4 Sessions

The Wisdom of Shabbat: A Modern Israeli Perspective

Organization: Hebrew University

Shabbat has been a defining feature of Jewish culture for thousands of years, a central part of Jewish identity, a constant rhythm for Jewish life. In this course, we explore the philosophical underpinnings of Shabbat, the various themes and messages that make it so meaningful, and its place in the modern world using ancient sources against 19th and 20th century thinkers, extending their frameworks into the 21st century.

However, for many Jews—in Israel and beyond—Shabbat a very specific valence of extensive ritual laws and restrictions: synagogue ritual, Shabbat candles, prohibition on writing, and so on. In contrast, this course builds the picture from the ground up, assuming that Shabbat is the inheritance of every Jew, leaving aside the practical questions and instead asking the philosophical: What is Shabbat about? What is its place in today's society? How does it correct or supplement modern ideological systems? How can this idea of Shabbat fit into a modern secular and/or Israeli, Jewish culture?

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