Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
acknowledged spokesman of German philosophy in the midst of
Christian culture, still persisted in remaining Jewish, perhaps just
out of narrow-minded obstinacy, Mendelssohn, the Schutzjude of
1769, responded: “Whether I am prejudiced in favor o f my
religion I myself am unable to decide, as little as I can know
whether my breath smells badly.” And Rawidowicz concludes:
“This kind of non-defending Judaism, this very fact of Jewish
existence as sufficient — was one of the finest and proudest
defenses modern Judaism has ever known.”
Rawidowicz also edited a volume of Mendelssohn’s German-
Jewish writings, and planned to pursue further research in this
area, but here again he met with interruptions.
KROCHMAL'S ORIGINALITY
The only strictly philosophical undertaking fully completed by
Rawidowicz was his critical edition of Nahman Krochmal’s
Moreh
Nebukhe Ha-Zeman
(Guide of the Perplexed of the Time,
1924; post­
humously re-issued 1961). He worked on it with particular zeal as
though driven by a forceful desire to champion the place due to
Krochmal in the ranks of Jewish thinkers. Specifically, his aim was
to show that the
Guide,
an outstanding classic of the 19th century,
was in no way indebted to external philosophical influences and
particularly not, as assumed by others, to the Hegelian doctrine.
In his essay, “Was Nachman Krochmal a Hegelian?,” Rawidowicz
wrote: “Krochmal’s theory of the history of the Jewish people and
its existence is from the beginning to the end in absolute con­
tradiction to Hegel . . . Hegel would never agree with the
theological-rational-historical pragmatism of Krochmal. He
would never admit, for example, that the Israelite kind of
monotheism is the only one which has the power to preserve the
species and the nations.”4 Krochmal’s contribution is an original
link in the chain of Jewish thought inaugurated by his predeces­
sors — Maimonides, Ibn Ezra, Azariah de Rossi and others — and
is firmly rooted in traditional sources. Rawidowicz rejects categor­
ically and at times even passionately any trace whatsoever of
German philosophical influence on Krochmal’s thinking.
4
Ibid.,
p. 365.