Con­science: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey

Rab­bi Harold M. Schulweis
  • Review
By – August 24, 2011
Philoso­phers and the­olo­gians have wres­tled with the ques­tion of whether there is a moral­i­ty that stands above even God’s laws. In cre­at­ing sequences of moral devel­op­ment, psy­chol­o­gists, too, have the­o­rized that there are moral prin­ci­pals that stand above oth­er types of eth­i­cal and moral behav­ior. Rab­bi Harold Schul­weis argues that Judaism accepts a type of moral­i­ty that tran­scends the Torah’s laws, and indeed man­dates that the Jew set aside the law when a greater moral­i­ty is at stake. Using exam­ples such as Abra­ham, he shows that bib­li­cal prophets stood up to God, when they felt that His actions were unjust. The author car­ries his asser­tions about high­er lev­els of moral­i­ty to oth­er are­nas, includ­ing con­tem­po­rary issues of Jew­ish life and exam­ples of those who dis­obeyed human laws, such as those who res­cued Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. In com­pelling lan­guage, Rab­bi Schul­weis makes a strong case, bol­stered by sup­port from Jew­ish texts.

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Rab­bi Arnold D. Sam­lan is a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and rab­bi liv­ing in Mia­mi, Flori­da. He serves as exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Orloff Cen­tral Agency for Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion of Broward County.

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