I recently posted about the new book on Kierkegaard’s antisemitism. To this post I received the following public challenge from Yoram Hazony (used with permission).
Thanks for your column on Kierkegaard. I can’t understand why Kierkegaard is regarded (by Orthodox Jews!) as being theologically relevant to Judaism. As far as I have been able to tell, Kierkegaard views belief as an absurdity: We believe not because it is reasonable, but precisely because it is unreasonable. I’m not familiar with any biblical or talmudic sources that are compatible with this view. On the contrary, classical Jewish belief always involved a view of the Torah as reasonable. I think modern Jews need to ask themselves whether they really think that what we are interested in inculcating in our children is the view that Torah is something absurd. If so, then Kierkegaard is our man. If not, then perhaps we should consider dropping this.
The Shalem Center, Jerusalem
I know that the dozen various major Orthodox proponents of Kierkegaard each claim to differ with Kierkegaard and correct his thought. But in the end, even when they said they were different they remained in the realm of absurd, contraction, submission, heroic struggles and leaps. They do not move into Maimonidean rationalism or other approaches where Judaism is reasonable. Any thoughts?
Personally, I don’t see this as a live debate. Some mixture of Oprah, Neo-Hasidism and Roshei Yeshiva have replaced high modernism. And the critiques of Kierkegaard by Levinas, Derrida, and Adorno have not been absorbed by the Orthodox religious community.