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Talmud as Philosophy with Rabbi Ira Stone

This class is intended to raise the question: What is the Talmud? And to propose as the answer to this question: a unique approach to philosophic thinking, different from the development of philosophy in the West, specifically, in the mode of Greek philosophy.

We will begin with an introductory session introducing the Talmud for those unfamiliar with it. We will sketch its history and review the traditional understanding of its role in Jewish life, which had been central for centuries. I will introduce the methodology of the French-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas for analyzing Talmudic material and then expand upon that methodology. Our text for the class will be the first chapter of the Talmud, chapter one of the tractate Berachot, “blessings.”

Format: Virtual (on Zoom)

Time: Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00pm

Dates: Jan. 11 - Feb. 15, 2023 (6 sessions)

Cost: $120/Member, $180/Non-member

Beth Shalom will refund tuition in the event a course is canceled.  Students who withdraw from a course and request a refund within two weeks of the course’s start date are eligible for a pro-rated refund.  Tuition will not be refunded for course withdrawal after two weeks from a course’s start date.

Rabbi Ira F. Stone is currently the director of the Center For Contemporary Mussar. He was Rabbi of Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel in center city Philadelphia from 1988 until 2014.  Before coming to Philadelphia he served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom in Seattle, Washington for nine years.  Rabbi Stone is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where he received a BA in Religious Studies.  He attended the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and graduated from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1979 with a Masters of Hebrew Literature and was ordained as a rabbi at that time. Rabbi Stone has written articles on theology and rabbinics for various journals including Conservative Judaism, Wellspring Journal, Middlebury College Magazine and Kerem His first book, “Seeking the Path to Life” was published in 1992 by Jewish Lights Publishing.  His second book, “Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud” was published in 1997 by The Jewish Publication Society.  His new book, “A Responsible Life: Mussar As A Spiritual Path,” was published by Aviv Press in the Fall of 2006. His commentary om the classic Mussar work Mesillat Yesharim was published by JPS in 2010. His latest book written with Dr. Beulah Trey was published in 2019 by IUniverse is In Search of the Holy Life: The kabbalistic roots of Mussar.

He has also published poetry extensively in various journals and is the author of collections such as Sketches For a Book of Psalms, The Really Perfect Poems Has an Infinitely Small Vocabulary, and most recently, Toward Eighty.

Rabbi Stone served as lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary and adjunct and visiting lecturer in Modern Jewish Thought at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.  

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Shevat 5783