Overview (World Philosophers and Their Works)
The text of God’s Presence in History is a revision of three lectures delivered by Emil L. Fackenheim as the Charles F. Deems Lectures at New York University in 1968; the volume addresses how world historical Jewish events such as the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern State of Israel categorically entail concrete responses by Jews to ensure Jewish survival. The event that directly precipitated this work was the 1967 surprise attack by the Arab states surrounding Israel (the Six-Day War) and the total lack of support for Israel by any other nation in the world. An additional impetus was Fackenheim’s assertion that responses to the Holocaust, such as the “death of God” movement of the 1960’s and the rise of secular and nonobservant Jews, were threatening the future existence of the Jewish people as a whole. However, it could easily be argued that Fackenheim was working toward just such an apologetic response his entire life.
Fackenheim begins his text by dedicating it to Holocaust survivor and activist Elie Wiesel, to whom he credits his use of a midrashic method in exploring the faith-commitment of Jews post-Holocaust and their support of the modern State of Israel. His opening, a Midrashic interpretation of a scriptural passage, provides the cornerstone of his argument that post-Holocaust Jews have the right and duty to judge others because they survived the attack on their ongoing existence as a people. Hence Fackenheim...
(The entire section is 2056 words.)
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