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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by King John Casiniir (Feb. 17).

The security of the Moghilef community was,
however, of short duration. In 1054 the city was

annexed to Russia, and by order of

Expelled the czar Aleksei Mikhailovich in re-

1654. sponse to a petition of the Moghilef

burghers the Jews were commanded
to leave (Sept. 15, 1654). In spite of thisorder they
remained in Mogliilef (probably as the residt of

Synagogue at Moghilef, Russia.

(Aftvr A photot^raph.)

bribery of the local officials), but they paid dearly
for so doing. In 1055 most of them were mas-
sacred by the Russian soldiers outside of the city
walls, where the Jews had assembled by order of the
Russian commander Poklonski (see .Iew. Encyc.
iv. 286b, s.v. Cossacks" Upuising). The only Jews
spared were those who had not yet left the city, and
who, fearing a similar fate, had declared their read-
iness to accept baptism. The Father SuperiorOrest,
commenting on this incident in his memoirs, laments
the fact that after the war, when the danger to the
.lews had passed, most of the converts returned to
Judaism, only a tenth part of them remaining Chris-

In 1656 Moghilef was again under Polish rule;
and the old charter of privileges was renewed by
King John III. In the memoirs of Orest, referred
to above, mention is made also of Shabbethai Zebi
(whom Orest calls "Sapsai Gershonovich ").

The first rabbi of Moghilef and of "the Russian
province "of whom record is jircscrved in Jewish

documents, was
Mordecai Siiss-
k i n d R u 1 1 e n -
burg, who was
living in Moglii-
lef in 1686. as
appears from his
respousa(i. 44b;
1746). He was
l)robably among
the first (if not
the first) of the
rabbis of the
Moghilef com-
munity a f t e r
permission was
given the Jews
in 1678 to re-
side anywhere
in the city. For
the next century
the Jews of
Moghilef re-
mained secure inider the protection of the Polish
crown, Avith the exception of the period covered
by the Swedish war, when Moghilef was for a
time on the battle-ground between the Swedes
and the Ru.ssians. Orest describes in his memoirs
the entry of Peter the Great into Moghilef, when
the Jewish inhabitants together with the rest came
to welcome him, and presented liim with a live

With the partition of Poland in 1772 Moghilef be-
came a part of the Russian empire. Catherine II.
visited tlic city in 1780 and was received by the Jews
with expressions of joy. They decorated the public
square with fiowers and erected an arch bearing the
inscription " We rejoice as in tlu^days
Under of King Sohmion." Tliey also en-
Russian gaged a band of music to play in the
Rule. daytime and in the evening. During
the successive reigns of Catherine,
Paul, and Alexander the prosperity of the connnu-
nitv increased. The Jewish merchants of Moghilef




were especially prominent as traders in timber,
hemp, and grain, which were sold in Riga, wheio a
number of Jews of Moghilef settled later. Impor-
tant commercial relations were maintained also by
way of tlie Dnieper with Kiev and Kherson. To-
ward the middle of tiie nineteenth century and later
the Jewish merchants of Moghilef became prominent
also as government contractors, and carried on an
extensive trade with Moscow.

In 1897 the Jews of Moghilef numbered 19,398 in
a total population of 43,106 The city had two syn-
agogues and about forty Jiouses of prayer; thirty-
five hadarim and throe yeshibot; a Jewish hospital
and a number of dispensaries; Jewish elementary
schools for l)ovs and girls; a Talmud Torali; and

in a private school for girls (68), and in tlie city
school (130, the total being 320). Among the char-
itable institutions is a liospital. In 1897 there was
founded a loan association which lends small sums
of money without interest to petty traders and arti-
sans. A society for aiding tlie poor, founded in 1899,
gives special attention to sup])]ying artisans with
proper tools and to aiding them to dispose of their
wares. Poverty is steadily increasing, leading to
increased emigration. During the war between tlie
Russiansand the Poles many Jews of Moghilef were
killed by the Cossacks and the Russian troops (1664).
Bibliography: .Sion, 1861. No.:W;, No. 2; 1899,
Nos. 7 and 56; 1900, No. 54; liH)l, Nos. 58 and 68; Regcsty i
Nadpisi, vol. I., No. 1(«1, St. retprslnirff. 1899.
II. R. S. J.

Interior of a Synagogue at Moghilef, Russia.

f After a photograph.)

the usual Jewish cliaritable organizations. By far
the greater portion of the Jews of Moghilef are arti-
sans earning scanty wages. Since the construction
of the railroad, which did not touch Moghilef, the
prosperity of the city has declined.

BiBLTOGRAPHT : Regcsty, vo\. 1.. s.v.; Riw.sfro Y^evreiKhi Ar-
khiv,i..s.v.: Le\'ont\n, in Kenetict Yisraeh i.~9i; Mstlslav-
ski. in Vogkhoii, 1886, ix. and x.
H. K. J. G. L.

2. City in the government of Podolia, Russia:
situated on the Dniester; it has a population of 22,-
093, of whom 14,000 are Jews. The latter include
3,306 artisans and 131 day-laborers; 01 are employed
in the shops and factories. The Jewish children
are taught in fifty-eight hadarim (700 pupils), in the
Jewish school with its industrial department (140),


See Joseph liii.N JuDAii inx Akmn.

ican comedian ; born in Kaloraush, Bessarabia, Dec.
16, 1858; now residing in New York. He possessed
a fine voice from early youth, and was the favorite
"meshorer" or choir-singer with several well-
known hazzanim. He went toBuciiarest, Rumania,
while very young, and for some years studied there
at tlie Conservatory of Music. He joined Goi.i)-
FADKN soon after the organization of the Yiddisii
theater, and since tiiat time has been recognized as
the best comedian on the Yiddish stage. He trav-
eled with various companies over Russia, Austria,
Rumania, and England. He went to the United.




States about the year 1886, since when, except for
an interruption of three years through illness, he has
followed his profession to the present time (1904).
He is known also as a leading composer of music
for the Yiddish stage.

BiBLior.RAPHY: Hapgood, Spirit of the Ghetto.pp. 138, 150 et
seq.. New York, 19(K; Seifert. Die Yiddixche Bilhne, vol. il.
(Gesehichte von Yiddixchen Theater), New York, l«9i.
s. P Wi.

MOHAMMED : Founder of Islam and of the Mo-
hammedan empire; born at Mecca between 569 and
571 of the common era; died June, 633, at Medina.
Mohammed was a posthumous child and lost his
njother when he was si.\ years old. He then came
under the guardianship of his grandfather 'Abd al-
Muttalib, who at his death, two years later, left the
boy to the care of his son Abu Talib, Mohammed's
uncle. The early years of Mohammed's life were
spent among the Banu Sa'd, Bedouins of the desert,
it being the custom at Mecca to send a child away
from home to be nursed. From the stories told of
these early years it would appear that
Early even then he showed symptoms of
Years. epilepsy which greatly alarmed his
nurse. It has been stated that the boy
was once taken on a caravan journey to Syria, and
that he there came in contact with Jews and Chris-
tians. But he could very easily have become ac-
quainted with both at Mecca; hence this theory
is not necessary to explain his knowledge of Jew-
ish and Christian beliefs. When Mohammed was
twenty -five years old Abu Talib obtained for him an
opport\mity to travel with a caravan in the service
of Hadijali, a wealthy widow of the Kuraish, who
offered Mohammed her hand on his return from the
expedition. Six children were the fruit of this
union, the four daughters surviving their father.
Hadijah, although fifteen years his senior, was, ^s
long as she lived, Mohammed's faithful friend and

G. M. W. M.

Mohammed's religious activity began with the for-
tieth year of his life. The Islamic tradition assigns
as the beginning of this new career a sudden marvel-
ous illumination through God. The Koran, liowever,
the most authentic document of Islam, whose be-
ginnings arc probably contemporaneous with i\Io-
hammed's first sermons, sjjeaks of this revelation on
the "fateful night" rather vaguely in a passage of
the later Meccan period, while the earlier passages
give the impression that Mohammed himself liad
somewhat hazy ideas on the first stages of the reve-
lation which culminated in his occasional intercourse
with God, through the mediation of various spiri-
tual beings. Small wonder thai his pagan country-
men took liim to be a "kahin," i.e., one of those
Anil) soothsayers wlio, claiming iiigher inspiration,
uitered rimed oracles similar to tiiose found in the
earliest suras. Historical investigations, however,
show that Mohammed must not be classed with those
pagan seers, but with a sect of monotheistic visiona-
ries of wliose probable existence in southern Arabia,
on the borderland between Judaism and Christianity,
some notice has come down in the fragment of an
inscription recently published in "W. Z. K. M."
(1896, pp. 285 et fieq.). This fragment a'^cribes to

God the attribute of vouchsafing "revelation" (?)
and "glad tidings" ("bashr," i.e., "gospel" or
"gift of preaching "), meaning prob-
South-Ara- ably the occasional visionary illumi-
bian Vi- nation of the believer. As the same
sionaries. inscription contains other religious
concepts and expressions which paral-
lel those in the Koran, Mohammed may well be as-
sociated with this religious tendency. The name
of tins South-Arabian sect is not known ; but the
" Hanifs " of the Islamic tradition belonged probably
to them, being a body of monotheistic ascetics who
lived according to the "religion of Abraham " and
who bitterly inveighed against the immoral prac-
tises of paganism.

Islam in its earliest form certainly did not go far
beyond the tenets of these men. Mohammed con-
demns idolatry by emphasizing the existence of a
single powerful God, who has created and who main-
tains heaven and earth : but he condemns still more
emphatically the vices born of idolatry, namely,
covetousness, greed, and injustice to one's neighbor;
and he recommends prayer and the giving of alms
as a means of purifying the spirit and of being
justified at the divine judgment. This gospel in-
cludes nothing that was not contained in Judaism
or in Christianity, nor anything of what constituted
the fundamental difference between the two. Islam,
however, did not undertake to bridge the gulf be-
tween them. Mohammed's teaching, on the con-
trary, was at first expressly directed against the
Arab pagans only; and even in the later Meccan
period it refers to its consonance with the doctrines
of the " men of the revelation," i.e., Jews and Chris-
tians. Nothing is more erroneous than to assume
that the watchword of the later Islam, " There is no
God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet," was
characteristic of the very beginning of the religious
movement inaugurated by Mohammed: not the be-
lief in dogmas, but the recognition of ethical obli-
gations, was the object of his mission to his country-
men. That meant that the Arab prophet strove to
gain in every believer an ally to help him to wage
war upon the corruptions of the day. Mohammed's
political astuteness, which was a signal characteristic
of his Medina period, is apparent even in the organ-
ization of the first community. Its members were
mostly poor but intellectually eminent Kuraish like
Ali, Abu Bakr, Zubair, 'Abd al-Kahman ibn 'Auf,
Sa'd ibn Abi Wakkas, Othman, and others. They,
being in the execution of their religiotis duties under
Mohammed's personal supervision, soon grew to be
so dependent upon him that their tribal conscious-
ness—the strongest instinct in the social life of the
ancient Arabs— was gradually super-
The First seded by the consciousness of being
Moslems, Moslems, the community thus develop-
ing into a small state with Mohammed
as its chief. Hence in time sharp conflicts arose be-
tween the powerful Meccaus, the sheiks of the lead-
ing families, and ^lohammed. For years they had
suffered him as a harmless dreamer, a soothsayer, a
magician, and even as one possessed of demons;
then, when his prediction in regard to the imminent
judgment of God remained luifulfilled. they had
modvcd him; b>it when the community grew— even




eminent personages like Haiiizali swearing by Islam
— they grew Ijfostile and began to peiseeute him and
liis adnereiits, their action cidmiuating in the ostra-
cism of Mohammed's family, the Banu Hashim.
Restricted in his missionary activity, and separated
from a large part of the faithful who had sought
refuge in Christian Abyssinia, the prophet lost
heart. His preaching, in so far as its nature can be
gathered from the Koran, was tilled with references
to the persecutions to which the earlier messengers
of God had been subjected, and to their final
rescue by Him; and it emphasized "rahmah " — i.e.,
mercy shown to the good, and long-suflFering to
the wicked — as being God's chief attribute. Vari-
ous dogmatic-theosophic discussions were added,
among them being the first protests against the
Christian doctrine of the son of God. The teach-
ings of Islam, which at first had been merely a
body of precepts, developed more and more into a
regular system which reflected in its chief tenets
the later Judaism.

When the leading families of Mecca revoked the
ban pronounced against the Banu Hashim, which
had been maintained for nearly three years, they
might well have believed that Mohammed's polit-
ical importance at Mecca was destroyed. The proph-
et himself perceived, especially after the death of
his protector Abu Talib and of his (Mohammed's)
wife Hadijah, that his native city was not the
proper place in Avhich to carry out his communal
ideas; and he cast about for a locality better
adapted to his purposes. After various unsuccess-
ful attempts to find a following among neighboring
tribes, he happened to meet, during the annual fes-
tival of the temple at Mecca, six people from Yath-
rib (Medina); the Arab inhabitants of this city had
come into close contact with monotheistic ideas
through their long sojourn among the Jewish tribes
which liad been the original masters of the city, as
well as with several Christian families. These men,
being related to Mohammed on his mother's side,
took up the cause of the prophet, and were so active

in its behalf among their people that

The Hegira after two years seventy-five believers

(622). of Medina went to Mecca during the

festival and proclaimed in the so-called
"'akabah,"or war assembly, the otficial reception
of Mohammed and his adherents at Mecca into the
community of Yathrib. The consequence was that
within a short time ail the Moslems removed to
Medina; and the prophet himself, as the last one,
closed the first period of Islam by his hasty depar-
ture, as in flight ( " Hegira " ; Sept., 622).

]Mohammed's entry into Medina marks the begin-
ning of an almost continuous external development of
Islam, which asareligion, it is true, lost in depth and
moral content, and crystallized into dogmatic for-
mulas, but as a political entity achieved increasing
success through the eminent political ability of the
prophet himself. The Arab inhabitants of Medina,
tlie tribes of Aus and Khazraj, all joined the religion
of the prophet within two years from the Hegira.
Political differences, however, arose between them,
especially after Mohammed had reserved for himself
exclusively the office of judge; and these differences
led to the formation of a moderate party of opposi-

tion, the Munafij, or weak believers, who often, and
without detriment to his cause, restrained the
prophet's impetuosity. But the propaganda came
to a halt among the numerous Jews living in the
city and the surrounding country, who \\ere partly
under the protection of the ruling Arab tribes, the
Banu 'Auf, Al-Harith, Al-Najjar, Sa'idah, Jusham,
Al-Aus, Thaiabah, and partly belonged to such
large and powerful Jewish tribes as the Banu Kurai-
za, Al-Nadir, Kainuka'. In the first year of the Heg-
ira Mohammed was apparently on friendly terms
with them, not yet recognizing their religion to be
different from his; indeed, they were included in a
treaty which he made with the inhabitants of Medina
shortly after his arrival among them. The prophet
and his adherents borrowed from these Jews many
ritual customs, as, for instance, the regularity and
formality of public prayers, fasting — wliich later on,
following the Christian example, was extended to a
whole month — the more important of the dietary
laws, and the "kiblah " (direction in which one turns
during prayer) toward Jerusalem, which was subse-
quently changed to the kiblah toward Mecca. But
the longer Mohammed studied the Jews the more
clearly he perceived that there were irreconcilable
differences between their religion and his, especially
when the belief in his prophetic mission became the
criterion of a true Moslem.

The Jews, on their side, could not let pass unchal-
lenged the waj' in which the Koran appropriated
Biblical accounts and personages; for instance, its
making Abraham an Arab and the founder of the
Ka'bah at Mecca. The propliet, who looked upon
every evident correction of his gospel as an attack
upon his own reputation, brooked no contradiction,
and unhesitatingly threw down the
Relation gauntlet to the Jews. Numerous pas-
te Jews, sages in the Koran show how he grad-
ually went from slight thrusts to mali-
cious vituperations and brutal attacks on the customs
and beliefs of the Jews. When they justified them-
selves by referring to the Bible, Mohammed, who
had taken nothing therefrom at first hand, ac-
cused them of intentionally concealing its true
meaning or of entirely misunderstanding it, and
taunted them with being "asses who carry books"
(sura Ixii. 5). The increasing bitterness of this
vituperation, which was similarly directed against
the less numerous Christians of Medina, indicated
that in time Mohammed would not hesitate to pro-
ceed to actual hostilities. The outbreak of the lat-
ter was deferred by the fact that the hatred of the
prophet was turned more forcibly in another direc-
tion, namely, against the people of Mecca, whose
earlier refusal of Islam and whose attitude toward the
community appeared to him at Medina as a personal
insult which constituted a sufficient cause for war.
The Koran, in order to lead its adherents to the be-
lief that side by side with the humane precepts of
religion were others commanding religious war ("ji-
had "), even to the extent of destroying liuman life,
had to incorporate a number of passages enjoining
with increasing emphasis the faithful to take up the
sword for their faith. The earlier of these passages
enunciated only the right of defensive action, but
later ones emphasized the duty of taking the oflfen-




sive against unbelievers — i.e., in tlie tirst place,
Ihe people of Mecca — until they siioukl accept the
new faith or be annihilated. The prophet's pol-
icy, steadily pursuing one object, and hesitating at
no means to achieve it, soon actualized this new

Q. H. G.

Mohanuried's tirst attacks upon the Meccaus were
of a predatory nature, made upon the caravans,
which, as all classes had a tinancial interest in them,
were the very life of the city. The
First early expeditions were of compara-
ZElaids. tively little importance; and the bat-
tle of Badr in the second year of tlie
Hegira was the tirst encounter of really great mo-
ment. In this battle the Moslems were successful
and killed nearly 11 ft}' of the Kuraish, besides taking
prisoners. This battle was of supreme importance
in the history of Islam. The prophet had preached
the doctrine that war against the unbelievers was a
religious duty ; and now he could claim that God
was on his side. His power was consolidated ; the
faith of the wavering was strengthened ; and his
opponents were terrified. The die was cast; Islam
was to be a religion of conquest with the sword.
After the battle of Badr, Mohammed dared to mani-
fest his hostility to the Jews openly. A Jewess,
named Asm.\, who had written satirical verses on
the battle of Badr, was assassinated, by command
of Mohammed, as she lay in bed with her child at
the breast. The murderer was publicly commended
the next day by the prophet. A few weeks later
Abu 'Afak, a Jewish poet whose verses had similarly
otfended, was likewise murdered. It is said that
Mohammed had expressed a desire to be rid of him.
These were single instances. The prophet soon
found a pretext for attacking in a body the Banu
Kainuka', one of the three intiuential Jewish tribes
at Medina. They were besieged in their stronghold
for fifteen days, and finally surrendered. Moham-
med was prevented from putting them all to death
only by the insistent pleading in their behalf of
Abdallah b. Ubai, the influential leader of the op-
position whom Mohammed did not dare offend. In-
stead, the whole tribe was banished, and its goods
were confiscated. The prophet was thus enabled to
^ive material benefits to his followers.

Medina now enjoyed a few months of comparative
quiet, disturbed only by a few unimportant maraud-
ing expeditions. The third year of the Hegira was
marked by the assassination of a third Jewish poet,
Ka'b b. al-Ashraf, who by his verses
Death to had stirred up the Kuraish at Mecca
Jewish against Moiiammed. The propliet
Poets. prayed to be delivered from him; and
there was no lack of men eager to ex-
ecute his wishes. The circumstances attending the
murder were particularly revolting. At about the
same time a Jewish merchant, Abu Sanina by name,
was murdered, and the Jews complained to Moham-
med of such treacherous dealing. A new treaty
was concluded with them, which, however, did not
greatly allay tiicir fears. Some months after these
events (Jan., r)2o) occurred the battle of Uhud, in
which the Meccans took revenge for their defeat at
Badr. Seventy-four Moslems were killed in the

fight; Mohammed himself was badly wounded; and
the prophet's prestige was .seriously affected. The
Jews were especiall}' jubilant, declaring that if lie
had claimed Badr to be a mark of divine favor,
Chud, by the same process of reasoning, must be a
proof of disfavor. Various answers to these doubts
and arguments may be found in the Koran, sura iii.

Moiiammed now needed some opportunity to re-
cover his prestige and to make up for the disap-
pointment of Uhud. He found it the next year in
an attack upon tlie Banu al-Napiu,

Attacks another of theinfiuential Jewish tribes
the Banu in the vicinity of Medina. A pre-

al-Na( text was easily invented. Mohammed
had visited tiie settlement of the tribe
to discuss the amount of blood-money to be paid for
the murder of two men by an ally of the Jews, when
he suddenly left the gathering and went home. He
is said by some to have declared that the angel
Gabriel had revealed to him a plot of the Banu al-
Nadir to kill him as he sat among them. The latter
were immediately informed that they must leave
the vicinity. They refused to obey ; and Moham-
med attacked their stronghold. After a siege last-
ing more than a fortnight, and after their date-trees
had been cut down — contrary to Arabian ethics of
war — the Jewish tribe surrendered and was allowed
to emigrate with all its possessions, on condition of
leaving its arms behind (Sprenger, " Das Leben des
Mohammad," iii. 163; " Allg. Zeit. des Jud." pp. 58,
92). The rich lands thus left vacant were distrib-
uted among the refugees who had fled with Mo-
hammed from Mecca and who had hitherto been
more or less of a burden on the hospitality of the
people of Medina. The prophet was thus able both
to satisfy his hatred against the Jewsand materially
to strengthen his po.sition.

In the fifth year of the Hegira tjie Banu Kuraiza,
the last Jevvish tribe remaining in the neighborhood
of Medina, were disposed of. Again the direct cause
for attack was a matter of policy. The Kuraish of
Mecca, whose caravans were constantly being har-
assed by the Moslems and by other disaffected tribes
including the Jews, had formed the project of uni-
ting their forces against Mohammed. Tlie leader of
this enterprise was the able and vigorous Abu Suf-
yan of Mecca. The allies encamped before Medina

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 159 of 169)