According to one ancient rabbinic compendium, Rabbi Akiva considered the verse “You shall love your fellow as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:8) as “the great general principle of Torah.” But the same text also cites the opposing view of Akiva’s contemporary Ben Azzai, who, less intuitively, held “This is the book of the generations of man” (Genesis 5:1) to be an even greater principle. In his commentary to this passage, the Russian exegete Rabbi Meir Leybush ben Yeḥiel Mikhl (1809-1879)—better known as the Malbim—explains this debate with an implicit, but unmistakable, reference to the moral teachings of Immanuel Kant. Akiva simply articulated the golden rule, according to Malbim, while Ben Azzai, following Kant, saw it as unnecessarily subjective, instead seeking a universal maxim—thus his reference to the “generations of man,” i.e., all of humankind.
How a 19th-Century Russian Rabbi Used the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant to Understand Two of the Talmud’s Great Ethical Debates
Hamas and Fatah Compete by Shedding Jewish Blood
During the past four weeks, there has been a rash of violent attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. These are not a response to any Israeli actions, nor are they spontaneous outbursts. Rather, as Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch explain, the violence is the result of deliberate incitement by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which began when its president, Mahmoud Abbas, realized he was unlikely to win the upcoming national elections. The violence, write Marcus and Hirsch, was originally a way to win votes, and is now a way to maintain popularity after Abbas’s decision to postpone the elections in definitely: