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State of the Jews 
Women: A Nation of Their Own
Aggadic literature is one of the central places that defines Jewish gender identity. Reading these texts through a gender-related lens enables us to understand the image of the woman that the Sages instilled in Jewish culture. Dr. Inbar Raveh writes about feminist research into rabbinic literature and about the balance between a critical reading of the texts and an appreciation of their charm. read more>
Judaism and the New Age
13.06.2011, by Reflections
Two small communities trying to create a ‘New Age’ type of Jewish setting were established in Israel at the beginning of the decade. They incorporated meditation into prayer and integrated bodily experiences into religious ritual. A study by Rachel Werczberger demonstrates how these communities symbolize Judaism as a flexible cultural resource, serving many Israelis in their formation of a personal and collective identity read more>
A New Discourse on Sexuality
10.11.2010, by Reflections 11
Question and answer sites on the Internet have become the first public spaces where religious Zionist rabbis are asked questions regarding the body and sexuality. Research by Professor Avi Sagi and Yakir Englander reveals that in their responses, the rabbis often choose an approach that is fundamentalist and isolationist, increasingly reminiscent of the ultra-Orthodox world read more>
The Large Reading (“Kriya Gdola”)
10.10.2010, by Reflections 10
In contrast to the conventional argument that a clear method cannot be identified for the compilation of the Mishnah tractates, Dr. Yair Eldan sees these as complete stories dealing with great dilemmas of that period. Among other things the ‘large reading’ that Dr. Eldan suggests teaches us that tractate Sotah actually revolves around Messianism and that tractate Ta’anit is an attempt to cope with the silence of God read more>
The Secrets of ‘Guide to the Perplexed’
29.07.2010, by
In the introduction to the most important book in Jewish philosophy, the Rambam asks the reader to swear not to share its secrets with others. In this way, the Rambam hoped that his philosophy would not be taught by intermediaries. However, since this work was published, his students and interpreters have continually violated his instructions. Dr. Micah Goodman, who is currently completing the first book in Hebrew that is completely dedicated to the Guide to the Perplexed, explains why he also chose to reveal its secrets read more>
The First Religious War
In contrast to the conventional wisdom, which views religious pluralism as a modern phenomenon, Professor Israel Knohl posits that in fact religious pluralism was widespread in ancient Israel and only disappeared during the period of Moses. “The first manifestation of this change appeared during the war over the Golden Calf,” says Knohl. “This was in essence the first religious war in human history” read more>
Minim, Minot and the Great Crisis in Jewish Identity
The Roman occupation and the failure of the Bar Kochba rebellion elicited a collective disappointment in God and might have led to the abandonment of Judaism and even separation from the community. The Sages dealt with the phenomenon through the discourse on "minut." In a new research study, Professor Adiel Schremer surveys the sources in which the terms “minut” and “minim” are mentioned and rejects the conventional wisdom that they were meant to describe Christianity and heresy against Judaism read more>
On the Appropriate Place of Rabbis
There is no dispute that the disclosure of the complaints against Rabbi Mordechai Elon of sexual molestation through exploitation of spiritual authority provoked deep shock in the National Religious community. The allegations at the base of the matter, the circumstances that made them possible, how the issue was handled, the responses in the National Religious community, and the intense and sweeping upheaval caused by all these, raise a series of questions regarding the processes taking place in the National Religious community and regarding the impact of these processes on the lives of all Israelis. The most prominent and important of these is the ascent of the status of rabbis. Dr. Ariel Picard, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi and Dror Yinon offer some points for consideration read more>
The Evil Inclination: A Chapter in Talmudic Anthropology
It is the conventional wisdom that the Sages viewed the evil inclination as an expression of sexual lust. A new study by Dr. Ishay Rosen-Zvi questions this conclusion and shows that outside of the Babylonian Talmud the evil inclination has no sexual connotation. Thus, in the Land of Israel midrashic literature the evil inclination is described as an evil and sophisticated entity whose sole interest is to trip up human beings. Rosen-Zvi thus disproves the widespread view among researchers that the Sages’ discussion of the evil inclination is part of the Hellenistic discourse on self-control and curbing desires. His research in fact points to the ancient Jewish view of demonology as the source for the Sages’ approach to the evil inclination and thus uncovers a unique solution that they found to the question of what is the source of sin and whether doing evil is subject to the free will of man. read more>
The Talmudic Comedy: Romance, Masks and Traditional Texts
19.01.2010, by
The oldest known Hebrew play is a romantic comedy full of sexual innuendo, which makes use of quotes and references from classic Jewish texts as raw comic and dramatic material. Yair Lipshitz researched the play and found that it allowed its audience, Italian Jewry in the 16th century, to view the ancient texts in a new way, which in all likelihood was not possible within the synagogue or the Beit Midrash. read more>

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