Believe it or not, one of the most daring and original Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, Franz Rosenzweig — did just that. All of us have had a conversation that altered the course of our lives, maybe it was even an all-night conversation—but could it be construed as causing a minor miraculous moment of our lives? I suggest that this is what was happening in while Rosenzweig finds himself in Leipzig as he continues to follow his passion of philosophy while also studying math and law. His quest for all types of knowledge was insatiable, so that in his law lectures, Rosenzweig becomes close friends with his lecturer in jurisprudence, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.
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Believe it or not, one of the most daring and original Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, Franz Rosenzweig — did just that. All of us have had a conversation that altered the course of our lives, maybe it was even an all-night conversation—but could it be construed as causing a minor miraculous moment of our lives? I suggest that this is what was happening in while Rosenzweig finds himself in Leipzig as he continues to follow his passion of philosophy while also studying math and law.
His quest for all types of knowledge was insatiable, so that in his law lectures, Rosenzweig becomes close friends with his lecturer in jurisprudence, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy. As passionate, budding philosophers these two begin schmoozing regularly over the following question: how can our radical selfhood be reconciled with our grasp of the world?
And how must the divine be conceived such that it be understood as grounding and unifying both selfhood and worldliness? But then on that fateful eve of July 7, , Rosenzweig engages in an all-night discussion with his own cousin, Rudolf Ehrenberg and Rosenstock-Huessy and, which Rosenzweig returns to later and realizes it to be a most transformative event in his life.
Over the course of this all-night rap session, Rosenstock-Huessy convinces Rosenzweig to rethink his view of Christianity as inherently anti-worldly to now stress its redemptive work in the world. As he becomes more convinced that only a Christian life grounded in revelation and devoted to the mission of redeeming the world through history provides the only compelling path to the reconciliation of selfhood and worldliness, Rosenzweig feels he has only once choice—to abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity.
Imagine you are Rosenzweig at the moment—what would you decide to do? Three months later, Rosenzweig reverses his decision. Legend has it that upon returning in October of to wander the streets of Berlin Erev Kol Nidrei in search of a church ready to convert, Rosenzweig miraculously hears the haunting melody of Kol Nidrei and turns around. The rest is history. Rosenzweig continued to appreciate how Christianity could still carry out the redemptive unity in the world, but that was not the full picture.
Even more interesting is how through this process for Rosenzweig, the Jewish people and its insular communal life anticipates the ultimate redemption they must ever pursue.
Rather it is his miraculous abandonment of a promising academic career in order to live, teach and create Lehrhaus in the Frankfurt Jewish community as a serious centre for adult Jewish learning, and moreover, his uber-heroic efforts while suffering from ALS to continue his thinking, writing, and communal work after succumbing to the paralysis. We stand at the transition—the transition of the mystery to the miracle.
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Early life[ edit ] Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel , Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant, Jewish family. Rosenzweig, under the influence of his cousins and his close friend Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy , considered converting to Christianity. Determined to embrace the faith as the early Christians did, he resolved to live as an observant Jew first, before becoming Christian. After attending Yom Kippur services at a small Orthodox synagogue in Berlin, he underwent a mystical experience. As a result, he became a baal teshuva.
Glazer: The miracle of Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption
The Star of Redemption. Translated from the second edition of by William H. Foreword by N. To anyone even remotely interested in 20th-century Jewish thought the name of Franz Rosenzweig has long been familiar, as are the outlines of his extraordinary life. Born into a cultured, assimilated Jewish family in Kassel, Rosenzweig received only the most rudimentary Jewish education.
Rosenzweig, under the influence of his cousins and his close friend idealism and sought a philosophy that did not begin with an abstract notion of the human. It is a description of the relationships between God , humanity, and the world, as they are connected by creation, revelation and redemption. If one makes a diagram with God at the top, and the World and the Self below, the inter-relationships generate a Star of David map. He is critical of any attempt to replace actual human existence with an ideal. We are called to love God, and to do so is to return to the world, and that is redemption. Buber was a Zionist , but Rosenzweig felt that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should eschew.
The Star of Redemption
Donate Judaism is not the acceptance of a doctrine, of a religion and its rituals. There may be times when this reality is obscured by the manifold and colorful reality of the nations among whom the Jew lives. But even hidden, it remains real and mysteriously active, and there may come a time when the blessed gift, the heavy burden of its confirmation, is bestowed upon those born into it. Franz Rosenzweig, 11 years old, said to a teacher he wanted "to learn Hebrew properly". I like to observe some of the customs - without any real reason … I like to think in the images of the biblical story. Rosenzweig wrote to his own parents: "We are Christians in all things, we live in a Christian state, go to Christian schools, read Christian books, our whole culture is based on a Christian foundation. On the evening of July 7, , while discussing baptism with Eugen Rosenstock and his cousins Hans and Rudolf Ehrenberg, Rosenzweig promised to get baptized.