Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
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
(The
Yearning for Full Being, Merhavyah, 1968), on the poetry of
Bialik and Tschernichowsky. Schweid argues persuasively in his
essay
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.