Shulhan Arukh: Controversial Code
of Jewish Laws for the Diaspora
named by the author the Mapah,
From the very beginning of its
publication, the comprehensive meaning "cloth." As the title
implied, it was to serve as a
symposium of Jewish Law, the
complement to the "set table"
Shulhan Arukh, was the center of
great controversy. Dr. Norman E.
To talk about the Shulhan
Frimer, writing in Jewish Her-
itage, says that the Orthodox think Arukh means really to speak of
it the "Blackstone of Jewish Law," the combination of both Karo's
and no Orthodox rabbi can be or- and Isserles' versions. With the
dained without being conversant Isserles addition, the Shulhan
with it. Non-Orthodox condemn it Arukh no longer ignores Franco-
as the tombstone of medievalism. German teachers or Ashkenazic
The author of the Shulhan customs; nor does it omit sources.
The Shulhan Arukh today no
Arukh was Rabbi Joseph Karo,
born in Spain in 1488, who died in longer stands as the sole creation
1575 in Palestine. In an introduc- of Karo in literary partnership
tion to one of his works he wrote with the R'ima. It represents in-
stead a veritable storehouse of
that because of the innumerable generations of scholarship, devo-
conflicting interpretations the one
Torah of Israel was threatened tion and critical thinking.
with becoming many Torahs. He
Tennessee Williams Film
sought a focal point In prepara-
Eliot Hyman and Ray Stark,
tion for the great task, Karo wrote
"The House of Jacob." which took heads of Seven Arts Productions,
are preparing for Paramount the
over 20 years to complete.
In 1567 the book was sum- screen version of Tennessee Wil-
liams' one act play, "This Property
marized and published as the
Is Condemned," from his collection
Shulhan Arukh, literally the
of "Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of
"set table." The code dealt with
Cotton" which previously yielded
those laws applicable in the
contemporary Diaspora. Organi- the movie "Baby Doll." Richard
Burton makes his debut as direc-
zationally, the work was highly
tor but will not act in the picture
practical. Each branch included
one point which could 1 2 fol- which stars his wife, Elizabeth
lowed structurally and logic- Taylor.
Written for the screen by Fred
ally from a general principle
down into the specifics. Speed Coe and Francis Ford Cappolla,
and ease were the principal "This Property Is Condemned" will
be filmed in Hollywood and on
goals of the Shulhan Arukh,
location in the dark South, start-
which it achieved superbly.
But Karo did not succeed in ing next February under the super-
making the work the definitive vision of Ray Stark.
and authoritative text he intended
Michigan's operating expendi-
it to be. In the first place, he had
repeated the very error which he ture per membership child in its
had attempted to correct in Mai- public schools was $375.66 in 1961-
monides' Code — not listing his 62.
sources. He had relied, without
success, on the fact that all his
decisions were clearly derived
from his "Beth Joseph," where
they were all carefully docu-
Moreover, as he was a Spanish
Jew, the influence of Sephardic
thought was heavily reflected in
Karo's work. So central a tradi-
tion as that of Rash and his
Franco-German disciples was too
little in evidence for Ashkenazic
FORGET IT ! !
It was thanks to an Ashkena-
zic teacher, however, that the
Shulhan Arukh became the new
code of world Jewry. Rabbi
Moshe Isserles' major contribu-
tion, popularly known as the
R'ima after the abbreviated in-
itals of his name, was originally
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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