Pardes scholar Hattin explores aesthetics at Global Day

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by tgregory

This year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning, set for Nov. 19 at Akiva School, can be a gateway to lifelong learning, and there’s still time to register and participate. Two scholars from Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies – Rabbi Michael Hattin and Rabba Yaffa Epstein (interviewed for last month’s Observer) – will explore the theme for 2017, Beauty and Ugliness.

Rabbi Hattin, who teaches Tanakh and Halakha at Pardes, will present the Global Day’s opening learning session. His topic is “Unearthing the Temple Menora: Aesthetics and Allegory.” In the afternoon he and Rabba Epstein will lead breakout learning sessions, followed by a joint session titled “Is Physical Beauty a Jewish Value? Ambiguity or Ambivalence?”

Rabbi Michael Hattin

Rabbi Hattin has written two books that offer insight into his approach to study: “Passages: Text and Transformation in the Parasha,” published by Urim Publications in 2012, and “Joshua: The Challenge of the Promised Land,” published by Koren Publishers in 2015.

The Pardes web site describes Passages as “a thought-provoking study of the weekly parasha that deftly weaves literary analysis of the Biblical text with selected teachings of classical Jewish commentary. Revealing the intricacies of the Torah portion and offering innovative readings, Passages applies the Torah’s message to the complexities of modern living. Passages is a journey into the landscape of Biblical study that will both challenge and refresh you.” It is available online at

Rabbi Hattin’s work on Joshua is available through Amazon. There, it is described as bringing to life “the biblical Book of Joshua, highlighting how the many complex issues faced by the people as they fought to possess their new land mirror and shed light on today’s reality. Hattin approaches the text as literary narrative, considering it from the perspectives of rabbinic midrash, medieval commentary, and modern scholarship. Eloquently and perceptively, he draws the reader into one of the defining periods in Jewish history, in which the new nation strives to forge a collective identity in their homeland.” 

The book also grapples with the question of what constitutes successful leadership.

In addition to teaching at Pardes, Rabbi Hattin is the coordinator of the Beit Midrash for the Pardes Center for Jewish educators. He studied for semicha at Yeshivat Har Etzion and earned a degree in architecture at the University of Toronto. He has served as scholar-in-residence in many communities in North America and Europe and lives in Alon Shevut with his wife, Rivka, and their five children.

To register for this year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning, go to and click “More” to register from the Global Day screen. •


Learning options after Global Day

There’s something new about this year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning, Nashville’s sixth.

It will be the lead-in to a twice-a-month program called “Details and Fairy Tales: Understanding the Talmud’s Take on Modern Questions.” The program is co-sponsored by the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and the Gordon Jewish Community Center.

The series will include ten sessions taught by Rabba Yaffa Epstein, starting with her Global Day presentation, titled “If You Would Have Been Ugly You Would Have Studied More: The Talmud’s Take on Beauty.” All 10 sessions take place on Sundays from November 2017 through April 2018. All text sources are in English and Hebrew. There’s a Havrutah (partnered learning) component to the course, which includes live and online classes. Topics include conflict in leadership, friendship, self-care and healthy family life.

There is a charge for the course, and course space is limited to the first 25 participants. To register, visit For more information, contact Rabba Yaffa Epstein at or (212) 447-4333 or Mark Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, or (615) 354-1660. •