The Avot According to the Talmud
Explore several important passages in the Talmud that discuss the lives and personalities of the Avot. Join Rabbi Yitzhak Zuriel as he learns in depth about the prayers of the Avot, the name changes of some of the Avot (Avram –> Avraham etc.), the question of whether זכות אבות still applies and more.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Prayers of the Avot: Avraham
This session is dedicated to the memory of all those who were murdered by Hamas on and after Simhat Torah in southern Israel, and to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the days of war on and since that day. ה’ יקום דמם . And may the merit of our learning be dedicated to those kidnapped by Hamas. May they be speedily freed.
In this series we will be studying passages in the Talmud that can give us insights into the activities and personalities of the Avot – Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov.
We will start with Talmudic discussions of prayers of the Avot. In this session we will discuss two passages in the Talmud that refer to prayers of Avraham.
I have attached here sources for the class, which you are welcome to read over beforehand.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Prayers of the Avot: Avraham (II) and Yitzhak
In this session, we will examine a second reference in the Talmud to Avraham’s prayer. Then we will look at two Talmudic sources about prayers of Yitzhak. Through learning these passages, we will better understand what the prayers were about. And we will encounter in all of these passages how Hazal and later commentators understood the unique attributes of each of the Avot that are expressed in their prayers.
I have posted sources for you to look over before the class, if desired.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Prayers of the Avot: Yitzhak (II)
In this session, we will continue with Rav Kuk’s explanation of the gemara stating that Yitzhak instituted the daily Minha prayer. Rav Kuk explains the uniqueness of Yitzhak’s prayer and his contribution to the world of prayer in general. Then we will examine another prayer of Yitzhak — when he prays on behalf of Rivka who was barren, and how the gemara in Masechet Yevamot understands what was happening there.
Following this, we will move on to prayers of Yaakov Avinu.
I have posted some sources for you to study before the shiur, if you want.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Prayers of the Avot: Yaakov
In this session we will examine Rav Kuk’s explanation of the gemara’s statement that Yaakov Avinu instituted the daily Arvit prayer, and what was his unique contribution to our way in prayer. We will also examine how the gemara understands a passage in one explicit prayer of Yaakov, at the time when he is about to confront his brother Eisav.
Following that and time allowing, we will begin a new topic about the Avot, which is discussed in sugyot of the gemara: the name changes of Avram to Avraham and Yaakov to Yisrael.
I have posted here sources for this shiur.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Name Changes of the Avot
In this session we are moving to a new topic about the Avot, which is discussed in sugyot of the gemara: the name changes of Avram to Avraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Yaakov to Yisrael. Are these name changes binding upon us as well, i.e. are we allowed to use the name “Avram” when referring to the first of our forefathers? Does the Talmud recognize differences in the way the Torah relates to the old name after the new name has been given? And in each case what is the significance of the change in name? We will examine these questions as part of our query.
I have posted sources for this session here for your convenience.
The Avot According to the Talmud: Merits of the Forefathers (זכות אבות): Is the Game Really Over?
In this and the next session, we will study the concept of זכות אבות, the merits of the forefathers, which is mentioned in the Talmud but not very clearly elucidated, leaving quite a bit of room for speculation and interpretation.
In this session, we will study the primary source in the Talmud which mentions זכות אבות and brings different opinions as to when it ended. We will study these different opinions and try to see from them what we can understand about the meaning of the concept and why it is important for Jewish faith and what it means that the merit of the fathers ended. In doing this we will use some of the comments of Rashi and Tosafot on the sugya.
I have posted sources for your convenience, and you are welcome to view them before the class.
(In the following, final, session of this series we will study a number of later sources that give deeper, more elaborate, and more contemporary explanations of this Talmudic concept.)
The Avot According to the Talmud: Zechut Avot II: Post-Talmudic interpretations of the concept
In this, our final session in this series, we will see how later writers understand the statements that we saw in the last session in the gemara Shabbat concerning zechut avot, the merit of the forefathers, and how these writers applied the concepts to our individual and collective spiritual lives. We will begin with the period of the Rishonim, with Tosafot on the gemara page, and proceed to the Radak (in his commentary to the book of Tehilim), Rabbenu Behayyei, the Maharal of Prague, and two of the leading thinkers of Chassidut: the Sefat Emet and the Shem MiShmuel.
You are welcome to read in advance any or all of the sources that I have posted here for this shiur, but it is not required.
Rabbi Yitzhak Zuriel has been enjoying guiding students in how to learn and understand Talmud at WebYeshiva.org since its founding. He began his teaching career as a teacher and educational director at Michlelet Bruria in the 1980s. For over 20 years, he has been working as a software engineer in Jerusalem, and during that time has been an editor and contributor to the company NDS's Torah journal, Chiddushei Torah@NDS, that was published annually from 1996-2014 . He and his wife reside in Ma'ale Adumim and are parents to five children and have many grandchildren.