Category Archives: Jacob ben Reuben

Learning 3: A Karaite Perspective on the High Holidays

How many of these rituals are what the Torah intended?

May you reach the end of the holidays and rejoice for completing them. In case you were not able to join us for the live webinar, my latest learning has been posted to YouTube. And is also embedded below.

In this talk you’ll learn: 1) Whether we are commanded by the Torah’s text to blow a shofar; 2) What the Jewish sages said about the connection between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur; 3) What are we supposed to do with those “four species”, and 4) what Biblical holiday has Simhath Torah overshadowed.

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Filed under Daniel al-Kumisi, Holidays, Jacob ben Reuben, James Walker, Lithuania, My Talks, Shofar, Solomon ben Aaron, The Karaite Press, The Palanquin, videos, Yefet ben 'Ali, Yom Kippur, Yom Teruah

BREAKING NEWS: My father was not a wandering Aramaean (and neither was yours)

What makes this Haggadah different from all the rest?

What makes this Haggadah different from all the rest?

This weekend, Jews throughout the world will be retelling the story of our national exodus from Egypt. And in the traditional haggadah reading, both Karaites and Rabbanites recite the following three words from Deuteronomy 26:5: Arami Oved Avi. The most common translation of these words is “My father (“avi”) was a wandering (“oved”) Aramaean (“arami’)”. This is in fact how the Jewish Publication Society has chosen to interpret these words.

There is an interesting debate in the Rabbinic community about what these words mean. But none of the Rabbinic opinions I have come across is fully satisfying. The historical Karaites have a unique interpretation of these words. And that interpretation is also not perfect. At the end of this post, you can vote on the interpretation you believe is the “best.”

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Filed under ibn Ezra, Jacob ben Reuben, Passover, Rashbam, Rashi

Are the Historical Karaite Jewish Objections to Hanukkah Still Relevant Today?

Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.

Farag Menashe (still living in Cairo at the time) with the Cairo Codex.

In 1979, Hadassah Magazine visited the last remaining Karaite Jews of Cairo, Egypt. The magazine provides this tidbit regarding the shochet of the community, Farag Murad Yehuda Menashe:

[H]e will read a Haggada based on biblical texts, free of all Talmudic references. He will have no seder plate, no four questions, and no four cups of wine. His Shavuot will always fall on Sunday, and instead of fasting on the Ninth of Av, he will fast on the seventh and tenth. He has never heard the shofar blown, never put on tefillin, and never affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of his home, and never lit a hanukkiya. (Indeed, Hanukkah is totally absent from his calendar.)[1]

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Filed under Aharon ben Eliyahu, Hanukkah, Jacob ben Reuben, Mikdash Me'at, Purim

The Fall of the Karaite Movement (w/ Manuscript Photos)

Some of the rare Karaite literature that has actually seen the light of day.

Some of the rare Karaite literature that has actually seen the light of day.

B’ezrat Hashem, this November I’ll be speaking at a synagogue in Maryland. The topic for this talk is Karaite Judaism: The Rise and Fall of a Movement. Although most of what I speak about is uplifting, Karaite Jews need to come face to face with why the movement fell – and to some extent failed.

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Filed under Jacob ben Reuben, Lithuania, Salmon ben Yeruham, Yefet ben 'Ali