The idea that the Torah was collectively forgotten in the past, or is destined to be forgotten in the future, is a recurring trope in the rabbinic literature of late antiquity. The talk explores the origins of this idea as well as its development and various uses in rabbinic literature. It proposes that the rabbis' engagement with the notion that the Torah is not eternal, but rather bound to be lost, offers a prism though which we can learn both of the rabbis' perception of history, and of their changing perceptions of their own role in history.
Mira Balberg is Professor of History and Endowed Chair in Ancient Jewish Civilization at the University of California, San Diego. She specializes in ancient Mediterranean Religions, with a focus on the emergence and development of Judaism in antiquity. Balberg is the author of Gateway to Rabbinic Literature (The Open University of Israel Press, 2013), Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press, 2014) and Blood for Thought: The Reinvention of Sacrifice in Early Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press, 2017). Co-authored with Haim Weiss, her book When Near Becomes Far: Old Age in Rabbinic Literature is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.