Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Who can think of piyutim at a time like this? An 1855 letter on American Judaism from Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler.

Here is a really interesting excerpt from a letter to Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, by British Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, in response to several halachic queries.

Dated March 22, 5615*:

". . . with regard to your second question; whether I think it advisable that you & Dr. Raphael should jointly consider what curtailments could with propriety be made in the פיוטים with the view of promoting the adoption of a certain uniform מנהג ; I beg to state, that in my opinion, such a step is not advisable under the present circumstances," because there are "evils of far greater magnitude" which need attending to in America. The letter continues:

* 1855; interestingly enough, this seems to have been the practice of the British Chief Rabbis, and likely many pious English-speaking Jews. In writing English they would use the secular month and day, but write the Hebrew year.

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