Real-Life Karaites Pray Here!
It seems like whenever an orthodox rabbi wants to win a halakhic debate he compares his opponents (or their position) to Karaites (or Karaism). To be honest, these comparisons are sometimes the best publicity Karaites can get. I can name dozens of Karaites whose first introduction to Karaite Judaism was through a rabbi who criticized them for holding Karaite beliefs.
But there’s something deeper and more troubling going on with these comparisons.
Original Source Unknown*
For much of Jewish history, Karaites (and their intellectual predecessors) and Rabbanites (and their intellectual predecessors) have argued over which movement represents the original form of Judaism.
Karaites believe that the original form of Judaism was characterized by adherence only to the written Tanakh, with no oral accompaniment.** Rabbanites disagree with this notion, and believe that God gave the Jewish people an oral law.
Regardless of who is correct about the divine-origin of the Oral Law, is it fair claim either movement is the original form of Judaism? Almost certainly not.
Several months ago, I wondered aloud: “What’s the difference between Kol Melacha and Melechet Avodah?” I still laugh at the response I got: “If only there were a book in which wise men discussed these issues and wrote it down.” Of course, the “book” referred to in the response is the Talmud and the “wise men” are the Rabbis.
Perhaps, I have Talmud envy – not in the 10th Commandment sense, of course. And definitely not in the “binding law” sense. But I would so love books that were highly-regarded expositions of Karaite thought and were widely available. I recently discussed this with someone whom I’d met through the Karaite Jewish University. His views were telling about the accessibility of Karaite literature: “Shawn, you can go into just about any major bookstore and find books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which relate to a movement [i.e., the Essenes] that hasn’t existed for over 1000 years; but you can’t find a single book on Karaism, a movement that exists to this day.”
Ray Lewis: Talmudic Scholar?
In an interview that aired shortly before Super Bowl XLVII – whatever number that is – Ray Lewis was asked whether he had anything to say to the families of two allegedly murdered individuals. These families (apparently) believe that Lewis has not been forthright about his involvement in the two deaths. Lewis’ response was Talmudic.