Affect and Halakhah
According to the Babylonian Talmud, “all that God has in the world are the four cubits of halakhah” (b. Eruvin 48a). The same might be said of people, at least from the perspective of many Jewish thinkers. But how does one navigate those four cubits? How does halakhah engage with subjective experience and the affective dimensions of human life? This issue of the JTR explores the complex interplay between embodiment, emotion, affect, and law by offering snapshots of moments in Jewish life throughout history. The authors consider contexts as varied as entering the Temple courtyard to the death of a family member in the home. While highly particular, each of these snapshots highlights a dynamic tension between prescribed norms for behavior, subjective experience, and the various avenues through which individuals communicate their desires, fears, and challenges to their broader community.
Deborah Barer and Mark Randall James
Shame, Blindness, and the Face of the Other: Emotions In and Out of Rabbinic Legal Texts
“If You Seek it Like Silver”: Illness and Poverty as Metaphors for Obligation in Israel Salanter
“Do not grieve excessively”: Rabbis Mourning Children Between Law and Narrative in Rabbinic Laws of Mourning and Soloveitchik’s Halakhic Man