Education in nonviolence: Levinas' Talmudic readings and the study of sacred texts

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The essay offers a Jewish account of education in nonviolence by examining the first of Emmanuel Levinas' Talmudic readings 'Toward the Other.' I begin by exploring Levinas' unique philosophy of religious education, which nurtures responsibility for the other, as part of an alternative to enlightenment-orientated modern Jewish thought pioneered by the likes of Gershom Scholem, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig. I then consider a question raised by Yusef Waghid and Zehavit Gross at the 2012 meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain in Oxford concerning whether one must forget in order to forgive great wrong doing such as South African Apartheid or the Holocaust of European Jewry. Through an examination of Levinas' treatment of several Talmudic passages, I argue that the Jewish tradition takes a paradoxical approach to this question. We should forget in order to remember wrong doing. The spiritual process that both perpetrators and victims must undergo in order to embrace this paradox, I contend, is a genuine education in nonviolence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalEthics and Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Levinas
  • Talmud
  • forgiveness
  • nonviolence
  • religious education
  • sacred study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy


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