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Unformatted text preview: JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Medieval Jewish History Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller 1. 2. 3. 4. We deal with four distinct cultures when it comes to Medieval Jewry: Jews in the world of Islam (most numerically significant) Ashkenazic Jewry (N. Europe, N. France and Germany 9th Century period) Provencal Jewry bridge between Ashkenaz and Islamic orbit Italian Jewry - roots in Israel; cultural source for the Ashkenazic Jews Definitions: 1. History - The study of things related to the past. What is the scope of Jewish history? Who is included missionaries, Karaites...? 2. Medieval Middle Ages, middle of the Roman Empire and Renaissance; Also known as the Dark Ages. What do we study as a product of the Jewish Middle Ages? Can the Dark Age be used to describe one of the most fertile intellectual periods of Jewish history? We should view the Jewish Middle Ages in two different contexts: 1. The Jews in the Muslim world (1453 Fall of Constantinople) 2. The Jews in the Christian world (gradual exile of Jews from Western Europe to Eastern Europe). Perhaps we could speak of the Jewish corporate community, in which no one could just drop out of the Jewish community; rather everyone was either a Jew or a Christian/Muslim. The irreligious/non-frum Jew, as we know him, didn't exist back then. This quality didn't end until the Emancipation in the 18th century (an internal boundary being marked by the Sabatian movement at the end of the 17th century). All of this flies in the face of the theory of Ben Sasson (Between scholars, nobody likes dealing with the period between the end of the Medieval period and the Emancipation). Were the Middle Ages personified by the persecution of the Jews? Many of the works written by the Jews in this time period were named appropriately to that classification, though Baron, a premier Jewish scholar, fought against what he called a "lachrymose" (lit. full of tears) perception of Jewish history. The perception exists to this day, and was magnified by the Holocaust, and the new study of the Christo-Jewish relationship starting from Medieval times, and how that later affected the events of the Holocaust. There is a recent trend among Medievalists, especially in the 60s and 70s, that scholars must analyze the cultures of minorities, including Jews. All this, of course, was due to the Civil Rights movement. It is now commonplace among scholars to call the Middle Ages a Persecuting Society. A new movement doesn't want to focus on persecution, but rather the shared and mutual environments of the Jews and Christians. In order to examine the Jews under Islam, we must first take a look at Islamic attitudes towards the Jews. 7th Century Arabia: The Jews lived in the Arabian peninsula, centered in the city of Medina, focused on agriculture and commerce. In addition, there was a tribal organization of sorts among the Jews, and they created coalitions among the pagans. These alliances were valuable because of the elevated social status of the Jews. Muhammad (530-632) Lived in Mecca, center of Arabia, was of the Hashemite tribe. The Kaba is a center for religion and commerce. Muhammad himself was a Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 1 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller shepherd and camel driver, and married a wealthy woman. It's worthy to point out that Muhammad was illiterate. This fact is significant, because, if he was illiterate, the Koran had to have been received in some sort of divine prophecy, and Muhammad couldn't have just read it somewhere. In the course of his travels, he came into contact with monotheism, specifically Judaism and Christianity. In the year 610, he had a prophecy from the angel Gabriel, when he was told that he was the last prophet of Allah, and he was told to recite what we now know as the Koran. After this, he developed Islam, which has both beliefs (Iman) and practices (Din). The Beliefs include: 1) Unity of Allah (against Christianity 2) Belief in the Koran 3) Islam also believes in six prophets, the last one of them being Muhammad In terms of practices: 1. Every Muslim must affirm their belief in Allah 2. Prayers five times a day facing Jerusalem 3. Pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca 4. Ramadan 5. Circumcision by age 15 6. Dietary laws alcoholic drinks are forbidden, and Halal The first converts of Muhammad are his own family members. He was respected as a spiritual person by the people of Mecca, but people saw him as a threat because he rejected paganism the main religion of the anchors of the economy. Muhammad was persecuted, and in 622, he fled to Medina in what's known as the Hijra. In Medina, Muhammad encountered the Jewish community. He perhaps expected the Jews to join the faith, probably because the Jews are already accustomed to praying and other restrictions and beliefs very similar to those of the Muslims. Praying towards Jerusalem was another way for him to convince Jews to convert. The monotheistic Jews were perfect candidates for conversion. He enacted his own "Yom Kippur" of sorts called Ashura. A pact was made between Muhammad and the Jews of Medina. "Any Jew who follows us shall have aid and comfort. Such a Jew shall not be oppressed nor his enemies aided against him." (The Jews of Arab Lands - 116) The Muslims and Jews agreed to protect each other in the time of war, should one of the religions be attacked. (Is it possible that Muhammad was so powerful that the Jews of Medina found it worth their while to make a treaty with him?) At the beginning, it seems that Muhammad perceived the Jews as allies. The Jews, on the other hand, saw Muhammad as an illiterate pretender, and were upset by the fact that he saw himself as a prophet and the garbled versions of Biblical stories that he had. Some would like to explain these garbled stories as passed down orally, which would explain their cloudiness; others ??? would like to posit that Muhammad received his Biblical traditions from what we would call Reform Jews, thereby clouding the accuracy, and upsetting the Orthodox community. Muhammad gained momentum with pagan converts, and was less successful with converting the Jews. Therefore, in 624, Muhammad decided to pray towards Mecca Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 2 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller instead of Jerusalem, where they originally faced in the hopes of appealing to the Jews. One of the Jewish tribes surrendered in 624, and another in 626, who were threatened to die or convert to Islam. That second tribe was slaughtered in their local marketplace. The Koran doesn't have many good things to say about the Jews: "Wretchedness and baseness were stamped upon [the Jews] and they were visited with wrath from Allah.." Other negative remarks pock the Koran, representing the shift in Muhammad's views about the Jews, with whom he had previously made a treaty!! (Of the course, the Koran is Muhammad's opinion, it's the opinion of the prophet who fed it to him). In 629, Muhammad's first military conquest (Khaybar) concentrated on Northern Arabia. The Jews negotiated with Muhammad, and agreed to pay half of their yearly produce to him as a tax/tribute/protection (Is this worse than Teaneck?). Once they do so, they were treated with tolerance, because they kept the market afloat. Mecca surrendered 18 months later and converted to Islam. With these conquests, Muhammad succeeded to conquer the whole Arabian peninsula (see map). After Muhammad's death, the territorial expansion continued. Of course, there was a question as to the succession The Sunnis accepted the Khalif/ate (substitute), who weren't necessarily from the blood of Muhammad, but rather one of his associates or friends. Shiite Muslims argued that only descendants or relatives of Muhammad could lead the people. Muhammad's actions towards the Jews dictated the later attitudes and relations. As a whole, Jews were respected as a religion, but they had to adhere to many restrictions. If they did adhere, they were labeled al-ad-dhimma. Dar-al-Islam World of Islam Dar-al-harb Everyone else; restricted subordinate status The Pact of Umar Umar b.al Khattab was the first khalif of Islam. This pact was made between the Muslims and the Christians, also a respected religion among the Muslims. The Christians made all sorts of wild and radical concessions to the Muslims, including, but not limited to: 1) Agreeing not to teach the Koran 2) No building of new churches 3) No public religious services 4) No proselytizing 5) Any Christian is allowed to embrace Islam 6) Will show deference to Muslims standing for them, vacating seats... 7) Will not adopt Muslim dress 8) Will not sell wine On the whole, they were allowed to remain as Christians. (Mrs. Levin mentioned that although the document is written from the perspective of the Christian and appears as concessions, it was probably written by the Muslims and "retrojected" to look like it was a document of concession). The Muslims wanted everyone to know, that when a Christian was walking down the street, he would look different and subordinate. Muslim Customs Tax (from The Jews of Arab Land, 162) Muslims were taxed at a lower rate than other peoples, an example of Muslim Protectionism. Muslims were taxes at 2.5%, ahl al-dhimma (people's who weren't Muslims, but adhered to all the Muslim Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 3 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller laws set before them) at 5%, and total foreigners at 10%. Overall, the document seems very fair, and the discrimination seems logical. A very different tone comes out of p. 167 of The Jews of the Arab Lands. The Geonim 650-1 The Geonim make a takana that in a case when a woman claims that she's withholding sexual relations from her husband (moredet), we grant her an immediate divorce (as opposed to the Gemara which says that we wait for a year). R' Natrunai Gaon explains that we don't want Jewish women becoming apostates. Maharam explains promiscuity, or apostasy. R' Sheriria Gaon there was a fear that Jewish women would turn to non-Jewish authorities to issue a divorce. Was it the Muslim conquest that influenced this takana? Zoroastrianism wasn't looking for converts. Robert Brody suggests that this is exactly the answer. Islam was aggressively seeking converts, unlike the Zoroastrians. There isn't a separation between church and state with the Muslims, where the khalif has both political and religious power. If the khalif can affect a divorce, then we're worried that women will run off to Islam, either as converts, or as a religious power. Therefore, the Geonim made this takana. Until the middle of the 8th century, when the Islamic khaliphate shifts from Umayaad (Damsacus) to the Abassid (Baghdad), we don't know much about the Geonim. Until this time, most of the Jews were located in the center of power of the Islamic world. The two centers of Jewry at this time were in both Israel, and Bavel they were corporate communities: 1) relationship with government 2) securing internal discipline and order 3) establishing internal economic limitations and controls Practically speaking, the Jews in these corporate communities would be double taxed, both by the ruling body, and by the community. The community could also issue limits on trade, competition and areas of settlement. On the other hand, the Jews in this scenario are autonomous, and a Jew who would invoke help from the "external authorities" would be considered a mosser. For the Jews of Bavel, there were two realms of authority: 1) Exilarch Resh galuta: a. Deals with Muslim leadership b. Of Davidic descent c. Secular authority (king...) must approve of the Exilarch d. Not necessarily a Torah figure Bustanai The first Exilarch in Babylonia after the Arab conquest. A legend goes about a king who wanted to eradicate all of the descendants of the House of David. Bustanai survives (all of the males were eradicated, but a woman was pregnant with him), and the king is impressed by his wisdom, and appoints him Exilarch. Supposedly, Bustanai was offered to marry one of the deposed Persian leader's daughters. We see that the Muslims honored the exilarchate as quasi-royalty. Whether or not the princess converted was an issue of contention between the exilarch and the Geonim. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 4 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller The ceremony of installation was one filled with pomp and ceremony the name of the exilarch would even be inserted into the Kaddish, and he's treated as a royal figure in every way. 2) Geonim a. Responsible for religious aspects, including administrative aspects of religious institutions The sphere of influence of the Geonim extended way beyond just Bavel itself, and this was in their best interest. With every she'ela came a little donation as well. Understandably, there would be competition between the different yeshivot for these she'elot, and the donations reaped thereof. The spheres of influence of the Babylonian yeshivot extended way beyond those of Israel. (7th-11th Century) According to Sefer Hakabbala, the period of the Geonim ended in 1038 with the death of R' Hai Gaon (as Rashi is born). We see a move of yeshivot to Baghdad, with the Gaon as Rosh Yeshiva. The structure was very hierarchal the VP was also the av Beit Din, with 70 other appointed court members who sat in rows determined by their stature. Each row is headed by a Reish Kallah (Aluf) who sits in the front row. Other positions were occupied by those who knew the mesorah B'al Peh (see piyyut Yekum Purkan). In Adar and Elul, we had the Yarchei Kallah, which saw the yeshivot organized in full regalia, with 400 other students coming to unofficially shteig. Other than the yarchei kallah, it's unclear how much shteiging was going on during the rest of the year. During this time period, the kollel boys living off a stipend were quizzed to make sure they weren't home playing with their abacus all day (or watching al-Jazeerah for that matter). There would be lots of she-elot especially during this time period, and those would be discussed. The Gaon: 1) delivered the pirka, a homiltetical drasha 2) was in charge of tax collection 3) authored shu"tim 4) got involved with Muslim authorites (sometimes) 5) involved with liturgical questions do we say ya'aleh v'yavo on Rosh HaShana? See seder R' Amram Gaon 6) composed pure Halakhic Code a) Halakhot Psukot (R' Natrunai Gaon) b) The Sheiltot, which are legal discussions based on the parsha c) R' Saadia composed translations of the Torah, philosophical works d) R' Sherira wrote THE Iggeress. The Geonim had to deal with a number of issues of competition: 1) There was competition over spheres of influence in the peripheral regions 2) There was conflict with the Judaic center in Israel a) Study of Gemara played less of a role in Israel than in Babylonia i) Karaites were more productive in Israel Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 5 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller ii) Piyyut and liturgy were more popular in Israel. (This bears itself out nowadays as well the Eidot HaMizrach don't have piyyutim in their davening). Why would a community prefer either Babylonia over Israel or vice-versa when it came to leadership? There is definitely more holiness in Israel, and perhaps even a greater continuity of tradition. There's the geographic factor as well if a community is closer to one place or another, they will choose the more convenient one. There is a steady deterioration of the center in Babylonia starting from the 10th century. Pirkoy ben Baboy wrote a letter to the North African Jews trying to prove that Judaism in Bavel is more authentic; and there has been so much bilbul and persecution in Israel that no one can trust their traditions. He goes on to attack piyyutim as well. Although his intentions were pretty obvious, there is also a financial aspect involved as well. Bavel injected the one-year Torah reading cycle into Israel. With regard to mesorah cantillation, and vocalization, Israel was clearly superior. R' Saadia Gaon (882-942): One of the most important Geonim. Born 882 in Egypt; served as the Gaon of Sura from 928-942; spent time in Israel before going to Babylonia. The Ben-Meir Calendar controversy: In the summer of 921, Aharon Ben Meir, a scholar and Rosh Yeshiva from Israel, decided on a set calendar for the next three years (See Sar-Shalom). The calendar, once uniting all the Jews, was now on the verge of making a huge divide in klal yisrael. This, however, was the motivation of Ben-Meir, who was upset by the decline of the Israeli yeshivot, and wanted to assert Israeli power against Babylonia. The leaders in Babylonia have to deal with two competing concerns: They had to convince Israel that their calendar is wrong, as well as all of the communities in Babylonia. At the time of the controversy, Saadia, not yet a popular figure, was able to be very influential because of his experiences in both Israel and Babylonia. It went so far as people celebrating Pesach on different days. The whole thing eventually petered out, but was a great victory for the declining Babylonians. As a direct result of the role Saadia played in resolving the controversy, he was appointed a Reish Kallah in one of the yeshivot, even though he was a foreigner. In 928, he was appointed the Gaon of Sura, a community on its last legs. It was even suggested to close up Sura altogether and move everything to Pumbedeita. Saadia was selected to revitalize the yeshiva of Sura. It was feared that Saadia was too aggressive, and too resistant to argument, after people saw what he was able to do with the calendar controversy. Saadia wrote along to Egypt, his alma mater, expecting them to adopt him and his yeshiva as their halachic source, as well as target for the requisite donations. Ben Zakkai Controversy: In 930, controversy erupted between Ben Zakkai, the residing Gaon of Babylonia, and Saadia. Both Saadia and Ben Zakkai deposed each other, and many issues were raised. There was a dispute regarding an inheritance, and there was an expectation that a commission would be issued to the Gaon handling the case. Saadia didn't approve of this commission, and pushed this issue into the public sphere. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 6 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller The Exilarch deposed Saadia, and Saadia did the same to the Exilarch. At one point, Saadia's life was in danger, after the secular authorities became involved. Aftwe he remained in hiding for 6 years, Saadia was restored to his position as Gaon. Baron argues that Saadia had a need for leadership, and had an authority problem with the position of Exilarch, which he felt was unnecessary in the exile. Another scholar says that this whole controversy was indicative of the last gasp of a corrupt system competition over limited resources, too many Indian chiefs, too few Indians. R' Saadia initiated a number of genres of Jewish literature He responded to the Kalam, the philosophical speculation attacking the world of Islam around him. According to the Kalam, it is questioned how one can achieve the realization of God according to reason, while reading about God in the Scripture. The scripture gives one a more personal God, while from reason, which must sustain all claims, it is harder to realize such a God. Under reason, it's difficult to assess the unity of God, while Scripture talks about God in all sorts of ways. Free will if people don't have free In Saadia's book, Emunah U'Bittcachon, he dealt with these issues. There are different types and sources of knowledge; authentic tradition is a valid source of knowledge, thereby authenticating the Revelation which is an authentic tradition. Confirming Revelation with Reason is good for strengthening the believer, and attacking the non-believers. There are two classes of laws: 1) Laws that understood through reason alone (mitzvoth sichliyot) 2) Irrational laws i) Although we don't understand these laws, we were commanded these laws only for our betterment, and the avoiding of evil. This striving to a higher cause is surely rational just the acceptance of God's commandments and being rewarded for them (physically, or through improvement of character) is rational. This work is not merely a philosophical work, but a reflection of Saadias desire to be a communal leader. In addition, he was one of the first to compose a commentary on the Torah, often reflecting his own views in the text what's metaphor, and what isn't... Things like cooking a kid in its mothers milk he upheld by labeling it an authenticated tradition, passed down by eyewitnesses. He also published the tanakh in Arabic, perhaps a response to Muslim attacks on the Bible (maybe the Arabic Bible translated by the Christians). Saadia was also involved in composing polemics against the Karaites, further improving his stature. Saadia also brought the conflict with the Karaites to the forefront. Karaites are so known because of their focus on the Mikra. Maor takes a Marxist view on the rise of Karaism Karaites represented the lower classes of Jews, because the movement stood for asceticism and poverty. Alternatively, this could be an attack on the hegemony of the Geonate in Babylonia who forced their interpretations on all Jews without being challenged. (See map, p. 4 of Saadia handout challenge to authority happening all over the Middle East; already a precedent for the challenge of the Karaites against the Rabanites). Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 7 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Anan ben David (makes appearance 754-775) supposed to become Exilarch, if of Davidic seed, his younger (and perhaps, less learned) brother Chananya takes his place instead, and Anan is jailed, and set to be executed when he meets an Egyptian man who tells him to challenge the interpretation of some Scripture, which he does, and he is freed from being killed. This story was told from the Rabanite perspective. And that's saying a lot, because they went as far as admitting that he was of Davidic descent; though saying that he was evil and impious makes it sound kind of biased. What does Anan's Sefer HaMitzvot look like? He says that one should rely on the Torah, and not on his Sefer HaMitzvot. His tools of darshanut, and the expansion on letters, leave much to be desired of his claims of reading the Torah at face value. Where's the pshat? How does Anan differ from our Midrash? This late written statement attributed to Anan was likely written by later Karaites, retrojecting their ideas onto Anan. This statement is written in half Hebrew, half Aramaic, characteristic of later Karaites. Anan represents an attack within the home of the Geonic empire an alternative to the Talmud, written in Aramaic, and drawing on the same principles. Then again, why is Anan any more compelling than Rabanism, especially if in some cases, he's more stringent that the normal halachot of the Geonim. On the other hand, the story that we are told about Anan may be biased, if even true at all, being that if the story was written by a Rabanite, it will usually be polemical. There are two dissenting groups: Ananites, and Karaites (Anan was not necessarily the founder of the Karaite movement; but he definitely founded a movement of dissension). In the 9th century, the center of Karaism shifts to Israel, where it takes root, and adopts its new ideology of making the Scripture central to religion. The early 9th century leader of Karaites was Benjamin al-Nahawendi, whose job was to cleanse the Karaites of Anan's neo-Rabanite ideas. Anan was kind of an embarrassment to the Karaites who weren't so happy with how closely Anan mirrored regular Judaism. Al-Nahawendi wrote in Hebrew, and perhaps it was he who was the author of " " Daniel al-Kumisi proponent of Jerusalem being the center of Karaism. Karaites in the Golah should support the Karaite movement in Jerusalem. For Karaites in the Golah, there were more strict prohibitions, like no meat or wine. This group is known as the Avelei Tziyon. Moshe Gil sees Kumisi as the founder of Karaism, whose main foundations are: 1) Complete disassociation from Rabbinic teachings 2) Return to Israel 3) Intense mourning By the end of the 9th Century, the Karaites are dominant in Israel, and have their own "Exilarch" per-se, who represented them in the government. They saw Israel as more fertile ground for their teachings. Sahl ben Masliah "Epistle to Jacob ben Samuel" (pp. 5-7 in Saadia packet). Claims by Karaites against the Rabanites A polemical letter: 1) ' 2) Improper/lax observance (Rambam lumps Karaites and Sadducees together) Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 8 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller a) Rabanites don't wait long enough General lambasting Centrality of Jerusalem Attacks non-ascetic view of Rabanites Karaism is the religion of the people/ Rabanites try to impress the people for their own gain (Be reminded of the ceremony of appointment of Exilarch, in all its glory) 7) Rabanite law won't help come Judgment Day 8) Rabanites worship Avoda Zara they pray at the graves of the righteous, and do all sorts of weird sgulot. (Although, we in modern times don't actually pray to the buried tzadikim, rather toward Hashem, we can't retroject our Judaism onto the Rabanites. They may have indeed been guilty of this accusation, much like Lubavitch are guilty of it nowadays). 9) How can Rabanites carry on Shabbos? a) Challenge on Eruv b) Challenge on what constitutes carrying 10) The fact that we have a mesorah doesn't matter; each Jew is responsible for himself 11) Calendar Karaites set the calendar according the Aviv, when they see the wheat ripen. The Ben Meir Calendar Controversy was used against the Rabanites in the end it showed internal dissension which indicated a corrupt system. 12) degrees of consanguinity (Arayos) One who marries becomes halachically related to his wife's entire family. 13) Shabbos Karaites can't leave on lights on Shabbos "... " was interpreted literally. 14) Much more stringent about ritual impurity 3) 4) 5) 6) Is there a parallel between the Karaites and Sadducees? Perhaps one of the conduits of preservation of Sadducee text (from the Second Temple) in the Cairo Geniza (from the 12th century) was through Karaite interest in Sadducee texts. Saadia was the first person to put anti-Karaite issues on the Rabanite map. At the age of 23, he started writing against the Karaites. It could be, however, that Saadia's opposition galvanized and helped reorganize the position of the Karaites. In Egypt, where Saadia was from, Rabanites and Karaites were able to cooperate when it came to some matters. We must be reminded that the Muslims too encountered a lot of internal opposition and schism. (See p. 9 of Saadia packet for ktuba of Egyptian Karaite/Rabanite marriage) Stipulated into this most interesting piece of history, is the fact that he must not prevent or impede her observance of Karaism, under penalty of divorce. What this document does reveal is that there were marriages between the two communities in Egypt. By the 10th century, we begin to see the decline of the Geonate the centralization of authority in the Jewish world. This went hand-in-hand with the demise of the Abassid Caliphate which also began to deteriorate at that time. The Jews began looking for regional leadership; and Sherira Gaon wrote an impassioned letter to the Jewish communities begging for their support for the failing yeshivot. When Rav Hai passed in 1038, that basically represented the end of the Geonic period. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 9 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Sefer Ha-Qabbalah was written in the second half of the 12th century (1161) by Abraham ibn Daud. In one particular piece, he describes the succession of the Rabbinate. Ibn-Daud describes the decentralization of Jewish leadership. However, the question is if this story is true, or merely a myth? Does it matter? If, indeed this story is historical, then the dates are off. In 1899, Solomon Shechter published a letter found in the Cairo Geniza from R' Chushiel to R' Shmarya about how he got to Kairawan in a very smooth fashion without any slave ship or kidnapping. Ibn-Daud wrote his book to indicate the continuity of the mesorah, perhaps an attack on the Karaites. At the beginning of the "Story of the Four Captives" he prefaces by saying that this story describes the circumstances of the Divine decree that cause donations to the yeshivot in Bavel to cease. There are elements of the story that are already familiar to us the wife of R' Moshe jumping overboard, R' Natan HaChasid walking out of the Beis Din. What about the fourth rabbi? Why don't we know who that is? Gerson Cohen states that four is a nice number; perhaps ibn-Daud wants to help his own credibility by telling the reader about what he doesn't know to bolster the credibility of what he has told us1. Is this work supposed to be some sort of continuation of Iggerres R' Sherira? Cohen tries to rationalize the dates while they may not be the same dates as others give us, usually when ibn-Daud gives dates, they are accurate. Let us assume that the story happened in 4749, which would be 980 years after the rise of = 2 x 70 weeks of years. If the story occurred in 4751, there are 491 years from Hillel's becoming Rosh Yeshiva to the redaction of the Talmud, and 491 years from the redaction of the Talmud to the occurrence of this story. Cohen, for some reason wanted to retroject Hillel onto this document. Sarah Tzfatman, a folklorist, wants us to understand what type of story this is. One shouldn't ask whether this is true or false. This is a foundation myth how the community views itself and its foundations. Whereas Cohen felt that ibn-Daud worked very hard on this document, Tzfatman argues that this story was probably given over orally before it was written, and this probably happened around the time that the people depicted in the story lived. Ibn-Daud's perspective reveals a huge interest in the Spanish end of the story, and this would be the type of story that Spaniards would tell themselves as to how they became centers of Torah study. The curtain rises in Visigothic Spain in the 5th Centrury. Jews were already well integrated into society; in 587, the Visigothic king converted to Christianity, which began persecution against Jews. In 613, the king called for the forced conversion of all Jews. Some Jews converted and tried to practice some sort of crypto-Judaism, In 711 (see first map given out), the Muslim army sent an expedition to Spain, and within a few years, Spain was under Muslim control. In 732, the Muslims met resistance in France, and put an end to the Muslim's hope of occupying the whole of Europe. The Northern edge of Spain became a hostile border region, with both Europeans and Muslims trying to assert their influence. 1 See below, the story of Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf , who Tzfatman asserts is the fourth captive. Page 10 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Jews are chosen to be administrators of the Muslim regime, probably because they were so miserable with the Christians, that the Muslims were a welcome change. In 930, the Umayyad Caliphate is founded in Cordova after having collapsed 200 years before in Baghdad (helping to lead to the rise of the Geonim). The Caliphate was an overwhelming success. In 1013, with the collapse of the Caliphate, we see the Taifa (petty kingdoms) (1013-1091) popping up. Because of this instability, the Christians saw a new opportunity to re-assert themselves in Spain. The Jews saw themselves caught between Edom and Ishmael. Toldedo was conquered in 1085, and there was a sense among the Muslims that they needed reinforcement. Alnoravid Invasions (1090) they are a more stringent brand of Islam, and they were more strict about the integration of Jews into Muslim culture. There was even a forced conversion (attempted)... All of this caused the Jews to move to Christian Spain. With the Almohade Invasion (1147), it became forbidden for Jews to practice Judaism in Spain. As all of this was going on, the Christian Reconquista were busy conquering various parts of Spain. Muslim courts found Jews very useful; the Courtier Culture. Jews involved in this profession received broad secular and religious educations; truly Renaissance men. They tended to dominate in the Jewish community, and make their way into the Muslim spheres; often combining Muslim aspects with the Jewish religion. Why do historians find this model so appearing? The Wissenshaft had an agenda to create a modern historiography, to talk about things the way they happened. In particular, the Germans wanted to argue in favor of the Enlightenment, and Jewish emancipation. This model of "Courtier Jews" was the model that Jewish historians wanted to sell. Ashkenazic Jewry, on the other hand, wasn't seen to be so enlightened. Hasdai ibn Shaprut (915-970) One prominent courtier Jew. He found some sort of antidote to poison, and became a doctor of the Caliph; was appointed nassi of the Jewish community. He was involved in several diplomatically sensitive situations with the Christians on behalf of the Caliph. He had to translate a medical textbook into Arabic (being that he spoke Latin). This medical textbook was given as a gift to the Caliph from the Byzantine emperor this was a welcome gift, because, until now, the medical textbooks were in all in Baghdad, and this gave the Spanish Muslims a sense of autonomy and independence. Hasdai was also able to secure the protection of the Jews who were under the rule of the Byzantines. Hasdai was also able to conduct correspondence with the Joseph, the King of the Khazars, a kingdom which converted to Judaism to escape forced conversions to either Christianity or Islam. The idea that there was a sovereign Jewish community out there was tremendously exciting for the Jews. None of the non-Jews believed that the Jews were actually the "chosen people" because they never had their own kingdoms, and they were always being persecuted and getting into trouble. People also saw a Jewish kingdom as "atchalta d'geula." He acted as a patron, to try to end the reliance of the Jewish community on the yeshivot in Babylonia he brought all sorts of books, including a perpetual calendar. All of this helped make the Jews autonomous from Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 11 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Menachem ben-Saruq is brought by Hasdai, who composed the first Hebrew dictionary, organizing words by their three letter roots (the first one to do this). Dunash composed tshuvot, and often disagreed with Menachem, who he claimed failed to use comparative methods to better understand Hebrew (namely his knowledge of Arabic. This underscored a tension as to how much Arabic should be integrated into Hebrew culture. Dunash innovated all of the binyanim as we know them. He also introduced Arabic meter into Hebrew poetry (Dror Yikra, Adon Olam, Dvay Haser...). [That's why it's kind of appropriate that we sing to goyish songs.] Shmuel HaNagid is one of the more famous Courtiers in Muslim Spain. He served in the Taifa kingdom of ????. He almost defines what a Courtier Jew is. He is tremendously educated a poet, influential in the court, a patron, pious and humble. Supposedly, he engaged in a religious polemic with a famous Spanish Muslim, which was published. The claim represents a perception by Jews that he, of all people, was able to go on a public diatribe against the Muslims. He became vizier of the king of Grenada after informing the king of a potential coup (reminiscent of something?). He claimed to have served as a general on the battlefield. All of this flies in the face of things such as the Pact of Umar. HaNagid's Poetry War "War is at first like a beautiful girl with \ whom all men long to play but in the \ end like a repulsive hag whose suitors \ all weep and ache." He wrote tons of poetry, often paralleling his works to those of David and Shlomo 149 line poem; naming his books Son of Tehillim, Son of Kohelet... [Judah HaLevi the famous author of "My heart is in the East, and I am at the edge of the West."] Shmuel tries to bequeath his position to his son Yehoseph HaNagid. In 1066, after the death of Shmuel, the King of Grenada faces bloody anti-Jewish riots after he was accused of giving too much power to the Jews. No one has anything nice to say about Yehoseph, basically adopting the Muslim characterization of him. Cultural Context of Courtier Jews: Arabic society had reverence to the language of Arabic they emphasize the visual over the verbal. Muslim art is often beautiful depiction of words and letters. This whole concept is called "Arabiyya." What was the response of the Jewish people? Jews could either adopt Arabic, adopt a mixture, or do to Hebrew what the Muslims did to Arabic. This, in turn, increased interest in Hebrew, especially Biblical Hebrew. Yehuda ben-Chayuj ???? Avraham Ibn-Ezra (1089-1164) became a representative of this Golden Age culture. His work on the Torah was originally written for patrons. We learn from his poems that he was quite an unfortunate and depressed man; a wanderer. He tells of his threadbare clothing, and of his financial misfortune. Wine, Women & Death: Responding to the poems Surprising to see Rishonim writing in the style of gentile writers using the same imagery and style. What is the role of the poetry in context of when it was written? Were these poems accepted norms, or was this a cutting-edge new style. Scheindlin says that the poetry is inseparable from the "wine party." The poetry started at the wine party, apparently, where the Arabic waiter would "serve-up" some poetry, and these Courtier Jews would discuss the poetry. How could they have non-Jews serving them wine? What about the problem of ? The Sephardic Rabbis apparently ????????????????????????????????? Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 12 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Do these poems sound personal/non-personal? (Page 7 of poem packet) Moshe Ibn-Ezra's (not to be confused with Avraham, the Biblical commentator) poem is rather shocking, with a number of sexual references, and a gung-ho attitude towards partying and getting drunk. (p. 11) We see Ibn-Ezra now writing one of the "selichot." It could be that he's trying to make up for indulging too much in the heathen culture of the exile. At the end of his life, Ibn-Ezra says that his poems should be read allegorically, much like how Shir HaShirim should be read. Judah HaLevi (p. 8 packet) uses allegory (often used by the non-Jews)... Were the Courtier Jews comfortable with what they did going to wine parties, and writing poetry? See Dunash (p. 5) "How can we be carefree \ or raise our cups in glee \ when by all men are we \ rejected and despised." The question is whether this poem of Dunash represents an internal struggle within himself, or a struggle with him and someone else. Ross Bran, author of "The Compunctious Poet" speaks of how these Courtier Jews were torn in half. While they were the most cultured Jews in Medieval society, this poem represents the ambivalence of Dunash towards his job in light of his being a Jew. There seems to be critique by Bahya ibn-Pakuda about Courtier culture (see 1213). He doesn't seem to approve of the lifestyles that these Jews led. The poetry is just one singular aspect of Courtier Jewish culture. Another huge aspect was philosophy. Translations of popular Greek works were translated into Arabic mainly neo-Platonic works and medical studies. As these translations were churned out, the Arabic speaking Jews were exposed to the contents. By the 10th century, Muslims were already struggling to reconcile their religion with the philosophy of ancient Greece. When we spoke about Saadia, we discussed the anthropomorphic descriptions of God in the Bible. We are so "adapted" to assessing these descriptions as metaphors that we don't realize the difficulty that philosophy presented the Jews of that period who really believed that God had a body. Shlomo ibn-Gabirol was the first significant Jewish neo-Platonist. His basic belief is that God can only be known through negation "God is One = God is not many." Theory of Emanation God has absolute unity, and the world emanates from God in a way analogous to the rays of the sun reaching the earth. This was their way of safeguarding the absolute unity of God. They also spoke of non-spiritual substances soul and nature standing between God and the world. According to this philosophy, spiritual things are located closer to God, and material things are lower on the hierarchy. Soul is higher than the physical body... The ultimate purpose of man's existence is "freeing the soul" which can be accomplished through philosophical study. Ibn-Gabirol's primary work, Mekor Hayyim, is not Jewish in any way. It was known as a Latin work, and was assumed to have been written by a Christian or Muslim neo-Platonist (until recently). This is not to say that he was not a Jewish or spiritual person he has many works that are very Jewish. The cultural hallmarks of Jews in Medieval Muslim Spain are poetry and philosophy. Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (1075-1141) was very much a player in both worlds. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 13 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller He was born in Toledo, and after the Christian Reconquista, he wandered around and felt trapped between Edom and Ishmael. He originally spoke of Spain as the East (instead of Israel, which is usually the obvious reference) he had a very strong patriotism towards Spain. He decided to move to Israel later on in his life (see Intro to Sefer HaQabbala), a decision questioned by many of his peers. People thought that he totally lost his mind. (See handout) HaLevi feels that he's living a lie Serving the king is parallel to idol worship... He totally rejects the idea of the Courtier Jew but at the same time, he writes a poem of all things to put that into words. He made it as far as Egypt, where friends encouraged him to stay. What does he do in Egypt? He writes poetry, a hobby which is obviously very hard for him to give up. When he finally sets sail in the spring, he is turned back by bad weather. When he finally gets to Israel, he meets his demise. "My heart is in the East and I am in the West," is one of HaLevi's most famous poems, and it really shows how passionately he felt about Israel. At the time that he writes, it's unclear who will ultimately rule the world, with all the reconquista and the Muslim conquest and the Crusades. The Jews are pointed to as being left out of this whole conquest. HaLevi's Kuzari, also referred to as "Book of Arguments and Proofs in Defense of the Despised Faith," shows that he is critical of philosophy. He imagines the conversations of the King of the Khazars at the time of his conversion, and uses it to prove the worthiness of Judaism. The story begins with the King having a dream, with the King being told that his soul is pure, but his actions aren't pleasing to God. There is a Christian, a Muslim and a philosopher. The philosopher nullifies any belief in Divine Intervention, or in God's creation of mankind. The King rejects this idea. The Christian then speaks up, and he too is rejected. The Muslim rolls around, and talks about Muhammad, which the King rejects on the basis of the fact that Muslims and Christians kill each other all the time, which can't be pleasing to God. The common denominator between the Muslims and Christians is that they both make references to the Jews, so the King brings in a Jew, the Chaver. HaLevi rejects philosophy at the get-go. He speaks of a God of history, the God of the Avot, and the God who freed the Children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. He rejected the neo-Platonic goal of man, and said that man's purpose is to fulfill the will of God. He also tells the King that it may be that converts will never attain the same status as someone who is born a Jew; and some people see this as a racist ideology. While a fascinating figure, he is also an anomaly. He still writes his poetry, even though he rejected it. Ibn-Daud introduces Aristotelian philosophy to the Jews. In his work, Ha'Emunah HaRamah, he says that Judaism and philosophy are identical. His whole purpose was to harmonize Judaism with philosophy, as opposed to HaLevi, who tried to pit them against each other. He first introduces the Jew to the philosophy of Aristotle: a) All motion comes from a mover, and there is a first mover... b) The soul is not formed from matter. When applying these concepts to Judaism, he talks about the existence of God and the nature of the authority of Torah. The unity of God is necessary, and not accidental. God must exist, and God is One. Ibn-Daud grapples with the problem of Rabbinic Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 14 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller tradition as a source of truth not only with respect to philosophy, but also as an antiKaraite argument. Truthful claims are made by an authentic tradition. The origin of Rabbinic tradition is true, and the Rabbinic transmission is true to the acceptance of Moshe. He then addresses the question of free choice how can we have free choice if God rules over the universe? If we don't have free choice, how does God punish disobedience? He says that everything is determined by God, and we have free choice. Ultimately, there is no such thing as religious truth and scientific truth. Aristotelians believe that there is only one truth religious truths must be corroborated by science. We will see that these ideas will lead to major conflagration when introduced to communities not well versed in philosophy. In 1147-8, the Almohade Invasions began as a response to the Christian Conquista. Moshe Ibn-Ezra finds himself exiled after 1135 and traveling off to Northern Spain, and he finds himself in a foreign culture. He can't find that Courtier society; that whole culture can only exist if there are other like-minded people around. The most famous exile from Muslim Spain is the Rambam. He was born in Cordova in 1137-8 to a student of the Ri-Migash. They left Cordova and wandered in Spain until they settled in Fez, Morocco. The level of Jewish tolerance in Morocco was apparently higher than it was in Spain. There is some amount of controversy as to whether his family converted to Islam. The stakes seem pretty high how pure was the Rambam? Maimon wrote a letter to the effect that just because a Jew converts, it doesn't make them not Jewish, especially if one keeps a minimal observance of mitzvoth. In 1158, the Rambam began writing his work on the Mishna; afterwards, he was commissioned to compose a number of other works, including a work on the calendar that combined Torah with science. While still in Morocco, he composed the Iggeret HaShmad, after a rabbi contradicted what Maimon said about Jews who converted to Islam. This was very disturbing, being that of all religions, Islam is the most similar to Judaism, and doesn't require any Avoda Zara... While living as a Muslim isn't optimal, Rambam encouraged people to leave so that they wouldn't have to live as Muslims. In 1165, Rambam's family fled to Israel; they were forced to Cairo because of the Crusades in Israel. Rambam was supported by his brother, which enabled him to devote his life to his work. In 1168, his brother died, and the Rambam who rejected the idea of using Torah as his livelihood (sounds pretty hostile about the Geonim), started studying to be a doctor. In 1177 he's recognized as the official head of the Jewish community, and it was then that he wrote the Mishna Torah and the Guide. was written to the Jews of Yemen after a messianic pretender preached the imminent arrival of the messianic age. Rambam argued that preaching a new revelation was more dangerous than the sword. Jewish suffering is part and parcel of Jewish history, according to Rambam, but the tide will ultimately turn in our favor. The Jews of Yemen are unbelievable grateful for the help of the Rambam- they include his name in the Kaddish. Rambam also involves himself in the anti-Karaite crusade; being that they were very powerful in both Egypt, and in the neighboring Israel. He didn't want them being included in minyanim, or Rabanites visitng Karaites on Karaite holidays. Some Karaite Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 15 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller practices made their way into the Rabanite community, especially with regard to stringencies surrounding . Rambam became "The Rambam" in his lifetime; his works reached as far as Provence. There could be no ignoring his leadership, even in Ashkenaz we see the Smag quoting the Rambam. This is not to say that he was universally accepted many Jews didn't appreciate his blend of halacha and philosophy. To what extent is the Rambam unified or bifurcated? In other words, how closely related are the Mishne Torah and the Guide? The Leo Strauss (University of Chicago) school argues that indeed the Rambam is bifurcated his real ideas are in the Guide, and he only wrote the Mishne Torah as a cover to make sure that he wouldn't be persecuted by his peers. A-priori, we would like to posit like the Twersky school, which says that the Rambam is indeed an integrated figure the Guide and the Mishna Torah have very much in common. Rambam assumes contrary to philosophers that God has his own free will. Also, the Rambam accepts a neo-Platonic conception of the universe. Above the earth, there are the astronomical heavens with nine spheres, and above these spheres are a "Final Cause" of their rotation. The intellect of man comes from God by means of a tenth intelligence that controls the souls of people and nature the active intellect. The human mind is filled with potential, and the active intellect activates that. The ultimate purpose of the soul is to separate from the body and reunite with the active intellect. The following text from the Rambam (in conjugation with the footnotes) should serve to illustrate the theory of the unity of the Rambam: ,2 ...
3 , .4 , ; -, , ... , Gerson Cohen on the Courtier Jews (intro. To Sefer HaQabbala). Just as we discussed Judaism in the Islamic world by describing the rise of Islam, so too we must analyze the attitudes of the Christians towards the Jews at the time of the inception of Christianity. Crucifixion of Jesus What image of Jews does one walk away with after reading this account of the crucifixion? Throughout the Middle Ages, when these narratives were read publicly, the reaction against the Jews was usually very strong and bloody.
In the Guide, the Rambam mentions the same qualification for . When a person has nevuah, he becomes mixed/entangled with the Active Intellect. 4 According to philosophers, if one is fit to have prophecy, one becomes a prophet. Rambam, however, both here and in the Guide believes that it is God's choice whether or not people prophesy. This is a PRIME EXAMPLE of the unity of the Rambam he says the same thing in the Mishna Torah as he does in the Guide.
3 2 Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 16 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Who is Jesus? He was a Jewish teacher, preacher and miracle worker. The calendar that we use is ostensibly based on Jesus' birth. So he was born sometime in the 1st century. On the one hand, he states that he comes to fulfill the law, rather than to overthrow. On the other hand, once he commanded his disciples to pick corn from the field on Shabbos, against the wishes of the Pharisees. He responded, "The son of man...; while the priests emphasized collecting money and tithes for the Temple, they didn't practice in good faith. Let us be reminded that in this period of the Second Temple, Jesus and his disciples were just one of many groups trying to assert their version of Judaism. Christianity at this point appears to be some sort of Jewish sect. Jesus saw himself as a Jew, . Christianity as we know it comes to crystallize with the advent of Paul. Originally, Jesus preached to Jews, and they sought to "convert" Jews. Paul realized that this wouldn't work Christians tried to convince Jews that Jesus was the messiah. The Pharisees were implicated in the crucifixions of Jesus, as is written in the Passion narrative. When Jesus comes back, Jews are charged with deicide (the killing of Christ). Paul realized that the Jews wouldn't convert en masse, so he decided to preach to the pagans and various other gentiles. However, it was still vague what the Christian sttitude to Jewish law was. If they were Jewish, it would be tough to convince the gentiles that Christainity is any different than Judaism, So Paul says that there is: 1. Letter of the Law 2. The Spirit of the Law a. Because Christ came back and redeemed them from sin, only the spirit of the law was applicable. Jews were the flesh descendants of Abraham; but the Christians shifted the emphasis to say that it's important to be a spiritual descendant, and not a flesh descendant. Christians now said that they were the flesh descendants of Abraham, and the Jews are the flesh descendants of Hagar and Ishmael. They now see themselves as the new Jews, verus Israel; Jesus is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They read the Hebrew Bible allegorically5, and reinterpret history through their eyes. Now, Jacob becomes the father of the Christians, and Esau is the father of Judaism, which fulfills the prophecy of . Christianity is incomprehensible without Judaism. Jerome, the creator of the Vulgate, had to travel to Israel to figure out the proper meaning of the Hebrew words in order to make sure that all of the Christian prophecies would fit into the Hebrew Bible allegory. By the time we reach the 4th century, when Judaism and Christianity part to their own separate ways, Jerome will look towards Jews to try to understand Christianity properly. John Chrysostrom will take a different attitude "the souls of the Jews are the dwelling place of demons..." Chrysostrom is confronting a problem people go to synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday. People have to make up their minds and 5 The sacrifice of Isaac was seen as a Biblical foreshadowing for the crucifixion of Jesus. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 17 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller make the split from Judaism. While he appears to be anti-Semitic, his rhetoric must be understood in context he was trying to make the split. Augustine of Hippo Jews are witnesses to the truth of Hebrew Scripture, which in turn proves the "authenticity" of Jesus. Therefore, the Jews mustn't be harmed, because they preserve the Christian mesorah. He continues that the Jews must be kept alive, so that they can continue to be degraded and subjugated both as a punishment for the murder of Jesus, and as a testament that the Christians are the clear chosen people. The difference between Chrysostrom and Augustine is clear: Augustine believes that the Jews must be maintained as functioning members of society. When Jews are persecuted, the church will often move to protect the Jews, citing the Doctrine of the Witness. Roman Law in the pagan Roman Empire, Judaism was considered a legitimate religion, and they were permitted to do things that even the Romans weren't able to do. Under the Christian Roman Empire, starting in 313 when Constantine converts, he issues the Edict of Toleration, and the Theodosian Code, while offering a downgraded status for Jews, also offered some protection. The Theodosian Code was "gravely disturbed" with the fact that people were persecuting Jews with the pretext of the Christian religion. However, it had to be apparent to all that Christianity was supreme over Judaism, and Jews had downgraded social status. Like the Pact of Umar, Jews weren't allowed to hold office, or build new synagogues... Pope Gregory I, in "Sicut Judeis" canonizes these laws of the Theodosian Code the Jews shouldn't be allowed any new or overreaching freedoms, but they should be protected. As we see in the letter to the Bishop of Naples, the Jews were being persecuted in Naples, and the Jews protested to the pope, who chastised the Christian community for being overly harsh. After looking at the attitudes of Christians towards Jews, ranging from the views of Chrysostrom to the Doctrine of the Witness, and the connection between Judaism and Christianity, we can start to look at how Jews and Christians mixed. Visigothic Spain They were Aryan Catholics, and had close relations with the Jews. The Council of Toledo Jews can't have Christian wives or concubines; if there is an intermarriage, the child must be baptized; Jews can't hold public office; if a Christian has been circumcised (tried to convert to Judaism), he's allowed to return to Christianity. There's a sense that the Christians were drawn to the Jews; and even though these laws had been instated previously, they had to be reinstated, because people weren't following them. In 612, Sisebut becomes king, and enacts severely anti-Jewish laws Jews have to free all Christian slaves and give them property; he restores the death penalty for Jews who tried to convert Christians; Jews who are married to Christians were told to either convert, or leave. Why was he so harsh? Most Spaniards opposed this legislation maybe Sisebut wanted Jewish money; Jews were politically powerful in Visigothic Spain, and Sisebut wanted to limit their power. It would seem that this is less a religious conflict, and more a socio-political conflict. On the other hand, we have to remember that the Visigoths were converts, and may have had a lack of confidence in their own religion, that was only bolstered by the presence of the Jews. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 18 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller These laws were sporadically enforced by subsequent kings some kings were tolerant, and others were harsh. In 711, when the Muslim conquest came about, the Jews embraced it and that doesn't surprise us, because the Christians weren't such friends. This trend is very interesting forced conversions, either by Christians or Muslims. The Carolingian Empire We don't see much evidence of Jewish life, although we do see evidence of Jewish traders, Radhanites. Why are Jews such good traders? Jews always find Jews, and they can network... There was probably some sort of international treaty that allowed this trading to take place. Perhaps Charlemagne set up this treaty. In a late 9th century collection of anecdotes about Charlemagne, he is described as seeing ships on the horizon they are either enemies, or traders; and if they were traders, he assumed that they were Jews. Don't think that things were perfect for the Jews. Jews couldn't force their Christians to work on Sundays. Under Louis the Pious (814-840), a new office was created to deal with the Jews. He basically encouraged Jewish trade and settlement, and even let Jews build new synagogues and employ Christian laborers. Jews were allowed to trade in pagan slaves. Louis didn't allow Jewish owned Christian slaves to convert to Christianity. This arouses the ire of Agobard the bishop, who thought the Jews had too much power. Between 822-8, he writes letters about the Jews, encourages Christians not to sell slaves to Jews, he accuses Jews of dealing Christians to Muslims. Agobard tried to mandate Jewish subjugation, but nothing happened. In 822, Agobard baptized a Jewish owned slave. The owner refused to give the slave over to Agobard, but the "Magister" supported the Jewish claim. When Agobard went to the imperial court, the Jews won yet again. In his Letter to Louis the Pious, he accuses the king's underlings of committing these wrongdoings. From a Christian context, he seems to be right. But Louis didn't care. Why? We're talking about the Dark Ages, and Europe is starting an economic revival. And although internantioanl trade is dangerous, Jews deal with it and do it. Louis wants a piece of this trade, and therefore gives charters to Jewish traders which grants them all sorts of privileges. These charters were given to individuals they were more like permits. This exempted them from all sorts of taxes and harassment from Christians. Louis directly attacks Agobard by saying that no slave can be freed if someone tries to baptize them. Jews were allowed to hire Christians, and had certain protections in the court system. One interesting contrast between the Jews of Islam and the Jews of Christianity the Jews of Europe were immigrants, and not entrenched in society for many generations (like they were in Babylonia). The Story of Klonimus' Immigration (See Handout): Who is this Rabbi Moses? Who is King Charles? If Charles is Charlemagne, then the stories don't overlap (much like the dating problems that we had with Sefer HaQabbalah). A Carolingian, Charlemagne or otherwise, had the Jews relocated (invited them to settle) from Italy to Germany. Indeed, Carolingians encouraged Jews to come and settle in Germany. ' We establish the huge scholarship of R' Meshulam. The Ashkenazic Jews are trying to show us that they are superior to Babylonian Jewry, through this whole cutesy story. They also want to establish how Torah scholarship Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 19 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller began in Ashkenaz. This story was probably written in the second quarter of the 12th centrury. Both here, and in Sefer HaQabbalah, the characters come from Italy. It seems like this fits into the genre of "foundation myths" that we've encountered. We shouldn't necessarily read this as a historical document. This is a foundation myth for the Jews of Ashkenaz as Sefer HaQabbalah is a foundation myth for the Jews of Sfarad. Tzfatman points out that Meshullam is probably the fourth captive from Sefer HaQabbalah. Remember we mentioned that there were only three captives named, but Daud said that there were four captives? Perhaps this has to do with the fact that Daud was a Spaniard, and didn't care much about establishing the importance of Judaism in Ashkenaz. While the stories are similar, the stories are actually mirror images. In Spain, we don't know who this R' Moshe is, and he gets to Spain and turns it into a Torah center. So too, R' Meshulam, comes from Italy (like R' Moshe) and goes to Babylonia, confronting the , and winning. Why is the fact that R' Klonimus had a dream mentioned at the beginning of the story? This points to the tremendous respect that Ashkenazic Jewry had for their familial heritage R' Meshulam keeps pointing to his father throughout the story he had to consult with his father about marriage... This greatly contrasts with the parallel pervading attitude of the Jews of Sfarad. R' Meshullam snubs the king by not marrying his daughter. It also seems that R' Meshullam didn't remain in Germany; he lived most of his life in Northern Italy. His son, however, becomes a Rosh Yeshiva in Magence. This story reflects the exceedingly self-confident posture of Ashkenazic Jewry when it came to comparing themselves to Sephardic Jewry. Jews in Ashkenaz settled is small communities; so small, that Rabbeinu Gershom discusses what happens when there are only enough people for a minyan in town. Most people who lived in individual communities were probably related to each other through either blood or marriage. People migrated from Southern France and Northern Italy. In terms of numbers, by the end of the 11th century, there were 1300 Jews in Mainz (huge Jewish center). Privileges are now offered to communities; whole communities were offered favorable incentives to pick themselves up and move. One such example is the invitation offered by the Bishop of Speyer (1084), who thought that "the glory of [his] town would be augmented a thousand fold if [he] were to bring Jews." What does this document tell us? The Bishop of Speyer wanted economic development; to better that effect, he gives them: 1) protected grounds, to give them a feeling of safety 2) autonomy 3) tax exemptions 4) can take Christians as slaves and servants 5) allowed to sell traif meat to Christians, without it being considered an insult. (something that Agobard really took as an offense). These tiny communities, when they grew, experienced growing pains. As merchants moved into small communities, they would claim communal institutions as , or monopoly. When communities grew, competition was a problem. We see a tshuva of R' Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 20 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Gershom, where it seemed that the was not necessarily observed the monopoly had to be purchased, and was not necessarily inherited. This practice is not necessarily rooted in halacha, and therefore the laws differed from town to town. The main centers in Ashkenaz were in the Rhineland known as " Speyers, Mainz, and Worms. Mainz develops with the arrival of R' Klonimus from Italy, (as we saw in the foundation myth mentioned above) and of the Abrum family from Southern France. Worms developed with the arrival of R' Asher HaLevi. These towns were autonomous socially, politically and economically. The communities, while using local leadership, were led by Rabbinic authorities. Whole they weren't so savvy politically, the rabbi was one who everyone agreed with. They tried to protect their interests with the , closing the community, effectively, to newcomers. Newcomers were a taboo in some of these communities . "The majority is a steamroller." Minority rights, however, were protected with someone who felt that he wasn't being treated fairly by the community could stand up in shul, stop davening, and everyone had to listen and address the issue. R' Gershom was a prominent leader of the 10th-11th century 950(60)-1028(1040). Some say that he died in 1028, others said in 1040. Intuitively, it's neat to say that R' Gershom died as Rashi was born; which makes 1028 seem like a more historically accurate date. By 1006. we see R' Gershom responding to questions. He studied with R' Leontin, a teacher of some of the greatest students of the following generation. In Ashkenaz, as opposed to Bavel, the yeshivot were very small (tens of students). They weren't public institutions; they were centered around the house of the scholar. The image that we saw in the story of R' Meshullam, which mentioned some living space next to the Beis Midrash seems to be an imposition of an image from Ashkenazi yeshivot onto Babylonian yeshivot. As opposed to the hierarchy in the yeshivot in Babylonia, the situation in Ashkenaz was different. We read a tshuva where all of these gdolim had to agree on a psak (the laundry list of rabbis is very different from Babylonian tshuvot which we've seen) and the students protested the psak. Would we see such a thing happen in Babylonia? Perhaps the students had a different "local" tradition. In addition, the tshuva is very fluffy and drushy there's no mention of sources from the Geonim or the ... They didn't check for precedence; maybe an indication of arrogance, or perhaps an indication of ignorance. This was the way of the Jews of Ashkenaz of splitting off from Bavel. We don't need your traditions and your halacha. R' Gershom was also a significant communal reader, and made a number of : 1) Can't marry a second a wife a) Questionable why he had to re-enact this, being that it's already forbidden in the 2) Can't open someone else's mail a) Indicative of the nature of mail at that time; more of an issue for the mailman than for normal people 3) Forced conversion Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 21 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller a) It's forbidden to remind the descendant of a converso that his forefathers were conversos b) Kohanim who comes from converso lineage was allowed to act as a Kohen. Of course, " (1040-1105) is a major figure from Ashkenaz. He wasn't a native of the Rhineland, but in order to better his Torah study, he studied in Germany. This gave him familiriarity with learning, as well as intellectual and social recognition of what was going on in Germany. Rashi had three daughters, one of them Yocheved, became the mother of Rashbam and R' Tam; another daughter who married the Rivan... Another one of his daughters apparently is recorded as having a secular name, which is pretty interesting. Financially speaking, Rashi was a poverty stricken student, and though there is a tradition that Rashi was a vintner, it seems that this is unlikely. This trade is attributed to him through a tshuva. Dr. Grac"h went to the area to investigate, and felt that the soil there wasn't good for grape growing. We know Rashi as a master commentator he was the first to raise the difference between pshat and drash. His comments are polemical at times, especially when it came to refernces about Edom and Ishmael. Rashi revised his commentary during his lifetime, and therefore, it's hard to have an accurate text of Rashi. He influenced some of the major pashtanim of his lifetime. A Christian Biblical commentator would often turn to Rashi to better understand the Bible from our perspective. Rashi's perush on the was probably heavily influenced by his studies in the yeshivot of Germany. As a communal leader, he was adamant about communal authority obeying the mitzvot of the community is a mitzvah d'oraysa (even if there were halachic ramifications)6. The leaders of the village had the power of a . Therefore, people couldn't request a change of venue when it came to court cases, because the local Beis Din was always considered a . Relations with forced converts and apostates the first Crusade was in 1096, and many forced converts wanted to return to Judaism. Other Jews weren't so willing to
6 If someone would take an oath not to do something commanded by the communal authority, that oath would be void because of . Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 22 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller accept them because of problems like . Rashi makes a blanket statement of " once a Jew comes back, he's back. As a result of Rashi's effort, the center of Jewish life in Ashkenaz shifted from Germany to Northern France. Day to day relations with Christian society Jews employed and lived around Christians; not all Jews lived in "ghettos." Christians were involved in every aspect of Jewish life baking the bread and drawing the water from the wells. Jews often had secular names. In 888, a Council at Mainz forbade joint meals between Jews and Christians, which obviously meant that there were joint meals between Jews and Christians. Of course, these needs often spawned responsa from the Rishonim. Christian rulers wanted Jews around for economic reasons, and the relation was reciprocal the Jews treated the secular leaders with respect. They often mourned for Christian leaders, in one case even doing so on Shabbat (possibly because of negative repercussions of not mourning). Educated Jews were sought for translations, and Christian scholars were devoted to the study of Hebrew. At the beginning of the 11th century, a Christian deacon converted to Judaism. This shows that Jews may have even been powerful, influential, and desirable enough to attract converts. One scholar (More), talking about the Middle Ages turning into a persecuting society, stated that the persecution began for the Jews when the royal circle saw how much power the Jews harnessed, especially if a church figure was converting to Judaism. This would eventually lead to a general ostracism of the Jews7. There was an attempt by Jews to remain segregated from the Christians. The Jews wanted to be economically integrated, and socially segregated. In fact, the Jews would define themselves socially in opposition to anything the Christians stood for. This extended at times beyond the mere halachic imperatives for separation. On the other hand, Jews were very much a product of their environment in the Middle Ages. This is very much indicated in Rashi (Exodus 28:41) . -, ; , . He points to the parallel between the appointment of Aharon and appointment ceremonies in Medieval times. This is quite interesting - he sees a Medieval investiture ceremony much like the investiture of Aharon haKohen. Ramban attacked Rashi's interpretation on the grounds that it's outrageous to compare the consecration of Aharon to church practices. While they fought against acculturation, they were certainly children of their environments. In many ways Jews participated in Medieval culture probably while being unaware of doing so. There was popular animosity generated against the Jews, especially when it came to issues of wine and meat. Christians didn't like buying meat that was unfit for Jews to eat, so animosity was generated. Once a Christian touches a bottle of Jewish wine, Jews can't drink it; and there were Christians who intentionally caused financial loss to the Jews by touching their wine. Tosafos consider that Christians might not be " and therefore the wine may become allowed, but they wanted the to stand to prevent extraneous social interaction between Jews and non-Jews. In the end, they would permit the sale of , but they still wouldn't be able to drink it.
7 Some accuse this scholar of blowing this deacon's conversion out of proportion. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 23 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Occasionally, there were outbreaks of violence and persecutions. In LeMans, a Jew who converted to Chrisianity would wander around, and he decided to mess over the Jews of LeMans. He planted a wax image of a count in the middle of LeMans, accusing the Jews of using it as a voodoo doll, and the count believed the converso. We have no idea what actually happened, but we know that things turned out well and it seems that the Jews of LeMans survived. This was exemplary of the damage that Jewish apostates could inflict on the Jews. Jews were often at the mercy of the ruling class you have rulers like Rudiger of Speyer, and you have others who aren't so tolerant. Between 1007-1012, there seems to have been sporadic persecution in Ashkenaz with a rumor of the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchure in Jerusalem. People were willing to believe this even in the absence of corroborating evidence. There is a Hebrew text in 1007 that talks about one of these attacks; Robert the Pious, king of France, forced Jews to convert, and other Jews committed suicide. Richard Landes argues that around 1000, the millennial generation was expecting the return of Christ, and when they saw that he didn't come back in 1000, they figured that they would wait for 1000 years after Jesus' death. Many believed that the Augustinian Doctrine no longer applied, and when 1033 came, and no Jesus, the Christians cooled down, and started having parlor discussions with Jews about converting. That deacon we mentioned above, started publishing pamphlets attacking Christianity. Henry II ordered his clerics to refute the pamphlets, and to exile the Jews from Mainz. R' Gershom decries this pressure by the Christians to convert and bow down to the cross. This is his perception of the surrounding circumstances Judaism is under attack. On the other hand, we know that this period was one of stability for the Jews; so, if, indeed there was isolated persecution, it must have been very traumatic. Economic growth of Christian towns Jews lost their monopoly of being merchants, and towards the 11th century, the Jews were pushed out of the mercantile industry. As trade became a more desirable occupation, Jews were pushed out of trade and into money lending. Since neither Jews nor Christians permitted the charging of interest, when Jews would charge interest to Christians, it would only increase the animosity. At first, the Jews would take pawns in lieu of money. While lending was necessary for the economic development of society, it did create a religious backlash. We saw that day-to-day relations between Jews and Christians were relatively stable. What outbursts of anti-Semitism that there were, we explained as products of various events that were to be understood as exceptions to the rule. In 1095, Pope Urban II urged a Crusade of a unified army in order to conquer Jerusalem from the Muslims. Part of this idea was rumors of Muslims persecuting Jews in the Holy Land; in a sense this is a holy war, on the other hand it's a type of pilgrimage. By the end of the 11th century, Christians have a new militant sense; remember the reconquista in France, and the spirit of retaking Christian areas. This is also indicative of a very violent society, and the Crusade was a way of channeling this violence against the Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 24 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Muslims in Israel8. In an era of primogeniture, where only the older son would inherit land, conquering the Holy Land would help solve the problem of inheritances for younger children. The papal desire was not fulfilled: 1. There was no unified Crusader army 2. They weren't disciplined or organized everyone wanted to participate. 3. They weren't under ecclesiastic control The pope basically lost control of the Crusades and the Crusaders. There were organized armies that participated, and in 1099, Jerusalem was conquered. This force, however, didn't cross Germany. Peter the Hermit, a preacher, gathered a more motley crew, and in 1096 they crossed Germany, but for the most part they persecuted Jews in a very random way. His force, however, was eventually decimated by the Muslims. During Peter's preaching, he left behind some of the most unorganized Crusader bands, and these bands created the most trouble for the Jews. They were led by Count Emicho, and launched formal attacks on the Jewish community. While other attacks on Jews were caused by a lack of control, these attacks were directed against the Jews they wanted to wipe out the Jews of the Rhineland, either by conversion or killing. They were disturbed by the fact that Jews, the people who they believed killed Jesus, were living in their midst. So why go to the Middle East? Jews responded in a number of ways, and their responses are preserved in a number of narratives: 1) Mainz Anonymous 2) Shlomo bar Shimshon 3) R' Eliezer bar Natan Mainz Anonymous The Jews heard rumors that Crusaders were on their way in the spring of 1096. The spring was a significant time along the Rhineland, which was low and negotiable and was a good marching route. For the Jews, this took place around the time of Shavuot, which was a significant time for them. When the communities were told of the Crusades, there was a religious response, and another response the Jews gave all of their money to the Christians, and they looked to the bishops for protection. They turned to their neighbors and the bishops looking for protection. Some Jews got a letter of protection against Godfrey from the emperor (who was in Italy at the time). When it became clear that these efforts wouldn't work, Christians tried to convert the Jews. In very isolated cases, the Jews defended themselves. However, they mainly tried to save themselves through "peaceful" means. Crusaders basically said Convert, or die. Some Jews, indeed, did convert, and they tried to observe what they could, practicing crypto-Judaism in essence. Most Jews martyred themselves. Sometimes a Jew would choose to be killed instead of converting. Other times, the Jews chose to convert, but would blaspheme the
8 By the same token, any act of anti-Semitism could be viewed in one of two ways: 1. As an act of violence against Jews; 2. As indicative of the violent lifestyle that permeated Europe at that point in time. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 25 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Christians at the conversion ceremony and be killed there. Yet others didn't want Crusaders to have the satisfaction of killing them, so they killed themselves. They went as far as killing each other, especially parents killing children to save them from being raised as Christians. One man, as we were told in the narrative performed on his son, except that he actually slaughtered his son (he also made the blessing for ritual slaughter). The Midrashim that were composed around this time stated that Isaac was actually slaughtered this was probably a reflection of their own experience. Another account tells of people seeing themselves in the Temple, and offering themselves as sacrifices to God. Normally, when bad things happen in the Jewish community, it's blamed on sin. Instead, they saw these events as highlighting them as the "Chosen Generation," and don't see themselves as not having done anything wrong. They hoped that their blood would spur the vengeance of God on the Christians; not that they were killing themselves for this purpose. For this purpose we say Av HaRachamim, which commemorates the Crusades, on Shabbat Mevarchim for Iyyar and Sivan. Why were these narratives composed? To preserve the memory of the dead and the individual heroes. Who composed this story? And how is there so much detail? The author of the narrative says that he stitches together eyewitness accounts of survivors possibly the accounts of people who converted. Albert of Aix, a Christian observer, offers an appalling and horrified opinion of parents killing their children. So certainly that aspect of the story can be corroborated. The narrators are obviously trying to make the martyrs look as good as possible what would be their agenda in doing that? You could see this martyrdom as nothing less than murder; so they try to "dress-up" this killing in the most acceptable way as possible. There's no possible way to repudiate the martyrs, so the text has to venerate the martyrs, and make what they did acceptable. Jeremy Cohen, a recent historian, has pointed out a sense of doubt in the narratives. The narrators not only had to grapple with their heritage, but they also had to look themselves in the face they survived while other people killed themselves. This idea of "Doubt in Ashkenaz" is a recent historiographic trend; as opposed to the Spanish Jews who just converted right away, the Jews had a sense of doubt. Even in Ashkenaz, where it seemed pretty decisive when the Jews slaughtered themselves, there was a sense of doubt surrounding what they were doing. We raised a number of questions regarding the martyrdom of the Jews of the Crusades What halachic precedents are there for suicide in the face of conversion, or better yet killing other people in the face of conversion? Hayyim Soloveitchik attacks this while on legal grounds the killings and suicides were not correct halachically, their religious gut told them to kill themselves and their children. Whether this was an active thought process, or more of an act of ignorance (as one could assert from Soloveitchik) is up to the reader. This very much jives with the stories told in the narratives. Avraham Grossman and Ta-Shma say that Soloveitchik is anachronistically retrojecting his own modern halachic constructs onto the Middle Ages. How does he know that different halachic constructs didn't exist back then? We have a number of halachic precedents for suicide remember the story of the children jumping off the boat Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 26 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller in the Aggada in . As for the issue of killing children, Sefer Yosifun talks about the events of Massada where there was suicide and people killing people to prevent being captured by the Greeks9. These historians would like to take these historical precedents and transform them into halachic precedents10. This whole issue became a huge part of the Jewish community, both liturgically and halachically. There was a question as to whether to change the text of the " " ." They wanted to remove because they didn't want to have to offer any more Korbanot for the sake of martyrdom. How are we supposed to read these narratives? This is the subject of a major debate between Marcus, Chazen and Cohen as to how to read these narratives. Major Jewish communities in the Rhineland were decimated in 1096. While there were periods of quiet, peace and comfort, these Crusades were a huge contrast. By the 15th century, the Jews are basically expelled from Western Europe. What happened that caused the situation to change? Possibly, the first Crusade (ben-Sasson and Dinur) formed the identity of Ashkenazic Jewry, but changed the fundamental attitude towards Jews for the generations to come. Perhaps historians are predisposed to see the beginning of the end of Jewish life in Europe as starting In Germany because of the events of the Holocaust and how neatly it fits with the persecution beginning 800 years previous to those events. Bob Chazen has critiqued that school of historians: They assume that there was change in the aftermath of 1096, that this was a change for the worse and that events of 1096 were the catalyst for these changes. As horrible as the Crusades were, the violence was relatively restricted and the vast majority of Western European Jewish communities were unaffected by the Crusades. Even after 1096, the population grew with a vigor that didn't exist before 1096. Jewish economic activity grew during the 12th century. Within a few months after the Crusades, Jewish life returned to normal (much like life in NY returned to normal after 9/11). If the Jews were decimated, how did the intellectual vitality remain so high. Look at the Ba'alei haTosafot who came out of the woodwork after the first Crusade! Grossman admits that while the destruction may have been minimal, the destruction of the major cities of Worms, Mainz and Cologne had a decimating effect on the significance of the Jewish population in Ashkenaz. Soloveitchik says that the centers did shift after the first Crusade, but that had nothing to do with the first Crusade those centers would have declined irrespective of the Crusades. Consider the second Crusade Sefer Zechira11 says that some Jews were killed, but when Jews stayed put in their towns, they were safe. When it was suggested by some monk to slaughter Jews once again, Bernard of Clairvaux shunned that monk, and wanted to prevent the violence of the first Crusade.
9 The fact that this work comes from Italy and that Ashkenazic Jewry emanates from Italy, and the Italians came from Eretz Yisrael strengthens the argument. 10 Possible essay question how much do these opposing theories actually fit into the narrative that we read (Mainz Anonymous)? 11 There is discussion about the limited role of women in martyrdom in Sefer Zechira as opposed to the woman martyrs of the first Crusade. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 27 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Chazen, does however, admit to a new cohesiveness on the part of the Christians, and an advanced awareness on the part of the Christians of the non-believers and heretics among them. As much as the Jews rejected their Christian surrounding, they did so with the same vitality that the Christians had during the Crusades. On the other hand, they did participate in Christian culture the images of heaven in the Mainz narrative were Christian images. As the Jews became martyred, there was a sense that they articulated their intentions so that the world would know what their intent was. There is a new sense of intentionality that was making a rise in the outside Christian environment; and we see that reflected among the Jews in the Mainz narrative. It doesn't matter whether or not you perform the act; it matters why you perform that act. By the same token, it seems that the Jews adopted the Crusading spirit of the Christians in their counter-Crusade and in their martyrdom. As for the accounts of the first Crusade, the whole of idea of recording these events was a relatively new one, and it happened among Latin authors as well. People are depicted as individuals in these stories, and they are given names. No one general story is told to be true for all Jews; each individual chose how they were going to behave. This could be indicative of the new sense of individualism in Medieval Europe. Diachronic/Synchronic Precedents in history versus present reality. The bloody accounts of the martyrs of the First Crusades are seen by Yisrael Yuval as trying to arouse the anger of God to hasten the moment when He would avenge the blood of the Christians. When taking a closer look at the narrative, we see that they didn't martyr themselves specifically to hasten the punishment of Christians. The 12th century is a period of economic, social and religious development in Northern Europe to the extent that historians speak of a 12th century Renaissance. This is possibly reactionary to the predominant view of the middle ages as the Dark Ages. Indeed, there was a period of growth and development in Jewish culture as well. While this is going on in Ashkenaz, we also can't forget the parallel development of Kabbalah in Spain and Provence, and the fact that two different spiritual avenues were developing at this time. As Avraham Grossman noted, there were changes in the way the Jews of Ashkenaz learned after the Crusades, and this was mainly caused by the rise of the Tosafists, the grandsons of " . These include R' Tam (d. 1171), R' Yitzchak Dampierre (d. 1198) and R' Shmishon ben Avraham (Rash MiShantz). They managed to take the whole corpus of the Talmud, and resolved to make a way to resolve every contradiction in the Talmud with their original dialectical method. This way of studying was completely unprecedented, at least since the times of the Talmud itself. In the eyes of Soloveitchik, this was revolutionary. Grossman said that this methodology had pre-Crusade antecedents in the 11th century. The main question is if the Crusades had destroyed a previously existing way of learning; and therefore whether indeed the Tosafists came up with this new novel way of learning. This question will revolve around the argument over when this way of learning was created. Why would this movement occur right now at this time and this place? Christian canon lawyers were applying similar methodologies to their own work at the very same time. On the other hand, we don't have any evidence to support contact Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 28 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller between Christian canon lawyers and Jewish scholars. The centers of the Ba'alei HaTosafot, however, were geographically very close to the centers of canon law dialectic. We have a sense that there was a continual casual polemic between Jews and Christians at these times, but nothing more. Whereas the Jews flourished in the Rhineland, there were never any real leaders there. Even " went elsewhere to study. Jews wouldn't go to school to study; they would study with the individual Ba'alei HaTosafot. Karnefogel points out that this was a developing trend in Christendom as well; they would go to study with individuals. How do we understand these similarities? Perhaps there was contact that wasn't reported, or that there was third party influence, or that we're dealing with a Zeitgeist issue, and this way of learning was the spirit of the times. Another very unique aspect of the Tosafists is the attitude towards minhag. The Ashkenazic communities saw minhag as law. The Tosafists treated minhag the same way, and they treated minhag as halachic texts. They strove to follow their minhagim, even if they contradicted the halacha, by reinterpreting texts... One of the issues that they confronted had to do with interaction with Christians. The Tosafists didn't tell the Jews not to deal with Christians; they reinterpreted the law to fit with the accepted communal practices. Take the first in Avoda Zara You can't do business with an " three days before their holidays. Tosafos reconciles the business dealings of Jews with Christians12 by saying that if we didn't do business with the Christians, they would hate us " ". He rejects this possibility in classic dialectical fashion13, and concludes that Christians aren't actual idol worshippers. R' Tam ostensibly rejects these answers, and points to complete compliance with the , which has to be reread to fit in with the accepted minhag. And even if Christians are idol worshippers, they only offer money as offerings, and not animals.14 The Maharsha"l described the activity of the Tosafists as making the Talmud into one big ball the yeshiva would have 63 students, each one who was an expert in each tractate, and they would go through sugyot and ask if anyone had contradictions. The yeshivot were very home-like; Breuer wrote on the archaeology of one of these yeshivot, and he said that they were very small. In addition to this intellectual development, there is a spiritual revolution spawned by R' Yehuda haChassid German Pietism. This was a group of people led by R' Yehuda who had new ideas about God worship, and he published this in his Sefer Chassidim. This book is known to use from MS Parma and MS Bologna; quite a bit overlaps from these books, but they both complement each other very well. R' Yehuda had revolutionary ideas about worshipping Hashem. 613 mitzvos was the tip of the iceberg for him, and he saw the Will of God as being far more encompaasing that anything described in our canonized texts, but it was never revealed. The job of the Chassid was to try to find the will of God, and observe it.
12 13 Assuming, of course, that Christians are idolaters. is an appropriate reason for loans and borrowing; but for business, if we don't patronize non-Jewish establishments on their holidays, will that create such resentment? 14 - I posed a dialectical question of my own on Tosafos If Christianity isn't considered idol worship, how would he justify all the martyrdoms on the basis that Christianity is idolatry? Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 29 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Judaism isn't about following the law; one must think before one does, and always be thinking about what could have been done. We have to think about what God really wants from us, and if we don't figure that out, we'll be punished. Some have compared R' Yehuda's view of as similar to the Christian deius volt. Was this movement affected or influenced by the Christians? He used many anecdotal examples as opposed to writing his book as a code. This was meant to make the book more accessible to the lay people out there. R' Yehuda was a member of the Klonimus family (founders of Ashkenaz) and his family was also a repository of the mystical knowledge of Ashkenaz. They invoked their mystical tendencies in davening they felt that one had to concentrate on the letters, and count the letters in each passage. He sees his Chassidim as a persecuted minority in their communities; everyone else is wicked and practices the wrong way. On the other hand, it's not clear how large the group actually was. From SHP 1620, we see that they had the smaller synagogue, whereas the wealthy and prominent prayed in the larger synagogue without the whole letter counting business. SH is meant to be a manual for daily living, including prioritization when it comes to the giving of charity. SH gives many practical examples of precedence that were never mentioned before new relevant scenarios. Righteous/wicked are terms used for sectarian definition15 in this case, and do not refer to the distinction between good/evil. In trying to figure out the will of God, one of the authorities that the chassid should turn to is the chacham, who figures prominently in SH. The Chacham gives advice about where a person should move you shouldn't move to where there are many Christians... There is a sense of trans-generational punishments and merits. SH is not necessarily a halachic book. One of the more striking elements in this Chassidut is confession to the chacham and the subsequent issuance of penance by the chacham. There are two types of penance , when a person arrives in a situation where he could have sinned, but he doesn't; a tale is told of three sinners who came before the chacham, and told of putting themselves in a position to sin, but didn't sin in the end. There seems to be some sort of positive religious value to this practice, but the chacham wasn't sure to make of this repentance. is the other type of repentance doing some sort of active physical suffering as an act of repentance.16 Where do these types of repentance come from? Do we look back to ancient Jewish materials, or do we look to contemporary Christian actions? In the , we see examples of individual ascetics, and these traditions may have been preserved from the roots of Chassidut Ashkenaz which has its roots in Italy which has mesorah from Israel (Ivan Marcus). Yitzchak Baer noticed that this feels very Christian. Talya Fishman argues that there may be a reason why Chassidim picked up on this practice at this particular time. The church was not particularly enamored with penitential practices. It's only in the 11th century that the penitential practice is canonized. There is no way the Chassidim would actively adopt a Christian minhag. But
15 16 Righteous = member of Chassidut Ashkenaz; Evil = non-member Bathing in ice water in the winter, laying in a ditch filled with ants and fasting (SHP 19). Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 30 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller it's being talked about a lot and the Chassidim may have picked up on that spirit. It's ironic that this practice derived from the Irish monks, who derive some Jewish traditions from Palestine it may be that this practice was Jewish to begin with. One of the hallmarks of the Chassidim is their avoidance of the Christian environment. They felt very strongly about not taking church objects as pawns, not singing church melodies, not using Christian parchment,17 not mentioning the name of Christian saints... In a time characterized by popular Germanic superstitions, the Chassidim believed that the dead were still part of the community. The foundation myth we had read about Ashkenazic Jewry (a while ago) was actually written by Chassidei Ashkenaz, who are trying to remind their people that they are the transmitters of halacha, and that once upon a time, they were important people. Part of the movement of the Chassidim being pushed under the water was the Tosafistic revolution. It was no longer lineage that made one important, but rather intellectual study. Thus, despite the illustrious heritage of the Chassidim, it was the leaders of study in the dialectical realm who were becoming the true community leaders. The Chassidim saw the Tosafists as arrogant, asking questions on the Torah with their "Christian" dialectical method just for the cleverness of it. Hayyim Soloveitchik sees this opposition more as part of the power struggle between the Chassidim and the Tosafists, and less as a halachic challenge to their methodology. SH is "chock full" of interesting things about daily life in Ashkenaz, and it's written in fairly simple Hebrew. How influential were the Chassidim? Probably not tremendously; R' Yehuda HaChassid has a radical sectarian notion he wants to separate from the community entirely. Rokeach tries to tone down more of the extreme elements of the Chassidut. Most Chassidim didn't live by the book; they mostly adopted just the doctrines of penance, and not all of the crazy minhagim of SH. In Northern France, there is a development that leads to the search for pshat. What are the reasons for this? The 12th century renaissance leads to a greater sense of rationalism; there were reactions to the Christian claims about the Torah; and the French Jews were responding to the new interest in Hebrew in Spain. The major pashtanim were R' Yosef Kara, Rashbam, and R' Yosef . R' Yosef Kara is associated with, well, mikra. He insisted that pshat is the correct way to understand the word of God the Torah was given as the Torah, without need for Midrash. He's not in the least bit interested in Midrash; pshat is the real way of learning. He also tries to limit supernatural interpretations of miracles. Rashbam is the most independent of the traditions of Chazal. Being a Talmudist and halachist, he may have felt that he had the authority to do so. He was very conscious of the work of his grandfather, though he didn't always feel that " was correct. He likes to explain things according to context and derech eretz. Some passages in the Bible were really at the crux of the Judeo-Christian debate. We see Rashbam's polemical interpretation of " " The kingship will not sway from the tribe Judah until the times of Shilo, i.e. until the conflict between Yisrael and Yehuda, when the kingship splits. Rashbam points out that this is
17 Even for receipts or secular documents. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 31 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller the meaning of Shiloh to the exclusion of all other meanings as the Christians would interpet Shiloh, it seems to refer to the Messiah. In this interpretation, we can see the Christian interpretation weighing pretty heavily. Finally, R' Yosef Bchor Shor (1130-1200) is an additional pashtan who composed a commentary on the Torah and on Psalms. He draws very heavily on contextual interpretation texts are connected, and often build on each other. In addition, he tends to explain miracles rationally Lot's wife turning into salt was merely an indication that she was caught in whatever plague or punishment that the people in Sodom were given. More interestingly, he also gives many psychological explanations he marries the daughter of Potiphar so that if Pharaoh would depose him Bchor Shor is the most polemical of all of the pashtanim, and radically opposes allegorical interpretation. He says that while the Torah may have been translated into other languages allowing the goyim to understand it, " " ... ." He is also fairly aggressive in his reading of the text, attacking the Christian mode of reading the Bible, and on occasion, making fun of Christian practices. He makes fun of the whole ceremony of the Eucharist, mocking the fact that they drink the blood of Jesus year round, diminishing the significance of that deity. We must also be reminded that this is an age of polemics between Jews and Christians, with public debates and books published all the time of polemical nature. This was both a conflict of interest, and an indication of a new attitude of the "marketplace of ideas" for the furthering of intellectual study. Indeed, not all of the polemics were of polemical nature Jews and Christians shared common texts, and would discuss them. Sefer Nitzachon HaYashan pushed Jews to initiate conversations with Christians about differing interpretations of the text, and not let the Christians sidestep the issue or change the topic. Some of the things contained in the polemical manuals are "exegetical polemic"18 and some are "theological polemic" (as we previously stated). These handbooks were written for "community maintenance," and not necessarily as polemic instruction manuals. They needed all the answers for themselves as much as they needed them for the Christians. The Christians would try to make all sorts of acronyms from the verses, and try to show that they referred to Jesus. The Jews would then respond in kind with different acronyms that would disprove the Christians, if not belittle them as well. When it came to more fundamental questions of theological nature, when it came to things like " ", the Jews had to explain to the Christians and to themselves why they were justified. It was perceived as problematic that Jews were trying to attract Christians to Christianity. Ironically, though, this pshat school was "complemented" by Christian Hebraists who wanted to better appreciate the Hebrew of the Bible. The School of St. Victor was once such institution of Hebraicists there are a number of interpretations for their motivations. Andreas of St. Victor even admitted that some of 18 Occasionally, these polemics could get comical and entertaining. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 32 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller the classic polemical readings of Christians were incorrect, and this roused much anger among high ranking church officials.19 We had debated whether the events of 1096 were watershed events. Notwithstanding that debate, one cannot but recognize the tremendous intellectual revival of the 12th century. On the other hand, it became clear that Jews needed greater protection. That protection, however, would inevitably separate them from the rest of civilization. In 1103, Henry IV decided that Jews needed this protection, and enacted a Land-Peace Law no one could harm the Jews over a defined period of time. The trade off was that Jews would not be able to bear arms. In 1157, Frederick I gave the Jews a charter that placed them under direct imperial control. Jews became the property of the king, and while this appeared to be a good thing, it later caused problems. In France, the situation was slightly different. In 1182, Phillip Augustus was king of France, which was then quite a small area. He was greatly influenced by religious ideas, and he didn't like Jews too much, religiously and economically.20 He decided to expel his Jews, and by the end of the 12th century, "to Jew" came to mean "to lend money at interest." On Shabbat morning, he has his officers ransack Jewish houses and their synagogues as revenge for Jews taking Christian objects as pawns. Tosafos discusses money lending with interest, which he supports... According to the Augustinian Doctrine, there is a place for Jews in Christendom. The expulsion is short lived (with the Jews readmitted in 1198, after Philip realized that the Jews were economically significant). Popular sentiment added to Philip's driving the Jews out of France. This was driven by popular belief that Jews engaged in ritual murder. In 1144 in England, the body of a Christian boy was found on Easter Sunday, and the Jews were accused of performing ritual murder on him. The church denied that Jews engaged in ritual murder, but at the same time, the boy was buried by the church as a saint. In 1171, a Jewish woman has a relationship with some Count, that relationship soured, and one evening some Christian was convinced that the Jews had killed some child (a baseless accusation), it was reported to the Count, and the Jews of Blois were massacred. This was significant, because this time, the authority supported the accusation, the accusation of ritual murder moved from England to the continent, and there was never any body found! It is obvious that attitudes towards the Jews are taking a turn for the worst In 1146, the Second Crusade began, and this time, the church officials got worried. What happened the first time around was a mere aberration. Indeed, Radulph, a popular preacher, began to incite Christians around the Rhineland to attack the Jews. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a letter against Ralph, and claimed that he showed contempt for authority and was inciting people to murder. This letter was sent of to the Rhineland, and "Suffering servant" did not refer to Jesus in the opinion of Andreas. Secular authorities become involved in enforcing liens from Jewish money lenders. Christians didn't approve of the charging of interest.
20 19 Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 33 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller wasn't effective, so Bernard went to the Rhineland, and forced Ralph to stop the incitement. He said that the Jews were meant to be scattered, and not killed. A report about this "Crusade" of Bernard21 is quite astonishing, and is corroborated by Jewish sources. The Jews didn't even have to offer money to Bernard, as they offered money to stave off the first Crusaders. Popular sentiment seems to support Radulph; it was Bernard and the aristocracy who tried to stop the massacring of the Jews. While Bernard defends the Jews, he asserts that they are God's enemy, which is the reason why they must be scattered. This rhetoric only serves to highlight the outcast status that the Jews had in Christendom. This attitude came about largely because Jews were charging interest. Peter the Venerable said that the only reason why they haven't killed all of the Jews is because the Bible commands not to kill. He wrote a letter to Louis VII asking him to persecute the Jews to the greatest extent possible "they stamp on Jesus within our midst." He wanted to exploit them by making them finance the Crusades with all of the money that they earned through usury. In the First Crusade, Christians wanted to slaughter Jews because they were the killers of Christ. Now, it is contemporary Jewish behavior that makes them appear as enemies. Peter also believes that Jews were hostile towards Christians, especially with regards to the ritual murder accusations. In the 13th century, the church takes a more increasingly negative view of Jewish activities. Pope Innocent III was rather bothered by Jewish money lending, and wrote about what bothered him to Philip Augustus in 1205. While Jews were to be protected, they are charging unaccepted rates of usury, Christian servants are in Jewish homes, Jews insult Christians and Jewish servitude is not enforced. In 1206, Philip Augustus limits the maximum rate of Jewish interest to 43% a year.22 While it allows him to regulate Jewish money lending, he wants to maintain it so that he could exploit it. In 1215, Innocent III calls the Fourth Lateran Council: 1) Jews could not take immoderate usury. 2) Sumptuary Laws Concern of sexual contact between Jews and Christians. All Jews would have to wear some sort of distinguishing mark. 3) Jews could not go out in public on Easter or the days preceding Easter it made it look like the Jews were mocking Christians. We cannot forget that Christians needed Jewish money lenders, who charged lower interest rates than Christian money lenders. Around 1240, Christians become aware of the Talmud as a source of contemporary Jewish behavior. They always thought of the Jews as people of the Bible, but through converts to Christianity. Nicholas Donin accused the Jews of preferring the Talmud to the Bible, which was damaging because the Augustinian Doctrine hinges on the fact that the Jews are witnesses to the Bible. He further points out the offensive contents of the Talmud, especially anti-Christian rhetoric. 21 The Report of Otto of Freising Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 34 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller In response, in 1239, Pope Gregory sent a letter to the Bishop of Paris, who was meant to relay the letter to other kings and people.23 Why would Donin do such a thing? Perhaps he was looking for acceptance in Christian society; he wanted to gain fame.. It could be, perhaps, that Donin was a Karaite, and had previously rejected the Talmud. Maybe he came under the same extreme influence of rationalism that influenced the burning of the " 's Guide. All Jewish books were commanded to be handed over and burnt; only the king of France enforced this, and offered the Jews an opportunity to defend their books. In 1242, there was a trial against the Talmud, and the Jews were defended by R' Yechiel of Paris. In response to the claim that the Talmud says that the Jews crucified Jesus and celebrated his crucifixion, he claimed that the Talmud spoke of two Jesuses. 24 cartloads of Jewish books were burnt in Paris. Maharam of Rotenburg, who was visiting in Paris at the time composed a piyuut (kinnah) about this . He refers to the books as "Sinai" whereas the Christians saw the Bible and the Talmud as two different things, Maharam put them together . What are the factors that led to the decline of Jewish life in Christendom? Jeremy Cohen points to this episode with Donin as part of a campaign to re-evaluate the status of Jews in Christendom. Would the Christians be successful in proving the bifurcation of the Bible and Talmud, the Augustinian Doctrine could be rescinded. Robert Chazan disagrees Christian society changed, and became more militant, confident, and aggressive, with less room for people who didn't believe in their policies. The Augustinian Doctrine was never repealed. By the mid 13th century, the church was much more interested in the Jews. This added to the decline of Jewish creativity in France in the 13th century. The burning of rare and valuable manuscripts ended the French Torah renaissance. The church decided that attacking the Talmud was ineffective, and tried instead to use the Talmud to prove Christianity.24 In York, in 1190, Jews were attacked and threatened, and they hid in a tower. When they came out, they offered to convert; instead of being Baptized, they were killed. They then tore up all of the financial records of the Jews of York. Now, the animosity isn't religious; it's financial and economic. To a great extent, the Jews were only brought to England to be exploited for their money-lending prowess. In 1235 in Fulda, Germany, a more violent incarnation of the ritual murder accusation comes out. Ritual murder preached a demand for the use of Christian blood for the Pesach sacrifice, which also coincided with Easter. The church denies the charge, and Frederick II convened a panel of converted Jews who denied that the Jews ever engaged in this. Nevertheless, in the 15th century, the church made Simon of Trent into a saint. Yisrael Yuval argued that Jewish behavior precipitated the ritual murder charges. Christians saw what Jews did to their children in the 1096 narrative, and said to themselves: "If this is what the Jews did to their children, kal vachomer they would do this to our children." He argues that Christians were aware that Jewish ritual involved curses on the Christians, in this eschatological age. Arguing against Yuval people didn't kill their
23 24 The Holy Roman Emperor was not included. Much like their reading of the Bible allegoricaly to prove their religion. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 35 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Jews to arouse the vengeance of God; it was merely a by-product of the murders. This article caused a huge uproar; on the other hand, he may be right. David Nierenberg says that all outbreaks of violence must be seen in their own contexts. Moreover, violence is inherent in medieval society like the symbolic stoning of Jews on Easter. Violence created the communities there is no forest; there are only trees. Historians in general wish to fit the evidence into an overarching narrative as opposed to referring or examining each individual scenario.25 There was an increasing trend of Jews being thought of as bloodthirsty and bloodsucking people. This seemed to reflect the prevalent view of the Jew as an enemy and dangerous. There was also an accusation that the Jews would take the Eucharistic host, and desecrate it in some sort of way. The church had declared26 the doctrine of transubstantiation, that indeed, the wine and the wafer did transform into the body of Christ. There was a story of a young Jewish boy who took part in the wine and wafer ceremony; when the father found out, he tossed his son into a furnace, though he was protected by the Virgin Mary, and in the end he converted. This story reflects that the child took interest in the Eucharist on his own, with his father being projected in the stereotypical fashion of Christian stories at that time, as a villain. In 1230, a Jew came to the Pope, asking for support for his conversion. Many Jews converted because of their poor economic state, which was only exacerbated if their property was confiscated because of the conversion. In this case, it was the Jew influenced by a positive "miracle" concerning the Eucharist, and nothing bad happened to the wafer and wine in the care of the Jew. The whole doctrine of transubstantiation is pretty hard to believe especially the fact that you eat the wafer and wine and that it passes through the digestive system. Somehow, the Jews became interested in the Host, and very often through their Christian maids, they would try to get a hold of these wafers. By 1290, there are narratives describing the desecration of the Host at the hands of the Jews. Why would these charges evolve? There are three different types of general beliefs (Gavin Langmuir): 1) The rational 2) The irrational 3) The non-rational things that aren't subject to reason; like the belief in God, which isn't something that is necessarily proven through reason. Langmuir posits that the doctrine of the Host is something that is irrational and difficult to believe. But, the fact that the Jews desecrate the Host shows that the Host has some sort of credence! This in turn helped the Christians affirm their beliefs in the Host. Therefore, the Christians fabricated these stories about the Jews desecrating the Host in order to bolster their own beliefs in a very hard to believe custom.
For example, many often compare the Holocaust to the Crusades, and while the two may have been very tragic and bloody events, they both have to be understood in their own contexts and distinctions can and have to be made between the two. 26 In the Fourth Latteran Council.
25 Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 36 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller On the other hand, it's very probable that if the Jews got their hands on a Host, they would probably desecrate it. After all, the Jews were living in a society of Christian majority, and in order to take out their anger, they would gladly desecrate the Host. By the same token, can we apply Langmuir's theory to the blood libel charges? Ultimately, the Jews are associated with the devil. The Christians just didn't understand why Jews weren't converting. They concluded that Jews were incredibly stubborn on the one hand, and on the other hand, the choice of the Jew was a conscious choice made in conjunction with the devil. This had ramifications in the area of imagery and paintings; Jewish men were seen as unnatural... In 1298, the Rhindflesh massacres came about about 3500 Jews were killed. These massacres were a direct result of the blood libel accusations and accusations of desecration of the host. Yuval argued that the accusations stemmed from the effects of Jewish behavior in 1096 when Jews killed their own children now it was believed that Jews killed Christian children. Mary Minty argued that the Christians saw from 1096 that Jews preferred death over conversion. Another tale speaks of a young Jewish boy who wanted to convert, and he built up money for his conversion by depositing it with a priest. When the father of this boy got wind of the fact that he wanted to convert, he attempted to kill the boy by drowning.... During the Black Death 1348-9, Jews were blamed for the disease. Almost 1/3 of the population was decimated by the disease. The Jews were blamed for poisoning the wells, and were massacred, while the pope condemned this behavior and said that the Black Death was a retribution for Christian sins. Jews died along with everyone else, so it didn't really make sense to blame them. How did Jews respond to this situation? We see in Jewish iconographies that we are represented as rabbits; there's the image of Esau coming back from the hunt with a dead rabbit slung over his shoulder, and the image of the hare-hunt in the haggadah. The rabbit was thought of as an odd creature, with weird sexual characteristics. Jews internalized some negative Christian images. In Sefer Nitzachon Yashan, it was asked why the Christians were light skinned and beautiful while Jews were ugly and dark skinned. Jews didn't dispute the fact that they were ugly, and tried to rationalize in negative fashion why Christians were good looking. Jews portrayed themselves in illuminated manuscripts as these ugly looking birds with pig ears. Why would they do that? Perhaps it was Christians who illuminated the manuscripts, because we do know of Christians illuminating Hebrew manuscripts. It could be that you aren't allowed to make images of people from a halachic perspective (second commandment). Or, perhaps the Jews internalized these images, and if a Jew wanted to recognize himself, he would portray himself in this way. Inevitably, this affected the political status of the Jews as well. In 1237, the HRE declared all Jews as property of the Emperor.27 This was two years after the first blood libel, and as a preemptive precautionary measure, Frederick II decided to take the Jews under his wing in order to improve their protection. In France as well, the French king declared that the Jews were his as well.
27 The Jews became known as servi camerae regis, or "servants of the royal chamber," due to their royal protection, and elevation of status above that of the serfs. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 37 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller In response, some Jews made aliya in 1211 (300 rabbis from N. France). Most likely, 300 is an exaggeration. Why would these rabbis go? Gerson Cohen argues that it was the increasingly difficult situation in France. Karnefogel feels that this was a religious impulse that motivated this aliya. Another argument felt that this was a Jewish pilgrimage of sorts, much like the Christian and Muslim pilgrimages of the period. In 1286, Maharam of Rotenburg tried to leave Germany. Local authorities began taxing Jews during a period of insurrection and anarchy in Germany. Rudolph didn't want the Jews leaving, and Maharam was jailed and died in prison for trying to leave the country. In 1306, the Rosh moves from Germany to France. In 1290, the Jews are expelled from England, and they were expelled from France in 1306 from the territory of Phillip Augustus. Jews in Provence (Southern France) Provence is situated between Ashkenaz on the one hand, and Spain on the other. Influences from both cultures were present. With regards to the antiquity of Jewish settlement, there were Jews in Provence starting from the 5th century this was not an immigrant culture. By the 12th century, Provencal Jewry is also involved in money lending, albeit at lower rates than the ones which we were exposed to in France. By the mid 13th century, the Jews were subject to the jurisdiction of French counts. Provencal Jews didn't have much contact with the Jews of Muslim Spain until later on. Most ties connected Provence and France and Germany. Because parts of Provence were incorporated into Northern Spain in the 12th century, this put Provencal scholars in touch with Spanish Jewry. This exposed the Provencal Jews to the sciences, which they had previously ignored. Additionally, the Almohade Invasions caused many Spanish Jews to flee to Provence. One major problem will be the inculcation of philosophy into Provencal culture Provencal Jewry spoke their own language/dialect/vernacular, but didn't speak Arabic. In order to be introduced to philosophy, the Ibn-Tibbon family engaged in translating these works to Hebrew (during the lifetime of the " ). The Rif and the Geonim were exposed to the Provencals, and this was seamlessly woven into their previously existing ways of psak and learning. There was a fledgling interest in Kabbalah among the Provencals. Therefore, as a center of intellectual activity, there were people who readily accepted the philosophy of the " as part of their intellectual renaissance, and there were those who were completely opposed to the " for reason of their association with Torat HaSod. As soon as " began to publish, controversy began. People criticized the Mishne Torah the Geonim criticized " 's ambivalent attitude towards the Geonim, which was in part due to their demanding of money in order to issue psak. He opposed the system of learning in the Geonic yeshivot they were very arrogant. Shmuel ben Eli was trying to limit the power of the Exilarch, unlike " who seemed not to mind that position. So, he criticized the " . " criticized " for his lack of sources. This is solved by the . There is also a problem with codification it seems to abandon the authority of the Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 38 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller and the Rabbis, and gives people the idea that they can paskin for themselves. An additional objection should not be part of a law code; it's theology! When " asserted we believe that God is incorporeal, Ra'avad jumps all over that, and claims that people bigger and better than the " asserted otherwise. " 's position on resurrection also got him into trouble. There was a popular conception that Olam Habba only came about when all people were resurrected. " rejected the idea of bodily immortality Olam Habba is for the soul. Ra'avad claims that " denies the idea of resurrection. R' Meir HaLevi Abulafia decided that something needed to be done he turned to Provence, where he believed that people had more traditional thought. In 1202, he sent letters to the greats of Lunel, who were to appeal the " to change his position. They attacked Abulfia for attacking the " ; they called him arrogant, and perhaps he could have gained their support if he wrote the letter in a more kind fashion. Sheshet Benvinisti of Barcelona derided the Abulafia as a fool, and supported " 's denial of physical resurrection. The Chachmei Lunil tried to reinterpret the " Immortality is secondary to the idea of resurrection of the dead; eventually the body and the soul are reunited. Abulafia turned to Northern France, and started an inter-European controversy. He was sure that he would gain their support, thinking that they were untouched by philosophy. They agreed that " was in error, but they saw this as a Talmudic disagreement rather than a theological conflict. Perhaps they were insufficiently familiar with rationalism to recognize the significance of the disagreement. Eventually, " explicitly affirmed physical resurrection in his . There are those who say that he merely admits to the possibility of physical resurrection you can't deny the occurrence of a miracle. He doesn't change his shitta around. Abulafia was stunned; though " was ambiguous enough to satisfy all of the schools involved. Between 1230-1232, " 's rationalism, and its place in Judaism was questioned. " elevated philosophy to a religious obligation. He maintained that he was establishing an elite form of Judaism, but by downplaying resurrection and miracles, he may have indeed been weakening the Jewish religion by shaking the very foundations of many peoples beliefs. In 12?? The Guide was translated; but it arrived at the wrong audience. It was meant for Jews who already had been exposed to philosophy. However, the Guide made its way to people who had never encountered philosophy, with the repercussions thereof. In Southern France, " was attacked based on his synthesis between Greek philosophy and the Jewish faith. Shlomo ben Avraham of Montpelier, an anthropomorphist and two of his students, issued a public protest of the Guide. They claimed that the rationalists tried to explain the mitzvot as symbols; the rationalists saw this as libel. There was also social controversy here the rationalists tended to be of the upper class and the aristocracy, and the conservatives were jealous. They were accused of being under the influence of Christians. Montpelier was a center of heresy, and the church saw rationalism as a threat to their religion. The anti-rationalists turned to the Tosafists, and they claimed that Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 39 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller rationalism was against both theology and the correct way to educate Jewry. The Tosafists banned the Guide, and all secular learning as well. " 's supporters banned ben Avraham and tried to appeal to the Tosafists to prove that the " was correct. Spain would play a pivotal part in this debate. Radak, a Provencal rationalist, went to Spain for support. Catalonia had excommunicated ben Avraham; other communities, like Gerona, under the leadership of R' min HaHar, supported the Tosafists. " tries to broker a compromise though he supported ben-Avraham, he disagreed with their tactics. However, he wrote to the Tosafists protesting their ban, claiming that they didn't understand the " in his context; " wasn't writing for the Tosafists, he was writing for enlightened Jews. " urged looking at the status of " among world Jewry he drove the Karaites from Egypt, he was a hero of Yemen... If the Tosafists continue this ban, there would be a huge schism in Judaism! In consultation with the son of " , he urged people to look at secular studies that would be deemed appropriate for the appreciation of Judaism. " didn't succeed. In 1232, the Guide was denounced to the Inquisiiton in Montpelier, and there was a public burning of the Guide, and perhaps also Sefer HaMada. This didn't help the antirationalists position at all they looked really, really bad. There are those who say that R' Yonah of Gerona did repent for this burning. The rationalist faction was incensed, and they wanted to punish the other camp. " wrote to Abulafia to appeal the ban, and to help rid the Jewish people of philosophy. Abulafia remained neutral, though he did admit that philosophy was a big problem. However, he saw any ban on philosophy as counterproductive. Radak was rebuffed by R' Yehuda Albachar of Toledo a total maskil, who used the tools of reason to demonstrate the limits of reason. " 's mistake was turning Torah and Greek wisdom into one whole that can live together harmoniously. You can't have this synthesis only one, or the other. The rationalists begin personal attacks on the anti-rationalists, starting character assassination and the like... R' Yonah joined the " 's school. 1303-1306: The Third Stage of the Controversy Abba Mari b. Moshe HaYarkhi Extreme rationalism leads to reading the Torah allegorically, they reject miracles... All of this leads to laxity and lack of observance of the mitzvot. Menachem HaMeiri and Yedidia HaPenini reject this line of thinking the mitzvot are divided into rational categories there are three classes of mitzvot mitzvot of belief, those that remind us of belief, and those necessary to restore moral equilibrium. Does this lead to laxity in religious observance? In 1305, " imposed a ban on philosophy in Barcelona against the allegorization of scripture, and prohibition of the study of science to anyone under 25. The " 's works weren't banned, however. Meiri opposed the ban, and issued a counter ban if you don't ban " , then you can't ban philosophy, because you can't understand one without the other. In 1306, Phillip just kicked the Jews out of France. Medieval Spain Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 40 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller The Christians continue re-conquering Muslim Spain, with the exception of Grenada. Many Jews flee Northwards due to the Almohade invasions. The brand of Christian piety in Spain was more aggressive and militant this wasn't just a military battle against the Muslims; it was a religious battle, trying to rid Spain of the Muslim infidels. Up until this time, there a existed a convivencia in which Jews, Christians and Muslims co-existed peacefully. One would think that Jews would serve well in administrative positions under either the Christians or Muslims. Jews were also active in commerce, and because they were now located in a frontier area, their ability to trade only improved they were willing to take risks that no one else would take. The Muslims were annoyed that the Jews were helping the Christians. The Jews occupied these positions until the expulsion. In 1213, when Pope Innocent wanted all Jews to wear a badge, King Ferdinand refused to make his Jews do that. In Spain, initially, the Jews belonged to the crown if anyone would harm a Jew, he would have to answer to the king. This caused a certain problem there were power struggles over who had control over the Jews. The Jews could only be taxed by the king, and not the municipalities in which they lived. Ultimately, this contest of authority was not helpful for the Jews the municipalities, when angry with the king could lash out against the Jews. David Nierenberg spoke of how Christians negotiated a new context for Christians. The Muslim population influenced a "Christian Body Politic" which couldn't be affected by the heretic or infidel. It was only sexual transgressions that would peeve the Christians; prostitutes enabled Jews, Muslims and Christians to co-exist. The prostitutes were supposed to police this boundary the Christian prostitute could make sure that her clients were never Muslims or Jews, because they were circumcised. And, indeed, the prostitutes carefully policed this boundary, which enabled better relations between Christians and the latter two religions. We already saw how the reconquista caused Andalusian culture to spread Northwards. The center of the Kabbalah movement was in Northern Spain, where the major Kabbalists lived Moshe de Leon, " and Rabbeinu Yonah. The Mekubalim attacked the courtier class with their anti-rationalist mysticism. The theology of Kabbalah centered on the Sefirot. The idea of the sefirot is explaining the emanation from the Divine and our world (just like the neo-Platonists). God's power emanates through the sefirot, and it arrives at us. Assimilating with the goyim is surrendering to the Satanic forces. The system of the sefirot has different gender identities there are masculine and feminine aspects of the Divine that have to come together and reproduce in order to emanate further. There's also a relationship between one's actions and Divine activities. Mitzvot have a larger affect on the world. The shchina is the Shabbos bride (Raza D'Shabbat), and she has to prepare for her Shabbat wedding she will wed Tiferet. Mitzvot according to the Kabbalists are not merely symbolic as many see them today. Rather, every time one does a mitzvah, it does affect the Sefirot which in turn affects the Divine. While the rationalists may have reduced mitzvot to symbols, the Kabbalists lashed out against this. Among the issues that the Kabbalists were concerned with was raising the quality of moral life. When the Smag came to visit in 1240, he sparked this religious revival. It Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 41 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller was directed at the social ills of society people were lax in certain mitzvot. This also roused the ire of R' Yonah, who had long criticized this laxity. The mitzvah of mezuzah was one example people didn't place it. In Ashkenaz, the lack of mezuzot was blamed on the people not knowing how to place the mezuzah (the Tosafists justified the lack of the mitzvah). In Spain, the rabbis couldn't care less, and just wanted people to do the mitzvah. Spain was also plagued by sexual immorality, and this was influenced by Muslim slave girls who were taken as concubines. This problem didn't exist in Christendom, where the consequences of owning a slave and sleeping with her were quite harsh. Relations between wealthy land-owners and poor people were quite strained at this point. There was also a problem of Jewish informers who would tell on their fellow Jews. This served to breach Jewish autonomy Jews wanted independent communities, but once the Christians had to get involved, this would rupture the structure of the Jewish community. Jews also negotiated tax exemptions for themselves through close relations with the king it only increased the burden on the rest of the community. " was only of the powerful figures in Spain he was from an aristocratic Barcelona family, and he was an active participant in communal leadership. When, in 1281, there was a major crisis in Toledo, they turned to the " for help. He was also a prolific tshuva writer many of tshuvot were probably preserved because of his social status. He was highly opposed to informers. " imposed a ban on philosophical texts and on rational interpretation of Biblical texts. He also created a new formulation of - he articulated that this only applies when the legislation in question applies equally throughout the kingdom, but it doesn't apply to local enactments meant to enrich the treasury. It also doesn't apply when it contradicts Jewish law. Because of the conflict within the Jewish community, when Alfonso X of Castille put several courtiers to death, it was a ripe moment for Jewish reform. Todros b. Joseph Abulafia expelled non-Jewish women from the Jewish quarter, challenged the belief in astrology the situation the Jews are in is a punishment for illicit behavior. He also sends around public vice squads, and he prosecutes and fines violators. The situation of Muslim slave girls was also looked down upon. The socio-economic divide is clear the aristocratic rationalists versus the rest of the population, who were mainly Kabbalists. Eventually, there's a breakdown of the convivencia. The middle of the 13th century represents a time of intense proselytization in Spain by the Franciscans and Dominicans. This involved the direct use of church resources. Disputations of Barcelona 1263 " was summoned to argue for the Jews. This time, the converso charged that the Talmud argues that the messiah had already come. Friar Pablo Christiani, the one who argued with the " , accepted the veracity of the Talmud, but wished to prove Christianity for the Talmud. When using the Talmud to prove their point, the Christians had a huge advantage. Would the Christians win, Jews would find it easier to accept Christianity. Would they lose, there would be no love lost. What was the issue at hand in the disputation of " ? Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 42 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller The main issue at hand was that the messiah already came,28 and that the rabbis of the Talmud accepted that. Pablo Christiani was a dangerous opponent because he had familiarity with polemic debates, and a familiarity with the Talmud. The Jewish account vs. the Christian account They both seem to be describing the same event. Where do they diverge? What is the purpose of the records of these narratives? How does " portray himself in the narrative? He exudes self-confidence. The historiography of the narratives which account is more accurate? Historians responses were usually partisan Jews saw " 's account as correct, and Christians saw Pablo's response as correct. The Latin document was low-stakes. " on the other hand, had to give off the impression that he dealt with the arguments in the correct way. Robert Chazan says that this is all an issue of perspective. Being that " exudes so much self-confidence in front of the king, it may be very possible that many of the arguments that he recorded were things that he felt he should have said, or could have said. This narrative would be a manual of Jewish responses to these Christian arguments in the future. David Berger defends the " , portraying him as a hero of the Jews. [ALMOST DEFINITELY AN ESSAY QUESTION DO THE READING, AND KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. POSITIONS OF BERGER AND CHAZAN; AGENDA BEHIND THE RECORDING OF THE DISPUTATIONS...] Different people have different "eyewitness" accounts. As we previously mentioned, both " and Christiani may be giving an "accurate" rendition of the events of the disputation, but from their own perspectives. Pablo's approach is to use Aggadah to prove that the Talmud believes that the Messiah has already come. " says that he's right the Messiah may have already been born, but he hasn't yet come. " also questioned the veracity of Aggadah it's not always to be taken at face value. There are three different types of Jewish literature Bible, Talmud and Midrash. While one must believe in the former two, one does not have to believe in Aggadah. He was also able to turn Christiani's argument on its head, being that the says that the Messiah was born after the destruction of the Second Temple, while Jesus was clearly born before said destruction. One of the arguments that " posed was that Jews believe in Messianic redemption. Unlike the " , the Messianic age isn't merely political; there won't be death, sickness or evil. The Messiah does not have any Divine properties. Messiah makes appearances in Rome, and continues to make appearances there until it's destroyed. These arguments are all put out in Sefer HaGeula, a book that tried to flesh out the arguments of the disputation. Jews have to suffer, because we live in the 6th millennium (=5th day of creation = creation of animals) which is an age of animals, and therefore we must suffer. The head of the Dominicans came to the shul on Shabbat in Barcelona where he would preach a sermon. Jews would be forced to attend these sermons which were originally open to the entire populace. The head of the Dominicans claimed a Christian victory in the The Christians never tried to prove that Jesus already came; they only tried to prove that the messiah already came. 28 Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 43 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller disputation, and to a certain extent he was right, because like the " , the Christians also thought that they were victorious. " 's account reached either the Franciscans or the Dominicans, and in 1267, he was forced to flee to Israel. This was just the beginning, though. What the Christians really wanted to use " 's arguments to construct better Christian arguments. They wanted to use the Talmud, and this time, halachic sources (so that one couldn't question the arguments as in the case of the Aggadah) to convert the Jews. The following decades saw a triple in the conversions in 1321, Abner of Gurgos converted after many years of visions and other questions about Judaism. He, as many others, directed his actions towards conversionary activities. He tried to use Jewish texts to prove the trinity. According to him, the truth lies in the Christian mysteries, which is basically Kabbalah. Christians have an obligation to convert or eliminate the Jews. The intellectual elite are also converting. By 1297, there are enough converts for a law to be passed protecting the law of inheritor's rights for converts the state had always protected Jewish property rights, even for converts. The church begged to differ, and wanted the church to inherit the land of the converts. In the 14th century, whenever there was some social disturbance, there were antiJewish riots, and the Jews were becoming insecure. In 1378, the arch deacon from Seville, Ferrant Martinez starts preaching anti-Semitic rhetoric. He urged for the destruction of the synagogues in Seville, moving the Jews to a ghetto. King Juan restrains Martinez, and in 1391, Martinez is able to attack the Jews on June 4. There were mass anti-Jewish riots. Many were killed; Chasdai Kreskas says that many converted. The pogroms spread, especially in Castille, and especially because of the socalled anarchy that pervaded with the death of Juan. The riots were led by both the populace and community records. Jewish loan records are destroyed. After one year 100,000 were converted, 100,000 were killed, and 100,000 fled. In Aragon, the king tried to control the rioters, but there was some degree of failure in that case as well. The converts included many rabbis, scholars and important figures. One of the converts was R' Shlomo HaLevi of Burgos; his former student, Joshua HaLorki tried to understand the rationale behind the conversion of HaLevi (handout). He lays out a number of options as to why one would want to convert: 1) Look at the Jews. They're pathetic, and God has forsaken them. 2) Perhaps one desires the vanity and freedom of not being a Jew. 3) It's an act of rationalism, and he's indifferent to his religious identity. 4) This could be a prophetic act of HaLevi after seeing that the Jews are incorrect. In Spain, the dominant response was conversion, as opposed to the reaction in Ashkenaz, where significantly fewer Jews converted. This was perhaps a function of their rationalism they see everything as black and white, and didn't hesitate for a second before converting to Christianity. This is starkly contrasted with the "pure" Jews of Ashkenaz who were not corrupted by philosophy, and who hesitated before converting, if converting at all. These conversions created a whole culture of conversos who lived side by side with Jews. Some conversos converted out of an actual belief in Christianity the riots gave them an opportunity to convert without embarrassing them. Yet others converted out of Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 44 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller fear, and hoped to return to Judaism after the riots. Perhaps the Jews of Spain weren't so convinced that Christianity was Avoda Zara. Some Jews became total Christians; others observed a sort of crypto-Judaism, and were aided by observant Jews in places where Judaism was existent. Where there were no Jews left, the conversos ultimately assimilated completely. Nierenberg points out that this group of conversos blurred the lines between Jews and Christians. There was no longer any clear division between the two being that there were groups that belonged to both religions. This led to a drive on the part of the Christians to create a better separation between Jews and Christians. Christians saw that there might not be any Jews left they were going to lose the thing by which they defined themselves! The "Other" is now becoming Christian how different are the Jews nowadays? This led to the passage of sumptuary laws, and moving of the Jews to the ghetto. Wealthy Jews who aspired to integrate into society tried to marry Christian nobility. Jews from the upper-middle-class also tried to marry into the Spanish Christian nobility. This created a situation where both commuities were rocked and destabilized. In 1312 there was sweeping anti-Jewish legislation led by HaLevi he wished to impose residential restrictions, and limits on relations with Christians. The Jews took this very badly, being that they had enough trouble trying to recover from the events of 1391. Perhaps they were accustomed to this lifestyle of being kicked around; they saw it as another wave of adversity. The Jews are ordered to send delegates to Tortosa for a disputation which lasts for over a year (1413-1414). The Jews there were terrified. There was no one who could speak for the community or that had the confidence of " . There was disagreement and squabbling between delegates. They were shocked at the display of wealth at this debate, which happened before the pope, church officials and other noble spectators. Some delegates even converted to Christianity! It's a total unmitigated fiasco. The person in charge of the Christian arguments was none other than HaLorki, now known as Geronemo de Santa Fe. He was particularly dangerous being that he was very learned. However, the Jews claimed that he made up texts from which he presented his arguments. This was one long conversion ceremony for the Jews involved. There were rumors that the whole delegation had converted. While this wasn't fully true, the defections were publicized by the church, and helped along the conversos of 1391 who may not have been fully sure about being Christians. Full communities are destroyed by these conversions. It's interesting to note that historians see 1391 as the beginning of the end; in other words, they see 1391 in as the prelude to 1492. However, the Jews of Spain in 1391 didn't know that 1492 was going to happen, and they were trying to put themselves back together. How did Jews respond to crisis? How did they reconcile these events? Solomon Alami writes in his Igegeret Mussar of the sins that were committed compare to Crusades. He lists numerous tragedies that the Jews endured before 1391. "We ourselves are at fault." He didn't try to sidestep this issue as the did the narrators of the Crusades of 1096 who saw the tragedy in a more messianic or eschatalological light. We Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 45 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller must realize that this is an Iggeret Mussar and that is the genre of the composition. How stereotypical is the document? Tosafists? Alami sees the tragedy as a function of the rationalism, assimilation with gentile society and the hedonism of the elite. There is very little against the masses; this all seems very directed against the aristocracy, and intellectual elite. He does not seem particularly concerned about the future we have seen persection before, and survived. He seemed pretty confident of recovery. In 1432, the communities of Castille tried to enact takanot to create regional cooperation for specific local issues. They were trying to revitalize Jewish life. They addressed the upkeep of yeshivot, judicial powers, and Judeo-Christian relations. One was no longer allowed to bring Jews to non-Jewish courts; they also adopted sumptuary laws which limited the dress and ostentatiousness of the Jews, which was an issue of resentment among the Jews. There is no ban on rationalism there's more of a concern about how Jews were perceived in the eyes of the Christians. In other words, these takkanot seem divorced from the mussar of Alami. On the other hand, before dealing with intellectual issues, the Jews have to get their opportunities up and running again. Yosef Albo, in his Sefer HaIkarim, tries to grapple with the doubt issues, and he tried to restore morale by presenting a reasoned view of Judaism. He criticizes the " . The three critical beliefs for being a Jew: 1) The existence of God 2) Divine Revelation 3) Reward and Punishment Notice the absence of any speaking about the Messiah, which was exactly the crux of the debate at Tortosa. " was trying to defend against Karaism, and therefore didn't have to articulate issues such as these, which the Karaites also believed. Even if one found all of the Christian arguments compelling, one could still remain a Jew, because one could still believe in the fact that the Messiah had already come, and still remain a good Jew. Was Albo speaking more from the perspective of "heicha d'lo efshar," or were these his true beliefs? As the 15th century progressed, you have the Jews living among conversos and Christians. What were the problematic issues involved here? You have many networks of Jews and conversos parts of families could be conversos, and parts could be full observing Jews. Some conversos really tried to be full Christians, and they were wary of the Jews who were living alongside them. The Jews were under close scrutiny because the Christians didn't want the conversos becoming Jews again. Many conversos were retaining Jewish customs, and the Christians were getting upset with them.29 Ferdinand and Isabella were concerned about Judaising movements among the conversos. One interesting example of this two people converted to save their lives, but they decided to flee to Israel and convert to Judaism. One of them, David Bonet Bonjorn, was convinced of the truth of Christianity, and tried to convince the other, Profiat Duran,
Conversos weren't eating pork, and this would peeve the Christians, even though there's no Christian mitzvah to eat pork.
29 Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 46 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller to do the same. In response, Duran writes a satirical and cynical letter to his friend letter to his friend, called " " in which he wrote of the irrationality of the Christian doctrine. The document was so satirical and ambiguous that the Christians actually thought that it was anti-Jewish and they circulated as anti-Jewish propaganda which they entitled "Alteca Boteca" until they realized that it was anti-Christian. Isabella is told of conversos meeting secretly with Jews and retaining Jewish customs. The only way to control this problem would be an Inquisition under royal control. In 1478, permission was granted by the Pope, and at Seville, many influential conversos were burnt at auto defe. Was the inquisition really a response to Judaising? Netanyahu has argued that the vast majority of conversos tried to integrate into Christian society, and the Inquisition was merely a ploy, because the monarchy didn't like the fact that the conversos were so influential and powerful. Rabbinic responsa from outside of Spain during this time period said that conversos and their children are not Jewish. Jews perceived the conversos as non-Jews they didn't see them as trying to return to Judaism. There's no validity to the charge of Judaising. How do we assess Netanyahu's theory? The responsa literature at this time period was not written in Spain it came from the outside! In Ashkenaz, generations after enduring the Crusades in which they were very open to Jews returning to Judaism, the rabbis were reluctant to issue heterim for marriage and often treated escaping Spanish Jews as non-Jews just because it was so difficult for them to trace their lineage. It's more difficult for the rabbis to assume that conversos are Jewish. Evidence from the Inquisition has lists of practices of conversos that are clearly minhagim preserved from Judaism. How valuable are the records of the Inquisitions? Think of the logic of the torture chamber Inquisitional records are "accurate, but not true." We're dealing with confessions, and not necessarily admissions, especially in a scenario where the penalty was less severe if people admitted to the Christians that they were crypto-Jews and not denying that entirely. What the Inquisition defines as Judaising practice becomes Judaising practice. [I missed the final class. I was not under the impression that we were going to have class during reading week, but it's water under the bridge. Our good friend Tal supplied the notes for the last class (which I modified from bullets into paragraph form).] Development of the Inquisition
Bentzion Netanyahu says that the conversos were trying to integrate into Christian society, but they are not being allowed; not being accepted. Then the Inquisition came along and said that they are not going to let them integrate, so the conversos turn back to their heritage and take upon themselves Jewish practices. Here we have a historian who believes that the world is out to get Jews, regardless of whether they practice Judaism or not. He seems to be arguing that . In 1469, Ferdinand and Isabel got married. Jews thought this would be great, because whenever there is a strong monarchy, Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 47 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller Jews do best. Indeed, Jews are appointed to positions in the royal court. In 1477, Isabel declares that the Jews belong to her, she must defend them. When municipalities tried to renege on their loans from Jews, Ferdinand and Isabella protected the Jews. Ironically, some of this was going on even as plans for the expulsion were being discussed. Jews assessed the situation that the monarchy would support them. One of the things happening now is that there is an increasing sense that Jews are influencing judaizing activities of conversos. Isabella believed that you needed to separate Jews from conversos in order to stop their judaizing activities. The Inquisition was directed at Christian converts from Judaism, not at Jews. In 1490, there was a trumped up blood libel charge, in which a converso was accused of crucifying a child on Erev Pesach. The converso, under torture, named Jews and Conversos who participated in the plot. They were found guilty by the inquisition tribunal, and publicly executed, turning public opinion against Jews, trying to connect conversos and Jews. Jews turned to the monarchy for help. Spain is the heartland of the Reconquista, Christian impulse to conquer entire peninsula from Muslims. In Grenada, there is still a Muslim outpost. This is the last little bit that remains. Ferdinand and Isabella decided to do battle with them and conquer it for the Christians. This was accomplished in 1492. It led to a renewing preoccupation with the militant ideals of the Reconquista and it took the spotlight off the conversoJewish problem. There were rumors that Jews would be expelled at this point, next two months, Abarbanel and R' Signor, the two Jews in the court, tried to get the monarchs to rescind the decree. In his intro to Nevi'im Acharonim, Abarbanel tells that he tried and tried to convince the monarchy to rescind the decree, but to no avail. Some argue that the expulsion was just part of this Reconquista spirit to have an entirely Christian state. Others suggest economic motives the Spaniards would borrow money from Jews, and then expel them. This theory is unlikely, however, because the Jewish community at this point is not so wealthy anyway, so this agenda would not be too profitable. The Monarchy is very protective of Jews, so some suggest that Torqemada was pulling the strings, trying to intimidate the monarchy into expelling the Jews. Where could the Jews go for refuge? They can go to Islamic lands (North Africa, but you have to cross the Mediterranean to get there), Portugal (but really only short-term) or Navar. Medieval Spain was a number of different kingdoms, not one unified kingdom. When the Jews were expelled, they typically went only as far as they needed to. Eastern Europe was therefore not the first choice. We have no idea of the exact statistics of the Inquisition; some historians say about 175,000 exiles, 100,000 converted, 100,000 killed. The vast majority fled to Portugal, where they were granted 8 months of settling by King John, although they had to pay for this privilege. After 8 months, he expelled them all except for 600 families. He gave them ships to take them away from his kingdom. Some went to Navar, from where they were expelled in 1497. King John gave Jews a choice between becoming slaves and converting. Jewish children were taken away from their families, and sent to islands off the coast of Africa Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 48 of 49 JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History Professor Levin Fall 2002 Notes by Yonatan Miller King Manuel, John's son, took the throne, and married the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella on condition that the Jews would be expelled. Portugal was forced into this deal, but Portugal wanted the Jews, because they were in an economic hole, so the Jews of Portugal were forcibly converted, by taking away children. In the end Jews were not really expelled from Portugal, because there were no Jews in Portugal Spanish Jewish authors' feelings about this: Abraham ben Solomon says this is , because secular knowledge had replaced Torah. Usque blames it on apostasy, also . Capsali says that this is the beginning of the redemption. Shevet Yehuda blames it on natural consequences because we treated the Christians a certain way, naturally they treated us a certain way, because we treated their women a certain way, economic jealousy, and finally false oaths and conceit, and beating each other over seats. It is noteworthy that he blames it on the natural consequences of Jewish actions, even if it is what they are supposed to be doing. Downloaded from: www.yumesorah.com JHI1300LevNotes1.pdf Page 49 of 49 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course JEWISH HIS 1300 taught by Professor Lan during the Spring '08 term at Yeshiva.
- Spring '08
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