Learn on Your Own
We’re cooking up resources that will help bring the bet midrash to you (and your chevruta!). Over the next weeks we’ll be populating this page with resources to help support you deepen and support your learning practice. Never learned with SVARA before? Get started here!
How do we–personally and communally–respond to something that has been built on brokenness and exploitation? This sugya explores the rabbinic vision for repairing broken systems and transactions, and paves the way for powerful conversations about the importance of reparations. | DOWNLOAD HERE!
This sugya is a deep-dive into “tochecha,” or compassionate critique. When we experience harm from others, how do we respond? In this text you’ll find two tales of rabbis who exemplify (or don’t!) what to do. | DOWNLOAD HERE!
SUGYOT / TALMUD TEXTS
Ready to get your gemara on with your chevruta & looking for something to learn?! We’ve got just the thing for you! Check out a packet here with a marked-off daf (page of Talmud), a Hint Sheet, and lots of other goodies to help you on your traditionally radical way!
- Sanhedrin 17a/b – Le’taher et Hasheretz – This sugya explores what it takes to be a judge and a leader–at SVARA, we call those folks “players.” What kind of person should be in charge of a legal system or a community? What are the attributes of a powerful, deeply Jewish leader in the minds of the rabbis? And what are the limits of how we, as players, imagine a future based on the past(s) we’ve inherited?
- Berakhot 3a – In this aggadic text (a narrative story), the Talmud explores the presence of the divine in places of destruction. The text opens up the radical theological idea that God feels grief and despair alongside human beings, and that prayer is a mode that can give voice to grief, both for God and for us. We recommend this text if you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of distance and closeness between human beings and the divine/sacred in hard times.
- Berakhot 6a – This sugya (through some stellar and inventive kra-proofs!) offers a window into the rabbinic mind after the CRASH of the destruction of the Temple. This text puts forth the simple and radical idea that God is present with us, wherever we are. Now that the Temple is gone, how do we know G!d is with us?!, the rabbis ask. Their answers are creative and expansive, inviting us to ask and answer our own questions with their same chutzpah!
- Berakhot 12b/13a – All the Days of Your Life – “Will we remember being liberated from Egypt once we live in a truly Liberated world?” ask the rabbis. What will happen in these so-called “messianic times,” and how will it impact our memory, stories, and self-understanding as a people committed to resisting oppression? Just in time for Passover, this sugya explores a text from the Haggadah (which is actually from the Mishnah!) on the themes of liberation, memory, and re-telling our stories.
- Yoma 83a & 85a/b – Pikuach Nefesh – What happens when two core values in the Torah come into conflict? How do you know which one to choose? This sugya traces the invention of one of the most famous Jewish legal concepts, pikuah nefesh (the principle of saving a life on Shabbat at all costs)–but we bet it doesn’t mean what you think it means! Watch how the rabbis upgrade our tradition to make it more life-giving.
- Yoma 87a – Rabbinic Rebuke – This sugya is a deep-dive into “tochecha,” or compassionate critique. When we experience harm from others, how do we respond? In this text you’ll find two tales of rabbis who exemplify (or don’t!) what to do.
- Shabbat 88a – Covenant & Consent – This sugya is all about the mysterious moment of revelation – what really happened at Mount Sinai? See how the rabbis radically reinterpret this mythic moment and create a new framework for covenant, consent, and obligation.
Looking for another sugya? Be in touch with us!
Looking for something that’s not here? Be in touch with us! Navigating your way through a text and looking for some support? Sign up for a Faculty One-On-One session and a SVARA faculty member will help you out! Not sure where to start? Get started with SVARA-style learning here!