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The Stories They Tell

Halakhic Anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud


In this engaging book of commentary on the Talmud, the author upends the long-held theory of the immutability of halakhah, Jewish law. In her detailed analysis of over 80 short halakhic anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud, the author shows that the Talmud itself promotes halakhic change. She leads the reader through one sugya (discussion unit) after another, accumulating evidence for her rather radical thesis. Along the way, she teases out details of what life was like 1500 years ago for women in their relationships with men and for students in their relationships with mentors. An eye-opening read by one of today’s leading Talmud scholars.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4456-9
  • *
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Publication Date: Aug 2,2022
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 326
Languages: English, Hebrew
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4456-9
$55.00
Your price: $44.00

In this engaging book of commentary on the Talmud, the author upends the long-held theory of the immutability of halakhah, Jewish law. In her detailed analysis of over 80 short halakhic anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud, the author shows that the Talmud itself promotes halakhic change. She leads the reader through one sugya (discussion unit) after another, accumulating evidence for her rather radical thesis. Along the way, she teases out details of what life was like 1500 years ago for women in their relationships with men and for students in their relationships with mentors. An eye-opening read by one of today’s leading Talmud scholars.

ENDORSEMENTS

"Empowering, challenging, fascinating. Judith Hauptman ushers the lay reader into the arcane world of rabbinic debate, enabling even newcomers to the Talmud to share in the heady excitement of her path-breaking research."

-- Emily Silverman, long-time Limmudnik, co-founder of Jom Ijun (Basel/Zurich)

"A brilliant study of eighty legal narratives in the Babylonian Talmud, indicating that rabbinic halakhic practice was diverse, ever-changing, and innovative, constantly adapting to new circumstances. Especially interesting is the revelation that women participated in halakhic modification."
-- Catherine Hezser is Professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

"A lively, convincing account of halakhic change. Passionate, responsible scholarship."

-- Richard Kalmin, the Theodore R. Racoosin Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary

In this engaging book of commentary on the Talmud, the author upends the long-held theory of the immutability of halakhah, Jewish law. In her detailed analysis of over 80 short halakhic anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud, the author shows that the Talmud itself promotes halakhic change. She leads the reader through one sugya (discussion unit) after another, accumulating evidence for her rather radical thesis. Along the way, she teases out details of what life was like 1500 years ago for women in their relationships with men and for students in their relationships with mentors. An eye-opening read by one of today’s leading Talmud scholars.

ENDORSEMENTS

"Empowering, challenging, fascinating. Judith Hauptman ushers the lay reader into the arcane world of rabbinic debate, enabling even newcomers to the Talmud to share in the heady excitement of her path-breaking research."

-- Emily Silverman, long-time Limmudnik, co-founder of Jom Ijun (Basel/Zurich)

"A brilliant study of eighty legal narratives in the Babylonian Talmud, indicating that rabbinic halakhic practice was diverse, ever-changing, and innovative, constantly adapting to new circumstances. Especially interesting is the revelation that women participated in halakhic modification."
-- Catherine Hezser is Professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

"A lively, convincing account of halakhic change. Passionate, responsible scholarship."

-- Richard Kalmin, the Theodore R. Racoosin Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary

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ContributorBiography

Judith Hauptman

Judith Hauptman is the E. Billi Ivry Professor (emerita) of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Her research interests focus on how the disparate teachings of many rabbis, over many centuries, coalesced into the single text of the Talmud, how Jewish law changes over time in response to social and economic conditions, and how the rabbis of the Talmud viewed women, their role and legal status.

Table of Contents (v)
Acknowledgments (ix)
List of Abbreviations (xi)
Introduction (1)
   bYevamot 37b, Taking a wife on the road (1)
   Explanation (2)
   Core theses of this study (4)
   Layered Structure of the Babylonian Talmud (5)
   The focus of this volume (7)
   Recent Research (8)
   Inner Dynamics of Halakhic Anecdotes (11)
   Research Methods (13)
   Amoraic Generations (14)
   Illustrative Sugyot (15)
      1 bSukkah 28b–29a, Leaving the sukkah because of rain (15)
      2 bBaba Qamma 118b–119a, Accepting charitable donations from married women (20)
      3 bMoed Qatan 27b, Exchanging meals on the first day of mourning (24)
      4 bPesahim 100a–b, Interrupting a meal when the Sabbath arrives (29)
   Talmud Yerushalmi parallels (36)
   Use of manuscripts (36)
   Comments of Rishonim (Medieval Commentators) (36)
   Selection of sugyot for this volume (36)
   Suggestions for how to benefit from this study (37)
   Overview of the Book (38)
   Iqla anecdotes (39)
   Hava Qa’imna/ Hava Yativna anecdotes (39)
   “He encountered him” (ashkeheih) anecdotes (40)
   Multiple anecdotes commenting on the same halakhah (40)
   Ini veha anecdotes (41)
   Anecdotes that feature women (41)
   Concluding comment (42)

Chapter 1. Halakhic anecdotes that include the term “iqla” (45)
      1.1 bHullin 104b, Washing hands after eating cheese and before eating meat (48) 
      1.2 bBerakhot 40a, Table etiquette (53)
      1.3 bBaba Qama 113a, Missing a court date (55)
      1.4 bMoed Qatan 27b, Respect due a corpse (58)
      1.5 bShab 157a–b, Measuring on the Sabbath (60)
      1.6 bBerakhot 43b, Order of blessings at a meal (64)
      1.7 bBerakhot 50a, Standardizing liturgy (68)
      Talmud Yerushalmi, Berakhot 7:3, 11c (70)
      1.8 bMoed Qatan 12a, Non-Jews working for Jews on the Sabbath and festivals (72)
      1.9 bEruvin 104a, Producing sounds on the Sabbath (78)
   Summary (85)

Chapter 2. Hava Qa’imna/Hava Yativna Sugyot (89)
      2.1 bBerakhot 24a–b, Spitting during prayer (91)
      2.2 bBerakhot 41b, Reciting blessings on the Seven Species (96)
      2.3 bBerakhot 13b, Lengthening the Ehad of Shema (99)
      2.4 bYevamot 103b, Halizah shoes (102)
      2.5 bZevahim 94b, Dabbing shoes with water on the Sabbath (108)
      2.6 bShabbat 147a, Shaking out a tallit on the Sabbath (111)
      2.7 bPesahim 100b–101a, Reciting kiddush where one eats the Sabbath meal (116)
      2.8 bBerakhot 11b, Reciting a blessing for the study of Mishnah and Midras (124)
   Summary (134)

Chapter 3. “Encountered him” anecdotes (137)
      3.1 bShabbat 154b, Sliding a child down the back of an animal on the Sabbath (139)
      3.2 bSukkah 19b, Sleeping in a bridal bed in a sukkah (144)
      3.3 bMoed Qatan 20b, Mourning with a wife (148)
      3.4 bMoed Qatan 24a, Mourning on the Sabbath (152)
      Talmud Yerushalmi Moed Qatan 3:5, 83a (156)
      3.5 bGittin 88b, Forcing a get (158)
      3.6 bYevamot 106b, How to recite verses at a halizah ceremony (161)
      3.7 bShabbat 95a, Sprinkling a floor on the Sabbath (163)
      Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat 2:7, 5c (165)
      3.8 bMenahot 42a, Tying zizit (168)
      3.9 bHullin 107a–b, Washing hands before eating (174)
      3.10 bMegillah 18b, Writing a Megillah from memory (177)
      3.11 bPesahim 39a, Maror or lettuce for the Paschal meal (180)
   Summary (182)

Chapter 4. Sugyot with multiple halakhic anecdotes (185)
      4.1 bTa’anit 12b, Wearing shoes on a public fast day (186)
      4.2 bYoma 73b; 78a, Wearing shoes on Yom Kippur (192)
      Talmud Yerushalmi Yoma 8:1, 44d (196)
      4.3 bKiddushin 80b–81b, Seclusion with animals (199)
      4.4 bShabbat 150a–b, Havdalah in the field (203)
      4.5 bBesah 32b, Raking out an oven on a festival (208)
      Talmud Yerushalmi Besah 4:5, 62c (211)
      4.6 bYevamot 101a, Halizah requires the presence of five, not three (214)
      4.7 bBaba Mezia 60a–b, Prettifying Merchandise (221)
      4.8 bShabbat 148b, Festival Loans (225)
   Summary (228)

Chapter 5. Ini Veha anecdotes (229)
      5.1 bTa’anit 19a; 25b–26a, Reciting Hallel after a drought ends (231)
      5.2 bYevamot 37b, Taking a wife on the road (236)
      5.3 bGittin 59b, First Aliyah Privileges of a Kohen (240)
      5.4 bBerakhot 14a, Interrupting prayer to greet someone of greater stature (243)
      5.5 bBerakhot 27a, Passing in front of one who is praying (248)
      5.6 bBesah 25b, Sedan Chair Transport on a Festival (250)
   Summary (256)

Chapter 6. Halakhic anecdotes that feature women (259)
      6.1 bNiddah 67b, Menstruants and Mikveh (261)
      6.2 bBesah 13b, Hulling Barley on the Sabbath (263) 
      6.3 bKetubot 61a, Women and Wine (266) 
      6.4 bBesah 29b, Sifting flour on a festival (270)
      6.5 bShabbat 114b, Preparing Vegetables for the Yom Kippur Break-fast (274) 
   Summary (278)

Concluding Remarks (279)
Appendix. Halakhic anecdotes in the Yerushalmi (285)
   Talmud Yerushalmi Berakhot 4:1, 7a (285)
Bibliography (289)
Index (295)