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New Book: Halakhic Writing in a Changing World

Maozkahanabook

Tomer Persico has a quick summary (Hebrew) of Maoz Kahana’s new book Halakhic Writing in a Changing World, from the ‘Noda Biyhuda’ to the ‘Hatam Sofer’, 1730-1839 (Hebrew). The book, based upon Kahana’s dissertation, examines the differences between the halakhic approaches of the Noda Biyhudah and the Hatam Sofer.

The following is from the English introduction to the book:

From the Noda BeYehuda to the Chatam Sofer – Halakha and Thought in their Historical Moment describes a formative stage in the creation of modern halakha, in its historical context. First, the book analyzes the severe literary purification demanded by the Noda BeYehuda (Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, 1713–1793), rabbi of the city of Prague, and the most prominent halakhic writer in Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century. Rabbi Yechezkel sought to rid halakha of all “non-Talmudic” literary sources. Not only did he wish to remove from halakhic writing all kabalistic influence – which were under suspicion due to the subversive presence of Sabbateanism in Europe throughout the entire eighteenth century – but he even objected to primary segments of traditional Ashkenazi halakha, one of whose hallmarks was its diverse, non-talmudic sources.

The second part of the book deals with the profound internalization of this critical approach in the writings of the greatest rabbi of the succeeding generation, the Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762–1839). This in turn led to various “corrections” as well as sharp, intense censures of the writings of the Noda BeYehuda by the Chatam Sofer, throughout the decades of his creative work.

The full English introduction and table of contents can be read here.

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