192 pp. (7 1/4 x 4 3/8 in.; 183 x 110 mm). pagination: [v], vi-xii, , 10-183,  = 192 pp. Uncut. Some browning, ocassional light staining. Owner's signature on recto, first free endpaper. Original paper boards, stained, spine defective.
Joshua Hezekiah DeCordova (1720-1797) served as a preacher and religious teacher in his native Amsterdam and in Curacao. In 1755, he was appointed the Rabbi of the prominent Jewish community in Jamaica, a position he retained for more than forty years, until his death. A staunch traditionalist DeCordova consistently endeavored to ensure the spiritual welfare of his congregants. In a 1758 communication to the leaders of New York's Jewish community, he admonished them to be more stringent in guarding the kashrut of the meat they exported to Jamaica. Three decades later, he published Reason and Faith, a defense of revealed religion against "modern philosophers who destroy all principles of faith and virtue." A polemic directed against Deists and freethinkers, this work was quickly imported into the North American continent where it was quickly reprinted, first in the present edition and then again in 1804. As the first Jewish work of its kind published in North America, its title page also contained two lines of Hebrew type. The first line of Hebrew reads Emet ve-Emunah, a fair translation of the English title, Reason and Faith (though Emet, is probably better rendered as "Truth"). The second Hebrew line, more strident in tone, seems to encourage the reader to rise to the defense of traditional faith. This line reprises the ancient rabbinic dictum: Da Ma she-Tashiv la-Apikorus (know what you will respond to the heretic), first quoted in the Mishnah (Avot 2:14) that enjoins the arming of oneself with sufficient knowledge to combat those who deny traditional beliefs.
Literature: Bertram W. Korn, "The Haham DeCordova of Jamaica." American Jewish Archives XVIII, no. 2 (Nov. 1966): 141-154.
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