Rabbinic Stories / Edition 1

Rabbinic Stories / Edition 1

by Jeffrey L. Rubenstein

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ISBN-10: 0809140241

ISBN-13: 9780809140244

Pub. Date: 02/28/2003

Publisher: Paulist Press

An appealing contribution to the Classics of Western Spirituality, Jeffrey Rubenstein has translated stories from the main works of classical rabbinic literature that were produced by Jewish sages between 200-600 C.E. The narratives include stories, legends, anecdotes and other traditions that relate to basic rabbinic values and practical concerns
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  • Overview

    An appealing contribution to the Classics of Western Spirituality, Jeffrey Rubenstein has translated stories from the main works of classical rabbinic literature that were produced by Jewish sages between 200-600 C.E. The narratives include stories, legends, anecdotes and other traditions that relate to basic rabbinic values and practical concerns

  • charity, good deeds, marriage and children; and those that address important theological question, including suffering, theodicy, atonement and story of Torah.

    Each story is accompanied by a brief analysis of the story's principal themes, meaning and literary character, while accompanying notes explain technical terms and references. In addition, to underscore the oral nature of the stories, the author offers translations of several versions of the same story, showing how later versions are more embellished and elaborate. The book treats the rabbinic stories not as accurate history, but as didactic fictions that model character, teach virtue and provide lessons.

    There is no standard corpus of rabbinic stories available, says Rubenstein, and therefore this volume is a unique resource for courses on Judaism and rabbinic culture, comparative religions and religious narrative. Anyone interested in Jewish culture, early Christianity, folklore and Late Antique culture will find it to be fascinating reading as well.

    About the Author:
    Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, who holds a Ph.D. from the department of religion, Columbia University, is associate professor in the department of Hebrew and Judaic studies, New York University. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and two other books.

  • Product Details

    Paulist Press
    Publication date:
    Classics of Western Spirituality Series
    Product dimensions:
    6.16(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.91(d)

    Table of Contents

    Part IHistorical Memories and the Lessons of History
    Chapter 1.Hasmonean Memories25
    A.The Festival of Hanukka (Bavli Shabbat 21a)27
    B.Nikanor's Day (Bavli Taanit 18b)27
    C.The War of Aristobolus and Hyrcanus (Bavli Sotah 49b)29
    D.Of Sieges and Sacrifices (Yerushalmi Berakhot 4:1, 7b)29
    Chapter 2.The Sages and King Yannai: Standing Up to Authority (Bavli Sanhedrin 19a-b)31
    Chapter 3.Herod and Bava b. Buta (Bavli Bava Batra 3b-4a)33
    Chapter 4.Stories of Destruction38
    A.The Destruction of the Second Temple (I) (Bavli Gittin 55b-57a)38
    B.The Destruction of the Second Temple (II) (Avot d'Rabbi Natan [section]4)48
    C.The Destructions of Tur Malka and Betar (Bavli Gittin 57a)51
    Chapter 5.Bar Kokhba: Hubris and Defeat (Yerushalmi Taanit 4:8, 68d)55
    Chapter 6.Rebuilding the Temple (Genesis Rabbah 64:8)61
    Part IIRabbinic Authority, Rabbinic Character
    Chapter 7.The Banning of Akavia b. Mehalalel: A Dissident Opposes the Majority (Mishna Eduyyot 5:6-7)67
    Chapter 8.Hillel and the Passover71
    A.Hillel and the Passover (I): The Sources and Methods of Rabbinic Law (Tosefta Pesahim 4:13-14)71
    B.Hillel and the Passover (II): Mastery of Torah and Arrogance (Bavli Pesahim 66a)74
    C.Hillel and the Passover (III): The Importance of Tradition (Yerushalmi Pesahim 6:1, 33a)76
    Chapter 9.The "Oven of Akhnai": Rabbinic Authority and Human Dignity (Bavli Bava Metsia 59a-59b)80
    Chapter 10.The New Month and the Authority of the Patriarch (Mishna Rosh HaShana 2:9-11)85
    Chapter 11.Authority over the Calendar88
    A.Palestinian Privilege; Babylonian Challenge (I) (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 1:2, 19a)90
    B.Palestinian Privilege; Babylonian Challenge (II) (Bavli Berakhot 63a-b)91
    Part IIILife and Death in the Rabbinic Academy
    Chapter 12.Conflict in the Academy: The Deposition of Rabban Gamaliel95
    A.Gamaliel the Tyrant (Yerushalmi Berakhot 4:1, 7c-d)98
    B.Gamaliel the Elitist (Bavli Berakhot 27b-28a)99
    Chapter 13.Leadership of the Academy: Lineage or Torah? (Bavli Horayot 13b-14a)104
    Chapter 14.The Saga of Rav Kahana: The Torah of Babylonia vs. the Torah of Palestine (Bavli Bava Qama 117a-b)109
    Chapter 15.The Tragedy of R. Yohanan and Resh Laquish: Give Me Dialectics or Give Me Death! (Bavli Bava Metsia 84a)114
    Chapter 16.The Tragedy of Honi: Give Me Fellowship or Give Me Death! (Bavli Taanit 23a)117
    Part IVHoly Men and Rabbinic Masters
    Chapter 17.R. Shimon bar Yohai121
    A.R. Shimon bar Yohai, the Miracle-worker (Yerushalmi Sheviit 9:1, 38d)123
    B.The Education of R. Shimon bar Yohai (Bavli Shabbat 33b-34a)125
    Chapter 18.Honi the Circle-Drawer: The Holy Man and Rain128
    A.Honi's Prayers for Rain (I) (Mishna Taanit 3:9-12)129
    B.Honi's Prayers for Rain (II) (Bavli Taanit 23a)130
    Chapter 19.R. Yehoshua b. Levi and the Angel of Death (Bavli Ketubot 77b)133
    Part VWomen, Wives and Marriage
    Chapter 20.Rabbis and Wives: Love, Babylonian Style (Bavli Ketubot 62b)139
    Chapter 21.God as Marriage-Maker (Leviticus Rabbah 8:1)146
    Chapter 22.Rabbis, Husbands and Wives148
    A.The Pious Wife (Yerushalmi Sotah 1:4, 16d)149
    B.The Ugly Wife (Bavli Nedarim 66b)150
    Chapter 23.Beruria (Bavli Eruvin 53b, Berakhot 10a)151
    Part VIRomans, Gentiles and Others
    Chapter 24.Alexander Macedon and the World Court (Bavli Sanhedrin 91a)157
    Chapter 25.Alexander Macedon and the Faraway King (Yerushalmi Bava Metsia 2:5, 8c)161
    Chapter 26.Antoninus and Rabbi163
    A.The Body and the Soul (Bavli Sanhedrin 91a)164
    B.The Evil Inclination (Genesis Rabbah 34:10)165
    C.Political Consultation (Genesis Rabbah 67:5)166
    D.Antoninus, Servant of Rabbi (Bavli Avodah Zarah 10b)167
    Chapter 27.Jesus and His Disciples169
    A.Rabbis and Christians (Tosefta Hullin 2:22-24)172
    B.Jesus the Wayward Disciple (Bavli Sanhedrin 107b)174
    C.The Trial and Death of Jesus (Bavli Sanhedrin 43a)175
    Chapter 28.Onqelos the Convert (Bavli Avodah Zarah 11a)176
    Part VIIThe Life of Piety: Charity, Commandments, Virtues
    Chapter 29.Hillel, Shammai and Converts: Virtues and Theological Basics (Bavli Shabbat 31a)181
    Chapter 30.The Commandment of the Fringes and Its Reward (Sifre Numbers [section]115)186
    Chapter 31.The Power of Righteousness (Bavli Shabbat 156b)190
    Chapter 32.The Honor of Parents (Yerushalmi Qiddushin 1:6, 61b / Bavli Qiddushin 31b)193
    Chapter 33.The Pursuit of Torah (Bavli Yoma 35b, Sanhedrin 10a, Berakhot 62a)200
    Part VIIISuffering, Martyrdom and Theodicy
    Chapter 34.Nahum of Gamzu: Happy that You See Me Suffer207
    A.To Suffer or Not to Suffer (Yerushalmi Peah 8:9, 21b)208
    B.The Rewards for Suffering (Bavli Taanit 21a)208
    Chapter 35.Suffering: Not Them and Not Their Reward210
    A.Test of the Righteous (Song of Songs Rabbah 2:16)211
    B.Not Them and Not Their Reward (Bavli Berakhot 5b)213
    Chapter 36.Theodicy and Torah (Bavli Menahot 29b)215
    Chapter 37.Stories of Martyrdom218
    A.The Mother and Her Seven Sons (Bavli Gittin 57b)220
    B.The Martyrdom of R. Ishmael and R. Shimon (Mekhilta d'Rabbi Ishmael, Neziqin, [section]18)222
    C.The Martyrdom of R. Akiba (I) (Yerushalmi Berakhot 9:5, 14b)223
    D.The Martyrdom of R. Akiba (II) (Bavli Berakhot 61b)223
    Part IXSin and Repentance
    Chapter 38.Stories of Elisha b. Abuya229
    A.Elisha as Sinning Sage: The Inviolability of Torah (I) (Bavli Hagiga 15a-b)230
    B.Elisha as Sinning Sage: The Inviolability of Torah (II) (Yerushalmi Hagiga 2:2, 77b-c)237
    C.Elisha the Heinous Sinner (Yerushalmi Hagiga 2:1, 77b)242
    Chapter 39.The Power of Repentance (Bavli Avodah Zarah 17a)245
    Chapter 40.A Sinner's Good Deed (Yerushalmi Taanit 1:4, 64b)247
    Index of Biblical and Rabbinic Sources305
    Subject and Name Index311

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