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Allegory

Allegorizers of Torah and the Story of Their Prosecution in Languedoc (1305)

The attempt of the great Catalonian Sage, Rashba, to limit philosophic study and interpretation of Torah in Languedoc (southern France)[1] and to excommunicate one of its well-known practitioners, Levi ben Avraham ben Hayyim of Villefranche-de-Conflent.

Dr.

Gregg Stern

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Torah's Dynamic Truth

Judy Klitsner

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A Feminist Literalist Allegorical Reading of Shir Hashirim

Finding Gender equality without compromising God and meaning in a sanctified collection of love poems.

Prof.

Wendy Zierler

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What Caused the War Between the Kings? Philo's Dual Interpretation

In his account of Abraham’s life, the first-century thinker Philo of Alexandria skillfully interprets the bewildering details in the story of the war between the four and five kings. Understanding the tale on a literal and allegorical level, he offers intriguing suggestions about what motivates both powerful rulers and forces within the soul.

Dr.

Ellen Birnbaum

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Yom Kippur: A Festival of Dancing Maidens

Project TABS Editors

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The Secret of the Ma'aseh Merkava According to Maimonides

Already in the time of the Rabbis, Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot was considered to be esoteric knowledge. Although most Jewish exegetes interpret it as a metaphorical teaching about God, Maimonides interpreted it to be about science and astronomy. So why must it be kept a secret? Because Ezekiel was wrong and his science mistaken.

Dr.

Daniel Davies

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The Torah Is Not an Allegory

In a polemical response to Christian and Jewish allegorical interpretation of the Torah’s laws, Bekhor Shor writes that just as God speaks to Moses “clearly and without riddles” (Num 12:8), so too the Torah is clear and means what it says, and should not be interpreted allegorically.[1]

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo's Allegory

Ancient interpreters debated the identify of Moses’ Kushite wife and the nature of Miriam and Aaron’s complaint. Philo allegorizes her as an eye’s perfect focus, reflecting Moses’ direct perception of God. Reading this together with Philo’s allegorical understanding of Zipporah as a “bird” with direct access to heaven highlights the greatness of Moses’ wife as the fourth matriarch of Israel.[1]

Dr.

Elad Filler

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Song of Songs: The Emergence of Peshat Interpretation

The Song of Songs is a collection of love poetry. The Rabbis read it as an allegory of the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Only in the Middle Ages, in Spain and Northern France, did scholars begin to pay attention to the plain (Peshat) meaning of the text. Some went as far as dropping the allegory altogether and treating it as love poetry, as it was originally intended.

Dr.

Barry Dov Walfish

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Manna and Mystical Eating

Ancient interpreters contemplated the substance of manna, a food that traverses the chasm between divine and mundane realms, falling from heaven to be consumed on earth. In kabbalistic thought, the Zohar presents manna as granting the desert generation an embodied experience of knowledge of God; such an opportunity is available to mystics in everyday eating and through birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals).

Prof.

Joel Hecker

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