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Reconsidering The Book And The Sword: A Rhetoric Of Pas Sivity In Rabbinic Hermeneutics

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Chapter Summary

David Weiss Halivni, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States and eventually to Israel, wrote a memoir that he called The Book and the Sword. This motif derives from an early midrashic text and is developed by the Babylonian Talmud, the vast compendium of rabbinic teachings ranging from the first centuries of the Common Era to the fifth, sixth, and beyond, and the subject of Halivni's great scholarly passion as well as his lifeline during the darkest of times in Auschwitz. This chapter focuses on a hermeneutical stance that the pericope proposes, a posture of passivity in the face of the dictates of Torah, an idiom that suggest the Talmud adapts from earlier traditions. Rabbi Judah presents Lev. 18:3 as a clear force prohibiting the adoption of the sword and requiring the repugnant axe.

Keywords: Babylonian Talmud; Babylonian Talmud Trajectories; David Weiss Halivni; hermeneutical stance; Israel; Lev. 18:3; Rabbi Judah; rabbinic; sword; Torah



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