#96 Unorthodox Episodes from the Talmud (3)

The third part of David’s series, Unorthodox Episodes from the Talmud, explores a fascinating series of interconnected stories involving:

  • a high-level international diplomatic mission, 
  • undercover rabbinical espionage,
  • a cast of remarkable Talmudic rabbinical figures,
  • parental concern,
  • a curious question of Jewish law,
  • the mystical powers of the rabbis, 
  • a sighting of looted treasures from the temple in Jerusalem,
  • and a quest to overturn devastating Roman decrees.

David discusses key Talmudic personalities from the first two centuries, including:

  • Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
  • Rabbi Yossi Ben Halafta
  • Rabbi Reuben Ben Strobilus
  • Rabbi Yossi HaGellili
  • Rabbi Eleizer Ben Yossi
  • as well as (lehavdil) Ben Tamalia.

He also provides historical context for the events discussed in the Talmudic passages, some of the prevailing cultural and religious norms of the time, and the messages that arise from this unorthodox episode of the Talmud.

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#95 Unorthodox Episodes from the Talmud (2)

Part two of David’s Zoom series, Unorthodox Episodes from the Talmud, mixes Jewish history with textual learning and fascinating storytelling.

The talk continues the story begun in the previous episode regarding Rav Kahana, a third-century sage who fled Babylonian authorities to find refuge in the Land of Israel following a violent confrontation in a rabbinical court.

In this lecture, David describes the next chapter for Rav Kahana following his arrival at the prestigious yeshiva of Tiberius. Through a series of unfortunate actions and misunderstandings, Rav Kahana finds himself once again at the centre of dramatic events involving pride, regret, and death.

As David unravels this extraordinary story, he explores:

  • key Talmudic figures and their contribution to Jewish life, history, learning, and continuity
  • the relationships and tensions between some of the great Jewish figures and academies of the time
  • the political and hierarchical structures of these rabbinical academies
  • the power of the sages and consequences of unsettling them
  • how concepts of right and wrong do not always resonate through centuries
  • the unexpectedly mystical nature of elements of the Talmud.

This lecture places in context the historical situation of the Jewish communities in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. It also reminds us of the importance of Torah scholarship in relation to the shape and influence of different parts of the Jewish world.

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#88 Which Period of Jewish History is Most Similar to Our Own?

In this fascinating lecture, David explores the timeline of Jewish History in search of a period that most resembles the current situation for the Jewish people.

Roving from biblical times to an era commonly referred to as the Dark Ages, David analyses the situation of the Jewish people during six distinct historical moments. As part of this analysis, he also compares and contrasts Jewish political and territorial autonomy in the land of Israel with that experienced in contemporary times.

Additionally, David outlines the broader geopolitical situations of these eras and how such background considerations reflect our own.

The lecture also explores ethical and philosophical factors of interest, ending with an inspiring note for a possible alternative picture for Israel and the Jewish people in the future.

David delivered this lecture in 2020 as a Zoom presentation for Chabad Glen Eira. While no visual recording of the talk was made, the Youtube video for this episode combines an audio recording of the lecture with graphics David shared during his Zoom presentation. Visit https://youtu.be/CcnddTlJdRo

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#67 Great Battles of Jewish History (Part Two)

The early victories of the Maccabees over the Seleucid armies have been etched into Jewish memory in the form of the festival of Hanukkah. In this podcast episode, David examines the first four of these Maccabean victories with a focus on the insight, bravery, and military ingenuity of Judea’s guerrilla fighters. Continuing with his exploration of the role played by the geography and topography of the land of Israel in these battles, David offers a rare insight into why, how, and what was involved in these historic events. He also shares his view on the place these victories should take in our historical celebration of the miracle of Hanukkah.

For listeners to the podcast who can not see the maps David draws in this lecture, we have provided a series of graphics in pdf that capture the information provided on the whiteboard. To gain the most from this lecture, we recommend referring to these maps as you listen.

 

Find a large-size pdf of the maps here.

This Jewish history lecture includes discussions on:

  • the military tactics and might of the Seleucid armies
  • the context, details, and outcomes of the battles of Maaleh Levonah, Beit Horon, Emmaus, and Beit Tzur
  • the significance of the geography and topography of the land of Israel in determining the shape and results of these battles
  • the role of military intelligence and the rise of Jewish guerrilla warfare
  • the historical status of these events and their connection with the festive of Hanukkah

Find more of David Solomon’s podcast, with dozens of lectures on Jewish history, the Bible, Jewish philosophy, and Kabbalah here.

        

This four-part series was recorded at Caulfield Shule in 2019.

#21 Priests and Princes, Power and Politics: the Rise and Fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty (Part 1)

Released in advance of Chanukah is David Solomon’s exciting exploration of the extraordinary (and miraculous) religious revolt led by the Maccabees between 167 and 160 BCE against the Seleucid Empire – the first installment of a two-part series on the rise and fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty. In this episode, David discusses the key figures of the time and examines the revolutionary military tactics used by Jewish guerrilla fighters to defeat an army that was viewed as invincible.

Bernard Picart: Eleazar’s exploit as described in the Bible. Public domain.

David provides an in-depth discussion of a number of the battles occurring during the period examined in this series. The video below may help listeners gain a clearer picture of the information provided, particularly in relation to the geography and topography of the Land of Israel and how it impacted on military campaigns.

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