Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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to be. In a world flooded by anti-Semitism, coming from a land
saturated with hatred of the Jewish people, Thomas Mann
courageously holds out to the world Joseph the Jew as th£
symbol of his richest, most fruitful and noblest thought about
God and man. In his choice of Joseph the Jew as his protagonist
before the world, Thomas Mann has consciously paid high
tribute to the inherent greatness and significance of the Jewish
tradition for all Humanity.
In Joseph’s life—described in
Joseph and His Brethren, Young
Joseph
and
Joseph in Egypt
, soon to be followed by
Joseph the
Nourisher—
Mann discerns the origin, growth and fulfillment of
the destiny of the human race as planned by God. Just as Joseph
moved from his childish egotism through sufferings and tragic
descents into the Pit many times, each time to emerge on a
higher plane, so, too, mankind is moving through similar expe-
riences to fulfill the pattern of its destiny. And as, in the end,
Joseph is cleansed, and begins to discern that the ruling destiny
of his life is away from egoistic individualism towards the social-
man aware of his social responsibilities, the nourisher of his fel-
lows, so deep within creation God has intended Mankind to
develop. This is the high purpose of all creation to which God
is calling man. It is the voice of God in the soul of man.
Abraham, the Jew, first heard that voice. He taught it to those
who came after him. Joseph in the span of his lifetime lived its
full meaning, thus transmitting to the future the pat tern of God
by which man is to fulfill his destiny.
It is significant that Thomas Mann should have begun publish-
ing his work just at the time when Jew-baiting in Germany
reached its maniacal height.
Apart from his general message through
Joseph,
Thomas
Mann has specific messages for our times, that rise out of the
very core of Jewish life and tradition clothed by Mann in words
and concepts of our times.
Mann regards the Jews as an interracial people, an amalgam
of many races begun with Hagar, the Egyptian woman, wife of
Abraham; it was made more complex when Jacob took Bilhah
and Zilpah in whom there was Babylonian-Sumerian blood.
These mixtures of races form the originals. Thus, Thomas Mann,
choosing his theme in the face of Alfred Rosenberg’s “Pan-
Aryanism,” denies the Nazi racial theory that would abolish the
Semitic race. There is no such thing as a pure race.
Joseph’s escape from Mut, the wife of Potiphar, was more than
a personal escape. I t was the escape of civilization from death,
for Mut was a devotee of the reactionary god, Amun-Re. M u t ’s
narrow nationalism sought to engulf Joseph in her narrow, reac-
tionary, exclusive nationalism; but Joseph escaped her kiss of
death. Thus, Mann adjudges the narrow nationalism of our
times, especially that of the Nazis, as belonging to the dead Egypt
that must perish before the rising sun of an internationalist
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