Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Torah


Computer imaging techniques are commonly used to preserve and share readable manuscripts, but capturing writing locked away in ancient, deteriorated documents poses an entirely different challenge. This software pipeline-referred to as “virtual unwrapping”-allows textual artifacts to be read completely and noninvasively. The systematic digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll (the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals the writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets. Our approach for recovering substantial ink-based text from a damaged object results in readable columns at such high quality that serious critical textual analysis can occur. Hence, this work creates a new pathway for subsequent textual discoveries buried within the confines of damaged materials.

Concepts: Codex, Manuscript, Ein Gedi, Torah, Israel, Scroll, Dead Sea, Dead Sea scrolls


Throughout Antiquity magical amulets written on papyri, lead and silver were used for apotropaic reasons. While papyri often can be unrolled and deciphered, metal scrolls, usually very thin and tightly rolled up, cannot easily be unrolled without damaging the metal. This leaves us with unreadable results due to the damage done or with the decision not to unroll the scroll. The texts vary greatly and tell us about the cultural environment and local as well as individual practices at a variety of locations across the Mediterranean. Here we present the methodology and the results of the digital unfolding of a silver sheet from Jerash in Jordan from the mid-8(th) century CE. The scroll was inscribed with 17 lines in presumed pseudo-Arabic as well as some magical signs. The successful unfolding shows that it is possible to digitally unfold complexly folded scrolls, but that it requires a combination of the know-how of the software and linguistic knowledge.

Concepts: Scroll, Silver, Epistemology, Jordan, Torah, Linguistics, Writing, Codex


This article considers the meaning and significance of authority, and its relevance to the transference process, within the framework of psychotherapy in the orthodox Jewish (Haredi) community in Israel. In this community, deeply-rooted habits of obedience to the commandments of the Torah and the authority of the Rabbi are integral to maintaining an orthodox way of life. Clinical vignettes with Haredi patients are presented to illustrate the complexities that arise when both patient and therapist belong to the orthodox community, and highlight the authority-related issues that are central to the therapy. This combination of factors requires a sensitive and finely-tuned approach which will enable the therapist to maintain the treatment framework while still accommodating the orthodox way of life.

Concepts: Orthodox Judaism, Talmud, Rabbi, Israel, Haredi Judaism, Halakha, Torah, Judaism


This paper, based on fieldwork conducted in a Jerusalem yeshiva, describes how the yeshiva, a traditional institute of religious studies, also serves as an institution of healing and personal therapy in which sacred religious texts assume a central place. The article focuses on personal sessions between the rabbi who heads the yeshiva, and his audience of believers who turn to him for help in coping with personal hardships and tribulations. The paper contextualizes and elaborates upon the concept of ‘deep healing’ to describe how the rabbi uses his regular ‘tool kit’ to diagnose the problems of the person facing him and to offer optimal, personalized therapy. The rabbi uses religious texts to create textual deep healing processes that are tailor-made for the individual supplicant and are intended to accompany supplicants for a long period of time.

Concepts: Bespoke, Time, Haredi Judaism, Hasidic Judaism, Torah, Yeshiva, Rabbi, Judaism


In contemporary bioethics, the autonomy of the patient has assumed considerable importance. Progressing from a more limited notion of informed consent, shared decision making calls upon patients to voice the desires and preferences of their authentic self, engaging in choice among alternatives as a way to exercise deeply held values. One influential opinion in Jewish bioethics holds that Jewish law, in contradistinction to secular bioethics, limits the patient’s exercise of autonomy only in those instances in which treatment choices are sensitive to preferences. Here, we analyze a discussion in the Mishna, a foundational text of rabbinic Judaism, regarding patient autonomy in the setting of religiously mandated fasting, and commentaries in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds, finding both a more expansive notion of such autonomy and a potential metaphysical grounding for it in the importance of patient self-knowledge.

Concepts: Oral Torah, Autonomy, Rabbinic literature, Mishnah, Torah, Judaism, Talmud, Halakha


The American Orthodox Jewish community has specific cultural factors that may contribute to overweight and obesity. This study aimed to look at caloric intake on the Sabbath and its contribution to overweight and obesity. Twelve married or previously married women who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews were recruited to do 24-h food recalls over the phone. The participants were divided into three weight groups (normal, overweight, and obese) based on their BMI. The overweight and obese participants' data were combined into one group for the purposes of statistical testing. Paired t tests looking at the data for all participants showed significantly great caloric intake during an average Sabbath day than an average weekday [t(4) = 7.58, p < 0.001]. A repeated-measures ANOVA showed significantly greater energy intake on the Sabbath for the overweight-obese women compared to the normal weight women [F(1) = 7.83, p = 0.02]. No statistical difference was seen between the weekday energy intake of the normal weight women as compared to the combined group of overweight-obese women [F(1) = 0.501, p = 0.499]. These results support the hypotheses that all groups eat significantly more on the Sabbath than on weekdays, and overweight and obese individuals eat significantly more on the Sabbath than normal weight individuals. This supports the theory that caloric intake on the Sabbath is a contributing factor to overweight and obesity within the American Orthodox Jewish community.

Concepts: Conservative Judaism, Talmud, Torah, Shabbat, Israel, Orthodox Judaism, Halakha, Judaism


Judaism has a positive attitude to sexual relations within a marriage, and views such sexual relations as important not only for procreation but also as part of the framework of marriage. This is true for any age group, and sexuality is seen as an essential element of marriage for couples of advanced age. In this article, the authors present the views of Jewish law and thought regarding sexuality among older couples. The authors illustrate this using 3 case studies of couples who sought guidance in the area of sexuality. In addition, this area of counseling benefits greatly from an ongoing relationship and dialogue between expert rabbis in the field and therapists treating older Orthodox Jewish patients for sexual dysfunction. The triad relationship of couple, therapist, and rabbi enhances the ability to treat and assist such couples to seek treatment and overcome their difficulties.

Concepts: Israel, Modern Orthodox Judaism, Haredi Judaism, Sexual intercourse, Torah, Talmud, Judaism, Halakha


Abstract Developments in science and technology and corresponding clinical applications raise new religious questions, often without clear answers. The role of theology in bioethics is integral to clarify perceived attitudes toward these developments for different religious communities. The Jewish attitude towards procreation is derived from the first commandment of God to Adam to ‘Be fruitful and multiply’. Judaism allows the practice of all techniques of assisted reproduction when the oocyte and spermatozoon originate from the wife and husband respectively. This paper presents the attitude of Jewish Law – Halacha to therapeutic procedures, such as IVF-embryo transfer, spermatozoa, oocytes, embryo donation, cryopreservation of genetic material, surrogacy, posthumous reproduction, gender preselection, reproductive and therapeutic cloning.

Concepts: Sperm, Spermatozoon, Organism, Male, Torah, Human, Reproduction, Judaism


This article analyzes a public controversy surrounding the hormonal treatment of infertility associated with observance of rabbinic law to illuminate the reach of rabbi-doctor relations in a local configuration of religion and biomedicine that I call “kosher medicine.” I combine a historical perspective on the evolution of religious laws governing menstruation, and the rabbi-doctor relations with a contemporary ethnography of these relations and laws to illuminate the interplay of continuities, discontinuities, tradition, and modernity and their uses and abuses in the contemporary mode of interpenetration between observant Judaism and biomedicine. The controversy highlights asymmetric permeations into biomedical and rabbinic professional domains. Collaborations persist as long as doctors who declare their incompetence in rabbinic law accommodate to demands of rabbis who are expert in it and also claim competence to challenge medical decisions. Once a doctor demonstrates competence in rabbinic law to challenge rabbinic directives a crisis develops.

Concepts: Rabbinic Judaism, Shulchan Aruch, Orthodox Judaism, Rabbi, Torah, Talmud, Judaism, Halakha


The aim of the study was to explore the meaning of consolation as experienced by Job in the Book of Job and as presented in literature and how consolation relates to suffering and care. The study’s theoretical design applied Ricoeur’s view on phenomenology and hermeneutics. The resulting themes were as follows: consolation that is present, that originates in confrontation, that keeps suffering at a distance, that does not alleviate suffering, that originates in experience from giving comfort, and that facilitates a change of perspective. The authentic and caring consolation accepts the sufferer’s incomprehensible “otherness” but however provides no answers about how to console.

Concepts: Torah, Meaning of life, Hebrew Bible, Ketuvim, Book of Job, Suffering, Bible, Tanakh