Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

Basic HTML Version

of history. History to him is on a par with nature. God reveals
Himself in the former as in the latter. Likewise, history is domi-
nated by a creative force, and manifests in its course a divine
plan which is gradually unfolding itself. The aim of the plan is,
like in the other two spheres, the attainment of harmony of the
opposing forces. But while cosmic and organic spheres have al-
ready reached that period, history is still striving toward it, or as
he calls it, towards its Sabbath. In the process leading to the
attainment of the Sabbath or the goal, Jews and Judaism are to
play a leading role.
Society to Hess is an organism in which nations play the part
of organs, each performing a different function which are bene-
ficial to itself and simultaneously to the organism as a whole.
The function of the Jews is to bring humanitarian religion to the
world, the goal of which is the realization of universal law in
society, as well as the perfection of social life in this world. Hess
corroborated his view of Jews and Judaism by many data from
Jewish history and literature both in
Rome and Jerusalem
and in
later essays. I t is the function of the Jews to bring harmony or
the Sabbath period into the history of humanity.
This function, however, cannot be performed unless the Jews
once again become a nation on their own soil, for it is there that
their spiritual power will attain its pristine strength. He believed
that the Jews, when settled in Palestine at a point where the
three great continents — Europe, Asia, and Africa — meet, would
ultimately be able to bring about, through the influence of their
regenerated spirit, the harmonious society of nations.
In addition to the presentation of Hess’ views on history and
the national regeneration of Israel,
Rome and Jerusalem
a critical analysis of the political and cultural situation in the
general world and especially in Jewry. This analysis is of historical
value for an understanding of the conditions of the time.
The appearance of
Rome and Jerusale?n
created a mild stir in
literary circles, particularly in the Jewish. Only the more consci-
entious Jews approved of its nationalistic ideas. I. M. Rabinowicz,
the translator of the Talmud into French, declared him the only
true Jew in Paris. Another French-Jewish writer, Alexander Weil,
endorsed Hess’ ideas enthusiastically. In other Jewish circles, the
book did not fare well. French Jewry, on the whole, passed the
work over in silence, and the great Jewish scholar, Solomon Munk,
expressed himself disparagingly of Hess, primarily because the
latter was a follower of Spinoza. In Germany and adjacent coun-
tries, the work was received by the liberals and leaders of Reform
Judaism with adverse criticism. The historians, Meyer Kayserling
and Moritz Steinschneider, spoke ironically of Hess, the