The Talmuds and Midrashim, the great compendia of Jewish law and scriptural exegesis edited between the second and sixth centuries C.E., contains hundreds of stories, many of which are biographical anecdotes about sages and early rabbinic heroes. Later sages fashioned tales using their predecessors as models, in order to grapple with fundamental tensions and persistent questions of the life dedicated to Torah.
Many rabbinic stories entered the popular tradition and have served generation after generation of Jews as a prism through which to view the past and make sense of the present. They touch on every aspect of rabbinic culture--sin and repentance, suffering, theodicy, sham and honro, charity and righteousness--and constitute a critical resource understanding the self-conception of the sages and their interactions within the academy.
This volume provides translations of over fifty of the most important rabbinic stories. Each story is preceded by an introduction that sets a wider context and explains technical terms and ferences. Both the introduction and notes pay careful attention to the literary aspects and narrative art of the stories, including the use of irony, wordplays, symbolic names, repitition and the integration of biblical verse.