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Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality

A Reader

Edited by Elliot N. Dorff and Louis E. Newman

Publication Date - 30 March 1995

ISBN: 9780195090666

488 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Over the past decade much significant new work has appeared in the field of Jewish ethics. While much of this work has been devoted to issues in applied ethics, a number of important essays have explored central themes within the tradition and clarified the theoretical foundations of Jewish ethics. This important text grew out of the need for a single work which accurately and conveniently reflects these developments within the field.
The first text of its kind in almost two decades, Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality presents wide-ranging and carefully organized recent essays on Jewish ethical theory and practice. Serving as an introduction to Jewish ethics, it acquaints the student with the distinctive methodological issues involved and offers a sampling of Jewish positions on contemporary moral problems. The book features work from both traditionalist and liberal contributors, making this the only volume which encompasses the full range of contemporary Jewish ethical perspectives. Writers such as Harold Schulweis, Judith Plaskow, David Novak, David Hartman, and Blu Greenberg discuss law and ethics, natural law, humility, justice, sex and the family, euthanasia, and other vital issues relating to modern Judaism. Many of the readings appear here for the first time, making this important text the most timely sourcebook in its field. Uniquely qualified to reflect the high level and depth of contemporary work in this area of study, Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality is an essential contribution to any course dealing with Jewish ethics.


"Not only the first book of Jewish ethics and morality in two decades, it is also a landmark work on the leading edge of Jewish thought. One of the remarkable features of this anthology is the scope of the views it presents....Because it is accessible to a wide audience, lay persons who must face agonizing choices will find this meaningful work an excellent guide to decision-making....This anthology is an absolute necessity for the contemporary Jew who wants to strive to live a thoughtful and meaningful life. It has to be read slowly, savored, and constantly reviewed. It does not belong on the shelves of rabbis, Jewish scholars, ethicists, and ordinary people, but in their hands. It is simply the best in its field. It is post-modern and it will endure." --The Jerusalem Post Magazine

"An excellent collection of articles! It is a much-needed and up-to-date replacement for Kellner's Contemporary Jewish Ethics. Exactly the book I have been waiting for to use in my Jewish Ethics course."--Jeffrey Rubenstein, New York University

"Superb! Very perceptive and comprehensive in its topic. It filled out a neglected area of previous study and gave me some frameworks for evaluating Christian Ethics."--Prof. Kennard, Moody Bible Institute

"Having taught Jewish Ethics for ten years, I have been searching for a textbook so comprehensive and thorough. It is a very valuable contribution to the field and a blessing for instructors and students."--Stanley Wagner, University of Denver

"A valuable collection of thirty-two essays, gathered into two parts, that presents the vast resources and diversity of Jewish ethics....This collection is an essential resource to students and scholars of religious ethics, and is indispensable for college, university, and seminary libraries."--Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, Youngstown State University

Table of Contents

    Editors' Introduction
    A. The Literature and Context of Jewish Ethics.
    1. Menachem Kellner, "The Structure of Jewish Ethics".
    B. Theoretical Issues in Jewish Ethics.
    1. Louis Newman, "Ethics as Law, Law as Religion". 2. David Novak, "Natural Law, Halakah, and the Covenant". 3. Harold Schluweid, "The Single Mirror of Jewish Images". 4. Elliot Dorff, "Covenant: The Transcendent Thrust in Jewish Law".
    C. Reconceptualizing Jewish Ethics in Modern Times.
    1. S. Daniel Breslauer, "Modernizing American Jewish Ethics: The Liberal Dilemma". 2. Eugene Borowitz, "The Jewish Self". 3. Richard J. Israel, "Jewish Tradition and Political Action".
    D. Methodological Problems: The Case of Jewish Medical Ethics.
    1. David Elleson, "How to Draw Guidance from a Heritage: Moral Choices". 2. Louis Newman, "Woodchoppers and Respirators: The Problem of Interpretation". 3. Elliot Dorff, " A Methodology for Jewish Medical Ethics". 4. Aaron Mackler, "Cases and Principles in Jewish Bioethics".
    E. Alternative Visions of Jewish Ethics.
    1. Michael Morgan, "Jewish Ethics After the Holocaust". 2. Laurie Zolof-Dorfman, "An Ethics of Encounter: Public Choices and Private Acts". 3. Annette Aronowicz, "Emmanuel Levinas' Talmudic Commentaries".
    II: Jewish Morality
    A. Traditional Jewish Virtues and Values.
    1. Alfred Jospe, "The Meaning of Jewish Existence". 2. Sol Roth, "Towards a Definition of Humility".
    B. Jewish Perspectives on Sex and Family.
    1. David Novak, "Some Aspects of Sex, Society and God in Judaism". 2. Arthur Waskow, "Down-to-Earth Judiasm: Sexuality". 3. Martha Ackelsberg, "Jewish Family Ethics in Post-Halakhic Age". 4. Blu Greenberg, "The Theoretical Basis of Women's Equality in Judaism".
    C. Jewish Perspectives on Social Problems.
    1. Robert Gordis, "Ecology and the Judaic Tradition". 2. Seymour Siegel, "A Jewish View of Economic Justice". 3. Elie Spitz, "Jewish Tradition and Capital Punishment".
    D. Jewish Perspectives on Medical Ethics.
    1. Fred Rosner, "Euthanasia". 2. Byron Sherwin, "Euthanasia: A Jewish View". 3. David Feldman, "This Matter of Abortion". 4. Sandra Lubarsky, "Judaism and the Justification of Abortion for Non-Medical Reasons".
    E. Jewish Perspectives on Politics and Power: The State of Israel.
    1. Irving Greenberg, "The Ethics Of Jewish Power". 2. Judith Plaskow, "Feminist Reflections on the State of Israel". 3. David Hartman, "Living with Conflicting Values". 4. Einat Ramon, "The Ethics of Ruling a Jewish State with a Large Non-Jewish Minority".
    Epilogue: The Future of Jewish Ethics and Morals