Most Jewish Communities=No Mesora
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November 3, 2022 4:46 pm at 4:46 pm #2135120
I read in a few places that very few Jewish communities have a continuous, unbroken Mesora. That is, they can trace their Mesora directly to the Geonim, who in turn, directly received their Mesora from the times of the Gemara. I think I read it was Yemen and North Africa. Does this mean they are the most authentic and therefore the most authoratative?November 3, 2022 5:39 pm at 5:39 pm #2135151Reb EliezerParticipant
From Chabad Known as the Rosh, Ashkanez and Sfard who gives us our Mesora:
Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, 1250?-1327
The life and influence of Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, known by the acronym “Rosh”, straddled the two great spheres of the Jewish diaspora of his time, the Ashkenazic (Franco-German) and the Sephardic (Spanish-Mediterranean) communities. Born approximately 1250 in Western Germany, Rabbi Asher studied under the famed Tosaphist Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, fathered eight sons, and authored one of the earliest codifications of Jewish law. In mid-life he fled the persecutions of medieval Christian Europe, settling in Spain where Jews prospered materially and Jewish learning flourished in the Spanish Golden Age.
Though a penniless exile and newcomer, Rabbi Asher’s genius and erudition quickly earned him a position of prestige and influence. In 1304 he was invited to to serve as the spiritual leader of the Jews of Toledo, where he established a Talmudic academy and transplanted the Ashkenazic Tosaphists’ system of Talmudic interpretation and analysis. He also introduced the traditionalism and piety of the early Ashkenazic “Chassidim” (reversing the secularist trends in certain segments of Sephardic Jewry).
Rabbi Asher passed away in Toledo on Cheshvan 9 of the year 5088 from creation (1327 of the Common Era).November 3, 2022 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm #2135152akupermaParticipant
Most Jewish communities have been frequent involuntary migrants (e.g. the goyim tried to kill us, so we moved). Yemen and India and perhaps Ethiopia have stayed in one place. North Africa had some disruptions. Europe was always a mess (that’s how you had German speaking Jews in Ukraine, and Spanish speaking Jews in the Balkans). What is now Iraq and Iran were fairly stable. But even a place with stability, you had constant migration. And remember that living cultures tend to be constantly changing since that’s the way Ha-Shem programmed humans – if you constancy, stick to dead things.
If you really want to reenact life in the time Amoraim (late Classical and early Dark Ages, using the European perspective), consider getting a time machine.November 3, 2022 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm #2135157Reb EliezerParticipant
For the Ashkanazic mesora search in wikipedia: Isaac ben Moses of Vienna known as the Ohr Zoruah, the Rebbi of Rav Meir of Rothenburg who was Rebbi of the Rosh.November 3, 2022 6:30 pm at 6:30 pm #2135174AviraDeArahParticipant
Most of us have a mesorah of innovation. A mesorah which is specifically to be mechadesh, within the mesorah-given rules and thought process.November 3, 2022 6:44 pm at 6:44 pm #21351831Participant
Yemenites were for a long time a very isoldated community. They might have a mesorah on some things such as identifying grasshoppers or their dikduk, but the Rambam had to teach them a lot of basic things. When it comes to learning in the Ashkenaz world you can trace american yeshivas back to who their roshei yeshiva learned under in Europe. When you go back enough you can trace it back to Rashi and Rabbeinu Gershom Meir Hagolah. In the sefardi world it some came from Spain and some of them (Mizrachi Jews) were there from the beginning of exile.November 3, 2022 7:07 pm at 7:07 pm #2135185DaMosheParticipant
I can’t trace my Mesorah back that far. I know that my parents got it from theirs, who got it from theirs, etc.
My grandmother a”h once told me that when she came to America after WW2, she saw a Rav looking something up in a sefer, and asked him what the sefer was. “A Shulchan Aruch” he told her. She asked what it was – she honestly had no idea there was a sefer that listed all the halachos of how to live our lives! She really thought it was just passed down from parent to child, and that was it! She held so tightly to the way her parents lived, she even argued with my grandfather on certain things (mostly chumros on Pesach) and insisted that they do it the way she remembered from her parents. And this was when she only had them for a short time! Imagine if the Nazis hadn’t killed her family, and she had her parents for a normal amount of time, how much she would have learned from them!
We don’t need to trace the Mesorah back. As long as we trust that it was passed in an unbroken chain, that’s all we need.
Sadly, there are times when the chain was broken, or a new one was started. People who stopped being frum, and a future generation became baalei teshuva. It’s amazing that a new chain was started (or they latched onto the chain of a Rav who taught them!), but sad that the original one ended. Then a few hundred years ago, a movement began which broke a number of chains, and started a new one.November 3, 2022 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #2135193
The Rambam needed to teach them a lot? Do you have something to back that up?
Iraq and Iran have had a 700 year disruption in their Mesora. Name one Iraqi rabbi between the Geonim and about 200 years ago?
Also regarding that grandmother, she didn’t NEED to know about Shulchan Aruch. Mesora is much stronger than halachos committed to writingNovember 3, 2022 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #2135217
Most frum communities do have mesorah. Unfortunately there are communities, and sometimes individuals in communities, that break with their mesorah. That doesn’t make the rest of our communities, and the majority of frum people, not have mesorah. The way we daven, Sephardic, Eidas Mizrach, Ashkenaz, Ashkenaz Ari/Sephard, Italic, Buchanan, etc, etc. everyone davens and has their minhugim according to their mesorah that was transmitted from their Rabbis who learnt from their Rabbis, who learnt from their Rabbis until the Gaonim.November 3, 2022 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #2135218lakewhutParticipant
Regarding Rambam and Yemen, it’s on Google if you take some effort. I don’t know everything about Iraqi rabbis though they had a community from after 1st bet hamikdash through about WWI.November 3, 2022 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm #2135236abooseinakParticipant
North African ( Moroccan) Jews were these since the first bayis. There were another bunch of Jews that came after the Spanish expulsion and thus there are two groups of Morrocan Jews, and as we know the RIF lived there who was student of ree Migash who was a student of Rav Hai gaon so you have it right there the Moroccan Jews have the strongest mesora in the Jewish nation on my opinionNovember 4, 2022 2:09 am at 2:09 am #2135257modernParticipant
“North African ( Moroccan) Jews were these since the first bayis.”
Sadly that isn’t true. A horrible anti-Semitic group of Muslim Berbers called the Almohadas ethnically cleansed all Jews and Christians from southern Spain and North Africa. They also oppressed Muslims who didn’t agree with their extreme policies. They were the Islamic State of the 12th Century.November 4, 2022 2:10 am at 2:10 am #2135262chaim_baruchParticipant
The Cochin Jews of India, the Romaniote Jews of Greece, the Jews of Rome, Italy
and the Jews of Yemen, can all make legitimate claims, of being the oldest continuous existing communities.
But, if we wait another two thousand years, Brooklyn, will probably still have a sizeable number of Yidden.November 4, 2022 8:03 am at 8:03 am #2135285
Aboo, yes I think Moroccan is true. Gemara>>Geonim>>>Rif. Ashkenaz I think we have a big question mark in our mesoraNovember 4, 2022 9:14 am at 9:14 am #2135320abooseinakParticipant
@modern , please provide sources do not just spew. there are many things wrong with your claim as first of all do a little research barbers are not Muslims at all. There are two ethnic groups in morocco. The one are the barbers, which actually come from the one of the seven nations of Israel that decided to flee and not fight Joshua and the other ethnic group are the Muslims which came a bit later anyway, they are Jewish communities. Strong since the first bayis…. One of King Solomon‘s sons were actually buried there, and there are correspondence between them as well. There is fascinating history there.
Though pronunciation of the holy tongues is by far the most inaccurate in European countries as their first language, which was either Russian or German etc strongly, influenced the pronunciations of their second language of all your tongue, and as a result, a lot of key pronunciations got messed up and they lost their mesora. The taz and.Shach mention this as well btw … and that’s
OK because God sent us into exile, and our job is to hold on to whatever we can as best
as possibleNovember 4, 2022 10:32 am at 10:32 am #2135363
I think everyone is in agreement that Ashkenaz has the most questionable Mesora. That’s why everyone follows the S”A. And that’s why Ashkenazim tend to be more strict: because they don’t have a clear Mesora, so they had to be moisif. I think that’s pretty obvious to everyone.November 4, 2022 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm #2135392
What is ‘obvious’ to you, is actually not true.
The European Communities come straight from the Roman (and later Christian) Exile.
Direct Mesorah from the Yerushalmi Talmud.
ALL of Eretz Yisrael, Egypt, Syria and Turkey, Greece and Rome Jewish Communities of 2nd temple were ALL Ashkenaz (European) Jews. There were NO Sphardim at all until about 1300 years ago.
Shimon Hatzadik was the first Ashkenazi Jew.
Besides that, the Spanish and Portuguese almost ALL moved to Europe (those that left Iberia), over the centuries after the expulsion – to the point that almost no spanish jews remained Sphardi – they almost all became European Ashkenazi. Most of the Ottaman Jews in the 1600’s and 1700’s moved to south eastern Europe – think Hungary, Romania, Chechya, Slovakia, Austria.
The Ottamans surrounded Vienna in 1683. Most Ashkenazim today are heavily sphardi. The entire jewish community of Vienna in 1718 was Ottaman.
There are very few sphardim leftNovember 4, 2022 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm #2135398
Yabia Omer, Ashkenazi mesorah was passed down from great and illustrious Rabbonim and Poskim throughout history. Our history is recorded and our Rabbis and their students, and by extension our communities, are well known and our mesorah is only questioned by those who think they are inferior or superior, but not by the knowledgeable.November 4, 2022 1:52 pm at 1:52 pm #2135427
I don’t know about that. I was always told that our (Ashkenaz) Mesora was not as strong as, say, the Teimanim. There’s a reason that period in time in Europe was called the Dark Ages. There is definitely a break in tradition between the Geonim and the Rishonim/Acharonim of Europe. I think everyone is aware of that. I think Sfardim appear more meikil on things because they didn’t need to add gdeiros. They had a clear Mesora.November 4, 2022 4:24 pm at 4:24 pm #2135468
I think that many people don’t understand what mesorah means. Mesorah does not mean that we have to dress the same or have the same dialect of Loshen HaKodesh than how klal Yisroel dressed or spoke when they stood at har Sinai. The Yidden in different generations and different geographical regions all spoke and dressed differently and had different minhugim, that does not mean their mesorah was broken. The Yidden during the times of the destruction of the Beis Hamildosh, approximately 1,000 years later than matan Torah, did not speak the exact same dialect, did not dress exactly the same as their ancestors 1,000 years earlier and had many more minhugim that Yosroeilim at Har Sinai. The Babylonian Jews, the Greek Jews, the Caucasian Jews, they all spoke and dressed and had different traditions. That is not unbroken mesorah. The Jews who migrated to Europe 1,000 years ago, which also includes the ancestors of the Sephardim, did not have a broken mesorah just because they did not dress the same, had different traditions and different dialects than other Jewish communities spread throughout, who each had their own dialects and traditions.
Mesorah is the unvoken and untampered chain of halacha and the concept of Hashem is One God whom we serve and abide by His Torah that was written and transmitted to us by Moshe Rabbeinu. From then on on the midbar, it was taught to the Yidden, and taught and taught, from leaders of klal Yisroel, from father to son, from Rebbe to student, from mother to daughter. Although our dialects are different, our minhugim are different, our dress is different, we have the same mesorah going back to Har Sinai.November 4, 2022 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #2135472Always_Ask_QuestionsParticipant
Yabia, I agree in general, but more likely Ashkenazim descend from a small group of people, so their mesorah is simply is not representative of the broader tradition. Then, from times of haskala, we started relying on printed and, recently, on Roshei yeshivos to enforce uniformity at further loss of diversity of mesorahs.
Sfaradim (a loose term that usually includes everyone else) are not one mesora, they are multiple mesorahs, probably almost as different from each other as they are from Ashkenazim.November 4, 2022 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #2135473
The Teimani Mesorah is very questionable at best. You have any reference to them before the Rambam?
Only hostorical reference to them before that is the Himyars who took the revenge against the Ethiopians for how the byzantines were treating the jews. Not much else. The European Jewish Tradition is the MOST documented of all groups, by far.
This has nothing to do with the Dark Ages. They were primarily in Italy during that period, where they produced some of the most memorable aspects of our culture during that time. Think about ‘Midrash Tanchuma’ (written almost entirely in italy by italian geonim), Rabba and yerushalmi (who joined these italian communities after they were expelled by the byzantines). There was an expression: ‘From Bari and Lombardi will Torah come and the Word of Hashem from Toranto’. These were famous communities of the greatest rabbis of the those centuries.
The famous 4 captives who brought Torah to Spain and North Africa – were from Bari, Italy.
Just open up an Ashkenazi Machzor and see all the Piyutim of all the Holidays for throughout the year. ALL of them were written by these Italian / Byzantine (includes Egypt, Syria, Greece, Turkey) Jews during the centuries from 550 – 950 CE; who then moved north into France and Germany, The Holy Roman Empire, by the Carolingian Dynasty.November 4, 2022 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #2135474
The Sphardim were never Meikil, that’s just a modern lie. Ya, if they are not frum, of course there are gonna be more lenient, right? The real frum Sphardim are the most strict of all communitiesNovember 4, 2022 4:53 pm at 4:53 pm #2135498
Yes when I say Mesora I mean a tradition in Halacha, psika, in customs, in way of learning and thinking. Not referring to dress and language. Of course Jews dressed and spoke differently.
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