This masterly collection of essays offers a multifaceted analysis of how Jewish leaders in medieval and early modern times responded to the challenges presented by a changing world. Based largely on the study of sermons and response - genres that show them addressing real situations in the lives of their people - the book reveals how they handled intellectual, social, and political diversity and conflict. As medieval Jews were exposed to new philosophical ideas, many began to question and challenge rabbinical leadership. Leadership and Conflict explores the process by which these ideas became more accessible, the doubts that consequently arose regarding certain biblical and rabbinic texts, and the attempt by some leaders to ban the study of philosophical texts altogether. The book also addresses the rhetoric of rebuke used by preachers to criticize behavior within their community that they considered to be a violation of Jewish law and tradition. Another set of challenges to traditional Jewish life emerged from political developments in the wider world, including the unification of France, the Spanish Inquisition and Edict of Expulsion, and the beginning of the Counter-Reformation. Leadership and Conflict asks whether criticism of the talent and leadership of rabbis in such times of crisis was justified. The final section of the book is devoted to conflicting attitudes within Jewish society: towards the Holy Land, exile and diasporic existence, and messianic movements and personalities. Leadership and Conflict represent three decades of scholarship by Professor Marc Saperstein, a distinguished historian. Bringing his perceptive essays together in a single volume allows a new generation of students and scholars to have access to his insights and conclusions.
Marc Saperstein is Professor of Jewish Studies at King's College London, and Professor of Jewish History and Homiletics at Leo Baeck College, London, where he formerly served for five years as Principal. After receiving a Ph.D. at Harvard he taught there for nine years, holding the first regular faculty position in Jewish studies at Harvard Divinity School. Before relocating to London, he was the Charles E. Smith Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at the George Washington University. A fellow and former vice president of the American Academy for Jewish Research, he has recently been visiting professor at Harvard and at Yale. He is the author of several books, including Jewish Preaching, 1200-1800, Exile in Amsterdam: Saul Levi Morteira's Sermons to a Congregation of 'New Jews', and Rabbinic Leadership and Jewish Communal Conflict: Tensions in Medieval Jewish History and Culture (also published by the Littman Library). Professor Saperstein is widely recognized as the leading authority in this generation on the history of the Jewish sermon in medieval and modern times.
Note on Transliteration Introduction PART I: Two Modes of Rabbinic Leadership 1 The Preaching of Repentance and the Reforms in Toledo, 1281 2 Legal Decision-Making in Fourteenth-Century Toledo: The Responsa of Rabbi Judah ben Asher PART II: Intellectual Challenge and Conflict 3 Philosophy and Jewish Society in the Late Middle Ages 4 The Conflict over the Ban on Philosophical Study, 1305: A Political Perspective 5 Cultural Juxtapositions: Problematizing Scripture in Late Medieval and Jewish Exegesis 6 Ein li esek banistarot: Saul Levi Morteira's Sermons on Parashat 'Bereshit' PART III: Leaders Facing Communities in Upheaval 7 Jewish Leadership in the Generation of the Expulsion 8 Rabbis, Martyrs, and Merchants: Jewish Communal Conflict as Reflected in the Responsa on the Boycott of Ancona 9 Four Kinds of Weeping: Saul Levi Morteira's Application of Biblical Narrative to Contemporary Events 10 Attempts to Control the Pulpit: Medieval Judaism and Beyond PART IV: Conflicting Attitudes towards Exile, the Land, and the Messiah 11 `Arab Chains' and `The Good Things of Spain': Aspects of Jewish Exile 12 The Land of Israel in Pre-Modern Jewish Thought: A History of Two Rabbinic Statements 13 Messianic Leadership in Jewish History: Movements and Personalities Bibliography Index of Passages Cited General Index