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Promised land or permitted land: a consideration of Jewish fundamentalism in the light of Levinasian ethics

Frosh, Stephen (2009) Promised land or permitted land: a consideration of Jewish fundamentalism in the light of Levinasian ethics. Psychoanalysis and History 11 (2), pp. 209-224. ISSN 1460-8235.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E1460823509000415

Abstract

Jewish fundamentalism (a contested term that does not sit easily with the non-literal nature of much rabbinic reading of the Bible) has many sources and variants, but amongst these the most belligerent is the mode of fundamentalism expressed by some ‘strictly orthodox’ Jews in Israel. These Jews tend to justify their continued agitation for a ‘greater Israel’, accompanied by hostility not only towards Palestinians but also towards secular and politically more liberal Jews, in terms of literalist readings of Torah. This paper approaches this topic ‘sideways’ (and hence, perhaps, psychoanalytically) through tracking a remarkable reading by Emmanuel Levinas of the Talmudic passage dealing with the biblical account of the spies sent by Moses to Canaan. Levinas' ambivalent shifts between understanding these spies as motivated by an ethical refusal to see themselves as having a right to the land, and seeing them (more conventionally) as having too little faith, perhaps reflects the operations of a ‘guilt’ about which psychoanalysis may have something to say.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): ambivalence, ethics, Levinas, Jewish fundamentalism, Zionism
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2011 15:51
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2195

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