Karaites and Beit Shammai: An Alliance for the Ages

Babylonian TalmudThere is a Rabbinic saying that when Mashiach comes, Jews will adopt the opinions of Beit Shammai. I don’t know whether this saying is correct, but I do chuckle every time I hear it.

You see, in one very interesting way, the Shabbat practice of Beit Shammai is virtually identical to the historical Karaite view.

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Filed under Beit Hillel, Shabbat, Shammai

New Moon, Full Moon, Karaite Moon, Local Moon (?!?)

Crescent new moon in the Land of Israel.

Crescent new moon in the Land of Israel.

We hear a lot these days of “identity politics.” Today, I explore “identity halacha” and realize that my religious Karaite identity is slowly getting turned on its head. And I’m fine with that.

For approximately 15 years, I have been a zealous advocate of using the moon in the Land of Israel to determine when to observe our holidays in the Diaspora. I set this forth in a book. I stated this in a Karaite Fact Card. And I couldn’t count how many times I stated this at the Karaite synagogue.

But over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I might have been wrong.

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Filed under Calendar, Daniel al-Kumisi, Karaite Fact Cards, Moshe Firrouz, New Moon

Mourners of Zion and Residents of Gaza

The gift that keeps on giving.

The gift that keeps on giving.

Israel’s recent (and maybe ongoing?) war with Hamas prompted me to look into whether there was ever a Karaite Jewish presence in what is now referred to as the Gaza Strip. As far as I know, no Karaites lived in the Strip in 2005 when then Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon evicted the Jewish residents there.

But I was surprised to learn that Gaza (the city, not the strip) featured in several aspects of medieval Jewish life.

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Filed under Aviv, Mourners of Zion, Salmon ben Yeruham

The Internet is Big Enough

From FrumKaraite, which is among the many new sites promoting a Karaite approach to Tanakh and life.

From FrumKaraite, which is among the many new sites promoting a Karaite approach to Tanakh and life.

Just after I started my blog, a friend whom I met through the Mission Minyan – my Rabbanite congregation of choice these days – told me that my blog was too serious. He thought I needed more satire and shtick. I told him that I pray for the day that there are enough Karaite blogs that one of them can focus on “satire and shtick.”

That day may not be far. And it might already be here.

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Filed under Karaite Sites

Six Questions & Answers: Moshe Firrouz, Chief Neighbor of the Karaite Community

Moshe Firrouz receiving The Prof. Naphtali Wieder Prize for Scholarship in Medieval History and  Exegesis, Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East

Moshe Firrouz receiving The Prof. Naphtali Wieder Prize for Scholarship in Medieval History and
Exegesis, Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East

Today, I catch up with Moshe Firrouz. Although I’ve known Moshe personally for almost 10 years, it is still a bit odd for me to refer to him without a title. After all, he is the Chief Hakham of the Karaite Community.

But Moshe cares more about serving Hashem than he does about titles.

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Filed under Judah Hadassi, Moshe Firrouz, Yaqub al-Qirqisani

Rambam’s Revenge: Rationalism & the Karaite Renaissance

Make no mistake about it, Rambam was bad for Karaism. And despite the whisperings of some Karaites, Rambam was not a closet Karaite. He just wasn’t.

But the Rabbinic community’s growing return to Rambam-based principles is undeniably good for Karaites and Karaism. Today we look at Rambam’s impact on Karaism both historically and today.

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Filed under Maimonides, Rationalism, Yaqub al-Qirqisani

Old Pirates, New Terrorists and Redeeming Captives

Three Abducted Israeli Teens (Source: Times of Israel)

Three Abducted Israeli Teens
(Source: Times of Israel)

Last week, the Jewish world was rocked by (yet again) news that three Israeli citizens had been abducted by Palestinian terrorists.  I don’t profess any particular insight as to what to do about this (recurring) situation.  Nor do I believe these latest abductions will be the last.

Today, I simply pray for their safe return and highlight the need for Jewish unity at times like this.

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Filed under Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Ransom