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Where God Isn’t: Should we bring Godliness into unclean places?

Dr. Samuel Lebens / July 8, 2019

(Part 1/2) - Should we bring Godliness into unclean places? Holiness is a central Jewish concept, in some sense the essence of divinity: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2).  But what does it mean for finite beings – people or objects – to share in God’s holiness? Are all types of holiness the same? After examining rabbinic sources on this question, we will address an even more profound problem: the concept of unholiness.  How do Jewish sources – ranging from the Talmud to the Hassidic masters to Jewish philosophers – relate to places that are thought to be somehow ungodly, filthy, or disgusting? If God is everywhere, is He in those places too? Can anything in God’s world be unholy?




Dr. Samuel Lebens

Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens is a philosopher at the university of Haifa and adjunct faculty at Drisha. His first book is about Bertrand Russell and the philosophy of language. His second book, The Principles of Judaism (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) is a contemporary exploration of the philosophical underpinnings of the Jewish faith. He is also co-founder of the Association for the Philosophy of Judaism (personal website: Click here to access podcasts recorded by Sam Lebens.


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