THE MAKING OF MEANING (Winter 2009-10)

Classes at Congregation Eitz Chayim

How Do Jews Make Meaning?  Three part series looking at the meaning of biblical texts, rabbinic interpretations, and how we as modern Jews make meaning.
Study of Hannah Narrative, Bathsheba/David, and Song of Songs.

Penina will guide participants in wrestling with the meaning of a biblical text counterpoised with a complementary rabbinic text. How do the Rabbis subtly or not so subtly interpose their own meanings on the biblical text? What can we learn about how we interpose our meanings and about how we make meaning for ourselves as modern Jews?

Date: October 25, 2009
Title: Part 1: The Hannah Narrative: “I Am a Woman of Stubborn Spirit”
Description: Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is held up in Jewish tradition as a model of prayer. But who is she? How and why is she a model?  The biblical text highlights her bitter and afflicted soul. Using texts from Samuel and various midrashim, Penina will guide us in a study of Hannah’s struggle to reveal her stubborn spirit to herself and to learn to pour out her soul in prayer.
Date: November 15, 2009
Title: Part 2: Bathsheba and David
Description: The relationship between Batsheva and David is fraught with ambiguity. Was Batsheva a victim or a victor? Was David a hero or a heel? If Batsheva was not barren, could their son Solomon have been a rightful hero-king? Why does the story in Samuel and Kings differ from the story in Chronicles? Through storytelling and a close reading of the few short texts where Batsheva appears in Samuel and Kings (and where she doesn’t appear in Chronicles) Penina will present the story of Batsheva and David and will encourage all present to come to their own conclusions about these two monarchs.
Date: January 10, 2010
Title: Part 3: The Song of Songs: “And Fire Flashed all Around
Description: According to Song of Songs Rabbah, when the Rabbis linked up the words of the Torah with those of the Prophets and the Prophets with the Writings, “the fire flashed around them.” Why is this statement in the Midrash about Song of Songs?   How do the Rabbis link up Song of Songs with the Torah, to produce a reading that flashes with fire?   We will explore the meaning of “Love is stronger than death” (SoS 8:6). Texts will be taken from Song of Songs, SoS Rabbah and Genesis.