S. (Solomon) Schechter.

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became the model and standard for all the spiritual
leaders of Israel in history. Seminaries can teach
ordinances and laws or better, as the original Hebrew
has it, "Toroth," a term comprehensive of all Jewish
thought, whether deposited in the Scriptures or in the
Talmud, whether it finds its expressions in the les-
sons of Jewish history and Jewish philosophy, or
Jewish poetry and Jewish mysticism. It can, further,
give some direction in regard to social work, in so
far as it is connected with the Torah. But the teach-
ing of the Torah and the spreading of its knowledge
is, and will remain, the Seminary's first and paramount
duty. I know that we live in a time and under con-
ditions in which social work has become an important
factor in the life of our communities, and am some-
times even inclined not to press the question of
knowledge to its full claim, when I see in a young man
a bent of mind which makes him useful to do, as the
phrase is, good work as Rabbi. But we must never
lose sight of the Toroth, which is the primary object
of seminaries. Nor must the Rabbi lose sight of
it. And I implore you, my young friends even after
you have entered office, never to allow a day to pass
without devoting a certain amount of time to the
acquiring of the knowledge of the Torah. If it should
happen that a certain number among you should be
so carried away in the zeal for the Torah, as to engage


in original research, and write some great book on
some Jewish subject, it would certainly not be a
calamity. American Jewry is now strong enough
to afford a few real scholars in the ranks of its clergy.
Such scholars elsewhere prove, as a rule, an ornament
to the church to which they belong, and the Syn-
agogue should not remain behind in this respect.
They are the men who provide their denomination
with ideas and ideals, which are converted into small
cash by the weaker brethren before they reach the
public. There is room in the Synagogue for all sorts
and conditions of Rabbis, but the rabbi-scholar must
not be allowed to disappear if Judaism is not to be
reduced to the straits of a mere ranting sect, if our
places of worship shall not become settlement houses
in disguise, and our seminaries mere sociological
institutions. In Judaism, everything must emanate
from the Torah and culminate in it. We cannot
live entirely for the fleeting moment. We have duties to
the past and to the future, and these duties can only
be accomplished by raising the standard of knowledge
of the Torah in the Rabbinate. To achieve this end,
we must, however, have the assistance of the public.
As you have observed in the citation given from Exo-
dus, this command as to the qualification of the judges
was given in answer to a need felt by a people "com-
ing to inquire of God." Unless such a need is felt in
our times, the Seminary will never be able to do its
full duty. The public must feel the need of a learned
rabbi, so as to enable us to increase the years of study
in our institution. There must be a demand for the


knowledge of laws and statutes, in other words, of
the Torah, and all that appertains to it, so as to give
the better scholar the better opportunity in life and
the greater field for his work. The Jewish public
must begin to show this interest in its learned insti-
tutions and aid it in its task by the material and moral
support, which it has always shown to philanthropic
institutions. If the Seminary is to develop on the
lines begun thus far, it is absolutely necessary that
it should have the disposition of larger means than
hitherto. Thus, it is important that a "publication
fund" should be created, enabling the faculty to give
to the world annually, at least, a volume or two of
scientific production. We want also more scholar-
ships and more valuable ones that would enable us
to keep the student for some longer period in the
Seminary. The age at which young men are now sent
out to conduct the spiritual affairs of congregations
is certainly too early and is against all precedent.
We want Fellowships to encourage original research
among our alumni, immediately after graduation.
We have men who give great promise in this regard,
but we are unfortunately not in a position to enable
them to continue their researches without immediately
taking up practical work. We want, further, dormi-
tories for our students. The longer I live in this
country and the more familiar I become with the
conditions, economic as well as spiritual, the more
convinced I am that such an arrangement is abso-
lutely necessary to make the work of the teachers
effective, and the life of the students fairly comfortable.


It is high time that American Jewry should recognize
the claims of the Jewish student, generally called in
Jewish literature, "the Sons of the Torah." Thus
far, we have treated them as step-sons. It is only by
the co-operation of the public and their sympathy
with the student and his work that a knowledge of
the Torah will again become the criterion of the
Rabbi, that religious education will become effect-
ive as it should be, and that harmony and mutual
understanding will be brought about in the various
sections of the community. Or, to speak in biblical
language, forming the conclusion of the passage
quoted from Exodus:

"If thou shalt do this thing and God command
thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure and all this
people shall also go to their place in peace."


AT THE request of the Board of Directors of
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America,
at the wish of my colleagues, as well as following my
own inclination, I have come here to offer you our
congratulations on this auspicious occasion, the dedi-
cation of the new buildings of the Hebrew Union
College. It is a pleasure to me to have seen this great
edifice with its commodious halls, its well-equipped
library and its fine classrooms, erected to the glory
of God, and at the same time forming a monument
sacred to the memory of the late Dr. Isaac M. Wise,
the founder of this Institution. I remember to have
read once, in a book by an early American writer,
who complained of the want of distinguished men in
this country, and of the lack of reverence to the few
great names we do possess. These buildings, bearing
the name of one of the leaders of Reform Judaism
in America, removes this reproach. It shows that we
are now beginning to learn the meaning of reverence
and authority, for even Reform Judaism cannot live
without authority.

I here take the opportunity of putting on record
my thanks to the family of the late Dr. Isaac M. Wise.
I had not the honor of knowing the head of the family,
who had already been taken from us before I removed
to this country, but I had the pleasure of making the

*Address delivered at the Dedication of the new Hebrew Union
College Buildings, Cincinnati, Ohio, January 22, 1913.


acquaintance of Mrs. Wise very soon after my arrival
in America. And I acknowledge here with thanks
that both she and her sons, as well as other members
of the Wise family, always treated me with uniform
kindness and attention. And this in spite of all my
heresies regarding Reform Judaism and other theologi-
cal frailties symptomatic of my want of sympathy
with reform tendencies, of which I have never made
any secret.

My pleasure is not spoiled by hearing and seeing
so much here from which I of necessity differ. Indeed,
if I were in agreement with you, I would have been
deprived of the pleasure of being here today ; at least,
in the capacity of President of another college pur-
suing, to a certain extent, different aims and endeav-
oring to realize them by largely different methods.
Least of all would I, a mere student, without the
least forensic ability, have a right to speak in this
distinguished gathering consisting of so many great
scholars and orators, as your illustrious President
and other Rabbis here who have grown old in the
service of the Synagogue and famous for their gifts
of oratory and speech. But there is also another
consideration. Probably you all know the way in
which some English statesmen speak of their oppo-
nents in the Parliament, referring to them as His
Majesty's Opposition. This sounds like a paradox,
yet it contains a deep truth, implying as it does that
both His Majesty's government as well as His
Majesty's opposition form one large community,
working for the welfare of the country and the pros-
perity of the nation. The same principle may also
be applied to theology, there being, under Providence,


room also for the opposition party, which has its
purpose and mission assigned to it by history. Of
course, there are exceptions, but generally there is
hardly any phenomenon in Judaism in the way of
sect or movement which has not served a certain
purpose in the divine economy of our history.

For opposition there must be, owing to the
difference of temper and temperament, the difference
of training, the difference of surroundings which no
process of schooling can entirely obliterate, and the
difference of opportunity. Of course, it will always
be a question as to which is which ; we Conservatives
maintaining that we are His Majesty's Government
and you His Majesty's Opposition. But this is one
of the differences. For reduce your differences as
much as you want, and, indeed, I hope and pray that
the difference of aims is not so deep as we sometimes
think, the fact remains that w r e are unfortunately
divided both in questions of doctrine at least
certain doctrines and even more in practice. But,
thank God, there are still a great many things and
aims for which both parties can work in perfect
harmony and peace, and unite us. To mention here
only two: There is, first, the question of Jewish
learning, which concerns us all. This, as has often
been pointed out, can only be accomplished by the
Jews and for the Jews. No outsider can do it for us
even when representing the most liberal point of
view, for there is such a thing as a Jewish liberalism
and a non-Jewish liberalism, as my friend, the
learned President of this College, knows as well as
I. To this, any student keeping pace with the pro-
ductions of theology, philosophy and history will


bear evidence. We have thus to do our scholarship
for ourselves. I had only lately an experience of
this fact. In the course of my studies I found it
necessary to read a certain book dealing with the
geography of Eastern Europe in the tenth century.
You would think that with such a book on such a
neutral subject one might feel safe. But it was full
of venom and hatred giving evidence to the anti-
Semitic tendencies of the author. The most amusing
thing was that the subject of his special attack in
whom he discovered so much Rabbinical confusion
and Talmudic aberrations, etc., was Paulus Cassell,
who became converted to Christianity some fifty
years ago. But there is a practical side to this ques-
tion, touching also the larger Jewish public. I am
thinking especially of the problem of text-books for
our teachers of religious schools and educated lay-
men. At present we recur to works written or com-
piled by Christian authors. This must not be allowed
to continue. This class of books, which should have
the purpose of imbuing our children with loyalty
and devotion and attachment to Judaism, should be
composed by ourselves. Christian works on the same
line will not help us to bring up our children as Jews.
We cannot have our love letters written for us. We
must write them ourselves, even at the risk of bad
grammar. And this is a work in which both parties,
realizing the nature of the problem, can work together.
This is a specimen of work for the Jew and by the
Jew. But there is also the great work which Judaism
can do for humanity at large, in which both parties
can combine. It is only sufficient to mention here the


terrible atrocities perpetrated under the eyes of
Europe in the Near East. Men, women and children,
all non-combatants, are slaughtered by the thousands
every day, their number amounting to half a million
already, according to the estimate of the newspapers.
And yet, no real moral indignation is seen anywhere.
We simply put away our papers and enjoy our break-
fast as if nothing had happened. We have become so
infatuated with the doctrine of the survival of the
fittest that we have lost all sensibility to the great
moral catastrophes which are passing before our very
eyes. And the more philosophy, the more heartless
we become. The world is thus in need of new instruc-
tion, and this instruction, as history has taught at
various epochs, as, for instance, in the Reformation,
can only come from the Old Testament.

The Fatherhood of God has always been taught
by Judaism, but this is a time in which the aspect of
the Holy King, and the King of Judgment, who not
only reigns, but governs, should be emphasized. As
my friend, Dr. Kohler, has expressed himself in his
recent very interesting essay on the subject: Die
Naechstenliebe in Judenthum:

"Nun, ich moechte als Theologie die Liebe nicht
missen, aber ich verlange als Jude, erst Gerechtigkeit
und dann Liebe."

("As theologian, I should not like to miss the
principle of love, but as a Jew I expect first justice
and afterwards love.")

These great principles of God's holiness, God's
justice and God's governing the world, are to be
especially taught now. And they must be taught


for years and years to come. The whole of Jewish
literature forms a commentary to it; the whole of
Jewish history forms an illustration of it; the whole
of Jewish life should bear evidence to it. And in
this work we can all combine in teaching. But in
order to teach, we must first learn and practice.
And this is the purpose for which colleges are estab-
lished. And thus may God's blessing be upon this
College, among all other colleges of Catholic Israel
^KW 1 hb3, in which these great truths of Judaism
shall be taught and learned, and then proclaimed to
the world, in all their purity and in all their applica-
tion to the different and various departments of life
and thought.

In conclusion, I wish also to thank Dr. Kohler, the
President of this College, as well as all those gathered
here, for the kind reception which has been accorded
me. I was really touched by the honor you have
shown me. May God reward you for this act of
Gemillath Chasadim. "For my brethren and com-
panions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek
thy good."


MY FRIENDS: It is a source of great pleasure
to me to be with you on this auspicious day,
& privilege which was denied to me last year. For
this change in my condition, I am deeply grateful
to Almighty God, who kept me alive and has pre-
served me and enabled me to reach this season.

My first duty would be to congratulate you on
behalf of the Faculty and myself on this great occa-
sion, which enables you to enter on the sacred call-
ing of Rabbi. The nature of this sacred calling has
been sufficiently discussed in the class rooms. Every
lecture delivered there, whether it be on the Sacred
Writ and its commentators, or on the Talmud and its
cognate literature, or on historical documents and
philosophic and theological works by Jewish thinkers,
ought to have impressed you with the magnitude of
your task and the solemn character of your respon-
sibility. It is a peculiar world into which we have
endeavored to introduce you. This world, generally
called Judaism, sometimes also, to take a somewhat
more concrete term, the Synagogue, is a world within
a world, or rather a Sanctuary, symbolizing as the
Tabernacle of old, Creation and the Universe, even
whilst its long wanderings through the "Wilderness of
the nations," renders it a veritable epitome of the
history of mankind. The Torah is the "Book of the

* Address delivered at Commencement Exercises of the Jewish
Theological Seminary, June 6, 1915.


Generations of Man" or "The history of mankind writ-
ten in advance;" whilst the great Hebrew Rabbinic
literature developing from it, forms the contemporary
chronicle of the noblest and the most sublime thoughts
of Israel during the long period following the con-
clusion of the Canon. But as with the Levites of old,
it is upon you to carry on the service of the Sanc-
tuary, to make its symbolism intelligible to the
laity, to perpetuate its history, and to preach to the
world at large its ideals and aspirations.

And now, a glance at the present and the im-
mediate future. We live in awful times. It is a
world in conflagration. We cannot divert our eyes
from it. We dare not remain indifferent. Any man,
to whatever party he may belong, whatever his
descent may be, who does not, when reading his
morning or evening paper, feel sometimes as if his
heart would break at this terrible suffering of human-
ity in which Israel is the greatest sufferer among the
nations must, to say the least, be classed among those
whom the late Mr. Gladstone described as having
come into the world with a "double dose of the
original sin." The situation can only be depicted in
the words of the Prophet: "Blood and fire and pil-
lars of smoke," preceding the great and terrible
Day of the Lord. An ancient Jew would have per-
ceived in it the travail of the universe, ushering in
the rebirth of the world, or to use a term which is
now greatly in vogue, the regeneration of humanity.
What shape this regeneration will take is difficult
to say; but if all signs are not deceiving, if the world
is not to sink under its own burden, if humanity


is not to witness such a reversion to chaos as fol-
lowed the breakdown of the Roman Empire, and
similar world catastrophes then it will not be in
the direction of the religion of valor. It will be a
return to the religion of Israel, whose great invoca-
tion in the most solemn prayer of the most solemn
day of the year is "The Lord, the Lord God, merci-
ful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in
lovingkindness and truth." HOST TOP! 311

My friends, it will be a chastened humanity
which will emerge from a destroyed world, strewn
with the debris of broken idols and shattered ideals
on which we have been spending our energies for the
last decades. Strength, force, astuteness and similar
virtues, desirable in themselves as manifestations of
vigorous manhood but dangerously bordering on
violence and brutality, will be less valued than
meekness, gentleness, sweetness of disposition and
humility. It will not be the strong man, but the good
man, the affectionate man, who will form the desired
goal of parents and pedagogues. Organization itself,
this great achievement of our age, will largely give
way to generous impulses and broad sympathies. I
by no means underrate the value and the importance
of organization. It certainly turns mobs into socie-
ties and societies into powerful units. It is for the
adult what method and system are for the young in
the school. But it can decidedly be overdone, and
if not under the control of a strong moral principle,
touched by kindness ai>d goodness, modifying the
severity and its tendency to inconsiderateness, it is
more likely to further passion than compassion.


The same is true of efficiency, which has constantly
to be qualified by fitness. To give an illustration
or two: A letter in the papers forming a part of the
controversy about a certain religious leader much
in evidence now, bore the heading, "Coarse, but
shows Results." Here you have a case of efficiency
lacking in fitness, with a vengeance. To speak of
Rabbis in particular: it may happen that the Rabbi
is successful in attracting large audiences, and in
having every pew of his synagogue sold, and in see-
ing his name in the press every day of the week.
This may be termed efficiency. But if he is not at
the same time a God-fearing man, an observer of the
Jewish law, living an unselfish life, and giving evi-
dence of his humility and meekness, he is certainly
unfit for his calling, and all his activity will result
in destruction.

Above all will this regeneration be felt in the
Synagogue. The pulpit will cease to be an institu-
tion of self-glorification, boasting of our successes
in various departments of secular endeavor. This is
sufficiently done by our friends outside of the Syn-
agogue, and even more often by our open and dis-
guised enemies, such as Werner Sombart in his
book, "The Jew and Capitalism," or John Foster
Fraser in his "The Conquering Jew."

Nor must we indulge in emphasizing too much
the question of our mission. Such topics are only
provoking of criticism. To have a mission, but never
to be able to point to the missionaries and their
achievements, is an awkward position to say the least.
I would not even advise you to enlarge too frequently
on the feature of nationalism. It is certainly justi-


fied as a protest against Paulinistic tendencies or
as a safeguard against assimilation. But the most
sublime expressions of Jewish nationalism are to be
found in the Bible and the Prayer Book. Here a
specimen from the latter, "O Guardian of an only
nation, guard the remnant of an only nation, and suffer
not an only nation to perish, who proclaim the unity
of Thy name, saying, 'The Lord our God, the Lord
is One.' ' But the nationalism of the purely secular
kind as taught by certain philosophers and historians
within the last two generations leading to the excesses
which we are witnessing now all over the world had
better be relegated to the lecture platform. Jewish
nationalism can be interpreted only in the light of
Jewish History and pure Jewish thought. Moreover,
the world is sure to combine against the fanaticism of
modern Chauvinism just as it did combine in the
eighteenth century against religious fanaticism. And
Judaism should ponder deeply before it entirely
identifies itself with this sort of exaggerated secular
nationalism. An ancient Jewish moralist had the
maxim: "If you are in the humor of praising, praise
God; if you are in the frame of mind of blaming,
blame yourself." And I am certain that the time
has come when this maxim will be applied as much
to whole groups of humanity as to individuals.
Jewish nationalism is holy to the Lord, and any at-
tempt to sever it from the historical Jewish ideals
attached to the Biblical terms "God's People," or
a "Holy Nation," will fail in the end.

IDPI (Chesed) loving-kindness, and HDS (Em-
eth) truth, must again become the subjects of in-
struction in our places of worship. The great truth


in need of being realized at the present crisis is the
fact of sin. Once more we should repeat the formula
of the liturgy: "Verily we have sinned." I lay the
emphasis on we, as certain views are now in the air
recalling to our minds the Scriptural adage:

"The foolishness of man perverteth his
way; and his heart fretteth against the Lord."
(Prov. 19:3.)

We do not fret directly against the Lord, but we
fret against religion. "Religion is a failure, else this
terrible catastrophe would never have occurred."
This is the statement made on all sides. But is it re-
ligion that is a failure? Have we been living in a really
religious age when this calamity overwhelmed us?
Has there been any doctrine which has remained
unassailed during the last two generations; any
portion of the Scriptures, which has escaped heartless
dissection; any religious symbol or ceremony which
was not slighted more or less? Almost every ideal
sanctioned by tradition and the consent of humanity
has been boldly challenged, whilst many a noble
sentiment almost inherent in the race and taken for
granted by humanity at large, has been ridiculed and
looked upon as an impediment to the perfection of a
misunderstood manhood. "Everybody at all familiar
with the trend of thought could feel that we're stand-
ing on a veritable volcano created by the upheavals of
the newest methods of "searching research" which
respects as little the new formulae, such as the cate-
goric imperative and conscience, as it does creeds and
dogmas." And now, when all the sources of our in-
spiration had been destroyed and laid dry, we expected

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Online LibraryS. (Solomon) SchechterSeminary addresses and other papers → online text (page 16 of 17)