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בס"ד

Preface

With this number we complete the first volume of the Occident, and herewith return our sincere thanks to the many kind friends who have disinterestedly assisted us in our undertaking, especially our valued correspondents; and as a recompense, we promise them that we shall endeavour to continue yet longer to leave nothing undone which could lend interest to our magazine, and promote the good cause in which we are embarked.

We are but too conscious that there has been much in our course hitherto which has disappointed expectations, as each person no doubt pictured to himself some features, when our plan was announced, which have not been rendered visible in our execution of the same. But, it is next to impossible to gratify every taste, even to satisfy one's own views in so extensive and varied a labour as the editing of a magazine. It does not surprise us, therefore, to have received approbation and reproof for the very same articles, and that one should predict success from the manner of our conducting the Occident, whilst others as stoutly aver that our course will be injurious to its prosperity. For, without laying claim to infallibility, we know, well enough that where partiality will discover cause for approval, a censorious fault-finding will detect ample reason for condemnation. It does not surprise nor offend us, therefore, to receive letters such as the following: 

"I hope, my dear sir, you will not be angry at the remarks I am about to make. In proceeding among our brethren for the purpose of procuring subscribers, I found much dissatisfaction with your work; they are generally displeased with the matter contained therein, the selections and discourses are considered flat and uninteresting; they expected that you would produce controversial articles that would excite in them enthusiasm for our holy religion, and would assist them in defending the correctness of its institutions, and the fulfillment of the prophecies of its eternal duration; that you would have proved from Holy Writ the downfall of the erroneous religions of the world, the glorious reign of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, the reward of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked; that you would have called on our brethren continually to awake from their slumbers and lukewarmness, to prepare for the latter days," &c.

Whereas, at the same time others censure us for publishing even such pieces as the letters of the late Mr. B. Dias, on the New Testament. Now surely both objections cannot be well founded; we are ready to defend our principles of faith against its adversaries, but we cannot permit our magazine to be nothing but a controversial work. There is a far greater necessity for information than argument, unless we greatly err; and though it is possible that our friends may justly condemn our selections and discourses as "flat and uninteresting," we employed them not because we thought so highly of them, but as vehicles of information which we considered both requisite and useful to our American brethren. On the other hand, we cannot consider a Jewish periodical complete which altogether overlooks the fact that we are surrounded by a multitude whose doctrines differ so widely from our own, and that, especially among such a scattered population as ours, it is highly necessary to furnish them, through means of the press, some ready arguments against the attacks of those who may occasionally invite them to forsake their religion.

We dislike above all things to make self an object of discussion before the public, and our readers will bear us out in the fact, that not once during the whole year of our existence, have we brought any personal matters to their consideration. We know, or believe to know, that the public care nothing for the person of the editor of any publication, but merely for what he offers to them in his pages; we have, therefore, preferred to let our course speak in our defense, instead of offering apologies from time to time. But we thought that the present occasion was a fitting one to say something concerning the various opinions of our labours which now and then reach us, and trust, that what we have advanced will at least disarm some one of any disposition for an unjust judgment which he may have entertained. We will merely state, that our task has not been an easy one; since a very great portion of this volume was prepared by our own hands in the midst of other engagements, and this with the consciousness that we had to cater for different tastes who could not all be gratified notwithstanding our utmost efforts.--We will, however, add, that we shall receive with gratitude any suggestions offered in a kindly spirit.

We could say a great deal more to our readers; but our space is limited, and we must forbear. Yet we cannot avoid calling their attention to our table of contents, and let them decide for themselves whether or not we have redeemed the promises we held out in our prospectus. No doubt, many persons expected something far more learned at our hands; but we only aim to give a popular work which all may understand, and which may thus become more universally useful than a publication merely intelligible to the learned. In the meantime, we hail it as an evidence that our labours have not been altogether unappreciated in the fact, that the Rev. M. N. Nathan, whose taste no one knowing him will dispute, and Dr. Lewis Ashenheim, of Kingston, Ja., in announcing a periodical in their island, have proposed a plan precisely like that of the Occident. This, at least proves that these gentlemen deem it worthy of approbation by following the course pursued by it.

We request our friends to relax in their endeavours to extend the circulation of our periodical, and promise them that we will endeavour, with the blessing of Heaven, to deserve their kind support. This much we know, Israel needs defenders, although its law is pure and holy; it needs teachers, although it possesses truth divine; and among those we wish to be numbered, and we shall strive to fulfill our part honestly and fearlessly whilst we are called to the task by the approbation of our friends, and permitted to continue at our work by the approval of our heavenly Father.

Philadelphia, Adar 3, 5604, February 23, 1844.