Page 133 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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BEN-HORIN / HORACE MEYER KALLEN
127
Zionism which does not exclude the possibility of building Jewish
life outside of Palestine.
HEBRAISM AND HELLENISM
Why work for Jewish survival? Kallen’s answer was Jewishness
or “Hebraism.” For him, these terms signalized a sharp contrast to
“Hellenism.” First, they affirmed “the invincible loyalty to life
itself, in the face of overwhelming odds.”27 Its most dramatic text
is Job 13:15, which Kallen translates as “I know that He will slay
me; nevertheless will I maintain my ways before Him.”28 Second,
while the aim of “Hellenism” is
perfection
qua harmony, order
eternal, “the aim of Hebraism is
righteousness.”29
Third, “He­
braism” meant that the world was not immutable but “a flux, in
which events occurred freely according to no predetermined
plan.” Repentance could induce forgiveness. Hence, the reality of
realities is change, not inexorable destiny.30 This, in turn, means
that modern scientific method, democracy, and philosophical
pragmatism embody “the essential finding o f Hebraism.”31
Fourth, Hebraism was a declaration of confidence and courage:
The very act of maintaining one’s ways may render the
slaying impossible. To believe in life in the face of death, to
believe in goodness in the face of evil, to hope for better
times to come, to work at bringing them about — that is
Hebraism. Whether Biblical or Talmudic, that is the inner
history of the Jews, from the beginning to the present day—
an optimistic struggle against overwhelming odds. That is
Hebraism . . . of old age and experience.32
On February 4, 1962 ,1 asked Kallen, in the course of a telecast
on “The American Idea and American Education,”whether “the
American Idea”was another term for democracy. He replied that
27 Kallen,
Judaism at Bay,
p. 239.
28
Ibid.,
p. 8; also p. 251. See also Kallen,
The Book ofJob as a Greek Tragedy
(New
York, 1959 [1918]), pp. 76, 109.
29 Kallen,
Judaism at Bay,
p. 8.
30
Ibid.,
p. 9.
31
Ibid.,
p. 15.
32
Ibid.,
p. 13.