Scavenging Jewish History Clue #6

Congratulations, you found Clue #6! While the Kuzari empire eventually died out, Central & Eastern Europe became a home for a wide variety of Jewish communities. Hebrew printing presses emerged in Italy, Germany, & Poland, while yeshivot, or study-houses were built around the study of printed Jewish texts across the continent.

(א) (א) אָמַר יְהוּדָה בֶן שָׁאוּל ז"ל, אָמַר הַמְחַבֵּר: שָׁאוֹל שָׁאֲלוּ אוֹתִי עַל מַה שֶּׁיֵשׁ אִתִּי מִן הַטְּעָנוֹת וְהַתְּשׁוּבוֹת עַל הַחוֹלְקִים עָלֵינוּ מִן הַפִּילוֹסוֹפִים וְאַנְשֵׁי הַתּוֹרוֹת, וְעַל הַמִּינִים הַחוֹלְקִים עַל הֲמוֹן יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְזָכַרְתִּי מַה שֶּׁשְּׁמַעְתִּיו כְּבַר מִטַּעֲנוֹת הֶחָבֵר אֲשֶׁר הָיָה אֵצֶל מֶלֶךְ כּוּזָר הַנִּכְנַס בְּדַת הַיְּהוּדִים הַיּוֹם כְּאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה כַּאֲשֶׁר נִזְכָּר וְנוֹדָע בְּסִפְרֵי דִבְרֵי הַיָּמִים, כִּי נִשְׁנָה עָלָיו חֲלוֹם פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת כְּאִלּוּ מַלְאָךְ מְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ: "כַּוָּנָתְךָ רְצוּיָה אֵצֶל הַבּוֹרֶא אֲבָל מַעַשְׂךָ אֵינָנּוּ רָצוּי". וְהוּא הָיָה מִשְׁתַּדֵּל מְאֹד בְּתוֹרַת הַכּוּזָר עַד שֶׁהָיָה מְשַׁמֵּש בַּעֲבוֹדַת הַהֵיכָל וְהַקָּרְבָּנוֹת בְּעַצְמוֹ בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם, וְכָל אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִשְׁתַּדֵּל בַּמַּעֲשִׂים הָהֵם, הָיָה הַמַּלְאָךְ בָּא אֵלָיו בַּלַּיְלָה וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ: "כַּוָּנָתְךָ רְצוּיָה וּמַעַשְׂךָ אֵינֶנּוּ רָצוּי", וְגָרַם לוֹ זֶה לַחֲקֹר עַל הָאֱמוּנוֹת וְהַדָּתוֹת וְהִתְיַהֵד בַּסּוֹף הוּא וְעַם רָב מֵהַכּוּזָרִים, וְהָיוּ מִטַּעֲנוֹת הֶחָבֵר מַה שֶּׁנִּתְיַשְּׁבָה נַפְשִׁי עֲלֵיהֶם וְהִסְכִּימוּ לְדַעְתִּי. וְרָאִיתִי לִכְתֹּב הַדְּבָרִים הָהֵם כַּאֲשֶׁר נָפְלוּ וְהַמַּשְׂכִּילִים יָבִינוּ. – אָמְרוּ כִּי כַאֲשֶׁר רָאָה מֶלֶךְ כּוּזָר בַּחֲלוֹמוֹ כִּי כַוָּנָתוֹ רְצוּיָה אֵצֶל הַבּוֹרֵא אֲבָל מַעֲשֵׂהוּ אֵינוֹ נִרְצֶה וְצִוָּהוּ בַחֲלוֹם לְבַקֵּשׁ הַמַּעֲשֶׂה הַנִּרְצֶה אֵצֶל הַבּוֹרֵא, שָׁאַל פִּילוֹסוֹף אֶחָד עַל אֱמוּנָתוֹ.

(1) Introduction: I WAS asked to state what arguments and replies I could bring to bear against the attacks of philosophers and followers of other religions, and also against [Jewish] sectarians who attacked the rest of Israel. This reminded me of something I had once heard concerning the arguments of a Rabbi who sojourned with the King of the Khazars. The latter, as we know from historical records, became a convert to Judaism about four hundred years ago. To him came a dream, and it appeared as if an angel addressed him, saying: 'Thy way of thinking is indeed pleasing to the Creator, but not thy way of acting.' Yet he was so zealous in the performance of the Khazar religion, that he devoted himself with a perfect heart to the service of the temple and sacrifices. Notwithstanding this devotion, the angel came again at night and repeated: 'Thy way of thinking is pleasing to God, but not thy way of acting.' This caused him to ponder over the different beliefs and religions, and finally become a convert to Judaism together with many other Khazars. As I found among the arguments of the Rabbi, many which appealed to me, and were in harmony with my own opinions, I resolved to write them down exactly as they had been spoken. When the King of Khazar (as is related) dreamt that his way of thinking was agreeable to God, but not his way of acting, and was commanded in the same dream to seek the God-pleasing work, he inquired of a philosopher concerning his religious persuasion.

While some European Jewish scholars learned the secrets of Jewish mysticism (kabbalah), most study-houses focused their attention on Jewish law (halakhah) and its meaning for everyday Jewish life.

Next steps:

  1. In order to find the next clue, you have to navigate to the opening page of the Talmud, Berakhot 2a.
  2. Open the Resources Panel.
  3. While you're here, check out some old printed versions of this page in the Talmud under the "Manuscripts" category.
  4. Then, click on "Commentaries" and open the first of Rashi's commentaries on the Talmud.
  5. Then, open the Resources Panel on Rashi's commentary to locate the next clue.