This class is dedicated in memory of
Sara Rudoff Olshin a”h
שרה פריידע בת רב שלמה ורייזל
Who loved and learned bechol Nafsha
מי האיש(ה) החפץ חיים אוהב ימים לראות טוב
Nature – especially inanimate nature – tends to fade into the background of the Hebrew Bible’s stories. After all, what do stones or water matter, once the moral and covenantal drama of humanity steps onto the stage? Yet these and other elements serve as so much more than stage props. They carry symbolic meaning into disparate Biblical stories, infuse them with poignant messages, and weave them into a greater whole. Trees, for example, tie Judges’ quest for leadership with Eve’s primal quest for knowledge. Stones bring Abimelech’s story into juxtaposition with Jacob’s, and reveal deep truths about relationships and boundaries. The rivers in Egypt and Babylon take us into the heart of humanity’s darkness, while Tanakh’s tales of rain reveal a pathway to redemption. In this course we will follow these elements in and out of different Biblical stories, and see what light they shed on familiar tales.