Between Suns: Twilight in Rabbinic Sources  

By :  Sarit Kattan Gribetz JTS fellow and assistant professor of Classical Judaism, Fordham University Posted On May 15, 2023 / 5783 | Monday Webinar The Space In Between

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Part of the series, The Space in Between: Thresholds and Borders in Jewish Life and Thought 

With Dr. Sarit Kattan Gribetz, JTS fellow and Assistant Professor of Classical Judaism, Fordham University 

Rabbinic sources imagine the period of twilight between the six days of creation and the Sabbath to be a mystically productive time. It was then, they explain, that God created the rainbow and the manna, letters and writing, Abraham’s ram and Moses’s staff. But when is twilight and how long does it last? Does it belong to the day that is ending, the day that is beginning, or to both days at once? These questions are not merely theoretical—their answers determine important matters of Jewish practice, such as when Shabbat ought to begin or which day to circumcise a child. In rabbinic narratives, the time of twilight can serve as a powerful setting for studying mysterious aspects of the created world. In this session, we’ll explore the concept and history of twilight in rabbinic literature, and the role that this liminal time—literally called “between the suns” (bein hashmashot)—plays in rabbinic theory, law, and narrative. 

About the Series

We are living in an undefined time: our daily existence is no longer dominated by the pandemic, yet neither have we settled into a new normal. This sense of being in transition—neither here nor there—  can feel destabilizing; but is the time in between really temporary, or are we always living in between moments, identities, and phases of life?  

In this series, JTS scholars will delve into the idea of liminality—the time or space in between—which we encounter often in Jewish ritual, identity, law, and life. Join us to consider what these many manifestations of “in-between-ness” can teach us about ourselves and about Judaism, and to explore how we might find strength and meaning in an orientation not of “either/or” but of “both/and.” 

We will explore themes of borders, thresholds and transitions as they pertain to the story of Creation, gender, conversion, birth and death, the duality of living as a Jew in America, and more.


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