On Thursday, October 24, 2013, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke to a large crowd that overflowed onto the stage of Mcinnis Auditorium. Serving as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for twenty-two years, Rabbi Sacks stepped down in September of this year, and visited Eastern University to present “Religion and The Common Good”, a commentary on the covenantal relationship we hold with God and with others.
A contributor to radio, television and the press throughout Britain and the world, Rabbi Sacks was described by the Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation.” He holds sixteen honorable degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity which marks his first ten years in the office of Chief Rabbi. Rabbi Sacks has also won several international awards; perhaps most notably, he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking a seat in the House of Lords in 2009. Since 1970, Rabbi Sacks has been married to Elaine and together they have three children and several grandchildren.
His lecture entitled “Religion and The Common Good” was closely tied to the notion of civil discussion, a disagreeing as friends with the common good as both parties’ ultimate end. Rabbi Sacks began with a critique about Plato and Aristotle’s philosophy; yet, he was not able to distinguish what was not quite right. He ultimately came to the conclusion that Plato and Aristotle lack what Hobbes does not: a social contract.
Yet he furthers this claim, believing Hebrew politics to have not only a social contract but a social covenant. Where a contract is an agreement between two parties to give something up for one another, a covenant is a coming together and pledging ourselves to one another. A contract can be obtained alone, yet the very definition of a covenant necessitates the inclusion of another person. Rabbi Sacks then related this covenantal notion to the building of the Jewish temple, the first time God’s people had to give rather than receive. He hopes we, as a body of committed believers, can move towards “a home we build together”, an active, not passive building.
Highly notable around the world, Rabbi Sacks surely continues his work in bringing God’s goodness to the nations. He has written twenty-four books; his most recent, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, was published in 2011 and shortlisted in 2012 for the National Jewish Book Awards. His website is a great resource for his latest commentaries, writings, and speeches. Look for new material published, and keep Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in your thoughts as you enter civil discussion.
Sources : rabbisacks.org