Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey

Jewish Lights Publishing  2009

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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