This article examines the parallel strategies taken by Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) and contemporaries in the Eastern European Lithuanian Talmudic academies to develop modernizing interpretations of Jewish text, tradition, and law. By emphasizing the conceptualism of both philosophical and rabbinic modes of interpretation, I suggest that a common thread of “idealism” can be found in both contexts. By tracing idealism as a reaction to the Wissenschaft des Judentums’s historicization of Judaism, I suggest that Jewish thought in the later nineteenth century, both Western and Eastern European, share a common strategy of not foregoing but rather idealizing historical consciousness in the interpretation of Jewish law and practice.

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