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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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Religious Law and Change The Medieval Ashkenazic Example

Religious Law and Change The Medieval Ashkenazic Example

(p.239) Chapter Nine Religious Law and Change The Medieval Ashkenazic Example
Collected Essays: v. 1

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reflects on the author's essay, written in 1982, which sums up their views consequent on their researches in usury, martyrdom, yein nesekh, and the laws regulating Jewish–Gentile relationships. The essay emphasizes the lengths to which the Tosafists went to justify communal practice. It also points out that this relentless defense of common practice went hand in hand with, indeed, was sustained by, the ongoing acceptance of the new halakhic demands created by the tosafist dialectic. Medieval halakhic thought, in fact medieval Jewish culture generally, can be divided roughly into four units: Muslim Spain, Ashkenaz, Provence, and Christian Spain. The essay focuses on the uniqueness of the approach to certain problems of law and reality of the Franco-German (Ashkenazic) culture, in contrast to the other three cultures—cultures no less creative, no less daring than that of Franco-Germany, but ones which chose, in the inevitable clash between need and theory, a path wholly different from that of the Ashkenazic community.

Keywords:   usury, martyrdom, yein nesekh, Jewish–Gentile relationships, Tosafists, communal practice, Muslim Spain, Ashkenaz, Provence, Christian Spain

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