Morris Jacob Raphall
At the age of nine Raphall was taken by his father, who was banker to the King of Sweden, to Copenhagen, where he was educated at the Hebrew grammar-school. Later he went to England, where he devoted himself to the study of languages, for the better acquisition of which he subsequently traveled in France, Germany, and Belgium. He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Erlangen (Germany). After lecturing on Hebrew poetry he began to publish the Hebrew Review, and Magazine of Rabbinical Literature, which he was forced to discontinue in 1836 owing to ill health.
For some time he acted as honorary secretary to Solomon Herschell, chief rabbi of Great Britain. He made translations from Maimonides, Albo, and Herz Wessely; conjointly with the Rev. D. A. de Sola he published a translation of eighteen treatises of the Mishnah; he also began a translation of the Pentateuch, of which only one volume appeared. In 1840, when the blood accusation was made at Damascus, he published a refutation of it in four languages (Hebrew, English, French, and German) and wrote a defense of Judaism against an anonymous writer in the London "Times." Raphall was also the author of a text-book of the post-Biblical history of the Jews (to the year 70 C.E.).
In 1841 he was appointed minister of the Birmingham Synagogue and master of the school. He continued in these capacities for eight years, and then sailed for New York City in 1849. That year, he gave a series of lectures on biblical poetry at the The Brooklyn Institute, and was appointed rabbi and preacher of Manhattan's B'nai Jeshurun congregation. He continued there until 1866, his duties then being relaxed owing to his infirm health. He died at New York on June 23, 1868.
Views on slavery
In the civil-war era, prominent Jewish religious leaders in the United States engaged in public debates about slavery. Generally, rabbis from the Southern states supported slavery, and those from the North opposed slavery. The most notable debate was between Rabbi Raphall, who endorsed slavery, and Rabbi David Einhorn who opposed it.
In 1861, Raphall published his views on slavery in a treatise called "The Bible View of Slavery", which argued that slavery is allowed by the Bible. He wrote, "I am no friend to slavery in the abstract, and still less friendly to the practical working of slavery, But I stand here as a teacher in Israel; not to place before you my own feelings and opinions, but to propound to you the word of G-d, the Bible view of slavery." Rabbi Einhorn and rabbi Michael Heilprin, concerned that Raphall's position would be seen as the official policy of American Judaism, vigorously disputed his arguments, and argued that slavery - as practiced in the South - was immoral and not endorsed by Judaism.
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography
- Jew. Chron. July 17, 1868;
- Morais, Eminent Israelites.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Raphall, Morris Jacob". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
- "Popular Lectures On Biblical Poetry". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. Nov 30, 1849. p. 2.
- Kenvin, Helene Schwartz (1986). This Land of Liberty: A History of America's Jews. Behrman House, Inc. pp. 90–92. ISBN 0-87441-421-0.
- Benjamin, Judah P. "Slavery and the Civil War: Part II" in United States Jewry, 1776-1985: The Germanic Period, Jacob Rader Marcus (Ed.), Wayne State University Press, 1993, pp. 13-34.
- Hertzberg, Arthur (1998). The Jews in America: four centuries of an uneasy encounter : a history. Columbia University Press. pp. 111–113. ISBN 0-231-10841-9.
- Benjamin, Judah P. "Slavery and the Civil War: Part II" in United States Jewry, 1776-1985: The Germanic Period, Jacob Rader Marcus (Ed.), Wayne State University Press, 1993, pp. 17-19.
- Adams, Maurianne (1999). Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 190–194. ISBN 1-55849-236-4.
- Friedman, Murray (2007). What went wrong?: the creation and collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance. Simon and Schuster. pp. 25–26.
- Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: a biographical dictionary and sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 170. ISBN 0-313-24316-6.
- The Bible View of Slavery, By: Rabbi Dr. M.J. Raphall Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York City 1861
- Adams, Maurianne (1999). Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 190–194. ISBN 1-55849-236-4..