“Righteousness Like a Mighty Stream”: Social Justice as Divine Imperative
Two Sunday mornings on Zoom, April 18 and 25, 2021 at 10 am
Social justice is not only of contemporary relevance. It is a bedrock Jewish commitment, the cornerstone of an ideal community that has inspired and shaped Western values for centuries. Jewish tradition teaches us that one of the three pillars of the world’s very existence is the performance of acts of lovingkindness. The Torah urges us not only to achieve justice but to strive for it vigorously and implement it meticulously: “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Yet what does Jewish thought teach us about how social justice is to be realized?
In Judaism, justice and righteousness are two sides of the same coin, conjoined by common aspirations. Indeed, the Hebrew word tzedakah denotes both ideas, in addition to defining properly motivated philanthropy that encompasses each. The means of establishing justice and embodying righteousness, however, must move beyond the abstract to the concrete.
Jewish tradition, from the Torah to the Talmud and beyond, establishes procedural and substantive foundations of social justice, defined by both broad principles and precise rules. Indeed, Jewish law even recognizes its own limitations, mandating that we sometimes must act beyond the letter of the law in pursuing justice. Because Judaism dictates that justice is a divine imperative, and that we must seek to imitate God in the process, figuring out how to manifest social justice based on Jewish values must be our greatest concern.
Although social justice is a cutting-edge agenda item in modern society, it has been an integral focus of Jewish thought for many centuries. Please join us on Zoom and participate in this important conversation on a crucial theme.