Philosophy of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l Part 5: Not in Heaven — A Jewish Sexual Ethic

Posted by Rahel Berkovits on April 5, 2016
Topics: Pardes Live, The Thoughts of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l, Sexuality


Torat Hayim A Living Torah: The Thoughts of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l.

In this 6-part lecture series, Rabbi Rahel Berkovits looks at the thoughts of her grandfather, Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l. What is the interplay between Torah and real life situations? How do ancient texts apply to modern times? The philosophy of R. Berkovits will be examined through the lens of his writings on women and Jewish law, conversion and the unity of the Jewish people, the problem of Agunot, a sexual ethic in modern time, and the challenges of Prayer.

This week: A Jewish Sexual Ethic. Berkovits’ felt that in the modern era people needed a guiding religious principle in which to maneuver the many message regarding sex they were receiving in secular culture. How does one’s relationship with God affect one’s sexual encounters? What do traditional rabbinic texts have to say to us on this important issue?

“To personalize the impersonal sexual instinct is thus a twofold responsibility towards God and towards one’s partner in the bio-psychic encounter of the sexual union. However, on the level of the interpersonal encounter, responsibility stems from the biblical commandment: ‘And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ which in the area of the God-man encounter receives the formulation, ‘Thou shalt love the Eternal, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might.” (Crisis and Faith p.60)

Click here for more episodes in this series.


About Rahel Berkovits

Rahel teaches Mishnah, Talmud and Halakha at Pardes. She has spent many years studying Talmud and Jewish texts in both traditional and academic frameworks at Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Shalom Hartman Institute, and Hebrew University in both the Talmud and Jewish education departments. In 2015, Rahel completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har’el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Click here to read more.

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