Holidays

The Festival of Gathering: A Return to the Original Being

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Aton Holzer

One of the most startling lines in Jewish liturgy appears in the Yom Kippur Musaf prayers: “It was voted and decided in the counsel of Torah Sages: fortunate is he who was never created.” A paraphrase of a passage in Eruvin 13b, and a refrain from a longer piyyut which most omit – in which the focus is on man’s responsibilities now that he has been created – it is nonetheless startling, and reflects a less commented upon undercurrent in the high holiday liturgy: nihilism.[1]

A theme which runs through the Yom Kippur liturgy is the utter insignificance and downright nullity of human erudition, endeavor, and even existence. The comparison of man to hevel – an insubstantial breath – occurs repeatedly in the piyyutim, and reaches its zenith in the series of queries embedded in the viduy:

What are we, what is our life, what is our kindness, what is our righteousness, what is our salvation, what is our power, what is our strength? What shall we say before you, Lord our God and God of our fathers? Are not all the mighty ones as naught before you, the men of renown as if they had never been, the wise as without knowledge, the discerning as without enlightenment – for their many deeds are empty, and the days of their lives are as vanity before you, and the superiority of man over beast is naught, for all is vanity.

There is a current in rabbinic thought that sees Yom Kippur, with its self-abnegatory practices, white clothing, and prostration, as a sort of immersion and self-dissolution within Divine existence:

Rabbi Akiva said: Happy are you, Israel! Who is it before whom you become pure? And who is it that purifies you? Your Father who is in heaven, as it is said: “And I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean” (Ezekiel 36:25). And it further says: “O hope (mikveh) of Israel, O Lord” (Jeremiah 17:1) – just as a mikveh purifies the unclean, so too does the Holy One, blessed be He, purify Israel (Mishnah Yoma 8:9).

How does the penitent re-establish his or her own existence after Yom Kippur?

Before one can go about re-establishing one’s existence, it would seem necessary to interrogate the very idea of existence, or being, itself – what, indeed, needs to be re-established?

This essay will suggest that the key to this question lies in the holiday of Sukkot. Using the phenomenological and existential lens of Martin Heidegger, we will look closely at Sukkot as an expression of original “being,” and apply some of Heidegger’s philosophical concepts to understand the deeper nature of the celebration of Sukkot as an expression of our return to being.

A Dasein for Yom Kippur
The question of being engaged one of the most consequential and controversial philosophers of the twentieth century. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was infamous for his membership in the Nazi party, and his support, as rector of the University of Freiburg, of the Nazi regime, acts for which he never apologized; nonetheless, his thought on the nature of being found overt and hidden admirers among Jewish religious thinkers as diverse as Franz Rosenzweig, R. Alexander Altmann, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and R. Isaac Hutner,[2] who saw clear affinities with or implications for Jewish thought.

In his magnum opus Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), Heidegger argued against the Western philosophical tradition that our primary interaction with items outside ourselves is not as subject-object, but readiness-to-hand, zuhanden, such that the objects are equipment used without even passing through human consciousness as being separate entities. He gives the example of a hammer, which is used by the carpenter to hammer nails without or prior to any analysis of the objects involved. This sense of human being is best captured by dasein, German for “being-there” or “presence” – that is, the manner in which we are engaged in the world, by which the world is understandable, and by which other entities become meaningful. Heidegger uses a term lichtung, clearing – like an open clearing within a dense forest – in ways which evolve over the course of his career, but in his early works, this refers to human understanding, the “light” by which the covered become uncovered, by which things can manifest to us.[3]

Later, Heidegger will clarify that being “gives itself to us” in Ereignis, the event of en-ownment, or appropriation. The meaning of dasein is defined by temporality: how one finds oneself already to be (attunement, past), what one is involved in (falling, present), and the projection of possible ways of being (understanding, future). One’s attunement always occurs within an all-encompassing mode in which one finds oneself in the world, which determines the way in which things in one’s world matter to him/her – which he calls stimmung, or mood.[4]

Being can proceed in such a way that the person unreflectively keeps to the conventions of his/her time and place, and thus are inauthentic in their existence. When one reflects upon one’s ability to choose and proceed from that awareness, existence becomes authentic. Heidegger posits that this awareness stems from angst – anxiety stemming from the groundlessness of existence. This anxiety leads the individual to confront the one thing which differentiates its existence from any other: its death, the end of possibilities, a constant possibility which belongs to the self and no one else. Death renders dasein a complete whole, but at the same time a nullity. Being-toward-death – embracing the eventuality and drawing the conclusions vis-à-vis the present – is the realization of an eventuality which is one’s own, which makes the person able to choose a differentiated, individual, authentic path.

While authentic dasein is on the individual level, there is nonetheless great overlap between individuals when it comes to manners of being. In his reading of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides, Heidegger identified the polis as the place where citizens can confront each other, and thus uncover who and what they are to each other. From these interactions, the manner in which the community engages the world – its fate or destiny – emerges out of how citizens find themselves and understand the possibilities they might pursue together. The polis thus becomes a kind of clearing for communal self-understanding, and the community can judge what fits – potential “unconcealments” – based on its Being in its totality.[5]

In later works, Heidegger was troubled by the technological understanding of being, the reordering of everything in the human environment – objects and people – in the service of optimization, as resources to be ordered, enhanced, and used efficiently, producing the “maximum yield at the minimum expense.” He felt that this focus on control of things – calculative thinking – obscures true being. A first step in escaping this state of affairs is allowing ourselves to be “gathered” by things – experiencing a meditative focusing that allows us to open to meaning beyond efficiency, what he calls “releasement towards things.” But to fully solve the problem, a new sense of reality, a new cultural paradigm that centers individuals, needs to come about; in his words, “only a god can save us now.”[6]

Heidegger took great pains to distinguish being from God; his inquiry concerns ontology, not theology. Nonetheless, this did not stop theologians from seeing the God of the philosophers, the Supreme Being, as implicated in his analyses.[7] Elliott R. Wolfson notes that the tetragrammaton as understood by Kabbalah (as one among a continuum of names which signify modes of Divine disclosure) bears striking similarities to Heideggerian constructs:

Etymologically, the tetragrammaton is from the root hwh that connotes the sense of isness, and as we have seen, this refers, more specifically, to the simultaneity of what was, is, and will be. Insofar as YHWH is a name that cannot be taken nominally, it does not designate the existence of a being per se; it functions rather like a gerund that denotes the eventfulness of being, the beingness that is the center of the encircling nothingness. This is astonishingly close to Heidegger’s emphasis on Ereignis in relation to Seyn…[8]

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik seems to acknowledge the Heideggerian echo but focuses upon a different Divine name, one immediately ontologically prior to the tetragrammaton in Kabbalistic thought but also one which is etymologically related to being: “Ehyeh asher Ehyeh in Philonic and Maimonidean thought means one thing – ‘I am The Being.’ I am Existence par excellence. Whenever one speaks of existence, of being, to be — it means that I am there. Ego sum qui sum.”[9]

In light of the foregoing, Yom Kippur represents more than self-abnegation. By abstaining from the thirty-nine categories of labor – creative endeavor – and rendering equipment muktzeh, out-of-bounds of our dasein, but not shifting emphasis to celebratory meals as is the case for the Sabbath and festivals, it would seem that we are abandoning the dualism of self/object, dissolving the self in favor of an authentic being-in-the-world. Yom Kippur is, biblically, the terminus of the solar year, and ne’ilah service refers to Yom Kippur as keitz, an end, a prefiguration of the eschatological end of the world.[10] At the end, there are no more ways to be, and dasein can have no future – and thus no meaning; ironically, the end is a perfect starting point at which to reflect on preunderstanding. The Yizkor prayer for the dead has its origins in the Yom Kippur liturgy,[11] when services included all those who likewise were but whose being has come to an end. The Divine presence – Being-Itself, or the Ereignis in Wolfson’s sense – is also seen as if to have ended, as it were – or at least to have become alienated from its indwelling in the Temple, and needs to be recovered via the special Yom Kippur procedure, which includes invoking the tetragrammaton.

A Heideggerian Sukkot
In the Biblical text, the subsequent holiday is introduced in an unusual way: “The festival of booths (Sukkot), you shall make for yourself (lekha) seven days” (Deut. 16:13); the other festivals are specified as alternatively being “for the Lord” or “for yourselves” (lakhem, plural), for the collective, and the balance of the two is the subject of Rabbinic hermeneutic attention (cf. Beitzah 15b). Sukkah 53a records that at the “Rejoicing of the House of Water Drawing,” Hillel uttered the cryptic phrase, “If I am here, all is here; and if I am not here, who is here?” But in the biblical text, there may already be a hint that there is something about the Sukkot-holiday which is conducive to a phenomenological-existentialist approach.

Heidegger differentiates poetic truth and technological or scientific understanding; only the former grants the kind of clearing – now not the human understanding itself, but a locus in which this can proceed – that gives us a passage to beings we are not, and access to beings that we ourselves are; the latter obscures both. For Heidegger, things are composed of four relational elements – the fourfold, or das Geviert – which he terms sky and earth, mortals and divinities. While technology, with “empty rationality and calculative efficiency,” replaces this structure by transforming things into a standing reserve, poetic thought allows the gathering of the fourfold to take place in things. To think the thing in this manner, thinking the world in it and around it and dwelling in it, is to create a kind of ‘building.’ This can occur in focusing and nearness that occurs in such diverse activities as participating in celebratory meals or admiring a work of art, or even a technological object such as a bridge when considered in its context.

The night after Yom Kippur concludes, the Jew grabs Heidegger’s favorite example of equipment – a hammer – and builds his sukkah (cf. Leviticus 23:42) for the “festival of gathering” (Exodus 23:15). The sukkah is explicitly a gathering of the fourfold; its roofing must be grown of the earth, gidulei karka, cut by man from their origin in nature but not manipulated into technological implements – not mekabel tum’ah, utensils which are subject to impurity (Mishnah Sukkah 1:4). The sky is an important component; ideally stars should be visible from the roofing, and sunlight should enter, but not exceed shade, and if the sky modifies what is below to the extent that the mortals, the relational aspect of the dwelling-structure is disrupted – if the rain ruins the food – then the sukkah is nullified. The divinities – the Heideggerian concept that refers to the concealed meaning – is expressed best in the Kabbalistic idea of ushpizin (Zohar 3:103b), in which the seven Divine emanations, hypostasized in the “seven shepherds” of the Biblical past, join the meal in the enclosure. Moreover, Talmudic sources draw parallels and derive laws of the sukkah from the Temple – one of Heidegger’s examples of gathering (albeit the Greek version) – rendering the sukkah a microcosmic Divine abode. The sukkah – required to be outdoors – is in harmony with and reveals its materials and natural environment; it is a poetic encounter with the wild, a source of focus and nearness, and at the same time a releasement. The Jew is enjoined to dwell in this kind of ‘building’ for seven days.

The locus of interface between mortals and “divinities” appears to be the same as that of earth and sky: the tentative roofing, the sekhakh. Sukkah 5a cites a teaching of R. Yose that the hypostasized Divine “presence” – the shekhinah – never descended below ten handbreadths (tefahim). After a discussion about how the height of the ark of the covenant can be set at ten tefahim – with the upper tefah dependent upon whether “face” is understood as the face of a person, God, a cherub, or a child – it settles on sourcing the interior space below the sekhakh to the wings of the cherubs installed in the Holy of Holies of the Solomonic temple, which are likewise “hovering” (sokhekhim) over the ark-cover. Rashi likewise describes the manner in which Divine “wings” shelter those below through a hovering that is “touching them and yet not touching them” (Deut. 32:11, s.v. “It hovers over its young”).

The phenomenon of “touching and not touching,” noge’a ve-aino noge’a in Hebrew or mati ve-lo mati in Aramaic, is a common theme in Jewish mystical accounts and theory from the classical period forward, and is deployed in particular to describe the interface between supernal realms or emanations, and the nature of mystical union (Tosefta Hagigah 2, Yerushalmi Hagigah 2:1, Zohar 1:16a, Etz Hayyim sha’ar 7).

Feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray describes what she calls the “touch of the caress” in a similar manner.[12] As a reader explains, “…while elaborating a phenomenology of the caress, Irigaray advocates that a caressing subject is able to do something that a subject approaching the other in the utilitarian or the objectifying mode cannot: give space to the other and to the other’s becoming without imposing his or her own needs and goals onto the other.”[13] After the union of Yom Kippur, the possibility of a genuine relationship of “two-ness” is cause for celebration. In the Sukkah, Divinity above and man below, sky, earth [and air] touch but do not touch, caress but do not merge – and humankind is allowed to affirm its separate being by means of a loving demarcation of boundaries with the shekhinah.

Still, can the formalistic framework of the halakhot of sukkah accommodate Heideggerian “letting dwell,” or feeling at home in the surrounding world? Sukkah is an unusual mitzvah in that there is a strong volitional component in its fulfillment. R. Yaakov Medan explains that there had always been a “choice” between the commandments of sukkah and lulav.[14] The latter is taken at the Temple for seven days, but the Jews who undertook the pilgrimage to the Temple were exempt from sukkah, as is the rule for all travelers. Even nowadays, the fulfillment of sukkah remains largely voluntary; women are entirely exempt, as are travelers, the ill, and discomfited, and the mitzvah is entirely suspended in the event of inclement weather. Men can mostly avoid the sukkah by refraining from eating the sort of meal that requires it, and there is ample halakhic basis to avoid sleeping in the sukkah altogether (see Rema, Orah Hayyim 639:2). The one mandatory performance – the meal that is obligatory in the sukkah on the first night – is best understood as demarcating the transition to a “culture” of sukkah-dwelling, rather than a discrete formal obligation.

So sukkah, more than most mitzvot, can indeed be conceived as a Heideggerian “gathering.” However, already at this stage, there is an important ethical addition to the Heideggerian schema. As the Zohar explains (3:104a), the “divinities” component cannot be evoked but by ethical behavior:

…Lastly, for the people of the world, who have a portion in the nation and the holy land, and sits in the shadow of faith, and receives the souls of the supernal guests, to gladden in this world and the world to come, and he must be careful to gladden the poor. What is the reason? For the portion of these supernal guests he invited, belongs to the poor. And he who sits in the shadow of Faith and invites these supernal guests, the guests of Faith, yet does not give [the poor] their share of the meal, all the guests stand back from him and say: “Do not eat the bread of him who has an evil eye…” (Proverbs 23:6)…

Moreover, the timing of the Sukkot-festival occurs at the one time in the calendar year at which (at least in the Holy Land) it is comfortable to live outdoors and the trees are laden with fruit. For R. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847-1905), Hassidic Rebbe of Gur, in his Sefat Emet, the opportunity to be at harmony with nature at this particular moment allows man access to his primordial harmony with nature:

The sukkah is something like the Garden of Eden, where it says: “He placed there the person whom He made” (Gen. 2:8). The true intent of Creation was that humans dwell there, in that place of joy, of which we say [in the wedding blessings]: ‘…as You gave joy to Your creature in Eden of old.’ Even though we are also told that “He expelled the human” (Gen. 3:24), there are times when some bit of Eden still glows.[15]

The text of Deuteronomy 16:13 can be read, “You shall hold the feast of booths… when you are gathered in from your threshing floor and your vat.” There is a moral component to the oneness with nature and thus releasement from calculative efficiency; experiencing our role as receivers, and the importance of receptivity,[16] can lead to gratitude. On this verse, R. Samuel b. Meir (1085-1158) writes:

When you gather the produce of your land and your houses are full of all good things, grain, wine and oil, [that is the appropriate time for you to celebrate Sukkot,] so that you will remember that “I made the Israelites live in booths” for forty years in the wilderness, without any settlements and without owning any land. As a result of [contemplating] this, you will give thanks to the One who allows you to own your land and your houses which are filled with all good things. And do not “say to yourselves, ‘My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me.’”[17]

The biblical text continues (Deut. 16:14): “You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your communities.” The corollary to releasement must ever be moral action.

The ‘arba minim, the four species – palm-frond, citron, myrtle, and willow (Lev. 23:40) – represent the four landscapes of the holy land, the wellsprings in the valleys, the coastal plain, the mountain streams and the rivers and wadis, respectively.[18] As objects that are mostly useless – even the fruit is hardly edible, mostly rind and bitter – they are a good representative of the scenery, the fullness of the landscape, rather than the resources that are extracted for use. They are, in essence, the land itself. The species are taken in hand, three of them bundled, and become zuhanden equipment – from the moment they are taken in hand, the mitzvah is automatically fulfilled (Sukkah 39a) – such that in order to recite the prior blessing, which needs to precede and address an identifiable experience, the citron must be inverted, rendering the bundle momentarily unready-to-hand and the performance phenomenologically opaque.

There is an unusual insistence that the species need to belong to the worshiper (Sukkah 41b), such that its legal status must match its ontological unity with being. In this manner, the land of Israel itself becomes a part of dasein, of individual presence. The species are then waved in the six directions, extending the land throughout all dimensions of our bodily space. The bodily point of reference is particularly emphasized in the teachings of the Kabbalist R. Isaac Luria (1534-1572) (Sha’ar ha-Kavanot Sukkot 5), for whom the species are brought into the chest and then extended fully outward. Per his student R. Moshe b. Makhir (Seder ha-Yom 88), the four species are ideally taken in the sukkah, and thus the encompassment of the land within the individual’s dasein takes place within the natural contemplative clearing.

The species are best taken while partaking of the clearing of the polis: encountering others, national destiny, and being in its totality in the capital, in its epicenter, the house where Being-Itself dwells, which is also, naturally, the seat of judgment. In this location the stimmung or mood is defined – it is that of joy. “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” (Lev. 23:40). The locus of “before the Lord your God” is fleshed out in Deuteronomy (16:15): “You shall hold a festival for the Lord your God seven days, in the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy.” Literally rendered, the verse concludes “and you shall be (ve-hayita) – yet joyous.” Sukkot appears to be a return to being – a being which is authentic to the self, authentic to one’s national destiny, re-territorialized and gathered by things, yet moral.

The lichtung, the clearing or lighting, of the Temple courtyard is manifest physically, in the light of the “Rejoicing of the House of Water Drawing” (simhat beit ha-shoevah) of Sukkot nights: “there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem which was not lit from the light of the House of Water Drawing” (Mishnah Sukkah 5:3). But this was a different sort of light; it was a light with which aspects of Being-Itself, or the special kind of being present in the complex, could become manifest: “R. Joshua b. Levi said: why was its name called ‘the House of Water Drawing?’ Because from there was drawn divine inspiration… R. Jonah said, [the prophet] Jonah ben Amittai was a festival pilgrim, and he entered the rejoicing of the House of Water Drawing and divine inspiration rested upon him…” (Yerushalmi Sukkah 5:1). On the holiday that the land becomes part of the structure of being, water – which primarily nourishes the land, and is only under extenuating circumstances considered a food (cf. Mishnah Berakhot 6:8) – becomes eligible as a libation on the altar, which is generally reserved for human foodstuffs.

Moreover, the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, becomes a day of judgment, but in contrast to the prior Days of Awe, the focus is not the individual but rather primarily the land, as evidenced in the text of the hoshana-liturgy. The individual has been transformed to dasein, with all its spatiality. This expanded self in the Heideggerian sense is so mythologized that the Talmud records that ‘amei ha-aretz (rustic, uneducated Jews) viscerally acted in contravention to Sabbath prohibitions in their zeal to see that the Hoshana Rabbah willow-service proceed as intended (Sukkah 43b). It is significant that in enmeshment with nature and the land, the Sukkot-Jew is much akin to the rest of mankind, and the universality is expressed in the seventy bullock offerings symbolizing the diversity of nations.

From the Exodus through the latter years of the First Commonwealth, programs of religious renewal and recommitment were paired with large-scale public Passover celebrations. In contrast, the religious revival of the early Second Commonwealth was instead paired with a mass celebration holiday of Sukkot (Nehemiah 8). While Moses, Joshua, Hezekiah, and Josiah marked transitions of a discrete people to new conditions,[19] Ezra and Nehemiah addressed a mass of individuals born into an alien culture, a fragment of what had once been a nation, who perhaps sought elusive authenticity by intermarrying foreign peoples who lived in the land. The challenge of restoring Jewish dasein and rootedness was best served by the Sukkot holiday – but its effect was cemented by its pairing with “reading from the book of the law of God” (8:18) each day. This stabilized and preserved the experience in the medium of language, thus heralding the transition to what would become Rabbinic Judaism.[20] Language, notably, became a later concern for Heidegger. Language opens up the earth; naming brings dispersed existences together so they can be experienced by their common denominator (water that falls from the sky, the flows in a river, that nourishes plants and humans). New combinations of words found new ways of life and experience.[21] Language allows entities to disclose themselves as discrete, stable things; it stabilizes beings as they appear despite the change in our experience, and it also preserves that experience, thus becoming the “house of being.”

The final day of the holiday, as it developed in medieval Babylonia and as it is celebrated today, Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of assembly, became known in part or in whole (in Israel) as Simhat Torah. The gathering of the fourfold is left, and the Jew enters the house; only the latter, not the former (Sukkah 8b), is graced with the mezuzah-scroll. The circuits with the four species are replaced by ones with Torah scrolls. The eighth day is a celebration of language as the disclosure of the being as experienced in the days prior. The language is uniquely ours, its conceptions and poetry shared exclusively by God and the Jewish people, and thus Shemini Atzeret/Simhat Torah is deemed a day of intimate celebration limited to the Lord and His nation (Sukkah 55b, Numbers Rabbah 21:24).

In exile, new understandings of the rituals of Sukkot came to dominate the Rabbinic imagination. When it was no longer possible to hope to take the land of Israel into one’s being, when the land was decisively in the hands of others, the four species were reinterpreted in terms of the people and their relationship to the Law, their new grounding, both as a collective and individual (Vayikra Rabbah 30; Tanhuma Emor 28). When the sukkah could no longer be a gathering or a releasement toward the primordiality of the land, it became instead a symbol of the tenacity of the exilic Jew and his or her refusal to abandon his grounding in the Law, like the small sikaleh in the folk song set to Abraham Reisen’s Yiddish poem, sheltering in God[22] despite vulnerability in an inhospitable climate, both figuratively and literally (cf. Tur Orah Hayyim 625).

Sukkot is nothing less than a renewal, or re-birth of being, in the gathering of the fourfold; here an authentic dasein can emerge. By Hoshana Rabbah, the meaning thus made of the world is translated into rootedness, and on Shemini Atzeret it is disclosed and preserved in language, a Jewish “house of being.” On Sukkot, Jews ironically become the precise opposite of what Heidegger wrote of them in his Schwarze Hefte – nomads disconnected from land and language, alienated from the decision-regions which belong to “the grounding of the truth of being.”[23]

Elliot Wolfson writes, “In the final analysis, we must ask, is the insight of Heidegger not on a par with the vision of Balaam, a wild blindness that uncannily empowers one with the ability to see the semblance of the shadow of truth even as one is blinded to the semblance of the truth of one’s own shadow?”[24] A latter day Balaam has shed much good light on the tents of our Feast of Tabernacles, much as the biblical Balaam utters, very much despite himself, “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel” (Numbers 24:5).


[1] I am indebted to Professor Michael Fagenblat and Dr. Naor Bar Zeev for their feedback and insights. Thanks to my daughter Rivka for providing feedback on an earlier draft.

[2] Daniel Herskowitz, “Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Endorsement and Critique of Volkish Thought,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14.3 (2015): 373-390; Daniel Herskowitz and Alon Shalev, “Being-towards-Eternity: R. Isaac Hutner’s Adaptation of a Heideggerian Notion,” The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 26.2 (2018): 254-277.

[3] Theodore R. Schatzki, “Early Heidegger on being, the clearing, and realism,” Revue Internationale de Philosophie (1989): 80-102.

[4] Matthew Ratcliffe, “Why Mood Matters,” in The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger’s Being and Time (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 157-76.

[5] Ralph P. Hummel, “A once and future politics: Heidegger’s recovery of the political in Parmenides,” Administrative Theory & Praxis 26.3 (2004): 279-303.

[6] Hubert L. Dreyfus, “Heidegger on Gaining a Free Relation to Technology,” in Technology and Values, ed. Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Laura Westra (Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997), 41-54.

[7] For instance, Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, who is indebted to Heidegger, nonetheless defined God as “Being-Itself” rather than dasein – a state that is outside the structure of being and beyond its limitations. See Thomas F. O’Meara, “Tillich and Heidegger: A structural relationship,” The Harvard Theological Review 61.2 (1968): 249-261.

[8] Elliot R. Wolfson, Heidegger and Kabbalah: Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiēsis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019), 275.

[9] Joseph B.Soloveitchik, “Sanctity, Lovingkindness and the Metaphysics of Creation,” Shem V-Yefet 3.1 (1995): 174-179.

[10] Elliot R. Wolfson, “Fore/giveness on the Way: Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images 4 (1998): 153; J. Ross Wagner, “Old Greek Isaiah 1:13: Early Evidence for the ‘Great Day’ as a Name for Yom Kippur?” in The Early Reception of the Book of Isaiah, eds. Kristin De Troyer and Barbara Schmitz (Boston: De Gruyter, 2018), 91-111.

[11] Solomon B. Freehof, “Hazkarath Neshamoth,” Hebrew Union College Annual 36 (1965): 179-189.

[12] Luce Irigaray, “The Fecundity of the Caress,” in Feminist Interpretations of Emmanuel Levinas, ed. Tina Chanter (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001). I am indebted to Naor Bar Zeev for this train of thought.

[13] Eva Maria Korsisaari, “The Ethics of Elemental Passions in Eugène Guillevic and Luce Irigaray.” in Thinking Life with Luce Irigaray: Language, Origin, Art, Love, ed. Gail M. Schwab (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2020), 252.

[14] Yaakov Medan, audio lecture archived here, at 2:46:10-3:29:31.

[15] 5:199, quoted in Arthur Green, The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger (Philadelphia: JPS, 1988), 362.

[16] Dreyfus, “Free Relation to Technology,” 47.

[17] Translation by Marty Lockshin, “Why Isn’t Sukkot in the Spring?

[18] Noga Hareuveni, cited in Yoel Bin-Nun, Zakhor VeShamor: The Meeting of Nature and History in the Sabbath and Festival Calendar (Heb.) (Tevunot, 2015), 161 n. 11.

[19] Tamara Prosic, “Passover in Biblical Narratives,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 24.82 (1999): 45-55.

[20] Zvi Ron, “Ezra, the First Rabbi,” Jewish Bible Quarterly 44.1 (2016): 37.

[21] John McCumber, “Language,” in The Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger, eds. Francois Raffoul and Eric S. Nelson (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013): 303-309.

[22] Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, “The Symbolism of the Sukkah,” Judaism 43.4 (1994): 371.

[23] Michael Fagenblat, “The Thing That Scares Me Most: Heidegger’s Anti-Semitism and the Return to Zion,” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 14 (2014): 8-24.

[24] Elliot R. Wolfson, The Duplicity of Philosophy’s Shadow (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 168.

Aton Holzer is Director of the Mohs Surgery Clinic in the Department of Dermatology, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, and is an assistant editor of the recent RCA Siddur Avodat HaLev.