Beth Jacob’s Harold & Mickey (z”l) Smith Scholar Weekend
Shabbat & Sunday Morning, May 19-21, 2017
- 6 pm: Kabbalat Shabbat
- 7 pm: Shabbat Dinner
- 8 pm: “Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism”
Judaism is often described as a religion that tolerates, even celebrates arguments with God. Unlike Christianity and Islam, it is said, Judaism endorses a tradition of protest as first expressed in the biblical stories of Abraham, Job, and Jeremiah. In this lecture, Rabbi Dr. Dov Weiss turns to the premodern roots of this distinctively Jewish theology of protest, examining its origins and development in the rabbinic age. By elucidating competing views and exploring their theological assumptions, the lecture challenges the scholarly claim that the early rabbis conceived of God as a morally perfect being whose goodness had to be defended in the face of biblical accounts of unethical divine action.
- 1 pm: “Sins of the Parents: Ethics and Theology in Rabbinic (and Early Christian) Literature”
In this talk, we will analyze how rabbinic Jews and early Christians interpreted the morally problematic maxim – found in the Ten Commandments – that God punishes children for the sins of the parents (Exodus 20:4). This theological doctrine has posed an obvious question for many readers of the Biblical text: Why should one person suffer for the sins committed by another? Does this method of divine providence correspond with a loving, fair and just deity? In this lecture, Prof. Weiss uses the case of intergenerational punishment to highlight the complex relationship between theology, ethics and biblical interpretation in the first few centuries of the Common Era.
- 8:30 am: Minyan
- 9:15 am: Brunch/Session: “Conceptions of God in Rabbinic and Medieval Judaism”
In this lecture, Dr. Weiss presents four radically divergent Jewish conceptions of God: the rabbinic, the philosophical, the kabbalistic, and the hasidic. To do so, he will highlight the different — and often mutually exclusive — understandings of “monotheism,” “idolatry”, and the shekhina in Jewish thought.
Dov Weiss is an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago Divinity School as a Martin Meyer Fellow in 2011 and was the Alan M. Stock Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies in 2012. Specializing in the history of Jewish biblical interpretation and rabbinic theology, Dov’s most recent articles include “Sins of the Parents in Rabbinic and Early Christian Literature” [Journal of Religion 97:1], “Divine Concessions in the Tanhuma Midrashim” [Harvard Theological Review (108:1)] and “The Sin of Protesting God in Rabbinic and Patristic Literature” [AJS Review 39:2]. His first book, Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism, was recently published by the University of Pennsylvania Press