Articles

Tyron Goldschmidt and I have finished a first rough draft of a somewhat crazy paper. It explores numerous Jewish sources that speak of God changing the past. We try to make sense of the metaphysics and the theology of the promise of a new past. We’d be grateful to hear any comments or suggestions that...
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The paper that I recently posted about Negative Theology received hundreds of hits on academia.edu – I was surprised to see it generate that sort of interest. In actual fact, that paper grew out of my work on the Izhbitza Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner, some of which I have discussed in blogs on this...
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I've just finished a draft of a paper on negative theology. In tangential ways, it was inspired by work I'm currently doing on the Izhbitza Rebbe. I'd really love to see if people have comments for me, so that I can improve it. Thanks in advance!
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Rabbi Soloveitchik isolates a variety of types of repentance that emerge from the classical Jewish texts. In this paper, I reflect upon three of them, their inter-relationship and their philosophical significance – concentrating especially on the following question, in what sense are you able to become a new person? In one of the central Biblical...
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The Talmud debates whether there is such a thing as ‘breira’ or not. ‘Breira’ literally means clarification, but in the Talmudic debate that I’m talking about, it would better be translated as retroactive clarification…. or something like that. If a legal system allows for breira, then agents are allowed, in certain circumstances, to say, ‘x...
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The relationship between Judaism and philosophy has been the subject of discussion at least since Late Antiquity. Often, however, philosophy is reified as a distinct body of knowledge, the views of Epicurus and his followers, Aristotle’s corpus, or the very idea of the self-sufficiency of human reason, and viewed as either in conflict or agreement...
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I was recently asked to write an article of philosophical interest for a Jewish publication. The content is aimed at the lay-person, but perhaps people here will find it interesting. I’d be grateful, as ever, for your comments. As a modernorthodox Jew, I am keenly aware of the value and weight that we place uponsecular...
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In the recent past John Hick has produced a significant amount of material defending a particular kind of religious pluralism. Even if one disagrees with Hick’s version thereof, a religion’s theological flexibility to incorporate a just pluralism of one sort or another is seen to be a virtue of said religion. A theology that promotes...
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There is an argument known as the Kuzari Principle. It tries to justify belief in whole swathes of the Biblical narrative, especially in the revelation at Mount Sinai. In this blog post, I hope to show that the argument is much stronger than it might seem. The name of the argument is slightly unfair, as it was first put forward not in R. Yehuda Halevi's Kuzari, but in Saadya Gaon's Emunot Vadeot.
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Rosh Hashana is a day to contemplate the need for great Jewish Ideas. A day to think big. To get out of our compartmentalized boxes. Hayom Harat Olam: Today the world is born. On Rosh Hashana the world should be newly created. This is specifically important for the future of Judaism.
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Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo Does Judaism really need animal sacrifices? Would it not be better off without them? After all, does the sacrificial cult not compromise Judaism? What does a highly ethical religion have to do with the collecting of blood in vessels and the burning of animal limbs on an altar? No doubt...
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Having spent some time thinking about medieval approaches to the freewill problem – the apparent contradiction between God’s foreknowledge and our freedom – Rabbi Herzl Hefter introduced me to the work of the Chassidic Rebbe, R. Mordechai Yosef Leiner, otherwise known as the Izbicer. In this blog, I want to present what I take to...
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What on earth is the philosophy of Judaism? There are six elements. Each has roots in the Pentateuch. It is part of the mystery of Jewish identity that these principles produce techniques that are fecund and unembarrassing in the hands of avowed secularists.
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It strikes me that the solution proposed by Maimonides to the freewill problem has been wrongly equated with the solution put forward by Boethius. In what follows, I try to explain how the two proposals differ. I’d love to hear people’s feedback on this, as I’m no real Maimonides scholar. Have other people noted this...
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I’ve written a short little book that is a re-writing of Rav Hirsch’s Nineteen Letters. The re-working tries to package the key ideas in modern language and reapply them to different historical circumstances. Here is an edited excerpt from the manuscript. It’s aimed for a lay audience, and tries to be accessible to young adults....
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