This introductory chapter provides a background of David Oppenheim and his Jewish library. At the core of Oppenheim's identity and activity as a rabbi, intellectual, and communal leader stood his library. His library gained renown among Jewish colleagues and Christian contemporaries. It thus informed the decisions of local courts and distant decisors. He possessed highbrow scholarly material alongside popular pamphlets and broadsides, and he preserved diplomatic exchanges and communal ordinances in manuscript—an archive of contemporary Jewish life. Oppenheim's intellectual authority made him a much-sought-after source for endorsements for newly written books. This book then tells the story of premodern Jewish life, politics, and intellectual culture through an exploration of a book collection, the man who assembled it, and the circles of individuals who brought it into being and made use of it.
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