"The Messiah was at the gates of Rome unrecognized, dressed in rags. But one man who recognized that this was the Messiah went up to him and asked him, ‘When will you come?’ I think this is very profound. It means that there is some inadequation between the now and now. He is coming now; the messianic does not wait. This is a way of waiting for the future, right now.
The responsibilities that are assigned to us by this messianic structure are responsibilities for here and now. The Messiah is not some future present; it is imminent and it is this imminence that I am describing under the name of messianic structure."
- Jacques Derrida
According to Levinas and Derrida's ethic of hospitality, there is an infinite and unconditional obligation to not look away from the Other. And it is this which is our basic moral obligation. While for Kant, this was a universalist claim (his Golden Rule), for Derrida, it was much more personal and particular--but with the focus always on the other (or the relation between the self and other). Derrida liked a story he heard from Maurice Blanchot:
The Messiah was at the gates of Rome unrecognized, dressed in rags. But one man who recognized that this was the Messiah went up to him and asked him, ‘When will you come?’
Derrida did not believe any messiah would ever come. And yet he insisted that this messianic structure was what opened human beings up to ethical goodness.