A Reply to David Malkiel
This chapter examines the author's reply to David Malkiel's criticisms. The essay begins by exploring some of Malkiel's underlying assumptions on how widespread deviance was in the Ashkenazic community of the Middle Ages. Malkiel posits the existence of a vast grid of religious requirements and argues that anything that is in the slightest way incongruous with this grid is deviance—whether it be more than the letter of the law demanded, less than the law demanded, or even simple custom, if the popular practice did not originate in the canonical literature. If custom is deviance, then Jewish life throughout the ages has been grossly deviant, as law provides religious life with only a skeletal framework. There is the widest variety of ritual behavior which is textually rootless, or rooted textually much after the fact. The essay then turns to the specific criticisms leveled against the author's article “Religious Law and Changes: The Medieval Ashkenazic Example.”
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