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Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature$
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Mira Balberg

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520280632

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520280632.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

The Pure Self

The Pure Self

(p.148) 6 The Pure Self
Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature

Mira Balberg

University of California Press

The sixth chapter examines the pursuit of ritual purity as part of the rabbinic ethics of the self. It shows that the Mishnah's idealized subjects are distinguished from others (mainly from am ha-aretz, “the people of the land”) by their attention to impurity at all times. This attentiveness manifests itself in constant reflection on one's actions and encounters, in regular physical self-scrutiny, and perhaps most importantly, in unrelenting reflection on one's own mental dedication to purity. Through the recurring theme of self-examination, the rabbis constructed one's relation to the law as entailing a certain relation to oneself. They shaped the Mishnaic intended subject as possessed of self-control and self-knowledge, thus turning the quest for purity into a quest for self-perfection as a subject of the law.

Keywords:   attention, am ha-aretz (the people of the land), self-examination, ethics, self-control

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