Lock and Key

This week we talked about the four major theories of punishment in legal thought: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation. We touched on the history of incarceration, and how the emphasis shifted from rehabilitation to retribution.


We learned that the Torah’s primary theory of punishment is rehabilitation of the sinner—for their own sake. Even the worst criminals were created in G‑d’s image, and are therefore worthy of our help to rehabilitate themselves. The Bible does not prescribe an incarceration system because it maintains that every human being has a G‑d-given mission in life and requires freedom in order to pursue it.


As a result, Jewish law tolerates prisons only when absolutely necessary to protect society.


On the policy level, the Torah teaches us that (a) prisons should be used much less—only when truly necessary; (b) the prison system must be completely overhauled, protecting the dignity of the prisoners and focusing on rehabilitation; and (c) convicted criminals should be granted second chances if they are no longer a threat to society.


We concluded by discussing practical ways by which we can help prisoners and their families.


I look forward to continuing to explore the morals of justice next week at 7:30pm at the Chabad House, 74 South Main Street, with Lesson Two.


Rabbi Yitzchok Kahan

The Blind Judge and Prison

Juvenile Justice                 

The Jewish Justice System in Eastern Europe

Chabad in Medford 74 South Main Street, Medford, 08055

Crime and Consequence
6 Wednesdays
Beginning 02/06/2019
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

$ 99.00


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