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A Sabbathaian Will from New York

Gershom Scholem

<plain_text><page sequence="1">A Sabbathaian Will from New York By Gershom Scholem The late Elkan Adler was especially interested in previously unobserved and undetected by-paths of Jewish life and history. I may, therefore, be permitted to pay my homage to his memory by strolling a little into one of these by-paths, namely, the sect of the Sabbathaians or followers of Sabbathai Zewi which flourished in a number of Jewish communities until the beginning of the nineteenth century. The document which I present in the following pages is a rather peculiar one and it is doubtful whether any other of its kind has been written or at any rate if written, has been preserved. This is the last will of Gottlieb Wehle, a member of the Sabbathaian sect in Prague, who later (1849) settled in America as a member of a group of Sabbathaian families about whose emigration we have the monograph of Miss Josephine C. Goldmark : " Pilgrims of '48 ... a family migration to America " (1930). He settled and died in New York (1881) and it is there that the will was written. According to the genealogy of the Wehle family which was compiled and published by his son, Theodore Wehle, in 1898, Gottlieb Wehle, the great-uncle of the late Justice Brandeis, and a first cousin of Zacharias Frankel, one of the founders of the modern Wissenschaft vom Judentum, was born in Prague on 27th July, 1802. Since the first part of the will was written on the testator's sixty-first birthday and the second part one year later, it was composed in 1863-64. It is, therefore, the latest document written by a Jewish Sabbathaian who obviously never abandoned the basic tenets of 193</page><page sequence="2">194 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM the doctrine which he was taught in his father's house. This, of course, points to a fundamental difference between Wehle's pro? nouncement on Sabbathaiism and the records in the memoirs of Moses Porges (von Portheim) of his experiences as a youth in the Sabbathaian milieu at Prague and Offenbach.1 It is difficult to fix the precise date of the composition of Porges' memoirs, but they must have bee^n written about the same time as Wehle's will when Porges was a very old man. He was twenty years older than Gottlieb Wehle whose father is mentioned in his narrative. Porges retained some knowledge of the darker side of the sectarian life in Offenbach, a knowledge denied to Wehle who obviously knew only about the positive and highly respect? able side of Sabbathaian life and teaching, and apparently wrote in good faith when he called the widespread tales about the sect a fabric of lies and calumnies. Moses Porges, who emphasizes both sides of the picture?the high moral standard of the last Jewish followers of Sabbathai Zewi and Jacob Frank as well as the continued practice (if in extenuated form) of objectionable rites by Jacob Frank's sons?did not sever all connection with the sect after his return to Prague in 1800, as, according to another communication to Dr. Stein, he was not altogether certain whether there was not something more behind the whole affair than met his youthful eye.2 But after 1820-30 he gave up the whole sectarian ideology, whereas Wehle's sympathy for the doctrine of his ancestors is quite undisguised. His grand? daughters, the Misses Pauline and Josephine Goldmark, of New York, who kindly presented me, in 1938, with a copy of the " theoretical " part of the will, told me that the testator's daughter, their aunt, Mrs. Julia Oettinger; who died only some twenty years ago, assured herself that every member of the family 1 Porges' memoirs have been published in a Yiddish translation from the German original text by Dr. Gelber in Historische Schriften fun YIVOt vol. i (1929), cols. 253-296. 2 " Communication on the Frankist Sect/' published by Dr. Stein in the German-Jewish year-book Achawa, vol. iv (1868), pp. 154-166, in particular P. 159.</page><page sequence="3">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 195 received a copy of the will as a testimonial to their Sabbathaian origin of which she was still extremely proud. She still con? sidered Eva Frank, whose picture in miniature was held in the family for more than a hundred and twenty years 3 in great reverence, to have been a saint, apparently on the strength of the family tradition. The Wehles were one of the aristocratic old Jewish families of Prague and took a leading part in the Sabbathaian, and later Frankist4 group, which at the time attracted considerable attention and whose importance has not yet been sufficiently evaluated. The father of the testator, Aaron Beer Wehle (1750 1825) and particularly the testator's two uncles, Jonas Wehle, of Prague (1752-1823), and Emanuel Wehle, of Gitschin (Jicin), were outstanding personalities among the Bohemian and Moravian Sabbathaians, the two last mentioned generally being considered spiritual leaders of the sect in its last stage of develop? ment. His father's sister, Roesel Eger (died, 1831) was a well known Sabbathaian " prophetess " 5 and all of them made 3 The miniature was given by Eva Frank to Gottlieb Wehle's father in 1816, shortly before her death, as this year is inscribed on the small leather case in which this miniature was kept all the time. It has been presented by the Misses Goldmark to the Schwadron collection of portraits and autographs in the Hebrew University Library. There is ample testimony to the effect that families who were active in the sect were given copies of this painting as a sort of spiritual reward. 4 There is no basic difference between the terms Sabbathaiism and Frankism which, by the way, were never used by the adherents of the sect who always called themselves only " Ma aminim", i.e. " Believers ", namely, in the messiahship of Sabbathai Zewi, or in the new revelation that came through him in his later incarnations including Frank. The Jewish opponents of the sect called them Shebslach ; the name Frankists was first used by Polish writers when speaking of the group which embraced Catholicism in 1760 under Jacob Frank's leadership. Most of the sectarians, however, remained in the Jewish fold even though they accepted Frank's spiritual guidance. The Sabbathaians who followed Frank did not, by their acceptance of Frankism, renounce the basic teachings of Sabbathaiism although they transformed them, not in? considerably, according to Frank's new interpretations. 5 According to valuable oral traditions about the Prague Sabbathaians which Dr. Klein, a former pupil of the Talmudical Academy there (1829-1832) collected and published in a place where nobody would expect to find them? as a consequence they have never been taken into account by historians of Sabbathaiism?viz. Literaturblatt des Orients, 1848, col. 528. On the Wehle and Bondi families, see cols. 526 and 540.</page><page sequence="4">196 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER I IN MEMORIAM several pilgrimages to Offenbach, the last Mecca of Sabbathai ism from 1786-1816. In an old English missionary journal of the time 6 I have found a very interesting account of the Wehles and their Sabbathaian beliefs written by the missionary J. Nitschke, who visited Bohemia in August and September, 1818, and met Aron Beer Wehle 7 whom he calls " a venerable old man At first he found great reluctance on Wehle's side when he started to ask him questions about the sect, but in a second talk Wehle " and his friend and former preceptor of his children, Benedikt Patschotschbecame quite friendly and gave him many explanations about their " society " (i.e. the organization of the sect) which at the time still existed and displayed some activity as Nitschke was told by them. As a matter of fact, we know that just about that time they succeeded in drawing into the orbit of their society the young student of medicine Dembitz, the grandfather of Louis Dembitz Brandeis. The missionary, who expected to find in the Sabbathaian Jews secret adherents of Christianity, relates that he was not a little disappointed to find " that they are still real Jews " although the other Jews hated and despised them and accused them of all kinds of terrible things and crimes?the usual hint of orgiastic depravity which common opinion in the ghetto ascribed to the sect. They acknowledged Jesus as a great reformer of their nation but not as more than that. Nitschke testifies to their high moral character, their adherence to Kabbalism, and their possession of secret writings about their doctrine. Thus we have here a first-hand witness on the atmosphere in which the author of the Sabbathaian will of 1864 grew up. We learn that his teacher was an active member of the group. Nitschke did not know or did not mention that Baruch Petschotsch (as he is called in the genealogy of the Wehle family) was the husband of Aron Beer Wehle's eldest daughter, Amalie (1792-1864) and was, therefore, Gottlieb 6 The Jewish Expositor, vol. iv, London, 1819, pp. 30-32. 7 He calls him Aron Wohle, probably a misprint.</page><page sequence="5">A SABBATHAI AN WILL FROM NEW YORK 197 Wehle's brother-in-law. The will from New York still reflects the teaching of the Prague conventicle, as we know it from the letters of one of its leaders (presumably Jonas Wehle) which have been included in Peter Beer's volume on the Kabbalah 8 arid from the important commentary on the Talmudic Aggadahs which is now preserved in the Schocken Library in Jerusalem. Most interesting is the testimony of the author to the Sabbathaian leanings of his ancestors, not only of his father, about whose membership in the sect there was never an argument, but also of his grandfathers and great-uncles. It is well known that Sabbathaianism in the eighteenth century was in a large measure a 11 family religion ", that is to say was confined primarily to certain families (some of them very famous ones) where it struck deep roots and was preserved with astounding tenacity as a secret doctrine. Jacob Emden published in 1752 a list of people in Prague who were considered by his informants to be the heads of the Sabbathaian group there.9 This list contains also the names of two scholars of great renown, Rabbi Jona Landsopher and Rabbi Ephraim ben Aron Beer (Wehle), whom their descendant in their present will numbers proudly among his crypto-Sabbathaian ancestors. Gottlieb Wehle's knowledge is derived without doubt from family tradition and not from Emden's writings and serves therefore to corroborate Emden's rumours.10 Most descendants of Sabbathaian stock tried to obliterate the fact as far as possible and this tendency accounts for the scarcity 8 P. Beer : Geschichte, Lehren und Meinungen aller . . . Sekten der Juden, vol. ii (1823), pp. 343-401. 9 Jacob Emden, Torath Ha-Kenaoth, Amsterdam, 1752, f. 60a. 10 Jonah Landsopher was an intimate friend and admirer of Jonathan Eibeschuetz who was considered by the Sabbathaians one of their great men? and rightly so as has been recently proved conclusively by M. A. Perlmutter in his full length study R. Jonathan Eibeschuetz's Relation to Sabbathaiism (1947, in Hebrew). Other details regarding Jonah Landsopher's activities about the year 1760 are given in Emden's polemical pamphlet Beith Jonathan Hasopher, i. 6b. O</page><page sequence="6">198 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER ! IN MEMORIAM of our knowledge of who's who in later Sabbathaiism.11 In contra-distinction to this attitude, Gottlieb Wehle, far from being ashamed of Sabbathaiism, admonishes his children not to forget their noble pedigree. Whereas in Prague about 1870 nobody would have dared to mention the connection of a respectable family with the sectarians, the cousin in the New World sees in Sabbathaiism a revolt against petrified orthodoxy and the obscurantist fanaticism of the rabbis, and therefore something of which to be proud. Having grown up in the last generation of the sect, after it came into touch with the new atmosphere of the French Revolution and of Enlightenment, he does not know of its darker side which was (it seems) silently dropped about 1800. As far as our scant knowledge goes the " Society " of the Sabbathaian sectarians was dissolved in the twenties of the nineteenth century ; emissaries went from town to town and from family to family and collected the secret writings of the sect, most of which have for this reason dis? appeared. Both the philosopher, Fritz Mauthner, another descendant of a Sabbathaian family, and Moses Porges mention this.12 The Sabbathaians, including those who clung to their messianic hopes and dreams of the great role of the sect in the past, became " new Jews " as several observers have remarked, i.e. supporters of the reform movement or indifferent to religion altogether. And this certainly happened to the Wehles. The son of Jonas Wehle was in 1832 among the founders of the first Reform Congregation in Prague which invited Leopold Zunz as preacher. The will of Gottlieb Wehle shows the same blend of Sabbathaiism and Neology. But yet in 1845 we have the last testimony about the sect in Prague by Wolfgang Wessely who was in close touch with their remnants?he began to publish " Letters of a Sabbathaian " who, although unnamed, can be 11 On the reasons of this reluctance to admit Sabbathaian ancestry, cf. the chapter on " Sabbatianism and Mystical Heresy " in my book Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1946). 12 Cf. Fritz Mauthner, Erinnerungen (Munich, 1918), p. 306, and Porges' communication to Dr. Stein in Achawa, iv, p. 160.</page><page sequence="7">A SABBATHAI AN WILL FROM NEW YORK 199 identified with Jonas Wehle. His introductory remarks to Wehle's letters, written only a short time before Gottlieb Wehle's emigration to the U.S.A. reflects the mood of the will. He says : " Since [Peter Beer's information about the sect, i.e. since 1822] no further account of it has been published, although it has not altogether ceased to exist. It gives, however, only weak indica? tions of life, the former radical opposition of its members to [rabbinical] Judaism having been mitigated. It seems the members are content with a kind of crypto-Sabbathaiism and, indulging in memories of their former apostles and their holy mission, they remain in a state of passivity." 13 The will of Gottlieb Wehle is the last evidence we possess of this state of mind. I am publishing the German text of the will without any changes in style, spelling, and punctuation. The German is not a little quaint and circumstantial and several anacolutha make it none too easy to grasp the precise meaning of some sentences. The copy in my possession was made in New York about fifty or sixty years ago from the original text and it may be that some of the mis-spellings and other errors were introduced by the copyist. APPENDIX Im Namen Gottes ! des Lenkers der menschlichen Schicksale ! Meine theuere, geliebten Kinder! Ich beginne heute ein Schriftst?ck, dessen Einleitung, ich bereits seit mehrern [sie] Jahre verschiebe. Mit jedem Jahre finde ich es jedoch mehr an der Zeit.? Zu oft leider wird uns die Hinf?lligkeit des Menschen anschaulich, u es wird unm?glich gewisse Verf?gungen u Arrange? ments zu treffen, die fr?her so leicht gewesen w?ren.? Es liegt in jedem Menschen eine gewisse ?ngstlichkeit, ich will es nicht Feigheit nennen, die ihn abh?lt sich den Moment zu vergegen? w?rtigen, wo er von Allem was ihm hienieden theuer u lieb ist, sich trennen muss.? 13 Wessely, in Zeitschrift f?r historische Theologie, 1845, p. 137, reprinted in Fuerst's Orient, vol. xii (1851), col. 535.</page><page sequence="8">200 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM Jeder Familienvater f?hlt sich veranlasst, wenn er ein gewisses Alter erreicht hat, besonders bei tragischen Vork?mnissen in der Familie selbst oder anderseitig daran zu denken, dass auch er nicht gegen pl?tzliche Abberufung vom Schauplatze assekurirt ist, es daher rathsam sei, bei gesundem u reifem Verst?nde seinen Kindern u Angeh?rigen mit m?glichst ruhigem u kaltem Gem?the seinen letzten ,, Willen'4 kund zu geben. Man nennt diesen Akt im gew?hnlichen-gesch?ftlichen Leben ?,, testiren "?worunter man die Anordnungen und Verf?gungen versteht, die ein beg?terter Familienvater niederschreibt oder nieder? schreiben l?sst, wie nach seinem Ableben sein hinterlassenes beweg? liches und unbewegliches Verm?gen u Besitzthum vertheilt werden m?ge ? Es giebt aber auch ausser derartigen Fehrnissen, Objekte, ?ber welche ein Vater mit seinen Kindern beim Abschiede vom hiesigen Leben ein ernstes Wort zu sprechen hat ? Uiber den Stand meines Verm?gens, so wie dessen Eintheilung kann ich nichts Bestirntes sagen oder verf?gen, da dieses sich t?glich ?ndert, ich jedoch sp?ter auch hier?ber kund geben will. Ich hatte den namenlosen Schmerz meinen Bruder Simon im Dec. 1831 samt dessen Frau Rosi geb. Porges 1 u 3 Kindern an der Cholera erkranken u in meinen Armen binnen 3 Tagen verscheiden zu sehen ? meine Schwester Fanny verehlichte Dr. Dembitz aus Pressburg 2 in Ungarn, verlor ich im Dec. 1840 und meinen Bruder Adolf den Dr. im April 1840.? Bruder Simon wurde 35, die Schwester Fanny 40, u Bruder Adolf kaum 40 J. alt. Ihr meine theuere Kinder ! feiertet heute meinen Geburtstag ? es war mein Ein und sechszigster ! 3 Diese Zahl mahnt mich ? M?ge der Herr euretwegen mir so viele Jahre schenken als ich zu euerm Wohle noch etwas beitragen kann ! Es ist euch meine geliebten Kinder ! gen?gsam bekannt, dass ich durch die Volksdemonstrationen die sich in Prag gegen die Juden so oft wiederholten, mich bestimmen Hess, im April 1849 den Welttheil, das Land u die Stadt zu verlassen, wo ich u auch ihr geboren waren ; wo meine Vorfahren Jahrhunderte ein ehrenvolles, gottgef?lliges Leben gef?hrt hatten ; wo sie f?r ihren Glauben u f?r ihre Nationalit?t so lange u so viele Unbill unschuldig erlitten.? Mir ist es nicht beschieden u bestirnt die Scholle Erde mit ihnen zu theilen, in der sie friedlich ruhen. Meinen ehrw?rdigen Vater habt ihr nicht gekannt, er schied von uns im Aug. 1825 ?als ich 23 Jahre z?hlte.4 Meiner guten Mutter, die in Dec. 1838 starb, d?rften meine geliebten Kinder Lotti u Tini, sich noch dunkel erinnern.? Ohne wie der europ?ische Adel einen Ahnensaal zu haben, der tausende Dollars kostete, u doch gr?ssentheils [sie] Copien schlechter</page><page sequence="9">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 201 Originale enth?lt ? so will Euch in meinen Ahnensaal einf?hren, der zwar keine Kunstportraite, aber daf?r Namen u Karakterzeichnungen enth?lt, die tadel- u mackellos sind; und Deszendenten solcher M?nner zu sein, kann nur erfreulich u ehrenvoll f?r euch sein. Euere Ahnen f?hrten keine Grafen- u Baronentittel ? sie f?hrten keine Predikate hoher Staats?mter, den sie waren ja nur Juden, Spr?sslinge und Nachkommen des ?ltesten u verehrungsw?rdigsten Volksstammes ? Euere Ahnen waren keine Helden die ihre hohe Positionen, ihre Ehrenposten mit dem Schwerdte, durch Meuchelmord u Intriguien der gemeinsten Art ursurpirten ; die als Weglagerer und R?uber ihre Carriere begannen ? Ihr stafht bloss aus den zwei gr?ssten, ehrbarsten und celebrirtesten Familien der Prager, grossen und intelligenten Gemeinde : Mein sei. Vater Aaron Beer, von der r?hmlichst-bekanten Familie Wehle ? Meine sei Mutter,5 Tochter von Berman Simon Frankl/: Spiro 6? wahrscheinlich aus Speier bezeichnend ? Meines Vaters Mutter eine geborene Landssopher ? (Sopher bedeutet im Hebr. ?Schreiber ? Notar "?wahrscheinlich eine fr?here Ehrenstelle unter den Juden?) die einzige Tochter von Jona-Emanuel Landssopher.7 Mein Gross? vater R. Hersch Wehle 8 hatte 2 Br?der : Ephraim 9 u Jsaac. ? Ephraim der Vater von R. Wolf Wehli?der Grossvater euerer Mutter,10 u Vater von Ernst (Ephraim) u Samuel Wehli. Die Br?der meines Vaters resp. Onkel, waren Emanuel (Reb. Mendel in Gitschin) u Jonas (R. Jona).11 Dr. Herrn. Wehle u dessen Br?der Adam, Joseph &amp; Max (Klarenberg) Kinder des On. Jonas 12 ? von den Kindern des O. Emanuel werdet ihr euch der Louise Klarenberg,13 der Fanny Dawidels u vielleicht der Rosa noch dunkel zu erinnern wissen. Der Stammbaum meiner Eltern ist in Prag mehrere hunderte Jahre bekannt ? alle diese Ahnen waren ausgezeichnet u ber?hmt durch ihre Talmudische u Biblische Gelehrsamkeit, durch ihren Wohlt?tigkeits? sinn, rechtlichen tadellosen Wandel, durch ihre Wohlhabenheit u Friedliebe u. s. w. Dieses sind allgemeine Skizzen die euch fremd bleiben, da ihr dem Kreise entr?ckt seied, wo dieser Ehrenm?nner mit geb?hrender Hochachtung erw?hnt werden k?nne. Sie waren die W?rdentr?ger der B?hm. Judenschaft. Es sind jenen Perioden angem?ssene [sie] Werke, die noch immer in den theologisch-j?d Kreisen r?hmlichst bekannt sind, u es stets bleiben werden. So sind mehrere Werke vom alten Jonas Landsopher bekannt, so auch vom alten Ephraim Wehle, unter dem Titel ,, Die Weinlese Ephraims " 14 ?Diesen Ehrenm?nnern 15 die eine klare Anschauung, ein h?heres Streben hatten, gen?gte das trockene Studium des Talmuds, der damals bios Sofistik u Scharfsinn zum Zwecke hatte, nicht ? Der im</page><page sequence="10">202 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM Talmud enthaltene Theil, Moral-Religion u Methapfisik [sic] handelnd, wurde vom gr?ssten Theile ihrer Zeitgenossen vernachl?ssigt ? alle auf diese theologischen Gegenst?nde bez?glichen sonstigen uns ?ber komenen Systheme u Ansichten unserer alten Weisen16 blieben unbeachtet?! Euere Ahnen nun die diejenigen ?ltere u sp?tere Schriften die den Talmud, wie er von spitzfindigen u scharfsinnigen Komen taristen f?lschlich ausgebeutet wurde, blos als ?ussere H?lle u Schale des ?chten Judentums erkl?rten, u statt dem Doktrinen aussprachen die sie als Kern u Geist des ?chten j?d. Glaubens h?her stellten, als die Er?rterungen, Debatten, Fragen u L?sungen verschollener Opfer u Speisegesetze u.s.w. wurden als Ketzer von vielen heuchlerischen sogenannten Volkslehrern, die sich Rabonim nannten, verschrien ; von ihnen verleumdet, verfolgt u angefeindet. Diese Heuchler 17 wagten es sogar von der Kanzel das Volk gegen sie aufzuwiegeln, u unter dem Vorwande dass die Doktrine u Prinzipien dieser ,, Sekte " wie sie sie nannten, mit denen der christlichen gleiche oder doch ?hnliche Tenden? zen h?tten,18 fanatisirten sie ihre Zuh?rer ? sogar Pampflete erschienen anonim die die unversch?mtesten u gemeinsten Denunziationen enthielten, und mit Blitzesschnelle sich durch den gr?ssern Theil Europas verbreiteten. Die von diesen Hypokriten, Heuchlern u Zeloten angefeindeten u verfolgten ,, Ketzer, Sohoriten18a, Sabatianer " ertrugen diese Unduldsamkeit mit edler Resignation, ohne die Beh?rden die ihnen Schutz zusicherten, anzugehen.19?Sonderbar dass selbst die gr?ssten fanatischen Gegner diesen Ketzern h?chste Intelligenz, tadellose Lebensweise, strengste Sittlichkeit u Rechtlichkeit, Wohl th?tigkeitssinn, kurz alle B?rgertugenden in hohen Grade zu besitzen u zu ?ben, zugestehen mussten ! 20 Mit frommer u edler Resignation ertrugen die Angefeindeten diese Unduldsamkeit, da ihnen blos darum zu thun war, die Prinzipien der geoffenbarten Religion u ihre hohe Tendenz, so wie die in der Zukunft geborgenen Schicksale ihrer Nation zu ergr?nden 21? Sie verzichteten gerne auf die Anerkennung ihrer perfektionirten Talmudgelehrsamkeit, denn sie suchten den Geist der Religion. Sie begannen ihre theolo? gischen Studien im Sinne der Bibel und mehrerer alten theologischen Schriften u Werke, die unter dem allgemein-verrufenen Namen Cabbala bekant waren. Sie stellten die Doktrinen der Geheimlehre h?her als das todte Zeremoniell u suchten vielmehr das 22 durch ihren darin aufgefundenen Geist neu zu beleben. ,, Dass der Mensch der ein Ebenbild und Meisterst?ck Gottes, wieder in den vollkommen Zustand k?rnen werde, wie der es war, als er aus des Sch?pfers Hand kam : dass er frei von K?rper-Geistes u Herzensgebrechen werde, dass er wieder unschuldig wie vor dem S?ndenfalle, frei von Laster u</page><page sequence="11">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 203 S?nde werde " 23 ? dieses ungef?hr war das Program ihrer Strebungen u Gotteserkenntnis, das Ziel ihrer Studien. ? So auch: da Gott blos mittelbar wirkt, so ist ein Erkorener, Gesalbter Messias nothwendig um als Stellvertreter seines h?chsten Senders zu wirken.24 ? Da nun nach kabalistischen Prinzipien, Menschen die Werkzeuge der Vorsehung sein k?nnen mittelst welchen diese geistig wirkt daher die kleinlichst scheinende Handlung eines zu diesen hohem Zwecke Erkorenen von gr?sster Wichtigkeit sein kann, so bestrebten sich diese verrufenen Ehrenm?nner durch den sittlichsten u moralischsten Lebenswandel zu prepariren u zu qualifiziren, zu diesen grossen Zwecke u hohen Ziele der Welt beitragen zu k?nnen 25 u sahen freudig in ihrer Verkanntheit die Gelegenheit ihren hohen Bestrebungen ein Opfer bringen zu k?nnen ; u mit Demuth u Resignation auf dem Altare ihres Glaubens es auch brachten.? Eine Pause von mehr als einem Jahre ist vor?ber u wieder werde ich nachdr?cklich gemahnt, dass wir hinf?llig-schwache Menschen nicht wissen, was der folgende Tag bringt ? Mein zweiundsechszigster Geburtstag ist vor?ber ? und dieser war ein gem?ssigt-freudiger ? zwei Monate zuvor, wurde die zweite gef?hrliche Operation meiner theuern Schwester 28 vorgenomen ? acht Tage sp?ter, hatte mein Bruder Moritz von hier Abschied genomen, um vielleicht niemals zur?ckzukehren!!! Zwei derartige vorangegangene betr?bende Ereig? nisse waren nicht geeignet mein ohnehin gedr?cktes Gem?th an meinem 62 Geburtstage in eine fr?hliche Stimmung zu versetzen ? die t?gliche Abnahme des gringen Kr?fterestes der so lange leidenden Schwester, ihre Voraussicht einer nahen g?nzlichen Aufl?sung, wirkte seit den letzten Wochen besonders entmuthigend auf mich ein-Ich k?mpfe gegen Tr?bsinn u Muthlosigkeit-ich sage mir wiederholt : dein Werk hinieden ist nicht vollendet, du hast noch manche Aufgabe zu l?sen bevor dein Wirken als beendet zu betrachten sei ? u dennoch wirds mir unwillk?rlich Bed?rfnis an den Moment zu denken, wenn ich euch meine Geliebten ! verlassen muss, und vielleicht so rasch, oder in einer Geistes u K?rperverfassung abgerufen werde, wo es unm?glich sein d?rfte, euch meine letzten W?nsche mitzutheilen ? Warum sollte ich dann aus euerer Mitte gehen ohne euch ein ,, Lebet wohl " zugerufen zu haben ?! Ohne herzlichen Abschied zu nehmen wie dies selbst bei kurzen Absenzen ?blich ist ? Ich setze wie so gerne bei jedem Abschiede, auch bei meinem letzten ein ,, Wiedersehen " voraus ? Ich bin dessen meine theuere Kinder ! gewis [sie] und sicher ; ich habe deshalb mit keinen Zweifel zu k?mpfen, ja ich w?rde, wenn es sich sagen Hesse, mit mathemathischer Gewissheit dessen sicher zu</page><page sequence="12">204 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM sein, behaupten ? Es giebt einen ewigen Gott und der Mensch ist sein Ebenbild ? dieses Ebenbild: Mensch, kann nicht der Vernichtung u Verwesung anheim fallen ! Wenn ihr diese Zeilen leset, u vielleicht zu meinin [sie] Schmerze, Mancher von Euch mit skeptischen Gedanken, werde ich meine Erwartungen schon realisirt finden, werde wissen u erkennen, dass der g?ttliche Sch?pfer den Menschen nicht mit Geist u Herz begabt hat, um ihn ungl?cklich, ja ungl?cklicher als das gemeinste Thier leben u Enden [sie] zu lassen ! ? Sollte es der einzige Vorzug des Menschen vor dem Thiere sein, dass er seinen Geist ausbilde um diese Erde zu versch?nen, durch Erfindungen sie nach u nach in ein Paradies umzuwandeln, um sie nach einem kurzem [sie] Pilgerleben zu verlassen, ohne auf eine Fortexistenz hoffen zu k?nnen ? oder sollte es Zufall sein dass die edelsten u besten Menschen ihre paar J?hrchen auf diesem Erdenrund, ohne ihr Verschulden kummer- u sorgenvoll hinschleppen, und mit dem Schl?sse dieses Lebens in ein Nichts verfallen ! ! ? Eine innere Stimme ? wenn wir diese nicht gewaltsam ersticken ? sagt uns : es giebt ein Leben nach diesem Leben, ? wie dieses rein-geistige Leben beschaffen sei, wissen wir nicht, der Glaube an ein solches Fortleben ist die F?higkeit eines ewigen Lebens ? Meine geliebten Kinder ! Haltet fest an diesem beseligenden reinen Glauben ? ohne ihn seid ihr immer ungl?cklich, mit ihm niemals. Sch?met euch dieses begl?ckenden Glaubens euerer grossen V?ter nicht?sagt mit Stolz, wir f?hlen den Keim des ewigen-Lebens in uns? ! Wer euch diesen an meiner Uiberzeugung enggrenzenden Glauben nehmen will, der beraubt Euch des gr?ssten Gutes, der ist wahrlich nicht euer Freund ? der ist wahrlich nicht der Mann der getrost seinen Blick in ein k?nftiges Seyn zu werfen sich wagt, er m?sste denn zuvor sein Leben hinieden mit Ernst u Besserung fortzuf?hren sich bestreben ? er m?sste bittere Reue empfinden ? diese bessere Willens? kraft fehlt so vielen Menschen, und es ist ihnen bequemer einen Schleier ?ber ihre Vergangenheit und ?ber ihre Zukunft zu werfen. (Translation) In the name of God, the Ruler of Human Destiny ! My dear, beloved children, I start today a document, the commencement of which I put off for many years. With every year, however, it is more pressing. Alas, far too often the frailty of the human being becomes more evident, so that it eventually appears impossible to make arrangements which before would have been only too easy.</page><page sequence="13">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 205 Every human being is affected by a certain timidity?I do not want to call it cowardice?which prevents him thinking of the moment when he will have to leave all that is dear and beloved to him here below. Every father of a family feels forced, on reaching a certain age, especially when tragic events occur in his family or kin, to realise that he also is not secure against a sudden recall from the stage ; and that it is there? fore advisable, as long as he commands ripe and mature sense, to convey to his children and relatives, with cool and clear mind, his last " Testament". In ordinary life this is known as " making his will," meaning the writing down of dispositions and arrangements by a wealthy father; directing how his personal and real estate are to be divided after his departure. But there are matters besides chattels and fortunes of which a father wishes to talk seriously to his children when departing this life. I cannot say anything definite concerning the state of my possessions and their disposition. I can say nothing definite, as these change daily, though I may have something to announce about it later. I had the unspeakable sorrow to see my brother Simon, his wife Rosi (nee Porges)1 and three children die in my arms of cholera in December, 1831, within the short period of three days. My sister Fanny, married to Dr. Dembitz from Pressburg 2 in Hungary, I lost in December, 1840, and my brother Adolf, the doctor, in April, 1840. My brother Simon lived to be thirty-five, my sister Fanny forty, and my brother Adolf barely forty. You my dear children celebrate today my birthday, my sixty-first.3 This number is a warning to me. May the Lord for your sake grant me as many years as I am able to contribute to your well-being! It is well known to you my dear children that, influenced by the repeated popular demonstrations in Prague against the Jews, I decided to leave the Continent, the country and the town where I and also you were born ; where my ancestors throughout the centuries lived an honourable life agreeable to God; where they suffered innocently and so greatly for their belief and their nationality. It is not granted to me to share with them the clod of earth, where they rest in peace. You did not know my venerable father, who departed from us in August, 1825, when I was twenty-three.4 My beloved mother who died in December, 1838, may perhaps be dimly remembered by my beloved children Lotti and Tini. Not having a picture gallery of ancestors, like the European nobility, which may cost thousands of dollars and still be only copies of bad originals, I will introduce you to my gallery of ancestors, which does not give portraits of art, but instead names and character sketches,</page><page sequence="14">20? ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM which are faultless and blameless. Your descent from such men cannot be but a cause of satisfaction and pride for you. Your ancestors did not bear titles of Barons and Counts, they held no high rank in the State service ; they were only Jews, offspring and descendants of the oldest and most venerable race. Your ancestors were not heroes who acquired their high positions by the sword, by treacherous assassination or by intrigues ; or who started their career as highwaymen or footpads. Your descent is from the two greatest, most venerable and most celebrated families of the great and cultured community of Prague : My late father Aaron Beer, of the famous family Wehle, my late mother,5 a daughter of Bermann Simon Frankl Spiro 6?apparently indicating that they came from Speyer; my father's mother, born Landssopher (Sopher means in Hebrew " Notary" or " Writer," apparently formerly a position of honour among Jews) the only daughter of Jona-Emanuel Landssopher.7 My grandfather Rabbi Hersch Wehle 8 had two brothers, Ephraim 9 and Isaac. Ephraim, the father of Rabbi Wolf Wehli, was the grandfather of your mother 10 and father of Ernest (Ephraim) and Samuel Wehli. My father's brothers and uncle were Emanuel (Reb. Mendel of Gitschin) and Jonas (Reb Jonas),11 Dr. Hermann Wehle and his brothers Adam, Joseph and Max (Klaren berg), the children of uncle Jonas.12 You may remember the children of uncle Emanuel, namely Luise Klarenberg,13 Fanny Dawidels and perhaps Rosa. The pedigree of my parents is known in Prague since centuries?all these ancestors were noted for their biblical and talmudical learning, for their practice of charity, their honest and blameless way of living, their wealth and inoffensiveness. These are only general traits, which may seem strange to you, as you are removed from those circles, where these gentle-folk have always been mentioned with the greatest respect. They were the dignitaries of Bohemian Jewry. The writings of that period are still widely famed in Jewish-theological circles, and they will remain so. Well known are literary works by old Jonas Landssopher and old Ephraim Wehle under the title : " Ephraim's Vintage."14 To these gentle-folk who had a clear conception and a higher urge, the dry study of the Talmud, the aim of which was only sophistry and mental acuteness, did not suffice.15 That portion of the Talmud, which deals with morals, metaphysics and religion, was neglected by the greater part of their contemporaries ; the systems and opinions concerning these theological principles,16 remained unnoticed ! Now your ancestors declared all the old and new writings concerning the Talmud as wrongly exploited by sophistical and astute commen? tators ; that they were only the outer shell and peel of the true Judaism,</page><page sequence="15">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 207 which instead represented doctrines that were the quintessence and symbol of Judaism, higher than the discussions, debates, questions and solutions of old and long forgotten laws about offerings and food. In consequence your ancestors were decried as heretics by many hypo? critical, so called public educators, who called themselves Rabbis. They were slandered and persecuted by them. These hypocrites 17 dared even from the pulpit to stir up the people against them, under the pretext, that the principles and doctrines of this " sect" as they called them, had much in common, even the same tendencies,18 as the Christians. They mesmerised the listeners, even publishing pamphlets containing the most impudent and gross calumnies, which were distributed with lightning speed throughout the greater part of Europe. Persecuted by these hypocritics and zealots, these " heretics, Soharites188, and Sabatians" endured the intolerance with gentle resignation, without asking the authorities for their proffered protec? tion.19 Strangely enough, even the most fanatical opponents had to admit their high intelligence, blameless way of life, strict morality, honesty, and charity ; in fact all the virtues of a good citizen.20 With pious and gentle resignation the persecuted ones suffered this intolerance. They were moved by their resolve to establish the principles of revealed religion, its high purposes and the future destiny of their nation.21 They gladly resigned their perfect knowledge of the Talmud because they were seeking for the spirit of religion. They arranged their theological studies in the spirit of the Bible and various other old theological scriptures known under the generally ill-reputed name of Cabbala. They placed higher the doctrines of this secret lore than the dead ceremonies, and tried to revive the spirit contained in them.22 " That man, being an image and masterpiece of God will again return to the perfect state, as he was when he left the Creators hand; that he will be free from all sickness of body, mind and soul; that he will be again innocent as before the Fall, free from vice and sin " 23?this was roughly the programme of their endeavours and perception of God, the aim of their studies. Moreover, as God acts only indirectly, a chosen, consecrated Messiah is necessary as deputy of his highest Master.24 As now, according to the cabbalistic principles, man is only the tool of Providence through which it acts, therefore the smallest act of one chosen for this highest charge may be of greatest importance. Thus these ill-reputed gentle-folk endeavoured to prepare and qualify for this great aim and purpose by the highest moral standards. They welcomed this misinterpretation of their belief as an opportunity 25 for bringing a sacrifice for their high aspirations, and indeed did so on the altar of their creed.</page><page sequence="16">208 ELKAN NATHAN ADLER : IN MEMORIAM One year has passed and again I am firmly reminded that we frail men do not know what the morrow may bring. My sixty-second birthday has passed and it was a moderately happy one. Two months ago my dear sister 26 had to undergo a second dangerous operation. Eight days later my brother Moritz took his leave, perhaps never to return. Such two depressing events were not calculated to cheer me on my sixty-second birthday. The speedily-failing strength of my long-ailing sister, her premonition of approaching release, had a most depressing effect upon me. I tried to fight this melancholy and depression?I repeated to myself again and again : Thy work is not yet completed, thou hast still many tasks to finish before thou canst consider thy work as ended. Indeed, I still deem it necessary sometimes to think of the moment when I will have to leave you all, my beloved ones. And perhaps it may come so quickly, or may be I will be in a mental and physical condition when it may be impossible for me to express to you my last wishes. Why should I go from out of your midst without saying my last " farewell" ; without taking a kind leave, as it is usual if one parts even for a short time ? As on the occasion of every farewell, I shall at my last parting look to another " Meet Again". I am, my dear children, absolutely sure of it; I have no doubt to overcome. I would maintain with mathe? matical certainty?if that expression were acceptable : There is a God and man is His image. This image, Man, cannot be condemned to destruction and putrefaction ! When you will be reading these lines and perhaps, to my sorrow, some of you with sceptical thoughts, then I will have realized my aspirations, I will know and perceive that the Creator has not endowed man with mind and soul only to let him live and die unhappy, yes unhappier than the lowliest animal! Should it be the only privilege of man over an animal, that he may develop his mind, to embellish the world, eventually to transform it by inventions into a paradise only to leave it after a short sojourn without any hope of a life after death ? Or should it be only by accident that the best and most gentle people, without their fault, drag with sorrow and anxiety through this life during the few years of their existence, and then with the ending of life disappear into nothingness ? An inner voice?if we do not suppress it forcefully?tells us : there is a life after this life. How this mental life is constituted we do not know? but the faith in a further life implies the capacity for eternal life. My dear children ! believe firmly in this true and blessed faith?without it you will be always unhappy, with it never. Do not be ashamed of this happy faith of your great ancestors. Say</page><page sequence="17">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK ZOg with pride that you feel the germ of this eternal life in you. He who wishes to deprive you of this faith which forms my firm conviction, would rob you of your greatest treasure. He is certainly not your friend. He is not the man who would dare fix his gaze on a future existence. It would mean that he would have to spend his life earnestly on improvement and repentance. But this inclination to good is lacking with most men, and they find it easier to throw a veil over their past and their future. NOTES ON THE TEXT OF THE WILL 1 Rosi Porges was the daughter of Gottlieb Wehle's aunt, Schoendel Wehle, who was married to Meyer Porges, himself an enthusiastic member of the sect. Cf. Z?cek, in Jahrbuch f?r die Geschichte der Juden in der Czechoslovakischen Republik, vol. ix (1938), p. 406. 2 Dr. Dembitz, the grandfather of Louis D. Brandeis, was the last neophyte of Sabbathaiism of whom we know. Peter Beer, op. cit., p. 340, tells that he joined the sect only one year before he wrote his account of the " Zoharites ", i.e. sometime between 1818 and 1822. He denotes him only by his initial " D., a very gifted young man who was studying medicine at the Prague University ", but in the copy of Beer's book in the University Library in Prague his full name is given in a manuscript note, cf. Z?cek, p. 400. Later he was a physician in Germany. His son, Louis Naphtali D. (1833-1900), who came to America in the same group as the author of the will, became a champion of Jewish orthodoxy in the U.S.A., one of the very rare cases of return to orthodoxy in Sabbathaian families. 3 Gottlieb Wehle was born on 27th July, 1802. 4 Aaron Beer and his brother Jonas Wehle are buried in the same plot and have only one tombstone, which indicates that both died about the same time and indeed, as I have been informed by Dr. O. Muneles (Prague), Jonas W. died on 12th December, 1823. 5 Her name was Esther (1772-1838). She was Wehle's second wife and was married to him in 1791. 6 He was the grandfather of Zacharias Frankel and died in 1811. Aaron Beer Wehle was, at the time of the marriage, already an active member of the sect and the question arises whether his father-in-law had not some sympathy with it. The Frankel-Spiros were, indeed, one of the most important families in Prague. Moses Porges, in his oral communication about the sect, told Dr. Stein about " secret conventicles " of the Sabbathaians " to which the heads of the richest families used to go As a matter of fact, already Jacob Emden accused the widow of the " Primator " Simon Frankel of Sabbathaian leanings, cf. his Hith'abbequth (Lwriw, 1877), f. 456, but Emden's accusations alone would not carry sufficient weight as a number of them are quite baseless. 7 Jona ben Mendel (Emanuel) Landssopher, the friend of Jonathan Eibeschuetz, is not to be confused with his grandfather Jona ben Elijahu L. (1678-1712), a famous rabbinical scholar and ascetic. The second Jonah was a steady opponent of Ezekiel Landau, the chief rabbi of Prague. His daughter was called Malkah and is said, in the Wehle genealogy, to have lived 96 years. 8 He died on 3rd February, 1791.</page><page sequence="18">2IO ELKAN NATHAN ADLER * IN MEMORIAM 9 He was a distinguished scholar in Prague and a great admirer of Jonathan Eibeschuetz. 10 The writer's wife was Eleonora Feigl (born 1805), a daughter of Babette Wehli (1785-1856) and Abraham Feigl (1781-1831). This branch of the family called itself Wehli instead of the original Wehle. 11 These two uncles of the writer were the outstanding personalities in Bohemian Sabbathaiism about the year 1800. Both sent their children to the Frankist " court " at Offenbach where Moses Porges met them. Jonas Wehle is mentioned in all the documents as the leader of the Prague group and the synagogue of the sectarians was, after 1799, in his house. My. colleague Julius Guttmann has drawn my attention to a review of Graetz' monograph on the Frankists written in 1868 by the famous scholar Zacharias Frankel (cf. M.G.W.J., vol. xvii, pp. 75-9) which has preserved some of his personal recollections of Jonas Wehle and his group which the historians have failed to notice. The documents published recently by Zacek (cf. note 1) paint a very vivid picture of his activities around the year 1800. Zacharias Frankel's remark that " none of these Sabbathaians has ever abandoned Judaism and their children, too, have remained within the Jewish faith " needs qualification. He did not know, apparently, that some of Jonas and Eman?el Wehle's children were baptized (in Offenbach ?) and their family name changed to Klarenberg " for mystical reasons " as the genealogy of the family puts it. 12 These three were educated at Offenbach. Porges tells us that their Jewish names were Abraham, Joseph, and Akiba and that they were "renamed" Joseph, Ludwig, and Max, like all the other youngsters who were sent to Offenbach, even those who were not baptized. 13 She seems to have been an enthusiastic member of the sect. She is the last Sabbathaian of this group who is known to have participated in.antinomian and repulsive practices on the Day of Atonement, 1799. In view of our present knowledge about Sabbathaian practice it is difficult to disbelieve the protocols about these incidents which are based not on malignant rumours of the enemies of the sect but on the narratives of Moses and Loeb Porges on their return from Offenbach, cf. the Appendix to Gelber's edition of Porges' recollections (quoted in note 1 above), col. 290. 14 It appears that the writer confused Jonas Landsopher with his grandfather (cf. note 7) and Ephraim Wehle with the much older Ephraim Lentshitz, of Prague, the author of 'Oleloth Ephrajim, a well known collection of homilies. 15 This passage introduces his ancestors as Kabbalists and Sabbathaians. 16 It follows from the context that the writer is speaking of the Kabbalistic systems and ideas. 17 The writer obviously aims at the Prague rabbi Eleazar Fleckeles whose " sensational" sermon against the Sabbathaians in his community was published in Prague in 1800 under the title Ahavath David. Cf. also Zacek's afore? mentioned essay, p. 386, where the petition of another influential member of the sect against Fleckeles' preaching is analysed. The author of this petition was an ennobled Jew, Loew Hoenig von Hoenigsberg, the son-in-law of Jonas Wehle and himself a pilgrim to Offenbach. 18 They had in view the doctrine of incarnation which the sectarians held, cf. note 23. 18a The correct spelling is Sohariten, followers of the Zohar. The Frankists sometimes used this name in their dealings with the Polish and Church authorities. An English translation of Peter Beer's chapter on the Frankists has been published as a (very rare) pamphlet. It is entitled by the plagiarist: M.J. Mayers, A brief Account of the Zoharite Jews (Cambridge, 1826).</page><page sequence="19">A SABBATHAIAN WILL FROM NEW YORK 211 19 This statement cannot stand the critical test ; as a matter of fact the sectarians did appeal to the Bohemian authorities through the above-mentioned Loew von Hoenigsberg whose petition is as bitter a denunciation of the " Rabonim " as any polemical writing could be expected to be. The full text of this document has not been published by iacek but a copy of it is in the Schocken Library in Jerusalem. 20 This testimonial to their virtues is actually found in Fleckeles' bitter attack on the sectarians. 21 Friends and foes agree that this was one of the main preoccupations of the Bohemian Sabbathaians who indulged in numerary mysticism and speculations about the near time of the " end ". 22 The ceremonial law. 23 The quotation marks in the manuscript suggest that the writer quotes more or less literally from the teachings of the Sect. 24 This, at least as regards the formulation used, is a mitigation of the Sabbathaian doctrine of incarnation. Sabbathai Zwi, Barukhia of Salonica, and Jacob Frank were considered the incarnations of some of the ten Sephirothy the mystical attributes of God. It is obvious from Wehle's careful formulation that the Messiah is a vicar or deputy of God which, by implication, may, or may not, mean incarnation. But there can be no doubt, especially on the basis of Jonas Wehle's letters and manuscripts, that the Prague group, like the other Frankists, actually taught incarnation. It was this doctrine which was considered by their rabbinical opponents as a most objectionable element of Jewish-Christian syncretism in their teaching. 25 We know from Porges' recollections that everybody in Offenbach was taught that he might be chosen as one of the elect among whom the last Messiah will be born. In Wehle's formulation we have a moralistic generalization of this idea : everybody may be one of the Elect, i.e. one of those chosen as " instruments of Providence " without any direct reference to the original eschatological and messianic meaning of the principle. 26 Amalie, the widow of Baruch Petschotsch, whom we have found as Gottlieb Wehle's teacher in the principles of Sabbathaiism. She died in 1864.</page></plain_text>