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COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Judaic Studies Major and Elective Courses

 

BIBL-P 101 Parsha Journeys

Parsha Journeys presents the complete storyline of the first two chapters of each of the weekly parshiyot (Torah portions), in addition to insights into some of the more famous events discussed.

BIBL-P 220 Topics in the Parsha I:  Breishit, Shmot, and Vayikra

This course is an in-depth study of selected topics in the weekly Torah portion, or Parsha, with a focus on character development. The classes cover most of the parshiot from Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers. Each lecture begins with basic primary sources, usually a verse from the Torah, and then studies extensive selections from both the Early Commentators of the Middle Ages and the Later Commentators of the Modern Era. The instructor adds excerpts from classical works produced by the Chassidic and Mussar Movements, and ties together all components of the lecture to present a new insight into one's life as an inspired Torah Jew.

BIBL-P 221 Topics in the Parsha II: Breishit, Shmot, and Vayikra

This course is an in-depth study of selected topics in the weekly Torah portion, or Parsha, with a focus on character development. The classes cover most of the parshiot from Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers. Each lecture begins with basic primary sources, usually a verse from the Torah, and then studies extensive selections from both the Early Commentators of the Middle Ages and the Later Commentators of the Modern Era. The instructor adds excerpts from classical works produced by the Chassidic and Mussar Movements, and ties together all components of the lecture to present a new insight into one's life as an inspired Torah Jew.

 BIBL-P 222 Topics in the Parsha III: Breishit, Shemot, Vayikra, and Bamidbar

This course is an in-depth study of selected topics in the weekly Torah portion, or Parsha, with a focus on character development. The classes cover most of the parshiot from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Classes focus on selected topics in the weekly Parsha. The instructor begins with primary sources, usually a verse from the Torah, and delves into its meaning and message through extensive selections from both the Early Commentators of the Middle Ages and the Later Commentators of the Modern Era. The instructor adds excerpts from classical works produced by both the Chassidic and Mussar Movements, and ties together all components of the lecture to bring home a new insight into our lives as inspired Torah Jews.

 BIBL-P 230 Parsha Learning Group: Discovering Classical Commentaries

The Parsha Learning Group course aims to uncover the inner world of Parshanut Hamikrah, Biblical Exegesis. Every week, the instructor addresses one topic from the weekly parsha (Torah portion) and reviews the comments of Rashi and other Early Commentators. The class emphasizes learning how to read the text closely and attempts to understand the difficulties that the Commentaries aim to reconcile. This class does not require prior experience in Torah study or knowledge of Hebrew. 

BIBL 300 Chumash In Depth: Jacob's Dream, Va'etchanan – Moshe's Prayer

Students take an in-depth look at Moshe's famous entreaty to G-d in Parshat Va'etchanan. Students also delve into the symbolism, hidden meanings, and G-dly promises of success and survival in Exile that are contained in Jacob's famous dream of the ladder. This advanced class incorporates a close reading of the text along with a practical application of lessons learned.

BIBL 301 Chumash In Depth: Akeidat Yitzchak (The Binding of Isaac), The Sale of Joseph

Students examine the powerful stories of Akeidat Yitzchak (The Binding of Isaac) and the Sale of Joseph. Utilizing a blend of classical and modern commentaries, students study these difficult episodes via a close reading of the relevant verses and a deep analysis of the hidden meaning behind these narratives.

PROP 201 Yechezkel

Students study the first half of the book of Yechezkel, Ezekiel. The instructor explains the pshat, or basic meaning of the text, utilizing classical commentaries such as Rashi. Additionally, the instructor delves into the deeper meaning and messages of the text, applying its messages to life.

PROP 340 Yirmiyahu I: Reluctant Prophet

Students study the themes inherent in the first half of the Book of Yirmiyahu. The course focuses on both the structure and beauty of the text, the historical background to the prophecies studied, as well as on the inspiration and spiritual impact that the timeless words of Yirmiyahu have on our lives today.

PROP 341 Yirmiyahu II: Prophet of Destruction

Students study the themes inherent in the second half of the Book of Yirmiyahu. The course focuses on both the structure and beauty of the text, the historical background to the prophecies studied, as well as on the inspiration and spiritual impact that the timeless words of Yirmiyahu have on our lives today.

SCRP 201 The Books of Daniel and Trei Asar

The book of Daniel is a unique part of the Written Torah. It is mainly written in Aramaic and describes the fascinating and inspirational life of the prophet Daniel. Students will study Daniel, focusing on timeless messages, many of which relate to the Exile and its eventual end. In the second part of the course, the instructor explores Trei Asar, the shorter prophesies of the late Era of Prophecy. These prophecies speak of pivotal concepts such as sin, retribution, repentance, forgiveness, and redemption.

SCRP 220 Megillot

Students study the five megillot: Esther, Shir HaShirim, Kohelet, Eicha, and Ruth. The course focuses on the basic meaning of the text as well as the deeper meaning within it.


SCRP 300 Tehillim I

Students analyze selected chapters in the book of Tehillim (Psalms).  A superficial reading of the text will not reveal the uniqueness of each chapter of Psalms, as praise and pleading seemingly repeat themselves again and again. Through the use of many commentaries, the instructor breaks down every chapter into its components and clarifies the distinctions between them. What emerges is a new understanding and appreciation of the precision and pathos contained in Tehillim.

SCRP 301 Tehillim II

Students analyze selected chapters in the book of Tehillim (Psalms).  Through the use of many commentaries, the instructor breaks down every chapter into its components and clarifies the distinctions between them. The course also demonstrates how the structure of the text reflects its themes. What emerges is a new understanding and appreciation of the precision and pathos contained in Tehillim.

JLAW 100 Chafetz Chayim: The Laws of Proper Speech

The Laws of Proper Speech, as codified in the book, Chafetz Chaim, are the foundation of many of the laws governing human interaction. Every class begins with a textual analysis, and then proceeds on to a discussion of real-life examples and ways to apply the principles discussed to daily living. The ultimate goal of the course is to encourage self-awareness and self-improvement in the areas of mitzvot bein adam l'chavero (human relations).

JLAW 300 Hilchot Shabbat I: Honoring and Violating Shabbat

This course contains an in-depth study of the Laws of Honoring Shabbat and the Laws of Prohibited Activity on Shabbat.  Using Biblical verses as a starting point, students follow the halachic discussion in the Talmud, and then go on to the halachic rulings of the Medieval and Contemporary commentaries, ending with the final halacha as it applies today.  Main topics covered are candle lighting, Lechem Mishneh, eating three meals on Shabbat, Kiddush, and Havdalah, the nature and differentiation of Avot Melacha (primary prohibited activities) and Toldot Melacha (subsidiaries of the Avot Melacha), the prohibition of Gozez (cutting) and Borer (sorting) on Shabbat, and the complex halachot (laws) of unintentional melachot and Psik Reisha.

 JLAW 301 Hilchot Shabbat II: Bishul, Dosh, Memachek, Libun, Sechita, and Kotev

This course contains an in-depth study of various melachot, or prohibited activities on Shabbat.  Using Biblical verses as a starting point, students follow the halachic discussion in the Talmud, and then go on to the halachic rulings of the Medieval and Contemporary commentaries, ending with the final halacha as it applies today.  Main topics covered are cooking and reheating food on Shabbat, benefitting from a prohibited activity on Shabbat, and the melachot  of dosh (grinding), memachek (erasing), sechita (wringing), libun (washing), and kotev (writing).

JLAW 302 Hilchot Shabbat III: Korei'a, Binyan, Makeh B'Patish, Amira L'Akum, Muktza, and Tzad

This course contains an in-depth study of various melachot, or prohibited activities on Shabbat.  Using Biblical verses as a starting point, students follow the halachic discussion in the Talmud, and then go on to the halachic rulings of the Medieval and Contemporary commentaries, ending with the final halacha as it applies today.  Main topics covered are korei'a (ripping), binyan (building), makeh b'patish (hammering), amira l'akum (asking a gentile to violate Shabbat), muktza (prohibition to move forbidden items), tofer (sewing), and tzad (trapping).

 JPHL 101 Fundamentals of Jewish Thought

This course explores four fundamental aspects of Jewish philosophy and faith. Part I analyzes the concept of trust in G-d as the ultimate provider of all of Man's needs and desires in this world and the Next World.  It explains how to focus on joy as the key to developing a trustful relationship with Hashem, and ways to properly face the challenging areas of life that require trust in G-d. Part II examines Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Faith as well as the philosophical discussions of the Maharal on faith. Part III examines the role of the Torah as the source for directing the Jewish nation in their unique task in this world and defines the path towards the ultimate redemption. Part IV concludes with an in-depth analysis of the Ten Commandments and the meaning in mitzvot.

JPHL 201 Writing of Maharal: Netivot Olam and Netzach Yisrael

Students focus on the books Netivot Olam and  Netzach Yisrael, by Rabbi Yehuda Loewe, the Maharal of Prague, a seventeenth century rabbi who authored many books of Jewish philosophy. Students will examine the nature of the yetzer hara, the evil inclination. Students will analyze where its power stems from and how to combat it. Students focus on the causes of suffering, and how people can grow from suffering. Additionally, students will examine the nature of discord, and define as well as analyze the inherent qualities of peace. Students will focus on the causes for the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and the changes in perspective and behavior that must occur in order to rectify this damage.

JPHL 220 Character Development: Selections from Tomer Devora, Chovot Halevavot, and Messilat Yesharim

This course studies selections from the classical ethical works, Chovot HaLevavot by Rabbenu Bachya ibn Pekuda,Tomer Devora by Rabbi Moshe Cordevoro, and Messilat Yesharim by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato. Chovot

HaLevavot discusses Man's purpose in the world and his obligations to G-d in belief, behavior and character. Tomer

Devora describes how Man should adapt and adopt G-d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, transforming himself from a mere human to a G-dly individual. Messilat Yesharim follows a step by step plan of ascension to spiritual perfection, based on a Gemara which lists 15 steps to reach Ruach Hakodesh, Divine inspiration.   The instructor explicates these fundamental works and looks at key themes found throughout the books and ways in which they can be applied to daily living.

JCAL 105 Jewish Calendar II:  Purim, Pesach, and Sefirat Haomer

In this course, students explore a selection of interpretations surrounding the festivals of Purim, Pesach, and Sefirat Haomer. Students examine the esoteric meaning of these days by studying such works as the Sefas Emes, Bnai Yissoschor, and Shem Mishmuel. Students also look at the historical, legal, and ethical aspects of these festivals.

JCAL 110 Jewish Calendar: Pesach and Shavuot

This course analyzes the sanctity, significance, and special powers inherent in the festivals of Pesach and Shavuot. It also takes a multifaceted look at the period between these two festivals known as sefirat homer (the counting of the omer). 

JCAL 200 Jewish Calendar: Days of Awe

The Days of Awe, beginning with the month of Elul and concluding with Sukkot, are days of repentance, introspection, self-definition, prayer, and ultimate joy. This course takes a comprehensive look at this emotionally charged period, particularly focusing on the Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur prayers, explaining their structure, the logical sequence of the prayers, and the meaning and symbolism of key tefillot (prayers). Students also examine Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's important work on Jewish Thought, Al HaTeshuva, which discusses repentance and self-improvement as a means to growth and ascension in service of Hashem.

JCAL 210 Jewish Calendar: Remembering the Destruction

Jerusalem was once a city that shone with the Divine Presence and rang with the sounds of people serving their Creator. Today, the Temple no longer stands, and our primary goal of sanctifying the name of Hashem seems to be muted. What were the causes of this destruction? What should we do to return to our former glory as G-d's Holy people, serving Him in Jerusalem? How can we deepen our appreciation of Jewish unity in order to rectify the sin of disunity that caused the destruction? This thought-provoking course explores these questions, and other topics relating to the Three Weeks, The Ninth of Av, and the Tenth of Tevet which commemorate the destruction of the Temple.

CHAS 301 Chassidut on the Parsha I: Shem Mishmuel

This course is centered on the weekly Torah portion. Within each Torah portion, one or two topics are analyzed and discussed based on the book of Chassidic discourses, Shem MiShmuel, authored between the years 1910-1926, by Rabbi  Shmuel Bornsztain, the second Sochatchover  Rebbe, who wrote his book between the years 1910-1926. This course attempts to deepen the student's understanding of some of the themes presented in the books of Genesis and Exodus. This goal is achieved by discussing the narratives presented in this book, and synthesizing them with the comments of the Midrash, the Talmud, and Hasidic thought.  The concepts presented are then connected to contemporary life, and the students are able to apply the lessons of the Bible to modern issues and challenges.

CHAS 302 Chassidut on the Parsha II: Shem MiShmuel

This course is centered on the weekly Torah portion. It begins with the portion Mishpatim and ends with Vezot Habracha. Within each Torah portion, one or two topics are analyzed and discussed based on the book of Chassidic discourses, the Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornsztain, the second Sochatchover  Rebbe, who wrote his book between the years 1910-1926. This course attempts to deepen one's understanding of some of the themes presented in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  This goal is achieved by discussing the narratives presented in this book, and synthesizing them with the comments of the Midrash, the Talmud, and Hasidic thought.  The concepts presented are then connected to contemporary life, and the students are able to apply the lessons of the Bible to modern issues and challenges.

TALM 401 Gemara Mesechet Brachot I

This course is an in-depth study of Masechet Brachot, the first Tractate of the Talmud, from the first folio, daf 2A, to daf 5B.  The text-based course emphasizes a deep understanding of the topics (sugyos) discussed in the Talmud, based on the Medieval and Modern Commentaries.

TALM 402 Gemara Mesechet Brachot II

This course is an analytical study of Tractate Brachot, combining the views of the medieval and later commentators. The course presents both a classical text-based elucidation of the gemara, as well as a conceptual approach known as lomdus. Basic reading skills and some familiarity with gemara study is required for the course. Students will study daf 5b to 12b.



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