Rabbinic Lit

Ha’aretz offers up a review of a new anthology of studies on medieval Rabbinic literature by Yisrael Ta-Shema.

The Hasidim of Ashkenaz, who lived at the end of the 12th and 13th centuries in the important centers of Jewish life in Germany (Mainz, Speyer, Regenburg, etc.), were firm believers in the Torah, and very pious, devoted and observant Jews. But in chapters 19 and 20 of [this anthology], we discover that this solid faith did not keep them from reaching some bold conclusions on such matters as the writing style and authorship of Judaism’s holiest texts. Ta-Shema offers, for example, much evidence of the doubt in their mind about the uniformity of the Book of Psalms and its wholesale attribution to King David.
These scholars of Ashkenaz even question the uniform authorship of the Bible itself. Based on their careful study of the text and familiarity with rabbinic literature, they suggest that certain words, verses or passages were not written by Moses, but by someone who lived in much later times. The publication of this material some 30 years ago caused a great outcry in the ultra-Orthodox community. In the eyes of the Haredim, it was not possible that a revered figure like Judah the Hasid would say such things. They insisted that it was a forgery, and forced the publishers to recall the book and omit some of the objectionable pages.

I’m not entirely surprised to hear about such progressive exegesis to come out of the supposedly unenlightened times, but I think it’s cool to see it acknowledged in a historical anthology. You can read the rest of the article here.