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Rabbi Fackenheim and philosophical encounter with Elijah’s wager

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Chapter Summary

Rabbi Fackenheim's own particular situatedness was being Jewish at a certain point in history, consciousness of which transformed history for him into "Jewish history". Elijah's biblical and rabbinic persona serves to fill the vacuum left by the philosophers' ignorance of Jewish self-understanding. Finally, Elijah's death (or non-death) is the culmination of a series of root experiences that consequentially flow from Fackenheim's understanding of the Carmel wager. The focus of the narrative is not so much on Elijah's spectacular departure from earth as it is on relationship between the master and his student, Elisha, and the latter's willingness to let go. It is actually in this confrontation between God and Abraham, in Abraham's defense of the innocent, where Fackenheim's response to the Kantian dilemma is perfectly represented - "The revealed morality of Judaism demands a three-term relationship - nothing less than a relationship involving man, his human neighbor, and God Himself.

Keywords: Carmel wager; Elijah's biblical persona; Elisha; Jewish history; Rabbi Fackenheim



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