Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Who is a Jew?

For those unaware of it, I recently started a blog related to exposing the tactics of “messianics jews” called Messianics Exposed (thus the link amongst those in the frame on the right). I made a post there recently which I have decided is relevant here, though slightly expanded on in terms of making it more universal though it is still very much focussed on what the “messianic jews” try to claim.

So, here is the question: Who is a Jew? On the surface, it would seem that it should be easy- surely a Jew is one who thinks he is a Jew? After all- some argue that if someone chooses to identify with, and take on the behaviours of, a group, they have the right to identify with that group. Others might be more restrictive and say- anyone that is going to be prosecuted for being a part of the group is surely part of the group and thus include anyone the Nazis would have prosecuted. The problem with both these simplistic approaches is that it ignores one very important factor, that of the definition from group itself! So, what is the Jewish definition?

Halachicly, Judaism defines someone as Jewish if their MOTHER (matrilineal descent) is Jewish or if they have a halachicly (according to Jewish law) valid conversion. Reform Judaism in the USA (outside of the USA most congregations follow the law of matrilineality) extends this definition a bit to include patrilineal descent to a limited extent- in other words, they only accept patrilineal descent combined with living a Jewish life and identification with the Jewish community (by Reform definitions, not Orthodox.) Thus the individual should observe life cycle events, be a member of community and such though there is no requirement for kashrut, tzitzit, tefillin etc). Since I am Orthodox, and this is an Orthodox blog, I am going to put aside the Reform in the USA’s recognition of patrilineal descent and just state that it is not accepted by Orthodox and leave it there (and if I have misstated it in anyway, I will welcome clarification from Reform readers and fix what I have stated. I do not pretend to be an expert on Reform or Conservative Judaism).

So, within Orthodox Judaism we have two definitions of a Jew- the one with a Jewish mother and the convert. Where do we learn this from? Matrilineal descent is learned from the Torah and we see it being explictly applied in the Tanakh. We learn it from the Torah in Devarim (Deuterenomy) Chapter 7

. You shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son. ג. וְלֹא תִתְחַתֵּן בָּם בִּתְּךָ לֹא תִתֵּן לִבְנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ לֹא תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ:
4. For he will turn away your son from following Me, and they will worship the gods of others, and the wrath of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you. ד. כִּי יָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי וְעָבְדוּ אֱ־לֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְחָרָה אַף יְ־הֹוָ־ה בָּכֶם וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מַהֵר:

Now, verse 3 explictly states that neither Jewish men or women can marry non-Jews. However, in verse 4 there is a concern that the husband of the Jewish woman will entice the children into leaving Judaism, but there is no reciprocal concern that the wife of a Jewish man will entice the children out of Judaism- why not? The children are not Jewish. Rashi addresses this here in his commentary on the Torah and it is discussed in the Talmud in masechta Kiddushin daf 68b.

Where do we learn this from in the Tanakh? In Sefer Ezra (the Book of Ezra) in Ketuvim, we read the following in chapter 10 (see the chapter further for details):

3. And now, let us make a covenant with our God to cast out all the wives and their offspring, by the counsel of the Lord and those who hasten to [perform] the commandment of our God, and according to the Law it shall be done.

AND

10. And Ezra the priest arose and said to them, “You have dealt treacherously, and you have taken in foreign wives to add to Israel’s guilt. י.
11. And now, confess to the Lord, the God of your forefathers, and do His will, and separate from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” יא.
12. Then the entire congregation replied and said in a loud voice: “Yes! We must do as you say!

AND

16. The people of the exile did so. Ezra the priest [and certain] men, heads of the fathers’ houses after the house of their fathers, separated themselves, all of them [known] by name, and they convened on the first day of the tenth month to investigate the matter. טז.
17. And they completed everything concerning the men who had brought in foreign women, until the first day of the first month.

Now, we read that the men put the wives AND their children from those wives aside. The wives it can be easily understood that they were not Jewish- after all, it was only the non-Jewish women they were required to seperate from. The children are not explicitly stated. So why would the men seperate from them? If they were Jewish, they would be obligated to educate them as Jews, something that would be difficult to impossible if the children were put aside! The answer to that, is that these children were not Jewish and thus there was no obligation to educate them, or to bring them up as Jews!

Another less direct source goes even further back- to the time of Avraham! Where do we see that? Avraham had three wives and eight children. Hagar was an Egyptian and idol worshiper- Ishmael is not seen as Jewish. Keturah is not seen as being a complete follower of Avraham’s religious views and her children are not Jewish. Sarah is the only one of the three wives who completely absorbs Avraham’s faith and worships G-d in the same manner as he does- her son Yitzchak IS Jewish. Now, all eight children have the same father – but only one mother is considered Jewish, and only her son and his descendants are considered Jewish! Thus we can see that even in the time of Avraham, the father did not dictate the religion of the child, but the mother. If it had been the father, then all eight would have been amongst the patriarchs of the Jewish faith!

We see this with the two children of Yitzchak as well. Esav marries women that are not acceptable, that are idol worshippers – Ya’akov marries righteous women who takes up his beliefs and worships G-d as a Jewess. None of the children of Esav are considered Jewish- the children of Ya’akov are considered Jewish since his wives had all converted to Judaism! Again- it is the status of the mother that confers Jewishness to the children- not the status of the father!

Thus we have shown the first of these requirements is satisfied from the Torah and Tanakh. How about a convert? From where do we know that the convert is Jewish? Simply put- the Torah frequently includes the convert as a Jew- emphasising that they are part of the community (see below). Probably one of the earliest mentions of the convert as a member of the community is found in Shemot (exodus) Chapter 12

47. The entire community of Israel shall make it. מז. כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ:
48. And should a proselyte reside with you, he shall make a Passover sacrifice to the Lord. All his males shall be circumcised, and then he may approach to make it, and he will be like the native of the land, but no uncircumcised male may partake of it. מח. וְכִי יָגוּר אִתְּךָ גֵּר וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַי־הֹוָ־ה הִמּוֹל לוֹ כָל זָכָר וְאָז יִקְרַב לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ וְהָיָה כְּאֶזְרַח הָאָרֶץ וְכָל עָרֵל לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ:
49. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who resides in your midst.” מט. תּוֹרָה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָאֶזְרָח וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכְכֶם:

Verse 47 states the entire community of Bnei Yisrael makes the the Korban Pesach (and the prior verses enumerated those excluded). In verse 48 it explictly expands the community to include the convert and verse 48 then again combines the two into a single unit by statiung that the law for a born Jew and a convert are identical- we do not differntiate.

When it comes to seeing this in the Tanakh, the most famous example is that of Rut, the ancestress of King David. How much more proof do you need than an explicit declaration that the ancestress of the line from which the mashiach will ultimately come is a convert! Even more, the Talmud in masechta Yevamos uses the speech by Rut to Naomi to derive the laws and requirements for a Kosher conversion! And thus the second way of being Jewish is enumerated and proven through the Torah and Tanakh.

Are there any other ways in which a person could be considered Jewish? From the Orthodox POV – NO. Thats it, these are the two only ways and no one else is considered to be Jewish (the recognition of Karaites as Jews is not a contradiction to this- but rather seen from the following angle- the original Karaites were Jews and until very recently did not allow conversion. Thus even though they recignise patrilineal descent, by default all Karaites also had matrilineal descent satisfying the Orthodox requirements. With the recent decision by Karaites to allow conversion, this stance may need to be relooked at since it raises two questions: One the validity of their conversions and the issue of patrilineal descent when the mother is the convert)

One often sees “messianic jews” making the claim that since they were born Jewish, they remain Jewish regardless of what religion they follow. They claim that regardless of what they do, they cannot loose their Jewishness. In essence, they insist Jews are a race, and one cannot loose ones race through converting to a new religion. Of course, the vast majority of people in “messianic jewish” communities have zero connection to Judaism- the estimates of people that are actually halachicly Jewish within their communities ranges from between 1% at the bottom end, to 9% at the top end. As always, there are a few communities with a majority of former Jews in their ranks, and others where no members have any real connection to Judaism. But what about that 1-9% of members that used to be classified as Jews? Are they members of a “Jewish race”?

You have to wonder where they get this idea of a Jewish race from. It is not from the Torah which has many stories of converts- from the time of Avraham where Eleizer his servant had converted, as had the hundreds of men and their families that served as Avraham’s battle with the five kings, to the leaving of Egypt where the eruv rav (“mixed multitude”) left Egypt with the Jews, but they had disappeared by the time the Jews entered Israel 40 years later. Where did they go? They either left the nation during the travels in the desert or converted to Judaism and joined with the tribes of those they converted under. The Tanakh has examples as well; the most famous being the conversion of Ruth (and which is used as the Talmud, in masechta Yevamos, as the template to teach us what a valid conversion entails). We even see that Moshe married a convert- Miriam complains about his Black wife, for which Miriam is punished with tzora’as; but we see that Tziporah had obviously converted and had been taught by Moshe as when G-d came to kill Moshe for not circumcising his sons Tziporah knew what to do (Shemot (Exodus) Chapter 4 v24-27).

The status of converts and their descendants as being the equal of every Jew is probably exemplified by the first verse of Torah that a child learns and which is sung joyfully at his upshiernes (a custom many have of only cutting a boy’s hair for the first time at age 3) from Devarim (Deuteronomy) chapter 33:

4. The Torah that Moshe commanded us is a legacy for the congregation of Ya’akov. ד. תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ מֹשֶׁה מוֹרָשָׁה קְהִלַּת יַעֲקֹב

Why does it talk about the “congregation of Ya’akov (Jacob aka Yisrael aka Israel)? Simple- it is an all inclusive term for all that believe in G-d, convert and born Jew alike. It is not Bnei Yisrael that some could argue would be only those descended from Ya’akov! Similarly, we read in Devarim (Deuteronomy) Chapter 6 the most fundamental declaration of the Jewish faith

4. Hear, O Yisrael: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one. ד. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶחָד:

Again, it is Yisrael, the nation, not Bnei Yisrael, just those descended from Ya’akov. It is all inclusive, the entire nation is addressed; we are all equally required to recognise the uniqueness, indivisibility and singularity that is G-d.

So where does this idea of a Jewish race originate? It is not an old one, it did not exist in the times of the Temples or even through most of history. In fact, we can trace its origins mainly to the 19th century, and the works of the early proponents of racial theories in which different groups of people had different values due to their “race”. It was developed from here by the Nazi’s, and had the inevitable consequence of the holocaust. Why do I state that it was inevitable? There is an excellent chapter in the book “Hitler’s willing executioner’s” by Daniel Goldenhagen in which he traces the development of anti-Semitism from its early roots where it was based on religion, fear of the unknown and politics to racial anti-Semitism. In his book, Daniel Goldenhagen makes the point that in the past genocide was not the aim of anti-Semitism, the aim was conversion- getting them to be the same, to convert to the religion, to accept the ruling authorities (who frequently claimed divine right to rule). A person was seen as a human being first- their Jewishness something they could change. Racial anti-Semitism altered this equation- one cannot change ones race, thus merely converting the Jews was no longer an option, and if they were an inferior race bringing the entire of humanity down, the inevitable solution had to be genocide. Note: I am NOT calling “messianic jews” Nazis, merely stating that their seeing Judaism as being racial originated with Nazis.

So, if the “messianic jews” do not utilise the Nazi’s justification, what do they use? Here we see how they abuse Jewish sources to try and support their claim. They take a comment in the Talmud masechta Sanhedrin out of context- in reference to a passage in Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah)- the sages state that even when Israel sins, it remains Israel and does not loose its covenant with G-d. Their simplistic understanding of the text, and ignoring context and the rest of the law on this matter, leads them into a serious error here. How so? Yes- they remain Jewish- and if they do not repent they are PUNISHED! We see this clearly- the Jews were punished for their sinning by the Temple being destroyed, so an individual who sins and does not repent is punished. The last chapter of masechta Sanhedrin, Chapter 11 called chapter Chelek, starts with a Mishnah listing those who are punished with kares (in other words, are seperated from the community in this world and from G-d in the world to come, the worst possible punishment). This list includes a Jew who takes on any foreign beliefs as part of his serving G-d! It includes those who read the books of other religions to serve G-d, it includes those who deliberately misuse a knowledge of Torah to lead others into sin. In other words, there are multiple reasons why a member of “messianic judaism” would suffer from kares. The Rishonim (the Rabbis in the generation after the Talmud was sealed until the time the Shuklkhan Aruch was written) vary in how strictly we separate the people from the community. All place them outside of the community and unable to participate in the community in any manner whatsoever- but the ease with which they are allowed to rejoin the community is debated. Some allow them to return with a simple declaration and public acceptance of Judaism, some require mikvah and a declaration before a Beis Din (court) of at least three judges. The Rema in Shulkhan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 268:12) and the Rambam in Hilchos Avodas Kochavim rule the person completely separated from Judaism and thus needing a full conversion including mikvah and Beis Din before the person can return. In the modern era we generally rule according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein that in the modern era the vast majority of converts come from backgrounds devoid of proper Jewish education and thus we treat them as a “captured child” i.e. a child that was captured by non-Jews and grew up with no knowledge of Torah and is thus deemed innocent of transgressions of the law. Some still require mikveh and declaration before a Beis Din (though not a full conversion), but most just allow the person to repent and return to Judaism.

So, here is the crux of the matter- a Jew who converts to ANY other religion ceases to be a part of the Jewish community, ceases to be seen as Jewish and ceases to have any meaningfull connection to Judaism and the Torah. What does the verse in Yirmiyahu and the Talmud in masechta Sanhedrin teach? That the person retains a connection to the fact that they were Jewish- and are thus always JUDGED and PUNISHED as a Jew! Even if their new religion is 100% compliant with the seven laws of Bnei Noach and a non-Jew would be considered a ger tzedek, a former Jew in the other religion would be punished with Kares and not considered Jewish while alive! So, when “messianic jews” try to claim ‘once a Jew, always a Jew’, they neglect to mention the full extent of this law- and that they remain Jews only for the purposes of judgement and punishment!

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July 5, 2010 - Posted by | Current affairs, Messianic, Other Torah, Talmud, Torah | , , , , , , , , ,

21 Comments »

  1. Rav Haim Palagi (one of my favorite Ah`aronim) writes (Sh’eelot U’Teshuvot-Haim Be’Yad 99) that we don’t deal with apostate (he wrote specifically those that convert to Xianity) at ALL. They

    Comment by Gavriel | July 5, 2010 | Reply

    • YEs, his position is the classic one. It was this because of this position held by many acharonim that for many years if someone converted out the fmily said kadish, sat shivah and treated the person as dead. However, this position changed due to the famous teshuvah of HaRav Moshe Feinstein zs”l that in the modern era the vast majority of converts can be considered to be a tinok she’lo b’nishmah and cannot be held fully accountable for their actions due to this. This has become universally accepted (except for in a few communities) and we keep the door open by not treating the person as dead but rather encouraging them to return to authentic Judaism. Harder for us in many ways as the wound is reopened every time we see the person, but there is more of a chance of someone returning to Judaism rather than losing them.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m not sure if the Lubavticher Rebbe was a Posek, but that’s what he held also held like Rav Moishe.
    I can’t find it anywhere in Yalkut Yosef, Yabia Omer, Yahaweh Da’at- or any of the Sephardic poskim in the past 20 years.
    Did you know, that Rav Moishe finished Sha”s at 13, and Shulhan Aruch at 15? He was an unbelievable Gadol. I wish I had the merit to meet him, or even be in the same world with him!

    Comment by Gavriel | July 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Unfortunately I am not familiar enough with Sephardi Poskin to direct you on this one- but I understand that moset Sephardim follow the ruling of HaRav Moshe Feinstein zs”l on this. As for the intellect of Rav Moshe- he was a truly astounding man- and I am fortunate that the Rabbi i frequnetly study with was one of his students and helped with the editing of Iggeros Moshe. You know you are lucky when you aske a question and the answer begins with “when Rav Moshe and Rav Komenetsky were teaching this to us, they said….” Heh, and even though my Rav is here in South africa, he has helped as an expert and editor on the Schottenstein Talmud translation.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. Yeah- you’re right we should try to bring them back, but once they’ve gotten to involved in what they converted it’s very hard to get them out of it.
    That’s the only reason Rav Mizrahi had to disprove Xianity:
    http://www.divineinformation.com/featured-videos/the-debate-christianity-vs-judaism/

    Comment by Gavriel | July 5, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MarcL, Dan DeLa Cruz. Dan DeLa Cruz said: Who is a Jew? « Musings of an Orthodox Jew http://bit.ly/csBSbF […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Who is a Jew? « Musings of an Orthodox Jew -- Topsy.com | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  5. ALLONYOAV- EVERYONE IS TELLING ME ‘ONCE A JEW ALWAYS A JEW’, AND THEY ARE CORRECT.
    BUT IF A JEW IS A MUMAR, THEY CAN’T PARTICIPATE IN *ANY* JEWISH CERIMONIES!

    Comment by Gavriel | July 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Read above and see exactly what is implied by the statement “once a Jew always a Jew”. Essentially unless the person repents they are treated as being NON-JEWISH in every way! So what connection do they retain to Judaism? When they die they are judged as a Jew and punished with kares for being a jew that took on foreign beliefs. This is in line with the first Mishnah in chapter Chelek (Chapter 11) oh Masechta sanedrin (also see the coomentary on this Mishnah by the Maharal of Prague in his commentary on Pirkei Avot).

      So- you are correct in stating they cannot participate in any ceremonies- they are considered to be completely non-Jewish and not allowed to act on behalf of another Jew (one debate wold be if they could be considred amongst the sinners we say are welcome to pray with the community on Yom Kippur. The ruling is NO- the sinners there are Jewish sinners and still members of the community- a convert to another religion is no longer a member of the Jewish community and is thus not one of the sinners we welcome to pray with the community on Yom Kippur.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 7, 2010 | Reply

  6. I READ THIS IS ONLY IF IT IS IN ‘FARHESIA-PUBLIC’. SO, IF ONE IS A OVED KACHAVIM ‘BESETER-IN PRIVATE’ THEY ARE STILL ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN JEWISH CERIMONIES.
    SO- IN TRUTH, IT’S BETTER TO NOT BE BORN JEWISH-OVED KACHAVIM, THEN TO BE BORN GENTILE-OVED KACHAVIM.
    THE RAMBAM WRITES (HILCHOT AVODAT KOCHAVIM, 2:5)THAT WE DON’T ACCPET THEM BACK FOR T’SHUVAH. BUT OBVIOUSLY SINCE THERE ARE ‘TINOKIM SHENISHBEHU’, WE FOLLOW THE P’SAK OF THE MODERN DAY POSKIM- THAT PERMIT T’SHUVAH.
    I’M REALLY A FAN OF YOUR BLOGS,THAT’S WHY I ADDED THEM TO MY LIST ON MY BLOG.
    SO, I ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONTINUE ON YOUR TRACK, AND BE’EZRAS HASH-M YOU WILL FIND A SHIDUCH.

    Comment by Gavriel | July 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Nope- a person who is an oved kochavim, whether publicly or privately, is nto allowed to offer the Korban Pesach and is not a memeber fo the Jewish community. The difference comes into the acts of the person themselves: If they are private and no one knows of them, then obviously know one will stop him and he would be able to publicly act as a Jew. However, in such a case his soul would bear the punishment for everyone else in terms of the mitzvah he would have prevented them from performing as he is not qualified to be a shaliach of the community. However, the other people would still be rewatrded for the merit of performing the mitzvah as, even though he was not qualified to act as shaliach, they did not know this and thus are treated as being righteous individuals and rewarded for it!

      And yes, Ramban rules they need a full conversion (thus he says we do not accept them back in teshuvah- further commentary tells us that in this he means that they must come back and convert as if they were a non-jew, not as a Jew repenting, and we remain suspicious of them until they die as only then would we be able to state their conversion was genuine.) You find the Rema also has this Psak.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 8, 2010 | Reply

  7. I asked two other Rabbanim, and they said what I said. So now it’s 2 vs. 2 Rabbis. Now, I will ask a few more to get the final p’sika- thanks for the input.
    BTW: Which DAF on Chagiah is the Kabbalah thingy on?

    Comment by Gavriel | July 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Nope- you go to ONE Rabbi, that being the one you follow and you follwo the rukling he gives you! You do not shop around for opinions but go according to the opinion of your teacher! As it says in Pirkei Avot “Aeh le’cha RAV”! You choose a teachewr and master and follwo their rulings- you do nto go looking for people to agree or disagree! it is why a student should not pasken in the place where his teacher lives to show respect for his teacher.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. You gotta finish the saying “Aseh Lecha Rav, U’kneh Lecha Haver- make for yourself a Rabbi, and BUY for yourself a friend” what does it mean “buy a friend”? Shouldn’t it be “Aseh Lecha Rav, U’Haver”, but no it means- even if you have to buy him off, you should.
    I guess you’re right.

    Comment by Gavriel | July 9, 2010 | Reply

    • You need to study pirkei avot more- try the ma’am loetz, a lot easier than the maharal’s commentary! The first refers to a teacher and master the second to a study partner and is saying that if the person cannto find himself someone to study with, they should go as far as to suport someone to enable the chavrusa!

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 12, 2010 | Reply

    • You can recommend it- but it is not a Kabbalistic book per se. Readn his commentary on Pirkei Avot and Shir HaShirim to learn kabbalah is about the same as reading the Maharal of Prague’s commentary on pirkei avos to learn kabbalah- unless you already have a solid foundation and know what to look for, you are unlikely to even know when a kabbalistic concept is being discussed!

      Note; When looking for his books, make sure you are getting a Hebrew edition and not the original. Many of his books, like those of the Ma’am Loetz, were originally written in Ladino with Hebrew characters

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 13, 2010 | Reply

  9. P’neninay R` Haim Palagi- amazing book!

    Comment by Gavriel | July 13, 2010 | Reply

  10. I’M SORRY TO TELL YOU THAT I REALLY DON’T LEARN SO MUCH OF THE MAHARL’S BOOKS. I’M NOT SAYING THAT THEY ARE NOT AMAZING, JUST THAT I’M INTO MORE KABBALISTIC COMMENTARIES (OHR HAHAYIM, ADERET ELIAHU ETC.). I DIDN’T MEAN THAT R` HAIM PALAGI’S ARE KABBALISTIC WORKS ONLY, JUST THAT THEY ARE MOSTLY, BECAUSE HE WAS A GREAT KABBALIST. HIS COMMENTARY HAS DOWN TO EARTH MEANING, AND KABBALAH IN IT. I STUDIED IT DURING THE 7 WEEKS BETWEEN PESAH`, AND SHAVUOS.
    WHO WERE YOU TALKING ABOUT THAT HAS LADINO?
    I DON’T THINK YOU’LL EVER LOOK AT SHIR HASHIRIM, OR AVOS THE SAME AFTER YOU LOOK AT P’NENEI R` HAIM!

    Comment by Gavriel | July 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Please turn your caps lock off when posting.

      I HAVE studied R’ Palagi- with a Sephardi chavruse who had a very old copy of his works from his grandfather in the original Ladino with a Hebre translation and commentary. R’ Palagi, like the Me’am Loetz and some other Sefardi meforshim wrote their books in Ladino, the everyday language of the people of their community. In a like vein Ramabm wrote Moreh nevuchim originally in Arabic to reach the people in his community, and why the Gemorrah was written in Aaramaic, so it wold be understandable to the people then. Similarly, you find many works in Yiddish amongst Ashkenazi commentators.

      Comment by marcl1969 | July 14, 2010 | Reply

  11. Sorry- I can’t write without caps lock, when I’m at Kolel.
    I took a look at the Me’am Loez on Avos yesterday, it’s very interesting. It’s starts off with why it’s called Avot, and brings 6 reasons, very cool- I’l have to learn more of it.
    You mean the Rambam wrote Moreh Nevuchim in Arabic.
    Exactly.
    Which book of R` Palagi did you study?

    Comment by Gavriel | July 14, 2010 | Reply

  12. […] Who is a Jew? July 2010 20 comments 4 […]

    Pingback by 2010 in review « Musings of an Orthodox Jew | January 2, 2011 | Reply


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