Every month, we open the doors of our campus to the world—at least online— via the Reflections newsletter and share with you some of the ideas that have been percolating in the Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought think tank.
In Reflections #10 , SHI scholars bring into focus ideas, traditions, and texts that are centuries old, while highlighting their relevance to Judaism today.
What do adultery and Messianism have in common? SHI fellow Dr. Yair Eldan introduces a new way of interpreting the Mishnah in “The Larger Reading,” showing how seemingly unrelated Mishnahs in each tractate are connected by important overarching, themes. In Tractate Sotah, the adulterous woman is depicted in parallel with the metaphorical “adultery” of the Jewish people whose zealous pursuit of the Messianic idea leads them to forget about God.
A dragon, a warrior, a king, three thieves, and a simple cook are just some of the characters who populate the pages of “Self-Denial and Temptation” by Prof. Rella Kushelevsky, a collection of Hebrew stories from 13th century France. Now in print for the first time, these stories defy expectations of Jewish literature of the period, and show that medieval Jewish texts are not limited to rabbinic writings but also included fairy tales—with a uniquely Jewish twist. Check these out in the sneak peek that SHI fellow Avital Davidovich presents in her book review.
From relaxing river jaunt to religious ritual, the unlikely entry of Tashlich into Jewish practice turns out to be much more about enjoyment than about sin. Dr. Eli Freiman reveals the surprising origins of the ritual of Tashlich in “Tashlich: A Leisure Pastime that Became a Mitzvah“