Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jewish Law and Ethics Fall 5776 Review questions

Jewish Law and Ethics Fall 5776 Review questions
1.       If 2 people are in the desert and one has water for only one to survive….what are the 4 possible solutions?
2.       Of the 4 solutions which does the Talmud consider?
3.       Which other solution, not mentioned in the Talmud, is entertained by commentaries?
4.       According to Rabbi Akiva what should the person do with the water? Why?
5.       According to Ben Petura what should the person do with the water? Why?
6.       How did Eli Weisel explain “Your brother shall live with you”?
7.       What was the logic of Ben Petura?
8.       If someone said “kill him or I will kill you” what should you do? What would Rabbi Akiva say?
9.       How is the case someone said “kill him or I will kill you” different from the case of two people in the desert with one cup of water? (Tosfot)
10.   What would be the proper thing if someone said “don’t move” and then tried to push your body onto a helpless baby? What did Tosfot say?
11.   How did R’ Chaim critique the position of Tosafot in the case where someone said “don’t move” and then tried to push your body onto a helpless baby? 
12.   According to R’ Chaim what is the most important factor in the case in the desert?
13.   How did the positions of Tosafot and R Chaim, impact the Shabbat elevator discussion?
14.   How is the case of the two towns with one stream similar and different from the case of the two people in the desert?
15.   What three usages of water did the Talmud consider in the case of the two towns with one stream?
16.   What was the argument between The Chachamim (sages) and Rabbi Yossi (in the case of the two towns with one stream)?
17.   Who ruled like Rabbi Yossi?
18.   In what way does Rabbi Yossi agree with Rabbi Akiva?
19.   How does Rabbi Yossi shed light on the opinion of Rabbi Akiva?
20.   How does Rabbi Yossi shed light on the opinion of Ben Petura?

21.   Which types of body “material” can be donated? List 5 and explain the complexity of each one
22.   What was the teaching of the Noda Beyehuda regarding autopsies? How does it realte to transplants?
23.   How did Rav Ovadya Yosef broaden the teaching of the Noda Beyehuda?
24.   What case does the Recanati bring which is relevant to the organ donor discussion?
25.   How does the position of the Radvaz qualify and limit when organs should be donated
26.   Is it moral to buy or sell organs? explain

Chanuka – law and custom time of danger
27.   Where does the Gemara say is the proper place to light Chanukah candles?
28.   Under which conditions does the Gemara say one can light by the window?
29.   What does the Gemara say should be done in respect to Chanukah candles in a time of danger?
30.   How has the concept of danger changed through out history?
31.   What was the danger in France in the Middle Ages?
32.   Why was Chanukah a particularly dangerous time of year?
33.   What is the debate regarding the lighting in modern Israel? Which group is particularly conservative to do what it says in the shulchan oruch (as opposed to the Talmud)?
Redeeming Captives
34.   How does the Mishna use the term “Tikkun Olam”?
35.   “Saving a life is like saving the entire world”? What did we find complicated about this text?
36.   What was unusual about the Rambam’s discussion of redeeming a captive?
37.   According to the Mishna (and Rambam) what are the limitations in redeeming a captive?

38.   Which captive ordered that he not be redeemed?

World of the Sages Fall 5776

World of the Sages
1.       Was Noah called a “Tzadddik” without qualification? Explain
2.       How were the comments of Rashi regarding Noah “asymmetrical”?
3.       How did Rashi’s comments compare to the sources he was gleaning from?
4.       Which biblical character did Rashi compare Noah to?
5.       Which biblical characters did the Midrash compare Noah to? Why?
6.       Where did Noah and Avraham “overlap”? what happened?
7.       What would indicate that Noah suffered from post-traumatic stress and depression?
8.       What does the Zohar call Noah?
and more…
1.       How old was Avraham when God told him to leave his birthplace? How old was he when he actually left?
2.       What emerged when we compared the text describing Avraham leaving Haran with his leaving to perform the akaida (the binding)
3.       How old was Avraham at the brit bein habitarim (covenant of the pieces)?
4.       How long did God say at the brit bein habitarim (covenant of the pieces) did God say the “estrangement and slavery” last?
5.       How long did the “estrangement and slavery” last according to the narrative in the book of Exodus (Shnot)?
6.       How did Rashi reconcile the numbers 400 and 430?
7.       Does the Torah ever say that God saved Avraham from the furnace? Explain
8.       What two things did Terach do which may have had a major impact on his son’s religious outlook?
9.       Which nascent philosophical arguments can you discern from the midrashim, which describe Avraham’s iconoclasm?
1.       When the “Akaida” (Binding) is introduced the Torah writes “and after these things” which things? (2 possibilities)
2.       What is the connection between ethics and monotheism?
3.       Why would killing his son have been difficult for Avraham (4 reasons)?
4.       In which even in Avraham’s life is the Akaida foreshadowed (2 examples – one in Midrash, and one in the Torah text)
5.       What about the dialogue between Avraham and Yitzchak indicates tenderness?
6.       Whose idea was the actual tying (in the Akaida)? Why?
7.       What does the angel say to Avraham that he now knows about him?
8.       How does the episode with Avimelech shed light on the Akaida story?
9.       What does Avimelech say which indicates that he was a “moral relativist”?

Chaya Sara
1.       Were Avraham and Sarah spiritual equals?
2.       Who claimed that Avraham and Sarah were not spiritual equals?
3.       Why did Hagar think she was superior? Who disagreed?
4.       What were the origins of Hagar – from a textual perspective?
5.       What were the origins of Hagar – from a midrashic perspective?
6.       According to the Midrash – to whom should we be comparing Hagar?
7.       What was special about the tent of Sarah?
8.       At which point of Avraham’s life did he approximate one aspect of the tent of Sarah?
9.       What is the earliest reference which could be made for the spiritual equality of Avraham and Sara?
10.   What unified Sarah’s tent and Avraham’s sojourn to perform the akaida? What can we learn from this?

Parshat Vayishlach (and some Toldot and Vayetze)
1.       In what way was the Yitzchal/Rivka family dysfunctional?
2.       When Rivka was troubled about her pregnancy – in what way did God provide “too much information”?
3.       How can we tell from Yitzchak’s intended blessings what he thought the relationship between Yakov and Esav SHOULD be?
4.       When Esav asked for food – how did Yakov then know that his mother was right? how did he respond?
5.       When Yakov dreamed of the ladder – what did God say? What did God not say?
6.       When Yakov came back to Israel – what was he afraid of?
7.       Who was the person that Yakov “wrestled” with? How is the adversary described by the Torah? Rashi?
8.       Why did Esav not harm Yakov when they finally met? What did Esav see? Who had had previously seen this?
9.       What date was the meeting between Yakov and Esav according to the Zohar? How does the Zohar know this?
10.   How is the conflict of Yakov resolved? What does this have to do with Sukkot?

1.       What does it mean that Yakov wished to “live in tranquility”?
2.       Which brother suggested to kill Yosef?
3.       Which brother suggested to let Yosef die?
4.       Which brother suggested to sell Yosef?
5.       What “sign from heaven” convinced Yehudah that he should get rid of Yosef?
6.       How did the brothers inform Yakov of Yosef’s death?
7.       Which thematic issues link the chapter describing the sale of Yosef (37) and the chapter with Yehuda’s “fall” (38)?
8.       How should Yehuda have responded to his son’s death?
9.       What does the Midrash say God was “doing” during the sale of Yosef?
10.   How would you compare Yosef and Tamar with Yosef and Mrs. Potifar?
11.   Why does messaich come from Yehudah and not Yosef?

1.       What was the initial plan which Yosef devised? What did he hope would happen when his brothers arrived
2.       What was Yosef’s “plan b”?
3.       What did Yosef want his brothers to respond when he accused them of being spies? What did they in fact respond?
4.       Why did Yosef put his brothers in prison?
5.       What did Yosef wish to imply when he put the money in their bags?
6.       What was the emotional significance of having their bags searched? When did this happen before?
7.       In what way was the negotiations between Yosef and the brothers counter intuitive?
8.       Why did the brothers say they deserve to be enslaved?
9.       In what way did Yosef provide the brothers with an excuse if they wanted to abandon Binyamin and leave?
10.   What was the purpose of the entire charade which Yosef performed?
11.   What was “plan c”?

Parashat Vayigash
12.   What is the overarching theme of the book of Bereishit (Genesis)?
13.   In what way is the end of Bereishit a happy ending?
14.   How did Yosef reveal himself to his brothers?(which precise words did he use?)
15.   How did the brothers understand Yosef’s when he revealed himself? Bring textual proof
16.   How did the rabbis in the Midrash understand Yosef’s when he revealed himself?

Parashat Vayehi
17.   What scared Yakov on his death bed?
18.   Who is the “klipah”(counterfeit) of Avraham? In what way?
19.   Who is the “klipah”(counterfeit) of Yitzchak? In what way?
20.   What did the sons (brothers) do to relive Yakov’s fear?
21.   When we say Shema – who is the “Yisrael” we refer to?
22.   Why do we cover our eyes when we say Shema?

23.   How did the sister of Moshe save his life?
24.   How does the behavior of Miriam contrast with the behavior of siblings in Bereishit?
25.   What did the daughter of Paroh name Moshe? Why?
26.   When paroh’s daughter offered to pay Yocheved – in what way was this a hint of the future redemption?
27.   When Moshe left the palace- what was he looking for? How did it indicate his mother succeeded?
28.   How did Moshe impact his adopted mother?
29.   Which “Jewish” behavior did the Jews retain?
30.   In what sense was Moshe an unexpected and “undeserving “ savior? What does this teach us?
31.   How would the Rambam explain the loss of “free will” of Paroh?
32.   How would the Seforno explain the loss of “free will” of Paroh?
33.   How does the devolution of the crocodile to serpent impact the discussion on Paroh’s free will?

Aggada Review questions Fall 5776

Review questions Fall 5776
1.       What is the apparent paradox in the story of Moshe and Rabbi Akiva?
2.       How would a comment of Rashi solve the paradox?
3.       What difficulties did we find with Rashi’s solution
4.       How did the Arizal solve the paradox in the story with Moshe and Rabbi Akiva?
5.       What did we note was significant with the usage of the word “tel” (heaps)?
6.       Would Rabbi Akiva have considered his own death an example of “a bad thing happening to a good person”? explain
7.       Which row did Moshe sit in Rabbi Akiva’s classroom? (two possibilities) what is the meaning and significance?
8.       What was particularly difficult with the choice on God’s part regarding which scene of Rabbi Akiva’s life to show Moshe?
9.       In what way was showing Rabbi Akiva’s lifeless body a response to “theodicy”?
10.   Where else did we see a “thought that arose in God’s mind”?
11.   Why was the world created through “strictness”? What evidence exists for this contention?
12.   In what way was Akiva’s strict death a “reward”?
13.   Aside From Rabbi Akiva who else was treated very strictly?
14.   In what sense did Rabbi Akiva follow or complete Moshe?
15.   How does water and a well connect Moshe and Rabbi Akiva?
1.       Which 2 schools argued for 3 years?
2.       After 3 years of arguing how was the disagreement resolved?
3.       What was the question that Tosfot (cited by RITVA) regarding the concept of “Elu v Elu”(These and these)?
4.       What source did Tosfot cite to explain regarding the concept of “Elu v Elu”(These and these)?
5.       How did Tosfot answer the question regarding Elu V Elu? What was the difficulty we had in reading this source back  into the original text?
6.       In what way was the citation of Tosfot selective? (regarding the concept of “Elu v Elu”-These and these)
7.       What is the “maximalistic” concept of revelation? How was this expressed by the sages?
8.       What is the minimalistic concept of revelation? How was this expressed by the sages?
9.       What does the word “Hayim” –living, come to modify in the phrase Elu V Elu…? 2 possibilities, explain.
10.   Why did the argument between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai take place at this point in history? Why could it not be resolved? How were arguments usually resolved?
11.   According to the Jerusalem Talmud – where (and when) did the voice “elu v elu” ring out?
12.   How did the educational approach of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai respectfully preclude their ability to work things out?
13.   According to the Talmud why was the law established like Beit Hillel? What is the difficulty with this approach? How was it defended and explained?
14.   In what way was the approach of Beit Shammai mutually exclusive from the concept of “elu v elu”?
1.       What question does the Gemara ask about Chanukah?
2.       What is the answer the Gemara gives about Chanukah?
3.       Had there not been a miracle of lights would Chanukah had become a holiday?
4.       How does the “light” miracle connect thematically with the consecration of the Mishkan and First Temple?
5.       What was missing at the consecration of the second temple?
6.       Why did some people laugh and some cry when the second temple was consecrated?
7.       In what way did the Maccabees sin?
8.       Why is the Battle of Chanuka NOT worth celebrating? (3 reasons)
9.       What “decree” does the Talmud and Midrash state with regards to the Greeks?
10.   How is the lighting of the candles an inverse of writing on a horn?
11.   How is an ox related to Yosef?
12.   Why would the Hellenists have found Yosef to be a compelling personality?
13.   What does a Unicorn have to do with Adam?
14.   How is a Unicorn related to Tefilin? Who made this connection?

1.       Is a cracked - fixed  - oven, a utensil? Who argued about this?
2.       When Rabbi Eliezer offered “every answer in the world” how did his protagonists respond?
3.       Which 4 signs did Rabbi Eliezer perform? What was the response? Why did he do the second when they had ignored the first?
4.       Who was “right” Rabbi Eliezer or his protagonists? explain
5.       Who went to inform Rabbi Eliezer that he had been “removed?
6.       What explanation did Raban Gamliel answer offer to explain his treatment of Rabbi Eliezer?
7.       What was the name of Rabbi Eliezer’s wife? What prayer would she not let her husband say? What happened when he said it?
8.       What was the response of Rabbi Yeshoshua when the voice came from heaven declared Rabbi Eliezer correct?
9.       What did we notice regarding Rabbi Eliezer’s response to questions that's indicated rigidity?
10.   Why did Horkonus have his son plow on the rocks? How did his son respond?
11.   What did his father tell him to do when Rabbi Eliezer expressed the desire to study Torah
12.   In what way was the Torah of Rabbi Elezer from heaven?
13.   What did Rabbi Eliezer’s teacher say that gave him the impression that he should not listen to the majority?
14.   Which elements of Rabbi Eliezer’s early life foreshadowed his excommunication?
15.   Why did the Rabbis come to visit R’ Eliezer before he died?
16.   How did they the Rabbis explain their lack of visiting him recently? What was his response?
17.   How is Rabbi Akiva’s death foreshowed in the death passage of Rabbi Eliezer (2 elements)?
18.   What was the question of Rabbi Nissin Gaon regarding the behavior of the Rabbis and Rabbi Eliezer? Which 2 answers does he offer? Are the answers satisfactory?
19.   How does The Sefer HaChinuch understand the behavior of the Rabbis in terms of their conflict with Rabbi Eliezer? Who did he think is right? why?

20.   How did the Vilna Gaon justify the behavior of the Rabbis in terms of their conflict with Rabbi Eliezer? Which rabbinic source did he muster to explain the phenomenon?