Supported By

Supported by The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, The Koret Foundation, the Estate of Mort Fleishhacker, and the students of Lehrhaus Judaica

Monday, February 5, 2018

Spring Reading

Beginning in March we will read much of Perek 9, the final chapter of Berakhot.  We will read about the essence of dreams, living a life of intentionality and gratitude, blessing the bad and the good,the role of miracles, and the power of prayer. 

March: Session 6, pages 350 - 370
April, Session 7, pages,  371- 391 (top)
May, Session 8, pages 391- 406

June 10 Siyyum, Session 9, pages 406 to the end. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Roland's Gloss on Berakhot

January 2018

When Roland Met Deena

The San Francisco JCC Talmud Circle met on January 7, 2018, while was establishing the Quito, Ecuador, Talmud Circle.  OK, Peretz and Becki were off exploring in Ecuador, and so the group was treated to Deena Aranoff, guiding them through the balance of chapter VII of Berakhot. 

To find Roland Nikles's comprehensive notes  CLICK HERE

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Global Day of Jewish Learning—November 12, 2017: Beauty and Ugliness

On November the 12th, the Palo Alto Talmud Circle, and online, gathered very early in the day to join Jews around the world in a day of Jewish learning, dialogue and exploration, joining together in celebration of all that unites us. 
We studied, "Beauty and the Beast of Conspicuous Consumption."

Here is the Source Sheet

An investigation and discussion of this Talmudic text (Bava Kamma 9b), “Rabbi Zera taught, “In the performance of a mitzvah one should be willing to pay even one-third more [than the normal price].” What does that mean in our competitive, material, and affluent world?
Peretz also appeared in the Global Day earlier and you can see that recorded webinar, "Beauty and the Rabbis," CLICK HERE

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Welcome to a new year of community learning!

All students should obtain a print or digital copy of the Koren Talmud Bavli Berakhot with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz).

If you have not yet signed up for one of the Talmud Circles CLICK HERE

The Bay Area Community Talmud Circles will all begin anew with a review of the Mishna on page 293, chapter 7.

I am so happy to share with you that our faculty has returned for another year of learning with you: Prof. Deena Aronoff (Marin), Rabbi Dorothy Richman (Berkeley), myself (San Francisco and Palo Alto) and Rabbi Jennifer Clayman (Los Gatos).

As we continue our study and discussion of the transendent objective of the blessings before and after the meal, 
Rabbi Clayman brings us this text from MEALS IN EARLY JUDAISM: SOCIAL FORMATION AT THE TABLE, S. Marks, H. Taussig, editors.

The recitation of birkat hamazon negotiates and renegotiates the central relationships of rabbinic Judaism: the relationship between teacher and student, scholarly companions, scholarly rivals, mourners, and the community rejoicing with the brides and bridegrooms that will reproduce this world.

Whether by the river, in a large hall, or at their own house, groups separate out, while reinstating these core relationships within the larger networks. These relationships simultaneously tie diners to the Hellenistic and Roman conventions of meals, enacting an identity consonant with the larger cultural moment and establishing their credibility as religious participants in the Roman world. Even as they reinforce ties within the rabbinic group that lead in and out of the dining room, they recreate themselves as players in the larger community. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017


It is with great joy that we announce that the 2017 – 2018 Bay Area Community Talmud Circle begins anew!

If you are joining us this year, welcome, and please read this and the next post for details about our continuing study and the special Introduction to Talmud Study for new students.

Rabbi Dorothy Richman
Rabbi Dorothy Richman leads our Berkeley Talmud Circle at the JCCEB.

Dr. Deena Aronoff

Dr. Deena Aronoff will once again be teaching in Marin.

Rabbi Jennifer Clayman
Rabbi Jennifer Clayman community, Los Gatos, returns for another season of teaching. 

Abra Greenspan is the project manager of the Talmud Circles, keeping all the circles turning smoothly and is here to help you.  Lehrhaus is very grateful to the Fleishhacker Foundation for their continued support of Abra's vital work.  You can reach her at

We will begin again with Perek Seven the Koren Talmud Bavli.  Please review the Mishna on page 293.  We are moving into the social dimentions of rabbinic blessings, particularly the Birkat HaMazon. 

A final personal note.  As I prepare for my Palo Alto and various San Francisco Circles, I am reflecting on what we read last year in Berakhot 17a.  Rabbi Ami would say to his students when they left him: “May you see your world fulfilled in your lifetime . . . may your mind perceive wisdom . . . may you speak words of wisdom . . . and may your eyes shine with the light of Torah.”  This is our wish for you and all of us as we begin anew.

Peretz Wolf-Prusan, Lehrhaus Judaica

Sunday, September 24, 2017

High Holyday Teaching From the Talmud

As the Bay Area Community Talmud Circles enters it's seventh year we greet the Hebrew month of Tishri with a teaching from Avot d'Rabbi Natan.

If you look in the back of Seder Nezikin in most editions of the Talmud you will find the Masekhtot Ketanot, the "Minor Tractates," and in there, Avot d'Rabbi Natan, a kind of “gemarah” to the Mishna Avot, which does not possess a traditional gemarah.

Here is a scene between Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and his student Joshua, who rescued him from the besieged city of Jerusalem.  Joshua was of Levitical descent and served in the sanctuary as a member of the class of singers.

Rabbi Joshua lamented: "Woe unto us! The place where our sins were forgiven is no more."

Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai replied: "Let not your heart be heavy. We have another form of forgiveness which is its equal. It is the performance of kind deeds, as it is written: I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.” (Hosea, 6, 6.)

Avot d'Rabbi Natan

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Got to know (and love) those basic terms

Pages 238-239 of Berakhot 35a contain many key terms and principles of the Talmud.  These terms are explained in this link CLICK HERE

On the bottom of 239 is Svara, reason.  

A fascinating and appropriately provacative essay by Rabbi Benay Lappe, the Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva Click Here

You can see her ELI talk here CLICK HERE

You can find our all time favorite Guide to Jewish Texts BY CLICKING HERE

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Introduction to Mishnah and Talmud

Here is a recording of the October 14 Wednesday Night Webinar, "Introduction to Mishnah and Talmud.

"Click Here for Introduction to Mishnah and Talmud

Next Wednesday Night Webinar is December 2.  Sign up by writing

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Women and Prayer

Questions have arisen about women and prayer.  Judith Hauptman has written on issues of Talmudic Law and on women's issues in Rabbinic and modern Judaism. Her view is that the ancient rabbis gradually granted women more autonomy than in modernity.  In 1993 she wrote the article “Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies,” (JUDAISM, Winter 1993). In it she argued that Jewish women have always had an obligation to pray and for that reason can count in the minyan and even lead it in prayer.

Click here: Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies