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Leadership and ConflictTensions in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History and Culture$
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Marc Saperstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764494

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.001.0001

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Ein li esek banistarot: Saul Levi Morteira’s Sermons on Parashat ‘Bereshit’

Ein li esek banistarot: Saul Levi Morteira’s Sermons on Parashat ‘Bereshit’

(p.140) Chapter Six Ein li esek banistarot: Saul Levi Morteira’s Sermons on Parashat ‘Bereshit’
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on Saul Levi Morteira, rabbi and preacher to the Portuguese community of Amsterdam in the first half of the seventeenth century. This community was at first composed entirely of immigrants who had been born and educated as Christians in Portugal — many of them fourth- or fifth-generation descendants of those who had been subjected to a universal forced baptism in 1497 — and who decided that they wanted to leave the Iberian peninsula for somewhere they could live openly as Jews. Because of their background, they were heavily dependent on rabbinic leadership for guidance about what Jewish living meant, including the limits of acceptable dissent. Morteira's beautifully crafted sermons, delivered in Portuguese over four decades, provided an ongoing programme of higher Jewish learning on a sophisticated level. This chapter follows the preacher as he systematically addresses, year after year, the many intellectual and exegetical problems arising from successive verses in the opening chapter of Genesis.

Keywords:   Saul Levi Morteira, Parashat, Bereshit, Amsterdam, Portugal, Jewish living, acceptable dissent, higher Jewish learning, Genesis

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