Rostyslav Dymerets. Rationalism in the Talmud: Taʻam and Middot

Rationalism in the Talmud: Taʻam and Middot

By Rostyslav Dymerets

(International Solomon University, Kyiv)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 2 (2013): 42–57

Publication date: December 1, 2013

Publication type: article

Language: English

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This paper analyzes Talmudic rationalistic approaches (that include middot of R. Akiba and R. Ishmael) to interpretation of the meaning (taam) of the Biblical text each of which actually presents a kind of application of the meaning of the text to different situations in reality. It is argued that these approaches are mutually complementary and designed for different kinds of situations, and that each has its limitations. However, each of them does present a system of interpretation based on concept of the existence of a connection between a pair of fundamental concepts which are those of inclusion — exclusion (in R. Akiba’s method) and more — less (in R. Ishmael’s method). Both these pairs of concepts are conceived as to direct the human mind to the state of full comprehension of the meaning of the Torah which must be expressed in its ability to derive laws for every possible situation on the basis of already existing laws obtained from God through His Revelation.

Keywords: Jewish Thought, Talmud, History of Jewish Philosophy, R. Akiba’s method, R. Ishmael’s method



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