Thursday, March 09, 2006

Concerning Jesibot and the Ghemara

This is from the seven-volume "The ceremonies and religious customs of the various nations of the known world: together with historical annotations, and several curious discourses equally instructive and entertaining" (its nice to have that kind of confidence about one's own work, isn't it?). Originally in French, and featuring plates by Bernard Picart this comes from the translation published by William Jackson in London, between 1733 and 1739. The translation was made by "a Gentleman, some Time since of St. John's College in OXFORD."

The first volume deals with Jews and Judaism and is a treasure trove of interesting material. This excerpt is particularly interesting, not only because it discussed yeshivot ("Jesivod"), but also because it alludes to a historical tragedy: because of campaigns against the Talmud it was possible to speak of "those places where it is permitted to have [the Talmud]," for "where they have it not, they endeavour to make themselves Masters of the Writings of their wise Men, their Paraphrases, or the Abridgement of the Talmud," (Ein Yaakov?).

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