Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts - Volume 4, Number 1 (Nos.1-2) (Spring 5752/1992)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts

Volume 4, Number 1 (Nos.1-2) (Spring 5752/1992)

Deuteronomy as Israel's Ancient Constitution: Some Preliminary Reflections - Daniel J. Elazar

This article has the dual purpose of indicating how contemporary political science can approach the study of an ancient constitutional text and the examination of Deuteronomy as such a constitution. Ancient constitutions are distinguished from modern ones by devoting as much or more attention to the moral and socio-economic bases of the polity as to the frame of government. Deuteronomy is a classical example of that kind of ancient constitution, designed to adapt the Torah-as-constitution presented in the first four books of the Pentateuch to the Jewish polity once the people are established in Eretz Israel. As such it is both a repetition of what has been presented before and a modification of earlier constitutional teachings. The article begins by discussing the character of Deuteronomy and the structure of the constitutional elements within it. It raises the question as to whether or not Deuteronomy was actually in force as a constitution, and why Deuteronomy was necessary to complete the classic constitution of ancient Israel. The article includes a schematic presentation of the Deuteronomic constitution, divided by order, section and topic. It then procedes to discuss how to read the text in its various parts -- the preamble, the body of the constitution, its enactment and promulgation through a covenant renewal ceremony involving curses and blessings, its provisions for future covenant renewal ceremonies, a final word from Moses describing the constitution, and an epilogue describing Moses' passing of his authority and powers to Joshua. Each section of the constitution is discussed in some detail in light of general principles of constitution-making and those of the Jewish political tradition. The whole document is presented as a covenant in the spirit and format of Israelite constitutions.

In the Shadow of the Mountain: Consent and Coercion at Sinai - Gerald J. Blidstein

The graphic description of God holding Mt. Sinai over the Israelites' heads, threatening to bury them under it unless they accepted His Torah, is familiar to many. Whatever the existential import of this tale, its literal sense is that the Jewish people were coerced into receiving the Torah. This essay analyzes other traditions about the Sinai covenant and indicates that these, in contrast, assert the consensual nature of the receiving of the Torah.

Louis Marshall, the Jewish Vote, and the Republican Party - David G. Dalin

Louis Marshall, one of American Jewry's most influential communal leaders between the mid-1890s and his death in 1929, was a life-long Republican whose support for the Republican Party never wavered. More than any other Jewish leader of the 1896-1928 era, Marshall endorsed Republican candidates for election, took an active part in intraparty squabbles, and worked closely with Republican congressmen and state legislators. During this era, moreover, during which most Republican politicians thought in terms of a Jewish vote, and developed their electoral strategies accordingly, Marshall's political advice and endorsement was often sought by political leaders hoping to appeal to Jewish voters. This essay analyzes Marshall's influential role in American politics generally, and in Republican Party affairs in particular, a subject long neglected by American Jewish scholarship. In so doing, it critically examines his often-noted commitment to the doctrine of Jewish political neutrality, of which he was the best known and most articulate proponent. In theory at least, Marshall continuously opposed the idea of a Jewish vote and the assumption that a Jewish candidate automatically was entitled to the support of Jewish voters. As this essay documents, however, Marshall's commitment to the ideal of Jewish political neutrality was much greater in theory than in practice.

Authority and Legitimacy in Jewish Leadership: The Case of Lucien Wolf (1857-1930) - Mark Levene

The traditional leadership of Anglo-Jewry came increasingly into question in the early 1900s. A burgeoning agenda associated with an influx of East European immigrants and a rising tide of anti-Semitism provideed ammunition for Zionists and workers' organizations to mount a challenge to its hegemony. The challenge was sharpest in the area of foreign affairs where the part-time amateur conduct of a self-selecting, self-perpetuating oligarchy in the Conjoint Foreign Committee appeared most keenly out of touch, out of date, and lacking in democratic accountability.

The challenge was met and defeated, less, however, on account of the old order's adaptability and more due to its good fortune in acquiring the services of the foreign affairs expert, Lucien Wolf. His early relationship to the committee highlighted many of the problems of legitimacy and authority within the community as well as of the lack of a career structure indispensable to the provision of a coherent, professional body. Wolf's expertise, however, ensured for himself an indispensable niche within the Anglo-Jewish establishment and a hegemony in the field of Anglo-Jewish foreign affairs which despite serious challenge was upheld and ultimately consolidated. As foreign affairs secretary to the Joint Foreign Committee, a post specifically designed for him, Wolf became the critical exponent of Jewish minority rights, both at the Paris Peace Conference and at the League of Nations.

Medieval Rationalism or Mystic Philosophy? Reflections on the Correspondence between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin - Ellis Sandoz

The correspondence between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin covered three decades down to the mid-1960s and touched on many of the most urgent problems in modern political philosophy. At bottom the key question they debated is whether the true paradigm of philosophy is a purely naturalistic rationalism of the kind fashioned by the thirteenty century Arab and Jewish thinkers in their revival of Aristotelianism and exemplified, later on, by Spinoza; or whether the true paradigm is grounded in the Reason (nous) of Plato and Aristotle as it symbolizes a range of experiential meaning from intellection to faith, thus comprehending analysis, intuition, and revelation. Strauss contends for the former, Voegelin for the latter view; one in the name of demonstrative knowledge, the other in the name of mystic philosophy. Despite their substantial disagreements, both writers stand severely at odds with contemporary ideologies and, generally, join in preferring the ancients to the moderns.