Throughout the midrash Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE), motifs are recycled to connect primordial time to the eschaton. In this paper, I read passages on the well “created at twilight of the Sixth Day” in light of Bakhtin's notion of “chronotope” (lit. time-space). The author of PRE disengages the itinerant well from its traditional association with the desert sojourn and links it, instead, to the foundation stone of the world (even shtiyah) at the Temple Mount. The midrash reflects the influence of Islamic legends about the “white stone” around which the Dome of the Rock was built (ca. 690 C.E.). Over the course of the discussion, PRE is understood in terms of the genre “narrative midrash” and compared to classical rabbinic literature in order to illustrate changes in both form and content arising from the author's apocalyptic eschatology.
This paper compares the Babylonian and Palestinian talmudic traditions on the fate of the ark of the covenant—either lost before or during the Babylonian conquest, or buried in the Temple precincts (b. Yom’a 53b–54a; y. Sheqalim 6:1–2, 49c). In the Babylonian Talmud, the ark and the cherubim are described in highly erotic, feminized terms, blurring traditional gender categories of Israel and God. The feminization of the ark serves as a “survival strategy” to counter the defiling gaze of the gentile conqueror, but also preserves the sacred center as a locus of longing for Jews in diaspora.