By Daniel H. Frank
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Extra resources for A People Apart: Chosenness and Ritual in Jewish Philosophical Thought
45 Of course, what is primarily rational will vary quite considerably, depending on the metaphysical assumptions of the respective theologian. For Cohen, being so influenced by Kant, the primary content of the Torah is the universalizable moral law it contains. 46 On purely Kantian grounds, the particularism of the doctrine 28 DAVID NOVAK of the election of Israel seems to be an embarassment. Cohen writes: Thus the question remains how could this thought of a unique God rein einzigen Gottes] become manifest uniquely and alone [einzig und allein] to the spirit of this people?
Israel is not the accidental bearer of the Torah. The Torah grows out of Israel's election ... the Torah is not a demand that exists apart from the being of Israel. 32 Along these lines, it is evident why Wyschogrod forcefully argues against any suggestion that Jewish identity is contingent on acceptance of the teachings of the Torah and the practice of its precepts. Obviously, he believes that such acceptance and practice enhance a Jew's sense of his or her election and give it meaning. Nevertheless, he seems to argue that the election of Israel is something sola gratia and is true even when Jews ignore the obligations of the covenant, even when they reject them.
33 That is why he insists on the total historicity of the Torah; for the historicity of the Torah presupposes the historicity of the Jewish people. Israel is there, and then the Torah is given to them in relation to their historical situation. Israel's election by God is the primary event and the givinglreceiving of the Torah is the secondary event, which is for the sake of the continued meaning of this primary event. It is what makes this event found an unending process. Thus, in support of this view, let us note that the correct meaning of "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exod.
A People Apart: Chosenness and Ritual in Jewish Philosophical Thought by Daniel H. Frank