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[open access] Dan Bricklin podcasts a couse on Passover

Dan Bricklin has posted a recording of a reduced version (only five hours!) of a course he took with Rabbi Reuven Cohn about the Passover Haggadah. The Haggadah is the book Jews read aloud before the Pasover meal, recounting one of the religion’s founding events. Because it is a story of liberation, it has resonances all over the place. Dan writes about the class:

The book, mainly in Hebrew, seems to be a random mishmash of different readings and blessings. With the help of the class I learned about its origins 2000 years ago by studying the ancient books of the Talmud, especially the parts called the Mishnah. Through the class I saw this book that I had been reading carefully for my whole life (and the ceremony it describes) in an entirely new light. I got to see it’s important place in the evolution of the Jewish religion after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. It also helped give me some insight into the parallel development of Christianity at the same time.

I talked Reuven into giving a short version of the course (only about 5 hours) to some of my friends while I recorded it for sharing on the Internet (under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial, no-derivative works license). With the help of a few microphones and a PDF of the handouts, you should be able to feel as if you were there. The participants had a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, from very little Jewish education to extensive. The class was conducted in English.

Reuven is a very gifted teacher, with an interesting background. He received a law degree from Yale and once was a lawyer at a well-known Boston firm. He also received ordination from Yeshiva University and teaches at Hebrew College in Newton and Maimonides School in Brookline.

I have not listened to the podcasts yet, but trust Dan’s judgment implicitly. I find the Jewish method of exegesis to be fascinating, and quite admirable, even while I am unconvinced of the divinity of the work being explained.

It would be interesting to find a similar project explaining some aspect of Islam. [Tags: ]

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