Jones Eugene Michael - The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History - Selections


Author : Jones Eugene Michael
Title : The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History - Selections, Taken from "Culture Wars" articles
Year : 2009

Link download : Jones_Eugene_Michael_-_The_Jewish_Revolutionary_Spirit_and_Its_Impact_on_World_History_-_Selections.zip

1648 Annus Mirabilis. According to the Zohar, the year 1648 was to be the mystical year of resurrection, when the Jews could expect deliverance from their more than millennium long exile. Heinrich Graetz, a German Jew, a devotee of the Enlightenment and author of one of the most frequently cited histories of the Jewish people, calls the Zohar that "lying book" and by extension impugns the entire Kabbalistic tradition. Since the Enlightenment was in many ways a direct result of the disappointment which followed from the failure of the Messianic expectations which reached their fever pitch and denouement in the second half of the 17th century, his skepticism is understandable, as is his scorn for the Kaballah, the mish-mash what he considered Gnostic and Talmudic mumbo-jumbo that had led to the rise and fall of Messianic hope in the first place. Graetz espoused a worldview which was the complete antithesis of the Messianic fever of the mid-17th century. He was so convinced in his opposition to the Kaballah because he had the benefit of historical hindsight and could see where its vaporous illusions were leading the Jewish people. Expectation of redemption fostered by widespread dissemination of Kabbalistic doctrine made the Jews, in Graetz’s words, "more reckless and careless than was their custom at other times." Just what Graetz meant by reckless can be derived from his analysis of Polish Jewry, which had become by the time of the period in question a hotbed of Kabbalistic thought. Beginning with the Statute of Kalisz in 1251, the Jews of Poland were granted rights like nowhere else in Europe. They were even granted their own autonomous legal system, known as the kahal, which allowed them to adjudicate intra-Jewish disputes without recourse to the Polish Christian legal system. This autonomy, in turn, necessitated the intensive study of the Talmud, which, according Graetz, led to the peculiar corruption of Polish Jews. The reliance on the Talmud as the basis of Jewish legal autonomy created a culture of "hair-splitting judgment" among the rabbis, according Graetz, as well as "a love of twisting, distorting, ingenious quibbling, and a foregone antipathy to what did not lie within their field of vision," which in turn trickled down to find expression in the behavior of vulgar, who "found pleasure and a sort of triumphant delight in deception and cheating." Since by the end of the 18th century, the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Poland, Jews in general earned, as a result, the reputation of being "a nation of deceivers," to give Immanuel Kant’s formulation. "It does indeed seems strange," Kant, the quintessential Enlightenment philosopher, continued, "to conceive of a nation of deceivers, but it is also very strange to conceive of a nation of merchants, the majority of whom, bound by an ancient superstition accepted by the state they live in, do not seek any civil dignity, but prefer to make good this disadvantage with the benefits of trickery at the expense of the people who shelter them and at the expense of each other. In a nation of merchants, unproductive members of society . .. . it cannot be otherwise"( Kant, Werke Bd. vii, p. 205-6). From his vantage point in Koenigsberg, the capital of what was then East Prussia, a country which the Teutonic Knights wrested by force from the Slavic natives, all Jews were Polish Jews. ...

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