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Our Readers — June 1974 Print PDF
To the Editor: I must take exception to Milton Himmelfarb’s view that Spinoza was an ex-Jew [“Spinoza and the Colonel,” March]. The fact that the great philosopher of Amsterdam became a “citizen of the world” did not in the least diminish his Jewishness; nor did the ban pronounced against him by the leaders of the Amsterdam congregation which forced him to live outside the ghetto mean that he was not a Jew. Spinoza was as Jewish as Maimonides, Don Isaac Abravanel, Moses Mendelssohn, and Martin Buber, and he never forswore or renounced his Jewish faith. Mr. Himmelfarb falls victim to a fallacy common to Jewish scholars of the 19th and early 20th centuries which, strangely enough, was never shared by their non-Jewish colleagues. George Santayana, for example, speaks of the “genuine Hebraism” of Spinoza. . . . The confusion about Spinoza’s attitude toward Judaism stems from a widespread misconception about its genuineness. Following the lead of the German-Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz, rabbis, scholars, and historians shunned and despised the Kabbalah, the
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and not GET OUR FREE NEWSLETTER Your Email Address: Liberalism. It follows. that Spinoza was never an ex-Jew but rather the most Jewish of philosophers. who anticipated the philosopher of Amsterdam in proclaiming the intellect the highest good. He proclaimed what we have learned today to consider the genuine character of Judaism. As is widely recognized by now. in Saadya Gaon’s formulation.Forward JOHN PODHORETZ Lessons to be learned from an election without substance. the pantheistic suggestions of the first and third book of the Zohar were of the highest significance for Spinoza. . . . amor Dei intellectualis. . and the mugging of neoconservatives -. between the theories of the Ethics and the doctrines of the Kabbalah occur in the area of body-mind relations. if not complete identity. . and of the Torah as a cultural creation of the people. Maryland _____________ Commentary on Faceb Like 6. or things. The most striking resemblance. . Leibnitz mentioned it in his Theodicy as early as 1708. Fac ebook s oc ial plugin Was Promoting Democracy a Mistake? JOHN AGRESTO Milton Himmelfarb writes: In Spinoza’s time Judaism was not yet a multifarious.With a response by Abe Greenwald Sign Up! open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. Now. mainly through the studies of Gershom Scholem. Moreover. the Torah created the Jews. Ironically enough. What Spinoza knew to be the undisputed Jewish doctrine was. . . no being a Jew culturally or sentimentally or metaphorically.com . . significance of which has been rediscovered only in the last two decades. subjective thing. Spinoza’s concept of God is based primarily on kabbalistic ideas. stems from the second book of the Zohar. Nowadays most Jews think of Judaism as the civilization of the Jewish people. Spinoza shares the idea of the intellectual union with God with Maimonides. . That is to say. that we are a people only by virtue of the Torah. then. Henry Walter Brann Tacoma Park.642 people like Commentary D om A ndy Bob A Post-Mortem on Post-Mortems ANDREW FERGUSON After the election The GOP’s Broken Machine BENJAMIN DOMENECH The technological gap between Romney and Obama was also a leadership gap. Even the mysterious concept of Spinoza’s. the Arab Spring. There was no liberal Judaism. no secular Jewishness. . Break Up the Banks JAMES PETHOKOUKIS The great missed opportunity of 2012 could be a new opportunity for conservatives going forward. thirty-one years after Spinoza’s death. . the close relationship between Spinoza and the Kabbalah was recognized very early.
He could have said this if he had wanted to. Of course it was also the undisputed Jewish doctrine that the Torah was divine. the Torah created the Jews. There were Christian kabbalists—Pico della Mirandola. and in any event we must learn to live with new ones. they always take it for granted that the Torah is a divine document. arguendo. he need no longer fear excommunication. he was only a bad or sinful Jew. In recent years the late David Ben-Gurion was only the most prominent of many calling for the rehabilitation of Spinoza the Jew. A prudent man will hesitate to bet that a reference to the Jew Karl Marx or to the Judaism or Jewish emotion of Karl Marx is friendly. Spinoza treated the Bible as a human document (and is therefore the founder of modern Bible criticism). For Spinoza the Torah was not only human." Makers and Takers JEREMY ROZANSKY A review of Nicholas Eberstadt's "A Nation of Takers. was “genuine Hebraism” an unambiguous compliment? He did not mean to compliment Morris Raphael Cohen when he called him an Oriental philosopher. that he was influenced by Kabbalah. Excommunicated. He denied that Spinoza was a good Jew. said no. That is to say. Nowhere does Spinoza say what liberal or secular Jews were to say after him. as if that were not enough.Hispanic Panic LINDA CHAVEZ The GOP has gone off the rails on immigration issues. or the Code Napoléon. There can be no mystical interpretation of human documents: the Declaration of Independence. Even granted. and not the Jews the Torah. but also human of a rather inferior sort. liberal Jew. Levenson's "Inheriting Ab raham" The Thing with Feathers ANDREW ROBERTS A review of Dennis Prager's "Still the Best Hope" PURCHASE PAST ISSUES Israel. that the old Jewish self-definition was wrong. With Santayana. philosopher. A generation earlier German Jews had called for it. the most Jewish of philosophers? Fiction Sandy in Her Tub JOSEPH EPSTEIN The short story for December Politics & Ideas Abrahamism HILLEL FRADKIN A review of Jon D. that does not make him a Jew. In Jewish law and in the eyes of the Jewish community a Jew who denied this did not cease to be a Jew. In his own eyes the Jew who denied this had necessarily ceased to be a Jew. or Byron’s poetry. the Will and Promise STEPHEN DAISLEY A review of Danny Danon's "Israel" and Daniel Gordis's "The Promise of Israel. people only by virtue of the Torah. However far kabbalistic readings may go in the direction of heterodoxy. Why should we ask for more? Why must we also have it that he was as Jewish as Maimonides or." About the Author Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Warfare on Shabbat: The Legacy of the Maccabees pdfcrowd.com open in browser PRO version . and adherent of Bible criticism. Kabbalah is mystical interpretation of the Torah. The great philosopher Spinoza was an ex-Jew of singular courage and probity. for one. or the collected addresses of Felix Adler. not human. Hermann Cohen.
Ezra and Nehemiah were so successful in instilling Shabbat observance that Jews refused to take up arms on Shabbat to defend themselves—with disastrous results. to write a letter to the Editor." Culture & Civilization Tantra Tantrum CHRISTINE ROSEN Email Print Like 0 Share Do you want to respond to this article? Click here. TOBIN A monthly compendium open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. Read more » Enter your email to receive the latest from JEWISH IDEAS DAILY in your inbox every morning! E-MAIL A review of Naomi Wolf's "Vagina" Meddling with Mettle NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY A review of Paul Tough's "How Children Succeed" The Devil & Mr. the Centrifuges Spin JONATHAN S.com .Takers. Burton TERRY TEACHOUT BLOG BY DATE December 2012 M T W T F S 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 S 2 9 A review of Chris Williams's "The Richard Burton Diaries" A Post-Mortem on Post-Mortems ANDREW FERGUSON 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 « Nov After the election Threat Assessment America Talks.
com .Letters Tax Cuts and the American Economic Boom OUR READERS Responses to Arthur Herman's "How America Got Rich" It’s All About the First Freedom OUR READERS Responses to Wilfred M. McClay's "When Is Religion Bad Religion?" The Future of American Jewry OUR READERS Responses to Jack Wertheimer's "First New York’s Jews.Personalized Crystal Awards & Plaques Etched Crystal Awards & Crystal Plaques open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. Then America’s?" Phone Cards International Phone Cards DIY Awards .
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