Sept 23, 2011
Jews living under domination of others’ until 1967
Number of Jews begins to grow outside of “homelands” in Europe
Found in highest courts and in philosophy. Most Jewish important philosophy first written in
Arabic so they could converse with other Muslim philosophers
Saadia (12th c.)
Judah Halevi (12th c.)
Moses Maimonides (12th c.)
◦ Rabbi Moses ben Maimon = RMBM = Rambam
◦ Guide for the Perplexed (his way of initiating the question; popular work for the
Judaism loves to make nicknames out of acronyms (and also books)
Sign of endearment and respect
QUESTION what is the relationship between faith and reason: science
Problem looking through the world JUST religiously. Logic is revealing to people
Divine omnipotence vs. Free will. Do we do things god could not predict? Is god all knowing?
Judaism embraces human intellect, whereas Christianity and Islam have a habit of rejecting
Muslim empire could only get so far. Far as border between france and spain
Mongol invasion from china helps destroy islam
Christianity starts challenging islam for power, and jews are caught in the middle Jews are being pushed into eastern Europe. Christianity is making up stories and
theories against jews. The accusations would be comical if it hadn’t been so tragic. Christian
mobs attacking jews and prompting the exodus. Forced to convert or leave spain (1492) then
Christians wondered if jews really meant it. The INQUISITION. Bad->worse for jews. Poland
one of the only countries that welcomes jews. They need a very solid middle class for the nation
Yiddish developed out of German. It’s German with a Hebrew lettering. Whole villages in Poland
and Germay that ONLY speak Yiddish.
Responses to persecution
Mysticism (mystican movement in Judaism)
Hasidism (new sect)
◦ The Zohar (primary text)
◦ Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai (3 c.), aka Moses ben Shemtov of Leon (13 c.) th
->claim of the text->most likely written in 13 as opposed to 3rd
◦ Shabbatai Zvi (17 c.)h
Us vs. Them. Our god is real, they don’t..etc. all religions have them. But mysticism is always
different. Don’t see a difference between religions. Differences is only surface, but unity
between people. Very tolerant. Often sound apart. Often say things that appear to challenge
religion. Viewed with suspicion in heads of religious practice.
All religions like to make their works seem ancient. Part of religious legitimizing process
Don’t fight persecution, but withdraw from the world in religious pursuit
Judaism sceptical of messiahs. After a while, Shabbati Zvi pops up. Cause enough trouble that
the leader in turkey says forced conversion, or death to Shabbatai Zvi. The messiah converts.
Illustrates that religious people interpret reality and history religiously as opposed to rationally. The entire movement convert because they believe in the messiah. Don’t go against what they
already believe. DONT DOUBT JUST DO. Converted to Islam.
Israel ben Eliezer (18 c.)
aka: The Baal Shem Tov
= the master of the good name
aka: The Baal Shem (master of the name)
aka: Besht (nickname of the acronym)
Argued against strict observation of the jewish bible
Joyful prayer is more meaningful. God could be found even in the ghettos (locked in ghettos at
night). Could “heal the sick” by saying god’s name, and placing a hand on their chest.
If sad, that means serious sin because have failed in finding god all around you
Moses Mendelssohn (18th c.)
Liberal interpretation of Torah
Sudden period of calm and emancipation. Jews are being allowed to live freely in german
society. Can go to any school, be part of government, etc.
Theological crisis. Like Hellenistic crisis. PURITY problems. Wanted to be culturally
german and religiously jewish. Argues being religious culturally isn’t a main feature of being
Result? Reform. Son converts to Christianity, grandson Felix Mendelssohn (Christianity
song writer) Modern Sectarianism:
Zecharias Frankel in Germany
Solomon Schechter in the US
both in the 19th c.
Stricter interpretation of Torah
Will challenge some jewish practice, etc. Not update the torah though.
Samson Raphael Hirsch (19th c.)-> champion. Says no to both groups
wanting reform, and is very vocal about orthodox Judaism. Won’t
Strict interpretation of Torah (literalistic interpretation)
As God’s word, Torah is not to be negotiated with
Maintains ALL strict practices from the destruction of the second temple
Betw. The three of these: How do humans engage with god’s word. How to respond to cultural
◦ Independence, security, language
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)
Mixed reception among Jews (still)
Past peppered with persecution and oppression. Jews need a homeland for peace and security.
Has to be Israel. Political ideology (an ism). Jews need own army and stake after 1500 years of
persecution. NOTE: ZIONISM STARTS BEFORE HOLOCAUST. But holocaust changes
opinion about it. Jews used to think that it was silly. Shoah – burnt offering
1933 – Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany
Increasing persecution and public harassment of German Jews
Coining of ideology: Anti-Semitism->form of racism (pass down traits to generation).
Jews the reason for the loss of WWI. To be blamed. Increased oppression and persecution
Nov 9/10 1938 – Kristallnacht = The Night of Broken Glass
Judenfrage (the Jewish problem)
Final Solution (originally deporting, then concentration camps)
Total European Jewry before the war
◦ 5,962,129 (63%).
◦ ~ 4 million in the extermination camps
◦ ~ 1.5 million in mass executions over the war (some in villiages)
◦ others of starvation and disease in Ghettos and throughout the war.
Purging of people and culture=genocide. Racist ideology leads to it
Complicity of the West
1938 – League of Nations conference of 32 c