Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem
Previous: Rome and Jerusalem Part 1
Rome and Jerusalem Continued
The Reform trick and the uncritical reaction-Luther and Mendelssohn-The rationalistic double-The key to the religion of the future-The three epochs in the development of the Jewish spirit-Restoration of the Jewish State.
The question you asked me, the answer to which constitutes the most difficult problem of Nineteenth Century Jewry, shows me that you have finally begun to interest yourself in Jewish affairs. You have, then, nothing against the attempt to raise the Jews once more to their former place in universal history. But you believe that this aspiration is merely a desire, and that at the present time, world Jewry consists only of a number of scattered and dispersed Jewish families, but is not a nation. The religious tie, which till now has bound the scattered members together and united them into a single entity, is now severed through the participation of Jews in the general cultural life. True, the reformers have tried to mend the situation, but they have succeeded only in widening the breach. And with barren orthodoxy and the uncritical reactionaries-those who still believe that the Polish fur cap is a law given orally to Moses on Sinai and handed down by the sages-it is useless to argue.
The inevitable result of this situation is, you think, indifference and severance from Judaism. Nobody can be held responsible for this precarious situation, for it is not the arbitrariness of man, but the force of circumstances that has dissolved the unity of orthodox Judaism. Which community, you ask, which synagogue, shall one who is still attached to his people, join? Again, you call out maliciously, shall we condemn our Jewish scholars for their attempt to give us, in lieu of the "externally shattered" hard shell of Rabbinism, the light of Science?
No, my dear friend, we will not hold anyone responsible for a crisis, though a dangerous one, but one which is, after all, wholesome and necessary. No human power could have avoided it, but its gravest symptoms are gradually disappearing and we have no fear of its repetition. Judaism, which in its first contact with modern civilization was threatened with dissolution-we say it without fear of being contradicted by history-has successfully withstood this last danger, perhaps the greatest that ever threatened its existence. Judaism, at present, expect$ no antagonism either from science or from life, but only from those who pose as its representatives without having the right to do so.
Far be it from me to minimize the untiring labor of the Jewish scholars to whom our present Jewish generation owes its education, social position, and mental and moral progress, and whom alone we have to thank for the fact that in the midst of an almost universal social disintegration the Jewish family still serves as a model of moral conduct. These scholars and teachers are the successors of the ancient rabbis, who were the support and stay of Judaism during the long two thousand year exile, and who, nevertheless, never formed themselves into a caste.
Yet even they, like our poets, are so much engrossed by the general current of life, that they hardly devote any time to thought about our national regeneration. And as with the Jewish scholars, so is it with the young generation; they need some external stimulus to rouse their dormant national feelings, so that they will proclaim themselves openly as Jewish patriots. The threatening danger to Judaism comes only from the religious reformers who, with their newly-invented ceremonies and empty eloquence nave sucked the marrow out of Judaism and left only its skeleton. It was not enough for them to aspire to spread and develop Jewish study on scientific principles, nor were they satisfied with a regulated, esthetic form of our ancient Jewish cult. Their religious reform was inopportunely borrowed from a foreign religious denomination, and has no basis or justification either in the conditions of the modern world or in the essential teachings of national Judaism. I do not deny the justification of the Christian Reformation at the time of Luther, nor of the Jewish reform movement at the time of Mendelssohn. The latter, however, was more of an esthetic than a religious or scientific reform. Those reformers keenly appreciated the historical basis of a religion and knew well that the old basis cannot be arbitrarily replaced by a new one. Our reformers, on the contrary, attempted to reform the basis itself. Their reforms have only a negative purpose-if they have any aim at all-to firmly establish unbelief in the national foundation of the Jewish religion. No wonder that these reforms only fostered indifference to Judaism and conversions to Christianity. Judaism, like Christianity, would have to disappear as a result of the general state of enlightenment and progress, if it were not more than a mere dogmatic religion, namely, a national cult. The Jewish reformers, however, those who are still present in some German communities, and maintain, to the best of their ability, the theatrical show of religious reform, know so little of the value of national Judaism, that they are at great pains to erase carefully from their creed and worship all traces of Jewish nationalism. They fancy that a recently manufactured prayer or hymn book, wherein a philosophical theism is put into rhyme and accompanied by music, is more elevating and soul-stirring than the fervent Hebrew prayers which express the pain and sorrow of a nation at the loss of its fatherland. They forget that these prayers, which not only created, but preserved for millenniums, the unity of Jewish worship, are even to-day the tie which binds into one people all the Jews scattered around the globe.
The efforts of our German Jewish religious reformers tended to the conversion of our national and humanitarian Judaism into a second Christianity cut after a rationalistic pattern, at a time when Christianity itself was already in a state of disintegration. Christianity, which came into existence on the graves of the ancient nations, had to withdraw from participation in national life. It. therefore must continue to suffer from internal dissensions arising from the constant clash of irreconcilable principles, until it is finally replaced among the regenerated nations by a new historical cult. To this coming cult, Judaism alone holds the key. This "religion of the future" of which the eighteenth century philosophers, as well as their recent followers, dreamed, will neither be an imitation of the ancient pagan Nature cult, nor a reflection of the neo-Christian or the neo- Judaism skeleton, the specter of which haunts the minds of our religious reformers. Each nation will have to create its own historical cult; each people must become like the Jewish people, a people of God.
Judaism is not threatened, like Christianity, with danger from the nationalistic and humanistic aspirations of our time, for in reality, these sentiments belong to the very essence of Judaism. It is a very prevalent error, most likely borrowed from Christianity, that an entire view of life can be compressed into a single dogma. I do not agree with Mendelssohn that Judaism has no dogmas. I claim that the divine teaching of Judaism was never, at any time, completed and finished. It has always kept on developing, its development being based upon the harmonizing of the Jewish genius with that of life and humanity. Development of the knowledge of God, through study and conscientious investigation, is not only not forbidden in Judaism, but is even considered a religious duty. This is the reason why Judaism never excluded philosophical thought or even condemned it, and also why it has never occurred to any good Jew to "reform" Judaism according to his philosophical conceptions. Hence there were no real sects in Judaism. Even recently, when there was no lack of orthodox and heterodox dogmatists in Jewry, there arose no sects; for the dogmatic basis of Judaism is so wide, that it allows free play to every mental speculation and creation. Differences of opinion in regard to metaphysical conceptions have always obtained among the Jews, but Judaism has never excluded anyone. The apostates severed themselves from the bond of Jewry. "And not even them has Judaism forsaken," added a learned rabbi, in whose presence I expressed the above quoted opinion.
In reality, Judaism as a nationality has a natural basis which cannot be set aside by mere conversion to another faith, as is the case in other religions. A Jew belongs to his race and consequently also to Judaism, in spite of the fact that he or his ancestors have become apostates. It may appear paradoxical, according to our modern religious opinions, but in life, at least, I have observed this view to be true. The converted Jew remains a Jew no matter how much he objects to it. At present, there is but little difference between the enlightened and the converted Jew. My friend, Armond L---, whose grandfather had already been converted, is more interested in Jewish affairs than many a circumcised Jew, and he has preserved his faith in Jewish nationality more faithfully than our enlightened rabbis.
The Jew was not commanded to believe, but to search after the knowledge of God. Belief is a matter of conscience, for which we are not accountable to anyone but ourselves. It is impossible to give it to another. It is .very easy, indeed, for false rationalism, just as for blind faith, to drawl forth its creed. But real religion, which grows out of the innermost life of the soul, develops with the individual. Humanity cannot be formulated completely and embraced in a set of articles of creed. On the wide, dogmatic basis of Judaism, many and various views of life were able to develop. But for creative Judaism itself, these various views of life were only passing phases, the result of internal and external experiences; and in spite of this multiplicity of forms of development, the original type never disappeared, but was constantly reproduced as the ripe fruit of the tree of life.
The noble Jewish spirits and the great thinkers of Israel understood this peculiar character of historical Judaism. They did see in every modification of the view of life a new religion, and never persuaded themselves that they could reform the historical basis of our religion. Saadia and Maimonides, Spinoza and Mendelssohn did not become apostates, in spite of their progressive spirit, though there were many fanatics who wanted to exclude them from Judaism, or, as in the case of Spinoza, had him excluded. Our modem rationalists would excommunicate from the Synagogue Jews who declare themselves Spinozists, if they only had the power.
Dissatisfied with reform and repulsed by the fanaticism of the orthodox and heterodox, you ask me, with which religious faction should one affiliate with his family in these days? I know only one religious fellowship, the old Synagogue, which is fortunately still in existence and will, I hope, exist until the national regeneration of world Jewry is accomplished. I myself, had I a family, would, in spite of my dogmatic heterodoxy, not only join an orthodox synagogue, but would also observe in my house all feast and fast days, so as to keep alive in my heart and in the heart of my children, the traditions of my people. If I had influence in the synagogue, I would endeavor to beautify the religious worship. Above all, I would see to it that scholarly Jewish teachers and preachers should assume their proper positions and be reverently respected. I would then turn my hand to other reforms, if you care to call them such, but of a different kind than those spiritless and empty reforms favored by our religious reformers. No ancient custom or usage should be changed, no Hebrew prayer should be shortened or read in German translation. And, finally, no Sabbath or Festival should be abolished or be postponed to the Christian day of rest. The Hazan and singers should not be mere soulless singing machines. The prayers and hymns should be read and sung by pious men and boys, who are not only versed in music, but also in religious matters. The house of prayer is not a theater and the cantor and singers, as well as the preacher, should be something more than mere comedians. What does not come from the heart can never affect the heart. Prayers, songs and sermons, which treat our holy national worship as an antiquated institution, cannot exalt the soul; they always arouse in me an unconquerable aversion. In a word, I would favor everything which would contribute to the elevation and education of the congregation, without, at the same time, undermining our ancient worship. And in my own family circle, also, I would carefully see that the traditions of our people are strictly observed.
If people were to follow the policy outlined above, peace would reign in Jewish communities, and the religious cravings of every Jew, no matter what view of life he holds, would be better satisfied than they are with the reforms that every intellectual bungler fashions after his own individual pattern. These unsystematic reforms only terminate in a meaningless nihilism, which brings in its train desolation of spirit and a continual estrangement from Judaism on the part of our young generation.
We really confer too much honor upon reform when we call it a free, intellectual movement, in the higher sense. True, in a negative sense, we may call rationalistic criticism a free tendency, for the negation of antiquated principles is the first step toward freedom. But positive freedom is an autonomous development, and when rationalistic reform denies the essence of Judaism, namely, its nationalism, it cannot become a creative factor, and consequently cannot be said to be free in the higher sense. Its services on behalf of negative criticism are very slight; and these, as you rightly remarked, are for the most part, due to the circumstances and conditions of a revolutionary age for which the reformers can hardly be held responsible.
Modern social life, the outcome of the revolution, is regenerating in its nature; it does not occupy itself solely with tearing down the old, but is mainly busy with creating new forms. At the basis of every creation, however, there is something of the old, for ex nihilo nihil, out of nothing, nothing can be created. The national-humanitarian essence of the Jewish historical religion is the germ out of which future social creations will spring forth. As long as Jews misconceive the essence of the spirit of modern times, which was originally their own spirit, they will only be dragged along involuntarily by the current of modern history, but will not participate in its making. In order to be influenced by modem life, there was no necessity for rationalistic reform. Such countries as the Rhine provinces and France clearly demonstrate this. In these countries the current of modern life is at its height, yet rationalistic, religious reform has hardly appeared there. It is in these countries, too, that religious indifference has been brought about without the help of a reform movement. Even orthodox Jewry itself, in modern Europe, is gradually being carried away by the current, as can be seen by the fact that the most important function of Rabbinism, namely, its jurisdiction, has disappeared, without the slightest protest on the part of orthodoxy. Reform has only gone a step further-to raise this groundless negation to the rank of a principle, or, as remarked above, has sanctioned unbelief. We could well afford not to begrudge the reformers their laurels, had they not persuaded themselves that they had created something positive. Imitating Christian reformers of an earlier age, they set up the Bible, in contradistinction to the Talmud, as the positive content of regenerated Judaism, and by this anachronism, which was merely an imitation of a foreign movement, they only made themselves ridiculous. It is, in reality, a narrower point of view than that of orthodox Judaism, to declare the living, oral tradition to be a "human fiction," and because it was written down at a later time, to discard it, while admitting the law of the Bible to be divine. This view is also unhistorical. Everything tends to show that until the Babylonian exile, or even still later, until the period of the Sopherim, [the writers who supposedly wrote down the law after the return from Babylonian exile, under the Persian rule] no distinction was made between the written and the oral laws, as is the case to-day. It is only after the time of the Sopherim that this distinction was made. Until then, tradition was neither exclusively written nor exclusively oral. How this separation was effected has not yet been clearly demonstrated by critical historians. But one thing is firmly established, namely, that the spirit which at the time of the restoration inspired the Sopherim and the sages of the Great Synagogue, was freer, holier, and more patriotic, than the spirit which inspired Moses and the Prophets. Every liberation from a politico-social slavery is at the same time a liberation of the spirit and serves as a means of fertilizing the national genius.
There are two epochs that mark the development of Jewish law: the first, after the liberation from Egypt; the second, after the return from Babylonia. The third is yet to come, with the redemption from the third exile. The significance of the second legislative epoch is more misunderstood by our reformers (who have no conception of the creative genius of the Jewish nation), than by our rabbis, who place the law-givers of this period even higher than Moses, for they say: "Ezra [leader of the Jews who returned from Babylonian exile] would have deserved that the Torah be given to Israel through him, had not Moses preceded him." In the form in which we possess it to-day, the Torah was handed down to us directly through the men of that epoch. These same men, living at the same time, utilizing the same traditions, and in the same spirit, collected both the written and the oral law, which they handed down to later generations. Nothing entitles the written law to a holier origin than the oral. On the contrary, the free development of the law by oral tradition, from the time of the return from the Babylonian exile, was always considered of greater importance than the mere clinging to the written law. The reason for this is quite evident. The national legislative genius would have been extinguished, had the sages not occupied themselves with the living development of the law. It was to this occupation that Judaism owed its national renaissance after the Babylonian exile, as well as its existence in the Diaspora. It was through this, that the great heroes who fought so bravely against the Greeks and Romans, rose in Israel. And, finally, it is to this oral development of the law that Judaism owes its existence during the two thousand years of exile; and to it the Jewish people will also owe its future national regeneration.
The rabbis were justified in their long struggle against writing down the oral law. Had they kept on teaching and developing the law orally in the schools, Judaism would never have been threatened with the loss of its national legislative genius. But they were compelled to reduce the law to writing, in order to avoid a still greater danger, namely, its being entirely forgotten, especially in the Diaspora. To-day, we have no reason to fear the latter danger. But we can escape the former, only if we set up the spirit of criticism against barren formalism and dissolving rationalism and revive in our hearts and souls the holy, patriotic spirit of our prophets and sages. We have to restudy our history, which has been grossly neglected by our rationalists, and rekindle in the hearts of our young generation the spirit which was the source of inspiration to our prophets and sages. Then, also, will we draw our inspiration from the deep well of Judaism; then will our sages and wise men regain the authority which they forfeited from the moment when, prompted by other motives than patriotism, they estranged themselves from Judaism and attempted to reform the Jewish law. We will then again become participators in the holy spirit, namely, the Jewish genius, which alone has the right to develop and form the Jewish law according to the needs of the people. And then, when the third exile will finally have come to an end, the restoration of the Jewish State will find us ready for it.
The Neo-Hebraic literature-Luzzato, Rappoport, Frankel, Krochmal, Sachs and Heine on Judah Halevi -Mendelssohn and the Modernists-Schorr-Sectarians without sects-Salvador-Fusionists and Freemasons-Hirsch-The pretended calling of the Jew in exile.
You are certainly in error, dear friend, when you believe that only our progressive Jews have acquired the mastery of modem culture and science and that orthodox Jews are still steeped in Egyptian darkness, a condition which is as detrimental to the renaissance of our nation as is modern indifference. Since I have devoted myself to the cause of my people, I have, partly through personal contact and partly through their writings, come to know many orthodox Jews of the old as well as of the younger generation and especially of the latter, who do not fall behind the enlightened Jews, in scientific and literary education. These scholars have, at the same time, a more thorough understanding and conception of the past as well as of the future, than those enlightened minds who lack the philosophic and historical sense.
Orthodox Jewry everywhere, in England, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Bohemia, has its literary and scientific representatives who are as worthy as those of enlightened Jewry. Newspapers, magazines and even philosophical books, permeated with the same spirit of true humanitarianism as the nation to which they belong, are published by our orthodox brethren in the sacred tongue of their fathers. Hebrew literature, thanks to the works of Luzzato, Rappoport, Frankel and Krochmal, was reawakened to new life, and already a number of educated modern German rabbis conduct their correspondence in Hebrew. Even Holdheim himself did not disdain to compose his swan song in Hebrew; and Schorr, a more violent opponent of orthodoxy than Holdheim publishes his periodical Hachalutz in Hebrew. How great must the influence exerted by National Judaism be, when even its opponents are forced to employ its own medium in order to gain a hearing.
Read the work of Dr. Sachs, The Religious Poetry of the Spanish Jews. This book, written in the finest style, will convince you that educated orthodox Jews exert a far more wholesome influence on Judaism than the reformers. The last only reflect, on the ruins of a fossilized orthodoxy, a cold, borrowed light of a by-gone epoch, without possessing either the light or the warmth of new life themselves. You perhaps know, from reading Heine's Romancero, the tragic end of this great patriot and sacred singer, Judah Halevi who, according to the legend, met his death at the ruins of the Temple at Jerusalem, whither he was driven by his irresistible longing to visit the land of his fathers. You will certainly be interested to learn a few things about the life and character of this pious bard who enriched our prayer book with his beautiful and noble poems. "The one," says Dr. Sachs, "who cannot theoretically conceive the solution of the problem, how a dispersed people may possess a nationality and a homeless nation a fatherland, will find in the personality of this great singer and in his poetry, a practical solution to that problem." I must here remark that the Judaeo-Spanish cultural epoch succeeded in solving one more grave problem, namely, how it is possible to be a good, patriotic, national Jew, in the full sense of the word, and at the same time participate in the cultural and political life of the land to such a degree that the land may become a second fatherland. "The longing for the hour of redemption," continues Sachs, "is the dominant note in the Jewish poetry of the Spanish period. With many, it was the oppressive conditions of existence that called forth that irrepressible longing. But with Halevi, this longing is a pure, loving desire, which possesses, on the one hand, the simplicity and naivete of childhood and; on the other, the glow of a mighty passion. The energy and vividness with which he expresses his confidence in the redemption of his people is only the more gripping, because of the fact that in his poetry there is no trace of the gloomy present, and his hope of the future does not appear to be the result of a daring escape from the dark environment which surrounds 'him, into the shining regions of phantasy. He is confident of his cause and the joy of his belief intoxicates and inspires him."
This confidence and joy of belief remind me vividly of my pious grandfather. Whenever they spoke to him of plans for the future, he always objected to making such plans, remarking that we Jews, being in exile, have no right to plan for the future, as- the Messiah may suddenly arrive. My grandfather was neither a poet nor a prophet; he was only a plain business man, who in the daytime attended to his routine work, that he might support his family and in the night devoted himself to religious and scholarly studies. After the dispersion, study became, as you can find again in Sachs, an essential and inseparable part of the national cult. "The house of study," he says, "became the only central point of an independent, free life, and the teachers were the bearers of all ideals which were typical and characteristic of national Judaism." The Synagogue was rather a schoolhouse than a house of prayer. Even to the present day, it is still designed, by the German Jews, as "Schul." The typical national cult, finding its expression in the study and in the minute observance of thousands of precepts with which Judaism fenced itself around in order to preserve its integrity in dispersion, is misconceived by our enlightened Jews. These legal and religious precepts and commandments, which permeate the whole life of the Jew, are condemned and mocked at by blockheads, who have not the least conception of the patriotic significance of these precepts and who consider themselves progressive only because they have turned their back on the traditions of their people. It is the same tendency which came to the front immediately after the appearance of Mendelssohn and which caused Mendelssohn himself pain and aggravation. During the life of Mendelssohn, there emerged those "Modern Jews" who measure the degree of enlightenment and education one possesses by the amount of his disregard for Jewish customs, and who finally graduated into State service by presenting a conversion certificate as their diploma. They relate an anecdote which originated during that first epoch of Jewish enlightenment and which is characteristic of that period. A Jew came to Mendelssohn and boasted of his son's philosophical ability. When the great Berlin philosopher asked the father wherein the philosophical acumen of his son consisted, the happy man replied, "Why my son has not put on his tephillin [phylacteries] for months."
You know that the use of phylacteries on the forehead and the hand originates in a Mosaic command. It is prescribed in the Pentateuch, that in order to remember the divine teaching, we should inscribe the words of God's law on the doorposts of our houses, and symbolize that teaching by wearing fringes on our garments, binding the phylacteries ''as a sign upon the arm and as frontlets between the eyes." We find pictures of garments with such fringes on the old Egyptian monuments, which proves that this custom is a very ancient one. But even assuming with Schorr that the custom of putting on phylacteries is not as old as that of wearing fringes on the garments, the results of Schorr's investigation were not known to that "enlightened" son and his happy father; just as they were unknown to the Berlin philosopher, who conscientiously put on his tephillin every day and observed all the Jewish customs. The enlightened epikoros could by no means understand Mendelssohn's conscientious attachment to traditional Judaism. His relation to orthodox Judaism was not, as Mendelssohn persuaded himself, a logical result of his rationalism, but was a natural expression of his true Jewish spirit. His fine sense of religiosity told him, that when a man turns his back on tradition, he really severs himself from Judaism itself and from its national essence. It is one thing to restore Judaism, through unbiased historical criticism, to its origins; it is quite another to discard it and belittle it through indifference and imitation. You, who declare the teachings and ordinances of our sages to be foolish inventions, pray to tell us what would have become of Judaism and the Jews if they had not, through the institutions of the Talmudic sages, thrown a protecting fence around their religion, so as to safeguard it for the coming days? Would they have continued to exist for eighteen hundred years and have resisted the influence of Christian and Mohammedan civilization? Would they not long ago have disappeared as a nation from the face of the earth, had they not, after they were driven out of their own land, created out of the confines of their own life, a sacred territory for their existence and a soil on which they could thrive?
To those who lack the historical sense, the existence of one nation more or less is of little importance for the historical development of humanity. The great organic creation of Jewish literature which, for the last three thousand years, was a gradual growth out of the national essence of Judaism, seems to the spiritual dwarfs, the rationalist, to be no more than an unnecessary growth which, even in our age of enlightenment, has not been sufficiently eradicated. These pygmies, who are living in an age of giants, do not realize that their very existence is an anachronism. As a precursor of the French Revolution, in the century of The Critique of Pure Reason the existence of rationalism was justified. But to-day, when the shackles of dogmatism have long been shaken off, we feel more the need of creating new values, and for this purpose utilize the creations of all ages, than the continuation of mere negative criticism which has, at present, but little value for us. The desire to create new values is felt even by those who are unable to discern the creative ability in the expressions of the Jewish spirit, and are thus unable to utilize the previous creations of Judaism as a basis. But in their ignorance and mental helplessness, they turned, in their desire for creation, to external, artificial means, which do not spring from the deep well of our people's life.
In Jewry, as well as in the entire modern world, there are to be discovered at present, two main tendencies which, though diametrically opposed to each other, still originate from the same course, namely, the need of objective religious norms and the inability to create them. One tendency, as a result of the above-mentioned cause, expresses itself on the part of some people in turning back to the old uncritical belief which, however, with them, lost its naive and true character. In their despair, which arose as a result of the dominant nihilism, they insist on a conscious contradiction to all reason. This desperate reaction, which defies the results of criticism and spiritual revolution, is known in the Christian world as Supernaturalism. In the Jewish world, it is represented by Hirsch, of Frankfort AIM, and other less gifted spirits, as well as by a host of ignoramuses and hypocrites, whose association with it really lessens its dignity. As an antidote against this reaction, the negative reform aspirations may possess some justification, even though, from the point of view of reason, they did not succeed in creating any stable solid life norms. The characteristic trait of the negative spiritual tendency, which labored in vain to create something of a general Jewish value, is its extreme individualism and incoherence. The modern religious reformers are sectarians without sects. Each of our Jewish Protestants has his own code. Out of this chaos of opinions there will undoubtedly in time develop a new Jewish life. But this new life, the beginnings of which are already noticeable in the activities of the younger generation of Jewish scholars, will bring entirely different results from those hitherto expected in the liberal circles of German Jewry.
French Jewry, also, within which there is not as yet, and perhaps there never will be, any cleavage on the lines of reform and orthodoxy, is not free from the traces of a tendency which strives after a fusion of all historical cults into one, and which endeavors to reach its aim by removing from the various religions their historical and characteristic traits, retaining only their common elements. You have certainly heard of Joseph Salvador, the author of the work entitled History of the Mosaic Institutions and of the Hebrew People. This same author recently published a work entitled Paris, Rome and Jerusalem in which he clearly shows that even among our enlightened brethren, there are dreamers who wish for a rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. But he attaches to this rebuilding conditions that are acceptable neither to pious nor to progressive Christians and Jews. If I understand the author correctly, he expects his New Jerusalem to become the world capital of the fusionists. Salvador, furthermore, seems to cherish the curious idea that the Jews ought first to turn Christians, so that they may be the better able to convert the Christians afterward to Judaism. This work is, in reality, not as new as Salvador thinks; it began eighteen hundred years ago. It seems, however, that the Judaism of which Salvador is thinking is as new as his Christianity.
More reasonable are the attempts of those fusionists who, like my friend Hirsch, of Luxemburg, are utilizing freemasonry as a means to amalgamate all the historical cults into one. The Luxemburg Rabbi, the antipode of his namesake, the Frankfort Rabbi Hirsch, developed the idea of fusion so thoroughly in the excellent lectures which he delivered at the Luxemburg Lodge, and later published under the title Humanity as a Religion, that, according to him, the matter may be considered closed, All that remains for the rabbis to do is to close up their reform temples and send the school children to the Masonic temples. In truth, the logical consequences of reform have long since led those who took the sermons of the reform rabbis seriously, toward making such a step; as you, being a resident of Frankfort, well know. In vain did they afterward ornament their fusionist sermons with Talmudic quotations. It was too late and they had to be satisfied to preach to empty pews.
Jewish rationalists, who have as little reason to remain within the fold of Judaism as have Christian rationalists for clinging to Christianity are, like their Christian friends, very energetic in discovering new grounds for the existence of a religion which, according to them, has no longer any reason to exist. According to them, the dispersion of the Jews was merely a preliminary step to their entering upon their great mission. What great things are the Jews in exile to accomplish in their opinion? First of all, they are to represent "pure" theism, in contradistinction to Christianity. In the next place, tolerant Judaism is to teach intolerant Christianity the principles of humanitarianism. Furthermore, it is the function of exilic Judaism to take care that morality and life, which in the Christian world are severed from each other, should become one. And lastly, the Jews must also act as industrial and commercial promoters-be the leaven of such activities among the civilized nations in whose midst they live. I have even heard it remarked quite seriously, that the Indo-Germanic race must improve its quality by mingling with the Jewish race!
But, mark you, from all these real or imaginary benefits which the Jews in dispersion confer upon the world, none will be diminished even after the restoration of the Jewish State. For just as at the time of the return from the Babylonian exile not all the Jews settled in Palestine, but the majority remained in the lands of exile, where there had been Jewish settlements since the dispersion of Israel and Judah, so need we not look forward to a larger concentration of Jews at the future restoration. Besides, it seems to me that those benefits which the Jews in exile confer upon the world are exaggerated, "for the sake of the cause." I consider it an anachronism to assign to the Jews those missions which they certainly performed in antiquity, and to some extent also in medieval times, but which, at present, no longer belong peculiarly to them. As to affecting the unity of life and theory, it is only possible with a nation which is politically organized; such a nation alone is able to realize it practically by embodying it in its institutions.
Again, what section of world. Jewry is to teach the Christians tolerance and humanity? You will surely say the enlightened Jews. But is not the enlightened Christian entitled to repeat to the enlightened Jew the words which Lessing, in his Nathan the Wise) puts into the mouth of the liberal Christian in his answer to the liberal Jew: "What makes me a Christian in your eyes, makes you a Jew in mine."
Or, on the other hand, should the enlightened Jew say to the orthodox Christian, "Your beliefs are mere superstitions, your religion only fanaticism," may the enlightened Christian not turn to the orthodox Jew and make similar remarks in defense of his own religion? Our cultured Jews who accuse Christians of possessing a persecution mania, reason as fallaciously as does Bethmann Hollweg when he charges the Jews with the same trait. History can neither be explained nor changed in its course by such explanations.
From the viewpoint of enlightenment, I see as little reason for the continuation of the existence of Judaism as for Christianity. It is better for the Jew who does not believe in the national regeneration of his people, to labor, like the enlightened Christian, for the dissolution of his religion. I understand how one can hold such an opinion. But what I do not understand is, how it is possible to believe simultaneously in "enlightenment" and in a Jewish Mission in exile; in other words, in the ultimate dissolution and in the continued existence of Judaism at the same time.
A dilemma-The sacred history of mankind-Our allies -The unity of the human genus-Races and folk types-The organism of mankind.
You confronted me with the dilemma, that we must either agree with the Luxemburg Hirsch, that the goal and essence of Judaism is humanitarianism, in which case it is not national regeneration, but the realization of humanitarian ideals which is the aim worth striving for; and Judaism, like every religious or political society; must ultimately become absorbed and disappear in the larger fellowship of humanity; or we must agree with the Frankfort Hirsch, who sees in Judaism the only salvation; in which case, we disagree with the modern humanitarian aspirations and, like orthodox Christianity, we need make little appeal to public opinion of the century; for public opinion will receive such an appeal with the same feeling that it would receive a Chinese Proclamation or a Papal Bull.
I believe, dear friend that the opinions I have heretofore expressed in my correspondence with you have little in common with either horn of the dilemma. They do not agree with the conceptions of either extreme faction, but belong to a different order of ideas; I believe that not only does the national essence of Judaism not exclude civilization and humanitarianism, but that the latter really follow from it, as necessarily as the result follows from the cause. If, in spite of this, I emphasize the national side of Judaism, which is the root, rather than the humanitarian aspect, which is the bloom and flower, it is because in our time people are prone to decorate themselves with the flowers of culture rather than cultivate them again in the soil on which they grew. It is out of Judaism that our humanitarian view of life sprapg. There is not a phase in Christian morality, nor in the scholastic philosophy of the Middle There nor in modern philanthropy, and, if we add the latest manifestation of Judaism, Spinozism, not even in modern philosophy, which does not have its roots in Judaism. Until the French Revolution, the Jewish people was the only people in the world which had, simultaneously, a national as well as a humanitarian religion. It is through Judaism that the history of humanity became a sacred history. I mean by that, that process of unified organic development which has its origin in the love of the family and which will not be completed until the whole of humanity becomes one family, the members of which will be united by the holy spirit, the creative genius of history, as strongly as the organs of a body are united by the creative natural forces. As long as no other people possessed such a national, humanitarian cult, the Jews alone were the people of God. Since the French Revolution, the French, as well as the other peoples which followed them, have become our noble rivals and faithful allies.
With the final victory of these nations over medieval reaction, the humanitarian aspirations, with which I am greatly in sympathy, so long as they do not express them" selves merely in hypocritical, flowery words, will be realized and bear fruit. Anti-national Humanitarianism is just as unfruitful as the anti-humanitarian Nationalism of medieval reaction. In theoretical anti-national humanitarianism I can only see, mildly speaking, an idealistic dream, but not a semblance of reality. We become so saturated with spiritualistic love and humanistic chloroform that we ultimately become entirely unconscious of the pain and misery that the antagonism which still exists between the various members of the great human family causes in real life. This antagonism will not be eradicated by enlightened sermons, but only by a process of historical development based on laws as unchangeable as the laws of Nature. Just as Nature does not produce flowers and fruits of a general character, nor general plants and animals, but produces particular plant and animal types, so does the creative power in history produce only folk types. In mankind, the plan of the plant and animal kingdoms finds its perfection; but humanity, as a separate life sphere, as the sphere of social life, is still in the process of development. We find in the history of social life a primal differentiation of folk-types which at first; plantlike, existed side by side with each other; then, animallike, fought each other and destroyed or absorbed one another, but which will finally, in order to become absolutely free, live not only in friendly fashion with one another, but live each for the other preserving, at the same time, their particular type identity.
The laws of universal history, I mean the history of the universe, namely, those of the cosmic, organic and social life, are as yet little known. We have particular sciences, but not a science of the universe; we still do not know the unity of all life. One thing, however, is certain, that a fusion of cults, an ideal to which so many aspire, and which was realized, at least in part, for thousands of years by Catholic Rome, will as little establish a lasting peace in human society as the philanthropic but unscientific belief in the absolute equality of men. In their attempt to base the granting of equal rights to all men on the primitive uniformity of all races and types, the humanitarians confound the organization of social life on the basis of solidarity, which is the result of a long and painful process of historical development, with a readymade, inorganic equality and uniformity, which becomes rarer and rarer the farther back we go in history. The reconciliation of races follows its own natural laws, which we can neither arbitrarily create nor change. As to the fusion of cults, it is really a past stage in the development of social life. It was the watchword of that religion which, owes its existence to the death of the nations of antiquity, i.e., Christianity. To-day the real problem is how free the various oppressed races and folk-types and allow them to develop in their own way. The dangerous possibility that the various nationalities will separate themselves entirely from each other or ignore each other is to be feared as little as the danger that they will fight among themselves and enslave one another.
The present-day national movement not only does not exclude humanitarianism, but strongly asserts it; for this movement is a wholesome reaction, not against humanism, but against the things that would encroach upon it and cause its degeneration, against the leveling tendencies of modern industry and civilization which threaten to deaden every original organic life-force, by introducing a uniform inorganic mechanism. As long as these tendencies were directed against the antiquated institutions of a long-passed historical period, their existence was justified. Nor can this nationalistic reaction object to them, insofar as they endeavor to establish closer relations between the various nations of the world. But, fortunately, people have gone so far in life, as well as in science, as to deny the typical and the creative; and as a result the vapor of idealism, on the one hand, and the dust of atomism on the other, rest like mildew on the red corn, and stifle the germinating life in the bud. It is against these encroachments on the most sacred principles of creative life that the national tendencies of our time react, and it is against these destructive forces that I appeal to the original national power of Judaism.
Like the general universal cosmic life which finds its termination in it, and the individual microcosmic life in which all the buds and fruits of the spirit finally ripen. Humanity is a living organism, of which races and peoples are the members. In every organism changes are continually going on. Some, quite prominent in the embryonic stage, disappear in the later development. There are organs, on the other hand, hardly noticeable in the earlier existence of the organism, which become important only when the organism reaches the end of its development.
To the latter class of members of organic humanity (which class is really the creative one) belongs the Jewish people. This people was hardly noticeable in the world, where it was greatly oppressed by its powerful, conquering neighbors. Twice it came near being destroyed; namely, in the Egyptian and Babylonian captivities; and twice it rose to new spiritual life and fought long and successfully against the mightiest as well as the most civilized peoples of antiquity-the Greeks and the Romans. Finally, in the last struggle of the ancient world, it was this people which fertilized the genius of humanity with its own spirit, so as to rejuvenate itself, along with the regeneration of humanity" To-day, when the process of rejuvenation of the historical peoples is ended and each nation has its special function in the organism of humanity, we are for the first time beginning to conceive the England, with its industrial organization, represents the nerve-force of humanity which directs and regulates the alimentary system of mankind; France, that of general motion, namely, the social; Germany discharges the function of thinking; and America represents the general regenerating power by means of which all elements if the historical peoples will be assimilated into one. We observe that every modem people, every part of modern society, displays in its activity as an organ of humanity a special calling, then he must also determine the importance and function of the only ancient people which still exists to-day, as strong and vigorous as it was in days of old, namely, the people of Israel.
In the organism of humanity there are no two peoples which attract and repel each other more than the Germans and the Jews; just as there are no two mental attitudes which are simultaneously akin to each other and still diametrically opposed, as the scientific-philosophical and the religious-moral. Religion, in its higher form, is r the spiritual tie which binds the creature to the Creator, the infinite thread, the end of which returns to its source, the bridge which leads from one creation to the other, from life to death, and from death back to life. It not only brings man to know the absolute more intimately, but it inspires and sanctifies his whole life with the divine spirit. In religion, as in love, especially in a religion like Judaism, which is neither one-sidedly materialistic nor one-sidedly spiritualistic, body and spirit merge into one I; another. The greatest and most dangerous enemy of the Jewish religion in antiquity was the religion of gross sensualist, the material love of the Semites, namely, Baal worship" In medieval ages, the enemy was represented by the embodiment of spiritualistic love-Christianity. The Jewish people which, thanks to its prophets of antiquity and rabbis of the Middle Ages, kept its religion from both extremes of degeneration, was, and is still today that organ of humanity which expresses the Jiving, native force in universal history, namely, the organ of unifying and sanctifying love. This organ is akin to the organ of thought, but is, at the same time, opposed to it both draw their force from the inexhaustible well of life. But, while the religious genius individualizes the infinite, philosophic, scientific thought abstracts from life all its individual, subjective forms and generalizes it. Objective philosophy and science have no direct connection with life; religious teaching is intimately united with it, for either religion is identical with the national, social and moral life, or it is mere hypocrisy.
I have wandered from my trend of thought. I merely wanted to explain to you why I do not ally myself with the humanitarian aspirations which endeavor to-obliterate all differentiation in the organism of humanity and in the name of such catch words as "Liberty" and "Progress," build altars to arbitrariness and ignorance, on which our light-minded youth offers its best energies and sacrifices.
Another dilemma-Experimental sciences-Philosophy and Religion-Progress and periodic circulation-A genetic comparison of the organic, cosmic life with the social-Moral necessity or holiness-Epochs of social evolution: the paleontological times of the formation of the embryo, birth period and birth travail, age of maturity.
Just as you confronted me on a former occasion with the dilemma: "Humanitarianism or Nationalism," and reproached me for sympathizing with national aspirations, in spite of the fact that they contradict the humanitarian tendencies of our time, so do you now propound another dilemma: "Freedom or Necessity. You think it pure fatalism to consider humanity as a higher organism, and to observe in the history of nations the operation of the same eternal laws which govern the history of the earth and Nature. You think that in cosmic and organic life, moral laws do not obtain; here only natural forces operate, which are predetermined, and which can be calculated beforehand. But it is different with social life. Even this life is regulated by natural conditions, but it is the goal of man, who is a free being, to overcome the fatalism of Nature with his free-will actions, which are the basis of morality and progress in the higher sense.
I am pleased to see that you are well versed in the higher philosophical conceptions of German thought. I agree with you in your view of human life and believe, also, that moral freedom is the destiny of man as well as of humanity. But to me this goal of humanity is identical with the recognition of God, which Judaism proclaimed at the very beginning of its history, and to the spread and development of which it has always contributed, and which, since Spinoza, it has made accessible to all historical nations. This knowledge of God, which in its first manifestations as the spirit of historical humanity, had not been fully conceived, but only perceived through unanalyzed sense impressions and intuitive experience, and which heretofore had appeared only as wisdom and light, must henceforth, on the basis of the already acquired wisdom and light, progress and become an exact science, which draws its knowledge not only from internal and external experience, but also examines it critically.
In order to forestall your criticism of my Jewish view of the world through arguments based upon speculative philosophy, I have no other choice but to prove to you that philosophic speculation is not the last word in mental development, as little as is industrial speculation and dominance of Capital the goal of material development. Exact science, which recognizes only observation, experience, work and research, as the only legitimate means of acquiring mental and material wealth, and considers speculation to be only a combination of mental trickery and unfounded hypothesis must, in my case, become the supreme authority to which I appeal. I will show you, that although exact science which recognizes only eternal natural laws, seems to be in apparent contradiction to philosophy, which raises spirit above nature, and to religion, which sanctifies both spirit and nature insofar as it subordinates them both to a single being, yet it finally changes into that perfect knowledge., which conceives the laws of nature and history as one and the same, and where all contradiction disappears. But I must first make you understand that even this apparent contradiction between science and philosophy and religion had its justification, and was a necessary stage in the history of human development.
Even to-day, science, philosophy and religion are not reconciled to one another. On the contrary, to-day, when we are on the eve of a new historical era, just as in the corresponding critical transition period from antiquity to the Middle Ages, the seemingly irreconcilable antagonism between religion, philosophy and experimental science, is more marked than it was in the heyday of the ancient or medieval world, which hardly knew such an antagonism. The basis of this theoretical contradiction, just as the practical antagonism in social life, lies in the unequal development of the various classes of humanity, in the relations between the dominant and subservient races and classes, in the division of material and intellectual labor, and in the acquisitions resulting from this division. This inequality of development, advancing with the progress of civilization, was the rock upon which ancient society foundered. In the material and mental spheres, and especially in the latter, these contrasts, which ruined the ancient world, are more sharply defined to-day than they were at the close of the age of antiquity, when the division of labor was not as minutely developed as it is in our present transition period. The result is that today, as in the ancient world, not only is religion in conflict with philosophy, but philosophy is also antagonistic to exact 'science. And yet, as you will yourself admit, truth in experimental science cannot be different from truth in philosophy or in religion. But as long as the reconciliation between these various spheres of knowledge is not accomplished, it will be a difficult matter for me to prove to you, in a few lines, or even to make it plausible to you, that science, philosophy and religion do not mutually exclude each other; that at the worst, they only ignore each other; and that finally, they will support each other and with united forces help the progress of mankind..
Let us, then, first make clear to ourselves the oft-misunderstood concepts of "Freedom" and "Progress," which are so often carelessly used.
The belief in a rational, and therefore cognizable, divine Law, as revealed to humanity in the teaching and life of Judaism, this belief in a divine Providence, in a place of creation, is not a blind, fatalistic belief in destiny, although it excludes arbitrary and lawless freedom. I do not assert, with the materialists, that the organic and spiritual world is subjected, like the inorganic world, to the same laws as an external mechanism. On the contrary, I affirm that cosmic mechanical phenomena have the same plan, the same purposefulness, and spring out of the same sacred life as organic and spiritual phenomena. Nature and humanity are subordinated to the same divine law. The difference is, that Nature follows this law blindly, while man, when perfectly developed, obeys it consciously and voluntarily. Another important difference, the non-observance of which gives rise to a misunderstanding of the concepts of "freedom'; and "Progress," lies in this, that while the natural sphere of life of the organic and cosmic world, which is the basis of our social, human sphere of life, has already accomplished its own development, humanity is still in the midst of its life-creating process. As long as human society is still occupied in the production of its own organism, man, in his creative capacity, considers himself as an irresponsible and unfettered being, although he, like Nature, is subordinated, in his very creation, to the eternal divine laws. The false conception of human freedom as arbitrariness arises mainly from the fact that we do not as yet know either the laws regulating the development of social life or its goal; and we cannot know this law from experience so long as we are still in the midst of the stream of development.
But though science is still silent concerning the law governing the development of social life, the religious genius discovered it long ago. We Jews have always, from the beginning of our history, cherished the faith in a future Messianic epoch. This belief is symbolically expressed, in. our historical religion, by the Sabbath festival. The celebration of the Sabbath is the embodiment of the great idea which has always animated us, namely, that the future will bring about the realization of the historical Sabbath, just as the past gave us the natural Sabbath. In other words, that History, like Nature, will finally have her epoch of harmonious perfection. The Biblical story of the Creation is told only for the sake of the Sabbath ideal. It tells us, in symbolic language, that when the creation of the world of Nature was completed, with the calling into life of the highest organic being of the earth-Man-and the Creator celebrated his natural Sabbath, there at once began the work -days of History. Then, also, began the history of creation of the social world, which will celebrate its Sabbath after the completion of its world-historical labor, by introducing the Messianic epoch. Here, in this conception, you can see the high moral value of the Mosaic genesis history, in which supernaturalists have discovered a system of science. As you see, my esteemed friend, the very biblical Sabbath-law in itself inspires us with a feeling of certainty that the uniform, eternal, divine law governs alike both the world of Nature and the world of History. It is only to those people who cannot conceive the manifestation of the religious genius of the Jews that the historical development of humanity appears as lawless, indeterminate, infinite "Progress" when contrasted with the life of Nature which, though it has not reached the end of its development, is yet governed by strict laws which are calculable. You see, however, that this apparent difference between the laws of Nature and those of history, is only the result of a subjective conception which cannot rise to an understanding of the great universal, divine laws. We can as little think of the freedom of the created being of History as mere lawless arbitrariness, as we can speak of the historical progress as infinite.
We call every being free, in the natural sense, which can develop its own destiny, its inner calling, according to its natural inclinations, without any external restraint. That being is free, in the moral sense, which follows its calling with consciousness and will, whose will coincides with the divine law will. Every other form of will is only arbitrariness, which does not partake of the divine essence of willing, but owes its existence to passions and natural instincts. This ability to follow the desires and passions which lead astray from the path of reason and morality, man possesses only when his inner essence is not sufficiently developed. Man can certainly not be proud of this negative ability, which is no more than a disease, a disease indicating a lack of development. This ability does not raise him above the animal, but on the contrary puts him below it; for animal life, as well as plant life, is already developed and perfected.
"Man," says Goethe, "errs as long as he strives." But there is no striving without a purpose. The goal to which humanity, in the course of its historical development, strives is the recognition of the laws which govern all the three life-spheres, the social, organic and cosmic.
The law of the universe is the law of generation and development, or to use a better-known expression, "the law of progress." The complete and perfect operation of this law, in all. the three life-spheres, is not yet known. In order to recognize fully the workings of this law, we still miss a part of its field of operation-the last phase of development of the social life. The law of history, therefore, cannot as yet become scientifically known. The ways of Providence are still but dimly outlined for us. But, thanks to the religious genius of the Jews and its divine Revelation, which continually manifested itself in various forms: first in prophetic utterances, then in mysticism, and finally in philosophic speculation-the human spirit was constantly brought nearer to the recognition of this law. It is, however, still necessary that the law of history should be investigated and its operations defined by the experimental sciences.
What modern science knows about the law of generation and development operating in the three life-spheres, the cosmic, organic and social, I have already discussed elsewhere. But I have come to the conclusion, through my scientific and historical studies, that there is only one law governing all movement and life phenomena of all the spheres of the universe, the organisms of the earth and the nations of history. There is as little infinite, indeterminate progress in the social human world, as there is in the plant and animal world, at the end of which stands the natural, undeveloped man. Here, as in the cosmic life-sphere, the field of operation of which is infinite space, everything is generated, develops, accomplishes its aim in life, and then decays and dissolves in order to arise again to a new life entity in the eternal, infinite, unified and divine cycle of universal life. What we call "progress" is no more than the development of a being from the germ stage to the mature life stage. At this stage each being reaches its destination.
Just as beings vary, just as the difference between the single atom and the entire world-sphere, between the lowest organic infusorium and the highest earthly being Man-is wide and great, so various and wide is the difference between their ages of life maturity and consequently between their goals and destinations. But nothing living remains unchanged in time and space, nothing is eternal, everything comes into existence, and ultimately disappears after it has carried out its mission in order to arise again to a new form of like the great planetary bodies originated and developed in a space and time of such magnitude that we have no standard of comparison wherewith to measure it. Organic life, which began to develop on these bodies after they had already cooled off and their surface had become rigid, consumed the entire paleontological age in its development and perfection. Finally, man, who began his spiritual, humane and social development at the ripe age of the organic life sphere, will reach his destination only after humanity will have completed its historical development which, though it has not reached its end as yet, is still not unlimited and infinite.
Whatever arises in time requires, of course, a certain time for its development, but it must reach its completion and perfection in a finite and determinate time. We recognize only one eternal, timeless and spaceless, absolute being. We infer its existence through the one absolute law governing natural and historical life, the revelation of which only Judaism possessed. Out of the unified recognition of this law a unified life will necessarily follow; for knowledge and action, or theory and life, are inseparable. Dualism, struggle, and even victory of virtue exist only during the historical development of the recognition of God, but not after its perfection. During this development, we are only able to strive after morality; but after the recognition of God, or his law is perfected within us, we must live morally. This moral necessity is holiness. Judaism, which from the beginning of its history revealed the unity and sacredness of the divine law in Nature and history, has, therefore, from the beginning, put forth the demand that holiness should become an ideal of life, and its prophets have always heralded the coming of the epoch when men will arrive at the full knowledge of God.
We must not represent either the sacred essence of God, or even our own God-like essence, in terms of time and space. The perfect recognition is, in reality, the overcoming of spatiality and temporality, namely, the historical development of the divine law in the cosmic, organic and social life spheres. We display our imperfect development and immature knowledge when we represent eternity as time continuance. Such representations prove only that our relation to holiness is not as yet perfect. The revelations of the holy spirit point to no other future but to the mature age of the social world. This age will begin, according to our historical religion, with the Messianic era. This is the era in which the Jewish nation and all the other historical nations will arise again to a new life, the time of the "resurrection of the dead," of "the coming of the Lord," of the "New Jerusalem," and of all the other symbolic expressions, the meaning of which is no longer misunderstood.
The Messianic era is the present age, which began to germinate with the teachings of Spinoza, and finally came into historical existence with the great French Revolution. With the French Revolution, there began the regeneration of those nations which had acquired their national historical religion only through the influence of Judaism.
The social life-sphere, like the cosmic and the" organic, is divided in its development into three epochs, which in their intrinsic structure are analogous in all the three life spheres. The first manifestation of history, that of ancient Judaism and Paganism, is the paleontological epoch of social life. It corresponds, on the one hand, to the embryological epoch in the history of development of organic life on this earth, which terminated in the tertiary period with the birth of the present existing organisms; and, on the other hand, it is analogous, in the cosmic sphere, to the epoch of world formation, the age of comets and nebulae, an age which finally culminated in the birth and rise of the astral bodies.
The second manifestation of history that of medieval Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is the epoch of the birth of modern Society. It corresponds, in the organic sphere, to the period of the birth of the present existing organisms, and in the cosmic world to the time of the birth of the planetary bodies.
The third manifestation of history, namely, the present age of the social life-sphere, corresponds to the epoch of perfected organisms in the organic sphere and that of the developed planetary system in the cosmic.
This age of maturity began, in the cosmic sphere, with the satellites or double stars and ended with the perfection of the solar systems; in the organic sphere, it began with the prehistoric period, and finally came to completion in the historic races of mankind. In the social sphere, it is not yet completed; it is at present developing its last race and class struggle, in order to bring about a reconciliation of all opposites and to establish an equilibrium between production and consumption, and finally to reach that perfected and harmonious course of life which characterizes every age of maturity.
You will find, esteemed friend, the world-view, here outlined, to be the underlying basis of all my works. I have never held any other since I became a writer. It is the soul of my aspirations. Its realization is my life work, and at the opportune moment I hope to develop it further. The narrow limits of a letter do not allow more de tailed discussion of such a broad subject. Besides, I am at present too much interested in the fate of my own people to devote myself to the solution of a problem which, though intrinsically connected with the future of Judaism, must first await the solution of the Jewish national problem.
Regenerated Judaism and the sacrificial cult-Two thousand year yearning of the nation for a new center in Zion-Patriotic songs and prayers-An old legend-Signs of the times-The time of return approaches-The Eastern Question and the Jews-A Frenchman's enthusiastic appeal.
You ask me to come back to earth from the starry regions of philosophy to the soil of Palestine. You certainly love the antithesis. As an offset to the noble and exalted historical religion of my regenerated Judaism, you oppose the "bloody sacrificial cult" of the ancient Israelites, and claim that orthodox Jews will never agree to a rebuilding of the Temple without, at the same time, reinstituting this ancient cult. You assume, therefore, that my love for my people will not go so far as to consent to an introduction of the sacrificial cult.
I cannot grant you, however, either the supposed conditio sine qua non [the condition without which nothing is possble], on the part of orthodox Jews, or your hypothetical conception of the degree of my patriotism. In regard to my deep, reawakened, though belated love for my people, it seems to me that you forget that real, strong love, the love which dominates body and spirit alike, is always blind. Its blindness consists in this, that it is not the perfection and excellent qualities of the beloved which are the object of love's desire, but the beloved being as it is, with all its good and bad traits. Love desires not the object of affection because it hopes to improve its bad traits, but because it loves the undivided, individual entity. The scar on the face of my beloved does not detract from my love for her, but is itself dear to me; dearer, perhaps, than her beautiful eyes, for other women may have beautiful eyes, but the scar is characteristic only of my beloved's individuality. Were, really, the sacrificial cult an inseparable part of Jewish nationality, I would unhesitatingly accept it. But as long as I have not learned anything better, I am convinced to the contrary. Our exalted historical religion, a religion which has progressed from one enlightened condition to another, which breathes only love for humanity and the knowledge of God cannot have the sacrificial cult as an essential part of its being. But in spite of my personal conviction, let me not venture to anticipate history. There are certain questions which a priori, namely, in a practical way, seem to be insolvable, but which, in the course of historical development, solve themselves. To such questions belongs also the question of cult in general, and the development of a definite form of divine worship out of the moral, religious spirit of that nation which, at every period of its development, .vas the creator of its own religion in particular.
Dr. Sachs, from whose classical work I have already cited excerpts, when speaking of the rigidity of the religious norms in exile and contrasting with this rigidity their former historical development on the soil of Palestine, says: "The ground of a living, historical reality is too wide to be encompassed by a ready-made system of norms and rules; nay, even the fixed norms themselves cannot withstand the strong influence of the free-moving expression of life and remain unchanged. The rushing current of a living movement undermines the obstructing dikes and penetrates by its windings and meanderings into the hard rocks of the shore." It is only after the extinction of the national life of the people, which molded the religious norms in live fashion, that these norms have assumed a form of rigidity. But this rigidity will disappear from the religious life, as soon as the extinct national life comes into existence again, when the current of a national historical development forces itself anew into the hard and rigid religious forms.
The holy spirit, the creative genius of the people, out of which Jewish life and teaching arose, deserted Israel when its children began to feel ashamed of their nationality. But this spirit will again animate our people when it awakens to a new life, and creates new things of which we have at present not even a conception. No one can foretell what form and shape the newborn life and spirit of the regenerated nations will assume. As regards the religious cult, and especially the Jewish cult, it will certainly be different from the present as well as from the ancient form.
Regarded by itself, the sacrificial cult, as described in the Bible, does not contain anything repellent to the spirit of humanitarianism. On the contrary, as compared with the horrible custom of human sacrifices practiced by all the nations of antiquity, the Jewish practice of animal sacrifices was a splendid victory for the spirit of humanitarianism. Be that as it may, whether animal sacrifices are regarded as a concession on the part of the Torah to Paganism, in order to prevent a relapse on the part of the people into idolatry, or whether it be maintained that it contains a hidden symbolism, the meaning of which is at present unknown, one thing is well established, that the Jews, in spite of their having brought "bloody sacrifices," possess greater abhorrence for bloodshed and the eating of blood than modern nations which consume the blood together, with the meat, without sacrifice or ceremony. But the sacrificial cult has not been practiced for the last eighteen hundred years, and therefore our new-fashioned Jews are ashamed of it. And yet it seems that even to the present day, sacrifice is the natural expression of the pious spirit of the child. Goethe tells us, that in his childhood, the only way he could satisfy his religious craving was by means of sacrifice to the Eternal, which he performed by lighting a bonfire and throwing therein his favorite toys.
On the other hand, the prophets of old, and even the rabbis of the Middle Ages, never considered the sacrificial cult essential to the Jewish religion as do modern rigidly orthodox Jews, who look upon it as inseparable from our national restoration. Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai declared, basing his utterance on the prophetic saying in Hosea vi 6, that sacrifices can be substituted by benevolence, and a number of modern rabbinical authorities, who do not recognize the right of the modern descendants of Aaron to the priesthood, have yet declared themselves zealously for the restoration of a Jewish State. The cult that we are going to introduce in the New Jerusalem can and must, for the present, remain an open question. Rome was not built in a day, and the New Jerusalem must needs take time for its construction.
What we have to do at present for the regeneration of the Jewish nation is, first, to keep alive the hope of the political rebirth of our people, and next, to reawaken that hope where it slumbers. When political conditions in the Orient shape themselves so as to permit the organization of a beginning of the restoration of a Jewish State, this beginning will express itself in the founding of Jewish colonies in the land of their ancestors, to which enterprise France will undoubtedly lend a hand. You know how substantial was the share of the Jews in the subscriptions to the fund raised for the benefit of the Syrian war victims. It was Cremieux who took the initiative in the matter, the same Cremieux who twenty years ago traveled with Sir Moses Montefiore to Syria in order to seek protection for the Jews against the persecutions of the Christians. In the Journal des Debats, which very seldom accepts poems for publication, there appeared, at the time of the Syrian expedition, a poem by Leon Halevi, who at the time, perhaps, thought as little of the rebirth of Israel as Cremieux, yet his beautiful stanzas could not have been produced otherwise than in a spirit of foreseeing this regeneration. When the poet of the Schwalben mournfully complains:
Where tarries the hero? Where tarries the wise?
Who will, O my people, revive you anew;
Who will save you, and give you again
A place in the sun?
The French poet answers his query with enthusiastic confidence:
Ye shall be reborn, ye fearsome cities!
A breath of security will always hover
O'er your banks where our colors have fluttered!
Come again a call supreme!
Au revoir is not adieu-
France is all to those she loves,
The future belongs to God.
Alexander Weill sang about the same time:
There is a people stiff of neck,
Dispersed from the Euphrates to the Rhine,
Its whole life centered in a Book
Oft times bent, yet ever straightened;
Braving hatred and contempt,
It only dies to live again
In nobler form.
France, beloved friend, is the savior who will restore our people to its place in universal history.
Allow me to recall to your mind an old legend which you have probably heard in your younger days. It runs as follows: "A knight who went to the Holy Land to assist in the liberation of Jerusalem, left behind him a very dear friend. While the knight fought valiantly on the field of battle, his friend spent his time, as heretofore, in the study of the Talmud, for his friend was none other than a pious rabbi.
"Months afterward, when the knight returned home, he appeared suddenly at midnight, in the study room of the rabbi, whom he found, as usual, absorbed in his Talmud. 'God's greetings to you, dear old friend,' he said. 'I have returned from the Holy Land and bring you from there a pledge of our friendship. What I gained by my sword, you are striving to obtain with your spirit our ways lead to the same goal.' While thus speaking, the knight handed the rabbi a rose of Jericho.
"The rabbi took the rose and moistened it with his tears, and immediately the withered rose began to bloom again in its full glory and splendor. And the rabbi said to the knight: 'Do not wonder, my friend that the withered rose bloomed again in my hands. The rose possesses the same characteristics as our people: it comes to life again at the touch of the warm breath of love, in spite of its having been torn from its own soil and left to wither in foreign lands. So will Israel bloom again in youthful splendor; and the spark, at present smoldering under the ashes, will burst once more into a bright flame.'"
The routes of the rabbi and the knight dear friend, are meeting to-day. As the rabbi in the story symbolizes our people, so does the knight of the legend signify the French people which in our days, as in the Middle Ages, sent its brave soldiers to Syria and "prepared in the desert the way of the Lord."
Have you never read the words of the Prophet Isaiah: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that the appointed time has come, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received at the Lord's hand double for all her sins. The voice of one that crieth in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be mad low, and the crooked shall be made a straight place, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Do you not believe that in these words, with which second Isaiah opened his prophecies, as well as in words with which the Prophet Obadiah closed his prophecy, the conditions of our own time are graphically pictured? Was not help given to Zion in order to defend and establish the wild mountaineers there? Are not things being prepared there and roads leveled, and is not the road of civilization being built in the desert in the form of the Suez Canal works and the railroad which will connect Asia and Europe? They are not thinking at present of the restoration of our people. But you know the proverb, "Man proposes and God disposes." Just as in the West they once searched for a road to India, and incidentally discovered a new world, so will our lost fatherland be rediscovered on the road to India and China that is now being built in the Orient. Do you still doubt that France will help the Jews to found colonies which may extend from Suez to Jerusalem, and from the banks of the Jordan to the Coast of the Mediterranean? Then pray read the work which appeared shortly after the massacres in Syria, by the famous publisher, Dentu, under the title The New Oriental Problem. The author hardly wrote it at the request of the French government, but acted in accordance with the spirit of the French nation when he urged our brethren, not on religious grounds, but from purely political and humanitarian motives, to restore their- ancient state.
I may, therefore, recommend this work, written, not by a Jew, but by a French patriot, to the attention of our modern Jews, who plume themselves on borrowed French humanitarianism. I will quote here, in translation, a few pages of this work, The New Eastern Question, by Ernest Laharanne.
"In the discussion of these new Eastern complications, we reserved a special place for Palestine, in order to bring to the attention of the world the important question, whether ancient Judaea can once more acquire its former place under the sun.
"This question is not raised here for the first time. The redemption of Palestine, either by the efforts of international Jewish banker, or the nobler method, of a general subscription in which all the Jews should participate, has been discussed many times. Why is it that this patriotic project has not as yet been realized? It is certainly not the fault of pious Jews that the plan was frustrated, for their hearts beat fast and their eyes fill with tears at the thought of a return to Jerusalem. "If the project is still unrealized, the cause is easily cognizable. The Jews dare not think of the possibility of possessing again the land of their fathers. Have we not opposed to their wish our Christian veto? Would we not continually molest the legal proprietor when he will have taken possession of his ancestral land, and in the name of piety make him feel that his ancestors forfeited the title to their land on the day of the Crucifixion?
"Our stupid Ultra-montanism has destroyed the possibility of a regeneration of Judaea, by making the present of the Jewish people barren and unproductive. Had the city of Jerusalem been rebuilt by means of Jewish capital, we would have heard preachers prophesying, even in our progressive nineteenth century, that the end of the world is at hand and predictions of the coming of the Anti-Christ. Yes, we have lived to see such a state of affairs, now that Ultra-montanism has made its last stand in oratorical eloquence. In the sacred beehive of religion, we still hear a continuous buzzing of those insects who would rather see a mighty sword in the hands of the barbarians, than greet the resurrection of nations and hail the revival of a free and great thought inscribed on their banner. This is undoubtedly the reason why Israel did not make any attempt to become master of his own flocks, why the Jews, after wandering for two thousand years, are not in a position to shake the dust from their weary feet. The continuous, inexorable demands that would be made upon a Jewish settlement, the vexatious insults that would be heaped upon them and which would finally degenerate into persecutions, in which fanatic Christians and pious Mohammedans would unite in brotherly accord-these are the reasons, more potent than the rule of the Turks, that have deterred the Jews from attempting to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, their ancient home, and their State.
"But if this cause explains the lack of courage on the part of patriotic Jews, we cannot refrain from accusing the so-called progressive Jews of indifference to the fate of the Jewish people; for whenever a project for the restoration of the Jewish State is being considered, they display toward it a naivete that neither does credit to their reasoning power nor to their heart. The explanations offered by them on such occasions are inadmissible both from a moral and from a political point of view. A declaration, composed by the representatives of the progressive Je1vs at their meeting in Frankfort, contains the following Article:
"We acknowledge as our fatherland only the land where we are born and to which we are inseparably united by the bonds of citizenship."
"No member of the Jewish race can renounce the incontestable and fundamental right of his people, without at the same time denying the history of the Jews and his own ancestors. Such an act is especially unseemly, at a time when political conditions in Europe will not only not obstruct the restoration of a Jewish State, but will rather facilitate its realization. What European power to-day would oppose the plan that the Jews, united through a Congress, should buy back their ancient fatherland? Who would object if the Jews flung to decrepit old Turkey a few handfuls of gold, and said to her: 'Give me' back my home and use this money to consolidate the other parts of your tottering empire?'
"No objections would be raised to the realization of such a plan, and Judaea would be permitted to extend its boundaries from Suez to the harbor of Smyrna, including the entire area of the western Lebanon range. For We will not be eternally engaged in war; the time must come when this wholesale massacre, usually accompanied by the booming of cannon, will be condemned by humanity, so that the nation which desires conquest in addition to commerce, will not dare to carry out its designs. We must therefore prepare and break new ground for the peaceful struggles of industry. European industry has daily to search for new markets as an outlet for its products. We have no time to lose. The time has arrived when it is imperative to call the ancient nations back to life, so as to open new highways and byways for European civilization."
In another passage, the author speaks with so much enthusiasm, love and reverence for the Jews, that what he says overshadows all that has ever been said by a Jew in praise of his own people.
"There is a mysterious power which rules the destiny of humanity. Once the hand of the Infinite Power has signed the decree of a nation to be banished forever from the fact of the earth, the fate of that nation is irrevocable. But when we see a nation, torn from its cradle in its early childhood, and after having tasted all the bitterness of exile is brought back to its land, only to be tossed again into the wide world; and that nation, during the eighteen centuries of its wandering has displayed such remarkable powers of endurance, suffering age-long martyrdom :without extinguishing in its heart the fire of patriotism, then we just admit that we are standing before an infinite mystery, unparalleled in the history of humanity."
In these few words there is concentrated the whole history of Israel.
What an example! What a race! You, Roman conquerors, led your legions in battle against the already ruined Zion and drove the children of Israel out of their ancestral land. Your European, Asiatic and African barbarians lent your ear to superstition and pronounced your curse upon them. You, feudal kings, branded the Jews with the mark of shame-the Jews, who, in spite of all your persecutions, supplied you with the necessary gold wherewith to arm your vassals and serfs and who provided your markets with goods. You, grand Inquisitors, searched among the children of the dispersed people of Israel for your richest victims, with whom to fill your prisons and coffers, and in order to feed your auto-da-fe's -and you revoked the edict of Nantes 11 and drove out of the land the remnant that had escaped the destruction of Apostolic fanaticism. And finally, you modem nations have denied these indefatigable workers and industrious merchants civil rights. What persecutions! What tears! What blood you children of Israel have shed in the last eighteen hundred years! But you sons of Judaea, in spite of all suffering are still here. You have overcome the innumerable obstacles which the hatred, contempt, fanaticism and barbarism of the centuries have placed in your way. The hand of the Eternal has surely guided you.
France finally freed you. On the eve of the great world epoch, France, while shattering its own chains, called all nations and also you, into freedom. You became citizens and now you are brothers. The year 1789 was the first step in the process of rehabilitation. Pursuing its mission, liberation, the eye of France searched after all persecuted races, and it found you in your ghetto and shattered its doors forever . France invited you to its Chambers. You participated in its triumphs; you shared its happiness and its reverses. You have raised your voice on the day of council, shouted for joy at our victories and wept at our defeats. You are good citizens and devoted brothers. France will perhaps be to you a lighthouse of salvation, a rock against your enemies, who are also the enemies of our modem institutions. It will defend you against the libelers of your nationality, your character and your religion.
You are an elemental force and we bow our heads before you. You were powerful in the early period of your history, strong even after the destruction of Jerusalem, and mighty during the Middle Ages, when there were only two dominant powers-the Inquisition and its Cross, and Piracy with its Crescent. You have escaped destruction in your long dispersion, in spite of the terrible tax you have paid during eighteen centuries of persecution. But what is left of your nation is mighty enough to rebuild the gates of Jerusalem. This is your mission. Providence would not have prolonged your existence until to-day, had it not reserved for you the holiest of all missions. The hour has struck for the resettlement of the banks of the Jordan. The historical books of the royal prophets can, perhaps, be written again only by you.
A great calling is reserved for you: to be a living channel of communication between three continents. You should be the bearers of civilization to the primitive people of Asia, and the teachers of the European sciences to which your race has contributed so much. You should be the mediators between Europe and far Asia, open the roads that lead to India and China-those unknown regions which must ultimately be thrown open to civilization. You will come to the land of your fathers crowned with the crown of age-long martyrdom, and there, finally, you will be completely healed from all your ills! Your capital will again bring the wide stretches of barren land under cultivation; your labor and industry will once more turn the ancient soil into fruitful valleys, reclaim the flat lands from the encroaching sands of the desert, and the world will again pay its homage to the oldest of peoples.
The time has arrived for you to reclaim, either by way of compensation or by other means, your ancient fatherland from Turkey, which has devastated it for ages. You have contributed enough to the cause of civilization and have helped Europe on the path of progress, to make revolutions and carry them out successfully. You must henceforth think of yourselves, of the valleys of Lebanon and the plains of Gennesareth.
March forward! At the sight of your rejuvenation, our hearts will beat fast, and our armies will stand by you, ready to help.
March forward, Jews of all lands! The ancient fatherland of yours is calling you, and we will be proud to open its gates for you.
March forward, ye sons of the martyrs! The harvest of experience which you have accumulated in your long exile, will help to bring again to Israel the splendor of the Davidic days and rewrite that part of history of which the monoliths of Semiramis are the only witness.
March forward, ye noble hearts! The day on which the Jewish tribes return to their fatherland will be epoch making in the history of humanity. Oh, how will the East tremble at your coming! How quickly, under the influence of labor and industry, will the enervation of the people vanish, in the land where voluptuousness, idleness and robbery have held sway for thousands of years.
You will become the moral stay of the East. You have written the Book of books. Become, then, the educators of the wild Arabian hordes and the African peoples. Let the ancient wisdom of the East, the revelations of the Zend, the Vedas, as well as the more modern Koran and the Gospels, group themselves around your Bible. They will all become purified from every superstition and all will proclaim alike the principles of freedom, humanity, peace and unity. You are the triumphal arch of the future historical epoch, under which the great covenant of humanity will be written and sealed in your presence as the witnesses of the past and future. The Biblical traditions which you will revive, will also sanctify anew our Occidental society and destroy the weed of materialism together with its roots.
And when you shall have made this wonderful progress, remember, ye sons of Israel, remember Modern France which, from the moment of its rebirth, has loved you continually and has never wearied of defending you.
The beginning of the end-Solidarity of the Jews-Philanthropic illusions-The social animal kingdom-The nurses of progress-The faithful watchmen of the sacred sepulchre of Jewish nationality-The last catastrophe.
I t seems that extracts from the French pamphlet which I quoted to you, have awakened in you new thoughts. You think that the Christian nations will certainly not object to the restoration of the Jewish State, for they will thereby rid their respective countries of a foreign population which is a thorn in their side. Not only Frenchmen, but Germans and Englishmen, have expressed themselves more than once in favor of the return of the Jews to Palestine. You quote an Englishman who endeavored to prove, by Biblical evidence, the ultimate return of the Jews to Palestine and simultaneously also the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. Another Englishman attempts to prove that the present English dynasty is directly descended from the house of David and that the stone which plays such an important role in the coronation of English kings is the same on which Jacob's head rested when he dreamt of the famous ladder. A third magnanimously offers all the English ships for the purpose of conveying to Palestine, free of charge, all the Jews who want to return there. These sentiments, however, seem to be, according to you, only a milder form of the desire, which in former ages expressed itself in frequent banishments of the Jews from Christian lands, for which mildness our people ought to be thankful. On the other hand, you see in such projects only a piece of folly which, in its final analysis, leads either to religious or secular insanity, and should not be taken into consideration. Such desires, moreover, if they come from pious Christians, would be opposed by all Jews. On the other hand, if pious Jews were the projectors, all Christians would object to the restoration; for as the latter would only consent to a return to Palestine on condition that the ancient sacrificial cult be reintroduced in the New Jerusalem, so would the former give its assistance to the plan, only on condition that we Jews would bring our national religion as a sacrifice to Christianity at the "Holy Sepulchre." And thus, you conclude, all the national aspirations of the Jews must inevitably founder on the rock of differences of opinion.
Now if rigid Christian dogma and inflexible Jewish orthodoxy could never be revived by the living current of history, they would certainly place an insurmountable obstacle to the realization of our patriotic aspirations. The thought of repossessing our ancient fatherland can, therefore, be taken under serious consideration, only when this rigidity of orthodox Jews and Christians alike, will have relaxed. And it is beginning to relax already, not only with the progressive elements, but even with pious Jews and Christians. Moreover, the Talmud, which is the corner-stone of modern Jewish orthodoxy, long ago counseled obedience to the dictates of life.
If Jewish Nationalism is a live movement, it will not be deterred by any doubts that may arise from devoting its energy toward obtaining political regeneration. Though the time "when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" has not yet arrived, the ruling majority and the oppressed minority have both alike lost their wolfish appetite and sheepish patience. Religious toleration has become a more general article of creed than any other dogma. Besides, I always think, as I have already remarked, of the future cult of all regenerated nations as being different in form from the present religious cults, which have come down to us from a time when folk individualities were repressed. And finally I must emphasize it again, our future religious worship, like those of other nations, will not precede the regeneration but follow it. The main problem of the Jewish national movement is not of a religious nature but centers around one point, namely, on how to awaken the patriotic sentiments in the hearts of our progressive Jews, and how to liberate the Jewish masses, by means of this patriotism, from a spirit-deadening formalism. If we succeed in this beginning, then no matter how difficult the practical realization of our plan may be, the difficulties will be overcome by experience itself. It is only when we find that the Jewish heart is dead, that the Jews are no more capable of patriotic inspiration, that we shall have to despair of our hope which, as every great historical ideal, cannot be realized without a tremendous struggle.
The Jews have enough common sense, in spite of misunderstood enlightenment and orthodoxy, not to be misled by religious haziness and fanaticism which have no basis in the present life. But it is just this sober sense of reality that our race possesses in a high degree, which will finally win over those of our brethren, whether progressive or orthodox, who still possess a Jewish heart, to the national cause which has its roots deep in the practical soil of reality.
The objections of progressive Jews to the restoration of the Jewish State have their ultimate ground, not in that spiritual education which does not shrink from the difficulties lying in the path of a great work, nor calculates beforehand the amount of sacrifice required in the realization of the same, but they rest in the moral and intellectual narrow-mindedness which is unable to rise to a high humanitarian standpoint, from which one can view the depth of the misfortune of the people as well as the means of their salvation. The Jewish religion, thought Heine, and with him all the enlightened Jews, is more of a misfortune than a religion. But in vain do the progressive Jews persuade themselves that they can escape this misfortune through enlightenment or conversion. Every Jew is, whether he wishes it or not, solidly united with the entire nation; and only when the Jewish people will be freed from the burden which it has borne so heroically for thousands of years, will the burden of Judaism be removed from the shoulders of these progressive Jews, who will ultimately form only a small minority. We will all then carry the yoke of the "Kingdom of Heaven" until the end.
At the height of the movement of enlightenment, when everybody was intoxicated by it, people could be easily fascinated by the illusion that it is best for the entire Jewish people to surrender its national religion and devote itself to humanitarianism, a cult which, according to them, was destined to absorb Judaism as well as all individual life; To-day, even the most superficial rationalist cannot cherish such a philanthropic illusion. Though lacking a deeper conception of life, of Nature and history, the historical movement among our contemporary Jews has accomplished its purpose of opening the eyes of the rationalists; for even in the Occident, where the Jews are closely united to the general culture by a thousand bonds, the injury done to the ancient Jewish cult by enlightenment is slight.
Even to-day, the great majority of Occidental Jews pay homage to their ancient religion. Neither emancipation nor Christian proselytism, with its bait of material advantages, has succeeded in estranging the majority of Jews from their traditions. On the contrary, there have appeared of late, even among those who were formerly estranged from Judaism, men who display strong sympathies for the ancient Jewish mode of life. The leveling tendencies of the assimilationists have remained and will always remain without influence on those Jews who constitute the great Jewish masses.
The masses are never moved to progress by mere abstract conceptions; the springs of action lie far deeper than even the socialist revolutionaries think. With the Jews, more than with other nations which, though oppressed, yet live on their own soil, all political and social progress must necessarily be preceded by national independence. A common, native soil is a primary condition, if there is to be introduced among the Jews better and more progressive relations between Capital and Labor. The social man, just as the social plant and animal, needs for his growth and development a wide, free soil; without it, he sinks to the status of a parasite, which feeds at the expense of others. The parasitic way of existence has played an important role in the development of human history and is by no means restricted to the Jews. As long as science and industry were not sufficiently developed, the land in the possession of any nation was never large enough to maintain the entire population; and the nations were therefore forced, either to make war one upon the other and thus acquire slaves, or to divide their own population into ruling and serving classes. But this regime, which was based upon the exploitation of men, collapsed as soon as modern science and industry began to dominate the world.
Next: Moses Hess Rome and Jerusalem - Conclusion
Introduction, biography and Part I of Rome and Jerusalem
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ROME AND JERUSALEM