Not in heaven
The desacralization of the world was accomplished with the tools of theology (Löwith 1949).
Old Testament monotheism since the ancient Israelites had already banned the gods from the world:
monotheism thus became the first step towards secularization.
secular Jewish thinkers also built their philosophies on the religious tradition they sought to replace.
In his famous essay, ‘The Non-Jewish Jew’, the former yeshiva student and socialist revolutionary, Isaac Deutscher, argued that those who rejected both their ancestral religion and people in favor of secular universalism had historical precursors. In a paradoxical formulation that captured something of his own identity, Deutscher wrote: Deutscher wrote: ‘The Jewish heretic who transcends Jewry belongs to a Jewish tradition’ (Deutscher 1968, p. 26).
The ‘Jewry’ that the heretic transcends is ‘Judaism’, not only the religion, but all of the traditions built up over nearly three millennia. Yet, in transcending Judaism, the heretic finds himself or herself in a different Jewish tradition, a tradition no less Jewish for being anti-traditional. See next paragraph p 342
This was a rupture facilitated by urbanization, emigration and political persecution.
To argue that they are identical, as Gauchet seems to at times, would efface what is new and revolutionary about modernity. But I want to argue that aspects of premodern thought not only anticipate their modern successors, but actually furnish arguments that might be appropriated, adapted, and transformed to fit a secular agenda.
Funkenstein’s definition of secular theology: non-theologians practicing theology. These Jewish literati, starting with Spinoza, were not rabbis, indeed many were self-consciously rebels against the rabbis.
The rabbis asserted that, with the destruction of the Temple, prophecy had ceased, left only to children and fools (on our text and the end of prophecy, see Blenkinsopp 2004
Since the Bible not only speaks the language of human beings, but from the perspective of human beings, it does not contain philosophical or astronomical knowledge, a specialized, scientific knowledge found in other books. By limiting the knowledge provided by the Bible, Ibn Ezra made the study of nature – or, at least, the supra-lunar world – a subject independent of the Bible.
Rather than reconciling science with revelation, which was the project of so many medieval Jewish, Christian, and Muslim philosophers, Ibn Ezra chose to separate them, thus rendering nature a realm autonomous from religion.
I say that anything that is revolting to enlightened Gentiles is forbidden to us, not just because of hilul ha-shem, but because of the command to be holy. Anything the violates the norms of enlightened human beings cannot be permitted to us, a holy nation; can there be anything forbidden for them but permitted to us? The Torah says that the nations are supposed to say: “What a great nation, with such just laws and statutes!’' But if they are on a higher level than we in their laws and norms, they will say about us: “What a foolish and disgusting nation!”
Dor Rev'i Rav Moshe Shmuel Glasner, Commentray on Hullin quoted by R. Ethan Tucker Ethical Norms as the Foundation of Torah
The Torah Speaks in Human Language - Chapter 2 in Heschel's Heavenly Torah
RABBI AKIVA, who extracted from every jot and tittle in the text piles and piles of halakhot, believed it impossible that there be in the Torah a single superfluous word or letter. Each word, each letter issues the invitation: "Interpret me!" Even if the rules and conventions of language require that a certain word or letter complete the syntax, it is nevertheless fair game for exegesis. Thus, he interpreted every seeming redundancy, and even the coupling of a verb to its infinitive:?] "Any
man, any-man [of the seed of Aaron... of the holy-donations he is not to eat, until he is pure]" (Leviticus 22:4)--this is meant to include the uncircumcised;2 "Cut off, cut off shall that person be"131 (Numbers 15:31)-*cut off" in this world.
"[again] cut off" in the future world. He even interpreted the word "saying" (in "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying"), the letter vayl] in the word ve-ratza' ["he shall pierce"] (in “HIS master shall pierce his ear" [Exodus 21:6]), and in the word u-vat ["when the daughter"] (in "when the daughter of a priest" [Leviticus 21:9]),4 Even particles and prepositions such as et [accusative case particle], gam ["also"], akh ["yet"], and rak ["only"] served as grist for his exegetical mill. By contrast, Rabbi Ishmael would interpret scriptural verses in a straightforward and rational way, or through the use of the thirteen logical rules of exegesis, which also reveal what is hidden in the text by rational means. In his view, the seeming redundancies in Scripture do not imply anything substantive, for the Torah uses a style that is in keeping with the conventions of human language; for example, "you had to go, yes, go" (Genesis 31:30); “you longed, longed" (ibid.); "I was stolen, yes, stolen" (Genesis 40:15).7
Even in places where synonyms appear in the Torah, it is not intended as a substantive addition, or for any specific purpose. For example: "He shall abstain from wine and any other intoxicant" (Numbers 6:3)-"Now are not 'wine' and 'intoxi-
cant' one and the same? Yes, the Torah simply uses two synonymous terms."8 In short: the Torah speaks in human language.?
For Rabbi Ishmael, this principle governs the text of the Torah: when any passage appears in one place and is repeated in another [with some changes], the purpose of the repetition is simply to introduce those changes, and thus it is unnecessary to reinterpret that which is identical to the original. Rabbi Akiva, by contrast, believed that one must reinterpret the entire passage, not simply the new material.10 "Exegeses emanating from the school of Rabbi Ishmael are marked by their simplicity. They do not approach the text in a roundabout way, in order to extract laws by whatever means possible; they rather attempt to keep exegesis in line with the surface meaning, and do not interpret mere superfluities and redundancies."11
Rabbi Ishmael protested Rabbi Akiva's mode of exegesis. When Rabbi Akiva inferred an important law from the letter vav in the phrase u-vat ish kohen ["When the daughter of a priest"] (“Brother Ishmael, my exegesis is of the difference between
bat and u-vat"), Rabbi Ishmael said to him: "Shall we condemn this woman to be burnt just because you wish to interpret the letter vav?!"12 On the other hand, Rabbi Ishmael's method of letting the surface meaning suffice and to identify the "natural setting of the text" seemed to some of his colleagues a mark of incapacity and intellectual weakness. Once he argued with Rabbi Akiva (who, as noted above, interpreted the particle et to signify some substantive addition) as follows: "The text does not read 'When God began to create the heaven [hashamayim] and the earth [ha-aretz] but rather 'the heaven [et hashamayim] and the earth [ve-et ha-aretz]'-but this is simply the natural style of the text." Rabbi Akiva responded: ""This is not a trifling thing for you'l] (Deuteronomy 32:47)-and if it is trifling, it is so from you, i.e., from your inability to interpret it. Et hashamayim is meant to add the sun, moon, stars, and constellations, and et ha-aretz is meant to add the trees, grasses, and the Garden of Eden."17] 13
Heavenly Torah: As Refracted through the Generations Paperback – December 1, 2006
Digital version: https://archive.org/details/heavenlytorahasr0000hesc