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In  Strength and Struggle we unlock the secrets of great character by exploring some of the most dramatic narratives and inspiring personalities in all of history. Set in the midst of our nation’s formative years, an era in which our ancestors fought to carve out a civilization among hostile neighbors, these thrilling tales of judges, kings, and prophets reach into the essence of the human condition. Their heroes and antiheroes teach us eternal lessons of struggle and triumph, courage and humility, hope and resilience. 

Presenter: Rabbi Levi Teldon (Spring 2016)

Lesson 1
Jepthah: Gaining Perspective

What propelled him to do the unthinkable-to sacrifice his own daughter? Emotions often cloud our judgment. How do we gain perspective at such times? This lesson examines Jephthah's failures, exploring alternative ways in which he might have dealt with his situation, and how we can respond when facing similar circumstances. 

Lesson 2
Saul: Qualities of a Leader

What are the signature strengths that make a person great? What is the difference between being smart and being wise? In the story of our ancestors' quest to install their first king, we dissect Saul's character, his humility and wisdom, and the key weakness that led to his downfall. 

Lesson 3
Ruth: Commitment and Sacrifice

What comforts and freedoms should we be willing to sacrifice to get the job done? The story of Ruth contrasts leaders who forsook their duties, with those who understood the meaning of responsibility, and who demonstrated courage to let go of everything dear to them to do what is right. 

Lesson 4
David: Dealing with Mistakes

At what point should we forgive ourselves for our mistakes (and others for theirs)? How do we transform a blunder into an impetus for growth? The saga of King David and Bathsheba has attracted much attention over the ages, but what interests us more than what he did, or why he did it, is understanding how King David dealt with his mistake.

Lesson 5
Elijah and Elisha: Simplicity

Motivation and passion are critical to living life to its fullest. What do we do when our zest for life is depleted? How do we find inspiration then? While Elijah may be the more famous of the mentor-protege pair, this lesson emphasizes Elisha's human care and attention to detail, over Elijah's large-scale, grandiose miracles.

Lesson 6
Jonah: A Rendezvous with Destiny

What is your mission in life? How much time do you spend on routines, at the expense of your goals? We examine Jonah's motive for defying G‑d's instructions, to the point of attempting suicide. Is it ever justified to sacrifice the means entirely for the sake of achieving our goals?