Democracy and Judaism: The Question of Equality
April 27, 1993
This essay considers the place of democratic ideas within the context of Judaic political thought, with special reference to the idea of equality. The views of Louis Finkelstein, Simon Federbusch, and Sol Roth on this question are considered. Distinctions are drawn between descriptive and prescriptive concepts of equality, as well as between absolute equality and the uniquely Judaic concept of infinite human value. Also discussed is the conflict between complete equality and absolute liberty and its resolution in the prescriptive concept of equality of negative liberty. The essay concludes that although there are fundamental ideological differences between democracy and the religious and ethical system of Judaism, the democratic form of government has the greatest current potential for accommodating the Judaic search for higher values.