The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias.
Hashem said to Moshe, “Write this for a memorial in a book, and recite it in the ears of Yehoshua; for I will completely erase the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Shemos 17:14).
For most of our history, the struggle between the Jewish people and Amalek was seen as an external one, pitting the world’s first (and for many centuries, only) monotheistic nation against one that vehemently and spitefully rejected our core values and beliefs.
Recent history, however, has told a different story. Over the past few centuries, our struggle with Amalek has become increasingly internalized within the psyche of our people, manifesting itself in the form of secularism and antipathy toward religion.
Jewish secularism has taken on a variety of forms. Some Jews have chosen to embrace only the cultural aspects of their heritage, expressing an identity based on shared values and historical experiences, while preserving their strong desire for an unfettered, humanistic lifestyle.
Secular Humanistic Jews understand Judaism as the human-centered history, culture, civilization, ethical values, and shared experience of the Jewish people. For us, the message of Jewish history is that we have the power and the responsibility to take control of our own lives. [Mission statement of the International Federation of Secularist Humanistic Jews]
Others, however, have acted more forcefully in their fight against God and their religious tradition. In his biographical study of Sigmund Freud, Yale historian Peter Gay explained that “it was as a particular kind of atheist, a Jewish atheist [italics mine], that Freud was enabled to make his momentous discoveries” (A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis, Yale University Press, 1989).
Gay’s identification of Freud as a uniquely “Jewish” atheist deserves attention. In what sense might a person’s Jewish heritage impact on his decision to choose a course of non-belief? Further, in what sense does “Jewish” atheism differ from traditional atheism, to the point where it can be credited with somehow impacting Freud in his professional work?
I believe the answer to these questions lies in the fact that no other atheist has more cause to experience such immense inner tension over renouncing his heritage as does one with Jewish lineage. For the Jew, belief in God is normal and expected, the basis of our identity and our unique place in history. To challenge God’s existence is to be at odds with one’s deeper sense of self and our national odyssey.
Freud was not simply a non-believer. He was an aggressive atheist, with, in his own words, an “absolutely negative attitude toward religion, in every form and dilution.” Freud branded religion “an illusion” and made repeated reference to his own lack of faith, as evidenced by his rhetorical question to the Swiss psychoanalyst and pastor Oskar Pfister, “Why did none of the devout create psychoanalysis? Why did one have to wait for a completely Godless Jew?”
Freud posited that it was psychological motives (particularly the feeling of helplessness regarding one’s surroundings) rather than firm spiritual convictions that formed the basis of religious impulses. He saw his mission to “awaken the world from the enchantment in which the magicians and priests had held it imprisoned since pagan antiquity.”
Freud’s anti-Jewish antagonism was so great that in his final work, Moses and Monotheism, published in 1939 on the eve of his death, he suggested that Moshe was not in fact a Jew but an Egyptian prince who rescued the Jews from Egypt and whom they subsequently killed. To Freud, the work was by no means a literary afterthought, an ancillary addendum to his great career. To the contrary – he was thoroughly obsessed with its publication. “Moses will not let go of my imagination. [He] torments me like an unlaid ghost.” (Dual Allegiance: Freud As a Modern Jew, Moshe Gresser, SUNY Press, 1984.)
The fact that Freud grappled with such a topic, and espoused such a twisted theory with no factual basis, is perplexing. Why publish an offensive book that flies in the face of everything sacred to the Jewish people at a time when Nazi militarism had engulfed Germany and Austria and threatened the safety of his Jewish brethren, as well as the peace of the entire European continent? In his final days, Freud was still trying to quell his irrepressible Jewish spirit that yearned to break free and find religious expression. Nobody talks so constantly about God as a person who insists He does not exist. It was an unending struggle, one Freud could never overcome no matter how hard he tried.
About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive and educational coach and consultant and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The only thing disproportionate is the world’s hatred of Israel.
What would Putin do were his country to be faced with constant rocket barrages from over the border?
World leaders proposed a cessation of hostilities; a return to the Nov. 2012 ceasefire agreement.
We hit their missiles in mid-air with computer-guided projectiles invented and built by Jews’ between rounds of rigorous scientific education or yeshiva study.
How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.
There is a major moral distinction that needs to be taken into account when one considers the murders of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frankel and the murder of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir. The difference is that the Palestinian Authority has embraced such mass murderers as heroes and Israel punishes all […]
“a groundbreaking shift toward equitable and efficient treatment of our most vulnerable children”
“After all, we must remember that God isn’t our ‘employee.’ He doesn’t always do as we wish.”
Israelis dodge bullets to become leaders in nearly all fields. Palestinians use aid money to build rocket launchers.
Water: a fluid with life-giving force, a thin liquid even a trickle of which can assure survival. Crops, fields, land, people – we all need water. We need water for growth, for purity, for beauty, for subsistence. What do we do when water sources are depleted? We have learned not to behave like the young […]
Jerusalem: The historic and spiritual capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Immediately end the occupation and declare Israeli sovereignty over the entire Jewish Homeland.
On which planet is Obama living on when making ridiculous pronouncements on the Middle East?
This Is for the Zionists. for a people exiled from their land Time after time after time their crime was their ethnicity and so their history as a people has been filled with blood With blood and with tyranny, as nations and invading armies uprooted them, looted their homes, took away the songs of […]
As a guide to others and a foremost member of the Great Assembly, Ezra provided strong leadership and a moral conscience to a people that had lost its way.
I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.
Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.
Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.
The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.
One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.
Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fighting-amalek-from-within/2011/01/12/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: