What did it Feel Like to Be a Jew? The Kosher Food Laws and Emotional Norms Among Ancient Jews
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Jewish observance of a set of legal practices constituted the most obvious distinction between Jew and Gentile in antiquity. Yet Jewish ritual practice did not only affect the ways in which Jews acted but also how they felt about their Jewishness and their connection to the wider culture. Law and emotion play mutually reinforcing roles in both shaping and reflecting a society’s values, an observation that invites the following questions: how did observance of Jewish dietary laws make Jews feel, and which emotional norms were involved in the production of law? The emotions of those who observed the kosher food laws were variously characterized in ancient Jewish texts as hate, a self-controlled repudiation of negative emotion, or disgust. The various opinions about how to understand the emotions that animate the dietary laws were all attempts to define the power relations between Jews and the surrounding world and address the following question: did Jews enjoy the power to integrate into their Greco-Roman surroundings?
Mermelstein, A. (2022, February). What did it Feel Like to Be a Jew? The Kosher Food Laws and Emotional Norms Among Ancient Jews. Journal for the Study of Judaism, 53,1–33. https://doi.org/10.1163/15700631-bja10047
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