-/AFP/Getty Images
Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa in California, February 10, 1933. -/AFP/Getty Images
Navigate to News section

Einstein in 1945: Thanks for the Matzo

An auction house recently sold a letter typed by Albert Einstein to a New York mazto-maker, in which the theoretical physicist showed some love for unleavened bread

by
Jonathan Zalman
April 15, 2016
-/AFP/Getty Images
Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa in California, February 10, 1933. -/AFP/Getty Images

A cool tidbit landed in my inbox yesterday, regarding the auction of a letter typed by Albert Einstein to Erich Cohn (not the chess player) of A. Goodman & Sons, a matzo-maker in New York, thanking him for the unleavened bread. It reads (translated from the German):

“I thank you cordially for sending your excellent matzo. It is truly the only religious notion that falls on fertile soil with me.”

Check out the letter, dated April 3, 1945, here.

Einstein, of course, aligned with a belief in Spinoza’s God, with “admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order and harmony which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly,” he wrote in a letter in 1947, eight years before his death. (Related: Baruch Spinoza on bread and body.)

I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems.

It seems we may now be able to add to Einstein’s belief system the notion that matzo has the ability to quench taste buds, which I can dig. The mazto letter sold for $7,851.03 to a bidder whose identity was not disclosed.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

Thank you for reading Tablet.

The Jewish world needs a place like Tablet where varying—even conflicting—viewpoints can exist side by side. Our times demand an engagement with big ideas and not a retreat from them. Help us do what we do.