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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death, and went out to Titus, the Wicked, and, surrendering, were
all left alive. Therefore, after the ruin of the Temple the Pharisees
rose in power, whereas the Sadducees declined. Thus it continued
till R. Jehudah the Nassi, the editor of the Mishna. He collected
all comments, good and bad, true and false, ancient and recent, all
together; he wrote them down in a book without making distinc-
tions between the sacred and profane, unclean and clean ; he decided
and declared that they are all Sinaic. This occurred in 3945.

After the conclusion of the Mishna, rose up those who composed
the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds, and from that time on
the quarrel grew in force, and the hate, rivalry and jealousy grew
between the two sects, the Sadducees and Pharisees. For the
Sadducees held the true Torah, written by Moses our teacher, and
those few true comments that have been left from many; but the
Pharisees abandoned the written Torah and ignored it as of subor-
dinate importance, and clung to the oral law, that is, the Mishna
and the Talmud, making it the thing of the first importance, saying
that tradition will be victorious. They said every one who studies
the written law has fulfilled only partially his obligations, but every
one who studies Mishna or Talmud he has completely discharged
his obligations; every one who trangresses the written law is cul-
pable of stripes, who transgresses the words of the sages is guilty of
capital punishment, and that one should not object even if they say
to you of the right that it is the left, and of the left that it is the
right and similar erroneous teachings. Thus it continued to be till


the time of Anan the Nassi, the Holy and the Saint, the son of David
the Nassi, in the year 4400 after the creation. Anan * Hved in
Babylonia and was of the Sadducees, and for his great wisdom
Israel, Sadducees as well as Pharisees, chose him as Nassi, as the
head of Beth Din and Exilarch. After his instalment as Nassi and
head of Beth Din by the sanction of the Arabian monarch, and the
will of all Israel, he became zealous for God and his Torah, and
wished to restore it to its primitive purity ; he commenced to plead
against the oral law, i.e., the Mishna, and deny and declare it as
nought. When the Pharisaic sect perceived all this, they rose upon
him and devised stratagems to kill him. But out of fear of the king,
they did not lay their hands on him, but denounced him to the king
that he had rebelled against the law of the government, but the king
pitied him and saved him from them, and so he was left alive. When
Anan perceived that the Pharisees did not want to return to the
truth, he was disgusted with being a Nassi, left his house and pos-
sessions in Babylonia, and departed with his sons and disciples to
Jerusalem, the Sacred City. He built there a synagogue, "The
Temple of God," to pray and to weep morning, noon and evening;
and perceiving that the Pharisees were increasing, and that the
Sadducees decreased, and fearing lest the true Torah be forgotten
entirely, and lest the Sadducees be absorbed in time by the Phari-
sees, he commanded his disciples, friends and acquaintances, to
keep themselves apart from the sect of the Pharisees wholly and
with the utmost possible strictness. He forbade them to eat their
foods, for they are not careful about all kinds of uncleanness, and
eat carcasses and tallow prohibited by the Torah. So also he for-
bade them to intermarry with them, because they had trespassed
the barriers of consanguinity. And Anan interpreted the Torah
and commandments according to the true comment, as he had re-
ceived it from his fathers and masters by tradition, who belonged
to the sect of Sadducees, continuing from the oldest times; and as
the whole Sadducean doctrine is founded on the text of the Holy
Scriptures, Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographas, therefore Anan
the Nassi called the Sadducean sect "Karaites," (Karaim), that is,
who are called and go in their simplicity. (Ba'ale Mikre) : and as
the whole object of the Pharisees was to pursue high positions and
lordliness, and also because they are many in comparison with the

* It is well known that the Karaites make Anan's life date 100 years earlier than
in reality, i.e., 4400. But S. L. Rapoport, in his " Kerem Chemed," p. 203, has
explained and proved their mistake, from the testimony of Sherira the Gaon, and
the " Book of Tradition," by Abraham b. David, that Anan rose in the age of Jchuda
the Gaon, who was a Gaon from 4516 to 452g>^.


few Karaites, he called them "Rabbanim," (lords, many), that is,
the adherents of the Mishna and Talmud. . . .

This is the opinion of the Karaites themselves about their his-
tory, and that every one who wishes to know and understand all
the errors of the Rabbis (according to them), should see the Book
of God's Wars, ("Sepher Milhamoth Adonai"), by Salman b. Je-
rucham, and the Admonitory letter ("Igereth Hatochachath"), by
Sahal Hakohen, and "Eshkol Hakopher," by Jehudah Hadasi
Haabel (the Mourner), he called himself thus for mourning, and
" Apiryon Asah," and "L'hem Sheorim," by R.Solomon the Turk,
also the "Asara Maamaroth," of Elijah the Jerusalemite, and the
" Amuna Omen" by Abraham b. Joshua the Jerusalemite, all
which books are written to refute the false Rabbinical laws ; and
of the Rabbinical sages after Anan they say that when they saw
that the plain and just truth is evidently on the side of the Sad-
ducees, they invented about them calumnies, that they were Sad-
ducees and Bithusiaus followers of Zaduk and Bithus, the infidels,
and their glory they confounded with shame by conscious falsehood
for whereas they had been called Tzadikim from ancient times,
they altered their name to Tzadukim (Sadducees, Zadukim), fol-
lowers of Tsaduk, etc., etc."

... * Here we have given to the reader what we have briefly
quoted so far as needful for our purpose, and to spare much of our
own discussion by citing the words of another. From "Orah
Tzadikim" treating of the split between the Karaites and Rabbis,
written by the scholarly rabbi, Sim'ha Isaac of Lutzki in 5516.
And we, desiring to call the attention of scholars and thinkers to
the affirmations of the Karaites themselves about their ancient
history, both their charges against us and their justifications of
themselves, have abridged their statements, for it is our duty to
hear what they say for themselves, and try to separate the truths
from the falsehoods as impartial judges, not as advocates.

And, before all, I say, the man is dreaming who speaks that the
difference between the Karaites and Rabbis began in the time of
Rehoboam ; the son of Solomon, and of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat,
when Israel revolted against David's dynasty. And if the Rabbis
were to make such a senseless assertion, that the rebels against
David's dynasty were the same that the Karaites are, beyond doubt
the Karaites would say that they pervert the words of the living
God and deny what is written in the Prophets, that Jeroboam led
away the people from the worship of the true God who had pro-

* Page 122, Iloldheim's opinion.



tected them from the times of Egypt till then, to serve golden calves
which he had made, and made a festival in a wrong month which
he invented that the people should not go to celebrate the holidays
at Jerusalem, and the royalty not be restored to David's house.
The Karaites state here a strange fiction, which is ridiculed by every
one who has any knowledge of books.

Besides that, any one who has eyes to see, ears to hear, and a
palate to taste, that which is written in the Scriptures, is aware that
during all the time of the prophets till the exile of Israel and Judea
from their land and captivity in the land of their enemies, the quar-
rel between the parties was not about the interpretation of the
Torah, or about the reasons of the commandments, but about the
Torah itself, between those who knew it and those who did not
know it, between the worshippers of the true God and the idolators.
The prophets of the true God, and the best element of the people
who followed them, have served God and loved him, and were his
true servants, adhered to him and observed his commandments and
his law. But the king and the common people devoted themselves
to drink, to idolatry, adultery, and other uncleanness of the other
nations of their time.

And truly, the author of the "Orach Zadikim," as well as the
writers whom he quotes, have not adhered to the truth but in-
dulged in falsehoods, by fixing the beginning of this quarrel at
a time which it was impossible to have begun. And if the author
and his co-religionists fully believe that the present Pentateuch
was known to and in the possession of the names in the days of
David and Solomon, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and that, to-
gether with the written Torah and its commentaries it was in the
possession of the Sanhedrin and the members of the great and
small Beth Din of those days, as the same belief was entertained
by the Pharisees from the written Torah and its commentaries, —
we will not plead with them to question or reflect upon this be-
lief, and state from the investigations of the modern as well as
the ancient critics, that the Pentateuch was at that time of recent
date and no one knew of it because it had been written only in
the days of Solomon, and no one had seen it, — for it would be
unfair to refute a warranted belief on one hand by a total denial
on the other. But we will argue from the standpoint of the Ka-
raites themselves, who adhere to the text and deny the commen-
taries which are conflicting with the ordinary interpretation of the
Scripture. For they themselves have interpreted the Scripture
wrongly, and ascribed to it a meaning which has never been in-
tended, by stating that the quarrel between Israel and Judea,


or between Jeroboam and Rehoboam, has caused a quarrel, in
no way or manner resembling it, between the Karaites and the
Rabbis regarding the interpretation of the Scripture. This is one
of those falsehoods which have absolutely no foundation what-
ever, and are shunned by those who are able to distinguish be-
tween truth and falsehood.

The statement that the difference between the Karaites and
Rabbis dates from the time the difference between Jehudah b.
Tabai and Simeon b. Shetah broke out, etc., is nothing but a net
spread out by the Karaites to catch therein the people of Israel,
etc. But it is up to date not known who is the author of this
statement and who circulated it among the Karaites that they
might make it the foundation of their structure, which founda-
tion, if demolished, would cause the ruin of the whole structure.

There is no doubt in our mind that the Karaites have borrowed
this statement from the Pharisees when endeavoring to separate
from the Sadducees, whom they also considered as infidels, and
to erect a new edifice for themselves, for the Pharisees also con-
sider Simeon b. Shetah to have restored the Torah to her old
glory, as they state in the mentioned Boraitha: "The world was
embarrassed until Simeon b. Shetah appeared and restored the
Torah to her former state." And here they found an opportunity
to use the Pharisees ' arguments against them. The Pharisees say
that after the massacre of the sages and those learned in the tra-
ditional law by Johanan Hyrcanus, the oral law was forgotten in
Israel till Simeon b. Shetah came and restored it. By oral law
is meant that traditional comment on the Torah as it was after-
ward written down and concluded by R. Jehudah the Nasi and
his successors in the Mishna and Talmud against which the Ka-
raites protest. Now, the difference between restoration and inno-
vation is insignificant, and what the Pharisees and Rabbis term
restoration the Karaites name innovation, and maintain that Simeon
b. Shetah made a neiv law, that is the oral law which was unknown
previously, and had not descended to them from their forefathers:
and from this new law a new quarrel sprung forth among those
who believed in tradition, which quarrel has no connection what-
ever with the old controversy between the disciples of Sadduk
and Bithus, the infidels, and the Josees, the believers, on whom
all Israel leant.

As for the statement of the Karaites above mentioned that their
belief dates from the time of the second Temple, etc., and that
only Anan brought it to light again, after it had disappeared, the
same was very ably criticised by the scholarly rabbi, S. J. Rapa-

port ("Kerem Hemed," p. 200), by laying out his own plan for
the investigation of the causes of the Karaite history; he says,
namely: "The activity of Anan was not isolated in its kind,
but it was only a link in the chain of the history of the nations
of those days. For there existed religious differences among the
Arabians, some holding only the Koran and what Mahomet com-
municated to his son-in-law Eli, and who are known as the Shitin;
while some held the traditions communicated by Mahomet, his
wife and son-in-law, his sons, and many disciples, who are
known as the Shonin."

And it seems that this religious quarrel has, to our shame, in-
fected the Jews; Anan and Saul, his sons, tried to establish a
new sect in Israel similar to the Shitin, for they thought that the
Arabian high officers would assist them, for they would be at one
with them in taking for the basis of their belief only what is written
in the text, and to deny tradition. And how many times have
religious movements, similar to those, taken place among the
nations among which we live, even in our own times.

Having thus laid before the reader the views of the Karaites
themselves, i.e., of those later Karaites who endeavored to justify
Anan for his complete separation from the Rabbanism, although
Anan himself was very far from doing so, as can easily be seen
by every one who has some sense of his own, from the statement
of Anan: "And I will prepare you a Mishnaand Talmud myself,"
(vide supra, p. 27), and also some of the opinions of the scholars
Holdheim and Rapaport, we wish to submit our own opinion
in regard to this matter.

In our judgment they all erred in making the following two
assertions, viz: that the Sadducees did not believe in retribution
in the world to come ; and that the Talmudists had no knowledge
of a sect naming itself, or which was named by others, Karaites.
The error in making these assertions caused them to draw far-
fetched inferences and to write a number of articles, which will
not stand any proper criticism. For Holdheim, in refuting upon
the assertion of the Karaites that their sect was founded in the
days of Jehudah b. Tobai, fixes their origin at a much prior date,
by stating that the Sadducees and Karaites are one and the same
sect, and that the latter name was adopted by them at a later
date, but at the time of the Talmud they were known by the
former name, and that accounts for not finding the name Karaites
in the Talmud, (see at length, ibid,, p. 25), basing his assertions
on Maimonidus and Abraham b. David of Paskira. Some of these
assertions may be found in Rapaport, although he tries to recon-


cile both sides. And because the Karaites differed from the Sad-
ducees in that the latter did not beheve in resurrection, and,
according to him, also not in retribution after death, Holdheim
asserts that the Karaites, who are the same as the Sadducees,
have adopted that belief only at a later date, when that belief
has already been adopted by all other nations and religions.

And coming to such conclusion he justifies the Sadducees and
their views, and gives them preference over the Rabbanism and
their views, which constitutes almost the whole subject of his
book. But we will prove his error, and therefore most of his as-
sertions will prove of no value, and the Talmudists and their
views and teachings will remain true and everlasting.

But before attempting to explain ourselves in more detail we
feel it our duty to say a few words in regard to Resurrection, which
is the basis of the whole contention between the scholars above
mentioned and the sects themselves.

The first Mishna in Chapt. Halek (Sanhedrin) reads: "The fol-
lowing have no share in the world to come: the one who says the
Resurrection does not originate from the Pentateuch," which is
explained by Rashi as follows: "i.e., he who does not believe in
the inferences drawn later on in the German that resurrection orig-
inates from the Bible ; and even if he does believe in resurrection,
but says that it does not originate from the Pentateuch, he is an
infidel, for if he does not believe in its origin from the Bible what
do we care for him or his belief? Wherefrom does he know that
so it is ? He is, therefore, a perfect infidel." And although
some doubt whether these quoted words came from the pen of
Rashi, because it was not Rashi 's way to enter into lengthy ex-
planations, still all concede that it expresses the true meaning of
the Mishna.

Now, if we will take the true intent of the Talmudists, that
although one believes in resurrection he is an infidel, if he does
not believe that its origin is from the Pentateuch, we will at once
conceive that when the latter belief began to circulate among
all nations and among the masses of Israel to such an extent that
it was considered an essential element of the belief in God, and
that any religion which did not consider it one of its dogmas, was
not worthy of being ranked as a religion at all, the Talmudists
endeavored to prove the origin of this belief from the Pentateuch
and that other nations and religions borrowed it from that source,
in order to refute those who asserted that its origin was in the
New Testament and, therefore, the latter was the principal re-
ligion and the former ceased to exist.


We will now take up another Mishna in Tract Berachoth, p. 54a:
"Since the Sadducees have perversely taught that there is only
one state of existence, it was ordained that it shall be pronounced:
'From Eternity to Eternity,'" which Rashi explains, i.e., "that
they denied resurrection." Rashi again diverts the Mishna from
its plain meaning, that the Sadducees did not admit the existence
of the world to come, i.e., retribution after the soul separates from
the body, and limited their disbelief to resurrection only; (and
that the meaning of "perversely taught" means that they per-
verted from their own opinions and taught the masses that belief).

It is self-evident that the perversion of the Sadducees consisted,
according to Rashi, only in denying the inferences drawn to es-
tablish the origin of resurrection in the Pentateuch. But from
the dispute of the Sadducees with the founder of the Christian
religion, or with his disciples, and from the derisive question,
"whom of them a widow of seven brothers will marry after resur-
rection," which is quoted in the work of Azariah Di Rossi, we
can easily see that the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection
at all.

If we will examine carefully the interpretations of the Tal-
mudists in desiring to find a hint for resurrection in the Pentateuch,
and that they did not infer it from the plain statement (Deutr.
xxxii. 39): "/ alone kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal,"
which, on every occasion they explained to mean "as the healing
follows the wound, so also does life follow death " (see Ben Ezra),
but resorted to far-fetched interpretations instead, we will clearly
see that the Talmudists did not wish to state that resurrection is
expressly stated in the Pentateuch, for in such case they would,
of necessity, have to admit that this belief was known and cir-
culating at the time the Pentateuch was given. They only wanted
to find some slight reference to it in the Pentateuch, and were of
the opinion that the belief in resurrection was known only to a
limited number of select men, but not to the masses, from whom
it was kept secret, for fear that they might as well believe in
"familiar spirits" and "wizards" ("Ob and Yaduni"), or in "in-
quiring of the dead." But only after this belief has been bor-
rowed from the neighboring nations and has been adopted by the
masses, the Talmudists found it necessary to find some source
for it in the Pentateuch in order to strengthen the latter, although
not explicitly stated therein.

It follows from all this that at the time the Mosaic Law was
proclaimed, that belief was not only not obligatory, but on the
contrary every effort was made to keep it from the masses, and,


therefore, no promises were made as to resurrection, but only as
to longevity and tranquillity during life-time.

When, however, the founder of Christianity made this belief
one of its dogmas and minimized the Old Testament, the Tal-
mudists made it obligatory to believe that its source is in the
Pentateuch. And the Sadducees who rejected this belief at all
were considered as disbelievers.

But we find nowhere that the Sadducees ever denied the im-
mortality of the soul or that they ever denied the belief in retri-
bution after death, for according to all opinions the Sadducees
were not the disciples of Autigonus of Socho, Zaduck and Bithus,
who, according to a statement in Aboth d' Rabbi Nathan, rejected
the belief in retribution. The name Sadducees, as we have said
in the beginning of this article, had its origin from Zaduck the
high priest of David, according to Geiger's opinion. Or, perhaps,
Holdheim's opinion is the correct one, viz. : that in the beginning
they were surnamed " Zadikim," as Simon the high priest was
sumamed the " Zadik. "

Neither do we find anywhere that the Sadducees repulsed the
statement of the Talmudists, to wit: "In order that thy days
may be prolonged " (Deutr. v. i6), that means in the world to
come which is prolonged (endless), and as the simple proof, if one
say to his son: "go up on the roof and examine the bird's nest,
and take the young ones, and send away the mother, in both of
which (sending away the mother and honoring the father) longev-
ity is the promised compensation in the Pentateuch; and the son
in doing so fell and was killed; how can the promise be fulfilled.''
We must, therefore, say that the promised longevity has reference
to life after death." Nor is it anywhere found that the Saddu-
cees refuted the statement of the Talmudists: " That person
shall be cut off " (Numb. xv. 31); that it means, " he should be
cut off from this world as well as from the world to come."

The assertion of those who consider themselves competent to
make it, that there is no basis in the Pentateuch for the immor-
tality of the soul, is not correct, for besides the many plain pas-
sages indicating that, the same can also be established from the
necessity of the marrying the widow of the deceased childless
brother, for if the soul is mortal what is the benefit of "raising
up the deceased's name?" So, also, greatly err those who, from
this very passage, draw a contrary conclusion, i.e., by asserting
that because the soul dies togetlier with the body the Pentateuch
commanded that decedent's name be raised up if he die childless,
for if the soul dies as does the body, why all that trouble of mar-


rying the widow, or the ceremony of the "Chalitza," and spitting
out before the one who refuses to marry the widow of his deceased
childless brother, as commanded by the Pentateuch? If the soul
derives no benefit therefrom, why all that? There is no honor
in all that either for the dead or for the living, and it is very well
known that this custom of raising up the name of the deceased
on his estates was known and observed in ancient times, and tho
family that did not observe this custom incurred disrespect.

Thus far as to the Pentateuch, but as regards the prophets or
Hygiogropha only a blind man can fail to find in them retribution
and immortality of the soul after death. The whole book of
Isaiah is full of that, and it says plainly (Isa. Ivi. 4-5): "For
thus saith the Lord concerning the eunuchs (those who die
childless) I will indeed give unto them, in my house and within
my walls, a place and a name better than sons and daughters, an
eternal name — they shall not be cut off." And not to mention
about the early and the later Hygiogropha (Ps., xvi. 10): "Thou
will not abandon my soul to the grave," and also (ibid, xxvii. 13):
"Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the
Land of life." And it is also explicitly stated, (ibid. xxv. 13):
"His soul shall abide in happiness; and Jiis descendants shall in-

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Online LibraryMichael Levi RodkinsonNew edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 19) → online text (page 15 of 17)