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

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship