The Great Debates: Jewish Talmudic Debate
Asia Society’s Great Debates: Traditions and Forms series explores systems of debates and discourse across cultures and religions. Each program provides an overview of the debate form through a short lecture and continues with a panel that demonstrates a potential interpretation on a current topical issue. The first program focused on Tibetan Buddhist debate, the second program considers Jewish Talmudic Debate (below) while the third will look at Islamic Debate (December 8). A program on Confucian/Taoist Debate will be presented in early 2012.
The Talmud is a central text of Judaism, which records rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. Although it is said that the Talmud was completed by the 6th century, in reality the Talmud is constantly evolving. It is meant to be studied and debated in a communal setting, thereby leaving it open to continuous development.
The truth is complex. The concept of Talmudic Debate is based on the idea that one should not study alone, but rather will gain more from studying with another. The premise underlying this takes into account the multitude of voices and many commentators — over generations — that have studied and interpreted the Talmud, forming interpretations which can be both theoretical and practical.
Moshe Halbertal will give a short talk on Talmudic Debate, and lead a panel discussion on the subject. He is the Gruss Professor at NYU Law School and a Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Hebrew University. He received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in 1989, and from 1988-1992 he was a fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Halbertal served as a visiting Professor at Harvard Law School at University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is the author of the books Idolatry (co-authored with Avishai Margalit) and People of the Book: Canon, Meaning and Authority. His latest book, Concealment and Revelation: Esotericism in Jewish Thought and Its Philosophical Implications, was published by Princeton University Press at 2007. He will be joined in a panel discussion by Jeff Israel, University of Chicago.
Read Moshe Halbertal's "At the Threshold of Forgiveness: A Study of Law and Narrative in the Talmud" in the Jewish Review of Books
The Great Debates: Traditions and Forms series is made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.
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