Sermon preached by Mr. Joseph Rabinowitz to the Jews in Kischeneff, Bessarabia (Russia).
Having read Gen. 12:1-4 and John 8:51-59, and after having offered prayers, the preacher said:
Brethren according to the flesh! Many a time have I had the honour of attempting to rouse you from the sleep of sorrow in which you have fallen by reason of the great trials that overtook you in recent times, and to bring to your minds the words of the Prophet Isaiah (45:25) “In the Lord shall all of the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” This I shall repeat even a hundred and one times; that it is in vain you try to justify yourselves before the European nations by your wisdom, in which the learned among you pride themselves and say, “Among us Jews too are philosophers, doctors and men well versed in every branch of science, who with their books enrich the libraries,” etc., and you therefore think you have a right to enjoy the fruit of your labours. It is equally vain to boast of your ancestry; that you are an everlasting people, offspring of the patriarchs of the world, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who found the truth, at a time when the ancestors of the European nations were still living in gross darkness and after the lusts of the flesh. What has taken place recently, days in which you and the learned among you thought you needed no more light of the sun by day, neither the brightness of the moon by night, looking upon modern science as your everlasting light, and learning to be your glory! this has sufficiently revealed unto you, that after all you are poor and destitute of everything. There is no listening ear to your wisdom; first, “the poor man’s wisdom is despised,” said Solomon; secondly, because the Europeans say, “your wisdom is ours, and your knowledge is our knowledge, and everything new among you is ours! for have you brought anything of this kind with you when you came from Asia to Europe whereby you could benefit her children?” Is it by the aid of your mathematics which you employ concerning the measure of a (fountain in which women or men immerse for purification,) or concerning a (booth,) that Galilio made his great discoveries? Or is it by the the aid of the discussion of Rav and Samuel as to whether India and Ethiopia were near each other or not, that Columbus discovered America?
The Talmud, with all its ingenuity, of which you boast, is still a sealed book to them, and of which they have not yet had taste to enjoy! They say, “Jew, take what is yours! Take the Talmud, and go to Babylon with it! We desire neither its sting nor its honey.” As regards your boasting upon your ancestry, are they too well acquainted with Kriloff’s fable of the geese, who having complained at the farmer putting them in a basket like prisoners, and carrying them to the market to be sold, since their ancestors were instrumental in saving Rome the owner said to them, “Yes, it is true; your ancestors were a means of saving Rome, but what have you done? By what act have you rendered yourself deserving?”
We, brethren, have nothing but in God to glory. It is only when we have turned in faith and love to the God of Israel, who alone is able to save, that we shall be put on the same level with other nations, when we shall be a wise and understanding people, and we shall exist as long as the heavens: it is then that the death of our nationality will be swallowed up forever, our shame will be taken away from us, and we shall dwell safely beneath the wings of our Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the mighty God, the Prince of Peace; no one making us afraid, as predicted by our faithful prophets. On the other hand, if we remain obstinate and say, “Who is God, that we should serve Him? Who is the Son Jesus Christ that we should believe in Him? We have made a covenant with science, with politics, with the economy of Europe; we have access to the Stock-exchange and the banks as we have access to the Talmud and its commentaries,” then misfortune and distress will meet us at every step, and only death and destruction will have their rule over us!
I am perfectly aware, brethren, that some of you are rather surprised at my statements, and think I am mad; others, if not for fear of the Government, would take up stones from the streets, and would stone me, because I speak to them in the name of God, and in the name of Jesus Christ. But, since I was seized with love to my people, since the Jewish question in Russia was kindled in me, since my heart began to realize the power of the blood of the lamb of god, Jesus Christ, our Brother according to the flesh, and the cleansing efficacy of the water which came forth from His pierced side, as the fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness, I cannot keep silence; and as long as I live, I shall not cease from telling our people of the great sin they committed against the Son of David, against this Jesus Christ, whom God raised to be the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel. How mysterious the dealings of the Jews seem to be in their rejection of the rod that came out of the stem of Jesse! The rebellion is as strong to-day among our people, the brethren of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, as it was on Golgotha on the day when the Righteous One was crucified! To this day, those of our Jewish brethren who cast His cords of love and mercy from off their shoulders, repeat the blasphemous words which the father of lies spoke through the mouths of the scribes and Pharisees, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children!” Our Jewish brethren to-day, as those of old generations, teach their children to repeat the words just as they have been uttered by those of old, and as they are written in the Gospels to their everlasting shame. For if not for this practice, how do they come to know this expression, since the Gospels are neither known nor read by them!