2012 Summer Program in English
Matan Summer Program 2012
July 1 - 19
Tradition, Challenge and Innovation: The Mishna and Its Legacy
Schedule of classes
Committing the Mishna to a written text was an unprecedented event. The Mishna is called Torah shebeal peh, Oral Law, and yet it was committed to writing because of the circumstances of the time. The Mishna and subsequent works of the Oral Law are unique in that they enshrine tradition/mesora while still allowing for innovation and creativity. This summer we will try to explore the nexus between tradition and innovation, the pillars on which halacha is based. We will also look at what happens when innovation goes too far and creates deviance, as well as how new ideas were brought in from the outside to revitalize Judaism.
The program is combined of three self-contained courses, each a week long (Sunday through Thursday.) Each unit will center around a theme and culminate with a trip where what we have learned in the classroom will come alive in the landscape. During the first two weeks we will begin each morning with a short shiur in Mishnah, and during the third week of the program – in Gemara.
All of this is in honor of the completion of the first all-women's Daf Yomi cycle at Matan and celebrates the study of Mishna and Gemara!
Week 1: July 1-5
“Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and passed it down to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the elders and the elders to the prophets and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly.” Pirkei Avot 1:1
The basis of mesora is the teacher- student relationship. We will look at such relationships in Tanakh, among them Moshe and Yehoshua and Eliyahu and Elisha. We will explore the Halachic process and how the Oral Law has been passed down through the generations as well as the effect codification had on this process. We will look at schools of thought and academies in the times of the Tannaim, Amoraim and Geonim and see how and where the distinct traditions of Babylonia and Eretz Yisrael were disseminated.
Our tour will take us to places where the mesora was passed on, to Bet Shearim, Tveria and other northern sites.
Week 2: July 8-12
“Rabban Gamliel issued a proclamation saying : No disciple whose character does not correspond to his exterior may enter the Bet Midrash.” Berakhot 28a
Jewish history has seen rebels who left the fold and innovators who introduced ideas to enrich Judaism. This week we will take a look at those people and at the trends that went too far. We will also look at those who brought improvements from the world at large. Moshe was challenged by Nadav and Avihu and by Korach but he gained enormously from the expertise and insight of his father-in-law Yitro, whose children remained connected to the Jewish people. In the world of the Tannaim, the most famous deviant was Elisha ben Abuya, Aher - we will study his fascinating story. His contemporary and counterpart, Rabbi Akiva, came from outside traditional rabbinic circles and confronted the Roman challenge to which Aher capitulated. The Sabbatian movement with its false messiah, Shabbetai Tzvi, brought halachic deviance to the fore. At the same time, Jewish scholars of the Renaissance period, like the Maharal and Rabbi Obadiah Sforno, applied the fascinating new ideas of their time to Judaism.
This week’s tour will be in the footsteps of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, to Bet Guvrin and Herodion, as we follow Rabbi Akiva in his attempt to fight the Roman power that so entranced Elisha ben Abuya.
Week 3: July 15-19
“Rabbi Yehoshua stood up and exclaimed: It [the Torah] is not in Heaven!” Bava Metzia 59b
The enduring strength of halacha lies in its capacity for innovation and its ability to apply constant principles to changing situations. This idea begins in the Torah with Moshe answering the halachic questions of the Daughters of Zelophchad and of the people who missed bringing the Passover sacrifice. Purim and Chanukah tested the limits of halacha to create new holidays.Halachic innovation developed through the wide-ranging discussions of the Gemara and was spread to the Jewish world through the institution of Shutim, responsa, that have been written from the days of the Geonim to this day. Today, halacha’s ability to respond to new situations is constantly challenged and we will look at some of the questions that comprise the responsa and discussions of today, from technological innovations to women’s issues and questions that arise in the running of a modern Jewish state.
Our tour will take us to some of the places on the cutting edge of halachic creativity like Machon Tzomet which uses technology to solve halachic problems.
You can participate in one, two or all three weeks. For information please call or e-mail: 972-2-594-4555; email@example.com
Four days of classroom and Beit Midrash learning (8:45am-1:00pm) take place in the spacious Matan building in the Katamonim neighborhood of Jerusalem.
One day a week there is an all day tiyul.
Please reserve the date: Thursday, July 18, for a celebration dinner and shiur. Details to follow.
Open to men and women of diverse backgrounds who are looking for the combination of traditional and academic learning that expands the mind and awakens the soul.
One week: $275
Two weeks: $500
Three weeks: $700
Israeli residents please contact the Matan office for the NIS fee schedule. This option is for residents only.
Please return the enclosed form together with a deposit of $100 per person which will be deducted from the total cost. Deposits are non-refundable after May 8th.
Summer program director - Shulie Mishkin, Matan’s veteran tour guide.
Coordinator - Pnina Nathan, a student at the Joan and Shael Bellows Masters Program in Tanach.
For information please call or e-mail: 972-2-594-4555; firstname.lastname@example.org