The exchange between Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig on the status of halakha is a well known, but also frustrating fixture in scholarship. For rather than responding to Rosenzweig’s critique, Buber seems to retreat in silence, claiming to be “unable to speak” about his position on Jewish Law. Scholars have generally tried to explain Buber’s failure to respond on philosophical and biographical grounds. What I propose, by contrast, is to revisit the question of Buber’s silence and secrecy from a hermeneutical standpoint, arguing that Buber engaged in a deliberate strategy of concealment that constituted its own form of response. The hermeneutics of silence discloses a call for religious renewal that follows a state of Dialogvergessenheit, but which cannot be made audible. Neither dialogue nor its remembrance can be commanded. While Buber struggles with his Nichtredenkönnen, he also stands in a tradition of secretive hermeneutics – the Jewish hermeneutics of sod.
Naharaim is a peer-reviewed journal of the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Centre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is devoted to current research in philosophical, literary, and historical aspects of German-Jewish culture. The contributions are mainly in German or English.