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November 09, 1973 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1973-11-09

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'A Passion for Truth'

Heschel's Overpowering Posthumous Classic

Just before his death, Abra-
ham Joshua Heschel com-
pleted a book of essays re-
plete with Hasidic tales,
marked by the impassioned
love for justice that has dis-
tinguished the noted scholar.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
just issued this volume under
the title "A Passion for
Truth." Deeply moving, in-
formative, inspired, this vol-
ume may well have emerged
as the most important of
Prof. Heschel's writings.
"A Passion for Truth" is
a combination of philosophy,
religious fervor, love of man-

me with chains. I never had
the courage to break the
chains and entered into joys
with my shortcomings in
mind. I owe intoxication to
the Baal Shem, to the Kotz-
ker the blessings of humilia-
"The Kotzker's presence
recalls the nightmare of men-
dacity. The presence of the
Baal Shem is an assurance
that falsehood dissolves into
compassion t h r ()ugh the
power of love. The Baal Shem
suspends sadness, the Kotz-
ker enhances 'it. The Baal
Shen' helped me to refine
my sense of immediate mys-
tery; the Kotzker warned me
of the constant peril of for-
feiting authenticity.
"Honesty, authenticity, in-
tegrity without love may
lead to the ruin of others,
of oneself, or both. On the
other hand, love, fervor, or
exaltation alone may seduce
us into living in a fool's
Paradise—a wise man's Hell."

There is an immense
amount of fascination in
Heschel's "A Passion for
Truth." There is a chapter
entitled "Money, Pfui!" Con-
cerned with "separating wall
between the sacred and the
secular," he again turned to
his Hasidic teacher:

"The Kotzker was disgusted
with the debauchery of mak-
ing money. Outraged by the
scandals of the world, he re-
fused to join his people in
kind, devotion to his people. the pursuit of material good.
He defined the Kabala, drew `Discard the world!' Money-
upon the teachings of the Pfui!"

Baal Shem Tov and the Kotz-
ker Rebbe.
He offered a study of Soren
Kierkegaard, the eminent
Danish philosopher and theo-
logian, and describing "The
Affinity of Strangers" he in-
dicated an equation between
the world famous Dane and
the "hardly known" Kotzker
by stating:
"When, long ago, I began
to read the works of Kier-
kegaard, the father of mod-
ern existentialism, I was sur-
prised to find that many of
his thoughts were familiar to
me. I realized that a number
of his perspectives and basic
concerns had reached me
from the teachings of the
For students of Philosophy,
Kabala and Hasidism, for
existentialists, for philoso-
phers of all faiths, this may
be a revelation. At the same
time the new Heschel book
provides them with a great
textbook to evaluate the phi-
losophy of the world's great-
est minds.
Dr. Heschel naturally com-
menced with the Baal Shem,
the father of Hasidism. He
had been "taught about in-
exhaustible mines of meaning
by the Baal Shem," and from
the Kotzker he "learned to
detect immense mountains
of absurdity standing in the
way." The explanation:

Thus, radicialism and the
"battle for faith" receive
their due analyses, and the
Kotzker's guidance is a phi-
losophy brilliantly outlined
and adhered to in a great
work by a great scholar.
Equated with Kierkegaard
and other scholars, the Kotz-
ker's teachings are the reve-
lations that inspire the phi-
losophy Heschel shares with
his students and readers.
Another subject for intel-
lectual fascination, "Sar-
casm," receives this treat-
"Learning to know dread
is an adventure which every
man has to confront if he
would not go to perdition ..
He therefore who has learned
rightly to be in dread has
learned the most important
thing . . . The greater the
dread, . the.greater the
man ...
"Dread is the possibility of
freedom. Only this dread is
by the aid of faith absolutely
educative, consuming as it
does all finite aims and dis-
covering all their deceptions.
"The Kotzker found dread
an effective instrument in his
desire to subdue self-asser-
tion in his disciples and to in-
tensify their estrangement
from the world. A passage
from Johann George Ham-
ann, quoted on the final page
of Kierkegaard's 'The Con-
cept of Dread, sheds light on
the meaning of this strategy:
"This dread, which we ex-
perience in the world, is the
only proof of our heterogene-
ity. For if we lack nothing,
we should do no better than
the pagans and the transcen-
dental philosophers who know
nothing of God and like fools
fall in love with this precious
w orl d; no homesickness
would attack us. This imper-
tinent uneasiness, this holy
hypochondria, is perhaps the

fire whereby we sacrifical
animals must be salted and
preserved from the decay of
the passing age.
"We all claim we want
truth and integrity in our
lives. Honesty in relation to
ourselves and to other selves
is a quality that determines
the attainment of basic vir-
tues. But do we honestly de•
sire honesty, and is it easily


attainable? The heart plays
cruel and bitter jokes on us;
imperceptibly, almost unwill-
ingly, we become guilty of
deceiving others as well as
Then there is the definition
for the subject of sarcasm:
"Dour and tragic, strongly
introspective, grim, strange,
deep, persistent, doubting,
contradictory, des pa i r in g,

OMMOIS• ■ •.••• ■•■■■••■•0■ 00M1•11 ■0■ 10.4 ■ 04 ■ 14MOAIN00 ■ 1•0 ■ •••• ■1■ 0•1 ■ 0

Boris Smolar's

'Between You
... and Me'

Editor-in• Chief Emeritus, JTA
(Copyright 1973, JTA Inc.)

tribution to Jewish culture and heritage was proudly pre-
sented by the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research. It
is a four-volume "History of the Yiddish Language" by
Dr. Max Weinreich, tracing 1,000 years of Yiddish and of
the Ashkenazi culture of which Yiddish is the bearer.
It took Dr. Weinreich 50 years of hard and diligent
labor from the time he started planning his gigantic project
till he completed his manuscript.
Shortly before his death in New York in 1969, he still
managed to read the first proof of his lifetime work and
to make necessary corrections,
Dr. Weinreich was the founder of YIVO--the largest
depository of historical material on the life of the Jewish
communities in East European lands. He was the guiding
spirit of this institute of Jewish research from the time it
was founded in Vilna, Poland, in 1925 and later when it
was re-established in New York.
He was a professor at Columbia University devoting
all his life to the advancement of Yiddish. A Center for
Advanced Jewish Studies bearing his name was estab-
lished by YIVO at Columbia under a charter granted by
the New York State Board of Regents.
ASHKENAZI CULTURE: American Jews are practically
all Ashkenazim or descendants from Ashkenazi families who
immigrated to this country from lands in Central and East-
ern Europe. There are very few Sephardic Jews today in
the United States, although the Sephardim were the first
Jewish newcomers to this country in the years following
the expulsion of all Jews from Spain and Portugal.
Although Dr. Weinreich's work is not intended to be
a history of Ashkenazim, it nevertheless brings out directly
and indirectly important high points in their history. Dr.
Weinreich centered on four periods of Yiddish. The first
dates back to more than 800 years ago when the Ashkenazi
Jews lived in the part of Europe now known as Germany.
The second period, which the author calls Alt-Yiddish
(old Yiddish), embraces the years 1250-1500, when Jews
were persecuted in Central European countries and left for
Slavic lands in Eastern Europe.
The third period in the Mittel-Yiddish (middle Yiddish)
period of 1500-1700 was marked by the 30 Years of War,
by pogroms on Jews, by edicts against Jews and by Jews
concentrating in townships and villages—all this affecting
their vocabulary and bringing in new words into use in
their Jewish daily life.
The fourth period—the most important in the develop-
ment of Yiddish—begins with the 18th Century. Yiddish
was during that period influenced by urbanization, by
Hasidism, by slow political emancipation of Jews, by the
growth of Jewish political groups and cultural movements,
by a growing Yiddish literature, school system and press.

hopeful, angry — the Kotz-
ker's sarcasm reflected the
intense sincerity of an ex-
plosive soul. I believe this
brilliant spirit denied itself
the joy of expression, for he
wrote no books for posterity.
"Neither Kirkegaard nor
the Kotzker is an ingratiat-
ing figure. It is not the mag-
netism of their personality
that attracts us. It is a recog-.
nition of our own ache that
drives us to them."
It is an endless philosophic
study leading up to the ex-
periences and the agonies of
the present and the Kotzker's

legacy for our time, as Hes-
chel sums it up, is: "He
taught us never to say fare-
well to Truth; for God laughs
at those who think that false-
ness is inevitable. He also
enabled us to face wretched-
ness and survive. For Truth
is alive, dwelling somewhere,
never weary. And all of man.
kind is needed to liberate it."
That's how Heschel offers
faith to his generation in a
volume of great immensity.
"A Passion for Truth"
vides the inspiration. It
tainly is among Heschel's
best works.

Ben Jones' Interest in Words
Produces Charming Book of
Poems, Issued by Children

Ben Jones has long been
actively interested in many This day, beyond that first day
to heaven returns to take its
local causes. His marriage to
place in Genesis.
Esther Kasle linked him to Eden through Eve to morning,
then a kiss repeats its wonder
the family prominent in
seven times seven unto
Zionist, cultural and educa-
tional activities. In the Jones Let us walk then on grass,
through rain, in warmth again
family — his brother and
and again, each walk a kiss,
sister-in-law, Harry and Jen-
each kiss an embrace
taut within Adam's reach.
nie Jones, have similarly


A long time ago it was ordained
to be
That David would graduate an
honor M.D.
He holds the stethoscope with a
steady hand,
His bedside manner is divinely
He opens your mouth and makes
you say — "ah!"
He taps your chest for bronchial
He dispenses pills and lotions
There is nothing in medicine
that he can't do.
As David's Mom I'm as proud as
can be,
My son David the Doctor has
just turned three.


been in top communal and
social ranks—the Ben Jones'
names have been synonymous
with communal delineations.

Now his children make his
name even more popular by
honoring him, on his recent
60th birthday, with a volume
of his poems.
"In honor of Dad," Judy
and Mark Petricoff, Linda
and Ed Morse, Karen and
David Stutz and David Jones
compiled the poems. Under
the title "These, Them and
Those," they issued a book,
limited to 100 copies, printed
by Carolingian Press, Stock-
ton, N.J.

From high school on, Ben
Jones, was always interested
in words and the sounds they
created. He soon found him-
self putting words together
which led to the writing of
poetry. In 1953 he attended
a night course at Wayne
State University in creative
writing and from then on he
found time while on airplanes
during business trips, or in
the small hours of the early
morning at home, to put his
inner sounds and words to-

Ben Jones was born in New
York City, on Jan. 25, 1912.
He attended New York Uni-
versity and majored in busi-
ness administration. After
working four years in the
retail furniture business he
married Esther Kasle and
came to Detroit to work for
Kasle Steel Corporation.
have three married (14_,,a-
ters, one son, and six grand-

Many are the topics affect-
ing human interests that
were dealt with by Ben
Jones. Here are a couple of
YIDDISH AND ARAMAIC: One does not necessarily have samples from his poetic
to be a Yiddishist to recognize the great value which the dishes:
massive work of Dr. Weinreich will have for Jewish culture
for generations to come.
In a way, Yiddish today can be compared to the Ara- Argentine Media Charged With Bias
maic language used by Jews centuries ago in the Mediter-
ranean area. Some prayers in Aramaic are being recited in Coverage of Middle East Conflict
He said Arab influence in
"The Kotzker restricted me,
by Jews all over the world even today. Kol Nidre, the most
debunked cherished attitudes.
solemn prayer on Yom Kippur is, for instance, in Aramaic. Coverage of the Middle East the press was particularly
From the Baal Shem 1 re-
The Kadish is in Aramaic. Parts of the Hagada—like "Ho war was heavily biased in strong in the provinces but
ceived the gifts of elasticity
Lakhmo" and the merry song "Had Gadya"—are in Ara- favor of the Arabs during the less so in the capital.
first days of the conflict, Dr.
in adapting to contradictory
Meanwhile, a special Latin
Just as Yiddish flourished as the language of the Jews Nehemia Resnizky, secretary American assembly in soli-
"The Baal Shem dwelled in
till the Nazis annihilated 6,000,000 of them in Europe, so of the .DAIA, reported at a darity with Israel ended here
my life like a lamp, while the
was Aramaic flourishing centuries ago as the language of special session of the Argen- with an appeal to all gov-
Kotzker struck like lightning.
Jews in the Middle East who knew no Hebrew. Even the tine Jewish representative ernments and peoples in La-
To be sure, lightning is more
tin America as well as else-
Talmud and the Bible were translated into Aramaic for body.
authentic. Yet one can trust
Resnizky said that meas- where "to act positively" in
a lamp, put confidence in it;
Aramaic is still today the living language of small ures to counter the distorted order to obtain peace and
one can live in peace with a
of Jews in Syria and Lebanon. You meet some of presentation of the news justice for all peoples in the
now in New York and they speak to you in were undertaken by the Middle East.
"The Baal Shem gave me
The assembly was called
Jews in the United States and all over DAIA, the Buenos Aires Ke-
wings; the Ifotzker encircled
the world still recite today in the synagogues the "Akdomot" hilla and the Argentine Zion- by the Latin American Jew-
ish Congress.
ist Federation.
48 Friday, November 9, 1973 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS on Shavuot.

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