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Andrew Schumann, Joshua Halberstam, Michael Chernick, Mauro Zonta, Sergey Dolgopolski, Hany Azazy, Michael Nosonovsky, Ely Merzbach, Moshe Koppel,


Preface. Philosophy and History of Talmudic Logic

The Author: Andrew Schumann,
The purpose of the workshop Philosophy and History of Talmudic Logic held on October 27, 2016, in Krakow, Poland, was to examine the meaning of Talmudic hermeneutics in the contemporary epistemology and logic. One of the main features of Judaism is that Jewish religious laws are not dogmatic but based on specific legal reasoning. This reasoning was developed by the first Judaic commentators of the Bible (Tann’ayim) for inferring Judaic laws (halakah) from the Pentateuch. Our workshop was aimed to consider Judaic reasoning from the standpoint of modern philosophy: symbolic logic, rhetoric, analytic philosophy, pragmatics and so on. On the one hand, we are interested in possibilities to import into the Talmudic study modern logical methods. On the other hand, we are interested in possibilities to export from the Talmud new logical principles which are innovative to contemporary logic.

Epistemic Disagreement and ’Elu We’Elu

The Author: Joshua Halberstam,
A lively exchange in recent epistemology considers the problem of
epistemic disagreement between peers: disagreement between those who share
evidence and have equal cognitive abilities. Two main views have emerged
about how to proceed in such circumstances: be steadfast in maintaining one’s
own view or conciliate, and suspend or reduce one’s confidence in one’s belief.
Talmudic debates do seem to promote steadfastness, as the disputants are not
called on to conciliate purely because they confront a disagreeing peer. But
why? Third party judgments are even more problematic, for what epistemic
warrant is there for choosing between a disagreement of superiors? A common
explanation for Talmudic steadfastness is the notion ’elu w’elu divrey ’Elohim
kayim – both sides of Talmudic (or, more generally, halakhic) disputes have
‘heavenly’ legitimacy. But a closer look at this oft-quoted dictum and its
various interpretations does not, in fact, reveal such support for steadfastness.
Other explanations for Talmudic steadfastness are, therefore, required.

Developments in the Syntax and Logic of
the Talmudic Hermeneutic Kelal Uferaṭ Ukelal

The Author: Michael Chernick,
The purpose of this study is to show that the logical content of a
Tann’ayitic hermeneutic changed and developed as it passed into the hands of
the ’Amor’ayim, the Tann’ayim’s successors, and then into the anonymous
stratum of the Babylonian Talmud. This hermeneutic was based on a very
specific syntactical order in a biblical verse, which was formed by an initial
inclusive clause, followed by a list of specifics, and then followed by a second
inclusive clause. This hermeneutic is called in Hebrew kelal uferaṭ ukelal. In
the Tann’ayitic period the hermeneutic required that the second inclusive
clause had to be more extensive than the first one. It appears that this new
degree of extensiveness suggested that the list of specifics was not definitive of
the initial inclusive clause and that other things might be implied by the second
one. The way that the rabbinic interpreter determined what these things might
be was by seeking the common characteristics that the items in the specifics
clause shared. By the time of the late Tann’ayim and early ’Amor’ayim the
requirement for the two inclusive clauses had changed. The formal syntax of
the hermeneutic remained, but inclusive clauses had to be equal in their degree
of inclusivity. The change in logic seems to be the result of viewing a second,
more inclusive clause as a distinct element that could be disconnected from the
first inclusive clause and the specifics that follow it. If the two inclusive
clauses were, however, the same or similar, the rabbinic interpreter could argue
that they belonged to the same categories and thus formed a legitimate kelal
uferaṭ ukelal. In the final period of the Talmud’s creation neither the syntactic
nor logical requirements were any longer needed to form a kelal uferaṭ ukelal.
Two artificially constructed inclusive clauses and some specifics could appear
in almost any order within a biblical verse and be considered a kelal uferaṭ
ukelal. It appears that the desire of the rabbinic interpreters of each era to
connect their halakot to the Torah was the force behind the changes we have

Medieval Judaic Logic and the Scholastic One in the 14th – 15th
Centuries Provence and Italy

The Author: Mauro Zonta,
Hezekiah bar Halafta and Judah Messer Leon, who wrote in 14th –
15th century in Provence and Italy, were the first and last of “Jewish
Schoolman.” This short article compares two texts, in order to showing
differences and similarities.

Suspending New Testament: Do the Two Talmuds Belong
to Hermeneutics of Texts?

The Author: Sergey Dolgopolski,
The paper explores the role of competing notions of what does it
mean to have a testament of the law of the past in Christian and Rabbinic
corpora of text and thought. The argument probes and renegotiates the complex
relationships of the Christian suspension of Old Testament by the New
Testament and the Rabbinic suspension of (any) new testament in the two
Talmudim. It consequently draws implications of that analysis for
understanding the relationships of the two Talmudim to the tradition of
hermeneutics of texts, as influenced as the latter has been by theological and
literary approaches of various Christian theologies of the two Testaments. As a
part of that analysis the articles justifies the task of advancing and providing a
critique of political theology and political philology as modes of thought and
investigation. That provides a way to ask anew the question about relationships
between theology, literary theory, and political thought.

The Genesis of Arabic Logical Activities: From Syriac Rhetoric
and Jewish Hermeneutics to al-Šāfi‘y’s Logical Techniques

The Author: Hany Azazy,
This paper tries to outline a history of development of informal
logic in Semitic languages and especially in Arabic. It tries to explain how
the first definite formulation of rules of this logic appeared at al-Šafi‘y’s
Risāla, a work on ’uswl āl-fiqh or methodology of law. It attempts also to
provide new theories and hypotheses about the translation movement in the
Arabic and Islamic medieval world.

Connecting Sacred and Mundane: From Bilingualism
to Hermeneutics in Hebrew Epitaphs

The Author: Michael Nosonovsky,
Gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions are the most common class of
Jewish monuments still present in such regions as Ukraine or Belarus. Epitaphs
are related to various Biblical, Rabbinical, and liturgical texts. Despite that, the
genre of Hebrew epitaphs seldom becomes an object of cultural or literary
studies. In this paper, I show that a function of Hebrew epitaphs is to connect
the ideal world of Hebrew sacred texts to the world of everyday life of a Jewish
community. This is achieved at several levels. First, the necessary elements of
an epitaph – name, date, and location marker – place the deceased person into a
specific absolute context. Second, the epitaphs quote Biblical verses with the
name of the person thus stressing his/her similarity to a Biblical character.
Third, there is Hebrew/Yiddish orthography code-switching between the
concepts found in the sacred books and those from the everyday world. Fourth,
the epitaphs occupy an intermediate position between the professional and folk
literature. Fifth, the epitaphs are also in between the canonical and folk
religion. I analyze complex hermeneutic mechanisms of indirect quotations in
the epitaphs and show that the methods of actualization of the sacred texts are
similar to those of the Rabbinical literature. Furthermore, the dichotomy
between the sacred and profane in the epitaphs is based upon the Rabbinical
concept of the ‘Internal Jewish Bilingualism’ (Hebrew/Aramaic or
Hebrew/Yiddish), which is parallel to the juxtaposition of the Written and Oral

Using Lotteries in Logic of Halakhah Law.
The Meaning of Randomness in Judaism

The Author: Ely Merzbach,
There are many phenomena in the Bible connected to the idea of
the random, generally in a positive light, but sometimes in a negative one.
Both in the Talmudic literature and in the Halakhah texts, the hazal (the
Sages) also relate to random processes. As we will see here, for them every
chance event has a clear meaning, usually even a holy one. In fact, every
culture in the world relates to randomness. However, from the Greek
philosophers until the rationalism of the 19th century, a process of denuding
randomness of its holiness has been taking place. In Judaism, a lottery is
not a blind process; moreover the randomness has a clear and profound
theological meaning.

Probabilistic Foundations of Rabbinic Methods
for Resolving Uncertainty

The Author: Moshe Koppel,
We consider several fundamental principles of rabbinic
approaches to handling uncertainty for legal purposes. We find that nonnumerical
versions of ideas subsequently developed in the literature on
interpretations of probabilistic statements are useful for explicating these
rabbinic principles.

On the Babylonian Origin of Symbolic Logic

The Author: Andrew Schumann,
The logical reasoning first appeared within the Babylonian legal
tradition established by the Sumerians in the law codes which were first
over the world: Ur-Nammu (ca. 2047 – 2030 B.C.); Lipit-Ishtar (ca. 1900 –
1850 B.C.), and later by their successors, the Akkadians: Hammurabi (1728
– 1686 B.C.). In these codes the casuistic law formulation began first to be
used: “If/when (Akkadian: šumma) this or that occurs, this or that must be
done” allowed the Akkadians to build up a theory of logical connectives:
“... or…”, “… and…”, “if…, then…”, “not…” that must have been applied
in their jurisprudence. So, a trial decision looked like an inference by modus
pones and modus tollens or by other logical rules from (i) some facts and
(ii) an appropriate article in the law code represented by an ever true
implication. The law code was announced by erecting a stele with the code
or by engraving the code on a stone wall. It was considered a set of axioms
announced for all. Then the trial decisions are regarded as claims logically
inferred from the law code on the stones. The only law code of the Greeks
that was excavated is the Code of Gortyn (Crete, the 5th century B.C.). It is
so similar to the Babylonian codes by its law formulations; therefore, we
can suppose that the Greeks developed their codes under a direct influence
of the Semitic legal tradition: the code was represented as the words of the
stele and the court was a logic application from these words. In this way the
Greek logic was established within a Babylonian legal tradition, as well.
Hence, we can conclude that, first, logic appeared in Babylonia and,
second, it appeared within a unique legal tradition where all trial decisions
must have been transparent, obvious, and provable. The symbolic logic
appeared first not in Greece, but in Mesopotamia and this tradition was
grounded in the Sumerian/Akkadian jurisprudence.