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"Into Life"??! Franz Rosenzweig and the Figure of Death Author(s): Zachary Braiterman Source: AJS Review, Vol.

23, No. 2 (1998), pp. 203-221 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Jewish Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1486906 . Accessed: 14/02/2014 06:36
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"INTO LIFE"??! FRANZROSENZWEIG AND THE FIGUREOF DEATH


by
ZACHARY BRAITERMAN
theSick and theHealthy, At the end of his short treatise Understanding

of whathe called healthy the restoration FranzRosenzweig predicated of death's the consciousness upon recognition sovereignty. "[One] must to no other he wrote. life but "A direct man death," [one's] goal healthy thegrave. The sickmaninvokes to continue towards has thestrength death be carried fear." and letshimself awayin mortal Rosenzweig juxtaposed theGrimReaperwithwearylife.The healthy knowsthat understanding willdashlifeto theground. Yet it takescomfort from death that knowing In theend,eloquent willacceptitwith lifefallssilent death as openarms. one speaks, "Do youfinally theeternally taciturn I me? am recognize your Inhisnotes tothe brother."' Nahum Glatzer remarks with translation, English "This in death-stands a contrast shock, concluding striking chapter--on to thefinal As ifto offset ourtext's passageof TheStarofRedemption." then more mordant Glatzer the verbatim tone, quotes seemingly life-affirming that conclude Glatzer isnot the paragraphs magnum Rosenzweig's opus.2 only to emphasize theimportance commentator of lifein Rosenzweig's system. Else-Rahel Freund notesthatTheStarofRedemption with Indeed, begins "from thephrase death" and concludes with thewords "intolife."In her

1. Franz the Sickandthe A View Man,and Rosenzweig, Understanding Healthy: ofWorld, God(NewYork: Press, 1953), p. 91. Noonday 2. Ibid., pp. 101-102.

AJS Review 23/2 (1998):203-221

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ofRosenzweig's theentire into life"constitutes death "from view, meaning existential analytic.3 of love, life, reassessthe importance In thispaperI will critically in ethics and social revelation, Alongside thought. Rosenzweig's speech, morbid strain. exhibit a prominent hiswritings I willargue that these motifs, of to life the end at I will showwhydeath's revelation Glatzer, Against does notcontradict theSickand theHealthy Rosenzweig's Understanding the I willargue that in TheStarofRedemption. conclusion Freund, Against at the end of and at the both of death Rosenzweig's beginning appears figure never turned his eye to our view,Rosenzweig opus. According magnum his draws and of death. thefigure from readers' Rosenzweig Again again, itsgate.In order lifethat waits andto theeternal to death attention beyond of the we will to make sense have this tomake refrains, stick, lyric argument we life." To widen ourperspective, than death" and"into "loveis stronger from letters anddiaries andfrom drawn willlookat material Rosenzweig's theYehudaHalevycommentary. By theend of thisessaywe will have to bracket of luminous a lessthan Trying biographical picture Rosenzweig. we shows a quietistic the side of considerations, religious Rosenzweig present with as lociofenlightenment.4 death anddying thinker preoccupied
I

andthings-like to Maurice "Colors, sounds, Merleau-Ponty, According of being."'Leaving Van Gogh's stars-are the focalpointand radiance of Beingaside,our own analysis of Van Gogh's starsand the question the of close to aesthetic markers Star attention pays light, Rosenzweig's these combines vision.Rosenzweig and spectacular consistently silence,
StarofRedemption" (TheHague:Martinus 1979), pp.3-5. Nijhoff, inPerspective: Reflections onHisLastDiaries," "Franz 4. See St6phane Moses, Rosenzweig with that of Mosesin all but coincides of New England, 1988),pp. 191-193.My analysis as a quietist forwhomlove givesonly Moses also characterizes one respect. Rosenzweig he does so on thebasisof Rosenzweig's vision. lifeandmystical latest, However, spiritual the that andterrestrial lifeconstitute Mosesconcedes realism entries. andunpublished, diary no such concession. In contrast, we make word in TheStarofRedemption. ultimate Ill.:Northwestern 5. Maurice Press, 1964), p. University Merleau-Ponty, Signs(Evanston,
15. Press in The Philosophyof Franz Rosenzweig,ed. Paul Mendes-Flohr (Hanover: University Franz Rosenzweig' Philosophyof Existence:An Analysisof "The 3. Else-Rahel Freund,

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to depictdeathand eternal life-even whenhe does notmention figures We havealready ourtheme theSickand seen,in Understanding explicitly. theHealthy, life with and deathwith Rosenzweig associating eloquence The sameassociations silence. occur in TheStarofRedemption. Revelation and redemption render terrestrial lifevocal through theauralphenomena of dialogue andchoral In vividcontrast, death and song--speech thinking. life silent eternal As we areabout tosee,theappearance of represent figures. silence is a cryptic with which todiscuss death andeternal life. signal Light also evokesthesemordant an apocalyptic the themes, figure representing of spectral visualcorrelate silence. We see thecombined of silence images andlight atwork inonesuchexample taken from the onredemption. chapter God's final "God himself must word, writes, Describing Rosenzweig speak theultimate wordwhich no be a word. For it must be theend may longer andno longer while wouldstill be anticipation ofthe anticipation, anyword next word.... In [God's]They, theWeandtheYe sink backinto onesingle Eachandevery name vanishes."6 light. blinding Love Conquers Death? Mostinterpretations of TheStarofRedemption allowthereader totrace a lineleading from an of death and the fear of death to (1) analysis (2) an of social and terrestrial life. I Part of the love, structure, analysis speech, with Staropens to anesthetize the human philosophy's attempt person against thefear ofdeath human consciousness toward a comprehensive bydirecting "All" that wouldnegate thereality of death. failsto However, philosophy under theisolated rubrics of God,world, orman.No single cognize reality idea can subsume theAll, now shattered intothree coeval fragments. In PartII, Rosenzweig setshimself thetaskof reconstituting thisbroken All thecourse andredemption. Creation through (Bahn)ofcreation, revelation, leavesus with a world ofmanifold crowned death. Thatis,death objects by consummates theobjectby fixing its identity once and forall under the tense. Atthesametime, death semantic-temporal signoftheperfect points "the created deathof the creature beyondCreation. writes, Rosenzweig the revelation ofa life which us beyond the portends level."'7 points creaturely
6. Franz Rosenzweig,The Star ofRedemption, trans.WilliamW. Hallo (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970), p. 238. 7. Ibid.,p. 155.

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andnothing lessthan love. more means nothing Rosenzw'eig By revelation, discovers love is as strong as thereader that that In theanalysis follows, butdead detail. worldpresented a worldof manifold The created death. theindividual now comesto animate Revelation (in thiscase the figure of sheer an experience belovedsoul) through individual presence, through I thelovebetween an isolated an I anda Thou.8 thelovebetween Finally, of the medium andThouassumes redemption. reality through comprehensive of a worldly united under theimage to thecreation Thisrefers community detail of epic creation themanifold unites of thechoral song.Redemption oflove.Inwhat of callsthe aesthetic thelyrical with immediacy Rosenzweig interconnected nexus that now have arrived at an we animated, redemption, theAll.9 subsumes lifeandlove. The author of TheStarofRedemption affirms powerfully in we have cited the "the an odd statement last But what paragraph: just ofthecreature the which revelation ofa life us death created portends points doesnot refer to"death." Inthis the creaturely." passage, Rosenzweig beyond to "created This suggests theexistence death." of twotypes of He refers in we havea 1922diary which anddying. death Indeed, entry Rosenzweig that Revelation "overcomes created death andsetsup theright of suggests no in Whoever loves death. believes death and longer onlyin redeeming two texts the our When yields following Combining interpretation. death."'" in we take him states the Starthat "loveis as strong to as death," Rosenzweig loveconquers created death butnotredeeming Loveallows death. mean that to overcome thecreated thehealthy death that threatens thehuman person with It frees the beloved soulto common understanding paralysis. thereby of the the the fraternal death that death, i.e., figure redeeming catapults greet life. eternal soulinto thecourse charted doesnotproceed from In sum, death byRosenzweig it life. from toloveandeveryday Rather,joltsbackandforth (1) thecreated
8. Ibid., p. 193. 9. Ibid., pp.242-245. and sein Werk, 10. FranzRosenzweig, Der Mensch Gesammelte I Briefe und Schriften, 2 Bande, ed.Rachel andEdith (TheHague: Rosenzweig Rosenzweig-Scheinemann, Tagebucher, ofthis inMoses, letter Martinus 1979),p. 778 (emphasis added).See thediscussion Nijhoff, "Die Bestimmung in Perspective," "Franz Marx, pp. 191-192.See also Werner Rosenzweig ed. derErlosung' FranzRosenzweig des Todesim 'Stern (1886-1929), " in Der Philosoph Karl Alber Wolfdietrich Internationaler Schmeid-Kowarzik, (Munich: Kongress Verlag Freiburg, 1988), pp.612-615.

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death of creaturely existence to (2) love andterrestrial lifeandbackagain and eternal life.As practically all of Rosenzweig's death to (3) redeeming constitutes thepivotal commentators agree,love (revelation) pointin the It is as a of life in the midst of death. And itmirrors system. caught symbol thecalendrical lifewithin andritual ofterrestrial structures life.As eternal described the much of The Star such, eternity throughout ofRedemption's is a static, inwhich theflow oftime third stands still cyclical repetition part ofhistorical time." within thelinear thelight andlove However, parameter mirror in this-time a faraway, that revealeternity source from supernatural theother sideoflife. beyond Immortality to thefollowing Freund herargument that the points passagetobuttress death to everyday lifeconstitutes ofRosenzweig's movefrom themeaning thefinal swellofthecommunal choral Describing thought. songofredemp"The We are eternal: Deathplunges intothe tion, Rosenzweig proclaims, inthefaceofthis ofeternity. shout Lifebecomes immortal Nought triumphal ofpraise."'2 inredemption's eternal death liesvanquished, but Indeed, hymn Freund. notinthe senseintended Freund's choral the that by reading suggests lifeimmortal. renders form Others havepointed to themessianic everyday of in our lifeand character Rosenzweig's However, view, thought. everyday do notexhaust his understanding messianism of redemption. this-worldly insists that "the itsgrowth build on the of Rosenzweig kingdom may growth itis dependent life. Butinaddition on something first which else,something lifeoftheimmortality which lifeseeksfor assures itself.""' this in With to conclusion otherworldly supplement mind, Rosenzweig's does theredemption not us. after the chapter surprise Immediately passage to therabbinic quoted by Freund, points Rosenzweig sage Rav's depiction of thepiousin theworld-to-come. "Foronlythus comments, Rosenzweig didtheRabbisdareto describe theeternal blissoftheworld tocome, which differs from that everrenewed thesolitary soulfound indivine peacewhich love:the with crowns ontheir andbehold the ofthe radiance heads, pioussit,
11. Stephane andRevelation: ThePhilosophy trans. System ofFranzRosenzweig, Mosbs, Catherine State 223. (Detroit: Press, Tihanyi Wayne 1992), University pp. 170-172, 12. Rosenzweig, StarofRedemption, p. 253. 13. Ibid., p. 225 (emphasis added).

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So endsthechapter on redemption. Thisimage ofeternal manifest deity."'4 combines thetrope of light with thepromise of lifein theworld-to-come the to vision. veiled allusion the luminous Clearly, spectacular appearance becomemanifest of a deity does notbelong Gottheit) (offenbargewordene To borrow thelanguage to this-world. of Understanding theSickand the this that life and love the Healthy, passagesuggests propel belovedsoul thegoal ofdeath andtheradiant toward vision described As bytherabbis. to see,theholiday we arenowabout structure in thethird sketched of part themirror with theStarconstitutes which thebeloved soulprepares itself. to silence recourse andlight in Part III oftheStarwillrecall Rosenzweig's ofeloquent thedescription lifefalling silent before in Understanding death It will the Sickandthe also recall the allusion to the Healthy. perceived light intheworld-to-come. bytherighteous Back into Life?(TheSilent Ritual Cycle) At theend of theredemption (i.e.,theendof thesecond chapter part of theStar),thebelovedsoul has leapedfrom thegradual of the growth terrestrial to a radiant vision ofeternal life. must now Kingdom Rosenzweig direct thebeloved soulbackinto life. In theintroduction tothethird of part he warns theStar, his readers fanatics who ahead to the final against jump ahead toward the beloved soulthreatens tolose end-goal. Byleaping goal,the inthevoid.To counter itself this hastheKingdom danger, Rosenzweig grow in earthly, socialtime. Love must proceed gradually, onlythemost loving thenextone without (derNichste)andthen proximate person concerning itself for thenext-after In a 1920letter toRudolf Hallo, (derUberndchste).'5 this reiterates with the samelanguage drawn from his Rosenzweig point very He tells Hallo that we should look at the next-moment magnum opus. only andforget the fact that wecandieatthe next-after-moment (derNdchste) (der Deathstands the before human him orherinto Uberndchste). person, forcing life ourattention backtothe Starwe seehowthe ritual (insLeben).'6 Turning ofJudaism andChristianity andthe historical ofChristianity cycles trajectory to thegradual contribute of theKingdom from one moment to the growth
14. Ibid.,p. 253. 15. Ibid.,pp. 270-271. 16. Franz Rosenzweig,Der Mensch undsein Werk, I, p. 662.

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thethird oftheStarrepresents As Robert a turning next. Gibbsnotes, part lifeandsocialstructures." backtoterrestrial theintertwined trace ofdeath andeternal lifehaunts theritual However, of the and visions of a face. under silence, tropes light, spectacular cycle to PartIII, Rosenzweig asserts that thesilent In theintroduction common themaincomponent of liturgy. (notthecommon word)constitutes gesture are not audible. to Ritualsignifiers visual, According Rosenzweig, "They we see light. are thelight, of a by which Theyare thesilent anticipation inthesilence ofthefuture."'8 intheintroduction world Elsewhere gleaming calls liturgy thereflector that to PartIII, Rosenzweig focuses thelight of of the It the small the into soul for the ultimate cycle year. prepares eternity union.19 Thislight is saidto shine ofperfect likea face, "likean eye silence is eloquent without to which the move. the Unlike muteness ofthe lipshaving which had no words here we have a which nolonger silence yet, protocosmos, word. Itis thesilence ofconsummate hasanyneedofthe One understanding. here."20 glancesayseverything An eeriesilencerunsthroughout of theholRosenzweig's description The Sabbath sermon is to unanimous silence from supposed beget idays. A fewpages later, its listeners.21 contrasts the with Sabbath Rosenzweig and noise.22 theworkweek's chatter The biblicalpilgrimage festivals of and Sukkot are supposedly marked Passover, Shavuot, by the common that festival meal-an eating thesoulfor the ultimate of prepares experience common thefestivals unable to quietthehuman silence.23 However, prove soul.Forthiseffect, to wordless turns Rosenzweig gesture (symbolized by RoshHashana andYomKippur). once met at the festival table, Having people eachother what the critic Russell Berman calls greet silently. Echoing literary has the the "fascist modernism," Rosenzweig utopia represented by army,
17. Robert Correlations inRosenzweig andLevinas Princeton Gibbs, (Princeton: University and Revelation, and "FranzRosenzweig in Perspective"; Press,1992). Cf. Moses,System Richard A. Cohen, TheHeight andLevinas Elevations: oftheGoodinRosenzweig (Chicago: ofChicago Press, 1994), pp.70-71. University 18. Rosenzweig, StarofRedemption, p. 295. 19. Ibid., pp. 308-309. 20. Ibid., p. 295. 21. Ibid., p. 310. 22. Ibid., p. 314.
23. Ibid.,pp. 315-316.

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the tothe ofbelonging the common whole, knowledge spirit, flag---situations eachother andgreets knows inwhich wordlessly.24 everyone everyone to light, veiledallusions has onlyleft So far, union, perfect Rosenzweig silent as the ofdeath becomes The discussion silence. andultimate explicit On this of Yom the turns to ritual day,the apex Kippur. spiritual cycle the In Rosenzweig's belovedsoul wears a whiteshroud. interpretation, and at their men on Jewish Passover worn shroud weddings traditionally by theshroud death. On these occasions, drinking, signifies eating, challenges theattire ofdeath. With theshroud andjoy.Buton YomKippur, represents alonebefore the God on theDay of Judgment, thebelovedsoul standing and this reached its At the border of life has crescendo. death, cycle holiday InRosenzweig's soulperceives God'sface. Jewish masculinized description, of of Awe he confronts the "Onthe ... loneliness, judgeinutter eyes his Days inthe fullness midst oflife ... beyond the deadinthe as ifhewere very grave tothis andlonely united ofliving.... God lifts up hiscountenance pleading . . . Andso manto whom thedivine shrouds. countenance ofmenin their the'Lordis God': this bursts outintotheexultant God is lifted profession: last YomKippur the soul's of love,he aloneis God!""25 represents jubilant from the on The final we know confident word, chapter redemption, cry. toGod'ssilent majesty. belongs tothe vision ofYomKippur, we return From thespectacular yearly cycle that theholiday of Sukkot evokes. andthemundane insecurity liturgically in theTalmud harvest therabbis makethis biblical we know that Of course in thedesert. festival commemorate theIsraelites' Rosenzweig wandering toargue oftime inorder theme that Sukkot reinstates the takes reality up this Yom Kippur's foretaste of eternity.26 Forall that to neutralize Rosenzweig is something anticlimactic in his description of Sukkot. loves life,there not of or life does the calendar represent highpoint Rosenzweig's Everyday To use a term from classical we should theapexofhissystem. drawn music, follows rather Sukkot YomKippur as thediminuendo follows the say that From theapex ofYomKippur at theborder ofdeath, theritual crescendo! of hasforced the beloved soulbackinto backinto decrescendo the life, cycle terrestrial existence. daily
24. Ibid.,pp. 321-322. 25. Ibid.,p. 327. 26. Ibid.,p. 328.

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oftheFace attheGateofDeath Vision writes us that Cohenremind Moses andRichard Rosenzweig Stephane Atthe endofthe ofTheStarofRedemption. into thescore onelastcrescendo The a surprising that itplots, thereader confronts andthecourse text sight.27 Yom at the of God's countenance belovedsoul had briefly apex perceived vision a detailed Now,at theend of theStar thesoul encounters Kippur. thesoulseestheeyes,ears, face.In thislastvision, ofthedivine nose,and thelifeof thisfaceis gathered to Rosenzweig, of God. According mouth of all "The mouth is consummator and fulfiller He writes, in themouth. in at is both of which the countenance as, last, speech capable, expression in the kiss." which retreats: described behind in thesilence Having speech was "Butfor God'sface, Moses,whoinhislifetime concludes, Rosenzweig not to this to land of his enter sealed see the God it, desire, only privileged The of a kissof his mouth."28 face, course, lifewith represents completed ofabsolute truth. theconfiguration revelation, God,world, creation, person, form that had into theunitary andredemption pattern speculative cognition "intolife," Notthelyric refrain butthisvisionof theface to grasp. failed theapexoftheStar constitutes visionoccursat thegatesof death. In our view,thisclimactic First, thetext's thecoupling of deathand God's facehad marked we notethat to thedivine We saw allusive references and presence highpoints. previous at theconclusion of theredemption countenance where thedivine chapter, oftherighteous in theworld-to-come. described thereward A Rosenzweig countenance divine Oursecond appeared againat theapexofYomKippur. the appearance of the face withdeathis textual. reasonforassociating his concludes of to God depiction thefacewitha reference Rosenzweig on At Moses the mouth.29 the end of the midrashic text kissing Deuteronomy therabbis theAngel Mosesresisting ofDeath. SinceMoses Rabbah, picture refuses to yieldto death, God must comeandpersonally drawoutMoses' lastbreath. linksthe Rabbah, By citing Deuteronomy Rosenzweig subtly visionof absolute with truth death's advent. We find a further spectacular forassociating thisappearance withdeathin our third warrant aesthetic We marker: have seen associate withthe light. already Rosenzweig light
27. See Moses,System andRevelation, Elevations, pp.284-286;Cohen, pp.241-267. 28. Rosenzweig, StarofRedemption, p. 423. 29. Ibid.

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in theworld-to-come. Onceagain, nowat thevery oftherighteous reward the describes wereturn tothis endofthe Star, leading gate figure. Rosenzweig can in which no man miraculous outofthemysterious, sanctuary light-filled alive.30 remain Life? Into of lifeanddeath, visionat theborder Fromthisclimactic Rosenzweig the is none life. vouchsafed here soulbackinto leadsthe Miraculously, vision in themidst of life:to do justiceandto love theone perceived other than with andtowalkhumbly God.On a more note, personal Rosenzweig mercy in a 1925letter toBuber that "into life" cametomean married life explains Hahnandwork atthe Thistouching letter Edith FreeJewish with Lehrhaus.31 with with thelastwords ofTheStarofRedemption) accords perfectly (along andGlatzer. life" means life. theviewsofFreund "Into everyday arethelastwords these Stardoesnotmean ofthe However, justbecause thehighest in "life"represents that We do not good Rosenzweig's system. life to no other than death at theendof Rosenzweig directing forget goal theSickand theHealthy. ourtwotexts, we take Understanding Combining Itmeans life" lifedirected toward death. togood "into tomeaninto coming andovercoming thefear ofitthat would with death otherwise terms paralyze In ourview, "into life" a diminuendo! thehealthy understanding. represents the Inthe realia Sukkot follow the samewaythat spiritual gray symbolized by Yom "into life" the vision of of follows climactic God's face Kippur, apex to ourreading, and a likea decrescendo. death, silence, According light, visionof thetruth thehighpoint and highest represent good spectacular in a 1923 letter, an ailingRosenzweig in Rosenzweig's Indeed, thought. that hismother hecould A brutal reassures never commit suicide. pulltoward life andanunbounded toenjoy that hegoes However, preclude ability option. himis butthesecond-highest hislifefor on to saythat it is not That good. him thehighest he in with for feels the which he good really only tranquility toitsend.32 looksforward

30. Ibid.,p. 424. 31. Rosenzweig,Der Mensch undsein Werk, I, p. 1062. 32. Ibid.,pp. 921-922.

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The letter late.One couldreasonably dismiss its justcitedis admittedly that it reflects the sentiments of a overall by arguing significance mortally citeletters that illness sickman.We couldthen that predate Rosenzweig's and Freund's We Glatzer's have cited a 1920 letter support readings. already instructs Rudolf Hallonot toworry inwhich that wemight dieat Rosenzweig the Letters andDiariesshow the next-after-moment. However, Rosenzweig's hisdisease. In a 1920letter, hiscousin Walter Raeburn predating morbidity that he has alwaysrecoiled from in horror. confides Raeburn Rosenzweig in at his morbid the recounts face of life.33 having laughed speculations happy NoteRosenzweig's With a trace of he denies response. perhaps irony, being andalienfrom life. then counters that has Raeburn melancholy Rosenzweig to privilege lifeovermorbid no right own hatred Raeburn's speculation. was itself too speculative. forspeculation therefore counsels Rosenzweig neither Raeburn to fear himself norhis owntalents, Rosenzweig goingon that ourtalents to suggest arenotourfault.34 As we arenowaboutto see, letters offer further of his talents. Morethan Rosenzweig's proof speculative will we find death in of terms his own dark once, Rosenzweig describing joy, in terms oftranquility andbeauty. Theseletters, and entries, personal diary bolster ourown suspicion accounts that theories aboutlife, Rosenzweig's life themselves be morbid love,andeternal might speculations. Precocious Reflections The first references to death in theLetters andDiariestaketheform of considers the jokes.Inone1907diary playful entry, Rosenzweig philosophical ofdenying death. toa hypothetically possibility Responding posedquestion, do youthink "What about "That itis a bad death?", notes, Rosenzweig curtly to think it." about He on to remark how it symptom anything goes strange is that he has absolutely no relation to thetopic. theyoung Clearly joking, to offer a pseudo-Kantian to support the Rosenzweig proceeds argument of immortality. notion thehuman Qua physiological phenomenon, person doesnotdie,becausehe or sheis already dead.Qua noumenon, thehuman doesnotdie,because heorshehasnever lived intime.35 I do not want person
33. Ibid.,p. 684. 34. Ibid.,pp. 685-686. 35. Ibid.,p. 74.

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written to dwellon a diary wit.Atthesametime, we entry bya precocious that these reflections follow thedisavowal ofanyrelation to notetheirony Bestnotto think butRosenzweig ofdeath. about doesso thesubject death, nonetheless. with which the Thelaughing considers ourtopic spirit young Rosenzweig tothis onediary is notisolated We find a in entry. perfect example Hermann of Rosenzweig's Badt's 1908 account ablutions. to visit morning Coming Badtfinds latein themorning, stillinbed.Badtthen Rosenzweig proceeds aboutthelength of timehe takespreparing to teaseRosenzweig himself. Badtrecords a half-serious, about lecture Rosenzweig's response: half-jesting ofdaily from themoment death the and nocturnal awakening being greatest of the In most one never too could dwell day. Rosenzweig's holypart eyes, this renewal. He on describes as he who not long daily truly happy only this butremains even conscious experiences consciously dailyreawakening ofdeath, at themoment from this world tothebeyond.36 stepping we begin tounderstand Raeburn recoiled from Perhaps why Rosenzweig. Badt'smoresympathetic At thesametime, account a provides fascinating windowontoRosenzweig's This earlylinkbetween spiritual biography. anddeath themore ritual mature reflections found in TheStarof anticipates In the Star life ritual reflects the of lifeintothe Redemption. light eternal of narrow life. It itsjourney toward prism temporal helpsthesoul direct thegoal of death.In Badt's account, ritual the soul's practice heightens of life'sdailyrenewal. consciousness It prepares thesoul fortheultimate In this ritual anddeath coalesceinthelight-hearted source, step. early jokes ofan indolent student. Quietism maintained anactive interest indeath as hematured. Ina 1917 Rosenzweig letter to hiscousin HansEhrenberg, he notes that evenanimists andpagans inthe soul'simmortality. believe Inhiseyes, resurrection constitutes corporeal the of death excellence. continues religious conceptualization par Rosenzweig to talkaboutChristian, and Germanic the Jewish, throughout eschatology oftheletter.37 remainder do exhaust however, Scholarly preoccupations not, mature indeath. interest In a 1917letter toRudolf Rosenzweig's Ehrenberg,
36. Ibid.,p. 85. 37. Ibid.,p. 358.

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he that hiscousin informs on theBalkanfront) (nowa soldier Rosenzweig a blind andmaintains his personal has no presentiments destiny regarding he willdie Either activities. ofhisfuture theimportance regarding certainty and him work Thiswillspare needhim. case Goddoesnot inwhich inbattle, resume to him needs God that mean would which will he survive, Or, worry. Hansfor rebukes stricken themortally hisduties.38 Yearslater, Rosenzweig not andhe would exchange him.Dyingpeoplearenotsentimental, pitying anyone.39 placeswith war the notsurvive that hemight the That possibility accepts Rosenzweig comesto accepthis diseasedoes notmakehima quietist. he later or that in thefollowing we find ofjoy that lacktheexpression Bothletters letter, and his cousin to datedMay 27, 1922.In thisletter, responds Rosenzweig him with to be able not at Gertrud confidante being regret Oppenheim's He to consoleOppenheim. tries times. thesetroubled Rosenzweig during so far, a dying one can onlyaccompany herthat reassures just as person Thenthe station. as therailway as far a passenger one can accompany only feelonlysorrow. Thoseleft behind blowsandthetrain whistle disappears. In a different leaveforms theperson However, impression. actually taking to is that which a "dark he feels totheshared addition sorrow, joy" awaiting as "obscure "dark renders Glatzer Freude) anticipation"--a joy" (dunkle of Rosenzweig's does no justiceto theeeriness that translation metaphor.41 to Glatzer's translation this In ourview, unwillingness recapitulates peculiar the the and Sick of conclusion mordant the Healthy. Understanding grasp a thesoul's departure which Thejoy with betrays anticipates Rosenzweig "into saw of in this we the diminuendo Earlier strain. essay, deepquietistic This vision ofthefaceinTheStarofRedemption. theecstatic life" following does not face the our confirms letter inevitability Rosenzweig reading. only with the he contemplates hisowndemise with sober ofdying poise.Rather ofa deeply affected soul. fervor religious charged highly
come.40

38. Ibid.,p. 376. 39. Ibid.,pp. 847-848. 40. Ibid.,p. 788. Franz Rosenzweig:His Lifeand Thought 41. NahumGlatzer, (New York:SchockenBooks, 1953), p. 115.

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ofDeath TheBeauty itwith death andmoves toward a dark Rosenzweig accepts joy Perhaps with itbeautiful. Wehavealready seentheaesthetic he finds because charge in TheStarofRedemption. describes death Death means which Rosenzweig andspectacular bodies. A 1911source silence, moldering light, vision--not a similarly old age. finds pose toward Rosenzweig adopting contemplative his in he writes his maternal on dissertation to Berlin, grandfather Working he onhisseventy-fifth With tremendous Amschel fondness, birthday. Alsberg a living document ofthe nineteenth and the callshisgrandfather century age then rebukes hisgrandfather, who(like ofBismarck. playfully Rosenzweig well rather about oldagerather than "all oldpeople")would complain speak offers a different stance. He claims tolookforward ofit.Rosenzweig actually to experience a newrelationship to things. To to old age as an opportunity a and to old means consummate detached attitude Rosenzweig, age according "all this onecanclaimthat doesn't concern me." this which On basis, really won'tsympathize with about old Rosenzweig elderly peoplewhocomplain seenthepassion, Wehavealready thedark which joy,with Rosenzweig theend of life.In thisletter we see old age (theproximity of anticipates of a and aesthetic distance from terrestrial death) forming part contemplative life.It is as if Rosenzweig one day enjoytheact of dying even might than lifeitself. Wefind more a similar Rosenzweig reflecting upon liminality thathe had experienced the war.Although came to during Rosenzweig of the one cannot the that tire much ofhis war, escape impression he spent service rather Theletters from the front show him military pleasantly. reading, theofficer tourist articles, preparing lecturing corps. Theyshowa wartime charmed communities ofUskub inMacedonia andofWarsaw. bytheJewish alludes to similar ina 1922letter The to Oppenheim. pleasures Rosenzweig stricken describes his filled with lectures routine, mortally Rosenzweig daily and reading. He admits that thissounds comical. thewar,he had During felt sometimes thesameway, butnotfrequently. Nowheperceives this tobe ill true. to the is more than beautiful mortally sage,dying simply According living.43
42. Rosenzweig,Der Mensch undsein Werk, I, pp. 121-122. 43. Ibid.,pp. 785-786.

age.42

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DeathandLife ouranalysis of theLetters We conclude and Diarieswith a letter that life and death. Before we to at showsRosenzweig look this loving begin thediseasethat we wantto notethatit predates was to makethe letter, In this1918 letter, withdeathand dying encounter immediately pressing. to consolehis mother on thedeath of herhusband, attempts Rosenzweig herhowduring thewarshewrote himhowherlife He reminds his father. to him.In contrast, wereto happen wouldcease if something Rosenzweig or future loss thatcouldalienate of no present himfrom life. can think makes us more familiar with own loss our no loss can Whileevery death, the"houseof life."In the us closerto it.No loss can expelus from bring his I and theunfathomable faceof death, upholds Rosenzweig stubbornly tasks that eachdaynewly andsurprising loss,byfamiliarizing brings. Every makesone moreprepared forlife.An interesting one with it death, letter, loveoflifeandextraordinary evokesRosenzweig's senseofself. However, "The less I feardeath, indeedthemore I love it, continues, Rosenzweig I can live. and lifearetwodifferent themorefreely and Happiness things, that menfinally cameto ascribe blissto thedeadalone.In it's no wonder it is nottheportion of theliving."44 In our view,thisstrange anyevent, letter shows condolence death likethebrother identified Rosenzweig loving theSick and theHealthy. at theend of Understanding Written in 1918, the thisletter accident of his as predates biographical disease-just Walter hadsuggested. Raeburn
III

It willnotsurprise us to find similar reflections in theYehuda Halevy translation and commentary. Written after theSickand the Understanding andbefore theBibletranslation, Healthy Rosenzweig's Halevy commentary one of the of twentieth-century Jewish represents greatliterary products than Rather a scattered he organized theHalevy present thought. miscellany, poems and his own "notes"arounda masterfully arranged theological We find in Rosenzweig's commentaries thesamephilosophical analysis.45
44. Translated by NahumGlatzerin Franz Rosenzweig:Lifeand Thought, p. 67 (emphasis added). 45. For a similar opinion, see Barbara Ellen Galli, "Placing the Halevi Book, Rosenand Translations, zweig, and the Star,"in Franz Rosenzweigand JehudaHalevi: Translating,

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that attract readers to theStar:theattention to and headylyricism acuity ofthelove thedialogic passionate descriptions playofrevelation, language, sametime, the turn toward Atthe Godandhuman souls, community. binding thesamemorbid strain: thepreoccupation reveals theHalevycommentary thenotion that thesoulis bound to death within anddying, with death life, ofthesoul'sjoyful movement toward that death. andthepicture "God" thepoemsand commentaries intofour organizes separate Rosenzweig In the first "God"),he has thepoettakeup the (entitled chapter chapters. theknowledge ofrevelation, ofGod,andreligious themes praise. Qualifying in theStar,Rosenzweig themoral thechoralshoutdescribed recognizes He God. knows that too threaten posed by praising danger many hallelujahs ofevilandindividual outtherealities todrown No one who wants suffering. thesehas theright to praiseGod.46Suffering, to forget however, performs function. God mustshaketheworlduntilit collapsesintoa a cathartic ofbodyandsoul.In placeofa proud confusion order thesoulfinds spiritual amidst confidence a chaosof humiliation.47 endsthe religious Rosenzweig onthecertainty ofdivine He describes therestrained chapter reflecting help. we arenotgone, butlive.Rosenzweig leaveshisreaders with two joy that The first kinds of certainty. reflects theeasycertainty to one to belonging been The whom has to those who have help given. deeper certainty belongs suchdeepdespair that thememory reached ofpasthelphas choked. When has become itcanonly comefrom thefarthest source.48 unbelievable, help on God. The revelation So ends the chapter of divinepresence, the in divine rests on theexperience of suffering, helpparadoxically certainty and despair. faith of suffering dread, (in thecathartic Rosenzweig's power totransform human consciousness andreveal thepresence ofGod)doesnot inmodem a unique trust Jewish Thesamerhetoric marks represent thought. thework ofMartin Buber andAbraham Joshua Heschel. too They predicate
ed. Barbara Ellen Galli (Montreal:McGill-Queen's University Translators, Press, 1995), p. 289. 46. Ibid.,pp. 202-204. 47. Ibid.,p. 208. 48. Ibid.,pp. 211-212.

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ontheshock evoked encounter What sets divine byhorror.49 apart Rosenzweig is theexcessive hisfellow "existentialists" that from characterizes morbidity andHeschel histhinking. Buber never seemtoshare thesamepreoccupation that we find in thenextchapter with deathand theworld-to-come of the commentary. Halevy "Soul" In our text'ssecondchapter charts the (entitled "Soul"), Rosenzweig soul'smovement from to As he does not this despair triumph. promised, buy confidence his readers' attention death. Onceagain, by turning awayfrom we find lifeanddeath insists that Judaism intimately entangled. Rosenzweig of good withotherworldly couplesa sensual, this-worldly understanding He goeson todescribe thepoetapprehending lifeinthemidst anticipations. ofdeath andlonging for sensual reward. toRosenzweig, worldly, According the full understood of sensual and of Halevy equivalence reward, spiritual and salvation. This of both worlds, worldly otherworldly however, blending itsboundary finds at thepoint of death. Whileeternity mayhereandthere intoevery break insists that theclaspof moment, earthly Rosenzweig only allowsthesoultograsp lifeas a real, eternity present, perfected whole."5 endsthechapter on thesoulwith thesameconfidence that Rosenzweig we saw in Understanding theSickand theHealthy. Deathdoesnotfrighten thesoulwhich awaitsitscall home.Rosenzweig describes a floating away ofimmediate musical as the introduces the motif ofdeath into a power poet dedicated to life. The calm of in life death allows therefrain poem certainty oflife torisemore andmore Andfinally, the call"into life" with exuberantly. which thesoulgreets life allowsittoenter the"community ofsouls." earthly The poethas turned from thetoday andhereto thethere andalways."5 In thenext describes thepoetglancing outoftemporal life poem, Rosenzweig thelifeofeternity into onthedayofdeath as thesoulsurveys both worlds.52 in the summarizes all the note, Finally, chapter's concluding Rosenzweig
49. See Zachary Braiterman, (God) AfterAuschwitz:Traditionand Change in PostHolocaust JewishThought, Princeton (Princeton: Press, 1998), chap. 3. University 50. Galli, Franz Rosenzweigand JehudaHalevi, pp. 219-223. 51. Ibid.,pp. 231-233.

52. Ibid., p. 233.

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for a vision ofthesoul:thelonging ofGod,thecertainty ofdeath, the songs ofthesoulanditsdesire togo home.53 heavenly origin "Zion" Thelast ofthe Yehuda book(inthe entitled Halevy poems chapter "Zion") the his andultimate Spain, sorrow, recapitulate poet'sleaving anticipation, this confidence. takes tomean the lamentation Rosenzweig poet's overcoming we find thefamiliar andlonging. ofdoleful Again, pattern yearning breaking In theGodchapter, hadargued into that those who delight. Rosenzweig only anddeath areallowed topraise. darenotforget Now,Rosenzweig suffering in terms evokesthisveryforgetting of bright, consciousness and manly vision. The that will crown Zion at the end of clear, inspired greatness days the ofthe overwhelms Andso the his memory people's suffering. poet forgets inorder torejoice. This lament messianic trust. joypoints beyond Rosenzweig thepoetcarrying this death.54 concludes, imagining jubilant songtohisvery Thisis thefinal, crowning imageofthe1927Yehuda Halevy commentary. LikeUnderstanding the Sickandthe this text alsoendsona note of Healthy, "dark joy."

IV
The foregoing has left discussion us with what is perhaps an unfamiliar of Rosenzweig. We do notcall Rosenzweig a quietist becausehe picture the of death. One can share this view without accepts finality soberly being shows intheintensity itself with which he "morbid." quietism Rosenzweig's his readers' directs consciousness toward in the confidence death, jubilant which with he describes itsspiritual andinthebeautiful significance, figure hemakes ofit.I do notwant toignore the ofRosenzweig readings presented scholars likeGibbs, andGalli.Rosenzweig's dramatization Cohen, byrecent hisspeech oflife andlove, andsocialethics remain thinking, lasting legacies. a radiant reveal viewofdeath that strikes However, Rosenzweig's writings noteina post-Holocaust a discordant world. Unlike Rabbah's Deuteronomy doesnot the indisgust ofDeath or turn Moses,Rosenzweig awayfrom Angel
53. Ibid.,pp. 234-235. 54. Ibid.,pp. 285-6.

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a stick. In ourview, Glatzer wasright beatitbackwith tohavebeenshocked of Understanding theSickand theHealthy. by theconclusion Rosenzweig toomuch. to lovedeath a little seems to conclude thisessaywithout I wouldnotwant therefrain mentioning ends the StarClearly, with which moves the beloved Rosenzweig Rosenzweig thegatesofdeath back"into soulfrom life." ButdoesRosenzweig turn its Does he turn ourattention backon death? from it? We have away already thisquestion, butwithout answered thefollowing Readers of comparison. will all Walter Paul Klee's into Benjamin recognize angelflying historical timewithits face pointed toward theruined past.Klee's sad angelflies toward theterminus ofhistory. backwards thereverse Rosenzweig suggests The belovedsoul hasjumpedaheadandreached movement. theendpoint lifeand thought. It does notwantto die. It wants of human to live.With left togo butthrough nowhere theluminous it back into life. But gate, steps thebelovedsoul does not(as it were)turn from death and face away fly forward backinto life. thesoulbacksbackinto itsfacepointed Instead, life, with a dark joy toward spectacular light. Syracuse University N.Y. Syracuse,

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