||On Shakespeare's anti-Semitic sage Shylock and the bond story, originally intended as a comic subplot, which has proved to be the actual focus of interest down to the present day. Bassanio requests that his friend Antonio, a merchant, provide him with money for his expedition to Belmont. In order to raise the necessary sum, Antonio takes a loan from the Jewish usurer, Shylock. The latter, instead of demanding interest, suggests a "merry bond," according to which, if Antonio should default, Shylock would be entitled to a pound of flesh nearest to Antonio's heart. Not only does Antonio default but, when the day of payment comes, Shylock's daughter Jessica is found to have eloped with Lorenzo, a friend of Antonio, taking with her a large part of her father's money. Embittered by this double blow, "My ducats and my daughter!" Shylock demands the "penalty and forfeit" of the bond from Antonio. However, Portia, the Lady of Belmont, disguised as a lawyer, saves the situation, pointing out that the bond does not entitle Shylock to a single drop of blood. Antonio's life is saved and Shylock himself becomes liable to the confiscation of his whole estate through having sought the life of a citizen of Venice. This penalty is "mercifully" reduced to half, but only on condition that he embrace Christianity.
Dr. Heinrich Graetz (1817–1891), Jewish historian and Bible scholar. Graetz was born in Xions (Ksiaz), Poznan, the son of a butcher. From 1831 to 1836 he pursued rabbinic studies in Wolstein (now Wolsztyn) near Poznan. There Graetz taught himself French and Latin and avidly read general literature. This brought him to a spiritual crisis, but reading S. R. Hirsch's "Nineteen Letters on Judaism" in 1836 restored his faith. He accepted Hirsch's invitation to continue his studies in the latter's home and under his guidance. Eventually their relationship cooled; he left Oldenburg in 1840 and worked as a private tutor in Ostrow. In 1842 he obtained special permission to study at Breslau University. As no Jew could obtain a Ph.D. at Breslau, Graetz presented his thesis to the University of Jena. This work was later published under the title Gnostizismus und Judentum (1846). By then Graetz had come under the influence of Z. Frankel, and it was he who initiated a letter of congratulations to Frankel for leaving the second Rabbinical Conference (Frankfort, 1845) in protest, after the majority had decided against prayers in Hebrew. Graetz now became a contributor to Frankel's Zeitschrift fuer die religioesen Interessen des Judentums, in which, among others, he published his programmatic "Konstruktion der juedischen Geschichte" (1846).