Jan 20, 2010: Jewish Ethics in Our Family Lives

The handout for this session can be found here. The transcript of the online chat for the class can be found here. You can listen to a recording of the class by clicking below:

Just for the fun of it, click on the link below to listen to Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" to help get you into the mood for this class!

We Are Family / Easier To Love [Digital 45] album by Sister Sledge

Today's class will explore the complex web of values surrounding our obligations to:
  • Our Parents
  • Our Children
  • Our Siblings
We'll begin by discussing the Jewish obligation to honor our parents.  Where does that come from?  And, more importantly: are there limits to that obligation?  To explore the latter question, we'll do two brief "case studies" utilizing the ever-relevant and entertaining "Ethicist" columns from the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

We'll then move on to consider some of the ethical obligations of parenthood, and of child-rearing.  Well known is the Jewish obligation to be "fruitful and multiply."  Far less well known is the potential Jewish argument to be made AGAINST having children - surely an unpopular position to be taken, in a time in which the horrific losses of the Holocaust are still personally remembered.

Finally, we'll conclude by briefly exploring what our tradition has to say about the way that we interact with our siblings.  How are our relationships with friends different from the relationships we share with our siblings?  And is there anything at all that we can apply to our own relationships from the way that siblings treat one another in the Torah?

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