responsa

Definitions

  • Written decisions and legal rulings by rabbis appointed to be legal deciders.

Example Sentences

  • Since the Torah does not mention it, rabbis had to write a responsum on whether or not it was okay for a flag of Israel to be on the bima.
  • "Responsa literature has its roots in the Geonic period (8 th century), and it continues to be written to this very day. By the year 2000, over 5,600 volumes - comprising over half a million rabbinic responsa - had been published." (http://www.schechter.edu/facultyForum.aspx?ID=50)

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, English, Latin

Etymology

Responsum is Latin for answer, parallel to Hebrew teshuva.

Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
Religious

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).
JPS: The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)

Notes

singular responsum. Hebrew she'elot u-teshuvot (questions and answers), abbreviated as shu"t / shutim.

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