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

Sam Lebens

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

7:30 pm

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?


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