Page 160 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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the collection
Or Tzaddikim
(Salonika, 1799). Caro wrote about his
method of teaching Talmud in
Kelalei ha-Talmud
In 1569 Isaac Luria (1434-1572), to whose daughter one of
Caro’s sons may have been engaged, arrived in Safed and ush­
ered in a new movement of kabbalists which later would sweep
through the world and displace the followers of Cordovero and
Caro. According to legend, Luria, greatly admired by Caro, went
to him for rabbinic advice. However, Luria discouraged Caro
from pursuing Kabbalah with him, saying that Caro’s soul was
only equipped to grasp the kabbalistic system of Cordovero, and
every time Luria revealed his thoughts to Caro, Caro would fall
In 1555 Caro completed his
Shulhan Arukh,
“A Set Table,” a
digest of
Beit Yosef.
Like the Mishnah, the
Shulhan Arukh
was com­
piled in the Galilee. He intended his work to be an aid for estab­
lished scholars as well as for young students. Originally published
without the voluminous commentaries which surround it today,
Shulhan Arukh
was a brief work published in what could be
called pocket editions. It was originally divided into thirty sec­
tions so that it could be studied on a daily basis for a month. With
the preparation of the
Shulhan Arukh
Caro reversed his earlier
stand against brief codifications of halakhah that had led him to
Beit Yosef.
He eliminated much of the midrashic, ethical,
theoretical, ideological, theological, philosophical, and kabbalis­
tic aspects of the
Beit Yosef.
Shulhan Arukh
is an inte­
grated creation which, according to most critics, is written in a
clear and beautiful Hebrew style, although some have criticized
its eclectic character. Recent writers have identified as the most
important feature of the work its stress on practical patterns of
behavior rather than on theoretical considerations. The
adds to the rigorism of the
and concentrates on the reg­
ular and fixed aspects of practice. Rather than attempting to cre­
ate an ideational framework for finding meaning in specific com­
mandments, it attempts to give regular, concrete, and routine
expression to Jewish values and practice. Yet Caro nevertheless
clearly did not want to eliminate all spirituality from halakhah,
but believed that a specific meta-halakhic system was an inde-