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Collected Essays: v. 2$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113980

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113980.001.0001

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On the Use of Aggadah by the Tosafists: A Response to I. M. Ta-Shma

On the Use of Aggadah by the Tosafists: A Response to I. M. Ta-Shma

(p.101) Chapter Five On the Use of Aggadah by the Tosafists: A Response to I. M. Ta-Shma
Collected Essays: v. 2

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter turns to the use of aggadah by the Tosafists. It looks to Ta-Shma's contention that the Tosafists, no less than the scholars of Early Ashkenaz, invoked aggadic sources in halakhic arguments. The chapter argues that such arguments were, in most cases, an anathema both to the halakhists of pre-Crusade Ashkenaz and to those of the tosafist movement. Aggadah-based halakhic arguments appear only when no directive for the matter at hand can be found in the halakhic sources. In Ashkenaz, such arguments also emerge when the culturally axiomatic is challenged to account for itself before the court of the Written Word. In these rare instances, such as suicide in the face of apostasy or even the murder of children to prevent their being raised as Christians and suffer eternal death, the Tosafists drew upon aggadic material to justify the self-understood correctness of the long-hallowed practice of their community.

Keywords:   aggadah, Tosafists, Early Ashkenaz, aggadic sources, halakhic arguments, tosafist movement, Israel M. Ta-Shma

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