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Who and What Should I Fear: Early Rabbinic Views

Hosted By: Valley Beit Midrash

Although we generally think of emotions as experiences of individuals, a great deal of recent research demonstrates that emotions are often socially formed and serve social roles. The politics of fear is rampant in our world today, as the events of the past year amply demonstrates. Cultures, religions, and societies, however, have endorsed or condemned “fear” over the course of human history. “Fear” is the most commonly mentioned emotion throughout the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh).

Although there has been a good deal written about “fear” in the Tanakh, including both the fear of God and the fear of humans, the limited analysis of references to “fear” in rabbinic texts has focused primarily upon the fear of the divine, with little investigation of what these texts say about interpersonal fear. In this shiur Professor Joel Gereboff will examine what early rabbinic texts say about who and what we ought and ought not to fear. Participants will come to see how these texts seek to shape the emotions and behaviors of both individuals and groups.

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