Category Archives: Daniel Lasker

Did a Karaite Invent the Concept of Principles of Faith?

Professor Lasker provides direct translations of many classical Karaite works.

Professor Lasker provides direct translations of many classical Karaite works.

Most religious Jews are aware of Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith. But Maimonides himself was not even the first person of his era to compose principles of faith.

It turns out that Maimonides was beat to the punch by the 12th Century Karaite Sage Judah Hadassi. Today, we’ll examine whether Hadassi was the first to create such a list and we provide a video by Eli Shmuel discussing Haddassi’s principles of faith.

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Filed under Daniel Lasker, Eli Shmuel, Judah Hadassi, Maimonides

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Live

“And we have heard from our teachers that the heretic Anan and his friends used to write down heresies and lies and hide them in the ground.
Then they would take them out and say:  This is what we found in ancient books.” – Rabbi Moses Taku*

Dead Sea Scroll Excerpts of the Book of Psalms Source: Library of Congress

Dead Sea Scroll Excerpts of the Book of Psalms
Source: Library of Congress

To much fanfare, Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority announced this week that they have made the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible online. The Dead Sea Scrolls have some implications for research into the origins and theology of Karaite Judaism. The first modern discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls occurred in late 1940s; but, by all appearances, some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the ninth century. [Editor’s Note 12:49 p.m. (pacific): See the first comment below for a reference to an even earlier discovery.]

What is interesting, from a Karaite perspective, is the clear connection between some of the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and some of the writings of medieval Karaites. This similarity is what prompted Rabbi Moses Taku, a thirteenth century rabbi, to relate a Rabbinic view that Karaites of the eighth century wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and buried them for the sole purpose of later supporting the antiquity of the Karaite movement. (Of course, history has proven this view to be nonsense.)
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Filed under Daniel Lasker, Dead Sea Scrolls, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Karaite Studies: The State of the Field

Karaite Studies: The State of the Field (Part II)

Presentaion of Karaite CommunityThis is the second (and, for now, final) post related to the Karaite Studies:  The State of the Field workshop held in Israel in early 2012.

In this post, we’re picking up where we left off by summarizing and annotating the second half of a question-and-answer session between Rabbi Moshe Firrouz, the Chief Rabbi of the Karaite Council of Sages, and various attendees at the workshop. Based on the number of views, the post on the first half of the question-and-answer session was a hit, and YouTube has a video of the entire session.

A little background is necessary before jumping into this post.  A lot questions relate to ritual purity. Karaites generally concern themselves with ritual purity more so than Rabbanites because the traditional Karaite view is that one may not enter a holy place (such as, in the Karaite tradition, the sanctuary of a synagogue) while ritually impure. We’ll discuss this issue in more detail in a later post. Other topics in this post relate to Karaite butcher shops, mikvehs, fertility, and even the permissibility of pets.

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Filed under Crimea, Daniel Lasker, Fertility, Free Will, Full Prostration, Head Coverings, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Marriages, Menstruation, Mikveh, Moetzet Hachamim (Council of Sages), Moshe Firrouz, Mourning, Pets, Prayer, Ritual Purity, Sacrifice, Secular Karaism, What is Karaite Judaism, Women in Karaism