Page 106 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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ination, is always present. Geiger himself sensed this in his feel-
ing that Jewish history, which he conceived as spiritual progress,
was centered in the experiences of the Jewish people, the vessel
which contained the ideals whose bearers disseminated them
by precept and example. Even history contains an inexplicable
daimonic element that submits to compression into a rational
framework and while Geiger recognized this divine spark when
he saw it, he never quite gave it its due. Our ideas about God,
man, Israel and humanity have expanded since his time, at least
they have changed. The nationalistic features to which he was
opposed have undergone a transvaluation within Judaism itself,
so that only extreme “religionists” would say the Jew in any
country is only a citizen of it of the Jewish persuasion.
Nationalism has not proven the boon it was hoped to become
—witness the crucial events of recent years—and emancipation of
the Jew has frequently been purchased at a high price in the
loss of Jewish values and Jewish consciousness. Pale religious
universalism is perhaps only the ghost of the brotherhood it
proclaims and the Messianic era of peace is still as far away as
ever. It requires much more for its advent than Geiger dreamed.
Despite this, he was a great leader, a fine son of his people, a
“light of the exile” and surely a blessing to all Israel.