By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
- explain some of the differing interpretations of the biblical concept of sin
- clarify and articulate your personal understanding of the concept of sin
- describe the classical Jewish interpretation of biblical texts regarding ethical issues such as end of life, care for the environment, family and communal relations
- analyze different rabbinic views on the ethical issues discussed in this course
- articulate your own views on the ethical issues discussed in this course
Your online learning will include the following methods:
- Academic and non-academic articles
- Participation in written discussions with other students
- Participation in videoconference seminars
For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.
Week 1: The origin of sin
Was the expulsion from Eden the ‘fall of man’ or a necessary step in the development of humanity? This is a key point in biblical tradition where Jewish and Christian understandings of the story diverge. This session will serve as a broad introduction to the Jewish understanding of the concepts of sin, redemption, equity and justice as they underpin the foundations of Jewish ethics.
Week 2: End-of-life ethics
“L’chaim” means “to life!” But how do we face death? Euthanasia, suicide and the end-of-life concerns associated with catastrophic illness, injury and extreme age are fraught with complex and often competing ethical intuitions. We will examine how rabbinic and biblical texts resolve such dilemmas.
Week 3: Family and personal relationships
Many traditions and cultures teach that ‘family is everything.’ This is no less true in Jewish tradition. We will examine how Judaism addresses concerns about marriage, divorce, obligations to parents and individual versus communal responsibilities. We will explore rabbinic and biblical sources pertaining to these issues.
Week 4: No Jew is an island
A central tenet of contemporary Jewish ethics is “Tikkun Olam”, the healing or repair of the world. This means our obligations extend beyond family, God and the Jewish community. Matters of interest here include our relationships with gentiles, obligations concerning the environment and animals, and charity.
Books, materials and resources
You will access course resources using SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.