“Sinning for God”: When do the Ends Justify the Means?

Course Title: “Sinning for God”: When do the Ends Justify the Means?
Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning: Texts and Traditions
Aron Wander (Read bio)
Session: Summer 2023
Day and Time: Sundays, 10-11:30 a.m. Eastern
Dates: July 9, 16, 23, 30; August 6, 2023 (5 sessions)
Location: Online via Zoom
Fee: $180 Generous financial scholarships available

How do we build a better world when we know our actions may have unintended or unavoidable economic, political, or ecological consequences? What is justified in the pursuit of justice?

In “Sinning for God,” we’ll explore two related rabbinic concepts: mitzvah ha’ba be’aveirah (a would-be mitzvah that is forbidden because it comes about by way of a sin) and aveirah lishmah (a would-be sin that is permitted because it serves a higher purpose).

We’ll begin by studying their Talmudic origins, and then we’ll consider how they’ve played out in different historical periods and across varying political, economic, and moral issues. Throughout, we’ll use our learning to shed light on the moral dilemmas and paradoxes we face today. At stake will be an underlying question: when do moral ends justify questionable means, and when do immoral means corrupt us, no matter how noble our goals are?

Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning is for learners of all backgrounds.