FREUD'S MOSES: Judaism Terminable and Interminable

Yosef H. Yerushalmi

Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression was first presented as a lecture at the 1994 London colloquium "Memory: The Question of Archives." Derrida dedicated his lecture to Yerushalmi, whose book FREUD'S MOSES: Judaism Terminable and Interminable, Derrida described as a treasure of Freud's archives. I will examine the intersections between Archive Fever and Freud's Moses.

1) Lawmakers and Archives. Derrida expounds on those elements in Yerushalmi's text which deal with the law/law makers who have created and who maintain the archives. He cites as his example the inscription written in the family Bible by Freud's father to Freud to mark the beginning of Freud's middle years in 1891. Derrida focusses on specific words in this short text as a point of departure: seventh in the days, excavated, lawmakers, srk, cover of a new skin, memorial and a reminder, archival law.

2) A Freudian Impression: 1) Impression as scriptural or typographic: Mystic pad, 2) Impression as a notion: archive as a notion or concept 3) The impression left by Freud, that left in him, inscribed in him at his birth

Selected Yale University Press reviews:

Yerushalmi presents Freud's Moses and Monotheism--, Freud's only work specifically devoted to a Jewish theme, as Freud's psychoanalytic history of the Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish psyche -- his attempt, under the shadow of Nazism, to discover what has made the Jews what they are.

' this 'godless Jew' perceived his historical situation. Moses and Monotheism is shown to be a fable of identity 'the Jewish romance with German civilization' from its hopeful beginning in the Enlightenment to its dark end in the Hitler years.'--Geoffrey Hartman, Yale University

'...the question of his Jewish identity, the Oedipal relationship between Christianity and Judaism, to Freud's penchant for making symbolic identifications with mythical heroes...'

"An elegant, suggestive, subtle examination of Freud's preoccupation with a historical figure who resembled himself in interesting ways.'--New York Times Book Review

'...not as a repudiation of his Jewish identity, but as an examination of Jewish history and what it means to be a Jew.'

'Freud cannot be understood without consideration of his age and his society, the brilliant achievement and conflicted existence of Jews in Central Europe before World War II. Yerushalmi discusses this background ably, as well as Freud's emotional and intellectual biography and the issue of psychoanalysis as a `Jewish science'. Yet, the crux of the book comes . . . in the final chapter, when the author addresses his subject directly. . . . It is a dramatic, even anguished conclusion to a profound and witty book.'--Judith M. Amory, Wilson Library Bulletin

'Shrewd, scrupulously researched. . . . Yerushalmi has a wonderful eye for the assemblage of prooftexts from Freud's writings and obiter dicta."--Robert Alter, Commentary

"Deeply interesting and ably-argued. . . . The letters and family documents brilliantly discussed by Yerushalmi show beyond doubt Freud's deep attachment [to Judaism]."--Hyam Maccoby, imes Higher Education Supplement

"In this thoughtful, elegant, lucid, and affectionate study, Yerushalmi does Freud the honor of reading the book [Freud's Moses and Monotheism] carefully as meaning what Freud claimed it to be: a bold reconstruction of two mysteries of Western thought, namely, the rise of monotheism and the singularity of the Jews."--Volney P. Gay, Psychoanalytic Books: A Quarterly Journal of Reviews

"By way of a final tour de force we are invited to listen in on Yerushalmi's imaginary `monologue with Freud'. . . . This final chapter constitutes a powerful, eloquent denunciation of anti-Semitic attacks on psychoanalysis as a `Jewish science'. . . . A fascinating record of research and a substantial contribution to the literature on Freud's theories of the origins of religion."--David Maier, AJR Information [Assn of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain]

'Yerushalmi's study has become the new baseline for studies of Freud."--Sander I. Gilman, Journal of the History of Medicine'

"With exquisite skill Yerushalmi follows a slim trail of psychological and textual clues to highly plausible conclusions. The result . . . is polished and persuasive."--Haim Chertok, Hadassah Magazine

"Presumably Yerushalmi, who has written a book on Jewish historical memory, has in mind less the preponderance of Jews in the profession than the nature of both Judaism and psychoanalysis as unique disciplines of remembrance, but rather than expatiate on this last thought, he casts its nucleus into our minds and leaves its ripples to spread there."--Hillel Halkin, Jerusalem Report

"[Yerushalmi] provides a reappraisal of Freud's feelings toward anti-Semitism and the gentile world, his ambivalence about psychoanalysis as a 'Jewish' science, his relationship to his father, and above all a new appreciation of the depth and intensity of Freud's identity as a 'godless Jew.'"--Menorah Review [no reviewer]


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