Intention and the Mitzvot of Tishrei
Dr. Shana Strauch Schick / September 7, 2020
If, after a long day in shul on Rosh Hashana, my mind is wandering during shofar blowing, do I have to hear it again? Can the pergola in my backyard be my sukkah? In this three part lecture series, we will explore how intenton factors into the mitzvot central to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
In the first class, we will explore the talmudic debate as to whether one must have kavannah when sounding and hearing the shofar, and how this relates to the broader question of Mizvot Zerikhot Kavannah (do rituals need to be performed with intention) and how the rishonim and aharonim weighed in on this debate and decide the halakhah.
In the next class, we turn to Sukkot and the debate regarding whether the construction of the sukkah itself must be done for the purpose of the mitzvah.We will see how the underpinnings of this talmudic discussion are reflected in discussions of brit milah as well.
In the third class, we will probe different aspects of intentionality: whether sinful thoughts are treated with the same weight as sinful deeds, and what defines a sin as intentional or unintentional. We will see marked differences in how various sages approached these questions.
Dr. Shana Strauch Schick
Shana Strauch Schick is a fellow of the Center for Israel Studies at Yeshiva University and teaches Talmud and Halakha in Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalim and Matan in Israel and in the Drisha Summer Kollel. In 2011, she became the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Talmudic Literature from Bernard Revel Graduate School at Yeshiva University where she also completed an MA in Bible. She studied in the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmud at Stern College and has held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Bar Ilan and Haifa University. Her upcoming book Between Thought and Deed: Intention in Talmudic Jurisprudence examines the role of intentionality in the development of Talmudic law and is being published by Brill.