Rome and Jerusalem/Second Letter
|←First Letter||Rome and Jerusalem. The Last National Question by
Thoughts on death and resurrection-Family tombs-Kindred souls-Jewish and Hindu saints-Schopenhauer-The end of days-The Sabbath of History.
Both sorrow and joy are contagious. You, my friend, have imbued me with your thoughts on death and resurrection. Heretofore, I have never visited a cemetery, but now the place holds an attraction for me. For the first time, since the untimely death of my mother, I visited the place where she lies buried and where later, during my absence from home, they laid my father to rest. I had forgotten the prayer usually read by Jews over the graves of their departed, and in ignorance my lips murmured the passage from the second of the eighteen benedictions: "Thou, O Lord, art mighty forever, thou restorest the dead to life..." when suddenly I noticed a lone tower on a nearby grave. Mechanically I picked it, carried it home with me and put it among my papers. Only later, I learned whose earthly remains rest beneath that mound. I knew then that the treasure, as you named the flower, belongs to you alone.
There are mystic relations between the living and the dead, though the nature and character of the communion will forever remain an unsolved riddle. More than your wonderful dreams, do my experiences in the waking state confirm the influence that the departed exert on the fate of those who remain behind.
"The departed souls continue to live in spirit."
And therefore do I love also death. But must I then hate life? Nay, I love life as well, only I love it in the sense the greatest thinker of the centuries, Spinoza, loved it. The more humanitarian, the holier, the more divine life is, the more does it appear that life and death are of equal value and equal worth.
The Jews alone were able to rise to that spiritual height, where life and death appear to be of equal value; and yet they never renounced life, but clung to it tenaciously. Already eighteen hundred years ago, a Jew, who has since become a redeemer among the gentiles, found an extra-mundane point of support, from which he wished to lift the world from its poles.
The great teachers of the knowledge of God were always Jews. Our people not only created the noblest religion of the ancient world, a religion which is destined to become the common property of the entire civilized world, but continued to develop it, keeping pace with the progress of the human spirit. And this mission will remain with the Jews until the end of days, i.e., until the time when, according to the promise of our Prophets, the world will be filled with the knowledge of God. The "end of days," so often spoken of by the Prophets, is not to be understood to mean, as some misinterpret it, the end of the world, but it denotes the period when the development and education of humanity will reach their highest point.
We are on the eve of the Sabbath of History and should prepare for our last mission through a thorough understanding of our historical religion.
We cannot understand a single word of the Holy Scriptures, so long as we do not possess the point of view of the genius of the Jewish nation which produced these writing. Nothing is more foreign to the spirit of Judaism than the idea of the salvation of the individual which, according to the modern conception, is the corner-stone of religion. Judaism as never drawn any line of separation between and the family, the family and the nation, the nation and humanity as a whole, humanity and the cosmos, nor between creation and creator. Judaism has no other dogma but the teaching of the unity. But this dogma is with Judaism, not a mere fossilized and therefore barren belief, but a living, continually recreating principle of knowledge. Judaism is rooted in the love of the family; patriotism and nationalism are the flowers of its spirit, and the coming regenerated state of human Society will be its ripe fruit. Judaism would have shared the fate of other religions which were fossilized through their dogmas and which will finally disappear through the conflict with science, had it not been for the fact that religious teachings are the product of life. Judaism is not a passive religion, but an active life factor which has coalesced with the national consciousness into one organic whole. It is primarily the expression of a nationality whose history for thousands of years coincides with the history of the development of a humanity and the Jews are a nation which, having once acted as the leaven of the social world, is destined to be resurrected with the rest of civilized nations.