The Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School, presents:
“Halakhists, Humanists, and Legal Codification:
Organizing Jewish Law in the Early Modern Period”
Dr. Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg (Harvard Society of Fellows)
Wednesday, 1 April 2020, at 12pm
Location: Hauser 101
Harvard Law School
Lunch from Milk Street Café
Around the middle of the sixteenth century, two rabbis — one, a refugee from the Inquisition living in the Galilee; the other, a son of a prominent community leader in Cracow – were working on projects to organize Jewish religious law, or halakha. They were convinced that halakhic texts urgently required a new halakhic codification. At the same time in Western Europe, especially in France, humanist jurists were grappling with their own legal legacy. Among these scholars, too, demands for a new codification were heard. Viewing these early modern calls for codification as projects of knowledge organization, and examining how these scholars positioned their enterprises in their own cultures’ history sheds light upon the significance of organization for law and authority, and the perhaps surprising dynamics of codification.
Dr. Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. A historian of Early Modern Jewish culture, Tamara studies the history of knowledge, focusing on halakha (Jewish law) in sixteenth-century Europe. She received her PhD from the History Department of the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation showed how a material, social, and cultural changes in the sixteenth century, such as technological innovation, new forms of organization, and communal rupture profoundly transformed the world of halakha. Her work explores how scholars interact with knowledge, transmit it, understand it, and create it, and how the forms that texts take profoundly impact our ways of understanding them.