The 500 Year Old Jewish Book That Formed Jewish Practice

by Leah Rosenberg

Jewish practice is the way it is because of a Jewish book of laws known as the Shulchan Aruch. Take a look at how it was formed.

What Shaped Jewish Practice Today

Of course, all of Jewish history has played a role in how Jewish law has become what it is. Passed down directly from G-d to Moses, the written and oral law have been taught generation after generation. It is extremely important to listen to the sages and the rabbis to know how to properly institute Jewish practice as time goes on. There are different traditions depending on where different Jewish people lived their lives throughout the centuries. The two main groups are Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. The Shulchan Aruch codified Jewish law hundreds of years ago, and it is still the basis for how Jews practice their Judaism today – and it is all based on the passing down of the Torah all the way back to Mount Sinai.

Times were changing and the rabbis of the time needed to figure out a way to ensure that Jews would be keeping their Jewish laws and traditions. What is beautiful about the Shulchan Aruch is that it contains Rav Moses Isserles’ (Rama) Ashkenazi rulings inside it, together alongside the Sephardic law. By the Rama deciding to add to the Shulchan Aruch instead of publishing his own work, it unified Jews instead of dividing them. Rav Isserles helped continue the Ashkenazi tradition without creating division amongst Jews.

Jewish history and law is truly fascinating. There is so much more to learn and understand, but this video gives a tiny, tiny glimpse at a small part of Jewish history.


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