Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
4
“Techina” (prayer) and he will find that those difficulties will
melt away like the snows of the spring.” I f he still notices a
reticence, he very likely tries another brochure and in a still
lower voice assures the reserved and demure woman that if the
prayers of this booklet will be piously read it will constitute a
sure “ segula” (relief) for childbearing. “I know of one woman
who read this Techina and God blessed her with twins.”
II
I have brought this portraiture to show that in the midst of
want and poverty books were deemed by Jews to be an essential
commodity and that to their contents was attributed a power
which (despite the crust of superstition that gathered about them)
displays a realization of the sovereignty of ideas. For what is a
book if not the material representation of considered judgments
and vital ideas? What is the Torah if not a Book in which there
are crystallized the time-tested insights and experiences of the
Seers and Sages of Israel?
The Torah is a Book to which there has been attached a match-
less significance and sanctity. I t is a Unique Book in the sense
that it has a beginning but is without end. I t is like one of those
loose leaf encyclopedias which are constantly supplemented by
new facts but which are so integrated with antecedent facts that
the new data seem to be implied in or flow from the old truths.
Books are to thought what storage batteries are to electricity.
From nowhere and everywhere that mysterious and dynamic
essence is drawn and given a locale or habitat.
I l l
For centuries savants have been debating the question whether
ideas come ahead of things or the reverse. Plato affirmed that
ideas constitute the foundation and the very scaffold of the mate-
rial world while such thinkers as Democritus and Lucretius as-
serted that thoughts and concepts are concomitant effects, shadowy
projections of physical things and events. These men are the
forebears of two schools, representatives of which were not lacking
in recent decades. Haeckel and Watson stood arrayed against
Green and Royce.
The spokesmen of Judaism while avoiding extreme positions,
proclaim their belief in the paramouncy and priority of ideas.
God, say they, created the Universe according to a Plan. A Book —
the Torah — was God’s Blueprint.