T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIE W, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 160–164 ABRAHAM S OCHER Oberlin College ON ‘‘SAINTS A ND SAINTLINESS’’ ( 1905) S OME T IME A RO UND 1903 Solomon Schechter was provoked by a woman, whom he somewhat archly described as ‘‘a lady of the Jewish persuasion, of high culture and wide reading.’’ She had remarked that Judaism is the only one among the great religions which has never produced a saint, and that there is, indeed, no room in it for that ele- ment of saintliness which, in other creeds, forms the goal the true believer endeavors to reach. (p. 148) That, at least, is the conceit with which he opened his essay ‘‘Saints and Saintliness,’’ originally delivered as a public lecture at the Jewish Theo- logical Seminary in 1905. Let us grant the conceit. After all, Schechter probably had such a con- versation, if not in New York, then perhaps earlier in London or Cam- bridge. Whether it happened or not, Schechter presents his interlocutor as here as a social-intellectual type, a devotee of what he elsewhere calls the ‘‘shallow Enlightenment.’’ The ‘‘great virtue’’
Jewish Quarterly Review – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jun 22, 2016
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