Page 126 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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g rounded in absolute choice. Rather, it is the necessary o u t­
come o f eternal ethics. God is He who gives men good and
evil, the blessing and the curse. But only sin creates curse,
only justice brings happiness (Moritz Lazarus).
Jewish ethics says tha t man is born only for purposes o f
the community, tha t his mission is [to ensure] the existence
o f the world. Since there is no existence o f all except
th rough each o f its individual components, each individual
is a whole world (Yehiel M. Pines).
“Shall not the Judg e o f all the ea rth deal justly?” (Genesis
18:25) — herein is expressed the strong faith in God’s
morality which derives from His essence, and God is not
Himself outside the boundaries o f the ethical. For us, ethics
is something absolute, absolute even in regard to God, and
because o f this, man has the righ t o f addressing to Him his
dem and (Julius Guttman).
The One God o f Israel is not the end point o f an old mode
o f thinking which has come thus far. Ra ther it is the begin­
ning o f a new mode o f thinking, o f a new logic: the ethical
logic (Leo Baeck).
Even ethical life must not be made into an end in itself. I f
one separates it from the concrete phenom ena o f human
life, from work, from play, from family life, etc. — then e th ­
ical life degenerates and becomes a kind o f sterile self-
righteouness and the pose o f a saint (Mordecai M. Kaplan).
Always train yourself to speak all your words gently. . . .
In this way you will be saved from anger which is an evil trait
leading men into sin (Moses Nahmanides).
Scharfstein has much to say on those “m inor ethics” called m an ­
ners. His
Be-Macarkhoth ha-Hayyim
o r
Problems of Life
(1967), fo r example, comments on boasting; posturing; on
poo r language which bares the impoverished soul; on the p rob ­
lem o f taking riches fo r gran ted , whether ea rned or not; on fol­
lowing the mob in tastelessness and idiocy; on making children
ou r masters; on the deterioration o f love. Here, as in all his
writings, Scharfstein is the intensely practical, specific and
unambiguous guide, not o f the intellectually perp lexed bu t o f the
d isoriented by cu r ren t fashion and fad and by the distance from
the goodness and the a r t o f living o f the Jewish people’s T o rah
and love o f Zion.