EDER 521 Lecture Notes - Rabbinic Judaism, Semikhah, Jewish Prayer

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is simply a teacher, a person formally educated in halakhah (Jewish
He instructs the community, answers questions and settles disputes
regarding the Jewish law. When a person has completed the necessary
course of study, he is given a written document known as a semikhah,
which confirms his authority to make such decisions.
Rabbis are the spiritual leaders of the Jewish community. They must
minister to the community, lead community religious services and deal
with many of the administrative matters related to the synagogue. It is
important to note that the rabbi's status does not give him the
authority to conduct religious services. Any Jew sufficiently educated
to know what he is doing can lead a religious service. A service led by
such a Jew is just as valid as a service led by a rabbi. It is not unusual
for a community to be without a rabbi, or for Jewish services to be
conducted without a rabbi.
a person qualified by academic studies of the Hebrew Bible and the
A teacher, specifically in Roman times an expert on the interpretation
of Torah. In 2 millennia since priestly sacrifices ceased with the
destruction of the temple, the rabbi has been the scholarly and
spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation, while the cantor is the
liturgical specialist leading the musical chants in a synagogue service.
They wanted a unified community to practice their law.
Rabbinic Judaism:- collapse of Jerusalem in 70 marks a turning point
in history of Judaism; temple was destroyed the 2nd time; institutions
and practices (such as animal sacrifice) disappeared from Jewish life;
Pharisaic traditions refurbished for a new national purpose, gave birth
to the institutions of rabbinic Judaism; no priests but rabbis; Rabbinic
movement was not hereditary priesthood. Rather, it handed the
interpretation of law to an educated class open to anyone who sought
out and received the requisite education. One just had to go to Yeshiva
and when one completed one’s studies to the teacher’s satisfaction,
one was ordained a rabbi; synagogues appeared; Jews pray facing
east when the temple existed in Jerusalem; Torah was in synagogue;
added midrah to bible, it contained legal discussions
In more recent centuries, the duties of the rabbi became increasingly
influenced by the duties of the Protestant Christian Minister, hence the
title "pulpit rabbis", and in 19th century Germany and the United
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