Babylonian Talmud, Book 10: History of the Talmud, tr. by Michael L. Rodkinson, , at sacred-texts.com
THE AFFAIR OF ROHLING-BLOCH.
Dr. August Rohling, professor in Prague, wrote a pamphlet, the "Talmudjude," sixth edition, 1877, in the German language, the previous editions of which were translated into many languages, in which he painted the Talmud itself and all past Talmudical laws in very black colors. The material in all Rohling's writings (which are named in the previously
mentioned introduction of Strack, page 95) were taken from Eisenmenger, and from other men hired by him, as will be seen further on. Although the above pamphlet was received with great joy by the enemies of the Jews, who quoted him as a great authority, nevertheless, it would have been nothing more than a mere piece of literary work which could create no harm to the Jews had not something unusual occurred which put a different aspect to the affair.
Joseph Samuel Bloch who was at that time a Rabbi in a small town of "Florisdorf," and who was anxious to get a name for himself, considered all Rohling's work as a means of attaining his desire. He understood that if he should challenge Rohling to a debate and should accuse him of perjury and falsehood, and thus compel Rohling to sue him for libel and insult, this would give him a great name and the Jewish congregations of Austria, and especially of Vienna, would be compelled to defend Bloch with all their power, for the case would not be Bloch vs. Rohling, but the Talmud vs. Rohling.
Notwithstanding that at this time the Israelite congregation of Vienna was full of great men and scholars like the famous Dr. Jellinek, Chief Rabbi Güdemann, etc., etc., who deemed it better to pay no attention at all to Rohling's work, considering it as a mere literary piece of work, and the criticism of which they thought better to leave to Gentile Hebrew scholars such as Delitzsch, Strack, etc., who had already criticized Rohlings works. Bloch wrote an article in a weekly paper attacking Rohling most furiously and reviling him terribly with every possible epithet, including the charge of perjury.
Bloch's desire was then realized, for Rohling not being able to remain silent, secured the services of the very great lawyer, Robert Pattai, M.P., and brought suit against Bloch for libel.
The Israelite congregation of Vienna, although they were very much incensed at Bloch for his deed, nevertheless felt themselves compelled to secure a lawyer of equal ability to Pattai for the defense of Bloch, the result of which will be seen further on.
Circumstances helped Rohling to find an apostate Jew named Ahron Briman, pseudonym Dr. Justus, who wrote a book for him named, "Judenspiegel," composed of 100 passages
alleged to be found in the Jewish code, "Schulchan Aruch," according to the ordinances of the Talmud against Christianity, and asserted that the whole Talmud consists of such passages.
This book naturally created a tremendously unfavorable impression upon the whole Christian world, and several papers that were anti-Semitically inclined announced the contents of the book. One of these papers was "Die Merkur," in the City of Munster, which quoted many passages of the book and at the same time inserting a glaring editorial against the Jews. The District Attorney finding this article to be an incitation against a race, brought suit against the editor of the paper. This trial occurred December, 1883, and in order that the reader may have some idea of the proceedings, we translate in our Appendix some pages of our German work, "Der Schulchan Aruch und seine Beziehungen zu den Juden und Nicht juden." (See Appendix, No. 20.)
To illustrate who the person Ahron Briman the assistant of Rohling was, we have only to translate a few lines written by us about him in our "Hakol," No. 191, page 117, March 19, 1885: 1 "Anti-Semitism was stricken very hard this year. All their leaders are taken one by one to the prison, and they will have to give an account for their deeds to the judges. With the imprisonment of Briman, Rohling's sources were revealed and annulled, as his right hand, Briman, or Dr. Brimanus, or Justus, all of which names are identical, is now behind the bars, and the newspapers are now recounting his sins one by one.
We, however, say that he and all his literature are not worthy of such an honor. There is no doctor, nor learned man, no distinguished being, no Satan, but a simple, ordinary swindler, who endeavors by everything that comes to his hand to deceive the people. He (according to his biography which is published in the dailies of this week) has made a study of the Talmud and the Schulchan Aruch only that they might serve as his business schemes. He was a student in the college of Hildesheimer, where it was easy to imbibe
[paragraph continues] sanctification and really become sanctified in the city of Hague. To be still more purified he washed himself in the holy waters of Protestantism. Seeing, however, that this act would not bring him much fruit, for to be a "Pfarrer" (minister) one must labor diligently, and this he would not do, he set all this deed aside at one stroke and swerved over to the Catholic faith.
And then he followed his nature to catch in his net some young girls, who had confidence in him, and going further in this way the attention of the police was called to this, who put a stop to him.
For whom then such a fuss? We are neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but nevertheless we recognized his character from his so-called literature even as far back as 1883. As the following are our words in our pamphlet "Kritischer Ueberblick uber den Judenspiegelprozess in Munster," December, 1884, page 8, footnote 11, (when we were not aware who the author was): "If such would be written by a Jew he would be named criminal, deceiver, misanthrope, etc." True, that when we wrote this, we did not know that he was a Jew, and now we see that he was. For this, however, we have only to be grateful to him because he left the Jewish fight before he wrote his hateful "Judenspiegel," and also before he gave his miserable material to Rohling. This, because the anti-Semites can. no longer blame the Jews on account of this person as they brought him over to become their ally.
But what became of the suit of Rohling against Bloch? We have to give the full credit to Dr. Kopp who forced Rohling to withdraw his complaint seeing that according to the testimony of his co-religionist scholars he could not win his case. And this may be seen from the book which Kopp has published in Leipzig, 1886, second edition. (See criticism of it in Strack, page 95.) We, however, deem it necessary to give the details of this book, in order to defend the Talmud, as this will throw light upon all past and present accusations against the Talmud. As we have done this in our Hebrew monthly "Morgenblitze," Vienna, 1886, we have only to translate here a part of our review to the book of Kopp named "Zur Judenfrage nach den Akten des Prozesses Rohling-Bloch
von Dr. Joseph Kopp Hofgerichtsadovkat Zu Wien," Leipzig, 1886:
"Many books are lying before us for review or for announcement. However, the book named above is unique in every respect. It cannot be criticised either way, and the same is true of the author of this book as he himself does not give his own opinion concerning the subject matter of the book. Nevertheless, we may fully say that it is a scientific book in every respect.
"The author of this book is a Gentile, a prominent member of the bar in Vienna, and, according to his own testimony, he knows neither the Hebrew language nor the talmudic and post-talmudic literature at all. Notwithstanding this, the book, as a whole, sanctifies the Talmud and all post-talmudical literature.
It can not be taken as a defender of the Talmud because of arguments, as the whole book contains merely facts which can never be denied and which prove clearly that the Talmud and its banner-bearers are clear of every accusation and of every suspicion concerning the love of man, be he who he may, even according to the present laws and established etiquette."
The above facts were not given by the author himself, but by two well-known Gentile Hebrew scholars, upon whom the Supreme Court of Vienna threw the burden of translating four hundred passages and quotations. These the Jew-haters have used as a sample of the wretchedness of the Jewish literature. The chief aim of the Jew-haters was to belittle the Talmud, which is the pillar of the Jewish race.
The author of this work, whom the Israelite congregation of Vienna choose to defend Bloch in the case of Rohling-Bloch, has done his work well. He gathered all the quotations quoted by Rohling in his writings from both the Talmud itself as well as from post-talmudical literature, those which were written in the Hebrew language and also in other languages, by converted Jews who reached then the dignity of Catholic priests. All these quotations he divided into two groups, (a) the quotations in Hebrew he brought before the Supreme Court, who appointed Gentile Hebrew scholars to translate them correctly under oath, into the German
language; (b) the quotations in the living languages he examined himself. However, when he found a quotation in another language besides German he submitted it to the sworn interpreter of the Supreme Court for translation. Then, when both the translations of the quotations by the Jew-haters and the translations of the same by those who were appointed by the Court appeared before the court, it was revealed that the alleged quotations of Rohling were not quotations of the Talmud at all, but merely falsehoods. And thus was it proved that every line written by Rohling in his "Talmudjude," "Antichrist and Das Ende der Welt," "The Catechism des 19 Jahrhundert fur Juden und Protestanten" (in which he praises the Spanish Inquisition, declaring it holy to the Lord and to the Catholic Church), "Das Salomonische Spruchbuch," "Meine Antworten an die Rabbiner," "Die Polemik und die Menschenopfer des Rabbinismus," and also in his letter to Ghetza Anhadi of June 19, 1883, were all fabrications which never existed since the creation of the world.
"If such a falsehood would not be revealed by the learned Christians under oath it would be impossible to believe that a man whose dignity came from a professorship of a university should act so. The contents of this book are as follows: All quotations which were translated by the experts as well as those which Rohling himself falsely quoted, 1 Dr. Kopp arranged them thus, preface, instruction, the story proceeding the trial, the proceedings of the trial, the conclusion derived from the true testimony which was obtained from non-Jews; i.e., the Bishop of Leon Agobardus, Paul Medriki, Rabbi Maldava, Rabbi Mendel, August Fabius, Gerhard Tickson, Franz Delitzsch and August Wunsche.
"After sub-dividing the answers of the above scholars in two parts, (a) those which are mentioned in the Talmud, etc., in general, and (b) where it speaks of the subjects in particular, and this he again sub-divided into nine groups; i.e., (1) about injuring of Gentile property, (2) harming their lives, (3) partiality in cases where Christians come before Jewish
judges, (4) the application of animals' and beasts' names to Christians by Jews, (5) about the oath of the Jews, (6) about Jewish witnesses, (7) the Jews against the Christians in the laws of slaughtering cattle, (8) about the flattering and deceiving practised by Jews: divided into two paragraphs, (a) the non-responsibility of the Jews (see Appendix No. 19), (b) about the infallibility of the Rabbis concerning the blood accusation, and (9) the conclusion of the author himself. All these comprise 196 royal octavo pages.
"It is self-evident that such a book is above criticism, for, as we said before, the book contains only facts, viz: (1) the translations under oath of the well-known Christian scholars, and (2) the falsehood of Rohling's quotations translated into German when compared with the text, and this is all the more evident when it is known that Rohling, after seeing all these facts, not only withdrew his complaint but pardoned even the most rigorous accusation of perjury which Bloch accused him of in the past, saying that he was always ready to swear falsely at any time if only it would cause harm to the Jews."
109:1 In all probability the discussion in this chapter will seem very brief and almost inadequate, but the reason for this is that most of the details of this chapter are related at length in our weekly "Hakol" of 1877. Then, again, the entire matter is not so interesting or so important to warrant giving it more space here. Of far more interest is the works of Professor Rohlings and their results to which we shall give considerable space in our next chapter, especially as we ourselves were greatly taken up with this affair and were compelled by the circumstances to write four books bout this affair, three in Hebrew and one in German.
111:1 At the time he was imprisoned for many crimes and the dailies wrote continuously about this in long articles.
113:1 The author Kopp points out also many quotations quoted by Rohling from books which never existed.