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Jewish Law: From the Talmud to Shulhan Arukh

February 20 – March 3, 2017
Yakov Z. Mayer

Yakov Z. Mayer is a Ph.D. candidate in Talmud and Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, where he is working on a dissertation entitled “The reception of the Palestinian Talmud in Early Modern Era”. He received his BA and MA in Talmud and Jewish thought from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Mayer is teaching in “Alma – House for Hebrew Culture” in Tel Aviv and in Yeshivat Orot Shaul in Ra’anana, and writing regularly in “Ha’aretz” newspaper supplement for Culture and Literature. His recent book entitled “Readings: The Sages Reading Bible” (2016, Hebrew).

Course Description

For the last Millennium and a half, the Talmud is the central book of the Jewish people. Jews read it, commented on it, argued with it, rewrote it again and again and made the Post-Talmudic discourse their main intellectual arena. This discourse is called also “Halakha” and it deals with the dynamic literary body of texts, rituals and manners that shaped Jewish daily life since late antiquity.

So, how did Jews studied the Talmud? What did they look for in it? When did formal codes of Jewish law develop, and why? What is the legal weight and historical value of rabbinic correspondence written to address specific cases and situations? This course will survey the development of Talmudic scholarship from late antiquity until early modernity, focusing on the various genres of legal writing that appeared during these centuries. We will become acquainted with figures from various time periods and geographical locales, such as Rashi, Maimonides, and Rabbi Joseph Karo; examine the historical and cultural circumstances that gave rise to different forms of halakhic literature; and consider the value of legal texts as a lens into Jewish history and Jewish thought.




Every year Paideia offers a series of OPEN COURSES to the public. To participate please contact Paideia for more information: info[at]paideia-eu.org