Executive Seminar
July 7-11, 2019
Tammuz 4-8, 5779

Sunday, July 7

5:30 - 6:00pm

Arrival and Registration

6:00 - 6:45pm

Welcome and Orientation

6:45 - 7:30pm

Dinner

7:30 - 8:45pm

Opening Lecture

How Can We Bless God? The Meaning(s) of Barukh Atta Hashem
(Rabbi Elie Kaunfer)

Every blessing begins with the phrase: “Blessed are you, God.” What could this formulation possibly mean? In this class, we will explore various understandings of this phrase, and focus on the daring messages that underlie this deceptively simple expression.

8:45 - 9:00pm

Arvit

Monday, July 8

7:45 - 8:30am

Shaharit (Traditional Egalitarian Service and Learner’s Service Option)

8:30 - 9:15am

Breakfast

9:15 - 9:30am

Talmud Orientation

9:30am - 12:45pm

Morning Tracks

Talmud Track - Teshuvah: Possibilities and Limitations

  • 9:30-12:45  Seder and Shiur

Shiur K’lali (Group Learning) Track - Biblical Stories and Jewish Prayers: The Inner Life of Religious Words

  • 9:30-10:45 Shiur with Rabbi Avi Killip
  • 10:45-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:45 Shiur with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

12:45 - 1:45pm

Lunch

1:45 - 2:00pm

Minhah

2:15 - 3:45pm

Executive Seminar Plenary

The Fifth Commandment, Part I: Balancing Divine Commands and Filial Loyalty (Rabbi Ethan Tucker)

What do we do when parents expect things of us that the Torah forbids? Are these competing claims that must be balanced, or does one override and overwhelm the other? When is it permitted or required to disrespect a parent in order to be faithful to the Torah? And is it ever permitted to violate Jewish law in order to honor one's parent?

3:45 - 4:15pm

Snack and Break

4:15 - 5:30pm

Executive Seminar Plenary

How Do You Say? The Rabbinic Art of Relaying Bad News

(Dena Weiss)

Bad news is hard to receive and can be even more difficult to deliver. In this class, we'll look at several midrashim that both offer a strategy for speaking the unspeakable and acknowledge the limits of communication. We will also draw from our own experience and hopefully emerge with more sensitivity to this challenging task, if not more wisdom.

5:30 - 6:00pm

Small Groups / Workshops

6:15 - 7:45pm

“What’s Happening at Hadar?” (Dinner provided)

Hadar is introducing several exciting initiatives over the coming year, including our Advanced Kollel, our 2nd National Shabbaton, and our expansion into new cities. Join members of the Hadar staff and faculty for dinner and a conversation about these and other developments and learn about the new ways you can connect with us.

Tuesday, July 9

7:45 - 8:30am

Shaharit (Traditional Egalitarian Service and Learner’s Service Option)

8:30 - 9:15am

Breakfast

9:15am - 12:45pm

Morning Tracks

Talmud Track

  • 9:15-12:45 Seder and Shiur

Shiur K’lali (Group Learning) Track

  • 9:15-10:45 Shiur with Rabbi Avi Killip
  • 10:45-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:45 Shiur with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

12:45 - 1:45pm

Lunch

1:45pm

Minhah

2:15 - 3:45pm

Learning Electives with Hadar Faculty

Option 1
The Dangers of Learning Torah: Should you come to Yeshiva? (Rabbi Dudi Goshen)
The Executive Seminar offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in Torah learning. But is learning Torah always an ideal? Or can it have ambivalent or even harmful effects? In this class, we will explore several Aggadot / non-legal Talmudic narratives that consider some of the potential negative consequences of studying Torah and ask ourselves how we can make sure we are learning for the right reasons.

Option 2
The Morality of Torah: A Case Study of the “Rebellious Son”
 (Rabbi Avi Strausberg)

In this session, we'll get to know some of our most important core texts and learn what they are, how they work, and when to turn to them. We'll do so by tracking the development of the "rebellious son," from when we first encounter him in the Torah, following him into the conversations of the rabbis in the Mishna, and finally we'll see what the later rabbis of the Gemara do with this text. We'll use this case to explore the question, "What do the rabbis do when they encounter a difficult text in the Torah and what might that mean for us in modern times?"

Option 3
The Triumph of Creation: What is the Book of Exodus Really About?
(Rabbi Shai Held)

In this session, we'll explore the deep structure of the book of Exodus, and ask: what is the book of Exodus really about? Where does it begin and where does it end, and why does the journey between those two points matter so much? What can the book as a whole teach us about Jewish theology, Jewish ethics, and Jewish politics?

3:45 - 4:15pm

Snack and Break

4:15-5:45pm

Executive Seminar Plenary

When Everything Goes Dark: Encountering Psalm 88 (Rabbi Shai Held)

Psalm 88 is one of the darkest chapters in the Hebrew Bible. Though most psalms of lament/complaint end with a turn to hope, this one concludes as it begins: in misery, frustration, and darkness. The psalmist is furious at God and his fury never abates. In this session, we'll do a close literary and theological reading of this haunting text and wrestle with its lack of resolution. We'll ask: what kind of religious life would we need to have in order to feel authentic in challenging God? And what kinds of belief in and about God would we need to have?

6:00 - 7:00pm

Dinner and Schmooze

7:30 - 9:00pm

Hadar Summer Lecture Series
Double Edged Torah: Texts and Ideas that Redeem and Destroy 
(
Rabbi Shai Held and Rabbi Ethan Tucker in conversation)

@ Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, 257 W. 88th St

For many of us, commitment to Jewish tradition engenders tension and compromise. The voices of the past often seem to conflict with our modern moral compasses. The Torah that is central to our lives can also be dehumanizing to others. How should we approach these points of tension? Can the contemporary Jew live a coherent, consistent life? Or are we fated to endure apologetics and concessions? In our final lecture of our Summer Lecture Series on Dangerous Torah, Rabbis Shai Held and Ethan Tucker will discuss and debate their divergent approaches to these questions and try to reconcile (or not) a cherished tradition with a resolute modern sensibility.

Wednesday, July 10 - *LATE START*

8:30 - 9:15am

Shaharit (Traditional Egalitarian Service and Learner’s Service Option)

9:15 - 10:00am

Breakfast

10:00am - 12:45pm

Group Lecture (for all participants)

Why Change Is So Crucial… And So Hard

(Rabbi Shai Held)

12:45 - 1:45pm

Lunch

1:45 - 2:00pm

Minhah

2:15 - 3:45pm

Learning Electives with Hadar Faculty

Option 1

What Redemption Are We Praying For? (Rabbi Elie Kaunfer)

The theme of redemption fills our prayers generally and is the particular subject of the seventh blessing of the weekday amidah. This brief blessing has raised challenging questions for hundreds of years. What redemption are we asking for? Why is it placed here in the Amidah? What is its relationship to the blessings around it? We will closely explore this text and develop a new understanding of its meaning and purpose.

Option 2
Adversaries or Partners: Models of Ha
vruta (Rabbi Tali Adler)

What does the ideal Havruta look like? What role does aggression have in learning Torah and what are its dangers and limits? In this class we will explore two aggadot about two famous learning pairs, Moshe and Aharon and Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish. We will explore the different models of Havruta that our tradition provides, which models we privilege in different contexts, their dangers and drawbacks, and what we hope for in our own learning relationships.

Option 3
The Halacha of Whisper Networks
 (Rabbi Avi Strausberg)

In the wake of the #metoo movement, some women turned toward the creation of Whisper Networks for empowerment and protection from future harassment and abuse. Whisper Networks are a network of people passing information from one to another about powerful people who are alleged to be sexual harassers and abusers. Are these Whisper Networks a legitimate way of warning and protecting future victims from abuse? Are they a form of lashon hara, or evil speech, as they have the potential to spread unsubstantiated rumors and tarnish someone’s name? Do they shame the alleged transgressors in a way that violates halacha and if so, are there instances in which it’s okay to shame someone?

3:45 - 4:15pm

Snack and Small Groups / Workshops

4:15pm

Evening Off

Thursday, July 11

7:45 - 8:30am

Shaharit (Traditional Egalitarian Service and Learner’s Service Option)

8:30 - 9:15am

Breakfast

9:15am - 12:45pm

Morning Tracks

Talmud Track

  • 9:15-12:45: Seder and Shiur

Shiur K’lali (Group Learning) Track

  • 9:15-10:45: Shiur with Rabbi Avi Killip
  • 10:45-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:45: Shiur with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

12:45 - 1:45pm

Lunch

1:45 - 2:00pm

Minhah

2:15 - 3:45pm

Learning with Hadar Faculty

Option 1

The Kiss of Death: A Taste of Israeli Women’s Midrash (Rabbi Avi Killip)

At the end of their lives, both Moses and Aaron's souls were "taken with a kiss"-- Miriam's was not. In the book Dirshuni, a collection of modern Israeli women's Midrash, one author paints a picture of Miriam's death that in turn offers insights into her life. The session will explore how modern feminist commentary brings together texts from Tanach, Bavli, Yirushalmi, and classical Midrashim to create a textured picture of the life and death of Miriam.  

Option 2
Why We Stay and Why We Go: Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh and His Forgotten Torah
(Rabbi Tali Adler)

"If all the sages of Israel...were on one side of a balance scale, and Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh were on the other side, Rabbi Elazar would outweigh them all." In this class, we will look at a number of stories about Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai's most promising student who eventually forgets all of his Torah. We will ask ourselves: What qualities should we look for in a sage? How much should we value genius? Who are the people we choose to place our hopes for Torah in--and what happens when make the wrong choices?

3:45 - 4:00pm

Snack and Break

4:00 - 5:00pm

Closing Shiur

The Fifth Commandment, Part II: Does it Discriminate Between the Sinners and the Saints? With Rabbi Ethan Tucker

Does the command to honor one's parents presume that they are good people generally worthy of honor? Are sinners also worthy of this privilege granted by the Torah? More broadly: is our respect for our parents just a subset of our commitment to a worthy society or is it a value in its own right?

5:00 - 5:30pm

Closing Program and See-You-Agains

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