The sixteenth century witnessed a phenomenal, short-lived explosion of Jewish spiritual creativity, centered in the sleepy Galilean town of Safed (Tsfat). Along with greats such as Rabbi Yosef Karo, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero was one of the founders of that unusual place, attracting still more Rabbis and especially Kabbalists to the mountaintop community, including Rabbi […]Read More Who Was Rabbi Moshe Cordovero?
A brilliant 13th-century scholar of Rabbinic thought, Nahmanides’ defense of Judaism in a forced Church-sponsored debate earned him exile from his native Spain. An elderly sage, he emigrated to the Land of Israel, where he found a tiny Jewish community, desperately hanging onto the traditions of their ancestors. Summoning upon an immense reserve of energy, […]Read More Who Was Nahmanides?
Brief survey of the major historical developments and themes affecting the land of Israel between the 2nd-century Bar Kochba rebellion and the Muslim conquest in the seventh century. Part of the Israel: The Land and its People series.Read More The Land of Israel from Bar Kochba to the Muslim Conquest
Certainly one of the greatest Rabbis of the entire Talmud, Akiva son of Joseph did not begin his study of Judaism before adulthood. His trajectory of incredible spiritual growth was punctuated by moments of great personal tragedy, and his martyrdom at the hands of the Romans after the failed second-century Bar-Kochba revolt has an enduring […]Read More Who Was Rabbi Akiva?
One of the greatest builders of ancient Israel, King Herod exploited his power as a Roman-sponsored ruler to develop the Temple, yet earned a reputation as a feared tyrant responsible for horrific massacres. HIs rule set the tone for the political climate in the Land of Israel during the tumultuous decades prior to the growth […]Read More Who Was King Herod?
Born in the times of the Hasmonean rebellion celebrated with the holiday of Chanukah, Yohanan Cohen Gadol was one of the most prominent Jewish leaders during the brief period of Jewish freedom in the 2nd century BCE. Caught in the swirling controversy of internal religious debate, in his old age he abandoned his Pharisaic roots […]Read More Who Was Yohanan Kohen Gadol?
“Sweet singer of Israel,” David was the poet-warrior King who led the Jewish people to political and cultural prominence. Denied his most cherished goal of building the Temple, he lived a life of great personal challenge and heroic resurgence from tragedy, and his biography left an indelible mark on the Jewish understanding of leadership.Read More Who Was King David?
The Bible describes how the Jewish people, emerging from Egyptian servitude and decades of wandering in the Sinai desert, followed Joshua’s military leadership to conquer the Land of Israel and establish the ancient foundations of their Torah-centered society. This lecture will survey the archeological and historical record to understand the larger context of the Biblical […]Read More Who Was Joshua?
Mystic and early Zionist, Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook’s challenging and eclectic philosophy has inspired generations of Jews since his passing in 1935. Often misunderstood, Rav Kook’s role as one of the principal Rabbinic figures of the era was foundational for establishing a religious ideology for the the modern, secular and democratic state of Israel.Read More Who Was Rav Kook?