My research focuses on the the Babylonian Talmud and the ways in which it incorporates earlier rabbinic texts and echoes of its Sasanian context into a distinct textual archaeology. My interest in context has led me to Zoroastrian literature, where I work primarily on Middle Persian legal texts. It has also engendered an abiding curiosity in Eastern Christianity, Manichaeism, Mandaeism, and late antique Mesopotamian incantation texts – also known as the magic bowls (which lie in front of me in my profile picture). I am also interested in Gender, Orality, and the uses of post-structural theories for understanding the Bavli.
I first studied Talmud seriously in a certain black-hat yeshiva located in Baltimore, MD. I later moved to New York City and studied for a Doctorate at Yeshiva University under the direction of Yaakov Elman. During my second year at YU, I began commuting to Harvard in order to study with the Iranist, P. Oktor Skjaervo. After finishing my coursework at YU, I moved to Israel to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There, I wrote my dissertation on the development of the laws of menstruation in the Bavli and in corresponding Zoroastrian texts. In the fall of 2007, I returned temporarily to the US so I could take up a post-doc at Yale’s program in Judaic Studies. In 2009 I moved back to Israel so I could begin research as a three-year Mandel fellowship at the Scholion Center for Interdisciplinary Jewish Research.
I lecture in the Hebrew University Talmud department, on the Bavli, Gender, Middle Persian literature, and late antique Jewish magic. I am completing two books – one on methods of reading the Bavli contextually, and the other on the interplay between Zoroastrian and rabbinic conceptions of the female body and the laws of menstruation.
Yitz Landes – Co-Editor
Originally from Teaneck, NJ, I moved to Israel in 2006. After spending time in different yeshivot and serving in the army, I began studying at Hebrew University, where I completed my BA in the departments of Talmud and Halakha and Comparative Religion and am currently working toward my MA in Talmud and Halakha. In addition, I’m part of the first cadre of MA students in the university’s Program for the Study of Late Antiquity and its Legacy.
My main interest at the moment is on rabbinic perceptions of sacrifice. I am currently working on analysing how certain religious practices came to “replace” (for lack of a better word) animal sacrifice in rabbinic thought, and what such developments can tell us about how the rabbis understood sacrifice and how that ties into the rabbinic attempt to reorganize Jewish religious life in Late Antiquity. A separate interest of mine is how the Bavli is and has been read, and in that vein I am writing a study of different methodologies used by scholars who try to make sense of the variants found amongst the manuscripts of the Bavli.
I live in the neighborhood of Rehavya in Jerusalem with my wife Daphna.
Yakov Z. Mayer – Editor of Hebrew Content
My name is Yakov Z. Mayer, I am married to Irit and father to Hillel. I currently live in Tel-Aviv. I completed my BA and MA at the Hebrew University. My MA thesis was dedicated to three exegetical works of the Admo”r R. Yitzchak Isaac Safrin of Komarno, one on the Sifra, another on Yerushalmi Sheqalim, and the third on Mishnah Kinnim. Through an analysis of these works I attempted to describe the lamdanut that developed in a Hassidic beit midrash in the 18th century. I am currently at work on a PhD at Tel-Aviv University. My dissertation is entitled “Aspects of the Reception History of the Palestinian Talmud in the Early Modern Period.” In this study I return to the 16th century, to the original printing of the Yerushalmi in Venice in 1522-23, and to the processes of reworking, commentary, legal decision making, collection of sources, editing, cataloging and adaptation of the Yerushalmi to more familiar structures (a process generally referred to by scholars as “Bavlization”) which took place during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Outside of the university I teach at “Alma- Home for Hebrew Culture” in Tel-Aviv as well is in other batei midrash and write the parshat hashavua column in the Literature and Culture section of Ha’aretz.
Amit Gvaryahu – Contributor
I graduated from the Hebrew University in Talmud and Classics. I recently completed my MA Thesis, entitled “Laws of Damages in Tannaitic Literature,” and am currently working on my PhD dissertation, tentatively entitled “Usury in the Rabbinic World and its Environs.” My interests are civil and comparative law in late antiquity, late antique religion, jewish prayer and liturgical poetry, the history of halakhah and Talmudic philology.
I live in Jerusalem with my wife Yedidah, and am a member of several initiatives in Israel and the US that aim to spread academic Talmud to the wider interested public.
Ophir Münz-Manor – Contributor
I received my Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew University in 2007, focusing on late antique liturgical poetry, also known as Piyyut. After the completion of my doctoral dissertation I spent two years at american universities (Brown and the University of Pennsylvania), specializing in Syriac and Byzatine hymnography. Upon returning to Israel I joined the faculty of the Department of History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies at the Open University of Israel as a lecturer of Rabbinic Culture. My work involves a comparative study of Jewish and Christian liturgical poetry from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, exploration of the relationships between Piyyut and contemporary Jewish texts (especially Rabbinic and Hekhalot literatures) as well as investigations of questions of gender and performativity in late antique liturgical compositions. I am completing three books – a critical edition of the poems for Hanukkah by the seventh century payytan, Elazar birabi Qalir, an annotated anthology of late antique Piyyut and a textbook on gender and sexuality in Rabbinic literature.
I live in Jerusalem with my wife, Limor, and two children, Shmuel and Miriam. Outside the academia I play the keyboards in Krikha Raka (eng. Paperback), an indie music-group that performs modern Hebrew poetry and watch as much football (eng. Soccer) as I can.
I am a research associate at the CNRS in Paris, France, working mainly on the spiritual and discursive aspects of rabbinic literature. I am interested in the figure of the late antique rabbi as a spiritual master and disciple, and of rabbinic literature as a discourse proposing to its “addressees” a way of life, just like the late antique philosophical schools and monastic masters. I try to examine the particularities of rabbinic spirituality, mainly the way it articulates morality and law.
In my PhD dissertation I offered a phenomenological analysis of the talmudic ethics of the self, comparing it to both philosophical and Christian discourses on the self from the same period (Les antiphilosophes: pratiques de soi et rapport à la loi dans la littérature rabbinique classique. Paris, Armand Colin, 2011).
My two current research interests are:
1. The propagation of the rabbinic way of life in the Jewish world of Late Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. I compare talmudic and midrashic sources to their Christian or non-rabbinic Jewish parallels, in order to show how the rabbis distinguish themselves, and the spiritual option or way of life they propose, from other religious/spiritual currents of the late antique world.
2. I continue to examine the philosophical implications of my analysis of the rabbinic conception of the relationship between the individual and the Law.