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Heinemann, Yiẓḥak


HEINEMANN, YIẒḤAK (Isaac ; 1876–1957), Israel humanist and philosopher. Born in Frankfurt, Heinemann studied at German universities, and at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary. In the years 1919–38, he lectured in Jewish philosophy and literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau, where he reached the rank of professor, and, from 1920 was editor of the *Monatsschrift fuer Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums. In 1939, he settled in Jerusalem, where he continued to pursue his studies of Jewish philosophy. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish studies in 1955.

Heinemann's works, which deal with Hellenistic and medieval Jewish philosophy, as well as with aggadah, include: Poseidonios' metaphysische Schriften (1921–28); Die griechische Quelle der "Weisheit Salomos" (1921); Die Lehre von der Zweckbestimmung des Menschen im griechisch-roemischen Altertum und im juedischen Mittelalter (1926); Philons griechische und juedische Bildung (1931–32); and Altjuedische Allegoristik (1936). Two of his works were published in Hebrew: Ta'ameiha-Mitzvot be-Sifrut Yisrael (dealing with the reasons for the commandments, 1942–57), and Darkhei ha-Aggadah (on talmudic methodology in creating the aggadah, 1950). He contributed articles to various journals. He also published an abridged edition in English of Judah Halevi's Kuzari with introduction and commentary (1947).

Heinemann's clear and well-founded investigations were the result of his facing the problems of contemporary Judaism and standing up to the influences of European culture as well as German nationalistic hatred. He expounded his ideas in lectures, in German, Zeitfragen im Lichte juedischer Lebensanschauung (published in 1921), as well as in series of essays, such as Die geschichtlichen Wurzeln des neuzeitlichen Humanitaetsgedankens (1930), in which he discusses topical problems like militarism or pacifism, by analyzing historical attitudes which stem from either Greek or Germanic thought, or from Christianity, and comparing them with the Jewish viewpoint as reflected in Scripture. The Jewish attitude, he concluded, is the correct one, and the Jew should refer back to his own sources and find his place in world culture, not by refuting his faith, but rather by adhering to it. This motif recurs especially in his work on Die Lehre von der Zweckbestimmung des Menschen, where he attempts to show that while originally Jewish philosophy did accept ideas from Greek sources, this was done only after Aristotle and neoplatonism had been interpreted in a spirit close to Judaism and Christianity, and imbued with eschatological content. Moreover, Greek influence, in spite of creating a conflict, led to the emergence, in Judaism, of original thought which, in its turn, was imparted to European culture. Thus, Jewish thought in the Middle Ages constituted an essential link in the history of philosophy.


H. Emmrich, in: mgwj, 80 (1936), 294ff.; A. Jospe, in: G. Kisch (ed.), Das Breslauer Seminar (1963), 395ff.; E.E. Urbach, in: S. Federbush (ed.), Hokhmat Yisrael be-Ma'arav Eiropah, 1 (1958), 219ff.; H. Schwab, Chachme Ashkenaz (Eng., 1964), 48; Kressel, Leksikon, 1 (1965), 601.

[Eliezer Schweid]

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