Rabbi Judah Moscato and the Jewish Intellectual World of Mantua in the 16th-17th Centuries by Giuseppe Veltri and Gianfranco Miletto (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) Judah ben Joseph Moscato (c.1533-1590) was one of the most distinguished rabbis, authors, and preachers of the Italian-Jewish Renaissance. This volume is a record of the proceedings of an international conference, organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), and Mantua's State Archives. It consists of contributions on Moscato and the intellectual world in Mantua during the 16th and 17th centuries. More
Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis by Edward L. Goldberg (Toronto Italian Studies: University of Toronto Press) In the seventeenth century, Florence was the wealthy capital of the Medici Grand Dukedom of Tuscany. But amid all the affluence splendour, the Jews in its tiny Ghetto struggled to earn a living by any possible means, including loan-sharking and rag-picking. They were often regarded as a mysterious people gifted with rare supernatural powers. From their ranks arose Benedetto Blanis, a businessman and aspiring scholar from a distinguished Ghetto dynasty who sought to parlay his alleged mastery of astrology, alchemy, and Kabbalah into a grand position at the Medici Court. He gradually won the patronage of Don Giovanni dei Medici, a scion of the ruling family, and for six tumultuous years their lives were inextricably linked. More
On the Question of the "Cessation of Prophecy" in Ancient Judaism
by L. Stephen Cook (Texts & Studies in
Ancient Judaism: Mohr Siebeck) Recent decades have witnessed a virtual explosion of studies
examining various aspects of Second Temple Judaism, and no slowdown
appears on the horizon. These studies seek to elucidate, among other
things, the religious and historical situation from which
Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism emerged. As part of this ongoing
effort, the present work seeks to identify and examine attitudes
about the status of prophets and prophecy in this complex phase of
A variety of Jewish texts from the Second Temple and rabbinic periods seem to reflect the view that Israelite prophecy ceased during the Persian period, around the beginning of the Second Temple era. Up until the twentieth century, scholars generally regarded these ancient texts as presenting a relatively uniform, consistent picture of the historical process of the cessation of prophecy. Some authors still hold to this assessment; in recent decades, however, others have pointed to numerous ancient texts which refer to prophetic activity occurring well beyond the point of its supposed cessation. These scholars therefore hold that the claim that prophecy ceased was simply one view in antiquity, and not necessarily representative of a larger consensus. According to these authors, the evidence of prophetic activity in the Second Temple period either contradicts ancient claims of prophecy's demise, or else exposes these claims as polemical attempts to counter belief in the legitimacy of prophecy during this period. Contemporary scholarship is therefore divided on whether to regard the sources which allege the absence of prophets/prophecy as reliable characterizations of the religious atmosphere of the Second Temple period. More
Judah Moscato Sermons: Edition and Translation, Volume Two by Judah ben Joseph Moscato (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) This second volume of Judah Moscato's work contains scholarly editions and translations of his Sermons 11-29 following the same standards and guidelines explained in the introduction to the first volume. This volume will be followed by two others with the remaining sermons and another containing the proceedings of an international conference on Moscato that was jointly organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) and Mantua's State Archives and held in Mantua (Italy), Judah Moscato's hometown, in July 2009. The latter volume, while constituting a useful tool for locating the scholarship of the Mantuan preacher, as well as providing an analysis of his intellectual environment, is nevertheless no substitute for a separate volume containing Moscato's own words, which can be furnished only by publication and translation of his sermons, a project hopefully to be completed soon.
The sermons deal with various topics: the social and moral duties of man toward God, toward his fellow man, and toward himself (sermon ii); the use of rhetoric for interpreting and teaching of Torah (sermons 12, 17); the benefit to be derived from learning the Torah explained in philosophical terms and the method of teaching the Torah (sermons 13, 19); the relationship between Torah and the sciences (sermon 14); the interpretation of the liturgical feast of Sukkot and the symbolical meaning of the lulav (sermons 15 and 17); the structure of the yeshivah according to the pattern of the Sanctuary and of the world (sermon 16); the attainment of happiness through speculation and action (sermon i8); the sanctity of Israel on Yom Kippur (sermon 2o); why Israel is to be thankful to God as much as possible in thought, speech, and action (sermon 21); the power of charity (sermons 22 and 23); the great responsibility of man in making a vow to God (sermon 24); the education of children and the importance of marriage (sermons 25 and 26); the corruption of the virtuous man and the power of repentance and circumcision (sermon 28 and 29). More
Creating Fictional Worlds: Peshat-Exegesis and Narrativity in Rashbam's Commentary on the Torah by Hanna Liss (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill) R. Samuel ben Mar (b. 1085) wrote his Torah commentary at a point in time when the French masters of Bible collected their glossae, but he wrote it also at the point in time that we today consider to be the turning point in 'lay literacy,' when the Anglo-Norman aristocracy patronized the production of romances. In the first half of the 12th century, Northern France was a vibrant spot. It was an era in which composing, reading, and listening to narratives and stories intensified as a complex cultural phenomenon. This book presents the idea that Rashbam tried to compete with this new intellectual movement, claiming that the literary quality of the biblical texts was at least as good as that of the nascent courtly romances, or even on a par with one another. More
Christian Conceptions of Jewish Books: The Pfefferkorn Affair by Avner Shamir (Museum Tusculanum Press) explores the conflicting perceptions that Christians held of the meaning and significance of Jewish books at the beginning of the 16th century - a time when, following their general expulsion from many countries and territories, there were fewer Jews in western and central Europe than in the previous thousand years. The book tells the story of the so-called "Pfefferkorn affair": a tenacious campaign led by the German Johann Pfefferkorn - previously a Jew and converted to Christianity - to confiscate and burn all Jewish post-biblical literature in the Holy Roman Empire in the years 1509-1510. The author follows the fate of the confiscated books and their examination by a commission of experts, exploring how Christians perceived Jewish scholarship and knowledge and the consequences of those perceptions. More
The Martyrdom of a Moroccan Jewish Saint by Sharon Vance(Brill's Series in Jewish Studies:Brill Academic) The martyrdom in 1834 of Sol Hatchuel, a Jewish girl from Tangier, traumatized the Jewish community and inspired a literary response in Morocco and beyond. This study focuses on works written in the first century after her death in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo- Spanish-Spanish and French that tell her story and interpret its meaning. The author places both the event and the texts that narrate it in their historical context and shows how its significance changed in each language and literary setting. The texts, prose and poetic laments by North African rabbis and a romantic feuilleton from the Judeo-Spanish press, and their historical context reveal the complex relations between Jews and Muslims in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and the intersection between religious polemics and gender discourse. More
Judah Moscato Sermons: Edition and Translation, Volume One by Gianfranco Miletto and Giuseppe Veltri (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) Judah ben Joseph Moscato (c.1533–1590) was one of the most distinguished rabbis, authors, and preachers of the Italian-Jewish Renaissance. The book Sefer Nefusot Yehudah belongs to the very centre of his important homiletic and philosophical oeuvre. Composed in Mantua and published in Venice in 1589, the collection of 52 sermons addresses the subject of the Jewish festivals, focusing on philosophy, mysticism, sciences and rites. This and subsequent volumes will provide a critical edition of the original Hebrew text, accompanied by an English translation. All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Jewish philosophy, homiletics, philologists, theologians, and specialists of Hebraic and Italian culture. More
Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla's Hermeneutics by Elke Morlok (Mohr Siebeck) Elke Morlok deals with the hermeneutics of R. Joseph Gikatilla, one of the most outstanding and influential kabbalists of medieval Jewish mysticism. His literary creativity falls onto the last decades of the 13th century, when very innovative ideas on kabbalah and its hermeneutics were developed and formulated for the first time. The author analyzes several key concepts throughout his writings such as his ideas on letter combination, symbol, memory, imagination and ritual and their varying functions within the hermeneutical and theosophic structures that underlie Gikatilla's approach. With the application of methods derived from modern theories on language and literature, she tries to create the basis for a fruitful encounter between medieval mystical hermeneutics and postmodern hermeneutical approaches. As Gikatilla incorporates two main trends of kabbalistic thinking during the medieval period, he was one of the most valuable sources for Christian thinkers interested in medieval kabbalistic thought. More
on Genesis: An Invitation to Piyyut by Laura S. Lieber (Hebrew
Union College Press) Required Reading for All of Us
Once in a while, not often enough, a book comes out that represents a tectonic shift in its field as well as others. This volume is such a book, and after six months of perusing it, I remain impressed by the author’s erudition, creativity, and contribution not only to piyyut studies, but also to Jewish, Hebrew, and Byzantine studies in general.
The study of piyyut is enjoying a boom, thanks mostly to the increasing accessibility of Genizah material. This has in turn vastly deepened our understanding of liturgical history, synagogue life, and the wider Byzantine Jewish culture. However, familiarity with piyyut has not spread much beyond a niche of cognoscenti, because the secondary literature has been mostly written in Hebrew and the poems are usually regarded as impenetrable. Popular association of piyyutim with lengthy, boring synagogue services probably exacerbates the disinterest. Thus undergraduate and MA Jewish studies students and their instructors (in the North American world at least), not to mention clergy and laity, remain largely ignorant of this literary and liturgical phenomenon and its implications. More
The Kabbalistic Culture of Eighteenth-Century Prague: Ezekiel Landau (the 'Noda Biyehudah') and His Contemporaries by Sharon Flatto (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization: Littman) This is the first critical account of the life and writings of Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi of Prague from 1754 to 1793 and one of the most significant figures of eighteenth-century Jewish history. His counsel was sought by a wide spectrum of rabbinic leaders, scholars, and laity, and his writings continue to shape Jewish law and rabbinic thought to this day. This study reconstructs the intellectual world of the traditional society in which Landau lived. In doing so it emphasizes the dominance of rabbinic culture in the city at this period, the importance of kabbalistic ideas and practices, and its numerous distinguished figures and institutions. In focusing on the city's vibrant rabbinic culture and analysing the spiritual trends that animated it, it demonstrates that Prague's late eighteenth-century rabbinate was more influential, more conservative, and less open to modernization and Haskalah than previously recognized, and shaped more by eastern European Jewish culture rather than by Western influences. Landau is best known for his authorship of the rabbinical responsa published as Noda Biyehudah and is generally seen as staunchly opposed to esoteric practices. This study challenges that view, exposing the central importance of kabbalah in Landau's works and thought and showing that he frequently blended teachings from diverse kabbalistic schools and trends in a syncretic and original manner. It also identifies the factors underlying his reluctance to discuss kabbalah publicly. Instead of focusing solely on the history of events, this work examines the ideas that remained widespread among Prague Jews despite the tumultuous times in which they lived. Landau devoted much of his career to shaping the values and practices of his community and frequently tailored his works to their needs, beliefs, and mentalities. Accordingly, his writings and numerous other contemporary sources provide us with a unique glimpse into the spiritual and psychological world of eighteenth-century Prague Jews. All Landau's rabbinic writings are utilized in this book, as well as a variety of archival and published German, Yiddish, and Hebrew sources. By unraveling and examining the many diverse threads that were interwoven into the fabric of Prague's eighteenth-century Jewish life, this study offers a more complete portrayal of rabbinic culture during the last years that it thrived in one of most important centres of European Jewry. More
Rabbinic Parodies of Jewish and Christian
Literature by Holger Michael
Zellentin (Texts and Studies in
Ancient Judaism, 139: Mohr Siebeck)
Do the Talmud and Midrash engage in
Holger Michael Zellentin seeks to assess how
the classical rabbis
imitate previous texts with comical
result shows rabbinic society and its
literature participating confidently in the
great debates of the Byzantine and the Sasanian Empires, commenting on issues such
as pedagogy, abstinence, dream
interpretation, inheritance law, ritual
purity, and Christian supersessionism and
asceticism. In constant conversation with
the Hebrew Bible, the rabbis reveal
themselves as capable of critically
Jewish tradition, as well as of playfully
engaging select Gospel passages favoured by
their Christian interlocutors.
Parody is constituted by literary repetition of a text in a manner that introduces some variation; most succinctly put, it is repetition with a difference. The Late Antique Rabbis, however, habitually repeat tradition in new contexts, creating difference devoid of parody. How, then, do we recognize parodic difference? The following story from the Palestinian Talmud (henceforth: Yerushalmi) marks its repetition of Scripture as grotesquely different and thereby as charged with parody. More
The Legal Methodology of Late Nehardean
Sages in Sasanian Babylonia by Barak S. Cohen (Brill
Reference Library of Judaism: Brill) This book consists of a systematic analysis of the halakhic/legal
methodology of fourth and fifth century Nehardean amoraim in
Babylonia (as well as their identity and dating). The book
uncovers various distinct characteristics present in the
halakhic decision making and source interpretation, and
demonstrates how certain amoraim can be characterized as
portraying consistent interpretive and legal approaches
throughout talmudic literature. Understanding the methodological
characteristics that distinguish some amoraim from other amoraim
can aid the talmudic interpreter/scholar in clarifying the legal
foundations of their rulings, the proofs that they bring within
talmudic discourse, as well as their disputes and
interpretations. This allows a better understanding of the
development of Jewish law and the legal system in talmudic
Barak S. Cohen, Ph.D. (2004) in Talmud and Rabbinics, is a lecturer at the Department of Talmud, Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University. He has published extensively on the intellectual history, chronology and historiography of the Babylonian Amoraim. More
The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture by Judith R. Baskin and Kenneth Seeskin (Comprehensive Surveys of Religion: Cambridge University Press) is a comprehensive and engaging overview of Jewish life, from its origins in the ancient Near East to its impact on contemporary popular culture. The twenty-one essays, arranged historically and thematically, and written specially for this volume by leading scholars, examine the development of Judaism and the evolution of Jewish history and culture over many centuries and in a range of locales. They emphasize the ongoing diversity and creativity of the Jewish experience. Unlike previous anthologies, which concentrate on elite groups and expressions of a male-oriented rabbinic culture, this volume also includes the range of experiences of ordinary people and looks at the lives and achievements of women in every place and era. The many illustrations, maps, timeline, and glossary of important terms enhance this book's accessibility to students and general readers. More
Kabbalah and Modernity edited by Boaz. Huss, Marco Pasi, and C.K.M. von Stuckrad (Aries Book Series: Brill) The persistence of kabbalistic groups in the twentieth century has largely been ignored or underestimated by scholars of religion. Only recently have scholars began to turn their attention to the many-facetted roles that kabbalistic doctrines and schools have played in nineteenth- and twentieth-century culture. Often, and necessarily, this new interest and openness went along with a contextualization and revaluation of earlier scholarly approaches to kabbalah. This volume brings together leading representatives of this ongoing debate in order to break new ground for a better understanding and conceptualization of the role of kabbalah in modern religious, intellectual, and political discourse. More
The Philosophy of the Talmud by Hyam Maccoby (Routledge) This is a new presentation of the philosophy of the Talmud. The Talmud is not a work of formal philosophy, but much of what it says is relevant to philosophical enquiry of the kind that has been going on recently. In particular, the Talmud has original ideas about the relation between-universal ethics and the ethics of a particular community. This leads into discussion about the relation between morality and ritual, and also about the epistemological role of tradition. Governing the discussion is a theory of logic that differs significantly from Greek logic. Talmudic logic is one of analogy, not classification, and is peculiarly suitable for the discussion of moral and legal human situations. More
Significance of Yavneh & Other Essays in Jewish Hellenism
by Shaye J. D. Cohen(Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism) This
volume collects thirty essays by Shaye J.D. Cohen. First published
between 1980 and 2006, these essays deal with a wide variety of
themes and texts: Jewish Hellenism; Josephus; the Synagogue;
Conversion to Judaism; Blood and Impurity; the boundary between
Judaism and Christianity. What unites them is their philological
orientation. Many of these essays are close studies of obscure
passages in Jewish and Christian texts.
The essays are united too by their common assumption that the ancient world was a single cultural continuum; that ancient Judaism, in all its expressions and varieties, was a Hellenism; and that texts written in Hebrew share a world of discourse with those written in Greek. Many of these essays are well-known and have been much discussed in contemporary scholarship. Among these are: "The Significance of Yavneh" (the title essay), "Patriarchs and Scholarchs," "Masada: Literary Tradition, Archaeological Remains, and the Credibility of Josephus," "Epigraphical Rabbis," "The Conversion of Antoninus," "Menstruants and the Sacred in Judaism and Christianity," and "A Brief History of Jewish Circumcision Blood." More
Jewish Mysticism and Magic: An Anthropological
Perspective by Maureen Bloom (Routledge)
Jewish Mysticism and Magic: An
Anthropological Perspective explores the origins
of mysticism in Judaism and the associated
development of the Jewish magical tradition.
Using the methodology of structural analysis and the theory of structural transformation, texts of early and late antiquity are analysed with reference to symbolic rites and rituals. Scriptural and Talmudic texts resonate with ideas of 'sacred and mundane' and ritual 'purity and impurity' and reflect a worldview where an omnipotent God governed a cosmos in which disorder vied with order. Particular features include:
This wide-ranging study provides a unique anthropological perspective on Jewish mysticism and magic and will be essential reading for students and scholars who are interested in Jewish studies, anthropology and mysticism. More
Studies in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity (texts in French & English) by edited by Dan Jaffe (Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity: Brill Academic) The question of the origins of Christianity is a theme still discussed in historical research. This book investigates the relations between the Rabbinic Judaism and the Primitive Christianity. It studies the factors of influences, the polemics in the texts and factors of mutual conceptions between two new movements: Rabbinical Judaism and Primitive Christianity. Finally it offers an analysis of the perception of Christianity in the corpus of talmudic literature. More
Talmud in Its Iranian Context edited by Carol Bakhos, M. Rahim Shayegan
(Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism: Mohr Siebeck) Scholars of rabbinics and Iranists are increasingly turning to the
orbit of Iranian civilization in order to explore the extent to
which the Babylonian Talmud was exposed to the theological and
liturgical discourse of the Zoroastrian religion, as well as
Sasanian legal practices. Here possibly for the first time, scholars
within these fields are brought together in concert to examine the
interaction between Jewish and Iranian cultures in terms of legal
exegesis, literature, and religious thought. The implications of
this groundbreaking effort are vastly significant for Jewish and
This volume reflects cutting edge scholarship in the field of rabbinics and Iranian Studies by exploring the Iranian background of one of the cornerstones of the Jewish tradition, the Babylonian Talmud, which was composed under the rule of Sasanian emperors. More
Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider by James A. Diamond (University of Notre Dame Press) In this remarkable book, James A. Diamond continues his project of close and sensitive readings of the Maimonidean corpus. Taking the Rambam at his word in the introduction to the Guide of the Perplexed, Diamond leads us into the inner recesses of that and other works to revel in the master’s religious and poetic artistry, thereby revealing something of the hidden desires and fractures in Maimonides’ positioning of philosophy vis-à-vis religion. Focusing on metaphors and related tropes, Diamond sets his gaze on a cast of outsiders--those “who do not quite fit any broad societal norm”--to show how Maimonides transformed them into a set of philosophical archetypes, symbolizing “notions that are marginal and that, in turn, marginalize” (p. 6). In so doing, Diamond convincingly articulates a series of characters/symbols that have the paradoxical power to uncover the secrets of the “Garden” just as they defer its realization by generating further perplexity. More
Tuning the Soul: Music As a Spiritual Process in the Teachings of Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlavby Chani Haran Smith (IJS Studies in Judaica: Brill Academic) is an in-depth study of the function of music in religious experience according to Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav. It provides new insights on his unique doctrine of the “Good Points”, which represent the core of loving kindness and holiness in the human soul, and the musical context in which they become both a means and a metaphor for spiritual transformation. Drawing on midrashic and kabbalistic sources, the book explores Nahman’s perception of different types of “tzadiqim” (religious leaders), including himself, and the special role music plays in their leadership. It highlights the importance of creativity and renewal in the messianic process that involves both music and loving kindness. All those interested in key aspects of Nahman of Bratzlav’s world view and self-perception, the place and transforming power of music in human life, spirituality and religious leadership. More
New Perspectives on Old Texts: Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 9–11 January, 2005 Edited by Esther G. Chazon & Betsy Halpern-Amaru, in collaboration with Ruth A. Clements (STDJ: Studies on the Texts in the Desert of Judah, 88: Brill) This volume presents new perspectives on the ancient texts discovered at Qumran. The essays offer fresh insights into particular texts and genres, by applying methods and constructs drawn from other disciplines to the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and by exploring new as well as long-standing issues raised by these works. The topics and approaches engaged include group identity, memory, ritual theory, sectarian sociology, philosophy of education, liturgical anthropology, Jewish law, history of religion, and mysticism. The articles in this volume were originally presented at the Tenth Annual International Orion Symposium sponsored in 2005 by the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. More
A Journey into the Zohar: An Introduction to the Book of Radiance by Nathan Wolski (State University of New York Press: SUNY) The crowning work of medieval Kabbalah, the Zohar is unlike any other work in the Jewish canon. Written in Aramaic, the Zohar contains complex mystical exegesis as well as a delightful epic narrative about the Companions--a group of sages who wander through second-century Israel discussing the Torah while encountering children, donkey drivers, and other surprising figures who reveal profound mysteries to them. Nathan Wolski offers original translations of episodes involving this mystical fellowship and goes on to provide a sustained reading of each. With particular emphasis on the literary and performative dimensions of the composition, Wolski takes the reader on a journey through the central themes and motifs of the zoharic world: kabbalistic hermeneutics, the structure of divinity, the nature of the soul, and, above all, the experiential core of the Zohar--the desire to be saturated and intoxicated with the flowing fluids of divinity. A Journey into the Zohar opens the mysterious, wondrous, and at times bewildering universe of one of the masterpieces of world mystical literature to a wider community of scholars, students, and general readers alike. More
Berakhyah Ben Natronai ha-Nakdan, Sefer Ko’ah Ha-Avanim (On the Virtue of the Stones). Hebrew Text and English Translation. With a Lexicological Analysis of the Romance Terminology and Source Study by Gerrit Bos and Julia Zwink (Brill Academic) The lore of the supposed magic and medical virtue of stones goes back to the Babylonians and peaks out in the lapidary literature of the Middle Ages. The famous work of Marbode of Rennes, which made lapidaries a very popular type of medieval scientific literature, was translated into numerous vernacular languages. The Jewish tradition, missing a particular lapidary literature of its own, absorbed non-Jewish works like that of Marbode. Several Anglo-Norman Marbode translations could be identified as the main source of the present edited Hebrew lapidary Ko’ah Ha-Avanim, written by Berakhyah Ben Natronai ha-Nakdan around 1300. The edition is accompanied by an English translation, a source study, and a linguistic analysis of the Romance, mostly Anglo-Norman, terms featuring within the text in Hebrew spelling. More
Messianic Mysticism: Moses Hayim Luzzatto and the Padua School by Isaiah Tishby (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization: Oxford University Press) Kabbalists and Messiahs in Eighteenth-Century Italy: Moses Hayim Luzzatto (1707-46) was undoubtedly one of the most important thinkers and fascinating personalities of eighteenth-century Italian Jewry. The scion of an influential Jewish family in Padua, Luzzatto’s life and literary legacy project a distinctly contradictory set of images. At once a poet, playwright, moralist, kabbalist, self-fashioned leader of a messianic group, radical prophet, and exiled accused heretic, Luzzatto nonetheless came to be celebrated by Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, as well as secular Jews of later generations. His works, especially Mesilat Yesharim and Derekh ha-Shem, have been copiously reprinted in many editions and remain popular to this day. Isaiah Tishby’s contribution to the study of Luzzatto, both in terms of manuscript work as well as critical analysis, is of seminal importance, and the translations of his Hebrew studies of Luzzatto that appear in this volume are an invaluable asset to English readership. More
Renaissance and Rebirth: Reincarnation in Early Modern Italian Kabbalah by Brian Ogren (Studies in Jewish History and Culture: Brill Academic) Metempsychosis was a prominent element in Renaissance conceptualizations of the human being, the universe, and the place of the human person in the universe. A variety concepts emerged in debates about metempsychosis: human to human reincarnation, human to vegetal, human to animal, and human to angelic transmigration. As a complex and changing doctrine, metempsychosis gives us a well-placed window for viewing the complex and dynamic contours of Jewish thought in late fifteenth century Italy; as such, it enables us to evaluate Jewish thought in relation to non-Jewish Italian developments. This book addresses the problematic question of the roles and achievements of Jews who lived in Italy in the development of Renaissance culture in its Jewish and its Christian dimensions. More
A River Flows from Eden: The Language of
Mystical Experience in the Zohar
by Melila Hellner-Eshed
(Stanford University Press) In the Zohar,
the jewel in the crown of Jewish mystical
literature, the verse "A river flows from Eden
to water the garden" (Genesis 2:10) symbolizes
the river of divine plenty that unceasingly
flows from the depths of divinity into the
garden of reality.
Hellner-Eshed's book investigates the flow of this river in the world of the Zoharic heroes, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and his disciples, as they embark upon their wondrous spiritual adventures. By focusing on the Zohar's language of mystical experience and its unique features, the author is able to provide remarkable scholarly insight into the mystical dimensions of the Zohar, namely the human quest for an enhanced experience of the living presence of the divine and the Zohar's great call to awaken human consciousness. More
The Origins of Jewish Mysticism by Peter Schafer (Princeton University Press) Release date September 2010
The Origins of Jewish Mysticism von
Peter Schäfer (Mohr Siebeck) June 2009
This book provides the reader for the
first time with a history of pre-kabbalistic
Jewish mysticism. It covers a wide range
of quite diverse literatures, from the
biblical book of
Ezekiel to the ascent apocalypses, the
Qumran literature, Philo, Rabbinic
literature, and finally the Hekhalot
literature, which constitutes the first
full-fledged mystical movement in late
antiquity (Merkavah mysticism). Instead
of imposing on these different
literatures a preconceived notion of
"mysticism," Peter Schafer offers
a close reading of the
key texts and asks what they wish to
convey about the age-old human desire to
get close to and communicate with God.
The author of this book has dedicated much of his scholarly life to the history of Jewish mysticism. The Origins of Jewish Mysticism summarizes his views in an accessible way, directed at specialists as well as at a broader audience. More
Sefer Yesira by A. Peter Hayman (Hardcover, Mohr Siebeck) This the first comprehensive critical edition of a text which was a fundamental influence on Jewish thought in the medieval period and has continued to fascinate scholars and students of Judaism to the present day. It was initially understood to be a philosophical text which had descended by oral tradition from Abraham himself. It purports to tell us how God created the world using the ten sefiroth (the Spirit of the living God, air, water and fire, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet). With its English translation of the three earliest recensions and its commentary on the variant early texts of the work, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the growth and emergence of the Jewish mystical movement. There are four appendices setting out what parts of the text are attested in each of the manuscripts and in what order, a hypothetical reconstructed text and the text of the tenth century Vatican scroll of Sefer Yesira with the probable added material underlined. More
Traditions of Maimonideanism by Carlos Fraenkel (IJS Studies in Judaica: Brill Academic) The goal of the present volume is to shed light on a number of traditions of Maimonideanism that have hitherto little been explored. Maimonides (1138-1204) was the most important medieval Jewish philosopher and also made lasting contributions to many other fields. The essays in the first part examine aspects of his work in medicine, Jewish law, and liturgy. The essays in the second part look at how Maimonides was read, misread, and creatively reinvented in a wide range of contexts in the East and in the West—from medieval Cairo to Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Written by a group of leading scholars, the essays illustrate the breadth of Maimonides' work, and the fascinating history of its reception from the thirteenth century to the present. More
The Cultures of Maimonideanism by James T. Robinson(Supplements to the Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy: Brill Academic) In the history of Jewish thought, no individual scholar has exercised more influence than Maimonides (1138-1204)—philosopher and physician, legal scholar and communal leader. This collection of papers, originating at the 2007 EAJS colloquium, places primary emphasis on this influence—not on Maimonides himself, but on the many movements he inspired. Using Maimonideanism as an interpretive lens, the authors of this volume—representing a variety of fields and disciplines—develop new approaches to and fresh perspectives on the peculiar dynamic of Judaism and philosophy. Focusing on social and cultural processes as well as philosophical ideas and arguments, they point toward an original reconceptualization of Jewish thought. More
Jewish World Around the New Testament: Collected Essays I (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament) by Richard Bauckham (Mohr Siebeck) This is a collection of twenty-four essays first published by Richard Bauckham between 1976 and 2008, some of which have been updated for this volume. Many aspects of the literature and thought of early Judaism are covered. There are discussions of 'the parting of the ways' between early Judaism and early Christianity and of the relevance of early Jewish literature for the study of the New Testament. Other essays throw light on specific aspects or texts of early Christianity by relating them to their early Jewish context. These include studies of the delay of the parousia, the restoration of Israel in Luke-Acts, and the use of Latin names by Paul and other Jews in the early Christian movement. The essays in this volume result from the author's conviction, throughout his career, that the New Testament texts can only be under-stood adequately through wide-ranging and detailed study of the Judaism of the late Second Temple period. More
Philo of Alexandria and Post-Aristotelian Philosophy edited by Francesca
Alesse (Studies in Philo of Alexandria: Brill) The essays collected in this
volume focus on the role played by the philosophy of the Hellenistic, or
post-Aristotelian age (from the school of the successors of Aristotle,
Theophrastus and other Peripatetics, Epicurus, Sceptical Academy and Stoicism,
to neo-Pythagorenism and the schools of Antiochus and Eudorus) in Philo of
Despite many authoritative studies on Philo's vision of Greek philosophy as an exegetical tool in allegorizing the Scripture, there is not such a comprehensive overview in Philo’s treatises that takes in account both the progress achieved in the recent interpretation of Hellenistic philosophy and analysis of ancient doxographical literature.
Introduction, Francesca Alesse
Philo and Hellenistic Doxography, David T. Runia
Philo and post-Aristotelian Peripatetics, Robert W. Sharples
Moses against the Egyptian: The Anti-Epicurean Polemic in Philo, Graziano Ranocchia
La conversion du scepticisme chez Philon d’Alexandrie, Carlos Lévy
Philo on Stoic Physics, Anthony A. Long
Philo and Stoic Ethics. Reflections on the Idea of Freedom, Roberto Radice
Philo of Alexandria on Stoic and Platonist Psycho-Physiology: The Socratic Higher Ground, Gretchen Reydams-Schils
Philo of Alexandria and the Origins of the Stoic "propatheiai", Margaret Graver
Philo and Hellenistic Platonism, John Dillon
Towards Transcendence: Philo and the Renewal of Platonism in the Early Imperial Age, Mauro Bonazzi More
The Land of the Body: Studies in Philo's Representation of Egypt
by Sarah J. K. Pearce (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen
Testament: Mohr Siebeck) presents the first extended study of the
representation of Egypt in the writings of Philo of Alexandria.
Philo is a crucial witness, not only to the experiences of the Jews
of Alexandria, but to the world of early Roman Egypt in general.
As historians of Roman Alexandria and Egypt are well aware, we have access to very few voices from inside the country in this era; Philo is the best we have. As a commentator on Jewish Scripture, Philo is also one of the most valuable sources for the interpretation of Egypt in the Pentateuch. He not only writes very extensively on this subject, but he does so in ways that are remarkable for their originality when compared with the surviving literature of ancient Judaism. More
Like Angels on Jacob's Ladder: Abraham Abulafia, the Franciscans, and Joachimism by Harvey J. Hames (State University of New York Press: SUNY) explores the career of Abraham Abulafia (ca. 1240-1291), self-proclaimed Messiah and founder of the school of ecstatic Kabbalah. Active in southern Italy and Sicily where Franciscans had adopted the apocalyptic teachings of Joachim of Fiore, Abulafia believed the end of days was approaching and saw himself as chosen by God to reveal the Divine truth. He appropriated Joachite ideas, fusing them with his own revelations, to create an apocalyptic and messianic scenario that he was certain would attract his Jewish contemporaries and hoped would also convince Christians. From his focus on the centrality of the Tetragrammaton (the four letter ineffable Divine name) to the date of the expected redemption in 1290 and the coming together of Jews and Gentiles in the inclusiveness of the new age, Abulafia's engagement with the apocalyptic teachings of some of his Franciscan contemporaries enriched his own worldview. Though his messianic claims were a result of his revelatory experiences and hermeneutical reading of the Torah, they were, to no small extent, dependent on his historical circumstances and acculturation. More
The Art of Conversion: Christianity and Kabbalah in the Thirteenth
Century by Harvey J. Hames (Medieval Mediterranean: Brill
Academic) discusses Ramon Llull (ca. 1232-1316), the Christian
missionary, philosopher and mystic, his relations with Jewish
contemporaries, and how he integrated Jewish mystical teachings (Kabbalah)
into his thought system so as to persuade the Jews to convert.
Issues dealt with include Llull's attitude towards the Jews, his
knowledge of Kabbalah, his theories regarding the Trinity and
Incarnation (the Art), and the impact of his ideas on the Jewish
community. The book challenges conventional scholarly opinion
regarding Christian knowledge of contemporary Jewish thought and
questions the assumption that Christians did not know or use
Kabbalah before the Renaissance. Further, it suggests that Lull was
well aware of ongoing intellectual and religious controversies
within the Jewish community, as well as being the first Christian to
acknowledge and appreciate Kabbalah as a tool for conversion. For a
recent piece of scholarship Hames has done much to revise and
clarify interreligious esoteric relationships and influences of
Christian monasticism upon the formation of Kabbalah and vice versa.
The story is just becoming known and is likely to suggest more
surprises in the future.
Ramon Llull lived an interreligious vision, where he took instruction in Sufism and mystical Kabbalah. In his epoch making Book of Lover and Beloved her writes:
“Two lovers met. One of them revealed his beloved and the other understood him.
The question arose as to which of the two was nearer his beloved, and my answer to this the lover had knowledge of the demonstration of the Trinity. More
Intertextuality in the Tales of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav: A Close Reading of Sippurey Ma'asiyot by Marianne Schleicher (Numen Book Series: Brill Academic Publishers) Until 1806, Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1810) disseminated his thoughts on redemption through homilies. In 1806, however, Nahman chose the genre of tales as an additional and innovative means of religious discourse. An academic close reading of all of the tales, known as Sippurey Ma'asiyot, has not yet been undertaken. As the first comprehensive scholarly work on the whole selection of tales and contrary to previous scholarship, this book does not reduce the tales to biographical expressions of Nahman's tormented soul and messianic aspirations. Instead, it treats them as religious literature where the concept of "intertextuality" is considered essential to explain how Nahman defines his theology of redemption and invites his listeners and readers to appropriate his religious world-view. More
Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust edited by Steven T. Katz, Shlomo Biderman, Gershon Greenberg (Oxford University Press) (Paperback) this volume presents a wide-ranging, extremely diverse selection of Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust. It is the most complete anthology of its kind, bringing together for the first time a large sample of ultra-orthodox sources produced during the war and Just after its end, translated from the Hebrew and Yiddish; a substantial selection of essays, originally written in Hebrew, by Israeli thinkers; and a broad sampling of works by Amencan and European philosophers and theologians. These diverse selections represent virtually every significant theological position that has been articulated by a Jewish thinker in response to the Holocaust. More
Rereading the Mishnah: A New Approach to Ancient Jewish Texts by Judith Hauptman (Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism: Paul Mohr Verlag) An important historical reworking of the development of the tradition.
There are two main arguments to this volume. The first is that not only are individual passages of the Mishnah based on individual, parallel passages of the Tosefta, but even entire chapters of the Mishnah are based on entire chapters of the Tosefta. If one were to line up all the Tosefta paragraphs that give rise to Mishnah paragraphs, they would join together to form a vast network. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that there existed an ordered collection of tannaitic passages that preceded the Mishnah and served as one of its sources. That collection was the Tosefta.
Judaism, Science, and Moral Responsibility edited by Yitzhak Berger (The Orthodox Forum: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) (Paperback) Do human beings have free will? Are they genuinely responsible for their actions? These questions have persisted throughout the history of philosophy, but in the twenty-first century they have become more sharply and clearly defined than ever. Indeed, a vivid and mighty tension impacts today's intellectual struggles over free will. On the one hand, the rapid advances of several empirical disciplines, notably neuropsychology and genetics, threaten our instinctive affirmation that free will and moral responsibility exist. On the other hand, the depth and force of our instincts—our powerful intuition that there is free will, that there is moral responsibility—present, for most people, an almost impenetrable barrier against the sweeping denial of free will suggested by empirical research. The chapters in this volume address this tension from a dual vantage point. While drawing heavily upon traditional Jewish texts and teachings, they also offer a blend of scientific, philosophical, psychological, and social insights into this most mystifying of topics. In addition, they illuminate the concept of repentance, a transformation of character that ranks in much of Jewish literature as the highest expression of free will. More
Man and Theogony in the Lurianic Cabala by Daphne Freedman (Gorgias Press) After the establishment of the Zoharic corpus amongst leading rabbis, no major changes took place in Jewish esoterism until the middle of the 16th century, when in Safed (in Upper Galilee, Palestine; present-day Zefat, Israel) a religious centre of extreme importance for Judaism was established, which was mainly inspired by teachers coming from families expelled from Spain. Until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) and during the two generations that followed it, the Kabbalistic literary output had certainly been abundant, in Spain till the expulsion as well as in Italy and the Middle East; but it was primarily a matter of systematizing or even popularizing the Zohar or of extending the speculation already developed in the 13th century; there were also some attempts at reconciling philosophy and Kabbala. It should be noted that even the traditionalist theologians adopted a careful and rather reserved attitude toward Kabbala. More
Alef, Mem, Tau: Kabbalistic Musings on Time, Truth, and Death by Elliot R. Wolfson (Taubman Lectures in Jewish Studies: University of California Press) This highly original, provocative, and poetic work explores the nexus of time, truth, and death in the symbolic world of medieval kabbalah. Demonstrating that the historical and theoretical relationship between kabbalah and western philosophy is far more intimate and extensive than any previous scholar has ever suggested, Elliot R. Wolfson draws an extraordinary range of thinkers such as Frederic Jameson, Martin Heidegger, Franz Rosenzweig, William Blake, Julia Kristeva, Friedrich Schelling, and a host of kabbalistic figures into deep conversation with one another. Alef, Mem, Tau also discusses Islamic mysticism and Buddhist thought in relation to the Jewish esoteric tradition as it opens the possibility of a temporal triumph of temporality and the conquering of time through time. More
Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics And Poetic Imagination Eliot Wolfson (Fordham University Press) This long-awaited, magisterial study—an unparalleled blend of philosophy, poetry, and philology—draws on theories of sexuality, phenomenology, comparative religion, philological writings on Kabbalah, Russian formalism, Wittgenstein, Rosenzweig, William Blake, and the very physics of the time-space continuum to establish what will surely be a highwater mark in work on Kabbalah. Not only a study of texts, Language, Eros, Being is perhaps the fullest confrontation of the body in Jewish studies, if not in religious studies as a whole. More
The Book of the Pomegranate: Moses de Leon's Sefer Ha-Rimmon by Elliot R. Wolfson (Brown Judaic Studies) The critical edition of Moses de León's Sefer ha-Rimmon was Wolfson’s Ph.D. dissertation in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University in 1984-86. This study is an edited edition of the Hebrew text with introduction only in English. The author of Sefer ha-Rimmon, Moses ben Shem Tob de León, is best known from the controversy which surrounds him concerning his assumed involvement with either the authorship or editing of the crowning work of medieval Spanish kabbalah, the Zohar. As with many classical and medieval personalities, more is known about de León's literary career than about his personal life. It is assumed that he was born circa 1240 in León and died in 1305 in Arevalo. The first dated piece of biographical information that we know of with certainty, however, is the Hebrew copy of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed which was made for him in 1264. More
Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works by Herbert A. Davidson (Oxford University Press) offers a thorough survey of the life and writings of this most influential Jewish thinker. The work gives a refreshing account of his life and influence with a close survey of all existent writings. In the process some surprising facts about his life and times come to the fore as well as some common myths are dispelled. Important for beginner and scholars alike. More
Likutei Amarim Tanya in Hebrew and English by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Kehot Publication Society) Because the Tanya is considered a 'written Torah' by Chabad Hassidim it requires, in every generation, an 'oral Torah' to accompany it and to serve as an usher and guide. Written by the great Hasidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in the late eighteenth century, the Tanya is considered to be one of the most extraordinary books of moral teachings ever written. More
Opening the Tanya: Discovering the Moral and Mystical Teachings of a Classic Work of Kabbalah by Adin Steinsaltz (Jossey-Bass) is a groundbreaking book that offers a definitive introduction, explanation, and commentary upon the Tanya. For more than two hundred years, the Tanya has been studied by those who know of its insight and wisdom with the devotion and the intensity usually associated with the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita. Now internationally acclaimed author, scholar, and teacher Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has written an illuminating and inspiring introduction to the Tanya. Opening the Tanya offers an overview of the Tanya’s broad philosophical and spiritual messages as well as point-by-point commentary on the text itself. More
Learning From the Tanya : Volume Two in the Definitive Commentary on the Moral and Mystical Teachings of a Classic Work of Kabbalah by Adin Steinsaltz (Jossey-Bass) offers a key for unlocking the mysteries of one of the most extraordinary books of moral teachings ever written. A seminal document in the study of Kabbalah, the Tanya explores and solves the dilemmas of the human soul by arriving at the root causes of its struggles. Though it is a classic Jewish spiritual text, the Tanya and its commentary take a broad and comprehensive approach that is neither specific to Judaism nor tied to a particular personality type or time or point of view. The internationally celebrated Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who has dedicated his life to the study, teaching, and writing of books that explain Jewish scripture, religious practice, spirituality, and mysticism to Jews and non-Jews throughout the world, is the author of this explanation and line-by-line commentary on the Tanya. As relevant today as it was two hundred years ago, the Tanya helps us to understand the many thousands of complexities, doubts, and drives within us as a single basic problem—the struggle between our Godly soul and our animal soul. More
Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls by Stephanie Wellen Levine (New York University Press) From the ardently religious young woman who longs for the life of a male scholar to the young rebel who visits a strip club, smokes pot, and agonizes over her loss of faith to the proud Lubavitcher with a desire for a high-powered career, Stephanie Wellen Levine provides a rare glimpse into the inner worlds and daily lives of these Hasidic girls. More
We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do by Adin Steinsaltz (Jossey-Bass) Thirteen million Jews throughout the United States and the world are famously divided and contentious about their identity, political position, social role, and spiritual goals. However, if there is one authentic voice of leadership in the Jewish community, it is scholar, teacher, mystic, scientist, and social critic Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. He is internationally regarded as one of the greatest rabbis of this century and of the last. More
On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters, and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom by Adin Steinsaltz, Arthur Kurzweil (Jossey-Bass) Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is internationally regarded as one of the most brilliant and influential rabbis of our time. He has been lauded by Time magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar” and by Ted Koppel of Night Line as “one of the very few wise men that I’ve ever met.” More
The Seven Beggars & Other Kabbalistic Tales Of Rebbe Nachman Of Breslov translated by Aryeh Rabbi Kaplan (Jewish Lights Publishing) Rebbe Nachman was a Kabbalist and a mystic, yet at the same time practical and down-to-earth. He told tales of princes and princesses, beggars and kings, demons and saints, and encouraged those around him to live life with faith, honesty, and simplicity. More
Judaism, Physics and God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World by Rabbi David W. Nelson (Jewish Lights Publishing) Hear the Voices of Ancient Wisdom in the Modern Language of Science: Ancient traditions, whose only claim to authenticity is that they are old, run the risk of becoming old-fashioned. But if an ancient tradition can claim to be not only ancient but also timeless and contemporary, it has a far greater chance of convincing each new, young generation of its value. Such a claim requires that each generation’s retelling use the new metaphors of the new generation. More
The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism by Dana Evan Kaplan (Cambridge Companions to Religion: Cambridge University Press) provides readers with a comprehensive introduction to the most important and interesting historical and contemporary facets of Judaism in America. The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism is a comprehensive survey that attempts to cover Judaism as a religion in the United States rather than Jewishness as an ethnicity in this country. The title of this volume thus requires a word of explanation. In popular usage today, Judaism usually implies a broad sociological approach to the subject of Jewish life and culture, while the term Jewish religion suggests a more specific concern with beliefs and practices that are somehow associated with a supernatural reality. Although this collection uses the more general term in its title, its focus is on American Jewish religious phenomena. It is, however, an appropriate title, I believe, because the volume's essays describe a quite inclusive Jewish religious experience in America. This includes aspects that frequently have been neglected or ignored or are understood as outside the purview of religion by a largely Christian America, which sometimes draws different and more impenetrable boundaries between the sacred and the secular. Understanding the subject in such broad terms, one can see that Jewish religion in America means much more than just religious ritual or belief. Contributors also discuss the sociology, psychology, theology, and history of American Judaism. A number of essays concentrate on the culture of American Judaism, including musical, artistic, and literary expressions. More
Early Judaism and its Modern Interpreters edited by Robert A Kraft, George W.E. Nickelsburg (The Bible and its modern interpreters: Scholars Press) This volume documents the major developments in the study of "early Judaism" (ca. 330 B.C.E. to ca. 138 C.E.) from about the mid-1940s. Because this field of investigation is not as clearly defined or as well established as the areas covered in the other volumes of this trilogy (Hebrew Bible and New Testament), we have included a lengthy introduction that discusses the field itself and current interest in it, new tools and approaches, major topics and problems, and the types of study we feel are needed in the future. The introductory essay was drafted primarily by George Nickelsburg and edited into its current form by Robert Kraft. More
The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy edited by Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy: Cambridge University Press) Influenced originally by Islamic theological speculation, classical philosophers and Christian Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, Jewish thinkers living in Islamic and Christian lands philosophized about Judaism from the ninth to fifteenth centuries. They reflected on the nature of language about God, the creation of the world, the possibility of human freedom and the relationship between divine and human law. This Companion presents major medieval Jewish thinkers in a comprehensive introduction to a vital period of Jewish intellectual history.
From Joshua to Caiaphas: High Priests After the Exile by James VanderKam (Augsburg Fortress Publishers) For a relatively thorough account of Second Temple Judaism, VanderKam’s work is likely to become a well regarded version of this seminal period in Jewish and Christian studies of origins. More
Justice Matters: Legacies of the Holocaust and World War II by Mona Sue Weissmark (Oxford University Press) In the grim litany of twentieth-century genocides, few events cut a broader and more lasting swath through humanity than the Holocaust. How then would the offspring of Nazis and survivors react to the idea of reestablishing a relationship? Could they talk to each other without open hostility? Could they even attempt to imagine the experiences and outlook of the other? Would they be willing to abandon their self-definition as aggrieved victims as a means of moving forward? More
Environment in Jewish Law: Essays and Responsa edited by Walter
Jacob, Moshe Zemer (Studies in Progressive Halakhah, 12:
Berghahn Books) Environmental concerns are at the top of the agenda
around the world. There is hardly a newscast or a newspaper that does not
mention them on a daily basis. The issues range from the changing global
climate to how those changes affect a nearly extinct owl in the forests of the
Day of Gladness: The Sabbath Among Jews and Christians in Antiquity by
Herold Weiss (
Worry: Jewish Wisdom and Folklore by Michele Klein (Jewish Publication
Society) What Jewish history and wisdom teach us about coping with worry.
Michele Klein brings her training in psychology to the notion of worry -- the normal, everyday angst that we all feel to varying degrees. She explores the ways in which Jews have experienced, expressed, and coped with it since biblical times, and right up to the post-9/11 present.
The book addresses such questions as What is worry? Why, when and how do all of us do it? Is it a "Jewish" thing? Is it avoidable, and is it all bad? How can we turn our tendency to worry into a positive force in our lives?
Not to Worry explains how Jewish tradition can teach us about psychological strength, creative thinking, and peace of mind. Klein shows how Jewish wisdom and centuries-old, finely honed coping skills -- including prayer, wisdom from the Sages, meditation, mysticism and dream interpretation, music, and humor -- can give us the courage to face a world that often appears threatening and uncertain.
The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue, Volume 1: History and Definition by Sholom Kalib (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art: Syracuse University Press) Volume set fourth a comprehensive introduction to the various forms of worship music in historical perspective. The planned five volume work will be a monument to Eastern European Jewish music and worship practice.
The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue, Volume 2: The Weekday Services by Sholom Kalib (Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art: Syracuse University Press) Provides the most comprehensive coverage to date of the intonation of prayers of all services of the Jewish calendar year, except those of the Sabbath and Biblically ordained holidays. More
Samuel David Luzzatto, Prolegomena to a Grammar of the Hebrew Language by Aaron D. Rubin (Gorgias Press) is primarily an annotated translation of a little-known Italian work about Hebrew grammar by Luzzatto. First published in 1836, Prolegomeni ad una grammatica ragionata della lingua ebraica, is perhaps the most important grammatical work of the influential Italian scholar, Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1865). Never reprinted, and never before fully translated, this long inaccessible work has become almost unknown. This book, which was intended to serve as an introduction to a comprehensive grammar of Hebrew, treats the history of Hebrew in a variety of ways. Luzzatto begins with a history of Hebrew scholarship, from Talmudic times through the early nineteenth century, including both Jewish and Christian grammarians. Following this wide-ranging survey, which has yet to be superseded, is a brief history of the Hebrew language itself, from its origins to its later manifestations. The remainder of the book is comprised of chapters on various linguistic phenomena of both Hebrew and Aramaic. Among the subjects treated are the nature of the Hebrew and Aramaic vowels (including Syriac), the development of the pointing tradition, and an important treatment of the accentual system. In each of its various chapters, the book is replete with information and innovative insight that is still valuable to the modern scholar. Moreover, in addition to the translation and copious annotations, the translator has added an appendix containing biographical sketches of the roughly 275 Hebrew scholars mentioned by Luzzatto. The book will be of great use to anyone interested in the Hebrew language and its fascinating history. More
Mishkan T'filah: The New Reform Siddur (CCAR Press) After more than twenty years in development, the CCAR will publish the Mishkan T'filah: The New Reform Siddur in the Spring of 2005. It succeeds the previous Reform prayer book The Gate of prayer.
The Mishkan T'filah Introduces a unique design based on inclusivity. Each prayer has a two page spread; the right hand page offers the traditional prayer, with elegant, faithful translation and transliteration, and the left page contains alternative prayers which can be used in place of the traditional. Beneath the liturgy are sources and commentary.
Both its liturgy and commentary celebrate the diversity of our Reform movement. Mishkan T'filah: The New Reform Siddur offers several prayer choices within each service. Its services include a broad range of inspirational material that enables the individual worshipper to locate a prayer that suits him/her self within the page spread, even while the congregation prays another. The cue for turning the page is the chatima, the concluding line of the traditional prayer, which ends each liturgical piece across the page spread.
Meditations and kavanot often lead into a prayer, and at times are designed graphically to enhance the prayer. Each prayer is written lyrically so that it can be set to music; it is hoped that much new music will be inspired by the text even as familiar musical prayers have been included.
Mishkan T'filah: The New Reform Siddur brings Reform liturgy into the twenty-first century. It embraces that which is beloved, including passages from Gates of Prayer and The Union Prayer Book. It includes new liturgy and commentary that reflect the evolving ways in which Reform Jews participate in worship and apprehend God.
Note for Users of Gates of Prayer and Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays: These titles will continue in production until three years after the publication date o. and will not be reprinted after that date.
The publication of Mishkan T'filah culminates the most extensive process undertaken in preparation for a congregational prayer book, including a multi-year research project co-sponsored by the Lilly and Cummings Foundations. This project explored how worshipers relate to the worship experience in a variety of settings, through the use of worship journals and participant-observers. From this research and an extensive critique of existing liturgies emerged the criteria underlying the creation of Mishkan T'filah
As services are completed in manuscript, congregations will be invited to participate in broad field-testing; piloting opportunities will also be arranged at rabbinic and congregational kallot and conventions, and conferences of Hillel directors, chaplains, academics, students and other groupings.
Editor: Rabbi Elyse Frishman serves Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, The Barnet
Memorial Temple in
Artist: Yori Yanover brings to the Siddur project both his design skills and
his deep knowledge of Torah study. Producer and designer of many successful
Jewish Web projects, an author and a journalist, Mr. Yanover intelligently
intertwines the lofty texts, in both Hebrew and English, with a sense of
lightness and a note of whimsy. The relationships he creates between parallel
texts is responsive not merely to function-a primary concern in a prayer
book-but also to the deeper meanings of texts in the different languages. His
comfortable lay-outs nicely complement Rabbi Frishman's work.
Since its founding in 1889, the CCAR has been the publisher of congregational prayer books for the Reform Movement, starting with the Union Prayer Book in 1895 (twice revised), and extending through Gates of Prayer in 1975. CCAR has also published guides to Jewish practice, and numerous liturgies for the Jewish home, including best-selling Passover Haggadot.
The Editorial Committee, chaired by Rabbi Peter Knobel, is broadly representative of the rabbinate and cantorate, and the fields of scholarship, education and worship transformation.
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