David Hartman Part II – Landes on Hartman and the Mutual Responses

I was surprised that no one commented on David Hartman Part I – here. I expected people to come back over the weekend after reading the review. If anyone is interested, the post New Wedding Simplicity went viral and got over 35 facebook posts, without being cross-posted on another blog or JID. It got more hits than a major cross-post. It now gets as many regular hits as half-shabbos. So expect some simple weddings in 2012.
I assume that everyone has read the tikkun articles by now. Go to David Hartman Part I for the links. So now after reading everyone can help me think this through.Let me know the value and innovation of what Hartman said in 1986, so I can evaluate what is new for 2011.

Short version
Landes declares that “My problem with Hartman is that his lovers model is so absolute in and so defined in structure that it ultimately idealizes the divine –human encounter from a frozen embrace.” There is more out there that you are rejecting.
Hartman responds: Look at everything that I am solving. Jews are too magical, too miraculous, too other-worldly, and too irrational- they think God will intervene at any point. They are therefore manic-depressive. They are more Nahmanides than Maimonides. My Living Covenant model solves everything. I have not rejected anything, I just solved everything.

Long Version
Landes on Hartman’s Living Covenant

Landes is in favor of Hartman’s creating a halakhah that accepts some some aspects of modernity such as autonomous moral spirit, human adequacy, commitment to the ethical, universalistic world view, pluralism, and a this worldly focus.

Landes frames the opposition as Satmar who demonized halakhah into a sharp weapon of hate, Rav Kook who spiritualized it into a mystic rite, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz- objectified it into a servant’s blind obedience.

Rav Soloveitchik is indeed the hero who saw the problem was not truth or conflicting truths but the problem that religion as irrelevant in the modern age.

Now a soft critique – Hartman finds Soloveitchik as anti-heroic and self-defeat and in contradiction to a philosophy of victory.

Hartman is correct that morality needs to be national community
And Hartman understands the importance of God as creator who transcends world, and revealer of the law as immanent. Hartman correctly emphasizes creator, God role in history, and Torah.

For Landes worship – tefilah is about submission, dependency, and inadequacy [Sounds like Schleiermacher via Berkovits]

Soft critique – Instead Hartman wants prayer as the intimacy of two lovers & Hartman emphasizes communal liturgy, and fixed times for prayer. Landes complains that Hartman’s version of prayer is a monologue and he does not have the Hirschian elements (Landes would not like Maimonides, Albo, or even other Jewish thinkers like Rav Soloveitchik on prayer.

Landes like that Hartman views the return under Ezra, bait sheni, and the Ten martyrs as showing love for Torah

Hartman’s typology:
Exodus- unilateral divine power and then human responsibility
Sinai — as mutuality through Torah study

Hartman says that Zionism demands this-
Landes’ big critiques-
1] Hartman defines God in a single way and thereby eliminates God’s complex personality His autonomy, and His adequacy.
2] Hartman has an atheistic quality in which we have sole responsibility to make world better- not enough covenantal partner.
3] No criteria for which modern values to accept or critiques.

Hartman Responds (by restating his basic views)
I don’t have a problem with suffering and defeat- just don’t expect God to sort it all out.
I want the God of Maimonides who does not intervene to clean up the problems of life. We live based on our passionate love for God and Torah.
Most in the community are Nachmanideans, in which God is above nature and history and can intervene at any time with miracles and redemption. [AB- so if you want a rational this world Judaism they why all this relationship model and all this covenant talk?- Rather give me a Maimonidean religion.]

Hartman claims that there is religious language of king/subject, master/servant, but I want to develop husband/wife and teacher/student

Yes, Judaism has submission but he wanted to present what would be if there was more human control.

He is not championing modern autonomy but autonomy to grown like in a relationship and in love – autonomy to apply revelation in relationship. He does not want secular humanism but the humanism from reading Torah with self-dignity.

Kierkegaard ‘s suspension of the ethical is not covenantal, not dignity, not victory minded. Suspension of the ethical – numbs moral integrity and destroys a natural sense of fairness. [ab- Rabbis Amital, Wurzburger, and Jonathan sacks said same thing without all this emotional drama ]

Hartman says that Zionism means to create responsible halakhah. [AB- but didn’t Rabbis Herzog, Unterman, Goren said that already and did not need the discussion of relationship or God as a lover?]

Hartman is against anything mystical or Hasidic as Non-covenantal , pantheistic and theocentric Religious consciousness is not a covenantal moment. Mizvot don’t relate to the mystical they are this worldly. [AB- I would have definitely checked out and rejected this in 1986.]
Following Rav Soloveitchik, Halakhic practice cannot be the carrier of religious emotion rather Torah study should be primary.

Hartman correctly notes that Landes would also be against Rav Soloveitchik’s view of prayer as found in essays like Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah. Hartman has nothing against petitionary prayer just prayer that is magical, and other-worldly redemptive and takes away our responsibility for working in the world. Not what God can do for us – but an affirmation of our Sinai commitment He thinks that Landes misreads him if he see a limit on God in his thought, rather he is concern about responsible motives of the one praying

Hartman is in favor of self-sacrifice to keep mizvot, to be shomer Shabbat even if economic loss, to preach Torah to a congregation that does not want to hear. But not for reward in the world to come nor as something forced that one is resentful for doing. One puts on tefillin is love not submission.

Hartman states: God actions do not depend on how I write books but on His infinite wisdom.
Furthermore, Buber and Halevi for whom Judaism is event centered are manic –depressive, since events end.

Landes responds
“My problem with Hartman is that his Lovers model is so absolute in and so defined in structure that it ultimately idealizes the divine –human encounter from a frozen embrace.” He is exclusive in his model. Many other models out there.

Landes is deeply committed to defend prayer as based on typology of dependence like in the Rabbi Saul Berman introduction to the RCA siddur – we learn to pray from different moments of the Avot. Therefore, there are many functions to prayer.

In addition the Lovers model is not a constant. What If one lover is on a self-destructive course then the other one needs to step in to help- it is not always equality.

Using Berkovits terminology, Landes states that hestair panim is temporary not permanent condition of life. [Hartman does not even speak that language of hestair panim]

1986-2011
So why do I need Hartman’s Living Covenant?
Do I need relationship and therapeutic language not to be magical and other worldly?
And did his theology published right before the first Intifada give insight into making a living Zionism?

2 responses to “David Hartman Part II – Landes on Hartman and the Mutual Responses

  1. Hmm. I’m only 40% into the new book, but I don’t see much correlation to the above…

  2. Above is about the 26 year old book, A Living Covenant- not the new book.
    I want to understand his older views before starting the new book.

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