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On Kabbala and Myth in 19th Century Germany: Isaac Bernays Author(s): Rivka Horwitz Source: Proceedings of the American

Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 59 (1993), pp. 137183 Published by: American Academy for Jewish Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3622715 Accessed: 07/05/2010 13:56
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A. Introduction The description of modern German Jewry, Mendelssohn, the Enlightenment,the Haskalah,the Science of Judaism and the Reform and Orthodox Movements, undoubtedly reflect the crucial events of the Emancipation.However, there were also counter attempts of which very little is known. These include persons who opposed the Enlightenment because their allegiance to the past was so great that they did not want to adapt themselves to rationaltrends;or that they wished to revive and understandthe past under the influence of German Romanticism. Generallyspeaking,in that period, there were numerous personswho did not fit into normallyacceptedcategories,and it would thereforebe advisableto considerthe spiritualhistory of German Jewry in a more pluralisticand complex manner. We should take into considerationsome of those who did not follow the general trend. One of the leading Kabbalists in Frankfurt/M,Rabbi Nathan Adler, who died in 1800, was the teacherof severalrabbiswho were involved in the revival of the mystical past. There were also others who appreciatedthe past and its values. During the period of the greatpoet and philosopher, Goethe, who showed an appreciation of Kabbalistic metaphysical speculations, Rabbi Herz Scheuer of Mainz (1754-1822) tried to strengthenJewish mysticism and favored pietism and asceticism. He headed a yeshiva and ordained
' See WernerJ. 0 nnman, "Schelling and the New Thinkingof Judaism"in Proceedingsof the AmericanAcademyfor Jewish Research XLVIII (1981), 1-55.




many rabbis both for France and Germany, and wrote a kabbalistic work on ethics, Tore Zahav which the famous KabbalascholarGershomScholem describedas the last kabbalistic publication in Germany.2Scheuer was one of the few rabbis who not only refused to officiate as a salaried rabbi but who also gave up his rabbinicalposition to avoid becoming a member of Napoleon's Consistoire (1807-1814).3 In his kabbalistic interpretationof the Song of Songs, which is based to a great extent upon the Zohar, he advocates saintliness and the "slayingof the evil inclination." A younger student from Mainz, a child prodigy, was Chacham IsaacBernays(1792-1849). He was almost overlookedby Scholem in connection with Kabbala in Germany perhaps because Scholem considered his writings as that of many "German authors who occupied themselves in their German literaryactivity with kabbalisticmotifs withoutbeing a Kabbalist in the true sense of the word."4 He was no doubt one of the greatestminds of his time. Laterin his life he was describedas being exceptional for his unusual knowledge of talmudic and rabbinic learningand for being a charismaticspeaker. He had a wide knowledgeof languages,both living and dead, and was well versed in the philosophersand poets of all ages. He possessed an encyclopedicmind. In the eulogypublishedin Der Orient5ChachamBerays is describedas a meteor, an extraor2 The yeshiva existed until his death in 1822. See G. Scholem "Die letzte Kabbalisten in Deutschland, in Studien zur judischer Mystik, Judaica III, Frankfurt/M,1973, p. 233. 3 See the biographical introductionto ToreZahav,Mainz, 1875, writtenby his grandson,ShmuelBondi, especiallyp. 14. Scheuerdid not want to take part in sending young Jews to the French army which meant that he would be instrumentalin their desecrationof Jewishlaws. 4 See G. Scholem, "Die letzten Kabbalistenin Deutschland"pp. 223 and 227. He is brieflymentionedby Scholem in comparisonwith Hirschfeld"Ein in YL BI, VII p. 249. Verschollener jidischer Mystiker" 5 Der OrientNo. 50 (1849), p. 218, writtenby Moses Mendelsohn.See also Sulamith,Year 7, Vol. 2 (1826), p. 156.




dinary phenomenon among orthodox Jews and a scientist by nature.It also states that Bernayshad remained,throughouthis life, faithfulto the philosophyof Schelling,the Talmud,Biblical Exegesisand the Kabbala.He was known for his broad-mindedness, for consideringproblems in comparative mythology and religion, and for seeking solutions to the question of religious spiritualityin the world. Our intention here is to describe the kabbalistic views of ChachamBernays,but since he publishedno books and the two treatises of Der Bibel'scheOrientwere published anonymously, we must firstconsider the debate among scholarsas to whether Bernaysactuallywrote these two treatises.Our firsttask is to try and solve the question regarding the authorship of the Bibel'scheOrient,and then to describethe natureof its historiosophy, before coming to our centraltheme: the place of Kabbala in his work. B. Bernaysand the Bibel'sche Orient Bernays' education went through various stages. Initially, in Mainz, he studied the Talmud in the manner then accepted in the yeshivot, first with Rabbi Hayim Zevi Berliner and later, most likely with RabbiHerz Scheuer.Yet Scheuer'spietism was not what Bernayssought since Scheuerwas not open to reading and studying the writingsof secularauthors. The decisive stage of Bernays' education was in Wurzburg where he arrived in 1816 at the age of twenty-four.He was an outstanding student at the yeshiva and became friendly with Rabbi Jacob Ettlingerwho remained one of his closest friends throughout his life. Ettlinger became the rabbi of Altona. Bernays received his rabbinicalordination from Rabbi Bing.6 In contrast to Rabbi Scheuer and Rabbi Wolf Hamburg of Furth, Bing was not opposed to secularstudies.7He allowed his
6 Duckesz "Zur Biographiedes ChachamIsaak Bernays"in Jahrbuchder Jidischen Literarischen 5, Frankfurt/M,1907, p. 298. Gesellschaft, 7 Wolf Hamburgbelieved that the Messiahwould come in 1840. He was a friendof the kabbalist,RabbiHerzScheuerof Mainz,the authorof ToreZahav;




yeshiva students to combine Talmud with university learning8 which subsequentlybecame an accepted practice among German Jewry. At the University of Wurzburgwhere he studied classical philology and oriental languages,Bernaysattended the lectures of Johann Jakob Wagner and Arnold Kanne who were great scholars in mythology and followers of Schelling. In 1817 in the Bernayspublisheda review of Gesenius'Handworterbuch Neue TheologischeAnnalen.9It is surprisingthat D. Ludwig Wachler of Breslau, the editor of the journal, was ready to publish a review of a Jew of Wurzburg attacking Wilhelm Gesenius and criticizing many of the fundamental views of a celebratedscholar of Christianbiblical studies and a professor of theology at the important Prussian Friedrich University of Halle. It could be that Bernayswas supportedby his teachersat the University of Wurzburg, yet his criticism which is based on vast Jewish and general learningwas bold and expressed deep Jewish pride.
his book Alon Bakhut, a eulogy on the Mishnah related to Scheuer'sdeath, expressesbitter complaintsagainstmodernism. 8 On Bernays' education, see Cahnman (note 1, above), p. 7. There is of Bernays,also studied at the evidence that EliezerBergman,a contemporary Be'harYeraeh, Jerusalem,1975, Universityof Wurzburg (see EliezerBergman, Yehosef Schwarz,the p. 24). This was also the case with the ethnographer, author of TevuothHa'aretz, who studied both in the yeshiva and at the Ha'aretzby E. Shiller, universityaround 1822 (see the Introductionto Tevuoth Jerusalem,1979, p. 1). 9 This article was only recently brought to the attention of scholars by S.Z. Leiman,whom I wish to thankfor bringingit to my attention.The review was published by Ludwig Wachlerin Breslau, who was the editor, and was in Vol. I. pp. 180-195 and printedby the Hermannbookstoreof Frankfurt/M The full name of the review is "Neues was signed:Isaac Bernaysin Wurzburg. uber das alte Testamentmit Einschluss hebraisch-deutsches Handworterbuch des biblischen Chaldismus.Ein Auszug aus dem grosserenWerke in vielen Artikelndesselbenumgearbeitet vornehmlichfur Schulenvon Wilhelm Gesenius, Doctor u. ord. Professorder Theologieaus der k. PreussischenFriedrichs Universitatzu Halle. Leipzig, 1815."




Bernays'interest was to defend the Massoretictext, a matter 1 He which recurslaterin the Bibel'scheOrient. rejectsthe facile attempts at emendation which appeared to him as resulting from a lack of knowledgeor lack of respectfor the Massora.He criticized Gesenius for being ready to exclude any extraordinary or difficultgrammaticalforms as errorsor as the result of Arabic influence. Bernaysdefended the ancient Hebrew grammarians and specificallythe Massora, and questioned whether Gesenius had consulted ancient manuscriptsof the Bible in his studies. He was disturbedby the fact that Gesenius had allowed himself to list forms which he believed to have extraordinary punctuation as mistakes. Bernays considered that Gesenius' aim was to undercut the foundation upon which the ancient Jewish grammarianshad built. A few years later, in 1819, Bernayswent to Munich where he joined the house of the Bavarian Court agents, Jacob and Salomon Hirsch1 as cantor, tutor and secretary.During this period Bernays received a half-year furlough from them to enable him to attend the lectures of Schelling and Jacobi in Munich. Once again, rabbinicalpermissionwas grantedfor this by Rabbi Bing.The desire to studythe roots of paganetymology within ancient Hebrew and the great interest in the Hebrew languagewas connected with the romanticbelief that it was the source of all other languages,a position which Schelling advocated. In Munich Bernaysalso formed a friendshipwith the theologian J.A. von Kalb and an intimate relationship developed between them. Bernayswas a youngJewish studentwithout any social standing and thirsty for knowledge, whereas Kalb was much older, a professor in a gymnasium, and an enlightened
10See Bibel'scheOrient 47 on the Massoraand on the modern II, grammarians since Spinoza (B.O. II, 63ff) where it mentions Schultens, Michaelis, Eichhorn,De Wette, and Gesenius. l On the Hirschof Gereuthfamily,see JosephPrijs,Die Familie Hirschaus Gereuth,Munich, 1931.




person who knew Hebrewand wanted to improve mankind.He was a Catholictheologianwho had turnedProtestant,expressed good will towards the Jews, and had a very low opinion of Catholic clericalism.Kalb publisheda free translationof Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise with an Introduction and Notes.12The book was confiscatedby the police because of its attack on the Pope and Catholicism. Kalb's Introduction and Notes to that work are of greatimportancesince they reveal his spiritualworldand his line of thinkingat the time he befriended Bernays. The fact that Kalb was asked to recommend Bernaysfor his was a highly unusual matter. rabbinic position in Hamburg13 Kalb's letter of recommendationwhich has been preservedis a very revealing document. It describes Bernays' arrival in Munich and also his zest and spiritual powers which made an enormous impression upon Kalb. He reports that their first conversation lasted for five hours after which they became intimate friends. They realized that they sharedmany common areas of interest. Kalb relates in that document the important fact that "We met for four to five hours daily over a period of half a year."14 Kalb praises Bernaysnot only as a sage but as a human being, and expresses appreciationof his good character.He was told that Bernays was a noted Talmud scholar and thoroughly familiar with all periods of Jewish literature."ThoughI am a Christian theologian" he writes in his letter of recommendation, "I can also judge Jewish theology."15 Kalb admired Bernays not only as a masterof Jewishknowledgebut for his ability to relate it to world history and world politics to an extent that
von Spinoza, Freye Abhandlunaen Dr. J.A. Kalb, Theologisch-Politische und mit Anmerkungen begleitet,Munich, 1826. Ubersetzung 13 For Kalb'srecommendation,see E. Duckesz (note 6, above), p. 298. See in Zeitschrift also Hans I. Bach, "DerBibel'scheOrientund sein Verfasser" far Vol. 7 (1937), pp. 26ff. derJuden in Deutschland, Geschichte
14 Duckesz, p. 300. 15 Duckesz, ibid.




Kalb had rarelyfound among Christiansavants, to say nothing of Jewish ones. In his Introductionto Spinoza,Kalb alludedto Bernayswhen he wrote: "one of the greatestJewish masters (as evidenced by the position which he holds today) told me three years ago [this was written in 1823] when I explainedto him a certainpoint in the New Testament:look (the Talmud was in front of us) for a long time I have noticed that here the Talmud chatters (schwazt),yet how or why it does so I can only now realise;thus each party seeks to hide the truth from itself and from the other."16 This description by Kalb explains the type of relationship that existed between them. The two appear to have been discussing parallels between the Talmud and the New Testament and had both texts laid out side-by-side before them. Bernaysprobablyshowed Kalb parallelsof the New Testament in the Talmud.While Kalb, as an enlightenedChristian,wanted to understand the Jewish sources of Christianity, Bernays is described as being sceptical, thinkingthat every side interprets things for itself in its own way and hides the truth. At the end of September 1820 Der Bibel'sche Orient: A Journalin Irregularly AppearingIssues appearedanonymously of Munich and bearing the date Fleischmann published by 1821. It was composed of two thin pamphlets, together numbering 130 pages. Attached to the first pamphlet one reads: "First announcement May 1820." Three or four pamphlets were planned, but on account of obstacles only two appeared. The prefacewas written in Munich. Twice by mistake, the date of the pamphlet reads: 1812.17 Hans Bach, who consideredDer Bibel'scheOrientas a major work of the early 19th century, wrote a detailed study on the authorship of the Bibel'sche Orient and a biography of I.

Kalb, Spinoza,p. xxi.

Bach, p. 14.




Bernay's son, Jacob Bernays,'8who was one of the greatest scholars of the 19th century. Bach thought that because of its pompous style and difficultlanguagethe Bibel'scheOrientwas It was never translatedinto any not attractive to the public.19 other language,nor did it appear in any additional edition; it was left in obscurity. The question is, why was that brilliant work so ill received. It was read by scholars,but it was certainly not a book for the generalpublic. Another reason for the lack of wider interest in this publication might have been the result of the double message reflected in different parts of the book. At times one thinks that the authoris most likely Kalbwho considersJudaismas an outsider and lays stresson mattersthat are significantfor an enlightened Christian,and at times it appearsas though the message of the book is Jewish and expressesmost likely the spirit of Bernays. The controversyover its authorshipbegan in 1821 when the work was published. Some thought it was Kalb's and others thought it was Bernays', and there were scholars who made other suggestionssuch as Wolf Heidenheim. All these opinions, many of which were based on personalimpressionsand not on historical evidence, were reviewed by Hans Bach in his erudite Orientund sein Verfasser".20 articleon Bernays:"DerBibel'sche It seems that the most important historical proof on which one can rely is from Bernays' teacher at the University of Johann Jacob Wagner,who taught BernaysmytholWiirzburg, ogy and philology and who was close in spirit to the subject treated in the Bibel'sche Orient, and who therefore had a personal interest in discovering the identity of its author. Wagner was also acquainted with the other potential author, von Kalb. Immediately upon receiving the Bibel'sche Orient from a friend in Munich, Wagnertried to find out who wrote
18 See Bach'sarticle

(note 13 above) and his book JacobBernays,Tubingen,

19 Bach, p. 16. 20 Bach, pp. 26ff.




this work. Wagner had a high opinion of Bernays from the time that he was his student and he quotes an interpretation of his in relation to Hebrew grammar as well as midrashic interpretation of it in one of his books.21 In a letter dated April 10, 182122 written after receiving the Bibel'sche Orient, Wagner states that he considers Bernays to be the author of that work. He thought that it must have been written by a Jew because of its inner Jewish interest.23However, the friend who sent him the book from Munich notified him that the book was not written by Bernays. Two weeks later, on April 25, 1821, Wagner wrote that after further inquiries he found out that Kalb was the author, but that he was certain that there had been considerable collaboration between Kalb and Bernays. There were etymological references in the Bibel'sche Orient that Wagner had heard from Bernays and other ideas such as that Moses was more important than Christ which had been mentioned in a letter sent to him by Kalb in response to Wagner's criticism of his recent book. Wagner thought that Kalb approved of the connection between the religion of Moses and Christianity. Wagner's assumption that this work was composed in collaboration between these two authors seems to

See J.J. Wagner,Religion Wissenschaft Kunst und Staat in ihrengegenbetrachtet, seitigen Verhaeltnissen Erlangen,1819. Wagnerspeaksof a Jewish scholar,B. who studied Ancient History with him and to whom he is grateful for severalinterpretations of the religionof Moses and the Talmud.He quotes an interpretationby Berays on Numbers 12:6-7 where the prophecy of Moses is called "mar'eh" and that of the other prophetscalled "mar'ah". The first is in the masculineform and the second in the feminine, alludingto the fact that the prophecy of Moses was active and that of the other prophets passive. 22 J.J. und Briefe,Ulm, 1849, pp. 295ff. Wagner,Lebensnachrichten 23 to Wagnerfound "ananti-Christian anger"in the book, perhapsreferring the Bibel'scheOrientII, p. 43 wherethe Christianadorationof Jesusappearsto the authoras pagan.





me to be based on historical evidence and linguistic proof.24 I think that the etymology, mythology and internal Jewish aspects were the contributionof Bernayswhile the philosophy of history, Paul, the anti-halakhicspirit and the extremeuniversalism must have been that of Kalb. Since Bernayssaid that he did not write the Bibel'scheOrientbut did not deny having any connection with it, it would be fair to assume that the actual writing was done by Kalb. The book is probablythe outcome of the conversationsheld when Bernays and Kalb were both interested in comparative religion and which led to their collaboration. When asked whether he was the author of that work Bernays neither confirmednor denied it, probablybecause he was only a collaborator. The fact that the Bibel'scheOrientappeareda few months after the period when Bernaysand Kalb met 4-5 hoursdaily for half a year is very significant. Certain parts of the Bibel'sche Orientfit in with what we know about Bernays.The book was written at a time when Jews generally had no permission to reside in Munich and study there, so that it would be hard to ascribe it to a third person. The book also reflects Bernays' extraordinaryerudition in ancient languages,mythology, Talmud, medieval literatureand Kabbala.It is inconceivablethat a non-Jew would be concernedwith internalJewish matters and speak about "our Friedlander" in allusion to the recently founded Jewish Reform Movement.25 The ideas which Bernaysand Kalb agreeupon are as follows: 1) Biblical ethical monotheism is important for the whole of mankind. 2) The way to recognizebiblical ethical monotheism is not through dogma or reason but by a romantic mythicphilological approach. 3) Major emphasis is laid on spiritualization and internalization,and in this way the book recognizes
24 This conclusionwas also reachedby ProfessorMordechaiBreuer,perhaps for reasonsother than mine. We discussed the Bibel'scheOrienta numberof times and I wish to thank him. 25 Bibel'scheOrient 22. II,




the importance of Philo and the Kabbala. 4) There is an appreciation of both religions - Judaism and Christianity. 5) Both authors appreciated Kabbala because of their own inward inclinations. There is both a Jewish as well as a ChristianKabbala.But it would be difficultto assume that Bernays,who had studied at yeshivot (especially under Abraham Bing, a disciple of the kabbalistrabbi Nathan Adler, and under Herz Scheuer)would quote Kabbala from Christian sources such as Buxdorf and and also mention the Martinists, the French FreeReuchlin26 masons.27It is easier to assume that Kalb knew the Kabbala from Christian sources and that Bernays had added Jewish It is most likely that authorssuch as Nahmanidesand the like.28 Christian Kabbala expressed Kalb's line of thought while an appreciation of Yehuda Halevi and Nahmanides expressed Bernays'.Onecannotfind a consistentapproachin the book.The book proposes theories which are close to Christianity and others which are close to Judaism. To begin with the latter, there are certain attacks on the Reformists as de-spiritualized esthetes, followers of "the elegant pupil of the philosophy of
Leibniz and Wolff [alluding to Mendelssohn] ... ashamed of

their own past, preferringto jump gallantlyover the outdated

boundaries of the law, like foundlings of the present ... rather

than to listen to what God has done" (according to Num.


One also finds the opinion that Judaism is the atlas of the world carryingthe whole of world history.30 This idea is close to what one finds in the Kuzari and to the idea developed by modern Jewish liberalmovements that advocate the mission of Israeland the blessingsof being dispersed.There are sections of this work in which one finds an appreciationfor the Talmud,
26 27 28 29 30

Bibel'scheOrientII, 61. Bibel'scheOrientII, 46. Bibel'scheOrientII, 45, 54. Bibel'scheOrientII, 54-55. Bibel'scheOrientI, 65.




Yet one the Commandmentsand an opposition to dogmas.31 also finds parts of the Bibel'sche Orient which are alien to Judaismand are voiced as thoughfrom an outsider'sviewpoint. There is a denial of the divine origin of Halakha and an expression of the idea that "the beginning of the Oral Law was not by the the decision of God who dwells between the Cheru32This sentencecould have been bim but by human resolution." an expressionof a free thinker,but since it is taken from a long section which favors Christianity,it most likely reflectsKalb's

In orderto gain furthersupportfor my position I shallhave to describe some of the opinions found in the Bibel'scheOrient.33 According to those sections, during the period of the Second Commonwealth there were two types of Jews - those who followed the Halakha and were national-minded, and those who tended towards symbolism and were universalists. The firstare relatedto the Land of Israel,the Aramaiclanguageand the development of Judaism in Babylon, while the second are related to mysteries and spiritualization of Hellenism and Egypt. In contrastwith Jewish tradition which attributesthe founding of the OralLaw to Ezrathe Scribewho is seen as the link in the chain between prophecy and rabbinism, one finds in the Bibel'sche Orient a negation of Ezra, the Magna Ecclesia (the Great Synagogue), the Pharisees and the Aramaic language. There is an appreciationfor the period of the First Temple and the claim that after its destructionand the loss of the Urimand Thumim as well as other concrete symbols of the ancient religion, there remained nothing for the Jewish people except the Torah which they no longer understood. It is as though the author of the Bibel'sche Orientwishes to separatethe Jews of the Second Commonwealthfrom the more
31 32 33

Bibel'scheOrientII, 48. Bibel'scheOrientII, 4. Bibel'scheOrientII, 3-33. Particularly




ancient people of Israel. The former are even called the "Aramaic" people for whom the Torah of Moses had become an empty, dead letter. Out of the need to inspire the soul of the people, their leadersstrengthenedreligiousworship.The author criticizes the Magna Ecclesia for adding knots to the ancient rope of love which had led the people of Israelout of Egyptand broughtthem to the land of Canaan.Those knots which could no longerbe unravelledwere all of human invention. Ezraand his successors had invented many laws which were solely of nationalistic importance. They introduced regulations which they preachedevery Sabbathbefore the people and numerous novelties were superimposed upon the original body of religious beliefs. They led the people away from the truth and devised many restrictions so as to prevent any external influence on them to accept a symbolic approachto religion. The author dwells on these two directions:34 the first is the ancient, universal spirit which breezes out from the Garden of Eden and which appearsas the source of Christianity;and the other is the spirit of Judaism which is connected with the Aramaic languageand Babylon. The people were told by their preachers that if they neglected the Commandments, their country would be destroyed as indeed happened when Jerusalem was conqueredby Pompey.35 It seems that despite the very enlightened approach of the author, the dichotomy between spirit and matter, between universalism and nationalism, which is so prevalent in Christian interpretationis becoming dominant here. As an exampleof that approachI quote the Bibel'scheOrient: "Inlearnedminds, the knowledgeof the Idea [of God] would, of course, finally weaken the religiosity of these acts which have symbolic significanceonly on the national level. Inner spiritual awareness would win precedence over legalistic observance. For pious natures, on the other hand, which had a need for
34 Bibel'scheOrient 8. II, 35 Bibel'scheOrient 11.





external religious life, this spiritualization of practical observance had such a strongeffectthat they beganbroodingover the most scrupulousdetails of the commandmentsand kept strictly
to them." 36

The author values internal spirituality over national commandments. He does not seem to think that the Commandments endow the Jew with anythingbeyond a national religion which is interestedin ensuringthe survivalof the Jewishpeople in their own land. He sees no cosmic dimension to Judaism, and portraysthe dichotomy that exists between the religion of acts concerned with nationalism, legalism, external forms and that of pure spirituality. In these sections of the Bibel'sche Orient there is no appreciation for the Commandments. The author neverthelessadmits that the God of Israelis the God of Christianity, the God who became a cosmic idea which is of universal importancefor the whole world. Jewish critics who wrote about the Bibel'scheOrientdid not dwell on such problems. Hans Bach even compared the book with parallel passages by Kalb in his Introduction and Notes to Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise,37judaized the Bibel'sche Orient and concluded that this was the work of a "yeshiva student" which showed national Jewish pride. He believed that the author accepted the Halakha, that he was a mystic and a free thinker, but defines him nevertheless as "a conservative Jew."38 IsaakHeinemann,an ardentfollowerof the Breslauhistorical school which believed in a dynamic approach to Judaism, closely followed Bach's line of thought and quotes one note in which Bernays speaks of the dynamic internalizationof Judaism.39Heinemann assumed that the book expresseda national

Bibel'scheOrientII, 27.

37 Bach, p. 29.

Bach, pp. 15 and 45. Heinemannquotes the Bibel'scheOrientII, 49 and the Note on that page. See IsaacHeinemann,"TheRelationbetweenS.R. Hirschand his teacherIsaac Bernays"[in Hebrew]Zion 16 (1951), 57.





Jewish approach, although he admits that the book transmits contradictory messages by praising both narrow nationalism and universalism.As a greatadmirerofYehuda Halevi, Heinemann applauds the nationalistic views which he found in the book, the love for the Hebrew language and the dynamic approachto Halakhawhich brings it close to his own historical school of thought.He does this in spite of the fact that the book and that the author envisions an age speaks of Rabbi Paulus40 when Halakha will be spiritualized and universal. In that section of the Bibel'scheOrientJesus is called "thefree thinker"
Freysinningen who tried to "shake up and unsettle the

spirit of the people which had become rigid in its praxis."41 The approachof Bach and Heinemann appeat to be problematic in claiming that the Bibel'sche Orient is "doubtless a Jewish book" although Bach himself admits that the author trespasses beyond the limitations of Judaism by making it so extremely universal, referringto the phrase which speaks of "the universalblend of mankind in ideal ways."42 Heinemann, in his very learned approach,admits that there are many internal contradictions in that work43 and believed that there were two opposing trends in the book for which no conclusive resolution could be found. He also admits that the comparison made by the author between the persecution of Spinoza by the Jews and the sufferingof Christcould hardlybe found to have any parallelin the writings of an orthodox Jew. Although Heinemann's point of departurewas Wagnerand Kanne whom he had read carefully as preparation for his
40 42

Bibel'scheOrientII, 32ff.

41 Bibel'scheOrientII, 31.

Bibel'scheOrientII, 46. In his articlein Zion, pp. 75-56 (see note 39 above) Heinemannspeaksof an "internalrevelationof the Shekhina"a term which I could not find in the Bibel'scheOrient.Heinemannconsidersthe work of Bernaysas obscure.The harshlanguageof the authorused in referenceto the EcclesiaMagnasurprises him and he resolvesthis by the fact that the authorattacksMaimonidesas well. Heinemannalso findsit difficultthat the authorappreciates Kabbalamorethan Halakha.See the Bibel'scheOrientII, 48.




research on the subject, he saw that the Bibel'sche Orientwas very differentfrom the opinion of those learnedprofessorsfrom Wirzburg. Heinemann did not consider Kalb as a serious alternativeand did not quote him. Thereforehe did not realize that Kalb had an approachto Christianitywhich was similar to that of the Bibel'sche Orient. Nor did he mention that there were sections in the book which were based on the New Testament, on the Pauline division between the letter and the spirit of the law quoted from the Epistleto the Romans 2:29, or the division between Adam in flesh and Adam in spirit from Romans 5:14. Accordingto the Bibel'scheOrientPaul saw that the spirit of the Pharisees had penetrateddeep into the soul of the people, and that they believed in a political Messiah who would renew He therefore did two things: he encourageda the sacrifices.44 small groupof Jews to separatethemselvesfrom the nation, and he showed them the universal meaning of Christ'smartyrdom. And so by the death of "thatMan"which was bound to the law, and by his ascension to Heaven, the Man of the spirit was born. Paul thereforedenied the letter and preferredthe spirit. Apparentlythe story of the meeting between Moses, Elijah and Jesus on a lofty mountain was one which Kalb liked. It appears in the Bibel'sche Orientas well as in Kalb's Introduction and Notes to Spinoza. This story is repeatedseveral times In the Bibel'sche Orientall three are in the New Testament.45 a term which may express Protestant tencalled "reformers," dencies (the same term is also applied in the book to Abraham) and here he refersto "the legend of Christwho spoke to Moses In his book on Spinoza, Kalb and Elijah on Mount Tabor."46
Since it is assumedtoday that Paul died in Rome in 62 C.E., severalyears before the destructionof the Temple and the cessation of the sacrifices,the author'ssuggestionhere has no historicalfoundation. 45 See Mark9:1-12 and its parallelsin Matthew 17:1-13 and Luke 9:39. 46 In the New Testamentthe name of the mountainis not mentioned,but it makes its appearancein the later commentatorssuch as Eusebius. See John Jerusalem,1977, p. 173. Wilkinson,JerusalemPilgrimsbeforethe Crusades,




quotes that story and speaks of the consultation of Christwith Elijah and Moses, his transfigurationand the three figures becoming one.47 The hardest question of all is why did the Bibel'sche Orient use the title "Rabbi Paulus" presenting Paul as one of the Jewish sages?And why did it claim that Paul's teachingsto the world were Jewish teachings?This is a matterwhich experts in Christianitysuch as David Flusser finds as unique in Christian literatureand appearto be an originalidea of the author.48 One of the proofs that Kalb was indeed the author of the Bibel'sche Orientis the fact that one finds in his Notes to Spinoza the term "Rabbi Paulus."49 It seems no less problematic that Christ is called the "freethinker"as thoughhe were a liberal,an attribute which was most likely well received in the period of the Emancipation and the Enlightenment. Both titles, rabbi for Paul and free thinker for Jesus, are quite extraordinary. The Bibel'sche Orient recognizes two ways to God: the Christianand the Jewish.50 Paul wished "to denigratethe Jews and to unify a small groupof Esseneswith the paganworld."It is conceivable that the interpretation developed by the Bibel'scheOrientimplying that Rabbi Paulus had found a way in the Talmud to free the world of Halakha originates from an interpretationgiven to Moses Mendelssohn's response to Lavater51 which was very famous in those years. As we know, the Talmud distinguishesbetween the Jews and the Pious among the Nations, althoughboth have a share in the world to come. Moses Mendelssohn, the famous Jewish philosopher of the
Compare Bibel'sche Orient II, p. 39 and Kalb, Spinoza, Introduction, p. xviii and p. 369. 48 I wish to thank ProfessorDavid Flusserfor readingthe Bibel'scheOrient and takingan interestin my work. 49 Kalb, Spinoza,p. 262. 50Bibel'scheOrient II, p. 34. 51 Moses Mendelssohn,"Letterto Lavater"in M. Mendelssohn,Jerusalem and OtherJewish Writings,trans. by A. Jospe, New York, 1969, p. 117 and Notes 46-47.




Enlightenment, uses those rabbinical thoughts to distinguish between Judaism and the naturaluniversal religion which can be attainedthroughreasonand which is based upon monotheistic ethics identified with the seven Noachide laws. Accordingto Mendelssohn, both the Jews and the followers of natural religion have a share in the world to come, but the Jews are still obligedto keep the Covenantof Sinai, the revealed legislation incorporatingthe 613 laws, while the Pious of the Nations are obliged to keep merely those seven Noachide laws. Christianityis, accordingto Mendelssohn,not to be considered a rational,naturalreligion, but is a lower type of religionbased upon myth. In the Bibel'scheOrientPaul thinks that those who cannot do otherwise should keep the Commandments,but that the Pious among the Nations should keep the Noachide laws and will receive their share in the world to come. The Bibel'scheOrient quotes the Talmud (San. 71a) and proposes a theory very similarto that of Mendelssohn,only that here the Christiansare the pious ones who keep the Noachide laws! Kalb, in his Notes on Spinoza, thinks that the Christians should keep a purifiedreligion.The Bibel'scheOrientrefersthe very same quotationsthat Mendelssohncites and adds another saying of the Talmud that the Mosaic Commandments will undergo a metamorphosis and "the commandments shall be abrogatedin the time to come."52 One finds in both the Bibel'sche Orientand in Kalb's Notes on Spinoza a desire to change the Halakhaand make it universal. There is sympathy towards the Halakha which the author sees as assuming the form of the seven Noachide laws. And

'Mitzvot btelotle'atidlavo',Bibel'scheOrientII, p. 31 and in Talmud,Nida 6 la; the meaningin the context of the Talmud is that the dead are free of the commandments.The sayingis quoted in the name of the Amora Rabbi Yosef (320-375 C.E.). See W.D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, Cambridge,1966, vol. I, p. 181.


[19] Halakha.s3



it appearsas though this new law comes to replace the Jewish In his Notes on Spinoza, Kalb speaks of the hope of a covenant between Jews and Christians.Accordingto him, the Jews should not give up the Talmud but merely the casuistic style, the pilpul. Judaismshould preserveHalakhain its pure form.54 At the end of the Bibel'sche Orientthere is a section which considers a certain unity between Moses and Jesus." Here it states that the principleof the Law "whichfirstappearedin the burningbush had then to reveal itself to the whole of mankind by recognizingthe value of brotherlylove. This was exemplified throughthis people out of whom that Man had come to prepare the way for the world-wide rule of divine providence." It all began in pre-historical times, in Adam Kadmon, and this beginning also included world ideas and etymology. Paganism was expelled and new meaning was given to words "for the salvation of mankind that has to restore itself in the One who
shines clearly." 56

The idea that Christ universalizes Jewish law as the eternal and necessarytruth, removing it from its national sphere and offeringit to all mankind, is the centraltheme of the Bibel'sche Orientand of Kalb's line of thought.57 In his Introduction58 Kalb discusses the necessary relation between Judaism and Christianity:"Judaismand Christianity are relatedto each other."He appreciatesthe fact that Spinoza considered Christianity somewhat higher than Judaism and wrote that "one has to feel the high reputation of Christ as Spinoza did." Kalb warns us against a misunderstandingof
53 Bibel'scheOrientII, 31-33 and Kalb, Spinoza,p. 262. 54 Kalb, Spinoza,pp. 108 and 369.

Bibel'scheOrientII, 62, 64. Bibel'scheOrientII, 67-68. 57 Kalb, Spinoza, pp. 93-97 which finds its echo in the Bibel'scheOrient II, 31. 58 Kalb, Spinoza,p. 00.





Judaism for being one-sided and taking Christianity as being absolute, or vice versa. In the Bibel'sche Orient Spinoza is highly regardedbecause "he upset Christian philosophy and dogma with his real God."59 Spinoza "showed that the Bible was the national writingsof a people whose point of view was revelationand free research and science." And he concludes that "the scientific
influence of Spinoza ... together with Jewish persecution pro-

vides a good parallelto religiouspopularactivity and to the fate 60 of Christ." To sum up: We assume that Kalb is most likely the author and that Bernaysassisted him. That assumption is founded on the following facts: 1) The resemblancebetween Kalb's Notes in his book on Spinoza and what is to be found in the Bibel'sche Orient.Parallelscan be seen in the ideas presented,in philological matters as well as in the understanding of Christianity. 2) The Bibel'sche Orient contains material which could only have been written by a person who was close to Christianity.It contains quotations from the New Testament and develops a dichotomy between universalismand nationalism. As we shall see further on, the philosophy of history is in certain aspects close to Kalb's outlook ratherthan to a typical Jewish outlook. 3) We know for a fact that in 1819 Kalb and Bernaysmet daily for a period of six months and spent 4-5 hours a day together. 4) This theory is consistent with the evidence of Wagnerwho was very close to them in time, place and mentality. 5) There are parts which Kalb could not have written without Bernays, such as on philological matters, since Kalb was no expert on etymology. It is also conceivable that the attitude towards the Reform Movement, the "Friedlaenders"and also a certain admiration for the Jewish religion and the rejection of Christianity as paganism come from Bernays.61
59Bibel'scheOrientII, 61. Bibel'scheOrientII, 64. Christianityfollowedpaganismby adoringJesusas divine. See Bibel'sche OrientII, 43.
61 60




On the other hand it is clear that in the Bibel'scheOrientone does not find a Christologicalattitude. It does not consider the old covenant as superfluousand that one can reach salvation only throughChrist. Christianityis in certain ways considered superiorto Judaism,and spiritualizationis of centralvalue. But Christplays no centralrole. The two religionsare consideredto be on the same level with each other. Halakhais not dismissed. From the Christian point of view Kalb was an enlightened person and he places his emphasis on monotheism more than on Christ. All this can be found in Spinoza and can be connected with Kalb's extraordinary Christianoutlook. One finds no bitter debate against Halakha, nor against circumcision; the latter is simply not mentioned. There is no theory that the Covenant with the Jews was superfluousand that the salvationby Christcomes to replaceit. Spiritualization is consideredpreferableto Halakha,but Halakhais also important and retains its place beside it. So that from the Christian point of view the book must be considered as enlightened,and even too tolerant because it emphasizes pure monotheism and not Christ. We have here an unusual case for a dialogue which occurs in the history of ideas time and again when a Jew works together with a Christianon problems of comparativereligion whether in terms of Hebrew grammar,or Talmud and the New Testament, of Jewish and ChristianKabbala.Bernayswas prepared for it. From his article on Gesenius we can see his familiarity with world literatureas well as with Hebrewgrammar.Yet how readyhe was to conduct a dialogueon Halakha,chosenness,the origin of the Jewishpeople, the role of Christianity,nationalism and universalism,we do not know. In 1821 Bernays'yearsof wanderingwere over. Once and for all he left his Christianteachersand friendswhetherin Munich or Wurzburgand returnedto his native Jewish community in Mainz and to his old widowed mother. He had no clear idea as to what he would do in the future. It is possible that Bernays returnedto Mainz in order to cease his intensive contacts with




all his Christian friends. Most likely it was no longer easy for him to continue maintaining such friendships. Bernays was received in Mainz with honor and was considered a great scholar.He was fortunatethat after a few months he received a call to take up the most prestigious position as Chief Rabbi of the Hamburg community, the largest Jewish community in Germany, and was to retain this position for the rest of his life. He married and had sons and daughters. One of his sons, Jacob, became, as mentioned above, one of the greatestclassical scholarsof the nineteenth century;another son, Michael, converted to Christianityand broke off from the family. A third son, Berman, became a merchant in Vienna and had a daughterwho married Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis.And so the cycle comes to an end. The study of myth and religion by the grandfatherwas to be continued by the great genius who marriedthe granddaughter, Martha Bernays. The appointment to the Rabbinate was grantedthroughthe recommendationof Rabbi BaruchOzer and J.L. Riesser, head of the Jewish community of Hamburg.They were interested in Bernays as a rabbi because he was a great genius, a universitytrained rabbi,and becausein those yearsthe Orthodoxcommunity of Hamburg had encountered difficulties with the newly developed Reform Movement. The latter had gained strength, established a Temple, and published a prayerbook. The Hamburg community leaders were justified in their appointment of Bernays because through him, the Reform Movement in Hamburg weakened. It is not improbable that they had read Der Bibel'scheOrientsuperficiallybefore issuing their invitation to Bernays,since the book appearedat the end and the negotiationswere finalizedonly on of September182062 1821.63 16, They had invited Bernays because he was July known for his general line of thinking, his rejection of the
Bach, p. 14. 63 Duckesz, p. 304. 62




Reform Movement, and his assertion that religion ought to be based on deeds and not on beliefs. ChachamBernays(he preferredthe title Chachamto that of Rabbi) was one of the rabbis who preached in German. He generally favored grammatical exegesis of texts more than and he loved to teach the Kuzari.He even deliveringsermons,64 hoped to receive a position at a Jewish universitythat was then being planned.65 The year in which ChachamBernaysarrivedin Hamburgwas the one in which Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), one of the most famous of orthodox rabbis, celebratedhis bar mitzvah. A close relationshipdeveloped between them, and Hirsch had a high appreciation for his mentor. In the last of his Nineteen LettersHirsch alludesto Bernaysin writing:"onlyone 66 It is not star guided me somewhat in the beginning." unlikely that Hirsch, who also read a great deal in German philosophy and literature,was acquainted with the Bibel'sche Orient and saw it as Bernays'early view which he later "completelyovercame."67

64 A famous sayingof Bernayswas "No grammar,no Adon Olam,"He was more of a teacher than a speaker and taught texts such as Yehuda Halevi's Kuzari and the Psalms. See Hans Bach, "IsaakBernays"in Monatsschrift fur Geschichteund Wissenschaft des Judentum,1939, p. 537. 65 Bach,Jacob Bernays,p. 25. 66 S.R. Hirsch, Nineteen Letters, trans. B. Drachman, New York, 1969, p. 134. 67 See S.R. Hirsch, Jubilaeumnummer des Israelit, 1908, p. 28; Raphael Breuer,Unterseinem Banner,Frankfurt/M,1900, p. 215. See also S.R. Hirsch in Jeschurun vol. 14 (1867-68) p. 133, "Der sel. Bernays,dem Hr. Kirchheim ohne Weiteres den bibl. Orient zuschreibt,hat sich nie als Verfasserdieser Schriftbekannt... War er der Verfasserdieser Schrift,so war diese Verirrung fur ihn ein vollig Uber wundenerStandpunkt,als er den Kreis meiner Vaterstadt betrat." In R. Breuer p. 220, "Weder der Philologe Jakob, noch der getaufte Michael [the two sons of Bernays]strahlen uns treu das Bild ihres Vaters vieder. So wenig wie der biblischer Orient den der Vater vervarf, aehnlichwie spaeterdie Mutterden Sohn (von ihrem Sterbelager) verstiess."




Isaak Heinemann68points to many parallels between the Bibel'sche Orient and Hirsch's unique romantic line of thought both in his writings and in his exegesis, a subject I intend to elaborate on elsewhere. The striking similarities between the Bibel'scheOrientand the thought of Hirsch is not necessarily the outcome of the reading and re-readingof this book. It could equally be possible that Hirsch had heard many of those themes in Bernays'sermons or classes which he most likely attended. The similarities between Hirsch and Berays appear especially conspicuous when we compare Bernays'thought as we know it from the Bibel'sche Orient with Hirsch's first published book, The Nineteen Letters (1836). The similarities are as follows: a) In the return to the Bible as the source for Jewish universalismand layinga greatemphasison it. b) In the attempt to construct a historiosophy on the stories of Adam, Abraham and Moses whose personalities even have similar characteristics. c) In considering the dispersion of the Jews among the nations as being of universal importance and in recognizing that Jewish life in the diaspora had a mission for world history. d) In the rejection of fundamentalism and an admirationfor spiritualityand symbolism,a theme which plays a strongpart in Hirsch's other writings.Hirsch quotes Bernays twice in his interpretationto the Pentateuch.69 There are, of course, also important differencesbetween the two, in their attitudes to Kabbala. Whereas Bernays drew his inward, spiritual understanding of the world from Kabbala, He Hirsch mostly excluded the Kabbala from his work.69a of and he have no divine that could secrets, knowledge thought in this sense he was more a follower of the Enlightenment.
69 See The PentateuchTranslatedand Explainedby S.R. Hirschtrans.from the Germanby Isaac Levy, London, 1958-1962: Genesis 4:26 and Numbers 20:8. 69aThere is evidence of Hirsch'searly interest in Kabbala,a subject I will elaborateelsewhere.
68 See Heinemann'sabove-mentionedarticlein Zion, 1951.




Nevertheless, the great talents of Bernaysand the numerous years they were togetherin Hamburgmake it possible to assume that the thoughts which Hirsch derived from Bernays must have helped him in developing a philosophy which was to have such a great influence upon German Orthodoxy. The famous historian, Heinrich Graetz, stated that he had heard from a reliable source that Bernays denied being the author of the Bibel'scheOrienteven though it followed his line of thinking.70 Graetz' opinion leaves room for the suggestion that Kalb was the writerof the manuscriptand that it includes material of both. Isaac Bernays' career is strikingly similar to that of his beloved son, Jacob Bernays, the great classical scholar who lived in Bonn and Breslau and who observed the Halakha although he lived among non-Jewish scholars and was a free thinker.71 Jacob was asked to convert so as to receive a position at the university, but refused that temptation. His difficulties with the Christianswere differentfrom those of his father. It is known that spirituallythe son was extremelyclose to his father and that upon his father'sdeath he wrote Schellingthat he felt as though the very root of his being had been taken away.72 ChachamIsaac Berays was also open to critical approaches. He was a romantic pioneer in Jewish philological research, a man with an extremely wide scope of knowledge, mystical beliefs and deep appreciation for the spiritual significance of

70 HeinrichGraetz,Geschichte derJuden,Leipzig, 1870, Vol. 5, pp. 389 and 391.

71 See Bach, Jacob Bernays and E.E. Urbach, "Jacob Bernays and his Influenceon the Science of Judaism"[in Hebrew] Tarbis,1982 p. 108. Jacob Bernayswas offereda position in Bonn providedhe converted,but he refused. Bernays had a very pessimistic outlook regardingChristianityand antisemitism. Urbachalso shows (p. 120) that when JacobBernayswas in Beslauat the Seminary,he studied kabbalisticmanuscripts. 72 Hans Bach, "Berays und Schelling,eine unbekannteTagesbuchaufzeichnung"in Zeitschrift fur Religions und Geistesgeschichte XXV, 4 (1973), 340.




ritual. Common moulds will not fit this extraordinary, imaginative, lonely scholar. Heinrich Heine, who attended his sermons in 1823 wrote to Moser that "he is a charlatan understood by none of the Jews."73 Steinheim thought he was an anti-liberalreformerand was disturbedby Berays' opposition to the idea of revelation.74 Graetz thought that he had one foot in Rabbinic Judaism and the other out of it. Moser thought that the author of the Bibel'sche Orient preached "rabbinics" without being convinced by it. The author of the Bibel'sche Orient shows very little of the Talmudic backgroundthat Bernays acquired in the yeshivot. Instead, it primarilymakesuse of the philosophyand linguistics studied at the universities, to which we shall now turn. C. The Philosophyof History At the opening of the book, the readeris requestedto listen to the Bible, not in the terms in which Luther saw it, as the national writings of simple-minded shepherds, shrewd priests and despotic kings, but to see the essential spirit of the book as sacred scripture.The Bible appears in its purity, without any intellectual verbiage, presents its meaning for world history, and voices its "fire sounds" (Feuerlauten)as an expression of the book aims to the human soul. In the spirit of Herder75 understandthe Bible in terms of myth and to evaluate events from the point of view of psychology,presentingthe Bible as a mythical source for the religion of the world. This universalopening could have been an announcementby a non-Jewishtheologian. It could be related to the trend of the
ed. F. Hirt, 1. 243. See also Bach'sarticle(note 13 H. Heine, Briefwechsel, above), p. 36. 74 Bach, ibid. See also S.L. Steinheimin AllgemeineZeitungdes Judentums, 15, dated April 19th, 1842, p. 220. 75 The author greatly admires J.G. Herder's Vom Geist der hebraeischen Poesie.




Deists, or the Hebraistsof Englandand France,which took hold in the Germany of Reimarus and Semler. However, in the continuation to the opening, the book addresses itself specifically to the Jews. The author appears to be convinced of the urgency of this task76because of the recent internal conflicts resulting from the actions of the city councillor, Mr. Friedlaender, one of the importantand extreme reformistsof Berlin. The book is subject to the influence of the Haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment movement, leaving the Talmud behind and turningto classical antiquity, to the Bible. But the method which it applies to the Bible is not one of aesthetic simplicity but the spirituality,philology and etymology of the romantics. In tryingto understandthe spiritof the ancient Jewishpeople, it penetrates into the layers of its language and its connections with neighboring languages and myths. Ancient national history becomes the history of the Hebrew language. Whereasthe Enlightenmentand the Reform Movement had a negative attitude towards myth, and constructed Jewish monotheism on the basis of reason, the Bibel'sche Orient advocates ethical monotheism which it had reachedthroughits It quotes biblical verses which development from paganroots.77 show how the developmentof the Jewishpeople beganwith idol worship, derived from an Amorite fatherand a Hittite mother. It shows the origins of ancient Israel emergingout of its pagan neighbors.It quotes Ezekiel 16:3:"Thineorigin and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan;the Amorite was thy father and thy mother was a Hittite."It also quotes Joshua 24:2: "Yourfathers dwelt on the other side of the river in the days of yore, even Terah, the fatherof Abrahamand the fatherof Nahor, and they served other gods." Three biblical personalities interest the author particularly: Adam, Abraham and Moses. He sees the numerous stories in Genesis as variations on one theme: the weakness of human76


Bibel'scheOrientI, 6. Bibel'scheOrientI, 24-25.




kind. Adam was createdin the image of his Father,but "he was expelled from his house" as a consequence of his earthlybody and "the Fall of the spirit into sensuality."78The theme of ethical disobedience and divine punishment recursin the story of Cain, the Tower of Babylon, the Nephilim i.e. the Fallen Spirits, and the Flood. These stories are the mythical origins of the world. Mankindremembersthe ideal beginning,but there is a decline and a sinking into matter and desire. Within man there is both a yearningtowardsthe divine and a desire to yield to physical temptations. The author compares the Bible with the mythology of other nations and shows the superiorityof the biblical stories in its ethical message. God warns the evildoer and then fulfils His The stories are considered warning.He intervenes personally.79 as "dramaswhich describe the entry of mankind into history, and are authenticated,concrete monuments of the emergence of mankind from the original intimacy with God (Urnahe)." These dramasmust be the foundation of any religion. "And in this universal manner"the author continues, "everyreligion is broughtback to its central idea."80 After the first monotheistic stage, idol-worship spread and rebellious tendencies became stronger.Paganism is viewed as the worshippingof partialpowersas thoughthey were independent deities. The original Deity was altered and distorted. Abrahamis described as a reformerwho established monotheism, and the association of this with Luthercomes to mind. Monotheism is not reached by divine revelation but through Abraham'srecognitionof God. In the descriptionof his personality, the universal characteristicsare emphasized and not his being the father of the Jewish people or his being circumcised, or his receivingas promise of the Land.The God of Abrahamis

78 79 80

Bibel'scheOrientI, 18. Bibel'scheOrientI, 19.





called "the One" a term which indicates a Neoplatonic or Spinozist conception that can be found throughoutthe book. The Bibel'sche Orient shows great interest in mythical stories81and suggests that Melchizedek, the priest of El Elyon, combined the gods of heaven and earth into a single unified God, and this view has nowadaysbeen in some sense substantiated througha study of the texts written by Philo of Byblos.82 But the Bibel'scheOrientstill considersthe God of Melchizedek to be inferior to the One of Abraham. In order to strengthenmonotheism, Abraham demanded a trimming of the branchesof the tree of life which were growing in wild abandon.83Developing a midrash in the spirit of Yehuda Halevi's Kuzari, the book considers Abrahamas having returnedto the Hebrewlanguageand alludesto the fact that God spoke to Adam in Hebrew, the source of all languages which were later confused duringthe constructionof the Tower of Babel.84 Abrahamproclaimed the monotheistic faith, as it says "He called in the name of the Lord."85He also acquiredthe epithet "just"(Zaddik)because he clung to the ONE in all his struggles against fate. 86as a shepherdfamily The author describes "Abrahamism" which had a stronglyrooted opposition to all forms of excess in cultic ritual. However, this seems to contradict the biblical description in which Abrahamis said to be "veryrich in cattle, silver and gold" (Gen. 13:2). The author is perhaps under the influence of Psalm 23 when he writes that Abraham'sfamily "lookedupon the OriginalIdea (the Uridee)as upon the eternal
Bibel'scheOrientI, 26. in Hebrew]underthe Mikra'it[BiblicalEncyclopedia See the Encylopedia entry "el Elyon"in Vol. I, pp. 289-291. Philo of Byblos speaksof a Canaanite god of a universalnature. god called "elyon"which was a pre-Israelite 83 Bibel'scheOrient 21. I, 84 Yehuda Halevi, The Kuzari,II, 68.
81 82

85 Genesis 12:8.

Bibel'scheOrientI, 34.




shepherd of mankind." It kept its eyes away from majestic splendor and believed firmly in God's protection. The distinguishingfeatureof Abrahamis that, unlike Adam, he withstood temptation, and unlike Adam, he did not fail God's test of obedience to the divine will. The reason that Abraham was considered righteous was because he did not believe in fate, in the idols, but in divine providence. Even during the most difficultmoments of his life he believed in "ElOlam"the EverlastingGod.87 He surrendered himself in such a way to the ONE that he was completely unconcernedabout the course which God's promises would be realized, however incomprehensibleit might seem; he would "alwayswait quietly and faithfully"for their fulfilment. With the verse "Andhe believed in the Lord;and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6),Bernaysconnects Emet and Emunah and Amen with the eschatological prophecy of Isaiah (65:16-17) "so that he who blesseth himself with earth
shall swear by the God of truth (Amen) ... because the former troubles are forgotten ... I create a new heaven and a new

earth."88This verse speaksof the final Kingdom of Heaven and alludes to the final stage as Amen. In the Ethiopianlanguage,as the Bibel'scheOrientnotes, Ammon is the ideal god, the spirit that personifiesexistence and truth. The Bibel'scheOrientalso develops the etymology of the name Abraham from the Aramaic "bram"which means truth, and reminds the readerthat Brahmain Sanskritmeans the creatinggod. In the Bibel'sche Orient attention is paid to the names of many a biblical hero such as Noah and others who are usually conceived as metaphors and their meaning is connected with the biblical story and used to interpretit. Here the influenceof Philo may be mentioned. This kind of interpretation was popular in that period in Germany and was also partially invented by Bernays.

Bibel'scheOrientI, 21; Genesis 21:29. Bibel'scheOrientI, 22.




The descriptiongiven in the Bibel'scheOrientof Abrahamis of a universalmonotheist and not, as noted above, the firstJew. The author also rejectsthe Pauline interpretation.Abrahamis as it were above both Judaism and Christianity.In relation to the verse "Andhe believed in God" the Bibel'scheOrientargues against the New Testament where Paul relates his notion of pistis with the faith of Abraham. The Bibel'sche Orient says: "Paul went back to this 'naked' pre-Mosaic period and he baptized this principle in his dogmatic theological writings as
pistis." 89

The weakness of Abrahamis found in the binding of Isaac. The author of the Bibel'sche Orient considers that this story shows that Abraham,despite his belief in the One, was close to paganism.The "sacrificeof Isaac"was only a minimal achievement for Abraham,and all he gained from it was "the fear of God" (Gen. 22:12).90In criticizing that story, the Bibel'sche Orientclaims that such an idea could not have been developed by the later prophets.They would not have "attachedbelief to a vision that requiresan idolatrous sacrificeof a human being." The Bibel'sche Orientdescribes the personality of Moses as an antithesis to Abraham.Abrahamrecognized the ONE as a universal, cosmic idea, a universal faith with no need for commandments or for a land, whereas Moses recognized the need of a Torah and land in which the people should live. One of the most important innovations of Moses was the understanding of the importanceof worshippingGod in fixed forms, and for this reason Moses was called "the servant of God." One might discern here the influence of Christianity or of Spinoza's Theological-PoliticalTreatise in the description of Moses. Abraham is the ideal spiritual person who has no connection with cult, whereas Moses founded a national reliThe Bibel'sche gion based on symbolic acts and cultic ritual.91


Epistleto the Romans 4:3; Bibel'scheOrientI, 22. Bibel'scheOrientI, 24. Bibel'scheOrientI, 38.




Orient stresses the difference of those two attitudes: "it then becomes clearthat man acts only throughand in God. And this is so because the creator of the world is now the redeemer of Israel."92 The positive attitude towards Moses is surprising,and was consideredas extraordinary by Wagner,as mentioned above. In the Bibel'scheOrientthe inner belief is often stressed as something spiritual and in certain aspects is not connected with practical cult, yet on the other hand there is an understanding for Moses and his positive attitude to the Commandments which educate and keep the people within a framework of moral propriety. According to the Bibel'sche Orient Moses conceived that reform after the Israelites had worshipped the Golden Calf (Exod. 32:1). Moses recognizedthat inner belief was no longer sufficient. In that story the people asked Aaron: "Make us an Elohim who can walk before us." The Bibel'sche Orient pays attention to the plural yelkhu - they should walk.93They wanted a representationof leadershipin a visible and popular form, and so Aaron proclaimedthe Feast of Apis, the Egyptian bull-god, as the feast of the Lord (Apis is not mentioned in the Scriptures). Moses wished to halt the idolatry;as a pragmatisthe decided to reduce the idea of a cosmic, eternal world and historical conceptions about the origins of mankind to didactic forms accordingto the needs of that nation. He introducedreformsin order to rescue the people. The Commandments helped to educate the people and develop their national consciousness. Moses gave them a land, a languageand a cult, and his task was continued by the judges in a later period. The gatheringat Mount Sinai is described in the Bibel'sche Orientas the coming down of "TheHighest and Holy One ... in
92 Bibel'scheOrientI, 37. 93 Exodus 32:1;Bibel'scheOrientI, 36.



169 The

His chariot of clouds to the sandhill of matter."94This is

explained as "the self-objectivation of the divinity..."

ONE became objective throughthe sounds and the words. The intention was to form the cosmic into a national cult and to expel idol worship.Moses did not eliminate the languageof the it was retainedwhile the worshipwas modified idol worshipper; and reformed,and was given a new meaning. On the other hand, one of the most important ideas of the book is the recognitionof ethical monotheism and a very strong tendency towardsuniversalism.It is very possible that this was a motif that unified both authors, and these motifs are in agreementwith the greatly admired Spinoza who is also mentioned in Berays' review of Gesenius95 and the generaltrend of the Enlightenment.The motto of the Bibel'scheOrientis taken from Isaiah 26:9 which reads:"Forwhen Thyjudgementsare in the earth, the inhabitantsof the world learn righteousness." However, in the Bibel'sche Orient one also finds a different tendency expressed by an extreme universalism and which appears as a tendency towards Christianity. The Bibel'sche Orientclaims that the religionof Moses degeneratedand failed; it did not achieve what it had hoped to achieve. People tended towardsluxuryand admiredthe idols of neighboringcountries. The author, who was very interested in ancient paganism, its customs and its influence on the Jewish people, links what is said in the Pentateuchto the life of the Jews in Egyptmore than a thousand years later, pointing out that in the time of Jeremiah, after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews in Egypt worshippedidols (Jer. 44:17-18). The way of the Torah is insufficient, according to the Bibel'sche Orient.The Pentateuch itself had reached the conclusion that the achievement of the Torahwas limited and did not have sufficientanswersto all the problemsthat the people might face. The Bibel'sche Orient finds a solution to this in the


Bibel'scheOrientI, 58. Spinoza'swork on the Hebrewlanguageis quoted on p. 186.




Pentateuchitself: the recognitionof a dialecticalhistoryleading towards universalism and spiritualism. Clues to this can be found in the words of Balaam, and a rabbinic saying that "Balaam was greater than Moses" is quoted.96The author explains that at first Balaam was a magician, but then realized that spiritual, rational power was in the hands of a divine providence which had universal prevalence. "Moses could not lift himself above nationality; Balaam, however, could." "Balaam felt the universal power in the present and saw its absolute reign at the end of time."97 At the end of his life, Moses also realizes in despair that sin was lurking at those open doors and he says "this people will rise up and go astrayafter the foreign gods of the land" (Deut. 31:16). Yet Balaam foresaw the destruction of the Temple on the level of world history while Moses, in the author'sopinion, Moses ex"foresawthe future spiritualizationof mankind."98 pected that the power of Judaism would eventually become universal. The extreme universalismof the Bibel'scheOrienthas hardly any comparison in Judaism. It appears as though universal monotheism is by far the most important contribution of Moses. "This Idea shall spiritualizehistory, and lead the whole of mankind to its divine goal."99For the author of the Bibelsche Orienteven the prophets, and even the Son of David, appear too limited, too national-minded. Nevertheless,the Bibel'scheOrientofferedthe idea that Israel is the atlas of world history and bears the spiritual and ethical responsibilityfor the world. DiasporaJews thus have a mission to fulfil in carryingmonotheistic belief among the nations.10?
See the Bibel'scheOrientI, 61 on the verse in Deuteronomy34:10:"And there hath not risen a prophetsince in Israellike unto Moses."The Sifreadds: "Amongthe Nations one did rise and who is he? Balaamthe son of Beor." 97 Bibel'scheOrientI, 60-61. 98 Bibel'scheOrientI, 63. 99 Bibel'scheOrientI, 64. '0 Bibel'scheOrientI, 65.




D. Kabbalaand its Sourcesin Egypt: Parallels betweenKabbalaand Indian Culture The thesis that the source of the Torah is in Egypt is found today in theories held by black Americans who wish to relate Moses and monotheism to Egypt, or to indicate its origins in black culture. In the Bibel'sche Orientone finds a differentidealization of Egyptianculture in the period of the Second Temple, and it is seen as the source of Jewish wisdom in the Land of Israel. The cosmic and universal in Essene culture stems from Egypt and this was the source for Christianity. The author develops a prevalent idea that Christianity has its primary sources in Hellenism. The Egyptianmysteriesare particularlyadmiredby the author of the Bibel'scheOrient;it is not only the source for the Essenes and John the Baptist, but even for the Pharisees who representedthe dominant form of Judaism in the Second Temple period.101 This view expresses the desire to deny Judaism its proper place in the historical development of Christianity,as though the latter had its foundation solely in Greek culture. In the Bibel'sche Orient, Greek-Hellenistic culture is highly appreciated, and its spiritualism is closely related to the author's outlook. Philo, the Septuagint,and symbolicinterpretationsare admired. This attitude may have had its sources in Herder or Schiller who saw Moses as the product of Egyptian culture. Or it resultedfrom the worksof the Deists of the 18th century'02 who were liberal and Hebraist, yet who expressed antisemitic ideas and claimed that the main body of the Israelite religion stemmed from Egypt.Such ideas can be found in the writingsof John Spencer,John Toland, Shaftesbury,and others.
II, 17, 24ff. S. Ettinger,"Judaism and Jews in the eyes of the Deists in Englandin the 18th century"[in Hebrew], ModernAnti-Semitism.Studies and Essays, Tel Aviv, 1978, pp. 87-88.

101 Bibel'scheOrient




The Deists provided, to a certain extent, the continuation of ancient antisemitic literaturesuch as Tacitus or Apion.103 Alwere on other Deists the though they enlightened subjects, betrayed their prejudice when it came to the Jewish question. Ettinger also shows that their influence in England lasted for some fifty years,and that this patternof thoughtwas later taken over by French scholars; it can be found in the writings of Voltaire, and then was transmittedto Germany. In the Bibel'sche Orient this idea has by no means any antisemitic character,yet it suggests that the wisdom of the Jews in the Land of Israelis inferiorto that which can be found in the Egyptof Ptolemy. Accordingto this book, all three sects
the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes learned their

wisdom in Egypt. The Sadducees were influenced by Greek secular culture which existed in Egypt, while the Essenes and the Pharisees who produced the Kabbala and the Talmud, found their sources in the Egyptianmysteries.'04 This same idea, that Egyptian symbolism, mysticism and universalism are the source for Judaism and Christianity, is also to be found in the writings of the famous Renaissance scholar,GiordanoBruno.105He, too, praisesEgyptiancultureas the source of monotheism and other wisdom literature.Ptolemaic culture is central both for Bruno and for the Bibel'sche Orient because it expresses popular religion, magic and Neoplatonism. These as well as the Pythagoreanorder influenced the JewishTherapeuticswho are describedby Philo as a Jewish orderliving in the desertand who were of centralimportanceto the author of this book. In his imagination and desire to reduce the originalityof the Jewish people, the authorof the Bibel'scheOrientgoes one step
Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, 2 vols., Jerusalem,1978. o04 Bibel'scheOrientII, 24. o10See Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, London, 1954, pp. 224, 271, 274.
103 M.




further.In his view, Egyptwas not only the sourceof Ptolemaic culturein the Second Temple period, but was also the source of ancient Jewish wisdom. To propose such an idea that Jewish monotheism stems from Egypt,106 the author does not quote but that the ancient Ikhnaton, suggests Egyptianspossessed a secret knowledge of monotheism but kept it hidden until the time came for its revelation in the Ptolemaic period and the appearanceof the earlyNeoplatonists when their secretbecame widely known. Moses, however,had receivedthat wisdom from Egyptin an earlierperiod, gave it national form, and publicized it immediately in his own generation. Both the Bibel'scheOrientand Sigmund Freud more than a centurylater, agreeon the thesis that Jewishmonotheismhas its roots in Egypt.The claim here is that an idea of such high value did not come from the Jews. The parallelbetweenthe Bibel'sche Orientascribedto Bernays,and Moses and Monotheismwritten is remarkby Freud who had marriedBernays'granddaughter, able. It is quite possible that Freud knew something about the Bibel'sche Orientwhich had often caused difficultiesfor Isaac Bernays whenever he raised his voice against the Reform Movement. One must rememberthat scholars such as Zunz and Geiger ascribed the Bibel'sche Orient to Bernays.107 Bernays himself neither nor silent, kept denying confirmingit, but it was like a cloud over his life. Jacob Bernays, the son of Chacham Isaac

106 Bibel'scheOrientII, 25.

107 L. Zunz as editor of des Judentum,added an fur Wissenschaft Zeitschrift editorial note to the review of the Bibel'scheOrientby Moses Moser (Vol. I, 1822, p. 117), saying that the Bibel'scheOrientwas most likely the work of Berays. Moser'sreviewis criticalof the Bibel'scheOrientand is the responseof the reformiststo its attack on them. A. Geiger spoke up against Bernaysin relation to the Tempelstreit in 1842, and was astonishedthat a man who held such views as those expressedin the Bibel'scheOrientcomes out against the ReformMovement.See A. Geiger,DerHamburger eine Zeitfrage, Tempelstreit, 1842, pp. 5-12.




Bernaysand uncle to Marthaand Freud,believed it was not the work of his father.'08 Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the book is written in the spirit of Isaac Bernays. It was Isaac Bernays who was interested in languages, in comparative religion, in myth and in ancient cultures. It could very well have been that the enormous linguistic talents and interests of the father roused his son Jacob to study classical philology and become interested in primitive religions. And it is quite plausible that the themes of the Bibel'sche Orient were discussed by Freud and Jacob Bernays. One of the early books written by Freud was Totem and Taboo which deals with ancient religions, and he founded his psychoanalysis on the Oedipus myth. In his book, Moses and Monotheism, Freud claimed that Moses learned monotheism from the Egyptiansand taughtit to the Israelites.For Freud,the pattern of the Oedipus myth in which the son wishes to kill his father, was a central one for his psychoanalyticaltheories, and he thereforeclaimed that the people of Israel eventually killed Moses their leader. One may well ask how Freud would have reacted to the Bibel'sche Orient, whether he would have received it with appreciation or have rejected it on the basis of those same Oedipal tendencies which were so significant for him. No doubt the Bibel'scheOrientoffereda differentinterpretation of the Torah from that of Freud. In its view, Moses wished to give the Jews a national religionand cult, but the people were too weak and they lapsed into idolatry. The attempt made by Moses had failed, and in the end one must seek universalism and a monotheistic ethics for the whole world. Yet this ethical humanism of Kalb and Bernaysremained obscure and did not achieve wide circulation. Freud's claim, on the other hand, became known to the generalpublic and generateda great deal


See Bach'sarticle(note 13 above), p. 13.




and of reaction.It was publicized on the eve of the Holocaust109 roused considerable anger and bitterness to both Jews and Christiansof good will. The description of the Essenes in the Bibel'sche Orient is related to that of the Therapeutics.The book suggeststhat the word "therapeutae" means "the one who heals, the magician." In Aramaic, the root "asa",i.e. healing, also means myrtle, a plant. It relates the Greek root of therapeutaewith the Hebrew word "rafa"and "terafim" and says that "Antiquityconsidered every human healing as mastering nature."10 The cures are sometimes deified and sometimes outlawed, and thereforeone also has in Hebrew the word "eretz refaim" the region of the rephaim,a place of exile which later came to mean the kingdom of the dead. The Bibel'scheOrientcomparesthe life of the Essenesto that of the Pythagoreanswho lived in groups and led a contemplative life. The Therapeutics stressed the spirit more than the letter of the law, and tended, like Philo, to symbolic interpretations which the authorof the book found extremelyinteresting. As mentioned earlier, the author claims that the Pharisees and Halakhaderive their sourcesfrom Egyptianmysteries.The historical connection is made through the visit of the leading Pharisee, Shimon ben Shatach,to Egypt to escape persecution by the Sadducees. The Sadducees are considered inferior to the Essenes. They prefer the letter of the law, the literariness,the external forms; and the Torah for them is a basis for political institution based on temporal values."' They formed the priestly caste which controlled Temple ritual, and were known for their rejectionof the Pharisaicbelief in the future resurrectionof the dead.

109On the Jewish perspective,see the brilliant book by Y.H. Yerushalmi, Freud'sMoses Judaism Terminable and Interminable, New Haven, 1991.
110 Bibel'sche

Orient II, 26. 1 Bibel'scheOrient 24. II,




The author's sympathies are undoubtedly with the Essenes who are appreciated more than the Pharisees, although the latter are not presented in a negative light. The Kabbala is of central importanceto the authorbecause it expressesthe inner, ideal principleof the Halakhaand saves man from the perplexity of halakhic sophistications. It has its source in Essene traditions expressing the internal, ideal essence of the commandment, and servingas its guiding star in the labyrinthof its practical ramifications.12The Essenes were a community of ascetics and pious people who "maintaina divine-humanworld life" which implies that "the righteous man is the pillar of the world." They organized a missionary movement"3 and baptized new members to initiate them into their community of fellowship. On the other hand, the Phariseesdeveloped the spirit as well as the law. Accordingto these sections in the Bibel'scheOrient, religion needs both the letter and the spirit. It expresses an appreciationfor the Talmud which is describedas "an encyclopedic aggregateof all Jewish knowledge." 14The Talmud is not an antithesis to the theories of the Essenes,but is close to them because it also values the spirit. The book even speaks of a Pharisaic-Esseneethics for which the common ideal was the Kabbala. The Talmud demands a belief in the most detailed Mosaic symbolism, and develops guidelines for practicalcivilian and religious life. And here the author is even preparedto say that the Talmud is greatbecause it leads to practicaldeeds. One also finds in those sections the view that the Torah represents both the external and the spiritual. The author presents two approaches to the Torah: that of the Masora of Tiberias with its interest in the text and the preservationof the letters of the Torahin their purestform;and that of the Kabbala which penetratesinto the spirit of the Torah. Both are central

Bibel'sche Orient II, 29. Bibel'sche Orient II, 31. 114 Bibel'sche Orient II, 48.




for the understandingof later Judaism.The Masoraeternalized the Bible in its external form by counting the letters, studying textual problems, while the Kabbala "put a superior meaning into the biblical letter and gave it inferior value as merely the embodiment of the external, geometrical form of an Idea."15 The book appreciatesboth approaches,but prefersthe kabbalistic-spirituallevel of understanding. Bernays' etymological exegesis of words and letters differs considerablyfrom the exegesis of Mendelssohnand scholarsof the Haskalahin Berlin who laid emphasis on esthetics and the literal meaning. The Munich approach stood in open opposition to the rationalapproachof Berlin.The spiritualexegesis of the former was preferablebecause it poured new content into the ancient forms, revealedfresh elements and broughtthe text into contemporaryrelevance. The Bibel'sche Orient, reflecting this spirit of Munich, is unique in showing how a university-trainedJew attacks the Reform Movement, stresses the importance of preservingthe Mitzvot, and sees Kabbalaas the naturaloutgrowthof ancient Judaism which neverthelessappearsto him as having universal importance. This is probably what appealed to the Hamburg community leaders when they appointed him as rabbi. One could claim that there were many themes of interestand Kabbala is only one of the many subjects in the Bibel'sche Orient.Yet it plays a decisive role in the metaphysicaloutlook of the author,it is at the very heartof the book, and is of central importancein evaluatingits spiritualand symbolic dimension. This is to say nothing of the fact that around 1820 one can find very few works in Germanyin which Kabbalaplays an important role. The description of the Kabbala is similar to the line of thought taken by ChristianKabbalistswith an interestin broad metaphysical structures,comprehendingthe whole structural world throughthe Sephirot,the Science of Creationor Ma'aseh
15 Bibel'sche Orient II, 47.




Bereshitand the Science of Divine Holiness or Ma'asehMerkabah. Kabbalais not a national, parochialscience, but of crucial importancefor the understandingof the world. It is, according to the Bibel'sche Orient, a reorganizationof national history into world ideas. The three Patriarchsreceive cosmic meaning, and when the fourth one, David, is added, they symbolize the Divine Chariotthat bears the world. The Bibel'scheOrientsees a relation between the kabbalistic idea of the Merkabah(the chariot) and the Hindu concept of the divine wagon.16 The Bibel'scheOrientstressestime and again the importance of language.Hebrewletters have numericalvalue. The Kabbala sometimes developed systems of numbersas an ideal Organon. Bernays alludes to Gematria, a homiletic interpretationbased on the numerical value of letters. In Hebrew, Bernays claims, every word that is written has a double meaning: an ordinary meaning and a spiritual meaning. The whole Torah could be dissolved into numberswhich symbolicallyrepresentthe divine and in this way he also interpretedthe relationshipswithin the divine. Bernaysquotes the famous saying of Nahmanides that the entire Torah is the name of the Holy God.17 The Bibel'scheOrientfavors the kabbalisticnumerical,spiritual meaning that was developed by many Kabbalists, as for example the GermanJewish Pietists of the 13th century,Hassidei Ashkenaz, or by Abraham Abulafia. It stands, above the historical or legal content of the word. However, time and again, the book expressesa Jewish point of view when stressing that in Judaism, harmony exists between the inner and the outer, therefore Kabbala remained within Judaism. Kabbala internalizedHalakha,and in Judaisma synthesisbetween inner spiritual meaning and the external act of the Mitzvah had always existed. According to Bernays, the word forms the

Bibel'scheOrientII, 43-44. The sourceis Nahmanides'Introductionto the Torah.See the Bibel'sche OrientII, 45.





external world of creation, and the Wisdom of God forms the internal cosmic relations.118 The Bibel'scheOrientstates that Kabbalacould have contributed significantlyto the universalblend of mankind if man had seriously pursued its world systems and actively worked in its application. However, that treasureof the Kabbalawas buried under barbarian rubble. These generalizations probably attempt to explain the fact why Kabbalawas formed in ancient rabbinic times and then disappeared from the scene. It was secretly preservedby both Jews and Christians. The Bibel'sche Orient values both the Martinists as well as ancient Jewish Kabbala. Nahmanides was highly appreciated and is portrayed as one who interpreted Jewish law with a certain amount of freedom in the Essene-Kabbalist spirit. Like Nahman Krochmal,a contemporaryof Bernaysin Galicia, only the earlyKabbalawas appreciated119while the Kabbalaof Isaac Luria in Safed of the 16th century seemed to Bernays as The Bibel'scheOrient decayed and "a pure, ascetic quibble."120 seeks parallelsto the Kabbalain Hindu thought. The idea may not seem so strangein the context of the author's mind which saw Jewish thinking as having global importance.He accepted the traditionalview that the Zohar was written in Palestine in the 2nd century, and in his philological studies of the Bible he assumed that there were culturalconnections between Sanskrit and Hebrew.Thus the possibility of a relationshipbetween the Kabbala and Hinduism appeared to him as quite probable, although it has no historicalbasis.121

19 See the article in Hebrewby Rivka Horwitz, "Goyimve-'elohav, Rabbi Nahman Krochmaland his Jewish Sources"in the Jubilee Volume for Shlomo Pinesfor his 80th Birthday,Vol. I and in MehkereYerushalayim be-Mah.shevet Yisrael,Vol. 7 (1988), pp. 265-287. 120 Bibel'scheOrientII, 54. 121 After interestin this theme was renewed.See I. Guenzig's Schopenhauer, articlein Hebrew"Hafilosophia hahoditve'hakabbala" [HinduPhilosophyand Kabbala]in Ha'eshkolVol. III, 1900, pp. 40-48.

Bibel'sche Orient II, 46.




The attempt by Jewish thinkers to make a synthesis between Judaism and the prevalent, cultural tendencies of their age is well known. It is, however, interesting to note that Schelling and Molitor, the two great Christian thinkers of the early 19th century who were interested in Kabbala, objected to those attempts to find connections between Judaism and Hinduism. The inquiry into Hindu religions was particularly important for the German Romantics searching for the sources of IndoEuropean culture as the origin of their own language and civilization. The interest in Hinduism grew also as a result of the studies in comparative religion. Aside from the work by F. Schlegel, Uber Sprache und Weisheit der Inder (1808), we shall mention an author who is referred to in the Bibel'sche Orient, the important pietist scholar, Johann Arnold Kanne and also A. Wagner, a friend of Bernays' teacher, J. Wagner, who wrote System der indischen Mythe (1813). The Bibel'sche Orient may have been the first work in modern times to compare Kakbala and Hinduism. It was followed by an ingenious young scholar, Meir H. Landauer'22 (who died in 1841 at the age of 33) whose interest in Hinduism was far greater than that of Bernays. In his two books123 Landauer
(1808-1841), was the son of a pious cantor in He was a Talmud student in his youth and later the state of Wurttemberg. became a student of Schellingin Munich and of biblical studies in Tiibingen wherehe was influencedby the criticalapproachto the Bible.In 1838, whenthe wereopened in the MunichHojbibliothek of Jewishmanuscripts greattreasures to the public, he returnedto Munich despite his failing health to study those writings.Yet he also pursuedhis formerinterests,took his rabbinicalexaminaA few months laterhe tion in 1839 and in 1840 became Rabbi of Braunsbach. died. His notes on his findings in the Munich librarydealing with medieval poetry and Kabbala,were publishedposthumouslyby Fiirst in Der Orientin 1845-1846. For a list of the kabbalisticnotes, see G. Scholem'sBibliographica Kabbalistica, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 91-92. 123 Landauer, Jehova und Elohim oder die althebraischeGotteslehreals Grundlageder Geschichte,der Symbolik und der Gesetzgebungder Bucher Mosis, Stuttgartund Augsburg,1836, and Wesen und Form des Pentateuch, Stuttgartund Augsburg,1838.
122Meir Heinrich Landauer




developed his exegesis of the Bible by constructinga symbolic theory which interpretsthree primarynames of God: El Roi, El Shaddai, and El Koneh in accordance with the three Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva - the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer.The selection of the names was based on deeper insight into the text by means of which Landauer interpretedroot etymologies in a symbolic manner. Although Landauer quotes Kabbala from the start, his thoughts on Hinduism are related to the Bible and not seen as parallelto the Kabbala.As a romantic,Landauerdeveloped his own symbolic interpretations.He studied Bible at the university, was well versed in biblical scholarship, including traditional exegesis. In a rather imaginative way, Landauer considered the possibility of a relationship between the biblical stories and Hindu culture.Terah came from India, the story of Adam (the fig tree, the tree of life, the serpent, etc.) have their parallels in Hinduism. Abraham, Sarah, Keturah, Noah, Job, the names of Isaiah's sons, and many other details, also have Hindu parallels.Yet at one point Landauer'sinterest suddenly shifted from symbolic biblical interpretation in terms of a Hindu trilogyand etymologyto Kabbalaproper,and particularWhen writingthe second part of the book, he ly to the Zohar.'24 discusses the trilogies of the Zohar and poses the question as a Jew would:how is it that the Zoharcontains trilogies.He rejects the possibilityof Christianinfluenceand thereforeexplainsit as having been composed in pre-Christiantimes. Needless to say that many of his theories were highly imaginative. The Bibel'scheOrientdevelops its interest in the three Hindu deities, Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva who representthe Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer and draws a parallel between them
For the suddenshift to Kabbalain the middleof the book, see Wesenund Form des Pentateuch,pp. 81-106; on the resemblancebetween the Hindu trinity and the Bible, see althebraische Gotteslehre, pp. 16-25, 29, 35; and on the comparisonof Hinduism with biblical figuresand stories see pp. 47ff and 69ff.




in theKabbala: andthethreemajorSephirot Keter,Yesod,and Malkhut.'25 Shivais alsorelated to Shabbat. Thebookconnects Shivat,the feminineform of the god Shiva, to two Hebrew Shabbat roots, the form of seven, as Shivatand Shabbat. is, accordingto Bernays,an allusionto the cessationof God's emanations intotheworld; it is themomentof rest. overflowing The Bibel'scheOrientalso draws a parallelbetween ten Hindugods and the ten Sephirot. For both, these are divine into the world.Kabbala forcesor emanations and Hinduism also sharethe idea of metempsychosis whichis an attemptto answer the questionof dissolution of life. and renewal In conclusion, one cansee thatwe havebeforeus theattempt of a lonely Jewishscholarto penetrateinto the Jewishpast aided by the methodsof the romanticschool of thoughtin Munich.He was assistedby a Christian friendwho was interaboutthosesources which estedto learnfroma Jewishscholar be hiddenfromhim. wouldotherwise to the way ChrisOne mightcompare that kind of learning tians learnedKabbalafrom Jews, or the discussionsheld in on the sharedfoundationsfor the New earliergenerations Testament,the Talmud and the Midrash.One could also withtheveryserious suchsituations compare studyof Kabbala Josef Franz Molitor scholar, (1779-1860) by thegreatChristian influence.Molitorwas also in who came under Schelling's in Kabbala contactwith Jewswho helpedhim to understand whenhe detail.His storyalsobeginswiththeearly19thcentury who It was Ephraim JosefHirschfeld, joined the Freemasons. to enter kindof Jew,whohelpedMolitor wasa veryexceptional The namesof the othertwo rabbis into the worldof Kabbala. who also helpedhim in his studiesstill remainunknown.'26 of trespassing the danger beyondthe Theymusthave realized was of theirreligionin an agewhenopendialogue borderlines
125 126

Bibel'sche Orient I, 45.

See GershomScholem'sarticle on Molitor in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 12, pp. 227-228.




not yet accepted. And, as in the case of Bernays, they realized the penalty for doing so. It is paradoxical that after the beginning of the Zionist Movement, certain assimilated Jewish scholars of the 20th century, searching for a mythical understanding of Judaism, turned for support to the German Romantics. Scholem and Rosenzweig were not acquainted with the Hebrew language and with Jewish learning in their youth. For them it was Schelling and his school who provided one of the bridges between their world and the ancient Jewish sources of the Kabbala.