Isidore Singer.

The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) online

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freedom of will and his intelligence annul such de-
terminaticms. After having reconciled prediction
with the principle of free will, he defines the nature
of prescience and establishes a distinction between
propliecy and other kinds of divination. In pro-
phetic visions, he says, it is the rational faculty
which is put into communication with the universal
intellect, and therefore the predictions are always
infallible; while in divination the receptive faculty
is tlie imaginative power, and the predictions may
])(• often chimerical. Thus, like Maimonides, Levi
iiolds that the origin of prophetic perceptions is the
same as that of ordinary science— the universal in-
tellect. But, while the author of the "Moreh"
counts among the requisites of prophecy a fertile
imaginaticni. Levi maintains that the greatness

Levi ben Gershon



of the prophet consists precisely in his faculty of so
checking the exercise of imagination that it may not
disturb the dictates of reason. Another point of
disagreement between ^laimonides and Levi is the
question whether intellectual and moral perfections
are alone sufficient to insure to their possessor pro-
phetic vision. For Maimonides the special will of
God is the sine qua non for prophecy ; for Levi
moral and intellectual perfections arc quite sufficient.

The most interesting part of the " .Alilhamot " is
the third main division, which treats of God's
omniscience. As is known, Aristotle limited
God's knowledge to universals, arguing that if
He had knowledge of particulais, He would be
subject to constant changes. Maimonides rejects
this theory, and endeavors to show
God's Om- that belief in God's omniscience is not
niscience. in opposition to belief in His unity
and immutability. "God," he says,
"perceives future events before they happen, and
His perception never fails. Therefore no new ideas
can i)resent themselves to Him. He knows that such
and sucii an individual will be born at such a time,
will exist for such a period, and will then return into
non-existence. The coming into existence of this
individual is for God no new fact ; nothing has hap-
pened that He was unaware of, for He knew this
inilividual. such as he now is, before his birth"
("Moreh," i. 20).

As to the objections made by the Peripatetics to
the belief in God's onmiscicnce; namely, how is it
conceivable that God's essence should remain indi-
visible, notwithstanding the multiplicity of knowl-
edge of which it is made up; that His intelligence
should embrace the intinite; that events should
maintain their character of contingency in spite of
the fact that they are foreseen by tlie Supreme Being
— these, according to Maimonides, are based on an
error. Misled by the use of the term "knowledge,"
men believe that whatever is requisite for their knowl-
edge is retjuisite for God's knowledge also. The
fact- is that there is no comparison whatever between
man's knowledge and that of God, the latter being
absolutely incomprehensible to human intelligence.
This theory is severely criticized by Levi, who atlinns
that not reason but religion alone dictated it to ^lai-
monides. Indeed, Levi argues there can be no doubt
that between human knowledge and God's knowl-
edge there is a wide difference in degree ; but the
assumption tiiat there is not the slightest analogy
between them is unwarranted. When the nature of
God is characterized by means of positive determi-
nations, tile soul is taken as the basis of reasoning.
Thus science is attributed to God, because man also
possesses it to a certain extent. If, then, as Mai-
monides supposes, there is, except in name, no like
ncss between God's knowledge and man's knowl
edge, how can man reason from himself to God"?
Then, again, there are attributes which can be pred-
icated of God, as, for instance, knowledge and life,
whieli imply perfection, and others which must be
denied to Him, as, for instance, corporeality and mo-
tion, because these imply imperfection. But, on the
the(uy of Maimonides. there is no reason for the ex-
clusion of any attribute, since, applied to God, all
attributes neccs-SJirily lose their significance. Mai-

monides is indeed consistent, and I'xeludes all
tive attributes, admitting only negative ones; but
the reasons given by him for their distinction are not

Having thus refuted ^laimonides' theories both of
Gods onmiscience and of the divine attributes, Levi
gives his own views. The sublime thought of God,
he says, embraces all the cosmic laws Mhich regu-
late the evolutions of nature, the general influences
exercised by the celestial bodies on the sublunary
world, and the specific essences with which matter is
invested; but sublunary events, the multifarious
details of the phenomenal world, are hidden from
His spirit. iS^ot to know details, however, is
not imperfection, because in knowing the imiversal
conditions of things, He knows that which is essen-
tial, and consequently good, in the individual.

In the fourth division Levi discusses the question
of divine providence. Aristotle's theory that hu-
manity only as a whole is guided and protected bj'
a divine providence, admits the existence of neither
prophecy nor divination. Nor can every individual
be the object of the solid tutle of a

Divine special providence; for tins is (1)
Provi- against reason, because, as has beeu
dence. demonstrated, the divine intelligence
embraces only universals, and it is in-
admissible that evil can jiroceed from God, the source
of all good; (3) against experience, because one often
sees the righteous borne down by miseries, while the
wicked are triuin[)liant ; (3) against the sense of the
Torah, which wlicn warning men that their rebel-
lions will be followed by disasters, because God will
hide His face from them, implies that the calamities
which will overtake them will come as the consc-
quence of their having been left w ithout protection
from the vicissitudes of fate. Levi, therefore, ar-
rives at the conclusion that some are under the pro-
tection and guidance of the general providence, and
others under a special, individual ]irovidence. It i.s
incontestable, he says, that a general, beneticent
providence cares for all sublunary beings. Upon
some it bestows certain bodily organs which enable
them to provide themselves with the necessaries of
life and to protect themselves from danger; toothers
it gives a nature which enables them to avoid that
which would harm them. It is also demonstrated
that the higher a being stands in the scale of crea-
tion the more organs it possesses for its preservation
and defense; in other words, the greater is the solic-
itude and protection bestowed upon it by the Crea-
tor. siK'cies of animals which more nearly
resemble man participate in the solicitude of prov-
idence to a greater extent than that part of animal-
ity which forms the connecting-link between the
animal and vegetable kingdoms. If,

Relation then, the degree of participation by a
to the being in the protection of the divine

Intellect, providence is proportioned to the de-
gree of its development, it is obvious
that the nearer one comes to the active intelligence,
the more is he the object of the divine solicitude.
Thus those who strive to develoji the faculties of
the soul enjoy the care of a special, individual provi-
dence, while those who grope in ignorance are
guarded only bv the general providence.



Levi ben Gershon

omy, Phys-
ics, and

Tlicrc is. however, one grent objection to tliis
tlieoi y ; namely, there can be no question of a spe-
cial providence if God kuoAvs only generalities. To
meet this antinomy Levi detines the nature of the
special providence. All the events, he says, all the
phenomena of this Avorld, good as well as evil, are
due to the intluences of the celestial bodies. The
various effusions of these bodies are regulated by
eternal, immutable laws; so that the demiurgic prin-
ciple, which knows these laws, has a perfect knowl-
edge of all the phenomena Avhich affect this world,
of the good and evil which are in store formaidiind.
This subjection to ethereal substances, however, is
not absolute; for man by his free will can, as stated
above, annul their determinations. But in order to
avert their mischievous emanations he must be
warned of the danger. This warning is given by
the divine providence to mankind at large; but as it
is perceived only by those whose intellect is fully
developed, the divine providence benefits individ-
uals only.

The fifth division comprises three parts treating re-
spectively of astronomy, physics, and metaphysics.
The astronomical part, which forms
of itself a considerable work of 136
chapters, was not included in the pub-
lished edition of the "Milhamot," and
is still in manuscript. As has been
said above, it was translated by order
of Pope Clement VI. into Latin and
enjoyed such a high reputation in the Christian
scientific world that the astronomer Kepler gave
himself much trouble to secure a copy of it.

The second part is devoted to the research of the
final causes of all that exists in the heavens, and to
the solution of astronomical problems, such as
whether the stars exist for themselves, or wdiethei-
they are only intended to exercise an influence upon
this world; whether, as supposed by Ptolemy, there
exists above the starred spheres a starless one which
imparts the diurnal motion to the inferior heavens,
or Avhether, as maintained by Averroes, there is none ;
whether the fixed stars are all situated in one and
the same sphere, or whether the number of spheres
corresponds to that of the stars; how the sun warms
the air; Avhy the moon borrows its light from the
sun and is not luminous of itself.

In the tiiird part Levi establishes the existence
first of an active intellect, then of the planetary in-
telligences, and finally the existence of a primary
cause, which is God. According to him, the best
proof of the existence of an efficient and final cause
is the phenomenon of procreation. AVithout the in-
tervention of an efficient intelligence there is no
possibility of explaining the generation and organi-
zation of animated beings.

But is there only one demiurgic intelligence, or
are there many? After reviewing the various exist-
ing opinions on the subject, Levi concludes: (1) that
the various movements of the heavenly
The bodies imply a hierarchy of motive

Spheres. principles: (2) that the number of these
principles corresponds to that of tiie
spheres ; (3) that the spheres themselves are animated
and intelligent beings, accomplishing their revolu-
tions with perfect cognition of the cause thereof.

In opposition to Maimonides, he maintains that the
various intelligences did not emanate gradually
from the first, but were all the direct effect of the
primary cause. Can not this primary cause, how-
ever, be identified, as supposed by Averroes, with
one of the intelligences, especially with that which
bestows motion upon the most exalted of the spheres,
that of the fixed stars? This, says Levi, is impossi-
ble, first because each of these intelligences perceives
only a part of the universal order, since it is confined
to a limited circle of influences; if God, then, were
the mobile of any sphere there would be a close
connection between llini and His cn-atures.

The last division deals witli creation and with
miracles. After having ref\ited the arguments ad-
vanced by Aristotle in favor of the eternity of the
world, and having proved that neither time nor
motion is infinite, Levi demonstrates:
Creation. (1) that the woild had a beginning;
(2) that it has no end ; and (3) that it
did not proceed from another world. In the order
of nature, he says, the whole earth was covered by
water, which was enveloped by the concentric
sphere of air, which, in ttii'n, was encompassed by
that of fire. Was it, he asks, as Aristotle supposes,
the absorbent heat of the stm which caused the
water to recede and the land to appear? In that
case the southern hemisphere, Avhere the heat is
more intense, ought to present a similar phenom-
enon. It is, therefore, obvious that it was due to
the action of a superior agent. From the fact that
the world had a beginning (me must not, however,
infer that it will have also an end; on the contrary,
it is imperishable like the heavenly bodies, which are
its sources of life and motion, and of Avhich the sub-
stances, being immaterial, are not subject to the nat-
ural laws of decay.

Having thus demonstrated that the world is not
eternal "a parte ante" and is eternal "a parte post,"
Levi gives his own view of creation. He chooses a
middle position between the theory of the existence
of a primordial cosmic substance and that of a crea-
tion "ex nihilo," both of which he criticizes. Ac-
cording to him, there existed from eternity inert
undetermined matter, devoid of form and attribute.
At a given moment God bestowed upon this matter
(which till then had oidy a potential existence) es-
.sence, form, motion, and life; and from it proceeded
all sublunary beings and all heavenly substances,
with the exception of the separated intelligences,
which were direct emanations of the Divinity.

In the second part of the last division Levi endeav-
ors to demonstrate that his theory of creation agrees
with the account of Genesis; and he
Miracles, devotes the last chapters of the "Jlil-
hamot " to the discussion of miracles.
After having defined from Biblical inferences their
nature, he demonstrates that the actual performer
of miracles is neither God nor prophet, but the
active intellect. There are, he says, two kinds of
natural laws: those which regulate the economy of
the heavens and by which the ethereal substances
produce the ordinary sublunary phenomena, and
those which govern the special operations of the
demiurgic principle and by which are juoduced the
extraordinary phenomena known as miracles. Like

L.evi ben Gershon

Levi, Jedidiah b. Raphael



freedom of the will in man, this faculty was given by
God to the active intellect as a corrective of the in-
fluences of the celestial bodies, which are sometimes
too harsh in their inflexibility. The supernatural
as literally understood does not exist, since even a
prodigy is a natural efEectof a primordial law, though
it is distinguished from other sublunary events by
its origin and its extreme rarity. Thus a man of a
highly developed intellect may foresee the accom-
plishment of a certain miracle which is only the re-
sult of a providential law conceived and executed
by the active intellect. Miracles are subjected, ac-
cording to Levi, to the following laws: (1) their ef-
fect can not remain pcrnuiuently and thus supersede
the law of nature; (2) no miracle can produce self-
contradictory things, as, for instance, an object
that shall be both totally black and totally white at
the same time ; (3) no miracle can take place in the
celestial spheres. When Joshua said, "Sun, stand
thou still upon Gibeon " (Josh. x. 12), he merely ex-
pressed the desire that the defeat of the enemy
should be completed while the sun continued to
shine on Gibeon. Thus the miracle consisted in the
promptness of the victory. Nor is the going back-
ward of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz (II Kings
XX. 9; Isa. xxxviii. 8) to be imderstood in tlie sense
of the sun's retrogression: it was the shadow which
went backward, not the sun.

The conclusions arrived at in the "Milhamot"
were introduced by Levi in his Biblical commen-
taries, where he endeavored to recon-
Philosoph,y cile them with the text of the Law.
in His Com- Guided by the principle laid down but
mentaries. not always followed by Mainiouides,
that a philosophical or a moral teach-
ing underlies every Biblical narrative, Levi adopted
the method of giving the literal meaning and then
of summing up the philosophical ideas and moral
maxims contained in each section. The books of
Job, Canticles, and Eeclesiastes are mainly inter-
preted by him philosophically. Jerusalem, accord-
ing to him, symbolizes man, who, like that city, was
selected for the service of God; "the daughters of
Jerusalem " symbolize the faculties of the soul; and
Solomon rei)resents the intellect which governs all.
Kohelet (Eeclesiastes) presents an outline of the
ethics both of Aristotle and of his opponents, be-
cause moral truth can not be apodictically demon-
strated. In opposition to the ])hilos()i)hical exegetes
of his time, Levi, liowever, did not allegorize the
historical and legislative pans of the Bible; but
he endeavored to give a natural explanation of tlie

Levi's philosophical theories, some of which in-
fluenced Spinoza (comi). "Theologico-Politicus," ch.
ii., where Spinoza uses Levi's own
Opposition, terms in treating of miracles), met with
great oppo.sition among the Jews.
Wiiile Hasdai Crescas criticized tluru on ])hilo.sopli-
ical grounds, otiiors attacked tlicni mk rely because
they were not in keejiiiig with the ideas of ortliodoxy.
Isaac ben Sheshet (Hcsponsa, No. 45), wiiile ex-
]>res.sing admiration for Levi's groat Talmudical
knowledge, censures his philosojiiiical ideas, which
he considers to be heresies the mere listening to
which is sinful in the eyes of a pious Jew. Abra-

vanel (commentary on Josh, x.) blames Levi in the
harshest terms for having been so outspoken in his
heretical ideas. Some zealous rabbis went so far as
to forbid the study of Levi's Bible commentaries.
Among these were Messer Leon Judah and Judah
Muscato ; the latter, applying to them Num. i. 49,
says: "Only thou shalt not number the tribe of
Levi, neither bring his Commentaries among the chil-
dren of Israel " (Commentary on the " Cuzari," p. 4).
Shem-Tob perverted the title " Milhamot Adonai "
(="Wars of God") into "Milhamot 'im Adonai"
(=r "Wars with God"); and by this corrupted title
Levi's work is quoted by Isaac Arama and by Ma-
nasseh ben Israel, who attack it in most violent

liiBLiOGRAPHY : Munk, M/'lanqcs. p. 498; Baer, Philnsnphie
luid PJiilosoplii.-^clie SvJiriftstcUcr der Judeti, p. 113: Joel,
Levi hen Oerson als Ketiyio/tsp/iiio.sop/i, Breslau, 1862; Re-
imn, Averroes et Averroisme, p. 194; Weil, PhUosop)iie Re-
Ugieiise tie Levi hen Ge).son, Paris, 1808.
K. I. Bu.

LEVI, HERMANN : Musical director ; born at
Giessen, Germany, Nov. 7, 1839; died at Munich May
13,1900. His mother was a pianist of distinction. He
studied under Vincenz Lachner at Mannheim (1852-
1855), and at theLeipsic Conservatorium, principally
under Hauptmann and Bietz (1855-58). In 1859 he
became musical director at Saarbrlicken, and in 1861
conductor of the German opera at Rotterdam, from
which city he was summoned in 1864 to Carlsruhe,
where in his capacity as court kapellmeister he
aroused general attention by his masterly conduct-
ing of the " Meistersinger " (Feb., 1869).

In 1872 Levi received the appointment of court
kapellmeister at Munich ; and it was his thoroughly
conscientious and excellent work here— notably his
production of "Tristan and Isolde" in Nov., 1881 —
that induced Richard Wagner to select him as the
conductor of "Parsifal " at the Bayreuth Music Fes-
tival of 1882. Appointed " General-Musikdirektor "
at Munich in 1894, he resigned this position in 1896
owing lo ill health, and was pensioned by the gov-

As the foremost director of his time, Levi con-
ducted the musical performances during the Bis-
marck-Feier and also on the occasion of the tri-
centenaiy celebration of the birth of Orlando di
Lasso. He was the first to produce the trilogy " Der
Ring der Nibelungen " after its performance at
Bayreuth in 1876; and his masterly interpretation
of the AVagnerian dramas contributed to make Mu-
nich for many years a permanent musical center for
these works. Levi was a convert to Christianity.

Bibliorraphy: Heinrlch Porges, in Munkali^choi Wochcn-
hlatt, pp. 334-33U, Leipslc, 19ai.

s. J. So.

of Abigdor hu-Lcvi Laniatore of Padua; foinided a
Hebrew printing establishment at Rome in 1518,
which received special privileges from the i)ope
tiuough the intercession of Cardinal Egidio di Vi-
icrbo. Tliei-e Elijah Lcvita's n33"inn D was printed
withineighteen days(with imperfect h'tler-press, ow-
ing to haste, as the colophon complains); this was
followed by his tables of inflections, now lost, and by
his " Bahur." The pix-ss soon closed. In 1525 Jacob



Levi ben Gershon

Levi, Jedidiah b. Raphael

published at Triuo in Piedinout a prayer-book ac-
cording to the Italian ritual.

BrnLiOGRAPHY: Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 29()1 ; Vopt-l-
siein and Rleger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom. ii. 115.

J. I. E.

LEVI ISAAC BEN MEIR : Russian rabbi of
the tirst half of the nineteenth century. After hav-
ing been rabbi at ISelichow and Pinsk, Levi Isaac
was called to the rabbinate of Berdychev, where lie
wrote "Kedushshat Lewi" (Berdychev, 1816), the
fii'st part of which contains a homiletic commentary
on tlie Pentateuch, with collectanea, the second
being miscellaneous in character. He wrote also a
conunentary on the "Sefer ha-Zekirut," a compila-
tion by Paphacl b. Zechariah Mendel of ethical wri-
tings, based on the Biblical passages beginning with
"Zakor" (Wilna and Grodno, 1835).

BiBi.iOGRAruY: Benjaoob, Ozar ha-Scfarun, pp. 156, 517;
Fiirst, Bilit. Jud. li. :i43.

K. M. Set,.

LEVI, ISRAEL: French rabbi and scholar;
born at Paiis July 7, 1856. He was ordained as
rabbi by the Rabbinical Seminary of Paris in 1879;
appointed assistant rabbi to the chief rabbi of Paris
in 1882; professor of Jewish history and literature
at t!ie Paris Seminary in 1892; lecturer on Talmudic
and rabbinic literature at the Ecole Pratique des
Hautes Etudes in 1896.

During 1894-95 Levi was director of " Univers
Israelite. " He is one of the leading spirits of the So-
ciete des Etudes Juives. On its organization in 1880
he was elected secretary and general manager of the
"Revue des Etudes Juives," and in 1892 tO(jk charge
of its bibliographical section. He has contributed
to this journal papers on the Haggadah, the Talmudic
and midrashic legends, Jewish folk-lore, the relig-
ious controversies between Jews and Christians, as
well as on the history of the Jews in France.

Levi has published in addition the following
works: "La Legende d'Alexandre dans le Tal-
mud et leMidrasch"(l884); "Trois Contes Juifs"
(1885); "Le Roman d'Alexandre" (Hebrew text,
with introduction and notes, 1887); "Les Juifs et
LInquisition dans la France M^ridionale " (1891);
"Textes Inedits sur la Legende d'Alexandre" (in
the " Steinschneider Festschrift"); "Relations Histo-
riques dans le Talnuid sur Alexandre " (in the " Kauf-
mann Gedeukbuch "); "Les Dix-huit Benedictions
et les Psaumes de Salomon " ; "L'Ecclesiastique ou
la Sagesse de Jesus, Fils de Sira," original Hebrew
text, with notes and translation (part i., ch. xx\ix.
15-xlix. 11; 1898; part ii., ch. iii. 6-xvi. 26; parts
of ch. xviii., xix., xxv., and xxvi. ; xxxi. 11-xxxiii.
3, XXXV. 19-xxxviii. 27, xlix. 11 to the end; 1901;
the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, on
June 6, 1902, awarded to this last-named work one-
half of the "Prix Delalande ") ; " Ecclesiasticus,"
class-room edition, Hebrew. text, witii English notes
and English-Hebrew vocabulary , in " Semitic Studies
Series," ed. Gottheil and Jastrow, 1903.

BiBMOORAPHY : Moise Schwab, Rf'prrtoire drs Arfirlrs Rela-
tifx (i VHistDtre et d In Littrratvir Jiiirrs Pants da ii>: lix
Pcritidii/tics dc 17S3 dlS9S, pp. 228-231. Paris, 1809 (Supple-
ment, 190:i).

s. J. Ka.


SA'ID : Karaite scholar; Nourished, probably at
Jerusalem, in the first half of the eleventh centiuy.
Although, like his father, he was considered one of
the greatest authorities among the Karaites, who
called him " Al-Shaikh " (the master), no details
of his life are to be found in the Karaite sources.
There even exists confusion in regard to his iden-
tity ; in some of the sources he is confounded with
his brother, or his son Sa'id (comp. Pinsker, "Lik-
kute Kadmouiyyot," p. 119), and also with a Mo-
hammedan scholar named Abu Hashim (Aaron ben
Joseph, "Mibhar," Paris MS.). Levi wrote in Ara-
bic a comprehensive work on the precepts, parts
of a Hebrew translation (" Sefer ha-Mizwot ") of
which are still extant in manuscript (Neubauer,

Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 10 of 169)