What can Knesset Members learn from the Nation of Israel's biblical leaders?

In a joint initiative between Hebrew University, the Knesset, and the Ministry of Education, Jewish studies experts from Hebrew Univesity will give courses to Israeli parliamentarians on the Jewish Bible.

Professors Yair Zakovich (Department of Bible) and Avigdor Shinan (Department of Hebrew Literature) of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University will arrive at the Knesset building this Tuesday, to begin a series of meetings on "Personalities in the Bible and Midrash". The courses will also address issues of leadership.

The first meeting will focus on: "Elijah: From Fiery Prophet to Answerer of Dilemmas and Problems."

Professor Zakovich, whose expertise lies in early Biblical commentaries, will explore the persona of Elijah the Prophet in the Bible. "We'll discuss the way Elijah went from being tough and punitive in biblical literature to a merciful prophet in the literature of the Sages," said Professor Zakovich, who sees a similarity between the prohet's role in biblical society and that of the modern state comptroller.

Professor Avigdor Shinan, whose expertise is Talmudic and Rabbinic literature, will take a look at Elijah's persona in later Judaism. "Elijah in Jewish tradition is the nice Jew who comes on Seder night and to circumcisions, appears in the songs sung after Shabbat, and is thought of as the prophet who arrives in the moments of difficulty and solves questions and problems – that's a different Elijah, not the Elijah of the Bible," said Professor Shinan.

Upcoming lectures in the series include: "Joshua and Rahav: The Odd Couple," "Jacob and Esau: From Two Brothers to Two Nations," and "Samson: From Burly to Righteous."

Professor Zakovich served as head of Hebrew University's Department of Bible, Head of the Institute of Jewish Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University. He is considered to be one of the foremost experts in biblical research and instruction in Israel.

Professor Avigdor Shinan is a researcher in Talmudic writing, Midrash, and the prayerbook, and served as head of he Department of Hebrew Literature at Hebrew University and as Dean of Students. He has published numerous books and articles on his research and works to spread Talmudic literature among the general public.

Together, the pair have authored two books: t Was Not Written That Way in the Bible" and "This Also Was Not Written That Way in the Bible".

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