Audio Roundup Special

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by Joel Rich

Henry Abramson Essential Lectures
“Essential lectures” are a series of short review lectures. There are longer lectures available on quite a few topics. I’m still looking for an on-line in-depth series on Jewish history or specific portions thereon.
Also, if you’ve listened to any Mada related series you think I’d find interesting, please let me know.

Jewish History and Historians (Essential Lectures in Jewish History) This series concerns Jewish history from the beginning of the diaspora. History captures reality (facts) and literacy (interpretation). It also serves a social function of providing a cohesive narrative. Discussion of historical sources and problems with certain historians (agendas, hagiography…).

Jews and Judaism in the Year Zero

Primary sources for history of the beginning of the diaspora include Josephus. There were fierce political splits (zealots et al) and also messianic forces.

The Fox in the Ruins: The Roman-Jewish WarsDiscussion of Eliezer’s and Bar Kochba’s wars against Romans (sounds like he takes the asura hargei malchot literally).

Judaism and Early Christianity


History and teachings of Yushke and Paul.

The Mishnah


R’Yehuda Hanasi, written and oral law. Structure and purpose of mishna.

Jewish Communal Structure: The Kehilla

Description of lay and religious leadership (and the dynamic tension between them). How were proclamations enforced? What areas were covered?

The Talmud


Goals, layout and authorship discussed.

Jews in the Early Islamic PeriodHistory of Islam and Mohammed. Islam was an egalitarian movement, which accepted elements of faiths it conquered. Many similarities to Judaism. Judaism was accepted as a second class but protected religion.

The Jewish Kingdom of Khazaria

Kuzari was a philosophical work but there was a kingdom or Khazars – not clear how much of Judaism they took on and no evidence of any impact on Judaism.

The Golden Age of Spanish Jewry


Until the reconquering of Spain by Europe, there was a successful, integrated Jewish community under Moslem rule.

The Rishonim


Job of rishonim was to make Talmud accessible to “modern” readers as well as codify, clarify and analyze. Some had an interest in philosophy.

Jews in the Medieval Economy


Jews had specific, non-land owning roles allowed by the King. Money lending was lucrative, portable, not physical and had good hours! It also caused resentment and danger. They also were involved in crafts and running taverns.

The Eastern European Center


Why did the Jews move to Poland/Lithuania? Problems in Western Europe, as well as invitation (based on economics) of local nobles. They were successful because the nobles didn’t want to interact with the serfs and inserted Jews between them. Cossacks resented them, it didn’t end well!

What is Modern Jewish History?

Basically 17th century and later when reason and industrialization replaced religion. There was a decline in kehila structure.

Jewish History in the Sixteenth Century Changes in demographics and technology had a large impact. The Rabbis of Tzfat also had a strong influence.

The Haskalah

Reason and autonomy trends led to changes in Jewish thought. The impact varied across Europe. Mendelssohn was the key player (Orthodox reaction discussed as well).

Origins of Modern Jewish Humor


Theory is real Jewish humor differentiation began with the emancipation and is based on:

  • the disconnect between theoretical chosen, and our actual, status
  • self-depreciation

  • irreverence

Modern Antisemitism


Primarily based on new focus on race as well as conspiracy.

Women in Jewish History


Usually a unique minority had influence, they usually had subversive power. Things have changed in the 20th Century.

The Holocaust


WWII history and formalization of the killing machine.

The Borders of Israel

19th century through Mandate, Balfour, partition, 1948, 1967, 1973, Sinai, Gaza…

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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