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Zvi Zohar
Rabbinic Creativity in the Modern Middle East
Rabbinic Creativity in the Modern Middle East provides a window for readers of English around the world into hitherto almost inaccessible halakhic and ideational writings expressing major aspects of the cultural intellectual creativity of Sephardic-Oriental rabbis in modern times. The text has three sections: Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, and each section discusses a range of original sources that reflect and represent the creativity of major rabbinic figures in these countries. The contents of the writings of these Sephardic rabbis challenge many commonly held views regarding Judaism’s responses to modern challenges. By bringing an additional, non-Western voice into the intellectual arena, this book enriches the field of contemporary discussions regarding the present and future of Judaism. In addition, it focuses attention on the fact that not only was Judaism a Middle Eastern phenomenon for most of its existence but that also in recent centuries important and interesting aspects of Judaism developed in the Middle East. Both Jews and non-Jews will be enriched and challenged by this non-Eurocentric view of modern Judaic creativity.
2013 English
Moshe Idel
Saturn’s Jews: On the Witches’ Sabbat and Sabbateanism
By Moshe Idel
This book explores the phenomenon of Saturnism, namely the belief that the planet Saturn, the seventh known planet in ancient astrology, was appointed upon the Jews, who celebrated the Sabbath, the seventh day of the Jewish week. The influences of this notoriously taciturn planet affected all aspects of Jewish life. With scholarship and a brilliant deftness, Moshe Idel guides the reader through dazzling constellations ranging from Antiquity to the modern period, showing the fertile and sometimes dangerous encounter among medieval Kabbalism, astro-magic, Muslim astrology, and European learning. He interweaves the luminaries in these fields - Ibn Ezra, Abulafia, Joseph Ashkenazi, Al-Ashqar - with the cultural, historical, religious, and philosophical concepts of their day, and explains how these cultural agents were inadvertently instrumental in the mid-17th century mass movement that led to the conviction that Sabbatai Tzevi was the Messiah.
Idel’s fresh approach explores how the tragic misperception of the Jewish Sabbath by the non-Jewish world led to a linkage of Jews with the sorcery in 14th-and 15th-century Europe, associating their holy day with the witches’ "Sabbat" gathering. The book brings this wide-ranging study into the present day, with an analysis of aspects of 20th-century scholarship and thought influenced by Saturnism, particularly lingering themes related to melancholy in the works of Gershom Scholem and Walter Benjamin.
2011 English
Yair Lorberbaum
Disempowered King
Yair Lorberbaum, senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, provides a thorough study of the concept of kingship and the powers of the king in Talmudic and biblical sources, against the backdrop of prevalent views in the Roman world. A professor at the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law, Yair Lorberbaum has also taught at Princeton, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. His previous book, Image of God: Halakhah and Aggadah, won the Goldstein-Goren Book Award.
2011 English
Avi Sagi
To Be A Jew
Contrary to the common view that the Zionist author and thinker Joseph Chayim Brenner (1881-1921) sought to disconnect the Zionist future from the Jewish past, Avi Sagi argues that Brenner wrote out of a deep Jewish commitment as he created a new conception of Jewish existence. Professor Sagi, a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, is Director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies at Bar-Ilan University. His many books include, Judaism: Between Religion and Morality, and Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd
2011 English
Israel Knohl
Messiahs and Resurrection in ‘The Gabriel Revelation’
By Israel Knohl
This book offers the first discussion of the recently discovered text "The Gabriel Revelation" – an apocalyptic text written on stone at the turn of the Common era – providing revolutionary paths to the understanding of the historical Jesus and the birth of Christianity. The book explores the formation of the conception of "catastrophic messianism" in the Gabriel Revelation. According to this conception, the death of a messianic leader and his resurrection by the angel Gabriel after three days is an essential part of the redemptive process. This conception is a new key which enables us for the first time to understand the messianic vision of the historical Jesus. This important and fascinating book will thus shed new and revolutionary light on our basic view of Christianity. Click here to watch an exclusive video interview with author Prof. Israel Knohl
2009 English
Zvi Mark
Mysticism and Madness: The Religious Thought of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
Now in English. About 200 years after R. Nachman of Bratslav’s demise, his philosophical writings and literary creation remain lively and provocative materials in both Jewish culture and the New Age movement. Something of R. Nachman’s magic and magnetic force are illuminated in this research, which presents the Bratslavian mysticism as a unique link in the history of Jewish mysticism. The mystical worldview is the axis of this book, but its branches stretch out to key issues in the Bratslavian world such as belief and imagination, dreams and the land of Israel, melodies and song. See above to order the original Hebrew edition of this classic volume.
2009 English
Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar
Transforming Identity: The Ritual Transition from Gentile to Jew – Structure and Meaning
Of all Judaic rituals, that of giyyur (conversion) is arguably the most radical: it irrevocably turns a Gentile into a Jew. The very possibility of such a transformation is anomalous, according to Jewish tradition, which regards Jewishness as an ascriptive status entered through birth to a Jewish mother. This book provides a close reading of primary halakhic texts as a key to the explication of meaning within the Judaic tradition.
2007 English
Moshe Idel
Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism
By Moshe Idel
Winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award. This book constitutes the first attempt to address the category of Sonship in Jewish mystical literature as a whole – a category more vast than ever imagined. By this survey, not only can the mystical forms of Sonship in Judaism be understood better, but the concept of Sonship in religion in general can also be enriched.
2007 English
Avi Sagi
The Open Canon: On the Meaning of Halakhic Discourse
In this groundbreaking study, Avi Sagi outlines a broad spectrum of answers to important questions presented in Jewish literature, covering theological issues bearing on the meaning of the Torah and of revelation, as well as hermeneutical questions regarding understanding of the halakhic text.
2007 English
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