Asking questions: Rabbis and philosophers in medieval Provence

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Posing a Halakhic query to a rabbi is often taken for granted, as the backdrop to a legal process that begins with the rabbi composing his responsum. At times, however, the question itself is the product of a calculated decision on the part of a layperson to become involved in the Halakhic process. Focusing on responsa from medieval Provence, this article claims that the tensions that existed within the Jewish community between rabbis and philosophers were sometimes played out by asking Halakhic questions. Sensitivity to rhetorical dimensions in both the question and the answer, and to the cultural and social contexts in which the responsum was created, reveals a hidden polemic about Jewish law and power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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