Friedrich Weinrebs Philosophy
Thesis Submitted for the Degree
"Doctor of Philosophy"
Submitted to the Senate of the Hebrew University
Friedrich Weinreb is a philosophical commentator on the Bible and the accompanying Jewish oral tradition. As such, he differs from most twentieth-century Jewish thinkers who deal more with the overall conception of the meaning of Judaism and the value of the sources, and less with a structured and systematic explanation of the Bible. Although Martin Buber wrote several books on the Scriptures in search of their inherent eternal value, the difference between Buber and Weinreb lies in the fact that Buber's commentary of the Bible derives from conclusions reached by the science of Biblical studies, even if it contradicts some of them. Weinreb's commentary on the Sources, in contrast, is basically an inclusive commentary method and a semantic pivot which almost totally negates the starting point and conclusions of scientific studies of the Bible.
I define Weinreb as a philosophical commentator on the Jewish Sources since Weinreb sees in the Jewish oral tradition the key to understanding human life and our passage on Earth in the eternal sense, which is unconstrained by the historical period in which the Scriptures were created. In this, Weinreb diverges from the tendency which begins with Spinoza and has some roots in the Middle Ages, to judge and discusses ancient texts from a historical-developmental perspective. In Weinreb's opinion it is the synchronic, and not the diachronic, dimension which leads to a real understanding of teachings within the oral tradition.
Weinreb did not engage in explaining the Scriptures from a historical viewpoint, or by means of philological and critical methods, in the contemporary sense. These methods of analysis have been prevalent for the last two hundred years in the field of Biblical research . Therefore, he cannot be defined as a researcher in the modern sense of the word, but as a philosophical commentator. Weinreb's commentary has no national tendencies nor is it particularly directed at the Jewish reader. Weinreb's symbolic approach completely neutralises national connotations in the Bible, which he perceives as a universal document existing for all peoples. Concepts such as a Jew, a Hebrew and Israel are symbols for mental tendencies and attitudes towards reality.
Although Weinreb lived and worked during the years contemporaneous to the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionism has no special place in his work. All the sites in Israel which are mentioned in the Scriptures are perceives as bearing symbolic significance. As will be seen, this tendency is part of Weinreb's overall approach to the Scriptures, in which the content of the Scriptures does not completely match the natural reality of time and space.
Weinrebs style of commentary is characterised by the integration of different sources, such as the Bible and the Oral Tradition, and by the combination of commentary methods originating in ancient times and the Middle Ages, but which Weinreb refashions, as appropriate to a contemporary thinker. On this foundation, which combines such commentary methods as symbolic perspective, typology, archetypes and the relationship between letters and numbers, Weinreb creates an inclusive method of commentary which is applicable to all the sacred literature of Judaism and reveals, in his opinion, basic structures present in these writings and in life itself.
Weinreb's commentary developed on the basis of German philosophy and the psychology of the subconscious. It combines special emphasis on the importance of dreams and their place in the human subconscious with his commentary on the Bible, the Talmud and the Kabbalah, and therefore attaches considerable significance to the archetypal approach. Weinreb represents an originl way of thinking that combines systematic thought, appropriate for one who grew up in a scientific world, and that posits an esoteric attitude towards the Scriptures and life itself.
Weinreb's claims regarding the eternal value of the Bible, the teachings of the Talmud and the homiletic interpretations are not new. One can trace this kind of argument back to Philon of Alexandria, as well as to Maimonides and the Jewish mystics. However, their respective evaluation of the eternal differs significally. Both Philon of Alexandria and Maimonides assumed, each in his own way, that the Jewish sources encode the truth of Greek philosophy: in other words they assumed that the Bible's eternal aspect is in the rational and moral truths concerning the structure of reality and the purpose of human and world existence. For the adherents of the theosophical Kabbalah, the eternal in the Scriptures was directed towards the upper world, to the structure of the heavenly Sephirot, and their mutual relationship. In the prophetic Kabbalah, the combination of letters in the Bible and their eternal and uninformative significance played an important part.
In contrast, Weinreb claims that the eternal in the Scriptures is expressed in several factors, the first and principal one being that the Scriptures describe a reality that does not correspond with the world of space and time which we know through our senses and the thoughts generated by them, but with a more comprehensive reality. This comprehensive reality is not related only to the fact of God's revelation in the Bible, but to every phenomenon described in the Scriptures. Therefore, at the heart of Weinreb's commentary of the Scriptures lies a certain world view which, in his opinion, corresponds perfectly with the reality described in the ancient Scriptures. We shall name this world view a mythical perception of reality.
Accordingly, Weinreb's work derives from the integration of three factors: (a) his perception of reality; (b) his understanding of the Jewish sources; (c) humanitys location in reality, based on the nature of existence and of the Scriptures.
First, we should define and characterise Weinreb's mythical perception of reality as reflected in his understanding of the Scriptures. Mythical perception implies that the reality absorbed via the senses is incomplete and inappropriate to the entirety of existence in the world around us, for two main reasons: (1) everything in our environment exists in the Divine context; (2) the existence of objects and concepts in our world are in a state of mutual relationship which differs from what appears before us. This also applies to the relationship between man and his surroundings: the external world, with its wealth of phenomena, is a reflection of man's inner world, and the two are interrelated. All creatures that exist outside of Man are echoes, expressions and symbols of human qualities, mental and spiritual attitudes. The external world is in fact the human inner world which has been opened out to become visible. The same holds true for people we meet during our lives. Therefore, in order to comprehend reality as a whole, in varying contexts, a different kind of science and insight is required. The person who does not perceive reality in its entire context exists only in half the kingdom. In order to attain all inclusive phenomena revealed to the senses, we must take an experiential approach, and attain them by revelation.
To be more precise, one can say that Weinreb's perception of mythical reality, and especially his basic assumption on Man's need for another kind of experience and knowledge, clearly positions him in that group of thinkers who do not accept rational and methodical thought, based on the senses, as the cardinal tool for comprehending reality. Like Buber, A.D. Gordon and Rav Kook in Jewish thinking, and like others who are identified with the "Philosophy of Life" school, Weinreb assumes that one can perceive reality directly through intuition and revelation without the need for mediation. However, like Gordon and Kook, Weinreb does not absolutely prefer the instinctive over the rational; instead, he attempts to integrate thought based on divine revelation, or as he calls it - vertical thinking - with horizontal thinking, which is similar to Maimonides concept of practical thinking. However, as opposed to Kook, Weinreb's other trend of thought does not relate only to a unifying perception of reality, contrasted with the perception of its discrete parts. It is no less related to understanding those parts by means of mythical insight.
Similarly to thinkers already mentioned, Weinreb strongly emphasises the location of humanity in existence and, like Buber and Kook, he asserts that studying the Holy Scriptures prepares people for a more encompassing and authentic awareness. Notwithstanding this, his perception of the eternal value of the Holy Scriptures differs from theirs and his examination of the Scriptures is wider. Thus Weinreb can be defined as a philosophical commentator on the Jewish Scriptures.
It is important for our objective to differentiate Weinreb's mythical perception from that of Buber. Although they both assume that a mythical-experiential perception towards reality sheds Divine light on it, Buber defines myth as valid only for what is perceptible by the senses as a Divine revelation. Weinreb, on the other hand, claims that mythical experience or recognition depends not only on the senses, but applies also to images of sensory objects appearing in visions or dreams. For example, according to Buber's definition of myth, Ezekiel's vision of the Merkava is not a myth but a supernatural experience, since the animals described in the Book of Ezekiel do not exist in any known reality. However, according to Weinreb, every image taken from the world of phenomena which bears additional meaning, whether it appears before our physical eyes or before our spiritual eyes, is defined as mythical reality. In his opinion, only an abstract encounter with Divinity is not a mythical experience. Therefore, Weinreb's mythical reality is closer to a symbolic perception and includes it: If the animals described in Ezekiels vision of the Merkava are perceived in a metaphysical context, they are than both symbol or signifier for that metaphysical reality, which is the symbolised or signified.
For Weinreb, myths give significance to symbols. In Weinreb's mythical perception, all realities perceptible by the senses become symbols, though in contrast with the theosophical Kabbalah, the symbolised is not part of the world of Sephirot. In other words, the symbolic pivot is not vertical but horizontal.
Therefore, it is one and the same whether a man sees with his own eyes an almond tree, or dreams about it, or sees it in his own mind as a kind of internal picture, like Jeremiah, or reads about it in the Holy Scriptures: every time this particular tree is perceived in its Divine-metaphysical context, man enters the mythical realm. The almond tree appears in Jeremiahs vision to announce that the Word of God will be fulfilled quickly. Grammatically, it is the verb SH-K-D (ù-÷-ã) which leads to this conclusion. According to Buber, this is a vision and not a myth, but in Weinreb's opinion, the almond tree is an expression in the natural world of the metaphysical principle that the Will of God is quickly accomplished and that the Will of God is good. The almond tree bears an eschatological meaning in that it is the first tree to bloom in winter in the Land of Israel. The myth is created on the interface between the transitory and the eternal. It makes no difference if the almond tree appears in a dream or in the waking hours. What is important is inherent in the additional meaning perceived of the object, and not in the condition of its observer.
Weinreb's perception of mythical reality turns the objects within the external world into a road map with Divine meaning and into an archetypal testimony to the human spirit.
The mythical dimension in life
The question may be posed: what validates the additional metaphysical meaning given to the images in the world of phenomena, and why are the revelations described in the Scriptures often presented as images taken from the natural world? Here we must indicate an important principle in Weinreb's work: the existence of an additional dimension, beyond material existence, which he calls the mythical dimension. While in the concrete world we encounter material objects or images, the mythical dimension contains images which are not material. In fact, Weinreb maintains that everything which exists in the concrete world as an image or a shape with a physical body, exists concurrently as a mental picture in the mythical dimension. Contrary to Platonic theory which maintains that principles or concepts have abstract existence in the world of ideas, Weinreb claims that the mythical world is formed in structures created from other material, in which are preserved not only general principles but also the particulars. Nothing exists in the sensory world without being related to its reality in another dimension.
The unique nature of the mythical dimension is also expressed in that space and time have a different meaning from the familiar one in the world of material phenomena. From the perspective of space, we have said that the mythical dimension contains no material substance, therefore the images there are not differentiated by such clear, distinct borderlines. And from the perspective of time, there is no differentiation between past, present and future; therefore, everything which exists in the present or, alternatively, which appeared in the past, or will appear in the future, exists there in a spiritual accumulated state. In the mythical dimension, death does not mean nothingness but a transformation, where the future, the past and the present exist at one and the same time.
Another important characteristic of the mythical dimension is that not only do things appear differently, but their metaphysical-value is immediately present. For example, to a picture of a donkey, the mythic reality and the Divine-metaphysical significance of a donkey is immediately added. In this context, it is not by chance that both Judaism and Christianity maintain that the Messiah will arrive riding on a donkey, since such a tradition derives directly from the mythical dimension of existence, and as such recognises an additional meaning to the donkey, and its mutual relationship with the Messianic idea. This work will show that language is the tool which reveals the mythic-metaphysical significance of the objects we perceive within the natural-sensory world.
We can summarise up to this point that the entire natural-material world in which we exist is a symbol, since all its creatures exist in another dimension of metaphysical significance. These creatures have meaningful and mutual relationships which are usually hidden from our awareness. What is hidden from us in our world is the additional meaning of phenomena. People must learn to recognise the mythical context of the reality they see before their eyes. This world is not devoid of spiritual meaning, but one must learn to recognise it.
Weinreb coined an important phrase which should be discussed - the existence of forms in time. It is not only such tangible images as an almond tree, a dove or a donkey which have an additional, mythic significance; time also possesses an additional meaning. In other words, meaningful forms, or concepts with spiritual value, exist in time as well as in space. Just as a principle underlies a physical image, so too does time. In more esoteric terms, one could say that underlying units of time and forms in space are qualities of being. The full context of the forms of time exists in the mythical dimension, as does the full context of forms in space, but they are harder to discern. In the physical world it is simple to see where the form of the donkey ends, but it is difficult to know what section of time creates a complete unit.
Weinreb claims that the Jewish Scriptures show us the appearance of complete time units, since the Scriptures derive from the mythical dimension of existence and thus include, in a certain way, the starting point of time, the inclusive nature of its trajectory and its ending point. Thus, for example, the stories of Creation denote a time unit from which we can study the structure of time. Likewise, the Flood in the story of Noah, and the story of the Diaspora and the exile of the people of Israel in Egypt and their arrival in the land of Canaan. From these stories we can elicit a typological model which sustains the structure of time and from which, in turn, we can learn about the evolutionary structure of time.
It follows, then, that we can term the mythical dimension as the Whole, and concrete reality as the Half. However, this half is only a half in human consciousness, since people who learn to communicate with the mythical dimension begin to see the material world in its full context. For those who embark on this path, discovering and experiencing metaphysical-spiritual significance in the visible world transforms it into a world imbued with Divine meaning.
Although people confront multiplicity, the encompassing and unifying nature of the mythical dimension is manifested in the eventual perception of all personal elements in their unity. This is the path that leads from polytheistic myths to monotheistic myths: polytheistic myths constitute a stage in the progression towards a unifying perception of reality, a single Divine Being which is founded on multiplicity.
The Mythical Dimension and the Subconscious
Weinreb's perception of man combines his approach to Jewish esotericism, which sees Man as an entity who, in his earthly existence, derives from and is rooted in spiritual reality: that is, in a reality which is independent of time and space and their limited causal contexts, together with a world of concepts taken from and influenced by the psychology of the subconscious. However, it should be noted that Weinreb unifies the two; in his opinion, Judaism is the psychology of the subconscious, which Jung also studied, insofar as the latter perceived the subconscious as a window to other realms. In identifying the spiritual world with the subconscious, Weinreb could say on one occasion that language derives from the Divine world or, on another occasion, that it derives from Man, and could also say that the Scriptures derive from the world of dreams.
The mythical dimension is very intimately connected with man's interior-spiritual life. Weinreb's view of the subconscious assumes that the content of the human subconscious is the mythical dimension of existence. Human memory already denotes that people prevail over the continuum of time and over forms in space. Through memory man can experience different times and sights without being dependent on a specific time or space. However, as with the Jungian idea of the subconscious, and in accordance with Weinreb's perception of the mythical dimension, the subconscious includes historical content, not only individual memory; the collective and universal form part of the human subconscious.
Man's inner life is the window through which we can approach the world in all its infinite variety, and through which this variety flows into us, becoming part of us. The relationship between the universal subconscious and human beings as particular individuals, lies in our ability and free will to choose which figures and situations will rise to the surface from the mythic-universal. This is how Weinreb also conceives the meaning of Gilgul; Gilgul means that different figures surface into our conscious life from the universal store of figures contained in the subconscious.
Dreams are an important means through which man receives messages from the mythical dimension. We have seen that everything exists mythically and with metaphysical meaning. In our dreams we receive concrete images which have additional meaning and therefore these images have inner value. Contemporary excessive cerebrality must be balanced by a return to the subconscious or the dream-world. Dreams are cardinal mythical facts, since in dreams we receive a concrete image with a significance that transcends the concrete. Our dreams are not simply random, and the images we see have a certain value-significance. The cerebral aspect refuses to grasp the metaphysical significance of natural objects. Hence Weinreb believes that our dream life is truer, even though it is subconscious. Balance in life can only be found through learning to dream reality while awake. In fact in man's present condition, night is day and day is night since whilst awake he is in complete darkness in his perception of the spiritual context, in which everything lies. We must learn to transfer elements from our waking life into our dream-life, and perceive external objects in their dream-time context.
The Status of the Scriptures
The Holy Scriptures, which include the Bible and the Oral Tradition, are a gift from above. They were given by inspired people who combined logical, methodical thinking with visionary perception, which in modern times can be called irrational thinking. The revelatory nature of traditional sources is not only because they were handed down by God, but because they were taken from the mythical dimension. Therefore, one should not regard the information in the Jewish sources as only physically perceptible. According to Weinreb, these sources do not correspond to the realm of the senses and cannot be comprehended by the same tools used to discern the tangible world.
Weinreb divides the Jewish Scriptures into the non-reflective sources and those of commentary, that are chronologically later. The non-reflective sources include the Torah and the rest of the Bible on the one hand, and the oral tradition - including the Midrash, Aggadah, Halacha and the Kabbalah, on the other hand. All of these are defined, then by Weinreb as non-reflective sources, and Weinrebs self-perception is of a commentator on these ancient sources.
Typically, the non-reflective sources are not self-explanatory; they are not written in a causal-philosophical line of thought, nor are they systematically constructed. Some are written as stories, as in the Bible or the Aggadah, whereas some are written as a Midrash on the Scriptual verses. These are not theological documents in the reflective-philosophic sense. Weinreb assumes that the story (the myth) comes closer to life's complexity than does philosophy (the logos).
In terms of content, the Scriptures are unique in that the descriptions they contain do not fit contemporary, simple logic. The Scriptures describe a reality unknown to us. We find messages in the Bible which can be called fantastic or irrational. These messages can be translated in ways which correspond to contemporary thought. Thus, for example, the crossing of the Red Sea, the Pillar of Fire, the Manna that fell from Heaven and the sun standing still upon Gibeon are all descriptions which cannot be understood in contemporary terms.
A similar problem exists in the works of the Sages which also contain accounts that do not adhere to what is known as simple logic. For example, Queen Esther is described as greenish, God plays with a whale, and the righteous dance with God. In the Book of Zohar we also see a reality which cannot be conceived by contemporary human consciousness, one where the supernatural is presented in terms of Kabbalistic Sephirot. The question is: what is the origin of these accounts, and what kind of reality do they posit? It seems there is a division between our ancestors world-view and ours.
Weinreb calls the other group of Jewish sources the reflective sources. They explain the non-philosophical and obscure messages in the non-reflective sources. This group of sources includes commentators and philosophers of the Middle Ages, as well as commentators on legends, such as the Maharal. All these assume that there is a supreme truth in the ancient sources which needs to be discovered through explanation and commentary. The difference between them is in the way they comment on and understand the non-reflective sources. Maimonides sees in the words of the Sages a revelation of higher wisdom, but this revelation is essentially rational and conforms more to scientific and philosophical thought, in particular to the Aristotelian, and to the way the Maharal perceives the legends of the Sages or the mythic approach itself.
Weinreb took his place in that line of reflective creators who translate obscure messages for those who have drifted away from the essence of Judaism's three great Canons: The Bible, the Talmud and the book of Zohar. Weinreb believed that the Bible and the oral tradition are tools available to those who wish to see reality as a whole. By their nature, the sources are close to the dream-world, as defined previously. Therefore Weinreb calls the Bible dream-pictures. The overall value of the holy writings is not only in the appearance of God before man, but also in every small detail they contain. God does not appear in our dreams, yet even so our dreams contain objects that possess additional meaning. What is common to both dreams and the Scriptures is the inherent symbolic dimension, whether it is people, geographical sites, numbers or such events as weddings, death or journeys. They all hint at inner processes and basic existential significance. In both dreams and the Scriptures we face the drama in our lives. The mythical status of the Scriptures determines the fact that there is no division between interior and exterior, or above and below. Every object contained in the Scriptures - clouds, sun, river, plant or animal - contains inner meaning without nullifying the external meaning. However, it is important to note that, according to Weinreb, one cannot know how events happened physically. The interface between external and internal descriptions remains hidden from view. For this reason Weinreb's mythical perception transforms the descriptions into symbols and gives the symbols theological legitimacy. However, his mythic perception neutralises the miracles in the Scriptures. A miraculous event can always be seen as an event within the spiritual domain.
There is no way of clearly knowing to which realm the crossing of the Red Sea belongs. In the concrete world, the sea symbolises a passage or border; in the mythical dimension the sea signifies a metaphysical fact concerning the passage from one reality to another, for example from birth to death and vice versa, or from one stage of spiritual development to another. Therefore, the crossing of the Red Sea is an archetypal, typological event and not only a geographical one.
While theosophical Kabbalah sees myth as a vertical line which unites the world above with the world below, for Weinreb the myth expresses the blurred division between the external and internal worlds, and its unifying of both. Therefore, the Bible gives an account of man's spiritual life and defines the processes undergone by individuals, no less than (and perhaps more than) a story with historical and geographical significance. The Scriptures are, therefore, to be regarded as an archetypal and biographic account.
Since the Scriptures are directly derived from the spiritual world they have a direct influence on man' s inner world. By studying the Bible, the sources of the Talmudic Sages and the Kabbalah, we learn to live in the mythical dimension where everything has divine meaning. This learning depends on finding the key which leads to an understanding of the full context of traditional messages and the ability to translate the Scriptures into contemporary language and conditions. It is not the distance in time which causes the difficulty in understanding these messages but the difference in our general perception. In principle it is as difficult to analyse an ancient text as to analyse a dream.
Like the estrangement between the internal and external world of man, or correspondingly - the subconscious and the conscious worlds - so are we inhibited from understanding. In order to comprehend the messages derived from the tradition, a hermeneutic method and a direct access to man's subconscious is needed. Thus Weinreb's basic approach to the Bible is similar to his approach to the Midrash, the Aggadah and the Kabbalah. Hermeneutics assist in transforming the Scriptures into a map of the human spirit with all its powers and abilities, and a reflection of man's course on earth. Furthermore, the Bible becomes a map of time enabling people to recognise in which evolutionary stage they are, and they learn to discern the prevalent forces in evolution and what is the structure of time.
The cardinal hermeneutic tool is language. Like the understanding of language in the prophetic Kabbalah, Weinreb assumes that the Hebrew language describes the essence of phenomena and their meaningful inter-relationships. The Hebrew language also went through a crisis in the generation of the tower of Babel. Contemporary Hebrew and ancient Hebrew are not identical, and therefore, Weinreb calls the language used before the crisis the original language.
The Hebrew language can lead us back to the original language in the best way through its inner aspect which is the numerical one. Weinreb calls the numerical aspect of the word the other side of the word. Numbers in language teach us more objectively than words can about the essence of things. The same applies to words describing both visible objects and abstract concepts.
Weinreb feels that as soon as speech is created it is accompanied by numerical value. Numbers are an initial factor in language: a sequence of letters cannot go without a sequence of numbers. Since the letter Aleph precedes the letter Bet, Aleph is one and Bet is two. Furthermore, the names and meanings of the letters correspond to their numerical sequence. In addition, each letter has its own numerical value, in the range of units, tens and hundreds which reveal further aspects of its nature.
Weinreb incorporated the ideas of Pythagoras, Kabbalah, Renaissance thinkers such as Galileo, and Descartes into his understanding of numbers and language. Weinreb received his perception of the central role of numbers in existence from the Pythagoreans, that is, order in the universe is numerical in nature. Weinreb absorbed from the first thinkers of the Renaissance the idea that numerical relationships can explain sensory objects better than sensory perception. Numerical interactions are more instructive in regard to understanding sensory objects than is objective sensory input. These are the abstract formulae that facilitate a greater understanding of tangible phenomena. Weinreb adopted the use of Gematria as a commentary tool from the Kabbalah, and introduced Descartes' and Galileo's views about physical reality into the field of language.
However, words themselves also preserve a certain affinity to the original language. Language is a gift from the spiritual world; it is derived from the mythical dimension, and therefore as well as accuracy, it also has the characteristics of flexibility and multiplicity. As Weinreb phrased it, words have the ability to enlarge. They reveal the value of things as they exist in the spiritual realm, and as such, language serves as a bridge between the transitory and the origins, the finite and the infinite, and the historical with the essential. This is why language is the foundation of all the commentary methods that Weinreb uses.
Together with Weinreb's linguistic hermeneutics, there are three more hermeneutic assumptions which we mentioned previously, since they represent more than the metaphysical, historiosophic and the anthropological approaches.
(a) The first assumption is inherent in the symbolic understanding of the Scriptures. Weinreb asserts that the Scriptures reflect a mythic approach to the world, in which each object has spiritual significance, and therefore functions as a symbol. So objects - animals or things, the plant-world and geographic locations - appearing in the Scriptures all bear symbolic significance. This significance is revealed by means of language.
(b) Typology is the second hermeneutic method, and it plays an important role in Weinrebs Scriptural commentary. Central to his works is the study of evolutionary time through Scriptural commentary. Dealing with the structure of time and evolution is central to Weinreb's writing, and the last chapter in this dissertation is dedicated to this topic. Weinreb's assumption regarding the typological order of time, which can be studied in the Scriptures, led to his comprehensive usage of typology. His world-view and hermeneutics are indissolubly combined. Weinreb's perception that assumes forms in time produces typological commentary because if an entity or a certain principle is consolidated and receives a form within time, it is likely to reconsolidate time after time: just as a form in time, a flower for example, will reappear every spring. As will be claimed in this work, Weinreb gives renewed content and significance to hermeneutic methods which were applied in the past.
It should be stressed that the typological structures which Weinreb reveals in the structure of time in his Scriptural commentary are dissimilar. Three kinds of typology are discernible in Weinreb's commentary: I have named the first one cyclical typology. Its significance is that in history, we can see constantly repeated cycles. I have defined the second typology as developmental typology. This typology is not circular but spiral, in other words it posits that it develops from one cycle to another. The third I named inverse typology since a specific event occurs and is formed within a given time, in accordance with a future event with a clearly eschatological character. It is the future which creates the structure and the method, not the past.
(c) The third hermeneutic assumption is related to the first, but it has more of an anthropological, or (to be precise) archetypal quality. Figures in the Scriptures also possess additional significance, beyond their external-historical-immediate significance. These figures are the interior voices of the human spirit, and these forces act and function in the human interior world as long as history continues. This also holds true for callings and functions in the Bible: hunter, priest, Levite, vine-grower, shepherd, child and adult, women and man are interior content and situations in the human spirit. Again, nothing in the Scriptures is devoid of an interior significance that transcends historical meaning.
Weinreb also claims that the holy Scriptures and myths derive, in principle, from one source of inspiration and therefore can be approached using the same commentary methods: he applied this principle to the Bible, the Oral Tradition as well as to the New Testament. Weinreb's commentary on the New Testament has typological, mythical and archetypal features in accordance with the aforementioned priniples: it gives the New Testament a universal dimension which transcends Christianity and also reveals interesting links between the New Testament and the Scriptures.
Time and Development in Weinreb's Philosophy
The structure of time and development is a central theme in Weinreb's philosophy, hence his wide use of typology. In the mythical dimension time exists in its totality, embracing past, present and future. The Bible exhibits the evolutionary structure of time in its stories and in its law. The Scriptures show units of time through which the general structure of evolution can be identified. Weinreb's conception of evolution assumes that the world came from the spiritual and will return there at the end of time. After the sixth day of creation, when man was expelled from the Garden of Eden, man entered a world which Weinreb calls the world of the seventh day. On the seventh day, where humanity is located now, humanity is returning to the spiritual. This process will continue into the eighth evolutionary day in which conditions will be different from the present ones. For example, matter will be more diffusive and the hidden essences will be far more visual. The process of the return to the spirit will continue in the ninth day and the evolutionary process will be completed in the tenth.
Evolution is an arena where two cosmic forces confront each other: one is the force of development and the other is the force of the return to origin. The force of development is the one with which the world was created but in a certain stage this force tries to distance the world from its origin, thus leading it to its ruin. The force of return to the origin is that which protects humanity from going astray and helps creation return to its origin. Man constantly chooses the force with which he cooperates. In returning to the origin he brings reality with him, and thus redemption.
The seventh day is also inwardly divided. Its first part is described in the Bible and continues into the first centuries BC. What characterises this part is that men experienced the spirit in their natural environment in a way unknown to modern man. This was the world of the Bible and myths, with its abundance of gods and the spiritual events related therein. This world gave way to our historical world where the mythical has retreated into the background, that is, into the interior human world. At the dawn of evolution, man's consciousness was mythical, whereas now he sees external objects with his senses. The mythical exists in the subconscious and in dreams. The continuation of the seventh day's branching-out is also a return to myth which implies a return to the spirit.
In Weinrebs works, the methodical combination of the basic assumptions summarised above, his commentary methods in regard to the texts and the awarding of a philosophical-psychological depth to ancient scriptures, creates a unique spiritual and existential experience for his readers. The methodical structure, lucid writing, and the non-associative nature of the works are surprisingly well-suited for contemporary readers. It is my opinion that the works of Weinreb are culturally significant: readers can find in them both intellectual and spiritual value. They provide a hermeneutical tool for those who find it hard to read ancient or associative texts, but they also facilitate new perspectives for people already familiar with the sources. The universal quality of Weinrebs writings encourages people to seek out the interior world and elements which are common to all humanity, without cultivating the particularities which differentiate and are differentiated.
Copyright Israel Koren
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