The Talmud Unmasked
"Let our writings be open to all people. Let them see what our moral code is like! We need not be afraid of this test, for we have a pure heart and a clean spirit. Let the nations investigate the habitations of the children of Israel, and of their own accord convince themselves of what they are really like! They will then exclaim for certain with Balaam, when he went out to curse Israel: 'How beautiful are thy tents O Israel: how beautiful thy homes!'"1
"In its attitude towards non-Jews, the Jewish religion is the most tolerant of the the religions in the world... The precepts of the ancient Rabbis, though inimical to Gentiles, cannot be applied in any way to Christians."2
"A whole series of opinions can be quoted from the writings of the highest Rabbinical authorities to prove that these teachers inculcated in their own people a great love and respect for Christians, in order that they might look upon Christians, who believe in the true God, as brothers, and pray for them."3
"We hereby declare the the Talmud does not contain anything inimical to Christians."4
Many people who are interested in the Jewish question are wont to ask whether or not there is anything in the Talmud which is not beautiful and sublime, and entirely removed from anything like hatred of Christians. The confusion of opinion about the matter is so great, that to listen to those who argue so wisely about it, you would think that they were discussing a very ancient and remote race of people, and not the people of Israel who live in our midst according to an unchanging moral code by which the religious and social life of the Jews has been regulated to this day.
This being so, I have undertaken to show what the Talmud really teaches about Christians, and thus satisfy the wishes of those who desire to find out about this doctrine from genuine original sources.
To this end I have translated the best known Talmudic books which refer to the Christians, and have arranged these sources in such order as to bring out clearly the picture of a Christian as represented to the Jews by the Talmud.
Lest I be accused of using a corrupted text of the Talmud or of not having interpreted it correctly, as is generally the case with those who have attempted to disclose secret Jewish teachings, I have placed the Hebrew text opposite the Latin.5
I have divided the whole into two sections, the first of which treats of the teachings of the Talmud about Christians, and the other, the rules which Jews are obliged to follow when living among the Christians.
I preface these with a brief discussion about the Talmud itself in the following chapter.
The Talmud gets its name from the word Lamud - taught, and means The Teaching. By metonymy it is taken to mean the book which contains the Teaching, which is called Talmud, that is, the doctrinal book which alone fully expounds and explains all the knowledge and teaching of the Jewish people.
As to the origin of the Talmud, the Rabbis6 regard Moses as its first author. They hold that, besides the written law which Moses received from God on Mount Sinai on tables of stone, which is called Torah Schebiktab, he also received interpretations of it, or the oral law, which is called Torah Shebeal Peh. They say that this is the reason why Moses remained so long on the mountain, as God could have given him the written law in one day.7
Moses is said to have transmitted this oral law to Joshua; Joshua in turn to the seventy Elders; the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the Great Synagogue. It is held that it was later transmitted successively to certain Rabbis until it was no longer possible to retain it orally.
Whatever may be said about this story of the Rabbis, it is sufficiently known to us that before the birth of Christ, schools existed in Palestine in which sacred literature was taught. The commentaries of the Doctors of the law were noted down on charts and lists as an aid to memory, and these, when collected together, formed the beginnings of the Jewish Talmud.
In the second century after Christ, Rabbi Jehuda who, because of the sanctity of his life, was called The Saint, and The Prince, realizing that the learning of the Jews was diminishing, that their oral law was being lost, and that the Jewish people were being dispersed, was the first to consider ways and means of restoring and preserving their oral law. He collected all the lists and charts and from them he made a book which was called the Sepher Mischnaioth, or Mischnah - a Deuterosis, or secondary law. He divided it into six parts, each of which was divided into many chapters. We shall consider these later.
The Mischnah is the foundation and the principal part of the whole Talmud. This book was accepted by the Jews everywhere and was recognized as their authentic code of law. It was expounded in their Academies in Babylon - at Sura, Iumbaditha and Nehardea - and in their Academies in Palestine - at Tiberias, Iamnia and Lydda.
As their interpretations increased with the passing of time, the disputations and decisions of the doctors of the law concerning the Mischnah were written down, and these writings constituted another part of the Talmud called the Gemarah.
These two parts are so disposed throughout the whole Talmud that the Mischnah serves first as a kind of text of the law, and is followed by the Gemarah as an analysis of its various opinions leading to definite decisions.
All the precepts of the Mischnah, however, were not discussed in the Jewish schools. Those whose use was nullified by the destruction of the Temple, and those whose observation was possible only in the Holy Land were not commented upon. Their explanation was left until the coming of Elias and the Messiah. For this reason some parts of the Mischnah are lacking in the Gemarah.
In interpreting the Mischnah of Rabbi Jehuda, the schools of Palestine and Babylon followed each their own method, and by thus following their own way gave rise to a twofold Gemarah - the Jerusalem and the Babylonian versions. The author of the Jerusalem version was Rabbi Jochanan, who was head of the synagogue in Jerusalem for eighty years. He wrote thirty-nine chapters of commentaries on the Mischnah which he completed in the year 230 A.D.
The Babylonian Gemarah, however, was not compiled by any one person, nor at any one time. Rabbi Aschi began it in 327 A.D. and labored over it for sixty years. He was followed by Rabbi Maremar about the year 427 A.D., and it was completed by Rabbi Abina about the year 500 A.D. The Babylonian Gemarah has thirty-six chapters of interpretations.
This twofold Gemarah, added to the Mischnah, makes also a twofold Talmud: The Jerusalem version, which, on account of its brevity and obscurity, is not much used; and the Babylonian version, which has been held in the highest esteem by Jews of all times.
The Gemarah is followed by additions called Tosephoth.8 It was thus that Rabbi Chaia first styled his opinions on the Mischnah which were made by the doctors outside the schools were called Baraietoth,9 or extraneous opinions.
These Commentaries were further supplemented by other decisions called Piske Tosephoth, short theses and simple principles.
For nearly five hundred years after the Babylonian Talmud was completed, the study of literature was greatly hampered partly due to public calamities and partly owing to dissensions among the scholars. But in the eleventh century others wrote further additions to the Talmud. Chief among these were the Tosephoth of Rabbi Ascher.
Besides these there appeared the Perusch of Rabbi Moische ben Maimon, called by the Jews Rambam for short, by the Christians Maimonides, and by Rabbi Schelomo, Iarchi or Raschi.
Thus, the Mischna, Gemarah, Tosephoth, the marginal notes of Rabbi Ascher, the Piske Tosephoth and the Perusch Hamischnaioth of Maimonides, all collected into one, constitute a vast work which is called the Talmud.
The main parts of the Talmud, which we mentioned above, are six:
Each of these six parts, which the Jews call Schishah Sedarim - six orders or ordinances - is divided into books or tracts, called Massiktoth, and the books into chapters, or Perakim.10
The complete Talmud contains 63 books in 524 chapters.
Added to these are four other shorts tracts, which have not been included in the regular Talmud. They have been added by later writers and exponents.
These four are:
MASSEKHETH SOPHERIM - the Tract of Scribes. Treats of the mode of writing the books of the law. Has 21 chapters.
EBHEL RABBETI - a large treatise on Mourning. Has 14 chapters.
KALLAH - the Bride. On the acquisition of the bride. Has one chapter.
MASSEKHETH DEREKH ERETS - the Conduct of Lide. Divided into RABBAH - major parts, and ZUTA - the minor parts. Has 16 chapters. At the end is added a special chapter - PEREK SCHALOM - on Peace.
Since the Talmud was such a voluminous and disordered work, there was a need of a compendium which would facilitate its study. To supply this need, therefore, Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alphassi, in 1032, published a Shorter Talmud, which he called Halakhoth - Constitutions. He omitted all lengthy discussions and preserved only those parts which had to do with the practical things of life. Since this work, however, had no order to it, it was not considered of great worth.
The first to issue a well ordered work on Jewish Law was Maimonides, styled the "Eagle of the Synagogue." In 1180 he produced his celebrated work Mischnah Torah - Repetition of the Law, also called Iad Chazakah - the Strong Hand. It contains four parts or volumes and 14 books and includes the whole Talmud. Maimonides also included much philosophical discussion in this work and attempted to establish many laws of his own. Because of this he was excommunicated by his people and condemned to death. He fled to Egypt where he died in the year 1205.
In spite of this, the value of his work increased in time, and for a while an expurgated version was held in the highest esteem by the Jews. A drawback to this work is that it contains many laws which were of no value after the destruction of the Temple.
An edition of the work of Maimonides, expurgated of all his philosophical innovations and of all the old, useless laws, was edited in 1340, in strict accord with the ideas of the Rabbis, by Jacob ben Ascher, to which he gave the name Arbaa Turim - The Four Orders, which are:
Since Alphasi, Maimonides and Jacob ben Ascher disagreed on many points, which gave rise to different interpretations of the same law, there was great need of a book which would contain short, concise solutions to controversies, and which would supply to the Jewish people a law book worthy of; the name.
Joseph Karo, a Rabbi of Palestine (born 1488, died 1577), supplied this need by his celebrated; commentary on the Arbaa Turim, which he called Schulchan Arukh - the Prepared Table. Since, however, the customs of oriental Jews differed greatly from those of western Jews, even the Schulchan Arukh of Joseph Karo did not suffice for Jews everywhere. And for this reason Rabbi Mosche Isserles wrote a commentary on the Schulchan Arukh, entitled Darkhe Mosche, the Way of Moses, which received the same acceptance in the West as the work of Joseph Karo in the East.
At the present time, the Schulchan Arukh is regarded as the obligatory Law Code of the Jews, and they use it principally in their studies.11 Many commentaries have been written on each part of this book.
An important point to note is that this work has always been regarded by the Jews as holy. They have always held it, and still hold it, as more important than the Sacred Scriptures. The Talmud itself shows this very clearly:
In the tract Babha Metsia, fol. 33a, we read:
"Those who devote themselves to reading the Bible exercise a certain virtue, but not very much; those who study the Mischnah exercise virtue for which they will receive a reward; those, however, who take upon themselves to study the Gemarah exercise the highest virtue."
Likewise in the tract Sopherim XV, 7, fol. 13b:
"The Sacred Scriptures is like water, the Mischnah wine, and the Gemarah aromatic wine.
The following is a well-known and highly praised opinion in
the writings of the Rabbis:
"My son, give heed to the words of the scribes rather than to the words of the law."12
The reason for this is found in the tract Sanhedrin X, 3, f.88b:
"He who transgresses the words of the scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law."
Also when there are differences of opinion between the Law
and the doctors, both must be taken as the words of the Lord God.
In the tract Erubhin, f.13b, where it is related that there was a difference of opinion between the two schools of Hillel and Schamai, it is concluded that:
"The words of both are the words of the living God."
In the book Mizbeach,13 cap. V, we find the following opinion:
"There is nothing superior to the Holy Talmud."
Contemporary defenders of the Talmud speak of it almost in the same way.14
What Christians have thought of the Talmud is amply proved by the many edicts and decrees issued about it, by which the supreme rulers in Church and State proscribed it many times and condemned this sacred Secondary Law Code of the Jews to the flames.
In 553 the Emperor Justinian forbade the spread of the Talmudic books throughout the Roman Empire. In the 13th century "Popes Gregory IX and Innocent IV condemned the books of the Talmud as containing every kind of vileness and blasphemy against Christian truth, and ordered them to be burned because they spread many horrible heresies."16
Later, they were condemned by many other Roman Pontiffs - Julius III, Paul IV, Pius IV, Pius V, Gregory XIII, Clement VIII, Alexander VII, Benedict XIV, and by others who issued new editions of the Index of Forbidden Books according to the orders of the Fathers of the Council of Trent, and even in our own time.17
[As to the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Jews, see Appendix at the end of this book: "How the Popes Treated the Jews."]
At the beginning of the 16th century, when the peace of the Church was disturbed by new religions, the Jews began to distribute the Talmud openly, aided by the art of printing then recently invented. The first printed edition of the whole Talmud, containing all its blasphemies against the Christian religion,18 was published in Venice in the year 1520.19 And almost all Jewish books published in that century, which was favorable to them, are complete and genuine.
Towards the end of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th, when many famous men undertook diligently to study the Talmud, the Jews, fearing for themselves, began to expunge parts of the Talmud which was published at Basle in 1578 has been mutilated in many places.
And at Synod in Poland, in the year 1631, the Rabbis of Germany and many other countries declared that nothing which would annoy the Christians and cause persecution of Israel, should be printed. For this reason there are signs of many things missing in the Jewish books which were published in the following century and thereafter. The Rabbis explain from memory what these things mean, for they possess the genuine books which Christians rarely see.
However, Jewish books were published later with very few mutilations in Holland - where the Jews who were expelled from Spain were kindly received. The Talmud published there in 1644 - 1648 is almost similar to the Venetian edition.20
The latest device invented to deceive the censors was to insert the word haiah (was) with the genuine text, as if to indicate that the matter in question once had its place there.21 But by so doing they only cleanse the outside of the cup. For in many places they do show what they mean, ex.gr. by the words gam attah, "even now," viz. "this law obliges"; and aphilu bazzeman hazzeh, "even to this day" viz. "this law holds," and such like.22
We must add a few remarks about that other very well known book of the Jews, called the ZOHAR.
According to some Rabbis, Moses, after he had been instructed in the interpretation of the law on Mount Sinai, did not pass this information to Joshua nor he to the Elders, but to Aaron, Aaron to Eleazer, and so on until the oral teachings had been put into book form called the ZOHAR, so called from the name ZEHAR, meaning to shine forth. For it is an illustration of the books of Moses, a commentary on the Pentateuch.
The author is said to have been R. Schimeon ben Jochai, a disciple of R. Akibha who, fifty years after the destruction of the Temple, ended his life as a martyr about the year 120 A.D. in Hadrian's war against the Jews. Since, however, names of men appear in this book who lived many centuries after the year indicated, and since neither Rambam (R. Mosche ben Nachman), nor R. Ascher, who died about the year 1248 A.D., make no mention of it, it is more likely that those are nearer the truth who say that the book of Zohar first saw the light about the 13th century. Especially is this considered likely since about this time a book was produced which is similar in argument and style to the Chaldaic type of writing.
It consists of three volumes in large octavo.
Many other works have been published by the Jewish teachers which are used in the study of Jewish law, and which are held in high esteem since they explain many obscure passages in the Talmud. Some of them are cited in this book, and are as follows:
BIAR - Declaration, elucidation, Commentary on another Commentary. These declarations differ from one another.
HALAKOTH - usually written HILKHOTH - Decisions or Dissertations. Separate books of Holy Scriptures and of the Talmud by different Rabbis: Maimonides, Beshai, Edels, Moses of Kotzen, Kimchi and others. In most cases citations are given from HILKOTH AKUM by Maimonides. These contain dissertations on stars and planets and the status of nations. There is another - HILKOTH MAAKHALOTH ASAVOROTH - dissertation about forbidden foods.
IUCHASIN or SEPHER IUCHASIN - dissertations on lineage. Treats of Sacred and Jewish history from the beginning of the world until 1500. Printed at Cracow, 1580.
JALKUT - a collected commentary from various ancient books. Supposed to have not a literal but allegorical meaning. Author: Rabbi Shimeon of Frankfurt.
KED HAKKEMACH - Barrel of flour. Contains places of theological communities in alphabetical order. Author: Rabbi Bechai of Lublin.
MAGEN ABRAHAM - Shield of Abraham. Author: Perizola.
MIZBEACH HAZZAHABH - the Golden Altar. A Cabalistic book. Author: R. Schelomon ben Rabbi Mordechai. Printed at Basle, in 1602.
MACHZOR - a Cycle. Book of Prayers used on great festivals.
MENORATH HAMMAOR - Candlestick of light. A Talmudic book. Contains Aggadoth and Medraschim. i.e., allegorical and historical comments on the entire Talmud. Author: Rabbi Isaac Abhuhabh. Printed in 1544.
MAIENE HAIESCHUAH - Fountains of the Savior. An exquisite Commentary on Daniel by Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel. There are numerous disputations against Christians. Printed in 1551.
MIKRA GEDOLAH - the Great Convocation. A Hebrew Bible with commentaries by R. Salomon Iarchi and R. Ezra.
MASCHMIA IESCHUAH - The Preacher of Salvation. Explanations on all the Prophets. On future redemption. Author: R. Abarbanel.
NIZZACHON - Victory. Attacks on Christians and on the Four Gospels. Author: Rabbi Lipman. Printed in 1559.
SEPHER IKKARIM - Book on fundamentals or articles of faith. It contains one very bitter attack against the Christian faith.
EN ISRAEL - the Eye of Israel. A celebrated book. Has a second part - BETH JAKOBH - the House of Jacob. Embraces the most delightful Talmudic histories. Printed in Venice, in 1547.
SCHAARE ORAH - the Gates of Light. A most celebrated Cabalistic book. Author: Ben Joseph Gekatilia.
SCHEPHAA TAL - Abundance of Dew. A Cabalistic book. A key to the book of Zohar and other similar books. Author: Rabbi Schephtel Horwitz of Prague.
TOLDOTH IESCHU - the Generations of Jesus. A little pamphlet full of blasphemies and maledictions. Contains the history of Christ. Full of false and deceiving manifestations.
In preparing this booklet I have used the following source material:
The TALMUD. Edition of Amsterdam, 1644-48, in 14 volumes.
SCHULKHAN ARUKH, by Rabbi Joseph Karo. Edition of Venice, 1594. Without commentaries.
IORE DEAH. Numerous quotations. Edition of Krakow.
ZOHAR. Edition of Amsterdam, 1805. 3 volumes.
MIKRA GEDOLAH. Edition of Amsterdam, 1792, 12 volumes, edition of Basle, 1620, 2 volumes, edition of Venice.
HILKHOTH AKUM, of R. Maimonides, edition by Vossius, 1675
As auxiliary works I have used:
JOANNES BUXDORFIUS. a. Lexicon Chaldaicum, Talmudicum et Rabbinicum, Base, 1640. b. De Abreviaturis Hebraicis; Operis Talmudis Recensio; Biblicothea Rabbinica. Basle, 1712. c. Synagoga Judaica. Basle, 1712.
JOH. CHRISTOPHORI WAGENSEILII, Sota. Aldtorfi Noricum, 1674.
GEORGII ELIEZ EDZARDI: Tractatus talmudici "AVODA SARA." Hamburg, 1705.
JACOBI ECKER: "Der Judenspiegel im Lichte der Wahrheit," (The Jewish Mirror in the Light of Truth). Paderborn, 1884.
AUGUST ROHLING: Die Polemik und das Manschenopfer des Rabbinismus. (The Polemics and Human Sacrifice of Rabbinism). Paderborn, 1883.
I have only used the works of those who are held in the highest esteem by the Jews themselves, and to whom the Jews appeal when disputing with Christians, by quoting impartially the opinions of these learned men.23 Their great diligence in quoting from the texts of books which I was able to examine, has been a proof to me that I used the same diligence even in quoting from less known sources to which they have much greater access than I.
1 J. Singer: Should the Jews become Christians? p. 6. Vienna, 1884.
2 Daniel Chwolson: Do Jews use Christian Blood? pp. 11, 12, St. Petersburg, 1879.
3 Polish Magazine Izraelita (Warsaw) No. 48, p. 459c, 1891.
4 Dr. A. Jellenek: Gegen die Antisemiten (Against the Anti-Semites) p. 9, Vienna, 1882.
5 In this book the Hebrew text has been omitted -- Translator. [Restored in certain places via facsimile. -- JR]
6 cf. Rabbi Levi in Berakhoth, fol. 5a; Rabbi Iochanan in Megillah, f. 19b.
7 To prove this they appeal to Exodus Ch. XXIV, 12: "And the Lord God said to Moses, come up to me into the mountain, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." They assert that in this passage the words "tables of stone" mean the ten commandments, that "a law" means the Pentateuch, "commandments" mean the Mischnah; "which I have written" the Prophets and. the Hagiographers; and "that thou mayest teach them" the Gemarah. cf. Berakhoth, fol. 5a.
8 From Tosepheth, or Tosiphta, meaning addition.
9 From Baria, extraneous, or Baraietha, extraneous teaching.
10 From Seder, order; Massekheth, tract; Perek, head.
11 To Jews of today the Talmud has the same value as the works of the Church Fathers have for Christians. The Schulchan Arukh corresponds to our Compendium of Theology.
12 cf. Erubhin, f. 21b.
13 cf. Joan, Buxdorf, Recensio operis Talmud, p. 225.
14 cf. Talmud Babli, Tract. Berachoth, Berlin edit., 1842. Pref. p. 8.
15 cf. Authenticae Constitutiones, Novella 146.
16 cf. Corp. iuris can. VII Decretal, lib. V, Tit. IV, cap. 1.
17 In the latest edition of this Index Expurgatorius "by order of Our Holy Lord Pope Leo XIII now happily governing the Church of Christ," issued in 1887, "The Talmud and other Jewish books" are proscribed as follows: "Although in the Index issued by Pope Pius IV, the Jewish Talmud with all its glossaries, annotations, interpretations and expositions were prohibited; but if published without the name Talmud and without its vile calumnies against the Christian religion they could be tolerated; however Our Holy Lord Pope Clement VIII in his Constitution against impious writings and Jewish books, published in Rome in the year of Our Lord 1592 . . . proscribed and condemned them: it was not his intention thereby to permit or tolerate them even under the above conditions; for he expressly and specially stated and willed, that the impious Talmudic, Cabalistic and other nefarious books of the Jews be entirely condemned and that they must remain always condemned and prohibited, and that his Constitution about these books must be perpetually and inviolably observed."
The latest attempt to extirpate the Talmudic books was undertaken in 1510 by Emperor Maximilian who, having been urged thereto by the converted Jew Johannus Pfefferkorn, ordered that Jewish books be confiscated and handed over to the Universities to be examined. This gave rise to the famous "Reuchlinian" controversy, from the name of Reuchlin, who was adviser to the Duke of Wirtenberg, and who defended parts of the Talmud. He was upheld by the celebrated humanists, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Ulrich Hutten, Aegidius of Viterbo, and others. This controversy raged all over Europe. After much deliberation the universities of Erfurt, Moguntina, Louvain and Paris, accused Reuchlin of being a Jewish propagandist; the chief Inquisitor, Dominus Hoogstraten, however, accused him of depraved heresy and summoned him before the law. Finally the case was brought to Rome and the judges there, in 1516, favored the cause of Reuchlin. The case was closed by Pope Leo X who ordered both sides to remain silent, and without giving any definite decision on the matter. Thus, neither was Reuchlin declared to be innocent, nor the Talmud condemned to the flames.
18 A sample edition, consisting of 12 volumes folio, may be seen in the Imperial Hall of the Vienna Library, from which many copies have been made.
19 The Jews are wont to point triumphantly to the fact that it was in the same year that Martin Luther burned the Bull of Pope Leo X. cf. article by Em. Deitsch in the Quarterly Review Oct. 1867, entitled "What is the Talmud"?
20 Printed in small characters, in large quarto. It is to be noted that almost all editions of the Talmud have the same number of folios and the same disposition of the text. The large or small form depends upon the type.
21 Following is a sample of this: Schulchan Arukh, a part of the ancient Venetian edition of 1594 says: "As to those who worship the stars and planets, when there is no war between them and us . . . they are not to be set free," etc. In the same place in an edition published at Vilna in 1873 we read: "As to idolaters of the seven people, during the time when there WAS no war between them and us . . . they are not to be set free," etc.
22 cf. Choschen ham. 338, 10; Iore deah, 159, 1, etc.
23 ". . . The holy Christian religion has no need of false testimony, nor is it helped in any way by such." I. C. Wagens, in Sota, p. 298.