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Parashat Acharei Mot – Rabbi Shai Held

 

Yom Kippur:
Purifying the Tabernacle and Ourselves

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Aharei Mot is available for download in text and audio format here.

Ask a Jew about the meaning of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), and you are likely to hear that it is a day of repentance and forgiveness, a day when sins between us and God are atoned for. But it is not that simple: some interpreters suggest that we have to repent for what we have done to others before we can come before God at all. We cannot sidestep the people we have hurt on our path to God; on the contrary, God insistently directs us towards those very people.

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Metzora – Rabbi Shai Held

 

Life-Giving, Death-Dealing Words

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Metzora is available for download in text and audio format here.

Words may create worlds, as R. Abraham Joshua Heschel insisted, but they can just as surely destroy them. Words can be deadly weapons and the source of uncountable blessings. But careless, evil speech does not just affect others, it also reflects on ourselves. Reading parashat Metzora each year, tradition bids us remember that each time we speak we create the worlds we are destined to inhabit—whether for good or for bad.

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Tazria – Rabbi Shai Held

 

Living on the Boundary:
The Complexity and Anxiety of Childbirth

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Tazria is available for download in text and audio format here.

Interpreters have long been perplexed by this strange set of laws at the beginning of this week's parashah. Why is a woman who gives birth considered impure? And why must she bring a hattat, or sin offering—has she done something wrong for which she must atone? Even more confusingly: why does her impurity last longer when she gives birth to a girl than when she gives birth to a boy?

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

What is a Jew?

Rabbi Ethan Tucker on ELI Talks

Shamor and Zachor in Stereo (LimmudNY)

Making Sense of Shabbat

Watch the video of Rabbi Ethan Tucker teaching at LimmudNY 2014, as recorded by Shalom TV.

Parashat Shemini – Rabbi Shai Held

 

Is Vegetarianism a Biblical Ideal?

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Shemini is available for download in text and audio format here.

What are human beings meant to eat? How does Tanakh envision an ideal human diet, and what implications—if any—should that biblical ideal have for the present? Is vegetarianism consistent with the spirit of the laws of Kashrut, as they appear in parashat Shemini? And, if vegetarianism is a messianic ideal also, should at least some Jews be vegetarian now?

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Tzav – Rabbi Shai Held

 

No Leftovers:
The Meaning of the Thanksgiving Offering

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Tzav is available for download in text and audio format here.

The sacrificial offering associated with giving thanks to God (korban todah) differs in crucial ways from other sacrifices mentioned in the book of Leviticus: all of it must be eaten on the day and all the remainder must be burnt. What is the reason for this? And what can we learn about the nature of gratitude from this obscure detail?

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Vayikra – Rabbi Shai Held

 

Order Amidst Chaos:
Connecting to Leviticus

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayikra is available for download in text and audio format here.

Around this time each year, the eyes of many shul-going Jews begin to glaze over. The book of Leviticus seems so utterly foreign, the rituals and practices it describes so alien, the religious vision underlying them so obscure, that connecting to it seems impossible. And yet if we dig a little deeper, we find a great deal about Leviticus that can speak powerfully to modern sensibilities and yearnings.

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Pekudei – Rabbi Shai Held

  

Building a Home for God

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Pekudei is available for download in text and audio format here.

There seems to be a deep connection between God’s creation of the world on the one hand, and the Israelites’ construction of the mishkan (tabernacle) on the other. But just what is that connection, and what is it intended to suggest? In a world overrun by chaos, a far cry from the order of God's creation, the mishkan is intended to serve as one place in which everything unfolds according to the divine plan.

 

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Vayakhel – Rabbi Shai Held

  

Whom Do We Serve?

The Exodus Toward Dignified Work

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayakhel is available for download in text and audio format here.

At the beginning of the book of Exodus, God's people are enslaved to a false god; by the book's end, they have been liberated to serve the real One. While Pharaoh oppressed the Israelites with forced labor, God demanded dignified work and voluntary contributions to make the mishkan (tabernacle). While Pharaoh denied the possibility of rest, God mandates the Shabbat. Rav Shai explores what freedom truly means according to Exodus.

 

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Ki Tissa – Rabbi Shai Held

 

The Importance of Character
Or: Why Stubbornness is Worse than Idolatry

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Ki Tissa is available for download in text and audio format here.

God's response to the sin of the golden calf in this week's parashah is perplexing. God is so angry with the Israelites' unfaithfulness that God wants to wipe them out. And yet, the Israelites commit the crime of idolatry, and God wants to punish them... for their stubbornness!? With the help of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel (the Alter of Slabodka), Rav Shai gets to the depth of what this could mean: that Judaism, at its core, cares not just about actions but also about character.

 

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Tetzaveh – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Tetzaveh is available for download in text and audio format here.

The hunger to be close to God can be one of the most powerful human desires, but it can also be among the most dangerous. The Torah is concerned with making God present but at the same time not harboring the illusion that God can be tamed by human beings. Rav Shai argues that the construction of the mishkan (tabernacle) in this week's parashah is the Torah's solution to this problem.

 

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Terumah - Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Terumah is available for download in text and audio format here.

Discussing the kabbalistic notion of tzimtzum (God's self-contraction so that the world can exist), and its rabbinic antecedent (God descending into the mishkan, based in this week's parashah), Rav Shai goes into the depths of what it means to be in relationship with another, whether human or divine.

 

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Gender and Tefillin: Possibilites and Consequences

Rabbi Ethan Tucker in Times of Israel

 

With all the controversy regarding two Modern Orthodox day schools (SAR and Ramaz) who have allowed the practice of some female students to wear tefillin, Rabbi Ethan Tucker has joined the discussion with his own thoughts on the topic. He gives an overview of four different approaches one could take to the practice of tefillin and their various strengths and weaknesses, and addresses the fundamental questions at stake.

It appeared in the Times of Israel on January 26th 2014, as well as on Rav Eitan's Halakhah Think Tank; it is also available to download in PDF format from the Center for Jewish Law and Values at Mechon Hadar.

Parashat Mishpatim - Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Mishpatim is available for download in text and audio format here.

One of the Torah's central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility. Appealing to our experience of defenselessness in Egypt, the Torah seeks to transform us into people who see those who are vulnerable and exposed rather than looking past them.

 
 
 
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Parashat Yitro – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Yitro is available for download in text and audio format here.

Why are sections in this week's parashah out of order? Why did the parashah specifically begin with the story of Yitro even though, chronologically, it comes after the next section? The Torah is preemptively answer two deep questions: is there wisdom outside of the Torah? and does everyone hate the Jews?

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parashat Beshallach – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Beshallach is available for download in text and audio format here.

You can't leave Egypt - not really - until you discover that you can take responsibility for your life and affect your own fate. The Israelites, slaves for so long, trained to be passive in their interactions with the world, need to learn in this week's parashah to be active and take their fate into their own hands.

 
 
 
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Parashat Bo – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Bo is available for download in text and audio format here.

The first parashiot of Sefer Shemot set up two sides to a cosmic conflict: Pharaoh, the side of chaos and death; and God, the side of order and life. Rav Shai will read the plague narrative through this lens and see if there is a deeper meaning to these signs and portents than merely revenge.

 
 
 
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Parashat Va'era – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Va'era is available for download in text and audio format here.

Two of Judaism's most basic texts are marked by the same oddity: they tell a story whose ending has been lopped off. Why does the Torah and the Haggadah used at Pesach miss out the last part of the story, the coming into the land of Canaan?

 
 
 
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New York Symposium with the Avi Schaefer Fund

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schedule of Events

 
9:30-10:00: Registration

10:00-10:15: Welcome 

10:15-11:00: Keynote: Rabbi Shai Held
Power, Sovereignty, Military Force: Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish Ambivalence about Power Then and Now 

11:10-12:30: Study Sessions
1) Politics and Morality: Vladimir Jabotinsky vs. Martin Buber (Professor Allan Arkush)
Jabotinsky and Buber both provided moral justifications for their vastly different recommendations with regard to Zionist policy toward the Arabs. Where did their principles diverge, and who made the more convincing argument?

Read the source sheet (pdf)


2) Martyrdom and Mission: German Jewish Rejections of Zionism (Professor Leora Batnitzky)
Despite their different philosophical, theological, and political commitments, Hermann Cohen and Franz Rosenzweig both recoiled at the Zionist quest for Jewish power, arguing that Judaism's and the Jewish people's mission to the nations required an acceptance (though not a valorization) of the inevitability of Jewish suffering and potential martyrdom at the hands of the nations of the world. This session will explore the context and content of Cohen and Rosenzweig's arguments, their respective appropriations of Maimonides and Yehudah Halevi in making their claims, as well as what it means to consider early twentieth century German Jewish arguments after the Holocaust.

Read the source sheet (pdf)


3) Jews Who Wield Secular Power: The Case of Kerovei Malkhut (Rabbi Ethan Tucker)
Throughout the ages, Jews wielding power in the larger society have faced a conflict: On the one hand, as Jews, they are bound to practices and communities that are highly specific. On the other hand, their ability to engage the broader society often demands "fitting in." What happens when Jews need to be able to blend in, particularly in order to access the benefits of power?  We will explore the fascinating halakhic category of kerovei malkhut—Jews in proximity to political power—and the traditionally sanctioned leniencies for such individuals. We will also consider how these concepts transfer to Jewish power in a sovereign Jewish state as well as in the context of a democracy, where power is more widely distributed across the population.

Read the source sheet (pdf)


4) The Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Attitude Toward Secular Jewish Sovereignty (Professor David Biale)
The workshop will examine why Haredi (or Ultra-Orthodox) thinkers oppose the idea of a secular Jewish state. The primary thinker we will discuss is Joel Teitelbaum, the first rebbe of the Hungarian Satmar dynasty but we will also consider a number of Haredi leaders from early in the twentieth century who laid the foundation for this form of Judaism.

5) Separation of Shul and State: Medieval Idea, Modern Possibilities (Rabbi Jason Rubenstein)
In this session, we'll trace a distinctive and under-appreciated aspect of Jewish political thought: the idea that Jewish law demands that a Jewish government act based on secular, rather than religious, concerns. This formulation—due originally to R. Nissim of Gerondi in the 14th 
century—is taken up in a fascinating 1938 exchange between major Zionist and anti-Zionist religious figures. We will take up the biblical and rabbinic sources, and their reception at the hands of later rabbinic thinkers, with an eye towards developing new insights on questions of religion and government and religion in Israel—and America—today.

Read the source sheet (pdf)


6) Power Between Reality and Self-Perception: Thinking Through The Power We Have But Think We Don't (Rabbi Jill Jaconbs)
 
7) Study Session TBD (Jane Eisner) 
 
12:30-1:15: Lunch

1:20-2:50: Panel: David Biale, Michael Walzer, Leora Batnitzky, and moderated by Shai Held 
Jews, Judaism, and Power-- Past and Present: What Can We Learn from History, Philosophy, and Theology?

2:50- 3:00: Closing 

 

Rabbi Shai Held at JTS

You can watch a recording of the event:

 

Parashat Shemot – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Shemot is available for download in text and audio format here.

What are the qualities of leadership according to the Torah? In the first parashah of Moses' story, we see some clear characteristics that mark Moses out as the future leader of the Israelites.

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Real Questions, Honest Answers: Kashrut Q&A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 13, 7:30-9pm

Can I kasher a dishwasher in the apartment I am renting?  What can I buy in Fairway without a hechsher?  How do I navigate my family's Thanksgiving dinner?  Our kashrut questions often seem small, but can reflect a complex array of life choices.

Bring your tough questions and R. Ethan Tucker will bring the depth of halakhic discourse in an evening of honest learning about one of the most central aspects of Jewish life.

Cost: $10 per person, $5 if you are a student

Location: 190 Amsterdam Ave. at 69th Street

 

 

Annual Dr. Eddie Scharfman Lecture – Rabbi Shai Held

Halakhah and Human Goodness: Three Maimonidean Explorations

A lecture with Rabbi Shai Held
January 14th, 7:30pm

In this session, we’ll explore some core questions in Jewish law, theology, and spirituality, taking the Rambam as our guide:

  1. Does Judaism care only about what we do, or also about who we are?  In other words, what is the place of virtue ethics in Judaism?
  2. Does Halakhah exhaust our obligations as Jews?  How does a commitment to worshiping a universal God of creation affect our understanding of ethics?  (Why) Does Halakhah sometimes seem to permit less-than-ideal ethical behavior?
  3. What is the ideal motivation when we engage in interpersonal mitzvot (bein adam lechavero)—should we care for people because we have to, or because we have taught ourselves to want to?

We will obviously not arrive at definitive answers for many of these questions, but with the Rambam’s help, we will have a wide-ranging discussion of crucial and enduring issues in Jewish ethics.

This lecture is sponsored by Rochelle Chaiken, David and Emily Menchel and Brian Scharfman, of the family of Dr. Eddie Scharfman, in order to commemorate his yahrzeit annually.

 
 

 

Can you fast a half day?

10 Tevet on a Friday

This year, the fast on the 10th Tevet falls on a Friday (13th December). This brings into conflict the fast (which finishes at sundown) and shabbat (which begins before sundown). How can we resolve this contradiction between the mourning of the fall of Jerusalem on the 10th Tever and rejoicing in our shabbat? Rabbi Ethan Tucker does a comprehensive overview of the main halakhic sources about this issue in this publication from the Center for Jewish Law and Values at Mechon Hadar.

Download the essay (pdf)

Parashat Vayechi – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayechi is available for download in text and audio format here.

Judaism generally urges us to be agents, to be active rather than passive, to take responsibility for our lives and for the world. But in this week's parashah, Joseph learns an even more valuable lesson: when to exercise restraint.

 
 
 
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Parashat Vayigash – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayigash is available for download in text and audio format here.

Ask a reasonably knowledgeable Jew, and they'll probably tell you that there are three cardinal sins in Judaism, three sins you should rather die than commit: idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder. But according to some of our most influential halakhic scholars, derived in part from this week's parashah, astonishingly it appears that there is a fourth: embarrassment.

 
 
 
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Parashat Miketz – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Miketz is available for download in text and audio format here.

It is a mandate as easy to express as it can be hard to fulfill: we are responsible for the fate of others. Judah learns this lesson the hard way in this week's parashah. Like Cain, he is not able to be his brother's keeper; but he is able to become his brother's brother.

 
 
 
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Lighting Up the Dark: Divrei Torah on Chanukah 5774

The Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar is proud to present a pack of Divrei Torah, written by Mechon Hadar faculty members, on Chanukah.

  1. Lighting Up the Dark: Chanukah as a Spiritual Practice by Rabbi Shai Held
  2. Why Do I Bless Your Candles? by Miriam-Simma Walfish
  3. Courage and Light by Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels
  4. To Look At, but Not to See by Dena Weiss

 
 

 

Parashat Vayeshev – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayeshev is available for download in text and audio format here.

Reuben seems to save Joseph's life in this week's parashah, persuading his murderous brothers to throw him into a pit instead of killing him. But was that enough? What can we learn from Reuben about acting wholeheartedly and joyously?

 
 
 
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Parashat Vayishlach – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayishlach is available for download in text and audio format here.

About to confront his brother Esau, Jacob, according to midrash, is not only scared that he will be killed but worried that he will end up killing his brother. What can we learn from his hesitancy to kill someone else, even in self-defense? And how does this apply to the state of Israel today?

 
 
 
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Parashat Vayetze – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayetze is available for download in text and audio format here.

Leah, the so often forgotten matriarch, not loved by her husband Jacob and constantly living in the shadow of her sister Rachel, learns a powerful lesson in this week's parashah. Even in the midst of all her sorrows and the longing for her life to be different, she learns how to be grateful for what she has.

 
 
 
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Parashat Toldot – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Toldot is available for download in text and audio format here.

This week's parashah reveals one startling way Isaac, so often thought to be the least distinct of the patriarchs, is in fact strongly dissimilar from his father Abraham and his son Jacob: he is a paragon of marital empathy.

 
 
 
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Can Jewish Ideas Change Your Life?

Can They Change the World?

A special evening with R. Sharon Brous, R. Shai Held and R. Ethan Tucker

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

The CJLI is already bringing out weekly Divrei Torah from R. Shai Held. Watch this space for more events and content from the CJLI.

A Conversation between Yossi Klein Halevi and Rabbi Shai Held

As Dreamers: The Legacy of the Six-Day War and the Future of the State of Israel

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013, 8pm

At Mechon Hadar, 190 Amsterdam Ave, NY 10023

 

 

 

 

 

 

Award-winning Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi's long awaited book, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, has just appeared, garnering rave reviews. He is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, a member of the Institute's iEngage Project, and a contributing editor to The New Republic.

Join Halevi and Mechon Hadar's Rabbi Shai Held for a spirited and wide-ranging conversation about the Six-Day War and its legacy, the past and future of the Jewish State, and the complex web of challenges Israel faces in the years ahead.The discusion will explore Israeli religion, culture, politics, and much more—this is an evening you will not want to miss.

Books will be available for purchase, and Mr. Halevi will be available to sign books at the end of the program.

 

 

Parashat Hayyei Sarah – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Hayyei Sarah is available for download in text and audio format here.

Where did Isaac go to after the Akedah? What was he doing? How can one deal with the trauma of an utterly mysterious God and a father that tried to kill him? Rav Shai has some insightful answers.

 
 
 
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Parashat Vayera – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Vayera is available for download in text and audio format here.

Abraham does something very puzzling in this parashah: in the middle of speaking to God, he turns away to greet three strangers. How can he do this? And what can we learn from him?

 
 
 
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Parashat Lekh Lekha – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Lekh Lekha is available for download in text and audio format here.

This week's parashah contains a fascinating inversion of the familiar dynamic between Egypt and Israel – that of being enslaved and oppressed – when Sarah, an Israelite woman, oppresses Hagar, her Egyptian slave. What can we learn from this dramatic role reversal?

 
 
 
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Community Beit Midrash Kick Off

Reading and Rereading the Akedah: Ethics, Submission and Serving God

An evening with Erin Leib Smokler, Rabbi Dov Linzer and Rabbi Ethan Tucker

October 15th, 2013.

The Binding of Isaac raises many core religious questions: Is true service to God achieved through submission? What is God trying to communicate in asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? What is achieved when God cancels that command?

Join us for an evening of spirited conversation as our three panelists engage in a live collaborative reading of Genesis chapter 22 that aims to probe the depths of this text while grappling with its ongoing relevance for contemporary religious life.

Download the audio recording (mp3)

Co-Sponsored by Mechon Hadar, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Yeshivat Maharat with support of the Wexner Foundation Graduate Alumni Grant.

Thanks to our supporting partners, The Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School, HUC-JIR NY and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.

Parashat Noah – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. Parashat Noah, is available for download in text and audio format here.

Why does God seemingly condemn humanity and save them for precisely the same reason? And what can that tell us about how we should deal with other people?

 
 
 
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Parashat Bereishit – Rabbi Shai Held

This year, Rabbi Shai Held as part of the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas at Mechon Hadar, will be producing a brand new dvar Torah every week on that week's parashah. The first, on parashat Bereishit, is available for download in text and audio format here.

 
 
 
You can also receive Rav Shai's divrei Torah direct to your inbox by signing up here.

 

Parshat Haazinu

Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech

Parshat Ki Tavo

Teshuvah and Transformation: An Evening of Learning at Mechon Hadar


Teshuvah and Transformation:
An Evening of Learning at Mechon Hadar
 
Monday, September 9, 2013. 7:30-9:00pm
$10 admission; $5 for students

Session I 7:30- 8:10 (2 options)

Teshuva Behind Bars, Avi Killip

The American prison system relies on retributive justice. Teshuva suggests a process of restorative justice. 

Together we will read Rambam's Hilchot Teshuva (Laws of Repentance) through the lens of prison ministry to discover how confronting the potential healing of those who have done real wrong can teach us about our own relationship to God.
 

Who By Fire?: The Most Controversial Prayer in Jewish Life, R' Elie Kaunfer

Are you troubled by reciting: “Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?” every year on High Holidays? Does God really mete out just reward and punishment each year? Together we will examine the Untane Tokef prayer, looking at its Biblical allusions, and discover its radically divergent internal theological approaches.
 

Session II: 8:15-9:00 (Lecture)

Why Don't People Ever Seem to Change? (and How We Can), R' Shai Held
 
Contemporary culture gives us a lot of mixed messages. On the one hand, we're told that free will is an illusion, and that we're conditioned by countless circumstances beyond our control. On the other hand, we're told that human beings are malleable, and that even our brains our "plastic." A mature spirituality recognizes, first, that it's extremely hard to change who we are, and second, that we're nevertheless obligated to work on doing just that. With the help of Rabbinic, Hasidic, and Musar texts in conversation with modern psychology and, we'll explore both obstacles and opportunities for change and personal growth.
 

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Parshat Ki Teitzei

Parshat Shoftim

Parshat Re'eh

Parshat Eikev

Parshat VaEtchanan

"Resist the urge to be articulate."  

Dena Weiss

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