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January 16, 1981 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-01-16

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, January 16, 1981 7

Franklin's Genesis Parable Was an 18th Century Controversy

of Philadelphia, a man who
makes a great figure in the
learned world, and who
would still make a greater
figure for benevolence and
candor, were virtue as much
regarded in this declining
age as knowledge."
Readers of Kames' biog-
raphical work, noting the
tribute to Franklin, as-
sumed that Franklin was
the creator of the parable. In
1779, Benjamin Vaughn in-
cluded it in a volume of
Franklin's writings, "Polit-
ical, Miscellaneous and
Philosophical Pieces." It
next made its way into
Gentleman's Magazine of
January 1780.
It was at this point that
a debate arose about its
authorship. An anonym-
ous letter to Gentleman's
Magazine urged readers
to look into Jeremy
Taylor's "Polemical Dis-
courses," where the par-
able was to be found at
the end of chapter 22,
"The Liberty of Proph-
esying." Taylor's version,
published in 1646, fol-
lows:
"When Abraham sat at
his tent door . . . waiting to
entertain strangers, he es-
pied an old man . . . coming
toward him, who was a
hundred years old. He re-
ceived him kindly . . . pro-
vided supper, and caused
him to sit down; but observ-
ing that the old man ate and
prayed not . . . he asked
him why he did not worship
the God of heaven.
"The old man told him
that he worshipped the fire
only and acknowledged no
other god . . . Abraham
grew so zealously angry,

(Continued from Page 1)
"And God said, Have I
borne with him these 198
years, and nourished him
and clothed him, not-
withstanding his rebel-
lion against me; and
couldest not thou; who
art thyself a sinner, bear
with him one night?'
"And Abraham said, let
not the anger of the Lord
wax hot against his servant;
lo, I have sinned; forgive
me, I pray thee.'
"And Abraham arose and
went forth into the wilder-
ess and sought diligently
r the man and found him,
nd returned with him to
the tent; and when he had
entreated him kindly, he
sent him away on the mor-
row with gifts.
"And God spake unto Ab-
raham, saying, 'For this thy
sin shall thy seed be
afflicted 400 years in a
strange land. But for thy re-
pentance will I deliver
them; and they shall come
forth with power and glad-
ness of heart, and with
much substance.' "
This "Parable Against
Persecution," as it came
to be known, proved to be
one of a variety of
Franklin's imitations of
Scripture in advocacy of
bortherly understand-
ing.
In 1774, Lord Kames in-
cluded it in his "Sketches of
the History of Man," begin-
ning a controversy that is
even today not conclusively
settled.
Wrote Lord Kames: "The
following parable against
persecution was communi-
cated to me by Dr. Franklin

HIAS Has New Procedure
to Process Soviet Emigres

NEW YORK (JTA) —
New procedures for process-
ing Soviet Jewish emi-
grants that, if successful,
might reduce the number of
Soviet Jews who choose to
settle in countries other
than Israel was announced
by HIAS.
Addressing a press con-
ference at HIAS headquar-
ters, Gaynor Jacobson,
executive vice president of
HIAS, said that under the
new plan Soviet Jewish
emigrants would spend only
two days in Vienna, their
first stop out of the Soviet
Union, instead of eight to 10
days as heretofore.
Those who opt for settling
in Israel will fly there from
Vienna. The others, accord-
ag to the new plan, will go
to a hotel north of Rome
where, during up to a week's
stay, they will receive ex-
pert "joint counseling" from
representatives of HIAS,
the Joint Distribution
Committee and the Jewish
Agency.
The counseling will
consist of providing up-
to-date information
about life in Israel and
the opportunities Israel
has to offer to the indi-
vidual Soviet emigrant.
"Those with close rela-
tives in the U.S. or other
countries will be helped to

ir)

- __

be reunited with their
families," Jacobson ex-
plained. "For all the other
emigrants, a conscientious
and sensitive effort will be
made to help them choose to
go to Israel."
But Jacobson said that
the new procedures do not
indicate a shift in policy on
the part of HIAS and that
any Soviet Jew who insists
on going to the United
States will be assisted by
HIAS.

Autonomy Talks
Resume in Israel

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The
autonomy talks were
scheduled to resume in Tel
Aviv Wednesday, after a
gap of over two months.
Lower-level delegates were
expected here from the U.S.
and Egypt.
Observers do not expect
any real progress in this
round of talks intended to
lead to limited local self-
government to the West
Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs.
The general feeling is that
this is a "holding action" to
show movement continu e s
while the American ad-
ministration change-over
takes place and Israel gears
for new parliamentary elec-
tions.

__ k • •

- '

In this version, Abraham parable proved to be an in-
that he thrust the old man its moral well worth being
out . . . and exposed him to made known to all man- is characterized as offering spired creation. It continues
hospitality only in return to have universal appeal
all the evils of the night and kind."
Franklin had, at last, for praise to God. Pray or and is reflective of
an unguarded condition.
"When the old man was clarified his relationship to pay is his approach to the Franklin's tolerance of his
fellow humans, regardless
gone, God called to Ab- the disputed parable: he wayfarers.
But another text in He- of their creed.
raham, and asked him laid claim to the Scripture
where the stranger was. He language style and to the brew sources, Sifre Ekeb
B'Nai Moshe Men's Club
replied, 'I thrust him away, two concluding verses of his 38, comes very close in-
deed to that of Sadi and
because he did not worship own creation.
What about Sadi, the Franklin. It reads:
thee.' God answered him, 'I
"Abraham, the greatest
have suffered him these 13th Century Persian poet?
hundred years, although he Had he originated this par- man in the world, waited on
dishonored me; and couldst able? His version of it, found the angels, even though he
not thou endure him one in the second book of the thought them to be idolatr-
Sat., Jan. 24, 7:30 P.M.
night, and when he gave "Bustan," begins with the ous Arabs; as it says: 'He
thee no trouble?' Upon this, revealing phrase "I have lifted up his eyes and
at
saith the story, Abraham heard," but he does not indi- looked, and, lo, three men
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fetched him back again, and cate who related it to him. stood against him, and .. .
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Whatever the source of
entertainment, and wise in- 31st tale of Sadi's other
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likewise and thy charity tan," that at one time he
will be rewarded by the God was taken "prisoner by
the Franks and con-
of Abraham."
But the "exploration" signed to a pit in Tripoli
INVTEHREYTHING
E
by the curious did not to dig clay along with
some
Jews."
Sadi
could
stop here! In his intro-
STUDIO
duction to the parable, have heard some Mid-
rash
(postscriptural
in-
Jeremy Taylor had
UP
stated: "I end with a story terpretation) from them,
TO
which I found in the which inspired him to
write
his
own
parable
ON SELECTED
Jews' Books."
ITEMS
In May, 1788, a writer in about "Abraham, friend
Repository, an English of Allah."
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An examination of Heb-
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Book." It was the Latin edi- predating Sadi by approx-
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tion of Solomon Ibn Verga's imately seven centuries
6 . 0,4 14
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spoke out against those who
intimated that he was a
plagiarist.
At the end of a lengthy
letter written Nov. 2,
1789, to his London friend
Benjamin Vaughn,
Frailklin noted: "Your
kind mention of
plagiarism puts me in
mind of a charge of the
same kind which I lately
saw in the British Repos-
itory concerning the
`Chapter of Abraham and
the Stranger.' Perhaps
this is the attack your let-
ter hints at, in which you
defended me.
"The truth is, as I think
you observe, that I never
published that chapter, and
never claimed more credit
from it than what related to
the style, and the addition of
the concluding threatening
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