Hillel as the "image of a man in the skylight" a hermeneutic perspective

Rella Kushelevsky

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1 Scopus citations


Through various reading processes in rabbinic narratives the contemporary reader becomes envolved in an experience that he grasps as if "real", at the same time that it is a linguistic entity. This is a paradox that expresses an existential aspect in those texts. The hermeneutics of Paul Ricœur dealt with the problem of the status of the literary text and its reference to reality in a manner that may explain this existential aspect. There follows a reading of the story of Hillel as it appears in tractate Yoma 35b, in light of two principal and interconnected concepts in the hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur: "the autonomy of the text" and "the world of the text". The aim is to determine if they can propose a new dimension from the methodical aspect of the talmudic story and in the interpretation of a concrete text. The diverse implications of the configuration "the image of a man in the skylight", the totality of meanings of the metaphor "words of the living God", symbols of the Torah and the Sabbath, the situations in which Hillel acted as he hung on at the edge of the skylight, the states of consciousness constructed in the story following Shemaiah and Avtalyon's encounter with Hillel, all these establish a "world", which is perceived in the reader's consciousness as the "world" of the sages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-381
Number of pages19
JournalRevue des Études Juives
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2006


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