Me’ah Select Summer 2021 Courses
A discovery of the important places in the Torah reveals some amazing narratives that connect times and people. If you love maps and geography, you’ll get a big kick out of this course; even if you don’t, you’ll rediscover Biblical sagas in ways you haven’t seen them before. Place-names—Shechem, Beit-El, Megiddo, Hazor, Timna, and many more—become a “golden thread” that links the narratives of the Bible. We’ll explore the mythic resonance of the Land of Israel and its neighbors, revealed through its geography, flora & fauna, and the people who made it home.
The Hasidic revolution involved a return from Judaism’s longtime focus on law (Halacha) to the Jewish narrative (Aggadic) tradition. Hasidic stories range from fairy tales about lost princesses to stories of wonder-working rabbis. How did the medium impact the message? Why stories? How does this tradition continue in new forms today? Our class will conclude with the Coen brother’s film, A SERIOUS MAN (2009).
Designed as a free-standing companion course to Tradition On The Screen I (each may be taken separately), this course screens films that explore the profound personal experiences, and struggles, of those living traditional Jewish lives today. Using the films and readings this course tries to articulate — from the “inside” — the thoughts and feelings of traditional Jews as they face both wrenching dilemmas, and truly joyous moments. Some of the topics taken up in the films include spirituality and faith, the experiences of women, the challenges faced by gays and lesbians, dealing with other religions, and the struggle to believe in God after the Holocaust. Students will screen the films on their own before class; important clips will be shown in class. Carefully chosen academic readings, and short stories will be provided each week, both for background on that week’s film, and to enhance the experience of viewing it.
Silence is Golden, Words are Precious, Talk is Cheap, but is Speech Free? Silence and Statement in Jewish Law and Thought
Online, June 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15
Thursdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels | Register
Over five-sessions, we will explore the theme of silence and statement in Jewish thought, ethics and law. When is silence golden? If words are precious, why is talk cheap? Is speech free, or does it come at a cost? We will consider in TaNaKh (Hebrew Bible) if silence is an expression of resignation and suffering, or a mode of sacred service and submission. We will interrogate whether silence is assent, consent, or protest in the Talmud and Midrash. And we will investigate how silence and statement are construed halakhically — i.e., when is silence legal consent, and when is an oral expression a performative utterance and legal speech act. Our studies will be enhanced by the philosophies of language, law, and science, as well as modern Hebrew literature (in translation).