ספרות רבנית

מחנכת

This course is your chance to prepare spiritually for the Passover Seders. Each session delves into one set of four found in the Haggadah: cups, questions, children, and mothers, exploring different windows into the story of Yetzi’at Mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt) and its significance for us. This learning will guide you and your havruta in a conversation with ancient sages and modern Jewish thinkers, looking at talmudic texts, hasidic commentaries as well as poetry and art. When we each, God willing, arrive at our Seder tables this year, we will have contemplated ideas at the core of Pesah—liberation, Jewish pedagogy, diversity, and moral courage—and will have many pearls of wisdom to share with family and friends.

 

This course will also include a live, online kickoff learning session with the course instructor, Rabbi Elie Lehmann! This learning session is an exciting opportunity to connect further with the rest of the Project Zug Community.

The course kickoff learning session (virtual) will take place on Tuesday, March 26, at 7:00pm Eastern Time.

 

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Register today and start your learning journey with Project Zug! 

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מחנכת

Discover the depths of midrash with Rabbi Ethan Tucker.

Despite some caricatures of this ancient genre, midrash is neither the mechanical reading of biblical verses, nor the invention of Rabbinic flights of fancy, but the meeting place between the features of a text and an idea in need of articulation.

Through exploration of four midrashic themes, this course is designed to encourage appreciation for the midrashic craft of the creative and careful reader. By looking closely at the texts from Tanakh and the works of midrash, we will read Scripture as our Rabbis did—like a love letter addressed directly to us. 

We'll explore questions like: why do characters from elsewhere show up in midrashic expansions of biblical narratives? In what way does a reader's context inform their reading? And who do we trust to hold and transmit our cultural treasures?

 Download a sample source sheet!

  Watch the trailer!

Ready to get started?

Register today and start your learning journey with Project Zug! 

If you don't have a Project Zug account, you will be prompted to create one.

 

The days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are filled with awe and anxiety. As we cultivate a stance of trembling before God, fearful of God’s awesome power and what the year may bring, we are challenged to reflect on the place of fear in our lives. In this four-part course, through the study of texts from Tanakh, Talmud, Mussar, and Hasidut, we'll explore the questions: how is cultivating a posture of fear in our lives helpful? How might it be harmful? What is the correct place of fear in our lives?

 

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מחנכת

Every year at the seder we celebrate our liberation from Egypt. Surprisingly, however, the seder contains very little information about what our enslavement in Egypt was like or how we managed to survive our time there. Join us as we study rabbinic texts about what the Jewish people endured in Egypt and the strategies they used to survive and even flourish under Egyptian rule. Along the way we'll ask ourselves: what are the tools that enable human beings to endure oppression? What do human beings need, in times of trauma, to create meaning and even joy? What does it look like to insist on one's own humanity in a world that seeks to deny it--and what might this teach us about what it means to be human in the first place?

This is a special offering for Pesah 2022 and registration for this course includes two lectures that will take place on Zoom. 

Lecture 1, Monday March 21 7:30-8:30 pm

Packing Timbrels and Washing Hair: Gendered Anticipation of the Redemption in Rabbinic Texts

Lecture 2, Thursday April 7 7:30-8:30 pm

A Seder in Novosibirsk: What Seder Nights in Times of Trauma Can Teach Us in Times of Joy

 

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מחנכת

Teshuvah, often translated as "repentance," is one of the most startling and central concepts in Jewish life—throughout the year but especially during preparation for the High Holidays. The idea that we can sin, work on ourselves, return to the correct path, and then be forgiven is just as essential as it is revolutionary. If it weren’t for this process, we could be stuck in our ways, never changing, never forgiven, always the sinner.

But what does teshuvah actually entail? What are its goals? What is "acceptable" versus "ideal" teshuvah? How can you demonstrate that you have changed? How much does teshuvah rely on God's grace to be effective? And are there any metaphors that can help us focus on this important internal (and external) work?

This course explores four different perspectives on teshuvah, ranging from classical sources to modern Jewish thought. While it may not provide real answers to these unanswerable questions, the discussions help frame and conceptualise the core issues. Each session is a window into this fundamental question: what does it take for a person to change?

 

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ארגון: מכון הדר

In this course, we will approach the story we tell at the seder - maggid - through the lens of Song of Songs, the megillah associated with the holiday of Passover. Each year at the seder, we tell a love story - the story of how the relationship between God and Israel began. Many people like to tell and retell the story of how they fell in love - trying to identify a pivotal moment, relating the challenges and obstacles that stood in the way. As we learn together,  we will focus on four scenes in rabbinic midrash that aim to identify the pivotal moment when we “fell in love” with God, and God “fell in love” with us. We will look at each of these scenes closely over four sessions, asking what each teaches us about the Exodus story, and the twists and turns of being in a deep relationship.

מחנכת

Power and money introduce tricky dynamics and complicated moral questions into professional and personal relationships.  In this session, we'll be exploring the effects of influence and how Jewish sources might advise us to respond when navigating relationships with power imbalances.  We'll explore questions like: when do we speak up and when do we stay silent?  When do we speak truth to power and when do we flatter to avoid conflict?  What moral standards should we require from those in power and what happens when they fail to meet those standards?  

 

 

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When we say "the rabbis" of the Talmud, who are we talking about? What stories do we tell about them and what can we learn from them? How does a religious leader's personality drive or hinder their impact in the world?

Get to know four of the most important of our early rabbis (called "Tannaim") and how they, according to our legends, rebuilt Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, who escaped Jerusalem and made a deal with Vespasian to continue Jewish learning; Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, whose prolific memory and stubborn personality led to his eventual excommunication; R. Akiva, an innovator of unique and stunning insights, martyred by the Romans; and R. Elazar ben Arakh, the lone genius.

What were the advantages and disadvantages of their approaches? How did their personality affect their project and their relationship with their colleagues? What kind of rabbi would we want to be?

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ארגון: מכון הדר

פעמים, השיח בנושא עונש המוות נושא אופי פשטני, צבוע רק בשחור ולבן. התומכים בו מדברים על הרתעה ותגמול כסיבות עיקריות לענישה זו, והמתנגדים מעלים את הטיעונים בדבר אפשרות של האשמה שגויה, ולצדה – את קדושת החיים.

אולם, משיח זה נפקד דיון במורכבות של תהליך הענישה במוות. מקור ההשראה לקורס הזה היה ספרה של בת ברקוביץ (Beth Berkowitz) בנושא עונש המוות במקורות חז"ליים ובמקורות נוצריים (Execution and Invention: Death Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures). בעקבותיה של המחברת נלמד את הדיון הרבני וזאת, כדבריה "כדי להיטיב ולהבין את הקשר שבין אלימות וסמכות בתרבויות היהדות העתיקה, ובדרך זו, להבין קשר זה בתרבותנו אנו".

יחד נבחן סוגיות כגון "האם ייתכן 'מוות טוב'?" מהו תפקידו של התגמול במערכת המשפט אז והיום? והטקסים הקשורים במוות – איך הם מחזקים את הפעלנות של השחקנים הקשורים בו, ואיך הם מחלישים אותה?

אלה ליד אלה, נלמד את דברי חז"ל לצד מקורות מודרניים יותר, וניתן לכל אחד מסוגי המקורות להאיר היבטים במשנהו, היבטים שאולי לא היינו רואים אלמלא זרקור זה.

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ארגון: מכון הדר

אכילה היא צורך אנושי בסיסי, ואכילה בצוותא מקרבת לבבות. כיהודים, איננו אוכלים ככל העמים וחוקי הכשרות מגבילים הן את מבחר המזון שלנו והן את המיקום שבו אנו יכולים לסעוד ואת האנשים שאת המזון שלהם נוכל לאכול. ויחד עם זאת, שאלות מרכזיות רבות הקשורות לכשרות עדיין נותרו פתוחות. למה בכלל לשמור את חוקי הכשרות? מה מכיל המזון שאנו אוכלים ואיך נדע זאת? ומה באשר לדרך הכנת המאכלים – האם משנה לנו איך הכינו אותם ומי הכין אותם? על מי אנחנו סומכים שיכין לנו אוכל שנוכל לאכול? ואיך מתקשרים החוקים העתיקים עולם שלנו, עולם שיש בו חומרי ניקוי וחיטוי, מדיחי כלים, כלים חד-פעמיים וחומרים שהמקרא וספרות ההלכה לא הכירו, למשל, פלדת אלחלד?

עשרת המפגשים שלפניכם הם סיור בזק בהיבטים התיאורטיים והמעשיים של הכשרות. נדון בשאלות "למה?", "מה?" ו"איך?" לשמור כשרות בעולם שבו אנו חיים, עולם שבו אין אנו "עם לבדד ישכון", לא כלאום ולא כיחידים.

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