Claussen publishes article on war and humility

  Religious Studies Professor Geoffrey Claussen's new article appears in the journal Interreligious Studies and Interreligious Theology.

Geoffrey Claussen, Lori and Eric Sklut Scholar in Jewish Studies and associate professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies, has published an article titled “War, Musar, and the Construction of Humility in Modern Jewish Thought.” The article appears in the latest issue of the journal Interreligious Studies and Interreligious Theology.

Claussen’s article considers how the musar (virtue-focused) tradition in Jewish ethics may shape Jewish moral judgments on questions of war and peace, focusing on various constructions of the virtue of humility in modern Jewish thought. It gives particular attention to concepts of humility advanced by Menachem Mendel Lefin, the leading figure of the Polish Haskalah, and it suggests that Lefin’s model of critical self-assessment, especially if carried out in partnership with those from different nations or traditions, could help to restrain the misplaced pride, enthusiasm, and impulses to dehumanize enemies that may emerge at times of war.

Claussen brings Lefin’s approach into dialogue with three Jewish thinkers who argued that proper humility should in some cases encourage the use of violence and even the dehumanization of enemies: the Lithuanian Orthodox rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv, the American Reform rabbi Kaufmann Kohler, and the militant Israeli Orthodox rabbi Meir Kahane.

The article is available online here.