Between Kant and Kabbalah: An Introduction to Isaac Breuer's by Alan L. Mittleman

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By Alan L. Mittleman

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Sample text

The remainder of the Kuzari follows the rabbi's exposition of Jewish teaching to his newly won convert. Breuer's Der Neue Kusari proceeds according to the same pattern. Young Alfred Roden (formerly Rosenstock) had been raised in a cultured, bourgeois, and carefully deracinated German-Jewish home. After a carefree youth, he entered a brooding, troubled adolescence. He began to question whether life has meaningwhether life is able to generate meaning out of itself, or whether meaning comes from beyond.

It seemed to presuppose everything and prove nothing. " This exhortation surprised Alfred. As a cultured youth who had drunk deeply at the well of popular Kantianism, he had always believed that only the will was good and that the deed was of little value. Requiring now an education in the possibility of the deed, of correct action, he turned to investigate the significance of his hitherto irrelevant Jewishness (Judeseinl. He did so with the hope that he would discover a pattern of correct action validated by transcendent reality.

Breuer has to be seen as a follower of his grandfather Hirsch. The ambivalence that we find in Hirsch toward philosophy reemerges in Breuer, owing to Breuer's conviction of the primacy of revelation over reason and of the revelation people over natural humanity. Some quotations from Breuer's autobiography, Mein Weg (1946), document this ambivalence: Blessed is God who has given his wisdom to Kant! Every authentic Jew, who with serious and honest effort studies the Critique of Pure Reason will say "amen" from the depths of his heart.

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