Drisha Summer Kollel

Afternoon Classes, Summer 2020

All classes scheduled for Mon.-Thurs., 1:30-3:30 EDT

Session I (June 29 – July 9)

Talmud and Moral Philosophy 
Teacher, Sarah Zager

The rabbis of the Talmud confront many problems that also bother moral philosophers: What do we owe other people? What do we owe ourselves? How should we relate to just and unjust governments? How should we distribute our resources? In this class, we’ll experiment with reading moral philosophy alongside rabbinic texts. In the first week of the course, we’ll compare the way both philosophers and the rabbis confront key ethical questions. In the second week,  we’ll explore how using philosophical ideas, terminology, and techniques can help us read the Talmud in new and interesting ways.

Reading the Bible:Text, Context and Intertext
Teacher, Rabbi David Silber

We will study the Torah’s presentation of the story of Avraham as a demonstration of a literary approach to Tanakh.  The course will also include a section examining the way in which halakhic texts use the narrative to fashion their understanding of a halakhic concern

Session II (July 13 – 23)

Aggadah le-maaseh?  The Relationship(s) between Halachah and Aggadah in the Talmud
Teacher, Miriam Gedwiser

The Talmud is not just a “legal” code, but includes a host of non-legal material such as advice, narratives, and biblical exegesis alongside or interspersed with its legal content.  Through a select set of case studies, we will examine the relationship of Aggadah and Halachah, with an eye to questions like:  When does the aggadic context or content of a sugya change our perspective on its halachot?  Can aggadah ever generate binding legal norms?  How do we even tell whether something is “halachah” or “aggadah” and are those categories stable over time?

Words and Deeds: Philosophy of Language and Action in Talmudic Discourse
Teacher, Sam Lebens

Anglo-American philosophy, over the last century, has been intensely focused on the nature of language. Almost every classical philosophical problem has been repackaged by one prominent philosopher or another so as to reveal that a proper understanding of language would somehow unravel the problem. Another key focus of contemporary philosophy has been the philosophy of action. What is it that makes some bodily movements “an action” and other movements a twitch or a reflex? In the course of pursuing these philosophical projects, many new notions, terms, and concepts have been constructed to help us understand the nature and structure of language, and the distinguishing features of actions. In this course, we’ll be learning some of those notions, terms, and concepts as tools for learning Talmud.


Submit an online application for either full-time or part-time registration.


Afternoon only, 2 week sessions. $125 per session

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