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This book deals mainly with material found in a vast body of literature designated by its authors and by modern scholars as Kabbalah. Basically a medieval corpus, this literature consists of a variety of schools, trends, models, ideals, and techniques.
Alongside the formal development of Judaism from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries, a robust Jewish folk religion flourished--ideas and practices that never met with wholehearted approval by religious leaders yet enjoyed such wide popularity that they could not be altogether excluded from the religion. According to Joshua Trachtenberg, it is not possible truly to understand the experience and history of the Jewish people without attempting to recover their folklife and beliefs from centuries past.Jewish Magic and Superstition is a masterful and utterly fascinating exploration of religious forms that have all but disappeared yet persist in the imagination. The volume begins with legends of Jewish sorcery and proceeds to discuss beliefs about the evil eye, spirits of the dead, powers of good, the famous legend of the golem, procedures for casting spells, the use of gems and amulets, how to battle spirits, the ritual of circumcision, herbal folk remedies, fortune telling, astrology, and the interpretation of dreams.First published more than sixty years ago, Trachtenberg's study remains the foundational scholarship on magical practices in the Jewish world and offers an understanding of folk beliefs that expressed most eloquently the everyday religion of the Jewish people.
In this book, the world's foremost scholar of Kabbalah explores the understanding of erotic love in Jewish mystical thought. Encompassing Jewish mystical literatures from those of late antiquity to works of Polish Hasidism, Moshe Idel highlights the diversity of Kabbalistic views on eros and distinguishes between the major forms of eroticism. The author traces the main developments of a religious formula that reflects the union between a masculine divine attribute and a feminine divine attribute, and he asks why such an "erotic formula" was incorporated into the Jewish prayer book. Idel shows how Kabbalistic literature was influenced not only by rabbinic literature but also by Greek thought that helped introduce a wider understanding of eros. Addressing topics ranging from cosmic eros and androgyneity to the affinity between C. J. Jung and Kabbalah to feminist thought, Idel's deeply learned study will be of consuming interest to scholars of religion, Judaism, and feminism.
This sweeping survey of the history of Kabbalah in Italy represents a major contribution from one of the world's foremost Kabbalah scholars. The first to focus attention on a specific center of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel charts the ways that Kabbalistic thought and literature developed in Italy and how its unique geographical situation facilitated the arrival of both Spanish and Byzantine Kabbalah. Idel analyzes the work of three major Kabbalists--Abraham Abulafia, Menahem Recanati, and Yohanan Alemanno--who represent diverse schools of thought: the ecstatic, the theosophical-theurgical, and the astromagical. Directing special attention to the interactions and tensions among these forms of Jewish Kabbalah and the nascent Christian Kabbalah, Idel brings to light the rich history of Kabbalah in Italy and the powerful influence of this important center on the emergence of Christian Kabbalah and European occultism in general.