The essence of that uniqueness lay in his ambiguous relationship to the Christian society in which he led his precarious existence, on the one hand influenced by all the objective forces which molded his environment, on the other, shut off from that environment by insurmountable walls of suspicion and animosity. His wilful persistence in his religious and cultural "difference" from the intolerant Christian civilization of the day, the dogmatic enmity fostered by the Church, his minority status coupled with an effective economic competition with his non-Jewish neighbors, all these combined to create an attitude of envy and hatred. For it contributed the emotion of fear, even of superstitious dread, in an age when superstition was the prevailing faith not alone of the masses, but of many of their leaders as well. Sorcery was a very real and terrifying phenomenon in those days, and many medieval Christians looked upon the Jew as the magician par excellence. The allegiance to Satan, attributed to Jews with an insistence that almost drowned out its true implication, was not merely a form of invective or rhetoric. Satan was the ultimate source of magic, which operated only by his diabolic will and connivance.
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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.
Joshua Trachtenberg served in the American rabbinate for nearly three decades. He is the author of The Devil and the Jews. He received the Israel Prize for excellence in the field of Jewish philosophy in Excerpt The author of Jewish Magic and Superstition: a Study in Folk Religion, Joshua Trachtenberg — , was a reform rabbi active on the eastern coast of the United States for most of his career. He studied at Columbia University—and this book represents an advanced form of his Ph.
Thorndike, also a Columbia scholar, was one of the readers of this book. However, it should be mentioned that a generation beforehand other rabbis contributed to the study of both magic and folklore. Gaster, was an eminent scholar with whose writings Trachtenberg was well acquainted. David Ruderman, a Reform rabbi, devoted an important study to magic in the Renaissance.
Daniel Sperber, an Orthodox rabbi, devoted many studies to magic in rabbinic literature. Mordekhai Margoliot in order to show how different the Rabbis were from their contemporaries who dealt with magic. More than in the many other fields of Jewish studies, it is in the domain of magic that the comparative approach flowered, as all the. Full access to this book and over 94, more Over 14 million journal, magazine, and newspaper articles Access to powerful writing and research tools Book details.
Jewish Magic and Superstition
Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion
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