chapter  3
14 Pages

Jews and Slavery

Biblical scholars point out that "the system of slavery which is tolerated by the Torah was fundamentally different from the cruel systems of the ancient world and even of Western countries down to the middle of the last century. Moses Maimonides, the greatest Jewish sage of the twelfth century, elaborated at great length on the institution of slavery in the code known as the Mishneh Torah. Judaism, with its alleged emphasis upon rationality, its rejection of physical labor, its contractual nature with God, its special treament of strangers, rather than the evolution of Protestant ethics was responsible for modem capitalism and its illegitimate offspring—African slavery. Small wonder that some Jews may have welcomed the Russians as deliverers from chaos. The Napoleonic Code was no more severe than laws imposed upon Jews in Germany by Frederick the Great.