Page 93 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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FABER / ELIEZER SCHWEID’S CONTRIBUTIONS
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to subjects of general interest, a program of “Jewish culture,”
including modern Hebrew literature, Eretz-Israel, Jewish his­
tory, Zionist ideology and, last but not least, traditions which sig­
nify the Jewish way of life, especially the holidays. Character
training centered on the ideal of individual achievement but­
tressed by the conviction that the modern Jew in his own home­
land shares in the historic privilege of reconstructing the nation
and creating a new national culture.
At a later stage in his intellectual growth, Schweid recognized
that secularist education failed to instill an awareness of one’s
unique cultural roots. The dilemma of “who am I?” stimulated an
effort at philosophic introspection which eventually led to
affirmations, in progressive order, of identification with family,
nation, culture, religion and God. Jewish identity thus became
defined in terms of a cultural-religious background in which reli­
gion is studied for its own intrinsic value, and not as a buttress for
o ther ideologies. Schweid has depicted these soul-searching
probings with utmost candor in his
Ha-Yehudi ha-Boded veha-
Yahadut
(The Solitary Jew and Judaism , Tel-Aviv, 1974), an
explicit record of his transition from secular individualism to reli­
gious nationalism. External events of extraordinary importance
in the history of the young State of Israel, especially the traumatic
Six-Day War, further accentuated the challenge to re-examine
and re-evaluate the role of secularism. It should be pointed out,
however, that notwithstanding his unequivocal affirmation of the
“religious way,” Schweid has remained steadfast in his commit­
ment to secularist perspectives. This stance — a secularist one
which strongly posits religious values — accounts for his accept­
ance o f substantive parts of Jewish law (halakhah), as well as his
strictures regarding the law’s relevancy to the daily lives of Isra­
el’s non-observant majority. It accounts also for his understand­
ing regarding the attitude of modern Jews towards prayer and
the ritualistic aspects of the Sabbath, on the one hand, and his
searching for elements of religiosity which may have meaning for
the secularly oriented, on the other.
HIS CREDO
Regarding the relationship between Jewish culture and the
halakhah, Schweid clearly states: “There is a definite dialectical
connection between the two. Culture by its very nature transmits