Audio shiurim from Rav Chanoch Waxman on parashat ha-shavua.
Our return to sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, along with modern archeological research, affords us fascinating new insights into parashat ha-shavua. This series, by an eminent scholar, shares these findings in a manner comprehensible to all.
There are many collections of midrash, each with its own approach. This series will examine a different collection each week, focusing on a topic, derasha or string of derashot, with the aim of uncovering the uniqueness of each one.
(Wednesday) Yeshivat Har Etzion is headed by three Rashei Yeshiva: Harav Yaakov Medan, Harav Baruch Gigi and Harav Mosheh Lichtenstein. All three were distinguished students of the Founding Rashei Yeshiva Harav Yehuda Amital zt"l and Harav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l, who headed the yeshiva for roughly forty years and were privileged to appoint thousands of students, many of whom became educators, rabbis and even other Rashei Yeshiva. Here, we will release an address (sicha) by one of the Rashei Yeshiva about the week's parasha or current events.
(Tuesday) An analysis of the parasha, incorporating innovative approaches as well as traditional commentaries, with particular attention to literary aspects and their religious meaning. We welcome the return of Rav Itiel Gold to the writing staff of Studies in Parashat HaShavua, for the parashot of Sefer Devarim in 5782.
The weekly parasha is a treasure trove of wonderful insights into life, existance, personal development and more. Come and explore the parasha's wisdom, as viewed through multiple lenses each week.
(Wednesday) Addresses (sichot) on the weekly parasha by the Rashei Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion: Harav Yaakov Medan, Harav Baruch Gigi and Harav Mosheh Lichtenstein, with a focus on messages for contemporary life.
(5784 - Spring Semester) (Sunday) Shemot 1-15 describes in vivid detail Israel’s experiences in Egypt, from slavery to liberation. This series will utilize literary tools, midrashim, biblical exegesis and scholarship’s understanding of Ancient Egypt to broaden our understanding of these seminal biblical chapters. Above all, this series aims to explore the text of the foundational story of the nation to discover its moral depth, its theology, and its vision of Israel’s place in the world.
(5783) (Tuesday) The haftarot usually reflect the weekly parasha in some way. Comparison between them enriches both our understanding of the prophets and the Torah. Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Yaakov Medan brings his vast knowledge and unique, creative thought to both and adds depth of his own. The reader is in store for unique, challenging interpretations that will certainly deepen his thought and broaden his knowledge.
(5783-5784) (Wednesday) Weekly addresses to the students, with a focus on messages for contemporary life, by the Rashei Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion - Harav Mosheh Lichtenstein, HaRav Yaakov Medan and HaRav Baruch Gigi. On occasion, guest sichot by Rabbanei HaYeshiva are posted in this series as well.
Audio versions of written shiurim from Rav Chanoch Waxman on parashat ha-shavua.
(5784) (Tuesday) An analysis of the parasha, incorporating innovative approaches as well as traditional commentaries, with particular attention to literary aspects and their religious meaning. In this year’s Studies in Parashat HaShavua, Rav Yishai Jeselsohn will analyze the parasha through the lens of the celebrated commentary Or HaChaim, written by Rabbi Chaim ben Atar, one of the great sages of Morocco. Each week, we will delve into his unique interpretive approach that combines both the literal and allegorical, the halakhic and kabbalistic aspects, while comparing his insights to those of other commentators and tracing his sources.
(5784) (Wednesday) Reading Sefer Bereishit: A Literary Approach to Biblical Narrative. The “Modern Literary Approach” represented a biblical studies revolution in the academic classroom, reading the Torah as a unified whole and finding in Tanakh literary beauty, moral insight, and psychological wisdom. Orthodox Jewry naturally found this approach congenial and started to employ these methods. In this series, we will see how both midrash and medieval commentaries such as Radak and Abravanel anticipated some of these techniques. We then will highlight how much these ideas challenge the edifice of biblical criticism, since they often provide better explanations for certain textual anomalies. Finally, this series will collate the work of a host of scholars and explore novel literary techniques and categories.
Studies in Tanakh
This course examines the methodologies and contributions of major parshanim from late antiquity to the twentieth century, with special attention to Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra and Ramban.
The course examines the importance and role of the Temple in Tanakh, Halakha, Jewish philosophy, and history.
The premise of this series is that places in the Land of Israel have a unique and significant spiritual character; The events that take place here, the tribal affiliation and so on - all express its special character and essence and form its character. This is said in relation to every place in the Land of Israel, all the more so in relation to Jerusalem, and the purpose of these shiurim is to reveal the spiritual nature and essence of Jerusalem as they arise throughout the generations. It is argued that Jerusalem unites within it two kingdoms: the kingdom of flesh and blood and the kingdom of God.
(5782) (Sunday) In his lessons, which have since been published as a book - "Text and Subtext: On Exploring Biblical Narrative Design," Prof. Jonathan Grossman deals with tools for the literary analysis of the Bible stories. It is difficult to overstate the importance of such analysis for understanding the intentions behind these stories, most of which are not told openly.
(Wednesday) VBM Digest, concise divrei Torah in a pdf format, prepared weekly by Rav Dov Karoll, for distribution in shuls.
The flourishing of prophecy in the middle of the 7th century BCE produced four books of Tanakh: Yeshayahu, Mikha, Amos and Hoshea. This course will survey the period and the role of prophets against the background of geopolitical events of the era. Along with a general overview of the rhetoric of the nevi'im, we will study the prophecies of Hoshea and Amos, identifying their audiences and the temporal, as well as timeless, messages that their prophecies impart
Melakhim Aleph takes us on a breathtaking journey: From King David to King Solomon and the building of the Temple, the revolution of Yerovam and the split of the kingdom, the kings of the South and the chaotic instability of the Northern Kingdom culminating in the evil regime of King Ahab and his wife Izevel. These shiurim aim to give shape to the characters, history, and religious messages of the prophetic books. They are best read alongside a reading of the chapters in the Tanakh.
As we open Melakhim Bet we meet the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as they are struggle against the powerful kingdom of Aram, and then the aggressive empires of Assyria and then Babylonia. These forces threaten the very existence of the Israelite state, as we read the tragic fall of Samaria and the northern kingdom, and some 135 years later, the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple's destruction. In this book we meet the powerful personalities of the prophets Eliyahu. Elisha and later, Yishayahu; kings such as Yehu, Uzziah, Hizkiyahu, Menashe and Yoshiyahu.
Using a variety of interpretive and literary tools, we will investigate Yirmehahu's prophecies of rebuke and consolation. Delivered during one of the most turbulent periods in Jewish history, these prophecies predicted the destruction of Yehuda and Jerusalem in a desperate attempt to prevent it. We will also examine the unique, tormented and tragic figure of Yirmeyahu.
Through a literary and thematic analysis of the weekly haftora, highlighting its parallels and contrasts to the associated Torah reading, Rav Shaviv uncovers two layers of meaning - the prophet's message itself and its implicit commentary on the parasha.
Yechezkel prophesied in exile before, during and after the destruction of the Temple. This course will employ techniques of literary analysis to illuminate the meaning of his prophecies, compare his prophecies to those of his contemporaries, and explore broad religious themes such as reward and punishment, Israel and Diaspora, and how to worship God.
(Monday) The geopolitical and religious developments in the shadow of the threat of Assyrian conquest in the middle of the 8th century BCE spurred an unprecedented literary output from Judean prophets which led to four books of Tanakh: Yeshayahu, Micha, Amos and Hoshea. This course will survey the period and the role of prophets against the background of geopolitical events of the era. Along with a general overview of the rhetoric of the nevi'im, we will study the prophecies of Hoshea and Amos, identifying their audiences and the temporal, as well as timeless, messages that their prophecies impart. Last year we finished our examination of Amos, and this year we will cover the entire book of Hoshea.
(5782) (Tuesday) A study of the “Later Prophets” through a historical-political lens reveals striking parallels between the prophets of the period of Uzziyahu-Yerovam (Yeshayahu, Amos, Hoshea), those of the time of Achaz and Chizkiyahu (Yeshayahu, Hoshea, Mikha), those of the days of Yoshiyahu (Tzefania, Chulda, Nachum, Chavakuk, Yirmiyahu), early prophecies (Elisha and his students), and “lost” prophecies from the time of Menashe. By studying the prophecies against the backdrop of the rise and fall of empires, we gain insight into foundational questions regarding the meaning, goals, audiences and function of prophecy.
This series offers a close reading of the book of Eikha within its biblical-historical context. We will discuss the connections between Eikha and other biblical books, examining the major themes associated with the destruction of Jerusalem, such as Israel's sinfulness and human suffering. We will also observe the manner in which Eikha masterfully deploys poetic language to craft an exquisite composition of grief-stricken emotions and profound theological meaning.
This series will offer an overview of the classic perspectives on this exquisite yet mystifying work, while attempting to set forward a novel reading of the megilla as a whole.
The era of the return to Zion after the Babylonian exile plays out the drama of the Jewish community’s transition to a post-prophetic existence. This series will review the major works written during this period: Ezra-Nechemia, Chagai, Zekharia and Malakhi.
(5783-5784) (Tuesday) The psalms are heartfelt poems of longing for a connection to God, and therefore they serve as the basis of our prayers. This series will study a number of mizmorim, utilizing tools of linguistic and poetic analysis and traditional commentaries, from medieval times until our own.
The psalms are heartfelt poems of longing for a connection to God, and therefore they serve as the basis of our prayers. This series will study a number of mizmorim, utilizing tools of linguistic and poetic analysis and traditional commentaries, from medieval times until our own.
This series is an attempt to synthesize, perhaps harmonize, the temporal feelings of the great King of Israel (and the other psalmists) with the eternal emotional outpouring of each individual as he or she recites the specific psalm. Through a brief analysis of the themes, and a development of the motif in the prayer, we will aim to analyze an entire mizmor, or psalm, in each installment.
Megillat Eikha is a powerful sefer that deals with dread and destruction; however, it is filled with much beauty both in its message and literary styles.
Explore the Megilla of Ruth in a deeper way then ever before. Dr. Yael Ziegler gives us a glimpse into the main themes of the Megilla.
Discover what wisdom really means, and what one needs to do to become wise, in a series on Mishlei by Rav Shlomo Rosen.
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Berakhot - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara Arvei Pesachim, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Ezra Bick.
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara Megilla, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Ezra Bick and Rav Michael Siev.
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara Sukka, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Michael Siev, with an introduction by Rav Ezra Bick.
This sidra - on Arvei Pesachim - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. In this series, we begin our learning with the first perek of Pesachim.
An analysis of the major issues in Massekhet Sukka, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own.
(Mon, Wed, Summer) A shiur using different talmudic topics to illustrate the nature of rabbinic legal thinking, emphasizing the analytic methods practiced in modern Yeshivot. This sidra, set to accompany the Daf Yomi learning of Massekhet Sukka, will be mailed bi-weekly, Mondays and Wednesdays, beginning the last week of Tammuz, running through Elul.
Podcasts by Rav Yitzchak Etshalom along with helpful outlines guiding your study. The podcasts are comprehensive while being short (average time about 20 minutes) and focus on understanding the words of the text, the concepts underlying the legal matter under discussion and the methodology of Talmudic reasoning.
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara Asara Yochsin, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Michael Siev.
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara HaOmeir, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Michael Siev.
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Gittin - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
(5783) (Thursday) An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Ketubot - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
(Thursday) An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This series, we will focus our learning on the first perek of Kiddushin.
An analysis of the major issues in Gemara Sota, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own.
An analysis of the major issues in the the seventh chapter - "Eilu Ne'emarim" - of Massekhet Sota, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own.
A structured tutorial on how to learn Gemara Elu Metziot, starting from the basics, using text and commentaries. The shiurim were written by Rav Joshua Amaru.
(5784) (Thursday) An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Bava Kamma - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own.
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own.
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Bava Metzia - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
An analysis of the major issues in the gemara, geared for students who are learning the basic text on their own. This sidra - on Shevuot - allows, in essence, every Jew in the world to join a beit midrash, and receive a weekly gemara study lesson at home. It is intended for yeshiva graduates, chevrutot and anyone who wants to enrich his study of the gemara by an in-depth iyuni shiur. The lessons are based upon advanced preparation of sources (source sheets are included).
A shiur using different talmudic topics to illustrate the nature of rabbinic legal thinking, emphasizing the analytic methods practiced in modern Yeshivot.
Studies in Gemara
Given that the Gemara explains the Mishna, what need is there for later commentaries? Yet nevertheless, fascinating and significant commentaries on the Mishna have been written, from the Rambam in the Middle Ages until Kehati in our times. This series explores the motivations for these commentaries, their respective approaches, and the personalities behind the commentaries.
This course introduces the student to the literary and theological riches of the world of Talmudic aggada. We focus on the aggadot of the first chapter of Massekhet Berakhot wich deals with many central issues in Jewish thought and life, including, the purpose and power of prayer, why bad things happen to good people and the very nature of God. We will explore both tradition and modern methods of confronting the morally, religiously and intellectually challenging ideas and images which the Talmud often presents in its aggadic passages.
This course will take the midrash to Sefer Bereishit, the Book of Genesis, and see how it illuminates the text, both as a deep commentary on it, and as a source for basic ideas in the understanding of the Sages of the relationship between Bereishit and our lives as Jews who serve God.
In our study of aggadeta, we will attempt to uncover the themes and meanings of the aggadot by means of close readings and literary analyses. In addition, we will study the wider talmudic contexts in which the aggadot are embedded, in an attempt to discover the influence of context on aggada and vice versa.
In our study of aggadeta, we will attempt to uncover the themes and meanings of the aggadot by means of close readings and literary analyses. In addition, we will study the wider talmudic contexts in which the aggadot are embedded, in an attempt to discover the influence of context on aggada and vice versa. This is not a continuation of our previous series on the subject and can be joined by new students.
(SUMMER 5782 - Monday and Wednesday) If you want to recognize the One who spoke and the world came into being, learn aggada. (Sifrei, Devarim 49). Aggada, the non-legal sections of the Talmud, have not received their due in classical Torah learning. This series comes to remedy that ill and return the aggada to its rightful place as a powerful tool to learn about God and his ways. [Shiurim 1-24 have been mailed over the summer. We will pick up with #25 in the Summer of 5783.]
A shiur using different talmudic topics to illustrate the nature of rabbinic legal thinking, emphasizing the analytic methods practiced in modern Yeshivot.
A Jew endeveavours each day to say 100 blessings and pray three times, seemingly simple actions that are actually replete with deep wisdom and meaning. This shiur presents wonderful ideas and revelations designed to augment one's tefillot and berachot.
Avraham is considered the father of three of the largest religions today. Discover what the enigmatic midrashim reveal to us about this monolithic character.
The creation story is both confusing and mindboggling. Discover the fantastic Midrashic interpretations of some of the most intriguing stories in the Torah.
The Mishna is one of the cornerstones of Jewish literature that is widely studied, however many of the wonderful lessons hidden within, are never truly accessed. These shiurim provide the vital skills and insights to enable an individual to maximise their growth from studying the mishna.
(5782-5784) (Thursday) Although Torah She-be’al Peh (the Oral Law) is the lifeblood of Judaism, its students often fail to address foundational issues: Which components were given at Sinai and which were developed by the Sages? What is the relationship between the simple meaning of biblical verses and their interpretation by the Oral Law? What can account for the discrepancy between the literal meaning of a Mishna and its interpretation in the Gemara? How did sages throughout the generations address a changing reality using the tools of the Oral Law? These questions and others receive comprehensive and in-depth treatment in this series. New subscribers are welcome to join. We recommend that you become acquainted with the first two years' installments - just click on the Series Name to access our archives.
(5783-5784) (Sunday) Both the Talmud and Chassidut, though separated by over a millennium, convey some of their most central messages by means of stories. In both, these stories interact with more formal presentations of law and belief. This series will examine the centrality and function of the story in both of these literatures, and also the ways each of these disparate periods sheds light on the other.
We will examine the structure of the daily prayer service, beginning with birkot hashachar and continuiing to the end, in order to understand the meaning of each unit and its place in the overall structure.
This year, we will study the blessings on natural phenomena, Shehecheyahu, Tefillat Ha-Derekh, Birkat Ha-Gomel, the blessing upon smells, and the blessings said before performing mitzvot. Each topic examines both primary sources and practical applications.
This course will closely examine the language of the "Shemona Esrei" prayer, approximately one berakha each shiur. The main goal is to understand the philosophic ideas embedded in the prayer, both in order to better understand basic principles of Judaism and to enhance the prayer experience itself.
Highly practical everyday topics in Hilchot Shabbat. Half hour shiurim covering topics relating to Bishul, Muktze, Binyan and Setira B'Keilim and more.
Learn about the halakhic and Talmudic underpinnings of our berachot relating to food.
Every three days the community is obliged to read publicly sections of the weekly Torah portion. Why, how, when, who and with what is it done?
Tefillin and Mezuza are things we use on a daily basis and hence, often done without much thought invested. Join Rav Yair Kahn in this 13-part series, where we will learn how to make these mitzvot ever more meaningful.
Shabbat, a cornerstone for every Jewish home is characterised by two directives. Shamor - the better known of the two - is synonomyus with the negative prohibitons. This series delves into the ins and outs of Zachor - the positive mitzvot.
Preparing for shabbat is not just cooking and cleaning. The preparation of the home and oneself is a vital part of the holy and unique nature of Shabbat.
From the laws of muktza, to the proper way to daven in an airport, Rav Friedman gives clear practical, halakhic guidance on many of the abc's of halachic issues.
Prayer is something that we do so often, the little aspects of it tend to get lost. In a series by Rav Yair Kahn we will learn laws of prayer and get a glimpse into the origins of our prayers framework.
Tefilla is a central aspect to every Jew's life, but what is unique about Shabbat, that encouraged the rabbis to create for it a unique set of tefillot? What is the essence of these tefillot, why do we say them and what can their very existence teach us about Shabbat in general?
A study of the content and wording of the berakhot of this essential prayer, based upon three sources: the sage text of the prayer, the verses that formed the basis of these blessings and explicit sages' sayings about them.
Tefilla can feel rigid at times and consistently presents us with different challenges. Rav Moshe Taragin helps us discover ways to make tefilla more relateable and personally engaging.
Techelet has been subject to much controversy lately and getting a deep understanding of the topic is hard to come by. Rav Yair Kahn delves into these topics and gives us a better understanding of the meaning of the mitzva of tzitzit.
A mini-series offered in 5782 exploring the topic of tefillin from its sources in the Torah and Chazal and traced through the writings of Rishonim and Acharonim, with special attention to contemporary disputes and applications. We hope, in the future, to complete this series with an inquiry into the topics of mezuza and chol ha-moed.
We will begin by studying the laws of brit mila, including the nature of the father’s obligation, who may be circumcised and who may perform the brit mila, the details of the procedure including modern innovations and challenges, and the special blessings said at the ceremony. We will then discuss topics relating to personal status change and conversion, including Chazal's attitude towards giyur and gerim, motivations for giyur, each of the components of giyur (mila, tevila, kabalat mitzvot), the role of beit din, and modern conversion challenges.
We began this series in 5779 by studying the laws of brit mila, including the nature of the father’s obligation, who may be circumcised and who may perform the brit mila, the details of the procedure including modern innovations and challenges, and the special blessings said at the ceremony. This year we will discuss topics relating to personal status change and conversion, including Chazal's attitude towards giyur and gerim, motivations for giyur, each of the components of giyur (mila, tevila, kabalat mitzvot), the role of beit din, and modern conversion challenges.
(Tuesday) We began this series in 5779 by studying the laws of brit mila. Last year, we discussed Chazal's attitude towards giyur and gerim, motivations for giyur, the role of the beit din, and introduced each of the components of giyur (mila, tevila, kabalat mitzvot). Most recently, during the Fall semester of 5781, we discussed topics relating to the tevila (immersion) of a convert, kabbalat mitzvot, and the conversion of children. We also presented some of the challenges of conversion in the modern era, especially in the State of Israel. Interested? Just click here for this year's shiurim.
This multi-year course will address the laws of marriage, birth, brit mila, pidyon ha-ben, bar/bat mitzva, and death. We will dedicate this year to the study of ishut - laws relating to marriage.
(Summer 5782 - Sunday and Tuesday) This series deals with the Jewish family from a halakhic perspective. We will study the relationship that Halakha outlines between family members and examine the relationships it is trying to create - at every stage of life: childhood, marriage, parenthood and old age.
Studies in Halakha
(5782 - Spring Semester) (Monday) Over the past millennium, the Jewish community has faced many challenges, opportunities, and changes, and all of these have been reflected and refracted through the lens of Halakha. In this course, we address the halakhic challenges that arose directly from important historical events, starting from the 11th Century and continuing up to the Second World War. The 5781 syllabus reached 1802, with an examination of Napoleon and the Emancipation. Beginning in Feb 2022, Rav Tabory will continue to explore halakhic ramifications of the 19th and 20th century. New shiurim will be released every two weeks.
(5782-5784) (Thursday, every other week) Guided, source-based study of halachot pertaining to women, from a woman's perspective. This series is presented in conjunction with Deracheha: Women and Mitzvot, a halachic education website sponsored by Yeshivat Har Etzion in partnership with the VBM and Beit Midrash Migdal Oz.
The interconnected world created by communication technology in general and social media in specific is radically different than the past. The changes that have come with these technological advances have effected widely divergent areas of halakha. The goal of this course is to shed light on the way halakha has responded to this new world.
In-depth analyses of both practical and theoretical halakhic topics, collected from the literary legacy of moreinu Harav Lichtenstein zt”l.
The birth of the State of Israel and its continuing growth in the face of many challenges has presented halakhists with questions that have not been addressed in two thousand years. This series explores a number of fascinating issues that aroused controversy both in Israeli society and in the beit midrash.
Recently, questions of democracy and theocracy, the authority of a non-religious autonomous Jewish government, etc., have become part of the general public discourse in Israel. In this series, we will undertake a rigorous examination of the classic halakhic and philosophic sources, and will hopefully emerge with a better understanding of our times and of our ideals.
(Monday, Summer) (Please note: this series began in the summer, and is being mailed on Mondays, beginning the week of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and running upto Tu BeShevat.) An exploration of the laws of the current Shemitta year, focusing on the legal concepts underlying them, based on an analysis of Mishnayot Shevi'it.
(Wednesday, Summer) (Please note: this series began in the summer, and is being mailed on Wednesdays, beginning 19th of Av, running upto Tu BeShevat.) Through analysis of sources from Tanakh to the present, this series will explore the economic, interpersonal, spiritual, ecological, Zionistic and national themes illuminated by Shemitta observance.
The course will examine the practice of halakhic Judaism, explicating the philosophic significance of select halakhic topics, such as Shabbat, prayer, kashrut, holidays, charity, mourning, etc. The course is appropriate for all levels of Jewish knowledge.
Through examining Talmudic discussions and halakhic decisions, this course will explore issues such as women’s exemption from time-bound mitzvot; Torah study; Torah and megilla reading for women; mechitza; and more.
The halachic process relies on guiding principles that enable authorities to turn theoretical concepts into practical rulings that can be applied to our daily lives. This fascinating series explores the many factors that impact halachic decision making, including textual sources, extenuating circumstances, varying customs, ethical considerations, and more.
There aren't many short proclamations that have had such an immense impact upon the world as the Ten Commandments, but what are they really instructing us to do?
When society advances there is the inevitable clash between the contemporary and the classic. How does the modern State of Israel approach this dillemma through attempting to balance traditional halacha with modern day existence?
Over the years, Rav Binyamin Tabory z"l saw, heard and read about various customs practiced by the gedolim of Israel. In this series, he reviews these customs and tries to explain them.
(5783) (Mondays) The 20th century hosted many more remarkable poskim than we tend to notice. This series will give us a chance to get more acquainted with the teshuvot of R. Kook (known more for his philosophical works), R. Uziel (the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel), R. Herzog (the first Ashkenazic one), these latter two involved in the interesting questions that arise when building a new country, and R. Hayyim David HaLevi, the longtime Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. By sampling their responsa, we will get a sense of who they were, what they contributed to the Torah conversation of the Jewsh people, and how.
(5783) (Monday) The preservation of life is a cardinal value in Halakha, and halakhic authorities over the generations have defined its purview and interaction with various realms of Jewish law. This series will discuss the classic halakhic definitions and debates, and from there will proceed to examine the unprecedented questions that arise with the revival of Jewish sovereignty in our times. How do considerations of national security affect Halakha? How are hospitals, police and an army to operate in a Jewish state on Shabbat? Rav Schwartz, head of the Halakhic Policy Department of the IDF Military Rabbinate, discusses these questions and more.
(5783-5784) (Monday) “And you shall live by them.” The Torah preserves and and enhances life, and this fundamental principle drives the thought behind a whole set of halakhot - “pikuach nefesh,” the protection of life. This series will discuss the main principles of pikuach nefesh on Shabbat and Yom Tov, with an emphasis on public systems. Some of these questions are relatively new, innovations of modernity and sovereignty, and therefore not discussed in the literature before the establishment of the State of Israel. We will evaluate the activity of public and governmental systems that are designed to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the community as a whole in light of the guiding principles of pikuach nefesh.
(5784) (Tuesday) 3 mini-series exploring the topics of Keriat haTorah, Hachsharat Keilim and Tevilat Keilim, from their sources in the Torah and Chazal and traced through the writings of Rishonim and Acharonim. Special attention will be given to contemporary disputes and applications.
Mussar is a branch of Torah that is meant to offer us spiritual guidance. But the modern mind often feels that texts written in previous centuries can't possibly be meaningful anymore. This series acknowledges the dilemma but tries to chart pathways to fruitful engagement with mussar in our age. You missed our Fall 5781 semester? Just click here to see the shiurim mailed out earlier this year.
(Summer 5783) A philosophical approach which presents a new perspective on the nature and purpose of the Jewish People and Jewish history. Make sure to watch the videos in order as they each build upon concepts from previous ones as we move forward. Each video is accompanied by an annotated transcript where you can read the script of the video together with additional sources and information. Or, if you would rather listen than watch, you can get these in audio only format on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms.
(5784 Monday) A philosophical journey articulating what it means for the Jewish people to be a chosen nation. The course explores data from Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, medieval and modern thinkers, and culminates in the author’s attempt to formulate an account of election informed by the weight of the Jewish tradition that can stand up in the face of philosophical and ethical scrutiny. We will then examine the ramifications of this theory for Halakha, for Zionism, for our conception of the Messiah and the eschaton, and for the relationship between Judaism and other religions.
In this course, Prof. Shalom Rosenberg makes use of the philosophy of the Kuzari to examine major issues in modern life. The course is not so much a presentation of the philosophy of R. Yehuda HaLevi as an application of basic Jewish values and categories to a host of issues which face any Jew in the modern world.
Studies in Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed, while studying both classic and modern commentators, and comparing it to his other writings.
Our objective in this lecture series is to study the thought of Maimonides, as reflected in his various writings, and compare it to what we know about his life and work. And, in reverse, we shall also examine his life and understand it in light of his thought and literary oeuvre.
Rav Kalonymus Kalman Shapira of Piaseczna, known especially for his works Chovat haTalmidim and Esh Kodesh, was an innovative and influential Hasidic rebbe who sought to revitalize the inner world of Hasidut and to provide seekers with techniques of spiritual ascent. This series will pay special attention to his trailblazing teachings regarding the role of imagination in divine service, the quieting of thought and employment of emotion in service of the heart, the role of community, the repair of personality and the possibility of renewing prophecy in our times.
(Summer 5782 - Thursday) Rav Kook's thought is deep and multifaceted. This series explores the sundry topics that Rav Kook covered in his voluminous works. It discusses his thought thematically, allowing the reader to get a grasp of the broad underlying topics that Rav Kook tackles.
(5783) (Wednesday) Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was not only one of the outstanding Talmudists and religious leaders of the past century, but also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. This comprehensive study of Rabbi Soloveitchik's religious philosophy offers a broad perspective and balanced understanding of his work. By interpreting and analyzing both individual essays and overarching themes in an accessible and engaging manner, it uncovers the depth, majesty, and fascination of his thought.
In this course, we will be studying the philosophic work of the Ramban, R. Moshe b. Nachman, sometimes known by the Latin name Nachmanides. The course will be text-based; that is, each session we will examine selected texts of the Ramban in order to understand his opinions.
The Vilna Gaon towers as a dominant, influential, yet idiosyncratic figure that left a lasting imprint on Jewry. The series examines unique features of his worldview, ethical teachings and personality. The topics investigated include: love of Torah, minhag vs. halakha, other-wordliness, the empowering of the individual, secular studies, and messianism.
(Sunday) Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (1922-1996), known as “Manitou,” was a profound and original thinker and a spiritual leader of francophone Jewry in Israel, Europe, and North Africa. His thought, which draws from diverse sources such as the Kabbala and Rav Kook, focuses on understanding Jewish history and identity within the interplay of ideas in the world. We are pleased to offer the first extensive introduction to his thought in English.
How do the teachings of the Vilna Gaon continue to impact the world of yeshiva learning? Was the Gra a Zionist? Has the sectorial controversy of Mitnagdim and Chassidim run its course? An in-depth study of the Vilna Gaon and his enduring influence.
Join us on a journey to better understand modern Jewish thought, and the rabbis who are central to those teachings.
Discover what makes the Ramban's commentary on the Torah so special. Rav Ezra Bick gives an in-depth study of the most important and influential Rambans in each Parasha.
Weighty issues face the Jewish community in the land of Israel and the diaspora. These discussions provide a unique perspective on the proper way to bring Torah values to bear on these issues. Politics and the life of the Jewish people are too important to divest all application of Torah from them, despite the dangers inherent in combining spiritual and worldly pursuits.
Issues in Jewish Thought
This series will study “duties of the heart” (such as faith, love and fear of God, and divine uniqueness) and their connection to our lives as worshippers of God. The framework for our discussion will be an examination of the mitzvot of keriat Shema and prayer, which are cornerstones of the service of God. Our discussions, both halakhic and philosophical, attempt to chart the path leading from the intellect to worship.
This series deals with fundamental issues in one's religious growth and self-understanding, such as: religion and ethics, openness and insularity, Torah and secular studies, historical sensitivity and balancing goals.
According to Rav Amital zt"l, religious life should not contradict one’s humanity and individuality, but rather flow from them. This perspective informs Rav Amital’s profound and enlightening explorations of one’s relationship to God, to society, and to oneself.
Maharal was a creative and prolific, but also prolix, writer. In this series, we study his commentary to the first three chapters of Avot, to see his view of Jewish ethical behavior.
The course examines the importance and role of the Temple in Tanakh, Halakha, Jewish philosophy and history.
This series is a new look at the Rambam's thirteen principles of faith from the perspective of a modern reader. Where did the Rambam get his principles and how do they apply today. We take an in depth look at the Rambam's attempt to formulate a Jewish dogma in his introduction to his commentary on the Mishna in Sanhedrin chapter ten. We try to understand each principle in the context of the Rambam's philosophy and the science of the day and then try to translate those into modern terms. Along the way we discuss perspectives that the Rambam rejected but which were embraced by other Rishonim. In the last part of the series we discuss principles of faith that the Rambam omitted.
This course will address the gravity, goals, methods and scope of talmud Torah, the relationship between learning and teaching, and important aggadot and later thinkers on the subject. Along the way, we'll examine fascinating subjects such as Torah lishmah, the emotional world of the learner (reverence, joy, toil), breadth versus depth, Torat Eretz Yisrael, the disgraced Torah scholar, and the character of the rebbe-talmid relationship.
This series explores basic topics in Jewish philosophy. For each topic, we will present and develop the full range of opinions within traditional Jewish thought. We will attempt to elucidate the logical basis of each opinion and clarify the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches. The sources we draw on will range from Tanakh and Chazal through contemporary thinkers.
(5782) (Sunday) Chazal maintained that ideal Torah study should be "lishmah" - accompanied by the proper mindset and motivation. The series explicates this ideal while showing that it actually is a reflection of what Torah is all about. We will focus first on the position of Rav Hayyim of Volozhin and then on Rav Kook, who continued and developed the thought of his predecessor.
The series deals with the basics of the thirteen dimensions of mercy, and provides a deep understanding of each and every attribute.
(5784 - Spring Semester) (Sunday) The first year of this series (5774) focused on the first two values of Berit Avot – Jewish peoplehood and the Land of Israel. The sequel series, released in 5779, continued on to the latter two values of ethical living and of pursuing a rich spiritual life. Rav Goldberg is continuing to write an additional 14 shiurim, which will discuss spirituality in Judaism, berit Avot and Jewish leadership, and covenantal values that predate berit Avot. We anticipate their release in time for the 5784 - Spring Semester. In the meantime, we recommend learning the shiurim in our archive.
Chazal in Pirkei Avot delineate 48 "kinyanim" - attributes or characteristics - that are necessary for attainting and maintaining mastery over Torah. In this series we will study each of these attributes in depth, using a broad range of sources, to understand how each of these "kinyanim" are vital to our success in Talmud Torah.
The unique characteristic of Am Yisrael, that of a nation that dwells alone, is not just a humble description, but symbolic of the larger role Am Yisrael has in the world and the history of mankind in general.
Foundational topics in Jewish philosophy. Join us as we unpack and analyse opinions right across the philosophical spectrum and explore their implications.
The pivitol moment in history when Avraham went to sacrifice Yitzchak, is an event filled with immense theological and ethical quanderies. This series explores and resolves many of these fascinating concepts.
Throughout one’s life every individual is faced with the fundamental questions of God’s providence, His existence and how He can allow evil to exist. This series will delve into medieval Jewish philosophy’s approach to these powerful questions.
Learn Pirkei Avot like never before! In this series, Rav Taragin enlightens us with the moral and ethical teachings of Chazal and how we can make them a part of our daily lives.
Learn more about the only Massekhta in Mishnayot that deals solely with ethical and moral principles. Rav David Gottlieb gives us insight into key Mishnayot throughout the Massekhta.
Redemption is a theme that piques everyone's curiosity and is a fundamental belief in the zietgest of many. Despite this, individuals commonly do not fully understand some of Judaism's core ideas within the subject.
The instinctive notion of Shemita is as a year of difficulty and prohibitions; however, Shemita encapsulates far more. It is a year that exemplifies the deep spiritiual ambitions of the Jewish people.
The study of Torah is not like any other academic pursuit. Torah study is a glimpse into the divine, a life-long pursuit and fundamental pillar for every Jew's life.
When examining the intricacies of Jewish theology, many difficult and confronting questions arise. This series addresses those quandaries, such as the problem of good and evil, as well the how and why of man's existence?
(5782-5783) (Wednesday) Behind our routines of daily prayer lies a hidden world of interiority, which touches upon both the heights of faith and the depths of the soul. This past year, the series explored the insights of great medieval and early modern thinkers, from R. Saadia Gaon to R. Moshe Chayyim Luzzato, and next year the series will continue with Chassidic and contemporary thinkers. We will continue with this series shortly after the chagim. New subscribers are welcome to join!
(5783) (Monday) With our return to the land of Israel we have experienced seismic historical shifts and have entered a new period of history. This has awakened hopes for redemption and has altered our sense of peoplehood. How can we navigate this uncharted territory and how do past sources provide signposts for this journey?
(5784) (Sunday) What was the purpose of creation? On the one hand, this is a complex question: is it even possible for a person to answer it? On the other, it may be the most fundamental in understanding this world and all mankind. Its answer may have far-reaching consequences for the way one should live one's life. This issue of the purpose of creation is at the core of many books of Jewish philosophy. In this series, we will explore the answers given over the centuries - from the Geonim to the thinkers of our time - and strive to see how from each answer a suitable perception of man, of the world, of the Torah and of God's work, is formed.
In this series, which was given in memory of Moreinu haRav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l during the year of his passing, Rav Etshalom explores the various literary, historic and intertextual tropes which shape this most powerful Biblical expression of loss and tragedy. These monumental five chapters give expression to the overpowering sense of impotence and isolation in the aftermath of the events of the beginning of the 6th century BCE as well as eventually - perhaps a generation or two later - opening up a path to prayer and ultimately, return.
Massekhet Rosh Hashana
Massekhet Moed Katan
The Philosophy of Halakha
Between Pesach and 9BeAv. Our Best Strategies for Bi'at Ha-Go'el. We will progress from the heights of Pesach to the seeds of hurban, to the road to restoration, finding ways halakha guides us towards the key pieces of a life well lived. By spotting where our predecessors went wrong--from the start, in the middle, and to the end--we can hope to learn from their missteps, and stride more successfully to the redemption and rebuilding we all want.
Issues in Education
Prior to the Etzion Foundation's annual dinner in 2019, faculty, alumni, and alumnae in communal leadership positions participated in 7 panels that addressed the contemporary challenges impacting the Jewish community in Israel and the Diaspora today. One panel, on “The Future of Jewish communities in the Diaspora,” was moderated by Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph ’88, Senior Vice President at Yeshiva University, and featured Moishe Bane ’77, President of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Dr. Leonard Matanky, Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S of West Rogers Park, Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy and past President of the Rabbinical Council of America, and Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ’76, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Another panel, entitled, “The Devar Hashem in the Digital Age” was moderated by Rabbi Zvi Engel ’92, Rabbi of Congregation Or Torah in Skokie, IL, and featured Rabbi Menachem Penner ’88, Dean of RIETS and of the Men’s Undergraduate Torah Studies Program at YU, and Rabbi Dr. Michael Rosensweig ’73, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, and Rav Moshe Taragin. The final session was a discussion of “The Worldwide Dati Leumi Community and the Har Etzion Institutions: Past, Present and Future” with Rosh Yeshiva Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva Rav Baruch Gigi, and Rabbanit Esti Rosenberg, Rosh Beit Midrash of Migdal Oz. It was introduced by Rabbi Dr. Seth Grauer ’96, Rosh Yeshiva and Head of School at Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto, and was moderated by Rabbi Gidon Rothstein ’82.
(Sun, Tues, Thur, Summer) Join the rashei yeshiva and staff of Yeshivot Har Etzion as they examine the special prayers and Torah readings of Rosh Hashana in an attempt to reveal the inner meaning of the day. This compilation will be mailed Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning after Shabbat Nachamu, and concluding by Rosh Hashana.
(Thur, Summer) Is the shofar a cry of the heart, a form of wordless prayer, or a reminder of pivotal events in Jewish history? Explore these concepts and more in this series by Harav Amital zt"l and other distinguished rabbis. This shiur will be mailed on Thursdays, beginning during the Three Weeks and concluding by Rosh Hashana.
Studies in Repentance
The series deals with the elements of the thirteen dimensions of mercy, and provides a deep understanding of each and every attribute.
Forgivness and repentance are fundamental facets of Judaism. This series explores how God relates to these concepts and highlights His deeper characteristics.
Orot HaTeshuva brings a vision of teshuva of sweeping proportions - all of reality takes part in a cosmological movement towards God. Rav Taragin helps us understand the breadth of Rav Kook's vision while also bringing it to a human level, helping us apply its ideas to our lives.
The Three Weeks
The seven Shabbatot between Tish'a b'Av and Rosh Hashana are marked by a universally practiced custom of reading consolation passages from the latter half of the book of Yeshaya. Why were these passages selected and why in the order in which they are read? Who is the prophetic voice behind these messages and what was his goal? We explore these questions in this 7-part series, as we study the text of each of these haftarot of nechama.
Studies in the Yearly Cycle
The Garden of Eden as the Inner Source of the Jewish Holidays. Drawing on sources in both nigleh and nistar, this course reveals how the story of the Garden of Eden constitutes the hidden code of Torah and life. We will see how each Jewish holiday develops a certain aspect of the Garden of Eden and advances us towards a perfected and repaired world.
In this series, Rav Tabory delves into the holy days of the year - with specific questions concerning certain holidays, and others more general in nature. How one should understand the concepts of honor and pleasure on Shabbat and chag, and how holy is the Chanuka candle really, are just two questions among many that we will discuss.
(Tuesday, Thursday, Summer) (Please note: this series began in the summer, and is being mailed twice a week, beginning July 1, through the chagim.) The hidden messages in the book of Daniel carry a fresh and relevant spiritual message. Unfortunately, however, this sefer remains sealed to the general public due to its Aramaic language and secretive style. Harav Yaakov Madan will lay it out for you in clear and fluent language, as well as from a unique perspective, emphasizing its historical dimension. The learning is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Daniel Mandel, HY”D.