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Aryeh Rubin Poses “Big Question” About Civil Disobedience as Part of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Global Day fo Jewish learning

September 15, 2010 – Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi, has contributed a question about the Jewish perspective on civil disobedience as one of the approximately ten “big questions” that will be answered online by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and will generate a dialog as part of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Global Day of Jewish Learning, a brand-new initiative.

Go to to view the question and Rabbi Steinsaltz’s answer, and to take part in the discussion.

New questions will post approximately weekly while past questions will remain online for dialogue to continue through November 7, the date Rabbi Steinsaltz has chosen to be the Global Day of Jewish Learning. The questions are intended to engage everyone from the most secular “cultural” Jews to the most religiously observant Jews in a global dialogue about Judaism’s take on “big questions” like good and evil, heaven and hell, sex and relationships, and more.

The full text of Aryeh Rubin’s question is:

Recently I gave a speech in which I asked the audience the following question: If you had the chance to go back in time to the early 1940s, armed with today’s knowledge regarding the fate of European Jewry, what actions would you take? I think most people would agree that if ever there was a situation that called for civil disobedience, it was during the 1940s. How do the lessons we’ve learned from history apply today, when neighbors of Israel call for the annihilation of the Jewish state and destruction of the Jewish people, when they are gaining the tools and means to accomplish this, and when the U.S. and other Western allies are standing on the sidelines?

Is there a Jewish perspective on civil disobedience? If lives are in danger, shouldn’t civil disobedience, and even militant civil disobedience, be justified?

The Global Day of Jewish Learning, which Targum Shlishi is helping to support, is an initiative of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Aleph Society. The initiative is a way to honor and celebrate Rabbi Steinsaltz’s completion of the forty-fifth and final volume of his translation (into Modern Hebrew) and commentary on the Talmud, a monumental task that he began in 1965.

The Global Day of Jewish Learning not only marks the achievement of finishing the translation, but also kicks off a new era of Jewish learning and unity. The event is intended to unite Jews worldwide in celebration of their shared culture, texts, and history in keeping with Rabbi Steinsaltz’s conviction that the foundational texts of Jewish heritage belong to all Jews, and that although Jews may be dispersed across the globe, they are bound together through their sacred sources and values.

The Aleph Society estimates that more than 300 communities worldwide will participate on November 7 along with 1,000 house parties worldwide. There will also be online learning groups. The topics of study that day will originate from tractate Ta’anit of the Talmud, which explores the cycles of the Jewish calendar, and will center on the following main topics: Environment, God, Love, Leadership, Miracles, Prayer, and Tzedakah.

About Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and the Aleph Society

Rabbi Steinsaltz is a distinguished scholar, teacher, mystic, and social critic. He has written some sixty books and hundreds of articles on the Talmud, Kabbalah, and Chasidut. In addition to the full Modern Hebrew translation, Rabbi Steinsaltz has translated parts of the Talmud into English, Spanish, French, and Russian.  His various works have been translated into English, Russian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.

The Aleph Society was established in 1988 to support Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s mission to make the Talmud and other sources of Jewish knowledge accessible to all Jews.  The organization also represents the central branch of his schools and educational centers throughout the world. The Aleph Society’s projects provide all Jews direct access to Rabbi Steinsaltz’s teachings, and as a result, tens of thousands of Jews are learning what it means to be Jewish, identifying with their people and obtaining full access to the richness of their heritage.

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at

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