Rabbi Aryeh Cohen

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen - Publicist

Minneapolis, MN, USA

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, is a Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University.

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Professor of Rabbinic Literature, Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, teaches courses in Talmud, Jewish ethics, and social justice at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University. He works at this university since 1995.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen served as was a Chair of Jewish Studies in the College of Arts and Science in the period from 1995 to 2000. Moreover, he served as a Chair of Rabbinic Studies in the Ziegler School from 2001 to 2005.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen also served as a professor at many other universities. Some of these include the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and at Brandeis University.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen co-founded a Hassidic egalitarian minyan, called Shtibl. It combines the passion of ecstatic prayer with commitments to egalitarianism and social justice.

In 2017, Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, along other rabbis signed a statement by Jewish Veg encouraging veganism for all Jews.

Furthermore, he is the author of two books: Rereading Talmud: Gender, Law and the Poetics of Sugyot and Justice in the City: An Argument from the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism. Also, Rabbi Aryeh Cohen co-edited the Beginning/Again: Towards a Hermeneutics of Jewish Texts.

Education & Reference

Work experience

Professor of Rabbinic Literature

Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University
February, 2009 – Present (over 13 years)

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, who serves as a Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University indicates that the Talmud, being one of the most influential documents in Judaism, is only one piece of its entire legal structure.


The Importance of Education and Going to The Synagogue

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, who serves as Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at American Jewish University, indicates that the education of children must be kosher, (that is, solidly and exclusively based on the most authentic and purest foundations of Judaism).

"... Why, sir, did you give one portion to your eldest son and two to the youngest? -Because the eldest is at home and the youngest is studying at the synagogue (school) ..."

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen claims that education is fundamental and it must be ensured that the children are educated. A man must sell everything he has in order to marry the daughter of a cultured man. In this way he will ensure that his children are educated. It is also advised, with special emphasis, not to marry the daughter of an ignorant person, because if he dies or goes into exile, his children will be ignorant.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen shares that R. Yehuda ben Yejezquel, in the name of Rav, said: Remember Yehosua ben Gamala, because if it had not been for him, Israel would have forgotten the Torah. At first, those who had a father were taught the Torah, but those who did not have a father were not taught, based on the verse that says "teach them to your children" (Dt 11,19) and the emphasis is on ' you'. Later they decided that teachers of the first teaching should be established in Jerusalem, based on the verse that says "instruction will go out from Zion" (Is 2,3); even so, those who had a father were taken and learned, and those who did not have a father were not taken. Later they decided to appoint teachers in each of the regions and they brought them together from the age of sixteen or seventeen. But, according to Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, if the teachers scolded them, they rebelled and dropped out of school. Until Yehosúa ben Gamala arrived and established that teachers be appointed for the children in all the provinces and in all the towns, and that they put them in school when they were six or seven years old.

The Talmud

According to Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the very design of the typical page of the Talmudic text denotes that tendency to ad infinitum argumentation, where only the prudence of the concrete case is able to say when it should be stopped. That is, when the sufficient approximation has been reached to solve the problem that arises. Subject to returning later to approach the argumentative peculiarities of the different parts of a Talmudic discussion, we can advance by saying that each page contains the graphic representation of the argumentative process; thus at the center of the page, there is the Mishnah (מישנה), the first codification of the Oral Law, that is, of the interpretive tradition of the Torah, with which the first body of argument is presented, the fundamental analysis of a biblical text of particular legal relevance.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen indicates that in a contiguous section the Gemara (גמרה) is presented, which is a group of comments made by different rabbis, known collectively as amoraim, both from Jerusalem and from Babylon, whose period elapses between the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. and that is constituted by direct, literal comments on the text of the Mishnah and even the Torah.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen shares that immediately afterwards, in a design similar to the structure of a snail, the comment of Shelomo Yishaq is presented, known as Rashi (ר acי) acronym for Rabbi Shelomo Yishaq; Rashi was one of the most influential rabbis in the construction of medieval Jewish thought, particularly its jurisprudence and cosmogony, he lived in Troyes, France, from 1040 to 1105. Rashi's commentary to the Gemara is a didactic text that clarifies obscure points , makes illustrative propositions and forms arguments that refute or support those made by the amoraim and, occasionally, return to the direct meaning of the Mishnah. In the last layer of arguments, there are the Tosafot, (תוספות), comments and arguments written immediately after the writing of Rashi's comment and that are always printed in the corner opposite his argument.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen indicates that the work of the Tosafists begins with Rashi's son-in-law and grandsons and continues for another two hundred years; This last series of arguments is the one that refers most frequently to the practice of religion, civil coexistence and community administration. It should be added that throughout the argumentative chain, the mechanism used is the criticism of all the arguments that precede the one that is pronounced; that is, the only authoritative argument - which we could compare with the positive legal text of our times - is the content in the Mishnah, while all the others, from the Gemara to the Tosafot, are rebuttable and in fact, none of these arguments is invincible per se.

What is the Talmud?

While the Western or, more precisely, the non-Jewish reader is used to thinking of the Talmud as a unitary text, it is actually best conceptualized as a system of explanations, interpretations, and solutions around verses from the Old Testament, particularly on the verses referring to cosmogony, religious administration and the coexistence of Jewish communities in the diaspora.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen shares that in a strict sense, the Talmud - or the Talmidim of both Jerusalem and Babylon - is a compilation of legal norms, arguments and legends compiled by rabbis from the ancient regions of Jerusalem and Babylon, between the 1st to 7th centuries CE. According to Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, it is also a source of practical law and a systematization of codes that update biblical law; On the other hand, the Talmudic text is written not only for the elaboration of scholarly works, but also for the consultation of any Jew in search of a norm of behavior at a certain moment or for the resolution of a conflict, already with the authority rabbinical by the application of a norm, or in their family and civil relationships with other members of the community.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen indicates that altogether, the Talmud is made up of 37 treatises in its Babylonian version - considered the canonical version -, each of which always begins on page two, the first one is always omitted giving the symbolism that the Talmud is beginningless and, therefore, in the end, this because it is a discussion always open to endless chains of argumentation. In fact, the spirit of the text lies in its argumentative mechanics, it is articulated from principles disseminated in the treaties - equivalent to fundamental legal statements or general principles of law - which are assumed as given statements that the specialist knows or that the lay person can be consulted and that lead to a series of arguments and counter arguments that culminate in statements that, by themselves, constitute new statements that are increasingly specific but never completely closed.