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Volume Editor:
The Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion is an annual collection of double-blind peer-reviewed articles that seeks to provide a broad international arena for an intellectual exchange of ideas between the disciplines of philosophy, theology, religion, cultural history, and literature and to showcase their multifarious junctures within the framework of Jewish studies. Contributions to the Review place special thematic emphasis on scepticism within Jewish thought and its links to other religious traditions and secular worldviews. The Review is interested in the tension at the heart of matters of reason and faith, rationalism and mysticism, theory and practice, narrativity and normativity, doubt and dogma.
Volume Editors: and
The Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion is an annual collection of double-blind peer-reviewed articles that seeks to provide a broad international arena for an intellectual exchange of ideas between the disciplines of philosophy, theology, religion, cultural history, and literature and to showcase their multifarious junctures within the framework of Jewish studies. Contributions to the Review place special thematic emphasis on scepticism within Jewish thought and its links to other religious traditions and secular worldviews. The Review is interested in the tension at the heart of matters of reason and faith, rationalism and mysticism, theory and practice, narrativity and normativity, doubt and dogma.
Author:

Abstract

This article explores the history and ideas of Hillel Zeitlin’s (1871–1942) mystical diary. The first part of the diary appeared in print in Warsaw in 1919, but Zeitlin continued to write the diary until the European Holocaust, and the manuscript is presumed lost. This paper aims to reconstruct the content of the lost part of the diary on the basis of the manuscript correspondence between Zeitlin and other authors. It also discusses Zeitlin’s unsuccessful attempts to have his diary published. By exploring this episode in Zeitlin’s intellectual biography, this article examines the often-neglected mystical dimension of his oeuvre and the effect of diaristic writing on his late works.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023

Abstract

This study analyses the teachings of Rebbe Pinhas of Korets, an eighteenth-century Ukrainian preacher and holy man, and proposes that his system of thought may be considered a form of natural philosophy. Using the extensive library of manuscripts that has so far been largely ignored by scholars and rejecting the assumption that Rebbe Pinhas was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, this study challenges such contradictory conceptions of Rebbe Pinhas as exclusively an ethicist, a passionate devotee of Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed, and a student of philosophy-cum-kabbalist. Instead, the analysis shows how Rebbe Pinhas integrated philosophical and proto- scientific forms of thinking with kabbalistic ones in order to create an entirely new theocosmology on which he based his system of ethics, while remaining personally torn between the religious demands of intellect and piety.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023
Author:

Abstract

This article addresses a lacuna in the scholarly understanding of Eastern European Jewish thought and its engagement with modern Western philosophy by highlighting the role of translators, popularisers, and Russian philosophers as mediators of philosophical ideas. It puts forth the claim that in order to understand Jewish thinkers’ involvement with modern philosophy, one should consider these mediating materials rather than primary sources that were rarely read in Eastern Europe. To illustrate the import of these mediators, this article focuses on two thinkers, Abraham Isaac Kook and Shmuel Alexandrov, and examines an array of sources that moulded their ideas. Among the sources reviewed are Hillel Zeitlin’s articles in the Jewish press, Eliezer Yitzhak Sheinbaum’s translations and philosophy books, and a range of Russian philosophers. These are only some examples of the ways in which exploring this often-neglected terrain can yield a better understanding of the formation of Eastern European Jewish philosophy, a notion that can be further developed in future studies.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023
Author:

Abstract

This article discusses the activities of one of around twenty maskilic associations that flourished in the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the nineteenth century: Śefat Emet (“Language of Truth”), which was founded in Salonica in 1890 by a group of Salonican Maskilim. Śefat Emet provided a meeting place for members of a distinct circle among the growing Salonican Jewish bourgeoisie, while promoting a maskilic worldview epitomised by the concept of the “golden mean,” here referring to a combination of religious observance and affinity to the Jewish tradition on the one hand and an openness to Western culture and secular studies on the other. Our discussion of this association will contribute to the study of the Haskalah and the revival of Hebrew in the Ottoman Empire, offer a profile of patterns of change and continuity among the Ottoman maskilic circle, and provide an analysis of the social character of the association as a middle-class circle that effectively excluded those who were unable to pay its membership fees or devote time to the association’s activities.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023
Author:

Abstract

This essay is an attempt to analyse the multi-layered dimensions of Franz Rosenzweig’s Nachlass, which is held at the Leo Baeck Institute and is also available online. It aims to underscore the hermeneutic interplay in the archive itself, including a kind of explicit awareness of Rosenzweig’s posthumous reception as well as the discrepancy between the various profiles of him that emerge from reviews and obituaries. Following the development of Rosenzweig’s reception will enable us to understand why he was such a controversial figure, considered too Jewish for the Germans and too German for the Jews. In the first part of this study, I will analyse Rosenzweig’s archival consciousness by considering some passages from his diaries and correspondence, as well as his archival sensibility. In the second part, I will illuminate the outside view of Rosenzweig’s works—namely, the reviews and obituaries collected by his wife, Edith Rosenzweig-Scheinmann—in order to show both the tensions and the uniqueness of his reception during his lifetime and after his death. Finally, in the conclusion, I will discuss some “spectres” of the archive and the figure of Edith herself, whose work was crucial in shaping Rosenzweig’s legacy.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023

Abstract

Many scholars believe that mobility was one of the elements that characterised the history of the Jews in the early modern period. They also maintain that this movement from one country to another influenced the cultural productivity of many Jewish intellectuals. David de’ Pomis was one of the most important figures in the Jewish community of the Italian Renaissance. After being expelled from the State of the Church, he moved to Venice in 1569, where he wrote his works. Throughout his life, he attempted to find a way to recover from the trauma of expulsion, and he did so by explaining Judaism to a Christian audience through a variety of means: translations from Hebrew into the vernacular; speeches to Christian authorities; a trilingual dictionary; and a Latin apologia of Judaism. The languages that de’ Pomis used and the works he decided to write were the daughters of his experiences, which gave birth to an entirely new body of work. Thus, if the combination of the two experiences—mobility and creativity—underlies the history of European Jewry in the early modern period, then de’ Pomis’s story and work represent a recognisable but as yet unexplored fragment of the broader history of the Jews in Italy during the Renaissance.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023

Abstract

This article focuses on the philosopher Judah Abarbanel, best known as Leone Ebreo, and addresses the origin of his concept of (Jewish) tradition in his Dialoghi d’amore (1535). It analyses how he re-elaborates the controversial and multi-layered concept of tradition conceived by the Dominican friar Annius of Viterbo in his Antiquitatum variarum volumina XVII (1498). By showing how Judah is immersed in the antiquarianism and reformation programme of his time and also how he shares the same intellectual framework as his Christian contemporaries, this study argues that his re-elaboration of the Annian idea of Jewish tradition provides an intriguing example of how the authentication of an ancestral sacred past is not only instrumental in legitimating the superiority of Jewish antiquity, but also in creating a certain distance from it and bringing about a philosophical renewal of ancient authority.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023

Abstract

The main issue dealt with in the Book of Ecclesiastes is man’s possibility of attaining immortality. Many passages in the book convey pessimism regarding man’s final end, denying him eternal reward in the hereafter. In his exegesis of Ecclesiastes, Samuel ibn Tibbon claims that these heretical passages represent the opinions of the philosophers that Solomon cites in order to expose the fact that they do not have a demonstrative proof for the denial of immortality. While doing so, and while exposing that philosophy cannot prove the impossibility of perdurance, Solomon, according to Ibn Tibbon, concludes that it is not possible to confirm or infirm scientifically anything concerning the hereafter. Neither man’s finitude nor his perdurance can be posited with certainty. The thesis I will attempt to support in this paper is that this inconclusive inference translated itself to Ibn Tibbon’s sceptical approach, with doubt and uncertainty accompanying him throughout his exegesis of Qohelet.

Open Access
In: Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion Volume 2, 2023