Heart-Fire Healing
Repair of the Soul Tikkun HaNefesh  תיקון הנפש
Spiritual Guidance & Shema-nik Healing
Listening for the Sacred Shomei-a BaRuach  שומע ברוח
(Listening with the soul / Hearing in the wind)   


Led by Rachmiel Langer

Sacred Fragments - Explorations and Conversations of Jewish Belief

class readings

"Our God and God of our ancestors, God of Abraham, God of Sarah, God of Isaac, God of ..."

This frequent invocation regularly reminds us that we each have a unique and direct relationship to the sacred.

Are you interested in joining in discussions of Jewish understandings of this relationship and sharing our own experiences and beliefs? What could it mean to believe in God, to receive revelation, to pray? What does Judaism have to say about the soul and dying? Where does Nature fit in our lives, and where does Judaism place us in Nature?

We'll read excerpts from various modern Jewish thinkers as they struggle with placing their experience in relation to Jewish belief. In discussion, we’ll look at their views and our own as we wrestle with our beliefs and the issues that might lead us toward building a personal theology.

Likely topics and readings are listed below.

If you're interested in joining this discussion group for any or all of the meetings, at Kerem Shalom in Concord, MA, starting Autumn 2007, or for more information, please contact Rachmiel.

This class counts toward the Kerem Shalom Jewish University program (KSJU).

Class Readings

Session 1. Theology and Midrash. Jewish theology? With its focus on action, Judaism doesn't have a strong basis in doctrinal theology - judging one's beliefs from dogma and principles. "Our God and God of our ancestors, God of Abraham, God of Sarah, God of Isaac, God of ..." continually reminds us that each person has their unique and direct relationship to God. Midrash is the rabbinic process of encountering the traditional texts with fresh eyes.This heritage supports narrative theology - starting with one's own experience and locating that story within the tradition. Together, we'll engage in the communal conversation that lends coherence to this individual struggle for meaning.

Session 2. Knowing God. What might it mean to know God? How can we know anything about God, and what could we possibly know? What are some Jewish pathways toward that experience? Reading: Excerpts from Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, Neil Gillman.

Session 3. Revelation. Receiving revelation at Sinai is the central defining event of Judaism that brings the community into covenant with God. Is it possible to believe in revelation; what might have taken place (or be taking place); and what might have been revealed? Reading: Excerpts from: Sacred Fragments, Neil Gillman; The Man of Today and the Jewish Bible, Martin Buber; Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism, Tamar Ross; and a taste of Talmud (Tractate Menahot 29b).

Session 4. Prayer. What does it mean to pray? What is the use and purpose of praying? Why would I want to? We'll consider some approaches to these questions. Reading: Excerpts from: Man's Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism, Abraham Joshua Heschel; The Path of Blessing: Experiencing the Energy and Abundance of the Divine, Marcia Prager; and How Can Reconstructionists Pray?, Jacob Staub. Optional reading, for information from scientific studies of prayer: "Research Findings About Prayer", from Seven Prayers That Can Change Your Life, Leonard Felder, Ph.D.

Session 5. The World to Come. We'll discuss some Jewish views of the soul and the afterlife: Is there a soul; what might that mean? What happens after death – to the individual and to the community – resurrection, reincarnation, the “World to Come” (Olam  HaBa), the messianic "End of Days"? Does it matter? Readings: Excerpts from: Does the Soul Survive?, R. Elie Kaplan Spitz; and The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, R. Maurice Lamm. We’ll also glimpse at Sha’ar HaGilgulim: The Gates of Reincarnation, from the mystical teachings of Isaac Luria

Session 6. Jewish Shamanism. We'll look at the shamanic perspective inherent in Judaism. Starting from its indigenous, tribal roots, there is a central Jewish understanding of being in direct relationship with the mysterious Sacred as it is present in the world around us. Health is recognized as an expression of wholeness (shalem) when the spiritual and physical are in balance. This balance extends to being in relationship with all ensouled beings and the earth itself, as sacred community. We'll look at some ways this mystical wisdom is expressed in Judaism. Readings: Excerpts from Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism, R. Gershon Winkler; and "Re/Membering Nature", R. Rami Shapiro, from Trees, Earth and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology; Ari Elon, Naomi Mara Hyman, Arthur Waskow, ed.


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In such cases, fees paid in advance will be refunded.

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