Isaac Leeser.

Discourses, argumentative and devotional, the subject of the Jewish religion. delivered chiefly at the synagogue Mikveh Israel, in Philadelphia, in the years 5598-5601 online

. (page 26 of 26)
Online LibraryIsaac LeeserDiscourses, argumentative and devotional, the subject of the Jewish religion. delivered chiefly at the synagogue Mikveh Israel, in Philadelphia, in the years 5598-5601 → online text (page 26 of 26)
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Montefiore, in coming forward not only as the champions of
the oppressed, but also as the defenders of the Jewish nation ;
and this meeting expresses the hope that the God of Israel will
shield and protect them, and restore them to their families in
the enjoyment of unimpaired health.

Resolved, That, in conjunction with our brethren in other
cities, a letter be addressed to the President of the United
States, respectfully requesting him to instruct the representative
of the United Stales at Constantinople, and the United States'
Consul in the dominions of the Pacha of Egypt, to co-operate
with the Ambassadors and Consuls of other powers to procure


for our accused brethren at Damascus and elsewhere an impar-
tial trial ; and to urge upon the Emperor of Turkey and the
Pacha of Egypt to prohibit the use of torture in their judicial
proceedings ; and farther, that he be requested to instruct the
representatives of this country to urge the governments to
which they are accredited, to exert their influence for the same

* The Resolutions were the joint production of different persons, and so
appear in the pamphlet containing the transactions of the meeting. Several
other resolutions adopted are omitted here as containing nothing of a per-
manent character.

It is to be remarked, that the first report of the wealth of the Israelites at
Damascus is said to have been much exaggerated, and they are, as we have
been informed since the meeting, poor in every respect, with few exceptions
only; but it would also seem that these very persons were selected as the
objects of persecution, together with a few who held a high station for learn-
ing and influence. It is also reported that four actually expired under the
tortures which they had to suffer.






HELD ON SUNDAY, ADAR 15th, 5599 MARCH 3d, 1839,

O OUR God ! and the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob thy servants, whose words are true, and whose faith-
fulness is never-failing, Thou hast spoken through the mouth
of the messenger " faithful in all thy house :" " In all places
where I shall permit my name to be mentioned, I will come
unto thee and I will bless thee." Do Thou now according to
thy promise, and let thy glory be here present among us, un-
seen by our eyes, but inwardly felt in our spirit. Dwell in our
heart, and purify it unto thy service ; remove from it deceit,
cunning and duplicity, so that we may not be led to falter in
our duty and love to Thee ; but fortify us, strengthen us, that
we may be elevated above the desires of the sinful flesh des-
pising worldly gain which would counsel us to transgress thy
holy will rejecting the desires of the heart of stone which
would seek to place its own pursuits above the commandments
of thy life-bringing law. And O our Father ! teach us to feel
our nothingness, for a shadow are our days on earth ; enable
us by thy grace to look upon this life as a pilgrimage to thy
blissful dwelling ; in order that when blessed with worldly
goods we may look upon them as means for our happiness, not
as our destined happiness ; means given by thy favour only,
to be taken back when in thy wisdom Thou deemedst us no


longer worthy of enjoying them. Teach us to regard such
wealth as belonging entirely to Thee, so that we may conquer
our unholy desire for worldly possessions to devote a part of
our substance to thy service, " inasmuch as from Thee is all,
and we give only unto Thee what thy bounty has bestowed
on us." But also if Thou hast decreed that we should labour in
vain, if Thou hast withholden thy blessing from the work of
our hands : inspire us with fortitude to be resigned to thy will,
and guard us from a rebellious spirit which would fain mislead
us from the path marked out for us by thy wisdom. And
also if bodily suffering is apportioned to us, let thy goodness
be our shield ; that even whilst the body is tortured by pain, and
our soul taking hence her upward flight, we may unceasingly
sing thy praise. And wherever we are, whithersoever thy pro-
vidence may lead us, be Thou our Portion and Protector ;
guard us by the refuge of thy wings from the terrors of the
night, from the arrow that flieth by day, from the pestilence
that stalketh in the darkness, and the destruction that wasteth
at the noon of day. Let thy care be at all times over us as a
shield and a buckler, so that securely we may pass our allotted
time on earth.

Display farther thy goodness unto us, and cause that thy
name may be sanctified out of the mouth of these children who
have been drawn hither to imbibe instruction of thy will, by ihe
aid of the daughters of thy servants who have devoted them-
selves to the goodly work. Bless the scholars with an under-
standing heart and a willing spirit ; that they, understanding the
truth, may learn to preserve it ever sacred in their hearts, and
as willing servants to be always ready to teach unto others the
truth that in them dwelleth, and to inculcate by precept and a
uniform virtuous holy life to those who may come after them
the sacred truths which Thou hast revealed. Teach them of
thy own wisdom ; enlighten them above those who instruct
them ; and let thy unity be firmly fixed in their souls, and
strengthen them so that amidst all trials, nay in the last
moments of dissolution, the acknowledgment of Thee, O
only One God and everlasting King, may never be moved
from their mouth, but that in sincerity and entire faith they
mav exclaim : " Hear, O Israel ! the Lord our God, the Lord


is One." And grant that from this school thy law may
spread, and that servants and faithful followers may be mul-
tiplied in Israel unto the end of time. Upon the teachers
also bestow thy blessing, guard their lips from uttering error,
and their tongue from deceit; be Thou with them in their
teaching, and let nothing but truth, nothing but what is ac-
cording to thy will be taught by them ; for Thou alone, our
God and Instructor, canst guard us against error, and unless
upheld by Thee we are like the blind struggling amid pitfalls
and snares. Let thy wisdom, which erst inspired thy prophets,
fill their minds with due understanding that they may lead
those looking upon them for the waters of life unto the fountain
whence alone issues the refreshing stream of holiness and true
knowledge. Bless these thy handmaids, who have devoted
themselves, to dispense religious knowledge without fee or price,
with thy favour, and enable them to lead a life consistent with
their sacred calling let them be pure themselves, and give
them grace to purify others ; grant that they may be quick in
understanding thy law, and blessed whilst blessing others ; and
cause that their example may be followed in other places, until
there be no son or daughter of Israel that is unacquainted with
thy service in the utmost ends of the earth.

Upon this city likewise and its inhabitants shed thy blessing,
and bestow plenty and competence upon all the children of thy
creation. Upon this land grant the blessing of peace, let not
the clash of armour, the rushing of the war steed, the rattling
of the sword and the roar of the deadly artillery be heard in its
boundaries, and fill the hearts of its rulers and citizens with
wisdom, that they may govern with justice and mercy; and fill
the whole land with a spirit of benevolence and kindness, that
every man may forbear from righting himself by the strength
of his own hand.

O Lord ! relying upon thy unbounded goodness we have
dared to approach Thee, and to ask the many undeserved
favours we stand in need of; not upon our righteousness do
we rely, but upon thy unlimited mercies ; do Thou therefore,
and because of thy covenant with our fathers, hear our voice
in thy high abode, and forgive us our trespasses and our ini-
quity, for well we know that we have sinned, we and our


fathers ; but not according to our deeds wilt Thou act towards
us, for thy wont is to withhold long thy anger, and thy custom
is to have compassion upon thy creatures who return unto Thee
with a repentant spirit. Have mercy then on Israel thy people
and on Jerusalem thy city on which thy name is called ; and
send salvation into the world through him whom Thou wilt
send as the harbinger of peace, even the anointed, the son of
David, and Elijah the angel of the covenant. " And may the
beauty of the Lord our God be upon us ; and establish Thou the
work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish
Thou it." May this be thy will, O our Father and King ! from
now unto everlastin. Amen.

Adar 15th 7
March 1st I






HELD VEADAR 24, 5600 MARCH 29, 1840,

MAY thy name, O Lord our God, be praised unto everlast-
ing, even from eternity to eternity, for Thine is the glory and
the power, and thy providence watches over all the beings
whom thy word has created. Wherever we turn, we behold
the works of thy goodness, the doings of thy beneficence ; and
life, and health, and wisdom, and light are all gifts which pro-
ceed from Thee solely. For who is with Thee in heaven? and
who is near Thee on earth? Above, Thou reignest alone, there
is no second to share the rule with Thee, omnipotent Father !
and on earth all are thy creatures, all the works of thy own
hands. There is no saviour without Thee; for when Thou
woundest, who shall heal ? if Thou smitest, who can save from
thy power? and if thy wrath is enkindled, who shall appease
Thee, save it be that thy mercy forgives the repentant sinner?
It is to Thee, therefore, that we call in our distress ; to Thee,
therefore, we pray ; to Thee, therefore, we bend the knee. O,
that all flesh might like us be taught to revere Thee alone.
O, that all Israel might be made of one heart, and one spirit,
to serve Thee in truth and sincerity !

The heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot contain
Thee, for all have sprung from Thee ; all is sustained by thy

VOL. HI. 23


might ; all lives only with and through Thee. Yet Thou hast
ever deigned to fix thy dwelling in the midst of thy servants,
and from the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast founded


thy mighty works ; the deeds done by the innocent, the words
of purity flowing from their mouth are to Thee agreeable
savour ; and Thou delightest in the offering of prayer which
the humble sacrifice unto Thee, O our Saviour ! Behold us
then this day assembled in this house which has been built for
thy worship, with our children, our sons and daughters, whom
thy servants endeavour to rear up to know and to fear Thee
all the days they may live on earth, and to instruct in the law
of thy will which Thou gavest unto our forefathers in the days
of yore, when they beheld thy glory, saw thy fire, and heard
thy voice. How shall we thank Thee? how shall we praise
Thee, for this boon which Thou didst so graciously bestow on
us, by which Thou didst separate us from the heathen, and
bring us near unto thy service to fear thy name, and to be
the witnesses of thy glory ? In all our wanderings it has been
our stay, amidst all our sorrows it has been our support; nnd
unto this day we are sustained through it as a people distinct
and separate from the other nations of the earth. We humbly
confess, that it is not our wisdom and our knowledge that have
done this; but the wisdom and the knowledge which Thou didst
impart unto us through the hands of thy servant Moses, the
chosen messenger of thy goodness. We therefore implore
Thee, O Lord our God, and God of our fathers ! to strengthen
us in our striving to promulgate the knowledge of thy word;
to instil into us, and all those engaged in teaching the precepts
of thy code persuasive wisdom, and eloquence of speech, that
our words may sink deep into the hearts of all those who come
to learn, that the seed which is planted mid labour and sorrow
may produce fruits of holiness and devotion, promoting adora-
tion of Thee, the only God, and love to our fellow-men, who,
like us, have received a living soul and a feeling heart.

May it also be thy will, to receive in favour this endeavour
of the daughters of Israel in this and other cities, to found in-
stitutions for the spread of godliness; prosper their work, for-
ward their enterprize, and grant that whilst blessing they may
be blest ; that whilst teaching they may learn ; that whilst puri-


fying they may be purified, and brought to a knowledge of the
good, and be led to follow that path of righteousness and truth
which leads to everlasting happiness. May many be induced
to imitate their example ; may their reward be a multitude of
disciples, freed from the bonds of unbelief, armed with the
knowledge of truth, that they may be able to withstand the at-
tacks of those who love not Israel, and who would gladly wean
them from the observance of thy precepts.

But what are we, that we have been brought hither ? what
is our life ? what is our righteousness ? A day passes, and we
are cut off; Thou hidest thy face, and we perish; in the midst
of our devotion our thoughts often wander; and whilst wor-
shipping, our mind is turned towards gain and the vanities of
this life. All the benefits we receive from thee are undeserved
by us ; thy bounty is extended to thy children, but they merit it
not. Miracles have been wrought in our support ; unheard-of
deeds have been displayed that we might be preserved ; but
not because of our righteousness, but only because of thy
mercy, which is unending. Ere we prayed, Thou ever didst
answer ; before our thoughts were uttered, Thou *idst hear ;
and when affliction's waves threatened to overwhe\m us, thy
power stayed the destructive current, and we received enlarge-
ment. We therefore throw ourselves humbly upon the con-
tinuance of thy mercy ; guard us, as Thou wert wont to guard ;
shield us as Thou ever didst shield ; preserve unto us the know-
ledge of thy law, and cause its precepts to speak a language
which may find a response in the heart of every son of man,
and especially of all these young charges, whom thy servants
have assembled together in thy house, and endeavour to lead
unto the footstool of thy greatness. Multiply the teachers,
strengthen them in their effort, and let their reward be, that the
good they now do may produce a plentiful harvest of righteous-
ness and truth.

And upon thy servant,* who, by Thee permitted, has spoken

* Alluding to the Rev. Moses N. Nathan of Kingston, Jamaica, who being
on a visit to this country, was requested and kindly consented to address the
congregation and children upon the above occasion. His eloquent address
was published and extensively circulated along with the other proceedings
of that interesting meeting.


of thy goodness and thy law in the distant isle of the sea, where
they, who, like us, call on thy unity, have reared houses for thy
service, do Thou shed thy grace and truth, and cause us to be
instructed and to profit by the words he will address to us.
Arm his tongue with persuasiveness, that we all may leave this
house to-day improved and better than we entered. Bless his
labours for thy glory, wherever they may be exerted, and cause
him to return to his station, in the fellowship of the daughter of
Jacob his companion, in restored health, in renewed vigour, and
increased usefulness.

Father of all ! we farther pray Thee, to let thy countenance
shine unto us, and unto all Israel ; and shield us by the shadow
of thy wings from the many calamities we are subject to, be-
cause t' we are flesh. Strengthen us, that when in health,
we may overcome the evil of our inclinations, and that when
our bo y is racked by pain, we may be prepared to resign
cheerfully our spirit into thy hands, O our King ! Let thy grace
and thy holy spirit be ever with us ; remember the captivity of
Jacob, and forsake not the outcasts of Israel, and suffer not the
gentiles to devour them, lest they say, Where is their God ?
Preserve unto us also the blessing of freedom which we enjoy
in this land, and grant that a spirit of pure benevolence may
become universal toward thy people in every country of their
dispersion. But above all, fulfil unto us the promise made to us
through thy prophet, who spoke : " As for me, this is my cove-
nant with them, saith the Lord, my spirit which is upon thee.
and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart
from thy mouth, nor from the mouth of thy children, nor from
the mouth of thy children's children, saith the Lord, from
henceforth, and for ever." May this be thy will. Amen.

Veadar 24th
March 29th


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Online LibraryIsaac LeeserDiscourses, argumentative and devotional, the subject of the Jewish religion. delivered chiefly at the synagogue Mikveh Israel, in Philadelphia, in the years 5598-5601 → online text (page 26 of 26)