Friday, March 05, 2021

Thorn in the flesh?

Our historical experience has taught us that our existence as Jews is not in the category of things which neither help nor hurt. The opposite is true: to be a Jew is either superfluous or essential. Anyone who adds Judaism to humanity is either diminishing or improving it. Being a Jew is either tyranny or holiness. Moreover, the life of a Jew requires focus and direction, and cannot be carried out offhandedly. One who thinks that one can live as a Jew in a lackadaisical manner has never tasted Judaism.

The very existence of a Jew is a spiritual act. The fact that we have survived, despite the suffering and persecution, is itself a sanctification of God’s name. We continue to exist, in spite of the scorn of the complacent, the torrents of hatred, and the dangers that constantly lie in wait for us. We always have had the option to solve the “Jewish Question” through conversion, and had we stopped being Jews, we would not have continued as thorns in everyone’s flesh, and we would not have remained an object of scorn. As individuals we would have tasted a life of serenity and security. After all, the Jew is an expert at adaptation and assimilation, and it would not be too much for him to mix with the nations, without their taking note of his joining them. Nevertheless, generation upon generation have withstood the test of their faith. Many blows could not douse the flame. With dedication we guard the fire, the truth, and the wonder.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 55

<idle musing>
Change "Jew" to "Christian" and I wonder how true it would be? It should be true...but is it?
</idle musing>

No comments: