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The Jewish Ministry.

Dear Friend,

I acknowledge myself a recreant, in the apathy with which I have treated the claims you have upon me; and although I might offer some extenuation for my delinquency, I had rather throw myself on your lenient indulgence, than trespass still farther on your kindness, by pleading excuses in defence of my fault. And first, let me express my great joy in learning the restoration of your health, and the fact that you are again enabled to perform the duties of life without pain or hindrance. It would have been a serious loss to the cause of Israel, had it pleased Heaven to terminate your recent severe illness fatally. To whom, in such a melancholy event, could we have looked for a zeal similar that with which you have ever advocated those schemes of reform, so necessary for the achievement of those great ends with which our nation yet stands charged? and I feel that it is a providential interposition that hath spared you yet to dwell with us, and, as I firmly hope, permitted you yet to enjoy many years of future usefulness.

I have been greatly pleased with the suggestions that you have advanced in reference to the importance of a seminary for the instruction of our Jewish youth, and still farther, of the great necessity of an entire change in the present system of clerical duties as discharged by our Hazanim. The latter subject has, for a long time, attracted my attention, and deserves, in my humble opinion, the immediate and most deliberate consideration of all those, who feel any interest in our faith, or the moral advancement of those who practise it. In its present state, the Reader’s desk presents no higher claim upon the respect and affection of the congregation than a musical voice and graceful inflections may create. Its moral power owns no existence. Regarded as a salaried official, whose duties are plainly indicated by the terms of his contract, the Reader is held to a rigid observance of mere technical trifles, whilst the greater objects of his service are totally disregarded. In truth, he feels no ambition to essay a walk into those higher paths in which his audience would feel but slight sympathy, and which, in many instances, would be regarded more as an arrogation than a duty. There is a necessity for a thorough reform commencing at the very foundation of the structure. We must regenerate the spirit of both disciple and instructor, and the inception of such a movement must proceed from the Reader’s desk, followed by a proper educational system, wherein the minds of the hearers would be prepared to receive and appreciate the inculcation of religious truths, and genius be properly trained to deliver them. I know that I have been often regarded as an enthusiast in my national predilections and belief; but I feel that there is that within me which assures me that we shall not always

—“Wander witheringly
In other lands to die;”

but that the destiny of our people, in their solemn gathering once again on Zion’s hills, is sure to be accomplished. And we go not back as individuals, but as a great and peculiar nation, who, selected from on high to be the “chosen ones” of God, will amidst the homage and choral chaunts of all other tribes and people, to our home and to our resting-place. And it will be a glorious day for Judah, when that scattered remnant shall again assemble beneath the sun of Syria; when on those hills whose summits witnessed the “living presence” shall again be seen that glorious light which shed peace and love on the hearts of them that gazed; and in the crowded throng gathered in that hour in the plains beneath, a vast and numerous host, pure and uncontaminated, fitted by their trials and afflictions to merit the blessings of his love, shall be again witnessed the priest, arrayed in his sacred robes, whilst, as he pronounces the solemn benediction, one mighty voice shall respond, “Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever.”

“In that day shall Israel dwell securely,” and “the Redeemer come unto Zion.” Is it distant? Ay, just as distant as the moral regeneration of our people; for full surely they will both appear nigh unto each other, one the offspring of the other.

My time warns me to brevity, and I cannot dwell as I would wish, on this and its kindred themes. During the interval that has passed, since, standing by your bedside, I last had the satisfaction (although then a melancholy one) of seeing you, the course of life has been passing in its accustomed train. To some it hath brought sickness, and disease has fastened upon the robust form, and wasted away its buoyancy and strength; unto others it hath brought death, and whilst souls have winged their flight to the realms of eternity, we, who have survived, have been called to mourn for those whom we shall never again behold on earth, and as the heavy hand of God hath seemed sorely pressing us in our afflictions, we have felt how evanescent and uncertain are earthly joys, how lightly to be treasured;—unto others it has brought bliss and happiness, and the bright dreams of many an hour of anticipation have been realized by the full assurance of present joys; and unto all hath the presence of Heaven been ever manifest, ruling and governing, and in every dispensation rendering some new evidence of his benevolent providence. And in the tedious, painful fours of the sick bed, and in the dreary desolation of the mourner’s heart, and in the happy spirits of the rejoicing bride and bridegroom, in all these runs one vein of breathing religious philosophy—dependence upon that Source whence all these proceed.

When the engagements, which now so constantly occupy every moment, shall measurably be fulfilled, I will again write you. In the interval, with affectionate remembrances to your readers and yourself,

I remain your friend,

“A Moralizing Layman.”

Adar, 5607.