A conference division group – any AJS member can join to discuss rabbinic literature and culture.
The paper argues that the pesaḥ is a ritual with no origins in the literature we have, from the earliest recoverable fragment, through the first revision that introduces as many problems as it aims to solve, to subsequent extensions in multiple directions, with no arc, no trajectory, no telos, but recurrent hermeneutic expressive engagement.
ABSTRACT: How to understand the processes, by which bodies ingest, gestate, generate, excrete, and expel various kinds of substances? This paper treats these questions as sorted through in rabbinic texts. The ways in which we think about how material bodies come into being, and the ways in which we distinguish and explain the emergence, entry, and…[Read more]
Literary and historical analysis of the passage at Num 9:1–14
“God made Himself into a Serpent before Moses”
A Unique Midrashic Tradition on Exodus Chapters III-IV (Parashat Va-Era)
from an Early Tanhuma-Yelammedenu Genizah Fragment
Rachel Neis’ article treats Hekhalot Rabbati, a collection of early Jewish mystical traditions, and more specifically §§ 152–169, a series of Qedusha hymns. These hymns are liturgical performances, the highlight of which is God’s passionate embrace of the Jacob icon on his throne as triggered by Israel’s utterance of the Qedusha. §§ 152–1…[Read more]
In the rabbinic worldview, man goes through life surrounded by temptation. The world is a place where temptation lurks on every street corner, at every table, and at every moment. For the rabbis, Torah – both Written and Oral – is the solution to controlling the yeẓer (יצר), the inclination to act on one’s desires. The ability to control on…[Read more]
In this essay, I attempt to inscribe the mysterious location known as “the cities of the sea” (כרכי הים) onto the map of rabbinic scholarship. Classical rabbinic authors look toward this mythic locale for three reasons: (1) to discuss tales of sin (and sometimes salvation); (2) to offer definitions and clarifications of obscure words; and (3) to…[Read more]
Josephus attests several times to a Jewish aversion to the use of Gentile olive oil. In m. ‘Abod. Zar. 2:6, this practice is first advocated and then immediately reversed by Rabbi and his court. What is the rationale for this sudden leniency with regard to Gentile olive oil? In a well-known article entitled “Kosher Olive Oil in Antiquity,” Marti…[Read more]
Jordan Rosenblum deposited From Their Bread to Their Bed: Commensality, Intermarriage, and Idolatry in Tannaitic Literature in the group Rabbinic Literature and Culture on AJS Commons 1 year, 9 months ago
In the tannaitic corpus, a novel innovation appears: sharing bread is understood to lead to sharing a bed. As such, the Tannaim problematise and marginalise commensal interactions between Jews and non-Jews. In several instances, commensality with non-Jews is equated with idolatry, the binary opposite of Jewishness in rabbinic literature. While…[Read more]