Historical Reprints Religion Book of Delight

Book of Delight

Book of Delight
Catalog # SKU1392
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Israel Abrahams


The Book of Delight
Jewish Literature

Three Books in One Volume!

Israel Abrahams

The writer has attempted in this volume to take up a few of the most characteristic points in Jewish doctrine and practice, and to explain some of the various phases through which they have passed, since the first centuries of the Christian era. A really nice overview of Judaism, Hebrew culture and its general history. 3 Books on this 'always enlightening' topic in one volume.


Though there are no accepted Articles of Faith in Judaism, there is a complete consensus of opinion that Monotheism is the basis of the religion. The Unity of God was more than a doctrine. It was associated with the noblest hope of Israel, with Israel's Mission to the world.

The Unity of God was even more than a hope. It was an inspiration, a passion. For it the Jews 'passed through fire and water,' enduring tribulation and death for the sake of the Unity. All the Jewish martyrologies are written round this text.

In one passage the Talmud actually defines the Jew as the Monotheist. 'Whoever repudiates the service of other gods is called a Jew' (Megillah, 13 a).

But this all-pervading doctrine of the Unity did not reach Judaism as an abstract philosophical truth. Hence, though the belief in the Unity of God, associated as it was with the belief in the Spirituality of God, might have been expected to lead to the conception of an Absolute, Transcendent Being such as we meet in Islam, it did not so lead in Judaism. Judaism never attempted to define God at all. Maimonides put the seal on the reluctance of Jewish theology to go beyond, or to fall short of, what historic Judaism delivered. Judaism wavers between the two opposite conceptions: absolute transcendentalism and absolute pantheism.

Sometimes Judaism speaks with the voice of Isaiah; sometimes with the voice of Spinoza. It found the bridge in the Psalter. 'The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him.' The Law brought heaven to earth; Prayer raised earth to heaven.

As was remarked above, Jewish theology never shrank from inconsistency. It accepted at once God's foreknowledge and man's free-will. So it described the knowledge of God as far above man's reach; yet it felt God near, sympathetic, a Father and Friend. The liturgy of the Synagogue has been well termed a 'precipitate' of all the Jewish teaching as to God. He is the Great, the Mighty, the Awful, the Most High, the King. But He is also the Father, Helper, Deliverer, the Peace-Maker, Supporter of the weak, Healer of the sick. All human knowledge is a direct manifestation of His grace. Man's body, with all its animal functions, is His handiwork.

He created joy, and made the Bridegroom and the Bride. He formed the fruit of the Vine, and is the Source of all the lawful pleasures of men. He is the Righteous Judge; but He remembers that man is dust, He pardons sins, and His loving-kindness is over all. He is unchangeable, yet repentance can avert the evil decree. He is in heaven, yet he puts the love and fear of Him into man's very heart. He breathed the Soul into man, and is faithful to those that sleep in the grave. He is the Reviver of the dead. He is Holy, and He sanctified Israel with His commandments. And the whole is pervaded with the thought of God's Unity and the consequent unity of mankind. Here again we meet the curious syncretism which we have so often observed. God is in a special sense the God of Israel; but He is unequivocally, too, the God of all flesh.

Moses Mendelssohn said that, when in the company of a Christian friend, he never felt the remotest desire to convert him to Judaism. This is the explanation of the effect on the Jews of the combined belief in God as the God of Israel, and also as the God of all men. At one time Judaism was certainly a missionary religion. But after the loss of nationality this quality was practically dormant. Belief was not necessary to salvation. 'The pious of all nations have a part in the world to come' may have been but a casual utterance of an ancient Rabbi, but it rose into a settled conviction of later Judaism.

Moreover, it was dangerous for Jews to attempt any religious propaganda in the Middle Ages, and thus the pressure of fact came to the support of theory. Mendelssohn even held that the same religion was not necessarily good for all, just as the same form of government may not fit equally all the various national idiosyncrasies. Judaism for the Jew may almost be claimed as a principle of orthodox Judaism. It says to the outsider: You may come in if you will, but we warn you what it means. At all events it does not seek to attract. It is not strange that this attitude has led to unpopularity. The reason of this resentment is not that men wish to be invited to join Judaism; it lies rather in the sense that the absence of invitation implies an arrogant reserve. To some extent this is the case. The old-fashioned Jew is inclined to think himself superior to other men. Such a thought has its pathos.

On the other hand, the national as contrasted with the universal aspect of Judaism is on the wane. Many Jewish liturgies have, for instance, eliminated the prayers for the restoration of sacrifices; and several have removed or spiritualised the petitions for the recovery of the Jewish nationality. Modern reformed Judaism is a universalistic Judaism. It lays stress on the function of Israel, the Servant, as a 'Light to the Nations.' It tends to eliminate those ceremonies and beliefs which are less compatible with a universal than with, a racial religion. Modern Zionism is not a real reaction against this tendency. For Zionism is either non-religious or, if religious, brings to the front what has always been a corrective to the nationalism of orthodox Judaism. For the separation of Israel has ever been a means to an end; never an end in itself. Often the end has been forgotten in the means, but never for long. The end of Israel's separateness is the good of the world.

And the religious as distinct from the merely political Zionist who thinks that Judaism would gain by a return to Palestine is just the one who also thinks that return is a necessary preliminary to the Messianic Age, when all men shall flow unto Zion and seek God there. Reformed Jews would have to be Zionists also in this sense, were it not that many of them no longer share the belief in the national aspects of the prophecies as to Israel's future. These may believe that the world may become full of the knowledge of God without any antecedent withdrawal of Israel from the world.

360+ pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover


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