Cover

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CONTENTS

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p. v

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I am deeply thankful for the unfailing support of Peter Sch

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Ottoman Jewry in the nineteenth century was a society in transition. Sephardic communities in places such as Istanbul, Salonika, or Izmir underwent a process of profound cultural, political, and social transformation that changed the parameters of its cultural identity, the patterns of authority and power within the communities, and the economic basis of Jewish life. By the end of the century, Ottoman...

Part I. Vernacular Musar Literature as a Cultural Factor

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p. 13

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1. Historical Background

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pp. 15-30

One of the greatest rabbinic authorities in the sixteenth century Ottoman Empire, Samuel de Medina, was once approached by a congregation of German Jews residing in the Ottoman city of Salonika with a question regarding the prayer rite used in their synagogue. Over the years, they explained to de Medina, more and more members of the congregation had abandoned their German-Ashkenazic tradition...

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2. Print and the Vernacular: The Emergence of Ladino Reading Culture

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pp. 31-48

Frank Kermode once dubbed the “classics” of literature somewhat irreverently as “old books which people still read.” He adds: “The books we call classics possess intrinsic qualities that endure, but possess also an openness to accommodation which keeps them alive under endlessly varying dispositions.”1 This seems...

Part II. Authors, Translators, Readers

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p. 49

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3. The Translation and Reception of Musar

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pp. 51-75

In a recent article, Olga Borovaya has examined the translation of Gulliver’s Travels into Ladino as an example of an effort by a westernized elite to educate the Sephardic masses in the early twentieth century. Having defined translations broadly as the transfer from one literary system to another and as an act of rewriting, she focuses on this Ladino work as an adaptation of the literary classic to the Judeo-Spanish...

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4. “Pasar la Hora” or “Meldar”? Forms of Sociability

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pp. 76-88

In a recent publication on Ottoman history, Fran

Part III. Musar Literature and the Social Order

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p. 89

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5. The Construction of the Social Order

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pp. 91-102

And, indeed, Jacob Huli and the authors of Judeo-Spanish musar literature show empathy for the poor and insist on the importance of social solidarity and charity. But this general impression of the rabbis’ empathy for the masses—arguably, their intended readers—does not, as...

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6. Three Social Types: The Wealthy, the Poor, the Learned

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pp. 103-120

The rabbis represented Jewish society as a human organism composed of functionally different and hierarchically related members. Another way to read the rabbinic construction of society is to study three major social types constituting the social order of musar: the wealthy, the poor, and the talmide hakhamim. As we have seen, the vernacular rabbis were convinced that this social differentiation...

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7. The Representation of Gender

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pp. 121-134

Not surprisingly, the ambivalent attitude toward women that can be found through-out Jewish literature—manifest also in popular culture as expressed in Judeo-Spanish folktales1—is evident in the vernacular rabbinic literature in Ladino. Alongside eloquent praise of women we find misogynist remarks. To illustrate this point, it suffices to contrast two passages from Judeo-Spanish musar literature. In...

Part IV. Exile and History

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p. 135

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8. Understanding Exile, Setting Boundaries

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pp. 137-155

In his lucid analysis of galut—exile—in Genesis, Arnold Eisen has suggested that “the homelessness of [the Jewish] people which is never at home, even in its own Promised Land, is meant to instruct those who mistakenly believe they are at home upon their earth about the true estate of human beings. . . . The rest of the Torah comes as a corrective to the condition of homelessness which Genesis describes. It...

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9. The Impossible Homecoming

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pp. 156-172

Of the authors discussed in this study, three lived and wrote their Judeo-Spanish musar works in Jerusalem: Isaac Farhi, who was born in Safed in 1779 and died in Jerusalem in 1853; Judah Papo, who moved to the Land of Israel (he is mentioned as a rabbi in Jerusalem in 1856) and died there in 1873, just a year after the appearance of the second volume of...

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10. Reincarnation and the Discovery of History

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pp. 173-183

Time can be defined as the difference between past and future,1 and the experience of time as the difference between the realm of experience (memory) and the horizon of expectation (hope).2 Time, for Judeo-Spanish musar, is experienced as the tension or difference between the mythic past of biblical times and the suffering throughout the history of exile, and as the difference between the memory of exile...

Part V. The Challenge of Modernity

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p. 185

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11. Scientific and Rabbinic Knowledge and the Notion of Change

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pp. 187-201

In November 1873, the Judeo-Spanish newspaper El Tiempo, published in Istanbul, carried a series of popular scientific articles explaining the astronomical phenomenon of eclipses. The first article began: “Among the phenomena that caused exaggerated bewilderment and provoked terrible fear among the ignorant people of the past is the eclipse of the moon and sun, which they considered a bad omen.”1...

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Conclusion

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pp. 202-207

...the eighteenth century witnessed unprecedented literary creativity in the Ladino vernacular and gave birth to Judeo-Spanish print culture and thus provided the basis for the emergence of a Judeo-Spanish public sphere in the nineteenth century. Rabbinic literature in Ladino would play a key role in establishing the lineaments of this Judeo-Spanish literary public sphere...

Notes

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pp. 209-239

Bibliography

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pp. 241-255

Index

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pp. 257-264