Berurei Averah/Averot

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BERUREI AVERAH/AVEROT (Heb. בֵּרוּרֵי עֲבֵרָה / עֲבֵרוֹת; "the elected [to control] sin"), an institution of Catalonian origin found in the Jewish communities in Spain from the second half of the 13th century and later in the *Sephardi Diaspora in the 16th and 17th centuries. The berurim were the leaders of the community, some of whom were especially appointed for special tasks. The berurei averot were responsible for people's behavior in general. Officers so appointed mainly had the authority to deal with religious and moral transgressions. There were also similar officers (berurei tevi'ot) to investigate monetary suits. Berurei averot had the authority to impose punishments such as expulsion, excommunication, and flogging on guilty persons. The communities of Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca had two or three such officers, while in Aragon this function was included in the duties of the *adelantados. A legend about Isaac b. Solomon *Luria in 16th-century Safed conveys the atmosphere in which this body practiced its activities: "It happened that the sages of Safed appointed ten men concerning transgressions, all of them learned and wise." One of them looked out of his window early in the morning and saw a well-dressed woman. He followed her, and seeing her enter the courtyard of a man of light morals, "immediately after the end of the morning prayers ordered the beadle to call together his fellow appointees over transgressions, and [stated that] he would testify before them concerning a transgression that he had himself seen." While they were in assembly Luria proved miraculously to the accuser that his suspicions were unfounded.


Baer, Urkunden, 1 pt. 1 (1929), index s.v.berurim do avero; Baer, Spain, index; M. Benayahu (ed.), Sefer Toledot ha-Ari (1967), 159–60. add. bibliography: Y. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry (1997), 87, 104, 111, 315.