About Joshua Rosenblum

Phlegmatic paladin of the Enlightenment, Defender of Liberty hither and yon!

Public Notes


Recent Activity

  • Joshua shared from A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
    Spinoza did not envision secular Judaism. To be a secular or assimilated Jew is, in his view, nonsense. It is to be a nonsectarian sectarian. For him, Judaism without an observance of its textually and historically defined tenets, laws, and ceremonies would be a masquerade. These laws and rituals—along with gentile anti-Semitism—are what have preserved Judaism since the destruction of the Temple, and what now constitute its essence. Of course, Spinoza had great contempt for traditional sectarian religions, and Judaism in particular.
  • Joshua shared from A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
    “They have separated themselves from other nations . . . through external rites.”65 He notes that were the Jews to give up those rites, the observance of Jewish law, while living in a society that did not impose segregation and even granted them citizen rights, then political assimilation would lead to total assimilation, and Jewish identity would disappear. In the Treatise, he cites the case of the Babylonian exiles. “They turned their back on the entire Mosaic Law, consigned to oblivion the laws of their native land as being obviously pointless, and began to be assimilated to other...
  • Joshua shared from A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
    It is hard to defend the idea that Spinoza was himself the first secular Jew. After his herem, not only did he cut off all formal relations with any congregation; and not only did he undoubtedly cease to practice any of the rituals and observances of Jewish life; but the mature Spinoza seems to have had practically no residual sense of Jewish identity. Being Jewish evidently played no role whatsoever in his self-image (although it did continue to play a role in the image that others had of him, as we can see by Huygens’s reference to him as “the Jew of Voorburg”62). There is no reason to...
  • Joshua shared from A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
    Insofar as many of the commandments found in the Torah relate only to ceremonial practices and sectarian religious rites, instituted by Moses under unique historical circumstances and for specific political purposes, they are only of limited scope and validity. Unlike the true divine law, which is universally valid for all human beings, the ceremonial laws of Judaism are particularistic and directed only to a given people—the ancient Hebrews—and adapted to their condition at a certain extended period in time. These include laws about the priesthood, ritual purity, sacrifice, worship, and other...
  • Joshua shared from Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals by Ken Ballen
    From his conversations with bin Laden, Zeddy also shows why America is the symbolic “Great Tempter” for jihadis. American ideals of freedom, achievement, and individuality all compete with the radical Islamist model of collective identity, personal sublimation, and unquestioning faith. And it’s a competition that the jihadis are deeply scared of losing.
    Note: this is the whole ball game.
(Kandahar, Afghanistan)
Joshua Rosenblum