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December 17, 1982 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-12-17

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

ANRivorptimmprimposompompipowiabliw

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

22 Friday, December 17, 1982
*******

t



Grave Still Stands of Rabbi Who Banned Polygamy

4,
FOR
YOUR •

By ALLAN BLUSTEIN

Chaplain, Sinai Hospital

1983 :

Seldom, if ever, do Ameri-
can Jews who have studied
Talmud with the Rashi and
CADILLAC

Tosaphot Commentaries,
the precious oppor-
1 SEE ME t obtain
tunity to visit the final rest-
ing place of the tzaddik
without whose efforts, those
brilliant additions to Torah
10 Sales & Leasing
learning, would never have
been compiled or preserved
for us.
• at AUDETTE CADILLAC
He is the great luminary
.7100 Orchard Lake Rd.. of his people (Meor-ha-Gola)
Rabeinu Gershom ben
at Northwestern,
Judah,
founder of the

west Bloomfield

French and German schools
rabbinic learning and
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authority for some of the
most lasting and far-
reaching enactments
• PERSONALIZED SERVICE
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Jewish tradition.
GUARANTEED
Born in Metz, France

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near the German border in
the year 960, Rabeinu
Gershom lived through
some of the most terrible
persecutions ever to befall
his people, even at that
comparatively early period
in European history. These
afflictions as well as some
personal tragedies failed to
deter this man from instil-
ling into the hearts and
minds of his vast as-
semblage of students a love
for Torah Judaism which
succeeded in assuring an
unbroken 'development of
all aspects of Jewish life
down through the ages.

His famous prohibition
of polygamy among
European Jewry was but
one example of the inci-
sive and all-
encompassing range of
his abilities. His ap-
proach was a sacred and
pious one to the critical
needs of his people but it
remained at all times a
pertinent and practical
one as well.

The monument over the
grave of Rabeinu Gershom
stands to this day in the an-
cient Jewish cemetery of
Mainz, Germany where he
was buried in 1040.
In that same year was
born in the small town of
Troyes, the incomparable

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jewel of Torah learning,
Rashi ha-Kodesh.
Uncannily, for reasons
not wholly understood as
known, the Nazi barbarians
did not demolish this
cemetery completely during
the short-lived "Thousand
Year Reich," and therefore
the old and hallowed
monument over the grave
still stands, bearing witness
to the undying spirit that
inspires all who come there
to pay homage.
The student discovers the
humility of Gershom in one
of his responsa. He credits
all the knowledge he has
been privileged to amass to
his instruction at the feet of
the great Rabbi Judah ben
Meir-ha-Kohen: Also, the
student finds that a disciple
of Rabeinu Gershom and
teacher of Rashi, Rabbi
Jacob ben Yakar, is also
interred in this same
cemetery on the hillside at
85 Mombacherstrasse in
Mainz.

Many other greats of
the Jewish People are
buried here, including
the prolific poet and
liturgist, Rabbi Meshul-
lam ben Kolonymus,
whose works can be
found in abundance in
the High Holy Day prayer
book.

After the terrible pog-
roms following the Black
Death in 1348, the cemetery
was desecrated by the ig-
norant mobs seeking en-
geance on the Jews for l av-
ing "poisoned the we' ls."
The headstones of 200
graves dating back to the
11th Century were -over-
turned and strewn about.
Not until after World War
II did the Germans o the
Mainz City Council feel any
shame over this 600-year-
old stain on their •pity's
honor. With some prodding
by the local German-Jewish
Gemeinde and the West
German Landesfarband,
the cemetery was restored
and rededicated.
About the year 1000,
Rabeinu Gershom ben
Judah called into being a
synod of noted scholars from
all over Europe. Chief
among this council's
achievements were: the
banning of polygamy
among Jews in Europe; the
need to obtain consent of
both parties to a divorce;
modification of the rules
concerning those who
undergo Baptism under
compulsion; and the prohib-
ition of opening corre-
spondence addressed to
somebody else.

Gershom was a forgiv-
ing soul as well as a com-
passionate one. Although
he mourned and sat shiva
for his own apostate son
during the persecutions
of 1012 in Mainz, he
nevertheless preached
tolerance of these pitiful
persons and he forbade
any public rebuke of
them by the Jewish
community. He even
allowed them to pro-
nounce the benediction
in the synagogues.

In addition to his literary
responsa, Rabeinu Gershom
wrote selihot (penitential

prayers) which tried to
soothe the wounds of his
people during times of
Jewish blood-letting. He
also produced commen-
taries on the Mishna and
Talmud which became the
forerunners for Rashi and

the Tosaphists in France
and Germany.
He served as the example
par excellence for a mul-
titude of rabbis and
teachers who came after
and tried to follow in his
footsteps.

Readers Forum)

Materials submitted to the Readers Forum must be brief.
The writer's name will be withheld from publication upon
request. No unsigned letters will be published. Materials will
not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is
enclosed.

Women's Role in Judaism

Editor, The Jewish News:
The Dec. 10 article writ-
ten by Dr. David Geffen was
misleading and inaccurate
pertaining to women's role
in Hanuka.
Dr.
Geffen
states:
"Whereas on other holidays
during the Jewish calendar
year the role of women can
be circumscribed and oft-
times is virtually non-
existent, at Hanuka the
very opposite is the case."
The following excerpts
from "A Guide for the
Jewish Woman and Girl" by
Dov Eisenberg, approved by
Ray Moshe Feinstein and
many other prominent rab-
binic authorities, will ex-
plain. "Every girl and
woman must either recite
Kidush (on Shabbos and
Yom Toy) for herself, or lis-
ten while an adult man or
woman recites it."

"Hanuka — The mitzva
(menora) may be fulfilled
by either man or woman,
since the obligation rests
on both equally. How-
ever women customarily
do not, light if any male
family member resides in
the house (although it
appears that in some
families single girls do
light. Note: it does not say
women can't)

"Purim — Both men and
women are obligated to hear
the Megilla . . . If there is
no one to read the Megilla
for her, she should read it
for herself (from a kosher
Megilla). In that case she
may read it for other girls
and women . . . The
mitzvos of sending gifts to
friends and money to at
least two poor individuals
apply to women as well as
men."
"Passover — The laws
and customs of the Seder
night apply to both men and
women equally . . . The
day before Pesach is a fast-
day for male firstborns.
While the first-born male is
small, the obligation rests
on the father. If the father is
a first-born, the obligation
rests on the mother."
"Rosh Hashana — Al-
though women are not re-
quired to hear the sounding
of the shofar since it is a pos-
itive mitzva that applies
only at specified certain
times, they traditionally do
observe this mitzva."
(Women are exempt, not
prohibited, from many pos-
itive mitzvas.)

"Yom Kippur — As in
the case with Shabbos, a
woman ushers in Yom

.

,





''• '•

Kippur by lighting the
candles." (This is true of
every Yom Tov.) "It is an
old custom for fathers
and according to some
for the. mother, too, to
bless the children before
the onset of Yom Kippur
. . . Women as well as
men are required to say
Viduy (Confessional) on
Yom Kippur."

"Sukkot — Women are
not required to eat and sleep
in the sukka because it is a
positive mitzva that applies
only at specified certain
times though many do eat in
the sukka as a matter of
course . . . Women are not
required to Bensch Lulav
(for the above reason).
However most girls and
women do observe the
mitzva and recite the
blessings."
Besides the above, it
should also be mentioned
that on Purim the Book of
Esther is read. On Shavout
the Book of Ruth is read. On
Rosh Hashana (first day)
the Haftorah concerning
Hanna is read. The most
elevated prayer in Jewish
liturgy, the Amida, is mod-
elled after Hanna's prayer.
It is important that the
myth of Judaism being a
patriarchal religion be
ended. Only through proper
education can Jewish
women assume their right-
ful role. As is stated in Mid-
rash Zutah, Ruth, "Each
generation is redeemed be-
cause of the righteous
women of that generation."

Mrs. Rus Krieger

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