A report by the former head of London’s Sephardi Beth Din explaining why Jews should not reverse the excommunication of Spinoza has finally been made public.
The 2012 verdict, by Amsterdam’s chief rabbi Haham Dr. Pinchas Toledano (pictured), lists several reasons why not to overturned Amsterdam’s Jewish community, which judged the world famous philosopher persona non grata 356 years ago.
Foremost among them, said Toledano, was the concern that it would look bad if today’s Jewish leaders appeared to share his beliefs.
“The moment we rescind the herem [excommunication], even if we could, it would imply that we share his heretic views,” wrote Toledano.
“To him, the Law of Moses was not divine and no longer relevant after the destruction of the Jewish state. To him there was no God, except in a philosophical sense. How on earth can we remove the herem from a person with such preposterous ideas?”
Online, there were several wry comments left in response to the article, including one by a user called ‘Josh’ who wrote: “I am fairly confident that Spinoza does not care one way or another.”