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Innovation in Jewish Law: A Case Study of Chiddush in Havineinu Hardcover – July 1, 2010
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About the Author
Michael J. Broyde is a professor of law at Emory University Law School and a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. He has published more than 75 articles and three books on various aspects of Jewish law, ethics, and religion. He lives in the Atlanta area.
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According to an old tradition, there was a large group of scholars called Men of the Great Assembly, headed by the biblical Ezra in the fourth or fifth century BCE, who functioned as political and religious leaders of the Jewish community for either a short period or some centuries. There is no proof that such an institution existed since there is no mention of it in biblical and post-biblical literature until well into the Common Era. The issue of the existence of the Assembly is discussed in a scholarly manner by the historian Sidney B. Hoenig in his Sanhedrin.
Broyde cites the tradition that the prayer shemoneh esreh was developed by the Men of The Great Assembly as the first non-biblical prayer. It comprised eighteen prayers, each a paragraph long, such as requests for health, forgiveness for misdeeds, restoration of the land of Israel, and hope for the messiah. When Jews were persecuted and mistreated, a nineteenth prayer was added during the early years of the first millennium for the removal of the persecutions, but the prayer continued to be called shemoneh esreh, which means "eighteen," or amidah, which means "standing," since the prayer is recited upright.Read more ›