The Bible, which has been treasured in the past and is treasured today by all creeds, nations and races, is not intimately known to the modern Jewess. For some reason the Jewish woman of today, who has sought in every way to become a cultured person, who keeps faithfully up with the times by reading all the modern novels, essays, biographies and poetry, has disregarded the most timeless of all literary works, the oldest and the newest, and the one great cultural contribution her race has made to the world.
If to be familiar with the Bible is the duty of a Jew, it is at least a pleasant duty. There is a great deal in the Bible that is not only beautiful and stirring, but vital and importantâ€”as important surely as the latest newspaper murder trial. The sentimentally inclined who ruin countless dozens of handkerchiefs at the movies or over sad books, may find a much more worthwhile substitute for such movies or books in the age-old and ever-lovely story of Ruth. Her devotion and its happy reward make up one of the most exquisite stories in all literature.
FOR TALES OF DEPRESSION
And as for those who have been reading the tales of this depression and the subsequent tribulations of mankind, they may draw very pretty analogies with the story of Job and his great patience. There are tales of courage and adventure, weakness and strength, love and hatred. There is the tragic figure of the leader, Moses, who may only look at the Promised Land from afar, and who must know that the great goal he has worked for will be reached by another. There is the fairy story of the lovely Esther, whose innocence triumphs over the villany of the cruel Haman. There is the heroism of the Maccabees, and the tale of human weakness so often since repeated, in the worship of the Golden Calf.
There are wonderfully drawn characters, too. David with his many virtues and his very human failings is a real person. Solomon combines the disillusioned wisdom of the preacher with the joyous tenderness that shows itself in the Song of Songs, the loveliest of all love poetry. There is humor, there is pathos, there is bitterness, and there is joy.
GRANDEUR OF PROPHETS
There is the grandeur of the prophets. And there is the breathtaking beauty of the Psalms. Most people know the twenty-third Psalm, a few know the first, and a smaller number know the eighth. There are many as lovely, perhaps lovelier than these. With all these treasures so easily accessible, it is surprising that so many of this generation have forgotten to look for them.
Dr. Johnson required that a book should help us either to enjoy life or to endure it. The Bible does both of these. It entertains us, and it teaches us wisdom. It may be read for religious reasons, and for intellectual and spiritual satisfaction. It does something more, however, something that can be said of only the greatest literature of the agesâ€”it helps us to understand life. For this last gift alone it deserves to be read.