Women of all cultures praying at the Western Wall. Meaghan O'Neill / flickr 2.0

Memorializing the Temple through the Maternal Practice of ‘Arakhin

In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem, rabbinic literature’s presentation of mothers donating their children’s weight in gold to the Temple – following the rabbinic interpretation of ‘Arakhin – comes to exemplify both piety and tragedy. Continue reading Memorializing the Temple through the Maternal Practice of ‘Arakhin

Purim: A Day Beyond Full Rabbinic Control 

Dr. Barry Wimpfheimer

Excessive drinking on Purim is recommended by the amora Rabbah, in a rare Aramaic ruling that is followed by a strange account of a drunk Rabbah slaughtering his colleague, R. Zeira, at a Purim feast. What are we to make of this shocking law and story, and what do can they teach us about the unique, carnivalesque quality of Purim?

Continue reading Purim: A Day Beyond Full Rabbinic Control 

Incantation bowl with an Aramaic inscription around a demon. From Nippur, Mesopotamia 6th–7th ce. Photographer Marie-Lan Nguyen

Naming Demons: The Aramaic Incantation Bowls and Gittin

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