What are the core beliefs of the Jewish people that might, on occasion, even supersede the value of life itself? How do these issues compare to the many other commandments which may be pushed aside to save a life? What are the general guidelines which have guided us on this topic throughout our lengthy and difficult history? Is it permitted to save a life by killing another? These are just some of the Halachic and philosophical issues which we cover in this Masechet.
We will study topics in the 8th פרק (Chapter) of מסכת סנהדרין in great depth (עיון). The common theme underlying these topics is that they represent life and death dilemmas in halacha. Analyzing these topics will offer us insight into the Torah’s perspective on how to weigh the value of human life when it clashes with other Torah values. We will also learn other parts of Masechet Sanhedrin at a faster pace [בקיאות] to be exposed to many different topics and pages of גמרא within our מסכת. The additional periods offered by the Beit Midrash Program affords us the opportunity to create an environment which is challenging and serious yet relaxed and enjoyable. The goal is that this environment will enable serious Torah learning and spiritual growth while also promoting the development of genuine friendships amongst the group.
This course will explore controversial topics and debates within the Gemara that are not typically covered in yeshiva high school. Topics include: the existence of demons and supernatural beings, the relationship between Judaism and Zionism, and the relationship between Jews and non-Jews. By the end of the course, students will have gained a deeper appreciation of the scope of the Talmud and better appreciate how complex Talmudic debates continue to inform Jewish thought and practice today.
This course will examine the halakhic status of women and their obligations in Jewish law, specifically focusing on their roles in tefillah, shabbat and holidays, and voluntary mitzvot. Students will explore concepts of personality, relationships, and modesty, and learn about Jewish marriage, niddah, and mikvah. Additionally, the course will delve into the challenges that young women face on college campuses and beyond. Throughout the course, students will analyze primary texts from the Talmud and other halakhic sources, as well as contemporary Jewish writings on women and Jewish law. They will develop critical thinking skills as they discuss and debate different interpretations and applications of Jewish law to women's lives. Students will have the opportunity to participate in interactive discussions and experiential learning, including a visit to local mikvah and opportunity to hear from women of varied life experiences.
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