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Of Puritans and Prostitutes: The R-rated Talmud

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Rachel Rosenthal is an adjunct assistant professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She received her PhD in Rabbinic Literature from JTS, where her dissertation focused on how rabbinic analysis of the case of the stubborn and rebellious son provides models for moral education and development. In addition to her work at JTS and Hartman, Rachel teaches at Central Synagogue, Lincoln Square Synagogue, and in a variety of other settings around the world. She has also served on the faculty of the Maimonides Scholars Program, Nishma: A Summer of Torah Study, and Drisha, where she was a graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle. She received a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

We often think of the rabbis of the Talmud as paradigms of virtue, but there are many narratives throughout the rabbinic tradition that complicate this picture. In this class, we'll explore stories where rabbis encounter prostitutes to better understand how they think about sexuality, desire, and forbidden fruits.