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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