Torah Sparks

United Synagogue (USCJ) is proud and delighted to bring you Torah Sparks, with insights and learning materials on the Parasha (Torah portion) of the week. Torah Sparks is produced by the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Each week there will be a Dvar Torah - a discussion on some aspect of the reading, by CY faculty, alumni and friends; a Vort - a short thought from Chasidic rebbes or other thinkers about some point in the text; and Table Talk - questions to stimulate discussion on the Parsha around the Shabbat table. Torah Sparks is available here on the Conservative Yeshiva's Shiurim Online Beit Midrash website, as well as by subscription to weekly graphical emails. Please select the Parasha you would like to see - it will display articles from each year. A printable PDF is linked at the end of each week's presentation.

Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

About Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Dr. Shaiya Rothberg received his doctorate in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University and his B.A. in Jewish Philosophy and Talmud from Bar Ilan University. Shaiya has also learned in the Conservative Yeshiva Kollel since it began, and earlier on at Machon Meir, Machon Pardes, Hamachon Hagavoah Letorah (Bar-Ilan's yeshiva) and Machon Hartman. He teaches Theology, Kabbalah and Written and Oral Torah from Midrash to the Middle Ages.

Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Human Rights – 3 – Aspects Of ADAM In The Idra Exercise 3

This is the medium for exercise 3. Here we’ll focus on the idea that all things must be integrated into ADAM and that forces which remain outside ADAM are destructive (Selection 11 in our version of the Idra). The idea that we must integrate all the parts of our selves into one harmonious whole is […]

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Human Rights – 3 – Aspects Of ADAM In The Idra Exercise 2

This is the medium for exercise 2. This time we’re focusing on a different aspect of ADAM: The expansion of Zeir Anpin that occurs when S/he “looks inside” to Arich Anpin. This idea appears in the foreword to the Idra (page IV) and also in Selection 6. 1) Take a few minutes and jot down […]

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Human Rights – 3 – Aspects Of ADAM In The Idra Exercise 1

The purpose of this exercise is to use you, a flesh and blood manifestation of ADAM, to learn about the divine ADAM above (or inside). The first aspect of ADAM that we’ll explore is the idea that Arich Anpin, the more transcendent aspect of ADAM, rests inside Zeir Anpin, the more concrete aspect. This idea […]

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Mekorot VeDeot – 7 – Part 1 Unit 4 God As Person

Here’s the first draft.

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Mekorot VeDeot – 6 – Part 1 Unit 3 Maimonides On Mount Sinai

Hi!Here’s the source-text.Here’s the commentary.Here’s an audio summary (about 40 minutes) I’m looking forward to hearing what you think! Shaiya

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From the Other Side of the Looking Glass – An Introduction to the Zohar

Since its mysterious appearance some seven hundred years ago, the Zohar has emerged as one of the most powerful forces in the history of Jewish thought and tradition. The Zohar’s radical hermeneutics, its passionate and often erotic religious intensity, and its mystical formulation of Judaism’s fundamental ideas, have riveted many of Israel’s greatest sages while appalling others. This class will begin to explore the Zohar through selections from the text itself as well as through secondary material. We will seek to encounter the religious power and theological depth of the Zohar while acquiring some of the basic skills and contextual understanding necessary to approach this unique and difficult text.

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A Jewish Theology of Human Rights

Elie Wiesel has famously spoken about a modern “secular religion of human rights”. The world movement for human rights seeks to guarantee the most basic conditions for the flourishing of humanity, like life and at least minimal freedom. While this is a “secular” effort for some, in important Jewish sources the flourishing of humanity or ADAM is nothing less than the revelation of God. In this class we will study the divine significance of humanity in three sources: The Zohar, Maimonides, and the modern religious-Zionist thinker Rabbi Chayyim Hirschenson. Perhaps together these sources constitute a modern Jewish theology of human rights.

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Maimonides – from Self-Realization to Redemption

Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was deeply committed both to living Jewish religious tradition and to understanding and making sense of its central ideas and values, such as the existence of God and the commandment of organizing one’s life around learning His Word – the Torah.

But Maimonides was also a learned scientist and philosopher who was committed to subjecting all belief, including religious belief, to rigorously critical and rational analysis. And thus was born one of the most radical and compelling theological projects in Jewish history: the Maimonidean synthesis of philosophy and tradition, reason and revelation. In this class we will explore eight ideas at the heart of Maimonides’ approach to God, the Torah and the World.

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