Page 152 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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A full-fledged culture of Israel as a people . . . can never
come into being without mutual creativity between the Land
of Israel and the Diaspora.
The underlying concept here is actually the time-honored one
kelal Israel,
the totality of Israel as a people. An extensive
elaboration of this basic idea and the conclusions that flow from it
is offered in the voluminousitafry/on
As a prelude to
his discussion, the author advances a highly original thesis regard­
ing two decisive phases in the shaping of our history which he
terms “Houses.” The first “House” corresponds more or less to
the biblical period; the second — to the post-biblical era down to
1948. The rise of the State of Israel marks the beginning of the
third “House.” The detailed elucidation of this historiosophic
thesis is quite ramified, and Rawidowicz himself conceded that he
needed more time and contemplation for its full elucidation.
Yet one thing is unreservedly clear — the Babylonian exile,
which opens the era of the Second House, also marks the begin­
ning of the Diaspora as a permanent element of Jewish existence.
From then on the historical reality, for better or for worse, is that
the Jewish people, with all its spiritual oneness, has physically
been dispersed over various countries and continents. It is true
that one country, Eretz Israel, has been in a sense esteemed above
any other country and will ever be eminently Jewish in many
ways. But this does not diminish the importance of all other places
on the global map of Jewish settlement. Hence, the concept of
shelilat ha-galut,
the negation of the Diaspora (Rawidowicz consist­
ently eschewed the use of the term Exile), is sheer absurdity, it is
like negating reality. The Diaspora has too long been a fact of life
for Jews to disappear by any wishful thinking; it is here to stay.
The rebirth of the Jewish State not only did not alter, but con­
firmed the actual situation, namely that the Land of Israel was not
meant to be the home of all Israel. There was no massive exodus
from the dispersion to the Promised Land although the Law of
Return was invoked and the gates were wide open. To speak
therefore of the full ingathering of the exiles is sheerly visionary.
It borders on messianic contemplation and is certainly not at-