November 11, 2020
Redemption in Judaism is typically thought of as an historical and eschatological category: God has redeemed Israel in the past and will do so again in the future. Although this dipolar understanding of redemption has been dominant in Judaism, forms of actualized redemption have also found expression in which Jews, either individually or communally, secure a positive redemptive status in the present. This article focuses on the peculiar fact that Franz Rosenzweig and Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik both include an actualized component within their theories of redemption. After brief consideration of Kierkegaard as a potential source for their accounts of actualized redemption, I explore how actualized redemption fits into Rosenzweig’s and Soloveitchik’s larger thought and consider their philosophical and theological motivations for conceiving of redemption as achievable. In the concluding section of the paper, I critique Rosenzweig’s and Solovetchik’s accounts of actualized redemption and suggest that Abraham Joshua Heschel’s and Eliezer Berkovits’ alternative theological anthropologies that emphasize the cultivation of holiness circumvent some of the problems I associate with actualized redemption.