Friday, April 25, 2014

Nechemia's Character Traits

Based on our learning so far, choose a character trait of Nechemia and choose a Biblical or post-Biblical Jewish personality/leader of your choice who you think also exemplifies this particular trait. Explain how both Nechemia and the person you have chosen share the trait. Please come up with your own match and do not use characters that have already been used by previous posts.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Completion of the Second Beit Hamikdash

Imagine yourself living in Eretz Yisrael at the time of the completion of the Second Beit Hamikdash. Write a one paragraph letter to a cousin of yours still living in the Persian Empire at the time describing your feelings at being at the dedication of the Mikdash. Include the obstacles, challenges, hopes and disappointments that you went through as well as the prophecies of Chaggai and Zechariah and how they relate to the completion of the Mikdash.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dealing with Partially Fulfilled Prophetic Responses

In class we examined how B'nai Yisrael were unsure whether the building of the Second Beit Hamikdash truly represented the fulfillment of Prophetic promises, given all that seemed still unfulfilled. Today, many Jews have similar concerns and questions about our return to Eretz Yisrael and the status of Medinat Yisrael.  Read "The Meaning of Yom Ha'atzmaut" by Rabbi Moshe Ganz (Go to and find his article under Yom Haatzmaut To-Go 5771) and 
"Reishit Tzemichat Ge'ulatenu:What Kind of Redemption Does Israel Represent?" by Rav Yehuda Amital, z"l ( 

1) How do Rabbi Ganz and Rav Amital address the issue of partially fulfilled promises? What do they say is the appropriate response? 
2) What for them has indeed been fulfilled and what has not been fulfilled? 
3) What is your view - How do you understand the State of Israel today vis-a-vis the promises of the Neviim? 
4)  In general, what is the take-home message for us from Zechariah and from Rabbis Ganz and Amital about our dreams and hopes? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Situation during Bayit Sheni vs. the Situation Today

In class we looked at seven reasons given by Abarbanel as to why the Jews thought less of the second Mikdash period. Choose two of those reasons and discuss whether and how they may or may not apply today.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Zechariah's Night Visions

Reflect on the class presentations today which outlined the different visions that Zechariah received. Consider one theme that emerges from the visions and answer the following questions:

1) What is the theme/message?
2) Why did B'nai Yisrael need to hear this particular message at this particular point in time?
3) Why is this message ״הוצרכה לדורות״?

Please do not choose a theme/message that has already been chosen by others.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Understanding G-d's Role in History

In class we discussed the Radak's view in Sefer Chaggai  that Bnei Yisrael should have realized that the failures around them were a result of their having failed to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash. Reflect on how Bnei Yisrael, then, and us, today, were/are to understand G-d's role in history:

1) Why do you think the Radak would have expected Bnei Yisrael to understand the connection between the drought/other difficulties and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. If there was no Nevua, why would we even expect them to see the relationship?
2) How should we, today, interpret world events? How are we supposed to know if and when HaShem is sending us a message?
a) Read "The God Who is Revealed Through Historical Events: Rav Kook, Rav Amital, and the Interpretation of History" by Moshe Maya - What is Rav Amital's perspective (s)?
b)  Read "The Religious Significance of the State of Israel" By Rabbi Yair Spitz (he was in Memphis for a few years) What is Rabbi Spitz's criteria for seeing G-d's hand in history? 
c) What is your perspective? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Overcoming Challenges

Reflect on the challenges we discussed in class that faced Bnei Yisrael soon after their return to Eretz Yisrael: Enemies thwarting building efforts, Royal opposition, Unfulfilled hopes regarding Zerubavel and sovereignty and building of Mikdash, Despair over comparison between First and Second Beit HaMikdash, Lack of funds/economic uncertainty, Lack of prophecy/inspiration/leadership, Small number of returnees, Weak Jewish life/community. Choose one of these challenges and discuss how it applies to the Jewish community today. How is the challenge holding us back today? How can we move beyond it? What do we need to do to overcome the obstacle and achieve our goal? We don't have Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi today - what assets do we have?