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Jewish History Experience - Temple Period CD Set - History  Bible - Rabbi Wein 900 BCE to Christian Re-conquest Spain
Jewish History Experience - Temple Period CD Set
History and its Relevance in Our Times - Temple Period - Also Available Individually
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About - Jewish History Experience - Temple Period CD Set

How does the history of the Bible impact us today? Noted Jewish historian Rabbi Berel Wein explores the Second Commonwealth and its aftermath in an in-depth, engaging account of the Second Temple's rise and fall. At the close of the Babylonian Exile, the Jewish people found themselves in a time of great internal development and external challenge. The Second Temple was being built and Rabbinic Judaism was being founded while Jewish culture confronted the cornerstones of Western civilization in the seductions of Greek and Roman society. Now shipped on DVD or USB.


Features - Jewish History Experience - Temple Period CD Set

Beginning of the Second Commonwealth The Second Temple period began with circumstances much like our own: a vibrant Jewish community thrived in the exile of Babylonia, while in the Land of Israel, the Jews were beset with difficulties. Rabbi Wein retraces the dramatic events by which Ezra Ha Sofer and his successor Nechemia rebuilt the Temple. Though a shadow of the First Temple, these great Jewish leaders laid the foundations that would ultimately lead to the Temple's complete restoration.

The Men of the Great Assembly In the Second Temple period, the Jews were prevented from re-establishing the kingship in Jerusalem. In its place, Ezra and Nechemia created the Great Assembly, a legal body of 120 righteous men. Rabbi Wein details their many great accomplishments, from compiling the Tanach and siddur to fighting a war against the Samaritans. The spiritual and political achievements of the Great Assembly were responsible for preserving Jewish life not only in the glorious past but for the distant future.

The Coming of the Greeks Ancient Greek culture forms the foundation of western civilization and Rabbi Wein demonstrates how the appeal of Greek philosophy, sports, and theater held sway with many Jews and caused them to assimilate and become Hellenists. Detailing the conquests of Alexander the Great, his relationship to Shimon Ha Tzaddik and the Jews in general, Rabbi Wein portrays the years of peace Jews enjoyed under Alexandrian rule and sets the backdrop that later led to the war-torn years of the Chanukah miracle.

Hellenism and Chanukah With the death of Alexander, the Greek empire divided into two rivaling ones: the Seleucid Empire of the north and the Ptolemaic empire of the south. Precariously sandwiched between them was the Land of Israel. The deceptively peaceful period which saw the creation of the Septuagint and mass assimilation turned out to be the calm before the storm of Greek oppression, the Maccabee rebellion, and the Chanukah victory and miracle.

The Hasmoneans The victory of the Maccabees installed the Hasmonean dynasty as the new leaders of the Jewish people. Unfortunately, their early heroism did not last in succeeding generations. Their descendants in fact became among the most corrupt Jewish leaders in our history. Beginning with the rule of the righteous Shimon Ha Maccabee and ending with the tragic Yochanan Hyrcanus, Rabbi Wein sheds light on the forces that caused the precipitous descent of the Hasmonean family.

The Prushim and Tzedukim When the fearsome Alexander Yanai came to power over the Jewish world, he strengthened the position of the Sadducees, the deniers of the Oral Law. To the traditional Jews, or the Pharisees, this was grounds for civil war. Rabbi Wein brings to life the Talmudic stories which reveal Alexander Yanai's paranoia and his defiance of the rabbis which led to one of the bloodiest periods of Jewish history.

The End of HasmoneansWhile Julius Caesar and Pompei struggled with each other for rule of the Roman Empire, a parallel struggle raged on between the last of the Hasmoneans dynasty. These complex events intertwined and set the conditions that brought about the end of Hasmonean rule, the rise of Herod, and Roman domination over the Land of Israel.

Herod the Great Herod, Roman governor of the Land of Israel for seventy years, was a bloodthirsty dictator. To give legitimacy to his rule, he married a Hasmonean daughter whom he loved and with whom he had children, but he loved his power even more. From his shifting loyalties within the power structure of Rome to his barbaric murder of his own children, this lecture paints a harrowing picture of treacherous times in Jewish history.

The Herodian Era Rabbi Wein continues his examination of the reign of Herod by dissecting his relationship with the Torah scholars of the day, and Hillel and Shammai in particular. Hillel and his students acquiesced to his rule while Shammai's students launched open rebellion. Herod's subsequent persecution of Torah scholars was merciless, yet paradoxically, to "repent" of these sins, he restored the Temple to its former beauty and contributed so extensively to the architecture of Israel that his handprint endures to this day.

Agrippa and the Coming of Christianity Two leaders named Agrippa succeeded Herod: Agrippa I, who had peaceful relations with the Jews and preserved the Torah lifestyle, and Agrippa II, who, opposite to his father, quickly became an oppressor of the Jews. With Christianity growing as a movement in Judea, the Jews dividing themselves into rival factions, and Rome cracking down on everybody, the stage was set for the tragic destruction of the Temple.

The Times of the Roman War Ancient Rome was a cutthroat world where murder was the accepted means of gaining power. Amidst this savagery lived the Jews, who espoused and lived according to principles of peace and justice. While the Roman rulers destroyed each other, a faction of Jews believed that Rome would inevitably fall. Seizing on this perceived opportunity, they arose to fight for the cause of Jewish liberation. The nine-year war that followed led to the destruction of the Temple and the worst carnage the Jews have suffered until the Holocaust.

The Destruction of Second Temple With detailed portrayals of the leading personalities and events at the darkest moment of Jewish history, Rabbi Wein brings out the traitorous dealings of Josephus Flavius, the fall of the zealots of Masada, and above all the sagacity of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai who helped the Jewish people to maintain their faith that the Temple would someday be rebuilt.

Yavne and the Early Tanaim The preservation of the yeshiva at Yavne is the prime example of Reb Yochanan ben Zakkai's life work of keeping Jews and the Torah alive during the most turbulent of times. His five main disciples continued this life's work, doing all they could to ensure Jewish survival. Drawing on stories from the Talmud and Midrash, Rabbi Wein shows the tremendous personal integrity of the Mishnaic rabbis. Even in their disagreements, their dedication to the Jewish people was unswerving.

Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva Rabbi Wein explores the two central figures in the most unfortunate incidents in Jewish history. With the endorsement of Rabbi Akiva, self-made Torah scholar and beloved Jewish leader, the charismatic Shimon Bar Kochba was able to organize an army of hundreds of thousands of Jews to attempt to rise up against Roman domination. The defeat of Bar Kochba and ultimate martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva sealed the fate of the Jews for a long, bitter exile.

The Beginning of the Mishna With vivid descriptions of life for the Jews after the death of Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Wein sets the scene for the creation of the Mishnah. Between the violent rule of Hadrian and the rise of Christianity, Jews were persecuted bitterly. Yet in spite of it all, great Jewish leaders continued to arise, the enigmatic Rabbi Meir amongst him. From his relationship with his teacher "Acher" to his tragic marriage to Bruria, a scholar in her own right, we learn about the life and times of one of the pillars of the Mishnah.

The Mishnah When Antoninus succeeded Hadrian as the emperor of Rome, the Jews at last enjoyed a brief respite of peace. Rabbi Yehudah ha Nassi seized the moment by calling together a convention of Torah scholars in which the Mishnah, the first written record of Oral Law, was compiled and edited. With Talmudic stories illustrating the lives of the Mishnaic rabbis, listeners get a glimpse into the forces of genius that created the book that is the backbone of the Talmud.

The Beginning of Babylonian Talmud The Talmud can be described as a transcription of the lectures, conversations, and stories told in the great yeshivas of Babylonia for 350 years. It collected together the entire Oral Tradition - the Mishnah and Midrash. Spanning a tremendous range of topics, the give and take discussions between its rabbis are truly awe-inspiring.

Rise of Christianity After 300 years of world domination, the Roman Empire was so big and unmanageable it had to split into two. Thus, the Byzantine Empire was born, but when its emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, Jewish life grew bitter. Once again, caught in the cross-roads of war and an official doctrine of anti-Semitism, the Jews clung on in Babylonia, producing the Talmud and preserving the Torah lifestyle at all costs.

The End of the Talmudic Era With the fall of Rome, the non-Jewish world plunged into the Dark Ages, but for the Jews of Babylonia, these were times of enlightened scholarship. While war raged on in the world at large, the Talmudic scholars put the finishing touches on the monumental work which has sustained the Jews through the long centuries of exile.

The Rise of Islam In the 7th century, Islam spread like wildfire, taking down both the Byzantine and Persian Empires. With a thorough analysis of the tenets of Islamic theology, including the historical origins of the anti-Semitism of the Koran, Rabbi Wein uncovers the massive influence Islam held over the world in religion, technology, culture, and war.

The Early Gaonic Period Jewish leadership in 7th century Babylonia was divided into two spheres. The Exilarch held political and economic power while the Gaonim, the heads of the yeshivas, controlled all religious matters. But because these is so much overlap between political and religious life, this division was a recipe for disaster. Rabbi Wein narrates the power struggle that gave rise to the deviant movement of the Karaites and details the works of Torah scholarship that arose to combat them.

Mid-Gaonic Period-Saadia Gaon Life is seldom quiet for a Torah leader, and this was certainly true for Rabbi Saadia Gaon, author of the first book of Jewish philosophy for the masses, "Emunos v'Deos". He fought and won three major battles in his life, thus establishing the primacy of Babylonia over all Jewish communities worldwide, defeating the corrupt Exilarch Dovid ben Zakkai, and sending the Karaite movement on the path to its ultimate downfall.

Beginnings of Ashkenazic & Sephardic Jewry Rabbi Wein treats us to a double-screen show as he describes the development of the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities. Contrasting Islamic and Christian relations with the Jews, Rabbi Wein shows the political and religious forces that shaped each community. He also analyzes the contributions of the Torah giants of each: the Rif and Rabbeinu Gershom.

End of the Gaonim to the Beginning of the Rishonim The year 1000 is the transitional year between the periods of the Gaonim and the Rishonim. The center of Jewish life became Spain - not Babylonia. Rabbi Wein paints the picture of how Jews rose to wealth and prominence there, including the spell-binding story of the career of Shmuel Ha Nagid, Jewish prime minister of Granada, symbolizing an unparalleled moment of hope in Jewish history.

Development of Spanish Jewry "The Golden Age" of Spain was not only a period of relative peace and prosperity for the Jews, it also saw a "renaissance" of Jewish poetry and philosophy. A lesson in how peaceful times can spawn creativity, the parallels and differences to modern Jewish society become eminently clear.

The Age of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, "poet laureate" of the Jewish people, lived at the height of the Golden Age of Spain, but every peak is also the turning point toward decline. As tolerance for the Jews was starting to wane, Jews were forced to defend their religion, a central theme of the classic work, the Kuzari. With an analysis of this book and its philosophy, as well as a discussion of Abraham Ibn Ezra, a contemporary much influenced by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, Rabbi Wein captures the spirit of the lives, works, and times of these great Jewish thinkers.

Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon Doctor, mathematician, philosopher, and Torah scholar, Maimonides is an unparalleled genius in Jewish thought. Yet his prolific work raised terrible controversy; his books were even burned. Hear about his life and times, and discover why it is said of him: "From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses."

Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon's WritingsOf all Maimonides' works, "The Guide to the Perplexed" is the most controversial. Labeled as heretical and even burned, it remained the definitive book on Jewish philosophy for six centuries. Rabbi Wein examines the theological issues this great work raised, including its unrelenting position on free will, and shows why it aroused so furious a reaction.

Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman Famed for his classic Torah commentary, Nachmanides was the first to legitimize the use of Kabbalah and a great defender of his predecessor Maimonides despite their philosophical differences. He lived during the Christian re-conquest of Spain and was the first of many Torah scholars forced into staged debate with the Church. Because his debate was first, there was no censorship, and his victory makes for one of the most exciting episodes in Jewish history.

Christian Re-conquest of Spain The Christian re-conquest of Spain from the Moslems was a gradual process which spelled terrible trials for the Jews. Between forced conversions, the Inquisition, and frequent pogroms, Rabbi Wein chronicles the fearful descent from glory days to tragedy.

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