In 1806, Napoléon Bonaparte convened a synod of French rabbinim (mainly Alsatiens and Bordelais) to ascertain halachic opinions on a set of questions. What is the halachic standing of this synod's decisions and to whom does it apply?

On Wikipedia, the questions are discussed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Sanhedrin#Assembly_of_Notables

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    @Matt I don't think so.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 16:25
  • In my extremely handy book "Critical Documents of Jewish History" by R. Isaacs/K.Olitzky, it has the questions and responses, but only one sentence in their intro saying "Two years later the Sanhedrin was convened to enact these decisions." Obviously, it must've been applicable to the Jews in Napoleon's domain that were now French Citizens...but for how long? Until his death? Until sometime in 1808, when he rescinded some of the Jews' rights anyhow? Until later French law changed the situation? Good question.
    – Gary
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 3:24
  • It would be helpful to answer if your question elaborated on the synod's decisions. Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 15:57
  • @C.BenYosef, I would, but the only sources I have for the synod's decisions are non-Jewish sources like Wikipedia; as a result, I'd rather not rely on them. Despite my reservations, I edited in the link' Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


According to Rabbi Noson Auerbach, Napoleon's Sanhedrin had no halakhic importance whatsoever. The greatest scholar to be part of the Sanhedrin was R' David Zinsheim, whose works on Shas are edited by R' Noson Auerbach (a descendant of R' Avraham Auerbach, R' Zinsheim's in-law), and in the introduction to one of those works, "Michas Ani" (pg 21-24) he writes that the Sanhedrin was created with the intent of establishing laws that would be favorable to Napoleon, and thus the decisions of the "Sanhedrin" were very much dependent on his acceptance, and Napoleon made sure that the 71 "sages" who made up the synod were both scholars such as R' David but also "Enlightened" Jewish thinkers who would be able to outvote him. R' Noson Auerbach also published this in Yeshurun (2007, pg 995-996).

In the excellent four-volume work, "HaTakkanos B'Yisrael", published by Mossad Harav Kook, there is a small blurb in volume 4 (pg 248) about Napoleon's Sanhedrin, and he likewise states that it served only Napoleon's purpose and shouldn't be considered to have any halakhic importance.

  • Could you qualify this with information about R' Nosson Auerbach and R' David Sinzheim (proper spelling according to legal documents)? Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 23:42
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt I'm not sure what you mean. Could you please specify? (And I'm happy to fix the spelling) Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 6:12
  • Who was this particular R' Auerbach. While I am aware of the families (Yekkisch and Eastern European), I would rather some information about the source. Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 6:21
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt both R. Avraham Auerbach and R. Sinzheim have Wikipedia pages. R. Nosson Auerbach is a descendent of the former and has connections with R. Buchsbaum, that's all I can tell you sorry Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 14:51
  • When you refer to "Yeshurun (2007, pg 995-996)" do you mean this: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=46425&pgnum=751 ?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 15:03

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