The Modern Period

Ruth Langer

in Cursing the Christians?

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199783175
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919161 | DOI:
The Modern Period

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For varying reasons, Jews across the spectrum deliberately altered the text of the birkat haminim in the modern period. Sephardim reintroduced the word “minim” to the text but in novel locations and with ongoing controversy. Hasidic Jews constructed new rites with new versions. Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews and Sephardim, influenced by kabbalah and by sheer logic, continued the text’s tendency to curse forces of evil rather than categories of humans. Reform movement liturgies, where they maintained the prayer, also abstracted it. Conservative movement translations generally followed this trend. Today, all liberal liturgies, Reform and Reconstructionist, have reintroduced an abstract version. In a world accepting Jews as full members of society, the prayer thus ceases to function as a direct response to immediate neighbors; no printed commentaries apply it even to rival Jewish groups. Indeed, most commentaries identify the context of its origins as not relevant to their own day.

Keywords: birkat haminim; Sephardim; Ashkenazim; kabbalah; Reform; Conservative; Reconstructionist; Orthodox; translation; commentary

Chapter.  22364 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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