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Religion and Politics

by David Joshua Malkiel
Religion and Politics 179 those done previously, because peoples  honor is important, having risen, they shall not be lowered. 60 This text echoes Katzenellenbogens view that the absence ofcommunal  controls over ordination led to a general devaluation of titles. 61 The 1616 statutes clause about academy attendance suggests a preoccupation with the trappings, rather than obligations, of the rabbinic titles, because it suggests that people were not attending the academies. The statute generally indicates that the inflation of ordination stemmed from the undue importance attached to titles and 60 Min- Haleviyyim, Medaber, p. 40. The last two phrases appear in the Libro Grande 1616 statute. Min- Haleviyyim explicitly omits, as irrelevant to his discussion, the section of the statute dealing with rabbinic legislation. The dating of this statute is problematical. Min- Haleviyyim dates it at 374 (= 1614), but it does not appear in the Libro Grande, nor is it mentioned in the 1616 statute, which does mention the 1594 statute. Furthermore, Min- Haleviyyims statute refers to the Small Assembly as  the Twenty, but in 1614 the Small Assembly had only eleven members. On the other hand, the Small Assembly is also called  the Twenty by Micanzio, writing in 1633, long after the Small Assembly ceased to number twenty members. Additionally, 374 is definitely not a scribal error on Min- Haleviyyims part, since he  states ( p. 41) that thirty six years have passed, and he was writing in 1650. 61 Sonne, as well as Klarr, was influenced by Modenas  view of the 1594 incident. Sonne attempted to fill in the picture of rabbinic- lay relations during the years between 1594 and 1616, using copyright documents, which appear in Venice for the first time in 1595. The first one, on R. Jacob Sorzenas Seder ha- nikur, is signed by both lay and rabbinic leaders, and Sonne noted that the lay leaders signatures precede those of the rabbis. Sonne thought the order of the signatures indicative of a new balance of power, in which the lay leaders were the excommunicators and the rabbis the assentors. He saw a development towards the restoration of rabbinic authority around the turn of the century, noting that rabbis and lay leaders sign together on a 1599 copyright, and that there are no Small Assembly signatures on copyrights between 1602 and 1606. Based on an excommunication issued in 1609 on behalf of R. Yedidia Galante, in which the lay leaders signatures precede the rabbinic ones, Sonne saw a resurgence of pressure for lay control during the second decade of the seventeenth century, culminating, of course, in the statute of 1616. See Benayahu, Haskamah, pp. 32, 249- 250; Sonne,  Teudot, p. 208; Simonsohn, History, pp. 522, 576- 7. The  Modenese image of protracted struggle between the rabbinate and laity of Venice, which Sonne accepted, has already been questioned. There is also a methodological problem with Sonnes microscopic analysis, since the order of signatures on a document may be altogether insignificant, or at least susceptible to alternative interpretations. In addition, copyright documents are not a finite corpus. The possibility that many copyright documents  have not survived disqualifies the extant ones from quantitative analysis.   Chapter Home  | TOC  | Index t t

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Religion and Politics 179 those done previously, because people's honor is important, having risen, they shall not be lowered. 60 This text echoes Katzenellenbogen's view that the absence of communal controls over ordination led to a general devaluation of titles. 61 The 1616 statute's clause about academy attendance suggests a preoccupation with the trappings, rather than obligations, of the rabbinic titles, because it suggests that people were not attending the academies. The statute generally indicates that the inflation of ordination stemmed from the undue importance attached to titles and 60 Min- Haleviyyim, Medaber, p. 40. The last two phrases appear in the Libro Grande 1616 statute. Min- Haleviyyim explicitly omits, as irrelevant to his discussion, the section of the statute dealing with rabbinic legislation. The dating of this statute is problematical. Min- Haleviyyim dates it at 374 (= 1614), but it does not appear in the Libro Grande, nor is it mentioned in the 1616 statute, which does mention the 1594 statute. Furthermore, Min- Haleviyyim's statute refers to the Small Assembly as \\" the Twenty,\\" but in 1614 the Small Assembly had only eleven members. On the other hand, the Small Assembly is also called \\" the Twenty\\" by Micanzio, writing in 1633, long after the Small Assembly ceased to number twenty members. Additionally, 374 is definitely not a scribal error on Min- Haleviyyim's part, since he states ( p. 41) that thirty six years have passed, and he was writing in 1650. 61 Sonne, as well as Klarr, was influenced by Modena's view of the 1594 incident. Sonne attempted to fill in the picture of rabbinic- lay relations during the years between 1594 and 1616, using copyright documents, which appear in Venice for the first time in 1595. The first one, on R. Jacob Sorzena's Seder ha- nikur, is signed by both lay and rabbinic leaders, and Sonne noted that the lay leaders' signatures precede those of the rabbis. Sonne thought the order of the signatures indicative of a new balance of power, in which the lay leaders were the excommunicators and the rabbis the assentors. He saw a development towards the restoration of rabbinic authority around the turn of the century, noting that rabbis and lay leaders sign together on a 1599 copyright, and that there are no Small Assembly signatures on copyrights between 1602 and 1606. Based on an excommunication issued in 1609 on behalf of R. Yedidia Galante, in which the lay leaders' signatures precede the rabbinic ones, Sonne saw a resurgence of pressure for lay control during the second decade of the seventeenth century, culminating, of course, in the statute of 1616. See Benayahu, Haskamah, pp. 32, 249- 250; Sonne, \\" Te'udot,\\" p. 208; Simonsohn, History, pp. 522, 576- 7. The \\" Modenese\\" image of protracted struggle between the rabbinate and laity of Venice, which Sonne accepted, has already been questioned. There is also a methodological problem with Sonne's microscopic analysis, since the order of signatures on a document may be altogether insignificant, or at least susceptible to alternative interpretations. In addition, copyright documents are not a finite corpus. The possibility that many copyright documents have not survived disqualifies the extant ones from quantitative analysis. << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index t t
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