About

Shalom, dear visitor.

I am a PhD student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Department of Jewish Thought. My dissertation (in progress) is entitled “Jewish Thought and American Pragmatism: New Perspectives on the Writings of the Rabbis-thinkers Hayyim Hirschensohn, Mordecai M. Kaplan and Eliezer Berkovits” (Adviser: Dr. Avinoam Rosenak). Here are the first fruits of this research project:

1. “Pragmatism: New Name for some Old ways of thinking in Judaism”, Review-essay [in Hebrew] of David Brezis, Between Zealotry and Grace: Anti-Zealotic Trends in Rabbinic Thought, Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press 2015 [Hebrew] and Hannah E. Hashkes, Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge, Leiden & Boston: Brill 2015, Daat 82 (2016), pp. 405-417

2. “The Challenge of the ‘Caring’ God: A. J. Heschel’s Theology in Light of Eliezer Berkovits’s Critique” [Hebrew], Zehuyot 8 (2017), pp. 43-60

3. “R. Ḥayyim Hirschensohn’s Beliefs about Death and Immortality as tested by his Halakhic decision making regarding Autopsies” [Hebrew], Daat 83 (2017), pp. 339-357

3. “Pragmatism and Jewish Thought: R. Eliezer Berkovits᾽s Philosophy of Halakhic Fallibility”, accepted for publication in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy

Some other papers are in preparation.

I graduated my MA (magna cum laude) at the Department of Jewish Thought (HU) in 2007. The MA thesis I wrote (advised by Prof. Moshe Halbertal) is entitled “'If so, there would be no end to the matter' As Halakhic Argument in Rabbinic Texts” (Hebrew; for an English summary see here). In this work I examined a deliberative inclination to limit Halakhic concepts entailing endless normative implications.

From fall 2012 until summer 2016 I was a fellow at The Hartman Institute's Beit-Midrash in Jerusalem. I translated into the Hebrew Prof. Michael Rosenak's Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge: Conversations with the Torah, Boulder, Colorado and Oxford, UK: Westview Press 2001 (co-translation and editing: Dr. Avinoam Rosenak). The book was published as עץ החיים ועץ הדעת: שיחות עם התורה (Yediot Sfarim, Tel Aviv 2013). On winter 2014-2015 I taught two intensive academic courses at the Paideia Institute, in Stockholm (Sweden): 'The Varieties of Medieval Jewish Thought', and 'Modern Jewish Thought: The Turn to the World'.

I am married to Eliraz, we live in Jerusalem and have four children. In this website I reflect on Judaism, social justice, technology, education, and existential issues, from a Jewish-humane and social-welfarist perspective. You may contact me at nadav.berman(at)mail.huji.ac.il

Nadav Berman Shifman