Michael Levi Rodkinson.

New edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 19) online

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his own opinion concerning the subject matter of the book.
Nevertheless, we may fully say that it is a scientific book in
every respect.

" The author of this book is a Gentile, a prominent member
of the bar in Vienna, and, according to his own testimony, he
knows neither the Hebrew language nor the talmudic and
post-talmudic literature at all. Notwithstanding this, the
book, as a whole, sanctifies the Talmud and all post-tal-
mudical literature.

It can not be taken as a defender of the Talmud because
of arguments, as the whole book contains merely facts which
can never be denied and which prove clearly that the Talmud
and its banner-bearers are clear of every accusation and of
every suspicion concerning the love of man, be he who he
may, even according to the present laws and estabHshed
etiquette. "

The above facts were not given by the author himself,
but by two well-known Gentile Hebrew scholars, upon whom
the Supreme Court of Vienna threw the burden of translating
four hundred passages and quotations. These the Jew-
haters have used as a sample of the wretchedness of the
Jewish literature. The chief aim of the Jew-haters was to
belittle the Talmud, which is the pillar of the Jewish race.

The author of this work, whom the Israelite congregation
of Vienna choose to defend Bloch in the case of Rohling-
Bloch, has done his work well. He gathered all the quo-
tations quoted by Rohling in his writings from both the Tal-
mud itself as well as from post-talmudical literature, those
which were written in the Hebrew language and also in other
languages, by converted Jews who reached then the dignity
of Catholic priests. All these quotations he divided into
two groups, (a) the quotations in Hebrew he brought before
the vSupreme Court, who appointed Gentile Hebrew scholars
to translate them correctly under oath, into the German


language; (b) the quotations in the living languages he ex-
amined himself. However, when he found a quotation in
another language besides German he submitted it to the
sworn interpreter of the Supreme Court for translation. Then,
when both the translations of the quotations by the Jew^-
haters and the translations of the same by those who were
appointed by the Court appeared before the court, it was
revealed that the alleged quotations of Rohling were not
quotations of the Talmud at all, but merely falsehoods. And
thus was it proved that every line written by Rohling in his
"Talmudjude," "Antichrist and Das Ende der Welt,"
"The Catechism des 19 Jahrhundert fur Juden und Prote-
stanten " (in which he praises the Spanish Inquisition, de-
claring it holy to the Lord and to the Catholic Church), " Das
Salomonische Spruchbuch," "Meine Antworten an die Rab-
biner," "Die Polemik und die Menschenopfer des Rabbinis-
mus," and also in his letter to Ghetza Anhadi of June 19,
1883, were all fabrications which never existed since the
creation of the world.

" If such a falsehood would not be revealed by the learned
Christians under oath it would be impossible to believe that
a man whose dignity came from a professorship of a university
should act so. The contents of this book are as follows:
All quotations which were translated by the experts as well
as those which Rohling himself falsely quoted,* Dr. Kopp
arranged them thus, preface, instruction, the story proceeding
the trial, the proceedings of the trial, the conclusion derived
from the true testimony which was obtained from non-Jews ;
i.e., the Bishop of Leon Agobardus, Paul Medriki, Rabbi
Maldava, Rabbi Mendel, August Fabius, Gerhard Tickson,
Franz Dclitzsch and August Wunsche.

" After sub-dividing the answers of the above scholars in
two parts, (a) those which are mentioned in the Talmud, etc.,
in general, and (b) where it speaks of the subjects in partic-
ular, and this he again sub-divided into nine groups; i.e., (i)
about injuring of Gentile property, (2) harming their lives,
(3) partiality in cases where Christians come before Jewish

* The author Kopp points out also many quotations quoted by Rohling from
books which never existed.


judges, (4) the application of animals' and beasts' names
to Christians by Jews, (5) about the oath of the Jews, (6)
about Jewish witnesses, (7) the Jews against the Christians
in the laws of slaughtering cattle, (8) about the flattering
and deceiving practised by Jews: divided into two para-
graphs, (a) the non-responsibility of the Jews (see Appendix
No. 19), (b) about the infallibility of the Rabbis concerning
the blood accusation, and (9) the conclusion of the author
himself. All these comprise 196 royal octavo pages.

" It is self-evident that such a book is above criticism, for,
as we said before, the book contains only facts, viz: (i) the
translations under oath of the well-known Christian scholars,
and (2) the falsehood of Rohling's quotations translated into
German when compared with the text, and this is all the
more evident when it is known that Rohling, after seeing all
these facts, not only withdrew his complaint but pardoned
even the most rigorous accusation of perjury which Bloch ac-
cused him of in the past, saying that he was always ready to
swear falsely at any time if only it would cause harm to the



Since the colleges were open in Palestine and Babylon,
after the destruction of the Temple, there were two kinds of
rulers: the Palestinian were called princes (Nassies), and the
Babylonian were called Exilarchs (Rashee Hagula). The
former are well known to the students, as every one of them
is mentioned in the Tahnud, and their biographical sketches
are written in many books by modem historians, also in our
historical and literary introduction to our new edition.

The Exilarchs, however, who are seldom mentioned in the
Talmud, are almost forgotten by the historians. Notwithstand-
ing that the duration of their reign is about 450 years, no
arrangement of their names and times is to be found in their

It is true that some of. their names are mentioned in " Seder


Ualam Zuta," "Machzor Witree" and " Yuchssin," but it is
so confused that no order can be found out.

We have to be grateful to the learned Abraham Krochmal,
who first took up this matter, and wrote an excellent long arti-
cle of seventy-three pages in his " Scholein zum babylonischen

His suggestions, however, though of a great genius, are
scholastical and "were criticised by many in periodicals and
pamphlets. Finally Felix Lazarus, in the " Jahrbiicher "of N.
Brill, issued a separate pamphlet about this subject, the result
of which the reader will find in a list further on.

And as many of the Exilarchs were the heads of the colleges
in Sura, Pumbeditha and Nehardea and took a great part in
the development of the Talmud, they must not be omitted
from the History of the Talmud.

List of Exilarchs*

Nahum Johanan Shepot 140-1 70

Huna I 1 70-2 10

Uqba 1 210-240

Huna IL, his son 240-260

Nathan L b'Huna 260-270

Nehemiah 1 270-313

Mar Uqba II 3^3~337

Huna III., his brother 337-35°

Aba Mari, his son 350-370

Nathan II 370-400

Chanan, son of Aba Mari 400-4 1 5

Huna IV 41 5-442

Mar Zutra I., son of Chanan 442-455

Chanan II 455-460

* We are unable to give their biographical sketches in a clear way, as in many
instances we agree with Krochmal, whose arrangement is much different from
Lazarus's list and the discussion would take up too much space, which we cannot
spare. We have only to say that many of the Exilarchs were only holding their
offices, but were not so learned as to take part in the colleges. They were appointed
by inheritance and according to the excellence of their morality. All of them were
descendants of David's kingdom, direct from Solomon. The Princes of Palestine,
who were also descendants of the same kingdom, were only from their mother's side
descended from Shepetiah b' Abital.


Huna v., son of Zutra 465-475

Huna VI., son of Chanan 484-508

Mar Zutra II. (Achunai) 508-520

Huna Mar Chanan 5 20-560

Kafnai 560-580

Chanini 580-590

Bostanai -660

With the conclusion of the first volume of this work at the
beginning of the twentieth century, we would invite the reader
to take only a glance over the past of the Talmud, in which he
will see that in almost every century and place of the different
countries in Europe, the Talmud was condemned to the stake.
By a glance over the present time, however, he will see that
not only was the Talmud not destroyed, but was so saved that
not even a single letter of it is missing ; and now it is flourishing
to such a degree as cannot be foxmd in its past history, as will be
seen further on.

The details of all the persecutions of the Talmud were given
in the preceding chapters. Here we give a list of the places
and dates in which it was at the stake, as well as the names of
the persecutors.

The Talmud at the Stake.

Time. Place. Persecutor.

1244 Paris King Louis IX.

1244 Rome Innocently.

1248 Paris Cardinal Legate Odo

1299 Paris Philip the Fair

1309 Paris Philip the Fair

1 3 19 Toulouse Lous

1322. — Burned in Rome by order of Pope John XXII., and
accompanied by robbery and murder of the Jews by the mob.

i553__Rome: Pope Julius III.— Similar burnings by the
same order took place in Barcelona, Venice, Romagna, Urbino
and Pesaro.

Here three wagons full of books were burned ; but first they were carried through
the streets of the city, while royal officers proclaimed publicly that their condem-
nation was due to the insults to Christianity which they contained. (See also
note, vol. ii. p. 52.)


1554.— Burned by hundreds and thousands in Ancona,
Ferrara, Mantua, Padua, Candia and Ravenna.

1558. — Rome: Cardinal Ghislieri.

1559. — Rome: Sextus Sinensis.

1557.— Poland: Talmud burned because of the charge
made against the Jews that they used the blood of Christian
children in their ceremonies. This occurred during the Frankist

Such was the past of the Talmud which we hope will never
be repeated. Now a glance at the end of the last century and
the beginning of this one.

The colleges for the study of the Talmud are increasing
almost in every place where Israel dwells, especially in this
country where millions are gathered for the funds of the two
great colleges, the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati and the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, in
which the chief study is the Talmud and its post-talmudical
literature. The heads of these colleges are of the most learned
scholars of their time, who are very careful in selecting the pro-
fessors and instructors for these institutions of learning. We
were honored to be present at some lectures which the late
great Talmudist, Professor Mielziner, delivered before the
senior class in Cincinnati, from which we derived great pleasure
and, we may also say that in some instances they were to a
degree instructive to us in our task of translating the Talmud.

What concerns the theological seminary in our own city, in
which we were not permitted (see App. No. 20) to hear the lec-
tures on the Talmud, we are also in the full belief that it will do
much for the study and development of the Talmud in this
and in future generations. We use the statement of the Tal-
mud, "One may be certain that a master will not leave out
from his hand a thing imperfect," and as the dean of this
faculty is not only a learned man but also an experienced
teacher, there is great hope that he will do all in his power to
select instructors and perfect lecturers for this institution.

There are also in our city houses of learning (Jeshibath) for
the study of the Talmud in the lower East Side, where many
young men are studying the Talmud every day.

We are also glad to notice that among Gentiles the study


of the Talmud is more or less spreading, as we have the experi-
ence that a great number of Gentiles and almost all the theo-
logical seminaries and public libraries subscribed to the Tal-
mud, and also many queries concerning it frequently came to us
from Gentiles. This all shows that the study of the Talmud
among Gentiles is not very rare.

The Jewish Encyclopaedia (see App. 21) which is in pro-
gress now is also a great help to the study and development of
the Talmud, as all the treatises of the Talmud are and will be
separately named, with many particulars which will cause
many readers to study the Talmud itself.


No. I. In the history of the "Oral Law," Part I., by I. H.
Weiss, the reader will find an account of the deeds of the Samari-
tans in detail, though only a few instances are dealt with.

No. 2. We may refer the reader to the book, "Maamar Hai-
shuth," by Holdheim, Berlin, who explains the belief of the
Sadducees, and their opposition to the Pharisees.

No. 3. We agree with those who say that the tearing of the skin
at the performance of circumcision was discovered since the Israel-
ites had begun to undo circumcision ; at the time when the theatres
were opened by Nero, and the Jews who had to go naked there to
wrestle with the beasts, were ashamed to be distinguished by this
peculiarity. For this purpose the tearing of the skin was devised.
(See Tract Sabbath, p. 307, in the Mishna: "One who was circum-
cised without having had the skin torn open is considered uncir-
cumcised.") To this there is neither any source in the Scriptures
nor any tradition mentioned in the Gemara. Some scholars don't
agree with us. (See the letter of A. Bernstein in Tract Roshhos-
honah, in the first edition). We, however, base our opinion on
the fact that we doubt whether Antiochus Epiphanes would have
prohibited a circumcision, customary then among the neighboring
nations; and therefore it seems to us that he prohibited only the
tearing of the skin which had been ordained by the Pharisees.

No. 4. See our brief introduction in Tract Sabbath. Our
opinion is that some written Mishnayoth had been in existence
long before. Also Jellinek's Kuntres Haklalim, Note 4, for the
opinion of the French and Spanish scholars about it. Also I. H.
Weiss and our "Hakol," Vol. VI., p. 11.

The London Athenaeum, VI., 808, has cited our statement in
the general brief introduction, p. 15: "Most of the Mishnayoth
date from a very early period, and originated with the students of
the Jewish Academies which existed since the days of Jehoshaphat,
King of Judah [2 Chron. xxii., 9]: 'And they thought in Judah,
and with them was the book of the law of the Lord, and they moved
about through all the cities of Judah and taught the people,' " as
ridiculous. This, however, does not terrify us, as notes of com-
mentaries on the text of the Scriptures, the whole or in part, have


been found In the hands of students from the time colleges had
been founded ; and this opinion of ours has met with approval from
many contemporary scholars.

No. 5. See our "Hakol," Vol. VI., in which we state that the
Gentiles who desired to embrace Judaism, asking Hillel to convert
them, were men of rank, for a common man would not dare to make
such a stipulation as to be a high priest in Israel.

No. 6. The belief in the divinity of Jesus became acute at a much
later period, when the heathens accepted this fight according to all
modern scholars.*

No. 7. (See App. No. 4.) We shall also come to this matter in
our later notes.

No. 8. In our translation we have added the Tract Ebel Rab-
bathi, or Sema'Hoth, as the law of mourning was taken from this
tract. We have, therefore, added it to the tract "Minor Festivals,"
which also treats of mourning on the festival days. What concerns
the beginning of " Section of Seeds " with the tract " Benedictions,"
see I. H. Weiss for another reason which does not seem probable
to us.

The names of all the treatises of the tracts of each section, and
of their chapters in detail, the reader will find in books written
for this purpose by Strack, Mielziner, and also in the encyclo-
paedias, especially in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, f We deem it not
necessary to name them here as we give at the end of Vol II. the
synopsis of each tract, translated and published up to date.

* What concerns Ben Zakkai, according to Hcilprin, in his " Seder Hadoroth,"
and other authorities, Johanan b. Zakkai died 72 years A.c, that is, about forty years
after the death of Jesus, at which time the followers of the latter had already begun
to dispute with their Jewish colleagues. We also find a disciple of Johanan b. Zak-
kai whom he very much respected, very friendly to, and pleased with, Jacob of the
village Sachnon, who was one of the first disciples of Jesus. Hence our conjecture.

f Speaking of the encyclopsedias, we are sorry to say that in spite of the adver-
tising of their completeness, with all additional information in every branch up to the
time of publication, one can not rely upon them. It seems to us that they omit the
mention of books of great interest. According to our knowledge, books the subject
of which is interesting to most students, not to speak of whether they are well done
or not, ought to be mentioned and, if necessary, with a remark about the quality ol
the books. Now take the "Century Encyclopaedia-Dictionary and Atlas," which is
advertised as the best of its kind and which is published in New York City, and if
we look under the subject "Talmud," the fourteen or fifteen volumes of the first
English translation of the " Talmud" by Michael L. Rodkinson, published in the
same city, are not to be found, although about 175 daily papers and periodicals, here
and abroad, noticed and reviewed the publication. The same is the case with Apple-
ton's new encyclopaedia under the same title " Talmud." Here also Rodkinson's
translation is not mentioned, though some small tracts which were translated into
Germaa are mentioned. Still more remarkable is it, that the reviser of this article


No. 9. Details will be given in the second volume of this book
in the introduction to our new edition.

No. 10. In our book mentioned, we also show additions made
by the opponents of the Talmud for the purpose of degrading it.
For examples, see Vol. II., Part III.*

No. II. We shall come to this matter in the second volume of
this book, in the chapter devoted to the Ethics of the Talmud.

No. 12. Almost all ritual poets composed after the Talmudic
Hagada, Sometimes comments will be found, by a critical eye,
there on the Hagada or even Halakha, as the ritual poems relating
to Passover, contain almost all the laws of Passover.

No. 13. His decree was only for the German, French and Polish
Jews, and extended only until the end of the five thousandth year
after creation. However, the above-named Jews accepted his de-
cree as extending indefinitely. In Syria and in Palestine, however,
where his decree was not accepted, some of the Portuguese Jews,
known there as Franks, marry two wives even at the present time
in such cases when the first wife is barren.

No. 14. See "Measseph Nidachim," Vol. X., by A. E. Harkavy,
where he proves that in Spain had existed houses of learning from
ancient times and that the Gaonim of Babylonia had relations with
them ; and in many places they tried to follow their customs. (See

No. 15. As to what were these places, and who the disputants,

on the " Talmud " was Dr. Richard Gottheil, who is one of the editors of the Jewish
Encyclopsedia, and who himself wrote a criticism in " The Bookman" in 1897 upon
this translation. What concerns the Jewish Encyclopaedia, which is devoted only to
matters relating to the Jews, one is still more astonished on examining its bibliogra-
phies. On pages 390 and 394 of vol. ii., etc., etc., the contents of Tracts Baba Batra
Metzia and Kama are explained. In the bibliography of this article arc neither men-
tioned the excellent translation into French by I. M. Rabbinowicz nor the translation
into English by Michael L. Rodkinson. The same is the case with vol. iv., page 526,
etc., concerning the tracts " Derekh-Ercz Rabba" and " Zuta," for in the bibliog-
raphy there is not mentioned its translation in vol. i. (ix.) into English by the sam«
M. L. Rodkinson, together with Abot de Rabbi Nathan, which is mentioned in the first
volume, page 82. Here the bibliography reads : " An English version is gircn
by M. L. Rodkinson in his translation of the Babylonian Talmud, I. (IX.), New York,
1900." We cannot find any excuse for such a sin of the bibliographer unless we
ascribe it to the carelessness of the editors, for even if the authors of the articles were
ignorant of it, in spite of the fact that this translation is to be found in almost all the
libraries of the cities and countries, still the editors ought not to have been so.

* To the critics who will try to find fault with us because of the article by Prof.
Schechter in the Westminster Review of January and April, we will say that in spite
of the respect which we feel for the article and the author, we do not agree with it on
many points. Therefore, without any controversies, wc state here what seems reason-
able to us, leaving it to the reader to judge.


whether only Messianists or also Persians and idolaters, the opin-
ions of modern scholars differ. To us it seems that the Messian-
ists possessed only the house of Abidan, and the Persians and
Magians that of Nitzraphi. Rabh refused absolutely to dispute
with the first, but was forced to do so with the latter, perhaps by
his proximity to the government. Of the house of Abiani schol-
ars say it was composed of Messianists.

No. i6. As his interpretation of the text, "it shall be a sign
unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thy eyes,"
that it is a figure of speech, it shall be memored as if written on thy
hand, as, "set me as a seal upon thy breast," [Song of Solomon, vii.
6]: "between thy eyes," as an ornament which it is customary to
put on the brow, and there is no mention of the use of Phylacteriens
in his whole commentary, though the Talmud based the custom
of Phylacteriens only on these texts. We have spoken already of
this in our work on Phylacteriens.

-No. 17. In the excellent work, "Kritische Geschichte der Tal-
mud Ubersetzungen," by Dr. Erich Bischof, we read, p. 67:
Trotzdem heute der friihr iiberschatzte Eisenmenger allzusehr
unterschatzt wird, weil er noch nicht den historisch — Kritischen
Blick unserer Tage besass lasst sich doch gegen seine — Uber-
setzunger der genanten * Stellen nichts Erhebliches mit Fug ein-
wenden sie sind vielmehr fast stets richtig, etc.

We may say that though we respect very much the above-men-
tioned work as one whose opinions in general are correct, we would
like to call the attention of the learned author to the following facts :

(a) Notwithstanding the fact that in a period of eight centuries
over a thousand persons of varying opinions were engaged in the
compiling of the Talmud, in the edition lying before us there is not
to be found any designation as to time, and in many places, even
the author of that saying is not mentioned, Eisenmenger gives the
sentence, calling it literal translation, as if it were said by one person
at a given time. It is self-evident, however, that such literal trans-
lation changes the meaning entirely.

(b) An opinion of an individual concerning Gentiles, he quotes
it in the name of the Talmud, in spite that this saying is immedi-
ately opposed by the Gemara.

(c) He erred even in the literal translation, e.g., "Margela he
Pume de Abyc," this paragraph is translated by us in third part of
Vol. II. of this book. He translates, "A pearl was in the mouth of
A-"; while the literal translation of the word Margela is, "It was
used," i.e., Abye "used" to repeat this saying very often. At

* He quotes namely, the places of the Talmud which were translated by him.


another place he asks why should the "Talmud" be called great,
while the word "Talmud" in that sentence means "teaching," i.e.
the teaching is greater than action; for teaching causes action!
And we wonder how Dr. Bischoff can say of such, "it is rather cor-

No. 1 8. Concerning the pamphlets and books against the Tal-
mud, written by apostate Jews, see Strack, page 95.

No. 19. Rohling declares that the Rabbis had concluded that
all the sins of a Jew, be it against heaven or against man, are for-

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