Preambles: An Insight into Rabbi Avraham Danzig’s Haye Adam
The Haye Adam of Rabbi Avraham Danzig (1747–1820) was the first all-encompassing code of Jewish law published since Rabbi Joseph Karo’s Shulchan Aruch (1565). The Hayei Adam ruled on all facets of daily life and was written to assist layman in understanding and comprehending the Shulchan Aruch and its numerous commentaries. This paper analyzes the preludes to each section of the Code, which served as the means to cognize Rabbi Danzig’s implicit message and system of adjudication. Rabbi Danzig understood that he lived in a time and place in which diversity was not the sole challenge to his religious community because the new secular neo-religious and “outside” orthodox groups were a threat. The Rabbi used the platform of his book of halakhah to instruct his educated readers in the correct behavior and theology. This paper takes into consideration the Jewish social historical issues of the period that had direct influences upon the thinking and rulings of Rabbi Danzig as manifested in the Haye Adam.
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There has been a limited number of scholarly publications written on both Rabbi Avraham Danzig and his writings. See Mordechai Mayer, “Rabbi Abraham Danzig and His Works” [In Hebrew] (master’s thesis, Bar Ian University, 2000); Mordechai Mayer, “Rabbi Abraham Danzig: His Unpublished Literary Enterprise,” [In Hebrew] Sidra: A Journal for the Study of Rabbinic Literature (2003): 41–52, and his extensive bibliography of nonscholarly works that refer to Rabbi Danzig; Benjamin Brown, The Lithuanian Muser Movement: Personalities and Ideas [In Hebrew] (N.p.: Moden Publishing House Ltd., 2014); David Shlomo Shapiro, “Hamazkir Baal Haye Adam et Kant?”[In Hebrew] Hadoar (November 3, 1967): 767; and Mordechai Kosover, “Hamazkir Baal Haye Adam et Kant?: Heara Liheara Bibiographit.” [In Hebrew] Hadoar (November 1969, gilyon 2 edition): 29.
Shabbatai Zvi died in 1676, but Sabbatianism remained an issue of major public concern for the Jewish rabbinic society well into the eighteenth century.
See Maoz Kahana, “The Allure of Forbidden Knowledge: The Temptation of Sabbatian Literature for Mainstream Rabbis in the Frankist Moment, 1756–1761.” Jewish Quarterly Review 102, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 589–616. In the context of the writings of Rabbi E. Landau, he discusses this issue at length.
In addition to the sources cited in note 1, see Rav Tzair (Chaim Tchernowitz), The Shulhan Aruk, Vol. 3 of Toledoth Ha-Poskim [In Hebrew] (New York: Jubilee Committee, 1947), 274–88.
See note 1.
There are numerous books that discuss Rabbi Landau, especially his period in Prague. See, for example, Maoz Kahana, From Noda Be Yehuda to Chatam Sofer: Halacha and Thought in Their Historical Moment [In Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Salmon Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2015); David Katz, “A Case Study in the Formation of a Super-Rabbi: The Early Years of Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, 1713–1754.”(PhD diss., University of Maryland, College Park, 2004), 431–570; Shnayer Z. Leiman, “Rabbi Ezekiel Landau: Letter of Reconciliation,” Tradition: a Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought 43, no. 4 (Winter 2010), 85–96; and Leon Gellman, Ha-Nodah bi-Yehudah u-Mishnato [In Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1961).
Eighteenth-century Prague was a major center of rabbinic leadership and Talmudic study. It also enjoyed a long tradition of Jewish mysticism and kabbalistic study. Prague also housed a large group of Shabbatai Zvi followers. See Sharon Flatto, The Kabbalistic Culture of Eighteenth-Century Prague: Ezekiel Landau (the ‘Noda Biyehudah’) and his Contemporaries (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2015), 40–63.
There has been substantial research on the Gra, especially regarding his opposition to Hasidut. See, for example: Elijah Judah Schochet, The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1994); Immanuel Etkes, The Beginning of the Hasidic Movement [In Hebrew] (N.p.: Ministry of Defense, 1998); Israel Klausner, The Jewish Community of Vilno in the Days of the Gaon [In Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 1942).
Although as a result of the Shabbatai Zvi movement, kabbalah was discouraged in eighteenth-century Europe, Prague remained a center for the study of kabbalah. The young Rabbi Danzig no doubt was influenced by these studies, especially since his teacher Rabbi Landau was well versed in the area and included kabbalah in his studies, as testified by his writings published well after Rabbi Danzig left Prague. While in Prague, in fact, at the age of eighteen, Rabbi Danzig began to write his commentary on the Passover Haggadah, a work primarily based upon kabbalah. (See Flatto, Kabbalistic Culture, who discusses both kabbalah in Prague and in the writings of Rabbi Landau at length).
See Maoz Kahana and Michael K. Silber, “Diests, Sabbatians and Kabbalists in Prague: A Censored Sermon of R. Ezekiel Landau, 1770,” [In Hebrew] Kabbalah 21 (2010): 349–84; and Flatto, Kabbalistic Culture, who discuss this issue.
On the topic of the early years of Hasidut, see David Asaf, ed., Zaddik and Devotees: Historical and Sociological Aspects of Hasidism [In Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, 2001); Shimon Dubnov, Toldot Hahasidut, 4th ed. [In Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1965); Etkes, The Beginning of the Hasidic Movement; Allan Nadler, The Path of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1999); Mendel Piekarz, The Beginning of Hasidism [In Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1978); and Shaul Stampfer, Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1995).
For a discussion of devekut and Hasidism, see Gershon Scholem, Kabbalah (New York: Meridian, 1978); and Mendel Piekarz, “Hasidism as a Socioreligious Movement on the Evidence of Devekut,” in Hasidism Reappraised, ed. J. G. Weiss and Ada Rapoport-Albert (Portland: Pitman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1996), 225–48. Even though they dis- agree on the meaning of devekut in Hasidut thought and practice, their differences are not relevant to this paper. The basic principle in Hasidut of the superiority of devekut still remains.
The source of devekut is the passage in Deuteronomy 11:12: “To love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to cleave unto him.” For a discussion of devekut, see Gershon Scholem, “Devekut or Communion with God,” in The Messianic Idea in Judaism (New York: Schoken Books, 1971), 203–27; and Piekarz, “Hasidism as a Socio-Religious Movement.”
See Nadler, The Path of the Mithnagdim.
Although it was not always possible for the average Jew to become one with God, one could achieve this level through his Zaddik. If they cleaved to him, they could accomplish devekut through his possible ability to reach this lofty goal.
Scholem,“Devekut or Communion with God,” 205. 17. Ibid., 216.
Schochet, The Hasidic Movement, 76–78, discusses the prioritization of devotional literature. The Besht, the founder of the Hasidic movement, is said to have unequivocally extolled the study of devotional literature over the study of Torah. The Besht phrased his conviction dramatically and picturesquely, declaring that it was none other than the crafty evil inclination that persuaded one to concentrate on the study of Talmud and its commentaries in order to cause neglect of the study of musar, which was indispensable in leading to a proper reverence for God. For the Besht, study of devotional literature, not study of Talmudic texts, was the true method of achieving religious piety.
See Piekarz, The Beginning of Hasidism, primarily 377–92.
To best understand the concept of musar within a weltenchung that the study of Torah was the primary and only goal of the Jew, I suggest looking at the scholarly works connected to the later nineteenth-century musar movement and its opponents. For example, Brown, The Lithuanian Musar Movement; Immanuel Etkes, Rabbi Israel Salanter and the Mussar Movement (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1993); Norman Lamm, Torah for Torah’s Sake (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 1989); and Gil S. Perl, The Pillar of Volozhin: Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin and the World of Nineteenth Century Lithuanian Torah Scholarship (Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2012).
Isadore Twersky, “The Shulhan Aruk: Enduring Code of Jewish Law,” Tradition: a Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought 16, no. 2 (Spring 1967): 153–54.
The second edition has three additional klalim.
When he felt it appropriate, Rabbi Danzig would introduce these prefaces into the text of the Haye Adam.
The other section preambles can be classified as: Klal 1, the Laws of Shabbat, primarily musar emphasiz- ing the centrality of Shabbat; Klal 76, Laws of Erub Techumim, clarifying the laws; Klal 71, wherein the general clarification for laws of erub is presented; Klal 79, the Laws of Yom Tov, clarifying the laws but con- tinuing this clarification in Klal 80; Klal 106, the Laws of Hol Hamoed-musar; Klal 119, the Laws of Passover, clarifying the upcoming laws; Klal 132, the Laws of Fasting: musar; Klal 138, the Laws of the new year with Klal 143, the Laws of Yom Kippur: musar; Klal 156, the Laws of Succah, historical with clarification.
The age of thirteen could be referring to a boy with a teacher and fifteen without a teacher. I believe the text substantiates his view. It may be related to Avot 5:21, 15 years for Talmud.
In addition to the final introduction, he also speaks of the layman who studies three or four hours a day in Haye Adam Klal 10:3.
I have added both the bold and italics to the quotes from the Haye Adam. The bold represents the first edition, published in 1810; the italics indicate the second edition, published in 1819. Both were published during Rabbi Danzig’s lifetime. The regular font is from editions published after Rabbi Danzig’s death, the first of these in 1825. I feel that is important to offer the reader the entire text. This is because it has not been published in English; therefore, this will assist the reader in gaining a full understanding of the issues being discussed. I offer special thanks to Mr. Dashiell Ferguson for preparing this translation.
Many of the statements presented in the preamble are found as adjudicated laws in the Haye Adam. I will identify some of them. For example, Rabbi Danzig in his Laws of Fasts and Tishah b’Av (135:11) writes, “Those that walk amongst non-Jews and are accustomed to wear shoes [on Tishah b’Av], although they are not to be protested against, since there are great [Authorities] that permit; nevertheless, there is no reason for this, and regarding [the argument] that the non-Jews will mock us, without this [pretext] they mock us!”
This is also discussed as law in the Haye Adam, Laws of Pesach (130), The Concise Overview of the Seder (par. 7): “the custom is that all of the household members raise the plate, and it is often that the wife is Niddah and then she is embarrassed, or it brings about laughter, therefore it is more correct that the wife never raise the plate, as was the custom of many great people.”
The quote from the Zohar can be translated: “Meritorious is the one who belittles himself in This World, how great is he and high in the World to Come…one that is small is great, and one that is great is small.”
The ethical classic (written c. 1040) of Rabbi Bachya ibn Pakudah of early eleventh-century Saragossa, Spain. The book was originally written in Arabic, but was translated into Hebrew by a member of the classic family of translators of the Rishonim, Rabbi Yehudah ben Shaul ibn Tibbon. The Hovot HaLevavot was published in many editions: Napoli, 1590; Venice, 1648; Constantinople, 1650; Krakow, 1693; and others.
Regarding the possibility of passing on positions in the community to one’s son, see the Haye Adam, Laws of Prayer and Blessings (29:17).
See note 32.
The third edition censored part of number 3 refers to “the philosopher”. It seems Rabbi Danzig is referring to Emanuel Kant. See Shapiro,“Hamazkir Baal Haye Adam et Kant?” (1967); and Kosover, “Hamazkir Baal Haye Adam et Kant” (1969).
Scholem, Kabbalah (1978), 175 explains that through the kabbalistic literature there is a running debate concerning achievement of devekut, through either the love of God or the fear of God.
This verse also appears in the Haye Adam, Laws of Prayer & Blessings (5:1).
The Haye Adam, Laws of Prayer & Blessings (10:12) writes regarding the law of Torah Study, “it is permitted to learn other subjects of wisdom by chance, only that one not read the books of the Apikorsim”.
Different editions list different sources from the Sefer Hahinukh. The first two editions of the Haye Adam list the following sources: the introduction, 25, 26, 417, 418, 432, 387. The sources listed in the above text are from a recent edition of the Haye Adam.
This work was published anonymously in thirteenth century Spain. Contemporary scholars have voiced dif- ferent suggestions as to the author of this book. See Israel Ta-Shma,“Mehabbero ha-amitti shel Sefer hahin- nukh.”[In Hebrew] (Kiryat Sefer 55, 1980), 787–790.
Rabbi Danzig also ignores the same explanation of devekut found in TB Ketubot 110b. He does cite this section in the Sefer Hahinukh (section 130) but does not discuss its content.
Piekarz, “Hasidism as a Socio-religious Movement,” 1996, discuses this attachment to the Zaddik in greater detail.
These laws are discussed in Haye Adam, Laws of Prayer & Blessings (37).
See the prominence of women in resisting the enemy in the Haye Adam, Laws of Hanukah (154:3).
See the Haye Adam, Laws of Fasts & Tishah b’Av (133:4–5 and 137).
Rabbi Danzig’s added section after quoting Maimonides is in italics.
In the 1876 edition of the Haye Adam, published in Vilna, the text reads “During the Second Temple, when King Antiochus ruled….” It is not clear why the publisher made this change, possibly because of the censor.
There have been many volumes penned concerning the beginnings of the Haskalah and its impact on the Jews in central and Western Europe. For example, see Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 142–60.
See Michael M. Meyer, Response to Modernity, A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1988), 15–25.
See note 6 for a list of biographies of Rabbi Landau; also, on Rabbi Landau and the Haskalah, see Ben- Zion Z. Katz, Rabanut, Hasidut, Haskalah [In Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Divir, 1956), 196–300.
Although the Haskalah in Russia did not become popular until later in the nineteenth century, its beginnings were felt in Vilna. See Klausner, The Jewish Community of Vilno, 46–49.
See Shmuel Feiner, The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-Century Europe (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 98.
Although, as I suggest, Rabbi Danzig is reacting to his social reality, his argument emphasizing the military victory is based upon early rabbinic authorities. For a list of these rabbinic authorities and a discussion on this topic, see Mishnah Berurah, Oz Vhadar edition, siman 670, footnotes 11 and 12 and Talmudic Encyclopedia, vol. 16, pp. 239–43 and the accompanying footnotes.
Rabbi Danzig most probably concluded this from BT Shabbat, p. 22 and Maimonides. Both these sources emphasized the miracle of the oil and placed the military victory as ancillary. While available in the eighteenth century, Sefer Yosippon that details this text was most probably not read by the Rabbi.
Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982).
For a further discussion of the sacred and the holy, see Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (London: Oxford University Press, 1950), 5–11.
Mary Douglas, Cultural Bias (London: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1979).
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