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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which focuses on a historical-geographic study of rabbinic activity in Palestine from 70 to 400 CE, the mishnaic and talmudic periods, maps the locations of Torah centers, and uses these data to examine the sociocultural makeup of the rabbinic world. The list of settlements and the statistical data serve as the basis for a historical, geographic and sociological discussion of the rabbinic world. Several themes guide the discussion of rabbinic activity: urban Torah centers vs. rural centers; urban sages vs. rural sages; center vs. periphery; the sages as a group on the macro and micro levels; and the ability of the sages to influence Jewish society. The book also focuses on rabbinic activity in the villages as well as in the cities and compares the two, and offers a new perspective.

Keywords: Jewish society; mishnaic period; Palestine; rabbinic activity; talmudic period; Torah centers



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