Athens and Jerusalem in Levinas’s Difficult Freedom

In Levinas’s thinking, the face is more than phenomenon and the I is touched before it gives meaning. The face obliges and resists my possession, it is instruction, pulling me out of myself. The subject is awakened and moved by the Other. These insights into Levinas’s philosophy run parallel with what he writes in his Jewish essays, which contain the divine command, “Thou shalt not kill”, and an approach of the I as “called”. In his inclusive thinking, Levinas confronted philosophy, “Greek” thought, with “Hebrew” thought: there is a “Hebrew” dimension in his “Greek” writings. At the same time, “Greek” is present in his “Hebrew” writings. This article focuses on the “Greek” dimension in Levinas’s Difficult Freedom as a part of his “confessional” writings.1

Although Levinas’s Jewish writings greatly differ from the professional ones, they have also much in common. Both writings express a beyond that transforms the I into an animated being, and shed light on the loftiness of an existence in humble service of the Other. Susan Handelman has noted that all of Levinas’s key philosophical ideas are found in the Jewish writings.2 Indeed, many terms and ideas of Levinas’s ethical metaphysics return in his Talmudic readings and Jewish essays. Vice versa, the philosophical writings contain words that stem from the Jewish heritage, such as the declaration “Here I am”, or the command “Thou shalt not murder”.

Robert Gibbs has observed that the Jewish dimension of Levinas’s work has been largely ignored, or honored by a mention and then ignored.3 Sure, Levinas did not see himself as a Jewish theologian, but he was a Jewish thinker whose texts on Judaism and Talmud run parallel with his philosophical works. I would not insist on this point if some interpreters of Levinas’s philosophy did not tend to minimize or even deny any correlation between the Jewish and the philosophical writings. The Jewish aspect of his thought has not received appropriate attention. Scholars such as Catherine Chalier, David Banon or Shmuel Wygoda revealed the importance of Levinas’s thought for the understanding of Judaism today.4 One has indeed to assign to Levinas an eminent place in the pantheon of contemporary Jewish thinkers. But, until now, no encompassing work has been written on Levinas’s Jewish texts and their relevance for his philosophy. This is surprising, since in both types of his writings, Levinas points to real human transcendence in the ethical relation to the non-assumable Other.

The essays in Difficult Freedom contain Levinas’s view of Judaism. Levinas continues to speak “Greek”, of course, not as explicitly as in the professional writings. He does not speak the language of the pious or of the theologian, but nor does he speak the unequivocal language of the philosopher. He wanted to receive Yafet in the tents of Shem. The tradition of Athens is in service of the tradition of Jerusalem as “wisdom for love”.5 The logic of the Greek brings an understanding between human beings, but one must agree to speak. For Levinas, the obliging Divine word makes Greek universalism possible.6 In philosophical terms: the obsession by the Other precedes consciousness and reason. Ethical openness comes before the universal, philosophical discourse. Dialogue or better address precedes logic. In this manner, Levinas writes that philosophy “derives from religion”.7 He places Jerusalem before Athens, without forgetting Athens.

Difficult Freedom reformulates religious life in terms of an answer to the demand of the Other, which opens the perspective of the infinite. The book discusses general themes concerning religion and ethics, but also specific Jewish themes such as sacred history, election and Messianism.

In the first article, Levinas writes that for a long time Jews thought that religious situations gained their spiritual importance from ethical relations. When Judaism entered the community of nations in the nineteenth century, moralism was perceived as the raison d’être of Jews. Jewish atheists joining the liberal and social movements testify to a religious tradition of a demanding justice. On the other hand, the Jew, who had just entered the general world and had begun to use the language and thought of the surrounding world, was already opposed to it.

Further along the article, Levinas writes about the face of the Other resisting the grasp; and thus about the necessity of breaking away from violence through conversation, establishing face-to-face contact. All these themes are, of course, eminently present in the philosophical writings. Conscience is defined as the ethical impossibility of murder, and religion should not be conceived differently. The Other is not known, he is saluted. Looking at a look is being confronted by a demand. The Other “regards you”, his eyes as the most exposed part of the body are unprotected. Yet they resist possession. They demand: “Thou shall not kill” — positively: Perform social justice. The themes of language, of the face, from which one receives a command, and of the Other who is not known, are all central in Totality and Infinity.

The second text in Difficult Freedom is the famous article “A Religion for Adults”. From the outset, Levinas writes on human autonomy, based upon supreme heteronomy. Judaism as a particularity promoting universalism disenchants the world. Instead of the numinous and sacred violently transporting man beyond his own power and will, it stresses the freedom and rationality of the human being. Philosophy is akin to the non-violent rationality of Judaism.

As is well known, every detail in Judaism finally expresses for Levinas the ethical: Justice brings the human being closer to God. As a good Lithuanian Jew, he stresses education, which is instruction; the ignorant cannot really be pious. Moreover, there is only recognition of the face of the Other when difficult rules are set upon one’s own nature. Ritual law is “the rigorous discipline tending towards this justice”. For Levinas, the originality of Judaism lies in the combination of much goodness and much legalism.

Of course, one has to be careful not to draw too many parallels between Levinas’s philosophy and his Jewish writings. Not like in his philosophical writings where “God” is the always far away Illeity — the infinite suggested in the face of the Other — Levinas writes about God’s “presence”, that is felt in relationship with human beings. Yet, again, as in his philosophy, where service to the Other is not servitude, the contact with an exterior voice does not compromise a human being’s sovereignty. Levinas explains that the selfconsciousness is inseparable from the consciousness of justice and that by relating to the Other, one relates to God. To bring about a just society is an eminently religious act. The implementation of such a society is Jewish Messianism.

In Levinas’s understanding of Judaism, election is not a privilege, but a responsibility; it is the nobility of entering into an unequal relationship. Moral conscience is thus consciousness of election. This position, “apart from the nations”, is for Levinas realized in Israel, which is first of all a moral category.

One of the strong characteristics of Judaism for Levinas, is that before landscapes and towns, the Jew discovers man. The world becomes, in Jewish perspective, intelligible in the human face, not in houses, temples and bridges. In all his writings, Levinas celebrates this exilic situation. Moreover, he maintains that morality creates freedom from history, a right to judge history. Anonymous history does not have the right of judgment.8

It would be easy to continue and point to the presence of other philosophical notions in Difficult Freedom. So, for instance, the notion of the uniqueness of the subject as responsibility for the Other, the concept of a humanizing Law, or the “miracle of exteriority”, in which man is capable of listening to what comes from outside.

All the articles in Difficult Freedom deal with Judaism as an ethical experience. In his philosophy, too, duty as infinite duty is central. Through the answer “Here I am” to the unlimited appeal of the Other, one testifies to the infinite. In Levinas’s writing on the prophets and again in his philosophy, the access to the “face” means access to the idea of God, because the relationship to the infinite remains a “Desire” that challenges the sovereignty of the ego. There is fear of God in the fear of the Other. The ethical demand is also the basis for Jewish tolerance, which bears the weight of the others. This tolerance is for Levinas Jewish and profoundly human. Jewish identity is patience and the fatigue of a responsibility, a stiff neck that — like Atlas — supports the universe.

Difficult Freedom contains a particular concept of God as ha-Qadosh, the Holy / the separated, which one also finds in Levinas’s general writings. The God of Israel who is separated, permits man’s freedom. Direct contact with Him is absent; the mediation of reasons and of a teaching, of the Torah, is required. In this way, a place is created for consciousness and knowledge. The idea of a God who does not forgive in place of the other man is parallel with the Cartesian idea of the infinite, much appreciated by Levinas. God is not powerful, but powerless, His kenosis is the humility of leaving His trace in the Other, without forcing man to respond. This leaves man with his entire responsibility for creating a world beyond the necessary political, social and economic organization. In this manner, man becomes responsible for the infinite and God’s humility appears to be greater than His greatness.

In Levinas’s interpretation of the Jewish tradition, God comes to the mind in the wrinkles of the face, in the face that cries for help and reminds me of my infinite responsibility. In the never-ending movement of the Other’s demand, infinity comes to the mind. The only thing one “knows” about God is that He commands, but His commandment comes before my hearing of His voice. Something prior to my consciousness awakens my consciousness. God causes my non-indifference, brings me into contact with the other man. The idea of God comes to the mind when the Other affects me, before I answer his demand for help.

Also Levinas’s concepts of freedom and holiness of man as they are discussed in the articles in Difficult Freedom, return in his philosophy. For Levinas, man is a free, separated being and — as we noted — his self-consciousness is immediately consciousness of the moral self. “Holy” is the person who is more attached to the being of the Other than to his own. Holiness is man’s proximity to the Other. This approach to holiness runs parallel with Levinas’s protest against the Heideggerian myth of nature in which man’s uniqueness stems from reflecting the Being, and not from his being touched by the Other.

The preeminent Jewish type of the Pharisee establishes contact with God without merging with God. Through his study of Torah, he listens to what comes from the outside. But is not every man called upon to combine love and Law? Judaism appears here as pioneer of a mature humanity.

Also the idea of election, which is expressed in the articles, returns in Levinas’s philosophy. Israel’s election far from contradicting universalism, is a function of it. Being elected is not consciousness of exceptional rights, but of exceptional tasks: it is the prerogative of moral conscience itself. The Jewish concept of election, far from being anterior to a universalism, where all differences are blotted out, includes this abolition of differences as a condition, yet is indispensable to it. Also in Levinas’s philosophy, the I is “elected”.

In Difficult Freedom Levinas uses the language of Shem, but also that of Yafet. He speaks “Greek” in his “Hebrew”. Nonetheless, this “Greek” speech on a disturbance in the I and on an asymmetrical relationship is not far from the “Hebrew” one, in which Levinas talks about a transcendent God and about man as “creature”. Although he does not entirely succeed, he avoids using mere theological language.

Levinas makes the ancient Jewish texts “speak”, making them relevant for today. This is much more than actualization or apologetics.9 For Levinas, “Hebrew” requires “Greek”, philosophical reasoning. I agree with Robert Gibbs, who maintains that the best reading of “Hebrew” for Levinas is the one in “Greek”, in a universal language.10 Yet, another, more colorful and metaphoric language is possible in which many things come into expression that are repressed and forgotten in the universal language. If this Semitic, polysemic, particular language is critical towards the universal “Greek” one, the study of it becomes important and vital for “Greek” itself.

In his confessional writings, Levinas opened up Judaism to philosophy. He thought that philosophy as universal discourse and rational Judaism were not far from each other. Nevertheless, in Judaism, something comes to the fore that is not to be subsumed in the universal discourse. In his professional writings, on the other hand, Levinas wanted a philosophy that becomes “other”. He put “Hebrew” in the Greek discourse, leaving something untranslatable in the language in which everything is translated.

In Levinas’s view, philosophy is not a humble servant to a religion, which offers answers for everything and comfort for everybody. Neither is religion “aufgehoben”, taken into account and neutralized in philosophy. God is linked to “difficult freedom”. Levinas conceived Judaism as the prototype of a disturbance in the I that does not allow the withdrawal from the responsibility for the Other. Judaism at its best is an invitation to listen to what is always exterior to totality, exterior to what cannot be synthesized. The Jewish experience of the Other precedes and informs Levinas’s philosophy. Judaism is the message of the I as “host” and even as “hostage”, it is the anti-Odysseus movement of Abraham, which implies not being rooted, but being transplanted in the realm of the Other. Not at home, anti-identitarean, the bearers of the Law are the contrary of the same, they are the opposite of a force qui va. They distance themselves from the once and for all accomplishment of the infinite in the finite and recall the disproportionality of the infinite in the finite. They dynamically represent a protest against the fullness of redemption here and now, because they remain in hope for the wholly other that is yet to come. In an anti-totalizing move, Abraham set off from Ur never to return; he listens to a voice, which opens a future unknown, unseen and unforseeable. He goes to u-topy, to the non locus, to what has never been there, to what is absent and still approachable. Levinas’s Jewish thought testifies to this positive absence. In the twentieth century that saw totalitarisms and the Shoah, he reinterprets Judaism as a rupture of totality, as suspicious of the ideological, nationalist and imperialist totalities that endanger the human being. Judaism is a being moved by the Other causing a move out of the self.

In the philosophical landscape of France, Levinas was one of the philosophers who was not afraid of using the word “God”. In all of his writings, he linked the term to what unsettles the settled I and brings it out of himself. “God” is what makes possible the exodus of the I out of the sameness as the land of slavery. Being a religious person comes to being vulnerable and exposed, to the point of substitution. The eminently religious act consists in the welcoming of the Other who modifies the same. Religion itself is interestingly defined as the relationship between the same and the Other without totality. In a time that Marx, Nietzsche and Freud buried God, after Nietzsche’s solemn declaration of the “death of God”, Levinas again spoke about Him, or better towards Him, à-Dieu. The I may become a pure present for the Other. This pure welcoming asks, however, for organization, which can potentially oppress the Other, but also guarantees the rights of the Other man. Peace is higher than truth, proximity higher than knowledge; at the same time, peace and proximity ask for truth and knowledge that remain under the scepter of ethics.

Levinas’s God is not the big eye that sees and is himself unseen. He is not the pro-vidence that foresees all. He is rather the unforeseeable, the invisible that is to be approached, and not seen, in proximity to the Other. The other man is, so to say, the “apple of His eye”. “God” is the unlimited in my limited world, the infinity in my finite enclosedness, linked to the always exterior, to the not representable call that brings me out of myself. He is not contaminated by being; He “is” not; He is otherwise than being, which is not being otherwise. God’s name, which is not to be pronounced, points to His absolute transcendence. In my move towards the Other, this name is at stake.

One could object that one has to separate the philosophical discourse from other ways of talking. Yet these different languages, although distinguished, are also linked to each other in a subtle manner. One cannot put aside Levinas’s pre-philosophical Jewish experiences that are the Sitz im Leben of his philosophy. In Ethics and Infinity, Levinas maintained that the biblical and the philosophical thinking are not contradictory. The texts of the great philosophers and their interpretation are close to the Bible and its multiple interpretations. Levinas never used biblical verses as an argument in his philosophical discourse. Yet, the God of the Bible remains for him in philosophy the criterion of the spirit. Levinas explicitly states that philosophy is not the place of the original significance of human existence.11

Scholarly works on Levinas did not sufficiently investigate what was the exact nature of the relationship between Judaism and philosophy in his writings. Whereas others excluded biblical thinking from thinking, Levinas brings both together. The experience of the meeting with the Other, who is always at distance, is the experience of the ab-solute, of the separated, of the holy. Biblical thinking is thus seen by Levinas as a source of thinking. His ethical metaphysics runs parallel with his thinking about Abraham, who leaves his country forever to go to a still unknown land.

Levinas’s translation of the message of Jerusalem in terms of Athens is not merely the formulation of the terms of the religious discourse in those of a secular, rational discourse for all mankind. He reflects upon a life that is exemplarily universal and as such important for philosophy itself. Levinas connected the Saying of ethics with the said of philosophy. Every translation is a treason, but nevertheless necessary. There is a clear relationship between Levinas’s pre-philosophical experience and the conceptual thinking. “Hebrew” and “Greek”, ethics and cognition, are different languages, but not without relation. In his philosophical work, Levinas tries to formulate something that is not adequately expressible in the logical terms of reason, he formulates otherness in terms of sameness.

One cannot fully understand the professional writings without linking them to the confessional ones. True, Levinas took great care not to publish his confessional writings in the same publishing house as the professional writings. Yet, in his entire œuvre, Athens and Jerusalem fructify each other. Marie-Anne Lescourret has observed that the connection between the Jewish and the philosophical sources of Levinas’s œuvre does not always justify Levinas’s own will to publish his different texts separately.12

In an interview with Shlomo Malka, who asked Levinas concerning the relationship between his philosophical œuvre and his “religious” works, Levinas answered that he would not be the historian of his own philosophy.13 He nevertheless added that in his philosophical work there are “memories of an experience that is not rigorously intellectual” and that, in the end, one has to come to the universal language of “Greek”. Levinas endeavored to “enounce in Greek the principles Greece did not know”.14 He built a philosophy and a Jewish thought that make explicit a life to which Jewish singularity witnesses. Levinas’s is a loyalty simultaneously toward “Greek” and “Hebrew”. He opens up the philosophical rationality toward a source of thinking that is long ignored. He never wanted to “harmonize” or “conciliate”.15 Philosophy is not the locus of the first meaning, the place where meaning starts.16 This place or non-place is the signifyingness of ethics as opening to the other man, ethics that shines in the founding documents of Jewish tradition. Levinas sheds his philosophical light on this ethics, called an “optics” in both of his writings.17

Should one not take Rabbi Akiva as seriously as Plato? Levinas thought that the religious meaning of Talmudic texts is “not only transposable into a philosophical language, but refers to philosophical problems”. He claims that “the thought of Doctors of the Talmud proceeds from a meditation that is radical enough also to satisfy the demands of philosophy”.18 The Talmudic texts as the basic texts of Jewish wisdom discuss problems with philosophical significance. There is even an advantage in the language of the Sages, since “ideas do not become fixed by a process of conceptualization which would extinguish many of the sparks dancing beneath the gaze riveted upon the Real”.19 Contrary to Hegel, Levinas was convinced that Judaism was not to be surpassed by philosophy. Jewish wisdom would even have advantages over the “Greek” one.

The philosophical movement out of the anonymous “Being” that masters the Dasein was paralleled with Levinas’s rediscovery of what the West “forgot” and “repressed”: the being-for-the-Other, attested to in the writings of Bible and Talmud. His metaphysics was born in the need for a thought that would remind philosophy of what was frequently “forgotten”. The message of the Talmud as the eminent Jewish library, which was often burned, remained in the minds of great masters from whose humanity the West may learn. Levinas rediscovered the importance of the message of Jerusalem for Europe. He formulated this message in the non-metaphoric language of Greece. It remains difficult, but necessary, to formulate eminent otherness that escapes objective description in the language of sameness. “Greek” language itself had for Levinas its source in the Saying, which transcends every said.

The French professor was at the same time a great Jew whose life was “dominated by the presentiment and the memory of the Nazi horror”20 and who reflected upon his tradition in which he discovered the humanism of the other man. The ancient Babylonian Academies were for him not less important than the Academy of Athens.

Humanism and Judaism were not opposed, nor were they harmonized. Levinas saw Judaism as a kind of corrective of a humanism that considered freedom as the highest value and forgot to talk about responsibility as the foundation of freedom itself. In its difficult freedom, Judaism has a special contribution to humanity. Levinas expressed in his entire œuvre the truth of an inescapable responsibility. He revealed how Jewish life in so far as it is welcome of the Other is a particularity that makes universality more human, by introducing the ideas of an election, which makes a human being unique, and of a God whose infinity ruptures the totality of the same.

All this influenced his philosophical thinking, in which he attempted to formulate that otherness is never to be contained in the same. Levinas’s philosophy of engagement toward the Other and solidarity with him, is nurtured by his pre-philosophical Jewish experience. There is no clash between philosophy and the “Saying” that stems from the Other’s face. The ethical approach of the Other and the demand for holiness are two types of speech that refer to each other in a complex and refined dialogue. When I interviewed Levinas in 1992, he told me that one has to know how to translate.

Levinas, a master in translating, was the first to disclose in modern times the relevance of Talmudic thinking for the world at large. He opened up the Jewish world to philosophy and was well aware of the problem of a “Greek” translation that does not adequately render “Hebrew”, which respects the disproportion between the signifier and the signified. He traveled between Jerusalem and Athens, for the great benefit of each of these cultures. It is an act of great peace to bring different worlds and languages together, in “hospitality”. Levinas could talk easily in the universal language of Greece about a way of life that is not exclusively Jewish, but nevertheless eminently so.

Against an entire philosophical tradition in which the Other is leveled down, “known”, Levinas — living in the Jewish tradition — introduced a new approach to the Other. This approach is well documented or better, testified to in the Jewish literature. The Other in Jewish tradition and in Levinas’s ethical metaphysics, does not ask to be known, but to be greeted, with “Grüss Gott” and “à-Dieu”.

Although he was conscious that justice was also present outside organized religious life and even that religious people often confused their own interests with the divine concern, Levinas uncovered the fundamentally ethical dimension in the Talmudic texts, where different opinions were “woven” together in one “texture”. He found in the complex thoughts uttered in these texts the lofty idea of an election for unending responsibility. The Talmudic texts would reveal that ethics precede truth and that recognition and testimony are higher than cognition and logics. The facing of the face, of which the texts testify, was presented by Levinas as the way of escaping an anonymous, cruel and faceless world. What came to expression in the ancient Jewish texts was for him a matter that he also wanted to discuss in a philosophical manner.

Levinas does not consider the Jewish heritage as something entirely untranslatable and idiomatic. True, the Jewish tradition is singular, yet, it is a singularity that fructifies universalism. Levinas argues that nothing in the Jewish tradition is less than at the universal level. The Jewish heritage is more than universal, it is an excess to this universality, a surplus of which universality is in need of. Jews are pioneers in rupturing totality. Judaism is first of all hospitality. To be a Jew is to become a stranger to yourself, even in your own land in order to listen to an ever-exterior voice. Levinas’s double panel of Jewish and philosophical thinking is a challenge and urgent invitation to listen to a humanizing voice. Judaism and, in fact, humanity that reaches maturity equals to be exiled from the own assurances and safety and to risk the adventure of Abraham.

The Jewish, prophetic God who cares, suffers, and counts our tears, is not the unmovable God of Aristoteles. Nevertheless, Levinas wanted to cast the biblical God in the philosophical language, which in a way is allergic to the Other. Did he try the impossible? Levinas knew that the philosophical language is inadequate to translate the welcoming of the Other, but there was no choice. “Hebrew” had the first word, but he had to speak “Greek” afterwards. Levinas was a great European in defining Europe as constituted by the Bible and the Greek: both are constitutive for the old continent. The ethical, “Hebrew” sensibility required “Greek” organization and discussion. The Saying required a said, that is incessantly unsaid. In Jewish texts, Levinas found a Saying that leaves its traces in the said. Judaism and ethical metaphysics were not overlapping, since the Jewish experience contributed in a special, corrective way to humanism. Yet, Levinas could not imagine Judaism without humanism. In fact he perceived Judaism as humanism of the other man. He was a philosopher and a Jew, a Greek, but undeniably a Jewish one.

Relazione tenuta al Convegno internazionale Visage et infini. Analisi fenomenologiche e fonti ebraiche in Emmanuel Levinas, Roma 24-27 maggio 2006. Gli atti sono pubblicati nel volume a cura di Irene Kajon, Emilio Baccarini, Francesca Brezzi, Joelle Hansel, Emmanuel Levinas. Prophetic Inspiration and Philosophy, Giuntina, Roma 2008.

  1. Difficult Freedom. Essays on Judaism, S. Hand (transl.), The Athlone Press, London 1990 (= DF); Difficile liberté. Essais sur le judaïsme [1963], 3rd ed., Albin Michel, Paris 1976; biblio essais 4019, Hachette, Paris 1988 (= DL). ↩︎

  2. S. Handelman, Fragments of Redemption: Jewish Thought and Literary Theory in Benjamin, Scholem and Levinas, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1991, p. 270. ↩︎

  3. R. Gibbs, Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas, Princeton University Press, Princeton - NJ 1992 (= Correlations), p. 10. ↩︎

  4. See C. Chalier, Judaïsme et altérité (Collections “Les Dix Paroles”), Verdier, Lagrasse 1982; D. Banon, La lecture infinie. Les voies de l’interprétation midrachique. Préface d’Emmanuel Lévinas, Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1987; S. Wygoda, The Jewish Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Phenomenological and Hermeneutical Aspects of the Talmudic Readings, Jerusalem 2003 (doctoral thesis; Hebrew). ↩︎

  5. Levinas’s entire philosophy represents “wisdom of love” in the service of love. Otherwise than Being or Beyond the Essence, A. Lingis (transl.), Nijhoff, The Hague 1981, p. 161; Autrement qu’être ou Au-delà de l’essence [1974] (biblio essays 4121), Hachette, Paris 1990, p. 251. ↩︎

  6. “Monotheism and Language”, in DF, pp. 178-180; DL, pp. 249-252. ↩︎

  7. Nine Talmudic Readings, Annette Aronowicz (transl.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 1990, p. 182. ↩︎

  8. Levinas maintains that history does not judge over the righteousness of a human act. In a Stalinistic conception of history winners are not judged, they are a priori right. Comp. Vassili Grossman, Œuvres, Robert Laffont, Paris 2006, pp. 540, 560. Grossman in a way adopts the Levinasian position in which not a heavenly judge nor some State judges, but the poor man, who is crushed by his oppressors. Comp. ibid., p. 458. ↩︎

  9. I oppose the juxtaposition of “apologetic” to “Jewish” writing. See J. E. Meskin, Critique, Tradition, and the Religious Imagination: An Essay on Levinas’s Talmudic Readings, in “Judaism”, 1998, p. 90. ↩︎

  10. Correlations, p. 171. ↩︎

  11. Ethique et infini. Dialogues avec Philippe Nemo, Fayard/France Culture, Paris 1982; biblio essais 4018 (Hachette, Paris 1992 (= EeI), pp. 13-15. ↩︎

  12. M.-A. Lescourret, Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995): un philosophe du XXe siècle, “Cités”, 25 (2006), p. 18. ↩︎

  13. S. Malka, Lire Levinas, 2nd ed., Ed. Du Cerf, Paris 1998, p. 107. ↩︎

  14. Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures, Gary D. Mole (transl.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1992, p. 200; L’au-delà du verset: Lectures et discours talmudiques (Collection Critique), Éditions de Minuit, Paris 1982, pp. 233-234: “Nous avons la grande tâche d’énoncer en grec les principes que la Grèce ignorait. La singularité juive attend sa philosophie. L’imitation servile des modèles européens ne suffit plus”. In an interview with S. Malka, Levinas pointedly said that the work of the Septuagint is not finished. See S. Malka, Lire Levinas, p. 1. ↩︎

  15. EeI, p. 14 ↩︎

  16. EeI, pp. 14-15. ↩︎

  17. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, A. Lingis (transl.), Duquesne University, Pittsburgh 1969; Nijhoff, The Hague 1979 (= TI), p. 23, E. Levinas, Totalité et Infini: Essai sur l’extériorité (Phaenomenologica, VIII), Nijhoff, The Hague 1961; biblio essays, Hachette, Paris 1990 (= TeI), p. 8; TI, p. 78, TeI, p. 76; “A Religion for Adults”, in DF, p. 17, “Une religion d’adultes”, in DL, p. 33. ↩︎

  18. DF, p. 68, DL, p. 101. ↩︎

  19. Nine Talmudic Readings, Annette Aronowicz (transl.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 1990, p. 21. ↩︎

  20. DF, p. 291, DL, p. 406. ↩︎