Recent scholarship on modern Jewish thought has sought to overcome the field’s Germanocentrism by recovering diverse visions of Jewish life across eastern and western Europe. While studies typically emphasize either striking differences or surprising affinities between these settings, I use the neglected eastern European philosopher Nachman Krochmal to highlight a strategy of creative appropriation and redirection—an eastern European strategy of breaking with German-Jewish philosophy precisely by deploying that tradition’s own resources. One of modern Jewish philosophy’s early episodes, I argue, is a politically charged engagement with biblical exegesis involving Krochmal and the German-Jewish thinker Moses Mendelssohn. Implicitly drawing on yet revising the treatment of biblical interpretation in Mendelssohn’s Hebrew writings, Krochmal seeks to retrieve what he sees as a vital element of Jewish politics: possessing neither a shared land nor military strength, he insists, Jews have long sustained their diasporic collective through hermeneutical endeavors such as rabbinic midrash, and they should continue to do so by launching a transnational project of historically sensitive exegesis. The resulting image of a transnational Jewish collective whose fate is separate from that of non-Jewish polities breaks with Mendelssohn’s political vision, pointing to an east-west dynamic of creative repurposing—an instance of an eastern European thinker drawing on a German-Jewish predecessor to develop a sharply contrasting philosophical vision.