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Normative and Schismatic in Rabbinic Judaism

(4,018 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
To describe, analyze, and interpret normative opinion formed into coherent structures of data—native category-formations re-framed in the contemporary context of social inquiry—in Rabbinic Judaism is not easy. That is because the documents contain masses of conflicting opinions on any number of topics. So it will not suffice to find topically germane sayings. One has to establish grounds for classifying all cited data as normative, representative of a system, constituting “Judaism,”—not merely o…

Leviticus in Judaism: Scripture and Society in Leviticus

(10,521 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The book of Leviticus is mediated to Judaism by two Rabbinic readings of Scripture. The first, Sifra, ca. 300 c.e., asks about the relationship of the laws of the Mishnah and the Tosefta to the teachings of Scripture. The second, Leviticus Rabbah, ca. 450–500 c.e., forms of selected passages of Leviticus, read in light of other passages of Scripture altogether, large propositional expositions. Leviticus Rabbah, closed in the mid-fifth century, sets forth, in the thirty-seven parashiyyot or chapters into which their document is divided, thirty-seven well-crafted proposi…

Messiah in Rabbinic Judaism

(10,622 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Throughout the Oral Torah the main point of the theological eschatology—the theory of last things—registers both negatively and affirmatively. Death does not mark the end of the individual human life, nor exile the last stop in the journey of Holy Israel. Israelites will live in the age or the world to come, all Israel in the Land of Israel; and Israel will comprehend all who know the one true God. The restoration of world order that completes the demonstration of God's justice encompasses both …

Liturgy of Judaism, Content and Theology

(8,678 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Life under the law means praying—morning, noon, night, and at meals—both routinely and when something unusual happens. As a Jew in the classical tradition, one lives life constantly aware of the presence of God and always ready to praise and bless God. The way of Torah is the way of perpetual devotion to God. Here we look into the substance of that devotion: for what do pious Jews ask when they pray? For what do they thank God? We find that Judaism's liturgy of home and synagogue expresses the theology of classical Judaism. In every synagogue that addresses God in the wor…

Judaism, History of, Part III: Late Antiquity

(10,554 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In late antiquity, the Judaism of the dual Torah (“Rabbinic Judaism”) took shape. That Judaism in time became normative, the foundations for every system of Judaism, the religion, that flourished from then to now. We have evidence that, at that time, other Judaisms, besides that represented by the Rabbinic documents, also took shape, for archaeology of synagogues has produced decorations that hardly conform to the Rabbinic rules governing representational art. But only Rabbinic Judaism is fully represented in written evidence that permits us to formulate its history. Judaism Repre…

Socialism-Yiddishism, Judaism and

(7,224 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Jewish Socialism was a nineteenth and twentieth century movement that joined the social and economic ideals of Socialism to a deep commitment to the formation of a way of life and a world view for an Israel, specifically, the impoverished and working class Jews of Eastern Europe. It is comparable to a Judaism because it presented a complete picture of how one should live life, namely, as an active worker for political change and social improvement, how one should see the world, namely, as someth…

Theodicy of Judaism II: Justifying Individual Fate

(9,290 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The ultimate anomaly of a logic animated by the principle of God's rational justice comes to realization in the actualities of everyday life. That God orders the world through justice accessible to human reason confronts the everywhere acknowledged obstacle: justice prevails only now and then. Man's fate rarely accords with the fundamental principle of a just order but mostly discredits it. But if the human condition embodied in Israelites' lives one by one defies the smooth explanations that se…

Masculine and Feminine in Judaism

(7,150 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Judaism in its classical documents joins traits explicitly marked as male to those explicitly classified as female and insists upon both in the formation of models of virtue. It therefore may be classified as androgynous, exhibiting the traits of both sexes as the religion itself defines those gender-qualities. In this world holy Israel is to emulate women's virtue as the condition of the coming of the Messiah. Women's capacity for devotion, selfless faith, and loyalty defines the model of what is required of Israel for its virtue. Gender Roles and the Judaic System The sages of the nor…

Biography in Rabbinic Judaism

(12,066 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
About not a single Rabbinic sage of late antiquity, the first six centuries c.e., do we have the materials that sustain anything like a serviceable biography. 1 That is not merely because the sources do not serve for critical history in the conventional sense, but because they intend a different kind of treatment of lives of persons. Paradigmatic episodes in place of distinctive and individual biography yield the model of the life framed by the Torah: a life lived within the rules of nature, but facing outward toward sup…

Theodicy of Judaism I: The Moral Order, Reward, and Punishment

(7,422 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Theodicy means justifying God's deeds within the Torah's theology. The theodicy of Judaism is Judaism, defining as it does the generative issue of the entire theological system that animates the documents of Rabbinic Judaism from the first through the seventh centuries c.e. That issue is how one all-powerful God can be deemed just given the state of Israel, his people, in the world? 1 The parameters of the problem are readily discerned when we contrast monotheism with polytheism. Theodicy therefore presents a particular problem to monotheism. Life is seldom…

Pirqé Abot

(4,389 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Tractate Abot, conventionally dated at ca. 250 c.e., 1 forms a melancholy meditation on the human condition of the individual Israelite. Corporate Israel and its historical fate never frame the issue. The problem facing the framer of the document—provoked by the logic of monotheism—is succinctly stated: “We do not have in hand an explanation either for the prosperity of the wicked or for the suffering of the righteous” (4:15). The resolution of the paradox of palpable injustice—the prosperity of the wic…

Judaism, History of. Part V.A: Judaism in Modern Times in Europe

(10,684 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
For the history of Judaism in Europe, “modern times” begin when, from the late eighteenth century, political change removed from Christianity its power to define culture. The militant secularism of the French Revolution sought to replace Christianity with a religion of reason. When Christianity no longer governed as the sole arbiter of the social order and political life. Rabbinic Judaism as set forth in Talmudic and related writings met competition within Jewry. The Rabbinic Judaism that had taken shape in the fifth century c.e. in response to triumphant Christianity and that…

Conservative Judaism

(11,718 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
With roots in the German Judaic response to the development of Reform, then Orthodox Judaism , on the one side, and the immigrant response to the conditions of American life in the twentieth century, on the other, Conservative Judaism seeks a centrist position on the issues of tradition and change. The Historical School, a group of a nineteenth century German scholars, and Conservative Judaism, a twentieth century Judaism in America, took the middle position, each in its own…

Exodus in Judaism

(7,078 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The book of Exodus is mediated to Rabbinic Judaism by the midrashic compilation Mekhilta Attributed to R. Ishmael. That is a miscellany, not a coherent and systematic reading of the biblical book. The document, seen in the aggregate, presents a composite of three kinds of materials concerning the book of Exodus. The first is a set of ad hoc and episodic exegeses of some passages of Scripture. The second is a group of propositional and argumentative essays in exegetical form, in which theological principles are set forth and demonstrated. The third cons…

Purity and Impurity in Judaism

(10,677 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In Classical Judaism, purity ( tohorah) and uncleanness ( tum'ah) carry forward Pentateuchal commandments that the holy people, Israel, when eating, procreating, and worshiping God in the Temple, is to avoid certain sources of contamination. The principal one of these is the corpse (Num. 19). Lev. 11, further, catalogues foods that are clean and those that are unclean; Israelites eat the former, not the latter. Lev. 12 goes over the uncleanness that results from childbirth; Lev. 13–14 deal with a skin-ai…

Hebrew Language, Judaism and the

(3,326 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Hebrew, an ancient northwest Semitic language, has served as the principal language of Judaism, even after the Jews ceased to speak it as their everyday language. The Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament,” “written Torah”) of ancient Israel were mainly in Hebrew. They were translated into Greek, Aramaic, and other languages, but in the synagogue were and are declaimed in Hebrew. The great commentaries to Scripture written by the Rabbinic sages of the first six centuries C.E. all were written in Heb…

Art and Symbol in Judaism

(6,333 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Most synagogues built from the third to the seventh century c.e., both in the land of Israel and abroad, had decorated floors or walls. Some iconic symbols out of the religious life of Judaism or of Greco-Roman piety occur nearly everywhere. Other symbols, available, for example, from the repertoire of items mentioned in Scripture, or from the Greco-Roman world, never make an appearance at all. We find representations of the following symbols of Judaic origin: shofar (ram's horn, for the New Year), a lula…

Virtue in Formative Judaism

(9,611 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
For Judaism, the account of virtue begins in the Torah's picture of world order based on God's virtue, not the virtue of humanity. God's traits of justice and equity, love and compassion, form the model for those of God's creatures. Moreover, the Torah knows humanity as the children of Adam via Noah to Abraham. Accordingly, Judaism in its classical statement treats virtue as a component of a much larger doctrine that concerns the meaning of the life of humanity. The Torah tells the story of huma…

Tradition in Judaism II

(15,495 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Is Judaism a traditional religion? At stake is a long-term issue of culture, namely, the relationship, in the formation of the Judaic culture, between philosophical system and historical tradition. In its canonical documents beyond Scripture, which are the Mishnah, Talmuds, and Midrash, normative Judaism claims to present enduring traditions, a fundament of truth revealed of old—the oral component of the Torah of Sinai. Judaism appeals to literary forms and cultural media that accentuate the tra…

Zekhut

(6,754 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In classical Judaism zekhut —“the heritage of supererogatory virtue and its consequent entitlements”—stands for the empowerment, of a supernatural character, that derives from the virtue of one's ancestry or from one's own virtuous deeds, specifically, those not commanded but impelled by utter generosity of the heart, done without hope let alone prospect of recompense and without pressure of any kind. No single word in English bears the same meaning, nor is there a synonym for zekhut in the canonical writings, only the antonym, which is sin. Sin represents an act of rebellion, zekhut

Deuteronomy in Judaism

(7,877 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The book of Deuteronomy reaches Judaism through Sifre to Deuteronomy, attributed to Tannaite authors, a commentary to Deuteronomy completed ca. 300 c.e. Out of cases and examples, sages seek generalizations and governing principles. Since in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses explicitly sets forth a vision of Israel's future history, sages in Sifre to Deuteronomy examined that vision to uncover the rules that explain what happens to Israel. That issue drew attention from cases to rules, with the result that, in the book…

Halakhah: The Category-Formations

(10,559 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The Halakhah of Rabbinic Judaism as set forth in the Mishnah-Tosefta-Yerushalmi-Bavli organizes its data into generative category-formations, most of them shaped around the twin-principles of [1] the analysis of [2] a particular topic, hence, analytical-topical category-formations. Information on a given subject is shaped into the answer to one or more propositional or analytical questions of broad interest, generally transcending the subject-matter altogether. Then we should be able to account,…

Debates in Rabbinic Judaism: Amplifying the Dispute

(11,817 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Disputes in the halakhic documents—statement of a topic + Rabbi X says… Rabbi Y says—occasionally are augmented by debates. These are formal and balanced exchanges of not only opinion but reason and argument. While introduced only sparingly, the debate is always integral to the dispute to which it is attached, and invariably yields a deeper understanding of the issues of the dispute. Among ancient Judaic religious systems and their writings, the Rabbinic one not only is unique in articulating and systematically recording disputes within its normative docum…

Torah in Judaism, the Classical Statement

(7,802 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Torah means “teaching,” and in Scripture refers to the teaching that God revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai. The most familiar meaning of the word is the five books of Moses or Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). “The Torah” may also refer to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures (called by Christianity, “the Old Testament”). Since at Sinai, Judaism maintains, God revealed the Torah to Moses in two media, written and oral, with the written part corr…

Talmud of Babylonia in Historical Perspective

(12,766 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The Talmud of Babylonia is one of the great, classical writings of human civilization—enduring, influential, nourishing. It claims its place among the most successful pieces of writing in the history of humanity, along with the Bible, Plato's Republic, Aristotle's oeuvre, the Quran, and a very few other writings. What those books have in common is the power to demand attention and compel response for many centuries after their original presentation. The Quran, for example, is received by Muslims as God's word, as is the Bible by Chri…

Torah and Culture

(7,709 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Does culture express or defy the religious imperative? Do the patterns of the social order realize the divine plan, or do they represent that from which religion must separate itself, upon which religion stands in judgment? This inquiry pertains in particular to religions engaged in constructing norms for the social order of the faithful. The matter, then, concerns the relationship between the generative symbol of a religion and the ambient culture tha…

Reform Judaism

(9,921 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Reform Judaism, also known as Liberal or Progressive Judaism, sets forth a Judaic religious system that takes as its critical task the accommodation of Judaism to political changes in the status of the Jews from the late eighteenth century onward (fig. 132). These changes, particularly in Western Europe and the USA, accorded to Jews the status of citizens like other citizens of the nations in which they lived. But they denied the Jews the status of a separate, holy people, living under its own l…

Midrash and the Oral Torah: What Did the Rabbinic Sages Mean by “the Oral Torah”?

(6,030 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Rabbinic Judaism classifies its canonical writings as parts of “the Oral Torah” revealed by God to Moses at Sinai and transmitted from then to late antiquity in a process of tradition from master to disciple. Part of that process of tradition is held to involve a work of exegesis of Scripture in light of oral tradition. A precise understanding of Midrash in the context of formative Judaism therefore requires attention to the relationship of the Torah-myth involving the dual Torah, written and or…

Politics, Judaism and, I: The Normative Statement in Scripture and the Talmud

(5,068 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The political theory of Judaism emerges in the Hebrew Scriptures of ancient Israel as these writings are interpreted by the rabbis of the first six centuries c.e. in the Talmud of Babylonia and related documents. The Pentateuch portrays Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy people” and further takes for granted that this “kingdom” or “people” forms a political entity, exercising legitimate violence. Scripture therefore understands Israel not merely as a church or a voluntary community but an empowered society, with …

Rabbinic Judaism, Social Teaching of

(4,934 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Israel forms God's kingdom on earth. Israelites in reciting the Shema (“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One”) accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and the yoke of the commandments, twice daily. That liturgical premise comes to realization throughout diverse halakhic formations. The basic theological conception concerning the kingdom of heaven is familiar and common to a number of Judaic religious systems, not only the Rabbinic. But for Rabbinic Judaism to be “Israel” means to li…

Individual and Community in Judaism

(10,664 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Prophecy, from Moses forward, and the Halakhah from the Mishnah onward, concur that the condition of “all Israel” dictates the standing of each individual within Israel, and further concur that each Israelite bears responsibility for what he or she as a matter of deliberation and intention chooses to do. If individuals were conceived as automatons, always subordinated agencies of the community, or if the community were contemplated as merely the sum total of individual participants, a particular…

Theodicy in Classical Judaism

(6,606 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The term theodicy refers to a justification of the ways of God, the proof that—despite what might appear to be the case—God's justice governs the world order. The need for such a proof comes about by reason of the character of monotheism . For, while a religion of numerous gods finds many solutions to one problem, a religion of only one God presents one to many. Life is seldom fair. Rules rarely work. To explain the reason why, polytheisms adduce multip…

Work in Formative Judaism

(10,512 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The sages see Israel as a sacred society, “a kingdom of priests and a holy people,” and, within that context, quite logically, they view work not as a mere secular necessity but as a sacred activity. Thus they situate their definition of work within their larger statement of what it means to form holy Israel, God's first love on earth. Work is not merely something we are supposed to do in the interests of the community, so that the tasks of the world will be carried out and each of us will earn a living. Of greatest importance is that the Hebrew word for “work” is abodah, the same word used for “div…

Rabbinic Judaism, Formative Canon of, III: The Aggadic Documents. Mid-rash: The Earlier Compilations

(10,945 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
We consider the documents that are generally considered to belong to the first period in the collection and preservation of exegeses of Scripture. These cover Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. (Important scholarly opinion assigns the compilation on Exodus to a much later period.) Mekhilta Attributed to R. Ishmael (Exodus) Mekhilta Attributed to R. Ishmael seen in the aggregate presents a composite of three kinds of materials concerning the book of Exodus. The first is a set of ad hoc and episodic exegeses of some passages of Scripture. The second is a group of …

Sanctification in Rabbinic Judaism

(8,895 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Since Judaism sets forth in its classical statement a regimen intended to sanctify its faithful to form a “kingdom of priests and a holy people,” and since that discipline encompasses matters of what goes into the mouth, not only what comes out, Judaism has to explain the way in which sanctification entails ethics, not only ritual. Because Israelites are commanded to strive to be holy, meaning, separate and pure, people imagine they are encouraged to feel superior to others. That is because peop…

Yavneh

(12,785 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Yavneh refers to a place and a period and a circumstance. The legacy of the place proves modest, of the period lavish, and of the circumstance, enduring. The place is an inland settlement off the southern coast of the Land of Israel. It acquired importance in the history of Judaism in the First Rebellion against Rome, when, after the destruction of Jerusalem in August, 70 c.e., surviving Rabbinic sages established there the administrative court that exercised such authority as the Romans had left in Jewish hands. The legacy of the place secured continuity for…

Judaism, Definition of

(7,114 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
A Judaism is a religion that [1] for its way of life privileges the Pentateuch and finds in the Five Books of Moses the main rules defining the holy way of life, [2] for its social entity identifies the group that embodies faith as the Israel of which the Hebrew Scriptures speak, and [3] for its world view recapitulates the experience of exile and return that the Pentateuch sets forth. Deriving from God's revelation to Moses at Sinai, Judaism is a monotheistic religion, as are Islam and Christianity, which affirm that same revelation (to Christians, it is the Old …

Aggadah in the Halakhah

(9,066 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Aggadic discourse comments on a received text, tells a story, or advocates an attitude or a proposition of normative conviction and conscience. Halakhic discourse expounds and analyzes a topic of normative conduct. How does narrative or theological discourse participate in the presentation of the halakhic norms of conduct? The two modes of discourse, Aggadah and Halakhah, are quite different from one another. Each organizes its presentation in large building blocks or category-formations, and th…

Orthodox Judaism

(10,386 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Many people reasonably identify all “traditional” or “observant” Judaism with Orthodoxy, and they furthermore take for granted that all traditional Judaisms are pretty much the same. But a wide variety of Judaisms affirm the Torah, oral and written, and abide by its laws, as interpreted by their particular masters, who differ from one another on many important points. Thus, rather than simply signifying “observant” Judaism in general, the designation “Orthodox” refers to a very particular Judaic…

Genesis in Judaism

(9,933 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Classical Judaism reads the book of Genesis through the interpretative construction set forth in Genesis Rabbah, a systematic, verse-by-verse, analysis of the book of Genesis produced in the Land of Israel at ca. 450 c.e. Genesis Rabbah transforms the book of Genesis from a genealogy and family history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, then Joseph, into a book of the laws of history and rules of the salvation of Israel: the deeds of the founders become omens and signs for the final generations. In Genesis Rabbah the entire narrative of Genesis is so formed as to point toward the sacr…

Rabbinic Judaism, Formative Canon of, I: Defining the Canon

(4,666 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The Judaism of the dual Torah, which took shape in the first seven centuries c.e., rests upon its adherents conception of Torah, meaning revelation. The literature produced by the rabbis is understood to form a part of that Torah, and this literature therefore is highly valued. Because it is part of the Torah, that is, in its Judaism, Rabbinic literature is important. In the Torah God reveals (“gives”) God's self-manifestation in one aspect: God's will, expressed in particular in an account of the covenant b…

Leviticus in Judaism: Scripture and Halakhah in Leviticus

(10,563 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The book of Leviticus is mediated to Judaism by two Rabbinic readings of Scripture. The first, Sifra, ca. 300 c.e., asks about the relationship of the laws of the Mishnah and the Tosefta to the teachings of Scripture. The second, Leviticus Rabbah, ca. 450–500 c.e., forms of selected passages of Leviticus, read in light of other passages of Scripture altogether, large propositional expositions. Here we consider only the relationship of Scripture and Halakhah in Leviticus. Sifra, a compilation of Midrash-exegeses on the book of Leviticus, forms a massive and systematic s…

Tolerance in Classical Judaism

(10,276 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The entire issue of toleration is captured by a dispute that concerns eschatological tolerance of gentiles, defined as idolaters, as against Israelites, meaning those who know God: Does the gentile at the end of days rise from the grave, stand in judgment, and gain a portion in the world to come, as do nearly all Israelites? The matter is subject to debate (T. San. 13:2): A. R. Eleazar says, “None of the gentiles has a portion in the world to come, as it is said, ‘'The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the gentiles who forget God’ (Ps. 9:17). The wicked shall …

Astral Israel

(8,126 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In the systematic theology of Rabbinic Judaism, the stars do not govern Israel, only God does. Challenging astrology placed sages in opposition to the science of their day, which took for granted that the positions of the stars dictated events on earth. Sages could not dismiss such established science, any more than their contemporary continuators can plausibly reject the laws of gravity or Copernican astronomy. But sages took up a distinctive position on astrology, one consistent with their the…

Emotions, Doctrine of, in Judaism

(6,866 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Rabbinic Judaism specifies the emotions and attitudes the faithful are to cultivate, favoring humility and the attitudes of conciliation and accommodation, not aggression. Israelite virtue was so formulated as to match Israel's political circumstance, which, from the first century, was one of defeat, alienation, and exile. Sages' Judaism for a defeated people prepared the nation for a long future. The vanquished people, the brokenhearted nation that had lost its city and its Temple, that had, mo…

History, The Conception of in Classical Judaism

(18,233 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Rabbinic Judaism reached its full statement in the first six centuries of the Common Era, an age in which the people, Israel, confronted enormous historical crises. The first took place in 70 c.e., when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, and the political foundations of Israel's life changed. The second was marked by the defeat of Bar Kokhba, who led a war aimed at regaining Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple, in 132–135 c.e. As a result the established paradigm, destruction, repentance, restoration, that Scripture set forth, lost purchase. The third crisis con…

Halakhah, Religious Meaning of

(11,090 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The normative law, or Halakhah, of the Oral Torah defines the principal medium by which the sages set forth their message. Norms of conduct, more than norms of conviction, convey the sages' statement. And from the closure of the Talmud of Babylonia to our own day, those who mastered the documents of the Oral Torah themselves insisted upon the priority of the Halakhah, which is clearly signaled as normative, over the Aggadah, which commonly is not treated as normative in the same way as the Halakhah. The aggadic statement addresses the exteriorities, the halakhic one, the interior…

Family in Formative Judaism

(11,244 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In the view of Rabbinic Judaism, husbands and wives owe one another loyalty to the common task and reliability in the carrying out of their reciprocal obligations, which are sexual, social, and economic. Their relationship finds its definition, therefore its rules and obligations, in the tasks the social order assigns to marriage: child-bearing and child-raising, on the one side, and the maintenance of the political economy of the holy people, Israel, on the other. The purpose of marriage is to …

Disputes on Law in Rabbinic Judaism

(9,228 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In the Halakhic documents, the Mishnah, Tosefta, Yerushalmi, and Bavli, Rabbinic sages ubiquitously record disagreements on matters of law. But disputes reinforce the unity of the law at its fundamental levels. Conflicts between authorities underscore the prevailing consensus about fundamental truth. Indicators of concurrence in deep structures of thought abound even—or especially—in the context of disputes, properly situated in perspective and proportion. Conflict concerns detail, consensus, go…

Mishnah, Analogical-Contrastive Reasoning in

(10,501 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The paramount mode of reasoning in the halakhic process, represented by the Mishnah, can be referred to as “analogical-contrastive.” The logic may be expressed very simply. All persons, things, or actions that fall within a single species of a given genus in a uniform system of classification follow a single rule. All persons, things, or actions that fall within a different species of that same given genus in a uniform system of classification follow precisely the opposite rule. Stated in gross …
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