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Their number was very large during the centuries immediately preceding and following the fall of Jerusalem; Ps. In order to find a precedent the Rabbis went so far as to assume that proselytes of this order were recognized in Biblical law, applying to them the term "toshab" "sojourner," "aborigine," referring to the Canaanites; see Maimonides' explanation in "Yad," Issure Biah, xiv.


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Another name for one of this class was "proselyte of the gate" "ger ha-sha'ar," that is, one under Jewish civil jurisdiction; comp. Zarah 64b; "Yad," Issure Biah, xiv. The application to half-converts of all the laws obligatory upon the sons of Jacob, including those that refer to the taking of interest, or to retaining their hire overnight, or to drinking wine made by non-Jews, seems to have led to discussion and dissension among the rabbinical authorities.

The more rigorous seem to have been inclined to insist upon such converts observing the entire Law, with the exception of the reservations and modifications explicitly made in their behalf. The more lenient were ready to accord them full equality with Jews as soon as they had solemnly forsworn idolatry.

The "via media" was taken by those that regarded public adherence to the seven Noachian precepts as the indispensable prerequisite Gerim iii. Zarah 64b; Yer. The recognition of these quasi-proselytes rendered it obligatory upon the Jews to treat them as brothers see 'Ab. Zarah 65a; Pes. But by the third century the steady growth of Christianity had caused these qualified conversions to Judaism to be regarded with increasing disfavor. According to Simeon b.

Eleazar, this form of adoption into Judaism was valid only when the institution of the jubilee also was observed, that is, according to the common understanding of his dictum, during the national existence of Israel 'Ar. A similar observation of Maimonides "Yad," Issure Biah, xiv. It seems more probable that Maimonides and Simeon ben Eleazar wished to convey the idea that, for their day, the institution of the ger toshab was without practical warrant in the Torah. Johanan declares that if after a probation of twelve months the ger toshab did not submit to the rite of circumcision, he was to be regarded as a heathen 'Ab.

This phrase plainly presupposes an active propaganda for winning converts comp. In fact, that proselytes are welcome in Israel and are beloved of God is the theme of many a rabbinical homily Ruth R. Buber, 3]; see also Mek. Eleazar b. Pedat sees in Israel's dispersion the divine purpose of winning proselytes Pes.

He is introduced as writing a letter to Moses Mek. Emperor Antoninus also is mentioned as a proselyte Yer. According to Joshua ben Hananiah, "food" and "raiment" in Deut. Job xxxi. Modern researches have shown positively that Judaism sent forth apostles. Jethro was a type of these propagandists see Bacher, "Ag. Sincerity of motive in the proselyte wits insisted upon. Care was taken to exclude those who were prompted to embrace Judaism by the desire to contract an advantageous marriage, by the hope of wealth or honor, by fear or superstitious dreams R.

Nehemiah, in Yeb. The midrashic amplification of the conversation between Naomi and Ruth Ruth R. Attendance at theaters and circuses, living in houses without mezuzot, and unchastity were among the former. The same spirit of caution is apparent in a midrashic illustration to the story of Adam and Eve, in which the proselyte wife is warned by her husband against eating bread with unclean hands, partaking of untithed fruit, or violating the Sabbath or her marriage vow Ab.

From Ruth's experience the rule was derived that proselytes must be refused reception three times, but not oftener Ruth R. The details of the act of reception seem not to have been settled definitely before the second Christian century. From the law that proselyte and native Israelite should be treated alike Num. The sacrifice was to be an "'olat behemah" a burnt offering of cattle; ib.

Neglect to bring this offering entailed certain restrictions, but did not invalidate the conversion if the other conditions werecomplied with.


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After the destruction of the Temple, when all sacrifices were suspended, it was ordained that proselytes should set aside a small coin in lieu of the offering, so that in case the Temple were rebuilt they might at once purchase the offering. Nor was it, at one time, the unanimous opinion of the authorities that circumcision was absolutely indispensable.

Eliezer ben Hyrcanus carried on a controversy on this subject with R.

From Moses to Moses

Joshua, the latter pleading for the possibility of omitting the rite, the former insisting on its performance Yeb. The bitterness engendered by the Hadrianic persecution undoubtedly prompted the Rabbis to make conversion as difficult as possible. Yet the true proselytes were all the more highly esteemed; a benediction in their behalf was added to the eighteen of the Shemoneh 'Esreh, and later was incorporated with that for the elders and pious Tosef. After the Hadrianic rebellion the following procedure came into use.

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A complete "court," or "board," of rabbinical authorities was alone made competent to sanction the reception. The candidate was first solemnly admonished to consider the worldly disadvantages and the religious burdens involved in the intended step.

Jewish worship and universal identity in Philo of Alexandria

He, or she, was asked, "What induces thee to join us? Dost thou not know that, in these days, the Israelites are in trouble, oppressed, despised, and subjected to endless sufferings? On the other hand, the rewards in store for the faithful were also explained to him. If the applicant remained firm, he was circumcised in the presence of three rabbis, and then led to be baptized; but even while in the bath he was instructed by learned teachers in the graver and the lighter obligations which he was undertaking. After this he was considered a Jew Yeb.

They never fail to plead in justification of persecution the vices which persecution has engendered. England has been to the Jews less than half a country and we revile them because they do not feel for England more than half patriotism.

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We treat them as slaves, and wonder why they do not regard us as brethren. We drive them to mean occupations, and then reproach them for not embracing honorable professions. We long forbade them to possess land and we complain that they chiefly occupy themselves in trade.

We shut them out of all the paths of ambition, and then we despise them for taking refuge in avarice. But were they always a mere money-changing, money-getting, money-hoarding race? Jewish apologists in emphasizing the contribution made by Jews to civilization, transformed the conception of am segullah "election" to the concept of te'udah "mission". They progressively emphasized the universal character of Judaism.

When the Protestant theologian E. Paulus argued that Jews would have to become converted to Christianity in order to become good citizens, Riesser defended the Jews and Judaism in his Verteidigung der buergerlichen Gleichstellung der Juden Riesser's periodical, Der Jude , was of great importance in the arena of apologetics. Although the concern of Western Jewry with apologetics considerably diminished with the attainment of emancipation, the recrudescence of antisemitism in Europe during the second half of the 19 th century again evoked a renewal of apologetic literature, especially in response to the recurrent blood libels.

In Bloch founded a periodical Oesterreichische Wochenschrift , dedicated to the struggle against antisemitism. His apology Israel und die Voelker was published post-humously in Guedemann also wrote a basic study of Jewish apologetics, Juedische Apologetik In Eastern Europe also, Jewish apologetics entered the lists in the struggle for civil rights. The latter followed the model of German Jewish apologetic literature. Ta'ar ha-Sofer , a defense of the Talmud, is directed against the Karaites, and Efes Damim , a confutation of the blood libel, was written during the Zaslavl case.

In Russia, Jewish apologetics were directed, inter alia, to abolition of the restrictions on Jewish residence outside the Pale of Settlement. They thus emphasized the role of the Jewish merchant in the economy as well as cultural factors. In the s, when individual Jews were accused of taking part in the revolutionary movements, Jewish apologists argued that the overwhelming majority of Jews were conservative in character.

An important turning point in Jewish apologetics was the rise of Jewish nationalism. A conflict developed between Zionists and apologists of the conventional type who still used the arguments employed by the advocates of emancipation, and in countering the humiliating propaganda of the antisemites stressed the merits of the Jews. In contrast, the general tendency of Zionists was to present the Jews as a people like any other nation. The 19 th and 20 th centuries saw the growth of a specific internal apologetics with the object of bringing Jews back to Judaism.

Jews in Germany stressed the honorable part they had taken in the German armed forces in World War I. During the Nazi assault on Jewish existence, there developed an anti-racist scientific literature which furnished Jewish apologists with arguments against racism as well as works stressing the prominent role played by Jews in world culture.

One of the central problems confronting Jewish apologists, mainly in the modern age, is of a psychological nature. The anti-Jewish calumniator is able to rouse his public by alleging that Jews and Jewish influence are a cause of social evils. Jewish defense, on the other hand, has stressed that Jews are not responsible. By the very negativeness of its argumentation, therefore, modern Jewish apologetics has often failed to demonstrate positive Jewish values to the public. Baer, Spain, index, S. De Rossi, Bibliotheca judaica anti-Christiana , 66—67; M.

Friedlaender, Geschichte der juedischen Apologetik ; J. Bergmann, Juedische Apologetik im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter ; R. Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash ; A. Steinschneider, Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer Sprache ; M. Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition ; O.

Rankin, Jewish Religious Polemic ; P. Lindeskog, Die Jesusfrage im neuzeitlichen Judentum ; J. Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library. Angels and Angelology. Articles of Faith. Assignment of Debt.

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