Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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8 9
P
arzen
— L
eo
P
insker
An Admoni tion to His Brethren
Tha t summer in Berlin, September 1862, Pinsker published
his book in German anonymously:
Auto-Emancipation: An Ad-
monition to His Brethren by a Russian Jew?
The title page also
carried this symptomatic maxim: “If I do not help myself who
will help me? And if not now, when?”
Auto-Emancipation
is an analysis in depth of the Galut’s effect
on the Jewish people with special reference to anti-Semitism
which he regards as an hereditary disease, hence incurable. It
voices a fervent plea that the people terminate the Dispersion by
self-help through reconstituting the Jewish nation in a territory
which will in time attain sovereignty; in the Holy Land if feas-
ible, elsewhere if necessary. This goal must be achieved irrespee-
tive of political obstacles, Jewish opposition and financial
sacrifices. Work, wisdom, courage are bound to overcome all
obstacles.
It is fitting to cite the preface, since it illuminates the author’s
anxious perception of the situation and his anguished warning
that inaction will multiply the impending tribulations:
The misery caused by bloody deeds of violence has been
followed by a moment of repose, and baiter and baited can
breathe easier for a time. Meanwhile the Jewish fugitives
are being “repatriated” with the very money that was col-
lected to assist emigration. The Jews in the Occident have
again learned to endure the cry of “Hep, hep” as their fath-
ers did in days gone by. The outburst of flaming indignation
at this disgrace has turned into a rain of ashes which is grad-
ually covering the glowing soil. Close your eyes and hide
your heads in ostrich fashion as you will; if you do not take
advantage of the fleeting moment of repose and devise
remedies more radical than those palliatives with which
incompetents have for centuries tried to relieve our un-
happy people, lasting peace is impossible for you.3
Recognized as the writer of the brochure, on his return to
Odessa, he was welcomed by the small group of heroic spirits who
had organized themselves during those stormy years into local
chapters of
Hoveve Zion
with the objective to encourage immi-
gration and settlement in Palestine. On their insistence the
3References to
Auto-Emancipation
relate to the text translated by Dr. S.
Blondheim, Federation of American Zionists (New York, 1916) [Henceforth
indicated by AE].
*AE, p. 1.