Shivat Tzion
Teacher Title תקציר Course
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #01: Background The Jews’ return to Israel from Babylonian exile is one of the Bible’s least studied yet most fascinating stories. The striking similarities to contemporary Jewish life are ubiquitous: the return to Zion, assimilation and intermarriage, antisemitism, political jockeying, the importance of intelligence for securing the community’s security, a mass repentance movement, and the ambiguity of a partial redemption, to name just a few. This series attempts to shine a spotlight on this period by closely examining the major biblical works written during this period: Ezra-Nechemia, Chagai, Zekharia and Malakhi. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #02: The Missing Years Before starting the book of Ezra, we review the controversy concerning the chronology of the kings of Persia. This question, which carries substantial historical and religious implications, bears directly on our understanding of Ezra-Nechemia in particular and Shivat Tzion generally. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #03: Introduction to Ezra-Nechemia In this shiur, we will begin our study of Ezra-Nechemia. We will note the relationship between the two parts of this book, as well as its connection to Divrei Ha-Yamim, and we will begin our study of chapter one, which focuses on the persona of King Cyrus. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #04: The Census In this shiur, we will discuss chapter 2 of Sefer Ezra, which presents a detailed census of those who made aliya at the time. We will discuss some critical ambiguities in the chapter, as well as the overall picture that it presents of the return to Zion at this time. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #05: An Imperfect Inauguration (Ezra, ch. 3) In this shiur, we will discuss the mixed success, and the accompanying mixed emotions, of the initial inauguration of the Second Temple. What lessons can we learn from the story told in Ezra about our contemporary reality? Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #06: Confronting Anti-Semitism (Ezra, ch. 4) In this shiur, we will discuss Ezra 4, which introduces us to the opposition of the Samaritans to the rebuilding of the returnees. We will discuss how the structure of the book teaches us that the major motifs in Shivat Tzion are recurring: the challenge of abandoning comfortable diaspora communities and returning to Judea; the need for proactivity in combating antisemitism and rebuilding; and the importance of confronting the social rifts in our community. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #07: Chagai: The Practical Prophet In this shiur, we will begin our study of Sefer Chagai. We will note that Chagai's prophecy differs from that of his predecessors, as well as his contemporaries, in its straightforward message and in the fact that it was obeyed by the people. We will further discuss how Chagai marks the transition between the prophetic and post-prophetic periods. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #08: Chagai Redoubles His Efforts In this shiur, we will study the prophecies in the second chapter of Sefer Chagai, in which Chagai once again encourages the people to continue their efforts to rebuild the Beit Ha-Mikdash. Unlike the messages of other prophets, Chagai conveys a pragmatic lesson to the people. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #09: Zekharia: Spiritual Visionary In this shiur, we will begin our study of Sefer Zekharia, in particular those chapters that relate most clearly to the period of Shivat Tzion. We will compare and contrast Zekharia's style and message to that of his colleague, Chagai, and focus on his message to the returnees to Eretz Yisrael during his time. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #10: Sefer Zekharia: Optimistic Visions In this shiur, we will study a number of optimistic prophecies in Zekharia that are of particular relevance to our generation and the rebirth of the State of Israel. We will note the significance of Zekharia's vision of the menora, which is read as the haftara of Shabbat Chanuka. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #11: Obscure Reveries In this shiur, we will conclude our study of Sefer Zekharia, focusing on the cryptic prophecies in chapters 5-8, which are of particular relevance to the Shivat Tzion period. We will also briefly discuss the prophecies in the remainder of the book, as well as how they are connected to the earlier chapters. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #12: Ezra Chapters 5-6: The Pesach Sacrifice In this shiur, we will review Ezra chapters 5-6. We will focus on the role played by the prophets in the building of the Temple, as well as the significance of the celebration of Pesach that followed the Temple's inauguration. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #13: Ezra Chapter 7: Ezra Arrives on the Scene In this shiur, we will discuss Ezra chapter 7, which introduces us to the character of Ezra. We will discuss the text's extensive treatment of Ezra's genealogy, as well as the significance of his role and his attitude toward it. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #14: Ezra Chapter 8: Ezra’s Journey In this shiur, we will study chapter 8 of Ezra, which describes Ezra's aliya. What accounts for the initial absence of Levites from among those who traveled with Ezra? What can we learn about Ezra from his behavior in this chapter? Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #15: Ezra Chapter 9: Intermarriage During Shivat Tzion Ezra chapter 9 describes Ezra's reaction to his discovery that many of the Jews of Judea of intermarried. In thisshiur, we will consider why Ezra, Nechemia, and Malakhi respond so harshly to the problem of intermarriage, and we will attempt to reconcile this perspective with the somewhat different portrayal of intermarriage in earlier sources. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #16: Ezra Chapter 10: Separating From Foreign Wives Ezra chapter 10 describes the actions taken by Ezra to counteract the scourge of intermarriage. In this shiur, we will discuss what these actions say about Ezra and his mode of leadership during the period of Shivat Tzion. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #17: Introduction to Nechemia chap. 1 In this shiur, we will begin our study of Nechemia by providing an overview of the book's chapters. We will compare and contrast the books of Ezra and Nechemia, in particular focusing on the initial descriptions of their central figures and the prayers offered by Ezra and Nechemia. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #18: Nechemia's Fateful Request (Nechemia chap. 2) In this shiur, we will study chapter 2 of Sefer Nechemia. We will note how Nechemia's request from the king and his behavior upon arriving in Judea reflect his political savvy. We will also note the significant similarities between Nechemia and Esther and discuss their implications. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #19: Building and Securing Jerusalem's Walls (Nechemia chap. 3-4) In this shiur, we will study chapters 3-4 of Nechemia, which describe Nechemia's leadership in the course of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. We will focus in particular on what this description teaches us about Nechemia's leadership style. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #20: Nechemia Fights for the Poor (Nechemia chap. 5) In this shiur, we will study Nechemia chapter 5, focusing on the leadership qualities that Nechemia displays and how his methods differ from those of the prophets. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #21: Nechemia Wards Off his Enemies (Nechemia chap. 6-7) In this shiur, we will discuss chapters 6-7 of Nechemia, which discuss the plots of Nechemia's enemies against him. We will focus in particular on the indications in this chapter of the wane of prophecy, as well as other signs that this is the twilight of the Biblical period. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #22: The Teshuva Revolution: Part 1 (Nechemia ch. 8) In this shiur, we will discuss the monumental Torah reading described in Nechemia chapter 8. We will note the significance of Ezra's presence at this event, as well as the parallels to the Hakhel ceremony, which itself parallels the experience of Matan Torah. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #23: The Teshuva Revolution: Part 2 (Nechemia, ch. 8) In this shiur, we continue our study of Nechemia chapter 8, focusing on the people's reaction to the dramatic Torah reading. We will discuss the somewhat surprising observance of Rosh Hashana and Sukkot and attempt to explain its significance. This extraordinary moment of solidarity, coupled with the dramatic impact of the Torah reading ceremony just a few days earlier, combines to make the events of Nechemia chapter eight some of the most climactic known to biblical history. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #24: The Great Prayer and Confession (Nechemia chap. 9) In this shiur, we will discuss the Levites' confession and prayer, as recorded in Nechemia chapter 9, noting that its themes fit with the emphasis on tradition in the period of Shivat Tzion. We will also note the significance of the recitation of this passage in Pesukei De-Zimra. Shivat Tzion
Rav Tzvi Sinensky Shiur #25: The Oath (Nechemia ch. 10) Nechemia chapter 10 describes the oath that the Jews took to fulfill a number of laws. The commentators struggle with a fundamental question: to what extent was the oath a renewed commitment to the ancient laws of the Torah, albeit with some novel interpretations, and to what extent are these new, proto-Rabbinic laws? We will see that it is most likely that our chapter presents a mix of the two views. Our chapter – and, indeed, the entire period of Shivat Tzion – exemplifies a careful balance between commitment to tradition and an understanding that specific commandments require additional emphasis or even innovation at particular moments in history. Shivat Tzion

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