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3 A Community of Practice

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is dedicated to a detailed inspection of Samaritan ritual forms. Their description is preceded by a brief exposition of their legal and organizational foundations. Samaritans share with Jews the notion of halakhah, the totality of religious law, consisting of biblical law, its written exegesis, and noncodified custom. The chapter focuses on the subject of halakhic decisions. A couple of ceremonies mark the induction of infants and youths into the Samaritan community. These ceremonies apply exclusively to boys. Traditionally, the first ritual open to women is marriage. In both ancient Judaism and Islam, marriage requires a financial transfer from the groom to the bride, a sum referred to as the bridewealth. One of the most striking features of Samaritan life is the high level of concern with issues of ritual purity.

Keywords: biblical law; bridewealth; Jewish halakhah; ritual purity; Samaritan community; Samaritan marriage



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