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60 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 ROSENZWEIG'S RESPONSE TO HERMANN COHEN'S DE(ffSCHTUM UNDJUDENTUM by Barbara E. Galli Barbara E. Galli is the author of Franz Rosenzweig and ]ebuda Hatevi: Translating, Translations, and Translators (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995), which comprises an English translation of Rosenzweig's 1927 Halevi book, along with commentary. She teaches Religion and the Arts at McGill University, Montreal. The Path to Publication of the Suppressed Critique Although Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) greatly, tenderly, and respectfully a~mired his beloved teacher, Hermann Cohen (1842-1918), perhaps, in a certain way, the precise extent of his respect is less well known, for it is expressed in silence. In this connection, the affirmative decision to prepare this paper was preceded by reflective hesitation. The hesitation hinged on the question: Might the drawing of attention to Rosenzweig's critique of his teacher's position on German culture and Judaism be in effect, on the one hand, a vilification of the respect that Rosenzweig cherished for Cohen, and, on the other, a debasement of my own regard for Rosenzweig? The story of the 70-year path leading up to the eventual publication in full of Rosenzweig's critique itself tells the answer and keeps the intention behind this paper transparent, that both Rosenzweig's respect for Cohen and my regard for Rosenzweig might be preserved. Rosenzweig wrote his critique of Cohen's essay, Deutscbtum und ]udentum (German Culture and Judaism), in the same year when that text Rosenzweig's Response to Cohen 61 first appeared, in 1915,1 that is, three years before Cohen died. After his long career at the University of Marburg (1876-1912), Cohen had moved to Berlin where he then taught at a seminary for liberal rabbis, the / Lehranstaltfur die Wissenschaft desJudentums. Cohen wrote Deutschtum und Judentum during World War I as an open letter to his "fellowbelievers " in America with the purpose of seeking support for the German cause. The essay-letter is 90 pages in length, and is more of a brochure or pamphlet than it is essay or letter. In it Cohen not only tries to prove the union ofJewish peoplehood with German nationhood, he also argues for the superiority of the German Judaism over Polish Judaism, Russian Judaism, American Judaism, British Judaism, and so on. In this article, however, I focus alone on Cohen's main argument, as the title indicates, relating to the union of German culture and Judaism. At Rosenzweig's request, his critique of Cohen's open letter was not published. He was concerned for Cohen's health, but this does not seem to be the only reason for the suppression of publication,2 for neither was it published after Cohen's death in 1918, nor for that matter at all during Rosenzweig's lifetime, even though Cohen's essay was reprinted in the 1924 collection of Cohen's Judische SChriften.3 Rosenzweig's way was certainly not to flinch in his disagreements with other thinkers, be they friends, colleagues, teachers, religious leaders. To the contrary, Rosenzweig consistently pressed his points openly and frankly, following an often sustained reflective period. Prominent and famous examples of those with whom Rosenzweig had much to contend in correspondences include Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Martin Buber, and Rabbi Jacob Rosenheim. 'The full title' of the essay is "Deutschtum und ]udentum, mit grundlegenden Betrachtungen iiber Staat und Internationalismus" (GieBen, 1915). 2For Rosenzweig's reiteration of his request that his critique not be published, see his letter of 1 October 1917 to his close friend and cousin, Gertrud Oppenheim, which, in part, reads: "laR dir mal von Mutter, da du nun sein 'Deutschtum und ]udentum' aus seinem eigenen Munde gehort hast, den kleinen AufSatz von mir dariiber geben, den ich eigentlich damals Buber fUr den ]uden schicken wollte, Anfang 1916; ich lieR es dann bleiben, weil ich fUrchtete es wiirde ihn, auch pseudonym, zu sehr kriinken; nun ist so viel GroBeres und schlieRlich doch weniger Treffendes erschienen, daR es mir nachtraglich leid tut." (In Franz Rosenzweig, Briefe urul Tagebiicher, I. Barul. 1.900-1.918 [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979], Letter 436, p. 456. See also Letter 414, p. 422, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 60-78
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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