This essay considers the “invention” of Jewish ethics as an academic field following the rise of Jewish Studies scholarship in the American academy. Following this historical argument, this essay argues that universal, stand-alone ethics is as ill-suited to Judaism and its characteristic morality as it is to the ethos of any particular culture. Unique to Judaism is the combination of theology and law pushed by quirks specific to Talmudic reasoning. Underscored is the incapacity of religious ethics to maintain itself as a coherent discourse based upon “common sense” conjoining of things human and divine.

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