Talmudic manuscripts reveal the existence of a forgotten, fifth cup of wine at the Passover Seder.
Dr. Menachem Katz Continue reading Five Cups of Wine at the Seder?
The accumulation of liturgical layers, songs, and discussion that adorn the traditional Seder can obscure its original, primary purpose. By closely analyzing the Seder’s artful oration in light of classical rhetoric, a sharper picture emerges of a Roman symposium-like gathering whose aim is to help its members appreciate and celebrate the freedom God granted through the Exodus.1
Dr. Rabbi Richard Hidary
- This article is a reworked excerpt from Richard Hidary, Rabbis and Classical Rhetoric: Sophistic Education and Oratory in the Talmud and Midrash (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 68-73. ↩
Tracing the meaning and motifs of Rosh Hodesh (the new moon festival) from the biblical through the talmudic periods reveals a day of two different meanings.
Prof. Michael L. Satlow Continue reading What Does Rosh Hodesh Celebrate?
The Iranian Origins of a Talmudic Midrash
Dr. Shana Strauch Schick Continue reading When Moses Was Born the House Was Filled with Light
The relative absence of Chanukah from rabbinic literature has been seen by many scholars as evidence that late antique Jews were ambivalent about the holiday and its Hasmonean founders. However, the highly suggestive evidence of piyyut (liturgical poetry), which extensively and creatively thematizes Chanukah and the Hasmoneans, suggests that this apparent ambivalence was not shared across late antique Jewish society.
Prof. Ophir Münz-Manor Continue reading In Praise of the Hasmoneans: Chanukah Beyond Rabbinic Literature
A Talmudic reading of a Hassidic tale—and vice versa. Continue reading The Baal Shem Tov and the Boy who Played Flute on Yom Kippur
A talmudic discussion about why God no longer makes miracles ends with a surprising comedy of errors. What message is the Talmud trying to convey? And how is this story used in a 20th century halakhic responsum about women’s pants? Continue reading From Theology to Comedy: The Story of R. Adda bar Ahavah and Matun
“Tzedakah” in the sense of communal charity, civic benefaction, and an individual form of giving came into being during the tannaitic period, with the help of the Greeks and a little-known king named Munbaz.
Prof. Gregg E. Gardner Continue reading How Tzedakah Became Charity
In their discussion of King Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple, Talmudic storytellers emphasize themes of sight, blindness, and illegitimate rule. They also make a surprising suggestion about who really should get credit for this renovation.
Prof. Jeffrey L. Rubenstein Continue reading Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version
Prof. Jeffrey L. Rubenstein Continue reading Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – Uncovering the Talmud’s Persian Influences
A short history of how the Mah Nishtana changed: From three to four to five questions
Prof. Joseph Tabory Continue reading How Many Questions in the “Four Questions”?
A striking talmudic passage asserts that it is biblically permitted to eat the ḥametz of a non-Jew on Passover. How are we to explain this strange claim? What might this development teach us about the dynamics of rabbinic texts? Continue reading Hametz Owned by a Non-Jew May be Eaten on Passover?!
The Bavli’s editors noted the conclusion of some tractates with an edifying message. For tractates Bava Metzia and Avodah Zarah, they placed stories about Sasanian king Shapur I. In this way, they connected their rabbinic milieu to the Sasanian world in which they operated, and imagined Sasanian authority and approval of rabbinic law.
A New Approach to the Story of Abaye, Rava and the Dream Interpreter Bar Hedya (b. Berakhot 55b-56a). Continue reading “All Dreams Follow the Interpretation” – Even for the Rabbis!
The Ancient Fire that Fueled the Chanukah Story
A Feminist Reading
Dr. Marjorie Lehman Continue reading Kimchit’s Head Covering: Between Rabbis and Priests
Echoing the Iranian story of Yima, the biblical Enoch morphed into the theologically problematic angel Metatron, and ends up being flogged.
Dr. Yishai Kiel Continue reading Enoch’s Walk with God Ends Badly in Babylonia
During the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur two concluding blessing formulas are switched to refer to God as a judge What is the meaning of this change? What can talmudic manuscripts teach us about this liturgical practice?
How the Mishnah’s version of a tannaitic homily advances a more active human role in divine deliverance. Continue reading Directing the Heart to God: Moses’ Hands, Brass Serpents, and the Shofar