Agnon’s Days of Awe
Aside from S.Y. Agnon’s best selling volume “Yamim Noraim” (“Days of Awe” – An anthology of Torah sources on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur), the Nobel laureate featured the High Holy Days in many of his most enigmatic tales. In preparation for the High Holy Days join Rabbi Jeffrey Saks as he looks at some of these short stories from a literary perspective, while unraveling the “intertexts” of classical Jewish sources from which Agnon drew, and explore the resonances between text and master text.
Agnon’s Days of Awe: Lesson 1
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur play a large role in the writings of Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon. His well-known anthology of classical sources on the High Holy Days, Yamim Noraim, is available in abridged translation as The Days of Awe.(https://amzn.com/0805210482).
But these holidays also feature throughout his fiction – and nowhere more than in his surreal tales collected under the heading “Sefer HaMa’asim.” Will explore one of these stories – “Al HaTorah” (in English as “On the Torah,” forthcoming in a new collection to be entitled The Outcast from the Toby Press) (http://www.tobypress.com/agnon).
The main thing in reading the story, which is set on Shabbat Shuvah, is to try to identify anything that serves as a symbol – even if its meaning or interpretation is not perfectly clear.
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).