Page 187 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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BARZILAY / LEOPOLD ZUNZ
179
time immemorial. These laws are especially barren o f any logic,
and are in contradiction to common sense. They cause depression
and hinder unity and real brotherhood among men. They give
rise to loneliness and seclusion . . . and all of it because o f a
religious feeling that is already dim and passe . . . (S.P.
Rabinowicz,
op. cit.,
p. 174.)
There apparently must have been a time when the young
Zunz was not observant of the ceremonial law. This was implied
by Geiger’s letters to him (Rabinowicz,
op. cit.,
chap. V). In the
forties, however, when Geiger embraced extreme reform, their
roads separated, never to merge again.
JEWISH NAMES
With the same conviction and zeal Zunz wrote about the
names of the Jews and their right to choose whatever name
they wanted:
Yet what is this panicky activity for? What is this painful struggle
to gain a right which God, not man, granted? Body and soul,
air and language, spirit and inventiveness remain the absolute
property of every human being. The possession and choice of
a name are the holy right of parents or family, and there is no
law which can limit it, no morality that can abolish it and no
religion that can prosper by opposing it.
[Gesammelte Schriften,
II, pp. 81-82.]
The most embracing characteristic of Zunz’s work is its ec­
umenical character, its notion of the universality of the Jewish
people. “Klal Israel” was for him a living reality of which he
was deeply aware. Like Yashar of Candia of the 17th century
(1591-1655), he ignored the rabbinic-Karaitic rift and, as far
as the historical-cultural record was concerned, he treated the
Karaites as an integral part of the Jewish people [See I. Barzilay,
Yoseph Shlomo Delmedigo (Yashar o f Candia
) (Brill, 1974), chap.
22: “Relations with Karaites,” pp. 311-314; see also ibid., “In­
dex”]. He referred to many Karaite
paytanim
and cited their
piyutim.
He also mentioned them among the travellers to the
Holy Land. He also showed a tolerant attitude toward Yiddish,
though he was a strong opponent of its usage in Germany. He
praised Mendelssohn above all for having helped to remove
this “ostliche Barbarei” from German Jewry. [“Rede gehalten