Collection
We at Sefaria believe that people of all backgrounds can offer fresh insights we can learn from. The 10 Commandments opens with an Aleph. Also the first letter of the aleph-bet, "Aleph" means "to learn." We are all students, and we are all teachers. As the saying goes, "if you know Aleph, teach Aleph." Through this project, Torah Talks, you have the opportunity to hear from award-winning novelists, journalists, legal experts, and judges as they share their reflections on Jewish texts about Torah and Revelation.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Dahlia Lithwick, Constitutional Scholar and Legal Commentator
This one-on-one Torah study with Dahlia Lithwick is a part of our Torah Talks project. In this session, she shares her insights on a Midrash that imagines God coercing the Jews to accept the Torah. She reflects on what this text teaches us about rights versus obligations under the law, and the opportunities that emerge when we make decisions without complete information. Dahlia Lithwick is a Senior Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She is also a senior editor at Slate, where she has written her "Supreme Court Dispatches" and "Jurisprudence" columns since 1999. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Commentary, among other places. She is host of “Amicus,” Slate’s award-winning biweekly podcast about the law and the Supreme Court.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Emily Bazelon, Renowned Journalist and Politics Podcast Host
A one-on-one Torah study with Emily Bazelon. In this session, she shares her reflections on the transmission of Torah and a famous piece of Talmud where Moses appears in Rabbi Akiva's classroom. ​​​​​​​Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and is the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. She is also the bestselling author of "Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration" and “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.” She also co-hosts Slate’s “Political Gabfest,” a weekly podcast.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Dan Ariely, Psychologist and Behavioral Economist
A one-on-one Torah study with Dan Ariely. In this session, he shares pieces of his Jewish journey and applies his research findings about dishonesty and ethics to a Talmudic tale about harlotry and ritual fringes (tzitzit). He sees in this text a teaching about how rituals and intentional engagement with religious items, rather than habits, can help us become the people we want to be. Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of the bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, Dollars and Sense and Amazing Decisions -- as well as the TED Book Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations. He is also co-creator of the film documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies. Through his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, he questions the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often all behave.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Dara Horn, Acclaimed Novelist & Hebrew Literature Professor
This one-on-one Torah study with Dara Horn, Ph.D. is a part of our Torah Talks project. In this session, Dr. Horn shares her reflections on the limits of language and revelation, and brings the words of Hebrew and Yiddish writers together in conversation with this rabbinic text. Dara Horn, PhD is the recipient of two National Jewish Book Awards and author of six books, including the novels In the Image, The World to Come, All Other Nights, A Guide for the Perplexed, and Eternal Life, and the essay collection People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present. Her books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books, Booklist’s 25 Best Books of the Decade, and San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of the Year, and have been translated into eleven languages.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust Historian and Activist
This one-on-one Torah study with Professor Deborah Lipstadt is a part of our Torah Talks project. In this session, she shares her favorite texts on Abraham, Esther, justice, and responsibility, as well as personal moments of feeling like her Torah study prepared her to fight on behalf of Holocaust victims. Professor Lipstadt is the author of Denying the Holocaust (1993), History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (2005), The Eichmann Trial (2011), and Antisemitism: Here and Now (2019). She is also is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University. The 2016 film "Denial" (directed by Mick Jackson and written by David Hare) was based on Deborah Lipstadt's "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier." It dramatizes the court case in which Lipstadt was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Noah Feldman, Harvard Law Professor and Former Supreme Court Clerk
A one-on-one Torah study with Professor Noah Feldman. In this session, he shares his interpretation on a text that explores the contradictory and cyclical nature of the world, and the opportunities and fears associated with the precariousness of life. Noah Feldman specializes in constitutional studies, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between law and religion, free speech, constitutional design, and the history of legal theory. Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, he is also the Chairman of the Society of Fellows at Harvard. He served as a law clerk to Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court. Noah also served as senior constitutional advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and advised members of the Iraqi Governing Council on the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law or interim constitution. He’s the author of nine books, including Arab Winter: A Tragedy  The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Divided By God: America's Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It, and  What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation building.
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Sefaria Torah Talks: Ruchie Freier, Hasidic Judge and Ezras Nashim Founder
This one-on-one Torah study with Judge Ruchie Freier is a part of our Torah Talks project. In this session, she shares her reflections on the Baal Shem Tov, the popular chasidic movement, and the importance of independence and taking ownership over our Torah learning. The Honorable Rachel E. Freier, AEMT-Paramedic, known as Ruchie by her friends and family, was elected as Civil Court Judge in November 2016 and is currently assigned to Kings County Criminal Court in New York. She is the founder of Ezras Nashim, the first and only all women's EMT corps in the Chassidic community.
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