IT is frequently the case that persecution for opinion’s sake makes people tolerant of the opinions and practices of others, but it seems that some of the Jews in this city have not learned the lesson. The Sun of the 10th inst. has the following, illustrative of this fact:—
The extreme rigor with which the Orthodox Russian Jews living here keep the Sabbath was illustrated by a trial reported in yesterday’s Sun. One of them offended his co-religionists by smoking a cigar in the street on the Sabbath; his brethren remonstrated with him, set upon him, smote him in the face, and wounded him in such a way that his smoking was brought to an end for one Sabbath. His assailants were brought to trial last Friday; he could not prove his case; they were acquitted; and, after their acquittal, as reported in the Sun, “half a hundred or more of the Orthodox gathered around them and kissed them.”
It seems to us that they interpreted the fourth table of the law of Moses too strictly. We do not see that cigar smoking, or the inhaling and exhaling of tobacco smoke, can properly be regarded as working, or as breaking the Sabbath, or as violating the command to hallow it; and yet we admit that, if the chief rabbi of the east side so regards it, there is an end to the controversy, so far as his many followers are concerned.
As further bearing upon the subject, we can say with certainty that the original Puritan settlers of New England would have rejoiced over the smiting and flooring of any man who smoked on the Sabbath kept by them, which was Sunday.
From one standpoint it seems strange that a people who have suffered as much from intolerance and religious prejudice, as have the Russian Jews, should retain in their practice, or in their feelings even, any of this evil. But we must remember that intolerance is innate in the human breast. It is human nature. It was intolerance that caused Cain to kill his brother; and from that day to this the same wicked thing has been causing men to maltreat, to imprison, and to kill their fellowmen. It was the moving spirit of the Inquisition as it is the inspiration of National Reform and American Sabbath Unionism.