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The Jewish History Podcast - By Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe

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Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe's Jewish History Lectures. Please email questions or comments to

Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe's Jewish History Lectures. Please email questions or comments to
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Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe's Jewish History Lectures. Please email questions or comments to




Ep. 59: The Blueprint of Jewish History

The oft-repeated refrain “history repeats itself” is especially true with respect to the stories of the forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as conveyed in the Book of Genesis. Our Sages have made the bold claim that everything that happened to our forefathers as individuals will be repeated to their children on the national stage. The […]


Ep. 58: Abraham: The Birth of Monotheism and the Origins of the Jewish Nation

The story of the Jewish people – and truthfully the story of all monotheists, Christians and Muslims too – begins with Abraham. Abraham is of course the progenitor of the Jewish nation via his son, Isaac and grandson, Jacob, and his other son, Ishmael, is viewed as the forbearer of the Arabs and by extension […]


Ep. 57: A History of Kabbalah (Part Two: The Arizal and His Era)

In the 16th century, the city of Safed in Northern Israel became host to one of the greatest collections of Torah Sages ever assembled, none more transformative or influential as Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as the Arizal. Though he lived a very short life of 38 years (1534-1572), he revolutionized the study, perception, and understanding of Kabbalah […]


Ep. 56: A History of Kabbalah (Part One: Fom Sinai to Safed)

Kabbalah is part of the corpus of Oral Torah – like the Mishnah, the Talmud and Halacha – that was given to Moshe at Sinai and transmitted from generation to generation, but unlike the revealed Torah which was disseminated as widely as possible to the whole nation, the Kabbalah was arcane and esoteric – known to the very […]


Ep. 55: Techeiles: The History of the Mysterious Blue Dye and its Fringe Benefits

The word “Techeiles” is mentioned dozens of times in the Torah, and is a subject that appears in many places in the Talmud and associated literature. Techeiles is both a color and a material, namely wool dyed with this color, but to fulfill the Torah’s requirement for this particular color it can only be derived from the […]


Ep. 54: The Entebbe Raid

On the 6th of Tammuz, July 4th 1976, a team of Israeli commandos flew 2500 miles undetected across hostile countries, raided the Entebbe airport in Uganda and rescued 100 Jews who were being held hostage after their commercial plane was hijacked. This stunning, daring, audacious, miraculous Hollywoodesque rescue wowed the world, and galvanized the Jewish […]


Ep. 53: The Ten Lost Tribes: History, Legends, and Folklore

The story of the Ten Lost Tribes is shrouded in mystery, replete with legends and folklore. At its core it is one of the greatest tragedies of Jewish history. It began with the worst schism and civil war in our history. The rift persisted for decades and was never resolved despite many concerted efforts of the great prophets […]


Ep. 52: The History of the Sanhedrin (Part Two: From Yavneh Onward)

After the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed, the Sanhedrin at Yavneh became the epicenter of Jewish life. Though the pride of the nation – The Holy Temple in Jerusalem which was standing for 420 years – was destroyed, and tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews were massacred, Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s negotiations with Vespasian […]


Ep. 51: The History of the Sanhedrin (Part One: From Moshe until the Destruction of the Second Temple)

The Sanhedrin, the highest halachic authority in the Land comprised of the 71 greatest scholars in the Jewish world, was the Supreme Court of the Jewish Nation. It was founded by Moshe about a year after the Revelation at Sinai and continued almost uninterrupted for 1700 years. This body played an instrumental role in guiding and […]


Ep. 50: The Story of King David (Part Two: David, King of Israel)

David is now the undisputed king of Israel, but before him lay several key tasks: Of course the various Philistine and Canaanite tribes continue to be a pest, and David must subdue them to create lasting stability. Most importantly, however, David needs to corral the tribes of Israel who were formerly loyal to Saul and Ish […]


Ep. 49: The Story of King David (Part One: Rise to Monarchy)

King David was anointed as the second king of Israel by the prophet Samuel and is considered the archetype of the Jewish king who earned the mantle of monarchy for his descendants forever. He authored the Psalms, which until this day are the ultimate manifestation of the Jewish soul yearning for its Creator and praying and beseeching […]


Ep. 48: The History of the Jewish Calendar (Plus Annual Fundraising Appeal at

Annual Appeal To my dear listeners, At TORCH we have a simple philosophy: We give stimulating and engaging and relevant Torah teachings every day. But there is one day a year that we ask our friends, students, supporters and partners to give to TORCH. Today is that day. Today we will, please God, raise the […]


Ep. 47: The Purim Story

The Purim Story begins with King Achashverosh, the Persian king who ruled from Hodu until Cush (India until Ethiopia), making a massive feast for all the ministers and noblemen of Persia and Media that lasted for 180 days. Soon afterwards Achashverosh partners with the wicked Haman to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. In this podcast […]


Ep. 46: The Purim Backstory

Purim is a holiday celebrated by Jews worldwide on the 14th day of the month of Adar, and in Jerusalem and walled cities on the fifteenth day of Adar. It commemorates the story of the salvation of the Jewish nation from the genocidal plans of Haman and Achashveirosh in Persia. How did the Jews end up living […]


Ep. 45: A History of Tefillah (Jewish Prayer), Liturgy, and the Siddur

Prayer is a central aspect of Jewish life. The second mishnah in Pirkei Avos identifies the three pillars that uphold the world, one of them being prayer. Prayer also occupies a large part of Jewish observance: we pray thrice daily, four times on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, holidays and festivals, and five times on Yom Kippur, amounting […]


Ep. 44: Jerusalem: A History of the Holy City from the Bible to Bibi

The ancient and historic city of Jerusalem is the most contested piece of real estate on the planet. For Jews, it is the center of the world; it is the hallowed grounds upon which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob treaded and prayed; it was the site of the two Temples, and of the long-awaited third Temple. […]


Ep. 43: The History of Chanukah: Hellenism, Heroism and Hasmoneans

The holiday of Chanukah commemorates the triumph of the Maccabean Revolt over the oppressive regime of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire. In this podcast we tell the story of this miraculous victory of the weak over the mighty; the few over the many; the pure over the impure; and the righteous over the wicked. NEW PODCAST – […]


Ep. 42: Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel (Part Two: The Mussar Ideology)

The burgeoning yeshiva movement today, and indeed the fact that yeshivos did not go extinct a century ago, is due to Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, known the world over as the Alter of Slabodka, more than any one person. He was the first to combine two of the greatest movements of the 19th century into one, […]


Ep. 41: Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel (Part One: The Slabodka Revolution)

Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, known the world over as the Alter of Slabodka, was and is the greatest builder of Torah of the last several centuries. The burgeoning yeshiva movement today, and indeed the fact that yeshivos did not go extinct a century ago, is due to him more than any one person. He was the first […]


Ep. 40: Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik and the Brisker Method of Talmudic Analysis

Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik, the scion of a prestigious rabbinical family, was the father of a new penetrating, incisive, and brilliant approach to Talmudic study and analysis that took the Yeshiva world by storm and is now ubiquitously accepted in the Yeshiva world. In addition to those accomplishments, he was also the paragon of kindness. In this […]