by Douglas Reed
“The Talmud was regarded almost as the supreme authority by the majority of Jews … Even the Bible was relegated to a secondary place” (the Jewish Encyclopaedia). “The absolute superiority of the Talmud over the Bible of Moses must be recognized by all” (the Archives Israelites, quoted by Mgr. Landrieux). “The words of the elders are more important than the words of the Prophets” (the Talmud, Treatise Berachoth, i.4.).
The compilation of the Talmud began at Jamnia, the part played in
It was in effect a massive addition to the “statutes and judgments” of Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Numbers. All the laws which “the centre” enacted were appended to the Torah as the “Oral Torah,” having equal divine origin. Then they were written down in the Mishna. Later again (under the oft-used pretext of “completing” the work) immense records of rabbinical discussions and rulings were added in the Gemara, but as the Gemara was the product of two distinct Jewish communities, those of Jerusalem in the fifth and of Babylon in the seventh century, there are two Talmuds, known as the Palestinian and the Babylonian.
The Talmud, which thus was produced during the Christian era, is anti-Christian. It is supposed to derive from the same original source as the Torah; the priestly scribes who compiled it once more claimed to revise or expand under powers “orally” bestowed on
The copy of the Christian Bible which I have states that “the churches of all denominations receive and accept” the Old Testament “as given by inspiration of God, therefore being for them a Divine rule or guide of faith and practice,” a ruling which comes down from the Council of Trent. A question therefore arises: in what way was the inspiration of the Talmud different from that of the Torah? If it was not different, then why should not the anti-Christian Talmud be added to the Christian Bible?
If that were done the entire work would extend along several shelves of a library, and the New Testament would be a tiny pamphlet, lost among and excommunicated by the Talmudic mass, the teaching of which is thus summarized by the Talmudic scholar Drach:
“The precepts of justice, of equity, of charity towards one's neighbours, are not only not applicable with regard to the Christian, but constitute a crime in anyone who would act differently … The Talmud expressly forbids one to save a
non-Jew from death … to restore lost goods, etc., to him, to have pity on him.”
The theological decision about the “equal divine authority” of the Torah seems to have introduced an element of confusion into the Christian lesson from which Christianity itself in the end might not recover.
The Talmudic precepts just quoted are not essentially different in nature from those included in Deuteronomy when that “second Law” was made public a thousand years before the Palestinian Talmud was completed; they are merely given a specifically anti-Christian application.
Why was the Talmud necessary at all? The reasons seem clear. The Judeans had been finally dispersed about the world, or at any rate until such time as these “exiles” should be “in-gathered” and congregate again around the temple. The world where they were scattered contained a new “enemy” in the form of a religion which had been born in the very declaration that Phariseeism was heresy: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Moreover, the Judaic Law had become known through translation to the heathen world, which had even found some things in it that it could use. Thus the special people, if they were to be kept apart, needed a new Law of their own, which could be kept from the eyes of the Gentiles. The Torah needed “a hedge” about it, strong enough to preserve the exiles both from absorption by other peoples and from “a-whoring after other gods.”
The Talmud was essentially the hostile answer to Christianity, the order-of-battle revised in the light of “the enemy's” new dispositions. The lay encyclopaedias (which in our generation have been made untrustworthy on subjects related to Judaism) disguise this fact from Gentile readers. The one now before me, for instance, says, “The Talmud has been attacked by Christians at times - quite unfairly - as anti-Christian.” The insertion of two suggestive words by some partisan Scribe causes this volume to purvey demonstrable untruth and to convert a factual statement into a propagandist one. The attack on Christianity gave the Talmud its distinctive tone and is indeed the only new thing in the Talmud. Its other teaching remains that of Ezekiel and the Pharisees.
The Jewish Encyclopaedia says, “It is the tendency of Jewish legends in the Talmud, the Midrash” (the sermons in the synagogues) “and in the Life of Jesus Christ (Toledoth Jeshua) that originated in the Middle Ages to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to him illegitimate birth, magic and a shameful death.” He is generally alluded to as “that anonymous one,” “liar,” “impostor” or “bastard” (the attribution of bastardy is intended to bring him under The Law as stated in Deuteronomy 23.2: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord”). Mention of the name, Jesus, is prohibited in Jewish households.
The work cited by the Jewish Encyclopaedia as having “originated in the Middle Ages” is not merely a discreditable memory of an ancient past, as that allusion might suggest; it is used in Hebrew schools today. It was a rabbinical production of the Talmudic era and repeated all the ritual of mockery of
The significant thing about this bogus life-story (the only information about Jesus which Jews were supposed to read) is that in it Jesus is not crucified by Romans. After his appearance in Jerusalem and his arrest there as an agitator and a sorcerer he is turned over to the Sanhedrin and spends forty days in the pillory before being stoned and hanged at the Feast of the Passover; this form of death exactly fulfils the Law laid down in Deuteronomy 21.22 and 17.5, whereas crucifixion would not have been in compliance with that Judaic Law. The book then states that in hell he suffers the torture of boiling mud.
The Talmud also refers to Jesus as “Fool,” “sorcerer,” “profane person,” “idolator,” “dog,” “child of lust” and the like more; the effect of this teaching, over a period of centuries, is shown by the book of the Spanish Jew Mose de Leon, republished in 1880, which speaks of Jesus as a “dead dog” that lies “buried in a dunghill.” The original Hebrew texts of these Talmudic allusions appear in Laible's Jesus Christus im Talmud. This scholar says that during the period of the Talmudists hatred of Jesus became “the most national trait of Judaism,” that “at the approach of Christianity the Jews were seized ever and again with a fury and hatred that were akin to madness,” that “the hatred and scorn of the Jews was always directed in the first place against the person of Jesus” and that “the Jesus-hatred of the Jews is a firmly-established fact, but they want to show it as little as possible.”
This wish to conceal from the outer world that which was taught behind the Talmudic hedge led to the censoring of the above-quoted passages during the seventeenth century. Knowledge of the Talmud became fairly widespread then (it was frequently denounced by remonstrant Jews) and the embarrassment thus caused to the Talmudic elders led to the following edict (quoted in the original Hebrew and in translation by P.L.B. Drach, who was brought up in a Talmudic school and later became converted to Christianity):
“This is why we enjoin you, under pain of excommunication major, to print nothing in future editions, whether of the Mishna or of the Gemara, which relates whether for good or evil to the acts of Jesus the Nazarene, and to substitute instead a circle like this: O, which will warn the rabbis and schoolmasters to teach the young these passages only viva voce. By means of this precaution the savants among the Nazarenes will have no further pretext to attack us on this subject” (decree of the Judaist Synod which met in
This vilification of the founder of another religion sets Judaism apart from
other creeds and the Talmud from other literature published in the name of religion. Muslims, Buddhists, Confucians, Christians and others do not hate other creeds or their founders as such. They are content to differ and to believe that the paths may one day meet, God deciding the meeting-point.
For instance, the Koran describes Jesus as “strengthened with the Holy Spirit” and the Jews are reproached with rejecting “the Apostle of God,” to whom was given “the Evangel with its guidance and light.” Of his mother, the Koran says, “O Mary! verily hath God chosen thee and purified thee, and chosen thee above the women of the world,” and, “Jesus, the son of Mary, illustrious in this world, and in the next, and one of those who have near access to God.”
The central message of the Talmud, the newest “new Law,” is plain: it specifically extended the Law to apply to Christianity and left no doubt about the duty of a Jew towards it.
Another motive for the new compendium was the problem created for the inner sect by the fact that the Gentiles had found much in the translated Torah that appealed to them (despite the obvious fact that it was lethally directed against them). The earlier Levitical scribes could not foresee that (because they could not foresee the translation itself). The ruling sect needed a new Law of its own, into which “stranger” eyes could not pry, and it needed to make the Jews understand that, though the heathen inexplicably had bound the racio-religious Law into the Christian Bible, this Law nevertheless still was the Law of the Jews alone, and inexorably in force.
Thus the Talmud set out to widen the gap and heighten the barrier between the Jews and others. An example of the different language which the Torah spoke, for Jews and for Gentiles, has previously been given: the obscure and apparently harmless allusion to “a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy, 32.21). According to the article on Discrimination against Gentiles in the Jewish Encyclopaedia the allusion in the original Hebrew is to “vile and vicious Gentiles,” so that Jew and Gentile received very different meanings from the same passage in the original and in the translation. The Talmud, however, which was to reach only Jewish eyes, removed any doubt that might have been caused in Jewish minds by perusal of the milder translation; it specifically related the passage in Deuteronomy to one in Ezekiel, 23.20, and by so doing defined Gentiles as those “whose flesh is as the flesh of asses and whose issue is like the issue of horses”! In this spirit was the, “interpretation” of The Law continued by the Talmudists.
The Talmudic edicts were all to similar effect. The Law (the Talmud laid down) allowed the restoration of a lost article to its owner if “a brother or neighbour,” but not if a Gentile. Book-burning (of Gentile books) was recommended (book-burning is a Talmudic invention, as the witch-hunt was prescribed by the Torah). The benediction, “Blessed be Thou … who has not made me a goi,” was to be recited daily. Eclipses were of bad augury for Gentiles only. Rabbi Levi laid down that the injunction not to take revenge (Leviticus 19.18) did not apply to
Gentiles, and apparently invoked Ecclesiastes 8.4 in support of his ruling (a discriminatory interpretation then being given to a passage in which the Gentile could not suspect any such intention).
The Jew who sells to a Gentile landed property bordering on the land of another Jew is to be excommunicated. A Gentile cannot be trusted as witness in a criminal or civil suit because he could not be depended on to keep his word like a Jew. A Jew testifying in a petty Gentile court as a single witness against a Jew must be excommunicated. Adultery committed with a non-Jewish woman is not adultery “for the heathen have no lawfully wedded wife, they are not really their wives.” The Gentiles are as such precluded from admission to a future world.
Finally, the Talmudic interpretation of the original moral commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,” is that “man shall occupy himself with the study of Holy Scripture and of the Mishna and have intercourse with learned and wise men.” In other words, the man who best proves his love of God is he who studies the Talmud and shuns his Gentile fellow-man.
An illustrative glimpse from our present time sometimes best shows the effect produced on human minds by centuries of Talmudic rule. In 1952 a Mr. Frank Chodorov published this anecdote: “One very cold night the rabbi tottered into our house in a pitiful condition; it took half a dozen glasses of boiling tea to thaw him out. He then told how a sympathetic goy had offered him a pair of gloves and why he had refused the gift; a Jew must not be the instrument of bringing a mitvah, or blessing, on a non-believer. This was the first time, I believe, that I came smack up against the doctrine of the ‘chosen people', and it struck me as stupid and mean.”
So much for the “hedge” which the Talmud set up between the Jews and mankind, and for the feeling of contempt and hatred for “strangers” which it set out to instil in the Jews. What did it do to the Jews themselves? Of this, the Jewish Encyclopaedia says, “The Talmudists made the Torah into a penal code.” For once, in this painstakingly accurate work, the meaning is not quite clear; the Torah already was a penal code (as perusal of it today will show), and its penalties had sometimes been applied (by Ezra and Nehemiah against the Jews; and for that matter by the Romans, at the behest of the Sanhedrin, against the “prophet and dreamer of dreams,” Jesus). Possibly the meaning is that, under the Talmudists, the penal code was regularly enforced, and its provisions strengthened.
That is certainly true; the rabbinical practice, previously cited, of “encouraging lynching as an extra-legal preventive,” because they were not allowed by host-governments to pronounce death sentences, shows in how real a sense the Talmud could be applied as “a penal code.” It was a very far cry from the few moral commandments of remote tradition to the multitudinous laws and regulations of the Talmud, which often forbade moral behaviour and assigned drastic punishments for “transgressions.” Observance of these laws, not moral
behaviour, remained the basis.
The Talmudic Law governed every imaginable action of a Jew's life anywhere in the world: marriage, divorce, property settlements, commercial transactions, down to the pettiest details of dress and toilet. As unforeseen things frequently crop in daily life, the question of what was legal or illegal (not what was right or wrong) in all manner of novel circumstances had incessantly to be debated, and this produced the immense records of rabbinical dispute and decisions in which the Talmud abounds.
Was it as much a crime to crush a flea as to kill a camel on the sacred day? One learned rabbi allowed that the flea might be gently squeezed, and another thought its feet might even be cut off. How many white hairs might a sacrificial red cow have and yet remain a red cow? What sort of scabs required this or that ritual of purification? At which end of an animal should the operation of slaughter be performed? Ought the high priest to put on his shirt or his hose first? Methods of putting apostates to death were debated; they must be strangled, said the elders, until they opened their mouths, into which boiling lead must be poured. Thereon a pious rabbi urged that the victim's mouth be held open with pincers so that he not suffocate before the molten lead enter and consume his soul with his body. The word “pious” is here not sardonically used; this scholar sought to discover the precise intention of “the Law.”
Was Dr. Johnson acquainted with or ignorant of the Talmud; the subject might prove a fascinating one for a literary debating society. He gave one argument its quietus by declaring, “There is no settling the point of precedence between a louse and a flea.” Precisely this point had been discussed, and settled, among the Talmudic scholars. Might a louse or a flea be killed on the Sabbath? The Talmudic reponse was that the first was allowed and the second was a deadly sin.
“The Talmud became the unbreakable husk around a kernel determined to survive; it encased the heart of the Jew with a spirituality which though cold as ice was strong as steel to protect … The Talmud, which they carried with them everywhere, became their home,” A home made of ice and steel, behedged and walled around, with all the windows stopped and the doors barred; the picture is Dr. Kastein's.
In this home the Jews, “owing to the acceptance of the idea of the Chosen People, and of salvation … could interpret everything that happened only from the standpoint of themselves as the centre.” The planet swam in space, among the myriad stars, only to enthrone them on a mound of gold in a temple surrounded by heathen dead; “the Law raised an insuperable barrier against the outside world.”
No Jew, save a Talmudic scholar, could know all of this huge compendium. Probably no Gentile could gain access to an unedited version. A college of specialists and a lifetime of work would be needed to compare such translations
as have been made with the originals, if they were made available. Many students, until recently, found the lack of translations significant, but the present writer cannot see that this is important. Enough is known of the Talmud (and most of this from Jewish or converted-Jewish sources) for its nature to be clear, and nothing is gained by heaping proof endlessly on proof. Ample enlightenment can be obtained from the Jewish Encyclopaedia, the German translation of the
The Talmud is admittedly manmade. The Torah was attributed to the voice of Jehovah, recorded by Moses. This is of great significance.
The reason for the difference is obvious: Mosaic manuscripts “hoary with the dust of ages” could not be indefinitely discovered. The scribes had to accept the responsibility, simply declaring that in doing so they used the absolute power of interpretation “orally” given to the first of their line. Thus they revealed the truth: that They, and none other, were God!
Dr. Kastein was accurate in saying, “It was not God who willed these people and their meaning; it was this people who willed this God and this meaning,” or he would have been accurate had he said, “these scribes” instead of “this people.” The earlier generation of scribes had willed the revelation made in Deuteronomy; the later one willed the Talmudic God and demanded that “these people” accept the Talmud as a continuation of the revelation earlier “willed.”
When the Talmud was completed the question which the future had to answer was whether the central sect would succeed in imposing this New Law on the scattered Jews, as Ezra and Nehemiah, with Persian help, had inflicted the New Covenant on the Judahites in
They did succeed. In 1898, at the Second World Zionist Congress at Basel, a Zionist from Russia, Dr. Mandelstamm of Kieff, declared, “The Jews energetically reject the idea of fusion with other nationalities and cling firmly to their historical hope, i.e., of world empire.”
The Twentieth Century is witnessing the attempt to consummate that hope.
Probably the institution of the ghetto chiefly helped the Talmudists to this success.
In the Twentieth Century the masses have been misled to think of “the ghetto” as a kind of concentration camp for Jews set up by Gentile persecutors. The same operation on fact has been performed on the entire history of oppression in the West; in the Twentieth Century all else has been drained away until what remains is presented solely as “the Jewish persecution.”
The many persecutions of men during the last 1900 years have involved the Jews in proportion to their numbers, so that their share of the total mass of suffering was small (in the most notorious case of the present century, that of
The ghetto was not something inflicted on the Jews by the Gentiles. It was the logical product of the Talmudic Law, and derived directly from the experiment in
The first ghetto was that which the Babylonian rulers allowed the Levites to set up in
“The ghetto, friend, the ghetto, where all hopes at birth decay.”
Jews who never saw a ghetto carry a half-conscious memory of it within them like a haunting fear, yet it was essentially a Talmudist conception, to which their ancestors surrendered. It was the perfect means of corralling a scattered congregation, imprisoning people's minds, and wielding power over them.
The demand for a ghetto often came from the Talmudists (that is to say, outside
In ancient Alexandria (the New York of its day) and in medieval Cairo and Cordova the Jewish quarters were established at the insistence of the rabbis, intent on keeping their flock isolated from others. In 1084 the Jews of Speyer petitioned the ruling German prince to set up a ghetto; in 1412, at Jewish request, a ghetto law was enacted throughout
When the Roman ghetto was destroyed at Mussolini's order in the early 1930's the Jewish press (as Mr. Bernard J. Brown records) lamented the event in such words as these:
“One of the most unique phenomena of Jewish life in Goluth is gone. Where but a few months ago a vibrant Jewish life was pulsating, there now remains a few
half-destroyed buildings as the last vestige of the quondam ghetto. It has fallen victim to the Fascist passion for beauty and under Mussolini's order the ghetto has been razed.…”
The implication of this is that the razing of the ghetto was “Fascism,” just as the original creation of ghettoes (at Jewish demand) is presented as persecution by the Zionist historians of today.
With emancipation the ghetto disappeared; its maintenance would too blatantly have shown that the rulers of Jewry had no true intention of sharing in emancipation on an equal basis.
The Jewish Encyclopaedia recorded in its 1903 edition that “in the whole civilized world there is now not a single ghetto, in the original meaning of the word: The qualification is important, because in many places and ways the Jews continue the closed-community life, though without the identifying walls, and the law forbidding the sale of neighbour-land to Gentiles, without permission, has not lapsed (to give one instance, illustrative to those who know the city: in Montreal an entire district east of the Mountain has by such methods been made almost as solidly Jewish as if it were a ghetto).
The decline of the ghetto, during the century of emancipation, was a blow to the main prop of Talmudic power. A substitute had to be found unless the ghetto-spirit (as distinct from the physical ghetto) was to disintegrate altogether, and one was found in Zionism, which is the new method devised to re-corral the communities:
“There are many who desire greater control over Jews by Jews, and who resent the dissolution of this control in Russia, where once a ghetto made such control easy and absolute” (Rabbi Elmer Berger). “Only the intellectually blind can fail to note that the promotion of group life, centered around ancient religious traditions and cultures, is a return to the ghetto … There can be no glory in a group of people striving to perpetuate ghetto life … Even a cursory reading of history shows that the Jew built his own ghettoes” (Mr. Bernard J. Brown).
Zionism is the true revival of Talmudic ghettoism, as these two Jewish authorities state. It is designed to undo the work of emancipation, to re-segregate the Jews, and to reimpose the creed of “severance” on them in full force. The chauvinist appeal of conquest and empire in the
The direction in which Jews were moving before Zionism set out to recapture them may be seen in this quotation from the article on The Attitude of Modern Judaism in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1916:
“Modern Judaism as inculcated in the catechism and explained in the declarations of the various rabbinical conferences, and as interpreted in the sermons of modern rabbis, is founded on the recognition of the unity of the human races; the law of righteousness and truth being supreme over all men, without distinction of race, or creed, and its fulfilment being possible for all.
Righteousness is not conditioned by birth. The Gentiles may attain unto as perfect a righteousness as the Jews … In the modern synagogues, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour like thyself' (Leviticus 29) signified every human being.”
Much has changed since 1916, and in 1955 these words are but the picture of what might have been. No doubt individual rabbis continue to “interpret their sermons” in this sense, but unless they are of the stuff of which heroes and martyrs are made they cannot long defy their congregations, and these have been taken back centuries by the appeal of Zionism.
The Zionists have gained political control over Gentile governments and the Jewish masses alike, so that what the individual remonstrant says is of little weight. The Zionists have restored the Levitical Law, in its Pharisaic and Talmudic interpretations, in full force. Their actions towards others in the past have been and in the future will be guided by that, and not by what “the attitude of modern Judaism” was in 1916.
The great change came in the year, 1917, which followed the publication of the words quoted above. The tradition of the Talmud and the ghettoes was still too strong, among the masses of Jewry, for “the attitude of modern Judaism” to prevail over the fanatical elders who then appeared.