Gershom Scholem Today. The Current Significance of His Work (Workshop)
10 Feb 2016 · 10.00 am

Middat ha-din and middat ha-rahamim in Scholem’s Poetics. Sources and Implications

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Seminarraum 303
Contact: Gal Hertz, Martin Treml


Second collaborative event held by the ZfL research projects Poetics and Jewish Philosophy. Gershom Scholem Edition  and Language Criticism as a Critique of Morals. The Unclaimed Legacy of Karl Kraus and the Minerva Institute for German History, Tel Aviv University.

10 am: Opening

  • Welcome & Introduction
  • Martin Treml (ZfL): One God Fragmented. Some Remarks on middat ha-din and middat ha- rahamim in Jewish Tradition

10.30 am – 12.30 pm: Sources

  • Menachem Lorberbaum (Tel Aviv): Scholem’s Conception of the Shekhinah
  • Galili Shahar (Tel Aviv): God and Evil/Devil: On the Origins of Din in Sefer ha-Bahir

4 pm: Implications

  • Gal Hertz (ZfL): Unpacking Sabbatianism: Scholem’s Doubles in Agnon’s Knots upon Knots  (Kishrei Ksharim)
  • The Question: Scholem, Din and the Double Irony of Prophecy
    Common Reading and Discussion of Gershom Scholem’s Über Jona und den Begriff der Gerechtigkeit (1917)
    Moderation: Galili Shahar

In his work, Gershom Scholem made use of the rabbinical concept of middat ha-din as God’s Quality of Justice and middat ha-rahamim as his Quality of Mercy. By doing so, he aimed at summoning the religious, philosophic, and poetic concepts of justice and love into a general field, a Schauplatz of human expressions which borders on his great poetic concern: the metaphysics of lamentation and dire, as it can be found in the Hebrew literary genre of the kinah, based on the biblical books of Job and Jonah, which he translated and on which he wrote commentaries during his youth.

The workshop is concerned with both elucidating these traditional concepts of Jewish religious thinking, their conversions within and beyond religious genres and practices, and with their transformation within the context of German Jewish history. Furthermore, their development in Scholem’s work will be discussed: firstly in his poetical and literary writings which are supposed to be a Vorschule, a preparation of his main concern: the study of Jewish mysticism, down to its heterodox expressions such as Sabbatianism, Frankism, and the corresponding reaction to them in Hasidism. Scholem, the historian of religion, thus is closely connected to Scholem, the poet and literary critic. Additionally, we will discuss whether Scholem’s ideas can be (mis-)understood as political statements, and how he has influenced the intellectual content of Zionism up to its current crisis.


Also of interest: 
Tuesday, 9.2.2016, 7 pm
A lecture by Menachem Lorberbaum (Tel Aviv): To Knowingly Sin. Sabbatianism and Hasidism Revisited