Bible. O.T. Exodus XXV, 1-XXVII, 19 -- In literature.
Providence and government of God -- Judaism.
Via his father's testimony, Art Spiegelman in Maus seems to demonstrate that there is divine intervention in human affairs. Vladek's predictive dream about Parshas Truma (Exod. 25-27), as well as the prediction of the Polish priest at Auschwitz and the Gypsy fortune-teller's prognostication to Anja, point to the presence of a divine hand in Vladek's and Anja's survival. Vladek's ostensible stinginess is actually a fulfillment of Parshas Truma's invitation to give God gifts, making Vladek especially worthy of divine favor. But the hidden purpose behind the couple's survival is that it enables the birth of their son Art, who would create Maus. Richieu's death and Anja's later suicide also contribute to the creation of Maus, and are thereby invested with meaning. Parshas Truma, which concerns the construction of the Tabernacle and Ark, and was Art's Bar Mitzvah portion, provides the key to the aesthetic structure as well as to the significance of Maus.
Adler, Thomas P.
To See Feelingly: Moral (In)sight in Arthur Miller's Homely Girl, A Life and Broken Glass [Access article in HTML] Subject Headings:
Miller, Arthur, 1915- Homely girl.
Miller, Arthur, 1915- Broken glass.
In two recent works of Holocaust literature that harken back to his earliest fiction, Arthur Miller explores ways of reading the text of the Jewish body—already always marked and stigmatized as Other—that resist further objectification and see beyond difference to empathetic identification. In doing so, he poses the question of whether, in order to live ethically, one must somehow necessarily (re)construct the self as Other. In Homely Girl, A Life, only when Janice is seen "feelingly" by her blind husband Charles can she be liberated and made whole, while in Broken Glass, seeing traumatic photographs of the victims of Kristallnacht causes a "felt" paralysis in Sylvia. By looking at Miller's work through the lens of Maurice Blanchot's and Emmanuel Levinas's ethical notions of "being-for" and "responsibility-to-the-other," Miller's authorial role as witness and his imperative that the reader and audience become witness as well are brought into sharper focus.
In 1947 S. Y. Agnon responded to the daily bloodshed incurred in defense of the soon-to-be-declared State of Israel with a composition entitled Introduction (Petiha) to the Kaddish: After the Funerals of Those Murdered in the Land of Israel. Under the guise of a seemingly innocuous introduction to a prominently pious text lies a subtext that, in its artful and ironic weaves of the language of tradition, subverts the core kaddish text. Agnon's use of a classic rabbinic literary convention, the petiha, as its structural model is a striking example of his "revolutionary traditionalism." Agnon has reenvisioned a kaddish which straddles both the traditional world of Buczacz and the post-Holocaust embryonic Zionist state with language drawn from the former yet transfigured to meet the tragic dimensions of the latter. A new kaddish emerges out of a hermeneutic that has been identified as "mad midrash."
Sweeney, Marvin A. (Marvin Alan), 1953-
Pardes Revisited Once Again: A Reassessment of the Rabbinic Legend Concerning the Four Who Entered Pardes [Access article in HTML] Subject Headings:
Rabbinical literature -- History and criticism.
Mysticism -- Judaism.
This paper reexamines the rabbinic narrative concerning the four who attempted to enter Pardes. Earlier scholarship tends to view the narrative as a warning against the study of mysticism and emphasizes the compositional history of the narrative. Interpreters are divided as to whether the narrative is concerned with the study of Gnosticism, mystical experience, or proper biblical interpretation. This study emphasizes the identities and backgrounds of the four major figures included in the narrative and the function of the scriptural passages associated with each. Based on these considerations it argues that the three earlier figures, Shimon ben Azzai, Shimon ben Zoma, and Elisha ben Abuyah (Ah.er) are presented as antitypes to the ideal Rabbi Akiba, who embodies qualities that each of the others lacks. The narrative therefore presents R. Akiba as the model of the sage who understands his own knowledge (mHag2:1), i.e., the interpreter who is qualified to expound upon texts commonly associated with Jewish mysticism.
The Jewish Response during the Holocaust: The Educational Debate in Israel in the 1950s [Access article in HTML] Subject Headings:
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Public opinion.
Public opinion -- Israel.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Study and teaching -- Israel.
Since the end of World War II, the response of the Jewish population in Europe to the Nazi policy of extermination has constituted a significant element in Jewish, and particularly Israeli, consciousness of the Holocaust. In the 1950s this issue became the focus of a debate among Israeli writers and public figures. An examination of a variety of sources of Israeli public opinion—articles in Israeli daily newspapers, debates in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and speeches during memorial ceremonies, as well as archival materials—reveals that the positions expressed in the public discourse of that period represented two opposing viewpoints. The first created a moral distinction between those who actively participated in self-defense, especially armed resistance, and those who did not. The second contested the idea of placing armed resistance at the center of Holocaust commemoration, or using it educationally as a value over other patterns of Jewish reaction.
Antisemitism in the press -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 20th century.
Trombetta, Domenico -- Political and social views.
Italian Americans -- Attitudes.
Fascism -- Italy.
Jews -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Italy.
Many Italian Americans turned a deaf ear to Fascism after the enactment of Italy's 1938 antisemitic measures. Others, however, did not. The latter included Domenico Trombetta, the editor and publisher of the New York City-based Italian-language weekly Il Grido della Stirpe. This article examines the editorial stand of Il Grido della Stirpe on Mussolini's racial legislation. This newspaper not only embraced the Fascist laws against Jews. It also endeavored to exploit the ethnic antipathies between Jews and Italian Americans in New York City to elicit support for the Duce's policies among Italian immigrants and their offspring. Furthermore, Trombetta's weekly showed an ideological commitment to antisemitism that even the Italian Americans who had anti-Jewish feelings usually lacked.
Singer, David G.
God in Nature or the Lord of the Universe?: The Encounter of Judaism and Science from Hellenistic Times to the Present [Access article in HTML] Subject Headings:
Judaism and science -- History.
Like all vital religious systems, Judaism has had to come to terms with the latest discoveries and advances in science and technology. Three times in the last 2500 years from the birth of a true scientific approach to the universe in the Greek cities on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea until the present, Judaism has faced a challenge from rational and scientific thought. Hellenistic science and philosophy were deeply alluring to many Jews, and consequently the authors of the Talmud placed biblical law on a new rational base, and even incorporated Greek terms in their writing. In medieval Muslim Spain—the Spain of the three faiths—Jewish thinkers, and especially Moses Maimonides, again sought to integrate Greek rationalism and science with Judaism. The rebirth of scientific thought in western Europe that began about four centuries ago has presented the most serious scientific challenge of all time to traditional Jewish beliefs and religious practices. Though no overall philosophy that would integrate science and Judaism has yet appeared, several Jewish thinkers have already tackled this problem, and Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the twentieth century, has laid down the guidelines for such a philosophy.