World Congress Day 3
Arkady Kovelman – One central metaphor – the meat of the Sabbath lamb. I got here for the questions. Gail Leibovitz – lots of attention given to hotsa'ah. Can a masekhet have more than one theme? Kovelman – one core metaphor. Shana Schick – which stratum contains the metaphors? Kovelman – we pay no attention to the redaction. Ari Schick – have you tried with Yerushalmi? Kovelman – we tried and failed. Yerushalmi is very different. Avi Walfish – I've also found it more difficult, but Menachem Katz has found some literary structures.
Jane Kanarek – Flip the usual question – instead of asking how the Rabbis transform the obvious meaning of a verse, looking at how they sometimes avoid the obvious verse as prooftext and turn elsewhere. Theoretical claims – reading is ideological, and linked to religious practice, and involves choice. The Rabbis make these connections to the verse by choice. This is by no means the only way Bavli reads scripture. Example from learning shiv'a, that does not use Genesis 50:10 – 'And he performed mourning for his father for seven days'. Bavli MK 20a learns from Amos 8:10, which refers to general, public mourning. The Bavli doesn't explicitly say it is avoiding the verse, but it can't be happenstance. The Yerushalmi does learn from there, but complains that it is a pre-Sinaitic source. Five other traditions follow with sources for the mourning period. The pre-Sinaitic issue isn't a consistent problem, it's really just a vehicle for moving the sugya forward. The Bavli condenses the final stage of this Yerushalmi sugya.
The same problem arises with the thirty-day mourning period, which the Bavli learns from Nazir, and a gezerah shavah to the mourning over Nadav and Avihu, and then a gematria to supply the thirty day period. But Sifre Devarim learns the Nazir thirty day period from the explicit verses about thirty day mourning for Moshe and Aharon.
The mishnah on which this discussion is taking place is the confluence of mourning and festivals. But that is not a sufficient explanation. There are plenty of pre-rabbinic sources for seven days of mourning. This is a tool for the rabbis to demonstrate that Scripture is not what creates practice – only Rabbis do.
The Bavli uses this same verse from Amos for other laws of mourning. In contrast, in the Yerushalmi the verse is only used in the context of shiva. So this is a Babylonian trope. Jacob disappears because his case is too obvious, while using Amos creates a web of meaning that binds shiva to other rabbinic mourning practices. The Bavli is interested not only in finding a good source for the law, but to link different laws to each other.
Walfish – Chana Friedman's doctorate.
Jane is wondering about Palestinian texts in general, and whether they have a different way of creating webs of meaning. Kovelman – perhaps avoiding the obvious was a goal in itself. Jane considered literary play, that the rabbis were just having fun, but she believes that there are overarching narratives in laws. Harry Fox – Menachem Katz's paper on shrinking Yerushalmi sugyot. ES Rosenthal said that the Bavli prefers to do Midrash ha-Mishnah, and only at the end to introduce some knock-out baraita that could have solved all the problems. Walfish – comment on the comments – there are many sugyot where the Bavli expands the Yerushalmi. So we need to ask when the Bavli chooses to expand or to contract the Yerushalmi. Gila Rosen – the interplay between avelut and hagim is already in the Mishnah. And curous to hear other cases.
Jay Rovner – How can one account for the purpose of fanciful sugyot, and are there such aggadic sugyot as well? Meta-systemic concerns. Halivni thinks the anonymous argumentation is a late reconstruction of earlier amoraic discussion. Leib Moscovitz looks forward instead of backward, towards greater abstraction in later strata, an attempt to create overarching theoretical systems. Tetralemma – four items are shown to be like or unlike each other based upon two considerations. The question of whether this is serious or an aid to memorization is unclear. But they are definitely coherent.