Ideals Face Reality: Jewish Law and Life in Poland, 1550-1655

Ideals Face Reality: Jewish Law and Life in Poland, 1550-1655

by Edward Fram
     
 

ISBN-10: 0878204202

ISBN-13: 9780878204205

Pub. Date: 07/28/1999

Publisher: Hebrew Union College Press

Jewish life in early modern Poland was characterized by an adherence to Jewish law (halakhah) that Polish Jewry had inherited from medieval Franco-German Jewry, and almost all aspects of Jewish activity, even the most personal of matters, fell within its purview. Jewish law remained constant throughout the ages in some areas, but in others rabbis were forced

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Overview

Jewish life in early modern Poland was characterized by an adherence to Jewish law (halakhah) that Polish Jewry had inherited from medieval Franco-German Jewry, and almost all aspects of Jewish activity, even the most personal of matters, fell within its purview. Jewish law remained constant throughout the ages in some areas, but in others rabbis were forced to reinterpret it in light of the complexities of contemporary life.

Edward Fram draws upon the ordinances of Polish Jewry's political leadership, Polish legal records, and the responsa of some of the outstanding poseqim of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to show how Polish jurists responded to those complexities. His case studies, gleaned from a period of exceptional creativity in the annals of Polish Jewry, deal with weddings on the Sabbath, the rights of daughters to familial wealth, women in the marketplace, the personal reliability of those who dealt in the sale of kosher wine, competition among Jews for sources of livelihood obtained through leases (arendy), the transfer and payment of personal debts via bills payable to bearers (membrany), and personal insolvency.

Concerned with the needs of the underprivileged as well as those of the marketplace, these rabbis struggled to maintain the integrity of Jewish communal life and to preserve the tradition they perceived to represent divine law. Particularly in commerce, failure to observe Jewish law or at least the independent direction taken by the lay leadership often became the basis for communal legislation and practice. Fram shows how the Polish community, at times consciously and at times unconsciously, transformed some of its traditional values until they may have been unrecognizable to Jews from an earlier age.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878204205
Publisher:
Hebrew Union College Press
Publication date:
07/28/1999
Series:
Monographs of the Hebrew Union College Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
180
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations and Style
Introduction1
Ch. 1Jews Among Poles15
Ch. 2The Jewish Community38
Ch. 3Personal Piety48
Ch. 4Social Issues as Halakhic Determinants67
Ch. 5The Acquisition of Leases106
Ch. 6Bills Payable to Bearers129
Ch. 7Bankruptcy and Those who Fled their Creditors144
Bibliography165
General Index179
Index of Medieval and Pre-Modern Rabbinic Sources Cited183

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