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Midrash Agnon: A Simple Story (Feb 12, 19, March 5)

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Midrash Agnon: A Simple Story (Feb 12, 19, March 5)

Sunday 7:00PM
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Course Description

Join us for a 3-part lecture series on S.Y. Agnon’s novel A Simple Story – set in small town Jewish Galicia, a scene of bitter-sweet romance, revealing the profound psychological and social insights of the Nobel laureate’s finest fiction.


Please note this course has a fee of $20.

The class will meet February 12, 19, and March 5, 2017, and will be broadcast live from Beit Agnon in Jerusalem.

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

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February 12, 2017 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Complexly Simple or Simply Complex?

For those wishing to read the novel in advance of our three sessions (highly recommended) it is available in the new Toby Press edition as A Simple Story (click for Amazon or for Toby Press).

In Hebrew it appears in the anthology Al Kapot HaManul -- or in a stand-alone annotated volume as Sippur Pashut (both from Schocken).

While it is hoped that you will get the book and read the whole story, attached are chaps. 1-5 to get you started. If you are able to read in advance of the first session all the better!

pdfChapters 1-5
February 19, 2017 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Descent to Madness

For our second session we will look at Hirshl's love-sick descent into madness and the unconventional treatment he receives at the sanatorium of Dr. Langsam. If you haven't finished the whole book yet, please concentrate on chapters 21-29 (to purchase the book: Amazon - Toby Press - Hebrew).

Attached are some "Tales of Madness" -- sources from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a very important influence on Agnon, and items with resonances in our novel. Another great Rebbe seems to have also been interpreting Rebbe Nachman here (click).

For those in need of a "Cliff Notes" to A Simple Story, click here for Arnold Band's summary.

pdfTales of Madness
March 5, 2017 7:00PM - 8:30PM
And They Lived Happily Ever After?

For our final session on A Simple Story in two weeks (Sun, March 5) please finish your reading of the novel, focusing on the final chapters 30-37. I would be glad to get your reaction to the very "indeterminate" ending. We never learn what happens to Blume -- but what do you think Hirshl and Mina's life together looks like after "The End"? I would also encourage you to read my Foreword and Halkin's Afterword.
In the meantime, please take note of the following:

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