Elements of a Philosophy for Diaspora Judaism

By Gendler, Everett | Tikkun, November/December 2010 | Go to article overview

Elements of a Philosophy for Diaspora Judaism


Gendler, Everett, Tikkun


An Introduction to Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret's "The Exile of the Presence and the Presence of the Exile"

WHY BE JEWISH? WHY JOIN TEMPLES? WHY BOTHER TO INTRODUCE OUR children to Jewish ideas and practices? Answers to these questions vary from person to person and from age to age, but the questions persist. Perhaps there are periods of remission but not of resolution. The questions seem as perpetual as the Jewish people itself.

In recent decades, many Jews have answered these questions by referring to the Holocaust or the State of Israel as primary reasons for remaining involved in Jewish life and for exploring Judaism. With the passage of time, the Holocaust grows more remote. To preserve the memories of it seems still a worthy goal, but the immediacy and urgency of it have diminished with time. And as Israel has transformed from an immediately endangered society to a regional military superpower, the shift in its identity has opened the way for many Jews to question specifics of its policies and its claims upon us. Territorial policies, the steady growth of settlements from the post-Oslo period into the present, military actions in Lebanon and Gaza, the blockade of Gaza, and the flotilla episode have caused many Jews to feel increasingly remote from Israel as a moral or spiritual center for their lives.

Once again the question of Jewish purpose, of Jewish mission, asserts itself afresh. Rather surprisingly, a chapter from an essay written in 1920 seems directly relevant to the question that we address today. Its title? "The Exile of the [Divine] Presence and the [Divine] Presence of the Exile." My translation of this text- the fourth chapter from The Community of Israel and the Wars of the Nations by Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret/Tamares- appears on page 56 of this issue ofTikkun; I am offering this short essay as an introduction to it.

Many readers will recognize the term "Divine Presence," an English rendering of the Hebrew word Shechinah. Referring to God's presence within the sanctuary of the community of Israel (Exodus 25:8), the term is central to contemporary discussions of the renewal of religious experience and to seeking the felt presence of God during prayer and ceremony. As the central expression within Jewish mystical thought and practice for the feminine presence of God, it is a frequent point of reference in feminist theology as well. The centrality of the term in Tamaret's affirmation of God's felt presence within Diaspora Judaism contributes to the sense that, despite the ninety years since its composition, his essay sounds surprisingly up to date.

An Unassailably Jewish Critique of the Nation-State and Jewish Nationalism

RABBI TAMARET/TAMARES PASSIONATELY AFFIRMS DIASPORA JUDAISM AS THE TRUE, NECESSARY purpose of Jewish existence, even as he expresses a severe critique of nationalism. Not prone to Jewish exceptionalism (as in "a 'Jewish' nation-state will be different"), he offers a searching criticism that extends both to the independent Jewish kingdoms ofbiblical times and to the Temple itself, as well as to modern political Zionism.

Many Jews are uncomfortable with criticisms of Zionism and of Israel as a state. Even thoughtful, sympathetic Jewish critics of policies of the State of Israel are often dismissed as ignorant about Jewish matters, inauthentic, or self-hating. Such charges can hardly be directed against Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret/Tamares, 1869-1931, known as the prodigy (iluf) from Maltsh. In addition to being an author and philosopher, Tamaret served as rabbi to the village of Mileichich (Grodno district) from 1893 until his death. He is aptly characterized in the Encyclopedia Judaica as "an Orthodox rabbi who fought against the fossilized halachah in a completely original style and who attacked nationalism and political Zionism as anti- Jewish phenomena." Reassured by these Jewish credentials, perhaps we can, with less discomfort than would otherwise be the case, give reasoned hearing to Tamaret's searching, searing critique of Jewish nationalism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Elements of a Philosophy for Diaspora Judaism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.