Rabbi Alex Israel is a Tanakh teacher at Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi, Jerusalem, and is Director of Community Education at the Pardes Institute. He writes and podcasts for the Virtual Beit Midrash (http://www.vbm-torah.org) of Yeshivat Har Etzion. Born and raised in London, Alex attended LSE and the Institute of Education, London. He moved to Israel in 1991, and gained Semikha (Rabbinic ordination) from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, following several years of study at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He has an MA in Talmud from Bar Ilan University.
His first book, ”Kings I – Torn in Two,” will be published in 2012. Alex guides Tanakh tours in Israel, and volunteers for Tzohar – a Rabbinic group that seeks to bridge the gap between religious and secular in Israel. He resides in Gush Etzion with his wife and four children. Alex has lectured and taught widely at campuses and communities in Israel, the UK, and the US.
Moses: A Biography – Holy Prophet or Political Leader?
The youthful Moses starts his public life as a political activist calling for national freedom in Egypt. But later, Moses becomes a miracle-maker and Moses communes with God for 40 days and nights in secluded spirituality. We wonder how Moses moves forward. Does Moses remain the man of God, or will he become the people’s leader? At a wider level, is spirituality at variance with political leadership?
The mystery of Isaac; the passive-aggressive patriarch that we never got to know.
Isaac has the fewest stories of any of his fellow patriarchs. He is frequently depicted as a quiet, passive individual. In one famous scene, his wife and son manipulate and trick him, as he sits there, blind and helpless. Isaac is not a particularly inviting or attractive figure.
In this class we shall turn that image on its head! We shall discover a vigorous, courageous Isaac who we rarely read about. In a study of Genesis ch.26, we shall gain a new and surprising perspective on the son of Abraham. What is it about Isaac that turns him into an admirable Jewish hero?
In this discussion, we shall also address the question of heroism and whether it is achieved through passive or active gestures, through private or public action, through fame and publicity, or through small private acts of strength.
Greed, Infatuation and self-delusion: A Biblical Case study (Ahab and Nabot’s Vineyard)
In the story of Ahab and Nabot’s vineyard, we meet the king, of Shomron, Ahab, and his eveil wife, Jezebel, in confrontation with the powerful prophet Elijah. This story charts a tale of illicit desire, and the drive to subdue anything that restricts one’s passions and desire. This most famous murder story of the Bible talks about power and its limits and how leaders can manipulate and abuse law to follow their corrupt self-interest.
We shall also discuss the psychology of self-delusion as our mind plays tricks with us, deluding us that illegal actions are virtuous, in a fascinating psychological tale of sin and self-delusion. We will also uncover and explore the existence of powerful legal rights for the average citizen in ancient Israel, even when facing a powerful king and a corrupt government.