Page 184 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
creativity and set patterns for continued expansion of Hebrew.
The linguistic formulations of the
paytanim
made the people
aware of the internal resources of the language that just seemed
to be lying hidden away, awaiting new realities to arise and force
the language to yield its treasures.
While apparently not believing in the future of a modern
secular Hebrew literature in Germany, Zunz was convinced that
now was the right time for a renewal of Jewish scholarship in
Germany in the German language. Indeed, he seemed to be
insisting that if this chance is missed now, it may never come
again.
I f one would have pressed Zunz for an explanation of the
necessity for a Jewish scholarship in Germany, I doubt whether
he would have been able to find a reasonable answer. Most prob­
ably he would have asserted that such a scholarship would be­
come a strong instrument in the struggle for Jewish civil equal­
ity. The Germans would see the greatness of past Jewish culture:
its ethics, poetry, philosophy, etc., and would change their at­
titude. Our low civil status, Zunz was convinced, was to a great
extent the result of the low status of our scholarship. At present,
we almost have no scholars prepared to present our achieve­
ments before world opinion. This was also the reasoning of
Simone Luzzatto (
Discorso,
etc., end of chap. 16), and Moses
Mendelssohn. (See Mendelssohn’s letter to Herz Homberg of
November 20, 1784, in
Gesammelte Schriften,
V (Leipzig, 1844),
p. 680.)
Zunz believed that once the nations would learn the true na­
ture of Judaism, they would emancipate themselves from their
prejudices and open their arms to us. As time went on, however,
I am sure that this philosophy of the
Wissenschaft des Judentums
gained in depth and national spirit, and it ceased to be justified
only by external considerations.
The historical writings of Zunz which accompany his history
of Jewish literature throughout the ages, constitute a record
of incessant terror, violence and cruelty. Expulsions and unbear­
able money exactions, abuses and murders that never came to
an end. Even in the 16th, 17th and as late as the 18th century,
the Catholic Church was still burning Jews alive. Zunz’s lists
of atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people throughout
Christianity have no comparison but in the Hitlerian Holocaust
of our own days. What wonder that cries of injustice and despair