More Learning

Learning at the Library Minyan

Passover Worksops

March 18, 2012 — Passover Workshops: “The Fifth Question: Passover Poetry and Fiction” with Rabbi Miriyam Glazer — text to be studied is here (pdf), or here (web page).

Purim Study

The Ritual Committee of the Library Minyan has been encouraging learning and Drashot this year during the Months of Adar leading up to  the Festival of Purim.

Feb 5th Drash of Norm Saiger, click here.

For the Feb 12 Drash of Howard Tillman, click here.

For a Purim Study Guide put out by The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, click here.

Birkat Cohenim

The Ritual Committee of the Library Minyan has been approached with a request to include the “Birkat Cohanim”. Follow the discussion here.

Mishna Study

Every regular Shabbat morning (except for days when Hallel is said or there is a major Minyan simcha), the Minyan begins with a Mishna learning session. The session lasts 25 minutes, from 9:20 to 9:45, with rabbis, teachers, and other members of the Minyan taking turns to teach the week’s lesson. A printed sheet is distributed at the beginning of each session (and is available to stragglers as they come in). The sheet contains both the Hebrew and English texts of the Mishna, plus the commentaries (in both Hebrew and English) of Rabbi Kahati, a modern commentator. This year we are studying Tractate Rosh Hashana.

The Mishna is the earliest code of Jewish law, which was originally taught orally by the rabbis in the Holy Land during the approximately four centuries from the second century before the Common Era to the second century after the Common Era. It was redacted (edited) by Rabbi Judah HaNasi (The Prince) at the end of the second/beginning of the third century of the Common Era and reduced to writing either then or shortly thereafter. Composed of 6 Orders, the Mishna represents an attempt by the rabbis to systematize the various laws included in the Torah into some sort of logical sequence. Each order is broken down into approximately ten tractates; tractates are divided into chapters; and chapters are divided into the smallest units, called mishnayot (Mishnas). Each Mishna is fairly short – less than 10 sentences – which makes it just the right length to cover in a 20 minute session. Occasionally, we take a couple sessions to learn one Mishna if there’s a lot of commentary.

The Mishna is the base layer in the two-layered repository of Jewish Law called the Talmud. The Talmud, which follows the exact same structure as the Mishna, has a second considerably more voluminous layer, the Gemara, which is a record of the discussions of the rabbis about the Mishna that ensued over the next three or four hundred years after the redaction of the Mishna. Different versions of the Talmud were produced in the two centers of Jewish life (Palestine and Babylonia) at that time (the 3rd to 6th centuries of the Common Era), but the Mishna layer of both Talmuds is virtually identical.

If you would like to check out the section of the Mishna we are studying, there are a few web sites that have the Mishna on line. The first provides the text of the Mishna in English, along with Rabbi Kahati’s commentary. This site, found at, is the web page of Torah Community Connections and contains the index to the archives of their Mishna Yomit program.

If you are one who believes that the Oral law should be studied aurally, you can find it at, where you should look for Masechta Rosh Hashana. This is the web site of the Shema Yisrael Torah Network, again their Mishna Yomis archives.

Finally, if you want the text in unvocalized Hebrew, you can check out, which presents the text of the Mishna in Hebrew, graphically displayed so you can see the internal structure of the Mishna. The web site also contains articles in Hebrew and English on the internal structure of the Mishna and other sacred Hebrew writings. The web site belongs to Moshe Kline, an American now living in Jerusalem.

Thanks to Ronnie Cohen for preparing this section.

D’rashot and Divrei Torah

Each week a member of the Minyan provides a d’rash, or interpretation, of that week’s Torah reading portion. Visit the D’rasha Archive to drashot from the past several years.

Parashat Ha’shavua

This section contains links to interpretations of the weekly Torah portions by Library Minyan members, as well as other Parashat ha’shavua sites of potential interest.

Visit the Parashat Ha’shavua Archive

Rabbi Brad Artson, a Minyan member, also prepares a weekly parashat ha’shavuah which he distributes by list serve. If you would like to subscribe (it’s free), send an e-mail to and type “SUBSCRIBE TORAH.”

If you are interested in reading the weekly interpretation by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, you can sign up at

Another interesting weekly interpretation by Rabbi Shlomo Risken, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, can be accessed at .

Rabbinical Assembly.

You can view some of the RA’s teshuvot at the following site:  Check it out!

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