#62 Hope in Darkness: Jewish History of the 14th & 15th Centuries (Part One)

In the wake of the global upheaval and transformation of the previous century, Jewish history of the 1300s unfolded as a mix of controversy, uncertainty, and innovation. In this podcast episode, David examines the early years of the 14th century for Jews in Europe and Asia with its many dark episodes – including expulsions, forced conversions, and plagues – occasionally offset by opportunity and reprieve, as well as remarkable intellectual and spiritual contribution. David also highlights an unexpected connection between this historical period and our own.

This episode includes discussions of:
  • Jewish explorations into astral magic – the production of a number of famous Passover haggadot
  • the Jewish expulsions from France and the devastating massacre of Strasbourg
  • the consistent pressure on the Jews of Europe to convert and some of the more poignant stories of Jews who gave in to this pressure to become Christians
  • Rabbi Levi and his extraordinary contributions to mathematics and astronomy
  • the tragic ransom of R Meir of Rothenburg – the contributions of famous commentators like the Ralbag, the Rosh, and the Rashbah – the Black Death and its profound impact on Jewish life
Find more of David Solomon’s podcast, with dozens of lectures on Jewish history, the Bible, Jewish philosophy, and Kabbalah here.