Shani Tzoref deposited Knowing the Heart of the Stranger: Empathy, Remembrance, and Narrative in Jewish Reception of Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 10:19, and Parallels on Humanities Commons 3 years, 5 months ago
With its exhortation “You shall also love the stranger (gēr), for you were strangers (gērîm) in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19), the book of Deuteronomy helps cultivate a healthy and appreciative sense of past hardship, current prosperity, progress, and relative privilege. In contemporary culture, where the term “privilege” has become an unfortunate source of contention, Deuteronomy might point a way for recognition of one’s relative privilege in regard to an Other as a basis for gratitude and responsibility. This essay argues that we* have gained “privilege” after having been immigrants and strangers in a strange land. Privilege could become an empowering and challenging exercise of counting one’s blessings and considering how these could be used for the benefit of others, including strangers in our land.
note: by “we” i refer to an imagined body of contemporary readers of Deuteronomy who identify with the implied long-range audience of the book– generations of spiritual heirs to Moses’s addressees, and specifically to Jewish and Christian Americans whose identities and stories fall within the American tradition of migration. This was an odd locution, and maybe somewhat infelicitous, especially for broad distribution; I guess it reflected my perception of my implied readers when I first published this piece in Interpretation.