In this course, we will explore some of the pivotal moments of 20th-century history in which Jewish history and Jewish destiny were shaped by war. How did Jewish leaders—thinkers and soldiers, rabbis and generals—begin to tackle the novel political opportunities and moral challenges of warfare? We will focus on some of the key ethical and strategic dilemmas of war—including questions of patriotism and dual loyalty, revolutionary movements and actions, and the ethics of killing non-combatants. We’ll study major figures like Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Vladimir Jabotinsky, David Ben-Gurion, and Menachem Begin, while debating concepts like an “eye for an eye” and “holy war.” The course will also look at challenging case studies—including Jewish participation on both sides during World War I, the Etzel reprisal attacks against Arabs from 1937-1939, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and Israel’s fight for independence, and the amazing 6-Day War.
Dates: Oct 24, Nov 7, Nov 14, Nov 21, Dec 12, Dec 26
Rabbi Shlomo Brody
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody is the co-dean of Tikvah Online Academy and founding director of the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute. A columnist for The Jerusalem Post since 2007, Brody previously served for a decade as a senior instructor at Yeshivat Hakotel and as a junior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. Brody’s writings focus on making Jewish texts accessible to broader audiences while applying them to contemporary social and ethical dilemmas. His work has appeared in Mosaic, First Things, The Federalist, Tablet, Tzohar, The Forward, Hakirah, and other popular publications, and has been cited in Israeli Supreme Court decisions. His first book, A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates (Maggid), received a 2014 National Jewish Book Award. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, he received rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, an MA in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University, and his PhD from Bar Ilan University Law School, where he continues to serve as a post-doctoral fellow. Originally from Houston, Texas, Rabbi Brody now lives in Modi’in with his wife, Rocky, and five children.