Monday, February 11, 2008

On the fence

Came across this book and would like to buy it, but the price is a bit steep.

I read a review of it and it is pretty fascinating - basically demolishing many of the preconceived notions about Jewish life in Poland in the 17th and 18th century.

The Catholic Church, far from being dominant in Poland is actually feeling threatened by both religious heretics (Protestants, Arians) and by the wealthy landed gentry who refuse to buckle to Church authority on worldly matters. In many cases, these wealthy nobles hired Jews to run their estates, even to the extent of having authority to corporally punish the peasants. It is customary to hear of Jews being forced to work on Shabbat, but here we see cases of Christian servants being made to work on Sunday and holidays. We see a wealthy Jewish widow, a landowner, taking her Polish neighbor to court.

Anyway, seems like an interesting book...

Here is an excerpt

OTOH, my The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature is on its way..


Anonymous finch said...

I'm 2/3 through The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature and finding it very interesting.

Schwartz on historiography of Rabbinic leadership, Hezser comparing Roman and Jewish legal writing, and Elman discussing Persian influences on the Babylonian Jewish community were particularly memorable.

February 11, 2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger Lilah said...

I just found your blog! It is very interesting. Jewish culture fascinates me.

February 11, 2008 12:36 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


thanks for the appetizer! I am looking forward to the book.

lilah (and finch) - welcome to my blog.

February 11, 2008 12:45 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

I'm not entirely sure why it should surprise anyone that there were wealthy and powerful Jews in Poland. We were originally invited into the country for the sake of improving the economy. There's no reason to think that there were no Jews who were respected and influential...

February 12, 2008 7:07 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


jewish history is often propped up by litanies of our suffering at the hands of others. The typical portrayal of Jews is of a wretched community with a wealthy court jew to protect them. This seems to be not the case in Poland during the period this book describes.

February 12, 2008 7:36 AM  

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