The following four essays constitute the second and concluding part of a section dedicated to “The Jewish-Theological Seminary of Breslau, the ‘Science of Judaism’ and the Development of a Middle-of-the-Road Current in Religious Judaism”. Like the three articles in the last issue of Transversal, written by Yaakov George Kohler (Ramat Gan) ⌷ , Nils Roemer (Dallas) Yaakov George Kohler, The Captivating Beauty of the Divine Spark—Breslau and the Reception of Yehuda Halevi’s SeferKuzari (1877–1911), in: Transversal 14:1 (2016), pp. 26-34 ( https
Jurisprudence ( Historische Rechtsschule ), representatives of the “middle movement” drew upon key notions like “collective national consciousness” ( Volksbewusstsein ) and “collective will” ( Gesamtwillen ). Klal Yisrael , the national-religious unity and uniqueness of the Jewish community, served as the central criterion in weighing the pros and cons of concrete possible changes. § 18, Statut für das jüdisch-theologische Seminar Fraenckel’sche Stiftung zu Breslau , Breslau 1854, p. 13, cf. A. Brämer, “The Dilemmas of Moderate Reform. Some Reflections on the Development of
discussion includes a description of the shift itself, a search for its possible roots in earlier periods, and traces its impact and further developments in the course of the nineteenth century. However, before proceeding to the discussion, several clarifications regarding the perception of OL in Rabbinic literature itself are essential.
The Theory of OL in Rabbinic Literature
The distinction between the WL and the OL, and the desire, or even the commandment that it be maintained, is voiced in BT Gittin (60b) and its parallels. Reflecting on Exodus 34, 27
reason to certain limits is already found in Al-Ghazali, Kaufmann repeats here. More interesting is Kaufmann’s discovery that thus the influence of Al-Ghazali on Jewish medieval philosophy must be dated 300 years earlier than it had so far been assumed to have incepted, with histories of the development of Jewish philosophy usually referring to the impact that Al-Ghazali had on the thought of the Jewish philosopher Hasdai Crescas (1340–1410). Kaufmann, Attributenlehre, 134. For Crescas and Al-Ghazali, see Mauro Zonta, “Influence of Arabic and Islamic Philosophy on
merged here, which was possible only because of the pervasive optimism in humanity’s development.
Their views were too dependent on viewing Judaism as a historically evolving culture, while critics like the famous Orientalist de Sacy posited along the lines of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Christian Hebraists the immuntable nature of Judaism, when he opinioned that messianism as the foundation of Judaism could not be changed. Antoine Isaac Sivelstre de Sacy, Lettre a M. M. Conseiller de S. M. le Roi de Saxe par M. le Baron S. d. S . (Paris: A. Berlin, 1817
stagnation in halachic development—almost total absence of creativity in a field that should be potentially vast: Jewish laws of the Jewish State. Urbach, “Life with the Tora,” The Jerusalem Post (June 5, 1973), pp. 3–4.
Urbach, like Frankel before him, believed in the total authority of halacha and in its divine origin. He also believed that “ halacha was not clear-cut and does not have to be clear-cut.” Urbach, “Samchut Hahalachah Beyameinu” (The authority of Halachah Today), Mahalachim , IV (1970), p. 4. According to him, the codification of halacha is not
’s collective will. As in the period following Frankel’s departure from the rabbinical conference in Frankfurt in 1845, However, the opposition from the Orthodox was so great that, after repeated postponements, Frankel was forced to abandon the earlier planned conference entirely. See references in Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (New York, 1988), 429 note 150; also Andreas Brämer, “The Dilemmas of Moderate Reform. Some Reflections on the Development of Conservative Judaism in Germany 1840–1880,” Jewish Studies
future-oriented discourse, this invitation is no simple charge. To begin to speak is not only to accept the subject and form of this conversation but primarily to acknowledge the relevance and accuracy of a rather grim characterization of near-term developments. Cheerful optimism, whether rooted in a messianic or a technocratic teleology, would certainly be a cozier response to the vision of degraded human continuation Jonathan describes. But acceptance of this vision as a plausible scenario is necessary, not only to fulfill our scholarly responsibility to provide an