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Of Stinging Nettles and Stones: The Use of Hagiography in Early Modern Kabbalah and Pietism

Of Stinging Nettles and Stones: The Use of Hagiography in Early Modern Kabbalah and Pietism <p>Abstract:</p><p>In one of his letters sent from Safed to Poland, R. Shlomo Shlomel Meinstral of Dresnitz reports the rather exceptional penitential exercises of Avraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi Berukhim (1515–93). Even though this particular epistle was not one of the hagiographical accounts compiled in <i>Shiv@he ha-Ari</i>, it nevertheless had a lasting impact on Jewish communities over the last four centuries. The present paper focuses on the narrative structure of the passages dealing with the life and activities of Avraham ha-Levi in the manuscript version of Shlomel’s epistle, its alterations and adaptations in early modern kabbalistic and pietistic books, and the recurrence of the very same themes and motifs in later historiographical and literary works. It illustrates the impact of the legends and exempla constructed in hagiography, showing how the predominant laudatory and edifying character of the stories fully unfolds their prescriptive potential in their later usage. In doing so, the paper demonstrates how the hagiographical materials ultimately shaped Jewish rituals and practices in the early modern period and the modern era.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Jewish Quarterly Review University of Pennsylvania Press

Of Stinging Nettles and Stones: The Use of Hagiography in Early Modern Kabbalah and Pietism

Jewish Quarterly Review , Volume 109 (4) – Oct 23, 2019

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania
ISSN
1553-0604

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>In one of his letters sent from Safed to Poland, R. Shlomo Shlomel Meinstral of Dresnitz reports the rather exceptional penitential exercises of Avraham ben Eliezer ha-Levi Berukhim (1515–93). Even though this particular epistle was not one of the hagiographical accounts compiled in <i>Shiv@he ha-Ari</i>, it nevertheless had a lasting impact on Jewish communities over the last four centuries. The present paper focuses on the narrative structure of the passages dealing with the life and activities of Avraham ha-Levi in the manuscript version of Shlomel’s epistle, its alterations and adaptations in early modern kabbalistic and pietistic books, and the recurrence of the very same themes and motifs in later historiographical and literary works. It illustrates the impact of the legends and exempla constructed in hagiography, showing how the predominant laudatory and edifying character of the stories fully unfolds their prescriptive potential in their later usage. In doing so, the paper demonstrates how the hagiographical materials ultimately shaped Jewish rituals and practices in the early modern period and the modern era.</p>

Journal

Jewish Quarterly ReviewUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Oct 23, 2019

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