2012-2013 Lectures

Yair Lorberbaum, “The Concept of the ‘Decree of Scripture’ (Gezerat Ha-Katuv) in the Thought of Maimonides”

February 6, 2013

2011-2012 Lectures

Hannah Kasher, “On Ultimate Punishment According to Jewish Philosophy: Between R. Saadia Gaon and Moses Mendelssohn”

February 15, 2012

2010-2011 Lectures

Warren Zev Harvey, “Rabbi Nissim of Girona on the Constitutional Power of the Sovereign”

October 21, 2010

2009-2010 Lectures

Isaiah Gafni, “From Temple to Text: Rabbinic Judaism as Default or Destiny

February 3, 2010

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), the sages of Yavneh and their successors provided the Jewish community with a wide range    of alternative frameworks for religious expression. The question that will be   addressed is: Were these steps perceived as temporary and intended to fill the immediate void created by the destruction, or were they intended to provide for a long-term, and possibly even more spiritualized context for future Judaism?

2008-2009 Lectures

Gerald Blidstein, “Human Dignity as a Norm of Jewish Law”

March 18, 2009

2007-2008 Lectures

Arye Edrei, “The Case of the Sabbatical Year Polemic: Jewish Law, Nationaism and Reimagining the Community”

February 7, 2008

2006-2007 Lectures

Hanina Ben-Menahem, “Jewish Law and the Myth of Formalism: (Mis)readings of Jewish Law from Paul to the Present”

September 18, 2006

For almost 2,000 years, Jewish law has been denounced as a pedantic, hyper-legalistic system in which rights and duties are determined by splitting hairs and nit-picking, and not on the merits. The claim is that Jewish law focuses on abstract concepts, and gives little consideration to either human needs and real-life situations, or universal ethical imperatives. Despite its utter invalidity, the criticism, already voiced by St. Paul, continues to this day. This lecture will explore the factors that conspired to produce this distorted view of Jewish law, and the polemical background against which it emerged.

2005-2006 Lectures

Rachel Levmore, “Israel as the Jewish-Democratic State: Straddling the Hyphen”

March 1, 2006

Rachel Levmore, a rabbinical court advocate in Israel, will compare the two very different systems of divorce courts in the State of Israel, the State Family Court and the Rabbinical Court (Beth Din), and describe the areas of jurisdiction of each. The method of attaining a divorce in Israel, which has no civil marriage or divorce, contrasts sharply with the divorce process in the Diaspora. This lecture will explore the ramifications of this contrast for all Jews in Israel, regardless of religious affiliation, as well as implications for Jews of the Diaspora.