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ElijahStories_NOV212018

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  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329138611 Talmudic Ethics: Lessons from Rabbinic Stories About Elijah, the Prophet whoNever Died Preprint  · November 2018 DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.31263.61608 CITATIONS 0 READS 104 1 author:Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Leadership Principles for all Time: Lessons from Biblical Leaders   View projectEven Great Leaders Make Mistakes: Learning Leadership from Moses   View projectHershey H. FriedmanCity University of New York - Brooklyn College 412   PUBLICATIONS   2,116   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Hershey H. Friedman on 23 November 2018. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.   Talmudic Ethics: Lessons from Rabbinic Stories About Elijah, the Prophet who Never Died Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D. Professor of Business Department of Business Management Koppelman School of Business Brooklyn College, CUNY Email: x.friedman@att.net Abstract The ancient sages of the Talmud used stories as a method to teach people how to behave ethically. Elijah stories remain extremely popular today and he becomes an important figure in Jewish folklore and Chassidic tales. Elijah is supposed to show up at every Jewish circumcision and at the Passover Seder. This paper will examine the Elijah stories that appear in rabbinic literature, principally the Talmud. The diverse roles he plays include: (a) miracle worker, rescuer, and healer; (b) discloser of heavenly secrets; (c) helper and comforter of the poor; (d) promoter of social justice; (e) teacher and scholar; and (f) punisher of the wicked. Keywords : Talmudic stories, ethics, Elijah, Passover Seder, Circumcision, The author wishes to thank Mr. Saul Dzorelashvili for his helpful and insightful comments.   1 Introduction The Talmud has a great deal to say about living an ethical, rewarding life (Friedman, 2012). Friedman and Fischer (2014) demonstrate how  Avos  (Ethics of the Fathers), one of the 63 tractates of the Talmud, can be used to make the world a better place. Socken (2009) asserts that the Talmud is as relevant today as when it was completed about 1,500 years ago. Solomon (2009: xi) affirms: “The Talmud, frequently censored and occasionally banned and burned by the Catholic Church, is one of the most influential, though seldom acknowledged or properly understood, writings of Late Antiquity.” There is a great deal of interest in the Talmud today, especially in much of Asia (Kremer, 2013) and Russia (Lipschiz, 2016). South Koreans have developed a fascination with the Talmud and have made it part of their curriculum. Many Korean homes have a version of the Talmud and call it the “Light of Knowledge”; they feel that the secret of Jewish success is hidden in the pages of the Talmud (Savir, 2013). The Talmud is also popular in China; there is a belief that it can give one an edge in conducting business (Fish, 2010). What is the Talmud? Jewish written law is contained in the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses, i.e ., the Torah). The Talmud, Judaism’s Oral Law, is primarily a collection of rabbinical discussions and commentaries on the Torah’s written text. The Talmud was compiled separately in academies in Israel and Babylonia; it explains, expounds, and elaborates on the Hebrew Bible and consists of the  Mishna  and Gemara . Thus, there are two versions of the Talmud: the Jerusalem Talmud, a  product of the academies in Israel, and the Babylonian Talmud, a product of the academies in Babylon.     2 The  Mishna , srcinally an old oral tradition, was compiled and redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (  Nasi  means President, he was the President of the Sanhedrin), known as Rebbi, about the year 189 C.E. The Gemara, in the Babylonian Talmud,   which consists mainly of commentaries and discussions on the  Mishna,  was completed in approximately 500 C.E. The Jerusalem Talmud was probably completed about 400 C.E. The scholars of the  Mishna  are called Tannaim  (from c. 10 C.E. to 220 C.E.) and the scholars of the Gemara  are called  Amoraim (from c. 200 C.E. to 500 C.E.). These  Amoraim  analyzed, explained, and elaborated on the Mishna. The names of approximately 150 different Tannaim are mentioned in the Mishna (Margolis, 2000: IX). By studying the Talmud, we are examining the wisdom of sages who lived during a 500-year period. There were five generations of Tannaim and seven generations of  Amoraim in Babylonia (five generations in Israel). It is not clear how many different  Amoraim there were since many had several names. Gray (2008) feels that the number of  Amoraim  is probably around 2,000. The Talmud, though mainly concerned with halacha (Jewish law)  , also provides a detailed record of the beliefs of the Jewish people, their philosophy, traditions, culture, and folklore, i.e ., the aggadah  (homiletics) and is replete with legal, ethical, and moral questions. The Midrash, a separate scripture, records the views of the Talmudic sages and is mainly devoted to the exposition of Biblical verses. Z. H. Chajes (2005:195) states that the aim of the homiletic portion of the Talmud ( aggadah ) was to inspire people to serve the Lord. Also, if the lecturer noticed that the audience was not paying attention or was dozing off, he might tell stories which “sounded strange or terrifying or which went beyond the limits of the natural and so won the attention of his audience for his message.”  Maimonides (1135 - 1204) describes individuals who take the homiletics of the
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