Online Friday Noon Study Group

January 24, 2020 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

The Friday Noon Study Group will not meet on August 14.

Last Friday, our study group concluded its discussion of Barry Holtz’s Rabbi Akiva with a consideration of the following issues:

  • The question of which is greater, the study of Torah or the practice of Judaism? Can we conclude, as the sages did, that because practice (ethical behavior) is the purpose of study, then study is greater because it leads to practice?  Is there evidence that clearly demonstrates this theoretical conclusion?

  • The question of why Rabbi Akiva was so hardly regarded by Jewish mystics. Akiva achieved a superior position among the sages in part because he was the only sage to have emerged unscathed from the visit to Pardes.  It was alleged that he had actually seen the face of HaShem during that visit.

  • The significance of Akiva’s meticulous methods of textual interpretation of the mysteries of Torah. Unlike Rabbi Ishmael, Akiva went beyond the plain sense of texts to examine their hidden meanings.  This point is aptly driven home in the Talmudic tale involving Moses questioning the elaborate calligraphic flourishes God put into his inscription of the Torah.  God gives Moses a glimpse into the future to watch Akiva explaining the significance of those flourishes (crowns on the letters) to his students.

Our group will reconvene for one more session in August when we meet on Friday, August 21 for a brief prelude to our next topic:  Biblical Archaeology.

On the 21st, we will discuss material that can be found at the following links:

The Noon Study Group will not meet on August 28.  When we resume on Friday, September 4, we will be discussing Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman’s The Bible Unearthed:  Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts.  This book is available at a variety of internet outlets. 

Unless indicated to the contrary, our informal discussion group will be conducted online every Friday from 12-1.   All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous noon study group discussions. If you have questions, or would like the Zoom link, please contact Jay Jacoby at


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