2. Forsaken Inheritance
Yet there came a time when the storm reached
into our safe port. Our enemy sensed that
there was a pagan germ within the Jewish heart,
too, and he tried to use it for his purposes. This
shrewd plot was called "the emancipation of the
Jews". Perhaps our enemy needed the help of
Jews without Judaism, in order the better to eradicate that little of Judaism
which had gained a foothold among the nations of the world. Anyway,
happenings took place then, of a magnitude and
radicalism unparalleled since the days when the
Jewish Hellenists exchanged their Judaism for Greek
culture. Jews no longer felt that there was an
Eternal G-d guiding our world; they threw away
the ancient heritage with which G-d Himself had
endowed them; and they became the most fanatic
heralds and agents of the pagan rebellion. It
would have seemed nonsensical, even insane, to
them, not to be among the first to succumb to this
insanity. Thus, they have often become the leaders
of the modern rebellion—misled leaders.
THE pagan rebels have discovered the so-called freedom of the individual and they have never tired of invoking it. They do, indeed, constantly emphasize that man's conduct is conditioned by the circumstances of his life and that he has little or no free will at all; but they hate the idea that he should accept as the prime condition of his life and thought the moral dictates of eternity: the exhortations of the great teachers of mankind. The blessing of a time-transcending, immutable discipline, imposed upon the human spirit, appears to the heathens a curse. To them, happiness lies in the vacillations of the fickle pagan masses, now attracted hither, now thither—led by men all too human, all too limited in their wisdom and sense of responsibility. There are occasions when they do come to feel that the masses need some discipline and stability; but then they do not turn to the heralds of truth or the guardians of the faith—they rather call the police.
And some of our Jews? Their people was
blessed by G-d with the greatest and most beneficent system of religious
discipline; it proudly bent
its knee before Him who is the source of all of
man's thoughts and deeds; it passed up all the
illusions of the human mind for the knowledge of
the Eternal G-d. Yet there are some of our Jews
who run with the herd, or even before it, and
wildly clamour for "freedom for the individual",
freedom for his spirit, freedom for his actions.
THE pagan rebels have distorted the ideal of education. It seemed destined to impress upon man that he was created, and should live, in the likeness of G-d. But it has been turned into a farce. Modern "education" has little to do with the loftiness of the human spirit. The modern pagans have not discovered a novel wisdom and truths of their own, to replace those they have rejected. They have merely patched together a crazy quilt of ideas—much as their ancestors patched together their idols from a lot of colored pebbles. In former times man availed himself of the arts of deduction and synthesis which enabled him to obtain a picture of the world as a whole, and of his place in it. Today, however, analysis and inductive hypothesis rule supreme, even though they can do no more than take our world to pieces and juggle with these as if they were a jigsaw-puzzle. Thus, science has been hamstrung—and superstitious reverence is paid to this cripple. It is true, then, that our age has not found new foundations for a modern culture. As a result, a time has come when all but a few artists merely repeat in different words what has been expressed many times before them—or else talk meaninglessly. Man's artistic creativeness seems to dry out gradually, and is replaced by a kind of cultural snobbery. The intellectual stuffs himself with pretentious odds and ends of culture—and the common man, in possession of a sound mind and heart, is forced to feast on the scraps of the banquet. Slowly but surely he thus turns into a shadow of his real self—albeit a quite lively and arrogant shadow.
And some of our Jews? Their people was the
first to be blessed with the knowledge of G-d, and
it succeeded in instilling into its youth profundity
and wisdom, without many educational theories,
merely through its divinely revealed Law. Their
education and culture were thus true to their lofty
function: even the highest artistic achievements of
the Jews, those of their poets, were only meant
to swell their great chorus of praise to G-d. Yet
some of our Jews of today, too weak and incapable
to shape their life on a pattern of their own, are
only too happy to worship at the foot of the false
idols of modern art and culture; and to degrade science even whilst they are
praising it. They have
succeeded, in fact, in advancing far beyond their
masters in these tricks of culture.
THE pagan rebels try to explore the profoundest mysteries of the universe by means of theories which, after all, are only the time-bound products of their own mind and age. Their forefathers turned the idea of the One G-d into that of a multitude of idols; in the same way they now tear to pieces the idea of the one absolute law of moral conduct: replacing G-d's eternal demands on man by the so-called demands of life, the "necessities of our age".
And some of our Jews? Their people was
chosen to master life. Yet they follow the masses,
preferring to be lowly speculators upon every new
fashion in morals, rather than proud servants of
the One G-d.
THE pagan rebels feel that the Europe of former times (which was surely not very reticent in its manners) was much too modest and inhibited. They resent that it imposed upon the instincts and desires of human nature the chains of man's moral sense; and they proclaim: "Throw off the bonds! Let us live freely! Conform to your instincts!" When they are challenged, they defend themselves by pointing to the old doctrine (quite correct, in a way) that "for a clean mind everything is clean."
And some of our Jews? Their people never
turned its back on the world; but it insisted that
the world be dedicated to G-d, and shaped in
accordance with His will—so that life be saved
from meaninglessness. Yet some of our Jews today
expel G-d from human life by accepting a false
doctrine of human "freedom", as if they had not
inherited the true teachings of the Torah. They
demand sexual freedom, as if their people had not
been strong and survived because of just the
opposite attitudes. It is true, of course, that the
pious Jews are no plaster saints; but those who
point this out with such pleasure should understand that this fact does not
justify laxity and
resignation, but rather underlines the need for ever
more intense self-discipline. Actually, the advocates
of the new doctrine of unrestrained freedom do not
live up to their own teachings: they still take recourse to highblown explanations of a conduct which,
being "natural", should not demand any justification,
according to their theories. But the fact remains:
they have become blind to the degradation of man
caused by his so-called "liberation" from G-d-imposed discipline. They are
insensible to the hot
breath of a vulgar and chaotic licentiousness which
rises from desecrated homes, streets, and studios. They can be found wherever true beauty, splendour
and happiness are drowned in the gutter; they
help to degrade the greatness and creativeness of
the sexual urge into indecency—and they believe
themselves so very "modern".
THE pagan rebels have not turned technical progress to the service of a humanity living a peaceful life, loyal to its eternal and divine tasks. They have rather made this Golem the terrible taskmaster of modern man: they make people believe that the meaning of life –and true progress– is found in the throbbing of machines, the humming of wires, the frenzied hurry of the subways, the impertinence of skyscrapers, the noise of the stock exchange, the skyrocketing of statistics, and the chatter of newspapers. Thus the inner life of man, all its endeavors, have been paralyzed—the very heart of man has been turned into a machine. He has been thrown into a chaos of iron, dust, dirt, madness, lust, deception and emptiness—and now he is proud of his fate.
And some of our Jews? They are children of
a people which has always been concerned above
all with its soul; yet they now have no other desire
than to surrender to the new Golem—to become
models of the new factory-herd man.
THE pagan rebels, of course, are not responsible for the state of affairs which their ancestors allowed to develop in European society, which was far from granting justice to all men. But the modern rebels made a bad situation worse. They did not seek a new balance between earthly needs and spiritual principles, which would do away with the injustice between man and man, nation and nation. They did not seriously consider how they could make sure that the peoples would be governed by the best. They expected to achieve this goal by basing the democratic system upon a rugged and selfish individualism, which became the professed ideal and, indeed, duty of man. "Sacred egotism " was not only declared the proper foundation of democratic society but also the moving principle in the life of the nations. Unlimited and brutal pursuit of profit and ambitions was thus justified, exploitation and wars have been the consequence. There have been men, indeed, who have proclaimed the coming of the "age of justice"—but all too often it was to be brought about by hatred and violence. The French Revolution ushered in the overthrow of many tyrants (not a new experience to their ilk, though); but the victors exercised a tyranny even more dangerous because they applied petty minds to the fundamental problems of humanity, and sold the masses on their radical conclusions and political quack medicines. Demagogic propaganda has been mechanized, becoming more efficient than it had ever been; and an impenetrable fog of banality and dishonesty has come to hover over all countries. As a result, exploiters and exploited, masters and servants, capitalists and socialists, seemingly adversaries, have, in effect, become allies, jointly laboring to degrade mankind. The nations have been defrauded of their harmony of life, and mankind as a whole of its spiritual potentialities.
And some of our Jews? They are children of a people that was taught justice by G-d. Its creed saved it from considering political tricks and formulae the cure-all in social life. The Jew cannot be satisfied with the introduction of this or that governmental machinery: with monarchic or aristocratic systems, in which the individual's will for power expresses itself in its crudest form, or with democratic forms, in which our ambitions find indirect expression, as men gather in parties, in majorities, to attain their ends. Jews know that, in the last resort, social justice can only be attained if loyalty to G-d is the guiding principle in the life of society. Yet, some of our Jews today have exchanged this belief for the teachings of the pagan rebels. There are a few who dive into the whirlpool of chauvinistic excitement; and others who are the most superficial talkers, the most misled fools, the noisiest barkers at the world carnival of political ideas. In particular, they have done their best to turn the prophets' ideal of the brotherhood of the nations into a dry heathen cosmopolitanism; and of socialism, the outflow of the Jewish teachings of justice, they have helped make the most powerful war engine of militant paganism.