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Lecture

RS110 Lecture Notes - Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Reconstructionist Judaism


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RS110
Professor
Peter Frick

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RS 110 - MODULE 4
The Modern Period
1789 - 1989
French Revolution at the start
Fall of the Berlin wall at the end
The Enlightenment
Another name for the modern period
Shaped western thought and philosophy
oIntellectual impact is on all of the Western world
Immanuel Kant
oMost powerfully formulated enlightenment principle
oEnlightenment is a person's conquering of the self-inflicted state of
rational immaturity
An unenlightened person is not intellectually autonomous
Rational immaturity is inability to use ones own reason without
guidance of another due to a lack of boldness/courage
oEncouraged others to have the courage to use their own mind
Cannot return to unenlightened state
oPeople use their own minds to interpret religion
oAll that we do now - scientific, intellectual, religions etc pursuits were
changed due to this
Autonomy vs heteronomy - your own law vs the law of others
Modern Jewish Leaders
Baruch Spinoza
1632 - 1677
Forerunner of good Enlightenment thought
Influenced by Maimonides and Rene Descartes
1656 - Excommunicated from his home Synagogue
oHis views were 'too enlightened' for the average Jewish individual
Major work was Theologicus-Political Treatise (1670)
oScientific attitude of scrutiny towards the Tanach
oIs the worldview in the Tanach an enlightened world view?
oCriticized the authority of the Hebrew Bible
oTo a great extent, when you criticize the worldview of the bible, tradition
conflicts with enlightenment
Also wrote Ethics
oTheology/Metaphysics of pantheism rather than monotheism
oDenied the transcendence of God
oGod exists in everything, and we are part of everything
Deterministic world view
oOur will is not free; actions are made necessary by the structure of the
universe
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Moses Mendelsohn
1729 - 1786
The Father of Reform within Judaism
oForerunner of Reform Judaism
Responsible for bringing Jewish community into modern world
oVery well-educated and excelled in all subjects
oFriend of Gotthold Lessing, German philosopher
Fervent defender and supporter of Jewish enlightenment and emancipation
oWanted the Jewish people to be liberated from those things that were no
longer valid
Believed it is possible to be Jewish but also German
oCan have best of Jewish world but also education and German culture
Wrote Jerusalem
oJews should assimilated into the countries they live in, including
languages
The Idea of Zionism
Those that argued for Jewish assimilation into European culture were only one
side of the coin
oZionism - The renewed idea of a Jewish State
Zion
oMountain outside Jerusalem
oWhere the Messiah would come
Zionism is longing of Jewish people to return to homeland of Israel
oGod made covenant with Abraham that his descendants would have the
promised land
Rejection/anti-jewish sentiment in Diaspora increased this longing
Negative response to enlightenment increased Zionism
oBelieved if they assimilated into European cultures they would lose their
languages, faith, traditions
Ex. Jews of Berlin (1802 - 1812)
oAfter a decade, 1/3rd of all Jews in Berlin rejected their heritage
oTraditions and faith were 'intellectually and culturally restrictive'
Moses Hess
1812 - 1875
Gave notion of Zionism a concrete shape
Socialist - so important he influenced Karl Marx
Wrote Rome and Jerusalem in 1862
oJews need their own geographical space
oNeed to leave the places they live due to the dispersal and come to one
geographical space
oIdea of new, socialist Jewish community - kibbutz
oKibbutz are socialist communities where all work/live/share together
oWe should present an example to the world of living together communally
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