The fourth lecture in David Solomon’s overview series of Jewish history examines the years 1000 to 1500, known as the period of the Rishonim.
The talk explores the complex and sometimes contradictory experiences of different Jewish populations over these centuries, their lives and safety often dependent on their location, rulers, and the whim of history.
In discussing this period, David primarily focuses on:
The motivations, events, and impacts of the crusades
Meir of Rothenberg
The Golden Age of Spain – from the Moorish conquest to the Almohad Invasion
Shlomo Ibn Gabirol and Yehudah HaLevi
The Christian reconquest
The Ramban and the Barcelona Disputation (1263)
The revelation of the Zohar (1290).
The first blood libel (1144)
The massacre at York (1190)
Raising the ransom for Richard 1 (1194)
The first nationwide expulsion (1290).
Filled with stories of the many remarkable Jews whose lives and work have left indelible marks on history, David reveals this five-hundred-year period to have been as rich with innovation and contribution as it is with darkness.
Some of the central ideas that David examines in this talk include:
The Active Intellect as the agent of human knowledge
The evolving intersection between philosophy and Judaism
The rational and the revealed
The attributes of the Divine
The concept of Tselem
The relationship between science, philosophy, and revelation
The eternity of the world
The proof for the existence of Gd.
With the use of his own original illustrative graphics, David provides an overview of the ideas and contributions of these extraordinary figures. He also places all three in their respective historical and intellectual contexts.
For a historical overview of the period listen to David’s series, From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of 12th & 13th centuries, starting here.
This fourth talk in David’s eight-part series, A Journey Through Jewish Philosophy, was delivered on Zoom for Caulfield Shule in 2020.
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.
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