Academic Year 2010-2011
Maoz Kahana received a Torah education from a variety of Yeshivot. He studied Talmud, History, comparative religion, and Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Kahana's main area of research is Halakha and Jewish history of the modern and early modern periods. He is particularly interested in the relationships between developments in European history and the formation of the structure and concepts of contemporary halakhic thought and writing; in various aspects of the Responsa literature; in exegetical cultures; and in methods of encoding and evaluating knowledge.
His recent works have dealt with the formation of the halakhic thought of Rabbi Yehezkel Landau of Prague and the Hatam Sofer, and their relationships with Kabbala, Sabbateanism, Deism, and the Enlightenment
"The Scientific Revolution and Jewish Jurisprudence: Halacha and Medical Knowledge in Early Modern Europe"
This study will focus on the mapping out, understanding and analysis of the genre of Hassidic Halakha and its characteristic features. An attempt will be made to arrive at a fuller understanding of the deeper relations between Halakha and Hassidism: the broader problematic of the tension, if not potential collision between the two, but also the potentially fruitful interaction between mysticism, popular movements, the character of the individual, and the law.
The study will address concerns such as whether "Hassidic Halakha" is a distinct genre of law and what its characteristic features are, while exploring its connection to Hassidism's spiritual foundations. Likewise it will analyze its divergence from the traditional "Ashkenazic" conception of law as either a systematic or a haphazard development.
The hope is to reach a more meaningful understanding of the fundamental aspect of the historical phenomenon of "Hassidism," and a phenomenological understanding of the relations between the attractions of spiritualism, religious ritual, tradition, establishment and order.