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February 13, 1987 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-13

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mula Dit iv) ion L ip.) Atria



Eleventh graders at
the Hartman
Institute Experi-
mental High School
in Israel.

what a war it is. Do you sense the deli-
ciousness of it?" he asks. "Am I a maso-
chist? But I feel that's what makes this a
living covenant. And there is nothing
healthier than this conflict — as long as
it is conducted on a level of decency and
does not lead to a civil war."
Hartman sees the struggle in Israel, and
among Jews, as a basic conflict of world
views, pitting those who view Israel as a
point of refuge for Jews in a hostile world
against those with more utopian views who
see Israel as a light unto the nations.
The nightmare of Auschwitz lies deep in
the Jewish soul and is a repudiation of
modernity, says Hartman. It gives proof
that Jews should not trust others, that
just when we thought we had been ac-
cepted, the world turned on us. "It is the
trauma of rejection," he says, "the belief
that we can trust only in ourselves." It is

this natural affinity that often makes allies
of the Orthodox, the Likud, the Gush
Emunim, those who say 'no' to the world.
The other extreme is represented by the
philosophy of a David Ben-Gurion, who
saw Israel as a bridge to modernity and
having a share in bringing unity to the
world. Advocates of this viewpoint want
Israel to be like the other nations, not
separate and apart.
Hartman saw this conflict played out
most dramatically over the war in Leb-
anon. "I said it was time for us to stop
identifying ourselves as victims." The ex-
perience motivated him to write what he
calls his "major work," a challenging and
thought-provoking book entitled A Living
Covenant: The innovative spirit in tradi-
tional Judaism. "In this book, I wanted to
take my people back to Sinai," explains
Hartman. "I don't want to be a Jew de-

fined by Hitler but by Moses' dream."
His is a positive approach, a belief in a
real and ongoing relationship with God
whereby man is elevated from a supplicant
to a partner. In his book, Hartman sug-
gests that rather than thinking_ of the
relationship between God and man as
between a king and his subjects, one
should consider the biblical metaphor: that
of husband and wife.
According to Hartman, "God invited the
Israelites to participate in the drama of
building His kingdom in history" The rela-
tionship, then, is "close and intimate but
does not abolish the individuality of either
Drawing on classic Jewish sources, Hart-
man asserts that this covenantal view of
life frees both the intellectual and the
moral will, encouraging personal initiative
and social responsibility. Though viewed as

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