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Stringency in Qumran?

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image of Journal for the Study of Judaism

Some scholars allege a stringent ideology behind the severe Qumranic halakhot in contrast to putative leniencies in parallel rabbinic rulings. Vered Noam contends that the rabbinic propensity for leniency and innovativeness, versus the opposite Qumranic approach are the source of their disputes. Thus, Qumranic strictness is not “objective” but relative to the lenient rabbinic law. This paper critically scrutinizes Noam’s thesis, and will posit that the halakhot of Qumran are founded on a literal adherence to Scripture versus rabbinic pragmatism. The study discusses Noam’s cited examples, offering contrasting explanations. It deliberates about the difference between disputes concerning interpretations and physical facts, the rationales behind the various classifications, and the relationship between the degrees of holiness and the degrees of impurity.

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