A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014)
Midrash Agnon – English study sessions with R. Jeffrey Saks on Agnon’s writings.
Exploring the connection between the Nobel laureate and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, along with other important influences on Agnon’s writing.
Live at Agnon House and online world-wide via WebYeshiva.org/Agnon – Sundays at 7:00pm Israel time. 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 course will cost $45. To pay, please choose from the options below.
A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014): Lesson 1
Introduction: I am looking forward to a learning adventure as we explore the impact and influence of the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (and others) on Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon’s writing. For those of you have have been in these Agnon series in the past – I can’t predict what this 6 week experience will be like, because (partially) it is an opportunity for me to work out my own thoughts on these topics as we move along. I predict that many of the sessions will be much more focused on exploring themes rather than the type of close reading of individual stories a la what we’ve often done in the past. For those that want some background, I have uploaded a biography of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov from the introduction to Arnold Band’s translations of the Tales(http://www.amazon.com/Nahman-Bratslav-Classics-Western-Spirituality/dp/0809121034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384180068&sr=8-1&keywords=arnold+band+nahman), as well as the introductory chapter from Martin Buber’s edition of these same stories(http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Rabbi-Nachman-Martin-Buber/dp/1573924539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384180099&sr=8-1&keywords=martin+buber+nachman). A visit to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nachman_of_Breslov)will also fill in the basic details. Those who know little or nothing of Breslov Hassidut are advised to not be prejudiced by its contemporary iteration, (http://youtu.be/gSoMvDJyp0w?t=17s)which would likely have been unfamiliar to Rebbe Nachman and Agnon both. For your reference, most of the primary works of Breslov Hassidut can be found online here: breslav.co.il/?category=books(http://www.breslav.co.il/?category=books) ——– POSTCRIPT: In a rather uncharacteristic occurrence, I found that I had a lot of material that I needed to cut from this lecture, so I recorded a short supplementary “episode” that rounds out the theme of what Rebbe Nachman and Agnon each thought the power of story-telling and writing was. It’s about 24 minutes long and includes a recording of Agnon’s Nobel Prize Speech (that clip also available here). You can listen to the MP3 recording or download it from this link: webyeshiva.org/class/?material=4965 The accompanying PDF (labelled “Supplementary Sources”) (http://www.webyeshiva.org/wp-content/uploads/13168_0_Agnon_and_Rebbe_Nachman_1_-_Supplement.pdf)contains the corresponding sources I refer to in the recording.
A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014): Lesson 2
The Rabbis Son: We will compare Rebbe Nachman’s tale “The Rabbi’s Son” (available in Hebrew here,(http://www.breslav.co.il/?category=books&subcat=927&pageart=936) and attached in translation) (http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?material=4960)to Agnon’s story HaNidach. HaNidach (“The Banished”) appears as the first story in Elu veElu (http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=185)(contact me(email@example.com) of you’d like a copy), but unfortunately has not yet been translated. For those who can’t handle the Hebrew please look over Band’s summary (attached).(http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?material=4961)
A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014): Lesson 3
Hirshl Hurwitz as the Rooster Prince- One of Rebbe Nachman’s most well known short stories is “The Turkey (or Rooster) Prince” – available here in Hebrew(http://www.breslav.co.il/?category=books&subcat=927&pageart=1578) and here in translation(http://breslov.org/rebbe-nachmans-story-the-turkey-prince/). (Even Rebbe Woody seems to be playing off of this Rebbe Nachman tale: http://youtu.be/W-M3Q2zhGd4) This tale seems to have served as a basis for part of the plot of Agnon’s A Simple Story (in Hebrew: Sippur Pashut, usually printed in the volume Al Kapot HaManul(http://schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=198) but also available in annotated stand-alone editions(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=1138)), which is the story of Hirshl Hurwitz’s love-sick descent into madness, and his treatment in the sanatorium of Dr. Langsam. Attached in a forthcoming newly revised translation are the relevant chapters 27-29. I have also attached Arnold Band’s summary of the novel (http://www.webyeshiva.org/wp-content/uploads/13170_0_Simple_Story_(Summary).pdf)from his important work, Nostalgia and Nightmare(http://www.amazon.com/Nostalgia-Nightmare-study-fiction-Agnon/dp/B0006BR6CS).(https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152123735245336&l=2ecedab8b1) For a recorded lecture giving an overview to A Simple Story, visit the link at: http://youtu.be/zgMkrjSxHa4
A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014): Lesson 4
The Seven Beggars and the Good Years: For our next session we’ll compare the theme of “yeridat ha-dorot” (the diminishing of the merit of each subsequent generation) as it appears in Rebbe Nachman’s tale “The Seven Beggars” (attached in translation; Hebrew source here(http://www.breslav.co.il/?category=books&subcat=927&pageart=941)) and Agnon’s short stort “HaShanim HaTovot” (attached in translation as “The Good Years”; the Hebrew appears in the volume Elu veElu – email me(http://www.breslav.co.il/?category=books&subcat=927&pageart=941) if you’d like a copy.)
A-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2 & 9, 2014): Lesson 5
The Song Which Was Sung: We will look at Agnon’s 1940 short story “HaShir Asher Hushar” (“The Song Which Was Sung”), from the “surrealistic” collection Sefer HaMa’asim. It is a story more about Agnon’s interactions in Jerusalem with Breslover Hassidim than a story written in “Nachmanesque” fashion. The story is attached here in my experimental translation(http://www.webyeshiva.org/wp-content/uploads/13172_0_%D7%94%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%A8_%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%A8_%D7%94%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%A8.pdf) – please do not distribute! Among other elements, the story deals with the Breslover niggunim (wordless songs), which can be sampled at this link(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFj8VBhxvdg&feature=share&list=PLE0796057EED8108A). See the attached December 2010 story in Maariv about the location of the Breslover beit midrash(http://www.nrg.co.il/online/54/ART2/184/114.html) in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Hesed neighborhood (the apparent setting of “The Song Which Was Sung”). It describes how the dilapidated building was spared being demolished at the last minute. UPDATE: The Breslov synagogue in which the story apparently is set can be found at 11 HaShelah Street in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Chesed (https://www.google.com/maps/preview/place/HaShla+11,+Yerushalayim,+Israelfirstname.lastname@example.org,35.211386,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x1502d62b3b718273:0xc50d6f6cb22e22b6)neighborhood. See attached pictures(http://www.webyeshiva.org/wp-content/uploads/13172_0_%D7%91%D7%99%D7%94%D7%9B_%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%A8_%D7%94%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%A8_%D7%91%D7%95_%D7%94%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%A8_%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%A8_%D7%94%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%A8.pptx), which show how another building is being erected around and on top of the original structure!
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).