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Jewish Ethics and Law

Chabad at Oxford

41:44
Euthanasia in Halacha. An in-depth class on the philosophical background of Judaism's opposition to this practice.
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46:38
A scholarly analysis of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's innovative approach to the interpretation of Rashi's Biblical commentary. Exploring some examples of this novel approach.
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53:26
Part two of an in-depth class on the Sages' conceptualization of humiliation.
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40:01
An in-depth class on the Sages' conceptualization of humiliation.
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25:37
A survey of the material in Jewish law regarding the future permissibility of pork during the Messianic era.
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3 Videos
This three-part series is an in-depth analysis of the mitzvah to honor one's parents. To what extent must one go? What if a parent instructs one to break a law?
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43:45
A discussion regarding DNA testing in Rabbinical courts, including identifying someone as deceased, paternity testing, and proof of Jewish identity.
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26:34
A rabbinic lens into conflict avoidance
"A cistern that is close to a waterway gets filled first", an enigmatic piece of Talmud, a teaching from the first Rebbe of Sochatchov (the Avnei Nezer), and the story of Rabbi Akiva.
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44:36
The lunar calendar and the Talmud
Expert on Medieval Hebrew manuscripts, Dr. Israel Sandman examines an obscure and cryptic passage of Talmud in light of a manuscript of 'Yesod Olam' by thirteenth century Jewish scholar and astronomer Isaac Israeli.
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25:18
The interplay of Halacha and Kabbalah in the thought of Rabbi Shimon
An exploration of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's halachik approach and how it mirrors his mystical outlook. Examples from the laws of Muktzah and intention in regards to work on Shabbos. Also exploring Aggadic passages of the Talmud about Rabbi Shimon.
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28:20
Examining the prohibition of eating 'Kitniyot' (legumes) on Passover
Examining the background of the kitniyot prohibition. Why it was accepted by Ashkenazic Jewry but not Sephardic Jewry. Looking at how the third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek sourced this prohibition.
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57:40
A philosophical perspective on the inherent sanctity of morality
An exploration of Natural Law in Judaic perspective, looking from Isaiah Berlin, to David Hume, Immanuel Kant, the Sophists, Aristotle and ultimately to Jewish sources, including Philo, Malachi and others..
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49:24
Do people with mistaken beliefs merit the world to come?
Clarifying seemingly contradictory statements from Maimonides on his attitude towards heretics. Looking at how others, (particularly the Kabbalists) viewed Maimonides' attitude toward people who have erroneous beliefs. And the importance of correct belief vs correct intention.
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25:33
Does one have a right to conscientiously object according to Judaism?
Examples from Tanakh, Jewish history and contemporary medical ethics.
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49:44
A Talmudic reading on when life trumps religious duty and vice versa
"You shall live by the commandments," the Talmud tells us, "and not die by them." Yet there are three cardinal sins that one must give one's life for rather than transgress. How did the Rabbi's reach this conclusion? A reading of Sanhedrin 74a.
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48:29
Retributive justification and its role in incarnation
An exploration of retributive justification and parole in modern legal philosophy, and the role of human dignity in the rabbinic theory of justice.
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38:03
A philosophical exploration of a Talmudic dictum highlights the intrinsic value of law
"He who has been commanded and fulfills the command," the Talmud says, "is greater than he who fulfills though not commanded." This suggests that laws are valuable not only because they ensure proper behavior, but because the binding nature of these duties embodies something of intrinsic value, beyond utilitarianism
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51:52
Reflections on the Composition and Study of the Talmud
The Talmud is a voluminous compendium of Jewish legal discussion and law. In this lecture Professor Sacha Stern gives a general overview of this ancient text and reflects on its increasing popularity.
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49:13
The historically evolving contours of an ongoing halachic problem
In the 19th century the problem of "agunot" was widely dealt with in rabbinic literature, and often surfaced in the popular press. In the 21st century the same problems exist but new technologies and ease of communication are changing things both for better and for worse.
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32:59
Collective Jewish identity cultivated through prayer
May a Jewish convert of non-Jewish ancestry truthfully refer to G-d as “the G-d of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?” Maimonides unequivocally ruled affirmatively, arguing that Abraham is truly the spiritual father of all Jews, and allowing converts to feel themselves fully a part of the Jewish collective.
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51:19
A Talmudic Discussion of the Parameters of Intent
An intellectually stimulating analysis of the Talmudic principal of exemption in cases of unintentional transgression (“davar she’eino mitkavein”). Rabbi Wallberg explores the parameters of this principle vis-à-vis the qualifying rule of inevitability (“p’sik reisha”).
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30:09
In a discussion ranging across the Talmud, medieval and modern commentators have struggled to understand the rationale governing action, intention and culpability.
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38:03
New Technologies Raise Ethical Dilemmas
New technologies now enable the radical enhancement of human capabilities. These opportunities present complex moral and philosophical dilemmas that are difficult to navigate, and touch on the more essential question, what does it mean to be human? At what point does enhancement actually change who we are?
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19:06
An Interpretation of Rashi’s View
Hillel famously said "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah." While most understand this to refer to the relationship between man and man, Rashi interpreted it to refer to the relationship between man and G-d.
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35:03
A Talmudic Perspective
An introduction to Talmudic study by way of analyzing how Jewish law would handle the scenario contrived by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice.
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51:25
Historic roots and current directions in bioethics
Leveling a critique at widely accepted principles of medical ethics, Professor Glick argues that medical ethics cannot be based only on biology or philosophy, but on the “sanctity of human life." (A Professor David Sevel Memorial Lecture)
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48:35
A Jewish Ethical Perspective
A leading physician asks, "When is it ethical to provide experimental or risky treatment for a patient?" Special attention is given to differences between secular and halachic principles of patient care.
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39:46
A Jewish view on synthetic biology
Does Torah allow or prohibit genetic engineering? What are the sources in Torah to argue either way?
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38:02
Medical Ethics and the End of Life
In 2005 a law was passed in Israel regulating the treatment of dying patients. Its most controversial aspect was the distinction it makes between withholding therapy (which it allows) and withdrawing continuous therapy (which it does not allow). Prof. Charles Sprung, director of the ICU at Hadassah Medical Center, helped write this law. Here he talks about how the law came to be and how it attempted to satisfy Jewish law (halachah).
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42:14
Rambam’s approach to human dignity
This lecture begins with an overview of Maimonides’ unparalleled contributions to Jewish scholarship, and then focuses on Maimonides’ approach to explaining the biblical institution of slavery.
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20:50
The Economics of Inconsistency
The "transitive property" states that whenever A > B and B > C, then A > C. Does Jewish law always uphold "transitivity" or does it allow for a "nontransitive cycles" as well?
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32:27
The Philosophy of "Just War" in Judaism
An overview of the Jewish position on when armed conflict is justified. The Jewish view is contrasted with "Just War Theory."
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49:57
Calculating the Lunar Cycle
Astrophysicist, Dr. Jeremy Schnittman, discusses how studying astronomy can be a spiritual experience and explains the astoundingly accurate calculations that the Sages used for determining the appearance of the new moon.
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20:59
Halachah and the limits of rationality
Professor Rabbi Ozer Glickman of Yeshiva University posits a “legal theory” of Torah law that compares and contrasts the ideas of morality, legality, rationality and obligation.
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23:17
A Jewish Perspective on Euthanasia
Based on case studies and personal experience, a Jewish clinician takes a practical look at the arguments both for and against euthanasia and how they square with the ethics of Torah.
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27:11
Resolving matters of halachic dispute
Is the Torah’s process for determining halachah an attempt to arrive at the one true answer, or are there multiple truths?
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42:25
Maimonides on the Role of Monarchy
An overview of traditional Jewish sources on the pros and cons of autocratic rule with a special emphasis given to the opinion of Maimonides.
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38:19
Impudence in Jewish Law
Jewish legal opinions on the issue of one who behaves in a way that is impudent without actually breaking any specific law.
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39:30
The Six Categories of Torah Law
An overview of six different categories of Jewish law including oral traditions from Moses, laws extrapolated from Scripture, and laws that were later legislated by the Sages.
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42:03
A history of the canonization of the Bible
In contrast to newfangled, secular accounts of how the Torah came to be, Jewish tradition has its own thorough account of how the Torah was recorded and transmitted.
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26:45
Torah does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. The pros and cons of alcohol as seen through the lens of Jewish law and tradition.
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23:07
The Ethics of Extrajudicial Execution
In the wake of the news of the killing Osama bin Laden, Rabbi Brackman looks to the Torah to answer the question, "Is it ever ethical and just to execute someone without due process of law?"
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21:26
Gender Differences in Halacha
An examination of the Jewish legal axiom that exempts women from positive time-bound commandments. Presented by Freida Brackman, Co-Director of Chabad of Oxford. Recorded at Chabad of Oxford University.
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45:20
How the Sages Derived Torah Law
An explanation of how the Talmud operates and how halachic decisions are derived from the debates of the Sages. Presented by Dr. Kenneth M. Ehrenberg, Professor of Philosophy, University of Buffalo. Recorded at Chabad of Oxford University.
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Noted scholars and experts in their fields share their knowledge at the Oxford University Chabad Society.