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Berkeley Talmud Circle – Fall 2020

We began our study of Ta’anit in a time of drought and have continued through our current pandemic. This tractate begins with the practices and themes of fast days, covering both communal fasts and private and individual fasts. The fasts were often responses to drought and pestilence. It has been an astonishingly relevant study.

This narrative section of the Talmud, in the words of Julia Watts Belser, “overturns expected hierarchies of gender, piety, and social status to challenge the theological significance of hunger, suffering, and abundance.” She writes, “These narratives blunt the moral condemnation inherent in disaster – and suggest that blessing often lies beneath the surface of apparent misfortune.” The Talmud asserts that an interpretation of events exercises a powerful influence over experience.

We will complete Ta’anit this year and continue with Tractate Megillah, found in the same volume. Tractate Megillah opens with various laws of the holiday of Purim, as well as laws relating to the sanctity of the synagogue and public Torah readings. Purim occurs while Jews are in exile and threats are real but their causes are hidden, just like droughts and pestilence. And God is never mentioned in Megillah and yet to the Rabbis, ever-present, but the relationship is more distant and complicated. Sound familiar?

If you are new to Talmud study please join us on August 30th at 10 am for an introduction and the perfect gateway into the Talmud Circle program.

Sunday, September 13, 2020 thru Sunday, June 6, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
See session list below for specific session times and locations.

All sessions

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As a nonprofit, we rely on tuition to help cover the direct cost of our course offerings. We also offer a tiered pricing structure to ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation. The 100% tier is the full cost of the course. Please evaluate your own ability to pay and select the option that makes it possible for you to participate.

Need more info?

If you have any questions about this course or would like to ask about joining after the start date, please email info@hmqm.org.