Who Was the Rashba? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

Rabbi Shlomo ben Adret, known to his student by the acronym of his name Rashba, was one of the most brilliant Talmudists of medieval Spain. Student of Nachmanides (Ramban) and teacher to the Ritva, his writings are studied to the present day.

Here’s Dr. Abramson in print (because there are times and places where one just can’t enjoy a video).  Check out the eBook versions as well.  

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The Septuagint (This Week in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

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The Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Torah into Koine Greek, had a tremendous impact on the later Christian understanding of Jewish theology.

 

 

Who Was Ibn Ezra? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

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Hailed as one of the greatest commentators on the Torah, Abraham ibn Ezra lived a life of great scholarly accomplishment amidst great personal suffering.

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Who Was Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

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Emerging from a cave after twelve years of isolated Torah study, Rabbi Shimon Yohai went on to become one of ancient Israel’s most celebrated Kabbalists and leaders of the Jewish people.

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Dr. Abramson in Print (and eBooks!)

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Who Was Bar Kochba? Jewish Biography as History Lecture by Dr. Henry Abramson

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“Akiva, grass will grow from your cheeks,” said the talmudic Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta, “and still the messiah will not have come.” A stinging rebuke for the most prominent supporter of Bar Kochba’s would-be messianic leadership of the Jewish people in his 2nd-century rebellion against the Roman oppressors. Who was Bar Kochba, and what did his rebellion signify for Jewish history?

Dr. Abramson in print:

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Who was Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai? (Jewish Biography as History) Dr. Henry Abramson

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Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai (d. c. 85 ce) was one of the most influential figures in ancient Jewish history. Emerging from the ruins of the destroyed Temple, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai led the Jewish people through the dangerous first years after the devastation of the last remnants of their state by the Romans. A disciple of Hillel, he was of the “national-realist” school that favored tactical surrender to the overwhelming power of the Roman Empire. In his most famous act, he arranged to fake his own death in order to escape his enemies among the Zealots to negotiate a peace treaty with Vespasian, who would later become Emperor. “Give me Yavneh and its scholars,” asked Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, setting in place the foundation for the existence of Judaism after the Temple could no longer serve as the center of Jewish religious life. Part of the Jewish Biography as History series available at http://www.jewishhistorylectures.com.

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The Kabbalah of Forgiveness Coming in Time for Rosh Hashanah

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New for the Season of Repentance: a translation and modern commentary on Rabbi Moshe Cordovero’s classic of Jewish ethics, the Date Palm of Devorah (Tomer Devorah). Learn the Thirteen Levels of Mercy and discover how to forgive others (and yourself). Please visit http://www.jewishhistorylectures.org and click on “The Kabbalah of Forgiveness” for excerpts and videos. Publication date: Rosh Hodesh Elul (August 26-27, 2014).

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (This Week in Jewish History)

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch via Wikimedia Commons
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch via Wikimedia Commons

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) articulated a strategy to allow Jews their traditional observances while participating actively in the modern world.  Criticized from both the left and the right, his thought remains highly influential into the 21st century.

Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin (This Week in Jewish History)

The Yeshiva of Volozhin via Wikimedia Commons
The Yeshiva of Volozhin via Wikimedia Commons

Founder of the famous Yeshiva of Volozhin, Rabbi Hayim ben Yitshad was one of the most influential proponents of traditional Talmudic study of the early 19th century.  The author of Nefesh haHayim, he articulated a cogent response to the growing Hasidic movement.

Nicholas Donin and the Disputation of 1240 (This Week in Jewish History)

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In 1240 Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, engaged in a public debate with his former teacher, Rabbi Yechiel of Paris. Donin charged that the Talmud was a noxious document that prevented the Jews from embracing Christianity, and brought a total of 35 distinct accusations against this ancient holy text. Ultimately, 24 carriage loads of Talmuds, representing 10,000 priceless manuscripts were burned in Paris on June 6, 1242.

Personal note to my subscribers: I was so impressed with the NCSY Learnathon that my son Alexander completed, that I decided to join on my own! Please visit http://learn.ncsy.org/learner/hmabramson/ to support this great organization that does so much for Jewish youth (and encourage me to study more Talmud)!