“What Will Become of Torah?”: The Ascetic Discipline of Torah Study

Eliezer Diamond

in Holy Men and Hunger Artists

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780195137507
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849772 | DOI:
“What Will Become of Torah?”: The Ascetic Discipline of Torah Study

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This chapter shows how highly Torah study was valued in rabbinic culture and how, as a consequence, many of the rabbis privileged it above work and family, thereby practicing a form of instrumental asceticism. The privileging of Torah study over other mizwot is evident in the realm of prayer and public Torah reading. The evidence that abstinence in the pursuit of spiritual perfection was not unknown to the sages' Second Temple predecessors is reviewed. The study of Torah should be balanced with marriage, even though it is recognized that it would be difficult to intensively study Torah while sustaining a family. It is shown that, in many areas, the sages put Torah study before anything else.

Keywords: Torah study; rabbinic culture; rabbi; instrumental asceticism

Chapter.  19220 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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