I began with the idea of a lecture series because I told my rabbi that though I seemed to have a great deal of Jewish knowledge, I never seemed to share it. I felt guilty about this, because in reading the Sefer ha-Aggadah (the Book of Legends) for Yom Kippur, I noticed that the book seemed to take a negative view of those who collect a great deal of knowledge but then fail to do anything with it. Rabbi Pepperstone suggested to me that I teach a class, perhaps on a Biblical personality. I began researching in late October, and started writing for the class just before my first class lecture to my friends at the synagogue.
Yesterday I gave my last lecture for a series that evolved under multiple titles including Abraham, Now and Then; Abraham, Past and Present; and finally The Many Faces of Abraham. Originally, the classes were to be: “The Call of Abraham”; “Sarah and Hagar”; and “The Akedah and It’s Aftermath.” Eventually, I stretched the class to four classes. The final lecture series ended up being: “The Call of Abraham”; “The Midrashic Abraham”; “The Muslim Abraham”; and “The Akedah and It’s Aftermath.” As such, it was not what I hoped. This is especially so because my use of too many sources in the first one; extensive use of the Midrashim in the second class; the Quran and its interpreters used extensively in the third; while the secondary sources like Søren Kierkegaard; Ellie Wiesel; and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg were used in the forth and final class. Nonetheless, I did learn a lot to teach a class, and perhaps someday I can teach The Many Faces of Abraham again so that afterwards I can even produce a book.
In this projected book The Many Faces of Abraham, I would focus on material from: the Bible, Midrash, New Testament, Christian Sources, the Quran and post-Quran sources. Yet I also would like to have a section covering “Modern” thinkers: Søren Kierkegaard; Thomas Mann; Ellie Wiesel; Avivah Zornberg; Bill Moyers; Bruce Feiler; and Jon Levenson. If I could also find it, I would like to look at a book I have misplaced: The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions edited by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. The idea of doing this is kind of remote, though.
I know reading all of this may have been ponderous to the reader. Nonetheless, I guess it was cathartic for me. Why? Because for each lecture I worked the entire week, the longest one churning out a 21 page paper and the shortest a 12 page paper. I believe I shared my knowledge, and I will share more: after editing my lectures, I shall send copies of them to my rabbi because I have two friends who want copies. My Aunt Margaret also wants copies of my work, just to see how it went. I hope they are not disappointed.