Past Visitor

Noam Zohar


Social Science

Field of Study

Jewish Studies
I propose to describe central aspects of the political thought of classical Rabbinic Judaism, through an exploration of Mishnah tractate Nezikin (=the "Three Gates"). This will be a study of the text's redaction, attending to the history of its construction out of previous materials, but mainly emphasizing the significance of the final content and literary form. The goal is an exposition of the themes and values expressed through the literary art of redaction - in this context, ideas pertaining to social cohesion and to the mutual obligations and responsibilities of neighbors and stakeholders in the shared social space. The thirty chapters of tractate Nezikin discuss the responsibilities of individuals to prevent harm to others in shared public space and in neighboring private domains; delineation of property rights, concepts of ownership and obligations regarding fair trade, contracts, and avoiding exploitation; the rudiments of communal government, conceived here as an extension of the neighborhood; and the retention and transfer of property within the family across generations. By exploring the formation of the tractate as a literary whole comprising all of the above (and more), I hope to explicate the implied interrelations among these components of social coexistence and thus to produce an in-depth account of central elements of Rabbinic political thought.

Dates at IAS

School of Social Science
School of Social Science
Research Assistant
School of Social Science