Old Jews: “Economic and Moral Dust” (Chaim Weizmann)

“These are a rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!'” (Isaiah 30: 9-11).

The messengers were maltreated, mocked, flogged, stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword. They wandered in deserts and mountains and hid in caves (Hebrews 11:36-38). These were the wandering Jews of faith who did not receive what was promised.

There is another kind of wandering Jew who witnessed – unknowingly – the fulfilment of the promise. There is a legend that  a Jew taunted Yeshua as he passed on his way to Golgotha. Some say his name was Shalatiel (in Hebrew Shealtiel “I asked God”); others say his name was Malchus. The Son of God cursed him to wander the earth alone until the end of time. Blessed and cursed. “Malchus” is the Greek for the Hebrew Melech/Malluch king/counsellor. The king taunts the Messiah King. The Messiah King curses the king; and blesses him: with a living death. This mortal immortal king is the Wandering Jew.

Gustave Doré - The Wandering Jew

Gustave Doré – The Wandering Jew

In the foreground of Doré’s woodcut wanders the  archetypal Jew of Jewish history and Christian imagination. Under the shield of sudden darkness, he steals away like a thief from the piercing gaze of the dying Christ. This day he will not be in paradise.

Doré would have had no difficulty in finding a model for his figure of the wandering Jew. Here is a photo of 15 World War II rabbis: antizionist rabbis.

Moral Dust

Moral Dust

Pathetic disfigurements of humanity. Dust.  Many of these rabbis died in the concentration camps.  Chaim Weizmann, one of the key founders of Zionism, was asked before WWII: “Can you bring six million Jews to Palestine?” I replied, “No.” … From the depths of the tragedy I want to save … young people [for Palestine] “The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They are dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world … Only the branch of the young shall survive. They have to accept it.” (Chaim Weizmann reporting to the Zionist Congress in 1937 on his testimony before the Peel Commission in London).

There’s at least one other wondering Jew. This “rootless cosmopolitan” shares my cosmic anxiety over the “intractable historical fact” of Zionism.

The original photo was smaller and clearer.  In this blow-up, the figures evaporate into a puff of dust: moral – and economic – dust.

“You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favour her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show pity to her dust” (Psalm 102:13-14).

Who or what is Zion? Is it the land, is it the people? Surely, in God’s eyes, it is the living stones of Israel. Not so for Weizmann:  “You are dust; the dust of the Land of Israel. (Chaim Weizmann reporting to the Zionist Congress in 1937 on his testimony before the Peel Commission in London).

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