Cardinal Hlond: Rabbi on Sabbatianism, Sexual Revolution, and Jews
Here is my review, appearing about a week ago on Amazon. An American rabbi makes essentially the same comments that Polish Cardinal Hlond made in 1936–for which the latter is much criticized.
Review of Can Families Survive in Pagan America? By Samuel H. Dresner. 1995. Huntington House Publishers, Louisiana.
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
A Jewish View of the Breakdown of the American Family. Inadvertent Insights into 1936 Cardinal Hlond on Jews and Morality
If you think that the breakdown in conventional morals, in America, is only a matter of concern for the Christian Right, think again. Rabbi Dresner echoes most of the same views. He points to the divine origins of the family. He also gives the reader a sense of history–pointing to the fact that ancient pagan societies tended to practice sexual license. (p. 67).
Rabbi Dresner tackles feminist spirituality, including the goddess feminists, and debunks the “men destroyed all the evidence” contention. (p. 122). He also points to the fact that archeological evidence proves without doubt that, contrary to the deniers, ancient pagans definitely engaged in child sacrifice, and did so on a large scale. (pp. 111-113).
It is obvious that Jews have been both victimizers and victims in the breakdown of the family. Dresner notes that 30% of the early leaders of the Communist revolution were Jews (p. 325), and that, “An unusually high percentage of the material on sexual liberation was written by Jews, as well as significant representation among its advocates. On a more commercial level, for example, Jews have been strongly represented in the PLAYBOY enterprises.” (p. 326; see also p. 193). Now the other side of the coin: Rabbi Dresner cites some data about American Jews (p. 78)–information that understates the matter because it is now quite dated. For instance, 91% of Jewish women believed that abortion on demand is all right, as against 56% of their gentile counterparts at the time. Only half as many Jews stated that religion was important in their lives compared to American non-Jews. Notably lower percentages of American Jews were married than non-Jews.
Secularism does not have a monopoly on sexual licentiousness. Consider antinomianism, and its variants. Dresner condemns the “spiritualization” of evil, as exemplified by the Baal Shem Tov, as well as Sabbatianism–towards which Isaac Bashevis Singer had been fascinated. (p. 183). Centuries earlier, Sabbatai Zvi and his successor, Jacob Frank, taught that the Torah had now been superceded, and that transgressions would now be mitzvoth (good deeds), (p. 160).
Isaac Bashevis Singer began his career as a deliverer of soft pornography to a Warsaw newspaper. (p. 180). Later, Singer lewdly dwelt on, and greatly exaggerated (in fact, celebrated), the sexual licentiousness among Poland’s pre-WWII Jews. Dresner adds, “Indeed, once freed from the restraints of the Polish-Jewish moralism and finding his American audience more accepting, his lust for acclaim led him to pursue his tawdry task even more single-mindedly, despite the fact that his writings appeared during and after the Holocaust.” (p. 179). What bothers Dresner is not so much Singer and his writings, but the acclaim he got from the Jewish community, culminating in the Nobel Prize. (p. 174). Moreover, hardly any Jews, outside of some Israeli ones (p. 185), have even criticized Singer, even though his writings can in no sense be rationalized as “reflecting reality”. (p. 177).
[All the foregoing has implications not discussed by Rabbi Dresner. In 1936, Polish Cardinal August Hlond made his much-condemned Jews-are-freethinkers and threat-to-morals statement. Part of this was undoubtedly a reaction to the rampant secularization of Poland’s Jews, especially the youth, along with frequent abandonment of morality. This obviously did not play well in the traditional Polish Catholic society. However, one wonders to what extent Sabbatian-style “religious” sexual licentiousness, as exemplified by Bashevis Singer (p. 182) and his fans, had also animated Hlond’s concerns.]