Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Leaders of Ashkenazic Jewry
6 Lectures

Item #: S675

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Item Description:

The Ashkenazic world was founded and nurtured by Rashi, his family and his colleagues in the 11th and 12th centuries. But it was saved and preserved by a few outstanding leaders of the next centuries after that. This fascinating series examines the lives and accomplishments of five of these great Jews.

Individual lectures:

Or Zorua - The Or Zarua lived in medieval France and Germany in one of the most brutal periods of Jewish history until the Holocaust. A sampling of his rulings in Jewish Law give insight into the harrowing daily challenges the Jewish people faced. His innovative solutions will sometimes surprise the modern listener, but his dedication to the preservation of the Jewish people when their Christian neighbors aimed to destroy them have won him his place as one of the heroes of Jewish history.

The Maharam - Three Jews in history have been called "the light of the Exile," Rabbeinu Gershom, Rashi, and the Maharam of Rottenberg. Though rife with tragedy, the Maharam's exemplary life reveals the true meaning of living for God and Torah. Rabbi Wein details the halachic dispute by which the Maharam earned his reputation as an incorruptible advocate of the underdog and concludes with the reprehensible story of his kidnapping and imprisonment.

The Rosh - Part 1 -The Rosh is a singular person in Jewish history in that he led both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews. In this first of a two-part lecture, Rabbi Wein discusses the Rosh's Ashkenazic origins and his close relationship with his mentor, the Maharam. His devotion to his teacher, seen in his depletion of his own funds to help the Maharam in his imprisonment, is a poignant example of righteousness, loyalty, and persistence for Torah scholarship under the worst of conditions.

The Rosh - Part 2-When the Maharam died in prison, the Rosh knew the Maharam's captors would be after him next, so he fled to Provence and ultimately to Toldedo, Spain. An Ashkenazi Jew surrounded by Sephardim, he encountered radically different approaches to Torah learning and secular subjects. Harmonizing the two paths in some instances and handing down uncompromising legal rulings in others, the Rosh represents an ideal of Jewish leadership in his wisdom of knowing when to be hard and when to be soft.

Baal Haturim - Though history now celebrates his work as a pillar in Jewish Law, in his lifetime, the Baal Ha Turim suffered frequent unemployment and abject poverty. Ironically, it was because of these unfortunate circumstances that he had the leisure to produce the Tur, a masterpiece of Jewish Law embraced by both Sephardim and Ashkenazim.

The Mordecai- A student of the Maharam and a contemporary of the Rosh, this great Torah scholar produced a compendium of responsa that illustrates 13th century German Jewish life more vividly than any other. However, there are four separate versions of this monumental work, and Rabbi Wein fleshes out the differences between them. With that and a discussion of three halachic issues which crossed the Mordechai's desk, including his condemnation of spousal abuse, the awesome contribution of Rabbi Mordechai ben Hillel comes into clear focus.

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