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Krochmal, Abraham

KROCHMAL, ABRAHAM

KROCHMAL, ABRAHAM (d. 1888), Galician-born scholar and writer. Very little is known of Krochmal's life. His birthdate is put between 1818 and 1823 and his birthplace identified as Brody or Zolkiew. He studied Jewish and rabbinic subjects with his father Nachman *Krochmal, with Solomon *Kluger of Brody, and with Ẓevi Hirsch *Chajes in Zolkiew and received a general education as well. He led a rather unsettled life, living precariously in Lemberg, Brody, Odessa, and finally in Frankfurt on the Main. In Galicia and Odessa he moved in Haskalah circles and was friendly with Peretz *Smolenskin and Moses Leib *Lilienblum.

Krochmal's scholarly interests encompassed Bible, Talmud, and philosophy. He regularly contributed to *He-Ḥalutz, Ha-Meliẓ, Ha-Maggid, and other Hebrew periodicals; his articles are collected in Aguddat Ma'amarim (1885). His Da'at Elohim ba-Areẓ (1863) is a philosophy of history showing the influence of his father's writings and of the German idealistic philosophy of the 19th century; Iyyun Tefillah (1885) is a historical study on the God-man relationship; Yerushalayim ha-Benuyah (1867) contains interpretations of sayings of the Jerusalem Talmud; his Ha-Ketav ve-ha-Mikhtav (1873) is a collection of textual conjectures on the Bible, with a German translation; and Theologie der Zukunft (1872) is a critical-philosophical tractate on the justification of religious consciousness. Krochmal was a radical and rather unsystematic thinker. Strongly influenced by Spinoza, to whom he devoted his Evenha-Roshah (1871), by Kant, and, above all by his father, he saw in Judaism an ethico-cultural idea which had undergone a long historical development. The loss of statehood and diasporal existence was an important element in this development; but fundamental ethical and religious principles, such as the belief in one God, the love of one's neighbor, and the self-perfection of man, were preserved. Krochmal rejected the dogmatism of the medieval religious philosophers but recognized the sanctity of ritual and commandments as a means of moral education. At the same time he pleaded for reform. In his Bible and Talmud studies, too, he adopted a critical stance. He was the first to recognize Spinoza as the fountainhead of textual criticism of the Bible.

bibliography:

Klausner, Sifrut, 4 (1954), 78–103; Waxman, Literature, 3 (19602), 573ff.

[Getzel Kressel]

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