This is a pedagogical edition of a selection of Las excelencias de los hebreos (Amsterdam 1679), in .doc format with an English-language introduction and notes, with the original text in both the original Castilian and English translation.
Las excelencias de los hebreos (Amsterdam 1679) is a treatise describing the positive characteristics (excelencias) of the Jewish people and a containing a refutation of common anti-Jewish calumnies (calunias) written by Isaac Cardoso (b. Fernando Cardoso, Trancoso, Portugal 1603 – d. Verona, Italy 1683). Excelencias is an apology or pro-Jewish treatise meant to educate its readers on Jewish history and practice, and to combat typical anti-Jewish ideas that were very widespread in Europe since the Middle Ages, and that persist to this day.
In this excerpt, the tenth and last of the calumnies leveled at leveled at Jews that he addresses in the work, Cardoso refutes the blood libel often aimed at aimed at Jewish communities living in majority Christian societies from the Middle ages to the present day. This is the accusation that Jews murder Christian children and use their blood to make the unleavened bread that is eaten ritually on the holiday of Pesach, or Passover.
As Cardoso explains in this text, these accusations are in contradiction to Jewish law, which forbids the consumption of blood of any sort, and condemns murder and human sacrifice in no uncertain terms. It is also worth pointing out that the accusation of drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a human sacrifice is structurally similar to the sacrament of communion, in which believing Catholics drink wine that according to the doctrine of transubstantiation has become the blood of Christ, and eat a wafer that according to the same doctrine has become his flesh. No such parallel is to be found, however, in Jewish ritual.