The generation reared under the influence of Mendelssohn's legalism refused to lead a double life. If reason is free, they claimed the right to be free. If Judaism is less than reason, then it is a stranger in the world of modern thought. Indeed, Mendelssohn's own children and thousands with them, who cared more for a heart-appeasing, soul-stirring religion than for a Jewish commonwealth and its Palestinian national laws, left the storm-beaten flag, inscribed with the immortal truth: "Hear, oh Israel, the Eternal is One." Do we not find analogous cases today? Do we not see how, under the very eyes of orthodox parents, their Jewish sons and daughters are swelling the ranks of Ingersoll and his partisans? The few liturgical reforms which are introduced in some synagogues in obedience to æsthetic wants failed signally to cure a disease which was eating into the very heart of Judaism. To this must be added that the better element was disgusted with the aping of protestantism, lack of substance and vitality, the shallow moralizing tone of the new preachers, the superficial views of Judaism which not a few of them scattered among the multitude. It may indeed be asked, how could better things have been expected at that time? The great facts of Jewish history were not yet clearly known, the philosophy of Judaism was proportionately vague and uncertain. No Jewish author of consequence had undertaken to write the annals of his coreligionists; chaotic confusion reigned in their chronicles. To know what Judaism is it is of the utmost necessity to ascertain in the first instance what it has been. The past will prove the index to the future.
This was one of the most critical epochs in the checkered history of Israel. Was then Judaism doomed to death? Was it preserved during the persecutions of centuries at the price of the precious blood of so many martyrs and heroes in order to die now of inanition?
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