Meet Our Faculty: Prof. Leib Moscovitz

Meet Prof. Leib Moscovitz of the Department of Talmud and Oral Law at Bar-Ilan University, who will be heading the Chair for the Study of the Jerusalem Talmud at BIU – the first of its kind in the world. An internationally renowned expert in the study of the Jerusalem Talmud, Moscovitz has been tapped to serve as incumbent of the new Rabbi Shlomo Goren Chair, which is being established in BIU's premier Faculty of Jewish Studies.

The academic chair bears the name of the late Major General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, a BIU 1980 Honorary Doctorate recipient and winner of the prestigious Israel Prize for his scholarship, which has contributed to the revival of the study of the Jerusalem Talmud.

Compiled by the scholars of the Land of Israel in the 4th century, the Jerusalem Talmud preceded the Babylonian Talmud (commonly referred to as "The Talmud") which was written down by Babylonian scholars about 200 years later.

As the Goren Chair incumbent, Moscovitz hopes to continue the efforts of the late Rabbi Goren to revive study of the Jerusalem Talmud. Moscovitz says that "The new Chair seeks to foster increased understanding of, interest in and dissemination of knowledge about the Jerusalem Talmud, by providing scholarships and funding to promote crucial aspects of research."

Moscovitz, who has devoted much of his academic career to exploring this seminal work of ancient rabbinic literature in the Land of Israel, explains that "numerous passages in the Jerusalem Talmud are incomprehensible, since many errors have crept into the text over the centuries. As a result its study has been largely neglected." This is unfortunate, as the Jerusalem Talmud embodies a wealth of information about Jewish law and thought and the rabbinic world in antiquity, in addition to its commentary on the Mishnah, which offers scholars a valuable tool to analyze its better known counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud.

Born in New York in 1955, Moscovitz received a BA in Classics and an MA in Ancient Jewish History from Yeshiva University, and rabbinical ordination from YU's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. After making Aliyah in 1979, he obtained a PhD in Talmud from Hebrew University. He joined Bar-Ilan in 1990, seeking to impart to his students "methodology, a broad perspective and enthusiasm for dealing with texts." He says that the strengths of the BIU Talmud and Oral Law Department are "its wide variety of scholarly approaches and sub-specialties in rabbinic literature (unparalleled in other universities), some of the truly stellar, world-class department members, the strong background in traditional Talmudic study of many of the students, and the personal attention given to students – one of the hallmarks of study in the Department."

For more information about BIU's Department of Talmud and Oral Law click here