From 2002 through 2010 I give myself rather long-term tasks (I take on long-term tasks). I decided to make an old complicated list simple. I found The Code Of Jewish Law. To me, this was an obscure unknown book written in the 1920s with long – “Old English” – passages that called out to me to find the point in each instance as a redux reduction. I’ve come to learn of the book’s significance, so I thought I’d share my project to simplify what I now know to be a great work.
I knew what I found was a very old point-by-point instructions pertaining to how one should conduct his or her daily life. It read like a user’s manual. The list I found had no context or origin. Now, in 2015, I’ve learned that it was well translated from of the work of Solomon Ganzfried who was an Orthodox rabbi and posek best known as an author of Halakha (Jewish law), the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Who wrote down this code of Jewish law? Its actual name is the Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew: עָרוּך שֻׁלְחָן), which literally translates to “Set Table.”. The Shulcan Aruch was written in 1563 by Yosef Karo in Safed, Israel, and published two years later in Venice, Italy. It has been republished and translated countless times. What know, I found on the Internet.
The Five Books of Moses are the first five books of the twenty-four books of the Tanakh, together with the oral laws and commentary that form the well-spring of Jewish law and custom. There are The Ten Commandments, of course, but there are actually 613 Commandments in the Hebrew Bible; however, they are not directly laid out as do’s and don’ts of day-to-day living. Much of the Jewish liturgy I find to be more original text, commentary or prayer – Not just a list.
I study a bit, with help, but this project I could do quietly all on my own. It was no small task to be trimming down four volumes, 221 chapters, and approximately 2,756 “rules”. Sure, some of The Code Of Jewish Law seem outdated—modern times have rendered them obsolete—but, most remain as true today as they have ever been. The Code of Jewish Law can be viewed as instructions, as opposed to doctrine. The list of day-to-day tasks and prohibitions seem endless. However, the list that comprises The Code of Jewish Law comes from a recognized and universally accepted source.
Let’s be perfectly clear . . . That official source is not me! It should be argued that there is always something lost in translation. This is even more the case in this instance. I am absolutely no authority, I was an average student, I can read NO Hebrew, I checked with no one and, I have no way of knowing if I translated the glossary properly or reduced the passages well.
It is a book of deeds and I simply took it as a task to make it simple.
Some things simply seem worth doing; not all things need knowing.
In this case, that is the point.
Bruce A. Fogelson September 23, 2015 - Tishrei 10, 5776