In this podcast Eric Cohen and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik speak about two artistic geniuses whose works highlight Jews’ humanity on the one hand and other-worldliness on the other: the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn and the novelist J.R.R. Tolkien.
Framed by Soloveichik’s essay, “Rembrandt’s Great Jewish Painting” (Mosaic, June 2016), the discussion begins with an exploration of the great Dutch painter’s beautiful efforts to depict the humanity of Jews and the Jewishness of biblical scenes.
In contrast, it is the miraculous nature of the Jewish people, rather than their humanity, that J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings brings out, which Soloveichik argues in “The Secret Jews of the Hobbit” (Commentary, August 2016). Many secular and American Jews are uncomfortable with this side of their identity, and so Soloveichik thinks they can learn something important from the Catholic author’s presentation of the Jewish people as a miraculous people—a trait that remains true today.
This conversation is an episode of the Tikvah Podcast.
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