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2014 Program Overview
[Revised overview]

Bamidbar: The Book of Numbers
Emunah?: Faith & Mistrust
Jerusalem, Israel, 7-29 July, 2014

Bamidbar (In the wilderness), the Book of Numbers, is one of the most dramatic books in the Torah. It shares the same theme as the Song of Songs, the ‘holiest book in the Bible,’ (R. Akiva, d. 135 CE). While the Songs of Songs describes an idyllic type of love affair between God and Israel and God and the soul, the Book of Numbers, in contrast, describes the tortured relationship between God and Israel and, by implication, between God and the human soul. The physical obstacles along the route fade in comparison to the struggling relationship between God and the People whose dominant sin is lack of trust: “The Lord said to Moshe: How long will this People scorn me? How long will they not trust in me, despite all the signs that I have done among them?” (Num. 14:11).

Our main topic this summer is Faith [Hebrew Emunah] and Mistrust and, together with a staff of gifted Jewish and Christian professors, we will explore new meanings and new understandings of these and related themes, including religious protest as a value. Through an in-depth study of the weekly parashahs (Torah readings), we will engage with a broad cross-section of Jewish interpretive traditions,   including midrashic, Talmudic, feminist and contemporary readings, employing the Jewish havruta method of intensive study.

Select Bibliography:

Commentaries on the Book of Numbers by G. Plaut, E. Fox, Eskenazi, etc.; Maimonides’ “Hilchot Teshuva” (The Rules of Repentance); Soloveitchik on Repentance by Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Pinchas H. Peli ; Linda Radzik, Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics; N. Verbin, Divinely Abused: A Philosophical Perspective on Job and his Kin.

Dr. Murray Watson, Academic Director
Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies
Jerusalem, Israel


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