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January 15, 2009 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-01-15

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15 2009

Suzanne Chessler

crimes alleged at Agriprocessors Inc.,
which had been the largest kosher
meat processing plant in the country.
n a time filled with enormous
The rabbi maintains that charges of
social and monetary problems
unsafe food practices and labor abuses
seemingly rooted in greed
cannot be defended by simply saying
— reaching from financial institu-
that ritual was being followed.
tions on Wall Street to a kosher meat
"Conscience has everything to do
processing plant in
with ritual;' Schulweis
Iowa — Rabbi Harold
says. "The human being
Schulweis has a new
is created in the image
book to address ethics as
of God and therefore has
related to Judaism.
been given intelligence,
Conscience: The Duty
courage, com-
)1 ■ IS CIENCE wisdom,
to Obey and the Duty to
passion and conscience
The Dure to t .)1,
tl
Disolvy
Disobey (Jewish Lights;
with which to deal with
$19.99) gives biblical
any kind of command.
and historical reasons for
"On the basis of the
following sound ethical
culture of Jewish con-
practices and not follow-
science, we have the
RaLbi HAVA d M. Scldv,is
ing edicts of ritual when
right to question [what
they appear at odds with
we are told]. The Bible
moral tenets. The book
is not the last word. The
references the Talmud and Mishnah
Bible is the first word."
as justification for modifying religious
The Schulweis book begins by
teachings based on independent judg-
exploring biblical instances question-
ment.
ing God and Divine legislation based
"I was drawn to the subject because
on conscience. Later chapters describe
I think it is the root concern in our
heroic deeds completed by people
lives today:' says Schulweis, 83, reli-
rebelling against secular laws at odds
gious leader at Valley Beth Shalom,
with their ideas of conscience.
a Conservative congregation in
"I applaud various important rab-
California.
binic commentaries in which laws
"You cannot open a newspaper or
are overturned or nullified," says
deal with almost any question in the
Schulweis, who terms the founders
political, economic and ethical world
of the Talmud and Mishnah religious
without touching upon the importance whistleblowers for finding ways to do
of conscience, and it's being threat-
away with horrific practices, such as
ened!"
stoning.
Schulweis, who explains that
Schulweis, author of many books
Judaism holds a balance between
including Evil and the Morality of God
obedience and disobedience to avoid
and Approaches to the Philosophy of
both authoritarian faith and anarchy,
Religion, advises acting on conscience
is especially appalled with the scan-
to help Jews and non-Jews. He serves
dal surrounding Bernard Madoff, the
as an example through working
Jewish Wall Street investor charged
with the Jewish Foundation for the
with swindling individuals and chari-
Righteous, an organization recogniz-
ties out of billions of dollars.
ing non-Jews opposing Nazis, and
"We are dealing with people who
Jewish World Watch, a synagogue-
have no pity and no conscience he
based organization bringing assistance
says. "Those values have to be taught
to victims of political unrest.
in the home and in the synagogue.
"The notion of the dying of con-
We must fight against the temptation
science is a threat to everyone he
to lie and exploit others as the way to
says. "One has to develop a conscience
financial success."
as a matter of religion, and it is the
Schulweis also believes the con-
responsibility of religion to develop
cepts covered in his book apply to the
conscience."

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II

Clarity Of Conscience

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