Page 244 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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e w i s h
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sicians, he did not neglect medical research: he edited the
D ictionary of M edicine and A llied Sciences
which was published
in Jerusalem in 1934. It was a brilliant piece of work: it required
assiduity, knowledge and judgment. Tschernichowsky sifted
60,000 terms which were collected by the well-known physician
and scholar, Dr. Aaron Meir Masie (1858-1930), and he listed
them in Latin, English, and Hebrew.
Tschernichowsky3s Stature
Tschernichowsky continued and advanced a revolutionary
trend initiated in Hebrew literature by Judah Leb Gordon.
That great poet of the nineteenth century fought spiritualiza-
tion of Jewry with the antidote of enlightenment. Micah Joseph
Berdyczewski preached the Nietzschean doctrine of physical
prowess to his pale-faced generation of Yeshivah-bred students.
Tschernichowsky viewed Jewry as an ethnic entity with un-
limited resources: physical vigor, intellectual prowess, original
imagination and an infinite capability of influencing the vital
civilizations of the world.
That excessive pride in the potential and actual qualities of
Jewry animated the excessive nationalism of Jacob Cohen, Uri
Zvi Gruenberg, Isaac Lamdan and even the bizarre represen-
tatives of “Canaanites״ who drew their inspiration from biblical
and, to a certain extent, post-biblical Jewry, and who considered
Jewish history between the fall of Betar in 135 C.E. and the
rise of the Jewish State in 1948 as an alien era and a national
waste land. But Tschernichowsky cannot be blamed for his
extremist imitators and successors even though he influenced
their work. In contradistinction to their monomaniacal biblicism,
he distilled elements of heroism from medieval Jewry. His
“Baruch of Mayence” and his “Ballads of Worms” attest to the
hypnotic hold of the Jewish Middle Ages on his sensitivities and
sensibilities. The heart of his achievement is the grand design
of a multileveled and multifaceted Jewry in an ambitious aspira-
tion to humanize humanity. Like T. S. Eliot who invigorated
English and American poetry through resuscitation of meta-
physical poetry and its chief exponent, John Donne, Tscher-
nichowsky discovered a new realm of Jewish consciousness in
proto-Judaism in the world of Semitic myths. Like Matthew
Arnold he forced a new confrontation with Greece on his gen-
eration. Like Nietzsche he adumbrated a transvaluation of values
in seductive imagery and sculptured verse.
His endowments were massive: an epic gift of Homeric di-
mensions, a sensitivity to language and a passion for neologisms,