Torah Studies: A Weekly Journey Into the Soul of Torah - 5778 Season 3


12 lessons that probe into the depths of contemporary Torah thought, with a special focus on issues surrounding spirituality, the human psyche, love, and relationships. Every experience offers meaningful and timely lessons – from the most timeless of texts. You will walk away surprised, inspired, and knowing more about who we are as Jews, and who you are as an individual.


Lesson 1

Snake Oil Salesman

 “Be a mensch!” is probably something you’ve heard before. But is that limited to an annual donation to the synagogue sisterhood and holding the door for that bulky stroller? What does it really mean to be human, a real mensch? The snake crawling on the ground gives us a pretty good idea of what it’s not—and an inkling of what, indeed, it is.


Lesson 2

Check Your Privilege

Who’s more admirable—the self-made man, or the born rich? And which one would you rather be? Rather than put any one side down, journey through the Torah narrative of human and animal law to discover the beauty of both—and how to utilize everything to get ahead.


Lesson 3

The Curious Case of the Scapegoat

In one of the most dramatic rituals of Temple times, a goat was sent off to the wilderness and tumbling down a cliff on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. What is behind this curious ritual? The mystics tackle this mitzvah head-on, and we emerge with a lesson in forgiveness and grace.


Lesson 4

?I?ll Take Care of It?

Is there a pressing matter in your community that no one seems to really care about? Is there someone who, for whatever reason, is overlooked by everyone else? When it comes to choosing a cause, it can be tempting to take on the popular cause du jour. But sometimes, becoming a better person means taking the path less trodden—even if it isn’t so popular.


Lesson 5

Life in Balance

Are we supposed to be proud or humble? Spiritually sensitive, or career-driven? So many extremes in life, and so many paradoxes to navigate—it can be quite dizzying. A command to let the earth rest for a year, a small mountain in the Sinai desert, and a Temple-era practice of freeing slaves provide the backdrop for striking the perfect balance. 


Lesson 6

Three is the Magic Number

There’s something extremely satisfying about settling a dispute between two parties. Of course, it would be nice if everyone agreed about everything, but that’s just not happening. Or would that even be preferred? Apparently, when G-d married heaven and earth in the present we called Torah, He taught us this: One is good, but to make two into one is even better. And that’s the magic of three.


Lesson 7

Strong as Samson

The name “Samson” is literally synonymous with “strength.” Journey through the life of this colorful and mystifying character—strongman, judge, leader of the people, Nazarite, and of course, a man of G-d. Along the way, discover the weak link of his story—and how to avoid it in your own. 


Lesson 8

Desiring Desire

Somewhere, in some distant land, there exists the perfect person who is not even tempted by evil. For the rest of us, we’re stuck with the daily struggle of life. The good news is that struggles make us better people: more committed—and it makes G-d proud, too. So, perhaps we should try to look for even more to struggle with? Raining quail in the desert tell us, “No!”


Lesson 9

Man of the People

It’s an angry scene. Future hopes nursed for generations have been shattered. A furious mob wants to oust the incumbent leader. People are wailing on the sidelines. The pressure cooker is about to burst. One man steps in and saves the day. Caleb was his name. What did he say and how did he do it? Find out in this exciting class.


Lesson 10

Sophisticated Animal?

It’s an age-old question: Is man simply a sophisticated animal, or an entirely different species? Let the critics cluck and the cynics chuckle, but Moses has a message to deliver: It’s definitely the second option. Find out how his showdown with a rabble-rousing Korach centered on just this question.


Lesson 11

Moses?s Double Standard

Sure, we’d all like to believe that we behave in private just as we do in public—but oftentimes, that’s simply not the case. So, are we just bald-faced hypocrites? Should we make our public actions consistent with our private ones and let it all out? A sad story of Moses and the rock tells us a thing or two about this tension. 


Lesson 12

A Zealous Act

You’ve seen it before: the zealous guy who is quick to act and take extreme measures when everyone else is too afraid to move. When’s the right time to be “that guy”? And when should we back off and just let things be? A desert showdown between a zealous student and a brazen prince gone astray holds the answers to these tough questions.

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