Curated by Rabbi Shai Held and Hadar’s Faculty
March 6-9, 2022
This program will be held in-person in Manhattan.
Hadar’s Rabbinic Yeshiva Intensive (RYI) aims to refill the spiritual and intellectual wells of rabbis from across the denominational and geographical spectrum through text study and meaningful conversation. Curated by Rabbi Shai Held and facilitated by Hadar’s faculty, RYI offers a remarkable space for rabbis of all backgrounds to come together to learn resonant and relevant Torah in Hadar’s beit midrash.
Far from being a professional skills workshop, RYI enables Rabbis who love to learn Torah but have a thousand daily commitments and responsibilities to engage their passion for Jewish content and conversation.
Opening Seder and Shiur
When Your Torah Doesn’t Belong: The Many Lives of Rav Nehorai
R. Tali Adler
What happens when your community can’t accept your Torah? The Gemara explores this question through the story of Rav Nehorai, who is identified with two sages: Rabbi Eliazar ben Arach and Rabbi Meir. In this session we will study these stories and what they teach about how to live with the heartbreak of being out of sync with your Torah community, and the costs of deciding where you belong.
Atonement through Exile: Where do we find ourselves?
R. Tali Adler
Can exile help us atone? This concept, laid out in tractates Sanhedrin and Makkot, can feel out of reach in our world which is more connected and, at the same time, less rooted than perhaps ever before. We will study the core sugyot and Jewish thought around the idea of exile as a route to atonement, and try to understand what this concept might mean to us today.
Close Enough to Touch?
R. Avi Strausberg
How close can we get to God? Massekhet Sukkah teaches us that the minimum height for the sukkah is derived from the height of the aron. Just as God rests upon the aron, so too God rests upon the sukkah. In this two-part session, we will explore sugyot from Sukkah and Shabbat, that offer different midrashic readings on the same enigmatic verse from Job (26:9). Join us as we explore the verse's original meaning in Job as well as how it's used similarly and differently in Sukkah and Shabbat to ultimately ask: can we ever get close enough to touch God or are we forever separated by an invisible boundary?
A Dynamic Approach to Niddah: History, Ethics, Ritual
R. Aviva Richman
In this class we will take a multi-dimensional approach to the practice of Niddah, asking what we can learn about the intimate intersection between halakhah and our bodies. We will examine the topic of harhakot - creating boundaries between a couple during niddah - as well as the question of timing to go to the mikvah. Through attentiveness to the development of halakhah, windows into social practices over time, and insights from contemporary feminist thought, we will sharpen tools to more clearly shape pathways for this dynamic tradition to uplift our embodied lives.
Making Up for Lost Prayers: A Talmudic Passage and its Practical Implications
R. Ethan Tucker
We will study the first sugya of Bavli Berakhot chapter 4, in depth. This passage deals primarily with the question of making up for missed prayers and cuts to the core of what we are doing when we pray. Are we fulfilling an obligation? Maintaining a discipline? Attaining spiritual heights specific to certain times of the day? This session will integrate academic and traditional methods and we will emerge with both a historical appreciation of the sugya along with a deep sense of the values that underlie it and subsequent halakhah on this topic.
Who Needs Whom? Dependence and Independence in the Divine-Human Relationship
R. Avital Hochstein
In this unit we will study a number of Talmudic passages which will take us on an emotional, intellectual, and theological journey. These passages are concerned with relationships: what it means to build and create something with someone else, striking the balance between trusting and setting boundaries, and how complex it is to be dependent - specifically in the realm of the relationship humans have with God. The Talmud moves through a number of places, both concrete and abstract: from the Mishkan to the Torah, from Sinai to the Beit Midrash, from the past to the present and from the raw material and even the letters of the Torah themselves. The discussion moves beyond basic structures and simple ideas in order to deeply contemplate what the place is and the role is of a person in God's world and God's word.
Shemittah: An Exploration of Interpretations and Methodologies
R. Ethan Tucker
We are now many months into shemittah, the once-in-seven sabbatical year that defines the Jewish relationship to the land of Israel. But we are also very far from the agrarian, subsistence farming society in which this mitzvah first emerged. What is the force of this mitzvah today? And what do our answers reveal about how we read our normative texts and why? We will look closely at rabbinic material on this topic, mining it as much for hermeneutic models as for practical conclusions. Bring your curiosity and your questions about how halakhah can and should be applied across time.
What If Shir Ha-Shirm (The Song of Songs) Is Really (Also) an Allegory After All?
R. Shai Held
Until modern times, the dominant Jewish (and Christian) interpretation of Shir Ha-Shirim was that it was an allegory whose real subject was the love between God and Israel. Modern readers have often been dismissive of this approach, seeing it as an overly pious attempt to domesticate an erotic poem about human love. But in recent years, a small group of scholars has begun to ask: might this well-loved text about love be an allegory after all? Or, better yet, might it be meant to be read both literally and allegorically? In this session, we'll explore the many allusions in Shir Ha-Shirim to other biblical texts in an attempt to find out.
Morning Musical Preparation
Deborah Sacks Mintz
Kick off your day with music! We will sing a song or two to distinguish RYI from the routine of our lives and prepare for a full day of learning ahead.
Esther: An Afterlife
R. Tali Adler
While Esther may be the closest thing Tanakh has to a "secular" hero, later Jewish texts, from midrash to Iberian crypto-Jewish writings, see her as a deeply religious figure. We will study a survey of texts that center Esther as a spiritual model and attempt to understand what is gained and lost with her religious transformation.
Hidden in the Cleft: Let Me Hear Your Voice
R. Avi Strausberg
In this session, we'll turn to a modern feminist midrash and Israeli poetry to search for God in a post-Holocaust world. Mining verses from Songs of Songs, we'll explore themes of absence and longing, hiddenness and revelation, as well as power and powerlessness. Through this textual exploration, we'll ask, "Where is God in human suffering?" and "Why doesn't God intervene to save us?"
Tochechah: Torah's Vision of a Feedback Rich Culture
R. Aviva Richman
Confronting someone about their behavior can be fraught as we anticipate the potential for anger and defensiveness, or discovering our assumptions were wrong. Being confronted about our own behavior can be even more uncomfortable. It can be much easier to avoid feedback altogether. Through Talmud study, we will explore our sages' complex embrace of feedback, between peers, towards superiors, and even towards God.
Covenant: An Analysis and Assessment of Judaism's Main Method
R. Yitz Greenberg
Covenant - a partnership between God and humanity and between the generations to repair the world - is a core idea/value in Judaism. But covenant is more than an idea, it is no less than the central method by which the religion operates.
Judaism marries a utopian, radical vision of world transformation with a ‘conservative’, incremental method of working to achieve the goal. The promised main outcome will be a planet in which there is full equality and justice for all - across all lines of race, gender, class, religion, and nationality. The goal is to overcome poverty, hunger, oppression, war, and sickness and then treat every human being as an image of God - that is, of infinite value, equal, and unique. But the improvement method ‘compromises’ with the real world. It foreswears coercion and allows for political dissent and ideological diversity. A covenantal society has more policy conflicts,competing parties and diverse ideologies. This makes for a more complex public discourse and frequent swings in governance.
This course will argue that Jewish utopianism has avoided the dictatorships and coercive oppression that modern revolutionary movements (Communism, Nazism, Maoism, etc.) have inflicted- precisely because the covenant method is more limited in its demands and more respectful of humans and of historical tradition. As a result, covenant works more slowly - but, in the end, more surely - for a complete redemption of humanity.
Those Who Rest During the Week, Must Work on Shabbat
One of the not surprising surprises of being a Rabbi is that, somewhat ironically and often quite reluctantly, the Rabbi almost always works on Shabbat. R' Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye, author of the first published work of Hasidism, the Toldot Yaakov Yosef, recognizes that this is a fundamental way in which the life of a Rabbi and the life of a scholar looks different from the life of the other professionals in their community. He speaks directly to the way that the type of professional you are impacts your relationship to studying Torah and he unpacks the way in which these different relationships to Torah transform each person's experience of Shabbat.
Pilegesh Be-Giv'ah: Confronting the Horror of Judges 19
R. Shai Held
The story of the concubine at Gibeah is one of the most horrific and disturbing stories in Tanakh. In this session, we'll do a close reading of the text, paying attention to literary, theological, and-- above all-- ethical issues in the text. We'll seek to uncover the narrator's perspective on the story; we'll ask what this text is doing in Tanakh and how we might relate to it. We'll engage with traditional parshanim and modern critical scholars, with a special focus on feminist engagements with the text.
Jewish Jails? Incarceration in Rabbinic Literature
R. Micha'el Rosenberg
Rabbinic literature regularly talks about the death penalty; the mishnaic statement that a court that executes a person once every 70 years may be one of the most famous texts in the Rabbinic canon. By contrast, the Rabbis rarely talk about incarceration, making it hard for us to picture whether and how jails might have functioned for Jews in late antiquity (whether in reality or only in the Rabbinic imagination). We will study the relatively few texts that talk about Rabbinic courts incarcerating people, juxtaposing them with Rabbinic depictions of gentile-run jails. For the Rabbis, what, if anything, is the point of incarceration? What are its benefits, and what are its risks? And can these Rabbinic discussions inform our own thinking about modern incarceration?
Shemittah and Sustainability and the Differences Between
R. Avital Hochstein
This year is the seventh year, the Shemittah. In this class we'll ask the question of what the practice of Shemittah can teach us about sustainability. We'll encounter a number of different lessons about Shemittah from the Torah and follow the ways they were translated by the Rabbinic tradition and Rabbinic literature. We will focus on the concept of Kedushat Shevi'it, the holiness of the seventh year and examine its foundational principles and see how this concept has been actualized in the Halakhic literature. What do all of these texts and ideas have to say to us as they increase our awareness of our fundamental insecurity and impending catastrophe when it comes to our environment.
For Love is as Fierce as Death: Modern Women's Midrash as a Tool for Reading our Most Difficult Texts
R. Avi Killip
The #metoo movement offered an unprecedented wave of written and oral testimony from women about their painful experiences of sexual assault and harassment. We cannot deny that our Torah also contains many similarly troubling and hurtful narratives. How should we approach these hard moments in our canon? Can midrash serve as a tool to engage with our harshest texts? In this class, we will study a modern midrash from the book Dirshuni that offers one approach to hearing, and maybe even healing from our most difficult texts. Together, we will ask how this approach may offer us guidance as we bear witness to so much pain in the wake of #metoo.
Redemption in the Daily Amidah and on Pesah
R. Elie Kaunfer
The seventh blessing of the amidah is about redemption. Why this spot in the amidah for this blessing? How does it relate to the redemption we celebrate (and hope for) on Pesah? Through a close examination of the texts of these blessings, we will open up the idea of redemption for deeper interpretation.
Can Heresy Improve Your Prayers? The Piaseczno Rebbe and the Body of God
R. Micha'el Rosenberg
In this shiur, we will first study the debate of the Rambam and the Raavad about the permissibility of imagining God embodied. We will then study a passage from the Piaseczno Rebbe's Benai Mahshavah Tovah in which he builds on the Raavad's view and actively encourages (some) students to imagine God while praying. What are the benefits, and what are the costs of such a practice? Why does this view seem so marginal in Jewish thought, and how might we incorporate it (and should we?) into our own prayer lives?
"Confrontation" and its Controversies
R. Shai Held
In 1964, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik published an essay, "Confrontation," that raised major questions about the very possibility of interfaith dialogue, and that seemed to prohibit his students from engaging in it. Over the years several thinkers have tried to reinterpret Soloveitchik's words so that they are not quite as radical as they seem. In this session, we'll first engage with "Confrontation" itself, briefly consider Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's critique of it, and then focus on (controversial) interpretations offered by Michael Wyschogrod, Shalom Carmy, and Eugene Korn. We'll ask whether and what we can still learn from Soloveitchik's essay and whether we find the reinterpretations convincing-- as pshat in Soloveitchik and/or as theological statements in their own right.
Reading the Torah Like a Love Letter: To Whom Is God Speaking?
R. Ethan Tucker
In this session, we will explore the formulations used by the Torah to introduce various mitzvot. What is the difference between saying דבר אל בני ישראל and דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אליהם? We will sharpen our understanding of how our Sages read the Torah lovingly and carefully, discovering deep meaning and opportunity for relationship in seemingly common phrases.
What Can Halakhah Teach Us About Cancel Culture?
R. Shai Held
Over the past few years heated debates have been swirling about what has come to be known as "cancel culture." What insight do Jewish texts have to offer about this phenomenon? In this session, we'll explore a series of debates about whether and under what circumstances it is permissible to learn from teachers who have fallen or strayed. We will then explore whether and how these texts could guide us in thinking through some of the most vexed questions in public life today.
Moshe and the Limitations of Genius
Moshe is the first and therefore the paradigmatic teacher of Torah. A close examination of the character of Moshe through the lens of the Torah and Rabbinic texts leads us to a perhaps surprising conclusion and insight that Moshe, though a great leader, was not a great intellect. Understanding this forces us to examine what the role is of being smart or even expert in our roles as educators and what Moshe's ordinariness can teach us about how to be effective and exceptional educators.
Taking the Torah Seriously, Not Literally
Can the literal meaning of the Torah contradict the way it is interpreted in halakhah? We’ll enter this debate through the example of tefillin. Are these passages ("as a sign upon your hand") literal or metaphorical? If they are metaphorical, does that mean the halakhah runs counter to the plain meaning of the text? What is at stake in taking either position? How do we navigate the balance between taking our holy book seriously, but not literally?
The cost of this program is $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 also 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. Therefore, we are glad to offer the intensive at reduced rates of $180 and $360. Please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] or Rabbi Shai Held at [email protected] to request further financial assistance.
Is it for me?
If you are a rabbi who loves to learn Torah and engage in Jewish content and conversation, then this program is for you! We offer classes on a variety of topics for a range of backgrounds. If you have any questions about whether this is the right program for you, please reach out to us at [email protected].
What is it like in Hadar’s Beit Midrash?
When is it?
March 6-9, 2022
How much does it cost?
The cost of this program is $540. Tuition includes access to the full range of programming, daily breakfast and lunch and dinner when programming runs into the evening. We are also offering the Intensive at reduced rates of $180 and $360. Please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] or Rabbi Shai Held at [email protected] to request further financial assistance.
Where is it?
On the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We will update this page with an exact location soon.
Can I attend part-time?
Hadar’s immersive programs are opportunities to step out of your day-to-day routine and immerse yourself in islands of Jewish content and conversation. We strongly encourage all participants to attend the totality of our programs. If you have an extenuating circumstance that prevents you from participating, please write to us at [email protected].
I cannot join an in-person intensive, will there be a virtual option?
We are currently gauging interest in a virtual day of learning for Rabbis. Please fill out the Save the Date form below to indicate your interest in this option.
What precautions are you taking around COVID-19?
- All participants must show proof of vaccination in order to register for the immersive. Unvaccinated participants will not be permitted to attend the immersive.
- At this point in time we are monitoring the situation and reserve the right to change protocol and/or cancel the program if it is unsafe to host as planned. In the event of cancellation, we will offer a full refund.
I have more questions! How can I find out more?
Please reach out to [email protected] with any additional questions.