Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Caste in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Know Your Place. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic scholars undermine the Jewish caste system.
Today, what lineage a Jew belongs to matters only in occasional ritual contexts. But in Temple times, the boundaries between the priestly caste and the general population of Israelites were sharply patrolled. Indeed, the rules and privileges pertaining to priestly families—the elite of Second Temple Judea—constitute a major concern of the Talmud, especially when it comes to who is entitled to terumah, the portion of the sacrificial offerings reserved for priests. In this week’s Daf Yomi reading, Tractate Kiddushin explaines the detailed rules for how lineage is defined and passed down, especially in the case of marriages between different castes.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links. Some past posts dealing with genetic studies and priestly (cohen) DNA are here, here, here, here, and here.