Part two of David’s Zoom series, Unorthodox Episodes from the Talmud, mixes Jewish history with textual learning and fascinating storytelling.
The talk continues the story begun in the previous episode regarding Rav Kahana, a third-century sage who fled Babylonian authorities to find refuge in the Land of Israel following a violent confrontation in a rabbinical court.
In this lecture, David describes the next chapter for Rav Kahana following his arrival at the prestigious yeshiva of Tiberius. Through a series of unfortunate actions and misunderstandings, Rav Kahana finds himself once again at the centre of dramatic events involving pride, regret, and death.
As David unravels this extraordinary story, he explores:
- key Talmudic figures and their contribution to Jewish life, history, learning, and continuity
- the relationships and tensions between some of the great Jewish figures and academies of the time
- the political and hierarchical structures of these rabbinical academies
- the power of the sages and consequences of unsettling them
- how concepts of right and wrong do not always resonate through centuries
- the unexpectedly mystical nature of elements of the Talmud.
This lecture places in context the historical situation of the Jewish communities in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. It also reminds us of the importance of Torah scholarship in relation to the shape and influence of different parts of the Jewish world.
This lecture is the second in a four-part series presented via Zoom for Caulfield Shule in 2020 as part of its scholar-in-residence program.