Friday, January 01, 2010
[detail from the Arch of Titus]
Mark Twain wrote in an essay entitled "Concerning the Jews", published 1898:
If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded into dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
The reason why the Jews are eternal is quite simple in my opinion: the truth cannot be suppressed completely. There will always be some people prepared to sacrifice everything they have for the truth. Those people are called "Jews".
What's interesting is that number of Jews seems to be fairly constant throughout history. According to some estimates The Jewish population has, from the time of the Exodus, been pretty consistently between one and five million. The number of observant Jews today is estimated to be about two million. While the world population as a whole has increased over 100 times, from about 50 million 3,000 years ago to 6.7 billion today, we Orthodox Jews have chugged along at a fairly constant size. Persecutions come and go, empires rise and fall, apostates leave, converts join, however we just keep going along at our own, fairly constant speed. It is as if God has rationed out the number of righteous people and plants a certain number in each generation.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 6:18 AM