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Mini Series: Midrash Agnon - Tehilla

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Rabbi Jeffrey Saks

Mini Series: Midrash Agnon - Tehilla

Sunday 5:30PM
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Course Description

Midrash Agnon - Tehilla

This class is no longer in session. For archives, please see below.

Righteousness, Repentance, Redemption, Reward and Punishment - all explored in our 3-part mini-series on Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon's beloved story "Tehilla" with Rabbi Jeffrey Saks and sponsored by Lincoln Square Synagogue.

Participate in the course live in Agnon's own house in Talpiot, Jerusalem, or via the simultaneous, interactive, online broadcast via WebYeshiva.org. (Sessions will be recorded and archived for those unable to join in "real time").

The series is sponsered by Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, which will host simultaneous, interactive broadcasts - click here for more information on participating live at Lincoln Square.


About Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding Director of ATID―The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem. An editorial board member of the journal Tradition, Rabbi Saks authored Spiritualizing Halakhic Education (Mandel Foundation) and edited Wisdom From All My Teachers: Challenges and Initiatives in Contemporary Torah Education (Urim). He is a graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Smicha) and participated in the Jerusalem Fellows program for senior Jewish educators at the Mandel Institute. He has taught at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls and Yeshivat Hamivtar.

Class Resources & Information

Can't watch the Webex archive files? Click Here
May 15, 2011 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Midrash Agnon - Tehilla (1 of 3)

Midrash Agnon - Tehilla
Righteousness, Repentance, Redemption, Reward and Punishment - all explored in our 3-part mini-series on Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon's beloved story "Tehilla". We will enjoy this classic tale of Jerusalem's Old City before the founding of the State from a literary perspective, while unraveling the "intertexts" of classical Jewish sources from which Agnon drew, and explore the resonances between text and mastertext.

"Tehilla" will be read in English translation, with references to the original Hebrew text - but Hebrew fluency is not required to participate.

Links here for "Tehilla" in original Hebrew as well as English translation. It's greatly preferred that you read the story before the series begins (if possible in Ivrit; if not then in translation) - for our first session minimally, please try to read pp. 75-91 of the English translation (= pages 178-192 in the Hebrew).

pdfTehilla (English)
mp3MP3 Recording - Session1
May 22, 2011 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Midrash Agnon - Tehilla (2 of 3)

For the second session in our reading of Tehilla, we'll pick up where we left off (page 84 of the Lever translation: right click here to save the PDF of that translation to your computer). Please try to finish reading the whole story for next week. (I have also uploaded the I.M. Lask translation, which is more literal yet less poetic. We will continue to work with the Lever translation however.)

In addition, there are links to my conjectural timeline of the events in Tehilla (spoiler alert if you haven't finished reading the whole story); also, the section from Agnon's 1958 speech called "Likhvod Atzmi" in which he revisits the character of Tehilla (in Hebrew only, sorry); in addition there is a copy of Talmud Taanit 8a in original and translation - the relevant point is in note 21 in the English commentary. How does this aggada resonate with our story?

I have also uploaded a Yehuda Amichai "prose poem" which seems to be saying something about Tehilla (not sure intentionally or not). I welcome your thoughts on this.

Finally, and with apologies for whatever tech problem we had today: uploaded are 3 photos of the Kotel and Old City from the days of Tehilla. You'll notice how different it looks from today.

Recordings in different formats of today's session should be available shortly on the website for those that missed. Bonus: Next week our session takes place on Lag BaOmer, which was a date of profound importance to Agnon. A prize will be awarded for the first person to identify at least three events from his life connected with Lag BaOmer. 

pdfI.M. Lask Translation
pdfTaanit 8a
imageKotel Picture 1
imageKotel Picture 2 (1856)
imageKotel Picture 3 (1944)
mp3MP3 Recording - Session2
May 29, 2011 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Midrash Agnon - Tehilla (3 of 3)
For our third and final session on Agnon's "Tehilla" please finish the story and/or re-read it. Links to archive of first two sessions will be available on the website here: http://www.webyeshiva.org/class.php?cid=498
Please consider the following for the last session:
1. The undercurrent of Megillat Rut (Biblical Book of Ruth) has been pointed out - what does it mean? What is Agnon trying to do by creating those resonances?
2. We didn't get to Taanit 8a this last time, so if you haven't please see story of "Chulda veBor" there (at note 21 in the English translation).
3. Tehilla is 104 at story's end - what is Tehillim (Psalm) 104 about? Is there a connection here?
Finally, what are the main themes and messages of the story? What might be an allegorical interpretation that seems plausible to you?
Like I mentioned, Rachel Lobel was last week's prize-winner in answering what happened to Agnon on Lag BaOmer. Among the things on the list was that he married Esther Marx in 1920 (91 years ago today). For this week's prize - be the first to write in with the name of the rabbi that officiated at their wedding. (Previous prize-winners ineligible.) [UPDATE: Correct answer provided by Sally Stone: Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg.]

I have also added links to the 2 stories with parallel motifs re "hidden tzaddikim".

Feel free to be in touch with your insights or questions. Also, please email me if you have any trouble accessing the attachments.
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Director, ATID - Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions
9 HaNassi St., Jerusalem 92188 ISRAEL
Tel. 02.567.1719 | Cell 052.321.4884 | Fax 02.567.1723
E-mail: atid@atid.org | www.atid.org | www.WebYeshiva.org
GoogleTalk/Skype: jeffreysaks
pdfTehillim 104
mp3Agnon Meets Tehilla - MP3 (Likhvod Atzmi)
pdfTaanit 8a
mp3MP3 Recording - Session3

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