«Jewish Observer»
JEWISH STUDIES
2/21
January 2002
5762 Shvat

WALKS ACROSS HORIZON
LEONID GOMBERG
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Leonid Gomberg published a collection of historical short stories "From Eden to Babylon" with the subtitle "Walks of a literary man along the roads of the mythological history of the Jewish civilization". It has two parts. The first contains several essays dedicated to Cain, Noah and Nimrod (Nimrod's name is connected with the Babylon tower construction).

The second includes articles many of which were published in the "International Jewish newspaper". They are dedicated to the "Protocols of the Zion wise men", Khazar kaganat, different historic personalities, facts and events.

What made the famous writer and journalist change the direction of his interests and take up a historic research? I decided to put this and many other questions to Leonid Gomberg after I had read his small but very rich in content book with a great interest.

Ц Leonid, there is a huge amount of literature on the Jewish history. What is new in your work?

Ц I am not a historian, I am a literary man and I do not aspire to make global historic discoveries. My book is just a glimpse at the historic process that began long-long ago, dozens of thousands years. I wanted to test the firmness of the Judaic myth and to try to de-mythologize, to a small extent, our history that has lots of delusions and biased estimates. Let's take the legend about Cain. Due to the biased translations of the Holy Book many research works affirm that sinfulness lies in the very nature of Cain. But this is not so. The text clearly asserts that sin lies at a soul entrance, so this is Cain's choice {as well as that of any other man}: to let it in or to look for another decision. I would like to look at the Jewish history bypassing the established opinion, and in this sense it is not much important whether Cain is a villain or not. I generally think the history has no right to judge the personages of the past from the point of view of our today's morals. What we consider immoral was not necessarily so in the Moses' times or, let's say, in the times of Khazar kagan Joseph. But look, for instance, at the way respectable Lev Gumilev castigates Jewish rich men who exploit the Khazar workers.

Ц Every historian, naturally, defends his own point of view. You, for instance, argue with Lev Gumilev who declares the Khazar kingdom that existed during several centuries to be the "chimera that emerges as a result of evil intrigues of certain rich Jews" (I cite your writing). But Gumilev also submits his rather convincing and eloquent proofs, and his book "Ancient Rus and Great Steppe" became a bestseller that, having hardly appeared in bookstores, was immediately sold out. Where is the truth then?

Ц The truth can't be found. There is no and there can't be any historical truth. In general, the history is, probably, the most vulnerable sphere of knowledge. There is such notion as a "national historian", like earlier there was the notion of a "formal Jew". The "national historian" is worried with the national interests as he understands them or as they are understood by those who order the music. Such researcher is initially inclined at mytholizing the history.

Ц Leonid, from all my heart I wish you success in your work. You will find strength not only in the feeling that you fulfil a huge and necessary work, but also in the thought that the characters of your books would survive a hundred and more years.

Interviewed by Faina Feldman

Gomberg L. From Eden to Babylon: Walks of a literary man along the roads of the mythological history of the Jewish civilization. M. Group "Era", - 2001.
"JAR Vestnik", Russia
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