Page 120 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

Basic HTML Version

J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
114
bu ted this silence to Luzzatto’s profound disappo in tmen t w ith
the squalor of the Jewish settlement in Palestine, w ith its lack
of moral and ethical qualities, and with the constant squabbles
and strife between the different Jewish sects. Realizing he could
no t bu ild a new and healthy religious community on such a
crumbling foundation, Luzzatto chose to remain silent. In Bern-
stein’s ap t words, “In Palestine the curse of the Diaspora
triumphed over the messianic vision and completely engulfed the
visionary of Padua.”
At times Bernstein is carried away by his own leitmotif. In
his eagerness to find expressions of the ideal of redemp tion in
the writings of controversial authors under review, he sometimes
attributes to them ideas tha t cannot be fully substantiated by
the sources. Thus, he finds a reference in Spinoza’s
Tractatus
Theologico-Politicus
(ch. 3) to a second force in Jewish life
aside from religion, and although the term is no t mentioned,
Bernstein is certain it must refer to nationhood. Furthermore,
he suggests tha t Spinoza’s reference may be regarded as a
harbinger of Ahad H a ’am’s concept of a cu ltural center of the
Hebraic renaissance in Israel. Actually, Spinoza does mention
in the cited passage the possibility of the reestablishment of
Jewish ru le (
suum imperium iterum erecturos)
and of being
chosen by God once again
(deum eos de novo electurum),
bu t
tha t is all. No mention is made of a second force and no th ing
is said of the re tu rn to Palestine.
Ma jor Works on Med ieva l Hebrew Poetry
In addition to his Hebrew essays, Bernstein has made note-
worthy contributions in the publication of medieval Hebrew
poetry both secular and religious. I t is on the foundation of
these carefully edited texts tha t his repu ta tion as a scholar solidly
rests. Here space will permit us to discuss only his major works:
(1)
The Divan of Leo da Modena
(Jewish Publication Society,
Philadelphia, 1932); (2)
The Divan of Immanuel ben David
Frances
(Dvir, Te l Aviv, 1932); (3)
The Divan of Solomon ben
Meshullam Dapiera
(Alim, N. Y., 1942); (4)
Poems of Judah
Halevi; Religious and Secular
(Ogen, N. Y., 1944); (5)
,A l
Naharot Sefarad: Lamentations upon the Destruction of Jerusa-
lem and other Disasters
(Mahberot Le-Sifrut, T e l Aviv, 1956);
(6)
The Religious Poetry of Moses ibn Ezra
(Massadah, T e l
Aviv, 1956-1957).
As for Bernstein’s first major publication, it should be pointed
ou t that Leon of Modena was an em inent Ita lian poet and
scholar who flourished during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries and tha t he was prolific in his literary ou tpu t. He was