Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
16
In reviewing the history of Jewish self-censorship one must con-
sider the unusual conditions that governed the struggle for Jewish
survival before passing harsh judgments in the light of modem
ideas. National existence is structured on two foundations: a
physical homeland and a unique spirit. In exile, the strength of
the Jews derived from their cultural and spiritual patrimony,
whose defence was an ineluctable
sine qua non
for self-preservation.
The rabbis, as the guardians of this
mekor hayyim
(“source of
life”), fought to safeguard and insure its future. It is a tribute to
them that, under the almost insuperable handicaps of the exile,
there was more freedom of expression among the Jews than among
the nations who possessed their own homeland.