Introducing A Taste of Talmud: When Life Meets Prayer

Perhaps even more than the Torah, the Talmud can be thought of as the quintessential Jewish text. Why? Because it’s full of everything that makes Jews Jewish: love of debate, intellectual curiosity, storytelling, humor, and the search for new meaning in inherited text and tradition.

The complete Talmud (in Aramaic) comprises over 2,700 pages of conversation, law, legend, and history. If you’ve never studied directly from a page of Talmud before, it can seem daunting. But AARC’s upcoming course ‘A Taste of Talmud: When Life Meets Prayer’ is here to help you get curious and comfortable through a 5-week immersion in Talmud text. 

We’ll be study directly from the Babylonian Talmud’s tractate Berachot, a rich conversation on the power of prayer, how and why we pray, and what happens when life meets prayer.

This course will take place on Sundays, 1:00-2:30 pm, beginning February 9, 2020. 

** Please note: The first session is an introduction and will be held in the Temple Beth Emeth library. The remaining 4 sessions will be at the Ann Arbor JCC.

Course Schedule: Sundays, 1-2:30 pm

February 9: The ABCs of Talmud Study: By the end of this introductory session, you can expect to be able to define and identify terms like Mishnah, Talmud, midrash, aggadah, masechet, sugya, daf, and gemara, as well as know how to navigate a page of Talmud. (TBE library)

Note: No meeting on February 16

February 23: Berachot Chapter 5: Who should be our model for prayer? Should we follow the model of a heartbroken wife? A repentant philanderer? Who is the ideal pray-er? And how does emotion influence prayer? (JCC)

March 1: Berachot Chapter 5 continued: How should we pray? Should we use our bodies in prayer? What if our bodies are praying ‘right’ but our minds are distracted? (JCC)

March 8: Berachot Chapter 9: What can we pray for? Can you ask God for something frivolous? Can you pray to avert harm? Do you have to pray even if you’re angry at God or frustrated at life?

March 15: Berachot Chapter 9 continued: Who do we pray for? Do we pray for ourselves? For our loved ones? For strangers? Can prayer ever be selfish or unwelcome?

Questions:

Q: Do I need to know Hebrew or Aramaic to participate?

A: No! We’ll be using the Steinsaltz English translation of the original Aramaic.

Q: What if I can’t make every session?

A: The learning will be cumulative, so while the ideal would be to attend every session, drop-ins are welcome.

Q: Do I need to bring any texts to class?

A: Just a notebook in case you want to write anything down. All texts will be provided.