How do Jewish texts help me grapple with questions of life, the universe and everything?
Ve-Nahafokh Hu – Topsy-Turvy
One of the themes of the festival of Purim is the idea of a complete change in a situation. This resource discusses the difficulties we sometimes face in controlling changes in our lives and considers how we can cope with such changes despite the difficulties.
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.
Adam and Eve
In this unit we will look at how the torah provides two accounts of the creation of Adam and Eve and consider approaches to what we can learn about the Torah’s approach to gender from this.
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.
Finding New Meaning in Kashrut for the Modern Age
In this block we will consider several contemporary approaches to finding new meaning in the laws of kashrut.
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.