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The law

• Divorce and remarriage
Between a passing mention in the Torah and the story of the Mishnah about the schools of Hillel and Shammai, there is annoyingly little material that deals with this topic. The few important instances: Josephus’ remarks; Qumran texts, mainly on polygamy; Aramean bills of divorce.

Some questions pursued:
— Two by two in the ark and other proof texts from the Genesis in usage.
— Josephus’ comments on the Pharisaic divorce halakha (all irony?).
— Women’s vs. men’s right to divorce and remarry.

• Oaths and swearing
Swearing and taking an oath were liable to leading to a gratuitous use of God’s name. For this reason, one shoud be wary of swearing too often or at least too lightly. Yet, it was also commanded by God that people should take oaths. The “trick” was how to do it. Compare the commandment not to kill.

Some questions pursued:
— Diametrically opposite halakhic solutions, e.g., multiplying of circumvential expressions of God vs. almost complete abstinence from swearing; their corresponding rationales.
— The commandment to swear correctly: aspect as demarcating between wrong and right in second temple Judaism.
— God’s oath and covenant.

• Fasting
Fasting was commanded by God and as such practiced communally. The (extra) pious also practiced a voluntary fast. Towards the turn of the eras, different patterns of voluntary fasting developed. A token of its significance, this further promoted fasting.

Some questions pursued:
— Fasting for forgiveness, for relevation, for a prayer to be heard.
— Demarcations between fasting, a partial (prolonged) fasting, and a strict diet (dietary laws pertaining to purity).
— Any eschatological meanings attached to fasting.