Thank you for joining us for the fifth lesson of Beyond Never Again. We started by discussing the fact that Jewish law has always served as a moral compass for Jews, in good times and bad. It covers every aspect of life, from the most lofty to the most mundane. The responsa literature documents questions of Jewish law as well as how classical Jewish legal thinking has been applied to solve these new dilemmas. Reviewing these cases provides an interesting window into the history and sociology of a given era.
Among the examples of responsa we looked at were questions regarding ritual, such as under what circumstances one might risk the desecration of tefilin or whether one could recite the blessing of not having been made a slave while laboring in a concentration camp. Other questions concerned ethical issues such as whether one could save one’s own son at the expense of the life of another.
These preserved responsa demonstrate the sensitivity, creativity, and scholarship of the rabbis who responded to these questions. But the questions also reveal a lot about the people who asked them. They show strength of commitment of Jews in the Holocaust, as well as how Torah served as an anchor of meaning in world gone mad.
Thanks for joining me to study this inspiring lesson. I hope to see you next week for our sixth and final lesson.