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two thousand, of which half are Jews of the sickliest and most squalid type. The Jewish quarter is in the middle of the town, where there are several synagogues and schools. A little to the north of this spot is a small Latin convent and church, built, according to tradition, on the very ground where the miraculous draught of fishes was landed after our Lord's resurrection.
But Tiberias was not to be our destination, for one of our party had a special mission to visit Safet, the capital of Modern Judaism, in time for the Jewish New Year, which was to fall in a couple of days. A day's journey brought us at nightfall to the streets of that stronghold of Talmudism, and to the comfortable quarters of the kindhearted missionary, whose friendly visitors for the next few days we were to be. Safet is one of the four holy cities of the Jews, the other three being Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias. It is perched on one of the mountains of Naphtali, and is supposed to be the city alluded to by Christ when He said: “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” The quarters of the Moslems are situated on the eastern and southern faces of the hill; and those of the Jews, which consist of a set of terraces, on the western part of the hill.
• In ancient times Safet was celebrated as a seat of Jewish learning. A flourishing school existed there in the sixteenth century, and the writings of the learned Rabbis who lived and taught there are numerous, and of high renown in Jewish literature. But even since the period of their decay, they have had six or seven synagogues, and a school for the study of the Talmud. In 1834 and 1837, the Jews of Safet were great sufferers, one year from pillage and murder by the Mohammedan population, the other from the dreadful visitation
of an earthquake, which buried thousands under ruins. The Jewish population now numbers about three thousand, sunk in all the self-sufficient ignorance of Talmudism, and divided into three communities, the Spanish, the Polish and German, and the Cabalistic Jews.* It was in the synagogue of the Polish Jews that I witnessed the ceremonies performed by the Hebrews on their New Year.
The Jewish Year is reckoned by lunar months. The period of its commencement differs according as it is civil or ecclesiastical. The civil year commences with the month called Tishri, on the first day of which the Jews consider that the Creation commenced. All civil matters are dated according to this chronology. The ecclesiastical year begins in the month of Nisan, in commemoration of the departure of the Hebrews out of Egypt.
All feasts and fasts are reckoned according to this year.
* The Cabalistic Jews are named “Men conversant with the name of Jehovah;" and are regarded by the ignorant as able to perform miracles. They follow the precepts of the modern Cabala, and affect a sanctity full of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. The word Cabala does not signify tradition, or the mysterious science of interpreting Scripture, but simply doctrine, and more especially the doctrine, says Dr. Pauli, “which lies at the root of every other doctrine necessary to salvation.” The Cabala may be divided into two parts—the ancient and pure, and the impure and modern. The pure Cabala embraces no doctrine or exposition of the Scriptures which is not consistent with Christianity; but the impure Cabala, which comprehends the work from the third century after Christ to the sixteenth, is full of the fabulous tradition of the Rabbis, and confused ideas respecting the Trinity and of the Divinity of the Son of God. The impure Cabala pretends to possess the right knowledge of the letters of the name Jehovah, by reason of which the adept can hold mysterious communion with departed spirits and the angels. “The Biblical scholar,” says Dr. Pauli, “would find himself amply repaid by studying the ancient and modern cabalistical works, and more especially the Chaldee paraphrases. They contain rich mines of Divine knowledge, and throw much light upon the whole of the New Testament.”
The New Year is regarded by the Jews as a festival; and the month in which it occurs (generally in our September) is looked upon as very sacred, for they believe that the destiny of every individual is now determined, and that the Creator, on the first day of Tishri, weighs the merits and demerits of all. Those who are meritorious are sealed to life, and those who are guilty are sealed to death; whilst judgment upon those whose merits and demerits are equal is delayed until the Day of Atonement. Hence the intervening days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement are spent by the pious in praying, fasting, and imploring forgiveness. The day before the New Year is regarded as a fast; and, after morning service in the synagogue, the Jews visit the graves of the dead, upon whom they call for intercessory prayers. In the evening they again repair to their synagogues for vespers and evening prayers; and when these services are over they greet each other, saying, “May you be writ to a good year;" to which is replied, “Ye also.” This congratulation, however, is only pronounced in the evening; for as the Jews hold that all pious men registered in the Book of Life before the dawn of the following day, a repetition of that salutation would imply a suspicion that the one so greeted was not yet enrolled, and hence be a reflection on his piety. On their return home for supper the table is laid with several kinds of sweet provisions, especially apples and honey. The master of the house cuts up an apple, and divides it among those present: each dips his or her piece in the honey, and eats it, saying: “To a good year and a sweet one.” During the first two days of this month all sour food and drink are, or ought to be, avoided.
The next morning I attended at an early hour at the synagogue, and saw the Jews continue their devotions till about
Various prayers, blessings, and legends were strung together, in addition to the ordinary morning service, and Genesis xxi. and 1 Samuel i. and ii. were read. After this followed a prayer for the dead, when the precentor called upon each of the departed by name, and implored God to have mercy upon them. Every Jew here offered up a prayer for his deceased friends, and those whose parents were still alive left the synagogue for the time.
And now occurred the most important part of the service - the ceremony of blowing the Shophar, or ram's horn. This is founded on Numbers xxix. 1, and Leviticus xxiii. 24, on which account the feast is sometimes called the Feast of Trumpets. This horn is blown every morning during the previous month, to prepare the Jews for the important season of the New Year's Day; and at the same time to confuse Satan, so that he may not know which is the first day of the New Year. The horn is the horn of a ram, in remembrance of the ram offered up instead of Isaac on Mount Moriah, which, according to the Rabbis, happened on this day. The reasons why Jewish ritual enforces this ceremony are: Firstly, because on that day the world was created; and as it is customary at the coronation of kings, and at the commencement of their reign, to sound trumpets and cornets, so the Jews publicly proclaim that their Creator is their King. Hence David says: “With trumpets, and the sound of the cornet, shout ye before the Lord.” Secondly, because the New Year is the first of the ten penitential days, the horn is sounded as a proclamation to admonish all to return and repent. Thirdly, to remind them of the law given on Mount