(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Choose Life The Biblical Call To Revolt"

296 



53-5291? 



296 G98c 
Gutkind 
Choose life. 
$4.00 



53-5292? 



l: 



Keep Your Card in This Pocket 

Books will be issued only on presentation of proper 
library cards. 

Unless labeled otherwise, books may be retained 
for two weeks. Borrowers finding books marked, de- 
faced or mutilated are expected to report same at 
library desk; otherwise the last borrower will be held 
responsible for all imperfections discovered. 

The card holder is responsible for all books drawn 
on this card. 

Penalty for over-due books 2c a day plus cost of 
notices. 

Lost cards and change of residence must be re- 
ported promptly. 

Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 




TENSION ENVEt'OPE CORP. 



CHOOSE LIFE 



"I have set before you life and death . . . choose life." 

DEUTERONOMY 30:19 



The Biblical Call to Revolt 



ERIC GUTKIND 




HENRY SCHUMAN, NEW YORK 



Copyright 1952 by Eric Gutkind 
Manufactured in the United States of America 
by H. Wolff, New York 



TO MY WIFE 

I dedicate this book. 
Her life is in its lines. 
A silent life of deepest modesty. 
A devout life of deepest devotion. 
E.B.G. 



A Dedication as Preface 



This book is dedicated to my wife. Her life is 
in the lines of this book. A silent life of deepest modesty. A 
devout life of unswerving devotion. 

A profound Jewish axiom has it that where the Name of 
God is silent, His Name is deep inside. This treatise tries to 
study the methods for making the global groundswell of the 
masses of humanity articulate. As is the lowly so is truth. It is 
humble as it is rebellious. 

Genuine religion is a call to revolt. It is the uprising of 
Man against the assault from the abysses of nothingness. It is 
the fortification of Man's autonomy. It is the call that estab- 
lishes human dignity, the Divine commandment: "Stand up- 
right! 7 ' It is the demand for determined decision to overcome 
the basic split in Man. The "Good Book" is the primal 
pattern for revolution. But "religion" has become the way to 
evade the confrontation with God's incandescent presence. 
Man is deprived of his supreme power which is perverted 
into a demonic force to stop mankind's ascent and to protect 
those who are incapable of love. Love is not sentiment but 
devotion. Love transcends. Transcendence is enhancement. 
"Religion" has become a device to leave things unchanged. 

To wrest Man's most powerful tool from the hands of its 
usurpers is the way still open to save Man. This may be 
called the Vertical Way. It is the road to global maturity. 

It has been proclaimed that "God is dead." The God of the 
theologians certainly is. But where the people are on their 
exodus from bondage there the fiery pillar will be mightily 
in their midst. 



Contents 



I 

"ARISE EACH MORNING LIKE A LION" i 

II 

THE FALLACIES OF TIMIDITY 31 

The Roads to Nothingness 

III 

THE VISION OF FULLNESS 111 

The One Way the Vertical Way 

IV 

THE REVOLUTIONARY BIBLE 147 

The Sole True Dividing Line 

V 

THE TRUTH THAT CREATES A PEOPLE 211 

The Three Absolute Postulates 



VI 

THE REDEMPTION OF ACTION 267 

The Ultimate Promises of the Biblical Revolution 



VII 

NOW! 297 

On the Verge of a New Stage of History 



I 

"Arise Each Morning Like a Lion 



SHULCHAN ARUCH 



Thus begins a venerable old book called The 
Well-Laid Table. A people's book that reveals the Jewish 
way of life. "Arise like a lion" to a day where each moment 
is of incandescent significance, each moment irreplaceable, 
never to be repeated, each moment is lived with solemn earn- 
estness. This is the proper way to address our time. It speaks 
to 

THE LION-HEARTED AND NOT TO THE FAINT-HEARTED 

Such a timely book has little to offer those 
who are crying for safety and an unruffled existence. But it 
can offer a great deal to those who are longing for a meaning- 
ful life. It does not address the timid and the dull but those 
who can no longer endure the greatest of all sufferings 
meaninglessness. It offers not trivial complacency but adven- 
turous greatness, not "peace of mind," but infinity of mind 
The Universe, as we see it today, is not a closed Universe, 
fixed once and for all. It is a Universe of infinite growth to 
ever greater perfection. It means a never-ending "emergence 
of genuine novelties/' as William James put it. An open Uni- 
verse, with the work of creation still going on, and Man des- 
tined to partake in it. A sound mind enjoys growing and 
realizes that "peace" is not standstill but fulfillment. This is 
the meaning of the central Biblical word Shalom. 

It is said that the worst aspect of the bondage of the Isra- 
elites in Egypt was that they became used to it. This exem- 
olifies the battle between pusillanimity and greatness. Today, 



4 CHOOSE LIFE 

too, the danger lies not in our unrest but in our dull respect- 
ability. It is not the big controversies that we should bewail; 
what poisons modern life is that we are afraid of the con- 
troversial issues. Not in silence but in threshing out these 
ultimate controversies lies the only way to save Man. 

NOW 

It has truthfully been said that nothing has 
promoted so much change as the unchangeable. And there 
is nothing so close to eternity as the unique actual moment 
which never returns. This is eternity in action. No antago- 
nism exists between eternity and the temporal. Each moment 
is permeated with eternity. A famous saying in an ancient 
collection of wise tenets called The Ethics of the Fathers de- 
clares: "// not Now When?" "When" ('ematai"), so, too, a 
song of the Palestinian pioneers hammers away. "When" 
this is the outcry of our time. Ours is a time that does not 
ask: "How much longer?" Ours is a time that vigorously pro- 
claims: "No longer!" 

PREPARE FOR THE COMING GLOBAL SHOWDOWN 

Thus, understanding our actual "Now" will 
help us realize not only the imminence of the global show- 
down, but that it has already started. That does not necessar- 
ily mean a new war, though there is clearly such a danger. A 
war, even the most destructive, would not settle the gigantic 
conflict which divides mankind from top to bottom. The 
war as such is not the same as the global showdown. The 
war may provide momentum for change, as some believe. 
But it might just as easily paralyze change for a long while. 
Yet war or no war this time it will be a real showdown. No 
substitute, no delaying action will suffice. This time we will 
have to make the definite decision: Is Man willing to accept 
life here in this world or not? Can he be made to understand 
that life on this earth can be brought to perfection? What the 
Bible calls "Paradise" is here in this world. Here, on earth, 
is our greatest possible chance to achieve our highest goals. 



5 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

This time will decide definitely whether or not Man is will- 
ing and capable of building up this world in utter earnest- 
ness and truthfulness. In short, we will be confronted with 
the basic question of the Bible, the ultimate Yes or No. The 
Primal Decision, the Original Start, once again is open to 
Man, as only in very rare moments of history. 

THERE WILL BE NO STATUS QUO. THERE IS NO WAY BACK 

Only muddled, dishonest, or wishful thinking 
can assume that in one way or another the status quo can be 
maintained, or that a way back to the old conditions can be 
found. These illusions are possible only because many people 
are frightened when they think of change. They are caught 
up in a global panic. Change to them is tantamount to hell. 
They cannot see change as growth, as a healthy, joyful, and 
normal procedure. But life without change means suffoca- 
tion. These people cannot or do not realize that the status quo 
has been dead for a long time and the way back is definitely 
blocked. The unparalleled panic that has befallen mankind 
can only be explained in psychopathological terms, although 
in part it is bad conscience too, a deadly disease which can 
strangle mankind. This anxiety is not correctly understood 
as long as we do not recognize it as 

THE STOP MANKIND MOVEMENT 

It is the panic-stricken reaction against the 
global groundswell of maturity in mankind. This global 
groundswell is a volcanic upsurge of the masses all over the 
globe to a greater state of maturity, education, and responsi- 
bility. But the mightier this growth toward maturity the 
more vehement the maturity fear, the fear of a going away 
from our childhood state. Our childhood fixations, as un- 
veiled in the clear light of Freud's analysis, still obstruct the 
self-realization of Man. No compromise is possible between 
the stop mankind movement and basic prophetic beliefs. No 
neutrality is possible between the pessimistic contempt for 
Man as against the optimistic faith in Man. 



6 CHOOSE LIFE 

There Is no determined optimism other than the Biblical 
optimism. This incomparably radical optimism came to man- 
kind like a storm sweeping away the anxieties o hundreds of 
thousands of years of prehistoric frustrations. 

This treatise will undertake to show that this great Bibli- 
cal Revolution is beclouded and deflected. To restore and 
to continue this revolution is the only exit still open for 
mankind. 

TOTAL CHANGE IS PEACEFUL 

The Biblical Revolution envisaged Total 
Change, not only partial change. Partial change, inside of a 
frame which remains static, often comes by violence. When 
the Whole is growing, or moving to a higher plane, or acquir- 
ing a higher dimension, this change is peaceful. No more rad- 
ical change is feasible than the establishment of Peace. 

Unlike earlier periods of transition and change ours is a 
time of Total Change. There is not a single feature of our 
present civilization which is not challenged: ways of life, re- 
ligions, systems of philosophy, social institutions. The chal- 
lenge even extends to the justification of our very existence 
and its continuation. This is also true for the various philos- 
ophies. The question is raised whether there is any meaning 
in philosophy at all. Our criticism goes so far as to question 
all religions as perhaps nothing else but a compensation for 
our fears, as illusion and wishful thinking, as a means for 
evading social justice here on earth and postponing it to a 
life hereafter. This radical criticism does not even stop at 
the doors of logic and mathematics. Thus the foundations of 
human thinking have been exploded, and we have been 
thrown into hitherto unknown lands, fantastic beyond imag- 
ination. The new concepts and theories have completely ob- 
literated our "classical" ideas about the Universe. They 
have shattered the "classical" philosophies of earlier times, 
particularly Greek philosophy, upon which Christianity rests. 
The dethroning of the ancient philosophies has stirred up a 
re-examination of the origin of the arts. Criticism attacking 



7 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

the ethical and psychological foundations of the arts has 
raised the question of what the future of the arts may be, or 
even whether they have any future at all. When Freud wrote 
his frightening little book on The Future of an Illusion he 
meant religion. But it would not be difficult to write a book 
on the arts with the same title. Whatever the answer may be 
to all these disturbing problems, dodging this challenge does 
not solve them. They will have to be met, and we have not 
yet taken the first step on the road toward that meeting. 

The most violent controversy of our time concerns, of 
course, our social order, and on this issue mankind is split 
into two camps, which fight each other with cruel hatred. 
Tendencies which attempt to compromise are crushed be- 
tween these two millstones. This cleavage cuts through all 
nations, through all groups and political parties. It cuts 
through family-life and even through each one of us. These 
two camps speak two different languages the one does not 
understand the other. The more we realize that all estab- 
lished forms of social grouping are out-grown as rapidly as 
children's clothes, the more this fight between the two camps 
appears as panic-stricken cannibalistic cruelty. The old famil- 
iar patterns of social and cultural groupings are losing their 
cohesive quality. Not because they are viciously attacked by 
subversive elements, but because they decay within them- 
selves. What is to be done about this situation? In the first 
place: We must face it! These gigantic issues must be 
brought under the rays of the searchlight of controversy. It is 
the contention of this treatise that the maximum of contro- 
versial clarification lies in the confrontation of this problem 
with the wisdom of Israel. 

FACE THE NEW WORLD ERA 

Few people realize that the era we are about 
to leave is already dead. It died after the First World War. 
Yet most of us are still living in the old era, and even further 
back, in times long since past. Almost all of us are "Old- 
timers*'. We are not aware of the profound antagonism be- 



8 CHOOSE LIFE 

tween the age Into which we are emerging and the era we are 
leaving behind us. People who are aware of this feel 
as though they have lived two lives. Yet there are people 
and a great many who do not live in the 2Oth century nor 
even in the igth, but rather in mediaeval times. Whole 
countries, England, for instance, are still under the spell of 
the feudal ages. And as Freud and modern prehistoric re- 
search have revealed large sections of mankind still live in 
the stone-age, intellectually, psychologically and morally. A 
prehistoric hangover keeps humanity in the stage of infan- 
tilism. With the exception of exceedingly small groups we all 
belong to a prescientific age. Like primitive tribes we think 
and act in a "prelogical" and "pre-ethical" way. 

The transition from infancy to adulthood is a very critical 
process, often ending in failure. Most people have not yet 
reached the state of adulthood. The majority of them remain 
in a childlike state. They leave this world without any sig- 
nificant achievement of self-realization. This is true for man- 
kind generally, since this problem of maturity-fear stands at 
the heart of our present turmoil. 

ALWAYS BE READY TO BUILD THE ARK 

There are many profound old commentaries 
about the significance of Noah's Ark. One of them relates it 
to the Hebrew word for ark leva , which also means 
"word." Thus, a word has the power to carry life over the 
catastrophe. The most advanced idea of an age may function 
as a life-boat which can carry the creatures through the 
catastrophe. Life on earth has already gone through many 
catastrophies, each of them liquidating enormous masses of 
biological forms, which were replaced by ever more compli- 
cated structures. These catastrophies had, as it were, a con- 
structive trend and should rather be called "metastrophies" 
(Allan Upward). Today we call this "Emergent Evolution/' 
that is, the emergence of ever higher levels of biological 
structures. 

It is rather significant that the types which once were 



9 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

"dominant types'* are extinguished. All avenues of the bio- 
logical processes have been blocked, one after the other, un- 
til only one avenue was left open, and that was Man. "Man 
stands alone' * (Julian Huxley). So it seems as if Man occu- 
pies a solitary position in nature. This advanced biological 
view affirms the old Biblical view. And this was also the 
tremendous vision of the Kabbalah, which developed the 
concept of Adam Kadmon, that is, "Man" focusing all of na- 
ture. Man is the key; his body the key to all biological forms. 
The animals are perhaps pre-stages to Man, dress-rehearsals 
for our inner organs, which are "chained animals" (Hlan 
Jaworsky). Man's embryonic evolution is a short recapitula- 
tion of the general evolution of all living beings through the 
aeons. This is a definitely established finding of science. And 
it is not just these scientific views which shed new light on 
the story of the Ark. 

This ancient story cannot be regarded any longer as a 
naive legend. It tells us in the form of a narrative how an- 
imal-characters focused by Man have been carried with Man 
over the catastrophies. Today we are again confronted with 
a situation that forces upon us the necessity of being ready 
for the building of the Ark in order to save "the remnants" 
for the next "metastrophe." 

THE NEXT "GREAT FLOOP" 

Another profound commentary on the story 
of the flood in Noah's time is related to the Hebrew word 
for the Great Flood: Mabul In itself this word does not have 
simply a destructive connotation. It merely means abun- 
dance, fullness. This old commentary says that God pre- 
dicted there would be such an abundance. But whether this 
abundance, this fullness, would come as a destructive force or 
as a blessing, would depend entirely on Man. And precisely 
this is our situation today: an abundance not mastered. 
Abundance is here, a life of plenty not only of consumer 
goods, which modern science and technology can provide for 
men, but also a plenty of psychological life, plenty of experi- 



1O CHOOSE LIFE 

ence, of knowledge, of joy, of health, of profundity. We could 
liberate our souls from fear. Yet, modern man's fear of ma- 
turity is so tremendous that large sections of mankind rather 
prefer to die than to grow into the "era of plenty." So terrific 
is this maturity-fear that these frightened souls would not 
shrink from the most unspeakable cruelties to prevent the 
advent of maturity. The stop-mankind-movement may very 
well turn the mabul of today from a blessing for Man into 
his annihilation. Be ready to build the Ark! 

BUT NEVER FORGET THAT JONAH'S WHALE IS WAITING 

A chassidic interpretation of the Noah-story 
asserts: We have learned that Noah himself did not go into 
the Ark before the rising waters of the Great Flood forced 
him to do so. Did he doubt whether God's prediction would 
come true? No, he did not. But he knew that a faith could be 
so strong that it attracts reality. He was fearful that the 
strength of his faith would hasten the coming of the flood. 
Indeed, there is a faith, negative or positive, which has a 
magnetic power of realization. A strong belief in the inevita- 
bility of a catastrophe attracts the catastrophe. The belief 
that a new war is unavoidable is a most dangerous one. 

The prophet Jonah was sent by God to bring the prophetic 
message to the people of Nineveh that the end of their city 
was at hand. But Jonah knew that God in his mercy would 
not destroy the city if the people abandoned their wicked- 
ness. "This displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very 
angry." And "Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord," He 
would rather have seen the city destroyed than his prophesy 
not come true. This was why the whale swallowed up Jonah. 
The Whale! This is the abyss of the paralyzing demonic 
forces where freedom of decision no longer exists. It was to 
these abysses that Jonah surrendered. Sometimes it is our 
sad duty to warn of coming disaster. But he who gives that 
warning must be fully aware of how dangerous it is to fore- 
cast disaster. The prophet of a coming disaster must know 
that "Jonah's whal^f-S r "%ifiting for him. No one can be ab- 



ii "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

solutely sure that all the exits are blocked. It is never too 
late to veer away from the wrong direction. "Last moments'*, 
particularly, have the strange power of making Man return 
to the right path. It is one of the great Jewish axioms that 
Man is always free and never loses his freedom of decision. 
No man could live were the last sparks of freedom extin- 
guished in him. The surrender to "inexorable fate'' strikes 
at the very roots of the Jewish faith. To deny that there is al- 
ways a last chance to stave off disaster means to give up the 
great Jewish hope. In every moment of human life there is 
still at least a spark of freedom. 

So we will have to accept this twofold duty: to face mi/ 
flinchingly the menace of a cataclysm in our time, and never- 
theless confidently trust in the future of Man. 

TO TAKE THE LONG VIEW IS A HEAVY DEMAND 

Yet, a great Jewish sage (the Bratzlaver 
Rebbe) wisely said: "He who does not pursue ultimate goals 
is wasting his days." The ultimate goals are not just "distant" 
affairs, having nothing to do with the present moment. They 
are like the locomotive before the train. They give the mo- 
mentum to the immediate moment. There is no antagonism 
between the nearby goals and the ultimate goals. The greater, 
the more alive the ultimate goals, the more will the immedi- 
ate goals profit by them. How can Man hope to survive if he 
is already dead in life? The "Now" must contain within itself 
the ultimate goals, just as the ultimate goals are applied now 
and here. 

MAN IS AN EXILE 

To take the long view has become a typical 
Jewish attitude. The Jew is the eternal exile. Though he 
is always ready to expect the end of the exile in the very 
next hour, yet he is equally ready to expect the exile still to 
last for centuries. The exile (galuth) is one of the basic as- 
pects of the Hebraic and Judaic vision. Not only a small 
group of people is in exile, it is Man who is exiled. It is 



12 CHOOSE LIFE 

Truth which Is exiled. It is, as Judaism teaches, God's pres- 
ence on earth (the Shechinah) which is exiled. It is pre- 
cisely this mighty conception that makes the Jewish people a 
vicarious representative in the most universal sense. 

MAKING MAXIMAL DEMANDS 

It is the Judaic tradition that challenges us to 
live in terms of the maximum of Man's potentialities, to 
make maximal demands, spiritually, morally and psycho- 
logically. They are maximal demands upon courage, con- 
fidence, vision. No greater demands have ever been made on 
Man, No greater hope was ever envisaged. Judaism means 
maximalism. The life of Israel is lived on the upper border- 
lines of existence. The very meaning of Judaism is the de- 
velopment of a maximum of human potentialities. Think of 
Moses* last song before he dies "with a kiss of God/' With an 
unsurpassably majestic gesture he silences heaven and earth 
the Universe because now he, Moses, will speak. What is 
it that gives him such overwhelming authority? It is because 
he will proclaim the Name of God. By this act he establishes 
Man's superiority over nature. Of all creatures only Man can 
free himself from the bondage of nature. This secret is en- 
trusted only to Man. 

THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM BEING A JEW 

This is the basic law and the unmistakable 
teaching of Jewish history. No Jewish group, no section of 
the Jewish people could ever escape the Jewish destiny. 
Sooner or later the big showdown has caught up with even 
the most cocksure. There is no exception to this rule, in any 
age, or country. It was the sincere belief of the German 
Jews that they had definitely succeeded in settling down 
peacefully among the German nation. They sincerely be- 
lieved they were not sought when the fiend knocked at the 
door. This smug complacency ended in torture chambers. 

The attempt to evade this meeting with the Jewish des- 
tiny may partly originate in the fact that for a time sections 



13 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

of the Jewish people go through relatively short periods of 
rest, just as battle-troops are for a while withdrawn from the 
battle-front to regain their fighting power and are replaced 
by fresh troops. 

THE HOUR OF THE AMERICAN JEW 

Doubtless, American Jewry will soon have its 
meeting with history. The relation between the American 
Jews and America did not yet reach that degree of profund- 
ity which the Jews had achieved in ancient Greece, in Russia 
and in Poland, and during their long sojourn in Germany. 
However, a deep antagonism went alongside, such as the 
Jews in America have never encountered. There are ele- 
ments of profound kinship between Judaism and American- 
ism, but they must be brought into the open and be clearly 
defined in order to build up a sound relationship. 

Can there develop a deep antagonism also in the American 
sphere? 

This depends upon the further evolution of American 
culture. It is an experience of the Jews gained in their long 
history that all cultures eventually abandon their ideals and 
their basic conceptions. They decay into mere power systems. 
The decline of a nation begins when it becomes power- 
focused. And this is precisely the moment when a nation 
tries to detach itself from the Jews. The "No" of the Jews is 
directed against the power-systems and not against the cul- 
ture systems. 

TO BE A JEW ACCEPT IT IN FREEDOM OR 

There is a commentary on the story of Israel, 
standing at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Divine 
Law: God had offered His Holy Torah to all the seventy 
nations on earth. Only the Jews had accepted it. But the 
commentary adds God had told the Jews, if they refused to 
accept His Torah, the mountain would be their grave. This 
is a profound conception, integrating freedom and divine 
necessity into a unity; the divine compulsion to be free. And 



14 CHOOSE LIFE 

the answer the people gave to this divine confrontation, the 
unparalleled answer was: "Naasseh we nishma" "We shall 
do and hear/' They did not say ''we shall hear and then do. 9 ' 
Their answer did away once and for all with what might be 
regarded as the "normal way of life." That is: first to exam- 
ine the Divine Truth and only then to decide whether or 
not to accept it and act accordingly. It was the greatness of 
Israel that they reversed the procedure. First came their 
deathless decision "to do/' to accept the Divine Reality as 
the granite fundament on which to stand. And then, only 
then their minds were open and ready "to hear" the voice 
inaudible to a closed mind. Thus they emancipated action 
from fate, changed conditioned action into free action. This 
was "the leap from serfdom into freedom." The genius of 
Israel had decided to be free, thus establishing freedom as 
the basic pattern for all future declarations of autonomy. 
Henceforth no Jew was any longer free to be unfree. 

LIVE AT THE APEX OF REALITY OR PERISH 

It is not as if the free decision to accept the 
Jewish destiny was in itself a guarantee of safety. The Torah 
of the Jews is not a shield to protect the Jew. As a philos- 
opher of our time has wisely put it: The place of the Jew is 
not behind but before the Torah. There is also a danger in 
trying to escape from the Jewish destiny by restricting one- 
self predominantly to the ritual prescriptions of the Torah, 
of settling down behind the Torah in a rather regulated nor- 
malcy. However, the genuine Jew has always been fully 
aware of the meaning and consequences of his fundamental 
everlasting decision. These genuine Jews, down the centur- 
ies, never went to their doom in a stupor of unwareness, 
when it came to the ultimate challenge. The "kiddush ha 
shem" the "Sanctification of the Name/' was an act of sac- 
rifice in which the Jew rose to such tremendous heights that 
this short moment outweighed years of dull mediocrity. 

The end of the Warsaw Ghetto, a place of effervescent 
genius, was a pathetic example of the "kiddush ha shem.*' 



15 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion' 9 

When the six million Jews went to their doom many of 
them did not understand why they were sacrificed. The task 
still remains to make articulate this unconscious Sanctifica- 
tion of the Name. 

THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE CALLED "jESHURUN," "THE 

STRAIGHT WAY" 

The Jewish way is a one-way street. It is ut- 
terly opposed to all "back to" movements, to all retrogres- 
sive desires to reverse the process of history in its self-tran- 
scendence. The name of mankind's adversary "Satan" means 
in Hebrew "the bender back." Hence the deep absolute hos- 
tility of the Hebrew way towards the stop-mankind-move- 
ment. "The Jewish Issue" is the decision as to Yes or No, a 
decision on which the fate of Man hinges. Israel must an- 
swer for mankind. This is the meaning of the Biblical word: 
all failures will be avenged on Israel. History has proven 
that the Jews were never able to escape this vicarious respon- 
sibility. 

THE JEW IS ALWAYS IN THE THICKEST 

The entire history of mankind is a continuous 
proof that the Jews have always been in the focus of the 
most burning problems in each period. Where the frontlines 
are, there we will find the Jew. They have never been neu- 
tral. Every attempt of Jewish minorities to keep out of the 
essential conflicts of their time has always ended in miserable 
failure. Why not accept a majestic destiny? To accept what 
you are is always wise. The dodger is a fool. Yet the history 
of the Jews is one gigantic triumph of courage and magna- 
nimity. We may be confident, therefore, that Israel will not 
fail today, when we are confronted with a global conflict of a 
magnitude surpassing all previous conflicts. Israel has gone 
through the cataclysms of the Empires, Pharaonic, Assyrian, 
Persian and Greek, through the end of the wild beast that was 
Rome, through the crumbling mediaeval Empires, the down- 
fall of Spain, through the hellish end of Germany, and today 



16 CHOOSE LIFE 

through the crumbling of the British Empire. Having sur- 
vived all of them, Israel is confronted today with an impend- 
ing metamorphosis of humanity, which means not only partial 
change but total change. 

A NEW HISTORIC STEP OF THE JEWS IS IMMINENT 

Nothing less will do. To stand still is tanta- 
mount to sinking back. There is a saying: You have to run 
with all your might even to stay where you are. What the 
Jews must deal with next is the present situation of man- 
kind, the global issues. 

The main problem in this crisis is the absence of a gen- 
uine social cohesion. The main task will be to establish a 
genuine community of social justice. The leading principle 
of this next step of the Jews is to apply ever more deeply and 
ever more determinedly the philosophy of Israel to this task. 
As in all previous generations they must again make their 
contribution to the advancement of mankind. It had sufficed 
to write down the story of the founding of the Jewish people, 
its struggles and its inner conflicts, and a national history be- 
came universal history. The story of the Jewish people be- 
came the basic book of all occidental culture, setting a yard- 
stick for higher moral civilization up to our time. The events 
in Jewish history serve as keys that decipher the code of gen- 
eral history. 

In the coming global showdown both the place of the Jew 
and his next great historical contribution are clearly defined. 
This step must be in sympathy with the forward forces of 
the world and as always since the beginning of Israel in 
conflict with the "bender backwards." There is in the Bible 
a very peaceful element and a militant as well. "The war of 
God against Amalek from generation to generation'' (Exo- 
dus 17, 16) may reach a phase today where it would become 
the war against the stop-mankind-movement. It is said of the 
Jewish Torah that all its ways are peace. "Shalom" is a name 
of God. The Torah has a millionfold Yes, but there is also 
a mighty No. 



17 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

TRUTH IS WITH MAN 

Truth is not a set of axioms. It is the emana- 
tion of Man's truthful community in the truth; it is not out- 
side of all human affairs. Truth is not like a rigid block of 
ice. It is the manifestation of human life free from ethical 
and mental corruption. Some American philosophers have 
gone so far as to look at truth as a form of ultimate human 
consent. 

The Jewish vision, however, affirms that God is truth. 
Note carefully that it does not teach that truth is God, which 
would be an idolization of truth and would negate both God 
and truth. But although the Jewish Torah teaches that God 
is truth, it also teaches "that God dwells with the people 
even amidst all their impurity/ 1 Truth, then, is profoundly 
connected with the life of the people. The Jews were prag- 
matists 3000 years before William James. They knew 3000 
years before Marx that truth and righteousness were an in- 
divisible unity, that there is no detached isolated truth with 
a self-contained validity. It is wrong to contend that the 
unity of truth and the people, of intellectual purity and 
ethical purity, lowers the dignity of truth. Just the opposite 
is true. It is non-attachment, it is indifference, that makes a 
lifeless specter of truth. 

THE FIERY TRUTH OF THE TORAH AND THE LOWLY 

On what ground then rests Israel's claim to 
be a trustee of truth? Why should truth be entrusted to Is- 
rael? Does not a famous Jewish tenet explicitly state that 
"the righteous men in all the nations do have their share in 
the world to come"? This would mean that the Jews claim 
that all the righteous belong to Israel, that they are more 
akin to Israel than to "the nations"? Or that the nation 
would be Israel, if seen in the light of eternity. Contrasting 
the history of the Jews with the history of the Gentiles will 
give us a clue to the understanding of this strange claim. 
Jewish history is throughout the history of the outcasts. It 



l8 CHOOSE LIFE 

is the story of a pariah-group (as the great sociologist, Max 
Weber, called it). Only for brief passing moments of rela- 
tive stability was this "abnormal" condition interrupted, 
and then never for all of the Jewish people at one time, but 
only for small sections of it. The history of the Jews can be 
compared to the life of rebellious outcasts as against the 
life of settled respectability to the life of the lowly compared 
with the life of the wealthy. There is a saying that only the 
lowly understand the Torah. The question arises to whom is 
truth entrusted? The answer is not difficult. 

LOVE IS ACTION AND NOT EMOTION 

Is not Man's faculty of transcending the lim- 
its of his self, truly human! No living being but Man has 
this faculty. Is not transcending ourselves the very essence 
of love? Love is not a sentiment. Love, seen in the Jewish 
Biblical vision, is action, not a sentiment to be enjoyed by 
him who loves. He who in his love means ultimately only 
himself, does not love at all. This kind of love is like the Aus- 
tralian boomerang, returning to him who has thrown it. 
True love is an act of swinging outwards, swinging away 
from the lover and reaching his fellowman, where it remains 
and does not return. Is there not at the very heart of revo- 
lutionary unrest this urge to transcend! 

And strangely enough the more intensely the Jew loves 
Israel the nearer he comes to mankind as a whole. His love 
is not a discriminatory love, pitting one against the other; It 
is not a preferential love, but the most decided form of 
universalism one can think of. The closer the Jew is in unit- 
ing himself with Israel the closer he comes to humanity 
and the less remote is he from the Unity of Mankind. The 
more decisively the Gentile practices the Unity of Mankind 
the nearer he comes to the Israel pattern. 

The wanderings of the Jews through the ages cuts across 
all cultures, empires, philosophies, religions and social sys- 
tems, leaving all o them behind. But this uncanny immor- 
tality is not a guarantee for smug safety. It may well be lost. 



ig "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

It may well be that "only a remnant will return" (Isaiah). 
That the forces of the No-Camp as against the Yes-Camp 
are united globally in their hatred of the Jew mirrors the 
sanctity of the Israel People. The possible cataclysm of man- 
kind and the attempt to annihilate the Jew mutually in- 
terpret each other. 

TO BE A JEW, ALWAYS MEANS TO BE A JEW NOW 

The wisdom of Israel needs the actual present 
to make its inner light visible. Nobody is really a Jew if he 
is not a Jew Now. It is not enough to be a Jew in an ab- 
stract sense or in a timeless sense. The concrete Jew must 
always meet the challenge of concrete tasks. It is worth doing 
so because our time is an exceedingly great time. Once again 
Man is faced with a mabul the Atomic Age. A completely 
unprepared, immature and divided mankind is suddenly 
confronted with the possession of almost unlimited power. 
Again the same ultimate dilemma: Is abundance, mabul, to 
become a blessing or a curse? 

The issues of this "Now*' is not merely the problem of 
transition, however stormy, from one cultural pattern to 
another. It is the question of the very continuation of hu- 
manity. It is the question: Is Man to survive? Does Man 
want to survive? Has the Freudian "death-wish" gotten the 
upper hand today? This death-wish is undoubtedly one of 
the great discoveries made in our time. The hidden demo- 
niac forces of self-destruction are brought out of their dark- 
ness into the open. Only in the bright light of our conscious- 
ness can we hope to overpower them. The definite decision 
as to "Yes" or "No" is the theme of the showdown of this 
hour of our "Now." Nobody has ever answered this ques- 
tion with a more radical "Yes" than the Jewish People. Its 
book which is called by the world "The Good Book" is the 
book of the absolute "Yes." A deeply religious earlier Rus- 
sian philosopher called it "The Book of Existence/' 



20 CHOOSE LIFE 

THE "JEW NOW" MUST FACE THREE CHALLENGING 

QUESTIONS 

The first question: Can Judaism remain neu- 
tral in the present global metamorphosis that splits mankind 
into two camps? Is not the very essence of Judaism the strug- 
gle for social justice, for a society beyond class-distinction? 
Why not simply join the opposition and fight with and for 
the working-class? But why then remain a Jew? Why not sim- 
ply be a "radical"? Here arises the question: Is social and 
political radicalism enough? What about Marx and Marx- 
ism? Is not something lacking in the progressive movements 
today? Something that makes them ineffective, problematic, 
without a genuine focus? Perhaps the Jewish vision of prog- 
ress, determined and profound as it is, can activate these 
progressive trends into an irresistible religion of social prog- 
ress* 

The second question: Can Judaism remain neutral in the 
overwhelming scientific revolution, which transforms all our 
ideas and theories about the cosmos and about life? Is Juda- 
ism compatible with the immature ideas of an infantile man- 
kind? Does not genuine Judaism want to bring about a 
universe, free from superstition? Is not Judaism deeply in 
favor of increasingly applying sciences to technology and 
medicine as a means toward an economy of abundance, and 
man's mastery of nature? Can Judaism remain indiffer- 
ent to the fact that modern man has to live in a world of 
machines and of ever-advancing science? But if this is so, why 
remain a Jew, why not simply be a scientist? What about 
Einstein and modern physics? Here arises the question as to 
whether science and technology are enough? Is there not 
something lacking in the scientific view of life? Perhaps the 
Jewish vision can redeem the grandeur of science and tech- 
nology by integrating them with a meaningful life. 

The third question: Can Judaism remain indifferent to 
the tremendous psychological revolution, which like a vol- 
canic eruption has shaken up the substructure of the human 



21 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

soul. Can Judaism address a soul whose entire structure is 
challenged, unmasking the psycho-underground as frighten- 
ingly problematic, the source of universal neurosis. A neu- 
rosis revealing itself in war, in stop-mankind-actions, and in 
the unspeakable cruelties that may end in a global suicide. 
Is not the very essence of genuine Judaism profoundly iden- 
tified with the attainment of purity, of a soul free from 
destructive and perverted elements, of the restoration of 
sexuality, which today is dislocated and therefore harmful, 
like a misplaced fire that burns the house instead of warming 
it. Is not the finding of the inner focus of the soul as envis- 
aged by psychoanalysis a genuine goal. If this is so, why then 
remain a Jew and not become simply a psychoanalyst? What 
about Freud and psychoanalysis? Here we realize that psy- 
chology is not enough, that we have to go beyond psychology. 
Perhaps Judaism can show us how to make constructive use 
of the discoveries of modern psychoanalysis, and how to 
restore the unity and purity of the soul. 

THE JEW MUST ALWAYS BE A FRONTIERSMAN 

Obviously these questions could not arise so 
long as the established forms of religious life held the keys 
to every problem. But today with the decline of religious 
attitudes the situation has changed. Powerful competitors to 
religion have come to the fore, new movements, fascinating 
and vigorous, seek to replace religion. Thus religion is forced 
onto the defensive. The younger generation has become 
alienated from religious life, or at best maintains a purely 
conventional tie with the churches. This religious indiffer- 
ence has become a problem to the Jewish people too. The 
unbroken "Golden Chain of Tradition*' seems to have given 
way. Yet it may very well be that modern objections to re- 
ligions cannot be applied to Judaism. Jewish religion is per- 
haps not just "one more religion" among other religions, but 
is basically different from all of them. This treatise under- 
takes to prove that this is indeed so and that there is no kin- 
ship between the incadescent fire of Israel's truth and the 



22 CHOOSE LIFE 

cooling ashes of decaying spiritual and moral attitudes. It is 
a most tragic fallacy to contend that Israel is "in the same 
boat" with the other religions which are incapable of meet- 
ing the challenge and are simply withering away. The Jew 
must realize that his place is at the foremost front-line. He 
has always been there, and there is no other place for him. 

NO OTHER EXIT THAN INTO A HIGHER PLAGE OF REALITY 

Said a great Jewish sage: "If you want to rec- 
ognize the invisible, your eye must be wide open to the -visi- 
ble/' And this: "Look ever deeper into this world, and a 
higher world will become manifest" On the plane where 
we are living today all avenues have become dead ends. Yet 

one avenue is wide open the vertical way. Judaism is Ver- 

ticalism. Judaism is Maximalism and Verticalism. The Jew- 
ish way is the vertical way. The word: Kummijuth (Leviticus 
26, 13), which means to stand upright, is one of these 
teva words, an "ark" to bring Man out of his present paraly- 
sis, and to carry him over this crisis into the future. "Son of 
Man, stand upon thy feet" (Ezekiel 2, i). Only Man can 
stand upright. The vertical line is the human line. Vertical- 
ism means to bring about the autonomy of Man over every- 
thing that is sub-human. Nothing whatsoever in the universe 
can have primacy over Man. Later in this treatise we will see 
that it is tantamount to idolatry to place anything above 
Man. It is a principle of genuine Jewish philosophy to in- 
terpret so-called "realities" as sub-human. It is precisely 
Man's intrinsic mission to establish Man's autonomy in the 
universe. It is precisely through Man that all "realities" 
should be surrendered to the One Absolute Reality, which 
is not sub-human but superior to Man. There are no reali- 
ties whatsoever directly confronted with God, except Man. 
This principle is a profound reversal of the ordinary way 
of thinking. It is a demand for a life free from idolatry. Idol- 
atry is absolutely prohibited for Israel. This is the condition 
on which the people is founded. Thus the saying: "He who 
refrains absolutely from idolatry is called a Jew." It is tan- 



23 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

tamount to a fundamentally changed life. It is like the differ- 
ence between madness and sanity. 

There is nothing the Jew should bow to. It was said that 
"Mordecai did not bow and did not prostrate himself" not 
even before the highest courtiers nor even before Haman 
himself. And when he was asked why he did not bow, he dis- 
closed to the people that he was a Jew. 

Just as climbing a mountain opens up ever wider horizons, 
so the vertical line brings us to ever higher planes of reality. 
Only by widening our horizons, by discovering new terri- 
tories, can we find a way that may lead us out of this global 
turmoil. The "given" situation no longer has any exits. The 
key to a problem can never be found on the plane where the 
problem is posed; the key is always hidden on a higher 
plane. We cannot solve a problem; we can only dissolve it. 
We outgrow a problem by reaching a higher plane. The 
vertical way of Jeshurun that is, "Israel upright" cuts 
through all the horizontal levels of history, one by one. It 
pioneers into ever higher regions of Man's own infinity. 

DEPARTURE FROM THE BASIC CONFUSION 

The Bible, that is, the Torah of the Jews the 
"Good Book" for all of humanity reveals to us how the ver- 
tical line has been broken and how it can be restored. The 
alternative is Death. Our life is as yet not a real life, but 
rather a substitute. But unfortunately mankind is resigned 
to accept this substitute. No so the Bible. Not so Israel. 
Israel and Israel's Torah stand in flaming protest against the 
humiliating state of Man's brokenness. The Bible is a re- 
bellious onslaught against the acceptance of our present state 
of existence. Yet, a pagan-minded mankind accepts as a fact 
the bondage of Man, his helplessness, his frustrations and 
meaningless life, his poverty, drudgery, serfdom, his im- 
purity, confusion and stupidity. The pagan is the antagonist 
of the Jew. The pagan surrenders to a given situation as a 
fact, whereas the Jew revolts. The pagan believes that "fact" 
and "unchangeable" are one and the same. To him facts 



24 CHOOSE LIFE 

are like unsurpassable mountains. He bows, he does not re- 
volt. But the belief in "unchangeables" is one of the most 
sinister superstitions. Nothing is really unchangeable. 
"Facts," even as seen by modern science are merely "knots" 
in fields of innumerable crossing lines. Sometimes it suffices 
to change one of these lines a tiny bit and the "knot" disap- 
pears. 

To a Jew the confusion that stands in the way of the full- 
ness and grandeur of life is a basic issue. Only a basic change 
can help. Man's original meaning has been perverted. 
From being the master he has become a slave because he has 
placed the cosmos above instead of beneath him. Man has 
placed above him innumerable gods, laws, fictions, metaphys- 
ical nonentities, kings, rulers, states, saints, money and 
fear. He has allowed Man to become plowed under the in- 
dustrial production process and to become a mere commod- 
ity. Later on we will study the Jewish diagnosis of this funda- 
mental disease. It will be sufficient for the purpose of going 
ahead with our present analysis to emphasize the point that 
the Bible is the fundamental document of revolution, the 
original pattern for all revolutionary action. Not a book of 
pious humble surrender, of hopes placed beyond the grave. 
The Bible is the voice of rebellion against the acceptance of 
basic confusion. 

And for this very reason the Bible does not suggest any 
metaphysical remedy, any change of mystical or metaphys- 
ical kind. Israel holds that change must occur here in our 
actual life on this earth. Although we are broken we are still 
free, free in each actual moment to restore our original hu- 
man status. And this is not a metaphysical action, but a very 
concrete revolutionary action. It is the basic task and duty of 
our actual life here. 

A NEW LINE-UP OF ISRAEL 

The impending global showdown requires a 
new line-up of the Jewish people. Enormous forces have 
been stored up in the Jewish collective. But its outer mani- 



25 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

festations are often as slight as those in the wintry tree or as 
occasional light puffs of an inactive volcano betraying its very 
nature. 

In understanding the call of the hour the Jew accepts in 
freedom this global conflict of humanity as God's war, which 
is deeply akin to the very theme of Jewish history. For the 
rage of the No-camp is directed against the Jew, as if he 
were the focus of the conflict. The Jew is deeply involved in 
the fate of mankind and its sufferings. The Jew suffers in- 
tensely with all men. 

Moreover, the same issues that split mankind today also 
split the Jews, though clearly they belong on the side of the 
Yes-camp. The Jews have not thus far thrown their full 
strength into the fight. They participate in it as individuals, 
on their own responsibility, but not as a group. They have 
not yet mobilized their enormous brain-power in the cause of 
the vertical war. Nor have they thrown into the global two- 
camp battle their mighty religious power. 

THE JEWISH COMPASS 

The direction of the Jewish decision is clearly 
indicated. It is not an ideological, but an extremely concrete 
ultimate goal to which the Jewish compass points. A commu- 
nity centered on truth and not on passing or merely func- 
tional purposes. Such a collective may be called The Abso- 
lute Collective.* This is the highest form of existence, slowly 
emerging out of the maze of aeons. The very secret of Crea- 
tion emerges. This highest principle seems to have set the 
theme of evolution down the ages. It works like a catalyst, 
like a crystalizing nucleus that transforms everything it 
touches into a crystal like itself. The ultimate goal of any 
evolution determines all the stages of the entire process. So 
the Emergence of "The Absolute Collective/' as distin- 
guished from all relative and transitory groups, is the focal 
dramatic theme of history. It is the very topic of Jewish his- 
tory and interprets with exact profundity the global tornado 

* The author's book: The Absolute Collective, Daniel. London, England, 1937. 



26 CHOOSE LIFE 

of today. It is the theme of the revolutionary story we call 
"Biblical History." 

THE ORIGIN OF THE ORIGIN 

In every living organism we find two func- 
tions which we may compare to the charging and discharg- 
ing of an electric battery. We may liken the cultural display 
of nations to the discharging of accumulated energy. But in 
the course of history Man has neglected to recharge the res- 
ervoirs of energy. This is what we call "decadence of cul- 
ture." The paramount problem of today is to regain our 
basic creativity. 

In their early stages the cultures emanating from nations 
are rather parochial-national. Later on they become more 
and more universal and in their final stages they represent 
the common good of all the nations. This is the natural prog- 
ress of all cultural evolutions. Cultures have a tendency to 
deviate from their origin; they are centrifugal, expanding, 
going from specific and particular patterns to universal 
global civilizations. But what about creating sources from 
which new emanations can spring? Little has been done to 
build up reservoirs from which to draw. 

Such is not the case with Israel, the Founded People. As 
we shall see, the origin of its energies is clearly known. It is 
our own concern to replenish that reservoir, for the good of 
all, by the continuous re-creation of Israel, Israel's contribu- 
tions to the evolution of mankind are its very pulse-beat. 
Said the great Jewish philosopher, Jehuda Halevi, in his 
book, The Kusari: 

"THE JEWISH PEOPLE is THE HEART OF MANKIND" 

The accent is not on "the heart/' but on 
"Mankind" as well. This saying is not mere self-affirmation; 
it is a call to duty. And a duty also to this heart. It is an all-out 
responsibility. It is humble devotion. Yet, can we create a 
heart? The perpetual creation of Israel is not simply an act 
of "making" Israel. It calls up the mysterious powers that 



sy "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

had founded the people. These uncanny potentialities al- 
most frighten the Jew, arousing in him as the Abraham story 
relates "a great dark fear/' He is thoroughly aware that 
the individual little Jew cannot kindle that Israel-Fire. Only 
Israel-Total can create Israel. But does he not belong to that 
strange indivisible Collective, just as each individual tiny 
cell in us is part of our human body? 

IS THE JEW A TOTALITARIAN? 

Each one of the billions of cells forming a liv- 
ing body is not an isolated individual cell capable of exist- 
ence outside of the context of our body. Although clearly an 
individual and therefore irreplaceable, it derives its meaning 
only from the existence of the organism as a Whole. The 
single and the whole are not contradictions, they are a unity. 
Each cell, so to speak, is sublimated, elevated by belonging 
to the totality of the human organism. It is not a cell, but a 
human cell. What, then, is the objection to totalitarianism? 
Obviously it cannot be an aversion to belonging to the great 
concatenation of things. It is because we seem to object to 
accepting regulations imposed on us by groups which by no 
means represent the whole. So far no group can claim such a 
right. All parties, institutions, classes, governments, organiza- 
tions, churches, political movements are sectional, transitory 
and self-centered, and represent special interests. It is repel- 
ling when such groups usurp privileges and make decisions 
encroaching on those outside their group. 

It is not wholeness as such which is challenged. It is only 
the usurped totality which we reject. And rightly so. Would 
not a genuine community of Man speak with authority. If 
the "whole" of a free togetherness were clearly manifest, 
would not everybody accept it enthusiastically? The real 
problem therefore is: the absence of true wholeness. The 
whole is not yet manifest, the true community of Man is still 
lacking. There is no real human society yet. The Absolute 
Collective is only emerging now. 



28 CHOOSE LIFE 

BEYOND THE GREAT ANXIETY 

Israel has lived through all the great cultures, 
empires, religions. Israel not only survived, but it answered. 
Down the centuries it has answered by its continuous "Yes" 
and its great "No." Thereby splitting up from top to bottom 
every cultural pattern of history. It forced mankind out of 
those gigantic structures, pushed mankind forward to ever 
new horizons. Yet humbly aware of its frailties and failures, 
no nation has ever so willingly accepted criticism, as it was 
meted out to the Jews by their prophets. To criticize one's 
own people was never regarded as subversive or unpatriotic. 

History shows how the Jew stood at the cradle of cultures 
and at their deathbeds. How the Jew inaugurated mighty 
religious systems, which later on he had to oppose and fight. 
In the history of Christianity and of Islam controversies were 
carried on for centuries about the ultimate issues of human- 
ity. But the part the Jews played in those mighty spiritual 
fights is not sufficiently known. 

We shall see why the present severe attacks on religion do 
not concern Judaism, and why Judaism will not go down in 
this contemporary decline of religion. It is important to 
study the religious roots of capitalism and to explain the 
inner dialectics of capitalism. Extensive research in this mat- 
ter was carried out by Max Weber, Tawney and Veblen. But 
because of the subject's highly controversial character, it is 
somewhat shunned. This is even more so when it comes to 
mentioning the Jewish role in the declining stage of cultures 
and of social systems, and still more so its function in revolu- 
tionary movements. Again we hold that a blunt controversy 
is healthier than an embarrassed silence. It is time for the 
Jew to comprehend the unity in the polarity between his 
rigorous traditionalism and his strong inclination for decided 
progress. It is not a coincidence that the Jew looms so large 
in the field of social criticism, or in such developments as the 
Relativity Theory, or atomic research, all of which have pro- 
foundly changed our views of life and of the world. 



2 9 "Arise Each Morning Like a Lion" 

Because Israel has achieved the highest synthesis of the 
eternal and the temporal, its chance for survival and for con- 
tinuing on its way through history are very great. And then 
there is the paramount fact: Israel is the Collective free from 
fear. Not because of the many valiant actions in the long 
course of Jewish history, for such actions are everywhere and 
at all times, and there are many individual Jews who are not 
free from fear, but because the fearlessness of Israel means 
that the soul of Israel has overcome fear basically. Israel 
was not afraid to accept once and for all the confrontation 
with the fundamental Divine paradox which is human life. 
Israel is not afraid to face that original challenge to live in 
this world solemnly and purposefully. 

An old saying has it that in each generation of the Jewish 
people there exists hidden the Messiah as well as the Ad- 
versary. But the Messiah never becomes manifest because of 
Israel's frailties. Just so the Adversary failed to destroy 
Israel because of its theophoric vocation. Israel may prove to 
be indestructible by forces from without. But could Israel 
destroy itself from within? One of the functions of the Jewish 
ritual and of organizing the Jewish way of life is to block all 
trends downwards or backwards, to block all the relapses and 
retrogressions. The Jew has to learn over and over again 
what it really means to belong to an indissoluble collective. 
Judaism is Maximalism. 

"Arise Each Morning Like a Lion!" 



II 

The Fallacies of Timidity 

THE ROADS TO NOTHINGNESS 



The Four Ways o Minimalizing the 
Biblical Revolution: 



ASSIM IL AT ION 



LIBERALIZATION 



N ORM ALIZ ATI ON 



PETRIFI CATION 



1 

ASSIMILATION: Dodging Judaism 



THE HUMILIATING FAILURE OF ASSIMILATION 

The attempt to escape the Jewish fate is as 
old as the hatred against the Jew namely, as old as the his- 
tory of the Jews. This hatred has always been the same. Its 
phraseology has not changed from the time of Pharaoh and 
Bilaam unto German fascism. But never before has assimila- 
tion ended in a more brutal defeat than today. Persecutions 
in former times often culminated in the kiddush ha shem, 
the glorification of the Name. They were the most sublime 
expressions of human heroism. It was triumph, it was victory, 
it was transformation. But the end of many of the victims in 
the extermination-camps was tragic without the comfort of 
understanding the profound meaning of what was done to 
them. The Jewish people will not easily pass over this trag- 
edy with such a cheap phrase as: " After all, we can not bring 
them back' to life.'* We can! We read in Ezekiel (chap- 
ter 37): "Son of Man, can these bones live? Prophesy upon 
these bones" The Warsaw Ghetto sanctified the murdered. 
The great resurrection of the murdered is a task we must 
take upon us. 

APOLOGIZING MERELY ENCOURAGES THE AGGRESSOR 

This is what the assimilationist does not un- 
derstand. It is beyond his grasp that stammering apologies 
merely encourage the aggressor. The more sub-human the 
aggressor the stronger his passion to turn against the weak, 



34 CHOOSE LIFE 



the confused, the timid, the ignorant. But it is dignity, it is 
character that impresses the foe. Living in apologies, whin- 
ing for esteem makes the foe despise us. And he who tries 
to tell the foe that he is one of them, that he "belongs/ 5 is 
also mistrusted. The assimilationist overlooks these elemen- 
tary psychological facts. And he adds arrogance to escapism 
by jettisoning Judaism in a whim, being foolishly ignorant 
of the values he is throwing away. Severe damage to Jewish 
prestige is the sole result. 

THE MORE RADICAL THE ASSIMILATION THE MORE 

VEHEMENT THE REACTION 

It sometimes seems as if assimilation might 
still work. A fallacious assumption! Even the superficial 
truce which aroused that hope has never lasted for a long 
while. And as an honest analysis must admit, it was never 
true assimilation but only a superficial adjustment. Under 
the surface the old antagonism remained. And even 
outwardly the Jews lived a separate life socially. The Gen- 
tiles never really accepted them. It did not matter that the 
Jews had lived in Germany for more than fifteen hundred 
years. They were the first settlers on German soil. They 
made priceless contributions to German culture. The assimi- 
lation of the German Jews since the middle of the igth 
century was the most far reaching assimilation ever achieved 
and made many of them unrecognizable as Jews. And the 
result the most violent and unparalleled savagery of anni- 
hilation in all Jewish history. And after the first defense-line, 
German Jewry gave way, Polish Jewry was exposed to the 
full fury of German anti-Semitism. As if they were shaking 
off a hateful yoke, the German people reacted with volcanic 
violence, shattering the flimsy illusions of the assimilation- 
ist. His offer to surrender his Jewish identity was just as 
indecent as the demand on him to do so. 



35 Assimilation 

TO FIGHT THE JEW-HATER HAS BEEN FUTILE DOWN THE 

CENTURIES 

It is not only humiliating to appease the Jew- 
hater; it is also insincere, because deep down the appeaser 
knows that he is surrendering to a lie. And on top of that, it 
is futile. The Jew was never successful in buying peace. Even 
when he was willing to pay the highest price, he failed. For 
a short while he may have been fooled, but the awakening 
came soon, and it was a rude awakening. He could not make 
assimilation work, even when he cooperated most willingly 
and enthusiastically. Still less successful were his attempts to 
out-german the Germans, to out-roman the Romans, to out- 
babylon the Babylonians. Trying to "fight anti-Semitism/' 
even with the backing of decent and noble Gentiles, yielded 
no tangible results. Numerous efforts were made to disprove 
accusations that had no basis whatsoever. No documentary 
facts to the contrary, no intelligent argumentation, no truth- 
ful information had any effect. It was not even possible to 
dispel the stupid story that the Jews were committing ritual 
murder. It was not even possible to get rid of so clumsy a 
forgery as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was never 
possible to remove from the Jews the ominous label "mur- 
derers of Christ." Such ideas remained as integral part of the 
church-dogma and were used as a reason to bar the Jews 
from Palestine, because "the Jewish people had been re- 
jected by God." A return of the Jewish people would invali- 
date this dogma. A host of lies is spread about the subversive 
activities of the Jews, about their secret intrigues and their 
hostilities to the nations in which they live. All these lies are 
disproved day by day. And the next day they show up again. 
The Jews are confronted with the dilemma of having to state 
the truth over and over again, and yet to know that it is 
absolutely futile. They might be as perfect as human beings 
could ever hope to be, but their situation would simply be 
worsened because of that fact. Whatever the Jew may do he 
will be found at fault. Why is this so? 



6 CHOOSE LIFE 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COMPLETE IMPOSSIBILITY OF 

ASSIMILATION 

Is there then no hope for the Jew? Is there 
no way to peace? Clearly there Is a way. The same way, the 
only way which leads us out of all conflicts the truth. Con- 
cealment, stifled silence, confusing the issues, only inten- 
sify the bitterness. But a truthful controversy will lead to 
peace. A famous tenet of the ancient book The Ethics of the 
Fathers declares: All controversies undertaken for the sake 
of truth will yield a positive result. Instead of assuring the 
world that his identity as a Jew is irrelevant, he should rather 
proclaim this identity unambiguously. The Galuth, the dis- 
persion of Israel, is not an "injustice," nor a "misfortune/' 
not a "minority problem," and not a "scapegoat problem." 
The exile of the Jews mirrors the profound "schizophrenia" 
of humanity. It is an expression of the apocalyptic cleavage in 
human nature. It will not end until the fissure is mended. 
But it cannot be mended so long as it is not recognized as 
such. That is why the Galuth means not only suffering for 
the Jew but for the Gentile as well. The world is frightened 
and deeply disturbed by the Jew. The assiniilationist ex- 
planation of the "Jewish problem" as a misunderstanding or 
as a minority problem will not suffice. Only by interpreting 
the plight of the Jews as something profoundly meaningful 
will we have made a decisive step towards solving this "un- 
answerable question." 

THERE IS INDEED A GENUINE ISSUE BUT IT IS BECLOUDED 

Why are the Jews persecuted? Certainly not 
because they possess "unpleasant" characteristics. Such are 
common in all nations, races, groups. And certainly not be- 
cause the Jews are a minority. We have innumerable minori- 
ties that are not persecuted at all. And even if they are, none 
of them has been persecuted throughout its entire history. 
Neither can the reason for the persecution of the Jews be 
found in their vocational stratification, although it deviates 



37 Assimilation 

slightly from the average, often giving preference to urban 
and professional callings. None of these pretexts could ex- 
plain the persistence and the boundless vehemence of the 
hostility and aversion to the Jew. The only plausible expla- 
nation is: there is indeed a genuine issue. 

The true issue and the profoundest conflict among men 
is the struggle for the definite establishment of Man on 
Earth. This is the real theme of history, Man's "priestly 
message/* But what is "priestly"? The Hebrew word for 
priest, cohen, has nothing to do with any clerical function 
in the historical sense of the word "priest." He is neither a 
"caretaker of the soul" nor an official of the -hereafter. A 
cohen is a man "who solidly establishes unification." Which 
means: overcoming the basic cleavage which makes Man 
so weak. 

IS MAN EVIL OR WEAK? 

The biblical answer is: Man is weak. Evil is 
only the outgrowth of his weakness. Evil action or evil 
thoughts are a sort of compensation for his weakness. Man 
is weak because he is broken. But his brokenness can be 
mended, his unity can be restored. The Bible calls the 
broken, weak Man, Enosh. The full unbroken Man is 
called Adam. It is the broken Man, Enosh, the collapsed 
and ultimately evil Man, who as the Torah says has de- 
stroyed not only himself but also his environment. Man lives 
in the ruins of Paradise. And we ourselves are the ruins of the 
original Adam. We have lost the power that was bestowed 
on Man as the keystone of creation. With the broken key- 
stone the cupola of creation collapsed. All too many take 
our life in these ruins as normal, and these ruins as the 
world. They have accepted this collapsed state as final and 
have forgotten that these ruins are not the true reality. So 
they have made up their minds to settle down in these ruins 
comfortably. The few of us who have succeeded in getting 
the best places among the debris try cynically to keep the 
others out. And even these dispossessed bring themselves 



8 CHOOSE LIFE 

finally to accept their miserable condition as "reality." But 
there are some who revolt. Sparks of the original fire are kept 
alive in them. The rebellious, the outcasts try to rekindle 
the fire. This makes them hateful to the dwellers in the 
ruins, to whom nothing counts but their petty shelter. Panic- 
stricken, they defend tooth and nail their sheltered nooks, 
their escapes, their pusillanimity. So we are faced with the 
alternative: either to maintain the perversion or restore the 
Adam, Man-Total. 

THEIR REBELLION IS THE TRUE CASE AGAINST THE JEWS 

They are the rebellious cast out by the in- 
dwellers in these ruins. Said the great sociologist, Max 
Weber, in his enlightened Religious-Sociology: "The Jewish 
people are a pariah nation." But who are they who will re- 
kindle the fire? Is it the respectable indweller or the pariah? 
Where are the true cohanim. Do we find them among li- 
censed religions or among revolutionary religions? Hence 
the antagonism to the Jew, and why the Jew-baiter is his per- 
sistent companion down the ages. 

THE PROFUNDITY OF THE EXILE OF THE JEW 

The Jewish Galuth (diaspora) has its roots in 
the paramount conflict of human nature. The tragical cleav- 
age between the Jewish people and their fellow-men has the 
same roots as the basic Adamic collapse, except that the Jew 
is a most outspoken exponent of the problematic situation of 
mankind generally. The Jew is a troublesome admonisher, 
steadily reminding us that we are sick. He does not allow 
us to give in to our sickness; he does not allow us to take our 
sick-room for the world; he wants us to recover. He stirs us 
up again and again, -he gives us no rest. He drives us out from 
all stability, demonstrating the fictitious character of stability 
and security. He is the eternal unmasker. He refuses to set- 
tle down in a fictitious reality. He lives in this world here 
with an almost unbearable solemnity. As in a flash of light he 
makes us see the original radiance of these fictitious things 



39 Assimilation 

around us, these ruins of Paradise. Again the great word: 
"Look ever more deeply, ever more lovingly into this world, 
and a higher world will arise." We recall a wonderful experi- 
ment: ordinary pebbles were exposed to cathode-rays. Imme- 
diately they radiated an almost supernatural light; they be- 
came luminescent with beautiful colors, thus exposing their 
hidden true character and revealing what is latent in these 
ugly little pebbles. Jewish radicalism makes this dark world 
transparent because it does not neglect this world in favor of 
a world hereafter. Because this radicalism revolutionizes 
this world it restores its original paradisiacal meaning. A 
chassidic story about the great sage Schneur Zalman re- 
counts: Once a pupil asked him "What is God?" To which he 
replied: "All I know is, He is clearly present and besides 
Him nothing is clearly present." An interesting point in this 
statement is that the given things are not clearly present. 
The Jews are indeed a strange minority. 

THE JEW AND THE PAGAN. A BASIC ALTERNATIVE 

What is a pagan? It is man accepting our ficti- 
tious world. It is Man adjusting himself to what is wrong. 
But what is wrong? The Founding Fathers of this country 
insisted upon a clear awareness of what is right and what is 
wrong. No compromising. Once the righteous decision has 
been made, no superseding of it by business considerations. 
There is no "business ethics," there is only and simply "eth- 
ics." This was a Biblical attitude. The ethical laws are ab- 
solute. In nature there are no ethical laws. Nothing is 
absolute in nature. Nor is nature ethical. Nature is "demo- 
niac," which does not mean intentionally evil. There are no 
intentions in nature. "Demoniac" means: no consideration of 
Good and Evil. It means wild blind powers, undomesticated, 
alien to Man. 

But Man, so teaches the Bible and so believes the Jew, is 
meant to master nature, to rule and to use it, even to exploit 
it, to master the universe, to humanize the universe. This is 
what separates the Jew and the pagan. It is the one absolute 



40 CHOOSELIFE 

Either-Or issue. The pagan takes nature as absolute. He sur- 
renders to the demoniac powers in nature and in himself. 
He is "beyond good and evil" (Nietzsche). For Nietzsche 
moral restrictions are the invention of slaves. The pagan re- 
acts with violent hatred whenever Man, the ethical be- 
ing, succeeds in overpowering nature. The demoniac titans 
that Man, the Adam, chained avenge themselves. An irra- 
tional hellish fire flares up. They try to reach their only goal 
chaotic as they are, with one wild urge to destroy Man, to 
annihilate Israel. Assimilation? To what? 

ANTI-RELIGIOUS BUT NOT PAGAN 

The common use of the word pagan outside 
of the Jewish conception confuses the issue. So much so 
that it might be advisable to drop the term altogether and to 
replace it by another word. Yet it may be worthwhile some- 
times to freshen up the original significance of an expression. 
It may be helpful for reconquering lost precious spiritual 
territory. A very profound old saying goes: "Why was Jeru- 
salem destroyed? Because they did not pronounce the letters 
clearly. ff Decay begins with the decay of language. The lan- 
guage withers, as it is pointed out in the Tower of Babel 
story of the "confusion of the tongues." And a rebirth often 
begins with the rebirth of the key-words. 

The trouble with the word pagan is that the churches of 
various denominations use it, in particular, Catholic dog- 
matics. They claim to be anti-pagan. Are they? Hardly. The 
structure of Church dogmatics is based on ingrained pagan 
philosophies, chiefly on Greek paganism. Their religious cer- 
emonies are permeated with pagan rites. Particularly the 
abundant use of images, of such intermediaries as the Saints, 
the trinitarian idea of God, the transsubstantiation in the 
Holy Mass and many other ceremonies which are unques- 
tionably of magic origin. The Judaistic elements with their 
ethical, monotheistic, anti-idolatrous radicalism are pushed 
into the background. Strangely enough, this church paganism 
has some features in cotnmon with naturalism, which means 



4i Assimilation 

the idolization o nature, nature as the absolute, all of i( 
pagan. Only in contemporary science, in Einsteinian physics 
has this absolutism of nature been removed radically, even 
from the sciences. 

On the other hand, there are today powerful global trends 
which are anti-religious but by no means pagan. Although 
they reject the religions, or to be more precise, the institu- 
tionalized religions, they do not revert to paganism. They 
maintain the primacy and autonomy of Man. This new 
development is of utmost importance. These new "anti- 
religious" movements, which are not confined to any politi- 
cal ideology, are in fact deeply religious, with a religiosity 
akin to the innermost faith of Israel. (In our studies we have 
not yet come to this inner sanctum. We still have to make a 
steep ascent.) 

THE KEY CONFUSION 

The assimilationist is the high-priest of con- 
fused thinking. He firmly establishes the basic confusion 
and replaces clarification by muddling. He who beclouds 
the clarification of Man's ultimate conflicts deprives us of the 
light of unobstructed truth. 



2 
LIBERALIZATION: Watering Down Judaism 



LIBERALIZATION CONTAINS NO POSSIBILITY OF PRESERVING 

ISRAEL 

The liberal Jew or reform-Jew does not try to 
hide the fact that he is a Jew. He does not try to submerge 
himself unrecognized in his environment. He admits that he 
is a Jew. He belongs to a congregation of fellow liberal 
Jews. He may even ask for better protection of his minority 
rights. He may promote "enlightenment on anti-Semitism.'* 
Yet the liberal Jew tries to prove to the world and to him- 
self that it does not mean very much to be a Jew. This is 
the American pattern of evading Judaism, just as more 
recently the predominant pattern in Germany was "assimila- 
tion." The liberal Jew in this country claims that the Jews 
are not a people, that they are ordinary citizens like all the 
other citizens of the countries where they happen to live. 
Like all their fellow-citizens they belong to a religious 
denomination, in this case, Judaism. Their faith is just one 
among other faiths, deviating only slightly. They are Amer- 
ican, or French, or English citizens of Jewish faith. In the 
so-called "Interfaith Groups" they emphasize the sameness 
of all creeds. They belittle the differences, which are as 
they believe simply variations in terms. They stress particu- 
larly their close relationship with Christianity and sometimes 
even advocate a kind of amalgamation of Judaism and Chris- 
tianity, or at least a greater rapprochement of Judaism to 
Christianity. 



43 Liberalization 

It would not be fair simply to belittle Liberal Judaism. 
It has indisputably a great many achievements to its credit, 
but these belong to the past, chiefly to the time of the 
Haskalah, a period of Jewish enlightenment in the second 
part of the igth century. The so-called Wissenschaft des 
Judentums in Germany was a scholarly and honest research 
movement for the collecting and filing of the enormous 
wealth of Jewish literature through the centuries. Compara- 
tive studies made known the connection of the history of the 
Jews with universal history. Not unrelated to this trend 
philosophers of great profundity and wide scope came to the 
fore, among them Steinheim, Samuel Hirsch, Raphael S. 
Hirsch, Formstecher, Moses Hess, David Neumark, Hermann 
Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig. There are signs of undergoing 
change and of a new interest in scholarly Jewish studies in 
Reform Judaism. 

Hand in hand with the decline of liberalism goes the de- 
cline of Liberal Judaism. The modern liberals have wa- 
tered it down to insignificance. The ceremonies of Liberal 
Judaism are colorless. The festivals, wedding, and funeral 
ceremonies are rapidly losing their Jewish character. Knowl- 
edge of the Hebrew language is declining. The majestic 
profundity of the Jewish Torah is diluted, toned down to 
generalities in conventional sermons of edification. Services 
in synagogues are often linked up with book reviews. The 
central idea of the Jewish tradition, the great principle of 
never ending "learning," has been abandoned. Yet, it was 
these principles that kept the Jewish people alive through 
the most appalling horrors in which any other nation most 
probably would have perished. There is among these liberals 
little knowledge of Jewish history, of Jewish philosophy, of 
the gigantic "sea of the Talmud." So the liberal Jew hardly 
understands why he should be a Jew. Only the older genera- 
tion may still have a certain sentimental relationship, which 
has its roots and reasons in an attachment to parents and 
grandparents rather than in belief. But this sentimental 
relic of Judaism tends to fizzle out quickly. And the younger 



44 CHOOSE LIFE 

generation turns its back on Judaism with complete disre- 
gard. 

Only the unpleasant reprimander, the eternal Jew-baiter, 
may delay the complete fizzling out of the tradition. But it 
may happen that such a "fizzled-out Jew" is caught unpre- 
pared and helplessly embarrassed when all of a sudden his 
children ask him to explain to them: Why are we Jews? It 
may happen that some of them in whom the spark has not 
died out completely will feel a strong urge to have the Jewish 
fire rekindled. And this bewildered Jew suddenly hears 
again the rumbling of the volcano he thought long extinct. 
He may even be stunned by a vision that the hour is near 
when American Jewry will again meet with history. 

THE LIBERAL ART TO LIVE WITHOUT LIFE 

The fallacy of liberalism is that it hopes to 
unite men by watering down the ideas they stand for. But the 
way to unity is through clarity and not through confusion. 
There was a period, not so long ago, that seemed like the 
calm before the storm. In this period people believed that 
soft attitudes would soften the hearts of men. It was a time 
which did not like to be confronted with issues, which did 
not like to make great decisions, to have profound visions, to 
stir up hopes and enthusiasm. "The Gay Nineties" an age, 
naively unaware of the irrational character of nature and 
naively forgetful of the abysses in human nature, a period 
of relaxation, an era of liberalism, trying to suspend man's 
longing for greatness, for infinitude, his revolutionary unrest. 
It committed the folly of trimming the tree of humanity at 
the roots and at the top. It was a philosophy of life which 
avoided both the black depths and the dizzy heights of our 
existence, in short, a philosophy of mediocrity. And it is pre- 
cisely this mediocrity that has caused the doom of liberal- 
ism. 

The case against liberalism is not personal freedom ver- 
sus state-control or submergence in the mass. Liberalism can- 
not fundamentally overcome compulsion; it is only a method 



45 Liberalization 

of dodging the problem of the use of force. It is easy to be 
free where life is not engaged, is not adventurous, not intoxi- 
cated by an ultimate enthusiasm, never confronted with a 
deadly "Either-Or." To be free is so dangerously precarious 
that most people prefer safety in slavery to the uncertainties 
of freedom. 

This intermezzo of a life without real life is over now. We 
cannot tolerate any longer a life marked by the absence of 
the Divine quest, of the Divine unrest that makes man's life 
meaningful. And people turn to the devil as their leader 
rather than suffer dullness. 

LIBERALIZATION IS RELIGIOUS ASSIMILATION OF THE JEW 

To establish an easy way of life is also the 
cheapest way of keeping "freedom of personal initiative/* 
but initiative for what? The first concern of Liberal Judaism 
a contradiction in terms was to put out the dangerous fire 
kindled by the Torah of the Jews. Diluting the Torah with 
streams of insignificance has cut off the source of Israel's 
life. The aim of this dilution was the religious assimilation 
of the Jews. Nothing remained of the revolutionary incan- 
descence of the Torah except for some trivial generalities. 
The powerful ritual was dropped entirely. And yet this rit- 
ual touched even the bodily life of the Jew to its deepest 
roots. It had carved with knives a holy sign in the very body 
of the Jew. 

The majestic challenge of Jewish monotheism was also 
robbed of its strength and became an empty abstraction 
called "god," an aftermath of certain Aristotelian specula- 
tions on the idea of "substance/* To substitute this shallow 
"absolute substance" for the God of Israel borders on idola- 
try. This poor substitute could be easily ground to dust by 
modern scientific logic and advanced mathematical theory, 
combined with modern physics and psychology. The last 
traces of this immature thinking were shattered by a scien- 
tific analysis of the old ideas of "cause/' "first cause/' and 
"necessity/* Then came the psychological analysis of the "fa- 



46 CHOOSE LIFE 

ther image/* and finally the last remnants were liquidated by 
sociological analysis. 

Unable to stem the decay, a last attempt was made by 
Liberal Judaism to save some fragments of the old grandeur 
by detaching some of the ethical prescriptions of the Torah. 
It was like separating the heart as something particularly 
beautiful from the totality of the body or like splitting 
the right side from the left side. In the kabbalistic philoso- 
phy the right side stands for mildness, the left side for 
strength. Jewish thinking wisely holds that the one cannot 
exist without the other. We need both legs for walking. 
Such insulated ethics soon degenerated into mere preaching 
and insignificant verbiage. 

JUDAISM IS NOT MERELY ONE AMONG MANY RELIGIONS 

It is one of the fallacies of liberalism that 
Judaism is merely a kind of moral admonition or a certain 
pattern of culture. These misconceptions may have their ori- 
gin in the fallacious assumption that Judaism is just one of 
the many religions on earth and that it should be looked at 
with the tolerance that befits civilized modern culture. But 
any attempt to bring Israel into line will fail In the first 
place these attempts overlook the fact that Israel is funda- 
mentally "uncoordinatable." This is, as we shall see, one of 
its most prominent features. And, as we shall see, the attempt 
also overlooks the fact that Israel is not a "religion" at all in 
the Gentile sense of the term. And finally, it is by no means 
true that all religions profess in different terms one and 
the same truth. Nowhere do we find a more vehement con- 
tradiction of this than among the various religions. And 
rightly so. There are genuine issues which the various reli- 
gions stand for and struggle for. Religious beliefs are defi- 
nitely irreconcilable. That is 



47 Liberalization 

WHY THE JEWS DID NOT BECOME CHRISTIANS AND 

NEVER WILL 

"Interfaith" activities are to be welcomed 
only if they pursue one specific purpose. This purpose cannot 
be "to convert" people, nor to belittle the true differences 
among the religious groups. But they can very well contrib- 
ute to the ennoblement of an inevitable yet creative contro- 
versy. It is obvious that such a noble conflict must be based 
on knowledge of what the various religions stand for. It is 
not fair to explain the resistance of the Jew against conver- 
sion to Christianity as stubbornness or as an innate deficiency 
of mind and soul which keeps him from living up to the sub- 
lime teachings of Christianity. The Jews are even so blind 
the Gentiles say as not to realize that their old faith has long 
been superseded by a much nobler and much more perfect 
conception, and the Jews should understand that Christian- 
ity is the only true and genuine form of Judaism. 

Here is fertile ground for interfaith activities. For the 
deficiency-theory hardly does justice to the Jews. A fair con- 
troversy should at least attempt to discover what their objec- 
tions to accepting Christianity are. These objections may be 
accepted or not, but at any rate they should be known before 
judgment is passed. The Jews have tried again and again to 
explain why they reject Christianity. They seem to have 
failed to make themselves understood. The Gentiles still 
know very little about the motivations of the Jewish resist- 
ance. And it is particularly among the converted Jews that 
this knowledge is conspicuously missing. Because of the mag- 
nitude of the problem we can only mention a few of the 
Christian dogmas to which the Jewish answer is a deter- 
mined NO. 

WHICH CHRISTIANITY? 

The Jew may be inclined to lump together 
all the manifestations of Christianism, because all of them 
mean to him bloodshed, intolerance, unspeakable suffering. 



48 CHOOSE LIFE 

But even abstaining from generalizations, it would be hard 
for him to extricate a Christianism acceptable to him. For all 
manifestations of Christianity, since St. Paul, are permeated 
with pagan elements, particularly with Greek paganism. The 
Jew is militantly opposed to ideas like heavens populated 
with intermediary beings, other-wordliness, mortification of 
the body, postponement of justice till the hereafter, subordi- 
nation of the ethical to the aesthetical, hiding in the cave of 
spiritual internality, organization of religious feelings in 
power-groups, alignment of the church with privileged 
groups. 

THEOPHORIC RADICALISM 

Although the Jew realizes that the Christian 
version of his original faith has accomplished good for man- 
kind, he maintains that withstanding the seduction of Chris- 
tianity was a tremendous achievement for the Jewish people. 
The unbending concentrated strength, the centripetal cohe- 
sion of Israel's truth is to him a triumph of Israel's vertical 
way. St. Paul opened "the reservoir," let the holy water run 
out and mingle with the streams and rivers of the land. But it 
seemed to the Jew that to keep the reservoir filled and always 
to refill it was a far greater achievement. The Jew resolutely 
preserved the eternal truth in the deep-freeze of the 
Halacha, the Divine Law, to keep the source pure so that 
Man may not perish. This has made the Jews immune to the 
fascination of the Pauline melange of paganism and truth. 
They preferred Akiba to Paul. 

This is a triumphant victory of Man's greatness in one of 
the most crucial moments in history. The theophoric people 
made their decision to carry the Divine spark through the 
turmoil of history. They were confident that they would not 
fail. And they also knew that it would make their burden al- 
most unbearable. Yet they did not take the easy way. What 
could make them believe that the Pauline way was so supe- 
rior to Jeshurun's vertical way? Paul's new faith all actual 
is more or less Pauline failed to deflect the Jew* 



49 Liberalization 

AKIBA VERSUS PAUL 

A monument of Jewish steadfastness has been 
the Sea of the Talmud, this almost superhuman work, with 
Paul's antagonist, Akiba, as the exponent of the unconfused 
Jewish "stubbornness." The Talmud, started centuries before 
Christianity, is a protocol of a thousand years' discussion on 
the implications of an intransigent monotheism for our 
everyday life, down to the tiniest details, including even our 
daily bodily regimen. How far removed is the Talmud from 
Christian spiritualism! How far from St. Paul's abhorrence of 
the "flesh/' The Jew could not accept this Pauline headlong 
dive into a body-spirit dualism, which since that time has 
paralyzed life. Surely Judaism is not spiritualism. Surely 
spiritualism is not a doctrine superior to the doctrines of 
Israel. Not a bodiless ghost but the total concrete human be- 
ing is Israel's aim. Moreover, should the Jew bow to 
St. Paul's fateful document, which is one of the pillars of 
Christian faith? 

A LETTER THAT STIFLED TWO THOUSAND YEARS 

It is the Epistle to the Romans. On this letter 
the disastrous belief has been built that Man cannot act 
righteously because he is under the curse of God, and be- 
cause "the flesh" always obstructs Man's good intentions. 
Can the Jew accept the fundamental axiom of Christianity 
that Man has lost his freedom and needs a mystical redemp- 
tion? This pagan fatalism is a blow to the very basis of Jew- 
ish faith, to the Jewish axiom that Man has never lost his 
freedom, that Man was never "cursed." The earthly ground 
was cursed, not Man. His environment was ruined, but Man 
himself remained free and could "redeem" himself by virtue 
of his own decisions and actions. A mystical redemption in 
which Man remains passive is not a redemption, but the tacit 
admission that Man has failed. Pauline Christianity deserted 
Man; it is a doctrine without Man. This non-human trend 
became more and more outspoken through the ages until it 



50 CHOOSE LIFE 

reached its cataclysmic consequences. But the Jew still de- 
clines to surrender to these lapses into a pagan worship of 
fate. 

THE HORRORS OF THE "SATISFACTION THEORY" 

Having cut the roots from under the Adam 
("unbroken Man") in depriving him of his self-determina- 
tion, Paulinism lowered Jewish monotheism to the "mythol- 
ogy of Trinity." Now God has a Son. The Son is not only 
similar but equal (homoos) to God. And later on the 
Mother of the Son of God was also deified. Dethroned were 
the tremendous undertakings of the Schools of the Prophets 
to desexualize the highest conceptions of mankind. Again 
Man's triumphant ascent to autonomy was obstructed. 
Again the wild natural forces of propagation were unre- 
deemed, were not integrated into the emerging perfection 
of Man. Now the autonomy was shifted to the still more dis- 
lodged sex urges. The top-level of human thought was resex- 
ualized, and the advancing front of humanity replaced by a 
ceiling, which is heavily weighing on the frustrated poten- 
tialities of Man. Finally the regressive trends produced one 
of the most horrible theories: The idea that God needed an 
infinitely great sacrifice for the atonement of Man's sin. So 
God sacrificed His Son and, as revealed in a vision to St. 
Paul, only by the Grace of God redemption had now come to 
a passive Man, to an inert Man, unable to live up by his own 
free decision to the call of God. Thus Man had been a fail- 
ure. 

Obviously this conception is a paganized version of the 
Abraham-Isaac story. In the Hebrew Bible this story is not 
called the "sacrificing" of Isaac, but the "binding" of Isaac 
(akedah). God stayed Abraham's hand. The sacrifice was 
prevented. But the "binding" of Israel to the "Name/' Is- 
rael's eternal akedah was established. All natural roots of life 
were foregone; from now on the Jewish People had their 
roots solely in the Divine Reality. It is the most pathetic 
ever told of the "paradoxical life," of Man's confronta- 



51 Liberalization 

tion with God. It tells us how Abraham answered the Divine 
call to sacrifice his only son with the immediate "Here I am!' 
He hastened to rise early in the morning. He went to 
Morijah to sacrifice his only son. The Divine promise that a 
mighty people would come from his seed had vanished. 
But he was determined to renounce this glorious future for 
the sake of a higher principle. Not for even a moment did he 
waver to subordinate everything to the absolute reality in 
which he trusted. He listened to the voice of the absolute 
truth that spoke to him. In a free decision he was willing to 
offer even the last, the only natural "guarantee" for all his 
hopes. But everything was restored to him, now freed from 
natural causation and calculable security. He had detached 
himself and with him the Founded People from "nor- 
malcy." He had accepted the paradox. He had become the 
creator of faith. 

What had been achieved at Morijah was reversed in Gol- 
gotha, (Calvary), as seen in the light of the "satisfaction 
theory/' The sacrifice, rejected in Morijah, was accepted in 
Golgotha, because Man had failed to accept the Divine para- 
dox. Mentality fell back to magic. But in Morijah, like in 
a first psychoanalysis, the age-old father-son complexes were 
brought into the light of consciousness. It was the victory of 
love over primitive feelings of guilt and revenge. The 
stand of the Jew can be only at Morijah. 

CHRISTIANITY AGAINST HISTORY 

The mystical redemption which started Chris- 
tianity on its way brought history to a standstill, as it were. 
To the Christian the ultimate goal had been achieved. The 
historical process that was still to come, was only an after- 
math. It had to bring in line the stubborn and the wicked, 
those who unfortunately refused to see the light. The true 
historical process had come to a stop and was replaced 
by a semi-historical, semi-mystical substitute. It was one of 
Israel's greatest visions that the perfection of Man and the 
restoration of the Adam is to be achieved only in the course 



52 CHOOSE LIFE 

of history. Israel, as we shall see, discovered "history/* The 
Jewish revolutionary spirit challenged the prehistoric numb- 
ness, liquidated the endless stretches of prehistoric time and 
started history. History is Jewish. To break away from his- 
tory is Christian. When the "emergent evolution'* as a 
modern scientific school would call it stops, the direction of 
the process is apt to reverse into a downward trend, into 
retrogression. Christianity, in a kind of mystical shortcircuit, 
smashed the high-tension system of historical electricity. The 
Jew decided not to desert history. He has saved the Adam. 

BACK TO "ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY' '? 

But even if the Jew refuses to bow to all 
these Christian dogmas, so impossible to him can he not ac- 
cept the simple faith of the first Christians? But who 
are these first Christians? The more the Jew strips Christian- 
ism of all its later conceptions the more he comes to a nu- 
cleus, which adds nothing to the Torah or to the evolution of 
Jewish thought. To the Jew the Gospels are like an anthol- 
ogy of old Jewish wisdom and of ethical guidance, only 
brought under the new heading: "Christ." He cannot find in 
that anthology any new or higher elucidation. It consists of 
quotations literally taken from the Canonic Scriptures of 
the Jews or from sayings of their sages. For the Jew it is 
hard to imagine that a concrete man should talk exclusively 
in quotations. Something unreal, something not historical 
surrounds the founder of Christianity. The figures in the Old 
Testament, dear to Jew and Gentile alike, were clearly rep- 
resented as human beings, in flesh and blood. But they ex- 
isted with more, not with less reality than their contempo- 
raries. The persons that lived in the emerging reality of 
Biblical history were more and not less "historical" than the 
so-called historical persons. Floating in the sluggish stream 
of average dullness and dumbness is what strangely enough 
the so-called "realists" terms: "having really existed." Even 
today the most real people seem to be "unreal" to this "real- 
istic view," Yet only to such mesquine minds do the Biblical 



53 Liberalization 

stories seem to be mere "legends." The dull mind doubts the 
existence of what goes beyond its scope. But it is more reason* 
able to question our own existence than to question Abra- 
ham's. 

Very different from the tales of the Gospels is the true 
story of such groups as the Essenes, the Therapeuts, the Phar- 
isees. These were inner Jewish movements maximalizing, 
and rightly so, the social component of the Jewish way. And 
it is just because of this that they were devout Jews. In their 
teachings not the slightest trace is discernible of a nu- 
. cleus for a "new" religion, neither in their way of life nor in 
their way of thinking. 

As regards the Pharisees, these men were humble artisans 
of fascinating purity and conduct of life. The proverbial 
description of these saintly men is a slander. Some learned 
and sincere Christians, notable among them, Herford, have 
made great efforts to rehabilitate the historical honor of the 
Pharisees. 

It is not true, as has often been said, that Christianity is 
the religion of love and Judaism the religion of vengeance. 
Love was the very center of the Jewish Torah, a millennium 
before the Gospels were spread. Love as action, not as mere 
emotion is what the Torah teaches. It is not enough "to love" 
love; this is only escape from love. All the teachers of Israel 
were inspired by love and not by hatred. Not vengeance but 
justice is the granite rock on which Man can stand upright. 
And the "jealous" God of Israel ( a more correct translation 
of El Kano would be the exclusive, the unique God, the 
God demanding Man undivided ) is jealous only of the 
false gods but not jealous of Man, like the gods of mythology, 
the false gods that tortured Prometheus for having wrested 
the fire from them. 

Not even for an "early" or "original" Christianity can the 
Jew exchange his Judaism. He cannot discover anything in 
Christianity that is a higher stage of Judaism. He can see only 
Israel's own vertical way. 



54 CHOOSE LIFE 

WAS JESUS A TEACHER OR A GOD? 

But there may be still one possibility. Could 
not the Jews accept Jesus as their teacher? Or to put it more 
correctly: should they accept Jesus as one among their many 
teachers? Or could he be accepted as "the" teacher, the over- 
powering authority? The teacher was always the most hon- 
ored person in Israel. The Jewish people were most 
devotedly and lovingly attached to their great teachers. 
Their names have been carefully preserved, their teachings 
meticulously handed over from generation to generation. 
The "Golden Chain of Learning" has never been broken. 
The Matmid, the ever-learning Jew, became the living chain 
of Israel's tradition. When one group had finished their 
daily work of learning, another group took over, day after 
day, night after night, centuries after centuries. They found 
nothing new in Jesus* teachings, nothing that the prophets 
had not already told them, nothing that their teachers, Hillel 
or Gamaliel, had not taught them, and even Jesus might 
have gotten his wisdom from them. Moreover, was the par- 
ticular method applied by Jesus really a higher method? 

It was repelling to the Jews to hear the "Name of God" 
uttered. Not to utter the Name was the great barrier that 
prevented the majestic Jewish monotheism from sinking 
down into theology. It was the fortification of the vertical 
way. Only once a year the High-Priest entered the Holy of 
Holies to call out the Name and was fully prepared that he 
might never return alive. With the arrival of Christianity 
these barriers were lowered. It was on this very issue that the 
case against Jesus came to a head. 

"i"? 

Jesus began all his teachings with an "I say." 
The word "I" was rather sparingly used in the sphere of 
the Hebrew language and teachings. The prophets never 
used it. They said: "So speaks God." Was their objectivism 
really inferior to the subjectivism of Jesus? A profound chas- 



55 Liberalization 

sidic story tells that: after many years of study a young Jew- 
ish scholar returned to his little home-town, eager to see his 
beloved old teacher. He went to his house, knocked at the 
door, and when the old man asked: Who is it? He said "I." 
He expected his teacher to recognize him by his voice. No 
answer came. He knocked again. No answer. After a while 
he heard his teacher say: Who is it who dares to say "I"? 
Only God can say "I." And then the young Jew understood 
that all his learning had been superficial. 

Was Jesus a god? Or a demi-god? Or a manifestation of God? 
If this is so, how could he be a paradigm for us poor mortals? 
A Christian doctrine Doketism that influenced Christian 
philosophy in its early stages, maintains that Jesus had only 
an apparent body and only this apparent body was crucified. 
But if this crucifixion was only a magical performance, how 
could it serve as a pattern for man to be imitated. Jesus could 
dematerialize his body, but how could the poor Jew in the 
Warsaw Ghetto dematerialize his body when the supreme 
test came? When his torturers laid their heavy hands on him, 
his vulnerable body had to endure the test with all the at- 
tendant hunger, thirst and excruciating pain. Is not the 
kiddush ha schem of innumerable saintly men and women 
from immemorial times up to modern pogroms a more in- 
spiring example than this magic demi-god? Why should the 
Jew abandon his belief that Israel is the Messiah. This, and 
only this, is what the messianic words of the prophets pro- 
claim. The suffering Messiah is Israel. And the triumphant 
Messiah has not come yet. 

REJUVENATION AND REFORM. FAILURE OF RE*S OR NEO'S 

Liberalism tried another way. Should we not 
"rejuvenate" Jewish life? But what was to be the method of 
such rejuvenation? Where were the inspiring ideas that 
could promote this plan? The general denominator for the 
revival was the conception of Israel as just one culture among 
other cultures, coordinating Israel with Gentile patterns. 
Again the same unwillingness to understand Israel in its 



56 CHOOSELIFE 

own terms! Moreover, the global revolution of today has 
challenged culture and also religion as superstructures. 
Those who would like to reduce Israel to a "culture" over- 
look this fact completely. Admirable as these superstructures 
are, they nevertheless rest on such substructures, which are 
exposed and challenged by psychoanalysis as exceedingly 
problematic. These "superstructures" are not fundaments 
but rather abysses. Disturbing as this challenge is, it gives 
hope of crashing through a restrictive barrier and of reaching 
the open road. No longer can we refuse to ask: what are all 
these ideologies and, consequently, what are the Arts? 

"Reform" and "Rejuvenation" purged from the Jewish 
system all that is controversial or that contradicts current 
ideologies. Along with the controversial spirit the holy fire 
of Israel died down, and what remained is hardly more than 
a Jewish archeology. 

"Re"s or "neo"s fail, because there are no ways back. To 
block all roads down or back is a fundamental principle of 
Judaism. "Everything has its own hour" remember the 
words of Ecclesiastes (3). If its time is gone, it is gone. It is 
this unique chance, this "never again," this fiery "Now," 
which is the very root of concreteness. "If not now when?" 
It is this dramatic uniqueness of each moment that guaran- 
tees its imperishableness. Such a preservation of each mo- 
ment is envisaged in the Kabbalistic saying: "nothing per- 
ishes, not even the most fleeting breath of the mouth." 

Not reform but enhancement is the right way, enhance- 
ment through ever greater intensification of Jewish life, 
through ever new confrontations with each new emerging 
moment. There is no other "rebirth" but pioneering; no 
trailing behind will do. 

"REFORM" NEITHER KEEPS UP THE TRADITION NOR DOES 

IT STAND FOR TRUE PROGRESS 

The modern Torah is not a diluted but an 
intensified Torah, not the declining but the emerging Torah. 
It is not for Israel to be easy with superficialities. Liberaliza- 



57 Liberalization 

tion offers nothing to hold the Jew in the fold of the Jewish 
people. A Jew who definitely turns his back on Israel is less 
lost for Israel than the liberal Jew, for his dynamic sincerity 
may one day return him to the vertical way. But Liberal 
Judaism lacks the consistency and boldness to admit that it 
has no answer to the quest: Why remain a Jew? And there 
is no denying that only the determined Jew marches towards 
the furthermost front-lines. 



3 

NORMALIZATION: Fatigued Judaism 



LET US BE NORMAL, IS THE CRY OF THE FATIGUED 

"The guardian of Israel never rests and never 
slumbers," Is a famous ancient saying* The shomer Israel 
the focusing principle of Israel does not know fatigue. To 
belong to Israel means to belong to a Collective where fa- 
tigue never existed. Just as Israel has basically overcome 
fear, so it has risen above fatigue. However, this does 
not mean that the individual Jew is free from fear and fa- 
tigue, or that sections of the Jewish people are not in need 
of a rest-period. To live as a Jew is to live continuously under 
high-tension. The demands made on Jewish life constantly 
reach the border-line of human endurance. Some sections of 
the Jewish people always move forward to the battle-fronts, 
as it were, while others have periods of rest. And out of their 
longing for rest they cry for normalcy. But this cry is only a 
sign of fatigue. For what is normalcy? 

NORMALIZATION: GIVING UP ONE'S ULTIMATE GOALS 

The conception of normalcy rests upon the 
assumption of a smooth conduct of life, patterned and li- 
censed by "healthy" and "respectable" people whom it is most 
desirable and useful to join. But whence this identification 
of health and normalcy? The toad in the puddle is a picture 
of health. But Is this to be the ideal of men? "Normal" has a 
connotation of "natural." But Israel challenges nature! Na- 
ture aims at the maintenance of the species only, and it is not 



59 Normalization 

concerned with the well-being of the individual. Like dust of 
pollen nature wastes individuals for the sake of guaranteeing 
propagation. Man's aims are alien to nature. The vision of 
Israel is to set up the autonomy of man, the primacy of ethics 
over the blind necessities of nature. Normalization confuses 
uniformity and unity. The more "natural" the greater the 
prevalence of the species over the person. Fish or bacteria are 
no persons, they are individuals, and they as individuals 
matter very little. There are also "individual" chairs and 
razor blades, many of them. But the person is unique, is 
irreplaceable. That "everyone can easily be replaced" is a 
vicious statement. 

Normalization is tantamount to a complete leveling of dif- 
ferences. It is tantamount to giving up ultimate goals, ad- 
venturous plans, great dreams, mighty visions. It is the end 
of the vertical way. It means confining ourselves to the hori- 
zontal plane. In flattening out all differentiations we might 
very easily come nearer to the toad-level. And complete toad- 
respectability may establish the millennium of the puddle. In 
that eventuality only a few adherents of the vertical way may 
go on with their subversive abnormality. The correct equa- 
tion would be: Normalcy-Idiocy. 

NORMALIZATION IS A THOROUGHLY UNJEWISH IDEAL 

A Jewish desire for normalization is only a 
new kind of assimilationism. It is despair over the endless- 
ness of the Exile. It is the desire to die rather than to live on 
as an outcast; or it is the desire to see Israel vanish as Israel. 
It is the temptation to submerge all of Israel into the ocean 
of Gentile life. "Let us be like all the nations" (Sam. i. 
8,20), the all too human outcry of the pariah-people, of the 
outcast crying in the name of all the outcasts. And God's 
majestic adamant answer to their demand was: "They have 
abandoned Me" And then the prophet told them what the 
king whom they would choose would do to them, that he will 
enslave them, wage wars, and take enormous levies. It was 
greatness in George Washington when, asked to become a 



60 CHOOSELIFE 

king, he refused, pointing to the Samuel chapter in the Holy 
Script. The Bible says "No" to all kings. They are usurpers. 
"He alone is King and nobody else" is the battle-cry of the 
rebellious against the kings. 

To be like all the nations means that the Jewish people 
could be asked by any nation to give up its original identity. 
But all the other nations could hold on to their own identi- 
ties. To be like all the nations demands of the Absolute 
Collective a lowering into mere nationhood, which is a pagan 
and Gentile category. Much confusion exists about the real 
meaning of the concept "nation." It is not clearly recognized 
that a nation is a grouping that lacks the highest form of 
human cohesion. Nationhood does not and can never reach 
the highest level of human unification. 

The justified desire of those Jews to whom Jewishness is 
not only a religious denomination but an indissoluble con- 
crete wholeness has created a confusion not so easy to clear 
up. (This will be dealt with in a chapter on the profound 
antagonism between got and am, the nation and the people. 
(It is the method of this treatise to take up all the issues sev- 
eral times, each time proceeding to profounder points of 
view.) 

WHY BO THE NATIONS RAGE? (PSALM 2, l) 

The nations must rage. They cannot do other- 
wise, since nationhood is rooted in tribalism and tribes are 
akin to the biological species. Relentless conflict is rather 
normal among them. Nature is full of weird irrational strug- 
gles, one being devouring the other. Biological beings grow 
and expand, each at the expense of the other. So do the na- 
tions. For a time there may be truce among the nations, but 
never peace, for war is a normal function in their lives, and 
the realm of peace is not in their reach. "To be like the na- 
tions" means to accept war as an inevitable consequence. War 
is chaos, the tohu wa bohu. In the mythology of nations the 
original state is chaos, out of which order emanates. How 
this could be so has never been explained. The mortal foe of 



6 1 Normalization 

mythology, the Bible, stands alone in teaching that the Di- 
vine Word is the origin of all things. The world is "spoken/ 7 
Chaos, the tohu wa bohu^ is not in the beginning as it is in 
the mythologies, but comes in later. As the Book of the 
Genesis says: it occurred on earth and not before the earth 
was created. Nationhood, chaos-born, is the pagan normalcy. 
Before crying for normalcy we should investigate what nor- 
malcy looks like. 

THE SUBLIME ABNORMALITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE 

When the Jew or Jewry generally has 
achieved normalcy, this short dream will have a cruel awak- 
ening. The "normal Jew" will find himself a neurotic or a 
schizophrenic. He will be unbalanced, unhappy, a withering 
leaf on the tree. The spiritual glory that transfigured so many 
Jewish faces will abandon him. This surely will not make 
him more attractive for the Gentile. Less than any other can 
he afford to give up his identity. Nobody on earth is more 
vulnerable, in a position more problematic, and a better tar- 
get for challenge than the Jew detached from Israel. His 
escape into the flatland of normalcy, into the warmish toad- 
puddle will end in tragic disaster. 

Because of our superior insight into the processes of men- 
tal disorder we know today that neuroses and psychoses are 
not simply diseases like cancer or tuberculosis or diabetes. 
Schizophrenia, neuroses, or manic depressive cycles are 
rather initial revolts against a fictitious normalcy. The 
Adamic reality revolts against the fraud of "normal" reality. 
What is most human in us cannot stand living any longer in 
static corruption. But this healthy riot in us is unfortunately 
checked most of the time by weakness or fear. A horrid vac- 
uum is the result of this stoppage, and the frustrated rebel 
feels as if he were suspended over an abyss. If this rebellion 
had not stopped but had been carried on consistently, it 
would have ended in perfect health. Respectable normalcy 
decries revolt. Revolts are improper. But Israel sticks stub- 
bornly to the revolt although to some this may seem madness. 



62 CHOOSE LIFE 

But who is really mad normal respectability, rushing head- 
long into self-annihilation, into the new mabul of the cosmic 
fire, or Israel, ascending in clarity to the firm establishment 
of man's autonomy? The persecuted Jew may be wholly sane. 
The normalized Jew may descend into a deep melancholia, 
even into mental destruction. 

ON THE ILLUSION THAT NORMALIZATION WOULD BRING 

PEACE TO THE JEW 

Even on the flatlands the empty shell of a 
normalized Jewish people would remain alien. It would be 
like a dead body, which flatland-dwellers would feel it their 
duty to bury. Likewise the desperate attempt to submerge 
Israel in one colossal act of de-israelization will not work. 
Making Israel just one more tribe among the many tribes 
would quickly end in the liquidation of the remnant. It is 
only another illusion that going down to the flatlands will end 
segregation. Flatland is not peace-land, and leveling does 
not create unification. Unification is the ripe fruit of integra- 
tion. The greater the differentiation the more effective the 
integration will be, as the miraculous unity of the human 
body is the result of perfect integration of extremely differ- 
ent organs. In the flatlands uniformity rules, useful perhaps 
for a school of fish but not for a school of man. No true 
community exists in the flatland of normalcy only a herd. 
And the stratum where normality reigns is just the stratum of 
the most cruel fighting. People do not fight each other be- 
cause they are different, but because they are pagans. This 
means they are driven by their emotions and not inspired by 
their free decision for a superior goal. 

TO DIE AS A JEW AND TO LIVE AS A JEW 

To die as a Jew even in an act of glorious 
transformation was never beyond the reach of the Jew. But 
to live as a Jew may sometimes touch the borderline of hu- 
man capacity, nay, even surpass it. The decision of the War- 
saw Ghetto to go down fighting is less negative than the at- 



6 3 Normalization 

tempt to give oneself up to normalization. It might seem as if 
the Warsaw Ghetto gave up and as if the "normal" were full 
of life, but exactly the reverse is true. What was so great in 
the Warsaw Ghetto was the determination to regain ulti- 
mate freedom. And this succeeded. The physical death of 
these Jews meant triumphant life for Israel. So centuries ago 
the Jews died when the sinister messengers of the "No" were 
bent upon murdering them. They opened the Torah scrolls, 
wrapped them around men, women and children, bound 
themselves into Absolute Collectivity and perished silently. 
They never reverted to being "normal." 

THE GHETTO AS THE SUPREME UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT 

Among all the badges of honor ever bestowed 
on men the "yellow patch" is the supreme token. It is not 
a decoration bestowed by academies or governments but by 
an inarticulate suffering humanity, kept in wakeful aware- 
ness of "the sickness unto death of Man/' as Kierkegaard 
called it. The yellow patch is the symbol of the subconscious 
guilt-feeling of the Gentile world. Jew and Gentile carry the 
burden of the yellow patch together. There is no venom on 
the side of the Jew in accepting the yellow patch as a badge 
of honor. It is rather a touching token of Israel's humbleness. 
In all the unspeakable persecutions that would have broken 
any other nation before long the Jew never developed venge- 
ful attitudes. It is a highly controversial issue whether the 
Jew should now lower himself to the level of a panic-stricken 
aggressor. It would be excusable if he were to strike back, 
but there may be superior methods, even more effective, 
which he could use. This raises a question of global interest. 
Most of the movements that stand for social change still fail 
to provide new and superior methods with which to replace 
the inferior reliance on violence, or on mere mechanical 
laws of evolution reputed to bring on change automatically. 
It is the fallacy of the fighters for a better society that they 
battle altogether too much on the level of their foes. But can 
obsolete methods bring about real change? 



64 CHOOSE LIFE 

Two moving sayings may be quoted which show the hu- 
mility of the Jewish people. In an old chronicle (sober 
records kept in many Jewish congregations) it is said: "We 
have refrained from writing down what they have done unto 
the Jews because it would disgrace humankind that has been 
created in the image of God." And a chassidic tenet affirms: 
"The highest is hidden deep down among men. But nobody 
has yet been humble enough to bend down low enough to 
pick it up." 

The ghettos are the supreme expression of man's humility. 
They are the supreme expression, too, of man's glory, radiat- 
ing like the underground-movements and the resistance- 
movements. The ghettos in their utter depravity preserved a 
spark of the Adam Kadmon, Man at the moment of original 
creation. Like kings in rags the Jews walked through the 
abysmal poverty and drudgery of the Yiddische Gasse. They 
presented a majestic dignity amidst all the hopeless despair, 
of which they could see no end. The ghetto-Jews remained 
sages and philosophers in spite of crushing labor. After a 
day's work which would have left others a wreck, they came 
out with unbroken vigor and took up the study of the pro- 
fundity of profundities. They sharpened their minds into 
steel-hard swords. Their mental power, handed over to 
each following generation, delighted in meeting the highest 
problems. In the dreary cold of the ghetto they generated a 
warmth for the cold hearts of all of mankind. They created a 
strange language, a mixture of their holy tongue and of 
mediaeval German, a language in which each word vibrates 
with pathetic life. These people behind the ghetto-walls 
brought up their children and their children's children as 
types so spiritualized, so transparent to the Divine Light, 
that it has no parallel in history. Their dark eyes were like 
windows into the abysses of creation. And in the dirty sad 
streets of the ghetto one could hear these people laugh heart- 
fully. Nothing could subdue their sense of humor. The su- 
periority of their irony rose to explosive power; their wit 
could kill. And in the ramshackle houses they transfigured 



65 Normalization 

their misery into radiant beauty when the Sabbath came. 
(" Kol pinoth ha bajith jisrachu jashiru" every little nook 
in the house begins to glitter and to shine Bialik). 

RATHER THE "SUPER-GHETTO" THAN NORMALCY 

Far from being merely a locus of depravity 
the ghettos have been store-houses of man's maximal capaci- 
ties. They were more profound than the esoteric societies, 
contained more truth than all the mystery-cults. They were 
the persistent avant-gardes of all underground movements 
from the Roman catacombs to the modern resistance fighters. 
They were the oasis in the deserts of normalcy. Although the 
ghettos, the exile of all the outcasts, must be forever abol- 
ished, yet as long as truth has to live underground it is better 
to preserve it there instead of suffocating it in the puddles 
of normalcy. Why have great men so often vanished into 
secrecy? Like Lao Tse. And like Socrates who could have es- 
caped from prison, but who preferred to drink the cup of 
hemlock. And Shakespeare who proclaimed in his spiritual 
testament The Tempest that he drowned his book in the 
fathomless depths of the sea. And Rembrandt, when he sub- 
merged himself in the Amsterdam Ghetto. And Moses, who 
vanished in the kiss of God, his grave unknown. And the men 
of the kiddush ha shem, and the men of the Warsaw Ghetto, 
did they submit to normalcy? No! They firmly established 
truth in a potential super-ghetto, not a dreary place of op- 
pression, but an exodus by free will from the flatlands of 
dullness and pusillanimity into the sphere where Israel is free. 
Can Zionism show the way? 

NORMALIZATION A GREAT BARRIER TO ZIONISM 

Zionism is one of the pioneer-movements of 
our time, the great hope for an end of the exile of Israel. 
Bringing Israel to Zion, to the eternal root of all things, is 
the stark Biblical incentive, the distant goal of Israel's wan- 
dering through the ages. In modern scientific terminology: 
emergent evolution is reaching a higher "integration level/' 



66 CHOOSE LIFE 

There are levels which are "autonomous" to disintegration, 
levels which are blocked downwards. Structures, "Gestalten" 
as Gestalt psychology would say, which become "wholes," 
acquire a unity, thus preventing them from disintegrating 
into parts. Or in the form of a metaphor an imaginary 
house which, once it stands finished, can never be wrecked 
again, never be broken up again into the bricks of which it 
was built. Zion is this indestructible house. Genuine Zionism 
is the direct opposite of normalization. We define Zionism 
best by its anti-normalization trend. It is tragic confusion 
when Zionism is likened to normalization and a longing for 
security. 

Zionism is not a charitable institution for settling Jews in 
Palestine. The mighty enthusiasm which could carry Is- 
rael to the heights of Zion must not be diluted into mere 
political bargaining and petitioning. The normalcy-security 
confusion drags Zionism into the weak position of arguing 
about the correct interpretation of hypocritical diplomatic 
documents, of priority rights, historical claims, and to lobby- 
ing with conflicting interest groups. Trust in meetings of 
statesmen, conference-tables, guarantees or treaties has been 
thoroughly discredited. The normalizationist wants to have 
his share and to participate in institutions that before long 
will be bankrupt altogether. He does not realize that he is 
loading Israel's priceless treasures on a sinking boat. He 
looks enviously at outworn patterns of civilizations that are 
already on their way out. But Zionism should take its stand 
at the outpost of today's avant-gardes. 

TRUE ZIONISM STIRS UP THE PROBLEM OF GLOBAL CHANGE 

Like the Jew Eretz Israel is in the very focus 
of the global revolution. The Jewish claim on the land of the 
Jews is part and parcel of mankind's global transformation. 
Hoping to remain outside of the clash of the giants is an in- 
fantile dream. Because the Jew does not occupy his proper 
place in the global metamorphosis the land that ultimately 
is his own creation has to struggle so hard for its proper place. 



67 Normalization 

The strong metaphysical attachment of Eretz Israel to the 
Jewish people much more exclusive than the attachment of 
the Jewish people to Eretz Israel is not a problem sep- 
arated from the global crisis; it is in the very center of this 
crisis. And since no solution is discernible in the present 
chaotic plight of man, a longing emerges for a global ascent 
to a higher plane. True Zionism pioneered into this higher 
plane and got a first glimpse of this holy land. 

ON POWER-FREE EFFICIENCY 

The mountain climber on dizzy heights can- 
not afford to do what the pedestrian can do in the streets, 
namely, to make a step even slightly wrong. So with the Jew. 
One wrong step, a step backward may spell disaster. Even to 
look back may be fatal. Lot's wife, turning her head back to 
look at Sodom in flames, was transformed into a pillar of 
salt. In other words, the mere looking backward at the per- 
version going up in flames, means a relapse from the level 
of a living organism to the state of inorganic matter, to salt. 
The normalization-zionist looks back at the debris of a so- 
ciety which is lifeless. Why look back at these burning 
ruins? 

A profound Jewish tenet may give us a clue. It says: the 
higher a system the more powerless it is. This is an indica- 
tion of the deep antagonism between standing high and be- 
ing powerful. The Holy is void of power because power 
is demoniac. Modern physics has eliminated the quality of 
force or power from our conception of nature, replacing it by 
changes in the structure of a many-dimensional space. This 
new void-of-power universe has a profound relationship to 
the Jewish vision of creation. That the world is "created" 
implies that the world is not a reality in itself. The world is 
a system of relations, it is relative through and through. Cre- 
ation and relativity belong together. A contemporary physi- 
cist once described the electrons as "holes in nothing." The 
implication of such visions of modern physics for buttressing 
the Jewish axiom of the "creation out of nothing" (jesh me 



68 CHOOSE LIFE 

ajin) is obvious. There is ultimately no "power" in nature, 
and its demoniac character has its origin in man's perver- 
sion. The demonized nature is man's nightmare. 

The power-urge, and, on the other hand, satisfaction with 
getting some morsels from the table of the nations prevents 
the use of the invincible weapons enshrined in Zionism. 

PALESTINE HAS BEEN CREATED AS "ERETZ ISRAEL" 

To advocate "the normal people" means to 
abandon the Jewish belief in a higher efficiency than political 
pressure. The punishment the Jew has to take is inflicted on 
him by his own logic. He wanted normalcy. And now that 
he has gotten it he has to accept the consequences too. For it 
is an established axiom of normality that Israel is an outcast 
and should not be admitted into the respectable society of 
the normals. So what is there to bewail? Yet in spite of the 
findings of research committees and authorities on "interna- 
tional law," "Palestine" will remain Eretz Israel. Palestine 
never can "become" Eretz Israel, because it is and always was 
Eretz Israel. If it were not Eretz Israel, the land would be 
only one more poverty-stricken insignificant oriental neigh- 
borhood. "It will spill out its inhabitants," as the Scriptures 
say. Eretz Israel is a Jewish creation, a Biblical creation and 
nothing but that. It will be the land of the Jews even if not 
more than ten Jews inhabit it. And even if these last ten 
Jews were driven out, the land would still be Eretz Israel. 

THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE OF HOMELESSNESS 

"The home" of Israel this is almost a con- 
tradiction in terms, for did not Israel's homelessness become 
a global pattern? In a world seething and reeling in home- 
lessness an appalling challenge to the "home" has come from 
the ever increasing homelessness of vast masses. Where is the 
"home" of the migrating displaced millions of people? 
What is the home of colonialized nations under "protector- 
ates," or "mandates," or in Empires? What is the home of 
colonialized natives who are aliens in their own country? 



69 Normalization 

What is the home of the untouchables In India? What is the 
home of people living in crowded slums or under "housing 
shortages," which some interest groups try to perpetuate? 
What is the home of the colored people in the South who 
are not even allowed to ride in the same street-car with 
the white people? What is the home of the millions all over 
the lands who live in ramshackle huts? What is the home of 
the underdog? And if some people contend that, in all its mis- 
ery it is still "their" homeland, what do they really mean by 
"their"? What is the home of any pariah, of the daring ones 
who do not keep their mouths shut, the righteous ones who 
do not say: am I my brother's keeper?, the audacious ones 
who are not afraid to stick their necks out? What of those who 
do not conform with the established order of vested interest, 
the resistors, the social reformers, the radicals, the men 
with bold rebellious ideas, the great teachers of Man, the 
disgusted, the fiery enthusiast, the rebellious thinkers, the 
great lovers, the impatient and the indignant, the despairing 
and the most hated and feared those who see through the 
big lie and call the bluff? Where is their "home"? The ever 
increasing mass of the homeless may find out they are "Is- 
raelites." The homeless may be the seeds for a reborn man- 
kind. 

NOBODY is "SAFE" NOW 

A negro spiritual goes: "There is no hiding 
place down here." Home state justice culture treaties 
they are no longer undeniable "human rights" they have 
become empty shells. But they may be restored. These rights 
have now become the objects of the global revolution. 

In the atomic ages the lands may be deserts and the home 
caves. This is the prophecy of the Torah (Deut. 28). There 
is no escape from the global conflict. No groups will find a 
hiding place where it will be "safe." Nor can the Jew ex- 
pect that his plight will be given just consideration. Zion- 
ism must be a challenge, but must not beg for favors from 
power-groups. Political Zionism needs boldness. It must not 



70 CHOOSE LIFE 

forget the fact which is actually a chance that Eretz Israel 
occupies a central position in the clashing of tremendous 
powers, of powers that rise and powers that decline. Palestine 
is today and has always been a pawn in the hands of 
powers that revolve around her.. She is the hub of the wheel 
of history. She has seen these powers crumble to dust in 
the course of history. The "center of the world" does not 
derive its strength from guarantees, charters or bargaining, 
but from the fact that it is at the heart of world-conflicts. 
Seen from this center the powers and their conflicts are laid 
open. What no normalization-Zionism can ever achieve radi- 
cal zionism can: to rise to the heights of a key-position from 
which to act, a position where "power" is no longer neces- 
sary. 

THERE IS NO WAY DOWN FROM ZION 

"Everybody was born in Zion.", This key- 
axiom of human rights may give us a clue to a better under- 
standing of genuine Zionism. "The Torah that emanates 
from Zion" teaches us that everyone has his roots in Zion. 
Nobody, nobody at all, is without this eternal root. A place 
is provided for each of us, and so is a goal. All ideologies 
which deny this axiom deny Man. Zion is that plane where 
our eternal roots live together in peace. Only on that plane of 
an ultimate togetherness of men can Man be "at home," never 
on a lower plane. The togetherness of men is the absolute 
presupposition for home, security, freedom and life. None 
of these goals can be attained on a lower level than Zion. 
The light from Zion cannot be brought down to the level of 
the "normals," to the paganistic way of life. The nations 
must ascend to Zion, where the doors are wide-open for 
them. Zionism is always an Alijah, an ascent, in the pro- 
foundest sense of the word; it is no missionary act. And the 
right to live in Zion is not a favor to be bestowed by govern- 
ments or politicians. To accept Zion as a gift from them 
would mean to replace Zionism by a fake. 



7i Normalization 

THE INVENTION OF THE CITY 

There are not several Zions. Zion is ab- 
solutely unique. Zion's singularity is its very significance. The 
word Zion is a singular which has no plural. There is no 
Zion in the conceptions of other cultures or nations in any 
period of history. The attempts to copy Zion may confuse 
the issue of Zion's uniqueness, but none of these imitations 
has the faintest resemblance to the original. We misunder- 
stand what Zion really is when we compare it with other 
holy places, shrines, temples, with religious Utopias like the 
City of God in the Christian conception, or with esoteric 
havens of mystical philosophies. 

First of all: Zion is conceived as a city. A city is not merely 
a conglomeration of people, different from a village only in 
degrees. Not even enormous chaotic masses of people, as in 
Babylon, can make a place a genuine city. A city is an as- 
sembly of people founded and based on a philosophy. Gen- 
uine cities are the milestones on the roads of advancing man- 
kind. The most decisive steps in historic evolution have been 
made in the cities, not in the country. Zion stands for the 
invention of the city. 

But did we not have cities that reached the status of a 
Zion-city? Athens, Mecca, Benares, Paris, New York, Mos- 
cow, Llassa? They are promises but not fulfillments. Mecca 
is a shrine, a pilgrim's goal. So is Benares. A holy place, but 
holy to a rather superstitious belief. Tibet's Llassa is an 
esoteric isle, a cloister. Athens rose to the level of a symbolic 
city, but was not able to stay on that level for a long while. 
The same is true of Paris, the city of the French revolution. 
In our days Moscow has emerged as a symbolic city. But 
its message has still to reach a crystallization above the mili- 
tant stage of its evolution. New York has a new vision of life. 
The skyscraper city dares to be a genuine city in clear distinc- 
tion to country-life, and it does this more than any other 
city. It is the completely antirural city, the epitome of detach- 
ment from the "soil." Here the last remnants of pastoral life 



72 CHOOSE LIFE 

are gone. Compared with New York even London is like a 
big village, and Paris is idyllic. The city of the melting-pot 
has applied its industrial scientific philosophy to the point 
even of melting the so-called "races." Yet the message of this 
technicalized city has not crystallized and can certainly not 
make the claim to be a "Zion." None of the cities can. 

ANTI-ZION: ROME 

But what about Rome? No other city stands 
so firmly for a philosophy, none is and ever was so distinctly 
a focused city. However, Rome is the eternal antagonist to 
Zion. Rome and Jerusalem, this is the supreme controversy 
of history, an "Either-Or" controversy splendidly represented 
by Moses Hess in his book, Rome and Jerusalem. An old 
commentary declares: Bilaam, the magician, whom king 
Balak had called upon to curse Israel, was almost as great 
as Moses, but in the realm of satanic destruction. So is 
Rome. Rome, the symbolic city of the gospel of force, of 
conquest, of imperialism, of a police-law, based on contempt 
for man. Rome, the eternal city of totalitarianism, thriving 
only on its mission to be the "Anti-Zion." 

ZION A VISION THAT STANDS ALONE 

"The Name is there/' (ha shem shamah) 
(Ezek. 48,35). With these words Ezekiel ends his prophecies, 
It is one of those majestic sayings which has set us on the 
right path towards a better understanding of the uniqueness 
of Zion. This path will lead us to a point where we will find 
the most advanced insights and will bring us to the further- 
most front-position of our time. This path is exceedingly 
steep. But no effort is too great for this vertical way, even if 
we were unable to make more than a few steps in this direc- 
tion. 

"The Name is there" does not indicate the presence of 
God in the same way as in other religions. "He is there" must 
not be interpreted as is done In the services and prayers of 
the churches, or in the miracles of the Holy Mass, or in cere- 



73 Normalization 

monies in temples, or in the ecstasy o the mystics. The ex- 
periences of the prophets, of the great Jews, of the Zaddikim 
in Chassidism or of the Kabbalists are all totally different 
from the subjective experiences of mediaeval ecstatic saints. 
Jewish ecstasy is free from subjectivity. It does not submerge 
in the Divinity, it does not mortify the flesh, nor the mind, 
nor the soul. The Jewish elevation is father a super-objec- 
tivity, a "clairvoyance/* which makes spirit and matter trans- 
parent, seeing all things in their true reality. Jewish ecstasy 
is not self-centered but an act of deepest love, an ultra-radical 
affirmation. What is reality? There is only one reality, not 
two or many, according to Jewish teachings. The Name or as 
inappropriate Bible-translations say: God, or Lord, or the 
Eternal means in the correct interpretation of the orig- 
inal word rather "The Real One." Or: He who endows with 
Reality. The Jews do not utter the Name. Reality therefore 
is in the frame of Jewish thought the most holy word, the 
keystone of the cupola of language. If this highest word de- 
teriorates the whole cupola of language collapses. 

The presence of the Absolute Reality of the Name in Zion 
means a concrete presence, not merely a spiritual presence as 
in other ever so sincere attitudes or in ever so beautiful 
church services. When the first Temple was consecrated by 
Solomon the Bible comments: The presence of God per- 
vaded the Temple with such intensity there was no room left 
where the priests could stand. This almost materialistic de- 
scription is a most precise expression of Biblical concrete- 
ness. The presence of the Name in Zion occurs in a concrete 
place amidst a concrete life in its everyday's concrete activi- 
ties. Not only in moments of elevation. It occurs amidst hu- 
man beings and not amidst saints. It is said: "He who dwells 
in their midst in all their impurity." 

The presence of the Name in Zion means change. But not 
only partial change inside the given situation; it means total 
change. The presence of the Name makes Zion unique. The 
Name is coming as a revolutionary storm. 



74 CHOOSE LIFE 



THE HEBRAIC REVOLUTION 



The Jew must not attempt to dodge when he 
is called a revolutionist. Israel is indeed a revolutionary 
force. And to live in Zion, where the Name re-names all 
things, clearly means to accept revolutionary change. Though 
the Jew should stand for this truth, he is not responsible for 
any revolution other than the Jewish revolution. This does 
not mean camouflaging "revolution." Jewish revolution is 
clearly determined, but must be understood in its own terms. 
This change, brought about by the inroads of Absolute 
Reality into fictitious "reality" is not only change on the 
psychological level. It is in philosophical terminology "on- 
tologicar change. By such a change not only the condition of 
a given situation is affected, but the very roots of existence 
proper; for it challenges the meaning of existence as such. It 
is "eternity in action." The Jewish revolution restores the 
original dynamics of creation, which in itself is dynamic 
growth, man's never ending transcendence of himself. Revo- 
lution and transcendence are very much akin. The equation: 
transcendence-revolution may restore both terms to their 
fullest efficacy; it is a mutual revaluation. It is a step towards 
integration of eternity and revolution. It removes from 
eternity the connotation of a paralyzing stasis, of mortifica- 
tion and other-wordliness, of neglecting the needs of this 
world. It removes from revolution the connotation of sub- 
versiveness and turmoil. Revolution is coming of age as an 
integral part of historical progress. Revolution was recog- 
nized as a regular tool of politics by the Founding Fathers of 
America, anchored in the Declaration of Independence and 
in the American Constitution. In this country the revolu- 
tionary dynamics of the Bible were instrumental, as in many 
great moments of history, when man made a leap forward. 
(We shall study this enormous efficiency of the Hebraic 
revolution later in this treatise.) 



75 Normalization 

THE ABSENT GOD AND THE CALL FOR REBELLION 

"He is there," but He can also be absent 
from Zion. Reality may descend on Zion with so overwhelm- 
ing a clarity that all things are intensified and elevated to 
their ultimate significance and burst like seeds into blossom- 
ing. But reality can also be absent. Then things sink down 
into dullness, become specters. It was always quite compre- 
hensible to the Jew that things can be mere spooks, whereas 
the pagan dullness is blind to this basic truth. True reality is 
not necessarily inherent in the "given" situation. Muddling 
up "given" and "real" is one of the many disastrous fallacies 
of normalcy. It is fetishism of so-called "facts." Franz Kafka 
in his clairvoyant novels pictures a world where God is ab- 
sent. These masterpieces are sometimes misinterpreted as 
the visions of a pessimist. But Kafka, deeply imbued with 
Jewishness, was very much aware that God can be manifest 
in his absence as well as in his presence. The world is now 
as a kabbalistic word calls it the world of the shells, aban- 
doned by the Divine Light. But even their horrible empti- 
ness woefully cries out the original glory of the world. The 
deserted shells still show God's footprints. It is just as if a 
beloved person had passed away and each chair, each tiny 
thing of his daily use, still tells of the beloved who has gone. 
Our world of facts cries out what it is not, what it is not any 
longer. But the outcry of despair is also the outcry of rebel- 
lion. The absent God is the God of the rebels. 

THE CITY OF TOTALITY 

"Rebellion" against what? Against nothing- 
ness! And the fortress against nothingness is Zion. This is its 
true significance. In Zion no life is possible without the 
Name. The maximal demand on life, to be righteous, is 
never suspended for a fraction of a moment. The slightest 
offense against the Name would mean death. Outside of 
Zion the ultimate demand is suspended to a certain degree 
and people can live on reprieve. Outside of Zion death is 



76 CHOOSE LIFE 

pended, as it were. In Zion the choice between right and 
wrong cannot be postponed. The ultimate decision cannot 
be delayed. God, going in the midst of the people might 
"consume'' them, i they were to waver and to try to sus- 
pend truth. But what is truth? There is no truth independ- 
ent of righteousness. In a corrupted society truth is corrupted 
too. Where genuine community is absent reality is absent 
too, and the people live in a spook-world. But in Zion no 
compromise is possible, not even provisionally. In Zion is 
peace. Peace is not the point at which all motions stop; peace 
is perfection, and perfection is totality. A society split into 
hostile classes and camps has no totality, no peace, no real- 
ity. It is a chimera when the Name does not guide its way of 
life. The No-society cannot have truth, nor can it know 
truth. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" 
(Hosea 4,6). True Zionism is a declaration of war against 
that perversion. The social perversion is the paramount per- 
version. The capital of the Jews is the metropolis of Social 
Justice. 

THE NEW ABSOLUTE LANGUAGE 

The tyranny of normalism compels us to 
translate Israel's words into normalcy-slang. Restoring the 
genuine language of Israel would produce a revelation. The 
words we are using are adapted to the plane of our present 
life, where reality and unreality are intermixed. Our speech 
speaks to a murderous world, to fictions, perversions, escapes, 
social cruelties. In a way we are speechless. We cannot but 
lie. Yet we may redeem our words and show their true mean- 
ing by translating them into a "holy" language, into a lan- 
guage that really speaks, communicates and can be answered. 
Such " translation" is an almost superhuman task. It would 
transform our minds more profoundly than many political 
revolutions. 

Jewish philosophy is, to a high degree, a language-philos- 
ophy. To live means, as Judaism sees it, to speak. We ad- 
dress, we get an answer. The speaking soul is the open soul. 



77 Normalization 

The Biblical language is "open" beyond any comparison. 
The words of the Holy Scriptures swing out beyond them- 
selves into infinite life. None of them loses itself in dead 
things. But we, living on the plane of dead things, are mute. 
Here we touch on the difficulty of translating the Bible. 
Whenever a language for the first time encountered the Bi- 
ble, a transmutation of that language occurred. All languages 
gave " translations," none an ''equation." None ever reached 
the plane of the original. Talmud, Kabbalah., Midrash (the 
ancient interpretations of the Holy Scriptures) are also gi- 
gantic attempts at a language-revolution. Each essential Jew- 
ish word is a breaking away from normalism. A "normal- 
ized" Israel is a mute Israel. 



7 8 



4 

PETRIFICATION: De-vitalizing Judaism 



THE TORAH OF THE JEWS IS A VERTICAL WAY 

A saying is attributed to the apocryphal au- 
thor of the Zohar, the Bible of the Kabbalah. "It is time to 
work for the sake of the Name., for they have abandoned the 
Holy Torah, which will die if not continually enhanced." So, 
it is not enough to hand down Israel's tradition from one 
generation to the other like a precious piece of jewelry, in- 
herited as a priceless possession. It is beyond doubt that or- 
thodox Judaism was best fitted to hand over "the "Golden 
Chain of Tradition." No Jewish group cultivated more ef- 
fectively the paramount demand for Jewish learning; none 
stuck more lovingly to the people; none tried harder to keep 
the Jewish ritual in all its rigorous consequences. The limits 
of the orthodox way are understandable if the magnitude of 
the task is fully realized. Its limitations cannot be compared 
with the disastrous fallacies of assimilation, liberalization, 
normalization. Criticism of the dangers of the orthodox way 
must be focused on the danger envisaged in the Zoharitic 
tenet. It is the lack of a continued enhancement of the 
Torah. This weakness of traditionalism devitalizes the Torah 
and must end in the petrification of Judaism. The Torah is a 
way, not a catechism. A way through history. The Torah is the 
vertical way. 



79 Petrification 

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE ARE ONE 

The danger of traditionalism is: forgetting 
that no continuity is possible without change, just as, vice 
versa, no change is possible without continuity. Change alone 
would break up evolution into innumerable disconnected 
moments. It would never put one stone upon the other. It 
would never create "cumulative" tradition. The past is not 
only discarded dross, and the previous moments are not like 
out-dated timetables. On the other hand, continuity alone, 
without change is paralysis. Life needs the actual moment, 
the unique moment, which is always new and will never be 
repeated. "God never does a thing twice/' is a chassidic 
tenet. The actual unique moment is divine. What has never 
happened twice and what never happened before and what 
never changes in aeons, these three are one great unity. Eter- 
nity can be in the moment. Eternity needs the moment just 
as the moment must be laden with eternity. But eternity 
meets ever new situations. And the emergence of genuine 
novelties is a result of the very dynamic of eternity. Just as 
the very same sun promotes the change from bud to blossom 
and to the ripe fruit, so the Torah is the most dynamic force 
promoting historical evolution. It is ultimately the challenge 
of the Torah which stimulated the great social revolutions. 

THE GOLDEN CHAIN IS UNBROKEN, BUT 

The problem of continuity and change is a 
hen-egg problem. But there is not a "first comes." Just as 
hen and egg are an inseparable unity, so are continuity 
and change. In forgetting this truth Jewish tradition becomes 
petrified, and our great anxieties in this frightful moment in 
history are not comforted. And how can the trembling soul 
of modern man still cling to a faith that leaves him in the 
lurch? His cry for help remains unanswered. Yet there is an 
answer, a mighty answer waiting to be heard by Man. 

The Jewish tradition, in its present state, conceives Israel 
predominantly as a religion. And using this Gentile concep- 



8o CHOOSE LIFE 

tion religion, of course, leads to a dead end, into which all 
the religions are driven by the modern challenge. They have 
no answer to oiler to the challenge of science, which forces 
the religions into the anti-scientific camp. They have no an- 
swer to the psychological challenge, which represents the re- 
ligions as compensations for frailties and psychoses. They 
have no answer to the challenge, which indicts the religions 
as covering up social injustice and as escapes from social 
change. The religions react to the sociological analysis with 
bewildered embarrassment. No advice is given on how to 
face the demands of a life changed from top to bottom by the 
technological revolutions. Preaching and clerical admoni- 
tions have utterly failed. People flock to new and bold move- 
ments, where new answers are tried out. Estrangement from 
institutionalized religion is the consequence. Petrification 
kills the tradition, which is by no means an ever repeated 
imitation, but a going ahead on the vertical road. 

THE PROFOUND PROBLEMS OF THE RITUALS NOT STUDIED 

The orthodox and the traditionalist rightly 
stress the decisive importance of the ritual, but they fail to 
"enhance" its profundity. And the difficulties of modern man 
"to keep the ritual" are not studied. No practicable advice 
is given to people living in our machine-age, in the giant 
cities, with new philosophies, with changed psychological be- 
havior, amidst a civilization antagonistic to ritual. The mere 
stubborn insistence on "keeping" the ritual is not enough. 
The failure to harness the dynamic forces of a ritualistic dis- 
cipline in the service of actual life alienates the modern Jew 
from ritual, and the backbone of the people is thus broken. 

NO PERSISTENT COLLECTIVITY WITHOUT A RITUAL 

The dilemma of ritual and the way out is a 
cardinal question of today. The ritual is by no means an ex- 
clusively Jewish affair. But the Jewish ritual is so definitely 
in the very focus of all ritualism that this exceedingly tough 
problem can best be elucidated from the Jewish point of 



8i Petriftcation 

view. The ritual is at the center of all group-efficiency, and 
where it decays the cohesion of the group is lost. It is not 
enough to make a group cohere by moral convictions, by the 
inner voice of conscience, by ideologies, by routine services 
or by repeating liturgies. This can not lastingly hold a group 
together. That is why people like to join movements which 
have a ritual. For people long for the togetherness of men, 
and rightly so, but they know that the brotherhood of men 
will remain a sweet dream without the specific efficiency of 
ritual. Here lies the secret of the strength in churches, or in 
religions like Buddhism, Brahanism, Taoism, Islam. Here 
is a key to the fascination of the communist movements, and 
the key too for the attraction of fascism, which has usurped 
the power of ritualism for its purposes. Here is the explana- 
tion why liberalistic ways of life are so easily outdone by a 
ritualistic conduct of life. 

A clarification of fictitious rituals is needed. To penetrate 
into the core of ritual we must do away with heaps of rubbish 
that block our way. Just as Madame Curie did, dissolving 
tons of ore to extricate a tiny grain of radium. But this tiny 
grain which remained was "radium/* it was the inner secret 
of the material universe. 

TRUTH CANNOT BE "PROTECTED," AND IT NEEDS NO 

PROTECTION 

With deepest devotion the Jew has tried to 
protect this "radium" of action, this holy fire that would 
weld men together into unity. But his loving care over- 
reached itself. The Jew decided to surround the inner sanc- 
tum of divine practice with a fence (geder). These "fence- 
laws" were not originally prescripts of the Holy Scriptures. 
They were derived as implications of the original concep- 
tions. They were intended merely to keep men away from 
the first steps towards transgressions of the divine discipline. 
But the fence finally instead of protecting the garden 
blocked the access to it. The divine laws were submerged in 
the fence-laws. And with the ever-increasing resistance 



82 CHOOSE LIFE 

against the frustrations caused by the fence-laws the knowl- 
edge of the profound meaning of the ritual was lost. 

A comparison may elucidate this issue: "To protect" peace 
we create mighty organizations; we map out a network of 
treaties; we build up gigantic "defense" machines. We even 
prepare for war in safeguarding peace. We may even go into 
a "protective" war against war. It is obvious that all these 
measures have nothing to do with peace as peace. None of 
these safeguards are means for building up peace construc- 
tively. They are only negatively concerned with peace and 
eventually work against peace. The same is true of all meas- 
ures for safeguarding ritual. These precautions are not posi- 
tive ritual forces; ultimately they are frustrations of the very 
purpose of the ritual. This purpose of disciplining man as 
an indivisible whole is replaced by putting man into a strait 
jacket which either stifles his free initiative or furnishes in- 
sincere pretexts for dodging the Divine discipline. 

The root of this fallacy is to be found in the un-Jewish con- 
ception of "protection." The best fortification of the ritual 
would be the production of tangible results in the form of a 
disciplined life free from frustrations. 

RITUAL ACTIONS ARE NOT "SYMBOLIC" ACTIONS 

The misconception of ritual as a strait- 
jacket has caused the other misunderstanding that the ritual 
commandments (the so-called chukirri) are Divine command- 
ments, to be obeyed without explanation. But this is not the 
original meaning of the Jewish ritual which was lost and was 
replaced by the fallacious interpretation of ritual actions as 
symbolic actions. 

True action aims at Man and not at a symbol. Symbolic 
action may be a substitute the aim of which is to escape ac- 
tion. The more symbols the less true actions. The more sym- 
bols the less love for men. The churches from West to East 
are crowded with symbols. The stop-mankind movement is 
permeated with symbolic actions. For it is its purpose to sub- 
stitute action by magical performances, such as parades, in- 



83 Petrification 

cantations, hysterical outcries in place of truth, fireworks in 
place of food. Symbols make reality turn into pictures. Sym- 
bols create images, images of realities, images of actions. To 
the Jewish Torah the image is the arch-enemy. The God 
of the First Commandment, the God who delivers Man from 
the house of servitude, is also the God who proclaims the ma- 
jestic commandment not to make any image. "Thou shalt 
not make any image" is the Magna Charta of Mankind. 

THE STORY OF "lX> AMl" AND "LO RUCHAMAH" 

A Biblical warning against symbolic actions is 
the story of Hosea (Chapter i). And God spoke to Hosea: 
"Go take unto thee a harlot as thy wife and beget chil- 
dren with her. And call their names: Lo Ami (not my peo- 
ple), and Lo Ruchamah (I shall have no mercy), for cor- 
rupted is the land/' Was Hosea asked to give a symbolic 
performance? Was he asked to teach the people by "pictorial 
education?*' The Biblical language in its harsh clarity never 
leaves any ambiguity as to what it wants to say. The uncon- 
ditional devotion of his entire life is what is demanded of 
Hosea. Not only a fraction of his person is involved, but all 
of it. It is not a symbolic spectacle from which he can go 
home after the performance. His action is irreversible. The 
Hosea story is directed against the seducements of mere sym- 
bolic actions. It is meant to make him * 'understand. 1 ' No- 
body can understand but with his full life. He who experi- 
ences with the totality of his person, including his bodily life, 
understands understanding. This happened to Job too. Only 
he who fully understands is entitled to teach others. 

The Hosea story is a protest against the temptation to 
replace action by images. The Torah of the Jews teaches 
imageless action. Hosea is, he himself, what he "represents." 
Who of us dares to say that he really is what he represents. 
Are not our actions all too often mere symbolic actions? Do 
we not live in a spookworld of images, which act as substi- 
tutes for the world of truth? Are we purged from the fixa- 
tions on subhuman brute forces? Do we not offer human be- 



84 CHOOSE LIFE 

ings as sacrifices to unrealities? And do the sufferings and 
the corruption of the land vibrate in the whole of our per- 
sonality, in every fibre of the body? Are we Lo Ami and Lo 
Ruchamah? Or do we only talk about them? 

THE RITUAL AIMS AT GIVING MAN A NEW BODY 

The ritual aims at Man-Total. It does not at- 
tempt to discipline one or another of our faculties, it disci- 
plines the indivisible whole of our life and our personality. 
And in doing so it changes all the "parts" that belong to this 
whole. There is no total life that does not include our bodily 
life. When St. Paul discarded our entire bodily person as 
"flesh," as weak and wicked, he did so because he had given 
up all hope of transfiguring the body into purity. Conse- 
quently he dropped the ritual. He kept only half of our per- 
sonality, the soul. He did not realize that he had lowered the 
soul to a bodiless specter. The Jewish ritual never gave up 
hope of transfiguring body as well as soul. And why give up 
that hope? The human body is no less miraculous and mean- 
ingful than the soul. The human body is not "flesh," but is 
the key to all the living structures in the universe. And our 
soul is not only pure spirit, but has its frailties, fears and ir- 
rational fixations. The discipline of ritual is a method of 
purification, of making our body transparent to the light 
from higher levels of organic life. It is as the ritual sees it 
by no means a matter of indifference what we eat, of what 
material our body is built up. It is a misunderstanding to 
think that ritual food-restrictions are only vestiges of obso- 
lete hygienic rules. These food-rituals have no medical im- 
plications whatsoever. (We will have to study their signif- 
icance later.) 

The ritual is a training. The Jewish ritual aims at build- 
ing up a "ritual body," which replaces the "flesh." The body 
of the animal is "flesh." The human body is in a way "arti- 
ficial/* the result of a ritual breeding-method. The ritual 
body is no longer a natural body, but an ethical body. It 
would indeed border on the impossible to act ethically 



85 Petrification 

against an obstructing body. If mind and body go in opposite 
directions, both will be defeated. To repress our body, to 
mortify the flesh may produce neuroses rather than salutary 
results. But the mind-body unity may bring us the desired 
solution. The great promise of the new science "psychoso- 
matics" is the idea of the indivisible unity of mind and body. 
The ritual aims at making an end to the body-mind dualism, 
which keeps man subject to helpless frustrations. This goal 
cannot be reached by mere noble intentions. It needs rather 
a training that goes down to the roots of both our mental 
and bodily life. Judaism was always conscious of the basic 
truth that without ritual-practice the finest ideologies pale 
into sheer dreams. Yet the guardians of the ritual neglected 
to develop the enormous dynamics of the ritual as a discipline 
for modern man. They preserved a mummy. They "pro- 
tected," but they did not blow into a flame the holy sparks. 
What they had protected was eventually cold ashes. A living 
ritual is a paramount need of the progressive forces in our 
time. This longing for a ritual is a most revolutionary trend 
in the people's mind. It is the true counteraction to the dis- 
integration of man's creative faculties. It is the counter- 
trend to inertia that refuses to accept serious responsibilities. 
To these pioneers of true modernity discipline is not antag- 
onistic to freedom, but the basic condition of freedom. Free- 
dom is not license. 

WANTED: A NEW TALMUD OF THE HEBRAIC REVOLUTION 

Ritualistic attitudes will be found only where 
determined change goes on. Periods where the stream of his- 
torical evolution flows more sluggishly have little ritualistic 
interest. It is a telling insight that the methods inherent in 
the rituals are also the techniques of quite daring modern 
trends. These methods are mimicked by retrogressive move- 
ments, the efficiency of them being rooted in such stolen 
ideas. Yet the relation of these antagonistic applications 
of the ritual is like that of white and of black magic. 
Fortunately black magic destroys itself quickly. To restore 



86 CHOOSE LIFE 

the efficiency of the ritual a long research is needed and a 
reconstruction of an authoritative body like the ancient San- 
hedrin. To overcome the petrification of the Jewish tradi- 
tion and to rekindle the Torah-fire, the Jew will have to 
undertake a continuation of the Talmud right now. The 
tremendous discussion of centuries called the Talmud is still 
being studied, but it is not extended. The perpetual, ever- 
renewed integration of the Jewish tradition with each new 
actual situation is suspended. There is no focused, organized 
controversy on the basic issues of Judiasm, only scattered 
incidental polemics. The cohesion of Israel's mental life is 
at a low ebb. But a Talmudic logic has to be applied to the 
enormous problems our time is confronted with. 

Talmudic logic is amazingly akin to the advancing logic 
that is pioneering today into new realms of mental power. 
The new logic is breaking away from the classical logic of 
Aristotle, undisputed up to our time. It is a change similar 
to the breaking away of Einsteinian physics from Newtonian 
physics, or of modern mathematics from the classical Euclid- 
ian geometry. Classical logic may be compared to a fisher- 
man's net that lets most of the fish slip through its meshes. 
Modern logic is a tight-knit net which catches a much greater 
variety of the oceanic wealth. Modern logic is aware, and 
Talmudic logic for centuries was aware of the inexhaustible 
variety of facts and events that should not be allowed to 
slip through the meshes of the logical net. Advanced logic 
and Talmudic logic are adapted to a "pluralistic universe," 
as William James called it. Talmudic logic penetrates right 
into all concrete situations, never going around them. In 
Talmudic logic we find applied logic and general logic (sin- 
gularities and generalities) in a most effective integration; 
the single and the general are united. 

A new Talmud would have to embrace the actual trans- 
formation of mankind and would have to apply the Tal- 
mudic methods to the events that change our mind and our 
conduct of life. That is what the Talmudic controversy did 
down the ages. And now it must be done again. 



87 Petrification 

THE ROAD FROM "TABOO TO KOSHER*' 

Some reflections on ancient rituals may pro- 
vide us with methods for saving the ritual from petrification. 
It is obvious that many of the prohibitions concerning food 
and the preparation of food, sex regulations, mental habits 
remind us of "taboo" rules as developed in the totemistic 
age and preserved in tribal institutions. A great book of our 
time, Freud's Totem and Tabu, has shown the kinship of the 
totem taboo attitudes with the neurotic behavior. The neu- 
rotic relapses into those archaic and infantile attitudes. If 
this is so, it would in turn discredit the taboo ritual. Yet 
there is also another side to this relation between taboo and 
neurosis. We certainly have advanced beyond the totem- 
taboo age. But totemistic behavior was certainly superior to 
previous stages. If totemism is "infantile," then the previous 
stages were "embryonic," humankind still unborn. The to- 
temistic revolution brought an end to hundred of thousands 
of years of prehistoric conditions under which no progress 
or maturing of man was yet evident. These ages seemed to be 
without change, almost paralyzed. Man was submerged in 
nature, like the embryo in the mother's womb. Man was 
overwhelmed by nature, utterly powerless, in a kind of pre- 
natal state. There was no free ethical action yet, no inten- 
tional planning of man's future. Man felt completely one 
with nature, identical with nature. "Animistic" man envis- 
aged all things as animated, like the embryo that knows only 
of a living environment. This early stage was still a pre- 
human stage. Totemism brought a tremendous change. One 
of the greatest jumps that the human mind ever made was 
from the animistic identification which says: I am a lion I 
am an eagle I am a crocodile to the totemistic emancipa- 
tion which says: the lion the eagle the crocodile are my 
"ancestors" (mythological ancestors). Totemism established 
a cleavage between animal and Man. It liquidated the "fu- 
sion" and established the confrontation of Man and animal. 
Before that step was made no higher evolution was feasible. 



88 CHOOSE LIFE 

And Totemism did more. Totemism differentiated an un- 
differentiated human species into groups, tribes, according 
to their "totems," and who in turn set up "sex-taboos" for 
these clans. The "law of exogamy" has restrained totemistic 
mankind from sexual intercouse within the same clan. The 
lion-tribe might take wives from the elephant-tribe, but 
never a wife from their own tribe. Trespassers of the ex- 
ogamic law were killed mercilessly. The law of exogamy 
aims at breaking down one of the mightiest barriers against 
the emergence of Man the incest-barrier. The enigma of 
Totemism can be explained as an uprising of the genius of 
humanity, breaking through the barriers of pre-historic pa- 
ralysis, which obstructed man's higher evolution. 

Our relations to totemistic rites is therefore not merely 
an atavism, a relapse or a hangover from infantile behavior. 
Totemism was Man's first emancipation from the bondage 
of nature. However, the totemistic revolution remained en- 
tirely inside of prehistoric magic. It was the first rumbling of 
the revolution against bondage. It reminds us, somewhat, of 
the attitudes of modern revolutionists who try to transform 
society by methods that are intrinsically the methods of the 
society they are attacking. The very methods for bringing 
about change remained unchanged. But the step from the 
totemistic taboos to the restrictions of "kashrut" was a genu- 
ine change. It was the leap from magical purification to 
ethical purification. The ritual became a mere tool in the 
service of man's ethical evolution. 

FROM THE TOTEMISTIC REVOLUTION TO THE BIBLICAL 

REVOLUTION 

This is the most decisive advance Man has 
m ade so far. It is the determined wrench from the world 
of nature to the world of Man. Israel waged the war against 
mythology, against the gods, the war that was to be carried 
on from generation to generation. Israel's God is a "warrior" 
(ish milchamah) against the forces of darkness. Israel turned 
magic action into ethical action. The ritual fortified the steep 



89 Petrification 

ascent and blocked the downward path. Prehistory ended. 
History began. In terms of ritual, the totemistic magical rites 
were transformed into the purity-ritual, into methods for 
eliminating from Man, the animal-features that pull Man 
down heavily. An enormous amount of evolutionary dross 
was cast out. A more transparent Man arose magnificently 
over the "promiscuous intermixture of the jungle" (J.J. 
Bachofen). The Biblical ritual forced evolution into a one- 
way direction, blocking all retrogressions. Discarding and 
discarding the tumah, the deadly impurities, and emancipat- 
ing the tahorot, the human purities, into independent auton- 
omy. Man was emerging. * 

THE SWINE 

The process of Man's emancipation from his 
state of slavery, and the entrenchment of Man above the 
state of ever recurring disintegration is far from being 
achieved. Therefore, it would be shortsighted to believe 
that the ritual has done its "job" and is not needed any 
longer. The incest-barrier is still powerfully potent, although 
in sublimated form. Patterns of animal behavior are still 
discernible in human behavior. A great number of animal- 
characters may slumber in us for a while, but often they 
awake to dreadful life. The relation of Man and animal is 
a topic of the ritual just as it is a topic of science. 

The animals are in a way chained in us. There are re- 
lations between our inner organs, animals, diseases and 
mental attitudes. The first step away from the animal oc- 
curred when the totem magicians invented the mask, most 
amazing achievement. Masks, representing animal physiog- 
nomies, were used in wild dances which mimicked animals. 
These mimicked animals were regarded as diseases, each dis- 
ease corresponding to an animal. This was the magic way of 
confronting Man and animal, and many animal-taboos de- 
veloped from those rites. 

The Biblical ritual rose to a higher conception in differ- 
entiating between pure and impure animals. Impure ani- 



go CHOOSE LIFE 

mals were not found fit for building up our material life, 
for building up the human body. This must not be under- 
stood in terms of physiological chemistry, but in terms of rev- 
olutionary emancipation from prehistoric fixations to the 
substructure. Did not man still in Sodomitic times consider 
himself an equal to the animal? 

The Mosaic separation of pure animals from impure ani- 
mals wisely stated that no animal is "impure" in itself. "To 
ye, men, they are impure! 3 "Even the swine (chasir=to re- 
cur) will come back in messianic times." It was an animal 
sacred to the typhonic and hellish forces. The swine does 
not belong in the hum^n sphere. Nor do many other animals, 
including some species of fish. And so it is emphatically 
stated with the blood of all the animals. There are animals 
too demoniac, too wild, too oversexualized, too far from 
Man to be allowed to enter the human sphere. These rules 
of evolutionary purity are stupendous plans for a conscious 
policy of evolution. It remains further to develop and to 
carry out these plans: a task of enormous magnitude, because 
it demands mobilizing the entire apparatus of the sciences. It 
demands application of the results of research in prehistory, 
anthropology, biology, psychology and the entire group of 
social sciences. The restored dynamics of ritual as a higher 
discipline for building up Israel may very well end the dead- 
lock of petrification. Mighty ascents on the vertical way will 
be made. But the swine will be left behind and will not 
come back before messianic times. 

HEREDITY IS NOT AN INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIER 

There is a mighty dam that stems the floods 
of evolutionary change it is heredity. Heredity is a perpet- 
uating force, the conservative trend of life. This barrier 
seems- to be almost insurmountable, For biology has its 
doubts whether new abilities acquired in our individual life- 
time are hereditary. If this is so, the channels through which 
new faculties could flow into life would be blocked. Where, 
then, are the pathways of evolution? Is environmental change 



gi Petrification 

ineffective? Or effective only in a weak and slow way? This 
depends on the intensity of the change. If change touches an 
organism superficially only, the hereditary resistance may be 
far superior. But if change is total change, a profound change 
of environment, a "holistic" change, then the limits of 
hereditary resistance may have been reached. Change seems 
to take place not so much on the narrow hereditary path 
from individual to individual, but rather along the avenue 
that traverses the "whole." 

Here is the explanation why a genuine ritual aims at our 
basic urges, eating, sexuality, the whole rhythm of life. 
True ritual also aims at a mental discipline that penetrates 
into our bodily life. It promotes group-actions which throw 
the individual off the beaten path. It does not shrink back 
from transforming our elementary instinct, the propagation 
instinct. And, like dance music stimulates unusual bodily 
movements, so the ritual superimposes a new rhythm to the 
accustomed march of life. 

The Jewish ritual is exceedingly rigorous, but it is a con- 
structive rigor. It is not only an individual discipline but is 
outspokenly collective. It is not merely personal nor is it 
a symbolic performance. Neither is it a "yoga" like the rit- 
uals of Brahmanism and other religions of the Far East. 
The difference is that no mortification of the flesh or of the 
soul can be found in the ritual of Biblical optimism. It is a 
rigorous discipline of optimism. It is to use a Puritan 
word a "relentless benevolence," superior, though not an- 
tagonistic, to the conservative forces of heredity. If the Jew 
would undertake to free the ritual discipline from its present 
frustrating narrowness, he might reach unparalleled heights 
and pave the way for all mankind towards the vertical ascent. 

ON THE FUTILITY OF CURSING ISRAEL 

Why did the great Biblical magician Bileam 
fail to curse Israel? First, he tried to find IsraeFs vulnerable 
spots. He tested two: superstition and sexual perversity. But 
there was none. No magic, no submission to fate, no sexual 



g2 CHOOSE LIFE 

perversion. Israel was not vulnerable on that ground. To 
maintain this invulnerability is one of the purposes of the 
ritual. It has been most successful. The individual Jew may 
all too often be superstitious, idolatrous, disintegrated by 
perversions, but the genius of Israel remains sane. As it was 
said: "Israel as a people never agreed upon falsehood." The 
genius of Israel is still free from neurosis, escape-mecha- 
nisms, superstitions, confusion, and from the perversions of 
sexuality with all its consequences. The lonely Jew, whose 
"soul is uprooted from the people" is as if dead, a prey to 
putrefaction. 

There is nothing wrong with sexuality as such, nothing 
wrong with our emotions and instincts in themselves. But 
these quite genuine functions of our personality are dis- 
located from their genuine places, like a fire which burns 
down the house instead of heating it. The fire is good under 
the boiler, but in itself it is neither good nor bad. Emotions 
have their role: they unlock the colorful variety of the world. 
Without the emotions the world would be dull and cold. So 
sexuality too has to fulfill a function: propagation. If our 
emotional faculties are thwarted, they will avenge them- 
selves in mental and psychological disturbances. 

It is good to develop these faculties to their maximum ca- 
pacity, but then they must be integrated into the whole of 
our personality. The greater and more perfect the heating- 
system of a building is, the mightier is the fire we can build. 
When the fire is harnessed to serve us, it cannot destroy. The 
stronger our human totality, the better can the fire of sexual- 
ity be harnessed. 

THE MIGRATION OF SEXUALITY 

The Jewish ritual prevented a free roaming 
of sexuality. It channeled the almost untameable forces of 
propagation into the superior framework of the human 
structure, superior, because the forces of propagation are 
mere forces of nature, inconsiderate of the individual and 
the higher human goals. To the forces of propagation the 



93 Petrification 

individual human person is only a germ, a grain of pollen. 
The human person is dropped when the goal of propaga- 
tion has been reached. Israel most effectively started on the 
road o the subordination of the sex forces to genuine hu- 
man goals and their integration into the whole of the human 
structure, like the fire under the boiler. No other ritual suc- 
ceeded in doing so, nor did the educator, the psychologist, or 
the politician. All of them failed. Whether mortification was 
tried, or suppression, or complete release of sexuality, every- 
thing failed, because they could not offer a heating-system 
big and strong enough to harness this raging fire. The vari- 
ous devices which they offered were only tiny stoves, melt- 
ing away like tin in a furnace-fire. 

Infinitely greater fortification of the human totality is 
needed to absorb safely the flames of nature's sex-fire. Israel 
does not lay claim to having completed that work. But Isra- 
el's verticality will reach the goal. 

Sexuality was dethroned by the Biblical revolutions and 
was forced to migrate. Man was emancipated from being 
a mere sperm for guaranteeing propagation. A division was 
established between the human sphere and the realm of the 
sex forces. But could not this subordinated sexuality break 
out again into a destructive fire? The most vulnerable spot 
in Man where the breaking-through could occur is the in- 
cest-urge, where sexuality circles back into itself like a boom- 
erang. Sex-urges spiraling back into themselves may not be 
harmful to the animal, which need not to pursue higher goals 
than the maintenance of propagation. But Man caught in 
this spiraling cyclone could never have swung outwards, 
above himself to higher stages of evolution. The incest- 
urge would have deprived him of his faculty for transcend- 
ing himself. And it is just this faculty that makes him the 
A dam. 

The Biblical revolution forced sexuality to migrate in 
that very direction which the Biblical plan had envisaged 
namely, the submission of sexuality to the Adam, so that he 
might employ this wild fire for giving warmth to our soul 



94 CHOOSE LIFE 

and mind. The integrated sex-power chained to the human 
structure is like a redeemed sex-power revealing a hidden 
faculty to endow life with a beautiful inner glow. Without 
this glow life is poor in beauty and rhythm. 

A good illustration is the famous epic, The Arabian 
Nights, not clearly enough recognized as the epic of eroti- 
cism. Life, as depicted in this great poem is exuberant with 
'libido," in the Freudian sense of the word. All these stories 
are wide open to psychoanalytical interpretations. They are 
"sublimation" of sexuality. Yet the Jewish way of dealing 
with the sex-forces is not satisfied with a mere sublimation of 
sexuality into poetry or other arts. The Jewish mind has 
always been clearly aware of the dangerous escape-possibil- 
ities and retrogressions offered by the arts. 

Having liberated Man from being a mere means of propa- 
gation and having harnessed the sex-fire to serve Man, the 
ritual fortified Man against reversing the trend of his emerg- 
ing evolution. The incest-urge is such a retrogressive trend, 
stifling the outward-swinging of Man and obstructing the 
transformation of the libido into love. The Biblical revo- 
lution against Man's bondage in nature liberated the great- 
est of all human faculties love; and placed love in the very 
center of the Torah of the Jews. 

THE WAR BETWEEN MILK AND MEAT 

That the ritual is indispensable for preserv- 
ing Israel is certainly true; and the petrification of the ritual 
is deplorable. Yet there are many starting-points for giving 
it a new momentum. For example: the prohibition against 
bringing together milk and meat is by no means inexplica- 
ble; it is a most stimulating thought. This law is not based 
only on the tender sentiment "not to seethe a kid in his 
mother's milk" (Exod. 23,19). It is a law that belongs to 
the wide range of restrictions against the intermixture of 
antagonist orders (Kilajim Levit. 19,19). Milk belongs to 
the sex-system. Meat, which is the muscle of an animal, be- 
longs to the motor-system. It took the biological evolution 



95 Petrification 

hundreds of millions of years to separate the glandular and 
the motor and the nervous systems, in order to give the 
brain-nerve-sensory system its primacy, and the motor sys- 
tem a relative superiority over the glandular system. The 
ritual law not to mix milk and meat follows by knowledge 
or by intuition the course of biological evolution. 

There is in the Scriptures a clear analogy between the 
milk-meat and the linen-wool relation. Here too are the same 
restrictions (Shatnes). Wool and linen are not to be mixed 
in our clothing. Yet they have to be mixed in the garments of 
the High-priest. On his level they are allowed to be woven 
together. There is also an analogy in these relationships to 
the sacrifices of Cain and Abel. "Cain was a tiller of the 
ground and Abel a keeper of sheep. And Cain brought an 
offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel of the firstlings 
of the flock." And God did not accept the sacrifice of the peas- 
ant Cain, but he accepted the sacrifice of the shepherd AbeL 
Cain, the peasant the am ha aretz did not bethink himself 
that the curse of God was still on the ground. But it was dif- 
ferent with the sacrifice of Abel, the contemplative shepherd. 
The Bible is profoundly "nomadic/* Man has become a wan- 
derer. The Bible is the documentation of exodus after exodus 
and of many exiles. The Bible favors the outcasts. Cain, 
the murderer's, redemption is that he is driven to the land 
Nod,, meaning, the restlessness of the city. All his descendants 
are city-dwellers, technicians, inventors. This urban nomad- 
ism is his redemption. The Jewish way of life dislikes the 
am ha aretz, meaning both peasantry and ignorance. There 
are many more such revealing interpretations of the ritual. 

ON THE ABSOLUTENESS OF JEWISH MEMORY 

Tradition is memory. To remember is one of 
the fundamental duties of the Jew. It is looked on as a very 
manly attitude. But memory as conceived by the Jewish peo- 
ple is not a pale reproduction of past events. It is not a shad- 
owy aftermath of bygone times. It is not a sentimental look- 
ing backward. Israel's memory is a mighty action against the 



96 CHOOSE LIFE 

passing away of the "past." Israel's memory overcomes the 
cleaving of time into two parts, past and future, separated 
by a moment, "presence," which is never present, but slips 
from our hands when we try to catch it. "Time" is essen- 
tially and above all "future," as Judaism sees it. And "pres- 
ence" is not in "time" at all. Whatever was real is never past. 
Events may "pass" through short moments of perceptions 
and vanish again from immediate perception. But they may 
be utterly present, with highest intensity in the consciousness 
of Israel. Memory, as the Jewish tradition understands it, is 
eternal presence perpetuating whatever has happened to Is- 
rael into an undying reality. In each moment on the vertical 
road all the steps on the way are present. Memory is the 
omnipresence of all moments of Jeshurun's way. Tradition 
is memory. But a living tradition is a "cumulative" tradition. 
It is like the building of a temple by laying stone on stone. 
Throwing bricks around aimlessly will not build a house. 
Memory prevents life from relapsing again and again into 
lower forms. But nothing would be achieved by a memory 
that retains only ghostlike copies of bygone events, for such 
pale reproductions have a very short life and fade away 
quickly. The absolute memory of Israel is a revolutionary 
change in Man's conception of time. "The past" is no more 
the time that has gone. Time, in this new conception is not 
comparable to the downward movement of a waterfall. 

If events have really "passed," they never have really been 
in time. Events which occur in real history, not in fictitious 
history, remain "present." Past is not a regular function of 
the time-process. It is a disease of the time-process. Or a se- 
cretion of dead stuff which cannot be assimilated in the 
creative evolution of time. Israel's memory reversed the time- 
process from a downward trend of forgetting into an upward 
trend of creative perpetuation. Time ceased to be the expres- 
sion of perishableness. Time became future. Because Israel 
connected all actions and experiences of its history with 
the future, Israel was able to keep all the events "present." 
(The student of modern physics will think of entropic and 



97 Petrification 

possible extropic processes; of irreversible process, of the re- 
lation of past and future in the Einsteinian world and its 
challenge to the idea of simultaneity. And he will be amazed 
by the kinship between Jewish thought and modern science.) 

THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS ARE NOT DAYS OF MEMORIAL, THEY 

ARE CALLS FOR ACTION 

But, what is worthwhile preserving? The be- 
lief that "history is bunk" shows clearly the difference be- 
tween Jewish and general history. Perhaps indeed quite a 
number of historical events are bunk, and all the Days of 
Memorial and of Festivals could not keep these events alive. 
Not so the cycle of the Jewish year. The holy days of the 
Jewish year are days of solemn vows for action. If the petri- 
fication of the Jewish tradition left these days often dull and 
meaningless, or reduced them to sentimental routine, it is 
because these days have been deprived of their true vocation: 
to be action-days, mobilization-days of the genuine Israel, 
days of collective action by Israel, days of assembly, to show 
up for duty. As the Book of the Judges has it: "And every- 
one in the camp stood on his place." One can hardly say 
more. 

THE FEARLESS CELEBRATION OF ISRAEL'S HOLY DAYS 

The Holy Days of the Jewish people have no 
chance of surviving other than as Action-Days, Days of 
Wholeness, People's Days. Otherwise they will soon deterio- 
rate into so-called "Yom Kippur piety," a poor leftover from 
ancient greatness. 

The actuality of the Purim festival is only too obvious. It 
is alas the ever threatening attempt of the adversary to de- 
stroy Israel, the ever recurring pogrom. It demands that the 
Jews be shrewd like the serpent to counteract the Hamans of 
all ages and be firmly unyielding to a false mildness which 
undermines the veracity of mildness. Destroy the destruc- 
tion! 

And is it not true that the images of the kings and the 



98 CHOOSE LIFE 

tyrants have desecrated the holy places of mankind down 
the centuries? Why then not kindle the candles of Chanukah 
as a vow to cleanse the holy places from the symbols of slav- 
ery? Why then not place the Chanukah candles at each win- 
dow to demonstrate against the images of violence. 

And is it not true that most men the world over are still 
living in slums, tents, and huts, and that this is still the nor- 
mal situation? Where is there any warranty given for solid 
houses and for solid ground? May not the atomic fire turn 
the cultivated ground again into a desert? Why not look to 
the modest huts and tents where humaneness has taken ref- 
uge? Why not realize clearly and proclaim boldly that from 
the huts and tents and the wanderers in the desert rescue 
will come? Why not give up the illusions that help will come 
from the palaces, the mansions, the offices, the bank-for- 
tresses? Why not make the "feast of the booths" (Sukkoth) a 
festival of the message of the huts, and bring it to the aware- 
ness of the huts that the momentum is with them. 

And is it not true that truth is not simply "given" or "re- 
vealed" to Man, but that it has also to be accepted. But 
are we ready to accept it? When the Torah was given to the 
Jews they pledged with a trembling heart their readiness 
to the absolute voice addressing them. They did not fail 
when their hour of destiny had come. How immortally great 
was Israel then! Why not accept the truth when truth con- 
fronts us? Why not make the festival of revelation a day of 
collective vow to exchange the passive soul for a ready soul. 

The community of Israel is not like an "organization" or 
a "church" or a "nation." Israel must be assembled in an 
ever-renewed free decision. The day which is called "the 
head of the year" (rosh ha shanah) is Israel's assembly- 
day. It is not a simple "new year's day," not a mere mark in 
the calendar. It is the day when the shofar calls upon the 
Jews to assemble and, like men in arms, take again the oath 
of allegiance to the One True Reality. This is the day when 
Israel enthrones again the reign of truth and righteousness 
and sweeps the usurper off the throne. "He is the King and 



99 Petrification 

nobody else." Though there are many things that have dig- 
nity and usefulness yet there is nothing, nothing whatsoever 
to kneel before. The great assembly-day to acclaim again 
the Name, is also the day of declaration of Man's autonomy. 
It is the day for the Declaration of Independence from all 
power assumed by men over their fellow-men. 

CELEBRATING THE ORIGINAL REVOLUTION 

Where the Jew is there is Pharaoh. Pharaoh 
needs the "NO" of the Jew and that is why he never lets the 
Jew go. The Exodus from Egypt describes Man's historical 
destiny. Man is a nomad, an eternal wanderer. The "eternal 
Jew" is eternal Man, a very human man, that is all. Man has 
never been "at home" yet. There is something problematic 
about the so-called "settled" situation. Settled for what? 
Time and again human affairs run into dead ends, into vi- 
cious circles, spiraling into perdition. Time and again civili- 
zations destroy themselves, destroy each other and nothing 
remains but sad ruins. War is still normal with man. 

The Exodus of the Jews from the house of slavery is the 
exodus from a world spinning in vicious circles. The history 
of the Jews is a series of such exoduses. The long wandering 
started with the first Jew, Abraham and continues through 
the millennia until today a panic-stricken mankind is rapidly 
becoming a shifting mass. 

But the exodus of the Jews from civilization to civilization 
is not merely a geographical migration, but stages on Isra- 
el's vertical way. Every time it has meant breaking away 
from a certain pattern of culture, from a religious system, 
from a social system, from ways of life that were become ob- 
solete. Exodus is the most determined form of revolution, 
signifying abandonment of a given condition and not merely 
modifying it. Exodus always means reaching a higher plane 
of evolution. 

When Israel left Egypt, the "house of serfdom," it made a 
step the magnitude of which has not fully been recognized 
even yet. It liquidated the magical world of the images. The 



1OO CHOOSE LIFE 



Images are the real slaveholders that keep Man in bondage. 
It is "pictorial thought" that stifles genuine thinking (as we 
shall soon see). Most important to realize is this: the exodus 
of the Jews from Egypt is the original pattern for all the rev- 
olutions in history. The Jewish exodus is the first Pariah- 
rebellion that inaugurated revolutionary action. It is not 
only the first, but it is the most fundamental revolution, 
because it is inseparably tied together with the majestic God 
of Jewish monotheism as the leader of this revolution. The 
God of the Bible proclaims Himself as the God who delivers 
Man from slavery. So it is said in the first of the Ten Com- 
mandments. The Biblical revolution is the granite founda- 
tion of all higher evolution: it is Man's hope. 

The seder-meal should not be celebrated as a mere token 
of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The answer to the famous 
question in the Pesach Haggadah: "What does this service 
mean to us?" is: "It happened to me" It is ours, our exodus. 
What happened then happens today to us. But what precisely 
is it that happens to us today? It would not suffice to compare 
the exodus from Egypt with the end of Jewish history in Ger- 
many. After all, the exodus from Egypt did not end in ex- 
termination camps. It does not suffice to look at the exodus 
in terms of mere generalities, as a liberation from tyranny. 
We have to be more specific. The exodus from Egypt was a 
revolution against an imposing system of life which lasted 
many centuries. It was an act of transcending the world of 
images, an action specifically hitting at the roots of human 
fallacies which had persisted through enormous stretches of 
time. 

To make Pesach an "Action-Day'* the Jew has to make great 
efforts at concentrated thinking and exploring. He must 
find out specifically to walk out from what and to leave 
what? He must find out specifically the mental attitudes 
that keep mankind from making the inevitable next steps in 
evolution. He must find out what the psychological attitudes 
are by which man is frustrated and what the causes are for 
today's global neurosis and where the social corruption lies 



ioi Petrification 

which Is driving mankind rapidly into a cataclysm. After 
arriving at the precise diagnosis the Seder must proclaim the 
New Exodus. 

THE KEY-WORD OF LANGUAGE 

Only once a year the High-Priest entered the 
Holy of Holies in the Solomonic Temple. He called out the 
Name of God, otherwise never uttered by the Jew. Now 
the Name is silent. The performance of the High-Priest at 
that unique moment in the Solomonic Temple is replaced 
now by the telling of this story at the Yom Kippur service. 

It is said: "lo sh'mo, bo sh'mo" That means: "Where the 
Name is not manifest there the Name may be hidden in- 
side." And one could add: where the Name is used habitu- 
ally there the Name does not dwell. There are trends in our 
time that have a materialistic or atheistic connotation, yet 
their prof oundest incentives may be genuinely religious. This 
goes for the sciences too. The Name truly dwells therein. 
The Name is the key-word of language. Without it language 
withers away. (The story of the Tower of Babel, Gen. 11.) 

THE LION OF ISRAEL ROARS SEVEN TIMES 

When the High-Priest called out the Name, 
this was considered a most dangerous undertaking. It could 
not be done unless one condition was fulfilled: ethical puri- 
fication. "The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) does not 
atone if men have not restored peace among themselves.' 1 In 
other words: man cannot reach truth without having reached 
justice. Justice is social justice. The less truthful a commu- 
nity, the less communal is truth. No truth on a subhuman 
level! A disintegrating society remains unenlightened. The 
zaddikim, as conceived by the Bible and by Jewish tradition, 
are pure, both ethically and mentally. They are what we 
would call today "integrated personalities." Therefore it 
could be said: "ha zaddikim enam methim," the zaddikim do 
not die. They are free from the putrefaction of death 
(tumah). The vicious person can only apparently proclaim 



102 CHOOSE LIFE 

truth. He thrives on truth illegitimately; he steals and mis- 
uses it, but he can never establish truth. 

The Day of Atonement aims at the unity of our ethical 
and our practical life. The nearer it comes to truth the 
nearer even a scientific theory will gain an ethical signifi- 
cance. An example: Einsteinian physics is much nearer^to 
truth than the pagan mythologies of nature, more scientific 
as we call it. That is why these conceptions of modern science 
can be more easily harmonized with man's ethical purposes 
than most of the older ideas about nature. Too many myth- 
ological elements linger on in those older theories. Modern 
physics depaganizes nature. The gap between science and 
ethical purposes is now bridged here and there. Truth and 
ethics discover their common roots. Such modern trends to- 
ward a profound integration are an inspiring prospect. Out- 
stretched hands from many sides are joining each other. To 
understand the profundity of the end of the Yom Kippur 
service is a great inspiration to a modern soul. Seven times 
the congregation now atoned calls out to mankind the 
mighty truth: "ha Shem hu ha Elohim" "It is the Name 
who is the Elohim:' (Ha Shem is the tetragrammeton, the 
Name consisting of four letters. Elohim represents power.) 
But there is no other power than He. This majestic axiom 
does away with power as such. 

The jichudj the aim of the great atonement, is not a sim- 
ple, common unity. The supreme aim of the Jewish people 
is the restoration of the broken unity between God and the 
manifestation of God in the world. This manifestation is 
called Shechinah, derived from the root "to dwell": to dwell 
in neighborliness. Shechinah is God's dwelling in the world. 
But now the Shechinah is in exile, like Israel. There is no 
home on earth for the Shechinah. The Shechinah is an 
outcast. 

Only after a collective confession of their wrongs may the 
Jews dare proclaim the jichud. And to call out the Unity all 
over the world the Jew seven times raises his lion-voice. 



log Petrification 

THE BIBLE DOES NOT DEMAND "PRAY" BUT "SPEAK" 

Judaism has hardly any individual prayers. 
The Jewish prayer is a collective action, and at least ten peo- 
ple are needed for it. Yet there are a few prayers said by the 
individual Jew, such as the shma (the daily proclamation of 
Israel's basic axiom). But the praying Jew fastens on his 
head and on his arm the tephilin (phylacteries), thus chain- 
ing himself to that principle which integrates the people as 
a whole. During the Sabbath he does not wear the tephilin, 
because the "soul of the Sabbath" (neshamah jeterah) con- 
nects him with the whole people. It is related that 
the Baalshem, the founder of Chassidism, once declined to 
participate in a service of his congregation because "the 
synagogue was full of prayers." But all these prayers, he said, 
were concerned with personal affairs, none of them with 
higher aims concerned with the whole, with the welfare of 
the totality and its intellectual and ethical sanity. 

The Jewish prayer, in its true significance, is a kind of 
super-objective behavior. It turns man inside out, which is 
not the same as making him an "extrovert." The extrovert, 
as well as the introvert, may be merely interested in his pri- 
vate affairs; nor can the extrovert be compared with the 
scientist. The scientist is trying to eliminate his ego as much 
as possible from sober scientific research. The Jewish prayer 
is rather a dialogue between man and that reality, greater 
than man, into which man opens up. It is hard to find a com- 
parison which could illustrate the meaning of this "opening 
up," since no analogy exists in man's natural life. It is an ac- 
tion toward transcending the narrow limits of man's daily 
drudgeries. It is an action for breaking out of the deadly 
loneliness of man. 

If prayer is a dialogue, one can also truly say that a genu- 
ine dialogue is a prayer. Wherever a genuine word is spoken 
from neighbor to neighbor it is more than mere "com- 
munication." Even animals communicate. But an animal 
cannot speak! Even among men there is little enough genu- 



104 CHOOSE LIFE 

ine speech yet. Nobody addresses his fellow-man properly, 
nobody really answers properly. And nobody gets the proper 
answer. Our "speech" is mute. This opening up of man is 
best compared with a scientific term, the so-called "emergent 
evolution/' This means the emergence of novelties which are 
not contained in the lower stages from which they emerge. 
Thus, evolution is not merely an "unfolding" of latent prop- 
erties, but rather continuous creation. The higher forms of 
life are not mere products of the lower forms. Something 
new is always added, which was not in the previous stages. 
This strange faculty of "being open" and of being con- 
fronted with an ever-advancing higher principle that we can 
never overtake is the very essence of human nature. Man is 
the open being. He can answer the challenge. Such objective 
dialogue is the purpose of the Jewish "prayer." Man hears 
"the call" in whatever befalls him. It is the grandeur of 
Man's destiny that he can answer the call and get answers to 
his ultimate questions. 

This may explain why the Bible has so exceedingly little 
emphasis on prayers; prayers in the common sense of the 
word. Prayer is a later product of evolution. After the decay 
of the original "openness" the pre-formulated prayer func- 
tioned as a substitute for the lost immediacy that made 
Abraham, Moses, and the prophets specimens of a genu- 
inely human type. It is said in the Second Book of Moses 
(33, n): "And God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man 
speaks to his neighbor." This is one of the most amazing 
sentences ever written; it is inexhaustible in its revolution- 
ary consequences if fully realized. Here Man is shown at a 
moment when he touches on his ultimate potentiality, a 
moment when the human word reaches the Absolute. This 
unlimited possibility of dialogical openness has begun to 
decay together with the social atomization of Man. Loneli- 
ness has begun to pervade mankind like the chill of death. 
Speech decays into a monologue. 

Since everybody in the Jewish community now literally 
says the same prayers, it is like an afterglow of the original 



1O5 Petrification 

open mind, thus preventing a retrogression to emotional 
subjectivism. As the Jew sees it, the prayer once was a dia- 
logue, was speech. 

THE STREAMLINED REVOLUTION REBIRTH OF LANGUAGE 

The stultification of Jewish life is most obvi- 
ous in the religious services. Prayers often become a mere 
mumbling of words, their significance largely not under- 
stood. More and more the mighty words of the Hebrew 
Scriptures are replaced by words borrowed from other lan- 
guages and so take on a totally different meaning. These 
substitute-words are not expressive of the profundity of the 
Hebrew visions. These "translated" prayers communicate 
German, English, French behavior patterns. They are ex- 
pressions of philosophies very different from Jewish philoso- 
phy. They are adjusted to the needs of the churches and 
often have a connotation which as the Jew sees it is obso- 
lete or downright retrogressive. Eventually these non-Jewish 
connotations are transferred back to the Hebrew text, and 
then even the Hebrew words seem to convey ideas which no 
longer have any Jewish meaning. "To pray" with such words 
is like breathing without air. Such words can only be mum- 
bled. Honest men prefer to be silent. 

If the Jewish prayer is intrinsically speech and even the 
very root of speaking it is obvious where the remedy can be 
found for preventing the decay of prayer. The remedy: re- 
covery of speech, purification of the language, endowing our 
words with a new significance, all of which is known today as 
the "semantic" regeneration. Such rebirth of speech is a 
thorough-going revolution. There is no new life without new 
speech; no significant life without significant words; no 
prayer without words that have regained a new sincere sig- 
nificance; no significant words which are not like prayers. 

The Jewish prayers are majestic, carrying the profoundest 
philosophy. They are studded with powerful words. They 
are incandescent speech. There is no need for giving up any 
of these highest emanations of human greatness, but there 



306 CHOOSE LIFE 

is an urgent need for purging these treasures from distortion 
by the general decay and the intentional corruption of lan- 
guage. The stop-mankind assault has deliberately deprived 
Man of his most human power: speech. Words are skillfully 
tortured just like all the other victims of our time. The 
noblest words are contaminated to such a degree that they 
become loathsome and have no other function than to pro- 
tect privileges. Such words do not really "speak/' and as a 
result Man may become mute. 

To restore the Holy Language a systematic purification is 
needed to strip words of all connotations that communicate 
social corruption, obsolete philosophies, empty cliches, con- 
formist verbiage. The words of the prayers have to be 
cleansed of all metaphysical, mystical significance. Those 
mighty words have to regain their profound social meaning, 
their militant strength and their power to free man. They 
must transform mute Man into Man who truly "speaks." 
Wanted: words with which to address the neighbor, words 
that give a resounding answer. 

THE INVENTION OF PEACE 

The day of Sabbath was always looked on as 
the most typical Jewish day. Barbaric nations did not know 
of a rhythmically recurring day of rest. Rising civilizations 
appropriated this idea from the Jews. No higher civilization 
could exist without this Magna Charta of humaneness. But 
so far none of the cultures has established a true Sabbath. 
The festivals, holidays, Sundays, weekends are often lauda- 
ble relaxations or amusements, often only days of boring 
dullness. None has ever achieved restfulness. How can a state 
of mind which is intrinsically restless find rest? Only a fear- 
less mind knows how to find rest. Where is such a mind? The 
soul of Israel can be deeply restful. It is said that during the 
Sabbath an "additional soul" descends on all of Israel, and 
leaves Israel when the Sabbath ends: the neshamah jeterah y 
the super-soul of Israel-Total. The soul of Israel has been 
restful on every seventh day for thousands of years even 



107 Petrification 

amidst the most terrible persecutions. Israel invented rest. 
Israel invented peace. 

THE ABSOLUTENESS OF THE SABBATH VS THE RELATIVITY 

OF NATURE 

The petrification-process has, alas, not stopped 
short of the Sabbath. There is danger that the many de- 
tailed Sabbath restrictions have covered the sabbatical in- 
spiration with a crust. Prohibitions, i.e., kindling a fire, 
riding in a car, carrying keys or watches, threaten to become 
the main concern of keeping the Sabbath. This day of jubi- 
lant autonomy has often become a day of discomfort. It is 
significant that this greatest of all possible Utopias, the vision 
of rest, is introduced by the Scriptures in connection with the 
work of creation. The "seventh'' day of creation is also the 
day of the "coming back" to the origin of creation. (Iden- 
tity of the Hebrew word-roots of "seven" (shevah) and of 
"coming back") (shuv). This means nothing less than 
the determined subordination of nature under the Sabbath. 
No greater relativization of nature is conceivable. A princi- 
ple is here established that overtakes nature. The Hebrew 
text calls the God of creation Elohim. But the highest name 
of God, not uttered by the Jew (the tetragrammeton), is not 
used in the Biblical text before Man's appearance. Some 
Torah commentaries have pointed to the importance of the 
passage in Genesis (2,1) which says that all things in the 
universe were brought to completion and that the things of 
nature reached a rather definite shape. Evolution goes on 
now in Man only. As it is said: The Sabbath of nature has 
come, but the Sabbath of history has not come as yet. The 
Sabbath of history is social perfection and an anticipation of 
real peace. No true celebration of the Sabbath without 
aiming at its ultimate meaning! Nor is the seventh day of 
rest comparable to Sundays, to vacation-days; and it is not 
enough to center this day around abstention-rules. 

The Sabbath sets a limit to work for there are goals supe- 
rior to work. "Production" is not the supreme law. "Busi- 



108 CHOOSE LIFE 

ness" is not paramount, but must be subordinated to human 
considerations. There are no "business ethics." Economic 
purposes are definitely limited by the Sabbath. The Sab- 
bath places the worker firmly above the work. 

There is not true rest yet. There cannot be "inner peace" 
so long as there is no collective peace. No private trick can 
establish private peaceful minds. "Inward peace" may be 
outward escape. The Jewish Sabbath is the ever renewed 
anticipation of the peace to come. On each seventh day for 
thousands of years the Sabbath anticipated "the world to 
come" (olam haba) and each Sabbath light is a spark of the 
original light, set up against the forces of darkness. 

SHALL JEWS LIVE SEPARATED FROM NON-JEWS? 

Now that the four ways to Jewish disaster 
have been analyzed the general denominator of these falla- 
cies is obvious. Assimilation, Liberalization, Normalization, 
Petrification these are the expressions of Jewish minimal- 
ism. They are stifling Israel. After many attempts to counter- 
act Jewish weakness we realize that there is only one way to 
save the Jewish people. It is the road towards Jewish max- 
imalism. Judaism is intrinsically maximalism. Minimal Ju- 
daism is a contradiction in terms. All attempts at dodging or 
of watering down Judaism, all slackening, will end in anni< 
hilation. 

Yet the serious question arises whether a determined Is- 
rael is more exposed to attacks than a frozen Israel, the win- 
try tree, preserving a latent life. A clever and bold decision 
must take into account that the Jews will be attacked any- 
how, no matter what they do. So the Jew is again confronted 
with the old dilemma: Shall the Jewish people and the rest 
of mankind part ways, or are the Jews inseparably tied to 
humanity. But this is not a genuine alternative, as it seems 
to be. The Jew belongs to humanity, as the heart belongs to 
the body. It is only that the fate of the Jew mirrors man- 
kind's deepest conflicts and its highest hopes. Mankind 
needs the Jew, and the Jew is nothing but Man. It is not 



1 09 Pe trification 

the Jew who divorces himself from mankind or who betrays 
universality. It is rather the consistent Jewish universalism 
that challenges nations and churches and sects and parties. 
Israel specializes in universalism. In defining who is a 
Jew a famous saying gives proof of Jewish universalism: "He 
who absolutely refrains from idolatry is called a Jew." But 
who does? 

The solution to the dilemma lies in a better understanding 
of the constructive function of "exodus." An ever new exo- 
dus from man's frailties does not mean divorce but rather 
establishing a higher form of human togetherness. The ver- 
tical way! Not in a general muddle but in a general intensi- 
fication of meaningful life can the Jew best join mankind. 
The avant-garde on all advancing fronts always feels united in 
solidarity. 

Now we are prepared to go the one way open to Israel. It 
is the way of Jewish maximalism. 



Ill 

The Vision of Fullness 

THE ONE WAY THE VERTICAL WAY 



KUMMIJUTH. THE VERTICAL WAY. 
NEITHER A RELIGION, 
NOR A NATION. 



1 

KUMMIJUTH (Leviticus 26, 13) 



ISRAEL IS VISIBLE ONLY FROM WITHIN 

"I have taught ye to walk upright" Upright 
Kummijuth the vertical way is the Divine way, the only 
way left open for Israel and Man. No more crawling, dodg- 
ing, bowing. To represent the Jewish way in ever so noble 
Gentile terms must fail, because it surrenders to a falla- 
cious method. The fallacy here is the deep-rooted prejudice 
that Gentile terminology is universal and the Jewish merely 
sectarian. So far, there is no general all-encompassing view 
which establishes a universal yardstick. Israel can be under- 
stood only in its own terms. Israel can be met nowhere but 
in its own place. It reminds us of those palaces in fairy-tales 
visible only from within but invisible to the onlooker from 
the outside, interiors without exteriors. So Israel is invisible 
from the place where Non-Israel stands. Israel's wisdom is 
not reducible to any other wisdom, however great. Ideas 
about Israel in terms of various philosophies may often be 
inspiring, but they convey amazingly little of Israel's own 
reality. This the Non-Jew must come to realize as well as the 
Jew, for their mutual ultimate restoration of Man-Total. 

THE TORAH OF THE JEWS PROCLAIMS RADICAL AUTONOMY 

FOR ALL, FOR ALL 

The prophets give us only a scanty account 
of their visions of the eternal maximal realities, the "ulti- 
mate realissima" as a later philosopher called it Very few 



114 CHOOSE LIFE 

such visions are recorded in the Bible. The prophets heard 
the thundering threefold "Holy" in praise of God. And they 
heard the voices proclaiming the great secret that later was 
only whispered in the prayers of the Jews: "Blessed be the 
Name of His overwhelming reality (Kabod) from His own 
place" Mimkomo that is from his own place. God is also 
called makom, which means place, because He is the place 
of the world. God amidst the people cannot be realized 
without God. Israel cannot be realized without Israel. This 
is a fundamental Jewish principle. Mimkomo, Kummijuth 
are key-words of Jewish maximalism. The Jewish people 
stands and falls with these principles. 

That everything can be understood only in its own terms 
means that nothing can be "reduced'* to anything that is 
lower than itself. What is higher may be manifest to the 
lower, but it cannot be reduced to the lower. There is an 
upwards swing in all things, which is not reversible. The 
vertical way. What is called "progress" is often shallow and 
transitory. Why is this so? Because true progress is irreversi- 
ble. But what can guarantee the irreversibility of Man's as- 
cent? What can keep our achievements from disintegrating 
again and again and being lost? Where are the secret sources 
of persistence? Where is the secret of the bitter roots of 
death? At Israel's place? 

The insistence that Israel must be met in its own place, 
the insistence on the autonomy of that place where Israel 
stands, is not arrogance or stubbornness. It is rather an act 
of deepest love for all creatures. Israel's inflexible decision 
never to turn back to the stages left behind, in exodus after 
exodus, is by no means a decision made in Israel's interest 
only. A mighty principle has been established that proclaims 
"autonomy for each creature in its own place." Once a 
level is reached, once a step upwards is made, this place be- 
comes autonomous in relation to the lower levels from which 
it emerged. A right of revolution is established for all crea- 
tures, to revolt against any fixations to lower stages from 
which they have ascended. Israel's "verticality," Israel's mim- 



1 15 Kummijuth 

komo is the awareness of a genuine miracle, perhaps the only 
true miracle. It is the awareness that higher stages of evolu- 
tion are not merely combinations of elements from lower 
stages. But these higher stages, once reached, have become 
irreducible to lower stages. 

Let us picture this autonomy as a house we have built of 
simple bricks and lo once this house is built it has ac- 
quired a strange indestructibility; it is no longer only that 
combination of bricks into which it can be broken down 
again. Miraculously it has acquired an indestructible whole- 
ness. 

The principle of autonomy enlarges the theory of evolu- 
tion because it conceives of evolution as a steady process of 
fortification too. Since each evolutionary step can gain au- 
tonomy towards its antecedent, it seems that a possibility for 
indestructibility is dormant in evolution. The proclamation 
of autonomy for all blocks the way downwards. It is a deeply 
Jewish attitude. 

A DREAM VS A NIGHTMARE 

Israel's decision on the irreversible way does 
not spurn the reflections which Jewish thought will have on 
the minds of the nations. Those reactions are highly valu- 
able, like the reflections of the nations on Israel's mind which 
unveil aspects of the nations that otherwise would remain 
unnoticed. This is a mutual influence and highly inspira- 
tional. It calls to mind the ladder Jacob saw in his dream in 
Beth El, God's House. He saw how the way downward and 
upward were interwoven into a unity. He saw the acting 
principles of creation climbing up, for a moment touching 
eternity and descending again to intensify all the stages be- 
low. So Jacob's ladder is not a merry-go-round. There is no 
futile climbing up and then a fall into the depths: Jacob's 
ladder is not the vision of a vicious circle, or of the work of 
Sysiphus, like building up cultures that crumble to dust time 
and again, in wars or in decay. It was not the vision of self- 
destructive economic systems, creating ever greater scarcity 



Il6 CHOOSE LIFE 

the more they could create abundance. It was not the vision 
of a jittery modern soul that stifles growth the more it grows, 
frightened by its own maturing. In the madhouse of the pres- 
ent social anarchy we know only the nightmare of a vicious 
circle, spinning down into perdition. In Beth El Jacob had 
the vision of the affirmative circle, swinging outwards over 
itself and spiraling upwards into perfection. 

REACTIONARY AND REVOLUTIONARY AUTONOMY 

Yet are there are not two autonomies? Is 
autonomy merely the emancipation from all the stages left 
behind, or does autonomy mean "to rule" over the lower 
stages? There is a false autonomy that rules, exploits and 
weighs on the lower spheres. And there is a genuine auton- 
omy that liberates, sublimates and has an upward pull. The 
genuine autonomy is anchored in heights which no pagan 
naturalism is able to reach. Only a system that is anchored 
in dizzy heights, like the revolutionary monotheism of the 
Bible, can guarantee the upsurge of all creatures towards 
perfection. An autonomy that rules is a contradiction in 
terms, an enslaving force. Slaveholders are slaves them- 
selves. Israel's proclamation of the principle of autonomy is 
an overflow of deepest love. The fiery Torah of the Jews 
proclaims autonomy for all ascending creatures. 

"TO THE FIRE FALLS ONLY WHAT WAS ALREADY THE FIRE'S 

BOOTY." (ISAIAH) 

The usurpers of autonomy are challenged 
mightily. It is the axiom of Jewish maximalism as we have 
seen to put up resistance against the downward trends, 
against relapses, retrogressions and escapes. Therefore Jew- 
ish philosophical thought is opposed to all tendencies "re- 
ducing" complex structures, higher organic structures to a 
mere reshuffling of lower "elements." Let us face this issue 
clearly. For example: it was a triumph of science when the 
processes of organic life were explained in terms of chem- 
istry and physics. However, to explain highly complicated 



ii7 Kummijuth 

organic structures in terms of the less complicated organic 
structures was certainly a method of "reduction." Very suo 
cessful as a method of research! But perhaps it reduced only 
what was reducible, and not what was the genuinely higher 
element of the structure. An example (presupposing some 
acquaintance with contemporary science): the tendency "to 
explain" organic life in terms of physics and chemistry has 
to a certain extent been reversed today. Biology now in 
turn is shedding new light on physics and achieving auton- 
omy from physics. Organic life is not only a very complicated 
play of inorganic forces but a primary fact, intrinsic, not 
accidental to the universe. Another example: classical mathe- 
matics was looked on as a special application of logic. Now it 
seems as if there is a specific mathematical kind of thinking, 
which does not completely coincide with the general Aristo- 
telian logic. These specific mathematical conceptions now in 
turn are shedding a new light on logic, transforming ever* 
the old classical logic considerably. Fantastic new possibilities 
of thought are discovered. The hegemony of so-called classi 
cal thought is challenged by this bold criticism. 

We have already pointed to the three outstanding chal- 
lenges: Einstein's extreme mathematization of nature, 
Freud's unmasking of the psychological substructures, Marx's 
unmasking of the superstructures, namely cultures, reli- 
gions, philosophies, the arts and social orders. The entire 
superstructure has proved to be utterly vulnerable, and the 
substructure too is analytically exposed. These three chal- 
lenges the Jew too will have to face. These three most 
prominent manifestations of modern times violently ques- 
tion the legitimacy of a host of superstructures which we 
have accepted for centuries. These challenges have been de- 
nounced as having a Jewish connotation. But their profun- 
dity and modernity have made them quite irresistible. Many 
Jews think that to have made these contributions should suf- 
fice. Why therefore, do we still need an Israel? 



il8 CHOO SE LIFE 

B UX IS THERE YET AN ANSWER TO MANKIND'S 

PERPLEXITY? 

Only a glance at the appalling plight of 
man and the doubt has gone. Mankind is endangered as 
never before. The very survival of man is doubtful now. 
Great as the evolution of modern mind is, yet is it the way 
toward a rebirth of mankind? What really can claim to save 
Man? The advices coming from the official executives of the 
old order of things are shallow. On top of that, these advisers 
are by no means what they pretend to be. Even the scientist 
is not always a scientist; often he is entangled in prescien- 
tific imagery, in childhood imagery and is unable to avert 
the commercialization of science. The superhuman tools de- 
veloped by the scientist are in the hands of an immature 
mankind. Man is panic-stricken, because all exits are 
blocked, except one. This one exit, namely the exit into 
freedom and maturity is wide open. Alas, Man is not ready 
yet to use this exit. Man is haunted by specters, by infantile 
images he fashions out of his soul. Those psychological im- 
ages are repercussions of prenatal life. Man therefore con- 
ceives of his soul as "internality," as a private nook and not 
as an enthusiastic outward swing into the infinite fullness of 
a human world. 

But Man has not yet learned to see through the spook 
and to dispel the nightmare of these images. There is no 
hope for mankind so long as this basic fear is not overcome 
that drives Man mad. There is no meaning in life so long as 
life is not conscious of its ultimate meaning. To save man- 
kind is possible only by pursuing the vertical way which is 
simply the human way. But, it is so radically human that it 
can be achieved only by the maximal solidarity of men. Such 
a maximal solidarity is the meaning of Israel. But what is 
Israel? The precise answer cannot be given in Gentile terms. 



ng Kummijuth 

ISRAEL IS NEITHER A RELIGION NOR A NATION 

The two concepts, "religion" and "nation/* 
are specific patterns of the Gentile world. Both though they 
may be meaningful as such misinterpret Israel and are not 
acceptable for the Jew. What would be the correct interpre- 
tation? 



12O 



2 

ISRAEL IS NEITHER A RELIGION 



THE SCHIZOID RELIGIOUS MIND VS THE UNDIVIDED JEWISH 

MIND 

Religions divide life into two realms. The 
one is the "profane/ 7 the other is the "religious" life. Often 
the two spheres are antagonistic, even to the point of hos- 
tility. Israel stands intransigeantly for undivided life. The 
domain of Holiness encompasses all of life and does not 
leave anything outside. It includes in the realm of Holiness 
the life of our body with all its functions in all their diversi- 
ties. The prophet Zechariah foresees a time when even "the 
cooking pots and the bells of the horses'* will be holy. The 
Jewish attitude towards life is an undivided YES. The Torah 
of the Jews teaches determined optimism. There is no de- 
cided optimism to be found outside of Israel's Torah. The 
Psalms gave mankind an experience of jubilation never 
before experienced. There is not an inkling of "other- 
worldliness" in Israel's faith. To live here, here in this world 
with an incandescent almost unbearable earnestness and so- 
lemnity, this is Jewish. 

That this is a specific Jewish attitude has been somewhat 
obscured, because essential Judaistic elements have perme- 
ated most of the other religions, giving them a kind of Jew- 
ish tinge. The pagan trends in the various religions even- 
tually overcame the Judaistic influx, almost to the point of 



I2i Israel Is Neither a Religion . . . 

drowning it out. However, these religions have thrived on 
the truth which they have taken from Judaism and incorpo- 
rated into their own systems. 

Other religions are predominantly concerned with other- 
worldliness. All of them are permeated with escape- 
tendencies and with minimizing this world. They are not 
free from the pagan fear of living determinedly inside of 
this world. All the religions are populated with metaphysical 
constructions. All are more or less magical religions aiming 
at metaphysical goals to be attained by magical methods. 
Most of the religions pursue mystical ends, mystical unifica- 
tion or a submergence into formless substances. Others crawl 
into the privacy of internality and into spiritualistic aspects 
of life and of the universe. Some with a stronger accent on 
the ethical side of life lack the consistency of dropping the 
pagan shells and admitting what the remaining core is 
namely Judaism. Only a few very great religious geniuses, 
like Kierkegaard, had the courage of such consistency. 

JUDAISM IS INVULNERABLE TO THE OBJECTIONS AGAINST 

RELIGION 

If Israel is not "a religion/' then Israel need 
not worry about modern attacks against religion. If Israel's 
aims are not the aims of the religions, Israel is not concerned 
with today's decline of religion. The withering away of reli- 
gious feelings all over the globe is obvious. Along with Man's 
growing mastery over nature come the most serious objec- 
tions to the religions. The challenges from a triumphant 
modern science remain virtually unanswered. It is valuable 
for the Jew to know these objections and to realize how help- 
less other religions are to give an answer. This will clarify 
why Judaism remains unhurt in these conflicts. 

The clash between science and religion has already come 
to the awareness of the common man. It is petty to contend 
that science after all has limits and that religion begins 
where science ends. This often-used argument overlooks the 
fact that religion then would be in the pitiful position of a 



122 CHOOSE LIFE 

mere ''asylum of ignorance." Religion would be confined to a 
territory that science has not yet conquered. But science is 
advancing almost unresisted. It is also not sufficient to con- 
tend that religion and science are not competitive spheres, 
because the goals of science are entirely different from those 
of religion, and that the one is not a substitute for the other, 
and that faith is not a minor form of knowledge. The point 
at issue is not whether the two compete, but whether they 
contradict each other. An honest and mature mind cannot 
be expected to believe what flatly contradicts science and 
modern thought. An anti-scientific religion may very well 
be a superstitious religion. The religions look today like 
hangovers from pre-scientific ages, for moreover, the philoso- 
phies of the religions cannot adequately cope with our con- 
temporary situation. These philosophies are either derived 
from ancient Greek conceptions, mostly from Platonic, Aris- 
totelian or Neo-Platonic sources, or they are based on con- 
ceptions akin to totemism and animism like the religions of 
the Far East. 

Of late new rapprochements to religion have been coming 
precisely from the furthermost front of science. These ideas 
are still vague and they are sometimes looked upon as rather 
romantic relapses. But certainly all these neo-religious ideas 
are far removed from the premises of the official religions. 
They are more nearly akin to Jewish conceptions of the uni- 
verse and of mankind. 

There is no antagonism between Judaism and science; nor 
has there ever been any. No research and no possible result 
of scientific research can ever hurt or confuse Judaism. Never 
were the Jews afraid of science. The Jewish mind has al- 
ways been a highly scientific mind. Jewish history never had 
a Giordano Bruno burned at the stake, a Galileo threatened 
with torture, never prohibited the progress of astronomy, 
never persecuted grandiose visions like Darwin's. Hostility 
against the sciences is utterly alien to the Jew. The excom- 
munication of Spinoza was not concerned with a scientific 
subject, but with an axiom of Jewish faith. It was a rigor- 



i2g Israel Is Neither a Religion . . . . 

ous controversy over pantheism. There is no friction what- 
soever between science and Jewish faith. There cannot be 
any antagonism because the more science becomes scientific 
the closer will Judaism and science be drawn together. The 
Einsteinian universe is immensely more acceptable to Jewish 
philosophy than previous conceptions, i.e., the universe as a 
machine, or a half-mythological cosmology permeated with 
pictorial thoughts, 

JUDAISM IS FREE FROM NEUROTIC COMPENSATIONS 

The challenge coming from modern psychol- 
ogy finds the religions even more helpless to defend them- 
selves. It becomes only too obvious that religious thinking 
is wishful thinking, projecting hopes and fears into religious 
images. Freud was utterly successful when he pointed to the 
analogy between primitive tribal thinking and neurotic be- 
havior. He has made it clear that our religions are perme- 
ated with neurotic patterns. Father and mother images are 
also projected into religious spheres. Childhood fixations, 
the Oedipus complex, sex-frustrations are instrumental in 
building up religious patterns. But can there still be a 
future for religions, which are built on fear and repressions? 
We are faced with the dilemma: either we pay the price for 
having ethical cultures, the price being the repression of sex- 
urges and the consequent neurosis or we refuse to become 
neurotics and consequently remain barbarians. Religions 
which are so easily analyzable by psychoanalysis cannot show 
us the way out. The only cure for man is to heal his soul so 
radically that no compensations and rationalizations are 
needed any longer. The way out is: a life beyond neurosis. 
A neurosis is the result of wavering, of suspended decision, 
of indetermination between retreating or going forward. 
Said the prophet Eliah (Kings i. 18,21): "How long will 
ye still linger between two ways? And the people did not 
answer." Why did the people not answer? Because at that 
moment there was no focused people. If there is a people, it 
will answer. The resolute determination of Israel to build 



124 CHOOSE LIFE 

up this world carries us beyond the neurotic borderline, 
where no religions of compensations are needed. 

JUSTICE HERE AND NOT IN A HEREAFTER 

Where then is the people ready to go forward 
with such unbridled radicalism? Only where no concept of 
other-worldliness weakens the initiative to establish the per- 
fect world, which is simply the world of a perfect human 
community. And here enters the most fierce challenge to the 
religions: that more or less they belittle our earthly life and 
thus cover up social injustice. Life, then, in religious con- 
ceptions is merely a preparation for the hereafter; this world 
is perishable, a 'Valley of tears," and for "rust and moths/' 
Or it is "Maya," illusion, that should be dispelled by bring- 
ing the "wheel of re-incarnation" to a standstill in "Nir- 
vana." The best way to reach this goal as Hindu wisdom 
sees it is "non-attachment" to any worldly goals, even to 
the noblest. The true aim of a good Christian is "to gather 
treasures in heaven and not on earth." The poor will be 
rewarded in the hereafter, and the last in this world will 
be the first in the next world. Therefore the entire sphere of 
social justice is neglected, or at least lacks determined sup- 
port. Justice is suspended until life in the hereafter. But the 
idea that suffering is a divine punishment as accentuated 
in Christian thought is vehemently rejected in the Book of 
Job. The result of all these attitudes is a devastated world. 
Indifference towards this world is hateful to Judaism. A 
thousand years ago the Jewish philosopher Saadja made it an 
axiom of Jewish thought that justice cannot be suspended; 
it must be done here and now, 

Israel is not one among other religions. It is not true that 
ultimately all religions mean one and the same thing, and 
that Israel is merely one more version of such a universal 
religion, where all creeds join on a common meeting-ground. 
There is hardly anywhere so vehement a disagreement as 
among the various creeds. And none of their ways is Israel's 
way. Israel is not "a religion." 



3 

-NOR IS ISRAEL "A NATION" 



THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A "NATION" 

AND A ''PEOPLE" 

Israel is a people. Clearly the Biblical text 
distinguishes got and am. The word got is not a deprecatory 
word, though sometimes it acquired such a connotation when 
the relations between Jew and Gentile became very strained. 
The Scriptures apply this word to the Jews too. Got means 
also "body," in the sense of the English use of this word for 
"corpse." Got is the nation as a tribal unity. The nations 
have racial characteristics, or at least, they consider them- 
selves as races, however little scientific basis this conception 
may have. The origin of a "people" is not nature, however, 
but a human creation. The nations are proud of their myth- 
ological origin. They derive their existence from gods or 
demi-gods, and they guard the legends of their mythological 
ancestry as a holy legacy. They are descendants of Romulus 
and Remus or of Hengist and Horsa. At the cradles of the 
nations we find hosts of gods and goddesses taking care of the 
nations, sometimes even having fights among themselves for 
the rulership over that nation. Even today there are nations 
that clearly show their totemistic origin. Most of these myth- 
ological gods are obviously deifications of processes in nature, 
often of atmospheric phenomena. This is distinctly so in 
such crude mythology as the German. But we see It also in 
the Greek version. In Hindu and Chinese mythology there 



126 CHOOSE LIFE 

are trends which originated in a demonization of psychologi- 
cal complexes which are mythologized into frightening hosts 
of demons. The Biblical revolution is irreconcilably opposed 
to all forms of mythology. To purge mankind from myth- 
ological thought, even from its most sublime derivatives, is a 
fundamental aim of Judaism. 

ISRAEL IS NOT A TOTEMISTIG AFTERMATH 

"Why do the nations rageT' so asks the psalm- 
ist. Because of their mythological origin is the answer. The 
nations must rage, must make war and hate each other just 
as their gods do. Endless as the brawls, jealousies, intrigues 
of their gods are, so the rage of the nations must be endless 
too. Peace among mythological structures is a contradiction 
in terms. The nations cannot love each other and cannot be 
''united." The political line-up in the mutual annihilation 
may change, but the belief in war is persistent with them. 
The cobweb of treaties worked out by international lawyers 
will certainly not chain the titans of mythology. 

The nations are an aftermath of totemistic tribalism. 
Their heraldic animals still betray their totemistic origin. 
There is even in modern Europe a never-ending rivalry be- 
tween the clans, between a lion clan, an eagle clan, a cock 
clan. They have sachems, witch doctors, magical perform- 
ances and frightened masses obsessed by specters of the 
stone-age. There are still nations who have kings at the helm. 
There are orgies of superstition, of murderous rites and of 
unrestrained perversities. 

Only through the fallacy of normalization could one un- 
dertake to equate nation and people. Israel is not a goi, a 
nation, nor can it ever become a tribal nation. "Groups of 
mythological origin are not really alive" states a profound 
tenet. Israel is not a tribe, but a people that has thrown 
off its tribal eggshells. Says the prophet Jeremiah (2,11): 
"Where is a nation that ever has exchanged its godsT' This 
revolutionary statement proclaims that the God of Israel is 
not a tribal god (as some uninformed commentaries have it), 



127 Nor Is Israel "a Nation" 

but that Israel has extricated itself from all mythology and 
tribalism, 

LANGUAGES ARE NOT CONFINED TO TRIBES, LANGUAGES 

ARE TRANSFERABLE 

But are not nations patterns of cultures? Is it 
not true that each nation represents a specific culture? Is it 
not true that tribal differentiation promoted cultural differ- 
entiation? Totemism was the first step in overcoming the 
primeval uniformity. But later on the cultures were detached 
from their tribal origin. Cultures finally become universal 
patterns. They have their span of life; they do their work 
and die like all living beings. But sometimes they fizzle out 
in mere habits, in folk-songs, costumes or styles of food. 

The highest expressions of cultures are the various lan- 
guages. But languages are transferable. Anybody can learn 
any language. This is a mere educational technicality, and a 
mature civilization will provide a polyglot education for all. 

Most resistant to the dissociation from tribal origin are the 
arts. They are the most national of all cultural functions. 
With the inevitable decline of the mythological and the na- 
tional sub-structures the arts are declining too. This is one of 
the reasons why the arts today are deteriorating into mere 
entertainment. 

ISRAEL IS A FOUNDED PEOPLE 

Israel's roots are entirely in the human world 
and not in nature, for Israel's origin is human and not nat- 
ural. What is not natural is artificial, which is by no means 
inferior to natural, but rather superior. What is man-made 
can be ethical. It is not nature that sets the norm for Israel, 
Man is the norm. Israel long ago discarded what was 
mythological, racial or tribal. Israel is severed from "mother 
nature," like the newly-born is severed from the mother. 
The umbilical cord has been cut and Israel is born. In Israel 
nature is no longer actual; it lives only in the memory of the 
people. It is said when the first Temple was still standing, no 



128 CHOOSE LIFE 

trees or flowers were allowed to grow in its holy region. The 
Temple was elevated above nature, and only the woven orna- 
ments on the curtain before the holy shrine still recalled na- 
ture. Only light surrounded the Temple. One thinks of 
modern textbooks of physics where light remains the sole 
yardstick with which to measure. Light was created in the 
beginning, but before there was light, there was the "word!" 
Light breaks forth from the Divine Word. Light is 
"spoken," so teaches the Bible. 

Israel is the result of a decision, the mightiest decision 
Man ever made, and no other decision can supplant this 
primal decision. Abraham's determination to take up the 
fearsome way through history leading to Man's perfection is 
the birth-moment of the Jewish people. When Abraham 
extricated himself from the corruption that had almost putre- 
fied humanity he saved Man from perdition. The second 
Noah carried Man with him from the darkness of the de- 
clining magical cultures of Chaldea into the radiant light 
of history. A "people" can walk through the fire of history, 
not a tribe, not a church, not a group of saints. This people 
can only be a Founded People. Abraham founded Israel. 

THE BIBLICAL STORIES ARE ULTRA-REAL 

But are not the Biblical stories also mythol- 
ogy? What exactly does this question mean? It obviously 
means: did these stories "really" happen? This, however, is 
not the point at issue. What matters here is the self-testimony 
of the Bible which represents these stories and these persons 
as real. None of the persons in the Bible is represented as a 
god or a demi-god. All of them are described as human be- 
ings with outspoken frailties, failures and sins. All of them 
are fighters against mythology, against idolatry, against 
magic, e.g., Moses takes up the fight against the most power- 
ful system of magic, against Pharaoh, and here was Moses' 
triumphl What matters is the intention of the Biblical rep- 
resentation. That history lives in these persons matters in- 
finitely more than that these people lived in history. The 



isg Nor Is Israel "a Nation" 

Biblical stories are not only "real," they are ultra-real. The 
concern of the Bible is ultra-real life. This made these sto- 
ries paradigmatic for thousands of years and for all nations 
and cultures. They emancipated Man from mythological 
thinking. They did not merely describe, but they created the 
higher types of Man and paved the way to genuine human 
life. 

ABRAHAM AND THE START OF HISTORY 

"He spoke/' "He saw," "He heard," words 
we use so carelessly, are said in the Biblical text with heavi- 
est earnestness. We are told of Jews who trembled when 
they heard these words. If we try to grasp them in their 
Biblical intensity, we are approaching the stage of the "open 
soul." The long stretches of prehistoric times were mute and 
deaf. But Abraham he "heard." What did he "hear"? He 
heard a call. He heard the thundering Divine call: "Walk 
out from the city where ye live, from thy country, from thy 
family. Leave all this behind thee. And follow the way I 
shall lead ye." "Lech lecha" (Gen. 12, i), these unsurpassa- 
ble words no stronger revolutionary call is possible made 
an outcast of Abraham. And Abraham accepted his destiny 
without even a moment's hesitation. He started on the way 
through the thousands of years, and with him the course of 
history started. History is not only a flow of events. History 
is a dramatic evolution with a definite goal. Prior to the 
Biblical revolution there was not and could not be genuine 
history. History could not start without the resolute decision 
to walk out from the frustrations of our prehistoric heritage, 
from the idolatry of the gigantic empires of magic, such as 
Egypt, Assyria or Persia. History inside of magical cultures 
is a contradiction in terms. Even today historical evolution 
is intermixed with much unliquidated magic which slows 
down the process of maturation. The thunder of "lech 
lecha" is the breaking-through of history. 



CHOOSE LIFE 



ABRAHAM SHATTERED THE IDOLS WHEN HE LEFT THE 

HOUSE OF HIS FATHER 

So we are told. Abraham never looked back- 
wards. He did not merely burn his bridges behind him, but 
he smashed the idols before he left, because there can be no 
advancing through history if all the idols of human perver- 
sion along the path of Man remained untouched. The proc- 
ess of history is also a process of purification. And the father 
of the Jewish people knew that his people must also pursue 
this way of purification. 

We have already pointed to the significance of discarding 
what is subhuman. This smashing of the idols is not an act 
of intolerance. It is much more an act of deepest love. The 
Jewish faith is a most benevolent faith. This follows from 
the fundamental Jewish principle of a determined affirma- 
tion of the world. The world! This word means an infinite 
wealth of possibilities, of ways of life, of creatures, of 
thoughts, feelings, views, visions and hopes. The Jew loves 
this inner wealth of the world. The Jew enjoys the colorful 
variety of life. It is just this jubilant optimism, which is so 
genuinely Jewish. This glowing desire to develop all the lim- 
itless possibilities to their utmost perfection has always radi- 
ated from the Jew. But he knows just as well that there is a 
clear limit to tolerance, without which tolerance would de- 
stroy itself. The physician who saves life must also destroy 
life, i.e., bacteria. Would he be a good healer if he esteemed 
men and bacteria equally as living creatures? 

No doubt the danger of arbitrary limits to tolerance is 
enormous. It requires a most exact definition of that limit, 
and this is an exceedingly difficult task. The clarity of Jewish 
thinking offers very precise ideas about it. There are three 
absolute prohibitions: Idolatry. Murder. Perversion. They 
are the absolute limit of all tolerance. To leave the idols 
untouched would mean in the Jewish view to bow to noth- 
ingness. It would allow specters and unrealities to usurp the 
place of reality and so establish the reign of death over Man. 



j^i Nor Is Israel "a Nation" 

But what is death? Death is corruption; it is not only the 
separation of body and soul. Corruption has its deepest roots 
in social corruption. A corrupted society is idolatrous, mur- 
derous, perverted. Therefore the founding of a people de- 
pends on the purification from the corruption that results 
in death. This impurity called tumah is not a mere lack of 
purity, nor something negative, but something very positive 
which must be removed. Abraham's revolutionary deed! 
The Founded People must reach total autonomy from all 
subhuman regions. It must rise even above the disintegration 
which originates in the tumah of death. 

"EEN MASSOL LE JISRAEL" 

"Israel is not under any constellation." There 
are no stars that predestine what will happen to Israel 
(Deut. 4, 19). Israel is not under the necessity of fate. No 
matter how terrific the pressure from the outside, inside of a 
genuine people there is no compulsion. The people must be 
a free collectivity or it is not a people. Israel is the very 
sphere of freedom, even when it is up against mountains of 
opposition. The form into which the people decided to 
crystallize itself was its own free creation, remaining un- 
changed even in chains. When the Warsaw Ghetto was an- 
nihilated the Jews had reached a stage of absolute freedom 
for one moment. In this moment they were probably the 
freest people on earth. And though this was their last mo- 
ment, yet they had actually reached this stage. 

The great tenet: "there is no star that leads Israel/' is a 
proclamation of independence from a state of mind which 
we have called prehistoric, a mental and psychological atti- 
tude still under the spell of nature. Man was frightened; 
he looked at himself as a tiny insignificant part of nature. 
He was not conscious yet that his was the key position in the 
universe. Utter frustration, even paralysis, which he called 
fate, was his normalcy. The founding of the people put an 
end to this paralyzing horror. 



1J2 CHOOSE LIFE 

"CURSED is THE GROUND" 

"Cursed for thy sake" , This Biblical sen- 
tence alone would suffice to revolutionize our life to its deep- 
est roots. It sets the yardstick for our ways of life in 
contradiction to the pagan surrender to the yardsticks of na- 
ture. This sentence rejects all "back-to-nature, back-to-the- 
soil" movements. It unveils the superficiality of romantic 
feelings about tilling the soil. A demonization of the ground 
has taken place and has established a profound hostility be- 
tween the ground and Man. The original basis has been 
} os t ha adamah the human ground, which, as a revealing 
sentence goes, was the paradise. The paradise was the origi- 
nal level, the madriga, of Man. Now the adamah is replaced 
by the soil, which is under the curse of God (Gen. 3 17, 
18, 19 and Gen. 4, 11). 

From this demonic environment Man must be detached. 
His detachment is his rebirth. And to give birth is painful 
from that point on (Gen. 3, 16), as the Biblical text em- 
phasizes. The mother too, "mother nature" from which Man 
is torn away, suffers with Man. The way back to the soil, back 
to nature is not only blocked because it is a way backwards, 
"retrogressive," but because attachment to the soil would re- 
sult in the demonization of Man. Although the peasant's 
work is often glorified, it is by no means superior to indus- 
trial work, and the man behind the plow is not nearer to the 
Absolute than the man behind the conveyor belt. Romantic 
phrases about the tilling of the soil becloud the fact that 
agriculture is progressively more mechanized and will ulti- 
mately be a branch of chemical industry. Romanticization 
of the soil has a backward connotation. The Biblical "cursed 
is the soil" states emphatically that only Man's environment 
is cursed and not Man himself. There was never any curse 
on Man. Man never lost his freedom to turn the demonic 
environment into a paradise again. 



Is Israel "a Nation" 



FAINTED MANKIND 



The twofold character of man's long exist- 
ence on earth confronts us with a picture which has severe 
implications. It is an established fact that mankind has lived 
on earth for many hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps 
for several millions, and that these long stretches of time are, 
as it were, mankind's embryonic life in "mother nature." But 
these early stages, these prehistoric epochs have also a con- 
notation of having been paralyzed, bewitched times, fearful 
stages of enslavement by inimical powers. Could this state of 
paralyzing fears and of magic rites to counteract the demons 
of enslavement be normal? Could chaos be the normal ori- 
gin of Man? 

We have just said that man's madriga was the paradise 
(the Gan-Ederi). The Biblical story of creation teaches that 
the "chaos/' the tohu wa bohu was "on earth." That means 
that the chaos was a later stage of evolution, a catastrophe. 
The chaos cannot be the origin of the universe. The idea 
that chaos was the original state of the world is a typical 
mythological view and is deeply un-Jewish. In the Jewish 
vision a catastrophe has occurred, and we are living now in 
the ruins of the originally Divine world. Here the ways 
part. Is the given situation, in all its misery, the normal real- 
ity? This is the pessimistic view. Or is the given situation 
merely the product of a fundamental catastrophe? This is 
the optimistic view, the Jewish hope, to be able to change 
this situation. For the so-called realistic view it would be 
difficult to look at this seemingly so solid world as a world 
of ruins, deprived of a genuine reality. For the so-called 
sober realist the given set o circumstances is the granite rock 
on which to stand, and he looks at the reality of Israel as a 
lofty dream of idealists, which should be brushed away when 
it comes to what he thinks is "practical" life. 

So the Jewish view sees prehistoric mankind not merely as 
early mankind but as mankind fainted. And it is only with 
the start of historical times that mankind slowly recuperated 



Ig4 CHOOSE LIFE 

from that primordial collapsed state. Compared with the 
enormous stretches of prehistoric times, history began only 
recently. Therefore, all hasty conclusions on the slowness of 
progress are nearsighted. The great Jewish vision has been 
verified by results of modern research which hold that man- 
kind's infancy, which is prehistory, was not very favorable to 
Man. Its uncanny conditions explain many frailties of histor- 
ical man. 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT "iN" US 

It is difficult to understand the fundamental 
axiom of Judaism which contends that we do not live in the 
original reality, but in its ruins. A primordial catastrophe 
has broken and defaced Man. What really happened and 
"when" did it happen? Here we are up against a basic ob- 
stacle in penetrating to the profundity of Judaism. The 
catastrophe we spoke about is not an event which occurred 
at a certain defined moment in time. Nor is it a mystical or 
metaphysical event that happened to the prototype or to the 
archetype of Man. In Biblical terms, the catastrophe hap- 
pened in the relation between God and Man. It is the rela- 
tion that was affected. It was not an event "in" but "be- 
tween." The tenet: "The kingdom of God is in us" is very 
likely a distortion of the original: "The kingdom of God is 
among us." 



THE FALLACY OF THE RELIGIONS 



Here again the ways part. We may look at the 
world as an enormous pile of things, separated from each 
other and each of them an ultimate reality. The great 
thinker, A. N. Whitehead, called this: The fallacy of ab- 
solute individuals." Or we may look at the world as a whole 
and see its inner relationship. Then we would have to talk 
in terms of relations and not of things, a way of thinking 
that is modern as well as Jewish. To think in terms of abso- 
lute individuals absolute individuals are but things is the 
outgrowth of our obsession with acquisitive urges. To think 



i$5 Nor Is Israel ee a Nation" 

in terms of relations is human and paves the way toward the 
solidarity of mankind. 

But hoxv can man ever hope to live up to so superhuman a 
demand as completely transcending himself? The answer 
was given by Israel's monotheism, as taught in the Jewish 
Torah. Its essence is: Man has his center outside himself. 
It is Man's highest potentiality that he can swing over him- 
self, that he can be outside of himself. To this highest hu- 
man faculty the primordial catastrophe occurred. It was not 
an event like the battle of Waterloo; nor was it an event in a 
metaphysical sphere. From then on, whatever we have done 
or experienced has been and is under the spell of that paraly- 
sis which befell mankind. The world has become an eerie 
world, and our acts run in vicious circles. 

To state it as a parable: There was a great sage who had a 
pupil whom he loved supremely, more than he loved him- 
self. He wanted to show him all the wealth of the universe 
and to teach him the secret of imperishable life. But the 
pupil did not accept the love of the master. Not that he re- 
jected the master, but neither did he accept him. And so he 
lived a shadow among shadows, without ever knowing the 
secret of life. 

For ages man has tried to talk about actual life in terms 
of eternal life. We shall have to attack the problem from the 
other end too. We must talk about the eternal in terms of 
actual life. That will give more relevance to the words we 
use for the eternal. The failure of the classical religions is 
that they divorced the eternal from the actual. The old-new 
Jewish method tries to actualize the eternal and to eternalize 
the actual. These two methods intensify each other, whereas 
the religious cleavage kills both, the eternal and the actual. 
Integration of the two may create a new enthusiasm, which 
will replace the vanishing religious zeal. 



1$6 CHOOSE LIFE 

ONLY "THE PEOPLE" CAN BE HOLY 

The Founded People having been disengaged 
from all natural properties and from all fixations to the 
primal catastrophe, its most positive faculty becomes visible. 
It is the character of Holiness. The demand of Holiness is 
not made to the individual but to the collective. As it is said: 
"Ye shall be a holy people unto me" (Lev. 19. Deut. 14, 28). 
Many Biblical commandments address man as an individual. 
"Thou shall not murder" "Thou shalt not covet" "Thou 
shall love thy neighbor" But to be holy, the maximal de- 
mand, is the task of the Founded People as a whole. The 
individual must belong to the people to reach Holiness, as 
the single leaf gets its life from the tree. It is the people that 
endows each individual with Holiness. 

Here again is a basic difference between Judaism and the 
religions. The Jewish faith is inseparably bound up with the 
Founded People. We are not dealing here with a set of dog- 
mas, or a behavior, or a church, or a corpus mysticum. Only 
the people can reach the state of holiness. The individual 
must reach the people. To be uprooted from the people is 
the Jewish conception of death. 

THE TOTAL CONTRADICTION: HOLY AND ACQUISITIVE 

Holiness has nothing to do with clerical garb 
or organ-music and incense. Holy, Kadosh, means to be 
uplifted, to be extricated from corruption of every possible 
kind, to be separated from impurity and perishableness. 
Holiness is an act of transcending. It is a behavior which is 
just the opposite of the acquisitive behavior. The "owner" 
"possesses" "things." The property-urge and the death-wish 
are brothers. The escape into the property-shell is a form of 
dying. To own things transforms the owner himself into a 
thing. The holy people is free, and it can use things without 
being debased into thinghood. The sphere of Holiness is the 
sphere of the people. Holiness and togetherness are insepara- 
ble. Acquisition and separation are inseparable. A deadly 



jgy j\7"0r i s Israel "a Nation" 

trend runs through man's history, that of transforming life 
and finally Man himself into thinghood. Man eventually be- 
comes a commodity, and a very cheap one at that. The ascent 
to Holiness is strictly the opposite trend. No thinghood 
exists in a holy people. It is fully alive. And that is why only 
a Founded People may own things without the corruption of 
owning. A Founded People remains free. 

Among a great many Biblical statements establishing the 
autonomy of the People- Absolute, a few may be mentioned: 
"I know thee by name" (Exod. 33. 12, 13) and "Go among us!' 
(Exod. 34.9) "And I will bless them who bless thee and curse 
them who curse thee" (Gen. 12,3). "Is it not in that thou goest 
with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people,, from all 
the people that are upon the face of the earth" (Exod. 33,16). 
"Separated" to be holy and to be an outcast. This is the 
root of the messianic mission of the outcasts. 

ONLY THE FOUNDED PEOPLE IS FREE 

No other group has freedom inside itself. A 
group is either a temporary association for practical pur- 
poses, e.g., a medical society or a labor union or a consumers 
cooperative. Or it is a natural group, national or racial. But 
the nearer a group is to a natural species, the less it is free 
inside. Dogs of a certain species have no margin of freedom 
in regard to the determining properties of their species. 
Nor has the species as a whole any possibility of self- 
determination. 

The Founded People is entirely free to determine its des- 
tiny. And every member inside it is free and irreplaceable. 
Each one has his own place which is not interchangeable. 
Each one upholds his uniqueness. A Founded People is free 
from all contradictions between the totality and the person. 

ONLY A FOUNDED COMMUNITY BELONGS TO THE FUTURE 

The nations and the national cultures are on 
their way down. None of the old cultures is still truly crea- 
tive. They all live on their heritage. There may be an after- 



138 CHOOSE LIFE 

math of their creative spirit, perhaps, a glorious sunset or a 
spectacular twilight-of-the-gods. But very few signs point to 
future events of this sort. All these national cultures seem to 
have accomplished their mission. No willed revival of Eu- 
rope is possible. No organized measures can call a halt to 
the modernization of China and India. 

But there is one significant difference between the Euro- 
pean and the Asiatic outlook. The nations of the Far-East 
were not influenced by the Biblical revolution as were the 
nations in Europe. Without this influence all cultural pat- 
terns in these regions remained in a kind of childhood state. 
The study of these uninfluenced civilizations is important for 
a better understanding of what the Bible really did to man- 
kind and what has been obscured by the claims that the 
various churches make for the Bible. 

We do not know exactly how much of the Biblical ele- 
ments have been implanted in Chinese and Hindu mentality. 
We do not know enough about the influence which the dis- 
persion of the Jews (after the destruction of the Temple in 
586 B.C.) had on the Far-East and on Greece at that time. 
However, we know for certain that Greek influence spread 
eastward with Alexander the Great, and Greek art pro- 
foundly stimulated the Far-East. This was established by the 
discoveries of the Turfan murals and sculptures in Central 
Asia, the connecting link between Greece and the Far-East. 
Even if there were a Biblical influence, it was superseded by 
the aestheticism of Greece. 

It seems as if the Biblical revolution is only now reaching 
the Far-East. We cannot be sure yet that China and India 
will be successful in outgrowing the mythological stage of 
their evolution. If this should be so, it might give them an 
advantage over the European nations, which may fail in the 
struggle for the ultimate liquidation of their mythological 
hangover. These Western cultures are perhaps too much ex- 
hausted to achieve such a regeneration. 

Whatever the outcome of these gigantic transformations 
may be, one thing is certain: the future belongs only to such 



3 39 Nor Is Israel {( a Nation" 

groupings of men as are founded communities. It still re- 
mains an open question whether a not-founded group can 
become a Founded People by a revolutionary transformation. 
The influence of the Bible on occidental nations was so 
strong that it shook their very fundaments and threw them 
out of their "normalcy." Yet no such fundamental act as 
founding a people has occurred in the time 

FROM THE BIBLICAL TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 

The American revolution is based on Biblical 
principles. It set the pattern for a policy in which revolution 
was an intrinsic factor. America is founded. She is the result 
of an exodus. She has no myth and no mythological ancestry. 
Wisely the American Constitution begins: "We, the people." 
Not: "We, the nation' 3 America made the elementary hu- 
man rights ''self-evident/' These rights no longer are rebel- 
lious demands. Self-evident that is, beyond controversies. 
"All men are equal." Of course not like razor blades, but in 
so far as they are divine. All have an ultimate root "Omnes, 
omnes, may others ignore what they may/' so says Walt 
Whitman. And all have ' 'inalienable" rights. If these are 
touched, people are entitled to revolt; it is even their duty to 
revolt. "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God" so 
goes a well known American tenet. And among these inalien- 
able rights are: liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. 
Life is a self-evident right. Life must not be a favor by the 
grace of ruling groups. And what is happiness? The greatest 
happiness is self-realization, growth that never ends. It is our 
self-evident right to pursue that right. It is obvious that all 
these demands are Biblical axioms. The American Revolu- 
tion, in its original state, was a continuation of the Biblical 
Revolution. 

The Biblical Revolution is obscured, the American is 
broken up and the Russian is deflected. The Russian Revolu- 
tion has failed to invent new and higher methods to human- 
ize the accomplishing of social change. Change will come the 
more peaceful, the profounder it is. Partial change tends to 



140 CHOOSE LIFE 

be violent. Violence indicates that kind of change o which 
the French say: "The more it changes the more it is the 
same." And that is why it is said: "All the ways of the Torah 
are peace" The more the contemporary global transforma- 
tion becomes akin to the Biblical act of "founding the Peo- 
ple," the more effective they will be and the more peaceful. 

"IN OUR MIDST" 

Israel is a people. It is not a nation, not a 
religion. The people will have to be a "Holy People/' Holi- 
ness is the state of being uplifted above all forms of corrup- 
tion or impurity. It is a state of complete "vertically." It is 
a state of completed autonomy, an autonomy over all possi- 
ble disintegration that pulls Man back to lower levels. But 
holiness is not only an upward-and-outward movement. 
Holiness demands perfect inner integration of man, inner 
unity to overcome our broken state. And that unity is not 
attainable for the detached individual. The integration of 
the person depends on the unity of the Founded People. We 
call such completely united collective "The Absolute Col- 
lective." 

What then focuses a Founded People into an indissoluble 
unity? It is significant that the attribute of Holiness is a 
divine attribute. God is called "The Holy One, blessed be 
He" (ha Kadosh). And now the people is also endowed with 
that attribute. That links the Founded People with God. It 
is God who gives the people focus. God is "the reality" inside 
of the people. God is "in our midst" (bekirbenu). So the 
Founded People is constituted as the "theophoric people" 

Once again a gigantic barrier rises before us, and this time 
it may be the paramount obstacle. 

"OR NOTHING?" "THEN CAME AMALEK" 

And now we must lower our voice to a whis- 
per, when we try to speak about "in our midst." Meticulously 
we must avoid all theological and religious verbiage. Jewish 
thought, at its highest, never turns our human insufficiencies 



141 Nor Is Israel "a Nation" 

into theological conceptions. On this highest level there is 
no frightful ruler, no succor, no consolation, no first cause; 
neither an absolute substance, as Aristotle defined God, nor 
the bearded man in heaven who takes care of everything, 
nor the unknown darkness, nor the Lord, nor the Eternal, nor 
any of all such images. All of them are more or less idolatrous 
to the Jew. None of all these common ideas has any kinship 
with "The Name" Even when the Jew uses words which 
here and there recall the clerical verbiage, something en- 
tirely different from the general theology is meant. 

The Jew never utters "The Name. 33 Thus he abjures all 
theology. The Name gives name to all creatures, but the 
Name Himself cannot be "named." Even the quality of 
"existence" cannot overtake God. God does not have to prove 
that he "exists." The old question whether God exists is 
irrelevant. "Existence" also is created. All theological state- 
ments are mere idolatry or superstition. The theological 
terms no matter how much of sincere emotions they may 
carry are only pictures for things of our daily life. They 
idealize the father, the mother, rulers, leaders, helpful 
friends or hostile forces. And all the emphatic metaphysical 
discussions about substances, first causes, omnipotence use a 
pictorial language that describes actual life in symbolic 
words. Metaphysical terms, in particular, have a clear con- 
notation of acquisition. Only too obviously they mirror 
property-relations and frustration patterns. But, could the 
people address the thesis "in their midst" in the language of 
a social order, which is acquisitive and therefore not social at 
all but anti-social? When the Jews were in the desert, 
they asked: "Is God in our midst or the nothing?" (They did 
not say: "or not?"} (Exod. 17 7,8). And the next verse in 
the text is: "Then came Amalek" Amalek, the antagonist of 
Israel, who wages eternal war against Israel. There is Divine 
logic in the story, as told in the Torah. Immediately Israel 
is attacked after asking the fateful question: "What is in 
our midst? God or the Nothing?" God's "absence" can be a 
frightful "presence." The Divine "Nothing" deprives all 



142 CHOOSE LIFE 

"something" of a legitimate reality as long as we live in the 
ruins of reality and in the perversity of the theologized Noth- 
ing of tyrannical social patterns, or family patterns worked 
up into theologies. Israel, deprived of its true midst, was 
wide open to attacks by Amalek, the tyrant. The Bible pro- 
claims "war of God against Amalek from generation to gen- 
eration/' 

THE WORLD HAS NO NAME YET 

Are we silenced then? Says Isaiah mightily: 
"The full Name only over the full world/' An axiom we can 
rightly call utterly revolutionary. It states that the Name 
cannot be attached to the world in its present condition. 
No "appearance" of God, no "theophany" is possible until 
the full world has come. The place where God can emerge is 
the theophoric people, the Founded People. But Israel in its 
impurity could not bear it when He dwelled among them 
and when His presence threatened them with annihilation. 
(Exod. 33 5 and 13. "I will come up into the midst of 
thee in a moment and consume thee. ) The Name can be 
attached only to a profoundly changed world. This cor- 
rupted world of ours cannot proclaim the Name; it can bring 
forth only a "theology." 

THEOLOGY IS ATHEISTIC 

The metaphysical concepts of substance, 
cause, power, necessity are mere idolatry in the way they are 
used in the theological verbiage. And so is the fallacious use 
of the rather pantheistic concept, "the universe as a whole." 
Wholeness makes of the universe a closed absolute. So whole- 
ness too can be used to buttress idolatrous views. All these 
metaphysical terms should also be subjected to a psychologi- 
cal and sociological analysis to show that they are escapist 
and acquisitive attitudes. The three Jewish absolute pro- 
hibitions idolatry murder perversity are not adjustable 
to the theological view. 
Metaphysics or ontology is controversial from the He- 



143 Nor Is Israel "a Nation" 

braic point of view, because it establishes substances besides 
God. In other words, it gives absoluteness to what is only 
relative. Particularly the categories of theological metaphys- 
ics are camouflaged property-attitudes. The thunder of the 
prophets against the ruling classes is more than moral indig- 
nation. It proclaims social justice and human brotherhood as 
the very thesis of the world. And in doing so the prophets 
call up the very universe as witness against social corruption. 

Of course the question arises: what about Jewish mysti- 
cism? What about the Kabbalah? A problem of enormous 
complexity! There was always considerable antagonism 
among the Jews to these philosophies. However, it may be 
that the Kabbalah in its deepest profundity is just an attempt 
to overcome metaphysics (ontology) by transforming the 
metaphysical pictures into the spoken words. 

The application of psychology to theology can be illumi- 
nating if done for analytical purposes, but the inclination to 
establish the complexities and perversities of the soul as real- 
ities idolizes perversity, thus clashing with the absolute pro- 
hibition of perversity. So-called psychologism is perversion 
because it subordinates truth to the frailties of mere psycho- 
logical conditions. 

A sociological analysis of theology is also most urgent. 
But which kind of sociology is authorized to do it? The 
sociology of our present social system can only talk in terms 
of a society which as yet is a non-society, thus clashing with 
the absolute prohibition of murder." Sociologically mankind 
still is in a murderous state of mind. 

So it follows: An idolatrous mind can produce only an 
idolatrous philosophy. A neurotic, jittery, retrogressive soul, 
crawling back into his own privacy, can provide only a psy- 
chology of perversion. The non-society can talk only in mur- 
derous terms about human togetherness. None of them is 
able "to speak;" none is able to address the fellow-man; all 
are mute. How can an "acquisitive mind," a "closed soul," 
a "vicious-circle society" ever hear the call. How could 
they even dare "to answer." As it is said: "Amalek's hand 



144 CHOOSE LIFE 

covers the Name. 9 ' There is no Name over the non-society, 
and all of us remain nameless. Only the bedlam of the the- 
ologies drowns out the whispers of truth. 

THE "THEOLOGY OF THE PEOPLE" 

It is said: God, Israel and the Torah are one. 
They never appear alone. The mighty key-word of the 
Founded People, "In our midst," proclaims the axiom of 
Jewish philosophy that the Name never appears alone. The 
Name alone quickly fades into pale metaphysical construc- 
tions. God by Himself, God alone, is the God of the theolo- 
gians. Jewish philosophy closely connects loneliness and 
death. To Jewish monotheism HE is the absolutely not- 
lonely. This Jewish vision is majestically represented by the 
Kabbalah in the idea of Zimzum: God withdrew to make 
toom for the world and for Man as the center of the world, 
so that Man could exist beside God, could live in the abso- 
lute nearness of God, to be His companion and even to par- 
take in the work of creation which still goes on. Why there is 
creation at all this fundamental question is answered by the 
Zimzum, which proclaims the absolute non-loneliness of God. 

The genuine place of theophany, the emergence of God, 
is among men "in our midst." And that is the "Founded 
Collective/' God clearly emerges amidst the Founded Peo- 
ple, but He vanishes in the dreariness of the various theolo- 
gies. God is manifest only with the people; allegorically 
speaking, as light becomes manifest only when it meets a 
dark body. 

God and Man and the world meet inside of the Absolute 
Collective. They can never be experienced as separated en- 
tities outside of this meeting-ground. When we meet with 
"nature," it is nature in human interpretation. Even our sci- 
entific views have a sociological aspect. There is no "pure" 
science. Not even mathematics is entirely independent of 
our social structure. We have "styles" of mathematics as we 
have styles of architecture. Even an attempt to construct a 
"pure" science would by no means be free from being so- 



145 ^ or I s I srae l "& Nation" 

cially conditioned. Such "purity*' may be an expression of 
social trends for upholding a detached privacy. The higher 
we ascend, the deeper we penetrate into the Founded Peo- 
ple. The vertical way does not lead to a disinterested neutral- 
ity but to participating in Israel's engaged life, 

ON BELONGING TO AN INDISSOLUBLE COLLECTIVE 

Nothing can overtake a Founded People. 
All phenomena are explicable in terms of the structure of the 
Founded People; they are representable as functions of ab- 
solute collectivity. This infinity inside of Israel's sphere is 
capable of harnessing even the destructive forces. The Jew 
holds that only God could destroy Israel, but he puts his trust 
in the covenant between him and the Thesis of the world. 

It is said that thirty-six, perfectly upright men, thirty-six 
zaddikim would suffice to prevent the world from vanishing 
into nothingness. Even if only ten zaddikim survived, they 
could save Israel. But should that satanic force which is now 
trying to stop mankind succeed in murdering the Jews to the 
last, the eternal upsurge inherent in the universe would crys- 
tallize in the same revolutionary pattern. And Israel would 
re emerge because the Founded People is a primal fact, an 
intrinsic quality of the world. Only by belonging to the in- 
destructible collective can the individual share in indestruct- 
ibility. Ultimately all human beings belong in that collec- 
tive which is the maximal expression of human life. Loyalty 
to this allegiance is not only the maximal demand that can 
be made; it is also Man's maximal chance. 

There can be no minimal Judaism. The Jewish people 
can only live in the fulfillment of its maximal significance. 
All attempts to live as a Jew in a diluted form of Judaism 
will end in annihilation. Judaism is intrinsically maximal- 
ism. The Israel faculty in Man is not only a maximal de- 
mand; it is also a supreme chance. 



IV 

The Revolutionary Bible 

THE SOLE TRUE DIVIDING LINE 



THE FIERY TORAH OF THE JEWS 



THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE 



THE SOLE TRUE DIVIDING LINE 



1 

THE FIERY TORAH OF THE JEWS 



TO WREST THE BIBLE FROM THE HANDS OF REACTION 

It is time to put an end to the distorted pic- 
ture of the Bible as a pious church-and-family book that 
teaches submissive obedience, other-worldliness, mortification 
of the flesh and indifference to social betterment. To wrest 
the most powerful tool of progress from the forces of reac- 
tion is simply a matter of decency and honesty. The most 
revolutionary of all documents must no longer be used for 
the purposes of social oppression. It is time to take the docu- 
ment which set the pattern for all later revolutions back 
to where it belongs, to the camp of progress and humanism. 
The advancing forces of humanity are still deprived of their 
own legitimate weapons, while those very weapons in the 
hands of the negative forces make them frightfully strong. 
Truth in the hands of the people! But the people must 
be ready to accept the truth. Alas is it not true that they are 
not yet ready? However, if a powerful truth is firmly pro- 
claimed, people will readily accept it, or at least a great num- 
ber will. And they who have accepted this truth will win 
over the more sluggish souls. As a chassidic saying goes: A 
wet chip of wood will burn too with the dry ones. What 
matters is that the fire be mighty enough. 

THE SECRET OF THE GOLEM 

It is told that by kabbalistic magic the great 
Rabbi Loew of Prague had made a monster, the so-called 
Golem. This monster-robot obediently performed all the 



150 CHOOSE LIFE 

work the rabbi ordered him to do. Inside of the Golem a 
secret was hidden. Rabbi Loew had placed the Holy Name 
under the tongue of the monster. Only during the Sabbath, 
the day of freedom for all creatures, was the Golem free from 
his slave-work and could do what he wanted. But on that day 
Rabbi Loew always removed the Name from under the 
tongue of the Golem } and so the monster was rendered power- 
less. Yet once it happened that Rabbi Loew forgot to remove 
the Name before the Sabbath came. The Golem raged un- 
controlled and might have destroyed the world if Rabbi 
Loew had not finally succeeded in outwitting and taking 
away the Name from him. And then the monster crumbled 
to dust. This is our own situation. We shall be destroyed if 
we do not succeed in removing the Name of God from under 
the tongue of the monster. 

THE BIBLE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL DOCUMENT OF 

REVOLUTION 

The thunder -of the prophets unmistakably 
proclaims the goals of the Scriptures: Social justice, the right 
of the lowly, the right of the oppressed, the war against the 
oppressor, the war for the sake of truth. The thunder of 
these highest representatives of mankind is directed against 
the kings, the rulers, the rich exploiters of men. From cover 
to cover the Good Book has not one friendly word for these 
rich. The prophets attack them with unparalleled vehe- 
mence. Also the Gospels say: A camel can go through a 
needle's eye more easily than the rich into heaven. And: The 
harlots go into heaven before the respectable people. The 
prophets have set the pattern for every protest against 
vested interests. And without any ambiguity the divine 
voice sounding through the prophets is sorrowfully con- 
cerned with the people. When the prophets chide the people, 
they mean to warn and to admonish them. 

The prophet does not merely foretell the future. He is a 
"speaker" (nawi). He can "speak," he can "hear." What 
the prophets proclaim is not a "theology," which they do not 



151 The Fiery Torah of the Jews 

need because they can communicate with God. And they 
can communicate with God because they speak in terms of 
the people, not in terms of acquisition and privacy. Nor do 
they use metaphysical verbiage. 

"From the first to the last the fiery Torah of the Jews com- 
mands, teaches, urges Man to stand upright. Nowhere is it 
said or tolerated that man should bow, crawl, be submis- 
sive to powerholders, or let the oppressor go unchallenged. 
Nowhere is there an indication of social indifference, of "am 
I my brother's keeper?" this maxim of the murderer. 

Man was created as the being who is free to take initiative. 
This is his intrinsic dignity. Adam's sin was that he remained 
in a state of inertia. As we would say today, he wanted ' 'se- 
curity first/' He placed security before life. A profound later 
commentary asserts: Adam's sin was that he worried about 
the coming day. The way of the Bible is not the way of meek- 
ness, nor is it the conformism of the church-goer. It is the 
fearless way, it is the pursuit of the vertical way. Nowhere 
does the Bible talk in the language of pusillanimity and sub- 
mission. The Bible talks of "standing upright." 

BEYOND ALL AMBIGUITY 

The language of the Bible is apodictic. It is 
a language without any ambiguity. In its majestic simplicity 
it says what it wants to say, no more, no less. Its transparent 
clarity prohibits saying what is untrue or unreal. The words 
of the Bible cannot bear anything but truth. Nowhere is 
there the faintest intimation that these unambiguous words 
mean to say something else than what they clearly say. These 
words are not symbolic. They are not poetry. Although Jew- 
ish learning never ceased to "interpret" the holy texts, the 
method of the Jewish interpretation was to take the spoken 
word of the Bible with utter seriousness. Language is not 
only a tool of communication. If language is able to com- 
municate, it is because we are open widest when we speak. 
The Bible maintains that the entire world is spoken, is break- 
ing forth from the spoken word. HE SPOKE. When we today 



152 CHOOSE LIFE 

look so deprecatingly at words "oh, only words' it indi- 
cates clearly the decay of earnestness. The greatness of the 
Jewish method of interpreting the Scriptures is that it en- 
hances the words, revealing the earnestness of the facts they 
speak about. Jewish thought is strongly aware of what it 
means "to speak." 

In our time the young science of Semantics concerns 
itself with a rebirth of our language and clarifying what the 
words we use really mean. The language of the Bible and of 
the Midrash, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah reached seman- 
tic perfection at the very beginning. 

ON THE POWER OF SMALL GROUPS OF DECIDED MEN 

Without any ambiguity the Tanach (Torah, 
Prophets, the Writings which include the Psalms, the his- 
torical sections of the Bible, the Book of Job) tells us the 
story of the founding of a people. It is not a metaphysical 
story, nor a set of mystical experiences; not legends, nor 
philosophical ideas in poetical form. It is a story, so concrete, 
so human that it became the compass for Man's way through 
history. 

The story starts with the decision of one man, able "to 
hear" and "to speak," Abraham, the founding father, a rebel 
against a corrupted world, who breaks away from that de- 
caying order. The Biblical story tells us always in the sim- 
ple language of truth about the building up of a small 
group of determined people. It tells us of their greatness and 
of their failures, of their visions and their confusions, of 
their tribulations and triumphs. 

The story shows us what power a small group can have if 
it is a group of very determined people an insight of great 
actual significance. To belong to a minority does not neces- 
sarily mean to be weak. To be in a mass-movement does not 
necessarily mean to be strong. What matters is quality, not 
quantity. What is superior in quality is also superior in ef- 
ficiency. Masses can be very weak. Mass-movements can be 
almost powerless. A few determined men can swing vast 



153 The Fiery Torah of the Jews 

masses. Alas this is also true for groups with destructive ten- 
dencies. Yet it is said: "Black magicians cannot remain 
united for a long while/ 1 They destroy each other, and 
therein lies a great hope for the world. 

Down the centuries many examples give proof of what 
great power a small and focused group can have. The best 
known example is the story of the first Christians, who came 
from dedicated small Jewish groups. A handful of poor fish- 
ermen and artisans were stronger than the mighty Roman 
empire. This sort of group stood at the cradle of some great 
religions. So were the men of the Platonic Academy, who 
shaped human thought for about two thousand years. And so 
were the founding fathers of America. 

A group built on such maximal demands as the Biblical 
unites its members with a maximal strength. 

THE STORY OF THE PRIMAL PARIAH-REVOLUTION 

The story of the Exodus from Egypt is evi- 
dently the story of rebellious outcasts. It tells us of a pariah- 
revolt. The conventional Bible interpretation may ask: Is it 
"only" the story of a revolt? Why "only?" The Biblical text 
itself may answer this question. In the first of the Ten Com- 
mandments, this granite rock on which all true civilization 
stands, the God of monotheistic enlightenment proclaims 
Himself the God of liberation from the house of slavery. God 
binds Himself to the fate of these outcasts. And God follows 
these pariahs into exile. The fundamental revolution was 
sanctified by God. There is a profound saying concerning the 
Shechinahj God's dwelling with the people: With Israel the 
Shechinah went into exile. The Shechinah is an outcast now. 
The mighty controversy between Moses and the Pharaoh 
was one of the greatest controversies on fundamental prin- 
ciples that ever was. It delivered a deadly blow to the age of 
magic and ushered in the age of ethics. This fight is still go- 
ing on today. The Exodus, as the Bible describes it, is an 
exodus from slavery, and God's partisanship in the struggle 
is stated with utmost clarity. A later comment says: when 



154 CHOOSE LIFE 

the Jews were jubilant over the fact that their persecutors 
had drowned in the sea, God reminded them "these too are 
my creatures who are perishing now/' But the divine parti- 
sanship still remained unchanged. The God of the Bible is 
not so high in heaven that He is indifferent to the lot of a 
group of the lowly (Deut. 30, 11-16). "Only a revolt?" 
This question reveals as in a flash the antagonism of views 
that divides mankind so profoundly. 

The struggle for the emergence of Man out of the maze 
of darkness is also the struggle for the emergence of the 
Shechinah. The struggle of the outcasts is not "only" a 
materialistic desire for better and more food. From the 
primal to the contemporary social conflict that shakes the 
earth the issue is the same: the exile of Man and the exile 
of God. Both are inseparably tied together. Where human 
initiative revolts against attempts to keep man down in 
infantile submission, there God's abode on earth is estab- 
lished. These revolutionary moments in mankind's history 
when man learns to stand upright are not vulgar riots. They 
reveal the significance of each step forward that we make on 
earth towards the self-realization of Man. 

THE DIVINE LAW AGAINST ACCUMULATION 

The Bible describes how the Founded People 
was educated to freedom. Many a man feels he is free when 
he is safe. But freedom is action, initiative, vision, steep as- 
cent to ultimate goals. The Bible never acquiesced in an 
inertia that looks for security inside of a property-shell. The 
Bible discourages the acquisitive urges. So does the story 
of the manna, the heavenly bread on which the Jews lived in 
the time of their wanderings in the desert. They were al- 
lowed to pick up just enough manna to feed themselves for 
one day, and when some gathered more of it for storing up, 
it disintegrated and putrefied. But the manna gathered the 
day before the Sabbath never spoiled. Clearly this story is 
directed against the accumulation-urge. The Talmudic words 
jom jom, that is "day by day," accentuates that the Biblical 



155 The Fiery Torah of the Jews 

system is built on our creative and our social impulses and 
not on the acquisitive, accumulative urges. Rather than sug- 
gest the abolition of property by force, the Bible rigorously 
restricts the building up of property. The commandment 
"thou shall not steal" implies a protection of what we own. 
But certainly only if it is owned rightfully. Yet, what is right- 
ful? The Biblical sociology clearly indicates that the products 
of one's work, or the wages earned by work can be owned. 
But to own property that has not been the result of one's own 
work, this is the meaning of "to steal" 

The severest implications follow from the prohibition 
to take interest for the money lent to a fellow man. This was 
a prerequisite for the building up of a holy people. This pro- 
hibition goes so far as to forbid even giving interest. This 
law, of such great consequences, is mentioned in the Bible 
several times and always with severest emphasis. (Exod. 22, 
24-26. Levit. 25, 36. Deut. 23, 20,21.) It means that no 
true Community of Man can be built up as long as interest 
from money-lending is given or taken. 

RHYTHMICAL SOCIALIZATION 

The Mosaic law promotes a very advanced 
method of solving ownership problems. It does not advise 
actions by force. It prescribes a rhythmical equalization of 
possessions every fiftieth year. The great Job el Year, the 
fiftieth year, brought a complete redistribution of all prop- 
erty. Everyone got a new start. Everyone got a new chance. 
Liberty was proclaimed throughout all the land (Levit. 
25, 10). Thus each generation at least once experienced a 
kind of socialist revolution, although a peaceful revolution 
without bloodshed or violence. Each generation had to go 
through a radical socialization of its entire economical foun- 
dations. This concerned above all the ownership of the 
land. The ground which we live on must be free. This is a 
self-evident Biblical axiom. And, concerning the land, the 
Bible even goes beyond this rhythmical restoration in the 
Jobel Year. God says: "For Mine is the whole earth/' There- 



156 CHOOSE LIFE 

fore no permanent economic superiority of any group could 
be established. 

The rhythmical socialization did not prohibit putting 
things in the hands of individual initiative, If it was for the 
common good. But periodically there must again be an 
equalization. Ownership, as Jewish monotheism sees it, is 
not a right but a severe duty. To own is not a license; It is a 
severe responsibility. This is profoundly true. To own, to 
accumulate, to grasp things is an attitude that remains de- 
monic so long as we live in the demonic order of a non- 
society. As far-reaching tenet goes: "Whatever someone 
takes now he has already consumed his share of the world 
to come.' 3 The Divine law would not tolerate the slightest 
interference by ownership with the ethical commandments. 
There is not the faintest allowance for "business ethics." 
Just ethics! Without any ambiguity. As the founding fathers 
of America emphasized: The borderline between right and 
wrong must never be blurred. Right or wrong is always an 
either-or decision. Ethics has definite priority over interests. 

THE INDISPUTABLE AXIOM OF THE BIBLICAL REVOLUTION 

From the first to the last page the Bible in- 
sists on the inescapable demand of social justice. Brotherly 
comradeship of mankind is its basic axiom, and not one sen- 
tence in the Bible Is unrelated to it. The ethical fundament 
is also the fundament of the universe. Therefore it is said 
that the pillars of the universe staggered until Abraham sta- 
bilized them firmly. The Biblical revolution turned the pa- 
gan world upside down. In the context of Biblical thought 
there is no absolute nature to which Man is affixed like an 
unimportant appendix, disturbing perhaps the stability of 
nature. But just the opposite is true. The word "nature" is a 
human term and entirely dependent on our social and ethi- 
cal attitudes. The Biblical revolution proclaimed: the ethi- 
cal laws are absolute. The natural laws are relative. Abso- 
luteness is not in the cosmos but in ethics. In philosophical 
terms: there is no Jewish ontology. All metaphysical or nat- 



157 The Fiery Torah of the Jews 

uralistic absolutes are fictitious. Truth is fundamentally re- 
lated to ethical purity. 

Not a single line in the Bible can be isolated from this 
axiom of the Biblical revolution. Until a genuine commu- 
nity of men is established, there will be no truth, no real in- 
sight, no real life, no legitimate property. And there cannot 
be such a community where there is poverty and rottenness 
and infantile fixations. Good- will is not enough. Charity is 
not enough. The solidarity of mankind is needed. 

In the Jewish tradition there has never been a trend of 
thought worth mentioning that constructed a system of met- 
aphysics indifferent to the principles of the Biblical revolu- 
tion. Cleaved-off fragments of the Bible, fashioned into new 
independent religions, are distortions of the original. The 
fiery Torah of the Jews is indivisible. Autonomy of state, or 
of classes or of money is not permissible for Biblical mono- 
theism. To bow to them would be idolatry. 

JOB'S REBELLION. MAN THE REBEL IN THE UNIVERSE 

The story of the great test, the Job story, tells 
us in majestic solemnity how the righteous man, Job, was 
tested. The Book of Job is the Jewish "theodicy," that is 
the attempt to answer man's anxious question: where is 
Divine justice? This earliest of all theodicies is still the great- 
est. It is one of the most rebellious documents of the Biblical 
revolution. Job, the righteous, is challenged by Satan. If man 
does not know how to meet this challenge, he will always be 
delivered over to Satan. The word "Satan" (the bender) in- 
dicates his function. He is the force that makes life crooked. 
Today the stop-mankind movement is the true satanic force. 
The righteous saintly Job now is delivered over to un- 
speakable sufferings, and he cries out the great human ques- 
tion: "Why is it that the upright suffers and the wicked 
harvest?" Three friends come to console him. They offer the 
old consolation: Job is a sinner. Nobody can claim to be up- 
right. His suffering is a punishment. The names of the three 
friends indicate they are demonic figures. Eliphas, the gold 



158 CHOOSE LIFE 

god (Pluto), from Theman, the dark land. Bildad, the de- 
stroyer, called the Shuhit, from the abyss. Sophar, the god of 
the dead. Their answer, that suffering is a punishment, is 
vehemently repudiated by the Bible. The wrath of God 
breaks forth against this cruel answer. This favorite argu- 
ment of clergymen is an abomination to the Book of Job. Is 
not poverty the most widespread form of suffering? So shall 
we condemn the poor as sinners? This is indeed the Hindu 
doctrine of reincarnation, maintaining that the poor are sin- 
ners. They pay for their sins committed in former lives. But 
this is only a variation of the same cruel answer. "Job-consol- 
ers" do not show love to man. 

Another friend of Job appears. His name, Elihu, does not 
indicate anything negative. The consolation he offers is also 
well known. He says he has no answer to Job's question, be- 
cause God's ways are inscrutable. But since everything comes 
from God, therefore, Job should accept his tribulation. This 
popular clerical answer is not sufficient either. That God's 
ways are inscrutable is a belief which can only too easily lead 
into submissive surrender to all kinds of chaotic situations, 
conditions which could very well be changed and which it is 
our duty to change. 

Finally, God answers Job "in a storm." The magnitude of 
the message that Job now receives is indicated by God's de- 
mand: "Gird thy loins now like a man for I will demand of 
thee." And God's demand is that Man must know how to 
answer when he is faced with a Divine confrontation. Not to 
know was never an excuse. A Jew must know the answer 
this is a great principle of Judaism. When God said to Abra- 
ham He would bring him to the promised land, Abraham 
asked: "Whereby shall I know that this is the promised 
land?" (Gen. 15, 8). That Abraham asked this question was 
the deepest reason why the Jews had to be in exile in Egypt 
for four hundred years. Not to know means exile. One must 
know, one must recognize, one must know the answer. 

God's answer to Job seems to have so little relation with 
Job's torments that some superficial interpreters think this 



159 The Fiery Tor ah of the Jews 

last chapter a later addition to the Book of Job. But this is a 
complete misunderstanding of the majestic book. God's an- 
swer is a mighty cosmology, with the emphasis on the ques- 
tion: "Where wast thou when I created the cosmos and all 
that is in it?' 9 Where was Man when God created the stars 
and when the stars were praising Him? Where was Man 
when God played with the Leviathan? Man was not created 
yet. Nature is not Man's place. And if Man conceives himself 
as a mere piece of nature, he must not expect to find ethical 
justice. The Job-problem, the question, Where is Divine 
justice? cannot be answered on the cosmological plane. Na- 
ture does not discriminate between righteous and vicious 
people. Nature taken as an ultimate reality, cannot have an 
answer to Job's question. No cosmology can offer any consola- 
tion to man's deep anxieties. The mighty Jewish theodicy 
lifts man up above the sphere of blind fate and of meaning- 
less suffering. And that is why at the end of the Job story 
everything is restored to Job, but not as in a miracle-story. It 
means that all these sufferings happened to the Job still sub- 
merged in the realm of nature, where there is no ethical jus- 
tice; but as a free ethical being he is still untouched. 

God is on the side of the rebellious Job. He is right in his 
rebellion, and his consolers are wrong. Man should revolt. 
Man should not surrender to meaningless suffering and 
should not justify satanic destruction with arguments of the 
clerical type. The great Jewish theodicy teaches that Man 
can rise above blind meaningless fate. Man is not helplessly 
delivered over to inscrutable suffering. The Bible does not 
tell us a story of cruel punishment. Job was as righteous as a 
human being ever could be. The Divine test did not chal- 
lenge his righteousness, but his wisdom. It is his finiteness 
that is challenged. He suffers from finiteness. But the realm 
of finiteness is not Man's genuine place. Man was not pres- 
ent when God created nature. Nature is relative, is not meant 
to be absolute. But Man is called upon to live up to the ab- 
soluteness of an ethical being. 

Job is all of us. It is the revolt against our finiteness which 



l6o CHOOSE LIFE 



is taught by the theodicy of the Jews. The Jew revolts 
against blind fate. 

AN INFLAMMATORY PROCLAMATION 

Job revolted against nothingness, against our 
perishableness, our relapses into the abysses of nature. Why 
is man not fortified against disintegration? Why the frustra- 
tion of human action? Why can't we establish ourselves firmly 
in this world? The world! This is the great word that des- 
ignates Man's true place. The world! That is the human 
world, the infinite abundance of the universe of which Man 
is the center! The world! That is the universe given focus by 
Man, the realm where ethical absoluteness can be attained. 
The world! that is the realm where nature ends. Nature is 
not like a lake, bound in its confines; it is a river falling into 
the ocean of the world. The world, as the philosophy of the 
Jews sees it, emcompasses nature. The conquest of nothing- 
ness means establishing ourselves firmly in the world. The 
world is like a fortress of humanity, unconquerable by any 
force beneath it. 

But is the world really such a good place for the perpetu- 
ation of Man? The common view doubts it and is inclined 
towards a somewhat pessimistic tone. Most men believe that 
suffering is inherent in the world, that this is quite normal 
and that there will always be disease, drudgery, poverty, un- 
derdogs, and that the lot of most of us will always be a hard 
life without any higher meaning. They believe that there is 
only very small chance for attaining higher insights and that 
wisdom is the privilege of a few, and all hopes for the broth- 
erhood of mankind are sweet dreams. All that Man can hope 
for is that he will be rewarded in the hereafter. Most people 
are definitely resigned to such pessimistic beliefs. They ac- 
cept poverty, disease, war, a meaningless existence as un~ 
changeables. 

The Bible is a flaming protest against such triumphs of 
nothingness. The Bible addresses mankind with an inflam- 



161 The Fiery Torah of the Jews 

matory proclamation: The perfect world can be accom- 
plished here! This again is a revolutionary call. The 
allegations o pessimism are lies. There need not be poverty. 
There need not be disease. Our minds are capable of pro- 
ducing science and technology which will provide abundance 
and conquer disease. Man is made to rule nature. The nor- 
mal situation of Man was paradise; his normal way of life 
was to cultivate that paradise. Resigning to poverty means 
yielding to social chaos. To accept chaos as unchangeable is 
perversity. All belief in unchangeables is idolatry because 
it means bowing to fictitious realities. The lies of the pessi- 
mist are the products of social obstruction. These lies are in- 
tended to hypnotize men into submission. 

But the word: "And it was good" (ki tov) bursts forth like 
a tremendous blessing on the work of creation. And of the 
creation of Man the Scripture says "And it was very good" 
(tov meod. Gen. i, i.). Yet the second day of creation, the 
day when the primal division was created, does not have that 
blessing. 

INFLAMMATORY HOPE 

Biblical optimism stands alone. Nowhere do 
we find so positive an affirmation of the world as in the Jew- 
ish vision. Though the Judaic influence is widespread, its 
effects are always diluted. Clearly and without any ambigu- 
ity stands the proclamation: it can be done! It is a call to ac- 
tion, not merely a dreamy hope. It is an awakening from a 
paralyzing hypnosis. And all at once we understood: there is 
no necessity for our depravity. We need not be poor. We 
need not be sick. There need not be wars. The comradeship 
of men is attainable. For: "ki tov.' 1 Nothing is basically 
wrong with the world or with men that- would prevent us 
from making the world perfect. Perfection is normal, and 
chaos is the abnormal. The work of creation is not a blunder. 
Biblical optimism is not petty modesty, humbly satisfied with 
whatever it can get. Optimism means the overwhelming 



162 CHOOSE LIFE 

awareness of man's infinitude, the clear recognition: we are 
cheated of our life, we are cheated of our infinitude. Our 
frustrations are a fraud. It is the jubilant call to action: It 
can be done! 



2 

THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE 



THE MAGNA CHARTA OF HUMANITY 

Now let us take over our ultimate Rights of 
Man. Let us get ready to assume the title of free men. Let us 
stand upright, kummijuth. "Son of man stand upon thy feet" 
And we shall be ready to leave the house of bondage when 
we are ready to accept the Magna Charta of humanity which 
says: "Thou shalt not make any image" not only an image 
of God, but of anything whatsoever. It is the image as such 
which is challenged. Man will not be free before he has 
emancipated himself from the image. Image-slavery is the 
supreme slavery. The first Commandment, the foundation 
of Jewish monotheism, powerfully forbids making any im- 
ages. (See also Deut 4, 16-20.) The Talmud accentuates 
the point that there are no two realities. But the world of the 
image tries to establish itself as a rival to reality. The images 
are usurpers of the true divine reality. They are the "other 
gods," so vehemently rejected in the first Commandment. 
The images are lies, in the profoundest sense of the word 
"lie." Here again we touch on the fundaments of Jewish 
philosophy. 

THE WORD VS THE IMAGE 

The importance of the spoken word is most 
evident in the Bible. The word originates in the spoken 
word. The word is the mightiest power we can encounter. 
And this mightiest power is our endowment. The antago- 



164 CHOOSE LIFE 

nism between image and word will reveal the reality of 
the word and the unreality of the image. The images are the 
main stronghold o idolatry. They are the very food for the 
idolatrous urges. The images lend themselves so readily to 
idolatry because of their innate character of remaining lonely 
isolated entities. Images strive to be self-supporting. Each 
image pretends to be a little reality in itself. But the word* is 
never alone, never by itself. The word is spoken. It addresses 
other beings. It can be heard. It can be answered. Words 
are innately social. Images are innately lonely. They can- 
not connect themselves to reality. It is only through the proc- 
ess of human thinking that they can be connected. Words, by 
their very nature are always connected with each other. 
This togetherness of words is called speech. The word is 
open; it communicates. The image is mute. What is spoken 
must be heard. Even if the individual speaks to himself, the 
word is dialogue. The image lives in its own privacy. The 
word swings outwards, transcends and is thus the vehicle of 
love. The image is autistic, spiralling back into itself. We 
can quite easily conceive the image as something detached 
from us, which can become an entity all of its own, a "pro- 
totype" in the Platonic sense. But we cannot conceive the 
spoken word as independent of him who speaks, an inde- 
pendent entity. The word is always spoken, by God or by 
Man. The image is a "spiritual thing/' full of thinghood, a 
super-thing. And herein lies the kinship of the image with 
what can be possessed. It is the quintessential product of ac- 
quisitive urges. The "spiritual thing" is much less legitimate 
than the material thing, which can become the object of hu- 
man action in a way the image never can. 

THE LIQUIDATION OF PICTORIAL THINKING 

We think in words. We dream in images. 
Dreams are a flow of disconnected pictures, or at least of 
pictures only loosely related by associations which are always 
private experiences. Because thoughts are meaningfully con- 
nected, they can proceed, expand and build up cumulative 



165 The House of Bondage 

tradition. Where one thought leaves off another one begins, 
reaching a higher level and thus adding and adding to a cu- 
mulative human tradition. Images have a "ceiling" through 
which they cannot pierce. In this respect they are like the 
sexual acts which can only go to a certain limit and never be- 
yond that. Thought and speech are transcending faculties. 
The ''ceiling" which sexuality and images have in common 
makes them profoundly akin. And it is this ceiling which 
keeps the animal down beneath the possibility of change and 
ascent. Crocodiles will be the same crocodiles after thou- 
sands of generations. They will never produce a Shake- 
speare-crocodile. 

The images are sub-human, sub-ethical, sub-logical, sub- 
mental. One cannot act on pictures. Action on images can 
never be anything else but magic. The image is the prime 
barrier to ethical action. It is the deadly foe of ethics. Its 
function is to build up an actionless realm of fictitious phe- 
nomena. The image is the perpetuation of the paralysis of 
the animistic ages. It is the most radical frustration of Man. 
Breaking down the image-barrier was the decisive step of 
the Biblical revolution. 

If actions remain ineffective, it is because they have pic- 
tures as their objects. Moreover, images are ambiguous. They 
can stand for many things. Their meaning changes continu- 
ally, as in our dreams where the picture of one person goes 
over into a second or a third person. Nothing in this dream- 
world has a clear meaning. Because of their ambiguity, these 
pictures, which stifle thinking and obstruct action, can easily 
be accommodated to the changing purposes of the dema- 
gogues. The use of pictorial thinking is one of the most ef- 
fective tricks for paralyzing action. The genuine word is not 
ambiguous. Ambiguous words are not really words; they are 
"word-pictures," bastards of pictures and of words. They are 
the product of the moral corruption of speech. The stop- 
mankind movement is, first of all, concerned with depriv- 
ing mankind of the "word" and thus paralyzing Man. 

Making an image "of" something means to give things 



l66 CHOOSE LIFE 

which are the objects of our actions over to the actionless 

realm of images or to the fictitious action of magic. It means 
to undo the work o creation, which aims at free ethical ac- 
tion. Instead of making images of things we should make 
things of images. Yet, as a product of our imagination the 
image has its function. It can be a tool serving human pur- 
poses. It can be a stimulating fantasy. But attributing reality 
to any image is the true root of slavery. The realm of the im- 
age is the "house of bondage." 

EINSTEIN VS THE PICTORIALIZATION OF NATURE 

The Biblical revolution inaugurated the liq- 
uidation of pictorial thinking in order to make man free. 
This super-human task is not finished yet. Today the exact 
sciences have made an enormous step forward in discarding 
the picture from our thinking. The obstacle to understand- 
ing the Einsteinian universe is not merely technical. It is 
much more our poor attunement to the non-pictorial think- 
ing of these advanced methods of science. The mathemat- 
icization of nature is so far advanced that pictures of nature 
are no longer possible. This is an enormous stride because it 
de-idolatrizes nature. Our mind is not truly "mind" as long 
as it is "populated" with pictures. 

This abstract thinking is not pale thinking; it is picture- 
free thinking. And that is why abstract thinking is most con- 
crete. The more radical the abstraction the nearer it comes to 
reality and is not as infantile minds see it alienated from 
reality. Rigorous abstract thinking is one of the greatest pow- 
ers man can command. The basic antagonism of the Jew to 
the world of images has been a guiding principle through- 
out his troubled long history. 

PLATO TRIED TO SAVE THE IMAGES 

But is there no positive function of the im- 
age? There is one. It can be a tool of our imagination. Imag- 
ination is a great power of the soul. Without imagination 
life would be cold and dreary. Imagination is needed to set 



167 The House of Bondage 

up goals and aims. To build a house, we must first create 
it in our imagination. The trip we want to make will first 
appear in our fantasy. But these pictures are evidently only 
tools for the realization of our plans. They are not independ- 
ent realities. It was Plato who implanted in occidental 
thinking the doctrine of the reality of images. This philoso- 
phy did not originate with him. Platonism in the last analy- 
sis is a relic or perhaps a return of prehistoric animism and 
of the frightening belief in the reality of the images. It is re- 
vealing that Plato accentuates memory. We still remember, 
so he said, life in the world of the original images (proto- 
types). This is how the images came into our soul. Plato 
holds that the original images of all things are the genuine 
reality and that the individual things are merely shadows 
of the perfect prototypes (archetypes). Only by sharing in 
this perfection of the images will the individual thing gain at 
least some semblance of reality. Not the individual lion in 
the desert is real, but the prototype of the lion. Not the in- 
dividual tree in the woods is real, but the original image of 
the tree; the "treeness" is the true reality. So teaches Plato. 
No perfection is attainable in the actual world, only in the 
realm of ideas. This fundamental axiom of the Greek world- 
aspect is diametrically opposed to the Biblical view that the 
perfect world is attainable here on earth. This controversy 
has been going on for centuries: is perfection an esthetical 
or an ethical affair? Is it a concern of the Arts or a matter of 
action in concrete life? Here again a very dangerous side of 
the image becomes manifest. The images replace action by 
esthetic contemplation. Again the striving for earthly per- 
fection is frustrated. Again the vertical way is blocked. The 
images show their magical nature. The images keep us 
chained to the death-house of magic. It is their very function 
to perpetuate the slavery of man. 



l68 CHOOSE LIFE 

CHALLENGING THE ARTS 

The Arts are the very kingdom of the image. 
Among the many barriers on the vertical way the image- 
barrier is one of the strongest. Moreover, the Jewish attack 
against this barrier makes itself very unpopular when the 
Arts are involved. Nobody likes to have the Arts challenged. 
Plato himself was fully aware of the problems they created. 
He continually wavers between two interpretations. Are his 
prototypes images or are they ideas? Sometimes he conceives 
the prototypes not as images but as general conceptions, the 
"universals" (in later terminology). In that case the general 
lion or the general tree are general concepts but not images. 
This twofold interpretation became a major issue of philo- 
sophical history. The images could not hold their own and 
became universals. And finally they became merely names. 
In the long controversy between these two ways of thought 
"nominalism" gained supremacy over Plato's image-realism. 
Nominalism holds that the universals are names and that no 
universals exist outside of human thinking. Universals are 
solely functions of the human mind. 

But the images have also a stronghold in the Arts. And it 
is here that the images and the Arts mutually reveal their 
true origin. What is the origin of art? Already in the early 
development of mankind, in prehistoric times, there was 
rhythmical singing and dancing, painting and sculpture. 
These beginnings of the Arts are part and parcel of totemis- 
tic magic. The Arts originate in magic. By extensive com- 
parative research we have learnt about the original function 
of archaic drawings, sculptures, dances and songs. They were 
not the products of artistic incentives; they served the pur- 
poses of magic. To have the picture of an animal gave the 
hunter power over that animal. Certain lines drawn in sand, 
resembling falling rain, might cause rain. So might rhythmi- 
cal songs imitating the sound of rain. Those ancient draw- 
ings were discovered mostly in dark caves, which proves 
that they were not done for esthetic enjoyment. A fetish 



169 The House of Bondage 

carved in stone might protect a tribe and might also serve as 
an object of worship. 

Even today fetishism is not dead. All kinds of so-called 
imitation magic are still very common, although in camou- 
flaged form. Our psychological behavior is still very near to 
the behavior-pattern of magical ages. Has not Freud impres- 
sively shown the analogy of the magical and the neurotic at- 
titudes. One of the causes of the global neurosis of today is 
our maturity-fear, panicky resisting of everything that would 
lift man out of the infantilism of magic ages. No means are 
cruel enough to obstruct the breaking up of this atavistic sit- 
uation of mankind. We have seen how much magical per- 
formances are akin to the stop-mankind movements, and 
therefore they are suspect to Jewish thinking. Insofar as 
magic is challenged, the Arts are challenged too. 

THE ABOMINATION OF A NEUTRAL REALITY 

The Biblical revolution forced the Arts out 
of their birthplace, the sphere of magic, and compelled 
them to migrate. The Arts never lost their magical charac- 
ter, but they transferred it and sublimated it. Yet this sub- 
limated stage of the Arts shows even more clearly how ob- 
structive the image-barrier is. The esthetic world view is a 
sublimated version of magic. The clash between the ethical 
and the esthetic way of life is one of the sternest alterna- 
tives Man has to face. The great Kierkegaard saw in it the 
ultimate "Either-Or" issue. Kant defined the esthetic behavior 
in a famous example: if someone enjoys a blossoming apple 
tree in regard to the harvest, he has a practical interest in 
mind. But to enjoy the blossoming Aesthetically," he must 
forget all interests. Only as a "disinterested onlooker" can he 
have an esthetic attitude. The esthetic attitude is fundamen- 
tally neutral, and esthetics has nothing to do with ethics, 
with purposes or actions. Genuine art can only be neutral to 
ethics, as seen from the esthetic viewpoint* So it may happen 
that a painter does the picture of a beggar, a perfect work 
of art which makes us shed tears, and a little later we may 



170 CHOOSE LIFE 

callously pass by the beggar sitting at the street corner. A 
famous mural of the early Renaissance shows a group of lep- 
ers, and our esthetic enjoyment is not a bit disturbed. 

Challenging this attitude is, of course, an intrinsic demand 
of the Jewish world-view. An esthetic world-view assumes 
that there is a neutral reality, where we can live, irrespective 
of our moral obligations. The basic idea of the Bible is that 
there are no neutral realities. The more concrete reality is 
the less it is neutral. Nothing has a license to remain outside 
of the ultimate ethical confrontation. It has been shown that 
the assumption of an unconditioned pure experience is 
nothing but another version of escape from reality. What 
is called "scientific neutrality" is an effective method of re- 
search and not the assumption of an indifferent ultimate 
reality. A neutral reality is a non-reality. For Israel an indif- 
ferent reality is completely unacceptable. 

THE PLACE OF BEAUTY 

Is there no place for beauty in Israel's house? 
Certainly, there is a place. The Kabbalah gave beauty a cen- 
tral place in the scheme of the ten principles of creation 
(sephirotti). Beauty is conceived here as mildness, as har- 
mony, the point where all the various lines come together. 
It is not an autonomous realm; it is always attached to some- 
thing. The Arts can never create a rival reality to the one 
true reality. The Trojan horse of the Arts, with the old 
magic of image-slavery in its belly, is cracked wide-open* 
There is no artistic heaven into which ethical responsibil- 
ity can go on furlough from actual life. The claim of the 
artist to stand "above" the great conflicts of his time puts the 
seal on the decay of the Arts. 

There is only one salvation for the Arts: a determined 
subordination to Man's ultimate purposes and to Man's eth- 
ical and social consciousness. Since the artist still rejects, 
mostly with indignation, this inevitable step, we are not sur- 
prised to see the Arts rapidly declining and exposed to the 
danger of becoming mere entertainment. Yet, in the so- 



171 The House of Bondage 

called "engaged literature" lies a ray of hope. No other 
recovery of the Arts can be expected but to serve. 

THE THREE FICTITIOUS "UNCHANGEABLES" 

The idolatrous implications of the image- 
barrier are much broader than is ordinarily supposed. Beside 
images of nature there are also psychological and sociologi- 
cal images, images of our soul and of society. 

The images of the soul objectify the psychological com- 
plexes into higher beings or into demons. The psycho-images 
represent the human soul as a cave, as a private cell into 
which we can retire. The image of the soul as "internality" 
and the image of "spirit" are twins. Spirit, meaning a ghost- 
like life, is supposed to be the immortal part of life. Because 
of these images the soul can have no genuine life and a spec- 
ter is substituted, whereas the very function of the soul is to 
turn outwards. The soul is precisely that being which is in- 
trinsically open. The soul is action. It is active even in con- 
templation. The images of the soul pictorialize psychologi- 
cal inactivity. With the help of the image-magic the inertia 
of our soul is established as an irresistible static reality. The 
outcome of that magic is the axiom: "human nature cannot 
be changed." The idolatrized unchangeable soul is a basic 
requisite for the resistance against man's ascent. 

The most obstructive images are those of society. They use 
their magic to prevent social change. The present condition 
of society is idolatrized into an eternal order that should not 
be touched. Social structures which blatantly mirror human 
frailties are idolatrized into a divine order. Kings and rulers 
are worked up into demi-divinities deriving their rights 
straight from God. There are founders of religions regarded 
as vicarious representatives of God. The entire economic 
process of production and commerce is idolatrized into a host 
of fetishes which have replaced the facts of economic reality. 
The people yield to these fetishes rather than challenge 
the naked ugly facts. Thus the incentive for change is stifled. 

To the man of prehistoric ages the images of nature that 



172 CHOOSE LIFE 

haunted him remained frightening until the Biblical revolu- 
tion dispelled his horrors and enlightened his idolatrous 
soul. The frightened man of mediaeval ages was haunted by 
a demonization of his own soul. And the Biblical revolu- 
tion had to enlighten him, dispelling the psychological 
image-spook. None of these enormous tasks has been com- 
pleted. Modern man still lives in a specter-world of eco- 
nomic and political images, which only now he begins to 
see through. Slowly and reluctantly we begin to see through 
the spook and to grasp how the social images represent 
only the idolatrized social disorder, idolatrized slavery, 
idolatrized scarcity. We are just beginning to see through 
the images of privileges, of commerce, of production, of com- 
modities. Slowly we recognize that our social and political 
ideology is made up of images not yet identified as such. 
Images of social chaos, deified and idolatrized into unchange- 
able orders. 

To break the image-slavery we must resolutely discard 
these three lies: The laws of nature cannot be changed. Hu- 
man nature cannot be changed. The class-divided society 
cannot be changed. 

The belief in "laws" of nature which are eternal, and the 
belief in Man's unchangeable weakness are conditioned by 
our social frustrations. The strongest "unchangeable," how- 
ever, is the belief that class-division is an eternal institution; 
that poverty comes from God; that the established social or- 
der must not be touched. 

But when we left the house of slavery we decided to break 
down the image-barrier, and we discovered that the un- 
changeables are fictitious. Beyond the image-barrier Man is 
free. 

THE LIQUIDATION OF THE INTERMEDIARIES 

With the overthrow of the images all the many 
gods became elilim, as the prophets called them. Petty little 
idols, ridiculous nonentities! And with these dethroned dei- 
ties the intermediaries between God and Man also went to 



173 The House of Bondage 

their doom. There are legions of them. Demi-gods, saints, 
higher powers, churches and esoteric institutions, none of 
them has a place in Israel. An old Hebrew commentary (a 
midrash) has this deeply inspired sentence: "God spoke to 
Abraham I and thou are in the world, let this suffice thee." 
No intermediaries. God and Man, they meet here in this 
world, not in a hereafter. This must suffice. There is no need 
for intermediaries. Mediation is replaced by confrontation, 
this fundamental Jewish attitude towards life that attributes 
an extreme significance to each moment in every-day life. 
Such radicalism is possible only where no inclination prevails 
to fuse God and Man, as in mystical religions. Jewish thought 
is free from that confusion. With radiant clarity Jewish think- 
ing has kept apart God, Man, and the World. Never has the 
one been submerged in the other. Never was there any fusion 
among the three. This is a triumph of mental clarity, not 
possible without ethical clarity. (Later on we shall study this 
triumphant victory over mental and ethical confusion.) 

There is nothing in between God and Man. "There is a 
place next to me" is said when Moses stood on the rock and 
demanded to see the face of God. He cannot see the Face, 
but he can hear the Name. And he can stand "next to God." 
The absolute nearness to God without any mediation is a 
basic Jewish axiom. No institution, no saint can mediate be- 
tween God and Man. No savior can come between Man's di- 
rect confrontation with God. The Messiah is not a mediator 
between God and Man, but a mediator between man and 
man. He is the harbinger of the unity of mankind. The Mes- 
siah is still suffering, not yet triumphant (Isaiah 53). In the 
prophet's vision the suffering Messiah is Israel. The Christian 
Messianic conception is superimposed on a Biblical vision. 

And the synagogue is not an intermediary mystical institu- 
tion. The synagogue has always been the "school," the place 
of learning, the meeting place of the congregations, and their 
leaders were the teachers. 

But what about the angels? Some hold that the Jews 
adopted them from Persia and her dualistic philosophy, 



174 CHOOSE LIFE 

which needs intermediaries. Whatever their place may have 
been in Jewish thought, they never had any reality of their 
own. But were not the "three men" who came to Abraham 
in Mamre heavenly messengers? It is precisely here that Abra- 
ham's attitude gives us a hint. He prostrated himself before 
one of the guests. He greeted him with "adonai" which in- 
dicates that it was God and not an angel who had come to 
Abraham's tent. This is a significant clue that here we are 
dealing with a theophany and not with intermediaries. 
Where angels are mentioned they appear with God rather 
than with man. They are messages rather than messengers. 
A well-known Hebrew tenet says: the angels are inferior to 
man. The angels are not free. They are not endowed with 
the power of decision. They are functions, each of them rep- 
resenting a particular function, like the forces of nature. One 
angel can never perform several functions. And one and the 
same function can never be performed by two angels. This 
reminds us of 'Tauli's theory" that two electrons never oc- 
cupy the same orbit; or of certain aspects of relativity, de- 
priving the functions of a reality of their own. 

To Jewish thought the genuine relation between God and 
Man is once and for all established in the unambiguous 
tenet: "I and not the messenger" (Ani- we lo ha schaliach). 
Persistently the Jew liquidated what had remained of inter- 
mediaries. 

"HEAR" 

From God to Man and from Man to God there 
passes only the word. It is the word that communicates; it is 
not the intermediary being. It is the word and not the image. 
The Jewish universe is a universe of speech and not of things 
or of metaphysical substances of any kind. It is an open uni- 
verse. God speaks and creates by speaking. There is a pri- 
macy in Biblical thought of hearing over seeing. The visual 
sphere is somewhat inferior to the auditory sphere and some- 
what nearer to direct touch. The so-called "near senses," 
smell and taste, are nearest to the sense of touch. It is a great 



1^5 The House of Bondage 

obstacle to higher evolution that we are still inclined to interv 
pret the universe in terms of touch. What can be touched is a 
thing. What is a thing can be owned. The near senses are 
most akin to animal senses. The Jewish valuation of the vari- 
ous senses reverses the common view and arranges them in a 
hierarchic order. The sense of hearing at the top, the sense of 
grasping, touching at the bottom. "Hear, O, Israel" so begins 
the great Jewish Credo (The Shema). 

Kabbalistic writings often use the phrase: "Gome and see" 
Why? Perhaps for the same reason that caused so much an- 
tagonism to the Kabbalah among the Jews. Namely the dan- 
ger of symbolic thinking and restoration of the dethroned 
images. This old pagan trend of thought had again infiltrated 
into Jewish thought through the influence of Greek philos- 
ophy and later through Gnosticism, particularly after Philo's 
time. However, thoroughgoing revaluation of the Kabbalah 
is needed after G. Scholem's (of the Hebrew University, 
Jerusalem) epoch-making research in the enormous field of 
Kabbalistic literature. His profound interpretation opens up 
new horizons of Jewish thought. The central position of lan- 
guage is deeply involved. It seems as if the most amazing 
achievements of Kabbalistic thought are concerned with a 
transformation of the vast empire of images into the realm 
of words. It seems as if the Kabbalah undertakes to humanize 
the cosmos. The conception of the universe as Adam kadmon 
is an affirmation of such trends. We have seen that the Arts 
are going exactly in the opposite direction. They establish 
the realm of the images. The Kabbalah may have a place in- 
side Judaism which corresponds to the place of the Arts in 
the Gentile world; but with a diametrically opposite goal. 

ANTHROPOMORPH THEOMORPH 

There is a 'directness of speech that contrasts 
sharply with the indirectness of the image. This indirect way 
is a dead end, always running into the image-barrier and 
eventually into dead things. The Scriptures never shy away 
from describing most concretely how God addresses Man. 



176 CHOOSE LIFE 

The beginning of the Third Book of the Pentateuch says 
with appalling grandeur: "He called unto Moses and spake 
to him out of the tent of the covenant." And: "He spoke unto 
Moses face to face as a man speaks unto his neighbor" (Exod. 
33, u). This is looked at as "anthropomorphic theology.'* 
But one might better call it "theomorphic anthropology/' 
Representing truth in human terms is not a step away from 
truth, it is the most powerful mode of establishing truth. 
There is a tenet: God is never more manifest than when con- 
cerned with Man. 

The word broke through the image-barrier. The images 
are crumbling. The magic of the three unchangeables is chal- 
lenged. The underlying incentive of the Arts to reinstate the 
images is demasked. The nightmare of the intermediaries is 
dispelled. The gates of the house of bondage are smashed. 
And the regained original light is jubilantly carried in the 
very midst of the rebellious outcasts. 



177 



3 

THE SOLE TRUE DIVIDING LINE 



PEACE AND STATUS QUO ARE IRRECONCILABLE 

Peace will come from the Jews. "Shalom" Is 
peace through unification and not through mere harmoniza- 
tion. It is an act of integration. Unification is an ultimate 
goal. It is impossible to integrate what is broken, weak, un- 
developed. There is no unity possible among what is ethi- 
cally or ritually impure. There is no unity among fragments, 
detached from the whole. There can be no unification of 
indifferent or neutral things. Only when things have reached 
their highest state of intensification can they be integrated, 
They must be incandescent to be welded together. Psycho- 
logical unity is not attainable by softening up the psycholog- 
ical functions in the mistaken expectation that this would be 
the easiest way to reach an inner unification. Just the con- 
trary is true. Enhancing our potentialities to their highest 
intensity is the quickest way to unity. To build up a healthy 
body our organs must function at their optimum. "Only over 
the full world the full Name" so we learned from the pro- 
phetic word. This present world of debris and of corruption 
can neither utter nor hear the Name of God. There can be 
no peace in a world which we have broken to pieces and 
which we have never really accepted. But there is a way out, 
a way crossing all dividing lines. 



178 CHOOSE LIFE 

THE BIBLICAL DEMARCATION LINE CUTS THROUGH ALL 

OTHER DIVIDING LINES 

Ever so many dividing lines crisscross through 
mankind. To the Jew none of them has ever meant anything 
else but a very relative and passing expediency, if not just a 
mere fiction. Most fictitious of all are the racial discrimina- 
tions. National differences have their origin in a diversity of 
reactions to environmental conditions or to tribal traditions. 
As man outgrows his infancy these differences become more 
and more meaningless. 

Tragic as wars for national prestige are, the Jew cannot 
take the aims of these conflicts very seriously. Nor can he 
overlook the fact that psychoanalysis has unmasked the com- 
pliance with war as a manifestation of the death-wish and 
of our urges for self-destruction. Yet, today wars are less and 
less national. They are wars among clashing economic inter- 
ests. But "interests" are not sacred realities either. Genuine 
Jewish thinking refuses to bow before them. Interest-groups 
are symptoms of social insufficiencies or diseases. If a true so- 
ciety existed, interest-groups would not exist. Nor have vo- 
cational groupings more than a functional significance. And 
with the advance of technology the differences among voca- 
tional types disappear, because all of them are more or less 
technicians. The mediaeval guild-stratification pet idea of 
fascism is an anachronism. There was a time when the car- 
penter, the tailor, the shoemaker were different types. 
That belongs to the past. So does the bias in favor of rural 
life. Pastoral life becomes inadequate for modern man. And 
as to language divisions, which are at present most essential, 
the ability of human beings to acquire other languages oblit- 
erates language-frontiers (as already pointed out). 

All these divisions are functional and not essential. There 
are continually shifting frontiers depending on the ever 
changing varieties of human functions. 

The Biblical demarcation-line cuts through all these divid- 
ing lines. It is the sole dividing line which truly and really 



iyg The Sole True Dividing Line 

divides. The issue at stake is whether we are willing to 
in this world and to establish Man on earth without any am- 
biguity. Between our "YES" and our "NO" runs the line of 
absolute division. 

THE CHERUBIMIC FRONTIER 

The story of the lost paradise is not a symbolic 
story. Though it does not read like the story of a real event, 
it is the story of an ultra-real event. The Bible tells us of an 
occurrence in the reality of realities, of what happens again 
and again, and in our time too. In terms of Biblical lan- 
guage we are told what today is of paramount actuality. 

The Biblical story describes how Man was driven from 
the garden of paradise. How the Cherubim with their swords 
of fire guarded the Tree of Life to keep Man from returning 
to the garden of indestructible life. And yet the very same 
Scriptures emphasize that Man never lost his freedom to re- 
turn to his original state. The freedom to overcome his fun- 
damental schizophrenia was never taken from him. The pri- 
mal catastrophe left Man split and thus in a state of utter 
weakness. But his highest dignity, his freedom of decision 
was not touched. So teach the Hebrew Scriptures. The very 
moment of decision to be free would restore his original in- 
tegration and strength. This is a leap, not a slow recovery. 

Inside of the historical process there is not a single moment 
in which it would be impossible to leap into freedom. This 
is the very essence of historical time. The Cherubimic line 
would then give way. Man could reach again the Tree of 
Life, the unbroken state of human nature. But still Man 
chooses the split state, and between him and life runs the 
Cherubimic frontier. 

Let us now tell the story in modern terms, step by step. 

ETERNITY IN ACTION 

But how tell the story of the "split" of Man 
in modern terms? We need not invent a new method. The 
Bible itself shows us how to connect the language of eternity 



l8o CHOOSE LIFE 

with the language of actuality. There are two ways: the one 
is to see the actual moment in the light of eternity, the other, 
to see eternity in the actual moment. There is an eternaliza- 
tion of the actual and an actualization of the eternal. Both 
belong together like the forward and the backward move- 
ment of the turning wheel. Almost all the stories of the Bible 
take place amidst actual human life. There are only a few 
exceptions, such as the story of creation and the story of the 
"split'* of Man. They are not represented as events inside 
of historical time. A deep relationship exists between these 
two events: how the stage for Man was created and how 
Man lost that stage prepared for him. But our practical daily 
life has little concern with the Biblical diagnosis of Man's 
primordial collapse. Thus also the cure for it did not become 
an object of practical action in the course of history and was 
left to mystical procedures. 

It is said that "The Torah does not speak the language of 
the angels but of men." Actualizing the eternal truth in con- 
crete life does not lower, but rather enhances and intensifies 
it. A good example is the story of "the tent of the covenant" 
in the desert. Moses is shown this tent in its most minute de- 
tails. Yet it does not remain a prototype, in the sense of 
Platonic philosophy. For it is merely shown for the purpose 
of being built by the people* This concrete tent in the desert 
is not a shadowy copy of a perfect prototype, in the Platonic 
sense, but is completely identical with the one in Moses* vi- 
sion, even superior just because it stands visible to all amidst 
the people. So it is too with Man's primordial catastrophe as 
told in the Bible. To grasp its significance and to find its solu- 
tion is the main theme of human history. If it were to remain 
a mere metaphysical phenomenon, it would wither away. The 
Bible demands that we tell this eternal story of Man's great- 
ness and weakness with an ever new devotion in the actual 
language of each new moment. 



181 The Sole True Dividing Line 

THE JEW REJECTS TWO FALLACIOUS METHODS 

The method of the Bible Is basically opposed 
to some other methods, which must be avoided meticulously 
by the conscious Jew. They are: idealization and seculari- 
zation. 

Idealization having its roots in mythology and in Greek 
philosophy, values the ideas or prototypes more highly than 
the actual events going on in this world we live in. And it 
holds that the perfect ideas are degraded by their material- 
ization in the tragic form of finite things here on earth. But 
from the Biblical standpoint the idea reaches its climax when 
it meets with the great moment of worldly realization. There 
is a kabbalistic sentence that says: "woe to him who believes 
that the Bible tells only simple stories, whereas they have a 
hidden meaning." Irrespective of the philosophical origin of 
such a statement it imperils the very greatness of Biblical 
realism. These stories are not great merely because of the 
ideas they represent, but the ideas are great because they are 
destined to become reality. 

And secularization which does away with the eternal 
meaning of life, keeping life in the confines of mere so-called 
"practical" goals. But detached from ultimate significance 
these goals will eventually lose their immediate significance 
too. Secularism cannot provide lasting incentives for life and 
work and must end in cynicism. (Secularization is the main 
affliction of certain trends in Zionism. A severe handicap! 
But the recovery from that fallacy is already in sight.) 

THE LAST BARRIER REMAINED UNCONQUERED 

The exuberant joy of the Psalms was a tune 
which a somber mankind had never heard before. These 
songs of liberation glorified the first victory over a sheer end- 
less darkness. The original light again had dispelled the 
nightmare that had paralyzed a frightened mankind. De- 
throned were the idolatrized forces of nature which weighed 
so heavily on the paganistic mind of Man, who had placed 



182 CHOOSE LIFE 

himself below nature. A new nature, freed from demonic 
magic, bursts forth in the Psalms. And this liberated nature 
joins in Man's jubilant songs. These freedom-songs of the 
Biblical Revolution proclaim that the avant-garde has broken 
through the demonic barrier. 

The second victory penetrated still deeper into the terri- 
tory lost by Man. The image-barrier was stormed. The image 
had poisoned the mind of Man. Now the mind was free. Sci- 
ence could develop. Action was possible. 

A strange transformation of mankind began. Animistic 
Man had changed to historical Man; dreaming Man to plan- 
ning Man. The animated universe, where primeval Man had 
lived begins to fade away. Irresistibly, step by step the en- 
vironment of Man is de-animated. The hosts of demons, spir- 
its, gods, vanish and are replaced by things. No reason for be- 
wailing this transformation. The animated universe was a 
demonic universe. When everything is animated nothing is 
animated. Man is alive only when confronted with a world, 
which is not a living structure like himself. In a universe 
where Man and nature are one and the same, only endless 
transformations can occur in this boiling biological sea. At 
that stage no genuinely human action can occur. But with 
the vanishing of animistic nature Man emerges and becomes 
ever more alive. The day came when Man left the womb of 
"mother nature." No longer was he sheltered, passive. He 
was now confronted with a world he had to act on. The ani- 
mistic universe was changed into a universe of things. 

But this was only a step on the way to the humanization of 
Man. He had outgrown an infantile world, yet the stage he 
had reached was fraught with a new problematic of still 
greater tragic and of more fundamental significance. Again 
Man was up against a barrier obstructing his ascent to au- 
tonomy. And in his battle to break through this vast barrier 
Man proved to be most vulnerable. A terrific foe blocked 
Man's way "thinghood." 



183 The Sole True Dividing Line 

THE FALL OF MAN IN TERMS OF ECONOMICS 

What can be touched, grasped, owned is 
a thing. Only things can become objects of planning and cal- 
culating. Whatever Man wants to bring into his sphere of 
power, first he must transform it mentally into a thing. Even 
thoughts and emotions are subject to the same transformation 
into thinghood. We are like the anatomist who dissects only 
the dead body. So it was inevitable that the animistic universe 
had to be transmuted into a mechanical universe in order to 
make it the object of our planning so that we might rule na- 
ture. 

One of the early French Utopians said: "Rule things, but 
do not rule men*'. The metamorphosis of the universe into 
thinghood would have been beneficial if it had stopped at 
Man. But it did not. Man was too weak to withstand the on- 
rush of "thingness". He succumbed. Slowly thinghood per- 
meated human life and began to fret away Man himself. This 
process went on faster and faster. Today this metamorphosis 
has almost reached completion. Man is transmuted into a 
thing also. Death has reconquered Man. 

This victory of thinghood over life actually occurs in the 
social and economic struggles of history. Man becomes ever 
more the object of the economic processes instead of master- 
ing them. His thoughts, feelings, emotions can be bought 
and sold. His ideals, his noblest aspirations, his beliefs, his 
sexuality, his urges are commercialized and have a changing 
price on the market. Finally Man becomes a commodity, 
whose value is steadily decreasing and has now reached an 
exceedingly low level. In our present economic order Man 
occupies a very inferior place. Man is omitted as an autono- 
mous being. It is the most consistent elimination of all human 
values ever achieved. Man becomes a mere tool of the pro- 
duction process; he becomes a thing among things. It is im- 
portant to remember that this loss of Man's autonomy and 
his de-humanization in the course of economic evolution is 
related to the Calvinist elements in capitalism. The Calvinist 



184 CHOOSE LIFE 

doctrine that mankind is a "mass of perdition" was the 
license for exploiting human beings as a mere means to 
economic ends. According to this doctrine we are a rotten 
mass, condemned at any rate, from which is follows that 
nobody has a right to complain when he is poor, or sick, or 
under-privileged. 

CHALLENGING THE INSTINCTS 

It is obvious that "thingness" has its roots in 
man's acquisitive urges. And the acquisitive urges in turn 
are rooted in the nutrition urges. The elementary form of 
grasping and accumulating is concerned with food. 

There are three fundamental instincts: the nutrition in- 
stinct, the propagation instinct, the fighting instinct. Our 
competitive incentives originate in the fighting instinct and 
have a very broad ramification. In the propagation instinct, 
in sexuality, are the roots of the mother instinct, of all in- 
fantile attachments and of the family instinct. The family 
instinct is also the basis for other group instincts. With these 
urges go the ambivalent attitudes, e.g., the wish for escape 
from the family fixation. In the nutrition instincts lie the 
roots of the property urges. These instincts we have in com- 
mon with the animals. But it is our concern to humanize 
them. None of these urges is, as such, an incentive for lifting 
Man up to a higher level. Their function is only to maintain 
the biological processes. But none of them is bad in itself or 
should be suppressed. The sex urges should be integrated 
into the whole of our personality like five harnessed in a heat- 
ing system. The fighting instincts and their ramifications, the 
competitive urges, can be ennobled by channelling them 
for constructive purposes within the whole of society. But it 
is somewhat different with the nutrition urges and their off- 
spring, the accumulative and the property urges. 

The acquisitive urges are entirely a product of scarcity. 
We do not accumulate what we have in abundance. People 
at a table where there is plenty of food will not quarrel over 
it. It is man's privilege that he can create abundance, a char- 



185 The Sole True Dividing Line 

acteristic that makes him superior to the animal, which 
must accept the hostility of nature and cannot change it. But 
Man is destined to be the master over nature. The right hu- 
man attitude towards the nutrition urges would be the crea- 
tion of plenty. If there were an economy of plenty the ac- 
cumulation urges would wither away. 

There is nothing noble in the accumulation urges. There 
is nothing holy in the acquisitive urges and in ownership. If 
plenty should become the normal condition of Man, the prop- 
erty urges would dwindle and finally be obliterated. And 
why should this be lamented! Our present economic order 
promises to provide plenty. On this promise our social or- 
der must be tested. This is a severe challenge. But if the 
existing order does not accept this test, it will discredit itself. 
The very urges are challenged, the urges to possess, the urges 
to accumulate. The withering away of these urges will be a 
gradual process. But challenging the property already accu- 
mulative in private hands creates violent reactions. Those 
within the "crust of protection' * will not shrink from any 
cruelty to avoid being exposed to the adversities of life. Here 
we touch on the basic fear of man in its abysmal profundity. 

And here is the meeting point of the two ways of telling 
the story of the primal collapse of Man. The language of 
actuality interprets the language of eternity, in which the 
Bible tells us about the human tragedy. Having given the 
diagnosis of our disease, but the same token it indicates the 
cure. 

So we are now better prepared to understand the revolu- 
tionary tendencies in the story of Paradise. 

THE PRIMAL SCHIZOPHRENIA 

The history of economy shows how Man suc- 
cumbs to "thingness" and how he himself is transmuted into 
a thing. The Biblical story says that Man was free to choose 
between Life and Death. He chose Death. Thus Man was 
separated from the "Tree of Life" and was delivered over to 
the realm of Death. Although he never spurned life, he did 



l86 CHOOSE LIFE 



not really accept it either. He never overcame the passivity 
which is inherent in each being when it emerges from the 
mystery of creation. Man failed to give primacy to the Divine 
freedom in him above the passivity that lingered on because 
his spontaneity was still slumbering. A created being does 
not have his origin in himself. An element of passivity, of 
inertia is in all created beings. Ours was the task of placing 
our "creatureness" under the mastery of our humanness. 

The Biblical text tells us that Man was created "in the 
likeness of God." In Hebrew: "bezalmenu kid'mutenu" 
These two words indicate a "polarity ," the two poles in our 
nature, the passive and the creative, the centrifugal and the 
centripetal, that we are created and that we are called, our 
Divine origin and our Divine destiny. These two sides were 
originally tied together into a unity. We have destroyed this 
unity. The demut was torn from the zelem, the likeness 
torn from the creatureness. This resulted in our brokenness, 
and we became utterly weak. But we can be restored. The 
two axes of Man's unbroken unity, the passive and the active, 
have been reversed, and they cannot be mended in this per- 
verted relation. But in the right position they can be inte- 
grated. The axis of acquisitive receptivity must be brought 
into operation by the axis of spontaneity, and not in the re- 
versed order. If the acquisitive function has the primacy noth- 
ing else can be derived from it but what is the object of ac- 
quisition, namely things. It is the victory of "thinghood." It 
is the victory of death. The acquisitive security-urges can 
never be the basis of life. To lay hold on security before 
having attained the fulness of life, kills life. 

THE FIRST OF ALL BIBLICAL LAWS 

The story of the Paradise proclaims the 
axiom, so overwhelmingly and frightfully affirmed in the so- 
cial history of Man: the demonic nature of the property 
urges. We learn that there were two trees in Paradise. 
The Tree of Life in the center. And there was also the Tree 
of Knowledge. The first law mentioned in the Scriptures 



187 The Sole True Dividing Line 

was not to eat from the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge. 
Significantly the first of all Biblical commandments is a so- 
called "dietary law." It deals with a restriction concerning 
eating. That we must eat is the mystery of life. Eating and 
dying are tied together. What is lifeless does not need food. 
That which lives must eat. This first of the Biblical laws is 
concerned with the nutrition urge and therefore with the ac- 
quisition and the accumulation urges. 

Did the Bible mean to keep Man away from knowledge? 
Certainly not. The correct name of the forbidden tree was: 
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil Did then the Bible 
not allow Man to know how to distinguish between good and 
evil? Needless to say, this is not so. But the basic document 
of humanness teaches: it is not enough merely "to know" 
what is good and what is evil. Good and evil are objects of 
decision and action. There is danger in making good and 
evil mere neutral objects of knowledge because in only 
"knowing" them we neutralize all things. Knowledge can be- 
come destructive if detached from ethical decision. So the 
admirable results of science are misused for destruction. So the 
very Bible is misused for the casting of darkness. The might- 
ier the truth the more horrible may be the misuse of that 
truth. Certainly there can be no ethical action without knowl- 
edge. " The ignorant cannot be the upright/' is an old He- 
brew saying ( <f we lo am ha aretz chosid." Pirke Avoth). But 
it is just as true that knowledge is inseparably tied to ethics. 
The two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge 
in the Garden of Eden were an indivisible unity of inde- 
structible life. A profound kabbalistic teaching asserts: Man 
made a split between the two trees, and by that act he 
ruined Garden of Paradise (kizuz be-netijoth). This primal 
schizophrenia tells in eternal terms the story of our path of 
suffering through history. The primal split is actualized in 
history because history is the stage where the restoration of 
Man will take place. To the kizuz belongs the tikkun (heal- 
ing the split, restoring the primal unity). 

It is significant, too, that the persuasion to break the first 



l88 CHOOSE LIFE 

of all laws came from the female element, which is rather 
passive. It was the voice of passivity in the Adam that seduced 
him to evade the primal decision and to posit the acquisitive 
security urges prior to life. It is also significant that the Bibli- 
cal language sometimes uses the word "to know" for sexual 
intercourse ("he knew his wife"). This intimates a relation 
between "knowing" and the passivity of sexuality, the Tree 
of Knowledge disconnected from the Tree of Life. The act 
of knowing must not be sundered from the ethical action. In 
the act of knowing we are not to be passive, we are to be 
spontaneous. 

Earlier commentators pointed out that in the Biblical text 
Eve says to Adam: God has forbidden us "to touch" the tree, 
although the prohibition was "not to eat" from the tree. It 
was in this inaccuracy that the Serpent found a hold to induce 
the belief in Adam that he would not die if he transgressed 
the Divine prohibition. The more precise our interpretation 
of this passage the more it shows its revolutionary challenge. 
It is aimed against life collapsing into thinghood. It is Man's 
destiny not to be a thing among things, but to be a human 
being among human beings. Things are owned, and what is 
owned is a thing. The owner himself is owned. He is a thing 
and he transforms others into things too. Between thinghood 
and life runs the sole dividing line the cherubimic fron- 
tier. 

THE BEYOND IS A PAGAN COMPENSATION 

The sole dividing line essential to Jewish 
thought runs not between our actual world and a hereafter, 
but right through this world here. The Jewish demarcation 
line cuts through all other dividing lines. It cuts through 
this our world, bisecting it into the corrupted, neglected, 
shattered world, and into that world of perfection which is 
attainable just exactly amidst worldly life. This would be 
the genuine world, here inside of our actual world, continu- 
ally emerging therefrom in mighty struggles. It is this our 
world here that must be brought to perfection, as world, and 



i8g The Sole True Dividing Line 

not by depriving It of its worldliness. Nowhere does the Bible 
intimate that this world should be replaced by a realm ac- 
cessible only after death or when this world has vanished. 
The Jewish Credo is the faith that this world in which we 
actually live is "good/ 1 is inexhaustible, is capable of being 
developed to absolute perfection, even to a state beyond dis- 
integration. It is the Jewish faith that only this world has 
the intrinsic possibility of being perfect. It is the Jewish faith 
that only over this world, when it is "full," the Name will 
appear. It is the Jewish faith that only this world, when it is 
"full/' will be able to proclaim the Name. Other-worldliness 
is pagan and only a compensation for pagan frustrations. It 
is an escape from building up the world of social righteous- 
ness. Other-worldliness is void of love for Man. 

THE SERPENT SATAN PROMISES IMMORTALITY 

The demonic origin of other-worldliness is 
clearly stated by the Bible. The Bible hardly mentions life in 
a hereafter. That such hopes for a survival of the soul are 
conspicuously absent in the Hebrew Scriptures has often been 
advanced as an argument against the Jews with the allegation 
that so noble an idea was not conceivable to the Jewish 
mind. 

That the soul could survive without a body was a common 
belief in Biblical times, and that the Jews should not have 
been acquainted with this idea is an absurd assumption. Did 
they not live for four hundred years in Egypt, whose religion 
was centered around the "Book of the Dead" and the Pyra- 
mids, those giant monuments proclaiming the survival of the 
dead? Moreover, the belief in immortality of the non-bodily 
part of Man is a relic of animistic ages. That the Scriptures 
of the Jews did not mention immortality was not because 
"the Jews could not conceive of such a noble idea"; It was 
because the Bible was reaching toward much higher concep- 
tions. Once, indeed, immortality is mentioned when and 
this is significant Satan, in the appearance of the Serpent, 
instils the idea in Man that he is safe from death. Against the 



CHOOSE LIFE 



Divine warning that Man would die if he eats from the for- 
bidden tree before being fortified by the fruit of the Tree 
of Life there stands the satanic word: "Surely Ye shall not 
die" (Gen. 3, 4). Satan belittles death; even if separated from 
the Tree of Life the broken Adam would not die. 

But to take away death as a reality means to take earnest- 
ness away from life. To belittle death means to belittle life. 
Life then becomes an affair we cannot take all too seriously. 
Life would go on for ever, no matter what our deeds may be. 
This is the satanic persuasion. But the Jewish attitude max- 
imalizes life. Only when lived most earnestly will life show 
its true reality. Only in the realization that each moment is 
unique and will never come back once it is gone can life be 
lived seriously. Our deep anxieties in the face of death and 
disintegration cannot be relieved by merely prolonging life 
indefinitely. Death is already in life and is not merely a ter- 
mination of life. Endlessness is no guarantee of significance, 
but in fact is the supreme torture of hell. The promise of the 
Serpent is really satanic. Our ultimate hope of rising beyond 
destruction lies deep inside of this world, where all events 
gain their significance, because they occur between a begin- 
ning and a goal. Eternal life is not a post-mortem affair. Life 
is in life. 

MESSIANIC REALISM 

The Messianic goals are worldly goals. The 
restored world, "the full world/' is autonomous against dis- 
integration. The licensed ways of thinking often identify 
"worldliness" and "perishableness." But it is essential to 
Jewish Messianism to think of the world as the place where 
eternity has to be achieved. We must therefore transform the 
world from its present fictitious condition into a truly worldly 
world. We have not yet really entered the world, but linger 
at its doorsteps. Ours is still a world of escapes, substitutes, 
compensations, illusions, fragments and perversions. To trans- 
form the world means establishing it as a world, but not sub- 
stituting for it a heaven or a beyond. Most religions have 



191 The Sole True Dividing Line 

implanted in us the destructive prejudice that "world" is just 
another word for what is perishable and transitory. But just 
the opposite is true. World is the fortress against perishable- 
ness. To establish Man firmly in the world will close the 
abysses of nothingness. But this is possible only if we change 
the world into "the full world/' Knowing that it is possible 
to fulfill the world is the prerequisite of humanness. The 
Messianic goal is not metaphysical. It is a realistic humanism. 
To reach this goal, the "Three Fictitious Unchangeables" 
must be refuted (i.e., the laws of nature; human nature; 
a class-divided society.) And in doing so we remove the 
"Three Basic Barriers" that block the coming of the Mes- 
sianic Time. 

AGAINST THE THREE SLAVEHOLDERS OF MANKIND 

And this is the transformation the Biblical 
Revolution demands of us: to break down the Image-Barrier, 
the Thingness Barrier, the Incest Barrier. This corresponds 
to the three absolute prohibitions: Idolatry, Murder, Perver- 
sity. We have never really answered the Divine call to live a 
truly human existence. We failed to expose ourselves to the 
confrontation with the Divine Reality. We have substituted 
the fictitious reality of idols, and we have made a cleavage in 
ourselves, leaving ourselves broken and weak. From our 
weakness arose wickedness, for the origin of our viciousness 
is weakness. Evil deeds are like compensations for weakness, 
like anger about our feebleness. We have perverted the true 
order of the world from a wide swinging away from the self 
to a narrow crawling into the pettiness of our private selves. 
We have enslaved, ourselves. 

The Biblical Revolution is the call to break that slavery. 
The Bible never makes any demand to mortify ourselves, nor 
is there any craving for other-worldliness, or for remaining 
poor, weak, dumb and ignorant. It is demanded that we un- 
mask and destroy the satanic tyranny of these three: "The 
Powers/' into which we have idolatrized nature; "The Im- 
ages," into which we have idolatrized the very thoughts of 



ig2 CHOOSE LIFE 

our mind; "The Things/' into which we have idolatrized 
our daily needs, our security urges, our escapes, our fears, our 
pusillanimity. 

And here again we reach the sole dividing line which is 
essential to Jewish thinking: the dividing line between "the 
full world/' the integrated, the pure world that we have to 
build up, and the rejected, the broken, the perverted world 
that we have to discard. Either we surrender to the nightmare 
of idolatry, murder, perversity, or we establish our autonomy 
over all powers, images, things. 

Our autonomy over "the powers" would harness them into 
useful tools which we can command to serve us. Then all 
idolatrization of these "powers" would be nonsensical. Our 
autonomy over the images would cut off idolatry at its very 
roots. It would transform the images into mere tools of our 
imagination, and thereby they would lose any independent 
reality and would provide only patterns for action. We are 
still far from reaching such an autonomy. But our greatest 
failure is that we do not rule things; they rule us. We are 
still under the thinghood slavery. We think in terms of things. 
It is so difficult to abolish this most persistent slavery because 
doing so would be tantamount to our mastery of the social 
processes. It is the accumulation urge that obscures our aware- 
ness of the nonentity of things. Things are holes in the true 
reality. They are only signals of human failures in the pro- 
duction process. The metamorphosis of things into mere tran- 
sitory stepping-stones on Man's way toward humanization is 
far off. The three slaveholders are still mighty because they 
cooperate in most perfect unity. The Images! The Powers! 
The Things! 

DETACHMENT FROM "MOTHER NATURE" IS NOT 

DETRIMENTAL 

The human mind is still under the spell of 
pagan frightfulness. Our mind still is in a pre-biblical stage, 
or, as modern ethnology calls it, pre-logical. Our dependency 



Sole True Dividing Line 

on nature can be compared with the embryonic life in the 
mother's womb. The use of the word "natural" is quite sig- 
nificent. What is "natural" is looked at as good. The nearer 
we are to nature the stronger, the healthier we are thus the 
average mind argues. It is often believed that we have gone 
too far from nature, and this is assumed to be the reason for 
decay and disintegration. "Back to nature" movements are 
popular, but they are not clearly recognized as retrogressive 
tendencies or as expressions of incest wishes. Life is still 
obstructed by the incest barrier. 

Yet, seen in the light of the Biblical Revolution, Man's 
emancipation from nature is not detrimental, just as nobody 
would say that separating the child from the mother at birth 
is detrimental. It is just this separation which is a healthy 
process. Contrawise, the attempt to stop the process of birth 
is destructive, even deadly. 

Human strength does not lie in our nearness to nature; 
it depends on how determined our decision is to go forward 
on the human way. And the human way is clearly leading 
away from nature. The gap between Man and nature is con- 
tinually widening. Man's mastery of nature is rapidly increas- 
ing. The real danger of decadence lies in our ambiguity, in 
our ever-renewed hesitation, in not pursuing the human way 
with unswerving consistency. That we have not made a firm 
decision, therein lies the origin of our weakness, not in the 
degree of our remoteness to nature. The more we rise above 
nature the more we gain in strength, and the more clearly 
Man emerges from the maze of evolution the stronger and 
healthier he becomes. It is not Man the animal, but Man 
the human, who can be integrated best into an indivisible 
unity. 

As already pointed out, our wavering is the source of neu- 
rotic decay. "Neurosis" is only a first revolt against fictitious 
stability and in so far a healthy reaction. Only if this revolt 
is stopped neurosis ensues and decay. Were the revolt carried 
through, it would end in perfect health. There is no way 



CHOOSE LIFE 

back to "mother nature" but death. And the guarantee 
against decadence is given only beyond the Either Or line 
of decision. 

THE TREND FROM RURAL LIFE TO CITY LIFE IS SOUND 

Statements about Man in terms of nature miss 
the point. They say nothing about Man; at the utmost they 
say something about certain physical prerequisites for human 
life. Most people still think in naturalistic terms. A partic- 
ularly stubborn form of backward thinking is the romantici- 
zation of agriculture. Psychologically it is a kind of mother 
fixation, the soil being a mother image. The Bible detaches 
Man from the soil. The idyl of a peaceful life under a fig 
tree and a vine is a Messianic anticipation. The Bible, as 
pointed out, favoring nomadic life, tells us the story of no- 
mads. But the peasant Cain and his descendants as already 
pointed out had to find their redemption in becoming city- 
dwellers. The history of the Jews, as told in the Bible, 
starts with an exodus, with Abraham's wanderings. At the 
cradle of Israel stands the story of the exodus from the "house 
of slavery." And through all of Jewish history there is one 
exodus after another. The flight from the country to the city 
has always been typical of the Jews. Recent tendencies to 
bring the Jew back to rural life are not genuinely Jewish, but 
rather a misunderstanding. What is really meant is to bring 
the Jews back to productive work. But it is hard to see why 
farm work should be superior to industrial or professional 
work. There is no reason for discriminating between the 
various types of working people. Farm work has no particular 
redeeming power. 

The flight from the country to the city is justified. His 
noblest ambitions make man revolt against the dullness of 
rural life. Idealizing the pretechnical methods of work is a 
profound misunderstanding of all that Judaism stands for. 
A pretechnical stage still characterizes agricultural work. 
There is only one honest answer to the agricultural problem, 
and that is: the industrialization of food production. It is 



195 The Sole True Dividing Line 

legitimate for the machine to stand between man and the 
soil. Agriculture must be, as it was rightly said, "a branch of 
chemical industry." In the future the peasant will have to 
give way to the technician and to the industrial worker. It is 
not accidental that the slogan "back to the soil" is a perver- 
sion, and it is genuinely Jewish that the Hebrew word for the 
peasant "am ha aretz" is used for ignorant and brainless men. 
Not rural romanticism, but the message and the redemption 
of the city points in the direction of the genuine Jewish way. 

IT IS NOT THE MACHINE THAT IS TO BLAME FOR THE 

MECHANIZATION OF LIFE 

Together with the message of the city goes the 
message of the machine. There is nothing wrong with using 
machines. They are man's friends. They liberate man. They 
create abundance. What is wrong, as everyone knows, is the 
incapability of our present social order to master the machine. 
What is wrong is the perversion, the vicious circle which 
enslaves man just by the very tool that makes him free. The 
reason for this vicious circle is, as pointed out, the basic per- 
version that has displaced Man from his original place. We 
have placed ourselves beneath a tyranny that is fictitious, 
the result of our own frailties. To blame the machine is a 
confusion that makes for ever greater misfortune. 

The problem of "mechanization" has various aspects. 
There is something good in mechanization; it transforms 
many of our conscious functions Into automatic functions. Are 
not most of our bodily movements automatic, as, for example, 
walking, breathing, digesting? No higher evolution is possi- 
ble without the continuous discarding of conscious actions 
and the transformation into automatic functions as in the 
case of learning a language or acquiring all kinds of skills 
in which conscious activities become automatic. Thus, mech- 
anization can make us free for higher actions. The great uto- 
pia of a machine-civilization will free Man from too rough 
work, as all such work will be done by the slave-labor of the 
machines. Man should be merely the supervisor of these ma- 



196 CHOOSE LIFE 

chines that toil for him. Our great hope is to gain mastery 
over the entire process of production. What enslaves us is not 
the machine, but a backward social order incapable of using 
the machine without running into this vicious circle: the 
more power we have the more we are enslaved by that very 
same power. 

WE LIVE IN A KNOWABLE UNIVERSE 

The implications of the machine-age belong 
to a broader scope of changes. We have entered the age of 
science. Science is triumphant today. Very little in our time 
is so promising, so constructive, so effective, so admirable as 
the works of science. Nobody can be a real contemporary 
person if he is still in a pre-scientific state of mind. Science 
promotes the autonomy of Man over things, over his environ- 
ment, over his conditions of life. It is research, and research 
is conquest. To know the things is the prerequisite for ruling 
them and ruling them not only for practical use, but mentally 
as well. Science is a form of mental maturity. We are only on 
the verge of mankind's manhood, for non-scientific minds can 
never be mature minds. The entire emancipation of human 
thought from primeval horror-stricken superstition to ever 
greater clarity runs parallel with the evolution of scientific 
thought. 

And that is why there is a profound kinship between science 
and Jewish thought. Biblical thought and scientific thought 
are on the same ground. Here is a kinship between the 
highest mental levels and the universe. The antagonism of 
the Bible to pictorial thought is the basis for scientific think- 
ing. The emphasis on abstract thinking, so characteristic of 
the Jews, has always placed them in the avant-garde of human 
advance. Biblical monotheism itself is a most radical attitude 
of abstraction, and, as we have seen, extreme abstraction is 
nearest to concreteness. Moreover, Jewish faith persistently 
believes that "knowledge" is possible. Judaism always con- 
tended that knowledge was possible, although, as Einstein 



197 The Sole True Dividing Line 

profoundly remarked, it is the most astonishing feature of 
the universe that the universe can be known. The "unanswer- 
able" questions are mostly senseless questions. To discard 
senseless questions is one of the tasks of scientific clarification. 
A famous physiologist, some decades ago, raised the question: 
How can our brain produce thought? His answer was: "We 
shall never know" (ignorabimus). But does the brain "pro- 
duce" thought? This question was senseless. The greatest 
logician of our time, Wittgenstein, has shown that genuine 
questions are questions that can be answered. 

POWER MAKES POWERLESS. GROWTH STOPS GROWTH. WHY? 

Does this mean that science has no limits? 
If there are limits to science, they are extremely far off, to say 
the least. Science goes from triumph to triumph, and we are 
only at the beginning of this irresistible advance. Speaking 
about the limits of science obviously means that we do not 
think in scientific terms only, but also in terms of values. 
We are not only knowing beings but acting beings too. 
Science does not stand alone; it has to compete with other 
faculties of Man. Therein lies the boundary of science, but 
not in the possibilities of science as such. 

The fictitious obstruction to science is similar to the vicious 
circle that turns technical progress against itself: the greater 
our power the more we are enslaved by that power. Power 
makes powerless. The greater our knowledge the more we 
are upset by that knowledge. The more we grow the more 
we are afraid of that growth. With our growth our maturity- 
fear also grows. The more a genuine social solidarity crystal- 
lizes the more violent is the resistance against it, because of 
fear that through collective actions the masses will gain in 
power. Science is obstructed by a vicious circle, the same as 
other faculties of man. But the vicious circle trap is not in- 
trinsic to life; it belongs rather to the world of images, of 
powers and of things, by which we have enslaved ourselves. 
Only a revolution such as the breaking down of the basic bar- 



198 CHOOSE LIFE 

riers can crack the vicious circle. The knowable universe of 
the scientist can be free from the three spooks it is akin to 
the universe of the Bible. 

THE MESSAGE OF MONEY 

Life in the city, life with machines, life in the 
era of science is detached from nature. Compared with the 
directness of primitive life there is a certain indirectness in 
modern life, and this is looked at as a danger. Yet, as we have 
already seen, this stage of indirectness is only a transition to a 
higher stage of evolution. Such transition periods are always 
more vulnerable than the more static ones. However, these 
dangers are inevitable if we want to rise to a more perfect 
life. The ideal of the Stoics, not to disturb the peace of the 
soul, was rightly called "petty" by the philosopher Bacon. 
There is a price to pay for human greatness. 

The most practical expression of indirect life is money. 
Money is accumulated stored-up life. Originally money was a 
token to facilitate the exchange of goods. It was a first "ab- 
straction" from the direct barter trade, from the direct ex- 
change of goods, item for item. But this token was already 
the first step toward the detachment from immediate life. 
It was a means to store-up one's claim for delivered work or 
merchandise, to be used at any convenient later date. In the 
meantime that token might have increased or decreased in 
value. It could also be transferred to other persons, and the 
owner of the token was at liberty to raise its value, or con- 
versely, he might have to give it away with a loss. So the token 
has ever more taken on an independent existence of its 
own. It devoured, as it were, the simple immediate life, 
and finally it drained the blood off so completely that the 
''token" usurped the place of the things for which it stood. 

That money has become an idol is true in the profoundest 
sense of the word. One of the most effective processes of idol- 
atrization is the concentration of power in money. In money 
the three spooks, "power, images, things," are combined with 
utter intensity. Like a golem, with the name of God always 



199 The Sole True Dividing Line 

under his tongue, money, this idolatrized monster, developed 
an uncanny life. It even acquired the remarkable faculty of 
transcending itself. As Benjamin Franklin said: "Money can 
produce money. It can develop sprouts, and the sprouts de- 
velop new sprouts. The more there is of it the more it de- 
velops/' Money can substitute for time. Time is money. 
Money is time. 

Demonic as this process is, it also indicates the cure. It 
is like an abscess where harmful humors are condensed, thus 
easily lending itself to the surgeon's knife. When the three 
demonic spooks are assembled in money, there is a chance 
to corner them. As long as the spooks are entrenched in meta- 
physical hide-outs it is rather difficult to get at them. But it 
is different with money. Money is entirely within the reach 
of human action. It is in the monetary system that the de- 
cisive battle will take place. There is no way back to a prim- 
itive immediacy of life, only a way forward by a determined 
advance toward mastery of the production for the wants and 
needs of men. The entire economic process must become 
rational to the point of mathematics. It must resolutely be 
subordinated to Man's ethical goals. The ideal order is not 
a pre-monetary but a post-monetary order where money has 
lost its independent reality. 

THE MESSAGE OF THE EXITLESS HERE AND NOW 

The demand to emphasize the "here" is often 
misinterpreted as a demand for so-called "practical" life. A 
disastrous misunderstanding! Nobody is further away from 
the solemnity of maximal life than the "realist." He is the 
man who boasts about his skill to play on human frailties 
and on given situations, however miserable and contemptible 
they may be. His philosophy is a shrewd adaptation to all 
possible fictitious realities. He scoffs at the nobler incentives 
and the hopes of man as "idealistic" and "academic." He bets 
on the downward pulling trends, on inertia, fatigue, dull- 
ness. He is not interested in change and does not like it. He is 
often specialized to the point of extreme narrowness. Among 



2OO CHOOSE LIFE 

all types of human beings the "practical realist" is the super- 
escapist. Nobody lives a more superficial life than he. Better 
than anybody else he manages to crawl into the property- 
shell. He is most alien to the world, to life, to true wisdom 
and above all to his fellow-man. 

The men who have lived earnestly in the world have been 
mostly mighty dreamers. Their Utopias, their revolutionary 
visions have stirred mankind's imagination. Mostly they were 
men who were not all too "practical/' Their plans for the 
future of mankind were based on human greatness and not 
on human pettiness. They did not strive for security first, but 
rather for adventure, danger, never-ending new experiences, 
infinite wisdom. They were rebellious men who wanted to 
change the world. They did not live in the false stability of 
the three spooks. They lived in the presence of the challeng- 
ing Divine paradox. Is not all genuine reality paradoxical if 
compared with the warmish muggy privacy of the security- 
shell which the "practical" people take for "reality"? Those 
rebellious men truly embraced the world because they de- 
cided to live with the Divine paradox. And this was precisely 
what Israel did. A life without escapes! For Israel there were 
no exits from this world into the spook-world of idolatry. 
And because the Jew lived with solemn earnestness in an 
exitless Here and Now this Here and Now became trans- 
parent and revealed its utter profundity. It revealed that the 
miraculous qualities, which Man expected to find in the here- 
after, are the very essence of this world here and that the 
inner infinity of the world is the true infinity. 

MAN'S BASIC SCHIZOPHRENIA IN THE LIGHT OF SOCIAL 

CONFLICTS 

History is hottest in the social struggles. The 
tenet: "The history of mankind is the history of class- 
struggles" is merely an interpretation and does not necessarily 
imply an idealization of these struggles, as, i.e., the nation- 
alistic glorification of war. On the other hand, is it surprising 



soi The Sole True Dividing Line 

that there are class-struggles as long as there are class-privi- 
leges? 

The interpretation of history in terms of class-struggles 
holds that the key to the understanding of history is to be 
found in these mighty social controversies down the centuries. 
History is a battlefield, and the destiny of mankind manifests 
itself in these enormous fights. Cruel as they are, yet they are 
the expression of Man's deep longing to establish the "Sab- 
bath of history." However, the cleavage still splitting human 
society into hostile camps has its roots in the basic cleavage 
that rendered Man a broken being. There is no hope for 
social peace unless Man is cured of his fundamental schiz- 
ophrenia. The social struggles make this primal problem an 
actual problem. In the social struggles the profound primal 
perversion is actualized. They tell the story of the Kizuz in 
terms of social actions. It would be wrong to say that such a 
statement lowers a great timeless idea to the level of daily 
events. Human action should come forth: this is why the 
Bible tells us the eternal story of our weakness and wherein 
this weakness originates. Our concern with mankind's suffer- 
ings can never be degrading. To regard the unspeakable 
tragedy of mankind as negligible or inferior as compared 
with the pure idea of that tragedy is inhuman. 

While the prototype of the Holy Tabernacle had been 
shown to Moses, the people in the desert, nevertheless, had 
to build the material Tabernacle. And so must the Divine 
Likeness of Man be materialized in the course of history. 
The same is true for Man's basic schizophrenia, his broken 
state. To overcome this brokenness it must be actualized in 
history. This is happening in social history. Here is the place 
where the fundamental conditions of life burst into the super- 
structure of the various ideologies, cultures, religions, the 
arts, to claim their rights. Here is the place where all false 
phraseologies finally collapse. Here is the place where eternal 
truth will become actual truth. And without this actualization 
amidst human togetherness, even the most sublime truth may 



202 CHOOSE LIFE 

remain metaphysical poetry. The focal point on which the 
entire Biblical system hinges is missed, if the profundity of 
the social conflict is not realized. The social struggles are not 
"materialistic" brawls for "perishable" earthly goods; they 
are the struggle for Man as the key to the universe and de- 
serve most to be called "religious" in the deepest sense of 
the word. Ours is a time in which the necessity for social 
solidarity is facing a global showdown. In the thickest of it 
again is the Jew. 

THE MESSIANIC MISSION OF THE LOWLY 

All classes emerging one after the other down 
the centuries have a specific mission. After this mission is 
fulfilled a new class is born, taking over the cultural heritage, 
creating a new social order. People are often surprised to 
learn that the greatest glorification of the bourgeois class and 
of the rise of the capitalistic system came from Marx. Marx 
holds that the capitalistic system and the achievements of the 
bourgeoisie are superior to all preceding social orders. His 
analysis of the "proletarian classes" is not an idealization of 
the proletariat. His diagnosis is that the dehumanization of 
Man has reached its ultimate limits because the metamor- 
phosis of Man into a commodity is complete. "Thingness" 
is now dominant. Mankind and the universe have been trans- 
formed into "thinghood." As the genuine exponent of this 
border-situation "the proletariat" has a very specific mission, 
namely "to negate itself." In this process of negation its 
antagonist, the bourgeoisie, will also disappear. If one pole of 
an electric current be removed, the other pole disappears 
automatically. The Hegelian pattern of "self-negation" ap- 
plied to the proletariat aims at a border-situation. The pro- 
letariat is the last class. No new class can ever appear after 
the "self-negation of the proletarian." Only a classless society 
can be the result of it. This act of self-negation presupposes 
that the "proletariat becomes conscious of itself." This is the 
theory. Thus the essence of such action should not lie in 
violent procedures but in the process of becoming "conscious 



203 The Sole True Dividing Line 

of one's class/' Yet, does such a self-conscious border-situation 
already exist? 

The most interesting point in this philosophy is the Mes- 
sianic mission of the proletariat. The social redemption then 
is the task of the lowly. Only the lowly can make "the jump 
from necessity into freedom." A few isolated and magnani- 
mous men from the upper classes may join them. But no 
class can be the redeemer of another class. The patriarchal 
ideal of the feudal class has proved to be a failure. Even the 
noblest intention of the feudalistic aristocracy trying to re- 
deem Caliban was futile. Caliban remained Caliban, and in 
the end Prospero-Shakespeare "breaks his magic wand and 
drowns his book/' Also the Pauline redemption coming to 
Man from without is not fulfilled. The pariah must redeem 
himself. Then only will he no longer be a slave of "thingness." 
The idea of transcending "thingness" is as we have seen an 
essential point of the Biblical Revolution. Yet, the question 
remains: are the lowly willing to take over this mission or 
do they prefer to escape into the middle-class contentment? 

THE ESCAPE OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS FROM THE DIVINE 

PARADOX 

What about the middle-class? Is the middle- 
class a genuine class? What is its historical mission? Un- 
doubtedly its individual members have contributed much to 
culture generally. But as a class it is too much concerned with 
defending the thin walls which separate it from the lower 
strata of society. The man of the middle-class lives a life of 
timidity. That he should not be exposed to the magnitude of 
the world and to the fire of truth makes him rather satisfied 
with a mediocre life, if it will only delay the hour of the 
showdown. He has developed a skill at living behind God's 
back. The middle-class psychology has made great inroads 
even into the lowly. This runs contrary to the idea of its 
Messianic mission and its self -negation. The middle-class psy- 
chology is the cOuntertrend to social change; it reveals the 
deep fear of being confronted with the Divine paradox. It is 



204 CHOOSE LIFE 

the desperate attempt to make the ruins of a Divine World 
the home of a broken man, who has definitely abandoned his 
genuine goals. This explains the deep antagonism of the 
middle-class psychology to the Jewish challenge and the in- 
trinsic antisemitism of that psychology. 

THE INNER INFINITY OF THE WORLD 

The sole dividing line, essential to the Jew, 
separates the full world from the fragmentary world. De- 
marcation lines running between the world and a beyond 
seem fictitious to the Jew. The true beyond is right here. In 
other words: this world here has an inner infinity, an infinite 
inner wealth. It is possible to penetrate ever deeper into this 
world. And just this is the way to an ever higher world. The 
inner relations of the inner world are infinite and therefore 
the inner intensity of the world is also infinite. We can reach 
the deepest profundity in this our worldly life. All the 
dreams of a hereafter are pallid compared with one moment 
of concrete life on earth. However, what this Jewish world- 
piety has in mind is the full world, the world integrated into 
unity, the world restored and freed from corruption and im- 
purity. Since the highest degree of impurity (tumaK) is in 
death, even death would then be removed from the world. 
The full, the united, the pure world would then have reached 
perfection, and "The Name" could be attached to the 
world. "The full Name over the full world." 

The infinite wealth of possible relations in the world 
means a mutual multiplication. Each being is multiplied as 
many times as it is related to other beings. This is true, above 
all, for Man. As many times as each of us is concerned with 
his fellow-men, as many times as each of us is loved by his 
fellow-men, so many times is each of us multiplied. But this 
sole genuine miracle can only happen in our actual life. This 
multiplication is the "heaven" in which we can hope to sur- 
vive. Not as single atoms can we survive, but only in the in- 
exhaustible multitude of love-relations inside of this world. 

The world, as the Jew sees it, is open to its own inner 



205 The Sole True Dividing Line 

infinity. Modern psychology sometimes compares the wealth 
of these inner relations with the structure of liquids called 
"colloids," e.g., milk or blood. A huge number of particles 
are floating in the liquid, their surfaces forming an immense 
area inside of a very small quantity of liquid. Using this as 
a metaphor some psychologists speak of "colloidal behavior/* 

EVERYTHING CONTRADICTS ITSELF 

In philosophical terminology we use the term 
"dialectical" to describe such inner multitude. "Nothing can 
exist without something else that exists too/' says Hegel. 
Nothing stands alone, "by itself." Existence is a thoroughly 
social function. The dialectical character of everything exist- 
ing means that to each event, to each being belongs another 
being, another event, and it is their togetherness that makes 
them truly real. This again reminds us of the indivisible 
unity of the two poles in the electric current. Unity is the 
more intense, the more it is the unity of opposites. It is well 
known how much the Marxist system owes to Hegel's dia- 
lectical philosophy of historical evolution. Progress marches 
on in steps and counter-steps. The old axiom of logic that 
"A equals A" is too limited. Actually, nothing is identical 
with itself. Everything has an intrinsic urge to negate itself, 
to call forth its own opposites. Everything contradicts itself. 
Contradiction is the very soul of progress. It is obvious that 
Hegel's dialectical aspect of reality reveals a world in which 
there is a network of inner abundance. 

GOD IS ANTAGONISTIC TO A BEYOND 

Other-worldliness is greatly implemented by 
the confusion of "God" and a "Beyond." In the entire Bib- 
lical system as well as in Jewish thought God and a Beyond 
are antagonistic to each other, the one excluding the other. 
The Name of God is a call to live resolutely in this world. 
God is the "Warrior" (ish milchamah). He is at war with 
the repudiation of this world, at war with all escapes into 
other-worldliness. A Beyond is the idea of "transcendence" 



S06 CHOOSE LIFE 

misunderstood. "Transcendence" does not mean to forsake 
this world for a world beyond it. It means this very world's 
faculty of penetrating ever deeper into its own potentialities. 
The world "transcends" itself into its own inner worldliness. 
Thus "transcendence" has a revolutionary significance. Con- 
fused thinking identifies God and a Beyond. Such a concep- 
tion of God would be open to the objections against other- 
worldliness. But the God of Israel is the supreme principle 
that thrusts Man into the world, into fulfilling most earnestly 
his task of building up the human world. God and the world 
are not antagonistic. But God and a Beyond exclude each 
other. 

Not as if God and the world were identical. To have rig- 
orously kept apart God, the World, and Man, this was one of 
the most triumphant achievements of Jewish thinking. This 
mental clarity made it possible to fathom the profound re- 
lation between God, the World, and Man, which has been 
blurred in various religions. Where these three principles 
are fused or confused, each of the three loses its specific sig- 
nificance. There can be no earnest correlation of the three if 
they are muddled up. And this is why today we not only fail 
to understand God, but we also do not know any longer 
what Man is nor what the world is. 

THE IMMANENT TRANSCENDENCE THE TRANSCENDENT 

IMMANENCE 

Confounding "transcendence" and "other- 
worldliness" often causes difficulties in understanding cor- 
rectly the "transcendence of God." Transcendence is not a 
negation of immanence, of the life of the world as such or of 
Man's life in the world. To transcend rather is the highest 
faculty of worldly life. It is the faith of the Jew that Man 
can transcend higher and ever higher in this very life here, 
and not where life is repudiated, as in so many philosophies 
and religions. There is no ideal ever so noble, no dream ever 
so bold that is not achievable in concrete life. No imagination 
of a life to come in a hereafter can outrival our expectations 



soy The Sole True Dividing Line 

of a life to come here on earth. Transcendence, therefore, 
is immanent transcendence. Immanence is transcendent im- 
manence. A profound immanence always must transcend. 
However, when Man transcends ever deeper into the world, 
he changes the world so profoundly that it looks almost like 
"another world." But it is still "world," rising above disinte- 
gration. Disintegration is rooted in the impurity that origi- 
nates in the basic perversion. That there is a relation between 
the basic perversion and the origin of "thinghood" is an in- 
sight unique with the Bible. The very essence of things is 
that they can be owned. What is owned is a thing. But as 
the Bible demonstrates owning, the acquisitive urge, is dis- 
located from its legitimate place. Instead, it is now a pre- 
mature anticipation of an attitude which is permissible only 
in Messianic times. The Messianic Time is the time of ac- 
complished social perfection. Before that time we cannot own 
things. They own us. So far, things are symptoms of social 
injustice. They are like an abscess on the social body. Thing- 
ness indicates that we have not yet accomplished the solidarity 
of mankind. 

TRANSCENDENCE AND REVOLUTION 

The antithesis to thingness is Holiness. Holi- 
ness, as the Bible sees it, means the elevation above disinte- 
gration, the emancipation from basic impurity. Holiness is 
the vertical dimension of life. Holiness is what is most con- 
crete in life. Not a Sunday-morning affair. No definition of 
Holiness can be given; Holiness can only be shown. Since 
Holiness is the maximal conception, it overtakes all other 
conceptions. It cannot be defined by them. Rather, vice 
versa, everything can be defined by its relation to Holiness. 
We can only stammer about Holiness. Yet even the stam- 
mering is a beginning of speech. 

The task of understanding the antagonism between God 
and a Beyond is of enormous magnitude. This can only be 
accomplished when we understand the unity of transcendence 
and immanence. Only then can we realize the inner infinity 



208 CHOOSE LIFE 

of the world, the unlimited possibility of transcending into 
ever greater depths of the world. Transcendence and revolu- 
tion are profoundly akin. Thus perfection cannot be reached 
before we transcend the basic fallacies: the powers the im* 
^ges the things. We must recognize that the origin of thing- 
ness is to be found in the basic split. This split is the prime 
reason for man's separation from life. With thingness goes 
owning. And owning is a premature attitude, destructive as 
long as a Messianic stage has not been reached. 

THE SUPREME PERVERSION IDOLATRIZATION OF GOB 

In Jewish thought all these implications are 
centered around the prohibition of idolatry. The concept of 
God as "the Beyond" is one of the worst forms of idolatrizing 
the very idea of God. God is also called makom, which means 
"place." "God is the Place of the world" a great Jewish prin- 
ciple states. Here we meet with a basic Jewish insight: the 
world has a "Place." That means, the world does not rest 
in itself but points to its ultimate significance. The world 
"emerges." Man "emerges." Out of the maze of aeons Man 
emerges, "the only avenue left open in nature where progress 
goes on" (Julian Huxley). Like a river all of nature pours 
itself into Man. But Man widens into infinity. Nature is a 
closed system; Man is an open system. As a great philosopher 
of the romantic period said: "Man is the Messiah of nature." 
This human infinity is only possible because Man in Jewish 
teachings is confronted by God. And such confrontation is 
only possible because there is no identification of God and 
Man. Where there is identity there can be no confrontation; 
there can be no speech. Man remains mute. 

In the clarity of Jewish thought originated the mighty idea 
of God's "nearness" to Man, without any intermediaries. 
But identification was ruled out. God is not identical with the 
world, although He is dwelling in the world, or dwelling in 
the midst of the community of men. This presence of God 
is like a revolutionary force, allowing no acquiescence in any 
state of minor perfection, or in social injustice. This is the 



209 The Sole True Dividing Line 

source of Man's hope. If this is destroyed, all is lost. The 
trouble with theology is that it abolishes God by idolatrizing 
God. This is supreme atheism. 

Concepts of God as "absolute substance," "absolute power," 
"the whole of the universe/' "the first cause/' and all other 
so-called "ontological" definitions of God, are idolatrizations 
of God. What cannot be defined must be shown. The old 
question whether God "exists" is the popular form of that 
idolatry. This question forgets that God also overtakes exist- 
ence. Existence is created, as are time, space and cause. The 
idolatrized concepts of God are all property-concepts. They 
were shaped in analogy to the security-pattern. But God is 
not a refuge in which to be "safe." God can never be made an 
object; He challenges all objects. He is not a haven but a 
challenge. "God as object" is the misconception of the theo- 
logians. To understand that no object, not even the most 
sublime, can ever be identified with God is the prerequisite 
of clear thinking. The idolatrized God is abhorrent to Jew- 
ish thought, as is all other idolatry. It has been rightly said 
that God has nothing to do with religion and theology. 

The idolatrized ideas of property and security promoted 
the concept of God as caretaker, as help or succor, who acts 
for Man. In the Biblical vision, God was always the fiery call 
to action, the call to be spontaneous, to be free. The Bible 
does not offer a bromide, but a fiery challenge. The more we 
rely on God the more are we alienated from God. The more 
we look towards God the more God vanishes into pale ab- 
straction. And the more we rely on our own initiative, the 
more we turn towards the profundity of the world and to- 
wards the community of mankind the clearer and the more 
concrete does God emerge. 

VERILY THE BIBLE IS NOT THE BOOK OF RESPECTABILITY 

And never will God appear in the perverted 
order of life that tries to perpetuate itself definitely in settled- 
down respectability. The "theology" of respectability is hypoc- 
risy. The Bible is the manifesto of the revolution of the 



21O CHOOSE LIFE 

outcasts. God is in exile with the outcasts. Their rebellion 
is in the true sense of the word profoundly religious. It is 
the rebellion against nothingness. It is the uprising against 
the gods, against the intermediaries, against the idolatriza- 
tion of God, against the images, against the powers, against 
the things, against the substitutes for all true action, against 
the pre-logical and pre-ethical childhood fixations, against 
the demonic realm of magic. It is the proclamation of abso- 
lute Freedom, the manifesto of Love. The fiery Torah of the 
Jews has nothing to do with other-worldliness, but draws 
the demarcation line right through this world here, between 
the ultimate YES and NO. The full world, the pure world, 
the integrated world is attainable. The perfect world is not 
beyond this world, but beyond the basic schizophrenia of 
Man. To accept the Divine paradox is truly Jewish. No escape 
into respectable normalcy! Says the prophetic word (Ezekiel 

, i) : 

"Son of Man, Stand Upon Thy Feet." 



V 

The Truth That Creates a People 

THE THREE ABSOLUTE POSTULATES 



ISRAEL IS A PRIMAL FACT 



THE ABSOLUTE POSTULATES 



THE HUMAN CONTINUUM 



1 

ISRAEL IS A PRIMAL FACT 



ULTIMATE TRUTH CREATES A PEOPLE 

Israel Is a people created for truth. Truth is 
not merely a set of axioms and doctrines. Truth is concrete. 
Truth has an irresistible power for assembling and focusing 
people. The greater the inescapable earnestness of truth and 
the more relentless its message, the stronger is its focusing 
power. Truth has an intrinsic urge to go beyond a purely 
theoretical stage and to manifest itself. The Founded-Jewish- 
People is an integration of Truth and the People. Moreover, 
the life of the Jewish people and the Jewish truth are basi- 
cally though not always actually identical. Neither one can 
live a life of its own. As the well known tenet states: "Our 
people is a people only by its TorahJ* It is the people that 
Judaism is concerned with, not with a detached set of teach- 
ings. The aim of Judaism is Israel, the people. The aim is to 
establish the true community. But to reach this plane of true 
humanness the Founded People is needed. The community 
of Israel is pure humanness. That is why 

JUDAISM IS RADICAL UNIVERSALISM 

Israel is the only community which is not spe- 
cialized in the sense of being confined to a single cultural 
pattern. All cultural, natural, practical or religious groups are 
specialized. The Jews are "segregated" just because of their 
radical universalism. Israel is in solidarity with Mankind. 
Modern biology has shown that one of the decisive features 



214 CHOOSE LIFE 

that distinguish Man from the animal is the fact that biolog- 
ically Man is the universal being, whereas animals are more 
or less specialized for specific functions. As an earlier biol- 
ogist once put it: "Animals are monomaniacs/* Man is wide 
open. Universalism is a genuine human behavior. True com- 
munity, the very aim of Judaism, is profoundly human, and 
this is the profoundest form of universalism. There is also a 
fictitious universalism, which is nothing but commonplace, 
colorless levelling of all differences. Sometimes people mis- 
take this indifferent uniformity for universalism. But uni- 
versality is not a result of levelling; it is the result of 
intensification. It means to include each individual as an 
irreplaceable person. The history of the Jews is an admirable 
integration of personality and collectivity, neither one sub- 
merged into the other. And this is the level where it is possi- 
ble to meet all, irrespective of their grouping. 

THERE IS NO LONELINESS IN ISRAEL 

A Zoharitic commentary to a Biblical passage 
(Kings 2-4, 13) says: "Nobody ought to think of him- 
self but as being in the midst of the people. And when he 
raises his head as he may, amidst the people^ the Divine judg- 
ment will not condemn him." The true Jew never divorces 
himself from the totality of Israel. As it is said: To be up- 
rooted from Israel is tantamount to dying. To be bound up 
within the indestructible Collective of Israel is to be imper- 
ishable. In other words: There is no detached privacy in 
Israel. There is no loneliness in Israel. Man lonely is dead. 
The "Name" standing lonely vanishes. The "Name'* should 
never be mentioned alone, only in connection with Man and 
with the World. This is an exceedingly profound principle 
and settles many so-called "theological" problems about the 
"essence" of God. The commandment not to use the Name 
of God "in vain" means that the Name should never be at- 
tached or associated with emptiness. 

The same is true of "the world alone." Standing alone by 
itself the world is a demonic world. There are three abysmal 



215 



Israel Is a Primal Fact 



errors, which are abominable to Israel: The abstract God 
the absolute cosmos the lonely soul. God "alone" vanishes 
into a pale abstraction. Nature "alone" assumes a false abso- 
luteness. The soul "alone" is a frightened soul which, panic- 
stricken, ultimately becomes a vicious soul. But when God, 
Man and the World meet, then God emerges in his concrete- 
ness. The cosmos then will recede into relativity and will 
become the stage for Man's destiny. And Man will regain his 
primal totalness and occupy his legitimate place as the central 
being in the world of creation. The meeting of God, Man 
and the World takes place inside of the people. All specula- 
tions about God "alone," Man "alone," the World "alone" 
as "entities in themselves" are empty. Such metaphysics (or 
ontology) is paganistic superstition. There is no Jewish 
"ontology." 

God is unique, but God is not lonely. Unique means, God 
is the only true reality. There are not two or three or many 
realities. It is the very greatness of the Jewish conception of 
God that He is without loneliness. He is not the "Absolute" 
of Aristotle, which is merely a pallid metaphysical construc- 
tion. In the idea of the Zimzum the overflow of God's love was 
the reason for the creation of the World and of Man. The 
Divine does not want to remain lonely. In this glorious con- 
ception all loneliness is taken away from Man, and the cosmos 
no longer stands alone in itself. It removes all usurped ab- 
soluteness from nature. It establishes the realm where there 
is no loneliness and no death. It establishes the Holy People, 
the indissoluble community. 

THE AMAZING INTEGRATION OF TRUTH AND THE PEOPLE 

The Holy People, the Founded People, is fo- 
cused by the one true reality, not by the unholy trinity of 
fictitious realities, the powers, the images, the things. Only 
truth can focus men into a people. This correlation between 
the truth and the Founded People is a basic Jewish vision. It 
is a most consequential relation. No genuine truth without 
the people, and no genuine people without truth! Mere sets 



2l6 CHOOSE LIFE 

of axioms do not make truth. Mere aggregates of men are not 
a people. A genuine people emanates truth. Israel is, so far, 
the paradigm of the integration of truth and people. But 
what is the criterion for a genuine people? A genuine people 
is not a mere coordination, but an integration of human be- 
ings. This means, all the individual faculties must be pre- 
served and not lost in the collectivity of the people. The col- 
lectivity must be achieved without levelling. On the other 
hand, the individual must belong to the collective with his 
whole personality and not only with part of it. The whole 
personality this includes the bodily side as well as the men- 
tal and the psychological side. Such a total togetherness is 
needed for building up a real people. All collectivities which 
are merely technical, practical, national, cultural, religious, 
political, professional, ideological are rather loosely assem- 
bled groups, relative and transitory. 

The question arises: where are the men ready for such a 
radical togetherness? Where are the men to accept the truth? 
Yet, it does not depend on men only; it also depends on the 
demands that are made on men. If it is a great truth, ines- 
capable, incandescent, it will sweep men along into a unity. 
When there is no confidence in human readiness to accept 
the truth and to gather around it, it may well be that the 
truth offered is not strong enough to focus a people. It might 
be the failure of the truth and not the failure of men. 

ISRAEL CANNOT BE HYPNOTIZED 

Because it is truth that focuses the Founded 
People, a people may originate in one man. For truth is often 
entrusted to one man. So teaches the story of Abraham and 
the story of the origin of the Jewish people. One must realize 
that small groups of men can be very powerful if decidedly 
focused around a great truth; whereas masses can be exceed- 
ingly weak. The weakness of the masses has been analyzed by 
modern mass-psychology. Jewish psychology has always been 
familiar with these scientific insights. 

Mass- or crowd psychology has nothing to do with the so- 



217 Israel Is a Primal Fact 

called lower classes, or with poor people, or with the man in 
the street. There is also a mass psychology prevalent on the 
stock exchange, in parliaments, in the theatre and in con- 
gresses. All these masses behave the same way, be it poor or 
rich people, educated or ignorant people. A mass is always 
striving towards its lowest possible level, just as water runs 
down to the lowest level. The lowest individuals in the crowd, 
not the cross-section, determine the level of the mass. In a 
crowd the person is submerged. 

The crowd thinks in pictures, never in concepts, and there- 
fore is infantile or like a dreamer. The crowd is gullible, not 
accessible to cold logic; it is emotional, superstitious and an 
easy prey for the demagogue. Because of its infantile pre- 
historic character the mass can easily be hypnotized. If the 
knowledge of mass-psychology were popular, people could 
protect themselves against mass-hypnosis just as against epi- 
demics, for nobody can be hypnotized against his will. This 
would make it impossible to build up a docile mass. The soul 
of the Jewish people was never a mass-soul. Israel's soul could 
not be hypnotized; it never succumbed to hypnotic assaults. 
Here and there, sections of Jews for a while yielded to fal- 
lacious ideas, but the genius of Israel was and is absolutely 
immune to hypnosis. It is a persistent trick of the stop- 
mankind-movement to condition the masses so that they act 
against their own interests. It has never been possible to apply 
this fiendish trick to Israel. The soul of Israel is incorruptible. 

THERE IS NO NEUTRAL TRUTH 

This sounds like a very modern statement. A 
psychoanalyst might say so. Or an existentialist. Or an Ameri- 
can pragmatist. Or a modern sociologist, or a Marxist who 
interprets ideologies in terms of social structures. However, 
it was already a fundamental Biblical idea that truth is not a 
kind of indifferent neutrality, as many believe. Truth and 
righteousness are inseparable. Kant's endeavor to uphold 
such "objective" truth, or "pure" truth standing "by itself" 
(an sich), independently, has ended in a complete negation 



2l8 CHOOSE LIFE 

of such a possibility. Kant had to establish "the primacy of 
practical reason" over "pure reason." His great antagonist 
in the history of thought, Spinoza, was on Jewish ground 
when he started his philosophy with the principle: "God is 
truth." But he did not remain on Jewish ground when he 
identified God with "cause," with something mechanical and 
neutral He neutralized God. But God is not neutral or in- 
different. Did not the overwhelming vision of the Zimzum 
think of God as utterly involved in the destiny of Man and 
World. When God is called makom (place), the world is 
set in a higher order that reveals the direction of the world, 
as well as its origin and goal. The world has a "place" this 
does away with the idea of an indifferent world. 

What is neutral or indifferent is dead; at best it may be a 
pre-stage to life. Where everything is still in the state of po- 
tentiality there are no true realities yet, but only possibilities. 
A state of mere "possibilities" has always posed a problem 
to philosophy. "Neutral" things cannot communicate or in- 
fluence each other. That is why the efforts of the philosophers 
are futile when they try to explain how body and soul are 
connected. They look at body and soul as "substances," each 
being real "in itself." So they torture their minds with a 
fictitious problem. Such "in itselfs" cannot communicate with 
each other. Not what is "in itself," but what is able to be out- 
side of itself is real. As the Jew sees it, truth always takes 
sides. The Jew is a partisan. 

LONELY TRUTH WITHERS AWAY 

When truth and justice are separated, both 
wither. When truth and the people are separated, both fade. 
Separated truth would be nothing but a set of tenets. The 
people then decays to a mass, "The people" is not only an 
aggregate of "many." People is Man Open, is Man Total. 
Mankind is not a mere heap of nations or of federalized na- 
tions. The unity of truth and people is called by the Hebrew 
word Am. Am signifies a higher plane of reality. To reach 
this sphere Am is the perpetual goal of Jewish history. 



2ig Israel Is a Primal Fact 

ARE MESSIANIC GOALS DISTANT GOALS? 

The People is the object of Israel's Messianic 
hope. Whether the Messianic goals are still far away or 
whether they will be reached imminently, we do not know. 
We must always be prepared for the two possibilities. The 
true Jew always was. He was prepared to see the Messiah 
come the very next hour. And yet he calmly faced the dark 
expectation that the exile, the galuth, may last for many cen- 
turies, perhaps for thousands of years. The long view as 
well as the constant readiness to be confronted with an im- 
mediate Messianic situation, these two attitudes are equally 
strong in the Jew. There must be no yearning to cut short 
the process of history. There must be no historical short- 
circuit into a mystical redemption as in Christianity, nor a 
surrendering to such evolutionary fatalism as the assumption 
that perfection is only slowly attainable and in a distant fu- 
ture. The dullness of "gradualism" demonstrates this fallacy. 
"Messianic" goals do not mean distant goals. Messianic goals 
are goals that have to be faced. It is the absoluteness of the 
Messianic goals that matters, their utter earnestness. Where 
this ultimate earnestness fades out from life even the imme- 
diacy of life becomes stale and paltry. Absence of the Mes- 
sianic conception of life, and the contentment with what is 
believed to be "practical," have brought on the most appall- 
ing frustration ever experienced by Man. When the ultimate 
goals of life are bare of urgency, the immediate goals lose 
their dynamics too. The result is a rapidly increasing cyni- 
cism. 

MESSIANIC ACTUALITIES 

The omnipresence of the Messianic goals of 
mankind is not only a great consolation; it is also a most dy- 
namic help. Only ultimate truth, only ultimate goals can 
create a people. So-called "practical" aims can gather only 
transitory groups. The place where Eternity and Presence 
meet is inside of the Founded People. And because truth and 



220 CHOOSE LIFE 

people are a unity the gap between Messianic and immediate 
goals can be bridged. The mighty Kabbalistic conception of 
the Tikkun that is, restoring Man from his basic brokenness 

holds that action here and now is Messianic action just as 

well. To realize the greatness of this vision is one of the ur- 
gent tasks for the "J ew Now/* and for ''Mankind Now." 

We meet with this same great issue in the social conflicts 
of our time. Their magnitude and their urgency are obvious. 
Yet there is still the belief that these social conflicts are only 
minor affairs compared with the supreme demands of eter- 
nity. We should "gather treasures in heaven rather than on 
earth." And there is also the belief that an even far-reaching 
social change would still leave human nature unaltered and 
the world the same finite, perishable, hopeless place. But the 
Biblical view holds that the ultimate eternal problems will 
find their realization just here and now amidst our concrete 
life on earth. In the social conflict the metaphysical conflict 
becomes manifest. A metaphysical and primordial event as, 
for example, the story of Man's expulsion from Paradise be- 
comes again and again the paradigm for our action. Con- 
tinually we repeat that story; we actualize it and bring it to 
its conclusion. The story lives on in us in all its greatness. 

The frightening split that divides mankind into two hostile 
camps is the actualization of the original split, the kizuz. The 
present universal conflict is Messianic; it has an apocalyptic 
stigma. It is not merely a conflict about technical or organi- 
zational measures, a struggle for power. The vehemence of 
this global schizophrenia, which produced an unbridled cru- 
elty that will not shrink back from anything, is a dynamic 
repetition of the primal catastrophe of Man. The momentum 
of this appalling hour is so great, and the confrontation with 
truth is so inescapably rigorous that it may give a chance to 
perform Messianic actions. 

Each step in the direction toward the solidarity of mankind 
is a step toward Messianic times. Our conflicts, our fears and 
our hopes are not shadows of ''higher' 1 or "metaphysical" 
processes. Those higher and primordial events reach their 



221 Israel Is a Primal Fact 

maximal realization in actual, concrete life. This is the mean- 
ing of Biblical realism. The Bible does not tell us about the 
events in mythological worlds. The Bible is the eternal en- 
emy of mythology. The Bible tells us the story of the evolu- 
tion and the relapses and the education of a small pariah 
tribe destined to become a Founded People. And this is hap- 
pening time and again; and this is precisely the affair of all 
of mankind today. In us the primordial events reach a climax. 
We actualize Eternity. 

ETERNITY IN THE STREETS 

The Tikkun, the mending of our broken 
state, must occur eventually here and now on earth. It must 
occur in the streets, in the factories, in the offices, in the lab- 
oratories, in the hospitals, in the lecture halls, in the relent- 
less battle of the two camps, in the brains of the scientists. 
Jewish philosophy rejects the separation of * 'profane" and 
"sacred" action. It denies that our earthly life is "profane" 
or "secular" or a matter of "perishableness." It rejects this 
lumping together of all things, all events, all actions and 
bringing them under one general denominator, namely "ex- 
istence." Thus they all "exist," which means that all of them 
equally share in the perishableness of everything that exists. 
(Philosophy raised the question: does existence exist?) So, 
the argument goes on, after all what is the use of our hustle 
and bustle; for everything that exists will remain forever in- 
side the frame of finiteness? Yet the emptiness of this general 
label "existence" becomes obvious when even God is called 
before this supreme court of "existence" and must prove that 
He "exists." 

Against this pagan reasoning the Jewish view holds that 
our "profane" life is not one mess of finiteness and perishable- 
ness. It is not inferior to a religious life. There is only one 
life, one undivided life. We live amidst eternity. Amidst the 
fulness of life, in our anxieties and our triumphs, in the great 
battle of the opposing camps, in our daily decisions between 
right and wrong, in our effort to emerge from confusion into 



222 CHOOSE LIFE 

clarity we establish Man's autonomy above disintegration. 
Here it is where the sole true dividing line runs. It runs be- 
tween purity and corruption, between truth and lie, between 
unity and brokenness, between freedom and slavery under 
idolatry. It runs between the stop-mankind camp and the 
camp that lovingly releases the groundswell of the lowly. It 
runs between our various ways of life. It cuts through our 
emotions and our thinking; it cuts through the unconscious 
thoughts of our heart. Between autonomous life and condi- 
tioned life, precisely there, runs the demarcation line. 

Israel shifted the dividing line, which even now separates 
the profane from the religious life to a position between 
earthly indifference and innerworldly responsibility. Since 
then the frontier between life and death runs through the 
streets. 

THE EVER-ABSENT GOD OF THE THEOLOGIANS VS. THE 
EVER-PRESENT GOD OF THE PEOPLE 

The solemn earnestness of life expressed in 
the sanctity of each moment is nothing new to the Jew. It 
was rather a persistent Jewish attitude. As a Chassidic teach- 
ing stresses: we can pray with the utensils of our daily life. 
The prayer thus embraces the whole of our actual life; it is 
not a metaphysical action outside of life. Our frailties, ob- 
structing an upright life, are the cause of the fundamental 
perversion, the dislodgment of the sole true dividing line 
from its legitimate place. It runs now between life and a 
hereafter, giving this life here over to rust and moths and 
ejecting from life its eternal dynamic. God is absent from 
life. This ethical neutralization of life reveals its very charac- 
ter in the neutralization of God into ideas such as * 'sub- 
stance' ' or "the absolute*' of Aristotle. These empty concepts 
were then deified. Thus the intrinsic atheism of the theolo- 
gies becomes evident. The theologies made of God a meagre 
nonentity. The revolutionary consequences of faith in the 
unique God were rendered a harmless affair, and the old com- 
placency was thereby restored. The God of the theologians 



223 Israel Is a Primal Fact 

and the God of the Jewish Torah have nothing in common. 
How will these theologies ever find the answer to the con- 
tention that God is nothing but a product of wishful think- 
ing or that God is only the projection of Man's fears and 
hopes into theological schemes? That God is only a "father 
image/' or an image standing for Man's infantile anxiety. In- 
deed, what else is the God of the theologians! A God who is 
even more unreal than these complexes of fear and of escape 
and of non-action. The theological God as absolute substance, 
or cause, or power, is a projection of man's property urges 
and of his longing for what he believes is "security." These 
inferior, ignoble and rather demonic urges are idolatrized 
into a conception utterly void of true Divine Reality. These 
theologies are safeguards against God's presence in life 
amidst the people. They try to silence the Divine Call on 
Man for an upright life on earth, for being free, for being 
autonomous. The theological atheism tries to fence off the 
revolutionary presence of God amidst the people, and its true 
goal is the undisturbed, indifferent life in the absence of 
God. No longer is God the reality of realities, the fiery voice 
that divided life into right and wrong, true and false, full 
and frustrated, pure and corrupted, unified and broken. 
With the abandoning of the Sole True Dividing line the 
theophoric outcast, Israel, went into exile. And with Israel 
God's presence on earth (the Shechinah) went into exile too 
because the concrete God lives with the concrete people. To 
the people that is not a People, no God belongs. But it has 
been promised to lo ami (not my people, Hosea i and 2) 
that it will become ata ami (thou art my people). The as- 
surance is given in the togetherness of "truth" and "people." 

THE BODILY CONSEQUENCES OF TRUTH 

Truth, genuine truth has also bodily effects; 
it makes our body vibrate in a new rhythm. Truth transforms 
our body as it transforms our mind. Truth transfigures our 
body and makes our body transparent. Truth creates a new 
body. This is the basis for all ritual, being a discipline as 



224 CHOOSE LIFE 

explained before for the moulding of our body, and for 
melting body and mind into a unity. The ritual therefore is 
antagonistic to the dualism of a specter-soul and of the "un- 
holy flesh" (as emphasized by St. Paul). 

The old-new science of psychosomatics is, in modern sci- 
entific terms, a version of the age-old wisdom of the ritual. 
It realizes that body and mind is a complete unity. Our body 
is also mind and our mind is also body. The old dualistic 
separation of body and mind leaves man utterly weak and 
deprives him of the great potential of psychosomatic unity. 
This dualism makes us feel helpless to master the "flesh." It 
makes us helpless to eliminate the diseases of the body. The 
medical methods need to be complemented by psychological 
methods, for the diseases are feeding on mental and emo- 
tional attitudes. 

JUDAISM IS SANITY 

Diseases are patterns of behavior. What kind 
of behavior? In the light of modern research it seems as if 
the psychological roots of most diseases are negative forms of 
behavior, of inferiority and attitudes of fear, of retrogression 
turned into infantile fixations. And on top of all that are the 
property urges, which are compensations for deep anxieties, 
tied together with a perpetual fear of losing the safety we 
possess inside of our property shell. All these behavior pat- 
terns may have a common denominator. They are archaic 
forms of behavior, patterns of life outgrown long ago. But we 
still stick to them. The magic performances of the totemistic 
age were the first attempts to overcome the prehistoric paraly- 
sis, and to eliminate the frustrations, at that time looked upon 
as caused by evil spirits. Today we call them "infantile fix- 
ations," "inhibition complexes." The totemistic medicine- 
man was a forerunner of psychosomatic therapy. What is the 
significance of his strange identification of animals and dis- 
eases? What did he mean by fighting diseases through exor- 
cizing the animal-spirits from the sick? What is the vision in 
his magic dances, his wearing of masks, these likenesses o 



225 Israel Is a Primal Fact 

animal-heads? It was a first dim foreboding of Man's eman- 
cipation from his animal ancestry, a primordial attempt to 
discard the animal-characters and to emerge to the human 
sphere. Here a great truth shaped a new body, ever more 
emancipated from its kinship with the animal. 

Yet, the decisive step was the Biblical emancipation of 
Man. Only then was Man definitely detached from his bio- 
logical, natural origin, like the newly-born from the mother. 
Man was severed from Mother Nature. The process of matur- 
ing begins. To a more mature soul belongs a more mature 
body. Soul and body are factually never separated. The har- 
monious body-soul unity is a form of maturity. 

The Hebraic Vertical Way is a breaking away from archaic 
patterns of life. The power urges and the property urges are 
such archaic patterns of behavior. The acquisitive urges are 
infantile substitutes for the more mature behavior of steadily 
producing what man needs. Security urges and neuroses are 
inseparable. These archaic behavior patterns belong to pre- 
human stages of evolution. The individual Jew, more or less 
detached from the people, may fall a prey to these frailties. 
Once more: "To be uprooted from the people is tantamount 
to death" But the genius of Israel has overcome those archaic 
impurities. Israel has been created, originally, as a commu- 
nity free from tumah that is free from corruption and from 
impurity and from power. Israel basically is not a power 
group. As the profound tenet says: "The higher a system 
stands the less power is in that system." Power always ends in 
insanity. The Jewish way of life is sanity because it is free of 
magic. Israel is determined not to compromise with Amalek. 
The Jew is capable of saying a clear "No" to power. He is 
antagonistic to that false mildness towards the forces of de- 
struction. 

The prerequisite for maturity and sanity is to get rid of 
the images and of the intermediaries. Israel's genius has long 
ago been liberated from the slavery of the images. No ma- 
turity-fear frustrates Israel's pure soul. The Jewish universe 
is totally free from all magic elements. Therefore the uni- 



226 CHOOSE LIFE 

verse does not weigh on Man. The Jew does not live in a 
dungeon-universe, 

No Images, No Intermediaries. No Tumah. No Magic. No 
Loneliness. No Urge for Power. The result: Invulnerable 
Sanity. 

NOTHING CAN OVERTAKE THE FOUNDED PEOPLE 

Outside o Israel there is no principle capable 
of disintegrating the Founded People. No negative force can 
do it. And the positive forces are inside of the indissoluble 
community. Israel can be destroyed only by itself or by 
God. And between God and Israel there is the Covenant. 

Israel is not merely the late result of a long evolution. It 
is an intrinsic part of reality, from the very beginning. Be- 
cause it is a maximal possibility of evolution, it is the very 
principle of evolution. Everything is rooted not only in its 
origin but equally in its final goals (a view called today 
"telefinalism"). Our modern ideas about biological life are a 
good example of this aspect (as already pointed out). Life, 
then, is not only accidental in the universe, but is the key to 
the universe and even a most persistent component. Life, 
therefore, would be primal and could not be "derived" from 
a less organized state of matter. As Haldane says: "Life is 
not only somewhere but everywhere, even at the inorganic 
levels/' The mere fact that there is life in the universe is 
enough to demonstrate that the universe is such that it must 
produce life. To develop life is the very nature of the uni- 
verse. 

If this is so, it again affirms a truly Jewish view namely, 
that the highest and not the lowest is the basis of the world. 
It is the great hope, continuously restored by the Jew, that 
our life can reach autonomy. And this means that it can out- 
grow the sphere where final disintegration is still the destiny 
of all beings. Man is made to reach the plane of indestructi- 
bility. Evolution is the creative process, in which ever higher 
autonomous levels are continually reached. This is also the 



227 Israel Is a Primal Fact 

gist of a modern scientific theory known as "Emergent Evo- 
lution." 

It is the eternal paradox of all genuine human existence 
to become what we truly are. A constituted unity is stronger 
than a natural unity. The indissoluble community is consti- 
tuted, and this makes it a primal fact. 



828 



2 
THE THREE ABSOLUTE POSTULATES 



THE LIMITS OF OUR BASIC RIGHT FOR SELF-PRESERVATION 
AND THE JEWISH MINIMUM DEMANDS . . . 

The Founding of the People and keeping the 
people focused requires Man's greatest possible efficacy. 
Nothing is greater than truth. Only truth can work the mir- 
acle of building up an absolute collective that is indissoluble. 
But truth is also a consuming flame. Said Nietzsche: "A lie 
promotes life better than truth/' Jewish faith believes that 
life and truth are inseparable. It is said: "All the ways of the 
Torah are peace/' And peace shalom is the peace of full- 
ness. However although life is so highly valued in the 
Jewish system life can never overtake truth. There is a 
limit beyond which the Jew must sacrifice his life rather 
than truth. There is a minimum degree of truth, whose 
transgression is absolutely prohibited. Though this truth is 
of exalted magnitude, nevertheless, it is the Jewish minimum 
of truth, and below it life would be worthless anyhow. 
This borderline is marked by the absolute prohibition of: 

IDOLATRY MURDER PERVERSITY 

Many laws in the rigorous system of the Jewish ritual may 
be suspended under certain circumstances. To save human 
life certain transgressions of the ritual are even demanded. 
The physician who can save a life only if he kindles a fire 
on the Sabbath is allowed to do so. There are many circum- 
stances o this kind. But no allowance is made, not even the 



229 The Three Absolute Postulates 

slightest, for transgressing the barrier of the three Jewish Ab- 
solutes. Life itself cannot overstep this barrier which protects 
the Founded People against the abyss of nothingness. 

"OUT OF NOTHING" 

The word "idolatry" may sometimes have an 
antiquated connotation. However, the belligerency of the 
Jews against idolatry always was, and still is today, an avant- 
garde matter. No greater principle of enlightenment has ever 
been established from the time of the Biblical Revolution 
until our day. In the turmoil of our confused age, no prin- 
ciple is further advanced than this axiom, on which the 
Founded People stands or falls. When it was said that he who 
absolutely refrains from idolatry is called "a Jew", a maximal 
demand was made. Who dares to say that he is free from 
idolatry? Are not our minds and emotions and feelings pos- 
sessed by the threefold spook of the "Images, Powers, 
Things"? Do we not bow before these supreme slaveholders? 
And is this not the very essence of an idolatrous behavior? 
Actually from where do we take orders? Perhaps from our 
ethical conscientiousness? Or from these idols? 

The prohibition of idolatry is inseparably connected with 
the fundamental axiom of the Bible the axiom of Creation. 
Whatever exists is a "creature." In other words, it does not 
have its roots in its own existence. Its origin is always outside 
itself. Attributing to anything a reality of its own, this pre- 
cisely is idolatry. To say it in modern terms: Everything that 
exists is relative. Relativity and Creation in the Biblical 
sense are deeply akin. The idea of the finiteness of the cosmos 
Is a modern scientific view, contrary to the old pagan view 
that nature is eternal. The Jewish philosopher, Steinheim, 
maintained that -the idea of Creation is still "the shibboleth 
of the synagogue." Creation and "Creation out of Nothing" 
are one and the same. A creation out of something, of any 
kind of raw-material, physical or metaphysical, would only 
be "formation," but not creation. "Assa eno jeshno" (He 
made His nothing into His something). "Out of" also means 



2gO CHOOSE LIFE 

"away"; to rise above the nothing. Upon this principle of 
"creation out of nothing" (jesh me ajiri) all Jewish philoso- 
phers are agreed. 

Here is the point where the problem: What is the Nothing? 
enters into Jewish philosophy. The world and everything in 
it, including Man, is as it were suspended over the abysses 
of nothingness with the ever-present danger of sinking back 
into the "nothing" of creation. Man is destined to reach au- 
tonomy over that nothingness, to attain self-realization and 
then, through himself, realization of all the potentialities of 
the world. Man is still far from accepting this as his vocation. 
The abyss of the nothing, originating in the jesh me ajin, 
always lies waiting to swallow up the fictitious and perverted 
substitutes which replace reality by the threefold spook. And 
it is good this is so. 

THE DEEP ROOTS OF JEWISH RADICALISM 

A true Jew is always pathetically aware of 
the "unreality" we live in. Such a Jew, in modern garb, 
was Franz Kafka. He had an almost clairvoyant perception 
of the suffocating nothingness that pervades our life. He was 
not pessimistic. He was melancholic. To contrast the actual 
with the potential is the essence of melancholy. The Jewish 
soul always has embraced the two: deep melancholy and ex- 
uberant joy. 

The Jewish feeling of the unreality we live in bears no 
similarity to the fundamental attitude of India's great reli- 
gions, which look at this world here as an illusion (mayo). 
Just the contrary. No hopeless resignation, but unwavering 
hope is the Jewish incentive for life. The feeling of deep 
significance that cries out from all things makes the Jewish 
mind a belligerent mind. Does not everything that exists cry 
to be redeemed from the slavery of the great "No!" There 
is restiveness in the Jew because he is provoked by the out- 
cries of the things that want to come into their still-frustrated 
true significance. And he is tormented by the outcries of the 
lowly for liberation. He understands only too well when it is 



231 The Three Absolute Postulates 

said that "only the lowly can fully grasp the Torah" A 
conscious Jew lives with the breathtaking feeling that "the 
work of creation must be continually renewed by the Cre- 
ator." In other words, all existing things are far from being 
firmly established above the "nothing"; the next moment 
they may very well vanish into the "No" of creation. Yet the 
Jew is not a nihilist; he is the great enthusiast. He wants to 
bring all creatures to their potential perfection and to estab- 
lish firmly the autonomy of a Human Universe. "To estab- 
lish firmly" is the function of the Cohen (the priest). Man 
must be the Cohen of creation. 

The Jewish "No" is not the No of resignation. It is the No 
of rebellion. Once a soul has started on its way to freedom 
from idolatry, it must necessarily become a rebellious soul. 
The non-idolatrous soul does not bow; it challenges what is 
fictitious; it is the persistent intercessor for the oppressed, 
a constantly uproarious element in this world of corruption, 
Conformism, pusillanimity, submissiveness, acquiescence are 
virtues of slavish souls. When Israel left "The House of Bond- 
age," the Jew became "a radical." 

ON THE RADICALISM OF ASKING CERTAIN QUESTIONS 

The Jewish mind is a dialectical mind. Dialec- 
tical thinking is a good way to synthetical thinking, and a one- 
track mind can seldom achieve that. In the clash of conflicting 
ideas there lies hope. The schizophrenia of mankind is too 
great to be cured by half measures. It is not the controversial 
spirit but the mendacity of conformism that endangers man. 
Israel's deadly question: "What is in our midst, what focuses 
us, the Yes or the No of creation?" this is not the simplistic 
doubt of the skeptic. It is the challenge of dialectical think- 
ing. And it is deadly, for it gives rise to Amalek. "Then" 
came Amalek (Exod. 17, 8-9). Rising above the dialectical 
split will stop the destroyer. The Jew has an uncanny con- 
sistency in raising this fundamental, dangerous question, in 
its ever new actual implications. His question persistently 
challenges the nihilism on which old privileges rely. It is the 



CHOOSE LIFE 

issue between the two camps into which mankind is divided 
today. It is at the bottom of the great universal controversies 
in history. It is now the question of mankind facing the 
atomic fire or biological warfare. 

True life is confronted life. Confronted with what? With 
so-called facts? With matter, or with the laws of physics? With 
a mystery? With an indifferent meaningless reality? With the 
devil? With God? Or perhaps with nothing? Perhaps Man is 
alone, all by himself and not confronted with anything? It is 
the greatness of our era that it will no longer accept any de- 
laying answer. 

IS GOD DEAD? YES OR NO? 

No! What does the proclamation: "God is 
dead" want to state? Not only Nietzsche proclaimed that "God 
died/' Atheism had been widely accepted, and mankind was 
quite indifferent towards whether there is a God or not. Life 
today is practically atheistic. What is it, precisely, that we 
have outgrown and discarded? 

The idea that God is only a myth into which we project 
our fears and hopes, our frustrations and consolations, is not 
new, but it has steadily gained momentum. A century ago 
the philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach, wrote alarming books 
contending that God was created by Man, in Man's own im- 
age. To Feuerbach theology is an ideological superstructure 
above our frailties and expressing our wishful dreams. We 
crave compensations for our failures, shortcomings and our 
dissatisfaction with life. 

But there remains the deep mystery: How could human 
nature evolve so sublime a compensation as the idea of God? 
Are not thus the Divine qualities shifted to Man? Not quite, 
for in spite of their sublimity these theological speculations 
are very vulnerable if challenged as mere compensations and 
as superstructures built above our frailties. God as father, as 
succor, as helper, consoler or ruler are images which belong 
to the childhood-stage of human evolution and to a life frus- 
trated by social chaos. These images wither away when 



233 Th e Three Absolute Postulates 

mankind has reached a stage of maturity. Adulthood increases 
the creative initiative of Man. Leaving action and care to 
God is infantile. Responsibility is now with Man and can 
no longer be shifted to "Providence." Instead of relying on a 
supreme fatherhood it is now our human concern to over- 
come childhood timidity by mature initiative. Above all, we 
begin to understand what a more perfect society could do for 
man by alleviating his anxieties at being left to solitariness. 
A perfect community of men would quickly put an end to 
the metaphysical hope for help and guidance as something 
superfluous and even as an obstruction. But the present lack 
of a true human society leaves most people in so abysmal a 
depravity of body and soul that life becomes almost unbear- 
able without the consolations of theology. If poverty, stupid- 
ity, frustrations, escapism, anxieties, all of them bred from 
social chaos, were liquidated, what would then remain of 
the theological compensation! We would not need any sub- 
stitutes for action and for progress. A belief in God, which is 
motivated by human misery, human brokenness and mental 
frustration is doomed. A mature mankind will not surrender 
its freedom of action to God. God wants Man to act. Such an 
abdication of Man would be tantamount to a complete failure 
of humanity. Only he who accepts Man's Divine vocation is 
the true believer in God. 

With Man's determination to abolish misery the theology 
of misery dies. 

"THE OPIATE OF THE PEOPLE" AND THE RELIGION 

WITHOUT ILLUSION 

To see through the philosophical conceptions 
of God is rather complicated. Even such sublimated concep- 
tions as The Eternal, The Absolute, The Unchangeable, The 
First Cause, The Absolute Substance are psychologically and 
sociologically analyzable. It is, therefore, semantically signifi- 
cant that the term "substance" is also used for "capital," from 
which interests are drawn, but the "substance" remains in- 
tact. Any conception of God that is conditioned by social 



CHOOSE LIFE 



frustrations or by the preservation of privileges and vested 
interests is outdated and waning. The Future of an Illusion 
is the title of one of Freud's books, a psychoanalytical chal- 
lenge to religion. Is religion without illusion possible? Could 
we not reverse the Marxist view of religion as ' 'opiate of 
the people" and as "illusions about a condition which 
makes illusions desirable/' and as "the halo of this valley of 
misery'? For what kind of truth would belong to a society 
that does not need illusions? If we had effected the perfect 
community, what would then be "in the midst" of such a 
society? What would be its focus? What would the "Absolute 
Collective" be confronted with? 

Would a full, united, unbroken, uncorrupted society not 
point to a reality that is free from compensatory qualities? 
Does not a reality that is not the idolatrization of property 
and of power images belong to a fully integrated life? Out 
of the midst of such a solidarity of mankind would there not 
emerge a new reality as never before envisaged by the non- 
society? "A new heaven and a new earth?" Such a view is 
clearly visible from the level of Man-Total, but the image- 
thing power aspect will never attain it. In the midst of the 
fully-realized community, of the People, the Thesis of the 
World is fully alive. The People gets its legitimate Name. 
"/ knew thee by Name" (Exod. 33, 17). "The full Name 
over the full world" 

THE HEBREW PROPHETS THUNDER FOR SOLIDARITY AND 

NOT FOR THEOLOGY 

"Thus sayeth God, the God of Israel" so the 
prophets intoned the truth which they brought to the people. 
This truth is eternal truth. It is not a metaphysical or cos- 
mological revelation, such as other religions and theologies 
hold out. The "Attributes of God" as revealed to Mo- 
ses (Exod. 34, 6, 7) are ethical attributes. They are concerned 
with Man and not with metaphysics. The Divine word speaks 
about life and not about what is going on in metaphysical 
realms. The cosmology in the Book of Job is directed against 



235 The Three Absolute Postulates 

cosmology, demanding of Man that he assume his stand above 
nature. Also the first of the thirteen attributes, "God is God," 
does not proclaim any self-identity in the sense of the un- 
changeable self-identity of metaphysical substances. It rather 
says that God will be God under whatever changing forms He 
manifests Himself. It proclaims the persistency of ethical con- 
tinuity. It is not enough to say: "A equals A" (the student of 
modern scientific logic knows that the identity principle be- 
longs to the old Aristotelian, to a predialectical logic, now 
outdated). "Self-identity," this is not the same as "contin- 
uity," has clearly a connotation of thinghood, of ownership. 

That the God who speaks through the prophets is an eth- 
ical and not a metaphysical God becomes still more evident 
in the majestic Name, revealed to Moses (Exod. 4, 14), "7 
Am Who I Am!' More correctly translated, "I will be who 
I will be." This is the most profound rejection of the identity- 
principle. It clearly says that God will appear in ever new 
forms that cannot be anticipated or determined once and for 
all. In all the manifestations still to come God will be God. 
But the forms of His manifestations, His theophanic forms 
cannot be anticipated. This is a guarantee of Man's freedom. 
The assumption that believing in God means giving up 
Man's freedom does not apply to the Hebraic Weltan- 
schauung. 

Our time is blessed to witness the emergence of the New 
Theophany. It will come in the Holiness of the human com- 
munity. It will be focused by "the Name," not by a theology. 
The true community has the "Word." The Word is wide- 
open. It speaks. 

ON THE FRIGHTENING POSSIBILITY OF MANKIND BECOMING 

MUTE 

The theological speculations belong to a pul- 
verized society, incompetent to hear the prophetic word and 
unable to face any confrontation other than fictitious reali- 
ties a state of affairs that has no focus and no possibility 
of an integration. Its reality is the reality of a nightmare. An 



CHOOSE LIFE 

unfocused and aimless mankind is whirled around in grind- 
ing vicious circles, hovering over the rim of the abyss of noth- 
ingness, living on reprieve, frightened to death. The ideolog- 
ical superstructures of the non-society can never attain 
validity. Its "truth" is illegitimate. When it speaks, it lies. 
Mankind is approaching the danger-point of losing speech. 
Man is on the verge of becoming mute. It seems to be so use- 
less to speak. The fundamental words are debased to trade 
labels of cigarettes or beer. Crowd-psychology, skillfully ap- 
plied in so-called psychagogy (that is the use of psychological 
violence), has most successfully blotted out the art of thinking, 
The word has fallen from its glory to utter weakness. Less 
and less genuine words communicate between man and man. 
Truth becomes incommunicable. It is drowned in a deafen- 
ing din. Even the desperate cries of tortured millions grow 
dim and are hardly listened to. Arguing, persuading, protest- 
ing is not only useless; it is an almost obsolete method of 
social intercourse. The two camps of mankind are facing each 
other not in a controversy but in hostility. They shout at each 
other but they do not speak to each other. The controversial 
spirit, this spiritual breathing of Man has been stopped. 
Speech is no longer with Man. And consequently a mute hu- 
manity recurs to brute violence in place of the lost word. 
Violence is the language of speechless Man. 

POSITIVE THEOLOGY VS. NEGATIVE THEOLOGY 

In this dumbness lie the roots of the so-called 
"negative theology" which rejects positive statements about 
God as impossible and even blaspheinic; only what God is 
not, this we can say. Indeed, this is a protest against the il- 
legitimate, venture of "Lo Ami" ("not my people") to 
speak about God. Yet, negative theology overlooks the fact 
that negation as well as affirmation are functions of the hu- 
man mind. Also the "No" is rooted in actual conditions of 
man. Kant rightly stated that existence and non-existence are 
both categories of human thinking. We do not honor God's 
Holiness by saying what He is not. 



237 The Three Absolute Postulates 

The Torah of the Hebrews did not shy away from attach- 
ing "attributes" to God. The attributes are forms of Divine 
manifestations like garments in which the Divine Reality is 
attired. No metaphysical attributes are mentioned. Terms 
such as "absolute" or "eternal" or "in itself" or "unchange- 
able" or "free of all positive qualities" hardly reveal anything 
about God. Nor do these terms have a genuine human sig- 
nificance. This is not so with God's ethical attributes, of which 
the Torah speaks. They are deeply human, although Man 
has not yet lived up to ethical reality. 

Negative theology was right in rejecting the idea that a 
contaminated world can speak about God. But it was wrong 
to reject the world as such. The separation of God World 
Man, accomplished by Jewish philosophy with such determi- 
nation and deep devotion, is far from assuming that God and 
the world cannot meet. This was the fallacy of early Christian 
philosophy, particularly of Gnosticism; to believe that the 
world was not created by God but by an inferior power, the 
"demiurgos" whom it sought to identify with the Jewish 
God. Yet the Shechinah is not contaminated by being present 
in the world. ("He who dwells amidst all their impurity/') 
It is just the active communication between God, Man and 
World that turns Man around towards the world. To be Man 
means to be in the world. This is the challenge of the ethical 
attributes of God. Not that God needs Man, but the God of 
the Zimzum loved Man and wanted to be with Man. The 
deepest reason for the creation of Man is not need but love. 
Not to accept this Divine challenge is "mesquine," is petty. 

A FOOTNOTE TO THE "THEORY OF THE ATTRIBUTES" 

The results of the theory of the attributes, so 
outstanding in the history of philosophy, are threefold. First: 
dividing the attributes into two groups, the ethical attributes 
pointing to a true reality and the metaphysical attributes 
pointing to a fictitious reality. The multitude of qualities 
cannot be put together indiscriminately. Not all of them can 
become "attributes" of God. Only the ethical attributes can. 



238 CHOOSE LIFE 

A fundamental demarcation line is established. (In philoso- 
phical terms: the ontoiogical equality of the given facts is 
suspended.) Second: Although God Man World are ab- 
solutely different, yet they can meet and communicate just be- 
cause of this fundamental diversity. Identity promotes fu- 
sion, but not free ethical communication. The world is not 
alien to God. Nor is Man. (Philosophically: a theory of attri- 
butes of God, Names of God, is possible.) Third: The abso- 
lute difference of God Man World and the correlation of 
the three are not contradictions, but mutual affirmations. 
(Philosophically: Separation and correlation are integrated.) 

POSITIVE FREEDOM VS. NEGATIVE FREEDOM 

The truth that focuses the Founded People is 
a concrete reality, not a set of theoretical propositions, which 
we may accept or reject, just as we like. But would such a 
focus not do away with the freedom of Man? Would it not 
destroy the highest honor bestowed on Man: to be the only 
free being in the universe. It is in Man that the realm of 
necessity, the realm of nature, attains freedom. Man is the 
principle of freedom in the universe. 

The contemporary pattern of the age-old conflict between 
freedom and necessity has carried this problem to the ex- 
treme. It is to the credit of the philosophy of existentialism 
that it is very specific on this issue. Whether there is freedom 
or not depends on whether there is God or not. To affirm 
God with utter seriousness would change our life from top to 
bottom, mentally and morally. But so would a determined 
negation of God. No other alternative can clearly elucidate 
the problem of freedom. Both sides in this controversy are 
sincere. Today the various aspects of existentialism mostly 
take the negative view. They hold that to affirm God means 
to do away with freedom. But what freedom? Freedom from 
what? Freedom for what? 

Freedom is not mere absence of restrictions; it is a positive 
faculty. Negative freedom means to be confronted with 
nothing. This is nihilism. But positive freedom is the 



239 The Three Absolute Postulates 

stronger, the greater the confrontation. The greater the task 
the greater the freedom. A being that is confronted with 
nothing is a spectre. A being that has no other reality than 
his own reality is spiraling into the nothingness of loneliness. 
"Man is" as it was rightly said "not an abstract being 
squatting outside of the world". A being whose actions are 
motivated only by his own desires does not really act. It can- 
not really swing outward, over itself. Such a being is called 
a mamser (bastard) in Hebrew terminology. A mamser has 
no reality beyond himself. He is merely a product of man's de- 
structive impulses, perversities, fallacies, illusions. He has 
only a demoniac reality; he is a spook. But a spook can be 
frightening. 

Our present order of social relationship is a mamser. Even- 
tually it makes a mamser of each of us. A mamser wants nega- 
tive freedom, wants to shake off the call, the vocation, the 
obligation. He who does only what pleases himself is plebe- 
ian, says Goethe. The mamser does not know positive free- 
dom, the freedom that is ready to take over the task of being 
Man. The global despair today is the consequence of this 
nihilism. We refuse to be confronted with infinite Divine 
demands, and so we are confronted with nothing. The 
"nothing" eventually usurps exclusive reality. Instead of 
gaining freedom in the infinite concatenation of all things, 
we want to be left alone. And this is what we call freedom. 
But this is the freedom of the graveyard. 

THE HIGHEST FREEDOM 

is not negative; it is not the absence of any 
confrontation; it is ultimate confrontation with the Name 
that names us with our highest surname. The objection 
raised by the atheistic version of existentialism, contending 
that the existence of God leaves no room for freedom, over- 
looks the basic axiom of Hebraic thought which makes the 
correlation between God and Man a free relation. Every 
causal relation between God and Man suspends the basic prin- 
ciple that the correlation between God and Man is ethical 



24O CHOOSE LIFE 

and not metaphysical. It was the objection of the Jews to Spi- 
noza that he denied freedom in the relation between God and 
Man. There is no place for freedom in his philosophy; what- 
ever exists follows by necessity from the very idea of God, 
just as the geometrical qualities of a triangle follow from the 
concept of the triangle. But in Hebraic thought there is per- 
fect freedom between God and Man. God does not compel or 
predestine Man; verily, God is the condition of Man's free- 
dom. We are free in our decision to accept or to reject God. 
"See, I have set before thee this day, life and good, and death 
and evil" (Deut. 30, 15). The choice is ours. This is the very 
essence of freedom. And as we have seen this basic free- 
dom was never lost. 

It is a specific error of our time that we identify freedom 
with directionlessness. But as long as infinite possibilities are 
open there is chaos but not freedom. Only when one of these 
infinite possibilities has been brought into realization is there 
"world." A. N. Whitehead asserts that God was most Divine 
when He excluded the infinity of possibilities and realized 
only one. Only in a "world," not in a directionless infinity, 
is freedom possible. The nihilist who takes the absence of 
any confrontation for freedom has no more freedom than a 
corpse. Neither is the mamser free. None of them can really 
act. In a mamser-world action is impossible as it is impos- 
sible in the image-world, where only magical performances 
can be achieved, never true action. The prerequisite for posi- 
tive freedom is the human world. 

This true world that belongs to Man has a "place." (God 
is also called "place/') It is precisely this quality of the world, 
this "to have a place/' which makes positive freedom possi- 
ble. An old commentary to a Biblical passage says: "Do not 
read: The words of God were carved (charut) into the stone 
tablets; but read: The words of God were freedom (cheruf) 
on the stone tablets." The stone tablets were the very con- 
dition for freedom. In other words: freedom is a Divine 
call on Man. And because Man fails to be free the wrath 
(ajin) of God is upon him. 



24 1 The Three Absolute Postulates 

Our time is the last hour of an aeon. Decadent philoso- 
phies try to persuade us that we are free only when we are up 
against nothing. A declining order without the stamina to 
envisage mighty goals finds itself vis-a-vis nothing. Its panic- 
stricken victims squabble about definitions of negative free- 
dom, devoid of all significance. The Jew knows that the 
only way out from nihilism is to establish positive freedom. 
And only positive freedom is absolute freedom. 

REVERSING MAN*S PERSISTENT QUESTION 

The nihilism of our despairing social order is 
an offshoot of Man's metamorphosis into a thing. Human- 
ness is delivered up to thingness. Thingness and nothingness 
are twins. Thingness is tied to loneliness, and loneliness is a 
form of thingness. Things are centered in themselves, piled 
up like grains of sand. The decline of Man into thinghood is 
a product of property urges. Man succumbs to the produc- 
tion process and ends up as a commodity. 

One may wonder why the proclamation of the thirteen at- 
tributes of God (Exod. 33) begins with calling out twice the 
Name of God. This is aimed at ethical absoluteness, not at 
any kind of metaphysical self-identity. God is not "the cause 
of Himself" (causa sui}, as Spinoza taught, but the "non- 
cause" (Ungrund), as the great mystic Jacob Boehme, who 
was deeply imbued with Kabbalistic ideas, said. It is not 
that "God loves Himself in infinite love," as Spinoza said. 
Not even God encloses God. God embraces the world (sovev 
kol almim). 

That is why God is called "The Holy One," and also "The 
Holy One of Israel." It is the Biblical Revolution that made 
"Holiness" an attribute belonging solely to God and to noth- 
ing else, thus challenging all things as being unholy and un- 
redeemed. However, all things are destined to be sanctified 
and included in the realm of Holiness. This means every- 
thing must undergo a transformation which is determined 
by the antagonism of Holiness and thingness. To set the two 
against each other creates a most dynamic incentive, the one 



242 CHOOSE LIFE 

established by the Biblical Revolution. Thingness is rooted 
in the acquisitive urges and in the basic schizophrenia of 
Man (Kizuz). And acquisitiveness is akin to self-identical 
loneliness. The God of the Zimzum is not lonely. He "with- 
drew" in an excess of His infinite love to make a place for 
Man next to God. The Zimzum is reflected in the true to- 
getherness of men. Man can also accomplish a Zimzum, a 
human Zimzum, by establishing a place for his fellow-man. 
When we turn away from our nihilistic despair we repudi- 
ate the idolatrization of thinghood into theological specula 
tions. To counteract the nihilistic trend that carries us ever 
further away from the Biblical Revolution we should reverse 
a basic question. We should not ask: what kind of God be- 
longs to our actual world? We should ask: what kind of world 
belongs to God? To our corrupted world belongs the absent 
God, the exiled God. To God, present in the world, belongs 
a world utterly changed. This changed world of social justice, 
free from idolatry murder perversity would go as far be- 
yond our actual world as any conception of an "other- world- 
Kness" ever did. And yet, it would still be the world. Not a 
world that is unfit to exist, stumbling from one collapse into 
another but a world focused by Man, revealing ever more 
clearly its concealed profundity. 

FROM CONFRONTATION TO BROKENNESS 

Man reflects the dialectic tension of the Zim- 
zum. Man's life too is profoundly dialectic, steadily transcend- 
ing itself. Thinghood stifles this faculty of transcending. Hu- 
man nature surrenders to sub-human nature. In Biblical 
terms: Man failed when he was confronted with "the Two 
Trees" in Paradise. Thus his original unbroken unity was 
broken. Hence Man is split. Because of this split Man is weak. 
He compensates for this weakness by viciousness. Man's ba- 
sic schizophrenia, as shown in the mighty Kabbalistic vision 
of the Kizuz (analyzed in a previous chapter of this treatise), 
is an interpretation of his primordial failure. There is a re- 
lation between Zimzum and Kizuz. Without the Divine Dia- 



243 The Three Absolute Postulates 

lectical tension there would be no human dialectical tension. 
But the human dialectical tension digressed into brokenness. 
Therefore human life spins down again and again in a spiral 
of demonization. The vicious circles in which our time 
is trapped reactualize the primal Kizuz. But Man was never 
deprived of his freedom to liberate himself from this deadly 
circle. 

THE SPIRAL OF DEMONIZATION 

And this is the dance-macabre of the three de- 
stroyers of humanity: Idolatry Murder Perversity. 

IDOLATRY 

is leading the dance. God is exiled and the 
work of creation breaks down into the unreality of pictures, 
powers, things. This reactionary process gives rise to a fic- 
titious world. But Jewish truth is revolutionary. It teaches 
that God can be present in the world. In the Divine Presence 
things, powers, pictures pale into specters. In His Presence 
everything is relative. No thing can assume absoluteness. 
And in such a world of relativity a change by human action 
becomes feasible. It is a world destined to become the world 
of Man. Man focuses the world because he alone can pro- 
claim the Name. He names also all beings (Gen. 2. 19, 20), 
giving them their surnames by which they are enhanced to 
occupy their genuine places in the concatenation of all things. 
A later version of such a vision is to be found in the phi- 
losophies of Spinoza and the French philosopher, Malbranche, 
who would have all things seen as from the viewpoint of eter- 
nity. 

The Jew eventually got his surname "Israel" (Gen. 35, 10) 
only at an advanced state of the evolution of the people. To 
the people, and only to the people, the demand is made to 
be Holy. Only the maximal togetherness of men, the Abso- 
lute Collectivity, can reach the plane of Holiness which is 
free from idolatry. And only on the plane free from idolatry 
is true togetherness possible. This is the plane autonomous 



244 CHOOSE LIFE 

in the face of disintegration and death. But Man succumbed 
to the threefold spook. In such a spook-world no action free 
from destruction is possible, only the substitute for action, 
magic. Magic is a form of violence. It is intrinsically 

MURDER 

"Thou shalt not kill" is a wrong translation. 
The commandment is directed against murder. That means: 
depriving a person of his legitimate place, which is provided 
for everyone in the totality of the world. Murder can be com- 
mitted by minor acts other than killing. It can be done by 
unkind acts, by injustice, by humiliating one's fellow man, 
by lies, by neglect. Such murderous acts destroy the higher 
totality where all beings live together peacefully, where each 
has his proper place, because these eternal places do not com- 
pete with each other. In our murderous world one being 
fights the other. Men, things, thoughts, emotions are dislo- 
cated from their genuine place. So, too, is sexuality. And 
whatever is dislocated will soon become destructive like a 
fire that cannot be harnessed to serve men. In such a world 
ethical action becomes ever more impossible, even undesir- 
able. The ethical person is compelled to make compromises 
and give in, if he has not the courage or the stamina for a 
heroic or a tragic life, or possibly to become a martyr. This 
entails the next step in the dance macabre: 

PERVERSITY 

is aimed at stopping human action. The ver- 
tical direction of human evolution is reversed. Growth is 
perverted into retrogression; man is longing to return from 
where he came, back to the mother's womb, back to nature- 
Fear of maturing, fear of his fellow man, fear of knowledge 
dominates man. Satan, the bender backward, determines the 
course of events. This reversal of the upward trend is satanic. 
The stop-mankind tendencies are satanic. This perversity 
is linked with murder, not only accidentally but intrinsically. 
Retrogression is suffocation. The reversal of Man's way leads 



245 The Three Absolute Postulates 

ever deeper Into a legion of unrealities, supplanting what 
is truly human. Life becomes ever deeper entangled with 
that specter-world. This in turn fosters 

IDOLATRY 

True reality is ever more dimmed. Truth is 
looked at as "unrealistic." The Shechinah is exiled and is 
replaced by theological constructions. God becomes a super- 
stition. The Divine dialogue is replaced by hypocritical ver- 
biage. The consequence is the decay of language. Words lose 
their meaning with the withering of the key-words. All human 
dialogue is frustrated. Mankind becomes mute, and a night- 
marish situation develops as in paralyzing dreams, where we 
cry for help, but it is futile, the passers-by paying no attention 
to our anguish. We cringe in the throes of death. Our utter 
despair takes ever more to 

MURDER 

which is idealized, admired. Hate and fear 
become predominant emotions. Thinking is shockingly con- 
cerned with destruction, meaninglessness, wars, and the so- 
called competitive urges, thus creating an atmosphere of 
universal cynicism. This situation in turn intensifies 

PERVERSITY 

Negation and despair stir up new outbursts 
of insanity. Neurotic, psychotic, manic-depressive and schiz- 
ophrenic states of mind become global afflictions. Escapism, 
retrogressions, sex perversions, mendacity disintegrate the 
soul of man. Callousness, dullness, aversion to thinking, 
moral apathy are driving the world with increasing speed to 
a point where the world is void of true reality. "And the 
Lord will give thee a trembling heart and failing of eyes and 
sorrow of mind and thou shalt fear day and night and shalt 
have no assurance of thy life " (Deut. 28. 65-67). The end 
of this dance macabre is annihilation. 



246 CHOOSE LIFE 

POWER MAKES POWERLESS 

Mankind has run into a death-trap. The un- 
speakable tragedy of our present plight is an indication that 
the primordial conflict, as described in the Story of the Para- 
dise, has reached its climax, where no further deferring of 
the ultimate choice between life and death is any longer 
possible. It is the greatness of our time that it enforces the 
showdown. The facts are crude: the release of atomic energy, 
bacteriological warfare, the perversity of psychological war- 
fare, the alarming decay of the incentives for life and for 
work. The attempt to make the world safe for the stop- 
mankind forces has reached its climax. To ensure the status 
quo and to establish the perverted order of life becomes 
tacitly legitimate. No longer can any issues of significance be 
reconciled with each other. The schizophrenia of humanity 
is complete. 

The most blatant paradox is the economic production proc- 
ess. Producing the necessities of life has become a murderous 
affair. What should promote life now promotes death, wars, 
and even plans to wipe out life altogether. What should make 
Man free and independent creates a new exceedingly corrup- 
tive form of serfdom. The production process debases Man 
to a mere tool of the economic factors that gain autonomy 
over the human being. This is the acme of perversion. With 
our technical and scientific power increasing our frustration 
increases too even faster than our progress. The more power 
we wield the more do we become powerless. Never before 
has man been so powerless. Helplessly we stare into the wide 
open death trap. 

Why? We already know the Jewish answer. This unreal 
"reality" of ours liquidates itself time and again. This world 
of powers, things, images cannot but run into vicious circles. 
This murderous, perverted, idolatrous unreality must ex- 
plode itself into nothingness. It is the "world of the shells" 
(k'lipoth}, as the great Kabbalist vision calls it. Empty shells, 
created by Man when he chose death. Empty shells, acquiring 



247 The Three Absolute Postulates 

a satanic reality of their own. Empty shells, engorging the 
genuine realities. It is these shells into which a frightened 
Man crawls to find security in the spook of thinghood and 
ownership: a mamser hiding in the satanic shells. 

THE THREE PRIMORDIAL JUBILANT OUTCRIES 

GOD! MAN! WORLD! These primal words 
are the battle-cry of the Biblical Revolution. They are the 
proclamation that there shall be Man. They are the Holy 
legacy of the Founded People. This proclamation has its 
strangest guarantee in the philosophy of the Founded People. 
This one and only Holy Trinity is abandoned in other phil- 
osophies. In all of these other philosophies one of the Three 
is given up, or the one is fused with the other, or swallowed 
up by the other. Only Jewish thought was able to keep the 
Three apart and yet related: God Man World. 

The unity of the Three is not a metaphysical unity, but an 
ethical unity. This unity is not an identity of substances, made 
out of one and the same stuff. Far from that. Something much 
higher is meant: the unity of togetherness. Identity is in- 
ferior to togetherness. Identity is lifeless. The correlation 
among God Man World, the continuous confrontation 
and challenge, the possibility of unlimited transcending this 
is true life. Inside of the ''Holy People" there the Three meet, 
and there unification occurs. This unity is the true reality 
which eventually will make an end of the mamser-world. 

JEWISH THOUGHT NEVER ACCEPTED THESE MISTAKES: 

God is fused with the world. 

God is nature, nature is God. PANTHEISM Error. 

Man is fused with God. Man is 
drowned in the ocean of deity 
like a drop of water in the sea. 
"To become one with God" as 
the highest goal. MYSTICISM Error. 



CHOOSE LIFE 

Man is drowned in the world, 
Man is a tiny by-product of in- 
finite and eternal nature, Man 
is a mere "natural being." 

The world as dissolved in God, 
The cosmos as vanishing in 
God. 

The world is dissolved in Man. 
The world as a mere product 
of Man's mind, or as a mere 
human perception, 

God is fused with Man. God 
incarnated in Man. Identity of 
God and "the Son of God." 
God humanized, the unique- 
ness of God destroyed, true 
transcendence becomes impos- 
sible. Man closed in, in him- 
self, deeply alone, delivered 
over to death. Subjectivism, 
Autism, Narcissism. 

God Man World kept 
apart in the clarity of Jewish 
thought, but connected in the 
ethical correlation in the to- 
getherness of Absolute Collec- 
tivity. The end of the reign of 
nevuchah (confusion). 



NATURALISM Error. 



ACOSMISM Error. 



IDEALISM Error. 



SOLIPSISM Error. 



TRUTH. 



Almost all philosophies have an exit leading into the realm 
of truth. But none ever went determinedly through this exit. 
The philosophy of the Jews has refused to join the realm of 
confusion. The Jewish Absolutes elevate the Founded People 
above the nevuchah. Truth that is capable of creating 



249 



Three Absolute Postulates 



a people is incapable of not creating a people. Truth is not 
created by Israel, Israel is created by truth. Truth cannot be 
without the Founded People. The Founded People cannot 
be without truth. 



250 

3 
THE HUMAN CONTINUUM 



THE GREAT CONFLUENCE 

The word "continuum" is one of the key- 
words of our time. It is a term taken from contemporary 
physics and mathematics. It means the unity of space and 
time. Or more precisely, the unity of space, time and phys- 
ical events. Until Einstein we used to separate space and 
time as two different entities. And space and time, so we 
held, could be with or without physical things. We did not 
realize that space, time, and bodies are separated only in ab- 
stract thought, but never factually. "The continuum" is the 
Integration of these three into a higher unity. This way of 
thinking is an enormous advance. And it is a method appli- 
cable also to the human world. Our human world, too, is a 
unity. But this unity of all human beings exists only on a 
level higher than that of the life of individuals in this cor- 
rupted atomized society. Just as physics has established such 
a higher plane in the conception of the "continuum/' so Is- 
rael has established the "Human Continuum" in the 
Founded People. 

The Founded People indicates as we have seen the to- 
getherness of God Man World. These three words could 
become the primordial jubilant outcry and battle-cry of the 
Biblical Revolution only because Biblical thought kept these 
three concepts clearly apart and did not allow the three to 
become fused. On the other hand, Biblical thought united 
the three in the highest possible unification: in their ethical 



251 The Human Continuum 

togetherness. This togetherness is reached in the Absolute 
Collectivity of the Founded People. Truth without the people 
remains pallid. The people without truth remains a mere 
crowd. As it was said: "God, Israel and the Torah are One/* 

THE WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT TRUTH 

But where is the people willing to take over 
the truth, which focuses the people? Where is the people 
willing to be a people? We will find a very important clue 
when we analyze the Jewish implications of Marxism. There 
is a component in the system of Marx that is a version of 
Messianism. The Messianic goal is the attainment of social 
justice, of social peace in a perfectly unified society. Such 
society had to be free of all inner frontiers and, most im- 
portant, of all class divisions, which are the severest and most 
fundamental of divisions among men. The guarantors of this 
social transformation are as Marx sees it the "proletar- 
ians." He defines the "proletariat" as the masses "separated 
from the means of production." But one has "to be conscious" 
of the negative and dehumanized character of that situation. 
Such "consciousness" would then be the motivation for a 
"self-negation" of the proletariat. For, in the light of con- 
sciousness the subconscious conditions lose their apparently 
independent reality. Thus the Messianic mission of the pro- 
letariat is prompted, in the Marxian view, by a deficiency. 
So the demand is made "to jump from necessity into free- 
dom." 

The problem arises whether man is ready to choose this 
way by his own free will. A considerable amount of com- 
pulsion seems to be inevitable for pushing mankind along 
this way. But then the deep gap between Messianic and com- 
pulsory action becomes manifest. The Marxist theory 
envisages a "withering away" of the compulsory mechanism 
in the course of the Messianic transformation. But will this 
really happen? Does consciousness of the negative suffice to 
engender creativeness? Can freedom subdue force? If not 
can compulsion create freedom? Will the proletarian not pre~ 



252 CHOOSE LIFE 

fer even small improvements of his lot to a heroic Messianic 
struggle? Is he ready "to take over" the mission assigned to 
him? And should he fail, what would be the reason? Perhaps 
it is not enough to be conscious of one's complete dehuman- 
ization? Perhaps a positive incentive is needed. This might 
be the Jewish way to bring about change. The question re- 
mains whether dissatisfaction or hope is the stronger incen- 
tive. The Jewish hope is both, rebellious and creative. 

IS THE FOUNDED PEOPLE WILLING TO TAKE OVER THE 

MESSIANIC TRUTH? YES! 

This question was already answered by Abra- 
ham. It was answered when the people said: "We shall do 
and hear" (naasse we nishmah). It has been answered 
again and again through the thousands of years of Jewish 
history. It has been answered in their heroic stand against 
never-ending persecutions. They answered this question with 
.the "kiddush ha shem" (the sanctification of the Name by 
giving their lives rather than betray the truth entrusted to 
them). It was answered in the philosophical emanations of 
the Jewish spirit down the millenia. When the Jews failed it 
was because they were overwhelmed by the immediacy of the 
Divine call. They succumbed to the severity of the task. But 
before long they returned to their eternal theophoric destiny. 
They repented. The determined fought the wavering. They 
rejected a doctrine like St. Paul's: Man is too weak to fulfill 
the Divine Commandments; we need a mystical redemption. 
The failures of the Jews rather were stages in their education. 
There was progress even in their weakness ('And the people 
did not answer Elijah's question" Kings 18, 21. And "Let 
us be like all the nations." Samuel i. 8, 5. The relapse into 
idolatry! The Golden Calf. Exod. 32). He who has gone 
through severe tests may have a better chance for self- 
realization than he who was never exposed to challenging 
alternatives. This is the reason why a famous tenet places 
those so high who, by their own free decision, have returned 
from the wrong path (teshuvah). 



253 The Human Continuum 

NOT THE PEOPLE FAIL THE PROCLAMATION OF TRUTH 

FAILS 

Only the prophets have a right to scold the 
people, for what they proclaim is absolute truth. He who 
holds out only a half-truth or a petty advice should not expect 
that the people will be willing to accept it. Nor should he be 
indignant if he fails to win the people over. It is not the 
people who are to blame if there is no willingness to accept 
the truth. It all depends on the legitimacy of the call. People 
are longing for truth that will give meaning to their lives. 
But they want their legitimate questions answered before 
they are ready to devote their lives to an ideal. First: A truth 
must be a great truth, a truth focused and simple. Second: It 
must be a practical truth with implications in the actual life 
of the people. Third: It must be a positive truth, a hope, a 
promise, a vision. It is not enough to be merely "against" 
something, even against a great evil. When these suppositions 
are given, then there will be a keen readiness "to take over/' 
To dash our hopes the skeptic and the pessimist may point 
to the frailties of so many Jews. But he overlooks that an 
aggregation of individual Jews is not yet the Jewish people. 
The Divine truth is addressed to The People. The detached 
Jew cannot hear it. 

WHAT IS THE SIN OF THE PEOPLE? 

Does all this mean that the people are blame- 
less? No. It only means that they sin, not actively, but pas- 
sively. Their failures and fallacies are predominantly rooted 
in the condition of their subconscious life, not in overt vicious 
intentions. Their faults are rather unconscious. The sin of 
the people is their infantilism. It is not bad intentions which 
obstruct us; it is rather our fixation to the subhuman abysses 
of the substructure. It will be helpful to look at the substruc- 
ture from the viewpoint of Jewish psychology. One of the 
basic functions of the Biblical Revolution is as we have seen 
to detach man from the substructure. An enormous amount 



254 CHOOSE LIFE 

of evolutionary dross must be discarded. The impurity 
(tumah), originating in Man's primal schizophrenia, must 
be weeded out. This process is complicated because there is 
a threefold substructure. The following scheme may help to 
clarify some principles of Jewish psychology. 

SOME PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH 
PSYCHOLOGY 

THE THREEFOLD DETACHMENT FROM THE 
SUBSTRUCTURE OF LIFE 

The Threefold Jewish "No" 

Perversity Murder Idolatory 

Images Powers Things 

Backwards Beyond In itself 

The Three Animal Instincts 

Propagation instinct: Fighting instinct: Acquisition in- 
To be integrated. To be sublimated. stinct: 

To be eliminated. 

The Three Negative Instincts 

INERTIA HATE FEAR 

Directionlessness. Otherworldliness. Weakness. 

No action. Morosity. No insight. 

No inter-connection. 

The Three Vicious Circles of the Closed Soul 

THE CIRCLE OF THE CIRCLE OF THE CIRCLE OF 

GROWTH PLENTY CONSCIOUSNESS 

Growth obstructs Power makes powerless* Consciousness 
growth because The more of plenty the frustrates con- 
of maturity-fear. less mastery of it. Plenty sciousness, in- 
breeds scarcity and wars, creasing the 

basic split. 



255 The Human Continuum 

SOME PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH 
PSYCHOLOGY (continued) 

The Three Substructures 

THE COSMO- THE PSYCHO- THE SOCIO- 

SUBSTRUCTURE SUBSTRUCTURE SUBSTRUCTURE 

Nature: Complexes: The People: 

mathematical, demonic, para- real, but unre- 

relative. lyzing. deemed. 

To be harnessed. To be analyzed. To be realized. 

THE JEWISH PSYCHOLOGY BEYOND PSYCHOLOGY 

The threefold aspect of the substructure of 
life demands a threefold mental reaction: Integration Sub- 
limation Elimination. 

1) Integration is the method to be applied to the cosmo- 
substructure, the realm of nature, to which belong the prop- 
agation urges. As already pointed out, the sex urges are dis- 
located because of the disintegration of man as a focused 
person. Integration presupposes a wholeness into which some- 
thing can be integrated. Sex urges, if detached, remain mere 
natural forces and are akin to death that is, to the death of 
man as a person. 

2) Sublimation presupposes the totality of human soli- 
darity into which destructive urges, i.e., fighting urges, can 
be channeled for constructive purposes. Even destructive 
urges could be ennobled if social solidarity were attained. 

3) Elimination means to outgrow and to discard condi- 
tions which are infantile. Scarcity is social infantilism. When 
plenty is mastered and has become normal, then the acquisi- 
tion urges will wither away. The acquisitive behavior pattern 
is an offshoot of the nutrition urges. They will become ata- 
vistic when mankind has reached the level of abundance, 
which is the legitimate level of man. 

Detachment from the substructures will be necessary when 
people are ready to live up to truth. Their hesitation is 
a psychological frustration, rooted in fixations. But psycholog- 



256 CHOOSE LIFE 

ical problems cannot be solved on the psychological plane. 
Psychology must be developed to a point where it goes beyond 
psychology. This will be possible when our emotional and 
instinctive life has been implanted in the unity of the 
Human continuum. 

Any kind of psychologism, so popular today, merely keeps 
men's conflicts inside of that sterile introspective privacy 
called "psychology/' Jewish psychology always has known full 
well that psychology is not enough. This is also one of the 
reasons why the Jews objected to the psychologism of Chris- 
tianity. 

The people, liberated from their fixations to the substruc- 
ture, will be ready to accept truth. The argument may come 
up that the people of Israel denied themselves even to the 
prophets. Yet the era of the prophets was that period in Jew- 
ish history when the process of constituting a people was still 
in the making. Nevertheless, the prophets achieved a trans- 
formation of the people more profound than had ever been 
experienced before. But there is still a long way to go until 
we will have reached the stage of the "Human Continuum/ 1 

We shall now tabulate some principles that constitute the 
Founded People. (The scheme is arranged according to the 
Hebrew pattern. The right side is the side of mildness, the 
left the side of strength.) 

TRUTH THAT FOCUSES THE FOUNDED 

PEOPLE 

TRUTH THAT BECOMES INDIVISIBLE AND CONCRETE 
INSIDE THE FOUNDED PEOPLE 

Truth That Negates the Negation 

THE THREEFOLD JEWISH BARRIER AGAINST THE ABYSSES OF 
NOTHINGNESS 

The Three Absolute Distinctions 
World Man God 



257 The Human Continuum 

TRUTH THAT FOCUSES THE FOUNDED 
PEOPLE (continued) 

The Three Steps of Reality 
Redemption Revelation Creation 

The Three Absolute Prohibitions 
Perversity Murder Idolatry 

The Three Primordial Moments 

Shevirah Kizuz Zimzum 

The Demonization The Adamic The Divine 
of Nature Collapse Transcendence 

The Three Primordial Destructions 

Corrupted Broken Negated 

(Verdorben) (Zerbrochen) (Verleugnet) 

The Three Basic Escapes 
Backwards Inward Beyond 

The Three Supreme Slaveholders 

The Powers The Things The Images 

(Die Maechte) (Die Sachen) (Die Bilder) 

The Three Basic Hiding-places 
The Arts Property Metaphysics 

The Three Substitutes for Action 
Spiritualism Magic Animism 

The Three Basic Confusions 
Naturalism Mysticism Pantheism 



258 CHOOSE LIFE 

TRUTH THAT FOCUSES THE FOUNDED 
PEOPLE (continued) 

The Three Deadly Errors 
The absolute Nature The lonely Self The abstract God 

The Three Basic Short-Circuits 

The wrong Origin. The wrong Way. The wrong Beyond. 
Nature is not the The Way to Re- God is not the 
Origin demption is not Beyond 

mystical but his- 
torical 

The Three Closed Hearts 

Ascetic. Autistic. Aesthetic. 

The Fool The Owner The Unconcerned 

(Der Narr) (Der Besitzer) (Der Gleichgilltige) 

The Three Basic Diseases 

Fixation Schizophrenia Neurosis 

(Infantilism) (Sadness) (Fear) 

The Three Deep Anxieties 

Man's Finiteness Man's Loneliness Man's Nothingness 
The Three Frauds of the Intermediaries 

Images of Nature Images of the Soul Images of the eco- 
(Naturbilder) (Seelenbilder) nomic production 

process 
(Warenbilder) 

The Three Paralyzing Lies 

The Laws of Nature The class-Society Human Nature 
are unchangeable is unchangeable is unchangeable 



259 The Human Continuum 

TRUTH THAT FOCUSES THE FOUNDED 
PEOPLE (continued) 

The Three Adversaries 

Satan Enosh Avadon 

(The Bender Back- (Fainted Man- (Absolute Perdi- 
ward) kind) tion) 

The Three Demonic Barriers 

The Image Barrier The Incest Barrier The Property Barrier 
The Three Redeeming Metamorphoses 

The Powers into The Things into The Images into 
scientific Words social Words Divine Words 

The Three Steps Towards Humanness 

Detachment from The Redemption Reaching the 
Nature of Action People 

"AND THOU SHALT SET BOUNDS UNTO THE PEOPLE ROUNB 

ABOUT" (EXOD. 19, 12) 

This is the word that came to Moses in the 
desert when he prepared the people for the frightful hour of 
the Divine Revelation. Revelation is not, as is commonly 
imagined by our psychologized civilization, the product of a 
few geniuses, but they are the product of revelation. It is the 
revelation that constitutes the people. As in the fire of a forge 
the Founded People is hardened by the truth, welding them 
into an indissoluble unity. The "barrier against nothingness" 
surrounds the people. And there is also the barrier that pre- 
vents the people "from breaking through to God and many of 
them perish." This means that fusion with God would deprive 
the people of swinging outwards over themselves. Although 
the Divine focus is "in their midst," they themselves are 
not the Divine reality. And precisely this has made them the 
ever-transcending group. 



260 CHOOSE LIFE 

THE PERPLEXED JEW 

Detached from the people the individual Jew 
becomes mentally disintegrated and emotionally unbalanced. 
Whereas the Gentile, detached from the group or the nation 
that conditions him, gains in strength as an individual person. 
He may even elevate, liberate, perhaps dissolve his group. 
So the way of the Jew is the contraposition but also the com- 
plement of the Gentile way. The ever-recurring Jewish exo- 
dus through the centuries is a gradual emancipation from 
those ephemeral groupings, which the Gentile too should 
overcome. Gentile cultures, quite legitimately, widen up into 
universal cultures. The universality of the Jew should have 
the accent on the dimension of profundity rather than on 
generality. Deeper and ever deeper must he penetrate into 
the innermost of the Founded People. That is why a Jew, 
divorced from his people is like a leaf falling from the tree, 
becoming so problematic that he perplexes the world and 
even himself. 

GREATER THAN THE WHOLE 

What kind of togetherness, then, is the 
founded togetherness? And what is it not? It is not a kind of 
friendship or love or common purpose or common functions. 
Nor is it a collectivity, enforced by a system that is superim- 
posed on the individual person like the state or the church. 
Nor is it a "natural" togetherness like the ties that bind 
horses, dogs, fish into the inescapable fate of their species. 
Neither is it the "whole," the totality of "all" Jews that makes 
Israel. In the "whole" there is no freedom. And in the "natu- 
ral" groups or in the species the individual is submerged. 
Inter-relation among single individuals is transitory and 
limited. Between the Jew of the Yemen and the Jew in New 
York are few immediate bonds. The actual patterns of their 
daily life are exceedingly diverse. Mere individual relations 
even in the same sphere of life reach only limited together- 
ness. 



261 The Human Continuum 

To integrate a people into a genuine unity a supreme prin- 
ciple is needed. Already the Scriptures tell us how it bordered 
on the impossible to mould the "stiff-necked people." Organ- 
izing the Jews was always a paradoxical undertaking. And 
just therein lies the guarantee against forming an inferior 
collectivization. The unity of Israel is attainable only on the 
maximal plane of humanness. But on this highest plane Man 
can really meet and actually do so. Because of the absence 
of true solidarity men live on the level of fallacious collec- 
tivities. In other words: men never really meet, they never 
really address their fellow-men, and nobody ever gets a 
proper answer. In their utter loneliness men are helpless and 
eventually become vicious. Everybody is everybody's foe. A 
group of merely "coordinated" individuals is a group that 
will be consumed by internal hostilities. But whenever the 
Founded People live up to its true destiny, a way is always 
opened to the self-realization of all mankind* 

No mode of human togetherness unrevolutionized by the 
principles of the Biblical Revolution is able to bring about 
a unification of mankind. It is either too weak or too transi- 
tory or too inferior. All collectivities of men on the plane of 
nature are sub-human or pre-human. This includes also the 
idea of the "whole" if it is merely a mechanical unification 
and not a free ethical togetherness. The highest point that 
nature can reach is only a starting point for Man. Where na- 
ture ends Man begins. Nature is a river falling into Man. 
This is the Jewish axiom: The cosmological maximum is the 
sociological minimum. 

IS ISRAEL A CORPUS MYSTICUM? 

The answer is a decided No, if we understand 
by this term a non-earthly, metaphysical togetherness. Yet 
Israel ever was and ever will be a human togetherness. And 
as a human community Israel reaches a point where we are 
justified in applying the term "mystic" in a particular sense. 
Mysticism was rejected in our (tabulated) scheme of the 
barriers against nothingness because mysticism teaches fusion 



S62 CHOOSE LIFE 

of God and Man as possible and desirable, a most abject idea 
to Jewish thought. However, let us look closely at the idea of 

"fusion," which means "to become one with ." As the 

mystic sees it, we can "become one" with God, or with nature, 
or with the one substance void of all particular qualities, the 
substance that underlies the diversity of all things, or with 
the ocean of subconscious life, or with "all mankind," al- 
though this last may pertain only to the Platonic "idea" of 
humanity. All this may happen when man is in a state of 
ecstasy. Such ecstasies are alien to Jewish life; we find them 
only occasionally mentioned. Neither the Founding Fathers, 
nor Moses, nor the prophets, nor the great philosophers of 
Israel got their revelations in ecstatic fits. They reached the 
highest elevation in a state of extraordinary clarity of mind. 

None of these mystical attitudes is acceptable to the Jew. 
They are common in the various religions East and West. 
However, there is an element of truth in the idea of "fusion," 
or "mystical participation" if this is confined to the mystical 
union of MEN. Human beings can be fused into a unity. 
Thus human fusion is the only legitimate fusion wherein 
men need not give up their identity. But in this fusion they 
may very well give up their own confines, in which they are 
encrusted. 

Thus human mystical fusion establishes a new, a higher 
realm of unity and integration that cannot be experienced on 
any lower level. When animals fuse into the uniformity of 
the species, such animal collectives remain conditioned by 
inexorable fate. No species crocodiles, sparrows, lions, bees 
and whatnot, would ever be capable of any free action, con- 
ceptionally and ethically planned. Animals, conditioned by 
their species, know nothing of action, only of reaction, re- 
flexes to stimuli. But alas is not man still all too near to 
these actionless collectivities! And even when he acts it is 
tied up with so much destruction, oppression, violence that 
it remains demonic like the forces .of nature. Action is still 
unredeemed. It will be redeemed in the action of that human 
togetherness, which has reached the state of the sole, legiti- 



263 The Human Continuum 

mate mystical fusion. And this Is the legitimate Corpus Mys- 
ticum! 

Such a perfect solidarity on the maximal level would be 
an irresistible might. It would be capable of non-demonic 
action. It would liberate Man from his frustrations and his 
powerlessness. It is said: "And the whole people answered 
with one voice" (Exod. 19, 8). 

ISRAEL REACHES THE HUMAN CONTINUUM 

The word "continuum" is as already pointed 
out a key word of our time. It comes from modern physics 
and means the integration of space and time into a higher 
unity. Space and time do not disappear in this unification; 
they only reveal new aspects of their nature which have never 
been manifest in their state of separation. And so it is with 
men. New sides of human nature become revealed when men 
are integrated into a higher unity. The criterion for a 
"higher" unity is that it intensifies and enhances everyone. 
Unity of the highest order is needed to reveal what Man 
really is. The present modes of human association are either 
frail or negative, either ineffective or destructive, or mere 
functional transitory expediencies. 

"Connection" was always a very difficult problem of phil- 
osophy. Connection presupposes a "whole," a totality where 
it can occur. Only with the help of the "whole" can "parts" 
be connected. The difficulty which confronts Darwinism 
provides a good example. Darwinism maintains that all 
species are variable, that one can go over into another and 
that there are transitions which connect them. But this is a 
highly controversial view, disputed by modern biology. The 
Scriptures, on the other hand, hold that the species are stable. 
But if this is so, how could they be connected with one an- 
other in the course of the evolutionary upsurge? They could 
be connected just as the steps of a staircase are connected 
because all of them belong to the staircase as a whole. In 
Darwin's view one step produces the next higher one. In the 
Hebraic view which coincides with some advanced contem- 



264 CHOOSE LIFE 

porary biological theories all stages or steps emerge from 
the ever-present whole of the evolutionary process. The to- 
tality of evolution must always be included if we are to under- 
stand how "the parts" are connected. All species are branches 
on the "biological tree'' in its wholeness, and no single branch 
or any interrelation of the branches can be understood with- 
out the "tree." 

In other words: to connect "two/' a "third" is always 
needed. To synchronize two clocks we need a third clock. 
The dualistic philosophies are in the same predicament. It 
is, for instance, quite impossible for dualism to answer the 
question how are "body and soul" or "matter and spirit" 
connected? Even to understand how individuals are connected 
a higher dimension is always needed. Therefore, as pointed 
out, the key to great problems is not to be found where they 
actually occur, but on a higher plane. This is why the best 
way to solve a problem is to outgrow it. This is why the pres- 
ent global situation seems so hopeless. All exits are closed 
on the plane of the status quo, which panic-stricken power 
groups try to maintain. 

Integration, connection, unification need a higher "field" 
in which "to emerge." Each of such higher fields has auton- 
omy against the lower field; that means a certain superiority 
and independence as regards the lower planes. Ideas along 
these lines were developed by the Spanish-Jewish philosopher 
Solomon Ibn-Gabirol. He showed that each state of existence 
is, as it were, matter or raw material in relation to a higher 
state, and each higher level is formative toward the lower 
level. (The "autonomous field" of modern science.) Matter 
therefore is a mere relation, a perspective view, not an in- 
trinsic quality of things. Before God everything is matter 
(a very interesting version of materialism). 

The highest autonomous field we know is the "Founded 
People." Nothing can overtake it. It is focused by truth. It 
carries the "Name." (The theophoric people.) The Name 
of Humanity is Israel. Humanity is the supreme autonomous 
field. On no lower plane will the solution of the human trag- 



265 The Human Continuum 

edy be found. It is only in the Human Continuum that action 
will emerge which is effective and not demonic. This is the 
true meaning of the famous statement: "Redemption conies 
from the Jews." Because the Human Continuum is inde- 
structible it may be able to destroy the destruction; it may 
be able to conquer even death. 



VI 

The, Redemption of Action 

THE ULTIMATE PROMISES OF THE 
BIBLICAL REVOLUTION 



THE EMERGENCE OF THE THEOPHANIC STAGE 

MAN TO INHERIT THE UNIVERSE. 
THE STAGE OF MASTERED PLENTY 

REACHING THE AUTONOMOUS STAGE 
ABOVE DEATH 

THE REDEMPTION OF ACTION 



269 



1 

THE EMERGENCE OF THE 
THEOPHANIC STAGE 



MAGNANIMITY VS. PUSILLANIMITY 

The Jewish promises are so great that they 
look like Utopias. Yet a Utopia can be the strongest incen- 
tive for action. The decay of the incentives for work and for 
life are a most disturbing sympton of a global disease. Men 
are driven to act out of fear, hunger, sexuality, petty ambi- 
tions and vanity. The higher incentives have become ineffec- 
tive, and even an object of mockery. Fewer and ever fewer 
find themselves parts of a totality that is inspirational, activat- 
ing them for higher goals rather than making them settle 
down in smug complacency. Youthful enthusiasm is replaced 
by cynicism. A global confusion and a universal despair break 
down the soul in rapidly increasing psychoses. And no remedy 
can be offered because there are no mighty visions to stimu- 
late higher incentives, to kindle a new enthusiasm. The goals 
are lacking in universality and purity; they cannot focus 
people into a true unity, into an "AM." And like grains of 
sand in a storm all are whirled around, aimlessly, concerned 
only with protecting themselves against annihilation. A gen- 
uine community is not available now, so chaos is the conse- 
quence. But the Jewish promises might be powerful enough 
to rekindle the incentives, without which Man cannot survive. 
It is just the magnitude of the Jewish promises that guarantee 
their realization. They, alone, may succeed in smashing 
through the first barrier inertia and pusillanimity. 



27O CHOOSE LIFE 

THEOPHANY AND NOT THEOLOGY 

Revelation, as the Hebraic view sees it, is not 
a mere subjective elevation of great minds; it is the emer- 
gence of a higher plane of existence. The evolution of reality 
goes through stages. There are three, as the Scriptures say: 
Creation Revelation Redemption. Each represents a higher 
plane of existence. Higher, because in each of the three the 
"Name" becomes manifest with ever greater intensity and 
clarity. This everlasting theme of Hebraic thought was re- 
cently taken up by the late philosopher Franz Rosenzweig 
(although he was somewhat too dependent on post-Kantian 
German philosophy and its metaphyscial terminology). His 
central thesis is: "God is with greater gravity the Redeemed 
than He is the Revealer, and with greater gravity the 
Revealer than He is the Creator." Herein lies also the reason 
for the ever-changing forms of the Divine Presence. The the- 
ophany is always new. Ever new theophanic planes emerge. 
The theophany for us today cannot be the same as that which 
came to Abraham or to the prophets. The emerging new 
theophany will be according to our present condition. It will 
occur in the midst of the emerging community of mankind. 
And it will certainly not be a theology. The Jewish promise 
is not to add one more catechism to the library of church 
catechisms. It is not concerned with a set of metaphysical 
axioms. It is concerned with a most concrete event: with the 
completely new alignment of all existing phenomena around 
a new focus; with the complete disappearance of the fictitious 
focus of the "threefold spook"; with the transformation of 
life from opacity into transparency; with the possibility of 
uttering the "Name." 

It is said: "All countenances of the King are hidden in the 
abyss of tenebrosity." But if the "Name" is rightly used for 
uniting the lower and the higher world, then the darkness 
will be split and the countenance will appear (the the- 
ophanies) and not withdraw. The Zohar, commenting on 
Psalm 22, says that David prayed God should not ascend 



s?7 1 The Emergence of the Theophanic Stage 

too high and so abandon Israel. In whispering prayers Israel 
talks with God binding Israel to the Holy One. Not for one 
single hour should Israel cease cleaving to God, never allow- 
ing as it were that He withdraw into too remote heights. 
This is called "the secret of the indestructible connection." 
The theophanic revelation aims at a concrete change, not 
only at a different interpretation of an unchanged mamser- 
world. When men unite in genuine togetherness, this will be 
the signal of a new theophany. 

THE COMMERCIALIZED GOD THE IDOLATRIZED COMMERCE 

The severity of the religious crisis cannot be 
understood without an analysis of one great problem: How 
could Marxism assume the character of a religious creed? 
Like most very controversial questions this, too, is obscured. 
But it must be faced. Least of all should a sincerely religious 
person evade this issue. 

Marx gives us a clue in his well-known statement that so 
far the philosophers have only interpreted the world, while 
what is needed is to change the world. It is this accent on 
concrete change which fascinates people. It is the tough con- 
creteness of a far-reaching Utopia that rekindles the burnt- 
out incentives for life. Touching the point where it comes to 
concrete change is always as much a fascination as it is a 
challenge. And this is also the point where the deepest roots 
of an impatient revolutionism and a passionate Messianism 
meet. It is a new theophany and not a theology that men are 
looking for. 

The cause of the religious decay as pointed out is the 
superseding of the Biblical Revolution by theological fictions, 
which eventually lose their hold on Man's mind. In Hebraic 
enlightenment these fictions are unmasked as the idolatrized 
images of fear, escape, aggression, resistance against change, 
egotistic self-protection, autism, death-wishes, inability for 
togetherness, absence of love for man. Scrutinizing why just 
these negative sides of human nature supply the raw material 
for idolatrization, we see how the inhumanity of these urges 



272 CHOOSE LIFE 

unmasks the inhumanity of the idolatrization urges. They, 
in turn, unmask the nature of the objects, which lend them- 
selves so readily to be idolatrized. 

The satanic involution of mankind into thinghood cannot 
tolerate anything that would be superior to it. We have en- 
countered already the fallacious argument that the Sabbath 
can hardly be kept any longer because of the clash with eco- 
nomic interests. As if the Sabbath was not created for the 
very purpose of establishing an order that is superior to all 
work! As if the Sabbath restrictions did not aim at the limita- 
tion and relativization of the production process even at the 
expense of economic interests! The Sabbath, as it were, limits 
even the work of creation and establishes the higher realities 
of revelation and redemption. But the adversary must try 
to usurp the place of true reality and must lower Man be- 
neath the process of production for the subsistence of life. 
Man had to be debased to this state of utter depravity by the 
idolatrization of the commercial incentives. The image of 
the commercial values was enthroned as the focus of a 
mamser-world, safeguarding itself against the revolutionary 
inroads of a new theophany. 

THE COUNTENANCE OF MOSES AND THE COUNTENANCE OF 

ANTI-REALITY 

With the appearance of the new theophany 
change will come and it will go to the very root of what we 
call "reality." "Real" is a term we apply to the things and to 
the powers; and also to images which we enthrone as "real." 
This is sometimes done in profound philosophical specula- 
tions. The philosophies of the Far East have developed ideas 
of absoluteness that grew out of the attitudes of non- 
attachment and non-action. These philosophies were inter- 
preted (in this treatise) as infantile because they were prob- 
ably untouched by the Biblical Revolution. With the Hebraic 
principles intruding now into the Far East via social and 
scientific influences the test will be made whether this ancient 



273 The Emergence of the Theophanic Stage 

mentality has any chance to endure. Very little may be test- 
proof. 

On the theophanic plane our conceptions of what we call 
reality will melt away. There is not the same reality in the 
fruit-tree of our dreams of the night and in that in the 
farmer's yard, or that of the biologist or the physicist, or of 
the neutral onlooker, or of an insane person to whom the 
tree may seem to be a monster with threatening arms. The 
"reality" of the phenomena will be changed like the face of 
Moses when he descended from Mount Sinai after God had 
talked with him. As it is described, the face of Moses radiated 
light, reflecting the light of the Divine Reality (Exod. 34, 29- 
35). But the faces of men are still somber, reflecting the 
darkness of abysmal anti-reality. Divine Reality is Kadosh 
(Holy), is Tamin (Whole, United) and Tahor (Pure, free 
of Tumah}. Holiness is elevated above everything, tran- 
scending but also present, and not in a Beyond. This imma- 
nent transcendence is, as we have seen, the meaning of Holi- 
ness in the Hebraic sense of the term. Holiness is antagonistic 
to thinghood; God can never become an "object." Things are 
still contaminated by social corruption. Therefore, nothing 
can be transparent. Reality remains obscured behind the 
"veil of things" (Bergson). "To be real" is rather an anticipa^ 
tion of a world to come, of the emerging world (Olam ha ba). 
The phenomena of which the world consists are placed, so 
far, in a framework of unreality, even of anti-reality. 

SHALOM. THE THEOPHANIC PEACE 

Peace cannot come unless Total Change 
comes. Says the great logician Wittgenstein: To change facts 
means "that the whole must wax or wane," The theophanic 
change challenges also the most fundamental of all functions, 
for which we use the word "to be," "to be real," "to exist." 
The conception of reality can be totally perverted by idol- 
atrous behavior-patterns. As pointed out: according to He- 
braic thought, reality is not a quality that belongs to truth 



274 CHOOSE LIFE 

as well as to corruption. "To exist' ' is not a general function 
attributing to everything the basic property "to be real/' 
Existence is a conception deeply imbued with ideas of thing- 
hood; and things can be owned. What exists can potentially 

be owned. But Divine Reality cannot, and moreover need 

not be owned, because the reality emerging on the the- 
ophanic plane is an ever-present reality. It is not an absent 
or intermittent reality on the scarcity level of social corrup- 
tion. The Hebrew tenet holds true: with everything we con- 
sume now, we have used up part of our share in the world to 
come. This is a most profound statement and concerns the 
intrinsic absurdity of existence. Up to now there is no "some- 
thing" that would be legitimate. The "nothing" holds the 
priority. This basic paradox will disappear on the theophanic 
level. 

The very conception of "to be" will then be fundamen- 
tally changed. The thinghood-character of existence will 
vanish. The laboring in the employment of this anti-reality 
will be lifted from all the things. Consequently the element 
of power will become unnecessary. Power is only a compen- 
sation and not a cure for weakness. And since power is the 
root of insanity, the path to mental and psychological sanity 
will then be open. From the sanity of Israel advice will come 
on how to heal the basic schizophrenia of Man. With the 
basic schizophrenia gone, the social schizophrenia will also 
disappear. The cure of the basic and of the social schiz- 
ophrenia will be mutually helpful. The vicious circle of 
"growth stops growth" will be reversed into an affirmative 
circle. When the unification of mankind becomes the irresist- 
ible will of positive Man, the "stop-mankind" obstruction of 
negative Man will be crushed. The affirmative circle will re- 
volve around the "Jechidah of Humanity," the unbroken 
oversoul of humanity, this highest of all created beings. 

The unbroken soul is joyful. "Soul" is essentially a state 
of joy. Soul is just another word for man's joy. It is said: "The 
Shechinah does not dwell in sad souls.' 1 Therefore the the- 
ophany of the Shechinah, returning from exile, will not occur 



275 The Emergence of the Theophanic Stage 

as long as our sadness prevails. The idolatrous mind is the 
sad mind. Only the joyful mind can be a peaceful mind. Said 
the prophets: there will be no peace for "negative Man" 
(Isaiah 57, 21), because he cannot but lie when he says 
"peace." The Jewish promise that the exile of the theophoric 
outcast will end is the promise that also the exile of Man will 
come to an end. Thus it is a promise to all outcasts and the 
hope for the lowly. It is the legitimate promise of Peace. 



276 



2 

MAN TO INHERIT THE UNIVERSE. 
THE STAGE OF MASTERED PLENTY 



TO MAKE A LIVING IS MORE AMAZING THAN 

the miracle of dividing the waters of the Red 
Sea/' so goes a Jewish saying. The wisdom and the irony of 
this sentence is an outcome of Israel's bitter age-old expe- 
riences. The Jewish mind, a mind never befuddled by ideol- 
ogies that cover up social chaos, has long been conscious of 
the complete inner absurdity of the economic fundament of 
modern life. The passionate mental clarity of the Jews has 
always understood why man in his struggle for the economic 
basis of his existence was whirled around in an exitless vi- 
cious circle. The Jew has always known this was an innate 
disease of social patterns, doomed again and again in the 
* 'spiral of idolatry perversion murder." 

Men in previous periods of history could easily be per- 
suaded that ' 'poverty comes from God," that scarcity is the 
normal destiny of humankind, and that to master abundance 
was no more man's business than to master earthquakes, hur- 
ricanes, epidemics. Such a belief could be sustained in the 
pre-technical and pre-scientific ages, which only recently 
ended. The first decades of the nineteenth century were still 
almost pre-technical. In our era the broad masses doubt 
whether scarcity is really "natural and unchangeable/' The 
more infantile ages could run a scarcity-economy and even 
accomplish a relative stabilization of such a pattern of 
society. But with the advance of science and technology the 



277 The Universe Inherited. The Stage of Mastered Plenty 

old scarcity-society is irrevocably upset. Scarcity becomes 
mere backwardness, superfluous drudgery, an anachronism. 
But simultaneously we are utterly incapable of mastering the 
abundance we have learnt to release. 

The discord between our scientific, technological evolution 
and our ethical and social immaturity is so flagrant there is no 
need of describing it here*. This discrepancy is an alarming 
symptom of the global disease. This gap between our ethical 
and our technical faculties is rapidly widening. And the be- 
wildered man of our apocalyptic time is harnessing his most 
glorious faculties against himself. Horror-stricken, he is pre- 
paring for his self-annihilation. 

The most natural activity of man, to produce what he needs 
for a living, has become the most problematic. Plenty 
becomes a nightmare. A good crop can be a misfortune. To 
create life is to destroy life. Ever faster the production process 
is spinning into a spiral of annihilation. 

WHEN? ON THEOPHORIC MATURITY 

The inevitable debacle of the perversity that 
makes an absurdity of life does not come as a surprise to the 
Jew. The genius of Israel has so often witnessed the crises of 
this perversity and how the many patterns of culture never 
survived that critical moment. With a trembling heart the 
Jew also knows that this time the crash signals a relentless 
showdown. Why did this supreme test not come earlier? Its 
coming depends on the degree of Man's theophoric maturity. 
It is, for instance, reasonable to ask why the great discoveries 
of science and the great inventions of technology were not 
made many centuries ago. Certainly not because men were 
not "intelligent" enough at that time. It was because they 
were not sufficiently influenced by the Biblical Revolution to 
liquidate the level of magic that held them in the throes of 
pre-logical, pre-technical frustrations. The revolutionary pul- 
sion was undone again and again by retrogressive urges. Even 
today we .are not safely guarded against new inroads of the 
basic perversion which, however, seems to be reaching its 



278 CHOOSE LIFE 

own borderline. This time the "NO" aims at a decisive blow, 
not only at a delaying action. 

MAN IS WEALTH. POVERTY IS TREASON 

Whether Man Is the center of nature and the 
aim of the universe, or whether he is only a tiny by-product 
of its infinitude, this is certainly a most controversial issue. It 
is even the very theme of human history. The answer of the 
Jewish Torah is in the affirmative. The Jew holds that Man 
indeed is the A dam Kadmon. That is: the whole of the uni- 
verse focused, the cosmos condensed. The cosmos as a whole 
is "Man/* not actually in his present condition, but intrinsi- 
cally. Man, then, enshrines the infinite wealth of the universe. 
Man, then, is intrinsically rich. Man, then, is intrinsically 
glorious, like the majestic mysteries of the universe. 

Yet this abundance is tied to Man. Without Man it re- 
mains chaos. And it will eventually become mabul (the great 
deluge, as pointed out before). And here is the Jewish answer 
as to why so far it has been impossible to master abundance, 
and why so far scarcity is Man's lot: Our actual systems of life 
are systems without Man. Man is omitted from the economic 
process. The basic split, the basic brokenness of Man has sur- 
rendered him to thinghood. Therefore the production proc- 
ess can only follow the thinghood rules, but not human 
rules. "Plenty" must become mabuL Plenty is not only plenty 
of consumer's goods. It is also abundance of power. The lust 
for power is even stronger than the lust to own things. This 
is why those in power resent an economy of plenty. Plenty 
for everybody, so easily attainable at the present stage of tech- 
nology, would establish an independence of the broad masses 
and thus deprive those in power of their grip on men. In the 
frame of Jewish thought power belongs to the realm of "anti- 
reality." 

Why can abundance not be mastered? Because the master 
himself, Man, is excluded from the production process or 
subordinated to it. This dehumanizes Man and makes work 
an absurdity. Plenty cannot come if the conditions are pre- 



279 The Universe Inherited. The Stage of Mastered Plenty 

human, sub-human or anti-human. It can only come if con- 
ditions are human. It presupposes Man. v 

The stage of mastered plenty is the plane free from murder, 
as the theophanic stage is the plane free from idolatry. The 
Jewish promise to restore Man by restoring Man's genuine 
madriga (the primal human plane) is also the promise to 
make abundance workable. It is the promise that Man shall 
inherit the universe because Man has been created for abun- 
dance. 



3 

REACHING THE AUTONOMOUS 
STAGE ABOVE DEATH 



"AND ALL TEARS WILL BE DRIED UP" 

This prophetic word proclaims a hope, but it 
does not belittle the reasons for the tears of mankind. Where 
death is there are tears. Jewish thought never participated 
in any of the various attempts to belittle death. The Jewish 
mind never accepted the idea that, after all, death is an il- 
lusion because Man does not "really" die. Nor could any 
other of the various conceptions of immortality be integrated 
into the system of Jewish thinking, such as, a spiritual part 
of man will survive. This would be a kind of bodiless specter. 
Or: the ideas of unending transformations or transmigrations 
of each soul. This would be a remnant of animistic times. All 
these * 'consolations" belittle death because they assure us 
that we do not "really" die. No such ideas are in the Scrip- 
tures. Rightly it was stated that the "Old" Testament did not 
mention immortality. To say this was so because it was taken 
for granted and there was no need to mention it, would miss 
the pivotal point. The reality of God was also taken for 
granted, and yet the "Name" is the central word in the To- 
rah. 

That Man does not really die, was proclaimed by the sa- 
tanic power, the serpent in Paradise. To belittle death is sa- 
tanic because it belittles life. It deprives life of its inexorable 
earnestness. This solemnity towards life shapes the Jewish 
behavior-pattern. To Jewish insight death is an overwhelm- 



281 Reaching the Autonomous Stage Above Death 

ing reality. Death is a frightful fact, laden with the abysmal 
horrors of annihilation. To Jewish thought there is no use 
denying that we die or consoling ourselves that we are merely 
passing over into a sublime prolongation of life. We all die. 
That is the condition of Man now. Even a hereafter would 
not be safeguarded against the grip of death. 

The Biblical Revolution has taken from Man all illusions 
about death. But the very same revolution pursued a greater 
goal than offering consolations by philosophizing away the 
bitter fact of death. This goal was to remove death factually 
from the world. And death can be removed because death 
as the Biblical Revolution proclaimed is not an intrinsic 
condition of reality. The prophetic word gave Man the un- 
surpassable hope: 

"AND DEATH WILL BE SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY" 

(ISAIAH 25, 8) 

That death is not fundamental but accidental, 
not an original unalterable property of life, is certainly an in- 
sight, which deeply influences our aspects of the world. Death, 
then, is a disease of life, not the normal condition of life. It 
is fallacious to identify death with finiteness. The limitation 
in space and time always allows positing the concrete facts in 
a very affirmative way. A clearly defined finiteness is the pre- 
requisite for attaining concreteness. To be finite is not the 
same as to be perishable. What is concrete is not perishable 
as such because of its concrete finiteness. Perishableness and 
death are corruption. This is an axiom of Hebraic thought. 
Death is a state of perdition, of being lost (avadori). Death 
cannot be understood as a mere termination of each indi- 
vidual life. It has a deeper root; the root lies in the Tumah, 
the impurity that permeates the world. And this impurity has 
its origin in the unreality, which is the product of our trans- 
gression of the three absolute prohibitions, of idolatry, mur- 
der, perversity. A demonic anti-reality springs from that basic 
corruption and putrefies the genuine reality. This corrupted, 
fictitious reality is continually being eliminated. With the re- 



282 CHOOSE LIFE 

covery of Man from the basic schizophrenia the uncorrupted 
reality will be restored. The genuine human being is free 
from perdition. 

"FROM DUST 

is Man made and to dust he will return" so 
it is said. Another sentence reminds us that "we come from 
an evil-smelling drop and go to the place of vermin." These 
harsh sentences state that Man was not able to hold his ma- 
driga, his genuine level. He sank back into nature, into the 
raw-material of which he was made. In modern scientific 
terms: disintegration of an "autonomous field" into its ante- 
cedents. Man is an "autonomous field"; that is a level which 
has reached independence over and against all preceding 
stages that lead up to that level. Man is a specific structure of 
reality, a sphere superior to all other spheres. Scientifically 
speaking: Man is on a higher "level of integration" than all 
other beings. This means: his inner unity is potentially 
stronger than any other known, though actually he is still de- 
prived of this powerful unity, because he has not overcome 
the fundamental cleavage in himself. In other words: there 
is no eternal fate that is turning Man back into dust time and 
again. This relapse is not a primal condition of Man; it is an 
acquired perversion. Thus the disintegration which we call 
death is not a normal quality of life, but a state of corruption 
that can be removed from reality. If the Tumah is removed, 
perdition would be taken away from reality. It is above all 
the social corruption on which the Tumah thrives. It is the 
murderous life that breeds Tumah. It is in this dance macabre 
of corruption, of murder and of idolatry that death gains 
momentum. But as it is said in the Song of Songs (8, 6): 
"Love is strong as Death." 

THE BANKRUPTCY OF "COMMON SENSE" 

What is dead belongs to the past, and what be- 
longs to the past no longer exists. Yet is this indeed so? This 
fallacious conception of the "past" is liquidated by modern 



283 Reaching the Autonomous Stage Above Death 

physics. Never did it have a place in Hebraic thought. What 
is past does not fade out of reality; it is only not "operating" 
in relation to a given observer. As a Kabbalistic saying goes: 
"Nothing is lost, not even the most fleeting breath of our 
mouth." The past is just as relative as the other time rela- 
tions. The past refers just as well to a reference-frame that is 
relative and by no means absolute. The past can still be acti- 
vated by the whole. This is why "all" tears can be dried up, 
even the tears of the past. 

The view of the universe that "common sense" has, needs 
a thorough revision in the light of the relativity theory. The 
world is indescribably different from what common sense be- 
lieves it to be. This highly technical subject, particularly in 
its relation to the Jewish aspect of the universe, is difficult. 
Yet, it is imperative that this new vision of the cosmos become 
a subject of Jewish philosophy. Moreover, the kinship be- 
tween the new mathematical cosmos and the basic ideas of 
Jewish cosmology indicates a step made towards higher in- 
sights. Our traditional ideas about immortality are based on 
pre-scientific philospohies and their misconceptions about 
Absolute Space and Time. These paganistic fallacies o "com- 
mon sense" were fundamentally alien to Jewish thinking 
from the very beginning. 

The promise that "death will be swallowed up forever" has 
no limitations in regard to the future or the past. It overtakes 
Time. It will restore Man's primal dignity. 

BEYOND "CONSOLATIONS" 

It is said: "the Zaddikim do not really die" 
and that "the pagans are not alive" (The zaddik: the right- 
eous man, undivided, a united whole, tarn. The pagan: bound 
to his mere natural origin, split, weak.) These two sentences 
tie life and death to ethical purity and mental clarity. But 
they do not attribute iraperishableness as an intrinsic quality 
to the soul, whatever its actual condition may be. It is also 
said that there would be no death if there were no sin and 
that each of us is taken away from this earth because of his 



284 CHOOSE LIFE 

own sins, not because of Adam's sin. A profound Kabbalistlc 
tenet teaches that the zaddikim could create life if they de- 
cided to do so. Because of his corrupted condition Man no 
longer has this creativeness. The zaddikim are the harbingers 
of the regained original madriga of Man. 

The Kaddish, the mighty prayer in confrontation with 
death, does not offer consolations for survival based on meta- 
physical qualities of the human soul. The sole content of the 
Kaddish is the glorification of the ''Name/' thus challenging 
death by proclaiming the One True Reality as the one true 
consolation. The supreme hope, therefore, is not placed in 
the preservation of an animistic ghost, but in the absoluteness 
of the center outside of each soul, the center which focuses all 
of us. The true center of Man has also the name "Our Right- 
eousness" ('Zidkenu." Jerem. 23, 6). This is the consolation 
of the Kaddish. 

Man is not revolving around himself, for if he did he would 
die. Man is open; he is the open being. It is Man's openness 
wherein our hope lies. The remoteness of Man's reality is 
ultimately his faculty for closest nearness. Among all creatures 
only Man understands the language of remoteness. Man him- 
self is the very being of remoteness. Because of his tran- 
scendent nature he can extricate himself from the opacity of 
the Tumah. He is destined to see the fulfilment of the prom- 
ise: "And death will be swallowed in victory" (bilah ha mav- 
eth la nezach). 

WHERE ARE THE DEAD? THEY ARE AMIDST US 

They are in the world. In the same world 
where we, the living, are. And because this world is in the 
grip of corruption, of idolatry and unreality, we, the living, 
share in the same ultimate condition as the dead. There is 
death even amidst life. The dead have not gone into a realm 
of imperishableness. And we, the living, are not in a world of 
absolute perdition, though nobody is really alive yet. We all, 
the living and the dead, are indissolubly tied together. There 
is no leap from death into eternity for the individual 



285 Reaching the Autonomous Stage Above Death 

by merely passing through the somber exit at the end of life. 
There is no private survival. We all are one indivisible com- 
munity of the dead. The liberation from death will come 
to the Human Continuum, and by this transfiguration it will 
come to each of us. To the two roots of death, corruption and 
idolatrous anti-reality, belong also loneliness (Hitbadeduth). 
Death is a form of utter loneliness (as previously pointed 
out). This is the horror of death. 

Whatever the difference may be between "to be in life" 
and "not to be in life any more," it is not the passing over 
from finiteness into a mere bodiless-prolongation of life. Fi- 
niteness, limitation, is not perdition; it is the prerequisite for 
the "only once," "never twice," "never again." This unique- 
ness is the fundament of concreteness, of character, of every- 
one's eternal place in the concatenation of reality. The dead 
are inaccessible, they are veiled, remote, de-actualized. But 
they are not annihilated. The dead are still in our midst, with 
us, the living. They are waiting. We are acting. But our action 
is still far from real action. Soon we will be the waiting and 
will have to rely on the actions of those who will come after 
us. But the totality of humankind is never actionless. 

THE UPRISING OF THE DEAD 

And we all, past and future generations, WE 
ARE. We are overwhelmingly in the world. Tremendously 
are we entrenched in the world. WE ARE! This mighty fact 
overtakes all the indirectly derived ideas about immortality. 
The world we are in, we, the living and the dead, is not 
yet free from Tumah. And therein lies the bitter rule of 
death. Nevertheless, all of us are persisting in the Holiness 
of the Human Continuum. And this is the "Heaven" of im- 
mortal life. In the absolute togetherness of the people we are 
immortal. The dead are, in Biblical language, collected in 
the collective of the people. In the people everyone lives on 
in his identity. As in a beautiful mosaic each little stone gains 
its significance by the specific position it occupies in the to- 
tality of the picture, so everyone reaches his maximal poten- 



286 CHOOSE LIFE 

tiality in the people. Everyone is a billlonfold multiplied in 
the billionfold unity of the Absolute Collective. 

We are alive forever in the Holy People. But we are only 
as much alive as the people is alive. And we are as much dead 
as the people is dead. The social corruption which obstructs 
the realization of the Human* Community deprives each and 
all of the eternal life. The sphere where we are imperishable 
has not been established yet. The liberation of the Human 
Continuum from the slavery of the "Three Slaveholders" and 
from the basic split will signal for all the dead the hour of 
their resurrection. 



287 



4 
THE REDEMPTION OF ACTION 



WHERE IS THE DEEPEST HOME OF ACTION? 

We, the living, are the acting arm of the 
world. In us the totality of mankind, past and future, is ac- 
tive. Whether the dead, who are preserved in the wholeness 
of mankind, have any activity of their own, this we do not 
know. Are they only slumbering and waiting for the Mes- 
sianic restoration of all creatures? Have they passed from ac- 
tuality into potentiality? Or is theirs an actionless effect, 
like the effortless radiation of light? Are they effective be- 
cause of their share in the reality of the "WE ARE*'? "To be" 
is perhaps a higher degree of effectiveness than "to act." But 
our duty is to act. Life is action. This is so taken for granted 
that we fail to penetrate deeply into the enigma of action. It 
is indeed enigmatic why we should act. Is it only because of a 
"must"? Such action would be merely a reaction; that is a re- 
flex to a stimulus, not true action. That action does not 
really exist is the belief of all philosophies of "determinism/* 
of "behaviorism," of "reflexology." In the philosophy of the 
strict determinist Spinoza, there is no place for freedom, 
which was a main reason for his excommunication from the 
Synagogue. 

In the entire course of Jewish thought freedom is resolute- 
ly affirmed. The Biblical Revolution established the free- 
dom of Man as the criterion of Man's dignity. The problem 
of action almost coincides with the problem of human free- 
dom. Action has a meaning only as free action. The realm of 
freedom in the universe is "MAN." 



288 CHOOSE LIFE 

WHAT IS MAN? ACTOR OR SPECTATOR? 

The Hebraic axiom of freedom has been 
strongly contested in the history of thought. Not only by the 
determinists, but also by most of the Christian denomina- 
tions, (at least as far as they are derivations of Paulinism) 
which do not unambiguously affirm freedom. Their axiom 
is that Man is under the curse of God, and because this oc- 
curred already in Paradise, he actually has never been free 
since. This fallacious interpretation of the Biblical text is 
utterly antagonistic to the Hebrew view which proclaims 
that Man is free and has never lost his freedom. 

Later philosophies took up this problem by raising the 
question whether Man's genuine nature is contemplative 
rather than active. French philosophy, e.g., Descartes, Male- 
branche, maintains that in contemplation lies our profound- 
est life and that action is superficial, a mere expediency. 
Human life and its profoundest is restful. Only God acts; we 
humans are mere spectators, Man is not a genuine center of 
action. Action, these philosophies taught, is not intelligible. 
We cannot even understand how our mind can possibly act 
on our body. It is God who acts in connecting these two sides 
of Man. Here we touch on a very profound aspect of the 
problem: action is conceived as Divine. When Man acts and 
Man should act then he must live up to his Divine destiny. 
He must accept the responsibility that goes with being free. 
Jewish thought is aware of the paradox involved in human 
action. 

Spinoza, closely related to these contemplative philoso- 
phies, teaches that the wisest attitude is a quiet resignation 
to the inexorable nexus of causality, by understanding it 35 
coming from God. The fatalistic character of this thought 
is obvious. It reminds us of Islamic fatalism ("Inshallah"). 
In the Mohammedan system action is also paralyzed. 



* 89 The Redemption of Action 

CHALLENGING THE NON-ACTION PHILOSOPHIES OF THE FAR 

EAST 

The religions of the Far East are even more 
antagonistic to action. The mighty philosophies of India 
take a completely negative stand. They negate life as mean- 
ingless and thus jettison action as promoting illusions and 
prolonging the unalterable sufferings of all creatures. An 
even deeper insight into the problematics of action has been 
developed by the age-old philosophies of China, particu- 
larly by Taoism; e.g., what is good and is truly effective hap- 
pens "of itself" (Wu Wei). Our interfering in the harmony 
of the universe merely releases the chained demonic forces. 
Here action is still destructive, and on this basis the Chinese 
developed an applied philosophy of great- wisdom. This 
philosophy is being challenged by the enormous transforma- 
tion this old culture is now undergoing. 

It is not easy to see the connection between the religions 
of the Far East and the prehistoric animistic and totemistic 
cultures. The prehistoric patterns of life were challenged by 
the Biblical Revolution and by the consequent fight against 
magical cultures. But the religions of China and India re- 
mained almost undisputed. Only now have the fundaments 
of these archaic ways of life been shaken in an earnest con- 
frontation with the spirit of worldly initiative. Because this 
initiative of modern man has its "deepest home" in the Bib- 
lical liberation from prehistoric paralysis, it should be real- 
ized that the present awakening of the Far East and of India 
is their first rigorous confrontation with the Biblical Revolu- 
tion. And this ushers in a new stage of human evolution. In 
the light of Jewish philosophy it becomes manifest that these 
ancient religions are prolongations of prehistoric mentality, 
gigantic relics of primeval magic. Therefore they offer an 
opportunity also for modern man to relapse into archaic be- 
havior patterns. Magic is the supreme substitute for action. 
All kinds of symbolism are essentially magic; even in .modern 
life they are applied by substituting fictitious activities for 



200 CHOOSE LIFE 

true action. The arts too, in the light of Jewish criticism, 
carry an enormous ballast of magic, of substitute action. The 
artistic performance is often a way to evade action. 

IS PRACTICAL ACTION PRACTICAL? 

So it appears as if practical, or even mere 
technical action were the only true action. To provide food 
and shelter, to run hospitals and railways, to print papers 
and to build roads all this is positive action. And yet in our 
actual doings it becomes manifest what is problematic in ac- 
tion. Why then is there in action also a strong component of 
destructiveness? With our action we interfere only too often 
with the peace of our fellow-man, dislodge him from his legit- 
imate place. When it comes to action we mostly lower our 
ethical demands. 

Why are our actions running into the aforementioned vi- 
cious circles? Why is it that our practical actions are still in- 
different to the ethical evolution of mankind? Why is even 
our amazing technical progress unable to raise Man to a 
higher level? With all our practical actions we remain frus- 
trated and stale. Can action be effective and yet not demonic? 
Is action forever doomed to contradict itself? 

Since the Jewish view affirms action so passionately, it is 
up to the Jew to show how action can be redeemed. 

THE TWO GREATEST OBJECTS WE CAN APPERCEIVE 

Non-action! Demonic action! Substitute ac- 
tion! Frustrated action! Obviously man has not yet suc- 
ceeded in coming to true action, except for a few elevated 
moments. Our humanness has not yet permeated our natural- 
ness. The world of wisdom, of knowledge, of insight ("Choch- 
mah" "Binah" "Daath") has not yet lovingly embraced 
the world of action (in Hebrew called "Jad" "hand"). Uni- 
fication, the origin of positive action free of destruction, has 
not been achieved. The highest organs of our body the ear, 
the eye, the hand are not yet fully integrated into a perfect 
unity, they are not fully human, so far. 



s>gi The Redemption of Action 

Among all the impressions we get there are two which are 
supreme. Of all we apperceive nothing is greater than the 
Human Face and the Spoken Word. These are the two 
"maxima" we can experience. Between these two poles of 
our concrete existence the current of life flows. "Life" that 
is the Hand. The human hand occupies an exceptional posi- 
tion. No animal has a real hand. Even the best developed 
tactile organ of higher animals is still a foot. The hand has 
changed the structure of our brain. The brain and the heart 
are a unity. But actually a deep schizophrenia cleaves this 
unity into two organs, which continually fight one another. 

The unity of the human organism has not been established 
so far, because the two "maxima" the face and the word, do 
not yet function as maxima and as the poles of the "current" 
of life. The human eye and ear are not fully emancipated 
from their animal-heritage. The eye and the ear of an ani- 
mal may be very sensitive, but only physiologically sensitive. 
The animal sees and hears only what it needs for its immedi- 
ate purposes. 

And what is it that the human face is "facing," what is it 
that the human ear is hearing? The face looks at what can be 
"shown" only but what cannot be said in words; that which 
is unique, the "Only Once." The face "faces" things. It looks 
into the world. The face is the external manifestation of 
each individual character. And what does the ear hear? The 
word that comes from the neighbor. The word that addresses 
the fellow-man. The word carries what is general, what is 
universal, what can be said but not be visualized. Our lan- 
guage carries the highest words, even the "Name." It is sig- 
nificant that the supreme axiom of Judaism, the "shma" 
begins with: "Hear" Israel. The word transcends. It is like 
an exit through which our life opens up into the infinite. 
The face looks into the inner profundity of the world. The 
word speaks to men in their togetherness. And it is only the 
word that can commute between God and Man. Thinking 
too is speaking. Thoughts are words. The pure thought is 
using words that are free from pictorial connotations. There- 



ZQ2 CHOOSE LIFE 

fore Jewish philosophy has often contended that "thought" 
cannot apprehend itself in any pictorial form. Our mind is 
not * 'visualizable." 

Only where the two poles, the face and the word, are real 
"maxima" do we find a real hand, a human hand. The ritual 
of the "washing of the hands" aims at making the hand pure, 
pure for action. When the face and the words function as 
maxima, they make our body transparent to the Divine Light. 
And this is the purpose of the Jewish ritual. It is concerned 
with preventing any opacity of the body. It establishes the 
vision of the "Holy Flesh." 

THE REDEMPTION OF ACTION 

Man is absolutely free. This is the granite 
fundament of Jewish ethics. It does not deny that Man is up 
against enormous obstacles. It only states that there is a prin- 
ciple in the universe that makes for freedom and is capable 
of transcending the nexus of causation. This principle is 
Man. Although it is difficult for Man to be free, it is not im- 
possible for him to be free. It may be difficult to conquer the 
highest mountain peaks of the Himalayas; it is not impos- 
sible to do so. Again: the mightier the task the greater the 
freedom. Freedom is action; action is freedom. But it is also 
true that action is tragically unredeemed, vacillating be- 
tween destruction and frustration. It is a question of life and 
death that action be redeemed from demonic paralysis and 
so Man's intrinsic freedom be restored. Action is as it were 
always waiting in Man to be released. It need not be im- 
planted like a strange force from without. 

Three points have to be considered when we act: From 
where does action come? On what object is action working? 
Toward what purpose is action directed? The origin, the 
object, the aim of action. 

Who is it that acts? It is Man split Action so far comes 
from abysses of schizophrenic cleavages. Action comes from 
the broken Adam; it comes not from fullness but from scar- 
city, not from a plus but from a minus; it does not come 



293 The Redemption of Action 

from an undivided mind. Only when action comes from an 
undivided human totality is it free from destruction, from 
violence and injustice. Only Man who is Total can be be- 
nevolent. Only the unbroken wholeness of humanness is ca- 
pable of producing creative action. The frustrated victim of 
the No-Society remains impotent, demonic. 

What is still the object of action? A spook. The threefold 
spook. But in a fictitious reality action must fail. The anti- 
reality of the images, of the powers and of the things eludes 
our action; so as with the specter in the spook story when we 
try to hold it, and our hand holds nothing. Fictitious reality 
does not lend itself to true action, only to magic. Irreality 
calls for magic. And magic aims at power. It is, as we have 
seen, murderous. 

What is still the aim of action? Power. Unredeemed ac- 
tion cannot be ethical action. But deep down action knows 
that action verily is love and love is action. Yet, love is still 
a stranger in the mamser-world. Love is an outcast. The the- 
ophoric outcast, Israel, is the passionate lover of Man. 

THE BEARER OF UNIFICATION 

And this is why Israel has always been the liv- 
ing anticipation of action redeemed: Israel is the workshop 
of unification. Because only from Man-Unified can action 
come that is free from demonic destruction. Even of a gen- 
eration like the one that undertook to build the Tower of 
Babel the Scriptures say (Gen. n, 6): "Nothing will be re- 
strained from them because the people is one, and they have 
all one language" Yet why did they fail? And why did their 
language "wither?" Because they did not unite the "Name" 
with the people. They wanted "to make a name for them- 
selves." They were "taking the 'Name* in vain." That means, 
they attached the "Name" to irreality, to their own fame. 
They were far from a true unification. Their language col- 
lapsed. A mere agreement upon some purposes >is no unifica- 
tion. As it is said (Hosea 2, 17): "the names of the idols 
(baalim) will be taken away from the mouth of the people 



294 CHOOSE LIFE 

(Ami My People), and their names shall no more be re- 
membered" This means: what is impure will be rooted out 
from perpetuity. 

Israel has a Name (Gen. 35, 10). The name "Israel" pro- 
claims: God rules. He not only "exists/' Israel knows the 
"Name" and knows how to tie the people to the "Name." 
Israel is the people of the Jichud. The Jichud is the reuni- 
fication of the exiled Shechinah with God, of God's presence 
and of God's remoteness, of His challenging nearness and 
His all surpassing Holiness, of the ineffable Name and of 
Elohim (Adonai Hu Ha-Elohim). 

This would end the theophoric exile. But this end cannot 
be enforced by any demonic action. Prior to the Jichud, action 
will have a full measure of destruction and frustration. But 
action by Man who has regained his unity will be almost ir- 
resistible and sane, and it will reveal the sameness of action 
and love. 

The Jichud is the unification of the people with the 
"Name." But the "Name" can be attached only to a righteous 
and full togetherness. "Israel is the people lifted up to the 
'Name' " (Deut. 33, 29). There is no unity yet. It has been 
said that reality is a "system/' a unity only for God. For Man 
it is still a paradox, although Man should accept this Divine 
paradox. A reality that was a unified system for Man would 
still be untruth. 

The way of the Founded People through history is the 
"Haggadah" of the Jichud, the story of unifications. It is the 
story of those Jews of whom it is said that they performed the 
Jichud even in the chores of their daily life. There is a story, 
handed over by tradition, about one of the men mentioned 
in the first genealogy of the Book of Genesis. It is said of him 
that he was a shoemaker. When he was sewing the soles to the 
shoe, with every stitch he connected the Shechinah with God. 
This story should not be misunderstood as a tale of magic, 
so common to most religious. Here it clearly aims at the pro- 
fundity and solemnity of everyday life. These unifications 
can rightly be called "miracles" because to work "miracles" 



295 The Redemption of Action 

means surpassing the "normal" or "natural" actions. To the 
full togetherness all righteous aims are attainable. No barrier 
is insurmountable to this true miracle: the acts of unification. 
Infinite joy radiates from a unified soul. But this joy will 
not persist in loneliness. The joy of the Jew is great. It is not 
lonely. It is the jubilation of togetherness. And this is why 
the joy of the Jews is a Messianic Message for all. 



VII 

Now 



ON THE VERGE OF A NEW 
STAGE OF HISTORY 



Postulates for Immediate Action: 



THE ORDER OF THE DAY 



THE EXAMPLE 



THE VISION 



299 

1 

THE ORDER OF THE DAY: 



The emerging undivided mankind will be- 
come aware of its deep kinship with the Founded People and 
will understand how profoundly its destiny is tied up with 
the destiny of Man's Israel-faculties. To undertake the refo- 
cusing of the Jewish People means pioneering towards 
greater universalism. It establishes a higher dimension of uni- 
versalism, obliterating earlier and less profound patterns. It 
creates the nucleus of a tremendous challenge. The clearer 
the crystallization of this nucleus the better its fitness for 
global inter-action to promote general welfare. 

FOCUSING THE JEWISH PEOPLE 

To establish a New House of Jewish Learning for the Jew 

of today. 

To apply the eternal Jewish truth to this Hour of Destiny. 
To detach the Jewish Truth from the Confusion of obsolete 

Ideologies. 
To detach the Jewish Truth from an obsolete ecclesiastical 

Verbiage. 
To detach the Jewish People from the Paralysis of outgrown 

Ways of Life. 

To detach the Jewish People from Middle-Class Frustration. 
To detach the Jewish People from a dying Civilization. 
To detach the Jewish People from the decaying Empires. 
To make the Jewish Workman the Mediator to bring Unity 

to the People. 



300 CHOOSE LIFE 

To integrate the Jewish Avant-garde and the Jewish Ground- 
swell. 

To embrace the great Jewish Minds still outside of the Peo- 
pie. 

To address properly the New Generation of Jews. 

To establish permanent Contact among the Diaspora in the 
many Countries. 

To make the six Million murdered Jews articulate. 

To line up the Jewish People in the coming Global Show- 
down. 

To polarize the confused Discords of today into creative Ten- 
sions. 

To bring East and West into a creative Polarity. 

To unify by Intensification. 

To build the Ark saving the threatened Treasures of Civi- 
lization. 

To bring to each Place to which the Jew is coming the Peace 
of Israel's Soul. 



2 
THE EXAMPLE 



IF TEN JEWS WOULD TAKE THE INITIATIVE 

and make the next step on the Vertical Way, 
the coming of this new stage in Jewish evolution would be 
secured. Ten men can turn the fate of the world if they are 
focused by truth. Ten are mighty in solidarity. Ten are 
irresistible if their determination is unswerving. Are there 
ten such Jews? If not, it could signal the end of the Jews. But 
there may be thousands of such "Tens." And many among us 
may potentially be such a Ten, without being aware of it. 
Looking at the incandescence of Jewish history we may also 
expect greatness now. 

The history of revelation is reaching a new stage. The 
precise moment may not yet have come for the "Ten" to 
emerge from the profundity of Israel's silence. The Holy 
language can also be deeply silent. To be silent is not to be 
mute. We are not always prepared to speak, to address others, 
to say the words of truth. There is no "court" to speak with 
authority. Although it might be premature to build the "San- 
hedrin," the urgency for doing so is great. Example will al- 
ways be the most convincing argument. 

TO CONTINUE ISRAEL'S ETERNAL DIALOGUE 

The step now impending for the Jews can be 
made only in continuity with previous steps. This continuity 
of the Jewish tradition is bound up with three of its greatest 
creations: the Talmud, the Kabbalah, the Shulchan Aruch. 



5)02 CHOOSE LIFE 

These three endeavors to shape Jewish life came to a stand- 
still centuries ago. Can they be continued? 

THE TALMUD 

was the people's public discussion on the ap- 
plication of the Divine Law to the changing situation. It was 
a discussion scrutinizing new facts and conditions as regards 
their place and legitimacy in the whole of the Jewish tradi- 
tion. It analyzed the very function of logic in the light of 
Biblical logic. The Talmudic law, unlike the Roman law, 
was not a police-law. It was based on faith in man and trust in 
his fellow-man. It meticulously settled all human affairs in 
accordance with the Divine Order rather than with power. 
The Talmud confronted the tiniest details of daily life with 
the demands of absoluteness, applying an unprecedented 
logic of Holiness. Individual scholars still pursue such trends 
of thought, but the people's discussions are discontinued. We 
have no Talmudic analysis of our time and its new and spe- 
cific problems. Exploring our actual situation by means of 
Talmudic methods would be epoch-making. 

THE KABBALAH 

represents a supreme effort at a philosophical 
depaganization of the universe. An enormous part of the 
world was outside of the Jewish sphere and only slightly in- 
fluenced by the Biblical Revolution. It was a maxim of the 
Jewish tradition to separate the Founded People from this 
pagan world. Kabbalism, in one of its many-sided aspects, 
aimed at such depaganization not by separation but by ab- 
sorption of the pagan world view and transforming it inside 
of the Jewish sphere. It is well known that the Kabbalistic 
philosophers often transgressed the fundamental demarca- 
tion line and because of that met with violent opposition. The 
Kabbalah is not only a Jewish version of Neo-Platonism or a 
Philonic aftermath, it became a philosophical battleground. 
An achievement of everlasting greatness and actual signifi- 



303 The Example 

cance was reached: the transformation o the images into 
words. 

We have seen why the image barrier is still one of the 
greatest obstructions to humanizing the cosmos. Kabbalism 
is not yet exhausted as a method for achieving this humani- 
zation of the universe by transforming the pagan picture- 
world into the world of language. This cleavage between 
image and thought, called today "bifurcation/' is a subject 
of discussion on the philosophical front. The image and its 
devastating effect is also the concern of psychoanalysis. The 
relation of the image and the word is one of the most difficult 
problems of philosophy. A new Kabbalah is needed to break 
down the image barrier and to establish a view of a human- 
ized universe that could stand the test of scientific standards 
too. It is, for instance, not altogether impossible to represent 
the A dam Kadmon in scientific terms. A new Kabbalah would 
be epoch-making. 

But the metamorphosis of the images into words and of 
the images into things and of the things into words is not a 
mere philosophical matter. It is not incidental that the Kab- 
balists were so deeply concerned with ritual and that the 
author of the ritual code the Shulchan Aruch Joseph Caro, 
was a Kabbalist. The still unfinished task of depaganization 
depends on the rebirth of ritual in modern terms. 

THE SHULGHAN ARUCH 

The aim of ritual can be compared with the 
charging of an electric battery, whereas cultural evolution dis- 
charges and consumes the accumulated forces. The recharg- 
ing is not being done any more. Consequently the reservoir 
of human dynamics will be depleted. Refilling it, is not, as 
many believe, the work of nature alone without human aid. 
It is ritual that has this recharging power. It creates the spe- 
cific texture of the human body as different from the body of 
the animal. It creates new tissues that have their origin not 
in nature but rather in the word. In these processes of charg- 



504 CHOOSE LIFE 

ing and of discharging the place of the image is different. 
Ritual thrusts the image down into thinghood. In cultural 
actions the image is set free and is in constant danger of being 
idolatrized. 

Only when ritual and cult as the Jewish view demands 
are a unity, like the bloodstream in the veins and arteries, 
are the images deprived of a reality of their own. They must 
either be submerged in the automatism of the human body 
or be transfigured into words. If this circulation is interrupted 
or reversed, it will become destructive. The image should 
never be without the ritual. Evolution, like our metabolism, 
has an irreversible direction. There is, for example, no direct 
pathway between creation and redemption. The road to re- 
demption runs through history. Ritual establishes irrevers- 
ible structures of life, where no point is interchangeable with 
any other point 

The non-ritualized life has no shape, and clear ideas can 
hardly be gained from an unshapened life. That is why a 
great number of philosophical problems remain enigmatic. 
Without ritual the integration of the fundamental compo- 
nents of life cannot be achieved because a superior organizing 
principle is completely absent. Hence our life is regulated 
merely by so-called practical rules. There is no higher order 
in contemporary terms which could mould our life. The 
new Shulchan Aruch would be epoch-making. 

KEY POSITIONS AS FOCUSED BY 
JEWISH PHILOSOPHY 



The Realm of Action: 

Ajekah. Wa-Ira. Wa-Echawe. 

''Where art thou"? I was afraid. I hid myself. 

Eternity in the Moment. What happens time and again. 



305 The Example 

KEY POSITIONS AS FOCUSED BY 
JEWISH PHILOSOPHY (continued) 

1) Diagnosis: Enosh (Man broken). 

Basic Fear. Maturity Fear. Global Anxiety. 
Prehistoric Paralysis. Fainted Mankind. 
Fixation to the Substrata. 

2) Therapeutics: Lech lecha (Exodus). 

The Start of history. Dialectics of Reality. 
Liquidation of Idolatry. Radical Enlight- 
enment. Pure Thought. Concreteness of 
non-pictorial Abstraction. 

3) Method: Kummijuth (Vertically). 

No Retrogression. No Way back and no 
Way down. Unobstructed Growth. Add- 
ing higher Dimensions of Reality. Maxi- 
malism. Plenty. Madrigal Autonomy. 

COMMENT 

In this sketch of a scheme to integrate thirty-six basic atti- 
tudes, positive and negative ones, the methods of Jewish 
philosophy are applied. These key-positions are fitted into 
four realms. The Realm of Action, of Truth, of Freedom, 
of Holiness. The headings of each of these four chapters refer 
to the Divine Gall and to the human response. 

"Ajeka?" "Where art thou?" And the response of primal 
Man: "I was afraid and I hid myself." 

"Diagnosis," "Cure/' "Method" have been discussed at 
length. The Exodus accepts the basic paradox and the dia- 
lectics of history. "Madrigal Autonomy" is autonomy of each 
step over and above the previous steps in evolution. 



306 



CHOOSE LIFE 



KEY POSITIONS AS FOCUSED BY 
JEWISH PHILOSOPHY (continued) 



ll 



The Realm of Truth: 



Wajomer. Echad. 

He spoke. God's Uniqueness. 

Transcending without Limits. What never changed for 
Millenia. 

1) Cosmology: Je$h me ajin (Out of Nothing). 

Relativity. Relativization of Nature. 
Man re-enthroned. Emergent Evolution. 
Holism. The three primordial Catastro- 
phies: Negated. Broken. Perverted. 

2) Ontology: Ri-tov (It is good). 

Absolute Optimism. The Yes-camp vs. the 
No-camp. No neutral or indifferent Re- 
ality. The three supreme Slaveholders: 
The Images. The Powers. The Things. 

3) Epistomology: Ha-Shem (The Name). 

The open World. The World is spoken. 
The immanent Transcendence. The tran- 
scendent Immanence. The three basic Es- 
capes; Beyond. Backward. Inward. 

COMMENT 

"Wajomer." ("He spoke.") "Echad" (Man recognizes 
"God's absolute Uniqueness/') Jewish cosmology like very 
advanced physics is based on relativity. Jewish ontology is 
based on the insight that no indifferent realities exist and that 
"the Images, the Powers, the Things" are illusions and per- 
versions. This is tantamount to rejecting ontology. 



307 The Example 

KEY POSITIONS AS FOCUSED BY 
JEWISH PHILOSOPHY (continued) 

The "theory of knowledge" is based on the insight that 
Man's mind is not a closed chamber. Otherwise the problem 
of epistomology arises: how can the outside world become 
manifest inside of our mind? Man's mind intrinsically is 
open. In speech the deepest essence of the world is found. 



Ill 



The Realm of Freedom: 



Wajikra. Naasseh-We-Nishma. 
He called. We will do and hear. 

Ascending to Reality. What never happens twice. 

1) Anthropology. Psychology: Hineni (Here I am). 

The unconditioned Decision. Man is abso- 
lutely free. He has never lost his Freedom. 

Beyond Psychology. The Soul is not " Pri- 
vacy." From "the World is Soul" to "the 
Soul is World." 

Everyone is irreplaceable. The "only once." 
The "never twice." 

2) Ethics: Reacha (Thy neighbor). 

Love is Action. Concrete Love. Transcending 

Love vs. autistic Love. 
The Redemption of Action. The non-demonic 

Action. Absoluteness of Ethics. 

3) Sociology: Bekirbenu (In our Midst). 

HA' AM, the Founded People. 
The cosmological Maximum is the sociologi- 
cal Minimum. 
Beyond fictitious Grouping. 



308 CHOOSE LIFE 



COMMENT 



"He called/' And Israel responded: "We will do and hear." 
Jewish philosophical anthropology is based on the idea of 
confrontation; on the personal decision of accepting this con- 
frontation and the resulting uniqueness of everyone. Since 
"soul" is not a kind of privacy, Jewish psychology goes beyond 
all introspective psychology. 

The realm of Ethics is the very realm of absoluteness. Eth- 
ical behavior elevates Man to the dignity of absoluteness. 

The sociology of the Jews holds that no natural or fictitious 
group but only a Founded People can have a focus. Only 
theophoric togetherness can have "in his midst" the secret of 
unification. 

IV 
The Realm of Holiness: 

Ehejeh Asher Ehejeh* Jichud. 

The Name revealed to Moses. Unification. 

On being present. What never happened before. 

1) Decision: Tahor (Pure). 

Discarding the Substructure. Autonomy 
towards Nature. The Biblical Revolu- 
tion and Sanity. Death is Corruption 
and is not intrinsic to Reality. 

2) Transfiguration: Tamin (The undivided Mind and the 

undivided Heart). 

Overcoming the basic Split. Between 
the Face and the Word. The Ritual and 
the Moulding of a new Body. No Inter- 
mediaries between God and Man. 



309 The Example 

KEY POSITIONS AS FOCUSED BY 
JEWISH PHILOSOPHY (continued) 

3) Vision: Kadosh (Holy). 

Zion. Reaching the Midst. Shalom. 
Reaching the Full Name over the Full 
World. Geulah. Reaching the People. 

COMMENT 

The "Name" revealed to Moses. God who will always con- 
front Man, though under changing unpredictable theopha- 
nies. Jichud, Man's supreme answer, his willingness to enact 
"Unifications." The inexorable condition for Unifications is 
"Purity/' detachment from the "Tumah." Sanity and the 
Biblical Revolution are a unity. 

The two poles of reality, the Face and the Word, are 
bridged by the ritual, which aims at a new body, transparent 
to the light flowing between these two poles. Only the Word 
is between God and Man, but no intermediaries. 

In the state of Holiness the innermost center of reality is 
reached. The midst of reality is also called Zion. When full- 
ness of the World is reached, the Name can be attached to the 
World. Only when the people has been reached and it is no 
longer an outcast, Holiness will be attained. This is the state 
of geulahj of redemption. 



gio 

3 

THE VISION 

THE JEWS ON THE VERGE OF THEIR 
NEXT STEP THROUGH HISTORY 



THE VERTICAL EXODUS OF ISRAEL 

The wandering Jew has now gone from land 
to land, from culture to culture, all around the globe. There 
are no new places for him to go. There is no longer any mean- 
ing in his shifting from country to country. The theophoric 
exile is global. No place on earth is beyond the rising tide of 
a universal nihilism. Also the land of the Jews cannot remain 
untouched by this global perplexity. No place is safe from 
the creeping nothingness that turns mankind's existence into 
something ghost-like. Reality seems to have gone from Man. 
No regional exodus into reality is feasible. An exitless "No" 
grips the soul of Man, He puts a question mark after every- 
thing. 

Again the Jew hears the call of the "lech lecha" "go away 
from all that." Yet this time only one way is open, the Verti- 
cal Way. On the plane where we live today all possibilities 
of exit are exhausted. A higher plane must be reached. New 
dimensions must be added to life. The Jewish reality is preg- 
nant with these higher dimensions. New philosophies, new 
ways of life, new patterns of togetherness, new visions are 
waiting to be released. The very land of the Jews must make 
its declaration of independence and must walk out from the 
plane where the nations stand. 



gn The Vision 

The vertical exodus of the Jews aims at pioneering into a 
higher plane of humanness. It presupposes a concrete actual 
togetherness of human beings. Israel, the Founded People, 
has the intrinsic capacity of reaching this next madriga, and 
once reached it will be open to all of mankind. To our pres- 
ent reality the Name cannot be attached. A corrupted reality, 
a sub-reality or a pre-reality cannot be interpreted in terms 
of reason. When our time utters the Name, it is blasphemy or 
superstition. But when our time admits that it cannot utter 
the Name, it is honest. This silence is the beginning of the 
cure. 

ISRAEL'S SOLIDARITY WITH MANKIND 

The clearer Israel's character emerges, the 
clearer emerges also the kinship of Israel's soul with the "Je- 
chidah of Mankind," the absolute indivisible unity of man- 
kind as regards its ultimate destiny. The more Israel becomes 
articulate, the more the voice of unity becomes articulate. 
With the theophoric people there will emerge the universal- 
ism of all that is human. Israel's goals are radicalized human 
goals. Judaism is maximalized humanism. The Jewish mind 
is the undivided mind. The Undivided Man is good. 

A NEW JEWISH ENTHUSIASM 

It is not enough to be "practical." It is not 
enough merely to "function." Greater is it "To Be." No 
schemes, be they ever so practical, will lift us up to those 
heights where life will again be great. No organizational de- 
signs, however well intended, will "organize" mankind's ul- 
timate destiny. No force will enforce mankind's maturity. 
The zeal for human greatness is flagging. The status quo is 
unable to generate human ways of life. The licensed incen- 
tives for life have lost the dynamic faculty to promote further 
evolution of Man. The upsurge of mankind has stopped. 
Mighty new incentives are needed to make the souls of men 
burst open like a seed. A new enthusiasm is needed to fuse 
the lonely sparks into the flame of a Holy People. 



312 CHOOSE -LIFE 

A change that has left unchanged the basic conditions of 
Man becomes merely a deterrent. But genuine change, which 
cannot occur without social change, is the Messianic hope of 
all that is human on earth. From where will it come? 

The attempt of this treatise to restate the Jewish truth is 
guided by the credo that within Israel lies the maximal po- 
tentiality to replace irreality by a genuine reality. The soul 
of Israel does not believe in substitutes for truth or for right- 
eousness. Israel's soul is vibrating with the advent of the 
Messianic world to come. The new life is already close under 
the surface waiting to be released. A metamorphosis of man- 
kind is very near. 

Said Gideon, who was called "Jerubaal," the "fighter 
against the idols" (Judges 6, 18): 

4 'My Lord, depart not hence, I pray thee, until I 
come unto thee and bring forth my present and set 
it before thee/* HE answered: "I will tarry until 
thou come again." 



32022