Page 246 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
sical testament/ o f this divine man!/ How nailed through with
song/ his shining hands . . ./And in his most crying grief/ he
loved his neighbor’s ear/ more than himself./ How poor and
stingy —/ compared with Mozart’s legacy—/is the Sermon on
the Mount.”
The universal and particular merge in this poem. The Jews,
admirers and creators of European culture, who strive to be
released of parochial restraints and attain universalism, are driv­
en back and crucified like Mozart. The Sermon on the Mount,
the very document which revealed to many modern Jewish writ­
ers Jesus in his Jewish-human, moral identity, is seen to be “poor
and stingy,” the testament of a selfish and mean Christianity,
which is not the universal human message it claims to be. There
is greater love in the martyred Mozart and all that he represents.
To sum up the materials we have been considering, we must
note that together with the desire to improve Christian-Jewish
relations, some of them reveal a polemic intent, which is to re­
fute Christian denials of the legitimacy of Judaism and to accuse
the Church of distortion. Jesus, the simple, plain Jew, “one of
us,” has been falsified by the Church and made over into an
alien theological concept. Moreover, emphasizing the Jewish­
ness of Jesus is a way of saying to the hostile Christian world
that it has not followed the model of the savior it acclaims. It
has not acted toward Jesus in a merciful “Christlike” manner.
Jesus is identified with the victims and becomes a symbol par
excellence for Jewish suffering.
Additional motivations have to do with changing concepts of
Jewish identity which compete with the traditional rabbinic view.
The different liberal religious, secularist and Zionist ideologies
have made their own selections from the historical cultural her­
itage and have placed their emphases on different value clusters.
Thus Spinoza, the rationalist, is viewed more positively in mod­
ern times than he was by the Amsterdam community which
excommunicated him. The secular Zionist movement broad­
ened traditional ideas about individuals and actions leading to
the political and cultural regeneration of the Jewish people.
Thus, Shabbatai Zebi has been regarded sympathetically as a
proto-Zionist, one who strove to realize national redemption,
and Jesus is hailed as a militant patriot. Some modern Jews,
for whom halakhah and traditional value concepts do not hold
the same significance as for their ancestors, have found in the