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Daniel Herskowitz and Alon Shalev

Abstract

In his writings, Rabbi Isaac Hutner integrated various insights from secular philosophy and particularly from existentialist thought. Concerns regarding temporality, authenticity, and death permeate his thought. This article deals with what we call “being-towards-eternity,” a modification of Martin Heidegger’s “being-towards-death,” through which Hutner seeks to reconcile genuine anxiety in the face of finitude with an unwavering belief in resurrection and life after death. Hutner’s appropriation and adaptation of this Heideggerian notion demonstrates how he adopted secular ideas while cautiously remaining within the boundaries of traditional Jewish concerns and vocabulary.

David McIlwain

Abstract

Leo Strauss’s grand theme, the theological-political problem, has its basis in the predicament of being a philosopher in a political society. As a Jew and a philosopher, Strauss also faced the entanglement of Judaism and German philosophy culminating in Heidegger’s historicism. These related challenges prompted Strauss’s recognition of the first steps for philosophy in a global epoch. Strauss reinterpreted Heidegger’s religious anticipation of a “meeting of East and West” as a philosophical re-encounter with the Bible as “the East within us.” Whereas the Bible challenges the rationality of the philosophical way of life, this “Bible as Eastern” challenges rationalism itself.

Alex Sztuden

Abstract

R. Joseph Soloveitchik’s profound engagement with The Guide of the Perplexed is amply attested by Lawrence Kaplan’s recent publication of Soloveitchik’s lectures on this classic work of Jewish philosophy, delivered in 1950–1951 during a year-long course on the Guide. Soloveitchik’s reading is situated outside the boundaries of the Guide’s usual interpretations, and his lectures offer an entirely new view of the essence of the Guide. For Maimonides, hesed, or loving-kindness, is the foundation of the world. Soloveitchik’s lectures offer an elaborate working out of this fundamental insight.

Avi Elqayam

Abstract

This article explores the metaphysical, epistemological, and mystical aspects of happiness in the Judeo-Arabic Treatise on Ultimate Happiness (Kitāb as-Saʿāda al-Ākhira), of which only two chapters have survived from what is thought to have been a more comprehensive text. Although the treatise is attributed to Moses Maimonides, the conception of happiness (saʿāda) it presents is clearly that of the Pietists (Ḥasīdīm), the Jewish-Sufi circle of thirteenth-century Egypt. The discussion of happiness in this short treatise constitutes an important chapter in the philosophical and mystical discourse about happiness in medieval Jewish-Islamic thought, especially within the Jewish-Sufi mystical stream led by Maimonides’s descendants.

David Tollerton

Abstract

Responding to Zachary Braiterman’s and Daniel Garner’s ideas on post-Holocaust religious thought, the author proposes a new model of relationships between theodicy and antitheodicy in which divine perfection is no longer privileged as the single key factor. Building on Peter Berger’s and Clifford Geertz’s treatments of the problem of evil, it is suggested that focusing on meaning-making and tradition can result in a stratified view of theodicy–antitheodicy more able to engage with the dynamics of several well-known thinkers associated with religious responses to the Holocaust.

Aviram Ravitsky

Abstract

In the fourth treatise of his legal-theological work Kitāb al-Anwār wa-al-Marāqib, Yaʿqūb al-Qirqisānī analyzes a criticism of the Aristotelian syllogism and its epistemological foundations. Qirqisānī defends Aristotelian logic by quoting a passage from an unknown commentary on Aristotle in which the Aristotelian theory of syllogism is explicated. This paper focuses on the historical, theological, and philosophical meanings of the criticism of the syllogism in Qirqisānī’s discussion and analyzes his interpretation of the syllogism as a source of knowledge that should be applied in the realm of legal reasoning and in the interpretation of biblical law.

“A Community Should Be Present as He Prays so that He Can Bind Himself with Their Soul”

R. Nahman’s Vision of the Birds and Its Origins in the Zohar

Moshe Goultschin

Abstract

During his final years, R. Nahman of Bratslav endeavored to find a solution for the paradox of unrealized messiahs. His solution was outlined in his dream about birds in December 1806, on the Sabbath of Parashat Va-yeḥi. This dream was influenced by his reading of a story told in the Zohar, Parashat Va-yeḥi, of a “vision of birds” of R. Yehudah, a disciple of R. Shimon bar Yohai, that exemplifies the crisis experienced by the circle of disciples of R. Shimon following his death. The essay elaborates on the connections between the dream and the Zohar story and their influence on R. Nahman’s messianic endeavor.

God, Being, Pathos

Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Theological Rejoinder to Heidegger

Daniel Herskowitz

Abstract

Martin Heidegger’s philosophy has elicited many theological responses; some enthusiastic, others critical. In this essay I provide an organized and critical analysis of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s theological critique of and rejoinder to the thought of the German philosopher. By looking at Heschel’s 1965 Who is Man? as well as earlier and later texts, I demonstrate the way in which Heschel presents his biblical theology as an alternative to Heidegger’s philosophy.

Christopher M. Cuthill

Abstract

This paper challenges the widespread emphasis on the absence of God in post- Holocaust historiography, theology, and art by suggesting that Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross may have been conceived under the theological category of the apophatic rather than the aesthetic category of the sublime. This paper focuses on the “anti-realist” position of Newman and other artists for whom the Holocaust necessitated a renewed aniconic tendency in Jewish aesthetics. His work, I suggest, holds out a tension between absolute absence and redemptive presence that at once resists and affirms a negative aesthetic of God’s solidarity with suffering.

Revealing What’s Implicit

Maimonides’ Account of Creation and Revelation beyond Naturalism and Politics

Paul E. Nahme

Abstract

This article reinterprets Maimonides’ theory of creation and revelation by focusing upon the relationship between belief in creation and the affirmation of miracle and law described in Guide II:25. Focusing upon Maimonides’ use of inference to describe creation and revelation, I re-evaluate Maimonides’ account as an instance of inferential reasoning. That is, Maimonides makes use of, rather than proves, the implicit norms of creation and revelation in their explicit function of legal reasoning. Thus, I suggest that Maimonides’ emphasis upon inferential judgment in justifying law is a defense of creation and revelation as rules of reasoning.