|Vol. IV, No. 3
Sivan 5606, June 1846
The Moral Power of the Jews in Europe.
What think our readers of the caption of this article? Moral power of a people excluded from nearly all advancement, except in the countries where they exist in small numbers? how is it that they have any moral weight, when governments are so intent, on keeping down the people representing the principles which are termed Judaism? Besides this, it will be urged that the Jews themselves are disorganized, and the pages of the Occident, among other periodicals, have borne ample testimony that they move not in solid columns; that whatever a serried line of moral warriors might achieve, is frittered away by the foolish bickerings and useless dissensions to which they have latterly yielded themselves. Nevertheless, gentle reader, there is a force in the unitarian principle which is the basis of Judaism; it is one which robs the mind of a world of mysticism, and leaves it clear to apply itself to the acquisition of light and truth in what ever way and place they may present themselves. Hence, the Jewish mind has seized upon the prominent points which life presents, and it is elaborating them to work out a strong influence upon the Israelites themselves, but also upon all those who come within the circuit of the undulations produced by this vast upheaving of the once quiet surface of our existence, quiet, we mean, in the stagnation of the intellectual powers forced upon by the agitation of troubles and persecutions which caused us to rust away in spiritual idleness, or to waste our energies upon useless and trifling disputes. It is, therefore, to be expected that for the present there will be a clashing, a fierce warfare, if you will, between those who are brought to look on life through lenses of different powers which the hand of science offers to their eager grasp; the men of the age, not of Israel, are themselves rationalists or bigots, sceptics or enthusiastic madmen, friends of progress or violent opponents of every change; and how then can one expect, but that we too should have, among our men of the day, representatives of all ideas and shades of ideas? But let us not deceive ourselves, nor be alarmed by the din of arms and the clamour of battle; the storm may indeed rage awhile, perhaps to the scattering of many from the walls of our household; but the warfare will at length redound to our benefit, the fair fame of Israel will be vindicated, and the structure of our faith will stand firmer than ever, from the superior enlightenment of the pious leaders, who will then, placed at the head of our scattered congregations, be able to lead truly and faithfully the flocks entrusted to their charge. It is possible that the very elements of greatness discoverable in the modern movements, may have alarmed the jealousy of the tyrants, who, fearing the overwhelming power of the sound common sense of the Jews, forbid them to ascend the teacher’s chair except they have first permitted themselves to assume ostensibly the fetters of Christianity. We have before this expressed what we think of the sincerity of converts thus made; but our oppressors are so far right, as apostates the mind of these men is bound with iron chains, their soul is stamped with the brand of the traitor, and hence their moral influence is checked, nay annihilated, let them teach what they may, as the pensioned hirelings of arbitrary dominion.
But there are other channels through which, in modern days, mind can he reached: it is the mighty lever of the press, which with all the watchfulness of governmental espionage will nevertheless scatter many a spark of light, or cast abroad the arrows of darkness for weal or for wo. Do our readers think that the Jews will not endeavour to make the weight of their strong arm felt through means of this lever? do they think that in the battle of the mind, which now rages so fiercely, the men of Israel will not strike a single blow for the truth which they uphold? Israelites would deceive themselves, nor know their own strength of character, if they could now believe that, despite of the evils of our age, there is not a strong religious, nay, healthy religious current flowing onward under all this violent agitation which we witness; and whilst this is the case, the flashes of truth will always appear from the midst of thoughts thrown out by Jewish writers; and these will strike home, and strike deeply into the minds of the masses, who will, despite of themselves, become indoctrinated with the spirit of Israel. The effect will thus not be one felt at the moment; but it will move silently onward, and sink the deeper from its noiseless action.—But whither are we hurrying? we meant merely to introduce to our readers an extract from a missionary’s report; and we are writing a long article. It is, however, curious to observe, how often the conversion organs pointedly contradict themselves, by giving currency to such articles as the following; will they never learn wisdom? why will they disturb a people who are so well able to take care of themselves, if left unmolested by others? Still, we presume that the managers of the Jewish Intelligence, whence we copy, will deem it advisable for their own ends to continue seeking proselytes, and it behooves all Israelites to watch that they do not succeed.
Extracts of a Letter From the Rev. B. W. Wright, of February 27, Containing Some Remarks on the Present Novel Position of the Jews in Europe.
[From the Jewish Intelligence of April.]
Mr. Wright’s letter of February 27th contains some important remarks on the present novel position of the Jews in Europe. It is the opinion of many, that we have no longer any occasion to treat the Jews as a separate and distinct people, and that they will, ere long, vanish in all their leading distinctive features, from the public view. Judging from what is going on in Germany, and elsewhere on the Continent, the Jews, on the contrary, seem only to have reached a crisis, during which their strength is about to be put forward for the severity of a final struggle, in order to assume a new and more important position amongst the nations. Sixty years ago the Jews of Europe were walled off from the rest of the world in helpless seclusion, like the dry skeletons or a bygone civilization; now we see them full of life and movement, termed with the keenest weapons: and in a short space of time, fighting on intellectual ground, they have wrought out for themselves an unaccountable weight of power.
Through its moral and intellectual positions, and its commercial relations, through science, literature, political craft, and the press, working with matchless combination, Judaism is at present walking abroad in Europe, uprooting idolatry, propagating Deism, and is entering upon a new career of advancement, which those who know best the magic power of mental influence will be best able to appreciate.
The proportion of Jews who receive a literary and scientific education is very great, owing to the proverbial liberality of the Jews to the poor of the same community; and once educated, there seems no end to their clever activity. Independently of the fifteen exclusively Jewish journals of Germany, four of which have made their appearance since the beginning of the present year, the daily political press of Europe is very much under the dominion of the Jews; as literary contributors, they influence almost every leading Continental news paper, and as controversy seems to be their native air, and they bring into the field mental energies of no ordinary stamp, they find no lack of employment, and if any literary opponent ventures to endeavour to arrest the progress of Judaism to political power, he finds himself held up to public notice, and exposed to attack after attack in most of the leading journals of Europe. Such, for instance, was the lot of a Roman Catholic priest of Prague, who lately wrote a pamphlet, entitled, “Guter Rath für Zeit der Noth,” (good advice for a time of danger,) directed against the advancing power of Judaism. And such is my conviction of the extent of the participation the Jews take in the everyday literature of Germany, that I never pass by a crowded reading-room, but what I think I see standing behind the scenes, a Jew, causing new ideas to rise and stir, and develop themselves in the unsuspecting mind of the gentile.
We must not, however, imagine that modern Jews are no longer Jews, because they are clamorous after present honours: they do not thereby shake off the sharp lines which distinguish them from other nations, neither can they so easily rid themselves of habits of thought which have been hardened by time, and which seem to be engraven on the Jewish mind. The different sections of Judaism will be found willing, we believe, upon any great national crisis, to unite and cooperate for the advancement of any great political interest; and we see that in spite of the repeated declarations to the contrary, they take the deepest interest in the present state and future prospects of the land of their ancient and traditional glories.
Note.—In America, we believe, there are two daily and two weekly papers, controlled in part or entirely by Israelites; but they are mostly commercial and literary in their tendency; still capable of being made the vehicle of earnest thought.