Saturday, November 25, 2017

Oppenheimer, Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: AHARON OPPENHEIMER. Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. Statesman, Reformer, and Redactor of the Mishnah. [Rabbi Jehuda ha-Nassi. Staatsmann, Reformer und Redaktor der Mischna.] 2017. XIV, 291 pages.
Published in English.
The patriarch Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi headed the independent Jewish leadership institutions in Roman Palestine at the turn of the second and third centuries CE. He conducted the affairs of the patriarchate with a high hand, was renowned for his learning and behaved like a kind of anointed king. He was also incredibly rich, a consummate politician, and close to the Roman authorities. He made taqqanot (reforms) in the light of circumstances, and tried to cancel mitzvoth (religious regulations), such as the regulations about shemita (not using the land in the sabbatical year), which entailed hardship for the Jews of his time. He was ahead of his times in his humane and liberal decisions. Rabbi completed the redaction of the Mishnah and thus gave the Jewish people the work that is second in importance only to the Torah, although by so doing he put a brake on the development of the oral law. Aharon Oppenheimer attempts to present Rabbi Jehuda ha-Nassi's character and his life as well as examining the significance of his work for his own generation and succeeding ones.

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