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Responsa (Heb., sheʾelot u-teshuvot, ‘questions and answers’). Exchanges of letters primarily on Jewish halakhic matters. From the geonic period, the oral law was largely disseminated throughout the diaspora by means of responsa. The geonic responsa were copied and sometimes collected into kovazim (‘collections’). Unlike the geonim, the rishonim sometimes indicated doubt and used such expressions as ‘in my humble opinion’ or ‘requires further thought’. Orthodox rabbinic authorities have continued to give responsa to this day (aharonim), and the responsa literature provides an important source for the social history of the various Jewish communities through the ages.

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