Audio Roundup Special: Straus Center

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by Joel Rich

Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Twice Blest: Exploring Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible  collection

Dr. Shaina Trapedo ,Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson -“That foul defacer of God’s handiwork”: Bodies in the Hebrew Bible and Richard III

How does one view Richard the third’s deformity – as divine governance, a predetermined mark, a window to the soul? The answer tells us more about the respondent than the text! It’s also a basic theological question.,-widowers,-and-shakespeare%E2%80%99s-merchant-of-venice/

Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg,Dr. Shaina Trapedo- “The prop that doth sustain my house”: Jewish Women, Widowers, and Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

Jews in medieval Ashkenaz were basically forced into money lending which was an important function yet led to much negative press. While they searched for stability and a legacy for their children, the search was often frustrating.

Also discussed, the nature of prayer.

Dr. Shaina Trapedo,Professor Julia Reinhard Lupton- “Speak what we feel”: Biblical Blessings and Beyond in Shakespeare’s King Lear

King Lear showcases knowledge through suffering – Shakespeare drew on wisdom literature in his writing. There are parallels to biblical gatherings of the family and parental blessings and curses. Blessings can help when justice feels far away but is it they always live happily ever after?

Dr. Shaina Trapedo ,Dr. Susan Weissman-“Remember me”: Ghosts and the Afterlife in Hamlet and Rabbinic and Medieval Jewish Literature

There are definitely parallels between Shakespeare’s (eg Hamlet) ghosts and those reflected in medieval jewish sources (sefer chassidim v those in the gemara). This can be seen in the nature of “dangerous” ghosts and how the living deal with them (see the R Akiva/kaddish story). Similar parallels exist for post-mortem penance and remembering the dead.

Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik ,Dr. Shaina Trapedo -“His deputy anointed in His sight”: Kingship in Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible

Themes in the anointed monarchy from Shakespeare and Tanach. Finding the proper balance between the king’s roles (man of the people, leader and Gods representative) is not easy. Majesty and humility indeed.

Dr. Shaina Trapedo ,Professor Paul Cantor -“The sin upon my head”: The Hebrew Bible in Shakespeare’s Henry V

Henry the Vth was about legitimacy of the monarchy (and its decisions) through religious justification and the relationship between the monarchy and religion. There are parallels to both Joshua and the Pesach seder.

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman ,Dr. Shaina Trapedo- “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends”: Hamlet and Torah Tradition

There are parallels between the themes in Hamlet and in the Bible centering on human interactions. Part of our mesora chain is passing on stories between generations. We don’t see much of internal narratives in the torah but more so in nach. Remember that actions must reinforce values.

Rabbi Dov Lerner,Dr. Shaina Trapedo -“I will better the instruction”: Sufferance and Vengeance in The Merchant of Venice and Jewish Thought

What are the lessons of Yaakov/Lavan’s business dealings – is man an object or subject (of divine will)? Everyone interprets the text according to their own narrative. What is our attitude toward revenge? (OK if it is to accomplish justice.)


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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