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For more events, see our Lectures Programme for Spring/Summer 2015.   

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Maimonides and Contemporary Tort Theory: Law, Religion, Economics and Morality

Start: May 11, 2015 6:30:00 PM

This lecture presents Maimonides’ complete tort theory, revealed in the light of all his works – halakhic as well as philosophical. Professor Sinai will recount a story that was neglected by the scholars and the commentators on Maimonides: a story about the rationalization of tort laws that was told by Maimonides in the 'Guide of the Perplexed', his well-known philosophical work, from which it emerges that tort law has two main objectives. One is that of removing wrong (a type of corrective justice), and the second, which is surprising in view of the period in which it was first conceived, is the social objective of preventing damages. There is also a religious dimension, which Maimonides emphasises less, and this includes the prohibition against causing injury, “an eye for an eye”, and a blurring of the boundaries between criminal law and tort law. Professor Sinai will also include a comparison between Maimonides and prominent modern scholars.

Do Jews Believe in Saints? A Medieval Rabbi and his Posthumous Travels

Start: May 21, 2015 6:30:00 PM

Jewish Saints

The Grammar of the Eastern European Hasidic Hebrew Tale

Start: May 28, 2015 6:30:00 PM

This lecture will examine key grammatical features of the Hebrew tales composed in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Eastern Europe by followers of the Hasidic spiritual movement. These tales, which focus on the lives and works of the Hasidic rebbes, are of great significance for the historical study of Hebrew for two reasons. Firstly, they are an extremely rich linguistic repository, constituting one of the only extensive sources of narrative Hebrew from nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, and thus shed valuable light on the use of the language in this setting. Secondly, they were composed just prior to the large-scale revival of the language in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Palestine; as many former Hasidim who were probably familiar with Hasidic literature became followers of the early Zionist movement and subsequently participated in the revival project, the language of the tales is likely to have played a role in the development of Modern (Israeli) Hebrew. These points will be considered in the lecture through discussion of a number of noteworthy non-standard elements of Hasidic Hebrew grammar. Attention will be devoted to the historical origins of these forms and constructions, many of which are traceable to Medieval Hebrew literature or attributable to influence from the authors’ native Yiddish.
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