CFP- Rabbi Joseph Messas: Halakha, Philosophy, and History

Michal Ohana's picture

Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.

Call for Papers
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Intellectual History, Jewish History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology


Call for Papers

The Ono Academic College Department of Jewish Studies


The Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East

are happy to announce a call for papers for an international conference:


Rabbi Joseph Messas: Halakha, Philosophy, and History


to be held on January 3-4, 2022 (1-2 Shevat, 5782)


The polymath R. Joseph Messas (1892-1974) was one of the most original and distinguished Torah scholars of the twentieth century. He was a community leader and creative thinker active in Morocco, Algeria, and Israel, whose writings provide invaluable insights into a variety of different times and places. On the occasion of the 130th anniversary of his birth and on the date of his passing (2 Shevat) we will hold a multidisciplinary conference dedicated to shedding new light on R. Messas’ activities and creativity


We invite scholars to present original, unpublished research on a variety of topics related to R. Messas, including but not limited to:

  • The halakhic writing and thought of R. Joseph Messas:
    • His methods of halakhic argumentation;
    • The integration of social and ethical considerations in his halakhic thought;
    • A comparative analysis of R. Messas and other halakhic authorities;
    • A comparative analysis of R. Messas’ approach and those of contemporaneous Muslim jurists;
  • The exegetical and philosophical teachings of R. Joseph Messas:
    • His methods for studying and interpreting Jewish texts;
    • His integration of Jewish and general knowledge;
    • His understanding of Judaism’s attitude towards other religions and towards non-Jews;
    • His attitude towards French and Muslim authorities;
    • His responses to the challenges of intermarriage and conversion;
    • His attitude towards processes and manifestations of secularization within the Jewish community;
    • His approach toward marriage, the family, the status of women, and children’s education;
    • His approach to Kabbalah and philosophy;
    • His attitude toward the sciences and secular culture;
    • A comparative analysis between R. Messas’ teachings and those of other contemporaneous thinkers in the Maghreb and the Mediterranean;
  • Poetry and Art:
    • His approach to aesthetics and art;
    • His views regarding the place of poetry in Jewish life;
    • The characteristics of his liturgical poetry;
    • His participation in the poetic tradition of medieval Sephardic Jewry as well as his use of modern poetic styles;
    • The multifaceted characteristics of the Hebrew language found in his writings;
    • Elements and traces of Arabic and French in his writing;
  • History, society, and culture:
    • The public career and activities of Rabbi Messas in Morocco, Algeria, and Israel;
    • R. Messas’ involvement in archival research and historiography;
    • Cultural trendsmanifest in R. Messas’ writings: the culture of the book, material culture, and aspects of the Jewish family in North Africa (including issues of childhood, gender, and the study of emotions);
    • Medicine, hygiene, and the human body in the writings of R. Messas;
    • Rabbinic versus popular culture in the writings of R. ­Messas;
    • His stated views on multiculturalism and aspects of multiculturalism evident in his writings.
    • Analysis of the local, regional, and global networks in which the R. Messas was active and aspects of movement and immigration in his works;



Scholars from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are invited to submit proposals for papers to be presented at the conference. Proposals should include a title, an abstract (350 words), and current institutional affiliation.

Please note that the deadline for submissions is Monday, September 6, 2021 (29 Elul).  Answers will be delivered no later than the beginning of October 2021.

Proposals should be submitted using the following link:

Some of the papers may be published in a special volume of Pe‘amim.

We look forward to your participation in the conference.

The Academic Committee:

Prof. Zvi Zohar, Prof. Tova Hartman, Dr. Michal Ohana, Dr. Hanan Harif, Dr. Jessica Marglin, Dr. David Guedj, Dr. Samir Ben-Layashi, and Dr. David Bitton

Contact email:





Contact Email: 
Categories: CFP