It has recently become quite common to find families moving their Pesach Seder from the dining room table to the living room couches. At least in part this step is motivated by a keen interest in conducting what seems to be a more authentic Seder, as shaped by the rabbis two millennia ago along the lines of the Greco Roman symposium. Consequently, the stiff seating arrangement around the alter-like table is replaced by a more liberated recline at small personal ones. Continue reading →
As a devoted reader, I was flattered by Yitz and Shai’s invitation to review for The Talmud Blog the new book by Rachel Neis, arguably the first full length study ever on “rabbinic aesthetics” or “rabbinic visual culture.” As a scholar trained in modern Jewish thought and philosophy, I have explored in my own work the intersection of art, philosophical aesthetics, and Jewish culture. It’s on that basis that I was asked to read Rachel Neis’ book. Why not?
“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; he’s one who asks the right questions.” -Claude Lévi-Strauss, Le Cru et le cuit (The Raw and the Cooked), 1964
I spend a lot of time asking questions, and a lot of time learning and teaching Talmud. These pastimes are deeply related; the process of uncovering and addressing qushyot u’ba’ayot constitutes the meat and potatoes (or tofu and quinoa, for some of our readers here) of the Talmudic enterprise. The Bavli is a text explicitly animated by query, and we know the joy of the Talmudist who discovers that she or he has “asked like a lamdan,” who has raised the question of Abbaye, the Stamma d’Talmuda, Tosafot, or R. Akiva Eiger. To be a good learner, and certainly a good learner of Talmud, therefore, includes being able to ask good questions. Continue reading →
As our readers may have noticed, we’ve recently adapted the blog to WordPress’ new “Twenty Fourteen Theme.” Besides exemplifying WordPress’ sleek sense of style, the theme caught our eye in that it structures the homepage almost like a daf of Talmud, with the main text in the center and related texts surrounding it towards the margin.
In celebration of The Talmud Blog’s redesign, I have been invited to offer some observations on the layout of the Talmud inspired by my background as a practitioner and scholar of the visual arts. This is a double honor for me as this is also my inaugural post. Thank you for the invitation.
As most of our readers already know, last Sunday Prof. Shamma Friedman was told that he will receive the seventh Israel Prize in Talmud this May. This is a fitting tribute to a scholar who has had an enormous influence on the study of Talmud both within and beyond academia. Continue reading →
Eyal Ben-Eliyahu‘sBetween Borders is the kind of book which deals with such fundamental questions that it makes you wonder how it is that they had not been seriously addressed before. Based on his 2007 Hebrew University dissertation, the book aims to examine the territorial borders of the land of Israel as reflected in a wide array of Palestinian texts – from biblical books through the Amoraic era – and tries to formulate the different concepts of “Eretz Israel” that these borders represent.
Tomorrow, Penn Law School will be hosting a workshop whose genesis is an ongoing discussion between myself and Shai, reflected in a previous post on this blog. The workshop is designed to look at the divide between academic and yeshiva approaches to Talmud through the prism of legal theory. Continue reading →
David Weiss Halivni began work on his Talmud commentary, Sources and Traditions, in 1968 with the publication of a volume on Seder Nashim. In the forty-five years since, Halivni has published an additional seven volumes, covering Seder Moed and Seder Nezikin. Continue reading →
Even in Israel, the new academic year is now in full swing. So this is a good time to look back at 2012-2013 dissertations and these that have been defended. Here at The Talmud Blog we’ll do our best to list the recently submitted ones that may be of interest to our readers. Please feel free to forward to us anything that we may have left out. We hope to update this post as we receive more material. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I was learning daf yomi while nursing my daughter when I came upon the following Talmudic passage, which begins with a quote from the Song of Songs: “‘Our little sister has no breasts.’ Rabbi Yohanan said: This refers to Eilam, who merited to learn but not to teach” (Pesachim 87a).” My infant daughter was lying bare-skinned on my breast, and I looked down at her as I puzzled over this passage. Why is having no breasts analogous to learning but not teaching? Continue reading →
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