Dr. Henry Abramson, dean of Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences, will iy’H resume his Jewish-history lecture series in the Five Towns community in February. Abramson, who has been lauded for his thought-provoking insights, will offer new elements to engage and illuminate. This innovative six-session series will be held on Wednesday evenings from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst (8 Spruce Street in Cedarhurst).
The lectures will feature a combination of 30 minutes of historical overviews and 30 minutes of in-depth textual study. Dr. Abramson will deliver the overviews, and the in-depth study will be taught by Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, mara d’asra of Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst, and Rabbi Yaakov Trump, assistant rabbi, as well as Dr. Abramson.
According to Rabbi Teitelbaum, “An appreciation of the achievements and an understanding of the significance of a historic Torah personality are best facilitated through study of their written works.”
“When we learn Torah, it is important to understand content and context,” said Rabbi Trump. “Most of us were schooled in a content-heavy environment with little context. But sometimes that leaves the Torah in a vacuum. The Rashi that will be learned in these sessions will reflect what was discussed previously in a historical context. Appreciating the context enriches our understanding of where information belongs in the grand scheme.”
The series will spotlight the following Torah commentators:
Rashi (February 1), whose writings on the Torah have earned primacy among all commentators;
Ramban (February 8), whose sophisticated Torah commentary built upon the foundations laid by Maimonides and Rashi;
Rav Sa’adia Gaon (February 15), who responded to the attraction of Islamic philosophy to Jews living in Muslim lands by composing significant works in the 10th-century Kalam style that influenced generations of thinkers;
Onkelos (February 22), a convert from a royal Roman family who defied his imperial origins to join the Jewish people to whom he later gave an eternal gift of his scholarship;
Ibn Ezra (March 1). Destined to a life of wandering and penury, his thought represents a phenomenal achievement in religiosity recognized by scholars in many ways, including a crater on the moon named in his honor;
Ralbag (March 8), who represented the early synthesis between the burgeoning scientific revolution of the Renaissance and traditional Torah study. His Torah commentary espouses some startling approaches to traditional theological questions.
“Jewish history is a significant dimension of Torah study. There is a pasuk which states ‘Zechor yemos olam—Remember the days of yore.’ There is great value in learning Jewish history. It should not be confused with Torah study, and thus, one’s regular Chumash, Nach, Mishnah, Gemara, or halachah study should not be replaced by Jewish history, but in addition to the realm of Torah, Jewish history adds a dimension of context to everything else one learns within Torah,” said Rabbi Trump. “To understand the historical context of what was occurring when Rabbi Akiva lived helps us understand what he meant. To learn about the background of Rav Hirsch offers a window into his unique commentary. It is the framework for the Torah system.”
For more information and to register for the free series, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/ramban-tickets-31190281973.