Transforming identity: the ritual transition from gentile to Jew - structure and meaning
Of all Judaic rituals, that of giyyur is arguably the most radical: it turns a Gentile into a Jew -- once and for all and irrevocably. The very possibility of such a transformation is anomalous, according to Jewish tradition, which regards Jewishness as an ascriptive status entered through birth to a Jewish mother.
What is the internal logic of the ritual of giyyur, that seems to enable a Gentile to acquire an 'ascribed' identity? It is to this question, and others deriving from it, that the authors address themselves.
Interpretation of a ritual such as giyyur is linked to broad issues of anthropology, religion and culture: the relation of 'nature' and 'culture' in the construction of group boundaries; the tension between ethnicity and religion; the interrelation of individual identity and membership in a collective. Fully aware of these issues, this groundbreaking study focuses upon a close reading of primary halakhic texts from Talmudic times down to the present as key to the explication of meaning within the Judaic tradition.
In our times, the meaning of Jewish identity is a core issue, directly affecting the public debate regarding the relative weight of religion, nationality and kinship in determining basic aspects of Jewish life throughout the world. This book constitutes a seminal contribution to this ongoing discussion: it enables access to a wealth of halakhic sources previously accessible only to rabbinic scholars, fleshes out their meanings and implications within the cultural history of halakha, and in doing so situates halakha at the nexus of contemporary cultural discourse.
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The proselytes motivation in postTalmudic sources up to the sixteenth century
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acceptance of commandments accepted for giyyur accepting the commandments Alfasi analysis Arba'ah Turim Axelrod Baraita become a Jew Caro ceremony Chapter circumcision and immersion cited commitment covenant Demai paradigm discussion ex post facto father forbidden Gentile Gentile woman giyyur process Grodzinski HaCohen halakhah halakhic halakhic authorities halakhists holds Ibid identity initio intent interpretation invalid Israel Israelite Jacob ben Asher Jerusalem Jewish collective Jewish community Jewish partner Judaism Kiddushin Maimonides marriage marry meaning membership Mishnah mother Nahmanides norms notification observe the commandments perform person position Posner praxis presence of three present process of giyyur proselyte proselyte's motivation Rabbi Assi Rabbi Eliezer Rabbi Joseph Rabbi Joshua rabbinical court Rashi regard Responsa Responsum ruling sake of Heaven Schmelkes scholars seeking giyyur Shabbat Shekhinah Shlomo Shulhan Arukh Talmudic sources Tannaitic Torah Tosafists Tosefta Tractate transgression undergo giyyur underwent Uzziel valid giyyur writes Yevamot 47b Yevamot paradigm Yoreh De'ah