Sfat Emet: The Blessings of Blessing
A live, interactive course led by
R. Prof. Elie Holzer
Exploring bracha (blessing) as a daily, essential concept that lies at the intersection of life’s existential, psycho-religious, and ethical dimensions, in the Hasidic writings of the Sfat Emet (authored by R. Yehuda Leib Alter, 1848-1905).
In the first chapter of Bereishit, God blesses animals, Adam and Eve, and the entirety of Creation. Human beings respond through verbal expressions, blessing God’s Name at specific times and at the advent of certain opportunities and experiences. In Rabbinic Judaism, blessings have been institutionalized and ritualized, and they constitute a many-times-daily, essential speech act.
How might we make sense of blessing as a relational, spiritual/religious, and ethical practice, far from potential ‘magical’ overtones?
In this course, we will explore the insights of the Sfat Emet (writings of R. Yehuda Leib Alter, 1848-1905) into bracha (blessing) as an essential experiential concept that lies at the intersection of life’s existential, psycho-religious, and ethical dimensions. Like other key concepts the Sfat Emet illuminates, delving into the world of bracha attunes our eyes, ears, and hearts to the numinous dimension of life, transforms our awareness of being in the world, and awakens us to the gift, the responsibility, the fragility, and the call of existence.
With inspiration from additional authors and philosophers, we will explore and discuss the ways in which we might re-engage with the concept of bracha in our lives, helping us to refresh and revitalize Jewish religious life against the backdrop of the current spiritually hungry and complex world, rather than merely sliding back into the comfort of traditional religious teachings.
THURSDAYS from 9-10:15 a.m. ET
September 2020: 17.
October 2020: 1, 15, 29.
November 2020: 12, 26.
December 2020: 10, 17.
January 2021: 7, 21.