Monday, November 6, 2017

Class reviews fall 5778

Class reviews fall 5778

Aggadah
What are the 3 ways one can view an Aggada according to the Rambam? Which one is preferable in his mind?
Who was the “author” of the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva?
What were the major two theological issues touched by the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva? Which was the primary problem, and which was easily “sidestepped”?

Is Theodicy (the idea of questioning "why bad things happen to good people") an essential part of the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva?
Regarding the problem of the
What are the two paradoxes in the story of Moshe and Akiva?
How are we as the reader more aware of why the death of Akiva is not a theological problem than Moshe?
How does Rashi solve the first theological problem in the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva?

What problem did we note with Rashi's approach (in the manner he solved the first theological problem in the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva)?

How does the Arizal solve the first theological problem in the Aggada of Moshe and Akiva?

What is the concept of "Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants"? How was it relevant to our discussion?

What was the Hebrew word used for "mountains" – as in the ability for Rabbi Akiva to derive "mountains of law"? what is the significance of this particular word?

According to Rebbe Nachman from Breslov – what is the significance of silence? Does his explanation fit easily into the text?

According to Rashi – what was God’s first thought?
Why was it necessary to create the world by “Din” (judgement)?
Who was treated in the “strictest possible manner? Who else?
In what sense does Akiva continue the life of Moshe?
How is water and a rock connected to Moshe’s death?
How is water and a rock connected to Akiva?
How was Akiva’s death considered a “reward”?
How did Akiva’s death “fix” an aspect of Moshe’s life?
Which two problems were posed on the passage “Elu v’ Elu” (“These and these”)?
What was the question which was cited by the Ritva in the name of the “rabbis from France”?
Did the Midrash in Tehilim directly relate to the passage “Elu v’ Elu” (“These and these”)?
Did all sources agree that all details of Torah were revealed to Moshe?
What does the word “Living” modify?
How does translating “Elu v’ Elu” (“These and these”) differently make the question reported by the Ritva disappear?
Where did the Talmud Yerushalmi say the Bat Kol (“Elu v’ Elu”) was heard?
In what sense did the Bat Kol (“Elu v’ Elu”) counter established Jewish Law?
Why couldn’t the schools of Hillel and Shamai come to an understanding?
Why couldn’t the schools of Hillel and Shamai just follow the majority?
Why was the law established in accordance with the School of Hillel?
In what way did the School of Hillel have a superior methodology?
Why did the Bat Kol (“Elu v’ Elu”) “have” to support the School of Hillel?
How did the concept of a diet shed light on halakic practice?
Is it justified if a person always follows the School of Shammai?
How does the Talmud label a person who is always strict? Why?
How does the Talmud label a person who is always lenient? Why?
In what way is looking at art similar to the experience at Sinai?
What term did the Jerusalem Talmud use for someone who allowed something patently not allowed?

In what way is the name “Chanukah” an appropriate name for the holiday?
How did the completion of the building of the Second Temple compare to the completion of the First Temple? The Mishkan?
Why would celebrating the battle of Chanukah have been inappropriate? (3 reasons)
In what way does the Rambam in his description of Chanukah depart from what the Talmud says?
It what way does the Rambam see Chanukah as a religious holiday? Secular holiday?
What was the context in the Talmud, of the story of the "Oven of Achnai"?
Was Rabbi Eliezer able to bring any logical proofs to support his opinion?
Which word describing the Rabbis rejection of Rabbi Eliezer seemed superfluous?
What was the response to the uprooted tree?
What does an uprooted tree symbolize?
Why did Rabbi Eliezer bother with the stream after he saw the response to the uprooted tree?
In what way were both Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbis correct?
What would Ima Shalom never let Rabbi Eliezer do?
What was the defense of Raban Gamliel of his treatment of Rabbi Eliezer?
How do we see that the rabbis were scared of Rabbi Eliezer?
How does the context of the Oven story explain the death of Raban Gamliel?
What theme in the earlier years of Rabbi Eliezer foreshadowed his later years?
How old was Rabbi Eliezer when he started to learn?
Why did Rabbi Eliezer never study Torah as  a youth?
As far as Raban Yochanan ben Zakai was concerned - where did Rabbi Eliezer's Torah come from?
How did rabbenu Chananel (cited in the Shita Mikubetzet) solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth?
How did Tosfot solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth?
How did Rabbenu Nissim solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth? (2 reasons)
How did the Ran solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth?
How did the Sefer Hachinuch solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth?
How did the Vilna Gaon solve the dilemma – how the rabbis could have ignored the truth?
What happened the day Rabbi Eliezer died?
What foreshadowing did we see of Rabbi Akiva’s death (2)?
How did the words of Rabbi Eliezer in Piriki Avot connect to his biography?








Parasha – World of the Sages
When is the first time God spoke to Avraham? Why is this complicated?
What is the significance of the following numbers? 3, 40, 48, 52, 70, 75?
What is the difference between the way which Avraham addresses the male versus the female client? What does this indicate?
In what way did the midrash “foreshadow” the binding of Isaac in terms of the relationship between Avraham and his father?
What was the dialogue between Avraham and Nimrod?
Which two biblical statements give us some insight into the personality of Terach?
Did Terach respect his father? How do you know?

Did God ever say to Avrahom to kill Yitzchak?
What is the literal definition of the word olah?
What are the “holy sparks of paganism” of which Rav Kook spoke?
What was our conclusion regarding the reason God told Avraham to put Yitzchok on the altar?
In what way was AviMelech moral?
In what way does Avraham chastise Avimelech?
The binding of Yitzchak is introduced as “after these things” – which things?
How could the treatment of Yishmael be an introduction and perhaps justification of the akaida?

Were Avraham and Sarah spiritual equals?
Who thought that Sarah was inferior to Avraham?
Who was Hagar?
What was possibly counter intuitive in the selection of Hagar?
What was the source of Hagar’s claim to her own greatness?
How old was Sarah when she died?
What was the significance behind the manner which the Torah delineated her age?
In what sense can prophecy at times be considered a “burden”?
Which blessing did Yitzchak wish to give to Esav?
Which blessing did Yitzchak wish to give to Yaakov?
Which blessing did Yitzchak give to Yaakov when he thought it was Esav?
Which blessing did Yitzchak give to Esav when he knew it was Esav?
Which blessing did Yitzchak give to Yaakov when he knew it was Yaakov?
What did Yitzchak mean when he said “the voice is the of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Esav”?
When Yitzchak said “the voice is the of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Esav”, did the sentence end with a “question mark” or an explanation point?!
When did Yaakov realize his mother was correct?
What was Yitzchak’s vision for his two sons?
When did Yitzchak realize his vision for his two sons was faulty?
What was Rivaka’s understanding of the eventual relationship between her sons? From where did she get this understanding?
What did Yitzchak come to learn about the capabilities of Yaakov?

Which instruction to Yaakov did both of his parents agree upon?
When Yaakov slept which vision did he see?
How was Yaakov’s vison related to the content of God’s message to him?
How did God refer to Yaakov’s father? What was missing?
When Yaakov was blessed by God, which blessing was missing?
Did the angels first go up or come down? What is the significance?
How did the color blue relate to having one’s head in heaven?

Why was Yaakov scared when he returned to Israel?
What is enigmatic about Yaakov’s struggle?
What did Yaakov see in himself which scared him?
Why did Esav not kill Yaakov when he finally had the opportunity? (what caused his change of heart?)
According to the Zohar what was the date when Yaakov and Esav met?
Where did Yaakov go to after his confrontation with Esav?
How is the holiday of Sukkot related to Yaakov?
What is the meaning of the law of gid hanashe in the context of the narrative?
How are the gifts that Yaakov sends Esav reminiscent of the Yom Kippur service?
What element of Yom Kippur involves “twins”? why?
How does the story and struggle of Yaakov indicate the Jewish attitude toward wealth?
When Yosef meets his brothers why does he accuse them of being spies?
What does Yosef put in the brother’s bag the first time? Why?
What does Yosef put in the brother’s bag the second time? Why?
Why did Potifar buy Yosef?
How did Yosef know the baker would die?
How do we see “bread” is related to the evil inclination in the Yosef narrative?
In Yosef’s mind what/whom does the chalice represent?

Why does Yosef place the chalice in his brother’s bag?
What earlier episode in the brother’s lives is Yosef trying to replicate?
What is strange about the “negotiations” between Yosef and his brothers?
What does Yosef mean when he says “I am Yosef” is my father still alive?
Which specific point is Yosef trying to clarify with regards to his brothers?
When Yosef reveals himself to his brothers –what are the contours of the new relationship?
Is Yosef providing food for his brothers considered good or bad?
What happens before Yosef dies which heals the fraternal relationship?
Which are the first siblings in the book of Shmot who display sibling responsibility?
Did Moshe have a "Jewish" name?
What law are we told the Jews abandoned in Egypt?
Why was it important that Moshe came from the palace?
What did Moshe learn from his mother? How do we see this?
How did Rav Yehudah divide the plagues?
What do the first, fourth and seventh plagues have in common?
What do the second, fifth, and eighth plagues have in common?
What do the third, sixth and ninth plagues have in common?
What do the eighth, ninth and tenth plagues have in common?
How does understanding of Egyptian mythology give insight to the meaning of the plagues?





Contemporary Halacha – Law and Ethics
What was the case of “Buck versus Bell”?
Was it in fact surprising to find writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in the Nuremberg collection?
Why was Kellog’s cornflakes originally developed?


What is the classical discussion of limited resources and life and death consequences?
How did Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel suggest we solve moral dilemmas involving limited resources?
What was the case with 2people in the desert?
How many solutions are there to the dilemma of 2 people in the desert?
What is cognitive dissonance?

Which verse did Rabbi Akiva use to understand how to resolve the dilemma of 2 people in the desert?

Which verse did Ben Petura use to understand how to resolve the dilemma of 2 people in the desert?

How did Rabbi Akiva resolve the dilemma of 2 people in the desert?
How did Ben Petura resolve the dilemma of 2 people in the desert?

What was the case which brought the response “who says your blood is redder”?

What would Rabbi Akiva say if someone said “kill him or I will kill you”?

What was the “logical conclusion” which according to Tosfot was the overriding principle of
According to Tosfot was the overriding principle when dealing with the case of 2 people in desert, and someone who said “kill him or I will kill you”?

What was the claim of Rav Chaim, when he accused Tosafot of reaching an “illogical conclusion”?

How would a Shabbat elevator work taking into consideration the rationale of Tosfot?
How would a shabbat elevator work taking into consideration the rationale of Rav Chaim?
Is it a simple thing to translate laws of damages or murder to Shabbat? Why?
What do that rabbis do when the letter of the law is kept but the spirit of the law is trampled upon?
Give an example where Isaiah (Yishayahu) made up a “rabbinic law”.

What was the case of the two towns?
What was the unusual opinion of Rav Yossi, when it came to laundry?
How did the opinion of Rav Yossi shed light on Ben Petura?
Did Rav Yossi follow Rabbi Akiva or Ben Petura?
What was the intrigue in the text of the Mishna regarding saving a life? Which text would seem to be authentic? How do you know?
According to the Mishna what is an example of Tikkun Olam?
Which Mitzvah does the Rambam state is the greatest mitzvah?
What exception does the Rambam state for the “greatest mitzvah”?
What is an example of macro thinking?
What is an example of “result oriented” thinking?
According to the Talmud what are the three Chanukah lighting possibilities?
What is strange about most people’s Chanukah lighting custom?
According to Rav Moshe Feinstein where should the Chanukah candles be lit if you live in an apartment building?
According to the Chazon Ish where should the Chanukah candles be lit if you live in an apartment building?
According to the Brisker Rav where should the Chanukah candles be lit if you live in an apartment building?
How did we see an expansive definition of “times of danger”?

What are the contours of the abortion debate in America?
How does Jewish law differ from either extreme in the American abortion debate?
What is the case in the Mishna regarding abortion? In which case was it permissive? In which case was it stringent?
What was the discussion in the Talmud regarding a rodef? Why was the Mishna introduced?
Is a “good Samaritan” more like a judge or police? What is your proof?
What leap of logic did the Rambam use regarding a rodef? What are the implications of this leap?
What considerations did Rabbi Yakov Emdem consider before allowing an abortion?
What considerations did Rabbi Yair Bachrach (Chavat Yair) consider before allowing an abortion?
What considerations did the Maharit consider before allowing an abortion?
In what sense was the Ben Ish Chai "coy" when discussing abortion?
What do we believe was the Ben Ish Chai's own opinion regarding abortion?
What was the case of the conjoined twins?
What were the possible legal ramifications the case of the conjoined twins?
What was the decision of Rav Moshe Feinstein in the case of the conjoined twins?
How did Rav Feinstein's strict opinion in the case of abortion pave the way for a leniency in the case of the conjoined twins?
What is triage?
Is triage consistent with Jewish law?
What did Rav Moshe Feinstein suggest should be the overlying principle when saving lives?
What did Rav Moshe Feinstein suggest should be the solution if two lifesaving opportunities arrive simultaneously?
What was the differences between the first and second chapters of the Shma noted by Rav Chaim of Volozhin? What did we learn from this?


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review Questions Spring 5777

Review Questions Spring 5777

Aggada
1.     Describe the personality of Haman
2.     Describe the personality of Ahashverosh
3.     Was Vashti really a feminist?
4.     Who was Vashti?
5.     What did Ahashverosh do become he became king?
6.     What emerges when we compare Esther to Vashti?
7.     What changed when Esther went to see  Ahashverosh?
8.     Give three interpretations to “as I am lost I am lost”.
9.     What would indicate that Haman was Bi-polar?
10.  What was Esther’s plan to save the Jews?
11.  How do we see that Vashti was defiant and Esther compliant?
12.  What does the Midrash portray as the complaints of Esther?
13.  Which four people does the Talmud ask for their origins (from the Torah)?
14.  Which verse does the Talmud cite as the “source” for Moshe?
15.  Which verse does the Talmud cite as the “source” for Haman?
16.  Which verse does the Talmud cite as the “source” for Esther?
17.  Which verse does the Talmud cite as the “source” for Mordechai?
18.  Which sense was not “corrupted” in the sin in Eden?
19.  Which earlier biblical character does the Talmud imply had commonality with Haman?
20.  How does Mordechai serve as a foil for Haman, if Mordechai represents incense?
21.  What was Esther’s real name? what is the significance?
22.  Whom does the Zohar associate with Esther?
23.  What was the religious experience of Esther (as suggested by the Zohar) has she goes to see the King?
24.  Name the four “sons”.
25.  What verse does the wise son cite?
26.  What is the answer to the wise son in the Torah?
27.  What is the answer to the wise son in the Haggada?
28.  What is the meaning of the answer to the wise son in the Haggada? (Vilna Gaon)
29.  Based on the context in the Torah is the wise son wise?
30.  What verse does the wicked son cite?
31.  What is the answer to the wicked son in the Torah?
32.  What is the answer to the wicked son in the Haggada?
33.  What is the meaning of the answer to the wicked son in the Haggada? (Vilna Gaon)
34.  Based on the context in the Torah is the wicked son wicked?
35.  How would the generation who leaved Egypt have responded to the question of the “wicked son”?
36.  Which word in the Torah may nonetheless, indicate the wicked son is not interested in the answer?
37.  How did the Mechilta understand the tone of voice of the wicked son?
38.  How did the Jerusalem Talmud understand the tone of voice of the wicked son?
39.  Whom did we theorize the Mechilta was addressing?
40.  In what way did Rabbi Chiya update the message in the Mechilta?
41.  Did the wise son actually quote the Torah verbatim?
42.  According to the Talmud, what was the cause of the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students?
43.  According to the Rav Sherira Gaon, what was the cause of the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students?
44.  When is the first time we see sources mentioning mourning in connection with the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s students?
45.  What was Rabbi Akiva’s attitude to yeshiva students when he himself was unlearned?
46.  What was the attitude of Rabbi Akiva to Bar Kochva?
47.  Who disagreed with Rabbi Akiva in regard to Bar Kochva?
48.  What did Rav Yochanan ben Torata say to rabbi Akiva?
49.  How could the Rambam rule like Rabbi Akiva when he was blatantly wrong?
50.  Who was called “the son of a cow”?
51.  What is the significance of “grass will grow from your cheeks”?
52.  What teaching have been handed down by Rav Yochanan ben Torata?
53.  Why was Rabbi Akiva in prison?
54.  What is strange about Rashbi visiting Rabbi Akiva in prison?
55.  In what way did Rabbi Shimon threaten Rabbi Akiva?
56.  What was the BenYehodaya’s explanation of Rabbi Shimon’s threat?
57.  What was Rabbi Akiva’s strategy in the struggle against the Roman’s?
58.  What was the content Rabbi Akiva’s last speech?
59.  Who was Papus? What was his disagreement with Rabbi Akiva? Did he ever concede?
60.  Which biblical model did the Vilna Gaon use to figure out historical auspicious times?
61.  Which biblical character did the Vilna Gaon focus on in terms of his messianic idea?
62.  Which two days did the Vilna Gaon’s students claim were special? Why? Was this arbitrary?
63.  What did  Rav Shimon do when he came out of the cave the first time?
64.  What did  Rav Shimon do when he came out of the cave the second time time?
65.  What was the metamorphosis of Rashbi?
66.  Who is Rashbi?
67.  What happened when Rashbi saw the world had gone dark?



Parasha
1.     How does Rashi explain the verbose introduction to the Ten Commandments?
2.     How is synesthesia related to revelation?
3.     What is “theophany”?
4.     What did the people see at Sinai?
5.     At which point did the Torah relate that Moshe “glowed”?
6.     How did the midrash describe the movement of the letters on the Ten Commandments as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf?
7.     According to the Midrash we saw – why was the Oral Law given verbally (and not in a written form)?
8.     Where did the Glow of Moshe come from?
9.     Why should we have anticipated the building of the Ark in Parashat Terumah?
10.  How does Parashat Terumah relate to and complete the Revelation at Sinai?
11.  What is the significance of the two cherubs being made out of one piece of gold? What else was made of one piece?
12.  How did the pagans react when they saw the cherubs?
13.  What were the Cherubs doing at the moment of the destruction? Why was this counter- intuitive? What is the explanation?
14.  What does the Talmud say was created at the moment of the destruction?
15.  Where are Cherubs first found in the Torah?
16.  What do the Cherubs represent?
17.  Who were the four people who stood out in the war against Amalek? Where else do we see these four in special roles?
18.  What happened to Hur?
19.  Who was the “prototype” for The Messiah from Judah?
20.  Who was the “prototype” for The Messiah from Joseph?
21.  What did Aharon “see” which caused him to participate in the sin of the Golden Calf?
22.  Which Parasha does not have the name of Moshe?
23.  Who asked for Moshe’s name to be erased? Why?
24.  Why was Moshe removed specifically from this particular parasha?
25.  In what was do we act as angels on Yom Kippur? Why?
26.  In what way was Moshe angelic?
27.  Was Moshes’s stutter a “disability”?
28.  According to the Maharal – why don’t we know where Moshe was buried?
29.  What was the underpinning of the sin of the Golden Calf?
30.  Who did Rav Shimon meet on the beach?
31.  What is the significance of the beach (yam) in the Story with Rav Shimon?
32.  Which verse Did Eliyahu ask about?
33.  Where did Eliyahu get his explanation of the verse?
34.  What was merged together at the time of creation (according to the teaching cited by Eliyahu)
35.  Which word was “broken” by the sin of the Golden Calf?
36.  When was the first time that people tried tom understand that which the couldn’t?
37.  What would be a more accurate name for the Tree of Knowledge?
38.  How does Rashi seem to contradict himself regarding the Red Heifer (Para Adumah)?
39.  How did we try to show that Rashi did not  contradict himself regarding the Red Heifer (Para Adumah)?
40.  In what way was the Rambam’s view on Sacrifices confusing?
41.  How did the Ramban explain Sacrifices?
42.  What did Rav Kook say about sacrifices?
43.  What did Rav Kook say about vegetarianism?
44.  How did the Rambam understand that concept of the lamb and the lion getting along?
45.  How did Rav Kook understand that concept of the lamb and the lion getting along?
46.  What is the most profound type of tuma?
47.  How would you define tuma?
48.  Why is the narrative of the Deaths of Nadav and Avihu in the book of Exodus?
49.  Which day is referenced in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers as present tense?
50.  Why does a woman who gave birth bring a sin offering?
51.  How does Rabbi Shimon Bat Yochai explain the sin offering of the new born mother?
52.  What is the sin offering of the new born mother?
53.  How is the sin offering on the new moon, different from other holidays?
54.  Why is a goat always brought as a sin offering on holidays?
55.  Why would Rashi say that God is seeking forgiveness? For what?
56.  According to the Ramban what was the reason for the destruction of the first temple? In the Ramban’s mind which biblical section hinted at this?
57.  According to the Ramban what was the reason for the destruction of the second temple? In the Ramban’s mind which biblical section hinted at this?
58.  Who in the bible is described as “happy and full of good cheer”? what happened to them?
59.  Should we see the glass as “half full or half empty”? explain
60.  How is lack of happiness related to groundless hatred?
61.  Is it a universal understanding that there are 5 books of the Torah?
62.  How many letter make up the smallest book?
63.  What is the difference between the 3 books which make up Bamidbar?
64.  What made Moshe suicidal?

Halacha
1.     What was the case of the Shvut Yakov?
2.     How was the case of the Shvut Yakov related to Esther?
3.     What was the case of the Maharik?
4.     How did the Shvut Yakov use the precedence of the Maharik? (consequences are not correlated to culpability)
5.     What was the objection of the Noda Beyehuda to the Shvut Yakov?
6.     How did the Noda Beyehuda “save” Esther?
7.     What was the case brought by the Binyan Zion?
8.     How did the Binyan Zion attempt to save the woman in his case?
9.     What was the Binyan Zion’s ruling?
10.  Is the Jewish attitude toward Amalek necessarily racist?
11.  Can a Jew achieve the status of Amalek?
12.  How can a person born as Amalek lose the status and stigma as Amalek?
13.  In what was would “converting Amalek be “poetic justice?
14.  Who was Timna? What did she want to do?
15.  What did Rav Kook say should be the attitude toward evil?
16.  Is an Eruv a “legal fiction”?
17.  What is a “public area” regarding shabbat?
18.  Is a corporation a “legal fiction”?
19.  Where is the oldest source about selling chamets?
20.  According to Rav Moshe is the sale of chamets a “legal fiction”?
21.  According to Noda Beyehuda is the sale of chamets a “legal fiction”?
22.  How can the sale of chamets be compared to “nullifying chamets”?
23.  Is “nullifying chamets” a legal issue or a religious issue?
24.  Does a person really own chamets on Pesach?
25.  If a person threatened to kill if a Jew unless they break Shabbat – what should he/she do?
26.  Which three laws should never be broken?
27.  What was strange about the methodology of Tosfot when dealing with martyrdom?
28.  Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon said one should never harm themselves, did Tosfot have an exception?
29.  How did Tosfot reconcile the statement of Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon with the behavior of the 400 children?
30.  What was the first “leap of logic” of Rabbenu Tam?

31.  What was the second “leap of logic” of Rabbenu Tam?