Does Jewish weirdness need its own space? On the benefits of Limmud, and the No-State Solution of Daniel Boyarin

De Vrijdagavond vraagt een aantal sprekers op komende Limmoed Nederland een voorproefje te geven over hun lezing. Filosofiedocent Yonathan Listik trapt af. 

Boyarin and Levinas on judeo-anarchist possibility

My talk at Limmoed 2024 entitled The No-State Solution: Boyarin and Levinas on judeo-anarchist possibility will investigate the idea that Jewishness can be constructed as a non-nationalistic or even anti-nationalistic posture. 

This is largely based on Daniel Boyarin’s last book The No-State Solution.

The central argument of the book is that Jewishness entails a form of non-conformity. Instead of demanding its own particularity, this posture actually amounts to a subversive presence wherever it is.

In simple words, the fact that Jews are weird does not have to lead to the conclusion that they should have or even need their own space to be weird. Their weirdness is something to be instigated against any push for normalization in the societies where they currently or historically live(d). 

The No-State Solution by Daniel Boyarin, published January 2023, Yale University Press.
Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley.

Reading of Tammid 32a

To support that thesis, I will link Boyarin to Emmanuel Levinas’ Talmudic reading of Tammid 32a. In this passage, Alexander the Great questions the elders of the Negev after conquering the region in an attempt to both understand them and, as it becomes clear, to certify his sovereignty over them. 

The response of the elders is at times indirectly subversive and at times openly confrontational. The highlight of this dynamic being the point where Alexander asks them why they don’t recognize his authority given that he is more powerful than them, to which they respond, “Satan is sometimes victorious”. This tension is prompted by the elders’ previous statement that one should reject power. 

Jewishness is equivalent to challenging power without claiming power.

This affirmation could be read in two ways: (1) One should reject being an object of power and therefore ruled by it as well as (2) one should reject holding political power.

The argument that is being extracted here is similar to the one found in Boyarin: Jewishness is equivalent to challenging power without claiming power. Framing Jewishness as this idea of political disruption is what will be denoted as the judeo-anarchist possibility.     

Dit jaar vindt Limmoed plaats op zondag 18 februari. Limmoed staat open voor iedereen die kennis wil maken met de Joodse traditie, wetenschap en cultuur.

Zie het programma van Limmoed 2024

Over Yonathan Listik 2 Artikelen
Yonathan Listik is docent aan de Universiteit Leiden en doceert dekoloniale theorie en Critical Political Theory. Zijn huidige onderzoeksveld is filosofie, waar hij hedendaagse politieke ontologie in de continentale traditie onderzoekt. Hij is ook geïnteresseerd in de verbanden tussen joodse filosofie, dekoloniale theorie en esthetiek. Zijn voornaamste interesse gaat uit naar mogelijke articulaties van het idee van barbarij.

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