But the new periodical, which continued to appear until 1881, could neither supplant Ha-Shahar, nor diminish Smolenskin's ardor. Other obstacles of all sorts, and the difficulties raised by the Russian censor, were equally ineffectual in halting the efforts of the valiant apostle of Jewish nationalism.
Dr. Solomon Rubin's ingenious philosophical studies on the origin of religions and the history of ancient peoples were also for the most part published in Ha-Shahar. Lazarus Schulman, the author of humorous tales, wrote a painstaking analysis of Heine for Smolenskin's periodical. Other contributors to the scientific department were Joshua Lewinsohn, Schorr, Jehiel Bernstein, Moses Ornstein, Dr.
While admitting the principle that reforms are necessary, provided they are reasonable and slowly advanced, in agreement with the natural evolution of Judaism and not in opposition to its spirit, Smolenskin's review at the same time constituted itself the focus of a bold campaign against the kind of religious reform introduced by the moderns.
Under the influence of Ha-Shahar, a new generation had grown up, free and nevertheless loyal to its nativity and to the ideal of Judaism. Smolenskin's journey resembled a triumphal procession. The university students at St.
Later, David Gordon revived the yearnings of Judah Halevi by his articles in the weekly Ha-Maggid , which he edited in Lyck, Prussia. Smolenskin's writings resound with a love for Zion from the very beginning of his literary career.
This is the rationale of Smolenskin's opposition to the religious dogmatism of Mendelssohn, who had wished to confine Judaism inside of the circle of Rabbinic law without recognizing its essentially evolutionary character. Maimonides himself is not spared by Smolenskin, for it was Maimonides who had set the seal of consecration upon logical dogmatism.
In Smolenskin's enthusiastic formulation of it, the ideal was carried to the masses in Russia and Galicia, superseding the mystical Messianism they had cherished before. Smolenskin's combative spirit did not allow him to rest at that.
Thirty or twenty years ago we had to fight the enemy within. That the salvation of the Jews lies in their distinctiveness, and that renationalization will prove the only solution of the Jewish problem, is the central thought of Smolenskin's journalistic efforts.
Smolenskin's fame had by this time transcended the circle of his readers and those interested in Hebrew literature. The Alliance Israelite Universelle entrusted to him the mission of investigating the conditions of the life of the Roumanian Jews.
This sometimes necessitates circumlocutions, and on the whole his oratorical manner leads to prolixity, but his prose always remains pure, flowing, and precise in the highest degree. To illustrate Smolenskin's way of writing, and all the peculiarity of the social life he depicts, we cannot do better than translate a few passages from his novel dealing with characteristic phases of ghetto life.