As an educator, I am always looking for texts that my students can learn independently, glean relevant themes and feel a sense of accomplishment. The same goes for teaching a shiur – I want to teach a class that is interesting, relevant and based on compelling classical texts. The Chumash is the natural place to go, but students may find the parsha overly familiar territory.
What have recently grown in popularity are shiurim and the online study of Nach. For example, DailyNach offers online study programs in English based in Israel and in the UK that draw 1,000 participants. The OU Nach Yomi, yutorah.org and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman sites attract thousands of English-speaking students. (Rabbi Reisman’s motzei Shabbos lectures on Tanach are attended by hundreds of people weekly, and are also broadcast worldwide.) The stories and events in Nach are exciting and not so well-trodden, the messages are relevant, and can be taught at varying levels of depth and scope.
The themes discussed throughout the stories of Nach appeal to students across the Jewish spectrum. Students can readily explore these themes alone by reading the events, aided by insights and divrei Torah – it’s exciting ‘new’ material for them. Furthermore, because each book of Nach is relatively short, you can cover ground finishing sefarim – it’s certainly not as hard as Daf Yomi and does not require a shiur per se. Studying one perek per day enables you to complete an average sefer of Nach in under four weeks, while studying one perek weekly covers a sefer in under six months. If you’re teaching a class, mark the completion of each sefer by holding a festive siyum celebration!
Yet Nach can also be unfamiliar to the educator or be a challenge to the student/congregant who wants to learn independently and feels constrained by not being able to read the Hebrew or meforshim. Recently published is a set of two books, Journey Through Nach, that can help educators and layman alike deepen their understanding of Nach.
Written by Rabbi Daniel Fine and Rabbi Chaim Golker, Volume I addresses Neviim and Volume II is on Kesuvim. There are introductions to each sefer of Nach that frame the historical and religious contexts (including timelines and charts) and succinctly summarize each perek with important insights by meforshim.
The volumes also feature short divrei Torah to bring alive the themes as well as in-depth essays for those interested in an ‘iyun’ shiur on a range of eye-catching topics such as:
- Exploring the David & Batsheva Incident
- Are Children Punished for their Parents’ Sins?
- Predicting Moshiach
- Relying on Miracles
- What is the Difference between Neviim and Kesuvim?
The set features a nice foreword from Rabbi Zev Leff and haskamos from Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky and Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman. The sefarim are published by Adir Press with distribution by Feldheim. Order a set here.
Rabbi Dovid Lowy teaches at Aish Gesher. A graduate of JEC High School and Lander College, Rabbi Lowy has a degree in business management and ordination from Landers and as well as from Rav Yitzchak Berkovits. He lives in Ramat Eshkol with his wife and children.