Judaism, Chesed and Social Justice

During my last month in Cape Town, I gave a series of lectures on the fundamental Jewish values of kindness and social justice for the Midrasha programme. We discussed the space that the concern for improving the world occupies in the matrix of Jewish values and identified the foundations of Judaism’s ethical commitments.

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Is Tikkun Olam a Jewish Idea?
By on April 19, 2016 In this class, we pose the timely and provocative question as to whether the Jewish values we have been discussing apply to our behaviour toward all human beings or just to Jews. Many Jews promote the concept of tikkun olam as denoting a Jewish concern with all humanity. But what Read More
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Tzedakah – Understanding a Paradoxical Concept
By on April 19, 2016 In English, the words ‘charity’ and ‘justice’ denote two very different concepts. As we discuss in this class, the word tzedakah combines these two themes to create a new understanding of our responsibilities to others. This gives us opportunity to explore the idea of human responsibility more broadly and to Read More
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The Jewish Value of Chesed
By on April 19, 2016 In 1535, when Miles Coverdale was working on the first ever translation of the Hebrew Bible, he struggled to find a word in the English language which would accurately convey the meaning of ‘chesed’. Realising the distinctive nature of this concept, he coined a new English word, ‘loving-kindness’. In this Read More
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Is Happiness the Meaning of Life?
By on April 19, 2016 Before we can really engage with Jewish ethical issues, we need to tackle the most fundamental question of all. What is this thing called life all about? What do we live for and what are the supreme values which shape the goals we strive for and the standards by which Read More
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Judaism, Chesed and Social Justice – Does it Really Matter?
By on April 15, 2016 In this lecture, we discussed the claim that kindness and ethics are central to Judaism and tackled the question of whether Judaism can provide the basis for a distinctive Jewish contribution to some of the world’s problems. These ideas helped us to engage in a discussion of the thorny issue Read More