Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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J e w i s h B o o k A n n u a l
suffers (in many poems). The outgrowth of this is a whole
ethical system which correlates all of Leivick's dramatic works
and his most important poetry, and is simultaneously the con-
tinuation and a higher stage in the development of Jewish
ethics. Leivick’s subdued words are a variation on the Talmudic
theme that every man is a microcosm, a world unto himself.
Leivick found a place for himself among the noblest exponents
and formulators of Jewish morals.
A Jewish and Universal Poet
As a result, Leivick became the most Jewish of our poets,
and at the same time the most universal. The literature of our
people is primarily a literature of ideas, with a message cal-
culated to uplift and redeem the Jew and humanity; a literature
of moral castigation. A collection of Leivick's poems is an au-
thentic and absorbing morality book. This alone gives assurance
that his work will perdure. He will be read and studied for a
long, long time. Through him our generation will stand out not
only as one of unequalled tragedy, but also as a benediction.
Leivick's work is marked by profound traditionalism. His
motifs were taken from Jewish sources—from the web of folk
legends, the Bible, and the history of the diaspora. At the same
time he was most modern and sensitive to the present, to the
dangers and dilemmas of every passing moment he experienced
in his milieu. In his writings, the living Jewish present was
linked to all the ages of torment of the Jewish spirit, from the
sacrifice of Isaac to the perception of the sacred both in destruc-
tion and in revival. Leivick's works constitute a new mythology,
an alloy smelted of old and new materials, which reinterpreted
and reevaluated salvation and sacrifice
(Di Akeyde)
from the
sanctity of God to the sanctity of man. Thus Leivick the poet
becomes Leivick the creator of a mythology, and in consequence
we developed a Leivick myth. We retaliated in the coin he had
minted for us.
Peretz helped us to realize that the giving of the Torah was
not a solitary, one-time act, but an ongoing, continuing process.
Leivick has shown us that the tragedy of Job is endless, that
Isaac is sacrificed in every generation, that Ezekiel's exhortation
“In your blood, live” is an inescapable mandate, that Messiah
ben Joseph and Messiah ben David are eternal twins, that we
are all imprisoned in a barricaded tower as was Rabbi Meyer
of Rothenberg (Maharam); that we often have an opportunity
to attend parties in Fernwald
(Wedd ing in Fernwald
); that in
us and to us occur all the great and tragic events Leivick illumi-
nated in his works.