Modern Jewish Thought and the Enlightenment
In 1797 Phinehas Elijah Hurwitz, a Jewish mystic who lived from 1765 to 1821, published an obscure book called the Sefer ha-Brit (Book of the Covenant) in Moravia. By its own account the book offers an exegesis on an older work of Jewish mysticism, the Sha ’arei Kedushah (Gates of Holiness), and expounds upon the sciences of the day before then detailing the soul’s preparation for imbibing the Divine Spirit.
David B. Ruderman, the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and the Ella Darivoff Director of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, tackled his own exegesis of Hurwitz’s volume in his German Translatlantic Lecture on March 10, “Mysticism, Science, and Moral Cosmopolitanism in Enlightenment Jewish Thought.” In short, Ruderman aimed to open a window onto the processes of continuity and change in Jewish thinking at the dawn of the modern era: the dialectic between mysticism and science, between Jewish faith and modern philosophy.
Please click here to watch the video of Ruderman's talk.