Friday, 25 June 2010

The Fascinating History of Ananburg

Praiseworthy is the man who has not sat in the community of scoffers. {Psalms1:1}

This is a brief history of a small community that has come to our attention via recent archaeological investigations and documental analysis. The name of this community is Ananburg. It was situated in the mountains in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire with a thriving Jewish community in a small village until the Holocaust.

Circa 1800 CE, the rabbi of Ananburg was Rabbi Avraham. He was a very deep-thinking critical scholar. He noticed the major trends and revolutions in Judaism during the course of the 18th century. Grouped them into 3 major divisions:

  1. Mithgnagdim led by the GRA
  2. Hassidim led by Ba’al Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezerich
  3. Haskallah – led by several including M. Mendelsohnn etc.

The first two groups tended to modify traditional practice based upon Kabbalah, while the last by means of reason during the 18th Century Age of Reason. What caused these groups to deviate from Tradition? What was their common denominator? Why was Judaism in the process of a major revisionist movement? He concluded after years of study that the Acharonim were flawed.

He carefully outlined and published many cases of faulty decisions, non-sequitors, conflations, misunderstanding of texts, not to mention out and out pilpulistic digressions that had been endemic to most Rabbinic Acharonim. He felt that it was a reaction to these kinds of deviations from the Torah-True Judaism that had led to the founding of the three groups above.

He then issued a final ruling shortly before his death:

No one is to pay any attention of the decisions of the Acharonim due to their logic flaws.

While this decision was seen as a bit radical, his careful publication of papers supporting this thesis over the years had in fact supported this conclusion.

Rabbi Avraham on his deathbed designated his successor – i.e. his own son Rabbi Baruch. Rabbi Baruch continued his father’s work on discrediting Acharonim. Then, he noticed that MANY Rishonim were ALSO guilty of the same kinds of errors, mis-reads, pilpulistic alterations etc. He found a straighter read of Torah Judaism in the Gaonic literature. He amended his fathers ruling as follows:

No one is to pay any attention of the decision of the Acharonim or Rishonim due to their logical flaws.

Rabbi Baruch had a son Rabbi Gershon. He found many strange statements by Gaonim. He felt that Halachot Gedolot was off the mark from the Talmud in many cases. He therefore amended his father and grandfather’s rules to now read:

No one is to pay any attention of the decisions of the Acharonim or Rishonim or the Gaonim due to their logical flaws.

The next generation produced Rabbi David. He noticed that the Amoraim were frequently not philologically true to the Mishnah nor to the Braiitot. He revised the rule to read:

No one is to pay any attention of the decisions of the Acharonim or Rishonim or the Gaonim, or Amoraim due to their logical flaws.

His son Rabbi Hillel took over the 5th generation. He noticed that the rules against Milk and Meat were WAY out of line with the simple read of Scriptures. He therefore concluded that many Tannin had flawed view of the TRUE will of God. He also found mounds of literature that supported the ideas of Karaim and Tzadokkim – and in fact this had been said for over 2000 years! He took the next step and ruled:

No one is to pay any attention of the decisions of the Acharonim or Rishonim or the Gaonim, or Amoraim or Tannin due to their logical flaws.

Rabbi Hillel had a willing audience because the populace had been conditioned to distrust Rabbinic thought fro four previous generations of criticism and rejection. Each had undermined a preceding epoch. He found a willing movement to hitch up with the small community of Kara’im {Karaites} and converted Ananburg to that sect.

With the advent of the Holocaust, this community was wiped out along with most of its memory. However, the documents outlining its history have remained with us to this day.

So ends the fascinating history of Ananburg and its evolution to ever more fundamentalist reads of Jewish texts and the trends that cause it to give up on Rabbinism and to advocate Karaism.

Previously Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2007

1 comment:

Rabbi Richard Wolpoe said...

A professor of mine warned us, while you ant to be critical beware of becoming hyper-critical.

I re-phrase this thusly: It is productive to have healthy skepticism, it is counter- productive to be cynical.

This article indicates the slippery of slope in fault-finding.