à Dieu

Starting a little work on Jacques Derrida, I’ve just read his moving funeral oration for fellow philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, titled “Adieu.” Derrida’s reflections are too profound to do them justice, but I’ll provide a little snippet here:

One day, on the rue Michel Ange, during one of those conversations whose memory I hold so dear, one of those conversations illuminated by the radiance of his thought, the goodness of his smile, the gracious humor of his ellipses, he said to me: “You know, one often speaks of ethics to describe what I do, but what really interests me in the end is not ethics, not ethics alone, but the holy, the holiness of the holy.” And I then thought of a singular separation, the unique separation of the curtain or veil that is given, ordered and ordained, by God, the veil entrusted by Moses to an inventor or an artist rather than to an embroiderer, the veil that would separate the holy of holies in the sanctuary. And I also thought of how other Talmudic Lessons sharpen the necessary distinction between sacredness and holiness, that is, the holiness of the other, the holiness of the person, who is, as Emmanuel Lévinas said elsewhere, “more holy than a land, even a holy land, since, faced with an affront made to a person, this holy land appears in its nakedness to be but stone and wood.”

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