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A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with someone who was planning to start Rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After the meeting, he emailed me about a book called A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who teaches at JTS.
A Delightful Compendium is historical fiction and traces the lives of a Karaite Jewish family as they navigate through the Middle Ages. The family members struggle to hold onto their Karaite identity as a minority in the Jewish world.
Today, I am excited to catch up with Rabbi Visotzky about his book, A Delightful Compendium.
Someone 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.
Well, this is a serious bummer.
1000 years ago, the Karaite communities of Ramle and Jerusalem probably would have excommunicated my grandparents.
You see; my maternal grandmother and her sister married my maternal grandfather and his brother, respectively. Two brothers married two sisters (in separate marriages).
I always thought this was beautiful. But from at least the time of Anan and for several hundred years thereafter, the majority of Karaites forbade many types of marriage, including the marriage of two brothers to two sisters.*
And, according to a piece appearing online at the Jerusalem Post this past weekend, some of the Karaites of the 11th Century had no problem tormenting Karaites who violated this prohibition. (See A Problematic Marriage for 11th Century Karaites.)
This 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.
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