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Rabbi Mordechai Becher

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Rabbi Mordechai Becher, originally from Australia, is senior lecturer of the Gateways Organization and an instructor at Yeshiva University.  He received his semicha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and holds an MA in Medieval Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University, where he is currently a doctoral candidate.  He taught at Ohr Somayach and Neve Yerushalayim in Jerusalem for 15 years, and served in the Israel Defence Forces.  Rabbi Becher has answered thousands of questions on AsktheRabbi.org and presents a Talmud class, Dimensions of the Daf, on cable TV with the Jewish Broadcasting Service. Rabbi Becher’s latest book, Gateway to Judaism, published by Artscroll, is in its ninth printing. He has taught in the USA, Canada, England, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Russia, and has conducted tours in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Israel and India.

Sample Titles

The Written And Oral Laws

  • Introduction to the Written Law
  • Introduction to the Oral Law
  • The Bible as History (You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Read the Book!)
  • Unearthing Ancient Mysteries: Archaeology and the Bible.
  • Why Not Write It All Down?
  • The Oral Law: Tradition or Invention? (Accuracy of the Oral Tradition)*
  • Criticizing the Critics: Analysis and Response to Biblical Criticism
  • Who Cares What Happened to the Ox? or Why Study Gemara?
  • Do I Have To Take That Literally? Midrash, Metaphor and Meaning.*
  • The Hidden Dimension: Mystical Aspects of the Talmud.
  • Rabbinic Laws; Customs, and Jewish Practice.
  • A Page of Talmud: Content, History, Development and Mystery
  • Prophecy, Sinai and Jewish Law.
  • The Seven Noachide Laws.
  • “An Eye For An Eye”: What Does it Really Mean?
  • Torah Study and the Pursuit of a Livelihood.
  • Science and the Torah: Some Common Ground.
  • What Is Kabbalah?*
  • History, Concepts and Power of Kabbalah
  • Probability, Statistics and Minority Rights: An Analysis of a Mishnah.
  • A Mistaken Court: An Analysis of a Mishnah.
  • Marriage by Proxy and Personal Responsibility: Talmudic Analysis
  • Benefit and Loss: Talmudic Analysis
  • How to Prepare a Dvar Torah
  • Was Og Really 18 Feet Tall? Taking the Torah Literally
  • What If We Found Moshe’s Tefillin – Archaeology and Halachah

The Land Of Israel

  • Occupied or Liberated: Whose Land Is It Anyway?*
  • Jerusalem: Eye of the Universe (Multi-Media Presentation)
  • Yom Yerushalayim: Jews and Jerusalem, a Love Story
  • Israel Independence Day – Yom Ha-Atzmaut
  • Munich: Revenge, Justice and Self-Defense or Where Fiction and Falsehood Meet.*
  • Settlement in the Land of Israel
  • Hebron and the Double Cave: Mystical and Historic Significance
  • Seeds of Conflict: Religious Roots of the Middle Eastern Conflict
  • Islamic and Arab Attitudes to the Jews and Israel
  • Yeshiva Students and the Israeli Army
  • Religious Secular Tension in the State of Israel
  • The Sanctity of the Temple Mount
  • Exchanging Land for Peace
  • Bargaining With Terrorists
  • The State of Israel and the Arms Trade
  • Jewish State or State for Jews? The Ideal of a Jewish State in Jewish Thought
  • Why Do We Need a Country?
  • What is a Life Worth? Getting Back Our POWs.
  • Civilian Casualties and Collateral Damage in Halachah.
  • The Mossad and How to be a Kosher Spy

Medical Ethics

  • Introduction to Jewish Medical Ethics
  • The Obligation to Heal
  • Do Not Resuscitate, Do Not Revive
  • “Triage” Rationing Resources, and Priorities in Medical Emergencies
  • Procreation, Birth Control and Zero Population Growth
  • Abortion in Halachah
  • Cigarette Smoking and Halachah
  • Cosmetic Surgery in Halachah
  • Genetic Engineering in Halachah
  • Drug Use and Drug Abuse
  • Cloning in Halachah
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Alternative Therapies and Halachah
  • Mengele’s Medicine – Benefiting From Tainted Research
  • The Healing “Arts” – Tattoos, Piercing and Liposuction

Shabbat, Festivals And Special Occasions

  • The Jewish Calendar.
  • The Sabbath : Who Invented the Weekend Anyway?
  • Mystical and Historical Insights Into Customs of the Shabbat Meals.
  • The Laws of Shabbat. (Course)
  • What’s Wrong With Bread, Anyway? (Pesach)
  • Daddy, Why Isn’t Charlton Heston in the Haggadah?
  • The Parting of the Waves: Haggadah Series (1-4 classes)
  • Laws and Customs of the Seder.
  • The Ten Plagues.
  • Jews Are From the Moon, Egyptians Are From the Sun.
  • Exile of the Body, Exile of the Soul: The Exodus as a Metaphor.
  • Ruth’s Roots and the Counting Covenant
  • Lag B’Omer: Archery, Bonfires and Mysticism
  • The 28th of Iyar: The Liberation of Jerusalem (Yom Yerushalayim).
  • Shavuot: When G-d and Man Touched.
  • Shavuot and the Creation of Time
  • Tu Bishvat: The New Year of Trees and Its Meaning.
  • And Rabbi Akivah Laughed: Tisha B’Av, From Destruction to Redemption
  • Spirals in Time: A Historical Outlook on Tisha B’Av
  • Gathering the Sparks: Tisha B’Av and the Role of the Individual
  • In G-d’s Image: Jewish Responses to Suffering and Tisha B’Av.
  • Belief in G-d, Belief in Self: The Fifteenth of Av
  • Days of Awe or Awful Days.
  • How Do You Plead?: Divine Judgment on Rosh Hashanah
  • The Case for the Defense: Preparing for Rosh Hashanah
  • The Mitzvah of Teshuvah: Repentance
  • Eat, Drink and Be Merry! For Tomorrow We Fast.
  • Don’t Get Stuck With a Lemon: Laws and Philosophy of the Four Species
  • Alexander the Great and Simon the Just: A Chanukah Story
  • Three Corners, Two Guys and a Night in Persia (Purim)


Jewish Philosophy

  • In Search of Pleasure
  • Freewill and Conditioning: A Delicate Balance.
  • Too Many Mitzvot? Why is Judaism So Nitpicking?*
  • Honor, Dignity and Breaking Bones
  • The Kuzari: Historical background and selected topics. (Course)
  • Why Bad Things Happen to Good People (& vice versa).*
  • Where on Earth is the World to Come? The Concept of Life after Life
  • Minority Report: Jews as a Protest Group
  • Truth, Loyalty and Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda
  • The Descent of the Generations: So What? (Yeridas Hadoros)
  • WWAD – What Would Abraham Do? How Abraham would deal with today’s issues.
  • When Jake Meets Jane: Intermarriage
  • Six Thousand Years of Bread
  • Would the Real Amalek Please Stand Up
  • Belief and Action: An Introduction to the 13 Principles of Faith.
  • Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith. (Course)
  • Getting Up on the Right Side of Bed or Why Do We Pray?
  • Fred, Wilma and the Age of the Universe
  • Dreams and Nightmares in Jewish Thought
  • The Boy With Two Heads: Is Religious Pluralism Possible?
  • Body and Soul: And G-d Made Man in His Image.
  • What Do We Mean When Say Mazaltov?
  • Crash Course in Judaism: Belief in G-d, The Mitzvot, Shabbat, Prayer, Sexuality, The Land of Israel
  • Jewish Heroes and Jewish Heroism
  • Hebrew: The DNA of Creation
  • The Ten Commandments of Jewish Parenting
  • If I Ignore It Will It Go Away? – Can A Jew Be Apathetic About Judaism?
  • Is the Rabbi Always Right? – Infallibility, Da’at Torah and Rabbinic Authority
  • Jews and Gentiles: Co-operation or Competition?
  • “Vengeance Is Mine” – Revenge in Jewish Law and Philosophy
  • Triumphs and Traumas – How Judaism Deals With Life’s Ups and Downs.
  • You Talking to Me? – Rage and Anger
  • Is Harry Potter Kosher? Judaism and the Occult
  • The Jewish Home
  • Survivor- The Miraculous Jewish People*
  • Gratitude, Cheeseburgers and the Lord of the Flies
  • Derech Eretz – Is it more than “Please” and “Thank you”?
  • Does the End Justify the Means?
  • Night of the Living Dead – The Resurrection
  • George Orwell, Individuality and Free Will
  • Dealing With Uncertainty in Chassidic Thought
  • The Chassidic Revolution
  • Opposition to Chassidism
  • Happiness: Guaranteed
  • Steal This Lecture – Up the Revolution

Contemporary Issues

  • Who is a Jew? The Halachic Status of the Ethiopian Jews.
  • Martyrdom and the Commandment to Live.
  • Intermarriage and Conversion.
  • Surveillance and Privacy in Jewish Thought
  • All Creatures Great and Small: Animal Rights in Jewish Law.
  • Driving and Parking through the Eyes of Jewish Law
  • The Martial Arts and Halachah.
  • Hackers, Nerds and Software Pirates – Is This a Job for a Jewish Boy?
  • Leadership, Morality and Competence (Saul and David)
  • Women as Rabbis.
  • The Rooster, the Tree and the SUV – Judaism and the environment
  • Sameness, Equality and Gender – Men and Women
  • Don’t Tell Anyone, But… (Confidentiality)
  • Is Your Home Your Castle. (Invasion of Privacy)
  • Introduction to Jewish Business Ethics
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Jerusalem and Sodom (Legislating ethical behaviour)
  • Jewish Law in a Non-Jewish Society
  • Halachic Wills and the Laws of Inheritance
  • Child Custody and Adoption
  • Insider Trading: Is It Immoral or “only” Illegal?
  • Following the Laws of a State.
  • Capital Punishment: Deterrent, Atonement or Revenge?
  • Art and Imagery in Jewish Law.
  • In Her Place: Wife Abuse and the Agunah Issue in Jewish Law.
  • Trust in G-d!… And Buy Life Insurance.
  • Blurred Boundaries: Judaism and Politics
  • Beit Din or Court: Conflicts of Responsibility for a Jewish Lawyer.
  • Are Pork Bellies Kosher? The Futures Market in Halachah.
  • Brutal Honesty and Loving Lies
  • Smooth or Kosher? Whiskey in Halachah
  • Praying to Angels, Blessing from Rebbes and Visiting Graves
  • The Laws of Sushi
  • Looking Good – Marit Ayin

 

Mitzvot And Their Rationale

  • Asking Why: The Mitzvot and Their Rationale.
  • Justice, Charity and Tzedakah.
  • Soul Food: Rationale and Overview of the Dietary Laws.*
  • Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor.
  • Halachah and Responsibility to Others.
  • The Legislation of Kindness in Halachah.
  • Honoring Parents
  • Strings Attached: The Mitzvah of Tzitzit
  • But Names Will Never Hurt Me: Lashon Hara: The Ethics of Speech.
  • Modesty, Shmodesty! As Long as You Look Good!
  • Mourning, Bereavement and Comfort.
  • Symbolism of the Sanctuary and the Synagogue

 

Jewish History

  • An Introduction to the Study of Jewish History.
  • An Overview Course of Jewish History: 175 years per hour
  • From Cairo to Cambridge: Jewish Treasures of Egypt (Cairo Genizah A/V)
  • “Some of My Best Friends Are…” Antisemitism: Causes and Effects.
  • Great Controversies in Jewish History:
  • Looking for an Argument? Controversy in Jewish Tradition
  • The Guide for the Perplexed: Faith Vs. Knowledge
  • The Renewal of Semichah (Ordination).
  • The Teaching of Kabbalah.
  • Chassidism and Opposition
  • Zionism and Anti-Zionism
  • An Historical Analysis of Tisha B’Av.
  • Archaeology and History of Purim (A/V)
  • Shabtai Zevi: A False Messiah – History, Aftermath and Lessons
  • Peter, the Jewish Bishop of Rome: Martyr, Apostate or Secret Agent?
  • Eat and Be Satisfied: History and Philosophy of Jewish Food.
  • A Prophet for Our Time: The Life and Philosophy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
  • The Ten Lost Tribes
  • The Lion of Prague: The Life, Views and Struggles of the Maharal
  • From Moses to Moses: The Life and Teachings of Maimonides
  • Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto – Life, Times and Legacy
  • Rav Moshe Isserles – His life and surprising views
  • Rav Simcha Bunim of Pyrsichsha
  • Rav Yosef Karo
  • Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch: A Prophet for Our Times
  • Sempo Sugihara and the Shanghai Rescue
  • Kristallnacht
  • The Mother of Yeshivas – Volozhin
  • Al Andalus: The Jews of Spain
  • The Jews of China
  • Torah From Troyes: Rashi
  • Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook
  • Blood Libels – From Ancient Greece to New York State

 

Multi-Media Presentations

  • Jerusalem: Eye of the Universe
  • Archaeology and the Bible
  • The Mikveh Through the Ages
  • Survivor Israel
  • From Cairo to Cambridge: Treasures of the Cairo Genizah
  • A Page of History: The Evolution of the Page of Talmud
  • The Hatred, the Passion and the Jews
  • A Taste of Talmud
  • Hebrew: DNA of Creation
  • Treasures of the Temple
  • What is Kabbalah?
  • The Rabbi Made Me Do It
  • Israel in Crisis
  • The Torah Scroll
  • Virtual Tour of Jewish Prague
  • Virtual Tour of Jewish Italy
  • History and Archaeology of Purim
  • History and Archaeology of Chanukah
  • The Jews of China
  • The Jews of India
  • The Jews of Australia
  • Escape to Shanghai
  • Shabtai Zevi: False Messiah
  • Al Andalus: Spain and the Inquisition
  • Blood Libels: From Ancient Greece to New York State
  • The Crusades
  • Israel: Occupied or Liberated?

 

Miscellaneous Topics

  • Refuting a Christian Missionary
  • Sinning to Save a Soul
  • Who is the Real Messiah?
  • The Status of Christianity and Islam in Jewish Law
  • The Myth of Judaeo-Christian Ethics
  • Is Judaism a Cult?
  • An Introduction to the Siddur
  • How to Build a Jewish Library* (* and Why?)
  • The “Ba’al Teshuva” and His/Her Parents
  • Connecting Through Kiruv: Halachic, Philosophical and Practical Aspects of Outreach
  • What an Outreach Professional Should Know. (Course)
  • A Virtual Tour of Jewish Prague
  • Bridging the Gap
  • One Step At a Time – Teshuva, Common Sense and Halachah
  • Help! My Spouse Is Becoming Religious!
  • Adults at Risk

 

Advanced Classes

  • Are Our Torah Scrolls Accurate? Does it Matter?
  • The Halachic Dateline
  • Adam, Sin and Free Will
  • Importance of Argument – Eilu VaEilu
  • Kol Yisrael Areivim – Responsibility for Each Other
  • Praying to Angels, Blessings from Rabbis and Visiting Graves
  • The Books of Life and Death
  • Confession of Sins
  • Idolater’s Idiosyncrasies: Following Pagan Practices
  • Neshama Yeteirah: The Extra Soul of Shabbos
  • Lo Tasur: Do Not Deviate from Rabbinic Law
  • Six Hours or One? – Waiting After Meat
  • Smoking on Yom Tov

Courses

  • Nefesh HaChaim – The Kabbalistic Tradition of Rav Chaim of Volozhin
  • The Hidden Dimension – Insights into the Aggadah and Midrash
  • The Oral Law – History, structure, content, hands-on study
  • Moreh Hanevuchim – Guide for the Perplexed of Maimonides
  • Siddur- Laws, meaning and philosophy of the prayerbook
  • Crash Course in Judaism – G-d, Mitzvot, Prayer, Shabbat, Sexuality, Israel
  • Torah for Tycoons – Business Ethics
  • Medical Ethics
  • Jewish Law for Lawyers
  • Ethics of the Fathers – In Depth
  • Outreach Training Course
  • Jewish History: From Monotheism to Zionism
  • Great Controversies in Jewish History.
  • Jewish Literacy – Major Texts of Judaism – What They Are, Who Wrote Them, and What is In Them.
  • Overview of Tanach – Covering all books of the Tanach.
  • The Kuzari – Arguments in Defense of the Faith
  • Laws of Shabbat, Kashrut, and the Jewish Life-Cycle
  • How to Read the Book of Books – Weekly Parsha
  • What Do Jews Believe? Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith
  • Why Do We Do It? Analysis of Rationale of the Commandments
  • Talmud With Training Wheels
  • Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – Jewish law and customs with reasons, applications and practical advice.
  • Contemporary Halachic Problems
  • The Land of Israel: History, Philosophy, Mysticism and Law

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