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Holy Men and Hunger ArtistsFasting and Asceticism in Rabbinic Culture$
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Eliezer Diamond

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137507

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137507.001.0001

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“What Will Become of Torah?”: The Ascetic Discipline of Torah Study

“What Will Become of Torah?”: The Ascetic Discipline of Torah Study

(p.21) 1 “What Will Become of Torah?”: The Ascetic Discipline of Torah Study
Holy Men and Hunger Artists

Eliezer Diamond

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how highly Torah study was valued in rabbinic culture and how, as a consequence, many of the rabbis privileged it above work and family, thereby practicing a form of instrumental asceticism. The privileging of Torah study over other mizwot is evident in the realm of prayer and public Torah reading. The evidence that abstinence in the pursuit of spiritual perfection was not unknown to the sages' Second Temple predecessors is reviewed. The study of Torah should be balanced with marriage, even though it is recognized that it would be difficult to intensively study Torah while sustaining a family. It is shown that, in many areas, the sages put Torah study before anything else.

Keywords:   Torah study, rabbinic culture, rabbi, instrumental asceticism

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