SPARK 2021 – Prof. Charlotte Fonrobert: Talmud
Tauber SPARK 2021
Talmud: Explore Big Jewish Questions of the Past, Present and Future
Taught by Professor Charlotte Fonrobert of Standford University
Session 1: Whatever happened to God?
The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the Beginning of Talmudic Literature
We shall look at the repercussions of the Roman-Jewish war 66-70CE culminating in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (Beit ha-Mikdash) by the Romans. Its destruction signified the end of the sacrificial service and the priesthood, and thereby the end of biblical religion. Theologically, the Jerusalem Temple signified God’s presence amongst God’s people, so its destruction (hurban) also constituted a profound theological crisis. We shall look at the beginnings of Talmudic literature and the ingeniously creative ways, by which the sages of the Talmud (hakhamim) bridged a potentially catastrophic loss of cultural and religious tradition.
Session 2: My Home is My Castle and Fortress?
Talmudic Religion as Household Religion
In the second we shall deal with the Talmudic focus on the domestic world as primary stage of Jewish life. From early on Talmudic texts made marriage and the establishment of a household not only a religious duty (mitzvah), but also a sanctuary of in its own right. We will explore the gender roles and their contestation, as well as in the Talmudic world beyond the home.
Session 3: Talmudic Futures and the Future of the Talmud
In our third and last class we ask what kind of future(s) Talmudic texts envisioned and were committed to. The urgent question of our time about the future of our planet and human life on it is one that concerned the sages of the Talmud, obviously in different ways. However, their commitment to a human future raises surprisingly relevant ethical question.
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert is the Director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, and a professor of talmudic literature and culture in the Department of Religious Studies. Among many other academic writings, she has published The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (2007). In the past she has taught at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, and currently guest – teaches in the School of Jewish Theology in Potsdam/ Germany. Prof. Fonrobert is originally from Germany, where she met Rabbi Joseph Asher (z''l) when in college.
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