Join us during the summer at Congregation Eitz Chayim, 136 Magazine Street in Cambridge,  for evening Torah classes, every 1st and 3rd Wednesday from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

Penina Weinberg, biblical scholor with a Master of Jewish Liberal Studies from Hebrew College and 6 years teaching Torah to adult Jewish learners,  will lead us on an exploration of the truth behind many commonly held biblical notions. Through a close reading of selected biblical texts, we will study, discuss, argue – in short, learn to interpret for ourselves.

On July 6th we will continue the study the Book of Ruth.  A common view is that the Book is an enchanting, sweet pastoral idyll (The Five Megilloth, Soncino Press).  While the Book does not contain the bloodshed and violence depicted in the Book of Judges, (it takes place in the time that “the judges judged”), it nevertheless poses hard questions about the relationship between humanity and God, and between one human and another.  Like Job, Naomi agonizes over being abandoned by God, even afflicted by God.  How can this be?  What does it mean that God can afflict human beings?  Why should it be so? 

Subsequent classes (exact order of study TBD) will explore other commonly held assumptions about the biblical text, including:

  • What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19)?  The common answer is homosexuality.  But how do you know that?  Did someone interpret that for you, or did you study the text yourself?  Along with Genesis 19, we will study texts from Joshua and Judges (the stories of Rahav and the Levite’s concubine) to help get to the root of the sin of Sodom.
  • If humanity is made in the image of God, what can we learn from the story of Creation (Genesis 1-3) about the gender of God and the gender of the first human?   Is God a He, a She, an androgyne?  Is the question relevant?  The concept of a gendered God is integral to many interpretations of the bible, and the concept of God as a He has troubled many modern religious people, but what does the text actually say? 

Bring your tanachs, a snack, a bottle of wine, your independent thinking.   All study will be in English.  No prior bible study is required, but our study will challenge even the knowledgeable.    Our close reading will include getting to the root of the meaning of key Hebrew words (pun intended).  Texts will be available for those who cannot bring their own.