Rab­binic Cul­ture and Its Crit­ics: Jew­ish Author­i­ty, Dis­sent, And Heresy in Medieval and Ear­ly Mod­ern Times

Daniel Drank and Matt Golfish, eds.
  • Review
By – January 11, 2012
The four­teen arti­cles in this hefty vol­ume focus on the lines sep­a­rat­ing nor­ma­tive Jew­ish belief from those modes of belief deemed unac­cept­able — at dif­fer­ent times and by dif­fer­ent groups. Both by redraw­ing those lines — redefin­ing our under­stand­ing of what kinds of belief are per­mit­ted — and by look­ing beyond them at the opin­ions of those on the wrong” side of the fence, these stud­ies pro­vide fresh and sur­pris­ing per­spec­tives on the ques­tion of what a Jew must” (or may) believe. 

Sev­er­al chap­ters shed new light on what may be well-known ground — the debate over anthro­po­mor­phism in Ashke­naz; the naive­ly hereti­cal views of some Cryp­to-Jews, or the strug­gle against Sab­ba­tian­ism in dif­fer­ent parts of the ear­ly mod­ern Jew­ish world. Oth­ers reveal episodes of Jew­ish his­to­ry that have almost van­ished from our mem­o­ry, such as the ban against the Karaites pro­nounced on Mt. Zion dur­ing the fes­ti­val of Hoshana Rab­bah, and the exploits of Jacob Frank. 

This book con­tains impor­tant schol­ar­ship, but the sub­ject mat­ter should inter­est a wide range of read­ers, and the tone of the arti­cles is engag­ing and acces­si­ble. Index.

Discussion Questions