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17.07.2024
 
   
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תכלית האדם On the Purpose of Man© חלק 1 Part One Zadok krouz

מאת: krouz zadokאימון לאיכות חיים23/01/20111104 צפיות שתף בטוויטר |   שתף בפייסבוק

 

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down in to silence.  But we will bless LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Halleluiah

 


Ps.1215:17

Abstract

The article will discuss he ultimate purpose of man – the dialogue between man and the world with love constituting the content of this dialogue. After man gives his love to God, he can give love to his fellow-man, which love redeems the world and becomes the purpose of man. Redemption designs the future, but Rozenzweig wanted to bring the designs for the future to the present so that the redemption could be something the living man sees and experiences now. Expectation causes the future to be manifested in the present, and dismay preserves the power of and nourishes the soul.

Redemption occurs wherever man is. The love given by a skilled man to another is no on account of any physical trait, it is given because the person is present now. His presence allows the skilled man to go out to all the world, thus every friend is a microcosm for the entire world. Man must take his future salvation and put it into the present. He can do it only be developing his love for other. He must do this through socialization, and communal prayer is the way to make time eternal. Every can unite as "we", and together mankind overcome suffering and death so that the Eternal Kingdom is here in the present world and not is some another world. This is the victory of live over death. This is the purpose of man.


After man gives his love to God, he can give love to his fellow-men.  Rosenzweig describes this in the third tract in his book (Star).  This love given to others redeems the world, and that becomes the purpose of man.

 

Eternal man – the universal religious experience

            Man’s purpose is to perpetuate his acquired love, since its externalization no longer grows in the “I” and “Thou,” but longs to be founded in the presence of all the world.  Love forever exists between two people; it knows only of the “I” and “Thou” and not of the street, nor is it displayed to “the eyes of everything that lives” (Star 234).  According to the Sanctification of God’s name portion of the Sabbath additional service:  “[He will save us and redeem us a second time] and in His mercy let us hear a second time, in the presence of all the living” (Rinat Yisrael 268).  The sobs of the beloved penetrate beyond love, to a future beyond its present revelation.  It is insufficient, maintains Rosenzweig, “that the beloved lover calls his bride by the name of the sister in the flickering twilight of illusion.  The name ought to be the truth.  It should be heard in the bright light of ‘the street,’ not whispered into the beloved’s ear in the dusk of intimate duo-solitude, but in the eyes of the multitude…” (Star 234).  Past love, then, does not provide God’s truth in the eyes of the multitude; that love is not eternal.

            Man’s purpose is manifested in the questioning cry:  “O that you were like a brother to me!” (Star 234), and not in the pronouncement, “she is his… he is mine” (Star 234), nor even in the call, “my God, my God” (Star 215), in the individual’s prayer.  In the bothersome question, “O that you were like a brother to me,” the soul seeks its purpose in the world.  The soul fears that the response will not come from the lover the soul trusts.  The soul expresses its yearning for an eternal love that can never spring from the everlasting presentness of sensation in the meeting between man and God.

            The soul desires its object, pleading “with the lover to sunder the heavens of his everlasting presentness which defies her yearning for love eternal, and to descend to her, so that she might set herself like an eternal seal upon his ever-beating heart and like a tightly fitting ring about his never resting arm” (Star 234).  Rosenzweig hints at matrimony not being love.  “Matrimony is infinitely more than love.  Matrimony is the external fulfillment which love reaches out after from her internal blissfulness in a stupor of unquenchable longing – Oh that you were my brother…” (Star 234).  Notwithstanding the cry “O that you were like a brother to me,” there is no answer from the lover’s mouth.

            In the love of the I and Thou, the dark portents of the impersonal communal life of the natural kinship community had been beautifully fulfilled; but here the soul aspires beyond this love to the realm of brotherliness, the bond of supernatural community, wholly personal in its experience yet wholly worldly in its existence.  This realm can no longer be founded for her by the love of the lover from which she had previously always awaited the cue for her answer.  If this longing is to be fulfilled, then the beloved soul must always cross the magic circle of belovedness, forget the lover, and itself open its mouth, not for answer but for her own word.  For in the world, being loved does not count, “and the beloved must know itself, as it were, thrown on its own resources” (Star 235).

            The concept of eternity, man’s object and purpose, is of special importance in the philosophy of Rosenzweig.  Can it be that “eternity is actually there, within the grasp of every individual and holding every individual close in its strong grasp…”? (Star 346).  Can some thing which has an end, like man in respect of his being man, grasp that which has no end?  Can the realm of time comprehend the concept of eternity, can the relative discern the absolute?  The part does not understand the whole.  Where the intellect does not govern, faith seizes its place, since what we do not understand, we must of necessity believe:  “…[for] there is something in the rational that is irrational, something which is not encompassed in the concept of truth… something of the rational which is beyond the rational (beyond in the logical sense)…” (Naharayim 208).

            Indeed, religious faith comes to perfect the intellect.  The rational explanation destroys the strength of belief.  Rosenzweig’s religious belief in eternity does not require the explanation of the essence of eternity; on the contrary, the rational explanation has a negative influence, as was shown above in Chapter Three (pp. 163-198).  All the other reasons which are proffered to explain eternity, in particular reasons based on the intellect (the rational), are nullified by the irrational reason relied upon by Rosenzweig.

            The irrational explanation of the concept “eternity”

            In Even-Shushan’s Hebrew dictionary, “netzach” (“eternity”) is defined as permanent existence, immortality, continually forever (2: 873).  Rosenzweig does not attempt to explain rationally these definitions; rather, he sharpens their irrational aspect.  Even-Shushan’s definition—permanent existence, continually forever1 indicate that the present is dependent on time, a point Rosenzweig emphasizes.  “Eternity is just this:  that time no longer has a right to a place between the present moment and consummation and that the whole future is to be grasped today” (Star 350).  “… In opposition to the past, he places the eternal over which time has no control” (Naharayim 69).  Rabbi Yosef Albo states:  “[Eternity] is not dependent on time, in order to include both that which precedes it and everlastingness” (ch. 2, sec. 17).  In his book On the Eternity of Man, the well-known German thinker Max Schiller also insists on the significance of eternity in respect to the Creator.  His opinion that eternity is understood as a permanent existence for all times and therefore unrelated to time, is an insufficient explanation in respect to God, since in theory it is possible to attribute such a trait to that which contains material and strength.  Thus, eternity vis-?-vis God means “timeless,” and in the language of Rosenzweig, “growth has no relationship at all to time” (Star 254).  The laws of time do not apply to it.  Thus, eternity, unaltered, is found throughout the ever-changing periods of history (Schiller 188).  Contrarily, Spinoza holds that reality itself is eternity, and that it is grasped without any beginning or end.  Elsewhere, eternity is defined as “self-essence of God, in that it includes within it essential reality” (Spinoza Ethics 333).  Since eternity is not dependent on time, for it is the cessation of history, “the eternal can have no history, at most a prehistory” (Star 372).  Howeverm A. Altmann, in his article “Franz Rosenzweig on History,” states that the terms “future” and “eternal” kingdom provide meaning to history and do not negate its meaning.

            Eternity, being timeless, does not mean a very long time; it is Tomorrow that could as well be Today.  The growth of the world and the activity of the soul is made eternal, and that precisely makes it the origin of the future  as a sequence whose every occurrence is anticipated by that which preceded it:  “Denn Zur Zukunft geh?rt vor allem das Vorwegnehmen, dies, da? das Ende jedem Augenblick erwartet warden mu?.  Erst dadurch wird sie zur Zeit der Ewigkeit [For the future is first and foremost a matter of anticipating, that is, the end must be expected at every moment.  Only thus does the future become the time of eternity]” (Star 256; Stern, 288).  As an anticipation of the future, “today” is expressed as eternity, i.e., it is seen from the acknowledgment of God’s love in the prayer in the present that “his mercy is ever present” (Star 263).  Eternity can truly be realized not in distant time but “already today”; this phrase is the actual melodic content of the opening coda of the congregational chant (from Pesukei D’Zimrah for the Sabbath and Festivals, Siddur 402-428, based on Ps. 136), in which the future enters like an accompaniment to the theme.  Clear is the meaning of the verse “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7) in the sense that man has an end, as Nachmanides explained:  “The soul of man is the light of God who breathed into his nostrils from the mouth of God, as it is said, ‘and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’, and it will not die, rather its deserved existence shall remain forever.”2

            However, the interpretation of man’s eternity that Rosenzweig transfers to the present is not radically different from the understanding of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi in the Kuzari.  Prophecy serves Rabbi Yehuda Halevi as the best proof of eternal life.  By seeing the prophet as ready to feel in this world by means of his divine experience, a grain of the essence of eternal life, which is non-time, we become aware that time is not the true foundation of the spirit and its joys and that every man who proves himself suitable can gain the bliss of eternal life (article 1, p. 103; see also Ben-Shmuel 23).  Comparable is John Baillie, who states that this point (that time is not the true foundation of the spirit) “has no response; indeed, it is the singular point which is given or is likely to be given in favor of the remaining of the soul (or the concept of its eternity), …if the individual can come in contact with God means that he is important in God’s eyes; and if he is important in God’s eyes, he then has a part of God’s eternity” (137).

            Rosenzweig’s concept of eternity is a synthesis of space (endless time – Godlike) and time (terminal – humanlike).  After eternity grew in the interim time, it now becomes final time, God’s eternity.  A. Altmann (“Franz Rosenzweig on History”) argues that the present and the future simultaneously comprise eternity.  Eternity is not a fixed point which ultimately disappears.  Instead, it is a vital, existential dimension which continues forever and ever.  Eternity exists, then, as future with a component in the present.  Eternity is the “today” which knows that it is more than today.

            Eternity is that which exists within the moment, in the batting of an eye.  This is “eternity in every instant” (Augenblick).  Rosenzweig settles the conflict between “moment” and “eternity” by viewing moment as beginning anew in the moment that bloomed:  “The moment which we seek must begin again at the very moment that it vanishes…  For this purpose, it is not enough that it come ever anew.  It must not come now, it must come back.  It really must be the same moment.  The mere inexhaustibility of birth does not make the world the less perishable; on the contrary.  Thus this moment must have more of a content than the mere moment.  The moment reveals something new to the eye with every batting of an eye.  The novelty that we seek must be a nunc stans, not a vanishing moment thus, but a ‘stationary’ one” (Star 316).  Rosenzweig calls such a moment “hour,” and it “can already contain within itself the multiplicity of old and new, the fullness of moments.  Its end can merge back into its beginning because it has a middle, indeed many middle moments between its beginning and its end.”  In this manner, the hour becomes “a circle returning upon itself.”  In the hour, the moment becomes eternal, and in the same manner will turn the day, the week, the month and the year to hours of human life.  Each time they attain “an end at that which immediately becomes a beginning again” (Star 317).  Rosenzweig illustrates this idea by means of the agricultural seasons and by the recurring change from the days of the week to the Sabbath.  Though eternity is, in its essence, irrational, we can discern it in the unknown and hidden future and make it an integral part of the present today of man.

            This eternity is not merely a simplification of the relationship to world values, nor is it nihilism.  Eternity is pure monotheism, devotion to the sublime manifested in the establishment of a particular community:  “There is only one community in which … one cannot utter the ‘we’ of its unity without hearing deep within a voice that adds:  ‘the eternal.’  It must be a blood community, because only blood [i.e., continuity of the blood line from father to son down through generations] gives present warrant to the hope for a future” (Star 323).  Therefore, the people which can exist without a land and without language is the “eternal,” who are not tied to time and place.

Eternal attestation as universal content

            “… the Eternal per se.  In his mouth, ‘I am’ is like ‘I shall be’ and finds explanation in it” (Star 299).  Rosenzweig hints to us about the testimony of eternity from Exod. 3:14.  God reveals Himself to Moses, who asks Him His name.  God answers “I AM THAT I AM,” an expression which attests to His eternal existence.  In the biblical texts, God is explicitly called “netsach” (eternity), as, for example, in the verse, “And also the Strength (netzach) of Israel will not lie or repent…” (1 Sam. 15:29).  Biblical testimony attests to about six hundred thousand (Exod. 38:26) witnesses of the eternal element in Jewish man and the Jewish people.  If we delve into the history of the Jewish people and the course of its national and spiritual development, we find reasons for its faith in eternity and survival, which testifies to its perpetuity.  In biblical texts, the Jews were known as “the few among the people,” meaning they were weak in number.  Consequently, there was always fear of annihilation by the great powers.  Furthermore, at the beginning of their history, the Jews were wandering tribes.  It is natural that the deficiency in numbers would be compensated by increased quality in faith.  Otherwise, destruction was inevitable.  The effort of qualitative strengthening brought them in the past to resist the passing vigor of the material, to deny the admiration of the real and ultimately to reveal the one and powerful and eternal God.  The Jewish people did not even have to link its fate with factors of time and place, nor with a national tongue; they could live without land and a common Hebrew language.

            Not being dependent on external, material life, the Jews gained eternal life.  According to Rosenzweig, the Jews are an eternal people because of their blood relationships and their association with God (eternity), since “only a community based on common blood feels the warrant of eternity warm in its veins even now” (Star 324).  Rosenzweig’s thought is supported by Genesis Rabba, chapter 14, section 1:  “Life (nefesh) – this is blood, as it is said ‘for the blood is the life.’” (Deut. 12:23).  Since the soul (nefesh) is eternal, and the soul [life (nefesh)] is blood, the concept of eternal blood can be understood.  His belief that the Jews are an eternal people in part three (Star 323-356) suggests that those who considered Star of Redemption a Jewish book are correct, and that all the ideas which precede the third part brought him to a perception that Judaism is ‘non-historic,” that is, it expresses Judaism’s eternity.  Yet, in order to reach the concept of “non-historic,” Rosenzweig must pass through history in time and place.  “Israel is the symbol of eternity that is within time” maintains Natan Rotenstreich in his summary of the thought of Rosenzweig (Jewish Philosophy 2:240).  And, one may add:  even within place in the world.  Other people take part in the past (creation) and the future (redemption) according to their spiritual character.  On the contrary, the Jewish people had suspended for itself the contradiction between creation and revelation.  The Jewish people lives in its own redemption.  It has anticipated eternity.  Jews are eternal since “every act of a Jew jumps immediately from the framework of time and becomes eternity” (Naharayim 68).  The Jewish people is “everlasting existence” (“Daseinsewigkeit”) (Naharayim 74).

            That the Jewish people were able to maintain their strength and survive in spite of the disintegration and expulsions attests to their perpetuity.  Rosenzweig believed (Naharayim 59-69) that their presence in the world indicated they are safeguarded by the father in heaven, for which reason Rosenzweig proclaimed the “we” to be eternal (Star 323).

            Rosenzweig quotes verses 17 and 18 of Ps. 115:  “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.  But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.  Praise the Lord” (Star 280).  These verses reinforce the proof of the everlastingness of the individual and the community,  “Not the dead”—indeed not, “but we, we will praise God from this time forth and to eternity.”  This is what Hermann Cohen termed “the conquering But” – “But we are eternal” (Naharayim 152; compare Star 323).  Death plunges into the Nought in the face of this triumphal shout of eternity.  Life becomes immortal in redemption’s eternal hymn of praise.  Immortality comprises the significant contents of eternity, of which Rabbi A. Kook also spoke:  “The aspiration for the splendor of eternity conquers death and wipes away the tear from every face” (Orot HaKodesh 2:377).  But Rosenzweig emphasizes that life must first become wholly temporal… before it can become eternal.  The interpretation suggests that in order to attain “non-history,” in which Rosenzweig distinguishes the Jews, one must first pass the lengthy historic path and understand its process in time and place.  For that purpose, he chooses for himself the symbol of the “star of redemption,” which is the “star of David” with its six heads, which symbolize God, world and man on one side, and creation, revelation and redemption on the other.  According to Rosenzweig, these symbolize the historic process in time and place by their realization in time and place.  They are not concepts or forms of pure intellect but actual reality.  According to the historic process, God is made real in the world by man.  Revelation of God is not a one time manifestation, but a continuing process which does not cease in the innermost parts of man; it acts in him and drives him to bring redemption to mankind, and man gains God’s everlasting love in the proximity of the semblance of the “revelation” of the divinity.

            Immortality as the contents of eternity is, in effect, the fundamental condition which makes eternity the everlastingness of the present, a concept which will be discussed in the section on the conditions for the fulfillment of man’s purpose.  The framework of immortality is the kingdom, meaning that which eternally cometh.  This is the world that one sees.  If eternity is a future in which, without ceasing to be future, is nonetheless present, then eternity is a process of essential growth from the future to the present and from the present to the future.  Now the everlastingness of God means the being of becoming.  That is, with the conclusion of the movement of time created in the second part of The Star of Redemption, and after the whole of eternity itself grows in the personal time-experience between man and God, we turn to the perpetuity of God whose time-measure of this growth is not fixed.  Rosenzweig emphasizes that this growth is unrelated to time.  An existence which has once merged into the world cannot drop out again; it has entered the once and for all; it has become eternal (Star 254).  The factual content of eternity is “Tatsache” only.  The fact of growth assures that it will not return and recede to the Nought.

            At the end of part two in book three, Rosenzweig describes eternity as the content of the seeing of the light:  “It is that seeing of the light of which it is written:  ‘by thy light we see light’” (Star 281).  This light, according to Genesis Rabba (sec. 3) and Shmot Rabba (sec. 35), establishes a profound connection with creation and revelation within the concept of redemption:  “God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Gen. 1:3)—and what is the light of God?  It is the soul of man” (Star 148).  This is the light that the Almighty created the first day and stored for the righteous men who will come in the future.  And the Midrash said:  “… and for whom did He store it?  For the righteous men who shall come.  Compare the Midrash to a king who had a fine fortune and distributed it to his son.  Where was it stored?  In paradise.”3  For only in this manner did our forefathers describe the contentment of life in the next world, which is not comparable to the peaceful rest the individual soul finds every moment anew in the eyes of God.

            According to Rosenzweig, in the course of anticipating the future to the present (Star 257), it is possible to say “this is the day [of redemption]” that “the pious sitm with crowns on their heads, and behold the radiance of the manifest deity” (Star 281).  In the light of this eternity, Rosenzweig seeks to light the world and its redemption.  It is the assurance of the perpetuity of the revelation of God and emergence of the soul from its seclusion to “the eyes of everything that lives” (Rinat Yisrael 268).

The purpose of obliged necessity

            Eternalization of love becomes complete when it reaches out to the world, to the people with whom love meets.  The eternal nature of love is beyond the words, “You are mine” that is spoken to it—it draws a protective circle about its steps” (Star 215), and exists beyond the knowledge that from now on “it need but stretch out its right hand in order to feel God’s right hand coming to meet it” (Star 215).  The call thunders:  “my God, my God” (Star 215), and the pronouncement “I am his, he is mine” do not assure at all the objective of eternity.  For “O that you were like a brother to me!” (Star 234) asks the soul, no longer directing the soul to the beloved lover.  For love remains between two people, but the I and Thou cannot grant the soul eternal love beyond its time and place, in a future beyond its present revelation. " “I” and “Thou” are linked to the most intimate, present time and do not burst forth to the eyes of everything living” (Rinat Yisrael 268).  The mutual love is not the love which expresses the “external fulfillment which love reaches out after from her internal blissfulness in a stupor of unquenchable longing…” (Star 234).  The love of the meeting already will not fulfill the impersonal communal life of the natural kinship community.  The soul will not aspire to the realm of brotherliness, the bond of supernatural community that is wholly personal in its experience, yet wholly worldly in its existence.

            True, the soul is now “opened, surrendered, trusting—but opened only in one single direction, surrendered only to a single One, trusting only in Him.  The soul has opened her eyes and ears, but only One figure meets her glance, only one voice reaches her ears” (Star 236).  The soul remains deaf and blind to whatever is not the One.  Rosenzweig emphasizes that God has become, as long as He appeared to be merely the creator, more amorphous than He had previously been in pagan religions and has, moreover, been in constant danger of slipping back into the night of a concealed God.  Just so the soul, too, as long as she is only the beloved soul, is now likewise still invisible and more amorphous than when it was the self.  The soul sees only God.  In every other direction she remains just as secluded as she was.  As the mere creator is forever in danger of slipping back into the concealed, so the mere bliss of the soul, immersed in God’s loving glance, is in danger of slipping back into seclusion.  The chorus turns in speech to Rosenzweig’s metaphor of “the-mute-as-marble-figure,” of man alone with his god prior to reaching out to his fellow man.

            Man’s being loved only by God and closed off to all the world is presented by Rosenzweig in the parable of Gyges’s ring,4 which injures the man who uses it, since he is detached from everything connected to the world.  Man is closed off to all the world and closes himself off.  His soul is opened only to God, but is closed off to all the world.

            Man’s fusion with God, attained while forgetting all else, disturbed Rosenzweig greatly.  He indicated his distaste for mysticism, stating:  “The mystic, however, is not a human being, barely half a one.  He is but the vessel of his ecstacies” (Star 239).  The one-sided openness would have made him a mystic, whose relationship to the world, which he forgets in favor of God, is “thoroughly immoral” (Star 238).  Love of the world, then, is not only a positive act of being more than moral but is also an obligatory act, without which man would be unable to realize his essence and this return to seclusion.

            Winston S. Churchill expressed the obligation of “growth” for the world as an urgent responsibility and saw in it, in the words of Rosenzweig, redemption of the world:  “Without parallel growth of … peace and love, science itself is likely to destroy all that which turns life into the exalted … there has not yet been a period which requires that the internal virtue of man be manifested more strongly and faithfully in daily life; there has not yet been a period in which the hope for eternal life … was more necessary for the security of mankind.”5

            Winston Churchill was not an existential philosopher, but his existentialist thought expressed Rosenzweig’s state of mind when he expressed the mercy of love for the world which would bring redemption of the world from calamity.  Though love is the value which the individual attained in revelation, it cannot be found outside the framework of the I and Thou, and the danger of becoming lost awaits it.  Therefore, in order to become eternal man is obligated to burst out of the "I and Thou to help his beloved” and to turn to the world, to everlastingness and to the future.  The hope for eternal life, which characterizes Rosenzweig’s conception and which the commander professes for those experiencing this need due to the existing reality of battlefield and slaughter, expresses the view of those holding true religious belief.

            The one answer to the question, “O that you were like a brother to me” (Star 234) is beyond God’s love.  It is realized in the love of man for his neighbor.  Loving the other person, and not the love of God, is the way to everlastingness, redemption of the world or establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only in this way is man’s purpose realized in the world.  Love must be eternalized, for only this eternalization redeems the world.  Redemption begins revelation, which opens with human love, which is a creation of the exemplary individual being, that is, mortal being.  This being, unique and exemplary or mortal, is forever a partner.  The victory over death is buried in the very moment of death:  love is strong as death, but death, possible at any moment, turns redeeming love into the possible.  Loving thy neighbor is now more important than being loved by God, but this does not mean that “love thy God” (Deut. 6:5, 11:1) is nullified in favor of “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18).  Rosenzweig emphasizes that one must complement the love of God with the love of man.

            In summary, in being a lover, man is freed from confinement within his singularity and solitariness, and the condition created by I and Thou.  He senses new feelings of association and brotherhood.  In addition, he feels his ability to create love by being a lover, and not merely the feelings of dependence of the beloved, who is helpless and secluded.  Man is fulfilled only when he knows how to free his self from the relationship between man and God and enter the world, where he gives his love to the world.  Thus, loving God must be completed by loving one’s neighbor.

The fundamental condition of the purpose of man

            Rosenzweig thinks that the basic condition necessary to realizing eternal love of man is found initially in the love of God:  “… man can express himself in the act of love only after he has first become a soul awakened by God.  It is only in being loved by God that the soul can make of its act of love more than a mere act, can make of it, that is, the fulfillment of a commandment to love” (Star 244).  In other words, before loving your friend, you are obligated to love God.  In Rosenzweig’s thought, love for fellow man is an answer, and therefore there is a fundamental difference between love of God and love of man.  God loves since love expresses him and his power, it is an attribute, or, more precisely, a “happening” belonging to his essence; man loves because God loves him.  There is early and late, cause and effect, God’s love of the lover and the lover’s love of the beloved, and in respect of man the emphasis is on response, on reaction (compare Rotenstreich, Jewish Philosophy 2:223-224).  You can give your neighbor only what you possess.  You cannot give him something you have not learned or which is not within your experience.  Since love is not real, one does not lose it when it is given:  “… ever young love, ever first love…” (Star 193) “… it wants to be stable” (Star 196).  One can give all one’s love to a hundred persons and still possess the same amount of love with which one began.  Love is like knowledge.  A learned man can teach everything he knows, but when he finishes, he still knows everything he has taught.  But, first, he must be knowledgeable.  “Ere man can turn himself over to God’s will, God must first have turned to man” (Star 245).

            God’s love means pure interest in man’s soul to the extent of “the soul never ceasing to be loved” (Star 202), caring, concern and respect.  The concern for the soul is the principal element of love, so much so that “God gives himself to the soul” (Star 202).  Man loves God when he sees himself with precision, evaluates truly what he sees, and is particularly excited and feels a challenge when he thinks of what can be done in “walking before God” (Star 239).  There are shared elements which influence development of the personality:  inheritance, environment, opportunity.  But surely there is another element, which has not yet been identified scientifically, which Rosenzweig calls “something which is not encompassed in the concept of truth” (Naharayim 208), a merging of the special forces acting on the individual and causing him to feel, react and absorb according to some thing, and only it.  Man is individual and special, but most of what he learns from the day of his birth onward does not give him the freedom to disclose his individuality and develop it in his meeting with God and love.

            Man must associate with the world and with mankind, which act as agents through which man manifests and commingles with in the uniqueness of his acquired love, for “the love of God must be manifested in loving thy neighbor” (Star 244).  The individual greatly needs new and fresh approaches in community; without this mutuality, he will lose what he acquired, for “the mere bliss of love is in danger of slipping back into the secluded” (Star 237).

            Loving God prepares the foundation to receive the commandment of love thy neighbor, a commandment which awakens anew the spiritual uniqueness and fulfills it:  “Only the soul beloved of God can receive the commandment to love its neighbor and fulfill that command” (Star 245).  Since the content of the present ordinance is to love, God’s “ordaining what he will” must be preceded by God’s “already having done” what he ordains.  The meaning of this is to understand and assess the idea that one is the unique and special “Thou” created “in the image” in this world.  The commandment can also be interpreted to mean that one is not absolutely aware of all the silent marvels within oneself, for there is “something which is not encompassed in the concept of truth” (Naharayim 208).  Thus, when one dies, one’s wondrous possibilities will expire with one, for “not the dead” – indeed not, “but we, we will praise God from this time forth and to eternity” (Naharayim 280).  There exists in “Thou” a potential which should emerge in action and “in the presence of all the world” (Star 234).  Goethe, whom Rosenzweig frequently quotes in Star and in articles in Naharayim, brought Faust to disclose this by saying:  “Had I found a moment of rest on earth, for then this moment I said:  be kind with thy bounty and linger a while” (p. 223).  As Rosenzweig explains in Star, page 254, if Faust ceases his searches for the tiniest moment, he brings on Satan, for there is not a moment of rest in the struggle of man for his becoming, there is a process of essential growth which is always yet to come.  Chasing the “irrational” (Naharayim 207) must be the greatest challenge standing before man:  the search for himself, his personal odyssey:  to locate his space and arrange it.

            The love of God, and only it, then, includes, the true disclosure of man’s purpose, not only in the present but in the possibilities embodied in the future.  The love of God is linked to the ever present consciousness that one is unique, created in God’s image.  Only you, Rosenzweig maintains, can be the final judge of what is good for you, and only you will exploit your perfection in the world:  “Only he would be a real, a full human being… one devoted to God and turned to the world” (Star 239).  This is the religious experience which compels man not only to God but also to the world.  Loving God means knowing that your significance is eternal; with this knowledge, man can love his neighbor.  A. Altmann writes:  “only by means of revelation does the eternal penetrate time, realize and redeem it” (“Franz Rosenzweig on History”).  “…In the likeness of God he made him”6 and, explains H’Admar Rabbi Lev MeGur, Bal Sefat Emeth:  (Portion Kedoshim):  “He who loves his fellow man, who is made in the image of God, he loves God and honors him.”  This is the love of man which comes via adherence to God.  He who denies himself vis-?-vis God will feel that denigration also vis-?-vis his fellow man, for God created him in His image.  Rosenzweig states that “since love cannot be commanded except by the lover himself, therefore the love for man, in being commanded by God, is directly derived from the love for God” (Star 244).  To Rabbi Akiva’s explanation of the verse “love thy neighbor as thyself,” Rabbi Tanhuma added the idea that because he is “your neighbor,” he is “like you”; but because of the denial of God also the duties of love increase much more, for your neighbor is similar to the form of his possessor to the extent that he will enthrone us on himself” (Gabbai, sec. 12).  If you know God’s appeal to your spiritual uniqueness, if you accept and value it, you will enable others to benefit from this individuality.  In Rosenzweig’s words, “loving thy neighbor is decreed from the love for God” (Star 144).  If your form is free to disclose who you are, in the experience of the meeting, you will grant also to others the freedom to do this same thing towards you.  Thus, everything begins with you, or, more precisely, between I and Thou, between the I and the soul loved by God.  All the power of the everlastingness of love in the world is nourished by mercy, the love that is concentrated in the soul of man and that becomes the hope for redemption of the world.  In his note to the poems of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Rosenzweig states:  “you improved your mercy while you were waiting for your redemption” (Sechzig Hymnen 102).  If you will know your soul as “being loved by God” (Star 244), you can give of yourself to others.  When you will love God, you will love others.  Only in the same depth and dimension that you love God will you find yourself able to love your fellow man:  “Only the soul beloved of God can receive the commandment to love its neighbor and fulfill it” (Star 245).

            Because love is man’s possession, he is no longer subject to the mercy of a God stronger than he, for “love after all always remains between two people” (Star 234), and man, himself, becomes a powerful force in the world arena.  This is the great purpose to which one endeavors, such is man.  Love of man, which comes as a response and reaction to God’s love for man, is the primary goal which the star of redemption places before us, a goal which hopefully has the power to bring the world’s redemption:  “Besides man and the world, there is but One who is third; only One can become their deliverer” (Star 257).  It is the redemption of the world that Rosenzweig emphasizes since it is not necessary that Judaism be delivered as it already attained the future in the present.  Judaism already reached the objective, and it has no further need to develop.  “We do not become old since we were never young – we are eternal” (Naharayim 68).  See also Star, p. 323:  “There is only one community in the world… which cannot utter the ‘we’ of its unity without hearing deep within a voice that adds:  ‘are eternal.’”  But the world has not yet reached the objective.  Christianity is still on the way.  From revelation, “love thy God” man awakens to act in the world, to mend the world in the kingdom of God, attain “loving thy neighbor” and bring the entire creation to redemption, resuscitating all nature with love:  “… all the world within which it deals, is growing life” (Star 269).

Summary

The higher purpose of man, according to Franz Rosenzweig and like-minded philosophers of Jewish thought, is to love his fellow man, and, through doing so, to engage in tikkun olam, repairing the world.  Before man can love others, however, he must first love God, responding to God’s love for him.  It is not sufficient for man to focus on his love for God because this leads to isolation and disengagement from the world, something that Rosenzweig considers immoral.  For God and Judaism need no development or improvement; only the affairs of this world do.  The soul reveals its everlasting nature through the act of selfless love.

  1. The Hebrew word "olam" (workd) means also "eternity," as, for example, in the expression "l`olam"(forever). See F. Rosenzweig, Secfhzig Hymanen 146: "Welt."
  2. Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nochmanides) Commentary on Lev. 23.29.
  3. Gen. Rabba, section 3, from the Sefer Haggadah, edited by H. N. Bialik and H. Ravnitzki, 12.
  4. The ring which turns the object to seeing and not being seen.
  5. Churchill was a contemporary of Rosenzweig who,  in 1932, warned mankind of th coming danger of te abandonment of religion. Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures (2nd edition, 1947) page 213.
  6. Genesis Rabba, sec. 24.


List of Source Material Abbreviations

Rotenstreich, Natan. HaMachshavah haYehudit b'et haHadash [Jewish Philosophy in Modern Times]. Tel-Aviv: Am Oved, 1966.

Jewish Philosophy

Orot HaKodesh

Kook, Abraham Yitzhak HaCohen. Oroth HaKodesh [Lights of Holiness]. Jerusalem: Mossad H’Rav Kook, 1962.

Naharayim

Rosenzweig, Franz. Naharayim [Selected Writings of Franz Rosenzweig]. Trans. Yehoshua Amir. Jerusalem: Bialik Inst., 1977.

Rinat Yisrael

Rinat Yisrael (Ashkenazic text). Ed. Shlomo Tal. Jerusalem: Morasa P, 1972.

Sechzig Hymnen

Rosenzweig, Franz. Sechzig Hymnen und Gedichte Des Jehuda Halevi [Sixty Hymns and Poems of Jehuda Halevi].  Deutsch, mit einem Nachwort und mit Anmerkungen [German, with an Epilogue and with Remarks], Konstanz: Oscar Wohrle Verlag, 1924.

Star

Rosenzweig, Franz. The Star of Redemption. 2d ed. Trans. William W. Hallo. New York: U of Notre Dame P, 1985.

Stern

-------. Der Stern der Erlising [The Star of Redemption]. Frankfurt A. Main: J. Kauffman Verlag, 1921.

 





 
     
     
     
   
 
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