Articles By Jeffrey Spitzer

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    Jeffrey Spitzer is Chair of the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics at Gann Academy, The New Jewish High School, Waltham, Mass., and a member of the Institute's Tichon Fellows Program.


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      Drinking on Purim

      A lighthearted look at the source of the obligation to get drunk on the holiday.

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      The Innovative Spirit and Jewish Tradition

      Although the rabbis propagated the belief that rabbinic teaching went back to Moses on Mt. Sinai, many classical texts clearly demonstrate that the rabbis understood the innovative nature of their work.

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      Traditional Commentaries on the Shema

      Commentaries on the three paragraphs of the Shema read Jewish concepts both out of and into the text.

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      A Timeline of Jewish Texts

      How did the different genres of Jewish texts develop chronologically?

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      Surrendering to the Romans

      The remarkable parallels in the stories of Josephus' and Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai's surrenders to the Romans reveal more about Jewish memory than Jewish history.

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      Pe'ah: The Corners of Our Fields

      Rabbinic commentators interpreted the law of leaving the corners of one's field for those in need in light of their own concerns about the poor.

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      The Rabbinic Conversion Ceremony

      The different layers of the rabbinic discussion of conversion reveal the beginnings of a transformation from a citizenship ritual to a theological initiation rite.

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      Every Person is a Tree

      The Biblical law protecting fruit trees during war provides an opportunity for Jewish exegetes to reflect on ecology and the wanton destruction of life.

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      Different Perspectives on the Authorship of the Torah

      Literary, historical, and theological perspectives on whether the Torah is divine, human, or something in between

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      The Way of the Gentiles

      The prohibition against non-Jewish practices, might relate to the practices of ancient Egypt, Canaan or the social and philosophical ways of non-Jews today.


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