Ecclesia Militans

"Ecclesia Militans," Judische Rundschau, Vol. 30, No. 36 (May 8, 1925).  Reprinted in Gesammelte Schriften: Band 2.  Reprinted in Leo Strauss: The Early Writings.


The Jewish Church–as, here and elsewhere, we refer to the separatist Orthodoxy of Frankfurt–is on the offensive.  This fact is of interest to us, but it does not frighten us.  We know all too well that not all offensives succeed.  Perhaps the attack of the Orthodox will run aground on the barbed wire fences in front of our position, so that it may not even be necessary for us to defend the front line, let alone to call for a retreat.  As long as we keep cool heads and strong hearts, the evil old enemy will pose no danger to us.  His cruel armor is the joyful rough-and-ready of his rhetoricians, who surmount obstacles of logic by means of enthusiasm.  It is because of the Jewish heart that one does not stand very firm against this sort of impudence.

Let us cast another glance at the arms [Wehr und Waffen] of our enemy, our fiercest and most vicious enemy.  First, with regard to his war objective–and forgive me for all the saber-rattling images, but the situation forces them upon us; besides, they lend our enemy’s operations a more pleasant sense than they deserve–it is: submission of the Jewish people to the Torah.  This objective can be realized without a fight once the existence of God and the divine provenance of the Torah have been acknowledged.  Now, the weapon, or the trick, of Orthodoxy is to try to force the acceptance of this demand, without first having to obtain the acknowledgment of its dogmatic presuppositions.  One is compelled to resort to this trick because the acknowledgment of these dogmas could never be obtained from the majority of contemporary Jewry.

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