Five Megillot

Teacher: Michael Hattin

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Description:This course will consider some concise books in Tanakh that, besides being Biblical texts, also serve a public liturgical purpose. That is to say that they are read in Beit Knesset as part of the prayer service, each one in its appropriate season. We will begin by studying Sefer Yonah and then go on to consider the five Megillot: Shir HaShirim, Ruth, Eichah, Kohelet and Esther.

We will carefully analyze the narratives of these books, approaching them as literary documents as well as considering them from the perspective of the Rabbinic Midrash, the medieval commentaries and modern scholarship. Occasionally, we will diverge to consider a specific topic in greater detail, examining other Biblical texts and materials that shed light on the matter. Our goals are to build skills and confidence, to familiarize ourselves with the commentaries and their methodology, and to appreciate the self-referential and cross-referential qualities of the Tanakh.

Required texts: good “Mikraot Gedolot” editions of Trei Asar (for Sefer Yonah) and Chamesh Megillot (for the rest) as well as a Hebrew Tanakh. Handouts will be provided.