About

Shalom, Dear Visitor.

I am a scholar of Jewish thought, the ethics and philosophy of Halakhah, and their connections to classical American Pragmatism. As part of that I am also examining the contribution of Jewish thought to some present techno-ethical challenges (see more in my Academia website).

I am currently a fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University, and adjunct lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). I was formerly a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University, advised by Prof. Paul Franks. My PhD dissertation was written at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Department of Jewish Thought, on “American 20th Century Jewish Thought and Classical American Pragmatism: New Perspectives on the Writings of Hayyim Hirschensohn, Mordecai M. Kaplan, and Eliezer Berkovits”. My Adviser was Prof. Avinoam Rosenak, and the committee members were Prof. Yemima Ben Menahem, Prof. Jonathan Cohen, and Prof. Joseph Turner. The first fruits of this research project include the following:

1. “The Rejection of Radical Foundationalism and Skepticism: Pragmatic Belief in God in Eliezer Berkovits’s Thought” [Hebrew], Jewish Thought 1 (2019), pp. 201-246

2. “Pragmatism and Jewish Thought: Eliezer Berkovits᾽s Philosophy of Halakhic Fallibility”, Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 27, no. 1 (2019), pp. 86-135

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

4. “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

5. “Pragmatism: A New name for some Old ways of thinking in Judaism”, review essay [in Hebrew] of D. Brezis, Between Zealotry and Grace: Anti-Zealotic Trends in Rabbinic Thought, and H. E. Hashkes, Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge, DAAT 82 (2016), pp. 405-417

Two other articles are forthcoming:

6. “Eliezer Schweid: Some Premises of a Pragmatic Jewish Thinker”, forthcoming in The Philosophy of Eliezer Schweid: Jewish Culture and Universal Perspectives, eds. Yehoyada Amir and Joseph Turner (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press 2020), vol. I, pp. 103-141

7. “Jewish Law, Techno-Ethics, and Autonomous Weapon Systems: Ethical-Halakhic Perspectives” (54 pp.), to be published in Jewish Law Association Studies (JLAS) XXVIII, special issue on Jewish law and technology, eds. Amos Israel-Vleeschhauwer, Elisha Ancselovits, and Elliot N. Dorff

Nine other articles are in various preparation stages.

In 1996 I studied at the Ma'aleh Gilbo'a Yeshivah, where I learned from great teachers, including Rabbi David Bigman, R. Yehudah Gilad, R. Shmuel Reiner, and R. Elisha Ancselovits. Between 2002-2006 I was privileged to study at “Revivim” – Jewish studies teachers training honors program. As a part of that, I graduated (MA magna cum laude, 2007) the Department of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew University. 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 which presumably entail endless normative implications.

From fall 2012 until summer 2016 I was a fellow at The Hartman Institute's Beit-Midrash in Jerusalem, where I had great partners and and learned with Menachem Lorberbaum, Melila Hellner-Eshed, Yair Furstenberg. On winter 2014-2015 I taught two intensive academic courses at the Paideia Institute in Stockholm on medieval and modern Jewish thought. The courses I taught at Yale dealt with the relationship of Judaism and Pragmatism, and with Jewish and humanist philosophies of technology.

I am married to Eliraz, we currently reside in New Haven with our children. In this website I reflect on Judaism, Israel, social issues, education, and technology, from a Jewish-humane and Zionist perspective. The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent any institution I work for or affiliate with. In fact, if you will read this website carefully, you will notice that some past opinions I expressed don't fully represent me in the present. This website is ultimately a call for further conversation.

You may contact me at nadav.berman ( a t ) mail.huji.ac.il

All the best,

Nadav Berman Shifman