Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Special Morning With the Talmud and the Zohar

Sunday, August 25, 2019
10:00 am | Free
Jewish Community Library
San Francisco


Newcomers and text study veterans are invited to explore why the Talmud and the Zohar are relevant today at a special joint teaching session with Lehrhaus Chief Program Officer Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan and Prof. Daniel Matt, the world-renowned authority on the Zohar.

Wolf-Prusan and Matt will make these foundational texts accessible and will continue to demystify these intriguing texts in Talmud Circles and Zohar Circles this fall.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


It is with great joy that we announce that registration for the 2019 – 2020 Bay Area Community Talmud Circle is coming soon!

If you are joining us this year, welcome, and please read this post for details about our continuing study and the special Introduction to Talmud Study Tutorials for new students.
Rabbi Dorothy Richman (left) leads our Berkeley Circle, Prof. Deena Aranoff (top) leads our Marin Circle, and Rabbi Jennifer Clayman (right) leads our Los Gatos Circle

Senior Educator Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan leads the San Francisco Circles, and the Palo Alto and Santa Rosa Circles.  Associate Director Tamar Zaken coordinates the Text Circles and Kevah Program

We are continuing our reading of Tractate Ta’anit.  New participants are welcomed and will have webinars and tutorials to be able to jump in.

This section of the Talmud raises questions about “Holy Men” pronouncing the "meaning" of a disaster. This narrative section of the Talmud, in the words of Julia Watts Belser, “over turns expected hierarchies of gender, piety, and social status to challenge the theological significance of hunger, suffering, and abundance.” She writes, "These narratives blunt the moral condemnation inherent in disaster – and suggest that blessing often lies beneath the surface of apparent misfortune.” The Talmud asserts that an interpretation of events exercises a powerful influence over experience.

Students should purchase the Koren Talmud Bavli Noé, Vol.12: Ta’anit/Megilla, Hebrew/English, print (several versions) or the PDF.

While the majority of participants are continuing students, anyone may join. If you are new to the study of Talmud, we recommend that you participate in our A Special Morning with the Talmud and the Zohar introductory session. Sunday August 25, 10:00 at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco. This program is free, however, please register in advance so that we can plan accordingly.

If you have questions, please contact Tamar Zaken at or (510) 845-6420.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia

"Ideal charismatic action emerges out of a profound intimacy
with God that allows the charismatic to couple critical speech with a potent affirmation of God's faithfulness and loyalty. Intimacy serves as the foundation of effective
rabbinic parrhesia , the quality of presence that allows the charismatic to articulate critical discourse before God while still retaining God's favor . These dynamics take center stage in Bavli Ta ʿ anit's tale of Naqdimon ben Gurion, which appears in bTaʿanit 19b–20".  (P
age 152, Julia Watts Belser, "Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster"  Cambridge University Press)

Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia: 6 lectures given by Michel Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley, Oct-Nov. 1983