RAPHALL, MORRIS JACOB


RAPHALL, MORRIS JACOB
RAPHALL, MORRIS JACOB (1798–1868), rabbi. Raphall, who was born in Stockholm, Sweden, settled in England in 1825. He quickly became prominent in British Jewry and one of its chief exponents to the Christian world, fighting for the political rights of Jews and against defamations of Judaism. He published Hebrew Review and Magazine of Rabbinical Literature (3 vols., October 1834–July 1836), the first Jewish periodical in England, and, with David Aaron de sola , he produced the first translation of parts of the Mishnah into English, Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna (1843; 18452). In 1849 Raphall went to the U.S. to serve as rabbi of B'nai Jeshurun Synagogue in New York. There he associated himself with isaac leeser and S.M. isaacs and preached against Reform. His lectures on Jewish history attracted large crowds, including many Christians. In 1860 he gave the first invocation by a rabbi before the House of Representatives. At the peak of the secession crisis, on Jan. 4, 1861, a day President Buchanan had proclaimed a National Fast Day, Raphall delivered what became the most highly publicized rabbinical statement on the "Bible and Slavery." Placing Judaism squarely in opposition to abolitionism, he denied that any statement in the Bible could be interpreted to prohibit slavery, and insisted that, on the contrary, biblical law granted the right to own slaves. He did distinguish between biblical slavery and the southern system; the Bible, he said, regarded the slave as a person, whereas Southerners treated the slave as a thing. But he directed his major attack against the abolitionists for their misrepresentation of the Bible and their agitation against the legitimate right of slaveholding. The sermon was widely reprinted, drawing praise throughout the South and criticism from Jewish and non-Jewish abolitionists in the North. A notable reply came from the Reform leader and abolitionist Rabbi david einhorn . An active fund-raiser on behalf of the needy, Raphall was particularly concerned for the poor of Palestine. His books include Ruhama: Devotional Exercises for the Use of the Daughters of Israel (1852), Post-Biblical History of the Jews (2 vols., 1855), and Path to Immortality (1859). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: DAB, S.V.; I. Goldstein, Century of Judaism in New York (1930), 111–5, 148–53; H.S. Morais, Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century (1880), 287–91; E.M.F. Mielziner, Moses Mielziner (Eng., 1931), 212–50; M. Davis, Emergence of Conservative Judaism (1963), 356–58. (Jack Reimer)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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