Salt in the Wind: A Major Look at Minor Biblical Figures, Level II Syllabus

October 10, 2007
Midrash: The Dirt to Fill in the Holes

We all are familiar with the concepts of oral Torah and written Torah . . . but are we really? How do you fit in that line of tradition and transmission? This opening session will focus on figuring out where we stand and what we can do to keep that chain unbroken and learn what it means to actually dig deep within the text and pull out the ikar and the sod.

October 17 and October 24, 2007
Will Noah’s Wife Please Stand Up?

Every word in the Torah counts. Nothing is superfluous, and each letter and each word has significance. It would seem that the Torah doesn’t tell us anything about Noah’s wife . . . or does it? Let’s trace the clues together—and determine if the rabbis of the midrash and commentary are wrong, right, both, or neither!

October 31 and November 7, 2007
A Pillar of What? Why?

Cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot charge God with such an offense, but that is what it would seem. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt, but what is the real background story? What is the behind-the-scenes story? And most important of all: did she deserve it?

November 14 and November  28, 2007
I Know a Guy Who Knows a Guy . . .

Joseph lost his way, but then he found a Man in the Field. Who was that man? What does that man’s identity tell us about God? What does it tell us about how things might have been different? How can we use the many tools of midrash and hermeneutics to determine the identity of the Ish BaSadeh?

December 5 and December 12, 2007
Likely Conspirators

Bigtan and Teresh are the leastdiscussed cameos in Megilat Esther. And yet, even they, too, have a back-story. What does the rereading of this story as it should be read (rated R and adults-only) reveal about the real Bigtan and Teresh?

December 19, 2007, and  January 9, 2008
More Midrash for the Seder

You probably know someone named Shifrah, but how about Puah? Why do you think that is? Who were these important and righteous women? What did they do to merit a legacy of remembrance by all future generations? And of course, this will be a wrap-up of the semester and how to turn all of this learning into teaching.

January 16, 2008
Where Do We Go From Here? Wrap-up.

We will spend this session using all of the tools we’ve learned this year and work in havruta on some previously unseen texts. We will do our own midrash and see how it weighs against the solutions suggested over the centuries. Following this session, each student will feel comfortable approaching both a page of Tanakh and of midrash and making sense of the “true” story.