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May 23, 2017 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Bamidbar

In this week’s portion, the tribes are numbered and gather around their encampments.  Each man stays with his tribe (Numb. 1:52).  Miller writes that Rabbi Isaac Luria wrote: “Just as there were four divisions then, contemporary [i.e. 16th c.] is divided into four main groups: Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Catalonian, and Italian.  They must all remain loyal to their ‘divisions’, to their own unique customs, which are holy and precious.”

What’s interesting to me is that Jews seemed to have ignored this advice; two of these groups (Catalonian and Italian) have diminished or disappeared over time.  Catalonians have, I would guess, merged into Sephardim generally.  Italians are a pretty small part of the Jewish world, so I don’t know if they have any unique customs.  In their place, other divisions have arisen: Western Sephardi vs. Mizrahi, Hasidim vs. non-Hasidim, and of course more significant ideological divisions (Orthodox/Conservative/Reform).  Even among Jews who are kept their identity, people have become pretty flexible over the generations in their intra-Jewish identity.



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  1. Shira Salamone / May 23 2017 3:38 pm

    From what I’ve heard, some of us Ashkenazi Jews have borrowed a bit from Nusach Italki:

    B’fi Y’sharim *titRomam*
    U-v’darvei TZaddikim titBarach
    U-vil’shon CHassidim *titKadash*
    U-v’kerev K’doshish *titHalal*

    The words with upper-case letters near the beginning of these phrases are in standard Nusach Ashkenaz order, and spell out YTZCHAK, or Yitzchak. But the words at the end are mostly *not* in standard Nusach Ashkenaz order–the Italian Nusach arranges them this way to spell out RBKH, or Rivkah, wife of Yitzchak.

  2. Shira Salamone / May 23 2017 4:41 pm

    Er, make that ” K’doshim.”

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