My reaction: that makes sense. Since I was a kid I have ended up with Jewish friends. My ex-wife and oldest son are Jewish. I’ve always loved modern Jewish literature and Yiddish writing in translation (I’m reading Shadows on the Hudson by Isaac Bashevis Singer.) In junior high school I read Martin Buber and Max I. Dimont’s Jews, God, and History (1962), looked into Spinoza for the first time and rooted for Israel during the Six-Day War. To this day, defending the U.S. and Israel are self-evident necessities. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Jorge Luis Borges wrote “To Israel” (trans. Stephen Kessler, The Sonnets, 2010), and contemplated his own possible Jewish ancestry:
“Who’ll tell me whether you are in the lost
labyrinth of secular rivers in
my blood, Israel? Who can tell me where
my blood and your blood have flowed together?
It doesn’t matter. I know you are in a sacred
book that contains time and that rescues
red Adam’s story and the memory
and the agony of the Crucified.
You are in that book, which is the mirror
of every face that looks into its pages,
and of God’s face, who in his intricate
harsh crystal can be terribly divined.
Be safe, Israel, as you guard the wall
Of God in all the passion of your fight.”
Borges also devoted two poems to Spinoza and announced his intention to write a book titled Key to Spinoza. In a 1974 interview he said, “I am preparing a book on Spinoza's philosophy, because I have never understood him. He has always attracted me, less than Berkeley, less than Schopenhauer, but I cannot understand Spinoza.” Even so, when asked in 1979 to name his favorite historical character, Borges answered, “Spinoza, who committed his life to abstract thought.”