Yishei Kiel, Gazing through Transparent Objects in Pahlavi and Rabbinic Literature: A Comparative Analysis



The article examines Zoroastrian and rabbinic discussions pertaining to the legal parameters and definitions of a “valid” or “effective” gaze, an interest that is particularly focused on various cases of gazing through intermediary transparent objects. It is argued that, in spite of profound differences in the context and significance of the gaze in the two religious traditions, the rabbinic and Pahlavi legal discussions intersect precisely in their abstracted concern relating to the definition and parameters of the gaze per se and particularly the status of gazing through intermediary objects. Although the article makes no claim of direct cultural influence, it is posited that the dastwars and the rabbis (especially the Babylonian ones) were engaged in a broader legal discourse, in an attempt to define the underlying principles of the religious precepts relating to eye-sight.