TanakhTanach classes engage students in the creative process of exploring the meaning of the text and enable them to develop the analytic and textual skills which are prerequisites for independent study. The focus is on analyzing the text of Tanach aided by classical and modern commentaries. Students gain an appreciation of parshanut as they engage in the same quest as commentators. As students prepare texts prior to class, they are empowered as active learners. Their preparation often takes place in the form of chavruta (cooperative) learning. Tanach teachers lead students well beyond isolated passukim to identify themes and essential messages of each section, perek and sefer. Through Tanach classes Frisch teachers aim to transmit to their students the skills, appreciation, and enthusiasm for the study of biblical text that will facilitate future learning.


Senior Electives

The Book of Devarim: Mastering Exegetical Methodologies (Honors)

In his various speeches throughout Devarim, Moshe carries out his last task as leader and teacher of the Jewish people. The book of Devarim’s various stories, laws, and words of rebuke are analyzed in order to uncover their unifying themes and eternal messages.

Mitzvot Through the Parsha

Over one-quarter of the taryag (613) mitzvot are concentrated in three parshiyot: Mishpatim, Kedoshim and Ki Teitze. An in-depth focus on these sections provides an understanding of a broad range of mitzvot bearing practical and philosophical significance. The connection between the Written and Oral Torahs will be highlighted as topics are covered, such as civil law, marital law and the Torah’s perspective on war and slavery.

Sibling Rivalry (Honors)

The story of the first siblings in the world, Kayin and Hevel, ended in fratricide. Was it jealousy, pride, anger, or all of the above? The many stories throughout Tanach wrought with controversial sibling relationships are examined, beginning with Kayin and Hevel and ending with the infamous story of King David’s sons, Amnon and Avshalom.

Women in Tanach

“There are four beautiful women in the world; Sarah, Rachav, Avigayil and Esther.” (BT Megillah 14a) Why does the Talmud specify these four biblical women? Which women were known as the seven prophetesses? The character and conduct of twenty of the most impactful and important women in the Bible, including the three wives of King David: Michal, Avigayil and Batsheva, are examined.

Biblical Portraits: Artist Beit Midrash (Art Pre-req)

Beginning with Sefer Yehoshua and continuing through the Megillot, students learn through textual study, reflection, chavruta and individual work about characters in Nach who teach unique lessons of character and morality. Project-based art assignments enable students to reflect upon their personal understanding, and illustrations of the biblical texts are presented to a group of teachers for critique.

Torat Chaim: Life Lessons of the Torah

The biblical text and its commentaries deal with many religious questions that are encountered on a daily basis in modern times. Issues of faith, the personal relationship between man and God, the highs and lows of daily religious experience, as well as various other theological, philosophical, psychological and existential questions are explored as they arise in textual study.

Parshanut on the Parsha (Honors)

Corresponding to Parshat HaShavua, each week’s study begins with the students’ reading, dividing and titling the sections of each parsha, enabling students to gain a broad familiarity with the Torah. Key topics that arise in each parsha are analyzed using parshanut, as students investigate how and why a commentator chose to interpret the text in a particular manner. Larger hashkafik/philosophical issues that are raised in the weekly parsha are also discussed, as students learn how to craft their own divrei Torah.

Biblical Scandals (Honors)

If tabloid newspapers had existed in the Ancient Near East, the Tanach and its characters would be featured constantly in the headlines. Characters or events in Tanach that are often neglected in a typical high school curriculum are carefully analyzed, including Dinah/Shechem, Reuven/dudaim, Yehuda/Tamar, Shimshon, Pilegesh b’Givah, Pesel Micha, David/Batsheva/Michal, Amnon/Tamar, etc. While some of these characters play a primary role in the narrative in which they appear, others serve as foils to the protagonists. These colorful and often controversial characters are essential in conveying the values inherent in the stories which are deciphered through textual study.

Eliyahu and Elisha

We sing about Eliyahu Hanavi at havdalah every motzei shabbat, pour a glass of wine for him at the seder, and set a chair for him at every brit milah, but who is Eliyahu Hanavi in Tanach? Perakim in Sefer Melachim are explored which tell the stories of Eliyahu Hanavi and his successor, Elisha. Significant themes, such as the need for justice vs. mercy, the role of the Navi, the actual threat of avodah zarah and the ideals of leadership are discussed.

Timeless Lessons from the Weekly Parasha

While Humash for the first three years in Frisch is often sefer-centric, studying in-depth chapters and verses from a selection of parshiyot in just one book of Torah, this course moves at a faster pace, analyzing the parsha each week before it is read on Shabbat. The most famous topics in Torah are discussed through the lens of Torah giants – from Ramban to the Meshech Chochma, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz to the Ba’al Shem Tov, Nechama Leibowitz to Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.