Emmanuel Levinas, “A Religion for Adults” in Difficult Freedom (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 23.
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Old Hillel, the grand Doctor of the Law in the first century BC, exclaimed, on seeing a skull carried along by the current, ‘You were killed for having killed, but those who killed you will be killed.’ If the crimes of history do not always strike down the innocent, they are still not judgments. We wrongly conceive of a chain of violent events as the verdicts of history where history itself is the magistrate. Hillel knew that history does not judge and that, left to its fate, it echoes crimes. Nothing, no event in history, can judge a conscience. This is upheld by theological language, which measures the entire miracle of such a freedom, while stating that God alone can judge.
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What does Levinas mean by "We wrongly conceive of a chain of violent events as the verdicts of history where history itself is the magistrate"?

2. How does history echo crimes?

3. Where do you see patterns of crimes repeating themselves? How can we help change this course of history?

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Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)