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.
Pinchas Roth (PR) is a post-doctoral fellow at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.