Remembering Louis H. Feldman

RENOWNED EXPERT ON FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS

Louis FeldmanOn 27 Adar, March 25, the world’s greatest expert on the writings of the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, left this world at the age of 90. Professor Louis Feldman, a”h, taught Classics at Yeshiva University for over 60 years. If you would have asked him what his greatest accomplishment was, he would have pointed to his many students who occupied positions as professors, rabbis, and roshei yeshivah. Indeed, he was privileged to teach generations of those who went on to serve as rabbinic and intellectual leaders of the Jewish community.

Professor Feldman would not have bragged about his amazing contribution to scholarship and its importance for Judaic Studies and ancient literature and history.

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Unearthing the Shiloach Inscriptions

Hezekiah's Tunnel SiloamWhat’s the connection between a mishnah in Pesachim and Israel’s recent rapprochement with Turkey? What does a recent finding of an inscription in Yerushalayim from the times of Chizkiyahu Hamelech tell us about the Assyrian invasion of Eretz Yehudah in 701 BCE?

The mishnah in Pesachim (4:9) tells us about six things that Chizkiyahu did, three of which the Chachamim approved and three of which they did not. Among those that they did not approve is the fact that he “closed off the waters of the Upper Gichon.” This event is described directly in Divrei Hayamim Beis (32:30). There we learn that “It was Chizkiyahu who stopped up the spring of water of the Upper Gichon, leading it downward west of the City of Dovid.”

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How Did Our Current Haggadah Become the Standard?

A GLIMPSE INTO THE HISTORY OF HOW WE TELL THE STORY OF YETZIAS MITZRAYIM AT THE SEDER

HaggadahThe discovery of the Cairo Genizah, the storehouse of medieval manuscripts and documents in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, in the late nineteenth century has led to a virtual rediscovery of Jewish history during the Middle Ages. In fact, it has provided us with an enormous amount of information about our sacred literature, as well as illuminating the social and political history of Jews in the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. Some of the items found even related to Europe, such as very early writings in Yiddish. But one of the most significant gains was a deeper understanding of the history and literature of the geonim of Babylonia, as well as the text of our siddur and the Pesach Seder.

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