Emmanuel Levinas: A Doctrine for Doctors -
The Oncologist, December 2019
Abstract: Levinas underscored that we must meet the other where he is…not where we might want him to be.
Such a concept that embodies moral responsibility to the "other" can nourish the physician who struggles to muster
compassion. For Levinas, the rules of the game were obvious: I owe the other everything, but this is not conditional
upon what the other owes me. This narrative introduces the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and its potential to affect
Ethics of Helping People Who Want to Die -
Published at the "Gerontology and Geriatrics" magazine in Hebrew
Abstract: This article deals with the ethics of caring for people that are suffering intolerably and seeking help,
yet we avoid helping them because of legal, ethical and emotional (or religious) reasons.
A definition of the purpose of medical care nowadays is suggested: To cure people from their diseases, relieve their
suffering, beneficence, and avoid doing harm. Medical care is not aimed at prolonging life, at least not in all cases.
In caring for people that seek relief from their intolerable suffering, physical or existential, even by means of dying,
palliative sedation, passive and active euthanasia and assisted suicide might be chosen. The intention of all these actions
is not killing the person, but relieving his/her suffering. The death cause is the disease or the intolerable suffering
even if death was precipitated by medication. Palliative sedation and passive euthanasia are legal in Israel, while active
euthanasia and assisted suicide are not. This situation might not be ethically valid. However, one should consider effective
use of palliative sedation and even recommending conscious patients who want to die to stop eating and drinking.
In all cases the patient must be consulted in all medical decisions as long as it is possible, living wills should be
encouraged, and dialogic skills must be developed for caring teams, families and patients. Since no one knows better
than the person himself what is best for him/her, the best should be done in order to clarify the patient's wish and
act upon it. Yet this should be done with consideration for the feelings and values of doctors and caring teams and
in cooperation with the patient's family. The article surveys various ethical tools that may help in specific end of
life decisions that can give people a "good death".
The Power of Goodness – Ritzpah Bat Aiah in the Interpretation of Levinas
Abstract: In this article I explore Levinas' interpretation of Job and Ritzpah
Bat Aiah , two Biblical protagonists who portray two different models of human response
to evil and to incomprehensible suffering. Job is self-centered on his own righteousness
and unjust suffering, while Ritzpah Bat Aiah embodies goodness confidently manifested in
spite of her own grief. She personifies goodness as the only spark remaining in a world
of darkness, in a world that lost its worldliness. Thus, she allows one not to lose faith
in goodness, not to sink into total despair.
Published in the book "Levinas Faces Biblical Figures",
Yael Linn (ed.), Lexington Books, U.K. pp. 79 – 94, in English.
Introduction Chapter of my book "Reading Between the Lines"
Abstract: Emmanuel Levinas, one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers, frequently
engaged in Jewish thought and Talmudic interpretation as well. From my first
encounter with his Talmudic Readings I was drawn to their style and written form and
intrigued by them. As one who loves, studies, and teaches Talmud, the contents of his
interpretation appeared to me bold and fascinating, its methods creative and original.
Levinas often wrote about learning Torah; about its value as a practice to be pursued,
with all its ethical and religious meanings; about its role in the shaping and
rejuvenation of Judaism in times of crisis, for example after the Holocaust. He
emphasized the Torah's universal appeal, the human values that it teaches, and the
responsibility of the Jews to translate these into a language comprehensible to
everyone, to promote them in the world. His Talmudic Readings are first and
foremost Torah study, practical application of this value. This learning uses a method
associated with the Jewish tradition of Torah study and in his writings Levinas often
imbues the principles of study with meaning that exceeds their form. His many
comments on methodological issues indicate that not only was he completely aware of
the principles guiding his learning, rather he also saw the method as strongly
connected to the contents, as a matter worthy of consideration. This volume sets out to
clarify the interpretive method utilized by Emmanuel Levinas and its link with the
contents it conveys.
Religion and Moral in Emmanuel Levinas's Jewish philosophy -
Published at the "Daat" magazine in Hebrew
Abstract: Religion and Moral in Emmanuel Levinas's Jewish philosophy.
Religion is considered as referring to a
person's relationship with God or the transcendental, while moral refers
to inter-human relationships. These notions are often thought as
indifferent or even conflicting with each other. But there are many
Biblical and Rabbinic texts who show an essential and even an inter
dependence between them.
Emmanuel Levinas's approach to the
relationship between religion and moral continues this perspective of
inter dependence between them. In this article I focus on his "Jewish"
texts: I analyze part of his Talmudic Lecture "Towards the Other" (
) and the way he defines the notion of sanctity,
which is usually considered as essentially religious. For Levinas,
thinking of moral that has no transcendental dimension is
phenomenologically wrong and is week in its capacity to influence actual
behaviour in the world. On the other hand, and as the fundamental
essence of religion is to shape ethical relationships between people,
religion actions that ignore their human ramifications is not only
dangerous, as they might cause damage to other people, but are also
I think that renewing this traditional view of
inter dependence between moral and religion such as Levinas does might
have important implications on contemporary Israeli life.