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Bet Midrash

(157 words)

Author(s): Caplan, Kimmy
[German Version] (“House of Study”), an institution which began in the early Second Temple period, serving as a study center where people came to listen to words of wisdom, lessons, and halakhic discussions (Halakhah). During the mishnaic period (Mishnah) it became independent from the synagogue and many Jewish sources considered it to be a holier place than the synagogue. Although the bet midrash tended to merge with the synagogue in the Middle Ages, prayer remained secondary to study and discussion. The bet midrash usually held a library of different genres of …

Bet Din

(181 words)

Author(s): Caplan, Kimmy
[German Version] (“House of Judgment”), the term used in rabbinic sources for a Jewish court of law. This legal institution has undergone many changes throughout Jewish history, which reflect social, cultural, and religious trends within Jewish society. Moses served as a magistrate and later appointed judges in a hierarchical system. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce, the bet din of Yohanan ben Zakkai in Jabneh became a cultural and political center, succeeding the great Sanhedrin. In the Middle Ages, the bet din became one of the strongholds …

Bar Mitzvah

(129 words)

Author(s): Caplan, Kimmy
[German Version] (lit. “son of the commandment”), someone who commits himself to the observance of Jewish religious and legal obligations. This initiation rite (Rites of passage) is performed for boys at the age of 13 and one day, and for girls at the age of 12 and one day. The term appears in the Talmud, though it was not used in this sense until the 15th century. The ceremony includes being called to the Torah, reading the weekly portion of the Torah or at least part of it, reading the Haftara, putting on the Tefillin, and giving a speech. Kimmy Caplan Bibliography I. Rivkind, Bar Mitzvah: A Stu…

Alfasi, Isaac

(158 words)

Author(s): Caplan, Kimmy
[German Version] (1013, Qal'at Hammad, Algeria – 1103). After studying in a yeshiva in Kairouan, Alfasi lived in Fez until 1088, when he was forced to flee to Spain. After spending a short time in Cordoba he remained in Lucena until his death. In 1089, he was appointed head of the yeshiva in Lucena, after the death of Isaac ben Judah ibn Ghayyat. Alfasi wrote the most important halakhic code prior to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. He is considered by many to have closed the Geonic period. Alfasi dedicated his life to studying and …


(1,495 words)

Author(s): Hossfeld, Frank-Lothar | Heszer, Catherine | Caplan, Kimmy
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. Judaism I. Old Testament The term “benedictions” refers to statements of blessing by which the speaker directs the powers of blessing to the addressees, in contrast to statements of cursing or imprecations (maledictions; Blessing and curse). Within Old Testament literature, one can observe a transition from an older, …

Poor, Care of the

(5,426 words)

Author(s): Tworuschka, Udo | Ebach, Jürgen | Gager, John G. | Caplan, Kimmy | Nagel, Tilman | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies We can speak of care for the poor in the sense of public and private relief of poverty only when there has been a certain degree of institutionalization. Religions have treated poor relief with varying degrees emphasis. It is important to distinguish caregivers (including families, clans, congregations, orders, foundations, societies, and associations), the kind of help given (material, personal, structural), and the recipients (different levels of poverty). The Greeks and Romans felt no obligation to help the poor, or at most a g…