Sunday 26 November 2023

453) Kherson Geniza - the greatest Chassidic find / or forgery?



About six years ago, after translating over three hundred Kherson Letters for the first time into English, I wrote a post Kotzk Blog: 137) WHY THE LETTERS OF THE CHERSON GENIZA MAY NOT BE FORGERIES: However, having researched the matter in more depth and based on a lecture by Professor Jonatan Meir (which I have translated into English)[1] and the research by Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert I am no longer of that view. This is why:

Sunday 19 November 2023

452) Was R. Heshil Tzoref intentionally conflated with R. Adam Baal Shem?

[Note: This article is an abridged version of my current research project - G.M.]


R. Yehoshua Heshil Tzoref was born in Vilna in 1633 and passed away in Cracow in 1700 or 1720 (Rabinowitsch 1939:126). He had no significant religious education and made a living as a silversmith (‘tzoref’ is the Hebrew for ‘silversmith’). During the series of wars between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden, he sought refuge in Amsterdam, where he was exposed to the ideas of Shabbatai Tzvi. When he returned to Vilna in 1666, he became “the most important personality of the Sabbatian movement in Lithuania” (Maciejko 2010b:n.p.).[1] Put more directly, R. Heshil Tzoref:

“became the outstanding spokesman of the believers in Shabbetai Zevi and persisted in this belief throughout his life” (Scholem 2007a:670).

Sunday 12 November 2023

451) Ancient pre-existence of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin?

The order of the scrolls in Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin.

This article based extensively on the research by Dr. Yehudah Cohn[1] explores the claim that Tefillin scrolls resembling those of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam, were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Obviously, Rashi (11th century) and his grandson Rabbeinu Tam (12th century) lived long after the period of the scrolls (3rd century BCE – 1st century), but the claim is that their argument over the order of the four scrolls inserted into the Tefillin, reflected a much more ancient argument. 

Sunday 5 November 2023

450) Could conflicting rabbinic views both be right?

Can an Ashkenazi rely on legal pluralism to drink reheated tea in a Yemenite home on Shabbat?


This article based extensively on the research by Professor Richard Hidary from Yeshiva University[1] looks at the possibility that the Talmud was open to the idea that two conflicting rabbinic views could often both be correct. 

Some[2] argue that in a Talmudic matter, there can only essentially be one correct answer. This view emphasises the notion of an overarching Talmudic truth. Hidary, on the other hand, rejects this legal monistic approach and, instead, brings textual support for legal pluralism where the Talmud adopts the position that conflicting views can coexist and be equally valid.