#79 A Journey Through Jewish Philosophy (1)

This podcast episode launches David’s eight-part series on Jewish Philosophy. In this first lecture, David explores the earliest Jewish responses to the ancient Greek philosophers.

Beginning by providing a summary of the early Greek philosophers, David defines Jewish Philosophy and how it fits within the overriding framework of Judaism.

Watch the lecture here.

He examines the life and ideas of Philo of Alexandria. Philo’s extensive philosophical writing looked at, among other things:

  • Stoic allegory, which includes a commentary on the Book of Genesis (Bereishit) and an exploration of Middle-Platonism
  • Logos and its relationship to humanity and the Divine
  • Responding to Platonimism and the stoics
  • The importance of the revealed tradition of the Torah
  • Ethics, including Moses as a fully realised individual.

        

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#71 A Prophetic Revolution In One Hour

In the first millennia BCE, the prophets of Israel launched an unprecedented spiritual revolution, the impact of which has resonated throughout the ages and across the world. In this fascinating lecture, David presents an overview of the twelve ‘minor’ prophets of Israel. Although their messages contained profound insight, analysis, and inspiration, these prophets are known in English as ‘minor’ because their books are short compared to those of the ‘major’ prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. With lightning speed and characteristic clarity, David takes us through the story of these prophets and reminds us of the remarkable relevance of their words for us today.

In this podcast episode, David examines the life and ideas of the following prophets:
  • Hosea
  • Joel (Yoel)
  • Amos
  • Obadiah (Ovadiah)
  • Jonah (Yonah)
  • Micah
  • Nachum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
He places these prophets in their historical context, looking at the following periods and events:
  • life in the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judea (Judah)
  • the destruction of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians
  • the assault on Jerusalem by the Assyrians
  • the defeat of the Assyrians by the Persians
  • the Babylonian exile
  • the return to Zion and the rebuilding of Jerusalem under the proclamation of Cyrus
  • the beginning of the Second Temple Period.
David delivered this talk in 2015 at the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

# 70 From Exile in Paradise to Redemption in Hell: Jews and Judaism in Germany – past, present and future

Although the Holocaust looms large as the defining feature of Jewish life in Germany, it was not an isolated historical event for German Jews. The Shoa followed a long and tragic trail of massacres, pogroms, and persecutions. However, the historical relationship between the Jewish and German peoples consisted of more than bloodshed and hardship. As David explains in this lecture, “the symbiotic relationship between the Jews of Germany and the general German population was nothing short of astounding.”

In this podcast episode, From Exile in Paradise to Redemption in Hell Jews and Judaism in Germany: past, present, and future, David explores the long and fascinating story of German Jewish life, from the days of the Roman Empire to the present, covering:

  • Jews and the Roman Empire
  • the beginnings of Ashkenazi Jewry and the influence of Rabbeinu Gershom
  • the Rhineland Massacres of the 11th century, known in Jewish history as the Akedah
  • Meir of Rottenberg and Asher ben Yechiel
  • the constant return of Jews to Germany despite ongoing persecution and recurring massacres
  • the impact of the Reformation
  • the restriction of Jews to money lending and their subsequent influence on economic policy
  • Moses Mendelssohn, the Enlightenment, and secular Judaism
  • Jewish conversion to Christianity as an essential requirement for advancement in 19th Germany
  • Jewish mystical interpretations of the relationship between Jews and Germany
  • the growth of contemporary Jewish communities in Germany
  • the enormity of the Shoa and its place in history
  • the integral nature of Jews to German life and history.

You can also watch the lecture on YouTube.

David delivered this talk in 2013 at the Jewish Museum of Berlin, accompanying the special exhibition “The Whole Truth.”

        

#24 Dinkum Diaspora: Highlights of Australian Jewish History (part 2)

The beginnings of community and the rise of independent colonies are the underpinning themes of this podcast episode, the second of David Solomon’s four-part series on Australian Jewish History. In this episode, David examines a period of 22 years, between 1828 and 1850. He looks at the impact of Jewish free settlers with means and ideas on the new colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and the emerging Jewish communities within these colonies. David also provides a fascinating insight into a selection of influential and notorious characters whose reputations and contributions loomed large in the new settlements.

Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, Shearith Yisroel, Remnant of Israel, Bourke St West Congregation. Watercolour from an illuminated address presented by the Victorian Jewish Community to Sir Benjamin Benjamin, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, in honour of his Knighthood in 1889. Publisher: Valentine Sands, Melbourne. Flickr. Creative Commons.

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#14 Worlds in Transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century (part 3)

In the 1500s, Jewish life was shaped by many remarkable figures among whom were a number of powerful and learned Jewish women. In this third podcast episode on Jewish History of the 16th century, David Solomon examines the lives and contributions of some of these influential Jewish women and explores the extraordinary impact they had on politics and commerce, culture and ideas, as well as Jewish life, learning and religious practice.

Franz Hermann, Hans Gemminger, Valentin Mueller: A scene from a Turkish harem. Public Domain.

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#8 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 2: 1150-1200)

The second half of the 12th century is the focus of this podcast episode. David Solomon explores Jewish History through the eyes and contributions of individuals and the broader perspectives of nations. He examines the life and work of towering figures like the Rambam (Maimonides), the significant contributions made by Torah commentators and translators of the period, the observations of a famed Jewish traveller, the rise of a new mystical movement, and the impact of a false messiah. The podcast also discusses the ongoing consequences of the crusader campaigns, the regeneration of Jewish communities in Germany, Jewish life in Bagdad, the establishment of a Jewish presence in China, the forced conversion of the Jews of Yemen, and the consequence of the Third Lateran Council on the status of Jews in the Middle Ages.

Maimonides teaches about the ‘measure of men’ (compared to the earth and the universe, men is very small). Public domain image.

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#7 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 1: 1100-1150)

The first half of the 12th century was  rich with Jewish intellectual and spiritual contribution but it was also marred by hardship and violence. Framed by a background of large empires and changing power structures, this podcast examines the impact that historical events like the first two crusades, the Blood Libel, the first reconquista of Spain and the Almohad invasion had on Jewish communities from Europe to the Land of Israel. David explores the lives and works of leading Jewish figures, including those known as the Rishonim, whose contributions were profoundly impactful on world Jewry as well as other important developments in culture, language, religion and society.

A scene of Ibn Ezra practicing Astrology with an Arabic manuscript being held by the men that flank him to either side. [Public domain]

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#4 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 4

The historical period from King Joash (Yehoash) to King Hezekiah (Heskiyahu), exploring the histories, personalities and fates of these kings and all those in between is the focus of this episode. David discusses the House of Jehu and the circumstances that led to the end of the Northern Kingdom. He provides an overall picture of the region at the time, including the kingdoms’ geo-political competition with Aram and the rise of Assyria. Tune in for another action-packed lecture. 

Hezekiah showing off his wealth to envoys of the Babylonian king, oil on canvas by Vicente López Portaña, 1789 [Public domain]

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