Learning Torah from the Talmud’s Greatest Gentiles

By :  Rachel Rosenthal Adjunct Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics Posted On Apr 12, 2021 / 5781 | Monday Webinar The Other in Jewish Text and Tradition

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Part of the series “The ‘Other’ in Jewish Text and Tradition”

The Talmud, in Sanhedrin, says that it is forbidden for non-Jews to learn Torah. However, throughout rabbinic literature, the rabbis frequently imagine themselves engaging in dialogue about religious issues with non-Jews, be they kings or merchants. Why do the rabbis use these gentiles as repositories of Jewish wisdom and questions, and what might that tell us about how they understand their relationship to the larger world?

ABOUT THE SERIES

We live in a time of such polarization—political, racial, economic, religious—that the gaps between us sometimes feel insurmountable. But this is not a new condition for Jews, either within or outside of the Jewish community. This webinar series will explore those gaps between “us” and “the other”: Israelites and other ancient peoples; men and women in the Bible and Talmud; Jews by birth and Jews by choice; the founders of Hasidim and their opponents; Israelis and Palestinians; and more. 

From the ancient Near East to the American civil rights movement; from medieval philosophers to contemporary Jewish educators: how have Jews related to those we define as “other,” and how have we marginalized sub-groups within the Jewish community? What is our obligation to those we perceive as different? How have Jews challenged communal norms from within? JTS scholars guide us in an intellectual journey through Jewish history and text to understand how these gaps have been understood and, at times, bridged.

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