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Vayikra: A Call to Holiness

Melton is developing the sixth course in the Shiv'im Panim Series. 

Vayikra: A Call to Holiness, written by Judy Snowbell Diamond, will be available in January 2018. 

In contrast to the richness of narrative, complex characters and moral dilemmas found in the other books of the Torah, the book of Vayikra is often perceived as dry, arcane and inaccessible to the contemporary reader.

How can a book that focuses on the prescribed sacrificial practices (korbanot) in the Temple, laws pertaining to ritual purity (tumah and taharah), and descriptions of priestly holiness speak to a 21st century audience?

A closer examination of Sefer Vayikra shows that this seemingly esoteric book in fact addresses issues that remain relevant and inspiring today. Topics such as:

  • Imparting tradition through education
  • The universal desire to connect with God
  • The role of ritual in religion past and present
  • Universalism and particularism in Judaism
  • Responding to tragedy
  • Seeking atonement
  • Holiness in our daily lives – Sanctifying the mundane
  • The dialectic between communal and individual rights and obligations
  • Social responsibility towards the less fortunate
  • The relationship between the People of Israel and the Promised Land

Through an in-depth textual study of selected passages, using both classical and modern commentaries, this course will uncover the large scope and wisdom of the third book of the Torah.

Judy Snowbell Diamond has been immersed in the world of Jewish education for more than two decades. With undergraduate degrees in Education and Jewish Studies from York University and a Masters in Language Education from Indiana University, she has taught in settings that reflect the religious diversity of North American Jewry—from a small Midwest community supplementary school to head of the Tanakh Department of Toronto’s Tanenbaum CHAT, the largest community high school outside of Israel. While at CHAT, Judy led a team of Canadian and Israeli educators to develop a new Tanakh curriculum. In 2012, she and her family moved to Israel.

Abour Shiv'im Panim – Seventy Faces of Wisdom: Through study of 70 different Torah passages, students encounter the development of varying interpretations, the influences of existing historical realities at the time of their composition, and the contemporary implications of these perspectives on their own lives. The series is part of the Rachel Wasserman Scholars Curriculum,which takes students on a journey of deep examination of Jewish texts. The Scholars Curriculum presents classic and modern texts that have shaped Jewish perspectives for thousands of years, and invites students to lend their voices to the ageless pursuit of Jewish wisdom. Visit our full list of courses here.

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