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Open Wounds

The Crisis of Jewish Thought in the Aftermath of Auschwitz

David Patterson

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xi

In this book, I undertake a Jewish response to the Shoah. Unlike most other authors who have engaged a similar task, I offer a view of what makes a Jewish response Jewish. As with the determination of . . .

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p. xiii-xiii

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Pastora Goldner for her generous and conscientious support of the Pastora Goldner Symposium on Post-Holocaust Studies and for the Pastora Goldner Series . . .

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1. Introduction: The Open Wounds of Jewish Thought

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pp. 3-31

In his commentary on the Torah, the great thirteenth-century rabbi Nachmanides makes the following prophecy: “The children of Esau [Christendom] will not formulate a decree against us designed to obliterate . . .

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2. The Bankruptcy of Modern and Postmodern Thought

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pp. 32-62

What does the phrase “bankruptcy of thought” mean? How, indeed, can thought become “bankrupt”? Thought enters “bankruptcy” when it no longer operates in the categories that might reveal something about . . .

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3. Ethical Monotheism and Jewish Thought

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pp. 63-90

From what was said about the movement of return in the previous chapter, it should be clear that, if teshuvah is a return from exile, then exile is not just a geographical category. In addition to the geographical . . .

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4. The Holocaust and the Holy Tongue

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pp. 91-115

We have seen that the Holocaust is characterized by an assault on the sanctity of the human being. So radical is this assault that it eludes language, as Primo Levi has said: there is no word “to express this . . .

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5. The Sifrei Kodesh and the Holocaust

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pp. 116-143

“The ultimate mystery of the Holocaust,” Elie Wiesel has said, “is that whatever happened took place in the soul.”1 The Holocaust was essentially an assault on the holiness of the soul, and the holiness of the soul . . .

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6. The Muselmann and the Matter of the Human Being

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pp. 144-172

From the standpoint of Jewish thought, the matter of the human being is perhaps the most definitive feature of the Shoah. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance to a Jewish response to the Shoah. The . . .

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7. Jewish Thought and a Post-Holocaust Tikkun Haolam

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pp. 173-200

A few years ago, I visited Emil Fackenheim at his home in Jerusalem, as was my custom whenever I was in the Holy City. I was sitting on the side of his good ear, listening to him discuss his engagement with . . .

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8. Mystical Dimensions of Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought

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pp. 202-229

In the last chapter, we encountered Emil Fackenheim’s insistence that the possibilities for Jewish thought, here and now, are real because they were already a reality “then and there.”1 With regard to the . . .

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9. Though the Messiah May Tarry

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pp. 230-252

The Talmud teaches that the name of the Messiah is among the seven things that preceded Creation (Pesachim 54a).1 The Zohar teaches that “the ‘spirit of God which hovered over the face of the deep’ . . .

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10. Conclusion: No Closure

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pp. 253-257

Nearly two thousand years ago, our sages of the Talmud raised the question of why both Jeremiah and Daniel tampered with the original text of Moses’ invocation of the Lord’s attributes: . . .


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pp. 259-303


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pp. 305-326


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pp. 342-353

Back Cover

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p. 354-354

E-ISBN-13: 9780295803166
E-ISBN-10: 0295803169
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295986456
Print-ISBN-10: 029598645X

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pastora Goldner Series in Post-Holocaust Studies
Series Editor Byline: Edited by David Patterson and John K. Roth

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Judaism -- 20th century.
  • Judaism -- Doctrines.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Influence.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Holocaust (Jewish theology).
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