Traditional, Egalitarian & Participatory Conservative Synagogue
127 East 82nd St, New York, NY 10028  |  Tel: 212.452.2310
Scott N. Bolton, Rabbi  |  Diane Okrent, President
a Conservative synagogue on the upper east side of nyc

Oral Law Seminar

Annual Adult Education Course 5779:
A Case of Mixed Emotions: Love and Fear of God in Jewish Thought
Or Zarua congregants generally are avid learners, eager to grapple with traditional and modern texts, from the Torah to the Talmud and beyond, that form the religious and intellectual bedrock of Judaism. Some congregants are also eager to share their learning with fellow members.
For more than a decade now at Or Zarua, congregant Marc Ashley has taught an annual adult education course on several Sunday mornings between Pesach and Shavuot. During this spring period leading up to the yearly commemoration of the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the perfect time for contemplation and introspection regarding our religious beliefs and practices, Ashley's course has covered a variety of core theological, legal and historical issues. With a recurring focus on the origins and authority of the Torah she'be'al peh (the Oral Law in Judaism), we have examined wide-ranging issues including the ideological foundations of denominational differences, parameters of Jewish pluralism, reasons for the commandments, sources of authentic Jewish knowledge, subjective dynamics of halakhic decision-making, the issue of free will, and seminal historiography of Yosef Yerushalmi.
The very first word of the first paragraph of the Shema prayer instructs - indeed, commands - us to love God, with all our heart, soul and might. Yet Proverbs counsels us that the "beginning of wisdom is the fear of God." These visceral emotions, at least at first glance, seem conflicting rather than complementary. So which is the core and foundation of our relationship with God - love or fear? Which approach takes priority?
As it turns out, Judaism demands that we experience our relationship with God as encompassing emotions that optimally reinforce each other but may in practice be competing. God as the creator of the universe can seem utterly transcendent, above and beyond our understanding. Yet God as the divine force that intervenes in history and shows solicitude for human beings can seem immanent, close at hand and within our reach. The focus of our relationship with God may vary depending on the vagaries of our perception of God's interaction with us. As we sing several times during the High Holy Day liturgy in the Ki Anu Amekha prayer, we can relate to God variously as our parent, master, shepherd, guardian, creator, king, and beloved. Whether we are more inclined to love or fear God can shift with circumstances.
In fact, dictating emotion is notoriously difficult, and Jewish theology is prone to interpreting love and fear of God as anchored in conduct. How we are expected to feel emotionally about God is often translated into practical terms. Love and fear of God are expressed through deed.
Both love and fear of God are thus crucial religious directives. Fear of God generates a sense of humility, preventing God from becoming merely an imprimatur for our decisions. Love of God can create a sense of our wondrous human potential, fostering our nearness to the realm of the infinite. Both approaches to God can be viable paths to the divine, but reconciling them can be challenging and even perplexing.
Please join us on Sunday, April 28 at 10:00 am, and on Monday, May 6 and 13 at 7:30 pm, as congregant Marc Ashley leads his annual adult education course. We'll survey classical Jewish texts and modern commentaries as we explore the continuing relevance of the provocative topic of free will.
No prior knowledge of any kind is required for these annual adult education courses. Please join us for stimulating discussions of crucial issues in Jewish life, as together we help sustain and nourish a community of learners and learning at Or Zarua.
2019 Sessions - Audio Recordings:
April   28, 2019
May   6, 2019
May   13, 2019
• Weekly Talmud Class with Rabbi Bolton - Fasting, Praying, Planting, and Walking Through the Rain
     Masekhet Ta'anit: Wednesdays at 7:30 - 9:00 pm
• Weekly Siddur Class with Rabbi Bolton: Thursdays from 8:40 - 9:40 am, in the Library following minyan
Details and complete list of events
This week at O"Z
Service Times
May 12 - 18, 2019
Morning Minyan:
Weekdays at 7:15 am
Musaf days at 7:00 am
Shabbat at 9:00 am
Sundays at 8:45 am
Check Calendar for changes
   to starting time, if any
Our Morning Minyan is
open to the Community
365 days per year!
FRIDAY, May 17, 2019
Minhah, Kabbalat Shabbat
& Ma'ariv
   6:30 pm Candlelighting 7:50 pm
SATURDAY, May 18, 2019
Shaharit at 9:00 am
This week's Torah reading:
Parashat Emor
Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23
This week's Haftarah:
Ezekiel 44:15 - 44:31
Shabbat Ends
8:49 pm
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127 East 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028
Telephone 212.452.2310
Fax 212.452.2103
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