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Congregation Or Zarua

Adult Education Class with Marc Ashley

May 2022//Iyar 5782

"Abominable Heresies and Monstrous Acts":

Spinoza's Jewish Roots and Legacy

Source Sheet by Marc Ashley
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Created May 10, 2022 · 263 Views נוצר 10 May, 2022 · 263 צפיות

  1. (א) וְלַמַּלְשִׁינִים אַל תְּהִי תִקְוָה וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כְּרֶֽגַע תֹּאבֵד וְכָל אֹיְבֶֽיךָ מְהֵרָה יִכָּרֵֽתוּ וְהַזֵּדִים מְהֵרָה תְעַקֵּר וּתְשַׁבֵּר וּתְמַגֵּר וְתַכְנִֽיעַ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽינוּ: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה שׁוֹבֵר אֹיְ֒בִים וּמַכְנִֽיעַ זֵדִים:

     

    (1) Frustrate the hope of all those who slander us, and may all wickedness instantly perish; may all Your enemies soon be destroyed, and may You quickly uproot, crush, rout, and subdue the arrogant, speedily in our days.

    Blessed are You, God, crusher of enemies and subduer of the arrogant.

  2. "Blessing of the Heretics" from a Land of Israel siddur in the Cairo Genizah:


    May there be no hope for apostates,
    And may You quickly uproot the arrogant government in our day,
    And may the Christians and heretics instantly perish.
    "May they be erased from the book of life, and may they not be written with the righteous" (Psalm 69:29).  Blessed are You, God, Who humbles the arrogant.

  3. (יט) זֹבֵ֥חַ לָאֱלֹהִ֖ים יׇֽחֳרָ֑ם בִּלְתִּ֥י לַיהֹוָ֖ה לְבַדּֽוֹ׃

    (19) Whoever sacrifices to a god other than to the Lord alone shall be proscribed.

  4. (טז) רַ֗ק מֵעָרֵ֤י הָֽעַמִּים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָ֑ה לֹ֥א תְחַיֶּ֖ה כׇּל־נְשָׁמָֽה׃ (יז) כִּֽי־הַחֲרֵ֣ם תַּחֲרִימֵ֗ם הַחִתִּ֤י וְהָאֱמֹרִי֙ הַכְּנַעֲנִ֣י וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י הַחִוִּ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִ֑י כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוְּךָ֖ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃ (יח) לְמַ֗עַן אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־יְלַמְּד֤וּ אֶתְכֶם֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת כְּכֹל֙ תּֽוֹעֲבֹתָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשׂ֖וּ לֵאלֹֽהֵיהֶ֑ם וַחֲטָאתֶ֖ם לַיהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃        

    (16) In the towns of the latter peoples, however, which your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive. (17) No, you must proscribe them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—as your God has commanded you, (18) lest they lead you into doing all the abhorrent things that they have done for their gods and you stand guilty before your God.

  5. (טו) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י וַיַּשְׁכִּ֙מוּ֙ כַּעֲל֣וֹת הַשַּׁ֔חַר וַיָּסֹ֧בּוּ אֶת־הָעִ֛יר כַּמִּשְׁפָּ֥ט הַזֶּ֖ה שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֑ים רַ֚ק בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא סָבְב֥וּ אֶת־הָעִ֖יר שֶׁ֥בַע פְּעָמִֽים׃ (טז) וַֽיְהִי֙ בַּפַּ֣עַם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ית תָּקְע֥וּ הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים בַּשּׁוֹפָר֑וֹת וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ אֶל־הָעָם֙ הָרִ֔יעוּ כִּֽי־נָתַ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם אֶת־הָעִֽיר׃ (יז) וְהָיְתָ֨ה הָעִ֥יר חֵ֛רֶם הִ֥יא וְכׇל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֖הּ לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה רַק֩ רָחָ֨ב הַזּוֹנָ֜ה תִּֽחְיֶ֗ה הִ֚יא וְכׇל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתָּ֣הּ בַּבַּ֔יִת כִּ֣י הֶחְבְּאַ֔תָה אֶת־הַמַּלְאָכִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׁלָֽחְנוּ׃ (יח) וְרַק־אַתֶּם֙ שִׁמְר֣וּ מִן־הַחֵ֔רֶם פֶּֽן־תַּחֲרִ֖ימוּ וּלְקַחְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַחֵ֑רֶם וְשַׂמְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־מַחֲנֵ֤ה יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְחֵ֔רֶם וַעֲכַרְתֶּ֖ם אוֹתֽוֹ׃ (יט) וְכֹ֣ל ׀ כֶּ֣סֶף וְזָהָ֗ב וּכְלֵ֤י נְחֹ֙שֶׁת֙ וּבַרְזֶ֔ל קֹ֥דֶשׁ ה֖וּא לַיהֹוָ֑ה אוֹצַ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה יָבֽוֹא׃


    (15) On the seventh day, they rose at daybreak and marched around the city, in the same manner, seven times; that was the only day that they marched around the city seven times. (16) On the seventh round, as the priests blew the horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. (17) The city and everything in it are to be proscribed

    for the Lord; only Rahab the harlot is to be spared, and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers we sent. (18) But you must beware of that which is proscribed, or else you will be proscribed: if you take anything from that which is proscribed, you will cause the camp of Israel to be proscribed; you will bring calamity upon it. (19) All the silver and gold and objects of copper and iron are consecrated to the Lord; they must go into the treasury of the Lord.”

  6. (ח) וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ מִ֗י אֶחָד֙ מִשִּׁבְטֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹא־עָלָ֥ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה הַמִּצְפָּ֑ה וְ֠הִנֵּ֠ה לֹ֣א בָא־אִ֧ישׁ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֛ה מִיָּבֵ֥ישׁ גִּלְעָ֖ד אֶל־הַקָּהָֽל׃ (ט) וַיִּתְפָּקֵ֖ד הָעָ֑ם וְהִנֵּ֤ה אֵֽין־שָׁם֙ אִ֔ישׁ מִיּוֹשְׁבֵ֖י יָבֵ֥שׁ גִּלְעָֽד׃ (י) וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ־שָׁ֣ם הָעֵדָ֗ה שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂ֥ר אֶ֛לֶף אִ֖ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֣י הֶחָ֑יִל וַיְצַוּ֨וּ אוֹתָ֜ם לֵאמֹ֗ר לְ֠כ֠וּ וְהִכִּיתֶ֞ם אֶת־יוֹשְׁבֵ֨י יָבֵ֤שׁ גִּלְעָד֙ לְפִי־חֶ֔רֶב וְהַנָּשִׁ֖ים וְהַטָּֽף׃ (יא) וְזֶ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֣ר תַּעֲשׂ֑וּ כׇּל־זָכָ֗ר וְכׇל־אִשָּׁ֛ה יֹדַ֥עַת מִשְׁכַּב־זָכָ֖ר תַּחֲרִֽימוּ׃

    (8) They inquired, “Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah?” Now no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp, to the assembly. (9) For, when the roll of the troops was taken, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was present. (10) So the assemblage dispatched 12,000 of the warriors, instructing them as follows: “Go and put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, women and children included. (11) This is what you are to do: Proscribe every man, and every woman who has known a man carnally.”

  7. (ז) וַיַּעֲבִ֨ירוּ ק֜וֹל בִּיהוּדָ֣ה וִירֽוּשָׁלַ֗͏ִם לְכֹל֙ בְּנֵ֣י הַגּוֹלָ֔ה לְהִקָּבֵ֖ץ יְרוּשָׁלָֽ͏ִם׃ (ח) וְכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־יָב֜וֹא לִשְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת הַיָּמִ֗ים כַּעֲצַ֤ת הַשָּׂרִים֙ וְהַזְּקֵנִ֔ים יׇחֳרַ֖ם כׇּל־רְכוּשׁ֑וֹ וְה֥וּא יִבָּדֵ֖ל מִקְּהַ֥ל הַגּוֹלָֽה׃

    (7) Then a proclamation was issued in Judah and Jerusalem that all who had returned from the exile should assemble in Jerusalem, (8) and that anyone who did not come in three days would, by decision of the officers and elders, have his property confiscated and himself excluded from the congregation of the returning exiles.

  8. (כג) וַיַּ֥עַל מִשָּׁ֖ם בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְה֣וּא ׀ עֹלֶ֣ה בַדֶּ֗רֶךְ וּנְעָרִ֤ים קְטַנִּים֙ יָצְא֣וּ מִן־הָעִ֔יר וַיִּתְקַלְּסוּ־בוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ ל֔וֹ עֲלֵ֥ה קֵרֵ֖חַ עֲלֵ֥ה קֵרֵֽחַ׃ (כד) וַיִּ֤פֶן אַֽחֲרָיו֙ וַיִּרְאֵ֔ם וַֽיְקַלְלֵ֖ם בְּשֵׁ֣ם יְהֹוָ֑ה וַתֵּצֶ֜אנָה שְׁתַּ֤יִם דֻּבִּים֙ מִן־הַיַּ֔עַר וַתְּבַקַּ֣עְנָה מֵהֶ֔ם אַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּשְׁנֵ֖י יְלָדִֽים׃

    (23) From there he [Elisha] went up to Bethel. As he was going up the road, some little boys came out of the town and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” (24) He turned around and looked at them and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Thereupon, two she-bears came out of the woods and mangled forty-two of the children.

  9. וּמְנָלַן דְּמַחְרְמִינַן — דִּכְתִיב: ״אוֹרוּ אָרוֹר״. דְּאָכֵיל וְשָׁתֵי בַּהֲדֵיהּ וְקָאֵי בְּאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת דִּידֵיהּ — דִּכְתִיב: ״יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ״. וּמְנָלַן דְּפָרְטִינַן חִטְאֵיהּ בְּצִיבּוּרָא — דִּכְתִיב: ״כִּי לֹא בָאוּ לְעֶזְרַת ה׳״. . . .

    מְנַדִּין לְאַלְתַּר, וְשׁוֹנִין לְאַחַר שְׁלֹשִׁים, וּמַחְרִימִין לְאַחַר שִׁשִּׁים.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    And from where do we derive that, if he fails to mend his ways, we excommunicate such a person more harshly, putting him under the most severe form of excommunication? As it is written: “Curse Meroz … curse bitterly its inhabitants” (Judges 5:23), implying that one curse is followed by another, i.e., lesser ostracism is followed by harsh excommunication. From where is it derived that the curse applies to anyone who eats or drinks with, or stands within, four cubits of the ostracized person? As it is written: “Curse bitterly its inhabitants” (Judges 5:23), in reference to all those sitting together with Meroz. And from where do we derive that we detail his sin in public? As it is written: “Curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they did not come to the help of the Lord”

    (Judges 5:23). . . .

    They ostracize him immediately, and then once again after thirty days, and if he still does not repent, they excommunicate him after sixty days. 

  10. (ז) חֲמִשָּׁה הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים מִינִים. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אֱלוֹהַּ וְאֵין לָעוֹלָם מַנְהִיג. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מַנְהִיג אֲבָל הֵן שְׁנַיִם אוֹ יוֹתֵר. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם רִבּוֹן אֶחָד אֲבָל שֶׁהוּא גּוּף וּבַעַל תְּמוּנָה. וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵינוֹ לְבַדּוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן וְצוּר לַכּל. וְכֵן הָעוֹבֵד כּוֹכָב אוֹ מַזָּל וְזוּלָתוֹ כְּדֵי לִהְיוֹת מֵלִיץ בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים.

    כָּל אֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה אֵלּוּ הוּא מִין:

     

    (ח) שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים אֶפִּיקוֹרְסִין. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין שָׁם נְבוּאָה כְּלָל וְאֵין שָׁם מַדָּע שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ מֵהַבּוֹרֵא לְלֵב בְּנֵי הָאָדָם. וְהַמַּכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַבּוֹרֵא יוֹדֵעַ מַעֲשֵׂה בְּנֵי הָאָדָם. כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ הֵן אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִים.

     

    שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵן הַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַתּוֹרָה מֵעִם ה' אֲפִלּוּ פָּסוּק אֶחָד אֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה אַחַת אִם אָמַר משֶׁה אֲמָרוֹ מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה. וְכֵן הַכּוֹפֵר בְּפֵרוּשָׁהּ וְהוּא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה וְהַמַּכְחִישׁ מַגִּידֶיהָ כְּגוֹן צָדוֹק וּבַיְתּוֹס. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁהַבּוֹרֵא הֶחֱלִיף מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּמִצְוָה אַחֶרֶת וּכְבָר בָּטְלָה תּוֹרָה זוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא הָיְתָה מֵעִם ה' כְּגוֹן הָהַגְרִים. כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה:

    There are five categories of atheists:

    (1) he who says that there is no God and no Omnipotence; (2) he who says that there is an Omnipotence but that there are two or more such; (3) he who says that there is One Lord; but that He is corporeal and has a form; (4) Likewise one who says that He alone is not the First Cause and Creator of all; (5) likewise he who worships a star, or planet, or any other as a mediator between him and the Lord of the universe; every one of these five is an atheist.


    There are three categories of infidels:

    (1) he who says that prophecy is altogether an invention, and that no knowledge reaches the heart of the sons of man from the Creator; (2) he who denies the prophecy of Moses our Master; (3) and he who says that the Creator knows not the affairs of the sons of man; every one of these three is an infidel.


    There are three categories of Torah deniers: (1) he who says that the Torah is not God given, even if he says that a single verse or one word thereof was spoken by Moses on his own authority is, indeed, a denier of the Torah; (2) he who denies its Oral explanation, that is the Oral Torah, or its exponents, even as Zaduk and Bythos did; (3) he who says that the Creator commuted this commandment for another commandment and that the Torah had been nullified long ago though it really was God given. Every one of these three is a denier of the Torah.

  11. Order of Ferdinand and Isabella expelling Jews from Spain (March 31, 1492)

     

    We have been informed that within our kingdom there are evil Christians who have converted to Judaism and who have thereby betrayed our holy Catholic faith.  This most unfortunate development has been brought about as a result of the contact between Jews and Christians. . . .  We have decided that no further opportunities should be given for additional damage to our holy faith. . . .  Thus, we hereby order the expulsion of all Jews, both male and female, and of all ages, who live in our kingdom and in all the areas in our possession, whether such Jews have been born here or not. . . These Jews are to depart from our kingdoms and from all the areas in our possession by the end of July, together with their Jewish sons and daughters, their Jewish servants and their Jewish relatives. . . .  Nor shall Jews be permitted to pass through our kingdoms and through all the areas in our possession en route to any destination.  Jews shall not be permitted in any manner whatsoever to be present in any of our kingdoms and in any of the areas in our possession.

  12. Description of Talmud Torah synagogue by Dutch Christian visitor (1630s)

     

    The Portuguese have a fairly large place for which they have put together two houses.  Below, you enter a hall or large bare vestibule containing a water basin that can be turned on with a tap; upon it you will find a towel, for the Jews wash their hands before they enter the church.  On either side there are stairways by which you reach their church; the women, who are separated from the men and cannot be seen by them, are seated high up in a gallery.  At one end of the church there is a large wooden cupboard with two doors; it contains many precious things, among them the Books of Moses wrapped in rare embroidered cloths.  Their teachers stand on a raised platform some three feet higher than the other congregants.  The men don white shawls over their hats which hang down over their shoulders and trunk and each holds a book in his hand, all of which are in Hebrew.

  13. Excommunication writ against Baruch Spinoza (July 27, 1656//6th of Av 5416)


    The Senhores [gentlemen] of the ma'amad [lay governing board of the Portuguese-Jewish community of Amsterdam] made it known to you that they have been aware for some time of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza, and that they have endeavored by various means and promises to turn him from his evil ways.  But being unable to effect any remedy, and, on the contrary, each day receiving more information about the abominable heresies that he practiced and taught, and about the monstrous acts that he performed, and having many trustworthy witnesses who have reported and testified on all of this in the presence of the said Spinoza, who has been found guilty; after all of this has been examined in the presence of the rabbis, they [the members of the ma'amad] have decided, with the rabbis' consent, that the said Spinoza should be banned and separated from the Nation of Israel, as they now put him under cheirem with the following cheirem:


              With the judgment of the angels and with that of the righteous, we put under cheirem, ostracize, and curse and damn Baruch de Spinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of this entire holy congregation, before these holy scrolls, with the 613 commandments that are written in them, with the cheirem that Joshua put upon Jericho, with the curse with which Elisha cursed the youths, and with all the curses that are written in the Torah.  Cursed be he by day, and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out, and cursed be he when he comes in.  The Lord will not forgive him; the fury and zeal of the Lord will burn against this man, and bring upon him all the curses that are written in this book of Torah.  And may the Lord erase his name from under the heavens.  Any may the Lord separate him for injury from all of the tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of Torah. 

    But you who cleave to the Lord your God, all of you are alive this day.

         

              We order that nobody should communicate with him orally or in writing, nor show him any favor, nor be with him under the same roof, nor come within four cubits of him, nor read anything composed or written by him.

  14. Isaac Orobio de Castro, A Philosophical Disputation (1684)

     

    I have studied the works of the evil man Spinoza for many years.  Not only do I know that they pave the way for atheism, I have readily detected that atheism already lies firmly hidden in these very works.  I thought that these works would inflict extensive damage on merely a few people or on no one, since the unlearned would have neither understood nor grasped the unsound and immoral logical consequences that are drawn from them; the learned, unless they allowed themselves to be willfully deceived, would have rejected the words at once as false and unlikely; only by those who hate the truth and who find new theories, however false and impious, agreeable, who would have revelated their own perverse intention by other means even without Spinoza's writings, would they have been accepted.

     

    Now, however, I know that my belief was mistaken.  Not only a few completely unlettered members of the public, who pretend to understand Spinoza's doctrines in order to appear clever and erudite, rush headlong into atheism, to which they were already devoted earlier, even a few learned persons are unfortunately affected by the same abominable scourge.

  15. David Ben-Gurion, Let Us Rectify the Injustice (1953)

     

    [T]he Amsterdam community of that time was not the Hebrew nation, the seventeenth century was not the eternity of the eternal people, and the Jews of Amsterdam in 1656 did not have the authority or power to excommunicate the immortal Spinoza forever. . . What Athenian justice could not do to Socrates, the rabbinic court of Amsterdam could not do to Spinoza.  Each is the pride of the nation to which he was born, and their endeavors are organic parts of the history of their people's thought. . . .  The rectification required is not a religious but rather a cultural-literary one.  Hebrew literature is not complete as long as it does not include all the writings of Baruch Spinoza among the great works of the mind produced by the Jewish people.

     

    There is no need to agree with all of Spinoza's ideas and views regarding the critical reading of the Bible, about politics, or about the identity of God and nature and human destiny in order to recognize the genius from Amsterdam as one of the great sons of our people and the most original and profound thinker who emerged in our nation between the redaction of the Bible and the birth of Einstein.  Everything Spinoza wrote, both what we like and what we do not, belongs to the spiritual treasury of Judaism and belongs on the bookshelf containing the most honored works produced by the Jewish people.

     

    The Amsterdam community had sufficient reason to banish Spinoza then.  Greater and more important reasons require the redemption of Spinoza's heritage from a foreign language.  The ban was the product of circumstances that prevailed in a specific and passing time and place.  Spinoza the blessed is an immortal born of the eternal people, and we must bring back into our Hebrew language and culture the writings of the most original thinker and most profound philosopher Judaism has produced in the last two thousand years.

  16. Letter by Rabbi Joseph Serfaty to Prof. Yitzchak Melamed (November 28, 2021)

     

    The chakhamim [scholars] and parnassim [officers] of Kahal Kadosh Talmud Torah excommunicated Spinoza and his writings with the severest possible ban, a ban that remains in force for all time and cannot be rescinded.  You have devoted your life to the study of Spinoza’s banned works and the development of his ideas.  Your request to visit our complex and create a film about this epikores [heretic] in our Synagogue and Yeshiva (Etz Chaim) is incompatible with our centuries-old halakhic, historic and ethical tradition and an unacceptable assault on our identity and heritage.  I therefore deny your request and declare you persona non grata in the Portuguese Synagogue complex.

     

    I wish you a meaningful Chanukah.

  17. Response letter from Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo (November 30, 2021)

     

    Shalom.


    Yesterday I was overwhelmed by the emails I received showing me the letter from the 28th of November that you sent to Professor Yitzchak Melamed in the USA.  In this letter you forbid him to enter the complex of our synagogue . . . to study documents concerning the ban on Spinoza in his efforts to create a film about this philosopher.

     

    It would seem that you may be ignorant of the fact that the famous former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog z"l (1888-1959), has already stated that the ban was only in force halakhically as long as Spinoza was alive.  Furthermore, it would seem you are unaware of the story concerning the ban and the many deliberations concerning the real cause of this ban and the very teachings of Spinoza himself.

     

    As for Prof. Melamed, it may be necessary to inform you that he is a deeply religious Jew who was raised in the ultra-Orthodox B'nei Brak in Israel and studied in Yeshivot.  Your view that the ban on Spinoza’s works is still in force clearly indicates that you are not familiar with his writings, and are thus completely incapable of expressing an opinion about his philosophy.

     

    As an orthodox rabbi who studied in the ultra-Orthodox Gateshead Yeshiva in England for many years and who has read all of Spinoza’s works, I am of the opinion that Spinoza sometimes deliberately misrepresents Judaism.  I am also aware that Spinoza wrote remarkably noble observations about human beings, nature and society which have helped all of us.  For all these reasons I strongly object to your terming the professor as a “persona non grata” – an act that is a tremendous insult and chutzpah.

     

    By banning the professor from the complex of the synagogue, and as such, not even allowing him to join a minyan in our synagogue, you have created an enormous chillul Hashem, desecration of God’s name, making Orthodox Judaism a farce in the eyes of the many.  You have done all of us, who fight for the honor of Judaism, a great disservice.

     

    Shame on you!  You have all the right in the world to disagree with Prof. Melamed, yet it behooves you to invite him to discuss his intentions and the contents of the film, and possibly contribute to his endeavor.  I hope the lay leaders of the Portuguese-Spanish Community in Amsterdam will take the necessary steps to undo this great damage.

  18. Judgment of Amsterdam regional Protestant ecclesiastic court (July 28, 1670)

     

    Licentious book publishing, and especially the harmful book entitled Theological-Political Treatise [by Spinoza, published in January 1670], should be dealt with under the old grievances [covered by a 1653 edict regarding bans of heretical works]. . . .   

    The ecclesiastic court, having heard from its committee various enormous and abominable samples contained in that work, has proclaimed that book to be blasphemous and dangerous.

  19. (א) בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה שָׁא֣וּל בְּמׇלְכ֑וֹ וּשְׁתֵּ֣י שָׁנִ֔ים מָלַ֖ךְ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

    (1) Saul was . . . years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel two years.

  20. ״בֶּן שָׁנָה שָׁאוּל בְּמׇלְכוֹ״, אָמַר רַב הוּנָא: כְּבֶן שָׁנָה, שֶׁלֹּא טָעַם טַעַם חֵטְא.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Gemara continues its discussion of Saul and David. It is written: “Saul was one year old when he began to reign” (I Samuel 13:1), which cannot be understood literally, as Saul was appointed king when he was a young man. Rav Huna said: The verse means that when he began to reign he was like a one-year–old, in that he had never tasted the taste of sin but was wholly innocent and upright.

  21. Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise ch. 9 (1670) [on 1 Samuel 13:1]

     

    That the text is mutilated cannot be doubted by anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with the Hebrew language.

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