Shmuel Trigano is Professor of Sociology of Religion and Politics at the University of Paris. He has published 18 books in the fields of Jewish (Political) Philosophy, Jewish Identity, Jewish Modernity, Contemporary Judaism, French Jewry, Sociology of Religion and Politics, and more. He has edited numerous collective books in the domains of Jewish History, Jewish Thought, Jewish Memory.
Among his publications, The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah: The Unconscious in Political Modernity was published in English by SUNY Press in 2009 and in Hebrew by Ben Gurion University Press in 2010. His most recent English-language publication, Philosophy of the Law, was published by Shalem Press in 2012. Prof David Novak (University of Toronto) wrote about this book “Until recently, one could say that there were only two original Jewish metaphysics developed by authentically Jewish thinkers in the 20th century. The first is that of Franz Rosenzweig, developed in his magnum opus, The Star of Redemption. The second is that of Abraham Isaac Kook, developed in several of his collections of meditations. But we now have the third such metaphysics, developed by Shmuel Trigano in his massive work”.
Trigano's most recent new work, Judaism and the spirit of the world (French, 2011), proposes a global theory of Judaism as a living and symbolical system. It has been welcomed by the French newspaper Le Monde as "a far-reaching masterpiece, which will become a reference book."
Trigano is Founding Director of the College of Jewish Studies (founded in 1986) at the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris, an Institute which proposes seminars, lectures and conferences in Jewish thought and tradition, to a large cultured audience (http://www.aiu.org/). He is also Founding Director of Pardès, a European Journal of Jewish Studies and Culture (www.inpress.fr) and of Controverses (http://www.controverses.fr ), a journal of political ideas. In 2001, he created a research center devoted to the analysis of contemporary antisemitism. He is president of the Observatoire du monde juif which has published numerous bulletins and booklets (http://obs.monde.juif.free.fr).
In the Torah, God is invisible. “You cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live” (Ex 33:20). Nevertheless God is present, and even appears, through his voice—“and all the people saw the voices...” (Ex 20:14). While there may be no epiphany in the Torah, there is epiphony.
How is it possible to see a voice? God’s presence is somehow gathered in and made apparent in his voice. But how?
What is a voice that does not emerge from a ribcage modulated by vocal cords? If God has no body, how can he be said to speak?
What is the status of this voice in Israel’s experience? The Jewish-philosophic, Zoharic, and Talmudic literature end up in a hermeneutic theory that rules on the status of the text. How does the voice imply that the text must be explained? Focusing the discourse on social convention, metaphor, illustration, and negative attributes neglects understanding the status of the language.
The process of the divine word and communication between God and Israel are analyzed according to their description in the Torah. In the background of the Torah’s text is a subtle and sophisticated theory of language. God’s voice is heard in human discourse.
What is it that this voice says? It articulates various kinds of discourse, in particular, legal and narrative.
The presence heard in God’s voice is real without being material. How can this be? The paradox is particularly sharp in the Jewish viewpoint, for in Hebrew God is called “Being.” How do we understand that Being has, or is, a voice? Being has not since Being is not a body. Being is not since the Hebrew “to be” verb has no present tense. Perhaps this being can be understood as this voice. In the secret of this strange voice stands the secret of God’s presence, the secret of being.