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German Hasidism flourished (but, being German, would never have admitted to such an indulgence as “flourishing”) between ca. 1150 and 1250 in the Rhineland. Sefer Hasidim, or Book of the Pious, was its greatness, authored by Rabbi Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg (1140-1217) and/or his father Samuel (the latter working under the influence of his father, Kalonymus ben Isaac the Elder). Most scholars agree that Rabbi Judah’s student, Rabbi Eleazar Rokeach, compiled the extant text. Its archaic warnings—don’t masturbate, don’t pray in bed, don’t fart during prayers, but if you do, be silent until the odor subsides—are time and again redeemed by anecdotes and contortions of logic: “The scholar said, ‘Give good advice to all men who come to you, even to your enemies.’ For two reasons: firstly, because this is the Law, and you must avoid sin. Secondly, in this way you will take revenge on your enemies. Because your enemy will think in his heart: ‘Surely this man hates me and did not advise me well,’ and he will spurn your thoughts and do another thing, which will be to his detriment.”





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