Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quote of the Day: Rubenstein on the Holocaust

Richard Rubenstein, one of the most noted post-Holocaust Jewish theologians:
American Jews often regard Auschwitz as a temporary setback in the moral progress of the race. The shock induced by the awesome wound remains too great to be faced openly and directly. In Israel, on the other hand, the terrible lesson of Auschwitz has become the cornerstone of national psychology. Israelis are convinced that they can trust nothing save their own determination to fight to the last man should an enemy seek to annihilate them. No people has less reason to believe in abstract moral principles, human virtue, or international institutions than do the Jews. One of the supreme ironies of contemporary religious history is that the people who gave the world the prophetic vision of universal brotherhood and peace must effectively renounce its own heritage if it is to survive.

The first religious task of the Jews of Israel is survival in a world in which aggression between nations is deterred only by a balance of mutual terror. The death of God as a cultural fact is real and all embracing. There is no greater contrast than that between the fruitless God talk of the American-Jewish theologians and the actions of the Israelis. The death of God extends not merely to relatively inconsequential matters of whether the divine Thou encounters man in prayer or ritual; it reaches to the far more consequential matter of nuclear terror as the last remaining deterrent to acts of national annihilation.

Richard L. Rubenstein, "Homeland and Holocaust: Issues in the Jewish Religious Situation," in The Religious Situation: 1968, Donald R. Cutler, ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968): 39-64, 50.

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