Landauer, Meyer Heinrich Hirsch

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LANDAUER, MEYER HEINRICH HIRSCH (1808–1841), writer on the philosophy of religion and Kabbalah. Born at Kappel, near Buchau (Wuerttemberg), he was the son of a cantor and became rabbi of Braunsbach (Wuerttemberg). He had to abandon this post for reasons of health.

On the basis of prolonged study of Hebrew manuscripts in the Munich Library (in 1838), Landauer wrote several studies on the history of medieval Hebrew literature and of the Kabbalah, which constitute the first attempt at a scholarly study of the development of Jewish mysticism. Covering "Sefer ha-Bahir," "The word Kabbalah," "Survey of the history and literature of the Kabbalah," "A preliminary appraisal of the *Zohar," and others, they were published posthumously in incomplete form in Literaturblatt des Orients. Under the influence of Schelling, Landauer attempted a symbolic mystical interpretation of the Torah and its commandments which should have served as a basis for a religious philosophy of Judaism and which should have also connected it with kabbalistic themes. Of decisive significance in this respect for Landauer was the philosophical-metaphysical meaning of the names of God-yhwh as designation for the "first basic idea of the consciousness of God" in its unified "being in itself" and His government and managing of the world. Elohim is the designation of that aspect of yhwh insofar as it is split into different conceptions by experience and contemplation. The three main forms of God's primary activities are expressed in the three ancient names of God: El Shaddai, El Ro'i, and El Koneh, which are designations of the concepts of Elohim. Landauer's biblical and theological ideas are contained in Jehova und Elohim oder die althebraeische Gotteslehre als Grundlage der Geschichte der Symbolik und der Gesetzgebung der Buecher Moses (Stuttgart, 1836); and Wesen und Form des Pentateuch (ibid., 1838). The former work provoked sharp criticism from A. *Geiger, to which Landauer replied in his introduction to the second book.


I.M. Jost, in: Israelitische Annalen, 3 (1841), 69f.; L. Zunz, in: I. Busch (ed.), Jahrbuch der Israeliten, 6 (1848), 90; A. Geiger, in: wzjt, 3 (1837), 403–13; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 1596 no. 6109; Fuerst, Bibliotheca, 2 (1863), 219f.

[Joseph Elijah Heller]