Thursday, August 05, 2004

Eliezer Berkovits and the Authority

One of the most revolutionary "team comics" in recent years has been The Authority. More than X-Factor/X-Static (which never lived up to its original promise) and even more that the varous Ultimate Marvel series, skirting irony/non-irony issue, it plays out the question of what would you do with unlimited powers and a clear "moral" vision. If one can tolerate the downsides of the series, this is one of the better Superhero teams in recent years.

Eliezer Berkovits is one of more underappreciated Orthodox Jewish Philosophers of the 20th Century. Though now that David Hazony of the Shalem Center is working on a PhD on Berkovits at Hebrew U. , Azure and the Shalem Center is created more buzz about Berkovits and bringing his writings and ideas into the public sphere.

EB had many interesting and important ideas, and one of them, as highlighted in a recent Azure article was his vision of Zionism. For Berkovits, Zionism was not about the creation of a Messianic Era, but rather the fulfillment of Judaism and its moral vision as it was meant to be without the shakles of exile. This is tied to his ideas about opening halakhah from its fossilization by hundreds of years of codifications. In Berkovits thought, the Jewish State is where where an autonomous Jewish people can fulfill the Biblical mandates, as expressed through halakhah.

The Authority, as led by Jenny Sparks, saves the world as they see fit and feels no compulsion about overthrowing tyrants, challenging the United Nations and the United States, or letting some people die for the greater good of humanity. Their vision is not the messianic vision of Miracle Man, Earth X/Universe X, or Kingdom Come, but an application of their sense of right and wrong on a global and universal scale.

For both the Authority & Berkovits, realizing your moral vision does not require a Messianic era, but rather the autonomy to impliment your own sense of right and wrong.

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