Deistpedia: The Deist EnCyclopedia

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I   J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 0-9

The Text of Spinoza's Excommunication

On the 6th of the month of Av, 5416, July 27, 1656, the excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza was proclaimed from the Ark in the synagogue of Talmud Torah, the united congregation of the Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam. The complete version of the proclamation, written in Portuguese, is found in the Book of Ordinances of the congregation (Livro dos Acordos de Nacao e Ascamot) and it includes some highly interesting details:

"The Lords of the Ma'amad", i.e. the governing body of six parnassim and the gabbai, announce that

"having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza , they have endeavored by various means and promises, to turn him from his evil ways. But having failed to make him mend his wicked ways, and, on the contrary, daily receiving more and more serious information about the abominable heresies which he practiced and taught and about his monstrous deeds, and having for this numerous trustworthy witnesses who have deposed and born witness to this effect in the presence of the said Espinoza, they became convinced of the truth of this matter; and after all of this has been investigated in the presence of the honorable hakhamim, they have decided, with their consent, that the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel..."

The "hakhamim," namely the official rabbis of the community, with whose consent the resolution was made to excommunicate the "said Espinoza," were familiar with the traditional wording of the proclamations of excommunication and excerpts of these conventional formulations were incorporated in the announcement of Spinoza's excommunication:

"By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of the entire holy congregation, and in front of these holy scrolls with the 613 precepts which are written therein; cursing him with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho and with the curse which Elisha cursed the boys and with all the castigations which are written in the Book of the Law. Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law. But you that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day."

The proclamation of the excommunication concludes with the following famous lines of the actual warning:

"That no one should communicate with him neither in writing nor accord him any favor nor stay with him under the same roof nor within four cubits in his vicinity; nor shall he read any treatise composed or written by him."

This material was taken from  Asa Kasher and Shlomo Biderman WHY WAS Baruch de Spinoza EXCOMMUNICATED?