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Rabbi Joseph Karo And Sixteenth-Century Messianic Maimonideanism

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Chapter Summary

Maimonides' attitude towards Messianism is complicated and ambivalent. It is clear, however, that he embraced two historical phenomena- the Sanhedrin and prophecy-and depicted them as messianic symbols, omens of the End of Days, whose reappearance in the Jewish world would herald the coming of the Messiah. This chapter expresses his views on the Sanhedrin and renewal of prophecy in a halakhic context, Maimonides laid the juristic foundations for the messianic practice of the sixteenth century. Shulhan Arukh (1565), the most widespread code of law after Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, differs from the former in its method of ruling. An important aspect of Rabbi Joseph Karo's messianic inspirations was his desire to meet Elijah the Prophet: "see him while awake and exchange greetings with him." Moses ben Maimon and Joseph Karo were scholars of Halakhah, codifiers, whose formal occupation was law making and legislation.

Keywords: Elijah; Maimonides; Mishneh Torah; prophecy; Rabbi Joseph Karo; Sanhedrin; Shulhan Arukh



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