Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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8 9
W
in d
— E
z e k ie l
L
a n d a u
dencies springing from emancipation. Enlightenment, the prod-
uct of Haskalah, and the wave of secular learning it ushered
into the Jewish community, greatly disturbed and harassed the
Jewish mind. Rabbi Landau was not averse to secular learning
pe r se
in the realm of science, if it was to complement the study
of Torah. But he frowned upon those branches of the arts and
social sciences which disseminated heretical conceptions hostile
to Jewish tradition. He was a benevolent father to all his fol-
lowers, and took a paternal interest in his many pupils who
served in various posts on the continent.
Landau3s Literary Activities
Rabbi Landau’s writings may be divided roughly into major
works and minor works. The following may be classified in the
first category:
I.
The Responsa of Noda BeYehudah
(“Known in Judah”)
in three editions with different additions: Prague, 1776 and
1811; Lemberg 1857 and 1859; Vilna, 1899 to 1904. Since his
fame as chief rabbi of Prague extended far and wide, he was
frequently asked to make pronouncements on numerous mat-
ters—religious, social and economic—and these responsa, which
were his major preoccupation throughout his lifetime, emerged.
They comprise a comprehensive and erudite study of the Tal-
mud with the view to making it supply source material to the
extant Codes: The
Shulhan Aruch
of Rabbi Joseph Caro and
the
Mishneh Torah
of Maimonides.
Arranged along the outline of the four codes of the
Shulhan
Aruch,
the responsa contain analytical discussions of Talmudic
discourses which culminate in decisions affecting the total life
of the Jewish community at large. Thus the Talmud becomes a
viable reservoir and a vital instrument as the source of all
Jewish legislation needed to solve problems in all walks of
Jewish life.
The responsa were close to the pulse of Jewish life on the
continent; they were in touch with the heartbeat of the masses.
Well indexed both as regards the rabbis and the communities
on the continent, the responsa encompass every phase of Jewish
activity and Jewish aspiration, and therefore become a source
of Jewish history in the eighteenth century. They furnish an
insight into the varied but limited economic pursuits of the
ewish people in the age of enlightenment. From them we gain
nowledge of the problems involved because of emancipation
in the proper observance of the Sabbath. We acquire, too, a
iew of the Jewish court system and its issuance of special
egislation, of the nature of betrothal and marriage contracts,