Create Karaite Versions of Rabbanite Stories – Reader Contest

Source: National Geographic Kids

Let’s start by saying that this post is intended to be fun. It is also intended to explain Karaite Judaism to people who (despite our best efforts) still need some help. So today, I am starting a contest.

Here is how it works. Below, I will create a Karaite version of a famous Rabbanite story. In the comments, I invite you to do the same. I (in my sole and unreviewable discretion) will pick the top three stories from the comments. I will then create a poll in a future post for readers to vote on the best story. The three finalists will receive gift certificates to The Karaite Press in the following amounts:

  1. Grand Prize Winner: $100
  2. First Runner Up: $50
  3. Second Runner Up: $25
  4. Everyone Else: Will Get What’s in the Box

Please keep stories positive and meaningful. Here is mine:

  • One day a Rabbanite came to provoke Daniel al-Kumisi. The Rabbanite insisted that the Torah was unworkable without the Oral Law. So the Rabbanite said to Daniel, ‘Adopt me into Karaite Judaism by explaining how your system works while I stand on one foot.’  Daniel responded, ‘Search the Scripture well, and do not rely on my opinion. This is the entire system; all else is commentary. Now go and search.’

Now it’s your turn. All entries must be submitted by March 16, 2017. Behatzlacha.


Filed under Daniel al-Kumisi

8 Responses to Create Karaite Versions of Rabbanite Stories – Reader Contest

  1. Hakham Meir Rekhavi

    All the major Rabbis are gathered together at Yavne some time after the destruction of the Temple. They are arguing about the interpretation of the verse ‘You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother’. They pray that YHWH should explain to them the true meaning of this verse.
    All of a sudden a voice comes down from above:
    ‘You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother’.
    “Does that mean we should not eat meat and milk together, even if not cooked together”. Ask the Rabbis.
    ‘You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother’.
    “Does that mean we should have separate dishes for meat and milk”
    ‘You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother’.
    “Does that mean we should wait six hours after eating meat before we can eat milk products”
    ‘If you are not going to listen then why ask’
    Hence the reason that by divine prophesy the verse ‘You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother’ is written three times in our beloved Tora.

  2. Isaac sardar

    One day 2,000 years ago, a non-Jew wanted to convert to Judaism. He went to Hillel, the leading Rabbi of the time, so he can convert him. He asked Hillel, ‘what do I have to accept/believe in order to become Jewish?’ Hillel responded, ‘You must accept/believe in two Torahs–the written and the oral. The Non-Jew responded, ‘I believe in a written Torah, but not in an oral Torah.’ So one day, Hillel started teaching him the Aleph-Bet. He illustrated to him that ‘this is Aleph, this is Bet’, and so on. The next day, Hillel reversed all the letters. What yesterday was an Aleph, today was a Bet, what yesterday was a Bet, today was an Aleph. The Non-Jew was taken back. He told Hillel, ‘but yesterday you taught me in reverse!’ Hillel responded, ‘Just like you must rely on me in regards to the Aleph-Bet, so too, rely on me in regards to the entire oral Torah.’ After thousands of years, archeologists have just found out what the Non-Jew responded: ” I will rely on you in regards to the Aleph-Bet, the right limb to do Milah on, the fact that the Jewish day starts at night and so on. Because all of these are things that the entire Jewish nation has practiced–continuously, in an unbroken chain. Just like I would trust a Muslim in regards to his alphabet, because muslims surely preserved the tradition of their alphabet, so too, I will trust you, Hillel, or any other Jew–whether he believes in an oral Torah or not–in regards to the Jewish Aleph-Bet. Mila is something that the Jewish and Arab people also did constantly, probably everyday. Every father, from Abraham till today, preformed Mila, creating an unbroken chain which helps us correctly identify the right limb on which to do Mila. So just like I would trust you, Hillel in regards to the identification of the correct limb for preforming Mila, so too, I would trust any Jew, whether he believes in an oral Torah or not, in regards to mila. I would even trust a Muslim for the same reason! The same is true in regards to identifying the beginning of the Jewish day. The Entire Jewish nation, through every generation, kept the Sabbath every single week. There is no question that they, therefore, must have known when the Sabbath starts. Once again, just like I would trust you in regards to when the Sabbath starts, so too, I would trust any Jew, whether he believes in an oral Torah or not, in regards to when the Sabbath starts! Therefore, Hillel, I will rely on you, or on an any single Jew, whether he believes in an oral Torah or not, in regards to the Aleph-Bet. But I WILL NOT do the same regarding your oral Torah. I have no reason to rely on you for that!” The Non-Jew then went to the leading Karaite sage of the time and became a Karaite. The response of the convert was only discovered recently. The Rabbanites didn’t want us to know the full story, of course with the best of intentions.

    • joseph bendah

      it said do not cook the child of the cow or the ship in mother butter , is not enough you kill her baby and you want to cook with her milk . until this day the bedwim in israel they cook the meet with butter.

  3. Ana Hidalgo

    Well, I never did anything of this sorts before, but here goes. Based on a chassidic tale about the Baal Shem Tov, the father of the rabbinic hassidim.

    And for those who might be clueless, Abraham Firkovich was a Harkan of the Crimeian Karaites.

    There was a wealthy Jew, whose only daughter was becoming of marriageable age. While there were many promising young talmidei chachomim in his own town, he desired to have an exceptional talmid chocham as a son in law. After much effort, he indeed found one such young man. The couple were married, settled down and were extremely happy. The young man learned in the beis hamidrash and grew in his learning and Torah knowledge. Everything was going as desired.

    Some years passed, and the wealthy father-in-law began noticing small changes in his son-in-laws conduct and observance of mitzvos. At first, he tried to dismiss them as insignificant changes, and perhaps his learned son-in-law has reasons to conduct himself in this new manner. After all he knows much more than I do, so who am I to question him!

    But as the weeks and months passed, he began noticing that he was taking off much more time from his learning and was seen in the company of others who were known to be completely non-observant. This was a situation that he was no longer able to ignore and pretend all is well.

    So one day, he sat down with his son-in-law and asked him, what caused this drastic change. Is he perhaps unhappy about something or is something or someone bothering him?

    The son-in-law replied, I am extremely happy and fortunate. Your daughter is an excellent and kind hearted person. She is the perfect wife, and you are very gracious to us. A man couldn’t ask for more.

    But you want to know if everything is perfect, what caused these changes? I will tell you. In my learning, I began having some questions about Hashem’s ability to do certain things that our sages stated had happened. I noticed that some of the great commentators also wrote that these things are exaggerations. So I no longer knew what is real and what is being said as a way of a moshol (a parable or metaphor).

    Whoever I asked either replied that those are dangerous questions, that one is not allowed to ask or gave me such weak answers and explanations, that they themselves admitted weren’t complete answers, they weren’t satisfactory. So now I have my doubts about many things, such as does Hashem really care about such minute details, or even if He indeed commanded them to Moshe. For example, when you wash netilas yodaim does it have to go until the wrist and a drop off makes it invalid or it isn’t so important. And therefore I decided not to do it all.

    The father-in-law was torn with grief. This is the son-in-law that he had hand-picked for his wonderful daughter, who is so proper in her observance of every mitzvah. Is everything lost chas v’sholom. No! It can’t be, he said! I must find a way to correct this.

    Turning to his son-in-law he said, my dear son-in-law, you are much more learned than I, and if the great talmidei chachomim of the town couldn’t answer your questions satisfactorily, I for sure don’t have the ability. However, I am asking you one thing, please come with me to a great sage and allow him to answer and clarify everything.

    Wanting to please his father-in-law, especially as he always has the ability to say the answer this sage gave, was not a real convincing or even good answer, he agreed.

    The father-in-law didn’t waste any time, but immediately set out with his son-in-law to see Levi Yizchok of Berdichev in Berdichev. They arrived on a dark and snowy night and after late night prayers, the father-in-law poured out his troubled heart to the Berdichevitch rebbe and pleaded with him that he does whatever is in his ability to bring the son-in-law back to the ways of Hashem.

    The rebbe then, invited the son-in-law and the father to a late night meal and started by making the blessing over bread, to which the two men followed. Then recitted kiddush over wine and turned to the son-in-law.
    “Tell me young man… doubt the minutia and the veracity of the Oral Law?”
    “I do.”
    “Why is that?”
    “Because it makes no sense. If God allowed us to keep our inteligence after the Fall, why would He command half of His law to be written, and an other part be kept orally?”
    “The Lord would command such to keep our memories sharp on His Law.” the Rebbe replied.
    “Then, why does the Oral Law counterdicts the Written Law?” the son-in-law replied.
    “The Oral Lew only complements it!” The rebbe replied.
    “Then, why is it that the son of a jewess with a gentile is a jew, but the son of a jew and a gentile is a gentile?” the son in law replied.
    “Leave, for you are no longer welcomed under this roof. Shlomo…” the reb replied, looking at the father-in-law “Your son in law is lost to us and you would do well to leave.”

    And so the father and son in law left the house of the rebbe in shame and wandered the town in grief untill they heard a voice calling them and inviting them under hospitality.
    After a warm meal blessed with slightly different blessings, the man who bekoned them presented himself as Abraham Firkovich.
    “So, you doubt the oral law?” he asked, longly into the meal.
    “Yes. The more I think of it, the less sence it makes.” the son in law replied.
    “Well met, then, for you seem to be the only jew with ractional thinking in this town!” Abraham greeted.
    The three kept conversing well into the night, the father in law opposing his host and the son in law untill morning came and Abraham invited them to pray with him, the son in law joining and taking his first steps in a prayer different from his father, who surprised, stopped praying and observed.
    From there untill the return home at the evening, the father said nothing.
    “Shlomo, you don’t speak since we left Abraham’s house. I am sorry for being a disappointment in your eyes.” the son in law started, but the father smiled instead.
    “Levi, you may have renouced the Oral Law, but you did not do so in light counscience. You studied and defended your point. Whilest I am saddened that you are no longer what I chose as a husband for my daughter, I am glad that she is married to such a bright young man who can defend his view, even if it is so different from my own.”
    And with a smile, they both arrived home in time for Shabbat, feeling peace settling between them.

    [Inspired and modified from

  4. FROM EM:

    This is a direct quote from a Mishnah in Avot. No Karaite insertion necessary:
    שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ אוֹמֵר, כָּל יָמַי גָּדַלְתִּי בֵין הַחֲכָמִים, וְלֹא מָצָאתִי לַגּוּף טוֹב אֶלָּא שְׁתִיקָה. וְלֹא הַמִּדְרָשׁ הוּא הָעִקָּר, אֶלָּא הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה דְבָרִים, מֵבִיא חֵטְא:
    ‎Shimon, his son, says, “All my days I grew up among the RABBIS, and I did not find anything good for the body except SILENCE. And the MIDRASH [of Torah] is not what is essential, but the action. And whoever INCREASES WORDS brings sin.”

  5. A poor man lived with his wife and four children in a tiny, one-room house. They could not afford anything larger, and the more the children grew, the smaller the house seemed to become. The family members began to stumble over each other, it seemed, more with each passing day. Finally the man and his wife could stand it no longer. They went to their local hakham for her wisdom in how to resolve their growing dilemma.
    The hakham thought carefully before replying. She knew they kept two cats about the yard to keep the mice away. She told them that she would need time to give the matter some thought. She recommended that, meanwhile, they go home and search out an answer in Tanak for themselves, and also bring their cats into the house with them that night to ensure that there would be no mice invading the house to further complicate their situation.
    This they did.
    A week later, the couple returned to the hakham with a verse from TaNaK. They were frustrated by the cats’ yowling and their need to go out so often at night, as well as their tendency to prowl over the occupants in their beds, disturbing their slumbers. Meanwhile, the family were tripping over each other no less than before, “…and now we’re tripping over the cats as well!”
    The verse they had found was Jeremiah 12:8
    “My own people acted toward me like a lion in the forest; she raised her voice against me– therefore I have rejected her.”
    The hakham nodded sagely. “Good, good! You are searching the scriptures for yourselves, and will soon find wisdom for your plight. Some of the other people in our community have been complaining of more bugs than usual this year. While we continue our studies, you should bring in your flock of chickens to make sure that the bugs do not bother you or your pets.”
    The couple looked at each other, perplexed. They agreed, as this was the wisest teacher in their community, and bugs did not sound a pleasant addition to their sufferings.
    The chickens made a much greater racket than had the cats, or even the children! The house seemed to be even smaller and their situation more desperate. They combed the TaNaK more carefully. They found the verse directly after the one they’d found before.
    Jeremiah 12:9
    “My own people act toward Me like a bird of prey, (or) a hyena; Let the birds of prey surround her! Go, gather all the wild beasts, bring them to devour!
    They found this a bit upsetting, as they already had more animals in the house than they wanted, and the idea of gathering wild beasts and maybe having them devour a chicken… or worse… it was just unthinkable!
    They went to the hakham, the next week, thinking that this would be the last chance, but no wild beasts in the house, under any circumstances!
    The hakham nodded the head sagely, hearing their woes with the chickens indoors and the trampling and tripping over so many occupants of such a tiny space.
    The couple were so relieved not to be instructed to bring wild beasts into their home that they, although reluctant, did finally agree to bring in their goat, as the hakham had instructed, “So that there should not be the added work of going outside to get the morning’s milk. This will save precious time, which can then be spent in searching the TaNaK for an answer.”
    A week later, the couple were livid. The house resembled a barn more than a home. The family were SO ill-tempered from being kept up all night by yowling, prowling cats, and during the day, tripping over noisy chickens, each other, and now a goat as well…!!! It was all just too much to tolerate, even at the instruction of their (heretofore) beloved hakham!
    The couple had also found the next verse.
    Jeremiah 12:10
    “Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard, have trampled My field, Have made my delightful field a desolate wilderness.”
    The couple evicted all things furry, feathered, and wooly from their home, gave it a thorough scrubbing, during which the entire family seemed to have an abundance of elbow room, and went to tell their hakham about the verse and new freedom they’d discovered.
    The hakham nodded sagely as the couple began their tirade about the miserable advice they’d received from their trusted friend. She smiled as they told of their eviction of the beasts and the new-found elbow room for cleaning. As they related verse 10, her face beamed! “You have searched the TaNaK for yourselves, and rejected the teachings of men. You have gained 2 freedoms in one day: thankfulness for the space you do have, and the joy of searching TaNaK without the advice of a human shepherd.

    • Keren De Tornos

      wise counsel indeed.
      And living proof that GOING THROUGH an ordeal is far more valuable in Blessings and Gratitude learned and obtained after the experience, than rather going around, choosing avoidance altogether, or worse, in listening and taking up someone else’s advice.

      Tanak is all that I require for life’s instruction to GO THROUGH it in obedience!

      Awesome re-enactment and depicted visualization of the scriptural values of applying Jeremiah 12:8, 9, 10
      Toda for sharing this with us!


      • Yochanna

        Honored, Karen.
        I am also humbled to admit that this not only borrows from Rabinical tradition, but also is a bit autobiographical 😉
        We all walk learning.

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