Torah Study: The Power of Interpretation
For centuries, Torah study has been a central religious activity for Jews the world over. In fact, one could argue that the interpretation of the Torah (The Five Books of Moses) and of the TaNaKh (The Hebrew Bible) has been the quintessential form of Jewish creativity.
Rabbi Arthur Green writes that, “Judaism is a civilization built around a text.” Following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Hebrew Bible became, in Green’s words, the “new sacred center around which all of Judaism revolved.”
It was through the careful and creative readings of sacred Jewish writings that the sages of the early centuries of the Common Era developed the foundations of Jewish law, ethics, ritual, and theology.
Torah study—including the vast body of commentary—is still regarded by many as a vital spiritual practice that provides us with the opportunity to explore a range of existential issues in conversation with voices from the present and the past.
In this unit, we will explore various aspects of Jewish text study, including the dynamic relationship between established ideas and new interpretations, the power of study with a partner and within the context of a community of interpreters, and the relationship of text study to action.
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