Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review of Belser, Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity (Catherine Bonesho).
Julia Watts Belser. Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

In 2014 the governor of California declared a state of emergency due to drought and claimed, “We can’t make it rain” (Martineau 2014). In the Deuteronomic and rabbinic traditions, however, God makes it rain as part of a relationship with the land and the people of Israel. Drought is not a natural disaster but a moral crisis, an explicit sign of a broken relationship with God. Julia Watts Belser, an assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, presents how tractate Ta╩┐anit in the Babylonian Talmud (hereafter BT) both inherits this Deuteronomic understanding and challenges the seemingly straightforward notion that “piety and virtue can assure good fortune in this world” (p. 5).

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