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Jewish Learning Institue

Jewish Learning Institue

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Great Debates in Jewish History:

Course Overview

Debate and disputation are not only encouraged within Judaism but reside at the very heart of Jewish history and theology. The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) presents Great Debates in Jewish History, a six-session course exploring six fundamental conflicts that pit the greatest Jewish minds against each other--six instances of vastly divergent perspectives from throughout our history, including several that remain questions for us today.

Discover a stirring and surprising account of Judaism’s intellectual history, from the ancient to the modern-day; as you relive epochs rich in narrative that provide fascinating context for six of the most monumental intellectual and theological debates in our history.

The parade of characters presented in this course spans two millennia of biblical, rabbinic, and modern disputation, reflecting the panorama of Jewish history with its monumental political, ethical, and spiritual challenges.

 

Join us for Six Tuesdays
Starting October 31st 
7:30-9:00 p.m.

Location:
Chabad Center
5140 Leesburg Pike
Alexandria, VA 22302

Fee:
$89 (textbook included)
$10 off before 10/24/17 
5% Couples discount!

For more information:
Call: 703-820-2770
Email: JLI@chabadAA.org

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Course Outline


Lesson One
Dead Sea Scrolls - Dead Sea Sect vs Rabbinic Interpretation

Unlock the secret of the Dead Sea Scrolls by contrasting their writings with Talmudic texts, and unearth a fundamental debate about rabbinic authority and interpretation. What led the Dead Sea Sect to break away from the Temple and the Jewish establishment? What were their theological views? And why were they so opposed to the Pharisaic approach?


Lesson Two
Suicide at Masada - Militant Nationalism vs Religious Institutionalism

 Glimpse into the minds of those who took their lives at Masada in 73 CE. Discover a view of Judaism that believes it cannot survive without autonomy in Israel and prefers to die rather than live under a foreign nation’s rule. What role does nationalism play in Judaism? What is the Jewish perspective on taking up arms when defeat is inevitable?

Lesson Three
The Maimonidean Controversy - Faith vs Reason

In the 13th century, Maimonides’s major philosophical work, the Guide for the Perplexed, was banned and even burned. Condemnation of his writings divided the Jewish world: Is rationalism an acceptable approach to Divine worship? What role does reason play in Judaism? And how do we resolve the conflict between faith and reason?

Lesson Four
Renewal of The Sanhedrin - Active Messianism vs Passive Messianism

In the wake of Spanish expulsion came a proposal to reinstate the Sanhedrin, in an effort to herald the messianic era. The idea catapulted the Jewish world into a frenzy: some with jubilation, others with uproar and outrage. Can we force the Divine hand to hasten the redemption? Should we? And what about recent attempts at renewing the Sanhedrin?

Lesson Five
Chasidism - Divine Transcendence vs Divine Immanence

In the 1700s, the Ba’al Shem Tov introduced a focus on joy, prayer, and the simple Jew’s relationship with G‑d. But this endeavor was met with resistance. What motivated Chasidism’s opponents? What issues lay at the heart of the debate? And what historic tensions set the stage for this upheaval that divided families and communities?

Lesson Six
Separation of Church and State - Religion in Public vs Religion as a Private Affair

A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, permitting public menorah displays, deeply divided the Jewish world. Is religion designed to be a personal and private affair, or one to be paraded in the public domain? What presents a greater challenge to Judaism: the supremacy of a conflicting religion, or the predominance of irreligiosity? Where does Judaism stand on the separation of church and state?

 

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