This paper introduces a novel concept in Scholem’s early work on translation: the idea of Jewish love. Drawing on close readings of his reflections surrounding his translation of the Yiddish Jiskor anthology (1917/18) and his Song of Songs translation (1915–17), I demonstrate that the theory and practice of translation in Scholem’s early work are inseparable from both his metaphysical conception of the Hebrew language and his linguistic idea of Jewishness. I then argue that in order to fully understand Walter Benjamin’s influence on Scholem’s translation theory, the notion of Jewish love must be taken into account: both Benjmin and Scholem correlate their notions of translation and love, but my comparison shows that their respective language theories lead them to opposite conclusions about the role of love in the act of translation. While Benjamin is interested in translation as a language of love, which is made possible by a general notion of translatability, Scholem concentrates on the untranslatability of Jewishness.
© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston