Monday, September 12, 2011

The Exodus from Egypt and Modern Revolutions

Judah David Eisenstein was an unheralded pioneer in the field of American Judaica publishing. Working in the early twentieth century, he edited and published numerous collections of Hebrew source material such as Midrash and Jewish polemics anti-Christian polemics. His work remains useful if you can get your hands on it. Here is a piece from the introduction to his Haggadah. Eisenstein follows a common Jewish apologetic troupe troupe from the period, Judaism and democracy. The idea being that Judaism is not only compatible with American style democracy, but was the source for it. In the service of this cause, Eisenstein is even willing to put in a good word about the Puritans. The Haggadah first came out in 1920 so the Russian Revolution also is mentioned.     

The exodus of Israel from Egypt is the greatest event in history of Israel and also in the history of the entire world. The children of Abraham Isaac and Jacob were the first to teach the dwellers of the world that it was possible for men enslaved under harsh masters to throw off from them their yoke and leave for freedom. And from them others learned to do likewise. The story of the exodus from Egypt was studied by the enlightened pure people living in America (Puritans) and it came into their hands to rebel against the rule of England in the year 1776 and proclaim freedom to all those living in the United States. And this thought inspired the French in their rebellion against their harsh rulers in the year 1789. And from them evolved the rebellion in Russia against the oppressive Czar and his regime that had already decayed in the year 1917. Just that the idea of freedom and the spirit of freedom never came to the rebels in a straight path rather in a crooked manner. But there is no doubt that the first source to rebel flowed from the Israelites leaving Egypt. (Ozar Perushim we-Ziyurim el Hagada Shel Pesah pg. iv.)

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