Benjamin Franklin’s Influence on Jewish Thought & Practice

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Join  author Shai Afsai for a discussion of Benjamin Franklin’s and Jewish thought. In his 20s, Benjamin Franklin resolved to perfect his character, devising a self-improvement method to aid him in the challenging task of becoming virtuous and intending to complete a book on its use. This method was eventually incorporated into the Jewish ethical tradition through the publication, in 1808, of Rabbi Mendel Lefin’s Book of Spiritual Accounting, which made it available to Hebrew-reading audiences. Shai Afsai discusses this surprising historical development, which has often confused Judaic scholars, and of which Franklin specialists have been largely oblivious.