Daniel RAVEH


This paper aims to think or rethink the concept of home as the contemporary avatar of the age-old question of self-identity. In dialogue with Shlomo Biderman, a comparative philosopher without borders who feels at home both in Jewish and Indian sources, the author assembles a philosophical jigsaw-puzzle made of different materials from different thinking traditions in attempt to reveal a new picture of home (and self) compatible with the changing world of immigration, relocation, dislocation and displacement, a world of emigrants, refugees and exiles, in which we live. The puzzle pieces include Plato’s cave, Isaiah Berlin’s “inner citadel”, Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s “Ad Hena”, Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”, Salman Rushdie’s “Imaginary Homelands”, Midrash Bereshit Rabbah, the Bhagavadgītā and Śaṅkara, Paul de Man on translation and Zarina Hashmi’s artwork “Home is a Foreign Place”. The discussion culminates in reflection on translation and the foreignness embedded even in one’s own mother tongue which only the translator (or Rushdie’s “translated man”) can see and feel. If foreignness and alienation are recognized as the common human denominator, and one can sober up from the fantasy of restoring an Edenic past (and language), primordial and complete, then perhaps from within the shards of language, of humanity, a different type of home can be envisioned, based on solidarity and compassion.