Ethical themes in medieval jewish biblical commentaries: An opportunity in the

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The aim of this article is twofold: to open a window on ethical themes in medieval Jewish biblical commentaries and to illustrate how such works can catalyze explorations of issues in Jewish ethics in the university classroom. The article takes its inspiration from a course taught at Bar-Ilan University in Israel bearing the title “Medieval Jewish Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present.” In addition to its investigation of the medieval commentaries, the article exemplifies one pedagogical strategy employed in the course that sees these texts put in dialogue with a range of post-medieval literary and artistic expressions from Caravaggio to John Lennon and, especially, works of Israeli art, poetry, and song. Apart from adding interest and surprise, this strategy underscores the enduring nature of the issues addressed by the medieval commentators, which include fratricide, peace, pluralism, martyrdom, military ethics, altruism, supererogation, and love of one s fellow human being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-62
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Jewish Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA


eric lAwee teaches in The Zalman Shamir Bible Department, where he holds the Asher Wieser Chair for Research in Medieval Jewish Biblical Interpretation, and in the Helene and Paul Shulman School for Basic Jewish Studies at Bar-Ilan University. His book Isaac Abarbanel’s Stance Toward Tradition: Defense, Dissent, and Dialogue (SUNY Press) won a Canadian Jewish Book Award for Biblical Scholarship. His current research, supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 256/14), focusses on the reception of Rashi’s Torah commentary as seen through the lens of processes of canonicity.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation256/14


    • Biblical interpretation
    • Israel
    • Jewish ethics
    • Medieval Judaism
    • Pedagogy
    • Rashi


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