‘Abominable Heresies and Monstrous Acts’: Spinoza’s Jewish Roots and Legacy
Three Sunday mornings on Zoom, May 15, 22 and 29, at 10 am
Meeting ID: 868 6523 4271; Passcode: 613
Three days before Tisha B’Av in 1656, at just 23 years old, Baruch Spinoza – the son of former Marranos who would later emerge as among the most important Western philosophers – was excommunicated and expelled by his Amsterdam Jewish community. Up until a year prior to his banishment, Spinoza was a dues-paying member of his Sephardic synagogue. Yet the rabbinical council that soon excommunicated Spinoza accused him of “abominable heresies” and “monstrous acts,” forbidding all interaction with him and his writings.
In this year’s installment of Marc Ashley’s annual adult education course between Pesah and Shavuot we will explore the fascinating Jewish roots and legacy of Spinoza’s heretical views. What led to his radical thinking, and what imprint did it leave in the Jewish world?
Spinoza’s pioneering ideas had authentic foundations in Jewish thought, and his bold perspectives have influenced diverse Jewish thinkers through the current day. We will highlight certain Jewish aspects of Spinoza’s dissident views, focusing on his cutting-edge biblical criticism and conception of God.
Please join our discussion on Zoom of one of the most controversial, influential and unforgettable Jews of all time.