Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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POLISH — INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF AHAD HA‘AM
69
in the Diaspora was well-known to our ancestors. But this
awareness did not destroy their moral fiber. “They believed whole­
heartedly that this decline was for them an ascent, that a great
and sacred truth was entrusted to them which others did not
recognize . . . They knew there was a moral purpose for their
existence as a chosen people . . .” We have lost this moral strength,
and instead have adopted the defeatist attitude that we exist
because we cannot cease existing.
First, we must accept the principle that the survival of Judaism,
and not of individual Jews, is primary. The survival of the latter
is important only insofar as it aids in reaching this goal. In order
to preserve its identity, Judaism must return to its historical
center where it can pursue a normal development. For this
purpose a political state is not required. Sufficient for such an end
is a sizeable settlement of Jewish workers engaged in farming,
crafts, and cultural pursuits. In this respect, the East-European
Zionist is fortunate. His goals are less immediate than those of
the political Zionists. He wants nothing more than to resume his
bond with the past and thereby to become himself. For this
consummation he is ready to wait, and in this spirit Pinsker can
say, “Very distant is the shore toward which we strive, but for a
people that has wandered these thousands of years, even the long­
est road is not too far.” The advantage of this long-visioned
concept is that it cannot disappoint its faithful. Because Zionism
cannot fulfill its political program it must become a “spiritual-
national movement,” which means, secondly, a cultural revival
of the Jewish people, dedicated to reclaiming Hebrew culture.
This can occur in no other place but Palestine, which can become
a “sanctuary of the national spirit” and an answer to
Galut
ha-Shechinah
(exile of the Divine Presence), though not to
Galut ha1Am.
“I f the land be destroyed, a Zerubabel, Ezra or
Nehemiah . . . will rebuild it; but if the people be destroyed,
whence will come its help?”
This leads us to the logical question — why should Judaism
survive? What is there in Judaism which requires preserving?
First, says Ahad Ha'Am, is the concept of absolute justice. Israel
is a spiritually superior people because it has been the consistent
advocate of this principle. We repudiate the Nietzschean super­
man notion, but we supplant it with the idea of a super-people
which fights for the supremacy of morality and against evil. Our
understanding of justice is the subordination by the individual of
his personal impulses to the requirements for the perfection of
society. In such an attainment the prospects for the individual
increase.