/ri spon"seuh/, n.
the branch of rabbinical literature comprised of authoritative replies in letter form made by noted rabbis or Jewish scholars to questions sent to them concerning Jewish law.
[1895-1900; < NL; pl. of RESPONSUM]

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Hebrew  Sheʾelot U-teshubot 

      (“questions and answers”), replies made by rabbinic scholars in answer to submitted questions about Jewish law. These replies began to be written in the 6th century after final redaction of the Talmud and are still being formulated. Estimates of the total number of published responsa, which range in length from a few words to lengthy monographs and compendia, vary from 250,000 to 500,000. These would probably fill more than 1,000 volumes if collected together. Responsa constitute a distinctive body of Jewish religious literature.

      The questions and answers frequently deal with such practical matters as the determination of those activities that may or may not be done on the Sabbath. These questions often arise from changing social conditions and new technology. Nineteenth- and 20th-century responsa have decided such questions as whether electric appliances can be used on the Sabbath. Responsa therefore often provide an unintended historical record of cultural and technological change.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • RESPONSA — (Heb. שְׁאֵלוֹת וּתְשׁוּבוֹת; lit. queries and replies ), a rabbinic term denoting an exchange of letters in which one party consults another on a halakhic matter. Such responsa   are already mentioned in the Talmud, which tells of an inquiry… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Responsa — (Latin: plural of responsum , answers ) comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them. In JudaismIn rabbinic literature, the Responsa are known as She elot u Teshuvot (Hebrew:… …   Wikipedia

  • RESPONSA — Oracula sunt apud Poetas. Virg. Aen. l. 6. v. 799. Caspia Regna Responsis horrent Divûm. Ibid. v. 344. Hôc unô responsô animum delusit Apollo. Lucretius, l. 1. v. 737. Ex adyto tamquam cordis Responsa dedêre Sanctius, et multo certâ ratione magis …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Responsa — (lat., Mehrzahl von Responsum, f. d.), 1) (R. prudentum), die Antworten, welche die classischen römischen Juristen den bei ihnen Recht Suchenden auf ihre Anfragen ertheilten. Vor Augustus war das Ertheilen solcher R. eine freie Beschäftigung,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Responsa — Les responsa (Latin: pluriel de responsum, réponse[s] ) comprennent un corpus de décisions écrites et réglementations données par des experts en loi en réponse à des questions qui leur sont adressées. A l origine du droit romain, il s agissait de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Responsa, S. — S. Responsa (21. Oct. al. 23. April), Martyrin aus der Gesellschaft der hl. Ursula, steht bei den Boll. unter den Uebergangenen. (III. 96.) …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • responsa — plural of responsum * * * responsa see responsum …   Useful english dictionary

  • responsa — noun A body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them …   Wiktionary

  • responsa — n. questions and answers, type of Rabbinic literature in the form of letters with questions on Jewish and Halachic issues which are answered by authoritative Rabbisn. written answer by a rabbinic authority in response to a question on religion …   English contemporary dictionary

  • responsa — re·spon·sa …   English syllables

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