Maimonides Fellowship Syllabus

Part One:  Discover the Unique Mission of Judaism

Session One:  Definitions

Ø  Discuss the concept of Divine Image and refine our definitions of a monotheistic God, Torah, and humanity.  We will review the distinct structures of the Written Torah and Oral Torah, as well as the credibility of each.

Session Two:  Dichotomy

Ø  Discuss the central dichotomy of Creation: Between the physical and metaphysical – and how this relates to the Hebrew language and human speech.  

Session Three:  Mitzvot

Ø  Discuss the natural and ethical dimensions of Man through a textual analysis of the two accounts of Creation. Appreciate the reasons why Judaism regulates powerful natural drives and desires such as sex, diet and modesty.  We will touch upon the role of freewill, and reward & punishment in Judaism.

Part Two:  Our World

Session Four:  Marriage & Love

Ø  Discuss conventional ideas of love and contrast them to the related Torah commandments.  Explore the role of Torah-mandated marriage. We will also discuss the value of romance.

Session Five:  Sex

Ø  Discuss essential differences between the sexes and how this affects the Torah’s prescriptions concerning modesty.  We will also explore Torah suggestions and demands regarding sex and birth control.

Session Six:  Ethics of Life & Death

Ø  Discuss the value of human life.  Explore the Torah approach of preserving the life of an individual, as well as how it deals with dilemmas such as when one life must be weighed against another, including the ethics of abortion.

Session Seven:  Anti-Semitism

Ø  Discuss the uniqueness of Jew-hatred as well as the various reasons alleged for this phenomenon.  This exploration will lead us to the Torah’s very own predictions and understanding of this hatred.

Part Three:  The Big Picture

Session Eight:  Faith & Reason

Ø  Discuss and contrast the mystical and rational streams in Jewish thought to appreciate the important role of science in Judaism.  Our exploration will enrich our understanding of fundamental ideas explored in the first section of our fellowship – such as monotheism, free will,  as well as reward & punishment.

Session Nine:  The Why of Creation

Ø  Discuss the ultimate purpose of Creation.  Our exploration of the Divine reason behind existence will lead to radical and inspiring discoveries about ourselves, the human condition and our potential.  In the process, we will tie together what we have learned on the previous sessions.

Session Ten:  Self-Actualization

Ø  Discuss the Torah's prescriptions to actualize your unique purpose. Our exploration will incorporate fundamental concepts of Kabalah, Jewish meta-physics.