The Star of Redemption
FR's monumental work, The Star of Redemption (Der Stern der Erloesung) begins with a critique of contemporary philosophical trends, especially the Hegelian system which was very popular at that time. Philosophy, in the opinion of FR, begins with the fear of death. The motive for knowing eternal truths is to overcome the fear of death. FR is critical of the notion of the ALL as the starting point for cognition. Likewise for Hegel the starting point is "Being." FR's solution is not unity but plurality. The ALL is broken up into three mutually exclusive worlds. These three "elements" which make up the "Ever- Enduring Proto-Cosmos" provide the title of Part I.
Part I. In the first part FR examines the three elements of existence: God, World, Man. The negation of these elements is superseded by the negation of the negation which leads to affirmation. Each element has its own independent existence. One element cannot be deduced from the other.
Part II. In the second part FR moves to discussion of the "paths." The three elements, God, World, Man, do not exist in and of themselves but only in relation, one to another. The paths are eternal processes that link the elements and are creation, revelation, and redemption. In creation the hidden God appears and gives the world reality. In revelation God reveals love to humankind. Humankind overcomes isolation form God and is enabled to speak and to respond. The response to God's revelation is the first commandment, love of God and neighbor. Love of God and neighbor is the beginning of redemption, the third path. Humankind encounters eternity in prayer and in the Jewish liturgical year.
Part III. In the third part FR considers Judaism and Christianity as possibilities for entering the eternal kingdom. In contrast to the other major religions described earlier, Judaism and Christianity both anticipate eternity and are based on love of God and neighbor. It is through ritual and ceremony that they manifest their differences. Also, the Jew is born a Jew. In order to become more of a Jew he or she has to penetrate deeper into the self. The Christian, on the other hand, is born a pagan. In order to become a Christian he or she must be baptized and flee from the self. FR, therefore, concludes that Judaism is a religion of inwardness while Christianity is a religion that sends believers out into the world to win converts to the faith.
Finally, FR presents the Star of David as a picture of reality. Judaism is the inner fire in the heart of the star. Christianity are the rays that emanate from the star. While Judaism is the light, Christianity is that which is lighted. Judaism is the eternal life and Christianity the eternal way.
FR composed The Star of Redemption into the form of a geometric structure to reflect the Star of David as a picture of reality. The work is in three parts each with three books beginning with an introduction and ending with an epilogue or a transitional "gate" into the next book.
Throughout the work there is a narrowing down of world religions to Judaism and Christianity. The Star of Redemption begins with discussion of those religions that partake least in the reality represented by the Star of David, i.e. the Asian religions. It then moves to Islam which is closer to the reality. Finally, it ends with Judaism and Christianity, the two religions that partake in the reality of the Star of David to the greatest degree. No religion represents the entire truth which exists only in God. In the end, Judaism and Christianity only capture a fragmented shape of the Star of David.
Return to main text