In the Pursuit of Happiness or of Meaning? Socrates, Kohelet and Victor Frankel on the Meaning of Life
Thursday, September 28 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
It is at times of great rupture or great joy that we are often faced with the fragility of life. And when faced with our mortality and transience of our time on earth we will frequently inquire of its meaning. Once a year on the festival of Sukkot we are forced into conditions of fragility and transience. Moving outside our homes to a temporary structure and remembering our journey in the wilderness conditions us towards asking questions of meaning. Two common responses to these existential questions are hedonism or the creation of meaning. Judaism entertains them both. Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) read on Sukkot is a musing on these responses – everything is vanity, drink be merry for tomorrow we will die. In other places meaning is created through shared narrative, law, order and belief in God. Utilising ancient philosophy, modern psychology and the wisdom of our tradition and its text we will unpack the question of meaning in our modern lives and show how the Bible and its customs already anticipated this human challenge many centuries earlier.
Dr. Tanya White is a sought after international lecturer, writer and educator with a focus on Tanach and Contemporary Jewish Thought. She is a Senior lecturer at Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies and gives weekly classes in other institutions including Pardes and LSJS. Tanya acts as scholar in residence to diverse communities in the US, Switzerland and the UK. She is a graduate of the Matan Hasharon Scholars program and holds a BSc from LSE in International Relations and an MA in Jewish studies and philosophy from LSJS and SOAS London. She holds a doctorate in Jewish Philosophy from Bar Ilan University, and is the recipient of Schupf Fellowship for outstanding students. She was elected as a “Sacks Scholar” in the inaugural cohort programme of Rabbi Sacks Scholars 2023/24. Tanya is the mother of four daughters and lives with her husband and family on a Moshav in central Israel. A collection of her articles, blogs and published material can be viewed on her blog page: www.tanyawhite.org.