In our Jewish Philosophy courses, we seek to provide our students a more profound understanding of Judaism by surveying some of the core principles of Jewish Philosophy and Theology. Together, we explore some of the questions – both ancient and modern – that lie at the heart of our Jewish experience.
Our Jewish Philosophy and Theology curriculum primarily consists of three distinct components:
First, we study the Torah’s stance on universal, timeless questions that form the backbone of Machshevet Yisrael. We assess a variety of philosophical issues, including: man’s free will, its ramifications, and its compatibility with Divine foreknowledge and contemporary science; how to understand and confront suffering, evil, and injustice in the world; rational justification for belief in God, and the relationship between belief and science; and the Torah’s ethical system and its application to a Western World with often competing values. When relevant, we utilize sources from beyond the strict confines of “Jewish Philosophy,” with particular focus on some of the contributions of modern analytic philosophy.
Second, we attempt to achieve a greater understanding of the internal intricacies of Jewish faith, and the Halakhah. We provide students with a more sophisticated theological basis for many of the mitzvot they are familiar with on a surface level, but do not deeply understand. We assess the spiritual meaning and relevance of such Jewish practices as Shabbat, Kashrut, Prayer, and Torah Learning.
Finally, we survey the thought of some of the most influential twentieth and twenty-first century Jewish theologians, with a particular focus on the theologians who most profoundly impacted the “Modern Orthodox” movement, including: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Of course, all three components of the course serve to hone the analytical skills and critical thinking of our students, and, most significantly, are designed to provide our students a richer, deeper, and more wholesome religious experience and relationship with the Creator.