Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem
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Moses Hess was born Moritz Hess in Bonn in 1812. As correspondent for a socialist newspaper that he helped to found, he lived in Paris, fleeing to Belgium and Switzerland temporarily following the suppression of the 1848 commune and again during the Franco-Prussian war. When his father died in 1851, Hess used his inheritance to marry a prostitute, in defiance of social norms. Hess was originally an assimilationist Jew who turned first to utopian and then to scientific socialism. Hess was a friend and collaborator of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Hess converted Engels to Communism, and introduced Marx to social and economic problems. He played a an important role in transforming Hegelian dialectical idealism theory of history to the dialectical materialism of Marxism, by conceiving of man as the initiator of history rather than as a mere observer.
Hess was probably responsible for several "Marxian" slogans and ideas, including "religion is the opium of the people. He also is "credited" with Marx's notion that Jews were in love with money. However, Hess became reluctant to base all history on economic causes and class struggle, and he came to see the struggle of races, or nationalities, as the prime factor of past history. From 1861 to 1863 he lived in Germany, where he became acquainted with the rising tide of German anti-Semitism and the assimilationist Jewish movement. He changed his name to Moses in protest against assimilationism. In this period he apparently returned to religion in the form of Spinoza's pantheism, which he somehow did not find incompatible with orthodoxy. . He published "Rome and Jerusalem " in 1862. Hess contemplated the rise of Italian nationalism and the German reaction to it, and from this he arrived at the idea of Jewish national revival, and at his prescient understanding that the Germans would not be tolerant of the national aspirations of others and would be particularly intolerant of the Jews.
Hess's Rome and Jerusalem went unnoticed in his time, along with the rest of this writings. German Jews were bent on assimilation and did not heed Hess's unfashionable warnings. His work did not stimulate any political activity or discussion. Hess's contribution, became important only in retrospect, as the Zionist movement began to crystallize and to generate an audience.
See also: Biography of Moses Hess
Rome and Jerusalem: The Last National Question is significant because it was the first Zionist writing to put the question of Jewish nationalism in the context of European nationalism and secular as well as religious philosophy. It incorporates a peculiar synthesis that Hess seems to have made of Hegelian dialectics, Spinoza's pantheism and Marxism, which led him, like Toynbee, to see divine purpose in history. However, whatever logical systems led him to his extravagances and vagaries, his prophetic forecast of the disastrous problems of German nationalism gone wrong, which bore such grim fruit in the twentieth century, as well as his belief in Zionism, validate Hess's analytic intuitions.
It is understood in part as explaining the mission of the Jews to be the freeing of humanity. It was written against the background of German Jewish assimilationism, German antisemitism and seeming German antipathy to nationalism arising in other countries. Hess was fond of the bombastic and mystical "world historical" concepts popular in Germany in the nineteenth century. Reading his actual work, rather than reviews and glosses on it, one gets the impression that attempts to crown Hess as as the father of Socialist Zionism are attempts to read back into 1862 the reality of Russia in 1890 or 1900. Hess thought in terms of great historical processes and used the terminology of the day. He used the term "race" (often meaning only "people") very liberally. Anti-Semites and anti-Zionists have labeled him a racist because he refers, in this translation to the "Jewish race," but those who can get through his difficult prose will see that Hess was an egalitarian who believed in the principles of the French revolution, and wanted to apply the progressive concepts of his day to the Jewish people. Hess has much more to say about Germany and Europe and "Worldhistorical" questions then about the actual mechanism of implementing the Jewish state, for which he quotes Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer, quite briefly near the end of the book.
Hess's Zionism, his socialism and his belief in democratic government appear to be rooted in a mysticism born of Jewish philosophy and 19th century utopian mysticism, rather than objective economic and social analysis. He wrote:
Judaism is not a passive religion, but an active life factor which has coalesced with the national consciousness into one organic whole. It is primarily the expression of a nationality whose history for thousands of years coincides with the history of the development of a humanity and the Jews are a nation which, having once acted as the leaven of the social world, is destined to be resurrected with the rest of civilized nations.
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.
Hess's theory of history was more rooted in Hegelian idealism and cosmological mysticism than it was in Marxian dialectical materialism. He wrote:
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.
However, despite his intellectual vagaries, Hess had sound instincts. His prognoses for Germany were perhaps alarmingly prophetic, not only for the Jewish people, but for all of Europe (emphasis added):
The cause of national regeneration of oppressed peoples can expect no help and sympathy from Germany. The problem of regeneration, which dates not from the second restoration of the kingdom in France, but goes back to the French Revolution, the definite solution of which began in Europe only recently, with the outbreak of the Italian war, was received in Germany with mockery and derision; and in spite of the fact that the question is an urgent one and is uppermost almost everywhere, even in Germany itself, the Germans have named it the "Nationality trick." Our Jewish democrats, also, display their patriotism in accusing the French and the peoples sympathizing with them, of conquering designs. The French, say the German politicians, as well as the allies, will only be exploited by the second Monarchy, for purposes of restraining liberty rather than promoting it. It is, therefore, according to the deep logic of these politicians, the duty of the German to be obedient to the Kaiser and the kings, in order that they should be able to defeat the conquering desires of the French. These politicians and patriots forget, that if Germany were to conquer France and Italy to-day, it would only result in placing the entire German people under police law; and in depriving the Jews of their civil rights, in a worse manner than after the War of Liberation, when the only reward granted by the Germans to their Jewish brethren in arms was exclusion from civil life. And, truly, the German people and the German Jews do not deserve any better lot when they allow themselves, in spite of the examples of history, to be entrapped by medieval reaction.
Scientific studies, together with my life experiences, have matured my political sympathies for France, especially after I learned to know the people. I have formulated my thoughts in the following sentences:
Social life-tendencies are, like spiritual life-views, typical and primal race creations. The entire past history of humanity originally moved only in the circle of race and class struggle. The race struggle is the primal one, and the class struggle secondary. The last dominating race is the German. But, thanks to the French people, which succeeded not only in reconciling race antagonism in its own land, but also uprooted every form of race domination within the borders of France, the race struggle is nearing its end. And along with the cessation of race antagonism, the class struggle will also come to a standstill. The equalization of all classes of Society will necessarily follow the emancipation of the races, for it will ultimately become only a scientific question of social economics.
Yet it seems that a final race struggle is unavoidable, if the German politicians, failing to grasp the situation, do not attempt to oppose the tremendous current of reaction, which will ultimately involve Germany in a collision with the Romance nations, and will also entrap the progressive German democrats in the net of Romantic demagogy. Medieval reaction succeeded twice during the present century, once during the War of Liberation, and for the second time, during the Italian war, in defeating the modern efforts of the German people for political and social regeneration, by inflaming the race dominance instincts in the hearts of the lords of war, who think themselves lords of the land by divine right, and consider the people as their rightly inherited slaves. It is not impossible, that in case of a war between Italy and Austria. German democracy will, for the third time, be engulfed by the whirl of reaction and join her in a war for race dominance, the results of which will be detrimental to progress. But out of the last race struggle, which Ferdinand Freiligrath has vividly depicted in his vision "At the Birch Tree;" there will arise no new domination of any race, and the equality of all world historical peoples will follow as a necessary result.
Who can foresee the catastrophes that may befall us as a result of our arrested development? Certainly, we hope that the struggle of the German people will come to an end with the equalization of all oppressed peoples which struggle to attain the same aim. But by what means the goal will be reached, no one knows. What peaceful or warlike German patriot dares to think about it?
The age of race dominance is at an end. Even the smallest people, whether it belongs to the Germanic or Romance, Slavic or Finnic, Celtic or Semitic races, as soon as it advances its claims to a place among the historical nations, will find sympathetic supporters in the powerful civilized Western nations. Like the patriots of other unfortunate nations, the German 'patriots can attain their aim only by means of a friendly alliance with the progressive and powerful nations of the world. But if they continue to conjure themselves, as well as the German people, with the might and glory of the "German Sword," they will only add to the old unpardonable mistakes, grave new ones; they will only play into the hands of the reaction, and drag all Germany along with them.
The above vision, despite its bombastic race rhetoric and Teutonic "World historical" phraseology, can be viewed in retrospect as a prophetic warning. It is also a vision of equality that gives the lie to antisemitic tracts that label Hess as a "National Socialist: " The medium is Germanic, but the message of Hess anticipates Wilsonian policy of self-determination by 60 years:
The age of race dominance is at an end. Even the smallest people, whether it belongs to the Germanic or Romance, Slavic or Finnic, Celtic or Semitic races, as soon as it advances its claims to a place among the historical nations, will find sympathetic supporters in the powerful civilized Western nations
Hess even found a place for Christian Zionism in his vision, in explaining why Jews did not hitherto attempt to build a homeland in the land of Israel:
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.
The major importance of Rome and Jerusalem, however, is perhaps that it shows plainly how the rise of nationalism in Europe influenced Zionism:
The springtime of nations which is about to merge into the fruit-ripening Summer, will not pass without leaving a lasting impression upon our Occidentat brethren. Among the Jews, also, Spring will quietly fructify the buds, and the bloom of a new life will suddenly surprise every beholder. The young Jewish generation, sensitive to every high and noble ideal, will enthusiastically join the Jewish national movement; and once the young branch turns its growing force in that direction, even the barren trunk will soon be covered with leaves and flowers that will be an ornament to Israel.
History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel
Labor and Socialist Zionism
General Resources on the History of Israel, Zionism and the Jews
This document is part of the historical documents collection at the Zionism and Israel Information Center
This introduction is copyright © 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Information Center. The source document below is in the public domain.
The return home-Jewish women-The source of the historical religion-Family love-Mater dolorosa.
After an estrangement of twenty years, I am back with my people. I have come to be one of them again, to participate in the celebration of the holy days, to share the memories and hopes of the nation, to take part in the spiritual and intellectual warfare going on within the House of Israel, on the one hand, and between our people and the surrounding civilized nations, on the other; for though the Jews have lived among the nations for almost two thousand years, they cannot, after all, become a mere part of the organic whole.
A thought which I believed to be forever buried in my heart, has been revived in me anew. It is the thought of my nationality, which is inseparably connected with the ancestral heritage and the memories of the Holy Land, the Eternal City, the birthplace of the belief in the divine unity of life, as well as the hope in the future brotherhood of men.
For a number of years this half-strangled thought stirred within my breast and clamored for expression. I lacked the strength to swerve suddenly from my beaten track, which seemed to be so far from the road of Judaism, to a new path which had unfolded itself before me in the hazy distance, in vague and dim outline.
Is it mere chance, that whenever I stand at a new turn in my life, there appears in my path an unhappy woman, who imparts to me daring and courage to travel the unknown road?
Oh, how stupid are those who minimize the value of woman's influence upon the development of Judaism! Was it not said of the Jews, that they were redeemed from Egypt because of the merit of the pious women,' and that the future redemption will be brought about through them?
It was only when I saw you in anguish and sorrow that my heart opened and the cover of my slumbering, national feeling was thrown off. I have discovered the fountain whence flows your belief in the eternity of the spirit.
Your infinite soul-sorrow, expressed on the death of one dear to you, brought about my decision to step forth as a champion of the national renaissance of our people. Such love which, like maternal love, flows out of the very life-blood and yet is as pure as the divine spirit; such infinite love for family can have its seat only in a Jewish heart. And this love is the natural source whence springs the higher, intellectual love of God which, according to Spinoza, is the highest point to which the spirit can rise. Out of this inexhaustible fountain of family love have the redeemers of humanity drawn their inspiration.
"In thee," says the divine genius of the Jewish family, "shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Every Jew has within him the potentiality of a Messiah and every Jewess that of a Mater dolorosa.
Thoughts on death and resurrection-Family tombs-Kindred souls-Jewish and Hindu saints-Schopenhauer-The end of days-The Sabbath of History.
Both sorrow and joy are contagious. You, my friend, have imbued me with your thoughts on death and resurrection. Heretofore, I have never visited a cemetery, but now the place holds an attraction for me. For the first time, since the untimely death of my mother, I visited the place where she lies buried and where later, during my absence from home, they laid my father to rest. I had forgotten the prayer usually read by Jews over the graves of their departed, and in ignorance my lips murmured the passage from the second of the eighteen benedictions: "Thou, O Lord, art mighty forever, thou restorest the dead to life..." when suddenly I noticed a lone tower on a nearby grave. Mechanically I picked it, carried it home with me and put it among my papers. Only later, I learned whose earthly remains rest beneath that mound. I knew then that the treasure, as you named the flower, belongs to you alone.
There are mystic relations between the living and the dead, though the nature and character of the communion will forever remain an unsolved riddle. More than your wonderful dreams, do my experiences in the waking state confirm the influence that the departed exert on the fate of those who remain behind.
"The departed souls continue to live in spirit."
And therefore do I love also death. But must I then hate life? Nay, I love life as well, only I love it in the sense the greatest thinker of the centuries, Spinoza, loved it. The more humanitarian, the holier, the more divine life is, the more does it appear that life and death are of equal value and equal worth.
The Jews alone were able to rise to that spiritual height, where life and death appear to be of equal value; and yet they never renounced life, but clung to it tenaciously. Already eighteen hundred years ago, a Jew, who has since become a redeemer among the gentiles, found an extra-mundane point of support, from which he wished to lift the world from its poles.
The great teachers of the knowledge of God were always Jews. Our people not only created the noblest religion of the ancient world, a religion which is destined to become the common property of the entire civilized world, but continued to develop it, keeping pace with the progress of the human spirit. And this mission will remain with the Jews until the end of days, i.e., until the time when, according to the promise of our Prophets, the world will be filled with the knowledge of God. The "end of days," so often spoken of by the Prophets, is not to be understood to mean, as some misinterpret it, the end of the world, but it denotes the period when the development and education of humanity will reach their highest point.
We are on the eve of the Sabbath of History and should prepare for our last mission through a thorough understanding of our historical religion.
We cannot understand a single word of the Holy Scriptures, so long as we do not possess the point of view of the genius of the Jewish nation which produced these writing. Nothing is more foreign to the spirit of Judaism than the idea of the salvation of the individual which, according to the modern conception, is the corner-stone of religion. Judaism as never drawn any line of separation between and the family, the family and the nation, the nation and humanity as a whole, humanity and the cosmos, nor between creation and creator. Judaism has no other dogma but the teaching of the unity. But this dogma is with Judaism, not a mere fossilized and therefore barren belief, but a living, continually recreating principle of knowledge. Judaism is rooted in the love of the family; patriotism and nationalism are the flowers of its spirit, and the coming regenerated state of human Society will be its ripe fruit. Judaism would have shared the fate of other religions which were fossilized through their dogmas and which will finally disappear through the conflict with science, had it not been for the fact that religious teachings are the product of life. Judaism is not a passive religion, but an active life factor which has coalesced with the national consciousness into one organic whole. It is primarily the expression of a nationality whose history for thousands of years coincides with the history of the development of a humanity and the Jews are a nation which, having once acted as the leaven of the social world, is destined to be resurrected with the rest of civilized nations.
Immortality -Rabbi Jochanan -Nachmanides-Messianic travails-Pater noster-Solidarity-The call of France and the rumbling of the reactionaries.
You wonder why it is that there is no mention of the doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament. The Agadic [Jewish Legend] interpretations of verses, as well as the manipulations of certain Biblical passages by modern Jewish and Christian exegetes, which tend to infer from these verses and passages the belief in immortality, do not satisfy you, and rightly so. You argue, that if Moses and the Prophets had believed in a life beyond the grave, in the Christian sense, they would have stated the fact as explicitly as did the writers of the New Testament, and would not have limited reward and punishment to the life of this world alone. I do not deny the fact that there is no mention of immortality in the Old Testament. But if you reproach our Holy Scriptures for passing over such an important doctrine in silence, you forget the viewpoint of the genius of the Jewish nation which produced these Scriptures. You overlook the point of view of our sacred history, namely, the genetic conception which never separated the individual from the race, the nation from humanity, and the created world from the Creator. You forget that the part of the Sacred Scriptures wherein there is no mention of immortality was written at a time when the Jewish nation was still in existence, and therefore there was no need of a belief in a resurrection. The Jewish belief in immortality is inseparable from the national-humanitarian Messianic idea. "It is only with the coming of the Messiah and the establishing of the Messianic kingdom that the purpose of creation will be accomplished," says R. Jochanan, one of the leading Amoraim [Jewish scholars of Talmudic Law] . In another statement, he adds, that "all the beautiful visions of the Prophets refer only to the Messianic reign; but as regards the world to come, its character and nature is known to God alone." Even in later Rabbinic Judaism, the Rabbis never separated the idea of a future world from the conception of the Messianic reign. Nachmanides insists; in contradiction to Maimonides; upon the identity of Olam Habbo, " the world to come," with the Messianic reign.
There was no necessity for Judaism to emphasize the eternity and indestructibility of the spirit, for its own history is nothing but the embodiment of this idea. It was only when Judaism was threatened with the possibility of national destruction, as early as the end of the period of the first Temple that along with the idea of national destruction and the hope of a national rebirth, there arose also the idea of the immortality of the individual. The Prophet Isaiah already draws a sharp line of distinction between those nations which are doomed to eternal death and Israel who is destined to be resurrected. The momentary death of Israel, the people of the spirit, is only the preliminary stage for a future eternal life. (Isa. xxvi, 14-19.)
Even in primitive Christianity, as long as it did not separate itself completely from Judaism and the historical cult, the Jewish conception still survived, according to which resurrection, the "Kingdom of Heaven," and the "world to come," are identical with the Messianic age, the rebirth of the Jewish nation. The coming of the reign of the spirit is heralded in the Gospels, and also in the famous prayer of Jewish origin, "Pater Noster," "Our Father," as a definite event in the history of the Jews.
Even the latest expression of the Jewish genius concerning life and death, namely, the teaching of Spinoza, has nothing in common with the sickly atomistic conception of immortality, a conception which dissolves the unity of life either in a spiritualistic way or in a materialistic manner, and whose highest religious and moral principle is the egoistic maxim, "everyone for himself." No nation was ever so far from this egoistic principle as was the Jewish people. With the Jews, solidarity and social responsibility were always the fundamental principles of life and conduct.
In the Sayings of the Fathers, the rule of bourgeois morality-"everyone for himself"-is severely condemned, and is declared to be a wicked rule of conduct. In the teaching of Spinoza, as in the teaching of the Jewish saints, the individual is not treated as a separate entity, but as a part of a whole. According to Spinoza, eternity does not begin with our death, but always exists, is always present even as God himself.
Very few, indeed, possess the noble spirit which animated the Jewish saints. Most people are anxious to secure as much immortality as possible for themselves, and for themselves alone. True it is that the "end of days," when the knowledge of God will fill the earth, is still far off; yet we firmly believe that the time will come when the holy spirit of our nation will become the property of humanity and the earth will become a grand temple wherein the spirit of God will dwell. In the Bible, the reign of the spirit is declared to be a future event, and even long afterward people relegated these prophetic visions to the realm of the world to come-"Olam Habbo" and did not connect them with the present life. Spinoza was the first to conceive the reign of the spirit as an existing thing, as a factor in the present life. It is true, the reign of the spirit exists already, but only as a germ of spiritual light. To develop this germ to its fullest possibilities, so that it will create social values, there labor, along with the Jewish people, the most intellectual, moral and creative of modern nations, namely Germany, France and England. These three nations have contributed greatly to the store of civilization, each its distinctive share. Germany has built the road to philosophy France has thrown open to all nations the way to social and political changes and improvements, and has also blazed the path of progress for the natural sciences. England, like Germany, has followed, slowly but surely, her own lead, namely, that of the progress and development of industry.
The Jews felt long ago that the struggle for regeneration waged by the nations, together with France, is their own cause, and have therefore everywhere joined, enthusiastically and voluntarily, the ranks of the followers of the political-social movements. "The time has arrived," says a well-known French democrat to the Jews, "when you should think less of others and more of yourselves, and commence to work for your own regeneration. The latter, however, does not exclude the former. When I labor for the regeneration of my own nation, I do not thereby renounce my humanistic aspiration. The national movement of the present day is only another step on the road of progress which began with the French Revolution. The French nation has, since the great Revolution, been calling to the other nations for help. But the nations have turned a deaf ear to the voice from the distance and have lent a not unwilling ear to the tumult of reaction in their own midst. To-day, this roar deafens only the people in certain parts of Germany, those who, by dint of political trickery, are aroused to the pitch of enthusiasm for the kings and war lords. But the other nations hear and follow the call of France. The call has reached also our ancient nation, and I would unite my voice with that of France, that I may at least warn my racial brothers in Germany against listening to the loud noise of the reactionaries.
German Anti-Semitism-Patriotic romanticists and philosophic book-dealers-Otto Wigand-Berthold Auerbach-Moleschott-Dr. Gallavardin-Reform and Jewish noses -A Photographic picture -Hebrew prayers-Patriotism-My grandfather-Our Mother Rachel-National sorrow-The Black Sabbath
It seems that German education is not compatible with our Jewish national aspirations. Had I not once lived in France, it would never have entered my mind to interest myself with the revival of Jewish nationality. Our views and strivings are determined by the social environment which surrounds us. Every Living, acting people, like every active individual, has its special field. .Indeed, every man, every member of the historical nations, is a. political, or as we say at present, a social animal; yet within this sphere of the common social world, there are special places reserved by Nature for individuals according to their particular calling. The specialty of the German of the higher class, of course, is his interest in abstract thought; and because he is too much of a universal philosopher, it is difficult for him to be inspired by national tendencies. "Its whole tendency," my former publisher, Otto Wigand, once wrote to me, when I showed him an outline of a work on Jewish national aspirations, "is contrary to my pure human nature."
The "pure human nature" of the Germans is, in reality, the character of the pure German race, which rises to the conception of humanity in theory only, but in practice it has not succeeded in overcoming the natural sympathies and antipathies of the race. German antagonism to Jewish national aspiration has a double origin, though the motives are really contrary to each other. The duplicity and contrariety of the human personality, such as we can see in the union of the spiritual and the natural, the theoretical and the practical sides, are in no other nation so sharply marked in their points of opposition as in the German. Jewish national aspirations are antagonistic to the theoretical cosmopolitan tendencies of the German. But in addition to this, the German opposes Jewish national aspirations because of his racial antipathy, from which even the noblest Germans have not as yet emancipated themselves. The publisher, whose "pure human" conscience revolted against publishing a book advocating the revival of Jewish nationality, published books preaching hatred to Jews and Judaism without the slightest remorse, in spite of the fact that the motive of such works is essentially opposed to the "pure human conscience." This contradictory action was due to inborn racial antagonism to the Jews! But the German, it seems, has no clear conception of his racial prejudices; he sees in his egoistic as well as in his spiritual endeavors, not German or Teutonic, but "humanitarian tendencies"; and he does not know that he follows the latter only in theory, while in practice he clings to his egoistic ideas.
Progressive German Jews, also, seem to think that they have sufficient reason for turning away from the Jewish national movement. My dear old friend, Berthold Auerbach, is disappointed with me, just as much as my former publisher, though not on the ground of "pure human conscience." He complains bitterly about my attitude and finally exclaims: "Who appointed you as a prince and judge over us?" It seems that on account of the hatred which surrounds him on all sides, the German Jew is determined to estrange himself from Judaism as far as possible, and endeavors even to deny his race. No reform of the Jewish religion, however extreme, is radical enough for the educated German Jew. But the endeavors are vain. Even conversion itself does not relieve the Jew from the enormous pressure of German Anti-Semitism. The German hates the Jewish religion less than the race; he objects less to the Jews' peculiar beliefs than to their peculiar noses. Neither reform, nor conversion, nor emancipation throw open to the Jew the gates of social life, hence their anxiety to deny their racial descent. Moleschott, in his Physiological Sketches (p. 251), tells how the son of a converted Jew used to spend hours every morning at the looking-glass, comb in hand, endeavoring to straighten his curly hair, so as to give it a more Teutonic appearance. But as little as the "radical" Reform movement-an appellation which characterizes it so well, inasmuch as it lays the ax at the root of Judaism and its national historical cult-accomplished its aim, so little will the tendency of some Jews to deny their racial descent fulfill their purpose. Jewish noses cannot be reformed, and the black, wavy hair of the Jews will not change through conversion into blond, nor can its curves be straightened out by constant combing. The Jewish race- is one of the primary races of mankind that has retained its integrity, in spite of the continual change of its climatic environment, and the Jewish type has conserved its purity through the centuries.
On the western mountain slope which encloses the City of the Dead, at Thebes, in Egypt, there still exists the tomb of one of the ancient architects, who supervised the construction of the king's buildings, on which are depicted reliefs of all the works constructed under his direction. Here we can see how the obelisks were erected, the sphinxes hewn out of the rock, the palaces built, as well as how all the preliminary labor was performed. Here are scenes representing white Asiatic slaves making bricks, many of which are piled up near the building, while other slaves are carrying stones away. At a little distance from the group of laboring slaves stands the overseer with raised whip in his hand. The tomb was built, according to the inscription, about the time of Moses, and in the reliefs of the Asiatic slaves there is a resemblance to the present Jewish type. Later Egyptian monuments, likewise, show Jewish reliefs which strikingly resemble our modern Jews.
The Jewish race, which was so hard pressed and almost destroyed by many nations of antiquity, would have disappeared long ago, in the sea of the Indo-Germanic nations, had it not been endowed with the gift of retaining its peculiar type under all circumstances and of reproducing it. If Judaism owes its immortality to the remarkable religious productivity of the Jewish genius, this genius owes its existence to the fertility of the Jewish race. The words of the Bible, "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad and the land was filled with them," which were written of the Jews in Egypt, are true of them also during the third exile.
Of the predominance of the Jewish type in cases of intermarriage with members of the Indo-Germanic race, I can quote an example from my own experience. It is a well-known fact, that in unions between members of the Mongolian, with those of the Indo-Germanic race, the Mongolian type predominates; for example, the Russian nobles, who have little Mongolian blood in their veins, yet display in their physiognomy Mongolian features even to the present day! Among my friends there is a Russian nobleman who, like all the Russian boyars; betrays his mixed descent, the Mongolian, by his features, and the Indo-Germanic, by his fine intellect. This friend married a Polish Jewess, by whom he had a number of sons, who all possess Jewish features in marked degree. As you see, my esteemed friend, Jews and Jewesses endeavor, in vain, to obliterate their descent through conversion or intermarriage with the Indo-Germanic and Mongolian races, for the Jewish type is indestructible. Nay more, the type is undeniable, even in its most beautiful representatives, where it approaches the ancient Greek type, and even surpasses it with its peculiar soul expression. Hence I was not surprised, when traveling through Antwerp, I showed an artist the beautiful picture known to you, that he, enthusiastically admiring the image that would have done credit to a Phidias, exclaimed: "I will wager that it is the picture of a Jewess."
The Jewish race, throughout the world, possesses the ability to acclimatize itself more than all other races. Just as in the native land of the Jews, Palestine, there grow plants of the southern and of the northern zones, so does this people, of the temperate clime, thrive in all zones. A French physician, Dr. Gallavardin, has demonstrated this physiological phenomenon by many statistical data, in his well-known work, The Position of the Jews in the World.
And just as it is impossible for me to entertain any prejudice against my own race, which has played such an important role in universal history and which is destined for a still greater one in the future, so it is impossible for me to show against the holy language of our fathers the antipathy of those who endeavor to eliminate Hebrew from Jewish life, and even supersede it by German inscriptions in the cemetery. I was always exalted by the Hebrew prayers. I seem to hear in them an echo of fervent pleadings and passionate entreaties, issuing from suffering hearts of a thousand generations. Seldom do these heart-stirring prayers fail to impress those who are able to understand their meaning. The most touching point about these Hebrew prayers is, that they are really an expression of the collective Jewish spirit; they do not plead for the individual, but for the entire Jewish race. The pious Jew is above all a Jewish patriot. The "new" Jew, who denies the existence of the Jewish nationality, is not only a deserter in the religious sense, but is also a traitor to his people, his race and even to his family. If it were true that Jewish emancipation in exile is incompatible with Jewish nationality, then it were the duty of the Jews to sacrifice the former for the sake of the latter. This point, however, may need a more elaborate explanation, but that the Jew must be above all a Jewish patriot, needs no proof to those who have received a Jewish education. Jewish patriotism is not a cloudy Germanic abstraction, which dissolves itself in discussions about being and appearance, realism and idealism, but a true, natural feeling, the tangibility and simplicity of which require no demonstration, nor can it be disposed of by a demonstration to the contrary.
My grandfather once showed me some olives and dates, and remarked, with beaming eyes, "These were raised in Eretz Yisroel." Everything that reminds the pious Jew of Palestine is as dear to him as the sacred relics of his ancestral house. It is customary that a bag containing earth from the Holy Land is put into the grave of every pious Jew. In this practice, however, as well as in the ritualistic use of the citron and palm branch which, like the bag of earth, are imported from Palestine at great expense, there is something more than the mere carrying out of a religious precept or the prompting of superstitious belief. All feast and fast days of the Jews, their deep piety and reverence for tradition, which almost apotheosizes everything Hebraic, nay even the entire Jewish cult, all have their origin in the patriotism of the Jewish nation. The Jewish "reformers," who have emancipated themselves from Jewish nationality, understand this quite well; they are therefore very careful in expressing their heartfelt opinions. They find it more comfortable to take refuge in the falsehood of the dualistic theory, which sees in every natural and simple feeling, as well as in patriotism, a double essence-an ideal and a real. This dualistic theory is very useful, as it can be adjusted at well, either to the one point of view or to the other.
This false theory is of recent German invention and need not be taken seriously. Spinoza conceived Judaism to be grounded in Nationalism, and held that the restoration of the Jewish kingdom depends entirely upon the will and courage of the Jewish people. Even the rationalistic Mendelssohn did not know of a cosmopolitan Judaism. It is only in modern times that, for the purposes of obtaining equal rights, some German Jews denied the existence of Jewish nationality. Moreover, they have convinced themselves, contrary to the fact that the further existence of Judaism will not at all be threatened by the elimination of its innermost essence.
True, my dear friend, it is a fact which may even come to the attention of our German Jewish reformers, that the Jewish religion is, above all, Jewish patriotism. I always recall, with deep emotion, the scenes that I lived through when a child, at the house of my grandfather at Bonn, on the fast-day commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. On the first day of the month of Ab, which is the first of the nine days preceding the eventful day, the sorrow which had been manifested since the beginning of the "three weeks," assumed a more perceptible form. Even the Sabbath day lost its festive character during these days of national mourning, and was named "the black Sabbath." My pious grandfather was one of those revered scholars who, though not using the Torah as a means of subsistence, yet possessed the title and knowledge of a rabbi. Every evening, at the close of his business day, he spent several hours in studying the Talmud and its commentaries. But in the "nine days" this study was interrupted, and instead be read with his grandchildren the stories and legends concerning the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem. The tears fell upon the snow-white beard of the stern old man as he read those stories, and we children, too, would cry and sob. I remember, especially, one particular passage which impressed us both deeply. It runs as follows:
"When the children of Israel were led into captivity by the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar, their road lay past the grave of our Mother Rachel. As they approached the grave, a bitter wailing was heard. It was the voice of Rachel, weeping at the fate of her unhappy children."
You can now discern clearly the source of the Jewish belief in immortality; it is the product of our remarkable family love. Our immortality extends back into the past as far as the Patriarchs, and in the future to Messiah's reign. It is the Jewish conception of the family which gave rise to the vivid belief in the continuity of the spirit in human history. This belief, which is one of the fairest blossoms of Judaism, the roots of which are to be found in Jewish family love and the trunk in Jewish patriotism, has, in the course of ages, shrunk to the belief in the atomistic immortality of the individual soul; and thus, torn from its roots and trunk, has withered and decayed. It is only in the Jewish conception of the family that the former living belief is still retained. When modern dualism of spirit and matter, the result of the separation of Christianity from Judaism, had found its highest expression in the works of the last Christian philosopher, Descartes, and had threatened to kill all unity of life, there arose again out .of Judaism the belief in the existence of one eternal force in Nature and history. This belief acted as a bulwark against spiritual egoism, on the one hand, and materialistic individualism on the other just as Christian dualism received its mortal blow from the teachings of Spinoza, so does the existence of the ancient Jewish people, with its model family life, act as an antidote against this disease of dualism in practical life. Even today the wholesome influence of the Jewish family life is noticeable in literature, art and science. How much greater will that influence be when once again we create history and literature, when once more the Torah will go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem?
Retrospect-The Damascus Affair-A cry of anguish-Mamserbilbul, i.e., Blood Accusation-Hep, Hep-The escape into France-Arnold Ruge-Napoleon-An honest German-Teutomaniacs-Jefferson-Fatherlands and Sovereigns-Ubi bene ibi Patria-The Jewish incognito-The religion of death-Raise your standard high, my people.
Do I seriously believe in the redemption from exile? You ask this question, and also remind me that I have already expressed myself in my two earlier works, The Sacred History of Humanity and The Triarchy of Europe as a believer in the fulfillment of the Messianic hope. You are certainly going far afield, esteemed friend, in holding me responsible not only for my present opinions, but also for those expressed long ago. Nevertheless, you are right, and I assume full -responsibility for my ideas. But in order not to stray too far from the thought nearest to my heart into my own personal history, I will relate only a few of the most characteristic episodes of my past, which will elucidate my present attitude toward the national question.
Twenty years ago, when an absurd and false accusation against the Jews was imported into Europe from Damascus [the Damascus blood libel - accusation that Jews made Matzoth from the blood of slaughtered Christian children] it evoked in the hearts of the Jews a bitter feeling of agony. Then it dawned upon me for the first time, in the midst of my socialistic activities, that I belong to my unfortunate, slandered, despised and dispersed people. And already, then, though I was greatly estranged from Judaism, I wanted to express my Jewish patriotic sentiment in a cry of anguish, but it was unfortunately immediately stifled in my heart by a greater pain which the suffering of the European Proletariat evoked in me.
With other nations, there is strife only among the various parties, but the Germans clash even when they belong to the same party. The members of my own party have made me loathe the aspirations of the Germans, and by their actions caused me to go into exile several years before the triumphant reaction changed it from a voluntary act into an involuntary one. Only a short time after the February revolution, I went to France and there I learned to know the people which, in the present century, is the foremost champion of social liberty. If this people submits at present to the iron dictatorship of kinghood, it is because the Emperor is true to his revolutionary descent, not in word alone, but also in deed. The moment dynastic interests conflict with the aspirations and strivings of the French people, kinghood will disappear from the soil of France.
After the coup d'etat of the reaction, I withdrew from politics and devoted myself exclusively to natural sciences. Old Dr. Arnold Ruge, a follower of the Young Hegelians, was much shocked at my occupation, which he termed materialism; he could never forgive the "Communist Rabbi Moses" for his heresy in forsaking the "ideal." He hinted frequently, in his lectures at the German Museum, that this scientific materialism is in reality only Imperialism, but not of the German-Barbarossa types but only of the Romance-Bonapartistic stamp. What relation there is between the study of the natural sciences and Bonapartism, the old Ruge never explained clearly. Meanwhile, even since the beginning of the Italian War of Liberation, I discovered a real and strong relationship between my ethnological studies and the modern national movement, which received such a strong impetus since the war. I will, on a later occasion, relate to you some of the conclusions reached through these studies. Let it suffice for the present, to say that these studies convinced me of the inevitable ultimate disappearance of any particular race dominance and the necessary regeneration of all oppressed peoples. First of all, it was my own Jewish people who, since that time, began to interest me and enchant me more and more. Images of my unfortunately brethren who surrounded me in my youth haunted my thoughts, and the long-suppressed feelings burst forth with fresh vigor. The pain and agony which, during the Damascus affair, was only a transient feeling, became now a dominating trait of my character and a lasting mood of my soul. No more did I seek to suppress the voice of my Jewish consciousness, but on the contrary, I carefully followed up its traces and was pleasantly surprised when I found; in my old manuscripts, a passage anticipating my present-day Jewish aspirations.
The following passage was written by me in the year 1840, during the time of the above-mentioned Damascus affair:
"The way and manner in which the persecution of the Jews in Europe, even in enlightened Germany, is looked upon, must necessarily cause a new point of departure in the Jewish life. This tendency demonstrates quite clearly that in spite of the degree of education to which the Occidental Jews have attained, there still exists a barrier between them and the surrounding nations, almost as formidable as in the days of religious fanaticism. Those of our brethren who, for purposes of obtaining emancipation, endeavor to persuade themselves, as well as others, that modern Jews possess no trace of a national feeling, have really lost their heads.6 These men do not understand how it is possible that such a stupid, medieval legend, which was only too well known to our forefathers under the name of Mamserbilbul, should be given credence, even for a moment, in Nineteenth Century Europe. To our educated German Jews, the feeling of hatred toward the Jews displayed by the Germans has always remained an unsolved puzzle. Was not the entire effort of the German Jews, since the days of Mendelssohn, directed toward becoming wholly Germanized, to thinking and feeling as Germans? Have they not striven carefully to eradicate every trace of their ancient nationality? Have they not fought in the War of Liberation? Were they not Teutomaniacs and French devourers? Did we not chant but yesterday with Nicolas Becker, "They shall not possess it, the free German Rhine"? Did I myself not commit the unpardonable stupidity of sending a musical composition of this "German Marseillaise" to the author of this song?
And yet I had to feel, in a personal way, the same disappointment that German Jewry in general experienced after it had given repeated demonstration of its patriotic enthusiasm. I also had to experience the sad fact that the German to whom I sent my manuscript, glowing with patriotic emotion, not only responded to it in an icy tone, but as if to fill the cup of bitterness to the brim, wrote on the other side of his letter, in a disguised script, the words: "You are a Jew." I forgot, then, that the Germans, after the War of Liberation, not only discriminated against the Jews, their erstwhile comrades in arms against the French, but even persecuted them with the frequent cries of Hep, Hep. I, on the other hand, took Becker's Hep, Hep, as a personal insult, and accordingly wrote him a letter, not in a disguised script, making a few unpleasant remarks, which this honest German, who most likely felt ashamed of his rudeness, passed over in silence. To-day I could have apologized to this German poet, for, as I see clearly now, it was by no means intended as a personal insult. It is impossible for any man to be at the same time a Teutomaniac and a friend of the Jews, just as it is impossible to love, simultaneously, the German military rule and German democracy. The real Teutomaniacs of the Arndt and Jahn type will always be honest, reactionary conservatives. The Teutomaniac, in his love of the Fatherland, loves not the State but the race dominance. How, then, can he conceive the granting of equal rights to other races than the dominant one, when equality is still a Utopia for the large masses of Germany? The sympathetic Frenchman assimilates with irresistible attraction every foreign race element. Even the Jew is here a Frenchman. Jefferson said long ago, at the time of the American Revolution, that every man has two fatherlands, first his own and then France. The German, on the other hand, is not at all anxious to assimilate any foreign elements, and would be perfectly happy if he could possess all his fatherlands and dominions for himself. He lacks the primary condition of every chemical assimilative process, namely, warmth.
As long as the Jew submitted in silence to persecution and disgrace, considering it as a punishment of God, all the time confidently hoping for the future restoration of his nation, his pride was not impaired. His only care was to enable his race to reach that glorious future which would amply recompense it for all the suffering it had undergone in the past, when God will mete out punishment to the persecutors and enemies of Israel. Our enlightened Jews, however, possess this strong belief and vigorous hope no more. What good is emancipation to them? Of what avail is it that here and there a Jew rises to high office, when to the name "Jew" there is attached a stigma which every obscure journalist, every stupid fellow, can safely turn to account?
As long as the Jew endeavors to deny his nationality, while at the same time he is unable to deny his own individual existence, as long as he is unwilling to acknowledge that he belongs to that unfortunate and persecuted people, his false position must daily become more intolerable. Wherefore the illusion? The European nations have always considered the existence of the Jews in their midst as an anomaly. We shall always remain strangers among the nations. They may tolerate us and even grant us emancipation, but they will never respect us as long as we place the principle ubi bene ibi patria [where it is good, there is the homeland] above our own great national memories. Though religious fanaticism may cease to operate as a factor in the hatred against the Jews in civilized countries, yet in spite of enlightenment and emancipation, the Jew in exile who denies his nationality will never earn the respect of the nations among whom he dwells. He may become a naturalized citizen, but he will never be able to convince the gentiles of his total separation from his own nationality. It is not the old-type, pious Jew, who would rather suffer than deny his nationality, that is most despised, but the modern Jew who, like the German outcasts in foreign countries, denies his nationality, while the hand of fate presses heavily upon his own people. The beautiful phrases about humanity and enlightenment which he employs as a cloak to hide his treason, his fear of being identified with his unfortunate brethren, will ultimately not protect him from the judgment of public opinion. .In vain does the enlightened Jew hide behind his geographical and philosophical alibi. It is of no avail. Mask yourself a thousand times over, change your name, religion and character, travel throughout the world incognito, so that people may not recognize the Jew in you; yet every insult to the Jewish name will strike you, even more than the pious man who is permeated with the spirit of Jewish solidarity and who fights for the honor of the Jewish name.
Such, my friend, were my thoughts then, when I was actively engaged on behalf of the European Proletariat. My Messianic belief was, at that time, the same that I profess at present, namely, the belief in the regeneration of the historical civilized nations, which will be accomplished only by raising the oppressed nations to the level of the mighty and dominant ones. Now, as at the time I wrote my earlier works, I still believe that Christianity was a step forward on the road toward the goal of humanity, which the Jewish prophets termed the Messianic age. To-day, as ever, I still believe that the present great epoch in universal history had its first manifestation, at least in the history of the human spirit, in the teachings of Spinoza. However, I never believed, nor have I ever asserted, that Christianity is more than a mere episode in the sacred history of humanity, nor even that this epoch of sacredness closed with Spinoza. I have never doubted that we at present sigh and strive for a redemption which Christianity never dreamed of, nor could ever supply. It is true that Christianity shed a certain glow during the dark ages of history, after the sun of ancient civilization had set forever; but its light only revealed the graves of the nations of antiquity. Christianity is, after all, a religion of death, the function of which ceased the moment the nations reawakened into life. The history of the European nations for the last three hundred years amply illustrates the truth of this dictum; but I will restrict myself to calling your attention to the events transpiring at present in Italy. On the ruins of Christian Rome there rises the regenerated Italian people. An influence similar to that of Christianity is exerted by Islam in the East. Both religions teach resignation and submission, and Turkey follows the same policy in regard to Palestine that Austria exercises in Italy. Christianity and Islam are both only inscriptions on the tombstones which barbaric oppression erected upon the graves of weaker peoples. But the soldiers of civilization, the French, are gradually sweeping away the dominance of the barbarians and with their strong Herculean arms will roll off the tombstones from the graves of the supposedly dead peoples and the nations will reawaken once more.
In those countries which form a dividing line between the Occident and the Orient, namely, Russia, Poland, Prussia, Austria, and Turkey, there live millions of our brethren who earnestly believe in the restoration of the Jewish kingdom and pray for it fervently in their daily services. These Jews have preserved, by their belief in Jewish nationality, the very kernel of Judaism in a more faithful manner than have our Occidental Jews. The latter have endeavored to revive much of our religion, but not the great hope which created our faith and preserved it through all storms of time, namely, the hope of the restoration of Jewish nationality. To those millions of my brethren I turn and exclaim, "Carry thy standard high, oh my people!" The Jewish nation still preserves the fruitful seed of life, which, like the grains of corn found in the graves of Egyptian mummies, though buried for thousands of years, have never lost their power of productivity. The moment the rigid form in which it is enclosed is shattered, the seed, placed in the fertile soil of the present environment and given air and light, will strike root and prosper.
The rigid forms of orthodoxy, the existence of which was justified before the century of rebirth, will naturally, through the productive power of the national idea and the historical cult, relax and become fertile. It is only with the national rebirth that the religious genius of the Jews, like the giant of legend touching mother earth, will be endowed with new strength and again be reinspired with the prophetic spirit. No aspirant for enlightenment, not even a Mendelssohn, has so far succeeded in crushing the hard shell with which Rabbinism has encrusted Judaism without, at the same time, destroying the national ideal in its innermost essence.
The noble representatives of the German spirit-Patriotic Jews-The historian Graetz-Mercier's Essai sur la Litterature Juive-Autumn and Spring equinoxes of universal history and its storms-Sabbatai Zevi Chasidim-Natural and historical religion-The Jewish Mother-Victor Hugo-Boerne, Baruch, Itzig.
You think my judgment in regard to the relation of the Germans to our brethren, as well as of the progressive German Jews to the Jewish people, too severe and dogmatic. You say that there are many noble spirits among the Germans who have banished from their hearts every trace of race prejudice and are permeated with the spirit of justice and humanity. And as for the progressive Jews, you think that many of them have always displayed a fine spirit of self-sacrifice when the honor of their religion or the welfare of their brethren called for -it; and that those noble spirits came principally from the ranks of those who distinguished themselves in the field of science, or commerce, or industry, and thus acquired high positions in society. To these just strictures I willingly subscribe, for I admit that my judgment was too general in its character, and it can only be justified by the fact that it was written under the influence of the Damascus affair. To-day I would hesitate very much before subscribing to it. It cannot enter my mind, at present, to deny the Teutonic race, and especially the German people, whose mental power I esteem so highly, the ability to rise, by means of progress, above race prejudice. The German spirit has other representatives than patriotic Romanticists and philosophic book-dealers. A nation that produced men like Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Hegel, Humboldt and many more champions of humanity, must certainly possess the ability to rise to the heights of spirituality and idealism.
It occurs to me, in connection with what was said before, to relate a story, which will demonstrate the ability of the German spirit to overcome race prejudice. It was told to me by Ludwig Wihl. You have certainly heard of Hecker, who played such an important role in the political affairs of Baden in the forties, and even as late as the famous revolutionary year, 1848. A pure German.' of noblest birth, he began to attract attention in Baden by his much-heralded liberalism, immediately after the year of the Damascus affair. But do you know against which of the "hereditary enemies" this knight of German liberalism directed his attacks? Against the French, you will say? No, this hereditary enemy was rather harmless at the time, and under the leadership of Guizot and Louis Philippe. Was it against the Russians? Not against them. The hereditary enemy, in the attack against which Hecker won his spurs, was none other than the terrible and mighty people, the Jews. Hecker published a series of anonymous articles in the Frankfurter Journal against the emancipation of the Jews. A few years afterward it was this same Hecker who addressed a memorial, on behalf of Baden, to the Berlin Landtag of the Confederacy, favoring the emancipation of the Jews. And when people reproached him for his former opposition to the Jews, he openly confessed, that for a long time he had been unable to overcome his antipathy to the Jews, but that finally the principle of justice and humanity had triumphed in him.
The democrats of 1848 undoubtedly fully demonstrated their superiority over the demagogues of the "War of Liberation," the Romantic lads of the Jahn and Arndt type, whom they left far behind on the road of progress. And yet, on the basis of my long experience, I feel inclined to assert that Germany as a whole, in spite of its collective intellectuality, is in its practical social life far behind the rest of the civilized nations of Europe. The race war must first be fought out and definitely settled before social and humane ideas become part and parcel of the German people, as was the case with the Romance peoples which, after a long historical process, finally defeated race antagonism.
Willing as I am to correct my judgment in regard to German Anti-Semitism, I am still more willing to alter my former opinion, in accordance with your strictures, of our progressive Occidental Jews, and especially those of Germany. Of late there is to be observed in Judaism a wholesome spirit of reaction against the once dominating tendency of cosmopolitan philanthropy, that vague form of humanity which, as Jean Jacques Rousseau aptly remarked, professes to love men in general, so as not to be burdened with the immediate duties of benevolence to the individual. Signs of endeavor to introduce into Judaism a more healthy and natural spirit, I notice everywhere: in America, where new Jewish communities are founded and synagogues built every year; in France, where an attempt was made to found an Alliance Israelite Universelle, which may become an important factor in Jewish life, provided it be animated by a thorough Jewish national spirit; in the German and French literatures, where writers like Kompert, Strauben, Weill and Bernstein have portrayed Jewish life faithfully and beautifully, and with no small measure of success. But most of all is this tendency to regeneration prominent in the literature devoted to the science of Judaism, which, since the publication of the epoch-making History of the Jews, by Graetz, has developed such force that it will soon be able to overcome the nebulous Christianizing spiritualism of the assimilators.
Still earlier, Gabriel Riesser, one of our most progressive German Jews, had the courage to name his magazine, devoted to the interests of our political and civil rights, The Jew Dr. Ludwig Philipson, also, did not hesitate to call his spiritual child by .the name Israel. Again, among the lyric poets, we have Ludwig Wihl who uses his muse to sing of the great memories of our immortal nation. It is certainly a sign of the times that Ludwig Wihl's Westostliche Schwalben, which for the last fifteen years hardly made any impression in Germany, was recently translated into French, with an introduction which attracted the attention of the French press to the Jewish people. Pierre Mercier, the French translator of the Schwalben in his Essai sur la Litterature Juive, an essay on Jewish Literature, expresses his opinion of this literature in a way which I cannot fully endorse. He views Judaism in the same way that Jesus did, namely, from the narrow and one-sided point of view of spiritualism. Yet his conception of the spirit that dominates the Torah is, in spite of its defects, vastly superior in its depth of historical understanding and broadness of sympathy with the Jewish genius, to those of the German historians who carry their Jew-hatred even to the Bible.
More interesting is his judgment of modern Jewish literature, which he considers an antidote against the modem decadent romantic literature. But he errs when he thinks that the wholesome source of this modem Jewish literature is Jewish spiritualization. Jewish life was never wholly spiritualized. Even the Essenes, who flourished among the Jews at the time of the birth of Christianity and to whom Christianity owes its origin, were not a thoroughly spiritualistic sect, and not even the primitive Christians can be considered as such. When the Essenic sect finally did become spiritualized through Christianity, it severed its relations with Judaism, and not even a trace of it can be found. Almost every. important point of departure in the history of the development of the great historical nations was accompanied by movements within that nation which is the bearer and creator of historical religion. The passing from antiquity into the Middle Ages, this autumn equinox of humanity, was heralded by great and stormy disturbances within Judaism which gave rise to Christianity, on the one hand, and to those sects within the pale of Judaism itself, on the other. But the sects were not of an enduring character; as soon as the crisis passed, they disappeared without leaving any traces behind. Also to-day, during the spring equinox of humanity, will the glorious future to which we strive be heralded by movements in Judaism. And although the world has not taken any cognizance of these stirrings in Judaism as yet, they are not therefore of less value than those that took place at the transition period from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Already at the beginning of the modern period, a Messianic movement, such 'as never occurred since the destruction of the Jewish State at the time of Bar Kochba, took hold of Eastern as well as Occidental Jews, a movement the false prophet of which was Sabbatai Zevi, but whose true prophet was Spinoza. Our modern Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes, also I mean the reformers, the rabbinists and the Chasidim will disappear from Jewish history after the crisis has passed, the last crisis in universal history, when all ,the nations, and with them the Jewish people, will have awakened to a new life. Judaism does not allow either spiritualistic or materialistic sects to exist in its midst. Jewish life, like its divine ideal and goal, is undivided, and it is this Monism of Jewish life which acts as an antidote against modern materialism, which is only the reverse side of Christian spiritualism. I do not speak here of philosophical systems or of religious dogmas, or of life conceptions, but of life itself. Life is a product of the mental activity of the race, which forms its social institutions according to its inborn instincts and typical inclinations. Out of this primitive life-forming source springs later the life-view of a race, which in its turn influences life or rather modifies it, but is never able to alter essentially the primal type which continually reappears and takes the ascendancy.
It was the German race that endowed the Christian world with the double aspect of spiritualism and materialism. The author of the Essai sur la Litterature juive is right when he says that we are exceedingly generous in giving the entire credit for the modern love mania to Christianity. It is rather due to the medieval feeling of chivalry. The circumstances which produced this romantic sentimentality arose, not from the influence of Christianity alone, but from the combination of Christianity with old Germanic traditions. Without the contribution of the race genius of the Northern peoples, Christianity would have never occupied that position in universal history which it has occupied for centuries. Had it not been for those brave adventurers, the Teutonic knights of the Middle Ages, whose personal life oscillated between the two opposite poles of gross sensualism and the most abstract mysticism, Christian dualism would never have succeeded in impressing modern life so thoroughly and deeply. Thus it is not theory that forms life, but race; and likewise, it is not doctrine that made the Biblical-patriarchal life, which is the source of Jewish cult, but it is the patriarchal life of the Jewish ancestors that is the creative basis of the religion of the Bible, which is nothing else but a national historical cult developed out of family traditions.
Before the appearance of the Germanic races, there were only two forms of religion, the natural and the historical. The first found its typical expression in Greece, the second in Judaea. Just as the Greek cult had brought to light the perfection and charm of Nature, so Judaism revealed to us the force of the divine law in history. With the entrance of the Germanic race, both natural and historical religion lost their hold over the human mind and their influence was replaced by an apotheosis of the individual. Christianity found among the Northern races a natural inclination for that which in Christianity itself was only a result of the decay of the ancient nationalities, namely, that view of life which sees neither in Nature nor in history the unified divine life, but only the isolated existence of the individual.
As long as the Germanic race dominates Europe, there can be no development of national life. The "religion of love," separated from natural and historical life, had only the salvation of the individual soul in view. The apotheosis of the individual terminated finally in a sentimental, feminine cult, which even to the present day possesses great attraction for our romantic Jews and inspires in them a sympathy for Christianity.
"Love," says Mercier, "was glorified and extolled, in all forms, as the noblest aim in life. The virtue of women, and even their vice, assumed an undue and all too important place in life, so that woman herself came to believe that the fate of the world depends upon her fidelity or infidelity. She therefore shared the fate of all those whom fortune has fondled too excessively, namely through undue flattery she became corrupted. And so it happened that love absorbed all social forces, all family tradition, and finally dissolved itself into sentimentality.
The Jews alone had the good sense to subordinate sexual to maternal love, Alexander Weill puts the following words in the mouth of a Jewish mother: "Should a true Jewish mother care for love? Love is a wicked form of idolatry. A Jewess must love only her God, her parents and her children. ..." The little old grandmother in Komper't's story says: "God cannot be present everywhere at the same time; He therefore created the mother..." Maternal love is represented in the Jewish novel as the basis of family life, as its passion and mystery. It is .the same type of the Jewish mother which is repeated in all Jewish novels. There rises before me the picture of the Jewish mother, her face serene but pale, a melancholy smile plays around her lips and her deep, penetrating eye seems to gaze toward the distant future."
When you read these words of Mercier, you will certainly be reminded of your own mother, to whom this description aptly applies. There arose before me, also, on reading this description of the Jewish mother, the image of my own mother, whose features I still remember. I lost her in my youth at the age of fourteen, but till recently she appeared to me almost every night in my dreams, and I remember her words, as if they were uttered but yesterday, which she spoke to me when she visited me in Bonn. We were already in bed and had just finished the evening prayer. Then, speaking in an animated voice, she began: "Listen, my child, you must study diligently. Mohrich was one of my ancestors, and you are fortunate that you are studying under your grandfather. It is written that 'when grandfather and grandchild study the Torah together, the study of the divine Law will never more forsake the family, but will be handed down from generation to generation.'" The words of my mother must have impressed me deeply, for I still remember them distinctly, although I have never since heard nor read about the legend in regard to grandfather and grandchild.
Thus the thought of his children constitutes the central point around which the life and love of the Jew moves. Love is too strong an emotion in the Jewish heart, too Vast, to spend itself in sexual attraction and not embrace in its depth the generations of the future. And because of the fact that the eye of Jewish love is turned toward the future, the Jewish people has produced so many holy seers. A childless union is nowhere so much deplored as among the Jews. According to the rabbis, a childless man is like unto the dead. Only the Jews could heartily join the great French poet, Victor Hugo, in his prayer:
Preserve my loved ones, Lord, I pray,
My kith and kin,-my enemies spare,
That never in the evil day
Our summers may of flowers be bare,
Our cages lacking trilling key,
Our honeycombs devoid of bee,
Or childless house to ever see.
I close with the above verses cited by Mercier, a subject which we discussed at some length, but in the interests of the national regeneration of our people, it must be constantly emphasized. If it is gratifying to see that inspired poets and writers champion the cause of our nationality, it is still more fortunate that the loyalty to a people, with whose help the oppressed nation will reawaken, was not unknown among the Jews. What would this people, I mean the French, think of us, when during the springtime of nations, the daybreak of the French Revolution, not a sound of loyalty and sympathy was heard in the midst of our nation? But thanks to the French translator of the Schwalben" the stain was removed from our name. Although neither Wihl nor the other Jewish writers and poets have expressed themselves for our own political regeneration, they have, at least, shown to the world that progressive Judaism also cherishes patriotic memories, and that through some stimulus this poetic and ideal patriotism may be converted into a strong and mighty force of action. And, therefore, I do not doubt, that from now on, progressive Jews will labor for the political regeneration of our people with the same energy that other Jews, in other times, have labored for the emancipation of the Jews in the lands of exile. The springtime of nations which is about to merge into the fruit-ripening Summer, will not pass without leaving a lasting impression upon our Occidentat brethren. Among the Jews, also, Spring will quietly fructify the buds, and the bloom of a new life will suddenly surprise every beholder. The young Jewish generation, sensitive to every high and noble ideal, will enthusiastically join the Jewish national movement; and once the young branch turns its growing force in that direction, even the barren trunk will soon be covered with leaves and flowers that will be an ornament to Israel.
Till now, however, beloved friend, the barren wood preponderates in Occidental Judaism. Most of the German Jews, as soon as they come in contact with European civilization, begin to feel ashamed of their religion and descent. The Germans have so frequently and thoroughly demonstrated to us that our nationality is an obstacle to our "inner" emancipation, that we have finally come to believe it ourselves and, giving up our Jewish culture and denying our race, have made every effort to be deserving of the "blond" Germanism. Yet in spite of the excellent mathematicians among them, our Jewish Teutomaniacs, who bartered away their Judaism for State positions, grossly miscalculated their chances. It did not avail Meyerbeer that he painstakingly avoided the use of a Jewish theme as the subject of any of his operas; he did not escape, on that account, the hatred of the Germans. The old honest Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung seldom refrained, while mentioning his name, from remarking parenthetically, "Jacob Meyer Lippman Beer." The German patriot Boerne, likewise, did not gain much by changing his family name, Baruch, into that of Boerne. He admits it himself. "Whenever my enemies founder upon the rock of Borne," he writes, "they throw out, as an anchor of safety, the name Baruch." I have experienced it personally, not only with opponents, but even with my own party members. In personal controversy they always make use of the "Hep" weapon, and in Germany it is always effective. I have made it easy for them to wield their weapon by adopting my Old Testament name. Moses. I regret exceedingly that my name is not Itzig.
Continued: Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem, Part II
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