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September 28, 1984 - Image 76

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-09-28

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Friday, September 28, 1984



Continued from preceding page

repayment should not be oblig-
In the jokes of the Jewish mar-
riage broker Oring notes a conflict
between Freud's sexual life and
his scientific creativity. He was
hostile to his wife's Orthodox ori-
gins and to religious rituals — so
much so that he reportedly con-
sidered conversion rather than
participate in a Jewish ceremony.
Typical of the low esteem in
which the Eastern Jew was held,
the Ostjude, is the following: A
Jew, noticing some residual food
on his neighbor's beard, re-
marked: "I know that you ate len-
tils yesterday." To which came the
reply: "Wrong, the day before yes-
A real appreciation of Freud's
humor encompasses some under-.
standing of the political and social
milieu of the 19th Century. Some
of the intellectual and profes-
sional Jews who left the ghetto

"The Jokes of
Sigmund Freud: A
Study in Humor and
Jewish Identity," by
Elliott Oring,
University Press.


were surprised that they were
still regarded as aliens, and that
even conversion did not grant
them the "admission ticket" they
sought. The psychic struggles of
men like Felix Mendelssohn,
Kafka, Herzl, and Freud cannot
be overemphasized. In 1893, even
Herzl had a fantasy of mass con-
version that he voiced to his two
editors (both assimilated Jews).
They rejected the proposal out-
Under the liberal Franz Joseph,
Freud too was hopeful of great op-
portunities. However, in 1890, a
manifesto by the students from
the Viennese University stated:
"Every son of a Jewish mother is
without honor and refined emo-
tion. He is dirty and ethically
subhuman . . . A Jew cannot be
What was more shocking was
the wave of self-hatred rampant
at the time. In 1880 a Viennese
slogan was "Anti-Semitism did
not succeed until Jews began to
sponsor it." The malady of self-
hatred affected many of Freud's
colleagues. The Viennese Louis
Friedman refused to have chil-
dren so that "Jewish blood flowing
in his veins may not be propa-
gated." Otto Weininger, a bril-
liant scholar, was so frustrated
after his conversion that he com-
mitted suicide a year later.
We take note of Freud's own
statement: "I was born May 6,
1856. My parents were Jewish,
and I have remained a Jew my-
self." Despite some surface obser-
vation that points to this as affir-
mation of his identity, the phras-
ing reveals his inner struggle.
The use of the word "remains" is
indicative of prior doubt and ir-
resolution. Apparently his
Jewishness loomed as a handicap

to becoming professor. Though he
affirmed his Jewishness and was
a member of the B'nai B'rith, he
never took an active role in
Jewish life, never actively favored
Zionism, never accepted an invi-
tation to visit Israel. He remained
in Vienna until he was
humiliated by the Nazis and ran-
somed by Marie Bonaparte.
His book on "Moses and
Monotheism," in London, 1939,
devastated world Jewry in their
darkest period. Freud identified
himself with Moses — not the son
of the Hebrews, but the son of roy-
alty. He not only denied the Jews
the kinship of Moses, the primacy
of monotheism and circumcision,
but assigned to the Jews the
Christian myth of deicide by the
Jews "killing Moses." The theme
was not a revolutionary scientific
discovery that demanded the light
of day even in the Hitler era. It
was at best theoretical conjecture.
The author notes some
similarities between Freud and
Herzl, both founders of new
movements. Oring also notes
similarities between
psychoanalysis and religion in
their zeal and enthusiasm. One
may add to this their intolerance
of those who will not accept their
full doctrine. While Judeo-
Christian doctrine asks you to
atone for your sins,
psychoanalysis confronts guilt at
its source and by sheer intellec-
tual honesty attempts to mitigate

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year


Best Wishes for a
Happy, Healthy
New Year
Daniel T. Murphy

Oakland County Executive

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year




Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year





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