By Shaul Magid
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Additional resources for Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism, Christianity, and the Construction of Modern Judaism
Ecclesiastes When a great man speaks, he need not tell us about his character in order to reveal it to us. Language takes care of that. Martin Buber, “Hebrew Humanism” In speaking of the appearance of the Savior among us we must also speak of the origin of humanity. ” Badiou suggests that charisma as “gift” represents the founding of the subject outside what is due to it, that is, the subject as born from grace and not as a result of works (Rom. 1 Redemption, as the universal, is only possible, argues Badiou, through charisma as it is only charisma, as the gift of what is not due, that can extend through the law and beyond it to the universal reach of grace.
This is a highly suggestive reversal of how the tradition understood humanness. Here Moses merited speech through his transcendence of the corporeal. 66 Bornstein used this observation to explain the rabbinic comment that the statute of the red heifer [Num. 19:2] was revealed only to Moses, and that he did not, or could not, reveal it to Israel. It was said that Israel had access to the forty-nine levels of understanding but only Moses had access to the fiftieth level. It is this fiftieth level where the body transcends its corporeal state and reaches a state of “unchangeability” [bli shinui], a phrase almost always exclusive to the divine.
The primordial Abraham owns the hesed that then emanates into the world. However, when the corporeal Abraham perfects his body—we can say divinizes his body—he embodies this attribute of hesed, making the primordial Abraham superfluous (“By means of his [Abraham’s] righteousness and the merit of his pure body he made a complete chariot for my attribute [of kindness]”). The description of Abraham as “advanced in years” means that this attribute [hesed] descended and became corporeal [nitgashma] until it became “well-rooted” in a holy physical body, literally in this world.