Vayikra: The Heart of the Torah

Date: Feb 05, 2019

Time: noon - 1:00 p.m.

Sponsor: Online Learning | Online Learning for Clergy

Location: Online

Category: Clergy: Continuing Ed Online Learning


This class is geared toward rabbis and others with advanced text skills. Texts will be studied in the original Hebrew.

Perhaps no other book in the Tanakh is as challenging to modern religious sensibilities as Vayikra. Yet the Israelites regarded this book as presenting the very heart of biblical religion. When viewed from the perspective of the anthropology of religion, Vayikra reveals itself to be the essential book of biblical theology, addressing issues of God’s immanence and transcendence, the relationship between God and creation, and above all, divine grace. We will utilize recent scholarship, including work by Jacob Milgrom and Baruch Schwartz, to uncover the surprisingly human theology of this work. We will also consider how Vayikra can be regarded as a proto-Kabbalistic work and, paradoxically, as the most Christian book of the Tanakh.

Four Tuesdays
February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2019 
12:00–1:00 p.m. ET


Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages Benjamin D. Sommer joined The Jewish Theological Seminary faculty as professor of Bible in July 2008. Previously, he served as director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University, where he had taught since 1994. Dr. Sommer has been a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Tikvah Center for Jewish Law and Civilization at the New York University School of Law, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He has served as a visiting faculty member in the Department of Bible of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. He has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Yad Hanadiv/Berakha Foundation.

Cost: $80 (includes all curricular materials)

Space is limited. Advance registration required.

For more information, contact Lynn Feinman at or (212) 678-8821.