Article

Ethical Theories in Rabbinic Literature

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199736065
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199736065.013.0004

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Ethical Theories in Rabbinic Literature

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This chapter first sets out the difficulties in studying the sources for Jewish ethics in classical rabbinic literature. Not only do rabbinic texts lack the very notion of ethics, they also emerge from different terrains and times and perforce bespeak different moral conclusions if not presumptions on how to reach those positions. However, one exception is texts classified as rabbinic “ethical” literature, which include 'Avot or Pirkei 'Avot and its companion text(s), Avot de-Rabbi Natan. The discussion then turns to the relationship between law and ethics in rabbinic literature; ethical limits to halakhah in rabbinic literature; and issues of universality and particularity in rabbinic literature.

Keywords: rabbinic texts; Jewish ethics; ethical theories; ethical literature; law; halakhah

Article.  10384 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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