On The Possibility Of Jewish Mysticism In Our Time


In this collection of essays chosen for this volume, we encounter a scholar passionately concerned with the cultural and spiritual renaissance of the Jewish people in its own land, a scholar whose concerns encompass issues of the cultural life, language, the meaning of scholarship, and the religious quest.
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In this collection of essays chosen for this volume, we encounter a scholar passionately concerned with the cultural and spiritual renaissance of the Jewish people in its own land, a scholar whose concerns encompass issues of the cultural life, language, the meaning of scholarship, and the religious quest.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A mixed bag of 23 essays, most previously unpublished in English, by the passionate German-born Zionist and master scholar of Jewish mysticism.

As in many such gatherings, there is too much intellectual "filling" that might well have been left out; had this volume been reduced by a third, it would have seemed more substantive. In addition, a great many more explanatory notes are needed; how many readers, after all, will understand references to "anti- Canaanite" thought or to "Alfasi"? Some of Scholem's (18971982) essays are meant only for specialists. An analysis of Franz Rosenweig's The Star of Redemption proves to be as dense as that acclaimed but little-read work of 20th-century Jewish theology. Some half-dozen essays, however, are highly accessible and scintillating, particularly "Reflections on Modern Jewish Studies," a devastating critique of the highly rationalist and apologetic 19th-century "science of Judaism." Scholem maintains that "operative within the Jewish Haskalah" (Enlightenment) were "tendencies towards historical suicide" and the "destruction and dismantling" of many facets of the tradition unacceptable to the Haskalah's leading thinkers. Also noteworthy are the beautifully crafted essays "Three Types of Jewish Piety" and "My Way to Kabbalah," an autobiographical sketch. The introduction by Shapira (the chief editor of Scholem's writings), while too short, provides a fascinating intellectual sketch of Scholem, revealing, for example, that his magisterial biography of the 17th-century false messiah Shabtai Zevi was written "in its entirety, almost at once, in one draft, without early studies or partial preparations."

The best parts of this collection reveal that Scholem, who spoke of himself as a God-believer but also a "religious anarchist," delved into previously neglected aspects of Judaism's long history with unparalleled intellectual empathy and thoroughness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827605794
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 12/11/1997
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Editor's Acknowledgments
Translator's Introduction
Introduction: The Dialectics of Continuity and Revolt
Pt. 1 Scholem's Personal Relationship to the Study of Mysticism 1
1 A Candid Letter About My True Intentions of Studying Kabbalah 3
2 Reflections on the Possibility of Jewish Mysticism in Our Time 6
3 My Way to Kabbalah 20
Pt. 2 Zionism as Spiritual and Cultural Identity 25
4 Thoughts About Our Language 27
5 Exile Today Is Devoid of the Seeds of Redemption 30
6 A Lecture About Israel 35
7 Our Historical Debt to Russian Jewry 40
8 Understanding the Internal Processes 45
Pt. 3 The Existential Situation in Jewish Culture Today 49
9 Reflections on Modern Jewish Studies 51
10 A New Spiritual Perspective on the Exegesis of Primary Sources 72
11 What Others Rejected: Kabbalah and Historical Criticism 75
12 On Education for Judaism 80
13 Who Is a Jew? 93
14 Secularism and Its "Dialectical Transformation" 100
15 Messianism - A Never-Ending Quest 102
16 What Is Judaism? 114
Pt. 4 Judaism Through the Ages 119
17 The Historical Development of Jewish Mysticism 121
18 Memory and Utopia in Jewish History 155
19 The People of the Book 167
20 Three Types of Jewish Piety 176
Pt. 5 Reflections on His Contemporaries 191
21 On Kafka's The Trial 193
22 With a Copy of Kafka's The Trial - A Poem 194
23 Franz Rosenzweig and His Book The Star of Redemption 197
24 Does God Dwell in the Heart of an Antheist? 216
Notes 225
Glossary 235
Index 237
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