Biographies & Memoirs

38. The Calling of the Jews

THIS IS A TIME when there seems to be a particular need for men of philosophical persuasion—that is to say, friends of wisdom and truth—to join together. For while it is true that our time has accumulated more knowledge than any earlier age, that love of truth and insight which lent wings to the spirit of the Renaissance has grown cold, giving way to sober specialization rooted in the material spheres of society rather than in the spiritual. But groups such as this one are devoted solely to spiritual aims. In centuries past Judaism clung exclusively to its moral and spiritual tradition. Its teachers were its only leaders. But with adaptation to a larger social whole this spiritual orientation has receded into the background, though even today the Jewish people owe to it their apparently indestructible vigor. If we are to preserve that vigor for the benefit of mankind, we must hold to that spiritual orientation toward life.

The Dance about the Golden Calf was not merely a legendary episode in the history of our forefathers—an episode that seems to me in its simplicity more innocent than that total adherence to material and selfish goals threatening Judaism in our own days. At this time a union of those who rally to the spiritual heritage of our people has supreme justification. This is all the more true for a group that is free of all historical and national narrowness. We Jews should be and remain the carriers and patrons of spiritual values. But we should also always be aware of the fact that these spiritual values are and always have been the common goal of all mankind.

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