Charedi Zionism and Reinventing the Oral Law

The Life and Works of Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner

LSJS Feb - Apr 2017


From LSJS Website

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner (1854-1924) came from rabbinic aristocracy and was rabbi of Klausenberg in Romania. Remarkably, he was also a friend of Rav Kook, a fierce champion of independent Torah creativity and a charedi Zionist who saw in the return to the Land an opportunity to reinvent the Oral Law.

In this course we will study his influential essay on the future of Jewish Law, Dor Revi’i, as well as evaluating his views on rabbinic authority and his influence on thinkers such as Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits and Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo.

 Session 1: Rabbi Glasner: Charedi Zionist, Rabbinic Critic



From Proof to Passion

Changing Interpretations of the Akeidah

LSJS Nov - Dec 2016


From LSJS Website

This course will explore one of the most well-known and widely interpreted biblical episodes – the Binding (Akedah) of Isaac. Using classical Jewish sources, revisionist Hasidic ideas, Islamic and Christian texts, song lyrics and more, we will build a broader picture of this beloved but deeply troubling story.


Session 1: The Akeidah Story as Read by the Sages
Session 2: A Mediaeval Shift - It's all About Potential
Session 3: Later Interpreters and Early Chassidic Approaches Session 4: Kierkegaard and 19th-Century Chassidic Revisionism
Session 5: The Akeidahs of Yishmael, Music, Art and Drama Session 6: Was Avraham Right? Rav Kook and the 20th Century

The Patchwork Bible

Responding to Bible Criticism in an Age of Reason

October - December 2015

From the LSJS Website

In this course, Rabbi Belovski will explore some of the thorniest challenges to traditional Judaism of the past 200 years since the rise of Biblical Criticism. Issues considered will include: Divine authorship of the Torah. The Documentary Hypothesis (Higher Bible Criticism) as well as Lower Bible Criticism and Textual Integrity. This course will involve the study of Maimonides, Ibn Ezra and other commentators to understand responses to these challenges.

Session 1: Introduction

Session 2: Alternative Approaches to the Rambam Session 3: Selected Bases for the Documentary Hypothesis
Session 4: Responses from Classical Sources
Session 5: Responses from Later Sources (1): Cassuto and Hertz
Session 6: Responses from Later Sources (2): Breuer and Bazak
Session 7: Responses from Later Sources (3): Weiss Halivni, Berman, Sarna and Katz

What Should a Jew Believe?

The Challenge and Reality of Faith in the 21st Century

Jan - Mar 2015

From the LSJS website: 

What does it mean to believe in God and what happens when someone has ‘doubts’?

How central is faith to Jewish practice?

Learn how Jewish law, thought and tradition approaches this issue.


Session 1: Introducing the Jewish God

Session 2: Believe vs. Practice

Session 3: I am God: The First Commandment

Session 4: Does Belief Change as we Grow Older? Session 5: Heresy in Judaism
Session 6: How have Psychology and Modern Science Affected Belief? Session 7: Talking to God

The Book of BaMidbar

In Pursuit of Perfection

May - July 2014

From the LSJS website:

Spies, Korach, Zimri – this book is full of rebellion. Or maybe it’s the story of a community on the cusp of perfection but haunted by self perception clashing with reality. We will explore themes of leadership and the dangers of self-denial through the lens of the chassidic School of Przysucha – the Rebbes of Ishbitz, Kotzk, Lublin and Sochaczew.

Session 1: Torah in the Desert: On the Cusp of Perfection?

Session 2: Manna: Food of the Gods?

Session 3: Spies: Desire for the Desert

Session 4: Tzelophchad: Sinning for the Sake of Heaven
Session 5: Korach:  A Man Before his Time?
Session 6: Striking the Rock and Predestiny
Session 7: Zimri and the Lure of the Desert


Pleasure and Aesthetics the Jewish Way

Are Beauty and Pleasure Jewish Ideas or Evils?

Jan - Mar 2014

From the LSJS website:

It’s often said that Judaism is interested in action rather than form, but is that really true? What do Jewish sources really have to say about beauty, visual and physical pleasure and the wonders of art? In this innovative course, Rabbi Belovski will explore classic texts and contemporary Jewish writings on aesthetics and form. As well as major themes, we will look specifically at Jewish approaches to art, music, poetry, language, food, aroma, and, of course, the pleasures of wine and sex.

Session 1: Pleasure and Aesthetics in Traditional Jewish Sources
Session 2: Art
Session 3: Music
I am frustrated to report that the recording failed.  I hope to have a chance to repeat the class soon.

Session 4: Literature and Poetry
Session 5: Taste and Smell
Session 6: Wine Session 7: Sex

Praying the Festivals

A Dynamic Study of Yom Tov Tefillot

LSJS Apr-Jun 2013

From the LSJS website:

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO GOD ON THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND WHY?

This course looks at central prayers that we say on Jewish festivals: Who wrote them? Why were they included in the Machzor? Do we appreciate and embrace the ideas they contain? Have their meanings changed over time? Are they still relevant?

Topics include:

The structure of the Amidah for Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot

Prayers and home rituals unique to these festivals

The complex structure of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services

The nature of key prayers during these days

This course will enable you to get more out of your Machzor and develop your appreciation of each of the festivals.

And with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur coming so early in the calendar this year, this course will also prepare you for these High Holy Days.

For the course on Shabbat prayer click here

Session 1: Shalosh Regalim 1: Kiddush and Amidah

Session 2: Shalosh Regalim 2: Hallel and Musaf Session 3: Yamim Norayim 1: Introduction and Changes to Regular Liturgy
Session 4: Yamim Norayim 2: Rosh HaShanah Amidah and Musaf (1)
Session 5: Yamim Norayim 3: Rosh HaShanah Musaf (2) & (3) & UNetaney Tokef
Session 6: Yamim Norayim 4: Yom Kippur Kol Nidrey and Viduy
Session 7: Yamim Norayim 5: Yom Kippur Amidah, Musaf and Ne'ilah