"Nothing so sharply distinguishes philosophers and Kabbalists as their attitude toward the problem of evil and the demonic."
August 30, 2002 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"Nothing so sharply distinguishes philosophers and Kabbalists as their attitude toward the problem of evil and the demonic." A widely informative study of the historical background and on the mythic passions of the great Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholen by a writer I much enjoy, Cynthia Ozick. (zip up Miguel, my uncle Zen sent this as a contribution to your Sacks)
posted by semmi (17 comments total)
And this you come up with, semmi, less than half an hour before Shabbat? I too love Scholem and Ozick and would dearly love to comment, but it'll have to wait till Saturday night. The house is in an uproar right now. Shalom!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:41 AM on August 30, 2002

How many frummies are there here anyway? (I'm lapsed.)
posted by callmejay at 11:54 AM on August 30, 2002

What the heck does that parenthetical comment mean? Strikes me as way too chatty and in-groupish. Remember that there are 15k+ of us here, please.
posted by rushmc at 12:01 PM on August 30, 2002

My bad. I figured "frummies" might be too in-groupish (it refers to Orthodox Jews who follow traditional Jewish law, and is perhaps slightly derogatory, although I didn't intend it that way) but I didn't realize "lapsed" was. Lapsed just means that I used to be, but am not any more. 15k apologies.
posted by callmejay at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2002

(Not you, callmejay, I meant semmi. Anyway, not to derail...on to the link!)
posted by rushmc at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2002

I think rushmc was talking about the original parenthetical, callmejay. Yours I kind of understand, but semmi's aside to Miguel, is, I agree, pretty inscrutable. At least to a goyim. (did I get that right?)
posted by yhbc at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2002

Oops. Also sorry for adding to the derail. Continue with your reading.
posted by yhbc at 12:15 PM on August 30, 2002

Interesting article: Favorite quote: "Jerusalem offers more than Ibiza" and hello all.
posted by terrortubby at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2002

I hadn't even realized that Scholem and Benjamin were friends, much less correspondents. I'm going to have to get that new book of letters.
posted by saltykmurks at 12:27 PM on August 30, 2002

yhbc: sorry to continue the derailment, but goyim is plural. The masculine singular is goy.
posted by callmejay at 12:28 PM on August 30, 2002

posted by yhbc at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2002

the parenthetical is about the Rabbi Sacks post that Miguel did a few days ago about Israel and Judaism.

I never heard "frummies" before--where does that come from?

And Ozick is one of the best writers around imho--I have to find out more about that guy...thanks semmi.
posted by amberglow at 3:09 PM on August 30, 2002

Cool link.

Also, a beautiful new word for my collection: Tsimtsum, or "the act of creative withrawal".

"Without contraction there is no creation, as everything is Godhead," Scholem writes. "Therefore, already in its earliest origins, the creation is a kind of exile, in that it involves God removing Himself from the center of His essence to His secret places."
posted by signal at 3:15 PM on August 30, 2002

While I would not pretend to have the wisdom to adequately comment on this, I must thank you for pointing out this fine article.
posted by tkcteecfrs at 5:13 PM on August 30, 2002

It's like Jewish Gnosticism, except with a more thoroughly developed metaphysics. Fascinating. Also Madonna likes it.
posted by crunchburger at 7:02 PM on August 30, 2002

"Frum" is Yiddish for "pious", from the mediaeval German "from". "Frummies" is a Yinglish neologism for the Jewish equivalents of Ned Flanders.

Hah! Finally, a yiddishe grandma and a BA in German come in handy!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:10 PM on August 30, 2002

Great article! Thanks, Semmi. Here's a rather nice profile of Cynthia Ozick, that includes this rather interesting note:

Her parents had come to America from the severe northwest region of Russia, More important for an insight into Ozick's temperament, they came from the Litvak [Lithuanian] Jewish tradition of that region. That is a tradition of skepticism, rationalism, and antimysticism, opposed to the exuberant emotionalism of the Hasidic community that flourished in the Galitzianer [Galician] portion of Eastern Europe. This explains, perhaps, why the Hasidic rebbe in Ozick's story "Bloodshed" is such a reasonable man, almost a Litvak. Ozick herself, she does not tire of repeating, is a misnaged, an opponent of mystic religion. In her stories, however, she wallows in mysticism.

as well as this comment, that I include because it happens to intertwine nicely with another current thread:

In an article in the Washington Post Book World (January 15, 1995), explaining how she came to write the play Blue Light (1994), she relates how, as early as 1961, she came to realize that the world had attenuated the Holocaust into the "Second World War," as though Zyklon B, the deadly gas used to murder Jews, were nothing more than an artifact of war.
posted by taz at 6:46 AM on August 31, 2002

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