A Treasury of Responsa

A Treasury of Responsa

A Treasury of Responsa

A Treasury of Responsa

Excerpt

The Responsa Literature, published by The Jewish Publication Society in 1955, is in effect an introduction to this volume. An attempt was made there to give a general description of the responsa; the present volume, on the other hand, offers what may be considered a fair sampling of this vast branch of Jewish legal writing. The author would nevertheless like to explain why, because of the difficulties involved, his task cannot really be adequately accomplished.

The main difficulty is due to the fact that, while the responsa literature has hitherto interested only specialists in the field of Jewish Law, this volume attempts to enlist the interest also of the general reader. Our book, therefore, faces the problem of addressing two separate audiences simultaneously on a subject that would be difficult enough in relation to either audience alone.

Each of these audiences, moreover, presents problems of its own. The scope of Jewish Law ranges over so wide a variety of themes that each scholar of the technically-trained audience tends to have his own specific interests. There are many learned rabbis in America today to whom the laws of the ritual bath (mikvah), which comprise a whole tractate in the Talmud and large sections in the codes and hundreds of responsa, are of perennial and practical interest. Other rabbis, concerned with the problems of . . .

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