Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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but in Israel. The centers of creativity in Eastern Europe were
either totally annihilated by the Nazi onslaught, or are being
choked to death by forced assimilation und e r communist
regimes. As far as Jewish entities in Western, democratically gov­
erned countries are concerned, including the six million strong
community in North America, the dynamics of acculturation are
exerting a far reaching disintegrating influence upon their stabil­
ity. Thus, the negation of the Diaspora is not an illusion inspired
by supernationalistic sensitivities.
Prof. Schweid has dealt with this subject also from the stand­
point of the literary criticism of modern Hebrew literature in his
earlier works
Shalosh Ashmurot
(Three Periods, Tel-Aviv, 1964), a
collection of essays, and
Ha-Ergah li-Meleiut ha-Havayah
Yearning for Full Being, Merhavyah, 1968), on the poetry of
Bialik and Tschernichowsky. Schweid argues persuasively in his
U-Vaharta ba-Hayyim
(Choose Life),3 tha t the annual
commemoration of the tragedy in Europe, held in the past few
years on the 27th of Nisan, be observed as a national anniversary
marking the tragic end of Exile, just as the 9th of Ab marks its
beginning. As to the aims and purposes of the Zionist movement,
he advocates a policy of consolidation of its various components
to strengthen the consciousness of Israel’s centrality among Jews
everywhere, to promote immigration to Israel on a mass scale,
and to infuse vitality into programs of Hebraic culture.
Studies concerning the relationship between democracy and
theocracy in modern Israel entail more than theoretical specula­
tion. Can the two systems be reconciled with a view o f enabling
the halakhah to influence, if not determine, the legislative pro­
cesses of the Knesset, Israel’s democratically elected parliament?
Considering the question from a broader point of view, can a
modern state charged with complex responsibilities in the areas
of defense, economics, science, etc., operate within the parame­
ters of the religious code (Shulhan Arukh), assuming that this
might represent the will of the majority? Rabbi Hayyim Hir-
schensohn (1857-1935), a scholar skilled in the disciplines of rab­
binic Judaism, made attempts to think through the relevant
issues and even to suggest solutions. Schweid deserves special
credit for “rescuing” this thoughtful scholar from oblivion. His
Democracy and Halakhah: A Study in the Thought of Rabbi Hayyim
3 In his
Between Judaism and Zionism,
pp. 121-137.