Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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booklet was translated into Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian. With-
out much ado Pinsker agreed that the historical homeland should
become the exclusive goal of the national restoration. Thus
Pinsker became a “Zionist.”
He was now over sixty, and ailing. Because of incessant pres-
sure he assumed the leadership of the
Hibbat Zion
unorganized, parochial, tottering. During the remainder of his
life (he died in 1891), with the help of a handful of companions
he instituted order, organization, some stability and cooperation
in the enterprise. I t was transformed into an international move-
ment of a sort, a herculean achievement indeed.
Auto-Emancipation is Poetry
Quality is not qualified by quantity. T ru th is often revealed
in miniscule. Tha t is why poetry is the queen of literature and the
poet is the sovereign of the literary art. Pinsker in this sense was
a poet and his
although technically a prosaic
essay, is poetry. I t is imaginatively charged with the fire of truth;
expressed with precision, without waste or sentimentality. The
poet glimpsed the total picture of Jewish history and perceived
that the Jewish people possessed an innate courage beyond fear.
Thus he could sweep aside the obstacles in the way of the envi-
sioned Jewish national home with the clarion call: “For the
wanderer of a thousand years no way, no matter how distant,
may be too long. . . . Let ‘now or never' be our watchword. Woe
to our descendants, woe to the memory of our Jewish contempo-
raries if we let this moment pass by.”4
After the publication of
Pinsker received
considerable mail, both friendly and hostile. A favorable message
came from Dr. I. Rulf, rabbi of Memel which was then part of
Germany, and an iron bond of friendship quickly ensued. It is
appropriate to quote parts of the first letter—dated September 25,
1882, about a fortnight after the appearance of the brochure—
Pinsker wrote to Riilf in reply to his message:
Your reputation is known to me and it is gratifying to
have won to my idea a person of your eminence who . . .
could take on himself to champion our holy work. For a
difficult struggle will have to be waged in order that the
idea of our rebirth be not trampled. . . . However . . . the
masses will take
our side.
In any event our true friends must not sit by idly. Against
the shouters an even louder clamor capable even of rousing
*Ibid. ,
pp. 17, 23.