8 Unit(s), 23 Resource(s),
Hashgacha and Freewill
This house focuses on the two central Jewish concepts of Hashgacha (Divine Providence) and Human Free Will and how to harmonize between these two notions that seem to be in conflict.
This house focuses on the nature and purpose of humankind as understood from early and modern sources examining the creation narrative in Sefer Beresishit.
The Why of Shabbat
What are the philosophical underpinnings of Shabbat observance that make it a critical area of religious observance throughout history? In this house this will be explored through the eyes of several contemporary Jewish thinkers.
The How of Shabbat
In this house the “how of shabbat observance” will be explored in all its complexity and diversity among the Jewish people today.
You Are What You Eat: Finding Meaning in the Laws of keeping Kosher
This Unit will familiarize learners with the concepts of kashrut, as well as expose them to the basic laws of keeping kosher. It will examine some of the rationales behind these laws and consider a broader understanding of kashrut and its relevance to Jewish values and contemporary ethics.
Just Remember: Symbols and Reminders in Judaism
All religions and cultures incorporate symbols and reminders into the norms of everyday life. In this unit, examples of these from Judaism will be presented, and the ideas and values they represent will be explored. Students will be encouraged to consider what their own connection and relationship can be in a 21st century context.
The Exodus from Egypt as a Jewish Calling
This unit explores the centrality of the Exodus from Egypt in Jewish life. It suggests several reasons for its importance, and discusses the moral lessons from it that have guided human behavior throughout history.
Chosen People, Chosen Purpose
This unit explores the concept of chosenness, and what it means when Jewish tradition says the Jewish people are a “Chosen People”.
Contemporary approaches to divine providence and free will
This lesson looks at several contemporary thinkers’ approaches to the issues of divine providence, divine foreknowledge, and human free will.
Human Responsibility and Divine Providence
This lesson explores the tension between the concepts of divine providence and human free will and therefore responsibility to self well-being. If there is divine providence at an individual level, does this mean we can rely on God’s protection if we are worthy or do we still have a responsibility to look after ourselves?
Free Will and do we really have it?
This unit will explore Jewish perspectives on free will in light of the Jewish belief of hashgachah, divine providence. Belief in an all-knowing God that controls the universe complicates a belief in the existence of free will. Yet, free will is a critical component in determining sin or its opposite, the fulfillment of a mitzvah. If there is no free will, how can one be responsible for their actions?
Hashgacha – Divine Providence
This lesson explores the concept of divine providence. Texts will examine the role of God in the world following its creation, exploring themes including what hashgacha is, natural law, relying on divine intervention and does human behaviour matter.
In the Beginning, One Being
In this unit we will look at several sources that explore the uniqueness of the human being and what that means for Judaism’s approach to diversity.
Two accounts of the Creation of Humankind
In this unit we will look at a second version of the creation of Adam found in chapter 2 of Beresishit, and explore various approaches that reconcile this with the version in chapter 1.
In God’s Image
In this unit we will consider what it means that humans are created ‘in the image of God’, and what that tells us about the Torah’s approach to the nature and purpose of humankind.
Shabbat as a Taster of the World to Come (the afterlife)
In this block we will look at three sources that compare the experience of observing shabbat to the World to Come (the afterlife).
Shabbat is the heart of Jewish life
In this block we will look at the historical, cultural, and sociological impact of shabbat observance on the Jewish people.
Shabbat and the Exodus
In this block we will consider the connections between Shabbat and the Exodus.
Shabbat is being in the present
In this block we will look at several sources who all approach shabbat as a means to pause and take stock, be present in the moment, and focus on ourselves.
The Spirit of Shabbat
In this block we will explore the overall theme of “rest” on shabbat as a way to maintain the spirit of shabbat.
Contemporary Approaches to Shabbat
In this block we will explore contemporary approaches to shabbat observance from various streams of Judaism that differ in some way from Orthodox observance.
Zachor – the “dos” of Shabbat
In this resource we will consider the positive aspects of Shabbat observance, including the positive mitzvot involved in an active Shabbat observance.
Shamor – the “do nots” of shabbat
In this block we will consider the classic Biblical and Talmudic sources for the prohibitions involved in shabbat observance.
For the body or the soul: Possible reasons for keeping kosher
The laws of keeping kosher have no immediately obvious rationale behind them. Yet we assume that observance of all the mitzvot in the Torah are beneficial to us. Therefore, for generations, Jewish thinkers have formulated various approaches to the benefits of keeping kosher. In this lesson we consider four approaches to the physical and spiritual benefits of observing the laws of kashrut.
Tzitzit as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tzitzit will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic and modern voices.
Mezuzah as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Mezuza will be examined, through looking at one of the biblical sources for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic, medieval, and contemporary voices.
Tefillin as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tefillin will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, exploring a national symbolism of Tefillin in a medieval commentary on the Torah, and a more personal approach taken by a modern thinker and a teen author.
Chosen for What?
Before the Israelites received the Torah God instructed Moses to describe them as a “Segula” (treasured) and a “Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation”. This is a biblical source for being a chosen people. But chosen for what?
Chosenness: Privilege or Responsibility
God promises a special relationship with the Jewish people. That He will love and protect them, and ensure they are prosperous and safe. But is this relationship unconditional? Is it a privilege or is there responsibility that comes with these blessings?
Who Chose Whom?
Chosenness has sometimes come with a steep price, leading some to question who did the choosing, the fairness of this covenant, and if the two partners in the transaction were equally free to accept the ramifications.
Why were the Israelites Chosen? – Intrinsic vs.Extrinsic Holiness
The Jewish people are often referred to as the “Chosen People”, based on references in the Torah that describe the Israelites as singled out by God from among the nations of the world for a specific reason and a purpose. In this lesson we will explore these references and the way several Jewish thinkers approach them to evaluate for ourselves whether this “chosenness” was because of a defining and intrinsic holiness or a potential extrinsic holiness to be achieved.