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The Misunderstood Masterpiece: A New Approach to Pirkei Abot

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph

Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph

Pirkei Abot is often understood as a mere series of unrelated ethical adages. In fact, each brief and much-cited maxim in Pirkei Abot actually hints at the extraordinary, and unique, life story and worldview of its rabbinic source, and the chapters of Abot are joined together in a structure that actually tells the story of the transmission of the Oral Law. We will see how studying the history of the rabbinic figures cited lend an entirely new understanding to these statements, and how Abot represents the diverse response of the rabbis to an age of crisis and transition that was, in many ways, not unlike our own.

 

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The fall semester is sponsored by Lewis Lipsey.

 

Gershom Mendes Seixas

Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816) was the first American-born spiritual leader of Shearith Israel.

1768
Nineteenth Street Synagogue

The congregation's fourth synagogue was built on nineteenth Street, just west of Fifth Avenue.  

1860