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Emmanuel Rais

Emmanuel Rais

Male 1909 - 1981  (71 years)

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  • Name Emmanuel Rais 
    Born 14 Aug 1909  Hotia, Bessarabia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography Published in "La pensée russe" 4/6/1981
    In remembrance of Emanuel Rais

    E.R. was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met, exceptionally honest, he was a straight man, but not he was not perfect, perfect men do not exist... but a man without malice is very difficult to find. This quality in the man, in the life we have to live becomes an imperfection that caused him many difficulties and disappointments.

    ER did not hide his convictions or his partiality, it was not in his personality, but they did not always coincide with those of his interlocutors, his friends his bosses. Obviously, he was not always right, far from it... but he was sincere in all circumstances. Conversation topics were many considering his universal culture, especially in literature and the arts.

    He was born in Hotia, Bessarabia (in 1909) graduated from Bucharest and Paris Universities. He knew the most important European languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He especially liked Ukrainian and was an expert in Ukrainian literature. He taught Russian literature and philosophy for many years at l'École des Langues Orientales (Eastern languages school) and at the Sorbonne (grand Palais).

    Such knowledge seems unbelievable and even exaggerated and to prove it I will tell you the following story:

    Fifteen years ago, I met one of my friends, the well known professor VL Yankelevitch, philosopher and musicologist - while talking about Rais, he told me the following: When I needed information or a quote, instead of going into my dictionaries to do a research, I used to call Rais and almost always received the needed answer.

    I have known Rais for 40 years; I met him in Lyon and in Grenoble, during the occupation we were both forced to leave Paris. It was in post-war Paris that we had fascinating conversations. What did we speak of, literature, arts and of course also of “cursed” problems that is to say intractable and of course of “politics” He was a rabid anti-communist without any compromise. I only know of one other person like him: VL Karsimov, editor of “Kontinent” where Rais was published. Anything that had a vague smell of communism, even barely detectable, he found unbearable.

    I remember that we had hot discussions about Sartre that Rais rejected as a philosopher and as a writer because of his support for communism -same for Lukacz and J Ellenstein he considered them buccaneers. It was not an empty assertion. He had a fabulous memory and, on the spot with quotes taken from their books, reinforced by Marx and Lenin, he transformed all they had written in a “mixture” of bad quality, destroying even the existentialist and phenomenologist Merleau Ponti for trying to existentialize Marx.

    He behaved like this everywhere but especially in the university environment where he gave classes and conferences. However, all this is an insignificant part of Rais. His essential life and basic meaning - his pain, his passion - was searching for God. He searched for God with his exaltations and falls, with triumph and despair, but always fighting with God and himself. A theme we addressed frequently. So as not to misrepresent his thoughts, here are some quotations from his only little book (104 pages) - book of confessions - “Under the deaf skies”.

    “Within the limits of my experience, I have never known God to have pity, and show ad misericordiam. He never answered my prayer or helped me. Of course if I breathe, I live, I am not ill, I am not hungry I do not sleep under the bridge (homeless)etc. all this is exclusively thanks to God's kindness. If not for God's will, I might have been invalid, blind and homeless ("under the bridges")... However, not even once, God heard my prayer in spite of my fervour. How not doubt faced with such deafness”

    And in the 2 lines before…'A painful search for God'
    And again…'All we say about God is a lie, or becomes a lie as we say it...'

    The only real relations with God are those that we do not dare and do not know how to express aloud. OR God on whom we would be able to rest like on a comforter would not be God. God is the difficulty of finding Him. God is in the fact that He is not where we were looking for Him and on the darken way that we have to follow again without finding Him. That is who God is. For sure, he is not a revelation (they have ceased to exist for a long time in this scary world of ours). But these problems are oppressing and close to each human being whether a believer or not.

    Who is the man who thinking of evil universality - pains, humiliations, frustrations, wars that do not end, has not asked himself those questions, has not hit his head against the walls, has not spent sleepless nights for not only reconcile the “good God” with what happened to his creation, but at least to find a meaning to this apocalypse. “

    These questions tormented Rais his entire life; he refused any loophole or compromise. If the man can think it is certainly not only to build a space craft and atomic bombs but it is also to try and find a meaning to his being alive, to face the “divine emptiness” according to Master Eckhart's expression.

    Rais never accepted ready made clichés, not the “categorical imperatives” and the “theorems” that have been proven for ever. In this way he was close to Kierkegaard and to Rosanov -close to the former because he tried to integrate philosophy to his “tragisme” in his sublime individualism, or so to speak. Close to the latter by his negation of the world of ideas as an aberration above all else, by his religiously carnal approach to life and its problems, that is to say closer to Judaism than to Christianity.

    All this is also in his book, he made desperate efforts to try and pierce heaven's deafness with Jacob's tenacity and force God to hear him. On this alone, a book could be written, and even a whole article, but it is impossibility in within the narrow limits of a small journal, considering it is such a vast topic.

    He was an agitated soul. That is why he loved poetry, and knew thousands of poems, particularly he appreciated Baudelaire (sensibility, not someone else suffering), Blok (the most sensitive musical instrument Tyoutchev (for his unspeakable thoughts that went up to the heavens of the blessed).

    “The spoken thought is a lie” for Rais this sentence was one of the most inspired written by a poet. I remember having heard him say: Why Because within it you can find the greatness of man and also his extinction. Greatness, because with his thinking he can come close to God's aims and powerlessness, because he is incapable of expressing them in the human language. Actually, it is for the best and if all of the sudden, with what he has seen and heard up there, transmitted with words, he would blow out the world.

    And here is Rais back on earth he contends with vigour that a dialogue with God cannot be represented with human words. However, diabolical conversations can in contrast be so represented, it is enough to look around to be convinced - western stupidity, atomic bombs, communism... So this restless uncommon man, begged with all his being the “deaf heavens” whom, in spite of their deafness were always real for him.

    The last months of his live, he was often ill with hypertension, and fragile veins. At the university hospital he became a favourite among physicians and patients, he gave real conferences, discussions on history of cultures starting with the oldest (Persian, Indian, and Chinese) and ending with contemporary cultures, always with a lot of success.

    One could also mention many other conferences, symposia, discussions in various cities and various languages on problems of philosophy, religion and culture and to which Rais was frequently invited, but in a journal article, one is limited.

    I rarely met such a person in my life. He had it all, an exceptional culture, a modesty full of charm, a youthful spontaneity, a fidelity without compromise to his ideals.

    He passed away in Paris on January 28, 1981.

    K Pomerantsev 
    Hebrew Birth 27 Ab 5669 
    Hebrew Death 23 Shv 5741 
    Immigration Yes - date unknown  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Occupation Professor Linguist Slavist 
    Residence Hotia, Bessarabia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence Kiev, Ukraine Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 28 Jan 1981  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I4180  Blank Family
    Last Modified 24 Oct 2011 

    Family Jeanne Klein,   b. 19 Jan 1915, Strasbourg, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Feb 2011, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 96 years) 
    Married 11 Sep 1951  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 8 Jan 2009 
    Family ID F1400  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 14 Aug 1909 - Hotia, Bessarabia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 11 Sep 1951 - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsImmigration - Yes - date unknown - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Hotia, Bessarabia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Kiev, Ukraine Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 28 Jan 1981 - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Immanuel Rais
    Immanuel Rais

    In remembrance of Emanuel Rais
    In remembrance of Emanuel Rais

    In remembrance of Emanuel Rais
    In remembrance of Emanuel Rais

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