Talmud This Shabbat: The Prophet of Restoration — Zechariah

To date the prophets we have studied have prophesied destruction. The Babylonians are coming. The Assyrians are coming. The locusts are coming. Destruction and exile are coming! All of those prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Habakkuk) lived and preached before 721 BCE (Assyria destroys Israel) or 586 BCE (Babylon destroys Judea).

By contrast, our prophet this coming Shabbat, Zechariah, is the first prophet who prophesies restoration.

Zechariah has a tall order. In 538 BCE, Persia conquered Babylon, and Cyrus, the King of Persia, allowed the Jews to go home to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. Zechariah walks onto the pages of history eighteen years later. It is 520 BCE, and after eighteen years, still no Temple. Instead, demoralization, in-fighting, turf, ego, longing for what once was, fear about what will be. No Temple. Rubble.

Zechariah starts preaching and prophesying. Four years later, the Temple is built.

What was Zechariah’s message? How did he get a depressed and demoralized people dialed in to their future again?

We need to hear what he has to say.

Access the texts here.

See you on Shabbat morning at 8:30. Gann Chapel Livestream.

Chag Sameakh,

Shabbat Talmud Study: God? A New Old Idea

When I talk about God, one reaction I often get is: “I am not a God person. Can you talk about community instead?”

Why is that? For 21 years I have wondered why much of my teaching on God does not land. And then this week, while listening on line to a lecture by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer of Hadar, I had an epiphany.

Tomorrow I think I have a game changer, Rabbi Kaunfer’s sources and ideas, a paradigm shatterer, a conversation that might make God real for people who had never seen themselves as God people before. Rabbi Kaunfer’s idea will be provocative, might be shocking, might well offend some, but after that it may even help.

Can’t wait.
Shabbat shalom,