Turkish Jewry of the sixteenth century could fall back only upon its inner resources. These inner resources, however, must not be underestimated. The mighty bonds of Jewish Law under which they lived made it possible for them to experience their Jewishness as a living and comforting reality. This is the chief lesson that we can learn from the Turkish period of Jewish history: the marvelous vitality of Jewish Law, its flexibility, its usefulness as a source of moral and ethical guidance in meeting new challenges and new opportunities. This study is meant to be a small contribution to the vast subject of the role which the Law and its interpreters have played in the spiritual history of the Jewish people.
the Author -- Jewish Life in Turkey in the XVIth Century
The responsa of Rabbi Samuel de Medina, upon which this study is based, offer a valuable contribution to the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire during the greater part of the sixteenth century. The era which these responsa illuminate saw the tragic decline of Jewish life in Spain and Portugal and the meteoric rise of the prosperous and influential community of Turkish Jewry.
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