Throughout the history of rabbinic thought, widely accepted practice has always had a quasi-sacred status, even if it goes against the conclusions suggested by the authoritative texts. Yet rabbis also felt able to criticize popular customs they found contrary to halakhah, and generally distinguished custom from the letter of the law. Moses Schreiber (1762–1839), one of the greatest Central European rabbis of his day, and considered by some historians a founding father of Orthodox Judaism, sought to transform that relationship. Confronting the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, and the earliest stages of the Reform movement—which he saw as threats to the fundamental integrity of Judaism—Schreiber believed it was necessary not merely to defend halakhah but to prohibit the slightest innovation of any sort.
Was a Famed Hungarian Rabbi and Purported Founder of Orthodoxy a Jewish Edmund Burke?
Why a Government Victory in Southwestern Syria Is Bad News for Israel
Last week, Russia negotiated a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces in the city of Daraa, where the initial protests that sparked the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began. The agreement ended a 75-day assault on the city, located near the country’s southwestern border, by Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the significance of these events: