(NOTE: Many of these courses are not offered every year)

Torah Courses

This intensive seminar will emphasize a close reading of . The course is designed to advance the students skills in analyzing Chumash, midrash and meforshim as well as developing an understanding of the themes and structure of .

Over the course of two semesters, we will study the entire book of Shmot, both for its own sake and as an introduction to a methodology of studying Chumash. We will treat the book as a single unit, as opposed to viewing it as a series of passages, verses and topics. We will learn to use techniques of literary and structural analysis to penetrate the depths of the text and understand the message the Torah is communicating to us. We will study the entire sefer on the level of b'kiyut (basic understanding), and various selected passages throughout the sefer in significantly greater depth. We will use classical parshanim like Rashi, Ramban and Ibn Ezra as well as the works of more contemporary writers like Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, to aid us in our analysis of the text.

In this class we will conduct an intensive study of the text and concepts of the often neglected Book of Vayikra. Careful consideration and analysis of the text will lead us to some of the central philosophic and halachic issues relevant to this sefer. Our study will hopefully result in a basic understanding of the general principles governing the areas of kodshim and tuma' v'tahara. Over the course of our study, we will examine the sections of the siddur and machzor relating to korbanot and enhance our understanding and appreciation of these critical areas of tefilah. Heavy emphasis will be placed on developing the textual skills necessary for future, independent study of the classic mefarshim. In particular, we will make thorough use of the commentaries in the Chumash Torat Chayim - Targum, Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Ramban, Chizkuni and Seforno - as well as several later works, especially Abarbanel, Rav Hirsch, the Netziv, and Rav David Tzvi Hoffman. This is, of course, in addition to the relevant Midrashim and Gemarot.

-"Murmurings in the Desert"
This course will emphasize the narrative sections of Sefer Bamidbar, namely a careful reading of the p'shat level of the Chumash with an in-depth study of the significance of the Torah's specific formulation of its stories. Themes from the midrash and trends from the meforshim will be integrated into our study. We will also focus on the structure and development of the sefer as a whole, and we will reflect upon the meaning of the messages of this sefer for us today. In this course, the students will acquire a methodology for learning any narrative section of the Torah.

Simple enough for a six-year-old, yet complex enough to confound the sixty-year old, Rashi is arguably the most popular commentary on the Torah.  However, he is also the least understood! To the untrained eye, Rashi is deceptively, simple style creates an attitude of what you see is what you get, rendering vast treasures of profound ideas and halachic concepts unattainable.  This course will introduce the students to ", our guides in properly understanding " in its entirety.  With their help, we will learn to anticipate Rashis questions, analyze the consistency of his answers within the peshat of the pesukim, understand why he chose to cite certain Midrashim and not others, compare his approach with other Parshanim, reconcile contradicting Rashis and gain an overall picture of select sugyot in Chumash.  But, most importantly, we will prove time and time again that when it comes to Rashi, what you see is far inferior to what you actually get.

A careful reading of the narrative sections of Chumash often raises many questions. We will discuss some of these issues and see the various responses that are offered by Chazal and the classical Mefarshim, both medieval and modern (e.g. Rashi, Ramban, Chizkuni, Malbim, Rav Hirsch, the Netziv). Over the course of a semester we will cover approximately 7-10 parshiyot and we will deal with approximately 10 questions per parsha. A small sample of some of the questions:  Why does Terach leave for Eretz Canaan at the end of Parshat Noach and why does he remain in Charan?  Why doesnt Avraham ask to save Sdom even if there are less than ten tzadikkim in the city? What exactly did Yaakov acquire when he bought the bechora from Eisav? Did Yaakov act properly when he seems to boast to Eisav (at the beginning of Parshat Vayishlach) about all of the wealth he has accumulated?