Page:Zionism 9204 Peace Conference 1920.pdf/22

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
[No. 162

a vivid picture of these pilgrim fathers in a chapter entitled 'Safed in the Sixteenth Century'. He translates the words of one of the greatest of them, Rabbi Joseph Caro:

After nearly fifteen hundred years of living in the exile and persecution, God remembered unto his people his covenant with their fathers, and brought them back from their captivity, one of a city and two of a family, from the corners of the earth to the land of glory, and they settled in the city of Safed, the desire of all lands.

Safed was preferred to Jerusalem because both the Jews and the Turks of Jerusalem were at the time more exacting and even hostile to alien immigrants. The Jewish community in Safed soon grew to over a thousand families and exceeded that of Jerusalem; and its spiritual wealth—for it was famous for its Kabbalists—was a greater magnet than the importance of its wool trade. The distinction between the business or agricultural Jew and the scholar or saint, who cares nothing for material gain, and is satisfied with his share of the Halukah provided by the charitable Jews of Europe and America, has subsisted to this very day.


§5 The French Revolution

In the eighteenth century imaginative and emotional religion tended to be superseded or overshadowed by Rationalism. Jews were as 'enlightened' as Gentiles; and the scientific movement of the time found expression in the French Revolution. Montesquieu, the philosopher, commenced the enfranchisement of the Jew; Mirabeau, the patriot, carried it on; and Napoleon completed it. It was this that led to the eventual emancipation of the Jews of western Europe and a renaissance of Jewish literature under Mendelssohn. The Mendelssohnian school brought about a great linguistic change. The vernacular took the place of Hebrew. The Bible first, and then text-books of science and art, history and geography, poetry, and even novels, were written in German but printed