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The Grand Sanhedrin was a Jewish high court convened in Europe by Napoleon I to give legal sanction to the principles expressed by the Assembly of Notables in answer to the twelve questions submitted to it by the government.The name was chosen to imply that the Grand Sanhedrin had the authority of the original Sanhedrin that had been the main legislative and judicial body of the Jewish people in classical and late antiquity.
An Assembly of Notables was a group of high-ranking nobles, ecclesiastics, and state functionaries convened by the King of France on extraordinary occasions to consult on matters of state. Assemblymen were prominent men, usually of the aristocracy, and included royal princes, peers, archbishops, high-ranking judges, and, in some cases, major town officials. The king would issue one or more reforming edicts after hearing their advice.
The Sanhedrin were assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
An Assembly of Jewish notables was summoned in April 1806 by the Emperor to consider a set of 12 questions. Those who attended were largely from the Bordeaux or Rhine regions (Alsace and Lorraine). They were led by Rabbi David Sinzheim of Strasbourg, who later became the chairman ("nasi") of the Grand Sanhedrin.
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in Southwestern France.
Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Pharisaic and Talmudic era, when learned teachers assembled to codify Judaism's written and oral laws. The first sage for whom the Mishnah uses the title of rabbi was Yohanan ben Zakkai, active in the early-to-mid first century CE. In more recent centuries, the duties of a rabbi became increasingly influenced by the duties of the Protestant Christian minister, hence the title "pulpit rabbis", and in 19th-century Germany and the United States rabbinic activities including sermons, pastoral counseling, and representing the community to the outside, all increased in importance.
The questions presented were:
At one of the meetings of the Notables, Commissioner Count Louis-Mathieu Molé expressed the satisfaction of the emperor with their answers, and announced that the emperor, requiring a pledge of strict adherence to these principles, had resolved to call together a 'great sanhedrin' which should convert the answers into decisions and make them the basis of the future status of the Jews, create a new organization, and condemn all false interpretations of their religious laws. In order that this sanhedrin, reviving the old Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, might be vested with the same sacred character as that time-honored institution, it was to be constituted on a similar pattern: it was to be composed of seventy-one members—two-thirds of them rabbis and one-third laymen. The Assembly of Notables, which was to continue its sessions, was to elect the members of the sanhedrin, and notify the several communities of Europe of its meeting, "that they may send deputies worthy of communicating with you and able to give to the government additional information." The Assembly of Notables was to appoint also a committee of nine, whose duty it would be to prepare the work of the sanhedrin and devise a plan for the future organization of the Jews in France and Italy (see Consistoire).
Louis-Mathieu Molé, also 1st Count Molé from 1809 to 1815, was a French statesman, close friend and associate of Louis Philippe I, King of the French during the July Monarchy (1830–1848).
A Jewish consistory, , was a body governing the Jewish congregations of a province or of a country; also the district administered by the consistory.
On October 6, 1806, the Assembly of Notables issued a proclamation to all the Jewish communities of Europe, inviting them to send delegates to the sanhedrin, to convene on October 20. This proclamation, written in Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, speaks in extravagant terms of the importance of this revived institution and of the greatness of its imperial protector. While the action of Napoleon aroused in many Jews of Germany the hope that, influenced by it, their governments also would grant them the rights of citizenship, others looked upon it as a political contrivance. When in the war against Prussia (1806-7) the emperor invaded Poland and the Jews rendered great services to his army, he remarked, laughing, "The sanhedrin is at least useful to me."[ citation needed ] David Friedländer and his friends in Berlin described it as a spectacle that Napoleon offered to the Parisians."[ citation needed ]
David Friedländer was a German Jewish banker, writer and communal leader.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.
The opening of the sanhedrin was delayed until Feb. 9, 1807, four days after the adjournment of the Assembly of Notables. Its seventy-one members included the rabbis sitting in the Assembly, to whom were added twenty-nine other rabbis and twenty-five laymen. Its presiding officers, appointed by the minister of the interior, were: Joseph David Sinzheim, rabbi of Strasbourg (president); Joshua Benzion Segre, rabbi, and member of the municipal council of Vercelli (first vice-president); Abraham de Cologna, rabbi of Mantua (second vice-president). After a solemn religious service in the synagogue, the members assembled in the Hôtel de Ville, in a hall specially prepared for them. Following the ancient custom, they took their seats in a semicircle, according to age, on both sides of the presiding officers, the laymen behind the rabbis. They were attired in black garments, with silk capes and three-cornered hats. The sittings were public, and many visitors were present. The first meeting was opened with a Hebrew prayer written by David Sinzheim; after the address of the president and of Abraham Furtado, chairman of the Assembly of Notables, it was adjourned. At the second sitting, Feb. 12, 1807, deputies Asser, Lemon, and Litwack, of the newly constituted Amsterdam Reform congregation Adat Jeshurun, addressed the sanhedrin, Litwack in Hebrew, the others in French, expressing their entire approval of the Assembly and promising their hearty support. But the deputies were greatly disappointed when the president, after having answered them in Hebrew, invited them to be silent listeners instead of taking part in the debates as the proclamation of the Notables had caused them to expect. Addresses from congregations in France, Italy, and the Rhenish Confederation, especially from Neuwied and Dresden, were also presented.
Joseph David Sinzheim was the chief rabbi of Strasbourg. He was son of Rabbi Isaac Sinzheim of Treves, and brother-in-law of Herz Cerfbeer.
Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located at the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department. In 2016, the city proper had 279,284 inhabitants and both the Eurométropole de Strasbourg and the Arrondissement of Strasbourg had 491,409 inhabitants. Strasbourg's metropolitan area had a population of 785,839 in 2015, making it the ninth largest metro area in France and home to 13% of the Grand Est region's inhabitants. The transnational Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau had a population of 915,000 inhabitants in 2014.
Vercelli, is a city and comune of 46.552 inhabitants (1-1-2017) in the Province of Vercelli, Piedmont, northern Italy. One of the oldest urban sites in northern Italy, it was founded, according to most historians, around the year 600 BC.
In the sittings of Feb. 16, 19, 23, 26, and March 2, the sanhedrin voted without discussion on the replies of the Assembly of Notables, and passed them as laws. At the eighth meeting, on March 9, Hildesheimer, deputy from Frankfurt-am-Main, and Asser of Amsterdam delivered addresses, to which the president responded in Hebrew expressing great hopes for the future. After having received the thanks of the members, he closed the sanhedrin. The Notables convened again on March 25, prepared an official report, and presented it on April 6, 1807; then the imperial commissioners declared the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables.
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands, although it is not the seat of the government, which is The Hague. Amsterdam has a population of 854,047 within the city proper, 1,357,675 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is Haarlem. The Amsterdam metropolitan area comprises much of the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, which has a population of approximately 8.1 million.
Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.
The decisions of the sanhedrin, formulated in nine articles and drawn up in French and Hebrew, were as follows:
In the introduction to these resolutions, the Grand Sanhedrin declared that, by virtue of the right conferred upon it by ancient custom and law, it constituted, like the ancient Sanhedrin, a legal assembly vested with the power of passing ordinances in order to promote the welfare of Israel and inculcate obedience to the laws of the state. These resolutions formed the basis of all subsequent laws and regulations of the French government in regard to the religious affairs of the Jews, although Napoleon, in spite of the declarations, issued a decree on March 17, 1808, restricting the Jews' legal rights. The plan of organization prepared by the committee of nine, having for its object the creation of consistories, was not submitted to the Sanhedrin, but was promulgated by Napoleon's decree of March 17, 1808.
Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic law, and the customs and traditions compiled in the many books such as the Shulchan Aruch. Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the way to behave" or "the way of walking". The word derives from the root that means "to behave". Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but also numerous aspects of day-to-day life.
The Seven Laws of Noah, also referred to as the Noahide Laws or the Noachide Laws, are a set of imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humanity.
Semikhah or Smicha or Smicha, also smichut, smicha lerabbanut, or smicha lehazzanut, is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized".
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism.
A beth din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel. Today, it is invested with legal powers in a number of religious matters both in Israel and in Jewish communities in the Diaspora, where its judgments hold varying degrees of authority in matters specifically related to Jewish religious life.
Revolutionary France enacted laws that first emancipated Jews in France, establishing them as equal citizens to other Frenchmen. In countries that Napoleon Bonaparte's ensuing First French Empire conquered during the Napoleonic Wars, he emancipated the Jews and introduced other ideas of freedom from the French Revolution. For instance, he overrode old laws restricting Jews to reside in ghettos, as well as lifting laws that limited Jews' rights to property, worship, and certain occupations.
Jewish leadership has evolved over time. Since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, there has been no single body that has a leadership position over the entire Jewish diaspora. Various branches of Judaism, as well as Jewish religious or secular communities and political movements around the world elect or appoint their governing bodies, often subdivided by country or region.
Schisms among the Jews are cultural as well as religious. They have happened as a product of historical accident, geography, and theology.
On March 17, 1808, Napoleon I created three decrees in a failed attempt to bring equality and to integrate the Jews into French society after the Jewish Emancipation of 1790-1791. The Infamous Decree, the third of the three, had adverse effects. Although the decrees' aim was to further emancipate the Jews into equal citizenship, it restricted Jewish money lending, it annulled all debts owed to Jews by non Jewish debtors and limited the residency of new Jewish peoples in France by restricting all business activities while allowing work in agriculture and regular craftsmanship. The combination of these decrees severely weakened the financial position of once dominant rural French money lending Jews.
Black Hebrew Israelites are groups of Black Americans who believe that they are the descendants of the ancient Israelites. To varying degrees, Black Hebrews adhere to the religious beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism. With the exception of a small number of individuals who have formally converted to Judaism, they are not recognized as Jews by the greater Jewish community. Many choose to identify as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than Jews in order to indicate their claimed historic connections.
Nasi’ is a Hebrew title meaning "prince" in Biblical Hebrew, "Prince [of the Sanhedrin]" in Mishnaic Hebrew, or "president" in Modern Hebrew.
Noahidism or Noachidism is a monotheistic branch of Judaism based on the Seven Laws of Noah, and their traditional interpretations within Rabbinic Judaism. According to the Jewish law, non-Jews (Gentiles) are not obligated to convert to Judaism, but they are required to observe the Seven Laws of Noah to be assured of a place in the World to Come, the final reward of the righteous. The divinely ordained penalty for violating any of these Noahide Laws is discussed in the Talmud, but in practical terms it is subject to the working legal system which is established by the society at large. Those who subscribe to the observance of the Noahic Covenant are referred to as B'nei Noach or Noahides. Supporting organizations have been established around the world over the past decades by either Noahides or Orthodox Jews.
Modern attempts to revive the Sanhedrin are the efforts from 1538 AD until the present day to renew the Sanhedrin which was dissolved in 358 AD by the edict of the Byzantine emperor. [Though 358 was the last formal meeting, there is no record of when it was actually dissolved and by whom, nor any reference to the last nasi's execution.] The latest effort was in 2004 when a group of seventy one rabbis claiming to represent varied communities in Israel undertook a ceremony in Tiberias, where the original Sanhedrin was disbanded. That group claimed to re-establish the body, based on the proposal of Maimonides and the Jewish legal rulings of Rabbi Yosef Karo. As of March 2010, that effort is ongoing.
The Israelite Central Consistory of France is an institution set up by Napoleon I by the Imperial Decree of 17 March 1808 to administer Jewish worship and congregations in France. He also directed the establishment of regional Israelite Consistories, subordinate to the Central Consistory, across France. The consistories were ranked as établissements publics du culte. Given Napoleon's political emancipation of the Jews, he wanted a representative body that could deal with his government.
The subject of loans and interest in Judaism has a long and complex history. In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Ezekiel classifies the charging of interest among the worst sins, denouncing it as an abomination and metaphorically portraying usurers as people who have shed the borrower's blood. The Talmud dwells on Ezekiel's condemnation of charging interest.
The 2004 attempt to re-establish the Sanhedrin was an attempt to set up a revived national rabbinical court of Jewish law in Israel which began in October 2004. The attempt has been met with the most acceptance and the least opposition among Gedolim and Rosh Yeshivas of all previous attempts in history since the disbandment of the original Sanhedrin in the 4th century. The organization heading this attempt refers to itself as the nascent Sanhedrin or developing Sanhedrin, and regards itself as a provisional body awaiting integration into the Israeli government as both a supreme court and an upper house of the Knesset, while the Israeli secular press regards it as an illegitimate fundamentalist organization of rabbis. The organization, which is composed of over 70 rabbis, claims to enjoy recognition and support from the entire religious Jewish community in Israel, and has stirred debate in both religious and secularist circles.
The relationship between Judaism and politics is a historically complex subject, and has evolved over time concurrently with both changes within Jewish society and religious practice, and changes in the secular societies in which Jews live. In particular, Jewish political thought can be split into four major eras: biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern.