Friday Noon Study Group

April 13, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Friday Noon Study Group

Friday, September 13, 12:00-1:00 

Last week we began by addressing some unfinished business left over from our discussion of Chapter 3 of Rabbi Sacks’s To Heal a Fractured World.  Some of us remain unconvinced by Sacks’s theodicy (justification for how a supposedly benevolent God can permit evil and suffering in the world).  Sacks’s explanation that we can’t begin to imagine why God does the things he does–is standard operating procedure for many orthodox theologians.  The new wrinkle for him seems to be that we aren’t expected to sit back and accept the situation:  we need to counter Divine Justice (God’s will) with Human Justice (social action/ protest).  We also offered opinions on the validity of Sacks’s claim that “a society is judged by what it contributes to the welfare of the least advantaged.”  As noble as this claim is some found it to be idealistic, or inaccurate, or flawed.
We then turned our attention over to Chapter 4, “Love as Deed.”  I don’t think anyone took issue with Sacks when he extolled the virtues of chesed (loving-kindness, taking care of one another).  We were less in agreement with his statements that “Only religion offers a sacred language of sacrifice–selflessness–awe” and “Religion is the engine of civility.”  How are we to define “religion”?  Is it different from “spirituality”?  Can there be no secular engine of civility?  We concluded our session with a discussion on the distinctions Sacks offered between morality and ethics–and the fact that no one among us seemed to understand them.  In the end, we concluded that determining these distinctions amounted to hairsplitting.  For those interested in entering that rabbit-hole, see 
For our session this week, we’ll begin by addressing Sacks’s notion of “covenant relationships” (Ch. 4, pp. 53ff.) and then move on to Chapters 5-6 of his book:  “Sanctifying the Name” and “Mending the World.” 
Our informal discussion group meets every Friday from 12-1, in the CBI Library (or the Social Hall if our group is too large).  All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous Friday study group sessions.     Copies of Rabbi Sacks’s book are available at a variety of internet outlets.  If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at


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