BETWEEN THE RATIONAL AND THE MYSTICAL
IN SOME WORKS OF LAZAR GULKOWITSCH
University of Tartu
Abstract. The article gives a brief introduction to the life of the outstanding scholar Lazar Gulkowitsch who in the 1920s studied in Königsberg and Leipzig and made his scholarly career in the 1930s in Leipzig and Tartu. One of the main topics in the works of Gulkowitsch, starting already with his doctor thesis was dealing with the relation between the rational and the mystical in culture, especially in the Jewish thought. He has managed to deal with the rational elements and nature of manifestations of Jewish religion like Kabbalism, Hasidism or Zaddikism. He was convinced that it lies in the nature of religion to define the indefinable, to try to explain the irrational and to meet the limits of the rational. While the great systems of Jewish thought are handled as religious, i.e. manifestations of the mystical, Gulkowitsch tries to show their rational character. These teachings try to build a logical system of doctrines, but they are aware of their limits, too. The background of his ideas can be explained by the crucial influence of his studies in Königsberg and Leipzig.