Page 121 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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R
a b in o w ic z
— H
e r zl
t h e
P
l a y w r ig h t
1 0 9
strangely enough, are called years of emancipation and of eleva-
ation, to run after what others say . . . ” Twelve years earlier,
in his comedy
Was w ird man sagenf,
he had already exposed
the adverse effects on society of the conventional desire of the
“better classes” to conform to what others say. He felt that there
was no room among his people for women of this “non-Jewish”
ilk. To him the mother represented the focal point in the family,
which in turn was the nucleus of the nation.
As in matters of marriage, so also regarding motherhood, he
remained the traditionalist. Mrs. Samuel represents such a tradi-
tional mother type in
Das Neue Ghetto.
“A Jewish wife,” she
remarked to her future daughter-in-law, “should be to her hus-
band more than a Christian wife is to hers, because our menfolk
must endure much when they go out. Let the house therefore
be a home to them. Dress only for him, think only of him, live
only for him.”27 This is the role Herzl depicted for the Jewish
mother in the Diaspora, where the adherence to traditional vir-
tues had kept Jewry alive. Rebecca Littwak in
A ltneu land
was
such a mother and wife who, in the Diaspora and later in Pales-
tine, had kept her family together with love and forbearance,
in bad days and in good.
In a moving tribute, David Littwak thus characterized his
mother: “She was my mother. To me she meant Love and Pain
. . . She was house and home for us when we had neither house
nor home. She sustained us in affection, for she was Love. In
better days she taught us humility, for she was Pain. In good
days and in evil, she was the pride, the ornament of our house.
When we were so poor that we slept on straw, we still were rich,
for we had her. She thought always of us, never of herself. Our
house was a wretched hovel, and yet it held a treasure. Many a
palace has no such treasure. That was she . . . my mother. She
was an invalid, but Pain did not degrade her. It exalted her.
Often she seemed to me the symbol of the Jewish people in
the days of its sufferings.”28
V
As has already been pointed out, two principal themes domin-
ate Herzl’s dramas: (1) family life, and (2) the greed for money
in modern society. Having dealt so far with the first, we can now
turn to the second. Numerous examples may be adduced.
In
Causa Hirschkorn
the “invisible” lawyer, Dr. Moehlhof, is
driven by his egotistical impulses to his client Amalie Hirschkorn
and her large inheritance. In
W ildd iebe
the speculative banker,
Knoepke, is moved to cupidity when he discovers a huge amount
27 Act I, p. 17.
28
Old -N ewland,
pp. 294-295.