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Adult Learning Reflections

Welcome! Here you will find reflections on topics discussed in Rabbi Edery's Monday morning Tanakh Talks class.


Comments on Tanakh Talks 11/23/20: Why are we in this bad situation?

Donald Perlmutter

In this session, we explored the causes and consequences of human suffering both personal and collective. The lessons are universal and have real applications in our modern times. 

The Talmudic rabbis had much to say about this question as they were confronted with the tragedies of the destruction of the second temple, the murder of over a million Jews, and the dispersal of the surviving Jewish people from Israel. Why had...Read more...

Commentary on Tanakh class November 16, 2020: Tikun Olam- Repair the World

Donald Perlmutter

We enjoyed a stimulating examination of this subject with participation from many members and quotations from authors and teachers including Leonard Cohen, Kohelet, Rabbi Salanter, Rabbi Nachman, and John Lennon.

What is tikkun olam?
Rabbi Edery led off our group discussion by asking: “What does tikkun olam mean to you?” Responses included “Make the world a better place” and “charity." One member stated that it...Read more...

Commentary on Tanakh Talks 11/02/20: How Political Science Can Inform the Religion-Science Debate

David Dirlam

Rabbi Edery opened the discussion asking, “How is it that smart, intelligent, modern, people still have trouble understanding how a mask can stop a virus? Why can’t we heed Maimonides' millennia-old insight that “wrong beliefs will kill you?”

To explore these questions, we delved into impediments to science such as religion, superstition, ideology, habit, and just plain suspicion. We also identified...Read more...

The Prohibition of Birth Control: Comment on Tanakh Talks 10/19/20

David Dirlam

This week’s Tanakh Talks focused on the issue of abortion. Biblical texts revealed the existence of abortion herbs since Babylonian times. A number of texts dating to the Torah pointed to the concept that life begins at birth. The Rabbi’s conclusion was that the consequences of pregnancy fall mainly on the woman, and so it should be her decision.

During the discussion, I suggested that the ban on contraception was related to the...Read more...

Rewards, Punishments, and Consequences 8/24/20

David Dirlam

We first looked at the parts of the Sh’ma that Reform Judaism now excludes from the service. Rabbi Edery asked why they were excluded. David Z. mentioned it was because it made God the rewarder and punisher, like the Canaanite gods of Baal and Astarte. Doug suggested that seeing God to be like them made Him look created by men, as they were. Rabbi Edery explained that the...Read more...

Contemporary Israeli Poetry Reflections 8/31/20

David Dirlam

We had a richly metaphorical discussion of poetry today, which showed both the participant’s inventiveness and the way we build on each other’s ideas. Since we now are recording the discussions, it’s no longer necessary to provide all the details. I’ll use these reflection pages to share ideas to encourage people who could not join us to check out the recordings or even to find a way to join us in the future.

Rabbi Edery...

The Law of the Borman Expressway

David Dirlam with edits by Michael Stevens

Summary: Rabbi Michael Stevens led our discussion today with several of his favorite commandments. We responded with several of our own and then focused on the text he provided. Participants generalized from the commandments to fit them to our modern lives. Kindness to strangers became kindness to immigrants, then to anybody in need, whether for sustenance or friendship.

The global commandment to be holy led us to discuss whether...Read more...

What is a covenant?

David Dirlam, with edits by Rabbi Edery

In this week’s Tanakh Study, Rabbi Edery (RAE) began with a call for answers to “What is a Covenant?” Replies included Don’s, “Noah,” Ruth’s “Sinai,” and my “Homeowners Associations.” Mary contrasted two-sided “covenants” from one-sided “promises.”
We read Genesis 12 in which God instructed Abram, “Go to the land that I will show you,” and “all the families of the earth will find blessing in you.” RAE...Read more...

Beth Shalom Learning Reflections - 6/15/20

David Dirlam

How do we pray in a modern world beset by COVID-19 and demonstrations over police killings of blacks? Hal opened our rich discussion by asking whether we pray to anyone but God. The Rabbi answered that rabbis are not closer to God than people and that it helps to understand the Bible as metaphorical—"Avinu” means “our source” as much as “our father.” We should not get stuck in the literal, written prayers but become open...Read more...

Is Black a Curse or Beautiful?

David Dirlam

Beth Shalom Learning Reflections—6/8/2020

Is Black a Curse or Beautiful?

A recurring theme in our studies is how Bible passages often reflect rivalries with neighboring groups. Following the George Floyd protests, Rabbi Edery’s readings addressed the Bible’s treatment of racial rivalries with several surprising insights.

We started with Genesis 9, the story of...

Sat, November 28 2020 12 Kislev 5781