My Response: No, in Europe people were indeed really primitive. Look what was going on there in the Middle Ages, the way they lived, all the lawlessness, dirt, problems, lack of hygiene! Of course, there was wildness.
Who could read and write? Who understood history and geography? Who understood how he lives? Everyone was thinking only about how to survive. A small handful of people were busy burning away their lives, and the rest thought only about how to feed themselves.
Now they are showing us luxurious bedrooms and so on and so forth. Naturally, for the kings there was everything, and for the rest nothing. They slept like dogs on a litter and did not wash because they thought they might get sick from it.
What were they doing? What was the culture? What did they read? What did they talk about? They had none of this. I am not saying this in reproach. There were, of course, educated people, philosophers, theologians, etc. But I am talking about the masses.
The Jews for a long time maintained knowledge and a certain spiritual level. However when they fell from this level 2,000 years ago, they preserved their way of life, although it was purely external and mechanical. Study, education, upbringing, the relationship of husband and wife, children, all this has been preserved.
The book Shulchan Aruch contains the entire set of laws according to which Jews live in this world. It has not changed for 3,000 years. How to give birth, how to educate, how to cook, what is kosher, what is not kosher for eating, how to behave, marry, divorce, wash, etc., everything is specified down to the smallest details. A person is a machine; he needs instructions on how to use himself.
From KabTV’s “I Got a Call. Ancient People and Cultures of the Past” 3/8/13