Mysticism/Psych Course 7: The Situation of Judaism in Modernity

The fifth video of the class* explained how Judaism’s situation and itself changed during the modern period.

  • Cover of The Jewish Century, by Yuri SlezkineBook recommendation: The Jewish Century, by Yuri Slezkine: prominence of Jews in modern Europe, concentration in urban centers.
  • Great success of Jews in the modern period, because of the idea of networks and opening communication is conducive for a scattered community.
  • OTOH: Jews’ situation is precarious, because of the development of modern nation state and intra-Christian conflict.
  • Demographic benefits (for the Jews): rapid increase in the cities, became more prominent.
  • Difference in modern period and pre-modern: more focused; there used to be rural Jewish centers.
  • Closer interaction with Christian world (only 10% lived in Muslim countries)
  • Dominance of mysticism in modernity among other traditions (liturgy, mussar, legal, music…)
  • System of thoughts shift to mysticism and mussar; (intellectual, rational) philosophy goes into decline.

This last bullet-point is the most interesting for me. I never thought of it as decline of rational philosophy. I thought of  Haskalah, Jewish enlightenment, as the prominent Jewish system of through of he modern period. t helped to establish secular Jewish identity and Reform Judaism.  Admittedly, by now, because of the growing Hasidic denominations and declining Reform/Conservative movements you can say that regarding number of adherents mysticism is the largest. But to dismiss Haskalah from the modern period is too big omission.


* This blog entry is part of my series on the “Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought” course I am taking.

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