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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article attempts to understand Levinas as a reader of Jewish texts, with particular attention paid to his Talmudic commentaries. To do so, the entangled relation between oral and written texts is explored; one must be able to properly “read” but also “write,” and there is the related issue of the methodology and training to be able to do so properly. Levinas offers commentary on each issue. Several interpretations of Talmudic texts and an important discussion of reading Scripture are analyzed in order to elucidate Levinas’s reading strategies, what this tells us about his relation to the larger tradition of Talmudic commentary, and Levinas’s particular historical moment, especially the role of the Holocaust for his approach to reading the Talmud and traditional texts.

Keywords: Levinas, Talmud, Jewish scriptures, Holocaust, ethics, transcendence, infinity

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