Responses and Reactions III
This is the third in a bi-monthly series of personal commentaries by the distinguished novelist NORMAN MAILER on selections from Martin Buber’s two-volume collection, Tales of the Hasidim (Vol. I, The Early Masters; Vol. II, The Later Masters).
Before the Coming of the Messiah*
The Baal Shem said:
“Before the coming of the Messiah there will be great abundance in the world. The Jews will get rich. They will become accustomed to running their houses in the grand style and moderation will be cast to the winds. Then the lean years will come; want and a meager livelihood, and the world will be full of poverty. The Jews will not be able to satisfy their needs, grown beyond rhyme or reason. And then the labor which will bring forth the Messiah, will begin.”
Yet to our knowledge, no Messiah was brought forth from the concentration camps. Or were a hundred delivered to die with the victims, secret Angels of Death?
It is possible the Jews will never recover from the woe that no miracle visited the world in that time. Perhaps that is why we are now so interested in housing, in social planning, interfaith councils, and improvement of the PTA in the suburbs. Perhaps that is why half of the American Jews have fallen in love with a super delicatessen called Miami, and much of the other half have developed a subtly overbearing and all but totalitarian passion for the particular sallow doctor who is their analyst. Perhaps that is why we have lost the root. And have the lust to build a world of plastic surfaces whose historic root is urea.
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