Babylonian Talmud, extract from tractate Shabbat, MS Vatican ebr. 108, 13th–14th century.

Project (2018)

Forgetting Knowledge in Medieval Judaism

In studying the Jewish Tradition, historians have prevailingly been concerned with the topic of remembrance and have seen forgetting only as a misfortune and a failure. But what if these so-called failures have been a prerequisite for the blooming of creative powers and for a necessary reinterpretation of the past? This project explores the role of discourses of forgetting and offers a first comprehensive study of the role of forgetfulness in Medieval Judaism. As such, it aims at exploring how discourses of forgetting were an important axis in the transformation of patterns of knowledge production and transmission in Medieval Judaism as well as a hitherto unexplored terrain of surprising intercultural encounters which took place upon during the Middle Ages—between East and West, tradition and innovation, Judaism in its various manifestations and Islam. In so doing, it wishes to transform our understanding of the dynamics of the Jewish tradition, revealing the ways it dealt with epistemological crises, its modes of self-transformation, and procedures of cultural exchange.