Rabbis & Philosophers
To the Editor:
. . . Accusing Dr. Kadushin of such things as “denying even the rudiments of philosophic method to the rabbis,” or “reading out of the tradition some of our greatest spirits and impoverishing rabbinic theology beyond recognition,” Marvin Fox [December '64] betrays emotional involvement without giving his readers a sense of the content of Dr. Kadushin’s book. It is, to be sure, regrettable that Dr. Kadushin uses a polemical style of writing, but a review of his work should center on the kernel of genuine insight in his thought and not be caught up in the argumentation.
Dr. Kadushin is contrasting the Greek mode of thought—based on the principle of mutually exclusive categories—with the rabbinic one. The latter can best be pictured if we imagine a series of overlapping circles of colored light on a projection screen. All the colors are always present, but as they move and/or vary in intensity, different patterns will be visible to the human eye. . . . Dr. Kadushin tells us that rabbinic thought is made up of value-concepts which blend in different strengths in different circumstances, as the colored lights on the screen do. In this type of organismic thought, there is no “ultimate” or “absolute”; there are no clear-cut, black and white, mutually exclusive categories. Far from being guilty of “straying into the realm of speculation to develop a theory concerning the peculiar character of rabbinic value-concepts,” Dr. Kadushin is to be commended for the speculative audacity which he has shown in indicating the broad outlines of the non-“systematic,” organismic mode of thought of the rabbis. . . .
(Rabbi) David R. Blumenthal
Larchmont, New York