“Leading scholars throughout the world, it is true, are constantly engaged in re-examining Jewish law and interpreting its application to present-day circumstances… But, as a rule, their efforts are limited to solving religious problems in the light of modern conditions. What the hour demands even more urgently is to reverse the procedure: to solve modern problems in the light of religious conditions…
If Judaism is to have a message for [secularists] the chief emphasis ought to be, instead, on the profound moral, social and economic issues baffling our age and how Jewish teaching can help to ease their burden. Contemporary life has thrown up innumerable problems of this kind, such as H-bomb tests, labor relations, strikes, gambling, the treatment of non-Jewish minorities in Israel – to detail only a few at random. (p.6)”
Interestingly, in this article, written after Rabbi Jakobovits’ death, Dr Fred Rosner argues that this is precisely the contribution that Rabbi Jakobovits made in the sphere of Jewish medical ethics. In contrast to Rabbis Moshe Feinstein, Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Eliezer Waldenberg who addressed themselves to halachic problems which arose in the light of modern conditions, Rabbi Jakobovits concerned himself with the ethical issues of the day through the application of the wisdom of Jewish tradition.
It can be argued that what Rabbi Jakobovits did in the sphere of Jewish medical ethics has not yet been done in the field of Jewish social ethics.
Our mission is to rise to the challenge that Rabbi Jakobovits presented forty five years ago for the greater glory of the Torah and for the benefit of humanity.
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