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  • Abraham Heyn’s Jewish Anarcho-Pacifism

    Hayyim Rothman

    Chapter from the book: Christoyannopoulos A. & Adams M. 2020. Essays in Anarchism and Religion: Volume III.

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    Abraham Judah Heyn (1880-1957) was an orthodox rabbi of prestigious hasidic (habad) lineage, who served several communities throughout Europe and Palestine/Israel. Responding to the intensification of antisemitic brutality in Eastern Europe around the turn of the twentieth century, he promoted a hermeneutic of resistance, interpreting Jewish tradition as the foil of the state and of state-sanctioned violence — indeed, all violence. In this essay, three central themes developed in his writings — hitherto almost entirely neglected — are examined in detail. One, the notion that the essence of Judaism consists in a conviction as to the absolute sanctity of human life. Two, the implications this has for an anarcho-pacifist vision for human society reminiscent of Tolstoy's but articulated in a distinctively Jewish manner. Three, the nature of a true and morally sound revolution as determined by the essence of Judaism and the sort of community that, according to Heyn, it is designed to promote. More broadly, this essay aims to intervene in contemporary theo-politics by recovering for (orthodox) Jewish tradition an anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist, and universalist ethos, and by inserting Judaism and Jewish thought — in distinction from Jewish people — into the revolutionary tradition that has largely ignored them.

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    Rothman, H. 2020. Abraham Heyn’s Jewish Anarcho-Pacifism. In: Christoyannopoulos A. & Adams M (eds.), Essays in Anarchism and Religion. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bbb.b

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on June 11, 2020


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