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Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism$
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Kattan Gribetz Sarit

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691192857

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691192857.001.0001

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Human and Divine Time

Human and Divine Time

(p.188) Chapter Four Human and Divine Time
Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism

Sarit Kattan Gribetz

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies the day and its hourly subdivisions as rabbinic sources imagine God and humans to operate within the same units of time. It concentrates on rabbinic sources that wonder whether God keeps time, and if so, whether God keeps the same time as humans and how God's time is used in service of them. In texts from across the rabbinic corpus, God's divinity is contingent, in part, on time. The chapter demonstrates how the unit of the hour became especially associated with God's time. God keeps to an hourly schedule during the day, has an active nightlife, and engages in tasks that sustain earthly life. Often, in these texts, God spends time performing activities in which humans engage as well, for example studying Torah, wearing phylacteries, and matchmaking, but God also performs tasks that are exclusively divine, such as judging the world's creatures and worshipping with the angels. These aspects of God's temporality thus simultaneously differentiate God in the heavenly sphere from those in the earthly realm and draw similarities between the time of those in heaven and on earth.

Keywords:   rabbinic sources, rabbinic texts, God's divinity, God's time, hourly schedule, human time, God's temporality, heavenly sphere, earthly realm

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