Journal Article

Violence, Ethics, and Divine Honor in Modern Jewish Thought

Don Seeman

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 73, issue 4, pages 1015-1048
Published in print December 2005 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online December 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Violence, Ethics, and Divine Honor in Modern Jewish Thought

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Although little analyzed, the concept of divine honor or glory (kavod shamayim) has been central to formulations of classical Jewish thought and ethics. In the aftermath of the 1994 Hebron massacre, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg deployed the concept of divine honor as a religious sanction for murder. His tract Barukh Ha-Gever treats attrocity as a mystical technique for the attainment of unmediated, ecstatic, and personal experience of the divine. This article examines the genealogy of Ginsburg’s anarchic ideology, which it contrasts with that of Rabbi Abraham Issac Kook and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, two important twentieth-century Jewish thinkers for whom divine honor was also central, but whose vision for that honor was antithetical to the quest for unmediated divine experience, or to acts that violate religious law and human dignity. This article assays a phenomenology of divine honor and its relationship to violence in modern times.

Journal Article.  13910 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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