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November 08, 1974 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-11-08

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Books as Defenders and Protectors of Jewish Identity

The distinguished biblical scholar, Dr. Harry M.
Orlinsky of Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of
Religion in New York, defined the sanctity of books and
their importance in Jewish history, at the 1972 dedication
of the Frances-Henry Library in California.
Dr. Orlinsky, who chaired the committee which com-
pleted the revised translation of the Torah in 1965, said
in his speech that books have protected the Jewish people
over the years from anti-Semites who would distort and
improvise the Torah and Talmud.
When printing became feasible in the Middle Ages,
there was much discussion about the appropriateness of
printing sacred books. Both Jewish and non-Jewish "copy-
ists" called printing "the work of the devil."
Dr. Orlinsky says:
"But the fart is that the Jewish community over-
whelmingly endorsed and threw itself wholeheartedly into
the printing of its sacred books, not only the Bible and
commentaries on it, but even more, the Talmud. There was
a very good reason for this.
"In protecting its special status and varied interests,
the Church frequently shifted the hostility of the Christian
community away from itself toward the Jews by accusing
the Jews of harboring in the Talmud secret passages and
texts dealing with Christ and Christianity in a derogatory
and even magical manner.
"Strict censorship of the Talmud was often introduced
by the Church, and book-burning was not an uncommon
phenomenon. That the Jewish community had nothing in
the Talmud to hide—and that the Church officials were
quite aware of this—was quite beside the point; the Jews

and their writings served a useful purpose as a scapegoat,
and that was that.
"Thus in 1264, a commission of Dominicans in Barce-
lona, in keeping with the papal bull issued against the Tal-
mud, was responsible for 'the cancellation of passages. (in
the Talmud considered) reprehensible from a Christian
point of view.' In 1415, two years after he had convened
the famous disputation at Tortosa between representatives

Dr. Harry M. Orlinsky

of the Church and of the Jewish community, Pope Martin
V 'issued a bull . . . forbidding the Jews to read the
Talmud and ordering the destruction of all copies of it.'

"On Rosh Hashana,-1553, in Rome—and later in other
Italian cities—the Vatican burned all the copies of the
Talmud which had previously been confiscated. Six years
later the Talmud was included in the very first index of
prohibited books; and six years after that, in 1565, Pope
Pius IV commanded that the Talmud be deprived of its
very name."
Dr. Orlinsky concluded his speech with an example
from this century, which eventually led to the Holocaust,
of these same anti-Semitic distortions and attacks which
would turn Jews into an accessible scapegoat.
He quotes the Christian scholar Hermann L. Strack,
who wrote in 1908, 35 years before Hitler's worst outrages:
Even at the present moment, certain ignorant agitr-
(most of them are at the same time malevolent) se
make the Christian-German people believe that Jews
solicitous, with every possible 'means at their hands, to
keep the Talmud a secret book" for fear lest its contents
should become known, indeed that they consider it a crime
worthy of death for any Jew to make its contents
known. . . .
Strack continued that the only thing secret about the
Talmud is that its detractors have not taken the time
to "acquire the necessary studies to read the original
texts, nor know anything about the translations that are
in existance. For such people, Ceasar's Bellum Gallicum
will be equally a secret book . . . "

Chaim Weizmann: Prophet and Redeemer, Acclaimed by Noted Archeologist

Editor's Note: Prof. Yigal
-Yadin, of the Hebrew Univer-
sity, noted archeologist, for-
mer Israel army chief of
staff, is the author of this
article of appreciation of Dr.
Chaim Weizmann, first presi-
dent of Israel, the centenary
of whose birth is now being
observed by Israel and world
I was not privileged to
work with Dr. Weizmann in
the heyday of his activities.
I was a schoolboy then, but
to me and to my colleagues
Dr. Weizmann seemed like a
giant in a fairy tale, a bib-
lical figure wandering in the
desert, trying to gather to-
gether and to mould the rem-
nants of the Jewish people
in order to lead them back to
the land of promise, the land
of freedom.
Indeed, Dr. Weizmann, the
prophet who walked among
us, was possessed of that
rare ability to gather around
him the Jews of all countries
and of all •backgrounds, the
Jews of the East and the
Jews of the West, the enlight-
ened and the ignorant, the
observant and the non-
observant, young and old. He
even succeeded in conquering
us, the young generation born
in this country, who knew of
the sufferings of the Jewish
people at second hand only,
from our reading and from
hearing our parents who had
left the Diaspora in order to
transform the deserts of this
country into a blossoming
garden, speak of same, by
the simple and sincere words
that emanated from his lips.
We felt that this person
lived at all times and in all
circumstances with his heart
and soul through the suffer-
ing of our people, but had
forged in him a faith and a
hope, and the courage to
create conditions in which
the Jews would once again
be able to live and walk
among the Gentiles without
fear and with head erect.
Courage in the battlefield
is an important but by no
means rare phenomenon.
Such courage was evinced by

56 Friday, Noy. 8, 1974

our sons and daughters in
the War of Liberation and
by many peoples who had
fought for their freedom. But
the spiritual courage that is
required to lead a scattered
people without a land of their
own and without a govern-
ment of their own, to an
unknown homeland, is an
achievement that can be
compared only to that of
some of our greatest
prophets and leaders in the
time of the Bible.
I was brought up on this
legendary figure of Dr. Weiz-
mann. and towards the end of
his life I was granted the
privilege of meeting him. It
was in the midst of our War
of Liberation — and I was
in uniform — that I , was
called to him. When I came
into his presence and he
spoke to me, I felt that he
was speaking not only to me
but to all thy comrades in
arms. There was a feeling
of love in his words, as of a
father towards his sons
whom he had reared; there
was a pride in his bearing
as of a leader of a people
reborn, and encouragement
in his words, as of the states-
man of a country facing a
war. Yet one had the feeling
of warm-heartedness accom-
panied by a gracefulness of
expression and a wisdom
that is the outcome of knowl-
edge and experience. The
legendary figure of Chaim
Weizmann tallied with his
figure in reality. I was stand-
ing in front of true greatness.
I was privileged to spend
many hours with him after-
wards, and I shall never for-
get my meetings with him
for they gave me encourage-
ment and elation.
Those of us who take an
interest in archeology know
that in order to delve into
the secrets of the past and
to reveal its outstanding
events one needs a special
eyepiece, as it were. We dig,
unearth, and reconstruct the
civilizations that arose and
were destroyed, and as in
our own country, fell in order
to rise again. But what we
try to catch is in actual fact


Photo of noted archeologist
when he was Israel's army chief
of staff.

a sense of history. Chaim.
Weizmann was gifted with
this unusual sense. It was
natural a n d instinctive in
him. Perhaps this sense of
history was the main founda-
tion of his greatness. It in-
fluenced his trend of thought
and feelings and because of
it he never lost his faith and
hope and was never discour-
aged by temporary setbacks
nor disillusioned for the dur-
ation. He had a knowledge of
the past and knew what was
likely to happen. This sense
of history stood him in good
stead whenever he had to
make decisions and to take
political action, and it gave
him the possibility of dis-
cerning between the impor-
tant and the unimportant. He
had always the final goal in
front of his eyes and he al-
ways endeavored to arrive
at that goal by the securest
way. He .had, so to speak,
the ability to rise to the
heights from which he was
able to see both the past and
the future and to discern the
paths leading from one
mountain peak to another,
and so pick the road by
which to lead his people to
independence. Now what did
Dr. Weizmann mean to 'our
generation who were born
and brought up in this coun-
try? What are his precepts to
us? In my opinion they are
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS open and clear just as his

life was open and clear to
We must look upon our-
selves as upon the generation
entrusted with the mission of
our people. The hand of fate,
a gifted leadership and our
own efforts brought us the
state. We were granted the
opportunity of redeeming our
people. We must seize this
opportunity with strength
and courage and devote our
lives to the fulfillment of the
Weizmann had taught us to
distinguish between form and
content. Both of them are
important, but we must be
careful not to be blinded by
the outward splendor and
glory that envelop the state,
lest we fail to see the goal
for which it was established:
the ingathering of the . exiles,
the revival of our people and
the revival of our language.
Without the framework of the
state we shall be unable to
solve our problems; but that
alone is insufficient. As Weiz-
mann once said, a state is
not created by injunctions
but by the efforts of the
whole people over the gen-
erations. He foresaw and
realized that if the state had
been given us by the govern-
ments of the world, it would
be a verbal gift alone.
Guided by Dr. Weizmann's
inspiration, we must realize
that on this generation de-
volve tasks and duties to-
wards our people and home-
land which we alone . can
realize. We must ensure the
peace of this country, its
security along our frontiers
and its integrity and full in-
dependence. We must develop
our country, revive and settle
its desert areas, establish
new settlements, create new
industries, make use of our
scientific know-how in order
to increase yields and varie-
gate products and at the
same time continue to raise
the standard of knowledge
and the health of the nation.
We must give new content
to the word "Jew", enrich
the spiritual content of Jew-
ish life throughout the world,
increase our ability to absorb
our brethren in our midst
and open up new horizons in

the spheres of literature, the
arts, music and science.
Dr. Weizmann's example
imposes upon us the duty of
tackling these problems with
a clear sense of the mission
devolving upon us. We must
strive forward with courage
and without hesitation.
Dr. Weizmann was a great
man of science, a research
worker of universal renown,
a man who revealed new
scientific truths that brought
him both wealth and renown
and enriched the scientific
world. But he was also a
great leader and statesman.
He did not lock himself up
in his laboratory; he did not
remain oblivious of current
problems; he did not remain
unmoved by the struggle and
aspirations of his people.
This fusion of traits must
serve as an example to our
young scientists. On the one
hand, they must aspire to
advancement in the field of
research, but at the same
time they must be aware of
the problems -and needs of
our people and our land and
endeavor to find solutions for
them. On the other hand, and
this is no less important, they
must do this without in any
way reducing the standards
of their research work.

We must draw strength
and encouragement from the
heritage bequeathed to us by
Dr. Weizmann in the fields
of knowledge and statesman-
ship. Dr. Weizmann was not -
the liberator of our country
in the accepted sense of the
term; he was not a man of
war, he was not a military
commander;, he was a re-
deemer. He was the redeem-
er of the people, the redeem-
er of the people's soul. In
his personality he combined
the spiritual wealth of East
European Jewry, the culture,
of the West and a sense of '
the mission which cannot be
shaken, and is inherent in
the man who knew that the
revival of the nation will
come about only through its
return to the land of its
birth, to the land from which
its spiritual greatness drew
The place of the giant of
yesteryear is with the im-
mortals. The principles ac-
cording to which he lived
and the faith from which he
drew strength we must guard
and bequeath to our children.
The flame that he lit must
be carried aloft by us and
may every generation add
light and power to this flame.

Seminary Gets Men's Clubs Gift


Shown representing the National Federation of Jewish
Men's Clubs are, from left, Rabbi Joel S. Geffen; Sylvia
Ettenberg, associate dean of the Seminary College of Jewish
Studies and I. Murray Jacobs of Birmingham, NFJMC
president.' They presented the final $6,000 check of a $26,000
gift to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in a
recent New York presentation.


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