January 17, 2023 5:30 p.m. in Sainer Auditorium.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, Jewish activists invoked the Jewish ethical tradition to support principles of accountability, dignity, and gender justice. The Talmud seemed to offer a perfect precedent for #MeToo in the story of a rabbinic leader who was chastened and dismissed for sexual violations. But is this an accurate reading of Moed Katan 17a? In this talk, I take a second look at the talmudic text I at first celebrated and discover a more complicated and disturbing story. I offer my reading and re-reading as a case study in how the Talmud can–and can’t–advance contemporary ethics.
Mira Beth Wasserman is director of the Center for Jewish Ethics and Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on the art of the Babylonian Talmud and on how the Talmud can be deployed to support contemporary Jewish ethics. Her book, Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals: The Talmud after the Humanities (Penn Press), was awarded the Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish studies published in 2017. Her current projects include a history of the idea of aggadah and the direction of NEH-funded public scholarship on race, religion, and American Judaism.
Lectures are sponsored by New College of Florida, The Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies, and The Jay Rudolph Endowment.