26 March 2021

The Ethics of Law in Judaism and the role of the Decalogue with Prof. Menachem Lorberbaum

On Thursday March 25th 2021, Prof. Menachem Lorberbaum, Vice dean and professor at the department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud at Tel Aviv University, shared with an online audience from around the world a heartwarming lecture on The Ethics of Law in Judaism. He spoke about the role of the Decalogue (popularly known as “the ten commandments”) not only as a basic set of rules, but also a compass for how we live in the world grounded by the sanctity that we are made in the image of G-d.

Prof. Lorberbaum started with some questions: What is the specific role of the Decalogue? Why is this the heart of revelation? He noted that the Decalogue is an important key to understanding not just the essence of Judaism but also Christianity. He explained that the unique ethics of Torah is developed in the Decalogue. These commandments are what the meaning of human beings being created in the image of G-d is all about: Our respect for the divine is mirrored in our respect for other people. The moral claim upon us is based on the fact we are created in the Image of G-d, it is not a prerogative but a demand. And it’s a claim upon every human being, we are tasked to create a worthy society.

Building on this obligation, Professor Lorberbaum reminded us that we are constantly called to reflect on whether or not we’re living in the world the way it should be. He continues, “At Sinai, G-d says “This is our compass,” the heart of our sanctity is that we are made in the image of G-d.”

Professor Lorberbaum recognized that there is still much work to do in the world and that “The Law inspires us to change the world we live in. The world is not already redeemed but we are called to participate in the process of redemption.”

This event was hosted in partnership between the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue and the Centro Pro Unione in Rome. If you would like to watch Prof. Menachem Lorberbaum’s full lecture “The Ethics of Law in Judaism”, check out this recording.