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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fending Mendelssohn and the haskalah. Gottlober
himself contributed character sketches of the Hasi-
dim, while the gifted writer R. A. Braudes began in
its pages his novel " Ha-Dat weha-Hayyim, " in which
he depicts with masterly hand the struggle for the
union of life and faith. Even America boasted a
Hebrew journal, "Ha-Zofeh be-Erez Nod,'' pub-
lished by Sobel. A converted Jew, Salkinson, pro-
duced an admirable Hebrew translation of Shake-
speare and of Milton, and the socialist Freiman
published a review iu Hebrew entitled " Ha-Emet "
Q878). More important, however, was the great
work by I. H. Weiss, "Dor Dor we-Dorshaw,"
dealing with the evolution of religious tradition.
The sciences were taken up by H. Rabbinowitz,
Pories, S. Sachs, Reifman, Harkavy, Gurland, J.
Halevy, A. Epstein, Zweifel, Popirna, Buber, etc.
Even the style was modernized, although the
melizah did not disappear, as is seen' by the Avritings
of Schulraan, Friedberg, and others.

Smolenskin's ideas bore fruit. With the return
of the national ideal, Hebrew as the national lan-
guage was again revived. Leon Gordon's literary
jubilee was enthusiastically celebrated In St. Peters-
burg, and after his return from a journey through
Russia in 1880, he was everywhere received as the
national author, even by the students of the capi-
tals. The appearance of anti-Semitism, the renewed
persecutions, and the terrible years 1881 and 1882
finally destroj'ed the ideals of the haskalah, whose
last Hebrew followers were forced to admit that
Smolenskin was right.

When the first colonies in Palestine had been
founded, and there existed no longer a belief in the
possibility of religious reform without an upheaval
of Judaism as a whole, it was commonly admitted
that the work of Israel's national rebirth should be
encouraged. The Hebrew press undertook espe-
cially to support the " Hobebe Ziyyon " (Chovevei
Zion), as the Zionists were then called. Hebrew
modern literature, which for a century had been
progressive and secularizing, now became the in-
strument of patriotic propaganda. Often those
who had formerly advocated reforms now urged the
abandonment of modern ideas in order to conciliate
the masses. Smolenskin alone did not abandon his
civilizing mission, and remained a progressive real-
ist. He finally succumbed to overwork and died in
1885. On his death " Ha-Shahar " ceased publica-
tion, just one century after the appearance of "Ha-
Me'assef " (1785). This was the end of the haskalah.

It now gave place to Zionism, which was at first
hesitating, but gradually arose to the realization and
assertion of its full strength.

The changing attitude in the profession of failh
among Hebrew scholars and the young men who
had returned to the national ideal and
Contempo- to the prophetic dreams was of advan-
rary Lit- tage to Hebrew, which now came to
erature be considered as the national language
(1885- of the Jewish people and the tie
1904). uniting the Jews of all countries.
While E. Ben-Judah at Jerusalem,
through personal e.xample and through propaganda
in his journal " Ha-Zebi," restored Hebrew as a liv-
ing language in Palestine, there was an increasing
demand for Hebrew books in Russia, and the mod-
ernized Jews became ambitious to cultivate the na-
tional language. The success of the great literary
collection " Ha-Asif " (edited by the writer N. Soko-
low), which succeeded "Ha-Shahar," soon called
forth other publications, noteworthy among which
was the Zionistic work " Keucset Yisrael " by the
historian S. P. Rabbinowitz, and the more scientific
"Ozar ha-Sifnit."

In 1886 L. Kantor began the publication of " Ha-
Yom," the first Hebrew daily paper; and soon after
•' Ha-Meliz " and " Ha-Zefirah " were
Daily changed into dailies. A political
Press. press, also, was established, and con-
tributed largely to the propagation of
Zionism and to the modernization of Hebrew style.
The founding of two large publishing-houses (the
•' Ahiasaf " and " Tushiyyah "), through the efforts
of Ben-Avigdou, finally regulated the conditions
for the progress of Hebrew, and created a class of
paid writers. Journals, more than other forms of
literature, are multiplying, and there are a number
even in America.

Literar}' activity was resumed after a short inter-
val, now on an entirely national basis and in agree-
ment with the man}'^ needs of a nationalist group.
All the branches of letters, science, and art were
assiduously cultivated, without neglecting the re-
nascence of the Jewish people in the land of their
fathers. In the field of poetry, besides Mandelkern
and Gottlober, both converted to Zionism, are to be
found Dolitzky, author of Zionistic songs describing
the miseries of the Russian Jews; the two Zionist
poets Isaac Rabinowitz and Sarah Shapira, and the
gifted lyric poet M. H. JIane, who died at an early
age. Perhaps the most noteworthj^ was C. A. Sha-
pira, an eminent lyric poet, who, embittered by in-
dignation, introduced a new note into Hebrew po-
etry — hatred of persecution. There is, finally, N.
H. Imber, the poet of renascent Palestine and the
author of popular songs. Bialik is a l}-ric poet of
much vigor, an incomparable stylist, and a romanti-
cist of note, while his younger contemporary Saul
Tschernichowsky is proceeding along new lines, in-
troducing pure estheticism, the cult of beauty and
of love, in the language of the Prophets. The most
gifted among the younger poets are S. L. Gordon,
N. Pines, A. Lubochitzky, Kaplan, Lipschiitz, and
A. Cohan.

In the field of belles-lettres Ben-Avigdor is the
creator of the new realistic movement; this he ex-




pounds in his psycliologic stories and especially in his
"Menaheni lia-Sofer," in wliich lie attacks, in the
name of modern life, national chauvinism. Braudes
became prominent as a romanticist. The aged A. J.
Abramowitsch, who has returnetl to Hebrew, de-
lights his readers by his artistic satires. I. L. Perez
has in his songs, as in his poetry, a tendency toward
symbolism. M. J. Berdyczewski attempts to intro-
duce Nietzschian individualism into his stories and
articles. Feierberg expresses the sull'i-rings of a
young scholar seeking truth. Goldin is a pleasing
but sentimental writer of stories. Bershadsky is an
outspoken realist and close observer. Others deserv-
ing mention are: J. liabinovitz ; Turov ; A. S. Ra-
binovitz; Epstein; Asch ; J.Steinberg; Goldberg;
Brener; the Galicians Silberbusch and Samueli; the
poet and prose-writer David Frischman, the transla-
tor of "Cain"; J. Ch. Taw jew, who is a distinguished
feuilletonist and writer on pedagogics; A. L. Le-
vinsky, the story-teller, author of a Zionist Utopia
("Travels in Palestine in 5800"); and J. L. Landau,
the only dramatic poet. As Landau is a poet rather
than a psychologist, his " Herod " and other plays
are not intended for the theater. The Orientalist
Joseph Halevy has published a volume of patriotic

The reaction of 1890 in the work of colonizing
Palestine and the evident necessity of taking some
steps to meet such a reaction produced the work
of "Ahad ha-' Am" (Asher Ginzberg). He is no-
tably a critic of manners; and in the name of pure
ideology he attacked first actual colonization and
then political Zionism. Judaism before everything,
and not the Jews; a moral and spiritual, not an
economic and a political center; a national ideal ta-
king the place of faith — such, in the rough, is the
idea of this acute and paradoxical publicist. A
number of young men, influenced by his collection
"Ha-Pardes" and the review " Ila-Shiloah," found-
ed by him and continued by Klausner, have fol-
lowed in his lead. Quite opposite in tendencies is
Zeeb Ya'bez, the editor of "Ha-Mizrah,"a remarka-
ble stylist and religious romanticist. L. Rabiuovitz,
the director of "Ha-Meliz," in his articles "Ha-
Yerushshah weha-Hinnuk"al80 shows himself to be
a defender of Jewish tradition, while Ben-Judah, the
author of " Hashkafah " (Jerusalem), constantly op-
poses obscurantism. N. Sokolow. by the power of
his genius, forces Hebrew and modern ideas even
upon the Hasidim. The critic Reuben Brainin is a
close observer, an admirable stylist, and a charming
story-teller. The historian S. Berufeld is a scholarly
popularizer of Jewisli science.

Pedagogies and juvenile literature also have their
periodicals and worthy representatives. Among
these are: Lerner, S. L. Gordon, Madame Ben-Judah,
Yellin, Grosovsky, and Berman. Many scholars
have devoted themselves to science, as the late phi-
losopher F. Mises; the grammarian J. Steinberg,
who is an aditiirable writer; the anatomist, archeolo-
gist, and author of ])oi)idar stories Katzenclenson ;
Neimark; and Hurvitz. There are. in addition,
many translators and compilers who have rendered
into Hebrew Longfellow, Mark Twain. Zola, and
even De Maupassant ; and this work is being actively
carried forward. There is a steady increase in tlie

number of daily and weekly journals, all of which,
though Zionistic, are none the progressive.
With the emigration of the Russian Jews to foreign
countries, Hebrew is tinding new centers. In 1904
a course in modern Hebrew literature was instituted
at the Soibonne. Palestine is in a fair way to
become the home of Hebrew as a living language,
and in America and in England there are ninnerous
publications in Hel)rew. Even in the Far East, He-
brew books and periodicals are to be foimd in in-
creasing numbers, stimulating national and social
regeneration. But it must be remembered that the
future of Hebrew is intimately connected with Zion-
ism, which is accepted by the masses only by reason
of the ideal of national renascence. Faithful to its
Biblical mission, the Hebrew language alone is able
to revive moral vigor and prophetic idealism, which
have never failed where the sacred language has
been preserved.

Bibliography: N. Schlomz, La Renaissance de la Littera-
ture Hihraique, Vh-I-IHHC, Paris, 19()3; R. Brainin, Mapu,
Smolensky (in Hebrew i, Warsaw; S. Bernfeld, Dor Haham,
Warsaw, 189«); idem, Da'at Elohim, ih. 1897-98; J. Klausner,
Hebrew Literature in the Nineteenth Centnru (in Rus-
sian); M. Mendelssohn, Pene TeheU Amsterdam, 1872.
G. N. Si,.

LITHUANIA (Russian or Polish, Litwa ; in
Jewish writings XtD^^) : Formerly a grand duchy,
politically connected more or less intimately with
Poland, and with the latter annexed to Russia.

Lithuania originally embraced only the way wode-
ships of Wilna and Troki; but in the thirteenth cen-
tury it augmented its territory at the expense of
the neighboring principalities and included the duchy
of Samogitia (Zhmud ; tS^DT)-

In the first half of the fourteenth century, when
Russia was already under the Tatar yoke, tiie Lith-
uanian grand duke Gedimin (1316-41) still further
increased liis possessions by family alliances and by
conquest until they came to embrace the territories
of Vitebsk, Kiev (1321), Minsk, etc. Under Olgerd
and Keistat, sons of Gedimin, the Russian principal-
ities of Chernigov- Syeversk, Podolia (1362), and
Volhynia (1377) were also added to Lithuania; and
the territory thus extended from the Baltic to the
Black Sea.

As early as the eighth century Jews lived in parts
of the Lithuanian territory. Beginning with that
period they conducted the trade between South Rus-
sia, i.e., Lithuania, and the Baltic, especially with
Danzig, Julin (Vineta or Wollin, in Pomerania),and
other cities on the Vistula, Oder, and Elbe (see Georg
Jacob, " Welche Ilandelsartikel Bezogen die Araber
des ]\Iittelalters aus Baltischen Landern?" p. 1).

When Duke Boleslaw I. of Poland sent Bishop
Adalbert of Prague in 997 to preach the Gospel to
the heathen Prussians (Lithuanians), the bishop com-
plained that Christian prisoners of war were sold
for l)ase money to .Jews, and that he was not able
to redeem them. Records, of that time, of
residents in Kikv are still extant. About the middle
of the twelfth century Rabbi Eliezer of Mayence
referred to some ritual customs of the Russian, i.e.,
Lithuanian, Jews (" Eben ha-'Ezer," p. 74a, Prague,
1710), and in the same century mention was made
also of Moses of Kiev. In the thirteenth century
Jews lived in Chernigov, Volhynia, and Smolensk.




Among them there were men of learning, as is evi-
denced by a manuscript in the Vatican Library
(Codex 300) dated 1094, and consisting of a com-
mentary on the Bible written in " Russia." Another
commentary, dated 1124, also written in Russia, is
preserved in Codex Oppenheim Additamenta, Quar.
No. 13, at present in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
About the same time there lived in Chernigov Itzk
(Isaac), wlio is probably identical with Isaac of Rus-
sia. In the lirst half of the fourteenth century there
lived in Toledo, Spain, a Talmudic scholar, Asher
ben Sinai, who came from Russia (Aslieri, Responsa,
part 51, No. 2; Ziuiz, " 'Ir ha-Zedek," p. 45). These
isolated cases do not prove, however, that Tal-
mudic learning had, at the period in question, become
widely diffused in the Lithuanian-Russian territory.
As Harkavy has pointed out, the individual efforts
of the Russian Talmudists to spread Jewish knowl-
edge did not meet with success until the sixteenth
century. In a letter Avritten by Eliezer of Bohemia
(1190) to Judah Hasid it is stated that in most places
in Poland, Russia, and Hungary there were no Tal-
mudic scholars, chiefly because of the poverty of
the Jews there, which compelled the communities to
secure the services of men able to discharge the three
functions of cantor, rabbi, and teacher ("'Or Za-
rua'," p. 40, § 113, Jitomir, 1862). These refer-
ences to Russia do not necessarily always apply
to Lithuania, since Galicia also was designated by
that name in Hebrew Avritings of the Middle Ages,
while the Muscovite territory of that time was
referred to as "Moskwa." The mention of the
name "Lita" first occurs in a responsum of the fif-
teenth century by Israel Isserlein. He refers to a
certain Tobiah who had returned from Gordita
(Grodno ?) in Lithuania, and states that " it is rare
for our people from Germany to go to Lithuania "
(Israel Bruna, Responsa, §§ 25, 73).

The origin of the Lithuanian Jews has been the
subject of much speculation. It is now almost
certain that they were made up of two distinct
streams of Jewish immigration. The older of the
two entered Lithuania by way of South Russia,
where Jews had lived in considerable numbers since
the beginning of the common era (see Armenia;
Bosporus; Crimea; Kertcii). The
Origin of fact that these had adopted the Rus-
Lithuanian sian language (the official language
Jews. of the Lithuanians) and the customs,
occupations, aud even the names of the
native population, serves to prove that they came
from the East rather than from western Europe.
The later stream of immigration originated in the
twelftli century and received an impetus from the
persecution of the German Jews by the Crusaders.
The blending of these two elements was not com-
plete even in the eighteenth century, differences
appearing at that time in proper names, in the pro-
nunciation of the Judoeo-German dialect, and even
in physiognomy.

The peculiar conditions that prevailed in Lithu-
ania compelled the first Jewish settlers to adopt a
different mode of life from that followed by their
western coreligionists. In the Lithuania of that
day there were no cities in the western sense of the
word, no Magdeburg Rights or close gilds.

Some of the cities which later became the im-
l)ortant centers of Jewish life in Lithuania were at
first mere villages. Grodno, one of the oldest, was
founded by a Russian ])rince, and is first mentione<i
in the chronicles of 1128. Novogrudok was founded
somewhat later by Yaroslav; Kerlov in 1250; Vo-
riita and Twiremet in 1252; Eiragola in 1262; Gol-
schany and Kovuo in 1280; Telsbi, Wilua, Lida,
and froki in 1320.

With the cani]iaign of Gedimin and his subjec-
tion of Kiev and Volhynia (1320-21) the Jewish in-
habitants of these territories were induced to spread
throughout the northern provinces of the grand
duchy. The probable importance of the southern
Jews in the development of Lithuania is indi-
cated by their niuncrical prominence in Volhynia
in the thirteenth century. According to an annal-
ist who describes the funeral of the grand duke
Vladimir Vasilkovich in the city of Vladimir (Vol-
hynia), " the Jews wept at his funeral as at the fall
of Jerusalem, or when being led into the Babylonian
captivity." This sympathy and the record thereof
would seem to indicate that long before the event
in question the Jews had enjoyed considerable pros-
perity and influence, and this gave them a certain
standing under the new regime. They took an act-
ive part in the development of the new cities un-
der the tolerant rule of Gedimin.

Little is known of the fortunes of the Lithuanian
Jews during the troublous times that followed the
death of Gedimin and the accession of his grand-
son Witold (1341). To the latter the Jews owed
a charter of privileges which was
The momentous in the subsequent history

Charter of the Jews of Lithuania. The docu-
of 1388. ments granting privileges first to the
Jews of Brest (July 1, 1388) and later
to those of Troki, Grodno (1389), Lutsk, Vladimir,
and other laige towns are the earliest documents to
recognize the Lithuanian Jews as possessing a dis-
tinct organization. The gathering together of the
scattered Jewish settlers in suflScient numbers and
with enough power to form such an organization
and to obtain privileges from their Lithuanian rulers
implies the lapse of considerable time. The Jews
who dwelt in smaller towns and villages were not in
need of such privileges at this time, as Harkavy
suggests, and the mode of life, the comparative
Boverty, and the ignorance of Jewish learning among
the Lithuanian Jews retarded their intercommunal
organization. But powerful forces hastened this or-
ganization toward the close of the fourteenth cen-
tury. The chief of these was probably the coopera-
tion of the Jews of Poland with their Lithuanian
brethren. After the death of Casimir the Great
(1370), the condition of the Polish Jews changed for
the worse. The influence of the Catholic clergy at
the Polish court grew ; Louis of Anjou Avas indiffer-
ent to the welfare of his subjects, and his eagerness
to convert the Jews to Christianity, together with
the increased Jewish immigration from Germany,
caused the Polish Jews to become apprehensive for
their future. On this account it seems more than
likely that influential Polish Jews cooperated with
the leading Lithuanian communities in securing a
special charter from Witold.




The preamble of the charter reads as follows :

" In the name of God, Amen. All deeds of men, when they
are not made known by the testimony of witnesses or in wri-
ting, pass away and vanish and are forgotten. Therefore, we,
Alexander, also called Wiiold, by the grace of God Grand Duke
of Lithuania and ruler of Brest, Dorogicz, Lutsk, Vladimir, and
other places, make known by this charter to the present and
future generations, or to whomever it may concern to know or
hear of it, that, after due deliberation with our nobles we have
derided to grant to all the Jews living in our domains the rights
and liberties mentioned in the following charter."

has loaned money to a Christian, but has no witnesses to prove
it, the latter may clear himself by taking an oath. (5) Jews
may make loans on any personal property except blood-stained
articles or articles employed in religious service. (6) Where a
Christian asserts that an article pawned to a Jew has been
stolen from a Christian, the Jew, after swearing that he was
ignorant of the robbery, is relieved of responsibility to the
owner of the article, and need not return it until the sum ad-
vanced by him, with the interest, has been repaid. (7) Where
a Jew loses pawned property by Are or robbery he is relieved
from responsibility for articles so lost if he takes an oath that
such articles were lost together with his own. (8) A suit be-


The charter contains thirty-seven sections, which
may be summarized as follows:

(1) In criminal or other cases Involving the person or property
of a Jew, the latter can not be convicted on the testimony of one
Christian witness : there must be two witnesses— a Christian and
a Jew. (2) Where a Christian asserts that he has placed an
article In pawn with a Jew. and the Jew denies It. the latter
may clear himself by taking the prescribed oath. (3) Where a
Christian claims that he has pawned an article with a Jew for a
sum less than that claimed by the latter, the Jew's claim shall be
allowed If he take the usual oath. (4) Where a Jew claims he

tween Jews may not be decided by a city judge, but must he
submitted In the first Instance to the jurisdiction of the subway-
wode, in the second Instance to the waywode, and Qnally to the
king. Important criminal cases are subject to the jurisdiction
of the king alone. (9) A Christian found guilty of inflicting
wounds upon a Jewess must pay a fine U> the king and damages
and expenses U) the victim. In accordance with the local regular
tlons. (10) A Christian murdering a Jew shall be punished by
the proper court and his posses-slons confiscated to the king.

(11) A Christian inflicting injuries upon a Jew, but without
shedding blood, shall be punished in accordance with local law.

(12) A Jew may travel without hindrance within the limits of




the cpuntry, and wlicii lie ciiniis iiicrcliiiiKli>e lie shall pay the
same ilutit'.s as the local ImiKlit'is. UJi) Jews may tratispDit the
bodies of their dead free of taxation. (14) A Christian injuring a
Jewish cemetery shall he punished in accordance with the local
law and his i)roperty ((jnUscated. (1;")) Any person throwinp
stones into the synagogue shall pay to the waywode a line of two
pounds. (10) A Jew failing to pay to the judge the One called
"wandil" shall pay the anciently established tine. (IT) Any
Jew not appearing in court after being twice summoned shall
pay the customary line. (18i A Jew inflicting wounds on an-
other Jew shall be fined in accordance with local custom. (19)
A Jew may take an oath on the Old Testament in important
cases only, as where the claim e.\ceeds in value fifty "griven "
of pure silver, or where the case is brought before the king.
(20) Where a Christian is suspected of killing a Jew, though
there were no witnesses, and the relatives of the victim de-
clare their suspicion, the king is to give the Jews an execu-
tioner for the accused. (21) Where a Christian assaults a
Jewess he shall be punished according to local usage. (22)
A subwaywode may not summon Jews to his court except on
a regular complaint. (23) In cases concerning Jews the court
is to sit either in the synagogue or in a place selected by
the Jews. (24) Where a Christian pays the sura advanced
to him on any article when due, but omits to pay the interest,
he shall be given a written extension of time, after which
the sum unpaid shall be subject to Interest until paid.
(2.5) The houses of Jews are free from military quartering. (26)
When a Jew advances to a noble a sum of money on an estate,
the Jew is entitled, if the loan be not repaid on maturity, to the
possession of the property, and shall be protected in its posses-
sion. (27) A person guilty of stealing a Jewish child shall be
punished as a thief . (28) If the value of an article pawned with
a Jew by a Christian for a period less than a year does not ex-
ceed the amount advanced upon It, the pawnbroker, after taking
the article to his waywode, may sell it ; but If the article is of
greater value than the sum advanced the Jew shall be obliged
to keep it for a further period of one year and one day, at the
expiration of which time he shall become Its possessor. (29) No
person may demand the return of pawned property on Jewish
holy days. (30) Any Christian forcibly taking an article pawned
with a Jew, or entering a Jewish house against the wish of Its
owner, shall be subject to the same punishment as a person
stealing from the common treasury. (31) To summon a Jew to
appear in court Is allowed only to the king or the waywode.
(32) Since the papal bulls show that Jews are forbidden by their

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 31 of 169)