This essay takes as its starting point the observation that the earliest manifestation of the regulations concerning the eruv (hatzerot) can be found in the Mishnah (late second or early third century C.E.). A careful reading of the early rabbinic texts demonstrates that the eruv shapes a community’s relationship to the local space it inhabits in significant ways that are predicated neither on ownership nor on control over that space. Rather, that relationship is based on a set of negotiations with those who share the space, in rabbinic times predominantly neighbors, and later also jurisdictions. Further, as a tool of drawing symbolic Jewish maps, the rabbinic eruv enhances the concept of multidimensionality of space, as one map—a rabbinic map—of signification is superimposed on space without control over it. As such, the eruv is quintessentially the product of a diaspora imagination, not merely in a historical sense of a post-70 C.E. reality, but in the political sense of inhabiting a space that is shared with and even controlled by others.
Talmudic Transgressions is a collection of essays on rabbinic literature and related fields in response to the boundary-pushing scholarship of Daniel Boyarin. This work is an attempt to transgress boundaries in various ways, since boundaries differentiate social identities, literary genres, legal practices, or diasporas and homelands. These essays locate the transgressive not outside the classical traditions but in these traditions themselves, having learned from Boyarin that it is often within the tradition and in its terms that we can find challenges to accepted notions of knowledge, text, and ethnic or gender identity. The sections of this volume attempt to mirror this diverse set of topics.
Contributors include Julia Watts Belser, Jonathan Boyarin, Shamma Boyarin, Virginia Burrus, Sergey Dolgopolski, Charlotte E. Fonrobert, Simon Goldhill, Erich S. Gruen, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Christine Hayes, Adi Ophir, James Redfield, Elchanan Reiner, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Lena Salaymeh, Zvi Septimus, Aharon Shemesh, Dina Stein, Eliyahu Stern, Moulie Vidas, Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, Elliot R. Wolfson, Azzan Yadin-Israel, Israel Yuval, and Froma Zeitlin.