Academic Year 2011-2012
Ruth was born in Moscow in 1979, an immigrant from Russia and a daughter of a 'Refusenik' family. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She received her BA, MA, and PhD in Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Ruth’s research, entitled, “Motherhood and Seduction in the Myth of David's Messianic Dynasty, The Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic Literature and the Zoharic Corpus,” focuses on Jewish Mysticism, Messianic Myth, Gender Theory and Psychoanalysis. Her dissertation analyzes the myth of the birth of the Messiah, and the dominant role of his mothers from the perspective of gender theory. The study examines the metamorphoses of the commentaries to these maternal narratives, including the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic Midrash, and Zohar literature.
Ruth teaches Jewish Philosophy and Bible in Keshet high-school, the Binah Center, Ein Prat Youth Academy for Leadership, and other institutes. Ruth writes poetry and translates Russian poets into Hebrew. She won the Rachel Negev literature award for publishing an original book of poetry: ‘The World Has No Silence’ [Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 2011], and is co-editor of the magazine Mashiv Haruach- Jewish Israeli Poetry.She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Asaf, and their daughters Halel and Talya. Ruth is the 2011-2012 Gruss Scholar-in-Residence at The Tikvah Center
Myth, Ethics and Gender: The Zohar—between Antinomianism and a New Halacha
As a Tikvah Scholar, I seek to examine antinomian trends and unique models of sexual ethics in Zoharic literature—in light of their roots in Rabbinic literature and their halachic and normative applications, as well as their influence on post-Zoharicand mystical literature. I will identify how the Zohar informed innovative halachic platforms concerning issues of gender, including their literary and political ramifications. The tension between ritual revolutionism and theosophical radicalism, on the one hand, and the importance of the commandments in the Zohar and its theurgic approach, on the other hand, will be at the heart of my work.
To date, research has examined the relationship between halacha and Kabbala primarily from historical aspects and in light of the development of adjudication and its influence on daily deeds. This study purports to discuss the spiritual authority of the Zohar as a literary and mythic opus with a paradoxical ideational contiguity, which presents a unique halachic attitude based on an encounter between human eros and divine eros.
My conclusions concerning the sexual ethics unique to the Zohar, and its antinomian trends, will hopefully contribute towards understanding the decisive influence of the Zohar on halachic thought and on the Kabbalistic, Sabbatean and Hassidic literature, which developed in its wake. Investigation of the meeting point of the three axes—ethics, gender and myth in Zoharic literature—will illuminate, from an additional angle the dynamic and fertile relationship between halacha and Kabbala in Jewish culture.