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Brod, C. (1992). Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. 151 pp... Mod. Psychoanal., 17(1):112-114.

(1992). Modern Psychoanalysis, 17(1):112-114

Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. 151 pp..

Review by:
Carol Brod

In this volume, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, a distinguished professor of Jewish History at Columbia and a participant in the Research Group on the Psychoanalytic Study of Anti-Semitism, brings the “controls of historical and philogical critical methods” and an appreciation of Freud's “conscious intentionality” to this radically enlightening study of Freud's Jewishness and its intimate relationship to the text and meaning of Moses and Monotheism.

According to Yerushalmi, “The difficulty in interpreting Moses and Monotheism is directly related to the difficulty in grasping the nature of Freud's Jewish identity.” There has often been a “glaring disparity” between the “affect-laden expressions” of Freud's Jewishness in his private communications and “the generally guarded, distanced tone to be found in his public pronouncements and published writings.”

Yerushalmi finds Freud's public disclaimers of early Jewish experiences problematic and produces “hints and fragments that challenge the images Freud publicly projected.” Evidence of Freud's knowledge of the Passover Seder ritual, the Fast of the Ninth of Av and of Purim celebrations is clear in his private letters. We know of Jakob Freud's proficiency in Hebrew and Jewish studies and that he tutored his son through the age of seven. Freud's letters reveal his detailed knowledge of biblical passages and concepts, a product partially of Freud's excellent Germanic education but, in addition, a result of his years of study of the Bible, first with his father and later through the study of Jewish history and religion with Samuel Hammerschlag, whom he acknowledged to be a wonderful teacher.

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