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Is Judaism Thiswordly?

Cosmological Boundaries, Soteriological Bridges, and Social References in Judaism
  • Hillel Levine
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 165)

Abstract

Excessive polarization of thisworldly and otherworldly oriented action in Judaism is challenged by the living and “calling” of Robert S. Cohen. By all appearances and by the criteria of Max Weber, Bob is an altogether secular Jew. But the life of inquiry, integrity, and the passionate commitment of the scholar, teacher, entrepreneur of ideas, and friend (as much as the erudition and involvement in Jewish life of his progeny and progeny’s progeny) point to Bob’s affinities with and nurturance by the tradition of Isaiah and the reversibility of Weber’s concept of secularization. To him and to our more than two decades of the most delightful friendship, of reflecting upon and meeting “the ‘demands of the day’ in human relations as well as in our vocations,” I joyfully dedicate these musings.

Keywords

Jewish Community Jewish Life Jewish History Jewish Experience Jewish World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1a.
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  4. 1d.
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    Eric Voegelin, Order and History,vol. IV (Baton Rouge, 1974), 308–313Google Scholar
  6. 1f.
    Benjamin Schwartz (ed.), ‘Wisdom, Revelation, and Doubt: Perspectives on the First Millennium’, Daedalus, Spring, 1975. Compare with treatment of similar issues in Ezekiel Kaufman, Toledot Haemuna Hayisraelit (Tel Aviv, 1964), vols. I—VIII. Some of these attitudes derive from nineteenth century liberal Protestant theologians who uncritically accepted classical Christian perceptions of Judaism as preoccupied with law and as such, little more than “religious behaviorism” lacking spiritual motives and theological formulations.Google Scholar
  7. 2a.
    See, for example, Max Weber, in Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich (eds.), Economy and Society, vol. I (Berkeley, 1978), pp. 492-499Google Scholar
  8. 2b.
    611–623. H. Gerth and C. W. Mills (eds.), From Max Weber (New York, 1958), pp. 267–359. The over-simplifications and equivocations in Weber’s work on Judaism, particularly beyond the classical period, have been attributed to the fragmentary nature of his last works and the “feverish style of composition” rather than to the evolution of his ideas. Others have been less generous towards Weber and his interpretation of Judaism. Though the purpose of this essay is not to explicate Weber per se through a careful textual analysis, see below for a “sociology of knowledge” suggestion as to why Weber seemed to have difficulty deciding whether Judaism is to be included among “world religions” and how to assess “its historic and autonomous significance for the development of the modern economic ethic” among other aspects of modernity, ibid., p. 267.Google Scholar
  9. 3.
    S. N. Eisenstadt, ‘Transcendental Visions—Otherworldliness and Its Transformation’, Religion (1983) vol. 13, p. 10 ff. Guenther Roth and Wolfgang Schluchter, Max Weber’s Vision of History: Ethics and Methods (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1979), pp. 16–22 point to directions in which Weber’s “frame of reference” may be enlarged and reconstructed. Within that tradition of Weber criticism, this paper will formulate another direction to accommodate the historical particularisms of Judaism.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Michael Fishbane, ‘Israel and the Mothers’, in Peter Berger (ed.), The Other Side of God (Garden City, New York, 1981) pp. 28–47.Google Scholar
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    See Alfred Schutz, Collected Papers, vol. I (The Hague, 1970), p. 207 ff. In his essay, ‘On Multiple Realities’, Schutz develops concepts of the reality of the world of everyday life in contrast with paramount reality. These concepts are borrowed from William James and George Herbert Mead.Google Scholar
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    Fishbane,‘Israel and the Mothers’, in Peter Berger (ed.), The Other Side of God (Garden City, New York, 1981), p. 32 ff.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    Arthur Lovejoy discusses this in relation to the contrast between Indian and European thought. While the introduction of the Copernican cosmology is generally considered important in the turn of attention to the terrestrial sphere and thisworldly concerns, this intellectual development could very well have had the opposite effect intensifying otherworldliness to compensate for the diminished position of the terrestrial sphere. See Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, MA, 1973), pp. 142–143.Google Scholar
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    Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, MA, 1973), p. 41.Google Scholar
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    See Arnaldo Momigliano, Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Ephraim Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs, vol. I (Jerusalem, 1979), p. 542 ff.Google Scholar
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    Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance (New York, 1961), particularly pp. 60–62Google Scholar
  19. 12b.
    Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance (New York, 1961),153–158.Google Scholar
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    For parallel rabbinic sources, see Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs, vol. I (Jerusalem, 1979),, p. 526 ff.Google Scholar
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    What Scholem says about conservative and revolutionary mysticism pertains to this as well. See Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (New York, 1965), pp. 5–31.Google Scholar
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    Y. L. Zunz, Haderashot Beyisrael (Jerusalem, 1974), for one position on the relationship of these two types of midrashim and the relationship of legend and law.Google Scholar
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    Jacob Neusner, ‘Map Without Territory: Mishnah’s System of Sacrifices and Sanctuary’, History of Religions, 1979, pp. 126–127.Google Scholar
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    Hillel Levine, ‘Jewish Reticence towards Science in the Eighteenth Century’, Harvard Center for Jewish Studies Symposium on the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, MA, forth coming). Yitzhak Baer, Galut (New York, 1947).Google Scholar
  25. 18.
    Jonathan A. Smith, ‘Map is Not Territory’, Studies in the History of Religions. Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, no. 36 (Leiden, 1978), pp. XIII–XV. Quoted in Jacob Neusner, Map Without Territory: Mishnah’s System of Sacrifices and Sanctuary’, History of Religions, 1979, pp. 123–124.Google Scholar
  26. 19.
    Yosef Yerushalmi makes a similar point in regard to the attention paid to historical detail. See Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seattle and London, 1982).Google Scholar
  27. 20.
    Foucault discusses the condition under which facts and details become “within the true” of knowledge. See Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York, 1976), pp. 223–224.Google Scholar
  28. 21.
    Momigliano, Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization (Cambridge, 1975),, p. 100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 22.
    Gerson Cohen, ‘Messianic Postures of Ashkenazim and Sephardim’, Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture (New York, 1967), pp. 22–23.Google Scholar
  30. 23.
    Isaiah Tishbi points out that Isaac Luria and his disciples, by contrast with the early Kabbalists, incorporated the lower world into their cosmological models. While the mundane world still remained on the lowest level of the mystical cosmology, that it was in fact considered in these mystical depictions implies the assignment of some spiritual valence to the terrestrial world. See F. Lahover and I. Tishbi (eds.), Mishnat Zohar, 2 volumes (Jerusalem, 1957), I, p. 390. also see Moshe Idel, ‘Iggrot Shel R. Yitzhak Mipisa (?) Bi’shalosh Nusahoteha’, KobetzAl Yad, vol. X (1982), pp. 161–214, particularly pp. 180–181. For reconsiderations of the degree to which Lurianic Kabbalah was popularized, see Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, 1989).Google Scholar
  31. 24.
    See Margaret Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans (London, 1981).Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    See Hillel Levine, Economic Origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period (New Haven, 1991), pp. 107–135.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hillel Levine
    • 1
  1. 1.BrooklineUSA

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