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Beginnings and Order: Encounters with Jewish Creation Myths

Drawing on classical midrash, medieval exegesis and kabbalah, Melila Hellner-Eshed explores interpretations of the iconic opening of the Bible.
Michelangelo - public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Michelangelo - public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Melila Hellner-Eshed, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at Shalom Hartman Institute and the Director of Maskilot, an intensive two-year program for female doctoral candidates, now opening its fourth cohort. She also founded and co-directs the Rabbinic Students Seminar, a interdenominational program for rabbinic students spending a year in Israel. She has been a professor of Jewish mysticism and Zohar in the Department of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University in

Beginnings and Order: Encounters with Jewish Creation Myths

How do we create new beginnings? How do we establish order in our lives and worlds? While the Genesis creation story is a familiar, seamless, and orderly one, later commentaries probe it to reveal cracks and underlying layers of the narrative. What gets lost or sacrificed when something is created and order is introduced? What precedes creation?

Drawing on sources such as classical midrash, medieval exegesis, and kabbalah, Melila Hellner-Eshed explores various interpretations of this opening, iconic part of the Bible. These interpreters not only play with the text and language of the story, but in doing so, convey distinct approaches towards the deepest, existential questions confronting humanity.

Session 1
Recorded March 1, 2022

Session 2
Recorded March 8, 2022

Session 3
Recorded March 15, 2022

This series is part of Ideas for Today, our yearlong offering of curated courses led by leading scholars addressing the compelling contemporary Jewish issues of the day.

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