Ethics is at the center of Eliezer Berkovits’s views on many vital questions in Jewish thought. Indeed, he speaks of “the priority of the ethical.” This essay considers three areas related to ethics in which Berkovits’s thought exhibits certain tensions: his critique of science, his critique of situation ethics, and his explanation of ritual. These tensions reflect the fact that Berkovits has a dual goal. On the one hand, he criticizes lives devoid of faith and seeks to make tradition relevant in a modern world beset by alienation, depersonalization, and loss of meaning. On the other hand, he tries to influence Jews to adopt certain moral values that have been neglected by halakic authorities. Although Berkovits regards these values as ancient, they are part of the modern world. The essay also argues that in a variety of ways Berkovits is a stronger critic of modernity than one might suppose.


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pp. 85-102
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