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February 27, 1970 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-02-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Ur. Salo W. Baron's Scholarly Encyclopedic
Work Grows in Immensity With 2 New Volumes

The encyclopedic "A Social and
Religious History of the Jews," by
Prof. Salo Wittmayer Baron, con-
tinues to gain in immensity with ,
the appearance of two additional
Co-published by the Jewish Pub-
lication Society of America and
Columbia University Press, Vol-
umes XIII and XIV mark the con-



tinuity of a literary effort that
represents one of the most note-
worthy scholarly achievements by
one of the world's most disting-
uished Jewish historians.
The period 1200-1650 is covered

in these two new volumes in
which the author deals with
"Late Middle Ages and Era of
European Expulsion." Vol. XIII
is devoted to "Inquisition, Re-
naissance and Reformation," and
Vol. XIV continues with "Catho-
lic Restoration and Wars of

towards Marranos he states:
"Apart from the rabbis' personal
leanings and individual tempera-
ments, the varying views often
reflected divergent external cir-
cumstances. In general, the rab-
bis did not wish to appear in-
human by maltreating martyrs
for the faith. Nor did they wish
to establish a reputation for
rigidity, which might discourage
future Marranos from leaving
the Iberian peninsula and pub-
licly returning to Judaism. On
the other hand, while prepared
to make concessions in monetary
matters, they were extremely
reluctant to weaken the pillars
of ritual and family laws by
overly lenient interpretations. At
times the overbearing attitude of
some Marranos antagonized rab-
binic leaders and the public
alike. Most of the new arrivals
felt that the Jewish people
`owed them' something for their
martyrdom. Because of their
previously high social standing,
wealth, and general education,
many of them looked down upon
the old-fashioned Jews of their
new places of residence. On the
whole, one may detect a pro-
gressive decline in the Jews'
sympathetic treatment of Mar-
ranos and a growing alienation
between the two groups from the
16th and 18th centuries. As gen-
eration followed generation, the
Iberian Marranos became ever
more estranged from Jewish
modes of living and thinking. At
the same time the halo of their
martyrdom gradually dimmed in
the eyes of onlookers. Neverthe-
less, to the very end the Mar-
ranos kept on arriving in Muslin
lands, Amsterdam, Bordeaux,
London, or the New World. In
the 1750s the later Jewish mag-
nate Aaron Lopez of Newport,
R.I., sent one of his ships to Lis-
bon to rescue his Marrano
brother and family, who turned
professing Jews when they reach-
ed America."

The Inquisition and related sub-
jects, the church attitudes, Vatican
prejudices and the emergence of
Popes who negated the prejudicial
decisions are among the important
In view of the current debates
subjects covered in both volumes,
with related issues linking the two i over "who is a Jew," it is worth
in the presentation of events start- I noting an interesting comment in
ing with the 13th, concluding with Dr. Baron's historic references:
"Upon their settlement in a
the mid-17th centuries.
The great merits in the works of Jewish community Marranos were
formally treated as proselytes.
Dr. Baron which emerge as a
bookshelf of greatest significance , Of course, uncircumcized men had
is the presentation of facts that to undergo the painful operation.
negate fiction and the gathering of But neither men or women were
data that provides students of t subjected to the ordinarily re-
Jewish history with the most_ im- quired abolutions.
"More importantly, Marrano ar-
portant information regarding the
religious and social factors of rivals did not have to prove that
mothers were Jewish, al-
Jewish experiences.
Major in his conerns delineated though, according to Jewish law,
in the two new revised volumes is children of Gentile women were
the role of the church and the considered Gentiles even if their
workings of the Inquisition, and fathers were full-fledged Jews ..." '
There were incidents of libelous
Prof. Baron describes, inter alia,
"the rise of a vast and variegated treatments, the bearing of false
Marrano diaspora, which, like testimony, the rendering of accusa-
other great migrations of religious) tions against Marranos who settled
persecutees, served as a yeast in in communities other than Spain
the growth of new forms of life and Portugal, and there was the
matter of fraternization. Dr. Baron
and thought."
In the analysis of this "Marrano makes these added vital com-
diaspora," touching upon many ments:
"Opponents of this fraterniza-
aspects of the Marrano dispersion,
tion . . . could readly invoke the
Dr. Baron describes the growing
rule formulated by Maimonides
racialism of that period, the resist-
(who in his youth had himself
ance, partial as it may have been,
experienced the travails of liv-
of the New Christians, the emer-
in a community forcibly con-
gence of false messianic move-

ments related to messianic hopes,
like those represented by David

Reubeni and Solomon Molkho, the
situation in Portugal, the Jewish
reaction to Marranism and the
developing depth of despair in that

Drawing upon the views of
eminent rabbis of the period,
like the scholar Jacob Berab, the
noted authority Rabbi Isaac b.
Sheshet and others, to indicate
the various opinions regarding
the status of the Marranos, upon
their escape from danger areas
into free communities and in his
summation of Jewish attitudes

14. Friday, February 27, 1970


verted to another faith) that 'any
Jew worshipping another God is
like a Gentile in every respect
. . . for a renegade to another
faith is like a renegade toward
the entire Torah.' However, in
his comment on that passage, the
16th Century Palestinian scholar
Jacob Rebab pointed out that
the rule, even if generally valid,
did not affect the legality of
marriages among Marranos ..."
Delicate questions involving un-
ion of Marranos and resultant
divorces are elaborated upon.
While the Inquisition and the
Marranos are major elements for


consideration in the latest Baron
volumes, the role of the Church is
significantly studied. Entering im-
portantly in the discussions is the
Protestant Reformation and its
impact on the time and on Jewry.
In the process, Calvinism is de-
fined and the role of John Calvin
in Jewish history is reviewed, and
Dr. Baron points out:
"Judaism as a religious tradi-
tion necessarily loomed large in
Calvin's mind, as it did in that of
other religious reformers. In fact,
the epithet `Judaizer' served him
in good stead to combat the views
of opponents, as it had served in
other Catholic-Protestant and in-
ternal Protestant controversies.
The Geneva reformer hirled that
appellation with particular venom
at Miguel (Michael) Servetus
(1511-53), whose peculiar antitrini-
tarianism made him a ready tar-
get . . ."
Papal roles, subsequent Catho-
lic reforms, the acts of antagon-
istic Popes as well as of the

more liberal, charges of Judaiz-
log, extortions of ransom and
instances of Popes forbidding it
.. . these are among the many
experiences of Jews under Vati-
can domination.
Dr. Baron states after the vari-

ous analyses that "the Catholic
Restoration, which had started
with the threatening autos-da-fe of
both the Talmud and the Ancona
Marranos and was climaxed by
the expulsion of Jews from most
areas of the Pontificial States,
passed without uprooting the Jew-
ish communities in most Catholic
Of noteworthy significance in
the new Baron editions is the re-
view of the events that marked
the Thirty Years' War. The changes
in Jewish economic trends during
and after the war, the concentra-
tion of Jews in cosmopolitan areas,
the attainment of a measure of
religious rights, although not on
an extensive basis, marked turn-
ing points in the history of Ger-

Baron volumes can be rea4117
man Jews.
Dr. Baron believes Jews lost understood and appreciated. A
fewer lives in the war than Chris- great work continues to grow Lis

tians and he judges that war as immensity.
having indicated how helpful Jew-
ish capital and managerial skill
proved to the modern state's dom-
estic, foreign and political policies.
Thus a new epocj began in the be-
ginning of the 17th century, with
the subsequent developments to'be

It's Nice
To Deal With •
Joe Slatkin's

looked for in Prof. Baron's forth-
coming volumes in his "Social and
Religious History of the Jews."
With 160 pages of notes for 300
pages of text in Vol. XIII and 110
pages of notes for another 300
pages of text in Vol. XIV, the
scholarly impacts of the new


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