Category Archives: Announcements

The Talmud Blog Live- David Brodsky on “Rabbinic Literature and Its Dis-Contents”

It is our pleasure to announce an upcoming series of classes that we are presenting along with the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education in New York. On Wednesdays October 30th, November 6th, 13th and 20th Prof. David Brodsky of Brooklyn College’s Department of Judaic Studies will be teaching a class entitled “Rabbinic Literature and Its Dis-Contents:  Situating the Genres of Talmud and Midrash in Their Civilizational Context:” Continue reading

In Your Neighborhood- The Talmud Blog Live IV

It has been some time since the Talmud Blog community – at least its Eastern branch – has gotten together for a live event. So we are particularly excited to announce the fourth ‘Talmud Blog Live’ gathering, which will be held in Jerusalem at the end of June. We look forward to hosting two rising academic stars from neighboring disciplines who will participate in a conversation that introduces ‘their’ texts and methods to Talmudists. The discussion will also considers intersections between different Sasanian – and disciplinary – communities. Mark you calendars, RSVP via our facebook page, and spread the word. We look forward to seeing you!

The Talmud and its World: 
Reading the Bavli Alongside its Late Antique Neighbors
A Text-based Conversation with Iranist Yuhan Vevaina (Stanford) and Mandaic Scholar Charles Häberl (Rutgers). Facilitated by Shai Secunda (Hebrew University).

The event will take place on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 17:00 in Rabin Building 2001 on Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.  This evening is generously sponsored by the Martin Buber Society of Fellows, is geared towards Talmudists and is held in conjunction with the Hebrew University Talmud Department.

Introducing the ‘Real’ Talmud Blog: Two Events in NYC and Jerusalem

The Talmud Blog is a place – a virtual one, that is – where regular writers and guest authors gather to talk about everything and anything relating to classical rabbinic literature and its effect on Jewish culture. Ultimately, we hope that the blog serves as a kind of scholarly community – a virtual one, that is – for specialists and interested laypeople alike. But there is no doubt that virtual space can sometimes seem cold and impersonal.

For that reason we’re happy to announce two upcoming ‘real’ events that we’ll be hosting later in October on both sides of the Atlantic. Both events will feature two young and cutting-edge scholars of the Babylonian Talmud, an opportunity to socialize with the people you may know only virtually, and a chance to hear about some of The Talmud Blog’s plans. We ask you, loyal reader, to join us for an event (if you live nearby) and to spread the word to potentially interested friends and colleagues.

Join our growing list of co-sponsors for only a hundred dollars. Contributions of other sizes are, of course, also welcome. Those interested are invited to contact us at thetalmudblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • On Tuesday, October 16, at 7:15pm, Zvi Septimus will be leading a discussion on “Was Resh Lakish the Gladiator an Ascetic or a Hedonist? How the Bavli Conveys Meaning” at Drisha, 37 West 65th Street, 5th Floor, New York.
  • On Tuesday, October 23, at 8pm, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal will be leading a discussion in Hebrew on “The Babylonian Talmud and Christian literature: Resh Lakish and the Monastic Repentant Robber”. The event is being graciously hosted by the Pomrenze family at their home, 6 Crémieux Street, German Colony, Jerusalem.

PLEASE JOIN US AND RSVP either by emailing us at thetalmudblog at gmail dot com, or by signing up on the Facebook event pages (New York event page; Jerusalem event page).

Rabbinics in the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature

The international meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature will be held next week (July 22-26) in Amsterdam. As always, many sessions will be devoted to rabbinic literature; most notably this year are two multi-session units that will focus on (1) the Tanhuma midrashim and (2) on the dynamics between verse and prose in late antique Jewish and Christian texts. In addition, a session of the Judaica unit will be devoted to Midrash. So if you are heading to Amsterdam, prepare yourselves for a feast of five days of rigorous discussions of rabbinic literature in different contexts and settings. If you’re not, at least you’ll know what you’re missing! Full details concerning the sessions and the papers (including abstracts) can be found here.



The Tanhuma – Text and Story I

Gila Vachman, Hebrew University- The charachteristics of the later layer of the Tanhuma literature as demonstrated in Geniza fragments

Paul Mandel, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies- The Religious World of Midrash Tanhuma: A Comparison with early aggadic midrashic parallels

Dov Weiss, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign- Confrontational Theology in Tanhuma-Yelammedenu


Judaism in Transition: Cultural Changes of the Byzantine Era

Marc Bregman, University of North Carolina at Greensboro- From Synagogue Sermon to Literary Homily The Early Stratum of Tanhuma-Yelammedenu Literature


The Tanhuma – Text and Story II

Elisha S. Ancselovits, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem- Hukkim as Inexplicable Laws: An Ideological Innovation of the Tanhuma

Yehonatan Wormser, University of Haifa- Early and Late Layers in the Tanhuma-Yelammedenu Literature – The Linguistic Aspect

Tamas Biro, University of Amsterdam- May I circumcise myself? On rituals and “halakhically incorrect” cognition in midrashic exegesis



Dynamics between Verse and Prose: General Approaches and Case Studies

Marc Bregman, University of North Carolina at Greensboro- The Metastructure of Midrash and Piyyut

Moshe Lavee, University of Haifa- The Art of Composition: Common Aspects of Rabbinic Homilies and Qerova Poetry

Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University- Becoming Spirits: On the Functions of Angels in Piyyut and Esoteric Literature

Yehoshua Granat, The Hebrew University- Retelling the Jonah Story in Early Medieval Hebrew Prose and Verse


The Story of the Ten Martyrs between Verse and Prose – A Textual Workshop

Raanan Boustan, University of California-Los Angeles; Ophir Münz-Manor, Open University of Israel and The Talmud Blog


Tanhuma and Its Milieu

Rivka Ulmer, Bucknell University- The Yelammedenu Unit in Midrash Tanhuma and in Pesiqta Rabbati- a Text Linguistic Inquiry

Arnon Atzmon, Bar-Ilan University- The Tanhuma and the Pesikta

Amos Geula, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem- The relation between two lost Midrashic compositions: the lost Midrash Yelamdenu and Midrash wa-yehullu

Orly Amitay, University of Haifa- The Midrash of Ten Kings



Dynamics between Verse and Prose: A Comparative Outlook

Kevin Kalish, Bridgewater State University- Eve Lamenting Her Sons: Ephrem Graecus’ Re-imagining of Genesis 4

Peter Sh. Lehnardt, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev- Bound to Be Unbound: Genesis 22 in Early Jewish and Christian Liturgical Poetry

Laura S. Lieber, Duke University- “The Play’s the Thing”: Theatricality in Aramaic Piyyutim


The Reception of Tanhuma

Moshe Lavee, University of Haifa- Ten Dinars for the Talmud, a Fifth for the Tanhuma- Assessing the Cultural Value of a Literary Work

Shalem Yahalom, Bar Ilan University- The Tanhuma in a New Shell: Incorporating the Tanhuma in the Latter Midrash Rabbah Texts

Ronit Nikolsky, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen- The Tanhuma Material in Sefer Maasiot


Judaica – Midrash

Shamir Yona, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Ariel Ram Pasternak, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev- The “Better” Proverb in Rabbinic Literature

Katharina Keim, University of Manchester- The Function of the Rabbinic Attributions in the Pirke deRabbi Eliezer

Deborah A. Green, University of Oregon- Expelled from the Garden Again: Eve and Shekhinah in Genesis Rabbah

Barak S. Cohen, Bar-Ilan University- ‘Forced’ Amoraic Interpretations of Biblical Sources: A New Methodological Perspective

Aaron Koller, Yeshiva University- Redeeming the Queen: Rabbinic Readings of the Book of Esther



Dynamics between Verse and Prose: Piyyut, Midrash, and Targum

Gila Vachman, Hebrew University- From Piyyyut to Midrash: The Dedication Offerings in Midrash Chadash

Jan-Wim Wesselius, Protestantse Theologische Universiteit- The See-Saw between Poetry and Prose in the Targumim to the Poetic Books of the Bible

The Talmud Blog- Now on Facebook

A few weeks ago, we created a Facebook page for the Talmud blog. Our hope is that we can use the page in order to keep our readers up-to-date on Talmudic goings-on that might not merit blog posts. We would also like the page to serve as a forum for discussion, although we ask that you try to keep comments on ‘proper’ blog posts to the “comments” section located on the blog itself. Those who don’t have Facebook can follow what’s going on via the widget located on the blog’s right sidebar.  But if you do have Facebook (and if you haven’t done so already) why don’t you go right on over to the “like” button on the sidebar, and click! We’ll see you on the Facebook page soon!

Updates Regarding the TBBC

As announced a few weeks ago, starting February 6th we’ll be discussing Zvi Septimus’ article “Trigger Words and Simultexts: The Experience of Reading the Bavli,” in Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, ed. Wisdom of Bat Sheva: In Memory of Beth Samuels (Jersey City, NJ: Ktav, 2009). Thanks to Barry, Zvi and other friends of The Talmud Blog, we’ve been able to make a PDF of the article available here for anyone who wishes to take part in the discussion.

Our two main respondents will be Dr. Dina Stein of Haifa University and Itay Marienberg-Milikowsky, who is a PhD candidate in Ben Gurion University’s Department of Hebrew Literature. With the article now easily accessible online, we hope that you will respond as well.

Announcements Regarding The Talmud Blog Book Club (TBBC)

Talmud Blog reader Yael Fisch prepares for the TBBC

A little over a month ago we announced the first session of our “Book Club”.  While I’m sure many of our readers are just waiting for the moment to share their thoughts on Ishay Rosen-Zvi’s Demonic Desires, over here in Israel the first copies have only recently reached the desks of Talmudists.  For this, and other reasons, the discussion will not begin on December 15th as originally planned, but rather on January 2nd.

While everyone who has read the book and has what to say is encouraged to share, we have a few people in line to respond already: Eva Kiesele, from the Free and Hebrew Universities; Amit Gvaryahu, from Hebrew U. and The Talmud Blog; and Raphael Magarik, who has already reviewed the book for Jewish Ideas Daily. Other tentative respondents include Simcha Gross from Yale University and Noah Greenfield from UC Berkeley.

Shai will be MC’ing the discussion, and we’re hoping that the the author himself will respond once it finally winds down.  And of course you, dear reader, are invited to weigh in as well.

The Academy

A lot has changed since my father called me into his office at Children’s Hospital, some two decades ago, to show me something called “The World Wide Web”. The adolescent gaming nerd that I was, I pictured some kind of apocalyptic computer game about venomous spiders that harbored imperialistic designs. Actually, the truth was far more eschatological, and depending on your perspective, apocalyptic, than I could ever have imagined. The Internet has changed Everything. It is the proverbial dramatic event that casts a shadow over every utterance, every thought in its wake.

Since its inception, the Talmud Blog has endeavored to create a new kind of discourse in the field of Rabbinics, and hopefully beyond. It partially grew out of a dissatisfaction with the spaces available for scholarly communication. For some of us, the sparring articles in journals and books, the hidden footnotes, the local symposia, and the bigger conferences, are too slow and not dynamic enough. With the development and perfection of social networking tools, the future is now.

As a portal to the future, The Talmud Blog is now hosting a number of “Special Projects.” Here, we’ll be presenting new spaces for dialogue. One is The Book Club, where we will be discussing recent books.  Another project is a new kind of forum for scholarly conversation among Talmudists, called ‘The Academy‘.  It is essentially a closed ‘circle’ on Google+, where free-flowing conversation can take place among specialists. We started a pilot version (The Academy 1.0) with a dozen guinea-pig Talmudists, and it has been quite a success. We’re now opening up the Beta version. If you’re a critically trained and producing (that is, publishing) Talmudist, now is the time to participate in this cutting-edge endeavor. And we need you to make this project a success.

To get started, open a Google+ account for yourself, and fill in your areas of expertise and/or academic interest in the relevant spots in your profile. Make sure you activate the ability to receive messages.  Create a Google+ circle called ‘The Academy.’  Then, search for “Resh Metivta”  in the Google+ search bar, and add him as a friend in the academy circle. Once you do that we’ll send you an e-mail with further instructions.  We look forward to seeing you at the Academy, where you can spin your own talmudic web.

Around the Web and Around Town- November 30, 2011

Yes, we know, it’s been a while since our last around the web post.  This is mainly due to our Twitter feed, which has been covering a lot of internet based Talmudic going-ons.  If you want to stay up-to-date, make sure you regularly check the feed on the sidebar.

Princeton Tigers Logo.svgFirst, in local news, we’d like to give a big Talmud Blog welcome to the most recent addition to our staff- Sarit Kattan-Gribetz!  Sarit joins us from the Religion Department of Princeton University, where she is working towards her PhD.

Yeshiva University reference librarian Zvi Erenyl has put together a handy guide for users of his library looking to research Ancient Judaism.  Many of the links that he has compiled in the guide’s different sections (Primary Sources: Jewish, Epigraphy, Archaeology, etc.) are to fully open-access sites, and most of the rest should be accessible through any university library.  Along with Zvi’s blurbs on each resource, the site is a valuable tool for all.

As blogged by Menachem Mendel, The Schocken Institute for Jewish Studies of the Jewish Theological Seminary is now running an ebookstore.  The price is definitely right for the majority of the titles, for example: Moshe Assis’ A Concordance of Amoraic Terms, Expressions and Phrases in the Yerushalmi is selling for fifteen dollars a volume as an ebook, as opposed to the $145 for the three volume set in print.  Some books have also been out of print for sometime, such as Lieberman’s Sifre Zuta/Talmuda shel Keisarin, and the Facsimile edition of MS JTSA No. 44830 to Avodah Zarah prepared by Abramson.  It seems like they are still adding books.  Personally, I would love to be able to download Finkelstein’s facsimile of the Sifra according to Codex Assemani LXVI.  Menachem Mendel pointed out that the site doesn’t have any information on the electronic format of the books. I called Schocken up to ask them, and it turns out that the books are available in PDF.  Still, they weren’t sure about printing options, searchability, and whether one could open the files up on multiple computers.  After purchasing and downloading one of the files,  I can tell you that there is no search, but that the volumes can be opened on as many computers as you would like and can printed with no problem.

Two exhibits going on now in New York that are related to Talmudic literature should be of interest to our readers. They have both been covered heavily online over the past few months, but just in case you missed them, here they are:

1) “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” exhibit at Discovery Times Square makes the Scrolls seem much more exciting than the Shrine of the Book does.  Even better, the exhibit saves the trip to the Kotel.

2) “Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos” at the museum of New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World displays artifacts from the Yale University Art Gallery.  I managed to visit before I returned to Israel a few months ago and I highly suggest going.  While cleaning up the blog recently, we even came across the post-which-never-was:

“This is so incredible!”, sighed the pony-tailed man in the exhibition’s opening hall.  As the only other visitor there at the time, it was clear that he was talking to me, and I acknowledged the power of what was on display.  “And it’s so incredible that we’re here at the same time.  I mean, I’m an Orthodox priest, and you must be an Orthodox Jew- what better way to look at these artifacts!”.

After briefly sharing our names and points of origin- he had driven from North Carolina to see the exhibit- our conversation quickly turned to the Gospels’ Jewish context.  It turned out that my new friend the priest was a big believer in the importance of studying early Christianity’s Jewish context, and I got to telling him about the tenents of the Jerusalem School (I suggested he read Flusser and Notley’s The Sage From Galilee).  His exclamation that sparked the conversation was correct.  Seeing the map of Dura Europos and noting the proximity of the town’s synagoguehouse church, and Mithraeum, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the multiethnicity of the city’s blocks.

The exhibit’s two rooms are filled with quite an array of artifacts from Dura, displaying aspects of daily life in the city and especially, ritual life.  The collection, as has been noted on many other online forums, brings together objects from all diferent religious walks of life.  One room also is also lined with black and white photos of Yale’s 1930s digs, many of which are available on their site.

As the catalog admits, the exhibit’s goal is not “to provide a comprehensive historical overview of Dura-Europos”, but to focus on Dura “as a strategic Roman garrison-city, and the ways in which this role created a pluralistic urban society”.  The exhibit accomplishes this more modest goal exquisitely.