Thinking about Judaism: Jacques Maritain and Simone Weil (Italian edition) 

Emanuele Pili read

Pensare l’ebraismo: Jacques Maritain e Simone Weil (Italian Edition) Kindle Edition (Feb. 2022), Emanuele Pili, University of Perugia

Abstract in translation

Against the backdrop of the Second World War, Jacques Maritain and Simone Weil reflected deeply on the nature and relevance of Judaism. If Maritain imagined an unprecedented relationship with Christianity, reading the (in) fidelity of Israel in a Pauline way, Weil hoped for a purification of the West from inauthentic cultural traditions, of which Judaism participated in large part, in search of those ties that preserve the ‘human.’

Emanuele Pili originally interprets two very different souls but united by a strong sense of political responsibility, which led to a commitment to fight against totalitarianism. The first Italian translation of the bases for a statute of French minorities appears in the appendix; it is is one of the most controversial texts in the entire body of works by Simone Weil.



Simone Weil, une Juive antisémite ? (French edition)

Robert Chenavier read

Abstract: A persistent controversy pursues the memory of Simone Weil about the alleged “anti-Semitism” in some of her writings. It is a fact that, within the framework of the spiritual evolution that led Simone Weil to approach Christianity, she made some harsh remarks on the religion of the Hebrews, since her project was to purge the Christian religion of its Jewish imprint  in favor of its Greek component. Can such anti-Hebraism be equated with anti-Semitism? The question continues to surface on a regular basis. Robert Chenavier, who edited the last published volumes of the Works of Simone Weil, methodically takes up the matter, on the basis of his intimate knowledge of the author’s thought, in order to dispel once and for all the fallacies and interpretations that fuel this accusation. He examines, in particular, the text of Simone Weil considered to be the most “anti-Semitic,” which she wrote while in London, this in connection with her work for the Free French. This book will be the definitive work on the subject. {translation adapted from Intelligent Translator app}

Suffering Divine Things: Simone Weil and Jewish Mysticism

Rico Sneller read

To what extent can man suffer God? The verb ‘suffering’ as such is ambiguous, for it can either mean bearing ‘pain’ (‘to suffer from’), or tolerating something. In other words, ‘suffering’ can be both intransitive and transitive. Whereas the first meaning seems to be predominantly passive, the second, while still fairly passive, is more active. In both cases, however, a kind of interpenetration of both ‘parties’ is implied: that which I am suffering is somehow inside me, whether I want it or not. Anyhow, the question, ‘can man suffer God?’, turns out to be in need of clarification before it can be answered at all.

In this contribution, I will study a Jewish author who ‘exchanged’ her Judaism for Christianity: Simone Weil (1909-1943). I will try to see what she writes about suffering God, it being my hypothesis that suffering God is a more adequate notion than the vaguer ‘experiencing’ God. Suffering God, or rather, suffering divine things might be a notion accounting for the conflation of ethical, spiritual, and global dimensions. I will try to shed some light on Simone Weil’s views by relating them to some motives from the Jewish mystical tradition: ‘cosmoeroticism’, kawanna and tsimtsum.

Mahmoud Masaeli, ed., Spirituality and Global Ethics (Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2017), pp. 9-26

Simone Weil

Palle Yourgrau read

Simone Weil, legendary French philosopher, mystic and political activist who died in England in 1943 at the age of thirty-four, belongs to a select group of thinkers: as with St Augustine, Pascal and Nietzsche, so with Weil a single phrase can permanently change one’s life. In this book, Palle Yourgrau follows Weil on her life’s journey, from her philosophical studies at the École Normale Supérieure, to her years as a Marxist labour organizer, her explosive encounter with Leon Trotsky, her abortive attempt to fight against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, her mystical experience in the town of Assisi. We see how Weil’s struggle to make sense of a world consumed by despotism and war culminated in her monumental attempt, following St Augustine, to re-imagine Christianity along Platonistic lines, to find a bridge between human suffering and divine perfection.

How seriously, however, should Weil’s ideas be taken? They were admired by Albert Camus and T. S. Eliot, yet Susan Sontag wrote famously that ‘I can’t imagine more than a handful of the tens of thousands of readers she has won . . . really share her ideas.’ If this is really true, Palle Yourgrau must count as one of the handful. Though he brings to life the pathos of Weil’s tragic-comic journey, Yourgrau devotes equal attention to the question of truth. He shines a bright light on the paradox of Simone Weil: at once a kind of modern saint, and a bête noire, a Jew accused of having abandoned her own people in their hour of greatest need. The result is a critical biography that is in places as disturbing as Weil’s own writings, an account that confronts head-on her controversial critique of the Hebrew Bible, as well as her radical rejection of the received wisdom that the Resurrection lies at the heart of Christianity.

Reaktion Books, 2013

“Contra Simone Weil”

Hans Meyerhoff

in Arthur A. Cohen, ed., Arguments and Doctrines: A Reader of Jewish Thinking in the Aftermath of the Holocaust, New York: Harper & Row