Halakhic Questions of Thirteenth-Century Acre Scholars as a Historical Source

Simcha Emanuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The responsa (“questions and answers”) literature, written by Jewish sages in the Middle Ages, is a historical source whose value cannot be overstated. The inquirers (and sometimes the respondents) document innumerable details about their daily lives on virtually every topic. This article reveals many such questions sent by the Jews of Acre to sages who lived very far from them and attempts to summarize the historical information that emerges from these questions. The questions are not dated, but most of them can be ascribed to the latter half of the thirteenth century (up to the city’s destruction in 1291). The people living in Acre in this period arrived from different countries and cultural regions and, accordingly, their questions were sent to different countries. One question was sent to “Rabbi Ḥasid, the son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Ha-Levi,” whose identity and place of residence are unknown. Another question was sent to Rabbi Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg (d. 1293), the leader of German Jewry. All other questions were sent to Rabbi Shlomo b. Avraham ibn Adret (d. c.1310), who lived in Barcelona and was the leader of Iberian Jewry. Neither the inquirers in Acre nor the respondents in Germany and Iberia tell us how much effort they had to make to maintain these ties. They left it to our imagination to fill in the blanks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2018 by the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East.


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