Dr. Benjamin Schlager, Pools filosoof en dichter, was Spinoza-geleerde

Rzeszow was een stad in het zuidoosten van Polen die onder Oostenrijks bestuur gekomen, vooral na de aanleg van de spoorlijn van Wenen naar Lvov die langs Rzeszow liep, in de tweede helft van de 19e eeuw een economisch centrum werd. Sinds de 16e eeuw verbleven er joden; tussen 1880 en 1921 verdubbelde de joodse populatie van 5.820 tot 11.361, maar deze viel daarna met ca 50% terug.
In 1967 besloot het toenmalige stadsbestuur tot een yizkor boek: Rzeszow, Poland: Kehilat Raysha; sefer zikaron (Rzeszow gemeente; herinneringsboek). Van de 762 zijn inmiddels 142 in het Engels, 372 in het Hebreeuws en 248 in het Jiddisch – een deel ervan staat hier online.

Daaruit neem ik, eveneens om de herinnering door te geven, de volgende tekst over dr. Benjamin Schlager over, omdat hij zoveel aan Spinoza deed.

           Dr. Binyamin Schlager                 

                             by Simcha Seiden

                    Translated by Jerrold Landau

Dr. Binyamin Schlager, a lawyer by profession, was a philosopher and poet who published several books in the Polish language. Dr. Binyamin Schlager participated in Zionist life in Rzeszow, and served as the head of the community for a brief period.

A friendly smile was always on his face. He had a large “philosophical” forehead, and penetrating, enchanting eyes. He was a sort of modern Spinoza.

I had occasion to talk with him about his monograph “Spinoza”, which made a great impression upon philosophers. He was invited to the large Spinoza festival that took place in The Hague in 1927. The author proved in his aforementioned monograph that the “substantiality” of Spinoza was nothing other than the “Infinite of Kabbalah”. Spinoza would have strongly disagreed with anyone who believed that Judaism ends in the synagogue, the synagogue which excommunicated him…. The synagogue is not only the Western Wall at which Jews pray with weeping – the synagogue is our home, the land of our fathers, that wandered together with our nation in all corners of exile.

His second book ”Twilight of the Heart” is based on the legend of King David, Batsheva and her friends. This is a small book, less than 100 pages, divided into chapters, each one of which is revealing and flaming with a holy fire. You do not know if the flame is rooted in the heart or the brain. Every chapter is a burst of splendor and glory, depth of the mind and love of the heart.

The Polish critics regarded this book as a literary sensation. The author showed me a letter from the writer Stanislaw Przybzewski, expressing his appreciation of this book. Przybzewski wrote this three months before his death.

Dr. Binyamin Schlager published several other books, such as “The Master in Gloves”, and “The Hangman”. The censor banned the latter. This book describes how a poor, unemployed person sold his body to a laboratory for scientific purposes while still alive. His books were written in an original and artistic Polish.

Tagblatt, January 28th, 1931.

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Over het Yizkor Book

Over Benjamin Schlager