` Baruch, The trial of Spinoza
B A R U C H
(The trial of Spinoza)

A Play in Four Acts by
John David Garcia with Roberta Meyers
Elkton, Oregon 1984

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Baruch de Spinoza As a young boy.
Baruch de Spinoza A man in his early twenties of medium height and build with dark hair and complexion. Semitic appearance.
Chorus Dressed in black robes-hooded.
Rebecca de Spinoza A dark woman about thirty, Baruch's older sister.
Dr. Franciscus Van den Enden An older man (about 55) of robust and florid appearance with an outgoing, extroverted personality, and graying blond hair. Obvious intelligence verging on loquaciousness. He is an exJesuit, a physician, scientist and philosopher.
Clara Van den Enden A plain, fair, blond girl of about sixteen with large clear eyes and obvious intelligence and wit. Franciscus' daughter.
Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira An older man with a lean, intense appearance. Chief rabbi of Holland.
Rabbi Samuel de Caceres A young man in his twenties with a nervous, neurotic appearance. Baruch's brother-in-law, recently widowed.
Dirck Kerckrinck A blond, handsome man in his early twenties with expensive clothes and a pleasant, confident air.
3 or 4 Jewish elders Varying in age from thirties to old age.
Various congregants  
The intermediary A man in his thirties.
Assassin Nondescript


BARUCH
ACT I scene one

(As lights come up from blackout to dim a cavern is revealed. Sobs of many different voices and ages are heard. A child sits against one of the cavern walls. As the sobs get louder and louder the child Cups his hands over his ears trying to

block the noise. The child spins in confusion. (Enter chorus surrounding the child in a circular movement chanting; enter older Baruch, all other action freezes on stage, enter assassin with dagger and attack Baruch, dance of death and life ensues and freezes)

CHORUS

Life is Life. (whispered voice-overs echoing)death death death
Death is life.(enter Rebecca and Clara joining the circle)
(whispered voice-overs echoing) death death death
Look into the void.
(stacatto whispered) DEATH
(whispered vows echoing) death death death
Feel the black surround you.
(stacatto whispered) DEATH
No question. (enter Franciscus and Dirak joining the circle)
No answer. (exit all characters one by one)
Confusion Superstition Illusion Illusion.

(sobbing pianissimo cresendoing to forte decresendoing to pp intermingled with) Life death, Life death (to fade..blackout lights up . The young man that was the child, Baruch is alone in the cave.)

BARUCH

There are so many questions. The answers I find are not the same as the answers I was taught. I am surrounded by death and life. I must discover more and more and more, I feel I too will die soon. I hope I have enough time.(sobbing begins)

CHORUS

Life is life. Death is death. Question no more. Accept our answer. Look into the void. Feel the black surround you; take the confusion. Take the illusion...Life death death life. (sobbing)

BARUCH

No, life is a question to be explored. God gave me reason and imagination. I will use them well. There is much more joy and happiness in life through truth than most are led to believe. I will discover and share. (sobbing)

CHORUS

Foolish one, discover and you will find your doom. Step into the confusion...Walk with us in the illusion and you will be safe...death life life death...(sobbing and lights fade slowly to black out)

End of scene one ACT I

ACT I scene two

(A modestly-furnished room with many scientific artifacts -globes, microscopes, telescopes, balances, retorts, etc.- and books in Franciscus Van den Enden's house. Baruch and Dirok are seated and Franciscus is standing in front of a lighted fireplace. It is mid-17th century in Amsterdam, Holland. A wall, stage right, divides the room. There is a platform and Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira, Rabbi Samuel de Caceres and several Jewish elders are on the platform as if in some kind of meeting. The chorus is on a platform above the room and the platform of the clerics is on an apron. As the elder" speak, the action of chorus and house freezes. As action is in the house the action of the elders freezes.) --note--The different levels add a sense of mystery and interest visually.)

CACERES

That libertine, that Van den Enden in becoming intolerable with his outspokeness against authority. He is becoming dangerous to everything we stand for. If he doesn't stop soon we will have to put an end to him somehow.

MORTEIRA

I can't believe that pervert of a school master had the nerve to present that living picture of The Eunuch and then also had the gall to use the burgermaisters son in the lead role . You are right Rabbi Samuel. He is becoming too dangerous. I fear .... (action freezes on platform and moves to room)

FRANCISCUS

I am so chilled. We are sure to have a very cold winter.

DIRCK

(shivering) Do you think that science will ever find a way of controlling the weather?

FRANCISCUS

There in no limit to what science can do. We need only combine the methods of Bacon, Gallileo and Descartes in a purposeful way and all of nature's secrets will reveal themselves to us. All that happens has a physical cause. Just as cannons demolish castle walls which used to seem impregnable so will science demolish the superstition of the priests and clerics who regard all of nature as the plaything

of a whimisical god into whom they project their meanest desires and prejudices. (sobblng begins, action freezes, moves to chorus platform.)

CHORUS

Heed what you utter old man. You commit blasphemy...No questions-. ..no answers. . .confusion. . .illusion.

FRANCISCUS

Not only will man control nature, but he will some day control life itself. In our disections and microscopic observations we have seen that all forms of life are very like engines and the workings of a clock in their inner structure. As we begin to understand their workings, we will be better able to repair them, improve them, and eventually replace them.

CHORUS

He utters far too far...death life death life...there is nothing more. Or is there?

BARUCH

But what about the soul. Surely our souls can not be understood in the same way as our bodies. And if we cannot understand and control ourselves, then we will always be limited in what we can understand and control outside ourselves.(action moves to platform.)

MORTEIRA

Control comes solely from religous authority. They pretend to understand too much in that school. Only we are given to understand.

CHORUS

Illusion, illusion...confusion.

FRANCISCUS

The soul is but an appendix of the body. Just as a loadstone will exert a force beyond itself to attract a piece of iron, so do our bodies exert a force beyond themselves to control themselves. The mind is but an effect of the body which can have no existence without the body. All this drivel about souls existing without bodies is a lie perpetrated by the religions so that they can collect alms, taxes, and human life itself by pretending that they can provide for the welfare of the soul beyond the lifetime of body.

CHORUS

(shocked and angry) Blasphemer. Blasphemer.

FRANCISCUS

It is this idiotic, completely unscientific superstition that keeps paupers and kings subservient to these mealy-mouthed, parasitical hypocrites who claim to speak in God's name.

CHORUS

Ouch! (to Franciscus) Damn you!

FRANCISCUS

If I could, I would take everyone of those wretched crows and hang them. I would...(enter Clara with a tray of hot tea)

CHORUS

Look, the girl approaches. Listen. She might still be ours. Illusion...Illusion...Illusion

CLARA

Father, if you do not lower your voice, these "crows" will hear you all the way to the cathedral and you, not they, will be the one to hang.

CHORUS

Hear, hear. The girl speaks well for the side of the elders. We thinks she is theirs.

BARUCH

Much of what you say may be true Dr. Van den Enden. I came to study with you because I found you to be the most learned man I had ever met. However, I see no evidence of a scientific nature to support your contention that the mind is

entirely an effect of the body. It seems to me that the mind is an effect of both the body and the soul and that the soul is an effect of God, as is our body.

CHORUS

Listen to them. They are so wrapped up in their smug reason they can find no room to agree..(chorus laugher) (Dirck is very attentive to Clara and has been watching her. He crosses to her and pours himself a cup of tea. He smiles with open affection at her. Clara crosses to Franciscus and gives her father a cup of tea and offers Baruch tea smiling and acting shy. Dirck looks on jealously.)

FRANCISCUS

The evidence for the fact that our mind is an effect of our body is contained in the simple observation that we can change the state of our mind by changing the state of our body.

CHORUS

Effect effect effect...We think thou art a defect...(chanting) Life death life death life death

FRANCISCUS

For example, when we drink too much wine we have changed our minds by taking a substance into our bodies. The other day I saw a patient who had received a heavy blow upon his head. He had forgotten his own name and how to speak, although neither his tongue nor his throat were injured. Therefore, our mind is an effect of our body in general and our brain in particular. The brain engenders our mind just as our loins engender our children.(Clara is still standing next to Baruch and she is noticeably embarrassed. Baruch has an unconvinced look, smiles warmly at Clara. Dirk moves his chair closer to Clara.)

DIRCK

If my father and our neighbors in Hamburg could hear our conversations, they would die of apoplexy. They think we learn solely Latin and mathematics here.

CHORUS

We might die of apoplexy if this doesn't end soon.

CLARA

And indeed you do. The heresy, excuse me father, "philosophy" is merely an added bonus that my father saves for his special pupils.

CHORUS

Good girl. Nice Freudian slip. Oops that one is some where in the future, nevertheless another questing fool.

DIRCK

(to Clara) Baruch and I were very fortunate in having you tutor us in Latin. (Baruch squeezes Clara's hand unobserved by the other two.)

BARUCH

I do not know why, but somehow I feel that there is something missing in your arguments. You advocate the primacy of matter over mind. But the only thing I feel I really know are my own thoughts. Everything else may be an illusion. We

can be sure of our thoughts but not of what is causing them. We make errors solely when we say that something has caused something else. It seems to me that we should begin with what we know best and go toward what we know least. (Chorus

starts mirroring and mimicking Baruch.) I would think that by first understanding our minds, of which we have direct, immediate evidence, we can then begin to understand what causes our thoughts, our bodies and all of nature around us. I feel that we will never really understand anything unless we understand ourselves first.

CHORUS

(parading) I feel that we will never really understand anything unless we understand ourselves first.

PRANCISCUS

This is a chicken and egg problem. The answer is that we must try to understand everything in order to understand anything. Everything in the universe is related to

everything else and nothing can truly be understood independently of its relationship to the total universe.

CHORUS

(wandering around) I'm getting dizzy.

CLARA

(ironically) Is that why you hate the clergy so much, because you cannot understand how they are related to everything else. Or is it because you were once one of them.

CHORUS

(puzzled) What did she mean by that remark?

BARUCH

I feel that we only hate what we cannot understand. We should never hate people, but try to understand why they are the way they are. Since every effect has a cause, all our behavior must itself be caused ultimately by things outside ourselves. If a person understands what has caused another person to behave as he does, then he will try to help him overcome his handicaps and not hate him for them. (Chorus shakes right hands in la di da gesture, mimicking Baruch)

DIRCK

What you are saying, in effect, is that we have no free will and that we are not responsible for our actions. If every person is not held responsible for his actions, then it becomes impossible to have a civilized society and we disintegrate into barbarism. (Chorus perks up)

CHORUS

Now here's a bright fellow. Heed him well you fools. He has not gone completely to his reason. He might still be theirs along with the girl...Illusion...illusion...illusion

FRANCISCUS

Everyone is responsible for his actions: that is why I hate these lying, corrupting crows. They once deceived me as they now deceive their parishioners.

BARUCH

This problem of being responsible for our actions while knowing that our every act has an origin outside ourselves is a dilemma which I cannot resolve. I feel in my innermost being that we must accept personal responsibility, but at the same time I know logicially that free will is an illusion. I will have to think more about this.

CHORUS

Illusion ... illusion ... illusion.

CLARA

I must now accept responsibility for my own actions and send you two home because father has to prepare for his next class which is about to begin. If I let him, he would spend all his time talking to you and neglect his other students. This

might someday resolve the dilemma of freewill, but we would have all starved in the mean time. Man does not live by thought alone. (blackout)

End of scene two ACT I

ACT I scene three

(Funeral music is heard and continues under the scene to the end. Clara and Dirck are standing talking as the scene opens in the cave.)

CHORUS

(in basso) death...death....death...death

CLARA

Poor Baruch. Now that his father is gone he has no one that cares for him. You and myself and my father are more concerned for him than what's left of his family. I worry so for him. He is so naive and honest to a fault. He is so open with his ideas and opinions. He makes many very angry.

DIRCK

Yes poor Baruch. I too pity him and feel for him. If he would only keep his ideas within the confines of your father'shouse or better still within the confines of his own head. But, no, he has to share with everyone he comes into contact

with. It is a very foolish habit and I fear for him if he does not learn to control himself. (Exit Clara and Dirck stage left. Enter Baruch stage right. Baruch is noticeablly distraught.)

BARUCH

Oh father I miss you! Did I ever tell you how much I loved you? I meant to. We were so different you and I, you the practical business man, I the dreamer, but still I loved you. If I could just retrieve one moment with you and hold you and tell you I cared so deeply(Baruch puts his head in his hands in deep grief.)

CHORUS

(in basso chanting) Reason now oh wise one and tell us your answer...In grief you are the same as any other man...Where is your wisdom, your joy now...Death ...death... death... death ...(The wind is heard moaning.)

VOICE

Dream dreams...dream dreams...but beware. Beware of those that you take for your loved ones and friends...dream dreams...dream dreams...(black out)

End of scene three ACT I

ACT I scene four

(A few months later, same room as scene two. Clara and Baruch are sitting together in front of the fire.)

CLARA

My life has become so different in the last year. I only used to have to worry about father, now I also have to worry about you.

BARUCH

Why do you worry about me?

CLARA

Because of the same reason I worry about father. You are both so impractical. Father is so dangerously out-spoken that the church will almost certainly have him arrested some day. You, on the other hand, are so pathetically honest that you cannot detect the malice and deceit in those around you. If a known murderer were seeking to kill Baruch de Spinoza, and he asked you where he was, you would tell him.

BARUCH

I am not that impractical.

CLARA

Yes you are!

CHORUS

Yes you are! Impractical, impractical, impractical!

CLARA

Last week I heard you talking to those two rabbi's who were obviously trying to get you to incriminate yourself.

BARUCH

They were not rabbis, but my former fellow students from the Yeshiva. They were merely doing Rabbi Morteira's bidding. I understood their purpose and I in no way incriminated myself. I am not an idealist. I see the world the way it is. Just

because I seek to understand it, does not mean that I am unaware or oblivious to its dangers.

CLARA

What about your renouncing your father's inheritance?

CHORUS

(sarcastically) Oh no he's not at all impractical...Talk about confusion.

BARUCH

My father was a merchant, while I seek to be a scholar. It was better that my sisters and brothers have the inheritance since my needs are small. They offered me a small pension and let me use the house occasionally.

CHORUS

We thinks in seeking scholarship thou hast become a fool.

CLARA

You mean they offered you your money and let you use your house.

BARUCH

They are no longer mine. Possessions are the worst prison.

CHORUS

Ugh! Where does he get this drivel?

CLARA

Have you forgotten that your family tried to deprive you of all your inheritance and you had to take them to the civil courts before you could make them a gift of what you had just won. What will you do if they turn against you? How will you support a family? You know that your brother-in-law is gossiping about your freethinking and heretical ways.

BARUCH

I fought for my inheritance because they were trying to deprive me of it unjustly, and no man should tolerate immoral behavior. I gave it up because they needed it more than I. As for poor Samuel, he has been distraught since my sister Miriam died. They were together less than a year, and twenty-three is too young to be a widower with a baby son. He sees me as a threat to his rabbinical position and he is not a brave man. For him to question the old ways would be like leaving a secure refuge in a raging storm. All of us Spanish Jews are too recently escaped from the Inquisition into the only free country in Europe to begin to challenge any authority, let alone our own. The best thing for Samuel would be for him to study the new science, particularly Descartes. But for him, everything begins with the Torah and ends with the Talmud. He even considers Maimonides as a radical.

CHORUS

This poor kid. I've never seen anyone so messed up. He reminds us of all the other fools throughout history, kind of like Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ all in one. If he were to get out amongst the people too much or too often, they might think he's the messiah. (to audience) Do you think he could be the messiah? Do you think he could have gotten this old with no one knowing he was the messiah. Ah well, meanwhile back to the special council...confusion...confusion.

CLARA

Oh, Baruch! Sometimes you are so understanding that I think you understand nothing. How can you possibly ever marry.

BARUCH

(embracing Clara) You are the only one I would ever marry. I have never met anyone to whom I felt so close. I feel I can discuss anything with you and that you will understand. When I first came to study Latin with your father and he assigned me to you, I felt embarrassed that I should have to learn from a little girl, which you were then. But I soon saw that you were one of the wisest persons I had ever met. It was not only your mastery of Latin, music, art and mathematics, but the good sense and humor which you showed in everything. As I have watched you grow into a woman I have come to realize that you are the only one whom I will ever love. I love you with all my heart and soul.(they kiss)

CLARA

Baruch, I love you too, but you know that we cannot marry. The authorities have recently forbidden marriages between gentiles and Jews. You are being as unrealistic in your love for me as you are in everything else. If I felt you could support me and our children, I would become your mistress, but I just know that you will always be impractical and barely able to look out for yourself.

BARUCH

I am much more practical and prudent than your father. I seek no revolution, but only truth for myself and others. With your help, your father has managed to do quite well. His medical practice flourishes and he now has so many students that he has offered me a teaching position in the school. Besides, my father saw to it that I learn a valuable skill. I am a most accomplished lens grinder. There is a great demand for telescope and microscope lenses from all the scientists who are discovering new worlds in the skies and in the depths of life. Between my teaching and lens grinding we should manage quite well, even if my family turns completely against me. I have not asked them for anything since I came to live with your father.

CHORUS

As we said this boy is sick. (enter Dirck)

DIRCK

(embarrassed) Oh excuse me I was looking for professor Van den Enden.

CLARA

Come in and sit down. Baruch and I were just discussing the dangers to him from both the Reformed Church and the Jewish authorities. He seems oblivious to the danger he is in. After living as a gypsy all my life with us just one stop ahead of the police and the Catholic and Protestant churches on the verge of arresting my father, I have come to know the "crows" for what they are.

CHORUS

(Gregorian chant-like) There will be no challenge to authority...Truth must not enter the minds of the masses; only their wisdom and interpretation...

CLARA

They cannot give in even an inch or they will be drowned in an ocean of doubt. And of all the things they fear most, the worst is the man of reason who seeks to understand the world through logic and science. For this they burned Giordano Bruno and imprisoned Gallileo. But it is not only the papists. Calvin burned Servetus and the Lutheran bullies destroyed churches and burned the art of centuries when they were on the rampage. Any group that is convinced that it is the sole possessor of truth will kill, burn and destroy anyone who challenges it. Any system, such as science, basing itself on doubt instead of faith, is the greatest threat to any totalitarian order.

CHORUS

Confusion, illusion, confusion, illusion, illusion, illusion...

CLARA

But science is also a way to power. So the tyrants will have to tolerate science, but keep it domesticated at the same time. I do not know who will win in the long run. But I do know that the battle will not be won soon. Even if all religious superstition is some day overcome, there will be other superstitions about the divine rights of kings, the superiority of certain nations and the infalliability of certain authorities which will continue to plague mankind. Most will refuse the fight and try to survive as best they can. The ones who fight organized authority will usually lose and die losing. I see no point in risking our lives for truth when almost no one wants truth -- not the people, not the authorities. The only thing they seem-to want is power and security.

CHORUS

She's no problem. She's a smart girl but she's bought the illusion for comfort and longevity. (joyfully) Illusion, Illusion...

DIRCK

Truth is beautiful and should be pursued by those who appreciate it. However, to try to teach truth to those who only seek to maintain the security of their illusions is to court diaster. I have loved studying with Dr. Van den Enden, but I would never risk talking about what I have learned with the rabble or the hypocrites in power.

CHORUS

He has no courage. He'll hide behind the girl and be safe, live to a ripe old age.

BARUCH

Jan deWitt is not a hypocrite and he has power and the love of truth.

DIRCK

He in a historical accident, an exception to the rule. A philospher king in a world ruled by Cretins. As such he can not last. He will eventually be destroyed by the very people he has tried to help. Right now he is on the ascendancy because he gives people both security and freedom. However, most find security in superstition, and this security is destroyed by freedom and a pursuit of truth. Anytime that the people are given a choice between more security or more freedom, they will always choose the security. In time they will sacrifice all their freedom for the hope of complete security. This will continue until they all die. For it is only in death that they will find the security which they truly seek.

CLARA

In such a world the only course which makes sense is to live our own lives and keep out of the way of the "crows." To die for truth is to die for something almost nobody wants. People want happiness and truth rarely brings it.

BARUCH

You may be right. I am reminded that "superstition" is other people's religious beliefs. But if no one fought for truth, there would be no progress. We would not have the understanding that da Vinci, Copernicus, Gallileo, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes and more recently, Boyle, Keppler, Huygens and Van Leeuwenhoek have bequeathed us. We would be like animals. The greatest happiness is that which comes from understanding something new and then teaching it to others. This makes us more than we were and brings us closer to God. This is a happiness I have felt, and wish to share with others.

CHORUS

He's damned, damned, damned...

CLARA, DIRCK, CHORUS

(in unison) Oh Baruch! You are so naive.

END OF ACT I

ACT II scene one

(stage is in black out except for a spot on the chorus)

CHORUS

Now, as you will see dear audience, the whole thing, the plot, so to speak, will begin to thicken up and get less and less messy. We're moving right along because our Baruch is making everyone so frightfully mad.(Yes we do mean mad.) He's making them so angry that they are becoming insane as we will see in the upcoming scene.

We like to hear ourselves as you can plainly see

We like to sing and dance a little gleefully

You don't have to worry. You don't have to do a thing.

Let us do the talking and if we get you in a mess

we'll run away. You do the rest.

Illusion illusion confusion delusion...

(spot down to blackout, We are in the de Spinoza household

with Hebrew books and Jewish artifacts. Baruch, Rebecca and

Samuel are present.)

SAMUEL

(enraged) This is ridiculous. You are going to ruin us all. Your heresies have cast suspicion on all of us. How can anyone trust a rabbi whose brother-in-law advocates the use of reason over the authority of the law? Did our fathers suffer so much for so many thousands of years so that you could say that you know more than the Torah and the Talmud? Did our people suffer privation, torture and death at the

hands of the Inquisition so that you could set yourself up as the chief heretic in the freest and best haven our people have found? If you don't care anything for your own life, at least consider your family and the thousands of Jews who have finally found a safe haven in Holland.

BARUCH

I do not say that I know more than the Torah or the Talmud. I merely say that those documents were a product of reason by men in another place and another time and that we should interpret the law according to current realities and current knowledge. We must start from what we know and work through reason toward what we do not yet know. I have complete respect for our customs and our laws. I would not do anything to hurt you, Rebecca or any...

SAMUEL

Stop quibling! You know as well as I that you have denied the existence of God and the angels. You have...

BARUCH

I have done nothing of the sort. I could no more deny the existence of God than I could deny my own existence. I do not deny...

SAMUEL

Stop it. Stop your pedantic quibling. You use words in a different sense than do other people. What you mean by God has no relationship by what I or the Torah or the Talmud mean by God. You...

BARUCH

You are wrong. I mean the same things I merely...

REBECCA

(anxious and agitated) Please. Please stop fighting. You are both my brothers whom I love. Baruch, we are not telling you what to believe but merely to keep your opinions to yourself. And they are opinions not "scientific" facts. Rabbi Morteira will soon be here to question you. He loves you and wants to help you. We love you too Baruch, but you are scaring us. We are frightened. Can't you understand

our side of this thing? We don't want to lose everything we have because of something you believe. Please listen to Rabbi Morteira and tell him what he wants to hear. Will it cost you so much to say what our fathers have said for centuries and save us all? Why do you have to be different?

SAMUEL

It's because he thinks he is so much better and smarter than any of the rest of us.

BARUCH

I don't want to be different. I only want to understand. I don't feel like I'm better than anyone else. Ever since I can remember I have wondered and heard questions, questions I've felt compelled to explore and find answers for. Please try to understand my side.

REBECCA

It is the Rabbi. Please be careful.

SAMUEL

Do not ruin us. (a servant leads the Rabbi in)

RABBI MORTEIRA

(kindly) Good afternoon my children. I trust you all had a good Sabbath and that we will soon clear up all this nonsense about Baruch being a heretic.

REBECCA

We wish for the same thing with all our hearts Rabbi.

SAMUEL

That we do Rabbi.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Well, Baruch, what do you have to say.

BARUCH

I can only say that I am no more a heretic that was Maimonides or is our beloved Rabbi Manesseh ben Israel. I am doing the best I can to understand God and thereby come closer to him.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(gently) Do you compare yourself to Maimonides? My son, my son. You must be aware of what you are saying and to whom you are speaking. You are young and head strong but by not thinking before you speak you commit blasphemy in almost every sentence you utter. Do you think you can understand the infinite when others wiser and older than you have failed. I respect Rabbi Manesseh and I know that you were his favorite pupil. But do you...

BARUCH

Please, Rabbi, I do not wish to compare myself to great men. I recognize my own ignorance. However, I would be betraying myself and Judaism if I did not seek truth as best I can.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Baruch, truth is to be found in the Torrah, the Talmud and the Cabbala, not in the house of van den Enden or in books written by Christians. You have been inundated with the trash of heathens. It is not your fault. All you have to do is drop this line of thinking of questioning, forget it and go on with your life following the teachings of your elders.

BARUCH

I believe truth is in all things and all people because God is in all things and all people. Malmonides was a student of Aristotle and the Arab philosophers. I am only trying to...

RABBI MORTEIRA

(showing annoyance) Enough quibbling. I have some specific questions I would ask you. (turning to Samuel and Rebecca who are noticeably very nervous) My children, I think it will be better if you leave us alone. (exit Rebecca and Samuel)

RABBI MORTEIRA

(kindly) Baruch, you were my best pupil . Perhaps you were the best student the Tree Of Life ever had. You know that I have always loved you. I now just want to help you correct your errors so you can remove yourself from the great danger you have put yourself in.

BARUCH

I, too, wish to correct my errors.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Very well then, I'll ask you some specific questions, which I want you to answer as best you can in honesty and frankness. First, do you believe in God?

BARUCH

With all my heart and soul.

RABBI MORTEIRA

What do you understand by "God"?

BARUCH

By "God" I understand the cause of all things which must therefore be in all things and all things must be in God.

CHORUS

This is all very puzzling. Why can't they just have a simple yes and no quiz?

RABBI MORTEIRA

(indigently) Do you mean to tell me that you believe that the excrement of a dog is a part of God? And that God is in this excrement? (Chorus holds their noses)

BARUCH

I mean that God as the infinite, all encompassing being must perforce be in all things and that in the eyes of God nothing is vile but all is a necessary consequence of some part of him.

RABBI MORTEIRA

What about evil?

CHORUS

(as in musical phrase at the end of a number) Oh yeah. What about evil, evil, evil.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Do you think that evil occurs because God wills it?

CHORUS

Evil, evil, evil.

BARUCH

To God nothing is evil or good but all occurs because of necessity.

RABBI MORTEIRA

You mean that God has no free will but behaves as he has to?

BARUCH

All that is occurs because it has to.

RABBI MORTEIRA

You deny freedom of will to both God and man?

BARUCH

I only say how I see the world as God has given me the light to understand it. I cannot deny my own reason any more than I can deny the truth of a geometric theorem which has been logically demonstrated.

RABBI MORTEIRA

All your trouble began when you left the Talmud and the Cabala for geometry and the ways of the Christians. Can't you see this fact Baruch.

CHORUS

Evil, evil, evil. This Rabbi is being very patient.

BARUCH

I never left the Talmud. The truth of anything should be intrinsic to itself and not to its source. As for Geometry, if you were a Spanish Jew instead of a German, you would know that our people in Spain produced many great mathematicians and scientists before the inquisition persecuted us.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(angrily) You have a German Rabbi because you people did not know enough of the law to lead a Jewish life. You people will always regard anyone who is not a Sephardic Jew as an outsider. My ancestors were Ashkenazim but I was born and raised in Italy. It is more important to follow the Torrah than to have ancestors who came from one part of the world or another. After all, we all ultimately can trace our ancestery to the Holy Land.

BARUCH

I sometimes wonder if that is true.

RABBI MORTERIA

So now you question even the fact that we are the chosen people.

BARUCH

One can not learn, if one does not question.

CHORUS

Foolish one that concept is centuries in the future yet.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(wearily) Enough, enough. It is clear to me that you are no longer a Jew and that your blasphemies will bring disaster to all of us. If you care nothing for your soul you must at least have some sympathy for your family and the other Jews in Holland. For God's sake man, remove yourself from here in the dead of night. The Reform Church seeks to persecute all dissident sects. They have tolerated us only because of the wealth we have brought this nation. However, if the Christian religious authorities learn of what you are preaching...

BARUCH

I do not preach, I...

RABBI MORTEIRA

Do not interupt! If they learn of your "beliefs" then, they will say that all Jews believe the same way and that we seek to undermine their authority. I know you know the word "responsibility". But I think you feel none of this responsibility toward your own people. Everything you say or do reflects on all of us. They will turn back the clock of history and we will be persecuted once more. For the safety of all our people, you must recant or we must cast you out from our midst.

BARUCH

I cannot deny the truth.

RABBI MORTEIRA

What can you know or truth if you deny the Scriptures. We must excommunicate you for the sake of our people whose safety means so little to you. Of course you will be given the opportunity to defend yourself, but if you do no more than repeat your conversation with me you will condemn your self. I loved you well but now I must take that love back. I have nothing more to say to you. (exit Rabbi)

CHORUS

We like to hear ourselves as you can plainly see.
We like to sing and dance a little gleefully.
You don't have to worry. You don't have to do a thing.
Let us do the talking, and if we get you in a mess
we'll run away. You do the rest.

Illusion, illusion, confusion delusion. delusion, delusion...(fade delusion chant and lights)

END OF ACT II

ACT III scene one

(in a synagogue,three levels, highest chorus, middle court, lowest Baruch in cavern, a rams horn is heard.)

CHORUS

Oh goodie a trial. Now the mice will be separated from the men. (chorus continues babbling as other conversation continues, Baruch is writing, thinking, pacing etc.)

RABBI MORTEIRA, SAMUEL AND OTHERS IN COURT ROOM

We are gathered in formal council to consider the excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza. Is the defendant present?...Is the defendant present?...Is the defendant present?

SAMUEL

He is not.

CHORUS

It would be much more interesting if Baruch were here. It's simply too easy this way...dada dada dada dada dada dada

Gossip gossip gossip, We just love to gossip,
gossip here, gossip there, gossip gossip everywhere.
dada dada dada... dada dada dada
Scapegoat scapegoat scapegoat, we just love to scapegoat

Scapegoat here, scapegoat there,
scapegoat scapegoat everywhere.
dada dada dada dada dada dada
Mayhem, mayhem, mayhem, don't we love the mayhem.
We can't stand the peaceful quiet,
Let us start some mayhem.

(dance repeat song end, chorus continues repeating gossip, gossip, gossip)

RABBI MORTEIRA

Will anyone speak for him. Samuel, you are his brother. Will you defend him?

SAMUEL

I was his brother-in-law. However, Baruch is now dead to me and his family. I would rather accuse him than defend him.

CHORUS

Sad but true. (click tongues three times in tsk tsk sound)

RABBI MORTEIRA

Still it is not right that one of our congregants should be excommunicated without some defense. I have known him since he was a child. I will do my best to defend him.

CHORUS

(sarcastically) How sweet.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(with disgust) You, Samuel, may accuse him.

SAMUEL

I take no joy in this but do it out of a sense of duty. I detected signs of heresy in Baruch even before he began to study with Van den Enden. He would often question openly my interpretations of the Torah saying that they did not agree

with "reason" and that the Torah was full of internal contradictions. When I pointed out to him quotations in the Torah which supported my position, he said that they should be given a symbolic meaning rather than a figurative meaning and that I should realize that the Torah was written by and for an igornant pastoral people. He constantly questioned the nature of God and said that a wise and omniscient being

would not act so despotically and petty. He claimed that God was best interpreted as a symbol for the joint operation of all the laws of nature. He claimed that God was in all things including the worst things. He spoke like a pagan and a pantheist. When confronted with his heresies, he refused to recant and he arrogantly held that his was the road to truth. He has repeatedly denied the doctrine of free will and many of the beliefs sacred to our Christian neighbors. I have little doubt that when the Christians realize what he is about they will burn him at the stake and us along with him, if we have not excommunicated him.

CHORUS

Keep it up. You're doing a good job, joyfully condemning one you hate and resent. This is certainly more fitting for human nature than what Baruch has shown us throughout his life so far. (one of the chorus sneezes) If you kiss a sneeze right in the middle it will go away, perhaps. Gossip,gossip gossip...Let us now hear some defense.

RABBI MORTEIRA

I know Baruch as an honest and sincere young man who has come under the evil influence of that notorious atheist Van den Enden. A few years ago Baruch was the most outstanding Talmudic scholar ever produced in Holland. He excelled not only in his interpretation of the law but in his mastery of Hebrew. He had spoken to me about translating the Torah into Dutch. And I had encouraged him to do so. However, he had a passion for learning everything. He was not content to "merely" study the Talmud and the Cabala, but sought (contemptuously) new knowledge in the writings of Bacon, Gallileo, Hobbes and Descartes. In order to better prepare himself for these studies, he went to the school of Van den Eden to learn Latin and mathematics. It seems that he learned much more.

Besides being exposed to Van den Enden's atheistic influence, Baruch apparently helped van den Enden in some of his foul "experiments" with dead animals, blood, human cadavers and human seed. Baruch experimented with microscopes and telescopes. He was so overwhelmed by the glory of the Almighty's creation that he overestimated his knowledge and the power of reason. Baruch began to question all orthodoxy and felt that he knew more than all the Rabbis. He never sought confrontation, but he would always give his own opinion on any matter when pressed to do so. It seems that some of these opinions are so blasphemous that they will endanger him with the authorities and all Jews along with him. He does this not out of malice, but out of a stubborn pride in what he calls the "power of reason." If he could assure us of his silence, I would recommend that he be allowed to remain in the Jewish community. That is the best defense that I can give for him. If anyone else can better speak for him, please do so. (silence...no one utters a sound...)

CHORUS

Fools, what are you waiting for? Of course no one is going to speak. Get on with your trial.

RABBI MORTEIRA

We must also consider the testimony of several witnesses who claim to have directly heard the heresies of Baruch de Spinoza. (First witness enters and faces the Court.) Identify yourself.

FIRST WITNESS

I am Efraim Moreno de Castro,son of Esther and Abraham Moreno de Castro, refugees from Spain. I was born in Amsterdam in 1628.

RABBI MORTEIRA

How did you come to know the defendant?

FIRST WITNESS

We were students together at the Tree of Life.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Therefore you have known him for at least ten years?

FIRST WITNESS

Yes.

RABBI MORTEIRA

How did you come to know of his alleged heresies?

FIRST WITNESS

One day we were discussing the Cabala and the nature of magic. He said that the mathematics of the Cabala were primitive compared to that of Descartes and there could be no magic since there could be no violation of God's laws.

CHORUS

Of course Baruch is right but the point is that no one is supposed to be smart enough to figure this out. The Rabbis certainly are ignorant of it.

FIRST WITNESS

I then mentioned the miracles in the Torah and he said that these were probably exagerations and legends created by a primitive people. He said the Torah was written by men, not dictated letter by letter to Moses by God, as we are all taught, and that all men are all fallable. I was shocked by this and confided it to you, Rabbi, who then instructed me to ask him a specific set of questions together with my friend, Benjamin.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Call the second witness and let them answer together.(offstage voice calls second witness and second witness enters) Witness, identify yourself.

SECOND WITNESS

I am Benjamin Abravanel, son of Isac and Raquel Abravanel. Both my parents and I were born in this city. I in 1630.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Tell us what transpired between you and Baruch de Spinoza.

SECOND WITNESS

Efraim and I were Baruch's closest friends. We attempted to get him into a discussion of the immaterial nature of God and the immortality of the soul. Somehow he must have guessed our true purpose because he started avoiding us. But not before we were able to discern his rejection of the immaterial form of God given in the Scriptures and his disbelief in the immortality of the soul. He claimed that all matter is a part of God and all that exists is a modifications of God's body. He claimed that since our souls are but modifications in the body of God they will no longer exist when these modifications are changed, anymore than a printed word exists when it is erased or altered. He said it is the fear of death that deludes persons into a belief in an afterlife. He said death is the last thing we should fear and that we should concentrate on life. We obtained these statements with great difficulty and over a long period of time. He had ceased to trust us and we mistrusted him at this time so this was hard for us all.

RABBI MORTEIRA

You say that he no longer confides in you. Yet it is well known that he is outspoken in his opinions. How do you account for this?

SECOND WITNESS

Baruch would always speak to anyone whom he considered to be searching for new knowledge. However, he was very prudent and careful with persons he thought were only trying to bait him or had already made up their minds on a particular issue. He often said that persons who had no doubts were incapable of learning.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Did you ever hear him say that everything should be doubted?

FIRST WITNESS

Yes.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Even Scripture and the Law?

FIRST WITNESS

Above all Scripture and the law.

RABBI MORTEIRA

Did he ever express certainty on any subject?

FIRST WITNESS

He was very impressed with the philosophy of Descartes and agreed that the only thing about which one can be certain is one's own existence and that from one's own existence and that from one's knowledge of one's own thoughts and from nothing else one must derive "mathematically" the true nature of all things.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(to second witness) Do you concur in this testimony?

SECOND WITNESS

I do.

RABBI MORTEIRA

I think that we have heard enough. You may go. (exit witnesses) The court will now consider the disposition of the defendant.

CHORUS

(echoed voices from offstage simultaneously with chorus)

DONE

dada, dada, dada... dada, dada, dada
Gossip gossip gossip, don't we love to gossip?
Gossip here and gossip there
gossip gossip every where
dada, dada, dada...dada dada dada

Scapegoat scapegoat scapegoat, now they have their scapegoat
Do you have your scapegoat? Scapegoat here and scapegoat
there, scapegoat scapegoat everywhere. If we can blame it on
someone else we are white and lilly pure. dada, dada, dada...
dada, dada, dada... dada, dada, dada... (to fade)

END OF ACT III scene one

ACT III scene two

(the action takes place while the chorus does all the dialogue. Street scene outside of synagogue, split to inside of synagogue, the court is frozen in deliberation. A young man runs up to Baruch who is standing on the street.)

CHORUS

He has been delegated to offer Baruch a generous pension of 10,000 guilders per year for life if Baruch will promise to desist in his blasphemies and heresies. But Baruch is angry. He's saying, "No!" Now the young man is trying to convince

Baruch to accept his offer of a pension.(action to Baruch and Intermediary)

INTERMEDIARY

Are you sure? Am I to understand that you will continue to blaspheme and endanger the very existence of the Jewish community in Holland? You will in no way moderate your views?

BARUCH

I will never hide the truth with a lie or seek comfort in a community of hypocrites.

CHORUS

This is a good example of exactly why youth is wasted on the young. They cannot separate reality and fantasy nor can they seperate their own ideals from responsibilty. One is just as black and white as the other-confusion confusion confusion.

INTERMEDIARY

That is your last word on the subject?

BARUCH

Yes!

INTERMEDIARY

Very well, let it be upon your head. (exit and makes a covert signal to someone in wings)

BARUCH

Why can't they just excommunicate me and get it over with. They are so afraid of free discussion. But then the Inquisition is still fresh in their minds. Who can blame them? (an assassin lunges at Baruch with a long Spanish dagger. The assassin strikes widly at Baruch. They struggle, the dagger falls to the ground. The assassin runs away. Baruch is wounded, holds wound)

CHORUS

Fear and malice drive to extremes. Scapegoating is never enough. People must deal with their guilt and take everything to extremes.

END OF scene two ACT III

ACT III scene three

(the synagogue several days later, opening of scene is in blackout except for spot on Rabbi Morteira.)

RABBI MORTEIRA

To exclude one of our children from our midst is a grevious matter. But we can hesitate no longer. Baruch de Spinoza is obdurate in his refusal to moderate his behavior. We must excommunicate him at once and denounce him to the Christian

authorities before he implicates us with his mad blasphemies. I will denounce him myself. First, we must assemble the congregation and pronounce the anathema.

CHORUS

(chanting) Life is life.
Death, death, death (whispered voice overs echoing)
Death is life
Death, death, death (w/v-o's echoing)
Look into the void.
DEATH (stacatto whisper)
Death, death, death (w/v-o's echoing)
Feel the black surround you.
DEATH (stacatto whisper)
No question.
No answer.
Confusion, illusion, delusion, confusion delusion
illusion...(repeat complete chant, as chant continues all characters enter and join in chant, chanting continues at an almost whisper pp under Rabbi)

RABBI MORTEIRA

(rams horn is again blown, lights are down and the characters are carrying candles. The Rabbi is surrounded by black candles and is carrying a bucket of blood)

My children, it is with deep sorrow that I read this excommunication of one of our people. However, the Rabbinical court has found him guilty of the most foul blasphemy and heresies. We must remove him from our midst or he will contaminate and lead us all to destruction. (sprinkles blood on the lighted candles, speaks in a resonant and powerful voice)

I, Saul Levi Morteira, Rabbi and leader of this congregation, declare in the name of the most high Rabbinical Court that Baruch de Spinoza, son of the late Michael de Spinoza and brother of our beloved sister, Rebecca de Spinoza, is foul before the eyes of God and man and that he is a filthy abomination in our midst. From this day foreward, no Jew may help him in need or shelter him or be under the same roof with him. Neither shall he give him food or drink even if he shall die from lack of it; neither shall he speak to him or listen to his words. No one may approach or let himself be approached by him within a distance of twelve feet. May his soul shrivel in hell as does this blood shrivel in the fire. (sprinkles more blood on candles)

PEOPLE

If we lived in our own land we would stone him to death, but for our own protection we must comply with the civil authorities. Therefore we expell and excommunicate him as we would rid a boil of pus or our body of excrement. We pronounce him anathema and curse him with all the curses in Deuteronomy.

RABBI MORTEIRA

(reading from a document) In accordance with the decree of the Angels and the Judgement of the Saints, we banish, expel, execrate and curse Baruch de Spinoza with the consent of Holy God, and by agreement of this entire holy congregation; by virtue of the Sacred Books of the Law with the six hundred and thirteen precepts inscribed therein; with the ban with which Joshua banned Jericho; Cursed shall he be in the daytime, and cursed shall he be when he lieth down, and cursed when he climbth up. Cursed shall he be when he goeth out, and cursed when he cometh in.

May the Lord not forgive him his sins. May the Lord's anger and wrath rage against this man, and cast upon him all the the imprecations that are written Book of the Law. May the Lord wipe out his name from under the Heavens, and may the Lord destroy him and cast him out of all the tribes of Israel with all the maledictions that are written in the Book of the Law! But ye who cleave unto the Lord our God, may ye live forever in Union. (Blackout except for candles, action freezes.)

ACT IV scene 1

(Same room in Van den Enden, but it is now almost bare.)

( Baruch and Clara enter)

CLARA

Baruch. it is so dangerous for you to come to see me. Since you have been banished from Amsterdam by both the Christian and Jewish authorities anyone who sees you will denounce you.

BARUCH

You did not answer my letters. I had to see you.

CLARA

It's because I love you that I did not answer your letters. I could not bear to hurt you.

BARUCH

What do you mean? Don't hide the truth from me.

CLARA

(starts crying) I won't. I'm sorry.

BARUCH

Will you marry me?

CLARA

How can I possibly marry you? You are an outcast among both Christians and Jews. How could we live? Where could we live? Who would marry us?

BARUCH

I have found shelter among a group of Mennonites who accept me for what I am. I live in peace with them, even though I do not belong to their sect. Their minister has agreed to marry us, and I am earning a good living grinding lenses and writing

books. Since the Jews have rejected me, I have latinized my name to Benedictus and I am more readily acceptable to the Christians.

CLARA

Mennonites! They are wretchedly poor people. They are already being persecuted by the Reformed Church. What kind of living can you make among them? How could you possibly support me and the children we would have?

BARUCH

Believe me when I say I can support us. I'll never be rich but we can live well and together.

CLARA

Even if you could support us, how long will you stay out of prison? There have been several anonymous books published recently which have outraged the authorities. Everyone says you wrote them. Rabbi Morteira is constantly urging the

Christian authorities to arrest you. He will go to any extremes to convince them that you are as offensive to the Jews as you are to the Christians. It takes more than a

Christian name for the Christians to tolerate you. Everyone is now calling you the "the atheist Jew." Just as they have denounced my father. He has lost all his students, his practice, and is threatened with imprisonment.

BARUCH

Jan deWitt is my friend. He will protect us from unlawful persecution. But, how is your father?

CLARA

As unrealistic as ever; like you. He is sufficiently inspired by Cromwell's rule to ignore his religious fanaticism or something. Father's latest plan is to go to France, overthrow Louis XIV, and establish a rule of reason patterned on Cromwell's parliament. Imagine overthrowing the most powerful monarch in Europe. He will end on the gallows. And, I, as his daughter, will become equally suspect. You are too much like father. It scares me. Your friend Jan deWitt is more likely to be torn apart by the mob than be able to protect you.

BARUCH

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to endanger you. We would be safe outside of Amsterdam.

CLARA

(crying)You are all insane with your ideas. You won't stop and try to live a quiet and normal life. You'll always have to be writing and proving your thoughts to someone. I have to provide for myself. I can't live this way anymore. I can't be in constant dread of having those I love arrested, imprisoned or worse. I want a normal life with a husband I can depend upon, with security for myself and my children. I've promised to marry Dirck!

BARUCH

(shattered) Marry Dirck?

CLARA

Yes! I am going to marry him and live with his family in Hamburg. He gave me these pearls. (Baruch stares on in shock) Say something! I am only doing what is natural. I am not a saint. I've had enough of this unstable life. Do not condemn me. I never promised to marry you. To love someone is not a promise of marriage. Oh, I love you so much. (rushes to embrace Baruch)

BARUCH

(composing himself, smiling and soothing Clara) And I love you. You are the only one I will ever love. I will never marry. It was stupid and selfish of me to ask you to share my life. I do not know what I was thinking. Of course, you are doing the right thing. It is what I want for you. Dirck is a good man and he will be a good husband to you. (they embrace, Dirk's voice is heard from offstage)

DIRCK

Clara! (Baruch starts to exit)

CLARA

Wait, what will you do?

BARUCH

(exiting) I'll grind lenses. (enter Dirck, embraces and comforts Clara)

CHORUS

So now we come to an end. Have things changed that much in
your time, now? Or are things still done the same as they
were in Spinoza's time? We thinks, from our vantage point,
things are much the same (blackout)

VOICES

There lived a man of ethics
All he said offended
His writings were forbidden
He lived by grinding lenses

The grinding destroyed his body
The living became dying
The dying could be ended
Only by compromise and lying

He declined the living
And chose the grinding
It is better to die by seeing
Than to live by dying

His life made men see
His death was not empty
His ethics live in me
His awareness--part of infinity

John David Garcia, 1984, 2000 All rights Reserved.