The Jewish Jungian Who Believed the Key to Spiritual Revival Lay in Hasidism

Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud’s best-known disciple, stood out among early psychoanalysts because he was one of very few Gentiles. In the 1930s, long after he had broken with his erstwhile mentor, Jung—as Reuven Kruger puts its—came under “a barrage of fire for his views on racial psychology that seemed to imply tacit support, if not outright admiration, for National Socialism.” Yet the German Jewish philosopher Erich Neumann considered Jung “his tsaddik,” and Neumann, in turn, was one of Jung’s favored disciples. Neumann’s two-volume The Roots of Jewish Consciousness, which he declined to publish in his own lifetime, have now been issued in English translation. Kruger writes in his review:

Neumann, who died at age fifty-five in Tel Aviv, [would never] realize his ambition to write a third and final volume, which would diagnose the spiritual crisis of modern Jewry. “Spiritual crisis,” as understood by Neumann, required first and foremost a return to the ethos of Ḥasidism, which Neumann knew largely, though not entirely, from the writings of Martin Buber. Neumann was inspired by Buber’s retelling of ḥasidic stories and his romantic vision of a Jewish cultural renaissance, . . . though, unlike Buber, he had no access to the primary sources and had to rely on the selection of scholars and popularizers like Buber and Samuel Horodetzky.

In a brilliant introduction to the second volume of The Roots of Jewish Consciousness, Moshe Idel describes Neumann’s distinctive approach to reading ḥasidic texts as a Jungian version of Buber’s “this-worldly” approach. Idel notes that already in Ḥasidism itself, “one can discern a propensity to interpret biblical and kabbalistic topics, figures, and values as referring to inner human powers and processes,” which lends itself to Neumann’s call for “an introverted type of Judaism.” Thus, the ubiquitous prince in ḥasidic homilies, who is banished from the royal palace, represents, for Neumann, an alienated ego, assimilated into the surrounding culture, oblivious to any possible connection to the numinous source of being.

In a 1955 interview on his 80th birthday, Jung cryptically said that “the ḥasidic Rabbi Baer from Meseritz, whom they called the Great Maggid,” anticipated his entire psychology. In his introduction, Idel takes Jung to have been pointing to the Maggid’s prescient understanding of interplay between the masculine and the feminine, which Jung undoubtedly learned about from Neumann.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Hasidism, Martin Buber, Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security