Along with his philosophical works, Emmanuel Levinas also produced collections of his own Talmudic commentaries. He credits his Talmudic learning to an enigmatic and mysterious teacher, Chouchani, who influenced Levinas in the postwar years. Levinas gives little credence to the rise of modern historical-critical methods of exegesis. Rather, the method he learned from Chouchani drew on ancient practices of rabbinic and Talmudic interpretation. The meanings taught by Talmudic texts are drawn from the deeply symbolic well of Scripture, filled with signs, stories, and teachings. According to Levinas, we cannot rely solely on an historical method to access the deeper well of meanings found in the Scriptures. The aim of this essay is to explore Levinas's critique of historical criticism and to distil some of the hermeneutical approaches he proposes in his Talmudic commentaries.

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