Menachem Mendel

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The Myth (?) of Sephardic Openness

Being that the length of this week’s Torah reading is going to try the best of us, I just found a very interesting article by Harvey Goldberg. The article is called “Sephardi Rabbinic ‘Openness’ in Nineteenth-Century Tripoli: Examining a Modern Myth in Context”. Goldberg, an expert on North African Jewry, raises the possibility that the commonly held belief that North African/Sephardic rabbis were more open to modernity and the challenges facing halakhah may be no more than an erroneous misconception. In his notes he mentions a similar question asked by Benjamin Brown in a critique of Tzvi Zohar’s book Mesoret u-Temurah (see n. 11). Goldberg also mentions an interesting anectode concerning Yosef Masas about whom we discussed here. Shabbat Shalom.

One Response to “The Myth (?) of Sephardic Openness”

  1. 1
    Menachem Mendel:

    Jose Faur in his biography on R. Yisrael Moshe Hazan makes the lack of modern day Sefardic openess a big theme. He contrast R. Hazan (author of the Krach Shel Romi) and his openess to that Sefardim today.
    Dan Rabinowitz | Homepage | 03.25.06 – 8:14 pm | #

    Where is the book by Jose Faur available? I saw an article by him on RYMH but did not know that he published a book on him.
    david g. | Homepage | 03.26.06 – 6:34 am | #

    I just read Faur’s article on the Anti-Maimonodean Demons in the Review of Rabbinic Judaism and was appalled by his sarcastic put-downs of the Rashba and the Rosh, among others. It seems that the cherem pronounced against him which is discussed in Marc Shapiro’s book was deserved after all.
    andy | 03.26.06 – 2:14 pm | #

    cherems are never justified. Speech is best combatted by more speech, not stifling speech.
    jdub | 03.27.06 – 9:21 am | #

    Perhaps the term “cherem” is a bit harsh. However they were justified in not allowing him to give Torah classes.
    andy | 03.27.06 – 7:55 pm | #

    Here is the full title and information HaRav Yisra’el Moshe Hazan, Haifa, 1978.
    I doubt you will find it in stores, however, you can always try your library or out of print book dealer. It is also availalbe online (for a price) here …0000010868.html
    Dan Rabinowitz | Homepage | 03.28.06 – 1:01 pm | #

    >cherems are never justified.
    I am not sure about that, I think there may be instances cherems are justified. For instance, if a person illegally refused to give his wife a get. Or if one was doing other things may have a detrimental effect upon the community, such as selling as kosher non-kosher food. To name but a few.
    Dan Rabinowitz | Homepage | 03.28.06 – 1:04 pm | #


    I agree. I meant cherems on books. I’ll modify that further. I think that other than books that advocate illegal or unethical conduct (e.g., books that advocate murder or how to cheat the government), books shouldn’t be banned. If you don’t like what the person says, speak out against it, point out the flaws, don’t just ban the book.
    jdub | 03.28.06 – 1:13 pm | #




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