3. What is Jewish Morality?
Peter Cave [+]
The Open University and New York University (London)
Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, sits on the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and is Patron of Humanists UK and of Population Matters. He has published many papers, light and serious. His books include This Sentence is False: an introduction to philosophical paradoxes and three ‘beginner’s guides’: Humanism; Philosophy; and Ethics. His most recent work is The Big Think Book: Discover Philosophy Through 99 Perplexities. He has written and presented philosophy programmes for BBC radio, and often takes part in public debates.
Peter lives in Soho, central London, enjoys opera, lieder and chamber music (well, he thinks he knows what he likes), even delights in religious music, despite his atheism — and is irritated by builders’ drillings, pointless burglar alarms and unnecessary thuds of music in cafes, restaurants and shops. He is often to be found with a glass of wine — or two.
Dan Cohn-Sherbok [+]
University of Wales (Emeritus Professor) and Rabbi
Dan is the author and editor of a number of books dealing with Israel including Israel: The History of an Idea; The Palestine-Israeli Conflict (with Dawoud El-Alami); Debating Israel and Palestine (with Mary Grey); The Politics of Apocalypse: The History and Influence of Christian Zionism; Introduction to Zionism and Israel: From Ideology to History; The Palestinian State: A Jewish Justification. He has also published several books of cartoons.
Dan lives in Kensington (and Wales) with his wife Lavinia and his Burmese cat. He is frequently to be found drawing cartoons in his London club.
Let me begin this discussion by quoting the law about masturbation in the Shulhan Arukh – the Code of Jewish Law – that we have already met: It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is more severe than any of the other prohibitions of the Torah. Those who masturbate and discharge semen in vain not only violate a severe prohibition, but also should be placed under a ban of ostracism. Concerning them [Isaiah 1.15] states: ‘your hands are full of blood,’ it is equivalent to murder. I wonder what you think of this. As a Reform Jew, I believe it is utterly extreme and totally irrelevant in modern society, yet the Orthodox are compelled to follow the Shulhan Arukh in its entirety.