Rabbi Alexander Safran as well as Prof. Abraham Joshua Heschel were interested in the Jewish concept of time. My paper does not follow, however their path, but the one expressed by Prof. Eliezer Schweid. The main argument in the present paper is that up to the emancipation in modern times the Jewish calendar followed the Torah, written in the Pentateuch and the Oral Torah. Thus the Jew was identified and singled out as different by the gentiles among them he lived.On the other hand, this fact was the main reason for the sense of a unique national identity the Jew felt through all ages up to modern times. For the Jew, time was sacred and in sacred time there was hardly room for critical study of texts and history. But Jews as other nations did use the concept of a linear time, which promoted the idea of a constant progress of the human race, side by side with the concept of circular time which carried two opposite notions: a pessimistic one assuming "nothing is new on earth" and an optimistic one assuming human kind may experience the myth of eternal return, to paradise lost. Curiously enough, unlike other nations the Jews succeeded to preserve their holy language: Hebrew not only as a sacred language but as a source and basis for a living vernacular, which surfaced Jewish life as the legendary Phoenix, in the late nineteenth century. The above description may convince us that the theory of Benedict Anderson that the rise and use of the vernacular languages in Europe, during the age of religious reform and the revolution of print, was the cause for the creation of sense of nationality, does not work for the Jews. There were among the new elite of the Jewish people in the twentieth century, figures as the national poet: Haim Nahman Bialik, who believed that the renewal of full Jewish life on the holy land will produce new Halakhah, same as in ancient time the Halakhah reflected Jewish life and did not create Jewish life. Thus Bialik believed the Jewish calendar will be renewed and Jewish identity in modern time, according to him, would have to be designed, by the new life of the Jews, in their homeland Eretz Yisrael. Bialik was sure the revival of the Hebrew language will be a great stimulant for the creation of new Jewish life in the holy land. He could not imagine the cut of modern secular Israelies from the contents of the old Jewish calendar, literally from their literature and tradition built through the ages. In conclusion the article offers a quest for reconsideration of the type and forms of public Jewish education as a stimulus for the renewal of Jewish life.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Jewish Time and Jewish Identity
|דעת: כתב-עת לפילוסופיה יהודית וקבלה
|Published - 2010