by Douglas Reed
The Talmudic regime in the close confinement of the ghettoes was in its nature essentially rule by terror, and employed the recognizable methods of terror: spies-on-spies, informers, denunciants, cursing and excommunication, and death. The secret-police and concentration-camp regime of the Communist era evidently took its nature from this model, which was familiar to its Talmudic organizers.
During the many centuries of Talmudist government the terror, and the dogma which it enclosed, produced two significant results. These were recurrent Messianic outbursts, which expressed the captives' longing to escape the terror; and recurrent protests against the dogma, from the Jews themselves.
The energies of the people were directed to spinning ever more tightly about themselves the net in which they were enmeshed: “They not only set a hedge about the Law, but, by cutting themselves off more definitely than ever from the outside world, and by binding themselves more exclusively to a given circle of laws, they set a hedge about themselves.” With every breath they drew and movement they made, they had to ask themselves, “Does the Talmud allow or forbid this,” and the ruling sect decided.
Even the most docile in time questioned the credentials of such a Law, asking “Can it be really true that every new edict and ban derives from God's revelation at Sinai?” That was their rulers' claim: “according to the Jewish view God had given Moses on
For instance, a Portuguese Marrano (a converted, or sometimes a secret Jew) called Uriel da Costa was once reconverted to Judaism, and then became appalled by the Talmud. In 1616, at
As a Communist Leo Modena would be a familiar figure in our own century. In effect, he sentenced to death the man whose beliefs he shared. Da Costa returned to the attack in 1624 with his Test of the Pharisaical Tradition by Comparing it with the Written Law. The Talmudists of Amsterdam, where da Costa then was, denounced him to the Dutch courts on the ground that his treatise was subversive of the Christian faith, and it was burned at the order of these Gentile authorities, who thus carried out the Talmudic Law!
This act of Gentile submission to the ruling sect recurs through all history from the time of
Jewish history shows many such episodes. The student of this subject walks with terror as he turns its pages. The “Great Ban” was in effect a death sentence, and was so intended. It called down on the victim the “cursings” enumerated in Deuteronomy, and cursing was (and by the literal devotees of this sect still is) held to be literally effective.
The article on “Cursing” in the Jewish Encyclopaedia says, “Talmudic literature betrays a belief, amounting to downright superstition, in the mere power of the word … Not only is a curse uttered by a scholar unfailing even if undeserved … Scholars cursed sometimes not only with their mouths, but by an angry, fixed look. The unfailing consequence of such a look was either immediate death or poverty.”
This is recognizably the practice known today as “the evil eye,” of which my encyclopaedia says, “This superstition is of ancient date, and is met with among almost all races, as it is among illiterate people and savages still.” The Jewish Encyclopaedia shows that it is a prescribed legal penalty under the Judaic Law, for this same authority (as earlier quoted) states that “even the Bible” is secondary to the Talmud. Moreover, Mr. M.L. Rodkinson, the scholar who was selected to make an English translation of the Talmud, says that “not a single line” of the Talmud has been modified. For that matter, the Talmud, in this case, only carries on the law of cursing as earlier laid down, by the Levites, in Deuteronomy.
The practice of cursing and of the evil eye, therefore, is still part of “The Law,” as the quotations given above show. (The student may find a present-day example of the Talmudic “angry, fixed look” in operation if he refer to Mr. Whittaker Chambers's description of his confrontation with the attorneys of Mr. Alger Hiss; and the student may form his own opinion of the fact that soon afterwards Mr. Chambers felt himself driven to commit suicide, failing in this attempt only through a chance).
Thus excommunication was a deadly thing. Mr. Rodkinson makes this remarkable reference to it:
“We can conceive their” (the Talmudic rabbinate's) “terrible vengeance against an ordinary man or scholar who ventured to express opinions in any degree at variance with their own, or to transgress the Sabbath by carrying a
handkerchief or drinking of Gentile wine, which in their opinion is against the law. Who, then, could resist their terrible weapon of excommunication, which they used for the purpose of making a man a ravening wolf whom every human being fled from and shunned as the plague-smitten? Many who drank of this bitter cup were driven to the grave and many others went mad.”
This fate befell some of the great remonstrants. Moses Maimonides (born at the Talmudic centre, Cordova, in 1135) drew up a famous code of the principles of Judaism and wrote, “It is forbidden to defraud or deceive any person in business. Judaist and non-Judaist are to be treated alike … What some people imagine, that it is permissible to cheat a Gentile, is an error, and based on ignorance … Deception, duplicity, cheating and circumvention towards a Gentile are despicable to the Almighty, as ‘all that do unrighteously are an abomination unto the Lord thy God' .”
The Talmudists denounced Maimonides to the Inquisition, saying, “Behold, there are among us heretics and infidels, for they were seduced by Moses Ben Maimonides … you who clear your community of heretics, clear ours too.” At this behest his books were burned in
The Inquisition, like the Gentile rulers of the earlier period and the Gentile politicians of our day, often did the bidding of the inveterate sect. The falsification of history, insofar as it relates to this particular subject, has left the impression on Gentile minds that the Inquisition was primarily an instrument of “the Jewish persecution.”
Dr. Kastein's presentation is typical: he says the Inquisition persecuted “heretics and peoples of alien creeds” and then adds, “that is to say, principally Jews,” and from that point on he conveys the impression of a solely Jewish persecution. (In the same way, in our century, Hitler's persecution was through four stages of propagandist misrepresentation transformed from one of “political opponents” into one of “political opponents and Jews,” then of “Jews and political opponents,” and last, “of Jews”).
The Inquisition sometimes burned the Talmud; it would have done better to translate and publish the significant parts, and that would still be wise. However, it also burned remonstrances against the Talmud, at the demand of the ruling sect. For instance, in 1240 the Talmud was denounced to it by a converted Jew, the Dominican Nicholas Donin, in
Another great expostulant against the Talmud was Baruch Spinoza, born at
“By the sentence of the angels, by the decree of the saints, we anathematise, cut
off, curse and execrate Baruch Spinoza, in the presence of these sacred books with the six hundred and thirteen precepts which are written therein, with the anathema wherewith Joshua anathematized Jericho; with the cursing wherewith Elisha cursed the children; and with all the cursings which are written in the Torah; cursed be he by day and cursed by night; cursed when he goeth out, and cursed when he cometh in; the Lord pardon him never; the wrath and fury of the Lord burn upon this man; and bring upon him all the curses which are written in the Torah. The Lord blot out his name under the heaven. The Lord set him apart for destruction from all the tribes of
Spinoza was banished from
Two hundred years later, during the century of emancipation, Moses Mendelssohn proclaimed the heresy that Jews, while retaining their faith, ought to become integrated with their fellow men. That meant breaking free from the Talmud and returning to the ancient religious idea of which the Israelite remonstrants had glimpses. His guiding thought was, “Oh, my brethren, follow the example of love, as you have till now followed that of hatred.” Mendelssohn had grown up in the study of the Talmud. He prepared for his children a German translation of the Bible, which he then published for general use among Jews.
The Talmudic rabbinate, declaring that “the Jewish youth would learn the German language from Mendelssohn's translation, more than an understanding of the Torah,” put it under ban: “All true to Judaism are for bidden under penalty of excommunication to use the translation.” They then had the translation publicly burned in
The great remonstrants of Judaism always stirred Jewry, but always failed; the ruling sect always prevailed. There were two reasons for this: the invariable support given by Gentile governments to the dominant sect and its dogma, and an element of self-surrender among the Jewish masses. In this the Jewish mass, or mob, was not different from all mobs, or masses, at all periods in history. The mass passively submitted to the revolution in
In our century remonstrant Jews affirmed, too soon, that the terror was no longer potent. In 1933 Mr. Bernard J. Brown wrote, “The bite of excommunication has lost its sting … The rabbis and the priests have lost their grip on human
thought and men are free to believe as they please without let or hindrance”; and in 1946 Rabbi Elmer Berger said, “The average Jew is no longer subject to the punishment of excommunication.”
Both were premature. The years which followed these statements show that the paramount sect was still able to enforce the submission of Jews throughout the world.
Nevertheless, the fierceness of the Talmudic rule, within the ghettoes, often produced a weeping, groaning and rattling of chains. This caused the Talmudists enough concern for them to introduce what seemed to be a mitigation. In about 900 AD “discussion about the Talmud and religious dogma became allowable” (Dr. Kastein). On the face of it this appeared to be in itself a reversion of the dogma, whereunder no dot or comma of any rabbinical ruling might be called in question, or any doubt expressed about the derivation from
Genuine debate would have let fresh air into the ghettoes, but if any intention to allow that had existed, Maimonides and Spinoza need never have been persecuted. What was actually permitted in the synagogues and schools was a unique form of dialectics, designed still further to strengthen the edifice of The Law. The disputants were merely allowed to prove that anything was legal under the Talmud; one debater would state a proposition and another the contrary, each demonstrating that The Law allowed it!
This practice (the brothers Thoreau give glimpses of it in their books) was called “pilpulism.” It gives the key to a mystery which often baffles Gentiles: the agility with which Zionists are often able to justify, in themselves, precisely what they reproach in others. A polemist trained in pilpulism would have no difficulty in showing the Judaic law ordaining the enslavement of household Gentiles to be righteous and the Roman ban on the enslavement of Christians by Jewish masters to be “persecution”; the Judaic ban on intermarriage to be “voluntary separation” and any Gentile counter-ban to be “discrimination based in prejudice” (Dr. Kastein's terms); a massacre of Arabs to be rightful under The Law and a massacre of Jews to be wrongful under any law.
An example of pilpulism is provided by Dr. Kastein's own description of pilpulism: “A species of spiritual gymnastics which is frequently practised where men's intellects, menaced with suffocation by the pressure of the outside world, find no outlet for creative _expression in real life.”
The italicised words are the pilpulist's suggestive interjection; these debaters were stifled by pressure from within their communities, not from “the outside world” (which their Law excluded).
These pilpulist “discussions of the Talmud” may have given the closed communities a slight, and illusory, sense of participation in the despotism that ruled them (like the vote, which may be cast only for one party, in today's dictatorship states). Their real yearning, to escape from their captivity, found its outlet in the Messianic outbreaks; possibly the permission to “discuss the
Talmud” was granted in the hope of checking these.
Ever and again the cry went up from the communities, held fast within the tribal palisade, “We are doing all the statutes and judgments; now give us the promised, miraculous End!” Thus the series of Messiahs appeared, and each time whipped the communities into a frenzy of anticipation. They were always denounced as “false Messiahs” (they had to be so denounced, as the ruling sect could not effect the triumphant enthronement in
Early Messiahs were Abu Isa of Ispahan in the seventh, Zonarias of Syria in the eighth, and Saadya ben Joseph in the tenth century. The most famous of all was Sabbatai Zevi of
Sabbatai Zevi next declared himself to be the Messiah. The desire to exchange the chains of the Talmud for the triumphant fulfilment in
As was to be expected, he was arrested when he reached
At that instant Sabbatai Zevi had done exactly what the elders of the sect them selves had done: he had promised what he could not fulfil (this is the basic flaw in the creed, which must eventually destroy it). Unlike the wary elders, he had set himself a time limit: the last day of the year 1666! As the year approached its end (and the Talmudic government in
himself converted to Islam and ended his days at the Sultan's court, like any present-day Zionist in
Zionism in our time is recognisably a new form of Messianism, leading to the same inevitable disappointment. After the passing of Sabbatai Zevi, and the hope they had put in him, the Jewish masses relapsed into the captivity of the ghettoes. Deprived of the hope of liberation, they reverted, beneath the stern gaze of their masters, to the study of The Law and its destructive message. They were being prepared for a task.