When we repent, there is a sense in which we’re seeking to undo damage done. It’s almost as if we’re trying to undo the past. How seriously should we take this metaphor? Is the past something that can be undone? In this series of podcasts, Samuel Lebens – a philosopher at the University of Haifa, and adjunct faculty member at Pardes – will lead a tour through classical Jewish texts on the nature of repentance, and explore them though the lens of contemporary philosophical reflection on the nature of time.
Episode 1: Reish Lakish and Ockham
The Talmudic sage, Reish Lakish, was well versed in the principles of teshuva (repentance). He had lived as a wayward bandit, before reforming his ways and becoming a leader of Rabbinic Judaism. He was one of the first thinkers to claim, explicitly, that your teshuva has the power to change the past. In this episode, we try to understand this claim of Reish Lakish, in terms of a philosophical distinction first drawn by William of Ockham.
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About Sam Lebens
Sam is adjunct faculty at Pardes and currently a research fellow in the philosophy department at the University of Haifa*. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of London, and an Orthodox Rabbinical Ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. He works in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, the philosophy of fiction, and the philosophy of religion. His first book is about Bertrand Russell and the nature of meaning. His second book is forthcoming with Oxford University Press, and will be called The Principles of Judaism. It brings together contemporary analytic philosophy, and streams of Jewish thought, from the Midrash to the Hassidim. He is chairperson of the Association for the Philosophy of Judaism. Outside of his academic pursuits, he is a free-lance journalist, and a Jewish community educator. He loves to teach Torah at Pardes, and does so whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Haifa with his wife and three children.
*Sam’s research at the University of Haifa is generously supported by a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation Inc..