Page 123 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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SILBERSCHLAG / HARRY SACKLER
117
decree of divorce which she was willing to accept but her father
vowed — out of shame and frustration — that he would rather die
than consent to his daughter’s separation from her husband. At
this point the marriage broker arrives with the shattering news:
The daughter had been baptized and was about to marry the
young squire. The words of the Seer to the father of Luba teem
with dramatic power: “You were . . . the custodian of a strange
gift. She was never yours; nor could I make her mine . . . I wanted
her. Nor was she unwilling to go through life at my side. But she
could not. Her struggle and mine were of no avail.” The Seer
offers a substituted therapy for the father’s wound of shame and
frustrated hope for a great son-in-law: He will fulfill the duty of a
son for him and recite for him the Kaddish, the prayer for the
dead, at the proper time. But the father feels he has lost his
daughter and he is about to curse the Seer. As soon as he is hustled
out of the room, the Zaddik of Lizensk decrees that the terrible
gift of miraculous vision shall die with him: “You shall be the first
and the last of your line . .
The Seer accepts the imprecation:
“The First and the Last. Amen.” Curtain.
DRAMATIC QUALITIES
Scenes of dramatic power in minor and major plays revealed
Sackler’s central achievement and ability: As a master of dialog, as
a manipulator of plot, as an expert of characterization he had no
rivals in Jewish literature except Mattathias Shoham. But a com­
parative study of the two authors would not yield significant
results: Sackler wrote plays in prose, Shoham created plays in a
poetic idiom; Sackler ransacked Jewish history and Jewish
legends from pre-Canaanite to contemporary times and used
them as themes for his plays; Shoham’s single source for his
extant plays was the Bible. Sackler wrote in three languages
though he asserted — and repeated the assertion toward the end
of his life— that he would not leave without a Hebrew translation
any one of the creative efforts which helped to shape his literary
personality. Shoham’s work was done in Hebrew.
The inherent didacticism, the mystical strain, and the ability to
write remotest history as present contemporaneity are the three
chief characteristics which characterize Sackler’s oeuvre. Even his
tragicomedy
Lights Out of Darkness,
which borrowed its theme
from the persecution of Jews in Frankfurt in the seventeenth