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Early Translations and Translators of the Jewish Liturgy in England

Rev. S. Singer

<plain_text><page sequence="1">EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. By the Bev. S. SINGEB. I. The first translation of a Hebrew book into a foreign language is said to have been attended with dismal portents. Three days of thick darkness followed upon the day when the first Greek version of the Pentateuch was ushered into the world. It was a day deemed to be as full of sinister import as that on which the golden calf was fashioned ; for that the Law could not be adequately translated into any foreign language. An annual fast (the 8th of Tebeth) was insti? tuted in mournful commemoration of the event.1 In such ways the forebodings found expression of devout and zealous men anxiously contemplating an event, the consequences of which were beyond their range of calculation. That there were men who did not share these misgivings, and who regarded every effort to make the Scriptures accessible to other than Hebrew-speaking peoples a legitimate means of pushing forward the spiritual frontiers of Judaism, will cause no surprise. The surprising thing is that, with a passionate devotion to the Hebrew language as the choicest medium of intercommunion between God and man, the ancient Jewish doctors did, nevertheless, insist upon it that in prayer the primary condition on the intellectual side was that the worshipper should comprehend what he was uttering, and that where he was ignorant of the holy tongue, he might pray in any language with which he was familiar, and in so doing would fulfil his duty. In Caesarea, in Alexandria, and in other parts of the diaspora, Greek was the recognised language of worship.2 1 Sopherim, i. 7; Orach Chayim, 580, 2, 2 See Sch?rer, II. 543. 36</page><page sequence="2">EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS OF JEWISH LITURGY. 37 When one Rabbi1 insisted that the Shema was to be spoken in Hebrew, because it contained the passage, " And these words which I command thee this day, shall be upon thine heart," he was refuted by others, who pointed to the introductory exhortation, "Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." Hearing meant understanding; if less than that, it meant nothing. It is not the mechanical impact of certain waves of sound upon the drum of the ear; it is the mental audition, the intellectual assent of the worshipper that is asked for in "Hear, 0 Israel." And so the rule was formulated and extended, that among the pra}7ers that might be offered up in any language were the Shema, the Amidah or Eighteen Benedictions, the Grace after meals, &amp;c. Maimonides2 and Joseph Karo3 embody this principle in their respective codes, the caution being significantly added, that he who reads the Shema in another language should be on his guard against errors of speech, and should pronounce the words with the same pre? cision and grammatical accuracy as it is his duty to observe in Hebrew prayers. The celebrated Sepher Chasidim, by Judah Chasid, dating from the thirteenth century, re-echoes the Talmudic doctrine, and declares that a God-fearing person who is unacquainted with the holy tongue does well to offer up his prayer in the language he under? stands.4 Translations of the Liturgy must then have very early become a necessity. What was true near, and even in, Palestine, and already before the destruction of the Temple, would not be likely to be less true at more distant points in time and space. It is, however, translations that arose on English soil in which the Anglo-Jewish Historical Society may be supposed more particularly interested, and which, with their authors, form the subject of this paper. The eye of the inquirer in this field wanders longingly towards the pre-expulsion period. Unfortunately, nothing meets him but a great expanse of possibilities. The early English ritual bore great resemblance to that of France, though the now much-discussed Etz Chayim, of Jacob b. Judah of London, has features that differentiate 1 Bab. Ber. 13a, Sotah 32b. 2 Hilchoth Keriath Shema 2. 3 Orach Ohayim 62. 4 ? 588.</page><page sequence="3">38 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS it from the parent stock. But the Jewish authors of that time used French as their language of ordinary intercourse.1 Instruction in Hebrew must have been given through the medium of French, and there is high probability that their liturgical literature was not lack? ing in translations. If Mr. Joseph Jacobs2 is correct in assigning England as the birthplace of an Oxford MS., dating from the thirteenth century, of a work, ilTinn 11 pn, treating of Jewish education, we may learn from it the interesting fact that it was deemed requisite for teachers to translate the Bible into the vernacular as well as into Targum. Is the work of translation likely to have stopped there ? In the French ritual it seems to have been customary on the Seder evening to repeat in the vernacular the first two pieces before and after the second cup of wine.3 There is great likelihood that the Jews of England, as a body, did not break with that custom. It is true that Dr. Kaufmann, judging from the Bitual of the Seder of the English Jews before the Expulsion, compiled by the Rabbi Jacob b. Judah of London before referred to, is led to think that that custom was not kept up in Eng? land ; but it is not a little remarkable that " Babbi Jacob of London " (could he have been the aforenamed Jacob b. Judah 1) produced a translation of the Passover Hagada for the use of women and chil? dren,4 and thus did for the Hagada, as a whole, what in the French Ritual had been confined to a couple of the more important passages alone. Will this have been a solitary production of its kind ? Shall we ever recover this or other versions done on English soil 1 Most of the documentary evidences of the period, mainly composed of Shetaroth, wear a very monotonous aspect, and have in them, to my thinking, little to inspire delight or even satisfaction in their perusal. Alas! no Court of Exchequer, Record Office, or Rolls Court thought it worth while to preserve those tokens of the spiritual and literary activity of the Jews of England, whose intrinsic value, unlike that of the Shetaroth, would not have lapsed by any efflux of time. There is, of course, a very simple explanation of the paucity of Jewish literary treasures during the pre-expulsion period. The exiles carried their 1 Zunz, Die Ritus, 62. 2 Jews of Angevin England. 3 See the Ritual of the Seder and the Agada of the English Jews before the Expulsion, by Dr. David Kaufmann, Jewish Quarterly Review, TV. 550. 4 Zunz, Die Ritus, 62.</page><page sequence="4">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND 39 sacred manuscripts as the most precious among their possessions away with them into other lands. If one asks whether any are ever destined again to see the light, the question is not so absurd as it appears. Who could have dreamed that fortune would have favoured us, after all these centuries, by the recovery of the very Prayer-Book and Hagada in use in England before 1290? Perhaps fate may yet prove as propitious in the discovery of the translations as she has been in regard to the originals. Scarcely have the first threads of our subject been woven, when they are snapped asunder, to remain severed for more than three centuries and a half. The next reference to a translation of the Liturgy occurs in a very unexpected connection. It is by this time, thanks, in great part, to the researches of Mr. Lucien Wolf, one of the indisputable facts of Anglo-Jewish history that, the expulsion notwithstanding, there was a considerable number of Jews who were residents in, or visitors to, England before the Besettlement. The intercourse between England and Holland was especially active. The records of interments in Amsterdam give, for example, under the dates 1623 and 1625, the burial of the daughter of an English Jew, and of the wife and children of an English proselyte.1 It is in Holland also that we come across a reference to translations of the Jewish Prayers into English. Our President, whose discoveries in a field he has made peculiarly his own are so often generously placed at other people's service, has drawn my attention to an entry in John Evelyn's Diary, which has hitherto been strangely overlooked. Under place and date London, 1641, Evelyn writes : " I was brought acquainted with a Bur gundian Jew who had married an apostate Kentish woman." This Jew gives Evelyn an account of certain quaint Jewish beliefs, as to the end of the world, the transmigration of souls, the responsibility of the Bomans for the death of Jesus, and the manner in which, when the Messiah comes, all the vessels of Holland will break from their moor? ings and convey the Jews from all parts of the world to the Holy City. What is, however, most interesting in this entry is the following : " He showed me several books of their devotions which he had translated into English for the instruction of his wife." Here, then, we have 1 D. Henriques de Castro, Auswahl von Grabsteinen.</page><page sequence="5">40 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS these remarkable points, that a Jew takes to himself a wife of the daughters of Britain, that he converts her to Judaism, and for her benefit translates the Jewish Liturgy?all this having taken place presumably some time before 1641. This Jewish husband of an English woman seems to have been what would be called a strict observer in other respects, for, although Evelyn describes him as " a merry drunken fellow," he adds, " but he would by no means handle any money (for something purchased of him), it being Saturday; but desired me to leave it in the window, meaning to receive it on Sunday morning." Again, we are left to conjecture what this version of the Liturgy was like. It would almost appear that before we get to a still surviv? ing translation of the Liturgy as many must have arisen and dis? appeared as there are cities buried beneath the upper levels of Rome or Jerusalem. Not all the translations are by Jewish or by friendly or by honest hands. In 1656, at the time when the question of the return of the Jews to England was passing out of the academic stage and beginning seriously to occupy the public mind, there appeared among a growing mass of more or less hostile literature "A View of the Jewish Religion, containing the Manner of Life, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Jewish Nation throughout the World at this present Time," with ''the Articles of their Faith as now received, Faithfully collected by A.B." (Alexander Ross). A curious collection of rags and tags drawn from divers sources, mingling fact and fiction with indiscriminate hand, and pre? senting a strange travesty of the Jewish Ritual. The bias of the writer is sufficiently pronounced. He sees attacks upon Christ, Christians, and Christianity in almost every page, and, always pro? testing his own perfect impartiality, proves it by falling foul of the Jewish nation throughout the world, and attributing to them the use in prayer of " fraudulent and blasphemous words slavered forth out of their hellish mouths." No one who objected to England be? coming a vast receptacle for alien immigrants, who, upon " A. R.'s '* hypothesis, must have been either vicious or insane, would be likely to open the door to people of whom he believed the things reported in that book. Nevertheless, the rendering the author offers of passages from the Prayer-Book are often of interest. The creeds,</page><page sequence="6">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 41 for example, are well rendered, though the style, as seen, for instance, in the use of the accusative of the noun with the infinitive verb in dependent sentences, indicates that the author had before him a Latin translation, and not the original of Maimonides' Articles of Faith. There are translations, more or less accurate, of the morning blessings, of the penitential Dim Klffl, of of the Sabbath Sancti fication, of the Prayers for the Sick, even of the Zemiroth of Friday night, and so forth. They are not likely to have been translated direct from the original. I give two or three specimens. The first is from the Zemiroth, ^nnU? D1TT nft and Kin VTi\&gt; TOW DV? " Put on clothes that show forth mirth and joy, Consecrate the Candle that it may burn well, Depart from all work, End all thy works on Friday, Give thy selfe to all sorts of pleasures, To Fish, Capons, and Quailes, Take care to be ready in the Evening, Seek out various delights, Cramm'd Hens, and many dainties, Make no small esteeme of Aromaticall Wine, &amp;c. Go softly for pleasantnesse, and longer morning Sleep is commanded by the Law. Silk and Satin clothes are to be high prized, And they that weare them are to be honoured, The day of the Sabbath is holy, O happy man that can keep it exactly, Let no cares trouble your minde, Though spiders make nests in your pockets, Be merry and jojfull-minded, Though it be with much money of other men's, Provide the most excellent Wine, Flesh, and Fish, And with these three furnish thy table, So large rewards for thee Are laid up here and there." 1 The following is from the Confession of the sick and dying :? " I acknowledge and confess before Thee, 0 Lord my God, God of my Fathers, God of the spirits of all flesh, that my health and death is in Thy hands. Restore me, I pray Thee, to former health, be Thou mindful of me, 1 Pp. 233-234.</page><page sequence="7">42 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS and hear my prayers, as in the time of King HezeMah when he was sick : but if the time of my visitation be come in which I must die, let my death be an expiation for all my sinnes, iniquities, and transgressions, which I have ignorantly or knowingly committed since I came into the world. Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may have my part in Paradise and the age to come, which is appointed for the righteous, and make known to me the wayes of eternal life, fill me with the joy of Thy countenance for ever. Blessed art Thou, 0 Lord, which nearest our prayers."1 The prayer at the office of D^H *05?, Change of Name, now almost entirely out of use among Western Jews, is thus reproduced :? " The Lord have mercy upon N. and restore him to life and health, and let his name hereafter be called JV. (sic), and let him rejoice in Thy name, and be confirmed in it, &amp;c. Let it, 0 God, I pray thee, be Thy good pleasure that the changing his name may take away all hard decrees, and alter the sentence of death given out against him : if death be decreed to N., yet it is not to N. ; if a decree be made against N.9 yet it is not against N. Behold this houre he is as a new man, a new creature, and as a child new born to a good life and length of dayes." 2 The year 1689 gives us the earliest translation into Spanish of a book on the Jewish Bitual, by a minister of an Anglo-Je wish Con? gregation. The Compendio de Dinim que todo Israel Deve Saber y Observar, though printed in Amsterdam, was the work of David Pardo, Chazan of the Portuguese Congregation in London. The little volume is somewhat outside the scope of our title, and I will not refer to it further than to say that it is a concise handbook of the more important Bitual Laws, and that its author belonged to a remarkable family, which gave Chachamim to Amsterdam, Surinam, and Jamaica, as well as Chazanim to London, who in their day were as learned as some Chachamim. We now come to the first Jew who endeavoured to give to English speaking people, and primarily to non-Jews, some idea of the contents of the Jewish Liturgy. I might, perhaps, have made mention of the English version by G. Chilmead, which appeared in 1650, of Leon Modena's Italian work on " The History of Modern Jews," containing a translation of some of the Blessings. But it is to Isaac Abendana that we are indebted for most ably showing forth to the educated P. 403. 1 P. 402.</page><page sequence="8">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 43 Christians in England some of the beauties of the Jewish Prayer Book. Isaac Abendana was the brother of Jacob Abendana, who was chosen Chacham of London, in succession to Joshua da Silva, in 1680. He belonged to a family of scholars.1 His brother, the Chacham, probably by way of reply to attempts made to convert him by a Professor (Antonius Halsius) at Leyden, translated the Cuzari, Jehuda Halevi's system of the Jewish faith, into Spanish. But Isaac's activity seems to have been even more considerable than his brother's. He translated the Mishnah and parts of Maimonides' Yad Hachazakah into Spanish. Together with his brother, he edited, with additions, the and translated (the lion's share of the work falling to him) the whole of the Mishnah into Latin?a work which Kayserling says is, or was, in manuscript in six volumes in the Cambridge Library. Coming to England with his brother Jacob, he settled in Oxford, became a teacher of Hebrew, gave lectures in Hebrew literature, and was honoured with the degree of Doctor.2 He is said to have been a man of delightful conversation, and certainly he had the tact, while writing in a manner that could not but advance respect for Jews and Judaism, not to utter a word that might give umbrage to Christians. He was in correspondence with many learned Christians; two inedited letters of his to Buxtorf the younger, one in Hebrew and the other in English, are extant.3 For several years he published a Jewish Calendar, to which it was his habit to affix a dissertation on some subject of Jewish interest. Those for 1695 and 1699 are enriched respectively with "An Account of our Publick Liturgy as at this day established among us," and " A Discourse concerning the Jewish Fasts, wherein is a brief Account of the Great Day of Expiation." They are avowedly intended to give Christians an idea of Jewish rites and tenets. The latter of these short treatises contains, among other things, a description of the Abodah, the High Priest's ministrations in the 1 See Kayserling, Analehten; Frankel's Monatschrift, 9. 2 The two men Isaac and Jacob Abendana are often confounded, and Jacob absorbs all that belonged to Isaac, probably on account of his official position. Even Dr. Ginsburg, in his article " Abendana" in " Kitto's Encyclopaedia," in? extricably confuses the two men as well as their works. 3 Carmoly, Medecins Juifs, i. 178 ; Kayserling, loc ext.</page><page sequence="9">44 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS ancient Temple. It is almost literally translated from Mishnah Joma, and is as lucid as the original, offering in this respect a striking con? trast to the involved and difficult Piyut, by Meshullam b. Kalonymos, which in our Atonement Service takes the place of the Mishnaic account. Here is a specimen :? " Then he went to his sin-offering which stood between the porch and the Altar, and laying both his hands upon its head, confest both his own and family's sins, after this manner : ' 0 Lord, I and my house have committed iniquity, rebell'd and sinn'd against Thee : therefore, 0 Lord, I beseech Thee, pardon the iniquities, rebellion and sin, which I and my house have com? mitted, according to Thy promise made to this purpose in the Law of Moses.'"1 The form of resolution on the day previous to a voluntary fast is thus rendered:? " 0 God, the Governor of the world, I resolve here, in Thy awful presence, to afflict myself with fasting to-morrow. 0 my God and God of my fore? fathers, be pleas'd to receive me favourably, and graciously to hear my Prayers and answer my Supplications. 0 Thou that hearest the Prayers of all men, heal me ; and let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be always pleasing in Thy sight, 0 my Strength and my Redeemer." 2 A passage or two from his Account of our Public Liturgy can hardly fail to interest. First, a few sentences from his introductory remarks:? " As to the first requisite in prayer, viz., the qualifications of the party that prayeth, be it observed that he must be duly prepared and disposed in mind and affection before he presume to appear in the presence of God, and that such previous dispositions are to be procured by a serious meditation on the great solemnity of the action he is going about. (To which purpose 'tis observable, that some of our pious ancients did use to tarry some short space in the synagogue before prayers begun, the better to settle and compose their thoughts.) At his entrance into the places of publick worship he must behave himself with all agreeable reverence, as being sensible of the great holiness and sanctity thereof. Pursuant hereto his thoughts must be seques tred from all vain and frivolous objects, and fix'd with the most serious attention on the duty which he is engag'd in, as knowing that wand'ring desires, and lazy, or formal, or hypocritical devotion, will find no acceptance with God who searches the heart, and expects we should wholly dedicate that 10. P. 86.</page><page sequence="10">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 45 to Him, and commands trie service of the mind, as well as of the mouth. To attain this end he must repeat his prayers seriously, gravely, and delibe? rately, without haste or precipitation, that his heart and his tongue may go together, and God may be glorified by that as well as this." 1 The summary he gives of the Shemoneh Esreh is admirable in every way, while it would be difficult to offer a better explanation or a more suitable version than that contained in the following :? " But because these prayers, being of a considerable length, cannot in a short space of time be performed, especially in the manner above related ; and because the exigencies of our affairs may sometimes be such that we may have not sufficient leasure to attend them : therefore in cases of extreme danger to our persons, as in times of war and persecutions, and insuperable difficulties and necessities, as in a journey that requires haste and expedition, some use the following form : ' The necessities of Thy people are many ; their understanding is weak ; may it please Thee, 0 Lord our God, to grant us what is sufficient for our sustenance, and to send a supply proportioned to every man's wants, and do what is good in Thine eyes. Blessed be Thou, 0 Lord, that nearest prayer.' Others, instead of that form, do on the like occasions use this following, entitled Habhenenu, being a compendious abstract of the nineteen principal prayers, beginning at the fourth and ending with the sixteenth, and is thus conceived : ' Give us understanding, 0 Lord our God, to know Thy ways ; circumcise our hearts, that we may fear Thee ; grant us pardon that we may be cleansed from our sins ; remove from us all grief and sorrows ; grant that we may enjoy the pleasures of Thy habitation in Thy holy Land ; gather the dispersed from the four corners of the earth ; judge them that do err from Thy Law ; let the righteous be glad in the restoration of Thy holy City, the re-establishment of Thy Temple, and the restitution of the Kingdom of David, that his name may shine, and his Crown flourish; before we call, do Thou answer, and whilst we are yet speaking, do Thou hearken ; for Thou art our Redeemer and Deliverer in all our tribulation and distress. Blessed be Thou, O God, that hearest prayer." 2 You will have no difficulty in recognising in all this the English of a cultured scholar of that age. If Isaac Abendana had undertaken a complete translation of our Liturgy, the work of subsequent trans? lators would have been greatly facilitated or might have been rendered superfluous ; and I know at least one version of the Prayer-Book which would probably never have seen the light. Returning now from English to Spanish translators of our Liturgy, 1 Pp. 4-5. 2 Pp. 28-29.</page><page sequence="11">46 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS we have to notice the work of two very remarkable men. Of a high order of merit was the contribution towards the translation of the Liturgy made by Daniel Israel Lopez Laguna. Born in France about the year 1660, a Marrano, he passed as a youth into Spain, where he made practical experience of some of the terrors of the Inquisition. Equipped w7ith the learning he had managed to gather in both coun? tries, he escaped from Spain and found his way to Jamaica, and later to London. His life had been one of constant peril in its earlier stages, and full of trial and suffering to the last. Like many another who had made acquaintance with griefs, he found in the Psalms at once a reflex of his sorrows and a spring of comfort under them. He was among those unhappy ones who "are cradled into poetry by wrong." The fruit of many years' labour was given to the world in London in a metrical translation of the Psalms under the title of "Espejo fiel de Yidas "?Faithful Mirror of Lives. The book has a subjective colour? ing, his own experience being occasionally introduced into the very words of the text. But it was esteemed a very notable production, and the poetical spirit that breathed through it inspired quite a little host of admirers to break into song in commendation of it.1 Of the very highest interest, however, in connection with our subject are the Spanish translations, which appeared in London in 1740, of the Prayers for New Year and Atonement (the latter supple? mented by a translation of Ibn GabiroPs Keter Malchut) and that of Daily Prayers, New Moon, Hanucah and Purim, published thirty-one years later?both by Isaac ISTieto. Isaac had succeeded his father, the celebrated David Nieto, in the Chachamship in 1728. There were of course earlier translations for the use of Spanish Jews; but they were generally in the Judseo-Spanish jargon, against which the cultured spirits of that time already revolted. A remarkable point about these Spanish translations is that they were printed without any corre? sponding Hebrew text?a practice in which Nieto was but following the example of the earlier editions of Amsterdam. The question is for whom these translations were intended. Some imagine that they were designed for the special use of women and children. But the writers make no mention of such a purpose, and 1 See Kayserling's Sephardim, p. 297, and Graetz, Geschichte, X. 326.</page><page sequence="12">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 47 that these Prayer-books were equally intended for the use of men is evident from their containing the old formula: " Blessed art Thou, who hast not made me a woman." Ignorance of Hebrew is not, as is too readily taken for granted, the discreditable mark of our own age exclusively. In this respect, as in a good many others, the caution may serve: "Say not, How is it the former days were better than these?" During the last century the cry was already heard, in pamphlets and elsewhere, that Hebrew was an unknown tongue to many Jewish worshippers. Abraham Pimentel, a distinguished member of the Portuguese community in the early part of the last century, in a preface to Laguna's Version of the Psalms, says distinctly that " our brethren who have fled from Spanish and Portuguese persecutions hither to London were compelled to pray in Spanish because of their ignorance of the Hebrew."1 The truth is that the Marranos, men as well as women and children, were nearly always unacquainted with Hebrew, though in other respects abreast of the culture of their age, and it was to satisfy a taste trained and educated on a pure Spanish dialect that a different sort of version was needed from that offered in the corrupt jargon whose fate it has somehow been, whether in the Spanish or the German variety, to be regarded with a species of super? stitious awe, and as but one degree less inspired than the Hebrew original. With a courage and an enlightenment deserving of all praise, Isaac Nieto set himself the task of dethroning the Judseo-Spanish jargon and setting up a more legitimate successor in its stead. In his Introduction to the Orden de las Oraciones de Ros-ashanah y Kippur, he gives vent to the general complaint concerning the decline of the devotional spirit. The cause, he thinks, is to be sought in the little regard manifested for the requirements of the more educated classes. People said they did not understand what they uttered, and how was devotion to be excited by means of words without meaning ? The version in use was full of unsuitable, barbarous, uncouth, and obsolete expressions; the style was unworthy to be employed in prayer to the Eternal Omnipotent God. If it was possible to improve upon the old 1 See Early Jewish Literature in America, by G. A. Kohut, in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, III. 111.</page><page sequence="13">48 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS translation, and to give the sense in terms the most appropriate and the most intelligible in use in the language, why not do it ? Were we to venerate mistakes because they were old, or to respect what is unbecoming because it was ancient 1 Languages change in the course of time. It was our duty to amend our versions in the measure in which the language became modified. Again, who did not know how widely the Hebrew language differed in character and construction from the Castilian? If we prayed in Castilian, it was because we were ignorant of Hebrew; but if a translation was full of Hebraisms, that would be to make us pray in Castiliano-Hebrew, something that was neither Castilian nor Hebrew. Then Nieto turns upon, and effectually disposes of the arguments of those who justify their use of the old corrupt translations on the ground that there is a peculiar sanctity and mystery attaching to versions of this sort, which would vanish if another medium were resorted to. The credit of producing the first printed Jewish Prayer-Book in the English language belongs again to the Spanish and Portuguese branch of the community. This time, curiously enough, it is not in London, but in New York that it sees the light. The book, a small quarto of 191 pages, is entitled "Prayers for Shabbath, Bosh Hashanah and Kippur, or the Sabbath, the Beginning of the Year and the Day of Atonements; with the Amid ah and Musaph of the Moadim or Solemn Seasons; According to the Order of the Spanish and Portu? guese Jews, Translated by Isaac Pinto, and for him printed by John Holt, in New York, a.m. 5526 "=1766. The book may, however, by a little breadth of interpretation, be considered as covered by the title of this lecture, because in 1766 the United States had not yet formally severed their connection with England. Taking England, by synec? doche, for the British Empire, Isaac Pinto, publishing his English Prayer-Book in New York, may be classed among the early transla? tors of the Jewish Prayer-Book in England. The Preface is interesting, as it affords another indication of the state of Hebrew knowledge at the time. After expressing his con? viction of the importance of Hebrew as a medium of Prayer, the translator continues that that language " being imperfectly understood by many, by some not at all, it has been necessary to translate our Prayers in the language of the country wherein it hath pleased the</page><page sequence="14">of the jewish liturgy in england. 49 Divine Providence to appoint our lot. In Europe, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews have a translation in Spanish, which, as they gene? rally understand, may be sufficient; but that not being the case in the British Dominions in America, has induced me to Attempt a Translation, not without Hope that it may tend to the Improvement of many of my Brethren in their Devotion." Pinto acknowledges his indebtedness to " the elegant Spanish Translation " of " the Learned and Beverend H. H. B. Ishac Nieto." As in the case of the Spanish trans? lations to which I have referred, no Hebrew appears in the book, and this fact would seem to show that there must have been an appreciable number of persons in the last century who, for purposes of private worship at least, and perhaps also while in attendance at synagogue, depended upon English alone in their devotions. Some crudities there are in this translation, but few serious mistakes, and the style has a genuine devotional ring, as a single passage will testify. It is The Confession op the Musaph, of Babbenu Shem Tob Ben Ardusiel. Ribbono Shel Olam. " Lord of the World ! When I consider that the lustre of my Youth is departed, and that my Prospects are all of them become as a mere Shadow ; while my Sins appear red as Scarlet, although my Locks are white as Snow, according to the Great Number of Years wasted in the Pursuit of every Lust, and which have been spent in transgressing every Precept; now alas ! at an End without Hope, I almost despair the obtaining a Reformation, or that I shall be able to repent, while the Time is thus short, and the Labour exceed? ing great. Oh when will the Time come (I was wont to say), that I may publickly confess the sins I have with Presumption committed ; Now that the Time is come, how shall I confess, in the few hours I have remaining, the Sins and Iniquities which I have committed ? Or that I should even be able to mention them, when to enumerate them Words would be wanting; If to write them, Books and Volumes would not contain them : Days and Nights would be consumed in the Confession, and there would yet remain the greater Part to be confessed. Nevertheless, if with pleasing and mellifluent Words, I implore Forgiveness of my Transgressions, how good, and how agreeable would it be ? I will begin then with the Confession of the Sin of an Evil Tongue ; I will entreat with tender Expressions for the Sin of the Dissoluteness of Speech. As the Mouth hath been the occasion of the Crime, vol. iii. d</page><page sequence="15">50 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS may it now be the Instrument of obtaining Pardon. But alas! How shall the Speech of Lips be able to obtain Forgiveness for the Blood wherewith the Hands are stained, or for the Violence they have done. For the Sins past and present already perpetrated and committed. Of what avail can the Con? fession of a deceitful Tongue be ? What Advantage can it be to him that is laden with Wickedness, the many unprofitable Confessions, however frequent they may be made ? For the Expiation of Transgression doth not consist in the Multitude of Words : Is the Health of the Soul to be obtained by the Motion of the Lips, however Eloquent, whilst the Heart retaineth Malice, and the Thoughts are immersed in every Abomination? And although my Tears should fall in Drops, as the Rain, to entreat for the Sin which I have committed against Thee through error, I should nevertheless be accountable before Thy divine Tribunal, for the Sin which I have presumptuously com? mitted against Thee : Or if I were to hope obtaining (as it were by a Miracle) Pardon for the Sin which I have committed against Thee by Constraint; WToe of me, if I must suffer Pain both in Body and Mind, for the Sin which I have committed against Thee, with my Free Will. And although I earnestly intreat, and my Pardon be granted for the Sin which I have committed against Thee in Secret; yet my Heart would be parched up in the Fire of Terror, for the Sin which I have committed against Thee in Public. Or if I should say, I will for this Time fly from Thy Presence until Thine anger be passed over ; how inconsistent! When the whole Earth is full of Thy Glory, and there is none to deliver from Thy Power ; the very grave is naked before Thee : Whither shall I fly from Thy Presence, when there is nothing hid from Thine Eyes ? If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there ; and if I make the Grave my Bed, Thou art there. I will be Dumb, and put my Hand to my Mouth ; I am ashamed and confounded. With Heart fearful, and trembling, absorpt and amazed in Mind, the Thoughts in Suspense, unable to determine between liberty and constraint, possible and impossible ; uncertain which may be the most proper, whether to stand or fly, whether to be fearful or have Hope; halting between two opinions; whether I ought to call my Iniquities to Mind, or endeavour to forget them ; whether I should speak or hold my Peace ? 0 the dreadful Situation ! If I am silent my whole Frame trembles ; And if I speak my Crimes are then discovered : 0 the Remorse of my Heart, at my past Life ! If I think of hiding my Iniquity in my own Bosom, and to lodge it in my own Breast, my Countenance would be an Evidence of my Guilt: But above all, the Judge intuitively beholdeth the most profound Secrets ; and before Him there is no Oblivion. He respecteth not Persons, nor will He receive Bribes. How very precious a thing is the Redemption from Sin, and how shall 1, that am poor and indigent in good Works, be able to obtain Purification. I will therefore bow down my Head as a Reed, my Tears tinged with my Blood through Grief : And Inwardly I am rent in Pieces through Anguish.</page><page sequence="16">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 51 " But I stand self-reproved, my own Mind answering me with Encourage? ment, saying: Although the Judge is awful and tremendous, yet earnestly intreat for Redemption, for there is still time ; nor dispair obtaining Mercy, For the Sun is yet high, and hastened not yet to set, as a perfect Day : That there may be Time for thy penitential Cry, and a Door opened to thy Prayer, to grant thy Request : And although thy Crime be ever so great, God is still infinitely greater to forgive, and if thy Sins are as the Waters of the Sea, and the Waves thereof, and thy Offences as the Stars of Heaven and their Hosts, consider that the Mercy of the Lord is Eternal: And if thy Iniquities surpass the Clouds, his divine Favour excelleth the Heavens, even the highest Heavens." Messrs. Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf assert1 that the Mahamad would not allow this translation to appear in England. If this is a fact, it is a very mysterious one, considering that the Spanish trans? lation of Nieto had been produced with the license of the Mahamad twenty-six years earlier. However, the ways of congregations are sometimes mysterious, and their earlier course is not always a guide to that which they will later adopt. But this other fact also remains, that whatever the Spanish Jews in those days undertook was done with a happy union of knowledge, dignity, and zeal. I wish we could say the same of the German and Polish element of that period. Zeal there may have been, but there was little either of knowledge or dignity. Beference must first be made to a volume entitled "The Book of the Religion, Ceremonies, and Prayers of the Jews. . . . Translated immediately from the Hebrew by Gamaliel Ben Pedahzur, Gent; Printed in London in 1738." It is a pretentious volume, and one is at a loss whether to be more amused at the audacity or at the ignorance of this " Gent." Internal evidence shows him to have sprung from the Ashkenazi section of the community. This is his notion of the meaning of the Kaddish (Gamaliel, p. 163):? Reader goes on with a loud voice. He shall be magnify'd, and he shall be sanctify;d ; 0 his great name in the world, his word, and his will; and he shall be king over all his kingdoms, in your lifetime, and in your days, and during the life of the whole house of Israel, in his triumphal chariot, yea very speedily, and ye shall say, Amen. Cong.?Amen. His great name shall be blessed everlastingly, throughout all worlds he shall be blessed. 1 Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica, p. 174.</page><page sequence="17">52 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS Reader goes on with a loud voice. He shall be blessed, and he shall be praised, and he shall be beautify'd, and he shall be exalted, and he shall be raised, and he shall be adorn'd with majesty, and he shall rise, and he shall be extoll'd ; 0 the name of the holy one, blessed is he. Gong.?-Blessed is he already and for ever. Reader goes on with a loud voice. Already and for ever with all the blessings and singings, praises and comforts it hath been said in the world, and ye shall say, Amen. Gong.?Amen. 0 that he may with mercy and with a good will accept our prayers. Reader goes on with a loud voice. He shall accept of their prayers, and of their desire of the whole house of Israel, offered up before him, who is their father which is in heaven, and ye shall say, Amen. Cong.?A men. The name of the Lord shall be blessed, from now unto the end of the world, for ever. The Al Chet becomes as follows in his hands :? " And for the sin which we have sinned against thee with a lofty neck . . . with painting our eye . . . with the help of a cross-eye ... with an uncovered, or light and giddy head. . . . And for the sins for which we deserved (the four dying sentences of the house or hands of justice) Stoning, Burning, Slaughtering, Strangling, on account of statutes commanded to be observed and on account of statutes commanded not to be observed, whether they be subsistant, thou shalt perform them ; and if they be not subsistant thou shalt perform ; yea those discovered unto us, and even those which are not discovered unto us, we have already spoke of them unto thee," &amp;c. But the topmost summit of absurdity is reached in Gamaliel ben Pedahzur's version of B. Ishmael's thirteen exegetical rules by which the Torah is expounded :? "Rabbi Yeshmoel saith, that the law is preached in thirteen different ways, by concluding the easy from the difficult, and from judging between two equalities, from a main text written in one place and from a main text written in two several places, from generals and particulars, and from parti? culars and generals ; the general and particular and general, you cannot judge but as a particular of generals; for it must be of particulars, and of a par? ticular ; for that must be from a general, and all things that have been generals, and proceed from generals, to learn and not to learn, answer- for themselves, but to learn of the generals answers all; and everything that was</page><page sequence="18">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 53 in the generals and went to reason any other reasoning not to the purpose, is counted easy and not difficult, and everything that was in general and went to judge of a new thing, thou couldst not answer him to generals till the text is turn'd to generals explained, as learning the matter from its circumstances, and learning the matter from its conclusions. And so it is with two texts that contradict each other till the third text conies in and determines between them."1 The translator considerately adds in a note, "This paragraph of R. Yeshmoel is just the same incoherence in the Hebrew as it is here in the English." The excuse recalls the well-known method of the school-boy who hands in incomprehensible translations of classical authors and defends himself by pleading that the obscurity is in the original. The argument is rarely accepted as conclusive by judges.2 Efforts were made, when the century had passed threescore and ten, to improve upon Gamaliel, and, partly with this avowed object, the first English translation of the Prayer-Book as a whole was pro? duced by B. Myers and A. Alexander. It was not a very decided step in advance, and what was best in the book must have been due to Mr. Myers rather than to Mr. Alexander. This is the conclusion one arrives at on examining Alexander's independent work. I am sorry to say Alexander translated the whole of the Festival Prayers of the Por? tuguese Bite. It was a melancholy performance. Indeed, it almos seems as if the worst literary service ever rendered to the Portuguese was done by an Ashkenazi, and, as an Ashkenazi, I feel inclined to apologise to them. In justice to our sister community, I should mention that the translation does not bear the Imprimatur of the Mahamad. Wise Mahamad! Mr. Alexander was a bold, bad book-maker. He published, among many other things, a n^finr6 niTOa ")QD, or "A Key to Part of the Hebrew Liturgy," which, for its size, is about as big a fraud as I know, page after page being lifted bodily, without acknowledgment or hint, from Abendana's work of nearly eighty years before?a sort of liturgical resurrection-pie. What his style and that of his " assistants " was like 1 P. 15. 2 There is strong reason to believe that Gamaliel ben Pedahzur was an apostate from Judaism, and that his book was intended to cast ridicule upon the com? munity whom he had deserted. The reader will probably be inclined to think that Gamaliel has unintentionally succeeded in making himself ridiculous.</page><page sequence="19">54 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS you may gather from a specimen taken from the Hagadah, which was their joint production. It appeared in 1770, and was the first edition of that portion of our Liturgy printed with a translation and directions in English. " On the first and second night of Passover, the table at every family's house is set off thus : The tablecloth is on as usual; in the middle of the table stands a large dish cover'd with a napkin, on the napkin is laid a large Passover cake, mark'd with three notches, which cake is called ^"i^, Israelite, that cake is cover'd with a napkin, and on the napkin is laid a second cake, with one notch, which cake is called v^j, Levite, that cake is cover'd with a napkin, and on the napkin is laid a third cake, with one notch, which is called [PD,1 a priest of the tribe of Aaron, that cake is cover'd with a napkin, on which stands a plate, and in the plate there is a 2shank-bone of a shoulder with a small matter of meat on it, which is burnt quite brown on the fire. 3 A small quantity of raw charvil, 4a cup with salt water, 5an egg roasted hard in hot ashes that it may not be broke, a stick 6of horse-radish, with the green top to it, 7a couple of round balls about the bigness of a pigeon's egg, are made of bitter almonds, pounded with apples, &amp;c. " Every person at the table has his glass, or cup, fill'd with wine, at this ceremony four different times, as hereafter mentioned, which is called in Hebrew niDID jn"IK, four cups, though at supper many more are made use of, but at the ceremonies no more than four. 8"The seat of the master is three chairs, set close together, in imitation 1 " ^ |i"D- The above-mentioned three cakes, with one, two, and three notches, are made to distinguish the one from the other, and to know how to place them in the dish, and that the Reader may observe, the one notch is laid uppermost, and that with two is put under that with one notch, and that with three notches undermost. There is another cake which is called pfiD (i.e. doubt? ful), because it is uncertain whether it will be wanted for any use at all, and if it should, it is uncertain which of them. 2 "Is in remembrance of the flesh roasted with fire, that was commanded to be eat this night in Egypt. See Exodus xii. 8. 3 " In remembrance of the sower herbs, which were commanded to be eat this night in Egypt. Se*e Ibid. 4 *' In remembrance of the sea which the children of Israel cross'd over. 5 "In remembrance of the Paschal Lamb commanded this night to be roasted whole, without blemish. See Exodus xii. 5. 6 *' In remembrance of hard labour, which made the eyes water, and the green top is in remembrance of the bitterness of the labour. 7 "In remembrance of working in bitterness in lime and brick. 8 *' The reason is to indicate masterly authority which we are deprived of, being there in servitude and bondage."</page><page sequence="20">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 55 of a couch, at the head of which are put pillows to raise it high, for the master to lean on whilst he sits at table. l" In all families, the meanest of the Hebrew servants are seated at table these two nights with their masters and mistresses, and the rest of their superiors. One cup of wine is always set on the table extraordinary, for Elias, the Prorjhet, to drink of (which is always drank by the youngest at table in his stead), and always filled, when the rest are at the ceremonies. All things being thus in proper order, and every one having first washed their hands, and seated round the table, the master of the family takes his cup of wine in his right hand (the rest at the table doing the same), he and altogether with him in concert, sayeth." It is not easy to keep one's countenance as one reads that what our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt was " the likeness of this poor bread ;" that it was called " poor on account it was hard to digest; " that " Thou didst release from the lion's den he who interpreted the horrors of the night;" that "he who concealed blasphemy desiring exaltation his corps didst thou cause to purify at night;" that " Agagi retained an aversion "?the translator's way of saying that Haman bore Israel a grudge?and that the writing on the wall was the work of " the hand that wrote to root out the root on the Passover." I have already reached the fair limit of a paper of this kind, and I leave for next session the continuation of this subject, which will take up the thread where I now drop it, but will mainly concern itself with David Levi, the man, his writings, and his times. One word of caution in conclusion. Let it not for a moment be imagined that, much as we value, and ought to value, accuracy in ren? dering and purity of style, these are the absolutely indispensable con? comitants of depth and warmth of religious feeling. It would go hard with the vast majority of mankind not only in the past, but probably in the present also, if such were the case. True enough it is?and I am prepared to withdraw anything I may ever have uttered or implied to the contrary?that, as George Eliot has somewhere said, it is quite possible to be ignorant of all the Concords and habitually to violate them, and at the same time to be in no wise lacking in the higher spiritual graces?perfect sincerity of heart and genuine devotion. 1 " The reason is because in Egypt they were all slaves alike, therefore they make all equal, and are obliged to give^the same ceremonial thanks for their redemption."</page><page sequence="21">56 early translations and translators II. When I last had the privilege of addressing this Society, I brought the subject of our inquiry down to the attempts- made by Isaac Pinto in 1766, and by Myers and Alexander in 1770, to present the two branches of the community with translations of more or less complete portions of their respective Liturgies, and I left off with an under? taking again to take up the thread of our subject, with more particular reference to the work and the life of David Levi, one of the most remarkable products of the English Jewry of the last century?a man to whom hitherto but scant justice has, I think, been done. I have, however, to-night, in the first instance, to take a step backward. For this somewhat erratic course you will see that I am not to blame, but rather that some one has to be praised?though it is not to me that praise is due. Mr. Lucien Wolf, before his presi? dential sunset, shot a kindly parting ray of light into my not too brightly illuminated field of research. He has placed in my hand an interesting volume which he received from M. Cardozo of Paris. It is a translation in MS. of the Daily and Sabbath and New Moon prayers, together with the more important parts of the festival services, and the Scripture lessons appropriate to these days, and it is dated at the end, in the handwriting of the major part of the volume, "London, 1729, 23rd August." The MS. is a stout little quarto of 716 pages, written in a very legible script, the ink but slightly faded. Two hands are clearly traceable in the mechanical part of the work. The rite is the Sephardic. The translation leaves much to be desired. Rabbinical passages, like JDlpD inr&amp;S and ITViBpn are omitted. Difficult phrases such as VHH mi^D ?^zh Dim which even Day an Haliva, as late as 1852, pleased himself by rendering "Lead us within the temperate line of strict justice," are left untouched; so is the sentence still retained in the Portuguese Liturgy, jjspy? ^ fa ^ D^SDbl pni hirh D^IWD DH^? as though the fear of a censor lay upon the translator. There are numerous mistakes in translation, as well as errors in grammatical construction. Yet it is by no means devoid of merit, and it is marked in many passages by a certain vigour of style and quaintness of</page><page sequence="22">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 57 phraseology, which make one regret the many inaccuracies that are spread over the book. Let me give you a few specimens of the translator's style:? " For ever may man be in fear of his Creator, in secret and in public, and defend the truth, and speaking the truth of his heart, and awake and say, 0 God of the worlds and Lord of Lords, it is not for our righteousness that we offer our supplications before Thee, but for Thy many tender mercy's sake. 0 Lord hear, 0 Lord pardon, 0 Lord hear and do, it is not too late for Thee my God, for Thy name was called upon Thy city, and upon Thy people. What are we ? what is our life ? and what are our deserts ? what is our righteousness ? and what is our salvation ? what is our strength ? what is our might ? what shall we say before Thee ? 0 Lord our God, and God of our Fathers, most certain the mighty ones are as nothing before Thee ; and men of fame as if they were not, and learned men as without knowledge and understanding, by reason that the multitude of our actions are vanity, and the days of our life are as nothing before Thee, and man has no advantage over the beast, for all is vanity except the soul, for it is placed to give account before the seat of Thy glory.'?Pp. 12-13. nai^n vpn " Wind the great horn for our freedom, and set up that great Standard to gather us from our Captivity, and gather even all us from the four corners of the Earth unto our Lord ; Blessed be Thou, 0 Lord, which gatherest the dispersed of Israel."?P. 64. " To the Renegado shall be no hope, and all the Heretics and informers shall be destroyed, and all our enemies and them that hate us shall be cut off, and the Kingdom of pride Thou shalt pull up by the Root and break it, and Thou wilt consume and cutt it off in our Days. Blessed be Thou, 0 Lord, which weaknest our Enemies and tamest the proud !"?P. 65. TTW-tib? W? lfm " Though our mouths were full of singing like unto the noise of the Sea, and our tongues full of musick like unto the sounds of the waves, and our lips full of praise like unto the breadth of Heaven, and our eyes full of light like unto the sun or moon, and our hands spread like as the Eagles of Heaven, and our feet as nimble as the Hart; yet were they not sufficient to praise Thee, 0 Lord our God, nor to bless Thy name, our King, for a thousand millions of mercies," &amp;c.?Pp. 220-221.</page><page sequence="23">58 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS " O God, I was thirsty for Thy Salvation, and I composed my prayer before Thee. Let the soul of Thy servant rejoice, for Thou art full of Light, Let it be unto us for salvation, Let the days of our rejoicing be as the number of days of our affliction, and the years that we have seen evill, Let the strength of the walls and the gates be put aside (sic) and Mount Sion alone Thou wilt make to rejoice, the Daughters of Judah shall be glad when Thou stretchest out Thine hand a second time," &amp;c.?Pp. 563-564. From the Hosanoth of the First Day of Tabernacles. The whole volume is tantalising in the extreme. Who was the author ? His name is not given, and there is absolutely nothing to in? dicate his personality. On the upper margin of the first page is written in red ink and in a different handwriting from the rest, "Cardozo de Bethencourt"?the signature simply of a former owner of the book. It has been suggested that the work was a translation from another, a Spanish or Portuguese version. But this theory will not hold, because the Spanish and Portuguese translations then in existence were free from gross blunders, and were far ahead in correctness and style of anything the German and Polish portion of the community produced until nearly the end of the century. In 1729, Isaac Nieto was Chacham, the scholarly son of a scholarly father, David Nieto, who died the year previously, and whom Isaac succeeded in the Babbinate. Neither father nor son would be likely to pass the book. For whom was it then intended and for what purpose ? Could it have been designed to be printed ? Here was a laborious piece of work, which would hardly have been undertaken without a specijfic purpose. The most probable conclusion that suggests itself is, that it was intended as a volume of private prayer for some pious but not very learned worshippers. Still it is all exceedingly puzzling, and suggestions throwing any light on the subject would be very welcome. The one clear result at which we can arrive is that the MS. is a proof that already in 1729 the want was being felt among English-speaking Jews of an English translation of their Liturgy, and that an effort, though not a brilliant one, was made to supply that want. The Mendelssohnian Bevival in Germany during the last quarter of the eighteenth century had no counterpart in England. The small ness of the Jewish population, their comparatively recent settlement</page><page sequence="24">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 59 in this country, the character of their pursuits, which ran almost exclusively in commercial channels, the low state of education, both secular and religious, alike within and outside the Jewish community, may help to explain the absence among them at that period of men, I will not say like Moses Mendelssohn himself?for genius is always an incalculable phenomenon in regard alike to time, place, and cir? cumstances?but of men of the type of the Meassephim generally. In England, the nearest approach to that activity in religious literature, as adapted to latter-day requirements, which was spreading from Berlin over the whole of the Continent, was made by David Levi. The story of his life and an account of the work he accomplished would form as striking an illustration as is to be found, how a deter? mined will conquers all obstacles, and how little effect adverse cir? cumstances have upon the career of a man who believes in himself. Born in London in 1740,1 the son of Mordecai Levi, a member of the German and Polish community, he was early apprenticed to a shoe? maker. For a short time he practised the shoemaking craft, but without much success. He next turned his attention to hat-making, and to within a few years of his death in 1801 gained a precarious living in this occupation. But there was within him the conviction that the whole of his efforts ought not to be absorbed by the labours, however useful and necessary in themselves, of covering either one or the other extremity of the persons of his fellow-men. Nature had designed him for a scholar in despite of circumstances. He was a diligent reader and an apt student. His talents were recognised by those about him, and a design was formed of sending the youth to Poland to study under his great-grandfather. The plan came to nothing, owing to the departure at that time of his great-grandfather for Palestine. Meanwhile his Hebrew studies were pursued with ardour; he read Talmud and Midrash to good effect; he made him? self master of the commentaries of Bashi, Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and Abarbanel, his knowledge of the last being especially remarkable, and he followed with close attention the works of the chief Christian biblical and theological writers of his time. He does not seem to have rushed too early into print. In 1783, 1 See Dictionary of National Biography.</page><page sequence="25">60 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS when he was forty-three, appeared his first printed work, entitled " A Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews, in which their Religious Principles and Tenets are Explained." Such a work was undoubtedly much needed, if only to remove the false and vicious impressions left by works like those of the apostate Gamaliel ben Pedahzur. In the "Succinct Account" the English Jews of a century ago were taught in a fairly intelligent manner what were the beliefs and observances of their religion, and it must have satisfied their wants for a considerable time, since nothing of a superior kind appeared for a good half-century. The book was, however, written with one eye on the Jewish, and the other on the general community, and, of course, contained the usual quantum of apologetics in view of the non-Israelite. Especial attention is devoted to "the doctrine of the Resurrection, Predestination, and Free-will; and the opinion of Dr. Prideaux concerning those tenets is fully investigated, duly considered, and clearly refuted." His mode of reasoning with the Gentile will probably not in all cases commend itself to logicians of the stricter order. Jews had been accused of being (1) superstitious, (2) unchari? table in their ideas about Christians. David Levi confounds those who charge Jews with superstition by the following method of argu? ment. All our ceremonies are contained in either the written or the oral Law. Now both were delivered by God to Moses to be observed by Israel for ever. Therefore, if you charge the J ews with being superstitious, you charge the Supreme with the guilt of giving them superstitious ceremonies?"And this nobody will be hardy enough to advance." As to Jews being guilty of uncharitableness towards Christians or heathens, the position is more neatly turned by pointing out that, according to the beliefs of the Jews, it is easier for the rest of mankind to be saved than for themselves, God requiring of Jews the due performance of the Law, whereas of the rest of mankind He requires no more than the fulfilment of the seven precepts given to the sons of Noah. The inference is that spiritual intolerance is not to be charged upon a people who make heaven easier of access to others than to themselves. From the appearance in 1783 of this book on the Rites, Cere? monies, and Tenets of the Jews, until his death in 1801, he was incessantly at work with the production of books on subjects of Jewish</page><page sequence="26">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 61 interest. His industry was stupendous. Between 1785 and 1787, he published in weekly instalments Lingua Sacra?a work with many valuable and some amazing features. It is composed of three parts. In the first, we have a " complete Hebrew Grammar with points, clearly explained in English, and digested in so easy a manner, that any person capable of understanding the English grammar, may, without the assistance of a master, arrive at a competent knowledge of the Hebrew language." It is a solid volume of 366 octavo pages, its usefulness marred to some extent by the argumentative tendency of the writer, who is at perpetual pains to prove other grammarians wrong. He speaks of "enriching the volume with notes, in which are shown the grammatical errors and inaccuracies of the most dis? tinguished grammarians and other writers in the Hebrew language." His views on disputed points of philology are of the primitive and ultra orthodox order. He lived, we must remember, before the birth of the modern critical and scientific spirit. He had no more doubts, for instance, about the vowel points having been a direct revelation from the Deity (Lingua Sacra, I. 33) than he had that Hebrew was the original language of the human race (Lingua Sacra, II. 4). The Dictionary, the second part of Lingua Sacra, consists practically of three substantial volumes. It professes to explain all Hebrew and Chaldaic words to be found not only in the Bible, but in the Targumim and the Talmud. In this respect, as might be imagined, it is hardly true to its promise. But it does something more than it promises : it is a biographical and bibliographical dictionary; it explains difficult and disputed passages of the Scripture, and is a magazine of all kinds of miscellaneous information on Jewish law, doctrine, &amp;c. The scientific value of the work is vitiated to a considerable degree by the author's design of "rescuing the lively oracles from the errors of real or dis? guised friends, and the attacks of open and professed enemies, whether Deists or Atheists." Both these divisions of his work show a serious lack of system, and little sense of proportion. But in both parts the erudition of the author, somewhat undigested it must be confessed, is very striking. It might fit out many an ecclesiastic of a later age than David Levi's with a good and serviceable stock of the raw material of Jewish Divinity. Nothing more pathetic can be imagined than the conditions under</page><page sequence="27">62 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS which David Levi produced his works. His motives were pure and high-minded.1 Neither diamonds nor gold were to be picked up by pioneers along the rocky road of Hebrew Literature, and lucky was it if the toiler in that unpromising region did not starve for his pains. Compelled to labour at a mechanical trade for a livelihood for himself and family, there remained, as he said, but few hours, besides those which he could borrow from his natural rest, " to compile a work which required at once a degree of study, perseverance, and patience known only to such as have been employed in the arduous task of reducing to index order the substance of many volumes." A first instalment of the work had appeared, and brought with it bitter disappointment for the author. The Jewish public did not in those days buy works of Jewish scholarship. Some thought he had undertaken more than he could complete, and did what they could to prove themselves right by withdrawing the support on which alone he could complete it. An arrangement with a friend who was a publisher enabled him to get on a little quicker with his task, but it meant sixteen hours at the desk out of every twenty-four, and scarcely the barest subsistence for his household and himself. The first volume saw the light in 1785, and then the assistance which had been rendered him so far was withdrawn, and he was obliged to return for several months to hat-making and polishing. Meanwhile, want and sickness were preying on him and on his wife. Yet he never seems to have lost heart utterly, and a ray of light broke into his life when a few benevo? lent people, who saw reason to be pleased with the first portion of his labours, consented to provide the means of carrying the work to a conclu? sion, repayment of the loan to be made out of the proceeds of the sale of the work. They advanced, in fact, altogether nearly ??400. David Levi was profoundly grateful, but it is little short of heart-rending to note the apologetic air with which he refers to the necessity of drawing on these gentlemen for the sum of 18s. a week for his support during the progress of the work. When it is considered that he was practically without literary assistance, that he was condemned to the scholar's worst hell?one which not even the imagination of a Dante was lurid enough to conceive?the task of compiling books of scholarship with 1 See "To the Public," end of Part III. Lingua Sacra.</page><page sequence="28">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 63 out other books to make them with; that he was unknown to the generality of learned men among Christians, access to whose libraries might have been of much service to him; that among Jews there were at that time few, if any, who could lend him a helping hand; that not a single soul besides himself corrected a line of the proof sheets; that the innate perversity of compositors was quite as pronounced 100 years ago as in our day; and that he was during this period also engaged in writing his reply to Dr. Priestley's letters, as well as in working at Lion Soesman's edition of the Pentateuch, and in correcting the whole edition for the press?it is little less than marvellous to find the Lingua Sacra, with all its imperfections, produced in three years (1785-87) by this mere mechanic, even though he enjoyed an income of 18s. a week during two-thirds of the time. An appetite for polemics grows by what it feeds on. Of all literary passions, it is, or it used to be, the most insatiable. David Levi had tasted blood in his first venture, had drunk a good draught of it in his second, and now opportunities came for further indulgence which were to him irresistible. In 1787 Dr. Joseph Priestley, to whom belongs the rare distinction of having been at once eminent as a scientist and redoubtable as a theologian, published a number of "Letters addressed to the Jews," inviting them to an amicable dis? cussion of the evidences of Christianity. They called forth two replies ?one by a waggish Oxonian, Solomon de A. R.,1 who, in the guise of a Jew, delivered a smart retort on the Doctor for his sophisms and contradictions. This pamphlet, however, Priestley considered too coarse to notice. Another reply was given in a series of letters by David Levi the same year. After the manner of controversialists generally, secular and religious, Dr. Priestley considered Levi's answer but a poor affair.2 Yet on second thoughts he came to the conclusion that it would be right to take the opportunity afforded by Levi's reply, poor as it was, to address the Jews once more. " It will tend to keep up their attention, and may bring forth something of more value." The Gentleman's Magazine, noticing the answers both of the fictitious and of the real Hebrew, spoke of Levi's as of a more serious cast of 1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1787, p. 820. 2 Rutt's Memoirs of Dr. Priestley, I. 410.</page><page sequence="29">64 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS reasoning than Solomon de A. R.'s, though not so acute, and shrewdly added, "Yet it seems to have weight with the Doctor, who has con? descended to give a reply." In the course of a few years it reached the dignity of a third edition; it was evidently appreciated by his contemporaries. In these letters David Levi addresses Priestley thus: "As you have invited our nation to an amicable discussion of the evidence of Christianity, I shall endeavour to answer them as far as the extent of my abilities and the little time I have open from my other vocations will permit. Most of our learned men have declined the invitation, (1) on account of aversion to entering into religious disputes for fear lest they might be construed as reflecting on and disturbing the national religion; (2) because the generality of learned foreigners are unacquainted with the English idiom." As to the first objection, Levi maintains that there are no longer any grounds for fear, thanks to the Reformation and the Revolution. Further, we live in an enlightened age, when theological discussion is accounted laudable. With regard to the second difficulty, Levi is impelled to exclaim, like little David, " Let no man's heart fail because of this Philistine; I will go and fight with him." Met with the reply, "Thou art not able against this Philistine," he will answer, "Thy servant slew both the lion (Dr. Prideaux) and the bear (Hutchinson),1 and this uncir cumcised Philistine shall be as one of them. He cometh with a spear (elegance of diction), and sword (criticism), and shield (sophistry). I am come in the name of the Lord of Hosts (i.e. simple truth)." This counter-attack of Levi's provoked a fresh reply from Priestley, and drew other warriors into the field as well?notably the Rev. Richard Beere, in an "Epistle to the Chief Priest and Elder of the Jews" (1789). Upon these Levi made a fresh assault, and further disposed of a new antagonist, Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, M.P., dealing in effective style with the latter's "Testimony to the Authenticity of the Prophecy of Richard Brothers," and the pretended mission of the latter to recall the Jews. Richard Brothers was a crazy enthusiast, who seems to have found, besides himself, at least one other person, 1 See Lingua Sacra, sub voc. H^K, where, by the way, may be read thirty-two pages under that one heading.</page><page sequence="30">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 65 and that an M.P., to believe in him as a prophet to the Jews, and who was perfectly sure that the hour was at hand for the restoration of the Jews to their own land. A few years later (1797) witnessed an even bolder attempt of David Levi. It was nothing less than a defence of the Old Testament in letters addressed to Thomas Paine, the sceptic, whose influence as a bitter foe of the Scriptures was then at its height. It was printed, curiously enough, in New York.1 "Why it had to travel all that way for publication I do not know. Tom Paine had told the Christian critics, along with some unpleasant personalities, that their answers to the Age of Reason were mere cobwebs. "It is therefore to be hoped," wrote David Levi, " that these letters, written by one that is neither a Christian priest nor a preacher, and who consequently has no interest in preaching up tithes, as he is but a poor simple Lernte, without any living in the Jewish Church, may find grace in your sight." The conclusion he arrived at was, "That Moses wrote these books by Divine inspiration is manifest from the exact accomplishment of every event foretold by him." "Of this," he says, "I shall produce such clear and unequivocal proofs as to strike the Deist and the Infidel dumb." Whether the effect was precisely of this knock-down character, evidence is not forthcoming. In his controversial writings David 'Levi seems to have had the assistance of one Henry Lemoine, a man of parts, and of some repute in his day. The connection between the two throws an interesting side-light upon the social life of Jews of the more intellectual order at that period. Lemoine, author and bookseller, was born in Spital fields, a descendant of a refugee Huguenot family. Together with other minor literati of the day, he and Levi often supped together at the house of George Lackington, who kept "The Temple of the Muses," the earliest cheap bookshop?then one of the sights of London?a tall domed structure, surmounted by a flag, the interior consisting of a number of circular galleries packed with books, which grew lower in price the higher you had to mount for them. It was situated in a locality some of us cannot help associating with the later annals of Anglo-Jewry, namely, the corner of Finsbury Square. Under 1 By William A. Davis for Naphtali Judah, bookseller. VOL. III. E</page><page sequence="31">66 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS the inspiration of old and firm friendship, this same Lemoine wrote in the Gentleman's Magazine an elegy on David Levi, after his friend's death. David Levi's industry was, as I have said, stupendous. Mention must be made of his Dissertations on the Prophecies, in two parts. Part I. : Those that are applicable to the coming of Messiah, the Restoration of the Jews, and the Resurrection, whether so applied by Jews or Christians. Part II. : Those applied to the Messiah by Christians only, but which are shown not to be applicable to the Messiah. The whole appeared in three volumes, dedicated respectively to David Henriques, of Spanish Town, Samuel Barreto de Veiga, M.D., of Kingston, and Abraham Goldsmid, of London. The book is a spirited exposition of prophecy from the point of view of an orthodox Jew, who had made himself well acquainted with Jewish and Gentile commen? taries, and presented his case with a certain dashing rhetorical effect. The dissertations appeared between the years 1793 and 1800, but they were in reality the fruit of twenty-five years of research and reflection. David Levi's apologetics, though without a philosophic and scientific basis, were quite up to, and in many respects surpassed the standard of works of that kind produced in the eighteenth century by Christian champions of the authenticity of the Bible, Even Bishop Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, much be-praised as it was in its day, evoked the not altogether unmerited criticism? u So much he wrote, and long about it, That e'en believers 'gan to doubt it." That David Levi's defence is effective enough to convince doubters of our day, I should not like to assert. But at least, this may be said of it, and it is more than can be claimed for a good many apologetic works, that by means of it believers were strengthened in their belief, while unbelievers were not hardened in their unbelief. But the most solid of the services rendered by Levi to his contem? poraries, and bequeathed to his successors, were those in connection with the translation of practically the whole of the Jewish Liturgies in use both among Sephardim and Ashkenazim. It was in the main unploughed ground, and even where others had done some rough work before him, he went over the whole again and independently, with</page><page sequence="32">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 67 an insight, a diligence, and a conscientiousness that merit far greater recognition than they have yet received. Regarded merely from its mechanical side, the task was a colossal one. Indeed, the differences between the Portuguese and the German rites in nearly all but the statutory portions of the prayers, are sufficient to justify us in con? sidering them as two distinct, almost Herculean labours. But the difficulties are gigantic in another sense, as those well know who have tried their hand at the work, by reason of the varieties and obscurities of dialect and style, the curiously cramped poetical forms employed, the tyranny of the acrostic, the wealth of cryptic allusions to the Scriptures, the Talmud and Midrash, and the enormous divergence between the ways and habits of thought peculiar to the liturgists of the Babbinical and Poetanic Schools and those of a modern European, especially of an Englishman. That he has succeeded in every instance, or that he has always been guided by the rules he himself prefixed to his edition of the Machzor, is more than can be claimed for him, or indeed for any one who has attempted to follow him. But apart from errors of style, and occasional absurdities (such as the one over which we have all laughed?the rubric at the end of the service on Kol Nidre night: "Those who sleep in synagogue say Psalms and the Hymn of the Unity"), and apart from the impossibility of unravelling the meaning of a frequently corrupt text, David Levi's translations are a monument of honest labour and of a sustained and loyal, and, on the whole, a praiseworthy endeavour to enter into the spirit of the original. There is the less necessity to quote him at any length, seeing that his translations are part of the religious outfit of almost every Anglo-Jewish family. Those who would meet him at his best should carefully peruse his rendering of the Hymn of Glory. I offer here a passage from his less known translation of the Fast-day Prayers of the Sephardim. It is one that is also read in German and Polish synagogues on the Ninth of Ab :? " Samaria raiseth her voice, saying, 6 My iniquities have overtaken me ; my children are gone from me into another country ;J and Aholibah1 crieth, * My palaces are burned,5 and Zion saith, ' The Lord hath forsaken me.'?' It is 1 " Aholibah and Aholah represent respectively Jerusalem and Samaria."</page><page sequence="33">68 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS not for thee, 0 Aholibah, to compare thine affliction to my affliction, nor to liken thy suffering to my pain and suffering : for because that I, Aholah,1 turned aside, was rebellious and stubborn, my falling off and rebellion rose up and testified against me ; so that in a short time I paid my debt; for Tiglath-Pileser destroyed my fruit, and stripped me of all my desirable orna? ments ; and afterwards to Halah and Habor was I carried captive : be silent, 0 Aholibah, thou hast not cause to weep as I weep ; I was driven far distant, 1 have suffered sufficiently; thy years were protracted, but mine were not.' Aholibah replied, ' I also rebelled, and, as Aholah, dealt treacherously by the husband of my youth : be silent, 0 Aholah, for my sorrows have visited me ; thou hast been removed once, but I have been cast out often. Lo ! I was subdued twice by the power of the Chaldeans, and the Temple which con? tained all my glory was burned : and in bitter affliction was I carried captive to Babylon ; I, however, returned to Zion, and again founded the Temple, but I had scarce been established before I was again taken by Edom, and nearly destroyed ; and now my multitude is scattered in all countries.'?0 may He who hath pity over all, pity their degraded state, consider their deso? lation and the length of their captivity.?0 be not exceeding wrath to aug? ment their poverty, and do not for ever remember their iniquity and folly : 0 heal their wound and comfort their mourning, for Thou art their strength and their hope : 0 renew their days as of old, that Zion may not say, ' The Lord hath forsaken me.'"?Pp. 212-213. By way of comparison or contrast, let me place before you a few verses from the Portuguese Machzor of Mr. A. Alexander and as? sistants, from his or their metrical translation of the Pizmon to be said before the sounding of the Shofar:? " It is even now that heaven's gates open, mercy to descend : It is the day that my hands unto the Lord I do extend. O remember unto me this chastening day and ever after, The merits of the binder binded, and the holy altar. In the latter proved by the son begotten by Sarah his wife, Tho' thy soul be ever so much attached unto his life : Arise I O sacrifice him unto me On the mountain, where glory shall come forth to thee. Unto Sarah he said, Behold, Isaac thy beloved even Is advanced in years, but not trained in the worship of heaven : I'll go teach him to worship, his God to fear. Go, she said,.but not a great distance, I pray, my dear. Depend upon the Lord, says he, that thy heart may cheer. 1 "See Ezekiel xxiii. 4."</page><page sequence="34">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 69 Of his servants inquiring, Do ye behold the great light On the Mount Moriah ? Yet they answering, To them it was night. If thus, tarry here, ye stupid, compared unto asses, And I and my son will behold that which passes. Both alike/advancing to be busied in God's desire, Says Isaac to his father, Behold the wood and the fire : But where is the lamb by God designed ? Sure thou hast not neglected such to be minded ! He prepared the wood with heroism and composure of mind, As you would a ram his son Isaac did bind ; Then was the daylight in their mirrors as night, His murmuring tears flowing with all their might, With eyes weeping, but a heart filled with delight. Acquaint my mother that her joy is fled, Her son begotten after ninety years wed Is become fire, fallen by the edge of the sword, Whither shall I seek some comfort her to afford ? Acuter than the blade to my mother will be the word. Pray, father, sharpen the blade, he implored ; Be strengthened during the time my flesh is to burn. Some remains, my ashes to my kind mother return." In fairness to Mr. Alexander it should be stated that this version is dated 1771 in print. Twenty years make a great difference in the progress of a community like ours. Besides the remarkable productions to which I have referred, David Levi translated the Pentateuch in Lion Soesman's edition, and supplied a large number of helpful notes, drawn mostly from Hebrew commentaries. Many prayers on special occasions were likewise written or translated by him, such as those during the King's ill? ness in 1788, on his recovery in 1789, at the Dedication of the Great Synagogue in 1790, and the Hebrew ode on the King's happy escape from assassination in 1795. I submit to you a short extract from his translation of the Piyut, composed by Chief Babbi David Solomon Schiff for the Dedication of the Great Synagogue. The original is of course in rhyme: " It is the hand of the Lord that hath thus given us honour and glory, grace and favour in the sight of the nations under whose shadow we dwell and are protected, as in this country, where George the Third sways the sceptre. Whose sole ambition is to pro? mote his subjects' happiness, governing them with kindness and equity;</page><page sequence="35">70 EARLY TRANSLATIONS AND TRANSLATORS and whose amiable Queen Charlotte excels the most eminent women in virtue. May they enjoy a long and happy life, with George, Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family." Then, after reference to " the right noble and virtuous lady " (Mrs. Levi of Albemarle Street) " who bestowed a princely sum to beautify the house of God," and to her father (Moses Hart, who of his own expense erected the first Syna? gogue on that site), the poem implores God's favourable attention to the worshippers, and continues, " 0 may there always be found in this house of prayer the number of ten, to repeat the blessings, Sanctifica? tion and Kadeesh, with true piety and fervour. May we restrain our mouth from idle discourse during the prayer and reading of the Law. Of this let the Presidents and Elders be careful strictly to admonish the community." With all his passion for controversy, David Levi seems to have had the tact and good sense to keep out of communal disputes. Con? sidering the work in which he was engaged, this must occasionally have been exceedingly difficult. There was a good deal of acidity in the communal system in the good old days, as we shall see when we come to treat of the period of the Alexanders, and it argued not a little for the wisdom and self-restraint of our ardent scholar that he never mingled in the congregational squabbles of his age, but devoted his energies to a scholarship which probably was the best his contem? poraries could appreciate, and kept his controversial powder and shot for disputants who hailed from outside his own community. It is sad to think how hardly fate dealt with this brave man all his life through. A very touching appeal was drawn up on behalf of David Levi by a Christian writer, probably the same Henry Lemoine to whom reference has already been made, in the European Magazine for May 1799. " As he had done," says the writer, "a service equally to the two great classes of Jews, the German and Portuguese, by trans? lating their books and prayers, it is to be hoped he will not be over? looked by them in the present decline of his health. All through life he has struggled with circumstances which were unfavourable to study and literary pursuits. These, however, he overcame, because they could be surmounted by fortitude and perseverance; but disabilities from health, at least such as he labours under, take away the powers of action. Deafness, asthma, and palsy are a combination that have</page><page sequence="36">OF THE JEWISH LITURGY IN ENGLAND. 71 reduced poor Mr. Levi to a real captivity, in which he can no longer use his harp or add to the Songs of Zion. It is the fervent hope of a Christian who has become acquainted with Mr. Levi from a regard of his useful labours, that the only Jew in this kingdom who has endea? voured by his writings to do honour to the chair of Moses will not be suffered by the Jewish nation to spend the remainder of his worn-out life without a competent provision." Within little more than a couple of years after these words appeared in print, David Levies sufferings, poverty, and struggle were relieved. The translator was himself translated, and the controversialist passed to " where beyond these voices there is peace."</page></plain_text>

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