I Am A Limmudnik     

 

"Limmud" is a Jewish-British organization aimed at expanding the awareness and knowledge on issues pertaining to Jewish culture, tradition and community.

Details about "Limmud" can be found in the website: http://www.limmud.org .

 

Each year, toward the end of December, Limmud holds a major conference with international attendance.  The 2005 conference was the 25th.

 

I attended the conferences of 2002 and 2005, learned a lot, met wonderful people and also was given the chance to present sessions I initiated, in various types and areas of interest.

 

Following are the concise descriptions that I gave to Limmud, of myself as a presenter and of various sessions.  The contents was reproduced in the respective conferences' general and Shabbat handbooks.

To some of these I have added here texts of mine that were used in the sessions or distributed as handouts to the participants.

 

To see descriptions of sessions, browse downwards or click on the desired issue.

 

Presented in 2005:

A Human Facet to Sefirot

Texts and Melodies in Classical Israeli Singing

Time and Space as Perceived by Ancient Hebrews

A Touch of the Sublime: Inspiring Hassidic Stories

Can God Rejoice, Regret, Learn and Grow?

Israelis, Palestinians, Conflict

 

Some of 2002:

Friendship

The Uneasy Bible: Tough Stories

Israelis vs. Palestinians: Origins, Dreams, Practices

Inner Work for Self Empowerment and Renewal

 

To Asher's Homepage

 

"Biography" for Limmud 2005

 

Israeli.   Interested in: Policies (Analyzing, formulating), Promoting Dialogue, Group Work, Spirituality, Judaism, Personal & Public Ethics.

Knowledgeable in: Economics, Management, Logic, Science, Technology, Storytelling, Personal Counseling - and other areas.

Well-informed on Israeli & Jewish affairs and politics.

Knowledge is continually gathered mainly through active curiosity, involvement, insight and creativity.

 

 

A Human Facet to Sefirot

 

2 Workshop Sessions

 

Relevant to:   Culture,  Spirituality

 

I. Human Facet to Sefirot: Hessed, Gevurah, Tif'eret

 

A short written introduction has been given on the issue of Spheres that express in Kabala phases of the Divine, pointing to their parallel in ancient cosmology and to their main division.

Focusing on the three Sefirot - Lovingkindness (Grace), Power (Law) and Glory (Compassion) - an allegoric narrative is related, so as to translate these lofty concepts into human and personal experience and self empowering.

Sharing by the partakers is a significant part of this event.  

 

II. Human Facet to Sefirot: Malkhut, Yessod, Hod, Netzah

 

Four of the Spheres (Sefirot) that express in Kabala the phases of the Divine, are: Royalty, Foundation, Splendour and Eternity (the reverse of the traditional sequence). In a process of conducted reflection and then sharing, each of these spiritual concepts is connected to layers of human personal values and to real life. This is meant to be an opportunity for the participant to experience the encounter with possibly neglected aspects of one's inner world.  

 

Texts and Melodies in Classical Israeli Singing

 

Performance

 

Relevant to:  Israel,   Music,  Culture

 

Even long before the statehood, Israelis were active in singing, and over the years, thousands of songs have been composed and sung by individuals and in groups. Texts and tunes are wide-ranging in topics and styles. Distinguished poets and composers contributed to this treasure, and quite a few songs became real classics. Some of these have been selected for presentation, and for each Hebrew song the contents will be related in English.

 

A Handout for Participants

 

To Asher's Homepage

 

Time and Space As Perceived by Ancient Hebrews

 

Lecture & Discussion

 

Relevant to:  History,   Philosophy

 

In modern perception we tend to draw off-hand analogies from movement on land to the advance of time.  Ancient texts and also clear traces in current languages (Hebrew, European tongues), we find that the commonplace view of the world is not the sole possibility.  In fact, some analogies our ancestors used are the reverse of our ones.

Some knowledge of Hebrew is required.

 

 

A Touch of the Sublime: Inspiring Hassidic Stories

 

Performance & Discussion

 

Relevant to:  Culture,   Spirituality

 

What can one see in a story from another epoch, which involves unusual events and at times a divine intervention?

The selection includes: "The stolen dowry", "Transcribed prayers", "Horses and a horse", "The 'Besht' and the practical joke", "Swimming at the Tish", "Handsome fish for Sabbath", "A taste of Paradise", "Tzadik under the stool", "Bearing hardships", "The brother of Tzadikim", "Rabbi stands corrected", "Torah forbids usury", "Black fire over white fire".

 

Can God Rejoice, Regret, Learn and Grow?

 

Lecture & Discussion

 

Relevant to:   Culture,  Philosophy,  Spirituality

 

Most modern thinkers uphold the concept of God as omnipotent, omniscient and transcendental, which they inherited from mediaeval philosophy. Mystical approaches, however, preserved over the ages the original view of God as having a "personality", with emotions, wishes, hopes, disappointments and regrets.

Post-modern ("New-Age") trends connect to the more personalized divinity, seeing in it changes, even growth.

In light of the various contemporary grasps of "Spirituality", Jews are required to make a choice.

 

 

To Asher's Homepage

 

Israelis, Palestinians, Conflict

 

4 sessions of  Lecture & Discussion <

 

I. Zionism and the Arabs: Reform Overdue

 

Relevant to:  History   Israel  Social Issues

 

Multiple directions in Zionist ideology and practice - benefits and shortcomings.  A fresh look at stages of the Jewish-Arab conflict is put forward, from the main "riots", through Second World War and Israel's statehood. The challenges of "Israeli Arabs", the Arab refugees and the new encounter after 1967. Review of The Rationale behind policies of Israel toward the Arabs.   Imperfections of Zionism stand out increasingly, and an alternative to Selfishness and to Cowardice is proposed.

 

 

II. Power Relations in Israel-Palestine - A New Critical Look

 

Relevant to:  History,   Israel

 

An endeavor at a candid composed review of several intertwined active forces in the ongoing conflict: the Jewish and Israeli defence practices & policies, the Palestinian politics, education & media, the international political & public involvement. What about: the Military Rule over Arabs, the "Occupation", the politics behind the "Unilateral Disengagement"?   Analysing Palestinian violence before and after October 2000: is it "Terror", "Resistance" or Guerilla?  Who profits, who loses?  A direction For Israeli alternative policy.

 

 

III. Israelis Vs. Palestinians: Various Solutions Discussed

 

Relevant to:   Israel

 

Palestinian "Solutions" upheld by: Hamas and Jihad, PLO, official Palestinian Authority, Alternative Palestinian approaches.  

Israeli ideas and their rationales as advocated by: far left, extreme right, accord-seekers, various separationists, "pragmatists".

Is it going to be one or two states? The "demographic specter".

Alternative approach that needs exploring: should we commit at present to a final shape - or rather dare to take the path of propriety and let new possibilities emerge in the process?

 

 

IV.   Courage and Skills For a Genuine Dialogue

 

Relevant to:  How to...,   Israel,  Social Issues

 

True Dialogue is neither "negotiation" nor "debate". The full power of well-managed Dialogue process is discussed alongside the demanding challenge it poses.

There are ample ways to conduct a dialogue session, yet it must always encourage candour, listening - and also tolerance in face of irritating words and ideas.

Chances for success are best for Dialogue at grassroots.

Discussion is open as to the "proper" selection of opponents and on the desired skills of partakers.

 

To Asher's Homepage

 

Friendship

 

2 sessions of  Discussion

 

I. Being a Good Friend: What Does It Involve?

 

Relevant to:  Education,   How to...

 

Friendship is explored not so much in terms of intensity or range, but rather as to the nature of communication in times of need.   Then, real caring may conflict with pleasing - or with teaching a lesson.

Motives, priorities and interests are to be discussed, seeking practical wisdom, working with realistic examples.

Ways of support, criticism, advice, assistance.   The role of compassion.    The gifts of poise and integrity.     Parallels in education and family relations.  

 

A Handout for Participants

 

II. How To Be Your Own Best Friend

 

Relevant to:  How to...

 

Sometimes, no connection with one's friends is available, or the present friends fail to deliver what one really needs.   An important supplement can be found in the ability to conduct inner discourse, serving as one's own friend.   This idea does not occur to many, because the support from without seems indispensable; indeed, the connection to one's inner resources is often impeded.  Creating the image of an inner mate, if well applied, can prove quite beneficial.

 

A Handout for Participants

 

To Asher's Homepage

 

The Uneasy Bible: Tough Stories

 

Performance & Discussion

Relevant to:  Culture,   History

 

One could wonder how the narrative of the Holy Scriptures was selected from events of many people over several millennia. For sure, savoriness was not a leading criterion. Recounting the more disturbing stories in a contemporary phrasing, is an opportunity to see our forefathers (mothers as well) in less-than-glorious moments. At the process we may discuss the authenticity of ancient texts, the art of storytelling and the stability of human nature over the ages.

 



Israelis Vs. Palestinians: Origins, Dreams, Practices

 

Lecture & Discussion

 

Relevant to:  History ,  Israel

 

Mutual belligerence nourishes on anger and bitterness as well as on the interests of politicians and leaders. Current events can smother the hope for peace. Yet, one factor that helps to maintain the conflict is this rising despair: the peace supporters in each camp are paralyzed by the idea that their cause is anyway lost.   The present session aims at identifying neglected factors we might try to reverse and thus create new chance for reconciliation.

 

Inner Work for Self Empowerment and Renewal

 

Workshop

Relevant to:   How to...,  Spirituality

 

An intensive workshop of individual and mutual processes.   Guided three meditations and one plea.  1st stage is aimed at connecting each participant to latent, usually neglected, sources of morale; 2nd stage - at opening the heart & caressing the Soul;  3rd stage intends to promote energetic giving and receiving; The final stage will simulate spiritual rebirth and turning a new leaf. A hopefully inspiring sharing discourse is meant as part and parcel of the experience.

 

INTERNAL AND GROUP WORK FOR PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT

RECEIVING AND GIVING

SPIRITUAL REBIRTH PROCESS

 

To Asher's Homepage