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To His people, God the Lord is simultaneously the God of retribution and the God of love. In the same breath, they call on Him as “our God” and as “King of the universe,” or — to indicate the same contrast on a more intimate sphere — as “our Father” and “our King.” He wants to be served with trembling and yet rejoices when His children overcome their fear at His wondrous signs. Whenever the Scriptures mention His majesty, the next verses are sure to speak of His meekness. He demands the visible signs of offering and prayer brought to His name, and of the “affliction of our soul” in His sight. And almost in the same breath He scorns both and wants to be honored only with the secret fervor of the heart, in the love of one’s neighbor, and in anonymous works of justice which no one may recognize as having been done for the sake of His name. — Franz Rosenzweig, His Life and Thought (with Nahum Glatzer)


Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929) was a Jewish philosopher and theologian. Early in his academic career, he and a friend considered converting to Christianity. To fully understand what they were about to undertake, though, they decided to live as observant Jews for a year prior to conversion. While his friend converted a year later, Rosenzweig underwent a mystical experience during this time whereby he entered more deeply into his Jewish faith. A close friend but philosophical opponent of Martin Buber, Rosenzweig ultimately propounded an existential Judaism in his philosophical works.

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