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The Life of a Pious Israelite

The subjoined principles for the direction of a pious life are taken from Les Archives Israelites, credited, to the Israelite of the Nineteenth Century. They are the production of the late Dr. Creitznach of Frankfort on the Maine, who, as we learn, entertained some peculiar ideas on the subject of rabbinical authority. As an entire performance they present a clear and concise view of the principles and views of Judaism, we therefore offer them as an exposition of what a learned Jew considered his doctrines and his duties both religiously and morally. And though some few may be considered objectionable, inasmuch as the ambiguity of the language, especially that of the last, may lead one to suppose that Dr. C. was somewhat tinctured with the notions of the free modern school to which we are honestly opposed: we consider that we render an acceptable service to our readers by giving them an opportunity of possessing a concise summary of their religion which, as a whole, possesses the rare merit of brevity and clearness. We certainly do not share all his views; but it is not necessary, at this moment, to point out where we differ. On a future occasion, when discussing some of the modern Jewish writings, we shall probably have ample opportunity to speak more at large on this interesting topic; we will, therefore, dismiss it now without farther remarks.

1. The pious Israelite speaks with the most profound veneration of the books of Holy Writ and their contents, and carefully avoids all expressions that can lower them in the eyes of the people.

2. He speaks of other religions suitably and with respect, seeing in them the support of morals and the public peace.

3. He proclaims himself loudly, and with a joyful pride, a follower of the faith of his fathers, and seeks only the glory of being counted among the noblest and the best of his community.

4. He honours God from the bottom of his heart, having always present to his mind the power, the wisdom, the goodness of the great Creator, that are proved to us by the phenomena, and the history of the world.

5. He loves God with all his soul, all his heart and all his means; and is ever ready to sacrifice his all, rather than disobey his God.

6. In happy days he does not become arrogant; and he recognizes in all the good that falls to his share undeserved marks of divine grace.

7. In his days of affliction he neither abandons himself to despair nor dejection, but he bears with an entire resignation all the decrees of Providence,. with the assurance  that nothing which comes from God can be wrong.

8. He sanctifies all his sensual and moral enjoyments; believing that he owes them to God as a duty of self-preservation, and on suitable occasions he expresses his gratitude by words.

9. He commences and finishes his daily work by acknowledging, in accordance with the Shemang, the divine power, by taking upon himself to follow all religious duties; and having always in remembrance the benefits which God heaped upon our ancestors at their departure from Egypt; and each time that he finds himself in a suitable disposition of mind he makes use of the formula that is found in our book of prayer.

10. To these pious meditations he joins a prayer in which he elevates his soul to God and expresses all his desires, on the accomplishment of which he is sure his prosperity depends, without prejudice to that of others; and for this purpose too he can make use of the prayers found in our books, whenever possible.

11. If the Hebrew language is not altogether unknown to him, he must  not exclude it entirely from his meditations, and ought always to contribute to the general diffusion of this language, which in all times has been an ornament to Israel.

12. As often as possible, and every Saturday, and feast days, he attends divine service, and is anxious to contribute to have it executed with becoming dignity, and that it be truly instructive and edifying.

13. During his performance of divine worship, he executes with becoming fervour all ceremonial acts which, agreeably to our ancient uses; have been introduced: such as the Tzitzit ציצית phylacteries תפילין the benediction of the priests ברכת כהנים &c. He gives his attention to ceremonial acts, which do not require him to take an active part; such as blowing the cornet תקיעת שופר reading the law קריאת התורה &c.

14. At home also, he observes, without the spirit of bigotry, those religious forms which have become sacred to him under the paternal roof, and which have for him a power of edifying, whether they are mentioned or not in the Holy Write; such as the inscription on the door-posts מזוזה, the tabernacle סוכה, the recitation of the Omer, the lighting of lamps at the feast of Hannucca חנוכה, the recitation of Haggadah, and of the Kiddush.

15. He honours the Sabbath and the feast-days as days consecrated to the Lord by private and public devotions, by changing clothes, by rejoicing in his family circle, and by the suspension of all kinds of work, or that which could disturb him in the solemnities of the occasion. The observance of Saturdays and feast-days, being a true repose for the body and mind, would not be so, if those days cause him much trouble in the exercise of his duties. A pious and correct sentiment will direct us more safely in this than all particular rules.

(To be continued)