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

Six Questions & Answers: Two Rabbanites & the Karaite Shul

The scene of cross-denominational dialogue

The scene of cross-denominational dialogue

Around Passover, Sara and Elijah, two students from a Talmud study group at UC Berkeley’s (Go Bears!) Hillel, spent the weekend at the Karaite synagogue in Daly City.  Not only did they join us for Shabbat prayers, they actually prostrated in the traditional Karaite fashion.

I recently posed six questions to them about their experience at the synagogue.

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Filed under Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Karaite Synagogues

Karaites are Really Bad Literalists

Babylonian TalmudSomeone recently told me that he found the Karaite Jewish approach to halakha rather nonintellectual, because Karaites only follow what the Torah says and do not search for the deeper meaning.

Oy! Karaites do not follow what the Torah “says;” we seek to follow what the Torah “means.” These two things are not always the same. Today, let’s look at some of my favorite non-literal Karaite interpretations.

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Filed under Marriages, Shechita, Tefillin

Going Karaite for Shavuot

Up for the Count is off to a great start.

How Do You Count to 50?

The Karaite Jews of America is in the midst of its Up For The Count campaign, and the KJA has received tremendous interest from non-Karaites who want to learn to count the omer in accordance with the traditional Karaite timing and formulation.

This was rather surprising to me initially; but it should not be.

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Filed under Karaite Jews of America, Shavuot

No One Counts to 50 Like Karaites

Up for the Count is off to a great start.

Up for the Count is off to a great start.

It’s that time of year that some people love and others have never heard of. That’s right; we’re counting the omer, a period of 50 days from the Sunday that occurs during Passover until the Sunday of Shavuot.

The Karaites and Rabbanites differ as to when to start counting the omer. You can read about that here. A young Israeli Karaite even made headlines when he refused to compete live on A Star is Born (the Israeli franchise of “American Idol”), because it coincided with the biblical/Karaite Shavuot.

But today, we’re just going to look at how Karaites count to 50.

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Filed under Counting of the Omer, Karaite Jews of America