The Talmudic regime in the close confinement of the ghettoes was in its nature essentially rule by terror, and employed the recognizable methods of terror: spies-on-spies, informers, denunciants, cursing and excommunication, and death.
The secret-police and concentration-camp regime of the Communist era evidently took its nature from this model, which was familiar to its Talmudic organizers.
During the many centuries of Talmudist government the terror, and the dogma which it enclosed, produced two significant results. These were recurrent Messianic outbursts, which expressed the captives’ longing to escape the terror; and recurrent protests against the dogma, from the Jews themselves.
These were latterday symptoms of the feeling expressed on the ancient day when “the people wept” at the reading of The Law. The Talmud forbade the Jew almost every activity other than the amassing of money (“they only conceded just enough to the people about them to make their economic activities possible”; Dr. Kastein) and the study of the Talmud (“whenever the Law could not be unequivocally applied to the relations of life, they endeavoured to discover its interpretation”).
The energies of the people were directed to spinning ever more tightly about themselves the net in which they were enmeshed:
They not only set a hedge about the Law, but, by cutting themselves off more definitely than ever from the outside world, and by binding themselves more exclusively to a given circle of laws, they set a hedge about themselves”.
With every breath they drew and movement they made, they had to ask themselves, “Does the Talmud allow or forbid this”, and the ruling sect decided.
Even the most docile in time questioned the credentials of such a Law, asking “Can it be really true that every new edict and ban derives from God’s revelation at Sinai?” That was their rulers’ claim:
according to the Jewish view God had given Moses on Mount Sinai alike the oral and written Law, that is, the Law with all its interpretations and applications”, says Mr. Alfred Edersheim.
The people submitted to, but could not always inwardly accept so obviously political a claim, and this inner rebellion against something outwardly professed often led to strange happenings.
For instance, a Portuguese Marrano (a converted, or sometimes a secret Jew) called Uriel da Costa was once reconverted to Judaism, and then became appalled by the Talmud. In 1616, at Hamburg, he published his Thesis against Tradition in which he attacked “the Pharisees”, charging that the Talmudic laws were their creation and not of any divine origin. The treatise was addressed to the Jews of Venice and the rabbi there, one Leo Modena, thereon by command pronounced the dreaded “Ban” on da Costa. At Rabbi Modena’s death papers found among his effects showed that he had held exactly the same view as da Costa, but had not dared to declare that for which he excommunicated da Costa.
As a Communist Leo Modena would be a familiar figure in our own century. In effect, he sentenced to death the man whose beliefs he shared. Da Costa returned to the attack in 1624 with his Test of the Pharisaical Tradition by Comparing it with the Written Law. The Talmudists of Amsterdam, where da Costa then was, denounced him to the Dutch courts on the ground that his treatise was subversive of the Christian faith, and it was burned at the order of these Gentile authorities, who thus carried out the Talmudic Law!
This act of Gentile submission to the ruling sect recurs through all history from the time of Babylon to the present day. Da Costa was literally hounded to death and in 1640 shot himself.
Jewish history shows many such episodes. The student of this subject walks with terror as he turns its pages. The “Great Ban” was in effect a death sentence, and was so intended. It called down on the victim the “cursings” enumerated in Deuteronomy, and cursing was (and by the literal devotees of this sect still is) held to be literally effective.
The article on “Cursing” in the Jewish Encyclopaedia says,
Talmudic literature betrays a belief, amounting to downright superstition, in the mere power of the word … Not only is a curse uttered by a scholar unfailing even ifundeserved. … Scholars cursed sometimes not only with their mouths, but by an angry, fixed look. The unfailing consequence of such a look was either immediate death or poverty”.
This is recognizably the practice known today as “the evil eye”, of which my encyclopaedia says, “This superstition is of ancient date, and is met with among almost all races, as it is among illiterate people and savages still”. The Jewish Encyclopaedia shows that it is a prescribed legal penalty under the Judaic Law, for this same authority (as earlier quoted) states that “even the Bible” is secondary to the Talmud.
Moreover, Mr. M.L. Rodkinson, the scholar who was selected to make an English translation of the Talmud, says that “not a single line” of the Talmud has been modified. For that matter, the Talmud, in this case, only carries on the law of cursing as earlier laid down, by the Levites, in Deuteronomy.
The practice of cursing and of the evil eye, therefore, is still part of “The Law”, as the quotations given above show. (The student may find a present-day example of the Talmudic “angry, fixed look” in operation if he refer to Mr. Whittaker Chambers’s description of his confrontation with the attorneys of Mr. Alger Hiss; and the student may form his own opinion of the fact that soon afterwards Mr. Chambers felt himself driven to commit suicide, failing in this attempt only through a chance).
Thus excommunication was a deadly thing. Mr. Rodkinson makes this remarkable reference to it:
We can conceive their” (the Talmudic rabbinate’s) “terrible vengeance against an ordinary man or scholar who ventured to express opinions in any degree at variance with their own, or to transgress the Sabbath by carrying a handkerchief or drinking of Gentile wine, which in their opinion is against the law.
Who, then, could resist their terrible weapon of excommunication, which they used for the purpose of making a man a ravening wolf whom every human being fled from and shunned as the plague-smitten? Many who drank of this bitter cup were driven to the grave and many others went mad”.
This fate befell some of the great remonstrants. Moses Maimonides (born at the Talmudic centre, Cordova, in 1135) drew up a famous code of the principles of Judaism and wrote,
It is forbidden to defraud or deceive any person in business. Judaist and non-Judaist are to be treated alike … What some people imagine, that it is permissible to cheat a Gentile, is an error, and based on ignorance …
Deception, duplicity, cheating and circumvention towards a Gentile are despicable to the Almighty, as ‘all that do unrighteously are an abomination unto the Lord thy God’ “.
The Talmudists denounced Maimonides to the Inquisition, saying,
Behold, there are among us heretics and infidels, for they were seduced by Moses Ben Maimonides… you who clear your community of heretics, clear ours too”.
At this behest his books were burned in Paris and Montpellier, the book-burning edict of the Talmudic law thus being fulfilled. On his grave the words were incised, “Here lies an excommunicated Jew”.