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."

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pp. 22-42
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