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August 13, 1965 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-08-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Dr. Irving A. AugussTrban
in Responsa, Analyses of Pre-Crusade Europe

Dedicated scholarship, many
years of research and study are
responsible for the encyclopedic
two-volume work, "Urban Civiliza-
tion in Pre-Crusade Europe," by
Prof. Irving A. Agus, published by
Yeshiva University Press and dis-
tributed by Bloch Publishing Co.
As the sub-title states, these
volumes are "a study of organized
town-life in northwestern Europe
during the 10th and 11th Centuries
based on the responsa literature."
Thus, it is a valuable addition to
Responsa and serves as a very val-
uable analysis of many Jewish
problems and procedures during
the period under review.
Endeavoring to discover the
secret of the vitality of Franco-
German Jewry in the era pre-
ceding the Crusades, Dr. Agus
points out: "The earliest or-
ganized town-life in Catholic
Europe was centered in Jewish
communities. For several cen-
turies the community was the
only self-governing town and it
thus became the model for town
life and town organization."
The forces that led to the estab-
lishment of this group life, the so-
cial values and attitudes of Jewish
communities, are analyzed, and the
author points out that they "be-
came characteristic of bourgeois
Added to the basic aspects of 1
this study is a most interesting
evaluation of Ashkenazic Jewry
whose characteristics are shown to
have included ability to develop
self-governing communities, to de-
velop successfully in the struggle
for existence.
Dr. Agus also points out that
"from this period has survived a
genre of rabbinic literature, the
Response," and explaining the Re-
sponsum he shows that it possesses

a wealth of historical informa-
tion, accurate and precise, sur-

In question-and-answer forms, actions even in these enlightened
the Responsa are most illuminat- times. Here, for example, is an
ing and they can serve as well as important Rashi Responsum quot-
guides towards an understanding ed by Dr. Agus:
of Jewish laws as well as of many
Q. What should be our atti-
historical occurrences which are
tude toward forced converts
often alluded to. At the same time,
who returned to Judaism? Must
the legalism described will inter-
we abstain from drinking wine
est lawyers and judges who will
touched by them, until they
be amazed at the modernity of
have been repentant for a long
some of the decisions made by rab-
time and their repentance be-
bis eight and nine centuries ago.
came widely known and clearly
Here is a typical Responsum
established? What about the
of Rashi to R. Solomon of Tours
forced converts who have ar-
appearing in the money-lending
rived but recently—of whom we
know very little and whose act
Q. A person lent money to his
of repentance we did not wit-
friend, and subsequently the
ness—must we be strict and ab-
coins were invalidated. In what
stain from drinking their wine?
coin does he pay him back?
A. Heaven forfend that we
A. Jewish law requires re-
should abstain from drinking
payment in current coin, unless
their wine and thus cause them
that coin contains more silver
shame; for they never dared "to
than the invalidated one. Our
offer libations to idols." Our
coins that were recently invali-
sages, due to strictness, forbade
dated, however, are of the same
wine touched by a non-Jew, but
silver content as the newly mint-
they did not forbid wine touch-
ed ones; their value decreased
ed by sinful Jews. In our places
only because the engraved de-
even the non-Jews do not "pour
sign has been changed. The
libations." Certainly (forced con-
debtor must therefore repay the
verts - are not suspect). They
creditor with the same number - Committed the wrongful act be-
of new coins. Should he want to
cause they were at the sword's
repay him in invalidated coins,
point, and as soon as they found
however, he would have to give
an opportunity they hastened to
him a number of coins that
return to Judaism! Moreover, as
would now have the same ex-
soon as they resolved to sub-
change value as the sum he lent
mit to "the fear of our Lord,"
him had at the time the loan
they reassumed the status of
was made.
worthy Jews.
Explanatory notes on money
Dr. Agus comments: "This Re-
lending include, the following com- sponsum probably dealt with the
ment relating to usury: "Jews lent victims of the First Crusade. Many
money to one another, even though an individual who escaped death
they could charge no interest.. In in the tragic summer of the year
repaying their debts they were 1096, by submitting to baptism,
very careful lest repayment in a escaped to southern communities
different coin offer advantage to that lay outside the path of the
the creditor and thus constitute crusaders, in order to be able to
return to Judaism.
"The fact that their brothers
Non-Jews are permitted to bor-
row from Jews an interest. It is met them with distrust and suspi-
indicated in one of the explana- cion proves that the Jews of this
tory notes by Dr. Agus that "at the period were intensively educated
end of the 11th Century non-Jews to be heroic, self-sacrificing, and
began to borrow from Jews." He ready for martyrdom—they were
points out that the fact that in therefore sharply critical, and
a quoted Responsum "the re- even contemptuous, of those un-
sponder states that 'many Jews in willing or unable to "sanctify the
these places have been accus- Name' through the supreme sacri-
tomed . .. ' proves that ours was fice."
Dr. Agus' two-volume work, "Ur-
not an isolated case."
ban Civilization in Pre-Crusade
The many aspects of community
Europe," valuable as a compen-
organization make that portion of
dium of Responsa, is noteworthy
the second volume of major im-
in its community studies, in its re-
portance. Many of the experiences
view of many Jewish laws and
are applicable to our time, and
regulations and interpretative reb-
numerous lessons in leadership
binic decisions. It is a most com-
and in opinion differences are
mendable work that should serve
most illuminating.
as a textbook for rabbis, as an in-
The relationship between Jews
formative work for laymen. It en-
and non-Jews as viewed in the
riches the Jewish literary book-
numerous Response on the subject shelves.

passing "in reliability even the
public document." This two-vol-
ume study makes available "most
of the information of a social, poli-
tical and economic nature contain-
ed in the Responsa of northwest-
ern Europe of the .pre-Crusade
period." Of the more than 300 Re-
sponsa presented here, 80 were
composed in the 10th and the rest
in the 11th Century.
An impressive list of the Re-
sponders who provided the au-
thoritative data on the subjects
covered is included in the
author's introduction. The mate-
rial on which the volumes are
based deals with the needs and
problems related to commerce,
security, money-lending, busi-
ness, monopoly, trades, real es-
tate, community organization,
family, education and relations contains much to intrigue the read-
between Jews and non-Jews.
er and to guide us in our own re-

'New Illustrated Feature
From'Our Livin g Pra er Book'


, p'.....Jew

stopped to Pray
an the Y)lghwal.i.
A noble of the kind, who

knetal)im, passed and saluted N.,. The plcus
man ignor e d the nobleman dnd continued 'So

Tne nobleman

,cca•-ne very ane.•y

he wilted forme rnanTo finish h i s

You are a stupid &//oc✓. )i hare bcvhen yovr
own /a4a which commands youth guard your fife.
Why dic/n'r you an,Luer me? 1 cofdd have ran
you z'nrco0eadh
sword and acne would have


Suppose ucu caere to/K,,;F Co tfoe, kind dnd

a Fr/end passed and 5e/uteo you. kovidy0.
'turn from the .4,-,si
to ansker that
Woe ante

g,, ,,, ,t;,g?



re do so!

That is 'the respect ycu pay tea mortal king
ohohere today and gone Tomorrow, halille
1 stood facine the Mint of frnys the
King. What should f
lave done?

The wrath of tre ncbternen) was
stilled and the ' , bus man went

an his way In peQoe

This illustrated cartoon is the first of a series to appear
periodically in The Jewish News. It is reproduced from "Our
Living Prayer Book—Creative Exercises in the Study of Prayer
and the Siddur," by Azriel Eisenberg and Jessie B. Robinson.
This most impressive work, published by Prayer Book Press,
Inc., 410 Asylum St., Hartford, Conn., 06103, was reviewed in
The Jewish News on July 16.. Our reviewer commended it as
"an all-inclusive, exceedingly valuable work," as "a combination
of facts about prayers and the Siddur, supplemented by historical
data, beautified by illustrations, enhanced by numerous fascinating
details about Jews and Judaism."

The series commencing with the above is reproduced here
from this excellent book by special arrangement with its authors
and publishers.

• ,

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Hebrew Corner
, `MItr
7 u,":;,7
- "P"P
'7 ; ti
Bar Kokhba
t3, t1n rrpti
Englishman Senten ced in W. Germany
nA irprTILpp'?,
Shimon Bar Kokhba was a great
Ti v7?;; arktV1r,-7
r)7r1 1??4 '71-Tr0?
Jewish hero who lived in the second
for Disseminating IN T azi Propaganda
century. Eretz Israel was then in the
hands of the Romans.
trpintppri tegn; - Ppv
KARLSRUHE (JTA) — The war and had not been able to set
The Romans could not tolerate the
Jewish culture. They began to oppress
Karlsruhe criminal court sen- up a Nazi regime in Britain.
-47-1 nit 77 1t1 r t i~ -14 . 717,Prt:PP 7 3 r1 41Y1 1 r143
the Jews who remained in Eretz Is-
tenced a 22-year-old London book-
He told the court that, as early rael. It was forbidden to teach Torah.
was forbidden altogether for Jews
keeper to 12 months' imprison- as April 1962, he joined Colin It
a27 trktr:07.
x44 1 2 tr-orrri r7? rrli=
to keep their laws.
ment for having disseminated Jordan's British National Socialist
Of course, the patriots in Israel
thought of rebellion. It was not sim- 'vitt Miry
Nazi propaganda material within
NiZ"'"*"r..2 12tU N .447 .iv rirtrlp ;"173r,l'77? /?
movement. He testified he left the
for Rome was a great and strong
the territory of West Germany. movement last year because he ple,
ncikz Ts)) nip??
But from the days of the Maccabees
The actual term will be eight felt that the British "fuehrer" was
there was a tradition in Eretz Israel
months because the defendant, not "activistic" enough.
to go forth to battle even against
John Henry Passmore, was held
heavy odds ("the many"). There were
L7t Y
P L?rj
He then joined the British neo- Jews who were ready to begin a guer-
in preventive detention for four
Nazi group led by John Tyndall, Bar Kokhba headed these patriots.
months awaiting trial.
who had split with Jordan. He
One day the war broke out. Bar
ni174p;:r 447
Passmore was charged with said he then stepped up his own Kokhba chose only the mighty men Nit/4 rivytg-
the 'Jews for his army. The
having supplied last year a West activities to further the National Romans
were not ready for this
."172nr. NMI:I L?" ,-L,}rlir
German neo-Nazi group with tape Socialist movement.
partisan warfare. The army of Bar
Kokhba conquered place after place
recordings of Nazi songs and
- 04,2? tipvrpri rr7?1:0 4Pr1 117:
rilt4L? nz711.t
He also told the court that, since and city after city.
slogans, of having mailed the
A large portion of Eretz Israel fell

same organization pro-Nazi propa-
ganda material with having
brought with him to West Ger-
many last March 260 stickers
bearing Hitler's picture and the
inscription, "He was right."
The bearded defendant admitted
the charges and said he had com-
mitted the acts to show Germany
that "National Soclialism is not
dead in England." He said he
regretted Germany had lost the

40-Friday, August 13, 1965

1958, he had visited West Germany
almost every year. "I love Ger-
many and the . Germans," he said.
The prosecution charged that he
brought with him on every trip
tape recordings, printed material
and other documents praising Na-
tional Socialism, and that he tried
to disseminate its ideology con-
Evidence at the trial showed
that, in March this year, he met
with a number of German neo-
Nazis and also apparently with
the daughter of former Gestapo
Chief Heinrich Himmler.

into the hands of Bar Kokhba. He be-
came the Prince of Israel. Till today
it is possible to find Jewish coins of
Bar Kokhba. On the coins is inscribed:
"Shimon, Prince of Israel, for the free-
dom of Israel."
But in the end the few fighters were
not able to withstand the army of the
great Roman empire. The Romans
wrested from the Jews fortress after
The last fortress remaining in the
hands of Bar Kokhba was Betar, not
far from Jerusalem. Much Jewish and
Roman blood was split till Betar fell
into the hands of the Romans.
Bar Kokhba fought to the end and
fell on the field of battle. His name
is inscribed in Jewish history as one
of a great hero.
Translation of Hebrew Column
Published by the Brit Ivrit
Olamit, Jerusalem

-71t ;7-1.

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