, and M. T,, ibid, 

* Reading VniDH instead of VmDK. 

^ Perhaps we should read instead of meaning, 

“ he who puts a stumbling-block in the way of the many.” Cf. the 
expression : D’anb nbpn x'aarr. 

® See DeuU 24 12. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 331 

he who sees his children embracing a depraved life 
and does not protest; he who eats the plunder of the 
poor and the widows ; * he who criticises the words of 
the wise man; he who suspects upright men; he who 
hates admonition; and he who scoffs at the command- 
ments. Of these the Scripture says, ‘Make the heart 
of the people fat, and make their eyes heavy, and shut 
their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with 
their ears, and understand with their heart, and con- 
vert, and be healed’” (Is. 610).* But as it is rightly 
pointed out by the authorities, it is not because real 
repentance is unacceptable, but because the nature of 
these sins is such that they are so habitual, or so little 
conspicuous, that man hardly looks upon them as sins; 
or because of the difficulties in the way of making 
proper restitution. Maimonides, who in his Law of 
Repentance gives the above passage with some com- 
ments, distinctly adds that though these things delay 
repentance, they do not make it impossible. “If a 
man does return, he is considered a penitent, and has 
a share in the world to come.” ® 

^ Reading ‘lltT instead of (ox). There is, however, some jus- 
tification for this latter reading. See Job 24 3. 4. 

2 See Maimonides, ch. 4. This group is also known to 

many of the earlier post-Talmudic authorities, such as Alfasiy the 
Machsor Viiri, and others. The original source is unknown, but 
there can be but little doubt that it formed once a part of the Minor 
Tractate. See Friedmann, D’'nBD3 pp. 7 and 8, and his remarks there, 
on which the reader will find the authority for the corrections given in 
the text. See also Friedmann, ibid., p. 8, for the expression cited in 
note 47. ® See Maimonides, ibid., at the end of the chapter. 



332 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

The “fattening” of the heart referred to above, 
which makes man impervious to the thought of repent- 
ance, has a close parallel in ithe “hardening” of the 
heart used in connection with Pharaoh.' But there 
it is God himself who hardens the heart of Pharaoh 
(Exod. lo i). And the Rabbis felt the difficulty, since 
under these conditions Pharaoh had it no longer in 
his power to do repentance. The answer given is that 
“ after the Holy One, blessed be he, has given man 
warning three times (to do repentance) and he did not 
return, God shuts his heart against repentance in order 
to punish him for his sins.”* “After the Holy One, 
blessed be he, hoped (waited) for the wicked that they 
will do repentance, if they do not, then he takes away 
their heart so that they cannot return even if they 
want to. Nay, he makes it impossible for them to 
pray.” ® This is in agreement with another statement 
of the Rabbis, according to which pardon is only granted 
for three times, but there is no forgiveness for the 
fourth time,' and cases are recorded where men hear 
voices from heaven giving them the sad message that 
there is no hope for them. Others, again, feel them- 
selves such outcasts that they appeal to heaven and 

1 See Exod. 7 8, 10 1, and li 10. 2 Exod, R,, 13 8 and n 6. 

2 See Exod, R,, 1 1 1. This homily seems to be based on Job 36 9-I8. 
It is to be noted that according to other interpretations God gave to 
Pharoah the opportunity of repentance to the very last. See Exod, R., 
12 1 and especially 134. 

* See Yomay 86 in the name of R. Jose b. Judah. Cf. Job 33 29; 
Amos 2 4 . 6, The sense of the passage is not clear. Cf. Edeles, a. 4 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 333 

earth, to mountains and hills, to sun, moon, and planets, 
to pray for them, which, however, decline.* Legend 
also records that the Prophet Elisha made a special 
journey to Damascus to cause Gehazi (who is supposed 
to have stirred up people to worship idols) to do repent- 
ance, but that Gehazi referred him to a tradition which 
he had from the Prophet himself, that they do not 
make it possible for him to do repentance who causes 
others to sin.* It seems also that where reparation was 
impossible, repentance was also regarded as unaccept- 
able. Such cases are : the robbery of the public, as for 
instance, the man who gives a false measure, since he 
cannot well reach those whom he cheated,® and murder^ 
and adultery,® since the wrongs resulting from these sins 
can never be rectified. 

All these qualifications, however, have to be taken 
as mere hyperboles, emphasising and intensifying the 
evil consequences of sin, and the difficulty of doing 
real repentance. The general rule is that accepted by 
all authorities, that there is nothing which can stand in 
the way of the penitent, be the sin ever so great,® or as 

1 See Chagigak^ 25 a, and Abodah Zarah, 17 a. 

2 Sotah^ 47 a. 

^ Baba Bathra^ 88 b, and Jebamothy 21 a. 

^ Sanhedrin^ 7 a. 

^ See Chagigahy 9 a and b, and Jebamothy 22 b, 

6 T. /. Peaky 17 b; K. Saadya Gaon, niDIttK, 5 e. See also 

Maimonides, Teshubahy 33 14. Cf. Sefer Ckasidiniy Parma, p. 38. See 
also the Responsa of R. David b. Zimra, 2 45, in the section on Mai- 
monides. A peculiar case is that given in the Responsa of R. Joseph 



334 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


the outcasts above mentioned said after all intercession 
was declined, “The matter is only depending on me.” 
Man has only to determine and he may be sure of 
acceptance. Let not man say, “I have sinned and 
there is no hope (of restoration or mending) for me,” 
but let him put his confidence in the Holy One, blessed 
be he, and he will be received.* Rather bold but true 
is the assertion of the mystic that even a voice from 
heaven telling man that he is excluded from repent- 
ance should not be obeyed, it being the will of God 
himself that man should become importunate with his 
prayers and supplications, and persist in his entreaties 
until he finds admittance through the door of repent- 
ance.* 

As to the nature of repentance, it is as the word nSItTfl 
suggests, first of all the returning from the evil ways, 
that is, a strong determination on the part of the sinner 
to break with sin. To enter upon a course of repent- 
ance and not to leave off sinning is compared to the 
man who enters a bath with the purpose of cleansing 
himself of a Levitical impurity, but still keeps in his 
hands the dead reptile which is the cause of all this 

Trani (2:8), where the sinner confesses to have been especially guilty 
of the three cardinal sins, — idolatry, adultery, and the shedding of 
blood, and the Rabbi nevertheless prescribes for him a course of repent- 
ance. 

^ See M. T.y 40 8, See also Abodah Zarah^ a y with reference to 

the outcasts. 

2 See Reshith Chochmahy Section ly. See also Responsa 

of R. Joseph Trani, 2 8. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 335 

impurity. “What shall he do? Let him throw away 
the thing impure and then take the bath and he shall 
be purified.” ^ In the addresses to the people on fast 
days, the elder would say, among other things, “My 
brethren, it is not sackcloth and fasts which cause for- 
giveness, but repentance and good deeds: for so we 
find of the men of Nineveh, that it is not said of them 
that God saw their sackcloth and fasts, but that ‘ God 
saw their works that they turned from their evil way’ 
(Jonah 3 10).”^ 

Repentance begins in thought, and its effect is in- 
stantaneous.® But it is further followed up by words 
of confession. As Maimonides puts it, “Repentance 
means that the sinner gives up the sin, removing it 
from his mind, and determining in his heart not to 
repeat the evil action again; and so also he must 
regret his past ... he must also confess with his lips 
and give expression to the thoughts which he determined 
in his heart.” * The regret includes the feeling of 
shame, for “to him who commits a transgression and 

^ See P. P,f 182 d. The simile with the reptile occurs first in 
Tosephta Taanith, l. Cf. Jer, Taanith^ 65 Lament. 38; and 
B. T. Taanith, 16 a. 

2 Taanithy 16^. 

3 See P. R.y 185 ; P, K., 163 ; cf. Kiddushin^ 49 and Giitin^ 

57 Cf. M.T., 45 : 4. The Rabbinic expression is, ** He thought (or 
conceived) the thought of repentance in his heart (or in his mind).’^ 
See above, p. 31. 

* See Maimonides, nSItm, 2 2, and ibid., i 1. Cf. also Chagigah^ 
5 that forgiveness depends on regret on the part of the sinner. Cf, 
Dan. 7 7 and 8 \ Ezra 9 e. 



536 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


afterwards is ashamed of it, they forgive all his sins.” ‘ 
Indeed, God asks nothing more of man but that he 
shall say before him, “ I have sinned.” * And the 
judgement which he brought on Jerusalem was because 
she said, “I have not sinned.” ® But when man says, 
“I have sinned,” no angel (of destruction) can touch 
him.^ That David (after his sin) became worthy of 
eternal life was because he said, “I have sinned.”® 
For he who knows that he sins and prays against the 
sin and fears the sin and argues (pleads or confesses) 
it between him and the Holy One, blessed be he, shall 
receive forgiveness." And so it is with Israel in general, 
upon whom God will have mercy as soon as they will 
have confessed their sins (as repentants).'^ At the 
waters of Marah, Israel was supplicating and praying 
to their Father in Heaven, as a son who implores his 
father, and a disciple who beseeches his master, saying 
unto him, “ Master of the world, we have sinned against 
thee when we murmured on the sea.” * Confession thus 
becomes an essential feature of repentance, preceding 

^ See Berachothf 12 b, 

^ See /er, Tanith, 65 d. Cf. Midrash Shemuel^ ch. 13. 

® See Tan, 2 91 ^ ; cf. Jer. 2 86. 

* See Tan. B., 4 vo a, 

^SeeM. r., 511. 

® See M. T,^ 512. 

See T, K,, 112 b\ cf. Lev. 26 40, 

® See Mechilta, 45 b. Cf. Exod. 14 11. Cf. Jastrow’s Dictionary, 
P* ^ 73 > about the correct reading of this passage. See also 

above, 34. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 337 


the various kinds of atonements/ at the same time ex- 
pressive of the determination of man to leave off sin- 

^ The most important Halachic aspect of this institution is given in 
Maimonides, Teshubah, i i. “ If a person has transgressed any law in 
the Torah, be it affirmative or prohibitive, whether intentionally or un- 
intentionally, he is under the obligation of confession before the Lord, 
blessed be he ; as it is said, When a man or a woman commit any sin, 
etc., ‘then they should confess their sin’ (Num. 5 6 and 7), by which 
is meant the confession in words. This confession is an affirmative 
command. How do they confess ? One says, ‘ O God, I have sinned, 
I have perverted, I have rebelled against thee. I have committed 
such and such an action, and behold, I regret it and am ashamed of 
my deeds and never will I return to that thing.’ These are the 
contents of confession. , . . Likewise, those who bring a sin-offering 
or a guilt-offering (for sins) committed, intentionally or unintention- 
ally, are not atoned for by their sacrifices until they have done repent- 
ance and uttered confession ; as it is said, ‘And he shall confess 
that he has sinned ’ (Lev. 55 s). Likewise, those who are under the 
sentence of death or of receiving thirty-nine lashes are not atoned for 
by their execution or by the fact of their having received the lashes, 
unless they have first done repentance and confessed. Likewise, he 
who injured his neighbour (bodily) or damaged him in money matters, 
though he made restitution for what he owed him, is not atoned for 
until he confessed and determined never to repeat the offence.” The 
statement in Maimonides is based on Sifre Zuta, reproduced in the 
Yalkut^ I. § 701, and partially also in Numb, A\, 8 6 . Cf. also Fried- 
mann, Mechilta, 121 b, the quotation given there from Maimonides, 
miCSSn and Horowitz, Mo^iatsschrift (1906), pp. 76 and 77. See 
also T, K,, 24 b ; Sanhedrin, 43 b\ and Sifre, 2 a. Whether those who 
are about to die a natural death are also included in the duty of confes- 
sion as derived by the Rabbis from Num. 5 6 , depends largely on the 
reading (killed) (executed) or DTD (dying) in the Sifre and 

Sifre Zuta, referred to, which is difficult to determine, though there is 
good authority for the latter reading. Cf. R. Isaac Ibn Guiath, HKD 
D'’nUtr, 2 28 b. In any event, the institution of confession before death 
(even natural) is very ancient. See Shabbath, 32 b ; Tractate Sema^ 
choth Zutarti, ed. C. M. Horowitz, pp. 30-31, text and the reference 
Z 



338 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


ning.‘ “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, 
but whoso confesses (on the condition) with the de- 
termination to forsake his sin, shall receive mercy.” * 
It is in this sense that confession is regarded as a 
means of killing the Yezer^ and effects a reconcilia- 
tion with God. “Take with you words and turn 
to the Lord” (Hos. 142). This verse is paraphrased, 
“The Holy One, blessed be he, said unto Israel, 
‘My children, I will accept from you neither burnt- 
offerings nor sin-ofiferings nor guilt -offerings nor meat- 
offerings, but (I expect from you) that you will be 
reconciled unto me by prayer and supplication and by 
the direction of your heart . . . with confession and 
prayers and tears.’ It is probably prayer of this 
kind, asking for forgiveness and acknowledging the 
sin, which is occasionally quoted together with repent- 
ance ; ® this being one of the features of repentance, 

given there in the notes. See also N, T,, James 5 le, which, as may be 
seen from the contents, relates to the sick on the death-bed, and appar- 
ently is an echo of Ecclus. 38 9-10. Ancient is also the confession 
on the Day of Atonement (see Yoma, 87 b')^ taken over probably 
from the Temple. (See Lev. 16 21 ; and cf. T, K,, 82 a ; Yoma^ 
66 a; and Skebuoth^ i 6.) It is then extended to other fasts. 

See M, T,y 141 : 2. Cf. also Yoma^ 87 by about the confession of Raba 
throughout the whole year. 

^ About the various formulas of confession, see Jer, Yomay 87 by and 
Lev, R.y 'y P* R*y 160 by text and notes. Cf. also Landshut and Baer 
in their edition of the Prayer Book. 

2 See P, K,y 159 ay paraphrasing Prov. 28 is. 

® See Lev, R,y 9:1. ^ See P, R,y 198 b. 

® See Rosk Hashanaky l6b; cf. P. K,y 191 a ; P, R.y 200 b and 
references given there. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 339 

as Maimonides explains it, that the penitent should 
constantly cry before God with tears and supplication.* 

Neither, however, the determination to leave off 
sin nor the regret of the past and the shame and con- 
fusion of sin expressed in confession and prayer seem 
to have been deemed a sufficient guarantee against a re- 
lapse into the former habits of sin. As R. Saadya Gaon 
remarks, we may fairly rely on the great majority of our 
people that during their prayer and fast they do really 
mean to forsake sin and regret it, and seek atonement ; 
but what the Gaon is afraid of is, repetition, that is, 
relapse into sin. The Rabbis, therefore, think that 
this claim to real exemption from any particular sin can 
only be maintained after the penitent had twice at least 
the full opportunity to commit the sin under which he 
was labouring during his unregenerate life, and escaped 
from it.* Fasting is also mentioned together with re- 
pentance, indeed, following closely upon repentance; 
as it is said, “ Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn 
ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and 
with weeping, and with mourning” * (Joel 2 12), but they 
deal treacherously who fast without doing repentance, 
and shall be put to shame."* It is in conformity with 

1 See Maimonides, 2 4. 

2 See Yoma, 86 b. Some of the best authorities omit the word 
twice.” See above, p. 333, note 6, the reference to R. Saadya. 

^ M, T*., 25 6, with allusion to Ps. 25 8. 

^ Midrash Prov., 6 : 4. There can be little doubt that the copyist 
shortened the quotation from the Bible, omitting verse 12, on which the 
interpretation of the Midrash is based. See also above, p. 308, for 



340 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 


this sentiment, for which there is abundant authority 
both in the Scriptures and in the Talmud, that ascetic 
practices tending both as a sacrifice and as a castiga- 
tion of the flesh, making relapse impossible, become a 
regular feature of the penitential course in the mediaeval 
Rabbinic literature.* 

But repentance is not confined to the habitual sinner 
nor to a particular time. True, the Rabbis admit 
repentance on the death-bed. If a man was absolutely 
wicked all his days and did repentance in the end, God 
will receive him.^ “For as long as man lives, the 
Holy One, blessed be he, hopes for his repentance; 
when he dies his hope perishes: as it is said, ‘When a 
wicked man dies his hope shall perish’ (Prov. ii 7),” ® 
denying the possibility of repentance to the wicked after 
their death even if they desire to do it.* For indeed 
this world is like the vestibule before the hall, and he 
who has not prepared himself in the vestibule, how 
shall he come into the hall ? And when the wicked say, 
“ Leave us, and we shall do repentance,” the Holy 

the quotation given there with reference to fasting, to which any num- 
ber of references might easily be added. 

^ See Sanhedrin^ 25 a ; cf. Saadya, ibid,; Bachye^ nmn, 

section See especially Introduction to PIpTH, by Rabbi Eleazar 

of Worms, with his four kinds of repentance, which is reproduced 
by any number of moralists writing on this subject. 

2 See Kiddushifiy 40 b ; cf. Gen, A'., 65 ‘22, the case of Joseph^ 
and of Yakunty Ruth A., 6 4, the case of Elisha b. Abuyah; 

and Abodah Zarah, 17 the case of Eleazar b. Durdaya. 

® See Eccles, A., 7 I6. 

^ See Eccles. Targum, I 15 and 3 20. Cf. A, A., 184 a and b. 



REPENTANCE; MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 


341 


One, blessed be he, says unto them, “Repentance is 
possible only before death.” * 

But this death-bed repentance is not regarded as re- 
pentance of the highest order, though it may secure 
final salvation. “Blessed be he who does repentance 
when he is still a man” (possessing still his manly 
vigour).^ The saying of the sage was, “Repent one 
day before thy death,” but when his disciples asked 
him, “How does man know which day he will die?” 
he answered, “The more reason that he should repent 
every day lest he shall die on the following day, so that 
all his life is spent in repentance.”® Hence, the benedic- 

^ See Midrash Frov,, ch. 6 ; Ecdes. 1:15 and 7:15, and 

F . ch. 43, text and commentaries. This is the generally ac- 
cepted view by almost all Jewish moralists. Cf. commentaries to Aboth 
4:16 and 17, and the Books of Discipline {Sifre Mussar) generally. 
There is, however, a statement in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi, ac- 
cording to which the wicked will do repentance in the Gehenna and 
justify upon themselves the judgement of God, which repentance will 
contribute to their salvation in the end. As it is clear, however, from 
other Talmudic passages, this promise does not extend to all classes of 
sinners. See Tosafoth and Edeles, a. 1 . The saying of R. Joshua b. 
Levi may also have some connection with the Purgatory state after 
the wicked have already suffered for a time. There is also a whole 
circle of later Agadoth in which the wicked in the Gehenna secure a 
release by their answering “ Amen ” after the Kaddishy to be recited 
by Zerubbabel on the Day of Judgement succeeding the Resurrec- 
tion. (?) See Friedmann, D'nBD 3 , pp. 32, 33, text and notes and 
reference given there to Yalkut and Beth Hammidrashy ed. Jellinek. 
Cf. the controversy between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai, Fosh 
Hashanahy 17 a. See also Nachmanides’ Shaar Hagge 77 tuL 

2 See Abodah Zarahy ig a. 

® See A bothy 2 10. Cf. Shabbath, 153 and Eccles. F.y l 7 . 



342 SOME ASPECTS OF RABBINIC THEOLOGY 

tion in the daily prayer for repentance, running origi- 
nally," Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be 
turned; renew our days as of old. Blessed art thou, 
O Lord, who delightest in repentance.” ‘ This is an 
answer to the call coming daily from heaven, exclaim- 
ing, “Return, ye backsliding children.”® The call, 
however, seems to have been especially heard on the 
nine days forming a preparation to the Day of Atone- 
ment, which, including this latter day, constitute the 
Ten Penitential Days. It is on the first of these (New 
Year’s Day — the first of Tishri), on which the “Lord 
shall utter his voice” through the sound of the Shofar, 
which is an invitation to repentance ; * whilst all the 
Ten Penitential Days are considered as an especial 
time of grace “to seek the Lord while he may be 
found.” * The Day of Atonement forms the climax, 
but it would have no atoning efficacy without repent- 
ance. These Ten Penitential Days are distinguished 
by special liturgies and by special ascetic practices.® 

^ See Schechter, /. Q. lo 664 seq,; cf. Dalman, Die Worte JesUy 
p. 299. Cf. Lam. 5 21. The text in our prayer-books omits the verse, 
and substitutes for it, “ Cause us to return, O our Pather, unto thy 
Law ; draw us near, O our King, unto thy service, and bring us 
back in perfect repentance unto thy presence. Blessed, etc. . . 

See Singer, p. 46; Baer, p. 90. 

^ See P. R. E.y ch. 1 5 and 43 and commentaries. 

* See Tan., nbir'l, 2 ; cf. P. K., 187 b. Cf Joel 2 11. 

^ See Rosh Hashanahy iS a, and P. R.y 155 d. Cf. Isa. 556. Cf. 
also /er. Bikkuriniy 64 d. 

^ See Tur Orach Chayiniy par. 602 and 603, and the commentaries 
given there. See above, p. 303 seq. 



REPENTANCE: MEANS OF RECONCILIATION 343 

But they are only set apart, as already indicated, as a 
special time of grace, but not as the only days of re- 
pentance. For repentance is as wide as the sea, and 
as the sea has never closed and man can always be 
cleansed by it, so is repentance, so that whenever man 
desires to repent, the Holy One, blessed be he, receives 
him.^ 

^ Sec P. K., 157 a, and M. T., 65 4 and references. 




ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS 


Page 21 seq.y and p. 49, Note 2. In connection with the contents of 
the 2d chapter, and p. 49, Note 2, see Dr. N. I. Weinstein’s Zur 
Genesis der Agada^ Frankfurt, 1901. More important in con- 
nection with these contents is Dr. David Neumark’s learned 
Geschichte der Judischen Philosophie des Mittelalters^ Berlin, 1907, 
especially the first chapters of this volume, which only appeared 
recently, when our text was nearly finished in press. 

Page 26. Cancel “ stay of the world,” and corresponding note. 

Page 55, Note i. See Sifre^ 113 a, and J ebamothy 6, with reference 

to Deut. 21 : 13, where the words hdn nxi H'jn ns are explained 
to mean ry (her former idols). As a proof is given Jer. 2 : 27, 
Saying to a stock, thou art my father; and to a stone, thou 
hast brought me forth.” If this explanation reflected the pagan 
usage of the Tannaitic time, which is not impossible, we might 
easily explain the fact that some Rabbis, at least, were sparing 
with the epithet Father in reference to the Deity. 

Page 57, Note i. See also R. Joseph Ibn Yachya in Torah Or, ch. 
77, where he speaks of two fundamental doctrines, 'na njiDNH 
niDiNHD unSiT nSi 1DJ7 lamNiTi mmS^nD inSn 
Page 100, Note i. Attention should be called to the statement of R. 
Simon b. Lakish, in which the hidSd is contrasted with the 

yiNH hoSd, and the compliment is even paid to the latter that it 
establishes order and law. See Gen. R. 9 : 13, and Gen. R., ed. 
Theodore, p. 73. The context makes it clear that by the King- 
dom of the Earth is meant Rome, but this favourable estimation 
of the Roman Government does not represent the general opinion 
of the Jews. I found also these terms in a Genizah fragment 
from an unknown Mechilta to Deuteronomy. In connection with 
this, the following extract from another Genizah fragment is in- 
structing. It forms the conclusion of the third benediction in 
the Grace After Meals in the House of Mourning, and read thus: 
ij'DO ninoj pN ut’ina pN njnn 'n nnK *]n 3 

•Sion -iDm hy pd"^ni p^ni njia ivx njan 

Page loi. Note 2, and 102, Note 2. It is suggested by various 
writers that the saying of R. Hillel was directed against Chris- 

345 



346 


ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS 


tianity, which gave undue emphasis to the belief in the Messiah at 
the expense of the Law. R. Hillel in a certain measure found a 
follower a thousand years later in R. Joseph Albo, who was 
prompted probably by the same tendency. (See Ikkarim 4 : 42.) 
And something similar may be observed of R. Moses Sofer of the 
nineteenth century (Responsa II, par. 356), who likewise pro- 
tested against Maimonides, who includes the belief in the Messiah 
among the fundamental doctrines of Judaism, though his protest 
was, as it seems, less directed against Christianity than against 
the antinomian tendencies of his time. It is hardly necessary 
to say that both Albo and Sofer considered the belief in the ad- 
vent of Messiah an essential Jewish doctrine, though not a fun- 
damental doctrine. Rashi explains the saying of Hillel to the 
effect that the future redemption of Israel will not be by the Mes- 
siah, but by God himself. This explanation, though seeming a 
little far-fetched, becomes plausible by similar statements of other 
Rabbis. Thus, with reference to Isa. 35 : 10, “And the redeemed 
of the Lord shall return,” a Rabbi remarks, “They are the re- 
deemed of the Lord, and not the redeemed of Elijah, nor the 
redeemed of the King Messiah.” (See M, T. 106 : i.) Again, 
with reference to Deut. 17 : 14, we are told that after the sad ex- 
perience Israel had with their various kings, they began to 
exclaim: “We have no desire for a King any longer. We want 
back our first King, God; as it is said, ^The Lord is our King, he 
will save us’” (Isa. 33 : 22). Thereupon, the Lord said, “By 
your life I will do so, as it is said, ‘And the Lord shall be King 
over the earth, etc.’” (Zech. 14:9). {Deut, R. 5:11.) The 
Wilna edition is mutilated by the censorship. (Cf. also S. £., 
Introduction, p. 26.) It is, however, not impossible that these 
passages and similar ones were provoked by polemics with 
Christians. 

Page 165, Note i. See rni in the HUdesheimer J uhehchrijt^ 

p. 92, Note 3. The author evidently confuses there the words 
of Maimonides with those of R. Saadya, quoted in our text. 

Page 1 92-1 93, Note i. The statement of the Midrash Zuta is prob- 
ably based on an older Tannaitic interpretation of Deut. 24 : 16. 
Cf. Hoffmann, of the Mechilta to Deut., p. 31, text 

and notes. 

Page 305, Note 2. This later version of the statement of R. Akiba 
has a parallel in the saying of R. Jochanan. (See Jer. Sanhedrin, 
18 a.) Cf. Exod. R. 6 ; I. See Bacher, Ag. Tan. 3 : 26. These 
bold statements (all in contradiction to Aboth, 4 : 8) have the 



ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS 


347 


purpose of refuting the tendency of making God’s judgement 
arbitrary and despotic. 

Page 324, Note 3. Cf. also Berachoih^ 34 the well-known statement 
of R. Abahu with reference to the high position to be occupied 
by the penitents, even higher than that of the perfect righteous. 
See also Dr. Ginzberg’s Genizah Studies^ p. 377, reproducing the 
following extract from an unknown Sheelta : — 

p« piDiy Dipn 'n-i 

w h iSdS naitrn □’•on onDiy oniDJ 
DiSic^ nyn nuinS nnwi • • h :11:0a inN □••ja 
.pin'i 'ND anpSi piniS 01*71:^ 

The text is defective, but it can hardly be doubted, as Dr. Ginz- 
berg points out, ibid., p. 351, that in its completeness the com- 
• parison represented the well-known parable of the prodigal son in 
the N. T, Cf. Num. R.y 8 : 2. 

Page 331, Note 2. Instead of ‘‘ Note 47,^^ read “ p. 330, Note 4.’’ 

Page 333, Note 6. See Aleor Enayiniy by R. Azariah de^ Rossi, 
p. 235, ed. Cassel. (Wilna, 1866.) 




LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND BOOKS 
NOT QUOTED WITH FULL TITLE 


Abarbanel, Isaac, Ko- 

nigsberg, i860. 

Ag, Ber. = Agadath Bereschith^ ed. 
Buber, Cracow, 1902, quoted by 
chapters. 

y, Agadath Shir, Hashirim^ ed. 
Schechter, Cambridge, 1896. 
Albo, Ikkarinif Pressburg, 1853, 
quoted by book and chapter. 

A. R. N. = Aboth de Rabbi Nathan 
recensiones duas^ ed. S. Schechter, 
Vienna, 1887, quoted by chap- 
ter or folio. 

Azulai, niDip “1310, Leghorn, 1793, 
printed together with the same 
author’s |tk 

Azulai, lyir, Leghorn, 1757. 

Bacher, Ag. P. Am. = Die Agada 
der Palaestinensischen Amorder, 

I , Strassburg, 1892; II, ib.^ 1896; 
III, ib.t 1899. 

Bacher, Ag. Tan. = Die Agada der 
Tannaiten, I, Strassburg, 1884; 

II, ib.f 1890. 

Bacher, Terminologie — Die exege- 
tische Terminologie der jud, Tra- 
ditionsliteraturf I-II, Leipzig, 
1899-1905. 

\ Bachye ibn Bakudah, nnaVn ni 3 in 
ed. Sluzki, Warsaw, 1870. 

Bachye ibn Chalwah, nopn 13, ed. 

Breit, Lemberg, 1880-92. 

Baer, nii3y, Roedelheim, 

1868. 

Berliner, Tar gum = Tar gum Onke- 
los, I-II, Berlin, 1884. 

Beth Talmud^ Periodical ed. Fried- 
mann and Weiss, I-V, Vienna, 
1880-89. 

Blau, Zur Einleitung in die Heilige 
Schriftf Budapest, 1894, 


DE = Derek Erez Rahba in the Tal- 
mud, at the end of the fourth 
order. 

DEZ = Derek Erez Zutta, ed. A. J. 
Tawrogi, Konigsberg i. Pr., 1885. 

Duran, Simon, Magen Ahot^ com- 
mentary to Aboth, Leipzig, 1855. 

Edeles, 'iyn>n, commentary 

to the Talmud, ed. Wilna. 

[Epstein, ijin iiSn, Pressburg, 1891. 

Friedmann, commentary to 

Ezekiel, ch. 20, Vienna, 1888. 

Friedmann, D'HdDj = iiDp D'ncDj 
NOir Pseudo-Seder Eliahu 

Zw/iz, Vienna, 1904. 

Ginsburger, Das Fragmententar- 
gum {Thar gum Jeruschalmi zum 
Pentateuch)^ Berlin, 1899. 

Griinhut, D'tDpSn idD, I-VI, Jeru- 
salem, 1898 seq. 

Giidemann, Ctdturgeschichte = Ge- 
schichte des Erziehungswesens und 
der Cultur der abendlaendischen 
JudeUf I, Vienna, 1880. 

Hechaluz XIII by Osias H. Schorr, 
Vienna, 1889. 

Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, I-IV, 
Leipzig, 1853-57; V-VI, Vienna, 

Jer — Talmud of Jerusalem quoted 
by treatise, folio, and column of 
ed. Krotoschin, 1866, correspond- 
ing to ed. Venice, ca. 1523. 

Joel, Blicke = Blicke in die Reli- 
gions geschichie zu Anfang des 
zweiten christlichen JahrhundertSy 
I-II, Breslau and Leipzig, 1880- 

83. 


349 



3 so LIST OF BOOKS NOT QUOTED IN FULL TITLE 


J( Judah Hallevi, Kumri, ed. Sluzki, 
Leipzig, 1864. 

Kinyan Tora^ Sixth chapter of 
Abothy being an appendix. 

Landshut, noia mpD in Edcl- 
mann, ino, Konigsberg, 

1845. 

Luzzatto, nS'DD, Warsaw, 

1889. An excellent edition with 
German translation by I. Wohl- 
gemuth appeared lately, Berlin, 
1906. 

Machzor Viiry, ed. S. Hurwitz, Ber- 
lin, 1889-93. 

Maimonides, Mishneh Torahy Wilna, 
1900, quoted by book, chapter, 
and paragraph. 

X Maimonides, Moreh Nebuchinty 
Warsaw, 1872; quoted by book 
and chapter. 

X Maimon’ .3, D"nD = mXDH idd with 
man> commentaries, Warsaw, 
1891, quoted by the number of 
the precepts = niry niXD) or 
prohibitions (n"SD = nS m:(D 

Mechilta = MechUta de- Rabbi Is- 
mael, ed. Friedmann, Vienna, 
1870, quoted by folio. 

Mechilta of R. Simon = Mechilta 
de- Rabbi Simon b. Jochai, ed. 
Hoffmann, Frankfurt a. M., 1905, 
quoted by folio; often also the 
number of the verse is given. 

Mei'r ibn Gabbai, miay, War- 
saw, 1883. 

M.H.G— Midrash Hag-gadol, ed. 
S. Schechter, I, Genesis, Cam- 
bridge, 1902. The other volumes 
are quoted from Mss. in the pos- 
session of the author. 

Midrash Agadah ed. = Aga- 
discher Commentar zum Penta- 
teuch, ed. Buber, Vienna, 1894. 


Midrash Prov. = Midrasch Mischle, 
ed. Buber, Wilna, 1893, quoted 
by chapter. 

Midrash Shemuel B. = Midrasch 
Samuel, ed. Buber, Cracow, 1893, 
quoted by chapter and paragraph. 

Midrasch Suta, ed. Buber, Berlin, 
1894, quoted by folio. 

Midrasch Tannaim zum DetUero- 
nomium, excerpted from the 
M.H.G. by D. Hoffmann, I, Ber- 
lin, 1908. 

^^Mishna, quoted by treatise, chapter, 
and paragraph. Occasionally ed. 
Lowe = The Mishnah on which 
the Palestinian Talmud rests, ed. 
by W. H. Lowe, Cambridge, 
1883, is referred to. 

M. T. = Midrasch Tehillim (Scho- 
cher Tob), ed. Buber, Wilna, 
1891, quoted by chapter and 
paragraph. 

Nachmanides, Shaar Haggemuly 
Ferrara, 1556. 

Pentateuch with Tar gum Onkelos, 
Pseudo- Jonathan and Jerushalmi 
and the commentaries of Rashi, 
Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, etc., ed. 
Netter, Vienna, i860. 

P. K. = Pesikta von Rab Kahana, 
ed. Buber, Lyck, 1868, quoted 
by folio. 

P. R. Pesikta Rahbati, ed. Fried- 
mann, Vienna, 1880, quoted by 
folio. 

PRE = Pirke Rabbi Eliezer with 
commentary of R. David Loria 
(y'"in), Warsaw, 1852, quoted by 
chapter. 

Pseudo- Jonathan {Tar gum Jona- 
than ben Usi'el zum Pentateuch), 
ed. Ginsburger, Berlin, 1903. 

Pugio Fidei by Raymundus Martini, 
ed. Carpzov, Leipzig, 1687. 



LIST OF BOOKS NOT QUOTED IN FULL TITLE 351 


R after the books of the Pentateuch 
or the Five Scrolls means Midrash 
Rahha with many commentaries, 
Wilna, 1878, quoted by chapter 
and paragraph of this edition, 
except for Cant. R.^ where the 
numbers refer to chapter and verse 
of the Biblical book. The intro- 
ductions in the beginning of La- 
ment. R. are quoted with their 
respective numbers. 

R. Rabbinovicz, Variae lectiones in 
Mischnam et in Talmud Baby- 
lonicuMy I-XV, Munich, 1877-86, 
XVI, Przemysl, 1897. 

ReshUh Chochmah by R. Elijah de 
Vidas, Cracow, 1593. 

Responsa of R. David b. Zimra = 
rainn II, Venice, 1749* 

Responsa of the Geonim, ed. Har- 
kavy, Berlin, 1887 (Studien und 
MUtheilungen aus der Kaiser - 
lichen Oeffentlichen Bihliothek 
2w, St. Petersburg, IV). 

Responsa of R. Isaac b. Sheshet 
= r\"Wj Constantinople, 

1547 - 

Responsa of R. Josef Trani = 
io"nnD Furth, 1768. 

Saadya, niyn nijiDN, Josef ow, 1885. 

S. E. ~ Seder Eliahu rabba und 
Seder Eliahu zuta {Tanna d'be 
Eliahu)^ ed. Friedmann, Vienna, 
1900. Introduction, ii., 1902. 

Seder Rab Amram, Warsaw, 1865. 

Semachoth Zutarti in C. M. Horo- 
witz, Uralte Tosefta’s, II-III, 
Frankfurt a. M., 1890, pp. 28-40. 

Semachoth in the Talmud at the end 
of the fourth order. 

S.E.Z. = Seder Eliahu zuta ; see S.E. 

Sifre = Sifre debe Rab, ed. Fried- 
mann, Vienna, 1864, quoted by 
folio. 

Sifre Zuta, a Tannaitic commentary 
on Numbers known through quo- 


tations in Yalkut and M.H.G. 
and a fragment ed. Schechter 
{Jewish Quarterly Review, VI, 
656-63). A collection of these 
quotations was begun by Konigs- 
berger, Frankfurt a. M., 1894 
and 1907, and by S. Horovitz in 
Monatsschrift f. Geschichte und 
W issenschaft des Judentums, 1905 
seq. 

Simon Kiara, niSnjJ ed. 

Traub, Warsaw, 1874. A dif- 
ferent version, ed. Hildesheimer, 
Berlin, 1888-92. 

Singer, The Authorised Daily Prayer 
Book with a New Translation, 
London, 1890. 

Talmud, ed. Wilna, 1880-86, con- 
tains the commentaries of R. 
Chananel, R. Gershom, etc.; 
quoted by treatise and folio, all 
editions having the same pagi- 
nation. 

Tan. = Tanchuma ; quoted by sec- 
tion of the Pentateuch and para- 
graph of ed. Lublin, 1879, with 
commentary ^iDr yy. 

Tan. B. = Midrasch Tanchuma, ed. 
by S. Buber, Wilna, 1885, 5 vols., 
quoted by volume (book of the 
Pentateuch) and folio. 

T. K. = Torat Kohanim, called also 
Sifra, ed, with the commentary 
of R. Abraham b. David (T'3Nn), 
by I. H. Weiss, Vienna, 1862, 
quoted by folio and column. 

T. Muller, Masechet Soferim, Leip- 
zig, 1878. 

Tosephta, quoted by folios of ed. M. 
S. Zukermandel, Pasewalk, 1881. 
Occasionally A. Schwarz, Tosifta 
juxta Mischnarum ordinem recom- 
posita, I, Ordo Seraim, Wilna, 
1890, is referred to. 

Tur Orach Chayim by R. Jacob b. 
Asher, Konigsberg, 1861. 



352 LIST OF BOOKS NOT QUOTED IN FULL TITLE 


Weiss, T'n = nn nn Zur 

Geschichte der jiidischen Tradi- 
tiofty 1 -Vy Vienna, 1871-91. 

Wertheimer, ’»n3, I-IV, 

O'lriiD caps Jerusalem, 1903. 

Wertheimer, Jerusalem, 1893-97. 

Yalkui = Yalkut Shimeoniy Frank- 
furt a. M., 1687; Part I to Pen- 
tateuch; Part II to Prophets and 
Hagiographa, quoted by para- 
graphs. 

Yalkui Machiri on Isa. = The 
Yalkut on Isaiah of Machir b. 
Abba Mari, ed. Spira, Berlin, 
1894. 

Yalkut Machiri = JalktU Machiri 
zu den FsalmeUy ed. Buber, Ber- 
dyczew, 1899. 

YelamdenUy lost Midrash to the 
Pentateuch, frequently excerpted 
by the Yalkut and others. Quo- 
tations are collected by L. Griin- 
hut, D'E)ip''Sn ncD, IV seq.y Jeru- 
salem, 1 900 seq. 

Zahar, Krotoschin, 1844-45, 3 vols. 

nvniN = nrriiN, in 

Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, III, 
pp. 12-64. 

''n3, commentary to the Pentateuch 
by Bechaye I bn Chalwa, Am- 
sterdam, 1726. 

D’'1'Dn 'Dy Parma = Das Buch der 
Frontmen nach Cod. De Rossi, 
No. 1133, ed. Wistinetzki, Ber- 
lin, 1891. 

riDN R. Arje Loeb Jellin’s 
glosses to the Talmud, Wilna, 
1880-86. 

nnD of R. Eleazar b. Jose of 
Galilee. Rules of interpretation 
printed in the first volume of the 
Talmud and in the introduction to 
M.H,G. Separate edition under 


the title ni 3 'nj, with com- 
mentary by Katzenellenbogen, 
Wilna, 1858. 

3113 npS, Lekack-Tohy commentary 
by R. Tobia b. Eliezer. Gene- 
sis and Exodus, ed. Buber; Le- 
viticus, Numbers, and Deuteron- 
omy, ed. Padua, Wilna, 1880. 

3nt 'Dn 3in umo 
pNnj'^’tK, author of a commentary 
to Midrash Rabba, ed. Wilna, 
1878. 

'S33 iioSn oy ni 3 N nsDD, 
by Noah Chajjim of Kabrin, War- 
saw, 1878. 

(T'DD = pi") m3fD iflD, by R. Isaac of 
Corbeil, also called nSu niDy, 
Cremona, 1556. 

“IDIDH nfiD, by R. Jehuda Kalaz, 
Mantua, 1560, 

idD? by R. Eliezer of Metz, 
Warsaw, 1881. 

ncD, Sammlung agadischer 
Commentare zum Buche Esther, 
ed. Buber, Wilna, 1886. 

3py> py, by R. Jacob ibn Chabib, 
Wilna, 1883, 3 vols. 

N"*V1D = iry>'7N ’•311 ''pno. 

tt^npn Npnc in Schoenblum, 

D'nriflj DnsD Lemberg, 

1877. 

niVo^-i ^p-i£), Jellinek, Bet ha- 
Midrasch, III, pp. 83-108; from 
a different Ms. ed., Wertheimer, 
Jerusalem, 1890. 

= NniS in oi, author of notes 
to Midrash Rabba, ed. Wilna, 

1878, and a commentary to PRE. 

npn, by R. Eleazar of Worms, War- 
saw, 1880. 

ninSNit>, by R. Achai Gaon, with 
commentary by R. Isaia, Berlin, 
Dyhernfurt, 1786. 

Amsterdam, s. a. 
N"3*in = oi Njn, title of the 
old editions of S.E. 



INDEX 


Aaron, prays for the regeneration 
of the sinner, 316; encourages 
sinners to repent, 321. 

Abba Hilkia, wife of, prays that 
outlaws may repent, 317. 

Abba Saul, Rabbi, on Imitatio Dei^ 
200, 201-2. 

Abba Tachna, illustrates the vic- 
tory of the Good Yezer over the 
Evil Yezer y 272-3. 

Abimelech, protected by the grace 
of God against the Evil Yezer, 
283-4. 

Ahoth, Mishnic tractate, and Chasi- 
dtUh, 209-10. 

Abraham, God pays a sick visit to, 

37; God argues with, 37; the 
rock, 59; as proselytiser, 77, 84, 

93; the friend of God, 84; and 
the kingship of God, 83-4; testifies 
for Israel against the Torah, 129; 
the world established on, 173; and 
the Zachiith of posterity, 196; at- 
tacked by the Evil Yezer, 251-2; 
the merits of, guarded by Satan, 
268: has dominion over the Evil 
Yezer, 271, 275. 

See also Fathers, the; Patri- 
archs, the. 

Absalom, alluded to, 213. 

Abuhah, Rabbi, as a geologist, 19. 

Accuser, the. See Satan. 

Acha, Rabbi, on the taint of sin in 
sexual intercourse, 253. 

Achan, and the doctrine of imputed 
sin, 1 91. 

Adam, God at the wedding of, 37, 
203; acknowledges God as king, 

82, 93; and the doctrine of im- 

2 A 353 


puted sin, i88; corrupting effect 
of sin on, 235-6; the sin of, con- 
ceals the light of the first day, 237 ; 
urged by God to repent, 315. 

Admonition, hating, prevents re- 
pentance, 331. 

Adulterer, the, names for, 224. 

Adultery, a cardinal sin, 205; ex- 
tended meaning of, 214; penalty 
for, 224-5; removes the She- 
chinah, 224-5; what is included 
under, 225; heresy a form of, 
225-6; and the Evil Yezer, 250; 
forced upon David, to make him 
an example of repentance, 31 7-18; 
not subject to repentance, 333. 

Affirmative injunctions, the num- 
ber of, 138. 

Agadah, the, character of, 3 ; retells 
the Bible stories with application 
to later conditions, 24-5; and 
corporeal terms applied to God, 
35- 

See also under Rabbis, the. 

Agadic saying, on the Mizwoth, 1 38- 
40. 

Ahab, the repentance of, 324, 326. 

Ahaz, spites God, 220. 

Akabiah ben Mahalaleel, on the con- 
templation of death as a remedy 
against the Evil Yezer, 276. 

Akiba, Rabbi, on justification by 
grace or works, 15-16; considers 
the paternal relation between God 
and Israel unconditional, 54; re- 
joices in the yoke of the kingdom 
of heaven, 71-2; on the justice of 
God, 304-5 ; on the grace of 
God, 306. 



3S4 


INDEX 


Alcimus, high priest, alluded to, 92. 

Allegoric interpretation of Scrip- 
ture, prejudice against, 4. 

Allegorising method, the, and the 
Rabbis, 39-44. 

See also Corporeal terms. 

Alphabet, the, endowed with life, 
129. 

Amalekites, the, impair the per- 
fection of the kingdom of God, 
99-101 ; identified with Esau and 
Rome, 99. 

Amon, spites God, 220. 

Amos, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with the Mizwoth, 140; 
with repentance as a sweet mes- 
sage, 324. 

Anathoth, the repentance of the 
men of, 326. 

Ancient One of the world, epithet 
for God, 26. 

Angel of Death, the, identified with 
the Evil Yezer^ 244-5. 

Angels, the, surrounding God, 28, 
32; lower than Israel, 49; in- 
capable of sin, 81 ; object to the 
removal of the Torah from 
heaven, 136; free from the Evil 
Yezer, 257, 285; object to the re- 
pentance of Manasseh, 318-19; 
oppose repentance in general, 321- 
2. 

Anger, akin to idolatry, 224; habit- 
ual, prevents repentance, 330. 

Antigonos of Socho, on purity of 
motive in performance of the 
Law, 162. 

Antinomian influence of the Apostle 
Paul, 4. 

Antinomianism, and the mystic, 78. 

Antoninus, on the time the Evil 
Yezer takes possession of man, 

253. 

Apocalyptic works, not useful as a 
source of Rabbinic theology, 5. 

Apocryphal works, not useful as a 
source of Rabbinic theology, 5. 


Apologetics, and Rabbinic theology, 
18-19. 

Apostasy, changes the relation of 
Israel to God, 55 n. 

Apostate, spite, 220. 

Apostles, the, meagreness of Rab- 
binic literature contemporary 
with, 8. 

Araboth, the seventh heaven, the 
abode of God, 28-9, 30-1, 32. 

Arayothf forbidden sexual inter- 
course, 21 1. 

Arbitration of disputes, a law of 
goodness, 215. 

Archelaus, king, alluded to, 93. 

Ascetic practices, to guard against 
relapsing into sin, 340 ; connected 
with the Ten Penitential Days, 
342. 

Ascetic remedies, against the EvU 
Yezer y 277-8. 

Askari. See Joseph Askari. 

Astruc, alluded to, 19. 

Atonement, needed by the dead, 
196; through sacrifices limited in 
eflicacy, 295-7; resides in sac- 
rifices, 300-1 ; by sacrifices in- 
tended for the community, 300-1 ; 
through death and suffering, 304, 
307-8; Scriptural kinds of, 308; 
through children and the right- 
eous, 310-11 ; through the Torah 
and charity, 312; repentance 
must accompany all kinds of, 

313. 

See also Forgiveness; Recon- 
ciliation. 

Atonement, the Day of. Scriptural 
and Prophetical portions for, 119; 
purifies Israel, 234; prayer on, 
for grace to conquer the Evil 
Yezer y 279-80; atones for the com- 
munity and the individual, 301 n. ; 
repentance on, 302-4; ineffica- 
cious without repentance, 34''. 

Attributes, of God, 38. 

See also Mercy; Justic . 



INDEX 


355 


Avira, Rabbi, enumerates seven 
names for the Evil Yezer^ 243-4. 

Azariah, justified in rebelling against 
Nebuchadnezzar, 107. 

Bachye Ibn Bakudah, on love of 
God, 68-9, 72-3; on the joy of 
the Law, 151. 

Bachye Ibn Chalwah, on the unity 
and the kingdom of God, 96; on 
the joy of performing the Miz- 
woth, 1 51. 

Backbiting, a form of bloodshed, 
227. 

Balaam, and the grace of the reve- 
lation, 134. 

Benaha, Rabbi, as the forerunner 
of Astruc, 19. 

Ben Azai, on “The Book of Gen- 
erations of Adam,” 120. 

Benedictions, the, preceding the 
Prophets and Hagiographa, 123; 
convey the idea of holiness through 
commandments, 168. 

Berachoth^ Talmud tractate, and 
Chasiduih^ 210. 

Beth-Hammidrash (schoolhouse), 
the, a refuge from the Evil Vezer, 
273» 274. 

Blasphemy, a sin of rebellion, 222; 
called an evil thing, 232; repent- 
ance possible for, 326. 

Bloodshed, a cardinal sin, 205 ; 
different kinds of, 213; the con- 
sequences of, 326-7; slander, a 
form of, 227; robbery, a form 
of, 227-9; bad administration of 
justice, a form of, 229-30; due to 
the Evil Vezer, 246. 

See also Murder. 

Boaz, banishes the Evil Yezer, 
271. 

Body, the, liable to sin, 260-1. 

“Book of Generations of Adam, 
The,” on the dignity of man, 
120. 

Bribery, prevents repentance, 330. 


Bride, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 47 ; term applied 
to the Sabbath, 154. 

Brother, term for the relation be- 
tween God and Israel, 47, 56. 

Burnt offering, the, instituted for 
heresy, 225-6; the continual, 
controversy on the atoning power 
of, 299-300. 

Cabalists, the, and the creation of 
the world, 128. 

See also under Mystic. 

Cain, makes the Evil Yezer respon- 
sible for his crime, 280-1 ; an 
example of penitence, 315; re- 
pentance of, acceptable, 326. 

Captives, objections to marriage 
with, 213. 

Cardinal sins, the, enumerated, 205- 

6 . 

See Sins, the cardinal. 

Catastrophes, to teach that repent- 
ance is possible for the greatest 
sins, 317. 

Chama ben Chaninah, Rabbi, 
quoted, on the imitation of God, 
202-3. 

Chambers, Chapters of the, mys- 
tical description of the heavens, 
29. 

Chaninah ben Dosa, Rabbi, mir- 
acle-worker, lacks influence on 
Jewish thought, 7; on sin as the 
cause of death, 247. 

Chanukah Candles, the Lighting of 
the, as a command, 13. 

Chapters of the Chambers, mysti- 
cal description of the heavens, 
29 - 

Charity, invalidated by robbery, 
228; disparaged by the Evil 
Yezer ^ 252; superior to sacrifices 
as a means of atonement, 296, 
312; the atoning power of, 312; 
preventing, makes repentance im- 
possible, 330. 



356 


INDEX 


Charity system, the, of the Rabbis, 

II2. 

Chasiduth, saintliness supplement- 
ing the Law, 201, 209; discrimi- 
nates between one and another 
group of laws, 209; various defi- 
nitions of, 209-10; summarised in 
a Talmudic formula, 210; Eliezer 
of Worms on, 210; abstention 
from superfluous things, accord- 
ing to Nachmanides, 211-12; a 
corrective of the Law, 212-14; 
the reward of, 217-18. 

See also Holiness. 

Chasiduthy Regulations of^ by Elie- 
zer of Worms, quoted, 210. 

Chaste women, the, the atoning 
power of, 312. 

Chayoth, the, surrounding God, 28. 

Cheating, not subject to repentance, 
333- 

Cherubim, the, surrounding God, 
32. 

Children, term for the relation of 
Israel to God, 46, 49 {bis)\ not 
saved by their fathers, 178; and 
the doctrine of imputed sin, 191, 
192-3; the Evil Yezer in, 253-5; 
the death of, an atonement for 
the sins of adults, 254; are with- 
out sin, 269; the atoning power 
of, 310-11. 

See also Zachuth^ the, of a pious 
posterity. 

Chisda, Rabbi, criticised by a pupil, 

144-5- 

Chiya, Rabbi, the holiness of, 212. 

Choni Hammaagel, miracle- worker, 
lacks influence on Jewish thought, 
7- 

Chosen ones, a term applied to 
Israel by God, 47. 

Christianity, the essential principle 
of, in the Book of Leviticus, 120. 

Chronicles (I), the Book of, cited, 
in connection with the uniqueness 
of Israel, 48; with the EvU Yezer ^ 


243 (his)] with the heart as the 
seat of the Yezers^ 257. 

Chronicles (II), the Book of, cited, 
in connection with the repentance 
of Manasseh, 318, 319. 

Civil law, in the Mishnah, 2. 

Commandment, the performance 
of one, and the salvation of the 
world, 189-90. 

Commandments, the, kept by God, 
203. 

See Mizwoth, the. 

Communion, with the Holy Spirit, 
brought about by Chasiduth, 217; 
with God, follows the banishment 
of the Evil Yezer, 292. 

Community, the, responsibility of, 
and the doctrine of imputed sin, 
1 91-5; and the atoning power of 
sacrifices, 300-1 ; and the Day of 
Atonement, 301 ; separation from, 
prevents repentance, 330. 

See also Solidarity. 

Compilation, a, inadequate as a 
theologic source, 3-5. 

Conceit, causes death, 246. 

See also Pride. 

Conduct, determines man’s near- 
ness to God, 33. 

Confession of sins, the, accom- 
panies certain sacrifices, 296; a 
part of repentance, 335-8. 

Contamination, description of sin, 
233-4. 

Corporeal terms applied to God, 
mitigated, 35-6; exaggerated, 40. 

See also Allegorising method, 
the. 

Corrective of the Law, Chasiduth, 
212-14; the law of goodness, 
214-16. 

Corruption, sin a symptom of, 235. 

Court of justice, the, duties of, and 
the doctrine of imputed sin, 191, 
192, 193-5- 

Covenant, the, of God with Israel 
and the Porek ol, 220 and n. 



INDEX 


357 


Covenant with the Fathers, the, un- 
limited, 179. 

See also Zachuth^ the, of the 
Fathers. 

Creation, Master of all, epithet for 
God, 22. 

Creation of man, the, subject of 
controversy, 8. 

Creation of the world, the, a glori- 
fication of God, 80-1 ; man the 
centre of, 82; and wisdom, 127- 
8 ; according to the Cabalists, 
128; repentance indispensable 
to, 128, 314. 

Creator, epithet for God, 26. 

Creed, The Thirteen Articles of 
the, by Maimonides, contain no 
mention of Israel’s election, 57. 

Criminal procedure, in the Mish- 
nah, 2. 

Criticism of the wise, prevents re- 
pentance, 331. 

Cursing the many, prevents repent- 
ance, 330. 

Daniel, Rome in the vision of, 100. 

Daniel, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with God as a teacher of 
the Torah, 43; with the extent of 
the Torah, 122. 

David, the consequences of the mar- 
riage of, with a captive, 212-13; 
name given to the Evil Y ezer by, 
243 ; banishes the Elvil Y ezer , 271 ; 
slays the Evil Yezer^ 275; made 
to sin as an example of repentance, 
317-18; and Jeroboam, 319; con- 
fident of God’s forgiveness, 326; 
confesses his sin, 336. 

Dead, the, and the doctrine of im- 
puted sin, 196; and the Zachuth 
of posterity, 198; prayers for, 198. 

Death, caused by the Evil Yezer^ 
244-7; caused by sin, 245, 247; 
of children, 254; the contempla- 
tion of, conquers the Evil Yezer^ 
276; the punishment of the sin- 


ner, 293, 294, 304; an atone- 
ment, 304, 307-8, 310. 

Death, the Angel of. See Angel of 
Death, the. 

Death-bed repentance, 340-1. 

Deborah, the generation of, has a 
single heart, 257. 

Decalogue, the, the tablets of, sug- 
gest an explanation concerning 
the Evil Yezer^ 274-5. 

See also Law, the; Torah, the. 

Defilement, term applied to the 
cardinal sins, 205, 206. 

See also Impurity. 

Defilement of the land, caused by 
idolatry, 223; caused by pride, 
223; caused by murder, 226. 

Deification of man, objected to by 
the Rabbis, 38-9. 

Deluge, the, and the doctrine of 
imputed sin, 195; generation of, 
rebels, 219, 222; causes pain to 
God, 219-20; robbery the capi- 
tal sin of, 227; and the Tetra- 
grammaton, 239; give the Evil 
Yezer sway, 271; warned to re- 
pent, 315. 

Depravity in children, left unpro- 
tested, prevents repentance, 331. 

Desert, the, reason for giving the 
Torah in, 131. 

Deuteronomy, the Book of, cited, 
in connection with Moses’ ac- 
knowledgement of God, 26; with 
the might of God, 38; with the 
justice of God, 38; with the faith- 
fulness of God, 38; with the unity 
of God, 48; with Israel’s exalted 
place, 48; with the election of 
Israel, 58 (bis), 63-4; with the 
kingdom of God, 67 (bis); with 
love of God, 67, 68, 69, 79 (bis); 
with man’s righteousness and the 
kingdom of God, 90 (bis)^ 91 ; with 
the kingship benediction, 96 ; with 
the superiority of the Torah, 118; 
an Imitatio Deiy 119; cited in 



358 


INDEX 


connection with the command- 
ment of forgetfulness, 149; with 
the joy of the Law, 150; with 
performing the Law with a view 
to reward, 162; with Zachuth^ 
179; with the Zachuth of a pious 
ancestry, 182, 183; against im- 
puted sin, 185, 186; cited in 
connection with the duties of a 
court of justice, 193; with im- 
puted sin through posterity, 196; 
with walking in the ways of God, 
201 ; with the imitation of God, 
203; with cleaving to God, 204 
{bis); with jealousy, 204; with 
marriage with a captive, 213; with 
a rebellious son, 213; with the 
law of goodness, 214; with pride, 
223, 224; with the Shcchinah, 
224 {bis); with heresy, 225 ; with 
the Evil Yezer^ 242, 243; with 
the good heart, 259; with reme- 
dies against the Evil Yezer^ 277; 
with God’s regret at having cre- 
ated the Evil Yezer^ 284 
with free will and the Evil Yezer^ 
286 (6w), 288; with the com- 
munal sacrifices, 301 ; with the 
justice of God, 305, 306; with 
the repentance of Manasseh, 318; 
with God’s attribute of mercy in 
relation to repentance, 322. 

Devious ways, and the imitation of 
God, 204. 

Devotion, a necessary element in 
prayer, 156-9. 

De Wette, definition of mysticism 
by. 77- 

Dibbur, as used by the Rabbis, 43 n. 

Dietary laws. See Forbidden food. 

Dining-table, the, the atoning power 
of, 312. 

Dishonesty, a widespread sin, 250, 
260. 

Disobedience. See Sin. 

Disrespect, removes the Divine 
Presence, 232. 


Divine Presence, the. See Shechi- 
nah, the. 

Divorce laws, in the Mishnah, 2. 

“Duties of the Heart,” by Bachye 
Ibn Bakudah, quoted, 68-9, 72-3. 

Ecce Homo^ quoted, on the ideal 
of Jesus, 1 12. 

Ecclesiastes, the Book of, cited in 
connection with corrupt govern- 
ment, 107; with the weakening 
influence of sin, 238; with unin- 
tentional sins, 240 ; with the heart 
as the seat of the Yezers, 256; with 
the two YezerSy 265 ; with the 
good uses of the Evil Yezer^ 267; 
with man’s responsibility for the 
Evil YezeVy 268. 

Edom, the prototype of Rome, 99, 
108. 

Egypt, the people of, cause pain to 
God, 219-20. 

Eighteen Benedictions, the, prayer 
for grace to conquer the Evil Yezer 
in, 280. 

Elcazar ben Jose of Galilee, on alle- 
goric interpretation of Scriptures, 
41 n. 

Election of Israel, the, treated by 
the Agadah, 3 ; indicates the 
close relation to God, 57; an un- 
formulated dogma, 57; in the 
liturgy, 57; in the Scriptures, 58; 
the Rabbis on, 58-64; reasons 
for, 58-62; predestined, 59; not 
exclusive, 62-4. 

Eli, the sons of, deny the kingdom 
of God, 87. 

Eliezer, Rabbi, Chapters of, on 
God before the creation of the 
world, 80; on repentance, 128; 
on free will and the Evil Yezer ^ 
288-9. 

Eliezer ben Azariah, and the Zachuth 
of his ancestors, 176. 

Eliezer of Worms, quoted, on love 
of God, 74--5; on ChasidtUh, 210. 



INDEX 


359 


Elijah, held up as a model to Hiram, 
39; rebuked for excessive zeal, 
52-3; and the inheritors of the 
future world, 166; rebuked for 
excessive severity, 204-5 ; and 
the law of saints, 216; banishes 
the EvU Yezer, 271; reproaches 
God for the Evil Yezer, 283. 

Elisha, why made to supersede 
Elijah, 53, 205; urges Gehazi to 
repent, 333. 

Elohim, God as judge, 35. 

El Shadaiy the God of pardon, 35-6. 

Enemy ^ name for the Evil Yezer, 
243 - 

Enosh, generation of, rebels, 219; 
cause pain to God, 219-20. 

Envy, causes death, 245, 246; ser- 
viceable for a good purpose, 267. 

Epithets for God, 21-2, 26-8, 34, 
35-6; as used by the Rabbis, 39; 
in the liturgy, 44. 

Esau, identified with Amalek and 
Rome, 99-100, 108; supreme in 
this world, 100; the Torah of- 
fered to, 132. 

Eve, God at the wedding of, 37, 203. 

Evilj name for the EvU Yezer^ 243. 

Evil, the .punishment of the sinner, 
293» 294. 

Evil eye, the, causes death, 245. 

Evil inclination, the. See EvU 
YezeTf the. 

Evil thoughts, indulgence in, pre- 
vents repentance, 330. 

EvU Yezer, the, and the love of God, 
67-8; suppressed by Israel to 
acknowledge the kingdom of God, 
97-8; Scriptural passages on, 
242-3; names for, 243-4; ac- 
tivities of, 244-7, 248; corre- 
sponds to lust, 246; punishment 
meted out by, 246-7 ; and vanity, 
248-9, 276; instantaneous re- 
sistance to, recommended, 249; 
connected closely with idolatry 
and adultery, 250; and scepti- 


cism, 251-2; disparages charity, 
252; when it takes possession of 
man, 252-5 ; the heart the seat of, 
255-61 ; not equivalent with the 
heart, 258-9; has no dominion 
over the heart filled with Torah 
259; prominent in Jewish litera- 
ture, 262 ; the leaven in the dough, 
262-3; ^ creature of God, 264-6; 
God acknowledges the creation of, 
266, 280-3 i '^ses of, 266-7 ; called 
a good quality, 267; the servant 
of man, 267 ; man responsible for, 
268-9; created for man to over- 
come, 269; can be overcome by 
man, 269-70; can be turned to 
good purposes, 271 ; how to ban- 
ish, 271-2; the Good Yezer to be 
stirred up against, 272-3; two 
weapons against, 273; conquered 
by the study of the Torah, 273-5 5 
conquest of, an honouring of God, 
275; conquered by the contem- 
plation of death, 276; various 
remedies against, 277-8; grace 
needed to conquer, 278-84, 289- 
90; God regrets the creation of, 
284; and free will, 284-9; to 
cease with the advent of the Mes- 
siah, 290-2; the appearance of, 
to the righteous and the wicked, 
290; Israel’s reward for banish- 
ing, 292 ; repentance for, 304, 3i3» 
314; God prays for the destruc- 
tion of, 316; killed by a con- 
fession of sin, 338. 

Exaltation, and the imitation of 
God, 204. 

Exodus, the, due to the Zachuth of 
the Fathers, 174, 180, 185 n.; de- 
nied by the perverter of justice, 
230; fulfilment of the command- 
ment on usury, a condition of, 
230-1. 

Exodus, the Book of, cited in con- 
nection with the might of God, 
38; with the mercy of God, 38; 



360 


INDEX 


with the pride of a mortal, 38; 
with Jethro’s acknowledgement 
of God, 25; with the name of 
God, 35, 36; with God’s presence 
at Mount Sinai, 36; with God’s 
speech with man, 41; with God 
as a man of war, 43; with the 
affliction of Israel, 44 ; with God’s 
dwelling on earth, 48 ; with God’s 
paternal interest in Israel, 50, 51 ; 
with Moses as a sacrifice for 
Israel, 53; with the election of 
Israel, 58, 63; with the glorifica- 
tion of God through creation, 80 ; 
with the kingdom of God as es- 
tablished by Israel, 85-6 ; with the 
sanction of the Law, 116; the le- 
gal part of the Torah begins in, 
120; the book of the covenant 
mentioned in, 121; cited in con- 
nection with Israel’s holiness, 
168; with the Zachuth of the 
Fathers, 174; with the Zachuth 
of a pious ancestry, 181 ; with im- 
puted sin, 185, 187; with exalta- 
tion, 204 ; with sexual immo- 
rality, 206; with murder, 213; 
with adultery, 214; with mercy, 
215; with humility, 223; with 
the sight of the glory of God, 
236 (his)\ with the weakening 
influence of sin, 239 (6w); with 
the Tetragrammaton, 239; with 
the tablets of stone for the Deca- 
logue, 275; with the disappear- 
ance of the Evil Yezer in the 
Messianic time, 291 (bis); with the 
atoning power of the righteous, 
310; with Pharaoh’s hardened 
heart, 332. 

Extermination, penalty for adul- 
tery, 224. 

“External” books. See Apoca- 
lyptic; Apocryphal. 

Eye, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 47. 

Eye, the evil, causes death, 245- 


Eye of the world, epithet for God, a6. 

Eyes, the, cause sin, 208, 214; 
agents of sin, 258. 

Ezekiel, the visions of, and God’s 
heavenly abode, 28-9. 

Ezekiel, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with the pride of Hiram, 
38-9; with Israel’s relation to 
God, 44; with the kingdom of 
God, 71, 88; with imputed sin, 
187, 196; with robbery, 228; with 
the Evil Yezer j 243-4; with the 
sinning soul, 261 ; with the Evil 
Yezer regarded as stone^ 275 ; with 
the grace needed to conquer the 
Evil Yezer, 281 ; with the pun- 
ishment of sinners, 293 ; with re- 
pentance human and Divine, 328. 

Faith, the Rabbis quoted on, 14; 
the reason for Israel’s election, 
59-60. 

Faithfulness, the, of God, 38. 

Family, the, and the doctrine of im- 
puted sin, 192. 

Family of God, Israel, 200. 

Fasting, a sacrificial atonement, 
308; cannot replace repentance, 
335; with repentance, 339-40. 

Fasts, public, the Zachuth of pious 
ancestors invoked at, 172. 

Father, term for the relation be- 
tween God and Israel, 46, 49, 
50-6; as used in the liturgy, 155. 

Father of the world, epithet for God, 
26. 

Fatherhood of God, the, to be ac- 
knowledged by Israel, 50-1 ; 
Luther on, 51 n.; an uncondi- 
tional relation, 51-6; in the 
liturgy, 54-6; changed by apos- 
tasy, 55 n. 

See also Reciprocal relation. 

Fathers, the, in the sense of the 
three patriarchs, 1 7 1 ; imper- 
fections and distinctions of, 1 73-4. 

See also Patriarchs, the. 



INDEX 


361 


“Fathers, the, the Chapters of,” 
character of the contents, 2. 

Fathers, the, the merits of. See 
ZachtUh. 

Fear, an expression for love with 
the Rabbis, 72; a constituent of 
the Torah, 146. 

Fear of God, the, not in the power 
of God, 285. 

Fiend, name for the Evil Yezer, 243. 

First-born son, term for the relation 
of Israel to God, 46. 

Flock, term for the relation of Israel 
to God, 49. 

Folly, a description of sin, 236-7. 

Foolish old king, name for the Evil 
Yezer, 244, 254. 

Forbidden food, causes impurity, 
206-7. 

Forgetfulness, the commandment 
on, illustrated, 149. 

Forgiveness, for sins, attained 
through repentance, 293-4, 335; 
resides with God alone, 294-5; 
through suffering, 309 ; five 
classes not subject to, 328-30; 
granted three times for the same 
sin, 332. 

See also Atonement; Reconcil- 
iation. 

Freedom, attained through the yoke 
of the kingdom of God, 70. 

Free will, and the Evil Yezer, 284-9. 

Future world, the. See World, the 
future. 

Gabriel, angel, not a mediator, 45, 
67; may not approach Moses, 
238.^ 

Galgalim, the, surrounding God, 32. 

Gamaliel the Second, Rabban, al- 
luded to, 176. 

Gehazi, ruled by the Evil Yezer, 271 ; 
urged to repent, 333. 

Gehenna, children save parents 
from, 197; repentance in, 341 n. 

Gemara, the. See Talmud, the. 


Genesis, the Book of, cited in con- 
nection with the dignity of men, 
120; value of, 1 21; cited in con- 
nection with the protective power 
of the ZachtUh, 190; with the imi- 
tation of God, 202 ; with the 
Porek ol, 221 (bis)] with blood- 
shed, 226, 251; with the Tetra- 
grammaton, 240; with the Evil 
Yezer, 242, 243, 264, 265 (bis), 
266; with overcoming the Evil 

I Yezer, 270, 283; with the Evil 
Yezer as stone, 274. 

Gentiles, the, transitory character 
of opinions on, 9-10; magnify 
God, 58; God’s relation to, 62-4; 
of the kingdom of God, 106; re- 
fuse the Law, 131-2; refuse to 
share in the Law with Israel, 133 ; 
rebellious under suffering, 310. 

See also Kingdom of God, the 
universal. 

Geonic Responsa, quoted, on prayers 
for the dead, 198. 

Geonim, the, and the visible uni- 
versal kingdom of God, 95-6; 
and the national kingdom of God, 
97- , 

Gluttony, incompatible with holi- 
ness, 2 1 i-i 2 ; auxiliary to the Evil 
Yezer, 277. 

God, man’s relation to, treated by 
the Agadah, 3; epithets for, 21-2, 
26-8, 34, 35-6; man’s nearness 
to, determined by his conduct, 33; 
an imitatio hominis, 37-8; at- 
tendant at the wedding of Adam 
and Eve, 37, 203; as used by 
the Hellenists, 43 n. ; the unity of, 
emphasised, 43-4; worship due 
to him alone, 44-5; relation of, 
to the world, 21-45; relation of, 
to Israel, 46-56; terms for the 
relation of, to Israel, 46-7; ap- 
plies his own attributes to Israel, 
47; and the angels, 49; before 
the creation of the world, 80-1; 



362 


INDEX 


removed from the world by sin, 
83; teaches Israel how to pray, 
157; to be imitated by men, 201- 
5; the denial of, the essence of 
sin, 233; name given to the Evil 
Yezer by, 243; responsible for 
the existence of the EvU Yezer, 
266, 280-3; regrets the creation 
of the EvU Yezer, 284. 

See also under Forgiveness; 
Kingdom of God; Transcenden- 
talism. 

Gods, a term applied to Israel by 
God, 47, 49. 

Golden calf, the, indicative of Is- 
rael’s rebelliousness, 86; the sin 
of, counteracted by the Zachuth 
of the Fathers, 174 (bis), 180; 
and the doctrine of imputed sin, 
189; the sin of, permitted, to 
teach repentance, 317. 

Good inclination, the. See Good 
Yezer, the. 

Good Yezer, the, in the Book of 
Chronicles (I), 243; term of a 
late date, 243; the heart the seat 
of, 255, 256, 257, 259; represented 
by men, 262 ; a creature of God, 
264-5; preferred by the right- 
eous, 271 ; to be stirred up against 
the EvU Yezer, 272-3; prayers 
for, 279-80; in the Messianic 
time, 291. 

Goodness, the law of, akin to holi- 
ness, 214; defined by Nach- 
manides, 214-5; insisting 

upon strict justice, 215. 

Goodness of God, manifested in 
the creation, 80. 

Goodness of the world, epithet for 
God, 26. 

Gomorrah, and the doctrine of 
Zachuth, 190; the people of, 
rebels, 219, 222; the people of, 
cause pain to God, 219-20. 

Government, a corrupt, incompatible 
with the kingdom of God, 106-9. 


Grace, Rabbi Akiba on justifica- 
tion by, 15-16; the reason for 
Israel's election, 61-2; the reve- 
lation an act of, 133-5 ; needed in 
connection with the Torah to 
conquer the EvU Yezer, 278; 
prayers for, 278-9; prayers for, 
in the liturgy, 279-80; the need 
for, implies God’s responsibility 
for the existence of the EvU 
Yezer, 280-2; needed to subdue 
the EvU Yezer, in the world 
to come, 282-3; granted to 
Abimclech, 283-4; man must 
show himself worthy of, 289-90; 
Akiba on, 306; reserved for this 
world, 307; repentance an act 
of, 324. 

Graciousness of God, the, to be imi- 
tated by man, 201-2. 

Guilt offering, the, ensures forgive- 
ness, 293; accompanied by re- 
pentance, 296. 

Habakkuk, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with the Mizwoth, 140; 
with bearing witness, 247. 

Hagiographa, the, sometimes ex- 
cluded by the term Torah, 118; 
included in the term Torah, 121- 
6; frequently quoted by the 
Rabbis, 122; included in the 
Scriptures, 123; benediction for, 
123; how cited in Rabbinic liter- 
ature, 124-5. 

See also Wisdom. 

Halachah, the, not subject to mirac- 
ulous proof, 7. 

Halachic discussions, epithet for 
God in, 34. 

Hallam, quoted, 39. 

Hallevi, Judah. See Judah Hal- 
levi. 

Hamnuna Zuta, on the contempla- 
tion of death, 276. 

Hananiah, justified in rebelling 
against Nebuchadnezzar, Z07. 



INDEX 


Harnack, on Pauline Epistles, i8. 

Hatred, a greater sin than the car- 
dinal sins, 227; causes death, 
245 - 

Hausrath, disparages the Jewish 
Sabbath, 153. 

Heart, the, causes sin, 208; in Jew- 
ish literature, 255 n.; as the seat 
of the Yezers^ 255-61 ; the agent 
of sin, 258; not equivalent to the 
Evil Yezer, 258-9; good, 259; 
accused of inconsistency, 259; 
equivalent to the soul, 260-1 ; in 
the righteous and the wicked, 
270. 

See also Soul, the. 

Heaven, as the abode of God, 28-9, 
30-1, 32; notion as such leaves' 
Rabbinic theology uninfluenced, 
30 - 

Heaven, epithet for God, 21, 28; 
does not imply remoteness, 46. 

Hegelianism, and the Rabbis, 19. 

Height of the world, epithet for God, 
28. 

Hell, endowed with pre-mundane 
existence, 128. 

Hellenism, and the Rabbis, 39-401 
42-3; and its use of God, 43 n. 

Heresy, akin to adultery, 225-6. 

Herod, king, alluded to, 93. 

Hezekiah, king, alluded to, 177. 

Hidden-One, name for the Evil 
Yezer, 244. 

High One, epithet for God, 28. 

High priest, the, the vestments of, 
have atoning power, 300. 

Higher criticism, the, on the litera- 
ture produced under the predomi- 
nance of the Law, 116. 

Hillel, Rabbi, not a miracle- worker, 
7; as a modern altruist, 18-19; 
on the resurrection, 102 n.; on 
the oneness of the material and 
the spiritual life, 14s; on material 
uses of the Torah, 154, i 59 i on 
individual righteousness, 182; 


363 

worthy of the Divine Presence, 
238. 

Hillel, the school of, on the creation 
of man, 8; on the atoning power 
of the burnt offering, 299. 

Hiram, of Tyre, reproved for pride, 
38 - 9 - 

Holiness, the Law a source of, 168; 
a motive for the performance of 
the Law, 168-9; the culmina- 
tion of the Law, 199; grows out 
of the kingdom of God, 199; an 
Imitatio Dei, 199-200, 201-5; 

divisions of, 201 ; and separate- 
ness, 205 ; destroyed by impurity, 
205-9; abstention from things 
superfluous, 211-12; abstention 
from things permitted, 212-13; 
and the law of goodness, 214; and 
communion with God, 218. 

See also Kedushah; Chasiduth. 

Holiness, a name for God in Rab- 
binic literature, 199. 

Holy, applied to the patriarchs 
after their death, 173; attribute 
applied to Israel by God, 47. 

Holy Land, the, talk of the people 
in, called Torah, 126. 

Holy One, the, epithet for God, 21; 
most frequent name for God in 
Rabbinic literature, 199. 

Holy Spirit, the, dictates the Torah, 
1 20-1; Chasiduth leads to com- 
munion with, 217-18. 

Hope, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 46. 

Hosea, rebuked for excessive zeal, 
53 - 

Hosea, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with God as a man of 
war, 36; with God’s love for 
Israel, 61 ; with the manner of 
performing the Law, 161; with 
Zachuth, 178; with man’s wor- 
thiness of grace, 289; with re- 
pentance for many sins, 325; 
with confession of sins, 338. 



364 


INDEX 


Hoshayah, Rabbi, on wisdom, 127. 

Humanising of God, 37-8. 

Humanity, the essential principle 
of, in the Book of Leviticus, 120. 

Humbleness, the reason for Israel’s 
election, 60. 

Hushai, the Archite, reproves David, 
212--13. 

Hypocrisy, detrimental to belief in 
the unity of God, 68-9. 

Hypocrites, excluded from the Di- 
vine Presence, 232. 

Idolater, the, animosity to, dates 
from the revelation, 131 ; a Porek 
oly 220; names for, 222-3; com- 
pared to the unmerciful, 231-2. 

Idolatry, laws on, not a practical 
consideration, 141 ; a cardinal 
sin, 205 ; transgression of the 
dietary laws leads to, 207; con- 
sequences of, 223; pride, a form 
of, 223-4; anger, a form of, 224; 
a contamination, 233; described 
as folly, 237; and the EvU Yezer^ 
244, 250; the cause of sin, 291-2. 

See also Polytheism. 

Idols, defined, 67. 

Imitatio Dei, holiness is an, 199- 
200; particularised by Abba 
Saul, 201-2. 

Immorality, dirties the Torah, 234. 

See also Adultery ; Sexual im- 
morality. 

Immortality, treated by the Aga- 
dah, 3. 

Impurity, in the sense of sexual 
immorality, 205-6; of body, 206- 
7; caused by a disgusting act, 
267; caused by a transgression 
of a Biblical law, 208-9; 
thought, 210-11, 232. 

See also Levitical impurity. 

Imputed righteousness. See Za- 
chuth. 

Imputed sin, the doctrine of, a 
counterpart of ZachtUh, 1 70 ; 


Biblical authority for, and against, 
185-7; and the sin of Adam, 188; 
and the sin of the golden calf, 189; 
through contemporaries, 191-5; 
and secret sins, 194; and the 
revelation, 195; through pos- 
terity, 195-7- 

Incest, laws on, not a practical 
consideration, 141. 

Inclination, the evil. See EvU 
Yezer, the. 

Inclination, the good. See Good 
Yezer, the. 

Incontinence. See Sexual immoral- 
ity- 

Individualism in religion, 76-9. 

Informer, the office of, performed 
by the EvU Yezer, 252. 

Inheritance, regulated by the Mish- 
nah, 2. 

Initiative, in repentance, 324, 327. 

Isaac, God condoles with, 37. 

See also Fathers, the; Patri- 
archs, the. 

Isaac, Rabbi, on the Prophets, 124. 

Isaiah, the condition of his propheti- 
cal call, 52; the mouthpiece of 
the Mosaic revelation, 124. 

Isaiah, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with separation from God, 
33; with the intimate relation of 
God to Israel, 47, 50; with the 
rebelliousness of Israel, 52; with 
Israel’s filial relation to God, 
54 (6w); with Abraham, 59; with 
God’s relation to the Gentiles, 
62 ; with the glorification of 
God through creation, 80; with 
universalism, 106 {bis), 131; 
prophetical portion for the Day 
of Atonement from, 119; cited, in 
connection with the Mizwoth, 
140 {his)\ with humility, 223; 
with robbery, 228; with nearness 
to God, 233 {his)\ with the attri- 
bute of mercy, 240; with the 
EvU Yezer, 243; with the heart. 



INDEX 


36s 


258; with remedies against the 
EvU Yezer, 277; with grace to 
conquer the Evil Yezer, 281 ; 
with free will and the Evil Yezer, 
287, 288; with man’s worthiness 
of grace, 290 (bis); with the 
atoning power of the righteous, 
310; with things that prevent 
repentance, 331. 

Ishmael, Rabbi, on the pre-mun- 
dane existence of repentance, 314. 

Israel, God teaches Torah to, 37; 
attributes of God applied to, 47; 
higher than the angels, 49 ; prayer 
by, acceptable, 49, 50-1 ; high 
responsibility of, 51-2; prophets 
and patriarchs, atone for, 53; 
attributes of, qualifying it for 
election, 59-60; elected by God 
as the first-born, 62; establishes 
the kingdom of God, 85-6, 88-9; 
rebellious against the kingdom 
of God, 86-8; connected in the 
liturgy with the kingdom of God, 
97; suppresses the evil inclina- 
tion to acknowledge the kingdom 
of God, 97-8; the redemption of, 
and the kingdom of God, 98-103; 
the depository of the kingdom of 
God, 105; what constitutes it a 
nation, 105-6; mission of, to 
destroy a corrupt government, 
108-9; the kingdom of God 
dependent on, 1 14-15; endowed 
with pre-mundane existence, 128; 
the Torah pleads for, and against, 
129; wedded to the Torah, 130; 
why made the bearer of the Torah, 
131-2; to share the Torah with 
the Gentiles, 133; its view of the 
Torah, 137; commended for 
joy in the Law, 149-50; taught 
by God how to pray, 157; holy 
through the commandments, 168- 
9; lives through the Zachuth of 
the Fathers, 175; the solidarity 
of, igi-Sl holiness of, 199- 


200 ; dietary laws the special 
privilege of, 207 ; delivered to the 
sword by idolatry, 223; the 
sanctuary of, destroyed by blood- 
shed, 226; redeemed from Egypt 
to fulfil the commandment of 
justice, 230; redeemed from 
Egypt on condition that it obeys 
the commandment on usury, 230- 
I ; purified by the Day of Atone- 
ment, 234; the sin of, removes the 
Divine Presence, 236, 238; weak- 
ened by sin, 239; apostasy of, due 
to the Evil Yezer^ 242; needs 
grace to extenuate its guilt, 282; 
and the disappearance of the Evil 
Yezer^ 291; rewarded for sub- 
duing the EvU Yezer, 292; the 
solidarity of, and the atoning 
power of sacrifices, 300-1 ; re- 
pentance of, 304; to be punished 
in the future world, 307; humble 
under suffering, 310; the right- 
eous and the children atone for, 
310-11; given opportunity for 
repentance, 316; made to sin, as 
an example of repentance, 317; 
encouraged to repent for great 
sins, 326; met halfway by God, 
327; must confess sins, 336. 

See also Election of Israel, the; 
Kingdom of God, the. 

Israel, the kingdom of, identified 
with the kingdom of God, 103; 
safeguards the conception of the 
kingdom of God, 104; adds the 
feature of material happiness to 
the kingdom of God, 109-14. 

See also Israel ; Election of Is- 
rael, the; Kingdom of God, the 
national; Kingdom of God, the 
visible universal. 

Israel, the relation of God to, 46- 
56; terms for, 46-7; reciprocal, 
47”9> ; paternal character 

of, 51-6; changed by apostasy, 55 
n.; indicated by election, 57. 



366 


INDEX 


See also Israel ; Election of Is- 
rael, the. 

Jacob, and the kingdom of God, 84; 
chooses the world to come as his 
portion, 100. 

See also Fathers, the; Patri- 
archs, the. 

Jealousy, and the imitation of God, 
204; Elijah rebuked for, 204-5. 

Jehoiachin, the repentance of, 
acceptable, 326. 

Jehoiakim, spites God, 220. 

Jeremiah, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with reward for proper 
zeal, 53; with the election of Is- 
rael, 58; with God^s relation to 
the Gentiles, 63 (bis); with the 
kingdom of God, 99 ; with joy of 
the Law, 151; with prayer, 156; 
with the attachment of Israel to 
God, 200; with the Shechinah, 
225; with the inconsistent heart, 
259; with the study of the Torah 
as a weapon against the Evil 
Yezer, 274; with the grace needed 
to conquer the Evil Yezer^ 281, 
282; with the justice to prevail 
in the future world, 307 ; with re- 
pentance human and divine, 327. 

Jeroboam, the division of the king- 
dom under, rebellion against 
God, 87; urged by God to re- 
pent, 319-20. 

Jerusalem, identified with the king- 
dom of God, 99; cause of the 
destruction of, 215; a resident 
of, and the continual burnt offer- 
ing, 300. 

Jesus, the son of Sirach, on wisdom, 
70 - 

Jethro, illustrates the attitude of a 
proselyte, 25. 

Job, Satan’s good intentions con- 
cerning, 268; argues with God 
regarding iYicEvU Yezer^ 273, 280. 

Job, the Book of, cited, in connec- 


tion with man’s rebelliousness, 
83; with the spiritualisation of 
Scriptures, 103; with adultery, 
214, 224-5; with heresy, 226; 
with the justice of God, 305. 

Jochanan, Rabbi, on robbery as a 
capital sin, 227-8. 

Jochanan ben Sakkai, as a modern 
altruist, 18-19. 

Joel, the Book of, cited, in connec- 
tion with man’s direct relation to 
God, 44-5; with being called by 
the name of God, 201 ; with the 
Evil Yezer^ 244; with fasting and 
repentance, 339. 

Jonah, the Book of, quoted, in 
connection with efficacious re- 
pentance, 335. 

Jose, Rabbi, quoted on the reward 
of the righteous, 14. 

Jose ben Chalafta, Rabbi, on the 
qualities of God’s chosen ones, 61. 

Joseph, rules over the Evil Yezer^ 
271 ; the brothers of, defended 
by the Rabbis, 281. 

Joseph Askari, on the joy of the 
Law, 1 51. 

Joshua, Israel under, accepts the 
kingdom of God, 87. 

Joshua, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with Rahab’s acknowl- 
edgement of God, 26. 

Joshua ben Levi, Rabbi, and the 
law of saints, 216; enumerates 
seven names for the Evil Yezer, 
243-4; on repentance in Ge- 
henna, 341 n. 

Joy of the Law, an essential ele- 
ment in the understanding of the 
Law, 146, 148; illustrated in the 
commandment of forgetfulness, 
149; Israel commended for, 149- 
50 ; Scriptural and Rabbinical 
quotations on, 1 50-1 ; mediaeval 
writers on, 150-1; a modern il- 
lustration of, 151-2; illustrated 
on the Sabbath, 152-4; illus- 



INDEX 


367 


trated in the prayers, 154-9; 
a motive for the performance of 
the Law, 168-9. 

See also Law, the ; Torah, the. 

Judah, the princes of, rebellious 
against God, 87-8. 

Judah, the Saint (Rabbi), on the 
time when the Evil Yezer takes 
possession of man, 253-4; prays 
for grace to conquer the Evil 
Yezer ^ 279. 

Judah (Judan), Rabbi, on man’s 
direct relation to God, 44-5. 

Judah ben Ezekiel, Rabbi, defines 
ChasidtUhy 209. 

Judah ben Ilai, Rabbi, limits the 
paternal relation between God 
and Israel, 54; on the imitation 
of God, 203. 

Judah Hallevi, on the inclusiveness of 
the Torah, 146. See also Kusari. 

Judaism, and individualism, 76-9; 
to convert the world, 77; aims to 
establish the visible kingdom of 
God, 79 ; teaches a universal 
kingdom of God, 93; views of, 
on poverty, no; view of, on suf- 
fering, in; insists upon man’s 
happiness on earth, in. 

See also Rabbis, the; etc. 

Judges, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with the administration 
of justice, 229. 

Justice, in God, 38; the execution 
of, conditions the Torah, 143; 
and the imitation of God, 204; 
bad administration of, a form of 
bloodshed, 229-30; superior to 
sacrifices as a means of atone- 
ment, 296; God’s attribute of, 
evoked by sin, 239-40; the Rab- 
bis on, 304-6; prevails in the 
future world, 307; and repent- 
ance, 322. 

Kaddish, the, and the kingdom of 
God, 95. 


Kedushahy holiness within the limits 
of the Law, 201, 209; original 
meaning of, 205; the reward of, 
217-18. 

See also Holiness ; Chasiduth, 

Kiara, Simon. See Simon Kiara. 

King, epithet for God, 21. 

Kingdom of God, the, defined by 
the Rabbis, 65; conception orig- 
inates in the Scriptures, 65; di- 
visions of, 66; universal in its 
aims, 93; conception narrowed 
and enriched by national aspect, 
103-4; bad government incom- 
patible with, 106-9; material 
features of, 109-14; dependent 
upon Israel, 1 14-15; confers 
authority upon the Law, 116; 
holiness grows out of, 199; the 
yoke of, thrown off by the Porek 
oly 220-1 ; the yoke of, thrown off 
by the respecter of persons, 230. 

Kingdom of God, the invisible, how 
to receive the yoke of, 66-7; not 
a burden, 70-2 ; and the dangers 
of quietism, 78. 

Kingdom of God, the national, in 
the liturgy, 97, 105; connected 
with the redemption of Israel, 
98-101, 1 1 4-1 5; opposed to the 
kingdom of Rome, loi ; the 
features of, 104; the spiritual 
features of, 104-6; penitents and 
proselytes in, 106; and material 
happiness, 109-14. 

Kingdom of God, the universal, in 
the Shemay 64. 

See also Gentiles, the. 

Kingdom of God, the visible, the aim 
of Judaism, 78-9; divisions of, 80. 

Kingdom of God, the visible uni- 
versal, dates from the creation of 
man, 81, 82; impaired by sin, 83; 
restored by Abraham, 83-4 ; 
taught by Jacob, 84; established 
by Israel, 84-6, 88-9 ; Israel 
rebellious against, 86-8 ; re- 



368 


INDEX 


ceived by Israel under Joshua, 
87; in this world, 89; terms for, 
89 ; established by man conscious 
of God’s nearness, 89-90 ; an 
ethical concept, 90-1 ; and the 
Torah, 91-2; not political, 92, 
93 ; in the liturgy, 93-6 ; and the 
unity of God, 96; connected with 
the kingdom of Israel, 104-6, 114- 
15 - 

See also Israel, the kingdom of. 

Kingdom of heaven, the, defined, 
65-6, 89. 

See also Kingdom of God, the. 

Kings (I), the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with God’s closeness to 
the earth, 29; with Elijah’s ex- 
cessive zeal, 52-3; with jealousy, 
204 {bis). 

Kings (II), the Book of, cited, in 
connection with Naaman’s ac- 
knowledgement of God, 26; with 
imputed sin, 187; with sin as 
rebellion, 219; with the repent- 
ance of Manasseh, 318, 319. 

Kingship, the, of Go^ and his abode 
in heaven, 31-2; begins with the 
creation of man, 81, 82. 

See also Kingdom of God, the. 

Kneading, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. 

Korah, alluded to, 222; given op- 
portunity for repentance, 316. 

Kusari, the, by Judah Hallevi, 
quoted, 146. 

Lamb, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 47. 

Lamentations, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with Jeremiah’s proper 
zeal, 53; with the kingdom of 
God, 67 ; with the weakening in- 
fluence of sin, 239; with the at- 
tribute of justice, 240. 

Law, the, not connected with hard- 
ness, 34; the allegorising method 
directed against, 40-2 ; fulfil- 


ment of, easy to a child of God, 
5 5 ; derives its authority from the 
kingdom of God, 116; not a cor- 
rect rendering of Torah, 117; 
holiness the highest achievement 
of, 199; relation of Kedushah 
and Chasidtdh to, 201 ; overruled 
by God, for the sake of repent- 
ance, 322. 

See also Joy of the Law; Legal- 
ism; Leviticalism ; Mosaism; 
Torah, the. 

Leaven in the dough, the, the Evil 
Yezer^ 262-3; identified with the 
Evil Yezer in a prayer, 265-6; 
God takes the responsibility for, 
266, 282 ; good purpose of, 266-8. 

See also Evil Yezer ^ the. 

Legalism, charged to be the pre- 
dominant element in Jewish 
theology, 23-4; misunderstood, 
117. 

See also Law, the; Levitical- 
ism; Mosaism; Torah, the. 

Legends, on the revelation, 130-5; 
universalistic tendency of, 131-a. 

LeviticaJ impurity, sacrifices in- 
tended for, 296; the Day of 
Atonement concerned with, 301. 

Leviticalism, not antagonistic to 
Prophetism, 119. 

Leviticus, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with binding laws, 13; 
with the election of Israel, 58 ; with 
the sanction of the Law, 116; 
Scriptural portion for the Day of 
Atonement from, 119; contains 
the essential principle claimed by 
Christianity and humanity, 119-^ 
20 {bis) ; cited, in connection with 
the intention to underlie sacri- 
fices, 160; with God’s covenant 
with the patriarchs, 172 {bis)\ 
with the doctrine of imputed sin, 
192 {bis)\ with the holiness of 
Israel, 200; with holiness through 
separation, 205, 21 1; with sex- 



INDEX 


369 


ual immorality, 206; with rela- 
tions between man and his fellow, 
215; with love of neighbour, 
226-7; with justice, 230; with 
spiritual corruption, 235; with 
unintentional sins, 241 {bis)\ 
with the good heart, 259; with 
the removal of the Evil Yezer, 
292; with the punishment of 
sinners, 293; with the limited 
efficacy of sacrifices, 295; with 
the size of the sacrifice, 297; 
with the scapegoat, 301 ; with 
encouraging sinners to repent, 
321- 

Liars, excluded from the Divine 
Presence, 232. 

Libertinism, and the observance 
of the Torah, 21 1, 

Life of the world, epithet for God, 
26. 

Light, the, of the first day, con- 
cealed by sin, 237. 

Light of the world, epithet for God, 
26. 

Limitation theory of the Cabalists, 
128. 

Lishmah, defined as single-minded- 
ness in the performance of the 
Law, 159-61; attained through 
the performance of the Law, 161 ; 
excludes the idea of reward, 162-3. 

See also Reward. 

Liturgy, the, a source for Rabbinic 
theology, 3, 9-1 1 ; as a theologic 
test for the Talmud, 10; early 
origin of, ii ; in the Talmud, ii ; 
free from alien epithets for God, 
44; the fatherhood of God in, 
54-6 ; the election of Israel in, 57 ; 
the kingship prayers in, universal 
in tone, 93-6; the kingdom of 
God in, 97, 105 ; on the Torah as 
a source of joy, 147; and the 
doctrine of Zachuth^ 184; and 
prayers for the dead, 198; on 
holiness, 218; prayers for grace 
2B 


to conquer the Evil Yezer in, 279- 
80; daily prayer for repentance 
in, 341. 

See also Prayer; Prayer Book, 
the; Prayers, the, of the syna- 
gogue. 

Lord of the World, epithet for God, 
21, 26. 

Lost things, keeping, prevents re- 
pentance, 330. 

Love of God, the, the reason for 
Israel’s election, 61 ; defined, 67- 
70; unconditional, 68; incom- 
patible with love of self, 68-9; a 
longing for God, 69-70, 73-6; 
must be disinterested, 72, 74; 
and the visible kingdom of God, 
78-9; a constituent of the Torah, 
146, 147; the only proper motive 
for the worshipper, 163; the mo- 
tive for performance of the Law, 
167-9. 

Lovingkindness, works of, a weapon 
against the Evil Yezer, 273; have 
atoning power, 312. 

See also Charity. 

Lust, corresponds to the Evil Yezer, 
246; in the soul of man, 260; the 
world based on, 267. 

See also Sexual immorality. 

Luther, quoted, on the intimate re- 
lationship of God and man, 510. 

Luzzatto, Moses Chayim, on love 
of God, 69- 70; on the joy of the 
Law, 15 r; on Chasiduth, 209 n. 

Lydda, alluded to, 216. 

Maacah, mother of Absalom, al- 
luded to, 213. 

Maimonides, and Israel’s election, 
57; on the Mizwoth, 141 ; on the 
Sabbath, 152; on the fulfilment 
of the Mizwoth, 165; on repent- 
ance, 331 ; on the nature of re- 
pentance, 335; on prayer and 
repentance, 339. 

Makom. See Space. 



370 


INDEX 


Malachi, the mouthpiece of the 
Mosaic revelation, 124. 

Malachi, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with the greatness of 
God, 58; with purity of motive in 
performance of the Law, 160-1; 
with heresy, 226; with God as 
judge and witness, 247; with the 
encoiiraging of repentance in 
sinners, 321; with repentance 
human and Divine, 327. 

Malady, the name for the Evil 
Yezer, 244. 

Man, the creation of, and God's 
kingship, 81, 93 ; a free agent, 81- 
2; the centre of creation, 82; in 
rebellion, 83; effect of his con- 
sciousness of God, 89-90; the 
master of his inclinations, 270-3. 

Manasseh, a Porek ol, 221; his re- 
pentance acceptable to God, 318- 
19, 326; his repentance not the 
highest degree, 320. 

Manners, good, God a model of, 203. 

Marcion, Harnack on, 18. 

Marriage laws, in the Mishnah, 2. 

Martyrdom, enjoined to prevent the 
commission of the cardinal sins, 
222. 

Mashal, the. See Allegoric inter- 
pretation of Scripture. 

Master of all Creation, epithet for 
God, 22, 34. 

Masters, slights put upon, prevent 
repentance, 330. 

Material, term not used in Rab- 
binic literature, 144. 

Material happiness, a feature of the 
national kingdom of God, 109-14; 
and religion, in. 

Mechilia, the, censures Israel for 
deferring the kingdom of God, 86 ; 
numerous citations from the 
Prophets and Hagiographa in, 
122. 

Mediatorship, denounced by the 
Rabbis, 21, 45* 


Meekness, the reason for Israel's 
election, 60. 

Meir Ibn Gabbai, quoted, on love 
of God, 69, 75-6. 

Memra, epithet for God, 35 ; (Word) 
as used by the Rabbis, 39, 43 n. 

Men of the Great Assembly, and the 
Evil Yezer, 246-7, 250. 

Menelaus, high priest, alluded to, 92. 

Merciful One, epithet for God, 34. 

Mercy, God’s attribute of, turned 
into justice by sin, 239-40; and 
repentance, 322-4; represented 
by the “right hand” of God, 323. 

Mercy of God, to be imitated by 
men, 201, 202; in the interpreta- 
tion of the Law, recommended, 
215-16; lack of, equal to a denial 
of the law, 231-2; the world 
based on, 267. 

Merits of the Fathers, the. See 
Zachuth. 

Messiah, the, pre-mundane existence 
of the name, etc., of, 13 n., 59, 
128; and the kingdom of God, 
100, 1 01 -3; poverty delays the 
coming of, 114; exalted beyond 
the patriarchs, 174; the advent 
of, to banish the Evil Yezer, 290-- 
2. 

Messianic aspirations, treated by 
the Agadah, 3. 

Messianic time, the, and the unity 
of God, 96. 

Metatron, read into the Book of 
Exodus, 41. 

Micah, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with the Mizwoth, 140; 
with the grace needed to con- 
quer the Evil Yezer, 281 ; with 
the atoning power of the burnt 
offering, 299. 

Michael, angel, not a mediator, 45, 
67; may not approach Moses, 
238. 

Midrash, the, on the narratives of 
the Bible, 120. 



INDEX 


371 


Midrashic works, theologic sources, 
3 - 

Midrashim, the. See Rabbis, the; 
Rabbinic literature, the. 

Ministering angels, surrounding 
God, a8, 32. 

Miracles, in Rabbinic literature, 5- 

8 . 

Mishael, justified in rebelling against 
Nebuchadnezzar, 107. 

Mishnah, the, character of the con- 
tents, 2; drawbacks as a theo- 
logic source, 3-4; liturgical pas- 
sages in, II ; on the Evil Yezer^ 
245, 246. 

Missionary enterprises, and the 
Rabbis, 132. 

Mizwoth^ the, complementary to 
the Torah, 117-18; the number 
and divisions of, according to R. 
Simlai, 138, 141-2; denounced as 
a burden, 13 8-9; the number of, 
interpreted homiletically, 139-40; 
which were obsolete in the time 
of the Rabbis, 141; which were 
restricted in their application, 141 ; 
character of, 142; inclusiveness 
of, 142-4; how considered by 
Israel, 148; salvation not de- 
pendent on the number ful- 
filled, 164-6; a source of holi- 
ness, 168-9; doctrinal value of, 

231- 

“Modernity,” and the Rabbis, 19- 
20. 

Moloch, laws on sacrifices to, not a 
practical consideration, 141. 

Mommsen, on the cruelty of the 
Roman government, 108-9 n. 

Montaigne, quoted, 39. 

Moral principles of the revelation, 
unacceptable to the nations, 132. 

Mosaism, not antagonistic to Proph- 
etism, 1 1 9. 

See also Law, the; Legalism; 
Leviticalism; Torah, the. 1 

Moses, form of his acknowledgement j 


of God, 26 ; appearance of God to, 
a proof of God’s omnipresence, 
29; buried by God, 37; offers 
himself as an atoning sacrifice, 53, 
310; exalted place of, as a 
prophet, 1 1 8, 124 n.; captures the 
Torah from heaven, 130; in- 
structed in all the deductions 
from the Torah, 134-5; and the 
appointment of judges, 143; in- 
vokes the ZachtUh of the tribes, 
172-3; invokes the Zachuth of 
the Fathers, 174; the meekness 
of, 223; the effect of sin on, 237- 
8; name given to the Evil Yezer 
by, 243; reproaches God for the 
Evil Yezer f 283; prays for the 
regeneration of the sinner, 316. 

Moses Loeb, of Sasow, on scepti- 
cism, III. 

Mother, term for the relation be- 
tween God and Israel, 47. 

Mothers, the, in the sense of the 
wives of the three patriarchs, 172. 

Murder, and the doctrine of im- 
puted sin, 196; a cardinal sin, 
205; different kinds of, 213; un- 
known, sacrifice for, 301 ; not 
subject to repentance, 333. 

See also Bloodshed. 

Mystic, a, on repentance, 334. 

Mysticism, and God’s abode, 28-9, 
32; in Judaism, 76; defined by 
De Wette, 77; and law, 78. 

Mystics, the, on the reciprocal rela- 
tionship of God and Israel, 47-8; 
on the love of God, 68-70, 72-6; 
on the creation of the world, ia8; 
and combinations of letters, 129; 
their view of the Torah, 135; on 
unintentional sins, 241 ; on the 
heart as the seat of the Yezers^ 
256. 

Naaman, illustrates the attitude of 
a proselyte, 25-6. 

Nachmanides,on imputed sin, 186 n. ; 



372 


INDEX 


on Chasiduth, 211-12; on the 
law of goodness, 214-15. 

Narratives, the, of the Bible, how 
regarded, 120. 

Nationalism, and the Torah, 105- 

6 . 

Nazarite, a, cuts ofF hair to subdue 
the Evil Yezer^ 277. 

Nazir, the, the holiness of, 211-12. 

Nebuchadnezzar, justified rebellion 
against, 107. 

New Testament, the, the Prophets 
and Hagiographa called Law in, 
125. 

New Year, the, the kingdom of God, 
in the liturgy of, 93-4, 105. 

Nezikin^ Talmudic tractate, atten- 
tion to, identified with Chasi- 
duth^ 209. 

Nimrod, a rebel, 219. 

Nineveh, the repentance of the men 
of, 326. 

Noah, and the doctrine of imputed 
sin, 195 ; saved for the sake of his 
children, 196; the dietary laws 
distinguish Israel from the de- 
scendants of {see also Gentiles, 
the), 207. 

Nomism. See Legalism. 

NomoSy not a correct rendering of 
Torah, 117; applied to the 
Prophets and Hagiographa, 125. 

Numbers, the Book of, cited, in con- 
nection with the faithfulness of 
Israel, 59; with the superiority of 
the Torah, 118; with the joy of 
the Law, 150; with the holiness 
of fulfilling Biblical command- 
ments, 208; with the Porek oly 
221; with humility, 223; with 
the weakening influence of sin, 
239; with the Nazarite, 249; with 
free will and the Evil Yezer^ 287; 
with the intention underlying sac- 
rifice, 298 ; with the atoning power 
of the continual burnt offering, 
299 - 


Oaths, administration of, in the 
Mishnah, 2. 

Obadiah, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with the kingdom of 
God, 100. 

Olahy the. See Burnt offering, the. 

Old Testament, the, the economic 
ideal of, 112. 

Only One of the world, epithet for 
God, 26. 

Ophanim, the, surrounding God, 
28, 32. 

Palestine, laws on the conquest of, 
obsolete, 141. 

Pantheistic notions in Jewish writ- 
ers, 27-8, 30. 

Pappos, on the arbitrariness of God, 
305 - 

Paradise, endowed with pre-mun- 
dane existence, 128. 

Pardon. See Forgiveness. 

Patriarchs, the, atone for Israel, 53, 
310; teachers of the kingdom of 
God, 92 ; have dominion over the 
Evil Yezery 271 . 

See also Fathers, the. 

Paul, apostle, antinomian influence 
of, 4; attitude of commentators 
on Epistles of, 18. 

Penitence, qualifies for the kingdom 
of God, 106. 

See also Repentance. 

Pentateuch, the, often equivalent to 
Torah, 118; sometimes con- 
sidered higher than the prophets, 
1 18; contains more than law, 
1 2 1 ; importance of, in the Mes- 
sianic time, 124 n.; the Prophets 
depend on, 124. 

See also Law, the; Torah, the. 

People, term for the relation of Is- 
rael to God, 46. 

Persecution, the reason for Israel’s 
election, 60. 

Personification of the Torah, 129- 

30- 



INDEX 


373 


Perushim, those who abstain from 
things superfluous, 21 1. 

Petra^ an epithet for Abraham, 173. 

Pharaoh, type of man deified, 39; 
why God hardened his heart, 332. 

Phenomena, natural, warn men to 
repent, 315. 

Piyutim, fictions, term applied to 
the narratives of the Bible, 120. 

Pledge, taking the, of the poor, pre- 
vents repentance, 330. 

Ploughing, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. 

Polytheism, disguised, detrimental 
to belief in the unity of God, 68- 
9 - 

See also Idolatry. 

Poor, plundering the, prevents re- 
pentance, 331. 

Porek ol^ defined, 220-1. 

Poverty, inconsistent with the king- 
dom of God, no; the Rabbis 
on, 112-13; a remedy against the 
Evil Yezer, 278. 

Power, the, of God, 38. 

Prayer, heard instantaneously by 
God, 31; defined by a mediaeval 
Rabbi, 42; by Israel, acceptable 
to God, 49, 50-1 ; characterised 
by the Rabbis, 156-7; devotion 
indispensable in, 156-9; proper 
motive for, 162; renders the 
Zachuth of the Fathers efficacious, 
180; invalidated by robbery, 228- 
9,234; accompanying repentance, 
338 - 9 - 

Prayer, a, by a girl regarding the 
Evil YezeVy 265; by a Rabbi re- 
garding the leaven in the dough, 
265-6 ; by a Rabbi regarding the 
Evil Yezer^ 277. 

Prayer Book, the, and the charge of 
a transcendental God in Rabbinic 
theology, 22-3, 29; term for the 
kingdom of God in, 89. 

See also Liturgy, the; Prayer; 
Prayers, the, of the synagogue. 


Prayers, by Rabbis, for grace to 
conquer the Evil Yezer^ 278-9. 

Prayers, the, of the synagogue, 
illustrate the joy of the Law, 
154-9; composed by the Rabbis, 

155. 

Pre-mundane existences, 13 and n., 
59-60, 80, 127, 128-9, 135, 314. 

Presence, the Divine. See Shechi- 
nah, the. 

Pride, a form of idolatry, 223-4. 

Profanation of the name of God, 
caused by idolatry, 223; a sin not 
subject to repentance, 328, 329. 

Prohibitive laws, the number of, 138. 

Property laws, in the Mishnah, 2. 

Prophecy, equivalent to holiness, 
217; on the punishment of sin- 
ners, 293. 

Prophetism, not antagonised by 
Mosaism, 119. 

Prophets, the, atone for Israel, 53, 
310; plead with God for Israel, 
53-4; demand punishment by 
death, rather than repentance, 
323 - 

Prophets, the, the books of, some- 
times excluded by the term 7 'orahy 
1 18; sometimes considered less 
than the Pentateuch, 118; in- 
cluded in the term Torah, 121-6; 
lessons from, accompany the Pen- 
tateuch portions, 122; frequently 
quoted by the Rabbis, 122 ; bene- 
diction for, 123; dependent on 
the Pentateuch, 124; how cited 
in Rabbinic literature, 124-5. 

Proselytes, transitory character of 
opinions on, 9-10; inclined to 
transcendentalism in acknowl- 
edging God, 25-6; and epithets 
for God, 46; in the kingdom of 
God, 106. 

Proverbs, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with the wisdom of 
God, 38 ; with the glorification of 
God through Creation, 80; with 



374 


INDEX 


wisdom, 127, 129; with the ways 
of the Torah, 143; with the Za- 
ckuth of a pious contemporary, 
190; with the doctrine of imputed 
sin, 193; with the ZachtUh of a 
pious posterity, 197 ; with the strict 
interpretation of the Law, 216 
(6w); with pride, 223; with the 
contamination of sin, 234; with 
unintentional sins, 240; with the 
Evil Yezefy 243; with sin as the 
cause of death, 247; with free 
will and the Evil Yezer^ 287 {bis); 
with the punishment of sinners, 
293; with the limited efficacy of 
sacrifices, 296; with atonement 
through suffering, 309; with 
death-bed repentance, 340. 

Psalms, the, cited, in connection 
with Araboth, 28, 31; with the 
abode of God, 32, 36; with the 
wealth of God, 38; with Israel 
forsaken by God, 43; with the 
title applied by God to Israel, 47; 
with the election of Israel, 58; 
with the unity of God, 69 ; with 
longing for God, 70; with the 
kingship of God, 82, 90, 97, 98, 
99; and the Law, 116; cited, in 
connection with the power of 
God^s work, 121; with the ex- 
tent of the Torah, 122; with the 
Torah as the bride of Israel, 130; 
with the Mizwoih, 140; with the 
inclusiveness of the Torah, 144; 
divested of individualistic ten- 
dency, 155; cited in connection 
with devotion in prayer, 156, 157; 
with performing the Law without 
reference to reward, 162-3 (^^); 
with the essential commandments, 
164; with negative and positive 
virtue, 167; with the Zachuth of 
a pious ancestry, 183; with re- 
venge, 204; with exaltation, 204; 
with pride, 223; with the weak- 
ening influence of sin, 239; with 


the EvU Yezer^ 242, 243, 244 (6w), 
245 ; with sexual intercourse, 253; 
with the clean heart, 258; with 
the study of the Torah as a 
weapon against the Evil Yezer, 
274; with grace to conquer the ] 
Evil Yezer, 78 (6«); with free 
will and the Evil Yezer^ 286; 
with the punishment of sinners, 
293 ; with pardon granted by 
God, 294-S (bis); with the in- 
tention underlying sacrifice, 298; 
with humility in suffering, 310; 
with the act of revelation, 311; 
with mercy through repentance, 
313; with God's instruction in 
repentance, 314-16; with repent- 
ance human and Divine, 327 

I (bis), 328, 

Pseudo- Jonathan, on the Evil Yezcr, 
242. 

Punishment, the, of the sinner, 293, 
294, 304. 

See also Reward and punish- 
ment. 

Queen, epithet of the Sabbath, 154. 

Rab, and the strict interpretation of 
the Law, 215-16. 

Rabba, defines ChasidtUh, 209. 

Rabba Bar bar Ghana, and the 
strict interpretation of the Law, 
215-16. 

Rabbinic literature, as a theologic 
source, 2-9, 11-16. 

See Rabbis, the. 

Rabbis, the, supposed character- 
istics of, 2 ; as miracle- workers, 7 ; 
on faith, 14; on sin, 14; on the 
closeness of God to man, 24-8, 
29”‘3o, 3i» 33; epithets for God 
used by, 26-8, 34; and the doc- 
trine of a personal God, 30 ; their 
view of the Law, 34 ; on the names 
of God, 35-6; on corporeal terms 
applied to God, 36-7; delight in 



INDEX 


375 


humanising God, 37-8; object to 
deifying man, 38-9 ; and the 
allegorising method, 39-44; rev- 
erence of, for the Scriptures, 42-3 ; 
substitute the Tetragrammaton 
for the epithets for God, 46 ; 
terms applied by, to the relation 
between God and Israel, 47 ; 
on the reciprocal relation between 
God and Israel, 48-9, 50-1 ; on 
the fatherhood of God, 51-6; on 
the election of Israel, 58-64; de- 
fine the kingdom of God, 65; 
on love of God, 66-8, 79; on 
freedom in the kingdom of God, 
70-2; on the character of the 
reward of the righteous, 78; on 
the creation of man as a free 
agent, 81 ; on the kingship of 
God, 82; on Israel’s establish- 
ing the kingdom of God, 85-6, 
88-9 ; on man’s righteousness 
and the kingdom of God, 89-91 ; 
on the Torah and the kingdom 
of God, 91-2; on the form 
of government, 92; on the na- 
tional kingdom of God, 100, 
101-3, 105, 1 14-15; on what 

constitutes Israel a nation, 105- 
6; on the Roman government, 
107-9; on material happiness 
connected with the national 
kingdom of God, 109-14; on 
poverty, no, 1 12-13; the eco- 
nomic ideal of, 112; object 
to speculation, 1 12-13; on the 
relation of employer to em- 
ployee, 1 13; on the connection 
between Israel and the kingdom 
of God, 1 1 4-1 5 ; on the sanction 
of the Law, 116; on the relative 
value of Moses and the other 
prophets, 1 1 8 ; on the books of the 
Prophets, 119, 124; on the Torah 
as the word of God, 120-1 ; on the 
Book of Genesis, 121; on extra- 
legal elements in the Torah, 121; 


frequently quote the Prophets 
and Hagiographa, 122; include 
the Hagiographa in the Scrip- 
tures, 123; extend the use of 
Torah beyond the Scriptures, 126; 
on the Torah as wisdom, 127; 
attitude toward missionary enter- 
prises, 132; on the pregnant 
meaning of the Torah, 134; on 
the Torah as God’s will, 136-7; 
Mizwoth obsolete in the time of, 
141 ; on the inclusiveness of the 
Torah, 142-4; make no division 
between material and spiritual, 
144-6; the Torah a source of 
joy to, 146-7, 1 50-1; on the 
Sabbath, 152-4; accused of 
mechanical tendencies, 155; the 
composers of the liturgy, 155; 
on prayer, 155-7; on purity of 
motive in the performance of 
the Law, 160-1; on reward and 
punishment, 162-3; on negative 
and positive virtue, 166-7; on 
love as the motive for the per- 
formance of the Law, 167-9; on 
the ancestors whose Zachuth is 
invoked, 172-3; on the Fathers, 
i 73 “S; on the Zachuth of a pious 
ancestry, 176-7, 181-5; limit the 
Zachuth of the Fathers, 177-8; 
impute unlimited efl&cacy to it, 
178-81; on imputed sin, 186-9; 
on the Zachuth of a pious con- 
temporary, 189-90; on the soli- 
darity of Israel, 19 1-5; on im- 
puted sin through posterity, 196- 
7; on the Zachuth of posterity, 
197-8; on holiness as an Imitatio 
Dei, 199-200; on the imitation 
of God by man, 201-5 ; on sexual 
immorality, 205-6; on the dietary 
laws, 207 ; on acts provoking dis- 
gust, 207; on Chasiduthy 209-10; 
on the law of goodness, 215-16; 
on communion with God, 217-18; 
define sin as rebellion, 219-20; 



376 


INDEX 


on usury, 230-1 ; on separation 
from God, 232-3; on the con- 
tamination of sin, 233-6; on sin 
as folly, 236-7; on the blighting 
influence of sin, 237-40; on un- 
intentional sins, 240-1 ; on the 
two Yezers, 243; give various 
names to the Evil Yezer, 243-4; 
on the activity of the EvU Yezer, 
244-7; on the period in which 
the Fjvil Yezer takes possession of 
man, 252-5; do not consider 
man corrupt, 262; keep to the 
golden mean, 264; on the leaven 
in the dough, 266; on weapons 
against the Evil Yezer, 273; on 
the uses of the study of the Torah 
against the Evil Yezer, 275; on 
ascetic remedies against the Evil 
Yezer, on grace to conquer 

the Evil Yezer, 278-84; on the 
punishment of sinners, 293-4; on 
the intention underlying sacri- 
fices, 297-8; on the Day of Atone- 
ment, 301-4; on the justice of 
God, 304-6; offer themselves as 
an atonement for Israel, 311; on 
God’s instruction of men in re- 
pentance, 314-15; on relapsing 
into sin, 339. 

Rahab, illustrates the attitude of 
the proselyte, 26. 

Reaping, forbidden on the Sabbath, 
153 - 

Rebellion, against God, the first 
sin, 83; the sin of Israel, 86-8; 
definition of sin by the Rabbis, 
219-22, 233. 

Reciprocal relation between God 
and Israel, 47-9, 50-1. 

Reconciliation with God, through 
sacrifices, limited in efficacy, 295- 
7; through death and suffering, 
307-8; through confession of sin, 

338- 

See also Atonement, Repent- 1 
ance. 


Regulations of ChasidtUh, by EHe- 
zer of Worms, quoted, 210. 

Religion, place of material happiness 
in. III. 

Remnant, the, of Israel, establishes 
the kingdom of God, 88-9. 

Renan, quoted, 155. 

Reparation, a condition of accept- 
able repentance, 333. 

See also Restitution. 

Repentance, treated by the Aga- 
dah, 3; accepted instantaneously 
by God, 31 ; endowed with pre- 
mundane existence, 128, 314; 

restores efficacy to the Zachuth 
of the Fathers, 180-1, 185 n.; en- 
sures forgiveness for sins, 293-4; 
ways of achieving, 294; must 
accompany sacrifices, 294, 296-7, 
313; on the Day of Atonement, 
302-3; for the Evil Yezer, 304, 
313; prayer for, 313; the only 
means of atonement, 313; urged 
by God himself, 314-16, 319; 
possible for the greatest sins, 317, 
318, 325-6, 333“4; Manasseh an 
extreme instance of, 318-19, 320; 
through fear, of a low order, 320; 
and restitution, 320; encouraged 
through intercourse between saints 
and sinners, 321; opposed by 
the angels, 321-2; and God’s 
attributes of justice and mercy, 
322-4; the good portion assigned 
to this world, 324; an act of 
grace, 324; depends on the ini- 
tiative of man, 324, 327» 334; 
false shame not to stand in the 
way of, 324-5; need not be 
public, 326; a mutual relation 
between God and man, 327-8; 
inefficacious in five cases, 328- 
3 ®» 333; prevented by twenty- 
four things, 330-1 ; Maimonides 
on, 331, 335, 339; inefficacious 
after three warnings, 332; must 
be accompanied by reparation, 



INDEX 


377 


333; a mystic’s view of, 334; 
the nature of, 334; consists of 
acts, 334-5; must be accom- 
panied by confession of sin, 335- 
8; and prayer, 338-9; and fast- 
ing, 339-40; on the death-bed, 
340-1; daily, 342; during the 
Ten Penitential Days, 342; not 
limited to special seasons, 342-3. 

See also Penitence. 

Restitution, a condition of atone- 
ment for moral sins, 296, 303; and 
repentance, 320. 

See also Reparation. 

Resurrection, controversy about the 
Scriptural authority for the belief 
in, 124-5. 

Reuben ben Astrobolis, Rabbi, on 
the time when the Evil Yezer 
takes possession of man, 252. 

Revelation, the, indispensable to 
the existence of the world, 128-9; 
the day of, in Rabbinic literature, 

1 30- 1; universalistic feature of, 

131- 2, 133, 135; moral features 
of, unacceptable to the Gentiles, 
132; an act of grace, 133-5 ; due 
to the ZachiUh of the Fathers, 1 74 ; 
and the doctrine of imputed sin, 
195; the act of, made dependent 
upon the children of the Israelites, 

See also Law, the; Pentateuch, 
the; Torah, the. 

Revenge, and the imitation of God, 
204. 

Reward, the, of the righteous, R. 
Jose on, 14; not the motive for 
the performance of the Law, 167, 
169. 

See also Lishmah. 

Reward and punishment, in the 
Rabbinical system, 162-3. 

‘Right hand,” the, of God, repre- 
sents the attribute of mercy, 323. 

Righteous, the, reward of, 14; com- 
pose the kingdom of God, 106; 


how they differ from the wicked, 
270-1; and the appearance of 
the Evil Yezer f 290; the atoning 
power of, 310. 

Righteous One of the world, epithet 
for God, 26. 

Righteousness, imputed. See Za- 
chuth. 

Righteousness, treated by the Aga- 
dah, 3; establishes the kingdom 
of God, 89-90, 93 ; culminates 
in holiness, 1 99 ; and the ZachtUh^ 
176, 180, 189-90; of God, to be 
imitated by man, 202. 

Ritual observances, attacked by the 
EvU Yezer ^ 251. 

Robbery, a form of bloodshed, 227- 
9; invalidates sacrifices, 228; 
invalidates charity, 228; invali- 
dates prayer, 228-9, 
subject to repentance, 333. 

Rome, identified with the enemies 
of the kingdom of God, 99-101, 
106-9; obedience to, enjoined 
upon Israel, 107; objection to 
the government of, 107-8; con- 
sidered corrupt by the Rabbis, 
108-9. 

Saadya, Rabbi, on what constitutes 
Israel a nation, 105; defines the 
worshipper, 164; on relapsing 
into sin, 339. 

Sabbath, the, man the lord of, 152; 
attacks upon, 152-3; illustrates 
the joy of the Law, 153-4; 
celebrated by the observers of it, 
153-4; epithets given to, 154; 
profanation of, due to the Evil 
Yezer, 246. 

Sacrifices, invalidated by robbery, 
228; accompanied by repent- 
ance, 294, 296-7; limited in effi- 
cacy as a means of atonement, 
295-7; charity superior to, 296; 
efficacy depends upon the inten- 
tion, 297-8; atoning power as- 



378 


INDEX 


signed to, by the Rabbis, 300-1; 
suffering compared to, 308-9; 
death compared to, 310; the 
Torah and charity compared to, 
312; demanded by the Torah, 
323 - 

Safety, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 46. 

Saintliness. See Chasiduth. 

Saints, associate with sinners to 
encourage repentance, 321. 

“Saints, The, Chapters of,^^ mir- 
acles reported in, 6. 

Salvation, not dependent on the 
number of commandments ful- 
filled, 164; secured by the fulfil- 
ment of one commandment, 165- 
6; secured by negative virtues, 
166-7; depends upon the actions 
of man, 182, 189. 

Salvation, term for the relation 
between God and Israel, 46. 

Samael, identified with the Evil 
Yezer, 246, 262. 

Samaritans, the, on what is to be 
included under Torah, 122, 

Samuel (I), the Book of, cited, in 
connection with the foundations 
of the world, 173; with the Za- 
chulh of posterity, 197. 

Samuel (II), the Book of, cited, in 
connection with Israel in rebel- 
lion, 87; with the righteous as 
the pillars of the spiritual world, 
89. 

Samuel de Ozedo, quoted, on dis- 
interested love of God, 72 n. 

Samuel Hakaton, worthy of the 
Divine Presence, 238. 

Satan, identified with the Evil 
Yezer, 244-5, 251-2, 268; har- 
bours good intentions concerning 
Job, 268; cannot enter the Beth- 
Hammidrash, 274. 

Scapegoat, the, the atoning power 
of, 301. 

Scepticism, reason for, given by 


Moses Loeb, of Sasow, in; due 
to the Evil Yezer^ 251-2. 

Scoffers, excluded from the Divine 
Presence, 232. 

Scoffing, prevents repentance, 331. 

Scriptures, the, the conception of 
the kingdom of God in, 65-6; 
included in the term Torah, 121- 
6; knowledge of, required of the 
Talmid Chacham, 122. 

See also Law, the; Pentateuch, 
the; Prophets, the; Torah, the. 

Secret sin. See Sin, secret. 

Sectarianism, how dealt with in 
Rabbinic literature, 10 and n.; 
opposed by the Rabbis through 
Scriptural interpretations, 36—7. 

Seder Elijah, the, term for sin in, 
233 - 

Seducing, the function of the Evil 
Yezer, 248; others, prevents re- 
pentance, 329, 330, 333. 

See also Tempting. 

Self, love of, incompatible with 
love of God, 68. 

Self-aggrandisement at the exjpense 
of others, prevents repentance, 
330 - 

Separateness, and holiness, 205 ; 
Nachmanides on, 211-12. 

See Holiness. 

Separation between God and man, 
caused how, 232-3. 

Seraphim the, surrounding God, 
28, 32. 

Serpent, the, identified with the Evil 
Yezer, 246, 262, 282. 

Sexual immorality, denounced by 
the Rabbis, 205-6; due to the 
Evil Yezer, 246; affects the 
minority of men, 250. 

See also Adultery. 

Sexual intercourse, subject to re- 
strictions, 21 1 ; tainted with sin, 

253- 

Shame, not to stand in the way of 
repentance, 324-5. 



INDEX 


379 


Shammai, not a miracle- worker, 7. 

Shammai, the school of, on the cre- 
ation of man, 8; on the atoning 
power of the burnt offering, 299. 

Shechinah, epithet for God, 35. 

Shechinah, the, as used by the Rab- 
bis, 39; removed by idolatry, 223; 
removed by pride, 223; not re- 
spected by a violent man, 224; 
removed by adultery, 224-5; re- 
moved by murder, 226; removed 
by slander, 227; removed by the 
bad administration of justice, 
229-30; removed by disrespect, 
232; removed by sin in general, 
232-3, 238; classes of persons 
excluded from, 232; revealed 
upon the removal of the Evil 
Yezer^ 292. 

Shedding of blood. See Bloodshed; 
Murder. 

Shema, the, and the universal 
kingdom of God, 64; and the 
kingdom of God, 65, 66-7, 71; 
Israel’s confession of faith, 119. 

Shepherd, term for the relation be- 
tween God and Israel, 46, 49. 

Shirah (Song), the, and the kingdom 
of God, 85. 

Shofar, the sound of the, an invi- 
tation to repentance, 342. 

Simlai, Rabbi, on the Mizwoth, 
138-40. 

Simon, Rabbi, on Israel’s connec- 
tion with the kingdom of God, 
98. 

Simon ben Jochai, on the responsi- 
bility of God for the existence of 
the Evil Yezer, 281. 

Simon the Just, on the Evil Yezer^ 
248-9. 

Simon Kiara, on the Mizwoth, 141. 

Simon ben Lakish, Rabbi, on the 
abode of God, 30-1 ; sums up 
the activity of the Evil Yezer, 
244, 245- 

Sin, treated by the Agadah, 3; the 


Rabbis on, 14; separates man 
from God, 33 ; has no effect upon 
the paternal relation between God 
and Israel, 54; angels incapable 
of, 81; disfigures man and the 
world, 83; counteracted by the 
Zachuth of the Fathers, 174; 
caused by the heart and the eyes, 
208; defined by the Rabbis as 
rebellion, 219-22; causes the 
separation of man from God, 
232-3, 241; various equivalents 
for, 233-5; a symptom of cor- 
ruption, 235-6; described as 
folly, 236-7; has a blighting in- 
fluence upon the world, 237-40; 
man persuaded to, by the EvU 
Yezer, 245, 260; death the con- 
sequence of, 245, 247; children 
immune from, 254; the agents 
of, 258; sways the soul, 260-1; 
relapsing into, 339-40. 

See also Evil Yezer, the; Im- 
puted sin; Sins; Sins, the car- 
dinal, etc. 

Sin, imputed. See Imputed sin. 

Sin, secret, and the doctrine of im- 
puted sin, 194; classified with 
blasphemy, 222. 

Sin, unintentional, held in abhor- 
rence like others, 240-1; a sign 
of carelessness, 240-1 ; Nach- 
manides on, 241 ; sin offering for, 
296. 

Sin offering, the, accompanied by 
repentance, 296. 

Sins, the number of, not to stand 
in the way of repentance, 325; 
the character of, not < to stand in 
the way of repentance, 325-6, 
333-4; repentance for, inefiSca- 
cious if repeated, 328-9, 330. 

Sins, the cardinal, enumerated, 205- 
6; sins of rebellion, 222-32; have 
appurtenances, 223; exceeded by 
hatred, 227; called evil things, 
232. 



380 


INDEX 


See also Adultery; Bloodshed; 
Idolatry. 

Sins, the confession of. See Confes- 
sion of sins, the. 

See also Evil Yezer, the; Sin; 
Sins, the cardinal. 

Sister, term for the relation between 
God and Israel, 47. 

Skinning, forbidden on the Sabbath, 
153 - 

Slander, a form of bloodshed, 227; 
called an evil thing, 232; a com- 
mon sin, 250-1 ; habitual, pre- 
vents repentance, 330. 

Slavery, describes the relation of 
Israel to God, in certain condi- 
tions, 55 and n. 

Social misery, inconsistent with the 
kingdom of God, no. 

Sodom and the doctrine of Za- 
chuthy 190; the people of, rebels, 
219, 222 ; cause pain to God, 219- 
20; warned to repent, 315. 

Solidarity, of Israel, and the doc- 
trine of imputed sin, 191-5. 

See also Community, the. 

Solomon, throws off the yoke of 
God, 87 ; name given to the Evil 
Yezer by, 243. 

Solomon, The Psalms of, not useful 
as a source of Rabbinic theology, 
4 - 5 - 

Song of Songs, cited, in connection 
with the sweetness of the Law, 137 ; 
with the contamination of sin, 134. 

Soul, the, the mystics on, 241 ; 
equivalent to the heart, 260-1. 

See also Heart, the. 

Sowing, forbidden on the Sabbath, 

153- 

Space of the world, epithet for God, 
26, 34; does not imply remote- 
ness, 34, 46. 

Spinning, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. , 

Spiritual, term not used in Rabbinic , 
literature, 144. 


Spite towards God, 220. 

Spoiler y the, name for the Evil 
Yezer y 244. 

Statutes, the, observance of, under- 
mined by the Evil Yezer y 251. 

Stay of the world, epithet for God, 
26. 

Stoney name for the Evil Yezer y 243; 
allegory on, 274. 

Strange Gody name for the EvU 
Yezer y 244. 

Strength, epithet for God, 34. 

“Stretching the hand into the root,” 
blasphemy, 222. 

“Strong hand,” the, equivalent to 
the “right hand,” 322. 

Students, and the doctrine of im- 
puted sin, 193. 

Stumbling-hlocky name for the Evil 
Yezery 243. 

Suffering, treated by the Agadah, 3 ; 
inconsistent with the kingdom of 
God, iio-ii; the punishment of 
the sinner, 293, 294, 304; an 
atonement, 304, 307-10; to be 
accepted submissively, 309-10. 

Supreme, epithet for God, 21. 

Suspicion of the upright, prevents 
repentance, 331. 

System der Altsynagogalen Palds- 
tinensischen Theologiey by Weber, 
charges Jewish theology with ex- 
cessive legalism, 23-4. 

Taanith, Talmudic tractate, mir- 
acles reported in, 6. 

Tabernacle, the laws about the, ob- 
solete, 1 41. 

Talmid Chacham, the, knowledge 
of the Scriptures required of, 
122. 

Talmud, the, as a theologic source, 
5-6, 9-1 1 ; composite character 
of, 9-1 1 ; liturgical elements in, 

II. 

Talmud, the Babylonian, epithet 
for God in, 34. 



INDEX 


381 


Talmudical works, theologic sources, 

3- 

Tanna, the, of the School of Elijah, 
on Israel’s election, 61-2. 

Tannaitic times, origin of the liturgy 
in, II. 

Tanning, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. 

Targum, the, on the Evil Yezer^ 243. 

Targumim, the, epithets for God 
used in, 35; commentators on, 
not systematic theologians, 15-16. 

See also Rabbis, the. 

Tempting, the function of the Evil 
Yezer^ 248. 

See also Seducing. 

Ten Penitential Days, a call to re- 
pentance, 342; ascetic practices 
connected with, 342. 

Tetragrammaton, the, applied to 
the God of mercy, 36, 239; con- 
nected with the Scriptural de- 
scription of the sacrifices, 45 ; 
ordered to be pronounced, to 
guard against heresies, 45; sub- 
stituted for epithets for God, 46; 
a pre-mundane existence, 80. 

Theocracy, a, the only form of gov- 
ernment known to the Rabbis, 
92, 93- 

Theology, Rabbinic, sources of, 2-6, 
9-1 1 ; not a formal system, 1 2-1 7 ; 
impulsive character of, 12-13; 
lacks logicality, 13-15, 30; dif- 
ficulty of systematising, 16-17; 
Jewish attitude of author to, 17- 
18; attitude of author to, not 
apologetic, 18-20; exalted char- 
acter of, 20; charged with hav- 
ing a transcendental God, 21-2, 
23; not influenced by mystical 
and pantheistic notions of God’s 
abode, 30. 

See also Rabbis, the. 

Theosophy, and the Torah, 135. 

Thieves, partnership with, pre- 
vents repentance, 330. 


Throne of glory, the, 28, 32. 

Tochachoth, the, make the Book of 
Deuteronomy an Imitatio Dei, 
119. 

Torah, the, and the creation of the 
world, 81 ; and the kingdom of 
God, 91-2; makes Israel a na- 
tion, 105-6; forced denial of, 
absolves from obedience to Rome, 
107; the term misunderstood, 
116-17; not correctly rendered 
by Law, etc., 117; what it con- 
veys to the Jew, 117, 125; Miz- 
woth complementary to, 117-18; 
often equivalent to Pentateuch, 
1 18; Scriptural warrant for the 
superiority of, 118; the Prophets 
a commentary on, 119; dictated 
by the Holy Spirit, 120; legal 
part of, begins in Exodus, 1 20-1 ; 
not always confined to the Pen- 
tateuch, 121-6; name applied to 
the Prophets and Hagiographa, 
125; extends beyond the Scrip- 
tures, 126; as a revelation and a 
promise, 127; identified with 
wisdom, 127-8, 129, 135; en- 
dowed with a mystical life; 129- 
30; wedded to Israel, 130; cap- 
tured from heaven, 130; refused 
by the Gentiles, 13 1-2; intended 
for the Gentiles as well as Israel, 
133; potentialities of, 134-5; the 
Rabbinical view of, 136-7; char- 
acter of the laws in, 142; inclu- 
siveness of, 142-4, 146; based on 
the execution of justice, 143; the 
Kusari on, 146; a source of joy 
to the Rabbis, 146-7; how con- 
sidered by Israel, 148; joy an 
essential element in the under- 
standing of, 148; material uses 
of, deprecated, 154, 159; dis- 
interested performance of, 159- 
69; occupation with, a positive 
virtue, 167; love the motive for 
the performance of, 167-9; a 



382 


INDEX 


source of holiness, 168, 208; ob- 
servance of, and libertinism, 21 1; 
correctives of, 212-16; a mer- 
ciful interpretation of, recom- 
mended, 215-16; with holiness 
brings communion with God, 217; 
how regarded by the Porek ol^ 220- 
I ; denied by the usurer and the 
unmerciful, 231-2; defiled by 
immorality, 234; the study of, a 
weapon against the Evil Fezer, 
373-5; how it operates, 275; 
grace needed for efficacy of, 278; 
on the punishment of sinners, 293 ; 
the atoning power of, 312; de- 
mands sacrifices rather than 
repentance, 323; and God’s 
attribute of mercy, 323. 

See also ]oyoi the Law; Law, 
the; Legalism; Leviticalism; M/z- 
wothy the ; Pentateuch, the ; Rabbis 
the; Revelation; Scriptures, the. 

Torah, the, yoke of. See Kingdom 
of God, the. 

Torath ha- Adam, the Torah in its 
universalistic aspect, 133. 

Tosephta, the, on the command- 
ment of forgetfulness, 149. 

Tower, generation of the, rebels, 
219; conceal the light of the first 
day, 237; warned to repent, 315. 

Transcendentalism, charged against 
the God of Rabbinic theology, 
21-2; disproved by the Prayer 
Book, 22-3, 29; disproved by 
the Rabbinic sources, 24-8, 29- 
3L 33“4; a failing of prose- 
lytes, 25-6. 

See also under God. 

Treasure, term for the relation of 
Israel to God, 46. 

Tribes, the, the Zachulh of, invoked 
by Moses, 172-3. 

Tumah, term applied to the cardi- 
nal sins, 205, 206. 

See also Adultery; Sins, the 
cardinal. i 


Ula bar Koseheb, and the law of 
saints, 216. 

Unchaste thoughts, equivalent to 
adultery, 214. 

Unchastity, included under adul- 
tery, 225. 

See also Adultery; Sexual im- 
morality. 

Uncircumcisedf name for the Evil 
Yezer^ 243. 

Unclean^ name for the Evil Yezer^ 
243 - 

Uncovering of faces, the, and the 
Porek olf 220-1. 

Unintentional sin. See Sin, unin- 
tentional. 

Uniqueness of Israel, 48. 

Unity, the Song of, quoted, 27-8; 
158-9. 

Unity of God, the, emphasised, 43- 
4; declared by Israel, 48; things 
detrimental to the belief in, 68-9 ; 
and love of God, 75 ; to be realised 
in the Messianic time, 96. 

Universal character of the kingdom 
of God, 93. 

Universalism, repugnant to the 
Rabbis, without the Torah, 105-6. 

Universalistic features of the Sinaitic 
revelation, 13 1-2, 133. 

Usury, fulfilment of the command- 
ment on, a condition of the Exo- 
dus, 230-1 ; a sin equal to mur- 
der, 231; a denial of the Law, 
231-2. 

Vanity, exposes one to the Evil 
Yezer^ 248-9; the Evil Yezer 
chiefly representative of, 276. 

Vile language, incompatible with 
holiness, 211-12. 

Vine, the, a symbol for Israel, 175. 

Vineyard, term for the relation of 
Israel to God, 49. 

Watcher, term for the relation of 
God to Israel, 49. 



INDEX 


383 


Wealth, the, of God, 38; desire for, 
not counted among the great 
passions, 250; in the soul of 
man, 260; auxiliary to the Evil 
Yezer^ 277. 

Weaving, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. 

Weber, charges Jewish theology 
with excessive legalism, 23-4. 

Wicked, the, forfeit the ZachtUh of 
the Fathers, 179-80; how they 
differ from the righteous, 2 70-1 ; 
and the appearance of the Evil 
Yezer^ 290; association with, pre- 
vents repentance, 330. 

Widows, plundering, prevents re- 
pentance, 331. 

Will of God, manifested in crea- 
tion, 80. 

Wine-drinking, restricted, 21 r. 

Winnowing, forbidden on the Sab- 
bath, 153. 

Wisdom, the, of God, 38; Jesus, 
the son of Sirach, on, 70 ; the yoke 
of, a glory, 70; equivalent to the 
Torah, 127, 129, 135. 

Wisdom (Hagiographa), on the 
punishment of sinners, 293. 

Wisdom literature, the, and the Law, 
116. 

Wise, attribute applied to Israel by 
God, 47. 

Women, looking at, prevents re- 
pentance, 330. 

Word. See Memra. 

Work, thirty-nine kinds of, for- 
bidden on the Sabbath, 153. 

Workmen, treatment of, urged by 
the Rabbis, 1 13-14. 

Works, Rabbi Akiba on the jus- 
tification by, 15-16; and the 
love of God, 75. 

World, Lord of the, epithet for God, 
21, 26. 

World, the, relation of God to, 21- 
45 ; epithets describing God^s 
relation to, 26-8; fate of, may 


depend on a single action, 189- 
90 ; chosen as his portion by 
Esau, 100; the seat of the king- 
dom of God, 104; purpose of the 
creation of, 80-1; plunged into 
chaos by sin, 83; is the kingdom 
of God, 89. 

World, the future, chosen as his 
portion by Jacob, 100; persons 
destined for, 165-6; the Evil 
Yezer subdued in, 283; justice to 
prevail in, 307. 

Worship, due to God alone, 44“5* 

Writing, forbidden on the Sabbath, 
153 - 

Yezer f the, equivalent to the Evil 
Yezer y 262. 

Yezer Hara. See Evil Yezer, the. 

Yoke of the kingdom of God, the. 
See Kingdom of God, the; King- 
dom of God, the invisible; King- 
dom of God, the visible; King- 
dom of heaven, the. 

Yoke of the Torah, the. See 
Kingdom of God, the. 

ZachtUh, acquired through the com- 
mandments, 164; place of the 
doctrine in Judaism, 170; ety- 
mology, etc., of the word, 1 70-1 ; 
divisions of the subject, 171-3; 
and individual righteousness, 1 76, 
189-90. 

See also ZachtUh, the, of the 
Fathers, etc. 

ZachtUh, the, of a pious ancestry, 
171, i 75“7. 181-5; defined, 175- 
7; individual righteousness and, 
176; extension of, 181-3; does 
not relieve the individual from 
responsibility, 183-5; in the 
liturgy, 184; and trust in God, 
184-5. 

ZachtUh, the, of a pious contem- 
porary, defined, 189-90; and 
Sodom and Gomorrah, 190. 



384 


INDEX 


ZachtUh, the, of a pious posterity, 
195, 196-7; limited, 197; and 
the dead, 198. 

See also Children. 

Zachuthy the, of Israel, and the 
kingdom of God, 98. 

Zachuthy the, of the Fathers, in re- 
lation to the patriarchs, 171-5; 
called a rock, 173; historical 
events attributed to, 174-5; 
limited, 177-8 ; unlimited, 1 78-81 . 

Zachuth, the, of the Mothers, in 
relation to the wives of the three 
patriarchs, 172; invoked at 
public fasts, 172. 


Zadok, Rabbi, prayer by, regard- 
ing the Sabbath, 153; on material 
uses of the Torah, 154, 159. 

Zebaothy God in war, 35, 

Zechariah, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with God’s relation 
to the Gentiles, 64. 

Zephaniah, the Book of, cited, in 
connection with God’s relation to 
the Gentiles, 64. 

Zerachya ben Shealtiel, on the 
spiritualisation of the Scriptures, 
103- 

Zohafy the, on the Evil Yezer, 246. 






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