RABBI LOUIS I. NEWMAN, Temple Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83rd street:
The quest for a “permanent horizon” of moral idealism is worthy of modern men and women in their new endeavor to gain adjustment. We are eager for an “ultimate reality” to answer the moral disquietude and “malaise” of our times, and we must welcome the works of writers like Ludwig Lewisohn who are seeking to give us a glimpse of the “unchanging shore of human thought.” It is important that we appreciate the contribution of the bourgeoisie when it is liberal, tolerant, and cultivated; that we understand aright the fundamental quality of human nature whatever the environment playing upon it; that we encourage the pilgrimage towards religion which is now engaging the attention of multitudes. Ludwig Lewisohn is seeking to give literary expression to the learnings of this age for the old truths newly interpreted, and he is succeeding in portraying the world of the classical and permanent values upon which we must rebuild our shattered life.
The emphasis upon solidarity in marriage, excluding all other love objects, and the statement that love at its highest draws with it the deepest emotions of man and woman can help substantially in giving to young people an appreciation of the worth-whileness of traditional marriage principles. Ludwig Lewisohn has exposed the fallacies inherent in the half-truths uttered by Bertrand Russell and his followers, and has given new dignity and security to the marriage ideal. He has also displayed the workings of the dynamic soul of modern man, as a choosing, religious person, and thereby he has reaffirmed the triumph of humanity over the legalistic, mechanistic and naturalistic views which have sought to describe man either as a creature of laws, # machine, or an animal. It is now time for man to recover not only his moral dignity, but his power of reconstruction and achievement as a man.
HARVARD’S LIBERAL SPIRIT
RABBI ISRAEL GOLDSTEIN, Temple B’nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th street: Harvard University, in refusing Hanfstaengl’s gift, has performed a service of the first magnitude to the causes of the humanities. It has struck a blow in behalf of intellectual freedom which redounds to the credit not alone of Harvard, but of all American universities. It strengthens the respect of all Americans for their institutions of learning.
Hitler’s Third Reich has desecrated and befouled the highest values of the human spirit. It has banned intellectual freedom, it has made a mockery of human brotherhood, it has exalted the sword, and it has cancelled the gains of a generation in the sphere of woman’s rights.
From such a government or any of its champions no civilized institution can afford to accept a gift.
Harvard has acted in accord with its best traditions.
MAKING THE BEST OF THIS WORLD
RABBI WILLIAM F. ROSENBLUM, Temple Israel, 210 West 91st street: There have been no startling pronouncements during the past year as to the manner in which the world came into being or how the world is destined to end. The theory of the earth as an explosive offshoot from the sun’s surface was forecast by Pythagoras and enlarged upon by Kant and Laplace before it became part of current scientific speculation. The recent utterance of Professor Millikan with regard to the concomitant processes of annihilation and generation of matter which he sees as a result of more recent studies of the cosmic ray, has been anticipated by an eighteenth century rabbi who looked upon creation as diurnally recurrent. There was “bereshith,” beginning every day, he contended, and without the evercontinuing creativeness of nature life and the world could not go on. However, this passion of man for an answer to two questions which it seems impossible to answer with any degree of scientific definitenessâ€”exactly when and how the world began and just when and how the universe will suffer dissolution â€” should not blind him to the necessity of making his present world one in which it is satisfactory to live. The aim of the intelligent man should be to keep the world good. The Creator looked out upon the universe he had fashioned for mankind and behold it was good. And man, made in his image, especially the Jew who proclaims himself the shotef or partner of God in the conduct of the universe, should learn to practice those virtues of peace, of love, of justice, of modesty and piety; as well as those habits of health and cleanliness which will make life happier for him and better for his neighbors. Such a program of living is not hard for the average person to put into effect and whether the universe is 5695 years old or 100,000,000 million years old; whether it is to run down like a clock, as some scientists would have us believe, or be an ever active universe in which annihilation will be accompanied by concomitant regeneration â€” all this will be comparatively immaterial. The Book of Deuteronomy has long since laid down a principle that mankind should take to heart. The hidden things belong to God. There are certain limits beyond which man can neither explain the past nor look beyond the immediate future. He can be happy if he is not over curious.
CULTIVATING SPIRITUAL VALUES
RABBI JOSEPH ZEITLIN, Temple Ansche Chesed, West End avenue at 100 street: One of our greatest needs today is to develop a sense of values. It is unfortunate indeed when parents overcome by an anxious desire for the material success of their children seek only the aesthetic developments of their offspring. A great deal of money is spent in training the young in the art of dancing, music, reciting, etc. even though the young show no aptitude at all in that direction. It would be a good idea indeed if the elders would concern themselves about the problem of training the young in the art of living â€” culturally, morally and spiritually.
RABBI WILLIAM MARGOLIS, Temple Ohab Zedek, 118 West 95 street: Religious observance is the barometer of the times. The slow but sure tendency on the part of economically perplexed humans to seek the comforting and steadying influence of religion, is evidencing itself in the growing interest in synagogue and church.
Men are regaining their perspective with the aid of the sane preachments of President Roosevelt. And, in synagogue and church, they are being reimbued with faith and confidenceâ€”confidence in themselves, and faith in the Creator of themselves. Mighty materialism made men myopic; the Almighty Maker of men must give them new vision. Once it was high praise to say of a man that he was rich or self-made. Today the highest and most permanent encomium that should be placed on a man, is to say that he is as broad as his religion makes him.
No longer should material aims be permitted to crowd out spiritual values. Leaders, lay and spiritual, Jewish and Christian, must reintroduce God into the fibre an# fabric of daily life with the irr###sistible call of Back to Religion!