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Sarit Kattan Gribetz

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Control the Calendar, Control Judaism

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Sarit Kattan Gribetz

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Control the Calendar, Control Judaism

"

TheTorah.com

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2024

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https://thetorah.com/article/control-the-calendar-control-judaism

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Control the Calendar, Control Judaism

Calendrical disputes, which recurred frequently in ancient and medieval Jewish communities, created alternative dates for festivals such as Yom Kippur and Passover. Here, we look at four disputes and the different ways that communities navigated them. 

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Control the Calendar, Control Judaism

The Great Sanhedrin (adapted), Edward Moyse. 1868. Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme

Conflict: The Wicked Priest Dispute

Pesher Habakkuk, one of the first texts discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, reinterprets the biblical prophesies of Habakkuk 1–2 for its own time. Scholars assume that the text was composed by members of the Qumran community, who had relocated to the desert following dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem; in this new place, they established a separate community guided by their own values and interpretations of scripture. Each comment in the pesher begins with a passage from the biblical text followed by a contemporary interpretation of it.

Habakkuk rebukes people who get others drunk to manipulate them.

הוי משקה רעיהו מספח חמתו אף שכר למען הבט אל מועדיהם.[1]
Woe to the one who causes his neighbor(s) to drink, pouring out his wrath, also making (them) drunk, in order that he might regard their feasts.[2]

Referring to a calendar controversy in the late Second Temple period, when the Wicked Priest [from the perspective of the Qumran group], i.e., the priest from the Temple in Jerusalem, pursued the Teacher of Righteousness, i.e., the leader of the community at Qumran, the pesher glosses:

פשרו על הכוהן הרשע אשר רדף אחר מורה הצדק לבלעו בכעס חמתו אבית (= בבית) גלותו ובקץ מועד מנוחת יום הכפורים הופיע אליהם לבלעם ולכשילם (= ולהכשילם) ביום צום שבת מנוחתם
Its interpretation concerns the Wicked Priest, who chased after the Teacher of Righteousness, to swallow him up (i.e., to kill him) in the fury of his wrath, to the house of his exile. And at that time of (the) feast, the rest of the Day of Atonement he shone forth to them to swallow them up, and to cause them to stumble in the day of fasting, the Sabbath of their rest.

The pesher describes how the High Priest travels all the way to the Qumran community’s distant settlement, about 150km away from Jerusalem, on the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year.[3] The high priest of the Jerusalem Temple would not have traveled on the Day of Atonement – when he had countless duties in the Temple, and when traveling was prohibited – even to pursue the Teacher of Righteousness.

Rather, the Wicked Priest must have celebrated the Day of Atonement on a different day from the Teacher of Righteousness, indicating that the two leaders observed conflicting sacred calendars, celebrating the same festivals on different days. The Teacher of Righteousness’ appearance served as a statement about the communities’ difference of opinion regarding the calculation of the annual calendar and the date of festivals, including the Day of Atonement.[4]

Other texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls embed calendrical details within them or promote a solar calendar, often in implicit or explicit contrast to the luni-solar calendar that was likely used in that era in Jerusalem.[5] The earliest evidence of ancient Jewish groups using a solar calendar is from the second century BCE book of Jubilees, which has the angel of God command Moses:

Jubilees 6:32 Now you command the Israelites to keep the years in this number—364 days. Then the year will be complete and it will not disturb its time from its days or from its festivals…[6]

The message continues with a warning about the future:

Jubilees 6:36 There will be people who carefully observe the moon with lunar observations because it is corrupt (with respect to) the seasons and is early from year to year by ten days. 6:37 Therefore, years will come about for them when they will disturb (the year) and make a day of testimony something worthless and a profane day a festival. Everyone will join together both holy days with the profane and the profane day with the holy day, for they will err regarding the months, the sabbaths, the festivals, and the jubilee. [7]

The disagreements about the calendar (and a few other matters) between the Qumran community and that of the Jerusalem Temple offered sufficient reasons for a community to form their own breakaway and to settle in Qumran.

Second Temple sources outside Qumran—including the writings of Philo, Josephus, and Pliny—are silent about these calendrical disputes, even when they discuss the beliefs and practices of the sect near the Dead Sea. Nevertheless, we do hear echoes of calendar controversy in post-destruction Rabbinic literature. One such account also takes place on Yom Kippur.

Acquiescence: The Dispute over Rabban Gamaliel’s Authority

Mishnah Rosh Hashanah, a tractate that deals with the rabbinic calendar, legislates that the beginnings of new months are not fixed in advance (as they are now), but declared on the basis of witnesses who see the new moon. The Mishnah explains how Rabban Gamaliel (1st/2nd cent. C.E.), a figure of authority, elitism, prestige, and clout, would determine whether or not the witnesses really saw the new moon:

משנה ראש השנה ב:ח דְּמוּת צוּרוֹת לְבָנוֹת הָיוּ לוֹ לְרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בַּטַּבְלָא וּבַכֹּתֶל בַּעֲלִיָּתוֹ, שֶׁבָּהֶן מַרְאֶה אֶת הַהֶדְיוֹטוֹת וְאוֹמֵר, הֲכָזֶה רָאִיתָ אוֹ כָזֶה.
m. Rosh Hashanah 2:8 Rabban Gamaliel had a likeness of the shapes of the moon on a tablet and on the wall of his upper room, which he would show nonexpert [witnesses], saying: did you see it like this or like that?[8]

This description of Rabban Gamaliel in his attic, filled with images of the moon at different stages of the month, depicts him as an astronomical and calendrical authority, with a home office to match. When non-expert witnesses came to Rabban Gamaliel to report about the moon that they observed, he would bring them up to this room and ask them to identify on his charts which image most resembled the moon that they saw.

We then learn of an instance in which the witnesses report having seen the moon in an astronomically impossible position:

משנה ראש השנה ב:ח מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבָּאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְאָמְרוּ, רְאִינוּהוּ שַׁחֲרִית בַּמִּזְרָח וְעַרְבִית בַּמַּעֲרָב. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֶּן נוּרִי, עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר הֵם. כְּשֶׁבָּאוּ לְיַבְנֶה קִבְּלָן רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל.
m. Rosh Hashanah 2:8 It once happened that two [witnesses] came and said: “we saw it at dawn in the east and at evening in the west.” Said Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri: “they are false witnesses!” When they came to Yavneh, Rabban Gamaliel accepted them.

R. Yochanan ben Nuri realizes that the witnesses cannot possibly be describing the moon accurately, and that if their testimony is accepted then the new month will be declared at the wrong time, throwing off the timing of the festivals later in the month. Thus, he wishes to reject their testimony.

Surprisingly, despite the Mishnah’s presentation of Rabban Gamaliel as having an actual set of lunar models in his attic to ensure accuracy, he proves willing to accept their impossible testimony and celebrate the festivals on the wrong—from an astronomical perspective—days.

The story continues when two other witnesses appear, confirming what the previous witnesses saw, and then adding another impossible detail, that on the next night, they saw no moon:

משנה ראש השנה ב:ח וְעוֹד בָּאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְאָמְרוּ, רְאִינוּהוּ בִזְמַנּוֹ, וּבְלֵיל עִבּוּרוֹ לֹא נִרְאָה, וְקִבְּלָן רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל.
m. Rosh Hashanah 2:8 Another two came and said: “We saw it at its proper time, but on the night of the added day it did not appear,” and Rabban Gamaliel accepted them.

Here again, Rabban Gamaliel accepts impossible testimony, highlighting that he cares more about witnesses than about scientific accuracy, despite his knowledge of astronomy. This leads to two more of his colleagues pushing back against the decision:

אָמַר רַבִּי דוֹסָא בֶּן הַרְכִּינָס, עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר הֵן, הֵיאָךְ מְעִידִין עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁיָּלְדָה, וּלְמָחָר כְּרֵסָהּ בֵּין שִׁנֶּיהָ. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, רוֹאֶה אֲנִי אֶת דְּבָרֶיךָ.
Said Rabbi Dosa ben Harqinas: “They are false witnesses. How can they testify that a woman has given birth, when on the very next day her stomach is between her teeth?” Rabbi Joshua said to him: “I see your point.”

The criticism of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri or Rabbi Dosa bar Harqinas does not bother Rabban Gamaliel. But when Rabbi Joshua, an important halakhic decisor in his own right, accepts the counterargument and favors rejecting the testimony of the witnesses, Rabban Gamaliel acts:

משנה ראש השנה ב:ט שָׁלַח לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, גּוֹזְרַנִי עָלֶיךָ שֶׁתָּבֹא אֶצְלִי בְּמַקֶּלְךָ וּבִמְעוֹתֶיךָ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹנְךָ.
m. Rosh Hashanah 2:9 Rabban Gamaliel sent to [Rabbi Joshua]: “I decree upon you that you come to me with your staff and your purse on the Day of Atonement as determined by your calculation.”

Rabban Gamaliel’s demand is the converse of the Wicked Priest in Pesher Habakkuk. In this case, Rabbi Joshua must travel on the day that, according to his opinion, is Yom Kippur, and to bring along his staff and money purse—actions that would violate the sanctity of the day. Predictably, Rabbi Joshua is upset, since he does not wish to violate the holy day just because Rabban Gamaliel accepted false testimony, but what choice does he have?

Rabbi Joshua’s student, Rabbi Akiva, comes to the rescue:

הָלַךְ וּמְצָאוֹ רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא מֵצֵר, אָמַר לוֹ: יֶשׁ לִי לִלְמוֹד שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל עָשׂוּי.
Rabbi Akiva went and found [Rabbi Joshua] troubled. He said to him: “I can infer [from Scripture] that whatever Rabban Gamaliel has done is [validly] done.
שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כג:ד): 'אֵלֶּה מוֹעֲדֵי יְיָ מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר תִּקְרְאוּ אֹתָם'—בֵּין בִּזְמַנָּן בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בִזְמַנָּן, אֵין לִי מוֹעֲדוֹת אֶלָּא אֵלּוּ.
As it is said (Lev 23:): ‘These are the appointed times of the Lord, the sacred occasions, which you shall proclaim.’ Whether they are in their proper time or not in their proper time I have no other appointed times but these.”

Rabbi Akiva thus consoles Rabbi Joshua not by telling him that he’s right, nor by convincing him that the witnesses were somehow right, but by explaining that Rabban Gamaliel is right to stick with the date of the first of the month that he had declared, even if it is incorrect from an astronomical perspective.

Rabbi Joshua is swayed by his student, but wants confirmation from the more senior Rabbi Dosa ben Harqinas, the very sage whose objection Rabbi Joshua originally supported.[9] Rabbi Dosa too tries to convince Rabbi Joshua to back down, explaining that everyone needs to accept the rulings of the court, even if they disagree, because otherwise the world would be too chaotic:

בָּא לוֹ אֵצֶל רַבִּי דוֹסָא בֶּן הַרְכִּינָס, אָמַר לוֹ: "אִם בָּאִין אָנוּ לָדוּן אַחַר בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, צְרִיכִין אָנוּ לָדוּן אַחַר כָּל בֵּית דִּין וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁעָמַד מִימוֹת משֶׁה וְעַד עַכְשָׁיו,
[Rabbi Joshua] came to Rabbi Dosa ben Harqinas. He said to him: “If we come to take issue with the court of Rabban Gamaliel, we need to take issue with every single court that has served from the days of Moses until now.
שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כד:ט): 'וַיַּעַל משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל'. וְלָמָּה לֹא נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ שְׁמוֹתָן שֶׁל זְקֵנִים? אֶלָּא לְלַמֵּד, שֶׁכָּל שְׁלשָׁה וּשְׁלשָׁה שֶׁעָמְדוּ בֵית דִּין עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֲרֵי הוּא כְבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה."
As it is said (Exod 24:9): ‘Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel ascended.’ And why were the names of the elders not specified? To teach that every group of three [elders] who have served as a court of Israel are as the court of Moses.”[10]

Rabbi Dosa’s point is that if any court can be challenged then every court can be challenged. For the sake of communal harmony and the synchronization of time – in order to facilitate everyone celebrating together on the same day – Rabbi Joshua needs to accept Rabban Gamaliel’s declaration of the new moon, despite its astronomical inaccuracy. Thus, the narrative ends with Rabbi Joshua giving in:

נָטַל מַקְלוֹ וּמְעוֹתָיו בְּיָדוֹ, וְהָלַךְ לְיַבְנֶה אֵצֶל רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בְּיוֹם שֶׁחָל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹ.
[Rabbi Joshua] took his staff and his purse in his hand and went to Yavneh, to Rabban Gamaliel, on the Day of Atonement as determined by [Rabbi Joshua’s] calculation.

This leads to the desired peace, with Rabban Gamaliel showing Rabbi Joshua respect as a learned colleague, as long as the latter accepts his ultimate authority:

עָמַד רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וּנְשָׁקוֹ עַל רֹאשׁוֹ. אָמַר לוֹ: "בֹּא בְשָׁלוֹם, רַבִּי וְתַלְמִידִי, רַבִּי בְחָכְמָה, וְתַלְמִידִי שֶׁקִּבַּלְתָּ דְּבָרָי":
Rabban Gamaliel stood up and kissed him on his head and said to him: “Come in peace, my master and disciple! My master in wisdom and my disciple for having accepted my word.”

In contrast to this peaceful ending, Pesher Habakkuk lays out an inverse story, with traveling by the aggressor meant as confrontation. Qumran and Jerusalem were permanently separated by calendrical matters (among other ritual disagreements), while the Mishnah insists that calendrical disagreements ought not, under any circumstances, tear the rabbinic community apart, even if that entails suppressing challenging opinions or ignoring astronomical fact in order to maintain calendrical unity.

Competition: The Israel vs. Babylon Controversy of 921 C.E.

Over the course of the rabbinic period, the calendar became increasingly calculated, standardized, and fixed. For example, astronomical calculations of the lunar conjunction replaced empirical observations of the moon.[11] Nonetheless, competing calendars and calendrical disputes among Jews persisted for centuries. One such dispute transpired in the Geonic period, in 921 C.E., when, as Sacha Stern writes, controversy between the Jewish communities of Palestine and Babylonia regarding the dates of the Jewish festivals broke out. The matter came to a head in 922 C.E. when the communities celebrated Passover and the fall festivals on different days.[12]

The custom in the Land of Israel, in the 10th century, was for the local rabbinic leader to calculate the calendar in advance. He would then announce the dates of the calendar and festivals for the coming year at the Mount of Olives on the holiday of Sukkot. Most Jews, who did not know how to calculate the calendar themselves, relied on this public announcement, which was intended to be binding on Jewish communities throughout the diaspora as well.[13]

Sometime in the ninth century, however, the Babylonian authorities started announcing the calendar and its festivals on their own. This practice was largely unproblematic, since the Palestinians and Babylonians usually came to the same conclusions through different astronomical and mathematical calculations, and by then, the calendar was fairly standardized. But in 921 C.E., the Babylonians came to a different conclusion from their Palestinian counterparts.

As Stern explains, the controversy revolved around a technical detail: The Palestinian rabbis announced that the months of Marheshvan and Kislev would be defective, i.e., have only 29 days, such that the month of Nisan (and Passover) would begin on a Sunday, while the Babylonian rabbis had decided that Marheshvan and Kislev would be full, i.e., have 30 days, such that Nisan (and Passover) would begin two days later, on a Tuesday.

That year, the Babylonians announced their calendrical calculations earlier than the Palestinians—in the month of Elul (the month before Sukkot, in Tishri), rather than at the traditional time, during Sukkot—beating their colleagues to the punch. Thereafter, staying neutral wasn’t an option because each community needed to pick a date on which to celebrate Passover.

While the dispute wasn’t about large ideological disagreements or distrust, but about a technicality, the controversy took on a life of its own. Each side dug their heels into the ground, insisting that they were correct, and that the status of their authority—in halakhic and calendrical matters—hinged on whether their side’s calendar was accepted and followed.

The Book of the Calendar Controversy recounts this event from a Babylonian perspective.[14] One passage in this work, preserved in a series of Geniza documents, demonstrates the bitter tone and polemical stance the parties used to narrate the encounters between opposing sides:

וישלח את בנו בחודש השביעי לשנת חמשים ושלוש ויבוא ירושלם[15] ויעבר קול ביום הקהל לאמר: "מטעם אלהינו ביד נביאיו וחכמיו אות לברית מרחשון וכסלו חסירים והחודש הראשון ביום אחד." וידבר סרה על אלהינו ולא ענו העם אותו דבר.
And he [the rabbinic authority in the Land of Israel] sent his son in the seventh month of the fifty-third year, and he came to Jerusalem. And he made an announcement on the Day of Assembly, saying: ‘In the name of our God through his prophets and sages, a sign of the covenant: Marheshwan and Kislew will be defective, and the first month (Nisan, will begin) on Sunday.’ And he spoke perversion (Deut. 13:6) against our God, and the people did not answer him at all.
וכפרץ הדבר והנה כל ישראל בכל הארצות לא כן חשבו, כי שמו את החדשים שלמים. על כן ניסן בשלישי בא ובמשפט ובחוקה שתום כן כל בני ישראל אשר במזרח ואשר במערב ואשר בצפון ובאיי הים כי עד שש מאות ותשעים וחמשה חלקי שעה אחרונה בלילה הרביעי יהיו חסרים ובשנה ההיא תשע מאות ושלשים ושנים הנה כתובה בחקת המועדים ותבונותיהם ע[ל] ד[רך] אשר הורישונו אבותינו בפינו מאז.
But as the word spread, behold, all Israel in all the lands did not think this way, for they made the months full, and thus Nisan would fall on Tuesday. And in accordance with the law and the statute, the whole of Israel declared them so, in the east, west, north, and the islands of the sea; for up to six hundred and ninety-five parts of the last hour of the night of Wednesday, they are defective, and beyond that point they are full; and in this year, it was nine hundred and thirty-two. Behold, this is written in the law of festivals according to their computation, in the way that our fathers passed it down to us in our mouths from days of old.
ויהי כאשר שמע נשיאינו וראשי הישיבות והאלופים וכל הברורים וכל מבין עם תלמיד היושבים בבבל את הרעה הזאת אשר עשה ויחרדו חרדה גדולה ויחר להם כי לא נהיתה כן ולא נראתה מיום עלות בני ישראל מארץ מצרים למדי היותם באדמת הקדש ואחרי פוצם לא נשתנו זמניהם.
And it so happened that when our exilarch, the head of the academies, the leaders (alufim), all the selectmen and all the learned and disciples who dwell in Babylonia heard of this evil that he had done, they trembled exceedingly and were angry, for this had never happened or been seen from the day when the Israelites came up from Egypt to when they were in the Holy Land and after their dispersion, their calendar had not changed.[16]

The dispute of 921 C.E. provides us with yet another model of calendrical conflict and resolution, for the parties in this dispute did not definitively break with one another, nor did they decide to completely set aside their differences in order to remain a unified whole. Instead, each stuck to their guns in the few years in which their calendrical calculations conflicted with one another. But they didn’t let this dispute permanently bleed into other parts of their communities’ relations in the longer term; when the challenging years passed, their calendars aligned once more and they put the conflict behind them.

As Stern explains, “by the end of 923, both calendars reverted to the same dates” and though it was “a major historical event, arguably the most important known event of Jewish history in the tenth century,” it was literally forgotten until the 19th century, when documents about the controversy resurfaced in the Cairo Geniza.

Accommodation: Karaites vs. Rabbinites

The calendar controversy of 922 was an internal dispute within the Rabbanite community and lasted a short time. The Rabbanite and Karaite communities, however, found themselves at calendrical odds with one another over a longer period and on two different issues: intercalating the year, i.e., making it a leap year by adding a month, and determining when to begin new months.[17] As Judith Olszowy-Schlanger and Marina Rustow explain, Karaites preferred calendrical empiricism while Rabbanites favored astronomical calculations and mathematical predictions.[18] This discrepancy posed practical problems when, during years when the barley harvest was delayed—one of the methods the Karaites used to determine the leap year—Passover was celebrated a month later by Karaites than Rabbanites, for Karaites would declare an intercalary month.

The development of the Karaite calendar and of Rabbanite-Karaite calendrical disputes occurred gradually over the ninth and tenth centuries and did not usually tear these communities apart: they served more as a way of distinguishing between them than as a mechanism for pitting them against one another. They were a practical problem to be solved rather than an insurmountable difference.

Still, polemical sources highlight the role of calendrical disputes in separating between the two communities. For example, in the tenth century (937­–938 C.E.), the Karaite exegete Jacob Qirqisani, in a work titled Account of the Jewish Sects and Christianity, posed a question to one of Saadya’s students, Jacob al-Shami: Why do Rabbanites not marry Karaites but do marry Isawiyya (members of a community that followed a Jewish figure named Abu Isa al-Isfahani, who incorporated Christian and Muslim doctrines into his movement)? Jacob al-Shami answers: “Because they do not differ from us in the observance of holidays.”[19]

Jacob al-Shami’s answer is largely practical rather than ideological: Isawiyya use the same calendar as the Rabbanites, thus permitting members of the two communities to marry one another, while the Karaites use a different calendar, making it more difficult to live together in single family units.[20] Qirqisani notes that “This answer of his [Jacob al-Shami] indicates that, according to them [the Rabbanites] manifestation of (complete) unbelief is more pardonable than display of (petty) differences in the observance of holidays which they themselves invented.”[21]

Some members of the Karaite and Rabbanite communities overcame these calendar-based marital issues far more easily than the polemical literature written by their leaders suggests. Marriage documents attest to Karaite-Rabbanite unions, and how such couples navigated calendrical differences.[22]

Some ketubot (marriage documents) include stipulations for how couples would manage ritual and practical differences between them. For example, in a ketubah dated to 1117 C.E., Rayyisa, a Karaite woman, and Yehya ben Abraham, a Rabbanite man, agree to respect each other’s calendrical and festival practices:

והתנתה רייסה זאת על נפשה לאישה זה שלא תחלל עליו מועדי אחינו הרבנים כל ימי היותה עמו ושתהיה נשמרת במאכלו ובמשקיו ושלא תקח ממנו שכר הדירה אשר הם עתה שוכנים בה
And this Rayyisa accepted in favor of her aforementioned husband not to profane against him the festivals of our brethren the Rabbanites all the time she is with him, to take care of his food and drink and not to take from him the rent of the house in which they currently live in.
והתנו שניהם על נפשם שיהיו בלב שלם ונפש חפצה ודרך ישרה וינהגו על מנהג בני מקרא השומרים את המועדים המקודשים על ראיית הירח ומציאת אביב בארץ ישראל ושלא יצאו אל משפטי הגוים להחליף משפטי התורה
They both take it upon themselves to be together with full resolve, willingness and honesty, and to behave according to the custom of the Qaraites who observe the holy festivals according to the sighting of the moon and the finding of the barley crop in the land of Israel, and not to appeal to gentile courts to change the laws of the Torah.[23]

This husband and wife agree, in other words, to live with and even respect their differences, and to transform the communal conflict into some form of mutual understanding, pluralism, and collaboration, such that the marriage, despite both members of the couple navigating their own communities’ festival days and practices, could function well.

Such marriage documents demonstrate how couples from communities characterized by calendrical conflict were nonetheless able to find ways beyond that conflict, forming bonds as intimate as marriage.

Ways of Handling Religious Conflict

We see from these examples that calendrical conflicts did not always split communities or bring about polemical disputes. Sometimes they were solved by acquiescence, or accommodation, or each group doing their own thing. Religious conflicts—calendrical and otherwise—can tear individuals and communities apart, but sometimes they can also present them with creative and idiosyncratic opportunities to collaborate in ways they had not previously imagined possible.

Published

January 18, 2024

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Last Updated

April 1, 2024

Footnotes

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Dr. Sarit Kattan Gribetz is Associate Professor of Theology in the Theology Department at Fordham University and the co-director of Fordham's Center for Jewish Studies. Her first book, Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism, received a National Jewish Book Award in Scholarship and a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies. Her next book, A Queen in Jerusalem: Helena of Adiabene through the Ages, is under contract with Princeton University Press.