Choulhan Aroukh

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Le Choulhan Aroukh (שולחן ערוך en hébreu) est une compilation de toutes les lois énoncées par le Talmud, ainsi que des opinions et commentaires des grands légalistes et décisionnaires qui les ont examinées. Il fut rédigé par le Rav Yossef Karo, appelé traditionnellement le Mehaber (le compilateur).

Choulhan Aroukh signifie littéralement « table dressée », par allusion à la table de Shabbat et à la Torah, dont toutes les lois sont dressées devant vous. L'ouvrage compile l'ensemble des halakhot (lois), et est divisé en quatre parties.

Cet ouvrage marque la fin de l'ère des Rishonim : en effet, leurs efforts tendaient à identifier et déterminer les applications, exceptions, restrictions etc. des règles et lois dispersées dans le Talmud et en expliquer le sens afin de mieux les cerner (comme le faisaient Rachi, les Tossafistes et leurs disciples en général). Le Choulhan Aroukh est l'aboutissement de ces travaux. Conséquemment, les commentateurs du Talmud postérieurs à cette œuvre seront les Aharonim (derniers).

La Halakha est le strict minimum en matière de pensée et d'observance du Judaïsme. Le Choulhan Aroukh en est donc l'un des livres essentiels les plus lus de nos jours.

Sommaire

Ses Sources

Le Rav Yossef Karo s'est principalement référé au Mishné Torah du Rambam (le Code de Maïmonide), au Tour, au Rosh, et au Sefer Ha-halachot du Rif. Il a donc fondé ses Halakhot sur les décisions et lois des Sages Espagnols. Rabbi Moshé Isserles (le Rama, 1525-1572) écrivit un livre où il cite dans l'ordre chronologique les lois déterminées par Rabbi Yossef Karo dans le Choulhan Aroukh. Ce livre est appelé HaMappa, et donne aussi les annotations du Rama. Il fonda ses Halakhot, lui, sur les décisions et lois des Sages Européens. Toutes les lois données par le Rama sont reliées au Choulhan Aroukh et toute Halakhka qui n'est pas donnée par le Rama est acceptée par les Juifs Séfarades et Ashkénazes. Le Choulhan Aroukh fut imprimé en caractères réguliers et les annotations du Rama y sont disséminées en lettres Rachi.

Sa Structure

Le Choulkhan Aroukh, tout comme son précurseur, le Beth Yosef, est construit sur le modèle de l'Arbaa Tourim. Il y a donc quatre livres, subdivisés en chapitres et paragraphes:

  1. Orah Hayim - lois concernant la prière et la synagogue, le Shabbat, les fêtes et les différentes benedictions;
  2. Yore Dea - lois sur l'abattage rituel et la cacheroute, les lois de Nidda ainsi que sur la conversion religieuse);
  3. Even HaEzer - lois sur le mariage, le divorce et sujets afférents;
  4. Hoshen Mishpat - lois sur la finance, les responsibilités financières, les préjudices (personnels et financiers), les règles du Beth Din (tribunal), ainsi que les lois des témoins.

Le Bet Yossef

Le Bet Yossef est le surnom qu'on donne a Rabbi Yossef Karo l'auteur du Choulh'an Haroukh. Dailleurs, celui-ci à aussi écrit un commentaire sur le Rambam (Maimonide) qui s'appelle כסף משנה (kessef michne). The Shulkhan Arukh is an abridgement of a much larger work by Rabbi Karo, titled Beth Yosef (Hebrew: "House of Joseph"). In form it is a commentary upon Jacob ben Asher's Arba'ah Turim ("Tur"); but it is really much more comprehensive, going back to the Talmud and the Midrash compilations relating to Jewish law. This work discusses the pros and cons of the authorities cited by the "Tur", and examines the opinions of the authorities not mentioned by the latter. Rabbi Karo began the Beth Yosef in 1522 at Adrianople, finished it in 1542 at Safed in the Land of Israel; he published it in 1550-59.

Thirty-two authorities, beginning with the Talmud and ending with the works of Rabbi Israel Isserlein (the Terumath ha-Deshen), are briefly summed up and critically discussed in Beth Yosef. No other rabbinical work compares with it in wealth of material. Karo evidences not only an astonishing range of reading, covering almost the whole of rabbinic literature, but also very remarkable powers of critical investigation. He shows no disposition to accept blindly the opinions of the ancient authorities, notwithstanding his great respect for them.

In the introduction to his monumental compilation, Karo clearly states the necessity of and his reasons for undertaking such a work. The expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula and the invention of printing endangered the stability of religious observances on their legal and ritual sides. In Spain and Portugal questions were generally decided by the "customs of the country"; the different districts had their standard authorities to which they appealed in doubtful cases. The most prominent of these were Maimonides, Nahmanides, and Asher ben Jehiel. When the Spanish-Portuguese exiles came to the various communities in the East and West, where usages entirely different from those to which they had been accustomed prevailed, the question naturally arose whether the newcomers, the majority of whom were men of greater learning than the members of the invaded communities, should be ruled by the latter, or vice versa. The increase of printed books, moreover, spread broadcast the products of halakhic literature; so that many half-educated persons, finding themselves in possession of legal treatises, felt justified in following any ancient authority at will. Karo undertook his Beth Yosef to remedy this evil, quoting and critically examining in his book the opinions of all the authorities then known.

The standard authorities

Karo at first intended to follow his own judgment in cases of differences of opinion between the various authorities, especially where he could support his own view by the Talmud. But he gave up this idea because, as he says: "Who has the courage to rear his head aloft among mountains, the heights of God?" and also because he thought, though he does not mention his conclusion, that he could gain no following if he set up his authority against that of the ancient scholars. Hence Karo took the halakhot of Rabbi Isaac Alfasi (the Rif), Maimonides, and Asher ben Jehiel (the Rosh) as his standards, accepting as authoritative the opinion of two of the three, except in cases where most of the ancient authorities were against them. Karo very often decides disputed cases without regard to the age and importance of the authority in question, expressing simply his own views. He follows Maimonides' example, as seen in Mishneh Torah (the "Yad"), rather than that of Jacob ben Asher, who seldom decides between ancient authorities.

In its form, Karo's Beth Yosef follows Jacob ben Asher's "Tur". Several reasons induced Karo to connect his work with the "Tur", instead of Maimonides' code. In the first place, the "Tur", although not considered so great an authority as Maimonides' code, was much more widely known; the latter being recognized only among the Spanish Jews, while the former enjoyed a high reputation among the Ashkenazim and Sephardim, as well as the Italian Jews. Secondly, it was not Karo's intention to write a code similar in form to Maimonides' work; he intended to give not merely the results of his investigations, but also the investigations themselves. He wished not only to aid the officiating rabbi in the performance of his duties, but also to trace for the student the development of particular laws from the Talmud through later rabbinical literature. The study of Talmudic literature was not for Karo, as for Maimonides, merely a means toward an end (namely, for religious observances) but an end in itself; he, therefore, did not favor codes that contained only decisions, without giving any reasons for them.

Ses Commentaires

Des livres d'explication ainsi que des critiques ont aussi été écrits sur le Choulhan Aroukh. En annotations dans le texte, ils sont appelés « Nossei Hakélim » :

Anecdote

En 2005, le Choulhan Aroukh a été au cœur d'une controverse en Russie, où l'on prétendait qu'il contiendrait des passages haineux contre les non-Juifs.[réf. nécessaire]

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