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Lecture 7

Introduction to Judaism - Lecture 7

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Religion & Culture
Holly Pearse

RE204 – Lecture 7  Today in Judaism o 27 Tishrei, 5774 AM o 1 October 331 BCE - Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in Battle of Gaugalgma  Formation of the Talmud 200-650 CE o Talmud: two works/ collections of commentary on Mishnah  mishnah 200 CE; Gemara 500 CE  in 200CE, oral law was created, to prevent the loss of the oral laws  Gemara - commentary on the Mishnah, Talmud is collection of Gemara  500 CE - commentaries were collected, range in age, written out and edited as multiple rabbis having dialect o 2 Talmuds  Palestinian Talmud  rabbinic centers in Palestine  focused on midrash - biblical stories for meaning  written in Judea and regions  the Babylonian Talmud  rabbinic centers in Babylonia o controversies, interested in capturing arguments  written by Babylonian rabbis  written off because they decided to stay in exile  maintained Judaism, source for reconstruction  third century, make a huge comeback o Talmud not direct explanation, leaves many question unanswered, promotes continued study, when you commit oral law to paper, it loses flexibility, becomes concrete o Mosaic Judaism - Moses kept some oral laws to allow teachers some flexibility  makes it a dialogue rather than something to just read o Talmud very interactive, records answers which it clearly believes is wrong  people need to read it and figure which meaning o polysmy of Talmud, freezing or preserving many opinions in the text o Ben Zakkai got many of his documents from the Babylonians as he couldn't take them out of Palestine o Babylonian Talmud lasted longer and larger o Babylonian Jews focused on synagogue, connected through the hub of the temple, diaspora  managed to maintain unity among the differences o Palestine Patriarchs (400) and Babylonian Exilarchs (lasts until Islamic empires) o Rabbis presented themselves as presenting the real Judaism  struggled with Jews in rural areas, did not approve of their practices  did not approve of rural synagogue architecture/magic o magic pre-existed Rabbinic Judaism  Talmudic Judaism o arising from Rabbinic tradition as recorded in the Talmuds  rooted in idea that Law can be followed correctly through proper interpretation 1 RE204 – Lecture 7  rabbi (focused on the proper instructor) o don't receive a calling, is a teacher/scholar o better educated, no more divine than anyone else o been used in second temple as honorific o World Views  God's plan unfolds while Jews focus on covenant and law  Halakah - the right path  covenant means purity of self and purity of community  decentralize from temple to Torah, way to survive the loss of Temple  observance of the Law is matter of habit/dedication  Rabbis not picking on people's behaviour just for the sake of picking on them  looking at continued dedicated observance can change one's morals/self-awareness o mindfulness movement, observance is altogether a way to remind people to be conscientious o viewed covenant as relationship between God and people o histories become the narrative of the covenant, but so is present and future  all Jews participate in this narrative  even though bible ended, God is still interacting with Jews through this story  Talmudic Judaism: Basics o G-d: Unified; immanent  monotheism, covenant  Zakhor - mindfulness, active memory  Shema - perpetual offering of the creed o Torah: Written & oral; lived  613 commandments  Instruction/Interpretation; halakhah  learning to understand and interpret becomes part of the current narrative  everyday life of the covenant  lived torah - Jews can live the Torah but by actively studying/ learning from their elders (Minhag)  liturgical calendar  follows close closely to temple calendar, lunar calendar  link to the temple  Sabbath - always been, but becomes marker of true followers o 7th day of the week, the day God rested o major cog in covenant, lots of theories around the Sabbath o Israel: Enduring  remains major symbol in Rabbinic Judaism  physical land  pain of Galut (exile), becomes major focal point  following or not following the covenant changes the narrative 2 RE204 – Lecture 7  community - after defeat of all the Jewish wars under Romans, came to focus on the community of Israel, rather than restoring the religion  Two Missions - to be a nation of priests, be the light to the nations  be holy, purity, include all Jews in nation of Priests o tells Jews to remain separate  rabbis wrestle with "light to the nations" o Torah, their job to maintain the Torah, carry the Torah with them o Creation: Heaven on Earth (Olam HaZeh)  focus on earthly life, being a creation of creation  to cultivate and preserve
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