Reflections on Halakha and Piety

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Amazingly, Jews have flourished for nearly

two thousand years in many different lands without having a

central authoritative institution of halakha. In spite of differences of custom

and emphasis which have arisen among different groups of

Jews, the essential unity of halakha was preserved. To this

day, every Jew who adheres to halakha shares in a truly

remarkable historic, religious, sociological, spiritual and national



Some individuals have called for

the establishment of a new Sanhedrin in our times. They

would like a revival of a central halakhic authority for the

Jewish people. The Sanhedrin would not only provide unity

in halakha, but would re-institute the original methodology

of the oral law--interpreting the Torah itself, applying the

law to life with the freedom to overrule precedents and previous



One of those calling for a Sanhedrin was the Sephardic

Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi BenzionUziel (1880-1953). In a

speech delivered on 12 Kislev 5697, he called for an authoritative

rabbinic body along the lines of the Great Court of

Jerusalem.[1]  He viewed this effort as a continuation of the

work of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zaccai, who had been instrumental

in establishing a quasi-Sanhedrin in Yavneh following the

destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.


Rabbi Uziel believed it was the responsibility of the

rabbinate to work to achieve this goal. Rabbis are delegated

the responsibility of establishing mishpat, justice. This refers

not only to cases between contending individuals, but also to

public issues, questions of taxation and communal needs. By

working for a Sanhedrin, the rabbis will be working for a

unifying force in Jewish life. Rabbi Uziel argued that one who

simply knew how to rule on what is permitted and what is

forbidden ,or on who is guilty and who is innocent is not in the category of being a posek, a decisor

of halakha. This person is known as a talmid or talmid hakham,

 a student or a wise student. To be a posek, however,

involves having the power of the Great Court. Only the Sanhedrin

can serve as a real posek. "The responsibility of the

Sanhedrin was to clarify and distinguish between true interpretations

(which are true to the spirit of the Torah) and

casuistic interpretations (which are erroneous). "[2]


Rabbi Uziel writes that the posek draws conclusions

from the Torah and the words of the prophets, as well as from

the traditional oral law. "The posek in Israel is not bound by

precedents of the posek who precedes him. If he was,

this would lead to great damage, in that an accidental error

would be fixed as a permanent halakha even though it was

erroneous in its foundation. In order to avoid this harmful

eventuality, the authority of the Great Court was restricted

only to the time in which it sits on the chair of judgment. But

the decisions of the Great Court are not established as law and

do not obligate the judges who will come after them to judge

and to teach like them. "[3]


Rabbi Uziel was deeply impressed by the work of Moses

Maimonides and believed that he deserved the title posek.

Maimonides worked to make the laws of the Torah known to

the general public. In his comprehensive code of Jewish law,

Maimonides recorded the halakha anonymously, to signify

that it represents a consensus, not just the opinion of individuals.

He not only gathered his material from all rabbinic

literature, but he also derived benefit from the teachings of

non-Jewish thinkers. "In this matter, by the way, Maimonides

has informed us that in halakhic decisions one must

comprehend all things on the basis of their content and truth,

and not on the authority of their authors alone. Maimonides

taught a great principle: Accept the truth from those who

have stated it. "[4]


In order to restore a central authority for halakha, Rabbi

Uziel urged: "Let us arise and establish the Great Court in

Jerusalem not in order to judge cases of fines, or capital

cases and not in order to permit the firstborn because of its

blemish. Rather, let us do so in order to solve the questions of

life which confront us each day in our settlements and in our

world, and in order to create a beginning for our destined

redemption: 'And I will return your judges as in the beginning

and your advisers as formerly; for out of Zion will the

Torah proceed and the word of God ·from Jerusalem.' ''[5]


Until a Great Court is re-established in Jerusalem, the

halakha is taught by leading rabbinical sages who draw on

the vast rabbinic literature which has developed over the past

several thousand years. There are variations of opinion on

details of halakha; different sages rule differently: yet, the

halakhic process continues to provide the framework for

religious Jewish life. In order for a sage to be recognized as

authoritative, he must not only have great erudition; he must

not only be personally observant of halakha; he must also be

fully faithful to the idea that halakha is the expression of the

will of God to the Jewish people. Halakha, therefore, must

be taken seriously on its own terms.


A Sephardic Approach To Halakhah[6]


Without a Great Court in Jerusalem, it was only natural

that different approaches to halakha developed among various

Jewish communities during the past nearly two thousand

years. Customs and practices varied from place to place and

from time to time. Attitudes towards halakhic study also

differed. Certainly, the basic assumptions of the divinity of

the Torah and the authority of halakha were accepted: but

differences in style definitely did exist among religious Jewish

communities throughout the ages.


Two major streams of Jewish tradition are the Ashkenazic

and the Sepahardic. Ashkenazim (Ashkenaz means Germany

in Hebrew) primarily lived in Europe. In the Middle

Ages they were concentrated in France, Germany and Italy;

gradually, the centers of Ashkenazic Jewry shifted to Poland,

Russia and Eastern Europe in general. The common feature of

these communities is that they existed in Christian countries.

They were included within the orbit of Western civilization.

The Westernization of these communities was intensified

during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when

European Jews were gaining rights of citizenship in the countries

in which they lived. The doors of Western civilization

opened to them as never before. Jews studied in European

universities; and they advanced in professional, cultural and political

life. Their struggles for civil rights were painful and not fully

successful. Anti-Jewish attitudes and actual violence against

Jews ultimately led many Ashkenazim to migrate to Israel,

the United States and other safe havens. The Nazi holocaust

during World War II decimated European Jewry, most of

which was of Ashkenazic background. Yet, Ashkenazic

Jewry today represents a large majority of world Jewry.


Ashkenazic numerical dominance has been matched by

its cultural hegemony as well. Certainly, for the past three

centuries and more, Ashkenazic rabbis have dominated halakha;

Ashkenazic thinkers have dominated Jewish philosophy;

Ashkenazic writers and artists have dominated Jewish

cultural life.


The Sephardic Jews (Sepharad refers to Spain in Hebrew)

enjoyed their period of dominance during the centuries

prior to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. The contributions

of Sephardim to all areas of Jewish scholarship and

thought as well as to science, medicine, and mathematics

were impressive, unequalled in the Jewish world. Even during

the century following the expulsion, Sephardic Jewry

maintained a dynamic spiritual and cultural life which influenced

world Jewry.


The considerable majority of Sephardim who left the

Iberian Peninsula settled in Muslim countries. Although Sephardim

also went to Italy, Holland. France and other Western

European locations, the much greater number flourished

in non-Western environments. The Ottoman Empire provided

haven for Sephardic refugees. Sephardic communities

developed throughout Turkey, the Balkan countries, the

Middle East and North Africa. Their experience was different

in many ways from that of the Ashkenazim of Europe. Indeed,

the two groups of Jews--those of Christian Europe and those

of the Muslim domains--lived in relative isolation from one another.


Although it is difficult to generalize about differences in

the realm of halakha, it may be argued that there were

different trends of halakhic thinking among the two groups,

just as there were differences in world views in general. It is

of interest to explore the Sephardic approach to halakha

since it may serve as an anodyne to the prevailing Ashkenazic

approach. Since Sephardim lived among non-Western

people, their perceptions and attitudes about Judaism may

serve as a counter-balance to the preponderant Westernization

of Judaism.


A people's attitudes are often conveyed through their

words and actions when they are not self-conscious about

being observed. They are implied in proverbs and songs, in

the way people dress, in their gestures, in the way they

express themselves. In order to comprehend a Sephardic

approach to halakha, one must attempt to grasp the undocumented,

non-explicit elements of Sephardic culture--elements

which are known from sharing a people's mentality.


One element which needs to be considered is joie de

vivre. While Sephardim living in Muslim lands over the past

centuries were generally quite observant of halakha,

their observance did not lead them to become somber or

overly serious. Pious Sephardim sang Judeo-Spanish love

ballads and drinking songs at family celebrations in a natural

way, without self-consciousness. Singing in a lighthearted

spirit, even at public gatherings, did not strike them as being

irreverent. Rather, the pleasures and aesthetics of this world

were viewed in a positive light.


Sephardic holiday celebrations and life cycle observances,

for example, were characterized by the preparation of

elaborate delicacies to eat, the singing of songs, and a general

spirit of gaiety and hospitality. Sephardim appreciated colorful

fabrics, fine embroidery, excellent craftsmanship in metals.

On every happy occasion there was bound to be the

fragrance of rose water, herbs, fresh fruits. All of these accoutrements--

song, food, fragrances, decorative materials--gave

the specific religious observance its distinctive quality.

These things were not peripheral to halakha, but gave

halakha its proper context: a context of love, happiness.



This spirit carried itself even to the serious season of the

High Holy Days, when self-scrutiny and repentance were

expected. The travel account of Rabbi Simhah ben Joshua of

Zalozhtsy (1711-1768) sheds interesting light on this fact.[7]

He travelled to the Holy Land with a group of ascetic Hassidim

in1764, and the majority of his Jewish co-passengers

on the ship were Sephardim. The rabbi noted that "the Sephardim

awoke before daybreak to say penitential prayers in

a congregation as is their custom in the month of Elul." He

then added: "During the day they eat and rejoice and are

happy at heart." For Rabbi Simhah, this behavior may have seemed

paradoxical: but the Sephardim themselves did not even

realize that their behavior was in any way noteworthy. Their

unstated assumption was that eating, rejoicing and being

happy of heart were not in conflict with piety, even in the

serious season of penitential prayers.


Alan Watts has pointed out that in Western thought the

individual is "split." He is both himself and an observer of

himself. Western culture teaches us to analyze ourselves, to

see ourselves as though we are somehow outside of ourselves.

We are both subjects and objects. Carried to an extreme,

this way of viewing ourselves can be confusing and guilt inducing. It is as though we live our lives while seeing ourselves in a mirror. We are apt to become overly self-conscious, self-critical, and self-centered. Eastern culture, on the other hand, tends to be more holistic, less self-analytic.

People are taught to live naturally and easily, without objectifying

themselves overly much.


Watts has written: "The most spiritual people are the

most human. They are natural and easy in manner: they give

themselves no airs; they interest themselves in ordinary

every day matters and are not forever talking and thinking

about religion. For them there is no difference between spirituality

and usual life , and to their awakened insight the lives

of the most humdrum and earth-bound people are as much in

harmony with the infinite as their own."[8]


The Sephardim tended to have the Eastern, rather than

the Western, attitude on life. The halakha was observed

naturally and easily, as a vital part of life. Andre Chouraqui,

in his study of North African Jewry, has noted that the Jews of

the Maghreb were quite observant of halakha, yet  "the

Judaism of the most conservative of the Maghreb's Jews was

marked by a flexibility, a hospitality, a tolerance . .. " The

Jews of North Africa had a "touching generosity of spirit and

a profound respect for meditation."[9] These comments are

equally applicable to Sephardim throughout the Mediterranean



These qualities were placed into halakhic terms by Rabbi

Hayyim Yosef David Azulai ( 1724-1806), one of the leading

Rabbinic figures of his time. He wrote that in matters of

halakha, Sephardic sages clung to the quality of hesed,

kindness, and tended to be lenient. Ashkenazim manifested

the quality of gevurah, heroism, and therefore tended to be

strict. Rabbi Azulai's statement--regardless of its objective truth--is

a profound indication of his own self-image. He and nu-

merous other Sephardic rabbis saw themselves as agents of

hesed. This self-image could not but influence the manner in

which they dealt with questions of halakha.  Hesed was not

merely a pleasant idea but a working principle.


 H. J. Zimmels, in his book Ashkenazim and Sephardim,

indicates that as a general rule Sephardim were more

lenient than Ashkenazim in their halakhic rulings.[10] He

suggests that the Ashkenazic inclination to stringency was

largely the result of centuries of persecution suffered by

German Jewry. It also stemmed from the doctrines of the

German Hassidim of the 12th and 13th centuries, who emphasized

strictness in religious observance. Groups of Ashkenazic

Jews imposed upon themselves greater stringencies

than the law demanded and, in time, many of these observances

became normative.


Rabbi Benzion Uziel offered an insight into the differences

between Sephardic and Ashkenazic sages. Sephardic

rabbis felt powerful enough in their opinion and authority to

annul customs which were not based on halakhic foundations.

In contrast, Ashkenazic rabbis tended to strengthen

customs and sought support for them even if they seemed

strange or without halakhic basis. The rabbis of France and

Germany had a negative opinion of the rabbis of Spain, feeling

that the Sephardic sages were too independent and irreverent

to tradition. On the other hand, the Sephardim felt

that their method was correct and were quite proud of promoting



Sephardic tradition stressed the idea that the halakha is

a practical guide to behavior. It is not a metaphysical system

set aside for an intellectual elite. On the contrary, each person

was entitled and obligated to understand what the halakha

requires. It is not surprising, therefore, that the classic codes

of Jewish law were produced in Sephardic communities.

Sephardic scholars studied texts with the goal of applying

them directly to actual situations: therefore, they had to

remain sensitive to the needs of people. This very sensitivity

helped maintain the quality of hesed in halakha.


When halakha is studied as an intellectual system divorced

from actual life situations, it may follow the dictates

of logic and intricate reasoning rather than the dictates of

human kindness. A legal conclusion might be reached in the

abstract and then be applied to human conditions as a derrick

operation from above. This approach is contrary to the overall

spirit of Sephardic halakhic thought.


Although it is incumbent upon each Jew to study Torah

and halakha, difficult questions and disputes cannot always

be solved by the individuals involved. Thus, over the past

centuries, Sephardic communities normally appointed a

chief rabbi, often referred to as haham, sage. He had the

final word in matters of halakha for his community. The

institution of haham  provided the Jews with a recognized

authority who could resolve their questions. When the Sephardim

of the Island of Rhodes wanted to appoint a chief

rabbi in the early 17th century, for example, they agreed that no one had

the right to contest the haham's rulings. "All which he will

decide will be correct and acceptable as the law which was

determined by the Court of Rabban Gamliel. . .. All which he

will decide ... will be correct and acceptable as a law of

God's Torah as it was given at Sinai."[12]


The Jews of Rhodes linked their haham's authority to

that of the powerful court of Rabban Gamliel and to the Torah

itself. Other Sephardic communities did likewise. This was a

way of restoring, at least on a communal level, the original

function of the Great Court in Jerusalem which, according to

Maimonides, was the essential institution of the halakha.


Rabbi Joseph Taitasak (16th century, Salonika) expressed

this idea clearly: "Know that each and every community has

authority over its members, for every community may legislate

in its city just as the Great Court could legislate for all



Law and Life


Since halakha is an all-encompassing guide to life

that describes what God wants us to do, it is essential that

we understand its role in our lives. Observing the mitzvoth is a

Jew's way of connecting with the eternal reality of

God. To treat halakha as a mechanical system of laws is to

miss its meaning and significance. Halakha provides the

framework for spiritual awareness, religious insight, and

even spontaneity.


At the root of halakha is the awareness that God is

overwhelmingly great and that human beings are overwhelmingly

limited. Humility is the hallmark of the truly

religious person. One must be receptive to the spirit of God

which flows through the halakha and  to the religious experience

that it generates.


A true sage must be humble; arrogance is a sign of not

understanding the real lesson of halakha. Solomon Schechter.

in his beautiful essay about the mystics of Safed of the

16th century, quotes Shlomel of Moravia who described the

scholars, saints and men of good deeds of Safed, indicating

that many of them were worthy of receiving the Divine Spirit.

"None among them is ashamed to go to the well and draw

water and carry home the pitcher on his shoulders, or go to

the market to buy bread, oil and vegetables. All the work in

the house is done by themselves.”[14] These sages followed the

model of Talmudic rabbis who also did not find it beneath

their dignity to work at menial tasks. Egotism and a sense of

inflated self-importance are contrary to the spirit of Jewish



It is interesting to note how this ideal has been somewhat

diminished among Western Jews. Isidore Epstein, in his

study of the responsa of Rabbi Simon Duran, displays a

Western bias when he writes that "the multifarious functions

of the rabbis [of North Africa] also testify to the low standards

of Jewish culture of North African Jewry. In adverting to

Jewish past and present day history, we cannot fail to notice

that wherever there is a strong, virile and advanced Jewish

life, there is the tendency to keep the rabbinical office distinct

from other callings: and the combination of rabbinical

charges with other functions is a sign of decadence and of

lack of appreciation of learning as such. North Africa in our

period exhibited that characteristic system of cultural decline.

There the rabbi was not ‘rabbi’ in the understood

sense of the word, but combined with that office the functions

of school teacher, slaughterer, and reader to the consequent

lowering in his prestige and rabbinical authoritv."[15]


Epstein's assumption that it is a sign of decadence when

rabbis assume responsibilities other than purely academic is

quite absurd. The contrary seems much truer. The Talmudic

sages assumed other responsibilities as did the outstanding

sages of the Sephardic world: and they did not feel demeaned

thereby. It is precisely when rabbis relegate to themselves

purely academic functions and when they consider it undignified

to meet other communal needs that egotism and

pettiness arise. It is actually to the credit of North African

Jewry and many other Sephardic communities as well, that

rabbis often served in practical capacities, participating more

fully in the life of their communities. This was not at all a

shame for them or a reflection of cultural decadence for the



Humility is a virtue which halakha fosters for sages and

laymen alike. Rabbi David Ibn Zimra (16th century) offered

an explanation of a rabbinic dictum that one is not supposed

to argue with the greatest of the judges who has made a ruling

on a legal question. Yet, what if that judge is wrong? Shouldn't the

lesser judges have the right and responsibility to dissent?

Rabbi David Ibn Zimra explains that the dictum was not

intended as a warning for the lesser judges but rather for the

greatest judge. The judge occupying the highest position

should not give his decision first because others will be afraid

to argue with him. His decision will intimidate the others.

Therefore, true justice demands that the greater judges withhold

their opinions until the lesser ones have had their say. In

this way, all opinions can be evaluated fairly and without intimidation

or arrogance.[16]


In a similar spirit, Rabbi Hayyim Yosef David Azulai

comments on a passage in the Ethics of the Fathers which

teaches that each person should prepare himself to study Torah

since it does not come to him as an inheritance. Rabbi Azulai

notes that each sage received his specific portion from Sinai

and therefore even a great sage needs to learn from others. No

scholar is self-sufficient, no sage inherits all wisdom. It is

necessary for everyone to be humble, to be open to the opinions

of others, to try to learn from everyone.[17]




Many wonderful and horrible things have been done in

the name of religion. George Bernard Shaw once wrote: "Beware

of a man whose God is in Heaven.''  It is difficult, perhaps

impossible, to have reasonable communication with

someone who feels that he knows Truth, that only he and

those who share his beliefs are absolutely right.


There have been great prophets, mystics and pietists

who have lived their lives in relationship with God. There

have also been inquisitors, murderers and arrogant criminals

who have thought that they acted according to the will of

God. If religion attracts the most sensitive and thoughtful

people, it also draws those who wish to seem important and

holy in the eyes of others, who use the cloak of religion to

hide their own egocentric purposes.


Since the Jewish religious tradition is deeply tied to

halakha, it is not surprising that there have been people who

have found their self-importance in legalism. There is a fine

line between pious devotion and misguided asceticism.

Rabbi Hayyim Yosef David Azulai has taught that one should

not follow unnecessary stringencies in law. Even in private,

one should not be overly stringent, unless he is motivated by

pure and humble piety.[18] Those who do accept additional

obligations upon themselves should not consider themselves

superior to others who do not accept such stringencies. A

truly pious person feels no need to compare his piety to that

of others; his life is lived in relationship to God; he lives with

humility and equanimity.


Jewish history has witnessed the honest spirituality of

innumerable pious men and women who have sincerely

served God through their observance of halakha. It has also

witnessed pietistic movements, where groups of people observed

Jewish law with intensity and introduced pious customs

into Jewish religious life. Such movements include the

German Hassidim of the 13th century; the Sephardic mystical

schools of the 16th century; the Hassidic movement of

the 18th century; the Musar movement of the 19th century.

These and other religious movements called on Jews to deepen

their religious experience by intensifying their observance

of halakha and by adopting additional pious practices.


Rabbi Moshe Cordovero of 16th century Safed, for example,

composed a list of rules for Jews to observe. The

following are some of his recommendations.[19]

One should not turn his heart from meditating on Torah

and holiness, so that his heart will constantly be a sanctuary

for the Divine Presence. He should never allow himself to

become angry. One should always be concerned about the

needs of his fellow beings and should behave kindly to them.

One should behave nicely, even with those who transgress

the laws of the Torah. One should not drink wine except on Shabbat and holy

days. One should pray with concentration. One should not

speak badly about any person or any other living creation of

God. One should never speak falsehood or even imply falsehood.

One should meet with a friend each Friday evening to

review what has occurred during the course of the past week.

One should recite the afternoon prayer with a prayer

shawl and tefillin. One should chant the Grace after Meals

aloud. Each night, one should sit on the ground and lament the

destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and should also cry

over his own sins which lengthen the time before our ultimate


A person should avoid being part of four groups which

do not receive the Divine Presence: hypocrites, liars, idlers

and those who speak evil about others. One should give

charity each day in order to atone for his sins. One should pay

his pledges immediately and not postpone them. One should

confess his sins prior to eating and prior to going to sleep. A

person should fast as often as his health allows.


These rules, and other similar ones, stem from the overwhelming

desire of religiously sensitive people to serve God

in fullness. The more they can do, the closer they feel to the

Almighty. When their deeds are performed in the spirit of love

and selflessness, they are spiritually meaningful. The problem,

of course, is that these rules of piety may themselves

become merely mechanical observances.


The genius of halakha is that it provides Jews with a

medium for approaching God on a constant basis. Each law,

each observance is a link between the human and the Divine.

But the power of halakha cannot be appreciated without

spiritual sensitivity, openness and--above all--humility.




It is a rare experience to be in the presence of a truly saintly person who lives in a deep relationship

with God. We might describe such a person as having

wisdom, humility, inner peace, tranquility. The saintly person

lives life on a different plane from most other people.

One cannot attain saintliness as the result of following

any specific prescriptions. There are no schools to educate

and graduate saints. There are no rituals or techniques which,

if followed, will result automatically in the creation of a

genuinely pious person.


In describing the actions and observances of deeply pious

people, we only describe the evident and superficial

aspect of their lives. Their inner lives remain a secret to us.

We are intrigued with such people because we do not understand

their inner beings.


Following the external dictates of halakha does not

guarantee the quality of saintliness. Without mystical insight,

without an all-encompassing love, the practitioner of

halakha mimics saintliness. Halakha must be experienced

as a fulfillment of the will of God if it is to generate spirituality.


Modern Western society does not place a particularly

high premium on saintliness. Our society is achievement oriented,

pragmatic, material-centered. Even religion is profoundly

influenced by these values. Religious institutions

are concerned with perpetuating themselves-- raising money,

obtaining members, providing services. Prayer services

might pass for good (or not so good) theater. They may

provide parodies of prayer where people appear to be praying

while having no sense of the presence of God. It is difficult

to preach about God and mystical saintliness except to

unusual individuals.


The ideal of halakha is to create righteous, pious

people. Even those who may never attain this spiritual level

still need to know what the goal is.


In describing the religious life of North African Jewry,

Andre Chouraqui has noted that the Jews of the Maghreb

valued saintliness as the ultimate quality.[20]  They expected

that their rabbis be well-versed in Torah and rabbinic literature:

but more than this, they expected them to be able to pray

with sincerity and real devotion. By being in the presence of

saintly teachers, the average people could be raised in their

own spiritual life.


In summation, halakha is the ever-present link between

God and the Jewish people. Through observance of halakha

in the spirit of humility, the Jew has the opportunity to .live

life on a deep spiritual level.





[1] Mikhmanei Uziel, Tel Aviv, 1939, p. 358.

[2] Ibid., p. 371.

[3] Ibid., p. 376.

[4] Ibid., p. 382.

[5] Ibid., p. 391.

[6] This material is drawn from my article, “A Sephardic Approach to Halakha,” Midstream, August/September 1975, pp. 66-69.

[7] The travel account is found in J. D. Eisenstein, Ozar HaMasaot, Tel Aviv, 1969. See page 241.

[8] Alan Watts, The Supreme Identity, New York, 1972, p. 128.

[9] Andre Chouraqui, Between East and West, Philadelphia, 1968,  p. 61. 

[10]  London, 1969, pp. 128f.

[11] Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 407.

[12] The text of this contract is found in Yehoshua Benveniste, Sha’ar Yehoshua, Husiatyn, 1904, no. 2.

[13] Tam ben Yahya, Tumat Yesharim, Venice, 1622, no. 213, p.112b.

[14]  Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism (second series), Philadelphia, 1908, p. 208.

[15] Isidore Epstein, The Responsa of Rabbi Simon Duran as a Source of History of the Jews of North Africa, New York, 1968, pp. 58-59.

[16] David Ibn Zimra, Responsa, New York, 5727, vol. 1, no. 308.

[17] See his commentary on Pirkei Avot, p. 103b.

[18] Ibid., p. 97b.

[19] Appendix A to Schechter’s article, p. 292.

[20] Chouraqui, p. 63. See also p. 71f, on the veneration of tombs.