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CHAPTER VII EUROPEAN

by Salo W. Baron
CHAPTER VII EUROPEAN CORPORATION N MEDIEVAL and early modern Europe, the Jewish community reached its apogee. In many countries and periods it came close to justifying complaints that it con-stituted a “ state within the state.” In fact, such complaints became vocal only during the eighteenth century when com-plete non- religious assimilation began to be viewed in many quarters as both feasible and desirable. Before that time, extensive Jewish self- government was universally accepted as the necessary and welcome complement to recognized re-ligious disparity. Over professing Jews the community of-ten exercised more authority than the most powerful secu-lar regimes. Buttressed by the legal recognition of State and Church; imbued with the spirit of a nomistic and ethical, i. e. activist religion; bound together by strong economic ties, outside animosity and a communal responsibility both theo-retical and practical; permeated with a profound reverence for tradition, it was a sort of little state, interterritorial and non- political, but none the less quasi- totalitarian. What it lacked in police or military facilities for law enforcement, it more than compensated for by super- natural sanctions of religion, which made of every deviation from the norm, however slight and however secular in character, a serious offense against religion. Even the offender who felt he was sure to escape earthly justice, was likely to be troubled by conscience, haunted by fears of supernatural damnation. 208 I   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

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CHAPTER VII EUROPEAN CORPORATION N MEDIEVAL and early modern Europe, the Jewish community reached its apogee. In many countries and periods it came close to justifying complaints that it con-stituted a “ state within the state.” In fact, such complaints became vocal only during the eighteenth century when com-plete non- religious assimilation began to be viewed in many quarters as both feasible and desirable. Before that time, extensive Jewish self- government was universally accepted as the necessary and welcome complement to recognized re-ligious disparity. Over professing Jews the community of-ten exercised more authority than the most powerful secu-lar regimes. Buttressed by the legal recognition of State and Church; imbued with the spirit of a nomistic and ethical, i. e. activist religion; bound together by strong economic ties, outside animosity and a communal responsibility both theo-retical and practical; permeated with a profound reverence for tradition, it was a sort of little state, interterritorial and non- political, but none the less quasi- totalitarian. What it lacked in police or military facilities for law enforcement, it more than compensated for by super- natural sanctions of religion, which made of every deviation from the norm, however slight and however secular in character, a serious offense against religion. Even the offender who felt he was sure to escape earthly justice, was likely to be troubled by conscience, haunted by fears of supernatural damnation. 208 I < < C h a p t e r >> Home | T O C For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com
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Varda Books - 1-59045-193-7


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