Chapter

Introduction

Eliezer Diamond

in Holy Men and Hunger Artists

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780195137507
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849772 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137507.003.0001
Introduction

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This book is part of a lifelong effort to make sense of two of the strangest and most difficult, and yet most formative and inspirational aspects of life: fasting and asceticism in rabbinic culture. Chapter 1 outlines that rabbinic Judaism does in fact contain ascetic elements, but that the asceticism of rabbinic Judaism is significantly different from that of Christianity in that it is largely incidental and instrumental rather than essential and that the two could co-exist. Chapter 2 examines the beliefs in theological principle and their implications for the rabbinic pursuit or avoidance of pleasure. Chapter 3 surveys the use of terms in the rabbinic corpus and evaluates what this usage implies about rabbinic asceticism. It is suggested in chapter 4 that fasting is the post-destruction substitute for its biblical predecessor, the Nazirite. Lastly, Chapter 5 explores the differences in attitude toward fasting, and perhaps toward active ascetic behavior in general, between the rabbis of the Land of Israel and those of Babylonia.

Keywords: fasting; asceticism; rabbinic culture; rabbinic Judaism

Chapter.  9375 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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