The Land of Truth

Talmud Tales, Timeless Teachings

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Jeffrey L. Rubenstein
  • Chapel Hill, NC: 
    University of Nebraska Press
    , November
     2018.
     328 pages.
     $24.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9780827613089.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

Making the rich narrative world of Talmud tales fully accessible to modern readers, renowned Talmud scholar Jeffrey L. Rubenstein turns his spotlight on both famous and little-known stories, analyzing the tales in their original contexts, exploring their cultural meanings and literary artistry, and illuminating their relevance.

Delving into both rabbinic life (the academy, master-disciple relationships) and Jewish life under Roman and Persian rule (persecution, taxation, marketplaces), Rubenstein explains how storytellers used irony, wordplay, figurative language, and other art forms to communicate their intended messages. Each close reading demonstrates the story’s continuing relevance through the generations into modernity. For example, the story “Showdown in Court,” a confrontation between King Yannai and the Rabbinic judges, provides insights into controversial struggles in U.S. history to balance governmental power; the story of Honi’s seventy-year sleep becomes a window into the indignities of aging. Through the prism of Talmud tales, Rubenstein also offers timeless insights into suffering, beauty, disgust, heroism, humor, love, sex, truth, and falsehood. By connecting twenty-first-century readers to past generations, The Land of Truthhelps to bridge the divide between modern Jews and the traditional narrative worlds of their ancestors.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is Skirball Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Literature in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies of New York University. He is the author of numerous books, including Stories of the Babylonian Talmud and The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud.

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