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Hadar Institute Online Learning

Hadar Institute
299 episodes
Welcome to Hadar's online learning library, a collection of lectures and classes on a range of topics.

Disclaimer: the content and artwork of this podcast are the property of its owner and are not affiliated with nor endorsed by Audiotrails.

The Limits of Numbers

Yitz Greenberg. The book of Bemidbar starts with a census of the Jews who left Egypt and subsequently died in the wilderness. It closes with a count of the next generation which grew up during the trek and is poised to enter the land of Canaan. For the Moses and Aaron, the census was the exclamatio…

Judaism’s Utopian Vision of Universal Equality

Yitz Greenberg. Despite the biblical prophets’ outspoken calls for social justice and to end the exploitation of the poor, Jewish traditional religion in contemporary Israel and America has become mostly identified with conservative or even reactionary political and economic views. Plain and simple…

Partners With God

Yitz Greenberg. Opening the list of holidays in Parashat Emor, God instructs Moses to “speak to the children of Israel, and tell them: The feast days of the Lord, which you shall declare to be days of holy gathering—these are My feasts.” (Leviticus 23:2). The Rabbis turn this simple, straightforwar…

A Torah to Live By

Yitz Greenberg. The Talmud says that overriding Shabbat to save a life (or even only possibly save a life) is based on a fundamental principle of the Torah in our parashah, one that undergirds all the laws of the Torah. “You shall observe my statutes and rulings [in the Torah] which a person shall …

Purity-Impurity: A Code of Life and Death

Yitz Greenberg. With the destruction of the Second Temple, many of the laws of purity and impurity became moot. Furthermore, most of the biblical ritual purification ceremonies (which involved sacrifices) were no longer available. Nevertheless, if one studies our two Torah portions one can see that…

Kashrut: Eating as an Act of Choosing Life

Yitz Greenberg. Kashrut is one of the defining religious practices of Jewish tradition. Over the centuries, there has been strong criticism of the idea behind kosher food. Scoffers dismissed the laws as “Judaism of the belly.” Spirituality should be all about nurturing your mind and heart and direc…

An Exodus for Egyptians? Reading Genesis and Isaiah Together

Shai Held. You already know the story of the Israelites being redeemed from slavery in Egypt, but the Bible has other visions of exodus too. Remarkably, two of them are occasions in which Egyptians experience God's liberation themselves. Rabbi Shai Held explores the Bible’s many visions of exodus a…

Does God Want Sacrifices—or Not?

Yitz Greenberg. The various laws of sacrifices are introduced with “God spoke to Moses, saying” or equivalent words that make clear that God is instructing the Israelites to bring sacrifices. Yet there are insistent countervoices in the biblical tradition that say that God does not want sacrifices.…

The Pollution of Non-Acts

Yitz Greenberg. Life needs to be constantly affirmed and renewed. Failure in either the ethical (such as bystanding in the face of sin) or ritual realms (such as acceptance of death impurity’s presence without reasserting life) generates an atmosphere where the ability to resist sin or death is deb…

Announcement: Pre-Pesach Responsa Radio Live

Pesach is coming up and that means you might have some halakhic questions. Join us for a pre-Pesach live edition of Responsa Radio on March 18. Sign up at hadar.org/live.

Sacred Space, Sacred Time

Yitz Greenberg. Our double Torah portion tells how the various parts of the tabernacle were fashioned, describes the erection of the building, the placing of all its appurtenances in their proper places, and ends with a financial report on the amounts of precious metals used and an inventory of the…

God, as Defined by God (With a Little Help from Covenantal Friends)

Yitz Greenberg. What is God’s true nature? Loving? Just? Jealous? There is contradictory evidence in our lives and experiences. Moses experiences the extremes of unparalleled closeness to God out of common concern and communication to Israel. Then he walks on the knife’s edge of divine anger threat…

On the Priesthood, Or: Holiness is Living in the Fullness of Life

Yitz Greenberg. We are told that the key concept associated with priests is holiness. “They shall be holy to their God… You shall sanctify him [the priest]... he shall be holy to you for I—the Lord who sanctifies you—am holy.” Being holy has to do with being more like God, whose very nature is holy…

"The Torah Speaks in the Language of Humanity"

Yitz Greenberg. In the last sections of the book of Exodus, the Torah’s focus switches from the epic Exodus journey and entering into covenant. Instead, these chapters deal with the construction of the tabernacle ( mishkan ) and its appurtenances, down to the nuts and bolts. But if we look beyond t…

The Book of the Covenant

Yitz Greenberg. What is the covenant method? The utopian total transformation of nature and history will be realized through a pragmatic, human-centered, real life process. The essence of this paradoxical method is to start by affirming the value of the real world as it is and the importance of liv…

What Happened at Sinai?: From Revelation to Entering the Covenant in Love

Yitz Greenberg. Later tradition and Jewish thinkers have focused on the Sinai experience as an event of receiving Revelation. But no less important, the mountain was also the site of Israel signing on to the covenant for all time.

I've Been Offered the Covid Vaccine—Now What?

The rollout of a vaccine involves trying to answer impossible questions about prioritizing one life over another. What Jewish values are in play when thinking about this? What is my personal responsibility once the vaccine was offered to me, even if I don't think it's strictly necessary for me to t…

"Do Not Rely on a Miracle"

Yitz Greenberg. To all outward appearances, Parashat BeShallach is the archetype of the revelation of God to humanity through awe-inspiring miracles. The natural processes are so completely overturned that there is no room for doubt as to who is the Master of the Universe. At the same time, the par…

The Hebrew Calendar is the First Commandment

Yitz Greenberg. Parashat Bo contains the first commandment given to the entire Jewish people as a unit. This foreshadows the full Jewish religion where every aspect of life is guided by Torah and commandments in a covenantal partnership with God.

Reading the Psalms: Episode 5

Shai Held. Join Rabbi Shai Held for a literary and theological exploration of the Psalms. In this final episode, we dive into Psalm 42-43, a text that touches on isolation and speaks to this moment.

You Are Not Free Until You Are At Home

Yitz Greenberg. God proclaims the coming of freedom in four movements: “I shall bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt; and I will save you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments and I will take you to me to be my [covenant] people” (Exodus 6:6-7),…

The Exodus as Orienting Event

Yitz Greenberg. If the Book of Genesis is dominated by the theme of covenant, the Book of Shemot is focused on the second great motif that runs through Jewish history and religion: the journey toward redemption—that is, realization of the covenantal task of bringing about a world of dignity and fre…

Reading the Psalms: Episode 4

Shai Held. Join Rabbi Shai Held for a literary and theological exploration of the Psalms. In this episode, we dive into the wonderfully ambiguous Psalm 39.

The Covenant Between the Generations

Yitz Greenberg. Perhaps the most important revelation in the book of Genesis is that the Infinite Cosmic Ground of Being loves the “trivial”finite creatures on this puny planet—and everywhere. Therefore, God recruits humans to join a committed love relationship (covenant) for the purpose of togethe…

Responsa Radio 73: Can the essence of obligation to visit the sick and comfort mourners really be fulfilled over Zoom?

Ever wanted to know the answer to some deep and challenging questions in halakhah (Jewish law)? Join R. Avi Killip interviewing R. Ethan Tucker with questions sent in by Hadar alumni and others on all sorts of details of Jewish law. In this episode: Can the essence of obligation to visit the sick a…

Can We Save the Unity of the Jewish People?

Yitz Greenberg. Just like in ancient days when there were the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, today there are two major centers of Jewry in the world, in Israel and the Diaspora. Again, after a century of solidarity and mutual aid, political differences, geographic distance, and religious and cul…

Reading the Psalms: Episode 3

Shai Held. Join Rabbi Shai Held for a literary and theological exploration of the Psalms. In this episode, we dive into a close reading of Psalm 30, familiar to many from the daily liturgy.

Learning the Lessons of Hanukkah - Parashat Mikeitz 5781

Yitz Greenberg. The greatest challenge facing Diaspora Jewry today is the steady advance of a universal culture (modernity/post-modernity) to which more and more Jews are voluntarily assimilating. This is reminiscent of Maccabean times, although the competitive culture then turned violent and domin…

Highlighting Our Joy

Dena Weiss. We see in the debate about lighting candles a more fundamental conversation about different types of joy, excitement, and celebration. Do we want to—and should we be designing for—peak experiences, or is it better for us to emphasize everyday joy? Do we want to sacrifice now so that we …

Reading the Psalms: Episode 2

Shai Held. Join Rabbi Shai Held for a literary and theological exploration of the Psalms. In this episode, we dive into Psalm 22, a psalm of lament.