Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Zionism - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

Zionism - A Book of Jewish Thoughts


ZIONISM

ONE thing is to me certain, high above any doubt: the movement will continue. I know not when I shall die, but Zionism will never die.
THEODOR HERZL, 1898.

ZIONISM is the lineal heir of the attachment to Zion which led the Babylonian exiles under Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple, and which flamed up in the heroic struggle of the Maccabees against Antiochus Epiphanes. The idea that it is a set-back of Jewish history is a controversial fiction. The great bulk of the Jewish people have throughout their history remained faithful to the dream of a restoration of their national life in Judea.
The Zionist movement is to-day the greatest popular movement that Jewish history has ever known.
LUCIEN WOLF, 1910,
in Encyclopaedia Britannica.


ALL over the world Jews are resolved that our common Judaism shall not be crushed out by short-sighted fanatics for local patriotism; and, in so far as Zionism strengthens this sense of the solidarity of our common Judaism, we are all Zionists.
I. ABRAHAMS, 1905.




Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Book Of Books - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Book Of Books - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 

THE BOOK OF BOOKS

THE Bible, what a book! Large and wide as the world, based on the abysses of creation, and towering aloft into the blue secrets of heaven. Sunrise and sunset, promise and fulfilment, birth and death—the whole drama of humanity—are contained in this one book. It is the Book of Books. The Jews may readily be consoled at the loss of Jerusalem, and the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant, and all the crown jewels of King Solomon. Such forfeiture is as naught when weighed against the Bible, the imperishable treasure that they have saved. If I do not err, it was Mahomet who named the Jews the ‘People of the Book’, a name which in Eastern countries has remained theirs to the present day, and is deeply significant. That one book is to the Jews their country. Within the well-fenced boundaries of that book they live and have their being; they enjoy their inalienable citizenship, are strong to admiration; thence none can dislodge them. Absorbed in the perusal of their sacred book they little heeded the changes that were wrought in the real world around them. Nations rose and vanished, States flourished and decayed, revolutions raged throughout the earth—but they, the Jews, sat poring over this book, unconscious of the wild chase of time that rushed on above their heads.
H. HEINE, 1830.




Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Bible - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Bible - A Book of Jewish Thoughts


THE BIBLE15

AS to an ancient temple
Whose vast proportions tower
With summit inaccessible
Among the stars of heaven;
While the resistless ocean
Of peoples and of cities
Breaks at its feet in foam,
Work that a hundred ages
Hallow: I bow to thee.
From out thy mighty bosom
Rise hymns sublime, and melodies
Like to the heavens singing
Praises to their Creator;
While at the sound, an ecstasy,
A trance, fills all my being
With terror and with awe—
I feel my proud heart thrilling
With throbs of holy pride.
Oh! come, thou high beneficent
Heritage of my fathers;
Our country, altar, prophet,
Our life, our all, art thou!
In doubt, in woe, in outrage,
In pangs of dissolution
That wring our tortured hearts,
Come, ope the rosy portals
Of Hope to us once more.
Ah me! what countless miseries,
What tears all unregarded.
Hast thou consoled and softened
With gentle voice and holy!
How many hearts that struggle
With doubt, remorse, anxiety,
With all the woes of ages,
Dost thou, on ample pinions,
Lift purified to Heaven!
Listen! the world is rising,
Seeking, unquiet, thrilling,
Awakens the new century
To new hopes and new visions.
Men hear upon the mountains
Strange and life-giving voices;
Every soul seems to wait,
And from that Book the signal
For the new day shall come.
DAVID LEVI, 1846.
(Trans. Mary A. Craig.)

FROM century to century, even unto this day, through the fairest regions of civilization, the Bible dominates existence. Its vision of life moulds states and societies. Its Psalms are more popular in every country than the poems of the nation’s own poets. Beside this one book with its infinite editions ... all other literatures seem ‘trifles light as air’.
ISRAEL ZANGWILL, 1895.





Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

A Jewish Version Of The Bible - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

A Jewish Version Of The Bible - A Book of Jewish Thoughts



A JEWISH VERSION OF THE BIBLE

I

OUR great claim to the gratitude of mankind is that we gave to the world the word of God, the Bible. We have stormed heaven to snatch down this heavenly gift, as the Paitan16 puts it. We threw ourselves into the breach, and covered it with our bodies against every attack. We allowed ourselves to be slain in hundreds and thousands rather than become unfaithful to it, and we bore witness to its truth, and watched over its purity, in the face of a hostile world. The Bible is our sole raison d’être; and it is just this which the Higher Anti-Semitism, both within and without our ranks, is seeking to destroy, denying all our claims for the past and leaving us without hope for the future. This intellectual persecution can only be fought with intellectual weapons, and unless we make an effort to recover our Bible we are irrevocably lost from both worlds.
S. SCHECHTER, 1903.

II

THERE is an old tradition that the day on which, for the first time, the Pentateuch was translated into a foreign language—into Greek—was considered by Jews as a day of great national calamity. It was feared that the translation, being incorrect, might become the source of error instead of being the fountain of divine truths. The fear felt and expressed about two thousand years ago has been fully justified by the history of the several versions that have since been undertaken, and by the large number of false doctrines, supposed to be founded on the authority of Holy Writ, whilst really originating in mistakes made by translators.
M. FRIEDLÄNDER, 1886.

NEW translations of the Bible have appeared and are appearing in various languages; but none of them has made, or intends to make, a complete and exhaustive use of Jewish contributions to the subject. Great university professors who know much, very much, but who do not know Jewish literature, unconsciously assume that they do not know it because it is not worth knowing—a judgement that no man has a right to pronounce until he has studied it—and this they have not done.
M. SULZBERGER, 1898.

THE book, commonly known as the Authorized, or King James’s Version, has been so long looked upon with a deep veneration almost bordering on superstitious dread, that, to most persons, the very thought of furnishing an improved translation of the Divine records will be viewed as an impious assumption and a contempt of the wisdom of former ages. Since the time of King James, however, the world has progressed in biblical knowledge no less than in all other branches of science; and giant minds have laboured to make clear what formerly was obscure.
ISAAC LEESER, 1855.

IFULLY admit the great merits of the Revised Version of the Bible. It corrects many faults, amends many mistranslations of the so-called King James’s Version, without impairing the antique charm of the English Bible, without putting out of tune the music so dear to our ears. Yet even that great work, compiled by the most eminent scholars and learned theologians in the land, is disfigured by errors due to dogmatic preconceptions.
HERMANN ADLER, 1896.

III

THE present translation17 has a character of its own. It aims to combine the spirit of Jewish tradition with the results of biblical scholarship, ancient, mediaeval, and modern. It gives to the Jewish world a translation of the Scriptures done by men imbued with the Jewish consciousness, while the non-Jewish world, it is hoped, will welcome a translation that presents many passages from the Jewish traditional point of view.
The Jew cannot afford to have his own Bible translation prepared for him by others. He cannot have it as a gift, even as he cannot borrow his soul from others. If a new country and a new language metamorphose him into a new man, the duty of this new man is to prepare a new garb and a new method of expression for what is most sacred and most dear to him.
From TRANSLATORS’ PREFACE,
Jewish Version of the Bible, 1916.



IV

SCRIPTURE must be interpreted according to its plain, natural sense, each word according to the context. Traditional exposition, however, may also be taken to heart, as it is said: ‘Is not My word like as fire?’—consisting of many sparks—‘and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?’—and therefore capable of various explanations.
RASHI, 1080.






Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

Israel The People Of Revelation - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

Israel The People Of Revelation - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


ISRAEL THE PEOPLE OF REVELATION

HAD there been no Israelites there would be no Torah. Israel’s pre-eminence is not derived from Moses, it is Moses whose pre-eminence is due to Israel. The Divine love went out towards the multitude of the children of the Patriarchs, the Congregation of Jacob. Moses was merely the divinely chosen instrument through whom God’s Blessing was to be assured unto them. We are called not the people of Moses, but the people of God.
YEHUDAH HALEVI, 1141.

THE Greeks were not all artists, but the Greek nation was alone capable of producing a Phidias or a Praxiteles. The same was the case with Judaism. It is certain that not all Jews were prophets; the exclamation, ‘Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!’ was a pious wish. Nevertheless, Israel is the people of Revelation. It must have had a native endowment that could produce, that could rear, such men. Nor does Judaism claim to be the work of single individuals; it does not speak of the God of Moses, nor of the God of the Prophets, but of the God of Israel. The fact that the greatest prophet left his work unfinished contains a profound truth. No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. Thereon our ancient teachers remark: ‘His grave should not serve as a place of pilgrimage whither men go to do honour to one man, and thus raise him above the level of man’.
A. GEIGER, 1865.




Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

Jewish Literature - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

Jewish Literature - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


JEWISH LITERATURE

RABBINISM was a sequel to the Bible, and if, like all sequels, it was unequal to its original, it nevertheless shared its greatness. The works of all Jews up to the modern period were the sequel to this sequel. Through them all may be detected the unifying principle that literature in its truest sense includes life itself; that intellect is the handmaid to conscience; and that the best books are those which best teach men how to live. This underlying unity gave more harmony to Jewish literature than is possessed by many literatures more distinctively national. The maxim ‘Righteousness delivers from death’ applies to books as well as to men. A literature whose consistent theme is Righteousness, is immortal.
I. ABRAHAMS, 1899.



Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Prophets - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Prophets - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


THE PROPHETS20

I

’TIS a little people, but it has done great things. It had but a precarious hold on a few crags and highlands between the desert and the deep sea, yet its thinkers and sages with eagle vision took into their thought the destinies of all humanity, and rang out in clarion voice a message of hope to the downtrodden of all races. Claiming for themselves and their people the duty and obligations of a true aristocracy, they held forth to the peoples ideals of a true democracy founded on right and justice. Their voices have never ceased to re-echo around the world, and the greatest things that have been done to raise men’s lot have been always in the spirit, often in the name, of the Hebrew prophets.
JOSEPH JACOBS, 1919.

THE mere foretelling of future events is the lowest stage of prophecy, and in the eyes of the great Prophets of Israel it was of quite secondary importance. Their aim was to fathom the secrets of holiness; and their striving, by means of admonition and moral suasion, to guide the peoples in the paths which lead mankind to spiritual and political well-being.
SHEMTOB IBN SHEMTOB, 1489.



II

IT was part of the spirit of Prophecy to be dumb-founded at human ferocity as at something against nature and reason. In the presence of the iniquities of the world, the heart of the Prophets bled as though from a wound of the Divine Spirit, and their cry of indignation re-echoed the wrath of the Deity. Greece and Rome had their rich and poor, just as Israel had in the days of Jeroboam II, and the various classes continued to slaughter one another for centuries; but no voice of justice and pity arose from the fierce tumult. Therefore the words of the Prophets have more vitality at the present time, and answer better to the needs of modern souls, than all the classic masterpieces of antiquity.
JAMES DARMESTETER, 1891.

IN Hebrew prophecy we have no crumbling monument of perishable stone, the silent witness of a past that is dead and gone, but the quickening breath of the spirit itself. In the ardent souls of the Prophets the thought of Deity was centred as in a burning-glass—a fire that consumed them, a shining light for men. Theirs was the abiding sense of an eternal Will and Purpose underlying human transient schemes, an eternal Presence, transfusing all of life as with a hidden flame; so that love of country, love of right, love of man, were not alone human things, but also divine, because they were embraced and focussed in a single living unity—the love of God.
JOSEPHINE LAZARUS, 1893.







Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Work Of The Rabbis - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Work Of The Rabbis - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


THE WORK OF THE RABBIS22

JUDAISM and the Bible are by no means identical; the Bible is only one constituent part of Judaism, though the most fundamental one. Who taught the average Jew to understand his Judaism, to love his religion and his God? Without the zeal of the Rabbis, the Bible would never have become the guide of every Jew. They translated it into the vernacular for the people, and expounded it to the masses. They taught them not to despair under the tortures of the present, but to look forward to the future. At the same time they developed the spirit of the Bible and never lost sight of the lofty teachings of the Prophets. It is the immortal merit of the unknown Rabbis of the centuries immediately before and after the common era that they found and applied the proper ‘fences’ for the preservation of Judaism, and that they succeeded in rescuing real morality and pure monotheism for the ages that were to follow.
A. BÜCHLER, 1908.



Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

Israel's History Never Ending - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

Israel's History Never Ending - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 




ISRAEL’S HISTORY NEVER-ENDING

ISRAEL’S ‘Heroic History’, as Manasseh ben Israel called it, is in truth never-ending. Line upon line is still being added, and finis will never be written on the page of Jewish history till the Light which shineth more and more unto the Perfect Day shall fall upon it, and illumine the whole beautiful world. Each Jew and each Jewess is making his or her mark, or his or her stain, upon the wonderful unfinished history of the Jews, the history which Herder called the greatest poem of all time. ‘Ye are my witnesses’, saith the Lord. Loyal and steadfast witnesses is it, or self-seeking and suborned ones? A witness of some sort every Jew born is bound to be. He must fulfil his mission, and through good report and through evil report, and though it be only writ in water, he must add his item of evidence to the record that all who run may read.
LADY MAGNUS, 1886.

THE story of this little sect—the most remarkable survival of the fittest known to humanity—in no way corresponds with its numbers; it is not a tale of majorities. It is a story that begins very near the beginning of history, and shows little sign of drawing to a conclusion. It is a story that has chapters in every country on earth, that has borne the impress of every period. All men and all ages pass through it in unending procession.
ISRAEL ZANGWILL, 1895.





Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Meaning Of Jewish History - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Meaning Of Jewish History - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


THE MEANING OF JEWISH HISTORY

MAN is made man by history. It is history that causes the men of historic nations to be more civilized than the savage. The Jew recognizes that he is made what he is by the history of his fathers, and feels he is losing his better self so far as he loses his hold on his past history.
JOSEPH JACOBS, 1889.

ISRAEL is the heart of mankind.
YEHUDAH HALEVI.

THE high-road of Jewish history leads to wide outlooks. That which is great and lasting in Jewish history is the spiritual wealth accumulated through the ages; the description of the fierce battles fought between the powers of darkness and light, of freedom and persecution, of knowledge and ignorance. Our great men are the heroes of the school and the sages of the synagogue, not the knights of the sanguinary battlefield. No widow was left to mourn through our victory, no mother for her lost son, no orphan for the lost father.
M. GASTER, 1906.




Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz

The Hallowing Of Jewish History - A Book of Jewish Thoughts

The Hallowing Of Jewish History - A Book of Jewish Thoughts 


THE HALLOWING OF JEWISH HISTORY

THE first part of Jewish history, the Biblical part, is a source from which, for many centuries, millions of human beings belonging to the most diverse denominations have derived instruction, solace, and inspiration. Its heroes have long ago become types, incarnations, of great ideas. The events it relates serve as living ethical formulas. But a time will come—perhaps it is not very far off—when the second half of Jewish history, the record of the two thousand years of the Jewish people’s life after the Biblical period, will be accorded the same treatment. The thousand years’ martyrdom of the Jewish people, its unbroken pilgrimage, its tragic fate, its teachers of religion, its martyrs, philosophers, champions—this whole epic will in days to come sink deep into the memory of men. It will speak to the heart and conscience of men, not merely to their curious mind. It will secure respect for the silvery hair of the Jewish people, a people of thinkers and sufferers. It is our firm conviction that the time is approaching in which the second half of Jewish history will be to the noblest part of thinking humanity what its first half has long been to believing humanity, a source of sublime moral truths.
S. M. DUBNOW, 1893.





Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz