Toward a Jewish (M)orality: Speaking of a Postmodern Jewish Ethics

By S. Daniel Breslauer | Go to book overview
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their wisdom as that of the other and seek to create an open society to which strangers hold the key. Rashi's attention to the stranger's voice taught him a political interpretation to Genesis. Postmodern Jewish ethicists listen with an equally sensitive car for the voice of the other. Each element in this ethics occurs under the more general rubric of play. Levinas, perhaps, caught the nature of this ethical stance best when he praised "the grain of folly that safeguards our humanity."24 Jewish ethics today seeks to create a social morality out of the postmodern freedom we enjoy and the responsibility that is our burden. The purpose of that ethics, however, is to safeguard just that folly upon which our humanity depends.

Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1950).
Ibid., 192.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom ( New York: Schocken, 1972), 3-4; compare idem., God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism ( New York: Harper & Row, 1955), 3.
Heschel, God in Search of Man, 385-86.
Jonathan D. Culler, Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature ( London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 143.
Ibid., 259.
Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, tr. ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 73.
Jacques Derrida, Dissemination. Barbara Johnson, tr. ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 156, 158.
Daniel Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 14.
See Peter Ochs, "An Introduction to Postcritical Scriptural Interpretation," in The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Postcritical Scriptural Interpretation, Peter Ochs, ed. ( New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 35; see the entire essay 3-51.
See the argument and discussion in the several essays collected in Susan A. Handelman , The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory ( Albany: SUNY Press, 1982).
Chaim Pearl, Rashi ( New York: Grove Press, 1988), 25; see the entire discussion, 24-62.
Huizinga, Homo Ludens, 8.
Ibid., 78, 213.
Ibid., 101.
Boyarin, "The Other Within and the Other Without," in The Other in Jewish Thought and History, 427.
Emmanuel Levinas, Outside the Subject. Michael B. Smith, tr. ( Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), 94.
Critchley, The Ethics of Deconstruction, 3, 26.
Ibid., 116-25.


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