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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 10Jews in Early Modern Poland$
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Gershon David Hundert

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774310

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774310.001.0001

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The Ban on Polygamy in Polish Rabbinic Thought

The Ban on Polygamy in Polish Rabbinic Thought

Chapter:
(p.66) The Ban on Polygamy in Polish Rabbinic Thought
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 10
Author(s):

Elimelech Westreich

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774310.003.0003

This chapter investigates Polish rabbinical treatments of the medieval Ashkenazi ban on polygamy. The Ban of Rabbenu Gershom forbade both polygamy and divorcing a woman against her will. Its promulgation brought about a revolutionary change in Ashkenazi Jewish family life and in the body of law that regulated it. This Ban has been seen by historians as a key determinant of the singularity of Ashkenazi Jewish culture. Hence, analysis of its fate in Poland is a most appropriate means of examining how far Polish rabbis adhered to the Ashkenazi legal tradition. In sixteenth-century Poland, there were two approaches among halakhic scholars. One adheres strictly to the Ashkenazi tradition, while the other is more open to the influence of other Jewish cultural spheres.

Keywords:   Polish rabbinic thought, polygamy, Rabbenu Gershom, divorce, Ashkenazi Jewish family life, Ashkenazi Jewish culture, Poland, Polish rabbis, Ashkenazi legal tradition, halakhic scholars

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