Sefer Daniel: The Legacy of our Babylonian Experience

Rabbi Moshe Shulman

Tuesdays Ongoing (No Class February 28 and March 7)

1:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Israel


The book of Daniel explores the challenge of the Jewish community adapting to life in exile in Babylon in the first generation after the exile began, under the spiritual leadership of Daniel and his friends. Famous stories such as Daniel in the Lion's Den sit alongside some of the most enigmatic and yet critically important prophecies about redemption and the anticipation of the Jewish people's return home.

PART I: Babylonian Exile –The Early Years:

The book of Daniel raises important questions for the nascent exiles, questions with a remarkably contemporary flavor, such as remaining religiously committed as a minority in a foreign and often culturally hostile environment, the nature of our relationship with G-d after the destruction of the Temple, the role of prayer and the origins of our prayer structure, and how to interpret visions and prophecies surrounding exact dates for the coming of the Messiah.

PART II: Daniel & the Fall of Babylon! (BEGINS JANUARY 10, 2023)

Daniel sits at the center of the most influential and powerful empire to date, and predicts its downfall!  How did Babylon fall?  What role did Daniel play in guiding its Kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, and Belshazzar?  In this unit we will also examine some of the most famous prophecies of Daniel predicting the redemption of Israel.  What are the “Four Kingdoms” and when will the final redemption take place?  We’ll examine predictions and date calculations of Biblical commentaries and apply them to Babylonian as well as world history.

[Important Note: While this is a year-long course, it is divided into 3 separate units, and new participants are always welcome, particularly at the beginning of each new section.]

PART III: Daniel & the Rise of Persia!

Why was Daniel thrown into the lion’s den?  Why does that story still influence our daily religious life, including our daily prayers?  What hope did the prophets in general, and Daniel in particular, pin on the new Persian empire, and were those hopes realized or dashed?  Where does Purim fit in historically?  What role did Daniel have in shaping the themes, texts, and structure of our prayers today?  In this 3rd and final unit on the book of Daniel we will look at the chapters that focus on the Persian period, and re-examine Daniel’s prophecies for the Redemption of Israel.  Daniel is the only book of Tanach to use actual numbers in his calculation of the Redemption of Israel, so understanding those numbers influences our understanding of history, including the era of the modern State of Israel!  These questions and more are the primary focus of this third and concluding unit on the book of Daniel.

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