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

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 Berkovits is a senior faculty member at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where she has been teaching Mishnah, Talmud and halakha for over twenty years. Rahel lectures widely in both Israel and abroad especially on topics concerning women and Jewish law and a Jewish sexual ethic. She is the Halakhic Editor and a writer for Hilkhot Nashim the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance’s Halakhic Source-guide Series, recently published by Koren Publishing. Rahel is a founding member of Congregation Shirah Hadasha, a halakhic partnership Synagogue, and serves on their halakha committee. In June 2015, Rahel received Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbis Herzl Hefter and Daniel Sperber. Click here to read more. You can find books written by Rahel by clicking here

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