Aaron Shmuel Tamaret (1869–1931)
in No masters but God
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter is devoted to the life and thought of perhaps the most theologically radical of all the figures considered in this study, R. Aaron Shmuel Tamaret. Like many of his peers here, R. Tamaret studied in elite rabbinic institutions but, despite more prestigious offers, took up a congregational post in a quiet village in Poland. The chapter begins with an examination of his typology of religious phenomena, in which he identifies paganism with de-individuation, distinguishing it from pure faith as the opposing tendency. It then proceeds to present his views on ultra-orthodoxy and Zionism as pagan regressions from pure faith undertaken in response to the supposed tragedy of exile; the one reducing man to God’s arbitrary will, the other reducing man to nationality, territory, and the state. Then, tracing his account of Jewish history from the period of Egyptian slavery through the rise of diaspora Judaism, the chapter demonstrates Tamaret’s understanding of Judaism as realized in the diaspora experience. Namely as a civilization organized around a divinely inspired ethical system organically developed within the popular institution of the beys midrash. Finally, it shows that Jewish chosenness, the Jewish mission to humanity on his interpretation of it, entails spreading precisely this idea by living example. In other words, it is argued that Tamaret’s work is a shining example of theologically grounded anarcho-diasporism.