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Levinas Studies


published on July 17, 2019

Bettina Bergo

“And God Created Woman”
Questions of Justice and Ontology

This article reads Levinas’s “And God Created Woman” in light of its socio-political context, Mai soixante-huit. It explores themes from his “Judaism and Revolution,” in which he reframed concepts of revolution, exegesis, the revolutionary, and human alienation. Following these themes, which run subtly through his Talmudic remarks on women and indirectly on feminism, I examine his arguments about a “signification beyond universality” and the fraught relationship between formal equity in gender relations and the practice of justice, as embodied by the Antigone-like Rizpah bath Aiah and analyzed in Levinas’s Talmudic reading “Toward the Other.” I summarize the Rabbinic debate about the meaning of an extra yod in the term often translated as “to create” in Genesis, turning to the significance of dissymmetry between the Hebrew names of “man” and “woman,” Ish and Isha. In light of this, Biblicist and psychoanalyst Daniel Sibony opens further insights into gender, naming, and identity.

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