Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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66
JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
the last version, completed by Pann after the death of
h is own
son,
Abraham seems for the first time to submit and to accept the fate
he has brought on his child. As opposed to Mossinsohn’s revolt
against the fate of the modern Isaac, Pann expresses his submis­
sion to the divine verdict.
It appears that during the four decades separating Pann’s
earliest versions from his later ones, Abraham has aged together
with the artist himself. And yet, in spite of the relevance of the
scenes to the artist’s biography, there are no direct references to
actual events. On the contrary, the heroic mythical quality is
enhanced from one version to another.
The theme of Isaac’s Sacrifice has undergone a process of
secularization from the earliest picture by Lilien to Pann’s last
one. Pann continues and further develops Lilien’s emphasis on
the interpretation of the scene in terms of the human relationship
of father and son. But paradoxically, both artists cannot avoid
filling the vacuum left by the “deconsecration” of the scene with
Christian allusions (the cross, the kiss of Judas, the Pieta). But
does the humanization of the scene indeed guarantee a specific
Jewish character as desired by Pann? Previous Christian artists,
such as Rembrandt (whom Pann greatly admired) had already
given the theme a particularly human interpretation. In spite of
the emphasis on the human element, Pann cannot avoid in his
later works turning his heroes into titanic figures who become
part of nature. The whole universe seems to take part in the fatal
act. The development of Pann’s conception of the Sacrifice in­
spires a growing tragic feeling that Isaac is indeed sacrificed. The
Sacrifice of Isaac, in which God does not interfere, is part of the
modern Israeli conception. The traditional religious meaning of
the Sacrifice as a trial gives way to a new, and no less tragic
understanding of this act as symbolizing the actual inescapable
need to sacrifice the young for the attainment of the Zionist goal.