The Controversy of Zion

by Douglas Reed


p. 98 99 100 101 102 103 104

Chapter 16


The Messianic Longing

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.

These were latterday symptoms of the feeling expressed on the ancient day when “the people wept” at the reading of The Law. The Talmud forbade the Jew almost every activity other than the amassing of money (“they only conceded just enough to the people about them to make their economic activities possible”; Dr. Kastein) and the study of the Talmud (“whenever the Law could not be unequivocally applied to the relations of life, they endeavoured to discover its interpretation”).


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 Mount Sinai alike the oral and written Law, that is, the Law with all its interpretations and applications,” says Mr. Alfred Edersheim. The people submitted to, but could not always inwardly accept so obviously political a claim, and this inner rebellion against something outwardly professed often led to strange happenings.


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 Hamburg, he published his Thesis against Tradition in which he attacked “the Pharisees,” charging that the Talmudic laws were their creation and not of any divine origin. The treatise was addressed to the Jews of Venice and the rabbi there, one Leo Modena, thereon by command pronounced the dreaded “Ban” on da Costa. At Rabbi Modena's death papers found among his effects showed that he had held exactly the same view as da Costa, but had not dared to declare that for which he excommunicated da Costa.




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 Babylon to the present day. Da Costa was literally hounded to death and in 1640 shot himself.


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 Paris and Montpellier, the book-burning edict of the Talmudic law thus being fulfilled. On his grave the words were incised, “Here lies an excommunicated Jew.”


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 Paris, and nothing was done, but in 1232, at the denunciation of the Talmudists, it had ordered the anti-Talmudic work of Maimonides to be publicly burned!


Another great expostulant against the Talmud was Baruch Spinoza, born at Amsterdam in 1632. The ban pronounced on him by the Amsterdam rabbinate derives directly from the “cursings” of Deuteronomy:


“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 Israel, with all the curses of the firmament which are written in the Torah. There shall be no man to speak to him, no man write to him, no man show him any kindness, no man stay under the same roof with him, no man come nigh unto him.”


Spinoza was banished from Amsterdam and exposed to “a persecution which threatened his life,” as one encyclopaedia puts it. In fact it took his life, in the way depicted by Mr. Rodkinson (as previously quoted). Shunned and destitute, he died at forty-four in a Gentile city, far from the centre of Talmudic government but not far enough to save him.


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 Berlin.


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 France, to Communism in Russia, to National Socialism in Germany, its inertia being greater than any will to resist or the fear of ensuing danger. So it has always been with the Jews and the Talmudic terror.


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 Mount Sinai.


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 Jerusalem which The Law promised), and the people in the ghettoes fell back into hope deferred.


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 Smyrna, who in 1648 proclaimed that the Millennium was at hand by pronouncing the dread name of God in the Synagogue, whereon the Ban was put on him and “to escape its effects” he fled, and stayed away for many years. However, his effect on the Jewish communities, pining for the promised End, was immense. They agreed that he was the Messiah; so that he returned to Smyrna in 1665 in defiance of the Talmudists, who in him perceived the greatest threat to their authority in many centuries.


Sabbatai Zevi next declared himself to be the Messiah. The desire to exchange the chains of the Talmud for the triumphant fulfilment in Jerusalem was so great that the congregation in Smyrna, followed by the Jewish masses all over the world, brushed aside the Talmudists' ban and acclaimed him. He then proclaimed that 1666 was to be the Messianic year, distributed the crowns of the world among his friends, and set out for Constantinople to dethrone the Sultan of Turkey (then ruler of Palestine). Jews everywhere began to sell their businesses, homes and chattels in preparation for “the return” and the day of world dominion. In London (as Samuel Pepys recorded in February 1666) bets were made among Jews on the prospects of his being acclaimed “King of the World and the true Messiah.”


As was to be expected, he was arrested when he reached Constantinople and cast in jail. This merely increased his renown and following; the prison was besieged by clamorous throngs, so that he was removed to a fortress in Gallipoli, which in turn was transformed into a royal residence by gifts from Jews. Mass-emotions were fully aroused; in the imagination of a scattered nation, long isolated from mankind, he was the King of the World, come to liberate them by setting them over all mankind.


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 Poland, now sure of the outcome, through an emissary denounced him to the Sultan as “a false Messiah”), he decided, in his prison-palace, to save himself. With great ceremony he had




himself converted to Islam and ended his days at the Sultan's court, like any present-day Zionist in New York. For a while he had shaken even the Talmudic government, which then put “the great Ban” on his followers. A tiny remnant of them survive to this day; they believe that Sabbatai will return and that his example must be copied, including conversion to Islam.


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.