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Enlightenment In Gold

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on one thin thread of enlightenment that runs from Israel Halevy Zamosc, studied by Gad Freudenthal, to Berlin and Jerusalem. Maimon believed that some scientific knowledge is not overtly opposed to religious opinions. The common notion of God in Europe at the time meant, inter alia, a non-material, unworldly, personal entity which nevertheless acts physically in the world. The sin of the Golden Calf traditionally posed a major problem not only to Biblical exegesis but to Jewish thought in general. Moses Mendelssohn explains both the fabrication of the calf and its burning as based on the natural properties of gold. Judaism is least conducive to idolatry not only because it forbids the veneration of images but also because it strictly severs between everything worldly and transient and the transcendent divine Eternal.

Keywords: Gad Freudenthal; Golden Calf; Judaism; Moses Mendelssohn

10.1163/ej.9789004191235.i-490.78
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