Page 94 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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88
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
V in the sixteenth: the historic background of the
selihah
poetry.
He traces the growth of
piyyut
and
selihah
through the ages and
discusses their literary forms and linguistic characteristics. Nu­
merous appendices and valuable, mainly lexicographical lists
conclude the book. Given such foundations, this field of research
could grow to what it is today. And what is of equal importance,
Zunz gave the learned world of his day, through his renditions
of medieval Hebrew poetry, a glimpse of the creative power of
Israel in dispersion.
The Synagogue—The Perennial in Israel
Zunz depicts the Synagogue as representing the perennial in
Israel. It encompasses the historical and religious, the philosoph­
ical and poetical in Jewish life. In this conception, the liturgy
of the Synagogue became the mirror “of national history and
suffering, past and future, of the relationship between the spirit
of man and the Spirit (
Urgeist),
between the individual and
humanity, between man and nature.” Israel’s life and Israel’s
language had withdrawn from the world of historical action and
taken refuge in the Synagogue, where the Jew found all concerns
of life, personal, communal, universal, and theological, reflected
in prayer and liturgical song. In
piyyut
and
selihah
we witness a
renascence of Biblical prophecy and psalm.
Th e Synagogue Poetry of the Middle Ages
was followed in
1859 by
The Rites of the Synagogue Service
(“Die Ritus des
synagogalen Gottesdienstes”), which outlines the development of
the Palestinian rite, observed in the main by Ashkenazi Jewry,
and the Babylonian, adopted mainly by the Sephardi community.
Finally, in 1865, appeared the concluding volume of the trilogy,
History of the Literature of the Synagogal Poetry
(“Literatur-
geschichte der synagogalen Poesie”), a record of liturgic creations
based on a detailed and scrupulous examination of some five
hundred manuscripts. Zunz was aware that he offered “more
literature than history”; he possessed both the insights and the
scope of a historian, but the production of a faithful and com­
plete literary record fascinated him more than the writing of
history. And, as in his first treatise, he felt that a purely scholarly
consideration of the liturgic poetry would have no impact on the
Jewish community of his day. Just as the midrashic literature
had receded through the impact of modern European world
literature, so he felt was the
piyyut
being consumed by “the fire of
freedom,” the fight for liberation from political and ecclesiastical
bonds.
Zunz’s other works can be mentioned in passing only. A
volume of sermons (1823) is a selection of addresses in the pro­
gressive Synagogue in Berlin where Zunz served as a preacher
1820-22; a complete manuscript collection of his sermons is pre­