Cedars of Lebanon: Marriages Are Made in Heaven
ISRAEL ABRAHAMS, one of the most distinguished of modem scholars of Judaism in the English-speaking countries, was born in London in 1858, the son of a rabbi who had come to England from Warsaw at an early age. Abrahams was educated at Jews’ College and London University and taught at the former institution from 1881 to I902, when he left to succeed Solomon Schechter as reader in rabbinics at Cambridge. He remained at Cambridge until his death in 1925.
Abrahams led the life of a scholar. He was active in the founding and administration of Jewish learned societies, presided over university theological societies, and from 1888 to 1908 was joint editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. He wrote numerous essays, scholarly papers, and books, of which the most important is Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (London, 1896).
In religion, Abrahams was on the side of Reform. Though he opposed political Zionism, he looked to Palestine as a Jewish cultural center and was an ardent believer in the enduring value of the Hebrew language.
The essay reprinted below, an excellent sample of Abrahams’ urbane scholarship, is taken from The Book of Delight and Other Papers, published in 1912 by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission it appears here. (Another essay from that volume, “Medieval Wayfaring,” was published in this department in the July 1947 issue of COMMENTARY.) -ED.
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