Aryeh Headshot no logoRevel doctoral student, Aryeh Tuchman recently had a chapter published in a new book edited by Alvin Rosenfeld and published by Indiana University Press. The book is called Deciphering the New Antisemitism, and Aryeh’s chapter is titled “Generational Changes in the Holocaust Denial Movement in the United States.”

The chapter is a reworking of a paper Aryeh  presented a couple of years ago at an academic conference. Aryeh’s  interest in modern antisemitism grew out of his studies with Dean Berger at BRGS.

Congratulations  Aryeh Tuchman on this impressive accomplishment!

Yael_Landman Wermuth

Yael Landman, Revel PhD student

Congratulations to Revel PhD student Yael Landman!

Yael Landman’s article “On Lips and Tongues in Ancient Hebrew” was recently published in Vetus Testamentum (Vol. 66 [2016]). The article traces the semantic development of the words śāp̄ah ‘lip’ and lāšon ‘tongue’ through Biblical, Late Biblical, Qumran, and Mishnaic Hebrew. Two semantic changes occupy the focus of this analysis: First, by the time of Mishnaic Hebrew, śāp̄ah had lost its meanings related to the lip’s association with talking, so that it should not be translated ‘speech’ in ambiguous contexts. Second, the semantic widening of lāšon to include the meaning ‘speech’ began to take place in Biblical Hebrew in the context of words from the realm of deceit. (Taken from her article abstract which can be found here)

Yael began researching this topic in the spring of 2011, while writing a final paper for Dr. Steiner’s course in Hebrew Semantics and Lexicology.  She presented a version of that paper at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in 2014, and then revised it for submission to Vetus Testamentum.

Prof. Shalom Holtz, Associate Professor of Bible at Revel commented on the significance of Yael’s achievement: “Yael’s article contributes to our understanding of the history of the Hebrew language, specifically of the differences between the Hebrew of the Bible and the later Hebrew of the Mishna.  It applies general theories of how semantics of languages, in general, change over time, to the Hebrew words for “tongue” and “lips.”  Through careful and insightful readings of the contexts in which these words occur, Yael demonstrates how these words were used differently over time.

For Yael, this publication is a scholarly achievement of high order.  With its appearance in a top-ranked, peer-reviewed journal, Yael stakes her claim as a world-class participant in this arena of scholarship.”

Interested in hearing more from Yael? Join the Revel community for a Boker Iyun on Sunday, March 20th 2016 and attend a session by Yael Landman, “Herding in Haran:Jacob and Laban at the Intersection of Law and Poetry.” For more information about the event click here.


24804075331_c2452c0ff3_mOn Tuesday, February 2nd, Rabbi Dr. Raphael Shuchat delivered a special guest lecture entitled “Was the World Created in Six Days? The Views of Medieval Kabbalists.” Rabbi Dr. Raphael Shuchat has been a lecturer at the School for Basic Jewish Studies of Bar-Ilan University for over twenty years and headed the Beit Midrash for Giyur at the Bet El Synagogue in Tel Aviv for the past four years. He has published five books and close to forty academic articles in the areas of science and Judaism as well as the thought of the Vilna Gaon and his disciples. His book Jewish Faith in a Changing World was published by Academic Studies Press in 2012, and his latest book, Kabbalat Lita was published by Bar Ilan in 2015.

Dr. Shuchat discussed a number of kabbalistic sources— from medieval and modern authorities—that posit that the six-day period of creation depicted in Genesis 1 is not meant literally, and that the creation of the world actually occurred over a period of thousands of millennia. (See the source sheet below.) Dr. Shuchat argued that this position can help to alleviate seeming incompatibility of the Torah’s account of creation with the modern scientific view that the world was formed over billions of years.


Was the World Created in Six Days? The Views of Medieval Kabbalists – Source Sheet

Rabbi Dr. Raphael Shuchat

Shmot 20,11 – “For six days did God make the heavens and the earth”

Bahir  (1176 Provence) – (Margaliyot ed. Jerusalem 1978 siman 57)– “His colleagues said and so I received since it says ‘for six day God made’ it means six vessels did God make.” In six days is not stated, this teaches that each day had its own power(Bahir 87)


Zohar II 89B – “We learnt: It is written: ‘for six days God made the heavens and the earth. ‘Six days’ for sure and not  ‘In six days”. These refer to the holy transcendental days called God’s days.”


  1. Nahmanides (1194 Gerona- 1270 Jerusalem)– the dualist approach

( Shmot 20,11)–”In the way of truth [kabbalah]I wrote on the verse ‘vayekhulu’  and from there you shall understand that ‘six days God made’ is not missing  a ‘beit’.   ”

(Bresheit 1, 3) “Know that the days mentioned in the works of creation were during the creation of heaven and earth  actual days with hours and minutes and there were six days of action as the simple meaning of the text. But the inner meaning refers to these days as [representing] the higher sefirot, for every [Divine] utterance [maamar] is called a day and there were six of them.: ‘for you God is gedulah and gevurah [etc]’ and all together there are ten maamarim for the first [three] the word day cannot be attached to them”. (Ibid)


  1. Rabenu Bahya Ben Asher (1255-1340 Talmid of the Rashba) – time was created too

(shmot 20, 11) “The simple meaning [of the verse] is like ‘in six days’ and according to the way of reason: six days did God make  and they were also created and this shows that time was created as well. For if it said ‘in six days’ it would mean that time was eternal. According to Kabbalah: for in six days refers to the [temporal] length of the world .


Menacham Recanati (Italy 1250-1310)– Since the Holy One Blessed Be He rested on the Sabbath on that specific attribute [middah] as it says: for six days did God make the heavens and the earth etc. this teaches that every day has its own [Divine] utterance [maamar] which is in charge of it , not because  it was created by it but since it operates through it… and if you understand this you will understand that ‘for six days did God make ‘is not missing the letter ‘bet’ but six days he made  and through them [ the six days] he created the heavens and the earth”. (Recanati on the torah Jerusalem 1961 p. 8b).


  1. R. Asher Ben David of Provence – (13th century) – The single  metaphysical approach


“The Philosophers call the ten sefirot spheres [galgalim]  … and the torah called the six sefirot days and lights. Days as it says: Six days did God make the heavens and the earth etc. and did not say in six days for if it said this [in six days] it would appear that six days was needed for the creation but in truth it was all created on the first day as it says: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … the sefirot are referred to as days and lights in this parsha”. (Quoted in Hasegulah 7 (1934) pp. 7-8.)

“Our rabbis of blessed memory said that before the world was created, there was  only He and His name but when he created the world the six sefirot which were called by His name were not emanated or received the inner light until it says ‘let there be light’ and it says ‘and There was light’ and our sages [in the Bahir] explained : light that already existed- meaning the invisible air that already existed he made into [the sefirah] of wisdom and its 32 pathways.”

Abraham Gotleib: “There is no doubt that he [Asher ben David] means to say that from a theosophical view the ten maamarot produce the ten sefirot… so that the ontological existence and the sefirot are one heierarchy”. (“The Creation story in Kabbalah” Mehqarim Besifrut Hakabbalah Tel Aviv 1976 p. 67.) As can be seen, For Asher Ban David many things happened spiritually even before day one of the creation story.


  1. R. Isaac Ben Samuel of Acre (1250-1340): The Multiple worlds approach

Nahmanides –

Behold [these verses] here draw our attention to a great secret of the Torah, as R. Abraham [Ibn Ezra] has already hinted… And curl your ear to hear that which I am allowed to tell you in the way I shall tell you, and if you will be deserving you shall understand.  I have already written in Genesis that the six days of creation parallel the history of the world [yemot olam] and “the seventh day is Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:10), for it will be Sabbath of His great name… The days [of creation] hint at what was created in the Work of Creation, and the years [of shemitah] hint to what will be in the works of the entire history of the world… And possibly this is what our Rabbis hinted at when they said: ,,Fifty gates of knowledge were created and all were given to Moses save one”, because every sabbatical [year represents] the gate of one house.[Therefore] we see that he [Moses] was taught all of the existence from beginning to end except for the holy Jubilee.”

Said the writer Isaac of Acre: I have seen the necessity to write a great Divine secret which should be concealed. Know that God’s day is 1000 of our years. As it says’ For a thousand years are in your eyes but a day [passed]’ Our years are 365 days and a quarter. Therefore the heavenly year  is 365250 years … multiply this and multiply this until 49000 years. Since every year is 356 days and a quarter of a day and every heavenly day is one thousand of our own  as it says:’ And God alone will be transcending on that day'”. (Otzar HaHayyim, Ginsburg ms. 775, 87b-88a.


Kabbalists if the Modern Period


Rabbi Shaul Dweck HaCohen (1857 allepo -1933 Jerusalem): Non Temporal days


“See the comments of the Remez [Rav Moshe Zakut 1625Amsterdam-1697 Mantua] to Otzrot Hayyim in our chapter which was reprinted at the end of Mevo She’arim 121 who wrote and I quote: ‘These days [of creation] are not in our temporal world [אינם בזמן הזה התחתון [ rather their secret is ten illuminations on ten vessels ‘. Now it appears that the words of the Remez are contrary to our Rabbi [the Ari] in chapter 25 , 3 in which he implies that they were regular days… but it seems that they were very  long days. It seems however to me… that in the creation story there were not long days but rather the influx which came to rectify the shattered sparks [בירורים] before the creation of Adam are referred to as days and years but they are not days and years at all“. (Eifah Shleimah on Otrot Hayyim, Jerusalem 1996, 16A note 6.)


Rav Shlomo Eliasov : (1841 Lithuania -1925 Jerusalem, The Leshem) Very Long days


We already said… that according to the level of each world that existed in the six days of creation… so were all the aspects of all the worlds in a very different way than they are today and they were all more lofty and wondrous. I will add in this way that even the duration of time of each day of the six days of creation was very different than it is today. Those days were much greater and longer, beyond measure, from our days“. (Leshem Shevo VeAhlamah, Pietrekov 1912 Sefer Hadeah, part two 37B , )

“For times the days were much longer and went on beyond measure … for before the sin… time was very different… as is written in Midrash Rabbah 10, 2″ .  (Ibid 25A)




Kanarfogel_60512F-12Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law, has been named as one of the two editors-in-chief of the prestigious academic journal Jewish History. Members of the editorial board of Jewish History are drawn from leading universities throughout the world.

Rabbi Kanarfogel also served recently as the keynote speaker at an international workshop on rabbinic literature and culture in the medieval and early modern periods at University College of London, and he presented a paper on Hebrew manuscripts in medieval Europe at an international conference held at Cambridge University. His newest book, Brothers from Afar: Rabbinic Approaches toward Apostasy and Reversion in Medieval Europe, will be published next year by Wayne State University Press, and his recent volume, The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture of Medieval Ashkenaz, which won distinguished book prizes in both the United States and Israel, is being translated into Hebrew under the auspices of the Research Authority of Herzog College in Gush Etzion.


The Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies,in cooperation with Congregation Netivot Shalom, invites you to a Boker Iyun


Date and Time: Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Location: Congregation Netivot Shalom. 811 Palisade Avenue. Teaneck, NJ 07666


8 a.m. Tefillat Shacharit followed by a light breakfast.

Program begins at 8:50 a.m.


RABBI NATHANIEL HELFGOT Rabbi, Congregation Netivot Shalom


DR. DAVID BERGER Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History and Dean

Halakhah Confronts a Changing Society: Past and Present


DR. JONATHAN DAUBER Associate Professor of Jewish Mysticism

Secrecy and Disclosure in Early Kabbalah

YAEL LANDMAN Revel PhD student

Herding in Haran: Jacob and Laban at the Intersection of Law and Poetry


DR. RONNIE PERELIS Chief Rabbi Dr. Isacc Abraham and Jelena (Rachel) Alcalay Chair in Sephardic Studies; Assistant Professor of Sephardic Studies

They Loved Each Other Like the Earth and Sky: Brotherhood and Betrayal in One Crypto-Jewish Family


Interwar Bais Yaakov and Bnos: Creating Jewish Mothers by Doing Nothing Shtetl Mothers Did

To RSVP click here.