Come and Hear™ to increase interfaith understanding
This page has been cached from its original location to ensure availability for future students of Come and Hear™
Find Articles Home

View By Subject
View By Name
Search Tips
  Search for
  Search Tips: Use quotes to find a specific phrase, e.g. "Abe Lincoln" or "New York".
  Use the + sign for words that MUST be in the article, e.g. +Ford +SUV

Terms related to this article: Judaism Analysis  Midrash Analysis  Hermeneutics Analysis 

Search this Magazine
Go to Web site
Print this article | Email this article   Page:  Previous  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 
Continued from page 5

In Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition, David Bakan posits that Freud viewed Moses as the symbol of the yoke of the Law. Freud therefore, he argues, killed Moses out of Sabbatean sentiments. [39] Yet Bakan's theory is immediately suspect, since one does not require Sabbateanism as a motive to kill off a symbol of authority. Furthermore, Bakan observes in the same book that Freud created a Gentile Moses of high position (royal Egyptian lineage) so that he could overcome his own feelings of lower status because he was a Jew. [40] I dare say that even Freud was not so torn a personality that he required Moses to be both an authoritarian target and a pattern for assimilation! Nor does what we know about Freud's moral conservatism fit with Bakan's theory that Freud saw himself as a new Moses whose mission it was to rescind the Law. [41] Freud was not as concerned with abolishing accepted moralities of religious traditions as he was with eradicating neuroses.

The conflicting views of Freud's self-image only point to the complexity of that self-image and of its effect upon others, whether personally or through Freud's writings. Though the truth about Freud's self-image will probably always be veiled by the hidden inner dynamics that elude any psychoanalytical study, the question remains important for our understanding of Fromm. For whatever the contradictions involved in determining the Freudian self-image, it is clear that Freud regarded himself as possessing authority to reassess Scripture, that he was obsessed with the character of Moses (whether out of guilt or identification), and that he did, in fact, employ biblical literature, among other literatures, especially Greek and German, to illustrate his psychoanalytic discoveries or reevaluations. It is also clear that Freud had good experiences in Jewish education, as is indicated by his warm tribute to his teacher, Professor Hammerschlag: "Religious instruction served him as a way of educating towards love of the humanities and from the material of Jewish history he was able to find means of tapping the sources of enthusiasm hidden in the hearts of young people and making it flow out far beyond the limits of nationalism or dogma." [42]

I believe that it is safe to say, in view of the evidence, that Freud internalizes biblical characters-or at least identified greatly with some of them (Joseph, perhaps Moses)-while purporting to be a Bible critic. He was also viewed as a biblical figure; he projected that image, whether because he articulated his identifications (which, as we have seen, he sometimes did), or because something in his bearing suggested it. As Rieff testifies:

Freud's orientation was ... close to the prophetic. The function of a crisis psychology, as of the prophets, is to heighten the sense of threat and fear in the face of losses of self-identity, and to offer a control: hope, as the psychic state supplied by adhering to tradition, with the prophet as instructor. Freud, in this sense, was on the side of tradition. For him the past constituted the most dynamic part of the present. Tradition was never remote, but continually in the process of reasserting itself. He sought to remind people of it, and of its importance. [43]

continued ...

Print this article | Email this article   Page:  Previous  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 
LookSmartCreated in partnership with Gale Group
About Us | Help