Page 113 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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W A X M A N --------- MOSES HE S S 1 8 1 2 1 8 7 5 ־
(repentant) and reminded him that he was for a great
part of his life estranged from Judaism. The latter, however, was
not averse to the colonization of Palestine as a charitable under-
taking. Ludwig Philipson said in his widely-read
Algemeine Zei-
tung des Judentums
that at first he wanted to ignore the work
altogether, but he ultimately thought it more advisable to refute
its dangerous thesis of Jewish nationalism. He therefore vehe-
mently denounced Hess’ views and defended vigorously the con-
ception of the liberals that the Jews were united only by their
Mosaic confession and not by nationalism. He, nevertheless,
admitted that the Jews were a race. Abraham Geiger was more
vehement in his denunciation of Hess’ ideas, and even belittled
him personally. He also warned Orthodoxy against such
But these needed no warning. For instance, Joseph Lehmann,
the representative of this group, in his review in
Der Israelit
not forget Hess’ earlier relation to the Jewish religion nor was he
satisfied with his present conception of Judaism in which the
Torah did not play the main role. He was especially concerned
with his advocacy of a return to Palestine. We have to wait, he
said, for the Messiah and should not force redemption.
The only sympathetic review was by the great historian,Heinrich
Graetz in
Monatschrift fu r die Wissenschaft und Geschichte des
Graetz agreed with Hess about the valuable role that
Jewish nationalism was destined to play in the future existence of
the Jews, but turned it neatly in another direction, namely, as a
factor in the development of a better religious life. When it came
to this assertion Graetz was more cautious than convinced.
The general literary world took little notice of
Rome and Jeru-
Even the socialists with whom Hess never parted company
generally ignored it. Bebel refused to review the work. The two
who did review it, Philip Becker and Michelet, showed their
antagonism in various degrees. The former did not fail to belittle
the Semites. He told Hess that his theory of society as an organ-
ism had been known to the Germans long ago, and that the Jews
could not save humanity, for they were destined to remain scat-
tered and only act as individuals in any field. The latter was
more polite, but he also did not see in Judaism a savior of hu-
manity and the bearer of the ideas of a perfect social life. The
nationalism of the Jews only contributed to their isolationism, he
maintained. He also doubted the possibility of a national regen-
eration in the Jews’ own land, and ironically expressed his belief
that Rothschild would prefer to remain the king’s Jew rather
than become the king of the Jews.
Yet Hess was not discouraged. He devoted the last thirteen years