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The Jewish History Series

Lesson #11: Mysteries of the Talmud—Terrible Murder in the East

The New York Herald
No. 5781, Morning Edition--Saturday, April 6, 1850

Mysteries of the Talmud—Terrible Murder in the East

The present age is not only characterized by wonders, improvements, discoveries and inventions, in all the branches of literature appertaining to the physical and intellectual world, but is also signally illustrated by the exposure of certain secret practices and dark mysteries, hitherto concealed from the knowledge of all preceding generations. The republic of Rome, not satisfied with having proclaimed the fall of the Popedom, abolished the Holy Inquisition, unbarred the doors of those subterraneous caverns and gloomy dungeons, and gave publicity to the trials of the victims. The papal power has since been re-established; but the precious manuscripts have been carried off, and, by the exertions of some eminent Italians, are about to be published in Switzerland.

But while all this was taking its natural course, who would have dreamt of beholding the bloody mysteries of the Talmud exposed in their turn, and of having the trial of one of the most savage and ferocious murders ever yet recorded in the annals of criminality, once more brought before the public?

Who would have imagined that certain fanatics use human blood to moisten their holy unleavened bread?

Our readers will undoubtedly recollect the universal sensation created throughout the world, by the discovery of Father Tommaso, a Christian missionary from Sardinia, and his servant, Abrahim Amara, had been bled to death, their limbs chopped off joint by joint, their bones pounded in the mortar, and their mutilated remains thrown into a drain in the city of Damascus. The manuscripts of the original trial, as sealed by the French, as sealed by the French and Austrian consuls of that city, are now in this city, and we can thereby defy the “Great Nation” to contradict the truth of our statements.

It was in the month of August, 1840, that this atrocious murder was perpetrated. As soon as it became known to the authorities of Damascus, the Jewish population of that city immediately sent an envoy to Vienna, for the purpose of informing Mr. Rothschild that a certain barber, called Solomon—one of the accomplices in the murder—had to embrace the religion of [Mohammed] in order to save his life; that he had communicated all the details of the bloody tragedy to the city authorities, and had exposed the mysteries of the Talmud, until then concealed from other religions.

Rothschild, foreseeing the consequences of such a deed—the repugnance and abhorrence it would create throughout the rest of the civilized world, and the shame, the dishonor, and the ignominy it would entail upon the Jewish nation—used all his influence to prevent an investigation into the matter, and succeeded, by some means, in prevailing upon the Austrian cabinet, that the Austrian consul in Damascus should nullify the indictment.

The greatest difficulty, however, which had to be encountered of this diplomatic maneuver, was, that Father Tommaso was a French subject. Mons. Le Comte de Ratimanton, French consul at Damascus, had determined to avenge the brutal murder of his countryman, and persisted in carrying out his noble intentions, notwithstanding all the gold and jewels which the Jews and their women carried to Salakir, the consul’s country seat, to induce him to favor their plans.

Finding Ratimanton resolute and unshaken, the next step consisted in bribing the French cabinet. Mr. Le Comte D’Appouy, then Austrian ambassador in Paris, now in Turin, received a note from Prince Metternich, in which he was commanded to induce Louis Philippe to send new instructions to his consul in Damascus, ordering him to suspend all prosecutions against the Jews—to send immediately to Vienna all the documents connected with this tragic affair—to follow the same policy of the Austrian consul, and to destroy all traces of the crime.

Louis Philippe was easily prevailed upon, and Ratimanton received the new instructions. But the French consul was not to be bought; and, indignant at the outrageous conduct of his government, preferred rather to resign his commission than allow the atrocity of such a crime to pass with impunity.

The Austrian government having now succeeded in removing the last obstacle which prevented the attainment of the object they had in view, found it an easy matter to settle the distressing difficulties. The Austrian consul at Damascus received, as a recompense for the zeal he manifested in this movement, immense sums of money, with which he built a marble palace, which, even at the present day, constitutes one of the greatest curiosities in the East. It was in this way, and through these means, that Rothschild obtained the suppression of the trial; but, unhappily for the Jews and their Talmud, the report of the trial disappeared, notwithstanding that a secret and confidential agent had been sent to Damascus, for the purpose of purchasing, at any cost, the influence of the Pacha, and every document written about the trial. Hereupon Rothschild refused to pay the Austrian government until such time the original report should be found and delivered to him. Orders were now upon all the men-of-war in the Archipelago, and to the police in the different cities of the East, to arrest a certain Abdallah, who, it was thought, had carried away the precious relic of the “Great Nation.” But all these attempts proved entirely abortive, for the manuscripts of the trial could not be found.

Pope Gregory XVI, perceiving in this circumstance a probable triumph for the Catholic religion, sent Cardinal Bernetti to Damascus to renew the trial, and to gather all possible accounts relative to the murder. But Rothschild, fearing from this side, that the matter might come to publicity again, overcame the papal government by the influence of gold, and Cardinal Bernetti was recalled, who took with him a copy of the original portrait of Father Tommaso and his servant, which was found in a convent at Damascus. Notwithstanding, however, all these [endeavors] on the part of Mr. Rothschild and the Jewish nation, to bury this horrid deed in obscurity, the original copy of the trial has been preserved.

Unfortunately for the perpetrators, the manuscript is at present in this city, and will very shortly come before the public in the shape of a book, illustrated with the portrait of the two unhappy martyrs, and other engravings, representing some of the horrible scenes of this murderous sacrifice on the altar of religious atrocity.

This trial will be published in New York in a few days.