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Courage and Sacrifice: The Final Stand at Masada

Date: Tuesday, Aug. 17 | 7:00–8:15 PM EDT

The fall of Masada marked the first time in Jewish history that a group of Jews collectively committing mass suicide was recorded. Following the fiery speech of Eleazar ben Yair, hundreds of Jews within the Masada fortress chose to kill their own wives, children, and each other, rather than surrender themselves as slaves to the Romans. How are we to understand the motivations guiding their actions? What are the ramifications of Jewish martyrdom for our society today? This seminar will examine how Eleazar ben Yair’s rhetoric inspired his listeners to make the ultimate sacrifice. We will explore the relationship between God’s will and Jewish destiny, the immortality of the soul, and the power of our free will to make decisions between an ignoble life and a worthwhile death.

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