Isidore Singer.

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Shabbethai at once made the acquaintance of Ra-
phael Joseph, who, being possessed by eccentric,
mystic ideas, became one of the most zealous pro-
mulgators of his Messianic plans.

It seems, liowever, that Cairo did not appear to
Shabbethai to be the proper place wherein to carry
out liis long-cherished scheme. The apocalyptic
3'ear 1666 was approaching; and something had to
be done to establish his jMessiahship. He therefore
left the Egyptian capital and betook himself to Jeru-
salem, hoping that in the Holy City a miracle might
happen to confirm his pretensions. Arriving there
about 1663, he at first remained inactive, so as not

to offend the community.
He again resorted to his
former practise of morti-
fying the body by fre-
quent fasting and other
penances in order to gain
the confidence of the peo-
ple, who saw therein proofs
of extraordinary piety.
With great shrewdness he
adopted also various
means of an inoffensive
character which helped
him to endear himself to
the credulous masses. Be-
ing endowed with a very
melodious voice, he used
to sing psalms during
the whole night, or at
times even coarse Span-
ish love-songs, to which
he gave a mystic inter-
pretation, attracting
thereby crowds of ad-
miring listeners. At other
times he would pray at the
graves of pious men and
women and, as some of his
followers reported, shed
floods of tears, or he
would distribute all sorts of sweetmeats to the chil-
dren on tlie streets. Thus he graduall}^ gathered
around him a circle of adiierents, who blindly placed
their faith in him.

At this juncture an unexpected incident brought
him back to Cairo. The community of Jerusalem
needed money in order to avert a calamity which
greedy Turkish officials planned against it. Shab-
bethai, known as the favorite of the rich Raphael
Joseph Halabi, was chosen as the envoy of the
distressed community; and he willingly undertook
the task, as it gave him an opportunity to act as
the deliverer of the Holy City. As soon as he ap-
jieared before Halabi he obtained from him the nec-
essary sum. a success which gave him great prestige
and offered the best prospects for his future Mes-
sianic i>lans. His worshipers indeed dated his pub-
lic career from tiiis second journey to Cairo.

Another circumstance assi.sted Shabbethai in the
course of liis second stay at Cairo. During the



Shabbethai Zebi

CnMiELNiCKi massacres in Poland a Jewish orphan
girl named Sarah, about six years old, had been
found by Christians and sent to a nunnery. After
ten years' confinement she escaped in a miraculous
way and was brought to Amsterdam. Some yeais
later she came to Leghorn, where, ae-
Marries cording to authentic reports, she led
Sarah. an irrcirular life. Being of a very ec-
centric disposition, siie conceivecl the
notion that she was to become the bride of tlie Mes-
siah who was soon to ajijieur. The report of this
girl reached Caiio; and Shabbethai, always looking
for something unusual and impressive, at once


SbabbetUai Zebi Kiitliniiied.

(From the title-page of '* Tikkun," Amsterdam, 1666.)

seized upon the opportunity and claimed that such
a consort had been promised him in a dream. Mes-
sengers were sent to Leghorn; and Sarah was
brought to Cairo, where she was wedded to Siiab-
bethai in Halalii's house. Tiirough her a romantic,
licentious element entered into Shabbethai's career.
Her beauty and eccentricity gained for him many
new followers; and even her past lewd life was
looked upon as an additional confirmation of ins
Messiahship, the projjliet Hosea having been com-
manded to marry an unchaste woman.

Equipped with Halabi's money, possessed of a
charming wife, and having many additional fol-

lowers, Shabbethai triumphantly returned to Pales-
tine. Passing through the city of Gaza, he met a
man who was to become very active in his subsc-
([Ucnt jMessianic career. This was Nathan Benja-
min Levi, known under the name of Nathan Gii.\z-
z.vTi. He became Shal)bethai's right-hand man, and
l)rofessed to be tlie risen Elijah, the precursor of the
]\Ie.ssiah. In 1605 Gliazzati announced that the Mes-
sianic age was to begin in the following year. This
revelation he proclaimed in writing far and wide,
witli many additional details to the elTect that tlie
world would be conquered by him,

Nathan the Elijah, without bloodshed; that
Ghazzati. the JMessiah Avould then lead back the
Ten Tribes to tlie Holy Land, "riding
on a lion with a seven-headed dragon in its jaws";
and similar fantasies. All these grotesque absurdi-
ties received wide cicdence.

The rabbis of the Holy City, however, looked
with much suspieion on *he movement, and threat-
ened its followers with excommunication. Shab-
bethai, realizins; that Jerusalem was not a congenial
place in which to carry out his plans, left for his
native city, Smyrna, while his prophet, Nathan,
proclaimed that henceforth Gaza, and not Jerusalem,
would be the .sacred city. On his way from
lem to Smyrna, Shabbethai was enthusiastically
greeted in the large Asiatic community of Aleppo;
and at Smyrna, wjiich he reached in the autumn of
1665, the greatest homage was paid to him. Fi-
nally, after some hesitation, he publicly declared
himself as the exiieeted ^Messiah (New-Year, 1665);
the declaration was made in the synagogue, with the
blowing of horns, and the nuiltitude greeted him
with " Long live our King, our ]\Iessiali ! "

The delirious joy of his followers knew no bounds.

Shabbethai, assisted by his wife, now liecame the

sole ruler of the communily. In this

Proclaimed capaeit}' he used his power to crush

Messiah, all opposition. For instance, he de-
posed the old rabbi of Smyrna, Aaron
Lapapa, and appointed in his place Hayyim Ben-
VRNiSTE. His popularity grew with incredible
rapidity, as not only Jews, but Clnistians also,
spread his story far and wide. His fame extended
to all countries. Italy, Germany, and Holland had
centers where the Mes.sianic movement was ardently
promulgated; and tlie Jews of Hamburg and Am-
sterdam received confirmation of the extraordinary
events in Snivrna from trustworthy Christians. A
distinguished German savant, Ileinrieh Oldenburg,
wrote to Spinoza ("Spinoza3 Epistola-," No. 16):
•'All the world here is talking of a rumor of the re-
turn of the Israelites ... to their own country.
. . . Should the news be confirmed, it may bring
about a revohition in all things." Even Spinoza
himself entertained the possibility that with this
favorable opportunity the Jews might reestablish
their kingdom and again be the chosen of God.

Among the many prominent rabbis of tiiat time
who were followers of Sliabbethai may be mentioned
Isaac da Fonseca Aboah, Moses Raphael de Ar.ui-
i.AR, Moses Gai.antk, Moses Zacuto, and the above-
mentioned Hayyim Benveniste. Even the semi-
Spinozist Dionysius Mtssafia (Musaphia) likewise
became his zealous adherent. The most fanta.stic re-

Shabbethai Zebi



ports were spread in all communities, and were ac-
cepted as truth even by otherwise dispassionate men,
as, for instance, " that in tlicnortli of Scotland a ship
had appeared Avith silken sailsand ropes, manned by
sailors who spoke Hebrew. The flag bore the in-
scription ' The Twelfe Tribes of Israel.' " The com-
munity of Avignon, France, prepared, therefore, to
emigrate to the new kingdom in the spring of 1666.
The adherents of Shabbethai, probably with his
consent, even planned to abolisii to a great extent
the litualistic observances, because.
Spread of according to a tradition, in the Messi-
Influence. anic time most of them were to lose
their obligatory character. The
step toward the disintegration of traditional Judaism
was the changing of the fast of the Tenth of Tebet
to a day of feasting and rejoicing. Samuel,

i-habbetlaai Zebi iti Festive At,tire.

(From an o!d print.)

a man who entered Shabbethai 's service as secre-
tary at the time when the latter left Jerusalem for
Smyrna, directed in the name of the Messiah the fol-
lowing circular to the whole of Israel:

"The flrst-bepotten Son of (iod, Stiabbethaj Zebi, Messiah and
Redeemer of the people of Israel, to all thesonsof Israel, Peace !
Since ye have been deemed worthy to behold the great day and
the fulfilment of God's word by the Prophets, your lament and
sorrow must be changed into joy, and your fasting into merri-
ment; for ye shall weep no more. Rejoice with song and mel-
ody, and change the day formerly spent in sadness and sorrow
into a day of jubilee, because I have appeared."

This message produced wild excitement and dissen-
sion in the communities, as many of the pious ortho-
dox rabbis, who had hitherto regarded the move-
ment syinpatheticalfy, were shocked at these radical
innovations. Solomon Ai.gazf, a prominent Tal-
mudist of Smyrna, and other members of the rabbin-
ate, who opposed the abolition of the fast, narrowly
escaped -wit li their lives.



At the beginning of the year 1666 Shabbethai
again left Smyrna for Constantinople, either because
he was compelled to do so by the city
authorities or because of a desire and.
a hope that a miracle would happen
in the Turkish capital to fulfil the
prophecy of Nathan Ghazzati, that
Shabbethai would place tlie sultan's crown on hi&
own head. As soon as he reached the landing-
place, however, he was arrested at the command of
the grand vizier, Ahmad Koprili, and cast into prison
in chains. An under-pasha, commissioned to receive
Shabbethai on the ship, welcomed him with a vigor-
ous box on the ear. When this official was asked,
later to explain liis conduct, he attempted to exon-
erate himself by blaming the Jews for having pro-
claimed Shabbethai as their Messiah against his own

Shabbethai's imprisonment, however, had no dis-
couraging effect either on him or on his followers.
On the contrary, the lenient treatment which he se-
cured by means of bribes served rather to strengthen
them in their Messianic delusions. In the meantime
all sorts of fabulous reports concerning the miracu-
lous deeds which tlie Messiah was performing in the
Turkish capital were spread by Ghazzati and Primo
among the Jews of Smyrna and in many other com-
munities; and the expectations of the Jews were
raised to a still higher pitch.

After two months' imprisonment in Constantino-
ple, Shabbetiiai was brought to the state prison in
the castle of Abydos. Here he was treated very
leniently, some of his friends even being allowed to
accompany him. In consequence the Shabbetha-
ians called that fortress "Migdal 'Oz " (Tower of
Strength). As the day on which he was brought
to Abydos was the day preceding Passover, he slew
a paschal lamb for himself and his followers and ate
it with its fat, which was a violation of the Law.
It is said that he pronounced over it the benediction
"Blessed 1k' God who hath restored again that which
was forbidden." The immense sums sent to him by
his rich adherents, the charms of the cjueenly Sarah,
and the reverential admiration shown him even by
the Turkish officials and the inhabitants of the place
enabled Shabbethai to display royal splendor in the
castle of Abydos, accounts of which were exagger-
ated and spread among Jews in Europe, Asia, and
Africa. In some parts of Europe Jews began to un-
roof their houses and prepare for the
exodus. In almost all synagogues
Shabbethai's initials, "S. Z.," were
posted ; and prayers for him were in-
serted in the following form: "Bless
our Lord and King, the holy and righteous Shab-
bethai Zebi, the Messiah of the God of Jacob." In
Hamburg the council introduced this custom of
praying for Shabbethai not only on Saturday, but
also on Monday and Thursday; and unbelievers
were compelled to remain in thes\-nagogueand join
in the prayer with a loud "Amen." Shabbethai's
picture was printed together with that of King
David in most of the prayer-books; and his caba-
listic formulas and penances were embodied therein.
These and similar innovations caused great dissen-
sions in various communities. In Moravia the ex-

At Abydos





Shabbethai ^ebl

citement reached such a pitch that tlie government
had to interfere, while at Sale, Africa, the emir or-
dered a persecution of the Jews. This state of affairs
lasted three months (April to JuljO, during which
time Shabbethai 's adherents busied themselves in
sending forged letters to deceive their brethren in dis-
tant communities. It was also during this period that
Shabbethai, in a general desire for innovations aim-

couutry a prophet, Nehemiah ha-Kohen, had an-
nounced the coming of the JMessiah. Shabbethai
ordered the prophet to appear before
Nehemiah him (but see Jew. Encyc, ix. 212a,
ha-Kohen. *■.». Nehk.miah iia-Koiien) ; and Nehe-
miah obeyed, reaching Abydos after a
journey of three months, in the beginning of Sept.,
1666. The conference between the two impostors

Jews of Salonica Doing Penance During the Shabbethai Zebi Agitation.

(From " Ketzer Geschichte," 1701, in the possession of George Alexander Kohut. New York.)

ing at the abrogation of all laws and customs, trans-
formed the fasts of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and
the Ninth of Ab (his birthday) into feast-days; and
it is said that lie contemplated even the abolition of
the Day of Atonement.

At this time an incident happened which resulted
in discrediting Shabbethai's Messiahship. Two
prominent Polish Talmudistsfrom Lemberg, Galicia,
who were among the visitors of Shabbethai in Aby-
dos, apprised him of the fact that in their native

ended in mutual dissatisfaction, and the fanatical
Shabbethaians are said to have contemplated the
secret murder of the dangerous rival. Nehemiah,
however, escaped to Constantinople, where lie em-
braced Mohammedanism and betrayed the treasona-
ble desires of Shabbethai to the kaimakam, who in
turn informed the sultan, ]SIohammed IV. At the
command of Mohammed, Shabbethai was now taken
from Abydos to Adrianople, where the sultan's phj'-
sician, a former Jew, advised Shabbethai*to embrace

Shabbethai Zebi



Islam as the only meaus of saving his life. Shab-
bethai realized the danger of his situation and
adopted the physician's advice. On the following
day (Sept. 16, 1660; conip. Buchlcr in
Adopts "Kaufinann Gedenkbueh," p. 453,
Islam. note 2, Breslau, 1900), being i)rought
before the sidtau, he cast ofE his Jew-
ish garb and put a Turkish turban on his head; and
llnis Ins conversion to Islam was accomplished.

The effects of the pseudo-Messiah's conversion on
the Jewish communities Avere extremely dishearten-
ing. Prominent rubbis who were believers in and
followers of Shabbethai were prostrated by com-
punction and shame. Among the masses of the
people the greatest confusion reigned. In addition
to the misery and disappointment from within, Mo-
hammedans and Christians jeered at and scorned
the credulous and duped Jews. The sultan even pur-


Shabbkthai Zebi a Priso.nkr at Abydos.

' Ketzer Gfcschichte,*' 1701, in the possession of Georpe Alexander Kohut, New York.)

The sultan was much pleased, and rewarded Shab-
bethai by conferring on him the title (I\Iahmed)
''Effendi" and appointing him as ins doorkeeper
with a liigh salary. Saraband a number of Shab-
bethai 's followers also went over to Islam. To
complete his acceptance of Mohammedanism, Shab-
betliai was ordered to take an additional wife, a
Mohammedan .slave, which order he obeyed. Some
days after his conversion he had the audacity to
write to Smyrna: "God has made me an Ishmaelite;
He commanded, and it was done. The ninth day
of my regeneration."

posed to exterminate all the adult Jews in his empire
and to decree that all Jewish children should be

brought up in Lslam, also that fifty

Disillu- prominent rabbis should be executed;

sion. and oidy the contrary advice of some

of his counselors and of the sultana
mother prevented these calamities. In spite of
Shabbethai's shameful fiasco, however, many of his
adherents still tenaciously clung to him, pretending
that his conversion was a pait of the Messianic
scheme. This belief was further upheld and
strengthened by false prophets like Ghazzati and



Sbabbetbai Zebi

Primo, wlio were interested in maintaining the
movement. In many communities the Sevenleentli
of Tammuz and the Ninth of Ab were still observed
as feast-days in spite of bans and excommunications.

Meanwhile Shabbethai secretly continued his plots,
playing a double game. At times he would assume
the role of a pious Mohammedan and revile Judaism ;
at others he would enter into relations with Jews as
one of their own faith. Thus in March, 1668, he
gave out anew that he had been tilled with the Holy
Spiiit at Passover and had received a revelation.
lie, or one of his followers, published a mystic work
addressed to the Jews in which the most fantastic
notions were set forth, e.g., that he was the true Re-
deemer, in spite of his conversion, his object being
to bring over thousands of Mohammedans to Juda-
ism. To the sultan he said that his activity among
the Jews was to bring them over to Islam. He
therefore received permission to associate with his
former coreligionists, and even to preach in tlieir
synagogues. He thus succeeded in bringing over a
number of Mohammedans to his cabalistic views,
and, on the other hand, in converting many Jews to
Islam, thus forming a Judaeo-Turkish sect (see D5n-
MEii), whose followers implicitly believed in him.

This double-dealing with Jews and Mohammed-
ans, however, could not last very long. Gradually
the Turks tired of Shabbethai 's schemes. He was
deprived of his salary, and banished from Adria-
nople to Constantinople. In a village near the latter
city he was one day surprised while singing psalms
in a tent with Jews, whereupon the grand vizier
ordered his banishment to Dulcigno, a small place
in Albania, where he died in loneliness and ob-

BiBLiOGRAPHV ; N. Bfull, Sahbatai Zehi tind Sein Anhavo>
In PopulistUch-Wisxerischaftliche MonatsschrifLxii. 6, 2.5,
80; idem, Miktah he-'lnynn Sod lia-Klahut Neqe.d Kat
Sliahbethai Zebi, in Weiss's Bet ha-Midrash, i. 63, 100,
139 et seq.: idem, Shabbethai Zebi, In Ha-Karmel, 2d
series, iv. 1-3; A. Dauon, Une Secte Judeo-Miisulmane
en T%irquie, in B. E. J. xxxv. 264; idem, Docitmeitts et
Traditi/nis sur Sahbatai Cevi et Sa Secte, in R. E. J.
xxxvil. 103; E. Finkel, Sabhatai Z'wi, in Ost und West, v.
61 et neq., Berlin, 1905 ; Emanuel Frances, Sipjmr Ma'aseh
Shabbetliai Zebi, published by S. Halberstam in Kobez 'al
Yad (Mekize Nlrdamim), pp. 133-136, Berlin, 1885; Ludwij?
GelRer, lieidsche Schriften ilber Sahbatai Zebi, in Jahrb.
filr Israeliten, v. 100 ; Gratz, Gesch. x., ch. vii., note 3. pp.
xxili. et .seq. (of the numerous sources there given may be
mentioned : Jacob Emden, I'orat ha-Kena^ot, Lemberp, 1870 ;
Emanuel Frances, ?e5i Mudda^, published by M. Mortara
In Kobez 'nl Yad [Mekize Nirdamim publications], pp. 101
et mq., Berlin, 1885; [anon.] Me'ora'ot Zehi, Lemberg, 1804 ;
JacobSasportas-Emden, i?'722wr ZizoiiVoftcl Zehi, A Itona [?],
1737 [?]; Tobiah Nerol, Ma'cuieh Tohiah, i. 6, Venice, 1707); M.
Gudemann, Lieder zu Elnxii Sahbatai ZwVs, in Mo)iats-
schrift, xvii. 117; Horschetzky, Sabbathey Zvry, eiiie Bio-
graphische Skizze, in AUg. Zeit. des Jud. 1838. pp. 520 et
seq.; David Kahana (Kohn), Eben ha-ToHm, in Ha-Shahar,
Hi. 273 et seq., Vienna, 1872; David Kaufmann, Uiie Piece
Diplomatique Venitiemie siir Sahliatal Cevi, in R. E. J.
xxxiv. 305; idem, Eive Vcneticwische Depesche Uher
Sabbathai Zebi, In AJlg. Zeit. des Jud. 1898, p. 364 ; J. M.
Lewinsohn, Temunat Shabbethai Zebi, in Rabbinowitz's
year-hook JireJie.>fe( i'israef, iii. 553, Warsaw, 1888; H.Prague,
La Sepulture dc Sahbatai Zevi, in Arch. Isr. xlii. 6; Max
Ring, Spinoza; Fraqmente aus dem Epos Sn})at)iai Zevi,
in Jahrbnch filr Israeliten, ix. 141, xvii. 73 ; Schudt, JUdisvhe
MerckwUrdigkeiten, li. 47; (anon.) Toledot Shabhethai
Zebi (reprint of N. ^mlVs Miktab, etc.; see above), Wilna,

For the Shabbethaians in general : Elkan N. Adler, Jeirs
in Many Lands, pp. 146 et seq., Philadelphia, 1905 ; H. Adler,
The Baai^Shem of London, in Berliner Festschrift, p. 2,
Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1903; A. Biichler, Die Urahschrift
des Mardochai Mochinch, in Kaufmann Gedenkbuch, pp.
451 etseq., Breslau, 1900; Gratz, Die Sabbat ianiach -Me s-
slam-che Schwdrmerei in Amsterdam, in Monatsschrift,
XXV. 1; idem. Uehcrblelh<<el der Snbhatia7ii.fchen in Sa-
lonichi, lb. xxvl. 130; xxjjiii. 49-62; M. Giidemann, Ha'arah

XI.— 15

be-'Inyan Kat Shabbetliai Zehi, in Kobak's JeschurMn, v.
164; David Kahana (Kohn), Eben'Ofel, in Ha-Shah4ir,y.
121 et seq., Vienna, 1874 ; L. Low, Geschictde der JJngari-
schen Sabbattiaer, in BeTi Cliananja, i. 10; A. Neubauer,
Der Walinwitzuiid die Schwindeleien der Sabbatianer. in
Monatsschrift, xxxvl. 201, 257; N. Sokolow, Seride Kat
Shabbethai Zebi, in Ha-Meliz, xi. 96, 103; M. Stern, Ana-
lekten zur deschichte der Ju'den, in Berliner's Magazin,
XV. 100 et seq.; Wolfgang Wessely, Aus den Brief en einen
Sabliatianerx, in Orient, xii. 534, .568. Comp. also Bar0CH
Yavan : Cardoso, Migukl; Donmku ; Eybesch(5tz; Frank,
Jacob; Hayyim Mal'ak; Hayyun ; Mordf.cai Mokiah;
Nehemiaii ; PRosSiMTZ, LObele ; QUERiDO, Jacob.
K. H. M.

SHABTJ'OT. See Festivai,s; Pentecost.

SHADCHAN (Heb. Shadkan) : Marriage-bro-
ker. The verb "shadak" ("meshaddekin "), refer-
ring to the arrangements which two heads of families
made between themselves for the marriage of their
children, was used in Talmudical times (Shab. 150a).
But the appellation " shadchan " for the marriage-
broker, who undertakes, for a consideration, to bring
the two families together and to assist in the for-
mation of a union between them, does not appear in
rabbinical literature until the thirteenth century.
His. legal status and the validity of his claims for
compensation were briefly discussed in "Or Zarua' "
by Isaac of Vienna in the first half of the thiiteenth
century, and more extensively in the "Mordekai"
(in the last section of Baba Kamma) about half a
century later. The profession of the shadchan seems
to have been old and well established at that period ;
and the usage of Austrian Jews, who did not re-
ward the shadchan until after the marriage had taken
place, is contrasted with that of the upper (Rhenish)
countries, where he was paid as soon as the inter-
ested parties reached an agreement (Meir of Ro-
thenburg, Responsa, No. 498; see Berliner, "Aus
dem Leben der Deutschen Juden im Mittelalter," p.
43, Berlin, 1900). The legal aspects of the shad-
chan's business are treated by all later codifiers of
the Halakah and in numerous responsa, but there is
no indication that he was known among the earlier
medieval Sephardic Jews.

The occupation of the shadchan was highly re-
spected, and great rabbis like Jacob Molln and
Jacob Makgomoth did not deem it beneath their
dignity to engage in it (see Abrahams, "Jewish Life
in the Middle Ages," pp. 170-171, London, 1896).
His work was deemed of more importance than that
of the ordinary "sarsur," or broker, and he was con-
sidered entitled to more than two per cent, or, when
the contracting parties lived more than ten miles
apart, to more than three per cent, of the amount
involved (usually the bride's dowry), while the
sarsur was entitled only to from one-half of one
to one per cent (see the transcript of ordinances
adopted by the Council of Four Lands, in Buber's
"Anshe Shem," p. 225, Cracow, 1895; comp. also
"Orient, Lit." 1845, p. 310). See Maukiage Cere-

The business of the shadchan still flourishes among
the Jews of the Slavonic countries and among tiie
Jews who emigrated from those countries to the
United States and elsewhere. Among the old-fash-
ioned Jews in the Old World almost all marriages
are brought about with the assistance of a shadchan,
because it would be considered immodest in a young
man to do his own courting, and pride Avould not




allow either family to make a direct advance to the
other. Those who resort to liis services in America
usually give the additional reason that they are all
"strangers" there, and that they are therefore con-
strained to utilize the knowledge and experience

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 11) → online text (page 53 of 160)