Regenerated Judaism and the sacrificial cult - Two thousand year yearning of the nation for a new center in Zion - Patriotic songs and prayers - An old legend - Signs of the times - The time of return approaches - The Eastern Question and the Jews - A Frenchman's enthusiastic appeal.
You ask me to come back to earth from the starry regions of philosophy to the soil of Palestine. You certainly love the antithesis. As an offset to the noble and exalted historical religion of my regenerated Judaism, you oppose the "bloody sacrificial cult" of the ancient Israelites, and claim that orthodox Jews will never agree to a rebuilding of the Temple without, at the same time, reinstituting this ancient cult. You assume, therefore, that my love for my people will not go so far as to consent to an introduction of the sacrificial cult.
I cannot grant you, however, either the supposed conditio sine qua non, on the part of orthodox Jews, or your hypothetical conception of the degree of my patriotism. In regard to my deep, reawakened, though belated love for my people, it seems to me that you forget that real, strong love, the love which dominates body and spirit alike, is always blind. Its blindness consists in this, that it is not the perfection and excellent qualities of the beloved which are the object of love's desire, but the beloved being as it is, with all its good and bad traits. Love desires not the object of affection because it hopes to improve its bad traits, but because it loves the undivided, individual entity. The scar on the face of my beloved does not detract from my love for her, but is itself dear to me; dearer, perhaps, than her beautiful eyes, for other women may have beautiful eyes, but the scar is characteristic only of my beloved's individuality. Were, really, the sacrificial cult an inseparable part of Jewish nationality, I would unhesitatingly accept it. But as long as I have not learned anything better, I am convinced to the contrary. Our exalted historical religion, a religion which has progressed from one enlightened condition to another, which breathes only love for humanity and the knowledge of God cannot have the sacrificial cult as an essential part of its being. But in spite of my personal conviction, let me not venture to anticipate history. There are certain questions which a priori, namely, in a practical way, seem to be insolvable, but which, in the course of historical development, solve themselves. To such questions belongs also the question of cult in general, and the development of a definite form of divine worship out of the moral, religious spirit of that nation which, at every period of its development, .vas the creator of its own religion in particular.
Dr. Sachs, from whose classical work I have already cited excerpts, when speaking of the rigidity of the religious norms in exile and contrasting with this rigidity their former historical development on the soil of Palestine, says: "The ground of a living, historical reality is too wide to be encompassed by a ready-made system of norms and rules; nay, even the fixed norms themselves cannot withstand the strong influence of the free-moving expression of life and remain unchanged. The rushing current of a living movement undermines the obstructing dikes and penetrates by its windings and meanderings into the hard rocks of the shore." It is only after the extinction of the national life of the people, which molded the religious norms in live fashion, that these norms have assumed a form of rigidity. But this rigidity will disappear from the religious life, as soon as the extinct national life comes into existence again, when the current of a national historical development forces itself anew into the hard and rigid religious forms.
The holy spirit, the creative genius of the people, out of which Jewish life and teaching arose, deserted Israel when its children began to feel ashamed of their nationality. But this spirit will again animate our people when it awakens to a new life, and creates new things of which we have at present not even a conception. No one can foretell what form and shape the newborn life and spirit of the regenerated nations will assume. As regards the religious cult, and especially the Jewish cult, it will certainly be different from the present as well as from the ancient form.
Regarded by itself, the sacrificial cult, as described in the Bible, does not contain anything repellent to the spirit of humanitarianism. On the contrary, as compared with the horrible custom of human sacrifices practiced by all the nations of antiquity, the Jewish practice of animal sacrifices was a splendid victory for the spirit of humanitarianism. Be that as it may, whether animal sacrifices are regarded as a concession on the part of the Torah to Paganism, in order to prevent a relapse on the part of the people into idolatry, or whether it be maintained that it contains a hidden symbolism, the meaning of which is at present unknown, one thing is well established, that the Jews, in spite of their having brought "bloody sacrifices," possess greater abhorrence for bloodshed and the eating of blood than modern nations which consume the blood together, with the meat, without sacrifice or ceremony. But the sacrificial cult has not been practiced for the last eighteen hundred years, and therefore our new-fashioned Jews are ashamed of it. And yet it seems that even to the present day, sacrifice is the natural expression of the pious spirit of the child. Goethe tells us, that in his childhood, the only way he could satisfy his religious craving was by means of sacrifice to the Eternal, which he performed by lighting a bonfire and throwing therein his favorite toys.
On the other hand, the prophets of old, and even the rabbis of the Middle Ages, never considered the sacrificial cult essential to the Jewish religion as do modern rigidly orthodox Jews, who look upon it as inseparable from our national restoration. Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai declared, basing his utterance on the prophetic saying in Hosea vi 6, that sacrifices can be substituted by benevolence, and a number of modern rabbinical authorities, who do not recognize the right of the modern descendants of Aaron to the priesthood, have yet declared themselves zealously for the restoration of a Jewish State. The cult that we are going to introduce in the New Jerusalem can and must, for the present, remain an open question. Rome was not built in a day, and the New Jerusalem must needs take time for its construction.
What we have to do at present for the regeneration of the Jewish nation is, first, to keep alive the hope of the political rebirth of our people, and next, to reawaken that hope where it slumbers. When political conditions in the Orient shape themselves so as to permit the organization of a beginning of the restoration of a Jewish State, this beginning will express itself in the founding of Jewish colonies in the land of their ancestors, to which enterprise France will undoubtedly lend a hand. You know how substantial was the share of the Jews in the subscriptions to the fund raised for the benefit of the Syrian war victims. It was Cremieux who took the initiative in the matter, the same Cremieux who twenty years ago traveled with Sir Moses Montefiore to Syria in order to seek protection for the Jews against the persecutions of the Christians. In the Journal des Debats, which very seldom accepts poems for publication, there appeared, at the time of the Syrian expedition, a poem by Leon Halevi, who at the time, perhaps, thought as little of the rebirth of Israel as Cremieux, yet his beautiful stanzas could not have been produced otherwise than in a spirit of foreseeing this regeneration. When the poet of the Schwalben mournfully complains:
Where tarries the hero? Where tarries the wise?
Who will, O my people, revive you anew;
Who will save you, and give you again
A place in the sun?
The French poet answers his query with enthusiastic confidence:
Ye shall be reborn, ye fearsome cities!
A breath of security will always hover
O'er your banks where our colors have fluttered!
Come again a call supreme!
Au revoir is not adieu-
France is all to those she loves,
The future belongs to God.
Alexander Weill sang about the same time:
There is a people stiff of neck,
Dispersed from the Euphrates to the Rhine,
Its whole life centered in a Book
Oft times bent, yet ever straightened;
Braving hatred and contempt,
It only dies to live again
In nobler form.
France, beloved friend, is the savior who will restore our people to its place in universal history.
Allow me to recall to your mind an old legend which you have probably heard in your younger days. It runs as follows: "A knight who went to the Holy Land to assist in the liberation of Jerusalem, left behind him a very dear friend. While the knight fought valiantly on the field of battle, his friend spent his time, as heretofore, in the study of the Talmud, for his friend was none other than a pious rabbi.
"Months afterward, when the knight returned home, he appeared suddenly at midnight, in the study room of the rabbi, whom he found, as usual, absorbed in his Talmud. 'God's greetings to you, dear old friend,' he said. 'I have returned from the Holy Land and bring you from there a pledge of our friendship. What I gained by my sword, you are striving to obtain with your spirit our ways lead to the same goal.' While thus speaking, the knight handed the rabbi a rose of Jericho.
"The rabbi took the rose and moistened it with his tears, and immediately the withered rose began to bloom again in its full glory and splendor. And the rabbi said to the knight: 'Do not wonder, my friend that the withered rose bloomed again in my hands. The rose possesses the same characteristics as our people: it comes to life again at the touch of the warm breath of love, in spite of its having been torn from its own soil and left to wither in foreign lands. So will Israel bloom again in youthful splendor; and the spark, at present smoldering under the ashes, will burst once more into a bright flame.'"
The routes of the rabbi and the knight dear friend, are meeting to-day. As the rabbi in the story symbolizes our people, so does the knight of the legend signify the French people which in our days, as in the Middle Ages, sent its brave soldiers to Syria and "prepared in the desert the way of the Lord."
Have you never read the words of the Prophet Isaiah: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that the appointed time has come, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received at the Lord's hand double for all her sins. The voice of one that crieth in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be mad low, and the crooked shall be made a straight place, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Do you not believe that in these words, with which second Isaiah opened his prophecies, as well as in words with which the Prophet Obadiah closed his prophecy, the conditions of our own time are graphically pictured? Was not help given to Zion in order to defend and establish the wild mountaineers there? Are not things being prepared there and roads leveled, and is not the road of civilization being built in the desert in the form of the Suez Canal works and the railroad which will connect Asia and Europe? They are not thinking at present of the restoration of our people. But you know the proverb, "Man proposes and God disposes." Just as in the West they once searched for a road to India, and incidentally discovered a new world, so will our lost fatherland be rediscovered on the road to India and China that is now being built in the Orient. Do you still doubt that France will help the Jews to found colonies which may extend from Suez to Jerusalem, and from the banks of the Jordan to the Coast of the Mediterranean? Then pray read the work which appeared shortly after the massacres in Syria, by the famous publisher, Dentu, under the title The New Oriental Problem. The author hardly wrote it at the request of the French government, but acted in accordance with the spirit of the French nation when he urged our brethren, not on religious grounds, but from purely political and humanitarian motives, to restore their- ancient state.
I may, therefore, recommend this work, written, not by a Jew, but by a French patriot, to the attention of our modern Jews, who plume themselves on borrowed French humanitarianism. I will quote here, in translation, a few pages of this work, The New Eastern Question, by Ernest Laharanne.
"In the discussion of these new Eastern complications, we reserved a special place for Palestine, in order to bring to the attention of the world the important question, whether ancient Judaea can once more acquire its former place under the sun.
"This question is not raised here for the first time. The redemption of Palestine, either by the efforts of international Jewish banker, or the nobler method, of a general subscription in which all the Jews should participate, has been discussed many times. Why is it that this patriotic project has not as yet been realized? It is certainly not the fault of pious Jews that the plan was frustrated, for their hearts beat fast and their eyes fill with tears at the thought of a return to Jerusalem. "If the project is still unrealized, the cause is easily cognizable. The Jews dare not think of the possibility of possessing again the land of their fathers. Have we not opposed to their wish our Christian veto? Would we not continually molest the legal proprietor when he will have taken possession of his ancestral land, and in the name of piety make him feel that his ancestors forfeited the title to their land on the day of the Crucifixion?
"Our stupid Ultra-montanism has destroyed the possibility of a regeneration of Judaea, by making the present of the Jewish people barren and unproductive. Had the city of Jerusalem been rebuilt by means of Jewish capital, we would have heard preachers prophesying, even in our progressive nineteenth century, that the end of the world is at hand and predictions of the coming of the Anti-Christ. Yes, we have lived to see such a state of affairs, now that Ultra-montanism has made its last stand in oratorical eloquence. In the sacred beehive of religion, we still hear a continuous buzzing of those insects who would rather see a mighty sword in the hands of the barbarians, than greet the resurrection of nations and hail the revival of a free and great thought inscribed on their banner. This is undoubtedly the reason why Israel did not make any attempt to become master of his own flocks, why the Jews, after wandering for two thousand years, are not in a position to shake the dust from their weary feet. The continuous, inexorable demands that would be made upon a Jewish settlement, the vexatious insults that would be heaped upon them and which would finally degenerate into persecutions, in which fanatic Christians and pious Mohammedans would unite in brotherly accord-these are the reasons, more potent than the rule of the Turks, that have deterred the Jews from attempting to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, their ancient home, and their State.
"But if this cause explains the lack of courage on the part of patriotic Jews, we cannot refrain from accusing the so-called progressive Jews of indifference to the fate of the Jewish people; for whenever a project for the restoration of the Jewish State is being considered, they display toward it a naivete that neither does credit to their reasoning power nor to their heart. The explanations offered by them on such occasions are inadmissible both from a moral and from a political point of view. A declaration, composed by the representatives of the progressive Je1vs at their meeting in Frankfort, contains the following Article:
"We acknowledge as our fatherland only the land where we are born and to which we are inseparably united by the bonds of citizenship."
"No member of the Jewish race can renounce the incontestable and fundamental right of his people, without at the same time denying the history of the Jews and his own ancestors. Such an act is especially unseemly, at a time when political conditions in Europe will not only not obstruct the restoration of a Jewish State, but will rather facilitate its realization. What European power to-day would oppose the plan that the Jews, united through a Congress, should buy back their ancient fatherland? Who would object if the Jews flung to decrepit old Turkey a few handfuls of gold, and said to her: 'Give me' back my home and use this money to consolidate the other parts of your tottering empire?'
"No objections would be raised to the realization of such a plan, and Judaea would be permitted to extend its boundaries from Suez to the harbor of Smyrna, including the entire area of the western Lebanon range. For We will not be eternally engaged in war; the time must come when this wholesale massacre, usually accompanied by the booming of cannon, will be condemned by humanity, so that the nation which desires conquest in addition to commerce, will not dare to carry out its designs. We must therefore prepare and break new ground for the peaceful struggles of industry. European industry has daily to search for new markets as an outlet for its products. We have no time to lose. The time has arrived when it is imperative to call the ancient nations back to life, so as to open new highways and byways for European civilization."
In another passage, the author speaks with so much enthusiasm, love and reverence for the Jews, that what he says overshadows all that has ever been said by a Jew in praise of his own people.
"There is a mysterious power which rules the destiny of humanity. Once the hand of the Infinite Power has signed the decree of a nation to be banished forever from the fact of the earth, the fate of that nation is irrevocable. But when we see a nation, torn from its cradle in its early childhood, and after having tasted all the bitterness of exile is brought back to its land, only to be tossed again into the wide world; and that nation, during the eighteen centuries of its wandering has displayed such remarkable powers of endurance, suffering age-long martyrdom :without extinguishing in its heart the fire of patriotism, then we just admit that we are standing before an infinite mystery, unparalleled in the history of humanity."
In these few words there is concentrated the whole history of Israel.
What an example! What a race! You, Roman conquerors, led your legions in battle against the already ruined Zion and drove the children of Israel out of their ancestral land. Your European, Asiatic and African barbarians lent your ear to superstition and pronounced your curse upon them. You, feudal kings, branded the Jews with the mark of shame-the Jews, who, in spite of all your persecutions, supplied you with the necessary gold wherewith to arm your vassals and serfs and who provided your markets with goods. You, grand Inquisitors, searched among the children of the dispersed people of Israel for your richest victims, with whom to fill your prisons and coffers, and in order to feed your auto-da-fe's -and you revoked the edict of Nantes 11 and drove out of the land the remnant that had escaped the destruction of Apostolic fanaticism. And finally, you modem nations have denied these indefatigable workers and industrious merchants civil rights. What persecutions! What tears! What blood you children of Israel have shed in the last eighteen hundred years! But you sons of Judaea, in spite of all suffering are still here. You have overcome the innumerable obstacles which the hatred, contempt, fanaticism and barbarism of the centuries have placed in your way. The hand of the Eternal has surely guided you.
France finally freed you. On the eve of the great world epoch, France, while shattering its own chains, called all nations and also you, into freedom. You became citizens and now you are brothers. The year 1789 was the first step in the process of rehabilitation. Pursuing its mission, liberation, the eye of France searched after all persecuted races, and it found you in your ghetto and shattered its doors forever . France invited you to its Chambers. You participated in its triumphs; you shared its happiness and its reverses. You have raised your voice on the day of council, shouted for joy at our victories and wept at our defeats. You are good citizens and devoted brothers. France will perhaps be to you a lighthouse of salvation, a rock against your enemies, who are also the enemies of our modem institutions. It will defend you against the libelers of your nationality, your character and your religion.
You are an elemental force and we bow our heads before you. You were powerful in the early period of your history, strong even after the destruction of Jerusalem, and mighty during the Middle Ages, when there were only two dominant powers-the Inquisition and its Cross, and Piracy with its Crescent. You have escaped destruction in your long dispersion, in spite of the terrible tax you have paid during eighteen centuries of persecution. But what is left of your nation is mighty enough to rebuild the gates of Jerusalem. This is your mission. Providence would not have prolonged your existence until to-day, had it not reserved for you the holiest of all missions. The hour has struck for the resettlement of the banks of the Jordan. The historical books of the royal prophets can, perhaps, be written again only by you.
A great calling is reserved for you: to be a living channel of communication between three continents. You should be the bearers of civilization to the primitive people of Asia, and the teachers of the European sciences to which your race has contributed so much. You should be the mediators between Europe and far Asia, open the roads that lead to India and China-those unknown regions which must ultimately be thrown open to civilization. You will come to the land of your fathers crowned with the crown of age-long martyrdom, and there, finally, you will be completely healed from all your ills! Your capital will again bring the wide stretches of barren land under cultivation; your labor and industry will once more turn the ancient soil into fruitful valleys, reclaim the flat lands from the encroaching sands of the desert, and the world will again pay its homage to the oldest of peoples.
The time has arrived for you to reclaim, either by way of compensation or by other means, your ancient fatherland from Turkey, which has devastated it for ages. You have contributed enough to the cause of civilization and have helped Europe on the path of progress, to make revolutions and carry them out successfully. You must henceforth think of yourselves, of the valleys of Lebanon and the plains of Gennesareth.
March forward! At the sight of your rejuvenation, our hearts will beat fast, and our armies will stand by you, ready to help.
March forward, Jews of all lands! The ancient fatherland of yours is calling you, and we will be proud to open its gates for you.
March forward, ye sons of the martyrs! The harvest of experience which you have accumulated in your long exile, will help to bring again to Israel the splendor of the Davidic days and rewrite that part of history of which the monoliths of Semiramis are the only witness.
March forward, ye noble hearts! The day on which the Jewish tribes return to their fatherland will be epoch making in the history of humanity. Oh, how will the East tremble at your coming! How quickly, under the influence of labor and industry, will the enervation of the people vanish, in the land where voluptuousness, idleness and robbery have held sway for thousands of years.
You will become the moral stay of the East. You have written the Book of books. Become, then, the educators of the wild Arabian hordes and the African peoples. Let the ancient wisdom of the East, the revelations of the Zend, the Vedas, as well as the more modern Koran and the Gospels, group themselves around your Bible. They will all become purified from every superstition and all will proclaim alike the principles of freedom, humanity, peace and unity. You are the triumphal arch of the future historical epoch, under which the great covenant of humanity will be written and sealed in your presence as the witnesses of the past and future. The Biblical traditions which you will revive, will also sanctify anew our Occidental society and destroy the weed of materialism together with its roots.
And when you shall have made this wonderful progress, remember, ye sons of Israel, remember Modern France which, from the moment of its rebirth, has loved you continually and has never wearied of defending you.
The beginning of the end - Solidarity of the Jews - Philanthropic illusions - The social animal kingdom - The nurses of progress - The faithful watchmen of the sacred sepulchre of Jewish nationality - The last catastrophe.
It seems that extracts from the French pamphlet which I quoted to you, have awakened in you new thoughts. You think that the Christian nations will certainly not object to the restoration of the Jewish State, for they will thereby rid their respective countries of a foreign population which is a thorn in their side. Not only Frenchmen, but Germans and Englishmen, have expressed themselves more than once in favor of the return of the Jews to Palestine. You quote an Englishman who endeavored to prove, by Biblical evidence, the ultimate return of the Jews to Palestine and simultaneously also the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. Another Englishman attempts to prove that the present English dynasty is directly descended from the house of David and that the stone which plays such an important role in the coronation of English kings is the same on which Jacob's head rested when he dreamt of the famous ladder. A third magnanimously offers all the English ships for the purpose of conveying to Palestine, free of charge, all the Jews who want to return there. These sentiments, however, seem to be, according to you, only a milder form of the desire, which in former ages expressed itself in frequent banishments of the Jews from Christian lands, for which mildness our people ought to be thankful. On the other hand, you see in such projects only a piece of folly which, in its final analysis, leads either to religious or secular insanity, and should not be taken into consideration. Such desires, moreover, if they come from pious Christians, would be opposed by all Jews. On the other hand, if pious Jews were the projectors, all Christians would object to the restoration; for as the latter would only consent to a return to Palestine on condition that the ancient sacrificial cult be reintroduced in the New Jerusalem, so would the former give its assistance to the plan, only on condition that we Jews would bring our national religion as a sacrifice to Christianity at the "Holy Sepulchre." And thus, you conclude, all the national aspirations of the Jews must inevitably founder on the rock of differences of opinion.
Now if rigid Christian dogma and inflexible Jewish orthodoxy could never be revived by the living current of history, they would certainly place an insurmountable obstacle to the realization of our patriotic aspirations. The thought of repossessing our ancient fatherland can, therefore, be taken under serious consideration, only when this rigidity of orthodox Jews and Christians alike, will have relaxed. And it is beginning to relax already, not only with the progressive elements, but even with pious Jews and Christians. Moreover, the Talmud, which is the corner-stone of modern Jewish orthodoxy, long ago counseled obedience to the dictates of life.
If Jewish Nationalism is a live movement, it will not be deterred by any doubts that may arise from devoting its energy toward obtaining political regeneration. Though the time "when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" has not yet arrived, the ruling majority and the oppressed minority have both alike lost their wolfish appetite and sheepish patience. Religious toleration has become a more general article of creed than any other dogma. Besides, I always think, as I have already remarked, of the future cult of all regenerated nations as being different in form from the present religious cults, which have come down to us from a time when folk individualities were repressed. And finally I must emphasize it again, our future religious worship, like those of other nations, will not precede the regeneration but follow it. The main problem of the Jewish national movement is not of a religious nature but centers around one point, namely, on how to awaken the patriotic sentiments in the hearts of our progressive Jews, and how to liberate the Jewish masses, by means of this patriotism, from a spirit-deadening formalism. If we succeed in this beginning, then no matter how difficult the practical realization of our plan may be, the difficulties will be overcome by experience itself. It is only when we find that the Jewish heart is dead, that the Jews are no more capable of patriotic inspiration, that we shall have to despair of our hope which, as every great historical ideal, cannot be realized without a tremendous struggle.
The Jews have enough common sense, in spite of misunderstood enlightenment and orthodoxy, not to be misled by religious haziness and fanaticism which have no basis in the present life. But it is just this sober sense of reality that our race possesses in a high degree, which will finally win over those of our brethren, whether progressive or orthodox, who still possess a Jewish heart, to the national cause which has its roots deep in the practical soil of reality.
The objections of progressive Jews to the restoration of the Jewish State have their ultimate ground, not in that spiritual education which does not shrink from the difficulties lying in the path of a great work, nor calculates beforehand the amount of sacrifice required in the realization of the same, but they rest in the moral and intellectual narrow-mindedness which is unable to rise to a high humanitarian standpoint, from which one can view the depth of the misfortune of the people as well as the means of their salvation. The Jewish religion, thought Heine, and with him all the enlightened Jews, is more of a misfortune than a religion. But in vain do the progressive Jews persuade themselves that they can escape this misfortune through enlightenment or conversion. Every Jew is, whether he wishes it or not, solidly united with the entire nation; and only when the Jewish people will be freed from the burden which it has borne so heroically for thousands of years, will the burden of Judaism be removed from the shoulders of these progressive Jews, who will ultimately form only a small minority. We will all then carry the yoke of the "Kingdom of Heaven" until the end.
At the height of the movement of enlightenment, when everybody was intoxicated by it, people could be easily fascinated by the illusion that it is best for the entire Jewish people to surrender its national religion and devote itself to humanitarianism, a cult which, according to them, was destined to absorb Judaism as well as all individual life; To-day, even the most superficial rationalist cannot cherish such a philanthropic illusion. Though lacking a deeper conception of life, of Nature and history, the historical movement among our contemporary Jews has accomplished its purpose of opening the eyes of the rationalists; for even in the Occident, where the Jews are closely united to the general culture by a thousand bonds, the injury done to the ancient Jewish cult by enlightenment is slight.
Even to-day, the great majority of Occidental Jews pay homage to their ancient religion. Neither emancipation nor Christian proselytism, with its bait of material advantages, has succeeded in estranging the majority of Jews from their traditions. On the contrary, there have appeared of late, even among those who were formerly estranged from Judaism, men who display strong sympathies for the ancient Jewish mode of life. The leveling tendencies of the assimilationists have remained and will always remain without influence on those Jews who constitute the great Jewish masses.
The masses are never moved to progress by mere abstract conceptions; the springs of action lie far deeper than even the socialist revolutionaries think. With the Jews, more than with other nations which, though oppressed, yet live on their own soil, all political and social progress must necessarily be preceded by national independence. A common, native soil is a primary condition, if there is to be introduced among the Jews better and more progressive relations between Capital and Labor. The social man, just as the social plant and animal, needs for his growth and development a wide, free soil; without it, he sinks to the status of a parasite, which feeds at the expense of others. The parasitic way of existence has played an important role in the development of human history and is by no means restricted to the Jews. As long as science and industry were not sufficiently developed, the land in the possession of any nation was never large enough to maintain the entire population; and the nations were therefore forced, either to make war one upon the other and thus acquire slaves, or to divide their own population into ruling and serving classes. But this regime, which was based upon the exploitation of men, collapsed as soon as modern science and industry began to dominate the world.
The civilized nations are at present making preparations for a common exploitation of Nature. This will be carried on by means of labor based on scientific principles, all social parasites being excluded. They are preparing themselves for the new era through struggles for free national soils, by attempts at abolishing race and class rule, by endeavoring to organize an Association and by the cooperation of all the forces of production. In this Association, the antagonism between capitalistic speculation and productive labor, as well as the contrast between philosophic speculation and scientific work, will simultaneously disappear. I know well that the need of wholesome and just labor conditions, which should be based solely on the exploitation of Nature by man, is also strongly felt in Jewry. I know of the great efforts which are being exerted on the part of the Jews to train our younger generation as useful laborers. But I know also that the Jews in exile, at least the majority of them, cannot devote themselves successfully to productive labor; in the first place, because they lack the most necessary condition-an ancestral soil; and, secondly, because they cannot assimilate with the peoples among whom they live without at the same time denying their national religion and tradition. Those commendable efforts to improve the condition of Jewish labor will, therefore, while they indirectly cause the destruction of the Jewish cult, be as fruitless, on the whole, as the endeavors of the Reform movement, which leads directly to the same result. In exile, the Jewish people cannot be regenerated. Reform or philanthropy can only bring it to apostasy and to nothing else, but in this no reformer, not even a tyrant will ever succeed. The Jewish people will participate in the great historical movement of present-day humanity only when it will have its own fatherland. As long as the great Jewish masses remain in their low position, even the relatively few Jews who have surrendered their national traditions, in order to escape the fate of the Jewish people, will be more painfully affected by the position of the Jews than the masses, who feel themselves only unfortunate but not degraded. Hence, no Jew, whether orthodox or not, can conscientiously refrain from cooperating with the rest for the elevation of the entire Jewry. Every Jew, even the converted, should cling to the cause and labor for the regeneration of Israel.
If one appreciates fully the infinitely tragic role which the Jewish people has thus far played in history, he must also inevitably perceive the only way that will bring salvation to our misery. This solution is at present not as impractical as it may look at first sight. It is in accordance with the sympathies of the French people and with the interests of French politics, that after France's victorious armies shall have overthrown the modern Nebuchadnezzar, France will extend its, work of redemption also to the Jewish nation. It is to the interest of France to see that the road leading to India and China should be settled by a people which will be loyal to the cause of France to the end, in order that it may fulfill the historical mission which has fallen to it as a legacy from the great Revolution. But is there any other nation more adapted to carry out this mission than Israel, which was appointed for the same mission from the beginning of its history?
"Frenchmen and Jews!" I hear you exclaim. "If so, then the Christian German reactionaries were right in their denunciations of the Jews!" Yes, my dear friend, the animal instinct which scents the enemy in the distance is always infallible. Reaction has everywhere recognized its mortal enemy in those who stand midway between reaction and revolution and who act as the midwife of progress, the giant who is to smite reaction over its head. For it is a law of organic and social life history, that the mediate being whose existence is limited to the transition epoch, should pave the way from the imperfect to the more perfect and higher scales of life.
Frenchmen and Jews! It seems that in all things they were created for one another. They resemble one another in their humane and national aspirations, and differ only in such qualities as can only be complemented by another nation, but which are never united in one and the same people. The French people excel in alertness, in the humanistic and sympathetic quality to assimilate all elements; the Jews, on the other hand, possess more ethical seriousness than the French, and in meeting other types, the Jew will rather impress his stamp on his environment than be molded by it. The French can rule the world because they absorbed the best of the entire human race. The Jews can only be masters of their own flock, and with the holy fire which they have kindled in their own midst, they will warm and enlighten a world composed of heterogeneous elements, and thus prevent this world from disintegrating into its elements and relapsing into the chaos out of which it was raised once before by Judaism.
The generous help which France has extended to civilized peoples toward the restoration of their nationality, will be remembered longer by our nation than by any other. How easily will we come to an understanding with this humane French people about our religion and its sacred places in Palestine. But matters have not gone so far yet. The Jewish people must first show itself worthy of the regeneration of its historical cult; it must first feel the necessity of a national restoration if it would reach that point. Until then we need not think about building the Temple; we must win the heart of our brethren for the great work which will finally bring eternal glory to the Jewish nation and salvation to humanity.
For Jewish colonization on the road to India and China, there is no lack, either of Jewish laborers or of Jewish talent and capital. Let only the germ be planted under the protection of the European powers, and the tree of a new life will spring forth by itself and bear excellent fruit.
You smile at my innocent belief in Jewish patriotism. You have undoubtedly read the Ghetto Scenes and you will possibly remind me of the hero, Mendel Wilna, who possessed a fixed idea to persuade the Rothschilds to devote their capital and energy to the rebuilding of the Holy City and Temple, but who only succeeded in winning over a child to his pious belief. The child, when he grew up and attended the University became so wise that he concluded that only children and fools can dream of rebuilding Jerusalem. By quoting this episode, you wish to demonstrate that the Jewish poet did not see any deeper meaning in the patriotic feeling of pious Jews than considering them merely as a kind of Jewish Christmas trees, able to amuse only little children and elderly fools. All this, dearest friend, is true, but it applies only to the modern poet who is influenced by the Germanic spirit and not to a poet like Judah Halevi, who poured out his heart's blood in his Jewish poetry. Halevi, actuated by longing for the land of his dreams, grasped the pilgrim's staff, only to find a grave for himself in his beloved land. Nor does the poet's description characterize real Jewish life. You certainly remember the proverb: "'Children and fools tell the truth." The thought which inspired the nervous Mendel Wilna and little Moischele, has been the fundamental thought of all pious Jews from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem until the present day. And there are such Jews-let it not worry Mr. Kompert, even among the Rothschild brothers.
But you do not need to overlook the fact that Kompert puts the denial of Jewish nationality into the mouth of a student who, when doubting the regeneration of the Jewish people, only reflects the sceptical spirit of the age. What progressive Jew, especially in Germany, would have dared within recent years to declare himself for the restoration of our nation and face his own friends, who would undoubtedly have declared him mad? In addition, I wish to remark that Kompert bestowed upon the Jewish student, who is theoretically indifferent, but practically devoted to the Jewish nation,-not without purpose-a Bohemian friend who is theoretically inspired by the example of Huss and Zizka, but who becomes ultimately a well-to-do monk, and exchanges the cup and sword for the cross and incense bowl. I do not find, therefore, in Kompert's description of the progressive Jews, any more of that extreme indifference with which, until recently, a great part of German Jewry was charged. Today, as I have said, we cannot accuse them of it without reserve. Remember, dear friend, that I was you who criticized my severe judgment of the progressive German Jews, a criticism to which I must do justice now. I have adapted the wholesome reaction of Jewish patriotism and asserted it in the face of an extreme indifference which had its seat more in "fashion" and in the spirit of the age, than in the heard of the people; and finally it struck root. The longing for the land of our forefathers and the desire to return there which is so strongly displayed by our pious brethren, who even in our days visit the Holy Land in order to be buried there, has finally affected even the heart of our progressive Jews. The frequent journeys to Jerusalem, the support given to our brethren there, the help extended to the educational and charitable institutions in Palestine, all these do not come only from orthodox Jews. These earnest and lasting endeavors to help our brethren in the Orient show that do-day there is no lack of good will among all classes of Jews, to alleviate the misery of their brethren in the Holy Land. This will need only to ripen in the formation of a plan to carry out the great patriotic work.
In Jerusalem, as everywhere, our Jewish philanthropists are confronted with insurmountable difficulties whenever they wish to solve the historical misfortune of our brethren by means of charitable institutions and distributions of alms, or when they expect to introduce moral-spiritual progress among the Oriental Jews by means of theoretical educational doctrines, without any social bases. The acquisition of a common ancestral soil, the organization of the work on a legal basis, the founding of Jewish societies of agriculture, industry and commerce on the Mosaic, i.e., social principles, these are the foundations on which Oriental Jewry will rise again, and in its rise, will rekindle the glimmering fire of the old Jewish patriotism and light the way to a new life for the Jewry of the entire world. On the common ground of Jewish patriotism, all Jewish classes will meet, orthodox and progressive, rich and poor. They will recognize themselves as the descendants of those heroes who fought the mightiest and the most civilized nations of antiquity: the Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans, and succeeded in carrying on their struggle to the very end of the ancient world, which they alone survived. They will look upon themselves as children of that race which, unlike any other people of history, has suffered a two thousand year martyrdom, and which has always carried aloft the banner of nationality, namely, the Book of the Law.
I will have to interrupt our correspondence for the present, in order to quote to you from a Hebrew work recently published by an extremely pious scholar. The author, after thoroughly discussion the question of Jewish Nationalism from a Talmudic point of view, arrives at the same results that the Christian Frenchman reached in his brochure A new Oriental Question, and to which I heartily subscribe in all detail. I will city to you a few lines from this work, as I have done in the case of the French pamphlet. The author closes his work with the following words:
Even if the time of Grace has not yet come, when we should think of erecting an altar to the Lord in Zion, even if we cannot expect to win the consent of the Sultan, the following proposal is still practical, especially at a time when under God's Providence, there have arisen in Israel a number of men who possess great political influence or rule, by virtue of their wealth, men like Montefiore, Albert Cohn, Rothschild, Fould, and others. These men are Jewish princes such as the Jewish people has not had since the dispersion. These should organize a Society for the colonization of Palestine, a Chebra Eretz Nosheveth. A large number of the rich and respected Jews of all parts of the world will undoubtedly join them. The program of the organization may include the following activities:
"a. First, it should raise a fund sufficient to buy as many towns, fields and vineyards in the Holy Land as possible. Let the desert turn into the Lebanon and the hilly places to fruit-bearing plains, and the desert shall again blossom like a lily and bring forth fruit like the field blessed by God. And thus, gradually, the Society will acquire hills, and dales, and fields, and villages, which it will in time rent out to the colonists."
"b. Jews from all parts of the world, and especially from Russia, Poland and Germany, should be brought over by the Society and be settled in Palestine. Those who are not practical farmers should be taught under the direction of experienced teachers, employed by the Company. But those who are acquainted with agriculture should be granted a tract of land free of rent for a time, until they are able to pay the company a fixed amount of rent. During the first years, the company should, in addition, make loans of money to the indigent farmers until such time as the land begins to yield its harvests.
"c. Thirdly, a police system must be established by this Society, to protect the colonists from the attacks of the Bedouins, and to maintain law and order in the land in general.
"d. Finally, there should be opened under the auspices of the Society an agricultural school where Jewish youths could receive an adequate preparation for the life of a Palestinian farmer. This school, in which also other sciences will be taught and a knowledge of the Jewish religion imparted, can be established either in Palestine or in any of the lands of the exile; but it must be located in a land where wine and oil and other fruits of the Holy Land are raised, so that the pupils of the school may be prepared to undertake agriculture in Palestine.
"God in his grace will then support us, and we will, though small in our beginning, continually grow and come more and more into the possession of the Holy Land, as the prophet foresaw. We, however, must make the beginning, as I have proved by numerous citations from Talmud and Midrash."
Thus far Rabbi Kalisher, of Thorn.
Was I not right when I praised the practical sense of our people to you and asserted that pious Jews will join hands with the enlightened on the common ground of Jewish Nationalism? From another source we are told, that last December a meeting was held in Australia, which was attended by many Christian and Jewish notables, and where resolutions similar in spirit to the conclusions arrived at by our Frenchman and the learned rabbi were proposed to a large assembly and unanimously adopted!
And thus not only Jews of different lands and different grades of education, but most Christian denominations and different peoples concur in the desire to restore our people to its national heritage. And the most remarkable thing about it is that they all agree on the same means to the end. If I still needed corroboration for the convictions arrived at after years of study and life experience, I should find it in the concurring opinions of different men and peoples, who having started from different points of view, have arrived at the same results. I already foresee the organization of the Society proposed by the pious Jewish patriot, and its ultimate settling of the Holy Land with Jewish colonists under the protection of the Western civilized nations. When the Jewish situation in Palestine is once for all adjusted under the protection of the law, and on the foundation of labor, there will arise in the Holy Land, as in Germany and other European countries, universities conducted by able scholars whose spirit will not conflict with but harmonize with the ancient Jewish national religion.
The faithful watchmen of the sacred grave of our nationality, in spite of their poverty, do not wish to accept help which may injure the ancient Jewish cult, and our Western philanthropists continue to complain that "you cannot do anything with these people." Indeed, the lack of system and the wrong plans of the philanthropists lead to no results; they bring only discord. But at least, do not blame those who would rather die in misery in the Holy Land than give up some precepts of their ancient religion. Blame your ignorance of the needs of Jewry, blame the spirit of the times, when you can show so little success in all your undertakings, whether in the Orient or the Occident.
The rigid crust of orthodox Jewry will melt when the spark of Jewish patriotism, now smoldering under it, is kindled into a sacred fire which will herald the coming of the spring and the resurrection of our nation to a new life. On the other hand, Occidental Judaism is surrounded by an almost indissolvable crust, composed of the dead residue of the first manifestation of the modem spirit, from the inorganic chalk deposit of an extinct rationalistic enlightenment. This crust will not be melted by the fire of Jewish patriotism; it can only be broken by an external pressure under the weight of which everything which has no future must give up its existence. In contradistinction to orthodoxy, which cannot be destroyed by an external force without at the same time endangering the embryo of Jewish Nationalism that slumbers within it, the hard covering that surrounds the hearts of our cultured Jews will be Shattered only by a blow from without, one that world events are already preparing; and which will probably fall in the near future. The old frame-work of European Society, battered so often by the storms of revolution, is cracking and groaning on all sides. It can no longer stand a storm. Those who stand between revolution and reaction, the mediators, who have an appointed purpose to push modern Society on its path of progress, will after society becomes strong and progressive, be swallowed up by it. The nurses of progress, who would undertake to teach the Creator himself wisdom, prudence and economy; those carriers of culture, the saviors of Society, the speculators in politics, philosophy and religion, will not survive the last storm. And along with the other nurses of progress our Jewish reformers will also close their ephemeral existence. On the other hand, the Jewish people, along with other historical nations will, after this last catastrophe, the approach of which is attested by unmistakable signs of the times, receive its full rights as a people.
"Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of many generations;
Ask thy father and he will tell thee,
Thy elders and they will inform thee,
When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance,
When he separated the sons of Adam,
He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the Children of Israel."
Just as after the last catastrophe of organic life, when the historical races came into the world's arena, there came their division into tribes, and the position and role of the latter was determined, so after the last catastrophe in social life, when the spirit of humanity shall have reached its maturity, will our people, with the other historical people, find its legitimate place in universal history.