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Collected Essays: v. 1$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113973

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113973.001.0001

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Halakhah, Taboo, and the Origin of Jewish Moneylending in Germany

Halakhah, Taboo, and the Origin of Jewish Moneylending in Germany

Chapter Eight Halakhah, Taboo, and the Origin of Jewish Moneylending in Germany
Collected Essays: v. 1

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents the author's essay on the relationship between the ban on benefiting in any manner from yein nesekh and the fateful Jewish involvement in moneylending. Jewish law strictly enjoins trade in Gentile wine (setam yeinam). Jews in medieval Germany lived in wine-growing areas and both payment in kind and trade in wine were ubiquitous. A report from the mid-tenth century states that a compromise was reached. Wine would be accepted as payment of a debt, but not as an object of trade. Surprisingly enough, the injunction against trade was, to all appearances, upheld until at least the beginning of the fourteenth century. Even the German Pietists, who castigated their communities unceasingly for every imaginable sin, make no mention of trade in Gentile wine. Indeed, the aversion to Gentile wine assumed the dimension of a taboo.

Keywords:   yein nesekh, Jewish moneylending, Jewish law, Gentile wine, setam yeinam, medieval Germany, debt payment, wine trade

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