Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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a new vision in the hearts of our people. “Not by might, but by
spi r i t . . . I see it, but it is not near . . .”
Ahad Ha'Am gave voice to his unique brand of Zionism in
which he published from 1897-1903. It became a
forum not only for his own opinions but also for the view of his
opponents. Thus it proved to be a sounding board for the clash of
ideas on the Zionist issue. The essays subsequently published in
volumes two and three of
A l Parashat Derahim
(Berlin, 1904,
1905) first appeared in
In summarizing Ahad Ha‘Am, it is well to point out that while
his system of thought is greatly motivated by the positivism of
Comte and John Stuart Mill, his basic premise of Jewish national­
ism is founded upon intuition. Always the rationalist, Ahad Ha'Am
concedes that our most intimate national loyalties are emotional
postulates. A t this juncture he digresses from Comte and par­
ticularly from Spencer, who limited knowledge to experience and
maintained that science alone can fulfill this requirement. Our
national attachments, says Ahad Ha‘Am, cannot be rationalized.
Maimonides, for instance, gave us a heritage of strict rationalism.
Yet, in all matters pertaining to the national life of his people, he
abandoned the sanctions of reason alone. His first eleven prin­
ciples are based upon reason. But the beliefs in the Messiah and
in the resurrection, both of which have national implications, were
accepted on faith alone. His devotion to the Hebrew language
also transcends any purely rational process. By analogy, Ahad
Ha‘Am indicates that for our day, too, the basic national urges in
Judaism have their origin in an emotional loyalty. Only the
superstructure of a system of national thought is rational.