The courses given at the Neve program are divided into eight subject areas, each designated with a two or three letter prefix. They are as follows:
BPH – Biblical Writings: Prophets and Hagiographa (Nevi’im and Ketuvim)
TMW – Talmudic and Midrashic Writings
CJW – Classic Jewish Writings
JLR – Jewish Law and Ritual
JP – Jewish Philosophy and Ethics
JH – Jewish History
HL – Hebrew Language
Credit is assigned on the basis of hours of lecture and outside preparation. Each course credit, however, requires at least 15 clock hours of lecture in a semester. From year to year, the exact structure of classes as well as the level of outside preparation for a particular class may vary. Thus in some semesters the credit assigned to an individual class may be different from that which is published. A student may earn up to 17 credits a semester. The course load in the summer semester is somewhat lighter. Students who wish to take a heavier course load must obtain special permission from the Chairman of the school.
BIBLICAL WRITINGS: PENTATEUCH (LAW/TORAH)
(All texts are studied in the original Hebrew)
BW 209-210 Concepts in Biblical Writings: The Weekly Portion
A broad exposure to the entire Pentateuch including major commentaries and Midrashic and Talmudic explanations. The textual sources for commandments (mitzvot) and customs governing Jewish life are pointed out. The relationship between the Written Law and the Oral Law is highlighted.
BW 221 Biblical Analysis – – Genesis (Bereishit)
Concentrating on the portion Va’yera, Genesis 18:1-22:24, the students improve their analytical skills and their ability to read and translate the Hebrew text. They learn to identify textual problems and resolve them with the help of the commentary of Rashi. Among the themes discussed are the relationship of Abraham to G-d, the importance of hospitality, prayers of the righteous, destruction of the wicked, and sacrifice in service of G-d.
BW 222 Biblical Analysis – – Exodus (Shemot)
An in-depth study of the first five portions in the book of Shemot, Chapters 1:1-20:23. The portions covered are Shemot, Va’era, Bo, Beshalach, and Yitro. Students learn to appreciate the grammatical nuances of the texts that require elucidation. They are introduced to the commentaries of Ramban, Seforno, and Ibn Ezra. The course focuses on the themes of exile, exodus, revelation at Sinai, and the development of Jewish nationhood.
BW 223 Biblical Analysis – – Genesis (Bereishit)
An analysis of the portion of Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-6:8. The course also focuses on the grammar and vocabulary skills needed to study the biblical text, commentaries of Rashi, and other major exegetists. The major themes examined are creation, fratricide (Cain and Abel), and human destiny.
BW 224 Biblical Analysis – – Genesis (Bereishit)
A study of the story of Noah as told in Genesis 5:28-10:32, with emphasis on the causes and effects of the great deluge. The biblical view of prehistoric times is also discussed and analyzed. The course covers such topics as respect for other people’s property and vegetarianism.
BW 226 Biblical Analysis – – Genesis (Bereishit)
A detailed, in-depth study of the episode of the “Akeida,” the near sacrifice of Isaac, as related in Genesis 22:1-19. A wide variety of biblical commentaries are consulted. Emphasis is placed on the ability of man to reach great spiritual heights through sacrifice. The effect of the “Akeida” on the history of the Jewish people — past, present, and future — is explored.
BW 227-228 Biblical Analysis – – Leviticus (Vayikra)
An in-depth study of the text and commentaries on the portion of Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27. The course focuses on the ethical commandments. Among the concepts explored are man’s responsibilities to his fellow men, his parents, the community, the needy, and the stranger. The importance of honesty and truth are stressed.
BW 240 Women in the Pentateuch
Using selections from the Pentateuch and its commentaries, the lives of the women portrayed are carefully analyzed to gain an understanding of their motivations, personalities, and character traits. The course also explores the themes of motherhood, the husband-wife relationship, and the present-day roles of women in the building of the Jewish nation.
BW 309-310 Advanced Concepts in Biblical Writings: The Weekly Portion
A comprehensive study of the weekly portion of the Pentateuch. The course serves to develop a deeper understanding of Rashi’s commentary on the Bible. The course format includes brief weekly oral presentations by class participants.
BW 321-322 Advanced Biblical Analysis – – Genesis (Bereishit)
The course is based on the portion of Vayeitzei, Genesis 28:10-32:3, covering Jacob’s flight, his marriages, and his subsequent return to Canaan. An extensive range of commentaries is used. Students analyze and compare the stylistic patterns of the commentaries and see how they agree or differ with Rashi. Issues discussed include: Temple sites, G-d’s providence, an individual’s influence upon his destiny, and the survival of the Jewish nation.
BW 409-410 Advanced Concepts in Biblical Writings: The Weekly Portion
A detailed study of entire portions of the Pentateuch with Rashi’s commentary. The basic principles of the Oral Law upon which Rashi based his commentary are examined.
BW 421-422 Advanced Biblical Analysis – – Topics in Genesis (Bereishit)
Selected topics in Genesis are discussed: good and evil before and after Adam’s sin, jealousy and its implications in the story of Cain and Abel, and man’s desire to control the material world as well as the entire universe by striving with G-d.
BW 423 Advanced Biblical Analysis – – Topics in the Book of Numbers (Bamidbar)
A textual analysis providing an understanding of the moral and philosophical significance of the book of Bamidbar. Topics include the significance of the individual Jew, the relationship between the presence of G-d and the welfare of the Jewish nation, levels of morality, and laws whose rationale is beyond human comprehension.
BW 424 Advanced Biblical Analysis – – Deuteronomy (Devarim)
The portion of Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19, is studied in depth. Students trace laws from the original biblical sources through their development by Talmudic and medieval commentaries into legal codes governing current Jewish practices. Independent study is stressed and students are required to refer to all classical commentaries as well as to more modern ones. The study of Midrashic texts provides a deeper understanding of the commentaries.
BIBLICAL WRITINGS: PROPHETS AND HAGIOGRAPHA (NEVI’IM AND KETUVIM)
(All texts are studied in the original Hebrew)
BPH 205-206/305-306 or JH 205-206/305-306 The Early Prophets (Nevi’im Rishonim) — An Overview
A survey of the times, events, personalities, and ethical teachings of the early prophets of Israel. Excerpts from the Nevi’im Rishonim, the books of Joshua through Kings I and II, are studied with major commentaries. Concepts explored are prophecy, kingship, and divine punishment on a collective level.
BPH 211-212 Women in the Books of the Early Prophets (Nevi’im Rishonim)
A survey of the personalities and traits of women who had great historical influence in the period of the early prophets. Among those studied in detail are Rahab, Deborah, Hannah, Michal, and Bath-sheba, whose personalities and deeds provide important insights for the modern woman. Texts are studied with the major commentaries.
BPH 229/ 329 429 Jonah (Yona)
A systematic analysis of the book of Yona in terms of its literal and allegorical meanings. The journey of the soul, of which Yona is a symbol, is explored. The true nature of repentance is examined, as are the consequences of earlier deeds on present circumstances.
BPH 246/ 346/ 446 Ruth (Megillat Ruth)
An in-depth examination of the historical, moral, and literary components of the book of Ruth, utilizing classical and modern commentaries. Themes explored include religious conversion, loyalty, and a landowner’s requirement to help the needy. The link between the book of Ruth and the Shavuot holiday is elucidated.
BPH 249/ 349/ 449 Esther (Megillat Esther)
A thorough textual study of Megillat Esther focusing on its historical, literary, and religious elements. Among the themes discussed are open and hidden miracles, religious restraint as opposed to hedonism, and rational and irrational forms of anti-Semitism.
BPH 341-342/441-442 Proverbs (Mishlei)
A survey of the book of Mishlei, with special emphasis placed on verses relating to Jewish women. Through the study of its wisdom, students acquire an understanding of Judaism’s weltanschauung and goals. Among the topics explored are perception versus reality, the importance of effort and hard work, the secret of longevity, and the power of speech.
BPH 360 Daniel
The textual study of the book of Daniel in the original Hebrew and Aramaic using both classical commentaries and the writings of modern ethical philosophers. Topics examined are the phenomenon of Jews in high position in non-Jewish governments, martyrdom, personal miracles, and messianic visions.
BPH 413-414 Kings I and II (Melachim Aleph and Beit)
The historical, political, and religious elements of the books of Melachim are studied. Topics discussed are Jewish kingship, the division of the kingdom into the realms of Judah and Israel, and the anticipated arrival of the Messiah ben Yosef and the Messiah ben David.
BPH 441-442 Job (Iyov)
An analysis of the book of Iyov. The course examines Judaism’s philosophy with regard to human suffering. A comparative study is made of various commentaries on philosophical and mystical issues such as the concept of the tzadik (righteous person), transmigration of souls, and the existence and extent of Divine Providence.
BPH 445 Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim)
An in-depth examination of Shir Hashirim with the major commentaries, focusing on the text’s literary, historical, and religious elements. Much emphasis is placed on the allegorical aspects of the text that show the Jewish people’s yearning for G-d and His intimate connection with the Jewish people.
TALMUDIC AND MIDRASHIC WRITINGS
(On all levels, except for Mechina, texts are studied in the original Hebrew)
TMW 110 The 613 Commandments (Mitzvot)
A survey of the 613 commandments of the Pentateuch as explained in the 13th century classical work, Sefer Hachinuch. The relevance of the commandments to modern, observant Jews is explored. Among the topics discussed include circumcision, laws of ritual purity, propagation of the species, and monetary laws.
TMW 120 Sayings of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) – – Introduction
An introduction to Pirkei Avot, the section of the Talmud that deals with ethics, values, and morals. Topics include faith — blind or rational, divine values versus subjective human values, man’s search for meaning in life, and free will and determinism.
TMW 201/301/401 The Passover Haggadah
The study of the exodus from Egypt are recounted in the Haggadah reveals the basic tenets of Jewish belief. The Haggadah is analyzed in detail and the significance of the laws and customs of the Seder (ritual Passover meal) is discussed. Students in the advanced level and Shalhevet concentrate on textual study in conjunction with commentaries.
TMW 220 Sayings of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) — Intermediate
The ethical work, Pirkei Avot, is examined in its historical context with the help of commentaries, each mishna in the first chapter is analyzed and the views of the Rabbis are distilled. Themes discussed are the heart – its centrality to all mitzvot and its special relationship to prayer, peace and justice, and good and evil.
TMW 259-260 Talmudic Literature: Ayn Yaakov
A study of excerpts from Ayn Yaakov, a compilation of the aggadic sections found in the Babylonian Talmud. Various topics are explored such as hospitality, the importance of the Land of Israel, and love of one’s fellow man.
TMW 320/420 Saying of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) — Advanced
An advanced course in Pirkei Avot for senior students, covering chapters 2-6.
(On all levels, except for Mechina, texts are studied in the original Hebrew)
CJW 110 The Writings of Maimonides (Rambam)
Students are introduced to the writings of the Rambam. Rambam’s 13 principles of faith and his method for character improvement are studied. Other topics from his works that are reviewed are the nature of G-d’s commandments, the balance between spiritual and physical ambitions, and the classical method of repentance (teshuva).
CJW 201-202/301-302 Teachings of the Ethical and Moral Philosophers (Mussar Movement)
Through the study of the works of the Jewish ethical and moral philosophers, students explore character traits such as arrogance, kindness, and laziness. The manifestations, advantages, and drawbacks of a trait are described, as well as the techniques needed to strengthen or correct it. Texts used are the classic work of Mesilat Yesharim (The Path of the Just) and the latter 20th century ethical works Alei Shor, Sichat Mussar, and Lekach Tov.
CJW 350 The Writings of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler
Through the reading and discussion of the teachings of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, the prominent 20th century religious philosopher, students become acquainted with the main principles of Jewish ethical thought. Topics from his work include giving of oneself and personal ambitions, givers and takers in marriage, faith and personal efforts, the “miraculousness” of nature, and free will as it relates to pleasure.
CJW 411-412 Duties of the Heart (Hovot Halevavot)
A study of the medieval ethical work, Hovot Halevavot, written by Bahya Ibn Pakudah, which details the various stages towards human perfection. Among the topics discussed are perspectives of reality, gratitude, patience, self-sacrifice, introspection, and evaluation of one’s deeds.
CJW 420 The Writings of the Maharal
An exploration of the issues of modesty and faith in G-d as presented by the leading 16th century thinker, Rabbi Yehudah Lowe, the Maharal of Prague. Modesty is discussed as it applies to speech, thought, and deed.
(On all levels, except for Mechina, texts are studied in the original Hebrew)
JLR 101 Basics of Judaism
A course in basic Judaism with an introduction to Jewish laws and customs as practiced by Orthodox Jews. Jewish family life is contrasted with various family systems prevailing in Western culture.
JLR 140 Introduction to Jewish Cycles
An introduction to the annual cycle of Jewish festivals and holy days. The laws, symbols, and customs relevant to each festival are analyzed from historical and metaphysical viewpoints.
JLR 210 Halachic Literature (Jewish Code of Law): Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
Develops the skills to understand the Hebrew text of Jewish code of law, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. The course includes discussion of the nature and purpose of halacha with emphases on responsibility of man to his fellow men in relation to personal property. Among the laws examined are those pertaining to borrowing and lending, theft, damages, speech, and vows.
JLR 220 The Sabbath (Shabbat)
An in-depth study of the laws and customs involved in Sabbath observance. The origin, history, and importance of Shabbat are explored. Material is derived from the Bible and its commentaries, as well as from books of Jewish law including the Shulchan Aruch, Mishna Berura, and Shemirath Shabbath K’hilchathah.
JLR 230 Dietary Laws (Kashrut)
An in-depth study of Jewish laws and customs of kashrut, the dietary laws. Material is drawn from the Hebrew texts of the Shulchan Aruch and other codes. Highlighted, as well, are the nature and importance of halacha and the guidance it provides for Jewish living in general, and for women in particular.
JLR 233-234/333-334/433-434 Laws of Blessings (Brachot) and Prayer (Tefilla)
The first semester of the course explores the concept of brachot, the components of a bracha, and when specific blessings are recited. The second semester covers the laws of tefilla. Topics include the appropriate times for reciting various tefillot, components of Jewish tefilla obligations, and differences among various prayer services insofar as they concern women.
JLR 240/340/440 Jewish Holidays
A survey of the annual cycle of Jewish holidays: origins, history, importance, and observance. The selected Hebrew texts include the Shulchan Aruch, Mishna Berura, and Shemirath Shabbath K’hilchathah. Different patterns of observance among Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and other groupings are explored.
JLR 381-382 Halachic Literature (Jewish Codes of Law): Mishna Berura and Other Codes
Through lectures and in-depth study with partners, students develop a deep understanding of the richness of Jewish law. Using Hebrew and Aramaic language texts, including the Mishna Berura, Be’er Halacha, and Shulchan Aruch, students master topics in great detail. They become familiar with the techniques of investigating questions of Jewish law. In the first semester, the focus is on the High Holidays and tefilla. In the second semester, it is on brachot, honoring parents, Purim, and Passover.
LR 431-432 Dietary Laws (Kashrut) – Advanced
Conceptual background of the laws of kashrut as found in the Biblical texts. Students gain a deep understanding of the practical applications of the kashrut laws. The following topics are examined: biblical versus rabbinic prohibitions, religious laws pertaining to agricultural produce, and the kosher kitchen.
JLR 482 Maimonides: The Laws of Repentance
An advanced, methodical analysis of Maimonides’ laws of repentance, using classical commentaries. Themes discussed are the nature of Divine judgment on Rosh Hashana, shofar, Yom Kippur and forgiveness, free will versus G-d’s foreknowledge, and reward and punishment. Topics also examined are the process of repentance, earthly existence, and the World-to-Come.
JP 101 Introduction to Jewish Thought
A philosophical overview of the rational approaches to the fundamental concepts of the Jewish faith. Basic Jewish beliefs are analyzed, including the following: existence of G-d, creation, purpose of human existence, divine origin of the Pentateuch, evidence for the existence and integrity of the Jewish oral tradition, birth of the Jewish people, and the World-to-Come.
JP 110 Fundamentals of Jewish Philosophy
Introduction to Jewish philosophy. Traditional Jewish sources are analyzed and compared to Western thought and science. Some of the topics discussed are G-d’s providence, the nature of rabbinic authority, free will versus predestination, historical verification of the Bible, and the concept of prayer.
JP 140 Contemporary Issues
The traditional Jewish view of contemporary topics such as the role of women and the causes and cures of anti-Semitism. By analyzing both religious and secular newspapers, magazines and books, students draw comparisons between the secular and religious ways of life.
JP 250 Prayer and Self-Growth
An exploration of the theme “prayer as self-judgment” as it is developed in the Shemoneh Esrei, the silent devotional prayer. Each of the 19 blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei is examined literally and conceptually to enable the student to understand and apply the idea of “growth through prayer.”
JP 259-260/359-360/459-460 Philosophy of Faith
An examination of the range of philosophical systems embraced by medieval and post-medieval Jewish scholars, with emphasis on those from Europe. The course focuses on the strains of Talmudic interpretation represented by leading rabbis ranging from the Gaon of Vilna until the present day Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe of Jerusalem.
JP 271-272/371-372 Philosophy of Prayer
The general philosophical background of prayer is explored. Students analyze the Hebrew text of several important prayers such as the morning blessings, the Shema (the declaration of faith in the unity of G-d), the Shemoneh Esrei and Grace after Meals. In addition, themes discussed are prayer as a substitute for sacrifice, the reason for sacrifices, and the need to verbalize one’s requests.
449-450 Selected Commandments (Mitzvot)
A detailed examination of specific mitzvot and their philosophical and psychological implications, according to a variety of classical and modern commentators. Specific mitzvot include the prohibitions against revenge and bearing a grudge, the obligation to reprove a fellow Jew, and to respect one’s parents. Also discussed is the special relationship required in dealing sensitively and fairly with a convert.
JH 201-202/301-302/401-402 Survey of Jewish History
An overall survey of Jewish history from the biblical era to the modern era. The first semester is devoted to biblical history ending with the Second Commonwealth and continues through the Diaspora period. The second semester deals with the medieval period and continues through modern Jewish history, with a concentration on the Holocaust and the birth of Israel.
JH 205-206/305-306 The Period of the Early Prophets – – An Overview
The historical period of Israel’s entry into Canaan until the end of the kingdoms is studied. (See BPH 205-206/305-306.)
HL 101 Introduction to Hebrew
Students learn to read and write Hebrew and to understand and speak simple sentences. Not open to students who have previously studied Hebrew.
HL 201 Elementary Hebrew
Elementary Hebrew for students who have some knowledge of the language, but who are not yet ready for an intermediate course. Not open to students who have taken HL 101.
HL 202/302 Intermediate Hebrew
The course offers a systematic study of Hebrew grammar as well as practice in speaking and writing Hebrew. Students read and discuss short texts. Open to students of both HL 101 and 201.
HL 401-402 Advanced Hebrew
Emphasis is placed on speaking grammatically correct Hebrew while incorporating idiomatic expressions. Students use newspapers and modern texts to improve their vocabulary. Composition skills are also developed.