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Additional info for Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art)
But the rabbis' mandate was a public one, designed to secure a strong popular base, with a message that was universally accessible and universally binding. To this end, rabbinic activity was divided between perfecting a system of legal interpretation, the Halacha, and developing a mythology of the mundane, the Aggadah. Neither corpus was particularly fixated on catastrophe. The halachic mind, or any legal mind for that matter, harmonizes texts with realities in order to yield a normative decision, and ultimately in the geonic period, a code of behavior.
In the scrolls they had before them, Isaiah appeared last, not first as he does in the canonical order that has come down to us, and such a violation of chronology seemed perfectly justified in order to end the major prophets on a resounding message of hope. A far more obvious way of turning sacred history to liturgical use was by the public reading of Scripture. This practice goes back at least to the time of Ezra (ca. E. 19 The importance of the ritualized reading of Scripture can hardly be overstated.
Berakhot 2:4), thus linking the anniversary of the Great Destruction to the new beginning. 2009 10:24:12] page_39 < previous page page_39 next page > Page 39 eastern Europe heightened the dialectical tension by adding new practices. They turned the rabbinic custom of exempting schoolchildren from classes on the ninth of Av, originally intended as a form of spiritual denial (B. Ta'anith 30a), into a regular free-for-all: heder (school) children ran around all day throwing burrs at the adults. And adult Jews in the Galician city of Brod, in the hope of imminent redemption, tore up their printed kinot at the end of the serviceeach year.