Page 201 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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GOLDMAN/AN UNKNOWN AMERICAN HEBREW-YIDDISH POLEMIC
193
book cited in the bibliographies of American Judaica.23His ran­
cor against the American rabbinate did not soften or diminish
with time. After writing
Vehu Shaul
he penned a witty and vit­
riolic poem
The Clock,
which was appended to
Vehu Shaul.
The
poem, which appears in both Hebrew and Yiddish versions, em­
ploys the metaphor of the ticking clock. The hands of the clock
are the rabbis of America — who are continually contending
with one another. In two of the harshest Hebrew stanzas (num­
bers 13 and 14) Harkavy condemns the hypocrisy of the rab­
binate, a rabbinate that he had already described in
Vehu Shaul
as composed of the “little foxes” who ruin the vineyard.
13) Everything is kosher! Cries the hypocritical rabbi
There is no treyf here! Money makes even the illegitimate,
legitimate.
It is I who have spoken, I, the well-known rabbi.
And with money I can sweeten even the bitterest herbs.
14) For eating leavened bread on Passover and unkosher meat,
For desecrating the Sabbath, and shaving the beard.
For all o f these things they can sell permits aplenty,
And for doing so will pad their nests with money.24
Though Orthodox critics of the American Jewish scene per­
sisted in their pessimism until the middle of this century (and
beyond) their criticism was tempered by new realities: by the
undeniable growth and success of European-style Yeshivot in
America (some of these situated far from urban centers), by
the numerical growth of adherents to an ultra-Orthodox way
of life, and by the growth of Jewish scholarship on the pre-
Wissenschaft model. To Shaul Gedaliah Harkavy, living in
Nashua, New Hampshire in the first decade of the twentieth
century, these developments would have been inconceivable. In
evaluating Weinberger’s 1887 work, Jonathan Sarna noted that
Weinberger had “little hope for Judaism as he knew i t . . . .The
23. Harkavy does not appear in Ben-Zion Eisenstadt’s volumes on American
Jewish rabbinical scholars:
Hakhmei Yisrael ba-Amerikah
(New York, 1903),
Dorot Aharonim
(New York, 1915),
Anshei ha-Shem be-Artzot ha-Berit
(New
York, 1935). According to F. C. Shepard (ed.),
The Nashua Experience:
1673-1978,
a synagogue was founded in Nashua in 1899 and a Hebrew
School in 1903. I assume that Harkavy taught in this school. The
Nashua,
N.H. Directory
(Boston, 1911) lists “Saul Harkaway, teacher.” He is listed
as living with his brother, “Joseph Harkaway, dry goods.”
24. Harkavy, p. 106.