Chapter

Rabbinic Judaism

Robert Eisen

in The Peace and Violence of Judaism

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751471
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894833 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751471.003.0003
Rabbinic Judaism

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The first reading of rabbinic Judaism argues that rabbinic texts promote peace. In the wake of failed rebellions against Rome, the rabbis rejected violence. They claimed that these events came about because of the sins of the Jewish people. The rabbis thus instructed their followers to focus on leading pious lives. Only in the messianic era would Israel’s enemies be defeated, and at that time only God would wage war. The second reading of rabbinic Judaism argues that rabbinic Judaism promotes violence. The desire to do violence to non-Jews is alive and well in rabbinic texts; it is just that the rabbis recognized that they could not act on that desire. They therefore spoke about war as something that either belonged in the distant past or had to be postponed to the distant future. Thus, they celebrated past wars against the Canaanites and the Amalekites and looked forward to the defeat of God’s enemies in the future messianic era.

Keywords: rabbinic Judaism; Jewish people; rabbis; messianic era; Canaanites; Amalekites

Chapter.  23738 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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