Before Akdamot, Before Tzohar, there was…De’ot

One of the most important sources for modern religious thought in Israel during the country’s formative years is De’ot (will someone get to scan the rest of the issues?). This journal, which was published by and for religious students and academics from 1957 to 1982, was the “Akdamot” or “Tradition” of the Israeli Orthodox intelligentsia. The journal covered everything and debated everything – from religious-secular relations to Holocaust education to conflicts between religion and the sciences.

It was on the pages of De’ot that Rabbi Mordechai Breuer first introduced his controversial ‘shitat habehinot’ (see here [scroll down the page] for the article and ensuing debate, as well as his subsequent 1999 debate with Israel Knohl mentioned in the Rav Bin-Nun article). Yishayahu Leibowitz perfected his doctrine separating avodat hashem from much of human thought and reality. A little known but important philosopher named Eliezer Goldman developed categories of thought (albeit far too reductionist for my taste [1]) that would greatly influence the hard left of religious Jewry in Israel (especially the academics).

Yes, Virginia, there were 20th century religious thinkers outside America. If you want to get to know them and their positions – reading De’ot (and Hatzofe) would be a good start.

[1] See Dov Schwartz, “Religious Zionist Thought Against Religious Zionism”, Daat 41 (1998): 47-56 (Hebrew) to understand why.


Hi, my name is Avi Woolf. I'm an American-Israeli MO Jew living in Israel. I have a background in Israeli (as in Land of Israel) and Jewish History and an insatiable need for knowledge. I also have professional experience as an editor, translator and indexer. Enjoy the ride! If you are interested in using my services or just want to drop me a line, contact me at:
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