The idea that, on Mount Sinai, Moses received the Written Torah and the Oral Torah constitutes one of the key beliefs in Judaism. Analyze a story about Moses and R. Akiba in the Babylonian Talmud Menahot 29b (the highlighted section on p. 190 in your reading). Address the following questions:
Summarize the story in your own words. Whats going on there?
Why is Moses unable to follow the arguments of R. Akibas disciples? Why, at the same time, the disciples refer to what they say as a law given unto Moses at Sinai?
How do rabbis portray themselves in this story? What claims do they make? Why is the figure of Moses important?
Why is this story relevant to the topic of the Written and Oral Torah in Judaism? What in the story is the written Torah and what is the oral one? What is the relationship between the two?
Use information learned from lecturettes and this weeks readings in your analysis. You will find Goldman, pp. 258-260, to be particularly useful.
A well-written paper will have a concise introduction to the general topic of the paper, a clear thesis statement, and a carefully developed argument with specific examples supporting the thesis statement.
Your paper should be written according to the following guidelines.
Your paper should be no longer than three pages (typed, double-spaced) and should concisely, clearly express the results of careful thought and prior drafts. In the paper you turn in, dont waste space with filler material.
Avoid generalities not supported with specific analysis and evidence. Anchor your paper in careful analysis of the talmudic story, not in broad generalities about Judaism. You should cite specific passages from the story to support your argument.
Do not, however, include long quotations of passages. You are writing for an audience that has read these texts. Instead, quote only what is absolutely necessary for your analysis.
Make every paragraph, sentence, and word count. In three pages you dont have space to waste.
The first paragraph of your paper should include a succinct statement of what you are going to argue to answer the questions posed by this assignment. The following paragraphs should develop your argument to support the thesis that you have stated in your opening paragraph. Your final paragraph should build on your argument to lead the reader into some implications of your thesis and argument for understanding the nature of the Written and Oral Torah. Again, your argument must be supported by specific evidence from the story. You are trying to persuade the reader to agree with your thesis statement.
This assignment is not a research paper, but you should (as appropriate for your argument) interact with the readings and class discussions for the course. You are also free (but not required) to pursue outside reading. In any case, do not pass off the ideas of others as your own. Footnote your use of the ideas of others. For general citation guidelines, see Sources, Their Use and Acknowledgement (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~sources/). Use the note method of citation.
In general, material from the Internet has little value in lending support to your argument because most of the material has not been critically evaluated. Anyone can say anything on a Web page. Before you use information from the Internet, you must carefully evaluate its reliability. You have to ask yourself, for example, from where the information is coming. Dont believe something just because it is on a Web page. You will lose points on your paper if you uncritically use material from the Internet. If you choose to include material from the Internet, you must cite the source of the information.