Being Jewish

Emmanuel Levinas

pp. 205-210

If Judaism had only the “Jewish Question” to resolve it would have much to do, but it would be a trifling thing. Of course, one may wonder whether this question, even in itself, does not exceed the quest for an attractive or bearable life, and extend to an apocalypse and an eschatology. But posed in exclusively political and social terms—and this is the rule for public meetings, in the press and even in literature—the question refers to a right to live, without seeking a reason for being. This rhetoric that invokes the right to existence for an individual or for a people reduces or returns the Jewish event to the rank of a purely natural fact. No matter how much one hopes for a cultural and moral contribution to the world from the political independence of the people of Israel, one still does no more than expect one more kind of painting or literature. But to be Jewish is not only to seek a refuge in the world but to feel for oneself a place in the economy of being.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-007-9052-7

Full citation:

Levinas, E. (2007). Being Jewish. Continental Philosophy Review 40 (3), pp. 205-210.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.