Learn with Hadar
Halakhah Intensive

Halakhah Intensive

Hadar and Hebrew College's Halakhah Intensive

May 22-26, 2022

Kehilat Romemu
176 W 105th St, New York, NY 10025

Registration fee is on a sliding scale of $180-$540.

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Overview

 

Hadar and Hebrew College's Halakhah Intensive features a week of rich, rigorous, and meaningful learning on a particular Halakhic theme. Led by Rabbi Aviva Richman, Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg, and Rabbi Ethan Tucker, this year’s Halakhah Intensive will explore the concept of tevilah (ritual immersion).

This immersive learning program is designed for people who have had significant prior exposure to Jewish texts and are comfortable navigating these texts independently.

Most of the programming will take place in-person. For those unable to attend in person, there will be a virtual morning shiur.

Participation is contingent on strict adherence to relevant Covid-19 safety regulations including showing proof of vaccination. More information about Covid-19 and safety policies can be found on the FAQ page.

Hadar is proud to have the support of Mayyim Hayyim in putting on this year's Halakhah Intensive.

 

This Year's Theme

 

Ritual Immersion: Mitzvah, Minhag, Meanings

This year’s Halakhah Intensive will examine the Halakhot of tevilah, ritual immersion related to niddah (anchored primarily in Yoreh Deah, Siman 197.) Rich in its capacity to inspire as well as frustrate, this enigmatic, contested, and deeply personal ritual continues to bear relevance for Jews worldwide. During our learning, we will trace the origins and development of various aspects of the immersion practice and engage with such questions as: To what extent is there a “mitzvah” to immerse and why immerse at night? When we adopt an honest, dynamic and sensitive approach to halakhah, what pathways emerge for a meaningful practice of immersion?

 

Faculty

 

Rabbi Tali Adler is a member of the Hadar faculty. A musmekhet of Yeshivat Maharat and alumna of Stern College for Women, Rabbi Adler has studied at a number of institutions including Hadar, Drisha, and Midreshet HaRova.

 

Rabbi David Kasher serves as an Associate Rabbi at IKAR, in Los Angeles. He grew up bouncing back and forth between Berkeley and Brooklyn, hippies and hassidim – and has been trying to synthesize these two worlds ever since. He received his BA at Wesleyan University, holds a J.S.D. from Berkeley Law, and rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Kasher is a teacher of nearly all forms of classical Jewish literature, but his greatest passion is Torah commentary, and he spent five years producing the weekly ParshaNut blog and podcast, exploring the riches of the genre. Check out his new podcast, also on the parsha: ‘Best Book Ever.’

 

Rabbi Aviva Richman is a Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar, and has been on the faculty since 2010. A graduate of Oberlin College, she studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars' Circle and was ordained by Rabbi Danny Landes. She completed a doctorate in Talmud at NYU. Interests include Talmud, Halakhah, Midrash and gender, and also a healthy dose of niggunim.

 

Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum serves on the faculty of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, where she teaches rabbinic and halakhic literature. Shani holds a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and received rabbinic ordination from her teachers at Hebrew College. She has studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum, Matan, Beit Midrash Har’el, Yeshivat Hadar, and in the Pardes Kollel and has taught Talmud, Halakha and Midrash through Open Circle Jewish Learning. Shani has previously served on the programming teams of several organizations pursuing justice through a Jewish lens, including Jerusalem-based non-profits Encounter and OLAM, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

 

Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz is Hadar's incoming Director of Tefillah and Music. An educator, practitioner, and facilitator of Jewish communal prayer, Deborah serves and supports communities and individuals who seek to deepen, sharpen, and unlock their practice of empowered song and tefila. As a musician, Deborah has partnered creatively with a diverse array of voices in the Jewish soundscape; in addition to collaborating on over two dozen albums, she released her first record of original spiritual music, The Narrow and the Expanse, in 2020 on Rising Song Records. Beloved ongoing artistic collaborations include Joey Weisenberg's Hadar Ensemble, R. Josh Warshawsky's Chaverai Nevarech, and New Moon Rising with Elana Arian and Chava Mirel (album due for release summer 2022.) Deborah received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also earned her MA in Women and Gender Studies. She holds degrees in music and religious anthropology from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Deborah's work at www.deborahsacksmintz.com.

 

Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg is faculty at Hadar. He received rabbinic ordination both from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and from his teacher, Rav Elisha Ancselovits. He also holds a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Micha’el has served as associate professor of rabbinics at Hebrew College, and as the rabbi of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center in Washington Heights. He is the author of Signs of Virginity: Testing Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2018), and with Rabbi Ethan Tucker, he is the co-author of Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law (Ktav, 2017).

 

Rabbi Ethan Tucker is President and Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan also directs Hadar’s Center for Jewish Law and Values. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a doctorate in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. He is the author, along with Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg, of Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law (2017). Ethan serves as a trustee of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

 

Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish is faculty at Hadar and a Senior Coach for Pedagogy of Partnership. She is completing her PhD in Rabbinics at Harvard University. Her interests include rabbinic approaches to gender, parenting, and education. She has published several articles, including, "Upending the Curse of Eve: Reframing Maternal Breastfeeding in BT Ketubot" (2017). Rabbi Walfish has taught Tanakh, Talmud, and Jewish Law in numerous settings including the Conservative Yeshiva, Hadar, Harvard University, Hebrew College, and the National Havurah Committee's summer institute. She revels in the process of learning Torah with and from her students.

 

Sample Schedule

 

In-Person Schedule

 

Virtual Track

 

Session Titles and Descriptions

 

Opening Shiur

Purity and Permission: What Are We Doing When We’re Doing Immersion?
When most people think of ritual immersion, they likely imagine it as a person’s attempt to remove impurity and “become pure.” But many classical sources imply other meanings and purposes for immersion. So what are we trying to do when we submerge ourselves in a ritually approved body of water? Get clean? Achieve spiritual purity? Ritually mark a status change? In order to begin answering these questions, we will learn sources about whether intent is required for immersion and what that might mean for the significance of immersion generally.
R. Micha'el Rosenberg

Shiur Klali

Birkat ha-Tevilah: Body and Blessing
Generally when we recite a blessing, halakhah requires that our bodies be clothed and not exposed. Yet the brachah for tevilah involves reciting God's name surrounding a state of exposure. We will explore sources that present detailed discussions of how to navigate this "anomaly" both through the timing and specific ways to recite birkat ha-tevilah. We will ask what is at stake in these details, and what it could look like to claim this practice in a way that embraces embodiment and dignity.

Daily Shiruim

Setting the Stakes: Is Immersion Halakhically Required?
In traditionalist communities, immersion at the end of niddah is taken for granted as necessary to permit sexual relations. Yet the textual source for such an assumption is by no means clear; the Torah does not explicitly mandate immersion at the end of niddah, and though the Rabbis explicitly fill in that gap, medieval and early modern commentators address the theoretical possibility that such an immersion is required only in order to permit contact with sacred goods, but not for sexual relations. We will open our learning about immersion by sinking deeply into the various interpretations and rationales these commentators offer for nonetheless requiring immersion prior to resuming sexual relations.

The “Right” Time Part I: Tevilah Bizmanah
Is there such a thing as “mikveh night”? That is to say, must a menstruating person go to the mikveh as soon as they are halakhically allowed to do so? What if that day falls on Shabbat, when some preparations for immersion (and immersion itself) are halakhically complicated, if not outright forbidden? As we explore these sources we will think through what is at stake in the rigidity or flexibility around which day to go to the mikveh.

The “Right” Time Part II: Night vs. Day
Most (though certainly not all) contemporary mikva’ot are open for “women’s hours'' at night, and “men’s hours'' during the daytime. Unsurprisingly, this gendered divide creates both principled and logistical challenges for many. On our final day of the seminar, we will learn the sources that have led to this common distinction, consider seriously the paths not taken (which those very same sources also describe), and try to understand why the dominant practice became what we now know.

Elective Sessions

Halakhah and Integrity: Egalitarian Tefillah (for college students)
How do we approach halakhah in a way that resonates with our sense of integrity? Through the case study of egalitarianism and prayer, we’ll explore what it means to feel accountable to halakhah, viewing halakhic sources as meaningful expressions of wisdom rather than obstacles to be worked around.
R. Ethan Tucker

Mikveh - Beyond Marriage?
Much of the halakhic canon about the practice of tevilah is focused on mikveh as it interfaces with intimacy in marriage. What does it mean to consider the potential relevance of mikveh outside the context of marriage? Where does a halakhic history of resistance to mikveh practice outside of marriage come from? We’ll study core sources that touch on issues of mikveh, relationships and intimacy in non-marital contexts, and ask how the ideas in the texts might or might not intersect with our own questions.
R. Aviva Richman

Re-imagining Mikveh Guides: The Mayyim Hayyim Model
According to the Shulchan Aruch, the only halakhic responsibility of a witness is to let the person immersing know that their entire body, and all hair, has gone under the water. Why, then, is there so often a disconnect between the text and real-life experience that leaves visitors to the mikveh feeling scrutinized, alienated, and angry? What other ways are there and what possibilities might exist when we re-envision this role? Learn about Mayyim Hayyim’s Mikveh Guide model and the critical role Mikveh Guides play in witnessing not only the kashrut of the immersion itself but also bearing witness in a simpler and more profound sense: accompanying, acknowledging, and honoring the sanctity of another human being in a time of transition.
Carrie Bornstein

Mapping The Rishonim
In this session we will interactively construct a map of the most significant figures in medieval Talmudic interpretation and halakhic decision making, while filling in historical context. Bring a pen, paper, and a phone camera!
R. Ethan Tucker

Immersing in Song: Nigunim as Sonic Guide
How might we encounter the power of song as signpost and guide through moments of immersive ritual? We'll explore several nigunim that may serve as tools in accompanying us through ritual practice that may at once empower and challenge - tevilah and beyond.
Deborah Sacks Mintz

Primordial Waters: The Evolving Image of the Mikveh in Tanakh
The mikveh has become such a standard institution in Jewish life that we tend to associate it only with its functional uses in a community. But the image of the mikveh has a long history, one that stretches back far before it had any ritual function. A literary study of how that image appears in our sacred texts can provide us with a broader perspective on the symbolism of water immersion.
R. David Kasher

Optional Lunch Sessions

Mayyim Hayyim: Thirst/Quench
Using Mayyim Hayyim’s approach to mikveh, we will explore the impact of place and space on kavanah. How might our kavanah deepen or disappear, depending on external and internal factors? We will also share our own water and/or immersion stories through poetry, writing, and visual art.
R. Amalia Mark

Lunch Session for College Students
Meet other college students at the seminar and get to know about each other’s Jewish journeys and interests in halakhah and Torah.
R. Micha’el Rosenberg

Haburah Learning
Spend an evening with a small group exploring a specific halakhic topic with one of Hadar's advanced kollel students. You'll be able to select your topic of interest (TBA).
Hadar’s Advanced Kollel

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is it for me?

This Intensive is designed for learners who have had prior exposure to Jewish texts and are comfortable navigating a variety of classical Jewish texts in the original language on their own. This experience is designed to give students a deep, text-based understanding of the ideas and questions at stake. It is an excellent resource for rabbis, rabbinical students, graduate students, or others looking to expand their understanding of the Halakhic process.

New this year: special sessions for college students! Join together with other college students and recent grads to delve into the halakhot of tevilah. Alongside our various sessions open to the wider public, we are including a special elective, specifically for college students, on Hadar’s approach to halakhah and integrity and the implications that has for egalitarianism and prayer. We will also facilitate a lunch session where students can meet one another and get to know about each other’s Jewish journeys and interests in halakhah and Torah. College students are invited to participate at a discounted rate of $72. Please email [email protected] for more information. 

What precautions are you taking around Covid-19?

  • While case numbers throughout much of the US remain low, rates are increasing in some places, and intensive attendees will be coming from communities with varied case rates and preventive measures. We encourage each participant to make the best decision for their own health and safety. Please be advised that Hadar cannot provide medical care or extensive support for any attendees that may test positive for COVID while at the Halakhah Intensive.
  • All participants must show proof of vaccination against Covid-19, including a booster shot, in order to attend the in-person elements of the intensive.
  • If you feel unwell or experience COVID-related symptoms in the seven days prior to the intensive, you should not attend, regardless of any test results. If a member of your household is unwell, is experiencing COVID-related symptoms, or currently has COVID, you should not attend, regardless of any test results.
  • No masking or physical distancing measures will be required during the intensive. If you would like to wear a mask during the intensive, you are warmly encouraged to do so. We reserve the right to change protocol and/or cancel the program. In the event of cancellation, we will offer a full refund.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about our Covid-19 policy feel free to reach out to [email protected].

When is it?

May 22-26, 2022

Where is it?

The intensive will take place at Kehilat Romemu, located at 176 W 105th St, New York, NY 10025. 

Please note that this location does not have an elevator and will require the regular use of 3-4 flights of stairs. If that poses an issue for you please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Am I expected to attend every part of the program?

The program is structured to enable students to comprehensively and intensively engage with a particular halakhic topic. The more a student participates in provided programming, the more they will take away from their studies.

Please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] with any questions!

How are the days structured?

The learning at this Intensive will be partially teacher-facilitated and partially independent. Please see the schedule tab for a deeper look at the program structure. There will be a few different learning and teaching modes:

Seder and Shiur

  • Introduction: Each day will open with a brief introduction to that day’s material.
  • Seder: Participants will have the option to learn primary sources on their own or with a havruta. There will be a faculty available for some of this time for textual reading support.
  • Shiur: There will be a shiur led by members of our faculty. We will also be offering a virtual Shiur for those who cannot attend in-person.

Can I bring a havruta? Will you provide one?

If possible, we highly recommend bringing a havruta to this program so that you will be able to learn together. If that is not possible, we will do our best to match you with someone else looking for a havruta.

Is there a fee?

The fee for this program is a sliding scale of $180-$540. Tuition includes access to the full range of programming, daily breakfast and lunch, and dinner when programming runs into the evening. Payment for this program will go towards program materials, food, and making sure that our staff and faculty are adequately compensated for their time.

We believe that finances should not be an obstacle to participation and want to make sure that all who wish to learn with use will be able to. Please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected]hadar.org if finances pose an obstacle to participation.

Are scholarships available?

Yes! Please do not let cost be an obstacle to participate in our Halakhah Intensive. If you are interested in this program and cost is an issue, please reach out to us at [email protected] and we will make it work. We are committed to not turning anyone away because of finances.

What is your cancellation policy?

If you need to cancel your registration for any reason, a full refund is available until the first day of the intensive.

I cannot join an in-person intensive, will there be a virtual option?

We are offering a Virtual Track that will be held alongside our in-person shiurim. The cost to register is a sliding scale of $18-$72.
On Monday and Tuesday, May 23-24, we will have a virtual Seder where you can learn alone or in havruta from 9:15-11:15 AM Eastern. A Shoel U'meshiv will be available to offer help and answer any questions. Also on Monday and Tuesday, at 2:30-3:00 PM Eastern, there will be a virtual shiur with R. Tali Adler. This shiur will assume that you prepared the materials ahead of time, either in the designated Seder slot, or on your own. On Wednesday, May 25, we will stream the shiur klali live from the in-person intensive.
Explore the Virtual Track schedule.

How can I find out more?

We’d love to tell you more about this program! Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions.

 

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