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Obligation: A Philosophical
Inquiry into Mitzvot

Obligation is central to the Jewish tradition. Jews are obligated by mitzvot—commandments—as well as the more general brit—covenantwith God. Yet the idea of obligation is not easy for many modern Jews to accept. What is an obligation? Where does its binding nature come from? What are we obligated by, and why? Western moral and political philosophy has offered some influential answers to these questions, ones that shape the modern world and the assumptions we bring to our Jewish practice. In this seminar course, we will think deeply—as human beings and as Jews—about the concept of obligation and how it shapes our lives today.