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Machshava Shiurim

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R. Yehoshua’s conquest of the sages of Athens: An adventure in Aggadatah


A seemingly bizarre narrative in the Talmud describes an intriguing encounter between Rabbi Yehoshua and the sages of the school of Athens. While a superficial reading leaves us baffled, a deeper reading opens up worlds of perspectives on a clash of world views, methodologies and value systems.

The audio shiur consists of three segments:

1. A preliminary reading of the Talmudic text.

2. An analysis of the deeper meanings of this text- part 1.

3. An analysis of the deeper meanings of this text – part 2. 

Kol Nidrei

Why do we introduce the holiest day of the year with the seemingly trivial Kol Nidrei prayer? What understanding emerges from the primary sources? What can we learn from this dramatic, yet enigmatic aspect of our liturgy? 

How to be a Zadik

 Which is greater, learning Torah or saving Am Yisrael? What is true Tzidkut? Did Chazal think it was wrong for Mordechai to be mevatel Torah in order to save us from Haman? Why was Moshe the epitome of a Tzadik? A crucial discussion of the sources.

Halachah and Values- a case study

An analysis of a seemingly bizarre sugyah, revealing how it reflects and teaches values and sensitivity, when understood properly. An example of how shas and halachah can be the best mussar sefer, if approached in the right way. 

Yom Yerushalyim: Unity or Separation?

The value of unity amongst the Jewish People and its relevance to Yom Yerushalayim

Exploring the Relationships between the Avot and Imahot

Was Avraham oblivious to his wife's beauty? If so, is that a good thing? What are Chazal really saying? A beautiful perspective on beauty! 

Did Rivkah really keep the prophecy to her self and not tell her husband? How is that possible? The answer tells us much about machloket! 

Should Bnei Torah Serve in Tzahal?

One of the most burning and sensitive issues of our day is whether or not Bnei Torah should serve in Tzahal. There are those who vociferously argue they should not- but is that what the Torah actually says? A newer version of the discussion of the topic- including a new discussion of the narrative of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven. 

The Halachik Significance of the State of Israel: A study in Tzom Gedaliah (and chanukah)

There are unfortunately those today who deny that their is significance to the existence of the State of Israel from the perspective of Torah. We will see that this claim ignores numerous Halachik sources (as well as other sources in Torah litterature). 

Talmud Torah vs Chesed- which is the greater?

One of the most misinterpreted texts in Chazal involves the crucial and intricate question, "which is greater, Talmud Torah or Chesed?" In this shiur, we explore this question and other related issues. Along the way, many texts in Avot and elsewhere are elucidated. 

Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair and his donkey

An analysis of several key aggadic texts, including the narrative of R. Pinchas ben Yair and his donkey, as well as his famous beriatah (which is the foundation of Mesillat Yesharim). 

These texts have much to say about how we are to approach our Avodat Hashem, especially in terms of doing things in the best possible way. This shiur relates to our discussion of chumrot, and more.