Archive for September, 2011


Throughout the first half of the 20th century, one of the more reliable (and entertaining) ways to track the impact of Jewish culture on African-American artists was to listen for bits of Yiddish making its way into black blues, jazz, and pop. Black argots like hep and jive were becoming central to black style and soon Yiddish — a fellow linguistic outsider — started mixing in as well.

“Heebie Jeebies: The World of Yiddish Jive” in the “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations” exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco)

Judaism is about obligations; but obligations are about relationships. Halachic theory accepts the fact that for a time, at least, this or that obligation may seem painfully beyond us. It does not, however, countenance our imagining that we are painfully removed from God. The divine-human relationship is sacrosanct.

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, “Echoes of Kol Nidre in Summer,” The Jewish Week (22 July 2011), 25.

Eliezer b. Hyrcanus is the first Tannaitic master for some of whose sayings we have chains of tradition, that is, authorities who say, “I heard from…” or, more commonly, Rabbi X says/said that Rabbi Y says that R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus says/said. In addition, some of the Toseftan traditions about Eliezer, like many of those about disputes of the Houses, contain redefinitions of the substance of a dispute, or of the protasis of the pericope, preserving the apodosis just as it appears in the Mishnah. These constitute important evidence about the formation of Eliezer’s sayings; they tell us that a given authority knew and did not accept the specification of an opinion of Eliezer or of a matter about which he and others disputed, as given anonymously, but preferred a different formulation of the matter. Finally, we have, primarily from Judah b. Ilai, a number of opinions for Eliezer which are either consistent with (or contradict) anonymous Mishnaic laws, but which do not appear in the Mishnah in Eliezer’s name.

Jacob Neusner, <i>Eliezer ben Hyrcanus: The Tradition and the Man</i> Part Two (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973), 73.