Abstracts

RITUAL LAW

Charles L. Arian and Clifford E. Librach, "The 'Second Day' of Rosh Hashanah: History, Law, and Practice", JRJ 32/3 (l985), 70-83. - The authors examine the history and reasoning behind the two-day observance of the New Year in terms of halakhah and aggadah, the codes, and other traditional literature. The examination is attempted from both traditional and liberal perspectives. (S.M.P.)

W.A.M. Beuken, "Exod. 16.5,23: A Rule Regarding the Sabbath?", JSOT 32 (1985), 3-14. - A detailed examination of Exod. 16.5,23 shows that the former verse predicts a miracle in which the manna gathered on the 6th day will prove to be a double amount. Verse 23 says that the extra for the sabbath need not be cooked on the 6th day because it will miraculously keep fresh (unlike any manna left over on other days). Neither verse, therefore, anticipates later Jewish practice which forbade the cooking of food on the 7th day. They insist only that none must be gathered and are not, therefore, contradictory. (R.A.M.)

P. Böhl, "Das Fasten an Montagen und Donnerstagen", Biblische Zeitschrift 31 (1987), 247-250. - The usual explanations for the Pharisaic custom of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays are implausible. Just because Mondays and Thursdays were market days on which the courts sat does not explain the custom. Rather the choice of these days reflects the use of the old solar calendar mentioned in the books of Enoch, Jubilees, and in the Qumran literature. According to this 364-days-per-year calendar festivals always fell on the same day of the week, i.e. a Sunday, a Wednesday, or a Friday. Since one may not fast on a festival or a sabbath, that left Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays as possible fast days. Since one would not fast on two consecutive days, this left Mondays and Thursdays. This solar calendar goes back to the Persian period: the lunar calender, against which Jubilees protests, was an innovation of the Seleucid era. (G.J.W.)

Philip C. Hammond, David J. Johnson & Richard N. Jones, "A Religio-Legal Nabataean Inscription from the Atargatis/Al-Uzza Temple at Petra", BASOR 263 (1986), 77-80; see OTA 10/1 (1987), no.94.

V. Hurowitz, "Salted Incense Exodus 30:35: Maqlu VI 111-113; IX 118-120', Biblica 68 (1987), 178-194. - The Hebrew memullah really means 'salted' rather than 'mixed', a translation which found expression in the Versions and in much biblical commentary. Nevertheless, the interpretation of Maimonides was correct. Salt was an indispensable necessity for the Incense. Possibly Shab. 67b was influential in giving rise to the rendering 'mixed' since it applied to the mixing of salt with the incense, a feature of pagan practices, and it was the suspicion of such pagan influence which led the Jerusalem priests to put a stop to the practice. (R.A.M.)

J. Katz, "The Orthodox Defense of the Second Day of the Festivals" (Heb.), Tarbiz 57 (1987-88), 385-434. - The Diaspora practice of observing the second day of the Festivals - even after the fixing of the calendar - is attributed by the Talmud (Betz. 4b) to "the custom of our forefathers". Rashi justifies this custom on the grounds that at some point in the future, a non-Jewish rÈgime may prevent Jews from using their calendars, and the old method of calculating the dates of the Festivals according to the position of the moon would be reintroduced together with the need for a second day in the Diaspora. Objections to this custom began with the Karaites and reappeared with the advent of haskalah and the Reform movement. Orthodox halakhists refused to sanction the abolition of this patently unreasonable custom and relied both upon the authority of ancient customs per se, and the existence of esoteric reasons for its preservation. A principal exponent of the esoteric approach to the second day of the Festivals in the Diaspora was R. Moses Sofer, the celebrated opponent of all religious innovation in nineteenth century Hungary. The issue remained, however, on the agenda of European Jewry and was raised at various Rabbinical synods in Germany right through the nineteenth century. In 1842, the question of the second day led to a clash between the Reform community of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. In 1845, a furor was raised in Rabbinic circles when two Italian Rabbis were forced to send out a circular letter requesting their colleagues' support in resisting the demands of some rich, local Jews to permit their businesses to remain open on the second day of the Festivals. The author concludes this historical survey with some remarks on the nature of Orthodoxy in the post-Emancipation period, which have made the issue of the second day such an intransigent one in contemporary halakhah. (D.B.S.)

E. A. Knauf, "Zur Herkunft and Sozialgeschichte Israels. 'Das Bockchen in der Milch Seiner Mutter'", Biblica 69 (1988), 153-169. - The cultic prohibitions of Ex. 23:19, 34:26 and Deut. 14:21 spring from the life of the rural population of Canaan in the third and second millennia BCE. Probably Israel arose from the majority of this population and preserved its practices until the beginning of the first millennium. In Deut. 14:21 the cultic prohibition was extended to the dietary realm, a prohibition which has characterised Judaism until the present. Such an extension must be seen as an act of self-definition and self-affirmation by post-exilic Israel, which lived in a Palestine populated by a majority of non-Israelites. (R.A.M.)

A. Marx, "Sacrifice de Réparation et Rites de Levée de Sanction", Zeitschrift für alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 100 (1988), 183-198. - The reparation sacrifice, prescribed in cases affecting material possessions, associates the dimensions of religious sacrifice and civil law. The rite takes up the old law concerning theft in the Book of the Covenant (Ex. 21:37-22:3.6-12). But P makes use of an ancient rite of the lifting of sanction, of which traces are found in Gen. 20; Judg. 17; I Sam. 5-6; II Sam. 21; Job 42). After the guilty party has made reparation to the victim of what is owed him, the victim intercedes with God on his behalf and sets in motion the rite for the fictitious annulment of the theft. The function of the reparation sacrifice in such cases is to put an end to the evil consequences to which the guilty person has exposed himself by his crime, at once in the civil, the religious and even the magical realms. ([Author]

Joshua Metzger, "The Eruv", National Jewish Law Review IV (1988), 67-92.

J. Stern, "On an Alleged Contradiction between Maimonides' Mishneh Torah and the Guide for the Perplexed" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 14-15 (1988-89), 283-298. - Using the precept of the sending away of the mother bird as an archetype, the author examines the relationship between the reasons Maimonides gives for the commandments in his Guide for the Perplexed, and those which he provides in the Mishneh Torah. In the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides describes the precept as a "scriptural decree". In the Guide, he explains it in terms of the prevention of cruelty to the mother bird. Contemporary scholars interpret this phrase as a rejection of any rational basis for the precept. The present article takes issue with this approach, and argues that the term "scriptural decree" possesses a variety of meanings, none of which indicate that the precept is totally devoid of any rational basis. In fact, the two works complement each other, and a careful examination of both texts indicates that Maimonides deals with different conceptual aspects of the same precept, with the audience to which the particular book is aimed functioning as the criterion for choosing the particular aspect to be emphasised in the work in question. The author offers a wide selection of solutions for various alleged contradictions between Maimonides' two great works, including sacrifices and the laws of ritual purity. (D.B.S.)

P. Toledano, Fountain of Blessings. A Concise Code of Jewish Law, London: British Sephardi Federation Press, 1989, pp.xvi, 231 + 43 (Heb.), ISBN 1-870216-02-4. - Dayan Toledano here presents a precise summary of the laws concerning blessings which thus covers a major part of everyday Jewish ritual, from the viewpoint of the Sephardi tradition. The text, a kind of Halakahah pesukah, is in English, the substantial critical apparatus in Hebrew. The book is thus designed to appeal both to the scholar and to the "enthusiastic but uninstructed layman." (B.S.J.)

Nicolas Wyatt, "Symbols of exile", Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok 55 (1990), 39-58. - The author shows the importance of the exile to the birth of Judaism as opposed to the previous ethnic religion. The loss of the Land and the fall of the monarchy meant that almost all existing institutions ceased to function and that most of the old symbol systems were rendered useless. Diverging theological responses to the trauma appeared. But just as important as these was the construction of new symbolic forms. Old rituals were transformed and got a new meaning adapted to the new circumstances. The article's main concern is this kind of transformation. The author examines Sabbath observance, circumcision and dietary laws as examples showing the new meaning of these ancient observances in the new situation, as symbolic substitutes for the lost nationhood and land. (P.P.S.)

 

 

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