Category Archives: Difficult Texts

Difficult Texts

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April 1, 2001

Bonna Devora Haberman How do we study difficult Jewish texts without apologizing for, justifying, or historicizing them? At Mistabra: The Israel-Diaspora Institute for Jewish Textual Activism in Boston and Jerusalem, we are not working with texts that make us feel good. While we are proud and motivated by congenial Jewish texts that mandate us to More »

Working With the Words of Torah

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April 1, 2001

Jane Rachel Litman The background sound in the small library is muted but intense. Pairs of scholars lean over their talmudic texts whispering energetically, trying to puzzle out the meaning of the particular sugya, passage. The teacher directs them back toward the group and asks for questions. One student raises a hand: “I don’t understand More »

Teaching Troubling Texts

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April 1, 2001

Aryeh Cohen I teach a third-year course at the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism called “Aggadah and Halakhah.” The course explores – in both a general way and through specific midrashic and talmudic texts – the relationship between the genres of rabbinic literature that are traditionally known as aggadah and More »

Wrestling with Words

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April 1, 2001

Or Rose I want to thank Dr. Aryeh Cohen for sharing his experiences and for providing a creative herme-neutic model that responds to troubling religious texts with both an intellectual honesty and an ethical sensitivity. As a graduate student in Jewish thought, I wrestle daily with disturbing Jewish sources – sources that I view as More »

Cultivating a Multivocal Rabbinic Tradition

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April 1, 2001

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert For the past four years I have taught rabbinic literature, primarily Talmud, at a small rab-binical seminary, the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. Last fall I accepted a position in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. Here, my students are mostly undergraduates, and texts are taught primarily in translation, More »

Shattering Innocence: Disturbing Texts and Children

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April 1, 2001

Deeana Copeland Klepper By the Waters of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion … If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither; let my tongue stick to my palate if I cease to think of you, if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at More »

Teaching Flaw and Holiness

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April 1, 2001

Carol K. Ingall Deeana Klepper’s incisive remarks speak to all of us in teaching roles. What are our choices when confronted by a troubling text? We can excise it like the venerable Y. C. Pollack Chumashenu. (So many of my generation spent Shabbat at shul hunched over the Hertz Chumash wondering why the story of More »