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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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Attempts to Control the Pulpit: Medieval Judaism and Beyond

Attempts to Control the Pulpit: Medieval Judaism and Beyond

(p.237) Chapter Ten Attempts to Control the Pulpit: Medieval Judaism and Beyond
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter shows the perspective of those Jewish leaders who tried to restrict the freedom of expression of preachers when delivering sermons on controversial issues. Beginning in the thirteenth century, the chapter follows this theme into the modern period and includes the Jewish communities of the United States. It reveals a structural problem of Jewish preaching in the Middle Ages and — to a large extent — in the modern period as well. Unlike the situation in the Catholic Church, where the authority to preach was fairly strictly regulated and preaching without authorization was by its very nature a potentially heretical activity whatever the content of the sermon might be, medieval Jewish communities had no definition of who was permitted to speak from the pulpit. In theory, any male Jew who was respected enough to find a group of Jews willing to listen was entitled to deliver a sermon.

Keywords:   medieval Judaism, freedom of expression, controversial issues, controversial sermons, Jewish preaching

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