Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jewish Knights

There have now been three recent blogs in the last few weeks, showing that medieval Jews were a lot more chivalrous than I previously suspected. Onthemainline brings us a Tosfot justifying the minhag of young men to joust for the entertainment of a new bride and groom (and did the bride have to give a champion a scarf I wonder?). The next to jump on the horse, per say was Ben Din Ledin who brought a Responsa from Rav Yisrael Bruna allowing the watching of Jousting Tournaments. The shocking thing for me, was that the watching of jousting was allowed since he thought that it was basically "good learning" for everyone, who learn through watching how to better use their arms. He clearly states that Jousting tournaments are not about having fun. Right. I'm guessing the popcorn and the cheering are normal training events.  This slightly reminds me of a case where Rav Aviner (A Modern-Orthadox rabbi known to be extremely strict on issues of Tznius - Modesty) was asked if one could watch the Israeli version of Survivor since you can learn from it many social talents!

Last and not least Torahmusings brings us an earlier Rabbinic answer from the Ra'vyah (1160-1240) regarding a case where a suit of armor was leant for the use of a tournament. The Ra’avyah’s responsum deals with a halakhic question relating to the laws of interest. He does not even comment on the facts of the underlying transaction, i.e.,  that one Jew lent a suit of armor to another Jew for use in a tournament.

The good news for us Jews with a Chivalious nature (all 2 of us) is that a quick search on google found that 4 years ago, Ireland has repealed its law, enacted in 1181, which forbade Jews from possessing armor.

About the picture - taken from the Tripartite MachzorThis manuscript was written in Southern Germany (in the region of Lake Constance, Bavaria or the region of the Upper Rhine) around 1320. Three copies are known to exist, one in the David Kaufman collection and two in the British Library. 

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