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Musar: Exploring the Good Life through Nachmanides’ Ethical Will

Date: Wednesday, Aug. 25 | 11:00 AM–12:15 PM EDT

In this seminar, we will reach back through the generations and explore some of the most fundamental values of Judaism and some of the deepest struggles of life itself. Through the medium of a letter written by a great 13th-century rabbinic father at the end of his life, we will ask ourselves bedrock questions of contemporary relevance: “What is a life well-lived?” And, more specifically, “What is a Jewish life well-lived?” Shortly before his passing, the Ramban (Nachmanides) (1194-1270), wrote a focused and powerful letter to his son, reducing the mysteries and complexities of the good life to a mere 800 words. In this directive to his son, which has since become one of most-studied texts of Musar (the Jewish ethical tradition), the Ramban touches on commerce, love, family, society, and how to make the most of our limited time in this world. In our seminar, we will explore the letter, its content and context, and the values expressed therein, with an eye towards its continuing relevance today.

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