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Halakhah in the Shadow of the Modern State

Yonatan Brafman / June 8, 2017

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The rise of the modern state demanded the reconfiguration of central aspects of Jewish life, including community, law, and identity. This lecture will first delineate the two major ways halakhah was reconceived so as to fit within this paradigm: as private religion within a secular state or as established law for a Jewish state. Then, an underappreciated alternative in which Jewish law is recognized as public but not established by the state will be explored and its potential for contemporary community and politics discussed. This is part of our lecture series "Halakhah, Religion, and the State." Click here for more information.




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Yonatan Brafman

Yonatan Brafman is assistant professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics and the director of the MA Program in Jewish Ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America as well as a visiting research scholar at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of Jewish thought, Jewish law, and contemporary moral and legal philosophy. He also studies the implications of religious practice for critical social theory and praxis. He has published or has forthcoming articles on these topics in the Journal of Religious Ethics, Diné Israel, Jewish Studies Quarterly, Journal of Jewish Ethics, and Journal of Religion and Violence. He is coeditor, with Leora Batnitzky, of an anthology titled Jewish Legal Theories: Writings on State, Religion, and Morality (Brandeis). He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Critique of Halakhic Reason: From Divine Norms to Social Normativity (Indiana). He holds a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Jewish Thought from the Department of Religion at Columbia University, where he also received his BA, MA, and MPhil.


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