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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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The Land of Israel in Pre-Modern Jewish Thought: A History of Two Rabbinic Statements

The Land of Israel in Pre-Modern Jewish Thought: A History of Two Rabbinic Statements

(p.271) Chapter Twelve The Land of Israel in Pre-Modern Jewish Thought: A History of Two Rabbinic Statements
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyses the history of interpretation of two well-known talmudic statements about the diaspora. The first has practical, legal, and financial consequences, pertaining to the right of a husband to be freed from the financial obligation stipulated in the ketubah (marriage contract) if he divorced his wife because she refused to accompany him to live in the Land of Israel. The statement of the Talmud is clear, but the responsa literature reveals that in real-life cases, justifications were frequently found to protect the rights of the divorced wife against enforcement of the talmudic principle. The second statement is of powerful theological significance, addressing the relationship between God and the Land of Israel. It asserts that God may not be accessible outside the Land of Israel, implying that the possibilities for legitimate religious life in the diaspora were extremely limited. Here too exegetical literature sometimes explained the statement but frequently dissented from it, showing that diaspora Jews often refused to be bound by the more extreme anti-diaspora sentiments of their classical texts.

Keywords:   Israel, talmudic statements, Jewish diaspora, divorce, responsa literature, God, legitimate religious life, exegetical literature, anti-diaspora sentiments

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