Bible Courses

(Some) Villains of Tanach
  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

These guys (and gals – they are well represented) can be bad, immoral, quarelsom, seductive, and (maybe) all around evil. Potifar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph, Delilah brought big Samson to his death, Menasseh King of Judah is single handedly responsible for its destruction, Datan and Aviram would have turned Moses in. These and others are among the evil individuals of Tanakh, those whom we love to hate. But how bad were they? What motivated them? Is there such a things as a purely evil person? Through these characters and others we will explore some well known stories, as well as some obscure ones, from various corners of the Tanakh. We will explore both the biblical text and the rabbinic understanding of these characters. And since bad people are fun, (as long as they don’t move in next door) there won’t be a dull moment!

Class 1: Introduction

Class 2: His Daughters (and Lot)

Class 3: Esau or Jacob?!

Class 4: Potifar’s Wife

Class 5: Datan and Aviram

Class 6: Delilah (Judges 16)

Class 7: Ba’alat Ha’ov (the Witch) of Ein Dor 

Class 8: Jezebel

Class 9: Manasseh

Joseph – Oh Brother!
  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

The story of Joseph, the beloved son and hated brother, the slave-turned-prisoner-turned second to the Pharaoh, is too complex to come down to simple answers. Many of us have studied it before, but each time we approach this narrative we discover something new. More important than the answers that we might arrive at in this course, is the dialogue that we have with the text. Take your time and enjoy the process.

Class 1: Introduction to Joseph – Oh Brother!

Class 2: All In The Family

Class 3: I Am Seeking My Brothers

Class 4: Kill That Dreamer

Class 5: Who Sold Joseph Into Slavery

Class 6: In Potifar’s House

Class 7: Interpreting The Dreams

Class 8: The Brothers Go Down To Egypt

Class 9: My Son Will Go Down With You

Class 10: In A Land Not Theirs

Class 11: Closure After Jacob’s Death

Recipe for an Empire: From David’s Jerusalem to Ahab’s Samaria
  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

The recipe for success of a great king: A capital devoid of the tribal affiliations, and a religious center loyal to the royal family. Season with ambitions, emotions, and intrigues.

The course will study the creation of Jerusalem by David: The establishment of a religious center, the organization of a state, and some of the intrigues of the palace. Then we will watch the missteps of David’s heirs, the splitting of the empire and the rise of a new kingdom just north of Jerusalem. The fledging new kingdom will establish itself as a great power under Omri and Ahab (and Jezebel!), who created the independent capital city of Samaria. (Did they learn something from David?)

The course will focus on the relevant biblical texts from the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Whenever appropriate, we will discuss relevant Midrashim and archeological information.

Class 1: Introduction To Recipe For An Empire

Class 2: Concentrating The Power: State And Religion

Class 3: David And Bath Sheba

Class 4: The King Is Dead, Long Live The King

Class 5: In Solomon’s Kingdom

Class 6: The Kingdom Splits

Class 7: Beth El: The Northern Kingdom’s Cultic Center

Class 8: Ahia: The Role Of The Prophet

Class 9: Down South After The Split

Class 10: Creating Shomron

Class 11: Jezebel

Class 12: Jezebel: Why Do We Care?

Class 13: Conclusion To Recipe for an Empire

Temples and Temptations: King Solomon
  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

Solomon had it all: Wisdom, riches, wives, peace, and he lost it all: Following his death, the United Kingdom split into Judah and Israel, a reality that has remained with the Jewish people until today. How could such a wise king go so wrong? We are not the first to wonder. As we study the story let us keep this question in mind. I hope that by the end you will share some of your own thoughts.

Solomon’s reign was the best of times, but also the worst. The Tanakh divides the story in a manner that is not necessarily chronological. In our study we will follow more or less the order chosen by the narrator, but will occasionally glance forward or back.

Class 1: Introduction To Temples And Temptation

Class 2: Mamma’s Little Boy

Class 3: Coming Into His Own

Class 4: Wise King And Orderly Kingdom

Class 5: It’s A Big World

Class 6: Building The Temple

Class 7: Grand Buildings

Class 8: Temptations

Class 9: Coming To A Close

  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

One of the most colorful biblical characters, the prophet Elijah burst on to the scene with a declaration of a drought – and disappears, leaving us to debate if it was God or Elijah that decreed the lack of rain. We will follow him up into Phoenicia (Lebanon) and down to the Negev. We will observe his relationships with people, whether ordinary or royal. We will discuss the moral dilemmas raised in the Biblical narrative. Finally, we will look at the place that Elijah has in Jewish tradition, and ask ourselves how he got there.

Class 1: Introduction To Elijah

Class 2: A Drought By Whose Saying?

Class 3: Where Is Elijah During The Drought

Class 4: Elijah Returns

Class 5: Elijah On Mount Carmel

Class 6: Elijah In The Desert

Class 7: Navot’s Vineyard

Class 8: When Hashem Took Elijah Up By Storm

Class 9: Elijah In Jewish Tradition

Little Books, Big Voices: Four Minor Prophets
  • by Rabbi Gail Diamond

Join us for a look into some of the lesser known treasures of the Tanach. Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Joel and Haggai prophesied during turbulent times. These small books, part of the Twelve Minor Prophets (Trei Asar), highlight the challenges of the period surrounding the destruction of the first Temple and the beginning of the second Temple. But the sages taught that all the prophecies that were preserved in the Tanach also contain lessons for future generations, and lessons for our lives are to be found too in the big voices of these four prophets.

Class 1: Introduction To Twelve Minor Prophets

Class 2: Habakkuk – Chapter 1 

Class 3: Habakkuk – Chapter 2

Class 4: Habakkuk – Chapter 3

Class 5: Zephaniah – Chapters 1-3

Class 6: Joel – Chapters 1-2 

Class 7: Joel – Chapters 3-4 

Class 8: Haggai – Chapters 1-2

Megillat Esther
  • by Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

Palace intrigues, a decadent court, beautiful queens, and an advisor whose rise to prominence risks an entire nation. Who do you feel is the worst character of the Megilah? And how did Esther and Mordechai get their roles in this story? Megilat Esther reads (at least in parts) as a chronicle of the Persian court, leaving us to wonder what it is doing in the Canon. During 4 sessions we will explore various aspects of Megilat Esther and try to expand our appreciation of this unlikely holy text. Studying the Megilah will also give us the opportunity to review some rabbinic texts, as well as other biblical texts that influenced the narrative of Esther, texts that the narrator assumed that we know and refer to.

Class 1: Introduction to Megillat Esther

Class 2: Meet Esther

Class 3: Who Is Mordochai? Yichus, Yichus

Class 4: A Responsible King

Class 5: Name And Title

Class 6: A Biblical Treasure Hunt

Class 7: Haman And Mordochai: The Clash

Class 8: Women Of Power: Esther

Class 9: Women Of Power: Zeresh

Psalms Of Hallel
  • by Rabbi Gail Diamond

What is the origin of our custom of reciting special Psalms on festivals and Rosh Hodesh? Why were Psalms 113-118 chosen for this purpose? In this class we will examine the Psalms of Hallel in detail and look at rabbinic texts explaining the place of Hallel in the Jewish year.

Psalms Of Jewish Liturgy

Introduction To Hallel

Psalm 113

Psalm 114

Psalm 115

Psalm 116

Psalm 117

Psalm 118

How To Recite Hallel

Origins Of Psalms Sources

Origins Of Psalms Study Sheet

Psalms of Pesukei Dezimra of Shabbat
  • by Rabbi Gail Diamond

This course studies the Psalms of Pesukei DeZimra of Shabbat – Psalms 19, 34, 90, 91, 135, 136, 33, 92 and 93. The concluding section focuses on the origins of Psalms as evidenced in Biblical and Rabbinic texts.

The goal of the course is to develop skills for the study of Tehillim in Hebrew, to develop familiarity with Biblical poetry in general and with Psalms specifically. The course is designed to provide tools for Psalms and Tanach study in Hebrew, as well as expand students understanding of Psalms that are part of the Shabbat tefillot (prayers). Students can learn the Psalms in translation but the emphasis of the study materials is on building skills for learning and understanding Psalms in the original Hebrew.

Psalm 19

Psalm 34 

Psalm 90

Psalm 91

Psalm 135 

Psalm 136 

Psalm 33 

Psalm 92

Psalm 93