Page 147 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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exterminate for ever this
yetzer ha-ra.
And that he could do
only.”3 Indeed, Maimonides’ intellectual outlook
eventually evolves into a passionate love o f the Creator.
Rawidowicz felt that this thesis needed to be further elaborated,
but he did not have the opportunity to do so.
Rawidowicz also published additional studies on Maimonides,
in Hebrew and occasionally in German and English — all part of
an unfinished plan to portray the impact of the philosopher’s
teachings on the crystallization of Jewish thought.
In his brilliant essay on “Moses Mendelssohn, the German and
Jewish Philosopher,” written in connection with the 150th an­
niversary of the modern thinker’s death (1936), the still young
Rawidowicz displayed a profound grasp of the rich and colorful
arena of European philosophy; he was at home with the ideas of
Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Locke, Herder, Fichte, Rousseau,
Goethe, Schiller, etc. On the basis of convincing evidence he
argued in behalf of the unadulterated Jewishness of the man who
was generally viewed as “the Socrates of Germany” and to whom
Kant himself wrote: “a genius such as you will succeed in creating
a new epoch.”
While constantly mingling with non-Jews, Mendelssohn em­
phatically manifested his Jewishness both in his unreserved iden­
tification with and practical observance of Orthodox traditions.
Yet, more importantly, he did not assume at all the defensive
attitude ofJewish apologists. Rawidowicz points out that while the
latter used to demonstrate the truthfulness, beauty, divinity and
usefulness of Judaism in order to find an apology or justification
for the Jew’s right to existence — Mendelssohn followed an oppo­
site path. He declared: “the very fact of our being Jews should
demonstrate the truth of Judaism . . . if we have gone on for so
many generations suffering and existing as Jews, ergo, Judaism is
true, is good.” Never in his life did Mendelssohn sound defensive.
To those who challenged him publicly to explain why he, the
3 “Philosophy as a Duty,” in the English volume
Studies inJewish Thought
by Simon
Rawidowicz, edited by Nahum N. Glatzer, Jewish Publication Society, 1974, p.
312. All quotations in the present essay, unless otherwise indicated, are from
this volume, which includes excellent translations, but needless to say, the
uniqueness of Rawidowicz the writer can be fully appreciated only in the
Hebrew original.