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is to be considered almost as a family loan, as a loan made to a man in want; for in case of a loan made to a merchant, even a Jew, profit adequate to the risk should be considered as lawful. Formerly the word usury carried no invidious meaning ; it simply implied any interest whatever. The word usury can no longer express the meaning of the Hebrew text; and accordingly the Bible of Osterwald, and that of the Portuguese Jews, call interest, that which Sacy, from the Vulgate, has called usury. The law of Moses, therefore, forbids all manner of interest on loan, not only between Jews, but between a Jew and his countryman, without distinction of religion. The loan must be gratuitous whenever it is to oblige those who claim our assistance, and when it is not intended for commercial speculation. We must not forget that these laws, so humane and so admirable at these early periods, were made for a people which then formed a state and held a rank among nations. If the remnants of this people, now scattered among all nations, are attentively considered, it will be seen that, since the Jews have been driven from Palestine, they no longer have had a common country, they no longer have had to maintain among them the primeval equality of property. Although filled with the spirit of their legislation, they have been sensible that the letter of the law could no longer be obeyed when its principle was done away; and they have, thcrefore, without any scruple, lent money on interest to trading Jews, as well as to men of different persuasions.
Twelft it questro N. Does—it forbid, or does it allow to take interest from strangers
We have seen, in the answer to the foregoing question, that the prohibition of usury, considered as the smallest interest, was a maxim of charity and of benevolence, rather than a commercial regulation. In this point of view it is equally condemned by the law of Moses and by the Talmud. We are generally for
bidden, always on the score of char. ity, to lend upon interest to our fellow citizens of different persuasions, as well as to our fellow Jews. The disposition of the law, which allows to take interest from the straner, evidently refers only to nations in commercial intercourse with us; otherwise there would be an evident contradiction between this passage and twenty others of the sacred writings. “The Lord your God loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment; love yetherefore the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deut. x. 18, 19. “One law shall be to him that is homeborn and to the stranger.” Exod. xii. 49. “Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.” Deut. i. 16. “If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, you shall not vex him.” Lev. xix. 33. “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Exod. xxii. 21. “If thy brother be waxen poor, or fallen in decay with thee, thou shalt then relieve him ; yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner.” Lev. xxv. 15. Thus the prohibition extended to the stranger who dwelt in Israel = the Holy Writ places them under the safe guard of God; he is a sacred guest, and God orders us to treat him like the widow and like the orphan. It is evident that the text of the Vulgate, “Extranei fenaberis et fratri tuo non faenaberis,” can be understood only as meaning foreign nations in commercial intercourse with us; and, even in this case, the Holy Writ, in allowing to take interest from the stranger, does not mean an extraordinary profit, oppressive and odious to the borrower. “Non licuisse Israelitis,” say the doctors, “usuras in moderatas exigere ab extraneis, etiam divitibus, res est per se nota.” Can Moses be considered as the lawgiver of the universe, because he was the lawgiver of the Jews Were the laws he gave to the people, which God had entrusted to his care, likely
to become the general laws of mankind “Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother.” What security had he, that, in the intercourse which would be naturally established between the Jews and foreign nations, these last would renounce customs £enerally prevailing in trade, and lend to the Jews without requiring any interest Was he then bound to sacrifice the interest of his people, and to impoverish the Jews to enrich foreign nations 2 Is it not absolutely absurd to reproach him with having put a restriction to the precept contained in Deuteronomy 2 What lawgiver but would have considered such a restriction as a natural principle of reciprocity 2 How far superior in simplicity, generosity, justice and humanity, is the law of Moses, on this head, to those of the Greeks, and of the Romans ? Can we find, in the history of the ancient Israelites, those scandalous scenes of rebellion, excited by the harshness of creditors towards their debtors; those frequent abolitions of debts to prevent the multitude, impoverished by the extortions of lenders, from being driven to despair : The law of Moses and its interpreters have distinguished, with a praiseworthy humanity, the different uses of borrowed money. Is it to maintain a family Interest is forbidden. Is it to undertake a commercial speculation, by which the principal is adventured Interest is allowed, even between Jews. “Lend to the poor,” says Moses. Here the tribute of gratitude is the only kind of interest allowed ; the satisfaction of obliging is the sole recompense of the conferred benefit. The case is different in regard to capitals employed in extensive commerce : there, Moses allows the lender to come in for a share of the profits of the borrower ; and as commerce was scarcely known among the Israelites, who were exclusively addicted to agricultural pursuits, and as it was carried on only with strangers, that is, with neighbouring nations, it was allowed to share its profits with them. It is in this view of the subject that M. Clermont Tonnere made use of
these remarkable words in the first National Assembly: “It is said that usury is permitted to the Jews; this assertion is grounded only on a false interpretation of a principle of benevolence and fraternity which forbade them from lending upon interest to one another.” This opinion is also that of Pufsendorf and of other writers on the law of nations. The antagonists of the Jews have laid a great stress on a passage of Maimonides, who seems to have represented as a precept the
expression anochri tassih, (make pro
fit of the stranger.) But although Maimonides has presumed to maintain this opinion, it is well known that his sentiments have been most completely refuted by the learned Rabbi Abar. banel. We find, besides, in the Talmud, a treatise of anacot, (perfection) that one of the ways to arrive at perfection, is to lend without interest to the stranger, even to the idolator. Whatever besides might have been the condescension of God to the Jews, if we may be allowed the expression, it cannot be reasonably supposed that the common Father of mankind, could, at any time, make usury a precept. The opinion of Maimonides, which excited all Jewish doctors against him, was principally condemned by the famous Rabbies Moses de Gironda and Solomon Benadaret, upon the grounds, first, that he had relied on the authority of Sifri, a private doctor, whose doctrine has not been sanctioned by the Talmud : for it is a general rule that every rabbinical opinion that is not sanctioned by that work is considered as null and void. Secondly, because if Maimonides understood that the word nochri (stranger,) was applicable to the Canaanean people doomed by God to destruction, he ought not to have confounded a public right, arising from an extraordinary order of God to the Israelites, considered as a nation, with the private right of an individual towards another individual of that same nation. It is an incontrovertible point, according to the Talmud, that interest, even among Israelites, is lawful in commercial operations, where the lender, running some of the risk of the borrower, becomes a sharer in his profits. This is the opinion of all Jewish doctors. It is evident, that opinions, teeming with absurdities, and contrary to all 1ules of social morality, although advanced by a Rabbi, can no more be imputed to the general doctrine of the Jews, than similar notions, if advanced by Catholic theologians, could be attributed to the evangelical doctrine. The same may be said of the general charge made against the Hebrews, that they are naturally inclined to usury. It cannot be denied that some are to be found, though not so many as is generally supposed, who follow that nefarious trafiic condemned by their religion. But if there are some not over-nice in this particular, is it just to accuse one hundred thousand individuals of this vice Would it not be deemed an injustice to lay the same imputation on all Christians, because some of them are guilty of usury? pp. 197–207. The Sermons, Odes, and the Hymns, composed in Hebrew, form by no means the least interesting part of the volume. The following verses will serve as specimens of the modest and delicate praises lavished on NA Po Leo N THE GREAT |
Extract from the Ode composed by A. M. Collogna.
On the deeds of the mighty will I raise a song ; on the deeds of the hero, chief of men, unmatched in battles. Near him the glory of kings fades and vanishes : they hide before him their diminished heads. Their greatness is a thing of nought.
Which of his deeds shall first in. spire the bard Wonders upon wonders are engraved on glory's adamantime tablet ! Numberless are his victories and countless his triumphs. Who to each bright orb in the starry heaven can assign a name, or six a stedfast eye on the Father of light, blazing forth in his meridian glory !
Early were his deeds in arms. The hills of Montenotte beheld him victorious: Egypt, that ancient land of
slavery,"felt the strength of his arm. Ulm, Marengo, Austerlitz witnessed his prowess, nor weak was there the strife of death.
I)istant hills shook with his warlike thunder : by his strong arm his enemies were humbled. The mighty of the earth have bent before him. He has said to nations, “Let there be peace,” and the universe is at rest.
Firmly on wisdom is his throne fixed on high justice and truth uphold his crown. He pours the balmy oil of grace into the wounds of innocence ; he heals the galling sores of oppression. The proud and the haughty he heeds not ; they stand silent and abashed before him.
He has placed in justice the delight of his heart : unborn races shall hail him Father of his people. By him the happiness of nations rests on the tables of the law as on a rock. The wreaths of victory adorn his brow, the gracious seat of law-inspiring wisdom. pp. 231, 232.
Lxtract from the Ode composed by A1. j. Mayer.
No mortal eye can look on the Fath. er of light, when, in mid career, bursting from clouds and mists, dark rolling on each side, he pursues the brightness of his steps. The green hills lift their dewy heads, the flowers glitter in the valley, the soit gale wafts fragrancy around.
Such is NA poleo N in his career of glory ! Weak are the bards of present days to raise the song of his same : too high for them are his mighty deeds. In wonder their voice is lost; the untuned lyre drops from their uplifted hands. Thus the sun of wisdom and strength gladdens the world, rising above mortal praise.
How great thy destiny, O Napole. on ' Who can be compared with thee among the glory of nations : Who among renowned warriors, among sage lawgivers, ever raised his fame near to thine, O first of mortal men —Bright in days of old was the glory of Athens and of Rome: dim is their light now before thee. On thee the eyes of nations are fixed; they wonder, and bless thy name.
Who is like unto thee, O Napot. Eox, in the days of thy glory, when thou graspest the death-dealing steel, that thy allies might rest behind its lightning Like the eagle of the rock was thy flight over Germany's plains. Thy heroes innumerable crowded around thee : the thunder of war was in their hands, carrying destruction among the foe. Thus the cloud, rising from the abyss, borne along by the western wind, dark, vast, terrible, overspreads the blackened field.
The earth trembled, but now rests in peace. Far distant nations bent before the majesty of thy brow. Ulm, Marengo, Austerlitz, the plains of Egypt, beheld the feats of Napoleon. “Raise altars to the God of battles,” he said, and altars arose from their ruins : bitterness fled from our hearts at the dawn of his grace. Happy, happy are the children of France. Nations had but a glimpse of the star of our pride, swiftly gliding through the mist tinged with its glory.
Bards of Israel, let your harmonious songs thrill in my soul, that, amidst the voice of nations, the same of the hero may be raised in the ancient words of Jacob, the words of the youth of our people. The great NA Po Leo N looked down on the children of wo, sport of the proud and of the oppressor: he gathered them round him like a tender father : from the dust he raised them to stand as a mark of his might. Just are his judgments great and big with gladness is the propitious light of his wisdom. Before it the darkening cloud of shame retires, rolling back on the foes of our people. pp. 235–238.
Extract from the Hymn composed by M. S. Wittersheim.
Eminent in war is the hero among chiefs. The Nile and the Jordan have beheld his deeds, terrible in battles. The lightning of his steel gleams on the proud in arms; but he exulteth
III. In no case can there be more than one Consistorial Synagogue for each department. . IV. No particular Synagogue can be established, but after being proposed by the Consistorial Synagogue to the competent authority. Each particular Synagogue shall be superintended by a Rabbi and two elders, who shall be named by the competent authorities. V. There shall be a Grand Rabbi in each Consistorial Synagogue. VI. The Consistories shall be composed, as much as possible, of a Grand Rabbi, and three other Israelites, two of whom shall be chosen among the inhabitants of the town which is the seat of the Consistory. VII. The oldest member shall be President of the Consistory. He shall take the title of Elder of the Consistory. VIII. In each Consistorial district the competent authority shall name twenty-five Notables among the Israelites who pay the largest contributions. IX. These Notables shall name the members of the Consistory, who must be approved by the competent authority. X. No one can be a member of the Consistory if he is not thirty years of age, if he has been a bankrupt, unless he honourably paid afterwards, or if he is known to be an usurer. XI. Every Israelite, wishing to settle in France, or in the kingdom of Italy, shall give notice of his intention, within three months after his arrival, to the Consistory nearest his place of residence. XII. The functions of the Consistory shall be, 1st. To see that the Rabbies do not, either in public or in private, give any instructions or explanations of the law, in contradiction to the answers of the assembly, confirmed by the decisions of the GREAT . SAN HE DR1 M. 2nd. To maintain order in the interior of Synagogues, to inspect the administration of particular Synagogues, to settle the assessment, and to regulate the use of the sums necessary for the maintenance of the Mosaic worship, and to see
that for cause or under the pretence of religion, no praying assembly be formed without being expressly authorised. 3d. To encourage, by all possible means, the Israelites of the Consistorial district to follow useful professions, and to report to government the names of those who cannot render a satisfactory account of their means of subsistence. 5th. To give annually to government the number of Jewish conscripts within the district. XIII. There shall be formed in Paris a General Consistory, composed of three Rabbies and two other Israelites. XIV. The Rabbies of the Central Consistory shall be selected from the Grand Rabbies, and the rules contained in the tenth article shall apply to all others. XV. A member of the Central Consistory shall go out every year, but he may always be re-elected. XVI. The vacant places shall be filled by the remaining members. The member elect shall not take his place till his election is approved by government. XVII. The functions of the Central Consistory are, 1st. To correspond with the Consistories. 2nd. To watch over the execution of every article of the present regulations. Sd. To denounce to the competent authority all infractions of these said regulations, either through negligence or through design. 4th. To confirm the nomination of Rabbies, and to propose to the competent authority, when necessary, the removal of Rabbies and of members of Consistories. XVIII. The Grand Rabbi shall be named by the twenty five Notables, mentioned in the eighth article. XIX. The new Grand Rabbi elect shall not enter into his functions till he has been approved by the Central Consistory. XX. No Rabbi can be elected, "1st. If he is not a native of France or of Italy, or if he has not been naturalized.