1 6 8 D O C U M E N T 1 2 7 A P R I L 1 9 2 1
Your conception of the Chief Function of our future University is certainly very
Personally I always stood aloof from religious questions and there-
fore cannot feel exactly in the same way about the spiritual conflict which stands
for you in the center of
I also think that nobody can predict, with any amount
of certitude the future development of the cultural life of a nation, let alone guide
and force such development in this or that direction. If I understand you rightly, you
do not expect either that the foundation of a University chair or department such as
you outline will necessarily and surely achieve such a tremendous result as a revival
of a certain spirit in the jewish
The future of a nation is on the lap of the
Gods! On the other hand I fully realise that the development of the jewish spiritual
life in the direction of a synthesis of the religious and scientific spirit, if resulting
in original and powerful production, would be an event of greatest importance for
the whole of mankind. If the spiritual future of the jewish people in Palestine and
of humanity in general, lies in that direction, then, I think, the foundation of a de-
partment of jewish philosophy and religious studies at the University of Jerusalem
will certainly contribute towards that result, and may easily become a center of that
I am afraid that I am quite incompetent to express any judgement on your con-
ception of judaism and of its unity in the past: my knowledge in that respect is much
I would only like to say that I understand you to mean that such was
or is judaism in your opinion, and that you hope that such it will be in the future;
but that you do not mean thereby that the teaching and the research of our future pro-
fessors at Jerusalem are to be bound by the orthodox jewish laws or conceptions.
Of course, any such restriction of the freedom of thought would be intolerable (ex-
cept, perhaps, in a frankly theological institute or department) and would defeat
your own purpose—to further a free and creative synthesis of faith and reason.
At the same time I admit that, while given full freedom of thought and teaching
once they are appointed, the lecturers in that department must be chosen, from your
point of view, with a certain caution. I realise that a competent scholar may, at the
same time, lack the spirit on which your hope of a new synthesis of science and
faith is based. The way of solving that difficulty as suggested by yourself seems to
be the simplest: to make the appointment of lecturers for the chairs under consid-
eration conditional upon the approval of a special committee of 3 or 4 scholars who
may be trusted to preserve the proper spirit at that department without insisting too
much on any purely external conditions. Of course the Governing Body of the Uni-
versity should also have a certain amount of control over those appointments.
The special conditions attached to the department as you outlined it make it im-
perative that the latter be established not by the General University Fund (which
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