(The editors reserve the right to excerpt all letters exceeding 250 words in length. All letters must bear the name and address of the writer, although not necessarily for publication.)
To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:
Mr. William B. Ziff’s second series of articles is a stimulating analysis which, while not convincing in all its details, yet is helpful towards clarifying the situation in which Jewry finds itself at the present. However, the impetuosity of his style leads Mr. Ziff into the most surprising self-contradictions. Thus in the second article in the series he inveighs against “orthodox adherence to frozen ritualism.” But a few lines later on he tells us that Judaism “is enclustered with a festive tradition grown soft and lovely with time.” What is this festive tradition but the traditional ceremonialism of Judaism?
Half a dozen lines further on, Mr. Ziff reverts to his attack on Jewish ceremonialism with the statement that Jewish life “has developed from the simple, free creed of a noble desert people into mummified aberrations.” If Mr. Ziff will refer to his Bible he will find the nobility of his desert ancestors was so mitigated by human failings that it caused Moses the utmost difficulties and many a heartbreak, and he will find further that his desert ancestors, so far from having a simple, free creed, had a most complicated ritual which fills chapter after chapter of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
In a subsequent paragraph Mr. Ziff states that at times in the past “Judaism has been cleared from its obsolete formalism and rebrought into complete harmony with every day life.” In illustration of this he refers to the golden age of the Spanish Jews and the great Maimonides and the immortal Judah Halevy as products of this glorious period. It is more than amusing to have Maimonides and Judah Halevy quoted as men who cleared Judaism from “its obsolete formalism.” Surely Mr. Ziff must know that Maimonides was the author of the greatest code of Jewish ritual, formalism and ceremonial which the Middle Ages produced, and if he will read Al Hazari of Judah Halevy he will find that Judah Halevy also was a steadfast and devoted adherent of Jewish ritual and ceremonial.
Through these palpably absurd contradictions, Mr. Ziff himself reveals how unjustified is his onslaught on the sacred traditions and religious poetry of Jewish life.
Rabbi D. De Sola Pool.