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Crazy Jews, Crazy World

A four-part study guide for Purim
Noam Zion, Steve Israel
Llanydd Lloyd/Unsplash
Llanydd Lloyd/Unsplash
Noam Zion is a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute since 1978. He studied philosophy and holds degrees from Columbia University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He studied bible and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the Hartman Beit Midrash. In the past, he led the Tichon program for North American Jewish educators and he teaches in Hartman Institute rabbinic programs: the Be’eri program

Steve Israel

Purim is in many ways the strangest of all the chagim. How can we explain the fact that the seemingly secular Purim story, as told in the Scroll of Esther, has elicited such extraordinary praise from the Sages of the Talmudic period and those who followed them? And as if the theological vacuum in the text is not enough, the way that the chag is celebrated also raises significant questions.

These two strange facts of rabbinic culture – the reverence for a book with a theological vacuum at its heart, and the obligation to get so drunk as to lose the ability to make distinctions between good and evil – force us to look for hidden messages in the Rabbis’ understanding of Purim.

Purim Syllabus

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