Every once in a while someone takes an unnecessary shot at Karaites and Karaism. Sometimes these shots actually cause collateral damage to the Rabbinic community. So, even though I hate to respond to modern polemics, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen at the algemeiner, you’ve got my attention.
Rabbi Rosen starts off well-meaning enough. He asks a simple question “Who are the Karaites, and do they keep Simchat Torah?” But from there he veers wildly off course. Let’s review.
Jacob Moussa holding an ancient manuscript in 1977, surrounded by Egyptian Karaites (still living in Cairo at the time).
The three most well-known codices in the Jewish biblical tradition are the Cairo Codex, the Aleppo Codex, and the Leningrad Codex. At one time or another, each was in possession of the Karaite Jewish community.
The Cairo Codex is an ancient vocalized manuscript of the Nevi’im, i.e., all of books of the prophets in the Tanakh. It is commonly believed that the Cairo Codex of the Prophets was written by the Karaite Moshe ben Asher in the year 895/896. [1.]
But it turns out that this common belief is almost certainly wrong.
“Jews come in many shapes and colors. One of the strangest is the Karaites, founded in the 7th century by a charismatic Jew named Anan Ben David. He totally rejected the holiness of the Talmud and strictly obeyed only the 613 mitzvot found in the Torah.”
– Lurie: The double mystery of the Cairo codex
(May, 2, 2012; SunSentinel.com)
I always knew that being a Karaite Jew made me unique. But thanks to the above article, everyone now thinks I’m strange.
The Cairo Codex
Source: The Ancient Standard
I met Mr. Lurie, the article’s author, during Passover 2012, when he visited Congregation B’nai Israel, home of the Karaite Jews of America. Mr. Lurie came across as a very warm individual, so I was delighted to speak with him about Karaite Judaism and his research on the Cairo Codex. He even wrote a follow-up article about his time with us.
I commend Mr. Lurie for making the trek from (normally) sunny South Florida to (normally) overcast Daly City; but his view of Karaite Judaism is, well, very Rabbanite-centric.