Upon a Certain Place: On the Dialectics of Transmitting Tradition in the Work of Haim Be’er

In: Zutot

Haim Beʾer is recognized by Hebrew literary criticism as a writer who conducts a profound dialogue between ancient Jewish texts and modern Jewish-Israeli culture. This article offers a critical appraisal of this view. Through a reading of Beʾer’s novel Lifnei ha-makom (Upon a Certain Place, 2007), the article offers a new way of looking at how Beʾer sees the relation between old and new. Instead of mediating between tradition and modernity and translating the old for a generation that has partly severed ties with it, Lifnei ha-makom undermines the very mediation that is so much identified with Beʾer’s work. Beʾer’s novel boldly examines what it means to live a Jewish life almost devoid of books. The role of tradition, in this scheme, is to be present in the world of the new generation without undergoing interpretation. The article links between this attitude and deep processes in contemporary Israeli culture.

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    Ibid.13–17.

  • 3

    Ibid.10.

  • 8

    Y. Schwartz‘Ha-sefer ʿal ha-sefer ʿal ha-sefer (shelo nikhtav),’ Haʾaretz SefarimSept. 2007. Among the range of connections between Beʾer’s Lifnei ha-makom and Agnon’s Oreah natah lalun (A Guest for the Night) of special note is the role of the ‘narrator as author’ as described in G. Shaked Omanut ha-sipur shel Agnon (Tel Aviv 1973) 228–278.

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  • 15

    S.Y. Agnon‘Ha-adonit veha-rokhel,’ in Samukh ve-nirʾeh (new edition Jerusalem and Tel Aviv 1998) 75–83.

  • 20

    Soker-Schweiger‘Ha-libah ha-hasera’ 115.

  • 21

    H. Weiss‘Mi sheyivakesh ʿelbonah shel sefer Torah hu yivakesh ʿelboni,’ Makor rishon musaf sefarimSeptember 26 2007.

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