The YU Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the Leonard and Bea Diener Institute of Jewish Law will be hosting a day-long symposium on “The Rationales of the Commandments (Ta’amei ha-Mitzvot) in Historical Perspective” on Sunday, February 10, 9:30am-5:15pm, at Cardozo Law School (55 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY). Attendance is free, but advance registration is required; please register here, or by calling 212-790-0258. Here’s the schedule:


Ta’amei Ha-Mitzvot in Antiquity (9:30-11:30)

David Flatto, (Assistant Professor of Law, Penn State Law School), “Categorizing Commandments in Late Second Temple and Rabbinic Literature”

Richard Hidary (Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies, Yeshiva University), “‘You Might Come to Fix a Musical Instrument’: The Bavli’s Reasons for Shevut Laws”

Lawrence Schiffman (Professor of Jewish Studies and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Yeshiva University), “Second Temple Period Rationales for the Torah’s Commandments”

Commentator: Yaakov Elman (Herbert S. and Naomi Denenberg Chair in Talmudic Studies, Yeshiva University)

Ta’amei Ha-Mitzvot in the Medieval Period (12:30-2:30)

David Berger (Ruth & I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History and Dean, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies), “Ta‘amei ha-Mitzvot and the Jewish-Christian Debate”

Ephraim Kanarfogel (E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva University), “An Unnoticed Strategy of the Sefer ha-Hinnukh in Presenting Ta’amei ha-Mizvot and Halakhic Teachings”

Yair Lorberbaum (Bar-Ilan Faculty of Law), “‘There are People who Consider it a Grievous thing that Reasons Should be Given for any Law’ (Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed III:31) – Ta’amei ha-Mitzvot and Halakhic Reasoning”

Commentator: Gerald Blidstein (Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)


Ta’amei Ha-Mitzvot in the Modern Period (2:45-5:15)

Yonatan Brafman (Columbia University), “Halakha as ‘The Objectifying Instrument of Religious Consciousness’: Halakhic Norms as Expression and Discipline in R. Soloveitchik’s Thought”

 Daniel Rynhold (Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Philosophy, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University), “What’s the Reason for Reasons? Towards an Unprincipled Judaism”

David Shatz (Professor of Philosophy, Yeshiva University), “Mastery Over the Body in Modern Theories of Mitzvot”

 Howard Wettstein (Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Riverside), “The Flavor of the Commandments”

 Commentator: Shalom Carmy (Assistant Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Bible, Yeshiva University)



Comments are closed.