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“They Were Experts, We Are Not Experts”: Rabbinic Valorization of Literacy Failures

Sun, December 16, 10:00 to 11:30am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cambridge 2

Abstract

Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg’s paper will consider classical rabbinic traditions that denigrate rabbinic skills in the technicalities of literacy. It will look at narrative episodes in which a rabbinic authority is pictured making a decoding mistake in the course of a reading. It will analyze midrashic traditions in which an exegesis is offered on the wrong spelling of a word and the mistake is remarked upon but not corrected in the editorial layer. Finally, it will look at early rabbinic statements that contrast a lack of facility with the technicalities of writing in early rabbinic circles with the imagined prowess of Second Temple scribes.

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