I want to invite you to participate in a new adult education class which will start in the fall but be previewed this coming Thursday night. We will take a deep dive into the chapter of the Talmud which deals with the Passover seder.
For the last seven or eight years, a group of us have been meeting after minyan twice a month on Thursday to look at Rashi’s commentary on the Torah. For the first few years we looked at the week’s Torah portion, which meant we never studied the portions which are read over the summer. So this year, we made our way through a chunk of Rashi’s commentary on Deuteronomy. But now it’s time to move on to something else.
I think it is important that our shul have a serious text study opportunity available so I am proposing that for next year we make a shift to studying a chapter of the Talmud known as "Arvei P'sachim." This is the tenth chapter of Tractate Psachim and deals with the laws of the Passover seder. This is one of the first sections of the Talmud that most people learn in Yeshiva because unlike much of the Talmud it deals with things that we still practice today. In this chapter we see how the practices and liturgy of the Seder developed over the centuries.
The Talmud is not something that one simply sits down and reads. You really have to study it with a teacher or a partner who knows his or her way through the material. I had the good fortune of studying this chapter in depth for two years with Rabbi David Novak when I was the Hillel director at U.Va. and he was a professor there.
I’ve taught various sugyot, passages from the Talmud that deal with a specific issue or question. But I’ve not taught a complete chapter from beginning to end before and this is a good opportunity for you to learn how to read, analyze, and understand the Talmud which is perhaps even more than the Bible the foundational text of the Judaism we practice today.
A good translation with a running commentary is available at:
I would love for you to consider studying Talmud with me!
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian