Arnold Toynbee, the great, though slightly anti-Semitic historian of this century is quoted as saying that “history is the tragedy of what could otherwise have been.” When contemplating this comment, we wonder what would have happened if Johann Sebastian Bach, (1685-1750), genius musician and composer would have met Benedictus (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), world renowned philosopher, a Jew by birth and foremost critic of Judaism.
One of the great advantages which many of us enjoy is that we often do not know what we have missed out on. Ignoti nulla cupido, “There is no desire for what is not known,” said Ovid in his Ars Amatoria. (111, i.397) This may sound rather strange, but when we look into our lives we realize that many people are able to be satisfied with their material lives because they do not fully realize or refuse to realize that they could have had more.
It has been our conviction, as stated in many of our other essays, that an unfaltering commitment towards human dignity is the foundation stone of Judaism. This is normally understood to mean that since Judaism includes many commandments in which man is asked to uphold and guarantee the dignity of his fellowman, it emphasizes God’s love and respect for man as one of the highest values.
One of the most unique talents which human beings are blessed with is the faculty of imagination. Unlike any other creature in the world, human beings have a nearly unlimited potential for constructive fantasy.
Judaism’s major enemy is the nation of Amalek. This nation is the personification of all evil, racism and Antisemitism. Amalek was seared into the Jewish consciousness as the first enemy the people of Israel encountered after the crossing of the Red Sea. The Amalekites attacked the Jews several times and brought much disaster and destruction. It was not only the fact that Amalek dared to fight the Israelites, but also the strategy which Amalek used which showed Amalek’s moral bankruptcy.