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Jacob Kimchi and Shalom Buzaglo

Dr. Charles Duschinsky

<plain_text><page sequence="1">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. By Dr. CHARLES DUSCHINSKY. (Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, March 7, 1913.) I. The greater part of the eighteenth century was comparatively uneventful as far as the inner life of the Anglo-Jewish community was concerned. Politically, we find a number of eminent men like Samson Gideon (Abudiente), Emanuel Mendez da Costa the eminent scientist, Baron d'Aguilar, and others. Political events, too, of singular importance, such as the Bill for the Naturalisation of the Jews, 1753, happened in this period. About the inner life of the community, however, very little is recorded. The term of office of the Ashkenazi Rabbi Aaron or Uri Phcebus Hart1 was an era of stagnation. The important struggle he had had at the beginning of his career had resulted in the establishment of the Hamburger, or Hambro Synagogue, as it was afterwards termed. The differences,)between Uri Phoebus Hart and his adversaries Jochanan Holleschau and Mardochai Hamburger, and the great stir which this affair created in the Ashkenazi community of London, have already been dealt with in a masterful paper by the late Prof. David Kaufmann, printed in this Society's Transactions, vol. iii. pp. 102-125. In this paper2 Prof. Kaufmann gave a sketch of Jewish communal life in London from the beginning of the German Jewish community (about 1690) until about 1750, and made some short references to as late a date as 1772. The chief part of his narrative is based on a pamphlet3 which 1 He was born about 1670 and died in 1756. 2 Rabbi Zewi Ashkenazi and his Family in London. 3 m in the volume entitled 21 H?WI DMIKJn nm&amp;TI. SeeZedner, Catalogue of Hebrew Books in the British Museum, London, 1867, p. 325. 272</page><page sequence="2">Humphry % ?? fiin* ijil s.fsJfp'.Siii&amp;fo'i ?V/r.j// Painter ,n (Jawi i,t Tj-aj/v JACOB KIMME lubdJu(ij A/,y&lt;J by l\:leLc/jurJ^jiYork 1 louse Strand. From a rare sti/&gt;/&gt;te engraTnig lent by Mr. Israel Solomons.</page><page sequence="3">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 273 was printed in Amsterdam and also in London, 1707, and which records in detail the disputes which led to the foundation of the Hambro Synagogue. Uri Hart was appointed Rabbi in 1705 and died in 1756. The Hambro Synagogue was built in the year 5485 (1725). From that date we do not hear anything more about the Rabbi until the year 1755y when Jacob Kimchi refers to him in his pamphlet on the Shechita question. Jacob Kimchi was a descendant of the great Kimchi family, the most famous members of which were the great Hebrew scholar, linguist, and grammarian, David Kimchi, his father Joseph, and his grandfather, Isaac Kimchi. The chronology of the Kimchi family was published by Dr. P. Frankl in the Breslau Monatsschrift, 1884 (pp. 552-561). Jacob's father was Samuel, Rabbi in Constantinople, contemporary of Jehuda Rozanes, the author of the Mishneh Lammelech, one of the most important commentaries on the Code of Maimonides. Jacob Kimchi seems to have studied diligently under his father, as he became wTell versed in Talmudics, according to Azulai, who met him in London. Azulai characterises him as " a sharp and well-versed scholar,"1 a title which is generally reserved for men of exceptional attainments. How old he was wrhen he left Constantinople we cannot ascertain. It seems, however, that he was already in the prime of man? hood when he started to travel all over Europe. Like many other poor scholars of his and our times, he published a book whilst travelling, in order to earn his livelihood. The book, The Rose of Jacob,'1 which is a commentary on the Talmud, Tractates Beza and Taanith, wTas printed in Sulzbach by Zalman, son of Aaron the printer, in the year 5508 (1748). On the title-page the author tells us that he had completed a commentary on several other parts of the Talmud?Section Moed. Josef Krotoschin, Rabbi of Raschowitz, in Bohemia, and Isaac, Rabbi of Kalden and the District of Bechingen (probably Hechingen in Bavaria),3 who gave him approbations for his book (dated 18th of Cheshvan and 17th Kislev, 5508, respectively), describe him as a great Hebrew scholar. Josef Krotoschin writes, in addition, that Kimchi had 1 *pni ?pn. See D^nan nw s. v. *riDp ^idc. 3 Or Hechlingen in Westphalia. VOL. VII. S</page><page sequence="4">274 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. several works ready, but had no money to print them, and w7as thus obliged to come from Constantinople to Germany to collect funds for the purpose, and he recommended him as being worthy of help from the rich. Similarly, speaks the Rabbi of Hechingen on his behalf. In the preface Kimchi explains the method which guided him in his book. He informs us that he was chiefly anxious to find the " Peshat" (the simple meaning of the words of the Talmud and commentaries). He ends up with a poetical acrostic on his name.1 In this verse he humorously explains that the printer would not print his book for nothing, and as he had no money himself, he had to tread the bitter path of asking help from others, and now that he has got the money he can only afford to have the volume printed in very small type, for which he asks the forgiveness of his readers. After he had printed his book he appears to have travelled further, and ultimately he reached London. Mr. Israel Solomons possesses a print which represents him in Eastern costume selling slippers. The book seems to have had no great market; this would probably account for his having started business. The Jewish Encyclopedia (vii. 495), quoting from Leisure Hour, 1886, states that he used to frequent the vicinity of the Royal Exchange, and that Oseas Humphreys, attracted by his picturesque appearance, painted his portrait in 1799. I have been unable to ascertain where this portrait is to be found at present, but Mr. Solomons' print is made after it. In 1760, twelve years after the publication of his volume, The Rose of Jacob, he published a booklet under the title of Question and Response in Altona.2 The contents of this pamphlet, and the motive which led Kimchi to its publication will be the first subject to which I would direct attention. It refers to a Shechita 3 question in the London com? munity, which apparently caused disunion in both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi sections for a number of years. In 1755 the Sephardi congregation elected as Shochet, Haim Albahaly. Shortly after entering upon his duties he complained that 2 The full title of the book is: K^DIDH pN3n D")HD miBTl H^XE? roBW nnran byn r-13 *rop npr nnioD std ma &gt;mf "?"3 ddiidh tptan ?p"2^ Tpn 038^3 K31D^ p"pn DEH3 DpJP 3 HtDTl^, i.e. the slaughtering of animals for food.</page><page sequence="5">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 275 the meat used in London was mostly terefa, or unfit for use according to Jewish law. The animals, he declared, were affected by a disease of the lungs,1 through which the lungs adhere partly to the surrounding parts of the body. This statement contained a grave accusation against the other Shochetim, because, before Albahaly's appointment, very few cattle w-ere pronounced unfit for use. Not only were the Shochetim concerned in this charge, but the controversies about the same had serious effects on Haham Isaac Nieto, and on the Ashkenazi Rabbi, Hirsch L?bel (or Hart Lyon). Involved, too, in the dispute, were Israel Meshullam Zalman Emden, Rabbi of the Hambro Synagogue, and his father the famous Jacob Emden, and Emden's adversary, Jonathan Eybesch?tz, was almost drawm into it. Briefly, the affair is mentioned by Prof. Kaufmann in the paper already referred to ; also by Dr. Adler in his paper on The Chief Rabbis of England;2 by Dr. Gaster in his History of the Ancient Synagogue Berns Marks (London, 1901, pp. 133-35); and by Mr. A. M. Hyamson in his History of the Jeivs in England (London, 1908, pp. 244-45). The affair lasted from the year 5515 a.m. ( = 1755) till 5526 (= 1766), and perhaps even a year longer?that is, for nearly twrelve years. In 1760 Kimchi published his Question and Response, which contains his version of the ease, together with copies of letters w7hich he wrrote and received in connection with it. Let us hear what he himself says at the beginning of his pamphlet. Page 1. It happened in the year 5515, when Rabbi Phcebus (i.e. Uri Hart) was Rabbi of the Ashkenazim in London, and in the Sephardi congregation was Haham the learned R. Isaac Nieto, the second to him in rank being R. Isaac del Vaale, and the third Benjamin Lorenzo. (The two latter were the Dayanim and constituted with Nieto the Sephardi Beth Din or Law Court.) As will be explained later, they resolved to discharge the Shochetim who had been in office until then (1755), because they were under suspicion of declaring unfit animals as fit, and they retained as Shochet Rabbi Hayim Albahaly, and allowed " the 1 fcO^D, literally adhesion. 2 Dr. Adler's essay is contained in the volume of Papers read at the Anglo Jewish Historical Exhibition, London, 1888. The Exhibition was held in 1887.</page><page sequence="6">276 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. inflation of the lungs." " But after that date," Kirnchi continues, " misfortunes befell us. The punishing hand of God removed from our midst the Rabbi of the Ashkenazim and he died; also the pious Rabbi Isaac del Valle passed away, whose every deed had been directed to the glorification of the Almighty. When Rabbi Isaac Nieto saw that his helper (I. del Vaale), who had been unto him like a loving brother, was no more, he resigned from the Rabbinate. The leaders of the com? munity then appointed as Head of the Beth Din Rabbi Benjamin Lorenzo, as second to him, R. David de Castro, the Hazan, and as third, R. Moses Hacohen d'Azevedo. Their first decision was to reinstate as Shochetim those who had formerly been under suspicion, and to dismiss from his position the above-mentioned R. Hayim." So far Kimchi himself. I have summarised this part of his pamphlet almost verbally, because it brings us in medias res, showing the composi? tion of the Beth Din and introducing nearly all the other persons who have a part in this affair as sketched by Kimchi, their contemporary. We at once see that Rabbi Uri Hart seems to have stood high in the respect of the community at the end of his life, as Kimchi gives him the title, "The Great Rabbi,"and deplores his death as a punishment from God. Although Kimchi, like most oriental Jewish writers, is not very econo? mical in applying titles, I think we can infer from his few words about Rabbi Uri that the latter succeeded in gaining authority and reverence in the community, although at the beginning of his career he had many opponents, and was not recognised as an eminent Talmudical scholar.1 We hear further of the death of Isaac del Vaale, who had been Dayan of the Sephardi Congregation for a number of years, and we gather that he was a saintly man. Isaac Nieto, one of the most pro? minent men who took part in this controversy, is likewise introduced here, and we are given to understand that the reason for his resignation was the death of Isaac del Vaale. It is more probable, however, that Nieto found it difficult to work harmoniously with Benjamin Lorenzo, and especially with his pupil, Moses Hacohen d'Azevedo, the later Haham. Isaac Nieto, the son of the famous Haham David Nieto, was first appointed Haham in 1737,2 and gave up his post in 1741, but was 1 see m nwv?) "an nftw, p. 7. ktwidbh ?mm yv vto). 2 M. Gaster, op. cit., p. 129.</page><page sequence="7">( "II ^ ^^^^^^^ /'/'/ ^. ,.^-&lt;&gt;--~ The Rev?M?Bavid it*:-Cr asto, ? eitrraviHf lent by Mr. Israel Solomons._</page><page sequence="8">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 277 reappointed in 1751, after a lapse of ten years. Kimchi's report seems to indicate that he was Haham, and not, as Dr. Gaster (p. 131) says, Ab Beth Din only, as Kimchi gives him the same title as he applies to the Ashkenazi Rabbi. Isaac Nieto resigned in 1757, but remained in London, and seems to have had great influence in the community, although he held no office. Nieto endeavoured to dissuade the new Beth Din?Lorenzo, da Castro, and d'Azevedo?from reinstating the deposed officials, but his protest was ineffectual. He then personally approached the Parnassim, or lay heads, and they asked him to write them an English letter setting forth his reasons and objections. Kimchi prints a Hebrew translation of this letter.1 In it Nieto sets forth how he had proposed to the Beth Din that investigation should be made into Albahaly's statements. His own observations, and those of the Hazan Benjamin Lorenzo, confirmed Albahaly's opinion. When the Ashkenazi Rabbi (Uri Phoebus) heard this, he likewise prohibited the Shechita of the Sephardic Shochetim. As a lung with the defect referred to cannot be properly examined without being filled with air, he (Nieto) allowed the inflation of the lungs,2 although this had not been done previously, for only quite faultless cattle had been used by the Sephardim heretofore. Nieto, however, permitted this method of examination, because, he said, it would be very hard on the poor if they were compelled to use mutton exclusively, as the price of beef was only 2d. or 3d. per lb., while mutton cost Ad. and 5d. per lb. ; besides 2 lb. of beef would go further than 3 lb. of mutton. Had he not allowed this examination of the lungs people would have bought terefa meat, for, he says, " this is a free country and nobody could forbid them." The new Beth Din agreed to the investigation, but conducted it under conditions so unsatisfactory to Nieto that he felt convinced Albahaly was right, and reported in that sense to the Mahamad, as the Council of the Sephardi congregation is styled. The Mahamad, however, took the contrary view, with the result that parties were formed for and against Albahaly. The Mahamad then asked Nieto to give his reasons for declaring Luria and Miranda as untrustworthy. Nieto answered that although the Beth Din was bound 1 n"B&gt;, pp. 2-5. 2 nrv?a.</page><page sequence="9">278 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. to give an explanation for their ruling?it being a decision of pupils against their master?for the sake of peace, and to clear the situation, and also for the good of the community, he consents to formulate his reasons in the Responsum, which then follows (page 5). In his Responsum he reiterates the reasons set forth in his letter, and strengthens his decision by citing Solomon ben Aderet (Resp. Aderet., No. 782), where the case is clearly given. A Shochet is trust? worthy in matters of Shechita, as a single witness,1 only so long as there is no shade of suspicion against him ; wThen, and as soon as, such suspicion arises, he becomes at once an unfit person for that office, and meat killed by him is terefa. Nieto further justifies in the Response his opinion as to the lawfulness of examining the lungs by inflation. On receipt of this letter and Responsum the Mahamad convened a meeting of the Elders, and resolved to have a strong letter written to Nieto, prohibiting him from that day onwards from assailing the actions and resolutions of the Mahamad, whatever they might be; that the Beth Din had the right to do what they pleased; and they formulated a regulation that no Jewish scholar should speak against the Beth Din, and that anyone who infringed this rule should be fined five pounds. When Kimchi saw that Nieto had failed, he felt it his duty to step forward. "I (Kimchi) am not one of the Yehidim/'2 he says, "the Mahamad cannot impose a fine upon me. I therefore take it upon myself to plead the cause of justice to the Jewish law." As at that time they had just elected a new Rabbi for the Ashkenazi congregation, at the beginning of 5517 (1757), and as he thought two are better than one, he would wait till the new Rabbi (Hirsch L?bel or Hart Lyon) was installed. " As soon as he arrived I put the matter before him, and he asked me to lay the whole case before him in writing. He promised that if he saw that we were right he would join us, would put his decision in writing, and should there be any doubt between us and him, he would ask other authorities, and thus would try to restore peace in the community." Kimchi then wrote him a letter (pp. 8-15) stating the whole case as we have already heard it in Nieto's letter to the Mahamad. The proofs 1 im iv. 2 The ordinary member of the Sephardic congregation is still known as a TIT</page><page sequence="10">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 279 of his accuracy on the point of religious law he adduces in a very lengthy and complicated argument, whereby he connects this question with a great number of other Talmudical and Rabbinical laws. The important decisions and opinions about " average," " supposition," laws of " borrower and creditor," the a lawr of the majority," 1 (fee, are ventilated from all sides with quotations from the Talmud and its commentators, from Maimonides' Code and its commentaries, and from various Responsa. This letter Kimchi handed over to the Ashkenazi Rabbi, Hirsch L?bel. The latter, also called Hart Lyon, wras a son of Rabbi Aryeh, Rabbi of Resha and afterwards of Glogau and of Amsterdam, who was a son-in-law of the Haham Zewi Ashkenazi. Hirsch L?bel was born in 1721, and was elected a Rabbi of the Ashkenazi congregation in 1757. He wras therefore thirty-six years of age when he came to London (see Azulai s.v. Heschl, part 1, and s.v. Saul). His brother Saul2 was suc? cessor of his father as Ashkenazi Rabbi in Amsterdam, and in his book, Binjan Ariel, appears a Hebrew poem by Rabbi Hirsch L?bel. He was called Hirsch (Zewd) after his grandfather, the Haham Zewi, and L?bel after his father. He was in office in London until 1764, when he was elected Rabbi of Halberstadt, and in 1773 he accepted a call from the Berlin community, and wTas known afterwards as the " Berliner Rav." He died in 1800 at the age of seventy-nine. His son was the late Rabbi of Duke Place Synagogue, Solomon Herschel.3 Kimchi tells us (p. 16) that he gave his letter to Rabbi Hirsch L?bel and waited for a reply. The Rabbi, however, informed him that his Parnassim had forbidden him to answer. Mr. A. Hyamson says in his History of the Jeics in England (p. 245): " Jacob Kimchi declared that all the Shochetim under the control of Rabbi L?bel were unfit to hold their offices. The Rabbi desired to defend his subordinates, but his wardens refused him the necessary permission to do so, and it wras probably in consequence of this action that Rabbi Hirsch L?bel, other? wise known as Hart Lyon, resigned his office in 1764 and retired to the Continent." From the foregoing it is obvious that Mr. Hyamson's statement needs amendment. Kimchi did not accuse the Ashkenazi i Know, npm, rv6) mta an 3 Dembitzer, ??31? n^3, Cracow, 1888, p. 134.</page><page sequence="11">280 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. Shochetim, but those of the Sephardim. He never spoke or wrote any? thing against Rabbi Hirsch L?bel, but on the contrary asked him for support in the accusation originally initiated by Isaac Nieto. Mr. Hyamson also states that Hirsch L?bel was appointed in 1757, and that his father, Rabbi Aryeh Lob, was at that time Rabbi of Resha. Rabbi Aryeh L?b left Resha before 1739, to follow a call to Gross Glogau, as in the winter of that year he signed an approbation on the book Beth Samuel, a commentary on the Pentateuch, wThich was printed in Solkiew in the same year (1739). His signature to this approbation is "Aryeh L?b, Rabbi of Gross Glogau, and Rabbi elect of Lemberg." 1 He had already been Rabbi of Amsterdam for seventeen years, since 1740, when his son was elected as Rabbi of the Ashkenazi congregation in London. It is interesting to note that R. Aryeh L?b exchanged the Rabbinate of Lemberg for that of Amsterdam, while his father in-law, R. Zewi Ashkenazi, known as Haham Zewi, preferred Lemberg to that of Amsterdam, as he was first Rabbi in Amsterdam and then went to Lemberg. Haham Zewi had also had occasion to be of influence in the London community. It was his testimony which vindicated Haham David Nieto against the accusation of Spinozism. Later he even came to London (1710) and was offered the post of Rabbi of the Sephardi community, which he refused (see Kaufmann, loc. cit., p. 108 ff.). It appears that Rabbi Hirsch L?bel was not satisfied with Kimchi's arguments, as he did not forbid the Shechita of the accused Shochetim. In order to avoid entering into a controversy with Kimchi, his Parnassim, as already stated, did not allow him to put his reasons in wTriting. Kimchi is very indignant about this in his second letter to the Rabbi (n"K&gt; P- 16)- He argues that it would have been his duty as a great scholar to teach Kimchi and explain his reasons. His argument is again based on the Talmud (Babli. B. Mez., p. 7), Rashi, Maimonides (Mamrim, c. 1) Resp. Aderet (No. 556). He cites a Responsum of R. 1 Warn nin^ p"ph bwvoi Tim Kaif&gt;a p"p3 nain n^&gt; nnx nwa. See also Dembitzer, p. 132, and Buber, DET *EWK, pp. 38, 39. I did not see Buber's book until after I had written this paper. Buber mentions an approbation by R. Aryeh L?b for the D"E^ Frankfort-Berlin (1715-39) in similar terms, dated already Y"?n = 1734. R. Aryeh L?b seems to have had a call to Lemberg in or before 1734, to which he did not respond until 1739, but seems to have gone back to Glogau, which he leaves the 24th Tammuz, 1740, for Amsterdam.</page><page sequence="12">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 281 Simon b. Zemach Duran,1 wherein this celebrity decided that one ought not to accept the decision of a Beth Din tvhere the Assessors are afraid of the Parnassim and leaders of the community. The more does this apply to the Rabbi, who is even afraid to put his opinion in writing, and confesses himself that he does it by order of the Parnassim. This letter he signs in the week when the Sidra Noah is read (beginning of Cheshvan) in the year 5517 (towards the end of 1756). R. Hirsch Lobel ignored the second letter as he had the first. Then Kimchi addressed himself to the Sephardi Dayan or Hazan, a member of the Beth Din, Isaac Belisario, who in answer expressed the opinion that it was the Rabbi's duty to answer Kimchi's questions. Kimchi had sent to Belisario?on whom see Gaster. op. cit. p. 150?the first responsum which he had previously sent to R. Hirsch L?bel (n"&amp;* p. 8-16), and received a reply in Spanish. We have now Kimchi's reply to Belisario (on p. 18). It is marked No. 3. In this letter Kimchi first reproaches Belisario for writing in Spanish, a language which Kimchi did not understand. He had, however, seen a further letter from Belisario on the matter, written to a certain Jacob Mesgoro, and this induces Kimchi to reply. Kimchi then copies Belisario's letter, and we see that the latter did not agree with Kimchi, but thought that the Shochetim were not under suspicion.2 The rest of Belisario's letter consists of a refutation of all the points raised by Kimchi? Belisario seems to have been a thorough Hebrew scholar. He is familiar with all the laws and Talmudical passages relating to the question. Two years elapsed, writes Kimchi, and things went on as before; the same Shochetim were still in office, and thus people were.eating meat which is forbidden. " I find," he says, " that I cannot get any help from within, namely, the London Community, so I will appeal to those well versed in the questions of the law, the Rabbis and Geonim in other lands, and they shall show the Children of Israel the right path wherein they shall walk." As a friend of his was going to Hamburg, he placed the whole of the case and the Responsa and letters written by him and others before the famous Rabbi Jonathan Eybesch?tz, and said that he 1 See P)DV JV3, to Tur., D"n, ? 14, ed. Vienna, p. 11a. 2 n^k nn^y d?&gt; pa rro-von D^prow mna nra p?B&gt; pr hy&amp; r\2? Kin wm dhj/i Kin n^n^ .wr6 n^n pa pi^nn wn nt o wn .(n"E&gt;, p. 19, bottom) .k"13d</page><page sequence="13">282 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. would abide by his decision. The whole pamphlet was therefore written for this purpose. It is dated 5520 (1760). It is well known that Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschiitz was at the time Rabbi of the threefold congregation ? of l"ntf (Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck), and that he had been engaged in a heated dispute wdth Rabbi Jacob Emden Ashkenazi, son of Haham Zewi Ashkenazi, who accused him of being a secret follower of the Sabbatai Zewi, the famous claimant of Messianic dignity. The controversy was one of great importance in the wdiole of Jewry throughout the world, as in it were involved not only the Rabbis of Germany and Holland, but also those of Russia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Turkey. Eybeschiitz was already an old man wThen this pamphlet reached him, he died in 1764, four years later, at the age of seventy-four. He does not seem to have taken much notice of the whole matter, as it is not mentioned in any of his books, nor is any Responsum of his known relating to the question. The fact, howrever, that Kimchi addressed himself to Eybe? schiitz was sufficient to make Emden take the other side. Emden w7as a man of strong determination and a vigorous controversialist. Even his nephew, the already mentioned Rabbi Hirsch L?bel, Rabbi of London and later of Berlin, reproaches him for his self-will.1 Emden's son, Israel Meshullam Zalman, Rabbi of the Hambro Synagogue, writes to him on the 8th day of Elul, 5526 (1766), i.e. six years after the publica? tion of Kimchi's pamphlet.2 He states that for years past many people did not eat from the Shechita of the Sephardi Shochetim on account of the accusation already explained.3 The Sephardim at last addressed themselves to him for a decision in the matter, and he found indeed that the cattle were subject to the sircha disease. He thereupon appointed two new Shochetim and allowed them to try and release the adhesion by 1 In Emden's commentary, on Pirke Aboth, edited with notes by Hirsch L?bel, Berlin, 1834, Hirsch L?bel says (p. 34) of his uncle, Jacob Emden: b'wi lnwpai ispn htod 5&gt;di rw^n numon nf&gt;n:i wt nun dn ?oiks jn^nn iti?b^ pDNnni&gt; ?d ?&gt;"o *jni nn am dj&amp;q "?pDisn 2 HPW, ii. No. 145. 3 He mentions that E. Isaac Nieto and H"6JH "nni, which probably means Rabbi Shalom Buzaglo (about whom we shall hear further) were among those who did not eat from the Sephardi Shechita.</page><page sequence="14">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 283 lifting it up with the finger, but not by the inflation of the lungs, and now he asks Emden wrhether he approves of it. In Emden's answer, he approves of his son's decision, but points out to him that there is no harm in inflating the dungs?in fact it is imperative to examine the lungs in that way if a sircha wras torn off. It is difficult to understand howr the whole controversy about this went on, as the law in this respect is quite clear. Jacob Emden, however, does not reproach his son for this mistake, but his whole wrath turns against Kimchi, whom he calls an unreliable talker, whose whole Responsa in the matter are ridiculous.1 In the Responsum, vol. ii. 145, Emden says he will not go further into the matter unless the two parties address a question to him and undertake to abide by his decision. Whether such a question was put to him is not to be ascertained. In the following Responsum (No. 146) he does not refer to it, and does not give the date on which he wrote it, but takes every word of the pamphlet and replies to it in such a lengthy way that this Responsum fills nearly five folio pages, and is therefore nearly as long as Kimchi's whole pamphlet. He makes light of Kimchi's argu? ments from beginning to end. One answer is especially notable. Kimchi, he says, w^ants to stamp all the cattle in England as being terefa, because most of them are affected wdth sircha. Probably, says Emden, the animals have this slight defect on account of their being fat, and such sirchoth wThich are only caused by the fatness of the animal, are not terefa at all. He charges Kimchi with giving decisions in matters which he does not understand, and w7hich he has no right to give. Emden goes so far as to say that Solomon ben Aderet, one of the greatest commentators of the thirteenth century, had given a decision against tradition.2 Only those who are familiar with the spirit of the Rabbis in the last centuries, and who know in what reverence and authority the opinion of Aderet was, and is, held by every Rabbinical student and scholar, can realise what audacity was necessary on Emden's 1 kd^h i^iq ?Dit^sn dddddh iniN by *nn rwD ddids^d TnDjn ni&gt;W) ,i&gt;fo Kin 12 )$hi ^ nan? rnin-vi&amp;a onna jnsnb nvn ?. ed. Lemberg, p. 45a). 2 -mdik Kin n^3pn xb p^o k^m inta nn^ k"atnn p-&gt; ^se . . . "lai.iiiD i\xi inns nn?nn "W itnx d^ntnp d^ixj f&gt;y pinna (iftiW.) .nioi^an imaoi inino *6k p ?"nan ana n^at&gt;n</page><page sequence="15">284 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BTJZAGLO. part to write this. " How can Kimehi know what is inside an animal before it is opened?" Emden continues, " why, then, does he suggest that the majority are terefa ? " In this manner he speaks from beginning to end, and the whole Responsum reveals an unfavourable aspect of Emden's character. This decision is very important for the illustration of Emden's disposition, and I wonder whether Graetz did not overlook it when he glorified him at the expense of Eybeschiitz. More important than the whole Shechita affair and Kimchi's Responsa are these letters of Emden, as they throw light upon a personality who played a great part in the history of the Jews in general, and who is even nowadays regarded as one of the greatest Talmudical authorities of his time. II. A similar incident still less knowrn (neither Dr. Gaster nor Mr. Hyamson mentions it) is the one I shall next deal with. Jacob Emden's son, Israel Meshullam Zalman, was, as we have heard, Rabbi of the Hambro Synagogue in London. There lived in London at the time of the Shechita dispute (1766) a scholar named Shalom Buzaglo. He was born in Morocco, and seems to have been Dayan there or in Amsterdam, and later we find him in London. He had published in 1769 in Amsterdam a Cabbalistic work,1 to which he received approbations from the Chief Rabbi Saul of Amsterdam, grandson of the Chacham Zewi Ashkenazi, and therefore cousin of Rabbi Israel Meshullam Zalman, who likewise gave Buzaglo an approbation for this work. His testimonial is the more interesting, because of the terms in which he signs himself,2 " who at present dwells among the chosen people of God, the Hamburger Congregation, and is Rabbi elect of London and the Provinces." Already Wagenaar, in his Biography of Jacob Emden and Dembitzer3 (loc. eit.} p. 94), felt the difficulty of explaining this signature. We know that Rabbi David Tevele Schiff was elected Rabbi of Duke's Place Synagogue in 1 -|tan ?DD 'D 2 roH?n tnnb p"pn ?wtqokpi p"pn n^d dj? wok fn ruinn The phrase D"?ft1 is an abbreviation of HDHB 1JTT)??1?" his net is drawn "5 it implies that he has been appointed to another congregation. 3 fair nn^n.</page><page sequence="16">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 285 1765, and the general opinion (see Jewish Chronicle, February 21, 1913) is that he was the first Chief Rabbi of the whole of England. Dembitzer suggests that the signature, Rabbi elect of London and the Provinces may have been a standing signature of Meshullam Zalman Ashkenazi, and means that people from the wdiole towTn and country addressed them? selves to him with questions ; and thus he said that " his net was drawn over London and England.7' This opinion, however, is hardly justifiable. Not only is no other similar signature of Emden knowm, but it is indisputable that the expression, his net is spread, is exclusively used by a Rabbi when elected from one position to another before he takes up the new one. I think the explanation is as follows. There was no Chief Rabbi of London and the United Kingdom at the time. This title only came into existence under the late Dr. N. M. Adler. There were the Rabbis of the Duke's Place and the Hambro Synagogues, and later also the Rabbi of the New Synagogue. They wrere independent of one another, and the Rabbi of Duke's Place, being the head of the more important congregation, signed himself Rabbi of London,1 or Rabbi of the Great Synagogue, while the others signed as Rabbi of the Hambro Synagogue, and so forth. Possibly they formed with a Dayan, or any other third scholar, a Beth Din, and Meshullam Zalman Emden was elected head of that Beth Din, and signed the approbation before actually taking up that position.2 A proof for my explanation will, I think, appear in the incident I am about to relate. Shalom Buzaglo had enjoyed repute as a famous 1 R. Solomon Herschel signed himself mHDm DnJDPK p"p HB Ptiin in the " Caution" issued by him against Prof. Marks' Form of Prayers, etc,, on the 24th October 1841, and in his approbation to S. J. Cohen's Elements of Faith, London, 1815; but from the Laws of the Great Synagogue, printed in 1827, it is obvious that he was not elected as Chief Rabbi of England. Nothing is mentioned of his duties or rights in connection with any other congregation; even the elec? tion of the Rabbi is under the same rules as that of the Chazan, Beadle, and Collector (see Law, 218, p. 55). 2 Kaufmann, loc. cit., p. 121, suggests that Emden had had a call to the Duke's Place Synagogue before R. David T. Schiff, but that this invitation was immedi? ately withdrawn. We have no records anywhere that he was actually elected nor of the withdrawal, and, besides, Emden's signature on that approbation is dated 1769, while Schiff was already Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in 1765, so that it could hardly refer to that suggested election four years previously, and my explanation seems to me the more acceptable.</page><page sequence="17">286 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. Cabbalist, and probably, while in Amsterdam, took part in the dispute about vaccination (see Schechter, Studies in Judaism, i. p. 377), and in the accusation about the famous amulets of Jonathan Eybesch?tz he also gave his opinion (TON nS?&gt;, p. 60, and Graetz Gesch., vol. x. p. 404). He edited several works on Cabbalistic subjects.1 On Wednesday the 15 th day of Si van of the year 5534 (1774) Buzaglo writes a pamphlet,2 wdiich w7as shortly afterwards published.3 The contents are as follows : On the day mentioned the Parnassim of the Ashkenazi Synagogue, accompanied by the woman Rebekah, daughter of Jehuda, with her Get (letter of divorce), together with the authority to hand it over to her,4 came to Buzaglo and asked his decision as to the validity of the document. He, not being in office, declined to answer; but on their third visit they explained that their own Haham had sent them to refer the case to him. Six years previously (1768) a messenger named Saul ben Jehuda had brought the letter of divorce and authorisation from Amsterdam. The matter was referred to Rabbi Israel Meshullam Zalman (who is styled by Buzaglo as the Haham of the Ashkenazim); but the Rabbi declined to per? form the ceremony of delivering the Get. The beadle (shamask) of the con? gregation, "an old and venerable man named R. Channoch," now verified the woman's statement. As the Rabbi was not to be persuaded, the messenger, who began to feel unw7ell and feeble, brought three Polish Jews to her house. They read the Get from beginning to end, and the messenger said all which it is prescribed to say in such a case accord? ing to Jewish law, and in the manner he had been instructed by Rabbi Saul, Rabbi of Amsterdam.5 The messenger then went back and 1 They include the Zohar (Amst., 1772), which he prepared when still in Morocco (see preface), the already mentioned i?V NDD, the min "1SD (Amst., 1766, and London, 1772), and EHpD 'D, edited by Haham David b. R. Meldola (Amst., 1750). 2 m pnp*o rrn ia rrne&gt; rw?. 3 So far as I know the only extant copies of each of the three pamphlets are those contained in the British Museum (Cat. Zedner, p. 168). A reprint of these with my introduction and notes will appear in the January 1914 issue of the Hebrew Quarterly p3n plKD riDIVH), which is edited by Prof. L. Blau in Budapest. 4 nKtnn. 5 rrn?&gt; n^yo, p. 2.</page><page sequence="18">JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 287 shortly afterwards died. The woman Rebekah brought two witnesses to corroborate this evidence, and said that she, and the father of her two children, now desired to marry according to the law of Moses and Israel; but the Rabbi declined to marry them, giving no reason for his refusal. Before continuing Buzaglo's narrative, it may be recalled that Rabbi David Tevele Schiff was elected in 1765. The Get in question was brought by the messenger in the year 1768. Had Schiff really been Chief Rabbi of London and Great Britain the Get surely would have been brought to him. The head of the Ashkenazi community seems to have been Emden, and therefore the Get was brought to him. He seems to have been the head of the Beth Din, and to have performed exclusively all the ceremonies which only a Beth Din can perform, like Get and Chalitzah ; otherwise surely the woman w7ould have gone to Rabbi David T. Schiff. Buzaglo gave his decision to the Parnassim of the Ashkenazim after three days' careful consideration, and declared the Get valid and the children as legitimate, according to Jewish law. The Parnassim then told him that Rabbi Meshullam Zalman Emden had told them that he regarded the Get as invalid, and as the woman was still the w7ife of her first husband, the children therefore were illegitimate. Buzaglo asked to hear his reasons, and Emden came to his house on the follow? ing day. Buzaglo explained to him his grounds for the validity of the Get, quoting passages from the codes and commentaries. Emden agreed with him, and said that the children were legitimate, but that he pre? ferred to apply the stricter opinion of Moses Isserlein. When Buzaglo told him that even Isserlein decides that the woman need not bring witnesses for the delivery of the letter of divorce,1 he became silent, and started speaking about something else. Emden, says Buzaglo, had agreed in presence of all his household that the children were legitimate; but Emden withdrew w7hat he had said, and had an announcement read on the following Sabbath in the Synagogue declaring the Gel not valid. Buzaglo then wTrites a letter to Emden asking for an explanation of his decision. He repeats practically the whole case, and ends up that he expects an answer, and suggests putting the case before other Rabbis. Twelve days elapsed and he received no reply. Buzaglo thereupon 1 ITH? ch. cxli. ? 13.</page><page sequence="19">288 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. wrote his decision and the reasons, so that the public might judge for themselves, and signed it in the week of Sidra Hpn (beginning of Tammuz) of the year 5534 (1774). The last leaf of the pamphlet contains a declaration that the two Rabbis of the Sephardim and Ashkenazim (Moses d' Azevedo and David T. Schiff) had publicly declared that Buzaglo was right. This declaration was written on the 28th day of Tammuz. This last page is half printed in Hebrew7 and half in Yiddish, and ends up wdth a Yiddish note as folknvs: " The public may be content with this assurance until after Sabbath IDnJ (the Sabbath followdng the ninth of Ab), when there will follow a further publication, w?hich wTill be a satisfaction1 to all wTho love justice." He seems to have written another pamphlet in Ab soon after the fast, but this is lost. I cannot trace any copy of it. It is not in the British Museum, which possesses the other pamphlets. The next pamphlet is dated the 8th day of Elul, about a month later, and entitled A Reproach to the Backsliders, and, a Reivard to the Penitents.2' In this pamphlet, which consists of four leaves, of wThich three are printed on one page only, and the fourth on both sides, Buzaglo writes that on Monday the 8th day of Elul, 5534, there came to his house the worthy Phoebus Levy, and told him he wTas a messenger from Rabbi Zalman Emden, and had brought writh him a letter from the Rabbi of Prague (R. Ezekiel Landau), dated the 7th Ab, 5534. Buzaglo said, after reading it, that he washes to see also the letters which came from the Rabbis of Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and a copy of the question which Emden put to these Rabbis, because it seems to him that he had not put the case before them adequately. When he has seen these, he will willingly admit that he was wrong?if he really vjas wrong. He had, however, strong doubts as to whether the Rabbi (Emden) had presented the matter accurately to the Continental Rabbis. Then follows a letter which Buzaglo gave to the messenger Levy for Emden. Therein he uses strong language, and accuses the last named of ignorance. At the bottom of page 2 follows a declaration from Haham Moseh Acoen di Azevedo that Rabbi Tevele Schiff had showm him a Responsum by himself given to Buzaglo, and that it is wTord for word a copy of the Responsum which wTas printed by Buzaglo in the pamphlet, A Reproach 1 |n*0?pKBD&gt;DKT. 2 The Title is, ns2&amp;b ropm 0^31^ nnnin. For see Jer. xxxi. 22.</page><page sequence="20">JACOB. KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. 289 to the Backsliders and a Reward to the Penitents. The letter is dated 2nd of EluL Whether this letter refers to Buzaglo's Responsum which he printed in this pamphlet, or whether David Tevele Schiff wrote him a Responsum wThich he promised to print in this pamphlet, and did not, is not to be ascertained. It may have been printed in the lost pamphlet. The few lines of Haham d'Azevedo are very carefully worded, and he does not commit himself to an opinion one way or the other. Buzaglo seems to have had some influence in the community, as in spite of the abuses which he showered upon the Rabbi Emden, the latter replies to him and asks him in humble words to guard Israel from strife and not to listen to outside influences, calculated to bring about disunion between scholars, and he asks Buzaglo to state his opinion clearly, as he was quite willing to listen to argument, so that there should not be two different laws in Israel. Emden signs himself as his "true friend." Buzaglo thereupon writes his last letter in answer to Emden's, and declines to accept Emden's proposal as seriously meant. Buzalgo says that Emden's congregation were not satisfied with him, and would have liked to send him away ; that only a few of the members were his friends, who were attracted by the smoothness of his tongue. Wxe may infer from the last remark that Emden must have been a good preacher. Nothing more is mentioned about this affair in the contemporary Responsa, or as far as I know otherwise, nor have I been able to ascer? tain when and where Israel Meshullam Zalman Emden and Buzaglo died. We must assume that Buzaglo exaggerated the faults of Emden in his zeal to plead the cause of the woman, to whom, he thought, an injustice had been done. The dispute had become a bitter one, and wre have to be careful wrhat to believe of Buzaglo's reports about his antagonist. Some of the qualities attributed by him to Emden may have been true; for instance, that he was proud of his learning, and that he was not of a peaceful nature and swTeet temper, as it is pos? sible that he was like his father, Jacob Emden, in this respect. With careful reservation, we are able to conceive the part this grandson of the Chacham Zewi played in the Jewish life of London, and we have to thank Jacob Kimchi and Shalom Buzaglo for having giving us a glimpse into these bygone times. Long-forgotten incidents like these, apparently of little importance, unfold great aspects of history. It is from small VOL. VII. T</page><page sequence="21">290 JACOB KIMCHI AND SHALOM BUZAGLO. issues that great events follow. It is such records that provide the historian with some of his most useful material. In themselves perhaps of only local import, they nevertheless throw an intimate light on the communal life. They reveal at once an anxiety to keep in true line with the older Jewish tradition, and a desire to apply that tradition vitally. Although no special glory is attached to either of these disputes and incidents, I thought that the men involved in them deserve that their names should not be overlooked by those engaged in writing Anglo-Jewish history.</page></plain_text>