Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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pictures embody a wholesome humanism lit up and kindled by
deep, mystical spirit so characteristic of Judaism. The observer
will not find here the warrior and scenes of battle and carnage,
but studies of the great men and women of Israel, God-intoxicated,
with the divine spirit brooding on their countenances — dreamers,
creators of Judaism, makers of an ethical and spiritual world in
which all men may experience beauty, truth, justice, love, and
Here one can find Bezalel the artist, who conceived and designed
the first sanctuary in which to worship God amidst beauty and
dignity. Here is David, singer of sweet songs and player of the
harp; and David the King, human enough to dance before the ark;
here, too, is the enduring David, singer of songs. Deborah, not
the woman of the sword, compelled to that war because of Israel’s
enemies, is pictured as a “mother in Israel,” the patient judge,
the kindly arbiter, the bringer of judgment between man and man.
Here one sees Jacob struggling with his antagonist, perhaps the
outer projection of his own lesser self, ultimately to emerge victor,
champion of his God.
The great prophets come to life — Isaiah, noble prince, dreamer,
amidst a pagan world of war and battle, of a world of perfect
peace, ruled by a Prince of Peace; Jeremiah, the unafraid patriot,
withstands king and mob, to speak his mind freely, a hero of the
moral realm of life, who could even win the love of the Negro
boy who later drew him from the pit of death to save him; and
Ezekiel, vision-tossed, who in the valley of dried bones envisaged
the resurrection of his people, and rightly foretold them restored
to nationhood again.
Here Amos, shepherd and tender of sycamore trees, confronts
the chief of the priests in the Temple court, fearless. Ordered by
the fat, gross, and worldly priest from the Temple precincts, Amos
bears himself off, still unbroken, but compelled now to resort to
the written, instead of the spoken, word. Here Job, bowed by
affliction, wracked with pain and suffering, torn inwardly by
harassing doubts, yet bears upon his face his unshaken faith in
God. Here in the Garden of Eden, Adam, man of the earth, and
Eve, giver of life to human beings, dwell amidst the bounties of a
good world, rich and abundant, that God designed for His children,
and with infinite beauty, for God is the great artist of artists, a
lover of beauty; but in Eden, peering through the beautiful foliage,
arrogance, the arrogance of power in his bearing, the snake of
evil rears his theatening head — a warning against the dangers of
the love of power. Here is Queen Esther, royal and proud, and
all the other magnificent pictures — a gallery of the immortals
whom the Jewish genius has given to mankind.