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Lethal Literature: Wrestling with the Dark Side of Jewish Text

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Lethal Literature: Wrestling with the Dark Side of Jewish Text

Program: Open Circle Jewish Learning, Text and Tradition
Instructor: Aron Wander
Dates: 5 Sundays, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 8/25 & 9/8
Time: 10-11:30 a.m. EST
Course fee: $200, financial aid is available
Location: Zoom
Hosted by: Hebrew College

How do we engage with the disturbing, upsetting, or even horrifying parts of Jewish tradition? What resources are there within Judaism itself for navigating this question?

In “Lethal Literature,” we’ll take a deep dive into a puzzling Talmudic text in which the rabbis express their own discomfort with the Torah. They take three Biblical passages – a legal case in which parents condemn their child to death, the command to slaughter the inhabitants of an idolatrous city, and a description of God enacting a plague seemingly without reason – and claim that each of them is purely theoretical. Each one, they insist, “never happened and never will happen.”

We’ll begin by analyzing those three Biblical passages, and then we’ll see how the rabbis rewrite, reinterpret, and reimagine them. After, we’ll turn to medieval and contemporary commentaries on that Talmudic discussion that use it as a lens through which to explore deeper and broader inquiries about the morality – or immorality – of Jewish text and tradition. What insights might all of those texts and commentaries have for us as we wrestle with our own urgent moral questions, challenges vis-à-vis Judaism, and fears in the face of a world on fire?

Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning is for learners of all backgrounds.

Canadian and other registrants from outside of the US: please email Cindy Bernstein to complete your registration. We apologize for the inconvenience.