Sabbath Observers as a Minority
Jewish involvement in the manufacturing processes characteristic of postfeudal economies began, as we have seen, as early as the period of the ancien régime. Their economic involvement became more intense with the collapse of the ancien régime, which led to a change in the political status of the Jews. Even where Jews were not granted full and equal rights--outside of France and Holland Jews reached this stage during the last third of the nineteenth century, and in eastern Europe only in the twentieth1--their range of economic opportunity improved vastly. The kinds of personal occupations and investment channels open to them increased and became more varied;2 and questions relating to Sabbath observance now multiplied accordingly, to be dealt with by contemporary halakhic authorities.
The varied subject matter, however, was not the only sign of changing times. The very status of the Sabbath among the Jews was changing, as the entire Jewish religious tradition found itself in a state of flux.____________________