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OF THE DIGNITY AND DESTINATION OF MAN, .
PREFACE OF THE TRANSLATOR.
In an age, when science of every kind is pursued with avidity, no astonishment can be manifested at the attempt of an Israelite to give his brethren a clear knowledge of the religion which they have inherited from their ancestors; since, if it is of any importance whatever to any portion of the human family to profess a certain creed, it is also highly necessary, that the principal features at least of this creed should be familiar to all who profess the same. I claim no great literary merit on account of the present performance ; for, although the labour bestowed on it has been very great, and considerable additions and alterations made (particularly to the tenth and eleventh chapters), yet, the road was already so clearly pointed out by the very learned author of the original, that I had nothing more to do, than to make as good a use of the materials, as my limited abilities and inexperience would permit. How I have succeeded, I leave others to judge ; and claim no particular indulgence, because it is my first literary performance of any note. But at the same time I beg leave to state, that I shall not hold myself responsible for any difference of opinion, which may happen to exist between myself and any of my readers ; and I hope, that this difference will not, as in justice it should not, deprive me of as candid and impartial a judgment, as though we agreed upon every point. If I have not obtained the good opinion of the public, I have endeavoured to deserve it. For in the first place, I
have spared no application to render the work, though small in size, as perfect as I could possibly make it; and next, I flatter myself, that the typographical execution is of such general correctness as will strike every one as worthy of commendation. I can safely aver, that the Hebrew, which is distributed throughout these pages, will be found to be as free from errors as can well be expected, for every passage has been carefully revised with the best editions of the Bible. That some small errors. may nevertheless have escaped both in the English and Hebrew, despite of the care bestowed upon both, I cannot doubt ; but no one can demand perfection, when perfection is beyond the reach of man, and literary labours must share the fate of every other human undertaking.
The design of this work is the instruction of the younger part of Israelites, of both sexes, who have previously acquired some knowledge of the fundamental part, in the principal topics of their religion. As to the manner of using it to advantage, I would recommend its introduction into schools, wherever these are established, or to be used as a book of instruction in families. Let the scholars learn several paragraphs, both the Hebrew and the English, by heart; but care should be taken, that the task given them should be no more than they can conveniently get through, as I conceive it highly absurd to give children such long lessons, that they must leave them unattended to, or at best study them but very imperfectly. It would also be very adviseable to explain the lesson in general terms, when first given out, and more at length when the scholars recite; and, if possible, the construction of the Hebrew sentences, and the mode of reading this language without points, should at the same time be taught, and children might thus easily become acquainted with a number of elegant extracts from the Bible, whilst they at the same time acquire a thorough knowledge of the principal articles of their religion. Those, who do not understand Hebrew, and have no means of becoming acquainted with it, can also make good use of this book, as almost every word has been carefully rendered into English. In these translations I have been guided by Jewish commentators and versions, chiefly those of the great Rabbi Moses Mendelsohn, to whose genius, guided by God's providence, we are indebted for many benefits, and in particular to the light of science which we now enjoy. I also would recommend to my readers, the younger portion especially, not to be satisfied with a mere casual perusal of this, but to give it now and then a share of their attention ; and I trust, that the advantage they will derive from the reading of this little work, will compensate them for the time spent in its perusal. The indulgent reader, I hope, will not accuse me of presumption, for offering these remarks to his consideration ; since it is but fair, that I, having some experience in this matter, and the welfare of our community deeply at heart, should be permitted to make a few observations on the use of a book, on which I have bestowed my undivided attention for several months.
It is universally acknowledged, that there is a great scarcity of elementary books of this kind amongst us; and this is, therefore, the first of a series, which is attempted, to remedy this defect; as I intend to present more works of this kind to the consideration of the public, if the encouragement held out for this will warrant me in the undertaking. The patrons of this will no doubt recollect, that I last winter issued proposals for this and another work ; but the assistance, hitherto promised, is far from sufficient to pay the expenses of the publication even of this alone, and I was obliged to assume the publication myself, as no bookseller was willing to undertake it. I hope, that this will be a sufficient apology to those, who have subscribed for both, for the appearance of one only at the present, as it cannot be expected that I should run the risk of too great a loss. But they may rest assured, that I shall put the said work to press as soon as possible, and the execution shall fully equal that of the present, if the Almighty blesses me with sufficient strength and health to attend to it. From the specimen here offered,
3. What is meant by FREEDOM OF WILL ? Man, of his own free accord, can determine to do certain actions, or omit doing them, just as he may deem them right and useful, or wrong and injurious. The animal obeys merely its instinct, and strives solely to satisfy its natural impulses ; but man has the power to govern his desires (that is to say, his inclination for that which pleases his senses, and his aversion for those things which may happen to be disagreeable to them) through the force of his reason. Reason, therefore, teaches him to satisfy his inclinations no farther than he may deem them necessary for his preservation, and conducive to his spiritual and moral improvement. It is thus expressed in the Bible:
Behold ! I lay before thee :: ראה נתתי לפניך היום את החיים ואת
•1977 nxi niso 08931077 this day: life and the (Deut. 30 ch. 15 v.)
good; death and the evil.” you anda yan 7°N 7993 Did inn sx “Be not like the horse
•90883np sa disab rohy and mule, which have no reason; whose mouth must be governed by bridle and bit, Jest they injure thee.” (Psalm 32, v. 9.)
4. Is this freedom of will of any importance to man?
Certainly; for this alone it is, which gives moral worth to man and his deeds ; because his actions and omissions can only in so far deserve praise or censure, reward or punishment, as he is at liberty to act after testing and reflection,
The application of this mental power in ruling his desiresthe government of himself—is of the utmost necessity to man ; for it is his duty to take the utmost care that his inclinations may not degenerate into passions,* and lead him to the com
* Passions are such desires, as have become so strong and lasting, that they disturb our peace of mind, and place our soul in a passive state, as she