Talmudic Sages Confront the World

Beyond the Walls of the Rabbinic Academy


How did Talmudic sages interact with popular beliefs and behavior that frequently transcended the strictly defined worldview of the Beit Midrash? 
Prof. Isaiah Gafni, The Sol Rosenbloom Professor Emeritus of Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


1.  Sages and the Supernatural:  On Magic, Demons and Astrology in Rabbinic Thought and Practice 
The practice of magic would appear to circumvent the proper channel of righteous behavior – yet the belief in the potency of some of these practices appears to have found its way into rabbinic circles. 
Wednesday I October 14th I 8pm 


2. Indiana Jones and the Sages:  Were the Talmudic Rabbis also Archaeologists?
Like archaeologists, the sages appear to be involved in the search for ancient artifacts and sites. Did this render them "archaeologists" and what were the other interests that motivated them to undertake such pursuits?
Wednesday I October 21st I 8pm 


3. Rabbinic Attitudes towards Sex, Sexuality and Marriage
Rabbinic sages appear to evince a broad range of attitudes on proper sexual behavior as well as variant approaches to the role of marriage (or celibacy). Was this attitude due to the personal proclivities of specific sages – or might the cultural and behavioral norms of the Roman and Iranian worlds influence the contexts for rabbinic positions?   
Wednesday I October 28th I 8pm 


4. Rabbinic Attitudes and Interaction with Christianity
Were the sages conversant with the emerging theological and social ideas embraced by the Church in its formative stages, and how did they choose to address this phenomenon? 
Wednesday I November 4th I 8pm


The program will take place in English. Entrance is free,
subject to availability. Tickets may be reserved three days in advance at
the BEIT AVI CHAI box office.


* Each session is based on sources that are
to be read and analyzed

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