About The Program

For any woman who wants to advance her learning, our Bet Midrash is open to all age groups and levels. Through guided self-study, varying courses will enable students to develop both a breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding according to our Sephardic tradition. For those choosing to follow the educational path, our program will ensure a mastery of content and skill. A firm foundation that will empower them to not only teach Torah, but to inspire others as well.

Head of Bet Midrash: Rabbi Albert Setton

Bet Midrash Schedule

Bet Midrash Objectives

Content

  • Mastery of the basic fundamentals of the Jewish library- Tanach, Practical Halacha Le’maa’seh, and philosophy of the Rambam.
  • These basics will be supplemented with knowledge of Rashi and Ramban’s commentary on the Torah, and the basics of Torah Shebe’al Peh.
  • Through the study of Tanach, Students will be introduced to the ethical and moral questions addressed by Hazal and Jewish thinkers throughout the generations. This will create a strong foundation of the basic tenets of Machshevet Yisrael.
  • Through the Halacha study students will gain an understanding of historical events that influenced the Jewish communities throughout the diaspora. The class will enable the student to understand the Halachic process: how Halacha develops from the gemara through the Rishonim and Acharonim, the weight given to various different concerns, and appreciation of when to be flexible and when not to be.
  • Over the three years, students will cover Mishneh Torah Sefer Mada/ Ahava/ majority of Zemanim and select units of Halachot elsewhere (ie-hilchot melachim).
  • In Navi, the students will cover all of Nevi’im, along with Sefer Tehilim/Rut/Esther/Eicha/Ezra from the Ketubim.

Skills

  • Students will learn how to independently delve into Tanach and its commentaries, Rambam, Shulhan Aruch, and the halachic works of modern day poskim.
  • Students will learn to navigate the greater Jewish library, including the Talmud and its basic commentaries.
  • Students will gain knowledge of biblical hebrew vocabulary and grammar, and legal/halachic terminology.
  • Students will be able to prepare original Torah thoughts by using the skills of literary analysis, biblical commentary, and Machshevet Yisrael.
  • Students will be able to present Torah values and ideas in a comprehensible and relevant way to 21th century thinking.
  • Students will be able to feel confident about their mastery of Torah and be able to answer questions in an intelligent manner that fits within an overall Torah framework

Course Descriptions

  • All Torah courses will focus upon:
    • An understanding of the text of the Torah in its original language, including understanding of biblical roots and grammar. 
    • Students will learn how to read the two preeminent commentators on the Torah, Rashi and Ramban
    • They will gain sensitivity to linguistic, moral, and philosophical issues addressed by the commentators and learn how to find them in the text independently. 
    • They will gain the ability to weigh different viewpoints in textual interpretation. 
    • Students will acquire the ability to translate the morals and ethics of the text within a modern twenty-first century context and understand the relevance of the text to our Jewish identity.  
  • Special focus will be placed upon philosophical debates between the Ramban and the Rambam as they appear in the commentary.     
  • Relevant philosophical issues that stem from individual stories of the text will be addressed
  • Each book will focus on different philosophical and thematic ideas. The uniqueness of each of the five sefarim will be emphasized as well.
  • Special attention will be given to ‘contradictions’ and repetitive information as appears within the text.
  • Nevi’im Rishonim
    • Familiarize and address various ethical and moral dilemmas that arise from stories of the Navi.
    • Address the relationship between Am Yisrael and Hashem.
    • Use the Navi to further develop and show the manifestation of the ideas of the Torah.
  • Nevi’im Aharonim
    • Introduce the historical backgrounds and challenges of the different prophets.
    • Study the famous and important prophecies that lay the framework of Jewish ethics, morals, and philosophy.
    • Address the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 through the lens of the prophets.
    • Demonstrate how these prophecies are relevant to our lives today and teach how to unlock those messages.
    • Comparative analysis: compare and contrast various different prophetic messages based on their time period, audience and issue being addressed.
  • This course will be divided into two main components:
    • Present a strong foundation of necessary halachot in the areas of prayer and blessings, shabbat and holidays, and kashrut. 
    • Establish a strong foundation of basic Jewish philosophy through the study of Mada and Hilchot Melachim. 
  • The halachot will be supplemented with rulings of Shulhan Aruch and later day halachic authorities so the students will know the practiced halacha where it differs from the Rambam’s ruling. Through learning the Rambam, students will have a full appreciation of the laws being discussed. 
  • The philosophical ideas will be supplemented from other writings of the Rambam himself and dissenting opinions of the Kuzari and Ramban. More modern day thought pieces (by Rabbi Eliezer Berkowitz, Rabbi Soloveitchik, Rabbi Lichtenstein, and Rabbi Sacks) relevant to the issues will also be presented for a fuller understanding of the issue. The Rambam’s thoughts will serve as both a springboard for discussion and a solid bedrock for a basic formulation of Jewish thought. 
  • All halachic responsa courses will have a united focus. They will:
    • Introduce the students to the timeline of halacha and the prominent figures in each generation and location.
    • Enable the students to appreciate day to day life and the religious challenges in different time periods of Jewish history.
    • Show the students the myriad of potential interpretations of one statement.
    • Demonstrate how halacha is extrapolated from past rulings.
    • Create an understanding of why some halachot are not always clear cut but rather  conditional. 
    • Help students understand why different Rabbis have different opinions.
  • Each course will also add a special focus based on the specific course subject:
    • The responsa of both Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Hacham Ovadia Yosef will highlight different halachic approaches of sephardic and ashkenaz communities. Additionally, they will reflect the different realities of the American and Israeli communities in the late 20th century. 
    • The responsa relating to medicine and technology and the State of Israel will demonstrate the relevance of halacha to our modern lives. Students will understand how halacha ingeniously uses old case precedents and applies them to a completely new reality.
    • The responsa relating to women in Jewish law will enable students to appreciate different ‘meta halachic’ concerns and issues addressed in the various teshuvot. It will also focus on addressing the larger question of the role of women in Judaism today. 

The Torah shebe’al peh courses are designed to introduce  students to the world of Hazal.  

  • Introductions to mishnah, gemara, and midrash will be presented. 
  • Their role in simultaneously preserving and passing down laws and traditions from past generations, while also innovating and creating new legislation, will be addressed. 
  • The introductory courses will explore the scope of the powers of Hazal to interpret and develop new law.
  • Later courses will then attempt to address issues of how Hazal related to both the written law and other knowledge of the time. 
  • Many texts will be selected and discussed in order to allow the students to gain familiarity and skill in reading these texts, while also giving them the flavor of the talmudic thought process. 

ALLEGRA FRANCO EST 2000

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