Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present by Professor Beth A. Berkowitz

By Professor Beth A. Berkowitz

This ebook lines the interpretive profession of Leviticus 18:3, a verse that forbids Israel from imitating its friends. Beth A. Berkowitz indicates that old, medieval, and sleek exegesis of this verse offers an important backdrop for modern day conversations approximately Jewish assimilation and minority id extra commonly. the tale of Jewishness that this e-book tells might shock many sleek readers for whom spiritual id revolves round ritual and worship. In Lev. 18:3's tale of Jewishness, sexual perform and cultural conduct as a substitute loom huge. The readings during this e-book are on a micro-level, yet their implications are far-ranging: Berkowitz transforms either our thought of Bible-reading and our experience of ways Jews have outlined Jewishness.

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44:15, Deut. 31:29), to neutral (Gen. 40:17, 46:33, 47:3; Exod. 23:12, 26:1, 26:36, 28:11, 28:32, 30:25, Deut. 2:7, 15:10), to positive (the work of God: Exod. 32:16, Deut. 11:7, Josh. 24:31; work related to worship of God: Num. 8:4, 31:51). Negative connotations include ma’aseh as idolatrous worship or the idols themselves (Exod. 23:24, Deut. 4:28, 27:15). In a personal communication, James Kugel suggested that the Bible sometimes uses ma’aseh to refer to people or children (such as in Prov. 31:31), in which case the only noun in Lev.

Finally, I explore how these constructions of Jewish identity may be reflecting and responding to historical shifts in Amoraic Palestine, especially the rise of local Jewish and Christian communities organized around synagogues and churches. Of special interest here is the way that the compilers of this parashah represent the Rabbi’s role in the production of Jewish identity; one part of the parashah can be read as a myth of origins for the Rabbi as Jewish ideal. Chapter 7 looks at the Babylonian Talmud’s two pericopes dealing with Lev.

23:24 and Deut. 12:3. Deut. â•›. ” (Deut. 12:3–5). The chapter’s concern with controlling Israelite worship practices is highlighted at the end of the passage, in Deut. 13:1, with a final cautionary note that the instructions be followed exactly as given, with nothing added and nothing taken away. Deuteronomy 18’s vision of distinctiveness, on the other hand, reflects a concern with controlling not the place but the agent of worship: 9. When you enter the land that the Lord your god is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations.

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