Monday, May 31, 2021

The very inconvenient ancient synagouges of Israel

Quite by accident, I came across a WIkipedia entry entitled "Ancient Synagouges of the Land of Israel". It includes a shul in Bar Am, that is believed to have been active until the 8th or 9th century, and one in Katzin that was used until the 8th century.

The existence of these shuls and others like them is very inconvenient.

First they entirely undermine the famous idion about 2000 years of exile. If there were Jews praying in Bar Am 1100 years ago the exile can't have been longer than that.

Second, they tell us that the exile wasn't perpetrated by Rome (identified with Edom) but by the Islamic Mamluks (Ishmael) This little inconvenient fact defeats all sorts of famous midrashic teachings and well known ideas about  Edom and its metaphysical, supernatural role in the world.

Finally, the presence of these synagouges defeat the precious Haredi notion of an unbroken halachic tradition known and recognized by all Jews at all time. It seems unlikely that the Jews of Northern Israel were aware of the as yet uncompleted Babylonian Talmud and the Savaroaim who finished it up. Perhaps they were in correspondence with those schools, but why would they have respected its authority when they (likely) had their own tradition dating back to the time of the Mishna, when Judaism had flourished in their region.  True, the sages of the Talmud also claimed to be the heirs of that tradition, but communities that are isolated from one another always develop different interpretations and applications of their inherited tradition.
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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Gave us?

God gave us the land of Israel 

What do the words "gave" and "us" mean in that sentence?