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June 14 – 16, 2016

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June Executive Seminar

Tuesday, June 14 – Thursday, June 16, 2016. 9:30 am – 5 pm

Tablets and Broken Tablets: Studies of Rupture, Reconciliation, and Redemption
Join us for a 3-day seminar as we examine biblical, rabbinic,  kabbalistic, and chassidic sources that reflect on states of connectedness and disconnectedness.

Cost: $500.  Space is limited. Click here to register.

David Silber on The Golden Calf and the Broken Covenant; Moses and the Power of Prayer; and, The Divine Attributes of Mercy
We will examine the themes of rupture, reconciliation, and redemption as they are reflected in these biblical stories and texts.

Devora Steinmetz on “Like Torah Scrolls That Have Been Rolled Up”: The Story of the Death of Rabbi Eliezer
The Talmud offers a tragic and troubling story about a deathbed visit to Rabbi Eliezer and a final conversation between the master and his disciples. We will consider themes of rupture and reconciliation in the relationship between Rabbi Eliezer and his disciples and in modes of transmission of Torah from generation to generation.

Nathaniel Berman on The Breaking of the Tablets as a Cosmic Catastrophe:  Kabbalistic and Sabbatean Interpretations
A number of kabbalists viewed the breaking of the Tablets by Moses as a re-enactment of the primal catastrophe of creation: the “breaking of the Vessels” by God at the inception of the cosmos, leading to a fallen world and the necessity for milennia of “tikkun.” In the 17th century messianic movement, Sabbateanism, the breaking of the Tablets/Vessels caused the perversion of the Torah itself, transmuting it from a Torah of freedom to a Torah of restriction. In studying these perspectives, we will also consider the ramifications on the individual level, expressed in the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.

Sam Lebens on Redeeming the Past
The belief in the Messiah addresses our hopes for a better future, but would it be paradoxical to hope for a better past? In this class, we’ll explore some biblical, midrashic and chassidic texts that seem to imply that, one day, the past will be better than it used to be!

Wendy Amsellem on Redemption and Pain
Can pain be positive? Why would the suffering of the righteous protect a community? We will study a story that appears in both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds about the persistent tooth ache of Rabbi Yehuda haNasi and the surprising benefits that it provides to the people of Israel.

Jon Kelsen on The Blessed Peace-Maker: How Aaron Would Make Peace
In the midrashic tradition, Aaron the High Priest is fashioned as the quintessential peace maker, helping disputing parties forgive and reconcile with one another. How did he do this, and how might we? We will meditate on Aaron’s example and learn how to pursue peace in our own lives.

Stuart Halpern on Lamenting the Disrepair of Jerusalem: Eicha and Its Historical Context
The lamenting in Eicha over the destroyed Jerusalem contains striking and heartrending images. How unique were these images in Eicha‘s historical context and how do they relate to the book’s eternal message?

Cost: $500.  Space is limited. Click here to register.

Faculty Bios:

Wendy Amsellem is the Director of Drisha’s July College Kollel for women and a full time faculty member. She is the former Director of the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program and a graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle and high school programs. She is pursuing a PhD in Judaic Studies at New York University and has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.

Nathaniel Berman is the Rahel Varnhagen Professor of International Affairs, Law, and Modern Culture at Brown University’s Cogut Center for the Humanities.  He co-directs Brown’s Religion and Internationalism Project.  Nathaniel also recently completed his PhD in Jewish Studies at University College London.  His dissertation, focusing on the problem of evil in classical kabbalah, was entitled: “Improper Twins”: The Ambivalent “Other Side” in the Zohar and Kabbalistic Tradition.  He has taught widely in the New York area on kabbalah and Hasidut.

Stu Halpern serves on the staff of Drisha. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Psychology in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, an MA in Bible from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University and an EdD from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration of Yeshiva University. He is the editor or co-editor of 10 books, and has lectured at the Drisha Institute and in the New York/New Jersey area.

Jon Kelsen is the Rosh Kollel and Director of the June Kollel and teaches Talmud and rabbinics at Drisha. A graduate of the Pardes Kollel, he received ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes and holds an MA in Jewish Civilization from Hebrew University.

Sam Lebens teaches in Drisha’s June Kollel. He is a post-doctoral research fellow in the philosophy department at Rutgers University and holds a PhD in metaphysics from the University of London. He studied at Yeshivat Hakotel, Yeshivat Hamivtar, and Yeshivat Har Etzion and received rabbinic ordination from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.

David Silber is the Founder and Dean of Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. He received ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He received the Covenant Award in 2000. He is the author of A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn (JPS, 2011) and is currently working on a book about Megillat Esther.

Devora Steinmetz serves on the leadership team for special programs at Drisha in the United States and Israel. She has taught Talmud and Rabbinics at Drisha, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshivat Hadar, and Havruta: a Beit Midrash at Hebrew University. Dr. Steinmetz is the founder of Beit Rabban, a day school profiled in Daniel Pekarsky’s Vision at Work: The Theory and Practice of Beit Rabban. She is the author of From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continuity in Genesis and Punishment and Freedom: The Rabbinic Construction of Criminal Law. Dr. Steinmetz consults for the Mandel Foundation and works at Gould Farm, a therapeutic community for individuals struggling with mental illness.