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Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

A Jewish response to modern atheism

A Jewish response to modern atheism

 

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. The term atheism originated from the Greek (atheos), meaning "without G-d", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves as "atheist" appeared in the 18th century.

 

Atheists tend to be skeptical of supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence. Atheists have offered various rationales for not believing in any deity.… Read More »

A Jewish approach to Vegetarianism

A Jewish approach to Vegetarianism

 

In this essay we will argue that Judaism shows support for vegetarianism but for a different reason than what is commonly thought. It is possible to divide Jewish morals into three categories: that which is immoral and should be prohibited, that which is amoral and permitted and that which is favourable and desirable.

 

The category which is immoral one should obviously abstain from. The category which is positively moral is permitted and desirable. The category that is neither moral nor immoral (amoral) however seems to be open to debate in Jewish thought.

 

We will aim to present the case that in Jewish thought eating meat is amoral and therefore one may abstain, for the… Read More »

Why is Judaism in decline?

Jews are known to be thinkers, revolutionaries and ground breaking researchers, including Noble Prize winners. They have helped change and shape the world we live in. This started with Abraham and Jews have tried to follow his path ever since. Abraham travelled to Canaan from Ur Kasdim to change the world. The world was practising pagan idolatry. They worshipped the sun and the moon. Abraham smashed the idols and taught them and the world monotheism.

 

His descendents continued to follow this path despite the overwhelming pagan world around them for millennia. Moses taught the first Magna Carta in the form of the seven Noahide laws how to live an ethical life and then the Ten Commandments, including believing in One G-d, as well as… Read More »

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