In late Second Temple times, a person would take an oath by verbally invoking the Torah. Over time, with the emergence of the Torah as a sacred object for Jews and Christians alike, Torah scrolls began to be used in court-administered oaths.
Dr. Moshe Blidstein Continue reading Taking an Oath While Holding a Torah Scroll
M. Sanhedrin 10:1 is considered to be the most important statement of rabbinic heresiology in tannaitic literature. However, a close examination of this text’s development suggests that it is not a straightforward expression of c. 200 C.E. rabbinic doctrine at all, but a reworked tradition from an earlier sectarian milieu.
Dr. David M. Grossberg Continue reading Is there a Doctrine of Heresy in Rabbinic Literature?
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
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.
Dr. Jason Mokhtarian Continue reading Concluding a Tractate with King Shapur’s Praise and Practice 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!
Examining the Talmud’s commitment to earlier rabbinic sources by exploring a b. Bava Kamma sugya about what constitutes change in stolen objects.
Dr. Ariel Furstenberg Continue reading A Philosophical Exploration of Shinuy: What Constitutes Change?
Dr. Yoni Pomeranz
|Abstract: The rabbinic laws of personal injury differ markedly from those in the Torah. They are, however, substantially similar to the laws of personal injury that guided Roman courts in Palestine in the second century CE. Reading perek ha-ḥovel (m. Bava Kamma 8) alongside Roman law codes reveals the influence that Roman law had on rabbinic law. Roman models were responsible for the rabbinic rejection of a strict “eye for an eye” law, the calculation of נזק by valuing the victim as a slave, and the idea that an assailant could be liable for payments for בושת.
Continue reading Rabbinic Battery Law in Light of Roman Rule
Dr. Shana Strauch-Schick
|Abstract: Tractate Bava Kamma deals primarily with tort law – the area of law that determines liability and fault for damages caused to the person or property of others. The Mishnah and the Talmudim present a seemingly bewildering variety of perspectives in terms of how to make such determinations. Nevertheless, it is still possible to trace a chronological development of how the tannaim and amoraim dealt with these issues. This evolution conforms to theoretical models described by contemporary legalists and may fit its Sasanian context.
Continue reading Bava Kamma: Between Strict Liability and Negligence
Dr. Shai Secunda
The end of the first chapter of b. Megillah preserves the only complete Babylonian midrash on an entire biblical book. Continue reading Why and How a Complete Midrash on Esther was Preserved in the Babylonian Talmud
The historical context within which to read the Talmudic discussions of kiddushin.
Prof. Michael Satlow Continue reading A Detached Kiddushin
What the unique corpus of magical texts inscribed on bowls can teach us about the diffusion of the rabbinic laws of divorce in late antique Babylonia.
Avigail Manekin Bamberger Continue reading Naming Demons: The Aramaic Incantation Bowls and Gittin
A Talmudic story (b. Sanhderin 19a-b) explores the separation of sovereign and judicial powers and the escalation that results when a judge seeks to exert his own authority Continue reading The Story of Shimon B. Shetah’s Attempt to Judge King Yannai
Justice beyond the Boundaries of Human Jurisdiction
Dr. Rabbi Avraham Walfish Continue reading The Measure of Tractate Sotah
The Mishnah’s rewrite of the Biblical ritual
Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi Continue reading The Sotah Spectacle